Delta Queen's 12 in 12 Challenge - Part 4

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Delta Queen's 12 in 12 Challenge - Part 4

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sep 18, 2012, 3:01pm

Welcome to Part 4 for my 12 in 12 Challenge.


♫ ♫ = Audio Book

† † = E-Read Book

Redigerat: sep 18, 2012, 3:09pm

How I Rate Books:

2.0 ★: I must have been dragged, kicking and screaming, to finish this one!

2.5 ★: Below Average but I finished the book for one reason or another.

3.0 ★: Average, a solid read that I finished but can’t promise to remember

3.5 ★: Above Average, there’s room for improvement but I liked this well enough to pick up another book by this author.

4.0 ★: A very good read and I enjoyed my time spent with this story

4.5 ★: An excellent read, a book I will remember and recommend

5.0 ★: Sheer perfection, the right book at the right time for me

In order to give myself a little more flexibility in rating, I am going to be using a decimal system this year, as I find there can be quite a difference between a 3.3 book and a 3.6 book.

I am not a professional reviewer, both my ratings and reviews reflect how a book resonated with me personally.

Redigerat: sep 18, 2012, 3:08pm


1. Do You Believe In Magic? by The Loving Spoonfuls - Fantasy Books of all types from Fairy Tales to Urban to Steampunk
2. They Did the Mash, The Monter Mash by Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Cryptkickers - Books with Vampires and Zombies, etc.
3. Just Like Romeo and Juliet by The Relections - Historical Fiction Books
4. Home, Home On the Range by The Sons of the Pioneers - Books about the American West
5. Cause this is Thriller, Thriller Night by Michael Jackson - Books of Mystery and Crime
6. I Will Follow Him by Little Peggy March - Books in a Series
7. I Heard It Thru the Grapevine by Marvin Gaye - Books that have been recommended
8. I See Your True Colors by Cyndi Lauper - Non-fiction Books
9. Every Picture Tells a Story, Don't It by Rod Stewart - Graphic Novels
10. Soldier Boy, I'll be True to You by the Shirelles - Books About War and the Homefront
11. For the Very Young At Heart by Frank Sinatra - YA Books and Children's Literature
12. You Gotta Go Where You Wanna Go by the Mamas and the Papas - Books I feel like reading

and I've added a place for the monthly bonus reads

13. Calendar Girl by Neil Sedaka - Monthly Bonus Reads

Redigerat: dec 7, 2012, 4:07pm

1. Do You Believe In Magic?

1. Zoo City† † by Lauren Beukes - 3.4 ★
2. Soulless by Gail Carriger - 3.8 ★
3. The UnTied Kingdom†† by Kate Johnson - 3.3 ★
4. The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi - 4.5 ★
5. War For The Oaks by Emma Bull - 4.4 ★
6. The Goose Girl†† by Shannon Hale - 5.0 ★
7. Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie - 4.5 ★
8. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss - 4.0 ★
9. Enna Burning†† by Shannon Hale - 3.0 ★
10. Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George - 3.8 ★
11. Changeless by Gail Carriger - 4.0 ★
12. The Garden of Eve by K.L. Going - 3.1 ★



- Albert of Adelaide by Howard Anderson

Redigerat: nov 27, 2012, 12:43pm

2. The Monster Mash

Books Read

1. The Dead by Charlie Higson - 4.1 ★
2. Pale Immortal†† by Anne Frasier - 3.4 ★
3. Enclave by Ann Aguirre - 4.2 ★
4. Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry - 4.3 ★
5. The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan - 4.5 ★
6. Hollowland†† by Amanda Hocking - 2.0 ★
7. The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro & Chuck Hogan - 4.0 ★
8. Tooth And Nail†† by Craig DiLouie - 3.5 ★
9. Breed by Chase Novak - 4.1 ★
10. Apocalypse of the Dead by Joe McKinney - 3.8 ★
11. Dracula†† by Bram Stoker - 4.5 ★
12. Feed by Mira Grant - 3.0 ★



- Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell - 4.1 ★

Redigerat: dec 21, 2012, 7:02pm

3. Just Like Romeo and Juliet

1. Seven Days In June by Howard Fast - 3.6 ★
2. Island of Ghosts by Gillian Bradshaw - 4.2 ★
3. Shadow Valley†† by Stephen Barnes - 4.6 ★
4. Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin - 5.0 ★
5. The Running Vixen by Elizabeth Chadwick - 4.0 ★
6. The White Russian by Tom Bradby - 4.5 ★
7. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel - 4.5 ★
8. The Seeing Stone by Kevin Crossley-Holland - 4.3 ★
9. The Legate's Daughter by Wallace Breem - 3.9 ★
10. At The Crossing Places by Kevin Crossley-Holland - 3.1 ★
11. The Land of Summer by Charlotte Bingham - 1.5 ★
12. The Grand Sophy†† by Georgette Heyer - 4.5 ★



- The Mystic Rose by Stephen Lawhead - 3.0 ★
- A Tale of Two Cities†† by Charles Dickens - 4.2 ★
- The Leopard Unleashed by Elziabeth Chadwick - 4.1 ★

Redigerat: nov 5, 2012, 11:29pm

4. Home, Home on the Range


1. Cheyenne Autumn by Mari Sandoz - 4.2 ★
2. Where the Buffalo Roam by Michael Zimmer - 3.6 ★
3. Down the Long Hills†† by Louis L'Amour - 3.7 ★
4. The Holy Road by Michael Blake - 4.3 ★
5. Hombre†† by Elmore Leonard - 3.7 ★
6. Fearless: A Novel of Sarah Bowman by Lucia St Clair Robson - 4.2 ★
7. The Ox-Bow Incident by Walter van Tilburg Clark - 4.5 ★
8. Stone Song: A Novel of the Life of Crazy Horse by Win Blevins - 5.0 ★
9. Resolution†† by Robert B Parker - 4.0 ★
10. Doc by Mary Doria Russell - 5.0 ★
11. War Party by Louis L'Amour - 3.6 ★
12. The Chili Queen by Sandra Dallas - 4.3 ★


Redigerat: dec 4, 2012, 6:51pm

5. Thriller Night

1. Nemesis † † by Agatha Christie - 3.6 ★
2. Iron House † † by John Hart - 4.2 ★
3. Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran - 3.8 ★
4. Christine Falls by Benjamin Black - 3.2 ★
5. Don't Look Back by Karin Fossum - 3.7 ★
6. Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn - 3.3 ★
7. The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths - 4.2 ★
8. Venice Noir edited by Maxim Jakubowski - 3.7 ★
9. The Black Angel by Cornell Woolrich - 4.0 ★
10. Murder on the Links†† by Agatha Christie - 4.0 ★
11. The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith - 4.1 ★
12. One Grave Too Many by Beverly Connor - 3.1 ★



- The Water's Lovely by Ruth Rendell - 3.2 ★

Redigerat: dec 30, 2012, 2:26pm

6. I Will Follow Him


1. Boundary Waters by William Kent Krueger - 4.0 ★
2. Unnatural Death by Dorothy Sayers - 3.7 ★
3. Remember Me, Irene by Jan Burke - 3.2 ★
4. One Under by Graham Hurley - 4.0 ★
5. All Shall Be Well by Deborah Crombie - 3.7 ★
6. Dead Man's Footsteps by Peter James - 4.3 ★
7. Playing With Bones by Kate Ellis - 4.3 ★
8. King of the Streets by John Baker - 4.3 ★
9. A Shilling For Candles by Josephine Tey - 4.0 ★
10. Bad Boy by Peter Robinson - 4.3 ★
11. A Superior Death♫♫ by Nevada Barr - 3.6 ★
12. Dark Blood by Stuart MacBride - 4.4 ★

***** COMPLETED *****


- A Killing Frost by R.D. Wingfield - 4.6 ★

Redigerat: nov 24, 2012, 3:05pm

7. Heard It Thru the Grapevine


1. Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh - 5.0 ★
2. The Peacock Spring by Rumer Godden - 4.5 ★
3. The Night Following by Morag Joss - 4.8 ★
4. David Copperfield†† by Charles Dickens - 4.3 ★
5. Lennox by Craig Russell - 4.2 ★
6. Revolution†† by Jennifer Donnelly - 3.7 ★
7. Box Nine by Jack O'Connell - 4.3 ★
8. The High Crusade by Poul Anderson - 4.1 ★
9. A Cafe on the Nile by Bartle Bull - 4.5 ★
10. Perdido Street Station by China Mieville - 4.7 ★
11. The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel by Maureen Lindley - 3.8 ★
12. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline - 5.0 ★

Redigerat: nov 9, 2012, 1:51pm

8. True Colors


1. Skeletons On The Zahara by Dean King - 4.5 ★
2. When the Astors Owned New York by Justin Kaplan - 3.2 ★
3. Jeannie: A Love Story by Derek Tangye - 3.4 ★
4. The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance & Survival by John Vaillant - 4.4 ★
5. The Devil in the White City by Erik Larsen - 5.0 ★
6. Life ♫♫ by Keith Richards - 5.0 ★
7. Sixpence House by Paul Collins - 2.8 ★
8. 22 Accessible Road Trips by Candy Harrington - 4.0 ★
9. Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak - 4.0 ★
10. Fashions of a Decade: 1950s by Patricia Baker - 3.4 ★
11. We Band of Angels by Elizabeth M. Norman - 5.0 ★
12. Zarafa: A Giraffe's True Story by Michael Allin - 3.6 ★


Redigerat: okt 31, 2012, 6:03pm

9. Every Picture Tells A Story


1. Sweet Tooth Vol. 2: In Captivity by Jeff Lemire - 3.6 ★
2. The Sandman Vol 1: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman - 4.2 ★
3. Blankets by Craig Thompson - 5.0 ★
4. Fables Vol 1: Legends In Exile by Bill Willingham - 3.6 ★
5. Hatter M: Volume 1: The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor - 3.3 ★
6. A Sickness In the Family by Denise Mina - 4.2 ★
7. Emma, Vol 1 by Kaoru Mori - 3.6 ★
8. Sweet Tooth Vol 3: Animal Armies by Jeff Lemire - 4.0 ★
9. Aya by Marguerite Abouet - 3.7 ★
10.French Milk by Lucy Knisley - 3.4 ★
11.Swiss Family Robinson by Richard Blandford(Campfire Graphics) - 3.5 ★
12. Northlanders Vol. 1: Sven the Returned by Brian Wood & Davide Gianfelice - 3.6 ★


Redigerat: dec 14, 2012, 5:16pm

10. Soldier Boy


1. The Last Sunrise by Robert Ryan - 4.1 ★
2. The Spies of Warsaw by Alan Furst - 4.6 ★
3. Calico Captive by Elizabeth George Speare - 3.4 ★
4. The Moon Is Down♫♫ by John Steinbeck - 5.0 ★
5. Blue Skies & Gunfire by K.M. Peyton - 3.4 ★
6. Remembrance by Theresa Breslin - 4.1 ★
7. The Lotus Eaters†† by Tatjana Soli - 4.2 ★
8. Harp of Burma by Michio Takeyama - 4.2 ★
9. The Heart of the Family by Annie Groves - 3.8 ★
10. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien - 4.3 ★
11. Burma Boy by Biyi Bandele - 4.1 ★
12. Henrietta's War†† by Joyce Dennys - 4.0 ★



- Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene - 3.8 ★
- Island Madness by Tim Binding - 4.1 ★

Redigerat: dec 19, 2012, 11:53pm

11. The Young At Heart

1. The Thirteen Treasures by Michelle Harrison - 3.4 ★
2. Chinese Cinderella by Adeline Yen Mah - 3.5 ★
3. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray - 4.0 ★
4. Yesterday's Dead by Pat Bourke - 4.0 ★
5. The Dead and the Gone†† by Susan Beth Pfeffer - 4.1 ★
6. Divergent by Veronica Roth - 5.0 ★
7. The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner - 3.5 ★
8. Mr. Monster by Dan Wells - 3.7 ★
9. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm†† by Kate Douglas Wiggin - 3.0 ★
10. Forge by Leslie Halse Anderson - 4.1 ★
11. Watching Jimmy by Nancy Hartry - 4.0 ★
12. This World We Live In†† by Susan Beth Pfeffer - 3.8 ★

***** COMPLETED *****


- The Giver†† by Lois Lowry - 4.2 ★
- Call of the Wild†† by Jack London - 4.1 ★

Redigerat: dec 15, 2012, 9:42pm

12. Go Where You Wanna Go


1. Mrs. Mike by Benedict Freedman - 4.3 ★
2. The Things That Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley - 3.7 ★
3. Great Expectations †† by Charles Dickens - 3.6 ★
4. Countdown by Deborah Wiles - 4.3 ★
5. Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon - 3.7 ★
6. Marcelo In the Real World by Francisco X. Stork - 4.7 ★
7. Warrior Daughter by Janet Paisley - 3.2 ★
8. River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh - 5.0 ★
9. The Cotton Queen by Pamela Morsi - 3.8 ★
10. The Pearl by John Steinbeck - 4.0 ★
11. Faithful Place by Tana French - 5.0 ★
12. Land of a Hundred Wonders by Lesley Kagen - 3.7 ★

***** COMPLETED *****


- The Last Trail†† by Zane Grey - 3.6 ★
- The Christmas Chronicles by Tim Slover - 4.0 ★
- Life of Pi by Yann Martel - 5.0 ★

Redigerat: dec 12, 2012, 6:23pm

13. Calender Girl - A Bonus Challenge


1. A Free Man of Color by Barbara Hambly (Monthly Challenge - January) - 3.3 ★
2. White Nights by Anne Cleeves (Monthly Challenge - February) - 4.2 ★
3. Two Corinthians†† by Carola Dunn (Monthly Challenge - February) - 3.5 ★
4. March by Geraldine Brooks (Monthly Challenge - March) - 5.0 ★
5. Lazybones by Mark Billingham (Monthly Challenge - March) - 4.0 ★
6. April In Paris by Michael Wallner (Monthly Challenge - April) - 3.6 ★
7. Rose In Bloom†† by Lousia May Alcott (Monthly Challenge - May) - 3.2 ★
8. Trust Nobody by June Hampson (Monthly Challenge - June) - 3.8 ★
9. Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier (Monthly Challenge - July) - 3.9 ★
10. Tall Poppies by Louise Bagshawe (Monthly Challenge - August) - 3.1 ★
11. The 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation by Sid Jacobson - 4.5 ★
12. October Skies by Alex Scarrow - 3.5 ★

***** COMPLETED *****


- Journey To Topaz by Yoshiko Uchida - 3.7 ★
- The Christmas Mouse†† by Miss Read - 4.0 ★
- No Holly For Miss Quinn†† by Miss Read - 4.0 ★

sep 18, 2012, 4:36pm

Oooh, I'm first in the shiny new 4th thread! Looks like you're moving along with your challenge, and I admire that you space your reading out evenly among each category.

sep 18, 2012, 7:41pm

Me too - I tend to clump my reading together.

sep 18, 2012, 9:40pm

Welcome, ladies. I try really hard to keep my reading spaced out, although sometimes my love of mysteries gets carried away. I am really looking forward to next year when I have 5 categories just for mysteries.

sep 18, 2012, 9:44pm

120. At The Crossing Places by Kevin Crossley-Holland - 3.1 ★
Category: Just Like Romeo & Juliet

At the Crossing Places by Kevin Crossley-Holland is the second book in his Arthur Trilogy, this is set in the middle ages but through the use of a seeing stone, flashes back onto the time of King Arthur.

I wasn’t taken with this book as much as the first, the jumping back and forth in time seemed forced and too pat as whatever the Middle Ages Arthur was experiencing, he saw King Arthur‘s version of the same problem in the stone.. As this second book opens, the Middle Ages Arthur is now ensconced at Holt Castle as squire to Sir Stephen and preparing to leave on Crusade. He has learned that the man he thought of as his uncle is really his father, and the girl he had wanted to marry is actually is half-sister. Meanwhile, Arthur in the stone has grown into his kingship, married Guinevere, formed the round table and is gathering his knights together.

What I found most interesting about this book was the many and varied descriptions of life in the middle ages for all classes. The descriptions of Arthur learning to be both squire and training to be an eventual knight were informative and well researched. The two stories didn’t seem to entwine as well in this book, with Middle Ages Arthur mostly just learning life lessons from the seeing stone, and the King Arthur part of the story didn’t seem to offer anything new, mostly just reworked stories from the original legend.

This story is unique, but I just didn’t have the patience to overlook the flaws and there is some doubt now that I will continue onto the third book.

sep 18, 2012, 11:04pm

Wow Judy.... you have done an amazing job balancing your category reading. Nice!

sep 19, 2012, 9:01am

I read and enjoyed the first volume of the Arthur trilogy a while back, but never got round to At the Crossing Places - sounds like it's not one to hurry to! I've met Kevin Crossley Holland and indeed sat next to him at a celebration dinner - he's an interesting character and has done a lot of retellings of myths and legends very well, but perhaps he does not show to his greatest strength in this trilogy seeking to weave together a new story with the Arthur myth.

sep 19, 2012, 12:23pm

I hadn't noticed before, but I too admire your symmetry. :)

I put the trilogy on my wishlist when you read The Seeing Stone, but I might skip it. Or does The Seeing Stone have a semi-closed ending so one could read only that one?

sep 19, 2012, 2:01pm

#21 - Hi Lori, I haven't varied by categories by much over the years, playing it pretty safe. I actually have a couple of categories planned for next year that gives me a little more of a challenge. I am at the point where this year's challenge is dragging a little. I guess I am just ready to be on to the next thing!

#22 & 23 - Genny and Eva, I am wondering how much my particular mood while reading these books has affected my reviews. I loved the first book, while I really struggled with the second. I don't really understand why as they are quite similar, and fairly well done. I think I owe it to myself and the author to continue on with the third book at some point just to clarify my thoughts. Eva, have you read Gatty's Tale, it's been highly recommended and Gatty is a character in the Arthur books. If you haven't read it, maybe give it a try instead of the trilogy. I haven't read Gatty's Tale yet but I plan on getting to it eventually. Of course you could try The Seeing Stone and just see whether you wish to continue on with the series or not.

sep 19, 2012, 4:19pm

Sometimes the intermediate book in a trilogy is slumping because the story arc is building up to a climax at the end - hopefully that's what it is in this case! I am interested in the topic, so Seeing Stone is staying on the wishlist.

sep 20, 2012, 1:09am

121. Sweet Tooth Vol 3: Animal Armies by Jeff Lemire - 4.0 ★
Category: Every Picture Tells A Story

I am a big Jeff Lemire fan and the Sweet Tooth series is only adding to my admiration of his work. This series is set in a post-apocalyptic world, where the introduction of animal-human hybrids after a world-wide pandemic is looked upon as a shameful thing. Some want to destroy these creatures, scientists want to conduct experiments upon them, some like to hunt them, most people shun and ignore them. We follow the story of the hybrid Gus, and the haunted, lonely human, Jeppard. In this volume Jeppard and his two lady friends gather an army to overcome the militia in order to save Gus and the other imprisoned hybrids. Gus and Jeppard have been having similar dreams which is leading us to believe there is a strong connection between them.

These books have a definite dark side as Jeff Lemire explores the human psyche and exposes the evil, dark side of our nature. Even the hybrids can have a dark and evil side as he unveils a character who has trained his five hybrid sons to attack and eat both humans and other hybrids. Although it has it’s disturbing moments, overall, the story pulls the reader in and it's definitely luring me on to the next book.

sep 20, 2012, 1:36pm

I've seen that series around, but the cover made it look a little too jokey for my taste - however, juxtapositioned with a darker side, that could result in something quite interesting - on the wishlist it goes!

sep 20, 2012, 8:23pm

I hope you like the Sweet Tooth series, Eva.

sep 21, 2012, 1:38pm

122. The Pearl by John Steinbeck - 4.0 ★
Category: Go Where You Wanna Go
Steinbeck In September

John Steinbeck’s The Pearl tells the story of a young Mexican couple, Kino and Juna who, although poor, live a simple but happy life with each other and their baby, Coyotito. Kino is a pearl diver and when upon a dive he discovers “the pearl of the world” their lives change forever. Expecting to receive great wealth and a better way of life from this pearl, the little family discovers only misery and death.

This very short story packs a powerful punch. Steinbeck writes in a simple almost terse style and yet he is able to touch the readers emotions as the story unfolds. Feeling all the emotions that Kino and Juana are going through makes this story come alive. Not a terribly happy tale, but this rather morose tale of sorrow, loss, and redemption has definite value, even though I admit it left me feeling slightly depressed at the futility of their lives.

sep 21, 2012, 7:15pm

This very short story packs a powerful punch.

I have managed to avoid Steinbeck but a short book might be the way to see if I should continue my aversion of his works!

sep 22, 2012, 3:50pm

Lori, I think that is a very good idea. One of my all time favorites of his is Of Mice and Men which is also very short, and would be an excellent introduction to his work.

sep 22, 2012, 5:47pm

123. Faithful Place by Tana French - 5.0 ★
Category: Go Where You Wanna Go

Tana French has a great series going with the loosely connected Dublin Murder Squad books. Faithful Place is the third book in this series, and is my favorite so far. Built around a poisonous family and spanning over twenty years, Frank MacKey’s story is a powerful one.

In 1985 Frank and his girlfriend plan on running away together to build a new life away from their families. On the night they were to meet however, Rosie doesn’t show and Frank spends the next twenty years believing that she dumped him and left on her own. Frank never went home again, instead built himself a new life as a undercover cop as far from his dysfunctional family as he could get. Then he receives a phone call from his sister telling him that Rosie’s suitcase has been found stashed in a fireplace in a derelict house on their street. Suddenly Frank finds himself going home, facing his family and his past.

Although I figured out who the murderer was very quickly, I was still spellbound by this story. French’s writing, especially her dialogue is very real, sharp and observant. At times downright funny and at others hurtful as only family members can be to each other. Frank MacKey is a brilliant character, tough, strong, sarcastic yet also vulnerable, damaged and downright romantic. Faithful Place is so much more that a murder mystery, it a very “Irish” book with it’s unclouded, gritty look at the working class and their struggle for identity and purpose. It is also a personal drama with it’s close look at the lasting damage family can inflict upon each other.

sep 22, 2012, 6:59pm

I need to get back to Tana French's series. I liked the first one. I need to read the second. One of our English professors asked me the other day if we had the latest one yet. (We did.) He'd discovered her this summer when he was reading books with Irish settings after leading a group of students over there. He's reading the 3rd one now and wants to get to the 4th one soon. He's really enjoyed her work.

sep 23, 2012, 6:27pm

>26 DeltaQueen50: You raised my interest in Sweet Tooth last year (or so) - not to mention in Lemire in the first place. I think this series sounds intriguing, and I'll surely check it out sometime. Next year, most of my GN space for the challenge seems to get swallowed up by the Sandman group read...

Also glad to see someone else hopping in for Steinbeck september! I think Pete was getting lonely over there :) (Me, I'll join as soon as our damn books are shelved again. Right now I have no idea where anything is, except for the "summer batch" i picked out before we moved).

sep 23, 2012, 6:28pm

HI, Judy! I'm just getting to your nice new thread! You're doing really well with this challenge.

sep 24, 2012, 7:20am

I was wondering if people were going to join in at one point ;-)

sep 24, 2012, 5:44pm

Faithful Place is my favorite as well! They're all good, but that one just hit all the right spots, character-wise and locale-wise. I have Broken Harbor waiting, but haven't gotten to it yet. Maybe I'll hold off until Thanksgiving or something so I'll have time to read the whole thing in one sitting. :)

sep 24, 2012, 6:10pm

I have The Likeness on my shelf, but am waiting until I find #1 before I start the series.

sep 24, 2012, 7:26pm

#33 - Hi Lori, I don't have Broken Harbour yet, but believe me, it's been moved to the top of my wishlist.

#34 - Hi Anders, I hope you are feeling better. I am enjoying the Sweet Tooth series, but I will be pretty tied up next year with the Sandman books as well. But the good thing about graphics is that they can be tucked in here and there as a quick read so I will hopefully find some time for a few others.

#35 - Hi Terri, I can actually see the end of the challenge coming into sight. I will probably finish up in November, which will give me the month of December for free reads until the 2013 challenge kicks off in January.

#36 - I wish I had remembered about Steinbeck in September a little earlier and been able to squeeze in a couple more of his. I was originally planning on reading Travels With Charley. He is one of my favorite authors with Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men being top favorites.

#37 - Broken Harbour for Thanksgiving sounds like a good plan, Eva.

#38 - Betty, I hope you find a copy of In The Woods soon, it is a great series.

sep 24, 2012, 10:47pm

124. The Land of Summer by Charlotte Bingham - 1.5 ★
Category: Romeo & Juliet
Reading Through Time: September Theme - Seasons

I came very close to abandoning The Land of Summer by Charlotte Bingham but felt that I should see it through as I have read this author before and usually enjoy her work. Unfortunately, I should have listened to my inner voice that was saying “Give up!”. This gothic style romance never really rang true to me, and I ended up quite disappointed with the book.

Emmaline was quite taken with Julius when she met him at a dance and he saved her from being a wallflower. They met one more time before he left to return to England. Soon Emmaline was following him as her father announced that Julius Aubrey had requested her hand in marriage.

From the minute of her arrival things were off in the Aubrey’s marriage. I found the whole premise rather over done and silly. Too many secrets being kept that made no sense other than to create drama in the book. A poorly written, weak plot peopled with unbelievable characters. Honestly the best thing about this book is the cover, which really has no connection to the story at all. I’m giving this one a one star rating for the cover and adding another half a star because there were a couple of servants that I didn’t mind. My advice, admire the cover but pass on this book.

sep 25, 2012, 6:16am

Shame you had to follow up a stellar read with a stinker. I hope the next one is better for you.

sep 25, 2012, 2:19pm

Extra disappointing too when it's supposed to be a "safe" author whose work you normally like! Well, can only go up from here, I suppose. :)

sep 25, 2012, 9:33pm

Well darn on The Land of Summer. Thanks for taking that book bullet for the team and sparing us the struggle.

sep 26, 2012, 6:15pm

...taking that book bullet for the team... is a wonderful way of putting it! LT is the only place that can make you feel like a hero for reading a crappy book :)

Just read a few posts that I had lingering over at your third thread, DQ. Breed sounds like fun, great review!

sep 26, 2012, 10:05pm

#41- Hi Dave, of the two books I am reading right now, one is definitely in the stellar category (Cafe on the Nile), and the other is keeping my attention glued to the page (Apocalypse of the Dead). That's the great thing about reading, another good book is always just around the corner!

#42 - You are so right, Eva. Hopefully this was the one bad one in her bunch, especially as I have more of her works on my shelf!

#43 - You are most welcome, Lori. :)

#44 - Hi Anders,Breed was a fun read, for a horror story.

Redigerat: sep 27, 2012, 2:36pm

125. A Cafe on the Nile by Bartle Bull - 4.5 ★
Category: Heard It Thru the Grapevine - Benita (benitastrnad) & Mark (msf59)

A Café on the Nile by Bartle Bull is a rollicking adventure story filled with colourful characters in the exotic settings of Cairo and Ethiopia. The second in his African Trilogy, we are reconnected to many familiar characters from the first book. The timing is now 1935 and Cairo a city that mixes people from many nationalities and political standpoints. Anton Rider has just arrived to pick up his newest clients for a safari and also to visit his sons and estranged wife, Gwen, who are living in Cairo while Gwen trains to be a doctor. The place to meet in Cairo is the Cataract Café, which is run by none other than Olivio Alevado, the extremely clever dwarf. Still incredibly loyal to his friends he has plans to make them all rich.

Broader in scope than The White Rhino Hotel, with it’s backdrop of war as the Italians invade Ethiopia, A Café on the Nile is much more action driven than the first book. Following several plotlines, the story twists and turns continuously. As the reader is drawn into the book, the action gears up and by the end of the book we are left breathless from these daring exploits.

Completely entertaining this rip-roaring yarn has romance, excitement, adventure and violence to spare. I thoroughly enjoyed my tine with this book and look forward to completing the trilogy.

sep 27, 2012, 8:22pm

I wish I could have joined in the Steinbeck group read but I had too many other TBRs for September. I recall reading The Pearl way back in high school and liking it then. It's probably time for a reread of this classic.

sep 27, 2012, 10:51pm

Hi Paulina, I sort of forget about the Steinbeck group read as well. I then settled on a short Steinbeck as there wasn't time to fit a longer one in.

sep 29, 2012, 1:43pm

126. Apocalypse of the Dead by Joe McKinney - 3.8 ★
Category: Monster Mash

The 2nd book in a zombie trilogy, Apocalypse of the Dead by Joe McKinney is a non-stop thriller. The first book dealt with the early rise of the infection and took place over one night. This book picks up a couple of years later. America has built a wall isolating southern Texas and believes they have contained the infectious. Unfortunately with two thousand miles of coastline to patrol, one small boat of refugees easily evades the coast guard and would have made it safely to Florida, except one passenger was infected. By the time the boat drifted ashore, all on the boat had turned into zombie-like creatures. The virus spreads at lightning speed, and soon there is world-wide infection.

The story follows various groups of people as their day-to-day lives collapse and they try to find a place of safety. Eventually these refugees are drawn to the North Dakota Grasslands to find a new life under the banner of a self-appointed preacher. But are they safe or have they instead put their lives in the hands of a madman?

In true horror style, Apocalypse of the Dead is gory, gruesome and gritty. A fast paced story peopled with a variety of interesting characters. What I actually found the most chilling about this book, however, wasn’t the actual zombies, but the failure of authorities and governments in dealing with a massive epidemic. Now that is truly the stuff of nightmares.

Redigerat: okt 2, 2012, 2:23pm

127. A Superior Death ♫♫ by Nevada Barr - 3.6 ★
Category: I Will Follow Him

A Superior Death by Nevada Barr is the second in the Anna Pigeon series. Anna is a National Park Ranger and in this book she is stationed at Isle Royale National Park, located off the coast of Michigan on Lake Superior.

These mysteries are light reading but give you the illusion of visiting a National Park which is the number one reason why I enjoy these books. Because Isle Royale is a well known deep-water dive site, with many famous wrecks nearby, the mystery involves diving the frigid waters of Lake Superior. Anna herself is a very likeable character whose internal dialogue is often amusing and shows her to be a sensible, straight forward kind of gal. The setting is well described and the mystery was just tantalizing enough to keep my attention.

A quick read but rewarding in it’s description of this wilderness park along with it’s native flora and fauna. I will certainly be following Anna Pigeon to her next posting.

okt 1, 2012, 8:41am

When I read A Superior Death I wanted to go to Isle Royale. I still haven't made it there, but I still want to go.

okt 1, 2012, 3:51pm

Hi Lori, I know, her place descriptions are really well done. I want to go there too!

Redigerat: okt 1, 2012, 4:03pm


Total Books Read for Challenge YTD = 127

Category Information:

1. Do You Believe In Magic

- Books Read - 9
- Favorite Read YTD - The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
- Average Rating for Category - 3.98
- Authors Ratio Male:Female - 3:6

2. Monster Mash

- Books Read - 10
- Favorite Read YTD - The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan
- Average Rating for Category - 3.79
- Authors Ratio Male:Female - 7:3

3. Just Like Romeo & Juliet

- Books Read - 11
- Favorite Read YTD - Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin
- Average Rating for Category - 3.93
- Authors Ratio Male:Female - 6:5

4. Home, Home On The Range

- Books Read - 9
- Favorite Read YTD - Stone Song: A Novel of the Life of Crazy Horse by Win Bevins
- Average Rating for Category: 4.12
- Authors Ratio Male:Female - 7:2

5. Thriller Night

- Books Read - 10
- Favorite Read YTD - The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths
- Average Rating for Category - 3.77
- Authors Ratio Male:Female - 4:6

6. I Will Follow Him

- Books Read - 11
- Favorite Read YTD - A four way tie:
Dead Man's Footsteps by Peter James
Playing With Bones by Kate Ellis
King of the Streets by John Baker
Bad Boy by Peter Robinson
- Average Rating for Category - 3.94
- Authors Ratio Male:Female 5:6

7. Heard It Thru the Grapevine

- Books Read - 9
- Favorite Read YTD - Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
- Average Rating for Category - 4.38
- Authors Ratio Male:Female - 6:3

8. True Colors

- Books Read - 9
- Favorite Read YTD - Life by Keith Richards
The Devil in The White City by Eric Larson
- Average Rating for Category: 4.03
- Authors Ratio Male:Female - 7:2

9. Every Picture Tells A Story

- Books Read - 8
- Favorite Read YTD - Blankets by Craig Thompson
- Average Rating for Category - 3.94
- Authors Ratio Male:Female - 6:2

10. Soldier Boy

- Books Read - 9
- Favorite Read YTD - The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck
- Average Rating for Category - 4.09
- Authors Ratio Male:Female - 4:5

11. Young At Heart

- Books Read - 10
- Favorite Book YRD - Divergent by Veronica Roth
- Average Rating for Category - 3.82
- Authors Ratio Male:Female - 1:9

12. Go Where You Wanna Go

- Books Read - 11
- Favorite Read YTD - River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh
Faithful Place by Tana French
- Average Rating for Category - 4.12
- Authors Ratio Male:Female - 6:5

13. Calendar Girl - Bonus Monthly Category

- Books Read - 11
- Favorite Read YTD - 9/11 Report: A Graphic Adaptation by Sid Jacobson
- Average Rating for Category - 3.77
- Authors Ratio Male:Female - 3:8

okt 1, 2012, 4:18pm

Still a nice, even spread among the categories, I see - very nice!! :) YTD = 127 = very well done!

okt 2, 2012, 2:17pm

Thanks Eva, I do believe that this month will actually see the completion of some of my categories!

okt 2, 2012, 2:22pm

128. Watching Jimmy by Nancy Hartry - 4.0 ★
Category: Young At Heart

Watching Jimmy by Nancy Hartry is a heart-felt story of one little girls’ love, concern and caring. Carolyn and Jimmy are very close friends and neighbours, in fact, Carolyn spends a lot of time at Jimmy’s while her mother works shifts. Jimmy’s Uncle Ted visits once a week, and Carolyn knows that Ted is not the nice man every one thinks he is. One day, Uncle Ted decides to teach Jimmy a lesson, leaving Jimmy changed forever. Ted tells everyone that Jimmy fell from the swings and hit his head. Carolyn knows different, she saw what Ted did to Jimmy.

This moving story is told through the words of this brave, resilient little girl who makes it her mission to now protect Jimmy from danger, ridicule and mostly from Ted. Set in the 1950’s when life was pretty black and white for single mothers, this story of both Carolyn and Jimmy’s mothers rings true. Carolyn, ever watchful but scared to tell the truth, eventually finds the courage to expose Ted for the monster that he is.

Watching Jimmy has won quite a few awards, including The Canadian Library Association’s Book of the Year for Children. I strongly agree that children need to be taught about both physical and mental abuse. I would, however, like to think that this book would be best suited for group reading and discussion. Watching Jimmy is a powerful story dealing as it does with such dark issues as abuse and brain damage, and, one that I think would be best suited for Grades 6 and up.

okt 2, 2012, 4:44pm

Watching Jimmy sounds fascinating, but it's not going on the wishlist - I'm getting a stomachache just reading your review. :( *thumbing!*

okt 2, 2012, 5:49pm

Hi Eva, it's definitely "that" kind of book. I have to admit I spend most of my reading time pondering whether I approved of this book for children. I finally decided a guarded yes, but would sure hope a kid would have a discussion group to go along with these very adult themes.

okt 2, 2012, 9:33pm

Adding my thumb for your review of Watching Jimmy Judy. Sounds like quite the powerful read, considering it appears to be geared towards a younger reading audience (not adults like me).

okt 3, 2012, 9:44pm

#59 - Hi Lori, thanks for the thumb!

Redigerat: okt 3, 2012, 9:52pm

129. Doc by Mary Doria Russell - 5.0 ★
Category: Home on the Range

Separating the man from the legend, Mary Doria Russell’s Doc is an extraordinary read about John Henry Holliday, better known as Doc Holliday. This book kept me glued to its pages for days. Taking the information that is known, she builds a story that rings with conviction and passion. The plot is concentrated mostly over the year of 1878, the year Holliday met the Earps, and with the part-time prostitute who was often by his side, Kate Harony, lived in the notorious Dodge City, Kansas.

First and foremost, this is a story of loyalty and friendship. The care and camaraderie between the Earps and Doc Holliday is exceptional. As Morgan once states about Doc, “He didn’t have any brothers of his own, so we took him as one of ours.” The contrast between Wyatt Earp, a masculine, strong and willful man to the frail, weak, slowly dying Holliday is beautifully drawn and highlights the charismatic nature of both men.

This is far from a rip-roaring, lead pumping western. Doc is a beautifully drawn, character-driven story that is told with wit and skill. A secondary plotline featuring the murder of a coloured boy, helps to define the nature of these interesting men and, brings us a clear, sharp picture of the dirty politics that were behind the way Dodge City was being run.

I found Doc to be a deeply moving story, and one that I will remember for a long, long time. Highly recommended.

okt 3, 2012, 11:55pm

You write a beautiful review.

okt 4, 2012, 5:55am

great review and another prompt for doc already took the book bullet on that but this moves it closer...

okt 4, 2012, 6:01am

Not sure that I'll ever pick it up but have a thumb for another great review.

okt 4, 2012, 7:18am

Yep great review... I keep forgetting to add it to my wishlist but you have reminded me again!

okt 4, 2012, 8:22am

It's official. You have a Hot Review!

okt 4, 2012, 11:47am

I've thought this sounded interesting ever since I heard the author discussing it on NPR even though I'm not usually a western or biography fan. Your review makes me think I definitely would like this and I'm going to take a BB and add it to my WL.

okt 4, 2012, 4:52pm

I'm not a huge Western reader either, but Doc seems to become a favorite of everyone who reads it. Looking forward to giving it a try myself!

okt 4, 2012, 9:50pm

#62 - Thanks so much, I tried to take particular care with this review as I loved the book so much.

#63 - It took me awhile to get around to reading it as well, I am always suspicious when a book appears to get a favorable review from just about everyone, but believe me, in this case it deserves it's high marks.

#64 - Thanks, Wolfy!

#65 - I'll be looking forward to seeing what you think of it, Claire.

#66 - Hi Trisha, it was a nice surprise when I saw I had a "hot review" this morning. It's funny I was actually looking to see if Stephen's (Ape) very funny review made the "hot" list - it did.

#67 - Hi Betty, this was my first book by Mary Doria Russell, but I have been advised that she has some other great books, and I am now looking forward to my next book by her.

#68 - Eva, I think you will love Doc - I hope I am more reliable that LT's indicator!!

okt 4, 2012, 9:56pm

130. Aya by Marguerite Abouet - 3.7 ★
Category: Every Picture Tells A Story

Aya by Marguerite Abouet is a simple, non-political story of young girls living in the Ivory Coast of the late 1970’s. This was a time of relative prosperity and peace, and the story reflects the carefree and simple life as we follow the three main characters and their families who live in the working class neighbourhood of “Yop City”. These three girls are long time friends and now, at age nineteen they stand on the brink of womanhood and can see their lives changing. Aya, wants to make a difference and become a doctor. She studies hard and tries to avoid the complication of having a boyfriend. Her two friends, Adjoua and Bintou know they are at the peak of their beauty and are interested in dancing, having a good time and, most of all boys.

This isn’t a book about war-torn, strife ridden Africa but rather, the author appears to be stressing the similarity of these teen’s live with teens around the world. The author introduces various characters, from studious Aya, her easy-going friends, their interfering families, and the various boys that come and go in their lives. Written in a slightly sardonic, humorous manner Aya is a refreshing look at the private lives of working class Africans.

The author uses lively, slang filled writing which is accompanied by the bright and colourful drawings of Clement Oubrerie, and the two merge to present a joyous and energetic look at this corner of Africa in the 1970’s.

okt 5, 2012, 7:36am

Nice review. I enjoyed Aya and I keep looking out for the next in the series but never see it.. guess it's an internet purchase :)

Redigerat: okt 5, 2012, 7:21pm

I've had Aya on the wishlist a while now - I got in line at the library and forgot and now that I look it's been marked "lost." Boo - I'll check if they're getting another copy. Always funny to see how inherently similar we all are, regardless of where we live in the world.

ETA: And, congrats on the "Hot Review" for Doc!!

okt 5, 2012, 10:49pm

#71 - Hi Claire, I just checked my library and it doesn't have the second volume either. :(

#72 - Thanks for the congrats, Eva. I'd say Aya is worth tracking down, I like the fact that it's a graphic with a definite female slant.

okt 5, 2012, 11:02pm

131. Fashions of a Decade: The 1950s by Patricia Baker - 3.4 ★
Category: True Colors
Reading Through Time Monthly Challenge: 1950's

Fashions of a Decade: 1950s by Patricia Baker is mostly slanted towards North America, where the 1950’s were a time of peace and prosperity. These easier years in turn gave women more freedom and the luxury of time and money to spend on fashion. This book barely skims the surface of the various fashion trends of the 50’s, but certainly touches on the best known milestones.

The book explains how many of the inventions that came out of the war were now being applied to daily life and that fashion was no exception. The introduction of many man-made fabrics such as Nylon, Rayon and Orlon changed how women dressed and cared for their clothes. Both movies and the actors in them had much influence. Marlon Brando’s black leather jacket, Carol Baker’s baby doll pyjamas and Marilyn Monroe’s famous halter top dress in Seven Year Itch, all became fashion icons.

I enjoyed this book but wished it was both longer and gave more details. But if you are in the mood for a quick stroll through the fashions of the 1950’s, then put on your little black dress or your grey flannel suit, mix up a batch of martini’s and give this book a try.

okt 6, 2012, 12:26am

Nice review of Fashions of a Decade: 1950s. Looks like a fun series of books.

okt 6, 2012, 10:47am

I am such a fashion junkie I almost squealed with delight when I saw your review. It looks like my local library has each book in the series going back to the 1920's so I am now super excited to check them all out!

okt 7, 2012, 1:16pm

132. French Milk by Lucy Knisley - 3.4 ★
Category: Every Picture Tells A Story

In 2007 Lucy Knisley and her mother spent five weeks in Paris together and French Milk is the resulting graphic novel of this time. I doubt very much that I will ever travel to Paris, but this fun little book with it’s details on museums, parks, art galleries and restaurants made me a very happy armchair traveller. Lucy comes across as a sensitive soul in her twenties which of course means a fair amount of internal drama which unfortunately she mentions only marginally. Lucy is not about to bare her soul or even delve into details about her relationship with her mother which was a bit of a disappointment as I found her mother an interesting character and I would have liked to have gotten to know both these women better.

Drawn in black and white, with real photographs scattered throughout this travel journal is fairly self-indulgent, but still enjoyable as a light read. I really can’t say that I will take anything from this book, or that it will linger in my mind in any way, but nevertheless, I enjoyed it for it’s light, trivial look at Paris.

okt 7, 2012, 1:18pm

#75 & 76 - I wish my library had more of this series. It's not an in depth study by any means, but the book is chock full of pictures and references to the decade, and I would love to check out the other books.

Redigerat: okt 7, 2012, 2:42pm

My library has several volumes of the fashion series that I may eventually check out.

okt 7, 2012, 10:42pm

133. The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith - 4.1 ★
Category: Thriller Night
Reading Through Time Monthly Challenge: 1950s

The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith is his second novel revolving around Leo Demidov. Although broader in scope than his first book, I found The Secret Speech lacked some the pacing and didn’t quite resound with the same atmospheric tension.

This book delves into both Leo and his wife’s personal family life as well as their backgrounds. Leo must learn to forgive himself his past misdeeds as one of Stalin’s secret police. Raisa has her own issues from the past to work through. These two agree that the most important thing is their family which consists of two sisters, whose parents Leo was responsible for arresting. From the past, someone has surfaced who is seeking vengeance against Leo, and this vengeance puts his whole family at risk.

The story is delivered with plenty of action and suspense. Smith writes with conviction and the plot is original and imaginative as Leo and Raisa meet the challenge and fight to keep their family together. While for me, not quite reaching the creative heights of Child 44, this is still a very good read and I will certainly be moving on with this series.

okt 8, 2012, 7:51am

Belated thanks for the review of Doc. I really must get round to getting hold of a copy; everyone seems to love it.

okt 8, 2012, 10:49am

Good review for The Secret Speech. We've both got Agent 6 to read now but as it's supposed to be quite a let-down I'm not sure when I'll be getting round to it.

okt 8, 2012, 1:04pm

I would love, love, love to spend five weeks in Paris with my daughter. What a great time. I'm jealous.

okt 8, 2012, 6:22pm

I finished listening to The Secret Speech this evening. Like you, I didn't think it was quite as good as Child 44, but I did enjoy it.

okt 9, 2012, 5:14pm

When I read French Milk, I had a similar reaction to yours, but I did come away with an urge to want to go to France and meander around flea markets. :)

okt 10, 2012, 5:47pm

Wonderful review of Doc. I had it on my wishlist already before your review, but it surely hammers it home. And after the wonderful experience with Lonesome Dove, westerns are definitely on my good side!

okt 11, 2012, 12:21pm

Hi everyone, I am away from home visiting my Mom and have limited computer access, so will just be dropping in every few days.

#81 - Hi Genny, I was struck by the fact that everyone who had read it, loved Doc before I read it as well.

#82 - I know that I will eventually get to Agent 6 but I don't feel in any rush to get to it quickly.

#83 - Boy, would I ever like to spend time in Paris with my daughters, that would be such a dream vacation! I guess that's the real appeal of this book, imagining being in their place.

#84 - Hi Carrie, Child 44 was just such an excellent story, I think that would be a hard one to try and follow up on.

#85 - To go to Paris and not be on any kind of tourist deadline would be fantastic, wouldn't it. To wander the different districts on your own, and of course, visit the flea markets!

#86 - Hi Anders, Lonesome Dove and Doc just go to show that it often doesn't matter the setting, excellent writing shines through!

okt 14, 2012, 5:59pm

134. Land of a Hundred Wonders by Lesley Kagen - 3.7 ★
Category: Go Where You Wanna Go

Set in rural Kentucky ,Land of a Hundred Wonders tells the story of Gibby. She is a young woman of twenty, who was involved in a horrendous car accident a couple of years ago that took the lives of both her parents and has left her, in her words, NQR (not quite right). She lives with her grandfather, helps out at his restaurant and single-handedly puts out the local newspaper, a single sheet of mostly local gossip. Of course the bulk of her time is spent in trying to become QR (quite right) so that she can regain the parts of her memory that are missing and learn appropriate behavior which she doesn’t always manage very well.

Gibby has made an important discovery which is the body of the man that many have pegged as the next governor of Kentucky. She resolves to solve the murder and write up the story, feeling that this accomplishment will go a long way in making others see that she is becoming QR.

This is a story that takes turns in being both sweetly poignant and at others rowdy and boisterous. Filled with wonderful characters and many laugh out moments, this book came very close to a great read but, for me, the deeper I got into the story, the more the plot unraveled. I enjoyed the interplay between the characters and loved the language the author used however, and the book totally kept me involved.

The author, Lesley Kagen has crafted a moving and heartfelt story told from the viewpoint of a unique and unforgettable character.

okt 14, 2012, 10:42pm

I'm just catching up with your reviews and I loved the review of Doc. I liked very much The Sparrow and have been meaning to read more of Mary Doria Russell's works.

okt 15, 2012, 7:27pm

>88 DeltaQueen50: - Sounds like something I'd like. Found one on BM to mooch. Must have been your good review.

okt 17, 2012, 9:39pm

#89 & 90 - HI Paulina and Betty, I am out of town, visiting my Mom so not had much computer access, I will be home in a couple of days, and have a lot of catching up to do. After loving Doc so much I am now planning on reading everything by Mary Doria Russell. Betty, I do hope you enjoy Land of a Hundred Wonders.

Redigerat: okt 19, 2012, 9:58pm

135. This World We Live In†† by Susan Beth Pfeffer - 3.8 ★
Category - For The Young At Heart

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer is the final volume in her “Last Survivors” trilogy, and this book brings characters from both books together and gives the readers some sense of closure. I have seen where many people felt quite disappointed in the ending of this series, but I personally felt she wrapped things up as much as she could while still staying true to the situation that the characters were in.

Overall I have found this a very believable story and although written for a YA audience, the author neither sugar-coated the events nor talked down to her audience. Miranda was realistic and compelling, and the family relationships flowed in a natural way. I was less convinced by the Alex/Julie brother and sister storyline, and felt that they were included simply to tie up loose ends.

The ending, while slightly ambiguous certainly keeps the door open for a future for both the characters and the world in general, which, really is all one can hope for in a book of this nature. I enjoyed all three volumes and felt the author’s concept was nicely played out in these three books.

okt 19, 2012, 10:00pm

136. The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien - 4.3 ★
Category: Soldier Boy

I found The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien to be at times an uncomfortable read, and at others an inspiring read. At all times however, this is a superbly written story of what it really felt like to be a young combat soldier in Viet Nam. Not a straight forward story as it has very little to do with plot, but rather the random reminiscing of a young man sent to a strange, foreign country to fight in an unpopular war.

At times I forget that most wars are fought by the young. The boys in this book were, in many cases, not even in their twenties, and their immediate leaders were only a year or two older. As an older woman, looking back on this, and thinking of all the other boys that are serving their countries even today, I feel such compassion for both them and their families.

Tim O’Brien, like so many others, has been haunted by his experiences in Viet Nam, and I hope by penning this fine memoir, he has been able to lay some of these ghosts to rest. I would recommend that anyone who wants to get a real feel for what Viet Nam was like for American soldiers that they read both The Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes and The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien.

okt 19, 2012, 11:19pm

137. October Skies by Alex Scarrow - 3.5 ★
Category: Calendar Girl

October Skies by Alex Scarrow is a thriller that certainly kept me guessing and reading to the end. The story jumps back and forth in time, in the present day, a documentary film maker and his partner stumble upon the remains of a long lost wagon trail that disappeared in the wilderness 150 years ago. They find a well preserved journal in a trunk. We are then drawn back to the past to the last days of this wagon train as terror and horror are unleashed among them. The evil doesn’t seem to be confined to the past either, as suddenly people in the present are dying in brutal ways. Exactly what was out in the woods that continues to work it’s evil today.

Fast paced and riveting, the author grabs you right from the start and pulls you into his story. Mixing wilderness survival, Indians, and religion with a hint of the supernatural to give the reader a story to enjoy being scared by. At times a little over-the-top and, unfortunately the ending was predictable, but overall this was exactly the kind of story I was looking for to curl up with on a chilly autumn evening.

okt 20, 2012, 7:48am

I suspect that October Skies is one that I'd like the past part better than the present one on.

okt 20, 2012, 5:51pm

Hi Lori, I have to admit, I much preferred the past story in October Skies, the part that was set in the present was very predictable and just didn't interest me as much as the wagon train aspect.

Redigerat: okt 23, 2012, 12:21am

138. Dracula†† by Bram Stoker - 4.5 ★
Category: Monster Mash

Reading the classic Dracula by Bram Stoker was an eye-opening experience. I was expecting a slow moving, stodgy, old fashioned story but instead I was delighted in this dark, romantic tale of evil vampires overcome by a band of unlikely heroes. The story jumped right into Dracula’s castle and other than a small slow down in the middle part of the book, kept up the quick pace of a modern day thriller. The ending was particularly well done and I closed the book feeling a great satisfaction that this, the grandfather of all vampire reads, is truly a worthy read.

I won’t dwell upon the plot as it is quite well known, but as I mentioned above this was my first read, and there were details that were quite new to me. The character of Mina was a particular surprise as I was expecting a wan, wispy girl, and, in fact, found a forthright, interesting heroine who, even when fighting for her own immortal soul came off both strong and interesting.

If you have yet to give Dracula a try, I would encourage you to do so as it is truly both intriguing and mysterious and, if you are a fan of horror, it is wonderful to see where so many of the vampire clichés originated.

okt 22, 2012, 1:05am

I have read interesting adaptations of Dracula but the original story is one I cannot remember reading. I think I need to add that one to my 2013 reading..... for right around this time of year. ;-)

okt 22, 2012, 11:53am

I've tried to read Dracula a few times, but have always lost momentum about 1/3 through (can't remember if there's a particular part I get bored with) - clearly I should have stuck with it to the end! :) There's a new full-cast audioversion that I've heard good things about, so I will be giving it a try again, hopefully soon! It is one I really do want to have read the original since I've seen so many film adaptations.

okt 23, 2012, 12:25am

#98 - Hi Lori, I think you would really enjoy Dracula and, yes, it is perfect for this time of year! :)

#99 - Eva, I think an audio version would be a great way to go with this book. Yes, there was a definite slow down in the middle (or so) of the book, but the action picks up again and carries through to the end of the book. I felt the same way about reading it, almost obligated since I have seen so many film adaptations.

okt 23, 2012, 12:00pm

Good to know that there is an actual slump somewhere in the middle so that it's not just me. :) I have high hopes for the audio - the cast seems fantastic!

okt 23, 2012, 5:43pm

139. Dark Blood by Stuart MacBride - 4.4 ★
Category: I Will Follow Him

Life is not going at all well for DS Logan McRae in Dark Blood by Stuart MacBride. In this, the 6th entry of the series, McRae is dealing with being passed over for promotion, and seeing an incompetent co-worker in a superior position. Having to work for him and even call him “Sir” is almost more than he can stand. Being called on the carpet for having a bad team attitude, juggling too many cases, being threatened with a lawsuit for police brutality, and still having to deal with the difficult DCI Steele, who herself is not in the best of moods these days is causing him to wonder if being a policeman is worth all the aggravation. To top is all off, his girlfriend is one of many who think he is drinking too much, so to prove a point he’s going cold sober, which isn’t helping his mood.

Having been called upon to baby-sit released violent rapist, Richard Knox, who has decided to settle in Aberdeen, McRae isn’t totally surprised when Knox manages to savagely beat his caretakers and disappear. To make matters even worse, a high ranking visiting policeman, a sworn enemy of Knox’s, has been abducted from his hotel.

Fast paced, humorous, and violent, this series just keeps the entertainment high and the plot rolling. After six books the reader knows the characters and can anticipate how they are going to react, but this in no way takes away from the overall enjoyment of the story. The author delivers an intricate plot with great style and verve. These books are ones that I know I can rely on for a gritty crime story that will absorb me totally, and all I can say is bring on number seven.

okt 23, 2012, 6:14pm

Thanks for the nudge towards Dracula. It's one of those TBR books I never seem to get around to, but you make it sound exciting.

okt 24, 2012, 12:26pm

I'm just about to start Blind Eye, so I'm skipping your review for now. Such a great series, though, isn't it?!

okt 24, 2012, 1:20pm

#103 - Hi Anders, I think you will enjoy Dracula when you get to it. I love horror so I started it with a sense of obligation feeling that I needed to read it, but the story quickly pulled me in and kept me absorbed to the end.

#104 - Hi Eva, the Stuart MacBride series is one of my favorities, and DCI Steele is one of my all time favorite characters, her one-liners and asides are a hoot!

okt 25, 2012, 1:33pm

I am starting to finish off various categories of my challenge and will now be adding bonus reads, books that I have read that fit a category already filled.

Bonus Read - Young At Heart

The Giver†† by Lois Lowry - 4.2 ★

The Giver by Lois Lowry is a dystopian story of a world that has settled for being safe. There are no such thing as choices, free thinking or strong emotions. Love, desire, even real anger are not permitted, and the people are trained or medicated to suppress these strong feelings. Being different or unusual is frowned upon and those that are deemed to be so are sent from the community, much as the elderly, after a short retirement are also released. Within this life of calmness and safety, one member of the community holds all the memories of what came before and now it is time to pass these memories on to a new Receiver. Jonas, the twelve year old main character, has been chosen to be the Receiver of Memories.

Without giving away too many plot details, this is a story of what it would be like to eliminate individuality, and while not as bleak as some dystopian works, the story is nevertheless chilling. As Jonas is given the memories he experiences new emotions from joy to pain, and with these new feelings comes a decision that he must leave the community in order to save a small child that has been scheduled for “release”. Thus opening the way for a truly ambiguous ending that is open to reader interpretation.

Lois Lowry has written a true gem with The Giver, a small book that delivers maximum impact. Extremely clever, the story starts calmly but slowly the reader starts to feel the troubling undercurrents, and alarm bells begin to go off. I can see the value of this book in the classroom as it would generate much discussion. The Giver is an amazing story and one that I would recommend.

okt 25, 2012, 4:23pm

I could have sworn I had read The Giver, but that doesn't seem familiar at all. Clearly a read (or a reread) is in order. :)

okt 25, 2012, 6:00pm

I keep seeing good things about The Giver. Will add it to my library holds list the next time I am in the mood for something dystopian. Great review Judy!

okt 26, 2012, 7:26pm

>106 DeltaQueen50:. Heh. Check out my latest review :)

okt 26, 2012, 8:59pm

Great review of The Giver. I'm thinking the dystopia craze Hunger Games started is going to give this one a second life. Interesting review of Dracula too - I thought the female characters were far more interesting than they were portrayed in the movie versions... and I still love the many transfusions that in truth would've killed her far faster than any vampire - unless she happened to be AB+.

okt 26, 2012, 11:53pm

#107 - Hi Eva, it a very short book, so even if it's a reread, it won't take you long. :)

#108 - Thanks Lori, I have to admit Dystopian books are fast becoming a favorite of mine.

#109 - As I mentioned on your thead, Anders, your dystopian story sounds a little more complex than The Giver.

#110 - Katie, I was very surprised by the females in Dracula as you mentioned, they are little more than totally helpless females in most of the movie versions. I did wonder a bit about the transfusions, I think every one they gave her came from a different person!

okt 27, 2012, 12:00am

They did! 4 different men. How slutty. ;)

okt 27, 2012, 9:58pm

140. Perdido Street Station by China Mieville - 4.7 ★
Category: Heard It Thru the Grapevine - recommended by Anders (GingerbreadMan), Eva, Claire (Cfisha), Pete (Psutto), Dave (Wolfy) & Lori (Ikernaugh)

Perdido Street Station by China Mieville was a highly anticipated read and has fully lived up to my expectations. Part fantasy, part sci-fi and all original. With the invention of the city of New Crobuzon, Mieville has created a sprawling, complex and completely satisfying world. He has peopled his world with some of the most bizarre creatures I have ever read about. Yet these various beings go about their daily existence, eating, sleeping, working and reacting with each other in absolutely plausible ways. His city is build with inventive architecture, every nook and corner accounted for, and all areas have their own details that are fantastic to read about.

The story revolves around a male human, Isaac Dan der Grimnebulin, an eccentric scientist and his artist girlfriend, Lin, who is a bug-like creature known as a Khepri. It’s not surprising that Mieville has created this wondrous couple, but what is surprising is how fully fleshed out these characters and many others in the book are. But always remember that in Perdido Street Station the strange and repulsive, the sickening and dangerous are often lurking, just around the corner. Is this book a romance? A thriller? Or is it a highly charged, emotional tragedy.

At times Perdido Street Station was a difficult read with it’s dense and complicated prose studded with strange languages and scientific terms. But at the same time, this was also part of the lure of this book. This was my first China Mieville book, but I can assure you that it won’t be long before I pick this author up again.

okt 27, 2012, 10:28pm

So happy to see Perdido Street Station was an engaging read for you Judy! Mieville is a master, IMO, at creating amazing worlds, characters and circumstances.

okt 27, 2012, 11:53pm

Good review. So glad you enjoyed it. I've not read much more than the sequels myself and am looking forward to trying more of his work when I can fit it in.

okt 28, 2012, 2:30pm

Hi Lori and Dave, the discovery of an author like China Mieville is the best part of LT for me. I doubt very much I would have discovered him on my own. I can't believe that just three years ago, I was reading very little fantasy or sci-fi, and now these are two of my favorite categories!

okt 28, 2012, 4:12pm

Oh, I am pleased Perdido worked for you too!! Miéville is, I think, the greatest of my "LT-finds!" Like you, I'm not sure I would have picked him up had it not been for the endorsement of some fine LTers and he's grown to be one of my favorites.

Redigerat: okt 28, 2012, 5:40pm

#117 - Definitely one of my best finds as well. Unfortunately, my next book never quite grabbed me, perhaps as I was reading Perdido Street Station at the same time and it just didn't measure up. Oh well, at least this is one series I can let go of.

okt 28, 2012, 5:39pm

Not many rabid LT Mevillve fans then :) Glad you enjoyed it, great review.

okt 28, 2012, 5:39pm

141. One Grave Too Many by Beverly Connor - 3.1 ★
Category: Thriller Night

One Grave Too Many by Beverly Connor is the first book in her series about Diane Fallon, a forensic anthropologist who, at the beginning of the book has decided to start over as the director of the Rivertrail Museum of Natural History. On the day of the museum’s grand opening, her former boyfriend, Detective Frank Duncan comes to her for help with a human bone found in the woods. Even though she has vowed not to get involved in this type of work again, it isn’t too long before she is helping Frank to hopefully clear the surviving member of a murdered family.

Along with this mystery, there is also something going on at the museum, someone is obviously trying to make Diane appear incompetent. A number of board members are pushing to have the museum moved as there is interest in developing the land into a golf course resort. Also Diane has not recovered from her last forensic job that had her working on mass graves in a small South American country.

It took me awhile to get into this book as the author juggled various plotlines and I wondered exactly where the story was going but eventually all the threads were gathered and entwined together. As the characters never really grabbed me and I actually found the academic politics more interesting than the murder plot, I doubt that I will be continuing on with the series.

For me, One Grave Too Many was a quick, light read that just didn’t quite satisfy.

Redigerat: okt 29, 2012, 2:56am

Great review of PSS! Like you, I have this place to thank for so many of my favorite writers, but My discovery of actually predates LT.But this book is the one that opened my eyes for fantasy as a genre, and I'll always love it for it. Best part is that the man has written nothing but good stuff - there's lots to discover!

okt 29, 2012, 2:28pm

#121 - Hi Anders, I am glad to say that I am now one of the converted! I am happy that I have a fantasy category planned for next year as I know I will be fitting in at least one of China Mieville's books (maybe more).

Redigerat: okt 29, 2012, 2:55pm

142. The Swiss Family Robinson by Richard Blandford (Campfire Graphics) - 3.5 ★
Category: Every Picture Tells A Story

This classic tale of adventure is a perfect story to place in the graphic novel format with it’s exciting story and colourful backdrop. When their ship strikes a reef and they are abandoned by the crew, this family manages to survive the storm and salvage many necessary ingredients to their survival on a isolated tropical island. In fact not only do they survive, they manage to thrive and create a wonderful colony that eventually, when they are discovered, lures more people to join them.

With four sons in the family, it is a given that there will be adventures galore. Sharks and jaguars, tree houses and caves, all are drawn in great detail, and this book, originally published in German in 1812 springs to life on these pages.

Although simplistic and somewhat abbreviated , this graphic version is a wonderful introduction (or re-visit) to the classic original, especially as it cuts down somewhat on the dated religious views and overly sentimental family values that are strewn throughout the book. Published by Campfire Graphic Novels, this is just one in a large series of classics such as Kim, Prisoner of Zenda, Gulliver’s Travels and many more. Re-visiting The Swiss Family Robinson was a fun way to spend an afternoon.

okt 29, 2012, 4:38pm

I only found out that The Swiss Family Robinson even existed when I had just moved to California and went to Disneyland and saw their tree-house. It's not one that got a lot of word in Sweden, but it is on my to-read list since it's a classic here.

okt 29, 2012, 6:13pm

#124 Hi Eva, I read the Swiss Family Robinson when I was a child and remember is fondly, but I tried to read it to my grandson a few years ago and neither one of us could get past the religious aspects or how overly sentimental that it was. I have actually found that about a lot of my childhood books, best to leave them in the past and enjoy the fond memories.

okt 29, 2012, 6:44pm

OK, maybe I'll leave that one alone then. :) Pollyanna is another one of those classic American books that I've been told not to even give a try.

okt 29, 2012, 10:02pm

Glad to hear you liked Perdido Street Station. I thought it was excellent myself. I was also happy to read your review of The Giver. My 13-year-old had recommended it to me, but I haven't gotten around to it yet.

okt 30, 2012, 4:15pm

#126 - I didn't want to scare you off, Eva, just prepare you. ;)

#127 - Hi Paulina, I think you will like The Giver, I thought it was a great story that just happened to be classed as a YA. Certainly opens up a lot of questions in the reader's mind which is probably why it is often used in schools.

okt 30, 2012, 4:20pm

143. Princess of Glass by Jessica Day George - 3.8 ★
Category: Do You Believe in Magic?

This charming fantasy, based on the fairy tale of Cinderella, is the second in Jessica Day George’s series “The Princess of the Midnight Ball”. Of course, in Princess of Glass, she has cleverly twisted the tale using the elements of the fairy godmother, the glass slippers, and the handsome prince to tell her own unique version of the classic story.

Princess Poppy, one of the original twelve dancing princesses, is recovering from her own magical ordeal, but while visiting the kingdom of Breton, discovers a new curse being worked on someone else, a servant girl named Ellen. As she realizes that this curse is also directed at the handsome Prince Christian of Danelaw, whom she is slowly developing a close friendship with, she vows to break this magic spell and release the victims.

I really liked how the author reworked this fairy tale and enjoyed the strong willed, competent Princess Poppy who sets out to right the wrongs and in doing so wins the slightly hapless but nevertheless charming Prince Christian. As in all fairy tales there is a happy ending and in this case we have three young couples finding their “happy ever after”. A light and frothy story chock full of magic, humour and romance.

okt 30, 2012, 6:34pm

I'm thinking I may have to go back to The Princess of the Midnight Ball. I was prepping for a panel when it came out so had time to read first 3 chapters but not the whole thing. I remember being impressed.

okt 30, 2012, 9:49pm

I have been thinking about rereading The Giver for a while now. It's calling out to me from the shelf.... I remember my mother read it at the same time I did (possibly I urged her to it), and her reaction was "that's so sad". (Mine was "wow, adults have a lot of power I don't usually recognize, and who's to say our organization is any better than this one?".) I suspect it would deliver a different punch these days. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. :)

okt 31, 2012, 6:09pm

#130 - Hi Katie, these fairy tale books by Jessica Day George are light, fun reads to pick up when you don't want to get involved in any heavy reading. Sometimes you just need a girly book!

#131 - I will be interested in what you think of the book upon re-reading it. I suspect the message could change with every re-reading, but the age of the reader would have an enormous effect.

Redigerat: nov 1, 2012, 2:23pm

144. Northlanders Vol 1: Sven the Returned by Brian Wood & Davide Gianfelice
Category: Every Picture Tells A Story

While Northlanders Vol 1: Sven The Returned was not my favourite graphic novel, it nevertheless told a passable story and I will be continuing with the series for at least one or two more because after all it’s about Vikings! While I am far from a prude, I found there was a little too much explicit sex, and even though somewhat expected, there was an abundance of gore and violence.

A familiar tale of a returned heir, coming home to find his birthright taken over by a greedy uncle who has no intension of letting the wealth or lands out of his control. Sven finds himself an outsider, lurking on the edges of civilization, trying to find a way to defeat his uncle. Finally getting his chance to meet in open warfare, things suddenly change when a new invader appears on the scene.

I would have preferred more information on the Norse way of life, and less on the amount of blood that was scattered across the pages. I never warmed up to Sven, so I wasn’t overly invested in his characters. The end of the story seemed a little forced, and maybe too neatly wrapped up, but I will be interested in seeing where this series goes. I did like the artwork, very much in the comic book style, and felt it matched well with the action of the story.

nov 1, 2012, 12:32pm

"explicit abundance of gore and violence"
Well, count me in! :)

Actually, what I had mainly hoped for was what you realized wasn't there in abundance: I too was wishing for a good part of it being the Norse way of life. Hmm, I'll keep it on the wishlist to at least check the first book out.

Redigerat: nov 1, 2012, 4:16pm

145. Burma Boy by Biyi Bandele - 4.1 ★
Category: Soldier Boy

Deep in the jungles of Burma, during World War II a select group of soldiers called Chindits, plied their method of warfare against the invader. Several of these troops were made up of African soldiers, mostly from the country of Nigeria. Their average age was somewhere between sixteen and nineteen, although some were a lot younger. In fact the main character of Burma Boy, was barely fourteen, a fully fledged member of the Thunder Brigade whose basic orders were to exist behind enemy lines and create havoc.

Author Biyi Bandele based his book partly on the stories passed onto him by his father who served in Burma during WW II. Patrolling jungle trails, setting ambushes, and living in defended strongholds, these Chindits fought the Japanese in hand-to-hand combat, killing and being killed. It was a very personal war for them and they relished their chance to fight for King Joji {King George).

I believe the author caught the elements of warfare accurately. The story veers between the downtimes when the soldiers joke, laugh and sometimes argue with each other as they catch up on sleep and eating. Then the action begins and the characters are tossed into tense, terror filled situations against a ruthless enemy who never surrenders. Added to this is the setting of hot, humid Burma where it’s torrential rains and/or burning sun creates additional stress and exhaustion. A fascinating look at a small corner of World War II that I had previously known nothing about. And although at times I found the author’s style a little aimless, overall he managed the contrast between the light-hearted banter of boys to the grim life and death situations they had to face admirably. I did, however, have a slight problem with the abrupt ending, feeling that so much more could have been told of this soldier's story.

nov 1, 2012, 5:38pm

Seriously? They imported kids from Africa to fight in their war? Just when I thought I had heard everything!

Redigerat: nov 1, 2012, 7:30pm

#136 - Mamzel, the man behind forming the Chindits, was responsible for leading a group of Nigerian soldiers into Abyssinia and helping to oust the Italians. Therefore when he was asked to again put together a gorilla type brigade, he wanted to include the Africans. Why they were so young, I don't know, but the book did mention that they weren't questioned all that closely when it came to age.

nov 2, 2012, 12:56pm

Glad you enjoyed your firs Mieville :-D I'd highly recommend his short story collection looking for jake which was my firs Mieville and now I've read almost everything he's published and would recommend them all as he is definitely a favourite author

I remember really liking The Swiss family Robinson TV series in the 70's I bet it hasn't aged well though?!?

nov 3, 2012, 4:30pm

#138 - Hi Pete, I would definitely say that Swiss Family Robinson hasn't aged all that well. It's a fantastic story however, and I eventually read an abridged version to my grandson which we both enjoyed. I hate to discourage people from reading the original though as it is such a classic.

China Mieville is probably my favorite author discovered this year, last year it was Neil Gaiman, so LT is doing pretty good by me!

nov 3, 2012, 4:36pm

146. War Party by Louis L'Amour - 3.6 ★
Category: Home on the Range

War Party by Louis L’Amour is a collection of 10 short stories. L’Amour generally writes in a terse yet action filled way and this sparse prose shows to great advantage in his short stories. I originally picked up this book as I am reading the Sackett Family series and one of the stories involves this family. As with most short story collections, not all are of the same quality, but in War Party, I really can’t say there was a particularly weak one. The ones I most enjoyed were “One For the Pot”, ‘War Party” and the original inspiration for the John Wayne movie, “Hondo” called “The Gift of Cochise”. These stories may have been my favourites as they all featured women as the main characters.

While L’Amour’s characters don’t vary much, his women are usually the good, strong, helpmate or the frivolous, duty shirking flibbertigibbet although sometimes they start out as one and grow into the other. His men are the strong, silent yet righteous types with the bible in one hand and a gun in the other, or the dirty, low-down back-shooting bad guy. Of course these types of characters fit perfectly in the western genre.

While War Party will not blow the reader away with it’s literary acrobatics, nonetheless it’s a good sampling of why Louis L’Amour was one of the foremost western writers of his day and why his writing remains so popular today.

nov 5, 2012, 11:32pm

147. The Chili Queen by Sandra Dallas - 4.3 ★
Category: Home on the Range

The Chili Queen by Sandra Dallas is a fun, colourful and engaging story peopled with some of the most colourful characters that I have read about in some time. Re-inventing oneself was an easy thing to do out west in the late 1880’s, people didn’t ask a lot of questions and were prone to accept what they saw and heard at face value. There were many reasons to take on a new identity, some were simply discarding a used up life, others were concealing their true identity out of concern for family left behind, and many were simply on the run from the long arm of the law

As Addie French travels from Kansas to New Mexico, she meets a meek mail-order bride on the train. Being far from meek herself, she surprises herself with the protective instinct this Emma arouses in her. When Emma’s prospective bridegroom refuses her, Addie takes her under her wing and into her home which happens to be the local brothel. Wanting Emma to think the best of her, she tries to disguise the nature of the house, and introduces her lover, wanted bank robber, Ned Partner, as her brother.

As Emma settles into Addie’s home, it isn’t long before secrets are unveiled and schemes are hatched. Soon we have Ned and Emma riding off to rob a bank in another town, and all of them, including Addie’s outspoken black housekeeper, working on a plan to con Emma’s brother out of her rightful inheritance that he is keeping from her.

The Chili Queen is an unforgettable, humorous, and extremely readable story of love, friendship and loyalty. With it’s many twists and turns the story pulls you along and you find yourself slowing putting the pieces of the puzzle together, but always remember, re-inventing yourself was an easy thing to do in the old west.

nov 6, 2012, 9:05am

That sounds like a fun read! Colorful characters and all.

nov 6, 2012, 9:39pm

The Chili Queen sounds like one that I would gravitate to. Great review Judy and very happy to see the rating you gave it! I have added this one to my "For Later' list with my local library.... to join my escapism stockpile when our West Coast winter gets a tad depressing. ;-)

nov 7, 2012, 9:53am

That does sound fun!

nov 7, 2012, 12:12pm

#142, 143, 144 - Good morning, ladies. I am finding Sandra Dallas is becoming a go-to author for me as I have enjoyed all three books by her that I have read so far. The Chili Queen is a very fun read and I hope you all enjoy it when you get to it.

nov 7, 2012, 12:18pm

148. We Band of Angels by Elizabeth M. Norman - 5.0 ★
Category: True Colors

On the same day the Japanese launched its surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, it also struck American bases in the Philippines. Following the air strikes with a massive landing, the Japanese were poised to take control of these islands. In We Band of Angels author Elizabeth M Norman tells the story of the American Military nurses that were serving in the Philippines at that time. There was no escape, they worked at their hospitals as long as they could, they were then moved, some immediately to the island fortress of Corregidor, but many to the peninsula of Bataan.

On Bataan, they helped to carve out hospitals from the jungle and nursed the sick and wounded there, until the Japanese were threatening to overrun them. They were then moved to Corregidor and worked in the underground tunnels, again dispensing medical assistance to the sick and wounded. Long after General MacArthur left, these remarkable women soldiered on, under constant bombardment, until the American forces had to surrender in early May of 1942.

At this point the nurses were moved to the prison camp of Santo Tomas in Manila. There they put their nursing abilities to work until they were liberated in early February, 1944. Life in the prison camps was a life of misery, starvation and sickness.

Compiling her book from personal interviews, letter, diaries and journals, Elizabeth M. Norman writes an extremely comprehensive story. So much information is packed into these pages that at times, I felt overwhelmed by all the details. To read of what these women endured, told in their own words was both humbling and emotional. We Band of Angels is an inspiring story of women who helped, cared for and supported each other, yet remained professional, and never forgot to include a little humor as they lived through these horrific years of captivity. I highly recommend We Band of Angels both for it’s sheer readability and as a great source of information on the Pacific Theatre of World War II.

nov 7, 2012, 12:49pm

We Band of Angels sounds like a good follow-up to Given Up for Dead, which was the best book I read last month. I had no idea that the Japanese attacked other places besides Pearl Harbor on the same day until I read Given Up for Dead.

nov 7, 2012, 1:09pm

#147 - Hi Carrie, Given Up for Dead is definitely going on my wishlist. I realized a couple of days ago that I didn't give myself any room for non-fiction reads in my 2013 Challenge and I immediately adjusted my categories. Non-Fiction has become one of my favorite categories. I recently watched an old 1942 black & white movie called "Wake Island" about the battle there, not a great movie, but a heart-breaking story.

nov 7, 2012, 2:04pm

I'd like to see the movie. The Wake Island survivors were prisoners of war when the movie was made so apparently the movie is as much fiction as fact. The survivors' stories wouldn't be heard until after the war was over.

nov 7, 2012, 3:28pm

I have several Sandra Dallas books on my TBR list. It looks like I need to add The Chili Queen to it!

nov 7, 2012, 4:51pm

#149 - In Hollywood's rush to get the movie out, they also made a film called So Proudly We Hail (1942), which was based on the trapped nurses, they did get one nurse who got out of the Philippines before Corregidor fell as their technical advisor, but they didn't really listen to her and she was appalled at the final result. I think that's pretty much the way Hollywood acts even today.

#150 - So far Lori, I've read The Diary of Mattie Spenser, Tallgrass and now The Chili Queen, and I loved them all.

nov 7, 2012, 6:33pm

I don't think Hollywood could really handle a story like We Band of Angels. My next door neighbor when I was growing up had been on the Bataan march and he never spoke about it, but my parents would tell me about all the lasting health problems he had because of it. I'm sure what the nurses went through is more than Hollywood would dare show.

nov 8, 2012, 11:55am

we band of angels reminds me a little of Tenko which was a big TV hit that I used to watch in the 80's

although they weren't nurses.... sounds like an interesting read anyway

nov 8, 2012, 11:36pm

149. The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel by Maureen Lindley - 3.8 ★
Category: Heard It Thru the Grapevine - Recommended by Lori (Ikernaugh)

“I understand that there are two kinds of women, those
who give up the adventure of their lives to live safely
and well thought of, and women like me who live as
we choose, whatever the price.”

These words of Eastern Jewel reflect her thoughts on life, and in The Private Papers of Eastern Jewel by Maureen Lindley, we read of her adventures and the choices she makes that give her a very adventures life indeed. Disgraced at the age of eight and sent from her home in China to be raised by strangers in Japan, at a very young age she learns how it feels to be abandoned, ignored and unloved. She grows to adulthood vowing to create her own opportunities, an outwardly strong, confident woman who knows how to seduce men and use them to advance her interests.

Based on the true story of Yoshiko Kawashima, a Chinese princess who became a Japanese spy during World War II, this book outlines her controversial life as she develops into a woman who manipulates all who come into contact with her. But really, who is the victim here? Eastern Jewel is far from a likeable person but one can’t help but feeling a little sad for her as she mistakes her exploitation as a type of freedom.

I enjoyed this book, and in particular, I enjoyed the fact that Eastern Jewel was never an innocent, never a nice person and was always on the lookout for whatever she thought would be the best for her at the time. She makes no apologies and accepts the consequences of her choices. I found this a fascinating character study of a woman who tries to live her life on her terms only.

nov 9, 2012, 12:24am

Nice review Judy! Agreed, Eastern Jewel is anything but likeable but she does present a rather blunt, in your face and honest viewpoint that one cannot just brush off and ignore. It's not all a bed of roses.

nov 9, 2012, 1:45pm

#155 - Hi Lori, I really enjoyed the fact that Eastern Jewel wasn't likeable. It makes a nice change to read of people who are strictly out for themselves. Although at times the story dragged a little, her characterization of Eastern Jewel was constant and very well done.

nov 9, 2012, 1:55pm

150. Zarafa: A Giraffe's True Story by Michael Allin - 3.6 ★
Category: True Colors

Zarafa: A Giraffe’s True Story from Deep in Africa to the Heart of Paris by Michael Allin tells the story of this giraffe’s remarkable journey from her birthplace in the Sudan, far down the Nile River, to Paris, France in 1827. She was presented to Charles X by Mohamed Ali the Viceroy of the Ottoman Empire in Egypt as a good will gesture. Although Charles X would have to abdicate four years later, the giraffe won the hearts of all who saw her and lived her life out in relative comfort and security. Upon her death in 1845, she was then donated to a museum in La Rochelle on the west coast of France.

Zarafa was the first giraffe to set foot in France, and after sailing her from Alexandria to Marseilles, she was then walked to Paris. This walk of some 550 miles took over two months and became much more like a grand parade as people thronged to get a sight of this unusual animal who was nicknamed “The Beautiful Stranger”. She became a celebrity and soon women were styling their hair “a la giraffe” and children were eating giraffe shaped cookies.

The author uses the opportunity of Zarafa’s story to impart both history and geography lessons. Although at times I felt he was using this information as filler to his story, it was well researched and certainly gives the reader a fairly accurate picture of how this politically motivated gifting came about. Overall I enjoyed the book, but felt that it bogged down a number of times and didn’t flow smoothly. Perhaps so much information on facts and figures are included, that the reader isn’t given a chance to get lost in the story.

nov 9, 2012, 9:35pm

I had much the same relation when I read this a few years ago. Too many facts and not enough story.

nov 10, 2012, 11:35am

We just had a baby giraffe born in our zoo here. There's a 'baby shower' today for him. The whole city has gone giraffe crazy. I might have to read Zarafa.

nov 10, 2012, 12:07pm

They seem to be such graceful peaceful creatures it's hard not to love them!

nov 10, 2012, 5:12pm

I have Zarafa on a TBR list. I'm a bit bogged down with both a fiction and a non-fiction book that I'm reading right now, so I don't want to try one that bogs down in places. I'll probably put that one off until 2013.

nov 10, 2012, 5:57pm

#158 - Hi Betty, I was expecting more on the actual journey that Zarafa was taken on. I wanted more about the giraffe less about the history or geography.

#159 & 160 - Giraffe's do seem like very gentle, almost thoughtful creatures. Lucky you, Victoria, being able to visit a baby giraffe.

#161 - I admit, Lori, I chose Zarafa to read now as it is quite short and I am trying to wrap up my 12 in 12 Challenge. But, serves me right, this book didn't read like a short book.

nov 11, 2012, 4:56pm

->159 VictoriaPL:
I want to go to a giraffe baby shower!! I once got to hold a 3-week gorilla baby and that's about the coolest thing I've ever done!

nov 11, 2012, 8:21pm

>163 -Eva-: LOL Eva. Yes, apparently there was cake (if you're on Facebook, the Greenville Zoo page has a picture). I had a conflict so I couldn't go to the party but I did have the opportunity to see Kiko the week before when he was galloping all over the paddock. Some folks have waited in line over an hour to get into our little zoo. It's crazy.

nov 12, 2012, 12:14pm

Aw, Kiko is adorable!! And I love the cake! :)

nov 12, 2012, 1:11pm

151. Changeless by Gail Carriger - 4.0
Category: Do You Believe in Magic?

The second in her Parasol Protectorate series, Changeless by Gail Carriger is a fun romp through alternative Victorian times with soulless Alexia Maccom and her very masculine, werewolf husband , Conall. Better known as Lord and Lady Woolsey, Alexia is now serving Queen Victoria as the third member of the Shadow Council, which advises the Queen on all policies involving the supernatural. Conall is both the alpha male of the Woolsey pack and also holds a very important position with the Bureau of Unnatural Registry.

Although still very much newly-weds, something has come up that requires their immediate attention. There appears to be a strange illness that causes both vampires and werewolves to lose their immortality and ghosts to disappear altogether. As this plague appears to shift locale and now appears to be heading to Scotland toward the home of his old pack, it isn’t long before Conall is on his way north. Packing her new parasol and assorted friends and relatives, Alexia follows.

Carriger continues her series in fine form, Changeless is a fun read, part fantasy, part romance, a little steam punk and always, a comedy of manners and morals. The author gives you an entertaining story played out by characters that are varied and interesting, spouting dialogue that is both engaging and humorous. Although Changeless had a very definite cliff-hanger ending, it was such an enjoyable read that I don’t mind the extra push to pick up the next book quickly.

nov 12, 2012, 3:48pm

Happy to see all is well with you Judy. I have Carriger's series on my to read list - cliff-hanger endings only annoy me when I make the mistake and start a series while it is still being developed..... I hate waiting for the author to get around to writing the next book in the series!

Happily, I will be starting her Parasol Protectorate series just like I did with Westerfeld Leviathan trilogy.... after it is completed. ;-)

nov 12, 2012, 4:04pm

Changeless is my next in the series so I only skimmed your review - looking forward to getting back to them!

nov 13, 2012, 3:36pm

#167 - Hi Lori, Carriger's series is a fun read, lots of tongue-in-cheek humor and, if you are a fan of Jane Austin or even Georgette Heyer, the whole comedy of manners and morals will definitely strike a chord.

#168 - Hi Eva, it's always fun to have a series like the Parasol Protectorate waiting in the wings for when you need a light, funny and totally escapist read.

nov 15, 2012, 2:19am

152. The Grand Sophy†† by Georgette Heyer - 4.5 ★
Category: Romeo & Juliet

The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer has now joined the ranks of other of Heyer’s Regency Romances that I have greatly enjoyed. Truly Sophy Stanton-Lacy is the most outrageous, assertive, likeable Heyer heroine yet. Her exuberance practically jumps off the pages as she leaps into the affairs of everyone yet remains extremely likeable and compassionate.

Twenty year old Sophy has been left by her father with her Aunt’s family while he pursues a diplomatic mission to Brazil. Sophy finds the household of her Aunt and Uncle in a muddle. Her cousin, Cecilia has just announced that she cannot possibly marry the suitable man her family approves of, as she has fallen in love with a poet whose work most find quite unexceptional. Meanwhile, younger cousin Hubert obviously has problems and needs to confide in someone, and eldest cousin, Charles, who holds the household purse strings, is counting pennies and has engaged himself to the strait-laced, prim and exceeding boring, Eugenia Wexford. Sophy decides to fix all their problems, and embarks on some major meddling.

Georgette Heyer has carefully crafted her story, keeping Sophy fresh and spontaneous, yet still well within that society’s strict boundaries. Her respectability is never in question, except by the odious Miss Wexford. I found the story engaging and humorous, and when Charles and Sophy are in the same room you can practically see the sparks fly. With the Heyer trademarks of superior supporting characters, accurate historical detail and sizzling dialogue, The Grand Sophy is truly a grand read.

nov 15, 2012, 2:56pm

I'm SO excited that you liked The Grand Sophy, DQ! :) It's probably my favorite Heyer. I agree, the chemistry between Sophy and Charles is amazing!

nov 15, 2012, 3:18pm

Hi Christina, after every Georgette Heyer I read, I tend to say that one was my favorite, but I can see The Grand Sophy remaining at the top of the list! I spent most of my reading life avoiding Heyer and now I am relishing every book of hers that I read!

nov 15, 2012, 6:41pm

I'm hoping to read The Grand Sophy this month too, so I skimmed over your review, just noting that you really enjoyed it and gave it 4.5 stars. I've really loved every Heyer I've read so far, and am glad to hear this one lives up to that general rule!

nov 15, 2012, 10:41pm

Great review of The Grand Sophy Judy.... that will just have to get added high up the Regency Romance pile I plan on reading for next year!

nov 16, 2012, 5:45am

I grabbed 3 Heyer books last year to try when B&N was having a sale on them. The Grand Sophy was one of them. I read the one of them - No Wind of Blame - and quite enjoyed it and your review has convinced me to put that one on the list for next year's vacation. Great review.

nov 16, 2012, 10:01pm

Spent today in a total blackout as the age of our house dictated (for insurance purposes) a complete rewiring. With nothing to distract me, I managed to polish off one book and get a good start on another, so all-in-all not a bad experience at all.

Hi Genny, Lori and Betty - I am obviously a big Georgette Heyer fan, but I really think you will all enjoy The Grand Sophy a lot. If you are a fan of her work, this is one of the really, really good ones.

Redigerat: nov 16, 2012, 10:09pm

Bonus Read - Calendar Girl

Journey To Topaz by Yoshiko Uchida - 3.7 ★

Journey To Topaz by Yoshiko Uchida is a YA story of the experiences of an 11 year old Japanese-American girl and her family from the bombing of Pearl Harbor and their eventual evacuation and incarceration at Topaz, Utah. There are probably many books that detail these events in much greater detail, but considering the target audience, I think this book would have a lot of impact on the younger reader by the fact that it simply tells the story of one girl and what happened to her and her loved ones.

I thought that Yuki came across as a typical eleven year old, she really had no understanding of why Japan attacked or how this was going to impact her life. First the FBI show up on their doorstep, just hours after the bombing and take her father away. Then Yuki, her mother and brother are uprooted from their Berkeley, California home and temporarily housed in a horse stall at Tanforan Racetrack while more permanent arrangements could be make for the thousands of West Coast Japanese. As bad as conditions were at the Racetrack, they get even worse when they are relocated to the harsh desert climate of Topaz.

Yuki’s story is both thought-provoking and interesting as it explores it’s theme of racial prejudice with insight and dignity. The author based her story on her own family’s experiences and as she put it, “We were told to demonstrate our loyalty by doing as our country asked, we had no choice but to trust our government leaders. We did not know then, as we do now, that they had acceded to political and economic pressure groups and imprisoned us with full knowledge that their action was not only unconstitutional, but totally unnecessary.” I believe Journey To Topaz would be a good introduction to this period of history for 10 to 12 year olds.

nov 16, 2012, 10:11pm

As long as you got to pick the time and date for your blackout, that's alright. :) I've never read any Georgette Heyer - it's not really "my genre" - but if I want to try one, do you have any suggestion of which one to go for?

nov 17, 2012, 8:06am

Judy - I loved Journey to Topaz when I read it years ago in a YA lit class in library school. I read that one and one other book that dealt with the Japanese evacuation in that class. They both made impressions on me.

nov 17, 2012, 2:59pm

#178 - Eva, like a flaky eclair or a rich chocolate mousse, Georgette Heyer's books need to be spaced out and you need to be in the mood for something light and sweet. She has quite an extensive library and I have only read ten or so but I would definitely say that my three favorites so far are Friday's Child, The Grand Sophy and Sprig Muslin. She may not be to everyone's taste, but I was pleasantly surprized that she was to mine.

#179 - Hi Lori, I have also read a few books about the Japanese evacuation and it strikes quite a chord in me. This is still fairly recent in our history (Canada also evacuated the Japanese from the West Coast) but the idea of a whole race being targeted by such bigotism scares the daylights out of me as we still have examples of this type of thing happening today when we read of Jewish Daycares or Muslim Mosques being targeted. The fact that this was a government doing the targeting makes it no less an act of racism.

nov 17, 2012, 4:06pm

I think Christians are also being targeted by those who want an absence of religion as well. I think people are confusing freedom of religion and freedom from religion. I don't think we are to the point that Hitler's regime was at in the effort to annihilate the Jews, but it's becoming increasingly difficult for persons of any faith to freely practice their religion.

nov 17, 2012, 6:05pm

We certainly have a long way to go to get to the point where we look at someone and don't immediately group them by color, religion, gender or class. Anything that's not understood is under suspicion. There seems to be a need to sniff out anyone who is different in order to feel righteous. It's been that way since the dawn of time and although maybe not as blatant as in the past, it's certainly still there.

nov 18, 2012, 6:41am

Interestingly just read about Dunbars number, a theory that states there is a limit on the number in one persons social group and any more than that more restrictive laws are required to keep the peace. Not sure I agree but it's an interesting thought that we are hard wired to only empathise with limited groups and tend to put everyone else as "other".

nov 18, 2012, 11:53am

->180 DeltaQueen50:
It's one of those authors that I suspect I won't really take to, but I do want to give one a try - you never know, I've been surprised by authors before. Thanks for the rec's - I'll add them to the possibilies-list.

nov 18, 2012, 6:53pm

#183 - Not sure I totally agree with that either, but it makes me think of high school and how hard it could be to break into a new group. I would like to think that as adults we are more adjustable, but there are times when I have my doubts. I don't think the human race has a very good track record of accepting "different".

#184 - Georgette Heyer is a hard one to recommend. She either fits with the reader or not. But you never know, she might be just what you are looking for one day. :)

nov 18, 2012, 7:05pm

153. Feed by Mira Grant - 3.0 ★
Category: Monster Mash

I have been anticipating reading Feed by Mira Grant for quite some time, and perhaps my expectations were a little too high as I quite frankly struggled with this book. The idea of following a presidential campaign through a zombie infested America was intriguing but somewhere along the way, I felt the book bogged down. For me, the story picked up again towards the end which allowed me to complete the book..

Most people who enjoy and read “zombie” books are looking for page turning excitement and a story that keeps your eyes glued to the page. World War Z had proved that this can be done and still produce a book of merit, and this is what I hoped for with Feed. Unfortunately I didn’t find the writing lived up to what I had hoped for. The author fell back on repetitious phrases that just about drove me crazy. If I had had to read the phrase “poking dead things with a stick” one more time, I truly would have thrown the book across the room.

This book is a unique take on the zombie genre and full of thought-provoking ideas. The author’s explanation of how the infection came about and was spread was interesting and convincing. The moral decisions such as whether to destroy all the infected or isolate them, the laws that had to be changed and enforced from the death penalty to the keeping of large pets made the political situation viable and plausible.

I think the book suffered due to it’s length and as I stated above, too many repetitions. Pages and pages could have been cut if we hadn’t had to read about the main character’s eye affliction over and over again, also one or two descriptions of blood sampling surely would have sufficed. At almost 600 pages, Feed was far too long. So although this book had much to interest the reader, it didn’t do a lot to hold that interest. I know this is the first of a trilogy, and I may just pick up the next book just to see if the author has learned the value of ’least said the better’.

nov 19, 2012, 5:26am

Good review. Feed has been on the radar for a while, but it gets such mixed reviews I can never make myself try it. I think after your review I will finally err on the "only if I see if very cheap" category :) I just don't have the patience and life is too short!

nov 19, 2012, 8:56am

Shame that Feed didn't quite work out for you. It's been on my wishlist for a while as there has been some good reviews for it in the past. I may have to think again now though.

nov 19, 2012, 3:09pm

Interesting review of Feed, DQ! I'm on the fence about it, because I really like the Toby Daye series by the same author (writing as Seanan McGuire). But I'm not nuts about zombies to begin with, so I'll probably skip it and stick to the author's other works.

nov 19, 2012, 5:17pm

#187, 188, 189 - I was quite disappointed with this book, I was so looking forward to it. I deliberately saved it to be my last in the Monster Mash category, but it just goes to show you - you never know which books are going to be the stars! And as much as I wanted Feed to be my 'Monster Book of the Year", it just didn't happen.

nov 19, 2012, 5:25pm

154. Henrietta's War†† by Joyce Dennys - 4.0 ★
Category: Soldier Boy

Joyce Dennys wrote a series of articles during World War II for Sketch Magazine. These articles, based on her own life, were in the form of letters written to her childhood friend, Robert. Through her character of Henrietta, she voiced the daily affairs, frustrations and trials of keeping a doctor’s house running though the changes that war inevitably brought.. With humor, verve and grace, Henrietta and her friends spring to life and everything from tea parties to their fears of Nazi invasion are covered. Many of these “letters” are accompanied by black and white line drawings that add to the overall amusement.

Henrietta lives in a small coastal village in Devon. Her articles are peopled with quirky, endearing characters and actually give one a fairly accurate picture of upper middle class life in Britain during the war.
From worrying about her children, one a soldier and the other working as a nurse to worrying about what to put on the dinner table, Henrietta appears to be a rather mild woman but nothing much gets past her, and she has plenty to say about her friends and neighbours, painting a vivid picture of village life.

Extremely clever, optimistic and, at times laugh-out-loud funny, Henrietta’s War was a fun read. This book covered the years 1939 to 1941, and there is a sequel called Henrietta Sees It Through that covers the remaining war years.

nov 19, 2012, 5:52pm

.... and Henrietta's War automatically gets added to my 2013 epistolary category candidates list. I know I will find that one interesting! There's a sequel you say... even better. ;-) Thanks for bringing this one to my attention Judy!

nov 19, 2012, 7:58pm

Hi Lori, you're welcome. I think I heard about Henrietta's War from someone in a previous Category Challenge. I don't remember who or which year, which is why I try to remember to make note of who recommended what nowadays.

nov 19, 2012, 11:07pm

Henrietta's War sounds like a good candidate for the WL.

nov 21, 2012, 12:58pm

155. The Garden of Eve by K.L. Going - 3.1 ★
Category: Do You Believe In Magic?

In The Garden of Eve by K.L. Going we find eleven year old Eve, who, having lost her mother a year ago is now being moved across the country to an apple farm in upstate New York. She has to leave her home, her friends and her mother’s final resting place. When they arrive, they find an orchard of blighted trees, a half dead town and a crumbling farmhouse. They say the area is cursed and Eve hears of a lost girl, and meets a boy who claims to be dead and strangest of all is the gift of a mysterious seed.

Suddenly finding herself caught up in a fairy tale, Eve learns to believe in life and love once again. This YA fantasy is about dealing with grief, connecting with family and opening yourself up to life. A little too sentimental for my taste, but as it’s target age would be nine to twelve year olds, the sentimentalism is probably not as overdone as it appears to my jaded self.

Bearing in mind who the author is directing her words to, I think she has managed to write an allegorical story filled with imagery and magical realism. Although a little juvenile for my taste, The Garden of Eve sends a hopeful message about life and holding onto one’s dreams that I think would appeal to the younger reader.

nov 23, 2012, 9:43pm

Must be difficult to write a book about death and mourning for a younger reader, so good to know there are some successful ones out there. The cover is lovely (and looks appropriate) too.

nov 24, 2012, 3:10pm

Hi Eva, yes, it was a difficult subject and one I am sure that would be very hard to strike the right chord with. I think it was the cover that sold me on getting this book, I hate to think I am so suggestable, but I think cover art plays a big part in many of my selections.

Ok, here it is, the following book completes my 2012 Challenge, and I am going out on a very high note!

Redigerat: nov 24, 2012, 3:16pm

156. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline - 5.0 ★
Category: Heard It Thru The Grapevine - Recommended by Mark59 and Bell7 (Mary)

What a fun ride to the past Ready Player One by Ernest Cline turned out to be. Reliving the pop culture of the 1980’s while reading about a futuristic America was a total blast. The story started off slowly with character introductions and scene setting, but suddenly it took off and I was glued to the pages, totally addicted to this roller coaster ride of a 1980’s trivia inspired adventure.

Music and movies have always played an important role in my life and I loved the many references to these throughout the book. The author took some of the best movie plots of the Eighties and included them in his book, so we are treated to a great “buddy” story, a sweet love story, a treasure hunt with billions of dollars at stake and a total geek love-fest. My Eighties were taken up with working and raising a family, but even I spent some time at PacMan, Q*Bert and other early video games, I can only imagine the joy this book would evoke in a avid games player.

I am usually quite leery of books that receive this type of “buzz”, but Ready Player One really spoke to me. Using a plethora of eighties detail the author convincingly lays out his action packed story of the future, but there is a small warning on these pages of how the real world could suffer if an addiction to virtual reality were to take over as it has in Wade’s world. I suspect Ready Player One is a polarizing book according to how the reader is affected by the concept, and although this was far from the best writing, for me it’s an easy 5 stars for sheer enjoyment and gut-appeal.

nov 24, 2012, 3:20pm

That's it, finished with the 2012 Challenge.

I am now looking forward to a month of "free" reading, but I am also already anticipating the start of my 2013 Challenge in January.

I will be continue to post my reading here as Bonus Reads.

nov 24, 2012, 4:14pm


nov 24, 2012, 4:20pm

It's great that your 'last' book was a good one.

nov 24, 2012, 5:21pm

Hooray! Enjoy your free reading time!

nov 24, 2012, 6:08pm


nov 24, 2012, 6:28pm


nov 24, 2012, 11:12pm

Congratulations on finishing your challenge!

nov 24, 2012, 11:19pm

Congrats on completing your challenge and with a good book to end it with too. No book-bullet for me as it's already on the wishlist but another good review is always welcome. Enjoy your free-reading time until we start all over again.

nov 25, 2012, 12:37am

Conga Rats!!!

nov 25, 2012, 12:45am

Congratulations and enjoy your month of 'free' reading.

nov 25, 2012, 5:57am

Hooray & Congrats! Freedom is such a dizzy feeling ;-)

nov 25, 2012, 8:19am

Congratulations Judi. Enjoy your free month..

nov 25, 2012, 1:45pm

Nice book to end your challenge with Judy! Enjoy your free reading month!

nov 25, 2012, 1:50pm

Congratulations, Judy!

nov 25, 2012, 6:09pm

Thanks for all the congrats. Free reading for me is kind of a joke as 99% of my reading fits into my 2012 Categories. I will get around to a Challenge Summary soon.

Redigerat: nov 25, 2012, 6:16pm

Bonus Read - Soldier Boy

Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene - 3.8 ★

Summer of my German Soldier by Bette Green is a short book telling the story of Patty Bergen, a young Jewish-American girl living in Aransas during World War II. The summer that she was twelve German prisoners of war are brought to a camp near her small town of Jenkinsville.

Patty meets one of these prisoners when they are brought to her father’s store, and realizes that this young man is nothing like the fearful Nazi’s she has heard of, in fact, he was very nice to her. Being treated nicely is something Patty doesn’t have a lot of experience with as her self-absorbed mother is highly critical of her and her father is a short tempered, abusive man. Patty spends most of her young life trying to please her parents and get them to like her. When this young German escapes, Patty offers him food, shelter and clothing. While harbouring him, their friendship develops and Anton realizes he must move on, if only to keep Patty safe from the authorities. But it appears that she is doomed to be found out and finds herself having to face consequences that would break a weaker person.

The book, while detailing the friendship between Patty and Anton, really is much more about Patty developing her self-esteem and making plans for her future. Coming to the realization that nothing is ever going to change in her relationship with her parents, Patty must learn how to get through the next few years until she is old enough to move forward and establish her independence.

I found Summer of My German Soldier to be both heart-breaking and thought provoking. This is not a light story with a happy ending, but it is realistic and, thankfully, the reader is left with some hope for Patty’s future.

nov 25, 2012, 10:07pm

Belated congrats on completing your challenge!

nov 25, 2012, 11:19pm

Great review of Summer of My German Soldier. That explains why it's become sort of an awkward YA classic. I know a lot of people have objected to it. I still haven't read it, but sounds like I should some day.

nov 26, 2012, 1:56pm

I'm definitely behind the curve, but congratulations on finishing your challenge! Glad it ended on a high note...your review of Ready Player One almost has me convinced to pick up the book, although I was a child in the '80s and probably won't know very many of the references.

Redigerat: nov 26, 2012, 2:00pm

Congratulations to finishing your category. I recently read Ready Player one and also really enjoyed it. As well as a cool science fiction story, it's a great blast from the past!
Zork, Commodore 64 (my first computer), The Last Starfighter, etc.

nov 26, 2012, 2:25pm

Congrats on finishing - good to hear you're sticking around until the 2013 takes over! :) Ready Player One sounds like a perfect way to conclude - I might start next year's with that one!

nov 26, 2012, 3:21pm

#215 - Thanks Pammab. I am really looking forward to next years challenge, in fact, I can see that I will probably start a little early, perhaps in the week after Christmas.

#216 - Katie, awkward describes Summer of My German Soldier perfectly. At times this book read like juvenile fiction, while at other times I found it quite adult. The story, to me, wasn't really about the relationship between Patty and the German soldier, more about Patty and her home situation and her own personal growth. There was no resolution, Patty was going to have to put in a few years with her abusive parents before she reached the legal age of 18.

#217 - Hi Christina, I think Ready Player One is one of those books that the reader needs to try for himself. I suspect this book makes for strong reactions either pro or con, but I definitely think a lack of 1980's pop culture would affect the reader's enjoyment.

#218 - Hi Mamzel, I suspect Ready Player One will make my Top Books of the Year List.

#219 - Hi Eva, RPO would be a perfect way to launch 2013!

nov 26, 2012, 4:03pm

I've just put Ready Player One on one of my library lists so that I wont forget to give it a try as it sounds interesting.

nov 26, 2012, 11:25pm

I still can't decide if I want to read Summer of My German Soldier or not. I'd of course want Patty to get out of her situation. Even a few years is too long to be stuck in an abusive situation. But of course, if fiction is going to be realistic, not everyone does get out of abusive situations. Grrr

nov 27, 2012, 12:55am

> #222 - Don't you just hate it when the possibility of reading a certain book places you in a quandary........ I am curious to find out which part wins! ;-)

nov 27, 2012, 12:56am


Category Information:

1. Do You Believe in Magic - Fantasy
- Books Read = 12
- 5 Star Read = The Goose Girl
- Average Rating for Category = 3.9
- Author Ratio Male:Female = 3:9

2. Monster Mash - Vampires, Ghouls, Zombies etc

- Books Read = 12
- Five Star Reads : None but high marks for The Last Werewolf and Dracula
- Average Rating for Category = 3.8
- Author Ratio Male:Female = 8:4

3. Romeo & Juliet - Historical Fiction

- Books Read = 12
- Five Star Read: Mistress of the Art of Death
- Average Rating for Category = 4.0
- Author Ratio Male:Female = 6:6

4. Home On the Range - American West

- Books Read = 12
- Five Star Reads = Stone Song , Doc
- Average Rating for Category = 4.2
- Author Ratio Male:Female = 8:4

5. Thriller Night - Mysteries/Crime Novels

- Books Read = 12
- Five Star Read = None
- Average Rating for Category: 3.7
- Author Ratio Male:Female = 5:7

6. I Will Follow Him - Mystery/Crime Series

- Books Read = 12
- Five Star Read = None
- Average Rating for Category = 4.0
- Author Ratio Male:Female = 6:6

7. Heard It Through the Grapevine - Recommended Books

- Books Read = 12
- Five Star Reads = Sea of Poppies, Ready Player One
- Average Rating for Category = 4.4
- Author Ratio Male:Female = 8:4

8. True Colors - Non-Fiction Books

- Books Read = 12
- Five Star Read = The Devil in the White City, We Band of Angels, Life
- Average Rating for Category = 4.0
- Author Ratio Male:Female = 8:4

9. Every Picture Tells A Story - Graphic Novels & Comics

- Books Read = 12
- Five Star Read = Blankets
- Average Rating for Category = 3.8
- Author Ratio Male:Female = 8:4

10. Soldier Boy - Books About War & the Homefront

- Books Read = 12
- Five Star Read = The Moon Is Down
- Average Rating for Category = 4.1
- Author Ratio Male:Female = 6:6

11. Young At Heart - YA & Children's Literature

- Books Read = 12
- Five Star Read = Divergent
- Average Rating for Category = 3.8
- Author Ratio Male:Female = 1/11

12. Go Where You Wanna Go - Reader's Choice

- Books Read = 12
- Five Star Reads = River of Smoke, Faithful Place
- Average Rating for Category = 4.1
- Author Ratio Male:Female = 6:6

13. Calendar Girl - Bonus Monthly Themed Reads

- Books Read = 12
- Five Star Read = March
- Average Rating for Category = 3.8
- Author Ratio Male:Female = 4:8


Top 5 Reads of the Year

- Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh
- Life by Keith Richards
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
- We Band of Angels by Elizabeth M. Norman
- March by Geraldine Brooks

Worst Book of the Year

- The Land of Summer by Charlotte Bingham - very disappointing as this is an author I have loved in the past

Favorite New-to-Me Authors

- Amitave Ghosh
- Ernest Cline
- Veronica Roth

nov 27, 2012, 1:01am

#221 - Tricia, I hope you enjoy RPO, I'll look forward to your comments.

#222 - Katie, in case this helps you decide, Summer of My German Soldier is very short, 199 pages to be exact.

#234 - Lori, I'll be interested in whether Katie reads SOMGS as well.

nov 27, 2012, 3:37am

Short helps. :)

nov 27, 2012, 6:55am

Nice summary, Judy!

nov 27, 2012, 12:41pm

#226 - Just something to bear in mind. ;)

#227 - Thanks, Dave. I sure hope my next reading year will be a good as 2012 turned out to be!

nov 27, 2012, 12:45pm


Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell

Who Goes There? by John W Campbell is a short novella that is a real page turner. This work was the basis for both the 1951 film called “The Thing from Another World” and 1982’s “The Thing”. A research camp in Antarctica finds a frozen alien body, thaws it out and unleashes a terror upon themselves. The creature has the ability to morph into a person or animal and the tension builds as the 37 people at the station wonder who is still human and who is a monster. Their main goal is to keep the monster contained in Antarctica and not allow this horror to spread to the rest of the world.

A short, scary read that gathers tension as the paranoia mounts. A little dated perhaps, but certainly this story holds interest to science-fiction lovers everywhere. If there is a weakness, it could be said that the author spends a little more time on the science and less so on his character development. But for a short (168 pages) read, I thought it was very well done.

nov 27, 2012, 2:39pm

They came out with another version last year. Can't get enough of those aliens exploding out of bodies, I guess. I just wish they left the dogs alone.

nov 27, 2012, 6:07pm

Hi, catching up almost a month's worth of postes here! Congratulations on finishing and on a strong finish of your challenge. Ready player one sounds like something I'd enjoy, and also pretty much like a perfest present for my brother the gamer. Thanks for the tip! Good to see you hanging around here for the rest of the year (as the 2013 group page is still a field of untouched snow to me :)

nov 27, 2012, 11:27pm

Who Goes there is already on the WL. :)

nov 28, 2012, 7:50am

I'm even later than Anders in catching up, congratulations and I managed to dodge the book bullet as ready player one is already on the WL but you got me with who goes there!

nov 28, 2012, 1:05pm

#230 - I didn't know they had made another movie out of Who Goes There?. It's been years since I saw the 1951 version with James Arness, and I don't remember if I ever saw the one made in the eighties. And now there's an even newer one, I guess it's time for me to check out one of these versions again.

#231 - Hi Anders, you'll be surprised when you do get over to the 2013 Challenge, lots of new faces to meet and greet. I hope both you and your brother enjoy Ready Player One, I'm looking forward to passing my copy on to my gamer brother as well!

#232 - Katie, another short one!

#233 - I hope you enjoy Who Goes There?. It was originally published in 1938 so a little dated, but still manages to grab the imagination.

nov 28, 2012, 1:14pm


The Mystic Rose by Stephen Lawhead

The Mystic Rose by Stephen Lawhead is the final book of his Celtic Crusades trilogy, dealing with the retrieval of three of the most holy of relics, the lance used to pierce the side of Jesus as he was on the cross, a piece of the actual cross and, in this book the cup that Jesus used at the Last Supper. One relic for each generation, and in this book we follow the adventures of Cait, daughter of Duncan and granddaughter of Murdo, both of whom were featured in the other books.

This book did not stir my imagination quite the way the other two had, and I found myself reading it just to complete the trilogy. The characters were a little too lacking in depth to be believable, Cait was too forthright and modern to be a woman of the twelfth century, and the villain was to much over the top and relishing his power by acts that the church would never have condoned, particularly when it came to violence against nuns and archbishops.

I freely admit that I am not well versed in Christian theology but I found much of the mysticism mentioned in this story to be vague and clichéd. Perhaps it was simply that this trilogy was getting a little stale, but overall, I thought this was the weakest of the three books.

nov 28, 2012, 4:15pm

I haven't read much of Lawhead's works - in fact the only one I have read is Avalon: The Return of King Arthur which was more of a futuristic fantasy story. I do want to read more of Lawhead's books but I think I will continue with the Pendragon series - I should probably go and start with book one of the series - and the whole Arthur legend before I consider diving into the Crusades.

nov 28, 2012, 9:11pm

Hi Lori, I was going to try his Robin Hood Trilogy, but then I got sidetracked by a different trilogy on Robin Hood by Angus Donald so now I don't know if I will bother.

nov 29, 2012, 12:27pm

DQ, I remember reading the first book of Lawhead's Robin Hood trilogy. I liked it well enough, but I haven't been tempted to continue with the series.

nov 30, 2012, 1:57am

Hi Christina, that's pretty much the way I feel about Lawhead's writing, I like it well enough, but it doesn't tempt me to continue on with more books.

nov 30, 2012, 8:42am

Catching up on everybody's thread and wanted to add my very late congratulations on finishing your challenge!

nov 30, 2012, 10:04am

Let me add my congratulations! Nice to see you have discovered Amitav Ghosh, I am a big fan.

nov 30, 2012, 12:53pm

#240 #241 - Thanks.

Redigerat: nov 30, 2012, 1:00pm


The Last Trail†† by Zane Grey - 3.6 ★

Zane Grey stories usually convey to the reader a piece of Americana that has long vanished. The Last Trail was no exception. Set in the backwoods country of the Ohio River a few years after the American Revolution, this story is of the last of the bordermen or woodsmen that were still roaming this area, hunting Indians and outlaws and helping the homesteaders stay safe. Many of the same characters from his earlier books Betty Zane and Spirit of the Border are in this story as well, in fact these three books are often grouped together as his “Ohio River Trilogy”.

Grey portrays the border men as a dying breed, and uses a love story to show the pull that his hero goes through as he decides on whether to stay in the wilderness or come into the settlements and marry Helen, the girl he has fallen in love with. When Helen is abducted by some particularly nasty renegades, he vows to get her back and start a new life or die trying.

With lots of killings and violence, offset by the gentle love story, The Last Trail was a fun read. The author’s love of nature shines through his poetic yet detailed descriptions of the surrounding woodlands. Originally published in 1909, the prose is somewhat outdated and flowery, yet fits with the mode of the story.

Redigerat: dec 4, 2012, 6:57pm


The Water's Lovely by Ruth Rendell - 3.2 ★

I have a long history with Ruth Rendell and she has the ability to either astonish and delight me, or frustrate and disappoint me. In The Water’s Lovely, she manages to do all four. No one is better at building a story, layer by layer than Ruth Rendell, and here she takes a group of people, some virtual strangers to each other, and weaves her magic, blending each character with one another, slowly exposing secrets, and eventually allowing the truth to emerge. You feel the tension mounting but are never sure if a murder has happened, if another one it going to happen, or even who will be the victim and who the killer.

I don’t want to discuss the plot in any way as I wouldn’t want to spoil it for a future readers, but be assured that Ruth Rendell is a master at the craft of psychological mysteries. The pacing is excellent as she brings the story to a slow boil, and her characterizations are spot on. Unfortunately, there were couple of flies in the ointment for me, firstly so much of the story revolved on people not talking to one another which would have been believable with some of these very private people, but using the same plot device with all her characters made me feel as if the author was being a little lazy. Secondly, I really hated the ending and felt she cheated the reader out of seeing certain characters get their just rewards.

So for me, a very good read and one that held my attention but even as I was willing to forgive her the repeated plot device, the ending just didn’t satisfy me.

dec 5, 2012, 8:56am

I'll be reading that one this month. Sorry to hear that it is not as good as it could have been. Still, I'm determined to get that one out of my stash. I like the cover on your version better than on the one I have at home. My cover is this one:

dec 6, 2012, 2:58am

Hi Lori, when it comes to Ruth Rendell, I have pretty high expectations, but this one didn't quite live up to the standard I have come to expect from her.

Redigerat: dec 6, 2012, 3:04am


The Christmas Chronicles by Tim Slover - 4.0 ★

Looking for a book that would help me get into the spirit of Christmas, I picked up The Christmas Chronicles by Tim Slover. Professing to be the true story behind the legend of Santa Claus, this small book within a book quickly draws one in and definitely has plenty of holiday magic. Managing to be sweet and charming without becoming overly-sentimental, the life and times of Santa Claus are revealed, nicely wrapped up in a beautiful small book and giving the reader hints of peppermint and maple sugar cookies.

This would be a perfect read-aloud story for the family. Children that are ready for the next tale beyond The Night Before Christmas would certainly enjoy this charming story. The author dishes out magic, flying reindeer and an epic battle between good and evil. Perhaps my only quibble is that although the author has Santa evolving through the years, he keeps the whole story firmly planted in Christian values, and never gives recognition to any pagan traditions that have been incorporated into the Santa Claus myth.

If you need a slight kick-start to get into the magic of the season this whimsical short book would be a perfect way to do it, just add a glowing fire and a cup of steaming hot chocolate.

Redigerat: dec 7, 2012, 4:11pm


Albert of Adelaide by Howard Anderson - 4.1 ★

Albert of Adelaide by Howard Anderson is a fantasy about a platypus who, having escaped from the zoo at Adelaide, is on a journey of discovery. He has heard of a different Australia, an “old Australia’ where animals can live in harmony and freedom. While searching for this mythical place, he also embarks on a journey of self-awareness and learns how powerful friendships can be.

Finding himself in a harsh desert landscape and having to fight for survival was not what Albert had planned on, but he rises to every occasion and, wearing his heart on his sleeve, learns what it is like to become a hero. A difficult book to describe, I will borrow the words of Mary Doria Russell, author of Doc and The Sparrow:

“If Larry McMurtry had written Wind in the Willows, he might have come up with something almost as wonderful and moving as Howard Anderson’s Albert of Adelaide. This is a novel that defies analysis and summaries. Trust me, just read it.”

dec 7, 2012, 6:30pm

The combo of McMurtry and Wind in the willows sure sounds interesting!

dec 7, 2012, 8:26pm

And the cover is great too! Think I'll be taking a book bullet on this one.

dec 7, 2012, 8:57pm

Book bullet hit me, too!

dec 7, 2012, 9:46pm

LOL, and who can resist a platypus!

dec 9, 2012, 2:29am

Oh I hope lots of people read Albert of Adelaide, I thought it was very unique and different, and I will be interested in what everyone else thinks of it.

dec 9, 2012, 2:34am

I have been spending my last week pretty much flat on my back on my sofa or in bed. Picked up a nasty throat infection which is finally starting to clear, but has left me with a heavy cough. The only good thing to this was I really had nothing much else to do but read. I really appreciated the audio book I was listening to as I actually found it easier to concetrate on than the actual books. This was a good thing, as my audio book was A Tale of Two Cities and, I admit, I was a little hesitant about listening to it. Now I can say it was one of the best listening experiences I have had so far.

dec 9, 2012, 2:39am


A Tale of Two Cities†† by Charles Dickens - 4.2 ★

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens rightly remains one of his most popular stories. A work of historical fiction when it was first published in 1859, Dickens tells the rich, detailed story of Dr. Manette, his daughter Lucy and the two men who love her, Charles Darnay and Sydney Carton. With a backdrop of the terror of the French Revolution and peopled with vivid, memorable characters, it is easy to see why this book remains so popular well over 150 years later.

This was my third Dickens this year, and perhaps I am getting used to his dense prose, but I found this one the most accessible. His trademark use of incredible coincidences to advance the plot is very much in evidence here. Characters are revealed to be related or linked by past events, even a grave robbing comes to play a significant part later in the book. You can see that Dickens methodically worked out his plot and every character, every scene was used to add another link in the chain and all were to the benefit of the story.

The righteous Miss Pross, the darkly twisted Madame Defarge, and the kindly Mr. Lorry are three of my favorite characters and all played their parts in A Tale of Two Cities to perfection. Yes, the book is melodramatic, but in such a grand scale as to be epic. This book has love, revenge, political upheaval, and a noble act of self-sacrifice. I admit that though I read the last few pages with tears streaming from my eyes, I thought the closing of A Tale of Two Cities was sheer perfection.

dec 9, 2012, 7:59am

Judy, A Tale of Two Cities is one of my favorite books. I always cry at the end even on re-reads. I'm glad you enjoyed the audio version.

dec 9, 2012, 8:33am

And it also probably wins for both best first AND best last lines. Love it! No other Dickens as measured up to it for me yet.

dec 9, 2012, 3:47pm

Hi Carrie and Japaul, A Tale of Two Cities is definitely going to be placed on the shelf with all my favorities, and you are so right about the opening and closing lines, two of the best and certainly among the most quoted lines ever.

dec 9, 2012, 9:40pm

I, too, love A Tale of Two Cities -- so glad to hear you enjoyed it so much as well!

dec 9, 2012, 11:23pm

I read Tale of Two Cities at the beginning of the year, and I also sobbed through the last few chapters.

dec 10, 2012, 11:17pm

I already have A Tale of Two Cities on Mt. TBR, so I was hoping I'd escape without a new bookbullet, but then you had to post Albert of Adelaide... Such a great cover!

dec 12, 2012, 6:20pm

I've been trying to get into the Christmas mood and have been reading/listening to some Christmas books over the last couple of days. I loved the stories, but still no Christmas feeling for me. I may have to resign myself to just putting on a smiley face and (gulp) pretending this year!

#259 & 260 - I've enjoyed most of the Dicken's that I have read (admittedly only about 5), but AToTC is the first one that brought out so many emotions in me. And considering how the Victorians loved sentimentality, I think he showed remarkable restraint in the closing passages, and hit just the perfect note. Of course, I still sobbed like a baby!

#261 - Hi Eva, I love that cover. I heard about Albert of Adelaide on a podcast called "Books On the Nightstand", but when I saw the cover, that sold it.

Redigerat: dec 12, 2012, 10:21pm


The Christmas Mouse by Miss Read - 4.0 ★

The Christmas Mouse by Miss Read is a short book that covers one Christmas Eve in rural Shepherd’s Cross during the mid-1950’s. In a small cottage lives the elderly Mrs. Berry, her widowed daughter Mary, along with Mary’s two young daughters. Starting early on the 24th we follow this small family as they make their preparations for Christmas and settle in to the warm and safety of their cottage on a rather stormy Christmas Eve. This particular Christmas Eve becomes a memorable one as Mrs. Berry plays host to two mice during the night. The first has scared her from her bedroom, and wrapping herself in a quilt, she prepares to spend the night downstairs in the parlour. Noises waken her in the middle of the night to find there is another intruder, about to help himself to their hard earned Christmas goodies. This second little mouse is actually a young man that Mrs. Berry is able to warm, feed and convince to return to his own home. Deciding that she needs her own bed, she now learns to tackle her phobia and help the small Christmas mouse that is trapped in her bedroom and trying to find it’s own way home.

This was a heart-warming read for Christmas, told in Miss Read’s gentle way. She brings back memories of a bygone time, her story is richly enhanced by her fresh and realistic descriptions. Her mention of the sharp tangy smell of the orange at the bottom of the stocking, or the sharp perfume of pine boughs in the house carried me back to my own childhood.

This was an audible book, read by Gwen Watford. Ms Watford has a mellow, beautifully rounded, very English voice that lent itself to this story perfectly.

Redigerat: dec 12, 2012, 10:20pm


No Holly For Miss Quinn by Miss Read - 4.0 ★

Another audible story read by Gwen Watford, No Holly For Miss Quinn by Miss Read, tells of Miriam Quinn, a career woman who is so happy to become the tenant of the annex at Holly House in rural Fairfield. Her home now becomes her escape from her busy job, a cozy haven in the country. She is looking forward to the peace and quiet of Christmas and has made plans to spend it in delicious solitude. Unfortunately, although Miriam has thrived in the career world, her personal life has left her feeling safest when avoiding social contact and keeping her own company.

Her brother, a country vicar, calls her in some distress. His wife has been admitted to the hospital and he needs help with the running of the vicarage and with his three children. Of course, Miriam, having a strong sense of duty drops everything and rushes to their aid. In doing so, she finds another type of joy at Christmas, one of sharing, being involved in the community and, most of all, the warmth of family.

I loved listening to this story, especially the small details like the descriptions of the countryside around the little village, and the simple way of life that seems to have disappeared in today’s modern world.

dec 14, 2012, 5:30pm


Island Madness by Tim Binding - 4.1 ★

In Island Madness by Tim Binding, it is 1943, the tide of war is slowing changing but on Guernsey Island, the Germans are still the occupiers of this small part of Britain. On the surface life appears fairly serene, parties are held, amateur theatre performances are given, the daily business of life goes on, but underneath resentments are building with smuggling and black market operations coming into play.

When a young local girl is found murdered, suspicion falls on many. As she was one of the women that openly associated with the Germans, was this a reprisal murder, or is it a case of a young girl falling into the hands of some soldiers at the wrong time, or is this something else entirely?

Island Madness is a well written account of the German occupation of Guernsey Island. In subtle ways the author shows the impact of war upon this community. The storyline raises the question of morality and responsibility during wartime, as it makes it’s point that what is acceptable during wartime would not be condoned during times of peace. I enjoyed this story and really liked how the author didn’t make all the Germans bad and all the British good. Each character has their own choices to make according to their own moral makeup.

While the murder plot is at the heart of this story, Island Madness was much more about how one prioritizes one’s values during times of crisis. On Guernsey Island we see that although some collaborated and some resisted, many simply put their heads down and tried to endure.

dec 15, 2012, 1:16am

Island Madness sounds interesting, a novel with lots of subtlety on a not so subtle topic.

dec 15, 2012, 9:04pm

Hi Katie, I thought it was was very well done. Certainly not an edge-of-your-seat murder mystery, much more an overall look at people in crisis. It was interesting to read of how some Islanders felt almost betrayed by Britain as no retaliations were forthcoming. They felt that they had been ignored. Also since the islands had no military value, the whole occupation seemed more like Hitler thumbing his nose at the English.

Redigerat: dec 15, 2012, 10:11pm


Life of Pi by Yann Martel - 5.0 ★

Life of Pi by Yann Martel will probably go down as my most surprising book of the year. A book of wonder and delight, very different from what I was expecting. Obviously a master story-teller, the author makes believable the fantastic story that Pi has to tell,

The character of Pi is one of the most likeable ones I have read about. His devotion, his determination, his instinct for survival are equally strong. He simply refuses to give up, and although at times is bowed by despair, he always fights back and overcomes each challenge. Written beautifully and, whether giving a insight into the philosophy of life, or simply delivering a biological fact about animals, this book always gives the reader something to ponder and reflect upon.

A boy, a lifeboat and a tiger. In the end the author throws down one last challenge, do you believe? I certainly did and I highly recommend Life of Pi to anyone who wants to get carried away on a grand adventure.

dec 15, 2012, 11:21pm

Darn it - Life of Pi is another book waiting for me on my TBR bookcase..... 5 stars, eh? Humm..... good thing I am planning most of my 2013 reading around the books on my bookcase!

Nice review, Judy!

dec 16, 2012, 3:21am

Great review of Life of Pi. No spoilers, yet you gave a nod to all that is important in it. I was reading the book as an animal behaviorist - not sure if bananas float, but I totally believed the tiger.

dec 16, 2012, 6:57am

I loved the book when I read it which must have been before 2008 when I joined LT since it's not listed in my library. I would have given it 5 stars too.

dec 16, 2012, 3:32pm

#269 - Lori, it's a great read. Maybe you could plan to read it in September next year. It won the Man Booker Prize 2002, so it would count toward the AwardCat that will be focusing on the Man Booker Prize that month

#270 & 271 - Hi katie and Betty, I just love this type of book, hard to classify, a little ambiguous, beautifully written and totally absorbing. I just regret that it took me so long to getting around to it!

Redigerat: dec 17, 2012, 8:00pm

I too read the book pre-LT (now that I think about it, it must have been almost 10 years ago - time goes by so fast!!), so I have no review to refer back to, but I'm definitely agreeing with your 5-star assessment! Great review!

dec 16, 2012, 8:53pm

Ack! Three BB's this visit. I fear a book buying binge may occur in January. :)

dec 16, 2012, 10:03pm

Hi Eva, I don't know why I put Life of Pi so far on the back burner. It was actually the movie previews that made me think, wait a minute, that looks interesting.

Hi Laura, I am hoping for book gift cards or maybe just some straight cash for Christmas that I know I can put to good use in January, too.

dec 17, 2012, 7:49pm

Life of Pi is not listed in my library, but I know I have it because I just put it back into a box when I was grabbing another book from it. I guess I need to add it to my library and get to it soon! I'll have to go back to that box and get the ISBN of the edition I have.

dec 17, 2012, 9:26pm

Hi Lori, I do that every now and again, find a book on my shelves that I obviously forgot to enter into my library but that's better than buying a book and then finding that you already have it, which I have also done!

dec 18, 2012, 6:21am

For some reason I've never been tempted by Life of Pi. Now I might have to be.

dec 18, 2012, 12:30pm

#278 - I was the same way, Dave, it just didn't seem like a book that would interest me. As I said, the most surprising book of the year for me.

dec 18, 2012, 2:32pm

#279 I was the same way, too. I read it only as a result of someone picking it out for me for my Ask-a-Friend category.

dec 19, 2012, 11:57pm

Hi Sandy, a lot of people have said that they weren't very interested in picking this book up. I think the publisher's must have miscalculated their promotion of this book. Somehow they didn't make it sound appealing enough!

Redigerat: dec 20, 2012, 12:01am


The Call of the Wild†† by Jack London - 4.1 ★

The Call of the Wild by Jack London is a book I have long wanted to read, somehow missing this classic as a younger reader. Now that I have read it, I am glad that this was missed in my younger days as I don’t know if I would have been able to handle the animal cruelty that plays such a large part of this story. Maybe we were tougher years ago as many of the great animal classic stories like this one, Black Beauty and Beautiful Joe have many scenes that today would not be accepted in a children’s story.

The story of Buck, being snatched from his easy life in California and being taken to work in the gold fields, shows him to be a special dog, dominant and intelligent, and, after finding out how cruel man can be, he learns to read both people and the situations that arise in his life. The story follows Buck as he is passed through various owners, some cruel, some indifferent and one that Buck learns to love. All the while, deep inside Buck comes a call, a desire to run free in the wilderness.

At my much advanced age, I can now appreciate Jack London’s writing, especially when describing the Alaskan wilderness. The story is fast paced with excellent action sequences and overall I would class this a great read, if, and it’s a big if, you can face the brutality of what Buck goes through. The themes of like natured beasts calling out to each other, and the luring back to the primordial life that exists deep in memory are a little dated but overall this is a compelling read. London uses language like a poet, simple, at times savage, but always rich in imagery.

dec 20, 2012, 8:27am

Great review of Call of the Wild! I was one of those who had read it as a requirement for an English class in high school. I recall being moved by the story but certainly, awareness of animal cruelty issues was not so great at that time, at least not in my part of the world. Your review makes me think that I really ought to reread this classic.

Redigerat: dec 21, 2012, 7:06pm


The Leopard Unleashed by Elizabeth Chadwick - 4.1 ★

The Leopard Unleashed by Elizabeth Chadwick concludes her Wild Hunt trilogy, and does so in great style. I have enjoyed all three of these book that follow the political and personal lives of the family that dwell at Ravenstow in the Western Marches of England. Always on constant alert for Welsh raids, these times are particularly turbulent with two strong contenders for the throne, Stephen and Matilda. Long standing rivals can be allies one day and bitter enemies the next.

This story revolves around Renard who at the opening of the book is a crusader in Antioch but has been summoned home to attend his ailing father. As heir to Ravenstow, he is returning home to take up the responsibility of managing this huge parcel of property, but he is also returning home to an arranged marriage to Elene, a childhood companion. Unable to pull himself away, he arrives home with a exotic mistress in tow. With two women, and a powerful neighbour who coverts his lands, Renard must learn to step carefully both at home, and in the political circles he must travel in.

The author gives rich and thorough historic details that are well researched and authentic. Her characters spring to life in this involving and exciting story. Elizabeth Chadwick is one of my favorite authors and The Leopard Unleashed continues to enhance her reputation as one of the best novelists of the historic genre.

dec 21, 2012, 11:49pm

Nice review of The Leopard Unleashed Judy, I haven't come across Elizabeth Chadwick yet, will have to remedy that in the new year.

dec 22, 2012, 2:16am

Same war as in the Brother Cadfael series. That alone makes me curious.

dec 22, 2012, 3:11pm

Hi Lisa and Katie, Elizabeth Chadwick writes great historical fiction. Her early works, of which The Wild Hunt Trilogy is part of, leans a little more to Historical Romance but she tells a good story and she does her research. I haven't read any of the Brother Cadfael books, I will have to check them out.

dec 22, 2012, 9:18pm

The Brother Cadfael books are fun historical mystery escapism. I devoured those books when they first came out...... I am now thinking that I am overdue for a re-read!

dec 23, 2012, 2:16pm

I really enjoyed the series with Derek Jacobi. I should delve into the books.

dec 23, 2012, 11:03pm

With computer time being limited over the next couple of days, and then I will be off to visit my Mom until the New Year so I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.

I have a couple of books to finish up for the year and after I post about them here, I will be moving along to the 2013 Challenge. Hope to see you all there.

dec 24, 2012, 12:25am

Thanks for the Christmas wishes. Hope you have a great one too and of course I'll be following over into next year's challenge.

dec 24, 2012, 1:28am

I already stopped by your thread in the 75 group but wanted to say here that I am looking forward to following your reading over on the 2013 challenge, Judy! Merry Christmas!

dec 25, 2012, 10:26pm

Merry Christmas and happy new year Judy!

Redigerat: dec 28, 2012, 6:40pm

Belated merry Christmas Judy! Hope you've had a good one!

I liked Life of Pi a lot too. Especially the ending, with it's challenge to the reader.

dec 30, 2012, 2:30pm


A Killing Frost by R.D. Wingfield

A Killing Frost by R.D. Wingfield is the last of the DI Frost books and the author closed out his series with a bang. Although the Frost books are somewhat repetitive they are always exciting, very funny and ultimately richly satisfying.

Unkempt, bawdy and at times deplorable, Frost is such a well-drawn character that we, the readers, know what to expect and turn the pages in great anticipation. This is the sixth book in the series, so all the characters have been developed into well-known friends and foes that are a delight to read about. This time out Frost’s superior has found a fool proof way to demand Frost transfer to a new region. As Frost is trying to wiggle out from under this transfer, he also has to deal with various and assorted crimes from missing teenagers, a serial rapist, and a particular nasty case of consumer terrorism and blackmail.

As Frost staggers from crisis to crisis, we enjoy the vivid interplay between the characters and wince at some of the antics. The humor is black, and be warned; this is a police procedural that doesn’t pull its punches. I will greatly miss these books, and DI Frost who has become a well-loved, sympathetic and familiar character over the course of R.D. Wingfield’s six books.

dec 30, 2012, 2:32pm

This will be my last book of 2012, and I will now move to the 2013 Challenge. Hope to see everyone over there.

dec 30, 2012, 2:36pm

And why isn't this series already on my wishlist? It's been rectified now! :)

Have a great New Year's!!!

dec 31, 2012, 1:37am

A DI Frost book - what a great way to end your 2012 reading, Judy! I love the BBC series A Touch of Frost staring David Jason, that is based on the books.... although I admit I can't watch more than two episodes at time as the subject matter starts to weigh me down.

Wishing you a Happy New Year!

jan 2, 2013, 5:22am

Belated Happy New Year!

jan 7, 2013, 9:32am

belated everything! hmm like others have never been interested in life of pi but you've tweaked my interest & great review of call of the wild I read that when I was about 16 and remember being thoroughly impressed by it