rosalita (Julia) ROOTs around in 2022 - Page 2

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rosalita (Julia) ROOTs around in 2022 - Page 2

1rosalita
maj 8, 2022, 1:45 pm



I work at my alma mater, the University of Iowa, so my thread topper features seasonal images from the campus, often (as with this spring scene from March) the Old Capitol building at the center of campus. OPTIONAL HISTORY LESSON: It’s called the Old Capitol because Iowa City was briefly the capitol city of the Iowa Territory (1839-1846) and later the state of Iowa until the capitol was moved to a more central location (Des Moines) in 1857. After that, the Old Capitol hosted the entire State University of Iowa (1857-1863) and later the law school (1868-1910) until being restored as a historic monument in the 1970s. /HERE ENDETH THE LESSON

My name’s Julia, and I have too many books. Well, that’s not really possible but it’s fair to say I have too many books I haven’t read yet. I’ve participated in the ROOTs group for two years, and managed to read a total of 100 books. I started fast last year but the fall was a rough patch for me and I just managed to meet my goal of 48 books. I’m going to aim for that same target in 2022, just 4 per month. We’ll see how that goes.

That’s enough of the blather — on to the books!

2rosalita
Redigerat: aug 20, 2022, 5:45 pm

ROOTed in 2022

January
1. The Fingerprint by Patricia Wentworth.
2. Golden Girls Forever: An Unauthorized Look Behind the Lanai by Jim Colucci.
3. The Mystery of the Green Ghost by Robert Arthur.
4. The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie.

February
5. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.
6. The Alington Inheritance by Patricia Wentworth.
7. The Mystery of the Vanishing Treasure by Robert Arthur.
8. Fer-de-Lance by Rex Stout.

March
9. A Game of Fear by Charles Todd.
10. All Systems Red by Martha Wells.
11. The Secret of Skeleton Island by Robert Arthur.
12. Rally 'Round the Flag, Boys! by Max Shulman.

April
13. The Girl in the Cellar by Patricia Wentworth.
14. Taken at the Flood by Agatha Christie.

May
15. Dark Tort by Diane Mott Davidson.
16. When the Corn Is Waist High by Jeremy Scott.
17. Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higginbotham.

June
18. Trouble at the Brownstone by Robert Goldsborough.
19. The Mystery of the Fiery Eye by Robert Arthur.
20. Citizen Cash: The Political Life and Times of Johnny Cash by Michael Stewart Foley.
21. The Mystery of the Silver Spider by Robert Arthur.

July
22. The Locked Room by Elly Griffiths.
23. Dog Days: A Year with Olive & Mabel by Andrew Cotter.
24. Greetings from Asbury Park by Daniel Turtel.
25. Amongst Our Weapons by Ben Aaronovitch.
*26. You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness by Julie Klam.
27. The Lone Pilgrim by Laurie Colwin.
28. The Rubber Band by Rex Stout.
29. The Mystery of the Screaming Clock by Robert Arthur.
*30. The Appeal by Janice Hallett.
*31. An Offer from a Gentleman by Julia Quinn.
32. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman.

August
*33. Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service by Carol Leonnig.
34. Her Country: How the Women of Country Music Became the Success They Were Never Supposed to Be by Marissa R. Moss.



*Denotes books not from my shelves; usually library books but occasionally borrowed from a friend.


3rosalita
Redigerat: aug 19, 2022, 2:56 pm

Added to the shelf in 2022

January
✔︎ 1. Rally Round the Flag, Boys! by Max Shulman. (free ebook/Kobo)
2. K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches by Tyler Kepner. ($2.99 ebook/Kobo)

February
✔︎ 3. A Game of Fear by Charles Todd. ($14.99 ebook/Kobo)
4. They Came to Baghdad by Agatha Christie. ($1.99 ebook/Kobo)
✔︎ 5. The Cereal Murders by Diane Mott Davidson. ($1.99 ebook/Kobo)
✔︎ 6. Nights of Rain and Stars by Maeve Binchy. ($2.99 ebook/Kobo)
✔︎ 7. In the Best Families by Rex Stout. ($1.99 ebook/Kobo)

March
8. The Magician by Kathleen Shop. (free ebook/Kobo)
9. The Orphans of Davenport: Eugenics, the Great Depression, and the War over Children's Intelligence by Marilyn Brookwood. ($4.85 ebook/Kobo)
10. The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine by Serhii Plokhy. ($19.99 softcover/Prairie Lights)
✔︎ 11. The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie. ($1.99 ebook/Kobo)
12. All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traister. ($3.99 ebook/Kobo)
13. The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry. ($4.00 ebook/Kobo)

April
✔︎ 14. When the Corn Is Waist High by Jeremy Scott (free ebook/LT Early Reviewers)
15. Amongst Our Weapons by Ben Aaronovitch. ($14.99 ebook/Kobo)
✔︎ 16. Dark Tort by Diane Mott Davidson. ($1.99 ebook/Kobo)
17. Greetings from Asbury Park by Daniel Turtel. (free ebook/NetGalley)
18. They Do It with Mirrors by Agatha Christie. ($1.99 ebook/Kobo)
19. Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols and Other Typographical Marks by Keith Houston. ($2.69 ebook/Kobo)
20. The Ernest Lamb Mysteries by Patricia Wentworth. ($2.69 ebook/Kobo)

May
21. Housekeeping by Design: Hotels and Labor by David Brody. (free ebook/University of Chicago Press)
22. A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers. (free ebook/Tor.com)
23. Unlocked: An Oral History of Haden's Syndrome by John Scalzi. (free ebook/Tor.com)
24. An Unnatural Life by Erin Wagner. (free ebook/Tor.com)
25. Her Country: How the Women of Country Music Became the Success They Were Never Supposed to Be by Marissa R. Moss (free hardcover/LT Early Reviewers)

June
✔︎ 26. Trouble at the Brownstone by Robert Goldsborough. ($2.69 ebook/Kobo)
27. The Bad Lands by Oakley M. Hall. (free ebook/University of Chicago Press)
28. Ian Rutledge: A Mysterious Profile by Charles Todd. ($2.69 ebook/Kobo)
29. SPQR by Mary Beard. ($2.69 ebook/Kobo)
30. Scents and Sensibility by Spencer Quinn. ($1.99 ebook/Kobo)
✔︎ 31. The Locked Room by Elly Griffiths. ($15.99 ebook/Kobo)
32. Short Tails: Stories of Chet & Bernie by Spencer Quinn. ($2.99 ebook/Kobo)

July
33. The Call by P.D. Viner. ($0.89 ebook/Kobo)
34. Raise Your Hand: Adventures of an American Springsteen Fan in Europe by Caryn Rose. ($1.61 ebook/Kobo)
35. A Drive into the Gap by Kevin Guilfoile. ($8.96 paperback/Field Notes)
36. Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke (free ebook/Kobo)
37. The Barrakee Mystery by Arthur W. Upfield. ($5.66 ebook/Kobo)
38. Call for the Dead by John le Carré. ($1.99 ebook/Kobo)
39. The Steel Kiss by Jeffrey Deaver. ($1.99 ebook/Kobo)
40. Firefly Summer by Maeve Binchy. ($1.99 ebook/Kobo)

August
41. Americanon by Jess McHugh. ($4.99 ebook/Kobo)
42. Limited by Body Habitus by Jennifer Renee Blevins. ($2.50 ebook/University of Chicago Press)
43. On Revision: The Only Writing That Counts by William Germano. ($5.00 ebook/University of Chicago Press)
44. Around the World in 80 Words by Paul Anthony Jones. ($4.50 ebook/University of Chicago Press)
45. The Country House Revisited by Tereza Topolovskà. ($3.50 ebook/University of Chicago Press)
46. Fish and Chips: A History by Paniko Panayi. ($3.50 ebook/University of Chicago Press)
47. Soda and Fizzy Drinks: A Global History by Judith Levin. ($4.99 ebook/University of Chicago Press)

✔︎ indicates books that I have read, either this year or previously.

4rosalita
Redigerat: maj 8, 2022, 2:07 pm

Currently Reading
(as of May 8)

    

I have been in one of the worst reading slumps I can ever remember. I finished just two books in April, and I've got several on the go now, trying to find one that can create a spark. It's not that the books I'm reading are bad. Far from it; I'm enjoying all of them. But I am just not finding the energy and motivation to actually just sit down and read without having several other things going on at the same time, and they are books that require some attention.

When the Corn Is Waist High is the book I won from March's LT Early Reviewers batch. I'm just about to start this one, hoping for something great. The other two may be familiar, as they've been in my currently reading for a while. If I could just remember to pick up The Lone Pilgrim, I could finish it off, as I only have a handful of stories left to read. I just keep forgetting it.

5katiekrug
maj 8, 2022, 2:22 pm

Hi Julia! I hear you about the reading slump. Audio books are helping me numbers-wise, but I find I can't just sit down and read. I think I read two print/e-books in April. Here's hoping we both can break out of the slump!

6rabbitprincess
maj 8, 2022, 2:30 pm

>4 rosalita: Slump solidarity! I've just been so tired and restless lately. I did have a good sit-down with a book this morning; getting some reading in early in the day seems to set the right tone.

7Jackie_K
maj 8, 2022, 3:53 pm

Ugh, reading slumps are horrible! I love your topper picture though, that blossom is beautiful! I hope it lifts your mood and helps to inspire further reading eventually.

8lyzard
maj 8, 2022, 5:12 pm

I have the opposite problem from you: I'm reading to the exclusion of the things I really need to get done. :0

Happy new thread, my dear!

9BLBera
maj 8, 2022, 7:13 pm

Happy new thread, Julia. Sorry to hear about the reading slump. I hope the ER book jolts you out of it. Talk to you tomorrow?

10rosalita
maj 8, 2022, 7:40 pm

>5 katiekrug: This is maybe the one and only time I miss having a daily commute, because I could always listen to an audiobook then if I was struggling with paper/ebooks. But I just can't listen to them at home without falling asleep.

>6 rabbitprincess: I am very much not a morning person, so I don't think that would work for me, but I'm glad you've found something that works for you> Here's hoping it continues!

>7 Jackie_K: Thanks for the kind words about the picture! It's been a cold, rainy spring so far, and the upcoming week looks to be straight into summer with temperatures up in the 80s/90s F. Hopefully, the longer days will bring more energy for reading.

11rosalita
maj 8, 2022, 7:42 pm

>8 lyzard: I mean, I'm not really doing the things I need to get done, either! I've just been a slug, binging streaming media and playing stupid games on my iPad. Gah! You've reminded me I owe you a visit now that I've finished Taken at the Flood to review my fearless prediction of how it would end ...

>9 BLBera: Yep, talk to you tomorrow evening!

12kac522
Redigerat: maj 9, 2022, 1:25 am

>1 rosalita: Appreciate pictures of Iowa City. My brother works at the hospital (writing for their publications--not sure what the official title of the department is called) and lives in North Liberty. We've visited a couple of times, but I don't think we ever did a proper tour of campus, besides a quick drive-through.

>4 rosalita: I had a "stall" in mid-April, but was able to get back on track somewhat. I'm finding having too many books going on at once drives me nuts and I can't focus on any of them. I always _think_ I'll read a little of this and a little of that, and make such wonderful progress, and I end up weeks later with nothing inspiring and nothing finished. Finally picked up a re-read which I knew I would love, and that snapped me out of it. At least for now....as I still have some of those prior books still in the middle ...

I also think the war and political angst just make it hard for me to concentrate, and I'd rather zone out on youtube--no thinking or emotional commitment involved. And the Cubs aren't helping either.

13scaifea
maj 9, 2022, 7:29 am

Happy new thread, Julia!!

14rosalita
maj 9, 2022, 8:16 am

>12 kac522: Hi, Kathy! It's the Office for Strategic Communication on the academic side, but I'm sure UIHC has its own structure. Did you check out Prairie Lights, our stellar indie bookstore, while you were here? If not, put it on your list for next time. It's been the site of several LT meetups over the years ...

>13 scaifea: Thanks, Amber!

15karenmarie
Redigerat: maj 9, 2022, 9:42 am

Hi Julia! Happy new thread, and thank you for the lovely photo and history lesson. As you might recall, my mother’s family have been in Iowa since the 1860s. My Uncle lives in Cedar Rapids, and my mother’s first cousin George still has the family’s Century Farm in Iowa City’s own Johnson County.

From your last thread, I’m #9 on 2 copies for a Kindle copy of Slow Horses. It sounds like fun. I already had it on my wish list courtesy of drneutron, but today I actually did something about it.

>11 rosalita: I've just been a slug Me, too, although my equivalent of streaming media and playing stupid games on my iPad is reading all the Bridgerton series, the Rokesby series, and now the Smythe-Smith series and playing stupid games on my cell phone. Sigh.

16rosalita
maj 9, 2022, 12:02 pm

>15 karenmarie: I love all the Iowa connections I've found around LibraryThing, Karen! Still hoping you'll make your way to our neck of the woods someday ...

Please let me know what you think of Slow Horses when you get it.

17Copperskye
maj 9, 2022, 10:26 pm

Happy new thread and boo to the dreaded reading slump! I hope it’s shaken lose soon, Julia.

I bought myself a copy of Slow Horses recently. Now I just need to squeeze it in.

18rosalita
maj 10, 2022, 7:44 am

>17 Copperskye: I think you'll like Slow Horses, Joanne. But I know all too well that acquiring a book does not mean it will be read anytime soon, so no pressure from me! :-)

19rosalita
maj 28, 2022, 4:44 pm



13. The Girl in the Cellar by Patricia Wentworth.

So many emotions involved in the conclusion of a shared reading project with Liz/lyzard that began way back in February 2017 with the first book in this series, The Grey Mask. And now (well, April 2022) comes the last, The Girl in the Cellar. I'm sad it's over, I'm happy to have experienced it in such good company through the years, and I'm grateful that the final book turned out to be one of the very best, in my opinion.

The book opens with a young woman sitting on the stairs of a pitch-black cellar. She does not know who she is, or where she is, or why, and she can see nothing, but she is sure that somewhere below her in the cellar someone is lying dead on the floor. Who is it? Who is she herself? How did she get here?

Fortunately, when she works up the courage to leave the house, she soon runs into Miss Silver on a bus. Miss Silver, being a very perceptive governess-turned-enquiry-agent, sees her distress and engages her in conversation. Together they come up with a plan that will eventually lead to her regaining her memory and discovering the murderer of the girl in the cellar.

This one has it all. Amnesia, murder, mistaken identity, family squabbles over money, shifty lowlifes up to no good, and of course a nice healthy romance that comes to fruition at the end. And shining through it all, the steady hands and brain of Miss Silver, knitting steadily throughout. Happy sighs all around.

20rosalita
maj 28, 2022, 4:55 pm



14. Taken at the Flood by Agatha Christie.

Hercule Poirot is visited by a woman who has been reliably informed by a member of the spirit world that her brother-in-law's young widow, sole inheritor of the fortune that until his death in the London Blitz had been supporting his entire extended family, had a previous husband who is still alive. The sister-in-law wants Poirot to investigate and find him, so that the fortune can revert to her and the rest of her freeloading family, none of whom are apparently capable of supporting themselves.

This is another twisty mystery from Dame Agatha, and I should have known better than to boast on Liz's thread when I was only halfway through the book that I knew exactly how it was going to end. Yeah, not so much. The final chapters were a real rollercoaster ride, and if not for a truly unpleasant bit of domestic violence between the book's main romantic couple, who nevertheless end up together, I would have loved it. That bit was a little much even for me.

21rosalita
maj 28, 2022, 5:01 pm



15. Dark Tort by Diane Mott Davidson.

I haven't enjoyed this series for a while, but this is an earlier entry that I had somehow missed and I hoped it might belong to the "still good" era. Alas, no. The opening sequence is a typical tired slapstick about caterer Goldy tripping over a dead body, which provides plenty of scene-setting without the subsequent throwing about of food all over a posh law firm's lobby. It's all just so over the top and ridiculous, and I swear this time I am really done with this series. I can't keep reading books where I'm rooting for the murderer to take out the main character, can I? At least not without knowing it actually happens at some point — that book, I would happily read.

22rosalita
maj 28, 2022, 5:20 pm



16. When the Corn Is Waist High by Jeremy Scott.

Oof, this Early Reviewers book was a total miss for me. The narrator is both the town sheriff and the local Catholic priest, and he's in way over his head when a serial killer appears to set up shop in his rural Indiana town.

The book is pegged on its cover as "A Thriller," which can only have been an aspirational appellation added by someone who had not actually read the book. Often legitimate thrillers will effectively employ humor at strategic points to diffuse the building tension, but here we have Sheriff Father Lancaster making fun of everyone and everything around him, without any tension in sight to be diffused. It just comes off as mean-spirited and annoying.

He is at least an equal-opportunity asshole, I'll give him that. Everyone from the local farmers, to the police officers on loan from neighboring departments to the mayor and the FBI come in for ridicule. To read Scott's rendition of rural Indiana is to wonder why anyone would ever want to live there. In the narrator's eagerness to spotlight the worst aspects and congenital quirks of what he clearly views as Hicksville USA, he spends most of an entire chapter explaining at laborious length what a tenderloin sandwich is, making fun of the people who eat it, and then admitting that it's tasty. Pick a lane, Sheriff Father Lancaster!

The only thing worse than the characterization is the plotting. None of it hangs together and there were so many unanswered questions, random red herrings that never get resolved, and unexpected revelations that don't jibe with anything that came earlier that I wondered if the book was a strange choose-your-own-adventure gone awry.

I'm already as bored writing this review as I was reading the book, so I'll wrap this up. There are couple of twists that I'm sure someone in the marketing department thought justified that "Thriller" label, but they came too late to redeem the book for me. I sincerely hope you never read this one, but if you have, there is just one of those unanswered questions that I'd love to have answered about the murderer and his crimes:

WHERE DID HE GET THE HORSE?!?!?!?

23BLBera
maj 29, 2022, 9:34 am

Hey Julia - Congrats on finishing the Miss Silver books! How many are there?

Sorry for the two most recent reads; I'll make a note of them to make sure I never pick them up.

I read the first few of the Diane Mott Davidson series years ago and have been wondering if I should pick them up again. I guess maybe it's not worth it.

Have a great weekend.

24katiekrug
maj 29, 2022, 9:42 am

Nice reviews, Julia. That Agatha Christie is not one I have even heard of!

25rosalita
maj 29, 2022, 10:29 am

>23 BLBera: Hi, Beth. There are 32 books in the Miss Silver series. Liz and I read one every other month over the past 5 years. I still can't believe it's over.

The Goldy Schulz series started so promisingly. I really liked the first handful but boy did the series ever go downhill. I'm always prepared to suspend disbelief when amateur detectives are involved, but the amount of suspension needed in the later books would defy gravity.

26rosalita
maj 29, 2022, 10:30 am

>24 katiekrug: That's the advantage of reading a series in order, Katie. You end up discovering all the books that didn't become instant classics along the way.

27karenmarie
maj 29, 2022, 10:57 am

Hi Julia!

>19 rosalita: Wow. Congrats on finishing the Miss Silver project. Five years. Impressive.

>20 rosalita: Ah. I didn’t recognize the title, but I have it on my shelves as There is a Tide. I do not remember it at all, but have definitely read it. I’m trying to figure out whether to re-read either all the Hercule Poirots or Miss Marples by Dame Agatha OR re-read The Lincoln Lawyer series by Michael Connelly. Nice problem to have, I suppose.

28BLBera
maj 29, 2022, 11:01 am

I thought I had read all of the Christies, but this is a title I don't remember.

32! That is a huge commitment.

I think I'll just say I'm done with the Mott Davidson series. I did enjoy the first few.

29rosalita
maj 29, 2022, 11:47 am

>27 karenmarie: There are several of the Poirot books that have multiple titles, Karen. It makes it hard to know if you've read one or not.

>28 BLBera: The first few of the Goldy series were very good. Keep your fond memories of those and let the rest go — advice I wish someone had given me. :-)

30BLBera
maj 29, 2022, 11:51 am

Done. And thanks.

31lyzard
maj 29, 2022, 6:32 pm

>19 rosalita:

Well done, my dear! :)

I think, because it was the last, I wanted something more typical; but that's re-writing after the event.

Thank you again for reading along: it made the experience even more enjoyable. I'm looking forward very much to our next joint project!

32lyzard
maj 29, 2022, 6:34 pm

>20 rosalita:

Agreed about the "unpleasantness" though I think it was intended to show how the war had changed people. Hard to take it that way these days, however.

This was also the point when "leisured" people had to get off their butts: the book reflects the very real resistance to that and the breakdown of the class system. (It's probably too sympathetic for our liking, but at least it's there.)

33rosalita
maj 29, 2022, 9:10 pm

>31 lyzard: Thank you! I can understand wanting something more typical to end the series, but at least she went out with a bang! I seem to recall from my lookup after finishing this one that she died quite soon after it was finished; do you think she knew this was the end of the line for Miss Silver?

>32 lyzard: I did appreciate that the freeloader relatives were not presented especially sympathetically, with just a couple of exceptions. It didn't feel like Christie was trying to excuse their general shiftlessness, at least.

34lyzard
maj 29, 2022, 10:49 pm

>33 rosalita:

I know she died before it was published, but I don't know the circumstances.

No, in fact David feels somewhat vindicated in that respect, if not for how he goes about it!

35rosalita
Redigerat: maj 31, 2022, 11:08 am

I saw this on Twitter this morning and thought it was appropriate for LibraryThing. Those of you who read crime fiction, do you agree or disagree with these labels?

36BLBera
maj 31, 2022, 12:05 pm

>35 rosalita: That is hilarious, Julia. From my crime reading, I think the drunk could apply to more places. Happy, I was going to say Monday, but it's a short week! So, happy Tuesday. Do you find that the short weeks never seem short?

37katiekrug
maj 31, 2022, 12:17 pm

>35 rosalita: - Love this!

38rosalita
maj 31, 2022, 12:36 pm

>36 BLBera: I'd love to see a companion map covering North America, Beth! I keep forgetting it's Tuesday but at least I didn't get up at 5 a.m. yesterday thinking it was a work day.

>37 katiekrug: It's pretty perfect, isn't it?

39scaifea
maj 31, 2022, 1:55 pm

>35 rosalita: *SNORK!!* I love it!!

40Copperskye
maj 31, 2022, 9:28 pm

>35 rosalita: Lol, so true!

41connie53
jun 5, 2022, 7:52 am

Hi Julia. I've been neglecting the ROOTers for some time. Live, sunny days, babysitting the grandkids and doing volunteer work for the library at Lonne's school. And reading of course. Today is a rainy day with some thunderstrokes. A perfect Sunday for reading al those neglected threads.

Congrats on your second thread!

42rosalita
jun 5, 2022, 12:09 pm

>41 connie53: Thanks, Connie. glad to hear you're keeping busy.

43rosalita
jun 5, 2022, 3:35 pm



17. Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World's Greatest Nuclear Disaster by Adam Higginbotham.

I put this book on my TBR back in the first year of the pandemic, when I heard the author interviewed on a podcast. The gist of the podcast was to talk about the parallels between the ways the Soviets completely botched their response to the Chernobyl disaster (secrecy, lies, denial, gaslighting people trying to sound the alarm, dragging their feet on remediation, etc) with the Trump administration's response to the COVID-19 pandemic (ditto, ditto, ditto, ditto, ditto, sigh). It was a fascinating discussion but also made me want to learn more about an event that I remember (it happened when I was in my early 20s) but haven't heard or read much about it since the actual event, when of course information was extremely limited (see list of reasons above).

The book itself has none of the coronavirus discussion because it was published pre-pandemic, in 2019. But it's a strong, thorough attempt to first walk through, minute by minute, exactly what happened on April 26, 1986, the Soviet response or lack thereof as the situation developed, and the current state of things at Chernobyl (again, no mention of the war in Ukraine or the Russians temporarily seizing control of the power plant earlier this year and the subsequent stirring up of radioactive material).

Nearly as fascinating was the section discussing all of the ways the very construction of Chernobyl was dogged by problems exacerbated by the Soviet system that rewarded pretending everything was going fine even as corners were being cut and safety measures slashed to meet unrealistic timelines and budgets. And the look back at previous nuclear accidents in the USSR, many of which never came to public attention until the Soviet Union fell apart, is chilling. The largest nuclear disaster before Chernobyl, in fact, was in the 1950s at a super-secret plutonium production facility, although the Soviets never admitted that it happened or even acknowledged they had a nuclear facility in the location until decades later. The Soviets were not alone in their extreme secrecy around nuclear events, though; there was a large fire and radiation release in 1957 in the United Kingdom that released masses of radiation across the UK and Europe. The full scale of the accident — which while severe did not approach the level of Chernobyl — was suppressed by the British government for 30 years.

As you might imagine, there is a lot of science in this book. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to track it all, but Higginbotham does a good job of explaining in clear language exactly what happens in a nuclear reactor, how the Soviet design differs from those in the West, and the effects exposure to high levels of radiation have on living things — the most harrowing passages in the book, by far. The book does a good job contrasting what happened at Chernobyl with the causes of disasters at Windscale in the UK, Three Mile Island in the U.S., and Fukushima, Japan. Apparently, nuclear disasters are like Tolstoy's families, each unhappy accident unhappy in its own way.

Higginbotham continued his reporting even into the 2010s, as he continued to visit with people who had survived the accident (or their living relatives in the case of those who died), detailing the ways in which it had affected and in many cases shortened their lives. And he seems particularly keen to make clear that while it was the operators in the control room on the night of the disaster who bore the brunt of the blame and criminal prosecution, the accident actually stemmed from a known flaw in the reactor design, which the Soviets had known since the very first reactor of that type they ever built, in the 1950s. The flaw was documented in academic papers and immediately suppressed instead of trying to fix it and make the reactors safer, which could have prevented Chernobyl from becoming a name that invokes fear and horror around the world.

I don't suppose this book is for everyone; it's grim and extremely difficult to read in many ways. But if you're interested in learning more about how secrecy, coverups and an intolerance for honest feedback from subordinates can lead to immense tragedy, it's well worth your time.

44BLBera
jun 6, 2022, 2:11 pm

This sounds really good, Julia. I'll add it to my list. Great comments.

45katiekrug
jun 6, 2022, 2:17 pm

>43 rosalita: - I have this one waiting patiently on my Kindle...

Great review!

46rosalita
jun 6, 2022, 3:04 pm

>44 BLBera: Thanks, Beth! I'm really glad I read it.

>45 katiekrug: Thanks, Katie! I think you'll find it interesting when you get to it.

47scaifea
jun 7, 2022, 9:02 am

>43 rosalita: Oooh, yep, I'm adding this one to my list, too! And ditto what Katie said: great review!

48rosalita
Redigerat: jun 7, 2022, 9:28 am

>47 scaifea: Aw, thank you so much! I hope you find it rewarding (feels weird to say I hope you like a book about a horrible nuclear disaster) when it comes up on your list. I bet Tomm would have a much easier time with the science than I did!

49scaifea
jun 7, 2022, 10:03 am

>48 rosalita: Yeah, he's pretty good with that malarky. It's frequently annoying how smart he is.

50rosalita
jun 9, 2022, 5:53 pm

Summer Reading List

Iowa Public Radio featured local booksellers and librarians on a recent episode of their Talk of Iowa show, and the top was book recommendations for this summer. The list and comments are here:

Talk of Iowa's 2022 Summer book guide is here

51BLBera
jun 9, 2022, 10:15 pm

Nice list. I have a few of these already on reserve at the library.

52rosalita
Redigerat: jun 12, 2022, 8:10 pm



18. Trouble at the Brownstone by Robert Goldsborough.

A minor character in the original Nero Wolfe series penned by Rex Stout takes center stage — sort of — in the latest from Robert Goldsborough. Of course, Theodore Horstmann, orchid nurse extraordinaire, was not a minor character to Wolfe. In fact, he was indispensable to keeping the rooftop greenhouses alive and blooming with color in all seasons. But he didn't have much of a role in the books themselves, and I have to say that seemed about right to me. About all Stout ever chose to tell us about Theodore was that he was crotchety and fussy, lived in a little alcove of the greenhouse itself, and didn't get along with Archie (of course, all of that is relayed through Archie as narrator, so we must take into account there are always two sides to a story).

The plot of Trouble at the Brownstone revolves around Theodore, yes, but he's pretty much offstage. He appears at the very beginning, when he arrives on the stoop of the brownstone having been badly beaten and bleeding (we learn later that he had moved out and into his own apartment some months earlier). He promptly lapses into a coma and remains conveniently so until the case is solved, when he is miraculously revived and returns to work and live in Wolfe's house.

Of course, Wolfe is insulted by the notion that one of his employees has been assaulted (you should have seen how mad he got when not one, but two, women got strangled in his office in separate books of the original series) and he vows to find the culprits. This involves Archie going undercover as Theodore's nephew at the apartment building where he had recently moved, which appears to be filled with a bunch of mute weirdos. There's also some action down on the docks, and any accounts of extralegal activity by longshoreman are always welcomed by this longshoreman's daughter and granddaughter.

When Goldsborough first took up the writing of the Nero Wolfe series (with the full blessing of Rex Stout's estate) in 1986, it had been about a decade since the last book Stout wrote. Goldsborough attempted to re-imagine Archie and Wolfe and the rest of the crew in the modern world, with a desktop computer instead of a clackety manual typewriter and various other technological updates. It didn't really work; they felt like crude parodies of themselves. Lately he's begun setting the books in the past, during Wolfe's heyday of the 1940s-1960s, and while the dialogue's still a bit stiff and you never forget you're reading someone else's interpretation of beloved characters, the plots are fine and the books are more enjoyable to read. I never read series continuations, and it's a measure of my love for Archie (and the rest) that I have stuck with this one. You could find worse ways to spend your time, but temper your expectations accordingly.

53rosalita
jun 12, 2022, 3:34 pm



19. The Mystery of the Fiery Eye by Robert Arthur.

The Fiery Eye, we learn early on in this Three Investigators romp, is a large flawless ruby that disappeared a half century ago from the temple in India where it was used to suss out evildoers (just go with it). Alfred Hitchcock (yes, that one) asks Jupiter, Pete, and Bob to take the case in aid of a young English boy, August August (but just call him Gus), whose dead uncle left him a letter that seems to indicate he had possession of the jewel and has bequeathed it to Gus. The letter is a riddle (but of course it is) so that the bad guys who are also in pursuit of the stone won't discover its hiding place before the boys do.

Hijinks ensue and involve a collection of old plaster busts of famous men that are acquired by Jupiter's junkyard-owning Uncle Titus, the boys' ingenious Ghost to Ghost Hookup system of obtaining information, and an actual girl! As Jupiter's Aunt Mathilda would say, "Mercy and goodness and sweetness and light!"

If you've read any of the other books in this series, you'll like this one. The biggest mystery solved for me was what happened to the Three Investigators' use of the gold-plated Rolls Royce, which they won 30 days' use of back in Book 1 (three years ago) and have been using ever since. The solution is only a temporary one, so I guess I'll have keep reading to see what comes next.

54rosalita
Redigerat: jul 24, 2022, 6:03 pm

Currently Reading
(as of June 12)


  

I picked up Citizen Cash: The Political Life and Times of Johnny Cash last fall, after seeing the author speak at the (virtual) Johnny Cash Heritage Festival in Dyess, Arkansas. It's not meant to be comprehensive but rather hones in on what we can infer about Cash's political views based on things he did and said and wrote during his life. It's an intriguing story, because many country music fans assume he was a staunch conservative like them, but listening to the lyrics of his signature song The Man in Black, among others, tells you that he had more compassion and empathy for his fellow humans than most. And yet, he was also not a stereotypical liberal. As Kris Kristofferson once wrote in a song, "He's a walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction."

55rocketjk
Redigerat: jun 14, 2022, 11:39 am

>54 rosalita: You've made the Cash book look really interesting. I'm looking forward to your review of the Kepner.

56rosalita
jun 14, 2022, 12:33 pm

>55 rocketjk: Hi, Jerry! It probably wasn't my smartest plan to read two fairly dense nonfiction books at the same time but here we are. I usually try to pair nonfiction with genre fiction just to keep from getting bogged down, although I have to say both of these books are very interesting and I don't feel bogged down. I just don't have anywhere to go for a little light reading when my concentration isn't at its peak.

57rosalita
jun 17, 2022, 1:49 pm

Daily Deals



The Lions of Fifth Avenue is one of those wish-fulfillment plots: What if you could live IN the New York Public Library? It was a solid 4-star read for me when I read it last year. An excerpt from my review then:
The first magical thing to know is that part of the premise is absolutely true: From 1910 to 1940, the superintendent of the New York Public Library’s newly built Fifth Avenue main building lived with his family inside the library in a seven-room apartment. Can you imagine?! Of course, his job to keep the library’s technical systems and physical plant running was a 24/7 job, so I’m sure it was not nearly as glamorous as it seems from this distance. On the other hand, what fun for his children, one of whom went on to be the library’s chief engineer, though he did not live inside the library as an adult.
The book is $2.99 at all the usual e-tailers: Kobo, Kindle, Nook, Google Books and Apple Books.

58katiekrug
jun 17, 2022, 2:59 pm

>57 rosalita: - Thanks, Julia! Snapped it up.

59Caramellunacy
jun 17, 2022, 3:53 pm

>57 rosalita: The part of me that adored From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler growing up is very excited about that plot...

60rosalita
Redigerat: jun 17, 2022, 4:37 pm

>58 katiekrug: Thanks, Katie! (Sorry, I thought I responded already but ... no. TGIF, amirite?

>59 Caramellunacy: I have that one on my e-reader but I keep forgetting it's there — I need to read it! I am a sucker for books where the characters are stuck in an unusual location — like the grocery store in Stephen King's The Mist. The library book has 100% fewer giant mutant spiders, though.

61BLBera
jun 17, 2022, 4:59 pm

>57 rosalita: I hope to get to this one this summer, Julia. I bought it after your review. It does sound like an ideal place to live.

62Caramellunacy
jun 21, 2022, 4:42 pm

>60 rosalita: I'm not going to lie - 100% fewer giant mutant spiders is definitely in the "win" column

63rosalita
jun 21, 2022, 5:03 pm

>62 Caramellunacy: Totally understood!

64katiekrug
jun 21, 2022, 5:24 pm

I thought of you today, Julia, as I was listening to the essay about Dan Gable in The Cost of These Dreams. Iowa+wrestling=Julia in my mind :)

Rather a sad entry in Thompson's collection...

65rosalita
jun 21, 2022, 5:36 pm

>64 katiekrug: That is such a great essay but yes, rather grim. Even I learned some stuff about Gable's inner turmoil, although the story of his sister's murder is very well known around here. It's disturbing to get a glimpse at the sort of personal agony that seems to go along with being a hyper-competitive world-class athlete. I don't know if you feel the same, but I saw parallels between Gable and the Michael Jordan piece in terms of how greatness can't guarantee inner peace.

Honestly, nobody writes super-sad sports profiles like Thompson. I knew nothing about the basketball player who died in Brazil and I was completely invested in that one.

Also, I am happy that people think of me when they read about Iowa wrestling and Springsteen. :)

66rosalita
jun 27, 2022, 11:39 am

I FINISHED A BOOK!

If you've read any of my previous posts, you know that I have been mired in the Reading Slump to End All Slumps. Usually when that happens it's because the books I'm trying to read in the moment are not very good, or I am not in the mood for them. This slump was especially frustrating because I had three good books on the go, and was unable to settle on any of them.

But this weekend something broke through, and I got a lot of really productive reading time in. I even managed to finish a book: Citizen Cash: The Political Life and Times of Johnny Cash. Review to come soon.

Can I sustain this and make progress in the other two books I've been stuck on, or even (gasp!) start a new one? Who knows? But I'm going to try ...

67katiekrug
jun 27, 2022, 11:41 am

I'm jealous that you seem to have broken through your slump! Mine is ongoing, except for audios...

68rosalita
jun 27, 2022, 11:43 am

>67 katiekrug: I'm scared to say that I've broken through until I finish at least one more book. But it's a start! I hope yours takes a hike soon, as well.

69rosalita
jun 27, 2022, 12:38 pm

Daily Deals

I've got some new bargain-priced ebooks to tempt you all:

  

The Card Catalog: Books, Cards, and Literary Treasures was published by the Library of Congress. It's an image-heavy history of how the card catalog was invented (you whippersnappers may not have ever seen a card catalog, but back in the Stone Age we used to have to look up books by titles, author or subject in a big file of index cards instead of clicking search on a computer screen , and the poor librarians had to create separate cards for each of those search types, bless their hearts). An excerpt from my 2018 5-star review:
As informative as I found the text to be, the illustrations are the real star of the show. Along with the historical images, there are many sets of images showing classic book covers, frontispieces or title pages, paired with that volume's corresponding catalog card. Some of the cards are handwritten, some are printed, but it's fascinating to explore each one and remember just how much information could be squeezed onto a small index card. ... Because the images are such an important element, I would recommend reading this book either in paper format or as an ebook on a color screen. I used my iPad and was happy to be able to enlarge the images to see details.
$1.99 at all the main e-tailers in the US: Kobo, Kindle, Nook, Apple Books and Google Books. Worth checking out just to learn about "Library Hand" a type of handwriting developed specifically for creating super-legible and consistent card catalog entries.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak was another 5-star book for me when I read it in 2010. I wasn't writing reviews back then but I remember being put through the emotional wringer with this book about the Holocaust with the unusual premise of being narrated by ... Death. No, really. I also remember being startled after the fact to learn it's considered a YA book. $2.99 at all the main US e-tailers listed above.

70rosalita
Redigerat: jul 4, 2022, 2:58 pm



20. Citizen Cash: The Political Life and Times of Johnny Cash by Michael Stewart Foley.

It's always baffled me how anyone could listen to the lyrics of The Man in Black and not think that Johnny Cash had at least a very strong progressive streak in makeup. And yet, fans regularly castigate his daughter, songwriter and musician Rosanne Cash, on Twitter whenever she expresses a liberal viewpoint. "Your father would be ashamed of you," is the general and often literal response from country music fans whose perceptions of her father's political leanings are filtered through their own conservative viewpoint.

Then again, maybe I was doing the same thing — cherrypicking examples and ignoring the overall message in Cash's music and actions. I didn't think so, but then again I wouldn't, would I? So it was with great interest I listened to an interview with Michael Stewart Foley, the author of Citizen Cash during a live-streamed session of last fall's Johnny Cash Heritage Festival, and later bought his book. Foley does a great job of meticulously detailing the ways that Cash demonstrated his political viewpoints and how they evolved over the years, though always with a central touchstone — empathy — guiding each turn.

Songwriter Kris Kristofferson once wrote a song (The Pilgrim, Chapter 33) that many listeners thought was describing his good friend Johnny Cash:
He's a poet and he's a picker, he's a prophet and he's a pusher
He's a pilgrim and a preacher, and a problem when he's stoned
He's a walkin' contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction
Takin' every wrong direction on his lonely way back home
The line "walking contradiction, partly truth and partly fiction" seems particularly apt. Foley shows that Cash didn't hew strictly to any particular political ideology, but rather came to his stance on various social and political issues through the lens of empathy — putting himself into the shoes of the person or identity group in question to unearth their essential humanity. That empathy-based values system explains how he could be supportive of Richard Nixon (who promised to end the war in Vietnam with the spectacularly euphemistic slogan "peace with honor") and campaign for a Republican candidate for governor in his home state of Arkansas (who promised to enact comprehensive prison reform of a notoriously inhumane state correctional system).

Sometimes Cash's empathy stemmed directly from his own childhood as the son of a poor sharecropper who nevertheless saw the worse plight of black sharecroppers no further away than across the road, and who listened to and appreciated black music (or "race music" as it was called then) at a time when white people weren't supposed to admit to such things. His own (relatively minor) brushes with the law while in the throes of an addiction to amphetamines and barbiturates led him to perform countless free concerts at prisons around the country, including the most famous ones that were turned into live albums At Folsom Prison and At San Quentin.. At other times he immersed himself in reading historical accounts and talking to people to better understand their lives before writing a concept album like Bitter Tears: Ballads of the American Indian or Blood, Sweat and Tears, a collection of songs about American working men, with an emphasis on black workers.

There are other aspects of Cash's life that don't fit neatly into the progressive box. His devout Christianity led him to be less than forthright in supporting equal rights for women; more than once he asserted that he believed in the Bible's teaching that a woman's role in life is to support her husband. And he was a steadfast supporter of Billy Graham, whose antisemitic and homophobic views were far from exemplary.

The main thing I took away from this book was a growing belief that there are an awful lot of people in this world on all sides of the political spectrum who would benefit from using empathy to guide their values and their votes. I'm going to do my best to take my own advice, even when (especially when) it's a hard road to walk. In the end, I guess we're all walking contradictions in our own way.

71rosalita
jul 4, 2022, 2:54 pm



21. The Mystery of the Silver Spider by Robert Arthur.

The Three Investigators venture far from their homes in Rocky Beach, California, traveling all the way to the fictional European country of Varania to aid Prince Djaro, a young man who is about to assume the throne — if the Regent, Duke Stefan, can be foiled in his attempt to seize power permanently.

The silver spider in the title is a representation of the crest of the reigning family of Varania. It's been stolen and the prince wants Jupiter, Bob and Pete to help him find it or his coronation will be canceled. It's a bit startling to find a mysterious agent of the United States government assisting the boys in their quest while remaining out of sight. He even provides them with Bond-esque gadgets such as cameras that also serve as both tape recorders and walkie-talkies (all the better for communicating with Agent Bert Young, dontcha know).

It's all intrepid and a wee bit silly and thoroughly satisfying — although probably not for poor Bob, who gets knocked out repeatedly and loses his memory of where he hid the purloined spider after the boys recovered it. He's supposed to be the brain of the group, but that won't last if he keeps taking knocks to the noggin.

72BLBera
jul 4, 2022, 6:09 pm

>70 rosalita: Great comments on Cash, Julia. I realize I know very little about him apart from the songs.

73rosalita
jul 4, 2022, 6:53 pm

>72 BLBera: Thanks, Beth. I thought I knew quite a lot about Johnny Cash because he's one of my favorite artists, but I still learned even more about the details of his life.

74rosalita
jul 5, 2022, 11:04 am

Daily Deals

There are quite a few good books on e-sale right now. I'll just list them since I'm pretty sure I'm just talking to myself on this thread and I already know about them. :-)

Thunderstruck by Erik Larson ($1.99)
The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht ($1.99)
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson ($1.99)
The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger by Stephen King ($2.99)

As always, these appear to be available at all the major US ebook outlets.

75Copperskye
jul 6, 2022, 7:42 pm

>70 rosalita: I’ve never been a big Johnny Cash fan, I could take him or leave him. Nor am I a big country music fan. But Kris Kristofferson, he’s another story. Back in the 70s I was a big fan. I have most of his albums that I haven’t listened to in decades. And now you have his lovely gravelly voice going through my head. :) I didn’t realize the song was about Cash but it makes sense, doesn’t it.

“Taking every wrong direction on his lonely way back home”

76rosalita
Redigerat: jul 7, 2022, 7:47 am

>75 Copperskye: Hi, Joanne! One of the enjoyable side benefits of reading this book was being prompted to add a bunch of Kristofferson album's to my Apple Music streaming library. I've been grooving to familiar songs and ones I don't know nearly as well. I don't think it's possible to pick a favorite, but "Jody and the Kid" has been near the top ever since I first heard it years ago. Such a brilliant storyteller.

77BLBera
jul 7, 2022, 10:31 am

I'm also a Kristofferson fan.

78rosalita
jul 10, 2022, 2:17 pm



22. The Locked Room by Elly Griffiths.

The latest entry in Griffiths' series about forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway opens with Ruth in London helping her father clear out her late mother's things so his new wife can redecorate. The chapter's timestamp of February 2020 tells the reader what Ruth does not yet know — the COVID-19 pandemic is about to send all of them into lockdown. How on earth is there going to be a mystery, let along an investigation and a resolution, in the midst of such societal disruption?

Griffiths handles that conundrum with her usual skill, using the pandemic to explore the reactions of many of the familiar characters from past books to forced isolation. Of course the police, led by DCI Harry Nelson, are essential workers and not forced into lockdown, though they have to cope with social distancing and reduced opportunities for the whole team to gather. It's unusual for the central mystery not to revolve in some way around one of Ruth's excavations or examinations of discovered remains, but in this case Nelson and his team are faced with a series of apparent suicides whose details don't quite add up.

Social distancing also doesn't manage to prevent major developments in the relationship between Ruth and Harry, though once again we are left with a bit of a cliffhanger in this ongoing B-story even as the main case is tidily wrapped up. On the one hand, I kind of want this storyline to resolve sooner rather than later; on the other hand, Griffiths has so deftly invested all of the characters with nuance and complexity that I'm at a loss to know which resolution I would prefer.

This is one of my favorite series, and I'm happy that this entry lives up to expectations, even as some of the conventional methods of investigation are upended by the realities of the pandemic lockdown. Hopefully by the time the next book is published, the pandemic won't loom quite so large — in the real world as well as the fictional.

79katiekrug
jul 10, 2022, 2:19 pm

>78 rosalita: - Can't wait to get my hands on it!

80rosalita
jul 10, 2022, 2:36 pm

>79 katiekrug: I don't think you'll be disappointed, Katie.

81BLBera
jul 10, 2022, 3:33 pm

>78 rosalita: Oh, I can't wait to read this one.

82rosalita
jul 10, 2022, 4:55 pm

>81 BLBera: I want to know what you think about the Ruth/Nelson developments when you read it!

83lyzard
jul 10, 2022, 10:09 pm

>71 rosalita:

Ha! As I said in my review, ironically I forgot everything about that one except where the spider was hidden. :D

I wanted to check with you if you were planning on (re-)reading The Rubber Band, and if so, if you have time for it this month? I'm okay with putting it off if that suits you better, so either way.

84rosalita
jul 10, 2022, 10:14 pm

>83 lyzard: Bob could have used your help in this one, Liz!

I'm definitely up for The Rubber Band, cautiously optimistic that my reading slump is at least temporarily on hiatus ...

85lyzard
Redigerat: jul 10, 2022, 10:20 pm

>84 rosalita:

Fingers crossed! I'll still be wrestling with my pal, Jim, for another day or so, and I also have to get through this month's Elsie, sigh, so it will probably be towards the end of the month for me anyhow.

86rosalita
jul 10, 2022, 10:23 pm

>85 lyzard: I haven't missed your review of The League of Frightened Men, have I?*

* I am NOT trying to poke the bear! I feel like I've been missing posts lately somehow.

87lyzard
jul 10, 2022, 10:42 pm

>86 rosalita:

No you have not. Hmmph. :(

I have gotten a few things written up lately, though. That's one thing Jim does do: he stops the finished books from piling up any more. :D

88Copperskye
jul 11, 2022, 1:11 am

>78 rosalita: I’m first on the library’s hold list for The Locked Room but it’s still listed as on order. Any day now, I hope. Glad it’s a good one!

89rosalita
jul 11, 2022, 6:34 am

>87 lyzard: I can't help hearing you say that in the voice of Bones from the original Star Trek. You know, he of the "Dammit, Jim! I'm only a doctor" catchphrase. :-)

90rosalita
jul 11, 2022, 6:35 am

>88 Copperskye: I hope you get it soon, Joanne! This is one of the very few series that I actually pre-order the ebook so I can read it right away.

91lauralkeet
jul 11, 2022, 12:13 pm

Hi Julia! Yesterday Katie mentioned you'd reviewed The Locked Room and I thought, "how is it I've never seen her thread?" Ohhhh, it's not in the 75 Group, that's how. Silly me. I'm sorry to have missed out on all of your excellent reading this year. And that's a very fine review of The Locked Room, too. I've been watching my library's online catalog like a hawk, and am #2 on the hold list (copies are still on order). I can't wait; I do love that series.

92rosalita
jul 11, 2022, 12:31 pm

>91 lauralkeet: Thank you for stopping by, Laura! I decided I am not equipped to live up to the social aspects of the 75ers group, so this seems like an appropriately low-key corner of LT to hunker down in. I do love to have visitors, though, so I'm very glad you found me. :-)

I'm glad you are so high on the holds list for The Locked Room. I think you will find it does not disappoint. I'll have to come find your 75er thread and drop a star so I can keep up with what you're up reading. I may whine a bit if you turn out to be another Beth and add more books to my TBR. :-D

93katiekrug
Redigerat: jul 11, 2022, 12:33 pm

I just saw in my library account that The Locked Room is on its way to my branch for pick-up, so I'll have it in time for vacay next week :D

94rosalita
jul 11, 2022, 12:35 pm

>93 katiekrug: Woot! A perfect vacay read.

95lauralkeet
jul 11, 2022, 2:00 pm

>92 rosalita: Beth keeps adding books to my TBR too, Julia. Something must be done about that. 😀

>93 katiekrug: I'm so jealous!

96BLBera
jul 12, 2022, 12:32 am

I thought I heard my name! Happy to be of service. :)

97rosalita
jul 12, 2022, 5:15 am

98rosalita
jul 12, 2022, 9:31 am

I haven't been in the habit of posting many links here, except for those Daily Deals (you're welcome :) ) but I came across these two books-related stories recently and thought others might be interested.

Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London novels are set for TV adaptation — I'm currently reading the latest in this series, Amongst Our Weapons so this story caught my eye. Done well, this could be some great entertainment, but there's no mention of what network/streaming service might end up airing it. So the biggest question I came away with was: Will we be able to watch it in the US?

Where the Crawdads Sing Author Wanted for Questioning in Murder — I haven't read this book but I've seen its praises sung all over LT so it's sort of low-key been on my TBR. But this story? This story is completely bananas. I think I can safely cross the book off my future reading list.

99katiekrug
jul 12, 2022, 11:01 am

I'd heard about the Delia Owens thing a few years ago. I wasn't interested in the book because it just sounded silly and I tend to hate most of what Reese Witherspoon likes, at least as far as I can tell from her book club choices. But yeah, this woman should be getting zero oxygen and instead... *eye roll*

100rosalita
jul 12, 2022, 12:22 pm

>99 katiekrug: I had heard nothing about it, and I was completely gobsmacked! And hard agree on the Venn diagram of books I like and the Reese Witherspoon book club being two perfect circles with maybe the merest sliver of overlap.

101lauralkeet
jul 12, 2022, 12:44 pm

I heard about the Delia Owens controversy a few years back, around the time I read the book. Someone shared an article with me; it may have been this 2010 piece in The New Yorker which came out several years before the book:
https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/04/05/the-hunted

I guess the film is resurfacing things, because The Atlantic's Editor-in-Chief wrote about it yesterday. Not coincidentally, he was also the author of the New Yorker piece.
https://www.theatlantic.com/books/archive/2022/07/where-the-crawdads-sing-delia-...

It's so creepy. Owens and her (ex?) husband are still wanted in Zambia, but there's no extradition treaty between Zambia and the United States. And ABC, which produced a documentary about the couple in 1996, has refused to cooperate in the investigation.

102rosalita
jul 12, 2022, 1:20 pm

>101 lauralkeet: Yes, that's all in The Atlantic article, Laura. As a former journalist, I think ABC has a lot to answer for regarding their actions at the time and since.

103lauralkeet
jul 12, 2022, 3:36 pm

Duh … sorry Julia, for some reason I thought your link in >98 rosalita: pointed to a book on the subject. Oops.

104rosalita
jul 12, 2022, 6:19 pm

>103 lauralkeet: No worries — choice of wording was bad. "books-related stories" is a clunky phrase and easily misinterpreted.

I need one of my old editors keeping an eye on me over here. :)

105rabbitprincess
jul 12, 2022, 7:05 pm

>98 rosalita: OMG! If Ben Aaronovitch is involved, I have faith it will be a good adaptation. I'm going to have to start re-reading all the novels!

106rosalita
Redigerat: jul 12, 2022, 7:17 pm

>105 rabbitprincess: Have you read the latest Amongst Our Weapons yet? I'm in the middle of it and it's just as good as the rest of the series.

107rabbitprincess
jul 12, 2022, 7:20 pm

>106 rosalita: Yes! I borrowed it from the library and it cured a reading slump :)

108BLBera
jul 12, 2022, 7:26 pm

I vaguely remember hearing about the story a couple of years ago, but this article is just creepy. I did like the novel overall, despite some issues. But Owens has some questions to answer.

109rosalita
jul 12, 2022, 9:38 pm

>107 rabbitprincess: Excellent!

>108 BLBera: Seems like a lot of people have a lot to answer for, Beth.

110Copperskye
jul 13, 2022, 11:07 pm

Hi Julia, I’ll be picking up my copy of The Locked Room at the library on Friday. What a coincidence that their summer book sale starts that same day! :)

Where the Crawdads Sing never called to me and I don’t think it ever will, especially now.

I’ve never even heard of Ben Aaronovitch and the Rivers Of London series but now I’m intrigued...

111rosalita
Redigerat: jul 14, 2022, 6:21 am

>110 Copperskye: Woo-hoo! How considerate of the library to make your visit multi-purpose, Joanne. :-)

I think you might like the Rivers of London series — it's a great police procedural set in modern-day London but ... magic. And very snarky and funny as well. The first book is called Midnight Riot here in the US. Perhaps your library has it ...

112rosalita
Redigerat: jul 14, 2022, 7:47 pm



23. Dog Days: A Year with Olive & Mabel by Andrew Cotter.

Olive and Mabel are two Very Good Labrador retrievers who live in Chelsea, England, with their human, sports commentator Andrew Cotter. They became famous on the internet during the pandemic when Cotter, at a loss for work with the sports world on hiatus, filmed a few short, humorous videos with his dogs. The viral sensation led to a first book, Olive, Mabel & Me, which I read and reviewed last year. That book focused on the mechanics of how one becomes and reacts to becoming Twitter- and YouTube-famous with some ruminations on why people love dogs and tales of taking the girls hiking in the Scottish mountains. It was, as I said in that review, "gentle, often humorous and occasionally profound story of a man and his dogs."

This one isn't radically different, except perhaps the profundity is dialed up a bit and the narrative (as it unfolds during the pandemic's easing) focuses more on the in-person reactions he gets when he's out and about with Olive & Mabel (fawning isn't too strong a word), and the pressure he sometimes felt to continually provide additional "content" (which he generally ignored unless a naturally good idea occurred to him).

Cotter comes across as a thoughtful, kind man who really is gaga about dogs in all the best ways, and I enjoyed hearing more about the bizarre situations he found himself in and his reluctant but touching reflections on the inevitable parting we must take from dogs who don't live nearly long enough for our needs. If you somehow missed the viral video sensation, you might enjoy the dog talk in one or both of the books, but probably needn't feel compelled to "collect the set."

113katiekrug
jul 14, 2022, 6:24 pm

I enjoyed Cotter's videos during lockdown. One of very few bright spots.

"touching reflections on the inevitable parting we must take from dogs who don't live nearly long enough for our needs." Well said, Julia. I already dread Nuala leaving me for the great dog park in the sky...

114lauralkeet
Redigerat: jul 14, 2022, 6:31 pm

>112 rosalita: I didn't know there was a second book. I don't feel compelled to read it, although I adore Olive and Mabel and have a wee crush on Andrew himself.

When Wimbledon began this year, we were in the UK on vacation. One evening we turned on the telly to watch the coverage and heard a familiar voice, weirdly not talking about dogs. He's actually quite good at talking about tennis, lol.

115rosalita
Redigerat: jul 15, 2022, 9:08 am

>113 katiekrug: It's just not fair that they our lifespans are so out of sync with dogs, Katie. And we simply won't think about life after Nuala. Nope nope nope.

>114 lauralkeet: OMG, THAT SCOTTISH ACCENT!! Squee!

Ahem. Anyway, I mentioned to a friend who agrees with me that watching people play golf on television is the most boring activity possible but if we could listen to Cotter's sports commentating I might actually watch. For a little while, anyway.

116rocketjk
jul 14, 2022, 8:42 pm

117rosalita
jul 15, 2022, 7:15 am

>116 rocketjk: I'm bookmarking that to watch later — thanks for sharing!

118BLBera
jul 15, 2022, 8:44 am

Great comments on the new Olive and Mabel book, Julia. I gave the first one to my daughter. I keep forgetting to ask what she thought. I loved the YouTube videos as well.

119rosalita
jul 15, 2022, 9:08 am

>118 BLBera: Thanks, Beth! Olive and Mabel are global treasures.

120Jackie_K
jul 15, 2022, 1:11 pm

Catching up after some time away - I read about the Delia Owens thing last year, I think, and like you I now have zero desire to read the book (not that it particularly appealed anyway). It just feels a bit icky that even though the story is out in the world, she's still out there promoting herself as though nothing has happened.

121rosalita
jul 15, 2022, 2:42 pm

>120 Jackie_K: Icky is a good way to describe it. I also raised an eyebrow at the fact she and her husband have divorced but they still live together — my cynical brain immediately assumed they divorce is a ruse to avoid liability in any civil litigation.

122CDVicarage
jul 16, 2022, 6:29 am

I've only just found, and starred, your thread, Julia, now you've moved to ROOTS from the 75s. You've been commenting on lots of other threads that I read so I knew you were around!

123rosalita
jul 16, 2022, 9:52 am

>122 CDVicarage: How lovely to have you visit, Kerry! I don't visit a lot of threads these days, but I will be sure to come visit you and see what you have been reading.

124OwenHeinicke
Redigerat: jul 16, 2022, 9:56 am

Detta konto har stängts av för spammande.

125rosalita
Redigerat: jul 16, 2022, 3:59 pm



24. Greetings from Asbury Park by Daniel H. Turtel.

I have to be honest: The main motivation I had to request this book from NetGalley was the title, which it shares with Bruce Springsteen's first album. The description sounded interesting, sure, but really it was the Bruce connection that hooked me.

To answer the most important question: Springsteen doesn't figure into this novel at all, and that's absolutely OK. This tale of a group of half-siblings trying to find their respective places in the world after their late and unlamented father dies is well able to stand on its own. Asbury Park itself — and the Jersey Shore more generally — is as much a character as any of the people, and I found myself recognizing places that I have visited there in the past. That was before Asbury Park was reborn into the thriving beach town it is now, and the book does a great job of capturing the renaissance from the "townie" not tourist point of view.

David is the eldest son of Joseph Larkin and his wife. Casey is the son of Joseph and his mistress, and Gabriella (or Gabby or Gabrielle or Ella, depending on her mood and the company she's keeping) is the daughter of Joseph and the family maid. David and Casey grew up knowing each other and their relationship was uneasy but not hostile. But neither of them knew of Ella's existence until after Joseph's death, and it comes as a shock for each of them in a different way.

And really, that's the book in a nutshell: Three half-siblings, trying to figure out who they are and how they relate to each other emotionally if not genetically, and what their place is in the world. As the "official" heir of a very rich man, David struggles in early adulthood to find his own footing in a world that demands nothing from him.
There was a cruelty in his having been so well provided for at birth; he'd been robbed of misery, robbed of loss, robbed of orphanage. There isn't anything worse than to be born both rich and proud. There wasn't any good direction in which he could go.
Casey has had trouble coming to terms with being the illegitimate son of a powerful man, and Joseph's death doesn't immediately soothe his raw edges. And Ella, an only child who knew and rejected her father — and her brothers while he was alive — finds herself taking tentative steps toward trying to learn how to be part of a larger family.

There are other compelling characters whose storylines brush up against the Larkin family drama, and not always for the better. The young woman who has loved Casey since high school but is too proud to chase after him. A Syrian Jewish family whose teenage children are not left unscathed by their encounters with the Larkins or another local family, the Kowolskis. I thought a couple of these B plots were left dangling a bit, but not egregiously so.

I'll end with Ella's thoughts as she struggles to come to terms with her father's death:
The notion of death swirled around in her head where it mixed with the notion of love. For what was death without love? What did it matter when strangers, when seabirds, when dogs in the street, when coastal Moroccans with their Greetings banners died? And if that was so, and without love death was a thing without sharpnesss, then by refusing to love could one remove the fangs from death?

126katiekrug
jul 16, 2022, 4:33 pm

>125 rosalita: - Ooh, this sounds like one I'd like. Thanks, Julia!

127BLBera
jul 16, 2022, 7:01 pm

>125 rosalita: This does sound good, Julia, despite the false advertising. :)

128rosalita
jul 16, 2022, 7:40 pm

>126 katiekrug: I hope you like it, Katie!

>127 BLBera: I knew it was too good to be true, Beth, but I hoped anyway. I was happy it was good anyway, although everything's better with a little Bruce. :-)

129rosalita
Redigerat: jul 17, 2022, 5:06 pm



25. Amongst Our Weapons by Ben Aaronovitch.

The ninth novel in the paranormal police procedural Rivers of London begins as we've come to expect — a crime has been committed somewhere in London, there are some oddities about the crime scene, and the Special Assessments Unit of the Metropolitan Police (which is to say, the chaps who suss out magical criming) are called in to investigate.

It's soon clear to Constable Peter Grant, his mentor Thomas Nightingale, and apprentice Danni Wickford, that there's something larger going on, involving a weird quasi-religious cult two founded decades ago at Manchester University, a set of magical puzzle rings, and an avenging angel who seems to possess much more magical ability than can be accounted for. And since she's wandering around England to find the former members of the cult and kill them, figuring out from where — or when — she's drawing her magical skills is priority one.
"It's hardly likely to be an actual biblical angel," he said when I'd finished.
"Why not?"
"In a world chock-full of murderous blaspheming bastards," he said, "why would an omnipotent and omniscient deity pick a couple of obscure Brits to do away with in such a public manner?"
"Maybe they did something particularly bad?"
"Have you looked at the news recently?" said Postmartin. "It would have to have been something truly magnificent to get that manner of personal attention."
Along with the main crime plot, we've got Peter preparing for the birth of his twins by his partner, the river goddess Beverley Brook, and trying once again to capture rogue cop Lesley May.

Given my ongoing reading slump, I decided not to attempt to re-read any of the previous books before tackling this one, and it turned out to be fine. The important plot points are signposted and were readily recalled to mind when I encountered them. This series has a cast of thousands, but Aaronovitch does a fine job of subtly reminding readers who they are without getting bogged down in a bunch of exposition.

About the time this new book was being published in April, a collection of short stories set in the same universe was put on e-sale and I picked it up. I think it will tide me over nicely until the next full-length novel comes out.

130connie53
Redigerat: jul 19, 2022, 9:42 am

Hi Julia!
WOW, 78 unread posts! I don't think I'm going to read them all. Hope you are doing fine. Just looking at your reading you must be doing great.

And I did not even congratulate you with your second thread! Sorry

131rosalita
jul 19, 2022, 9:47 am

>130 connie53: Ha! No worries, Connie — this is a pretty sleepy space and you're always free to come and go on your own schedule. I went through a pretty severe reading slump earlier this year, but I seem to have shaken it off (fingers crossed) for now. It's a joy to once again lose myself in a book.

132connie53
jul 19, 2022, 9:48 am

>131 rosalita:. I know about losing yourself in a book and I do hope so too (about the reading slump)

133BLBera
jul 19, 2022, 9:51 am

Agree, Bruce does make life better.

134rosalita
Redigerat: jul 19, 2022, 10:59 am



26. You Had Me at Woof: How Dogs Taught Me the Secrets of Happiness by Julie Klam.

I didn't intend to read this one so soon on the heels of Dog Days, but a hold at the library came in sooner than expected, so I needed to finish it before it expired. Klam is a dog lover through and through, but I didn't quite connect with her story as much as I hoped I would. Perhaps because she lives on the Upper West Side of New York City, perhaps because her dog breed of choice is the Boston Terrier, one of those bulgy-eyed, snub-nosed dogs (see the book cover) that aren't my favorite canine type, and perhaps because her doggy relationships seemed quite a bit more chaotic and involved way more biting than I would personally tolerate.

Still, her stories of working with a rescue group for Boston Terriers was quite moving and she had some insightful things to say about letting the search for a perfect "furever" home gets in the way of finding a good fit between animal and human. Klam writes with a great deal of humor but can also deliver a straight line when the situation requires. Overall, a good book that fell short of the "drowning into a puddle of cuteness while reading" standard that I hold for all books about dogs.

135rosalita
jul 19, 2022, 10:57 am

136BLBera
jul 20, 2022, 1:12 pm

>134 rosalita: Bruce and dogs. :)

137rosalita
jul 20, 2022, 1:25 pm

>136 BLBera: What more could you possibly need?!

OK, chocolate, Bruce and dogs. :-D

138rosalita
jul 21, 2022, 9:48 am

If anyone happens to see this before 10 a.m. CDT, please consider sending some positive vibes my way as I make my first try at Springsteen tickets for next year's concert in St. Paul, Minnesota. Ticketmaster is using the same "Verified Fan" lottery process they used for Springsteen on Broadway and it took me over a year to "earn" the right to try to buy a ticket then, but I got an access code on the first try this time. (Of course, there's a few more seats in a basketball arena than in a Broadway theater, so my odds were better.)

I'm not sanguine about actually buying a ticket, especially after seeing the prices Ticketmaster has been charging for "platinum" seats at earlier shows in the tour (over $4,000 for a seat on the floor!). I may end up passing even if I do get in, but we'll see what happens.

139katiekrug
jul 21, 2022, 9:49 am

Good luck, Julia!

140rosalita
jul 21, 2022, 9:52 am

141BLBera
jul 21, 2022, 1:05 pm

Fingers crossed. St. Paul! I've never seen Bruce in concert, but I will not pay a fortune for a ticket.

142rosalita
jul 21, 2022, 1:34 pm

>141 BLBera: I was planning to stop by Rochester on my to St. Paul, Beth, but alas. I pulled up a ticket in the front row of the side section closest to the stage, and was very excited. Then I went to checkout and saw the price: $2,450 plus $350+ service fee. So I'll have to wait for my 31st Bruce show a little longer ...

So glad the prime of my concert-attending years were mostly before this current price-gouging nonsense!

143Copperskye
jul 21, 2022, 7:08 pm

Sorry about the Springsteen ticket, Julia...yikes!

Tix for the Denver show were offered up yesterday at 10 am and I had also managed to get a verified fan access code. But Skye had a big vet appt at 9:30 and by the time we got home, I didn’t even think to try. I looked today though, out of curiosity. I used my access code and was directed to Ticketmaster where the tix on offer were “verified resale tickets” at resale prices that didn’t include the “fees”. The lowest prices I saw were $590. And I’d have wanted two. I don’t know what the original prices were, but I suspect I wouldn’t have bought them either. Seats where I would have wanted to sit were near $1000 and then some.

As it happens, I recently came across a ticket stub from a Springsteen concert from Mar 31, 2000. Same venue, Sec 142, Row 18 (side of stage but were really close, and they were good seats, imo). $67.50 plus 9.80 convenience charge. Those were the days.

144rocketjk
jul 21, 2022, 7:30 pm

>142 rosalita: & >143 Copperskye: Yikes! My first Springsteen show was at Seton Hall University in South Orange, NJ, in 1974. I think I paid $3.50!

145rosalita
Redigerat: jul 21, 2022, 7:49 pm

>143 Copperskye: The dynamic pricing means you don't see the price until you go to checkout, because Ticketmaster is constantly adjusting the price based on demand. It's pretty dang gross, if you ask me.

>144 rocketjk: My first show was in 1985, Soldier Field in Chicago with 70,000 of my closest friends. :-) It cost $21.00. Them was the days ...

146Copperskye
jul 21, 2022, 8:11 pm

>144 rocketjk: Wow, 1974, early days!

>145 rosalita: No, it’s not right. My first was 1984, the same Born in the USA tour where you saw him, Julia, but in East Rutherford, NJ.

147rosalita
jul 21, 2022, 9:21 pm

>146 Copperskye: The start of it all for me ... sigh.

148MissWatson
jul 22, 2022, 2:54 am

>142 rosalita: I am flabbergasted. Can anyone afford such prices?

149rosalita
jul 22, 2022, 8:19 am

>148 MissWatson: Well, the show has pretty much sold out, so thousands of people apparently can! It's astonishing.

150BLBera
jul 22, 2022, 9:52 am

The ticket prices are obscene. But you can still come to Rochester anytime, Julia. :)

152rosalita
jul 22, 2022, 2:27 pm

>151 BLBera: I didn't see that article but believe me, my Twitter timeline is aflame with disgruntled Bruce fans!

153katiekrug
jul 22, 2022, 2:47 pm

I am curious about the ticket pricing and how the money is split between performers and TM. I like Bruce, but it's really not a good look...

154rosalita
Redigerat: jul 22, 2022, 5:06 pm

>153 katiekrug: I've been listening to a podcast that talks about the whole Platinum/dynamic pricing situation with Ticketmaster, and there seems to be universal shock even within the music industry that initial prices were as high as they have been for the first two on-sale dates — apparently higher than with any other artist, so there's definitely something fishy going on. One of the hosts, who says he's bought Platinum tickets for many different artists, is speculating that Ticketmaster artificially inflated the prices at the get-go in order to make people more willing to pay the prices when they fall, but I don't know.

I agree it's not a good look for anyone — Bruce, Ticketmaster, the promoter. I'll be watching to see if there are any adjustments for the next on-sale date.

Also, the whole Verified Fan process is ridiculous. It's supposedly to keep tickets out of the hands of scalpers, but the fact that so many seats went so fast for so much money tells me there are absolutely still scalpers getting tickets. Especially when I logged in to Ticketmaster just now and saw seats in pretty much every section are already listed for re-sale on the Ticketmaster site, but for less than Ticketmaster was selling them for — now does that make sense? Why would someone pay $2,500 for a ticket and immediately turn around and list it for resale at $1,500 unless they had a source within Ticketmaster that gave them a lower price? Maybe those people aren't professional scalpers, but they sure as heck aren't Bruce fans, either.

155rabbitprincess
jul 22, 2022, 4:49 pm

>154 rosalita: Ugh, yeah, it seems like the only scalpers Ticketmaster wants getting tickets are ones in their employ! And how extremely rude to do it for a Springsteen show in particular.

156rosalita
Redigerat: jul 23, 2022, 2:48 pm



27. The Lone Pilgrim by Laurie Corwin.

The fact that this book has been on my currently reading list since August 2021 is not a reflection of its quality. Laurie Colwin's writing is lyrical and she has a way of "turning domestic life into poetry," as The Washington Post said in a review that compared her to Jane Austen.

No, the cause of the delay in finishing this book of short stories is entirely because I don't get on well with story collections. I have to read each story separately, with breaks in between, or else everything runs together and I lose the distinctions between the individual stories. But once I set the book down, I forget to pick it back up again. Which is a shame when you're reading something really good, like this one.

One of the techniques I use with story collections is to jot a one- or two-sentence reaction in a notebook at the end of each story, so that even when it takes me nearly a year to finish the book, I can jog my memory of the earlier stories. These are the notes I took for this book, along with a sprinkling of my favorite quotes:

The Lone Pilgrim — A young single woman prides herself on being the ideal houseguest for her married friends — until she falls in love herself.

The Boyish Lover — How can a love affair between two attractive graduate instructors who seem to be made for each other possibly go wrong?
She was wearing a suit that held her body like a straitjacket, and when she stood, she had the sort of carriage taught to girls who know that they will never inter lives have to bend over to pick up so much as a pin.

Sentimental Memory — My post-reading summary in this case was just a quote:
The trouble with second marriages is rather like the trouble with new shoes: They don't fit the way your old ones did. They pinch in places you are not used to feeling pinched in.

A Girl Skating — Bernadette, daughter of professors at a small liberal-arts college, finds herself the target of the benevolent obsession of the campus' celebrated resident poet.

An Old-Fashioned Story — Nelson and Elizabeth, whose parents have plotted their entire lives to make them fall in love, do everything they can to resist.

Intimacy — An encounter with the man she loved before she married causes Martha to reflect on where her loyalty — and her faithfulness — really lie.

Travel — Marguerite accompanies her husband on his travels despite a fear of flying, believing that it is shared memories, no matter how traumatic, that make a marriage.

Delia's Father — Georgia contemplates crossing the divide between childhood and adulthood in the company of her friend's exotically foreign father.

A Mythological Subject — Nellie, a woman who prides herself on her sense of order and morality, is torn apart when she falls in love with a man not her husband.

Saint Anthony of the Desert — A young woman who describes her personality as "haphazard" mistakes an affair with her polar opposite as a melding of two lives instead of a tourist dallying in the sketchy part of town.

The Smile Beneath the Smile — Another quote description:
Andrew felt it as a power and a pull — a pull toward Rachel and the power to affect her. Rachel, who had spent a year amazed that she could not get over Andrew, now realized that the bond they shared was one of awful sadness. Nothing good would every happen to them again, no matter with what ardent innocence they approached each other.

The Achieve of, the Mastery of the Thing — Another quote:
Once upon a time I was Professor Thorne Speizer's stoned wife, and what a time that was.

Family Happiness — Polly grows up in an eccentric but close-knit family. She deeply loves her husband and appears to have the perfect family. So why is she having a passionate affair with another man?
Lincoln singled her out, as no one except her children had ever done, not for what she could do, but for what she was. Lincoln truly loved her for her spirit.

157rosalita
jul 23, 2022, 3:07 pm



28. The Rubber Band by Rex Stout.

The third book in Stout's series of Nero Wolfe mysteries sees Wolfe mixed up in a strange case involving Wild West tale from 40 years prior (circa 1896) and a present-day English lord and diplomat.

This was never one of my favorites; I don't think the series really hits its stride until Book 5, Too Many Cooks. Because of that, I haven't re-read it nearly as often as later books, so I was surprised to find that it was better than I remembered. The tall tale of a poker-game shootout, an wild escape just ahead of a hanging, and a promise to share half of any eventual wealth in exchange for a fast horse is pretty out there, but as always Wolfe and Archie are put to the task.

The culprit seemed to be pretty obvious to me, but then again I've read it before so maybe my subconscious remembered more than I thought. The main recommendation for reading this one is to get to the better stories later on.

158rosalita
Redigerat: jul 23, 2022, 3:12 pm

I read my battered old 1964 Pyramid paperback, picked up the same way I acquired most of my Nero Wolfe collection, by relentlessly scouring used bookstores. As I said in the review, it's been a while since I read this one, and I had forgotten about the other mystery written on the inside back cover by a previous owner. It's just a list:

Skyway (also 90)
Dan Ryan (94)
Kennedy (left side)
Edens (signs say Milwaukee)
Exit on Willow Rd E

Can any of you guess what this refers to, and identify the location?

159rocketjk
Redigerat: jul 23, 2022, 4:45 pm

>158 rosalita: I'm pretty sure I have it, though I had to do some searching. But I will use the spoiler tag to let others guess if they like:

Chicago. My hint was "Dan Ryan (94)." I figured there might be something called the Dan Ryan Highway or Expressway which would also have an Interstate or U.S. Highway designation of 94. A quick online search confirms:

"The Dan Ryan Expressway is an expressway in Chicago that runs from the Circle Interchange with Interstate 290 (I-290) near Downtown Chicago through the South Side of the city. It is designated as both I-90 and I-94 south to 66th Street, a distance of 7.44 miles (11.97 km)."

Chicago denizens would have gotten this right off.

At any rate, a map search shows that Dan Ryan Expressway becomes the Kennedy Expressway which then splits off onto the Edens Expressway. The Willow Road East exit brings you to an area with quite a few parks, although I am sort of hoping the end goal was Stormy's Tavern and Grille.


What to you think?

160rosalita
jul 23, 2022, 5:03 pm

>159 rocketjk: That is some excellent sleuthing! I think the clue that gave you the first hint is the one that is the likeliest giveaway. I don't know what the final destination but I hope you're right. :-)

161kac522
Redigerat: jul 24, 2022, 4:09 pm

>158 rosalita: I usually go west on Willow at that exit, so I'm not as familiar with going east. The exit itself is in Northfield, I think; going east would take you into Winnetka--mostly residential. Going east, Willow ends at Green Bay Road, which runs parallel to railroad tracks (Metra North line now; Chicago & Northwestern RR in 1964).

162kac522
Redigerat: jul 23, 2022, 10:45 pm

>161 kac522: Also just after you exit east, you come (on the north side of Willow) to the Skokie Lagoons and Erickson Woods, part of the Forest Preserve system. Many people picnic, fish, boat, etc. here. There are bike trails that eventually go north into the Chicago Botanic Garden.

https://fpdcc.com/places/locations/skokie-lagoons/

163Copperskye
jul 23, 2022, 10:32 pm

>158 rosalita: >159 rocketjk: That’s excellent! I love little mysteries like this.

I’ve never read a Nero Wolfe but I keeping meaning to give one a try. (Now I know, nothing before book 5.) I hate to ask, but can they be read randomly, Julia? I have And Four to Go on my kindle so I probably picked it up on sale at some point. It’s #30. I know my libraries have some on Overdrive but certainly not all.

164kac522
Redigerat: jul 23, 2022, 10:46 pm

>158 rosalita: Also, if the Skyway was the first highway, then most probably they were coming from Indiana, since the Skyway starts at the Indiana border and ends merging into the Dan Ryan in Chicago, and I don't believe there are any on/off ramps in between. Probably TMI. Sorry.
ETA: spoiler tags

165rosalita
jul 24, 2022, 3:49 pm

>163 Copperskye: Hi, Joanne! The Nero Wolfe series can absolutely be read in any darn order you please! And I know that's true because that's how I first read them. I read the one my mom had on our bookshelves at home, If Death Ever Slept, then the few that our small county library had on the shelves, then whichever ones I could find at any used bookstore I happened to visit.

The only thing I would say is that the final book, A Family Affair, really should be read last, because there are major spoilers for the rest of the series. But other than that, have at it! I'll look forward to hearing what you think.

166rosalita
Redigerat: jul 24, 2022, 3:51 pm

>164 kac522: all of these are excellent detail work, Kathy! I feel like I've been on the trip myself thanks to you!

167rosalita
Redigerat: jul 24, 2022, 5:57 pm



29. The Mystery of the Screaming Clock by Robert Arthur.

Jupiter Jones and his friends Pete Crenshaw and Bob Andrews, who together make up the Three Investigators, are at loose ends. They haven't had a case in a while, and they are getting antsy. So when a clock rigged to emit a bloodcurdling scream when the alarm goes off turns up in the Jones Salvage Yard, Jupiter decides they can use it for detecting practice, with the consent of Uncle Titus and Aunt Mathilda, owners of the junkyard. The boys trace the clock back to the house of the man who owned it, but he's gone missing — and left behind a whole room full of screaming clocks. Luckily our intrepid investigators have a clue to follow and they pursue it, though they weren't quite intending to get mixed up in a notorious art-theft ring. Can they solve the mystery before they are forced to do some screaming of their own?

I still enjoy my re-read of these childhood favorites very much. The puzzle here is very good, even if the solution is a bit far-fetched. Then again, probably not more far-fetched than getting mixed up in international espionage and an attempted coup in a foreign country, as in their last case. All in all, another enjoyable visit to Rocky Beach, California.

168rosalita
jul 24, 2022, 6:13 pm

Currently Reading
(as of July 24)

    

Her Country: How the Women of Country Music Became the Success They Were Never Supposed to Be by Marissa R. Moss. This is an Early Reviewers book, a lovely hardback. I'm especially looking forward to reading it now, on the heels of the Citizen Cash book.

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. I've had this one in the TBR queue for ages, but Laura's recent review prompted me to bump it up to Currently Reading status. It's an ebook, so it will make a nice companion to Her Country for late-night reading when I don't want to have bright lights on.

K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches by Tyler Kepner. I'm inspired to keep going with this book I've been reading since March, for Pete's sake because I just finished another book that took me nearly a year to read. The slowness of my reading has nothing to do with the quality of Kepner's writing and everything to do with the fact that I just have not been into baseball this season. My favorite team, the Chicago Cubs, plays all its games on a regional sports network that I don't have access to, plus the owners have decided they aren't willing to pay what it takes to field an actual major-league quality team, so I've been pretty checked out all season, honestly.

169lyzard
jul 24, 2022, 6:24 pm

>167 rosalita:

The Moaning Cave ahoy! :)

>168 rosalita:

the owners have decided they aren't willing to pay what it takes to field an actual major-league quality team

I hear you. I'm currently suffering under a coach who thinks picking up just-over-the-hill players cheap is better (or at least less work) than developing talented juniors. :(

170rosalita
Redigerat: jul 24, 2022, 7:23 pm

>169 lyzard: The Cubs are going the opposite way — picking up tons of "prospects" who don't belong anywhere on a major-league club but are cheap. And particularly with pitchers, the organization's track record of developing young players into solid contributors is abysmal. Either way, we both end up with a non-competitive team to root for.

171kac522
jul 24, 2022, 8:33 pm

>170 rosalita: Sigh...just looked today at my autographed copy of Andre Dawson's book Hawk...those were the days.

At least Buck O'Neil and Minnie Minoso are now in the HOF, albeit decades too late.

172Copperskye
jul 24, 2022, 8:35 pm

>165 rosalita: Oh, good! I’ll give the one on my kindle a go one of these days. Thanks for the info, Julia!

>168 rosalita: I hope you like The Thursday Murder Club as much as I did. I’m eagerly awaiting book #3 this September!

173rosalita
jul 24, 2022, 8:45 pm

>171 kac522: Dawson was one of my favorites, Kathy! And I echo your pleasure that Buck and Minnie are now in the HoF. As I did with Ron Santo, I wish Buck had been inducted while he was still around to enjoy it, but better late than never.

174rosalita
jul 24, 2022, 9:07 pm

>172 Copperskye: And Four to Go is pretty fun — four short novellas, each with a loose holiday theme. Enjoy!

175lauralkeet
jul 25, 2022, 6:26 am

Hurray for The Thursday Murder Club! I hope you enjoy it, Julia.

176scaifea
jul 25, 2022, 9:21 am

Morning, Julia! I was just eyeing The Thursday Murder Club in a little bookshop near the restaurant last night. I walked away without it, but I think I'm regretting that decision.

177rosalita
jul 25, 2022, 9:30 am

>175 lauralkeet: I started it last night, and so far so good! In fact, I just went and put a hold on the second one at the library, because there are 60 people ahead of me so I won't be getting it anytime soon.

>176 scaifea: I'm not very far into it but I'm enjoying it so far. I have faith it will cross your path again and you won't miss your chance next time. :-)

178katiekrug
jul 25, 2022, 10:10 am

Laura's comments also led me to move the Osman about the pile. I will likely finally get to it in August.

179lauralkeet
jul 25, 2022, 12:13 pm

>176 scaifea:, >177 rosalita:, >178 katiekrug: Oh my, I'm not sure I can handle the pressure!

180rosalita
Redigerat: jul 27, 2022, 5:54 pm



30. The Appeal by Janice Hallett.

The wraparound story that sets up this contemporary mystery features a Queen's Counsel who has instructed two of his articled clerks(? — I welcome corrections of my imperfect understanding of the UK legal system) to examine a packet of written evidence used in a trial — emails, text messages, letters — to determine if there are grounds to appeal a murder conviction that the QC believes was wrongly decided. As the two clerks review all of the information, they exchange texts and emails with each other and with their boss, providing exposition to the reader in the guise of asking for clarification or talking through scenarios.

The legal case is not the only appeal that the title refers to. At the heart of the story is a village community theater group, the Fairway Players, which is run more or less benevolently by the local "alpha" family, the Haywards. They receive shocking news when their young granddaughter, Poppy, is diagnosed with cancer. Her only hope is an experimental drug treatment that has not been approved in the UK and is only available at enormous cost directly from the American doctors conducting a clinical trial. The family launches an ambitious crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds, while simultaneously rehearsing and preparing to debut the theater group's current play, Arthur Miller's All My Sons.

It's pretty clear from the setup and the opening pages that there's something rotten in Lockwood, but we don't find out who the victim is until quite late, which makes reading all of the emails and texts akin to putting together a jigsaw puzzle without being able to refer to the picture on the box. It all makes for a compelling page-turner, and I enjoyed continually making and revising guesses about what was really going on, to whom and by whom, throughout. (Let's just say murder isn't the only shady activity going on among this lot.) The characters were fully formed and distinct enough to both distinguish from each other and allow the reader to form definite opinions about them based on their communications.

All in all, I found this a rollicking good time. Because the story is told in an epistolary style, there's no blood or gore — the focus really is on trying to put the puzzle together and arrive at the same conclusion as the lawyers. The final chapter seemed like the perfect payoff for the setup that occurred throughout the story, which is always a satisfying way to end a mystery.

181BLBera
jul 27, 2022, 6:10 pm

>180 rosalita: This sounds like one I would like, Julia. Love the no blood or gore part. Great comments.

182rosalita
Redigerat: jul 28, 2022, 3:08 pm

>181 BLBera: I think you'd like it if you like trying to solve the puzzle in a mystery, Beth. It's a compulsive read; I didn't want to put it down.

183katiekrug
jul 27, 2022, 6:46 pm

184rosalita
jul 27, 2022, 7:42 pm

>183 katiekrug: I think you'd enjoy it, Katie. And you've got all that jigsaw puzzle experience to help you!

185rosalita
Redigerat: jul 29, 2022, 3:51 pm



31. An Offer from a Gentleman by Julia Quinn.

The third installment of the Bridgerton series of romance novels, whose Netflix adaptation has been a bit of a phenomenon. Here we have Benedict Bridgerton, or Number 2 as he's generally known to members of the ton, who is in no hurry to find himself a wife until he is struck by love at first sight of a mysterious young woman at a masquerade ball. They are separated before he can find out who she is, and he spends the next six months searching everywhere for "the woman in silver" to no avail. The depth of his feelings for her are so emphatic in the narrative that it's hard to believe when he finally comes face-to-face with her three years later, he doesn't recognize her at all. Then again, it would be more of a short story than a novel if he did...

Sophia, illegitimate daughter of an unloving earl, is left to fend for herself when her father dies and her evil stepmother (the stepmother is always evil, if you're new to romances) throws her out into the street, where she finds work in a series of lowly maid positions until meeting Benedict again by chance. Unlike Benedict, Sophie knows exactly who he is but doesn't spill the beans. This leads the two on a merry dance, as Benedict repeatedly muses about how he could have met yet another woman who affects him in exactly the same way as the mysterious woman in silver. Oh, Ben, you sweet dim bulb.

You know what they say: It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt, and the course of true love for Sophie and Ben does not run smoothly, but it does eventually splash down in the requisite happy ever after, so all's well that ends well. I enjoyed reading this one more than the second book about No. 1 Son Anthony, and can only hope that the fourth is better yet.

186scaifea
jul 30, 2022, 12:09 pm

>185 rosalita: I agree that this one was better than the Anthony one. I'm on the 4th book now and liking it so far.

187rosalita
jul 30, 2022, 12:21 pm

>186 scaifea: That's good to hear! I'm spacing them out to make them last, but I hope I'll get to that one yet this year.

188scaifea
jul 30, 2022, 12:30 pm

I wanted to make sure I didn't forget to read this one before the next season comes out since I think it will cover this plot.

189rosalita
jul 30, 2022, 12:45 pm

>188 scaifea: I'm usually the same about stuff like that, but I've been perpetually behind since the beginning. The show just seems so different from the books that it doesn't bother me in this case.

190Caramellunacy
jul 30, 2022, 4:31 pm

>188 scaifea: I think I've seen that the next season will be more or less the story from Book 4 and they're coming back to Benedict in a later season...

191rosalita
Redigerat: jul 30, 2022, 7:02 pm

>190 Caramellunacy: Thanks for the info!

I'm not sure when the new season will be out, but I'm sure Katie knows if she's reading this ... :-)

192katiekrug
Redigerat: jul 30, 2022, 9:01 pm

Helllloooooo!

Yes, the next season will primarily focus on Penelope and Colin (#polin) which is book 4. There is speculation that it will also begin Benedict's story (book 3) since there is a gap between him first encountering Sophie and the rest of their story. I will spare you all my lengthy discourse on the issues I have with #polin despite loving their book. You're welcome.

ETA: oops, the question was about when the new season will be out. I believe the best guess is 2023 Q1. They just confirmed that filming had started.

193rosalita
jul 30, 2022, 9:17 pm

>192 katiekrug: i knew you'd know, friend! So 2023, eh? That gives me plenty of time to read Book 4 before it airs.

I get the feeling this may be an unpopular opinion (not necessarily with you) but I kind of like the TV Penelope. I don't think she has always been well served by the scripts but I like the actress.

194katiekrug
jul 30, 2022, 9:26 pm

Nicola Coughlin is great (have you seen Derry Girls?). But the writers of the series have, IMO, made her more unlikeable than in the books. They're going to have to do a lot to redeem her in my eyes , but I said the same thing about Anthony after season 1, and I adored him in season 2, so I'm sure it will all be fine 🙂

195rosalita
jul 30, 2022, 10:04 pm

>194 katiekrug: i have not seen Derry Girls, but it's on the list! Maybe the writers deliberately make the star of the next season unlikable in the previous season to make their transformation more impressive? Surely not; that would be stupid, right?

196rosalita
Redigerat: jul 31, 2022, 11:29 am



32. The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman.

The Jigsaw Room at the Coopers Chase retirement village boasts the sort of club meeting schedule you'd expect: Art History, Conversational French, Chat and Crochet, Knit and Natter (bit of an internecine battle led to that crafty schism), Bowls Club and so on. And of course there's the Thursday Murder Club, a diverse foursome of pensioners whose routine re-investigations of police cold cases (files provided courtesy of a former member who is hors de combat in a coma over in the nursing wing of the village) have taken a back seat to a real live murder involving the developers of the retirement village. The developers recently proposed a massive (and massively unpopular with the current residents) expansion of Coopers Chase, which will involve digging up and moving the graves of the nuns who formerly ran the convent that was repurposed into retirement housing. So lots of people have a motive, but can the Club help the police find the culprit in what may be the final hurrah of their long lives?

The murder mystery is solid in this unabashedly cozy mystery, but the comedic patter is a cut above the genre's usual. At times it almost reads like a Lewis-Martin comedy skit, but underneath the easy humor lies some genuine feeling and emotion among these older persons whose formerly vital lives have slowed and dimmed with their advancing years. The flesh may be weak, but their spirits and their brains don't seem to have skipped a beat on the way to octogenarian hood.

Chapters alternate between viewpoints, including a diary being kept by Joyce, the newest member of the TMC who details the investigation along with chatty asides about life in the village and the widower she has her widow's eye on. The police who find themselves inadvertently working with the Club manage to evade most of the usual cop stereotypes and prove themselves as sharp investigators in addition to perfect comedic foils for the amateur crime enthusiasts. All in all, a very enjoyable read. After reading it, I went and put the second book in the series on reserve at the library. I'm no more ready to bid farewell to the denizens of Coopers Chase than they are.

197BLBera
jul 31, 2022, 11:31 am

This sounds like one I would like. There is a long waiting list, but I'll get it eventually. Have a great Sunday. Stay cool.

198katiekrug
jul 31, 2022, 11:48 am

>195 rosalita: - Maybe, but I wish they wouldn't! I hate not loving TV Penelope like I love book Penelope :)

>196 rosalita: - On my short list!

199rosalita
jul 31, 2022, 11:49 am

Currently Reading
(as of July 31)

    

I don't make a habit of reading multiple nonfiction books at the same time but I had already started Her Country when a library book I had reserved a while ago came in. Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service is a particularly timely read given recent revelations from the Congressional hearings that emails and text messages from the Secret Service and top officials of the Department of Homeland Security mysteriously went missing in the weeks following the January 6 insurrection. The official story is that they were "accidentally" erased during a migration to new mobile phones for agency personnel. Zero Fail's author, Carol Leonnig, is the Washington Post reporter who has been breaking news on this topic, and her book (published in 2021 but written prior to the insurrection) is worthy background reading to learn that the Secret Service has a history of "accidental" loss of key evidence dating back to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

And just because I need a bit of a palate cleanser amongst all that ... reality ... I'm also starting a brand-new-to-me series to be read in conjunction with Liz. The Barrakee Mystery is the first in a "Golden Age" series set in a Australia and featuring Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte. I really enjoy mysteries set in this time period and I'm looking forward to tapping into Liz's expertise of the time period, the genre and the setting to deepen my enjoyment.

200rosalita
jul 31, 2022, 11:51 am

>197 BLBera: Yes, I think you'll enjoy it when you get it, Beth. It's been a beautiful weekend weather-wise here, but next week is supposed to be a real scorcher. Yippee.

>198 katiekrug: Agreed on Penelope. And I'm happy to report that Laura did not steer us wrong with her rave review for this one. :)

201lauralkeet
jul 31, 2022, 1:31 pm

>196 rosalita: What a superb review, Julia. I'm so glad you enjoyed The Thursday Murder Club! I'll be requesting book #2 from my library soon, I just need to work my way through some recently-arrived holds. I'm surprised to see there are few holds on The Man Who Died Twice, so hopefully I won't have too long of a wait.

>200 rosalita: *takes a deep bow*

202rosalita
jul 31, 2022, 1:36 pm

>201 lauralkeet: Thank you, Laura! Both for your kind comments about my review and for nudging me to finally read this one. I felt comfortable putting my hold in for Book 2 right away because their are 35 people ahead of me in line, so it will be a few months before I get it.

203lyzard
jul 31, 2022, 10:36 pm

204rosalita
aug 8, 2022, 1:05 pm

Some of you might remember that I went through one of the worst reading slumps of my life earlier this year. I finished just two books in April and only three in May before bouncing back a little in June with four. But July was an explosion of reading and it felt really good! And along comes Kobo with the receipts:



As for August, I've finished one nonfiction book (need to write my review) and am well along in another, with a couple of fiction reads clamoring for my attention. In other words — so far, so good.

205katiekrug
aug 8, 2022, 1:52 pm

I think I've also broken through my reading slump. Cheers to us!

206rosalita
aug 8, 2022, 3:02 pm

207MissWatson
aug 9, 2022, 3:52 am

>204 rosalita: Great news! Great stats!

208Caramellunacy
aug 9, 2022, 5:30 am

>204 rosalita: Fantastic news!

209rosalita
aug 9, 2022, 8:12 am

210BLBera
aug 9, 2022, 8:47 am

Cheers! I love that your e-reader does stats. And sorry about yesterday.

211rosalita
aug 9, 2022, 9:29 am

>210 BLBera: The stats are fun, and it saves me from having to figure them out myself. Ha!

Kerri and I missed you last night, but there's always next month. I'm sure you had a very nice chat with your unexpected visitor, though, so at least you didn't ditch us to wax your car or anything. :-D

212BLBera
aug 9, 2022, 10:34 am

It shows that I can only hold one thought in my head at a time, Julia. :)

213rosalita
aug 9, 2022, 10:38 am

>212 BLBera: There are days when even holding one thought in my head is a challenge!

214Jackie_K
aug 9, 2022, 12:33 pm

My kobo doesn't do those fancy stats! Harumph. I want fancy stats too! *stamps foot*

(it does do stats, but not month by month as far as I can tell. Also as I read multiple books on it at the same time, the stats often get a bit confused)

215rosalita
aug 9, 2022, 12:44 pm

>214 Jackie_K: Hi, Jackie! The Kobo stats are from an email that Kobo sends me every month. I don't remember ever signing up for emails, but I buy so dang many books from them (mostly cheap sale books, but it all adds up) that I assume they have me filed under "easy mark" in their database. :-)

216rosalita
aug 9, 2022, 5:55 pm

I need to write a review of the book I finished, but in the meantime, an update:

Currently Reading
(as of August 9)


    

Her Country: How the Women of Country Music Became the Success They Were Never Supposed to Be by Marissa R. Moss. It's always tricky reading nonfiction about a topic you think you know well, but in the first third of the book Moss has already jogged my memory and filled in previously unknown details about all sorts of goings-on in early 2000s country music, including the vilification of The Dixie Chicks, as well as filling me in on what's happened since I stopped paying attention to mainstream country music about 15 years ago. Good stuff.

The Barrakee Mystery is my fiction alternate. It's the first book in a Golden Age mystery series set in Australia. I have some catching up to do but eventually I'll be reading this series in tandem with the lovely Liz.

Firefly Summer by Maeve Binchy. This is a battered mass-market paperback that I've read at least a couple of times already. It's my "keep in the car" book for when I get stuck somewhere with nothing to read, so progress won't be swift. I probably won't mention it again until I finish it and post a review, but here it is in the interest of full disclosure.

217rocketjk
aug 9, 2022, 6:34 pm

>216 rosalita: Firefly Summer is the one and only Maeve Binchy novel I've read. It was quite some time ago, but I recall enjoying it.

218rosalita
aug 9, 2022, 7:36 pm

>217 rocketjk: I think I've read almost all of Binchy's work. Obviously I really enjoy it. 😃

219BLBera
aug 9, 2022, 8:17 pm

I've never read anything by Binchy. Is Firefly Summer a good one to start with?

220rosalita
aug 9, 2022, 8:42 pm

>219 BLBera: It's one of her earlier novels, which were structured as sprawling sorts of stories that spanned decades, showing the ways that Ireland changed from the 1950s into present-day. They're generally set in small villages where everyone knows everyone else's business. She had a knack for telling a story from one point of view, then switching to let us see how the other characters involved experienced the same event. They aren't particularly dark, and there is a good amount of gentle humor.

I haven't catalogued all of my Binchy books on LT, but Firefly Summer and The Copper Beech both got 4.5 stars from me. Circle of Friends is another good one and was made into a movie starring Minnie Driver and Christopher O'Donnell. I think any one of those would tell you if you like her style or not.

221BLBera
aug 10, 2022, 11:30 am

Thanks Julia. I will look for one of those -- one of these days. You know how that is.

222scaifea
aug 10, 2022, 12:57 pm

Hi, Julia!

I've loved all the Binchy books I've read; I'll have to keep this one on my radar!

223rosalita
aug 10, 2022, 1:20 pm

>221 BLBera: I have a great idea — why don't I send you a couple of my Binchy books for you to try out?

>222 scaifea: It's a good one, Amber! Do you have a favorite Binchy?

224BLBera
aug 10, 2022, 3:19 pm

Thanks Julia. Only if you want to get rid of them. I checked and my library does have copies of the ones you mentioned.

225rosalita
aug 10, 2022, 3:39 pm

>224 BLBera: If you were planning to visit Iowa City sometime soon, you could just take them home with you ...

226BLBera
aug 10, 2022, 8:42 pm

Maybe I should plan a trip to Iowa City...

227rosalita
aug 11, 2022, 1:41 pm

Well, now that you mention it ...

The Iowa City Book Festival will be held Sept 28-Oct. 13. They recently released the list of authors who will be appearing. You can get the full bios of each and a full schedule of events and other information on the website, but here's a list:

Angie Cruz
Anthony Doerr
Sarah Kendzior
John Koethe
Alex Kotlowitz
Lyz Lenz
Beth Livingston (no author page on LT)
Elizabeth McCracken
Don McLeese
Victor Ray (no author page on LT)
Rebecca Solnit (Solnit is being presented with the Paul Engle Prize by the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature)
Elizabeth Weiss

228BLBera
aug 11, 2022, 2:01 pm

It looks like a great lineup, Julia.

229rosalita
Redigerat: aug 14, 2022, 7:04 pm



33. Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service by Carol Leonnig.

This historical review of the United States Secret Service, famously known for its role in providing protection for the US president and other high government officials, was published in 2021 but researched and written well before that. The January 6, 2021, insurrection at the US Capitol merits just a few paragraphs in the epilogue, presumably added soon after the event as the book was going to print. And of course there's nothing about the crisis that's exploded over the past month, related to missing texts and emails of Secret Service agents from the days surrounding the events of January 6. However, that doesn't mean it doesn't shed light on current events, particularly in drawing a line through multiple crises and scandals pretty much since its founding. In short, the current crisis didn't spring fully formed out of nothing; the groundwork was laid over many years of mismanagement and politicization of what is meant to be a decidedly nonpartisan unit of government.

For readers not familiar with the organization of the US federal government, the initial purpose of the Secret Service had nothing to do with protecting the president. It was formed in 1865 by President Abraham Lincoln as a law enforcement unit of the Department of Treasury, tasked with combating the rampant counterfeiting of federal banknotes (known as "greenbacks") during and following the Civil War. Its duties quickly mushroomed into investigating all sorts of fraud and federal crimes, essentially precursor of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which was founded in 1908. Presidential protection continued to not be one of those duties, even as another president, James Garfield, was assassinated in 1881.

Not until death threats came to light in 1894 against President Grover Cleveland did the director of the Secret Service dispatch a handful of agents to guard the president and his family — a top-secret mission completely unauthorized by Congress, who remained ignorant of the arrangement until after William McKinley was elected in 1901. When McKinley was assassinated six months later — the third president to be assassinated in 36 years — Congress finally voted to create a permanent security force to protect the president, which took effect in 1906. Protective services remained a small part of the Service's work, with most of its resources continuing to be devoted to investigating financial crimes.

Leonnig recounts the numerous times the Secret Service agents performed truly heroic actions, during assassination attempts on Harry Truman, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan. But she also details the many, many close calls when violent attempts nearly succeeded due to systemic failures in the agency's organization and operation. And, of course, the most catastrophic failure of all, the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963.

The saying is that success has many fathers but failure is an orphan, but Leonnig's meticulous documentation and extensive sources both inside and outside of the Secret Service make it clear that the blame for the organization's sorry state over the years has its roots in many parts of government. Congress has consistently underfunded the agency while increasing its scope, leaving it badly undermanned and reliant on outdated equipment. Presidents of every political persuasion have fought against allowing the agency to do its job, chafing against the "optics" of having an obvious protection detail, and making decisions on the personnel of their protective detail based on personal or political affinity rather than ability. Pretty much every director of the agency, chosen again based on personal connections rather than acumen, has failed to instill a sense of discipline into the agents who serve under them. Again and again, agents have been caught in embarrassing situation involving drunkenness, cavorting with prostitutes in foreign countries and worse.

Again and again, the primary focus of the people in charge was in covering up the problem rather than rooting it out and punishing the agents responsible. As Julia Pierson, a short-lived director during President Obama's administration who tried to clean things up, tells Leonnig:
Nobody wants to say it ... but the Secret Service has a culture problem. It's really a culture of managers failing to want to recognize a problem and deal with it. And it's also a culture of not wanting to report up bad news and circle the wagons instead.

I found Leonnig's research to be extensive and wide-ranging. She spoke to current and former agents and directors, as well as presidential aides who were often among the most strenuous objectors of proper (and thus, visible) protection of their bosses. She tracked down documentation of incidents that were either never made public or whose full accounting has never been reported, including close calls from attackers at the White House itself. She writes like the journalist she is, in clear, concise language mostly devoid of in-group jargon that would deter a general audience of readers from understanding the scope of the situation.

Leonnig ends the book with no hopeful suggestion that things are likely to change anytime soon.
Today, the Service remains spread dangerously thin. In addition to protecting a president and Vice President and their families, and key senior leaders, the Service also protects hundreds of foreign leaders who visit the United States every year, investigates a broad range of financial crimes, assesses and investigates violent threats ..., researches the traits of school shooters ..., helps local police track down missing and exploited children, and much more. ... The agency hasn't been given the money, staff, or tools to do all its jobs. This neglect creates an opening for a serious attack on our democracy.


I just don't know how to write a short review of a compelling nonfiction book. My hearty thanks (and amazement) to anyone who makes it to the end of this one!

230BLBera
aug 14, 2022, 8:22 pm

I'm definitely interested in the Festival of Books, Julia. Let's talk.

231rosalita
Redigerat: aug 15, 2022, 10:18 am

Look! A book sale!

I'm back with more temptations for my fellow ebook readers from University of Chicago Press:



You can thank me later. :-)

232rosalita
aug 15, 2022, 10:29 am

And a Daily Deal, too



I might have featured this one before in Daily Deals, but it's so good it's worth telling you about again. Montana 1948 is a little gem of a novel. As I said in the lead of my 2018 review:
This is a story of sibling rivalry, the malleability of the criminal justice system when it's applied to people of color, the internal struggles that we all experience when it feels like the only way to do the right thing is by doing the wrong thing. The spare prose and the slender size of the book make the complex depth of the characters all the more astonishing

The ebook is just $1.99 at all the usual e-tailers in the US: Kindle, Kobo, Nook, Apple Books, Google Books.

233rabbitprincess
aug 15, 2022, 4:31 pm

>231 rosalita: That sale looks pretty tempting for Jackie_K ;)

234Jackie_K
aug 15, 2022, 4:37 pm

>231 rosalita: I've already noted it, I'm on their mailing list - not sure if I dare click on the link though!

235rosalita
aug 15, 2022, 4:38 pm

>233 rabbitprincess: Welcome, fellow enabler! :-D

>234 Jackie_K: Do it! You know you wanna ...

236Jackie_K
aug 15, 2022, 4:40 pm

>235 rosalita: A tiny little peek won't hurt, will it?

237rosalita
aug 15, 2022, 4:52 pm

>236 Jackie_K: Not at all! Looking isn't buying.*

*until it is

238Jackie_K
aug 15, 2022, 4:55 pm

>237 rosalita: I've bookmarked 3 possibles. I've got till the end of the week to decide how strong I am.

239rosalita
aug 15, 2022, 5:09 pm

>238 Jackie_K: Now I feel like I need to hold up my end and actually click on the link myself. I may regret egging you on ... :)

240Jackie_K
aug 16, 2022, 6:00 am

>239 rosalita: no, you won't regret it at all (bwahaha!) 😁

241rosalita
aug 16, 2022, 10:31 am

>240 Jackie_K: I now have 7 books in my cart. I'm having a hard time talking myself out of any of them considering the total cost is less than $30 with the discount ...

242Jackie_K
Redigerat: aug 16, 2022, 11:51 am

>241 rosalita: IKR?!

The three I want have come to $19.75 (which a random google converter tells me is £16.33 today). I mean, it would be rude not to, wouldn't it?

243rosalita
aug 16, 2022, 12:08 pm

>242 Jackie_K: It really would — I mean, once you've put a book in your cart you don't want to make it feel bad by removing it, do you?

We will have to compare hauls once the sale is over.

244Jackie_K
aug 16, 2022, 12:54 pm

>243 rosalita: I caved. Well, I 2/3rds caved. I've bought 2 of the 3 - I tried buying the 3rd too, but it kept getting removed from my cart for "No Trade Rights!" (whatever that means). I've emailed them to ask what's what - I thought it must be a book which hasn't got rights in the UK, but it's being sold on the UK amazon site, so it's not that. Hmm. The audiobook is on kobo, so maybe I'll get it with one of my credits instead.

245Copperskye
aug 16, 2022, 3:50 pm

>204 rosalita: Congrats! The difference in hours read, June v July is amazing!

>227 rosalita: That’s quite a lineup! Are you planning on seeing anyone in particular?

246rosalita
aug 16, 2022, 4:35 pm

>244 Jackie_K: I hope UCP can resolve the issue with the book it wouldn't let you buy. I would have thought the same as you but if Amazon UK is selling it that can't be it. Maybe it's just a glitch, easily fixed. Meanwhile, I have whittled my cart down to "just" six books for less than $25. Almost ready to pull the trigger ...

>245 Copperskye: I'm most interested in Anthony Doerr, Elizabeth McCracken (I interviewed her during my previous life as a journalist and she was lovely to talk to) and Rebecca Solnit.

247Jackie_K
Redigerat: aug 16, 2022, 4:57 pm

>246 rosalita: To their credit, UoCP got back to me almost immediately and explained they don't have the UK rights for that particular book, so can't sell it to the UK. So we were on the right lines. Looks like the audiobook is in my future when I get my next credit.

Well done on the whittling, I feel your pain!

248rosalita
aug 16, 2022, 4:50 pm

>247 Jackie_K: Ah, so it must be a different publisher selling it on Amazon UK. I didn't think of that.

249Jackie_K
aug 16, 2022, 4:57 pm

>248 rosalita: No, I didn't either, but checked again and indeed it is a different publisher. Mystery solved!

250Copperskye
aug 16, 2022, 6:12 pm

>246 rosalita: I’d love to be able to join you! Sarah Kendzior, too, although what she has to say can be kind of scary. I read Hiding in Plain Sight a couple years ago.

251rosalita
Redigerat: aug 16, 2022, 7:11 pm

>250 Copperskye: i admire Sarah Kendzior's work so much, Joanne, but my anxiety levels are already sky-high and don't need ratcheted up any farther! Maybe someday when things are more clear ...

252Copperskye
aug 16, 2022, 6:58 pm

>251 rosalita: Hiding in Plain Sight was like reading a horror book, so I get that completely.

253rosalita
Redigerat: aug 19, 2022, 3:11 pm

Well, I've gone and done it. I took advantage of the big ebook sale at University of Chicago Press and nabbed six books. At 75% off, the total came to just under $25, which seems more than reasonable. Here's the damage:

          

Limited by Body Habitus by Jennifer Renee Blevins.
On Revision: The Only Writing That Counts by William Germano.
Around the World in 80 Words by Paul Anthony Jones.
The Country House Revisited by Tereza Topolovskà.
Fish and Chips: A History by Paniko Panayi.
Soda and Fizzy Drinks: A Global History by Judith Levin. ($4.99 ebook/University of Chicago Press)

I know some people might say, "But Julia, what's the point of joining a group that encourages you to Read Our Own Tomes when you have now bought more books than you've read this year?"

To which I say, "Hush."

254Copperskye
aug 19, 2022, 4:46 pm

Well, duh, you can’t READ your own books if you don’t BUY your own books.

That’s the rule I live by. The more books you own, the easier it is to read them.

255rosalita
aug 19, 2022, 4:51 pm

>254 Copperskye: You are a very wise woman, Joanne!

256rabbitprincess
aug 19, 2022, 5:32 pm

>253 rosalita: Can't wait to hear how On Revision is! I like the cover.

257katiekrug
aug 19, 2022, 5:46 pm

258lyzard
aug 19, 2022, 5:58 pm

>253 rosalita:

Others might say, "What's the point of bailing on the 75ers as too chatty when this is post #258?" :)

259rosalita
aug 19, 2022, 6:34 pm

>256 rabbitprincess: I love the cover and as a former newspaper reporter who dearly misses the joys of having a good editor (and having been a hopefully good editor myself in the final years of my journalism career) I'm really hoping to learn some useful techniques for improving my current writing.

260rosalita
aug 19, 2022, 6:35 pm

261rosalita
aug 19, 2022, 6:40 pm

>258 lyzard: Is it really?! Goodness. On the other hand it's only my second thread and it's August. Remind me how many threads you've had so far this year? :-P

I will also quietly mention that the quality of my visitors over here is higher than it was when I was in the 75ers. Fewer drive-by posts from people who ask questions and never come back to read the answer, or who post just to say they aren't going to read all the posts they missed (which is absolutely fine but please don't feel you need to tell me because there's nowhere to go from there). So thanks to all of you who take the trouble to leave the home place and make your way to the other side of town.

262BLBera
aug 19, 2022, 11:45 pm

Great book haul, Julia. What Joanne said.

This is a good part of town.

263Jackie_K
aug 20, 2022, 3:31 am

>253 rosalita: Well done, I'm proud of you! (that's what I was meant to say, right?)

Also, I hadn't spotted On Revision on my previous fateful trip to the sale site, and now I'm tempted.

264rosalita
aug 20, 2022, 7:52 am

>262 BLBera: Thanks, Beth! I'm very glad you're here!

265rosalita
aug 20, 2022, 7:53 am

>263 Jackie_K: That's exactly what you were supposed to say, Jackie, thank you!

And you should absolutely go back and pick up On Revision! How can you resist that cover?

266Jackie_K
aug 20, 2022, 8:16 am

>265 rosalita: I couldn't! (resist, that is).

267rosalita
aug 20, 2022, 8:39 am

>266 Jackie_K: Excellent work! I'm keeping an eye on your thread for a haul report ...

268rabbitprincess
aug 20, 2022, 8:40 am

>263 Jackie_K: I know eh? I didn't even GO to the website, and I'm tempted :D Although I will put it on my wishlist to buy in print.

269BLBera
aug 20, 2022, 11:11 am

I'm just glad I fit in with the better quality visitor!

270rosalita
aug 20, 2022, 11:23 am

>269 BLBera: Even in the old neighborhood you were a top-quality visitor!

271lyzard
Redigerat: aug 20, 2022, 5:33 pm

>261 rosalita:

Bad example: you know perfectly well that 80% of my threads is my lists, and me arguing with myself about my lists; I don't even get the fly-bys! :D

BTW I realised afterwards I should have responded to this in your comments re: The Barrakee Mystery, and am placing it under spoiler tags only because it's a bit out of the blue here:

"Abo" is derogatory now, but was grey area then: lazy speech bordering on casual slur.

272rosalita
Redigerat: aug 20, 2022, 6:44 pm

>271 lyzard: OK, I'll give you the lists point. Still high-quality conversation over there, in and around the exasperated posts about unavailable books. :-)

And thanks for the additional info re: Barrakee Mystery. I knew I hadn't seen it much in contemporary books written by and about Australians but I didn't know if it just fell out of favor or was actively frowned upon.

By the way, I've just gotten to the place where Bony shows up to investigate (he's as slow to the scene as dear Maudie) and things are moving along nicely. I have some terminology questions that I'll ask over on your thread.

And, just for you, I'm off to make a new thread now. :-D

273rosalita
aug 20, 2022, 6:22 pm

There's a new thread waiting for you, and all you have to do is click-click the link-link below. Easy-peasy lemon squeezy!

274lyzard
aug 21, 2022, 5:49 pm

>272 rosalita:

Excellent, keep 'em coming. :D

Aw, thank you...and aw, thank you!
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