Cindy/LibraryCin's 2023 Reads

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Cindy/LibraryCin's 2023 Reads

dec 31, 2022, 1:49 pm

My challenges are over on this thread:

I'm using this thread for planning and keeping track of my page total. (In addition to reviews, of course.)

Redigerat: jan 30, 9:56 pm

For January:

- Ivan the Remarkable / Kathleen A (KiddyCAT, AlphaKIT)
- Pride and Prejudice and Zombies / Seth Grahame-Smith (ScaredyKIT, AlphaKIT)
- Deal Breaker / Harlan Coben
(PBT 15th)
- Ruby Red / Kristin Gier (SeriesCAT)
- Sugarhouse / Matthew Batt (RandomKIT, AlphaKIT)
- Stuffed and Starved / Raj Patel
(PBT, AlphaKIT)
- The Big Skinny / Carol Lay (PBT)
- Don't Throw It Out / Lori Baird (PBT trim)
- The Boy / Betty Jane Hegerat (Subdue the Shelf)
- Neighbours to the Birds /
(Reading Thru Time)

- Halfbreed / Maria Campbell
- Horrorstor / G H (ScaredyKIT)
- Lethal White / Robert Galbraith

- A Death at the Party / Amy Stuart (Netgalley)
- The Other Family Doctor / Karen Fine (Netgalley)
- How I'll Kill You / Ren DeStefano (Netgalley)
- A Walk in the Dark / Pamela Kiami (Early Reviewers)

jan 2, 8:54 am

Happy Reading, Cindy, 🙂.

jan 2, 1:40 pm

>3 Sergeirocks: Thank you!

jan 3, 10:59 pm

1. Deal Breaker / Harlan Coben
4 stars
281 pages

Myron Bolitar is a sports agent, and he represents Christian Steele. Christian’s girlfriend disappeared over a year ago and was presumed dead, when Christian receives a phone call supposedly coming from her, so Christian calls Myron for help. It appears that her naked body is also now in an ad in a porn magazine with very low circulation, and this magazine has been sent to Christian and a few others. Myron also used to date Kathy’s sister, Jessica. More recently, Kathy and Jessica’s dad was murdered, but the police have chalked that up to a robbery and not related.

I had forgotten that I’d already read one other book in this series, although this is the first in the series (unusual for me to read out of order). I wasn’t sure I’d like it with all the references to sports, but I still did. And there were a lot of sports references. But the mystery and what happened to Kathy kept me interested. And even the sports negotiations and such were interesting (there was another story thread about another one of Myron’s clients, as well) – or more likely, what was happening around those negotiations was interesting. I liked Jessica and her relationship with Myron; not too sure about Myron’s friend, Win, though – he’s a bit scary! I’m still not convinced this series will be nearly as good as Coben’s standalones, but I will definitely continue this series to see where it goes.

Cumulative page total = 281

jan 4, 11:11 pm

2. Halfbreed / Maria Campbell
3 stars
184 pages

The author grew up in Saskatchewan; she is Metis (or “halfbreed” is the word she uses: part Cree (indigenous), and part European), descended from Gabriel Dumont. Her family was poor and she never really got out of the poverty, even as she married, had kids, moved to B.C. and Alberta, etc. She also ended up drinking, doing drugs… I think prostitution, too, but (unless I missed it), she only hinted at it.

I maybe made a mistake in listening to the audio. Maria herself read it, but she has a very monotone voice. I thought that I was still able to focus in the first half or so of the book, but I did miss things as the book continued, and I suspect I missed more earlier in the book than I originally thought.

Cumulative page total = 465

jan 7, 11:30 pm

3. Ivan: the Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla / Katherine Applegate
4 stars
38 pages

This is a picture book about Ivan, a gorilla poached as a baby and brought to the U.S. to live, first with a family until he was too big, then he lived for almost three decades in a mall by himself. From there, he was taken to a zoo to live the rest of his life with other gorillas in a more natural habitat.

I loved the YA book “The One and Only Ivan”. This is a really nice children’s story about the same gorilla with such a sad life. There are some really great illustrations. Despite it being so short and succinct (it’s a kid’s book, and no surprise, really), this one still had me crying a couple of times. There are a few pages at the end with a longer textual summary of Ivan’s life and a note from one of the zookeeper’s who took care of him in his last decade of life.

Cumulative page total = 503

jan 8, 12:00 am

4. Pride & Prejudice & Zombies / Seth Grahame-Smith, Jane Austen
3.25 stars
339 pages

I don’t think a summary is really needed for this one, but not only are the Bennett sisters looking for husbands with the help of their mother, but the girls in this book are also all trained (they’ve been to the Orient and have a dojo for further training) to fight zombies – those with the “plague”.

This was ok. It does surprise me that I rated the original so high, as on parodies such as this, the story itself seems so slow and not something I would usually like. I suppose I was in the right frame of mind when I first read it? Anyway, with the addition of the zombies, a couple of big fight scenes livened things up a bit! I was also amused with Charlotte’s illness. The zombies did seem quite out of place in the book. The notes at the end of the book were interesting and one did touch on how it might not have been so out of place to add zombies into the book with the popularity of gothic fiction at the time it was written. The other fun extra at the end was a list of “discussion” questions – now those were amusing!

Cumulative page total = 842

jan 8, 6:42 am

>5 LibraryCin: I love the Myron Bolitar series for the humour (can often make me laugh out loud). Win is a superb character as the series progresses and you get to know him and some great additional characters around them. To be honest the sports element is a very peripheral part and it is more about the mystery element. Hope you have a good 2023.

jan 8, 12:45 pm

>9 Andrew-theQM: Good to know about Win! I did find some things amusing, as well, but didn't mention it in the review.

jan 9, 11:00 pm

5. The Boy / Betty Jane Hegerat
4 stars
283 pages

This book is a combination fiction, memoir, and true crime. The author goes back and forth between telling her fictional story… which (in some ways) mimics the true crime portion of the story as she writes about her research into the crime. The chapters alternate between the fiction and the memoir.

The fictional story is set in the 90s, and is from the POV of a woman, Louise, marrying a man, Jake, who has a 12-year old son, Daniel. Louise is a teacher and knows that Daniel often gets into trouble, so she is concerned about how this will go as she becomes his stepmother. The true crime portion of the story is about a boy (Bobby Cook) in small town Alberta who, in his 20s, was convicted and hanged in 1960 for murdering his family: his father, stepmother, and five younger half-siblings. This was the last execution in Alberta.

It seems kind of an odd mix, but it worked really well for me. I liked that the character Louise would “talk” to the author, usually in between chapters, but occasionally in the memoir chapters, as well, as Louise and the author Betty figured out what the fictional Louise’s story would be and how similar it would be to Bobby Cook’s story. I liked both the fictional story, and I found the true crime portion of the story quite interesting, as well. Might have to look further into Robert Raymond Cook.

Cumulative page total = 1,125

jan 14, 10:43 pm

6. Stuffed and Starved / Raj Patel
3.5 stars
373 pages

The title of the book comes from the fact that as more and more people are becoming overweight, there is also a larger number of people who are starving. The author has done a lot of research for this book, looking at our increasingly corporate food system, where so much of every step of our food is produced and brought to our plates via businesses in it for the profit only. There is a lot of focus on the farmers (many commit suicide as it’s harder and harder to make a living) around the world. There are chapters on genetically-modified foods, on the supermarket, Mexico, Brazil, corn, soy, and much more.

The author has actually worked fro the WTO (World Trade Organization) and the World Bank, both are mentioned (generally, not in a good way) in this book. There is a lot to take in in this book. Mostly interesting stuff here. He does end with some suggestions to try to make things better, but the sad part is corporations that make a lot of money won’t go for it, and though you’d like to think governments will step up, over and over that doesn’t happen with money from those large corporations funding the politicians.

Cumulative page total = 1,498

jan 19, 10:26 pm

7. Lethal White / Robert Galbraith
4 stars
650 pages

Robin is just married and away when a man who is obviously having a psychotic episode comes in to Cormorant Strike’s office saying he saw a little kid murdered years ago when he himself was younger, but the man soon disappears. Meanwhile, a politician comes to Strike to help him find “dirt” on someone the politician says is blackmailing him.

I listened to the audio and thought it was really good. I did miss a couple of things near the beginning, I think, so I was briefly confused, but I got past that. And for the most part, I really liked it and wanted to know how this was going to play out (and how are these two stories connected?). Although I have to admit sometimes I find the personal stuff going on in these books to me just as interesting or more interesting that the mystery itself!

Cumulative page total = 2148

jan 21, 11:50 pm

8. Neighbors to the Birds / Felton Gibbons, Deborah Strom
3 stars
350 pages

There is more than a history of birdwatching here (as described in the subtitle). Much of the first part of the book includes biographical information about many naturalists and birdwatchers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Other chapters include artwork of birds (not on-the-wall art, but artwork in publications and field guides), women naturalists/birdwatchers, the Audobon “movement”, conservation, literature, and more.

This was ok. Although I do also like biographies and history, some of this was a bit dry and didn’t hold my attention. It was the biographical parts that were of less interest to me, though the rest was a bit more interesting. I quite enjoyed the art chapter with all the pictures included. Really, this book wasn’t so much about the birds themselves – a bit, but maybe more about the people who watched and/or studied them.

Cumulative page total = 2498

jan 22, 10:15 pm

9. Sugarhouse / Matthew Batt
3.5 stars
205 pages

Matthew Batt and his wife Jenae are in Salt Lake City and looking to buy a home. Unfortunately, they can’t afford what they really want, so they end up with a (huge!) fixer-upper. It is only after they are renovating they find out that the house used to be a crackhouse. Oh, and they aren’t particularly handy people, but do the bulk of the work themselves.

Interspersed with their house dilemmas, Matt’s grandmother passes away, so Matt and his mom have to help out Matt’s grandfather, a playboy who really just wants to be with Tonya, the home care nurse who took care of his wife when she was alive.

It maybe doesn’t sound like the more interesting part of the story, but I liked the renovating of the house portions of the story better. I’m actually not quite sure how the two stories fit together, except I suppose that the things that happened with Matt’s family really were happening at the time. There were plenty of humourous bits, maybe more humourous because super-non-handy me could relate. I’m sure they managed to do a heck of a lot more than I ever could have, even with help from friends! Overall, I liked it.

Cumulative page total = 2703

jan 26, 5:21 pm

10. Horrorstor / Grady Hendrix
3.75 stars
248 pages

Amy works at a big box furniture store called Orsk. Odd things have been happening in the store overnight – vandalism and such. Amy is asked, along with another employee, Ruth-Ann, to stay overnight to keep watch with their supervisor, Basil, to see if they can find out what’s happening. Things take a bad turn…

Extra ¼ star for the audio – loved the Orsk “ads”, and they got better as the book went along (to kind of fit what was happening in the book). I particularly liked the last ad, and it was Bronson Pinchot doing those. The story was less horror in the first half, more mystery? And humour. I really liked how it ended.

Cumulative page total = 2951

jan 26, 5:40 pm

11. By Book or By Crook / Eva Gates
4 stars
232 pages

Lucy has left her family and former fiancee behind in Boston, as well as her librarian job at Harvard. She is thrilled to be the new (assistant) librarian at a lighthouse library in a small town in North Carolina. But while at a party to open a Jane Austen exhibit when Lucy is just starting to meet people, the chair of the library board is murdered. He seemed to be arguing with a lot of people at the party, including Lucy (he didn’t think another librarian was needed) and the head librarian, who of course, had hired Lucy. Bertie, the head librarian, was found in the room with the murdered man and the murder weapon in her hands by Lucy. Lucy is convinced Bertie would never do such a thing.

I really enjoyed this. Loved the setting of the library inside the lighthouse. I also liked (most of) the characters. I will absolutely be continuing this cozy series. I want to see what happens with Lucy and Butch… or Lucy and Connor! And, of course, I loved Charles, the library cat.

Cumulative page total = 3183

Redigerat: mar 1, 10:44 pm

Plan for Feb:

- Rescued: Saving Animals... / Allan Anderson (Reading Through Time)
- The Sister Season / Jennifer Scott (AlphaKIT, Roundtuits)
- Ruby Red / Kirstin Gier (SeriesCAT)
- The Searcher / Tana French
- An Unwanted Guest / Shari Lapena (MysteryKIT)
- The Broken Girls / Simone St. James (ScaredyKIT)
- Dewey Decimal System of Love / Josephine Carr (PBT Candle, AlphaKIT)
- Chief Piapot / Vincent McKay (PBT Trim)
- Perfect Match / Jodi Picoult
- The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England / Ian Mortimer (PBT)

- Chomp / Carl Hiaasen (KiddyCAT)
- All Things Wise and Wonderful / James Herriott (Read Thru Time, PBT, AlphaKIT)
- Alcatraz vs the Scrivener's Bones / Brandon Sanderson (KiddyCAT, RandomKIT)
- Mambo in Chinatown / Jean Kwok
(AlphaKIT, Roundtuits)

- Last Winter / Carrie Mac (Netgalley)
- A Death at the Party / Amy Stuart (Netgalley)
- The Other Family Doctor / Karen Fine
(Netgalley, AlphaKIT)
- How I'll Kill You / Ren DeStefano (Netgalley)
- A Walk in the Dark / Pamela Kiami (Early Reviewers)
- Wolvercraft Manor / Cas E. Crowe (ER)

jan 28, 12:34 pm

>18 LibraryCin: I love the Herriot books. When I was 6th grade or so my mother's friend loaned me the books cause she knew I loved to read. I am loving the re-making of the original TV series!

jan 28, 3:32 pm

>19 JulieLill: I have never seen the tv series. I only heard about the book a few years back when I started reading them. :-)

Redigerat: jan 28, 11:26 pm

12. White Chrysanthemum / Mary Lynn Bracht
4 stars
261 pages

It is during WWII, and 16-year old Hana is a haenyeo with her mother in he water on Jeju Island in Korea when she is stolen from the beach in an effort to protect her younger sister from the soldier Hana spotted. She is taken with other young girls to a brothel in Manchuria to “service” the soldiers (these girls/women are later known as “comfort women”). In 2011, an older woman, Emi, is still haenyeo, but has two middle-aged children in Seoul. Emi has kept plenty of secrets from her children about her life when she was younger.

I was not prepared for the amount of violence and rape. I must have known that would be the case when I added it to my tbr, but often, between the time of adding a book to my tbr and actually reading it, I forget what the book is about. I only remembered it being about haenyeo (women divers in Korea). That being said, although I learned about haenyeo in Lisa See’s book, I didn’t know about “comfort women”; the two books have a different focus.

I often like one storyline more than the other in these dual timeline books, but although Hana’s story is the more jarring and powerful of the two (I often “like” those better), I think Emi’s story gave me a bit of a break from Hana’s abuse. Oddly, although I often don’t like unrealistic endings, this one didn’t bother me (and the author explains in her note why she ended it this way). Overall, I thought this was very good.

Cumulative page total = 3444

jan 30, 9:55 pm

13. Don't Throw It Out: Recycle, Renew, and Reuse to Make Things Last / Lori Baird
3 stars
370 pages

The title of the book kind of says it all. It’s more of a reference book to check when you have something you might need to fix or if it’s time to get rid of, you can look up some alternate ways to use those things.

There are lots of suggestions in the book, some of which I already know about or do. Many, though, (especially the fixes, but even some of the maintenance to help things last longer) require someone handier than I. I am not handy at all. That being said, I do plan to hold on to the book so I can check if there is something I might be able to do with something when it’s time to get rid of it. I already try to use most things until they die.

Cumulative page total = 3814

jan 31, 11:36 pm

14. Chomp / Carl Hiaasen
4 stars
304 pages

Mickey and his son Wahoo take care of animals that are used on screen. When reality survival star Derek Badger wants to hire their alligator, Alice, to “wrestle” with for his tv show, Mickey is not impressed with Derek. Even “better” is when Derek decides he wants to really head to the wild in the Everglades to do some filming. Wahoo’s friend, Tuna, who is running from her abusive father, comes along with them.

Ah, plenty of humour here, but also frustration with the idiot Derek! (And how he treats the animals… I was right there with Mickey with regard to the annoyance/frustration on that!) Enjoyed the read about how scripted reality shows can be, too. I would actually love to read about these characters again – Mickey and Wahoo, anyway. I really liked them (and how they are with the animals). I listened to the audio narrated by James Van Der Beek, and it was done very well.

Cumulative page total = 4118

feb 2, 11:48 pm

15. Last Winter / Carrie Mac
3.5 stars
400 pages

Early in the book, we learn that 5 children died in an avalanche. One adult also died. 8-year old Ruby was one of 2 children who made it out alive, along with one other adult.

Leading up to the avalanche, we follow Ruby, her mother Fiona, who has a mental illness, and Ruby’s father Gus, who is a former Olympic snowboarder and now runs a backcountry guiding company and was one of the adults on the trip when the avalanche happened. Fiona and Gus’s relationship is in bad shape and they fight a lot. Fiona often does not take her medication, so is quite shocking in some of the things she says and does with friends.

It took me a long time to get “into” the book. It was hard to follow for the first 1/3 to ½ of the book, as there were a lot of characters I had trouble keeping straight (who was who, and how are they “related”?). There were also a couple of shifts in time that I struggled with. Fiona was extremely unlikable; I guess I should try to have more sympathy, but it’s hard when she won’t take her mediation. But, the book really picked up in the second half as the avalanche hit, along with the aftermath.

Cumulative page total = 4518

feb 5, 5:31 pm

16. Perfect Match / Jodi Picoult
3.75 stars
366 pages

Nina is a lawyer, a prosecutor who usually takes on child sexual abuse cases. She is horrified (this happens very early in the book, so not a spoiler) when her 5-year old son, Nathanial, stops talking and she learns that he was molested. She knows how traumatic it is for kids to have to testify to put their molester away and if they are convicted, they aren’t in jail for nearly long enough.

This drew me in right away with the intro/set up, but I didn’t like the ending (I took ¼ star off for the end). I didn’t like many of the things Nina did/didn’t agree with her logic for some of it; I did, for the most part, agree with her husband Caleb and how he saw things. I learned something new about DNA that I found that very interesting. There were a few twists, and I did figure a couple of them out ahead of time (but not all).

Cumulative page total = 4884

feb 6, 11:01 pm

17. Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones / Brandon Sanderson
2.5 stars
322 pages

Listened to the audio of this one and really couldn’t tell you the plot of the story. All I know is that Alcatraz (and a cousin(?), Bastille) ended up at the Library of Alexandria, where the curators (skeleton(?) librarians) require the signing over of a soul in order to check out a book. I think they were looking for Alcatraz’s mother (or father or maybe Bastille’s mother?). Not too sure.

Ok, so it’s been a long time since I read the first in the series, but I gave it 4.5 stars! This one is only rated as high as it is for the humourous bits when Alcatraz was talking directly to the reader (not usually to do with the story, itself), and the stuff about the “evil” librarians (I am a librarian, so I did find that very entertaining!). Listening to the audio, though, those were the only parts where I was interested enough to pay attention. I have found that many (most?) adventure does not translate well for me on audio. No idea what the story actually was about. Not sure if I want to continue. I probably should give the next one a chance, but not on audio (let’s hope I remember that!).

Cumulative page total = 5206

feb 11, 11:20 pm

18. The Searcher / Tana French
3.5 stars
452 pages

Cal is a retired police officer from Chicago who has moved to a small town in Ireland. He has a fixer-upper of a house, but is disturbed by someone creeping around the house. It’s not long before he finds out it’s a local 13-year old, Trey. Trey is not terribly trusting, but on finding out Cal was a cop, he asks Cal to look for his missing older (19-year old) brother, Brandon, who disappeared after simply walking away about 6 months previous. Brandon, who was so close to Trey, and Trey doesn’t believe Brandon would have left on purpose without saying anything.

This was a good story, and I liked the setting and some of the supporting characters, but it did move quite slowly. So, this was not as good as her other books, in my opinion. That being said, I liked the characters enough that I would be happy to read a sequel if there is ever one published.

Cumulative page total = 5658

feb 12, 10:52 pm

19. The Broken Girls / Simone St. James
4.25 stars
293 pages

At Idlewild Hall, a boarding school in Vermont in 1950, a girl is returning (early) from a visit with family off-campus. It’s night, and no one was expecting her back early. As she walks across the schoolyard, something catches her eye. Scared, she starts running, but she never makes it back.

In 2014, Fiona is a reporter with bad memories of that school from 1994 (though the school closed in 1979) – Fiona’s sister was murdered and her body found in the schoolyard. Although, the guy was caught, convicted and is in jail, Fiona just can’t get past this. When she learns that someone has bought the school and wants to refurbish it and reopen it, she gets permission to do a story on it. Her investigations lead her to not only discover what happened in 1950, it puts her in danger as she also learns more about her sister’s murder.

This was really good! The 1950 portions of the story are told from four different points of view – four friends/roommates at Idlewild Hall. In these portions, we learn the backstories for each of the girls, plus we follow them for a month or two leading up to the disappearance of the one returning from her off-campus visit. There is creepiness all around the school. Although Fiona’s story doesn’t initially sound as interesting as the girls in 1950, I really liked both timelines and thought it all came together really nicely at the end.

Cumulative page total = 5951

feb 13, 5:38 pm

>28 LibraryCin: Loved this book.

feb 15, 10:39 pm

20. Mambo in Chinatown / Jean Kwok
4 stars
384 pages

Charlie lives in Chinatown in New York City with her father and sister, Lisa. Her mother (formerly a dancer) died when Charlie was younger. Charlie is 22-years old and Lisa is much younger (middle school/junior high?).

Charlie hates her job dishwashing, and has never been good as a receptionist, but she is able to get a new job as a receptionist at a ballroom dance studio. She is still not good at it, but when the studio is very short of teachers, she steps in to find herself a really good teacher (though she is barely a step ahead of the students when it comes to the dancing!).

Meanwhile, Lisa’s health is taking a turn for the worse. They aren’t sure what’s wrong, but their father refuses to have anything to do with Western medicine and will only have Lisa treated by their uncle, who practices Chinese medicine.

I really enjoyed this! I listened to the audio and it (fairly easily) held my interest. I definitely got frustrated with Charlie’s dad. I really liked Ryan, one of Charlie’s students, and Nina, another dance teacher at the studio, who became friends with Charlie. I thought the author did a good job with the ballroom stuff (turns out she has done ballroom professionally), as (though it’s been a number of years), I took lessons off and on for 15 years myself.

Cumulative page total = 6335

feb 16, 10:31 pm

21. Rescued: Saving Animals from Disaster / Allen & Linda Anderson
3.5 stars
358 pages

This book looks at the volunteers and organizations that went to help the animals left behind when people evacuated New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It also looks at disaster planning for animals (which was pretty much nonexistent at the time), and how that could change going forward.

I had it in my head that this would look at more than just the one disaster, but I guess there was enough for the book with just Katrina and aftermath. It was chaos. It was hard to understand why some people were turned away due to not being “trained” (so some volunteers went “rogue”), but later in the book they explained why that would be the case. And untrained people can help elsewhere (as opposed to going door to door in a boat to pull animals out of the houses). Not surprisingly, the stories of specific people and their pets were the most interesting here. Overall, it was good.

Cumulative page total = 6693

feb 20, 3:03 pm

22. To Hold the Crown / Jean Plaidy
3.5 stars
376 pages

The Wars of the Roses is over, with Elizabeth (House of York) having married Henry VII (House of Lancaster) to join the two warring houses for the crown of England. This book starts when Elizabeth is pregnant with her first child (Arthur) and ends with Henry’s death. It follows the births of all their children; the two “pretenders” to the crown pretending to be Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville’s missing princes from the tower – the “rightful” heirs; Katherine of Aragon’s marriage to Arthur and subsequent betrothal to the soon-to-be Henry VIII. Henry VII was always concerned about someone coming along to claim the throne.

It was good, but – especially at first – I found it a bit hard to follow as it followed many different viewpoints of many different characters and transitioned without any indication of a transition! I think it got a bit easier once we were following Henry VIII and his generation, as I know the people and characters better, so I could figure it out. The story moved forward very quickly, as years would pass with only a sentence or two (or nothing, and it’s a few years later).

Cumulative page total = 7069

feb 22, 10:48 pm

23. The Barren Grounds / David A. Robertson
2.25 stars
256 pages

Morgan and Eli are indigenous kids, foster kids in a white home. Morgan is a sulky teenager, always in a bad mood, and Eli is younger. When they hide in the attic one day, Eli has a drawing he puts up on the wall that comes to life and pulls them through to another world of talking animals and learning of their indigenous culture.

Fantasy, talking animals – definitely not my thing. At first, I really did not like Morgan (sulky, complaining teenagers), but I would have been happier with a story in the real world. I listened to the audio and tuned out much of the other world stuff. I had a gist of some of what was going on, but it just wasn’t that interesting to me. And… talking animals. No.

Cumulative page total = 7325

Redigerat: feb 22, 11:10 pm

24. The Other Family Doctor / Karen Fine
4.5 stars
244 pages

Karen Fine is a veterinarian and this is a memoir that includes her grandfather (human) doctor in South Africa, vet school, her marriage, and the lives and deaths of a few of her pets, in addition to a few stories of clients, as well as connecting with (human) clients, alternate medicines, behind-the-scenes being a vet, and more.

I really liked this. This was so much more than your usual vet stories of clients and their pets, and I especially liked that about this book. Of course, her pets dying had me sobbing, but that’s not a surprise.

Cumulative page total = 7569

feb 25, 8:58 pm

>31 LibraryCin: I either read this book or another one about the Katrina disaster maybe a decade ago, though I don't think I ever reviewed it. I was (and still am) so heartbroken about the animals separated from their humans during that time.

It seems like rescuing pets are part of disaster rescues now, in part because of Katrina. Thanks for your review.

feb 25, 10:15 pm

25. Ruby Red / Kerstin Gier
4 stars
324 pages

Gwyneth and Charlotte are cousins, born only 1 day apart. Based on their genes and Charlotte’s date of birth, Charlotte is expected, and has been training all her life, to be the family’s next time traveller. So, it’s a surprise when Gwyneth is suddenly transported to another time!

I really liked this. Although I didn’t initially like Gwyneth’s time travel partner, Gideon, he grew on me. It did bother me some, though, that no one seemed to think they needed to now train Gwyneth on those things Charlotte had been learning. I realize that it would not be nearly as much training, since the time travel is now already happening with Gwyneth, but it sure would have been some help, I would think!. The book also didn’t quite end. I believe it is a trilogy (it is definitely continued), so although I often leave a gap between books in a series, I’d like to try to get to the next one before too much time passes.

Cumulative total = 7893

feb 26, 2:39 pm

26. Dewey Decimal System of Love / Josephine Carr
3 stars
260 pages

Ally is a librarian at the Free Library of Philadelphia. When she attends a symphony, she immediately falls in “love” with the conductor, whom she has never met, and not only that, he is married. She manages to get a volunteer position with the orchestra, so is able to see him more often. Meanwhile, his wife comes in to the library doing research to write a book.

Ally fit all kinds of librarian stereotypes, and initially I found it funny (I’m a librarian, too, and I fit some of those same stereotypes), but she just went way over the top. I also wasn’t crazy about the ending (although, I suppose, better than the alternative?). Overall, I’m rating it ok for the few parts I enjoyed.

Cumulative page total = 8153

Redigerat: mar 30, 10:56 pm

Plan for March:

- Beyond the Burning Time / Kathryn Lasky (KiddyCAT)
- Red Lily / Nora Roberts (MysteryKIT)
- The Other People / C.J. Tudor (MysteryKIT)
- Game / Barry Lyga (SeriesCAT, AlphaKIT)
- Ashen Winter / Mike Mullen (SeriesCAT, AlphaKIT)
- Garbage Man / Joseph D'Lacey
- Chills / Mary SanGiovanni (ScaredyKIT)
- The Johnstown Flood / David McCullough (RandomKIT)
- The Borden Murders / Sarah Miller (Reading Through Time)
- The Courts of Love / Jean Plaidy (PBT Candle, PBT Trim)
- The Wagoner / C. A. Simonsen (Subdue the Shelf)
- The Rape of Nanking / Iris Chang

(con't) - All Things Wise and Wonderful / James Herriott (Read Thru Time (Feb))
- The Fountainhead / Ayn Rand (Apr book club, AlphaKIT)
- Curse of the Blue Tattoo / L.A. Meyer (KiddyCAT, SeriesCAT)

- How I'll Kill You / Ren DeStefano (Netgalley)
- A Walk in the Dark / Pamela Kiami (Early Reviewers)
- Homecoming / Kate Morton (Netgalley)
- Wolvercraft Manor / Cas E. Crowe (ER)

feb 27, 11:03 pm

27. A Death at the Party / Amy Stuart
4.5 stars
218 pages

In the first chapter, we learn that the hostess of our party has killed someone (but we don’t know who!) in the basement as the party happens upstairs. We then back up to the start of the day and progress until we find out what happened and who died and why. Nadine is our hostess, married, with two teenage kids. Nadine’s mother (Marilyn) is a famous author and it’s her 60th birthday.

Nadine insists on hosting a party for her, although Marilyn isn’t that excited about parties, and not only that, Nadine’s aunt/Marilyn’s younger sister (Colleen) was found dead at her mother’s 30th birthday party (Colleen was only 15 at the time – there was a 15 year difference between the sisters and Nadine was closer in age to Colleen than Marilyn was). Throughout the story, we not only lead up to the birthday party, we flashback in time to learn about Nadine and Colleen’s relationship and what happened 30 years ago.

I really liked this! I was pulled in right away and wanted to keep reading (and mostly did – I finished the bulk of the story in one (weekend) day!). It was hard to know if Nadine herself was reliable, though. She had had an accident previously, and though primarily it was her hip that was injured, she had head injuries, as well, that she was still recovering from. There was one twist that I feel like I should have seen coming, but I just didn’t. (But it’s always more fun NOT to figure it out first, anyway!)

Cumulative page total = 8371

mar 1, 10:43 pm

28. Chief Piapot: I Will Stop the Train / Vincent McKay
3.5 stars
295 pages

In the late 19th century, Chief Piapot lived, mostly in Southern Saskatchewan (or what became such), through the coming of guns, the extinction of the buffalo, white man coming to take the land, the NWMP (North-West Mounted Police) coming, and the train coming to the West. He liaised between the Assiniboine, Cree, Sioux, and Blackfoot peoples. He knew a few languages (including French and English) and negotiated with the Canadian government for the treaties.

I grew up in Southern Saskatchewan, so I recognized names of places that had been named after some of the people (including a town called Piapot), and I recognized names of people who were historically in the area (Sitting Bull probably being the most well-known, and Gabriel Dumont made a few appearances). It appears the author did a lot of good research and seems to have portrayed him well. I have to say the end was pretty exciting, when Piapot really did stop the train!

Cumulative page total = 8666

mar 2, 7:11 am

>28 LibraryCin: Finding familar places in a book is almost as good as going home. Sounds like an interesting place.

mar 2, 9:06 pm

>41 Carol420: I love it! Oddly enough (and the books were chosen for two different reasons), the book I'm reading now is also historical fiction set in the same area (and time)!

mar 4, 11:17 pm

29. The Wagoner / C.A. Simonsen
3.25 stars
283 pages

It’s the late 19th century. Ott has lost his grandfather and he had promised to take his body to rest with his grandmother somewhere in the Plains of the U.S. He takes his old mule, Sir Lucien, who has to pull the wagon with the coffin and they set out from (what would later become) Southern Saskatchewan to likely somewhere in South Dakota to deliver his grandfather. He bumbles his way along and meets many characters on the way there and back, including picking up a dog.

To be honest, I was bored through the first third or so of the book. For some reason, the way to drop off his grandfather just didn’t peak my interest at all. But it picked up and got better for me as the book continued on, when Ott first ended up at a brothel as he turned around to head home.

From there, he continued on and met up with various Indigenous peoples, Metis, a thief, a runaway slave from Louisiana (though technically free, her master didn’t seem to agree), and more. And it was harsh, travelling back on foot and by mule (by the way home, his wagon had disintegrated). I think his concern for his animals helped pull me in, eventually, too. It’s another book where (being originally from Southern Saskatchewan), I did recognize some place and people names, which is always kind of fun.

Cumulative page total = 8949

mar 5, 10:48 pm

30. The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century / Sarah Miller
3.5 stars
230 pages

Lizzie Borden was 32-years old when her father and stepmother were murdered with an axe while she was home. Their servant Bridget was also home at the time. Rhymes indicate that Lizzie murdered them both, but she was acquitted of the murders. This book takes us through what little was known of Lizzie pre-murders, the day of the murders, and the trials (and all other steps leading up to the trial: indictment, preliminary hearing, etc).

I have never before read anything about Lizzie Borden and had assumed she had murdered those whom she was accused of murdering (not even sure I could have told you it was her parents). This book, I believe, is geared to a YA audience, though I didn’t think it really read that way. The author did a lot of research on this and tried to present both sides. It turns out nothing Lizzie said (it was pretty much all contradictory) during the indictment was included at the trial, nor was key testimony of one witness. Even if they had been included, I’m not convinced it would have been enough to convict her. That being said, I’m not sure how anyone else could have done it. But, I’ve only read this one book.

There were some photos included at the end and a bibliography and notes. I was quite shocked at the look of the skulls (quite bashed in!) of Mr. and Mrs. Borden. And who knew there was (is?) a “Lizzie Borden Quarterly” journal!? I thought this was a good place to start to read about Lizzie and I am likely to find and read more.

Cumulative page total = 9179

mar 7, 10:40 pm

31. All Things Wise and Wonderful / James Harriot
3.5 stars
440 pages

In this book, veterinarian James Herriot is training for the RAF (Royal Air Force) during WWII. So, this one includes stories of that training, alongside stories of treating animals (pets and farm animals) and the lives of some of the humans to whom those animals belonged.

I listened to the audio, and there were times my mind wandered, probably more often during the RAF training anecdotes (though not all of them). The narrator did a very good job with voices and accents. I’m rating it good, but am debating if I should continue on. It looks like there are only two books left, so I likely will.

Cumulative page total = 9619

mar 8, 1:19 pm

>31 LibraryCin: Love these books.

Redigerat: mar 11, 3:15 pm

32. Garbage Man / Joseph D'Lacey
3.5 stars
221 pages

There is something going on at the town’s landfill. Something big. And Mason manages to egg things on in a very bad way. (Hard to do a good summary without giving too much away!)

It took a while for this to get going, and in fact, I wasn’t sure where it was headed originally. But it got much better for the last 2/3ish of the book and I was more invested once things really started happening. There were two couples, though, that I kept getting confused. Eventually, I (mostly) figured out the characters, but even toward the end, I often had to stop to figure out who was who, and which couple they were a part of. Once it picked up, it was good.

Cumulative page total = 9840

mar 12, 11:21 pm

33. The Rape of Nanking / Iris Chang
3.5 stars
271 pages

Nanking, China was attacked by Japan in December 1937 during the Sino-Japanese War. The Chinese military had abandoned the city and the Japanese military took advantage and tortured, raped, and murdered hundreds of thousands of civilians. There has not (at least as of the publication date… I haven’t yet followed up) been any apology or reparations for the war crimes from Japan. In fact, Japan has spent decades trying to hide this part of their shameful history.

I really knew nothing about this beyond having heard of it. The lead-up to the main part of the story didn’t catch my interest – this was the history leading up to Nanking being taken over by the Japanese. The things that happened were incredibly awful, but the author also followed up with chapters on Westerners who tried to help with a “safe zone” in the middle of the city (one of those Westerners was actually a Nazi), then chapters on how the Chinese people fared after and how the Japanese tried to hide what had happened (despite it having been on the news around the world, even at the time).

I read the ebook and there was mention of photos in the notes, but my ebook edition did not have any photos. My edition was published in 2011 (originally, this was published in 1997), and had an afterword by the author’s husband; the author herself committed suicide at the age of 36, and her husband addressed this in the afterword.

Cumulative page total = 10,111

mar 13, 10:59 pm

34. Talking to Strangers / Malcolm Gladwell
3.75 stars
388 pages

In this one, Gladwell looks at how we communicate (or not) with people we don’t know. Or really, how well (or not) that communication is. Generally, people assume other people are telling the truth. But what if they aren’t? Drinking changes communication and how we read (or don’t) other people. Police interactions. Spies. Crime and safety. And more. Of course, there are studies that show us some surprising results.

So he actually started off with what was the least interesting to me of all the stories – the spies. But the rest of the stories were of much more interest to me. I listened to the audio and he did it (so he said – I don’t really listen to podcasts) similar to a podcast where he used recordings of the people themselves talking or he used actors to reenact what someone said. Although some of the recordings were sometimes hard to hear, I quite enjoyed it done that way. So an extra ¼ star for the audio.

Cumulative page total = 10,499

mar 14, 11:25 pm

35. The Road / Cormac McCarthy
4 stars
114 pages

A man and a boy are travelling along a road. They are trying to avoid other people, while trying to stay alive. It turns out something has happened and most of the human population has been wiped out. The man and boy are trying to reach the coast, while trying to survive.

This was surprisingly good. It’s an award-winner (usually a bad sign for me), and I didn’t like the other book I’ve read by this author. I found it interesting that neither of the characters had a name. It was slow-moving, and often not much happened (though there were a few things that happened along the way that got the blood pumping!), but I really liked it.

Cumulative page total = 10,613

mar 19, 4:54 pm

36. Game / Barry Lyga
4 stars
387 pages

This is the second book in this YA series. Jasper (Jazz) is the 17-year old son of a sociopathic serial killer. He was raised by his father (and grandmother) after his mother disappeared, and he is very worried that his father’s sociopathic killer genes may have passed down to him (in addition to all the indoctrination and “training” his father gave him in hopes that Jazz will follow in his footsteps).

In this book, Jazz’s father, Billy, has escaped from prison. But the killings in New York City (Jazz lives in a small town elsewhere) started before that escape. So imagine Jazz’s surprise when a NYC detective finds Jazz, hoping for some help getting into Billy’s head in order to help solve these more recent murders in NYC. Meanwhile, Jazz’s girlfriend, Connie, insists on coming to NYC, as well. And Jazz’s best friend, Howie is staying home to help watch out for Jazz’s (crazy) grandmother, along with Jazz’s aunt (who hasn’t been “home” in years).

This was really good, but I still have a hard time believing so many police officers/detectives (this was similar in the first book) want to rely on a teenager for help solving the crimes. Setting that aside, though, the premise of the murders was really clever, I thought: the “game”. Unfortunately, the book ended on a bit of a cliffhanger for each of our teenage characters. I believe there is one more book to the series, in addition to a few prequels that I haven’t yet read.

Cumulative page total = 11,000

mar 22, 11:20 pm

37. How I'll Kill You / Ren DeStefano
5 stars
279 pages

Sissy is one of three triplets; they were abandoned as babies and brought up in various foster homes (mostly separated). As adults they are serial killers. Moody and Iris have each killed three men, and Sissy is the clean-up person, and it’s finally her turn. They pick out a man, get him to fall in love with them, then murder him. (One of them usually works “alone” while the others mostly hide away, just making sure one of the others is out and about somewhere noticeable as an alibi at the time the other is doing the killing.) And make a nice clean getaway. That’s how it works. But Sissy makes the mistake of really falling in love.

Wow! None of these women is particularly likeable, though I suppose Sissy is the most of the three (I guess, given what they do, that’s not a surprise). Not only did Sissy fall in love with Edison, she even made friends (really became friends; something the sisters also tend to avoid beyond how the “friend” can be of help to them getting away with what are doing) with the neighbour. I was really not sure how this book was going to end and it really surprised me, but I thought it was done really well.

Cumulative page total = 11,279

mar 22, 11:41 pm

38. Curse of the Blue Tattoo / L. A. Meyer
4 stars
499 pages

(Book 2 of the series.) It’s 1803 in Boston. Jacky is off her ship since they found out she’s a girl and is at a boarding school (I missed where the money came from to pay for it). The school is meant to teach this orphan and former homeless waif and sometimes thief to be a “lady”. Of course, she really doesn’t fit in and she learns how mean some girls can be. However, she still manages to make a friend in outcast Amy. Jacky misses beau Jaimy and writes plenty of letters, hoping to catch him on whatever ship he is now on. And she tries to stay out of the way of the Reverend(?) Mather.

I listened to the audio and really liked this! The narrator is very good, with Jacky’s cockney accent and any other accents thrown her way. Jacky’s fun, but can go a little too far, sometimes, for sure. But a very enjoyable book and enjoyable series.

Cumulative page total = 11,778

mar 28, 10:29 pm

39. The Courts of Love / Jean Plaidy
3.5 stars
567 pages

Eleanor of Aquitaine was next in line to the throne in Aquitaine and married Louis, the next King of France in the 12th century. Louis never wanted to be king (he was second-born and wanted to become a monk), but when his older brother died, Louis was next. He really wasn’t interested in marriage, though, nor creating a heir, to Eleanor’s chagrin. Eleanor had been brought up in a court of “love” with music and dancing and fun and laughter and missed it. And did not enjoy not being close to her husband.

She and Louis did have two daughters, but Eleanor was eventually able to get a divorce and she married Henry, the next King of England. They were madly in love, but Eleanor hadn’t realized (initially) that Henry continued to have affairs after they married, and she was not happy when she discovered this. Despite that, they had a number of children. As they grew apart, Henry eventually imprisoned Eleanor for a number of years. In the end, Eleanor outlived most of her children.

This was good. It was long, but Eleanor lived a long life. I have read one or two books about her, but it’s been a while, and I don’t recall the stories of Thomas a Becket and Richard the Lionheart, which Plaidy included in her book here. (Becket was a friend of Henry’s and Richard was Eleanor and Henry’s son.) They were likely there, but maybe I just didn’t know who they were when I read about them originally, so the stories didn’t “stick” in my memory. Plaidy is very detailed with her history, and that is to be commended, but it doesn’t always make for the most interesting fiction. Even so, overall, I liked it.

Cumulative page total = 12,345

mar 30, 10:55 pm

40. Ashen Winter / Mike Mullin
4 stars
366 pages

Possible spoilers for book 1 in the series: 16-year old Alex and Darla have been living with Alex’s uncle and his family (and Alex’s sister) for a while now, after he found them after the volcano left the MidWest covered in ash and in seemingly perpetual winter. But, where are Alex’s parents? Despite the dangers, Alex insists on heading out to find his parents, and Darla won’t let him go alone. And it is dangerous with people out there hunting other people (to eat, to sell…).

I really liked this. It got going quickly, and kept up the pace throughout. I liked the two new characters, Alyssa and Ben.

Cumulative page total = 12,711

Redigerat: apr 28, 11:26 pm

In May:

- Blue Lightning / Ann Cleeves (MysteryKIT)
- Dead Run / Dean Schultz (AlphaKIT)
- Famine / Graham Masterson (ScaredyKIT)
- The Judge's List / John Grisham (RandomKIT, SeriesCAT)
- Down the Mysterly River / Bill Willingham (KiddyCAT, AlphaKIT)
- The Forgotten Sisters / Shannon Hale (KiddyCAT, PBT)
- The Son of a Certain Woman / Wayne Johnston (PBT Trim, AlphaKIT)
- The Secret Wife of King George VI / Diane Haeger
- King's Fool / Margaret Campbell Barnes (Reading Through Time)

- The Other People / C.J. Tudor (March MysteryKIT)
- The Johnstown Flood / David McCullough
(March RandomKIT)

(con't) - The Fountainhead / Ayn Rand (book club)
- Daisy Jones and the Six / Taylor Jenkins Reid
(PBT Candle, AlphaKIT)
- Klara and the Sun / Kazuo Ishiguro (PBT Candle) - if it comes in at the library

- Homecoming / Kate Morton (Netgalley)
- A Walk in the Dark / Pamela Kiami (Early Reviewers, AlphaKIT)
- Wolvercraft Manor / Cas E. Crowe (ER, AlphaKIT)
- The Quiet Tenant / Clemence Michallon (NG?)
- The Garden of Evil / Genoviva Ortiz (ER)

apr 2, 10:14 pm

41. The Other People / C.J. Tudor
4 stars
400 pages

Gabe is driving home to his wife and daughter when, in the truck just ahead with offensive bumper stickers in the window, the driver driving badly, up pops the head of a little blonde girl in the back – Gabe’s daughter Izzy! How is that possible? Gabe chases for a few minutes, but the truck gets away and when Gabe calls home, a police officer picks up.

Three years later, and Gabe hasn’t stopped looking for Izzy, though the police are convinced Izzy is dead. Katie is a waitress where Gabe often comes in, so they recognize each other, and Katie has held onto a missing flyer passed on to her by Gabe. Fran and little girl Alice are running from something. All three storylines do gradually come together with, of course, a few twists and turns along the way.

I really liked this. The beginning pulled me in right away and I wanted to know what happened. Gabe himself has some secrets we learn about along the way, as well. A really enjoyable book (for me) in what is my current favourite genre.

Cumulative page total = 13,111

apr 4, 11:08 pm

42. The Johnstown Flood / David McCullough
2.5 stars
305 pages

In 1889, Johnstown, Pennsylvania’s dam broke and the town was flooded. The town had flooded many times before, but it was nothing like this. Over 2000 people lost their lives. Turns out the dam wasn’t maintained nor repaired properly.

Sounds like an interesting story, but it just couldn’t keep my attention. Much of the book was just not that interesting to me, especially before the flood hit and after. The flood itself and people’s stories of what happened during was a bit better, but not great. I have read one other book by this author and it seems I was underwhelmed reading it, too; that one, I listened to and wasn’t sure if it was the writing or the topic, but I’m thinking it’s the author’s writing style that just isn’t for me. There were photos included, and I have to say those were pretty impressive, pretty scary. The photo that might stick with me is one of all the debris smashed up against a bridge.

Cumulative page total = 13,416

apr 10, 5:01 pm

43. The Forgotten Sisters / Shannon Hale
3.5 stars
190 pages

In this, the 3rd (and final) book in the Princess Academy series, Miri is about to head home to the mountain with her boyfriend Peder, but she is called back to see the King and Queen at the last minute. They have “asked” her to travel to a swampy area in the kingdom where the king’s three girl cousins live; she is requested to be a tutor to train them to become princesses. The King plans to offer one of the three to a neighbouring monarch in order to prevent a war.

I enjoyed this. Of course, the sisters were nothing like princesses and it took a while to convince them to try (though there were extenuating factors, like not having time to do any lessons), so it was somewhat amusing at first, too. There was a section in the middle that slowed down a bit, but when a war started, anyway, it picked up again. I feel like it was a nice wrap-up to the series.

Cumulative page total = 13,606

apr 10, 5:32 pm

44. The Secret Wife of King George IV / Diane Haeger
3.5 stars
375 pages

King George IV (King of England between 1820 an 1830) before becoming king, did not get along with this father at all. Not only that, he fell in love with a Catholic (Maria) and there was no way his father would agree for them to marry. Maria insisted on being married before agreeing to becoming further involved in the relationship, so they married in a Catholic ceremony (that was illegal/not recognized in England). George had hoped his father would not live much longer (but he did), so he would be able to change that law and have Maria recognized as his legal wife.

This is not a time period I have read much (or anything?) about. It was really interesting to learn of this secret relationship/marriage. There was more romance to the story than I’d expected; I added this to my tbr a long time ago, so it’s possible I realized that at the time. But it was still interesting. There were times that the story moved a bit slowly, though. I also can’t say I really liked either main character, but I was still interested to read that this had happened at all.

Cumulative page total = 13,981

apr 11, 10:52 pm

45. The Fountainhead / Ayn Rand
2 stars
736 pages

This is something about architects, architecture, philosophy, and super-selfish people, particularly the main character, Howard Roark. He’s an architect who wants to only design what he wants. He doesn’t want to design what others hire him to, just what he wants.

There are relationships in the story, but I’m not sure how they happen given how selfish everyone is. I listened to the (lllllooooonnnnngggg) audio, and tuned much of it out, as it was boring. Boring boring boring. Maybe a good thing I tuned it out because there didn’t appear to be a single likable character, as far as I could tell, from the bits and pieces I did pay attention to. The first chapter (was this some kind of intro, I’m thinking?) turned me off immediately via all the philosophy. At least after that, there was somewhat of a story, but it was also pretty slow and of course, there was plenty of philosophy sprinkled throughout. Not my thing. Add to that the selfish unlikable characters. In all honesty, half the time I missed who was in a relationship with whom. Just no.

Cumulative page total = 14,717

apr 15, 3:56 pm

46. The Son of a Certain Woman / Wayne Johnston
3 stars
360 pages

Percy was born with FSS (Famous Someone Syndrome), where his hands, feet, and lips are all oversized; he also has an extremely large wine-red/purple “stain” on his face. He lives in St. John’s, Nfld with his beautiful single mom and her boarder, who also teaches at Percy’s school. A frequent visitor to their house is his mom’s friend, Medina. He also realizes there will never be a girl/woman who will love him or have sex with him; he figures his only hope is his mother. The story follows Percy from about 5 years old to 15.

Ok, as distasteful as that is, the story itself wasn’t bad. Initially, it reminded me of John Irving. It was pretty slow, though. It did pick up for me as I continued on, so I temporarily thought I might rate is just a bit higher, until something at the end of the book brought my rating back down to “ok”. It was apparently set in the 1950s and 60s, but I don’t recall if that was explicitly stated in the book. There was some humour and plenty of criticism of the Catholic Church.

Cumulative page total = 15,077

apr 17, 11:51 pm

47. Blue Lightning / Ann Cleeves
3.5 stars
285 pages

On the “Fair Isle”, a part of the Shetland Islands, there is an observatory with a group of bird watchers in attendance. Police detective Jimmy Perez is visiting home with his fiancee, Fran. Jane is the cook at the observatory, which is also the place where most people stay when they come to the Fair Isle. Angela and Marshall run the observatory, and Marshall’s teenage daughter is also visiting. Unfortunately with bad weather, everyone is stuck with no way on or off the island. Then, someone is found with a knife in her back.

This was good. It is quite atmospheric, but in all honesty, I tend to tune much of that out. I did have a bit of trouble figuring out all the characters at the start of the book; it didn’t help that at least one of the characters (though I did eventually figure it out) was sometimes called by his first name and sometimes by his last (Jimmy Perez). Overall, though, the story ended up being good, and I liked it as much as the first in the series and better than the other two.

Cumulative page total = 15,382

apr 18, 12:14 am

48. Daisy Jones & the Six / Taylor Jenkins Reid
4 stars
382 pages

This is the story of a (fictional) famous rock band from the 1970s, Daisy Jones & the Six, including lead singers and songwriters, Daisy and Billy. Early on, Billy gets into rehab and gets clean, but gorgeous Daisy is all about the drugs. Billy is married and starts a family. Billy’s brother Graham is in the band, and unknown to most of the others, has a relationship with another bandmate, Karen; bandmate Eddie is the one who most wants to stick to rock’n’roll. The story is their rise to stardom until their breakup at the end of the 70s.

This is sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll. I listened to the audio and it was so well done. The story was good (I’d give the story itself 3.5 stars), but (as I always do when it’s this good), I am adding an extra ¼ star for the audio. But also an additional ¼ star for the format of the book. It’s told in interviews with many of the characters: the people mentioned above, but also Billy’s wife, Daisy’s best friend/disco star, the band’s producer, and many more. I think this format led really well to the audio, with each character having a different narrator for the audio. So well done!

Cumulative page total = 15,744

apr 23, 11:40 pm

49. Homecoming / Kate Morton
3.75 stars
560 pages

It’s 2018. Jess has been living in England for a long time, but is called home to Australia when her grandmother (who pretty much raised her) ends up in the hospital. Her grandmother, Nora, makes some odd comments. Jess, being a reporter, investigates and finds some family secrets.

In 1959, Percy is walking in a neighbour’s yard to find a mother and three of her children dead, not a mark on any of them. There was a basket hanging and he hadn’t realized there was a baby in the basket, but by the time the police have arrived and realize there should have been a baby there, the baby is missing.

This was good, but it took a long time to set up and get going. I had a hard time focusing initially, and many of the characters would delve back into memories which made it a bit harder for me to follow, as I was still figuring out characters, time frames, etc. Eventually, I figured things out and it did pick up, and I was interested to know what was going on/what had happened in 1959 (and, of course, how it related to Jess and Nora).

I’m not generally a fan of a “book within a book” and this one had that. That might have been at least part of the reason it took me longer to get “into” the book? Of course, there were twists. I thought I had one figured out, but I was incorrect in what I’d thought. So, my star rating has it just a bit higher than “good”, but I didn’t want to bring it quite up to 4 stars due to the slow start for me.

Cumulative page total = 16,304

apr 24, 12:01 am

50. Down the Mysterly River / Bill Willingham
3.75 stars
335 pages

12-year old Max is a Boy Scout and is in a forest, but he has no idea how he got there. It’s not long before he meets up with a talking badger. Next comes along a talking feral cat, then a talking bear. How very odd! In trying to figure out what is going on here (Max considers himself a bit of a detective), Max and the others learn that they are being chased by people called the “Cutters”. The animals know that the Cutters cut critters into something different that isn’t themselves. The Cutters themselves think they are making the critters better with the cutting they do. In any case, Max and his three new friends need to run from the Cutters. They are making their way down the river to the Wizard’s sanctuary.

I liked this. I often am not a fan of fantasy (although I generally do better with children’s fantasy, as this is) and talking animals, this was cute, and I liked all the characters, including those talking animals. I gave it the extra ¼ star for the twist at the end. Max has mostly solved the mystery of where he came from, etc, but he learns more from the “wizard” and I thought that twist was very clever – I did love the twist!

Cumulative page total = 16,639

apr 28, 11:25 pm

51. The Miracle & Tragedy of the Dionne Quintuplets / Sarah Miller
4.25 stars
299 pages

The Dionne quintuplets were born in rural Ontario in 1934. It was the Depression and their parents had no idea how they would pay to take care of 5 more kids! They were the first set of quintuplets who all lived. But the doctor who took care of them was so careful and cautious, he separated the quints into an entirely new, separate building across the street from their parents and other siblings, taken care of full-time by rotating nurses. They were so careful, the family was rarely able to visit. The Ontario government took over their care, supposedly so they wouldn’t be paraded around the U.S. Instead they were paraded out in front of the crowds who came to see them in their rural Ontario “home”. It was only when they were almost 10-years old did their parents win back custody of their own children.

Wow, those kids certainly did not have a normal childhood. Initially, they didn’t know any different, but when they finally were back with their family, they had no idea what a “normal” life was like. They’d never had to do any work before, everything was given to them and/or done for them. The parents suffered greatly, as well. They were harsh when they got the girls back; they were trying to provide a normal life for them, but they didn’t seem to have any inkling of how hard this was for the girls.

I don’t remember when the fictional version that I read of the Dionnes’ story ended, but this one continued right up to publication in 2018, when two of the sisters were still alive. I feel like the fictional book I read didn’t follow them into adulthood, so it was interesting to read that, too.

I’m giving this an extra ¼ star because I feel like this was researched so very well and the author tried to find a middle ground with all the melodrama and exaggeration and heightened emotions that seemed to happen with interviews with all parties. I feel like this is a well-rounded version, and I guess I can’t really say it’s the best version of what happened (since I’ve only read the one other (fictional) book about the quints), but I feel like it might be -- with the way it was researched and told.

Cumulative page total = 16,938

apr 28, 11:46 pm

52. The Last Painting of Sara de Vos / Dominic Smith
2.25 stars
327 pages

In the 1950s, a young painter, Ellie, is asked to “copy” a painting originally done by Sara de Vos, a Dutch woman painter from the 17th century. Is this a forgery? Or a copy? Is there a difference? She does it. Not sure what happens after this, except that someone hires a private detective who finds Ellie, but then things get passed off to another man to take the young painter to an auction to… try to figure out if she’s the forger? Not too sure… The setting seemed to move between Amsterdam, New York City, and Australia.

I listened to the audio, which did a piss-poor job of keeping my interest (that is, it didn’t – must be able to tell from my feeble summary!), except for briefly with Jake whatever-his-fake-last-name was; anyway, Jake and Ellie ended up in some kind of a relationship, or she thought so, anyway. Near the end of the book, suddenly it was 40 years later, and I missed how that transition happened (though as I read the summary, apparently much of the story was already 40 years later? And I missed it.) The story did shift back in time to 17th century Holland, but I have no idea what was happening in that time frame. I missed ALL of that. Art – also not my thing. The ¼ star is for the brief relationship when I actually paid a little bit of attention.

And wow – I’ve learned so much of what I missed in the book by reading other reviews! I imagine I will learn more in my book club discussion (where I will have very little to contribute!).

Cumulative page total = 17,265

Redigerat: jun 5, 11:10 pm

The hope/plan for May:

- Dead Run / Dean Schultz (MysteryKIT?)
- Famine / Graham Masterson (Apr ScaredyKIT)
- The Judge's List / John Grisham
(Apr RandomKIT)

New for May:
- An Unwanted Guest / Shari Lapena (ScaredyKIT, AlphaKIT)
- The Dog Who Wouldn't Be / Farley Mowat (KiddyCAT)
- Beautiful Joe / Marshall Sanders (KiddyCAT)
- China Rich Girlfriend / Kevin Kwan (SeriesCAT, AlphaKIT)
- A Cat Named Darwin / William K (PBT trim, RandomKIT)
- Beneath the Faceless Mountain / Roberta Rees (Subdue the Shelf)
- Seven Fallen Feathers / Tanya T
(PBT, MysteryKIT?)

- Klara and the Sun / Kazuo Ishiguro (PBT Candle)
- Paris / Edward Rutherfurd
(Read Thru Time)

- A Walk in the Dark / Pamela Kiami (Early Reviewers)
- Wolvercraft Manor / Cas E. Crowe
(ER, AlphaKIT)
- The Quiet Tenant / Clemence Michallon (NG?, AlphaKIT)
- The Garden of Evil / Genoviva Ortiz (ER)

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:06 pm

53. King's Fool / Margaret Campbell Barnes
3 stars
300 pages

Will Somers was Henry VIII’s court jester from the time his daughter Mary was around 10 years old. Will remained Henry’s jester through all Henry’s wives until Henry passed away. Initially, Will found work for a local merchant, but when he accompanied that merchant to Court, he was enticed to stay and work as Henry’s jester. Will apparently became quite close with Henry and his family. This book has a fictional romance component to it.

There was a short author’s note at the start that explained that the romance was fictional, though much of the rest of the story is true; I always appreciate that kind of note or I would have wondered. I actually found Will’s life more interesting initially when he worked for the merchant, but then my interest waxed and waned through the rest of it. It seemed like Henry went through his last 5 wives very quickly in this book (and I suppose he really did, but this book seemed to speed that up), but of course that wasn’t the focus of the book, either. Overall, it was ok for me.

Cumulative page total = 17,565

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:07 pm

54. Famine / Graham Masterton
3 stars
376 pages

When some kind of blight starts taking over Ed’s wheat field in Kansas in a matter of hours, he soon learns this is affecting many areas of the U.S. and many different types of crops. Meanwhile, Ed’s wife Season has decided that she does not like life on a farm and misses the city; she packs up and takes their daughter with her to California to be with her sister.

I could have done without the stretch of politics at the start; I kind of lost interest through part of that. The story itself of the food all going bad was good, and to what lengths will people go to get (and/or stockpile) food. Even more so, I could definitely have also done without every female character having big boobs and a ton of sex; and all the derogatory comments toward the woman characters. I almost rated it lower due to this, but decided the story itself was enough for me to rate it slightly higher, so I decided on a middle ground at 3 stars (ok).

Cumulative page total = 17,941

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:07 pm

55. Dead Run: The Murder of a Lawman... / Dan Schultz
3.5 stars
307 pages

In May 1998, a police officer, Dale Claxton, in Colorado near the desert pulled over a truck. Nothing seemed amiss until three men stepped out of the truck – all three had automatic guns. Claxton was shot numerous times and was killed. The three set off into the desert as other police tried to chase, but were gunned down themselves (others were injured, but not one else was killed). The last of the three fugitives was found in 2007; all three had died in the desert, though the other two had been found within a few weeks of the original chase.

This was good. Starting off with the killing of Claxton and the chase got me into the book right away. Some of the investigation wasn’t quite as interesting, but it picked up every time one of the three killers was found. And, I found the biographical info about each of the three interesting, as well. The three men were all identified fairly quickly, but all three also had plenty of experience surviving on the desert.

Because all three were found dead, it is speculation about what happened and why they did what they did, but it seems likely they were on their way to a different big crime, but got interrupted with Claxton pulled them over. The police also put out there, for all three of the gunmen, that they’d each killed themselves, but (according to the author) the evidence doesn’t really point to that.

This is a good book about a crime I hadn’t heard about (though I’m sure there are plenty who llived closer to the area who would remember this). It was unfortunate there were no references included in the book, though.

Cumulative page total = 18,248

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:07 pm

56. Klara and the Sun / Kazuo Ishiguro
3 stars
340 pages

Klara is a robot with incredible AI (Artificial Intelligence) waiting in a store with other robots to be bought by kids as companions. When Josie sees her, she knows she wants Klara, but can’t bring her home right away. Klara just hopes Josie will be back. When Klara eventually goes home with Josie, things aren’t exactly what she’d expected. Josie has some kind of illness, and Klara is expected to do something unexpected.

I listened to the audio and I liked the start of it (after the short bit to figure out what was going on), but as the book continued on, I lost more and more interest. I guess it did end “better” than I’d expected (for the main storyline that I was (mostly, as far as I know) following). I’m rating this “ok”. As I read reviews that include a summary, it seems I missed more than I’d even realized!

Cumulative page total = 18,588

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:08 pm

57. Beneath the Faceless Mountain / Roberta Rees
2 stars
240 pages

This was set in the Crowsnest Pass in Southern Alberta near the British Columbia border. During the early 20th century, there were a few interesting happenings in the area, but none was the focus of the book, though they were mentioned (a rock slide and a couple of coal mine disasters). I think the bulk of the story(ies?) - maybe all? - seemed to happen during WWII.

I initially thought it was short stories as I started reading – there were different characters in each chapter (at first); I also thought there were different time periods, but one of the characters from (what I thought was) one time period appeared in another later on. So, either time travel or I was mistaken on different time periods? Unlikely it was time travel! There were weird random pages/paragraphs (in different font) referring to “you” – none of that made sense to me. I thought this book was odd, and despite being in an area not too far from where I am and somewhere I’ve been, I did not like this. Likely a good reason for that is the writing style.

Cumulative page total = 18,828

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:08 pm

58. Seven Fallen Feathers / Tanya Talaga
4.5 stars
355 pages

There are all kinds of issues on indigenous reservations in Canada. Education is just one of them. In 2000(?), a group of indigenous people built and started running a high school in Thunder Bay, Ontario for those students living north who didn’t have a high school to go to. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before some of those kids – many who were away from home for the first time, who had never been in a city before, a new culture, a new language, no (or not many) family or friends to help – started disappearing. And dying. Over 11 years, seven teenagers died.

The Thunder Bay police did very little to help, often not even contacting the families on the reserves to let them know their kids had disappeared. In some cases, they went too long before starting to look for the kids. Five of the kids were found in the river, and in most cases, just written off as “no foul play suspected”. But the indigenous people running the school, the families and friends question this. It was so unlike these kids to just get drunk and drown in the river. It has never really been figured out what exactly happened to these kids.

Wow, this is so sad. And aggravating that not enough is being done to help the indigenous kids and their communities. It’s an eye-opener and definitely worth reading. There are some repetitive bits and the author kind of went all over the place sometimes – between telling the kids’ stories, then working in other information about other people or communities. But really worth the read.

Cumulative page total = 19,183

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:08 pm

59. Beautiful Joe / Marshall Saunders
3.5 stars
359 pages

Beautiful Joe was a dog (apparently a real dog) who was abused by his owner (along with his mother and siblings, who were all killed), but was rescued by some local kids after Joe’s owner cut off his ears and tail. Joe hit the jackpot with his new family, especially soft-hearted Miss Laura who took good care of Joe and all the other animals the family had. When Miss Laura went off to a relative’s farm for a summer, Joe went with her and learned about the farm animals, as well.

The book was told from Beautiful Joe’s point of view. I enjoyed this (mostly), but it did get preachy at times. I completely agree with it all, but even so, it still felt a bit preachy to me. Many of the characters in the story were almost too good to be true, but at the same time, I think the book (originally published in 1893) was trying to teach kids not to be cruel to animals – they have feelings and feel pain, too. Interesting that it is actually a woman who wrote this: Margaret Marshall Saunders.

Cumulative page total = 19,542

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:09 pm

60. A Walk in the Dark / Pamela Kiami
4 stars
225 pages

Vanessa goes for a walk one evening and meets Howard; she and Howard fall fast for each other, although Howard has just landed a job that will take him to the U.S. (they are in England). Meanwhile, Vanessa’s best friend Sam has just found out her husband has been cheating on her and will be leaving; she is a wreck. In the news, women around the city have been turning up murdered; a serial killer is on the loose. Add in that Vanessa also found a new job, with a nice boss who likes her.

There were times I was just annoyed with Vanessa and her reactions to Sam (and to some of the other characters). I guess she was being a bit selfish with her new romance happening, so maybe a bit understandable, but I was still annoyed with her. I was able to figure out what was going on fairly early on, but I still quite enjoyed the story.

Cumulative page total = 19,767

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:09 pm

61. A Cat Named Darwin / William Jordan
4 stars
190 pages

The author was not a cat person, but when he came across a stray (at a time when the author was feeling lonely), there seemed to be a connection. He brought the cat he later named Darwin (the author is a biologist) in and gave him food. There was a back and forth between inside and outside, then on or off the bed, etc. Darwin wormed his way into the author’s heart, but it wasn’t long before Darwin was diagnosed with FeLV (feline leukemia). Darwin only lasted another year before he died.

I loved Darwin and enjoyed the parts most that focused on him. The author brought in some philosophy of things he learned from Darwin and, though I’m not usually a fan of philosophy, I actually found this quite interesting. I did disagree with a lot of decisions the author made, especially as Darwin got more and more sick, but I still rated it as high as I did, primarily because of Darwin himself. The book hit close to home, as I have been dealing with a palliative cat for a few years now, myself (he’s now 20 and still mostly doing ok, but it’s tough).

Cumulative page total = 19,957

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:09 pm

62. The Judge's List / John Grisham
4 stars
308 pages

Lacy is a lawyer, working for an organization that investigates complaints against judges. She is contacted by someone who wants to remain anonymous about a judge (a current sitting judge!) who she says has murdered at least eight people, including her father over 20 years previous. Lacy hesitates taking the case, as they are not equipped to investigate murders, but Jeri refuses to go to the police, and they are required to start an investigation if there is a complaint. All the cases are cold (except the most recent), and there was zero evidence left behind. All Jeri has is motive and (I don’t remember what they called it) the same way of killing.

I thought this was really good, a unique scenario. It got especially creepy once we started “following” from the judge’s point of view about the middle of the book, but that, of course, ramped up the suspense a bit.

Cumulative page total = 20,265

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:09 pm

63. Shadow of the Titanic / Andrew Wilson
4 stars
387 pages

This book looks not just at the Titanic, but picks out a few of the survivors to follow after the ship sank. Of course, it also backs up to include biographical information on these people from before the Titanic, as well as where they were and what happened with each of them the night the ship sank.

This was a bit of a different look at the story of the Titanic. I quite liked it! Some of the stories were of first class passengers I knew a bit about or at least remember hearing their names (Madeleine Astor, John Jacob Astor’s young, new, pregnant wife; Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon and his wife, Lady Duff Gordon); also J. Bruce Ismay, a White Star official. Many of the stories were people I hadn’t heard about before. Probably the one I’ll remember best is Jack Thayer, 17 years old and was going down with the ship when he jumped, managed to clear the ship, and be rescued. Dorothy Gibson was a silent screen actress on the Titanic who made it out. There were two little boys who were on the ship with their father; he got them in a lifeboat and they never saw him again… turns out the father had kidnapped them from their mother in France!

Ismay, of course, was on trial after the Titanic sunk. The Duff Gordons were, as well, it being alleged that they bribed the rowers of their lifeboat to not go back to see if they could help anyone. Madeleine Astor married and divorced two more times (though remarrying caused her to lose all wealth left to her by John Jacob). A number of people committed suicide (not necessarily right away) and many just wouldn’t talk of the Titanic afterward.

Cumulative page total = 20,652

maj 24, 12:37 pm

>80 LibraryCin: Definitely want to read that!

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:10 pm

64. An Unwanted Guest / Shari Lapena
4.5 stars
320 pages

I see this as a cross between The Shining (isolated inn in the mountains during the winter) and And Then There Were None (only two staff, along with 10 guests in the isolated inn… and people are being murdered). James owns the inn, and his son Bradley helps out; because of the storm, they are the only two staff around on this cold wintery weekend. The guests: Candice is an author; David is a criminal defense attorney; Ian and Lauren are a fairly new couple, Henry and Beverly are a longer-married couple having trouble in their marriage, Matthew and Dana are planning their wedding; Gwen and Riley are long-time friends trying to reconnect. They all come with their own baggage and secrets. Who could be slowly murdering the others…?

I loved the cold wintery setting of this one! And I loved (what I saw as) the combo of The Shining with And Then There Were None. Although there were a lot of characters to introduce, I was able to figure them out pretty quickly and was interested from the start. I wasn’t sure if there would be a twist at the end (or how that would happen), but there was one and I think it was done well!

Cumulative page total = 20,972

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:10 pm

65. China Rich Girlfriend / Kevin Kwan
3 stars
400 pages

In the second book in the trilogy, Nick and Rachel still plan to get married, despite Nick’s mother’s opposition. They do end up in China, however, when Nick’s mother tells them she found Rachel’s biological father, whom she had been looking for. Unfortunately, when Rachel arrives to visit, her father and his wife have left the country, but her half-brother is there to welcome her and get to know her. So, Carlton and his girlfriend Colette host them. Ultra-rich Colette decides they should fly to Paris with other friends to do some shopping, though.

This was ok. I didn’t like it as much as the first one. The rich people really do get on my nerves sometimes, and I’m not a big shopper, so the shopping and descriptions and brand names, etc, don’t do anything for me. (Once again), with so many characters, it took quite a while to figure out who everyone was and how they were all related (and I never did figure them all out). I really found Nick and Rachel’s story the most interesting, with Carlton and Colette next. Things picked up toward the end of the book and there was a bit of surprise that came from Colette.

Cumulative page total = 21,372

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:10 pm

66. Wolvercraft Manor / Cas E. Crowe
4.5 stars
420 pages

Saige has been gone from her childhood home on an island for years, but her brother wants to get married there. The last time Saige was there, she saw her mother kill herself. Saige also “sees” things (i.e. ghosts) and because of this her father had her institutionalized. What the rest of her family doesn’t realize is that Saige really is seeing these things. It’s not all in her head. She is very anxious about returning.

Once there, she finds that her brother’s best friend from when they were younger, Jasper, is also there. He is a musician and will play at the wedding. What the rest of the family doesn’t know is that Saige and Jasper were not only in a relationship, they were engaged until Jasper just up and left without a word.

When Saige starts seeing ghosts again, it seems that Jasper is able to see them, as well, so the two embark on trying to figure out why all the ghosts are there and how to stop them from what appears to be a curse on the house and anyone who marries into the family.

While I feel like I gave a lot away, I don’t really think it’s too much, as so much more goes on in the story. The atmosphere of the book is very very creepy and very well done. The haunted old mansion. A storm that has them trapped. The ghosts are very scary and quite well-described so this book may not be for the squeamish. It was fast-paced. I also really liked the relationship between Saige and Jasper, though (not surprisingly) Saige had a hard time with Jasper, him having abandoned her way back when.

Cumulative page total = 21,792

Redigerat: jun 29, 11:43 pm

In June:

- The Vanishing Half / Brit Bennett. (Book club)
- The Luck Runs Out / Charlotte Macleod (MysteryKIT)
- Correction Road / Glen Dresser (RandomKIT)
- The Dog Who Wouldn't Be / Farley Mowat (KiddyCAT)
- Tell It to the Trees / Anita Rau Badami (PBT Candle, AlphaKIT)
- The Second Life of Samuel Tyne / Esi Edguyan
(PBT Trim, PBT?)
- Bunny Lake is Missing / Evelyn Piper (Reading Thru Time, AlphaKIT)
- Behold the Dreamers / I. Mbue (PBT, AlphaKIT)
- Out With It / Katherine Preston (AlphaKIT)
- Final Assignment / Linwood Barclay
(SeriesCAT, AlphakIT)

- Denali's Howl / Andy Hall (Subdue)
- The Shining / Stephen King (ScaredyKIT, AlphaKIT)
- The Golden Tresses of the Dead / Alan Bradley
(Read Thru Time, AlphaKIT)

- The Quiet Tenant / Clemence Michallon (NG)
- Dead of Winter / Darcy Coates
- Everyone is Lying / Sheri Lapena (NG)
- The Garden of Evil / Genoviva Ortiz (ER)

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:10 pm

67. The Vanishing Half / Brit Bennett
3.5 stars
264 pages

Stella and Desiree are twins born in a small town (Mallard, Louisiana) made up of light-skinned black people in Louisiana. They saw their father beat up by a couple of white guys when they were little, and he later died. At 16-years old, they left Mallard. After living in New Orleans for a while, Stella left Desiree on her own and Desiree never heard from her again. A number of years later, Desiree takes her “blueblack” daughter, Jude, and leaves her abusive husband to head back to Mallard, and when there falls for a man, Early – a “hunter” who looks for missing people. Early starts hunting for Stella for Desiree.

This was good. It was told from different points of view (Desiree, Jude, and later on, Stella, and Stella’s daughter Kennedy), and also different years (primarily the 60s through 80s). It as a bit surprising where Stella ended up (ok, maybe not, as I see it’s in the synopsis, though not mine!). The switch of viewpoints and timelines was easy enough to follow. I guess I kept hoping for a twist or something, but that didn’t really come. I guess I also expected a sort of “big reveal” at the end that also didn’t happen, but maybe that’s more true to life? It was nice to see a trans character written into the story.

Cumulative page total = 22,056

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:11 pm

68. Paris / Edward Rutherfurd
2.5 stars
830 pages

Like many of Rutherfurd’s books, this is historical fiction that takes place over centuries, this one in Paris.

I listened to the audio and it was unfortunate it wasn’t in chronological order, like the others by him I’ve read. It was harder to follow as it jumped around. The storyline I found the most interesting was the building of the Eiffel Tower. Next to that, parts of the WWII storyline were good. Otherwise, I kind of got lost in the rest and wasn’t quite sure what was happening. I don’t know if much time was spent on Napoleon or the French Revolution, though they were both mentioned a few times, but if there was a longer storyline around those, I missed them. Being such a long book over many generations (and the back and forth in time didn’t help), it was hard for me to figure out who was who and how they were related. When I thought I had it, he’d flip to another time period and characters, then by the time we came back, I’d have forgotten.

Cumulative page total = 22,886

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:11 pm

69. The Luck Runs Out / Charlotte MacLeod
3 stars
295 pages

Helen is kidnapped (temporarily) when she and her husband Peter are shopping and the kidnappers come in to rob the place. Luckily, she is soon found and brought back no worse for wear. Meantime, the agricultural college’s (where both Peter and Helen work) pregnant pig is also kidnapped. And the local farrier turns up murdered. What happened here? Was it all the same person, or are these unrelated crimes?

This was ok. I liked the first in the series better. This was pretty slow-moving. Some of the terminology felt… pretentious? (Trying to come up with a good word.) Maybe it was supposed to be, since there are so many academics in the book? I did lose interest periodically, so I missed how they figured out “who dun it”, though at least I did catch the “who”. I will read the next book in the series before deciding if I want to continue further.

Cumulative page total = 23,181

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:11 pm

70. Tell it to the Trees / Anita Rau Badami
4.25 stars
272 pages

Varsha is 13-years old (or 12?) when her half brother, Hemant, is born. Varsha’s had a tough life until now: her mother was leaving her father when she was in a car crash and died. Not long after, her father headed to India to bring home a new bride. Varsha is so scared of her new Mama leaving that she hides Suman’s passport so she is unable to.

Why might Suman want to leave? Abuse. It’s why Varsha’s mother tried to leave. When Vikram (Varsha’s father) decides to rent out the little house behind theirs in this tiny rural area in B.C. a former classmate (whom he does not remember), Anu, comes from NYC in hopes of getting some writing done. While there, she befriends Suman and Vikram’s mother, Akka. And slowly figures out something is wrong with the family.

This was told from many different points of view, including Suman, Anu, Varsha, and Hemant, so we got to see almost everyone’s perspective of what was going on. Varsha became very possessive – she was very controlling (reminiscent of her father?); I initially felt badly for her, but came to quite dislike her. And the end? I liked it although many might not due to it being open-ended, so we don’t really know how it continues or what happens, though I suppose we can guess. I think this would make a good book club book with lots to discuss.

Cumulative page total = 23,453

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:11 pm

71. Denali's Howl / Andy Hall
3.5 stars
288 pages

In 1967, twelve people climbed Alaska’s (also North America’s) highest mountain, Denali (aka Mt. McKinley). The group was actually two groups “stitched” together before the climb, so many didn’t know each other, or didn’t know each other well, nor were really prepared to work (well) together. Only five survived. The author’s father worked for the park service at the time and was involved in the search afterward. This covers what is known of the climb, the aftermath, and speculation about what may have happened to the seven who never made it back.

I listened to the audio and it’s another where I sometimes lost interest. But the portions I paid attention to were interesting. Of course, in the 1960s, the hiking gear was not as advanced, nor was communication, so it was harder to know if there was really something wrong if you didn’t hear from someone via radio when you were supposed to. This book has made me interested to possibly look up some of the other books on the same mountaineering disaster on Denali.

Cumulative page total = 23,741

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:12 pm

72. The Second Life of Samuel Tyne / Esi Edugyan
3 stars
263 pages

In the 1960s, Samuel and his wife Maud live in Calgary, Alberta. They had immigrated from Ghana (or the Gold Coast, as it was called when they lived there when younger, and as they still call it). When Samuel’s uncle (in small town Alberta) dies and leaves his house and land to Samuel, he up and moves his family (they also have twin daughters) to this small town. The twins are 12 or 13-years old and bring their “friend” (really, an acquaintance, as they don’t really have friends), Ama, with them for the summer while her parents are in France.

This was pretty slow-moving, but it was better than I expected. I didn’t like the first book I read by this author (can’t currently recall the title), but I decided to give this a try, anyway. Wow, those twins… something a little (a lot) wrong in their heads. Did not like the twins at all. In fact, none of the characters were particularly likable (oh, Ama’s likable, but that’s about it; felt really bad for her, actually). But the story was ok, better than expected.

Cumulative page total = 24,004

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:12 pm

73. The Dog Who Wouldn't Be / Farley Mowat
3.5 stars
288 pages

In the 1930s, Farley Mowat and his parents moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. They wanted a dog. His father wanted a hunting dog, but since that was too expensive, his mother just bought a dog a little boy was selling for cheap door-to-door. They called him Mutt. This book includes stories that mostly focus on Mutt.

Actually my favourite chapter was the one with the two owls (Mowat used those owls in his fictional kids’ story, “Owls in the Family”). The book was more like short stories, but that’s ok. Mutt was a character. A lot of people seem to consider this a children’s book, but I didn’t think it read that way. A boy and his dog, sure. I suppose that would appeal, but it didn’t seem particularly written for kids. I’m rating it good.

Cumulative page total = 24,292

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:12 pm

74. The Golden Tresses of the Dead / Alan Bradley
3.25 stars
352 pages

Flavia’s sister, Feely, is getting married. Unfortunately, she discovers, in her wedding cake, a severed finger! Flavia quickly ports it away with the intention of finding out who it belonged to and how it got into her sister’s wedding cake. When Flavia and Dogger are invited to tea, they come across the dead body of who would have been their host.

I listened to the audio for this, again. I love Jayne as Flavia, but it’s more the characterization that I love. Like many other audios, unfortunately, it doesn’t keep my attention, so I did miss much of the story. I wanted to try at least one ebook in the series, rather than audio, to see if it held my attention, but (at least this time) my library only had the audio, so audio it was! The mysteries do not seem to be front and centre in any of the books in the series. I’d like to rate it higher, but I think I just missed too much of what was going on to do so.

Cumulative page total = 24,644

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:12 pm

75. Out With It: How Stuttering Helped Me Find My Voice / Katherine Preston
3.5 stars
244 pages

Katherine has stuttered since she was 7-years old. Her mother tried to get her help when she was younger, but at the time, Katherine just didn’t want to deal confront it. Her family and friends were always supportive, but of course, it was hard when meeting someone new or interacting with people she didn’t know. As she got older, she did try various things to stop the stuttering – to become “fluent”. Nothing lasted – some things might work temporarily, but the stutter always came back. Eventually, Katherine travelled to the US (from England where she grew up) to interview researchers and other stutterers. (Many people prefer the phrase “people who stutter”, but Katherine herself is fine with “stutterer”.)

I thought this was good. I learned a few things: many stutterers have trouble with their names; stuttering is more common among boys/men; most children do grow out of their stutters, but of course not everyone. Katherine was originally planning to write her book as an oral history and focus on the people she interviewed, but there actually ended up not being very much of that in the end; it obviously did turn into her own memoir. She probably could still write that oral history!

Cumulative page total = 24,888

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:13 pm

76. The Quiet Tenant / Clemence Michallon
4.5 stars
322 pages

“Rachel” (the name her kidnapper gave her) has been living in a shed for five years. When her kidnapper’s wife dies, his in-laws want to sell the house he’s bee living in. An odd arrangement comes of this, as he (Aiden) does not want to kill Rachel. He and his 13-year old daughter move into a house in town, and Rachel moves into a room. Aiden explains this to his daughter as Rachel being a friend who needed a place to stay, and is renting from them. Even so, most of the time, Rachel is handcuffed in her room, but to appear normal, she is sometimes brought down to eat with Aiden and Cecilia. But does this greater “freedom” give Rachel a better chance of getting away? Meantime, Aiden has started a new relationship with a local bartender, Emily.

I thought this was really good. I wanted to keep reading when I already was and when I wasn’t, I wanted to get back to the book. It sounds implausible from my description, but it seems more believable when reading. Viewpoints include Rachel, Cecilia, and Emily the bartender. Rachel needs to figure out when and/or if she should say anything and/or run. Everything she does is to give herself the best chance of survival.

Cumulative page total = 25,210

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:13 pm

77. Correction Road / Glen Dresser
3 stars
204 pages

Alberta is a rat-free province (this is true), and to be that way, there are people staffed at the Saskatchewan border to kill them when they are found. It’s 1979 and Hugh is one of those people. Joan, who works at the liquor store, is his girlfriend, though neither seems really interested in the other. In fact, when Joan meets Walt, who works at the museum, she doesn’t act on her interest in him, but it’s there. And it’s mutual.

This is a pretty slow story. Not much to it. Overall, I’m rating it ok, though. I’m not thrilled about rats being poisoned at the border. None of the people were terribly likable or interesting. I was a child in 1979, so some of the 70s references (tv, music, etc) were kind of fun. Also, my grandparents, then parents sold farm equipment, so it was interesting for me to read about the different farm equipment, though this is unlikely to be of interest to many.

Cumulative page total = 25,414

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:13 pm

78. Final Assignment / Linwood Barclay
4 stars
59 pages

Chandler wrote an essay for school that he was suspended for. It was violent and when the story seems to come true, he is, of course, suspected of the crime. Cal, a private investigator, was originally called by Chandler’s mother to help fight the school suspension, but ends up helping solve the crime instead.

This is a short novella as part of Barclay’s “Promise Falls” series and I thought it was really good. I don’t always enjoy short stories, and although (like many other short stories), I would have liked this to be longer (in this case, to draw out the suspense a bit), the mystery was still done really well, though it was much sped up. Barclay continues to be one of my favourite thriller writers.

Cumulative page total = 25,473

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:13 pm

79. The Shining / Stephen King
4 stars
528 pages

Danny is only 6-years old. His dad, Jack, is out of work, but gets a job at the Outlook Hotel in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado over the winter. It’s a time when the hotel is closed to guests and he will be the caretaker. He, his wife Wendy, and Danny will be the only people there. Unfortunately, Jack is an alcoholic and has – in the past – been abusive toward his wife and son. Little Danny “knows” and hears things – he knows things that will happen, he can hear others like him as they talk to each other in their heads. Dick Halloran, the cook at the Outlook (whom the family meets at the end of the season before the hotel is closed up), is like Danny this way, and calls it “the shining”. Unfortunately, there are ghosts in the Outlook, and the hotel itself has an agenda.

This was a reread. I read it as a teenager in the ‘80s. I have, of course, seen the Jack Nicholson movie, as well as the more recent rendition of the movie. This time, though, I listened to the audio. I really liked it, but I do suspect it would have been creepier (and I would have been less likely to lose focus – though that didn’t happen often, it did happen occasionally) if I’d read the print. But, having already read the print (though it’s been decades!), I wanted to try the audio. And there were still creepy parts, but it’s pretty much impossible to get Jack Nicholson out of my head… or Shelley Duval or the actor who played Danny in the original movie.

Cumulative page total = 26,001

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:14 pm

80. Dead of Winter / Darcy Coates
5 stars
336 pages

Christa and her boyfriend of 4 months, Keirnan, are in the Rocky Mountains on a trip. It’s winter, so the lodge they are heading to is closed except for the small group they are with. A blizzard has started, and when the bus is stopped due to a downed tree in the road, Keirnan (who grew up nearby and knows the mountains) brings Christa for a short walk. Unfortunately, due to the blizzard, they get turned around and can’t find their way back. When they get separated, Christa manages (frostbite and all) to find a cabin where the others from their tour have holed up, but Kiernan is still missing. It’s not long after that their tour guide also goes missing… and one by one, not only do people disappear, they reappear later, decapitated...

I love wintery, blizzardy atmospheres in books, and this one did it really well. Initially, I thought this was a mystery/thriller, but there is definitely horror mixed in, as well. Be warned that there are gruesome parts. But I loved it! So suspenseful and everyone suspects everyone else. You think each of them is the killer at some point and the twists keep coming to the end!

Cumulative page total = 26,337

Redigerat: aug 4, 11:38 pm

Hoping for in July:

- One Thousand White Women / Jim Fergus (AlphaKIT, PBT B-day)
- Pray for Silence / Linda Castillo (MysteryKIT, AlphaKIT)
- Climate Changed / Phillipe Squarzoni (RandomKIT)
- Weather for Dummies / John D. Cox (SeriesCAT)
- The Cats of Tanglewood Forest / Charles de Lint
- Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution / Eric F (Read Thru Time)
- How to Sell a Haunted House / Grady Hendrix (ScaredyKIT)
- The Lying Game / Ruth Ware (Book club)
- Stuffocation / James Wallman (Subdue the Shelf)
- The Wild Trees / Richard Preston
(PBT, RandomKIT?)
- Memories of Anne Frank / L Gold (PBT Trim)
- ???? (KiddyCAT)

- The Big Tiny / Dee Williams
- Prey / Michael Crichton (PBT)
- The Romanov Bride / Robert (Read Thru Time)
- The One Man / Andrew Gross
(Subdue the Shelf)

- Everyone Is Lying /Shari Lapena
- The Garden of Evil / Genevieve Ortiz
- The September House / Carissa Orlando

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:14 pm

81. The Lying Game / Ruth Ware
3.75 stars
384 pages

Isa had four close friends when she went to boarding school when she was 15 years old. They played a “game” where they lied to everyone else, but not to each other (there were rules). They had a code “I need you” that they would all come if one of them needed the others. 17 years later, one of the four friends, Kate, texts them all “I need you”, so they drop everything and head back to the small town where their boarding school was and where Kate still lives to find out what’s going on. Isa is a lawyer, now married, and has a baby (whom she has to bring with), Fatima is a doctor, Thea works at a casino.

None of the characters was particularly likable, especially Thea and Kate. I wasn’t terribly impressed with Isa and Fatima, either, though Fatima seemed the nicest of them all. The first half was a bit slow, and there were time shifts back to when they were younger (via Isa’s memories), but it picked up in the second half. I felt badly for Isa’s husband and completely sympathized with him. I did want to give the book 4 stars for a while, but there were a few things at the end that I either didn’t like or still confused me a bit. I definitely did not this as much as the others by her that I’ve read.

Cumulative page total = 26,721

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:14 pm

82. The Big Tiny / Dee Williams
3.5 stars
304 pages

When the author, in her 40s, was diagnosed with a heart condition, she decided she wanted to downsize – considerably! She not only wanted to live in a tiny home, she wanted to build it herself. This is memoir about this journey.

I love tiny homes! Being the pack rat that I am, however (mostly for sentimental reasons), I could never see myself living in one. Dee’s home (although I don’t believe this is the case with most) also didn’t have plumbing and it had very little electricity (powered by solar panels). Because of this, she was unable to be completely independent, and lived in the backyard of a friend. Dee did help her friend (who had her own health issues) out quite a bit, as well. I felt like she was sort of a part-time roommate.

And yes, there was, eventually, a complaint where she needed to figure out a way here the city would allow her to continue to live in her structure in a back yard. She was in a town(?)/city(?) in the Pacific Northwest: in Oregon, I think. I’m not sure where my city is currently at with allowing (or not) tiny homes, but I hope it will happen if it hasn’t already. I listened to the audio and I did enjoy listening to Dee’s journey.

Cumulative page total = 27,025

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:14 pm

83. Stuffocation: Why We've Had Enough of Stuff... / James Wallman
3.5 stars
315 pages

The author is a “trend forecaster” and argues in this book that people have become too materialistic (and this makes them/us unhappy for the most part). He argues that people are likely to move towards experiences rather than material items for happiness.

This was interesting. I think that I am already at a “medium chill” stage (pretty much happy with the status quo), and some people are like that, but it’s not something that the author feels will really take off with most people. The author initially talks about how Western society became so materialistic, then describes different ways of changing this and whether or not these ways will take off (including the medium chill), then talks more about experientialism, as he feels this is the most likely that people will move to.

Cumulative page total = 27,340

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:15 pm

84. How to Sell a Haunted House / Grady Hendrix
4 stars
418 pages

When Louise’s parents die in a car crash, she heads home. She leaves her 5-year old daughter, Poppy, with her ex. To Louise’s surprise, although her father would have left everything to her, rather than her no-good younger brother, Mark, her mother left everything to him. Because their father died first, everything is going to Mark. Except her mother’s artwork. Her mother crafted a lot of puppets. In fact, most of those puppets are pretty scary, particularly Pupkin, whom Louise has been scared of for a long long time. When she heads into the house to take inventory of the artwork that would be left to her (and she will take her time, just to annoy Mark!), she doesn’t realize Pupkin holds a grudge against her.

It was a bit slow in the set up, which was about the first half of the book, but it really picked up over that night Louise spent in the house. Then, there was a twist! What would Louise do now!? I really liked it. Be warned, there are gruesome parts, though. There was a bit of humour, but not as much as I was expecting.

Cumulative page total = 27,758

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:15 pm

85. The Cats of Tanglewood Forest / Charles de Lint
3.5 stars
244 pages

Lillian is 12-years old and lives near a forest with her aunt. When she is in the forest looking for fairies, she is bitten by a snake, and in order to save her, some of the cats she has been feeding help by magically turning her into a cat. And now, Lillian can talk to the cats and the other animals in the forest. But her aunt doesn’t recognize her and she can’t explain what happened because her aunt only hears meowing. What to do!?

I enjoyed this! It is an expansion of de Lint’s “A Circle of Cats” (which I did read a long time ago, but don’t recall). There are some nice illustrations throughout.

Cumulative page total = 28,002

jul 14, 10:20 am

>105 LibraryCin: Sounds interesting!

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:15 pm

86. The Romanov Bride / Robert Alexander
2.5 stars
320 pages

This book follows two main characters: Ella, the sister of Alexandra (the last Tsarina of Russia); Ella was married to another high-ranking Russian royal; and Pavel, a peasant who becomes a revolutionary. Pavel’s wife is killed early in the revolution, and he becomes involved enough to help take the life of Ella’s husband.

I might not have that exactly right. I listened to the audio and missed much of it. It just didn’t hold my interest most of the time. I did appreciate two different people doing each character. I also liked the person narrating Pavel has a Russian accent. I don’t think I knew anything about Ella before. I did find it interesting that she later created a nunnery. I shouldn’t have been surprised at the end, but I was.

Cumulative page total = 28,322

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:15 pm

87. Everyone Here is Lying / Shari Lapena
4 stars
331 pages

Nora and William have been having an affair, but when Nora tells William it’s over, he heads home assuming no one will be there. Unfortunately, his willful 9-year old daughter, Avery (with ADHD and something else) is there; she has been sent home early from school. William loses his temper with her, hits her, and apologizes. Next thing you know, Avery is missing.

This was quite good. It didn’t take long to get moving and everyone – it seems – has something to hide! I was surprised that something was revealed about half-way (?) through the book (maybe a bit more), so earlier than I would have expected, but there was, of course, more to come. The story came out via following many different characters, including one of the detectives. Wow, Avery was a pain in the butt – sure didn’t like her. I wasn’t crazy about the end – it seemed almost unfinished; I certainly would have liked to know what happened after.

Cumulative page total = 28,653

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:16 pm

88. Reconstruction: America's Unfinished Revolution, 1863-1877 / Eric Foner
2 stars
672 pages

This is a history book that looks at the time period of Reconstruction in the U.S., following the emancipation of slaves.

I had hoped it would focus more on the social and cultural tidbits, but the bulk of the book focused on politics. So, I found it very dry, very academic. Unfortunately, it was also a fat book with small font, so even when I skimmed, it was slow-going. And I did skim much of it. There were a few parts that I found a bit more interesting and did slow down and take in a bit more, and it is a time I really don’t know much about, so I did learn a few things, but overall, it’s just too slow/dry/academic for me. I did learn that black people (men) were able to vote, and were even elected to office; they also sat on juries. Things actually did loosen up for a bit before tightening up again. I didn’t know this.

Cumulative page total = 29,325

jul 22, 10:52 pm

>106 JulieLill: Hope you enjoy it, if you decide to give it a try! It is a quick one!

jul 23, 8:43 pm

>109 LibraryCin: I'm so sorry this book did not pan out for you! This is such a troubling time in US history.

I read a book a couple of years ago called Slavery by Another Name that includes a brief history of Reconstruction in the first part. The book deals more with the re-enslavement of African-American (usually) men, but to see how the ideals of Reconstruction started, and then how they crumbled, is heart-wrenching.

Redigerat: jul 23, 9:42 pm

>111 threadnsong: Maybe that's what I need to do... just try a different book on the same topic. Note that most people rated the one I read quite highly (though some, I think, like me, found it dry and academic).

ETA: I'm going to give the one you've suggested a try (eventually). I think it will help if there's not so much politics, as well. :-)

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:16 pm

89. The Wild Trees / Richard Preston
4 stars
295 pages

The author starts by looking at the lives of three people in the 1980s. In 1987, Steve was a university student when he climbed his first really tall tree (can’t recall if it was a redwood in California or a Douglas fir in Oregon); also 1987, Michael was a rich kid in college, but not really interested in attending classes… he also discovered the really tall trees; and Marie (early 80s) in Ontario, who lost her mother at a young age and enjoyed rock climbing. Eventually, the three would cross paths as they (formally or informally) studied the tallest trees in the world, mostly those California redwoods and Oregon Douglas firs.

I really liked this. It’s a mix of biographies of each of the main people, as well as information about the trees and forests and – until the late 80s – no one had been up to the tallest reaches of these trees. There are ecosystems that live high up in the trees, and it’s tricky to know how to safely (as much as possible, anyway) climb the trees. It was interesting that the author himself did learn to do it and joined the scientists on their adventures in the trees. He even went climbing with his kids. I really liked this – all parts of the book: I like biographies, and I like (popular) science, so I enjoyed all of it.

Cumulative page total = 29,620

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:16 pm

90. The One Man / Andrew Gross
3.5 stars
470 pages

The American military recruits a Jewish Polish man, Nathan Blum, who managed to get out of Europe before the rest of his family was rounded up to Auschwitz. He already works for the U.S. military and they convince him to go to Auschwitz with a detailed plan to help get someone out! But he only has 72 hours.

Meanwhile in the camp, Professor Mendl is an expert in physics and recruits a young 17-year old, Leo, to memorize a bunch of his formulas. The professor is pretty sure he won’t make it out, but is hoping Leo might one day. This info he is having Leo memorize is very important, though he won’t tell Leo why it’s so important. In his “spare” time, Leo plays chess with one of the camp’s SS officer’s wives.

This was good. It may also be a “victim” of me being fully saturated with WWII books (as I know many others are, as well). I listened to the audio and I had no issues with it. In all honesty, I can’t imagine anyone would agree to do that rescue, as they knew enough about Auschwitz by then. Oh, but the test they had Nathan do ahead of time to “prove” he could? No. Just no. If they wanted him to go so badly, I think he could/should have called them on it and not done it. He was already trained by then. I can’t imagine they’d find anyone else to do it, so let them call it off; I can’t imagine Nathan wanted to go in so badly…

Cumulative page total = 30,090

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:16 pm

91. Weather for Dummies / John D. Cox
3.5 stars
365 pages

The title (and if you know the series) pretty much tells you about this one. It explains weather in a simplified way. From the front of the book: “Explore how weather is forecast; Get a close-up look at clouds, storms, and seasons; Understand how climate affects weather”.

I thought it was good, but it didn’t have as much humour as the other “For Dummies” books I’ve read; I usually really like the humour, so I missed that. In all honesty, even though it was simplified, I still had trouble fully understanding some of the explanations and had to reread a few paragraphs more than once. Even so, I definitely learned things. Did you know they always take temperature readings in the shade? Meteorology is harder than rocket science (with the latter often being held up as something you need to be super-smart to do), because “rocket scientists” study space outside Earth’s atmostphere, which is a lot calmer and doesn’t constantly change like our atmosphere and weather does closer to the ground. Those are just a couple of things that stuck in my head.

There was some repetition but that’s because it is meant to be a reference, so you don’t need to read it front to back; the repetition didn’t bother me, but I wanted to mention it for others. There is (in the 2nd edition that I have) a section of colour photos in the middle. Every so often, I’ve thought it would be so interesting to be a meteorologist; LOL! There is no way when I have a hard time understanding the simplified explanations! (As interesting as it might actually be.)

Cumulative page total = 30,455

Redigerat: sep 1, 11:48 pm

Plans for August (August!!!):

- The Book of Cold Cases / Simone St. James (ScaredyKIT, MysteryKIT)
- The Rose Code / Kate Quinn (Book club, AlphaKIT)
- Auggie & Me / R.J. Palacio
(SeriesCAT, KiddyCAT)
- Horseradish / Lemony Snicket (SeriesCAT, KiddyCAT)
- Science Comics: Solar System / R.M. (RandomKIT, AlphaKIT)
- The Four Winds / Kristin Hannah
(Reading Through Time)
- Rapture in Death / J.D. Robb (MysteryKIT)
- Twopence to Cross the Mersey / Helen Forrester (Subdue the Shelf)
- 13 Ways to Kill Your Community / D.G., K.C. (PBT Trim)
- Plain Truth / Jodi Picoult

Carryover from July:
- One Thousand White Women / J.F. (Happy Bday PBT)
- Memories of Anne Frank / LG
(PBT Trim)

- Milk Glass Moon / Adriana Trigiani (AlphaKIT, SeriesCAT)
- The Animal Dialogues / Craig Childs
- The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue / V.E. Schwab
(Sept book club)

- The September House / Carissa Orlando
- The Garden of Evil / Genoveva Ortiz

- West Heart Kill / Dann McDorman

jul 30, 6:03 pm

Loved The Rose Code.

jul 30, 10:03 pm

>117 Andrew-theQM: It fits a challenge I'm doing here (AlphaKIT), but it is also my book club book. I imagine it will make for a good discussion!

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:17 pm

92. Pray for Silence / Linda Castillo
4 stars
280 pages

When an Amish family – the entire family of 7! - is murdered in their home, Kate (formerly Amish herself), the local chief of (“English”) police, is horrified and, despite no initial leads, insists she will bring the killer to justice. The men of the family (dad and two boys) were all killed inside the house; mom and baby shot outside; and two teenage daughters were tortured and killed in the barn. The Amish are peace-loving people, so what could have been the motivation for this kind of carnage?

This was good, though be warned it’s also quite graphic. It’s a bit jarring, to be honest, reading about an Amish community and being faced with the violence. But it’s a good story. I’m not a big fan of the personal side of Kate’s life, though, at least not her relationship with Tomasetti. I just don’t “get” the connection there. So, the mystery/detective work is definitely the draw for me in this book (and series? I don’t recall the first in the series enough to say for sure).

Cumulative page total = 30,735

aug 2, 9:54 am

>118 LibraryCin: it definitely will, and especially events towards the end.

aug 2, 9:15 pm

>120 Andrew-theQM: Interesting... Good to know!

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:17 pm

93. Prey / Michael Crichton
3.5 stars
367 pages

John is a coder, but was let go from his last job, so is now a stay-at-home dad while his wife, Julia, works. Julia seems to be working a little too much… coming home late – or not at all! John is suspicious. And he has to deal with a sick baby on top of it. Oddly sick – suddenly very sick, then just as suddenly, she gets better. When he is given a chance to work where he once worked, to see if he can help fix some code, it is also where his wife has been working. He is sent out to the desert in Nevada to see if he can figure out what’s going on, where he finds some odd swarms of something run amok.

I’m not sure that’s a great summary and it is very different from the broader summary you’ll see for the book. Anyway, I listened to the audio and it mostly held my attention. I actually found John’s home life pretty amusing, particularly the fighting siblings (that was pretty realistic – lol!). Was interesting reading now, in 2023, about Crichton’s speculation of artificial intelligence back in 2002.

Cumulative page total = 31,102

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:17 pm

94. 13 Ways to Kill Your Community / Doug Griffiths, Kelly Clemmer
3.5 stars
158 pages

The author (Griffiths) of this book is a politician (and former teacher) representing a rural riding (at least he was when he wrote the book). He expanded a speech he often does to help rural communities revitalize their towns. It’s a bit of a reverse psychology thing similar to what he once used with his high school students, so the “ways to kill your community” is obviously not what he’s really getting at, but the opposite. He uses examples of things that people do that do prevent communities from growing.

The topic is not really my interest (though I grew up in a small town, so it was somewhat interesting from that perspective), but I think for what it does/recommends/suggests, it is a good book. I think it’s a worthwhile read, particularly for people who live in rural areas, whether they are “leaders” in those communities, or business owners, or just the people who live there (assuming they do not want their communities to die).

Cumulative page total = 31,260

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:17 pm

95. The Rose Code / Kate Quinn
4.5 stars
648 pages

Osla, Mab and Beth are recruited to work at Bletchley Park in 1940. It’s very secret and they are not allowed to talk about their work decoding German messages to help the soldiers at the front (even amongst themselves, as they work in different areas). They all have very different backgrounds, but with Osla and Mab boarding at Beth’s house, they become fast friends. Osla, a well-off debutante, has been dating Prince Philip of Greece; Mab is looking for a husband; Beth is very quiet and shy and will not say a peep to her overbearing mother who takes her for granted.

But something happens. One of the girls ends up in an asylum, and in 1947, she sends a note to the other two to come, even though things ended with bad blood between them all.

Probably the only thing I didn’t like was the convenience of the timing of an event near the end. Thinking more about it, they likely would still have figured it out (in a different way) before the very end. And wow! I was surprised at how much in this story was real! The characters, some based wholly on a real person and some on a mix of people. But even the events… so many of them really happened.

Cumulative page total = 31,908

Redigerat: aug 7, 11:18 pm

96 Memories of a Anne Frank / Alison Leslie Gold
3.5 stars
143 pages

Hannah Goslar was Anne Frank’s best friend before the Holocaust. This book includes some of her memories of Anne, in addition to her own memories of that time. She and her family remained in Amsterdam (not in hiding) much longer than Anne, but her family also ended up in a couple of concentration camps. In fact, Hannah and Anne did see each other (through a barbed wire fence) at Bergen-Belsen. The book was a result of the author’s interviews with Hannah.

It’s written quite simply and it’s short, so it is a fast read; I believe it is meant as YA. There were even some photographs of Hannah’s (that she managed to hold on to through and after the war) that included Hannah, her family, and photos with Anne. There wasn’t as much about Anne, specifically as I’d hoped, but that’s ok. What was there was interesting, as well as learning about Hannah and her family’s experiences.

Cumulative page total = 32,051

aug 9, 11:22 pm

97. Auggie & Me / R. J. Palacio
4 stars
304 pages

This is three short stories, each from a different child’s POV. “Wonder”, of course, is the main book from Auggie’s perspective, and these are three other kids who came into contact with Auggie in some way. Two of these children (Charlotte and Julian) are in the 5th grade when Auggie Pullman comes to their school. Auggie has a facial deformity, and it’s extreme.

Chris was a friend of Auggie’s since they were babies, but moved away a few years before the events of Auggie’s current story. But they did stay in touch, so Chris’s story follows him on a bad day at school, in addition to flashing back to memories of Auggie, then Auggie is brought in to Chris’s current day.

Charlotte and Julian (and one other kid, Jack) are asked to welcome Auggie to the school. Charlotte is nice enough to Auggie, but doesn’t consider him a friend, and Julian just bullies Auggie (and turns others at the school against him).

I’ve read “The Julian Chapter” before but it’s been a long time, so I decided to reread it, in addition to the other two. I liked it the least of the three, likely because Julian (despite this one being from his POV) is a little s**t (though I did like his grandmother’s story). I’m giving it (this time around) 3.5 stars (good). On checking back, I am in agreement with the first time I read this.

The other two, I thought were really good. I really enjoyed Chris’s story and it probably had the most of Auggie in it. I also really liked Charlotte’s story, but it had the least of Auggie. It followed her as her best friend ditched her to hang out with the popular girls; Charlotte herself then got a part in a big dance performance at school with two other girls.

Cumulative page total = 32,355

aug 11, 10:04 pm

98. Milk Glass Moon / Adriana Trigiani
3 stars
304 pages

This is the third book in the “Big Stone Gap” trilogy. Ave Maria’s daughter Etta is now a teenager (or almost? Anyway, by the end of the book, she’s 18). I don’t know that there’s really a plot. It’s their relationship as Etta grows up, and Etta making stupid teenage mistakes/decisions. There are a couple of trips to New York (for Ave Maria) and to Italy (for the entire family (I think)). And there are some good secondary characters.

So, without an actual plot, and it moved pretty slow… and teenage girls. It was ok, can’t say much more than that for me. I loved Ave Maria’s best friend (at first), but she also made a stupid decision that I was quite disgusted with later (you’d think she was the teenager!). I think I’m very much like Ave Maria. I’m not a parent, but it wouldn’t surprise me if I had been, that I’d be similar to her.

I listened to the audio, read by the author herself. She has a slightly monotone voice, but also has a Southern accent (I always thought she’d have an Italian accent!). It did keep my interest, for the most part, it just wasn’t a terribly exciting book. And oops, I thought it was a trilogy, but it appears there is a 4th book. I think I am unlikely to pick it up.

Cumulative page total = 32,659

aug 13, 10:01 pm

99. Solar System: Our Place in Space / Rosemary Mosco, Jon Chad (Ill.)
4 stars
128 pages

This is a graphic novel. The premise is that one kid is home sick and bored. Her friend comes by with a book about the solar system, so they invent a spaceship (with their pets as the fictional crew) to travel throughout the solar system – to the sun, then to all the planets and “belts” in between them and slightly beyond, where they learn about where they are visiting.

This is aimed toward kids, but I learned some stuff about the solar system, as well. I really enjoyed this. The pets as crew was kind of silly, but likely appealing to kids. I liked that there was a summary at the end of each planetary visit to explain some of the things learned. I also liked that they stopped at Pluto, even though it is no longer considered a planet. And I also enjoyed learning about a few of the planets’ moons. It was unfortunate temperatures were only in Fahrenheit, however. The illustrator did a really nice job, as well; the illustrations are all in colour.

Cumulative page total = 32,787

aug 13, 10:56 pm

100. Twopence to Cross the Mersey / Helen Forrester
4 stars
372 pages

This is the author’s memoir of when she was a child. She was the oldest of seven siblings, and at 12(?) years old, her well-off parents declared bankruptcy. It was the 1930s, and they moved to Liverpool, where Helen’s father had grown up, but there was a crazy amount of unemployment there. The family was very poor for a long time and Helen (though she should have been in school until 14) was kept home to look after the youngest kids while her mother first got over an illness, then went to work herself.

Oh, how frustrating were those parents, especially Helen’s mother! How irresponsible of them! They were renting pretty furniture for the living room, while their kids (and themselves) didn’t have enough to eat. And they didn’t have proper beds, clothes, or blankets, either. Helen, though, seemed to be the worst off for food. Even her mother got more (though not always) because she needed to be presentable for work; this is also why the others got more – they needed to be presentable (as much as possible, anyway) for school.

When Helen was finally able to get a job (though that took a lot of fighting on her part, as her parents (particularly her mother) still wanted her to stay home with the younger kids), and she eventually managed to hold on to a little bit of money to buy herself some new clothes (well, new to her), her mother would often either “borrow” them and wear them out herself, or she would just pawn them, often to pay the people coming to collect on what they were owed.

I’ll add that this actually included a second part to the memoir called “Liverpool Miss”. It did end a bit abruptly, though with an epilogue by Helen’s son to explain where Helen eventually ended up (in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) and how she got there. But with regard to the abrupt ending to Helen’s part of the story, it does seem there is a continuation. I will be putting it on my tb

Cumulative page total = 33,159

aug 16, 11:10 pm

101. The Book of Cold Cases / Simone St. James
4 stars
294 pages

Shea is a blogger with a focus on true crime. Her day job is in a doctor’s office, and when she recognizes a woman who walks in, she can’t help but follow her in hopes of talking to her. Turns out the woman is Beth Greer, who was on trial and acquitted of murdering two random men back in 1977. In 1975, her mother died in a car crash; in 1972, her father was murdered in a home invasion. It’s been almost 40 years, but Beth agrees to talk to Shea… at Beth’s home. Beth’s home hasn’t changed a bit since the 70s and it’s creepy. Not only that, weird things happen when Shea is there.

So, there’s actually more going on in the book than in my summary, but I didn’t want to give it all away. I really liked it. It was a bit of a mash of “true crime”/mystery plus horror/ghosts/supernatural going on in the book, but it’s all stuff I like, so it was all good.

Cumulative page total = 33,453

aug 16, 11:29 pm

102. The Garden of Evil: The True Story of Herb Baumeister... / Genoveva Ortiz
4 stars
82 pages

Herb Baumeister was a psychopath who likely started killing in the 70s. He was a closeted gay man who occasionally frequented gay bars (even though he was married), not only for “illicit” sex, but to find victims. He was an odd child, with an odd sense of humour, and he grew up to be an odd man, who often put people off.

This is another in a series of true crime books meant for readers who may not be as strong, and I think some people notice it, but I don’t (I’ve read a few in the series now). It is shorter, though, so things move quickly in the book… It’s an interesting story. Making me wonder if I should pick up another book about this guy. They don’t even know how many people he might have killed – they have confirmed eight and it might be as high as twenty. There is one serial killer dubbed the I-70 killer and I don’t believe that case was ever closed, but some think Herb was the killer there, as well.

Cumulative page total = 33,535

Redigerat: aug 17, 7:17 am

>131 LibraryCin: - A bit of trivia...and this is in U.S pounds and ounces. My friend who is a math-wiz wanted to have some fun with your collective page count. He wanted to see how much your book would weigh if all those 33,535 pages you have read thus far, were all put into one single book. Your book, right now...would weigh 114,354.35 pounds!!! Yeah...he has nothing else to do:)

aug 17, 10:47 pm

>132 Carol420: LOL! Nice! Well, that was amusing, anyway. Thank you for that. :-)

I mostly keep track because I want to figure out my average page count / book at the end of the year.

(And it's a good thing I recently re-added, because I did make an error a while back. I did notice it, when I figured out an average that seemed way too high, so I finally took time to re-add!)

aug 19, 10:34 pm

103. Anne: An Adaptation of Anne of Green Gables (Sort of) / Kathleen Gros
3.5 stars
299 pages

This is a graphic novel adaptation of “Anne of Green Gables”. It’s also set in a more current time period. Most of the characters are in it, and many of the events, but not all. There is more diversity in this one.

The characters had pretty much the same personalities (as in the original), but it was a bit odd to have Matthew and Marilla living in an apartment (called the Avon-Lea) in a city. It was good, but it’s just so hard to live up to the original. That being said, it’s probably not the original book in my mind (I have read it twice, but it’s been a while), but the CBC miniseries from the mid-80s, which remains one of my all-time favourite movies. I liked the artwork.

Cumulative page total = 33,834

aug 20, 3:42 pm

104. The Animal Dialogues / Craig Childs
3 stars
337 pages

The author has spent a lot of time in nature. This book brings together essays he has written on various animals/wildlife he has come into contact with in his travels, along with extra information about those animals.

I listened to the audio, and it was ok. Similar to short stories, I found some more interesting than others, but it was easier than I’d have liked to become distracted when listening. Some of the ones I was able to keep a bit more focus on: mosquito (and maybe not one one would have thought an essay to be written on!), squid, wasp, coyote, raven, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, praying mantis. There were quite a few chapters on different birds, but I did lose focus on some of those (though I love birds!). I was definitely less interested in fish and his exploits fly-fishing.

Cumulative page total = 34,171

Redigerat: aug 20, 11:12 pm

105. One Thousand White Women / Jim Fergus
3.5 stars
314 pages

In 1875, the US Government made a deal with the Cheyenne to provide them with 1000 white women to marry (according to the author’s note, this was a real request, but it was never agreed to… except for purposes of this book). They would have the indigenous men’s children, then raise them in a white world, thereby being a bridge between the two cultures. The women would also help to assimilate/convert the indigenous peoples. The women were to be volunteers.

May Dodd (along with some others), had been living in an asylum. She had children with a man who wasn’t her husband; they lived together and were very happy. But this made her promiscuous, according to her family, and therefore insane so she should live the rest of her life in an asylum. This deal to be a wife to a Cheyenne man provided May a way out of the asylum. Other women also agreed to this, some from asylums, others who might have been incarcerated. Some maybe just wanted the adventure.

This was told mostly in diary form, with a few letters, as well. It started off pretty slow for me, but got better once the women were living with the Cheyenne. I quite liked many of the characters and the friendships that developed between them. I also think the book did a good job of showing the culture shock, and the women trying to fit in to this new culture.

The tension increased with a big event toward the end of the book, and I did like the way it ended with a couple of external voices to the main part of the story. I wasn’t sure at first, but I ended up liking it enough to read the sequel. I almost increased my rating just slightly, but decided to keep it at “good”, as that’s where it sat for the bulk of the book.

Cumulative page total = 34,485

aug 25, 11:07 pm

106. Plain Truth / Jodi Picoult
4 stars
405 pages

When an Amish teenager has a baby in a barn, and that baby is found dead later, she denies having had a baby. But when she needs to go to the hospital because she’s bleeding heavily, there is no doubt. But Katie continues to deny having had a baby. Ellie is a distant relation and a defense lawyer. She has come to visit (her cousin? Aunt?) Leda who is also related, and Ellie is roped into taking Katie’s case.

This was good, a bit slow through most of it, but even so, I liked the story enough that I was close to rating it 4 stars. The very end made up my mind to give it that extra boost up to 4. Because Ellie ended up living on Katie’s farm with her and her family (part of the bail conditions), it was interesting to learn a lot more about Amish culture.

Cumulative page total = 34,890

Redigerat: okt 7, 4:25 pm

I think I have September figured out. September! (I will probably do this exclamation every month till the end of the year now!)

- Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller / Sarah Miller (Read Thru Time)
- John Hughes: A Life in Film / Kirk Honeycutt (Subdue the Shelf)
- The First Four Years / Laura Ingalls Wilder (RandomKIT, SeriesCAT)
- The Haunting of Blackwood House / Darcy Coates (ScaredyKIT)
- The Stranger Diaries / Elly Griffiths (MysteryKIT, AphaKIT)
- The Flight Attendant / Chris Bohjalian (PBT B-day)
- Science Comics: Crows / Kyle Vand... (AlphaKIT
- The Big Book of Irony / Jon Winokur (PBT Trim)
- Burning Bright / Tracy Chevalier
- I Escaped from Auschwitz / Rudolf Vrba (AlphatKIT)
- The Discovery of the Titanic / RDB
- All Things Slip Away / Katherine Meyer Griffith

- The Last Tudor / Philippa Gregory

- West Heart Kill / Dann McDorman (NG)
- House Aretoli / K.M. Butler

aug 29, 10:44 pm

107. The Four Winds / Kristin Hannah
4 stars
464 pages

When Elsa, told over and over by her parents that she is unattractive and won’t amount to anything, finds a boy who likes her (Rafe), she ends up pregnant. Their parents force them to marry, and though Elsa loves Rafe, he does not seem to return the love. By the mid-1930s, they have two kids: Loreda (13) and Anthony (aka Ant, 7?), but life on the farm in the Texas panhandle during the Dust Bowl is incredibly difficult. So difficult, Rafe up and leaves. Elsa, her kids, and his parents (who have grown to love Elsa light a daughter) are left to struggle on their own. After too many dust storms and Ant getting too ill from all the dust, the three of them pack up and head to California. Of course, California is not the place it was made out to be: “the land of milk and honey” it wasn’t!

This was another slow-moving book, but she did such an amazing job describing the conditions – the dust storms and the struggles in Texas, as well as living conditions and struggle for survival once they got to California. It went in a direction I didn’t expect toward the end. It did remind me of “The Grapes of Wrath”, though I don’t recall details on that one; it’s been a long time since I read it.

Cumulative page total = 35,354

Redigerat: sep 1, 11:47 pm

108. The September House / Carissa Orlando
4 stars
336 pages

Margaret and Hal bought a beautiful Victorian home – their dream home – but didn’t realize what they were in for. After a few years, their adult daughter, Katherine (who doesn’t have the best relationship with her parents) still hasn’t been to visit, but the past month or so, every time she calls, her mother has an excuse as to why her father is unable to speak with her. Katherine wants to know what’s going on, and insists on visiting.

Meanwhile, this is the start of the 4th September they’ve been in this house. Septembers are bad. Much worse than the rest of the year. You see, Margaret has learned the rules of the house, but they tend to go out the window in September. Margaret has been living with a large variety of ghosts – mostly happily, as the bulk of the ghosts do not mean harm. She just needed to get used to them and their rules… in addition to their mutilated looks. In fact, one of the ghosts, Fredericka, was a servant and is happy to continue serving Margaret. Hal wasn’t able to see all the ghosts, but was able to see a couple, the boy, Elias who is ok if you stay out of his way, but he looks intimidating and will bite you if you get close enough. Worse, though, is Master Vale in the basement. He definitely wants to do harm. About a month earlier, Hal begged Margaret to leave with him, but Margaret refused to leave their dream home. She knows and follows the rules, so it will all be ok.

But with Hal gone (though Margaret won’t admit that to Katherine), Katherine wants to find out what’s going on. But Margaret can’t let Katherine see the ghosts! (Or the bleeding walls. Or hear the screams.) What would she think!? But its September and the ghosts are just ramping up for the worst month of the year.

I really liked this. There are definitely gruesome parts, but there were humourous bits mixed in, as well. I liked the ending. Things went one way then another. I thought it was done well. I loved that Margaret insisted on finding ways to live with the ghosts. Once she figured out the rules, things were ok (except maybe in September!).

Cumulative page total = 35,690

Redigerat: sep 1, 11:50 pm

109. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue / V. E. Schwab
3.5 stars
448 pages

In the early 18th century, Addie makes a deal to get her out of her upcoming wedding. She wants freedom and gains that with her deal… but she is also cursed to be forgotten by everyone as soon as she is out of sight. She is even unable to speak her own name. She is also now going to live forever, or until she’s ready to give in. But she’s stubborn. After 300 years, amazingly, she stumbles across someone who remembers her the next day. How is this possible? After she had resigned herself to being alone and forgotten.

I loved Henry and the story with him and Addie. I listened to the audio, and often lost interest when Luc would appear, so I likely missed much of that part of the story. Thinking back on the book as I write this, though, I debate about rating it 3 stars (ok) rather than 3.5 (good). I don’t like doing that, though. While I was listening, I was happy to rate it “good”. I just suspect that rating will “decrease” with time and memory of the book (since it already has just a little).

Cumulative page total = 36,138

Redigerat: sep 4, 1:49 pm

110. Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller / Sarah Miller
3.5 stars
232 pages

This is a fictional account of a young Annie Sullivan (20-years old) who shows up to teach deaf and blind Helen Keller in the late 1800s. It is told from Annie’s point of view, as she tries to get through to a stubborn, tantrum-filled, overindulged 6-year old who cannot see nor hear.

This is fairly short and ends only after about a month of Annie living with the Kellers, just after the well-known breakthrough of spelling water on Helen’s hand to try to get her to understand. Assuming it stayed fairly accurate to true life, the parents and family of Helen sure didn’t help, as they just gave in her tantrums, feeling badly because she was unable to understand why they might deny her what she wanted. It’s short (meant as YA, I think), but it has definitely made me want to read more, probably nonfiction. I liked that there was a broad continuation at the end of the book that quickly explained more of Helen and Annie’s lives together. Because Annie did stay with Helen (though she also got married) for the rest of her (Annie’s) life.

Cumulative page total = 36,370

sep 4, 10:09 pm

111. John Hughes: A Life in Film / Kirk Honeycutt
3.5 stars
212 pages

The book looks more at John Hughes’ movies (with a longer focus on the most popular ones in the 80s and 90s) than at his life, but there are bits and pieces of his life thrown in. For those who don’t know he either directed, produced, and/or screenwrote “The Breakfast Club”, “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, “Pretty in Pink”, “Home Alone”, among many other movies of the time.

It’s about the size of a coffee table book, and there are lots of nice photos included, mostly of the movies being discussed, but of course also of John Hughes himself, only a few with his wife and kids, though he was apparently a big family man.

I was a teenager in the 80s, so the first half or so of the book was more interesting to me, as that was the focus on the 80s teen movies. It was interesting to read about his relationships with the actors and how he made the films. He got along very well with the younger actors, but he was not great at communications with other producers, directors, etc, who he had working on his films (firing many via a third party with no explanation!). He had a particularly close relationship with John Candy, so that was interesting to read about. (Movies Hughes did that starred John Candy included “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”, “Uncle Buck”, “The Great Outdoors”.)

Cumulative page total = 36,582

sep 6, 10:17 pm

112. The Big Book of Irony / Jon Winokur
2 stars
168 pages

Nonfiction book that looks at irony. There is a little bit of explanation, but mostly quotations as examples.

I still don’t understand. By definition, it still sounds like sarcasm to me. Examples didn’t help. In addition, there are about 50,000 different types of irony, apparently. (OK, slight exaggeration.) A few examples were amusing (Billy Joel’s 11-year old daughter asking him not to sing – is this ironic?), but still didn’t help me understand. It started with explanations of the different types of irony, then a history of irony (all with examples). There were various examples of authors using irony, irony in pop culture (Alanis Morissette’s song, of course, mentioned more than once that those things aren’t ironic; The Simpsons, and other examples). At least it was fast to read. I liked that there were a number of Canadian examples. But I still don’t “get” it. Honestly, with all the various different types of irony, I’m probably more confused than ever.

Cumulative page total = 36,750

sep 9, 11:15 pm

113. Crows: Genius Birds / Kyla Vanderklugt
4 stars
125 pages

This is a graphic novel aimed at kids, this one with a focus on crows. Crows (along with other corvids) are extremely smart. They are also very social creatures. The “story” in this graphic novel has a crow breaking a dog out of his yard. As the crow tells the dog all about crows, the dog helps the crow get to food in the green bins along the street.

This is so well done and I think anyone can learn from these. There are things crows do that remind me of humans. And that is commented on in the book. One thing I didn’t know that crows are very good imitators (with sounds!). It’s part of a series called “Science Comics” and it is so good. This is the 2nd book I’ve read in the series (and I plan to read more) and they’ve both been very good and I have learned things! The illustrations are also very well done, including images of a couple of things in their actual size.

Cumulative page total = 36,875

sep 10, 11:12 pm

114. The Discovery of the Titanic / Robert Ballard
3.5 stars
339 pages

Robert Ballard was a scientist who wanted to explore the ocean in hopes of finding the Titanic wreckage. This tells of his journey to do so (he was part of the first team to discover where it was on the ocean floor in 1985), as he created some of the video technology to do that.

This was mostly good. There were a few parts that got bogged down in detail explaining the technology or what was working (or not) that was, at times, a bit too much for me. As with many nonfiction books, it was a slow read, but overall, I still liked it. It was unfortunate that, in finding the wreckage, others followed suit and “raided” the site. Ballard had hoped that everything would remain there in its own graveyard, but of course, that didn’t happen, in the end. At the time, he was surprised at how much interest there still was in the Titanic. I did like how he would sometimes explain what they were seeing as they explored, then tie it to the real people and/or happenings on the ship in 1912. There were some amazing (colour) photographs in the book, as well – pictures of what he saw when he was underwater looking at the Titanic.

Cumulative page total = 37,214

sep 11, 11:26 pm

115. The Flight Attendant / Chris Bohjalian
3.75 stars
368 pages

Cassie is a flight attendant and in Dubai for one night. She is also a party girl and usually drinks too much. A passenger was flirting with her on the plane, so she ends up at his hotel for the night. When she wakes the next morning, having blacked out for the part of the night before, she turns to see Alex was murdered in the night! Did she do this? She doesn’t think she would do something like this, blackout drunk or no! But she can’t remember. If it wasn’t her, why did someone kill Alex, but not her? What does she do now…?

This started off really good, but I have to admit I wasn’t as interested in some parts (possible like the Russian spy stuff and when the reader followed the “bad guys”). But following Cassie as she tried to figure out what to do certainly kept me interested. And knowing and following the “bad guys” separately did keep up the tension in parts of the book, so there was a reason for it.

Cumulative page total = 37,582

sep 13, 11:21 pm

116. The Haunting of Blackwood House / Darcy Coates
4 stars
320 pages

When Mara falls in love with Blackwood House – a huge house but under her budget to buy – the creepy murderous history of the place doesn’t deter her in the least. She is adamant that ghosts don’t exist. You see, she grew up in a house with parents who were spiritualists. They wanted little girl Mara to train with a medium to hone her skills they were sure she had. For the past four years, though, Mara has avoided her parents and does not believe even a little bit in ghosts; there are always rational explanations. Her super-supportive boyfriend, Neil, has reservations, but will help out with the house however he is able.

It was a slow-moving book, and maybe not super-original, but it was scary. I had a hard time heading to the basement to clean my cats’ litter box the one evening I’d been reading the book! Because of that, it gets a high rating from me. The book did its job to scare me, as any good horror should.

Cumulative page total = 37,902

sep 16, 4:41 pm

117. The Last Tudor / Philippa Gregory
4 stars
529 pages

This is a fictional account of the lives of the three Grey sisters, the granddaughters of Mary Tudor (Henry VIII’s youngest sister). The eldest, Jane (at only 15-years old), became queen for only 9 days after Henry’s son, Edward died. She was later beheaded after Mary I (Henry’s oldest daughter) became queen. Katherine later secretly married for love, and both she and her husband were imprisoned for the rest of Katherine’s life, by Elizabeth I. The youngest, Mary, who had a curve in her spine that kept her under 4’ (?) tall, also secretly married for love, and she and her husband were also imprisoned when found out.

I have read quite a bit about Jane, and only one or two other books about Katherine and Mary, but I just didn’t recall very much about Katherine and Mary, so I was kept interested. With regards to Elizabeth I, this book sure looked at a different side to her, where she was so very worried about being outsted by others in her family to take over the throne. Katherine and Mary were next in line since Elizabeth had no children (alongside Mary of Scots, granddaughter to Margaret Tudor, Henry VIII’s oldest sister, Margaret, but she was Catholic). I listened to the audio and had no problem with it.

Cumulative page total = 38,431

sep 17, 3:43 pm

118. Burning Bright / Tracy Chevalier
3.5 stars
327 pages

When Masie and Jem’s (both teenagers) family moves from the country to London in 1792, they are fairly unprepared for big city life. They end up living next door to a man, Philip Astley (and his son), who run a circus, and another neighbour is poet and printer (publisher), William Blake. A fast friend (especially to Jem) comes in outgoing neighbour, Maggie. This is during the time of the Revolution in France, which does have an effect on the people in London.

This was another slow moving book, but overall it was good. It took a bit to learn the characters, especially with Maggie and Maisie – I think I had to sometimes stop and think for a minute every time one or the other was newly introduced into a scene. The story is mostly from Jem and Maggie’s points of view. Apparently Philip Astley was also a real person and created the first circus.

Cumulative page total = 38,758

sep 21, 11:14 pm

119. The Stranger Diaries / Elly Griffiths
4 stars
408 pages

Clare is a high school English teacher and has a teenage daughter, Georgie. Clare works at a school where a short story writer used to live. Clare is quite obsessed with this writer, R.M. Holland, and his gothic short story, “The Stranger”. When Clare’s best friend, and fellow English teacher, Ella, is murdered, there are parallels to “The Stranger”, including a note left behind with a quote from the story. Things become even stranger when someone starts writing more quotes in Clare’s diary!

I quite liked this. It was slow moving (as gothic stories tend to be), and I considered rating it just a bit lower, but the end definitely caught me by surprise! The book was from multiple different points of view: Clare’s, Georgie’s, and Harbinder Kaur, the main detective on the case. I was least interested in Harbinder’s POV; unfortunately, that’s where the series will continue, but I’ll give the next one a try, anyway. I’m not a big fan of “stories within a story”, though, so I tended to skim over the excerpts of “The Stranger”. I paid a bit closer attention at the end of the book when it was written out in full, however.

Cumulative page total = 39,166

Redigerat: sep 25, 11:00 pm

121. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend / Katarina Bivald
3 stars
394 pages

Sara is from Sweden and has been writing letters to Amy in Broken Wheel Iowa for a while now. They share a love of books and reading. When Sara decides to visit Amy, she arrives to find that Amy has passed away! But the townspeople in this small town know all about Sara coming to visit and are very welcoming to this (their only) tourist! They invite her to stay and won’t even let her pay for anything. It gets to a point where Sara is bored and decides to open a bookstore (which is not allowed on her visa, but she is not being paid, either; she just wants something to do).

I listened to the audio and this was ok. Pretty slow moving and I did lose focus at points so didn’t fully follow some of the townspeople’s activities and even missed who some of the people were. The book references were fun, and it’s a cute story.

Cumulative page total = 39,560

Redigerat: sep 25, 11:00 pm

122. Birds of Prey: Terrifying Talons / Joe Flood
4 stars
125 pages

This is another graphic novel in the kids’ series “Science Comics”. This one focused on diurnal raptors/birds of prey (owls are also raptors, but they are nocturnal, so are not included in this book). Some things described in the book include their various body parts, what they hunt and how, how they fly, mating, and loss of habitat and human threats (like DDT, which of course, was banned in the early 70s), and probably more I’m forgetting at this moment.

These are so good with so much information. I’ll never remember even half of it probably, but it’s done so well, and the (colour) illustrations are beautiful. Even simple things I probably should have known like what characteristics distinguish a raptor. It was interesting to see the close-up illustrations of the birds, like their beaks and talons to distinguish, as I am never likely to see that in person! I am enjoying this entire series so much.

Cumulative page total = 39,685

Redigerat: sep 25, 11:00 pm

123. Plague! Epidemics and Scourges Through the Ages / John Farndon
3.5 stars
32 pages

This is a very short picture book aimed at kids. It discusses various major fatal diseases and epidemics throughout history, including the “Black Death”, various plagues, cholera, yellow fever, Spanish flu, smallpox, typhus, and more.

The colour illustrations are done very well and the information is provided (it’s meant for a young audience) is short tidbits. It’s a very fast read. One interesting thing I learned why doctors used those scary looking bird masks when dealing with the plague. I mean, I “get” why a mask, but why with long beaks…? Now I know.

Cumulative page total = 39,717

sep 25, 11:00 pm

Ah, shoot, I missed posting one! For the moment, I'll add in "bare bones"

120. The First Four Years / Laura Ingalls Wilder
4 stars
143 pages

Cumulative page total = 39,860

sep 25, 11:01 pm

124. All Things Slip Away / Kathryn Meyer Griffith
4 stars
305 pages

Artist and widow Abby has been living on the town of Spookie for a year or two now (?). She is good friends with retired detective, Frank. When a local girl who works at the grocery store disappears, the town is on edge. When a little mud clay doll appears, Frank knows it’s a serial killer, whom he thought he’d killed 10 years earlier in Chicago, back to kidnap and murder again. This time in Frank’s small town.

I really liked this. There were parts from the killer’s POV, and honestly, most of the time when that’s included in a book, I don’t find those parts interesting, but that was not the case with this book. I was also engaged in those parts. The book takes place throughout the Fall including Halloween and up to Christmas, so it felt like a “nice” (well, as nice as serial killer mysteries go!) Fall read. Have to admit, though, there was more than once where I said to myself – call the police! Don’t do these things yourself (and that includes “talking to” Frank – he’s not a cop, anymore!). This was the 2nd book in a series, but to be honest, I remember next to nothing of the first book, so I would say you don’t need to read the first one first.

Cumulative page total = 40,165

sep 29, 1:53 pm

125. The Last Thing He Told Me / Laura Dave
3.5 stars
336 pages

Reread via audio. I read this the first time as an ARC about 2.5 years ago (and gave it 4 stars at the time).

Summary from the first time I read it: “Hannah has been married to Owen for two years. Owen had a daughter previously, Bailey, who is now 16-years old. One day, Owen just doesn’t come home again. He sends a note to Hannah that just says “Protect her”. As Hannah hears on the news, the owner of the company Owen has been working for has been arrested and charged with fraud.”

2023 reread: I only remembered how it started, with Owen disappearing and leaving Hannah the note to “Protect her”. I thought I remembered the very end, but not quite – not how we got there. And I had it slightly wrong, anyway. In any case, this time around, listening to the audio, I found it a bit slow to start and (maybe I missed the reasoning), but I found it odd that Hannah would figure out to head to Austen to go looking for Owen, or answers. I actually didn’t like the way it ended; personally, I didn’t think she made the right decision on that.

Cumulative page total = 40,501

sep 30, 1:40 am

126. West Heart Kill / Dann McDorman
3.25 stars
288 pages

Adam McAnnis is a detective heading out for a weekend to a college friend’s hunting lodge. It’s the 1970s and the people who are members of this lodge have known each other pretty much all their lives. When a storm hits while they are there, blocking any way to or from the lodge, people start turning up dead.

I thought this was clever. My synopsis is the actual mystery part, but much of the book was done in different styles. That is, much of the book was told directly from the author to the reader, breaking the “fourth wall”. We went off on various tangents talking about what might happen, traditionally (or not), at various parts of a mystery story. Also, there were tangents that focused on classic mystery authors and stories. Again, I thought clever and very different.

I also thought the atmosphere was done well – I definitely pictured the ‘70s hunting lodge: all brown wood paneling with hunted animal heads on the walls and such. But, I also found it quite “literary” and a bit dry. I certainly didn’t care about the people. I did, however, like the twist near the end – that, I definitely didn’t see coming. I also liked the way things were revealed at the end. Again, the author changed the way he was telling the story, and this time, it was done in the style of a play. I didn’t mind all the different things going on in how it was told, but I guess there was a lot going on that way. Mostly because I found the story quite dry, I am rating it “ok”, but with an extra ¼ star for the uniqueness of the book.

Cumulative page total = 40,789

Redigerat: okt 29, 3:55 pm

In October:

- The Woman in the Library / S G (MysteryKIT)
- This Place: 150 Years Retold / Misc authors (Read Thru Time)
- Missing You / Harlan Coben (AlphaKIT, RandomKIT)
- Dial A for Aunties / Jesse Q. Sutanto
- Rich People Problems / Kevin Kwan (SeriesCAT)
- The Colony / John Tayman (PBT Bday)
- A Book in Every Hand / Don Kerr
(PBT Trim)
- Horseman / Christine Henry (Fall Flurries)
- Secret Santa / Andrew S (Fall Flurries, PBT)
- A Time for Mercy / John Grisham (StS)

- Invisible Ellen / SS
- Spinning Silver / Naomi Novik
(AlphaKIT, PBT, KiddyCAT)
- When the Stars Go Dark / Paula McLain (Nov book club)

- House Aretoli / K. M. Butler (ER)

okt 7, 4:25 pm

127. House Aretoli / K. M. Butler
3.75 stars
404 pages

In 14th century Venice, when Niccolo and Flavio’s father was murdered by high-ranking senators, the city doge wants to cover it up. Their father was also high-ranking, in politics and as a merchant. Niccolo and Flavio have different ideas on how they want to settle things. Flavio makes a deal with the doge to keep things quiet in exchange for some perks, whereas Niccolo just wants revenge. But he is, of course, in danger with this attitude, so must leave the city to figure out how he will exact that revenge. Their two sisters and younger brother are torn on which brother they agree with.

I didn’t think Niccolo’s stance was terribly brilliant, but of course, I live in a very different place and time. So, initially I agreed with Flavio (in part… not necessarily with the deal he made, just that violence might not be the way to go). Of course, things didn’t quite go as Flavio had hoped. I actually was a bit bored with the very start of the book (up until their father was killed), but from that point on, it got much better, I thought. It was interesting to read the author’s note afterward – though the Aretoli family was fictional, there was a bit of a “mystery” surrounding the doge at that time in Venice, and some of the other characters were also based on real people.

Cumulative page total = 41,193

okt 7, 4:51 pm

128. Invisible Ellen / Shari Shattuck
3 stars
304 pages

Ellen, who grew up in the foster system and group homes, has always felt invisible. She works nights at Costco and doesn’t have any friends. When a blind woman on her bus is attacked, Ellen intervenes to help out, and the blind woman (Temerity) and Ellen become fast friends. In fact, they start (mostly at Temerity’s urging) getting themselves involved in various neighbours’ and coworkers’ lives, including the single pregnant neighbour, the neighbour who has been shot, and a coworker who is being sexually harassed by the boss.

I listened to the audio, and though it started off well, I tended to lose interest as we went along. There was a lot going on, and I had to wonder about the two of them sticking their noses into everyone’s business. Overall, I’m rating it ok for me.

Cumulative page total = 41,497

okt 9, 10:09 pm

129. The Woman in the Library / Sulari Gentill
4 stars
268 pages

Hannah is an author. The bulk of this book is actually Hannah’s book, which follows an author, Freddie (Winifred) who is sitting quietly in the Boston Public Library’s Reading Room, across from three strangers, as she tries to find some inspiration to start a book. When they hear a scream in the library, the four start talking and become fast friends. Early on, Freddie comments that she is conversing with a murderer, but she doesn’t yet know it.

At the end of each chapter, we see a letter coming from Leo, an American (Hannah is Australian, as is her character Freddie). Leo is helping Hannah with her book; he reads and comments on each chapter, as he tries to help with Americanisms and the layout of Boston, etc. But as Hannah’s book continues on, Leo seems to make stranger and stranger comments.

I could say more about the plot in Hannah’s book, with Freddie and her new friends, but maybe I’ll leave the summary there. I usually don’t like a story within a story, but I really liked this one. The letters from Leo really ramped things up a bit (though there were times I took a minute to unscramble things in my head, as we had Freddie, a character in Hannah’s book, using real life events to write her own book. But Leo was reading and commenting on Hannah’s book!). I still thought the letters worked well and it brought an added tension. As for the mystery in Freddie’s world, I thought I had it figured out early on, but not so much! Freddie’s story would probably have gotten 3.5 stars out of me, but add in Leo’s letters to Hannah and that brought my rating up.

Cumulative page total = 41,765

okt 14, 10:43 pm

130. This Place: 150 Years Retold / Misc authors
3.5 stars
286 pages

This is a graphic novel consisting of several short stories by different authors. In its totality, it covers colonization of Canada/Turtle Island, but from the perspective of the Indigenous peoples. There are stories of Metis and Inuit included, as well as ones that focus on specific people and events. It goes in chronological order.

As with many short story anthologies, there were some stories I liked better than others. I wasn’t as interested in the first couple. There were a few I just didn’t understand and a couple that didn’t really end; that is, they just abruptly stopped (I thought). I really liked the stories of the WWII Indigenous soldier, Meech Lake/Oka, the Sixties Scoop, and the environmental one of the pipeline running through Dene Territory (the NorthWest Territories). The illustrations were in colour, and again, I liked some more than others.

Cumulative page total = 42,051

okt 18, 11:04 pm

131. The Colony: the Harrowing True Story of the Exiles of Molokai / John Tayman
3.5 stars
390 pages

Hawaii held a “leper colony” for over 100 years. For a long time, people with leprosy were thought to be very contagious, so from the mid 1800s in Hawaii, they were separated out from the rest of the general public and sent to live in Molokai with other people with the same disease (now called Hansen’s disease). The place was run by a board, with a superintendent on site, but for the first while (over years and a few different superintendents), it was not run well. People didn’t have proper shelter and not enough food. Some people lived the majority of their lives there, and when it finally came time to shut the place down, there were many who didn’t want to leave – where would they go? Would they even be able to support themselves and how would other people treat them?

I found some parts more interesting than others. Some of the biographical info on some of the people who ran the place was not nearly as interesting, I thought, as the patients who were there and the details about their lives (before and) there. The book was quite detailed, and I sometimes did find it plodding. The font was small and it did take a long time to read. Overall, though, I am rating it “good”.

Cumulative page total = 42,441

okt 18, 11:27 pm

132. Missing You / Harlan Coben
4 stars
410 pages

Kat is a police officer. 18 years earlier, not only was her (also police officer) father murdered, her fiance, Jeff, dumped her and she hasn’t seen him since. But she is still in love with him. Imagine her surprise when a friend insists on putting her on a dating site and there is Jeff! She is cryptic when she sends a message and the reply makes it seem like he has no idea who she is.

Meanwhile, a teenaged (?) boy comes to Kat; he thinks his mother is missing, and it’s suspicious. Even though his mother told him she was meeting a man she was dating. The other police Brandon had gone to didn’t believe him, so why is he coming to Kat and why does he think she’ll believe him?

There were a lot of different storylines happening in this book, but I found them all interesting. They did all come together at the end. There were times when we followed the POV of “bad guys” and I often find those parts in many books boring, or at least not nearly as interesting as the rest, but that wasn’t the case with this one. Not sure why that was. Maybe the dog helped! :-)

Cumulative page total = 42,851

okt 21, 6:42 pm

133. Spinning Silver / Naomi Novik
2.75 stars
466 pages

Miryam is a Jewish girl whose father is a moneylender, but he’s “soft” and doesn’t force the matter when people won’t pay him back. When Miryam’s mother gets sick, Miryam takes over for her father and manages to bring in some money. In addition, when one person is unable to pay what is owed, Miryam takes on his daughter, Wanda, to help out to pay back the loan.

In fact, Wanda prefers this than having her father hire her out to do all manner of things, and the abuse he piles upon her. Later on, one of Wanda’s younger brothers also comes to work for Miryam’s family. Miryam, unfortunately, catches the eye of a “winter king” of sorts, and is forced to marry him.

Meanwhile, Irina’s family has plenty of money and Irina is forced to marry the Tzar. She discovers that he seems to be “controlled” by some demon in a fire. The three storylines do converge.

I listened to the audio and was interested in the set up of the story, but it was hard to follow and I missed much of the middle section. We switched perspectives in the story a lot, and there was nothing obvious to indicate when the switch happened. Add to that, many (though not all) Russian names I don’t know and it remained difficult for me to figure out who we were following at various times. There were other perspectives we followed in addition to Miryam, Wanda, and Irina, as well. It always took me a while to figure out whose perspective we were following, so that probably a. took me out of the story, and b. half the time I never did figure it out. I missed too much of the story to rate it any higher, though I wanted to, especially at the start.

Cumulative page total = 43,317

okt 21, 7:00 pm

134. Dial A for Aunties / Jesse Q. Sutanto
4 stars
304 pages

Meddy is an Indonesian-Chinese-American who was raised by her mother and three aunts. The men in the family all seemed to fall under some kind of curse and were no longer around. When Meddy goes to college, she has her first taste of life away from her overbearing family, and falls in love with Nathan. But she doesn’t tell her family about him and when college ends, they break up, though she is still head-over-heels in love with him.

So, Meddy goes back to her family and joins the new family business: weddings. Meddy is the photographer, her mother does the flowers, and her aunts do hair/makeup, the cake, and entertainment. Meddy (being In her mid-20s)’s mother is worried that she is not married yet, so (despite not having great English – this does come into play) she sets up an online dating profile for Meddy – and pretends to be Meddy! And sets up a date.

Unfortunately, things go very wrong on the date, and Jake ends up dead! And Meddy panics and doesn’t know what to do (since she killed him! By accident, but she did)! She goes to her mom and aunts to figure it out. Unfortunately, they also have a large expensive wedding to work the next day. Things continue to go horribly wrong!

This was fun and I really enjoyed it! It was funny and unrealistic, but just so much fun. I was happy to see at the end of the book that there’s a sequel.

Cumulative page total = 43,621

okt 24, 10:48 pm

135. A Book in Every Hand: Public Libraries in Saskatchewan / Don Kerr
3.5 stars
278 pages

This is a history of public libraries in Saskatchewan, with a focus on the regional library system that helped bring books and libraries to rural areas. Saskatchewan once had one of the worst library systems in the country, but it made real efforts to bring it up to one of the best (according to the author and the stats he interpreted).

It doesn’t sound like a super-exciting read, and probably for a lot of people, it may not be. It is probably more of interest to librarians and/or people from Saskatchewan who use or once used their public/regional libraries. I am both a librarian and I grew up in rural Saskatchewan and used our local branch of the Chinook Regional Library. I did find it interesting (mostly) to read about how the different regional systems were formed, the politics, etc. There were a lot of stats and economics included, as well, which all sounds not overly exciting, but it’s written in an accessible way. I did recognize a couple of names, even. Overall, I’m rating this good, but it’s likely to appeal to a pretty specialized audience.

Cumulative page total = 43,899

Redigerat: okt 29, 3:55 pm

136. Secret Santa / Andrew Shaffer
3 stars
220 pages

Lussi has been laid off of her publishing job for a while now and is having trouble finding another job. She was at a horror publisher (it’s the 1980s and horror is very popular!), but she is now interviewing for a position at a snooty high-brow publisher. The interviewer is quite rude, but had a heart attack (I think) at the end of the interview. When his son takes over the publishing company, he gives Lussi the job with the promise that she’ll find him the next Stephen King, in hopes that the company will be able to turn a profilt. But weird things are going on in this old building. And Lussi seems to be a target.

This was ok. Maybe a bit creepy, but I didn’t think all that much. It just wasn’t really all too exciting for me. I didn’t find the characters all that interesting, either. It was definitely 80s, though! There was a little bit of humour at the start, but I didn’t find the funny lasted throughout the book – at least it didn’t seem to for me.

Cumulative page total = 44,119

Redigerat: nov 28, 10:35 pm

For November:

- Kids on a Case: Hunting Black Dragon / Tony Peters (MysteryKIT, PBT?, AlphaKIT)
- All my Patients are Under the Bed / (PBT trim)
- The Fires Beneath the Sea / Lydia Millet (RandomKIT, AlphaKIT)
- OR Paper and Fire / Rachel Caine (RandomKIT)
- A Tangled Web / Mercedes Lackey (KiddyCAT?, AlphaKT)
- Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland / Bill Willingham (KiddyCAT)
- Up Ghost River / Edmund M (Read Thru Time)
- The Porcupine Year / Louise Eldrich (SeriesCAT, Read Thru Time?, AlphaKIT)
- Libriomancer / Jim C. Hines (ScaredyKIT?)
- The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents / Terry Pratchett
(PBT?, AlphaKIT)
- OR Reaper Man / Terry Prachett (PBT?, AlphaKIT)
- Waltz With Bashir / Ari Folman (Fall Flurries)
- When Books Went to War / Molly Guptill Manning (Fall Flurries)

Carry over:
- A Time for Mercy / John Grisham (StS)

- Noir / Christopher Moore (ScaredyKIT?)
Carry over: When the Stars Go Dark / Paula Mclain (book club)

- Lottery of Secrets / Nadija Mujagic (ER)
- Daughter of Calamity / Rosalie M. Lin (NG)
- The Night of the Storm / Nishita Parekh (NG)

nov 3, 10:50 pm

137. A Time for Mercy / John Grisham
4.5 stars
628 pages

When Josee’s boyfriend comes home drunk – again – she is beaten unconscious. Her two teenage kids are locked in one of their bedrooms hiding, but when they hear Stuart (the boyfriend) clomp off to his bedroom and they can’t hear their mother, they are afraid she is dead. When they go down to check, 16-year old Drew turns around to find Stuart passed out on his bed… with his gun beside him. 14-year old Kiera, downstairs with her mother, hears the shot. When the police come, Drew is arrested. In Mississippi, murdering a cop guarantees a capital (death penalty) trial. Defense lawyer Jake Brigance is handed the case.

Another great book by Grisham. I really like Jake and the story was fantastic. Not a short book (are any of Grisham’s short?), but I wanted to keep reading to see what surprises might happen next. Black woman Portia is working for Jake and planning to head to law school; she’s another secondary character I really like. I do hope the series continues.

Cumulative page total = 44,747

nov 4, 4:21 pm

138. The Porcupine Year / Louise Erdrich
3 stars
224 pages

A continuation of two other books to start this series, also a children’s book, set in the mid-1800s, focusing on a young Anishinaabe/Ojibwe girl, Omakayas (Little Frog). This follows another year in her life. Initially she and her younger brother get caught up in some rapids in their canoe and are not sure where they’ve ended up. They do find their way back to their family (who has found some beads belonging to Omakayas and fear the two have died!), along with a pet baby porcupine! Other happenings include coming across a wildfire (as they travel toward more family living elsewhere) and “adopting” two white children. Later on the group is ambushed and robbed, leaving them to struggle to survive.

I didn’t like this one as much as the first two, though that little porcupine was cute! I hate that had to leave the little guy behind at one point while he slept. *sniff *sniff.. I’m not sure why this one didn’t hold my interest as well as the first two in the series, but I did lose focus a few times. (Note: I was not listening to an audio, so can’t blame it on that.) I will continue the series, however.

Cumulative page total = 44,971

nov 4, 10:40 pm

139. Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland / Bill Willingham
3.5 stars
145 pages

Bigby (the Big Bad Wolf) has travelled to a small town in Iowa (Story City) to investigate whether or not Fabletown might relocate nearby. He is surprised by what he discovers there – it’s a town of werewolves! Not only that, the two people who head the town are people from Bigby’s past during WWII. Bigby is known (and revered) amongst all of Story City’s residents. But there is dissent within, and Bigby will get caught up in the “disagreements”.

For those who don’t know, this is a spin-off of the graphic novel Fables series. As with the rest of the series, the colour illustrations are very well done. I have not always been all that interested in Bigby as a character, but I liked this story. It’s been a while since I’ve read any of the Fables series, and it was fun to read another.

Cumulative page total = 45,116

nov 5, 5:39 pm

140. When the Stars Go Dark / Paula McLain
4 stars
384 pages

Annie’s a detective who find missing kids. This has cut into her family time and she has left (at least for now) and headed back to where she grew up with her adoptive parents. When she was younger, a teenager – a couple of years older than Annie – went missing. Now, another teen girl is missing. One of Annie’s childhood friends is heading the investigation and Annie can’t help but get involved to try to help. The girl missing now, Cameron, is the (adopted) daughter of a famous actress, and so far, they’ve been looking without too much fanfare, as Cameron’s parents didn’t want to go to the media with it.

The book goes back and forth in time between the current-day search for Cameron and Annie’s childhood (both her childhood in general (pre- and post-adoption), and the search for the missing girl, Jenny). I listened to the audio book.

I really liked this. I will admit that there were multiple times where I missed who someone was, so it took me a bit of time to figure it out (and I even backed up to the start of the book to catch things I thought I might have missed – I almost never do that, but I was interested enough in what was going on, I wanted to find out). One thing I did like with the audio is that the narrator made it easy to tell which time frame we were in, just by the voice she used for a younger Annie, so I thought that was done well.

There was a short author’s note at the end, so it was interesting to find out one of the missing girls in the book (not either of the two mentioned in my summary) was a real person! And I liked that she decided to set the book pre-internet, pre-cell phone, as well (also talked about in the author’s note).

Cumulative page total = 45,500

nov 6, 11:54 pm

141. When Books Went to War / Molly Guptill Manning
3 stars
230 pages

When the Americans joined WWII, someone had an idea to help with the soldiers’ mental health and morale: give them books to take their mind off things and give them something to do when not fighting. Librarians organized and people donated to the tune of 10 million books! Later on, it was decided that publishers should be creating softcover books (until this time, the vast majority of publishers created hardcover books), so the books would be both smaller and lighter for soldiers to carry with them.

As I read this I wondered if something similar was done for Canadian soldiers, too, but it sounds like this might have been an American thing. Canadians weren’t mentioned, but it seems that the British soldiers were quite jealous of the books the American soldiers had access to. Unfortunately, this book didn’t always hold my interest. There were chapters on politics, and censorship, but I was most interested in the soldiers themselves. There was some description of the fighting and such, but the author also included comments on what the soldiers thought of the books that were sent (hint: for the most part, they loved it!). The last chapter also talked about how many soldiers became readers who hadn’t been before the war. This chapter also talked about how to help the soldiers (with jobs or education) when they came home. Overall, though, due to me losing interest more than I would have liked, I’m rating it “ok”.

Cumulative page total = 45,730

nov 12, 9:36 pm

142. A Tangled Web / Mercedes Lackey
4 stars
91 pages

Persephone is in love with Hades (keeper of the Underworld), and he with her. But her mother, Demeter (goddess of fertility) is way-overprotective and Persephone wants to get out from under her wing. Persephone and Hades come up with a plan to “kidnap” her to the underworld in a way where she wouldn’t be able to come back. Unfortunately, with the help of Hades sometimes-chariot-driver, the wrong goddess is kidnapped!

I really enjoyed this! I learned a little bit about mythology, as well. I’m sure I knew some of this at some point, but most of what I once knew I’ve forgotten! It’s a short story, so it’s fairly quick to read.

Cumulative page total = 45,821

nov 12, 9:57 pm

143. Noir / Christopher Moore
3.25 stars
352 pages

Sammy is a bartender in 1947 San Francisco. Right around the time he starts dating a beautiful “broad” (her name is Stilton, like the cheese, so he nicknames her “The Cheese”), he also finds his boss dead in the back room. In addition to this, the book includes kidnappings, a snake (and there’s more I’m forgetting).

I was listening to the audio and I did miss portions of the book, though I managed to take in the major events of the book. I liked the POV of the snake the couple of times we got that. I gave an extra ¼ star (my usual) for the very good audio with the accents. The phrases and vocabulary was pretty fun, too. Moore’s trademark is humour, so of course, there was a bit of that, too. Moore also had a brief afterward where he talked about where he got the idea for the book, how that went a bit sideways, and the real places that made it into the book. I still think he writes really good historical fiction and this fit the bill for that, too (like with “Lamb”).

Cumulative page total = 46,173

nov 14, 10:49 pm

144. Libriomancer / Jim C. Hines
3.75 stars
321 pages

Isaac is a librarian (a cataloguer), and is horrified when a few vampires come into his library and destroy it (and try to destroy him)! Isaac was also once a libriomancer and a Porter. He was banned from using magic a couple of years back, though, by the secret society of Porters. As a libriomancer, he is able to reach into books and pull things out to use in this world.

It seems that vampires have been hunting down Porters and are trying to start a war (or something) with them. But who is controlling them and why is this happening? Can Isaac help find out what’s going on (with the help of Lena, who herself has come out of a book)?

I enjoyed this. I’m not always a fantasy fan, but as a librarian (and cataloguer), I quite enjoyed that part of the book, and the fact that Isaac (and other libriomancers) was/are able to pull things out of books. That’s pretty cool. I really liked Isaac’s pet fire spider (pulled from a book, of course). I was also a bit amused by the bibliography at the end, which included made up titles in the book. I’d have given it 3.5 stars (good), but wanted to give the extra ¼ star for the librarian who loves to research!

Cumulative page total = 46,494

nov 18, 11:29 pm

145. The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents / Terry Pratchett
3 stars
291 pages

Maurice is a talking cat and has come upon a group of intelligent talking rats. He has vowed not to eat any rat that can talk. They end up working together as they move to a town with the intent of… ok, I’m not exactly sure what their end goal was – money? They were conning people, or planning to. There are two kids who discover them and decide to help when they discover the local rat-catchers were not only catching rats, but behind other bad things, as well.

This was ok. It’s a terrible summary, but there it is. Not as humourous as I remember of the other (few) books I’ve read by Pratchett. I hate footnotes, though, and even more so in fiction, but Pratchett uses them. Luckily, there were not many in this book.

Cumulative page total = 46,785

nov 22, 10:48 pm

145. Up Ghost River / Edmund Metatawabin
4 stars
247 pages

8-year old Indigenous boy, Edmund, was forced to go to a residential school in Northern Ontario in the 1950s and ‘60s. He didn’t want to go but his mother insisted. His mother was very Catholic and trusted that they would take good care of him. Of course, while at St. Anne’s school, the nuns and priests were abusive to him and others. I was going to mention some of the abuses, but I’ve decided not to; a couple of things were not things I’d heard previously. And for Ed, it got worse after he left for high school in a bigger city.

He did marry and have children, and get a university degree, but he also became an alcoholic. In this memoir, Ed details all of this and more.

As mentioned in my summary, despite having read quite a bit about residential schools, there were still a couple of surprising things (not good surprising). Of course, when he finished school, he had issues (the alcoholism), but it was good to see how he got himself better and is doing good to help others, as well. I thought this was really good.

Cumulative page total = 47,032

nov 27, 10:49 pm

146. Paper and Fire / Rachel Caine
2 stars
400 pages

Can’t really give a summary, as I skimmed this book. Something about the Library of Alexandria, I think. And automata (is the plural not automatons?). Shouldn’t have bothered reading it at all. I vaguely recall not being excited about the first book, so I had to check my review. Sounds like I didn’t like the story (may not have followed that story, either), but apparently I liked the characters so decided to try the next one. Shouldn’t have bothered. Nothing interested me in this.

Cumulative page total = 47,432

nov 27, 11:04 pm

147. Carve the Mark / Veronica Roth
2.5 stars
481 pages

I listened to the audio so spellings of names may be off: Akos and Cyra (Sirah, or likely any other number of spellings) are the main characters. They are in space, not sure if they live on different planets, maybe? They spend some time on a spaceship. Cyra’s world is quite violent, but Akos’ isn’t. Somehow they meet. Cyra and her brother are not getting along (can’t recall his name, but starts with an R); he seems to be a king or some kind of leader of his world.

This one got my interest (a little bit) about half way through, but even so, it’s fantasy, so names, places, hard to understand or remember. I don’t like trying to learn different fantastical worlds (it takes way too long to get to the story as one tries to puzzle out all those weird names). Oh, yeah, I hated that they referred to ages by various numbers of “seasons” – when I hear “season”, I think four seasons in a year, so divide that number by 4 and you’ve got years (but then, maybe this isn’t the case on the planets these kids live on). I don’t think that’s what the author meant (four seasons in a year), but it bothered me. The book did get the extra ½ star for catching my attention at least through some/part/more of the second half.

Cumulative page total = 47,913

nov 28, 10:35 pm

148. Kids on a Case: Hunting Black Dragon / Tony Peters
3 stars
292 pages

This is book 2 in the “Kids on a Case” series. When Daniel comes to Tyler, the “ringleader” of the group of kids (around 13 years old?) who once solved a kidnapping case, looking for help, Tyler can’t say no to his friend. Daniel’s dad has been kidnapped and Daniel is scared to go to the police because he and his mom were threatened not to. However, Tyler was warned last time that he should bring anything to the police that he knows about, so he and his group of kid sleuths do just that. The police, after getting permission from the kids’ parents (supposedly), have Tyler and his friends help them with this case. They know it’s the dangerous gang, the Black Dragons, behind the kidnapping.

It was ok. Although Tyler is the “I” in the story, much of it follows other characters, as well. I might have enjoyed it a bit more if I had had it in a better format (pdf can be read on a Kobo, but it’s awkward). Obviously not even close to realistic, though.

Cumulative page total = 48,205