Club Read--sallypursell's 2020 reading

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Club Read--sallypursell's 2020 reading

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 3, 2020, 9:49am

My name is Sally Pursell, and I live in St. Louis, Missouri. Last year was my first year in Club Read. I joined in the last week of May.

It appears that it is common to give a summary of last year's reading in statistics format.

Books Read in 7 months: 127

I think I will leave it at that. So far I don't care about the genders of the authors or when they were written. I don't even care about fiction or non-fiction, although I know I read 98% fiction, or more.

I don't really have any plans, except that I might like to read some poetry, and maybe some plays--I have never read either, not finding them as enjoyable to read. There is a little more about plans in the third post.
I have a brother who is a tremendous Mark Twain enthusiast, and I might re-read some. I also want to read more of the original chansons and other material that are the texts on which we base the King Arthur legends. I know they are not much like the historical fact, if there even is one.

The way I understand it, Arthur was an early "king" of part of England, when there were so many Kings in England. The Chivalry part is likely unreal, being a later idea associated with France (I think) I believe there was no round table. I don't think the Guinevere story is real at all. Nor the Merlin part, obviously.

I wish I could afford a copy of the Childe work on songs/poetry that he compiled from a lifetime of wandering in England collecting them. I expect they aren't hard to access. Maybe Project Gutenberg.

There follows a list of January reading.

1. Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum.
2. Murder on the Ballarat Train by Kerry
3. Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs
4. Claimed by the Gods by Eva Chase
5. Shadow Prey by John Sandford
6. Prince Charming by Rachel Hawkins
7. A Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths
8. In the Woods by Tana French
9. Eyes of Prey by John Sandford
10. First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
11. Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells
12. Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky
13. Tempting Danger by Eileen Wilks
14. One Coffee With by Margaret Maron
15. Unveiled by Courtney Milan
16. Storm Front by Jim Butcher
17. Proof by Seduction by Courtney Milan


18. Where Serpents Sleep by C. S. Harris
19. What Remains of Heaven by C. S. Harris
20. The Wizard of Karres by Mercedes Lackey,
Eric Flint, and Dave Freer
21. Where Shadows Dance by C. S. Harris
22. Death of a Butterfly by Margaret Maron
23. Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch
24. Death in Blue Folders by Margaret Maron
25. The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag by
Alan Bradlley
26. Curves for the Sheikh by Annabelle Winters
27. A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George
28. A Spanish Lover by Joanna Trollope


29. The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths
30. Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather
31. The Stars, Like Dust by Isaac Asimov
32. The Last Hero by Leslie Charteris
33. Circle of Quilters: An Elm Creek Quilts novel
by Jennifer Chiaverini
34. Moon over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch
35. Other Minds; The Octopus, the Sea, and the
Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter
Godfrey-Smith--Read Twice
36. Macroscope by Piers Anthony
37. Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams
38. A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan
39. Dawn by Octavia E. Butler
40. Adulthood Rites by Octavia E. Butler
41. Imago by Octavia E. Butler
42. Trick or Treat by Kerry Greenwood
43. Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J.
44. The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells
45. Good Guys by Steven Brust
46. The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper
47. The Widow by Barbara Kingswood

First Quarter Totals

SF&F 13
Children’s 0
YA 2
Non-fiction 1
General Fiction 3
Paranormal 8
Romances 10
Graphic novels 0
Mysteries 19

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 3, 2020, 12:48pm

Thanks to both dchaikin and NanaCC for helping me find the 2020 threads. Please, everyone, ignore my failed attempts if you run across them.

edited to fix typo

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 3, 2020, 1:00pm

This is the part of my TBR pile that is on my bed, for lack of any other place to put it. Believe me, there are so many books everywhere that this is the only place to put these. I think I need to get to work on these, as soon as I finish the Hawaii project.

I also want to re-read some Trollope this year, and I've never tried James Fenimore Cooper--it's about time, isn't it?

tammikuu 6, 2020, 5:15pm

Yikes! I've been so sick all week, that I've read a few of other people's threads, but not written any of my own. Also yikes, I didn't expect everyone's threads to take off the way they did; I confess I was wondering what happened to people at the end of the yer. Hardly anyone was posting.

I've been so sick that I haven't read very much. I'm about to finish my third book of the year.

1. Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum This is a Young Adult Book, a slight thing about a 16-year-old who is forced to move to a new state and live in a much grander home with a new and unexpected step-mother after her own mother dies. She also has a new step-brother, who ignores her.

In the high school she attends, she is naturally an outcast. And to her surprise, a stranger contacts her on her phone, calling himself "Someone Noone" and telling her that he goes to her school, and wants to help her make her way. She is wary at first, but they gradually become friends and spend more time texting. At the end of the book she meets "Someone" and he turns out to be just whom she would like him to be. I can't say that I think anyone would find this likely, or that there are any high schools where society works this way(certainly the bullying and cruel teasing are typical), but I enjoyed it. I wish the writer had gone on and done a whole bildungsroman. This was a worthy effort, but just a trifle.

tammikuu 6, 2020, 5:56pm

2. Murder on the Ballarat Train by Kerry Greenwood. These are growing on me. I still like the Corinne Chapwood series better, but I have been looking forward to these since the second.

All I want to say about this is that I don't understand where Phryne Fisher isn't exhausted all the time. She dresses well to go everywhere, and does her maquillage carefully, which already takes time and energy I would never have bothered with. But since communication is just coming into the modern age, she has to go places just to tell people or show people various pertinent things.

Needless to say there are complicated things going on in this. She takes lovers when she wants to, she visits friends often, she goes to small entertainments (and gives some). Somehow she makes friends and adherents wherever she goes--and they are remarkably free for her employment when she calls. I gather she pays generously, and frequently needs the help. She has the admiration of the police force, most of it, at least, which is also quite useful. I didn't like her at first, but now I do. She has all the charm and all the money she really needs. She is high-born, which assists her in the British Empire.

There is certainly nothing else worth saying, is there? It was a good yarn, and fun, too.

tammikuu 6, 2020, 6:00pm

Happy New Year, Sally. Looking forward to your 2020 reviews. The start of a new year in CR is always frantic with a lot of posting of different threads, but it settles down after a few weeks.

tammikuu 6, 2020, 6:34pm

3. Storm Cursed by Patricia Briggs. I am tired of being sick, and wanted something self-indulgent to read. This is one of my go-to series for that, the saga of Mercedes Athena Thompson Hauptman. She is a daughter of Coyote, the trickster god, and thence a Walker. That is a sort of avatar of the god, one who walks as a were-form to the parent. Therefore she is a were-coyote, who also happens to be the wife of Adam Hauptman, a politically important Alpha Werewolf of a large pack in Washington State, the United States. A good bit of her childhood was spent as a foster-daughter to the chief werewolf in North America. Somehow she manages to be always growing in power as she learns, matures, and taking more responsibility. She runs a car repair shop, and is the chief mechanic. She finds new abilities, and that is a good thing because she has to juggle were-creatures, the fae, vampires, other avatars, and witches, not to mention the regular un-gifted world of humans.

Now that I think about it, she focus of the books varies a little from group to group. This was about witches, and was as creative as the others. She must do a lot of research into legendary creatures, or have a staff that does. I learn things, and new types of characters show up all the time. Clans of feuding witches were the meanies this time, but they were raising lots of zombies, being black witches (necromantic) and Mercy being a daughter to a god of change and the flux between life/death, she was able to exert power where it was needed in the crisis.

As usual, I loved it, and it was so restful when I have felt crummy for more than a week. I don't I remember it very well, though. Maybe I will have to re-read it soon. :)

tammikuu 6, 2020, 8:14pm

Hi Sally—Thanks for stopping by on my thread and introducing yourself. I’ll be following your reading this year. I lurked on your thread off and on last year and was very intrigued by your Hawaii reading. Is that still ongoing?

tammikuu 6, 2020, 9:56pm

You've already read 3 books? I have GOT to get back to more reading. Got you starred.

tammikuu 7, 2020, 1:50pm

>3 sallypursell: love this picture.

Wish you a wonderful 2020. Seeing how many books and reviews who up here, I’m hoping I can keep up. I will try.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 7, 2020, 6:09pm

>8 arubabookwoman: I'm winding up that project now. I have one history to finish, one still to read, and I decided to end it with Obama's book Dreams From my Father

tammikuu 7, 2020, 6:08pm

>9 auntmarge64: Hi, AuntMarge, and nice to "meet" you. I have always read a lot, and I was sick last week, and in bed a fair amount, but most of all ... I retired in October.

tammikuu 7, 2020, 6:15pm

4. Claimed by the Gods by Eva Chase I was so interested in this, because it is about the adjustment of a new Valkyrie, which should have been great! and there was a suggestion that erotica was involved, and I don't mind that at all. However, this was just terrible, pedestrian and hackneyed, with no insight into the role of the Valkyrie, or what it is like to get to know Norse gods, which could have also been a neat topic. Also, no real erotica, with one episode of intercourse no more stimulating than your average romance. Probably less so. I recycled it rather than donate it to anyone. Really, don't bother. One star--it does make sense, and there are only a few errors in grammar or spelling.

tammikuu 8, 2020, 3:12pm

Hi Sally. Thanks for stopping by my thread.

>13 sallypursell: Too bad.

tammikuu 8, 2020, 7:23pm

>14 BLBera: You're welcome. I joined Club Read last year, and I want to expand my knowledge of the readers.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 9, 2020, 10:38pm

I am still reading Captive Paradise and I wanted to give an example of how impressive and well-informed it is.
The Honolulu of the mid-1840's, at the height of the American whaling boom, was a far cry from the dusty fishing village of a half century before. On January 9. 1847, the Polynesian published an assay of the city that was more detailed than a census would have been. They counted 1,347 residential dwellings, 875 of grass, 345 of adobe, and 127 of wood, stone (which meant cut coral). or a mixture of both. None of them were of brick; Hawaiian clay lacked the binder necessary for brickmaking so adobe was substituted, and those walls had to be maintained, because they melted beneath the rain, leaving piles of formless goo "ankle deep" around their perimeters. Of the twelve finest stone houses, two belonged to the former missionaries who entered government service, Gerrit Judd and William Richards. Most of the rest were owned by chiefs.

The Polynesian estimated the population of the city at ten thousand, of whom 617 were "foreigners," mostly American, followed by British, about a dozen French, and a scattering of other nationalities, plus 472 foreign-born who had become naturalized subjects of the king. In addition, there were about a hundred members of a new class of people loosely called "floaters," native Hawaiians who had abandoned their sharecropping for the chiefs to move into the city, work for wages, and discover a kind of independence they had never known before. For those who could afford it, foreign and native, there were four hotels located mauka (a direction which meant not toward the sea, but toward the inland cliffs) of Hotel Street, where a comfortable room and board cost seven dollars a week, somewhat less than in a private boardinghouse.

Centered in the city's commercial district, the foreigners' various occupations made Honolulu, apart from being the only city in the central Pacific, a cosmopolitan crossroads worthy of its geographical importance. There were thirty-eight carpenters, twelve masons, and five painters, who stayed busy from the $170,000 of new construction that was under way. Professionally, there were five doctors, five lawyers, two watchmakers, ten printers and a bookbinder. Eight tailors, nine tinkers, and two barbers kept the populace looking good; seven blacksmiths kept them mounted or rolling. Two pilots got the ships through the reef and into the harbor, to disgorge their cargoes at five commercial wharves, and one government wharf, much of it destined for the eight commercial warehouses, most of which touted red fireproof slate roofs.

Also crowding the city were the "country people," the rural kanakas (natives) who came to vend their wares. The Honolulu police arrest record tells an interesting tale of the relationship between these natives and the law, actual crime as opposed to moral crime, and the kanakas' success at bridging the gap: between April, 1846 and April, 1847, the police arrested 2 natives for polluting a stream with human bones, 4 for attempting to pray others to death, 3 for blasphemy, 39 for breaking the Sabbath, 43 for drunkenness, 48 for fighting, 57 for gambling, 211 for theft, and 806 for fornication. But when the natives were not stealing or having sex, their vending stalls were located makai (a direction which meant toward the sea) of what became King Street, or they just importuned pedestrians. Their chickens averaged thirty cents each, ducks fifty cents, turkeys up to a dollar depending on their size. Local produce was cheap....

There is much more, which I found very interesting, but I thought that would be enough to give the flavor. You see how much time the author spent on research, and how deeply he dove. By the way, if anyone wants to read more I will gladly add it.

An interesting matter in the next chapter recounts aggressive French activities at this time, to take over the islands and its products. French warships repeatedly showed up in Honolulu harbor, and made ludicrous demands, which Hawaii had to meet, while waiting for adjudication between these captains and the Hawaiian court by the government of France. Some of the demands were such that Hawaii would have been a protectorate of France if they had remained in force. Hawaii got no satisfaction from the British, from whom they requested assistance. The United States did come forward to assist, and said that Hawaii would be protected even if the only way it could be done was by annexing Hawaii. Although Hawaiians later were angered that America annexed the islands, the King and advisers were very happy with the reassurances of the United States government at this time. It was French aggression and British vacillation that threw Hawaii into the lap of the United States, and a relationship of lasting importance was made. Incidentally, France admitted the extremity of the French captains' rapaciousness, and offered reparations. Most things were rolled back, but $100,000 of damage and extortion were never repaid.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 9, 2020, 10:07pm

not sure how many extracts that long I would read, but I found that one fascinating. What a time and place.

tammikuu 9, 2020, 11:17pm

5. Shadow Prey by John Sandford This was the second book in the series that features Lucas Davenport, a police detective in Minneapolis. I had mixed feelings about him from his first book, and they are more so now. It wouldn't surprise me if the actor, a journalist, sees himself in his protagonist, and wants to be shown to be as tough, as attractive to women, a little borderline on legality to achieve his aims, and as competent with weapons and police work.

What was really good about this work was the theme of tension between Native Americans and white police personnel. In the book, some Medicine Men from the Sioux have carefully planned to target some highly important figures and assassinate them to show the oppression under which the Native Americans live. These are people against whom they have specific grievances, or who are powerful and routinely mistreat or oppress Native Americans through their work. The killings are done by throat-cutting with an obsidian knife, and two of the assassins die at the scene or trying to escape, apparently not sorry to become martyrs.

Lucas must work with a Lieutenant from New York, a woman, who is the first person whom he can't resist sexually since his daughter was born to the TV journalist he was dating. The TV woman is both furious and saddened, and kicks Lucas out of her house, where she lives with Lucas' daughter.
Lucas and a NYPD cop are both shot in the line of duty, and she goes home to NY with her husband. Lucas thinks it was all a sad story, but he knows he will change nothing seriously in his life, and that he will recover from the trauma he suffered during this complicated case.

My problem is with Lucas Davenport himself. I admire competence and intelligence, and he has both. He uses his knowledge with skill and reasonable compassion, although he is known to have killed three times as many perpetrators as the average police detective. So my problem is his laissez-faire attitude to legality, faithfulness, and moderation. I think one day he will be terminated for some of his behavior, and he will feel that it was not his fault, and that he was mistreated. He makes no attempt to be committed to the relationship he has with his baby-mama, and readily admits his affair to her, with little regard to her feelings, and how much good there is in the relationship. He does protect her and the baby during the crisis of the story, but he refuses to call an ambulance when a criminal is gravely wounded, instead watching him die, and that even though his daughter has some minor injuries incurred during the firefight at the end.

The story was good, the police work and the exposition of the story were good, but Lucas Davenport is a creep and a sleaze-ball, who thinks his testicles and phallus are bigger than anyone else's. I guess I will read one more. I am just so much on the fence.

tammikuu 10, 2020, 9:46pm

6. Prince Charming by Rachel Hawkins Oh, this was refreshing. Imagine that a Meghan-Markle-type had a 16 year-old sister, who needs to come to the British Isles for the wedding. Her sister Eleanor has always been a natural Princess, and practically glows, but Daisy, the younger sister, is one of those people who always says the socially unacceptable thing, snarky and unsophisticated as she tends to be. Naturally the press thinks Daisy is after the younger Prince, so he makes a move on her as soon as she gets there. He and his friends tend to be jerks, and she doesn't scruple to say so. "The Palace" tries to control the narrative, and manufactures a relationship for Daisy with one of the younger Prince's friends.

She tries to play along, but it doesn't work as well as the Palace might wish. Daisy is insulted with the way Princess Flora, the Princes' sister treats her, and horrified that the press can make her life so difficult. She gets back home with temper and virginity intact, hard as that was at times. Florida is much more comfortable for her, and High School is better than she remembered. Still, her sister is a real princess now, and she knows she will have to cope with it some more at a future time. The book ends with a promise of some good to come.

By the way, this fictional monarchy is in Scotland, not England. I really hope there are more by this author.

tammikuu 12, 2020, 10:23am

7. A Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths. I can hardly think of enough good things to say about this series. I suppose this is an exaggerated number of mysterious and murderous plots for one woman to encounter in an outlying area peripheral to London, but it doesn't seem too unlikely when I read, because each episode is so well developed.

Furthermore, the series deals with big issues; parenthood, belonging, loneliness, fidelity, and in this novel, with the failure of early promise, and the feeling of the reach just exceeding the grasp.

Ruth discovers that she has more feelings for her daughter's father than she had realized, and he has discovered that Ruth fills some need for him that is impossible to define, and doesn't seem to be waning. Since he is married, and not inclined to leave his wife and daughters, and since Nelson and Ruth are not drawn to spend day-to-day time together, what does that mean? Is it enough that when they encounter each other, it brightens their days? Then what of the longing, which sometimes arises, and makes each miss the other acutely? Also, Nelson would like more presence in his daughter Kate's life, as he is piqued by the ease with which his odd friend, Cathbad the Druid, manages a friendship with Ruth and Kate. Still, for the sake of his wife and position, he can't acknowledge the relationship more publicly, and far too many people have divined it already. He feels guilty that his mother cannot revel in the relationship.

This all makes it sound like a soap opera, but the best thing is that it doesn't read that way. It reads as if it grapples with what is crucial in life and with those relationships which don't follow societal expectation. Apart from paying the bills, this is the crux of adulthood, I think.

So highly recommended.

tammikuu 12, 2020, 12:13pm

>20 sallypursell: I’m so glad that you are enjoying the Ruth Galloway series, Sally. I just wish that there were more of them.

tammikuu 12, 2020, 4:52pm

>21 NanaCC: Oh, yes, they are fabulous. One of them made my top books last year. I look for some books which are far fewer. I've been waiting for the third book in one fantasy series for something like 18 years. I think you so much for your guidance.

tammikuu 12, 2020, 5:54pm

>20 sallypursell: this was a really nice review...I mean, for a book I wouldn't expect to be interested in, I found myself wondering and concerned about how they work it all out.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 12, 2020, 6:22pm

>23 dchaikin: Well, thank you. Since your reviews are generally so good, I value your comment a great deal.

tammikuu 15, 2020, 8:16pm

8. In the Woods by Tana French This was not at all what I expected from the first novel in the Dublin Murder Squad Series. My jaw literally dropped upon reading the two-page prologue. The language was beautiful, and the topic was powerful, and altogether it was unexpectedly worth reading. It described a tragic happenstance in a small English village with a nearby dense wood.

We then segue to the Dublin Murder Squad, and a statement by an unknown detective about the relationship the detectives, and the police, have to truth and lies. He cautions us that they commonly lie, including himself. He may be setting himself up as the "unreliable narrator", but he certainly seems to be leveling with us, for whatever that is worth. He jumps to a story about his personal take on the story in the prologue, and it turns out that he was one of the children involved in the story that was told there. We learn that no one knows this, but that it is vital to understanding his current case.

He moves on to tell us about the relationship of himself and his partner detective, and how that developed. It was quite involving. This moves into a recounting of how he and his partner manage to be assigned to a case of a child disappearance in the same place as his own event, the wood around the village in which he grew up. He should recuse himself, but he is too interested, even obsessed, with his past.

The remains of the book give a chronological account of the police procedure which solves the case. This includes the results of his actions and his deceptions on his own career. It is a very sad outcome for the detective, and not at all what I usually expect from a mystery series. This is clever, and intriguing, and the relationship between the partner detectives is mesmerizing. I believe this might even appeal to people who don't usually read mysteries, but if you are someone who does read them, know that this is certainly a cut above the usual mystery.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 3, 2020, 10:56pm

9. Eyes of Prey by John Sandford This is the third novel in the Lucas Davenport series, about a police detective who operates at the margins of acceptable work and personal practice norms. We do see some of his faults, but it is hard to escape the feeling that the author wants to be this brash, sexy, effective, and clever man.

Once again Lucas Davenport squares off at a serial murderer. (They certainly do have a lot of these since Davenport has been working the major case squad in Minneapolis.) Despite the loss of his girlfriend and their daughter to his intemperance and infidelity, Davenport continues to have casual sexual liaisons with members of the Press, and thus can sometimes influence what the public is told about the cases he is involved in. In this novel he also has a sexual relationship with an actress working in a local theater.

He suspects the husband from the first, for the first murder, and the others don't always make sense to him. Still, the police keep sifting data, making appeals to the public, and going over all the data again and again, to see what shakes out. The police procedure thread is solid and worth knowing about, and the murders do make sense from the point of the murderer(s).

We are allowed into the thinking of the bad guy or guys (I'm not telling which). That means we are ahead of the police in our knowledge, and it remains absorbing to watch as they almost catch up to us.

I still don't like this detective's behavior, but the rest is really good. Too bad we can't get a new detective. I might conceivable read another in this series some day, but this is the last one I will buy.

tammikuu 17, 2020, 1:30pm

>25 sallypursell: enjoyed both these reviews. I tried In the Woods on audio once, and quickly decided I didn’t like the reader and quit. I do wonder if there is any relationship to Dante - per the title.

tammikuu 17, 2020, 2:09pm

>25 sallypursell: I think you will love all of Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad books, Sally. They can all be read independently, but if you read them in order, the lead character is usually a minor character from the previous book.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 17, 2020, 5:33pm

>27 dchaikin: I wondered this too. While I think the main character certainly descends into a hell of his own making during the book, and the crime is one of lack of proper behavior, or failing to control his desires (as if he belongs in an upper circle), the whole didn't seem to be thematically or stylistically similar to the Inferno. There was no Virgil character that I could identify, either. His partner, maybe?

I think there was a chance that I was just missing it. It reminds me of O Brother, Where Art Thou?, when I didn't get the Odyssey tie-in until the Tiresias figure showed up.

Still, I have a limited appetite for literary interpretation. I have carefully avoided classes in it. They seem to go directly from, "Well, duh!" level thinking to something like "You have got to be kidding! You made that up." In other words, I find them either obvious or extremely strained and far-fetched.

And thanks, again.

tammikuu 17, 2020, 6:17pm

Maybe she was toying with desire and self-restraint. Fits the inferno judgments, anyway.

tammikuu 20, 2020, 9:14am

>26 sallypursell: I am smiling at your comments on the John Sandford books because I have had similar feelings about the series over the years. I almost stopped reading after Eyes of Prey, but I think Lucas does improve somewhat through the series. There's still a bit too much swagger, but he's aging.

I'm happy to see another Ruth Galloway fan. I really enjoy that series, more for the character of Ruth than for the mysteries. I do love the archeological aspect as well.

tammikuu 22, 2020, 1:55pm

We lost our internet to an ice storm for two days, which was more painful than I expected. I didn't realize that I had become so dependent on it.

Then I had an atypical migraine for three or four days, when I couldn't use the computer, and could only read if I was determined to--which I usually am. I didn't read a lot, but I kept stabbing at it.

First, I finished Captive Paradise, which was altogether a fine book. The section on the loss of the Hawaiian monarchy and the annexation of Hawaii by the United States was particularly impressive to me. There was such subtlety in the explanation, and so much complexity in the description of the struggles over the decision in Washington, D. C. The venality of the haole in Hawaii was clear and unequivocal, but the rest would be murky if not for the understanding of the White House policy and the legislative bodies, including understanding the viewpoint of a number of critical people involved in the decision.

I feel sure, based on all this, that the Hawaiian Monarchy could not have survived the 19th century, unless the US decided to support that. Other nations were poised to snap up the advantages inherent in the geographic placement of the Islands, and the near perfection of Pearl Harbor. Their strategic importance was tempting. Certainly this was handled especially badly, and no one could be happy with that. The Queen was treated scurrilously.

HIghly recommended to those interested in a very detailed history of Hawaii.

tammikuu 23, 2020, 12:11am

I've read a couple of Kerry Greenwood's Phryne Fisher books, but find the TV version much more appealing. Plus how rare is it that a book adaptation ends up AGING the character, vs making her younger.

tammikuu 23, 2020, 12:41am

That's good to hear mabith. I missed it when it was on Netflix, and I haven't found it again. but I will.

tammikuu 23, 2020, 5:37pm

10. First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones This was better than I expected, and lots of fun. The protagonist is Charlie--a female Charlie, and she is young, somewhere around 19, or so. She is an unusually accurate sensitive who helps her uncle the Detective (the cop kind) as a consultant, as a "Private "Detective". The truth is something different, because she sees and can speak to the dead, and, as it turns out, she is the one and only Grim Reaper. When she tries to convince spirits "to go into the light" after she settles their issues, that light happens to be inside her. Settling their issues is often a police matter, or delivering a message, and her uncle's solve rate, especially for murder, is higher than any other detective's. It isn't always easy for Charlie, and sometimes it is dangerous, but she doesn't really have the opportunity to do anything other than help. As far as she knows, there is no other Grim Reaper, and she has no idea how this came to be her task. She does remember her birth, and the spirit overlooking it, who called her "Dutch" and shows up from time to time. She doesn't know why, and he seems to be different from the other spirits she sees.

In this novel, Charlie begins to learn something about the spirit who calls her "Dutch". He seems to be more powerful than others, and he occasionally shows up to protect her in crisis situations. He has also begun invading her dreams, and they are getting increasingly erotic. I suppose he was waiting for her to be old enough for this part of the relationship.

I liked the whole thing, and the teasers about this spirit, who is clearly going to become more familiar and more known to us. I am anticipating the next one with enthusiasm.

tammikuu 23, 2020, 6:18pm

11. Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells This was the next Murderbot book, so it is about a highly intelligent Security Robot, who has somehow evaded his Asimov protections (I don't remember how) and has had to kill humans. He has been on the run by high-jacking drone transport ships, where he can overcome the programming of less intelligent robots and settle in, sharing his trove of Video serials, which make life less boring for intelligent robots.

In this episode he is stuck getting involved with some humans on a contract job. He has to lie his way in and then out of the job, and gets injured during it. He doesn't mind getting in danger, because that is his job. He's getting better at taking over "lesser" AI, and much faster. He likes most of the humans and doesn't mind protecting them. He also wants to collect some data to sink the company who sent these humans without caring whether they lived.

Naturally, all comes out fine in the end. I should mention that this series has won both Hugo and Nebula awards, and has gotten very popular, including with some lionized science fiction writers.

tammikuu 23, 2020, 7:08pm

12. Record of a Spaceborn Few by Becky Chambers. This is the third entry in the "Wayfarers" series, and it asks an important question. When the generation-ship arrives at its destination, what do the people do? Things will surely be different from what they expect, and in this case they happen upon a Galactic civilization, non-human, more advanced than we, and with no real need of us.

Many of these intended colonists have stayed on the ship, even though the standard of living is not very high, because they are used to it, and becoming a colonist at this point would mean so much greater risk to them; risks of starvation, unexpected deaths, the need to hammer out a new society, being lesser than the aliens, no matter how hard the aliens try to welcome them. They are used to dressing in rags because cloth had to be reused, and eating boring but nutritious food, and taking turns doing sanitation tasks, because no matter how unpalatable or boring, everyone had to do it. Now, a surprising number of humans who didn't need to make the long slow trip are trying out coming to live in the Fleet. How does that get managed? How do they run the Fleet if people keep leaving to be colonists? In other words, now what?

Wonderful. This is a part of the generations ship that usually isn't considered. This also won the Hugo for best series.

tammikuu 24, 2020, 9:14am

>24 sallypursell: Sally, I saw the Phryne Fisher series on a few years ago -- I just checked and they still carry it, plus the spin-off "Ms Fisher's Modern Murder Mysteries" which features her niece. I have not watched the latter. Acorn was the first streaming service we contracted (and the least expensive) even before Netflix. I used to buy DVDs from Acorn and MhZ before they were streaming services. Acorn offers good programming from the UK, Australia & Canada; MhZ is mostly European crime shows (if you don't mind subtitles there are some great shows on there). We regularly suspend streaming services. For example, we recently suspended HBO after watching a few shows we wanted to watch, and reactivated Netflix so we can catch the new season of "Occupied" and "Ann with an E."

tammikuu 24, 2020, 1:36pm

>38 avaland: I had never heard of Acorn tv. It sounds like a good deal. Thanks!

tammikuu 27, 2020, 12:34am

13. Tempting Danger by Eileen Wilks. Paranormal stories are so popular that it quite takes me by surprise. I thought this was just the first of a police detective mystery, but in fact, this mystery with a police detective is also a werewolf story. I'm getting tired of the kick-ass woman who stands up to the lupi (her plural, not mine, and in all cases) on her own merits, just until it is decently written and plotted, and then I can't resist them.

This book was very readable, and there was a new slant on some werewolf culture which interested me. The detective, Lily Yu, was a sensitive, who turns out to be the mystically formed mate to the werewolf prince, who is first a suspect in a murder, and then a consult who, at the end, inducts her into his "clan", or pack. That part was not necessary to the plot, and a little tiresome, but it wasn't too long, so it was quite tolerable, even if I did wish that it was over with sooner.

The mystery at first had the werewolf prince as a suspect, as I said, but her Gift has her able to distinguish that the victim died of sorcery, not by the apparent werewolf bite to the neck. The murderous plot is an attempt to reduce the importance and the numbers of the werewolves, and to take out the Prince, which reduced the power of the werewolves to defend themselves, and tarnished the public's view of the safety they enjoyed living around the werewolves.

As a detective novel, it was slightly better than fair, and as a paranormal romance novel, it was really a mystery. I will certainly try one more in this series to determine which part will predominate, and whether it is worth it to me.

I don't believe in ghosts, or magic, but since I grew up in a haunted house, I have to say that some unexplained things did happen there, and in several other places where I lived. Even at the time. when I was a child, I tried to come up with scientifically valid explanations for the phenomena, but I was not always successful. My mother carefully walked around apparitions, even if she didn't seem to know they were there, but my father walked right through them.

This book was just better than average. Only recommended for those who enjoy paranormal fiction, which I sometimes do.

tammikuu 28, 2020, 10:33am

14. One Coffee With by Margaret Maron I thought it would be interesting to try Margaret Maron's other detective series, about a police detective named Sigid Harald. I found her yet less likable than Judge Deborah Knott, but good enough to read another of. I liked something of the academic setting, but it was an Art department, such as my husband worked in for 30 years. He was only an adjunct professor, and they are treated very poorly, but he was respected, and his work was respected. He was often told that his students simply had better skills than those of other intro. instructors.

Anyway, this was a murder in an Art plus Art History department. It seems clear early on that it is the tenure-track professors and those who wish to be tenure-track who are the pool of possible murderers. Quite a few have both motive and opportunity. I don't try my wits against detective novels, that not being the way I enjoy them, so I didn't try to identify the guilty, but one did stand out for his seeming lack of ambition, when that is not the case with the others at all. He proved to be guilty.

I liked this well enough, and the writing was superior to many first mysteries in a series, and I found that her other series improved upon acquaintance. I'll try another, but this isn't the instant hit that some other series have been for me. I find I like Sigid Harald, both for her antecedent story and for her name, besides.

tammikuu 28, 2020, 10:49am

15. Unveiled by Courtney Milan My reading seems to be going from bad to worse, here, and I can't take it for long. I do love a good Regency Romance, but this one only marginally complies. For one thing, it is actually in the Victorian Age, not the Regency Era. It follows the tropes of an historical romance quite well, but that's the trouble: it is too self-consciously doing so.

A young woman in an unbelievable dilemma must take on the acquaintance of a reprehensible man who has disinherited her and her brothers, and made her parents' marriage invalid. This enables him to walk into the position of heir to a dukedom, when he has made a gazillian pounds in ~shudder~ trade! (hmmm, experimentation tells me that I can't use carets for their accustomed use, hence the tildes) Strangely, this tack is not explored (missed a bet, Courtney Milan!), only the fact that he has treated her family so badly, and then manages to have the gall to be charming and more egalitarian about women. He tells her that "she matters", and that is enough to put her off her expected task of finding something about him that will work against his pretensions, and enable her brothers to win a suit in parliament which would restore their legitimacy. No one has ever conveyed that to her before, and it is easy to see how this would be world-shaking for her.

Can anyone not see how this ends? With 21st century feelings, he shows her how she is important, and his vision prevails. She loves him.
He proves to then want marriage before she gives herself physically, not a 21st century priority.
Enough. This was good enough for casual reading, but not good enough to actually revel in.

tammikuu 29, 2020, 10:34pm

16 Storm Front by Jim Butcher This is the first of the Harry Dresden books. It has been so long since I read them that I wanted to start over. I only two or three of them, anyway, and there are a lot more now.

This concerns a serious murder plot by a sorceror of great power and little knowledge or experience. He is doing death magic, powered by electrical storms, not knowing that the White Council polices wizards, and that this is the first rule--no magic powered by human sacrifice, and no murder by magical means. Since he is the only publicly known wizard, and the only wizard consulting to the Police, it becomes Harry's job to find and disable the murderer. Otherwise, it is likely that the White Council may execute him, thinking him to be the perpetrator of the murders. Harry is innocent, of course, and he is successful at his task of neutralizing the other wizard, only at the price of several murders, and the loss of trust between his Police lieutenant contact and himself.
Harry is a noir detective, and it is a little like reading some Sam Spade adventure. He has a familiar spirit that is bound to the inside of a human skull, sits on his worktable, and acts as his magic computer, because technology has the habit of giving up the ghost, or blowing all the circuits in the house.

This was fun, although not greatly so. I look forward to the next for greater development of Harry's character and magic practice.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 12, 2020, 4:26pm

17. Proof by Seduction by Courtney Milan I put this on reserve at the library, because Julia Quinn said, "One of the finest historical romances I've read in years." I certainly wouldn't go that far, although this was better than the other romance I read by this author.

A gentlewoman is left without funds to support herself when her father dies. She was raised to pour tea, paint china, and converse politely, but was not educated enough to be a governess. However, there is a spiritism (a word from the time) craze in London at the time, so she decides to support herself by posing as a fortune-teller. It doesn't bother her to dissemble, because she has extensive experience in being lied to, and none in being told the truth. A credulous young lord has fastened on her for support, because she listens to him, and encourages him, and no one else seems to do that at all.

The young man's cousin, Lord Gareth Carhart, Marquess of Blakely, is of a scientific and rationalist background and thinks "Lady Esmeralda" is fleecing her customers. Of course she is, but she realizes late in the book how much better her clients do in life because she is there to give them support and encouragement. If only there were a way to make profession in which she could honestly supply the real benefit of her services.

Needless to say, the Marquess comes to appreciate the lady, and she to appreciate him. They pull together to save the young man from his follies, and she begins to teach the Marquess a little of how to do what she does--not the fortune-telling part, but the encouraging people part. And a good time was had by all ... eventually.

helmikuu 6, 2020, 4:24pm

I was reading the most trifling things because my fourth grandchild was due, and I could't pay attention, lest I need to drop everything. The wretched child (just kidding) didn't come until three days late. He was born on the 2nd, finally. He weighed eight pounds and nine ounces, and has been given the name Zev Alexander Pursell. Zev, I hear, is the Hebrew for wolf, but my daughter-in-law just liked the sound. I'm having to get used to it, but I love his initials, Z-A-P, and I may just call him Zap. His older sister Alice, who is only just over two years old, will tell me at odd moments, "He's my brother!" which seems undeniable. We have been helping out as much as they will let us--they are very independent.

I've been reading yet more light reading, since we didn't know when we would be needed. I have started The Deerslayer by James Fenimore Cooper, but haven't really progressed very far. My sister is right, the description at the beginning seems excessive, but it does give a feeling for the area which might otherwise not have been so thorough. I suspect that the area is a character in its own right, as cities sometimes are in speculative and other novels, in which case that familiarity will be very important.

I rather wish the Deerslayer had actually been a Delaware, not just a white man who is very familiar with them. Then, of course, the story would not have occurred at all, since the frontiersmen and women would not see him socially, so it is better this way. It is high-handed of me, isn't it? I'll be back to comment briefly on the books I read in the meantime.

helmikuu 9, 2020, 8:58am

>45 sallypursell: Oh, I don't think you need to refer to then as "trifling" things; most of us have varied reading habits. Congratulations on the 4th grandchild! I'm assuming the family is local to you.

helmikuu 9, 2020, 11:23am

>45 sallypursell: Light reading is fine with me. I guess most of what I read could be in that category. What would you consider to be "heavy reading?"

helmikuu 9, 2020, 12:05pm

>45 sallypursell: Congratulations on the birth of your new grandson. New baby names - now there's a subject guaranteed to bring tension into a family discussion! Been there, got the T-shirt, lol.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 10, 2020, 9:41pm

18. Where Serpents Sleep by C. S. Harris

I read this series out of order, so, in a hurry, I read the ones I had missed. This was the first I had originally missed. I read it second. I liked the books, and cumulatively, they advanced the life of the main character, the Viscount Devlin, Sebastian St. Cyr. In addition, they considerably advanced the relationship between Sebastian and Hero Jarvis, the daughter of his chief enemy.

In this book, Hero was present at the burning of a "House of Refuge", a place where prostitutes who want to leave the life can shelter. No one is saved except herself, but it turns out that eight young ladies were murdered before succumbing to the fire.

Hero asks Devlin to look into it with her. Neither understands whey they become targets themselves, or how it can connect to their own danger. Eventually the two of them learn that the murders of the prostitutes were connected to a plot against one of the Ministers of the Government, possibly the Prime Minister himself. While solving the mystery, they find themselves together, and in imminent danger of their lives. They act upon mutual attraction and engage in intercourse. Hero denies the possibility that there could be a pregnancy associated with their self-indulgence. First, because they do not expect to live. When they are rescued, then, because it was a desperate act, and she has planned to never marry, aware of the legal position of women in the culture. She would never want to be in that position. At the last minute Hero and Sebastian save the life of the minister, and then resume their life of distance from each other.

helmikuu 9, 2020, 10:11pm

>46 avaland: Lois, the newly-expanded family live just under a mile from us. Our other son with a family lives about three miles from us, on the other side of our suburb, Webster Groves. Our youngest son shares our house with us, and his serious girlfriend lives with us, too. Our daughter lives in Memphis, Tennessee, which is about 280 miles south of us.

helmikuu 10, 2020, 9:09pm

>47 LadyoftheLodge: Heavy reading would be something like War and Peace or the Aeschylus plays in the Oresteian cycle.

>46 avaland: >48 AlisonY:

helmikuu 11, 2020, 1:10am

19. What Remains of Heaven by C. S. Harris

This is the second book of the three books I read out of order, and I read it third. The bodies of two men have been found in an ancient crypt, one a mere skeleton and one clearly killed in his present time. This is the Bishop of London, but the identity of the old corpse is unknown. Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is requested to investigate by no other than the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Of course, Sebastian does solve the murder of the Bishop of London, and, after learning of the identity of the corpse from the past, that murder too. This was a solid entry in this satisfying series.

helmikuu 11, 2020, 7:36am

Those are some cute kidlets!

helmikuu 11, 2020, 1:21pm

>51 sallypursell: cute! And congratulations!

>40 sallypursell:My mother carefully walked around apparitions, even if she didn't seem to know they were there, but my father walked right through them.

Hope I’m not showing any disrespect, but this would be a terrific 1st line for a story (or fiction or nonfiction).

helmikuu 12, 2020, 4:40pm

>53 lisapeet: >54 dchaikin: Thanks, Lisa and Dan.

Dan, this is the first line in the second paragraph of a page I once wrote about growing up in my haunted house. I thought it was a strong sentence, and I am glad to have corroboration from someone whose taste I respect. It also happens to be true. My mom did walk around the apparitions, and my father did walk through them. I seemed to be the only sensitive in the family. My sister shared my bedroom, but never saw a thing, although she did perceive the cold spot we had in the room. I did have roommates who moved out due to the problems in my apartment of the time, and I had one boyfriend who was very frightened of the one thing he experienced with me, but most people seemed clueless. In that one place from which my roommates fled, it is true that no one could listen to records or play cards. The cards would change in one's hand when not observed, and records would just crackle and play speckles of sound, never in sequence--all records, even those that played flawlessly elsewhere. Some days were good, and the records played, but in the evenings we were never successful if we tried to play them.

helmikuu 12, 2020, 4:48pm

I, selfishly, appreciate the affirmation I wasn’t just being silly. : ) But, seriously, glad my comment meant something. Curious place you lived.

helmikuu 12, 2020, 5:49pm

20. The Wizard of Karres by Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint, and Dave Freer This is a sequel to a favorite of mine, The Witches of Karres, but by a group of writers, all veterans, who must have decided upon a sequel after James H. Schmitz had died. It deserved one, and I was avid to read this when I discovered it existed.

This was a worthy sequel. It doesn't have the same irreverent spirit that the original novel did, but there are certainly flashes of it. These particularly involve the two child-witches, Goth and the Leewit. In this entry Captain Pausert, a fledgling witch himself, with great power but little training, hooks a giant vatch with his klatha hooks, and gets them towed out of a deadly firefight between the space pirates and the government types, both of whom want to exterminate them. Unfortunately, this results in their also being towed back in time. Fortunately, they are able to find the world from which several of the company have come, only to participate in being part of one of the favorite tropes of time travel. They become part of the time-stream that results in themselves, including the one that explains how the name "the Leewit" came to be a traditional name for the fourth daughter in any family.
Of course, all is well in the end.

There is a fun section in which the crew joins a traveling circus and must invent entertaining roles for themselves in order to travel with them. This amounts to a great disguise, as they travel with the troupe in the direction or their important destination. This is another trope, of course, but done very well, as you would expect from such veteran writers. All in all, it was great to have a worthy sequel for a favorite book, and I enjoyed it. Naturally, it isn't quite the equal of its predecessor, but that is only as I expected.

helmikuu 12, 2020, 7:46pm

21. Where Shadows Dance by C. S. Harris. Sebastian St Cyr, Viscount Devlin, has a curious dilemma. How does one investigate the murder of someone it is not possible to admit one knows of?
Sebastian has a particular friend, Paul Gibson, a surgeon he knew from the war, who is currently an anatomist who must get his specimens from the grave-robbers. He has dissected a young man who officially died of a heart attack, but whom Gibson finds was actually murdered by a stiletto to the back of the neck. Sebastian finds his conscience impels him to investigate, but it is imperative that he not expose his friend to arrest for being in possession of a body which was "liberated" from its grave.

This is the book I read first of the three, and then was forced to backtrack two novels to cover the ground I had missed. I never enjoy intrigue, and thus was less captivated when this novel veered into the government secrets category. It seems this young man was in charge of a large shipment of gold from another government, which he was to transfer to the British treasury through the foreign service, for which he was a low-level employee. Blackmail intervened, due to an affair with the wife of a foreign ambassador. Revenge accounted for his death. There was a lot of detail associated with discovering these facts, and I found the procedural aspects very interesting. I barely paid attention to the aspects of intrigue, following just enough to understand the plot.

I may not have liked this particular entry in this series as much as some others, but I continue to like Sebastian and Paul Gibson. The grave-robbers were colorful and believable, especially "Resurrection Jack", their leader. Their disgust with having to replace the body before it is officially exhumed was very funny.

helmikuu 12, 2020, 11:40pm

22. Death of a Butterfly by Margaret Maron This is the second in the Sigrid Harald series. In it, Sigrid investigates the murder of Julie Redmond, a cold and calculating women, whose selfishness is astonishing. Her neighbors understand her, and several of them give some warmth and uncritical acceptance to her small son. A young women neighbor, a teenager, spies on her and watches the door of her apartment, and happens to be doing so during the time when the murder takes place. Much depends on her observations, in establishing a timeline of the murder day.

Sigrid eventually divines the truth about the event, with its freight of blackmail, theft of unset diamonds, and some of the good will come about because of Julie's death. None of that stays her from her duty, and the murderer is revealed.

Sigrid Harald is a fascinating character, all awkward angles. I am warming to her already, although she is harder to like than many detectives. I thought it would take longer, to be truthful. She was quite a difficult person, at first glance. We get an occasional flash of the fact that she is not as plain as she believes herself to be, and that from the right vantage, she could be beautiful. The heroine who does not know that she is beautiful is a cliché, but it is particularly well done here, and we get only the infrequent musings of a supporting characters which tells us so.

helmikuu 13, 2020, 4:33am

>51 sallypursell: very cute small people!

>55 sallypursell: My sisters insist the house we lived in until I was 5 was haunted too. I thought I had memories of our bedroom light swinging and us scaring ourselves silly when my parents were out one evening as we could hear notes being played on the piano. However, after reading The Memory Illusion recently, now I'm not convinced I can still trust those memories. I suspect my sisters have talked so much about it over the years that I have assumed what they believe are their memories as my own, especially as I was so young.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 16, 2020, 8:34pm

23. Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch I suppose this must be called fantasy, since it involves magic and various gods and demi-gods as many of the characters.

The protagonist learns that he is a sensitive when he tries to take a witness statement from a ghost. He is a new constable, and no one has noticed that he has any virtues as a policeman. He is about to be shunted off to the unit that does only paperwork, although this is not to his taste, when he comes to the notice of the secret part of the constabulary--the part that deals with magic and magic practitioners.

This section appears to have only two employees, Peter Grant, new constable, and as his governor, Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale, a magic practitioner. Immediately, they get involved with the solving of a complicated murder, and then they must broker an agreement between the Old Man of the Thames, and Mama Thames, who are feuding.The murder was interesting, but the part about the personifications of the River were great! It reminded me of an allegory, with the Rivers speaking. They are jealous of their dignity and territory, and they have many children, all the tributaries of the River, many of whom where co-opted or greatly diminished by the building of the great sewer system after the Big Stink. The Old Man is clearly a Celtic landsman of some sort, or a waterman, but he lives in the marshy area where the Thames arises. He governs the River from the headwaters to the place where the tidal flow ends--the end of the estuary. Mama Thames lives in London, and governs the estuary of the Thames.

Needless to say, the young constable is left holding the bag when his governor is unconscious in the hospital. Of course, he solves the murder, and then he brokers the peace on the River. He may not have been as efficient as one might wish, but it's done. He finds that he is susceptible to the wiles of the nymphs and the water elementals in Mama's court, but he also finds that he can resist and still make some progress.

This was wonderful, and I sent for the second volume in this series immediately. I don't give stars, but this might qualify for five. It was a purely English Magic, too. It showed great love for London, with no hint of obfuscation of her faults.

helmikuu 13, 2020, 7:31pm

>61 sallypursell: As I was reading your earlier reviews I thought of recommending the Rivers of London series to you! I am glad you enjoyed it.

helmikuu 13, 2020, 7:47pm

>60 AlisonY: Oh, I understand, Alison. I have memories which are know are not memories, but what I have been told. These are things that I reported at the time, and have spoken of often since, so while some may be changed, and some may be manufactured, I have evidence and witnesses from the original events.

For some reason the hauntings seemed to follow me, and almost every place I have lived has had inexplicable events and apparitions. When I was about 20 I shared an apartment with my husband and his good friend Dan. We spoke, quite 25 years later, about the apparitions in that apartment, and Dan shocked me by saying, "Oh, do you mean that guy in the trench-coat who used to walk through the pantry after appearing in the dining room?" We had never spoken about this, but that was a great quick description of the event. We verified details later, and our experiences seemed to be identical. We were in our late 40s at the time of the conversation, and Dan had never mentioned this before this time, certainly not while we were living together.

I won't be offended if you take this with a grain of salt. I have doubts myself, after all. I have been very chary with calling anything paranormal, but I have either journals from the time or witnesses of the events, so I remain at least willing to say that I have soft evidence. It's not really important, anyway.

helmikuu 16, 2020, 4:40am

>63 sallypursell: it's interesting, though. I guess with the paranormal it's a case of if you see it / experience it then you can more easily believe it, whilst if you haven't had any paranormal experience then it's hard to believe in. (I've just reread that and I'm not sure it makes complete sense, but hopefully you get my gist).

helmikuu 16, 2020, 5:55pm

>64 AlisonY: Alison, for me it is more like, if you see or experience it you have to decide if you have 1. misapprehended the event, 2. fooled yourself, 3. have visual hallucinations, or 4. are a true witness. Since I don't otherwise have hallucinations, and I have carefully considered other possible causes, and have contemporaneous written memories, and my memories accord with those of others who are present, I have to believe it.

helmikuu 21, 2020, 1:08am

24. Death in Blue Folders by Margaret Maron

I put these on request at my library, so of course they came in too many at a time. That accounts for me reading another one of this series so soon after the last one.

A New York attorney has been murdered in his office, and his files wildly scattered about. Did someone come to collect some blackmail material? Was it the person who had a late appointment with the lawyer? What is different about the mysterious blue folders that are locked in his desk? Why do the secretaries never handle these or file in these? One of the clients has had a long-lost grandson returned. Is it the real child? What could anyone gain if it isn't? The famous actress in the clientele supposedly committed suicide years ago. Why is the lawyer so busy with her estate? And why is there a cleaning lady that has no work to do because cleaning is supplied by the landlord? She claims to polish the furniture and buff the leather. Why would the attorney pay her personally for this?

Sigrid Harald of the police leads on the case. Will they ever figure this out? Sigrid actually goes on a date during this case. How did that happen? She never dates, and this is a suspect from an earlier case. Odd.

I think these are getting better.

helmikuu 21, 2020, 3:30pm

25. The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag by Alan Bradlley. How to explain Flavia de Luce? She is a motherless 11 year-old, living with little supervision in a crumbling estate, and is a member of a family known "since the Battle of Hastings", she says. She knows that she is intelligent, but not how intelligent, and it is considerably so. Her hobby is chemistry, and she has a particular interest in poisons, as well as a fabulous laboratory, which was left derelict in the house by a great-uncle who was a member of the wealthy, but passionately hard-working, naturalists of the last century. Her two older sisters are malicious, and also very intelligent. Her father is rather absent-minded as a parent, and the servants and village residents help to control Flavia's behavior, but no one is up to her speed. Her other hobby, recent, is solving mysteries, and in this book she focuses on the second one this year which comes to her attention.

The title comes from a poem written by Sir Walter Raleigh, which is offered at the beginning of the book. Flavia's solution comes from all the little things that the village denizens tell her that they would never tell the police, or that the police would disregard. The rest is from her extremely fertile brain. All that she sees is given to us, but I was no more cognizant of these than the police were.

An amazing scene shows us Flavia saving someone from fatal poisoning, using the items around her. She mixes an effective antidote from pigeon eggs and droppings, and of course, it works. Which brings to mind one of those dilemmas one muses about in idle moments--this one being, "Should one approximate what a doctor what do in an emergency, if the alternative is death? Even if one can only do it in part? Would being guilty of practicing medicine without a license be worth it? What if it didn't work? Would that be wrongful death? How would one ever forgive oneself if it didn't work? How could one not try, if medical care is not nearby?

helmikuu 21, 2020, 3:45pm

26. You won't believe what I just read! I was so intensely curious. It was Curves for the Sheikh by Annabelle Winters. I didn't know whether to expect some soft-core rape story, or what? My imagination was not up to the task. It was simply a rather sappy romance, entirely consensual, but also unbelievable. We're supposed to believe that this Sheik had a fueling stop in Minnesota and fell at first sight for this ordinary waitress. She is an uncommonly strong woman who raised a sister by herself, and doesn't really trust men. Poof! All problems eventually gone, and the book ends with a wedding.

This was just as terrible as it sounds. What a waste of my time. I guess I couldn't guess something this banal.

helmikuu 22, 2020, 9:05am

>51 sallypursell: Congratulations on another grandchild! You are lucky. I just have one. :(

Trying to catch up here... Great comments, by the way. I get a very clear idea of the books from them.

I enjoyed the Sigrid Harald series, but I read most of them before the Deborah Knott series, which I liked better.

I don't read much paranormal -- I have a hard time suspending disbelief.

I read the first Becky Chambers book and quite enjoyed it. I should look for the others.

helmikuu 26, 2020, 6:16pm

27. A Great Deliverance byElizabeth George

This is the first in what, I understand, is a long-running series. It concerns the first case together of Inspector Thomas Lynley, Eighth Earl of Asherton, and Barbara Havers, Detective Sergeant. He is an aristocrat by birth, and it is impossible to say why, is the type of man whom everyone loves: he is handsome, generous, hard-working but fun, and has an instinct for this work. Barbara Havers is unhandsome, prickly and ungenerous, hard-working, but in no way fun. She is grim and unforgiving, and she is the exception to the rule--she not only doesn't like and admire the Inspector, but instead, she hates him. She has been paired with Lynley in this case as a make or break. If she fails again, as she has failed to get along with so many other inspectors, she will never get a chance again at promotion to the CID. After having been reassigned to the street after the last debacle with a different inspector, she is bitter, and more prickly than her typical. We have been shown her home life, and it is awful. His, of course, is glittering, although he has a wrenching secret sorrow. He has mis-managed an earlier engagement, and the woman he truly loves is marrying another man: his best friend. He manages his Best Man position beautifully, as that is his habit, but his pain is just as you might expect.

The case will try him. An unlovely woman in an unlovely town is accused of killing her father, and strangely, her dog. She refuses to say anything, except an initial, brief, confession. The detectives do the usual routine; they look into the lives of the victim and the possible protagonist; they consider the crime scene carefully; they speak to everyone who might have a perspective on the crime; they speak to the available family; they look for forensic and other information; and they practically take apart the environs of the crime, looking for information. What they find is a life belonging to a proud and judgmental man, the victim, and a sordid and depressing setting for the life of the possible murderer. With some difficulty, they reconstruct the family's life. Lynley is quite repelled, but he is as compassionate and kind as he always is, even to his sergeant, who behaves very ill at first. It is clear that she will come to be his great admirer and will have a burning loyalty to him, for his great indulgence of her, and his sympathy to the daughters of the victim. The murder is solved.

This was very well done, and the difficult emotions were well handled. We never have to feel them ourselves, thank goodness, but they are clear and nearly painful even to contemplate. We are glad to shake the dust of the village from our feet as we leave.

helmikuu 26, 2020, 7:32pm

28. A Spanish Lover by Joanna Trollope

This was very much better than I expected, being a discard of my library's and therefore, free! Yes, she is a descendant of the Anthony Trollope you know of, and I understand that she writes historical novels, at least one non-fiction, and novels in the modern period, of which this is one. I thought this was so good that I wondered if the Trollope name had mesmerized me, so I went to see if any professional reviews had been published.

I happened upon a New York Times Book Review of this, so here it is:

It's always a pleasure to read the work of the British novelist Joanna Trollope. In A SPANISH LOVER (Random House, $23), as in ''The Men and the Girls,'' ''The Rector's Wife'' and ''The Choir,'' she offers us picturesque English villages and their appealing if troubled inhabitants. But this time, the Ur-Britishness seems less central to our enjoyment of the novel. Lizzie (happily married, professionally proficient, mother of four) and Frances (none of the above) are twins who have the sort of relationship in which Frances' needs are subsumed within Lizzie's bustling family life. But when Frances becomes passionately involved with a married Spaniard, everything changes, and her actions touch off a series of events that spiral downward as her relationship heats up: Lizzie's children run amok, Lizzie and Frances' mother leaves their father, and finally Lizzie's business and then her own marriage begin to falter. When disappointed by life, nearly all of Ms. Trollope's well-realized and likable characters blame only themselves, making every effort to shape up without undue whining or finger pointing. Along the way, Ms. Trollope gives us much to savor. Her story is filled with lively, astute and always affectionate insights into the abiding issues of marriage, motherhood and materialism, not to mention the destructive power of envy and the importance of living one's own life. Betsy Groban

It would have been good--the twin's relationship was especially rich--without the last section, when the twin with the family becomes ashamed of herself due to the jealously she feels for the romantic adventure of the other twin--and the second twin feels both a little smug, and somewhat let down when her lover transfers his most avid love to the son she bears him. It was so much more sensitive than I expected.

maaliskuu 3, 2020, 4:54pm

>70 sallypursell: I read quite a lot of the Elizabeth George books until, I suppose, I had just had enough.

maaliskuu 3, 2020, 10:40pm

29. The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths. This is book six of the Dr. Ruth Galloway series, about a forensic archaeologist who consults with the police about findings of bones in unexpected places, particularly in unsanctioned burials. This continues both the professional activities, and the complicated story of her, life as a single mother who is involved with the married police Detective Inspector in her local area. It opens with a very effective description and quotations inviting prayer and the intercession of god on all cases where a properly-conducted and licensed burial did not take place. This ceremony is held once a year. Ruth is interested, although she is an unbeliever, because she has been involved with a case in which was found the burial of a woman with a hook for a hand. It may have been the body of a notorious child-minder of the mid 19th century who was hanged for the murder of the children in her care. The stories about her, sometimes used to frighten misbehaving children, call her Mother Hook.

Ruth is also dealing tangentially with cases of serial child abductions, all while being interviewed on camera for a documentary series called Women Who Kill. Naturally she is worried that her own toddler will be one of the kidnapped, but it happens that a child who is kidnapped is the daughter of one of DCI Nelson's Detective Sergeants, and Ruth becomes involved in the rescue of DS Judy's child. DCI Nelson, the father of Ruth's daughter, snarls at Ruth, probably due to his anxiety about the safety of their joint daughter, Kate, whom he has not publicly acknowledged.
Nelson is dealing professionally with the murder of three children. He believes that their mother might be guilty, but following this theory will make him extremely unpopular with the press and the populace, all of whom feel nothing but sympathy for this poor mother. All of her children were killed, and they were very young, one still a baby.

Another satisfying example of Ruth's story, but this one was a little too diffuse, with so many plots going on at once. I didn't dislike that, I just needed to follow closely.

>72 avaland: I can certainly see how that could happen, Lois.

maaliskuu 4, 2020, 3:02pm

I also read the first two or three by George, Sally, and then I'd had enough.

I love Ruth but agree this wasn't one of the strongest in the series.

maaliskuu 6, 2020, 10:59pm

30. Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber This author has written a lot of books, and is very popular. This book is highly lauded by many readers, too. There were a number of very interesting plot points and interpersonal connections, but I didn't like this as much as many people did. It is of the "heart-warming" category of stories, and lacks the edge that better stories catch.

Technically, I guess this is Magic Realism, as a quotation says on the cover. Anna Kate Callow returns to the town of Wicklow, a small Southern town of the busybody kind. Her grandmother left her a cafe and house in town, and the will says that she has to run the cafe for two months or forfeit the estate. Anna Kate has a place at a medical school in the fall, and greatly wants to follow through, but she discovers that selling the cafe and leaving town are going to be harder than she thought. The cafe is beloved, and the "Blackbird Pie" that it is known for has the reputation of granting important dreams in which people can commune with the spirits of their beloved dead.

She finds that she really likes this different kind of ministering to people, and really likes discovering the secret to making the effective Blackbird Pie, which is really a mixed berry pie. She is eventually able to make the pie that people count on, the one that gives the dreams.

There are puzzles to be solved, a man to find, although she is not actively seeking, and friends to make. She reconciles with her father's family, who had ostracized her mother when the pregnancy was discovered, because the mother was not of her father's social class. Her mother had felt obligated to leave town due to the father's family's influence and ill-will. Now the whole town is on Anna Kate's side, and the cafe is becoming famous, because bird-watchers and bird scientists are flocking to the town {tee hee} to observe the aberrant behavior of the many blackbirds there, who don't seem to follow the pattern of the "normal" blackbird. A "charming and yes, heartwarming" story, that passed pleasantly and was effortless to read, but amounted to nothing.

maaliskuu 6, 2020, 11:28pm

31. The Stars, Like Dust by Isaac Asimov

A young man is away from home at University, on Earth. He is awakened from placidity by an attempt on his life in his dormitory building. He then discovers that his father, the Rancher of Widemos, has been politically slandered and then murdered on his home planet. A "Rancher" enjoys the role of a highly-ranked and respected planetary Governor, and in this case, the position is a hereditory one. The newly deceased Rancher was both loved and approved of by his people. Biron Farrill, the young man, decides to leave school and investigate the event which resulted in his father's death. This brings him into direct opposition to a large galactic faction. His goal to win out over his powerful opponents and take up his position as the new Rancher of Widemos places in him in great danger, as the political hegemony which plotted to murder his father would like to eliminate him, too. They want especially to silence him. He, on the other hand, believes the popularity of his father will bring him a lot of support.

As is common for him, Asimov explores different kinds of government in his Science Fiction. He also continues to describe parts of the universe he has fashioned, the one which includes his Foundation Trilogy, and the majority of his novels about robotics and artificial intelligence. I never seem to enjoy political intrigue in stories, and therefore this is one of the books of Asimov's which I didn't really love. This isn't among his most interesting books, but it is Asimov, and he's never really bad.

maaliskuu 7, 2020, 1:14am

>70 sallypursell: >72 avaland: >74 BLBera: I’ve never been able to decide whether I dislike Elizabeth George because she really is a bad writer, or whether I’m just being snobbish about Americans who set their books in Britain. Or even whether I disapprove of her persistent violation of the convention that fictional earls were put into the world in order to be found dead in the library...

Either way, I can’t help feeling that there’s a whiff of Little Lord Fauntleroy about it all — a guilt-free way for Americans to enjoy reading about the English aristocracy...

maaliskuu 7, 2020, 9:47pm

maaliskuu 9, 2020, 11:35pm

32. The Last Hero by Leslie Charteris This is the 1931 novel which was the second in "The Saint" series. The Saint, is, of course, Simon Templar, a man who exasperates the police and magistrates, and who terrifies the criminals of Europe. He steals from the rich, and although he does take care of some of the poor, and support a number of team members, he doesn't mind enriching himself and living well. He has fine cars, and cigars, and a sizable house near, but not in, London. He keeps track of the most heinous career criminals all over Europe and the United States, and will intervene just when they make their moves, often taking them by surprise. He is apt to deliver them, and the proof of their crimes, to the Police, and he knows that Chief Inspector Claude Eustace Teal is implacable and not at all stupid, even if he isn't up to Simon's weight-class of brains and nerves.

Simon is ruthless, but is a protector of women, children, and the common man. He can drink you under the table, take any amount of pain while joshing you, and pull off a complicated rescue by himself. He will call you "mon ange" and the bad guys "my beauty". He makes decisions faster than anyone else.

This hardback I have is actually from 1931, and the type-face looks naif to me. I think it could be called an example of pulp fiction. The Saint is the man whom you might aspire to be: brave, brilliant, and endlessly stylish. This adventure is too complicated to explain, and the point is the Saint and his men. They nearly die, and the Saint must rescue the only woman about whom he has ever been serious. This is all during an adventure during which Simon takes prisoner the inventor-doctor of a terrible death ray, which he explains is too horrible to be used in war. He believes war is coming. He's right, too; this takes place shortly before the First World War.

Altogether, great fun, and if the men over-protect the women and treat them as a little less in the brains and nerve department, well, Simon Templar's own woman is plucky and competent enough to take the sting out of it. Old-fashioned, and great escape literature!

maaliskuu 10, 2020, 11:28am

>79 sallypursell: that sounds FUN!

maaliskuu 10, 2020, 2:56pm

Thank you for reminding me of the Saint books. It's the last golden age mystery/noir/action series from my parents' bookshelves that I haven't read.

maaliskuu 10, 2020, 9:26pm

>80 wandering_star: It is! My sister adores them, and has almost a full collection. He wrote these over many years, and Simon gets a little more modern all the time. Charteris himself wrote more than a hundred books about the Saint, from 1928 to 1963, and edited all the books written from 1963 to 1983, when the last book was published. There were a number of Saint movies, and four different television series

>81 mabith: I think you have a treat in store. While I haven't liked all the ones I have read, most of them were sheer fun.

maaliskuu 10, 2020, 10:03pm

>77 thorold: There is another function for Earls in fiction, thorold. They are also in existence in order to marry the governess or the impoverished village girl who is finer than her station, and thus be ennobled. There are countless romance novels which have this plot, but I presume you don't read Regency Romance novels. Anyway, otherwise, I couldn't agree more about earls.

maaliskuu 10, 2020, 10:37pm

33. Circle of Quilters: An Elm Creek Quilts novel by Jennifer Chiaverini This was another book being deaccessioned by my local public library, and therefore free to me, to take home and cherish. Only I won't be cherishing this one; it was insipid.
I have read only one other novel in this series, and it was equally vapid.

The Elm Quilt Quilter's retreat, which is situated in a countryside mansion in Pennsylvania, has advertised for two full-time faculty members, who can live in if desired, to teach quilting and various quilting skills and techniques. This book tells the background story of all the women who have been invited to the retreat for an interview after the initial applicants have been winnowed. It further tells of each interview in detail, and the resultant decision that was made by the entire full-time staff. The book is not without some conflict in the applicants' lives and in the decision-making, but somehow we are not really invited to share the feelings these engender. We are described them in some detail, and we can rejoice with the winners when they are chosen, however. It was one of those books where the feeling is that everything always comes out for the best. The pleasantness that we are invited to share is heartfelt, and it comes across. I think if the unpleasantness we are told about came across as well, these would be better books. I can't really dislike them: they are so very nice. Still, I don't feel like recommending them. They are of the "heart-warming" variety, and to some of the quilting enthusiasts I know, these are solid gold. Many people read books just to find books with this very feeling, and I can't argue with that. This is just not to my taste, although the quilting stuff is sometimes interesting.

maaliskuu 10, 2020, 11:24pm

34. Moon over Soho by Ben Aaronovitch

This is the second book in the Rivers of London series. Detective-Constable Peter Grant is called to the morgue to witness a corpse which plays the jazz classic, "Body and Soul". He would really like to know why. Something violently supernatural must have happened to him, and given the tendency of jazz musicians to self-destruct, Peter doesn't believe he is the first of the victims. Even Peter's father, the former jazz great Richard, "Lord" Grant, a trumpeter who has managed to scuttle his career twice, shows some signs of having succumbed to a catastrophe once while playing transcendentally. Peter wants to know how and why, and wants to understand the nature of the "Jazz vampires" who seem to be skimming beauty from whichever artists who rise significantly over their fellows. They collapse while playing, or they deteriorate suddenly just after. Some might as well have Alzheimer's Disease, judging from their behavior and speech.

The girlfriend of the aforementioned musical corpse begins to come on to Peter, and she and her sisters are involved in actively promoting vampires' well-being and product. Strangely, she hardly remembers her former serious lover, Cyrus Wilkinson, the gentleman who plays "Body and Soul". Instead, she can barely refrain from shagging Peter, as many times a day as physiology permits. It is a complicated plot in which they are involved, but it has taken over Simone and her sisters.They are externally normal, but, in truth, they do little more than go to Jazz clubs and identify gifted players. "Lord" Grant was one of their near-misses, many years ago when they were new--1920's. They have long life and youth, if having that is worth their current life-style. Peter figures it out, using more of the magic that he has recently mastered. He evades danger and damage, and works out a merciful response to the sisters' dilemma.

This is a truly mesmerizing series! Looking forward to more.

maaliskuu 11, 2020, 12:28am

35. Other Minds; The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith. There are only a few books that I read, go back to the beginning, and read again immediately, but this is one of them. I finished this book on March 7, and started it again on March 8. It is not that I didn't get it the first time, it was merely that I wanted to experience it all again, and I wanted to understand his allusions and explanatory material better than I had the first time. Peter Godfrey-Smith is a Philosopher, not a Biologist of any kind, and that explains the approach he takes. I am savoring it.

He discusses first, his encounters with these most intelligent animals which are little-related to us. The split in Evolution which led to us and to the octopus, a radially-symmetrical animal with very few bones, one that can escape through a hole little bigger than the size of its eye, took place about 600 million years ago. Both octopuses and men are the pinnacle of their paths of evolution; each has the same amount of development behind it; each is the crown of creation, so to speak.

We are so different that there is no way to determine their intelligence or motives, although not for lack of studies and encounters during which we try. One of the most difficult things seems to be their personalities. One experimenter found that one wag of an octopus learned to squirt water on the light switch so as to turn off the lights, and when he leaned over the tank, he got squirted in the face. In that case, it seemed that the octopus was bored with pulling levers for food, and wanted to make some mischief for amusement. Another poser is this one: octopuses seem to signal with color abundantly, but they seem to be colorblind.

Another section, then, covers research, and the issues and problems in discovering the whys and wherefores of the octopuses.

An early section covers what we know about the evolutionary development of the octopus. We have some idea of their earliest ancestors, in, or just before, the Cambrian Explosion. Huge changes occur as other animals develop and split off with octopuses, cuttlefish, and the Nautilus, a further enigma. First, possibly the sponges branch off, then the jellyfish, and finally, about 600 million years ago, the great split with results in one group with backbones, the Vertebrates, and one group without, which includes the arthropods, like ants and lobsters. Vertebrates include all the mammals and fish, and anything else with a backbone. When the nerve cells, the neurons, began, is anyone's guess. When these began to migrate to one place so as to make up a brain, we don't know either. Why the octopuses settled for a distributed brain, with nerve fibers in many places, is equally unknown.

Godfrey-Smith goes on to detail some octopus behavior he has witnessed and photographed. Some of his photographs are riveting.

The short octopus life cycle is described, and a theoretical basis on which aging makes sense in evolution. This finishes the book.

I don't believe that I have given a good description of the great thought behind most of these sections, and the depth of the implications. If I feel I can do a better job after reading again, I may make some further comments. If not, then I believe I will leave it at this.

Not a very long book, and highly recommended to all.

maaliskuu 11, 2020, 7:30am

>86 sallypursell: Glad to hear more good things about this one. I picked up a copy because I read/reviewed/really liked Sy Montgomery's The Soul of an Octopus and am interested in something a little more sciencey.

maaliskuu 11, 2020, 11:36pm

>87 lisapeet: Lisa, after reading this I feel the same--I want something yet more sciencey. I'll need to look in professional literature, though, to get more sciencey than this.

maaliskuu 19, 2020, 3:42am

36. Macroscope by Piers Anthony This is a re-read for me of a book that was a favorite on mine in the 70's. It is very large in scope, and will be hard to summarize.

A Scientific Station above the atmosphere of Earth has detected incontrovertible evidence of another civilization. They were able to perceive what seemed like a radio broadcast giving details of many next-level discoveries and even more engineering projects to advance and make more comfortable anyone who used them. Unfortunately, they are housed in a carrier wave which begins with building a vocabulary of symbols. The problem is that any highly intelligent person who experiences the sequence becomes transfixed, and ultimately experiences a sequence which leaves him in a state of near catatonia. The station has lost the six top scientists, and since then, all the brilliant people are afraid to watch it; this leaves them unable to employ the technical and scientific instruction that is available there.

The head of the project is a Dr. Bradley Carpenter, and he has an idea for a way to approach this problem. Dr. Carpenter is one of the people who has eschewed watching The Destroyer, which is the Station’s name for the carrier wave, knowing that he would not survive it intact. He sends for a friend, Ivo Archer, who has access to another friend they call Schön. Ivo, Brad, and Schön were all products of a eugenics program. A large number of intelligent and skilled people were encouraged only to marry and have children with another member of the same group. The children were raised in a crèche, where they were given some instruction, but allowed to mainly learn on their own, and teach each other. Every child could read by the age of three. The children were given a great deal of freedom, and very little supervision, although they were surreptitiously watched at all times. The obvious events took place, including some interpersonal dynamics which were distasteful, and a great deal of sexual experimentation, all of which was allowed, and took place much earlier than the observers expected. Although there were two children with IQ's among the highest levels of those ever observed in humankind, these being Brad and Schön, and there were many bright and brilliant children, the project was judged a failure. This conclusion was reached because the students still fell into a normal bell-curve distribution, with some students with IQ's around 100. Central Tendency was still observed; the bulk of the children’s IQ's showing a range centered around 115, rather than 100. That means that nearly 95% of the children were in the 85 to 130 range.

The book tells the story of the solution to the problem, how it is found, and some of the uses for the advanced tech that the team discovered. Many fascinating puzzles go by; the discovery of how humans can travel at speeds they cannot survive for a period long enough to get them around the solar system, and then how to travel faster than light (FTL). Ivo does turn out to be the critical member of the team, and Schön does show up and make a contribution. There are interesting sections involving a former Poet Laureate of the United States, Sidney Lanier, and even a side journey into some tenets of Astrology in which one member of the team dabbles for relaxation. As we approach the end, Ivo finds that this project was what he needed to complete his maturation.

I can’t tell you how much I really like this book. It is by no means a great book; it is only barely a very good book. But it has so many things that push my buttons. It is a thick book, and I know I have read it more than 20 times. Only recommended to those who like these topics.

maaliskuu 19, 2020, 6:48am

>89 sallypursell: Twenty times or more is a lot. I think we all have books that push our buttons (although, admittedly, I doubt I can come up with a book I have read even half as many times). I never read Piers Anthony.

maaliskuu 19, 2020, 1:23pm

>90 avaland: Different buttons, indeed because it's been a while, but I remember absolutely hating that one, myself. But that may have been mostly because it pushes my "ranting about how stupid astrology is" button. That is a very sensitive button for me, I admit. When you've studied/work in astronomy, it only takes a couple of instances of people going, "Oh, you're an astrologer! Let me ask you about my star sign!" to set you off for life. :)

maaliskuu 19, 2020, 3:07pm

>91 bragan: Well I don't work in astronomy but I feel the same way, so you've got company there.

maaliskuu 19, 2020, 3:33pm

>91 bragan: Carl Sagan complains about that at some length too. He quotes some alarming numbers for how many Americans work in astrology and how many in astrophysics.

maaliskuu 20, 2020, 1:14am

I looked into Astrology rather deeply at one point, mainly in an effort to have an effective way to discount it, only to find that it worked uncannily well. I have always assumed that this worked by confirmation bias, and other fallacies of logic. At one point, though, my husband and I needed to pick a wedding date, with three possible at my church. We had no way to pick one, since all the dates were fine, but, for amusement, we chose the date based on what Astrology said about the success of the marriage. There was a clear "best" date and time, so we chose that one. I do not believe that this was why, but we have had every success, and have been married 46 years this month. It is a funny curiosity to us. My father worked in the space program, if you remember, and I'm mostly hard-headed, so I don't "believe" in Astrology. I just think it is fun, My earlier studies meant that I understood all the astrological notes in the book,

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 20, 2020, 1:44am

>90 avaland: There are a great many books I have read twenty times. I found reading them so pleasurable, and I had only a certain number of books available, since we lived almost four miles from the library, and my mother did not drive. Since I read from one to three books every day, I needed a lot of printed material. I'm the person who read Heidi 53 times in one year: I allowed myself once a week and I kept to that time-table. It was one of the last weeks that I allowed the one extra time. I've read the Bible through more than ten times, and the Bhagavad-Gita quite a number of times, too. There was Scottish Chiefs, and Morte D'Arthur, Robin Hood, and Ivanhoe, Bullfinch's Mythology, and The Blue Fairy Book, and Treasure Island, and Sherlock Holmes and Father Brown, and Witch World, and one of my very favorites. Around the World in Eighty Days. The Jungle Book and Kon-Tiki, Little Women and Freckles all came in for many multiple readings, not to mention Dicken's works, and The Three Musketeers, and Lamb's tales from Shakespeare. My gosh, and the Nero Wolf stories, and Agatha Christie, and Rebecca, and let's not forget Time at the Top, and My Father's Dragon. Eventually there was Lord of the Rings, and I forgot The Secret Garden and Green Mansions, and Franny and Zoey and Freud when I was just a little older. All of those books were read multiple times, quite a few of them ten or more times, most of them more than 20 times.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 3, 2020, 8:48am

Deleted because it was a second posting of the previous entry.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 20, 2020, 7:41am

I clearly was not as compulsive a reader as you, but I would read everything I could get my hands on. It was 8 people in a very small house, so hard to find a quiet corner, and I had other solitary activities (i.e. drawing, painting, writing poetry or in my "diary", building precarious cabins or tree houses, digging up the lawn to make a garden, rescuing dying birds— all when not playing with siblings. As a girl I was not allowed to roam the neighborhood). I understand about the no car thing. During the summers reading was tough as we had a similar problem: we had the one car, my mother didn't drive* and the town library was 10 miles away (as the crow flies it was probably less than two, but alas, there was no bridge and low tide was not low enough) thus, sadly, I never was in that town library, although I do know they have a very nice large modern library more in the center of the town now.

*I learned after my father's death that my mother always had a license during those years but she must have ceased driving when she married because I never saw her drive until 1982 after my father's death.

I read Kon-Tiki and did a 7th grade book report on it.

maaliskuu 20, 2020, 2:57pm

>97 avaland: Going outside has always been painful for me. I see better now, but I saw very poorly. I am allergic to grass and pollens, the sun makes my joints swell, and I get a facial rash, I can't see in bright light unless it is very diffuse, and I can't see in dim light. Insects adore me; if I am there, others are mostly safe from insect bites. My joints have been sore almost all my life: exercise makes them dramatically worse. I am better now, but I had a headache most of every day, and sometimes migraines. I actually got the 50's equivalent of a brain tumor workup over the one time I had a headache for longer than two years. I also see multiple images of things, so it is hard to avoid the edges of things. I am clumsy, and I fall down or run into things constantly. I can't draw. I had no money for yarn or fabric, and didn't have a sewing machine, anyway. I can't catch a ball, or kick a ball. I never got picked for anything.

Reading was constant pleasure. I didn't have to please anyone else. I could ignore the pain if I was reading, and if I held the book closely, I could always arrange it to see well enough. I had seven siblings, and it was always riotous in the house, but I could be alone if I was reading. Oh, I did do something else--housework and childcare. I loved my younger siblings, but my allergy to house dust meant that housework gave me a headache and eye pain and a runny nose. I liked childcare. I have always wanted a large family, and I guess these days four children qualifies.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 2020, 3:52pm

>97 avaland: >98 sallypursell: I was also a compulsive child reader, and still am so as an adult. My mom would constantly tell me to get my nose out of the book, no reading at the dinner table. I always had a book with me, and I still do that. We lived within walking distance of the small branch library, and went there several times a week during the summer. Sometimes I would check out the maximum number of books allowed for a kid, read them all in one day, and go back the next day for more, or read the same ones again. I did not like or excel at sports, and was also last picked for any team. (When the branch library closed, my dad took me to the bookmobile.)

I was happiest when I was reading. When we took the Iowa Test of Basic Skills in school, I scored at the 12th grade level when I was in 6th grade. When I was in high school, my friend and I wrote shared stories with illustrations and exchanged notes with them during passing time in the halls--one of us would continue the story where the other one left off. I cannot imagine life without books and reading.

maaliskuu 21, 2020, 10:10pm

>99 LadyoftheLodge: That's my story, except for the friend.

maaliskuu 21, 2020, 10:24pm

37 Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams This is a sequel to The Bromance Book Club about some prominent citizens, all male, most of them sports figures, who read romance books in order to know how to please their wives, to know how women want to be treated.

In this novel, a celebrity restaurateur appeals to the club members to set up a sting on a celebrity chef who mistreats women, and uses sexual harassment to control people he thinks might try to expose him. This restaurateur is very taken with the chief character, a sous chef who was fired when she saw what the celebrity chef was doing to a more passive employee that was being physically and sexually abused. He also applies to the club members to help him settle the feathers of the sous chef, Liv, and advance his romantic interests with her.

I didn't like this as well as the first book, but there were some very effective scenes, and I did enjoy it.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 21, 2020, 10:40pm

38 A Red Herring Without Mustard by Alan Bradley This is another book starring the irrepressible Flavia de Luce, the young sleuth in her country village. She is a star chemist, although no one knows this, and her knowledge of organic and inorganic chemistry materially assist her in solving crimes.

Once again, there is a murder. This time the deceased is an old Gypsy woman who tells Flavia her fortune, and just happens to hit on something that can be taken to refer to Flavia's dead mother. It was simply a cold reading ploy, but Flavia does not realize this, and when Flavia goes back to the fortune teller to learn more. She finds the elderly woman dead, with her head battered in by her crystal ball. This appears to relate to a story that this Gypsy woman abducted a baby from the village. Flavia finds evidence of an underground religious cult left over from the English Civil War, and eventually learns that the baby was killed by its mother in a riverine submersing baptisimal ritual gone wrong. The baby's body is recovered. Flavia continues to solve crimes by talking to the village people, listening to people whom the police would not use, putting the disparate pieces together and using her formidable brain. She may be only 11 years old, but she can solve a murder, no matter how many times the police ask her to refrain from getting involved.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 6, 2020, 12:46am

One of my brothers lent me a book called Lilith's Brood, which was a compilation of three novels by Octavia E. Butler
39. Dawn
40. Adulthood Rites and
41. Imago

They tell a story in which Lilith, the mother of a clan, tries to resolve a difficult issue in living with aliens called the Oankali. Mankind has destroyed the Earth by the expected means. This is not really detailed, but I believe that nuclear strikes were involved. The Oankali are in the process of saving humanity by merging their DNA with Oankali DNA, resulting in hybrids which horrify many humans, who are living in small enclaves and villages in Earth. The Oankali have made humans infertile without Oankali control of their DNA.Those people who object to the proposed method of merging Oankali & humans prefer to die out rather than merge with the aversive Oankali.

Lilith is in the unfortunate position of being an ambassador to humankind from the Oankali, and she has put her money where her mouth is, and joined a group marriage composed of Oankali and her. The Oankali can manipulate human feelings (and some Oankali's) to give them amazing pleasure during the mating process. Lilith has borne a number of children to this group, and she is a mother to a number of others who were carried in the birth process by female Oankali, ending in each child having five parents, with the one Oankali mixing the DNA of all five. There is, of course, great tragedy as the human resisters attack the Oankali family, who all live together. They also kill each other, as humans will.

Eventually Lilith brokers an agreement in which the Oankali agree to restore human fertility to normal and move them to Mars, setting up a terraforming (or would that be marcialforming? areforming?) project which eventually will make Mars satisfactory, though living there now is hard, involving constant work and constant vigilance. The Oankali object to the project, feeling that Humankind does not deserve a second chance, after ruining and nearly destroying Earth. They feel sure that the same thing will happen again. Nevertheless Lilith has convinced them to try it, although she will help in persuading some humans to join with the Oankali rather than go to Mars. She is successful with some.

This was really very gripping much of the time, and the dilemmas were convincing. I liked it very much, and I always enjoy Butler's voice.

(edited to correct the name of one of the books, and to add a suggestion for naming terraforming of Mars.)

maaliskuu 22, 2020, 1:38pm

I’ve really enjoyed the Flavia books, Sally. Good entertainment for trying times. I’ve listened to all of them, and wonder if there will be more.

maaliskuu 27, 2020, 5:04pm

Hi Sally—kind of late for your Hawaii reading, and there's probably overlap, but I thought this was an interesting list. I have the novel written by the guy who put it together, Sharks in the Time of Saviors, but haven't read it yet.

Five Great Books on Hawai'i

maaliskuu 31, 2020, 6:57pm

>105 lisapeet: I needed a break for a little while, but I'm ready to go again, Lisa. Thank you, I will look for these. Of course, our public library is closed, so they may have to wait a little.

maaliskuu 31, 2020, 7:29pm

>104 NanaCC: I'm pleased to say that I'm only at the beginning.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 6, 2020, 12:41am

42. Trick or Treat by Kerry Greenwood Earthly Delights, Corinna Chapman's artisanal bakery in a large Australian city, is at a crisis. A cut-price bakery has opened down the street, and is selling boring, but adequate bread from a pre-mix, which makes it cheaper than Corinna's bread. Daniel has a friend visiting, and she is tall, blond, and gorgeous, causing Daniel to spend less time with Corinna and to be less attentive when he is present. Worst of all, there is a worrying slew of cases of ergotism in their block, and the health authorities close both bakeries to do an investigation. Earthly Delights, after an early test that was positive for ergot, ends up with a clean bill of health; the new bakery ends up being the source. Just when her bakery is doing poorly due to no revenue (shades of corona virus!), the woman visiting Daniel tries to pressure Corinna into selling her the bakery.

Eventually, all is well. Daniel's "friend" retires from the field of local commerce, the ergot problem is solved and the other baker is saved, Daniel becomes attentive again, Corinna's inspired cupcake baker invents a triumph, Corinna's shop-girls each get a small speaking role in a show, and are encouraged to gain a little weight in order to look more "normal", and all people of ill intent are discovered and arrested, and the bakery is allowed to open again. "Insula", the apartment house, has a celebratory pot-luck around the impluvium, and all is right with the world.

huhtikuu 1, 2020, 3:50pm

43. Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J. Christopher Hannah Mayfield has been told one too many times that she's not "the kind of girl you marry" by guys who turned out to have families that were closet racists. She no longer wants to meet any guy's family, and she thinks she is finished with dating. You see, she is biracial, and apparently that's just too much for most people, and guys who don't mind dating her, even sleeping with her, get cold feet over marriage. She is very successful in her business of event-planning, and works for one of the premier firms in the city, but is a little "type-cast", so to speak, because she is given all the male-oriented events to plan, due to the fact that she can inject that sex appeal thread that they prefer. What she can't get assigned is a wedding, because her boss just doesn't see her as able to inject romance.

Enter Jack Nolan, a green-eyed handsome journalist, who has a job in these days of contraction of printed media. Trouble is, he also is "typed", in that he is allowed to do all the "fluff" he can stomach, and his videos are stupendously popular, but isn't allowed to do any "real news", which is his career goal. He makes a wager with his boss, that he will get a chance to do news if he can successfully pull off a story on "how to lose a girl in two weeks", to demonstrate all his theories about how not to be a dick in a dating relationship, by doing all the things he says not to do.

At the same time, Hannah's boss leads her to believe that she is getting one chance to do an important wedding with another planner, and her boss expects to see her at the wedding with a serious date, to demonstrate that she does believe in, and can live with real romance in her life.

They meet, and there is instant attraction. Soon, they are each one starting their best attempts at a temporary romance, since she intends to break it off after the wedding. She has to keep him hanging until after the wedding in two weeks, and he has to lose her in the same two weeks. He follows all his precepts to scare her off, or disrespect her, or insult her. He even sends the famous "dick pic", excuse the expression, please. He can't figure out why she seems to hang in no matter what, and she can't resolve how perfect he seems with his crude and insulting behavior. He introduces her to his family way too soon, but his family turns out to be pretty awesome, and they don't seem racist at all.

Eventually, they like each other so well that they decide they have to own up to their respective lies.
This goes about as well as you might guess. With time, and the intercession of his family, they do get back together, and we are treated to the proposal scene, in a pet shelter where they have agreed finally to get a puppy.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 3, 2020, 1:24am

I'm just recovering from a very long fibromyalgia flare. In this one the pain was just manageable, but the fatigue was crippling. I have spent about two weeks mostly in bed, sleeping often, and otherwise feeling like the gravity had been turned up a little. I wanted to do things, but I couldn't, and I couldn't figure out why. I felt useless, and worthless, and I know I was plaguing my husband with a million small requests. I couldn't get my temperature regulated, I couldn't get my feet warm the whole time. I also bothered my husband with queries about whether he still cared about me since I was so helpless. It felt like simple laziness until I stood up. I castigated myself endlessly for not being able to rise above this and do something, anything. I could read, but I couldn't seem to type more than a little, so everything else was neglected. I finally tried a walk, and made it to the neighbor's driveway before turning around and coming back--I kept getting dizzy and I didn't have the stamina to walk further. Even that made me breathe harder. Ick. I hate this disease. Thank goodness for my husband, who waited on me, reassured me, and told me I was sick, not lazy.

The good news is that I don't hate myself any more, and I managed to do a little sorting and filing of paperwork. I finally managed some comments on books, and I know I'm behind. I should be able to catch up soon.

Edited to just apologize for so much complaining. I know it isn't fun to read.

huhtikuu 3, 2020, 6:54am

>110 sallypursell: Sorry you have been ill, but glad your hubby reminded you to be kind to yourself. There are no deadlines here, only those you set for yourself.

huhtikuu 3, 2020, 7:03am

>111 avaland: Lois, I am usually merciless on myself. Got it from my high-achieving parents, I suspect. I'm pretty bad about my expectations of others, too, but I am constantly struck dumb by the grace of humans. In a hospital, one sees both the best and the worst of people, and it is always the best that affords me joy.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 25, 2020, 6:09pm

44. The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells

I had to pause when I got to this book, because I still don't know what I think about it. A young man, but a shape-shifter, has never seen anyone of his own species, although there are the Fell, cruel flighted beings who look vaguely like him, and who aim to eat mankind. They tend to eradicate any groups of humans they find; some as slaves, some as food.

Moon has lived mostly by himself in his life. His mother pushed him out of the nest, knowing he could fly, when the family were attacked by predators. His mother and sisters were killed and eaten. He escaped that, but was on his own too early in life.

For the last few years he has lived in small villages, living in his human shape. This gives him the society he seems to crave, but eventually he is found out, every time, and he barely escapes with his life yet again.

But now! A being just like himself has happened along. He has never before seen one, despite years of looking. This being, Stone, tells Moon that he need not be alone; that their race, the Raksura will welcome him and allow him to finally belong somewhere. Moon is suspicious, but goes along with Stone to learn more about this possibility.

All of what Stone says turns out to be true, but there is rather more to know. Moon is a rare fertile male, and they desperately need one. Birth rates have dropped, and sickness is rife. The colony needs to move, and they need Moon to help organize this, to fight the Fell who are their dire enemies, and to be a consort to the younger accessory queen, so that she can be fertile, too, and revitalize the colony.

Moon rises to the occasion; he makes friends with a tribe on the delta of the river for help moving so many people at once. They have just a few flying boats, and that will solve several problems at once. Moon manages a relationship with the younger queen, happens to do it without antagonizing the reigning Queen too much, who would like to have him for a consort first.

The move is successful, with only some losses to the Fell. Moon is making progress carving out a role in the colony, and gaining a reputation for safeguarding the weaker members. He agrees to be the consort of the younger queen, and new adventures await in the new colony.

You see, I really liked this, and I wanted it to be really good. But I didn't think it the equal of her books about the Ile Rein, and she is the author of Murderbot, too. Still, I am avid to read more Tales of the Raksura.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 25, 2020, 6:10pm

45. Good Guys by Steven Brust I think Steven Brust is not as highly regarded as he should be--and he's funny, too. This one is unrelated to his "Three Musketeers" pastiches, nor is it related to the Vlad books, some of my favorite stuff to read that's on the planet.

An organization was formed to monitor and control Magic. It is very old now, and some time ago it split into two factions, who use different methods, and have different ethical stances.

This novel follows a story from both camps, because both camps are involved. They sometimes help each other, and sometimes compete. They have contractual agreements for certain services, and some upper members of each rather walk the line of where they give their service.

The front-line talent work for very little, and are dedicated to working for the good guys--and we start out knowing which side that is, only to come more and more to the conclusion that it is uncertain, and that the management--some of them, at least, are corrupt, and are working for both sides. As they initial goal gets taken care of, the best of the elite squads will investigate their own sides, and confront them. Will they be punished? Can they accomplish anything?

Wow, this was good. I loved the ambiguity, which was very believable, and the magic was cool, and quite different from many magic systems.
Highly Recommended--but try his others, too.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 28, 2020, 7:48pm

46. It's hard to know what to say about The Deerslayer, by James Fenimore Cooper. I have some mixed feelings about it, and explaining them will require a long post. In the first place, the description at the beginning is simply too long. I felt as if I was simply slogging through the first 350(!) pages, where nothing happens, and I do not exaggerate! (We are introduced to the characters, I should grant.) After the slightly torturous first third it went very swimmingly, and became much more readable. Then I could comfortably read it, instead of forcing a chapter every few days, just to get somewhere, anywhere.

The characters, especially the Deerslayer himself, repeat their remarks too much, and philosophize when one would think they would be rather too busy to do so. I got tired of the Deerslayer's comments about "white men's natures and gifts" versus "Indian natures and gifts", and his strange idea (racist, in fact) that the two have such different moral natures. Oddly, the irritation wound down, and near the end I didn't mind the repetition. As an example, he believes that natives should scalp enemies, but that it demeans white men to do so, even to collect a bounty on each one.

He believes that no native will ever be as good with a rifle as a white man, but that no white man can do the woodcraft of the Indians--never mind that he excels in it himself, and sometimes is better than the Indians. I have a notion that some of his feats are impossible, but it is merely an opinion. I don't have any knowledge of woodcraft.

The Native Americans also do some plain stupid stuff for no obvious reason. Five of them in sequence jump for a boat from a tree, and all of them miss in ways that it seems a child would have known would not work.

Deerslayer seems to have quite elastic morals.
His speech varies in quality, too, and he overuses some words. In fact, for a woodsman he seems to simply talk an amazing amount. Surely spending most of his time alone in the woods, observing at all times in order not to lose his life, he would be likely to be the quiet type.

What bothered me most was one scene near the end, with Deerslayer in the hands of the hostile tribe. He is acting nobly, and there is suddenly a spot where he is described in such a way that we recognize his behavior as Christ-like, not explicitly, to be sure. Surely anyone accustomed to Biblical conceits would recognize it. Clearly, according to the book, there is no better man than Deerslayer, with honesty and forthrightness held as the best qualities humans can ever achieve.

There are no achievements or cultural sophistication that can enhance the worth of anyone. The Deerslayer can not read, and he reacts to a chess set by saying that its owner had graven idols, and must have worshiped them. I don't think such ignorance and lack of understanding of that man who owns them is any virtue, no matter how honest the Deerslayer is. He knows this man fairly well, but cannot judge by his character that this idolatry is an unlikely happenstance. He is also extremely sexist, but modern readers expect to encounter that in the fiction of the past. I can't really judge Cooper too much for the racism and sexism, as they are endemic to that time, and even to this.

Now, if you can be patient with me a little longer, here's what I liked about it. He may not have invented it, but the living situation of the people who live at "Glimmerglass", the lake in those parts, is highly inventive. They live in a house built on pilings in the lake, and have a smaller, step-down type mobile living situation they call the "Ark", and which might as well be called a house-boat.

The character of the Deerslayer is indeed admirable. He deals fairly and consistently with everyone, even if he is somewhat judgmental. (Judge not, lest ye be judged, Nathaniel!) I guess if he is standing in for the Son of God here, he can exercise some right to judge his fellow men.
I liked some of the other characters, particularly the "good guys". The young woman "Hetty"(for Esther), has impaired intelligence. He treats her politely and warmly all the time (although he never notices her romantic liking for her, or treats with it), and her death during the dénouement is affecting, and no more sentimental than Little Dorritt's in her time. However, I did not appreciate how he insulted Hetty's sister Judith when she all but proposed to him. When she asked if he held her in contempt for her minor moral failures, which were quite common little vanities and willfulness, he is unable to answer her, a very great insult indeed. Could he not think of something gentle to say, or encouraging? I think gentleness is also important in the virtuous. Is he so great himself that he doesn't know the need to encourage those weaker than himself? and to carry them with him to the very throne of god!

I liked how Hetty was able to walk into and out of the enemy camp because the Indians had great pity for her, with her intellectual disability. They considered her especially blessed by the Great Spirit. I liked how simple was her Christianity and her naive belief that hearing the Bible read to them would elevate the goodness of the Indians and make them merciful. I also liked her reverence for her dead mother, and the way she would visit her mother's grave in the lake, rowing to the spot, and peering into the clear water to see the winding-sheet at the bottom. All in all, I thought that she and her sister were useful characters to illustrate the dilemmas the group sustained. I thought Mr Hurry and Mr Hutter were crude and despicable, but I recognized that they were foils to the Deerslayer's main character. The Deerslayer was raised by the Delaware Indians, although he was a white man. The Delawares that we saw were good people.

All in all, I was glad I had read this, and I plan to read on in the series. These are truly, very important books in the history of American Romantic Literature, but not the equal of Moby Dick, to my view, or even The House of the Seven Gables.

I also liked how swiftly the last quarter of the book passed, and the excitement of the adventures and conflicts therein. In addition, I got a good view of the times, I think.

I apologize for this lengthy screed, and I thank you for your patience.

huhtikuu 6, 2020, 4:51pm

I might get to The Deerslayer one day and so it was great to read your review of it.

huhtikuu 7, 2020, 1:25am

>115 sallypursell: I have a notion that some of his feats are impossible, but it is merely an opinion.

I think Mark Twain shared that opinion! He’s nearly as rude about Fenimore Cooper as he is about the German language.

huhtikuu 7, 2020, 11:52am

Just catching up, Sally. Your reviews are always very thoughtful.

huhtikuu 7, 2020, 6:50pm

>117 thorold: To share opinions with Twain is not onerous, although he can be quick to dislike. It is amazing how alike were our comments.

My oldest son and his fiancé (now his wife of 11 years) read this to each other in turn-about fashion once upon a time. It doesn't really seem very romantic to me, but admirable. My husband can't stand to be read to, which is apparently a lack in his love for me. ;)

huhtikuu 7, 2020, 6:51pm

>118 NanaCC: Thank you, Colleen. I hold you in admiration as well.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 9, 2020, 12:54pm

47. The Widow by Barbara Kingswood This was what is often called the "sweet, clean" Regency Romance, and they are my favorite romance type. What that means is that a warm kiss is the most intimate act that will ever be depicted, and we do not follow the characters into the bedroom. Some romance novels are quite explicit these days, and some readers prefer to know in advance that they will not be confronted with things they would rather not be described.

In this novel, an abused wife is suddenly confronted with the loss of her husband at sea, which means all their substance is also gone--she has no idea how she will support herself and her son. She is not sorry to have lost her fear of her husband, or his sometimes impossible demands, followed by beatings, but the security is a painful loss.

Coincidentally, she meets a man who is looking for a missing nephew, who is unexpectedly the heir to an estate and an earldom. After family strife, he has been missing for almost twenty years. His sympathies are instantly aroused by the new widow's bruises, her beauty and gracious manner, and her wish to help him. The boy is also charming.

She learns from her husband's banker that although they lived in poverty, her husband's earnings were sufficient for comfort, and that he sent significant funds regularly to a mysterious person known to the banker only by initials. The widow goes in search of this person, with her son, and learns something of the nature of her husband's antecedents and mysterious life. In fact, with time it becomes clear that her husband was the missing man, and that he left his family home after appearing to have killed his first wife. The Widow realizes the risk she has escaped, and becomes close friends with her husband's estranged family.

Most romances come with a guaranteed "HEA", romance slang for "Happily Ever After", and this is no exception. Love blossoms between the uncle she had met early in the book, the one whom she had met when he was looking for his missing nephew. She is very loathe to marry again, and her very reasonable fear of it is the stumbling block which provides for the plot of this book. In the end, the HEA must wait on his love warming her enough to thaw her fear, because love must conquer all, of course.

Romance novels are the fairy tales that adult women like. The risk of marriage was very real in the Regency period, because women had no power, no economic opportunities, no ways to make a fair living, and were at the mercy of their husbands. He, after all, except in the very rich, was now master of all that she previously owned, and his decisions about her welfare cannot be gainsaid, apart from the law. These strictures stand in place of the risks of marriage in this contemporary period. They are less absolute, but no less frightening than those in the past. The ones in books are just far enough away from current experiences that we can enjoy the dilemma. We don't have to feel this risks and losses as the heroines do, but we can still share in the joy of true love at the end.

This was a better-than-average romance, despite the unlikely plot, and quite a relief after The Deerslayer. I whipped through it in an afternoon, and enjoyed the end, just as i was expected to. I sometimes like real sex in romances, but this is just fine for a change.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 10, 2020, 5:23pm

>121 sallypursell: I love Regency romances, at least the traditional ones as you described here. I have been reading them since I was in high school. I enjoy the historical details and descriptions of clothing and manners. I am one of those squeaky clean readers--I do not read sexually explicit novels, and the sweet Regencies fit my tastes. I have read some that purport to be Regencies, but get into very detailed intimate descriptions that make me blush, even at my advanced reading age. Those details are not necessary for a good story.

huhtikuu 10, 2020, 3:20pm

>26 sallypursell:. Sally, I wanted to say that Lucas Davenport, in the series by John Sandford, never changes, although his life takes some interesting turns. There are well over 20 books in the series now. If you didn't like the character, the series may not get any more enjoyable for you.

huhtikuu 10, 2020, 6:32pm

>122 LadyoftheLodge: I don't mind sexual descriptions. But I don't need them in Regency romances either. They have been my favorite since I discovered Georgette Heyer when I was 11 or 12. What sprightly writing she has! Now I find that the detailed descriptions are beginning to all sound alike to me. It is as if there is a prescribed order to the activities, because the careful gentleman will demonstrate his care for his lady by making sure that she reaches satisfaction before he does, and it must be in such a way that he reveals his love for women in general. He is delighted as to her enjoyment, and it is necessary to him. Better writers or more inventive sexual writers can change this up some, and then it is more interesting, of course. No one writes more interesting or better romances than Georgette Heyer, I don't think, and there's no hint of sexual excitement usually. That's not where falling in love takes place.

>123 auntmarge64: I like how the mysteries and police procedure are written, but I think you may be right. Lucas Davenport is a creep, and I think I would just loathe him if I met him.
As the years go by I get more and more irritated with sexism. I think I've had enough experience of it, since I was one of those girls who could have easily grown outside gender expectations and was constantly slapped down by teachers and supervisors. I know I was by no means alone. Lucas Davenport isn't just sexist, though. He is worse; he is unethically so.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 4, 2020, 10:40pm

First Quarter Totals= 47

SF&F 13
Children’s 0
YA 2
Non-fiction 1
General Fiction 3
Classics 1
Paranormal 8
Romances 10
Graphic novels 0
Mysteries 19

Second Quarter Totals=61
(Some paranormal also counted in SF)

SF&F - 17
Children’s - 0
YA - 0
Non-fiction - 5
General Fiction - 2
Classics -1
Paranormal - 13
Romances - 8
Graphic novels - 0
Mysteries - 15


48. People of the Book by Geraldine
49. Deirdre and Don Juan by Jo
50. The Warden by Anthony Trollope
51. The Mysterious Affair at Styles by
Agatha Christie
52. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
53. Gallows View by Peter Robinson
54. Year One by Nora Roberts
55. Forbidden Fruit by Kerry
56. Plight of the Living Dead by Matt
57. Smoke Bitten by Patricia Briggs
58. Death At Victoria Dock by Kerry
59. The Blade Itself by Joe
60. The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa
61. Fair Game by Patricia Briggs
62. The Man Who Folded Himself by
David Gerrold
63. I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan


64. Split Infinity by Piers Anthony
65. Kiss a Duke by Erica Ridley
66. Before They Are Hanged by Joe
67. Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs
68. The Secret Adversary by Agatha
69. Not That Kind of Guy by Andie J.
70. Grave Expectations by C. J.
71. Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn
72. Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine
73. Of Blood and Bone by Nora
74. The Six-Gun Tarot by R. S.
75. The Burglar Who Liked To Quote
Kipling by Lawrence Block
76. No One Noticed the Cat by Anne
77. The Canceled Czech by Lawrence
78. Wish Upon a Duke by Erica Ridley
79. Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers by
Robert M. Sapolsky
80. Dreamer's Pool by Juliet Marillier


81. Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs
82. The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths
83. Thyme of Death by Susan Wittig
84. Last Argument of Kings by Joe
85. Killer Market by Margaret Maron
86. Cooking the Books by Kerry Greenwood
87. The Spotted Dog by Kerry Greenwood
88. The Palace of Lost Memories by C. J. Archer
89. The Killer Across the Table by John E. Douglas
90. Silent Prey by John Sandford
91. Glazed Murder by Jessica Beck
92. Krakatoa by Simon Winchester
93. The Beauty Defense by Laura James

huhtikuu 11, 2020, 12:44pm

>124 sallypursell: I love Georgette Heyer! I have quite a few of her books, and I also started reading her works when I was a kid. We seem to have a lot in common. I was one of those "smart" girls who also could have done a lot outside of gender expectations--but girls were not supposed to show their smarts, right? We were supposed to be obedient and quiet. Too bad some of that expectation still exists today! (The first year I taught science to middle schoolers, one of the moms came up to me on Parent Night and told me she did not know they allowed women to teach science. Another told me that I was a lot younger and cuter than she thought I would be. ;/

huhtikuu 11, 2020, 4:32pm

>126 LadyoftheLodge: Cheryl, regarding your personal story -- how lowering! And yet you became a teacher and I a nurse! What does that say? That societal expectations are so very hard to break, perhaps.

I remember a moment in 7th or 8th grade, when we were being taught our first algebra, and I was reading a book behind my textbook, and the teacher thought she would "catch" me by embarrassing me in front of the class. She sent me to the blackboard. She gave us two equations, in two variables, and I believe I was supposed to substitute one variable for the other and work it through, but that would have been laborious. I asked, "So these are equations, and I can do anything to one side that I do to the other, right?" She assented. I subtracted one equation from the other, which caused one term to drop out. I suppose I wasn't supposed to invent simultaneous equations on the spot, and she went ballistic. She broke a wooden ruler beating it on my desk, and shouted so loud! In retrospect, I don't think she knew whether I had done something wrong or not, and she must have felt stupid. I don't think she had any interest in math, she was just told to teach it, and I suppose that no one thought it would be challenging at that level. I should just have admitted that I wasn't paying attention, I suppose. I often made adults feel stupid, I think, but most of the time it wasn't intentional. I just tended to think outside the box.

In fourth grade I refused to memorize the times tables, or to do timed tests on them. I said that any that I needed would be memorized by use, and most could easily be calculated by repetitive addition, so there was no point, and it was a waste of my time. And I don't see any point to doing arithmetic faster at all. My parents were asked to come to the school, and they shocked the school by agreeing with me. My father used a slide rule at work all day, and he said that I was right. I would learn them by use, or calculate them when I needed them. Naturally I was punished with lower grades, but I was only slightly bothered.

Don't get the wrong idea. I was usually very biddable, and always polite. That made it worse, I suspect. They couldn't pretend I was ill-mannered or rude to the teachers. I was usually something of a teacher's pet.

Oh, dear! in the first year of high school I told a nun in religion class that the early Christians lived communally. Communism was the great bug-a-boo at the time, and I knew it was seriously wrong-headed economically. But she said something far too general about it, and I wasn't having it. I was polite, and correct, but oh, how I was castigated. That year I was valedictorian, I think, and they wouldn't give me a recommendation to the free gifted program in the summer, to which I was avid to go. I wanted to study Chinese, and they said I was dangerously unstable about communism and had better not be exposed to that godless language. Later I studied Russian, too. But I had no interest in politics, at all. I just wanted to learn something about languages so different from the Latin and Spanish and English I already knew. And any way, how does the CIA keep tabs on Russia and China without people who speak Russian and Chinese?

People either liked me or disliked me; there didn't seem to be anyone indifferent to me. I never could understand why I was so bullied. I think I was just too different, and people took it as a criticism. I never meant it that way. I was usually only interested in my thoughts and my reading.
Were you bullied too?

I think there are some ways in which we are significantly different, too. I didn't say so before, but I find some eroticism in romances to be appropriate and enjoyable to think about. I often seem to shock people with my frankness. But Georgette Heyer, the demi-goddess, didn't need it in her romance fiction, and a book without it doesn't bore me.

No doubt this is more than you wanted to know. But I was interested in demonstrating how teachers reacted to me when they were challenged.

By the way, to what does your usename refer? What lodge?

huhtikuu 11, 2020, 5:16pm

>124 sallypursell: Hunh, I hadn't thought of Lucas Davenport being sexist, more that he's extremely violent and prone to taking the law into his own hands, a la Jack Bauer on "24". (Here's a fun fact - did you know that Kiefer Sutherland's birth name is Kiefer William Frederick Dempsey George Rufus Sutherland?) Anyway, Davenport does get tamed, and what a woman it is that does that. I agree that I wouldn't be comfortable meeting him, but I do love reading about him. Ah well.

huhtikuu 12, 2020, 7:21pm

48. People of the Book by Geraldine Books In some ways this is a little book. Not in page-count, as it is almost 400 pages. Not in setting, which ranges over many countries and years. Perhaps in its named subject, as it is about the conservatorship of one book--just one book. It is based on a true story, and it is a very absorbing story for those of us who care about or care for books.

On the other hand, there are universals aplenty: the nature of scholarship, the conflict of women and their mothers, the struggles of children for worthwhile identity, war resistance, the value of work, the reverence of the learned for cultural artifacts, the nature of betrayal, the rigors of relationships of apprentices for their mentors, the impact of professional disgrace, the obtrusiveness of sex into male-female relations, the importance of paternity, oh, you understand--almost everything.

Hanna Heath is the conservator, an Australian. She is a compromise candidate, who doesn't offend the politics of people in charge of the project which Hanna undertakes. She is not Jewish. The book is a 500 year-old Haggadah, and it has other important characteristics which I will not reveal. Also in addition, it was lately (50 years ago) preserved during the Second World War by quite unexpected and confounding agents. Where the book has been for so long is unknown, and yet Hanna finds some evidence in it which enables her to track down some of it. At the end, she makes a decision which I did not expect of Hanna.

Small and unnoticed fragments of foreign materials are found in the book. In her network of friends (laboratory scientists and scholars of different disciplines) are people who are able to help Hanna learn what must be the story of the whereabouts of the book at different times. It is the allure of her profession.

What happens to the book, how the people managing the project change Hanna's life, and her eventual path are the final topics of this book. I loved it, and highly recommend it, but be aware that parts are quite painstaking.

huhtikuu 13, 2020, 5:57pm

49. Deirdre and Don Juan by Jo Beverley. This is a "classic", if there is such a thing, of the romance genre. It won the RITA for Best Regency one year. It was quite acceptable, as they go, and did provide a few frissons on good romantic thrill. It used the false engagement trope, but I did like the protagonists. Altogether fine to while away an hour or two, but I didn't see that it was special, more just a shade above the average. I do have quite high standards, though.

huhtikuu 14, 2020, 11:47pm

Only a serious book reader could be in the dilemma that I am in. I picked up a book to read to distract myself, because i have had a really bad headache for at least four days, despite some really strong medication, and it is about an unexpected novel virus that is killing the world. two billion in one month so far. It is too close to home, but I can't read anything better. My brain hurts. I've had worse headaches before, so I'm pretty sure it's not a bleed or anything-or even meningitis. I don't have corona virus symptoms. Forgive misspeilling, etc.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 17, 2020, 3:02pm

>127 sallypursell: Hi there, I am back! Yes, I was bullied, unfortunately, for being "too smart" and for wearing glasses ("4-eyes"). Kids were my "friends" when they wanted "help" with homework, ie to copy my homework. When I was in high school, my nasty neighbor girls called me "little professor." Ha, I showed them by actually becoming a college professor!

The "lodge" in my moniker refers to my home, "Lodge on the Mountain," affectionately named by my adopted Native American grandfather, who died years ago. My home is actually not on a mountain though!

huhtikuu 17, 2020, 6:05pm

>132 LadyoftheLodge: I was "The Walking Dictionary" to my friends, and "Know-it-all" to my detractors. When did you start reading? I couldn't get my kids that interested when they were young, but the two older are ferocious readers now. And both are published, of course. Her on Amazon, he from professional presses. Right now he is an adjunct. My husband was an adjunct for 30 years.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 19, 2020, 11:45am

50. The Warden by Anthony Trollope. This is the set-up novel in the Barsetshire cycle. I love Trollope's writing, as much as Dickens', I think.

This is the story of a moral dilemma on the part of a clergyman in Barchester, the Cathedral town in Barsetshire. The Bishop is a dear friend of Mr. Harding, this clergyman, and has given him both a small living in a near-by town and the precentership of the cathedral, which is a position resembling "music director". He plans and performs music, and he plays the organ. In addition to these, to make the income sufficient for a family in comfortable circumstances, it is customary to grant together with the precentership a position as "Warden" of the almshouse associated with the Cathedral. In the almshouse there are twelve old pensioners, men, of course, who live on the charity of the diocese, but on a fund that was specifically set up to support those who had no pensions, no way to save sufficient monies when they were workers, and who do not have families who can support them.

The crux of the story is a fictionalized version of a famous case of clerical financial shenanigans of Trollope's day, in which clergy enriched themselves on the proceeds of the charity monies they administered. In this fictional case, Mr. Harding, henceforward called "The Warden", has never considered the legal ramifications of his pay: why should he? For a long time, the Warden, whoever he was at the time, has received the income from the fund and property that support the Hospital, which is what everyone calls the almshouse. There is a traditional amount daily that the old gentlemen receive, too. This Warden has always augmented this by twopence a day, to allow for little luxuries, which is greatly appreciated by the pensioners, at least until the events of this book.

In the book, reformers from the local professional/political people try to convince, and then to directly persuade, the local population that seems greatly sympathetic to the good Reverend, that he is grasping. But, in fact, he is not grasping, he gives some of his own income for their comfort, and he spends time with them often. For many, he is their greatest friend. The problem is this: the contract for the fund was not written well, and the amount for the pensioners is sufficient, but with time there is additional income from the lands and funds, to the tune of £800 per annum. When a reformer called Mr. Bold works on the old gentlemen, none of them more than laborers in adulthood, the gentlemen begin to feel as if they should each have always made 1/12 of £800 per annum to his own use. They put their marks to a petition (only one can sign his name) and Mr. Bold files with the court a suit for redistribution of the income.

Now The Warden is troubled in his soul. Has he lived upon his friends' income? Is he a thief? Has he brought scandal to the Church he reveres, and the Bishop he loves? Has he thoughtlessly been too lax, given up his righteousness for comfort and convenience? He suffers. He goes to see the Bishop to ask his opinion; he consults a son-in-law who is in the Church. The Bishop and son-in-law solicit the opinion of a learned advocate, who studies the will, and opines that no one can criticize their position. But only his dear younger daughter understands his dilemma: he wants to know the Right thing to do, not the Legally supported thing to do. He wants to follow Our Lord, not his own advantage. He is also troubled by the fact that Mr. Bold had been the admitted suitor of his younger daughter. Will he make her suffer by loss of income and loss of planned marriage, if he gives up this ample income for one that is barely sufficient? He feels he can live adequately if he gives up the £800, but what about his daughter and her planned husband? Her dowry?

He feels he must decide for himself, and not for legality. His daughter, loving child, agrees. In time the decision is made. The family adjusts; he is happier.

I have worked through dilemmas of this sort, and I would assume that many of us have. I recognized the feelings, and I applaud the sensitivity of a book about such nuance. I'm so glad to be back reading Trollope.

huhtikuu 19, 2020, 12:57pm

51. The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie. This is the first one of thee novels regarding Hercule Poirot, and certainly requires no commentary by me. Still, I will say a little. It is quite by accident that Poirot is near Styles when the murder of its Lady occurs. Still, he has an entrée because he is known to one of the guests, and due to his class. A gentleman is, perforce, welcome.

We are given almost all the information that Mr. Poirot has, but I would never have solved this mystery. It was convoluted, and we saw multiple possible solutions, one after another, along with the police and the family of the victim. Each one is shown to be false, until the last, quite unlikely, story is told.

Satisfying, but I have never been fond of Poirot. He is too self-contained for my taste.

huhtikuu 20, 2020, 7:28am

>134 sallypursell: The Warden was my first foray into Trollope on holiday a few years ago, but I didn't warm to it. I'm not sure if it was the topic or the characters or what, but I couldn't wait to reach the end of it, and I've not reached for another Trollope since.

Is this a typical example of his writing style?

huhtikuu 20, 2020, 12:23pm

>133 sallypursell: I started "reading" when I was a young child, as I would tell my parents the stories from the picture books they read to me. We read together every day. I do recall the first day I could actually read from the "Jean and Johnnie" readers (Catholic version of Dick and Jane). I came home from school with my reader (one or two words per page) and was so excited to read to my parents. We would check out stacks of books from the library, and we always got books for gifts. We were voracious comic book readers too--we read them til they fell apart.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 22, 2020, 2:47pm

52. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang Finally, a really good romance.

Stella Lane works as an econometrician, and has Asperger's Syndrome. So does the author, and she does a great job explaining it to us by means of the story.

Then her mother asks her for grandchildren, since she is now thirty
When a co-worker she considered for dating told her that women who like kissing and sex are good at it, she has a realization--she needs practice, and then she would know what to do!

Being Stella, she wants a professional, so she calls an escort service with pillow privileges. She is ambitious, and wants to be good at sex, starting with kissing.

Michael Phan is an unwilling escort. His mother is undergoing the best of the available cancer treatments, and naturally, insurance does not cover it. Michael is trying to pay it as they go. He has told his mother that it is all covered. Michael has a decent day job, but doing this once a week covers the health care bills. So every Friday night he fantasizes in the shower as he gets ready for a "date".

The training is awkward, but Stella is gallant at trying, and can be very appealing. Her innocence is sexy, since she is so willing. Michael is very good looking, and as honest and sweet as he can be in this line of work. He is a little tired of it, but it pays so well, and the treatment is nearly at an end. His mother will be well, and he won't be in debt.

It was very interesting, watching her taking her step-wise journey into sex, and he always surprising her. He is generous, and she is enthusiastic, once she gets the gist of it. Lots of reverses, little wrinkles. Of course, the story is unbelievable, but that's okay. This was really fun. HEA, of course.

huhtikuu 22, 2020, 1:55pm

>136 AlisonY: I think it is, Alison, but the topic matter is a little rarefied for readers who have not been devout at one time, or who have not been close to clergy or religious professionals. For some, I don't know why this one seems more difficult than some others. The Palliser novels are supposed to be the pinnacle of his success and artistry. I like the Barsetshire novels.

huhtikuu 23, 2020, 2:00pm

Hi Sally. As I’ve fallen behind everyone, I feel dreadfully behind here as well, and just now caught up. I loved your James Fenimore Cooper review. I would struggle, if I were to get to him, but he comes up a lot and that leaves me curious. Some day I do I hope I try Trollope too. But I enjoyed catching up on general, reading your takes on these books and your personal stories.

huhtikuu 23, 2020, 9:02pm

>140 dchaikin: How nice to see you on my thread. I had noticed your absence. I appreciate your comment on the Cooper, and your appreciation for my review. I had to muse several days to decide on how to write it, and what to say.

Also, I have to confess that I am behind in yours, too. I am trying to read more people's threads and I get behind

By the way, one day you commented on missing the comma in many threads. Surely I give you enough of them!

huhtikuu 23, 2020, 9:37pm

>137 LadyoftheLodge: Cheryl, I didn't mean "reading", I meant reading. I thought since you were so much like me otherwise, you might have shared the super early reading too. I began really reading when I was about 2, and was reading very well by my third birthday. No one taught me, I taught myself. It was really all I wanted to do, and I was very jealous of my older brothers, who were in school, and read real books. I think I had "hyperlexia", which I have only learned about recently: kind of the opposite of dyslexia.

It sounds as if you learned to read early in your school career. That's when my kids learned to read too. I somehow had expected them to start early, and I didn't try to teach them. I waited for them to ask, and none ever did. I asked. My third child did learn some advanced words from video games before school. One of his early teachers corrected him when he put the word "wyvern" in his homework, as an example of a word with "y" in it. When she asked him what it was, he told her it was an imaginary animal, and she thought that meant that he made it up. He was so abashed and ashamed, and I was thrilled to write her a note suggesting she use a dictionary before telling a young student that he is wrong, and implying that he couldn't be bothered to find a real word with a "y" in it.

huhtikuu 23, 2020, 10:05pm

53. Gallows View by Peter Robinson. This is the first "Inspector Banks" novel.
Alan Banks had an illustrious career in the police in London, and has moved to Yorkshire to take up a position there, expecting it to be a bit of a quieter place. No such luck, though. Early on he comes across a convoluted case with a peeping Tom and a murder, which may or may not be connected. There is considerable time spent with police procedure. His wife falls prey to the peeping Tom.

Eventually a crisis occurs, with both a hostage situation and sexual assault. He can't be in two places at once, and he chooses to go to the hostage crisis, where the kidnapper is requesting his presence by name, instead of to the sexual assault, even though his wife is the victim. He already knows that she is safe; she is just upset because she hit the man very hard on the head with his camera, and is afraid that he is dead.

I liked this alright, although I never felt invested in this character's challenges and eventual success. Technically very proficient, but not my type.

huhtikuu 24, 2020, 10:06am

>141 sallypursell: missing the comma or missing the comments? I don’t remember. 🙂 I have noticed i tend to fall behind in March and miss a lot of April and May and try to catch up over the summer. This year I missed March, just was too distracted for LT. I miss it here when that happens, but my brain does what it does. Now slowly trying to catch up.

huhtikuu 24, 2020, 1:39pm

>142 sallypursell: I guess my early reading lent itself to interpreting the pictures in books, rather than actually "reading" as you did at an early age. I am sure I could recognize words in the sentences and I recall trying to "write" them. I do recall being envious of my older sisters who were reading chapter books! We were fortunate to grow up in a home where reading was valued and there was always a book or magazine at hand. Too bad a lot of kids do not have that now, and many do not like reading. Yikes!! I cannot imagine that.

huhtikuu 25, 2020, 6:31pm

54. Year One by Nora Roberts This is not a go-to author for fantasy. I didn't know that she had written any. I thought I'd just try this.

It was a decent entry in the "Chosen One" type of fantasy novel, only the chosen one this time is female. I think this was done better with Only Begotten Daughter by Morrow.

This was worth reading on, when I come across the second book (my local library is still closed, of course) but only a little better than average. Her ability to write is in no doubt--how many books has she written--over 200, I would guess. The mechanical ability shows here, and I found the wind-up interesting enough for pleasure reading. It wouldn't be featured on a list of best books, though, of any kind.

huhtikuu 25, 2020, 7:11pm

55. Forbidden Fruit by Kerry Greenwood This is another book in the Corinna Chapman baker's books. Not the series with Phryne Fisher, who is growing on me, though.

This was another convoluted plot, but it all worked. That's not really what I read these for, I don't think. It is the enjoyable sensuality between Daniel Corinna, and a reasonable sensuality between her and the bread, and the quirky characters who live in her building, Insula, and the quirky characters who work for Corinna. I greatly enjoyed Corinna's apprentice searching for the right recipe to make glacé cherries from scratch in the bakery. I like all of the ancillary characters, but Corinna I love.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 25, 2020, 9:26pm

56. Plight of the Living Dead by Matt Simon I can't be the only person here who has both recoiled from information about parasitic organisms (ewww) and been fascinated by them. I draw the line at liver flukes (don't look this up), but these were really fascinating enough that I could suppress the ewww while I was reading, at least. I did have to take many breaks, though, and read fiction in between. I just couldn't do too much of this at a sitting.

You see, parasites are everywhere. And they love us, too. We don't have to worry about some, like eyelash mites (careful now, you might look this up ready to look the other way, but once you know about it, you can't un-know it), but there are many that bother our brethren in poverty or in the tropics.

So this book was good, but it was a one-trick pony. The writing was never good enough to sustain this through the whole book, and there was no conclusion section which bore lessons from nature or grander topics on which this bears. Ultimately, interesting, but slight.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 25, 2020, 9:22pm

>145 LadyoftheLodge: I don't remember having very many picture books. There weren't that many books for children, that I knew of, anyway. My favorite children's book was A Hole Is To Dig and even that was a dictionary! Mostly a nonsense dictionary to be fair.

It says things like the following:

"Eyebrows are to go over eyes." A face? "A face is something to have on the front of your head." Also, "a face is so you can make faces." Hands? Well, "hands are to hold." And also "a hand is to hold up when you want your turn." "A party is to say how-do-you-do and shake hands" and also "a party is to make little children happy." Of course, "a brother is to help you", a package "is to look inside", arms "are to hug with", and "a book is to look at".

But it is those with those incredible pictures!

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 27, 2020, 4:00pm

>149 sallypursell: Yikes! I also loved that book as a kid! We enjoyed similar silly books and probably drove our parents nuts when we memorized and recited the phrases, just like you quoted here. Another one we loved was A Was Once an Apple Pie and also I Want to Paint My Bathroom Blue.

Maybe picture books was not the correct choice of words here. Probably Children's Books would have been a more accurate term. We had and read very few books that were more like baby books, with no words at all or just a few on each page.

huhtikuu 27, 2020, 9:14pm

Really, that was what I meant too. We had hardly any.

huhtikuu 28, 2020, 7:01pm

57.Smoke Bitten by Patricia Briggs This is a Mercy Thompson novel, one of those that I frequently have called "candy". It has gotten to the point that paranormal creatures find Mercy interesting, because she is resourceful and, in fact, has so very many resources to deal with the paranormal. There are so many times she has been expected to be overcome by powerful creatures, and yet, she has found a way out of the difficulty. She can bring powers and people to bear on her problems, and can use them to maneuver herself and her friends to a good outcome. But let her be alone, and she will still find a way to win. She is loving, passionate, strong, strong-willed, and has learned to use all her levers to move the world.

Of course, as a strong woman who has had to confront the world alone at times, I am excited and gratified. As a women who lives a story with true love, I love reading a story that bolsters my belief in the phenomenon. Otherwise, it is great to be reassured that women can overcome these odds, and can confront the paranormal from a position of flexibility with strength. I wish I had known someone like Mercy when I was young, and suffering from hauntings. You see, I may have been able to handle my past experiences, but I was always aware of how it could to something I could not manage as a two year-old, as a five year-old, when I was 17, and when I had children to protect.

I love these books. I know that someday there will be no more, and it will be sad.

huhtikuu 30, 2020, 6:56pm

58. Death at Victoria Dock by Kerry Greenwood This is a Phryne Fisher novel, and in this one she takes on Anarchists, who shoot out her windscreen on Victoria Dock, killing a young man at the same time. He dies in Phryne's arms. These anarchists are of the Latvian variety, and naturally object to the loss of their country. Phryne learns that there are two factions. One is willing to continue their mayhem in Australia, and are set on raiding a bank for funds for the revolution they plan to fund. Another is grateful to Australia for sheltering them, and prefers to be peaceful in the country. They do outreach and education, collecting funds from Latvian supporters and interested friends. Phryne takes one as a lover, a mature Latvian who wants to stop the bank robbery without ruining the robbers, his countrymen.

Another thread concerns a case on which Phryne is retained, which concerns some ugly family relationships, and a runaway daughter. Phryne finds the daughter, sees her to a safe haven, and reveals to the parents the ugly truth. They agree to leave the daughter where she is. Success again.

Naturally, it all comes out well in the end, and Phryne and friends prevail. I like Phryne more and more all the time.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 10, 2020, 7:03pm

59. The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. I ran across praise of this book so many times that I simply needed to read it, and add it to my experiences.

Its goal, according to the author is to give us more realistic soldiers and battles. He was irritated, he said, at how glorified and unrealistic they were.

If that was his true goal, I can't say how well he succeeded: his soldiers are indeed foul-mouthed and only indifferently interested in their jobs, but the rest is surely par for the course in fantasy novels. There is magic, and there are long-lived magical adepts, there is complicated politics, there are sword competitions, and there are aristocrats vs. commoners. There seem to be quests, there are barbarians from the North, there are assassins and there are docks, seamen, and tradesmen. There are also guilds. All that said, it was sufficiently different to enjoy, and I look forward to the sequel. I really want to know what the oldest and best wizard is after, with the team he has assembled and taken on the road, and I want to know how the main love affair plays out, even though the lovers are from two different classes and don't seem to have a future at all. I also want to know what the winner of this year's sword competition does next, and why the chief wizard felt the need to help him win the tourney with magic, brief as it was.

toukokuu 2, 2020, 5:11pm

Hey there, did you read In Praise of the Useless Life by Paul Quenon. I see it is in your library. I just finished it.

toukokuu 2, 2020, 6:24pm

No, it's in my wishlist. I saw that you liked it, and that reminded me that I wanted to read it.

toukokuu 2, 2020, 9:10pm

60. The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa I was hoping that this would be as sparkling and fun as her last book that I read, but it simply wasn't. Woman gets left at altar, blames best man, the brother of the groom, meets him professionally later, and they must work together. It turns out that he was the brother she should have been into before. First brother gets rejected, even though her current success means that he wants to revise their past. She is Hispanica, with a big family who are important to her. I suppose I enjoyed this, but it felt as if reading it was a little bit of a chore.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 3, 2020, 12:05am

61. Fair Game by Patricia Briggs This is the Alpha and Omega series, which is counterpoint to the series of hers that I adore--the Mercy Thompson stories. I just continue to like these less than the others, although they are improving on me. If I had known earlier that they paced each other I would have read them in tandem. It is just not as good reading them by themselves. Maybe that is what is lacking for me.

However, I have liked this one the best of the ones that I have read so far. In this one Charles, Bran's pack's assassin of wolves who get out of line, has had it up to there with killing his own kind even though they beg for their lives, and even though it was each pack's Alpha who should have been doing the work. His wife, influential because she is outside the pack's power structure, tries telling Bran that he needs a break, with the result that the two of them are seconded to the FBI to help with some serial murders which are killing werewolves. It proves that there is more, that the FBI have missed, and Charles gets to be a "good guy" for a change. It strengthens him considerably.

This was a different story, for Charles, and worth reading. I am looking forward to the next one more than I had been doing. Eventually, I may go back and read them in their interleaved sequence. I want to read all Mercy's again, anyway. I begin to get fuzzy on some of the fine points, because I read each one when it is published, and a considerable time may go by until the next one. Also, I race through them, they are so enjoyable. When I think back, it seems like a lot of trouble for such a short time. I'm surprised they don't have more PTSD symptoms.

toukokuu 2, 2020, 9:32pm

62. The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold I remember that I read this a long time ago, and when someone (Naturally, I don't know who) read this recently, I was really ready to read it again. It is a fairly early work, and it considers the potential paradoxes and problems of time travel. A young man is given a time-travel device by his uncle, one small enough to wear. With time, he learns to use it, and the pitfalls. There is a surprise ending, of course, which was not that much of a surprise by that time. I won't give it here.

This is a classic of Time Travel, and not as old as I thought. It was published in 1973, the year I became engaged to be married.
Time Travel makes for perennial themes in Speculative Fiction, and people still write careful stories about the things this book examines.

This was really worth the time, and I'm glad I found it. Thank you to whoever reminded me of it!

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 2, 2020, 9:45pm

63. I Am Half Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley Another neat quotation to begin another satisfying and fun Flavia de Luce mystery. This one occurs at Christmas-tide, and has Flavia, who is 11, trying to work out ways to trap Santa Claus, to find out if he is real, as well as to solve a murder. Naturally, her contentious relationship with her older sisters continues, and Flavia's continued attempts to learn more about her mother, who died when Flavia was very small.

Flavia is at her best with murders, using her chemistry knowledge and workshop to help her figure things out, and to trap miscreants. A well-known actress is murdered, and a secret in her life must come out. Flavia sneaks into the death chamber, quite to the disgust of the constabulary and detective corps, but they can only pretend to learn what Flavia learns, and pretend to come to the conclusions which seem so obvious to her.

As I said, satisfying, and fun.

Oh, the quotation is from The Lady of Shalott by Tennyson, and a favorite of mine, especially sung by Loreena McKennitt.

toukokuu 2, 2020, 9:55pm

Enjoying your commentaries. These last several are generally outside my reading realm, but you know that. Still, I find them interesting to read about and to read your responses to them.

toukokuu 3, 2020, 12:09am

>161 dchaikin: That's gratifying, Dan. I always enjoy reading yours in turn.

toukokuu 5, 2020, 6:57pm

>160 sallypursell: I read most of the early Flavia novels and I liked them, but the two most recent ones got sort of icky, so I stopped, since I am a rather squeamish person. I also heard that the chemistry in the books was flawed. I have a science degree, but chemistry is not my strong suit, so I am not a good judge of the accuracy of the books. I admire Flavia's spunk (she reminds me of myself) and I like Dogger too.

toukokuu 5, 2020, 9:39pm

>163 LadyoftheLodge: "icky" in the blood and guts way? Too graphic, I mean?

toukokuu 7, 2020, 2:28pm

>164 sallypursell: Yes, exactly. I do not want to know about finding a human finger in a wedding cake, or pulling a corpse out of the pond by mistake when someone's hand got caught in its mouth.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 10, 2020, 8:43pm

64. Split Infinity by Piers Anthony I got tired of Anthony's Xanth books after the second one, and never wanted to read one again. Nevertheless, I had never experienced his Blue Adept series, and I was curious. Upon trying this, I discovered that this was a Xanth book. How awful! I almost quit, but I was still curious.

Xanth is his series based on puns and cheap humor. The books are facile, and all sound the same. I don't think the puns are as important in the later Xanth books as they were in the early ones, but the books still hinge on unlikely events and magic with no underpinnings (Why does it work the way it does? Where does the power come from? How do people learn it? Why do stupid rhymes evoke powerful magic?).

I was disappointed, but it was my own fault for not finding out before ordering it.

toukokuu 10, 2020, 9:43pm

65. Kiss of a Duke by Erica Ridley This hinges on a fictional town in North England (Northumberland) with the name of Cressmouth. Someone has a brilliant idea, and the town is nicknamed "Christmas" due to it's snowcover during the winter, and otherwise, for marketing reasons. It has inspired a great deal of tourist trade.

In Cressmouth lives Penelope Mitchell, who has made a success of an eau d'toilette name "Duke". The heir to a dukedom, Sir Nicholas Pringle is a rake, and he comes to Cressmoth to find Penelope Mitchell and convince her to stop making Duke. He is irritated because he smells it everywhere, even on Beau Brummel and the Prince Regent, "Prinny". He thinks it confers an unfair advantage, or else that it has reduced his reputation as the seduceur extraordinaire. of course, he is more principled than the image of a rake, and it is no surprise that his encounters with the lady chemist do not have the outcome he expects.

He is disarmed because she likes to bake biscuits (cookies to Americans), and is beautiful when animated by science in her custom-built laboratory. Instead of buying Duke from her and leaving "Christmas" as soon as can be managed he falls for her, and she for him. Bad behavior of the carnal variety ensues, followed by good behavior of the kind that ends in banns read and marriage undertaken. They undertake to build a cottage for two in "Christmas" with workshops for him (he blows glass) and for her.

toukokuu 11, 2020, 11:56am

>167 sallypursell: This sounds like a fun read. I am especially interested in the chemistry aspect, as a lady chemist would be unusual for the time. Thanks for your review.

toukokuu 12, 2020, 6:37pm

66. Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie This continues the story begun in The Blade Itself, and continues to fit the type of epic fantasy. There continues to be some politics and some intrigue. More than most examples of this type there are graphic fights with graphic injuries, and rather more details of the corpses that are found.

Now here is what's different about this volume: a city falls after a long siege; An epic quest is brought to a conclusion; a king's heir is murdered by a subordinate who has finally had enough of his posturing and inanity, and the number of the deaths he has caused; an arrogant firebrand army officer learns something about fighting and becomes a wounded veteran with some modesty; and a vicious warlord continues to be successful in his rapacious, murderous campaigns.

This displayed a continuously increasing urgency, and background detail and explanations were never intrusive. The important characters changed and grew. The Magus leading the quest became more and more a figure whose wisdom could be doubted, but whose power never could. We become more and more fearful of the "Eaters". In fact, it all feels very frightening, as if the world could, in fact, fall to the worst of the tyrants and the worst of the magically powerful. We see how tired of battle and death are the only people we can look to for honestly wishing for the good for all.

This trilogy is pretty mesmerizing. For all who like epic fantasy, highly recommended.

toukokuu 12, 2020, 9:52pm

67. Dead Heat by Patricia Briggs. This, again, is in the Alpha and Omega series, and once again, I am trying to catch up to the spot I have reached with the companion series, the Mercy Thompson series.

I continue to like these later ones more than the earlier ones in this series. Charles and Anna go to Arizona on a personal trip to buy a horse for Anna. Technically, they are wealthy, but they use money as a comfort aide, not as something they must live up to. They have a very nice house, and she has some precious jewelry which she wears seldom, since it doesn't suit her lifestyle. They live in a way that is more rustic, and spend time running together as wolves. They don't frequent the haunts of the wealthy, nor are they active in mercantile, political or cultural affairs.

While they are in Arizona it comes to their attention because of their host's grandchildren's daycare, where a child has suddenly changed her behavior, and has become violent. The children have identified her as chindi, a Navajo word for "evil spirits of the dead", but they also insist that chindi isn't what she is, really. This girl, Amethyst, used to be a friend of the girl-child, Mackie, and a close acquaintance of her brother Michael. They have an older brother Max also, who attends community college.

When Max comes home from school that same day, his mother, Chelsea Sani, grits her teeth, suddenly stabs herself through the hand and into the cutting board, and just manages to instruct Max to take the other children into her bedroom and close and lock the door. He is to turn up the TV really loud, and let the children watch anything on the Cable channel for children. All afternoon she has had a terrible headache, and she has called her husband several times, with increasing urgency.

By the time her husband arrives home, she has slashed herself to the point where she is dying of loss of blood, but apparently she was trying NOT to kill all the children, despite nearly irresistible urges to do so. She has begged at their door, she has screamed fiercely, and she has damaged herself repeatedly, but she has not hurt the children. Charles asks her husband if, since she is dying, he should turn her to a werewolf. He does not think she will live to make it to a hospital. His wolf respects her ability to avoid hurting the children, and her willingness to go to such lengths as to end up killing herself to avoid it.

As it turns out, one of the Fae is stealing children, keeping each for a year and a day, and then killing them, only to take another. In the place of each child is left a simulacrum, a changeling, each of whom has fomented violence and family strife. In time, Charles and Anna are able to identify the Faery, find the bodies of the slain children, and save the still living child before she can be damaged. All ends well, but it is all too apparent that some members of the Fae have not retreated to the Fae Reservation, and do not consider themselves bound to leave humankind alone, or even safe. It is a chilling realization.

toukokuu 15, 2020, 10:38pm

68. The Secret Adversary by Agatha Christie This is the first of Agatha Christie's Tommy and Tuppence Beresford series. There aren't that many of them, but, just as with Christie's other series, they have been filmed for TV and filmed for movies, and otherwise kept alive, even after Christie's death.

I enjoyed this, and it had the signature Christie convoluted plot with multiple solutions presented. All but the last one are wrong, of course. It seems to me that any solution most readers are liable to come up with would be dealt with summarily, as it was found to be spurious. I never try to figure out mysteries. It's not the way I enjoy them.

I don't think Tommy and Tuppence live up to her other series for fascination. In addition, there is a powerful lot of the good guys becoming prisoners of the bad guys, and getting themselves out of trouble. It would be interesting to see whether other episodes of this series also depended upon this story pattern.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 24, 2020, 10:17pm

69. Not That Kind of Guy by Andie J. Christopher This was a good romance novel, and Andie Christopher is a find. Bridget Nolan had found the love of her life when he peed in her kiddie pool on her fourth birthday. She dated him for a dozen years to prove it, swallowing more and more of his jerk behavior. When her mother moved out on her father during her middle childhood she had taken on the job of mother of the family, and never failed, after that, to be put-together and perfect. She had her life planned out--where the house would be, how many children, how long it would take to pay off their student loans. Then he did something unforgivable, and didn't understand what was wrong with it. Bridget decided that she was finished with men.

She is a lawyer at the State Prosecutor's office, working on sexual assault and cases with crimes against children. She is very passionate about their justice and her role in it. She kicks ass at the Prosecutor's office with younger lawyers, witnesses, and alleged perpetrators. When her supervisor asks her to take on a law student intern over the summer, and especially when she discovers that he is immensely rich and from a very influential family, she refuses. Then she discovers that she might get a very desirable fellowship out of it, and she waffles.

Matt Kido thinks Bridget Nolan is the most stunning woman he has ever seen. Even her disdain for him doesn't stop him from trying to get into her good graces, with the idea to date her when his internship ends. That works out beautifully with the fact that she needs a date for her brother's wedding, and there's no one she would rather go with. The Bachelor's and Bachelorette's parties are in Las Vegas, and he goes along. I know it's a cliché, but they get drunk and get married by an Elvis. Now they have to figure out what to do about it.

The problem is that both of them would rather like to see where this goes, and the sex is great, too. The annulment is a no-go because they have consummated the relationship, and the divorce gets put off, and put off. Of course, there are complications, and they do end up divorced. Needless to say, there is a HEA--happily ever after--ending as he proposes to her again, and she accepts.
This was a fun fantasy love affair, and I just galloped through it. For Romance readers this is definitely worth it. I don't read many modern romances, so that's saying something.

toukokuu 24, 2020, 5:53pm

70. Grave Expectations by C. J. Archer

I'm going to say very little about this book. It is the fourth in the Queen's Necromancer series, and carries along the plot. Other than that, it seemed a little perfunctory. Most of all it seemed neither good nor bad, neither gripping nor boring. I may stop reading this series, or I may try one more, to see if this one was a fluke. If it were not a rather slight book, it would not be worth the time.

toukokuu 24, 2020, 10:17pm

71. Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn

This was yet another exceptional romance, this time of the Contemporary genre, one of my least favorite types. Meg Mackworth has a one-woman business in New York City, doing Graphic Arts and Hand Lettering. Last year she did all the wedding items which need that skill for a couple with what sounds like a lavish wedding. Invitations, Thank-you notes, a guest book, etc. They were very happy with her work, and the wedding was soon. Now the groom from that couple has shown up to the shop she collaborates with, asking to speak to her.

The groom, Reid Sutherland, explains that they didn't get married after all, and he wanted to talk to Meg again. It has a rocky beginning, but a romance ensues. Meg has an artistic block, and they agree to ramble over Manhattan, watching for signs as examples of typography. Meg has used this before as a method to stimulate her creativity. Meg and Reid go rambling, and as they do they get to know each other. Soon they each come to find the other necessary, for fun, for inspiration, And then Reid stops answering his phone, isn't at work or at home, and stops calling or texting Meg. Will Meg find him? Will she be glad that she did? Has she misunderstood his interest? The answers turn out not to be what she expects at all.

I found their wanderings fascinating, and their conversation delightful. This was fun, has an HEA ending, and I hope this author's other stuff is as good.

kesäkuu 1, 2020, 1:59pm

I can't believe how behind I have gotten.
CoVid19 seems to not have affected my reading so much as my writing.

72. Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine. Imagine a London of 2025 in a world in which the Great Library of Alexandria was not destroyed, and a powerful Library bureaucracy was cemented, and Gutenberg's (and others') presses were suppressed to control the populace via access to books. Naturally, an underground trade in books has been established, and Jess Brightwell is the ten-year-old son of the established family business in book sales and book running, all practices that are illegal and punishable by death. His seventeen-year-old brother was hanged last year for illegal possession of a book and book trading.

Jess's father has purchased him a chance at a place working for the Library. There is only one library, with copies of all the classic texts copied instantly by Alchemy as they were written by hand, and deposited in the Library branches in large cities. There remains no movable type.

The remainder of this book covers the time Jess spends training to be a Library functionary, and spying for his father. He makes like-aged friends, and they act as students do everywhere. The crux of the crisis (is that redundant?) occurs when his close friend in the program invents a press with movable type, sure that this innovation will be welcomed for the access that it will give. He is naive, and doesn't understand the situation. When it is discovered, this child is vanished, and Jess is given a Library appointment which does not use his brain, his chief gift.

There is a hint that these members of his class will work from within to reform the Library, or overturn.

I really need to read the sequels. This was much better than the typical fantasy.

kesäkuu 1, 2020, 4:48pm

>175 sallypursell: Sounds interesting.

kesäkuu 2, 2020, 7:15pm

>176 janemarieprice: Thank you for your comment, janemarieprice. It was very interesting. The starting scenes were gripping and made the danger of owning books so real to me.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 23, 2020, 1:19am

73. Of Blood and Bone by Nora Roberts.

This is the sequel to > 54 Year One, and second in a trilogy. I don't need to say much about this one. It had, unfortunately, more of the sentimental scenes, which were not very realistic, and full of things where there was no complicated problem going on, although there were allusions to them coming in the future.

Better were the scenes of The One training for two years in combat, sword and magic fighting, which were the middle of the book. The later part had scene were the teens from the town New Hope who join with her on some initial raids, very satisfying one, in one of which they are able to disable a number of nuclear missiles in their silos. There is still book three to come, when I assume the war will assume greater proportions. One can see coming, however, some truly sappy scenes when she comes to be in love with one of those teens, and for some reason, never has an opinion considerably different from her own. This was worth the read, but only just barely. I am of two minds about volume Three. I bought the first two, but I don't feel very inclined to buy the last one. My Kindle should be sufficient, I think.

kesäkuu 4, 2020, 4:45pm

74. The Six-Gun Tarot by R. S. Belcher

I don't suppose this varies much from the typical fantasy-horror, but somehow it comes across differently. It is a Western, which is not my favorite genre, but when it is good, it is, as in any genre, immaterial that it is Western in setting.

A 15-year old named Jim is fleeing a capital murder charge in North Carolina, where his father was vilely done to death by a dishonest man for advantage. He killed the murderer. Now in Nevada, he is dying in the desert, and so is his beloved horse from home. He is rescued by a half-breed Amerindian and taken to Golgotha, a small town where a played-out silver mine is the occasion for the town.

The Native is a relative of Coyote, and a shifter; he is the Deputy Sheriff, and the Sheriff, they say, can't be killed. He bears three noose-marks on his neck from those who have tried. The Banker's wife is a lineal descendant of Lilith, an assassin from a long line of assassins, all women. The Mayor guards Aaron's priestly garb, and the insignias and regalia of the Jewish mystical tradition, objects of great power. The piano-player in the saloon knows surprising things, and is calm even in great chaos. What can be his story, and has he really been here since Golgotha was founded, as he says?

Something evil is stirring under the abandoned silver mine. Will it succeed in it's pan-anthropophagic goal? Can this rag-tag band defeat a plot of great cunning and power, to safe the innocent and normal folk of the town, as well as the world?

Wow, this was good. I must have the rest.

kesäkuu 10, 2020, 9:18pm

75. The Burglar Who Liked To Quote Kipling by Lawrence Block. Block is the master at writing complicated stories which go by both effortlessly and readably. He is never confusing, no matter how many things are happening at once. I don't like intrigue at all, but I do read one series of Blocks which is the best spycraft I have enjoyed. In this, the third episode of this series, Bernie Rhodenbarr, almost-retired burglar, is a literature lover who owns a used bookstore. When a stranger asks him to steal a priceless rare volume of Kipling's, he can't resist. The hard part will be surrendering the volume to his employer. This usually competent burglar was so excited that he failed to get part of his pay in advance, and now the go-between to whom he has been instructed to pass the volume is killed before he can do so. He doesn't know how to contact the principal in the matter. This is the stickiest situation Bernie has even been in. The police are closing in, he doesn't have much money with him, and he can't go to the bookstore or to his home, where there is more.

Bernie must decipher the intricacy of a truly labyrinthine plot to straighten up his life. Kirkus reviews says that "Reminds you again why you'd rather be stranded on a desert island with Bernie than any other detective in fiction."

kesäkuu 10, 2020, 9:29pm

76. No One Noticed the Cat by Anne McCaffrey Anne McCaffrey is mostly known for her Pern series and other fantasy/science fiction. This is a very slim volume, clearly meant for Young Adults, in which a cat is an important functionary in the advisers and defenders around the very young King Jamas, who is left without his best one, in the form of his regent Mangan Tighe. When more useful and beneficent people are killed, only the cat can take action. And he does. All is solved, of course.

kesäkuu 10, 2020, 10:25pm

77. The Canceled Czech by Lawrence Block

This is the second installment in the series about Evan Tanner, an American who was wounded in war and is now unable to sleep. This makes him, along with his native gifts, to be an exceptional spy. He works for an Agency of the US Intelligence Services, one so secret that it has no name, and whose head, who also has no name, who reminds his spies before any mission that they are on their own and won't be acknowledged or rescued if they are caught. Evan doesn't take orders well; he has been sent to Prague to release a prominent
Neo-Nazi who is a prisoner in the hands of the Czechs. This man has many files on the Neo-Nazis of the whole world, and Tanner's secret Agency wants them. The Czechoslovakians want a big show-trial and public death, to pay him back for the very many he sent to the death camps near the end of the War.

Evan handles all of this, except that rather than extract the man, he kills him, as he feels this is more palatable than to save this awful man, who has repented of nothing, and doesn't even have the sense to rein in his comments during the rescue attempt. In the process of this mission, Evan must leap from a moving train, deal with a blonde and sex-crazy German Neo-Nazi, who goes with him to help in this attempt after he contacts his local guide, an important New-Nazi. He also has to keep her satisfied and quiet, and address a Neo-Nazi rally extemporaneously, all to maintain his cover. Evan is the endlessly resourceful man to make this work, and to bring the target out of prison, after which he has to accompany this prisoner and smuggle him out of the country. This is especially difficult since the target insists on keeping a running commentary of anti-Semitic and anti-Czech opinions, even in front of the Semites and local functionaries. His unrepentant and ugly thoughts impel Evan to kill him, and he isn't sorry. His chief eventually decides the US and the world are better with him dead.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 23, 2020, 1:21am

78. Another one of the Dukes of Christmas series, Wish Upon a Duke, by Erica Ridley is very similar to the first two in this series. Fun if you don't think too hard. In this one, the friend of the first protagonist must serve as a matchmaker to the aristocrat visiting Cressmouth, the town also known as Christmas, in the far North of England. While nearing the end of this story, and while getting to know each other, they each learn that the other is a serious, if amateur, Astronomer. Can you not see a wedding coming. Happily Ever After!

kesäkuu 10, 2020, 10:46pm

79. Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, by Robert Sapolsky, a well-known writer of popular fiction, and lecturer at Stanford, writes a moderately deep dive into the physiology of Stress. He covers the brain areas and organs which respond to stressful situations, and explains how they interact, with direct nerve stimulation or by the action of their secretions. This is not for the faintly curious, because it is a serious look at the physiology and the effects of chronic stress on our health, and on our thinking. The subtitle is "The Acclaimed Guide to Stress, Stress-related Diseases, and Coping", and carries an attestation on the cover from Oliver Sacks, who says "One of the best science writers of our time."

There is no doubt that this is quite readable is the physiology is only partially understood. In the last chapter is the topic of managing and coping with stress, in which he covers those aged who are still healthy and relatively stress-disease-free. Dr. Sapolsky (not a medical doctor) covers those factors which seem to be most protective of stress damage, and explains the ways that seem to work to help with stress, and the techniques that he sees that work to help.

Quite enjoyable for me, because I have studied physiology, but I think if someone isn't intimidated by the information, this might be enjoyable for someone who is new to this stuff, as well. It is truly readable, and uses quite a casual tone.

kesäkuu 17, 2020, 11:28am

I realized that the next review was a stumbling-block, so I am going to put in dummy posts for the next few, and hope to go back to them. Some need little commentary, but that seems difficult for me.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 28, 2020, 7:33pm

80. Dreamer's Pool by Juliet Marillier

In this fantasy, a young lady herbalist and wise woman is wrongly imprisoned by a corrupt district lord. She is offered a bargain by a sorcerer who walks through the bars, but seems otherwise solid: if she will allow him to free her, he will set upon her a geas to live in a place he has chosen for her. She is not to turn down any reasonable request for a time period of a number of years (seven?).

He blows up the carcel, and she is freed, along with a very large man of seeming low intelligence, who has protected her and helped her during her imprisonment. This man begs to go along with her to protect her on her journey, and she agrees, with some reluctance.

They find the cottage she was promised, although it is poor repair. She allows the man, known as Grim, to stay with her to repair the cottage while she establishes herself with the village and the local lord (a different one for this different place). She is taciturn, and tries to stay apart from the society of the place, but slowly she is drawn into it, and she is celebrated and looked to for judgments and help from the people hereabouts, no matter how she tries her standoffishness. This is especially after she determines that a young women who is missing is actually held prisoner in a barn by an aristocrat of the area, who has raped her and tormented her. She and Grim perform a rescue, and become endeared to the villages. Next she must deal with a request by the young, well-meaning, local lord, whose people have no remembrance of anything before they served in the castle. Neither can he remember anything antecedent. The young fiancée of this prince has changed her personality ever since she arrived for the wedding. Why? and what can be done to change her back? A sweet intellectual has become a strident seductress, with no interest in the things she used to share with the prince by her letters.

Needless to say, this young woman, who has chosen the name Blackthorn as her practitioner's name, determines the cause of the trouble, and accomplishes the Prince's desire. She and Grim have become an effective team, and they continue into a series which has many devotees.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 20, 2020, 3:12pm

81. Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs

This was four novellas involving Mercy Thompson, one of my favorite heroines. These are the series I have called "candy", because they are just to my liking.

I though these were even better than the novels, which surprised me. I think authors who shine at short fiction do not write good novels, and vice versa, but in this case Patricia Briggs does both well.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 20, 2020, 3:11pm

82. The Ghost Fields by Elly Griffiths

The next one in the Ruth Galloway series, involving the mysterious case of a British war-time airman whose plane crashed into the sea during WWII, instead found in the cockpit of a different plane fully buried in a quarry not too far from Ruth's home. She is called on to help with forensics on the body, to take samples for carbon dating, and the like. During the course of the case she is stranded in a house with one relative of dead pilot during torrential rains and flooding. In a story too complicated to explain she is in danger of being killed due to this, and is barely rescued by her own wits and the help of the police detective who is the father of her child.

That doesn't give the flavour of this at all, I thought it was one of the better ones of a generally fine series, one of which was among the best books I read last year.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 20, 2020, 3:11pm

83. Thyme of Death by Susan Wittig Albert

This was the first in the series featuring China Bayles as the lay detective in a small community. She owns an herb shop. She had previously worked as a take-charge lawyer, on the up swing of a fine career, and then had suddenly just had enough of it. This suits her better, and she is just relaxing into it, having good friends, fellow small merchants, and an interesting man to consider getting more serious with.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 30, 2020, 9:27pm

84. The Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie This winds up the trilogy of The First Law, which unfortunately repeated the name of another fantasy series published fairly recently. The other one was dark in the third and fourth books, but this series is much more cynical and has more tragic characters.

The name of this volume comes from military history relating to King Louis XIV, who had it engraved on all his cannons. This very large book tells the story of the war that results from the failures of the strategems in the first two books. The capital city is beseiged and the cannonade of the bad guys destroys their city Walls, both of them, and smashes many large buildings and not a few people.

The First Wizard has fallen for the "the end justifies the means" and intends to breach the First Law in order to win the war. We wonder whether he is Good any more.

It turns out the Nine-Fingers is a berserker, which is the secret of his success. He beats the King of the North's champion in a single combat, and himself becomes King of the North, not at all the outcome he wanted. He is tempted to abscond.

The young soldier who intended to quit being a soldier and settle down with a good woman, due to finding out that war is not for him, is elected King of the South after an unexpected death in the current King and both his heirs by murder. He was a compromise candidate who is expected to be passive and be manipulated. But instead, his recent experiences in war have made him steel-spined enough to act as King in earnest, to the great surprise of all.

Glotka, the torturer, does not get what he expected. He still has a tragic life.
I must say this lives up to the promise of the first two books, and was more real than I thought at first.

Recommended for those who like epic fantasy, but beware. It is about spoiled expectations and the capriciousness of life, not the usual approach of a fantasy.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 30, 2020, 6:25pm

85. Killer Market by Margaret Maron Judge Deborah Knott is loaned out to another district to sub for a neighboring Judge. Again, she is staying with friends, since she has friends everywhere, and since it is Deborah Knott, there is a murder. This time it is at a huge annual convention of fine furniture and home decorations, with all the attendant designers, scene dressers, artisons, and dealers, so there are many colorful characters. Deborah solves the murders again, as usual using her knowledge of human nature and propensity to ask questions. I find her mysteries very quick and enjoyable reads.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 30, 2020, 6:36pm

86. Cooking the Books by Kerry Greenwood The next entry in the series of mysteries of Corinna Chapman, the baker in Melbourne, Australia. I love these. They are frothy confections, with the best characters and the most interesting neighbors, some of whom get themselves in complicated fixes.

In this one Corinna is on vacation, but she agrees to bake for a TV series set that has her two store clerks as characters. They are actors waiting for stardom most of the time. Actors are subject to tremendously fascinating tragedies and triumphs so much of the time, and the principals in this show are no exceptions. Murders and pranks both ensue, and a good time is had by all except the victims and accused. Corinna and Daniel end up back in each other's arms again, and all at Insula, her Roman-style apartment building, enjoy another delicious pot-luck near the Impluvium, all except Mrs. Pemburthy and her hideous little dog Traddles.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 30, 2020, 6:41pm

87. The Spotted Dog by Kerry Greenwood I should never have gone on immediately to the next Corinna adventure, the more so because I believe it is the last one in the series to be published. I hope there will be more. Yet another criminal consortium, more visits to the Night Bus, Sister Mary's charity to the homeless and downtrodden of Melbourne. Good fun, if it does involve tragedies. That is never downplayed, and the ugly doings and defenseless left in its wake are always given the weight they deserve, but the great characters and setting satisfy every time.

kesäkuu 17, 2020, 3:35pm

Goodness - so many books in such a short space of time. Are you a super speedy reader, or do you spend a decent amount of time each day reading?

kesäkuu 20, 2020, 3:10pm

Really both, Alison. I am having a new flare, which means a lot of time in bed, and half an hour twice a day to do anything. Reading is a good way to spent it, and genre fiction so much more pleasant than, and requiring less brain power and energy than, more serious works. There are more now--two more books since then. I feel so poorly that I don't know if I'll ever get back to these.

As far as speed--here's another story from my life. My brother had trouble in school with getting things done. He was tested for reading speed, for some reason, and it was low. (He is rather an engineering genius--look up Dinan Automotive--my brother is Steve Dinan.) Upon hearing that there were seven more children, the speed-of-reading folks came to our house to test us all. My father, the rocket scientist (really an engineer) scored about the same as my brother. We later decided that this was because they were accustomed to looking at schematics of electrical circuits and power trains and so were benefited from reading slowly and carefully. The rest of us were very normal, except for my nearest sister and I, who shared a room, and shared books. Both of us read 1,500+ words per minute with 90% comprehension. I was the faster. The speed-of-reading folks were rather crushed. I think they saw sales of speed-reading classes in our future, with glittery dollar signs attached. No such luck. It doesn't feel fast, but people say I flip pages rather rapidly.

kesäkuu 22, 2020, 4:01am

>195 sallypursell: Fun story, Sally! I think people read in all different ways, and I think you're right about your father's style of reading. My husband is an engineer, and he seems to need to slowly digest and absorb and ensure he's fully understood everything he's read before he goes onto the next line.

Sorry to hear you're feeling so unwell. I hope your flare up passes soon - it's awful when poor health drags you down.

kesäkuu 22, 2020, 4:08pm

>195 sallypursell: Your reading speed sounds incredibly fast or perhaps I am just slow. No wonders you get through so many books. When I buy a book on kindle it tells me the average time to read the book and I rarely better that.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 30, 2020, 6:49pm

>197 baswood: I'm pretty sure the kindle samples an individual reader's speed before estimating, and makes the time his or her own. I usually do better it, but never by very much. I think I start slower than my reading speed in the middle. I don't think reading speed is very important, except in the way it often is hard for me to get enough reading material. Having the library closed these last few months has been a torment. I have spent far too much money.

When I was 12 or 13 I went through four or five whole books a day, and eventually I went for the tomes, so they would last a day or two. I was famous in the family for reading the dictionary when I was out of books.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 30, 2020, 9:31pm

88. The Palace of Lost Memories by C. J. Archer This was a disappointment, leaving a cliffhanger which needs another volume to be read. Not good enough for that. I hate this; I feel cheated. It is a slim book, too. I think they just split one volume to make more money.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 30, 2020, 9:44pm

89. The Killer Across the Table by John E. Douglas This was another book about the process of interviewing serial killers, but this time after Mr. Douglas has left the FBI. I'm surprised his questionnaire was not made proprietary to the FBI. But this is the gentleman who developed the process of eliciting the information he wanted from serial murderers by this questionnaire. He did have some help doing this. The TV series The Mindhunter was much more gripping, I hate to say, although the portrayals of the Mindhunters was somewhat fictional, and not as flattering to the FBI agents as this book is. The TV series was terrific, one of the best series I have seen. This was much sketchier, and I didn't get the same vibe that I got from the show. I would have liked more depth, and more information from each predator, instead of this sketch-type of book. I didn't learn much about each case, or the thinking and process of the interviewer. I wonder if the original book was better, Mind Hunter, which is listed over in the Touchstones. If I can find it I may try it before giving up on this writer; I thought the interviewers process much the most interesting of the topics in the show.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 30, 2020, 10:01pm

90. Silent Prey by John Sandford Yet another book in a series about a police detective with good solution rates, and an ugly manner. I can't stand this guy, but the police procedure and situations are so interesting. The detective is a pig. He is far too interesting to women, and brash, and arrogant. I don't even care that he is good at his job. This usually causes admiration on my part, but not this time. I wish some miscreant would off him.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 1, 2020, 9:49pm

91. Glazed Murder by Jessica Beck

I think maybe I've read too many of the first-book-in-a-mystery-series. They begin to all sound alike and that's not fair to them.
This is about a woman who bought a doughnut shop with the proceeds from her divorce, and has made a small success of it with the labor of her hands and brain.

On the one day a week that she does not have an assistant, Suzanne Hart goes to the door to turn on her "Donut Hearts" sign outside and unlock the door, when a body is pushed out of a car just at the entrance. Unfortunately it is a customer whom she likes. The police come, of course, and it is a chaotic day. Eventually she is threatened, stalked by her ex-husband, and eventually also she questions her way into some understanding.

I did enjoy this, but I can't deny it was a lot like some others I've read. Perhaps that is no one's fault, and only to be expected. There are limited ways to suddenly have money enough to buy a small business, and limited ways to run a small business, and plenty of examples of this kind of story.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 1, 2020, 7:20pm

92. Krakatoa by Simon Winchester

This book is a well-balanced story of the Krakatoa explosion in 1883, which was surely the largest volcanic eruption in historic times. It takes a long time to get to the day of the eruption, covering first the basics of its "discovery" and the colonial history of Krakatoa's neighboring islands. The herbs and spices growing in the "Spice Islands" receive some coverage, and then the evidence for and against the posited earlier eruptions that have been claimed for it. It is certain that the Krakatoa and the three other islands in a circular pattern with it we know were but the remnants of an earlier, much larger item known to geologists as "Ancient Krakatoa". The small island growing in the same place now is called "Anak Krakatoa" or "child of Krakatoa" and it may one day replay an explosion like that which occurred in 1883. One has to hope that those living around it will get more warning of the tsunami that will surely follow it. No one did in this time in the late 19th century, because the telegraph cables were then destroyed by the explosion itself.

Still, Krakatoa is so famous because it was the first catastrophe to be telegraphed around the world, and known to the rest within the first day to the first three days. The telegraphy revolution also gets a chapter in this book. The last sections cover first, the after-effects of the eruption, and more information about the immediate witnesses of it. Then they cover the casualties, which were the greatest total of any volcanic catastrophe of which we have a reasonable count--with the exception of Mount Tambora, whose larger total cannot be ascertained. We know that in the day of Krakatoa's explosion, 36, 000 people lost their lives.

The last section covers the history of the political unrest in Java, and the movements that were involved. I found that part uninteresting, and I thought the section considering the possible earlier eruptions was too long. That's the only criticism I have. I loved this otherwise.

Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 30, 2020, 9:57pm

93. The Beauty Defense by Laura James This was interesting information about famous cases regarding women who killed husbands and lovers, and usually got away with it. Unfortunately, it had a light and somewhat disrespectful tone, and it really seemed trivial. The details were very lacking, and the language often included slang and disregard for the crime carried out. No one in each murder story was given much understanding or respect for each one's pain and suffering. Altogether a longer and more insightful book would have been welcome, with due regard for the tragedies in these crimes, and what happened to the poor children often left orphaned by them. When there was a spouse left behind, it might have been ruin if it were a woman, but we are told very little about these women. There's a word I'm unable to call to mind that describes the attitude of the book, but in any case it was a waste of this author's time, and the publication of this book. Such an interesting premise, too.

heinäkuu 1, 2020, 1:06pm

>198 sallypursell: Hello again! I also was the kid who went to the library, checked out the 6-book maximum, and read them all in one day. Then I would read them again, and had to wait until I could either walk to the bookmobile or my dad would drive me there. I would read anything I could get my hands on--cereal boxes, magazines, etc.

heinäkuu 1, 2020, 1:33pm

Not me, no speed reader. I’ve always read slowly, and most of my life I’ve read around 3+ minutes per page on a normal book. That’s a little slower than the pace of an audiobook. I do seem to have sped up a little of late, depending on the book. My slow pace is extremely frustrating when I think about it or when I try to push it faster, but quite wonderful when I get lost in the book at a slow pace, and don’t think about it. (Have to learn to embrace my inner 🦥)

I didn’t read much as a kid and I blame that for my slow reading - that I simply didn’t learn how to be more efficient. (Of course, my slow pace may have discouraged my early reading.)

heinäkuu 1, 2020, 1:59pm

>198 sallypursell: >205 LadyoftheLodge:

And I thought I read fast... For normal novels (not too dense text), I usually read a page per minute (speed collapses for non-fiction and can be slightly faster for some novels but it washes around there for fiction).

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 1, 2020, 7:27pm

I have no idea how fast I read a page, I certainly don't want to watch a clock when I am reading. How do you know something like that?
>206 dchaikin:, >207 AnnieMod: My husband says I usually read a page in less than a minute. Just now when I asked him, he said, "Oh, yes, God, yes." which I took to mean "very much so". He says he thought he was quite a reader, but he's never seen any one read like I do, and he believes I have read more than anyone he has known or heard of. That probably isn't true--but how would I know? I've certainly read thousands of books in our married life. Say, that book Krakatoa was really good.

heinäkuu 1, 2020, 6:37pm

Should I be starting a new thread? Are there any disadvantages to that? I can see some advantages.

heinäkuu 1, 2020, 7:10pm

Just personal preference. Benefits include a chance to refresh and a shorter thread. Disadvantages include that you will want to remember your old thread. If you use the continue this topic link at the bottom of page, LT automatically sets up links between the two threads.

heinäkuu 1, 2020, 7:22pm

>208 sallypursell:

I do not time single pages but experience had taught me that I need roughly an hour for every 60 pages in a normal hardback/paperback and most mass market paperback fiction books and when I bother to check, it is usually close enough. Some books, which have a lot of white space and empty and half pages, move faster of course and if you get something dense or super-sized, it goes slower. The usual way it happens for me is when at midnight I realize I have 120 pages left and I know it means I am going to bed at 2 am (or when I know when I started and when I stop, I know which page it is based on the clock - and vice versa sometimes). Non-fiction can go anywhere between 20 pages per hour and 60+ - depends on the book. Just look at the clock when you open the book and look at it when you are done for that reading session - do it enough times and you will see the patterns. :)

The interesting part for me at least is that it does not seem to depend on the author - new to me or a favorite - my reading speed seems to hold almost steady.

I read somewhat slower in Russian (not by much but somewhat) and pretty much at the same speed in English and Bulgarian.

heinäkuu 1, 2020, 9:52pm

So, if it matters to anyone, I set a timer for ten minutes and started at the beginning of a chapter. When the timer went off I was at the top of the 18th page. So I make that 1.7 pages per minute. I don't think it matters much, but to satisfy some people's curiosity, not to mention mine.

heinäkuu 1, 2020, 9:56pm

>205 LadyoftheLodge: My parents finally fastened on a punishment that really did punish me--they would forbid me to read. I was scrupulous about it, and if I found myself accidentally reading a cereal box I would drop my eyes to the table to prevent it. I found it excruciating. It was your mention of cereal boxes that reminded me.

heinäkuu 2, 2020, 2:36pm

>213 sallypursell: Yikes! I was not forbidden to read, except at the dinner table, although I was often told to "Get your nose out of that book!" No books or reading would be excruciating for sure!
Tämä viestiketju jatkuu täällä: Club Read--sallypursell's 2020 reading.