Tutu's (TinaB) 2015 tiptoe through the shelves Pt 2

Això és la continuació del tema Tutu's (TinaB) 2015 stroll thru the stacks.

Converses75 Books Challenge for 2015

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Tutu's (TinaB) 2015 tiptoe through the shelves Pt 2

Aquest tema està marcat com "inactiu"—L'últim missatge és de fa més de 90 dies. Podeu revifar-lo enviant una resposta.

Editat: jul. 11, 2015, 4:21pm

Welcome to Tutu’s tiptoe through the shelves, PT 2. Sorry about the lack of energy for an appropriate graphic. I'll let you use your imagination.

Up to June 30th, I managed to finish 60 books ( I hope I got them all jotted down). I’m not doing reviews but I did make notes on a couple that I never offered up to the assembly here and that I feel are especially worthy of a shoutout. I’ll mention them below.
I’m still waiting for a little more guidance from the Maine Reader’s Choice Committee so I can stay caught up, but that’s not seeming to materialize. SIGH.
To quickly recap here’s a run-down of reading finished from 1 Jan through 30 June 2015:

Books for My Library's Book Discussion Group
Come Spring by Ben Ames Williams
100 Year Old Man Who Climbed out the Window by Jonas Jonasson
Sweetness at the bottom of the pie Alan Bradley
Euphoria by Lily King
All the Light We Cannot See Anthony Doerr

Books reviewed for LT ER Program
Port City Shakedown by Gerry Boyle
Winter at the Door by Sarah Graves
Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

Series Re-reads
Elizabeth George Inspector Lynley Series #1-#13
Alexander McCall Smith No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series #1-#7
PD James Inspector Dalgleish series 1-3

Reading for my own pleasure
A symphony of echoes (St Mary's) Jodi Taylor
The Narrow Road to the Deep North Richard Flanagan
The Thing About December Donal Ryan
Cocaine Blues Kerry Greenwood
A Man Called Ove Frederick Backman
Daughters of Mars Thomas Keneally
The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir Who Got Trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe Romain Puertolas
Inside the Obriens Lisa Genova
Citizens of London Lyne Olson
Dance hall of the Dead Tony Hillerman
Spider Woman's Daughter Anne Hillerman
Killing Raven Margaret Coel
Shadow Dancer Margaret Coel
Unfamiliar Fishes Sarah Vowell
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End Atul Gawande
A Dangerous Place Jacqueline Winspear
Epitaths (Nameless Detective Book 20) Bill Pronzini
In the Woods Tana French

New Books published in 2015 – possible MRCA candidates
The Precipice Paul Doiron
The Girl on the Train Paula Hawkins
Language Arts Stephanie Kallos
At the Water's Edge Sara Gruen
Secret wisdom of the earth christopher scotton

jul. 11, 2015, 8:19pm

Happy new thread and good progress at 60 books. You'll soon be at 75!

jul. 11, 2015, 9:16pm

This basically shows how frustrated I am right now. Twice earlier today I did a short post about a book, only to find that it didn't "take." I suspect the first one was my bad, but then I posted a simple sentence saying I'd dumped the post and would be back later. So I'm back, but neither post is. I'm not going to post again until I make sure this is working the way it's supposed to.

Editat: jul. 11, 2015, 9:32pm

I've had that happen a few times lately, too. I tend to blame my undependable internet connection, but maybe it's LT.

Happy new thread, anyway!

jul. 11, 2015, 11:09pm

OK it seems steady enough to try this one more time. One of the newest I read, and will consider for MRCA is

The Children Act by Ian McEwan.

A gripping story told in icy, stoic prose. Reflecting an actual legal formality in the UK, it tells the story of Fiona Maye, a family court judge faced with Solomon-esque decision making while battling an emotional issue in her private life. Author Ian McEwan weaves together a tale of personal soul-searching, religious liberty, and societal values in a terse but rich novel. The main character is well developed, but the young man who is the subject of the dispute could have used more development. I couldn't decide if he was believable or not. But maybe that's why Fiona had trouble making her decision too. I'll definitely be reading more of his work.

jul. 12, 2015, 12:01am

In his stunning debut novel, Christopher Scotton has given us a powerful story of life, death, greed, family relations, friendship and growing up.  Set in rural Appalachian Kentucky, we meet people who are trying to honor their roots, raise and feed their families, preserve a way of life, and teach the next generation the value of the land and its resources.

I was blown away by this one.  The camping, hiking, hunting, tramping scenes are not subjects I'm normally fond of, but Scotton's descriptions and his ability to spin not only believable but spectacular dialogue made this one a true page turner for me.

There are heart-wrenching and poignant scenes of incredible sadness.  There are heart-warming and rewarding scenes of astonishing acts of friendship.  There are scenes of such devotion, love and bravery that I was often on the verge of tears.

And the prose.....Ah....the prose.  It is sparse, clipped, poetic, insightful, artistic and often breathtaking.  I saw every picture the writer painted as he described mountains, buildings, caves, vegetation, and most especially love, respect, hatred, cunning, greed and bigotry.

After his younger brother dies in a horrifying accident, fourteen year old Kevin and his mother come to Medgar Kentucky to spend the summer with his grandfather, hoping to help each of them mend.  Here they encounter a town caught in a battle over strip-mining, leveling the surrounding mountains, and polluting the waterways.  The opposition is led by a recently outed homosexual in this small-town, Bible-belted setting.  Here Kevin meets Buzzy Fink, outdoorsman extraordinaire. Buzzy witnesses a horrific crime and struggles with what to do with the knowledge.  On a harrowing camping trip with Grandpa, both boys learn their true strength, both moral and physical.

An adult Kevin narrates the story, giving us the benefit of his hindsight, but never lets us loose the pit-of-the-stomach moments the teenagers experience.

Definitely one of the best books of the year for me.  I was so enamored, I also borrowed the audio from  the public library.  The narrator, Robert Petkoff, gives us the pitch perfect accents of the areas, varies the voices so the listener is never in doubt about who is speaking, and cements this debut novel in the top ranks of literary fiction for 2015.  Don't miss it.

Title: The Secret Wisdom of the Earth
Author: Christopher Scotton
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (2015),  480 pages;
Audio:  Hachette Audio and Blackstone Audio; Unabridged edition (January 6, 2015)
Narrator: Robert Petkoff
Genre: literary fiction
Subject: coming of age; bigotry, greed, strip-mining
Setting: rural Kentucky
Source: Public library

jul. 12, 2015, 12:54pm

>6 tututhefirst: You hit me with a book bullet. I'll look for this one. Thanks for the incredible review.

jul. 13, 2015, 7:04am

Happy new thread, Tina. London! What fun. I added both the Scotton and the McEwan to my wishlist. My favorite McEwan is Saturday.

jul. 18, 2015, 11:44pm

Catching up on another that needs a mention..... I finished this one back in April sometime....

Citizens of London: The Americans Who stood with Britain in its Darkest, Finest Hour

A different perspective of life in London during World War II. It certainly gave me insight into several individuals who played important roles in bringing the US into the war, but who don't often appear in many of the work written about the era.

The relationship between Averill Harriman, Edward R. Murrow and John Gilbert Winant was quite enlightening. I'd never heard of Winant, and although the other two were familiar names, I was unaware of how their careers influenced people like Roosevelt and Churchill.

Interesting, well-written if a bit dry.

jul. 18, 2015, 11:48pm

The Truth According to Us

 I was really disappointed in this big, slow, lumbering story.  Based on the author's previous work, I expected to enjoy the novel.  Instead, I found myself struggling for over a month to get anywhere close to finishing it.  Perhaps  Barrows was trying to give the reader the experience of life in slower times, but she only succeeded in giving the reader a glimpse into a life of total tedium.

Based on the publisher's blurb, I thought we'd get more of the flavor of the effects of the Great Depression on a small town in West Virginia.  The publisher says that the main character Layla Beck imagined that she "was destined, in her own opinion, to go mad with boredom".   I'm not sure if she really did, because before I could find out if Layla did,  I certainly came close to that state myself.

Too many insipid, unbelievable characters with too many agenda, and nothing spinning anyplace but around in circles.  Probably it would have been a good story if an editor had helped tighten it up, but I gave up about 3/4 of the way through.  Even a good ending isn't going to save this one.

Title: The Truth According to Us
Author: Annie Barrows
Publisher: The Dial Press (2015), Hardcover, 512 pages
Genre: Claims to be historical fiction - long on fiction, very short on history
Subject: wish I could have figured it out
Setting: fictional West Virginia town during the Great Depression
Source: review copy from the publisher
Why did I read this book now? I received it as a participant in LibraryThing.com's Early Reviewer program and was committed to review it.

jul. 21, 2015, 12:58pm

>10 tututhefirst: Oh, that's disappointing. I'd put it on my list to read someday but may move it down to the bottom of the pile...

jul. 21, 2015, 7:09pm

The Secret Wisdom of Earth is on hold for me at the local library. Three people are in front of me, but I will get the book eventually. Thanks for your glowing review.

jul. 21, 2015, 10:57pm

NPR American Chronicles: First Ladies
A delightful collection of first lady vignettes. Cokie Roberts introduces this series of NPR podcasts, which present us with some well-known, as well as some little known tidbits of information, gossip, facts and inferences about many of our favorite first ladies.

Not exactly a book, I received this short CD assortment as part of the ER program.  The individual segments are the perfect length for travel listening.  Well written, well researched, and absolutely fascinating.  It has certainly enhanced my quest to read biographies of all the presidents.  I definitely plan to add some fuller bios of the interesting ladies. These will be a wonderful complement to my reading for the US Presidents Challenge.

jul. 21, 2015, 11:28pm

Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell

I lived in Hawaii for over 2 years back in the 70's and was fascinated about the history and cultural background that accompanied the beautiful and magical landscape. Sarah Vowell's well researched and organized story of the Hawaiian Islands presents the geography, history, the various ethnic groups, the food, the music, the poetry, the myths, the treachery and the language in a low-key but mesmerizing prose.

I'm a definite fan of audio books, so chose to listen to this one.  Sarah Vowell's quirky, fun delivery of her writing added a lot for me.  She definitely helped us to understand where her humor was responsible for tongue-in-cheek asides, where the straight history was being presented, and where she was drawing inferences based on various bits of info, especially where one might not have normally drawn such conclusions.

We are introduced to the various ethnic groups who populated the islands, the mythical and magical stories that form so much of the Hawaiian charm, and the unquenchably greedy grasping of big money big politicians in Washington whose quest for territory is one of our country's less than stellar moments in history.

Altogether an enchanting read, and one which will appeal for a variety of reasons.

jul. 21, 2015, 11:47pm

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande

I agree with the many reviewers who urge that everyone should read this book.  Since that is of course not going to happen, perhaps the better goal would be that everybody should have the chance to be exposed to the ideas and ideals delineated so clearly by Dr. Gawande.  In clearly written prose, Gawande explains why it is that doctors are not giving patients the information they should have to navigate the many options available as a person nears the end of life.

The story is compelling, non-frightening, and utterly believable as he tells of how his own father, a renowned physician, dealt with his impending death.  We are introduced to concepts that are all too often brushed aside, glossed over, or even ignored, as doctors (who are trained to cure and keep people alive) bumble along without the proper training in how to help people make intelligent and life-enhancing choices.  The phrase I liked best was his insistence on getting terminal patients to think about "How do you want to live the rest of your life?  What would you like to do with the time you have left?"  By offering patients the opportunity to decline painful, expensive and often extraordinary medical procedures to gain only days or weeks of agony so they can live out their remaining time alert and without added physical distress, he shows us a new and more humane model for coping for life's natural end.  Highly recommended.

jul. 22, 2015, 12:35am

I both read and then listened to Unfamiliar Fishes. I loved the audio version. I'm currently listening to Captive Paradise, a very comprehensive history of Hawaii. It's fairly engaging and covers a lot more ground than Vowell's book but it's not nearly as entertaining.

I do need to get to Being Mortal.

jul. 22, 2015, 2:49am

Dang, this is a dangerous thread! Off to a great start. Thanks for the wonderful reviews.

jul. 22, 2015, 9:22am

>15 tututhefirst: Have this one on suspended hold at the library. Do you think that it would be good for a book club?

jul. 23, 2015, 8:32pm

The Precipice

In this action packed suspense mystery, the publisher whets our appetite with a blurb that almost spoils the story.  Here's the opening:

In this riveting new novel from Edgar finalist Paul Doiron, Bowditch joins a desperate search for two missing hikers as Maine wildlife officials deal with a frightening rash of coyote attacks.
When two female hikers disappear in the Hundred Mile Wilderness-the most remote stretch along the entire Appalachian Trail-Maine game warden Mike Bowditch joins the desperate search to find them.
Hope turns to despair after two unidentified corpses are discovered-their bones picked clean by coyotes. Do the bodies belong to the missing hikers? And were they killed by the increasingly aggressive wild dogs?

Paul Doiron continues to improve his story-telling skills in this latest of the Mike Bowditch series set in the northern woods of Maine.  The story contains mystery, romance, animals (both human and wild), and a tale of egos, gorgeous scenery, and high adventures in the Maine Wilderness.

I don't want to spoil the story.  It's a fast-paced, page turning look at the multi-facted life of Maine Game Wardens as they go about protecting land, people, resources, and wildlife.  Mike Bowditch is maturing as a character, Paul Doiron is maturing as a writer, and that all adds up to a treat for the reader.

Title: The Precipice
Author: Paul Doiron
Publisher: Minotaur Books (2015), e-galley 336 pages
Genre: Mystery
Subject: Missing persons
Setting: Northern Maine woods
Series: Mike Bowditch (6)
Source: review copy from publisher via Net Galley
Why did I read this book now?  I'd read the earlier books in the series and had a chance to get a review copy.

jul. 23, 2015, 9:43pm

Language Arts

The Publisher says: Sometimes the most powerful words are the ones you’re still searching for.

Charles Marlow teaches his high school English students that language will expand their worlds. But linguistic precision cannot help him connect with his autistic son, or with his ex-wife, who abandoned their shared life years before, or even with his college-bound daughter who has just flown the nest. He’s at the end of a road he’s traveled on autopilot for years when a series of events forces him to think back on the lifetime of decisions and indecisions that have brought him to this point. With the help of an ambitious art student, an Italian-speaking nun, and the memory of a boy in a white suit who inscribed his childhood with both solace and sorrow, Charles may finally be able to rewrite the script of his life.

Tutu comments:  This is a beautifully written, multi-layered story, written in both third person (Charles Marlow) and some 1st person (EmmyMarlow).  There are letters, postcards, writing exercises, phone calls--in short, every form of oral communication we have at our disposal.  Except....Charles' son Cory has a very severe form of autism and does not communicate with words.  His signing becomes another language art that must be mastered by all with whom Cory has contact.

The story can be difficult to follow at times, but Kallos has a way of bringing us back to the center before we become lost.   There is such a rich cast of characters who add to the complexity of the story, keeping us alert to how each fits into the deeply textured landscape of the lives of each member of this family.  It is a stunning read: introspective, artistic, lyrical, heart-breaking and definitely one worth reading.

Title: Language Arts
Author: Stephanie Kallos
Publisher:Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2015), 416 pages
Genre: Literary fiction
Subject: Autism, family relations
Source: Review copy e-galley from publisher via Net Galley

jul. 23, 2015, 10:16pm

Two others I've recently read are parts of detective series:

Epitaphs by Bill Pronzini

This is a fun story about a "Nameless Detective" - it was #20 in the series. I actually hit the download button on Overdrive for the audio on this one, thinking I was getting Epitaph:a Novel of the O.K. Coral by Mary Doria Russell. OH WELL.. Nameless was fun. A traditional who-dunnit, well written with a fun cast of old Italian bocce players who reminded me of my grandfather. Nameless is corralled into finding a missing grand-daughter who turns out to be leading a lifestyle her grandfather really doesn't want (or need) to hear about. I did make a note that I wanted to read at least one more in the series. I'm in mind of Rex Stout with this one.

Then I started a new series - this one has been hanging out on my Kindle for over a year.
In the Woods by Tana French

This one is #1 in the Dublin Murder Squard series. I really can't wait to get into the rest of the series. There are two cases interwoven here, and French does an awesome job on keeping them both on track.
After a 12-year-old Irish lad and his two pals fail to return from a day in the woods, searchers find only the terrified sixth grader--with blood-filled shoes and no memory of what happened. Now 32, the tragedy's sole survivor Rob Ryan is a detective on Dublin's Murder Squad. A current investigation takes Rob to the exact site of his childhood trauma. With the present case chillingly similar to his 20-year-old nightmare, Rob hopes to unlock the shrouded secrets of his past.

It's long, there's a lot happening, and I loved every page of it. There is romance, regret, scenery, violence, vigilance, police procedural (and territorial turf battles) and everything melded perfectly. I can certainly see what all the hype was about. I wasn't happy with the ending, but it fit the story and made me want to continue the series.

I've downloaded #2 in audio, and plan to listen to that one while I'm in London next month.

jul. 23, 2015, 10:39pm

At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

The Publisher says:

Madeline Hyde, a young socialite from Philadelphia, reluctantly follows her husband and their best friend to the tiny village of Drumnadrochit in search of the Loch Ness monster—at the same time that a very real monster, Hitler, wages war against the Allied Forces. Despite German warplanes flying overhead and scarce food rations (and even scarcer stockings), what Maddie discovers—about the larger world and about herself—through the unlikely friendships she develops with the villagers, opens her eyes not only to the dark forces that exist around her but to the beauty and surprising possibilities as well.

Tutu comments:  I wasn't sure that I liked this one as it started.  I found the three main characters stereotyped and obnoxious.  However, as the story unfolded and Maddie is forced to face life's realities without the money or social backing she was used to in the US, I found myself rooting for her and hoping that she would survive the wartime experience, and the apprarent and devastating betrayals of husband and friend.

It's a beautiful story, with romantic characters, heart-stopping episodes of violence and loyalty, and the opportunity to absorb some history as well.  I only wish the characters hadn't been typecast as rich, spoiled brat Americans.  That character drawing made it just a bit too hard to accept. It's still a good solid read, but certainly not Pulitzer material.

Title: At the Water's Edge
Author: Sara Gruen
Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (2015), 368 pages
Genre: Literary Fiction
Subject: Loch Ness monster
Setting: Scotland during World War II
Source: Public library
Why did I read this book now?  It was being considered for the Maine Reader's Choice Longlist. (I won't be recommending it)

jul. 23, 2015, 11:20pm

The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler

The Publisher Says:

"Dear Mr. Watson, I came across this book at auction as part of a larger lot I purchased on speculation. The damage renders it useless to me, but a name inside it—Verona Bonn—led me to believe it might be of interest to you or your family...."

Simon Watson, a young librarian on the verge of losing his job, lives alone on the Long Island Sound in his family home—a house, perched on the edge of a bluff, that is slowly crumbling toward the sea. His parents are long dead, his mother having drowned in the water his house overlooks. His younger sister, Enola, works for a traveling carnival reading tarot cards, and seldom calls.
On a day in late June, Simon receives a mysterious package from an antiquarian bookseller.... Why does his grandmother's name, Verona Bonn, appear in this book? Why do so many women in his family drown on July 24? Could there possibly be some kind of curse on his family—and could Enola, who has suddenly turned up at home for the first time in six years, risk the same fate in just a few weeks? In order to save her—and perhaps himself—Simon must try urgently to decode his family history while moving on from the past. 

The Book of Speculation is Erika Swyler's gorgeous and moving debut, a wondrous novel about the power of books and family and magic.

Tutu comments:  First of all - it's about a book.  It's about a librarian, and it's all about the reference and research functions of a library.  What's not to like?  A delightful give and take flight of fancy and fantasy.  Often I dislike books that try to wrap an ancient family history into a present day reality. However, this time Erika Swyler held my interest from the start.  The fascination of the old book, the traveling circus, the tarot readings (a subject I knew little of), together with the present day romance, the looming disaster of the crumbling house, and the just below the waterline mystery of the identity of the antiquarian bookdealer all combined to keep me up late for two nights while I finished this one.

The subject matter: the antique book, the storm damage, the loss of job, fortune telling, ancient circus tales combines with eloquently drawn characters: an out-of-work librarian, a tattoo'd circus strong man, neighbors who may be more than just neighbors, a mute wild man, a human 'mermaid' who can hold her breath underwater for more than 10 minutes.   All of these disparate elements are woven into a colorful, soulful tale of life before and life to come, of unrequited love, lost love, and love recovered.  An engaging first novel.  I will definitely be on the look out for more by this author. 

Title: The Book of Speculation
Author: Erika Swyler
Publisher: St. Martin's Press (2015),e-book, 352 pages
Genre: Literary fiction, fantasy
Subject: Circus performers, mermaids
Setting: Long Island Shoreline
Source: electronic galley from the publisher via Net Galley

jul. 24, 2015, 9:29am

Wow, Tina! So many good books to add to my list. I'm off to see if some of these are available in the library. BTW I started the Barrows book and find it a pleasant enough read so far -- I'm reading it on my ereader at the gym... I love Vowell, but otherwise, I have a lot of books to add to my list.

jul. 24, 2015, 11:58pm

Phew! I think I'm caught up! I'm now settling back to listen to the new Harper Lee, but I'm having a hard time with it....so far, it's rather uneven in tone, writing, and storyline. We'll see.

I'm also reading Black River by for Maine Reader's Choice, and I'm really liking this one. Reminds me a lot of Kent Haruf.

jul. 25, 2015, 10:17am

>25 tututhefirst: I read some reviews of Go set a Watchman and they haven't all been glowing. Numerous said that they could understand how this one got turned down and why the publisher asked for what became To Kill a Mockingbird.

jul. 25, 2015, 10:37am

>26 cyderry: There's an interesting OpEd piece in today's NYTimes espousing the theory that Go Set a Watchman is actually just an early draft of TKAM. It was rejected by publisher and Harper Lee then re-worked to come up with her masterpiece. Interesting scenario, and from my reading so far, I can absolutely see it.
hope this link will get you there: http://nyti.ms/1OCG4eJ

jul. 25, 2015, 9:31pm

>19 tututhefirst: I think I have the first one in that series on a wish list.

jul. 25, 2015, 11:05pm

Go Set a Watchman
It's very hard to rate/review this one.  On the one hand, it's not too well written.  Dialogue is preachy, characters and their time frame go back and forth and are hard to follow, and while there's plenty of racial/family tension, I wasn't quite able to decide whether anything was resolved.

I think all the hype about the book also made it difficult to judge.  I don't think it was meant to be an "enjoyable" read.  I suspect it was definitely meant to be a sociological polemic aimed at the Civil Rights movement of the 60's, and the "interference of the NAACP.   The point of view of the main character "Scout" Finch (of To Kill A Mockingbird fame) doesn't ring true to the Scout we already know and love, Atticus and Uncle Jack are given some decent chances to expound, but other characters are given short-shift.  The whole thing just felt very unfinished, and unworthy of what we know Harper Lee to be capable of.

I'm inclined to believe the suggestions I've seen that this is not a separate novel, but actually the early, very rough and unedited version of what would later (with a lot of good re-writing and editing) turn into the world famous Pulitzer winner.

Title: Go Set a Watchman
Author: Harper Lee
Publisher: Harper Collins 2015
Genre: Fiction
Subject: racism, segregation
Setting: Alabama
Source: Audible download

jul. 26, 2015, 6:21pm

I see you managed to finish Go Set a Watchman.

jul. 27, 2015, 12:29pm

You got me with your review of Language Arts by Stephanie Kallos. I enjoyed the writing in her Sing Them Home, so had to wishlist this one! Thanks to you, I'm also hooked on the Paul Doiron Maine series. Like you, I enjoyed In the Woods, too. I think I'm on my third book in that series. I'm almost done with Being Mortal and wholeheartedly agree with your assessment. I'm urging all my siblings to read it, too.

You must be on the verge of your trip to your daughter in the UK. Hope it becomes a time of joy for you.

jul. 27, 2015, 12:57pm

>31 countrylife: Cindy I watch your reading and we seem to have really similar tastes. Glad you're enjoying the Paul Doiron series. It's becoming one of my most recommended.

The trip to UK is scheduled for 12-27 August. I may tack on a few days on either side to go see my son in Viriginia (the one with the gorgeous new baby) He was seriously injured in a car crash a couple weeks ago. He has been out of work with back injury since then (and he had just gotten into an electrician apprentice program after being unemployed for over a year....SIGH). He is scheduled to see a neuro spinal specialist tomorrow, and we are crossing our fingers that they will be able to start him on the road to recovery. Matt has had bad reactions to several different pain meds they've tried, so for now he's trying to tough it out. This young man has had some really lousy breaks this past year, and we are all pulling for him.

His car was totalled, he's losing wages. He was not at fault (the other driver turned across a double yellow line in front of him) and all witnesses agree Matt did a heroic job of avoiding a direct T-bone into her car and thereby avoided almost certain death to at least one of the 3 kids in her car. The other driver was in a rental car, was from California, and while his insurance company has been absolutely fantastic about handling everything for him, he is also in contact with a personal injury attorney because this is going to be a long-term situation.

So... the UK trip is looming as a welcome positive bright spot in the ongoing saga of poopoo piles in the Tutu family.

jul. 28, 2015, 11:07am

>29 tututhefirst: I ordered it for the library because I'm sure there will be demand, but I haven't yet decided whether or not I'll read it.

jul. 28, 2015, 4:11pm

I don't think I'll read Go Set a Watchman. I have such mixed feelings about it. Everything I've read about Harper Lee indicates she lives in an elderly home and is senile. I know she had such strong feelings about what she felt was unnecessary personal attention after she won the Pulitzer for To Kill a Mockingbird. She is a very private person who vowed never to publish again.

If she is senile, how then can she approve of this book legitimately?

Will and I went to Barnes and Noble last week, grabbed a copy and started reading it. I read about 40 pages and it didn't grab me.

To be fair, To Kill a Mockingbird remains my all time favorite book since I read it way back when I was in 11th grade English class.

jul. 28, 2015, 9:56pm

Black River

 The publisher whets our appetite for the story:

When Wes Carver returns to Black River, he carries two things in the cab of his truck: his wife’s ashes and a letter from the prison parole board. The convict who held him hostage during a riot, twenty years ago, is being considered for release.
Wes has been away from Black River ever since the riot. He grew up in this small Montana town, encircled by mountains, and, like his father before him and most of the men there, he made his living as a Corrections Officer. A talented, natural fiddler, he found solace and joy in his music. But during that riot Bobby Williams changed everything for Wes — undermining his faith and taking away his ability to play.

Tutu says: 
If ever a book were written to bring me out of a reading funk, this one is it. S. M. Hulse, in her debut novel, has given us an anguished and compelling tale of love and regret, condemnation and forgiveness, life and death, acceptance and rejection.  She sets the story in the starkness of Montana mountains, leading several reviewers to declare the book to be a "western".  The theme however, is much more universal.  This story of human tragedy could take place in any small town in any part of the country.

Through an alternating series of flashbacks and current narrations, we follow the life of Wesley Carver, his wife Claire, his step-son Dennis, and assorted friends, co-workers, and relatives.  The story of the prison riot and its impact on his life is the center piece.   The theme of faith, forgiveness, goodness and evil provides the underpinnings.  Watching Wes as he works through his grief over Claire's death, his feelings about the impending parole hearing for the prisoner who held him hostage, his relationship with his estranged step-son, and how he deals with the loss of the musical ability he took such joy in gives the reader a poignant tale of heart-breaking beauty.

The writing is clean, poetic, full of imagery and emotion.  The story is short (only 232 pages,) and well-paced, without an extra word, but with the ability to paint scenes that bring us to tears.  Even the ending is exceptional.

This is the best book I've read this year.  I can't wait to see more by this author.

Title: Black River
Author: S. M. Hulse
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2015), ebook 240 pages 
Genre: Literary fiction
Subject: Grief, redemption, personal relationships
Setting: Montana 
Source: Electronic review copy from the publisher
Why did I read this book now?  It is being considered for the Maine Reader Choices Award.

jul. 29, 2015, 5:27pm

Hi Tina, oh wow, a ton of books to add to the pile. I'm especially eager to read the Sarah Vowell. Being Mortal, and Citizens of London, among others.

jul. 30, 2015, 9:44am

Black River sounds wonderful, Tina. I'm off to see if my library has a copy.

jul. 30, 2015, 2:08pm

Black River sounds great. On the huge tbr pile it goes.

Editat: ag. 1, 2015, 6:54pm

>32 tututhefirst: So sorry to read of your son's accident. Best wishes to him for full recovery!

ag. 5, 2015, 12:06pm

I can't believe it, but I'm caught up on ER reviews and all "required" reading! We're at Matt's house helping him get better from his auto accident - he's doing MUCH better, off the pain meds, into physical therapy, and on hold for a couple weeks to see if he will need cervical injections or if PT will be all that is needed. The biggest issue is whether he will ever be strong enough to return to his job as an industrial electrician where he would routinely be doing heavy work such as carrying equipment weighing up to 75 pounds up a 40 ft ladder. That is something he and his wife and their attorney will have to work out on how best to approach his future.

We are having a good visit tho-- first time in years we've had time to talk with him without other distractions. He leads a very focused simple life up here on the mountain, and we too are relaxing without TV, baseball games, or too much computer time.

ag. 5, 2015, 12:14pm

Today Bob & I are celebrating our 48th Wedding anniversary. We will spend the night at a local hotel near Matt's house here in the Blue Ridge and dine at a fabulous Mexican restaurant we like to hit while we're down here. Bob will leave in the morning to drive back to Maine, and I'll stay on to help Matt get ready for d-i-l Amy and the grandboys return next Monday. I have a week now until London!!!!

Anyway, last night I finished this one, very apropos since Bob & I consider this our very special place.
Newport: A Novel

The publisher calls this "A skillful alchemy of social satire, dark humor, and finely drawn characters".  It certainly fills that bill.

Up front, Newport is one of my favorite cities.  My husband and I met there, and subsequently spent several years living there.  We returned there about a year ago for a short reunion trip after an absence of almost 20 years.  It's still glittering, glamorous, and filled with sights, sounds and smells of the ocean, although now one drives across a huge bridge rather than riding the ferry across to Aquidneck Island as we well remember.

Jill Morrow captures that atmosphere using the clever scheme of alternating views from 1898 and the roaring 1920's.   Her main characters, adults who come together to observe a rather unorthodox wedding/will signing, find themselves immersed in contact with other-worldly characters from the past.

In short, the wedding to be celebrated is one that has been directed by the octogenarian groom-to-be's long-deceased first wife, who appears to the prospective bride's "niece" commanding that this wedding must take place forthwith, and that a new will must be signed immediately, leaving all the groom's sizeable estate to the new bride.  Since this essentially cuts the two adult children of the first marriage out of the inheritance, there is some family tension being generated by the interloping new bride.

To add even more mystery, the groom's attorney, who has journeyed from Boston to draw up the new will, appears to have been previously involved somehow with the potential bride.   There's lots of mystery, several seances, plenty of period fluff scenes of stereotypical rich folks enjoying their inheritances, and spending their considerable wealth on frivolity and ostentatious "summer cottages".

It's a well-drawn period piece.  The setting is spot-on, but the characters are a bit over the top for my taste, and the story is way too melodramatic.  That said, it's been a wonderful summertime read, and one that should be quite popular to readers of romance/historical fiction.

Title: Newport: A Novel
Author: Jill Morrow
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (2015), 384 pages
Genre: Romance, historical fiction
Subject: Seances, family secrets
Setting: Newport Rhode Island
Source: Review copy from the publisher 
Why did I read this book now? I received a copy in connection with the Early Review program on LibraryThing.com and promised a review.

ag. 5, 2015, 9:51pm

>41 tututhefirst: I've always wanted to go to Newport, and I've been fascinated with it ever since reading a novel by Phyllis Whitney, I think, with a Newport setting back when I was in middle school. I really want to go there now that I know I had ancestors who lived on Block Island and often wintered in Newport. One of these days I'll make it there.

ag. 5, 2015, 11:13pm

>40 tututhefirst: glad you are getting special time with Matt

ag. 8, 2015, 4:02pm

Congratulations on your anniversary! Glad to hear Matt is improving, too. Looking forward to news and pictures from London!

ag. 10, 2015, 11:26pm

Our Souls at Night

The world lost an exceptional writer when Kent Haruf died in November 2014.  I think Our Souls at Night, his farewell offering, is by far the most eloquent and bittersweet of all his works. The publisher gives us a detailed description almost as long as the book itself.  I won't quote it, or spoil the story but it begins

In the familiar setting of Holt, Colorado, home to all of Kent Haruf's fiction, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters. Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have long been aware of each other, if not exactly friends; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis's wife. His daughter, Holly, lives hours away in Colorado Springs; her son, Gene, even farther away in Grand Junction. What Addie has come to ask—since she and Louis have been living alone for so long in houses now empty of family, and the nights are so terribly lonely—is whether he might be willing to spend them with her, in her bed, so they can have someone to talk with.

As the story progresses, Haruf's typical laconic prose pulls us into the arms of Addie and Louis as they negotiate their way through long buried feelings and share their past lives and adventures.  The arrival of Addie's grandson, who is almost "dumped" by her son in the midst of his marital problems, brings an added layer of richness to the elders as they reminisce about raising their own children in earlier days.

In such a small town, it is inevitable that Louis' nightly comings and goings are noted and commented on.  However, most residents adopt a "live and let live" attitude toward the unusual couple.  It is only when Addie and Louis' grown children become horrified at their parents' immoral, shocking, and embarrassing behavior, and try to destroy the relationship,  that the true melancholy of the loneliness of old age becomes apparent.

This is a short book, only 192 pages, but it is beautifully nuanced, and poignantly emotional.  The reader wants it to go on for another 100 pages, but Haruf, in his evocative style, is able to bring the story to a well-paced conclusion, even though our hearts break to read it.

Like all the books he wrote that are set in Holt Colorado, this one is destined to be a classic.  Whether you've read any of his earlier books (they can all stand alone) or this is your first, it will not disappoint.

Title: Our Souls at Night
Author: Kent Haruf
Publisher: Knopf (2015), Edition: First, 192 pages
Genre: literary fiction
Subject: aging, loneliness,
Setting: Colorado
Source: Public library
Why did I read this book now?  I love the author's works.

ag. 19, 2015, 10:03am

#75!!! The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny

 With the publication of this 11th book in the Chief Inspector Gamache series, Louise Penny continues to delight her many fans.  Each book builds on the previous ones, but can stand alone.  This newest, to be published next week, introduces new characters - something we see in each volume - and a more developed and nuanced view of evil -both from an historic point of view and as it pertains to today's world situation.

For those who are looking for cafe au lait and brioche by the fire in the bistro, and quirky quips from Gabri and Ruth, they are there, but they are more solemn, more philosophical, and not as lighthearted as some readers may prefer.

No true Gamache fan would dare give away a plot, and it was for this reason that I even refrained from reading the little tidbits that Miss Louise doled out over the last couple months.  I wanted to read the entire book cover to cover so that I could feel the building tension, keep my mind spinning with all the marvelous possibilities Penny builds into her stories, and sit back with a grand sigh of satisfaction when the last page is read.  Once again , she does not disappoint.   The characters are the same (but they continue growing), the setting is the same (Three Pines after all is another character), and there is a murder.  But the plot, the motivations, the murder itself, and the side/subplots are just new and different enough to make the reader, and the true fan say "She's still at the top of her game."   It's magnificent.  Don't miss it.

Many thanks to the publisher for making a review copy available.  I ordered a copy of the audio version from Audible, and can't wait to download it on publication day.  The divine Miss P's books are always good for a re--read and a listen.
Title: The Nature of the Beast 
Author: Louise Penny
Publisher: Minotaur Books (2015), 384 pages
Genre: Mystery - police procedural
Subject: crime solving a current murder and a possible future Armageddon
Setting: fictional village of Three Pines
Series: Chief Inspector Gamage Novels #11
Source: electronic ATC from publisher via Edelweiss
Why did I read this book now?  I couldn't wait any longer.

ag. 19, 2015, 11:13am

>46 tututhefirst: I'm totally envious that you hit your 75 with Louise Penny! I'm glad it's a winner!

Editat: ag. 19, 2015, 3:53pm

Tina - I am envious that you have already read it. I have it on reserve in the library and am at the top of the list. I can't wait. I'm happy to hear the series is still going strong.

Oh, and congratulations on reaching 75 -- and with a good book, too.

ag. 19, 2015, 11:37pm

Too bad you can't save it for me. :-( Maybe the audio?

ag. 20, 2015, 9:02am

Congrats! And I'm glad it was a good one.

ag. 21, 2015, 9:01pm

Congrats on reaching 75, Tina -- and what a great 75!!!

ag. 27, 2015, 3:07pm

Have a great trip Tina!

set. 13, 2015, 11:18pm

Congrats on your anniversary and have a great time on your trip!

set. 14, 2015, 12:18am

Congratulations on hitting the 75 book mark!!

nov. 3, 2015, 7:51pm

Phew....it's been awhile....hope to be able to post about some interesting reads soon, but most is still not appealing to me. For instance, I easily dodged this month's ER list.....there was not a single offering even remotely interesting.

Life is definitely pushing into reading time, and I think my brain may actually benefit from the break. Till later....

nov. 3, 2015, 11:14pm

Well, it's about time I begin to tell you about some of the good reading I've been doing. One of my favorites is the new one from Isabel Allende. I will admit that I've never been a big fan of her works, although various book clubs I've been in seem to think she's an absolute imperative to read. but

The Japanese Lover

really sang to me.

The Publisher says:
In 1939, as Poland falls under the shadow of the Nazis, young Alma Belasco’s parents send her away to live in safety with an aunt and uncle in their opulent mansion in San Francisco. There, as the rest of the world goes to war, she encounters Ichimei Fukuda, the quiet and gentle son of the family’s Japanese gardener. Unnoticed by those around them, a tender love affair begins to blossom. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the two are cruelly pulled apart as Ichimei and his family—like thousands of other Japanese Americans—are declared enemies and forcibly relocated to internment camps run by the United States government. Throughout their lifetimes, Alma and Ichimei reunite again and again, but theirs is a love that they are forever forced to hide from the world.

Decades later, Alma is nearing the end of her long and eventful life. Irina Bazili, a care worker struggling to come to terms with her own troubled past, meets the elderly woman and her grandson, Seth, at San Francisco’s charmingly eccentric Lark House nursing home. As Irina and Seth forge a friendship, they become intrigued by a series of mysterious gifts and letters sent to Alma, eventually learning about Ichimei and this extraordinary secret passion that has endured for nearly seventy years.

My Take:

I was drawn to young Irina and the beautiful relationship she forms with Alma. Each woman has something to offer the other. Allende shows us respect, love, the need for privacy, and the importance of autonomy as Alma ages and Irina matures. It's a lovely gentle although at time disturbing story, with an ending I didn't see coming. I loved the setting, mourned with both as they came to grips with losing loved ones, and found my hopes enlarging as life progressed. Her descriptions of the physical and emotional impacts of the Japanese Americans who were interned during the war was especially well handled. A gorgeous story, strongly recommended.

nov. 4, 2015, 7:42am

Yay! Tutu's back! I was beginning to worry.

I've only read one Isabel Allende, but your review makes me think it's time to pick up her new one.

nov. 4, 2015, 2:16pm

I am an Allende fan, and The Japanese Lover sounds great. And I am lucky enough to have it waiting for me at the library!

nov. 4, 2015, 4:03pm

Cindy and Beth you will both really love this one. It's a fabulous love story, and intergenerational gem, and has a very interesting historical underpinning.

nov. 4, 2015, 10:05pm

>56 tututhefirst: I've read a few books about the Japanese internment experiences and have enjoyed them all.

nov. 28, 2015, 2:45am

I love Allende, but have not read this one...yet!! Thanks for the review and nice to see you again!!

des. 2, 2015, 11:17pm

Well..I'm finally here. Have been updating my reading lists, sorting through a LONGGGGGG list of proposals for the 1st cut of nominees for the 2015 Maine Readers choice Award (Books published in 2015, award rendered in 2016). I'll be doing things in chunky lists here, with a few comments on those I think are really worth a shout.

Starting with books I've abandoned - read at least 60-100 pages, or listened to first 2 hours of audio. Most were review e-galleys offered by Net Galley and several were proposals for MRCA. None made the cut, and they were certainly not worth my time to finish and/or review.

Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave.
A sickly sweet piece of fluff, and although I occasionally like a well-written chick-lit, this wasn't it. Insipid.

Hausfrau by Jill Alexander.
Highly touted. Very dark, very depressing. May have been the time of my life (right after my nephew's suicide and sister-in-law's death) but I just couldn't see anything redemptive.

The Green Road by Anne Enright
I was looking for lilting Irish phrases and lovely Irish poetic scenes. It gave me a large depressing dose of Irish Catholic guilt. Another one I've put aside to read in a happier frame of mind.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal
Another one I really wanted to like. Who wouldn't like a book about food? Just couldn't warm up to the main character and her quest for culinary excellence. It's still sitting on my Kindle to try again later - - maybe.

Green on Blue by Elliot Ackerman
A war story set in Afghanistan. Just couldn't handle another one, no matter how well written it may be. If it makes the short list for MRCA, I may try to read it, but until then, someone else will have to judge its merits.

Munich Airport by Greg Baxter
I actually got almost halfway through this before I realized it was going NOWHERE. The story of a young man and his father who have gone to Munich to retrieve the body of his sister, who died of starvation (suicide?). Dad and son don't have a particularly strong relationship, the son (who lives in London) hasn't seen his sister in 20 years, and everyone gets fogged in at the Munich airport where we are then forced to endure endless pages of narcissistic blathering about this unamed narrator's boring life. Don't waste your time.

Did You ever have a family? by Bill Clegg
YIKES... full of grief and family disaster. Just isn't the right time for me to read something this intense. Description is appealing, but not right now. It's on the read it later shelf.

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
I've read two other books about the life of Beryl Markham and find her boring. I also have never been a fan of Paula McLain - her pseudo bio novels all sound alike. Tried this one, but 50 pages in decided I didn't need to read about Ms Markham's adventures, no matter how great an aviatrix she was.

The Heavenly Italian Ice Cream Shop by Abby Clements
Started out really upbeat and funny - wouldn't you enjoy driving to the hospital in your family's Ice Cream truck in labor when you're in labor? But.............it broke down quickly into a story that just couldn't catch my interest. I even renewed this one from the library to give it more time to perk. The ice cream melted in the meantime.

West of Sunset by Stewart O'nan
I'm not sure what the fascination is with F.Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda. I read two books about her (and therefore him) last year, and just am not ready to handle another. Don't need to deal with anymore "woe is me" stories.

I think several of these would probably have been decent reads, but they just didn't appeal to me at the time I was trying to read them. I'm becoming more and more convinced that reading because I "hafta" is not for me anymore. As you'll see in the next list, I've entered into a phase of life where I want the book in my lap (or my ear) to be one that keeps my brain engaged, and leaves me with a positive feeling about the ending. Doesn't need to be a happily ever after, but it does need to be hopeful.

des. 2, 2015, 11:44pm

One of the ways I was able to kick start my reading whenever I bogged down, was to turn to series that I love and re-read some of them. The Inspector Lynley/Barbara Havers series by Elizabeth George has always been a favorite. I re=read these while I was helping my son recover from his injuries from a terrible auto accident. They also served to get me really rev'd up for my visit to see my daughter's new digs in London in August.

This series is very character dependent. George can become terribly wordy, but the lives and loves of all the characters pull me in and keep me enthralled. They actually were better the second time through.

Careless in Red
This Body of Death
A Banquet of Consequences

Another London based series I really really like is the Gemma James/Duncan Kincaid series by Deborah Crombie. Crombie has even put maps on her website of the various sections of London featured in each story. I fully intend to explore several of these during my next few trips to see Lisa in the next two years. So I re-read

And Justice there is None
Now you May Weep
In A Dark House

Can't wait to read the next ones in line. I just love this series.

Another place we plan to visit in the the coming year is Venice. Bob and I both are fans of Donna Leon's Commissario Brunetti series, so I picked up a couple of these to re-read. They certainly are not as well-written as for example, a Louise Penny, but the setting and the characters offer tons of redeeming value to this reader.
I read these two in the fall, after I returned from England.

Doctored Evidence
Death in a Strange Country

Editat: des. 3, 2015, 12:42am

Continuing in the series mode, I did re-read or continue with several series that I can always depend on to deliver an enjoyable experience.

Come Rain or Come Shine by Jan Karon
The latest Mitford novel. This series, set in North Carolina features one of the most gentle and soothing characters ever written about: Fr. Timothy Kavanaugh. In this one we finally see Dooley and Lace married. Not Pulitzer fiction, but definitely a picker-upper.

The Second Chance by Jodi Taylor (St. mary's Chronicles)
I have the Great Richard Derus to thank for turning me onto this series. While I keep claiming I don't do time travel, listening to the audios of this series as mad historians careen back and forth through history is almost as much fun as a hot fudge sundae. I'm reading the next one now.

The Good Husband of Zebra Drive by Alexander Mccall Smith
The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. The gorgeous audio narration by Lisette Lecat always soothes me. The stories aren't eye-popping, but McCall Smith's luscious descriptions of the country and people of Botswana are worth reading.

Last Ragged Breath by Julia Keller
The Bell Elkins series set in rural West Virginia (is rural West Virginia an oxymoron?) This is the 4th in a tightly plotted crime series featuring a kick=ass DA Bell Elkins and a thoroughly well-developed cast of characters.

Corridors of the Night by Anne Perry
The Newest one of the William and Hester Monk series. I won the audio from the ER program. So I will have to do a full review which I'll post in the book page.

Death of a Kingfisher by M.C. Beaton
The Latest Hamish MacBeth adventure. Poor Hamish is still trying to decide if he wants a woman,, and who that will be. In the meantime, he now has an assistant who is slowly growing on me. M. C. Beaton hasn't lost her touch at all. In fact, I hadn't read any of these in several years, and now will be on the lookout for any in the series I haven't yet sampled.

Scents and Sensibility by Spencer Quinn
I won this one from Early Reviewer as an audio book. I must have really be in a mood to request it, thinking it sounded just silly enough to lift me out of my book funk. Review owed for ER ....posted on book page. Don't hold your breath .....I suspect even dog lovers won't be too fond of this one.

des. 3, 2015, 9:04am

>64 tututhefirst: remember Corridors for me, please!

des. 3, 2015, 9:58am

Cheli. Just remind me as time gets closer. I know you'll really like it.

des. 3, 2015, 12:57pm

And finally as I catch up here are some of the highlights of new books I've read in the past couple months.

Round House by Louise Erdrich

This one was on the MRCA longlist for last year. It was one that I abandoned after about 50 pages. Earlier this summer, our library book club chose this one for a monthly discussion, so I made myself read it. I'm so glad I did. While the topic of rape is always a downer, the story has so much more to offer, and the writing is definitely top drawer. I'm really looking forward to reading more by this National Book Award winner.

Editat: des. 4, 2015, 12:35am

Finally, I'm getting around to substantive comments on books I've been screening for this year's MRCA. I finished all of these, and have recommended they move up to the next level for another look.

Epitaph: A Novelby Mary Doria Russell

The Publisher says:

A deeply divided nation. Vicious politics. A shamelessly partisan media. A president loathed by half the populace. Smuggling and gang warfare along the Mexican border. Armed citizens willing to stand their ground and take law into their own hands. . . .

That was America in 1881.

All those forces came to bear on the afternoon of October 26 when Doc Holliday and the Earp brothers faced off against the Clantons and the McLaurys in Tombstone, Arizona. It should have been a simple misdemeanor arrest. Thirty seconds and thirty bullets later, three officers were wounded and three citizens lay dead in the dirt. Wyatt Earp was the last man standing, the only one unscathed. The lies began before the smoke cleared, but the gunfight at the O.K. Corral would soon become central to American beliefs about the Old West.

Epitaph tells Wyatt’s real story, unearthing the Homeric tragedy buried under 130 years of mythology, misrepresentation, and sheer indifference to fact. Epic and intimate, this novel gives voice to the real men and women whose lives were changed forever by those fatal thirty seconds in Tombstone. At its heart is the woman behind the myth: Josephine Sarah Marcus, who loved Wyatt Earp for forty-nine years and who carefully chipped away at the truth until she had crafted the heroic legend that would become the epitaph her husband deserved. I don't think I ever actually knew what happened at the O.K. Corral. Other than my exposure to the Wyatt Earp series on TV when I was a child, I knew nothing about the Wild West. Russell paints a clear and easy to read picture of this era and area of US history and geography. Each character is so well developed that we feel we are really there along for the ride as rivalries and loyalties wax and wane among the major and minor players.

My impressions
I don't think I ever actually knew what happened at the O.K. Corral. Other than my exposure to the Wyatt Earp series on TV when I was a child, I knew nothing about the Wild West. Russell paints a clear and easy to read picture of this era and area of US history and geography. Each character is so well developed that we feel we are really there along for the ride as rivalries and loyalties wax and wane among the major and minor players.

Not only does the author lead the reader up to the fatal shooting, she takes us past that occasion to follow the characters to the end of their lives. A well-developed and thoroughly enjoyable read, even for those who are fans of westerns. Although touted as a western, this belongs much more to the historical fiction genre and should appeal to a wide range of readers.

des. 3, 2015, 1:36pm

Here's another I thoroughly enjoyed.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

The publisher says
Vianne and Isabelle have always been close despite their differences. Younger, bolder sister Isabelle lives in Paris while Vianne lives a quiet and content life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. When World War II strikes and Antoine is sent off to fight, Vianne and Isabelle's father sends Isabelle to help her older sister cope. As the war progresses, it's not only the sisters' relationship that is tested, but also their strength and their individual senses of right and wrong. With life as they know it changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Vianne and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their actions.

My impressions
I'm not sure what I was expecting but those expectations were far exceeded by the read. Ms. Hannah has given us a well researched book with vivid characters, a page-turning plot, and a lasting impression of the existence of the essential good in human beings. While there is evil a plenty, there is also love, hope, and forgiveness to salve the wounds of betrayal, despair, neglect and all the hardships of war. This one is definitely going to be on my Top Ten list for 2015.

If you enjoyed All the Light We cannot See you will definitely want to read this one. This is definitely Kristin's best in a long line of good novels.

des. 3, 2015, 2:10pm

A Spool of Blue Thread

It was a beautiful, breezy, yellow-and-green afternoon...' This is the way Abby Whitshank always begins the story of how she and Red fell in love that day in July 1959. The whole family on the porch, relaxed, half-listening as their mother tells the same tale they have heard so many times before. And yet this gathering is different. Abby and Red are getting older, and decisions must be made about how best to look after them and their beloved family home. They've all come, even Denny, who can usually be relied on only to please himself. From that porch we spool back through three generations of the Whitshanks, witnessing the events, secrets and unguarded moments that have come to define who and what they are. And while all families like to believe they are special, round that kitchen table over all those years we also see played out our own hopes and fears, rivalries and tensions - the essential nature of family life.

My Impressions:
I've never been a fan of Anne Tyler, even though she writes about my home town Baltimore in almost every book.  This one however, is exquisite.  The characters she develops carefully let us into their psyches as they struggle to come to grips with aging - both their own and their parents.  It is a story so ordinary in its universality, but so special to each person involved.  Anne Tyler may have hit her peak with this one.  I never thought I'd appreciate her writing, but this one truly resonated with me, and I suspect will ring true with many readers today, no matter their age.

Title: A Spool of  Blue Thread
Author: Anne Tyler
Publisher:Knopf (2015), Edition: 1St Edition, 368 pages
Genre: Literary fiction
Subject: Aging and family relationships
Setting: Baltimore
Source: Audio download from public library Overdrive
Why did I read this book now? It's being considered for the Maine Readers' Choice Award and I'm on the selection committee.

des. 3, 2015, 2:26pm

In the Unlikely Event
The Publisher says:

 In 1987, Miri Ammerman returns to her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, to attend a commemoration of the worst year of her life.
   Thirty-five years earlier, when Miri was fifteen, and in love for the first time, a succession of airplanes fell from the sky, leaving a community reeling. Against this backdrop of actual events in the early 1950s, when airline travel was new and exciting and everyone dreamed of going somewhere, Judy Blume imagines and weaves together a haunting story of three generations of families, friends, and strangers, whose lives are profoundly changed by these disasters. She paints a vivid portrait of a particular time and place—Nat King Cole singing “Unforgettable,” Elizabeth Taylor haircuts, young (and not-so-young) love, explosive friendships, A-bomb hysteria, rumors of Communist threat. And a young journalist who makes his name reporting tragedy. Through it all, one generation reminds another that life goes on.
In the Unlikely Event is a gripping novel with all the hallmarks of Judy Blume’s unparalleled storytelling.

My Impressions:

I always associate Judy Blume with YA books, and didn't realize this was geared to a much wider audience.  Based on true facts and events, the story is so attention grabbing, so well told, that the reader does not want to put this one down.  I was up very late two nights in a row finishing this one.  The characters are instantly accepted and believable, and the riveting story takes the reader on a true roller coaster of emotions.  It definitely is a book that would make a great Christmas gift for readers from 13 to 100.  For those of us who grew up in the post-war era of the 50's it's a true treat.

Title: In the Unlikely Event
Author: Judy Blume
Publisher: Knopf (2015), Edition: First Edition, 416 pages
Genre: Historical fiction
Subject: Emotional trauma
Setting: New Jersey
Source: Public library
Why did I read this book now? It's being considered for the Maine Readers' Choice Award and I'm on the selection committee.

des. 3, 2015, 4:07pm

Well, Tina, I just reserved In the Unlikely Event and THe Nightingale from my library. I've read The Round House and A Spool of Blue Thread and love them both. I want to read Doc before Epitaph, maybe next year.

I also enjoy Jodi Taylor, and noted a couple of series from your list that I might want to try, even though I am trying to resist new ones.

des. 3, 2015, 4:51pm

Girl Waits with Gun

The Publisher tells us
Constance Kopp doesn’t quite fit the mold. She towers over most men, has no interest in marriage or domestic affairs, and has been isolated from the world since a family secret sent her and her sisters into hiding fifteen years ago. One day a belligerent and powerful silk factory owner runs down their buggy, and a dispute over damages turns into a war of bricks, bullets, and threats as he unleashes his gang on their family farm. When the sheriff enlists her help in convicting the men, Constance is forced to confront her past and defend her family — and she does it in a way that few women of 1914 would have dared.

 My Impressions:
This is one of the most innovative detective stories I've read in a long time. Portraying strong women as  protagonists in a decidedly non-feminist setting made for some interesting situations.  I kept seeing early silent film reels running through my mind with Al Capone style gangsters, tin lizzies, fainting flappers, and stereotypical "Little House on the Prairie" homemakers.  But......these women were far from stereotypes.  They were strong (and headstrong), competent, organized, innovative and at times able to be quite stubborn in their quest for justice. 

Several reviewers commented that they were able to guess the outcome from the "spoiler" printed on the book's cover.  Since I read this as an e-galley, I didn't pay attention to the cover, and it was only at the end that I realized the story is based on a true but long forgotten adventure. That said, I won't add anything else to spoil the fun.  I will say though that I look forward to more adventures of the Kopp sisters.

Title: Girl Waits with Gun 
Author: Amy Stewart
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2015), Edition: 1st, 416 pages
Genre: Historical fiction
Subject: Women in law enforcement
Setting: New Jersey
Source: Public Library electronic overload
Why did I read this book now? It's being considered for the Maine Readers' Choice Award and I'm on the selection committee.

des. 3, 2015, 5:37pm

This is Your Life, Harriet Chance

The Publisher says:

 With Bernard, her husband of fifty-five years, now in the grave, seventy-eight-year-old Harriet Chance impulsively sets sail on an ill-conceived Alaskan cruise that her late husband had planned. But what she hoped would be a voyage leading to a new lease on life becomes a surprising and revelatory journey into Harriet’s past.  Here, amid the overwhelming buffets and the incessant lounge singers, between the imagined appearances of her late husband and the very real arrival of her estranged daughter midway through the cruise, Harriet is forced to take a long look back, confronting the truth about pivotal events that changed the course of her life. And in the process she discovers that she’s been living the better part of that life under entirely false assumptions.

My impressions:
While the story itself is more than enough to make me want to take a look, it is the format of the book that kept me turning pages.  Evison uses the flashback device very effectively, and has an omniscient narrator telling us (and Harriet) about various events in her life today and in the past.  Harriet's gradual discovery of what she knew and when she knew (or should have known) it is a poignant portrayal of aging, loneliness, denial, and forgiveness.  In learning to forgive others, she comes to forgive and accept herself.   A delightful, thought-provoking read.  

Title:This is Your Life, Harriet Chance 
Author: Jonathan Evison
Publisher: Algonquin Books (2015), 304 pages
Genre: Literary fiction
Subject: Aging, self-discovery
Setting: Alaskan cruise
Source: Net Galley, electronic review copy from the Publisher
Why did I read this book now? It's being considered for the Maine Readers' Choice Award and I'm on the selection committee.

Editat: des. 3, 2015, 9:54pm

>68 tututhefirst: Can I get this from you? Fortunately, I already have Nightingale and the others are at the library.

des. 7, 2015, 2:09am

Wow--LOTS of great books here. Good thing you are on the selection committee.

des. 7, 2015, 4:57pm

So many great books here, Tina that I barely know which to list first. A few I've read but many, many more that I'm hoping to get to, soon.

How's the Army/Navy matchup going to turn out this year?

des. 7, 2015, 10:48pm

>77 lindapanzo: Linda . need you ask ? Of Course Navy is going to beat ARMY.

des. 7, 2015, 11:40pm

Next abandoned book:
Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff

I know everybody says ths is a great book, and I wanted to get to the good parts, which everyone says is the 2nd half, but after slogging for 3 days on the 1st 45 pages, in both audio and print, I gave up. Way too much sex, and too little anything else. I'm not up for that at this point in my reading life. Narcissitic poop.

Editat: des. 8, 2015, 12:12am

#97 Saving the Queen

Several years ago we inherited several books in this series, and have had them on the teetering TBR Pile ever since. I finally determined I'd at least read the 1st one and see if it was worth keeping the rest.  I finished it in time to count it for 2015.  A great way to end the year.

The Publisher notes:

  America's top financial secret agent Blackford Oakes performed his first heroic effort in SAVING THE QUEEN in which William F. Buckley Jr. coaxes readers back to the earliest days of the Cold War. The year is 1951. Harry Truman is president, and the beautiful, young Queen Caroline has just settled onto the throne of England. The CIA is baffled at the shocking things going on in London. Vital Western military secrets are falling into Soviet hands and, worst of all, the leak has been traced directly to the queen's chambers. A recent Yale graduate and ex-combat pilot, the debonair Oakes is selected to penetrate the royal circle, win the queen's confidence, and plug the leak. It all leads to an explosive showdown in the skies over London, one that could determine the future of the West.

 My impressions
 I'm hooked.   Blackford Oakes is a spoiled, wealthy, handsome, very bright Yale graduate with a chip on his shoulder. Recruited by the CIA at the height of the Cold war, his adventures saving the fictional British Queen Caroline from making a fool of herself is rather James Bondish, but high class nonetheless. Tightly plotted, it introduces a cast of characters I'm sure we're going to meet in the books ahead, and each of them is someone I look forward to seeing again.
Although they are dated, reading them as historical fiction is still enjoyable.

Title: Saving the Queen
Author: William F. Buckley, Jr.
Publisher: Cumberland House Publishing (2005), Paperback, 275 pages
Genre: Thriller
Subject: CIA and Cold war
Setting: London
Series: Blackford Oakes Novels #1
Source: inherited from relative
Why did I read this book now?  It's been sitting on the shelf too long.

des. 8, 2015, 4:12am

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des. 8, 2015, 8:33am

Warning to others: Enter at your own risk! Book bullets abound!

Tina, ya got me! I've got several of yours BBs on hold at my library, and more on my for-later shelf. Especially looking forward to This is Your Life, Harriet Chance.

Editat: des. 11, 2015, 5:21pm

I really want to read In the Unlikely Event. Great review!

des. 23, 2015, 5:38pm

For my Christmas/Hanukkah/Solstice/Holiday image this year (we are so diverse!), I've chosen this photograph by local photographer Mark Lenoce of the pier at Pacific Beach to express my holiday wishes to you: Peace on Earth and Good Will toward All!

des. 26, 2015, 3:43pm

des. 27, 2015, 5:17pm

Thank you...can't wait for quiet time to read them all.

Editat: des. 27, 2015, 5:46pm

>62 tututhefirst: oh, I very much like the Mitford series. I need to read this latest books.

How is Maine this time of year. Do you have snow?