Laytonwoman Drags her Assets into the Third Quarter of 2020

Això és la continuació del tema Laytonwoman Stumbles into the Second Quarter of 2020.

Converses75 Books Challenge for 2020

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Laytonwoman Drags her Assets into the Third Quarter of 2020

Editat: des. 29, 2020, 4:31 pm

Hi! I'm Linda, a retired paralegal living in Northeastern Pennsylvania with my husband flamingrabbit (a retired broadcast engineer), and our sweet kitty, Molly O'Del, whom we rescued from The Barn several years ago. Our daughter, lycomayflower, hangs around this group as well.

Since retiring (involuntarily) at the end of 2015, I've been lucky to become more and more involved with the Scranton Public Library, beginning with an invitation to sit on its Board of Trustees beginning in June of 2016. In this challenging year of COVID, I'm "blessed" to be serving as President of the Board, learning to conduct a fairly orderly meeting over ZOOM.

LT has been an essential part of my life since I joined in 2005. I simply can't imagine life without it anymore. I never knew how much I needed a reading community, until I found one. I've been tracking my reading in the 75 Book Challenge Group for most of the last 14 years. If you'd like to explore my reading backwards from here, there are links on my profile page to my earlier threads. My goal is always to read more of the books I already own, and to acquire fewer books than I remove from the house. In past years this has been a big joke. This year, with no library book sales, and no browsing in brick-and-mortar stores, I have kept my total new acquisitions down. I won't blame myself for those I've inherited with my mother's recent passing, marked in the lists down-thread with a little ♥ (Believe me, I could have brought home MANY more, but I thought other family members might like a few.)

I will use tickers to keep track of my total books read, the number of those that I've had on my own shelves for at least a year at the time I read them, and the number of books I actually move OUT of the house in 2020. I met my reading goal in 2019, but failed miserably with the others.




ETA 12-26-20 Don't know what's happened to the ROOT and CULL tickers...they've just stopped showing up.
ETA: 12-27-20 Tickerfactory says they delete tickers that haven't been updated in the last 90 days, for privacy reasons. *shrug* I'm sure that was not always true, because I remember going back through threads from previous years, and seeing the tickers. In any case, I suppose that's what happened here, because I have been lax with my updating.

Editat: des. 31, 2021, 11:11 am

This will be for my list of books read in the second half of 2020. (The next post has the list of what I read from January through June. You can visit my threads from previous years, if you like, by navigating from links posted on my profile page.)

I use some shorthand to help me keep track of my reading trends: ROOT identifies a book that I have owned for at least a year at the time I read it. CULL means I put the book in my donation box for the library book sale after finishing it, or otherwise gave it away. DNF means I didn't finish the book, for one reason or another, usually explained in the related post. ER means I received the book from LT's Early Reviewer program. GN refers to a graphic novel, GM a graphic memoir (don't expect to see a lot of those!) An *asterisk indicates a library book; LOA means I read a Library of America edition; SF means the book was a Slightly Foxed edition, (NOT science fiction, which I so rarely read); FOLIO, of course, indicates a Folio Society edition. AUDIO and e-Book are self-explanatory, and probably won't appear very often. AAC refers to the American Author Challenge. NF indicates a non-fiction read.

Clicking on titles in this post will take you to the message in which I reviewed or commented on that book.


84. Letters from Fairyland by Charles van Sandwyk
83. Recollections of Auton House by Augustus Hoppin ROOT
82. Mr. Rabbit's Symphony of Nature and Other Tails by Charles van Sandwyk FOLIO
81.Dance Hall of the Dead by Tony Hillerman AAC
79. and 80. A Burning by Megha Majumdar and Laura by Vera Caspary
78. The Blessing Way by Tony Hillerman AAC
77. Understanding Cemetery Symbols by Tui Snider NF
76. Blood Moon by Garry Disher
75. LillyBelle: A Damsel Not in Distress by Joana PastroCULL


DNF House of Earth by Woody GuthrieROOT
74. The Street by Ann Petry AAC, LOA
73. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson ROOT
72. Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake, Ill. by Jon Klassen
71. Home by Marilynne Robinson ROOT
70. First Degree by David RosenfeltCULL
69. The Drugstore Cat by Ann Petry AAC
*68. Silent Voices by Ann Cleeves
67. Jack by Marilynne Robinson


66. The Eastern Shore by Ward Just AAC
*65. Hidden Depths by Ann Cleeves
*64. The Crow Trap by Ann Cleeves
63. Nora Webster by Colm Toibin ROOT


62. The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark ROOT
61. The Wicked Pavilion by Dawn Powell LOA, ROOT, AAC
60. The Unquiet Grave by Sharyn McCrumb ROOT, CULL
59. A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas CULL, NF
58. Killing the Goose by Frances and Richard Lockridge, ROOT
57. The Orchardist by Amanda Copley ROOT, CULL


55. and 56. Snapshot, and Chain of Evidence by Garry Disher CULL
54. A World Lost by Wendell Berry AAC, LOA, ROOT
53. Andy Catlett: Early Travels by Wendell Berry AAC, LOA, ROOT
DNF The Lobster Kings by Alexi Zentner ROOT, CULL
52. Penance by Edward Daniel Hunt ER, CULL
51. The Chimney Sweeper's Boy by Barbara Vine


50. A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis NF
49. The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes by Leonard Goldberg
48. Nathan Coulter by Wendell Berry AAC, LOA, ROOT
47. Camino Winds by John Grisham
46. The Gastronomical Me by M. F. K. Fisher FOLIO, NF

Editat: des. 29, 2020, 8:06 pm

These are the books I read in the first half of 2020. The links will take you to my comments on each one in previous threads.


45. Hell is Empty by Craig Johnson CULL
44. The Catherine Wheel by Jean Stafford AAC, LOA
43. Three Shot Burst by Phillip DePoy
42. Death at Victoria Dock by Kerry Greenwood
41. Mazel and Shlimazel by Isaac Bashevis Singer


40. Two Lives by Vikram Seth ROOT, CULL, NF
39. The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton ROOT
38. The Scotland Yard Puzzle Book by Sinclair McKay NF, CULL
37. Hid From Our Eyes by Julia Spencer-Fleming
36. Something Wicked by E. X. Ferrars ROOT, CULL
DNF The Secret Mitzvah of Lucio Burke by Steven Hayward CULL
35. If This World Were Mine by E. Lynn Harris AAC, CULL


34. Killing Floor by Lee Child ROOT, CULL
33. Prayers the Devil Answers by Sharyn McCrumb ROOT, CULL
32. Junkyard Dogs by Craig Johnson CULL
31. Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor ROOT, CULL
30. The Lives of the Muses by Francine Prose AAC, CULL, NF
29. Cold Florida by Phillip DePoy
28. The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough ROOT, AAC, NF
27. Winter in Thrush Green by Miss Read ROOT
26. The Demons' Mistake by Francine Prose, Ill. by Mark Podwal AAC, CULL
25. Dark Corners by Ruth Rendell CULL


24. My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell ROOT, SF, NF
23. The Women of the Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell CULL
22. Take Out by Margaret Maron ROOT, CULL
21. Frog in the Throat by E. X. Ferrars ROOT, CULL
20. Shoo-Fly Girl by Lois Lenski
19. Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel ROOT, Re-read
18. The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson ROOT, CULL
*17. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel AUDIO
16. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell ROOT, CULL


15. Lightning Men by Thomas Mullen ROOT, CULL
DNF King's Mountain by Sharyn McCrumb ROOT, CULL
14. The Fleet Street Murders by Charles Finch ROOT, CULL
13. Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail by Louise Shivers
DNF The Braid by Laetitia Colombani; and Albert of Adelaide by Howard L. Anderson CULL x 2
*12. The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom NF
11. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale ROOT, CULL
*10. Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson


9. The Accused by John Grisham ROOT, CULL
8. Fugitive Colors by Margaret Maron ROOT, CULL
*7. Q is for Quarry by Sue Grafton
6. A Sight for Sore Eyes by Ruth Rendell
*5. The Dark Horse by Craig Johnson CULL
4. The Town by William Faulkner ROOT
3. The Song of Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
2. The Trumpet of the Swan by E. B. White ROOT
1. Nightwoods by Charles Frazier AAC

Editat: des. 26, 2020, 6:17 pm

And here I'll say goodbye to books I no longer need or want to keep in my possession. It's always a struggle between incoming and outgoing....there's only so much space and time...

I moved 85 books out in the first quarter. The list, if you care, can be found on my first thread here.

I'll pick up with April going forward:


86. Collected Poems by Czeslaw Milosz
87. The Demons' Mistake by Francine Prose and Mark Podwal
88. The Lives of the Muses by Francine Prose
89. True Crime LOA anthology
90. Summons to Memphis by Peter Taylor
91. Prayers the Devil Answers by Sharyn McCrumb
92. Killing Floor by Lee Child


94. If This World Were Mine by E. Lynn Harris
95. The Secret Mitzvah of Lucio Burke by Steven Hayward
96. Something Wicked by E. X. Ferrars
97. The Scotland Yard Puzzle Book
98. Two Lives by Vikram Seth


I guess none


99. Letters to the Editor by Stropnicky et al.


100. Penance by Edward Daniel Hunt
101. The Lobster Kings by Alexi Zentner
102. Junkyard Dogs by Craig Johnson
103. Hell is Empty by Craig Johnson
104. The Cool Cottontail by John Ball
105. Long Upon the Land by Margaret Maron
106. Take Out by Margaret Maron
107. Ghost Riders by Sharyn McCrumb
108. The Songcatcher by Sharyn McCrumb
109. The Long Fall by Walter Mosley
110. The Comforts of Home by Susan Hill
111. The Brethren by John Grisham


112. The Orchardist by Amanda Copley
113. The Unquiet Grave by Sharyn McCrumb
114. Hid From Our Eyes by Julia Spencer Fleming
115. The House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons
116. Noonday by Pat Barker
117. Snapshot by Garry Disher
118. Chain of Evidence by Garry Disher
119. The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter by Sharyn McCrumb
120. If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-o by Sharyn McCrumb

October, November, December

121. A Burning by Megha Majumdar
122. LillyBelle: A Damsel Not in Distress by Joana Pastro (GIFT to our Lily)
123. Blood Moon by Garry Disher

Editat: gen. 1, 2021, 12:59 pm

This one will be where I keep a list of new acquisitions. I'm doing a half-decent job of keeping these numbers down so far in 2020. The bulge in June is a result of inheriting books when my Mom passed away; I brought home only a fraction of what there was.


1. Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail by Louise Shivers
2. A Whistling Woman by Louise Shivers
3. Laura by Vera Caspary
4. The Braid by Laetitia Colombani
5. Clean as a Weasel by Walt Kelly


6. The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
7. Shoo Fly Girl by Lois Lenski
8. The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich


9. Three Shot Burst by Phillip Depoy
10. Cold Florida by Phillip Depoy
11. The Demons' Mistake by Francine Prose and Mark Podwal
12. The Lives of the Muses by Francine Prose
13. Junkyard Dogs by Craig Johnson
14. As the Crow Flies by Craig Johnson


15. Camino Winds by John Grisham
16. Hid From Our Eyes by Julia Spencer Fleming
17. The Scotland Yard Puzzle Book Sinclair McKay
18. Mazel and Shlimazel by Isaac Bashevis Singer


19. The Western Four Classic Novels from Library of America
20. Collected Stories of Jean Stafford
21. Little Green by Walter Mosley
22. Rose Gold by Walter Mosley
23. My Song by Harry Belafonte
24. Clementine by Sonia Purnell ♥
25. Blonde Faith by Walter Mosley
26. Myths to Live By by Joseph Campbell ♥
27. Farm Journal Cookbook
28. My Grandfather and Father, Dear Father by Dennis Constanduros
29. The Empress of Ireland by Christopher Robbins
30. Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi
31. The History of Chehocton Schools By Lucile Howell et al ♥
32. The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels ♥
33. Recovering Judaism by Jacob Neusner ♥
34. History of Wayne County in 100 Objects
35. Poems by Stella Stalker ♥
36. Footprints of the Past
37. Following Footsteps of Our Early Settlers
38. Damascus Manor by EHS ♥
39. Why Courage Matters by John McCain et al. ♥
40. Afternoon Tea Serenade by Sharon O'Connor ♥
41. When French Women Cook by Madeleine Kamman ♥
42. In the Dark Streets Shineth by David McCullough ♥
43. Elizabeth the Queen by Sally Bedell Smith ♥
44. A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis ♥
45. The Rezeaus by Kathryn Taylor ♥

♥ books from my Mom's collection


46. Penance by Edward Daniel Hunt
47. You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
48. Lot by Bryan Washington


49. Caste; The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson
50. Who Speaks for the Negro by Robert Penn Warren
51. Inland by Tea Obreht
52. The Eastern Shore by Ward Just
53. There Were No Windows by Norah Hoult
54. The Oysters of Locmariaquer by Eleanor Clark


55. Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger by Lisa Donovan
56. I Am One of You Forever by Fred Chappell
57. Blood Moon by Garry Disher
58. The Saddest Words by Michael Gorra
59. Ernest Hemingway: The Sun Also Rises and Other Writings LOA volume
60. Jack by Marilynne Robinson


61. African American Poetry 250 Years of Struggle and Song LOA volume
62. Christmas: A Biography by Judith Flanders


63. Fludd by Hilary Mantel
64. A Burning by Megha Majumdar
65. Drugstore Cat by Ann Petry
66. Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake
67. A Moment of Silence by Ann Dean


68. Whispering Death by Garry Disher
69. Mr. Rabbit's Symphony of Nature by Charles van Sandwyk
70. The Cooking Gene by Michael W. Twitty
71. The Searcher by Tana French
72. Letters From Fairyland by Charles van Sandwyk
73. In the Hurricane's Eye by Nathaniel Philbrick
74. A Stranger in the Kingdom by Frank Mosher
75. Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard
76. The People and the Books by Adam Kirsch
77. The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
78. The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
79. Listening Woman by Tony Hillerman
80. The Riddle of the Sands by Erskine Childers
81. Great Camps of the Adirondacks by Harvey Kaiser
82. Separate From the World by P. L. Gaus ♥ (should have been posted in June)

Editat: des. 26, 2020, 3:54 pm

This one will be for keeping track of my progress through the American Authors Challenge in 2020. I doubt that I will participate in any other challenges this year, because I've found that hosting one counts as completing at least three!

Here is the list of authors we will be reading in 2020. I will log my completed reads in each month here, as well as in my ongoing reading threads. I will also try to remember to post links to each monthly thread as they go up.

Charles Frazier

The thread for Frazier can be found here
Finished Nightwoods

Grace Paley

here's the link to February's Grace Paley thread.
Read several selections from her Collected Stories

David McCullough

The March thread for McCullough is here
Finished The Johnstown Flood

Francine Prose

The April AAC thread for FRANCINE PROSE is up and ready.
Finished The Lives of the Muses
Finished The Demons' Mistake

E. Lynn Harris

Here is the May thread for Harris
Finished If This World Were Mine

Jean Stafford

The June thread for Jean Stafford
Finished The Catherine Wheel

Wendell Berry

Here is Wendell Berry's thread.
Finished Nathan Coulter, Andy Catlett: Early Travels, A World Lost and several short stories.

August Robert Penn Warren
Here is the Warren thread.
Currently reading Who Speaks for the Negro?

September Dawn Powell
The September Thread for the American Authors Challenge, featuring Dawn Powell, is here.
Finished The Wicked Pavilion

October Ward Just
Here is the Ward Just thread.

Finished Eastern Shore

November Ann Petry
The thread for Ann Petry
Finished The Drugstore Cat and The Street

December Tony Hillerman
The Tony Hillerman thread is here.
Finished The Blessing Way and Dance Hall of the Dead.

WILD CARD Genre fiction---with an emphasis on sci-fi/fantasy
Here's a link to a thread for talking about those reads.

Next one's for you!

jul. 22, 2020, 12:29 pm

Happy new thread, Linda. I like your kick-asset thread title. 😀

jul. 22, 2020, 1:02 pm

Happy new thread, Linda!

jul. 22, 2020, 2:37 pm

Hey there, Linda3rd! Like your thread title.

jul. 22, 2020, 2:46 pm

>7 lauralkeet:, >8 katiekrug:, >9 richardderus: Thank you, thank you, thank you. The title seemed necessary and appropriate, since it's taken me 3 weeks to get finished with June.

jul. 22, 2020, 3:54 pm

Hi Linda my dear, Happy New Thread dear friend.

jul. 22, 2020, 4:11 pm

>11 johnsimpson: Thank you, John. Welcome.

jul. 22, 2020, 4:18 pm

Happy new one, Linda. Love that pink leaf in your topper.

jul. 22, 2020, 4:35 pm

49. The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes by Leonard Goldberg Mmmmhmmm....I should have stuck with Wendell Berry.

As the title proclaims, one of the main characters is a woman who is the result of a cocaine-fueled one-night stand between Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler, both now long dead. (Do YOU buy that? Yeah, me neither.) She has inherited brains and beauty from her esteemed parents (her mother having placed her for adoption before birth with Dr. Watson's assistance). She has Sherlock's uncanny capacity for deduction, but as presented in this story, it's not so much that she is brilliant, as that everyone around her (the original Dr. Watson, his son John, and several other descendants of the original set of characters) is remarkably dim. Every observation she makes is laid out in obvious fashion for the reader, who easily gets there well before she has to explain it to her colleagues; there is endless astonishment at her skills from everyone except the current Inspector Lestrade, who seems a bit sharper than the rest of the tacks in the box. She leads the Watsons, Lestrade, and a terrier named Toby Two (oh, yes, even the dog is descended from one created by Conan Doyle) around by the nose, as it were, until two murders and one attempt have been solved and/or foiled. The writing is uneven, the dialog wretched; it seemed the author couldn't quite decide what decade...or century...his characters ought to settle in. There's a bit of fatuous romance thrown in as well. If this was meant as an homage to Conan Doyle, the good doctor should feel insulted. If you've read any of the original work, you will want to steer well clear of this ....not to put to fine a point upon There are so many better attempts to carry on that legacy.

jul. 22, 2020, 4:40 pm

Happy new thread!

jul. 22, 2020, 4:41 pm

>14 laytonwoman3rd: Good heavens. *gently takes the book away from you and deposits it in the donation bin*

jul. 22, 2020, 5:00 pm

>15 drneutron: Thanks, Jim.

>16 lycomayflower: Should we let your grandmother have a go first?

jul. 22, 2020, 5:04 pm

Happy new one, Linda.

What RD said!

jul. 22, 2020, 5:16 pm

>13 jessibud2: Oh, Shelley..missed you while I was typing that review. I think I need to dust that leaf...the picture is a lot cleaner than the actual object just now!

>18 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul...good to see you stopping by.

jul. 22, 2020, 5:49 pm

Happy new thread!

jul. 22, 2020, 6:18 pm

>14 laytonwoman3rd: I think >16 lycomayflower: is being practical and thoughtful...donate it to a group you *loathe* and spare Mamaw the agonies.

jul. 22, 2020, 7:31 pm

Happy new thread, Linda! Your new title gave me a chuckle.

>14 laytonwoman3rd: Well, tell us how you really feel :) I'll happily take a miss on that one. I think >16 lycomayflower: has the right idea.

jul. 22, 2020, 8:32 pm

>20 figsfromthistle: Hi, figs!

>21 richardderus: Oh, maybe you're right. She's also sometimes a nicer person than I am...

>22 bell7: Glad I could give you a little laugh, and spare you from a dud, Mary!

jul. 23, 2020, 6:40 am

Sweet Thursday, Linda! Happy New Thread. I hope all is well. I have been falling behind on your thread, but I plan to do better. I hope those books are treating you fine.

jul. 23, 2020, 7:21 am

>14 laytonwoman3rd: Oh, ew. Just, ew. And also, How Dare.

jul. 23, 2020, 9:04 am

>24 msf59: Welcome, Mark. Falling behind is a very familiar condition...I suffer from it as well.

>25 scaifea: I knew you'd understand, Amber. *hug*

jul. 23, 2020, 1:37 pm

Happy new thread, Linda. Nice of you to host the American authors challenge. I look in on it but have never been able to commit.

jul. 23, 2020, 3:18 pm

>27 BLBera: Thanks, Beth. Please feel free to drop in and comment on the AAC any time. We don't have rules and reg's over there!

jul. 23, 2020, 4:07 pm

>28 laytonwoman3rd: I can attest to the lack of rules & regs. I have never taken on the challenge as a whole (i.e., reading every author), but I read authors who catch my eye. And Linda has never once hassled me. Not about that, anyway. 😀

jul. 24, 2020, 9:56 am

Happy new thread!

jul. 24, 2020, 1:12 pm

I'm sorry to hear your mom passed on Linda. I have not been paying attention of late. I wish I had thought of doing what you did to mark your mom's books when I inherited select books from my dad's library of books a couple years ago. I suppose I can go back and do it retroactively without too much trouble. My dad had a large library but I ended up not taking very many since I have way too many already. a few treasures such as his childhood copy of Bambi I just had to keep.

jul. 24, 2020, 5:26 pm

>30 foggidawn: Welcome, Foggi!

>31 RBeffa: Thank you, Ron. I really hadn't mentioned my Mom's passing or her recent failing health here, I don't think. She had good innings, as they say, until the last few years when the Big A began robbing her of short term memory and judgment. Thankfully she did not spend very long in the worst stages, and never lost track of who she was. Most of the "treasures" in my Mom's collection had been distributed long ago, but she had some good local history (she was very involved in two historical societies over the last few decades) and a few more recent acquisitions that I was glad to glom onto. One end of her dining room table is now covered with other books that I hope someone else in the family will want.

jul. 25, 2020, 4:56 pm

Hi Linda my dear, sorry to hear of the passing of your mom, thoughts and prayers to you and your family and we send love and hugs dear friend.

jul. 25, 2020, 5:20 pm

Adding my condolences on your Mom's passing, Linda. I'm glad the Big A wasn't as bad as it might have been, and that she never lost track of who she was. I had an uncle who did lose track, and it was hard on my mother (his sister), his wife, and the rest of the family.

You say up top something like, you never knew you needed a reading community until you found LT. Ditto. It's such a pleasure to be part of a community where everyone loves books as much as I do.

jul. 26, 2020, 10:48 am

>1 laytonwoman3rd: so sorry to hear about your mother. I lost mine over 25 years ago. The loss gets "better" over time.

One of my mother's books that I saved is Those Who Love. It took me about 20 years to read it. I'm glad I kept it.

jul. 26, 2020, 10:59 am

S'ha suprimit aquest usuari en ser considerat brossa.

jul. 27, 2020, 1:35 am

Happy new thread, Linda. Sorry to hear about your mother. As much as we know this will happen it is always a shock when it does.

jul. 28, 2020, 7:24 am

Please accept my sympathy on the loss of your mother, Linda. It’s never easy. But I’m very glad you have some of her books.

jul. 31, 2020, 12:33 pm

John, Joe, Fuzzi, Meg, Gail, your condolences are much appreciated. I feel like I started losing my Mom several years ago, when dementia first began sneaking into her life, and the cruelest part of it was that she could see it happening (although the worse it got, the less she understood how much it was affecting her judgment and acuity). She was a smart, resourceful and practical person, a successful businesswoman in two separate careers, and a darned good mother, if difficult at times. Now that I no longer have to deal with the urgent realities of keeping her safe and solvent, I have time to reflect and to celebrate the woman she was, as well as to grieve her passing. I'll just put a link to her obit here, in case anyone would like to make her acquaintance.

jul. 31, 2020, 3:24 pm

>39 laytonwoman3rd: A force of nature, indeed, and while it's never easy to be the offspring of a force of nature, it's amazing training for life's efforts.

jul. 31, 2020, 3:52 pm

Thanks for allowing me to become acquainted with your late mother. What a remarkable lady.

jul. 31, 2020, 6:49 pm

>40 richardderus: Her expectations were high, but so was her praise when they were met. I still find myself eyeing my housekeeping efforts as if she might be dropping by later...

>41 weird_O: Thank you, Bill. She was. And the person she most admired was her own mother, the original "Layton woman", who raised 6 children between the ages of 3 and 14 alone after their father died in 1940.

jul. 31, 2020, 7:16 pm

And now for something completely different....

The August thread for the AAC is up, and it features the author of one of my all-time favorite novels, All the King's Men.

ag. 4, 2020, 9:24 pm

50. A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis Lewis shares his pain and puzzlement over the death of his wife, questioning his faith and wondering how to move on without losing the memory, as well as the reality of the woman he calls "H". The questions are universal, of course; the pondering and examining are marvelously articulated. The man had a way with a turn of phrase. The answers...well, there aren't any, really. He and I agree on that, but not on the reason why.

ag. 4, 2020, 9:30 pm

>44 laytonwoman3rd: I've never seen a sensible religious apologia for the Problem of Pain. The reason is, I believe, that there isn't a reason to try because there ain't no gawd...but I get yelled at/sorrowed over/stiffly rebuked when I say that out loud.

So cue the miff in 3...2...1...

Editat: ag. 5, 2020, 6:09 pm

51. The Chimney Sweeper's Boy by Barbara Vine Gerald Candless is a popular novelist, with a "perfect" life----lovely wife, two beautiful adoring adult daughters. But there's some darkness in all of his books, and he insists that he uses everything that happens to him in his fiction in some way. When he dies suddenly, one of his daughters begins researching his family history in preparation for writing her own memoir of Life with Daddy. Except that there doesn't seem to be any history past a certain point, or any family at all. Where did he come from, and why did he change his name? Mother is no help, and has zero interest in the project.(Could it be she's just relieved to be able to drop the Happy Marriage charade?) This is a page turner, with just enough hints to fuel the reader's suspicions about the solution to the mystery. Gerald's daughters don't know what to do with the information that turns up; neither does his publisher, who ends up with two manuscripts in his hands that could explode Gerald's reputation, one from his daughter, and one from the man himself.

ag. 6, 2020, 7:04 pm

>45 richardderus: I believe in God, and won't rebuke you for not.

Sometimes there just aren't easily understood "reasons" for what we experience in life. And it's okay to just say "I don't know".

ag. 6, 2020, 8:26 pm

>45 richardderus:, >47 fuzzi: I think we expect to be able to find the answers, the "why" of everything, and to want to believe that if we don't know, at least Someone does, and one day we'll understand. I just can't subscribe to that belief myself.

ag. 6, 2020, 11:48 pm

>39 laytonwoman3rd: They don't make 'em like that anymore. A fine memorial to your mom.

ag. 7, 2020, 11:27 am

>49 RBeffa: Thank you, Ron.

Editat: ag. 7, 2020, 3:58 pm

52. Penance by Edward Daniel Hunt An ER selection. Which means I have to review it. Which won't be pretty. You've been warned. There will also be "spoilers", but since I am actively discouraging you from reading the book, I'm not going to worry about putting them under a cut.

Penance features a decorated Boston cop, now retired and trying to keep busy with some private eye work, whose unwieldy surname is Gilfillan. I mention the unwieldiness of it only because the author does, making the point that most people call his character "Gil". Then, throughout the ponderous course of the narrative, no one ever shortens his name, or mangles it, or even makes fun of it. (This is just one of many examples of how poorly this novel is written, and how ineffectively--if at all--it was edited. More on that later.)

Our man Gil is hired by the daughter of a doctor who was murdered over a decade ago, to see what he can do about solving the cold case. There's a scrap of new evidence, and a potential eyewitness, Lori Doyle, seems to have vanished. The reader knows from the first chapter who did the killing, and shortly thereafter learns where that witness is now---living under a new name, trying to escape her past and protect her young daughter (whose father, of course, was the killer). So Gil sets out to find the young woman. Meanwhile, the murderer, who has been jailed for something entirely different, is released from prison, and HE wants to find his former wife too. A potentially interesting and suspenseful set-up. Unfortunately, there's not much action, except some sleazy sex stuff in strip clubs and "massage" parlors and some gratuitous violence (the kind that's not even necessary in the context of the story, you know), mostly against women. The author weighs the narrative down with full back stories on every. single. minor character, when he should have put a bit more effort into making his protagonist more compelling, or to keeping the threads of the story untangled.

Here's what the dictionary says "penance" means:

1. voluntary self-punishment inflicted as an outward expression of repentance for having done wrong.
2. a Christian sacrament in which a member of the Church confesses sins to a priest and is given absolution."

Yeah, none of that applies to anything that happens in Hunt's novel. Despite its being billed as the first in a new detective series, another thing that doesn't happen is any detecting. Gil talks to a lot of people, but he learns next-to-nothing. In fact, the job he was hired for? He never finishes it. It becomes moot, but he doesn't know that, and the story just quits when the missing woman's father shoots the murderer. (Oh, did I mention that her father was also trying to find her?) As noted, we always know who killed the doctor. Gil never finds out, and he never reports back to his client, either. There's a totally unrealistic "and she will live happily ever after" ending for Lori/Marie and her little girl.

This book is full of cliches, and the author has no talent for tweaking them or making us smile in a "see whatcha did there" kind of way. It is also plagued with run-on sentences, phrases repeated twice in the same paragraph, unclosed quotations marks, and other obvious boo-boos that a competent proof-reader would have fixed. In one place the witness is referred to by her real first name in one sentence and her assumed one in the next the author, not by another character who knows both. The point of view often switches within a paragraph...and it's not art, it's awkward. There's way too much reporting of what people said to each other, rather than giving us the dialog as it occurred. That's OK in some instances, but not in genre fiction like this. And no, I was not reading an "uncorrected proof" or ARC. This book was published in April of 2020; my copy was its final form.

So, to sum up. Oh, you think you've got it? OK, then.

ag. 7, 2020, 3:49 pm

>51 laytonwoman3rd: Brilliant review, Linda. Off to apply my thumb. I expect to see you on the "hot" list soon, if you're not there already.

Editat: ag. 7, 2020, 3:56 pm

>52 lauralkeet: Thanks, Laura. I always hate to trash a book so thoroughly; I can usually find something good to say, if it's only "your mileage may vary"---but not this time.

ag. 7, 2020, 4:00 pm

>51 laytonwoman3rd: On goodreads peeps gush about this and it has a 4.44 star rating! OK, only 9 ratings, but still. I always wonder what I missed when my reaction to a book is so different from the hoi polloi. In this case I suspect you didn't miss anything and I wonder if the goodreaders even read it. You deserve an extra thumb for an honest and incisive review, so I've dropped one.

ag. 7, 2020, 4:01 pm

>54 RBeffa: there are two other LT reviews which are more favorable, but I trust Linda's judgement! There's also one non-review which, since I was there, I flagged as such.

ag. 7, 2020, 4:04 pm

>55 lauralkeet: I had not seen the 5 star review posted after Linda's. It must have just been added. I'll trust Linda.

Editat: ag. 7, 2020, 6:07 pm

You guys... *blush*

I have to say, usually when I see other reviews that rate a book so differently than I did, I have second thoughts. I'm sticking to my guns here...this one is a dud. I can only assume the people who loved this haven't read much good detective fiction.

ag. 7, 2020, 6:37 pm

I called it -- you're on the hot review list now!

ag. 7, 2020, 9:38 pm

>58 lauralkeet: It's been a while...

ag. 7, 2020, 10:52 pm

Adding my condolences, Linda. What a lovely obit for an accomplished woman.

ag. 8, 2020, 10:02 am

Thank you, Shelley.

ag. 8, 2020, 10:42 am

May I say that your mother's life reminds me of that of Obama's grandmother, Madelyn Dunham?

ag. 8, 2020, 12:00 pm

I am sorry about the loss of your mother, Linda. She sounds like a remarkable woman.

The Vine book sounds interesting.

Great review of Penance; that one will NOT go on my list.

ag. 8, 2020, 1:20 pm

>62 weird_O: You may...she would be flattered, I think.

>63 BLBera: Thank you, Beth, for all of that.

Editat: ag. 9, 2020, 2:22 pm

I've occasionally mentioned my husband's cousin Don Freas around here, mostly in connection with his poetry, which I love. But his talent is so multi-faceted....Take a look.

ag. 9, 2020, 3:00 pm

DNF The Lobster Kings by Alexi Zentner Something I picked up at a library book sale some time ago. Baled (see what I did there?) after a little over 70 pages. A family of lobster fisherman in Maine. Grim happenings. Daughter wants to be her father's favorite (she's named Cordelia...her father, man of the sea, is also a Shakespearean actor in his spare time). Dad thinks the sea is no place for a girl, but relents when his only son goes overboard. Mother opts out of life. Rival group from neighboring village attempts to encroach on the King family's fishing grounds. More grim happenings. Enough already.

ag. 16, 2020, 5:26 pm

>66 laytonwoman3rd: I love your comments there, Linda, especially the final thought. I think I'll skip this one.

>51 laytonwoman3rd: And I'm definitely skipping that one! I'll thumb your review, though. :-)

I missed that your mom had passed; so sorry to hear that. And how wonderful that you have some of her favorite books still in your possession. I know the last years were hard as they always are when dementia comes into the picture. My SIL is starting to experience short-term memory loss and also knows that it's happening, but not always when it is happening in the moment. My sister recently made me the executor of her will, etc. So hard to have to say to her partner of 45 years, "you can't be in the position of making decisions if something happens to me."

Keep taking good care, Linda. xo

Editat: ag. 16, 2020, 8:27 pm

>67 EBT1002: Thank you for all those kind comments, Ellen. I used to think cancer was the worst diagnosis possible, but having lost one parent to that and watched the other struggle with dementia, I no longer know what to call "the worst". Even though she knew her "brain didn't work anymore", as she so often said, still she never thought it was bad enough to give up control of the things she had always managed so well. I had to take measures that didn't sit well with me, or her.

Editat: ag. 16, 2020, 6:40 pm

>47 fuzzi: I wish I'd known a few like you fifty years ago.

>48 laytonwoman3rd: Some days I think I'd like to be able to; just can not.

>51 laytonwoman3rd: Oh dear. Ew!

ag. 16, 2020, 6:40 pm

>68 laytonwoman3rd: dementia is a thief. My mother's mother had to be placed in a nursing home after she broke her hip, which exacerbated her mild memory issues. One day while we were visiting she said "My daughter (name) doesn't visit me any more", referring to my mother. My mom was standing next to her, and tearfully said, "But Mom, I'm here!"

Editat: set. 6, 2020, 1:32 pm

>70 fuzzi: That is exactly right, fuzzi. Thankfully, my mother didn't get to that point. She spent the last three weeks of her life in a nursing home, but she knew us all (we could talk to her on the phone, and at first through her window), and to the end she thought she'd be going home "in a day or so".

ag. 27, 2020, 11:40 am

53. Andy Catlett: Early Travels by Wendell Berry
54. A World Lost by Wendell Berry

These two short novels, with all the short stories that fit chronologically between them, comprised a good deal of my August reading time, and it was wonderful to be in and about Port William. These stories have a great appeal to me...they tick all the boxes, as they say. Simple good people, a few rascals and ne'er-do-wells, some drunkards, but very little real wickedness. There's plenty of sorrow, hardship, loss and grief, but it feels as "right", in context, as the freedom of childhood and the routine of daily life, until World War II and the murder of Andy's favorite uncle knock it all off kilter. Berry's ability to re-create the world of rural farm life (in Kentucky, but that only means tobacco is the main crop--it could so easily be the little pocket of the Delaware River Valley in Pennsylvania where I grew up) in the early 20th century is nothing short of genius. A perfect antidote to living in the early 21st. Highly recommended for your soul.

Editat: ag. 27, 2020, 2:55 pm

55. Snapshot by Garry Disher
56. Chain of Evidence by Garry Disher

The further adventures of Inspector Hal Challis, Sergeant Ellen Destry and the sometimes hapless, sometimes conscience-less uniformed and plain clothes officers of the Waterloo Criminal Investigation Unit. If you're fan of police procedurals, and you haven't sampled this Australian series, you're missing out. The action is intense, the characters are more believable than some of their American counterparts, the setting (both coastal and outback) is intriguing, and the pages turn themselves. This makes 4 I have read in the series, and I admit that Superintendent McQuarrie's stupidity and self-serving interference is wearing a bit thin...but I'm going to keep going because I love everything else about these books.

ag. 27, 2020, 12:48 pm

>72 laytonwoman3rd: I couldn't agree more, Linda. I haven't read those two short books yet but, as mentioned on the Berry AAC thread, I recently dipped back into his work through the short stories in That Distant Land. It is balm for the soul.

I read The Memory of Old Jack for the AAC, and of course Jack is very present in the story Pray Without Ceasing. The events in the short story aren't mentioned in the novel at all (I have it on my Kindle, so I could easily search). The Memory of Old Jack only mentions that Ben was a dear friend, and that he died too young. I don't know whether Berry wrote the book or the story first, but the two complement each other brilliantly.

ag. 28, 2020, 7:04 am

ag. 28, 2020, 7:30 am

S'ha suprimit aquest usuari en ser considerat brossa.

ag. 28, 2020, 9:10 am

>75 fuzzi: Not really, fuzzi....the spoiler would be telling how it happened, and how Andy came to know the "real" story behind it.

Editat: des. 26, 2020, 3:45 pm

Editat: set. 6, 2020, 1:35 pm

Lightning round, as I'm just not in the reviewing mood lately.

57. The Orchardist by Amanda Copley A very literary historical novel; there are lots of reviews on site, and I'm lazy with the words right now. I enjoyed this story, for the most part, although it did suffer from mid-point bog-down and too much authorial evaluation of her characters' thoughts and actions (the MFA syndrome).

58. Killing the Goose by Frances and Richard Lockridge It had been a while since I visited with my old friends Mr. and Mrs. North, so I scanned my collection and picked this one because I didn't immediately remember the plot after reading a couple paragraphs. Turns out it has a very smooth but utterly self-absorbed and downright awful character in it who reminded me a lot of He Who Shall Not Be Named (and I don't mean Voldemort) in his ability to hoodwink his "followers" into considering him a great man of the people. Irresistibly set in Manhattan during WWII. As usual, Pam North figures out who the bad guy is, and then, as her husband realizes (again as usual just a bit too late to stop her) "there was no trouble in the world that Mrs. North, on the trail of a murderer, couldn't get into in twenty-six minutes."

59. A Three Dog Life by Abigail Thomas Found among my mother's books; I think it was something she read (or was meant to) for her book club. I nearly tossed it in the library sale box, but for some reason today picked it up and tucked in. By late evening I had finished it, despite doing a few other things during the day. A memoir of the author's life after her husband's life-altering traumatic brain injury in 2000. Very good, neither sentimental nor "inspiring"...just excellent clean writing.

set. 6, 2020, 2:12 am

I was reading your review up thread a ways for The Chimney Sweeper's Boy thinking that it sounded familiar then I realized I read sometime in the last few years.

set. 6, 2020, 12:23 pm

>79 laytonwoman3rd: I'm just not in the reviewing mood lately. Ditto. Not quite so much in the reading mood either. I am back with RPW and Willie Talos and company, just not pursuing that reading with great vigor.

set. 6, 2020, 1:09 pm

>79 laytonwoman3rd: #57 unbearable, that MFA syndrome. I want to block their access to the thesaurus and cause their keyboards to lock after the sixth character.

Earn it, Junior. Prove to me you can tell the story before you reach into English's magical casket of wonders for the fancy stuff.

set. 6, 2020, 1:38 pm

>80 Familyhistorian: Do you love it or hate it when that happens, Meg?

>81 weird_O: AtKM could be tough going if you're in one of those "off" phases with the reading. I hope you won't give up on it, because it's really a good one.

>82 richardderus: Right...none of it was bad. There was just too much of some of it. You know.

Editat: set. 14, 2020, 9:33 pm

60. The Unquiet Grave by Sharyn McCrumb I don't know if I've lost my taste for these novels, or if McCrumb lost her touch, or what. I haven't enjoyed the last two or three nearly as much as I enjoyed the earlier ones. I miss Sheriff Arrowood, and Nora Bonesteel. This story is based on actual events, not a ballad, and it just seemed to me there was not enough to it to support a novel. This is the predictable tale of a young woman smitten by a handsome scoundrel (who had already "lost" 2 wives, one to divorce and one to accidental death) whom her mother strenuously warns her not to marry. But she does, naturally, because what does Mama know about love? Girl, naturally, ends up dead, in what appears to be another accident, and Mama doesn't believe it at all. She convinces the authorities to exhume her daughter's body for an autopsy, on the basis of which the husband is arrested for murder. McCrumb fills many a page with side and back stories of the attorneys who defended the rake in a trial they knew they couldn't win. Those stories don't illuminate anything, aren't all that interesting, and bogged me down. I think she had a lot of research she didn't know what else to do with. Can't recommend this one.

set. 14, 2020, 2:38 pm

What number is this in the series, Linda? Now that my library has reopened I need to circle back to this series. I've only read the first book so I suspect I still have several good ones ahead of me.

set. 14, 2020, 5:17 pm

>85 lauralkeet: LT says it's No. 12, Laura. But I'd say it's really a stand-alone, since none of the recurring characters are in it. Several of her books do not "connect" to the others in that way, and can easily be read out of order, or on their own. But I'm finding those are not my favorites. I like the ones best that feature recurring modern characters whose lives have a story line that moves ahead from one book to the next, and where the legend at the heart of the "mystery" is either imbedded somehow in the modern frame, or is transformed into the modern storyline.

Editat: set. 14, 2020, 5:59 pm

>84 laytonwoman3rd: Hmmm, disappointing Linda. The only way to find out is read the next one.... after a short break perhaps.

set. 14, 2020, 5:56 pm

>87 Caroline_McElwee: Actually, this was the last one, at least so far. She writes other things, including another series of mysteries which many people tag "humor", featuring a forensic anthropologist. Some of those are set in Scotland, and I may give the first one a try.

set. 15, 2020, 3:59 pm

>84 laytonwoman3rd: I loved that one. Of course, I also heard her talk about it after I read it. A friend of mine helped her with much of that research you mentioned. We asked her a number of years ago why she'd quit writing the Ballad series. She said something to the effect of "I've grown up as a writer."

set. 15, 2020, 4:19 pm

>89 thornton37814: Interesting, Lori. I can understand being finished with one sort of writing, and wanting to move on to other things, but that statement feels a bit like a slap at her readers who like her early work. It seems to me her story-telling has lost something. Different strokes, for different folks, I guess.

set. 15, 2020, 7:07 pm

>83 laytonwoman3rd: I'm on the love it side of that, Linda. It makes me feel vindicated somehow that other readers are reading what I am and it reminds me of why I read the book in the first place.

set. 15, 2020, 8:51 pm

>91 Familyhistorian: I love sharing good reads with others, too, Meg. What I meant was, I never know whether to be happy or a little depressed to pick up a book, or read a review of one, that sounds interesting, only to discover that I have already read it, and apparently forgotten it!

set. 16, 2020, 12:20 pm

That is all.

set. 16, 2020, 2:35 pm

set. 16, 2020, 3:24 pm

>93 richardderus: Except that it's the wrong side of the true.

set. 19, 2020, 6:27 pm

>79 laytonwoman3rd: Love the "MFA syndrome".

Editat: set. 20, 2020, 11:07 am

61. The Wicked Pavilion by Dawn Powell For the AAC. This novel is Powell's merciless observation of the "art world" in New York City post World War II. It's a tight little circle of wannabe's, couldabeens, patrons and parasites, most of whom couldn't tell a Rembrandt from a Picasso and don't remember whose bed they woke up in last week. I am impressed with the writing, the insight, the "snark"---and the "modernity" of some of the dialog. I find the disconnect between what the characters are actually doing in their lives, and what they profess to be offended by, is rendered brilliantly. Powell certainly had her finger on the sleazy side of human nature in artistic circles. I don't like or sympathize with any of the characters, but they are interesting, and precisely because I don't care about them in an empathetic way, I can be delighted by their peccadilloes, and even their awfulness, most of the time. Once in a while, though, I think Powell drives her blade a little too deep.

set. 20, 2020, 11:09 am

>96 BLBera: That stands for "more freakin' adjectives", of course. :>)

Editat: set. 20, 2020, 12:23 pm

62. The Sandalwood Tree by Elle Newmark A good immersive story set in India just before Partition. Martin Mitchell has returned from WWII seriously damaged, emotionally, and he takes his wife and young son to the Indian countryside to work on his PhD dissertation on the subject of how the coming withdrawal of British Colonialists and the separation of the continent into two nations according to religion is affecting its people. Evie Mitchell hopes the complete change, and what she imagines as the romance of an exotic new world will help heal both her husband's invisible wounds and their now troubled marriage. A chance discovery of some old letters between two Victorian women who previously occupied the bungalow she and Martin are living in sends Evie off on a research mission of her own, to find out more about the lives of those women, who obviously shared her love for their adopted land. Engrossing, satisfying, a few surprises, but basically a comfort read.

set. 20, 2020, 4:57 pm

>97 laytonwoman3rd: Angels on Toast and The Locusts Have No King are two of her most deftly sarcastic and satirical. I always wanted the business boys in Angels to do it all for Luuuv and end up together, but not in 1940.

Her quote about Literature is the snake's garters: "Satire is people as they are; romanticism, people as they would like to be; realism, people as they seem with their insides left out."

Editat: set. 20, 2020, 5:25 pm

*chortle* "the snake's garters" *chortle* I do love that expression. I'll be reading more Powell...I have her in the Library of America volumes, so it's all here.

set. 28, 2020, 5:48 pm

63. Nora Webster by Colm Tóibín Like Barbara Pym, Colm Tóibín can take ordinary life and make it...well, engaging. Nora Webster has suddenly lost her husband, while she still has two young sons to raise, and two older daughters to get through university. This book is all about her feeling her way through the grief and uncertainty, taking charge of her new life bit by bit, while fending off well-meaning but intrusive neighbors and relatives who know just what she ought to be doing, and sometimes go so far as doing it for her. Somehow she finds the balance between accepting the help she needs, and putting the kibosh on the meddling, but not without missteps and stumbles. We do feel she'll probably be all right in the end, and so will her children. The setting, which is mainly in the background, is the late 60's into the start of The Troubles in Ireland, and we get a fascinating glimpse of the times from the perspective of a small community well to the south whose members are so far untouched by the unrest and escalating violence, but have a variety of views on its causes, justification and potential solutions.

Editat: des. 26, 2020, 3:50 pm

And here it is almost October, and time for the Ward Just thread in the AAC.

set. 28, 2020, 6:17 pm

>102 laytonwoman3rd: that sounds good. I like Toibin's writing.

set. 29, 2020, 12:02 pm

>102 laytonwoman3rd: this is very much an autobiographical novel for Tóibín Linda. Nora is his mother. I really liked it. Quiet but quite powerful.

set. 29, 2020, 12:05 pm

>105 Caroline_McElwee: I suspected that, Caroline. Do you know which son he was? I assume Donal, since he's the one most featured in the story. It's the kind of book I feel I may return to one day.

set. 29, 2020, 4:05 pm

oct. 6, 2020, 9:35 pm

I ought to start a new thread for the last quarter of the year, but I will wait until the continuation link shows up.

oct. 6, 2020, 9:43 pm

64. The Crow Trap by Ann Cleeves This is the first in the Vera Stanhope series by Cleeves. I watched a couple episodes of the TV show, and had a lot of trouble with the Yorkshire dialog, so decided I might better read the books. Inspector Vera Stanhope is wounded, but tough, and there's none of that conflict with male colleagues stuff going on here (one passing reference to a shouting superior, whom she ignores). She just gets on with it and apparently is mostly left to it until she sorts everything out. Well worth meeting on the page, but don't invite her in unless you can offer her a beer and some relevant information. Three women are engaged in an environmental survey of flora and fauna in the hill country, the results of which may have a bearing on the opening of a quarry, for which there is both support and opposition among local families. Many tangled threads, troubled pasts, secrets, false leads, a bit of romance, and of course a mysterious death or two. Great for sinking in and getting lost.

oct. 7, 2020, 7:26 am

>110 laytonwoman3rd: ooh that sounds like a good start to a series. I will definitely add this to my list.

oct. 7, 2020, 9:23 am

>111 lauralkeet: *is gleeful* And you NEED another series!

oct. 7, 2020, 1:05 pm

>110 laytonwoman3rd: I watched the show with Brenda Blethyn and very much liked it, but never picked up the books. I think following two of her series is enough. (Shetland Islands with Jimmy Perez and the new one with Matthew Venn.)

She's very prolific!

oct. 7, 2020, 1:11 pm

>113 richardderus: I've watched enough of the series to have Brenda Blethyn's portrayal of Vera solidly in mind while reading---and that works very well for me.

oct. 7, 2020, 5:06 pm

>110 laytonwoman3rd: I’ve watched a couple of the Brenda Blethyn episodes but couldn’t get on with her portrayal at all. Really like the Shetland series though - helps that I have always wanted to go to Shetland but have never got there.

Editat: oct. 7, 2020, 5:37 pm

>115 SandDune: I understand the difficulty, if you had read some of the books and already had an image in your head..I find that can quickly spoil a TV show. Great to have you drop in, Rhian!

oct. 9, 2020, 10:12 pm

Hi! Just dropping by to say hello and wish you Happy Reading!

oct. 10, 2020, 9:53 am

>117 tymfos: Great to see you Terri!

oct. 13, 2020, 8:42 pm

65. Hidden Depths by Ann Cleeves No. 3 in the Vera Stanhope series. This was the subject of the first episode of the TV series, so I sort of skimmed it, having skipped No. 2 entirely (as it was the second episode, which I also watched). When I'm ready for Vera again, I'll pick up No. 4. I like these; they are fine diversions. But I will give the series a rest for now.

oct. 15, 2020, 10:43 am

Hopelessly behind on LT, but making an effort. : ) I like Anne Cleeves! Good find. Hope you continue to enjoy the series.

oct. 15, 2020, 11:21 am

>120 Berly: Hi, Kim! Being behind on LT has just become normal for me...thanks for stopping by. I'm going to check out the Shetland series too. It's always good to know you have great escapist reads "on deck" when you need them.

oct. 15, 2020, 12:46 pm

>119 laytonwoman3rd: I've found that series fatigue is, for me, worse in pandemical times. Dunno why, just is.

Happy weekend reads!

oct. 15, 2020, 1:05 pm

>122 richardderus: Perhaps the tendency to binge a series is greater right now? I usually find reading several back-to-back highlights the stuff that annoys, bores, or mystifies me about the characters and their world...stuff I can let slip by if I only visit with them once a year or so.

oct. 15, 2020, 1:41 pm

Hi, Linda. I'm still among the living.

oct. 15, 2020, 2:42 pm

>124 weird_O: That is good news, Bill.

Editat: oct. 28, 2020, 1:45 pm

66. The Eastern Shore by Ward Just For the AAC;
I knew of Just as a reporter, but had never read his fiction before.

In this fairly recent novel (2016) Just tells the story of newspaper man Ned Ayres, from his early days as managing editor of a small town paper in Indiana to editor of a major Washington, D.C. daily. Ned's long hours and total absorption in his work mean he isn't much of a "catch", despite his successful career. He has no interest in the kind of compromise he sees as necessary to a happy married life. He has a couple relatively serious long-term relationships, but there is never any commitment on either side, and in both cases the women move on, without drama, to pursue their own interests. Ned's choice of career alienated him from his father early on, so what we have is a man without personal attachments of any kind. He is perfectly capable of socializing, enjoying the details of other people's lives, but his favorite place to be, at any hour, is in the newsroom. The changing character of journalism and the rise of the internet as a source of information lead to Ned's retirement to the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and a mansion he has admired for decades, but really has no use for. He spends his final years working on a memoir that we all know will never be finished...doing some mild soul-searching, but generally just fading away. As he observed about himself "he had no material. He edited material." Ned’s life makes a very suitable vehicle for Just’s own examination of the newspaper world, the question of personal privacy vs. the public’s “right to know”, and the decline of the traditional press. Good solid prose, interesting character development, an enjoyable read.

oct. 28, 2020, 2:49 pm

Ward Just writes novels?! I never knowed this! *smooch*

oct. 28, 2020, 3:38 pm

>127 richardderus: Yes....mostly with political settings. So I'm not trying any of those just now.

oct. 28, 2020, 3:59 pm

I do have a couple of Just books. When I finish the Gibson/Sterling steampunk tale I'm reading now, I will take a look at them, see if I want to read one. Too, I have All the King's Men standing by.

Editat: des. 26, 2020, 3:51 pm

oct. 31, 2020, 7:02 pm

I have had a copy of The Orchardist on the shelves for what feels like forever (it's not, I know). It is set in my part of the world and I need to get to it. Same with Nora Webster (well, not the setting but the on-my-shelf for what feels like forever).

I'm glad you found the Vera Stanhope series. I have read only that first installment because I decided to make my way through her entire Shetland/Jimmy Perez series first. I know what you mean about the accents on tv (it makes P a bit crazy because when we watch British mysteries I turn the volume WAY up), but I was able to tolerate missing a sentence or two and have watched every episode of Vera as well as Shetland. I love those windswept and desolate landscapes.

nov. 2, 2020, 9:20 am

Hi, Linda.

I've been enjoying that Vera tv series with Brenda Blethyn, and I loved Shetland. What's the third Ann Cleeves one with Matthew Venn? I've only read one of her books, Raven Black. I probably should fix that.

nov. 2, 2020, 2:58 pm

>131 EBT1002: Two good reads there, Ellen, if you discount the MFA excess in The Orchardist. And that bothers some people much less than it bothers me.

>131 EBT1002:, >132 jnwelch: Re Vera Stanhope: See below. I've finished another one.

nov. 2, 2020, 5:06 pm

67. Jack by Marilynne Robinson The fourth of Robinson's tender novels featuring the Boughton/Ames families of (mostly) Gilead, Iowa. I'd like to do it justice with my comments, as I feel I did with Home and Lila. We'll see how my brain feels about that in a few days. I'm now re-reading Home, and it's just as remarkable as it was the first time....only now I know more.

nov. 2, 2020, 5:30 pm

>134 laytonwoman3rd: You're messing with my denial! Marilynne Robinson is Not For Me!! No no no!

Anyway. I think my just-posted review will appeal to you. *smcooH*

Editat: nov. 2, 2020, 6:17 pm

68. Silent Voices by Ann Cleeves Vera Stanhope No. 4

Vera is an unmade bed...a rumpled, discombobulated mess to look at. She knows she's overweight, considers herself ugly in any case, and can't be arsed to take any pains whatsoever. She has no interest in her clothes beyond a moderate level of cleanliness, as long as they are comfortable and don't aggravate her eczema. Her daily footwear is a pair of sandals, sans socks. She'll wear wellies when the circumstances call for them. Her personal habits are irregular...she rarely eats "meals", surviving on chips, bacon sandwiches, tinned soup, coffee, tea and whatever might be offered in the way of cake or biscuits by victims' families, witnesses and suspects as she interviews them in their homes....doesn't really care what goes into her mouth unless it's that tot of Scotch or cold beer at the end of a long day. A nice sit-down in a good restaurant for a leisurely dinner seems never to be a thing she might long for. What Vera wants is a mental challenge and a chance to trip up a prove (to her dead father, it would seem) that she's fit for her position as Detective Inspector, the only job she can imagine herself wanting to do. Rough and heartless as she may come off to her colleagues, Vera does have some tender feelings, and the sight of a happy couple or a laughing child will bring her to a rueful contemplation of her apparently terminal solitary and childless state. As she considers herself fundamentally unlovable, and blames her father for an unhappy childhood of her own, this all may be just as well.

In this outing, there are many opportunities for Vera to take note of parent/child relationships and how destructive they can be. A social worker found dead in the steam room of an athletic club sets many wheels in motion, and brings the past back around to visit retribution. Many children have been at risk, and worse, before it all gets sorted out. I'm not greatly taken with the author's style...a bit too much beating around the bush in getting the story out there, too many complex connections among the characters. And references to Vera's foibles are beginning to feel like boilerplate; frankly I'm a bit done with them. Her sergeant, Joe Ashforth, as conventional as Vera is eccentric, is almost more interesting, but Cleeves doesn't let us see him outside of work. We know he has a wife and "kids" (2, 3?) and that his wife hates for him to be out late. But that's only at second hand. We never see him at home, never hear him in conversation with his wife. The relationship between Vera and Joe is odd...she needs him as a sounding board, and enjoys the company of a fine-looking young man, but there's no suggestion of anything inappropriate on her part, beyond taking advantage of his time and willingness to jump when she calls...just like every boss I've ever known. His feelings toward her are ambiguous, but he usually acknowledges that they are a good team. Even though I quibble, I have a niggling suspicion that I may return to this series some time. For now, 4 is enough.

nov. 3, 2020, 1:17 pm

>134 laytonwoman3rd: That one arrived this week at the library. Anxious to view your comments.

nov. 3, 2020, 2:23 pm

>136 laytonwoman3rd: Series fatigue can strike at any point during the reading process. Sounds like a bad case!

Better luck next read.

nov. 3, 2020, 3:58 pm

>136 laytonwoman3rd: Since I will soon start this series I didn't read your review closely, but noted your final comment, "Even though I quibble, I have a niggling suspicion that I may return to this series some time. For now, 4 is enough."

I've had that feeling before when I've read multiple books somewhat close together. Do you think that was the case here, or is there more to it?

Editat: nov. 3, 2020, 10:24 pm

>138 richardderus:, >139 lauralkeet: I do think it's better to spread series entries out a bit. And that's probably why I feel like this one was getting a bit repetitious. There's something to be said for longing for the next one to come out!

>137 thornton37814: I will probably wait now until I've finished my re-read of Home. They complement one another very very well.

nov. 7, 2020, 3:50 pm

Hi Linda my dear, hope that you are well and having a good start to the weekend, sending love and hugs from both of us and Felix, dear friend.

nov. 8, 2020, 9:27 am

>141 johnsimpson: Thank you, John. The weekend has taken a very nice turn. And today it's warm enough for a picnic, which we will carry to my MIL and enjoy in her sunny side yard.

nov. 8, 2020, 9:28 am

I'm just going to leave this here.

nov. 8, 2020, 9:56 am

nov. 8, 2020, 3:24 pm

>143 laytonwoman3rd: sadly, I have to stop visiting threads, like yours, because everyone is pushing politics.

It's a shame, because I've enjoyed reading your posts.

nov. 8, 2020, 8:01 pm

>143 laytonwoman3rd: Yes! It's just part of the 2020 experience. You get The Virus. You lose your job. Soon you'll be evicted. Couldn't happen to a more deserving guy (and his family).

nov. 8, 2020, 9:06 pm

>143 laytonwoman3rd:, >146 weird_O: A special thank-you to you guys from PA for your votes and your hard-working election officials, poll watchers, vote-counters, etc.

nov. 8, 2020, 9:44 pm

>146 weird_O: Apparently Mrs. T is already packing her bags....can't wait to get out of there.

>147 kac522: Happy to was the easy part.

nov. 10, 2020, 3:13 pm


Have a lovely. It's going to return to our regularly scheduled November here pretty quick.

nov. 11, 2020, 9:36 pm

69. The Drugstore Cat by Ann Petry For the AAC

This was just the kind of thing I would have loved when I was the right age for it. Buzzie, a barn kitten, gets a new home in town, in the drugstore run by a brother and sister who live above the store. He learns that while he understands humans' speech, most of them do not understand him; he also learns, with the help of one fine little boy and an extraordinary gentleman, how to "lengthen" his short temper and get along with people even when they don't behave politely. Engaging and whimsical line drawings illustrate the text. Kids will love Buzzie, dapper Mr. Smith, and the ice cream man who always treats the kitten to a tiny scoop when he delivers the big tubs to the soda fountain. Adults who understand the perspective Petry was writing from will get that the lesson in this story was one Black children needed to learn early in order to survive in her world. This book is hard to come by; there don't seem to be any cheap used copies out there, but you might get lucky and find it in your library. It's worth a try if you like cats.

Editat: nov. 12, 2020, 11:23 am

70. First Degree by David Rosenfelt Andy Carpenter is an attorney, but an inheritance has made it unnecessary for him to work except when he wants to. In this second in a lengthy series featuring Andy and his Golden Retreiver Tara (whom he rescued from death row), he has no choice but to handle the defense of a man charged with a grisly murder. He knows this client is innocent, because another client confessed to the crime within the protection of attorney/client privilege. So how does Carpenter manage this defense without violating that privilege? And what does he do when exculpatory evidence turns up to completely exonerate the innocent man...but results in murder charges against the love of Andy's life. A pretty good plot (and points for dropping a clue that I picked up on before Andy did), marred for me by the way-too-clever wise guy tone of nearly all of Andy's narration. It's the kind of humor I appreciate in small doses, but which loses its appeal pretty fast when delivered in bulk. Also, not enough dog.

nov. 12, 2020, 11:39 am

"Also, not enough dog."

There never is!

nov. 13, 2020, 7:52 am

>151 laytonwoman3rd: Ooof, that wise guy act can get nauseating quickly, I agree. I think I'll give this series a pass, then. Also, I agree with you *and* Katie. Never enough dog.

nov. 13, 2020, 11:50 am

71. Home by Marilynne Robinson I first read this 10 years ago, and it was like getting reacquainted with a friend I hadn't talked to in a decade. In my mind this was Glory Boughton's story, and I had forgotten how very much of her brother Jack there was in it. Reading it immediately after reading Jack enhanced what was already a stand-out experience for me. And I'm still not ready to talk about Jack. On to Gilead I go.

nov. 13, 2020, 1:07 pm

>154 laytonwoman3rd: And I'm still not ready to talk about Jack. On to Gilead I go.
I love that you're essentially re-reading the cycle. I can't wait to read your thoughts.

nov. 13, 2020, 1:36 pm

>155 lauralkeet: And I love that you call it a cycle, because that's what I've decided it is. I listened to a Book Riot podcast on Jack yesterday, and they puzzled over that question. I kept muttering "cycle, it's a CYCLE..." but they never got there.

nov. 13, 2020, 1:43 pm

>156 laytonwoman3rd: Ha ha well first of all, we are both smarter than everyone else. ALSO, and more seriously, for some reason I was reminded of Margaret Laurence's Manawaka Cycle, four novels with some character overlap. In fact, as I think of it, I think you'd really like those if you haven't read them. I have them as VMCs but I'm sure other editions are available too.

nov. 13, 2020, 8:36 pm

>157 lauralkeet: Thanks for mentioning the Laurence books...I seem to remember your review of The Stone Angel got my attention.

nov. 13, 2020, 9:22 pm

>158 laytonwoman3rd: oh, that's nice! Although the cycle doesn't have a particular order, that would be a good book to start with.

Editat: nov. 14, 2020, 4:08 pm

72. Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake, illustrated by Jon Klassen If you know a child (grades 2-5 or 39+) who loved Frog and Toad and needs a more grown-up it is. I absolutely loved this story of two mismatched lodgers in Aunt Lula's brownstone with their quirky habits and seemingly irreconcilable differences, who find they really don't want to live without one another. Chickens also enter into it. Fantastic.

nov. 14, 2020, 6:16 pm

>160 laytonwoman3rd: 39+? OK I'll go for it. I liked Klassen's illustrations for Pax which I read earlier this year. I can put on my age 10 hat. My library has one on order and one checked out. I can be patient. Sounds a wee bit like one of my favorites ... Wind in the Willows. I should dig in our kids book boxes. I think we may have Frog and Toad hiding in there.

Editat: nov. 14, 2020, 6:27 pm

>161 RBeffa: There is a bit of a 21st century Wind in the Willows feel to it, Ron. And I hope you find some Frog and Toad, because they are wonderful.

nov. 15, 2020, 8:38 am

Jon Klassen *is* excellent. I don't think I've seen this one, so I'll have to add it to the list. I do love Frog and Toad...

nov. 15, 2020, 1:32 pm

>163 scaifea: It just came out in September, I believe.

nov. 15, 2020, 6:39 pm

Linda, I’ve Picked up Jack from the library and plan on doing some rereading of Robinson’s books set in Gilead. I’m looking forward to learning more about what makes Jack tick. I’m looking forward to your further thoughts on him and the cycle/quartet.

nov. 15, 2020, 9:37 pm

>165 Donna828: I'm well into my re-read of Gilead...I had forgotten how beautiful it is to read. I highly recommend reading these books "in a bunch" now that that is possible, whether you've read any of them before or not.

nov. 18, 2020, 9:48 pm

73. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

nov. 19, 2020, 7:19 am

>167 laytonwoman3rd: *taps foot impatiently*

Editat: nov. 19, 2020, 9:59 am

>168 lauralkeet: I'm finding it very hard to deal with any of these books individually. I never did review Gilead after my first read. Now that I've finished it again, I'm trying to sort what I learned anywhere else from what is contained in this amazing first work in the cycle. I'm taking notes, but have multiple other "things" going on (library meetings, by-laws revisions, cemetery association newsletter prep, holiday shopping, mother's estate, etc.) which are making it difficult for me to settle down to a thoughtful review. I'm thinking all the time, however, and bouncing observations off a certain LT'er I might be related to---I really wish we could get that telepathy thing working so I could share more of it.

nov. 19, 2020, 10:34 am

>169 laytonwoman3rd: well that makes sense, Linda. Give the time stamp on your post I thought perhaps you'd fallen asleep at the keyboard. 😀

nov. 19, 2020, 11:14 am

>170 lauralkeet: That's a little too close to the truth, actually!.

nov. 19, 2020, 2:48 pm

>169 laytonwoman3rd: I'm tired just reading it. *whew* It's a wonder you can make time to type at all.

nov. 19, 2020, 3:02 pm

>172 richardderus: Some days I wonder my own self. Library Board Meeting in 30 minutes on Zoom. Most of the morning spent in telephone calls preparatory to same. At least it's something I feel good about doing.

Editat: des. 26, 2020, 4:10 pm

I wasn't going to do this because I thought it would require too much fishing around in my catalog and lists and stuff. Which it did. But it was kinda fun and interesting. Meme stolen from those who stole it first.

1. Name any book you read at any time that was published in the year you turned 18:

The Godfather Sounder I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings The Andromeda Strain several others

2. Name a book you have on in your TBR pile that is over 500 pages long:


3. What is the last book you read with a mostly blue cover?

Killing the Goose by Frances and Richard Lockridge

4. What is the last book you didn’t finish (and why didn’t you finish it?)

The Lobster Kings Grim, too grim

5. What is the last book that scared the bejeepers out of you?

Not sure I can pinpoint the “last” one … I haven’t read that sort of thing in many many years. I think I’ve become immune to the scare. I will say probably The Exorcist was the last one I didn’t want to read while alone...that was in the early ‘70s.

6. Name the book that read either this year or last year that takes place geographically closest to where you live? How close would you estimate it was?

The Wicked Pavilion by Dawn Powell takes place in New York City, which is just a couple hours down the road.

7.What were the topics of the last two nonfiction books you read?

Grief and race relations.

8. Name a recent book you read which could be considered a popular book?

I guess Grisham is still “popular”? I read his Camino Winds in July.

9. What was the last book you gave a rating of 5-stars to? And when did you read it?

Nightwoods by Charles Frazier Read in January 2020

10. Name a book you read that led you to specifically to read another book (and what was the other book, and what was the connection)

Easy one. I read Marilynne Robinson’s Jack, and then had to go re-read both Gilead and Home. I will also eventually re-read Lila, all books in Robinson’s Gilead cycle.

11. Name the author you have most recently become infatuated with.

Wendell Berry

12. What is the setting of the first novel you read this year?


13. What is the last book you read, fiction or nonfiction, that featured a war in some way (and what war was it)?

I haven’t read anything where a war was the focus for some time, but Two Lives by Vikram Seth, which I read in June, did deal in large part with the effects of WWII on the two people whose lives are considered.

14. What was the last book you acquired or borrowed based on an LTer’s review or casual recommendation? And who was the LTer, if you care to say.

In August I read two of Gary Disher’s Hal Challis series; Disher was orignally introduced to me by avaland, who always knows more about international fiction than I do.


15. What was the last book you read that involved the future in some way?

I don’t do much science fiction, so I guess Chimamanda Adichie’s Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions, which is a letter of advice to her daughter for the future, will fill this slot. I read it nearly 2 years ago.

16. Name the last book you read that featured a body of water, river, marsh, or significant rainfall?

The Johnstown Flood by David McCulloough

17. What is the last book you read by an author from the Southern Hemisphere?

Chain of Evidence Gary Disher again….set in Australia.

18. What is the last book you read that you thought had a terrible cover?

My copy of Killing Floor by Lee Child had a bloody handprint on the cover….kind of obvious and ugly.

19. Who was the most recent dead author you read? And what year did they die?

Not sure if this means “most recently dead”, or just “dead, read most recently”. Ann Petry is the last dead author I read (and am currently reading). Ward Just is the most recently dead author I’ve read. He died in 2019.

20. What was the last children’s book (not YA) you read?

Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake, illustrated by Jon Klassen Wonderful.

21. What was the name of the detective or crime-solver in the most recent crime novel you read?

Andy Carpenter

22. What was the shortest book of any kind you’ve read so far this year?

The Drugstore Cat by Ann Petry

23. Name the last book that you struggled with (and what do you think was behind the struggle?)

Penance by Edward Daniel Hunt It was poorly written, ponderous, and badly (if at all) edited. I struggled with it only because it was an ER selection and I felt obliged to finish it. Otherwise, it would have been rejected without much effort early on.

24. What is the most recent book you added to your library here on LT?

A Moment of Silence by Anna Dean

25. Name a book you read this year that had a visual component (i.e. illustrations, photos, art, comics)

Skunk and Badger Wonderful illustrations

26. What is the title and year of the oldest book you have reviewed on LT in 2020?

Song of Hiawatha by Longfellow. 1885, I believe.

LT doesn't like loading all those touchstones at once. Will try to force it to later. ETA: Multiple attempts have failed. I guess I've just gone over the line.

nov. 23, 2020, 2:30 pm

I'm so happy you're enjoying the Hal Challis series! I've found them really engrossing, too.

The wicked Pavilion was one Powell read I didn't make much headway on...I think it was a timing issue, but the book's disappeared! I never object to repurchasing books by authors whose work I really enjoy, though.

nov. 26, 2020, 4:30 pm

Hi Linda my dear, Happy Thanksgiving Day and hope that you and the family are having a good day dear friend.

nov. 26, 2020, 5:04 pm

>176 johnsimpson: Thank you, John! Just my husband and I celebrating together today. The bird is roasting now, and we're having a little wine to start.

nov. 27, 2020, 2:21 am

This Brit wishes to express his thanks for the warmth and friendship that has helped sustain him in this group, Linda.

nov. 27, 2020, 11:08 am

Thank you, Paul....this group is special, there is no doubt about that.

nov. 29, 2020, 12:00 pm

>175 richardderus: Yup...I've just picked up the next in the Hal Challis far so good.

nov. 29, 2020, 12:44 pm

74. The Street by Ann Petry This was for the AAC.

Petry's novel is rich in detail of life in Harlem in the 1940s. Most of that detail is gritty, if not downright gruesome, and Petry spares us nothing of the physical and emotional desolation of being poor, black and untethered in that place and time. The writing is often superb, but occasionally repetitious, and tends toward preachiness in places. We spend a lot of time inside the heads of Lutie Johnson, Jones the Super, and Jones's current woman, Min. Lutie is a young single mother, struggling to keep her son safe and fed, always hoping for an opportunity to do just a little better, and get him away from "the street" (116th St) and its evil influences. Jones is a man who has spent most of his life in cellars, tending furnaces, fixing ancient plumbing, and lusting after attractive women like Lutie while living with a succession of "wives" who soon tire of his peculiarities. Min has found Jones to be a good enough meal and rent ticket for a couple years, has even tried to make his life better with her domestic touches, but sees no future with him once his obsession with Lutie Johnson takes hold. These are all strong interesting characters, and in each case their narratives took me to unexpected places and unpredictable outcomes. Except. I just don't buy Lutie's final scene. No spoilers...I saw one development coming, but its aftermath did not play out in a way I found totally believable given what I knew of Lutie's character by that time. Granted her options were less than limited, I thought the novel's ending failed to come up to the creative standard set by the rest of it. That, combined with a little too much telling (and re-telling) in place of showing, subtracted a star from my rating. Still, I found this an incredibly powerful read.

nov. 29, 2020, 12:56 pm

>181 laytonwoman3rd: Nice review!

This line: ending failed to come up to the creative standard set by the rest of it resonated with me for... reasons that have nothing to do with this book. ;-)

nov. 29, 2020, 1:28 pm

>182 lycomayflower: Thank you. And I think I know to what you refer.

Editat: nov. 29, 2020, 1:37 pm

DNF House of Earth by Woody Guthrie Yes, Woody Guthrie wrote a novel. My cousin Susan sent me a copy of this book, which she said she loved in concept, but couldn't engage with. I had the same problem. I read enough of it to get the feel of Guthrie's writing, which I would call a cross between Steinbeck and D. H. Lawrence. The trouble is, having read The Grapes of Wrath and Lady Chatterley's Lover a couple times each, 50 pages of this one was enough to tell me there wasn't anything more in it for me. Kudos to Guthrie for one of the longest and least obnoxious sex scenes ever written, though.

nov. 29, 2020, 2:54 pm

>181 laytonwoman3rd: - I was just thinking I needed to write up a review of The Street, but now I can just point to yours and say "Ditto!" I agree about the ending. I found it disappointing and when I thought about it more, I realized it felt like a cop-out.

nov. 29, 2020, 4:38 pm

>185 katiekrug: We are of one mind, Katie. When I had about 15 pages to go, I thought, "How is the author going to get out of this mess she's created for her characters, with so few pages left?" I guess she didn't quite know either. Still....first novel...makes me want to try another.

nov. 29, 2020, 7:25 pm

>160 laytonwoman3rd: We are big Frog and Toad fans in our house, Linda, so I'll look for Skunk and Badger. Jon Klassen is pretty great.

des. 1, 2020, 10:07 pm

>187 BLBera: Frog and Toad are Friends of this household too!

Editat: des. 26, 2020, 3:53 pm

December's author for the American Authors Challenge is Tony Hillerman. Join the discussion here.

des. 2, 2020, 9:52 am

Oh my gosh, Tony Hillerman, I'd completely forgotten Jim Chee and Thingummy Leaphorn until just now. Have a wonderful group read, Linda3rd!

des. 2, 2020, 10:06 am

>190 richardderus: Thanks, Richard. I'm hoping there will be some new readers signing on for Hillerman. I've only read one myself, it was years ago, and it was well into the series, so it didn't really work for me. I'm going to start at the beginning as soon as the postman drops The Blessing Way on my doorstep.

Editat: des. 4, 2020, 7:28 pm

75. LillyBelle : A Damsel NOT in Distress by Joana Pastro, Illustrated by Jhon Ortiz

Lovely story of a young girl who learns all the lessons well at Lady Frilly's School for Damsels, EXCEPT that one about waiting patiently for rescue...

Editat: des. 4, 2020, 11:04 pm

76. Blood Moon by Garry Disher An excellent entry in the Hal Challis series. Several things going on at once, both professionally and personally, with Challis and his team of detectives on the Mornington Peninsula southeast of Melbourne. Love the setting, the characters, and Disher's style. He strikes exactly the right balance between revealing and holding back, so the reader should never feel bewildered or cheated by the outcome. I wish I had a couple more of these on hand. Actually, there ARE only a couple more...

des. 4, 2020, 9:15 pm

>192 laytonwoman3rd: Congratulations on reaching 75, Linda!

des. 4, 2020, 9:57 pm

Thanks, Anita! I'm slow to get there this year, and it really feels like an accomplishment.

des. 5, 2020, 8:55 am

Congrats on 75, Linda!

We watched A Child's Christmas in Wales last night, and Emmet Otter earlier this week, and I always think of you at both of those because without you and Laura, I'd never had known about them. So thanks again - they're two of my very favorites.

des. 5, 2020, 10:01 am

>196 scaifea: Awww...see...that makes my day.

des. 5, 2020, 1:51 pm

Congratulations on hitting the 75 mark Linda. That always feels good.

One of my best buddies absolutely adores that Emmet Otter. One of those things we share with our kids that makes everyone happy.

des. 5, 2020, 2:33 pm

Hi Linda my dear, congrats on reaching 75 books for the year.

des. 5, 2020, 3:53 pm

75 - Yay. Congratulations Linda.

des. 5, 2020, 11:39 pm

Congratulations on reaching 75, Linda.

Have a lovely weekend.

des. 6, 2020, 10:47 am


des. 6, 2020, 11:10 am

>198 RBeffa:, >199 johnsimpson:, >200 Caroline_McElwee:, >201 PaulCranswick:, >202 drneutron: Thanks everyone! It really feels like an accomplishment this year.

des. 6, 2020, 11:45 am


des. 6, 2020, 12:27 pm

2>204 OK, maybe not THAT big a deal....but thanks!

des. 6, 2020, 6:01 pm

>192 laytonwoman3rd: Congrats on hitting (and surpassing) 75!

des. 7, 2020, 11:13 am

Felicitations on reaching the magic number, Linda!

des. 7, 2020, 5:17 pm

>206 thornton37814:, >207 MickyFine: Thank you, Lori and Micky!

des. 7, 2020, 5:27 pm

Congratulations on reaching 75 books read thus far in 2020.

I'm been more sedentary and set aside specific times of the day to read.

I've accomplished Christmas gift shopping in the morning as I am in more pain when exposed to the cold.

I hope you have a wonderful holiday time!

des. 9, 2020, 12:27 pm

>209 Whisper1: Thanks for stopping in, Linda! I'm sorry about the pain---the cold gets even those of us with relatively few issues. Another good reason for staying inside with a book, right?

Editat: des. 10, 2020, 3:34 pm

77. Understanding Cemetery Symbols by Tui Snider So, one of the reasons I think my reading pace has been slower this year is that I spent so much time in cemeteries, taking photos for documentation It's one of those things I find fascinating, it's a service to others (genealogy research on-line through that website has helped me so much in the past and it's a surprisingly pleasant way to spend a nice spring, summer or fall afternoon. Also, the amount of local history you can pick up this way is astonishing). So. Anyway. This little handbook of symbols, grave marker and tomb styles, funeral customs, etc. is a very handy reference. Read it cover to cover, and will now keep it in that basket in my trunk along with my other "tools" for visiting cemeteries. You don't have to be peculiar to occupy yourself in this way, honest.

des. 9, 2020, 12:48 pm

>211 laytonwoman3rd: - I love that you do that, Linda! Not least because I used FindAGrave to see my mom's when plans to go up there fell through. It was very oddly comforting, and I was so grateful someone had taken the time to do it.

des. 9, 2020, 1:42 pm

>211 laytonwoman3rd: I totally get finding a stroll through a graveyard peaceful, Linda. The townhouse where Mr. Fine and I lived before we bought our current house wasn't too far from a graveyard and I loved wandering through there on an occasion as it was so quiet and really beautiful. If I'd known about uploading to FindAGrave I probably would have done it as it's exactly the kind of thing my librarian heart loves.

des. 9, 2020, 1:51 pm

>211 laytonwoman3rd: As one who dabbles in genealogy, I love it when I come across FindAGrave entries for my ancestors. It's wonderful that you are doing your bit to contribute, Linda.

>212 katiekrug: oh that made me choke up a bit, Katie.

des. 10, 2020, 2:11 pm

Congrats on reading 75, Linda.

I'm adding Skunk and Badger to the WL. I love Frog and Toad, and illustrations from Jon Kassen.

des. 10, 2020, 3:43 pm

>212 katiekrug: And, if you feel like visiting again, you can do it anytime. My parents' graves are a good hour away, so I drop in virtually on occasion. An added benefit is that, if maintenance has been a bit sloppy lately, I don't notice, because I only see the "glamour shot"!

>213 MickyFine: Full disclosure? This isn't a real recent fascination of mine. When I was a teenager, my Dad was one of the volunteers who maintained the small community cemetery in my home town (in later years he and my mother each served on its Board of Trustees, and now my brother and I do). For Memorial Day, I would often accompany him to place flags on veterans' graves, after removing the old flags for ceremonial burning. And I took high school friends on an expedition to that cemetery as part of the Really Amazing Slumber Party I hosted. And I think maybe in another life I was...or will be...a librarian. Because "the kind of thing my librarian heart loves" explains a lot about me too.

>214 lauralkeet: That's a big reason why I do it, Laura....I get a fair amount of feedback from people who message their thanks to me for adding their family members' graves to the site.

>215 jnwelch: Hi, Joe. Thanks!

Editat: des. 12, 2020, 11:15 am

78. The Blessing Way by Tony Hillerman For the AAC. This is the first in the Joe Leaphorn series, and it was a fast, engaging read. Although Leaphorn's character isn't particularly well-developed here, a good portion of the story did not involve him anyway. It was well-paced, and the Native American beliefs and practices featured were incorporated easily into the narrative, without feeling "educational". There will be more Hillerman in my reading life.

des. 12, 2020, 9:31 pm

>211 laytonwoman3rd: You don't have to be peculiar to occupy yourself in this way, honest.

...but clearly it doesn't hurt...

Editat: des. 13, 2020, 11:50 am

des. 13, 2020, 4:54 pm

Congrats on reaching 75, Linda!

I need to read Jack. I love that series. Gilead is one my all-time favorite books!

des. 13, 2020, 5:56 pm

>220 tymfos: Thank you, Terri! Gilead is just beautiful, isn't it?

Editat: des. 28, 2020, 12:39 pm

79. A Burning by Megha Majumdar
This first novel features three characters whose lives intersect in ordinary ways with tragic consequences. Jivan is a teenager living in the Kolabagan slum with her disabled father, a victim of police brutality; and her mother, who now runs a breakfast shop to keep the family together. Jivan leaves school after completing her 10th year, so as to get a job. She dreams of moving up in the world, to the comforts of a middle class life. While at school, she captures the attention of her physical education teacher, known to us only as "PT Sir", as his students respectfully refer to him. PT Sir takes note of Jivan's obvious poverty and hunger, often sharing his own lunch with her. He has ambitions of his own, to leave his middle class life and move up to something more interesting, more fulfilling, more Significant. His opportunity arises through happenstance when he comes to the attention of a rising political personality, and becomes involved in a populist movement. Lovely is a trans woman with dreams of becoming a Bollywood star. She also lives in the Kolabagan slum, and Jivan has been helping her to learn English.

Through mischance, and a bit of common teenage foolishness on the internet, Jivan is accused of involvement in a train bombing in which many people died. Both PT Sir and Lovely are potential witnesses on her behalf, and how they deal with this becomes more the focus of the story than Jivan’s ultimate fate. It is plain that PT Sir has a moral dilemma when he is faced with an opportunity to prevent an injustice. His own career may be damaged if he stands up for Jivan in court. How does he choose between improving his family’s lot, and saving a life? Lovely also must decide whether or not to testify for Jivan, because bad publicity is not welcome for a rising star. Their struggles and their choices illustrate that it is not only the criminal justice system (flawed as it may be) that holds Jivan’s life in the balance, but all of Indian society.

This novel is very well written, the characters exceptionally well-drawn, but it may have been just a bit too ambitious in taking on so many aspects of Indian culture and modern life all at once. I enjoyed the read, but felt a little let down at the end, as if all the conclusions were foregone, and the “dilemmas” were mere annoyances, not deeply affecting PT Sir or Lovely, whose lives will, as far as the reader can know, proceed as they have hoped and dreamed. Nevertheless, I will keep my eyes open for another book by this author. I expect she has more to say to us.

80. Laura by Vera Caspary
This classic murder mystery of the 1940s is a grand read, even for those of us who have spent a lot of the intervening years since its appearance reading mystery novels. We have three potentially unreliable narrators. First, an insufferable Pygmalion mourning the loss of his lovely Galatea; second, the detective assigned to solve her murder, who finds himself "falling" for a dead woman; and third...well, I can't tell you EVERYTHING, even though very little will surprise the modern reader. It's just so well written that even when you're fairly sure you have it solved, you have no inclination to put the book down.

des. 18, 2020, 8:29 am

>222 laytonwoman3rd: Oh, I hope you liked Laura! I thought it was really good, it nowhere near as great as the 1944 film, which is a true classic, and perfectly cast.

Editat: des. 18, 2020, 8:40 am

>223 Matke: I did like Laura. Although I was fairly sure of the identity of the murderer early on, and I remembered the plot twist from seeing the movie long long ago, it was an enjoyable read. Coming to it completely unaware of any of the story elements, and without 60 years' experience with mystery authors' shenanigans would have been a marvelous treat back in the day.

des. 21, 2020, 2:50 pm

Tachyon Publications, an SFF house, posted this on Twitter. Says it all, no?

des. 21, 2020, 4:22 pm

>225 richardderus: Oh, yeah. But you do know that's a c.a.t., right?

des. 21, 2020, 5:25 pm

>226 laytonwoman3rd: ...sorry...what was that about a c-a-t? No such thing exists in my field of vision.

des. 22, 2020, 4:12 pm

des. 22, 2020, 4:33 pm

Happy everything, Linda. Here's to good health, above all, and of course, good books.

des. 22, 2020, 9:43 pm

>227 richardderus: might be a wee bit disingenuous there.

>228 johnsimpson: Thank you, John!

>229 jessibud2: Oh, how appropriate, Shelley! Thank you.

Editat: gen. 31, 2021, 10:06 pm

81. Dance Hall of the Dead by Tony Hillerman The second Joe Leaphorn novel, squeezed in for the AAC. I enjoyed this one even more than the first. Leaphorn is starting to take shape as a character, and I like him. He is patient, thoughtful, doesn't resent (too much) having to work within the limited jurisdiction and authority of his position as a Navajo police officer. The puzzle this time was quite interesting, as well. Two young Native American boys, one Navajo and one Zuni, have disappeared. One is feared dead, and the other may be a suspect. Several law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and probably the DEA, are involved in searching for them, as boundaries are crossed, and drug-dealing may be a factor. I especially like the fact that Leaphorn is no superhuman cop; he hasn't been shot, beaten, or frozen half to death in every book. And he doesn't always manage to save the day. So far, he doesn't have an adversarial relationship with a superior, a substance abuse problem, or a complicated love life either. Handled well, those story elements can keep a series going, but this one doesn't need them. Maybe something else will get tiresome eventually, but at the moment, I'm really looking forward to spending more time with Leaphorn.

des. 23, 2020, 9:08 am

Merry Christmas, to you and your family, Linda. Hoping for a better 2021!

des. 23, 2020, 9:12 am

>232 msf59: Lovely, thank you Mark. I have high hopes that "all this" will be just a rugged memory by this time next year.

des. 24, 2020, 8:34 am

Or in other words, Happy Christmas! And have a great New Year as well. Here’s hoping 2021 is better than 2020.

des. 24, 2020, 11:11 am

>234 SandDune: Thank you, Rhian.

Editat: des. 24, 2020, 11:31 am

As is my custom, I will not visit individual threads, but share my wishes for the entire group here. May your holiday be safe, sane, lovely and maybe even joyous.

des. 24, 2020, 11:26 am

>236 laytonwoman3rd: - Thanks for that wish, Linda. I am also not an every-thread holiday visitor so my wish for you is on my thread :)

Merry Christmas!

des. 24, 2020, 12:39 pm

des. 24, 2020, 1:40 pm

>Thank you, Karen! Merry Christmas!

des. 24, 2020, 5:00 pm

I hope there are some treats, some relaxation, and some reading over the festive season, and that 2021 is a kinder year to everyone.

Hoping there will be some fine reads among your parcels Linda.

des. 24, 2020, 5:02 pm

>240 Caroline_McElwee: How lovely, Caroline. Thank you!

des. 24, 2020, 5:29 pm

Linda--Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

May 2021 bring you less need for masks, loads of peace and joy, good health and, of course, books!

des. 24, 2020, 10:26 pm

>242 Berly: My sentiments exactly, Kim! Merry Christmas!

des. 25, 2020, 11:19 am

I hope you get some of those at least, Linda, as we all look forward to a better 2021.

des. 25, 2020, 3:50 pm

>244 PaulCranswick: Thank you so much, Paul...those are unbeatable gifts.

des. 25, 2020, 4:20 pm

82. Mr. Rabbit's Symphony of Nature by Charles van Sandwyk I treated myself to a read of this delightful book on Christmas Eve. It was a birthday present earlier this month. Charles van Sandwyk has become a real favorite of mine. His illustrations are simply gorgeous, and any child (or adult) lucky enough to have access to his special editions is blessed indeed. Mine is from the Folio Society. He has illustrated several classics, in addition to writing his own stories, which usually praise the beauty of nature, and the wisdom of the animal kingdom. Most of his work is bound in high quality editions, befitting the quality of the art.

I happily share a few images for your pleasure:

Mr. Rabbit conducts his symphony:

Jenny Wren:

Beavers at home:

des. 25, 2020, 5:04 pm

I love Sandwyk illustrations Linda.

des. 25, 2020, 6:19 pm

>246 laytonwoman3rd: lovely illustrations Linda. Thank you for sharing those. I hope your Christmasday has been warm and happy and that there was at least one special book under the tree.

des. 25, 2020, 8:39 pm

>246 laytonwoman3rd: oh, I just love those illustrations, Linda. Thank you so much for sharing them with us.

Editat: des. 26, 2020, 9:45 am

>247 Caroline_McElwee:, >248 RBeffa:, >249 lauralkeet: It was a lovely way to bookend my 2020 reading. I don't think I'll finish the non-fiction tome I'm currently lost in (The Gulf: The Making of an American Sea) before the year is out.

des. 26, 2020, 12:32 pm

Faulkner Alert: For Christmas, I got a copy of the first volume of a new-this-year bio of Faulkner.
The Life of William Faulkner: The Past Is Never Dead, 1897–1934 by Carl Rollyson. There's a complimentary squib from Jay Parini on the jacket back. The first volume was published in May, the second in November.

des. 26, 2020, 12:40 pm

>251 weird_O: Oh, kudos to Santa Claus! If Jay Parini liked it, it must be a good one.

des. 27, 2020, 11:56 am

Happy Holidays, Linda. Congrats on reaching and surpassing 75. The Sandwyck book looks great.

des. 27, 2020, 12:22 pm

>253 BLBera: Thanks, Beth. Santa brought me another Sandwyck! So I may add to my 2020 reading total after all.

Editat: des. 29, 2020, 5:56 pm

83. Recollections of Auton House by Augustus Hoppin a/k/a C. Auton

A sort of memoir of a prosperous New England childhood by the ninth of 12 "Autons" identified only by first initials, "C. Auton" being the pseudonym of the author, Augustus Hoppin. There are nurses and cooks, shenanigans and near-catastrophes, a perfectly loved mother who suffered chronic dyspepsia, and plenty of humor somewhat along the lines of Cheaper By the Dozen or My Family and Other Animals. Not too sure about the "a book for children" subtitle. It's very very 19th century in style and subject matter (published in 1884, set sometime before the Civil War,) and peppered with on-the-page "air quotes" that drove me crazy. Still, I rather enjoyed it. Finely illustrated with Hoppin's pen-and-ink drawings, the physical book is an impressive piece of work, although my ex-library copy is a bit worse for age and wear.
A little research has informed me that Auton House was in Rhode Island, that Mother Auton's father was Governor William Jones of that state, and that many of the young scoundrels grew up to be doctors, lawyers, or merchants like their father. Augustus himself was a noted illustrator. I'll just keep this novelty on my shelves.

des. 30, 2020, 4:23 pm

Happy New Year Linda.

des. 30, 2020, 8:04 pm

>256 johnsimpson: Thank you, John!

Editat: des. 31, 2020, 10:09 pm

84. Letters from Fairyland by Charles van Sandwyk This is a delightful small volume, mostly illustrations, with a tiny envelope and note or letter attached to several of the pages. The correspondence between the author/artist and His Imperial Majesty Watson Wimplewort Rex provides the simple story of the King's request for a portrait, and the fulfillment of that request. Just lovely. An elegant companion to van Sandwyk's How to See Fairies, and a perfect lead-in to my January read for the British Authors Challenge, which will be Peter Pan.

So, that's a wrap of my reading for 2020. It wasn't my best year, either in numbers or selections, but there were some fine moments. I finally got 'round to introducing myself to Wendell Berry's fiction, and damn, he's good. I re-visited Marilynne Robinson's Gilead novels, and read her latest, Jack, which purportedly completes the cycle (I say we need one more). I escaped wretched reality with a few Longmire, Hal Challis, and Leaphorn adventures; enjoyed the loveliness of Charles van Sandwyk, and removed more books from the house than I brought in (for the first time since I started counting such things). I read only 84 books total, when my average over the last several years has been 100 or more. I read more female authors than male authors, 47/38, again a first since I've been keeping track (I'm usually very close to 50/50 without trying). I Pearl-ruled 6 books, which is between 6 and 7% of those I started. I didn't read nearly as many non-fiction works as I would have liked, but then my concentration wasn't at peak levels a lot of the time.

I've started my first thread for 2021 here. You're all welcome to come visit, although there won't be much happening for a few more days.

des. 30, 2020, 11:34 pm is the link you want for 2021.

des. 31, 2020, 1:26 am

Time to take out the trash!

des. 31, 2020, 9:56 pm


As the year turns, friendship continues

des. 31, 2020, 10:10 pm

>259 RBeffa: Yup, and that's exactly what it says I posted the first time. Don't know why it didn't work, but it's fixed now. Thanks for catching it, Ron.

Editat: gen. 1, 2021, 11:28 am

>260 weird_O: I really hope that works, Bill!

>261 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul.

gen. 1, 2021, 11:30 am

Once more before I close this one down, here's the link to the AAC Challenge General Discussion for 2021. It will be updated with links to each monthly thread as they go up.

Happy 2021, everybody! See you over here.