Leslie Detects 2021

En/na Leslie Detects Part 2 ha continuat aquest tema.

Converses2021 Category Challenge

Afegeix-te a LibraryThing per participar.

Leslie Detects 2021

Editat: des. 31, 2020, 6:25pm

Hi, my name is Leslie and I am a bookworm! However, I do find that I have run out of steam on these challenges several years in the past so I am trying to be less structured, more 'go with the flow' this year.

My theme for 2021 is fictional detectives. I have read so many mysteries in my lifetime that there were far too many 'favorite' detectives from my own reading to use them all, so I will probably swap them out when & if it becomes time for a new thread!

My overall reading goals are fairly straightforward:

·To read as many of my already owned books as I can, hopefully 80+ books owned as of Dec. 31, 2020
·To read 25+ new-to-me books from the Guardian's list
·To continue (and perhaps finish) the several series I have been working on

My categories are subject to change before the New Year comes around but here is what I have so far:

Sherlock Holmes – books from the Guardian’s list
Thursday Next – sci fi & fantasy
Hercule Poirot – mysteries
Nancy Drew – children’s & YA books
Chief Inspector Armand Gamache - ROOTs
Amelia Peabody – historical fiction
Inspector Maigret – books in translation
Miss Silver - rereads
Philip Marlowe – classics challenge
Kinsey Millhone – CATs & KITs
Tommy & Tuppence (Beresford) – Group reads & BingoDOG

Editat: gen. 29, 3:15pm

tickers & rating info

My attempt to define my rating system:
I rate by gut reaction & sometimes I will go back and change a book’s rating after some time has passed, based on how it has (or has not) stuck with me. Thus books that I enjoyed at the time may end up lower down on the scale if they are forgettable while books that I didn’t care for very much may rise up in the ratings if they strike me as significant in some way (even if I didn’t like them).

0.5 ★: Utter waste of paper and ink; should never have been written.
1.0 ★: Couldn't finish reading or a very poor read.
1.5 ★: Major disappointment.
2.0 ★: It was OK but either the writing or the plot was lacking.
2.5 ★: Flawed in some way but still enjoyable
3.0 ★: Good, a solid read that I finished but can't promise to remember
3.5 ★: Above Average, there's room for improvement but I liked this well enough to pick up another book by this author.
4.0 ★: A very good read; a book that I think will last
4.5 ★: An excellent read, a book I will remember, recommend and probably reread
5.0 ★: A powerful book, either because it was the right book at the right time for me or because it will stay with me for a long time to come

Some symbols & abbreviations:
·Books with an asterisk (*) are from The Guardian's List of 1000 Novels Everyone Should Read
·Authors with a capital N (ℕ) are Nobel Laureates in Literature
·books sourced as MOB are from my own bookcases; SYNC refers to audiobooks acquired (for free) through the annual summer program hosted by http://www.audiobooksync.com/; APll refers to Kindle books borrowed from the Amazon Prime lending library; libraries not my local one: BPL=Boston Public Library, OCLN=Old Colony Library Network; CLAMS=Cape Library Automated Materials Sharing; NOBLE=North of Boston Library Exchange; CW MARS=Central and Western MAssachusetts Resource Sharing; MVLC=Merrimac Valley Library Consortium; MLN=Minuteman Library Network; SAILS=Southeastern Automated Integrated Library System

Editat: març 31, 1:10pm

Sherlock Holmes - Guardian's List

Since Arthur Conan Doyle's detective Sherlock Holmes appears several times in the Guardian's list, it seems only fitting that this extremely famous fictional detective represent this category.

The goal is to read at least 25 new-to-me books from The Guardian's List of 1000 Novels Everyone Should Read. This includes books in series that count as a single entry in the list (such as the Discworld series or Balzac's Human Comedy).

Note: Books from Balzac's The Human Comedy are donoted by a diamond ♦

1. No Country for Old Men (1/2)
2. The Bonfire of the Vanities (1/27)
3. ♦The Magic Skin (2/3)
4. ♦Study of a Woman (2/25)
5. The Secret History (3/19)
6. The Count of Monte Cristo (3/24)
7. ♦Ursula (3/31)

These books don't count towards this goal but since they are books from the Guardian's list, it feels natural to note them here.
1. Thank You, Jeeves (2/5)
2. King Solomon's Mines (2/28)
3. The Three Musketeers (3/8)

Editat: març 28, 11:56pm

Miss Silver - Rereads

I have found that I have been rereading a fair amount in the past year or so - sometimes returning to old favorites and at other times rereading books I know that I read back in school but no longer really remember.

Miss Maud Silver, from the books by Patricia Wentworth, is the professional counterpart to Christie's Miss Marple. She is a professional private detective but has much in common with Miss Marple, including the ability to get people to talk. She is a great choice for this category since I have read all (or almost all) of the Miss Silver series and am about ready to start rereading them!

The Conquering Family (1/17)
Wives and Daughters (1/22)
Poirot Investigates (1/30)
The Miser (1/30)
Watery Grave (1/31)

Last Ditch (2/2)
*Thank You, Jeeves (2/5)
Cotillion (2/13)
A Civil Contract (2/14)
Agent of Change (2/14)
Carpe Diem (2/15)
Plan B (2/16)
I Dare (2/16)
Ghost Ship (2/17)
Necessity's Child (2/17)
Dragon in Exile (2/18)
Alliance of Equals (2/19)
Neogenesis (2/20)
Accepting the Lance (2/21)
Balance of Trade (2/22)
Trade Secret (2/23)
Conflict of Honors (2/24)
Third Girl (2/24)
The Small Bachelor (2/28)
*King Solomon's Mines (2/28)

The Talisman Ring (audiobook edition) (3/1)
The Genocidal Healer (3/2)
*The Three Musketeers (3/8)
The Unfinished Clue (3/14)
Money in the Bank (3/17)
Send a Fax to the Kasbah (3/21)
*The Count of Monte Cristo (3/24)
The Teeth of the Tiger (3/28)
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (3/28)

Editat: març 28, 7:22pm

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache - ROOTs

This category is familiar to most of you - to read as many of my already owned books as I can - hopefully more than the number of new books I get but at least 80.

Chief Inspector Gamache is actually not such an appropriate pick for reading those already owned but unread books since a) I only own a handful of Penny's books and b) I have read them all. However, I love the Three Pines series and wanted to include him so here he is...

List of books is available in my thread in the 2021 ROOT group:

New books obtained: 10, 3 of which have been read (this list is also available at the above link to the 2021 ROOT thread)

Editat: març 27, 4:09pm

Hercule Poirot - Mysteries

I have way too many mysteries sitting unread on my Kindle and in other media as well (though I have made tremendous progress in reading my print mysteries). And who better to represent this category but Hercule Poirot, created by one of the most prolific mystery writers of the Golden (or indeed, any) Age.

Here is where my work on series will be tracked and I think I will follow what I ended up doing in 2020 with the miscellaneous mysteries.

List of series books:
Winemaker Detective series by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen
Late Harvest Havoc (2/7)
Tainted Tokay (3/20)

Henry Gamadge series by Elizabeth Daly
The Book of the Dead (1/23)
Any Shape or Form (2/26)
Somewhere in the House (3/12)

Maigret series by Georges Simenon (added series March 2021)
A Man's Head (3/3)

Miscellaneous mysteries read in March:
The Fifth Man (3/9)
1222 (3/11)
The Unfinished Clue (3/14)
*The Secret History (3/19)
Moroccan Traffic (3/21)
The Burning Court (3/27)

Editat: març 31, 9:31pm

Thursday Next - Science Fiction & Fantasy

The Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde is hilarious! A marvelous blend of fantasy, mystery, humor and bibliophilia which I heartily recommend to all.

In particular, I hope to finish up some sci fi series that I have started (or, I suppose, decide to abandon them!) and to read some of the sci fi books that have been hanging out on my Kindle for a while.

The Princess Bride (1/28)
The Stone Sky (1/30)

Interview with the Robot(2/6)
Agent of Change (2/14)
Carpe Diem (2/15)
Plan B (2/16)
I Dare (2/16)
Ghost Ship (2/17)
Necessity's Child (2/17)
Dragon in Exile (2/18)
Alliance of Equals (2/19)
Neogenesis (2/20)
Accepting the Lance (2/21)
Trader's Leap (2/21)
Balance of Trade (2/22)
Trade Secret (2/23)
Conflict of Honors (2/24)

Code Blue - Emergency (3/2)
The Genocidal Healer (3/2)
Red Rising (3/5)
Golden Son (3/12)
The Lost Diadem (3/13)
Morning Star (3/16)
Trading in Futures (3/28)
Changeling (3/28)
Redliners (3/31)

Editat: març 31, 1:58pm

Inspector Maigret - Books in translation

Inspector Maigret is the protagonist of Belgian author Georges Simenon. Discovering him in my 20s was the first time I realized that "foreign" books (i.e. books in translation) didn't have to be highbrow literature but could be fun books!

P.S. from Paris French
Asterix and Cleopatra French
The Miser French (reread)

*The Magic Skin French
Late Harvest Havoc French
Les Liaisons Dangereuses (abridged) French
*Study of a Woman French

A Man's Head French
*The Three Musketeers French
Asterix and the Normans French
1222 Norwegian
*The Count of Monte Cristo French
*Ursula French

Editat: març 31, 1:12pm

Amelia Peabody Emerson - Historical Fiction

I haven't had a category for historical fiction in several years but with the HistoryCAT in 2021, I foresee more historical fiction in my future :)

Note added in January: I have decided I will put nonfiction history here too; I'll mark them with a dagger †.

Asterix and Cleopatra (1/13) - 1st century B.C.
The Conquering Family (1/17) - 12th century A.D.
Henry VI, Part 1 (1/22) - 15th century A.D.
Watery Grave (1/31) - 1769 A.D.

A Red Death (2/6) - 1953 A.D.
King Henry VI, Part 2 (2/7) - 15th century A.D.
Cotillion (2/13) - early 19th century A.D.
A Civil Contract (2/14) - 1814 & 1815 A.D.

*The Three Musketeers (3/8) - 1620s A.D.
Hamnet (3/8) - late 16th century (~1580-1598?) A.D.
Asterix and the Normans (3/10) - 50 B.C.
Henry VI, Part 3 (3/13) - 15th century A.D.
The Other Boleyn Girl (3/30) - 16th century A.D. (1522-1536)

Editat: març 28, 11:57pm

Nancy Drew - Children's and Young Adult books

Asterix and Cleopatra (1/13)
Meet the Sky (1/27)
The Princess Bride (1/28)

Interview with the Robot (2/6)

Asterix and the Normans (3/10)
The Lost Diadem (3/13)
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats (3/28)

Editat: març 31, 1:14pm

Philip Marlowe - Classics challenge
As in past years, all books MUST have been published at least 50 years ago to qualify. The only exception is books written at least 50 years ago, but published later, such as posthumous publications.

copied in 2018 from Claire (on Goodreads) who got it from:

1. A 19th century classic - any book published between 1800 and 1899.
--- *The Three Musketeers (1844) by Alexandre Dumas (3/8)

2. A 20th century classic - any book published between 1900 and 1971.
--- The Conquering Family (1949) by Thomas B. Costain (1/17)

3. A classic by a woman author.
--- Wives and Daughters (1863) by Elizabeth Gaskell (1/22)

4. A classic in translation. Any book originally written published in a language other than your native language. Feel free to read the book in your language or the original language. (You can also read books in translation for any of the other categories). Modern translations are acceptable as long as the original work fits the guidelines for publications as explained in the challenge rules.
--- *The Magic Skin (1831) by Honoré de Balzac

5. A children's classic. Indulge your inner child and read that classic that you somehow missed years ago. Short stories are fine, but it must be a complete volume. Young adult and picture books don't count!
--- Asterix and Cleopatra (1965) by René Goscinny (1/13)

6. A classic crime story, fiction or non-fiction. This can be a true crime story, mystery, detective novel, spy novel, etc., as long as a crime is an integral part of the story and it was published at least 50 years ago. Examples include The 39 Steps, Strangers on a Train, In Cold Blood, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, etc. The Haycraft-Queen Cornerstones list is an excellent source for suggestions.
--- The Book of the Dead (1944) by Elizabeth Daly (1/23)

7. A classic travel or journey narrative, fiction or non-fiction. The journey itself must be the major plot point -- not just the destination. Good examples include The Hobbit, Around the World in 80 Days, Unbeaten Tracks in Japan, Kon-Tiki, Travels with Charley, etc.
--- Three Men on the Bummel (1900) by Jerome K. Jerome (2/12)

8. A classic with a single-word title. No articles please! Proper names are fine -- Emma, Germinal, Middlemarch, Kidnapped, etc.
--- Ursula (1841) by Honoré de Balzac (3/31)

9. A classic with a color in the title. The Woman in White; Anne of Green Gables; The Red and the Black, and so on. (Silver, gold, etc. are acceptable. Basically, if it's a color in a Crayola box of crayons, it's fine!)

  possible owned books to read: The Red Room

10. A classic by an author that's new to you. Choose an author you've never read before.

  possible owned books to read: The Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen

11. A classic that scares you. Is there a classic you've been putting off forever? A really long book which intimidates you because of its sheer length? Now's the time to read it, and hopefully you'll be pleasantly surprised!

  possible owned books to read: Les Liaisons Dangereuses

12. Re-read a favorite classic. Like me, you probably have a lot of favorites -- choose one and read it again, then tell us why you love it so much.
--- The Miser (1668) by Molière (1/30)

Editat: març 31, 11:12pm

Kinsey Millhone - CATS and KITs

Sue Grafton's alphabetical series just seemed the right fit for the AlphaKIT, and by extension, all the CATs & KITs.

AlphaKIT: R & U

Red Rising (3/5)
The Unfinished Clue (3/14)
*Ursula (3/31)
Redliners (3/31)

HistoryCAT: 1500-1800 A.D.
*The Three Musketeers (3/8)
Hamnet (3/8)
The Other Boleyn Girl (3/30)

GenreCAT: Adventure & Action
The Talisman Ring (3/1)
Code Blue - Emergency (3/2)
*The Three Musketeers (3/8)
The Fifth Man (3/9)
Moroccan Traffic (3/21)
*The Count of Monte Cristo (3/24)
Dead or Alive (3/27)
The Teeth of the Tiger (3/28)
Redliners (3/31)

RandomCAT: Surprise
H.M.S. Surprise (3/15)

SFFKit: Fortune & Glory
Morning Star (3/16)

MysteryKIT: Locked Room
1222 (3/11)
The Burning Court (3/27)

Editat: març 27, 4:14pm

Tommy & Tuppence Beresford - Group Reads & BingoDOG

Since Tommy & Tuppence work together, they seemed ideal to represent the category for books that we read together :)

Wives and Daughters (1/22) (reread), group read over at Goodreads
*The Three Musketeers (3/8) (reread), group read over at Goodreads
Hamnet (3/8), group read over at Goodreads

I have decided to move the BingoDOG here as well as I don't read that many group reads...


1. Nature or environment: Meet the Sky (1/27)
2. Title describes you: Educated (2/25)
3. Contains a love story: P.S. from Paris (1/12)
4. You heartily recommend: The Stone Sky (1/30)
5. Impulse read: The Small Bachelor (2/28)
6. Suggested by another generation: The Book of the Dead (1/23) (series suggested by my mother)
7. About time or time word in title: Morning Star (3/16)
8. By or about a marginalized group: A Red Death (2/6) (black men)
9. 20 or fewer LT members: The Lost Diadem (3/13) (4 members including myself)
10. Classical element in the title: Watery Grave (1/31)
11. Set somewhere you'd like to visit: *The Magic Skin (2/3) (Paris, France)
12. Dark or light word in title:
13. Read a CAT or KIT: Murder in the Queen's Armes (1/10) (January AlphaKIT)
14. New to you author: Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon (1/5)
15. Arts & Recreation: A Prefect's Uncle (1/24) (lots of cricket)
17. Type of building in the title: The Burning Court (3/27)
18. Less than 200 pages: Henry VI, Part 1 (1/22) (144 pgs)
19. 2 or more authors: Late Harvest Havoc (2/7) by Jean-Pierre Alaux & Noël Balen
20. Character you'd be friends with: *Thank You, Jeeves (2/5) (Bertie Wooster)
21. One word title: Hamnet (3/8)
22. About history or alternate history: The Conquering Family (1/17)
23. Book that made you laugh: Asterix and Cleopatra (1/13)
25. About or contains magic: The Princess Bride (1/28)

nov. 17, 2020, 4:22pm

>3 leslie.98: I have also been working through the Guardian 1000 list and look forward to seeing which books you read from it in 2021.

nov. 17, 2020, 5:05pm

>14 pamelad: It is a monster list which I will never finish so it is a perennial category for me. Perhaps we can find some books of interest to buddy read from it some day!

Editat: nov. 17, 2020, 5:20pm

>15 leslie.98: Good idea. I have no plans to finish it either. It's a good source of books, but there are some impossibilities. Finnegan's Wake?

nov. 17, 2020, 6:47pm

I love your "fictional detectives" theme! And count me in as another fan of the Thursday Next series. :)

nov. 17, 2020, 6:54pm

Nice set up! Hope less structured is what will work for you.

Editat: nov. 17, 2020, 7:13pm

Thanks >17 christina_reads:. Jasper Fforde is an underrated author in my opinion - glad to see another fan!

>18 majkia: Thanks but, as usual, I got carried away when I started setting up my thread. Hopefully I can keep the 'less structured' idea in mind as the year progresses!

>16 pamelad: Oh my! Finnegan's Wake is a book that I think reading with a buddy or group would help and I do have a copy of the book but it is very intimidating to me. Tenatively I will say yes but be aware that I might chicken out.

nov. 17, 2020, 7:13pm

Yay, Leslie's here! :D I love this theme, especially Gamache and Poirot! I'm two books behind: next up for me is A Better Man.

nov. 17, 2020, 7:18pm

>20 rabbitprincess: Hey there! I have actually been a member of the group since you set up your Talking Heads theme but couldn't come up with a theme of my own. This one sprung into being today and now I can't understand why it never occurred to me before :D

Re: Three Pines - I read A Better Man this year so I am slightly ahead of you. I put in my hold at the library (well, all the libraries) for the Kindle edition & there were so many people waiting that by the time it came in, I had almost forgotten I had put the hold!

nov. 17, 2020, 7:59pm

>19 leslie.98: Finnegan's Wake is one of the reasons why it's impossible for me to read the whole list! Rest easy.

nov. 17, 2020, 8:15pm

Great theme!! I'm looking forward to following along!

nov. 17, 2020, 8:33pm

Very creative!

nov. 17, 2020, 9:48pm

nov. 17, 2020, 11:44pm

I love a good mystery and most of your chosen detectives are favorites of mine as well, so I feel right at home here.

nov. 18, 2020, 4:58am

I love the set-up, so many great detectives here! I've also got the Guardian list saved somewhere, once or twice a year I check to see if I have made any progress. I find it much more inspiring than the other 1001 list. May I borrow the classics challenge, please?

nov. 18, 2020, 5:30am

That's a brilliant set up, I love it! I also really like Thursday Next, and I'd like to get his new book too (The Constant Rabbit).

nov. 18, 2020, 7:12am

I love your setup! I'm only afraid that many more books will arrive on the horizon that I'll be interested in.

>20 rabbitprincess: ->21 leslie.98: - I'm only up to Glass Houses so even a couple more behind than you two. I'm hoping to remedy that this year.

Editat: nov. 18, 2020, 7:44pm

Wonderful theme! I love mysteries so I will be avidly following your reading for BBs and new authors. (ETA new to me authors, that is.)

nov. 18, 2020, 9:51pm

>26 DeltaQueen50: Glad to have you feeling at home :) You venture into the more noir/gritty side of mysteries much more than I do so I am happy to hear we share favorites!

>27 MissWatson: Thanks! Feel free to copy the classics challenge - as you can see, it isn't original with me. I started off thinking I would design my 2021 thread around it since it is conveniently 12 challenges.

>28 Jackie_K: Always happy to welcome a fellow Thursday Next fan! I didn't realize that Fforde had a new book - I'll have to add that to my library wish list.

>29 dudes22: LOL! That of course is always the downside to the social aspects of reading *grin*. Enjoy your time in Three Pines!

>30 VivienneR: So many mysteries and so little reading time... Hope that you discover a couple of great new reads here - or, on the flip side, discover some to avoid (not too many of those, fingers crossed),

nov. 19, 2020, 12:01pm

What a great set-up and love all the graphics you chose! Good luck, and I may copy that Classics Challenge--it sounds like just what I need for incentive.

nov. 19, 2020, 12:59pm

Thanks & copy away >32 kac522:! One aspect of that challenge that appeals to me is the wide variety of classics that it covers. And with its 50-year rule, many books that I personally would consider modern are included - just shows how old I have become *grin*

nov. 20, 2020, 8:55am

Such a nice set up. Love the pictures, especially Thursday Next. Happy reading 2021!

nov. 20, 2020, 10:35am

des. 4, 2020, 1:14pm

Love your detective categories and looking forward to seeing how you fill them.

des. 4, 2020, 9:28pm

>36 thornton37814: It will be fun, at least for me!

des. 5, 2020, 10:43am

What a perfect challenge! Love the pictures! Can't wait to see how your year goes!

des. 5, 2020, 10:46am

Thanks >38 mysterymax: - here's hoping 2021 will be an improvement on 2020.

des. 5, 2020, 7:08pm

>39 leslie.98: I think we all hope 2021 will be better.

Great categories and illustrations.

des. 6, 2020, 10:59pm

So true >40 hailelib:. Good reading to you in the upcoming year!

des. 31, 2020, 5:45pm

I love your idea to be less structured and 'go with the flow' this year and your fictional detectives theme. Even better, I have read books or heard about most of the detectives (although Miss Silver is a new one, for me). Looking forward to following your 2021 reading!

des. 31, 2020, 6:11pm

>42 lkernagh: What Lori said. Philip Marlowe is one of my absolute favorites.

gen. 5, 1:00am

I guess that I can blame my neglect of this thread for almost a week on my 'go with the flow' philosophy but actually my cell phone died and I spent too much time trying to get it functional before buying a new phone. :/
Then of course I had to customize the new phone etc.

>42 lkernagh: Oh, if you like Golden Age mysteries you should definitely check out Patricia Wentworth's Miss Silver series!

>43 Crazymamie: Marlowe is great - I am not generally a fan of the hard-boiled PI mystery but Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler are such great writers that they make me doubt my own preferences!

gen. 5, 5:56am

>44 leslie.98: My landline and internet disappeared for five days recently and I realised how dependent I am on it even for food shopping (there's no mobile reception here), so I feel for you with phone troubles.

gen. 5, 12:57pm

>45 spiralsheep: Yeah - I had thought of myself as someone who didn't use their cell very much and was shocked by how panicked I felt when I suddenly was without one. I can't imagine losing both phone & internet for 5 days!

gen. 5, 1:06pm

1. *No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy (2005)
Audiobook narrated by Tom Stechschulte (Audible); 309 pgs; finished 1/2; 2.5*
ROOT: Audiobook owned since Jan. 2019
Guardian's List

From the book blurb:
"Llewelyn Moss, hunting antelope near the Rio Grande, instead finds men shot dead, a load of heroin, and more than $2 million in cash. Packing the money out, he knows, will change everything. But only after two more men are murdered does a victim's burning car lead Sheriff Bell to the carnage out in the desert, and he soon realizes how desperately Moss and his young wife need protection. One party in the failed transaction hires an ex-Special Forces officer to defend his interests against a mesmerizing freelancer, while on either side are men accustomed to spectacular violence and mayhem. The pursuit stretches up and down and across the border, each participant seemingly determined to answer what one asks another: how does a man decide in what order to abandon his life? A harrowing story of a war that society is waging on itself, and an enduring meditation on the ties of love and blood and duty that inform lives and shape destinies, No Country for Old Men is a novel of extraordinary resonance and power."

My thoughts:
Besides being the kind of crime story I am not particularly fond of, there was too much pontificating especially towards the end...

gen. 5, 1:30pm

>47 leslie.98: I'm not fond of drugs/noir type mysteries either.

gen. 6, 8:59am

>47 leslie.98: I've been on again-off again about whether to read this. I'm not into reading about drugs at all nor about dark noir. I think I'll give this a pass even though the LT rating is 4+.

As an aside, there is a movie of the book starring Tommy Lee Jones. However, I read that the initial star was to be Clint Eastwood, but after initially verbally agreeing to star, he pulled out as he didn't feel up physically to it. It's hard to believe that Eastwood is now 90 years old, so he would have been 77 when the movie was made.

gen. 6, 11:00pm

>48 thornton37814: & >49 Tess_W: Glad to hear from others to whom this type of crime novel doesn't appeal - sometimes I feel like my taste is old-fashioned. I might have been slightly harsher about this book than I would have been because I read another crime/noir novel in late December (The Friends of Eddie Coyle by George Higgins); it was also not my style but it was a better novel in my opinion - fairly fast paced & none of the pontificating I mentioned in my review of No Country for Old Men.

>49 Tess_W: I know - Clint Eastwood remains in my head as he was in "Unforgiven" or perhaps "Million Dollar Baby" so it is hard to remember he is so old now!

Editat: gen. 13, 11:52am

2. Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon (1992)
Kindle book (gift); 338 pgs; finished 1/5; 4*
Gamache (ROOTs): book owned since Dec. 2019
Poirot (Mysteries)
Tommy & Tuppence: BingoDOG Square #14: New to you author

From the book blurb:
"Death at La Fenice is the first novel in Donna Leon’s internationally best-selling Commissario Guido Brunetti series. During intermission at the famed La Fenice opera house in Venice, a notoriously difficult conductor is poisoned, and suspects abound. Brunetti, a native Venetian, sets out to unravel the mystery behind the high-profile murder. To do so, he he calls on his knowledge of Venice, its culture, and its dirty politics. Revenge, corruption, and even Italian cuisine play a role. The novel that started it all, Death at La Fenice is an entrancing mystery, rich in atmosphere."

My thoughts:
I quite enjoyed this first book in the Brunetti series (even though I figured out a good portion of the solution). I look forward to reading more of Leon's mysteries.

I may end up using this book for January's MysteryKIT (Water) since Venice is a city filled with water but for now I am hoping to find a better fit before the month's end.

gen. 7, 2:24am

>51 leslie.98: sounds like a great one I'm going to put on my wish list!

gen. 7, 5:51pm

>52 Tess_W: Hope you like it! I can't believe that it took me so long to get around to trying this author, especially since both of my folks had been reading this series for years.

gen. 8, 2:08am

>47 leslie.98: This sounds like a book that I would like to read and I did love the movie. So far, I have loved every Cormac McCarthy that I have read, but he's certainly not for everyone, as he doesn't hesitate to dish out the violence in very descriptive and bloody language.

gen. 8, 8:21pm

>47 leslie.98: It wasn't really the violence that bothered me but if you have enjoyed his other books, you will probably like this one too.

gen. 8, 8:23pm

My apologies for being mostly absent these days - I am enraged by the events that have been taking place in my country (the U.S.) and have been glued to the news lately. My mind is not in a place to concentrate on reading at the moment!

gen. 8, 9:20pm

>57 kac522: Join the crowd, Leslie. I haven't read a page (except online!) since Monday. Tuesday I was following the Georgia senate voting returns and then there was Wednesday.

I can only say that I have been thinking quite a bit of all the people in my life (my parents, some of my aunts and uncles, some friends) who are no longer with us, and am so grateful that they did not have to witness this sad, sad turn of events.

I'm going to read a little bit more on LT, and hopefully get back to my books this evening. If I can muster that, I'm on my way to a little bit of healing.

gen. 8, 9:58pm

>56 leslie.98:
>57 kac522:

Also, unable to read.

gen. 11, 12:00am

>57 kac522: I also have been grateful that my parents have been spared from this & from COVID. However, I find myself often wishing that I could get their perspective on what to do as they were both more politically active and savvy than I am!

>58 Tess_W: What does it say that I am glad to hear others are also suffering from this? I wish that none of us had to but am glad to know that I am not alone.

gen. 11, 12:07am

After I found myself hearing the same news rehashed for the third or fourth time, I forced myself to take a break from watching it. I have a new understanding of how Trump's supporters became radicalized - I could feel it happening to me as I went from one station to another that reinforced my own opinion. While my outrage at these events hasn't cooled much, I have decided to return to my previous habit of only watching the PBS Newshour (and my local news). PBS informs me without inflaming my emotions - something I feel the need for at the moment!! I have also subscribe to my local newspaper's e-edition which again keeps me informed without stoking my anger.

Editat: gen. 13, 11:53am

Having reached the above decision, I had time to fill with reading. It took a couple of starts to get into my Kindle book but finally the magic of reading took hold & I could enjoy it. Thus I have finished book #3 for 2021:

3. Murder in the Queen's Armes by Aaron Elkins (1985)
Kindle book (Amazon Prime lending library); 208 pgs; finished 1/10; 3.5*
Poirot (Mysteries)
Millhone: AlphaKIT January: P & M
Tommy & Tuppence: BingoDOG Square #13 - Read a CAT or KIT

from the book blurb:
"The third novel in the Edgar Award-winning Gideon Oliver series--now with an eye-catching new package. No sooner do the anthropologist and his bride check into the Queen's Armes than a mystery gets underfoot at a nearby dig. A battered body is discovered instead of the anticipated Bronze Age relic..."

My thoughts:
I don't know why but I delight in mysteries that involve archeology so Elkins' series is a great fit for me. This book was also a good "palate cleanser" for me after several days immersed in upsetting TV news.

gen. 11, 1:39pm

>61 leslie.98: Yes! The Gideon Oliver series is great. One of them won the Edgar award for best mystery.

And all I'm able to read is light, funny fiction.

gen. 11, 6:10pm

>60 leslie.98: I have decided to return to my previous habit of only watching the PBS Newshour (and my local news)

Exactly my regimen as well. Judy Woodruff is a jewel. Occasionally I check the NPR website when I want to read something in depth, which I actually prefer to listening to NPR on the radio.

gen. 11, 8:15pm

>63 kac522: Oh, I also listen to my local NPR radio station as well as checking my NPR news app on my phone. But as with you, I prefer to actually listen to NPR rather than reading it.

I am old enough to remember when Judy Woodruff was on Frontline and the PBS Newshour was the MacNeil Lehrer Newshour - back then it bored me but was a favorite of my dad's. I guess that it is true that people tend to turn into their parents!! LOL!

gen. 11, 8:23pm

>62 NinieB: I am finding that even though I am again reading, I am very sensitive to anything that resonates with the current situation. So the fantasy book that I started in December (and put aside during the holidays) now no longer appeals to me, partly because I happened to pick it up just as a young girl was being raped and partly because the fictional society had some unpleasant connotations in light of the what is happening here in the U.S.

Better to read something that is a relief from the stress of the news or something that teaches me something - in that choice, light-hearted books will win with me any day!

gen. 13, 11:52am

4. P.S. from Paris (https://www.librarything.com/work/15920713/book/195097175) by Marc Levy (2015), translated by Sam Taylor
Kindle book (Amazon); 290 pgs; finished 1/12; 3.5*
Gamache (ROOTs): Kindle book owned since Aug. 2017
Maigret (translations): Translated from French
Millhone: AlphaKIT January - P & M
Tommy & Tuppence: BingoDOG Square #3 - contains a love story

I don't know why this book isn't showing up in Touchstones but I have given the link to the book page.

From the book blurb:
"From Marc Levy, the most-read French author alive today, comes a modern-day love story between a famous actress hiding in Paris and a bestselling writer lying to himself. They knew their friendship was going to be complicated, but love—and the City of Lights—just might find a way.

On the big screen, Mia plays a woman in love. But in real life, she’s an actress in need of a break from her real-life philandering husband—the megastar who plays her romantic interest in the movies. So she heads across the English Channel to hide in Paris behind a new haircut, fake eyeglasses, and a waitressing job at her best friend’s restaurant.

Paul is an American author hoping to recapture the fame of his first novel. When his best friend surreptitiously sets him up with Mia through a dating website, Paul and Mia’s relationship status is “complicated.”

Even though everything about Paris seems to be nudging them together, the two lonely ex-pats resist, concocting increasingly far-fetched strategies to stay “just friends.” A feat easier said than done, as fate has other plans in store. Is true love waiting for them in a postscript?"

My thoughts:
Nice light romance - just the sort of reading I was talking about in the above post. I liked the subplot involving Kyong too.

Editat: gen. 24, 5:39pm

5. Asterix and Cleopatra by René Goscinny (1965), illustrated by Albert Uderzo, translated by Anthea Bell & Derek Hockridge
ebook (Open Library); 48 pgs; finished 1/13; 4*
Maigret: Translated from French
Tommy & Tuppence: BingoDOG Square #23 - Book that made you laugh
Marlowe (Classics challenge): #5 - a children's classic
Amelia Peabody (historical fiction): set in 1st century B.C.
Nancy Drew (children & YA books)
Millhone: RandomCAT January - humor

From the book blurb:
"How can lovely Queen Cleopatra show Julius Caesar that ancient Egypt is still a great nation? Her architect Edifis recruits his Gaulish friends to help him build a magnificent palace within three months. There are villainous saboteurs to be outwitted, but Asterix, Obelix and Getafix still find time to go sight-seeing -- and leave their mark on the Pyramids and the Sphinx's nose."

My thoughts:
Continuing in my light reading vein, I decided to read another entry in the Asterix series -- as hilarious as I have come to expect from Goscinny. And again, Uderzo's artwork is amazing.

gen. 14, 3:18pm

I am abandoning a book I started in December. Because I didn't finish it or rate it, I am not giving it a number here.

Soul of the Fire by Terry Goodkind (1999)
ebook (Hoopla); 802 pgs; abandoned 1/14; no rating

From the book blurb:
"Richard and Kahlan are finally married and enjoying their wedding night back in the Spirit House in the Village of the Mud People. Soon, sudden and unexplainable deaths begin to occur, and Richard comes to the conclusion that when Kahlan called forth the Chimes in order to save him, they remained free, causing havoc. Zedd sends Richard and Kahlan off to the Wizard’s Keep in Aydindril to get a special bottle that contains a spell that will stop the threat. While en-route, Richard, Kahlan, and their Mord-Sith protector Cara are sidetracked into dealing with the people of Anderith, who have a powerful weapon of mass destruction called the Dominie Dirtch. They find that the leadership of Anderith wishes to surrender to the Imperial Order rather than surrender to the D’Haran Empire. As Richard tries his best to convince the people of Anderith of the danger the Imperial Order poses, he becomes firmly convinced that the Chimes are loose."

My thoughts:
I am putting this 5th book in the Sword of Truth series aside, perhaps permanently. I started it immediately after finishing the previous book, "Temple of the Winds", and then put it aside for the holidays when I was too busy to read. When I picked it back up, I was unhappy about the imminent rape scene about to be described and stopped again. A week later I tried again, starting several pages back; this time I was uncomfortable with the fictional culture of Anderith particularly in light of the events in the U.S. at this time.

Wikipedia describes this culture this way: "Both the Anders, black-haired people who govern the city, and the Hakens, red-haired people under the boot of Ander oppression, occupy Anderith. From an early age, Hakens are kept under control and disrespected by the Anders and are taught that this oppression is a necessity to protect the Hakens from their violent ancestral ways. Most Hakens have bought into this idea and willingly subject themselves to the oppression."

In the book, this oppression of the Hakens is clearly attributed to the idea that at some past point in their history, the Hakens had been the dominant race and their current situation was in retribution for their crimes towards the Anders at that time.

Whether Goodkind meant this parallel or not, it was too close to the way white supremists here view the U.S. - that whites are being (unjustly) oppressed by people of color in payment for historical injustices. I don't want to be reading anything right now that feels like justification for white supremists!

Editat: gen. 17, 9:03pm

6. The Conquering Family by Thomas B. Costain (1949)
Kindle book (OCLN); 291 pgs; finished 1/17; 5*
Millhone: HistoryCAT January - Middle Ages, GenreCAT January - Nonfiction
Amelia Peabody: history covering the 12th century
Tommy & Tuppence: BingoDOG Square #22 - about history or alternate history
Marlowe (classics challenge): #2 - read a 20th century classic
Miss Silver (rereads)

From the book blurb:
"Thomas B. Costain's four-volume history of the Plantagenets begins with THE CONQUERING FAMILY and the conquest of England by William the Conqueror in 1066, closing with the reign of John in 1216.
The troubled period after the Norman Conquest, when the foundations of government were hammered out between monarch and people, comes to life through Costain's storytelling skill and historical imagination.

"Brilliant, swift-moving, full of action, rich in color." (B-O-M-C News)

THE CONQUERING FAMILY is the first in A History of the Plantagenets, and is followed by THE MAGNIFICENT CENTURY."

My thoughts:
Just as good as I had remembered - I had forgotten most of the details of Costain's 4 book history of the Plantagenets but the wonderful way that he wrote stuck with me. This first book covers Henry II, Richard I (the Lionhearted) & John - the 3 Angevin kings.

gen. 17, 9:30pm

>69 leslie.98: I finished that one today too!

gen. 18, 12:44am

I read about the Plantagenet's in 2 different series last year; Maurice Druon's, and Sharon Penman's. and I loved them both. Thankfully they complemented each other and didn't repeat each other.

Editat: gen. 18, 10:52pm

>70 thornton37814:, >71 Tess_W: I find it fascinating that we (the generic we) are still so interested in the lives of these kings almost a millenium later. I couldn't help thinking about how history might view the most recent ruler here in the U.S. in 900 years!!

gen. 19, 6:45am

>72 leslie.98: I live in England so this part of "the generic we" can't avoid living with the results of historic actions around me, from tangible buildings (thanks for the stained glass Richard III) to landmark legal reforms (go team Henry II). I also regularly experience the reactions of other people to these legacies, e.g. a cathedral in my part of the world has an extremely prominent tomb to one of England's least popular monarchs, which every visitor will see whether they want to or not, and I've genuinely heard people quietly boo or hiss at the tomb as if he's a stage villain... from 900 years ago....

gen. 19, 6:50am

>73 spiralsheep: Well at least your history is still "there." In the US, if he was unpopular, the statue/tomb, etc., would have been destroyed or removed.

Editat: gen. 19, 7:04am

>74 Tess_W: Most societies selectively remove old stuff that's in the way, including mine. There aren't many statues of Stalin around because he was a mass murderer, and many people in Bristol felt the same way about slave trader Colston when they recently chucked his statue in the harbour. Some removals are necessary for reasons of space, some are a good idea for cultural reasons, and some are regrettable. One might say the same about particular natural landscapes or other legacies.

And it pays to remember that monarchs and other powers-that-be habitually destroyed the legacies of their predecessors, and personal or political enemies, so we tend to inherit the legacies of the most powerful destroyers who replaced other legacies with their own, e.g. there aren't many pre-Columbian monuments remaining in North America.

ETA: I'll just add that the cathedral I mentioned previously have considered moving the unpopular monarch's tomb because it is physically in the way of contemporary cathedral use.

gen. 19, 8:28pm

>73 spiralsheep: I guess that fascination for me (and maybe many of those who live in former English colonies) is the legends around these kings which developed into cultural icons - such as Richard I's imprisonment and John's regency which is an important part of the Robin Hood story. Plus I guess that I/we view this history as part of our history even though we don't live in England...

>74 Tess_W:, 75 I read these comments with some interest, especially yours, >75 spiralsheep:, because of the current debate here in the U.S. about statues of & things/places named after Confederate figures. The very fact that they still exist now, over 100 years after the Confederacy lost our Civil War, says something about our society - I don't want to start a political conversation here or potentially a flame war, so I leave it at that...

gen. 19, 10:57pm

>75 spiralsheep: I do agree that statues, etc. of mass murderers are often removed. But in the manner of how I don't like censorship of books, I don't like censorship of history, and that's the issue. It seems to be the mentality that if one doesn't like the history, it can just be destroyed. I'm not even speaking specifically to the US, but thinking of all the historical documents and libraries blown to bits by terrorist groups, because it was built under another religion that was predominant at the time. My solution, if "the people" decide not to display statues anymore, they should be placed in a museum with perhaps tags or explanations of why this person used to be culturally important. I think that would be a win-win and can show the evolution of thought about culture.

gen. 20, 11:11am

>76 leslie.98: "I guess that I/we view this history as part of our history even though we don't live in England..."

Yes, history is a shared resource which is why one event can be seen from so many differing perspectives.

"I don't want to start a political conversation here or potentially a flame war, so I leave it at that"

Very wise, and of course you have my apologies if I accidentally said anything to derail your personal book thread.

gen. 20, 10:16pm

>78 spiralsheep: No apologies necessary, at least in my opinion! I just had to rein in my own ranting *grin*

>77 Tess_W: I can understand your point, especially about the destruction of libraries & momunents by terrorist groups, but equally I can understand destroying statues of Stalin or Hitler (for example). Your suggestion of sequestering them in museums with explanatory tags is a good middle ground.

gen. 22, 12:03am

>79 leslie.98: Middle ground, that's what I was going for. I really like the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC because they have done a really find job of this.

Editat: gen. 23, 2:15pm

>80 Tess_W: I don't know if it is the times or my aging but I have become increasingly a fan of the middle ground.

Editat: gen. 29, 1:25pm

7. Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell (1863)
Audiobook narrated by Nadia May (Audible) & Kindle book (Amazon); 801 pgs; finished 1/22; 4.5*
Miss Silver (rereads)
Marlowe: #3 - classic by a woman author
Tommy & Tuppance: BingoDOG & Group reads (Group read over at Goodreads)

From the book blurb:
"Set in English society before the 1832 Reform Bill, Wives and Daughters centers on the story of youthful Molly Gibson, brought up from childhood by her father. When he remarries, a new stepsister enters Molly's quiet life, the loveable but worldly and troubling Cynthia. The narrative traces the development of the two girls into womanhood within the gossiping and watchful society of Hollingford. Wives and Daughters, generally thought to be Elizabeth Gaskells finest achievement, is far more than a nostalgic evocation of village life. It offers an ironic critique of mid-Victorian society with its main themes of the role of women, Darwinism, and the concept of Englishness, as well as its literary and social context. I am honored to have had the chance to introduce Wives and Daughters to modern listeners, who I hope will discover what a pearl among novels it is.
~Nadia May, narrator"

My thoughts:
2021 review: No change to my previous opinion...

2013 review:
This review is specifically for the audiobook - see the Kindle edition for my comments on Gaskell's novel.

Nadia May does a marvelous job narrating this Victorian novel & with one exception, I loved the voices she used for the various characters. The one exception was Lady Cumnor, whose voice had a slight speech impediment (sort of like Elmer Fudd) - May did it excellently but I just couldn't get Elmer Fudd out of my head every time Lady Cumnor appeared!

2013 Kindle review - I hadn't realized that this book was unfinished (although only by one chapter apparently). This is my favorite of Gaskell's novels that I have read so far - it has the charm of Cranford with the romance of North and South.

gen. 23, 9:55am

>82 leslie.98: I was shocked to discover that the last chapter had not been written -- I may have actually exclaimed "Noooooo!" But this is my favourite Gaskell too.

gen. 23, 10:00am

>82 leslie.98: Adding this to The List, Leslie. I have not read any Gaskell, but I have North and South in the audio stacks. And I love Nadia May as a narrator, so I will go with that format. I love that you have read it multiple times - high praise indeed.

Editat: gen. 23, 3:08pm

>82 leslie.98: I love Gaskell, but I haven't read Wives and Daughters so far! Nice to read that it is so well-loved!

I have a story about Elizabeth Gaskell's house:

When I visited Manchester for the first time in 2012, I took a bus to see Elizabeth Gaskell's house in a suburb. It involved negotiating busses and also quite a walk, and I was very disappointed when I got there and the house was nearly a ruin. It looked totally neglected and was fenced off. I thought this was so sad, because the architecture of the house was beautiful and I thought: Why on earth isn't this a museum like Jane Austen's home or the Brontë parsonage? I was still happy to see it, but mourned the opportunity lost.

When I somehow googled the house four or five years later, I found out that in the meantime, it had been renovated and converted to a museum at last! I visited in 2018 and was so happy because it was wonderful. The rooms were furnished, there was an exhibition and a lot of information and photographs. Finally, this did that great author justice!

I don't know if anyone of you know about the house or have visited, too, but I thought I should share the story :-)

gen. 23, 10:49am

>82 leslie.98: We're reading The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories in our faculty book club this semester, and the first one was by Elizabeth Gaskell. Those of us who were around for the Gothic short story book read the same story then. About half of those present this week were new, and it's amazing how the book discussion took a completely different direction than it did when we discussed it two years ago.

gen. 23, 2:37pm

>83 rabbitprincess: Although it is disappointing not to have Gaskell's own ending, the afterword (as I guess it should be called?) by Frederick Greenwood, Gaskell's editor, answered all my questions. Not that there were many surprises left by that point! Did your edition have this afterword section?

>84 Crazymamie: I have North and South in audio too - narrated by Juliet Stevenson. She was also marvelous so I hope that is the narration you have. But I agree with you about Nadia May - she is one of my favorite narrators (along with Grover Gardner)! I love her narrations of Ngaio Marsh's mysteries :)

>85 MissBrangwen: Great story! Thanks for sharing. I have never been to Manchester (at least that I am aware of - I spent a year in England as a 2-year-old so I may have been there then!); my only trip to England as an adult was a very short visit to London. For someone who is such an Anglophile I really should make plans for a longer visit once this darned pandemic is over!

>86 thornton37814: Isn't it interesting how book discussions can vary? A new or different perspective from one participant can provoke thoughts that I didn't even know I had about a book so I can see how that would happen. Is Gaskell a good ghost/Gothic storyteller? I haven't read many of her short stories and the ones I have read have been holiday stories.

Editat: gen. 23, 3:39pm

8. Henry VI, Part 1 by William Shakespeare (1592)
Kindle book (as part of The Complete Works of Shakespeare) (Amazon) & full cast audiobook (LibriVox); 144 pgs; finished 1/22; 4*
Gamache (ROOTs): Kindle omnibus owned since July 2015
Millhone: HistoryCAT January - Middle Ages
Amelia Peabody: historical fiction set in 1422-1431 (? my best guess at the dates)
Tommy & Tuppence: BingoDOG Square #18 - book under 200 pgs

From the book blurb:
"Henry VI, Part 1 is an uncompromising celebration of early English nationalism that contrasts the English with the French, portrayed here as effeminate and scheming.

A boy king, Henry VI, is on the English throne, and the indomitable Talbot leads the English cause in France. Joan La Pucelle (Joan of Arc), who becomes captain of the French, claims to be chosen by the Virgin Mary to liberate France. The English, however, consider her a sensual witch.

Many of the English nobility remain, quarreling, at home. Once in France, some seek permission to fight each other there. Talbot and his son cannot prevail; the English defeat themselves by preying on each other."

My thoughts:
Great play. I am not one who loves all Shakespeare (especially the histories) but this one is very accessible. The language isn't too arcane plus it involves historical events that many will recognize (Joan of Arc, the War of the Roses, the 100 Years War etc.)

The LibriVox full cast audiobook was very well done & a great complement to reading the text. I especially liked the guy who did Talbot who had a deep somewhat growly voice.

Before posting here, I did a little searching to decide if this play was 'history' or 'historical fiction' & learned some interesting facts, especially from Rex Factor at


"The good news for Shakespeare when it comes to his history plays is that he drew extensively from chronicles and histories. Primary among his sources was Raphael Holinshead’s The Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland (the second edition, published in 1587), which told the complete story of the three kingdoms from their origins to the present day. This was actually the work of multiple authors but it was an important and extremely popular work because such a comprehensive history had not been published before for the British Isles.

As well as Holinshead, Shakespeare also made use of other histories available at the time such as Polydore Vergil (author of an English history commissioned by Henry VII) and Edward Hall’s The Union of the Two Noble and Illustre Families of Lancastre and Yorke, covering from 1399 and the death of Henry VIII in 1547. These histories were far from perfect in terms of accuracy, but they were the best sources available and Shakespeare did as much as was possible in the 1590s to research the real history."

However, as Factor goes on to explain, Shakespeare wrote with a good deal of Tudor bias towards history (and I have to wonder about the amount of this bias in Shakespeare's sources as well).

"The Tudors were keen to promote the idea that from the deposition of Richard II to the defeat of Richard III, England was a country mostly in chaos and civil war (known as the Wars of the Roses) due to the evils of rebellion and usurpation against a rightfully anointed king. It was, according to the Tudor view, only with Henry VII’s victory at Bosworth that peace was restored. As an example of how Shakespeare helped create a false national remembrance of this period, the phrase “Wars of the Roses” is actually a nineteenth century term based on a scene in Shakespeare’s Henry VI (Part 1) where the opposing sides pick which rose to wear as emblems. In reality, the Lancastrians did not wear a red rose during the conflict but rather Henry VII used it for symbolic purposes to create the Tudor rose (both white and red) to symbolise national unity." (my emphasis)

I had no idea that the term "War of the Roses" was a relatively recent one!

gen. 23, 3:34pm

>87 leslie.98: Yes, I read the version available through Serial Reader, which is off Project Gutenberg, and it did contain an afterword :)

>88 leslie.98: I'll have to get started on part 2!

Editat: gen. 23, 4:12pm

>89 rabbitprincess: I plan to wait until February for part 2 & use it for the GenreCAT (biographies) - lol! Not that Henry VI, Part 2 is really a biography in any sense but it will have to do. I really don't like very many biographies so it is unlikely that I will read a better fit for that CAT.

added later
Or maybe I will read a memoir - I saw the author of Educated being interviewed the other day and it piqued my interest in that book.

gen. 23, 4:16pm

>87 leslie.98: This one was "The Old Nurse's Story." It's pretty good. It contains elements of both the ghost story and Gothic story. It's widely available on the Internet if you want to read it and judge for yourself.

gen. 23, 4:31pm

>82 leslie.98: Thanks for this review. Haven't read Wives and Daughters yet, but am hoping to this year, as well as Ruth. I listened to Juliet Stevenson read North and South last year (as a re-read) and the audio blew me away. I had been so-so about the novel after reading it, but the audio made so much difference for me. Or maybe just the timing of a pandemic re-read. Anyway, now North and South is one of my absolute favorite novels of all time, so I'm anxious to read Wives and Daughters after your review.

>85 MissBrangwen: How wonderful that you went to re-visit! Just a few days ago I found their website online--they're even sponsoring an online book club. My son lives in Sheffield, so when we get to visit next (maybe 2022???) this is going to be on my list to visit.

gen. 23, 8:32pm

>88 leslie.98:
I should read some of the Shakespeare plays I've never read which includes most of the history plays. The information about his sources was interesting.

Editat: gen. 23, 9:46pm

>91 thornton37814: Thanks - I'll probably download some collection of Gaskell's short stories from Project Gutenberg so I will look for one with that story in it.

>92 kac522: I hope you like Wives and Daughters as much as I did! Sadly, I didn't much care for Ruth... a surprise since I really like almost all of the other Gaskell books I have read.

>93 hailelib: That is kind of where I am - I would like to read all of Shakespeare eventually but the plays I have left are mostly the ones that didn't appeal much to me in the first place so I have been slow to act on this goal. Henry VI, Part 1 was a pleasant surprise as often I struggle with his language - it is so much easier to gloss over not understanding what the characters are saying when watching a performance!

gen. 23, 9:42pm

I'm really behind in reading threads so my comments go back a bit. The news was so compelling this month that like you, I had to watch and my reading suffered. I'm glad to leave all things US in Joe and Kamala's hands and get on with life.

>69 leslie.98: I'm looking forward to reading Costain too. I've heard nothing but good about his work.

>77 Tess_W: I agree that statues undeserving of prominent public display should be put in museums. It doesn't make sense to tip them into the trash where their bad deeds will be forgotten.

Happy reading!

gen. 23, 9:48pm

>95 VivienneR: Sadly, my library only had the first volume (the one I reviewed above) in its digital catalog. I'll have to look and see if there are print copies of the others available...

Editat: gen. 24, 5:37pm

9. The Book of the Dead by Elizabeth Daly (1944)
Kindle book (Dad's Kindle); 227 pgs; finished 1/23; 4*
Poirot (mysteries): Book #8 in the Henry Gamadge series
Gamache (ROOTs)
Marlowe (classics challenge): #6 - crime book
Tommy & Tuppence: BingoDOG Square #6 - suggested by another generation (series suggested by my mother)

From the book blurb:
"The hospital sees nothing to question about the death of the reclusive Mr. Crenshaw, and it’s not as though he had any friends to press the issue. He did, though, have one casual acquaintance, who happens to pick up Mr. Crenshaw’s battered old edition of The Tempest…and happens to pass that book on to Henry Gamadge. Gamadge, of course, is not only an expert in solving pesky problems but also an expert in rare books, and his two sets of expertise combine to uncover the extraordinary puzzle of Mr. Crenshaw, which began in California and ended on the other side of the country, at a chilly New England rendezvous."

My thoughts:
I did not foresee the solution to this 8th book in the Gamadge series at all! It's the summer of 1943 & Henry is in NYC while his wife Clara is off in Long Island (there are delicate hints that she is in "an interesting condition" as they used to say). He gets embroiled in this case, which has minimal recourse to his expertise in documents & books, and brings it off brilliantly.

gen. 24, 12:56pm

>97 leslie.98: - I think I'm going to take a BB for this series. I like books about book dealers.

gen. 24, 5:37pm

>98 dudes22: Daly is one of those Golden Age mystery writers who became forgotten until ebooks arrived. Hope you enjoy them & pass on the word about the series :)

gen. 24, 6:06pm

10. A Prefect's Uncle by P.G. Wodehouse (1903)
Kindle book (Project Gutenberg); 117 pgs; finished 1/24; 3.5*
Gamache (ROOTs)
Millhone: AlphaKIT January - P & M; RandomCAT January - humor
Tommy & Tuppence: BingoDOG Square #15 - Arts & Recreation

From the book blurb:
"At Beckford College, where the pupils seem to be spending most of their time playing cricket, Gethryn is faced with this younger uncle arriving at the school.

The novel takes place at the fictional "Beckford College," a private school for boys. The action begins with the arrival at the school of a mischievous young boy called Farnie, who turns out to be the uncle of the older "Bishop" Gethryn, a prefect, cricketer, and popular figure in the school. His arrival, along with that of another youngster who becomes a servant to Gethryn, leads to much excitement and scandal in the school, and the disruption of some important cricket matches."

NOTE: This blurb must have been written by an American since the school is actually a public school, not a private one! These terms have different meanings in the U.S. and the U.K.

My thoughts:
While I don't like Wodehouse's school stories as much as either the Jeeves or Blandings ones (too much cricket for this American), I thought this one (apparently the 2nd of the school series) was better than average.

gen. 24, 10:06pm

I've just enjoyed another P. G. Wodehouse school story with cricket, Mike and Psmith.

In Australia there used to be a group of big, expensive, well-known, fee-charging, Church-run boys' schools that were called public schools, but all of a sudden American usage took over and government schools became public schools. For a while there I was quite confused. The UK has fee-charging private schools as well as fee-charging public schools?

gen. 24, 10:35pm

>101 pamelad: Well, it is implied that there were in this book but remember that it was published in 1908. In my mind, British private schools were more like a small group of boys who were taught by a tutor or the local vicar but that is not based upon any information other than that gleaned from reading books by British authors (many of the Victorian era)!!

I hadn't realized that Australia had switched to the American usage - I suspect that there are some interesting musings about global politics to be found in that but I will leave that to someone else *grin*

Editat: gen. 25, 1:54am

>102 leslie.98: I thought you were in England, but I just checked and saw that you're in Massachusetts! We definitely need a British person.

I doubt that it's politics, more like a new generation of journalists who uncritically accept American usages. Internet overrules all. No one I know calls government schools public schools, only journalists

I lied. The state government calls them public schools now. I am a dinosaur.

gen. 25, 6:55am

>102 leslie.98: >103 pamelad: Token Brit here.

The use of the term "public school" has changed over time. Originally it was a fee-paying school that accepted boys from anywhere, usually exclusively upper class due to the cost, as differentiated from a school attached to an institution, such as a religious or trade school, or attached to a place, such as a town's local school. The "major" public schools are the seven survivors of the nine schools featured in the reforming Clarendon Report of 1864. Public school fiction began with Tom Brown's Schooldays set at the "major" public school Rugby. A private school is also a fee-paying school, traditionally either for girls or of lesser status for boys (which causes inter-school rivalries).

State-supported schools are traditionally called state schools, with various other terms to describe the type of school.

gen. 25, 12:26pm

>104 spiralsheep: Are the "grammar schools" part of the state schools?

gen. 25, 12:40pm

>105 leslie.98: Some are and some aren't, also depends what time period.

gen. 27, 10:36am

>87 leslie.98: Yep. Juliet Stevenson, who I also love as a narrator. Grover Gardner os also a favorite.

>97 leslie.98: This sounds good.

gen. 28, 12:10am

>107 Crazymamie: Oh, I'm glad that you have the Stevenson narration for North and South!

Daly is one of those mostly forgotten Golden Age mystery writers who have resurfaced partly due to ebooks. My mother was a fan of the Rue Morgue Press, Felony & Mayhem and other such who worked to bring back into print many of these books & she urged me to try the Gamadge series. As in so many things, she was right!

gen. 28, 12:38am

11. *The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe (1987)
Audiobook narrated by Joe Barrett (Audible); 690 pgs; finished 1/27; 2.5*
Gamache (ROOTs)
Holmes (Guardian list)

From the book blurb:
"Sherman McCoy, the central figure of Tom Wolfe's first novel, is a young investment banker with a fourteen-room apartment in Manhattan. When he is involved in a freak accident in the Bronx, prosecutors, politicians, the press, the police, the clergy, and assorted hustlers high and low close in on him, licking their chops and giving us a gargantuan helping of the human comedy of New York in the last years of the twentieth century, a city boiling over with racial and ethnic hostilities and burning with the itch to Grab It Now. Wolfe's gallery ranges from Wall Street, where people in their thirties feel like small-fry if they're not yet making a million per, to the real streets, where the aim is lower but the itch is just as virulent.

We see this feverish landscape through the eyes of McCoy's wife and his mistress; the young prosecutor for whom the McCoy case would be he answer to a prayer; the ne'er-do-well British journalist who needs such a case to save his career in America; the street-wise Irish lawyer who becomes McCoy's only ally; and Reverend Bacon of Harlem, a master manipulator of public opinion. Above all, we see what happens when the criminal justice system-gorged with "the chow," as the Bronx prosecutor calls the borough's usual black and Latin felons-considers the prospect of being banded a prime cut like Sherman McCoy of Park Avenue.

The Bonfire of the Vanities is a novel, but it is based on the same sort of detailed on-scene reporting as Wolfe's great nonfiction bestsellers, The Right Stuff, Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, and The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. And it is every bit as eye-opening in its achievements. It is a big, panoramic story of the metropolis-the kind of fiction strangely absent from our literature in the second half of this century-that reinforces Tom Wolfe's reputation as the foremost chronicler of the way we live in America.
Source: tomwolfe.com"

My thoughts:
My rating may be overly harsh - I think that if I had read this book earlier, even a year ago but certainly 5 or 10 years ago, I would have enjoyed it more. However, reading it right now set up some uncomfortable resonances. This novel revolves around racial tensions - but viewed right now it is, to say the least, unfortunate that the black activist Rev. Bacon is not just a "manipulator" as the blurb puts it but is tainted by the strong supposition of being insincere and dishonest. To give Wolfe a bit of a break, that characterization applies to the vast majority of the characters regardless of race. And in the end, I think this is the main source of my discontent with the book, there was nobody that I could "root for" or empathize with except perhaps the minor character of Judge Kovitzky. The view it paints of 1980s New York is one in which there is nothing and nobody to admire. I generally enjoy satire but this one felt so cruel as to lose its humor.

Editat: gen. 29, 1:28pm

12. Meet the Sky by McCall Hoyle (2018)
Audiobook narrated by Morgan Fairbanks (SYNC); 256 pgs; finished 1/27; 3*
Gamache (ROOTs)
Millhone: AlphaKIT January - P & M
Tommy & Tuppence: BingoDOG Square #1 - Nature or environment
Nancy Drew (Children's & YA books)

From the book blurb:
"It all started with the accident. The one that caused Sophie’s dad to walk out of her life. The one that left Sophie’s older sister, Meredith, barely able to walk at all.

With nothing but pain in her past, all Sophie wants is to plan for the future—keep the family business running, get accepted to veterinary school, and protect her mom and sister from another disaster. But when a hurricane forms off the coast of North Carolina’s Outer Banks and heads right toward their island, Sophie realizes nature is one thing she can’t control.

After she gets separated from her family during the evacuation, Sophie finds herself trapped on the island with the last person she’d have chosen—the reckless and wild Finn Sanders, who broke her heart freshman year. As they struggle to find safety, Sophie learns that Finn has suffered his own heartbreak; but instead of playing it safe, Finn’s become the kind of guy who goes surfing in the eye of the hurricane. He may be the perfect person to remind Sophie how to embrace life again, but only if their newfound friendship can survive the storm."

My thoughts:
Decent YA novel dealing with loss & love using a pair of teens stranded in a hurricane. I thought that the hurricane aspect of the story was excellent - the YA aspect was fairly typical to my mind.

gen. 29, 5:03am

>109 leslie.98: I attempted to read that last year, but it was one of my few DNF's for 2020.

gen. 29, 1:19pm

>111 Tess_W: Glad it isn't just me then.

gen. 29, 1:32pm

13. Tropical Issue by Dorothy Dunnett (1983)
Kindle book (Dad's Kindle); 408 pgs; finished 1/28; 3*
Gamache (ROOTs)
Poirot (Mysteries)

From the book blurb:
"Also known as Dolly and the Bird of Paradise

The narrator is a Scots-born flower child who has become a celebrity make-up artist despite seemingly insurmountable handicaps. She becomes involved with Johnson Johnson in a sometimes deadly, sometimes hilarious, romp across the Atlantic Ocean and various Caribbean islands in pusuit of drug smugglers, who use murder and piracy to gain their ends."

My thoughts:
Not one of the better Johnson Johnson books in my opinion. But for those like myself who have read most of this series, it was interesting to get a little glimpse into his prior life.

Editat: gen. 29, 8:29pm

14. The Princess Bride by William Goldman (1973)
Kindle book (Amazon Prime lending library); 512 pgs; finished 1/28; 4*
Thursday Next (sci fi & fantasy)
Millhone: AlphaKIT January P & M; RandomCAT January - humor
Tommy & Tuppence: BingoDOG Square #25 - about or contains magic

From the book blurb:
"The Princess Bride is a true fantasy classic. William Goldman describes it as a "good parts version" of "S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure." Morgenstern's original was filled with details of Florinese history, court etiquette, and Mrs. Morgenstern's mostly complimentary views of the text. Much admired by academics, the "Classic Tale" nonetheless obscured what Mr. Goldman feels is a story that has everything: "Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles.""

My thoughts:
For years now I have been under the impression that I read this book back in the 1980s. Feeling the need to read a more cheerful book recently, I checked this one out of the Amazon Prime lending library. It only took me a few sentences to realize that I have NOT read this before! Of course I have seen the movie adaptation several times but apparently never read the book.

While the movie adaptation preserved the basic plot intact, the original book does much more with the 'book within a book' aspect which added to the humor considerably.

gen. 29, 3:04pm

>114 leslie.98: Until recently I also thought that I had read The Princess Bride at some point in the past. When I realized that I haven't read it I picked up a copy, now I just have to fit it into my reading. Sounds like a good one for the "Contains Magic" square of the Bingo.

Editat: gen. 29, 8:43pm

>115 DeltaQueen50: I found it a fairly fast read once I got over my shock. At first I thought the first bit was maybe an untitled introduction which was why I didn't recognize it, so I kept skipping ahead and back to find a part I recognized. Enjoy it whenever you get to it, Judy.

gen. 30, 8:26pm

15. Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie (1924)
Paperback (MOB); 167 pgs; finished 1/30; 3*
Miss Silver (rereads)
Poirot (mysteries)
Millhone: AlphaKIT Jan. P & M

From the book blurb:
"In Poirot Investigates Agatha Christie challenges her detective and the reader with a series of baffling mysteries. With all the clues plainly revealed, the reader should be able to arrive at the solution as soon as Hercule Poirot - but few reader do!

Contents: The Adventure of “The Western Star” — The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor — The Adventure of the Cheap Flat — The Mystery of Hunter’s Lodge — The Million Dollar Bond Robbery — The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb — The Jewel Robbery at the Grand Metropolitan — The Kidnapped Prime Minister — The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim — The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman — The Case of the Missing Will — The Veiled Lady — The Lost Mine — The Chocolate Box"

My thoughts:
First a note about my 1967 Bantam edition - it contains 14 short stories unlike the original British edition which only had 11 stories. The 3 "extra" stories are:

The Veiled Lady
The Lost Mine
The Chocolate Box

I haven't read this book since I started catalogueing my books in 2012 and probably it had been quite a while before that - I would guess it is closer to 2 decades since I last read this early collection of Poirot short stories. However, each of the stories was immediately recognizable to me from the wonderful TV series featuring David Suchet. I was a bit surprised by some of the differences between the original stories and those adaptations - the adaptations had clearly been made more exciting (pandering to the tastes of the modern audience?) though the essentials were only changed in one story - The Kidnapped Prime Minister. One example is "The Million Dollar Bond Robbery": In the TV adaptation, Poirot and Hastings are hired to protect the bonds before the robbery & take the trans-Atlantic liner while in the original story they are hired after the fact and Hercule solves it without leaving London. Also, the TV story introduced a woman (the lover of the banker Mr. Shaw) while in the story, Shaw does it all himself.

I enjoyed all the stories but I am a fan of Christie & Poirot. They aren't her best work but I don't think they are her worst either...

gen. 30, 10:29pm

16. The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin (2017)
Kindle book (Dad's Kindle); 324 pgs; finished 1/30; 4*
Thursday Next (sci fi/fantasy)
Millhone: SFFKit January - Leftover from 2020
Gamache (ROOTs)
Tommy & Tuppence: BingoDOG Square #4 - You heartily recommend

From the book blurb:

The Moon will soon return. Whether this heralds the destruction of humankind or something worse will depend on two women.

Essun has inherited the power of Alabaster Tenring. With it, she hopes to find her daughter Nassun and forge a world in which every orogene child can grow up safe.

For Nassun, her mother's mastery of the Obelisk Gate comes too late. She has seen the evil of the world, and accepted what her mother will not admit: that sometimes what is corrupt cannot be cleansed, only destroyed.

The remarkable conclusion to the post-apocalyptic and highly acclaimed trilogy that began with the multi-award-nominated The Fifth Season."

My thoughts:
Still mulling this one over...

gen. 31, 9:49am

>117 leslie.98: I hold what seems to be a minority opinion that these stories were mostly intended to be amusing and funny, with more than a wink at Sherlock Holmes and other popular detectives of the early 1920s.

gen. 31, 10:17am

>117 leslie.98: The Egyptian Tomb is one of my favourite Poirot stories! My other favourite short stories are The Adventure of the Spanish Chest and The Affair at the Victory Ball (although the Victory Ball one might be more because of the TV episode).

gen. 31, 7:32pm

>119 NinieB: I hadn't thought of that perspective but I can see how it applies! Certainly there are some pokes at Dr. Watson through Poirot's comments to Hastings.

>120 rabbitprincess: Personally, I like "The Adventure of the Cheap Flat" best of these though "The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb" is great too. And on another topic, I have a complaint for you - I can't seem to get Talking Heads songs out of my head these days! In fact, I am listening to "Once in a Lifetime" as I write this.

Editat: feb. 1, 12:18pm

17. The Miser by Molière (1668), translated by Charles Heron Wall
Kindle (Project Gutenberg) & full cast audiobook (LibriVox); 80 pgs; finished 1/30; 3.5-4*
Miss Silver (rereads)
Maigret (translations)
Millhone: RandomCAT January - humor; AlphaKIT January - P & M
Marlowe (classics challenge): #12 - reread a classic

From the book blurb:
"The aging but vital Harpagon is hoarding every centime he can get his hands on, making sure that his two children, the virginal Elise and the dandy Cleante, live under his iron will. To complicate matters, Elise has fallen in love with the handsome Valere, who masquerades as a servant in the household, despite his noble birth, and, worse yet, Cleante and Harpagon are both smitten with the same woman, the beautiful, if somewhat dim, Marianne. Meanwhile, scheming servants and assorted hustlers angle for Harpagon's incredible wealth, much of which is now buried and protected by snarling Dobermans. The delirious plot spirals to a wildly comic finish, filled with all the masterful plot twists and outrageous revelations one would expect from one of Molière's finest plays."

My thoughts:
Jan. 2021 reread:
Basically no change in my previous opinion. I have since discovered that this play was one of the few that Moliere wrote in prose rather than rhyme and thus was never translated by R. Wilbur. I do find that the word play is better in Moliere's plays that were written in verse... but it could just be that the public domain translation by Wall isn't very good. This indecision is the cause of my 3.5-4* review -- this translation is only 3.5* in my opinion but I think the play is 4*

2015 review:
This French classic was my first experience of Molière and made me a lifelong fan. Unfortunately, the translation in this Kindle edition (my copy is from Project Gutenberg) by Charles Heron Wall isn't as good as the one I remember from years ago (Richard Wilbur's?). While easy to read, I miss the rhyming couplets and the word play isn't as sparkling as I expect from Molière.

Even with these flaws, I still had fun reading this. The ending reminded me of something from a Shakespeare comedy ("The Comedy of Errors" perhaps) but I love the fact that Harpagon stays miserly to the end.

Editat: març 3, 4:45pm

18. Watery Grave by Bruce Alexander (1996)
Paperback (MOB); 320 pgs; finished 1/31; 4*
Miss Silver (rereads)
Millhone: MysteryKIT January - water
Poirot (mysteries)
Amelia Peabody (historical fiction): set in 1769
Tommy & Tuppence: BingoDOG Square #10 - Classical element in title (water)

From the book blurb:
"'Blind Justice', the first novel featuring legendary eighteenth-century London judge Sir John Fielding, was one of the most highly acclaimed mystery debuts of 1994. 'Murder in Grub Street', the second novel, was named by The New York Times Book Review as one of the Notable Books of 1995 in crime fiction. Now Fielding returns in his most baffling case yet.

John Fielding was famous not only as co-founder of London's first police force, the Bow Street Runners, but also as a magistrate of keen intellect, fairness and uncommon detective ability. When a crime was committed, he often took it upon himself to solve it. What made this all the more remarkable was that he was blind.

In 'Watery Grave'. accompanied by his "eyes" (and the series' narrator), young Jeremy Proctor, Fielding encounters a case that hits close to home, as a stepson returns from the high seas with tales of typhoons and a captain overboard. Was it an accident, or was it murder? Fielding is asked to investigate, but discovers considerably more than he'd bargained for - including some secrets that might better have been left at the bottom of a watery grave.

Filled with the authentic sights and sounds and atmosphere of the times, and with a supremely colorful and varied cast of characters, 'Watery Grave' is in every way a delight to read."

My thoughts:
January 2021 reread:
I was a tad taken aback by a relatively minor aspect of this book (which was mentioned in passing more than once) - the events in this 3rd book of the series take place about one year after the events of the first book. Yet so much has changed in the household during that time & during this book!

I had a pretty clear recollection of the plot which involves Sir John in a investigation for the Royal Navy. Each time I read this book, it reminds me of how the practices of the Royal Navy in the mid-eighteenth century formed part of the reason for the American Revolution...

The ending is one which leaves Sir John & the reader with mixed emotions and thus is not quite as satisfying to the mystery reader in me as the previous books. However, it is interesting to see the jurisdicational questions (particularly at this moment in American history) along with the brief glimpse of how differently justice is dispensed at Mr. Welch's court from that at Bow Street.

Editat: març 8, 9:00pm

January round up: Sir John Fielding

1773 oil painting of Sir John Fielding       View of the Bow Street Court with Sir John Fielding (1795)
                                                                 Source: Wikimedia Commons); License details

I had forgotten how much I love the Sir John Fielding books by Bruce Alexander until I decided to reread the first one last year. Wonderful historical fiction and excellent mysteries! Sir John Fielding, though a major character in these books, isn't really the protagonist (at least in my view); the true protagonist is his (fictional) helper, Jeremy Proctor, who is also the narrator. Sir John is a real person - as his portrait and the sketch above show! - who took over the Bow Street court and the newly formed Bow Street Runners from his brother Henry Fielding (the novelist who wrote Tom Jones).

How did I do with my goals in January? Let's see:

Goal #1: To read as many ROOTs as possible, hopefully 80+ (my Gamache category)
18 books read, 10 of which were ROOTs and 5 others were rereads (my Miss Silver category)
So I am on target for this goal.

Goal #2: To read 25+ new-to-me books from the Guardian's list (my Holmes category)
Two books finished: No Country for Old Men (1/2) and The Bonfire of the Vanities (1/27)
One in progress: ♦The Magic Skin

Goal #3: To continue (and perhaps finish) the several series I have been working on
Not as good progress here. Need to work on this goal a bit more in Feb.! I finished one book from an ongoing series - The Book of the Dead, #8 in the Henry Gamadge series - and one to complete a trilogy - The Stone Sky.

Miscellaneous mysteries read in January: (part of my Poirot category)
Death at La Fenice (1/5)
Murder in the Queen's Armes (1/10)
Tropical Issue (1/28) (aka "Dolly and the Bird of Paradise")
Poirot Investigates (1/30) (reread)

Progress in the classics challenge (my Marlowe category) was good - I have completed 5 of the 12 challenges - as was progress on the BingoDOG (my Tommy & Tuppence category) with 12 squares completed.

January CATs & KITs (my Millhone category):
AlphaKIT: P & M
Murder in the Queen's Armes (1/10)
P.S. from Paris (1/12)
A Prefect's Uncle (1/24)
Meet the Sky (1/27)
The Princess Bride (1/28)
Poirot Investigates (1/30)
The Miser (1/30)

HistoryCAT: Middle Ages
The Conquering Family (1/17)
Henry VI, Part 1 (1/22)

GenreCAT: Nonfiction
The Conquering Family (1/17)

RandomCAT: Humor
Asterix and Cleopatra (1/13)
A Prefect's Uncle (1/24)
The Princess Bride (1/28)

SFFKit: Leftover from 2020
The Stone Sky (1/30)
My best 2 books for January were both rereads - The Conquering Family (5*) and Wives and Daughters (4.5*).

The best new-to-me book was The Stone Sky, the final book in Jemisin's Fifth Season trilogy with 4*. I had a couple of 4* books but this one was almost 4.5*...

Plans for February:
Finish up the books I am currently reading:
American Dirt, *The Magic Skin

Definitely going to read:
*Voss, Late Harvest Havoc, Murder in E Minor

Will try to read:
*Waiting for the Barbarians, Any Shape or Form, *Time Regained, Killer Cuvee

Might read:
Educated or (less likely) The Life of Samuel Johnson; and probably some sort of sci fi or fantasy

feb. 1, 4:53pm

>121 leslie.98: I literally just said "Bwahaha!" out loud :D I had that one in my head this weekend too.

Editat: feb. 25, 3:54pm

>125 rabbitprincess: Glad to please ma'am!

feb. 1, 8:26pm

Poirot Investigates sounds like a good collection. While I have a lot of Christie's books that's one I don't have.

Editat: feb. 25, 3:54pm

>127 hailelib: I was a bit surprised to discover how many short stories Christie wrote! These, as I mentioned, are quite early. If you read ebooks, you can download this collection for free from Project Gutenberg at:


Note that this free ebook edition is of the original British edition so only has 11 stories.

Editat: feb. 1, 9:47pm

It has been snowing here in Massachusetts (at least where I am) since ~10 am and is still coming down hard with strong winds, though it looks like we will miss the brunt of the storm. Currently I estimate about 8" (~20 cm) of snow on the ground with several more hours to go.

In response to the storm, I decided to make a big pot of soup from what I had available - lots of veggies, some cooked chicken breast & barley. Generally I am not an off-the-cuff type of cook, much preferring to follow a recipe, so I was a little trepidatious about how it would turn out but it was delicious! And so were the biscuits I made to have with it :)

feb. 2, 4:17am

>129 leslie.98: Ah, soup! Perfect winter food.

feb. 2, 8:10am

>129 leslie.98: I've been making a big pot of soup fairly often myself. I made chicken and dumplins instead this weekend. Good old Southern comfort food!

feb. 2, 11:31am

Thanks >130 MissWatson: & >131 thornton37814:! I like making soup but for some reason, I haven't made any for several weeks. Chicken & dumplings sounds tasty too - I've never tried making homemade dumplings though.

feb. 2, 11:57am

>132 leslie.98: If you don't want to roll out the dough, some people cut the thin frozen biscuits (like Mary B's thins) into strips for the dumplings. I've done it once or twice when I've been in a hurry.

feb. 2, 7:05pm

Mmmmmm soup and biscuits sound delicious!

feb. 2, 7:47pm

>134 rabbitprincess: Just as good the second time around! I guess I will freeze the remaining soup so I don't become tired of it...

Editat: feb. 3, 5:37pm

19. Last Ditch by Ngaio Marsh (1976)
Audiobook narrated by Wanda McCaddon (Nadia May) (BPL) & Kindle book (Dad's Kindle); 288 pgs; finished 2/2; 3*
Poirot (mysteries)
Miss Silver (rereads)

From the book blurb:
"Young Ricky Alleyn has come to the picturesque fishing village of Deep Cove to write. Though the sleepy little town offers few diversions, Ricky manages to find the most distracting one of all: murder. For in a muddy ditch, he sees a dead equestrienne whose last leap was anything but an accident. And when Ricky himself disappears, the case becomes a horse of a different color for his father, Inspector Roderick Alleyn."

My thoughts:
Feb. 2021 reread: No change to my opinion
2017 reread:
In this late entry of the Inspector Alleyn series, the focus is on Alleyn's son Ricky. While the last third, when Alleyn himself arrives on the scene, was exciting, I found the mystery itself a little obvious.

Wanda McCaddon/Nadia May did a decent narration but it wasn't as good as some of hers I have listened to.

Editat: feb. 3, 5:53pm

20. *The Magic Skin by Honoré de Balzac (1831), translated by Ellen Marriage
Kindle book (Project Gutenberg) & audiobook narrated by John Bolen (BPL); 285 pgs; finished 2/3; 2*
Holmes (Guardian's list)
Maigret (translated books)
Gamache (ROOTs)
Millhone: HistoryCAT February - 1800 to present
Marlowe (classics challenge) #4 - read a classic in translation
Tommy & Tuppence: BingoDOG Square #11 - set somewhere you'd like to visit

From the book blurb:
"The possession of power, no matter how enormous, does not bring the knowledge how to use it."

Raphael, a failed writer, finds himself deep in debt and unrequited in love, so he decides to take a suicidal plunge into the Seine River. Before he can, however, he discovers a magic leather skin in an antiquity shop. Its supernatural powers grant him his every wish, but it extracts a terrible toll! This parable depicts the malaise of nineteenth-century France."

My thoughts:
This entry in Balzac's The Human Comedy (also known as "The Wild Ass's Skin") is the first of the Philosophical Studies division and I think that has a lot to do why I didn't really like it that much. Or maybe it was the character of Raphael (before he comes across the eponymous skin) - I was frustrated while he described his relationship with Feodora since basically his attitude was because he loved her and she didn't love him, she must be a horribly heartless woman. His love was entirely selfish and when he hid himself in her bedroom so he could spy on her while she thought she was alone, I almost stopped reading right then.

Another small negative was the narration by John Bolen, which was done with a strong French accent but with very little difference in the voices of the varying characters. I'd give the narration (separate from the content) a 3* but it needed a better narration than that to bring up my rating for the book overall.

Both this audiobook & my Kindle edition (in the Project Gutenberg omnibus of The Human Comedy) were translated by Ellen Marriage.

Editat: feb. 5, 1:43am

21. The Bachelors by Muriel Spark (1960)
Audiobook narrated by Nadia May (Audible Plus lending library); 224 pgs; finished 2/4; 3.5-4*

From the book blurb:
"A barrister, a "priest", a detective, a lovelorn Irishman, a handwriting expert, a heinous spiritual medium -- the very British bachelors of Muriel Spark's supreme 1960 novel come in every stripe. First found contentedly chatting in their London clubs and shopping at Fortnum's, the cozy bachelors (as any Spark reader might guess) are not set to stay cozy for long. Soon enough, the men are variously tormented -- defrauded or stolen from; blackmailed or pressed to attend horrid seances -- and then plunged, all together, into the nastiest of lawsuits. At the center of that suit hovers pale, blank Patrick Seton, the medium. Meanwhile, horrors of every size plague the poor bachelors -- from the rising price of frozen peas ("Your hand's never out of your pocket") to epileptic fits, forgeries, spiritualists foaming with protoplasm, and murder. And every horror delights: each is lit up by Spark's uncanny wit -- at once malicious, funny, and deadly serious. The Bachelors shows "the most gifted and innovative British novelist" (The New York Times) at her wicked best."

My thoughts:
3.5* for the book & 4* for this audiobook edition narrated by Nadia May.

Dark humor about how a court case on whether a spiritualist medium had defrauded one of his circle affects the lives of several bachelors & their friends and relatives. One aspect of the book that bothered me is that all of the women seemed to come across as irrational (to say the least) and as strong evidence of the concept that 'people will believe what they want to believe'.

feb. 5, 8:47pm

22. *Thank You, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse (1933)
Audiobook narrated by Jonathan Cecil (Audible Plus lending library) & paperback (MOB); 192 pgs; finished 2/5; 5*
Miss Silver (rereads)
Tommy & Tuppence: BingoDOG Square #20 - character that you'd be friends with
Millhone: AlphaKIT February T & K

From the book blurb:
"The odds are stacked against Chuffy when he falls head over heels for American heiress Pauline Stoker. Who better to help him win her over but Jeeves, the perfect gentleman's gentleman. But when Bertie, Pauline's ex-fiance finds himself caught up in the fray, much to his consternation, even Jeeves struggles to get Chuffy his fairy-tale ending."

My thoughts:
Feb. 2021 reread via unabridged digital audiobook from Audible Plus lending library

So funny! I had forgotten some of the details so I'm glad that I found this audiobook in Audible's Plus catalog. Jonathan Cecil is such a marvellous narrator who really enhances the humor of the book. Wodehouse's sense of humor is (apparently) not for all but my experience is that if you like it at all, you love it and this book is one of his best.

Editat: feb. 7, 12:43pm

23. Interview with the Robot by Lee Bacon (2020)
Audiobook with full cast narration (Audible); ~255 pgs; finished 2/6; 3.5*
Gamache (ROOTs) - audiobook owned since Jan. '20
Nancy Drew - children's book
Millhone: SFFKit February - sentient things
Thursday Next (sci fi/fantasy)

From the book blurb:
"Fugitive. Criminal. Robot.

Eve looks like an ordinary 12-year-old girl, but there’s nothing ordinary about her. She has no last name. No parents or guardian. She’s on the run from a dangerous and secretive organization that will stop at nothing to track her down.

And most astonishing of all: She’s a robot, a product of Eden Labratories.

When she discovers the truth, she realizes everything she thought she knew about herself is a lie. Eve manages to escape, fleeing the lab, the only home she’s ever known.

After being arrested for shoplifting, Eve is interviewed by Petra Amis from Child Welfare Services. Her incredible story unfolds during the interrogation, with flashbacks to her life inside Eden Laboratories, which has a dark secret.

Exploring a range of topics that drive our society and our lives - topics such as artificial intelligence and human nature - Interview with the Robot is a story told by a startlingly original protagonist, a story that explores the vast potential of technology and the deep complexities of humanity."

My thoughts:
This audiobook really hooked me in right away - the format of the book was a great way to tell the story. I think this would be a great audiobook to listen to with one's children and then have a conversation about some of the issues the book raises, such as how did the kids feel about David considering Eve and Emory property? or about what the Sharp family life would be like if David succeeded in his plan & what makes for a good family life...

Editat: feb. 7, 5:38pm

24. A Red Death by Walter Mosley (1991)
Kindle book (OCLN); 321 pgs; finished 2/6; 4*
Poirot (mysteries)
Amelia Peabody (historical fiction)
Millhone: HistoryCAT February - 1800 to present day
Tommy & Tuppence: BingoDOG Square #8 - by or about a marginalized group

From the book blurb:
"It's 1953 in Red-baiting, blacklisting Los Angeles, a moral tar pit ready to swallow Easy Rawlins. Easy is out of "the hurting business" and into the housing (and favor) business when a racist IRS agent nails him for tax evasion. Special Agent Darryl T. Craxton, FBI, offers to bail him out if he agrees to infiltrate the First American Baptist Church and spy on alleged communist organizer Chaim Wenzler. That's when the murders begin... "

My thoughts:
Excellent mystery and great historical fiction. Even though the book is grittier than I usually care for, it didn't bother me in this one the way it so often does. Maybe it is because though Easy isn't exactly a law-abiding citizen all the time, he does have a conscience and doesn't go out of his way to look for trouble, the way so many of the criminal 'protagonists' in noir novels seem to do.

I found the parts about Craxton looking for dirt on Jewish labor organizer (and concentration camp survivor) Chaim Wenzler particularly fascinating. Though Hoover's name is never mentioned, I could sense his shadow behind Craxton.

And this book gives me my first BINGO :)

Editat: feb. 7, 5:48pm

25. King Henry VI, Part 2 by William Shakespeare (1598)
Kindle book (in omnibus "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare") & audiobook with full cast (LibriVox); 192 pgs; finished 2/7; 4*
Amelia Peabody (history/historical fiction)
Millhone: AlphaKIT Feb. T & K
Gamache (ROOTs)

From the book blurb (of the Penguin paperback which isn't the one I read):
"The second play in Shakespeare's tetralogy dealing with the Hundred Years War and the Wars of the Roses, Henry VI Part Two is arguably the best introduction to the playwright's genius as a writer of history plays. This Penguin Shakespeare edition is edited by Norman Saunders with an introduction by Michael Taylor.

'My mouth shall be the parliament of Enland'

Henry VI is tricked into marrying Margaret - lover of the Earl of Suffolk, who hopes to rule the kingdom through her influence. There is one great obstacle in Suffolk's path, however - the noble Lord Protector, whom he slyly orders to be murdered. Discovering this betrayal, Henry banishes Suffolk, but with his Lord Protector gone the unworldly young King must face his greatest challenge: impending civil war and the rising threat of the House of York."

My thoughts:
Listened to LibriVox full cast audiobook & read in Kindle omnibus "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare"

Not quite as compelling to me as Part 1 but still much less difficult than I expect of Shakespeare. And now I know the context of the famous line "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."!

Editat: feb. 26, 3:32pm

26. Late Harvest Havoc by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen (2005), translated by Sally Pane
Kindle book (Dad's Kindle); 167 pgs; finished 2/7; 3*
Gamache (ROOTs)
Poirot (mysteries)
Maigret (translations)
Tommy & Tuppence: BingoDOG Square #19 - 2 or more authors

From the book blurb:
"Disaster strikes the vineyards in Alsace. Vintners are tense and old grudges surface. The Winemaker Detective's reputation is on the line as he must find the cause before the late harvest starts.

Winter is in the air in Alsace and local customs are sowing trouble, piquing the curiosity of the famous winemaker from Bordeaux, Benjamin Cooker. While the wine expert and his assistant Virgile settle into their hotel in the old city of Colmar, distinguished vineyards are attacked. Is it revenge? The plot thickens when estates with no apparent connection to one another suffer the same sabotage just days prior to the late harvest. All of Alsace is in turmoil, plunged in the grip of suspicion that traces its roots back to the darkest hours of the German occupation. As he crosses back and forth into Germany from the Alsace he thought he knew so well, Cooker discovers a land of superstition, rivalry, and jealousy. Between tastings of the celebrated wines, he is drawn into the lives and intrigues of the inhabitants."

My thoughts:
In this 10th entry in the series, Benjamin Cooker & his assistant travel to Alsace. Satisfying mystery though this time Virgile does more of the detecting than Benjamin does.

feb. 7, 5:59pm

>142 leslie.98: Oh, I'm going to have to start this play sharpish to find out that context!

I'm reading The Secret Life of Lobsters at the moment and it talks a lot about Mount Desert Island and environs, so naturally I've been reminded of your MDI challenge from a previous year :)

feb. 7, 6:06pm

>144 rabbitprincess: The play was a good way to spend a snowy afternoon. The Secret Life of Lobsters sounds like it is amusing from the title - though generally I don't want to know too much about the life of critters I might eat!

feb. 12, 9:03pm

I have once again fallen down the rabbit hole of American politics. I won't give my opinion here (though I suspect those who know me can guess what it is!) but am just popping in to say my reading is once again on hold while I spend hours watching the impeachment trial.

Editat: feb. 25, 3:56pm

Having gone down the hole, I am now trying to cope by burying myself in reading books that will take my mind away from the United States. I will try to post fuller comments on each this week but in the meantime, here is the list of what I have read since my last update:

27. Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome
28. Cotillion by Georgette Heyer reread via newly acquired audiobook edition
29. A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer reread
30. Murder in E Minor by Robert Goldsborough
31. Agent of Change by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller reread
32. Carpe Diem by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller reread

feb. 15, 5:23pm

Georgette Heyer is a very good choice for escaping reality. Enjoy!

feb. 16, 5:50am

>147 leslie.98: Cotillion is in my top five Heyers (yes, I have a Heyer top six for brain candy re-reads). I hope it helps you unbury yourself in the fullness of time.

feb. 16, 9:11pm

>147 leslie.98: I was just introduced to Heyer in January and they are such good light reads! Have only read one, but already in love.

feb. 17, 12:55pm

>149 spiralsheep: Cotillion is one of my favorite Heyers as well!

feb. 17, 7:36pm

Thanks all - Georgette Heyer has been one of my favorite authors for decades now but for some reason, I came to Cotillion late - at least 20 years after reading (and rereading) most of her books. So for me, it still has a hint of newness about the story, since I have only read this particular book maybe 4 times as opposed to the 10 or 20 times I have read most of the others!! LOL!

A Civil Contract was a book that I didn't much like as a teenager but, as I have aged (and also read more about life in the 1800s), it is one that I have come to regard as a masterpiece. It lacks much of the humor and romance that most of her books have but it gives an interesting look into what a marriage of convenience might have been like for two people who are sensitive and honorable.

Editat: feb. 25, 3:57pm

I bought the most recent Liaden novel - Trader's Leap - a few weeks ago which I had planned to read for this month's AlphaKIT (and possibly SFFKit as well). I started it only to feel that I needed to refresh my mind on what had occurred to Padi and Shan when last I saw them... I couldn't exactly recall which book had that particular plot line and in the end decided to check if Sharon Lee & Steve Miller's website on the Liaden reading order could help me out. This is what I saw:

Novels that are direct sequels:
Agent of Change, Carpe Diem, Plan B, I Dare, Dragon in Exile, Alliance of Equals, Neogenesis, Accepting the Lance, Trader’s Leap

So of course, I went back to the beginning with Agent of Change and was immediately swept up in the Liaden universe and particularly the story of Val Con and Miri once again!! For those who also might want to follow this abbreviated reread of the series, I found that there was a gap between I Dare and Dragon in Exile that seemed too big. It turns out that Ghost Ship was the missing link which I would strongly advocate adding to this list.

So to add to my list in >147 leslie.98: I have finished (all rereads):

Plan B, I Dare, Ghost Ship and Necessity's Child by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller.

Necessity's Child wasn't really part of the Val Con & Miri direct sequel line of books but I really like that one... Now reading Dragon in Exile and plan to get to the new book well before the end of the month :)

For my bookkeeping, these are books #33-36.

feb. 17, 9:37pm

>153 leslie.98: I need to get back to the Liaden series! I'd finished about a dozen of the books but then I stalled in reading the series. I especially like the Theo Waitley books so I want to get back to those. I'd read up to Dragon Ship, and I believe The Gathering Edge would be next up.

feb. 18, 1:27pm

>154 mathgirl40: After Dragon Ship (in publication order), the books have overlapping timeframes but focussing on a different set of main characters. If you haven't seen it before, check out Lee & Miller's website:

feb. 18, 8:34pm

>155 leslie.98: I did look at this link a long time ago. Thanks for the reminder!

Editat: feb. 25, 8:05pm

A bunch more Liaden books have been finished (#'s are not related to the series but are for tracking my 2021 reading):

37. Dragon in Exile
38. Alliance of Equals
39. Neogenesis
40. Accepting the Lance
41. Trader's Leap
42. Balance of Trade
43. Trade Secret
44. Conflict of Honors

All of the above, except Trader's Leap, were rereads. I had intended to stop with Trader's Leap but couldn't tear myself away from the Liaden universe so went back and read the 2 books about Jethri Gobelyn (Balance of Trade and Trade Secret) and the one about how Shan & Priscilla met (Conflict of Honors). I'd love to have another book about Jethri sometime...

I then forced myself to leave the remaining books of the series un-reread (to make up a word) and turned to Agatha Christie, rereading Third Girl based on some chat in one of the threads here (February AlphaKIT perhaps). Book #45

feb. 26, 3:26pm

Far too many books to go back and make separate entries for them all, especially as most of them are rereads! I've decided that I'll post for only those new-to-me books I have read since 7 February... but I remain happy to chat about those rereads if anyone wants to.

Editat: març 3, 12:23pm

27. Three Men on the Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome (1900)
Audiobook narrated by David Case (Hoopla); 208 pgs; finished 2/12; 3*
Millhone: AlphaKIT February - T & K
Marlowe (classics challenge): #7 - travel or journey

From the book blurb:
"Three Men on the Bummel is the story of a Victorian bicycle trip gone wrong—then wrong and wrong again! A trio of British gentlemen attempt a cycling expedition in Germany's Black Forest. Confusion about the differences in language and culture get them into continual trouble, whether it's boarding a train, buying a present for an aunt, or simply trying to get safely from one place to another. Will they ever get back to their own lives—and will they really want to? Reprising the characters from Jerome's hugely popular Three Men in a Boat, this gently humorous book will delight anyone who has ever had an unpredictable vacation."

My thoughts:
I didn't find this sequel nearly as funny as the first book ("Three Men on a Boat") but I suspect part of that is that narrator David Case (aka Frederick Davidson) wasn't as good as Stephen Crossley (to whose narration I listened in the first book). Also my attention has been poor due to current events here in the U.S. so that probably played a role.

feb. 26, 3:36pm

30. Murder in E Minor by Robert Goldsborough (2012)
Kindle book (APll); 224 pgs; finished 2/14; 3*
Poirot (mysteries)
Millhone: MysteryKIT February - Pastiche

From the book blurb:
"When a maestro is murdered, Archie is flabbergasted when the gargantuan gourmet detective lifts himself out of retirement. Amid a juicy public scandal, Wolfe and Archie feast on suspects yet starve for facts—until the scanty clues finally arrange themselves like notes on a score, and Wolfe recognizes a dark melody that only a murder virtuoso could perform."

My thoughts:
I was a bit trepidatious about trying this book having read all of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe books (though there still may be a few short stories that I missed). Overall, I would say Goldsborough did a decent job of capturing the flavor of Stout's characters but was a bit more wordy than Stout was, especially in the wrap-up after the case had been solved.

A note to Stout fans - don't read this if you haven't yet read Stout's "A Family Affair"! This book talks about the ending of that final full length novel in the original Nero Wolfe series in some detail (which, if you have read it, makes sense in terms of what happens in this book).

feb. 26, 3:44pm

41. Trader's Leap by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller (2020)
Kindle book (Amazon); 437 pgs; finished 2/21; 4*
Thursday Next (sci fi & fantasy): Book #23 in Liaden series (publication order)
Millhone: AlphaKIT Feb. - T & K

From the book blurb:

The only bridge between past and future is a leap of faith.

Pursued by enemies, exiled Liaden clan Korval is settling into a new base on backworld Surebleak. Moving is expensive, as is war, and Korval is strapped for cash. Delm Korval has therefore instructed Master Trader Shan yos'Galan to design and implement new trade routes, quickly.

But this is no easy task. Dutiful Passage is targeted by Korval's enemies, denied docking at respectable ports, and cheated at those less respectable. Struggling to recuperate from an attack on his life, while managing daughter Padi’s emerging psychic talents, Shan is running out of options—and time. His quest to establish the all-important trade route puts him at odds with his lifemate, while doubting crew desert the ship. Facing the prospect of failure, Shan accepts the assistance of chancy allies and turns the Passage toward a port only just emerging from Rostov's Dust and awash with strange energies.

Without trade, Clan Korval will starve. Will a trader's leap of faith save everything—or doom all?"

My thoughts:
In the beginning there was a bit too much repetition for those who have faithfully read all the previous novels as well as a certain lack of excitement if one knows the outcome of "Accepting the Lance". However, this book does project the storyline into new and interesting dimensions once it gets going. I was pleasantly surprised and pleased to see both the Carresen-Denobli syndicate & Clan Ixen reappear.

And of course, that aspect spurred me to rereading the 2 Jethri Gobelyn books in which I first made acquaintence with Clan Ixen :-)

feb. 26, 3:52pm

46. Les Liaisons Dangereuses: Read by the Cast of the Stage Play by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos (1782) ABRIDGED
Audiobook with full cast narration (Audible); ?? pages; finished 2/25; 3.5*
Gamache (ROOTs)

From the book blurb:
"From the sumptuous private drawing rooms of 18th-century Paris to the decadent estates and chateaus of the French countryside, La Marquise de Merteuil and Le Vicomte de Valmont hatch a long-distance plan of vengeance and seduction.

Valmont is determined to conquer the famously pious Madame de Tourvel, whose husband is abroad on business. However, Merteuil has other plans. She enlists his involvement in the seduction of a young convent girl, Cécile Volanges, the wife-to-be of the Marquise's former lover. But as they race toward the culmination of their plans, events start to spiral out of control, and they realise that they might not be as in control of their hearts as once they thought.


Madame de Volanges: Adjoa Andoh
La Présidente de Tourvel: Elaine Cassidy
Cécile Volanges: Morfydd Clark
Le Chevalier: Danceny Edward
Holcroft, Marquise de Merteuil: Janet McTeer
Vicomte de Valmont: Dominic West
Madame de Rosemond: Una Stubbs.

With announcements by Simon Kane. "

My thoughts:
3.5* for this full cast performance of the play based on an abridged edition of the French classic epistolary novel. Now I need to read the original book!!

I don't know who the translator of this was - perhaps it was mentioned at the beginning but if so, I didn't catch it. Audible has this as public domain so it is most likely the translator I have in my Kindle edition of the whole book (Thomas Moore).

Editat: feb. 26, 9:27pm

47. Educated by Tara Westover (2018)
Kindle book (OCLN); 336 pgs; finished 2/25; 4.5*
Millhone: GenreCAT February - biographies/autobiographies/memoirs
Tommy & Tuppence: BingoDOG Square #2 - title describes you

From the book blurb:
"Tara Westover grew up preparing for the End of Days, watching for the sun to darken, for the moon to drip as if with blood. She spent her summers bottling peaches and her winters rotating emergency supplies, hoping that when the World of Men failed, her family would continue on, unaffected.

She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in doctors or hospitals. According to the state and federal government, she didn’t exist.

As she grew older, her father became more radical, and her brother, more violent. At sixteen Tara decided to educate herself. Her struggle for knowledge would take her far from her Idaho mountains, over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she’d travelled too far. If there was still a way home.

EDUCATED is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty, and of the grief that comes with the severing of the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has, from her singular experience, crafted a universal coming-of-age story, one that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers – the perspective to see one’s life through new eyes, and the will to change it."

My thoughts:
A very powerful memoir and particularly important at this point in American history. It shows how robust 'alternate reality' can be not just within a family but in a community even to those who have recognized its falsity and left. Perhaps not surprisingly, Westover's personal experience of this is blended with mental illness and abuse (both physical & emotional)... but her parents' version of reality is accepted by many in the community. The constant repetition of false ideas coupled with the emphasis that these ideas are the morally correct ones could not but remind me of Trump's behaviour... and Tara's struggle to become her own person made the grip Trump has on his supporters a bit more understandable to me.

One feature I particularly liked is the way Westover included notes about when her memory of certain events varies from that of one or more of her siblings or when she is not sure whether she is confusing 2 different but similar events. This aspect (a result of her education in history, I presume) made me trust this book much more than I did The Glass Castle, for example.

Editat: feb. 26, 4:14pm

48. *Study of a Woman by Honoré de Balzac (1830), translated by Katherine Prescott Wormeley
Kindle book (Project Gutenberg); 26 pgs; finished 2/26; 4*
Holmes (Guardian's list)
Maigret (translated books)
Gamache (ROOTs)

From the book blurb:
"The Marquise de Listomere is one of those young women who have been brought up in the spirit of the Restoration. She has principles, she fasts, takes the sacrament, and goes to balls and operas very elegantly dressed; her confessor permits her to combine the mundane with sanctity. Always in conformity with the Church and with the world, she presents a living image of the present day, which seems to have taken the word "legality" for its motto. The conduct of the marquise shows precisely enough religious devotion to attain under a new Maintenon to the gloomy piety of the last days of Louis XIV., and enough worldliness to adopt the habits of gallantry of the first years of that reign, should it ever be revived. At the present moment she is strictly virtuous from policy, possibly from inclination. Married for the last seven years to the Marquis de Listomere, one of those deputies who expect a peerage, she may also consider that such conduct will promote the ambitions of her family. Some women are reserving their opinion of her until the moment when Monsieur de Listomere becomes a peer of France, when she herself will be thirty-six years of age, - a period of life when most women discover that they are the dupes of social laws."

My thoughts:
Read in my Kindle omnibus edition of "The Human Comedy" from Project Gutenberg.

The above description isn't actually a blurb but instead a direct quote from the opening of this short story.

OK, my thoughts -- I found this short story very amusing! Perhaps it was all the funnier for me having just listened to the abridged audiobook of "Dangerous Liaisons" as the Marquise de Listomere was so similar to Madame de Tourvel. Unfortunately for her, Eugene de Rastignac isn't another Valmont and the love letter he sent her was meant for another woman!!

feb. 26, 4:24pm

49. Any Shape or Form by Elizabeth Daly (1945)
Kindle book (Dad's Kindle); 212 pgs; finished 2/26; 4*
Poirot (mysteries): Book #9 in the Henry Gamadge series
Gamache (ROOTs)

From the book blurb:
"Just about any of the guests at Johnny Redfield’s party seems to have a good reason to have killed the guest of honor, Johnny’s Californian aunt who, with her “astral name” and vague pretensions of mysticism, does not exactly blend in the elegant New York atmosphere that surrounds her. And what’s more, no one has a solid alibi. It will take all of Henry Gamadge’s ingenuity to figure out this closed-room mystery."

My thoughts:
Above average entry in the Gamadge series, though once again Henry didn't make use of his specialized skills - I hope that aspect of the series (his knowledge & skill with documents & antiquarian books) isn't phased out.

Editat: feb. 26, 4:26pm

>162 leslie.98: Or possibly the 1985 play by Christopher Hampton adapted from the 1782 novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos, although that's not public domain.

feb. 26, 4:30pm

>166 spiralsheep: Oh, I think it was the 1985 play. It is the original novel that is in the public domain. Sorry, I wasn't clear about that - the play & this audiobook of the play are NOT in the public domain (though I did get this audiobook for free when Audible was pushing plays last year). Perhaps if I look up the Hampton play, I can find out who the translator was... hmmm, off to do that now.

feb. 26, 4:35pm

>167 leslie.98: IIRC Hampton can read French so he probably translated for himself. There are several translations of the novel though.

feb. 26, 5:03pm

>162 leslie.98: I read Dangerous Liaisons for a book club and expected it to be a slog, but I really enjoyed it. It was the Penguin Classics edition, translated by Helen Considine.

Editat: feb. 26, 9:27pm

>169 pamelad: Good to know! One of my friends has been telling me I should read it for a while now but it is nice to have confirmation :)

Editat: feb. 28, 2:14pm

50. The Small Bachelor by P.G. Wodehouse (1927)
Audiobook narrated by Jonathan Cecil (Hoopla); 208 pgs; finished 2/28; 4*
Miss Silver (rereads)
Tommy & Tuppence: BingoDOG Square #5 - impulse read

From the book blurb:
"For George Finch, one of "nature's white mice" and probably the worst artist ever to put brush to canvas, there are many obstacles to overcome. Undoubtedly the greatest is his beloved Molly's fearsome stepmother, Mrs. Waddington, who has her eye on an eligible English lord for a son-in-law. Luckily, George has an ally in sharp-witted Hamilton Beamish, an old family friend of the Waddingtons. Then there is George's butler Mullett and his light-fingered girlfriend, Fanny, whose valuable skills are of particular interest to the would-be father-in-law."

My thoughts:
2017 review: Very funny! One of Wodehouse's better stand-alone books.

2021 reread - Having come across a discussion of Wodehouse books in rabbitprincess's thread, I was overwhelmed by a desire to read one of his books & this one caught my eye on Hoopla. Thus I am counting it as my impulse read for the BingoDOG... and that gives me my second BINGO :)

Jonathan Cecil's marvelous narration really added to my delight in this book. I love the way he does the different voices and how the voices perfectly fit Wodehouse's characters.

feb. 28, 2:45pm

>171 leslie.98: Great use of that bingo square! :-)

feb. 28, 8:19pm

>172 MissBrangwen: lol - thanks!

Editat: març 3, 12:23pm

51. *King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard (1885)
Audiobook narrated by Simon Prebble (Audible) & Kindle book (Amazon); 228 pgs; finished 2/28; 4*
Miss Silver (rereads)
Millhone: AlphaKIT Feb. - T & K

From the book blurb (audiobook edition):
"One of the bestselling novels of the nineteenth century, King Solomon's Mines has inspired dozens of adventure stories, including Edgar Rice Burroughs's Tarzan books and the Indiana Jones movies. Vivid and enormously action-packed, Henry Rider Haggard's tale of danger and discovery continues to shock and thrill, as it has since it was first presented to the public and heralded as "the most amazing book ever written."

The story begins when renowned safari hunter Allan Quatermain agrees to help Sir Henry Curtis and Captain John Good search for King Solomon's legendary cache of diamonds. Eager to find out what is true, what is myth, and what is really buried in the darkness of the mines, the tireless adventurers delve into the Sahara's treacherous Veil of Sand, where they stumble upon a mysterious lost tribe of African warriors. Finding themselves in deadly peril from that country's cruel king and the evil sorceress who conspires behind his throne, the explorers escape, but what they seek could be the most savage trap of all—the forbidden, impenetrable, and spectacular King Solomon's Mines."

My thoughts:
No real change to my 2013 opinions below... the casual racism of the English, even Quatermain who at heart is not a bigot, did make me cringe a few times. If you can get past that, it is an exciting story.

2013 review of Kindle book:
Classic adventure story although the Victorian attitude towards the native 'savages' of Africa was a bit much in a few places. A word of warning to the squeamish, there are some pretty grisly parts although not too graphic by today's standards.

Some significant differences from the Stewart Granger movie - most notably the fact that, instead of a wife searching for her lost husband, it is a brother which eliminates all the romantic aspects. I found Alan Quatermain a more interesting character as a widower & self-confessed coward than Granger's he-man (although I adore Stewart Granger). Overall, a better story than you might expect.

2013 review of audiobook:
Maybe even 4½ stars for this audiobook edition. For a review of the plot, see my comments of the Kindle edition of King Solomon's Mines… this review is for the audiobook.

Simon Prebble does a fantastic job narrating this classic adventure story. The tale is told in the first person, so from now on Allan Quatermain will speak to me with Prebble's voice. His voices for the South African natives were right on target.

My only complaint (which is not about Prebble) is that I found it a little hard to keep track of the African names - I ended up reading along for a bit to get them straight. For some reason, when I see the names written down it is easier to remember them.

Editat: març 31, 11:19pm

February round up: V.I. Warshawski


Victoria Iphigenia (Vic to her friends) "V. I." Warshawski is a Chicago P.I. in a series of detective novels and short stories written by Sara Paretsky starting in the early 1980s. Vic is the contemporary female equivalent of Philip Marlowe - the lone investigator who works the mean streets and occasionally gets in over her head but is too stubborn to give in. While hard boiled detective stories featuring women aren't so unusual today, Paretsky & Grafton (author of the Kinsey Millhone books) were groundbreakers. I am generally not a huge fan of the hard boiled subgenre but I do love Chandler & Hammett and Paretsky fits in with them in my mind.

How did I do with my goals in February?

Goal #1: To read as many ROOTs as possible, hopefully 80+ (my Gamache category)
33 books read, only 7 of which were ROOTs and a whopping 20 were rereads (my Miss Silver category)
Progress on goal was acceptable but could be better...

Goal #2: To read 25+ new-to-me books from the Guardian's list (my Holmes category)
Two books finished: ♦The Magic Skin (2/3) & ♦Study of a Woman (2/26)
One in progress: Voss
and I did reread 2 books from the list: Thank You, Jeeves and King Solomon's Mines
Again, acceptable progress but disappointing based upon my plans for the month which didn't work out.

Goal #3: To continue (and perhaps finish) the several series I have been working on
I finished 3 books from ongoing series - Late Harvest Havoc, #12 in the Winemaker Detectives series; Any Shape or Form, #9 in the Henry Gamadge series; Trader's Leap, #23 in the Liaden series

Miscellaneous mysteries read in February:
Last Ditch (2/2) (reread)
A Red Death (2/6)
Murder in E Minor (2/15)
Third Girl (2/24) (reread)

Progress in the classics challenge (my Marlowe category) was OK. I now have completed 7 of the 12 challenges, finishing 2 new challenges in Feb. - classic in translation & classic travel or journey book. As for the BingoDOG (my Tommy & Tuppence category), progress slowed but didn't come to a stop with 6 new squares completed for a total of 18.

February CATs & KITs (my Millhone category):
AlphaKIT: T & K
*Thank You, Jeeves (2/5) (reread)
King Henry VI, Part 2 (2/7)
Three Men on the Bummel (2/12)
Trader's Leap (2/21)
Trade Secret (2/23) (reread)
Third Girl (2/24) (reread)
*King Solomon's Mines (2/28) (reread)

HistoryCAT: 1800-present
*The Magic Skin (2/3) 1831

GenreCAT: Biography/Memoir
Educated (2/25)

RandomCAT: Fruits & Veggies

SFFKit: Sentient things
Interview with the Robot (2/6)
Agent of Change (2/14)
Carpe Diem (2/15)
Plan B (2/16)
I Dare (2/16)
Ghost Ship (2/17)
Necessity's Child (2/17)
Dragon in Exile (2/18)
Alliance of Equals (2/19)
Neogenesis (2/20)
Accepting the Lance (2/21)
Trader's Leap (2/21)
Balance of Trade (2/22)
Trade Secret (2/23)
Conflict of Honors (2/24)

MysteryKIT: Pastische
Murder in E Minor (2/14)
My best books for February were Thank You, Jeeves (5*) {reread} and the best new-to-me book was Educated (4.5*).

Plans for March:
Finish up the books I am currently reading:
*Voss, American Dirt, XKiller CuveeX (gave this one up), The Talisman Ring

Definitely going to read:
Tainted Tokay, Somewhere in the House, A Man's Head, Henry VI, Part 3, The Fifth Man & if my library hold comes in, Hamnet

Will probably read:
*The Three Musketeers (again!); The Unicorn Murders; The Black Swan

Might read:
The Burning Court, Code Blue: Emergency

març 1, 5:23am

Looks like February was a good month for you--even with rereads!

març 1, 1:07pm

>176 Tess_W: Yes, the Liaden books re-energized my reading amazingly!

març 2, 10:06pm

>171 leslie.98: Adding this one to the wishlist. This year I've read all the Psmith books, and Leave It to Psmith was definitely the best of them, though I liked them all. Now reading Uneasy Money, which is going well.

Have you read any of the Mr Mulliner series? I'd recommend them too.

març 3, 12:13pm

>178 pamelad: I've only read the 3rd one - Mulliner Nights which is short stories if I recall rightly. I haven't read that book in decades so reading the series this year is a great idea! Thanks for the suggestion.

Editat: març 3, 12:34pm

52. The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer (1936)
Audiobook narrated by Phyllida Nash (Audible) & paperback (MOB); 272 pgs; finished 3/1; 5*
Miss Silver (rereads)
Millhone: GenreCAT March - Action & Adventure

From the book blurb: (Paperback edition)
"The Talisman Ring is one of Heyer's funniest and fastest-paced romantic comedies, telling the story of a fugitive heir, a tempestuous Frenchwoman, and the two sensible people who try to keep them out of trouble."

(Audiobook edition blurb): "Neither Sir Tristram Shield nor Eustacie, his young French cousin, share the slightest inclination to marry one another. Yet it is Lord Lavenham's dying wish. For there is no one else to provide for the old man's granddaughter while Ludovic, his heir, remains a fugitive from justice."

My thoughts:
2021 reread: Just what I wanted to read - adventure, humor and romance :)
2017 review:
So much fun! Phyllida Nash did a good narration, especially for Eustacie & Beau Lavenham. I am glad that I broke down and bought this audio edition of one of my favorite Heyer novels (even though I already owned a paperback copy).

Editat: març 3, 4:50pm

53. Code Blue - Emergency by James White (1987)
Kindle book (in Kindle omnibus "General Practice") (Amazon); 280 pgs; finished 3/2; 4*
Thursday Next (sci fi/fantasy)
Millhone: GenreCAT March - Action & Adventure

From the book blurb:
"To the doctors and nurses of Sector General Hospital, Cha Thrat was just another trainee, but for Cha Thrat, life at Sector General was a most unnerving experience. Because her world had only recently been discovered by the Galactic Federation, she had never experienced the multiplicity of life-forms that populated Sector General—and no one knew what to expect of her.

Cha Thrat was a skilled healer, diligent, careful, and—according to her world's strict medical ethics— very responsible. Chief Psychologist O'Mara tried to help her adjust to her new life, but time after time, her best intentions caused only catastrophe. And even after she had been barred from nearly every ward in Sector General, O'Mara was still surprised by just how much havoc one nurse-trainee could cause..."

My thoughts:
I am glad that I finally broke down and bought this book (in the Kindle omnibus "General Practice") - the only entry in the Sector General series I couldn't get through any of my libraries.

This book marks a turn in the series away from Conway as the main character and towards varying non-human main characters who have come to Sector General for one reason or another. White does an excellent job of conveying how someone from an alien race & culture understands (or not!) both the humans & other aliens in terms of language, culture and protocol. In this 7th entry in the series, the main character Cha Thrat is from a world that has just made contact with the wider galaxy & before arriving at the station, she had very little other-species contact.

Editat: març 3, 4:06pm

54. The Genocidal Healer by James White (1991)
Kindle book (in Kindle omnibus "General Practice") (Amazon); 219 pgs; finished 3/2; 3.5*
Thursday Next (sci fi/fantasy)
Miss Silver (rereads)

From the book blurb:
"Physician, heal thyself

Surgeon-Captain Lioren of the Monitor Corps was a hard-driving perfectionist who expected the same high standards to be met by all who worked with him. But while on a First Contact mission on the planet Cromsag, where plague had reduced a peaceful civilization to barbarism and war, Lioren's perfection was his undoing. In his zeal to find a cure for the plague, he inadvertently caused the death of the entire planetary population.

Lioren's guild lead him to seek a commensurate penalty--death. But the Monitor Corps was loath to waste talent. Instead, Lioren was stripped of his rank and assigned to Sector Twelve General Hospita as a lowly trainee in the Psychology department.

Then Lioren met the huge alien Groalterri, the first of its kind to allow contact with the Galactic Federation. It was vital that Sector General succeed in curing the giant being, but it would not even speak to anyone--except Lioren. The medical problem was a simple one, but what the alien needed most was the one thing that Lioren could nog give. For before he could offer help, Lioren would have to do the impossible--forgive himself..."

My thoughts:
March 2021 reread in Kindle omnibus "General Practice": Adjusting my rating from 3 to 3.5*
Also, in my 2020 review I mistakenly note this book as the first to not feature Conway. Actually that is the previous book in the series "Code Blue - Emergency" which I had not read yet in 2020.
2020 review:
This 8th book of the Sector General series is the first one to not feature Dr. Conway since the very first book. While I found it interesting to have a non-human main character for the first time, Lorien (a Tarlan) was a more frustrating protagonist than Conway ever was. Plus the many discussions about religion, though appropriate, were of less interest to me than other types of ethical debates. However, I would be interested in reading more about Lorien in a future book to see how his "punishment" ends up! White made a small but significant change in his writing which enhanced the 'alien-ness' of the narrator - all masculine & feminine pronouns were replaced by neuter ones (it instead of he or she).

Oh, and just in case anyone is horrified by the title - Lorien isn't a mad killer or even a mercy killer, just an arrogant doctor who made a mistake due to insufficient information and impatience. This is not a spoiler as these facts come out in the very beginning of the book.

març 3, 4:18pm

55. A Man's Head by Georges Simenon (1931), translated by David Coward
Paperback (library); 176 pgs; finished 3/3; 4*
Poirot (mysteries): book #5 in the Maigret series
Maigret (translated)

From the book blurb:
"A rich American widow and her maid have been stabbed to death in a brutal attack. All the evidence points to Joseph, a young drifter, and he is soon arrested. But what is his motive? Or is he just a pawn in a wider conspiracy?

Inspector Maigret believes the police have the wrong man and lets him escape from prison to prove his innocence. perhaps, with Joseph on the loose, the real murderer will surface.

A deadly game of cross and double-cross has begun..."

My thoughts:
This book has also been published under the titles "A Battle of Nerves" and "Maigret's War of Nerves"
I am loosely following this series in publication order as given by the Fantastic Fiction website so I label this book as #5 in the series - different people might place it someplace else in the series since Simenon published all his first 10 or 11 books in the series in 1931!

I loved the way this book starts, especially since I neglected to read the blurb before diving into the book so didn't realize the prison break was engineered by Maigret! The book was, as was common in the Golden Age of mysteries, fairly short so it was a fast read - I like this style but people who want to know the detailed personalities of their detective and/or criminal might not care for it as much.

març 4, 12:30am

>180 leslie.98: I've got the audio of that Heyer---will try to get to it sooner rather than later!

març 4, 11:58am

>184 Tess_W: Have fun!

març 5, 2:21pm

56. Red Rising by Pierce Brown (2014)
Audiobook narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds (Hoopla); 384 pgs; finished 3/5; 3.5*
Millhone: AlphaKIT March - R & U
Thursday Next (sci fi)

From the book blurb:
" “I live for the dream that my children will be born free," she says. "That they will be what they like. That they will own the land their father gave them." "I live for you," I say sadly. Eo kisses my cheek. "Then you must live for more."

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better world for his children. But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow-- and Reds like him-- are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class. Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity' s overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society' s ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies . . . even if it means he has to become one of them to do so."

My thoughts:
I really liked the first 2 sections of this book but the final sections were too similar to "The Hunger Games", as other reviewers have mentioned. It was an exciting book & the narration by Reynolds was excellent so I am willing to give the series another try to see if the initial promise is fulfilled...

març 5, 4:29pm

>183 leslie.98: This website is fabulous for sorting out the Maigrets: https://www.trussel.com/maig/maig.htm
It includes both date of writing and date of original French publication.

març 5, 5:24pm

Ooh, thanks >187 NinieB:!

març 5, 5:51pm

>186 leslie.98: I've had Red Rising and some of it's sequels sitting on my shelf for years - it hasn't appealed to me enough to pick it up but it also intrested me enough to keep it on the shelves - I need to get to this!

març 5, 9:25pm

>189 DeltaQueen50: I'll be interested in seeing what you think of it Judy.

març 6, 7:51pm

I am reshelving Killer Cuvee as TBR at ~20% done so I'm not giving it a number or review here. I started this mystery for February's AlphaKIT but it failed to grab my attention. Since Feb. is over, I am giving up on it for now to focus on books that will hopefully appeal more.

març 7, 9:25am

>187 NinieB: Thank you for sharing that very useful link! I'm planning on tackling all of the Maigrets after finishing my Agatha Christie project, and that website will come in so handy.

Editat: març 8, 4:45pm

57. *The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas (1844)
Audiobook narrated by John Lee (Audible) & paperback (MOB); 720 pgs; finished 3/8; 5*
Miss Silver (rereads)
Marlowe: Classic challenge #1
Maigret (translated)
Amelia Peabody (historical fiction)
Millhone: GenreCAT March - Action & Adventure; HistoryCAT March 1500-1800
Tommy & Tuppence: Group read over at Goodreads

From the book blurb:
"Alexandre Dumas’s most famous tale— and possibly the most famous historical novel of all time— in a handsome hardcover volume.

This swashbuckling epic of chivalry, honor, and derring-do, set in France during the 1620s, is richly populated with romantic heroes, unattainable heroines, kings, queens, cavaliers, and criminals in a whirl of adventure, espionage, conspiracy, murder, vengeance, love, scandal, and suspense. Dumas transforms minor historical figures into larger- than-life characters: the Comte d’Artagnan, an impetuous young man in pursuit of glory; the beguilingly evil seductress “Milady”; the powerful and devious Cardinal Richelieu; the weak King Louis XIII and his unhappy queen—and, of course, the three musketeers themselves, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, whose motto “all for one, one for all” has come to epitomize devoted friendship. With a plot that delivers stolen diamonds, masked balls, purloined letters, and, of course, great bouts of swordplay, The Three Musketeers is eternally entertaining."

My thoughts:
2021 relisten: Even knowing what is going to happen, I found myself glued to this audiobook once again :)
2015 reread via audiobook: Translator unknown
John Lee does a wonderful narration of one of my all-time favorite books.
1994 reread (paperback): Translated by Lord Sudley
Wonderful historical fiction -- the exciting adventures of four loyal companions who fight to save the Queen of France from the machinations of Cardinal Richelieu. If you have enjoyed any of the Three Musketeer movies, you should try the book -- much more depth and lots of little subplots that add to the enjoyment. Dumas's prose is extremely readable.

març 9, 10:08pm

58. Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell (2020)
Hardcover (library); 310 pgs; finished 3/8; 4.5*
Millhone: HistoryCAT March 1500-1800
Tommy & Tuppence: Group read over at Goodreads
Amelia Peabody (historical fiction)
Tommy & Tuppence: BingoDog Square #21 - one word title

From the book blurb:
"A New York Times Notable Book (2020)
Best Book of 2020: Guardian, Financial Times, Literary Hub, and NPR

A thrilling departure: A short, piercing, deeply moving new novel from the acclaimed author of I Am, I Am, I Am, about the death of Shakespeare's eleven-year-old son Hamnet--a name interchangeable with Hamlet in fifteenth-century Britain--and the years leading up to the production of his great play.

England, 1580. A young Latin tutor--penniless, bullied by a violent father--falls in love with an extraordinary, eccentric young woman: a wild creature who walks her family's estate with a falcon on her shoulder and is known throughout the countryside for her unusual gifts as a healer. Agnes understands plants and potions better than she does people, but once she settles with her husband on Henley Street in Stratford she becomes a fiercely protective mother and a steadfast, centrifugal force in the life of her young husband, whose gifts as a writer are just beginning to awaken when his beloved young son succumbs to bubonic plague.

A luminous portrait of a marriage, a shattering evocation of a family ravaged by grief and loss, and a hypnotic recreation of the story that inspired one of the greatest literary masterpieces of all time, Hamnet is mesmerizing and seductive, an impossible-to-put-down novel from one of our most gifted writers."

My thoughts:
I read this book because it was selected as the book-of-the-month for one of my groups over at Goodreads. Because it is a new & highly acclaimed book, I wasn't expecting to be able to get the book in time but luckily for me, my library hold came in relatively quickly. Since I knew there was a large wait-list for the book, I started it right away and was immediately swept up by O'Farrell's story.

This historical fiction novel was extremely readable & although I had some reservations about certain aspects of Agnes, I loved it.

març 9, 10:11pm

59. The Fifth Man by Manning Coles (1946)
Paperback (MOB); 190 pgs; finished 3/9; 4*
Gamache (ROOTs)
Millhone: GenreCAT March - Action & Adventure

From the book blurb:
"When a man of many aliases turns up as the fifth of a party of British prisoners to be landed on the south coast of England from a German submarine, Tommy Hambledon takes a special interest in his activities."

My thoughts:
This 6th book in the Hambledon series was set towards the end of WW2 and involved a Nazi network inside England. In this one, Hambledon mostly provided an opportunity for the 'fifth man' to tell his own adventure.

març 10, 2:58pm

60. Meet Mr. Mulliner by P.G. Wodehouse (1927)
Audiobook narrated by Jonathan Cecil (Audible Plus lending library); 176 pgs; finished 3/10; 3.5*

From the book blurb:
"A Mulliner collection

In the Angler's Rest, drinking hot scotch and lemon, sits one of Wodehouse's greatest raconteurs. Mr Mulliner, his vivid imagination lubricated by Miss Postlethwaite the barmaid, has fabulous stories to tell of the extraordinary behaviour of his far-flung family: in particular there's Wilfred, inventor of Raven Gypsy face-cream and Snow of the Mountain Lotion, who lights on the formula for Buck-U-Uppo, a tonic given to elephants to enable them to face tigers with the necessary nonchalance. Its explosive effects on a shy young curate and then the higher clergy is gravely revealed. Then there's his cousin James, the detective-story writer, who has inherited a cottage more haunted than anything in his own imagination. And Isadore Zinzinheimer, head of the Bigger, Better & Brighter Motion Picture Company. Tall tales all - but among Wodehouse's best."

My thoughts:
1 "The Truth about George"
2 "A Slice of Life"
3 "Mulliner's Buck-U-Uppo"
4 "The Bishop's Move"
5 "Came the Dawn"
6 "The Story of William"
7 "Portrait of a Disciplinarian"
8 "The Romance of a Bulb-Squeezer"
9 "Honeysuckle Cottage"

Mr. Mulliner relates these tales about various family members. My favorites were #2 & 3...

març 10, 10:07pm

61. Asterix and the Normans by René Goscinny, illustrated by Albert Uderzo (1966), translated by Anthea Bell & Derek Hockridge
ebook (Internet Archive); 48 pgs; finished 3/10; 4*
Nancy Drew (children/YA books)
Maigret (translated)
Amelia Peabody (historical fiction)

From the book blurb:
"Normans never feel fear—but they do believe that terror literally gives one wings, enabling a person to fly. Now they’re planning to test their theory on Vitalstatistix’s cowardly nephew Jusforkix by pushing him right off the edge of a cliff."

My thoughts:
Just love all the puns and the great artwork! And somehow I never realized before that the Normans were the Norse Vikings so I learned something new :-)

Editat: març 11, 4:42pm

62. 1222 by Anne Holt (2007), translated by Marlaine Delgardy
Kindle book (Dad's Kindle); 354 pgs; finished 3/11; 4*
Gamache (ROOTs)
Maigret (translated)
Poirot (mysteries)
Millhone: MysteryKIT March - locked room

from the book blurb:
"From Norway’s bestselling female crime writer comes a suspenseful locked-room mystery set in an isolated hotel in Norway, where guests stranded during a monumental snowstorm start turning up dead.

A TRAIN ON ITS WAY to the northern reaches of Norway derails during a massive blizzard, 1,222 meters above sea level. The passengers abandon the train for a nearby hotel, centuries-old and practically empty, except for the staff. With plenty of food and shelter from the storm, the passengers think they are safe, until one of them is found dead the next morning.

With no sign of rescue, and the storm continuing to rage, retired police inspector Hanne Wilhelmsen is asked to investigate. Paralysed by a bullet lodged in her spine, Hanne has no desire to get involved. But she is slowly coaxed back into her old habits as her curiosity and natural talent for observation force her to take an interest in the passengers and their secrets. When another body turns up, Hanne realizes that time is running out, and she must act fast before panic takes over. Complicating things is the presence of a mysterious guest, who had travelled in a private rail car at the end of the train and was evacuated first to the top floor of the hotel. No one knows who the guest is, or why armed guards are needed, but it is making everyone uneasy. Hanne has her suspicions, but she keeps them to herself.

Trapped in her wheelchair, trapped by the storm, and now trapped with a killer, Hanne must fit the pieces of the puzzle together before the killer strikes again."

My thoughts:
Modern day locked-room mystery with some political commentary thrown in. This book is the first by Holt I have read but it won't be the last!

Though the idea of people trapped by a snow storm is fairly common in the locked-room mystery subgenre, this is the first time I have read one which had such a relatively large pool of suspects. Most of the others I have read using this device have maybe 10 or so people trapped in a country house; this book has 196 survivors plus hotel staff. This much larger group of suspects, most of whom do not know each other beforehand, makes an interesting twist.

març 11, 10:41pm

>198 leslie.98: Another BB for me!

març 12, 10:41pm

>199 Tess_W: I keep wondering why my parents didn't tell me about these books that I have been discovering on my Dad's Kindle! There are 2 others by Holt on it so I have those to look forward to.

març 13, 12:27am

>198 leslie.98: I noticed that 1222 is book eight in a series. OK to read alone?

març 13, 1:10pm

>201 Tess_W: I worried about that too. I didn't have any trouble reading it & it was my first book by Holt - there were probably nuances about Hanne, the main character, that I missed because I hadn't read the earlier books but nothing noticable. So my judgment is yes, OK to read as a stand-alone.

març 13, 2:12pm

63. Golden Son by Pierce Brown (2015)
Audiobook narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds (BPL); 442 pgs; finished 3/12; 3.5*
Thursday Next (sci fi/fantasy)

From the book blurb:
"As a Red, Darrow grew up working the mines deep beneath the surface of Mars, enduring backbreaking labor while dreaming of the better future he was building for his descendants. But the Society he faithfully served was built on lies. Darrow’s kind have been betrayed and denied by their elitist masters, the Golds—and their only path to liberation is revolution. And so Darrow sacrifices himself in the name of the greater good for which Eo, his true love and inspiration, laid down her own life. He becomes a Gold, infiltrating their privileged realm so that he can destroy it from within.

A lamb among wolves in a cruel world, Darrow finds friendship, respect, and even love—but also the wrath of powerful rivals. To wage and win the war that will change humankind’s destiny, Darrow must confront the treachery arrayed against him, overcome his all-too-human desire for retribution—and strive not for violent revolt but a hopeful rebirth. Though the road ahead is fraught with danger and deceit, Darrow must choose to follow Eo’s principles of love and justice to free his people.

He must live for more."

My thoughts:
Overall, I liked this second book in the series slightly less than the first book. But what a cliffhanger ending!!

març 13, 2:14pm

64. Somewhere in the House by Elizabeth Daly (1946)
Kindle book (Dad's Kindle); 194 pgs; finished 3/12; 4*
Poirot (mysteries): book #10 in the Henry Gamadge series
Gamache (ROOTs)

From the book blurb:
"The Clayborn clan has been waiting 25 years to divvy up Grandmama's fortune, locked up by her will and in a small room in the Clayborn mansion. Tomorrow The Room is to be opened, and the Clayborns can't wait to get their fingers on the old lady's reportedly priceless button collection. Harriet Clayborn, who doesn't quite trust her family, asks Henry Gammadge to witness the Opening of The Room, to make sure there's no funny business. Gammadge agrees, and it's a good thing this masterful sleuth is on hand: the Room has been hiding something grislier than buttons."

My thoughts:
I was pleased to see books again being important in the plot! And the readers finally get to meet (extremely briefly) the young scion of the family :)

març 13, 8:29pm

65. Henry VI, Part 3 by William Shakespeare (1592)
Kindle book (in omnibus "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare") & audiobook with full cast (LibriVox); 171 pgs; finished 3/13; 3*
Gamache (ROOTs)
Amelia Peabody (historical fiction/history)

From the book blurb:
"Henry VI, Part 3 is dominated by a struggle between two military forces, neither of which can achieve victory for long. Until the end, the Yorkists and Lancastrians strive for the English crown. The conflict between these two families began under Richard II. Half a century later, during the reign of Henry VI, it moved toward civil war. Now, in Henry VI, Part 3, Henry’s long reign becomes intermittent as his cousin Richard, Duke of York, seeks the crown and York’s son Edward sporadically succeeds in seizing it.

As we watch the crown pass back and forth between Henry VI and Edward IV, our attention is caught by other characters: the Earl of Warwick, Queen Margaret, and Richard, Duke of Gloucester. Warwick is the power behind the challenge to Henry VI, until he shifts to Henry. Margaret raises an army in England and later leads one from France, all in a futile attempt to secure the throne for her son, Prince Edward. Historically, his death destroyed her, but Shakespeare wisely saves Margaret to bring her back in Richard III. Richard, Duke of Gloucester, increasingly draws our attention. Both attractive and repellent, he is energetic, self-aware, bitter about his deformity (which may not have existed historically), ruthless, and unable to care about others."

My thoughts:
This 3rd play about King Henry VI wasn't as enjoyable for me as the first 2. Perhaps it is because, as an American, I didn't learn about these people as a child but I struggled with the fact that although the events in the play covered ~10 years, there were few markers about time passing. I also noted the Tudor bias about Richard of Gloucester and many of the other Planteganets much more in this one.

I listened to the LibriVox full cast audiobook which was good though a few of the minor characters were a little hard to follow. Luckily I was reading along in my Kindle omnibus "The Complete Works of William Shakespeare"!

març 13, 8:33pm

66. The Lost Diadem by Saoirse O'Mara (2012)
Kindle book (Amazon); 112 pgs; finished 3/13; 3.5*
Gamache (ROOTs)
Thursday Next (Sci fi/fantasy)
Nancy Drew (childrens/YA)
Tommy & Tuppence: BingoDOG Square #9 - 20 or fewer LT members (4 including myself)

From the book blurb:
"You never know when you might end up on the other side of the law....

Govin had no clue how much his life would change when he signed up for the City Guard in Davon. A fateful meeting throws him into an adventure he would never have imagined, not even in his wildest dreams, and he is left to fix the mess once known as his life. And if that weren’t enough, there is still a cunning thief to catch….

"Bardon put the quill down and scrutinised his work. The sketch showed a young girl with untidy hair, smart eyes and a cute little nose.
‘A pretty girl,’ he remarked. ‘Too bad she's a thief. She might've grown up to become a beauty, but I doubt she'll live long enough. The streets are rough, and the prison's even rougher.’
Govin felt a pang of guilt."

Meet Govin and Tayla as their friendship begins. Their first meeting doesn't bode well, but when faced with the choice to save themselves or do the right thing, they decide to stand up for each other. Soon, though, things get out of hand and they need help from others. Will they trust the right persons?"

My thoughts:
This novella was a fun read but the book has some formatting issues that I would have assumed could have been resolved by now. On my Kindle Paperwhite, the print was teeny tiny until I increased the font from my normal 2 to 11 (and the font itself could not be varied) and there were very large paragraph indentations (about half a line once the font was readable). On my Kindle Fire, the print was gigantic even at the lowest setting (and the font couldn't be varied here either). The paragraph indents were okay but the line spacing was larger than I prefer.

març 13, 8:55pm

març 14, 9:26am

>205 leslie.98: Good idea to have an audio version going while you're reading the play in print! I am relying on my memory of Series 2 of The Hollow Crown to cast the Henry plays in my head ;)

març 14, 10:48pm

>208 rabbitprincess: I find that combo is what works best for me with Shakespeare - it gives me more of a sense of what a performance would be like than just reading the text alone (and often the tone of voice provides a clue to meaning I would have missed) & reading while listening helps keep my focus on the play (since my mind sometimes tends to wander with audiobooks).

març 14, 10:51pm

67. The Unfinished Clue by Georgette Heyer (1933)
Paperback (MOB); 306 pgs; finished 3/14; 4*
Miss Silver (rereads)
Poirot (mysteries)
Millhone: AlphaKIT March - R & U

From the book blurb:
"Everyone had a reason to hate the late Sir Arthur Billington-Smith. His arrogance and abrasive manner had alienated his wife, her sister, his house guests, his wayward son, even a desperate friend. Of course, his attentions to one attractive young guest in plain view of her husband simply multiplied the possible suspects in his murder."

My thoughts:
March 2021 - I did manage to figure out with the help of vague recall who the culprit was this time!
2016 review:
One of the best benefits of a bad memory is the ability to reread mysteries! I didn't remember this at all when I started rereading it -- I know I have read it as I own it and I love Heyer but nothing about the blurb seemed familiar. About halfway through I suddenly did recall a big part of the solution (though as it turned out, not the guilty person!) but by that time I was caught up in the book & could enjoy it even knowing (as I thought) whodunit. So it was a fun surprise to find out I didn't know who did it after all at the end!

This is a wonderful Golden Age mystery (first published in 1933) and it has the features which have become stereotypical for a country house murder mystery. What lifts this one to above average is Heyer's characters such as Lola, the Mexican cabaret dancer whom the son of the household has brought home as his fiancée. Being a Heyer, it is no surprise that there was a romantic subplot but it was unusually low key.

Editat: març 16, 9:18pm

68. H.M.S. Surprise by Patrick O'Brian (1973)
Audiobook narrated by Simon Vance (BPL)); 379 pgs; finished 3/15; 3.5*
Amelia Peabody (historical fiction)
Millhone: GenreCAT March - Action & Adventure; HistoryCAT March 1500-1800s; RandomCAT March - Surprise

From the book blurb:
"Amid sights and smells of the Indian subcontinent explore ships of the East India Company. Aubrey is on the defensive, pitting wits and seamanship against an enemy enjoying overwhelming local superiority. Somewhere in the Indian Ocean lies the prize that could make him rich - ships sent by Napoleon to attack the China Fleet."

My thoughts:
It has been quite a while since I read "Post Captain", the book before this one, and I found it took me a while to get back into the world of Jack Aubrey & Stephen Maturin. The beginning is very exciting but that story line faded out, which I found a little disappointing. As expected, there were plenty of adventures at sea - storms & battles & Maturin's side trips investigating the local fauna - but rather more about both Jack & Stephen's romantic life than I had expected.

Simon Vance does an excellent narration.

And it makes a TripleCAT!!

Editat: març 20, 1:52pm

69. Morning Star by Pierce Brown (2016)
Audiobook narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds (BPL); 524 pgs; finished 3/16; 4*
Thursday Next (sci fi/fantasy)
Tommy & Tuppence: BingoDOG Square #7 - About time or time word in the title
Millhone: SFFKit March - Fortune & Glory

From the book blurb:
"Darrow would have lived in peace, but his enemies brought him war. The Gold overlords demanded his obedience, hanged his wife, and enslaved his people. But Darrow is determined to fight back. Risking everything to transform himself and breach Gold society, Darrow has battled to survive the cutthroat rivalries that breed Society's mightiest warriors, climbed the ranks, and waited patiently to unleash the revolution that will tear the hierarchy apart from within.

Finally, the time has come.

But devotion to honor and hunger for vengeance run deep on both sides. Darrow and his comrades-in-arms face powerful enemies without scruple or mercy. Among them are some Darrow once considered friends. To win, Darrow will need to inspire those shackled in darkness to break their chains, unmake the world their cruel masters have built, and claim a destiny too long denied - and too glorious to surrender."

My thoughts:
I was getting pretty frustrated with Darrow at about ~85% through but the ending was amazing. I doubt I will read more of the series but am glad I perservered through the trilogy. In particular, I thought that Roke wasn't very believable.

Using this book for the BingoDOG square about time (morning is a time word, right?) gives me another BINGO (second row completed) :)

març 20, 1:19pm

70. Money in the Bank by P.G. Wodehouse (1942)
Audiobook narrated by Simon Vance (Audible Plus lending library); 240 pgs; finished 3/17; 3.5*
Miss Silver (rereads)

From the book blurb:
"George Uffenham, the eccentric sixth viscount of Uffenham, has just converted the family fortune into diamonds and stashed them away in a secret hiding place. But as luck would have it, an unfortunate car accident soon thereafter causes him to forget the jewels location. In order to recover the gems, he must let out his estate, Shipley Hall, to big game hunter Clarissa Cork and return posing as the butler, Cakebread. Thus disguised, he will have the opportunity to search all the rooms and reclaim his family pile!

In typical Wodehouse fashion, Money in the Bank is a lively narrative full of witty banter, bumbling buffoons, and wild shenanigans."

My thoughts:
2020 reread - I am increasing my rating from 3 to 3.5*
2017 review:
Simon Vance does an okay narration for this stand-alone Wodehouse novel. The book itself is not one of Wodehouse's best but was still an agreeable way to spend a snowy day.

Editat: març 20, 1:35pm

71. *The Secret History by Donna Tartt (1992)
Audiobook narrated by Donna Tartt (Audible); 524 pgs; finished 3/19; 3.5*
Gamache (ROOTs)
Poirot (mysteries)
Holmes (Guardian's list)

From the book blurb:
"In this brilliant novel, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Donna Tartt gives us a richly textured and hypnotic story of golden youth corrupted by its own moral arrogance.

Richard Papen had never been to New England before his nineteenth year. Then he arrived at Hampeden College and quickly became seduced by the sweet, dark rhythms of campus life -- in particular by an elite group of five students, Greek scholars, worldly, self-assured, and at first glance, highly unapproachable.

Yet as Richard was accepted and drawn into their inner circle, he learned a terrifying secret that bound them to one another ... a secret about an incident in the woods in the dead of night where an ancient rite was brough to brutal life ... and lead to a gruesome death. And that was just the beginning..."

My thoughts:
Eh... I knew before I started this book that it wasn't the type of 'crime' book that I generally like. It is not a mystery in any sense but rather a character study of a group of criminals. Unlike some other books of this type (such as The Getaway or The Friends of Eddie Coyle), the criminals in this case are "nice" college kids. I guess that is why this book got so much attention...

The beginning section of the book reminded me of The Talented Mr. Ripley and I suspect that fans of that book will love this one.

A minor problem for me was the narration - Tartt was an excellent narrator but it just felt odd to me to be hearing this first person narrative of Richard coming from a female voice.

març 20, 1:42pm

72. Tainted Tokay by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen (2006)
Kindle book (Dad's Kindle); 181 pgs; finished 3/20; 3*
Gamache (ROOTs)
Poirot (Mysteries)

From the book blurb:
"Celebrating the success of the Cooker Guide, the Winemaker Detective Benjamin Cooker takes a cruise down the Danube with his wife and editor. Enjoying mythic Tokaji wines in Budapest, all is not what it seems. Meanwhile, Virgile must handle the business in Bordeaux, while Alexandrine is attacked."

My thoughts:
2.5* rounded up...

While I enjoyed reading this book, there really was little "detecting" (and that little was done by Benjamin's wife Elizabeth!). This entry in the series was actually 2 short stories entwined - one involving Benjamin during a trip to Hungary with his wife & his publisher and the other involving Virgile and Alexandrine back in France. It felt a bit like the authors couldn't come up with a full-length plot for either so decided to make a book by joining them. In particular, the wrap-up at the end felt quite rushed (especially for the French part of the story - I was shocked by the almost casual way Alexandrine's step-father's end was related with no discussion of how she reacted or felt about it.)

març 20, 1:56pm

Picked up a couple of BBs!

març 21, 6:26am

>214 leslie.98: This is one of the books I always feel I ought to read because everyone has done so, but just don't feel like!

març 23, 12:59am

>217 MissBrangwen: Yeah - I have several of those on my shelves... But then I remember how in my 20s, my dad convinced me to try watching a couple of Western movies (for which I had immense disdain in those days) such as High Noon & Stagecoach and it turned out that I really liked them. So I try to approach those books with the idea that I might be mistaken. I just need to get better about using that rule where you abandon a book if you still aren't enjoying it after 100 pgs.

Editat: març 23, 10:04am

>218 leslie.98: I use the "Pearl" rule: If you're under 50 years old, read 50 pages before abandoning your book. If you're over 50, subtract your age from 100. The remaining balance is the number of pages you need to read before abandoning the book. :)

More discussion here: https://www.librarything.com/topic/330048#7448314

març 23, 11:16am

>219 kac522: Oh that is even better! Thanks for the link too.

març 23, 1:25pm

>220 leslie.98: More about librarian Nancy Pearl: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nancy_Pearl

There's even a librarian "action figure" based on Nancy Pearl:

Be a great gift for your favorite librarian!

març 26, 12:25pm

My rule is when I ask myself 'why am I reading this?' I put it down!

Editat: març 27, 4:35pm

73. Moroccan Traffic by Dorothy Dunnett (1991) (aka Send a Fax to the Kasbah)
Kindle (Dad's Kindle) & hardcover (MOB); 278 pgs; finished 3/21; 3*
Gamache (ROOTs)
Miss Silver (rereads)
Poirot (mysteries)
Millhone: GenreCAT March- Action & Adventure

From the book blurb:
"Also known as Morrocan Traffic
A bomb explodes in the offices of Kingsley Conglomerates, shattering delicate takeover negotiations and sending upwardly mobile Executive Secretary Wendy Helmann, her inimitable mother, the Chairman of Kingsley Conglomerates, elusive portrait painter Johnson Johnson, and new Kingsley Board Member, microchip genius-cum-appliance designer Mo Morgan, from the board rooms of London to the souks of Morocco.

As Wendy endures chases on horseback through crowded narrow streets, vintage car races across the High Atlas from Marrakesh to Taroudannt, soccer championships laced with murder, and even a wild boar in the swimming pool, she realizes there’s more at stake than washing-machine components, or even the survival of Kingsley Conglomerates.

This highly pertinent look at the world of big business in the last decade of the twentieth century presents Dorothy Dunnett at the very top of her form."

My thoughts:
2021 reread via Dad's Kinde edition of "Moroccan Traffic":
This final book of the Johnson Johnson series makes a lot more sense to me now that I have read the previous (by publication order) book "Tropical Issue" (aka Dolly and the Bird of Paradise), which chronologically is the first of the series but also introduces several characters that show up in this book. Johnson is always a secretive fellow but there is a lot that happens towards the end of this book that could have used a bit more explaining. For example, it is implied that Seb and Onyx, the mercenary group he formerly belonged to, were responsible for the 'accident' that killed Johnson's wife and so injured Johnson 10 years ago (right before "Tropical Issue") but that Johnson's boss & friend had hidden that information from him - and in this book the boss shoots Seb before Johnson can get answers to all his questions. I needed this bit fleshed out much more - maybe I am growing dim-witted but it was unsatisfactory.

It may appear contradictory to have this book count both as a ROOT and as a reread... I have read this book before, indeed I own the hardcover edition, and thus it is a reread. However, I had not read before the Kindle edition which is on my Dad's Kindle so in that sense, it is a ROOT. This book concludes my 18 month long reading of Dunnett's Johnson Johnson series...

Editat: març 27, 4:49pm

74. *The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (1844) (translator unknown)
Audiobook narrated by John Lee (BPL) & paperback (MOB); 1130 pgs; finished 3/24; 5*
Millhone: GenreCAT March - Action & Adventure
Maigret (translated)
Miss Silver (rereads)
Holmes (Guardian's list)

From the book blurb:
"Dashing young Edmond Dantes has everything: a fine reputation, an appointment as captain of a ship, and the heart of a beautiful woman. But his perfect life is shattered when three jealous friends conspire to destroy him. Falsely accused of a political crime, Dantes is locked away for life in the infamous Chateau d'If prison. But it is there that Dantes learns of a vast hidden treasure. After fourteen years of hopeless imprisonment, Dantes makes his daring escape and follows his secret map to untold fortune. Disguised now as the mysterious and powerful Count of Monte Cristo, Dantes seeks out his enemies--and nothing will stand in the way of his just revenge. Filled with thrilling episodes of betrayal, romance, and revenge, The Count of Monte Cristo is one of the greatest adventure stories ever written."

My thoughts:
2021 review: reread via BPL audiobook
This unabridged audiobook narrated by John Lee made me bump up my previous rating from 4.5* to 5*. This (very) long novel reminded a bit of Victor Hugo in places with long digressions into minor characters' stories, though being Dumas even these were generally pretty exciting.

While I have enjoyed several film adaptations, none of them have the complexity of the novel (and most make some sort of significant change to either plot or character). I am so glad that I decided to reread this and in an unabridged edition! Previously, I had only read an abridged edition (which was still over 600 pages long!) so I am counting this for my Guardian's list category.

març 27, 4:57pm

75. Dead or Alive by Tom Clancy & Grant Blackwood (2010)
Audiobook narrated by Lou Diamond Phillips (Audible); 704 pgs; finished 3/26; 3.5*
Gamache (ROOTs)
Millhone: GenreCAT March - Action & Adventure

From the book blurb:
"Jack Ryan, the former president of the United States, is out of office, but not out of the loop about his brainchild, the “Campus” — a highly effective, counter-terrorism organization that operates outside the Washington hierarchy. But what Ryan doesn’t know is that his son, Jack Ryan, Jr., has joined his cousins, Brian and Dominic Caruso, at the shadowy Campus. While a highly effective analyst, young Ryan hungers for the action of a field agent.

The Campus has now turned their sights on the Emir, the number one terrorist threat to western civilization. A reclusive figure and mastermind of vicious terrorist acts, the Emir has eluded capture by the world’s law enforcement agencies. But now — with the help of ex-CIA agent John Clark and protégé Marine Colonel Ding Chavez — the Campus is in on the hunt. The mission: to bring the Emir in — dead or alive."

My thoughts:
This 13th book of the Jack Ryan series is the first one Clancy co-wrote with another author and I felt that I could detect a slight difference in the prose. While Clancy never had Jack (or other characters) hide their political and/or ethical beliefs, in this book they came across a bit more pontifical. The action was still gripping though!

Most of the action in this book centers around Jack Jr. & his work at the Campus. While I had read the previous book that started this plot line, it was years ago so I was struck by the appearance of the 2 Caruso brothers, twins who are Jack Jr.'s first cousins - I hadn't remembered there being extended family.

Lou Diamond Phillips does an excellent job narrating.

Editat: març 27, 5:11pm

76. The Burning Court by John Dickson Carr (1937)
ebook (Open Library); 224 pgs; finished 3/27; 3*
Millhone: MysteryKIT March - locked room
Poirot (Mysteries)
Tommy & Tuppence: BingoDOG Square #17 - type of building in the title

From the book blurb:
"When the family found an odd piece of string, tied at equal intervals into nine knots, under Miles Despard's pillow, they dismissed this trifle from their minds.

But then the housekeeper, a normally sensible woman, told an incredible story of a beautiful woman in the old man's room - a woman who had "walked through the wall". Who could go through a door which had been bricked up and paneled over for two hundred years, leaving an old man to a hideous death?

Edward Stevens smiled at their fears of the supernatural - until he read a manuscript on female murderers. On one of the pages was a clear photograph of a woman. Under it, in small letters, had been printed:

Marie D'Aubray
Guillotined for Murder, 1861

Edward Stevens was looking at a photograph of his own wife."

My thoughts:
This book featured a true 'locked room' mystery by which I mean the victim appears to have died inside a locked room which it was impossible for anyone to enter. Carr was the master at this sort of puzzle. This one isn't one of his Gideon Fell series but rather a very atmospheric (i.e. spooky) book set in Pennsylvania.

I really liked it up until the epilogue, which rather ruined it for me. I can't go into why without spoilers...

I really liked how Gaudin Cross figured out a non-supernatural solution to this mystery and if the book had ended there, I would have given it 4*. I could enjoy the spooky atmosphere and Stevens' doubts & fears about his wife Marie even more once a logical explanation had been produced. However, I am not a big fan of books featuring the paranormal or supernatural so when the epilogue returned me to that realm, I was very disappointed.

And using this book for the BingoDOG square about a type of building in the title gives me another BINGO! :)

març 27, 5:03pm

>223 leslie.98: If you're dim witted, so am I. Even though I've read most of these Johnson Johnson books before, I was so confused by Operation Nassau a.k.a. Dolly and the Doctor Bird that I put it aside. If I try again, I'll heed your advice to read the books in order.

març 27, 5:09pm

>227 pamelad: lol! Glad to know it isn't just me then! Since the books all are written in the first person by whichever 'dolly' the book features, I suppose we the readers are sharing the confusion of the character. That works okay for the first book or two but after a while the reader knows more than the character but not as much as Johnson - a frustrating state of affairs!

març 28, 8:55pm

77. The Teeth of the Tiger by Tom Clancy (2003)
Audiobook narrated by Stephen Hoye (MLN) & paperback (MOB); 480 pgs; finished 3/28; 3*
Miss Silver (rereads)
Millhone: GenreCAT March - Action & Adventure

From the book blurb:
"In the Brave New World of terrorism—where anybody with a spare AK-47, a knowledge of kitchen chemistry, or simply the will to die can become a player—the old rules no longer apply. No matter what new governmental organizations come into being, the only truly effective ones are those that are quick and agile, free of oversight and restrictions...and outside the system.

Way outside the system.

In a nondescript office building in suburban Maryland, the firm Hendley Associates does a profitable business in stocks, bonds, and international currencies, but its true mission is quite different: to identify and locate terrorist threats, and then deal with them, in whatever manner necessary. Established with the knowledge of President John Patrick Ryan, "the Campus" is always on the lookout for promising new talent, its recruiters scattered throughout the armed forces and government agencies—and three men are about to cross its radar.

The first is Dominic Caruso, a rookie FBI agent, barely a year out of Quantico, whose decisive actions resolve a particularly brutal kidnap/murder case. The second is Caruso's brother, Brian, a Marine captain just back from his first combat action in Afghanistan, and already a man to watch. And the third is their cousin...a young man named Jack Ryan, Jr.

Jack was raised on intrigue. As his father moved through the ranks of the CIA and then into the White House, Jack received a life course in the world and the way it operates from agents, statesmen, analysts, Secret Service men, and black ops specialists such as John Clark and Ding Chavez. He wants to put it all to work now—but when he knocks on the front door of "the Campus," he finds that nothing has prepared him for what he is about to encounter. For it is indeed a different world out there, and in here...and it is about to become far more dangerous."

My thoughts:
2021 reread via MLN audiobook narrated by Stephen Hoye:
Having just finished "Dead or Alive", I realized that I had very little memory of this book which immediately preceded it - time for a reread :)

I find that the Jack Jr. plotlines don't appeal to me as much as the earlier books focused on his father (Jack Ryan). I think some of that is a certain distinct amount of uncomfortableness with the Campus such as being willing to murder people that they decide are bad guys. Granted that I also think that they are bad guys, it still bothers me that some private enterprise (or even the government) would handle the situation by assassination.

març 29, 12:01am

78. Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot (1939)
Kindle (Project Gutenberg Canada); 56 pgs; finished 3/28; 5*
Miss Silver (rereads)
Gamache (ROOTs)
Nancy Drew (children's & YA)

From the book blurb:
"T. S. Eliot's playful cat poems have delighted readers and cat lovers around the world ever since they were first published in 1939. They were originally composed for his godchildren, with Eliot posing as Old Possum himself, and later inspired the legendary musical Cats."

My thoughts:
2021 reread via Kindle editon (without illustrations):
While I missed Gorey's illustrations, the poems are still delightful. I read them aloud to my cats *grin*
2014 review:
I had always thought of T.S. Eliot as a difficult and gloomy poet, so these poems were a revelation! Such light-hearted fun which really benefits from being read aloud & the Edward Gorey illustrations were marvelous too.

Back in 2014, I borrowed the 1982 hardcover edition (with Gorey;s illustrations as mentioned above) so I have read this before but I didn't own a copy until Dec. 2019. So yet another book which is both a ROOT and a reread!

març 30, 3:29pm

79. Trading in Futures by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller (2001)
ebook (Hoopla); 52 pgs; finished 3/28; 3.5*
Thursday Next (sci fi/fantasy)

From the book blurb:
"Adventures in the Liaden Universe(R) Number Five.

The short story "Balance of Trade" introduces Jethri Gobelyn, an aspiring Terran apprentice Trader who comes to the attention of a Liaden Master Trader.

In "A Choice of Weapons," Daav yos'Phelium must Balance an insult amid the elegant formality of a Liaden garden party."

My thoughts:
This entry in the Adventures in the Liaden Universe contains 2 short stories:
"Balance of Trade" - basically the beginning section of the novel of that name. I read it anyway despite having read the novel not that long ago because I do like Jethri a lot *grin*. 4*

"A Choice of Weapons" - a story of Daav as a quite young man, before he was nadelm. While it was interesting to see the young Daav, the story wasn't quite as satisfying as most of the Liaden books & stories have been. 3*

març 30, 3:33pm

80. Changeling by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller (2001)
ebook (Hoopla); 43 pgs; finished 3/28; 4*
Thursday Next (sci fi/fantasy)

From the book blurb:
"Adventures in the Liaden Universe(R) Number Six.

Novella "Changeling" features the collision of two off-world Liaden Clans -- one rich and influential, one borderline respectable -- after the contract marriage between two young and promising pilots results in an unforeseeable disaster for both of them.

Code and honor require both Clans to follow tradition -- but when one Clan follows tradition beyond Balance and into personal vendetta tradition and lives are at stake."

My thoughts:
This short story from the Liaden Universe gives us the back story of Rel Zen.

març 31, 1:21pm

81. The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory (2001)
Audiobook narrated by Vanessa Kirby (Audible); 664 pgs; finished 3/30; 4*
Amelia Peabody (historical fiction)
Gamache (ROOTs)
Millhone: HistoryCAT March 1500-1800s

From the book blurb:
"The #1 New York Times bestseller from “the queen of royal fiction” (USA TODAY) Philippa Gregory is a rich, compelling novel of love, sex, ambition, and intrigue surrounding the Tudor court of Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, and the infamous Boleyn family.

When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of the handsome and charming Henry VIII. Dazzled by the king, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her family’s ambitious plots as the king’s interest begins to wane, and soon she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. With her own destiny suddenly unknown, Mary realizes that she must defy her family and take fate into her own hands.

With more than one million copies in print and adapted for the big screen, The Other Boleyn Girl is a riveting historical drama. It brings to light a woman of extraordinary determination and desire who lived at the heart of the most exciting and glamorous court in Europe, and survived a treacherous political landscape by following her heart."

My thoughts:
Excellent historical fiction. I found that I had either forgotten or never known what the charges against Anne Boleyn were - quite shocking!

I was annoyed by the fact (historically accurate I am sure) that still births, miscarriages & deformities were all assumed to be the result of the mother's sins, never the father's.

març 31, 1:38pm

>233 leslie.98: This one has been on my list for ages! Great to read that you liked it.

març 31, 1:55pm

>234 MissBrangwen: It was absorbing - despite its length, I finished it in just a few days because I couldn't put it down!

març 31, 2:03pm

82. *Ursula by Honoré de Balzac (1841), translated by Katherine Prescott Wormeley
Kindle book (Project Gutenberg); 272 pgs; finished 3/31; 4*
Holmes (Guardian's list)
Maigret (translated)
Marlowe (classics challenge) - #8 a single word title
Gamache (ROOTs)
Millhone: AlphaKIT March - R & U

From the book blurb:
"In the small town of Nemours the locals gossip about the extent of Dr Minoret's wealth. When it is discovered that he intends to leave a large part of it to Ursula, his good-hearted, orphaned young ward, the avaricious Minoret relations scheme a way to get their hands on the fortune at any cost. Balzac considered Ursule Mirouët, his simple, penetrating story of the struggle over an inheritance, his masterpiece. Part of his panorama of French life La Comédie Humaine, it is a touching portrayal of innocence and faith, informed by a strong sense of fate, the supernatural and divine justice."

My thoughts:
This novel is also known under its French title of "Ursule Mirouët"; it is the first of Balzac's "Scenes from Provincial Life" section of his Human Comedy. Although I didn't realize it when I started, it is good that I read this book before "Another Study of Woman" (next up for me in "Scenes from Private Life") as Ursula appears in that one as a married woman which the Project Gutenberg addendum (listing which characters appear in which other books) alerted me to!

Ursula, orphaned as a toddler & taken under the protection of her godfather Dr. Denis Minoret, is reviled by Dr. Minoret's relatives as much as she is loved by the doctor & his few friends. Balzac does a wonderful depiction of avarice and the way people judge others by their own character. To his greedy relatives, the girl must be always scheming to get hold of the doctor's money & it is their responsibility to put a stop to that to protect their inheritance.

I delighted in this novel with one exception - the supernatural aspects. The episode of the Swedenborgian in Paris & then later Ursula's dreams were necessary for the plot but were for me unconvincing & unrealistic. That doesn't mean they weren't fun to read though!

Read in my omnibus Project Gutenberg Kindle edition "The Works of Balzac"

març 31, 3:19pm

>233 leslie.98: On my shelf for quite awhile. I've moved it to the front.

març 31, 3:34pm

>236 leslie.98: Sounds good, so I have rushed off and bought it.

març 31, 9:36pm

>237 Tess_W: Hope you like it as much as I did!

>238 pamelad: I read the public domain translation since I used the free ebook edition. I bet that the book is even better with a more modern translation. Do you know who translated the copy you bought?

març 31, 9:40pm

83. Redliners by David Drake (1996)
Kindle (Baen eBooks); 384 pgs; finished 3/31; 3.5*
Thursday Next (sci fi/fantasy)
Gamache (ROOTs)
Millhone: AlphaKIT March - R & U; GenreCAT March - Action & Adventure

From the book blurb:
"They were the toughest fighters in the galaxy-
until they got used up.

The mission: redemption-or death,
The troops were walking dead already,
so there wasn't much of a downside.

Major Arthur Farrell and the troops of Strike Force Company C41 had seen too much war with the alien Kalendru. They had too many screaming memories to be fit for combat again, but they were far too dangerous to themselves and others to be returned to civilian life.

The bureaucracy that administered human affairs arranged a final mission with the same ruthless efficiency as it conducted the war against the Kalendru. C41 would guard a colony being sent to a hell planet. If the troops succeeded, they might be ready to return to human society.

When the mission went horribly wrong, Art Farrell and his troops found their lives on the line as never before, protecting civilians to whom bureaucratic injustice was a new experience. And there was one more thing...

A story of soldiers and civilians,
of hope and, possibly, redemption."

My thoughts:
Lots of action in this science fiction book. One thing that bothered me was that it was never really explained why the Unity commander (or whatever) decided to send these particular civilians to colonize the planet. From the text, it didn't seem like they had volunteered!

abr. 1, 9:58pm

>239 leslie.98: Katharine Prescott Wormeley. I think it is the public domain version, because it cost only $2.
En/na Leslie Detects Part 2 ha continuat aquest tema.