CBL (cbl_tn) keeps it simple in 2021

Converses2021 Category Challenge

Afegeix-te a LibraryThing per participar.

CBL (cbl_tn) keeps it simple in 2021

gen. 1, 9:14am

After the year that was 2020, I decided to keep things simple for myself and make categories to fit what I've been reading.

Non-fiction Challenge
British Authors Challenge
American Authors Challenge
History CAT
Genre CAT
Group Reads
Everything else

Editat: març 27, 11:36am

Nonfiction Challenge (75ers)

February - Minority Lives Matter
They Were Her Property by Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers (3.5) - completed 2/7/21
Race Against Time by Jerry Mitchell (5) - completed 2/14/21

March - Comfort Reading
Four Women in a Violent Time by Deborah Crawford (2.5) - completed 3/27/21

Editat: març 20, 10:24am

British Authors Challenge (75ers)

January - Children's Literature
Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton (3) - completed 1/10/21

February - LGBT+
Spring by Ali Smith (4) - completed 2/7/21

Philippa Carr - We'll Meet Again (1) - completed 3/13/21
Vaseem Khan - The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra (4) - completed 3/18/21

Editat: abr. 11, 2:43pm

American Authors Challenge (75ers)

JANUARY - All in the Family
Dead as a Dinosaur by Frances Lockridge & Richard Lockridge (4) - completed 1/9/21
The Plague and I by Betty MacDonald (4.5) - completed 1/25/21

APRIL - Musicians who write books & authors who make music
The Baritone Wore Chiffon by Mark Schweizer (3.5) - completed 4/11/21

Editat: abr. 2, 8:18pm

History CAT

JANUARY - The Middle Ages
The Western Wind by Samantha Harvey - completed 1/17/21

FEBRUARY - Modern (1800-now)
Orley Farm by Anthony Trollope (3) - completed 2/26/21

MARCH - Early Modern (1500-1800)
Beheld by TaraShea Nesbit (3) - completed 3/31/21
Colonial Women by Carole Chandler Waldrup (2.5) - completed 3/31/21

Editat: març 27, 11:07am

Genre CAT

January - Nonfiction
The Address Book by Deirdre Mask (3.5) - completed 1/3/21

February - Memoirs/Biography
A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley (4) - completed 2/2/21

March - Action & Adventure
Odds Against by Dick Francis (4) - completed 3/27/21

Editat: març 13, 6:04pm

Group Reads
The Golden Egg by Donna Leon (3.5) - completed 1/6/21
Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers (4.5) - completed 1/31/21
Banker by Dick Francis (4) - completed 2/27/21
Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker (4) - completed 2/28/21
In the Teeth of the Evidence by Dorothy Sayers (3.5) - completed 2/28/21
By Its Cover by Donna Leon (3.5) - completed 3/11/21
Striding Folly by Dorothy Sayers (3.5) - completed 3/12/21

Editat: març 5, 8:59pm


The Ravine by Wendy Lower (3.5) - completed 3/5/21

Editat: abr. 5, 8:31pm

Everything Else

Next to Last Stand by Craig Johnson (3.5) - completed 1/22/21
Hedy's Folly by Richard Rhodes (4) - completed 3/7/21
Chasing Vines: Finding Your Way to an Immensely Fruitful Life by Beth Moore (5) - completed 3/8/21
D-Day Girls by Sarah Rose (3.5) - completed 4/5/21

gen. 1, 10:10am

>10 cbl_tn: Amazing how I'm reading that one too. It won't be a favorite though.

gen. 1, 10:11am

>11 thornton37814: I read the introduction last night and found it interesting. I hadn't thought about the 911 problem in rural areas with no street addresses.

gen. 1, 10:18am

>12 cbl_tn: I've read the Intro and about 3 chapters. I think my biggest problem is that it is the same story in a different setting over and over so far.

gen. 1, 11:08am

>12 cbl_tn: I remember when naming the rural roads here was taking place. Choosing the names in some places brought on warfare because every "old" family on the road wanted it named for their family.

gen. 1, 11:57am

Welcome back! Good idea to keep things simple after the year we've all had. I hope you have a great reading year in 2021!

gen. 1, 12:10pm

>15 rabbitprincess: Thanks, RP! You too!

gen. 1, 4:04pm

Hi Carrie, glad to see you back and all ready to take on 2021!

gen. 1, 5:11pm

Happy New Year, Carrie! Wishing you wonderful reading in 2021.

gen. 1, 6:48pm

>17 DeltaQueen50: >18 lkernagh: Thanks, Judy & Lori!

gen. 1, 6:58pm

>10 cbl_tn: The Address Book sounds interesting and like something I'd want to find a copy of! I'm looking forward to seeing what those who are reading it think about it in the final wash.

gen. 1, 7:00pm

>20 pammab: It's interesting so far!

gen. 1, 7:19pm

Good to see you. A nice simple theme is a good idea.

Happy new year and good reading.

gen. 1, 7:46pm

>22 VivienneR: Hi Vivienne! Great to see you! I hope you have a good reading year.

gen. 2, 8:37am

Hi and nice to meet you here!

The Address Book sounds like a very interesting read. I know that in Germany (I don't know about other countries) it might happen that you get a negative "score" at the bank simply because of your address (if it's seen as a "bad area" by the system) and I think that's outrageous. It's a relevant topic for sure!

Happy New Year!

gen. 2, 8:47am

>24 MissBrangwen: Hello! Thanks for dropping in! I am enjoying The Address Book so far. It's very readable and aimed at a popular audience rather than an academic audience. I'm still in the section on the origin of street addresses. I suspect that the sections on social issues may tackle the problem you mention about economic scores based on addresses.

gen. 2, 3:30pm

>25 cbl_tn: It sounds as if you are enjoying it more than I am. I think it's because a journalist rather than a historian writing it.

gen. 2, 4:20pm

>26 thornton37814: I wasn't expecting a scholarly work since it's a trade publisher. The author has academic credentials. I guess she's targeting a wider audience.

gen. 2, 4:21pm

Happy New Year, Carrie! I hope it brings joy and good books!

gen. 2, 5:21pm

>28 Chrischi_HH: Thank you! I wish the same for you!

gen. 2, 6:30pm

>26 thornton37814: >27 cbl_tn: My copy came in from the library today on Kindle so I'll probably start it earlier than I thought I would. I've renewed the Tenn history book I was telling you about.

gen. 2, 6:33pm

>30 lindapanzo: Wonderful! I'm hoping to finish it this weekend.

gen. 2, 11:16pm

Here's my attempt at the other meme from books I read in 2020:

What would you call the event? The Supper of the Lamb

How did they find their way? Watling Street

How did they know they'd arrived? A Question of Belief

Any special activities? Talking Until Nightfall

Did your guests stay over? At Home

Were there servants to help? The Nine Tailors

Was there turn down service? The Edge

How were the guests greeted? Gillespie and I

Was dinner held for later comers? Now

And dinner was? Five Red Herrings

Afterward? Amazing Grace

gen. 3, 3:16pm

January Genre CAT: Nonfiction

The Address Book by Deirdre Mask

I’ve had a heightened awareness of street addresses lately as a result of shipping errors to my address during the Christmas season. In one case, a package was misdelivered to my address, and in the other case, a package was correctly delivered to my address but directed to a person unknown to me. Both situations required a fair bit of effort to resolve. So, I was already thinking about addresses and problems associated with them.

Mask takes a wider view of street addresses, including the problems that arise from the lack of a street address. Mask structures the book in sections for development, origins, politics, race, and class and status. Most of the chapter names are cities or countries, and some are a bit misleading. For instance, the chapter titled “Iran: Why do street names follow revolutionaries?” talks mostly about Northern Ireland, using Tehran’s Bobby Sands street as a jumping off point.

The book is similar to the kinds of articles you’d find in Smithsonian Magazine. It raises awareness of the social problems surrounding street names and addresses, and it spotlights individuals and organizations that are working to solve these problems. While Mask stops short of advocating particular remedies, perhaps her readers will be inspired to awareness and action at the local level.

3.5 stars

gen. 3, 3:56pm

The Address Book sounds like an interesting read. Adding it to my future reading list when I am in an inquisitive frame of mind.

gen. 3, 4:22pm

>34 lkernagh: Hi Lori! Sounds like a good plan.

gen. 5, 11:59am

Have a great year, Carrie!

gen. 5, 4:55pm

>36 MissWatson: Thanks! You, too!

gen. 6, 4:58pm

Group Reads
The Golden Egg by Donna Leon

At his wife Paola’s urging, Venice’s Commissario Brunetti looks into the accidental death of the deaf and mentally disabled young man who helped at their dry cleaners. The more Brunetti learns (or doesn’t learn) about the man, the more disturbed he becomes. Brunetti wrestles with his conscience as he considers the tactics he and his colleagues use to interrogate witnesses. When did he become so comfortable with lying? And why doesn’t it bother him more? Brunetti also reflects on the nuances of interpersonal relations among the Questura, and faces some unpleasant truths about his own relationships.

This is a solid entry in the series, but it isn’t the place for new readers to start. It’s best appreciated by readers who have a long familiarity with the characters. If you know your fairy tales and fables, the book’s title is a spoiler.

3.5 stars

gen. 6, 5:01pm

gen. 9, 8:20pm

3. Dead as a Dinosaur by Frances Lockridge and Richard Lockridge

Someone is placing want ads in newspapers in the name of Dr. Orpheus Preson, a paleontologist. The police think it’s a “crack-pot” and aren’t able to offer him much hope. Preson unburdens himself to his publisher, Jerry North, and his wife, Pam. The Norths are unable to make any sense out of things, either. Then Dr. Preson dies, seemingly by his own hand. Or was it murder? Everyone near Dr. Preson seems to have a guilty secret – his siblings, his niece and nephew, and his professional colleagues. Will the Norths figure out who among the suspects is a killer before they become the next victims?

This entertaining crime novel set in mid-twentieth century New York is perfect escape reading on a dreary winter day. The climatic scene in the institute is so vividly depicted that it seemed as if I was watching a classic movie farce. The quality of the writing is as good as any I’ve encountered in this genre:

Pamela began to read. The cat Martini wriggled around the book and lay over it. People whom cats have honored are not supposed to have other interests. Pamela moved Martini, who voiced an opinion better not translated from the original cat, and crawled back into a position to obstruct.

My dog would agree with this sentiment! I’ll be reading more of the North’s adventures, if my dog will allow.

4 stars

Next up: Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton

gen. 9, 8:57pm

>40 cbl_tn: I bought 11 of their books at a library book sale. I remember my mother reading them and wanted to see what I thought about them. I've only read the first in the Mr. and Mrs. North series so far. I liked it, particularly the 1930s New York setting.

After I got a good look at what I brought home I realized the 11 were odd books from different series though.

gen. 9, 9:32pm

>41 clue: The one I read is in the middle of the series and was published in the 1950s. I'm not sure when it was supposed to be set. I assumed it was contemporary. I think it's one of those series where the protagonists never age.

I guess several books from odd series gives you a chance to try them out to see how well you like them!

gen. 10, 12:20am

>33 cbl_tn: Nice review of The Address Book by Deirdre Mask. I do think I'll add this one to my non-fiction backlog -- mostly because you mark it as feeling similar to something out of the Smithsonian Magazine, which sounds like about as much intellectual investment as I'd want to put into the topic. Interesting, light, sounds like a good fit for me right now! And maybe I'll learn some things about Iranian and North Irish revolutionaries.

gen. 10, 10:30am

>43 pammab: Thanks! I hope you enjoy it when you get to it!

gen. 10, 7:01pm

British Author's Challenge
Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton

Julian, Dick, and Anne’s parents send them to spend their summer holidays with their Uncle Quentin, their Aunt Fanny, and their cousin Georgina, who prefers to be called George. As an only child, George is used to doing as she pleases without regard to others, but her cheerful cousins soon win her over. She lets her cousins in on her biggest secrets – her dog, Tim, who stays with a fishing family because her parents won’t allow him in her house, and Kirrin Island. The island belongs to George’s mother, but her mother told her that it should be hers. As the title suggests, there may be hidden treasure on the island, and the children are determined to find it. The hunt is a greater adventure than they had imagined.

I wish I had discovered this series as a child. How I would have loved it! This adult reader marveled at the freedom the children enjoyed 10, 11, and 12. The adults in the story had no qualms about allowing the children to row to the island alone and to spend the night there alone. It’s unlikely that today’s children would enjoy the same freedom.

3 stars

gen. 10, 7:03pm

>45 cbl_tn: My mum had the whole series and I enjoyed them very much as a kid :)

gen. 10, 7:06pm

>46 rabbitprincess: I can see why! I'm not sure if I'll read any more of them or not.

gen. 11, 7:42pm

>45 cbl_tn: I was looking for a British children's mystery series and found that one, but I don't have access to any. I thought we'd have a copy of at least one in the series at C-N, but I guess we don't. I'm not going to spend money on something. Not sure what I'll end up reading for the January BAC if I read anything at all.

gen. 11, 9:21pm

>48 thornton37814: You should be able to find something, even if it's not a mystery.

gen. 12, 12:31pm

>48 thornton37814: There's the Wells and Wong mystery series by Robin Stevens...the first book is called Murder Most Unladylike, which I read and enjoyed last year. (The US title is Murder Is Bad Manners.) Stevens was born in California but grew up in Oxford and now lives in London...not sure if that's British enough to count?

gen. 12, 1:18pm

>50 christina_reads: It has to be a classic one so current things don't count for that challenge.

gen. 12, 3:16pm

>50 christina_reads: >51 thornton37814: I think 1996 is the cutoff date.

gen. 12, 3:55pm

Started reading The Address Book. Not too far into it yet but still undecided how I feel about it.

gen. 12, 5:08pm

>51 thornton37814: Ah, then never mind. Sorry!

gen. 12, 5:39pm

>53 lindapanzo: I didn't like that one nearly as well as Carrie did.

gen. 12, 7:01pm

>53 lindapanzo: >55 thornton37814: Maybe it makes a difference that I've spent time in several of the cities featured in the book - London, Vienna, Philadelphia, Berlin, & St. Louis. Linda, if you persevere until the end, you'll be rewarded by a few pages on Chicago in the conclusion.

gen. 12, 8:12pm

>56 cbl_tn: I'm still on the India part, less than 10 percent in. I've been to London many times and Philly too. St Louis, for a time, was a second home to me. I'm sure the parts where she's talking about cities I know will be better.

No doubt I will love the Chicago part.

I will definitely stick with it, keeping in mind that hockey season starts tomorrow. If I don't put my Kindle online, I don't think they take it back but finishing by Saturday, end of day, should be do-able.

gen. 17, 3:17pm

HistoryCAT: The Middle Ages
The Western Wind by Samantha Harvey

Shrovetide, 1491. In an out-of-the way English village, its wealthiest resident has drowned. The village priest, John Reve, dutifully reported the death to the dean, who has come to the village to inquire into the death. The dean proposes to offer a 40-day pardon for anyone who makes confession before Lent begins in three days’ time. Reve will hear many confessions over the course of these days, as he also thinks about the state of his deceased friend’s soul and his own priestly calling.

The author plays with time in the circular telling of the story, backwards from Shrove Tuesday to Shrove Saturday, the day of Newman’s death. Each chapter in the first half of the book is mirrored in reverse in the second half of the book. It’s no accident that the book is set as the Middle Ages were giving way to the English Renaissance. Narrator Reve ponders existential questions of the life and death of individuals, of civilizations and ways of life, of sacred and profane. The book’s structure begs for multiple readings.

Why can’t time go backwards as well as forward? If time’s not a river but a circle, and if you can travel round a circle one way or another and end up where you started, why can’t it go this way and that?...If time could go backwards, why didn’t it? If God could undo what was done, why didn’t he?

4 stars

gen. 17, 4:28pm

>57 lindapanzo: Hi Linda! I am glad that you finished The Address Book and that it was a good read for you! :-)

gen. 23, 10:53am

Everything Else

Next to Last Stand by Craig Johnson

Absaroka County Sheriff Walt Longmire has a soft spot for the Wavers at the Veterans’ Home. These men sit in their wheelchairs at the end of the drive and wave at passing vehicles. After one of the Wavers dies, Walt is surprised to find a box full of cash in his room, along with an old painting that seems familiar. Even though there doesn’t seem to be a case for the sheriff’s department, Walt’s curiosity leads him to Custer’s Last Stand/the Battle of the Greasy Grass (depending on your perspective), a legendary painting of the same, and a shady Russian art dealer and his associates.

It seems like Johnson really wanted to write about Custer and the legends surrounding him, and he had to push the boundaries of the series in order to do it. Walt really had no business launching an investigation without evidence of a crime. I can forgive the plot weaknesses since the secondary characters are much more prominent in this installment. Unusually, Walt is rarely alone in this book. He spends a lot of time with Vic, and he goes on a road trip with Vic and his best friend, Henry Standing Bear. One of my favorite minor characters, Lonnie Littlebird, makes an all too rare appearance in this book. I don’t think this book would work well as a standalone because of the plot weaknesses, but I think longtime series fans will love the ensemble aspect of this book as much as I did.

3.5 stars

gen. 26, 7:31pm

I put The Western Wind on my wish list and I really need to catch up with Walt Longmire.

gen. 26, 9:28pm

>61 hailelib: I think you'll find The Western Wind a rewarding read! Where are you at with Longmire? A lot has happened to him in the last 3 or 4 books!

gen. 26, 9:29pm

American Authors Challenge: All in the Family
The Plague and I by Betty MacDonald

In the 1930s, author Betty MacDonald spent nine months in a Seattle sanatorium recovering from tuberculosis. In this memoir, she recalls her treatment at The Pines, her fellow patients, and the doctors, nurses, and other staff who cared for the patients.

I found parts of the book laugh-out-loud funny. I particularly loved Betty’s first roommate Kimi, a Japanese American teenager whose combination of wisdom and wit triggered most of my laughter. I found other parts of the book disturbing. The Pines was a public sanatorium for those who could not afford private treatment. The patients were constantly reminded of this, and the threat of discharge was used as a means of behavior control.

Besides my love for MacDonald’s writing, I also wanted to read her memoir because I had a great uncle who died from tuberculosis in the 1930s after spending time in a sanatorium. MacDonald’s detailed account of sanatorium life gives me an idea of what my uncle might have experienced during his own illness and ultimately unsuccessful treatment.

4.5 stars

Next up: Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers

gen. 26, 10:08pm

>63 cbl_tn: That has been on my WL for sometime. Great review makes me want to move it up!

gen. 27, 5:41am

>60 cbl_tn: - I'm really far behind in this series, but it's good to know it stays good. I'm only at #7.5 which I'll read later this year for the Alpha Kit.
Also - I think you meant The Western Star not The Western Wind which is not by Johnson.

gen. 27, 5:10pm

>64 Tess_W: I am embarrassed to say how long it sat on my shelf before I picked it up last week!

>65 dudes22: It's a great series! I loved The Western Star when I read it 3 years or so ago. But I think she was commenting on my review of The Western Wind, which I read earlier this month for the HistoryCAT.

gen. 27, 6:57pm

>66 cbl_tn: - Sorry - I guess I wasn't paying enough attention.

gen. 27, 7:07pm

>67 dudes22: Very logical, though, since we were talking about Craig Johnson. And I was glad of the reminder of one of my favorite books in the Longmire series!

gen. 31, 7:24pm

Group Reads
Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers

Aristocratic sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey has finally married the love of his life, detective novelist Harriet Vane. Harriet has always fancied an old country house near the Hertfordshire village where she grew up as the doctor’s daughter. Lord Peter aims to please, so he sets things in motion to buy the house and prepare it for their honeymoon. The newlyweds and Lord Peter’s valet, Bunter, arrive at the deserted house to find nothing as promised. The house soon fills with charwoman, chimney sweep, gardener, vicar, and spinster organist, with each new arrival making it that much more difficult for the newlyweds to find any time to themselves. Then a body is discovered in the cellar, turning the whole adventure into a busman’s honeymoon. The plot is an unusual mashup of an inverted country house party and a locked room mystery, with the house party assembling after the murder instead of before.

In the author’s introduction (in the form of a letter to three women), Sayers writes:

It has been said, by myself and others, that a love-interest is only an intrusion upon a detective story. But to the characters involved, the detective-interest might well seem an irritating intrusion upon their love-story. This book deals with such a situation...If there is but a ha’porth of detection to an intolerable deal of saccharine, let the occasion be the excuse.

Sayers achieved exactly what she intended to, with intimate moments between Lord Peter and his bride interspersed with detective inquiries. Lord Peter and Harriet’s high spirits rubbed off on this reader. I laughed more through this one than in any of Lord Peter’s other adventures.

4.5 stars

gen. 31, 7:32pm

January recap

Non-fiction Challenge

British Authors Challenge
Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton (3)

American Authors Challenge
Dead as a Dinosaur by Frances Lockridge and Richard Lockridge (4)
The Plague and I by Betty MacDonald (4.5)

History CAT
The Western Wind by Samantha Harvey (4)

Genre CAT
The Address Book by Deirdre Mask (3.5)

Group Reads
The Golden Egg by Donna Leon (3.5)
Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers (4.5)


Everything else
Next to Last Stand by Craig Johnson (3.5)

Books owned – 6
Ebooks borrowed – 2

Best of the month: Busman’s Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers
Worst of the month: Five on a Treasure Island by Enid Blyton

gen. 31, 7:44pm

Currently reading:

They Were Her Property by Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers
A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley
Orley Farm by Anthony Trollope

feb. 3, 6:59pm

A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley

When Saroo Brierley was a small child, he became separated from his older brother at a train station and ended up on a train bound for Calcutta. After surviving for weeks, first in the train station and then near the river, Saroo ended up in an orphanage. When orphanage officials were unable to locate Saroo’s family based on the limited amount of information he was able to provide about his home and family, he was offered for adoption to an Australian couple. Saroo had a good life in Australia, but he never forgot his origins and the family he left behind in India. Decades later, Saroo discovered Google Earth and saw in it the possibility of locating the home he’d left behind in India. Finding home would be a long shot, but he had to try.

Brierley’s memoir is the basis for the motion picture Lion. The book is as moving as the film, and as you would expect, it provides more details about Saroo’s search and the reunion with his Indian family. I watched the movie before reading the book, and I think that would be the right order for most people.

4 stars

feb. 3, 7:52pm

>72 cbl_tn: I have that one on my tablet to read. Thanks for reminding me--and good review!

feb. 3, 7:53pm

>73 Tess_W: Thanks! It's a really quick read. I hope you enjoy it!

feb. 3, 8:19pm

I am not impressed so far with They Were Her Property. I'll carry on with it but it's unlikely to get a good rating from me, which is not like me.

feb. 3, 9:05pm

>75 lindapanzo: It's dry and a bit repetitive. I realize its target audience is academic, but good academic writing should still be engaging. They're not mutually exclusive concepts! I've been reading a chapter at a time and it's manageable that way.

feb. 3, 9:12pm

>76 cbl_tn: That chapter with all the legal stuff reminded me of bad law school classes I attended. Law doesn't have to be dull but she found a way to make it so. I was going to quit after that but things picked up again.

One review I read said that this would make a nice long article. Just because an author can go on at length on a topic doesn't mean she should.

There is great information and the writing detracts from that.

We have 3 bouts of snow and a week of polar vortex weather ahead. I may as well keep reading.

feb. 3, 9:29pm

>77 lindapanzo: That's the chapter I got the most out of, maybe because I'm not a lawyer.

Good point about the long article. A lot of the material feels like padding. Removing the padding would make for a better reading experience.

Still trying to figure out how it won book prizes. The runners up must have been dreadful.

feb. 4, 4:18pm

>78 cbl_tn: Then, at other times, some chapters are quite good. I'm leaning towards thinking of it uneven. I'll probably finish it tonight and, while I'm glad I read it, I'm also glad to be moving on to something else.

feb. 4, 5:59pm

>78 cbl_tn: >79 lindapanzo: You all are making me dread starting it.

feb. 4, 6:48pm

>79 lindapanzo: >80 thornton37814: I've been thinking more about this, and I'm wondering if there's a reason for the repetitiveness and what I'm seeing as "padding." The author is challenging the "conventional wisdom" that slavery in the South was part of a patriarchal system where white women (wives, daughters, sisters) were ruled by white men. By providing example after example after example of white women who owned, bought and sold, and physically abused slaves, the author is challenging the conventional wisdom. I think the chapter on the law was foundational in that the author contends that most people who address the topic look at what the law was and don't take it a step farther to see how the law was actually applied, or not applied, or skirted. I think it may have been the author's intent to pile up examples so that they can't all be dismissed as outliers. I do think that the writing could be more engaging than it is, but I think I understand why the prize judges would have given more weight to content over style.

feb. 4, 7:18pm

>81 cbl_tn: The discussion on February 21 should be interesting.

feb. 4, 7:22pm

>81 cbl_tn: That's an interesting point but I think she could've provided a few examples and then analyzed the data, instead of piling on very similar examples, one after another.

>82 thornton37814: I'd love to hear what the consensus was.

I am finding that, where I know very little on a particular topic, the material seemed more interesting. For instance, the chapter on wet nurses. I know next to nothing on that topic so I think I was more willing to overlook the repetition.

feb. 4, 7:31pm

>83 lindapanzo: What I struggle with are the references to WPA interviews of women talking about their mothers, aunts, etc. I have to read some passages twice to make sure I know who "she" and "her" are.

feb. 7, 6:21pm

Nonfiction Challenge
They Were Her Property by Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers

With this book, historian Jones-Rogers challenges the accepted narrative that slavery in the antebellum South was a patriarchal system ruled by white men. To the contrary, Jones-Rogers offers example after example of white women who controlled slaves, bought and sold slaves in their own right, and physically abused slaves in the name of “discipline.” Jones-Rogers work will shape the future narrative of white women’s active participation in slavery. However, the dryly academic writing may limit the book’s audience to mainly scholarly circles.

3.5 stars

feb. 7, 7:39pm

>85 cbl_tn: I'm still reading it. The discipline seems to be the main theme of the book, and I wish she'd cover other aspects. I can only take about a chapter per day so I should finish next weekend, I think--maybe a day or two before.

feb. 7, 10:05pm

>86 thornton37814: That seems like a good pace for this particular book.

Editat: feb. 7, 10:14pm

British Authors Challenge
Spring by Ali Smith

Richard is an aging filmmaker who’s just lost his best friend, screenwriter Paddy. Brittany is a security guard at an Immigration Removal Centre. Florence is a child with a mysterious ability to get people to do things they don’t want to do. Their lives will unexpectedly collide in Kingussie, Scotland.

The arts are as prominent in this book as in the first book in Smith’s Seasonal Quartet. This time it’s Katherine Mansfield, Rainer Maria Rilke, Charlie Chaplin, Beethoven, and visual artist Tacita Dean. There is grief, depression, and fear, but also the hope signified by spring.

The writing is what I’ve come to expect from Smith, yet it feels a bit derivative. Richard’s conversations with an imaginary daughter is a device Atwood uses to good effect in Hag-Seed. And the whole book has the feel of a Jackson Brodie novel, but without Jackson Brodie.

4 stars

feb. 7, 10:14pm

Next up:

Race Against Time by Jerry Mitchell

feb. 14, 7:29pm

Nonfiction Challenge Race Against Time by Jerry Mitchell

Investigative reporter Mitchell spent most of his career at the Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Mississippi. He was on the court beat early in his career when he volunteered to cover the premiere of Mississippi Burning. The man seated next to him kept up a running commentary during the film, telling him which parts were accurate and which were not. After the movie ended, Mitchell joined his neighbor in a conversation with two men seated behind them. Two of the men were retired FBI agents who had investigated the murders, and the third was a journalist who had covered the murders. The information these men shared with Mitchell set him on a trail that eventually led to convictions in four cold Civil Rights era cases: the murder of Medgar Evers, the murder of Vernon Dahmer, Sr., Birmingham’s 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, and the “Mississippi Burning” murders.

Mitchell’s writing had me on the edge of my seat. I had a hard time putting the book down once I started. It’s difficult reading because of the truly evil people Mitchell interviewed as part of his reporting. It must have been infinitely more difficult for Mitchell to live. I only had to read about these people. Mitchell had to meet with them, talk with them on the phone, and worry about which one of them might show up at his home on a dark night. The evil is balanced with the heroic and the brave in the form of the widows, parents, children, siblings, and friends of the victims, and the bittersweet satisfaction of justice after so many decades of waiting.

The book includes a thorough index, end notes, and a good-sized bibliography for further reading. The acknowledgments include a list of successful Civil Rights prosecutions from 1977–2010 including the case name, the victims, the outcome, the sentence, and the prosecution team. Mitchell helpfully provides the reader with the correct pronunciation for the names of all of the main figures. The only thing lacking is a list of the important figures and their roles. I would have referred to such a list frequently if one had been provided.

This book belongs in all Civil Rights collections. Highly recommended.

5 stars

feb. 14, 7:34pm

Next up:

The Ravine by Wendy Lower

feb. 16, 8:57pm

>90 cbl_tn: I put that on my WL!

feb. 16, 9:30pm

>92 Tess_W: Wonderful! I don't think it will disappoint you!

feb. 17, 3:09pm

>90 cbl_tn: Sounds like an important read, will look for a copy here too - thank you!

feb. 17, 9:37pm

>94 charl08: I hope you're able to get your hands on a copy!

feb. 18, 12:14pm

>88 cbl_tn: I really liked Autumn and yet never continued with the quartet. Thanks for reminding me of it and for making Spring sound fantastic. I should just reread the first and continue on from there.

feb. 27, 10:56am

>96 RidgewayGirl: That sounds like a great plan!

I am sorry for neglecting my thread for so long. I've been distracted by family history research and a breakthrough in what has been my most difficult line.

Editat: març 2, 9:27pm

Group Reads; HistoryCAT
Orley Farm by Anthony Trollope

When her son Lucius was an infant, Lady Mason defended the codicil to her much older husband’s will which left his Orley Farm property to Lady Mason’s son, Lucius. Sir Joseph’s heir, Joseph Mason of Groby Park, nursed a grudge against his stepmother and half-brother for two decades. Upon taking possession of the property at age 21, Lucius Mason decides to turn out tenant Samuel Dockwrath from two fields that he has farmed for years. Dockwrath, who is also a lawyer, sets out in revenge to wrest the property from Lucius Mason and put it in the hands of Joseph Mason of Groby Park.

In the face of a new trial, Lady Mason turns to her closest neighbors for support – Sir Peregrine Orme and his daughter-in-law, Mrs. Orme. Lady Mason was defended by barrister Furnival in her previous trial, and she once again seeks his services. Mr. Furnival has an eye for a pretty lady, and he unhesitatingly accepts Lady Mason’s appeal for his services, to his wife’s great dismay.

Lucius Mason is one of a group of young people whose affairs of the heart become entangled. Lucius is in love with Mr. Furnival’s daughter, Sophia, whose hand is also sought by Judge Stavely’s son, Augustus. Sir Peregrine Orme’s grandson, another Peregrine, is hopelessly in love with Madeline Stavely. His rival for Madeline’s affection is Felix Graham, a young attorney who is too honest to succeed in his chosen profession.

Trollope had a point to hammer in this novel regarding the English justice system and the disconnect between legal guilt and innocence and moral guilt and innocence. For all intents and purposes, Lady Mason is the protagonist, with Madeline Stavely and her suitors and Sophia Furnival and her suitors as subplots. Yet Trollope writes as if (or perhaps as if his readers will expect that) the young people are the central characters. I think this is why the pacing felt uneven to me. Lucius’ character also seems underdeveloped given his importance to both his mother’s central dilemma and the romance sub-plot. Lucius was more absent than present so that I feel like I saw his persona and not the inner man.

3 stars

feb. 28, 6:41am

>98 cbl_tn: That's a great review!

feb. 28, 8:20am

març 2, 8:20pm

Group Reads
Banker by Dick Francis

Merchant banker Tim Ekaterin works for a firm that bears his family name. The family talent for figures skipped Tim’s father, who was better at gambling away wealth than accumulating it. Thus, some firm members are wary about whose footsteps Tim will follow - his father’s or those of the company’s founder. As confidence in Tim’s ability grows, he is given an opportunity to evaluate a potential investment in a stud farm’s purchase of a champion racehorse. It seems a safe bet, until something goes horribly wrong. Inevitably, Tim will be held responsible for the loss of the firm’s investment, until an even more horrifying possibility emerges. What if the looming disaster isn’t just bad luck? If it’s the result of deliberate action, then a chillingly evil actor is behind it.

As is typical for a Francis novel, the plot is nicely twisty. Francis’s romance subplots are hit or miss for me, and this one is a miss, largely because I don’t buy Tim’s boss’s acceptance of the mutual attraction between his wife and Tim and his trust that their relationship will remain platonic. It’s a triangle not unlike Arthur, Guinevere, and Lancelot. The book also has a higher body count than many other Francis adventures, and one of the deaths is especially gut-wrenching.

4 stars

març 2, 8:55pm

Group Reads
Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker

Since this is the first book in a series, it’s as much about introducing Bruno and the small Dordogne village of St. Denis as it is about solving a murder. Readers might be forgiven for thinking that policeman Benoit “Bruno” Courreges sounds a lot like sheriff Andy Taylor, and that the atmosphere of St. Denis seems a lot like Mayberry. Like Sheriff Taylor, Bruno doesn’t carry a gun. He doesn’t even have a deputy with a gun and a bullet. Bruno spends his time helping the village residents outwit EU inspectors from fining market vendors for selling the locally produced delicacies that don’t meet the EU regulations imposed by Brussels bureaucrats. However, Mayberry’s tranquility was never disturbed by a brutal murder, and Sheriff Taylor was never called upon to investigate his friends and neighbors for such a heinous crime. The idyllic setting, the luscious descriptions of food, and the warm community spirit may appeal to fans of Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series and the village of Three Pines.

4 stars

març 2, 9:08pm

Group Reads
In the Teeth of the Evidence by Dorothy Sayers

This collection of Sayers short stories includes two stories featuring her famous detective Lord Peter Wimsey, five stories featuring traveling salesman Montague Egg, plus several other stories. Sayers is better at plotting than at character development, and this is especially true of her short fiction. I read the stories over the course of a month, and at the end of the month the most memorable stories for me were the Montague Egg story “Dirt Cheap” and “The Inspiration of Mr. Budd,” about an unassuming London barber who may have a wanted criminal for a customer.

3.5 stars

març 2, 9:37pm

February recap

Non-fiction Challenge

They Were Her Property by Stephanie E. Jones-Rogers (3.5)
Race Against Time by Jerry Mitchell (5)

British Authors Challenge
Spring by Ali Smith (4)

American Authors Challenge

History CAT
Orley Farm by Anthony Trollope (3)

Genre CAT
A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley (4)

Group Reads
Banker by Dick Francis (4)
Bruno, Chief of Police by Martin Walker (4)
In the Teeth of the Evidence by Dorothy Sayers (3.5)


Everything else

Books owned – 3
Books borrowed – 1
Ebooks owned - 1
Ebooks borrowed – 3

Best of the month: Race Against Time by Jerry Mitchell
Worst of the month: Orley Farm by Anthony Trollope

març 3, 1:18pm

>102 cbl_tn: I never did get to that one. Sounds good so maybe I should try for it this month.

març 3, 4:38pm

>105 lindapanzo: I really liked it. We won't read book #2 until April, so you have time to catch up!

març 5, 9:00pm

The Ravine by Wendy Lower

It all started in 2009, when Holocaust historian Lower was shown a photograph depicting the murder of a Jewish woman and a small boy in Ukraine. Lower notes that, while there are many photographs depicting victims of the Holocaust, very few of these photographs show their killers in the act of murder. Lower set out to do what she could to pinpoint the location of the mass shooting depicted in the photograph, identify the photographer, identify the German and Ukrainian killers, identify the victims, identify what was happening outside the borders of the photograph and who else was present at the time, and find out if the killers were still living to be prosecuted for their crime or if any of them were brought to justice before their deaths. In answering these questions, Lower also educates readers in the methodologies that she and other Holocaust researchers use in their work. The emphasis on methodology and the extensive notes section will be useful to scholars and students of the Holocaust.

This review is based on an electronic advance reading copy provided by the publisher through NetGalley.

3.5 stars

març 5, 9:48pm

>107 cbl_tn: Right up my alley! On my WL it goes.

març 5, 10:01pm

març 7, 2:56pm

Everything Else
Hedy's Folly by Richard Rhodes

Actress Hedy Lamarr was more than a pretty face. In her spare time from filming, she dabbled at inventing. One of her inventions, in collaboration with composer George Antheil, was a frequency-hopping radio control for torpedoes. Although the patent expired without implementation by the U.S. Navy, it was a step in the development of the spread spectrum technology that enables wireless communications like cell phones, GPS, Bluetooth, and wireless LANs.

The first part of the book explores the backgrounds of both Lamarr and Antheil, emphasizing the aspects of their early lives that contributed to their invention. Lamarr’s first marriage to an Austrian munitions manufacturer was a stepping stone to the invention. Her subsequent marriages were not, so they are barely touched on in this book. Her films are mentioned only as markers of time in between stages of the invention and the patent application process.

I found George Antheil’s background even more fascinating that Hedy Lamarr’s. He was a talented pianist, an avant garde composer, and an author as well as an inventor, yet for all of his talent he was barely able to provide for his family. His percussive musical style and his experimental composition for numerous player pianos provided inspiration for the patent he designed with Ms. Lamarr.

The invention is the real focus of the book. The technical details may put off some readers, while others will be disappointed with the scant details provided about Lamarr’s personal life, given the subtitle’s seeming promise that the book is about her life. Many readers will be surprised by George Antheil’s prominence, since he isn’t mentioned in the title at all. Readers willing to set aside any preconceived notions about the book’s contents will be rewarded with an introduction to two intellectually curious individuals and their innovations.

4 stars

març 8, 10:13pm

Everything Else
Chasing Vines: Finding Your Way to an Immensely Fruitful Life by Beth Moore

I am the vine, you are the branches; the one who remains in Me, and I in him bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5, NIV)

Beth Moore looks at what the Bible has to say about vineyards and fruit-bearing, from Genesis to Revelation. Moore firmly yet gently asks readers to engage in deep self-reflection, looking at past sorrows and regrets, present hardships, and future hopes through a spiritual metaphor of viticulture. Her message to women is that your life matters, and nothing is wasted. Your past, present, and future may all contribute to a fruitful life. This message resonates with me at my stage of life, as I think about aging well and what that means in practical terms. I want to be like the trees of Psalm 92:

The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God.
They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green,
to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

(Psalm 92:12-15, ESV)

5 stars

març 11, 3:50pm

>106 cbl_tn: I'll have to see if I can get to the first one this month. Oddly enough, I finished my first book of the month last night.

With most of my free time, I've been trying to help people find vaccinations. Family, friends, even total strangers.

març 11, 8:51pm

>112 lindapanzo: You are doing a good thing! The books will be there when you're ready. I am not yet eligible for vaccination. I will have to wait until they open it up to my age group.

març 11, 9:24pm

>113 cbl_tn: Biden said tonight that he is ordering the states to make every adult eligible for the vax by May 1st. Doesn't mean that they can get the vax by May 1st but they can get in line by May 1st.

If it works, my biggest (and happiest, besides Mom and Dad's appts) success so far will be finding a clinic 3 blocks from my 90-something uncle and my 80 something cousin who live in Chicago but don't drive and don't do the Internet. I found the location, arranged for a closer cousin to drive them, and then made their appts for tomorrow. If they do get it (I fear something will go wrong and, while the only requirements I saw were city residents who are seniors, you just never know), I will be so happy. Oddly enough, it is at the park I played at when I was a kid in the city.

I'm trying to focus my efforts at certain times and allowing some time to read. Also trying to let the early risers deal with the 6 am Walgreens openings.

març 11, 9:42pm

>114 lindapanzo: Fingers crossed that it works!

març 11, 9:43pm

Group Reads
By Its Cover by Donna Leon

After the discovery of the theft of rare items from the Biblioteca Merula, its director calls the Questura for assistance. Commissario Brunetti is a reader, but he knows very little about rare books and the collectors who covet them. While Brunetti is still trying to understand the means and motive for the thefts, a murder sends the investigation in a new direction.

I enjoyed this series entry for its library setting, but I was a little disappointed with the execution of the plot. Leon introduced clues that weren’t fully explored and suspects that weren’t developed. Signorina Elettra was off kilter without explanation, although maybe Leon plans to give her a larger role in the next book.

3.5 stars

març 13, 6:04pm

Group Reads
Striding Folly by Dorothy Sayers

Only one of the three short stories in this collection is a murder mystery, and Lord Peter Wimsey appears only briefly in the one with the murder. The title story, “Striding Folly,” has an air of the supernatural about it, as the central figure escapes a murder charge only because of a dream he had the night before. Had he not acted in accordance with the dream, Wimsey would have had little to detect.

“The Haunted Policeman” takes place immediately following the birth of Lord Peter and Harriet’s first son. A shaken Lord Peter steps outside for a smoke and encounters a policeman new to the beat. The policeman is rattled about something he has just witnessed, and Lord Peter loosens his tongue with celebratory champagne. An easily solved puzzle is just what Lord Peter needs to relieve the stress that built up during his anxiety for Harriet’s well-being during her hours of labor and childbirth.

“Talboys” is my favorite of the three stories. Seven years after their honeymoon at Talboys, Lord Peter and Harriet are on holiday there with their three young sons. The eldest, Bredon, gets into mischief with a neighbor’s peaches. No harm is done and all is forgiven. However, the very next night all of the peaches on the tree disappear. Lord Peter and Harriet’s unwanted house guest, Miss Quirk, insists that she can prove that Bredon is guilty this time, too. Lord Peter must find out what really happened to the peaches in order to prove Bredon’s innocence. Father and son get into some shared mischief in the process. Lord Peter is at his best when he converses with children, and it’s satisfying to me that the Wimsey canon closes with this glimpse of Peter as a father.

3.5 stars

març 13, 11:16pm

British Authors Challenge

We'll Meet Again by Philippa Carr

This book follows fraternal twins Violetta and Dorabella through World War II, first in Cornwall and then in London and the Southeast. Violetta is engaged to Jowan, who was missing in action after the Battle of Dunkirk. She never gives up hope that Jowan is alive, to the dismay of two would-be suitors. Dorabella had been married to the heir of Tregarland when she faked her death and ran off to France with her artist lover, leaving behind a baby son. After the end of her affair, she is able to resume her old life in Cornwall, just as war breaks out, by claiming amnesia. Conveniently, her husband had died while she was away. Throughout the war, the two young women engage in random activities and conversations until the war ends.

This book was published by the author’s literary executor after her death. It would have better been left unpublished. It needed much more editing than it received. The book consists mostly of unconvincing dialogue, with little descriptive content either of the landscape or the characters. The writing was so bad that it’s actually what kept me from abandoning the book. I was curious to see what unbelievable situation would crop up next as I eagerly looked forward to the end of the war and with it an end to my misery.

1 star

març 19, 2:02pm

I am excited that I was able to snag a first dose vaccine appointment for Monday morning! I have to go to a neighboring county, but that's OK.

març 19, 2:34pm

That's great! Getting mine uplifted my mood for sure.

març 19, 6:07pm

>119 cbl_tn: Congrats!

març 19, 10:38pm

>119 cbl_tn: Great news!

març 19, 11:21pm

Good luck!!

març 20, 10:24am

>120 clue: >121 thornton37814: >122 rabbitprincess: >123 LittleTaiko: Thanks! I feel like I see a light at the end of this long tunnel.

març 20, 10:25am

British Authors Challenge
The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan

As the story opens, Inspector Chopra is retiring early from Mumbai’s police force due to health reasons. On his last day of work, a distraught mother makes an impression on the good inspector. Since his replacement seems content to rule the death of the woman’s son as suicide, Chopra sets out on his own investigation. His sense of justice won’t allow him to enjoy his retirement until he knows how this young man died, and at whose hand. Chopra receives assistance from an unusual source – a baby elephant he has just inherited from an eccentric uncle. According to the uncle, Ganesha is no ordinary elephant. Inspector Chopra will soon learn the truth of this observation.

This is a promising start to a series featuring Chopra and his four-legged companion, Ganesha. I like Chopra’s honesty and his kindness to his wife, Poppy, and to Ganesha. I love the strong sense of place in Mumbai. The supporting cast is endearing, especially the baby elephant. I look forward to reading more of Chopra and Ganesha’s adventures as the series continues.

4 stars

març 27, 11:08am

Odds Against by Dick Francis

After a career-ending injury to his left hand a couple of years earlier, former jockey Sid Halley has a make-work position in a private security firm. When he is nearly killed in a sting operation gone wrong, Sid’s father-in-law, a retired admiral, provides him with a stimulating case involving the stealthy take-over of a race track. This proves to be exactly what the doctor ordered, and it becomes the catalyst for Sid’s transformation from former racing hero to successful private investigator.

Sid is not my favorite of Francis’s heroes, but I like him well enough to look forward to his further adventures. This book has a similar feel to Second Wind, which I liked just a bit more. Perhaps the difference is that this book is one of Francis’s earlier works, while Second Wind was written after Francis had years of writing experience behind him.

4 stars

març 27, 11:37am

Nonfiction Challenge (75ers)
Four Women in a Violent Time by Deborah Crawford

This book provides biographical profiles of Anne Hutchinson (1591-1643), Mary Dyer (1591?-1660), Lady Deborah Moody (1600-1659) and Penelope Stout (1622-1732). All four women made a name for themselves in what was then a man’s world. Anne Hutchinson scandalized her Massachusetts neighbors with her belief that the Holy Spirit spoke directly to her through the Bible without a minister to interpret it for her. Mary Dyer was censured and finally executed for her Quaker beliefs in a Puritan society. Lady Deborah Moody founded the town of Gravesend on Long Island. Penelope Stout survived a scalping and Native American captivity to become the “mother of New Jersey.”

Since Penelope Stout is my 9th great-grandmother, I am more familiar with her story than that of the other three women. The stories about Penelope Stout are more legend than fact, with the earliest historical accounts of her life appearing several decades after her death. I was prepared for a dearth of footnotes/end notes since this book is aimed at young readers. However, I was not prepared to see quotation marks around Penelope Stout’s words, implying that these words are quoted from another source. Consequently, I would categorize this book as historical fiction rather than history.

2.5 stars

març 28, 10:25pm

>127 cbl_tn: That's a shame!

març 28, 10:46pm

>128 thornton37814: Yes, and unfortunately Colonial Women isn't much better. At least there are no "direct quotes."

abr. 2, 1:44pm

Beheld by TaraShea Nesbit

This novel uses the lens of fiction to explore issues of class, religion, and gender in the young Plymouth Colony. The colony’s first murder trial and conviction serves as the central crisis of the book. Multiple voices tell the story, each from their own perspective, and the voices include that of Governor William Bradford’s second wife, Alice; the murderer, John Billington; Billington’s wife, Eleanor; the murder victim, John Newcomen; and William Bradford’s first wife, Dorothy.

I am not a fan of historical novels about real people and events, and this novel didn’t change my mind. It did leave me more aware of the tensions in the colony between the religiously motivated Puritans and the more secular laboring classes.

3 stars

abr. 2, 8:18pm

Colonial Women by Carole Chandler Waldrup

This book profiles 23 European women who lived in the United States during the Colonial era. Some of the women made significant contributions in business and government at a time when few women had that opportunity. Others were known mainly through their husband’s accomplishments, and their biographical profiles were mostly about the men in their lives. There are some factual errors, such as the statement that printing was invented during Lady Deborah Moody’s lifetime (1586-1659). One of the 23 women, Penelope Stout, was my 9th great-grandmother. The details of her life are more legend than fact, with the first accounts appearing in print several decades after her death. Her profile presents this information as fact rather than legend. Each profile includes at least three bibliographical references to other secondary sources. The bibliographies are the most useful feature of the book, since readers will need to consult other sources to confirm the information presented in this book.

2.5 stars

abr. 2, 8:28pm

March recap

Non-fiction Challenge
Four Women in a Violent Time by Deborah Crawford (2.5)

British Authors Challenge
We’ll Meet Again by Philippa Carr (1)
The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra by Vaseem Khan (4)

American Authors Challenge

History CAT
Beheld by TaraShea Nesbit (3)
Colonial Women by Carole Chandler Waldrup (2.5)

Genre CAT
Odds Against by Dick Francis (4)

Group Reads
By Its Cover by Donna Leon (3.5)
Striding Folly by Dorothy Sayers (3.5)

The Ravine by Wendy Lower (3.5)

Everything else
Hedy’s Folly by Richard Rhodes (4)
Chasing Vines by Beth Moore (5)

Books owned – 3
Books borrowed – 1
Ebooks owned - 1
Ebooks borrowed – 6
ARCs - 1

Best of the month: Chasing Vines by Beth Moore
Worst of the month: We’ll Meet Again by Philippa Carr

abr. 5, 8:32pm

Everything Else
D-Day Girls by Sarah Rose

Andrée Borrel, Lise de Baissac, Odette Sansom, Yvonne Rudellat, and Mary Herbert all worked as undercover operatives in France during World War II. At a time when women did not serve in combat, these women were trained in the use of arms and explosives. Some of the women served as field leaders. Journalist Rose tells their stories, including both these women’s voices and the voices of those who knew them well.

Having watched the British television series Wish Me Luck at least a couple of times, I was very interested in the true stories of the women operatives in France. The stories of these women were every bit as interesting as I hoped they would be. However, the book as a whole seems incomplete. Only one of the five women was still in active service by the end of the war in Europe. The first two thirds of the book is largely the story of failures, then suddenly it’s D-Day and the Americans and British land in Normandy and fight their way through to liberate all of France. More attention to the broader context in which these women served would have strengthened the book. I kept waiting for an explanation of why the author chose to focus on these particular women. Were they representative of all of the women who were undercover operatives in France? If not, how were they different? I found the answers to these questions not in the text, but in the interview with the author included in the book club guide at the end of the book.

3.5 stars

abr. 11, 2:43pm

American Authors Challenge
The Baritone Wore Chiffon by Mark Schweizer

Hayden Konig is a busy man. In addition to his full time job as chief of police of St. Germaine, North Carolina, he is also the organist and choir director of the Episcopal church. In his spare time, he writes cheesy hard-boiled novels on a typewriter once owned by Raymond Chandler. Hayden is called to England as a consultant after an American chorister is murdered at York Minster. On the home front, St. Barnabas has a new interim priest with a lot of ideas for changing things up with the liturgy. Hayden would normally push back at a proposal like the Clown Eucharist, but it’s Lent and Hayden has given up argumentativeness for the season.

I didn’t find this book quite as laugh-out-loud funny as the first book in the series, but it had its moments. The plot has a bit too much going on between suspicious deaths in England and North Carolina, and the connections strain credulity. And there were too many snakes in the book for my comfort. Like Indiana Jones, I hate snakes. Nevertheless, this is a series I’ll return to whenever I’m in the mood for a comic mystery.

3.5 stars

Editat: abr. 11, 3:07pm

>132 cbl_tn:

At least in March there were some good books to balance the less than wonderful ones.

abr. 11, 3:18pm

>125 cbl_tn: I read this recently as it was shortlisted for a campus wide "big read". At our book group recommending our favourites, this one did not do as well as the others. But I will probably pick up the rest of the series myself if/when I come across copies (and can shop in second hand bookshops again!)

abr. 11, 4:13pm

>135 hailelib: Yes! I had the whole spectrum from best to worst with a 5 star read, a 1 star read, and everything in between!

>136 charl08: I don't think Inspector Chopra will ever be among my very favorites, but it's exactly the kind of book I enjoy for escape reading. Not too demanding with interesting characters and an unusual setting.