dog eared copy/Tanya: 100 Books in 2013

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dog eared copy/Tanya: 100 Books in 2013

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Editado: Set 21, 2014, 6:09 pm

Hi! I completed a 75 Book challenge here on LT a bit earlier than I had anticipated and have decided to level up! I'll start this thread with a list of books I've already read this year. I have fairly eclectic tastes and read across a lot of different genres as well as via different formats (print, eBook and audio.) The list is dominated by backlist titles as I've dedicated this year to making a dent in my TBR stacks:

#001 The Bad Beginning (Series of Unfortunate Events #1; by Lemony Snicket; full cast performance starring Tim Curry)
#002 The Reptile Room (Series of Unfortunate Events #2; by Lemony Snicket; narrated by Tim Curry)
#003 The Strange Case of Origami Yoda (Origami Yoda #1; by Tom Angleberger; narrated by various narrators; featuring Mark Turetsky)
#004 House of Mirth (by Edith Wharton)
#005 Darth Paper Strikes Back (Origami Yoda #2; by Tom Angleberger; narrated by various narrators; featuring Mark Turetsky)
#006 The Eleventh Plague (by Jeff Hirsch; narrated by Dan Bittner)
#007 Love and War (North & South Trilogy #2; by John Jakes; narrated by Grover Gardner)
#008 Gone Baby Gone (Kenzie/Gennaro #4; by Dennis Lehane)
#009 The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee (Origami Yoda #3; by Tom Angleberger; narrated by various narrators; featuring Mark Turetsky)
#010 What Dreams May Come (by Richard Mathieson; narrated by Robertson Dean)
#011 The Lemonade Crime (The Lemonade War series #2; by Jacqueline Davies; narrated by Stina Moore)
#012 Cannery Row (by John Steinbeck)
#013 Fables, Vol. 7: Arabian Nights (and Days) (by Bill Willingham et al)
#014 Fables, Vol. 8: Wolves (by Bill Willingham et al)
#015 Dead Eye Dick (by Kurt Vonnegut)
#016 Swim Back to Me (by Ann Packer)
#017 Heaven and Hell (North & South Trilogy #3; by John Jakes; narrated by Grover Gardner)
#018 The Bell Bandit (The Lemonade War series #3; by Jacqueline Davies; narrated by Stina Moore)
#019 The Age of Innocence (by Edith Wharton)
#020 Black History: History in an Hour (by Rupert Colley; narrated by ?)
#021 A Cold Day for Murder (Kate Shugak #1; by Dana Stabenow; narrated by Marguerite Gavin)
#022 She Got Up Off the Couch (by Haven Kimmel)
#023 The Shape of Water (Inspector Montalbano #1; by Andrea Camillieri; narrated by Grover Gardner)
#024 "A View from the Bridge" (by Arthur Miller; performed by a full cast starring Ed O'Neill)
#025 The Great Gatsby (by F. Scott Fitzgerald)
#026 Splendors and Glooms (by Laura Amy Schlitz; narrated by Davina Porter)
#027 Wintergirls (by Laurie Halse Anderson)
#028 A Cold Day in Paradise (Alex McKnight #1; by Steve Hamilton; narrated by Dan John Miller)
#029 The Religion (The Tannhuaser Trilogy #1; by Tim Willocks)
#030 White Heat (Edie Kiglatuk #1; by M.J. McGrath; narrated by Kate Reading)
#031 Lipstick Jungle (by Candace Bushnell)
#032 The New Hunger (Prequel to Warm Bodies;by Isaac Marion)
#033 The Road to Fotheringhay (Stuart Saga #1; Mary Stuart #1; by Jean Plaidy)
#034 "After the Fall" (by Arthur Miller; performed by a full cast starring Anthony Lapaglia)
#035 Bangkok Tattoo (Sonchai Jitpleecheep #2; by John Burdett; narrated by Paul Boehmer)
#036 Green River Killer (by Jeff Jensen & Jonathan Case)
#037 Ex-Heroes (Ex-Heroes Quatrain #1; by Peter Clines)
#038 Devil's Bride (Cynster #1; by Stephanie Laurens)
#039 One Drop of Blood (Kel McKelvey #1; by Thomas Holland)
#040 The Cheshire Cheese Cat (by Carmen Agra Deedy & Randall Wright;narrated by Katherine Kellgren and Robin Sachs)
#041 Diary of a Wimpy Kid (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #1; by Jeff Kinney)
#042 Prayers for Rain (Kenzie/Gennaro #5; by Dennis Lehane)
#043 The Walking Dead, Vol. 7: The Calm Before (by Robert Kirkman et al)
#044 Ethan Frome and Selected Stories (by Edith Wharton)
#045 "Incident at Vichy" (by Arthur Miller)
#046 Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving (by Jonathan Evison)
#047 Chariots of Fire (by W.J. Weatherby; based on the screenplay by Colin Welland)
#048 End of the World (Champion of the Sidhe #1) (by S.A. Archer and S. Ravynheart)
#049 The Shadowy Horses (by Susanna Kearsley)
#050 Blackbirds (Miram Black #1; by Chuck Wendig)
#051 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #2; by Jeff Kinney)
#052 The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War (by Richard Rubin)
#053 K.I.A. (Kel McKelvey #2; by Thomas Holland)
#054 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #3; by Jeff Kinney)
#055 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #4; by Jeff Kinney)
#056 Bad Kitty School Daze (by Nick Bruel)
#057 The Center of the World (by Thomas Van Essen)
#058 Same Sun Here (written and narrated by Silas House & Neela Vaswani)
#059 Wonder (by R.J. Palacio; narrated by Diana Steele, Nick Podehl and, Kate Rudd)
#060 The Little Book (by Selden Edwards)
#061 The Freedom Maze (by Delia Sherman; narrated by Robin Miles)
#062 Sarah, Plain and Tall (by Patricia MacLachlan)
#063 Timeless (The Parasol Protectorate #5; by Gail Carringer)
#064 Fake Mustache (by Tom Angleberger)
#065 Ex-Patriots (Ex-Heroes Quatrain #2; by Peter Clines)
#066 The Nazi and the Psychiatrist: Hermann Goring, Dr. Douglas M. Kelley, and a Fatal Meeting of Minds at the End of WWII (by Jack El-Hai)
#067 The Art of Hearing Heartbeats (by Jan-Philipp Sendker)
#068 The Well-Tempered Heart (Sequel to The Art of Hearing Heartbeats; by Jan-Philipp Sendker)
#069 The Man in the Empty Suit (by Sean Ferrell; narrated by Mauro Hantman)
#070 A Beautiful Truth (by Colin McAdam)
#071 Moonlight Mile (Kenzie/Gennaro #6; by Dennis Lehane)
#072 14 (by Peter Clines)
#073 A Rake's Vow (Cynster #2; by Stephanie Laurens)
#074 Sin City: The Hard Goodbye (Sin City Volume #1; by Frank Miller)
#075 Lamb (by Bonnie Nazdam)
#076 The Time Traveler's Wife (by Audrey Neffenegger)
#077 Down to You (The Bad Boys #1; by M. Leighton)
#078 Up to Me (The Bad Boys #2; by M. Leighton)
#079 Domestic Violets (by Matthew Norman)
#080 This Side of Paradise (by F. Scott Fitzgerald)
#081 Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (The Karla Trilogy #1; by John Le Carre)
#082 Mystic River (by Dennis Lehane)
#083 Dead Beat (The Dresden Files #7; by Jim Butcher; narrated by James Marsters)
#084 The Honourable Schoolboy (The Karla Trilogy #2; by John Le Carre)
#085 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #5; by Jeff Kinney)
#086 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #6; by Jeff Kinney)
#087 Anya's Ghost (by Vera Brosgol)
#088 Persepolis (by Marjane Satrapi)
#089 Watchmen (by Alan Moore; illustrated by David Gibbons)
#090 Night Film (by Marisha Pessl)
#091 Where'd You Go, Bernadette (by Maria Semple)
#092 Falling Upwards (by Richard Holmes)
#093 Life After Life (by Kate Atkinson)
#094 V for Vendetta (by Alan Moore and David Lloyd)
#095 The Ocean at the End of the Lane (by Neil Gaiman)
#096 A Greyhound of a Girl (by Roddy Doyle)
#097 Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity (The Unwritten #1; by Mike Carey and Peter Gross)
#098 Bunner Sisters (by Edith Wharton)
#099 New Tricks (Andy Carpenter #7; by David Rosenfelt; narrated by Grover Gardner)
#100 I Love You, Beth Cooper (by Larry Doyle)
#101 Feed (Newsflesh Trilogy #1; by Mira Grant)
#102 The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards (by Kristopher Jansma)
#103 Suspect (by Robert Crais; narrated by MacLeod Andrews
#104 The Buccaneers (by Edith Wharton)
#105 Dog Tags (Andy Carpenter #8; by David Rosenfelt; narrated by Grover Gardner)
#106 Proven Guilty (The Dresden Files #8 by Jim Butcher; narrated by James Marsters)
#107 Night (by Elie Wiesel)
#108 Gregor the Overlander (Underlander series #1 by Suzanne Collins; narrated by Paul Boehmer)
#109 Proven Guilty (The Dresden Files #8 by Jim Butcher; narrated by James Butcher)
#110 This Gun for Hire (by Graham Greene)
#111 The Testament of Mary (by Colm Toibin)
#112 Little Altars Everywhere (by Rebecca Wells)
#113 Pie (by Sarah Weeks; narrated by Kate Rudd)
#114 Kenny & the Dragon (by Tony Diterlizzi; narrated by Alan Cumming)
#115 Horns (by Joe Hill)
#116 The Sisters Brothers (by Patrick DeWitt)
#117 The Surprise Attack of Jabba the Puppett (Origami Yoda book by Tom Angleberger; narrated by multiple narrators starring Mark Turetsky)
#118 Classic Ghost Stories: Eighteen Spine-Chilling Tales of Terror and the Supernatural (edited by Bill Bowers)
#119 Least Likely to Marry (by Amy Andrews)
#120 A Beautiful Place to Die (by Malla Nunn; narrated by Saul Reichlin)
#121 Shutter Island (by Dennis Lehane)
#122 Snobbery with Violence (by Marion Chesney)
#123 Mozart (by Paul Johnson)
#124 Chasing Vermeer (by Blue Balliett; narrated by Ellen Reilly)
#125 Memoirs: Duc de Saint-Simon Volume One: 1691-1709 (by Louis de Rouvroy, duc de Saint Simon)
#126 The Cold Dish (by Craig Johnson)
#127 The Cold, Cold Ground (by Adrian McKinty; narrated by Gerard Doyle)
#128 The Creeps (by John Connolly)
#129 Rock Paper Tiger (by Lisa Brackman)
#130 Escape from Berlin (by Irene N. Watts)
#131 A New World (Prequel to the Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness)
#132 Betting on You (Always a Bridesmaid #1; by Jessie Evans)
#133 Finding Cinderella (Novella in the Hopeless and Losing Hope bibio-world by Colleen Hoover)
#134 If the Shoe Fits (First in the Once Upon a Time Romance series by Laurie LeClair)
#135 Waking Up Married (by Mira Lynn Kelly)
#136 The Doctor Wears a Stetson (First in the Diamondback Ranch series by Christie Craig)
#137 Gotcha! (by Christine Craig)
#138 Untamed Hearts (by Grace Melody)
#139 Ruined by a Rake (by Erin Knightley)
#140 The Inconvenient Duchess (by Christine Merrill)
#141 A Winter's Knight (by Elizabeth Cole)
#142 Mine, All Mine (by Ella J. Quince)
#143 A SEAL's Seduction (by Tawny Weber)
#144 Harm's Hunger (by Patrice Michelle)
#145 Honeymoon for One (by Chris Keniston)
#146 Surrender (First in the Surrender series by Melody Anne)
#147 Submit (Second in the Surrender series by Melody Anne)
#148 The Tycoon's Revenge (by Melody Anne)
#149 The Billionaire Wins the Game (by Melody Anne)
#150 Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane (Underlander Chronicles #2, by Suzanne Collins; narrated by Paul Boehmer)
#151 Stories: All New Tales (edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio)
#152 Coronado (by Dennis Lehane)
#153 Blackwood (by Gwenda Bond)
#154 Smiley's People (by John LeCarre)
#155 The Maid's Daughter (by Janice Maynard)
#156 White Night (The Dresden Files #9; by Jim Butcher; narrated by James Marsters)
#157 Unaccustomed Earth (by Jhumpa Lahiri)
#158 Momentary Marriage (by Carol Rose)
#159 Forbidden Disclosure (by Terri Marie)
#160 All I Want for Christmas (by Lisa Mondello)
#161 Young Fredle (by Cynthia Voight)
#162 One Dog Night (Andy Carpenter series #9; by David Rosenfelt; narrated by Grover Gardner)
#163 A Wrinkle in Time (The Time Quintet #1 by Madeline L'Engle)
#164 Vampires in the Lemon Grove (by Karen Russell)
#165 Last Night at the Lobster (by Stewart O'Nan)
#166 Cartographer of No Man's Land (by P.S. Duffy)
#167 The Ballad of Barnabas Pierkiel (by Magdalena Zyzak)

*ALSO: Five stories from Trickster: Native American Tales: A Graphic Collection (edited by Matt Dembicki)

Tinkers (by Paul Harding) - style not my cuppa (ref Marilyn Robinson)
The House at Riverton (by Kate Morton) - plot too slow
Christine Falls (by Benjamin Black; narrated by Timothy Dalton) - narration too fast
The Coroner's Lunch (by Colin Coterill; narrated by Clive Chafer) - narration too flat/depressed sounding/somnambulant
Maddaddam (by Margaret Atwood) - Can't get any traction on this underdeveloped, inconsistent and anti-climatic story
The Hypnotist (by Lars Kepler) - Do not like any of the characters at all.
The Teleportation Accident (by Ned Beauman) - Not the time travel story I was looking for.

I don't write full-fledged reviews anymore; but I've started writing "quick-and-dirty" reviews on my tumblr account some of which I will copy here :-)

And of course, if you have questions about something listed above, I'll be more than happy to answer/reply/comment :-)

Editado: Jul 2, 2013, 7:37 pm

Welcome ! Lots of interesting reads though I did enjoy Tinkers.

Editado: Out 16, 2013, 1:38 am

Thank you!

I had had Tinkers on my list since it was published. I had no idea what it was about and had been really looking forward to it nonetheless. Unfortunately, it reminded me too much of Marilyn Robinson's Gilead, which was also a DNF for me a couple of years ago. I can't quite put my finger on it; but it's something about the mood or the style that's a shade too slow or too ruminative or abstract or... I don't know. I think I read about 50 pages of it before deciding to move on :-/

I enjoy reading lit-fic (amongst other genres) but I tend to lean more towards ManBooker kinds of titles more than PEN/Faulkner kinds ;-)

Jul 3, 2013, 3:14 am

Interesting list of books. I'll be keeping my eye on your next 25! I'm not a Kate Morton fan either.

Editado: Jul 3, 2013, 11:52 am

Thank you!

Oh! You don't know how relieved I am to hear that someone else doesn't like Kate Morton! So many of my friends love & recommended The House at Riverton especially and they can't quite figure out what's wrong with me for not liking her!

I understood The House at Riverton to be a mystery and started it. Things were lovely, but nothing ever really happened. When reading it became a chore, I decided to DNF it and read a synopsis of the plot. I honestly didn't think the ending was worth the time to read up to it so I was glad to have dropped it!

Though admittedly not addicted to Downton Abbey, I do like the couple of episodes I've watched and; I often find many of my books set in the UK and; I've been known to indulge and enjoy slower plots with lots of landscapes in them (e.g. Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier); but unfortunately THAR really offered me nothing fresh to consider or a hook to keep me interested.

Editado: Jul 16, 2013, 9:12 pm

The Time Traveller’s Wife
By Audrey Niffenegger
Published 2004 by Harvest/Harcourt, Inc.
Speculative Fiction; Romance

WHO: Henry deTamble and Clare Abshire,…
WHAT: a time traveller and the woman he loves…
WHERE: play out their drama in a meadow at her parent’s home and against the backdrop of Chicago, IL…
WHEN: from Sunday, June 16, 1968 - Thursday, July 24, 2053…
WHY: in a story of destiny/fate filled with romance, comedy and, tragedy alike…
HOW: all in concert with Henry’s Chronic Displacement Disorder (CDP)

+ The Time Traveller’s Wife is a tightly constructed and well edited story. The timeline is not linear, but by confining most of Henry’s adventures to a segment of time tethered to specific relationships that are linear, and in the past and present tenses, the story doesn’t become unwieldy or fantastical in scope.

+ Events are plausible. There’s no magic or supernatural effect deployed in the story.

+ 8 Kleenex story. Admittedly, this may also be a “minus." The Time Traveller’s Wife is definitely a tear-jerker, filled with emotional yearnings never fully requited even as the characters play out the scripts of their lives. Each victory in determinism is bittersweet, every hope tinged with the wistfulness of knowing it may not be actualized. Readers will be able to identify and emphasize with these feelings, which are magnified in the story and thereby giving the reader access into the life and world of The Time Traveller’s Wife.

- There are a couple segments where it is not clear what Henry’s appearances signifies. It is less of a case loose ends and more of a situation in which the appearances are not strongly enough linked to a relevant event in the story. For example, Henry appears in the kitchen, beaten and bloody. Why?

- It is not clear as to how much Henry’s father knows or understands about Henry. Though a secondary character, Henry’s father plays a significant role; but knowing whether ignorance or ambivalence is a factor in his relationship with his son would help the reader develop a clearer picture of the dynamics. Likewise, the nature of Inga (Henry’s one-time girlfriend,) as well as what she knows and when, is not explicit. This again lends a vagueness as to the tenor of their relationship and is slightly problematic in a key, tension-filed scene.

OTHER: Years ago, I started listening to the audio edition of The Time Traveller’s Wife (by Audrey Niffenegger; narrated by William Hope and Laurel Lefkow.) My ambivalence towards the production was due to the narration: The narrators didn’t quite pull off the age ranges either in pitch/tenor or affectation convincingly. When I lost the CDs, I didn’t care, but I sensed that I might like the actual story so I purchased a print copy of The Time Traveller’s Wife (by Audrey Niffenegger.) I apologize, but I do not remember who I purchased it from; but it’s been in my TBR stacks since 08/10/2009! I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.

I have challenged myself to read forty books this summer. Many books will be backlist titles as I’m trying to clear the stacks; but I have no doubt that new releases will make their way in too! ;-)

Jul 16, 2013, 9:07 pm

Down to You and Up to Me
Bad Boys Novels #1 & #2
by M. Leighton
Published 02/12/2013 by Penguin Group U.S.A.
Contemporary Romance

WHO: Cash & Nash Davenport and Olivia Townsend, Bad Boy twins and a co-ed respectively…
WHAT: fall into a sex/love triangle…
WHERE: that begins at Dual, a nightclub in Atlanta, GA; touches at Salt Springs, a rural town about an hour’s drive from Atlanta; and at a couple of tertiary settings e.g. an art gallery and Olivia’s apartment.
WHEN: The setting is now (cell phones and Hummers) though computers are not noted and ledgers are physical/paper copies.
WHY: Olivia is attracted to bad boys but wants to avoid falling for the same old trap that has led to heartbreak in the past. While inevitably attracted to nightclub owner, Cash, she also finds herself drawn to his twin brother, Nash - a lawyer and, more provocatively, the boyfriend of her bitchy roommate and cousin.
HOW: The context for the relationships that evolve in this story is the dangerous secret that the twins are keeping, a situation that puts Olivia’s life at risk.

+/- Very light reading with intriguing premise (come on! Twins! Bad boy! Forbidden fruit! The Russian Mafia!) but comes across as a suburban daydream and; the emotional life of the characters is stunted even for young twenty-somethings.

+/- Lots of pages to dog ear if you are looking for the sex scenes though nothing particularly novel about the sex described.

- The two novels are really one story arc and could have been combined and edited down to better effect.

OTHER: Penguin’s First to Read, a program that offers a lottery chance for readers to access digital galleys/advanced reading copies of their titles, offered Everything for Us (Bad Boys #3) this July. Everything for Us features the bitchy cousin that I mentioned above, in a kidnapping plot. I entered the lottery and, in anticipation of perhaps winning, I decided to read the first two books in the series. I did not win an ARC of Everything for Us whose release date is September 3, 2013. As it stands now, it is unlikely that I will read and review Everything for Us.

I purchased and dnloaded digital copies of Down to You and Up to Me (by M. Leighton) from Barnes & Noble/nook. I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.

Jul 18, 2013, 10:32 pm

Good reviews!

Ago 6, 2013, 7:54 am

A belated welcome from me! I'm also reading the Harry Dresden books, they're very good escapism.

Editado: Ago 9, 2013, 12:07 am

Dead Beat
The Dresden Files #7
by Jim Butcher; narrated by James Marsters

15 hours, 8 minutes
Book published by Roc in 2006
Audiobook published by Penguin Audio, 2010

WHO: Harry Dresden, wizard and licensed detective…
WHAT: deals with the threat of necromancers…
WHERE: who have come into Chicago…
WHEN: on Halloween (when the threshold between the mortal and preternatural world is low) - and incidentally also Harry’s birthday…
WHY: to cast a mega-spell that will create a demi-god of one of the necromancers…
HOW: by harnessing the power of dead spirits and following the Word of Kemmlar, a book of a very powerful past necromancer.

+ The Dresden Files is a terribly uneven series, but this is one of the better ones. Butcher has pared down the cast of characters to a manageable size and, nicely balanced the action and comedy.
+ The plot lines are always interesting in that they are creative, original and clever. C’mon! Zombies! Necromancers! A Fallen Angel! A dinosaur named Sue and… Mouse!
+ There were no obvious continuity errors, as past novels in the series tend to be fraught with.
- But it must be said that Butcher also tends to dwell overmuch on the pathos of Harry and, the action scenes always require a bit of forgiveness on the part of the reader or listener in terms of choreography.

+ James Marsters has a wonderfully rich voice that lends itself directly to the character of Harry, meaning that the listener detects no delineation between the narrator and the character.
- Over time, the distinctiveness of each in the cast of characters has leveled off (e.g. Bob seems to sound less British as the series continues.)
- There is a neat plot twist involving one of the characters but the revelation falls a little flat. Because the scenes which would have teased the listener weren’t shaped to cue the listener with a little tell, or were underplayed, the twist is anti-climatic.

I purchased and dnloaded a digital copy of Dead Beat (by Jim Butcher; narrated by James Marsters) from the now defunct audiobook dnload web-site, on 11/23/2011. I loved their discounted prices and expanding selections, but always had a problem playing the files: At any given point during the listening experience, the audio would jump back to the beginning of the file playing or, ahead to the next file. I never did find a fix for this issue and had to deal with it several times during this listening experience :-(

Ago 9, 2013, 8:36 am

Domestic Violets
by Matthew Norman
Published by HarperCollins Publishers on 08/09/2011
General Fiction

WHO: Tom Violet, an aspiring writer living in the shadow of his Pulitzer Prize- winning novelist-father…
WHAT: is stuck in a dead-end job and a deteriorating marriage…
WHERE: while doing time at the office and returning home to the upscale neighborhood of Georgetown (Washington, DC.)
WHEN: In the weeks between the announcement of the Pulitzer Prize winners and the acceptance ceremony, Tom Violet’s father moves in with his son, adding to Tom’s struggle to remain afloat in a sea of implicit and explicit expectations.
WHY: Tom walks a fine line between self-destruction and survival as he determines who he is…
HOW: through his self-deprecating wit and boldness, and by negotiating the relationships of those most important in his life.

+ This is a light read with an original and interesting, plot twist. Matthew Norman keeps a tight rein on the satire, keeping the tone suburban and never succumbing to the temptations of becoming too dark, scathing or maudlin.

- The resolution of the story is somewhat awkwardly executed and vaguely unsatisfying. I’m not really sure I buy it as the story itself doesn’t sell it: There is a lack of narrative to support the transition from the selfish to the noble.

- The same sensibility that kept the overall timbre of the novel light also denied the story the gravitas which would have hooked the reader to feeling Tom’s angst as opposed to watching it.

OTHER: I purchased and dnloaded a digital eBook copy of Domestic Violets (by Michael Norman) during an eBook sale that HarperCollins was running in May, 2012. For some reason, I thought this was a lit-fic novel and had been putting it off until I was in the right frame of mind; but when I started reading it, I realized that the novel was more comedic in tone.

Editado: Ago 9, 2013, 11:31 pm

This Side of Paradise
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Introduction and Notes by Sharon G. Carson

This Side of Paradise originally published in 1920 by Scribner
Barnes & Noble Classics trade paperback edition published in 2005 (by Barnes & Noble)

WHO: Amory Blaine,…
WHAT: recounts his life as he comes of age, goes to boarding school, college, war, and falls in love a couple of times.
WHERE: Blaine hails from the Mid-West, goes to Princeton and makes occasional forays into New York City to participate in social life.
WHEN: The narrative covers roughly ten years, from 1908-1918, with very little time spent on Blaine’s military service in 1917.
WHY: Blaine seeks to define himself philosophically…
HOW: by taking into consideration his experiences, what he has been taught formally and through the mentorship of a priest.

+ This Side of Paradise is a unique diary in form that functions as a thinly disguised autobiography of F. Scott Fitzgerald himself.

- Without an academically informed approach, This Side of Paradise comes across as a self-indulgent account of a spoiled brat. With bad poetry.

OTHER: I purchased paperback copy of This Side of Paradise (by F. Scott Fitzgerald; Introduction and Notes by Sharon G. Carson ) from Barnes and Noble (the retail store in Medford, OR.) I did not read theIntroduction and Notes by Sharon G. Carson. I learned to never do that when reading the Classics (unless the Classic is a re-read) as the academics who write these things often include spoilers.

Ago 10, 2013, 10:47 am

Mystic River
by Dennis Lehane
Cover by Chip Kidd
Originally published in 2001 by William Morrow
"Chip Kidd" edition published in 2003 by William Morrow Paperbacks

WHO: Nineteen-year old Katie Marcus disappears one night.
WHAT: Her father, Jimmy Marcus (an ex-con) and Sean Devine (state police detective), once childhood friends-of-a-sort, both work to find out what happened and whodunit along separate lines of inquiry. Another childhood compatriot, Danny Boyle, gets mixed up in the mess.
WHERE: The story takes place in the last of the old Boston neighborhoods, Buckingham Flats…
WHEN: as 21st century developers encroach to make over Southie.
WHY/HOW: Sean is coming in after a week-long suspension for a professional infraction. He is chosen by another detective to work the case that has fallen in state jurisdiction. The fact that Sean knows the Marcus family seems not to be a conflict of interest. Anyway, Jimmy, though having gone legit as a shop owner, is still connected and has the resources to pursue the matter.

+ Brilliantly constructed plot-wise.
+ Evokes the old neighborhoods in terms of look and feel of the way things were. For those who remember the neighborhoods, even as late as the the early to mid-eighties, this is powerfully nostalgic.
+ Characters are realistic, meaning they aren’t caricatures (like Bubba from the Kenzie/Genaro series) or cinematic in vision.
+ There are scenes of intense poignancy, which make it worth reading even if you saw the movie (which is also very good even though a plot spoiler if you saw it before reading the book.)
- This makes the Kenzie/Genaro series look like crap. It’s especially hard to explain Moonlight Mile (2010) after you’ve seen what Lehane can do. Actually, Moonlight Mile is difficult to explain as anything but a tired write-off of the series, but still the difference in quality between Moonlight Mile and Mystic River is leagues apart.

OTHER: I purchased a print copy of Mystic River (by Dennis Lehane.) I apologize, but I do not remember who I purchased it from! I am also saddened to say that I left my copy of the book at a cabin in Maine and did not note the passage that I wanted to quote in reference to Chip Kidd’s cover. In essence, Sean Devine is in a car cruising along the highway at night and the colors and light are sweeping past him. The passage is easy to blow past, but to me it stood out as a direct link between the story and the art work.

Ago 17, 2013, 12:10 am

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
by John le Carré

Book #1 in The Karla Trilogy
Book #3 in the George Smiley series
Book #6 set in The Circus

Originally published in the US in 1974 by Random House
Movie Tie-In edition published in 2011 by Penguin

WHO: George Smiley, former British intelligence officer…
WHAT: is recalled, under extremely discrete auspices …
WHERE: to “The Circus” (the service itself which derives its name from its headquarters’ address at the Cambridge Circus, a roundabout in London)…
WHEN: in the early 1970s (less than a decade after the UK intelligence service was rocked by The Cambridge Five scandal, IRL (see Kim Philby’s memoir, My Silent War))…
WHY: to flush out a mole.
HOW: George must puzzle out who the mole is through archival evidence, witnesses, and his understanding of people and spy craft.

+ It is impossible to overstate le Carré’s brilliance as a writer. The antithesis of Ian Fleming’s novels (i.e. James Bond,) le Carré’s books are smart and sophisticated in their world-building, plot construction, character creation and suspense. Once written as contemporary works to the story lines within, le Carré’s novels are now considered historical fiction reflecting The Cold War era and are a far cry from the pulp that you might expect when you see them categorized as spy thrillers. While this can be said of much of le Carré’s work, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is especially well done: tight, plausible and thrilling.
+ Though part of a series, any of le Carré’s novels can be read as a stand alone and/or in any order. Le Carré doesn’t ham-fistedly insert recaps, instead referring to past story lines artfully and without undue emphases. That said, there is still a richness to the stories that accrues having read le Carré’s works in order of publication.
+ In light of recent events in the U.S. (Assange and Snowden,) Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is particularly relevant, moved from being a dated fiction to an insightful modern allegory.
- If you are looking for flashy cars, sexy men & women and, clever gadgets, this is not the book/series for you. Le Carré’s characters are human: flawed and often sordid. There is a darkness to The Circus, stemming from the vivd depictions of seeming moral ambivalence and unpleasant outcomes.

QUOTE: I love this NYT Book Review interview, "James McBride: By the Book" for the quote about George Smiley, “Smiley understands. Smiley takes it across the face. Smiley’s got a job to do. Smiley’s got a broken heart. Smiley can take it.”

OTHER: I purchased a used print copy of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (by John le Carré) from Green Earth Books via I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.

Editado: Ago 18, 2013, 9:38 am

The Honourable Schoolboy
by John Le Carré

Book #2 in the Karla Trilogy
Book #4 in the Smiley Series
Book #7 in The Circus novels

Originally published in 1977
Mass Market Paperback edition published in 1978 by Bantam Doubleday Dell

WHO: George Smiley, now the head intelligence officer at the Circus…
WHAT: detects a money laundering scheme (a Gold Seam)…
WHERE: runningfrom Moscow to Hong Kong…
WHEN: that has been exposed in the aftermath of the events of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Saigon has fallen and the post-Vietnam War landscape of Asia is rife with military “leftovers.”
WHY: Smiley has professional and personal motives in exposing the purpose and persons involved in the operation.
HOW: Sequestering himself in his office at the Circus and talking walks through London, Smiley attempts to puzzle out case. He runs other intelligence officers and agents that he can trust; but he also requires support from Whitehall and from the CIA (“The Cousins.”)

NOTE: You don’t need to read Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy before The Honourable Schoolboy, but doing so will give you a better understanding of what drives Smiley during this story.

+ Everything I wrote about Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is equally true for this sequel. So yes, you should read the review posted above (no spoilers.) :-)
+ Le Carré’s second novel in the Karla trilogy is rich fare: Characters are well developed in all their flawed glory, at times flying with delusions of profound truth, at other times bowing to political expediencies, always conflicted and acting accordingly. The physical settings are richly detailed, from the wreckage of the offices in London to the ruins of a Tuscan villa to the scramble of life in China.
- The major plot, basically a story about auditing, is rather cerebral and not terribly sexy though Le Carré does provide color by drawing in the life drama of key characters. Also, the reader has to thread through the socio-political context of Asia after the American pullout, which while not indecipherable, needs the reader’s attention if it is unfamiliar terrain. Overall, The Honourable Schoolboy is not a novel to rush through. Still, we’re spitting hairs of excellence when we’re talking about the difference between Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Honourable Schoolboy. I would rate Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy five stars or an “A+” grade and, The Honourable Schoolboy four-and-a-half stars and an “A-” grade.

OTHER: I acquired a used print copy of The Honourable Schoolboy (by John le Carré) from Rogue Book Exchange in Medford, OR. I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.

Editado: Ago 20, 2013, 1:37 am

Night Film
by Marisha Pessl
Release date: 08/20/2013 by Random House

WHO: Scott, McGrath, a discredited journalist…
WHAT: investigates the apparent suicide of the daughter of an outre filmmaker who also happens to be the man who discredited him.
WHERE: The investigation takes McGrath from the streets of New York City to The Peaks, a massive estate in the Adirondacks (upstate New York,) and back, with some serious head trips in between.
WHEN: Ashley, the filmmaker’s daughter was found dead in an elevator shaft on October 13, 2011 and McGrath’s inquiry into the girl and her family takes place over the course of a few weeks.
WHY: McGrath’s suspicion and paranoia, fomented when he attempted to run a story on the girls’ father and was subsequently, professionally ruined, drive McGrath…
HOW: and with the help of a drug dealer and a homeless girl, McGrath tilts at his windmill.

+ Do you believe what you see? How about what you don’t see? What proofs do you require?Night Film challenges the skeptic of the metaphysical or paranormal to reconsider what the truth of human nature is, to break free of the conventions which govern our perceptions of ourselves and, to challenge ourselves as to what is accepted and acceptable in reality.
+ There is a lot of material to dissect in terms of symbolism, metaphor and/or allegory which should make for interesting discussions. In particular, the series of events at The Peak, which best exemplify the shifting paradigms of reality and truth bear further scrutiny.
+ Illustrations include created screen shots and other media snip-its which provide visual interest and augment the story.
- Night Film starts out with promises of a walk on the dark side, but doesn’t quite deliver in that regard. In fact, the whole of the novel more easily qualifies as a Mystery or in the Thriller/Suspense genre than in the Horror. Night Film may suffer a bit form overexposure or overuse of superlatives, i.e. you may be expecting something along the lines of Clive Barker or Stephen King, but it’s more akin to Stieg Larson’s Millennium Trilogy crossed with the movie, Inception.
- Characters are colorful, but not particularly well developed. Motivations are not strongly delineated and there is no sense that any of the characters undergo fundamental change.

OTHER: I acquired an unsolicited ARC of Night Film (by Marisha Pessl) from a kind friend in the publishing industry. I had heard about Night Film through a Books on the Nightstand podcast last December and, actually held a copy of the ARC in my hands for all of five minutes before it was taken from me in the BooktopiaWA Yankee Swap. Finally, someone who knew of my disappointment, sent me an ARC :-)
I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.

Editado: Set 6, 2013, 11:59 am

The Unwritten: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity
by Mike Carey; illustrated by Peter Gross
Published in 2010 by DC Comics
LAF (Literature-based fantasy + Animal fantasy + Fairytale fantasy) - a term coined by Bill Wallingham (creator of Fables) in the introduction to The Unwritten

WHO: Tommy Taylor, the son of a famous author who wrote a series of books based upon his son,
WHAT: finds that his fictional life and his “real” life colliding…
WHERE: as he escapes the mob scenes in the U.S to a Swiss villa…
WHEN: years after his father has disappeared.
WHY: To lay claim to his father’s wealth,…
HOW: did Tommy Taylor kill his father?

+ Mike Carey creates a really cool premise: What if fiction was just another reality, i.e. What happens if the fictional world was actually manifested in tangible ways beyond the pages of a book? What would happen if the fictional world manifested itself in our “real” lives? How intense, how important and how prevalent would those manifestations be? And who knows about it?
- The Unwritten is not a stand-alone. It raises a lot of questions and implies conspiracies, but does not answer or resolve them. Readers need to move onto sequel editions to see how The Unwritten universe and plot develops. So, yeah, a cliffhanger :-/

The art work breaks down into four categories and are rendered by two different artists:
1) The first category is the work of Yuko Shimizu (cover and sketches laid out on full pages)

The other three categories are rendered by Peter Gross:
2) The story that Tommy Taylor father created (blue-grey washes and subdued colors);
3) Tommy Taylor’s “real” life (highly saturated colors) and;
4) The historical flashbacks/expositional set-ups (low saturation colors)

+ The distinctive colors and fonts clearly separate the action lines and the realities. The general layout of this volume creates a reading rhythm: issue cover, sketch, fictional story page(s) and then Tommy’s real world depictions. The historical sections cap the storyline.

Set 8, 2013, 1:10 am

I have a copy of Night Film waiting patiently in the queue. I have liked her other books a lot, so hope this one doesn't disappoint!

Set 9, 2013, 7:49 pm

The Bunner Sisters
by Edith Wharton
Originally published in Scribner’s Magazine 60 (October 1916): 439-458 and; Scribner’s Magazine 60 (November 1916): 575-596
Reprint 2007 by Alan Rogders Books, Ægypan Press

WHO: Evelina and Ann Eliza are two spinster sisters who develop an affection for the same German clock-maker, Mr. Ramy.
WHAT: One of the sisters, the younger, marginally prettier Evelina, marries Mr. Ramy and disappears from her sister’s life…
WHERE: which continues on in destitution at their shop near Stuyvesant Square in New York City (far from the rich milieus that Edith Wharton usually sets her stories…)
WHEN: "in the days when New York’s traffic moved at the pace of the drooping horse-car, when society applauded Christine Nilsson at the Academy of Music…" (early 1870s.)
WHY: The sisters are poor, in a world of inelegant language and limited hopes. Evelina pursued the opportunity to find love, happiness and, a future away from the confines of a basement shop & apartment by becoming Mrs. Ramy.
HOW: Evelina and Anna Eliza had a co-dependent relationship that enabled the events of the book to take place. Evelina was more of the egotist while Anna Eliza was more of the sacrificer. As Evelina continued flirting with Mr. Ramy, Anna Eliza ceded more of her own aspirations for the sake of her sister’s happiness.

+ This is something different from Edith Wharton: a story not about high society, or the tensions between old money and the nouveau riche; but a microcosm of life amongst the poor. For all that Edith Wharton never experienced such a life herself, she nonetheless depicts this world without condescension and with concentrated detail that brings the scenes into vivid life.
+ I wouldn’t go so far to say that the Bunner sisters themselves and the people they interact with are ennobled by their experiences; but there is something to be said for the stubbornness and fortitude they exercise that puts Lily Bart (cf The House of Mirth) to shame.
- There is a rather melodramatic scene near the end of Part II that seems nearly a parody of a morality play. While its lack of sophistication may be representative of a theatrical style popular at the time and, the commonness of it reflective of the atmosphere of the story, its crudeness stands out sharply against Wharton’s other more finely wrought scenes of melodrama (again, see The House of Mirth.)

OTHER: I bought a paperback trade edition of The Bunner Sisters (by Edith Wharton) from The Book Nook CT via

- This is a reprint edition. On page 58, the narrative is interrupted by a copy editor’s note:
"NOTE: *** A Summary of Part I of "Bunner Sisters" appears on page 4 of the advertising pages."

I do not know the provenance of the note, but it is disconcerting :-/

Set 30, 2013, 2:16 am

A Greyhound of a Girl
by Roddy Doyle
Published in 2012 by Marion Lloyd

Mary O’Hara, a twelve-year old whose grandmother is dying, meets a ghost in Dublin, Ireland in the current time and about a hundred years after Mara’s great-grandmother had passed away.The ghost appears in order to help Mara’s grandmother through the transition from this life to the after-life by providing assurance/easing the dying woman’s fears. This is a YA book that will most likely appeal more to girls in the 8-12 age group: It’s deals with four generations of women and the legacy of eternal, maternal love. A Greyhound of a Girl doesn’t have the humor or zing that The Barrytown Trilogy books do; but Roddy Doyle is still amazing with his ability to create scenes and mood with a deft artistry that also allows the reader’s imagination to go to work.

Set 30, 2013, 4:46 pm

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
by Marjane Satrapi
Published on 2012 by Pantheon

Marjane Satrapi recounts her childhood in Iran during a fourteen year period that included the overthrow of the Shah, the Islamic Revolution (1979) and the war with Iraq (1980-88.) Politically savvy by virtue of being related to an imperial line and the daughter of Marxists, Marjane Satrapi tells her story through intense black-and-white panels with a highly stylized look nearly abstract in form. Readers unfamiliar with Middle Eastern history may need help to put things in context (google is your friend) but it’s worth the effort. The story is powerful both for it’s brutal telling and for it’s emotional punch. I cringed at her friends and families’ bewilderment at the Iraqis’ sudden upgrade in missile ordinance and was actually surprised that there were no recriminating fingers pointed at the U.S. for its military aid to the Iraqis at this time. Still, Persepolis is an amazing work of reportage, memoir and art.

Editado: Out 8, 2013, 7:39 pm

Proven Guilty
The Dresden Files #8
by Jim Butcher; narrated by James Marsters
(P) 2009 by Penguin Audio
16.25 hours

Harry Dresden, the only practicing wizard detective in Chicago, is called upon to investigate more suspected necromancy (see Dead Beat (The Dresden Files #7)) and, bail one of his best friend’s daughters out of trouble. Of course the plots are interconnected and are ultimately tied into another ongoing thread about the war between The Red Court of Vampires and everybody else! As I’ve mentioned before, the series is terribly uneven, but this, like Dead Beat before it, is one of the better ones. Still prone to cliched language, stereotyping and suspect choreography when it comes to the action scenes, the story is nevertheless intriguing with moments of true suspense.
James Marsters sounds exhausted: His voice register has dropped a couple of ranges and there is little to no differentiation between many of the characters at this point, making it difficult to follow who is speaking in a few of the conversations. If Marsters’ rumblings, even in this condition, are still pleasant to the ear, it must also be said that the editing is poor: there are noticeable places in the recording where there the sound levels don’t match.

OTHER: I dnloaded a digital audio edition of Proven Guilty (by Jim Butcher; narrated by James Marsters) from the now defunct digital dnload site, They used to have amazing sales and I purchased a number of The Dresden Files audiobooks to fill in the gaps in my collection. To be honest, if I hadn’t bought them, I probably would have dropped the series by now; but I did and so I didn’t! I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.

Editado: Out 21, 2013, 7:53 pm

Horns: A Novel
by Joe Hill

Ignatius Perrish wakes up with a killer hangover and a set of horns growing out of his head! Set in New England, Horns is a fun and clever, if not particularly horrific story about the transformation of a man a year after the rape and murder of his girlfriend. Ig is the prime suspect, though he was never charged, or for that matter cleared of suspicion. As the town's dislike and abhorrence of him becomes clear to him, Ig himself becomes free to enough to see the truth of things. The story twists both that which seems sacred and profane as well as that which is both physical and metaphysical, but does so with a light hand of wit and humor. There are poignant moments which lend a touch of sadness, grounding what would otherwise be a spoof of contemporary references to the devil.

I admit that there were times that I laughed, remembered that the book was classified under the heading of "Horror" and then felt a little uneasy about laughing; but it really is a funny book :-)

OTHER: I'm not sure where or how I acquired a used print copy of Horns (by Joe Hill.) I suspect that it may have been from a Friends of the Library sale (Jackson County Library System, Southern Oregon.) I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.

Out 18, 2013, 2:19 am

Little Altars Everywhere
by Rebecca Wells

This is a novel featuring the four kids of a Bayou family in Louisiana. The first part of the book is set during the 1960s and is filled with charm and laughter as the mother drinks her way through marriage and motherhood and the children function with all the Drama that this entails. The second part though, is set in 1991 and each of the characters gives a heartbreaking testimony as to the truly terrible things that happened and the ramifications of all that Drama in their adult lives.

OTHER: I'm not sure where or how I acquired a used print copy of Little Altars Everywhere (by Rebecca Wells.) I suspect that it may have been from a Friends of the Library sale (Jackson County Library System, Southern Oregon.) I receive no monies, goods or services in exchange for reviewing the product and/or mentioning any of the persons or companies that are or may be implied in this post.

Out 18, 2013, 8:58 am

I'm late to your thread, but you've done a lot of really interesting reading! I'm a huge Smiley fan, and am always happy to come across another Le Carre fan.

I enjoyed the Rebecca Wells books - The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood was the most popular once upon a time, and I still like it. That mother (Vivi?) is a piece of work.

Editado: Nov 10, 2013, 2:53 pm

Classic Ghost Stories: Eighteen Spine-Chilling Tales of Terror and the Supernatural
edited by Bill Bowers

This is a collection of public domain short stories, not all of which feature ghosts, but do represent a wide range of styles: From traditional lore ("Tieg O'Kane and the Corpse") and poetry ("The Erl-King" by Goethe) to the expertly crafted tale of suspense by W.F. Harvey, "August Heat" and the anecdotal ("A True Story," by Benjamin Disreali,) and more.

If the stories are not the sort that would have you keeping on the lights at night, it is because labeling the collection as "spine-chilling" removes the element of surprise. Moreover, many of the stories are not representative of the best of the authors' respective oeuvres; and the dated material lends a certain quaintness to tales of coaches and toll-houses. Don't get me wrong, all the writing is very good/excellent, just not very scary!


"The Ghost of Fear" (by H.G. Wells)
"Tieg O'Kane and the Corpse" (Traditional)
"The Screaming Skull" (by F. Marion Crawford)
"Canon Alberic's Scrap-Book" (by M.R. James)
"A True Story" (by Benjamin Disraeli)
"The Phantom 'Rickshaw" (by Rudyard Kipling)
"The Lagoon" (by Joseph Conrad)
"On the Water" (by Guy de Maupassant)
"The Erl-King" (by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)
"The Body Snatcher" (by Robert Louis Stevenson)
"The Phantom Coach" (by Amelia B. Edwards)
"Ligeia" (by Edgar Allan Poe)
"The Secret of Macarger's Gulch" (by Ambrose Bierce)
"August Heat" (by W.F. Harvey)
"How We Left the Hotel" (Louisa Baldwin)
"The Man Who Went Too Far" (by E.F. Bnson)
"The Toll-House (by W.W. Jacobs)

I love Irish folklore, so "Tieg O'Kane and the Corpse" was very interesting. N.B There is a small glossary at the end of the story for the few Celtic phrases or words that the reader may not understand or be able to derive from the context.

"The Erl-King" was a surprise to me as it's actually a poem rather than a short story. I had heard about this work from listening to the audiobook Proven Guilty (Dead Beat #7 by Jim Butcher; narrated by James Marsters) and had thought is was a more substantial piece; but it was pretty cool regardless of length!

And finally, my favorite short in the collection was "August Heat." While not frightening, it did have me screaming "NO!" out loud at the end!

Editado: Out 22, 2013, 11:45 pm

A Beautiful Place to Die
by Malla Nunn; narrated by Saul Reichlin

Set during the 1950s in Apartheid South Africa, the story features Emmanuel Cooper, a British DSI who is sent into a rural town to investigate the death of a white police chief. The time and place are brutal, thick with racism and a sense of God-given destiny, both of which seem to inculcate a special kind of personal ugliness and hardness amongst the Afrikaaners and a meek/resigned acceptance on the part of the natives and other non-whites. Saul Reichlin, a British narrator (who narrated the UK editions of The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson) does a yeoman's job in providing each character with a distinct voice and style. The pace is a little on the slow side and he isn't as smooth as say, Simon Vance in delivery, but listeners can understand the narrative clearly (i.e. no need to translate the Queen's English!)

Out 22, 2013, 11:52 pm

Hey jfetting!

I'm in love with Smiley and The Circus and I can't wait to settle down to Smiley's People soon!

I have Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood too; but I'll probably wait just a little bit before diving in. And yeah, Vivi is "a piece of work" alright, LOL! In the first part I absolutely adored her and I was all ready to adopt Vivi as my patron saint! The stories were hilarious and it seemed like such a fun time and place to be in; but then I recoiled away in the second half and was embarrassed that I had ever thought that she was great :-/

Editado: Out 23, 2013, 12:21 pm

Divine Secrets goes into a lot of what makes Vivi the way she is. She was not always a nightmare.

And Smiley's People is my favorite of the Karla trilogy. Enjoy!

Out 27, 2013, 12:40 pm

Shutter Island
(by Dennis Lehane)

Shutter Island is a rat infested island off of the Massachussetts coast and the site of a mental health care facility for the criminally insane. During the 1950s, Teddy Daniels, a U.S. Marshall, is sent to the island with his partner, Chuck Aule to locate a missing inmate/patient by the name of Rachel Solando; but there's something fishy about the whole set-up. Dennis Lehane effectively creates settings worthy of Stephen King and Hanna Barbera's Scooby Doo, for better and for worse in both regards. This has all the makings of a great mystery and psychological thriller, just so long the reader doesn't figure it out before Lehane wants you to.

Nov 3, 2013, 10:20 am

The Cold Dish
First in the Longmire series
by Craig Johnson

Longmire, a Vietnam War veteran now County Sheriff gets a call about a body found. It turns out that the deceased was a convicted rapist who got a very light and suspended sentence years ago, a case which Longmire had also been involved with. Things get complicated when friends become suspects and, justice & the law conflict. The Cold Dish is solid writing: a police procedural with humor, realistic feeling characters, smooth transitions with backstory, and even a little bit of mysticism. Johnson evokes a world of cowboys and Indians in modern day America with a sympathetic feel for the settings and the characters. I really enjoyed being able to experience this world vicariously, but that said, a little Longmire goes a long way and I'll probably wait a bit before getting the sequel. And just maybe I'll get around to checking out the A&E series as well :-)

Nov 24, 2013, 12:53 pm

Stories: All-New Tales
edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio

This is a collection of 28 stories in the speculative fiction form from established writers from both within and outside of the genre. As with any collection, the quality and approach are uneven as the respective authors interpret the mandate to write a story which will have the reader ask, "And then what happened?" very differently. Some writers flirt with fantastical elements ( e.g. "Blood" by Roddy Doyle) while others go no holds barred (e.g. "Wildfire in Manhattan" by Joanne Harris) while yet others seem to barely touch it except in the most esoteric sense ("Stories" by Michael Moorcock.)

"Blood" (by Roddy Doyle)
"Fossil-Figures" (by Joyce Carol Oates)
"Wildfire in Manhattan" (by Joanne Harris)
"The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains" (by Neil Gaiman)
"Unbelief" (by Michael Marshall Smith)
"The Stars are Falling" (by Joe R. Lansdale)
"Juvenal Lynx" (by Walter Mosley)
"The Knife" (by Richard Adams)
"Weights and Measures" (by Jodi Picoult)
"Goblin Lake" (by Michael Swanwick)
"Mallon the Guru" (by Peter Straub)
"Catch and Release" (by Lawrence Block)
"Polka Dots and Moonbeams" (by Jeffrey Ford)
"Loser" (by Chuck Palahnuik)
"Samantha's Diary" (by Dianna Wynne Jones)
"Land of the Lost" (by Stewart O'Nan)
"Leif in the Wind" (by Gene Wolfe)
"Unwell" (by Carolyn Parkhurst)
"A Life in Fictions" (by Kat Howard)
"Let the Past Begin" (by Jonathan Carroll)
"The Therapist" (by Jefffrey Deaver)
"Parallel Lines" (by Tim Powers)
"The Cult of the Nose" (by Al Sarrantonio)
"Human Intelligence" (by Kurt Anderson)
"Stories" (by Michael Moorcock)
"The Maiden Flight of McCauley's 'Bellerophon'" (by Elizabeth Hand)
"The Devil on the Staircase" (by Joe Hill)

My absolute favorite of the collection was Joyce Carol Oates' "Fossil-Figures" which has to do with two extremely fraternal twins. The writing was well-crafted and the effect poignant with very subtle elements of the extraordinary. Neil Gaiman's "The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains" is a vengeance tale with Celtic flavor. The magical elements are present, but not overwhelming: As with Coraline and The Ocean at the End of the Lane, the landscape is some other nowhere somewhere else. Al Sarrantonio's "The Cult of the Nose" flirts on the edge of reality and the fantastic - the latter of which, given the landscape of the narrator's mind, might actually be insanity. I read one story a day for twenty-eight days, with the exception of Jodi Picoult's short. The opening paragraphs of "Weights and Measures" dealt with a child's death and that's a deal-breaker for me in terms of whether or not I will start any story.

Editado: Nov 27, 2013, 6:52 pm

by Dennis Lehane

Coronado is a collection of five short stories and one play all written by Dennis Lehane. What the pieces all seem to have in common are that the characters all live in a landscape of American fly-over country that reflect the nihilism that has seeped into their lives. While there may be a character hanging on by their fingernails to claim to some hope for the future, such efforts are short-sighted and slight, eventually absorbed into the quotidian morass of their respective lives:

"Running Out of Dog"
"Down to Corpus"
"Until Gwen"
"Coronado: A Play in Two Acts"

While this collection does not represent the best of Lehane's writing (see Mystic River) the last two pieces are of particular interest. "Until Gwen" is a short featuring two men: father and son who are meeting up after the son's stint in the penitentiary for armed robbery. The story reads almost like a proposal for a novel that Lehane might write. The bones of a good story are there, the plot is dynamic and; the characters interesting and original. The play, "Coronado" is an expansion of "Until Gwen," providing backstory for the characters of "Until Gwen." I would love to see a fully developed novel that took the story forward.

Editado: Dez 24, 2013, 10:53 pm

Escape from Berlin
by Irene N. Watts

Escape from Berlin is actually an omnibus of three novels, Good-Bye Marianne, Remember Me and Finding Sophie that are being re-released on the 75th Anniversary of the first Kindertransport. On December 1, 1938, the first manifests of orphaned Jewish children were sent to England to escape the increasing persecution of Judaism as a whole in Germany. Sent to England without friends or family, they were brought into alien households under varying auspices and forced to quickly adapt.

In Good-Bye Marianne, seven-year old Marianne, daughter of an Aryan mother and a Jewish father, learns quickly the lessons of fear and suspicion as her family is subjected to increasing hostility and the denial of their civil rights. As the first Kinderstransport is scheduled to depart, a spot opens up on the list and Marianne's mother sends her on in the sick orphan's stead.

In Remember Me, Marianne struggles to assimilate herself into the English landscape. Anti-Semitism in England is no less ugly for not having seem systemized as per Nazi Germany and; added to the strangeness of a foreign land, Marianne is homesick and hungers for friendship.

In Finding Sophie, the perspective changes to that of Sophie, a little girl who Marianne had briefly befriended while they were en route to England aboard the first Kindertransport. Years have past since then and both children are now young adults who have settled into life in England, though with mixed feelings about their native country and the friends & family that were left behind. In this novel, Sophie manages to connect with Marianne, an tenuous friendship made more lasting by the strength of shared experience.

At best, the Kindertransports are often only a footnote in WWII history and Escape from Berlin offers a bit of authentic insight into the experience. Though it is historical fiction, autobiographical details certainly factor in as the author herself was aboard the first Kindertransport as a seven-year old. Alas, the writing is also somewhat facile in plotting and vocabulary, even granted that this is marketed as juvenile fiction. There is certain lack of richness to the writing despite the emotional tax it has the potential to levy; but it it is a good start for children ages 7-10 on a subject that unfortunately is being relegated as trivia or worse, mythos.

Editado: Dez 28, 2013, 2:06 pm

The numbers are in! By the end of 2013, I will have read 169 titles: read 38,482 pages and listened to 370 hours of audio. Impressive, but what does it mean? The numbers, after all, are arbitrary in value and don’t speak to quality or impact. So this: The numbers only mean that I read more than I did in 2012. That’s it!


96 Male Authors
71 Female Authors
02 Male & Female Author Teams

71 New-to-Me Authors
97 The Usual Suspects
01 Known-to-Me Editor/Author with 1 New-to-Me Editor/Author

40 Audio Books
76 Print Books
11 Graphic Novels
36 Ebooks
06 Audio and Text Combined

157 Fiction
012 Non-Fiction

039 Children’s Books (Ages 8 and Up)
003 YA
137 (Adult)

128 Backlist
040 New Releases

06 Bio & Memoirs
01 Chick-Lit
07 Classics
03 Drama
36 SFF
01 Folklore
34 General Fiction
09 Historical Fiction
05 Historical Romance
05 History
06 Horror
05 Literary Fiction
23 Mystery
22 Romance
04 Thriller/Suspense (Spy Novels)
01 True Crime
01 Western

AVERAGE: 298 pages/print book*
70 Books under 300 pages
33 Books 300-399 pages
15 Books 400-499 pages
07 Books 500-599 pages
02 Books 600-699 pages
01 Book 800-899 pages
01 Book 1000+ pages

AVERAGE: 7 hours, 52 minutes/audio book*
25 Audio Books under 8 hours
09 Audio Books 08-11 hours
06 Audio Books 11-15 hours
03 Audio Books 15-20 hours
01 Audio Book 30+ hours
01 Audio Book 40+ hours

* Computed by totaling number of pages read/recorded hours and dividing by number of books read/audio books listened to

37 unique Quick & Dirty reviews posted to tumblr, various group threads and LT;
01 LibraryThing Early Review posted to LT exclusively

Editado: Jan 3, 2014, 1:01 am

The Ballad of Barnabas Pierkiel draws on traditional literary conventions to create an unconventional story. The overall form of a young male bildungsroman is reminiscent of Voltaire’s Candide while the stylings of absurdist humor can find their precedents in Ionesco and Monty Python. The result is a farcical tale in which Barnabas, a country bumpkin in the fictional Slavic country of Scalvusia, stumbles though his life in 1939 in search of sophistication and love.

While the country is painted as backward and its people stupid and crude, one cannot help but feel a sort of nostalgia and affection for a time and people respectively not yet poisoned by the horrors of Naziism and what would become World War II. In fact, Scalvusia could be seen something of a metaphor for pre-war cultures, e.g. Poland, who were eventually poisoned by The Reich’s reach into Europe. In that context, allegories abound and Magadelena Zyzak is to be applauded for her cleverness.

Where the novel falls short is the uneven combination of story and allegory, props and symbols, often at the expense of each other. The reader is left uncertain as to whether a stool is just a stool for example, or if it’s meant to represent else and; the end of the novel denies the reader of a satisfactory ending to the Story. Ultimately you can read as much or as little into the novel as you will and still enjoy it; but there remains a vague dissatisfaction as to what it was really all about despite the epilogue.