Barbara Wants to Give 100 a Try

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Barbara Wants to Give 100 a Try

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Editado: Jan 28, 2014, 7:38 pm

I do read a lot and my taste is quite eclectic but I am not the best at keeping track so I am hoping the challenge will help.

To begin there will be a lot from the Tournament of Books short list as I only have read four (including The Goldfinch) out of the seventeen.

After a brief respite from TOB with Larry Correia I am currently working on The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara and How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Moshin Hamid.

Here is what I finished so far in 2014.


1- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

2-4 Hard Magic: Book I of the Grimnoir Chronicles, Spellbound: Book II of the Grimnoir Chronicles and Warbound: Book Three of the Grimnoir Chronicles Books 1-3 Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia

Jan 10, 2014, 2:44 pm

Welcome! Eclectic is always best, I think.

Jan 10, 2014, 8:05 pm

Welcome to the group! Oh my, is it Tournament of Books time already??

Jan 10, 2014, 10:18 pm

The short list is out as is the list of judges. Two of the judges this year are Geraldine Brooks and John Green. It should be a real interesting year!

Jan 11, 2014, 7:14 am

Ooooh, found the shortlist!

I've read none, and have heard of very few. Bad me!

Jan 11, 2014, 11:06 am

What is the tournament of books?

Jan 12, 2014, 5:29 am

Jennifer, it's too fun! You can check out the link I posted above, or have a look at last year's TOB:

The idea is a whole lot of clever books are selected, and then each week two of them are judged by a judge (new judge each week), with the winner going on to the next round. It's a bit silly, but the judges' reviews can be great, and they ended up with The Orphan Master's Son last year which was a brilliant book.

Jan 12, 2014, 5:00 pm

I'll look forward to hearing what you think of The People in the Trees--I've had my eye on it for a while, and finally picked it up last week. I hope to get to it next month...

Editado: Jan 14, 2014, 3:43 pm

This is very interesting. Sounds like a book game. I think I want to play and I noticed that they do have a "reader-judge". Fun!

Oh, sorry Barbara. I got all caught up in the chat about the Tournament of Books.

Welcome to the group. It is going to be fun having you here & I hope you enjoy it as well. Good luck with your challenge.

Jan 22, 2014, 8:14 pm

Sorry it took me so long to get back. I was in Vegas on vacation. Not conducive to reading (or writing for that matter.)

I enjoyed The People In The Trees. It tackles some subjects that most books try to avoid so one is a little uneasy with the subjects but the delivery is good and the book is loosely based on fact.

One interesting device used in the novel are annotations made by an "editor" of the manuscript works superbly, giving the novel two narrators. Will be interesting to see what is said in the TOB.

Editado: Jan 22, 2014, 8:23 pm

The People in the Trees is also on my list. I think I'll go over and see if the library has it now. The Tournament of Books is fun. And YAY! I've read three of them!

Editado: Jan 23, 2014, 2:45 pm

I've continued on the TOB books and have finished Eleanor & Park and The People in the Trees (bringing my total to six books this year.)

I read Life after Life, The Dinner and A Tale for the Time Being last year and The Gold Finch earlier this month.

Currently reading The Signature of All Things, The Luminaries and and How To Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia. My favorite so far is A Tale for the Time Being.

Jan 25, 2014, 6:46 am

Catching up on what I have finished so far. They are all for the TOB. So far I have finished 9 out of the 17 contenders. It is a very interesting mix of books. Can't wait to see the commentary!

5- The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara 4*
6- Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell 4*
7- How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid 4.5*
8- Hill William by Scott McClanahan 4*
9- The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert 3.5*

Currently working on The Luminaries and The Good Lord Bird. My favorite TOB remains A Tale For the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. Got to get back to reading. So many pages - so little time!

Jan 26, 2014, 4:52 pm

10 - The Good Lord Bird by James McBride 5*

Witty, well written and informative. An historical novel featuring John Brown the famous abolitionist who met his end at Haper's Ferry Virginia and a boy slave whom he called "little Onion."

Onion tells it how he sees it, in the venacular of the time, (or rather how she sees it as he travels with Brown and his men in "bloody Kansas" as a girl).

Michael Boatman's narration enhanced the story by infusing the characters with distinct personalities and with nailing the comic timing of Onion's ascerbic and hillarious narration.

Highly recommended.

Jan 28, 2014, 7:32 pm

11. A Modern Witch - A light diversion from the TOB reading. First of series featuring witches with programming skils.

Jan 29, 2014, 1:35 am

That does sound rather fun, actually. :)

Jan 30, 2014, 4:25 pm

12. Up From the Grave - A satisfying end to the Night Huntress series.

Fev 3, 2014, 3:12 pm

January recap For January I finished the following:

1. - The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt 4*
2. - Hard Magic: Book I of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia 4*
3. - Spellbound: Book II of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia 4*
4. - Warbound: Book Three of the Grimnoir Chronicles Books by Larry Correia 4*
5. - The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara 4*
6. - Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell 4*
7. - How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid 4.5*
8. - Hill William by Scott McClanahan 3*

(While I first rated Hill William a 4*, I down graded to 3* - when one week after reading I no longer remember the particulars something had to be missing for me.)

9. - The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert 3.5*
10. - The Good Lord Bird by James McBride 5*
11. A Modern Witch by Debora Geary 3.5*
12. Up From the Grave by Jeaniene Frost 4*

Fev 3, 2014, 7:00 pm

I sometimes re-rate things after a week or two of stewing over a plot point that makes no sense when you think about it, or when the warm fuzzy feeling of a happy plot ending lasts longer than it usually does.

Fev 3, 2014, 7:19 pm

Thanks Wookiebender that makes me feel better.

I think I was concentrating too hard at reading the TOB books. For last few days I backed off the TOB and got into some fun reads and rereads and my prespective is back.

Fev 4, 2014, 2:24 am

I do that too. Sometimes I rate a book too highly initially, only to rethink it some time later when I realize I didn't like it that much after all.

Fev 4, 2014, 7:56 pm

Now for some of that light reading in February so far I have read or reread:

13. Shards Of Honor - Lois McMasters Bujold - Vokosigan Saga reread
14. Barrayar - same as above
15. The Warrior's Apprentice - same as above

Fev 7, 2014, 5:45 am

Oh, the Vorkosigan books are good fun! I must get back to them sooner rather than later.

Fev 7, 2014, 6:37 pm

But the problem with the Vorkosigan Saga is once I start I can't stop!!!!

16. Mountains of the Mourning - Vorkosigan Saga Lois McMaster Bujold
17. The Vor Game - Same as above
18. Ceteganda - Same as above

Fev 8, 2014, 8:36 am

>24 bg853: That is a problem? I thought it was a good thing to have happen. :)

Cetaganda and A Civil Campaign are my favorites, but I've reread them all at least once except the latest. My husband and eldest son also seem prone to go on Vorkosigan reading kicks every so often, and zip through the entire series in a very short time-span. My husband has probably read them all more times than I have, by now, which is a bit ironic considering I was the one who converted him to the series.

Fev 8, 2014, 9:14 pm

>25 LShelby: A Civil Campaign is my favorite. Jane Austen meets space opera. Love those butter bugs! ;)

Not being able to stop is a problem since I still need to finish five more books to be ready for the Tournament of Books.


19. Brothers in Arms - Vorkosigan Saga - Lois Mc Masters Bujold

Fev 9, 2014, 9:16 am

>26 bg853: Ah, a required reading conflict. The problem now becomes clear. My commiserations!

"I got the cunning-plan-gone-awry, kiss-all-my-hopes-good-by, butter bug blues."
-- Echo's Children

Maio 24, 2014, 7:28 am

Another recommendation for The Martian!

And congratulations on reaching (and passing) the halfway point.

Jun 18, 2014, 12:13 pm

Just finished An Untamed State by Roxanne Gay, which was on the TOB possible list for 2015. It is the story of a Haitian American lawyer who is kidnapped for ransom while visiting her parents in Haiti. Her father refuses to pay the ransom and her kidnapper turns ugly.

Couldn't stop listening. Despite horrific scenes, there is no gratuitous violence. The violence presented is necessary to understand the gradual breakdown of the heroine's spirit and her resulting PTSD. In addition Gay tempers the horror with flashbacks, perhaps because she understands just how much brutalization the reader can take at a time. The second half of the book deals with her PTSD and her fight to recover. (Not a spoiler - you are immediately aware that she is eventually freed.)

It is an amazing book which I highly recommend.

Jul 8, 2014, 12:21 am

Mr. Mercedes.

Another fine Stephen King. This one does not have any supernatural elements, just pure humean evil. It took me a few chapters to find my rythmn but once I did I thoroughly enjoyed this story of a retired cop working on the big case that got away.

P.S. For audio, I highly suggest listening on a faster speed.

Editado: Jul 8, 2014, 12:35 am

One Plus One: A Novel by Moyes was the perfect book to read on the way to the Mensan Annual Gathering. It's the story about a nerd being investigated on insider trading who is cut off from his work, colleagues and friends and finds himself at loose ends. He winds up driving his housecleaner and her two kids (and large dog) to a Math Olympiad where the young daughter wants to compete.

Jul 13, 2014, 3:42 am

The Invention of Wings

This is the story of three women: the Grimke sisters, Sarah and Nina who are born into a life of privelege in 19th century Charleston, and Handful, the slave who is given to Sarah on her 11th birthday. All three women rebel against the constraints placed on their lives as women and the Grimke sisters become two of the most outspoken and early advocates for equality for women. A fascinating read!

Jul 24, 2014, 2:24 pm

The Book of Life: A Novel by Deborah Harkness

I am always ambivalent about the end of a series or trilogy which I really love. While I am anxious to reach the dramatic conclusion of the storyline, I am loath to leave the characters who have become friends and companions.
And so it was with The Book Of Life: A Novel.

The book brought a satisfactory end to a great trilogy and when the book is measured by the standards of the genre it is a fantastic book. But held to the standard set by the first two books of the trilogy, it falls slightly short of the first two.

One of the things I loved about these novels was Harkness' ability to present the paranormal activity and the magic in a logical and believable way. In The Book of Life: A Novel she fell somewhat short of that goal. I found myself rereading the section where Diana goes to the Bodelian Library and asking myself did I miss something? I wasn't ready for the standard -just suspend belief and go with the story, which is usually necessary throughout this genre.

So as measured by the standards of the genre, this is a terrific not-to-be-missed book. When measured by the standards due a Harkness book it just misses that 5 star rating as a 4.5. As always I highly recommend the entire series.

Ago 6, 2014, 9:31 am

Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson

As many have stated this is a dark book with numerous unlikeable characters who make some really bad decisions. This seems to be the year of dark stories with books such as The Enchanted and An Untamed State. While for me the tone of the two aforementioned books rang true and I found them both excellent; I did not find Fourth of July Creek as compelling.

Part of my problem with the book is personal. I have an aversion to stupidity and while I can happily read about somene with no redeeming characteristics (I loved Hannibal Lechter), I cringe at watching characters making one stupid move after another.

My other problem was the language. There are times that the language just sings. It is beautiful and lyrical. However, it did not seem real that a high school drop out could on occassion wax poetically like somone with a MFA in English.

Given that the book does a good job of involving you and making you care about the characters that at first you dislike. (3.5 *)

Ago 6, 2014, 10:24 am

adding The Invention of Wings to my list--sounds great!

Ago 8, 2014, 7:06 pm

The Girl With All The Gifts M.R.Carey

Melanie is a special girl. Her doctor calls her "our little genius". She loves school with favorite teacher Miss Justineau. But her school is in a secure compound and Melanie attends class after she has been fastened to her chair by Sergeant Parks.
Then everything changes. The secure compound is breached and Melanie, the Doctor, Miss Justineau, Sarge, and Gallagher, another guard are on the run seeking safety.
A fun exciting read with a gradual unveiling of all the characters.
Received through early reviewers. Highly recommended ! 4 1/2 *

Ago 8, 2014, 7:10 pm

The Girl in the Road Monica Byrne (An Early Reviewer Book)

I found this book to be a very difficult read.
There are two protagonists each one occupying a different timeline many years apart. Add to that a dystopian society, delusional characters, a world full of sci-fi inventions, violence and sex. I might have been able to handle all that but I found the narrative disjointed and incoherent.
Sorry, but I do not recommend this one. 3*

Ago 17, 2014, 5:13 pm

600 Hours of Edward

Edward is a thirty nine year old man with Aspergers and OCD who lives quietly alone in a small home in Billings Montana. Edward has lived alone since "the Garth Brooks" incident drove his father to move him out of the family home.
By following Edward through the 600 hours you begin to understand and admire how he deals with his controlling father, his lonliness and his illnesses. And,when a mother and son move across the street, we see the caring side of Edward where he worries over the problems of others more than himself.
It is a warm, loving novel which I recommend and look forward to reading the sequel Edward Adrift.

Ago 17, 2014, 5:32 pm

The Silkworm

Hooray for the return of Cormoran Strike!
The modern (and English) equivalent of Phillip Marlowe takes on the case of a missing author Owen Quine at the pleaded behest of his wife Leonora. Owen has just finished a novel which has insulted the bigwigs of the London publishing world and when Cormoran begins to suspect foul play, those skewered in the novel are top of his list of subjects.
Along with the story we also get more backstory about Cormoran and his faithful secretary Robin. A good second novel in what is proving to be a great series.

Set 10, 2014, 10:43 am

Editado: Set 10, 2014, 10:46 am

Edward Adrift

A wonderful sequel to 600 Hours of Edward.

We meet Edward several years after the end of the first story. It is not a good year for Edward. He has been laid off from his job. His therapist has retired and his friends cross the street have moved away. For a man who needs structure, his base is crumbling.

After hearing that a friend is in trouble Edward decides to help and embarks on a journey outside his familiar comfort zone. Way outside!! He begins a journey out of Billings, out of Montana and way out of his self imposed boundaries.

It was heartwarming to see Edward stretch his boundaries and learn how to live!

If you read 600 Hours of Edward you must read Edward Adrift 4 1/2 stars.

Set 10, 2014, 10:49 am

Festive in Death

Festive in Death is a feast for the In Death series fan. In Festive Norah balances the murder investigation of a sleazy personal trainer with Eve's annual Christmas dilemmas. We are given details of Eve's Christmas shopping and their annual Christmas bash.

While I highly recommend the book for the series lover, it is probably not a good stand alone for someone new to the series. Series lovers will eat up the little details and will probably rejoice as I did at the proper origin of the button in Roarke's pocket ;). 4 Star

Editado: Set 19, 2014, 3:37 pm

78. The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

Don't give up on this book if you are having trouble at the start. During the confusing beginning which jumps from old age to childhood to middle age and back again, the author imparts a significant amount of important information. After reading numerous reviews stating that it was worth getting through the beginning; I stuck with it and I am glad I did. This is a story of loss opportunities, bad decisions and human frailties. At the same time it is a story of courage under difficult and even sometimes horrific circumstances and heroism. It is also a study of the effect the horrors of war have on both those who endure them and those who impose them.

For most of us our knowledge of prisoners of war building the railway through Burma during World War II is limited to watching The Bridge Over the River Kwai. This time we see the story from a closer more personal perspective. We follow Dorrigo Evans as a doctor struggling to keep these prisoners alive and meet some of his fellow prisoners. Following the war we continue to follow Dorrigo but also learn how the war as effected many of the others as well.

Highly recommended. 4*(because of that beginning)

Editado: Set 25, 2014, 2:16 pm

79. The Golem of Hollywood by Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman

I am getting rather fond of Golems. In 2012 we learned about the Golem in The Shadow of Night. In 2013 we followed a Golem in The Golem and the Jinni and now for 2014 we have The Golem of Hollywood.

In The Golem of Hollywood Jacob Lev a depressed and alcoholic policeman is assigned to a unusual murder case and an unusual branch "special projects", because of his background. The perfectly sealed head of a victim with no body is found with Jewish symbol engraved nearby. Jacob, the son of a rabbi follows leads from Hollywood to Prague to Oxford, England in search of the identity of both his victim and the killer.

The book is a standard detective procedural with some very nonstandard Jewish mysticism. I personally found the early chapters on mysticism to be overlong and disruptive but as the novel proceeded the alternate story became less intrusive and more relevant to the present story. I recommend this book for those who do not mind some genre twisting and who do not have preconceived ideas on what Jonathan Kellerman writes (this is definitely not an Alex Delaware novel). It is however a plausible enough mystery with some history and a perhaps a bit too much mysticism mixed in. 3 1/2 *

Editado: Out 4, 2014, 7:28 am

80. Station Eleven: A Novel Longlisted for the National Book Award

On a snowy night in Canada an actor collapses on stage while preforming King Lear. His death was caused by a heart attack but within months most of the world will also be dead but this time from a particularly pernicious variety of flu.

One person present that evening is Kirsten a child actress who joins a troupe of travelling actors and musicians The Travelling Symphony, travelling the now decimated world preforming concerts and Shakespeare's plays because "survival is insufficient".

The lives of the Kirstin, the Symphony and those they meet on the road are interwoven both in the present and before the pandemic. A great story of what it really takes to survive. 5*

Set 29, 2014, 8:28 pm

Now I remember why I don't more often make time to catch up on threads (aside from a lack of time)--so many book bullets! I'm adding those last three of yours to my never-ending list!

Editado: Out 12, 2014, 11:13 am

81. Not My Father's Son: A Memoir by Alan Cumming

I did not feel as if I was listening to a memoir while I listened to Alan Cumming read this remarkable book. Cumming somehow infused the memoir with so much suspense that I felt like I was reading a mystery; a really good mystery. Cumming's memoir follows the pattern of many current mystery so by alternating from the present to the past.

The past is Cumming's horrific childhood with an abusive, and probably mentally ill father. The present is the filming of a British television show which will delve into his ancestry and which he hopes will shed light on the death of his maternal grandfather in Malaysia after World War II. The writing is taut and effective causing me to race through the book seeking answers the mysteries which unfold.

I laughed; I cried and I thoroughly enjoyed the ride! Highly recommended!

Out 8, 2014, 7:02 pm

82. I Am Spartacus!: Making a Film, Breaking the Blacklist by Kirk Douglas

Kirk Douglas gives us a fascinating memoir on the making of an epic movie during the shameful era of Hollywood blacklists. Spartacus had some of the biggest stars of the day Kirk, Lawrence Olivier, Charles Laughton, Peter Ustinov, Tony Curtis and Jeanne Simmons. Listening to the interplay among this outsized egos was fascinating.

But more importantly, the book reminds us of the damage the blacklists had on the careers of those who stood up for their rights in the face of the House on Unamerican Activities and Kirk Douglas's courage in helping to break the blacklist. Recommended!

Out 10, 2014, 7:01 pm

Oh, those last two memoirs sound great! I've always liked Alan Cumming as an actor, and I've got his fiction book, Tommy's Tale on the shelves. Must dust it off, I picked it up after a librarythinger recommended it.

Out 12, 2014, 11:18 am

83. All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld

Two stories told in alternating chapters; the present going forward and the past going backwards. Gripping well told story which stays with you after you are done.
Jake is a sheep farmer on an unnamed English island who wants to know what has been killing her sheep. Jake is also someone with a past. That past in Australia unfolds as her hunt for the present menace moves forward.

While concurrent stories don't always flow easily (I didn't like the beginning of the Narrow Road to the Deep North for just that reason). Here the forward and backward ebbs and flows work beautifully. Highly recommended. 4 1/2 *

Editado: Out 17, 2014, 9:09 am

85. Dissolution: A Matthew Shardlake Tudor Mystery. By C.J. Sanson

In Dissolution we meet Matthew Shardlake a hunchbacked lawyer who is a Commissioner for Thomas Cromwell, during the reign of Henry the Eighth.
The Dissolution referred to in the title is the disbanding of the formerly papist abbeys in the now Protestant England.

Another commissioner who was sent to an abbey has been found beheaded and Cromwell wants to know what happened and wants to know quickly. Matthew Shardlake struggles with solving the crime while also struggling with his growing disillusion with Cromwell.

An interesting blend of mystery and history! recommended.

Out 19, 2014, 4:06 pm

86. Catering to Nobody bu Diane Mott Davidson

Goldy Baer has a catering service which gets everything "just right." At least everything was just right until someone poisoned her ex-father-in-law at an event she catered. Her business is closed down and she has lost her only means of support until the culprit can be found.

The audible version is read by the great Barbara Rosenblatt. Her great characterizations are a pleasure to listen to and I look forward to the rest of the series. It was a fun quick read. Recommended.

Nov 8, 2014, 8:59 pm

87. Prince Lestat By Anne Rice

I started this book with great anticipation. I loved the early Vampire Chronicles and had hoped to rekindle that love. It didn't happen.

In Prince Lestat we learn about what has been happening with the major vampires from the chronicles. Then we learn about what has been happening with the lesser vampires from the chronicles. Then we learn what has been happening with vampires we never met in the chronicles. Then we learn what has been happening to non-vampires who we never met in the chronicles. Thats it. You learn what is happening to them and you get to watch them talk, contemplate, complain and hope someone wil do something about it.

There is a voice bedevilling them all and they all believe that the answer to the crisis that the voice is causing is Lestat. They talk, contemplate, complain and speak about Lestat in hushed reverent tones.

There is occasional action but it comes and goes so quickly that it swallowed up by this infernal contemplation.

I gave it two and a half stars because I did enjoy hearing what had happened to some of the major characters but ratio of contemplation to action was disheartening.

Nov 10, 2014, 11:57 pm

89. Blood on the Water by Anne Perry

I am a long time fan of Anne Perry having read both her Monk and Pitt series since the 1990s. So it is no big surprise that I enjoyed Blood on the Water.

Monk, who is now in charge of the Thames River police witnesses the bombing of a pleasure boat on the Thames which takes the lives of two hundred people. The case is found to be too sensitive politically for the river poice and is badly handled by the regular police who "rush to judgement" arresting and convicting the wrong man. Then after the bungling is revealed the case is sent back to Monk and the river police who must now work with corrupted evidence and witnesses to find who is responsible for the bombing and why and who is responsible for causing the cae to be corrupted.

A good period police procedural with terrific trial scenes. 4 stars

Dez 23, 2014, 2:43 pm

90. From Barnum & Bailey to Feld:The Creative Evolution of the Greatest Show on Earth by Ernest Albrecht

Both my husband and myself are long time lovers of the circus. He was even lucky enough to take part in a performance of the "Greatest Show on Earth" as a guest "clown". Therefore we both looked forward to reading this book.

We found the book well researched and interesting. The changes in the circus and the tastes of its audience over almost 150 years was a fascinating window into the changing tastes of America as a whole. Recommended for circus lovers and lovers of history.

Dez 24, 2014, 11:12 am

No big surprise, the holidays have slowed me down. I've caught up in reading but am so behind in the reviewing! But since it is down to five more working days until retirement, I should be more than able to catch up. Youza!!

91. At the Sign of the Golden Pineapple Marion Chesney (M.C. Beaton)
92. The Original Miss Honeyford Marion Chesney (M. C. Beaton)
93. Revival: A Novel Stephen King
94. The Book of Strange New Things Michael Faber
95. Dying for Chocolate Diane Mott Davidson
96. Big Little Lies Liane Moriarity
97. A New York Christmas: A Novel Anne Perry
98. We Are Not Ourselves Matthew Thomas

Dez 27, 2014, 11:54 pm

Almost at 100! I'm sure you can make it, and congratulations on your impending retirement!

Jan 1, 2015, 9:02 pm

99. Everything I Never Told You Celeste Ng
100. My Mother Was Nuts Penny Marshall

Yeah! I did it and retired! Thanks for the encouragement. Now on to the Tournament of Books. Wait, isn't that how this all started a year ago. LOL

Jan 1, 2015, 9:33 pm