Donna Reads Through A New Decade (3)

É uma continuação do tópico Donna Reads Through A New Decade (2).

Discussão75 Books Challenge for 2020

Entre no LibraryThing para poder publicar.

Donna Reads Through A New Decade (3)

1Donna828
Editado: Jul 5, 2020, 2:27pm

I’ll start off my Third Quarter thread with one of my brother’s photographs. He specializes in Still Life works. Hmmmm, I wonder why this one appealed to me so much? Hint: It's not the glass of wine.

2Donna828
Editado: Dez 31, 2020, 8:22pm

Rating Scale
5 Stars - Superb
4.5* Excellent
4* Very Good
3.5* Good
3* Okay
2.5* Fair



Books Read in 2nd Half of 2020:

Books Read in July:
54. The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai. 4.1* Comments
55. The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths. 3.8* Comments
56. The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson. 4.5* Comments❤️
57. The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal. 3 * Comments
58. Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler. 3.5* Comments
59 The House at Sea's End by Elly Griffiths. 3.2* Comments
60. The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafón. 3.8* Comments
61. Of Love and Shadows by Isabel Allende. 4* Comments
62. Writers and Lovers by Lily King. 4.2* Comments
63. Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell. 3.7* Comments
64. Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell. 4.6* Review.❤️
3,844 pp. read

Books Read in August:
65. A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler. 2.2* Comments
66. Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman. 3.5* Comments
67. Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. 3.8* Comments
68 Night, Sleep, Death. The Stars by Joyce Carol Oates. 4.1* Comments
69. American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. 4.3* Comments❤️
70. Afterlife by Julia Alvarez. 4* Comments
71. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. 3.7* Comments
72. Weather by Jenny Offill. 3.6* Comments
3,262 pp. read

Books Read in September
73. The Darkness by Ragnar Jónasson. 3* Comments
74. The Island by Ragnar Jónasson. 3.2* Comments
75. Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Straong Washburn. 4* Review
76. The Innocents by Michael Crummey. 4* Comments
77. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. 3.3* Comments
78. Hid From Our Eyes by Julia Spencer-Fleming. 3.8* Comments
79. Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli. 4.3* Review❤️
80. Book Love by Debbie Tung. 3.7* Comments.
2,682 pp. read

9,788 pp. read in 3rd Quarter

Books Read in October
81. A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths. 3.1* Comments
82. Long Bright River by Liz Moore. 4* Comments
83. If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin. 4.1* Comments
84. The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate. 3.5* Comments
85. The Bird Artist by Howard Norman. 4* Comments
86. My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrick Backman. 3* Comments
87. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 3* Comments
88. Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy. 4.9* Review ❤️
89. Northernmost by Peter Geye. 4.3* Comments. ❤️
2,990 pp. read

Books Read in November
90. All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren. 4.3 * Comments ❤️
91. The Bell in the Lake by Lars Mytting. 5* Review ❤️
92. Mercy Falls by William Kent Krueger. 3.2* Comments
93. Copper River by William Kent Krueger. 3.8* Comments
94. Kindred by Octavia Butler. 3.5* Comments
95. Jack by Marilynne Robinson. 4.3* Comments
96. Home by Marilynne Robinson. 4.5* Comments.
2,415 pp. read

Books Read in December
97. The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donaghue. 3.6* Comments
98. The Christmas Train by David Baldacci. 3.2 * Comments
99. Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane. 3.5* Comments
100. Anxious People by Fredrik Backman. 4.2* Comments
101. The Dogs of Christmas by W. Bruce Cameron. 3.5* Comments
102. All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny. 4.4* Comments
103. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman. 3.7* Comments
104. The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths. 3.8* Comments
105. The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner. 4* Comments
106. Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal. 3.5* Comments
107. The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. 4* Comments

3Donna828
Editado: Nov 19, 2020, 12:36pm

Books Read in First Half of 2020

January Reading:
1. The Butterfly Girl by Rene Denfeld. 4* Comments
2. Norwegian By Night by Derek B. Miller. 4.3* Comments❤️
3. Darkness, Take My Hand by Dennis Lehane. 3.2* Comments
4. The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See. 4* Comments
5. The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane. Comments
6. To Die But Once by Jacqueline Winspear. 3* Comments
7. The Huntress by Kate Quinn. 3.5* Comments
8. Marley by Jon Clinch. 3.5* Comments
9. The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths. 3.5* Comments.
3,083 pp. read

February Reading:
10. The Game of Kings by Dorothy Dunnett. 3.5 * Comments
11. The Sacrament by Olaf Olafsson. 3.7* Comments
12. Underland by Robert Macfarlane. 4* Comments
13. The World Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagame. 3.8* Comments
14. The Testaments by Margaret Atwood. 4* Comments
15. Purgatory Ridge by William Kent Krueger. 3.9* Comments
16. The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald (audio). 2.8* Comments
17. Simon the Fiddler by Paulette Jiles. 4.1* Comments.❤️
3,131 pp.

March Reading:
18. The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates. 3.7* Comments
19. A Dangerous Crossing by Ausma Zehanat Khan, 4* Comments
20. A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin. 4.2* Comments
21. The Nightingaleby Kristin Hannah. 4.2* Comments
22. The Fall of Light by Niall Williams. 4.5* Review❤️
23. The Story Hour by Thrity Umrigar. 3.7* Comments
24. The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel. 4.2 * Comments
25. Lost in Translation by Ella Frances Sanders. 3.5* Comments
26. Tales of the South Pacific by James Michener. 3.7 * Comments.
3,356 pp.

9,570 pages read in first quarter

April Reading:
27. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith. 3.5* Comments
28. Dirt Music by Tim Winton. 4* Comments
29. The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey. 3.3 * Comments
30.
Paradise Reclaimed by Halldor Laxness. 2.8* Comments
31. Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz. 4.1* Comments
32. Little Big Man by Thomas Berger. 4.5* Comments❤️
33. A Fire Sparkling by Julianne Maclean. 2.8 * Comments
34. The View From Castle Rock by Alice Munro. 4* Comments.
3,347 pp.

May Reading:
35. Dancing in the Streets by Barbara Ehrenreich. 3.5* Comments
36. Birds Without Wings by Louis De Bernieres. 4.8* Review❤️
37. After the Fire by Henning Mankell. 3.7* Comments
38. Clock Dance by Anne Tyler. 3.3* Comments
39. Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran. 3* Comments
40. Claire DeWitt and The Bohemian Highway by Sara Gran. 2.7* Comments.
41. The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz. 3.8* Comments.
42. Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie. 4* Comments.
43. Where the Light Enters by Sara Donati. 3.8* Comments.
3,677 pp.

June Reading:
44. Happiness by Amanatta Forna. 4.2* Comments
45. The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich. 3.8* Comments
46. This Must Be the Place by Maggie O'Farrell. 4* Comments.
47. When All Is Said by Anne Griffin. 4.2* Comments.
48. The Friend by Sigrid Nunez. 3.8* Comments.
49. A Good Man by Guy Vanderhaeghe. 3.7* Comments.
50. The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea. 4.5* Comments❤️
51. Blood Hollow by Wm. Kent Krueger. 3.5* Comments.
52. I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron. 3.5* Comments
53. Greenwood by Michael Christie. 4.3* Review.❤️
3,508 pp.

10,533 pages read in second quarter.

20,103 pages read in first half of 2020.
I’m well on my way to my yearly goal of reading 100 books and 30,000 pages.📚

4Donna828
Editado: Jul 5, 2020, 3:13pm





I can’t get my Bingo card to work. Oh well, I left all the ‘hard’ spaces for the second half of the year. I’ll try again in 2021 which will be a MUCH better year...I hope.

In the meantime enjoy some strawberries. Another photograph by my brother.

5Donna828
Editado: Jul 5, 2020, 5:36pm



Book No. 54: The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai; audio by Quyen Ngo. Hoopla Audio, 352 pp., 4.1 stars.

This sweeping novel of a North Vietnamese family showed how complicated the country's history has been over the years. Encompassing much of the 20th Century, the book is mostly the tale of a grandmother and granddaughter as they try to survive before and after the Viet Nam War. Grandmother Tran has already undergone the brutality of Land Reform in the 1950s. I knew nothing about this injustice and found out that it's a lot more harrowing than the mild name implies.

As the story goes back and forth between the decades, the theme of family remains strong. Whether they are searching for loved ones lost in the war or struggling to get enough to eat, the love and spirit of the Tran family is apparent. Much has been written about the war, but it was interesting to read about it from a North Vietnamese viewpoint.

Beauty and tragedy share the stage as families are shattered by war and politics. Although the book is fiction, knowing that atrocities like the ones depicted in the book actually took place made this an emotional roller-coaster of a book. I wasn't sure about the narrator at first, but on looking back, I think her gentle melodic voice added to the soulful nature of the story. This book will stay with me a long time.

6Donna828
Editado: Jul 5, 2020, 9:09pm



Book No. 55: The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths. Library, 328 pp., 3.8 stars.

Omnia Mutantur, Nihil Interit
"Everything changes, Nothing Perishes"


These are the words carved into a stone archway of a massive Victorian house that is being torn down to make way for luxury apartments. During the demolition bones are discovered and Ruth Galloway, Forensic Archaeologist, is called in to investigate. I enjoy Ruth's character very much. She is sensible and likable yet is subject to making bad decisions from time to time...like that one time a few months ago that she slept with the married DCI Nelson without using contraception. Oh oh! Well, he's a good guy, too. I look forward to seeing these two grapple with their little problem in future books. This one has the usual twisty-turny possible suspects in the cold case murder with the usual over-the-top action scenes. I don't mind a bit, however, as I expect that sort of thing in a mystery series.

7drneutron
Jul 5, 2020, 5:11pm

Happy new thread!

8Donna828
Jul 5, 2020, 5:15pm

>7 drneutron: Thanks, Jim. One a quarter seems to be my stride.

9figsfromthistle
Jul 5, 2020, 5:55pm

Happy new thread

10PaulCranswick
Jul 5, 2020, 7:49pm

Happy New Thread, Donna.

Intrigued by which book is photographed?

11BLBera
Jul 5, 2020, 8:27pm

Happy new thread, Donna. I love your brother's photos.

12mdoris
Jul 5, 2020, 9:08pm

Happy new thread Donna. Love how you have done the special books with ❤️s!

13Donna828
Jul 5, 2020, 9:13pm

>9 figsfromthistle: Hi Anita. Welcome aboard!

>10 PaulCranswick: Paul, I was just happy he had set the scene with some books in it. And, yes, I did approve of his choice of Words I Wish I Wrote.

14ronincats
Jul 5, 2020, 9:14pm

Happy New Thread, Donna! And your brother takes lovely photographs.

15Donna828
Jul 5, 2020, 9:16pm

>11 BLBera: Thanks, Beth. I'll pass that along to him. He takes his photography very seriously. I love his work, too.

>12 mdoris: Gotta share the love, Mary. I'm not much of a warbler so I have to let people know at a glance which books are my favorites. Plus it helps me at the end of the year to come up with my Top Ten.

16mdoris
Jul 5, 2020, 9:22pm

>15 Donna828: Good idea!

17Donna828
Jul 5, 2020, 9:24pm

>15 Donna828: I thought so! Haha.

18PaulCranswick
Jul 5, 2020, 9:53pm

>13 Donna828: I could see the "Robert" but I couldn't make out the family name!

19PaulCranswick
Jul 5, 2020, 9:54pm

By the way >6 Donna828: Elly Griffiths is one of the two featured British Author Challenge authors this month.

20Caroline_McElwee
Jul 6, 2020, 5:54am

>1 Donna828: Great photo Donna.

21RebaRelishesReading
Jul 6, 2020, 1:39pm

Wow, your brother is an amazing photographer! Happy new thread.

22Berly
Jul 6, 2020, 1:43pm

Happy new thread! Love the photography and Elly Griffiths. I like the hearts you use to mark favorites. I think I am going to steal them, because they show up much better than the star I am currently using....

23FAMeulstee
Jul 6, 2020, 6:56pm

Happy new thread, Donna!

24msf59
Jul 6, 2020, 7:05pm

Happy New Thread, Donna! I love the topper. Your brother did a fine job with the photograph. Is this a hobby of his or does he make money off of it too?

25vancouverdeb
Jul 6, 2020, 9:23pm

Happy New thread, Donna! The Mountains Sing sounds like a book that I will look into reading. I love your brother's still life images! Gorgeous!

26bell7
Jul 7, 2020, 7:39am

Happy new thread, Donna! Love your brother's still lifes.

27lkernagh
Jul 7, 2020, 3:04pm

Happy new thread, Donna! Love the compositions in your brother's photographs! He has an excellent eye for light and colour.

28karenmarie
Jul 8, 2020, 9:24am

Hi Donna and happy new thread. Your brother’s photo is beautifully composed and I love the distortions in the lenses of the glasses.

From your last thread, I’ve added The House of the Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea and I Remember Nothing by Nora Ephron. I have read 3 books of essays by Ephron, and none have disappointed.

>6 Donna828: I devoured this series and and am glad you’re enjoying it.

29Donna828
Jul 8, 2020, 10:02am

>18 PaulCranswick: >19 PaulCranswick: It’s Robert Fullghum of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten fame. Thanks for that heads up, Paul. I’ll pay a visit to the group page.

>20 Caroline_McElwee: Thank you, Caroline.

>21 RebaRelishesReading: He takes his work seriously, Reba. He’s a reader, too!

>22 Berly: Yay for another Elly Griffiths fan! I thought the hearts were a great idea when I borrowed it from your Twin Beth! I need to pay you a long overdue visit, Kim.

30Donna828
Jul 8, 2020, 10:08am

>23 FAMeulstee: Many thanks, Anita.

>24 msf59: He would probably like to make money on his avocation, Mark. It’s more of a passion for him. He has won a few local awards through his photography networks.

>25 vancouverdeb: Hi Deborah. The Mountains Sing is a heartbreaking book but such a testimony to family. It’s also a good snapshot of Vietnamese history.

31Donna828
Jul 8, 2020, 10:16am

>26 bell7: Thanks, Mary. I told my brother about his new fan club! Now if I could just get him to become part of this group.

>27 lkernagh: Hi Lori. My brother takes great care creating his still life compositions. I wish I had his patience.

>28 karenmarie: Elly Griffiths has quite the fan base on LT, Karen. I’m glad when I gave in to the Elly Love and started the Ruth Galloway series. I already have No. 3 checked out from the library. Isn’t Nora Ephron a hoot? Like you, she hasn’t disappointed me with her interesting outlook on life.

32streamsong
Jul 8, 2020, 11:46am

Hi Donna- Happy New Thread!

Add me to the list of those appreciating your brother's photographs. Maybe you could get him to join under the pretext of commenting occasionally on your thread?

I may steal your hearts, too. I love the idea.

I've added several of June reads to my neverending list - The Cork O'Connor mysteries and Greenwood both sound wonderful.

And both your reviews >6 Donna828: >7 drneutron: sound very tempting, too.

I'm currently reading The Orphan Master's Son about North Korea. Have you read that one?

33Donna828
Jul 13, 2020, 2:10pm

>32 streamsong: Hi Janet, feel free to borrow the heart idea as I did the same. I think you would enjoy the Cork O'Connor series because of the Native American component. Also Greenwood because of the environmental slant. Yes, I read The Orphan Master's Son a few years ago and gave it 4 stars.

Hope all is well in Montana. I haven't heard much about wildfires this year. Perhaps that's not important enough for the media to cover this year. *gentle dig*

34Donna828
Editado: Jul 18, 2020, 3:15pm



Book No. 56: The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson. Library, 509 pp. (I didn't include the endnotes and index), 4.5 stars.

“We seek no treasure,” Churchill said, “we seek no territorial gains, we seek only the right of man to be free; we seek his right to worship his God, to lead his life in his own way, secure from persecution. As the humble laborer returns from his work when the day is done, and sees the smoke curling upwards from his cottage home in the serene evening sky, we wish him to know that no rat-a-tat-tat”—here Churchill knocked loudly on the table—“of the secret police upon his door will disturb his leisure or interrupt his rest.”


I just finished this remarkable book about Winston Churchill's first year as Prime Minister. It was a very trying year as Germany peppered London and the surrounding cities with unrelenting bombs. War is the heart of the story but Larson as usual does a very good job describing the background events. The book is very detailed. I'm not sure we need to know that Winnie took two baths every day (33) and paraded around in the nude or in flamboyant dressing gowns. However, it is minutia like this that makes the book so readable. I also liked reading about the adverse reaction to one of his better speeches because he "insisted on reading the speech with a cigar clenched in his mouth." (93) Listeners thought he was either drunk or on the verge of collapse.

Churchill was 65 years old, overweight and a heavy smoker and drinker. It was astounding to me how he held up physically. He entertained a great deal and rarely went to bed until the wee hours of the morning, although he did take a daily nap. I was surprised at how much life carried on as usual during the Blitz. For example, Churchill's own daughter, Mary, spent a night partying until dawn during one of the worst raids where Germany dropped 130 tons of explosives over the heart of London.

Churchill's tenacity and cunning were amazing. He knew that Britain's future depended upon U.S. intervention in the war but played the patience card wisely even though he was "getting tired of Roosevelt’s reluctance to commit America to war. He had hoped that by now the United States and Britain would be fighting side by side, but always Roosevelt’s actions fell short of Churchill’s needs and expectations." We all know what it would take to get the U.S. to enter the war. Pearl Harbor was only an anecdote at the end of the book as the main focus was Churchill's appointment by King George to the post of Prime Minister in May of 1940 and his first year in office.

I love Erik Larson's books and this one is among his best. Recommended.

35Donna828
Editado: Jul 13, 2020, 3:25pm



Book No. 57:The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal; audio by Judith Ivey. 368 pp., 3 stars.

This was the perfect antidote to my heavy reading book. It's the story of two sisters who go their separate ways when the family inheritance goes to the younger sister, Helen, who is obsessed with making beer. Yes, I read a book about brewing craft beer and I don't even like the smell of beer. However, I did like the family dynamics, particularly the story about Edith and her pie making abilities. And I do like pie!

The book got a little silly when a group of grandmothers started brewing IPAs, but now I know what an IPA is and have a little knowledge about hops and the brewing process so it wasn't a complete waste. I won't say much more about the book other than it provided a good distraction when the going got heavy in my WWII book.

36BLBera
Jul 13, 2020, 3:47pm

>35 Donna828: I thought this was fun as well, Donna. The Erik Larson does sound good as well. I do enjoy him.

37Familyhistorian
Jul 16, 2020, 12:14am

Happy newish thread, Donna. Your brother's photography is great. I love his compositions.

I've got The Splendid and the Vile waiting for me to pick it up sometime - maybe soon?

38Copperskye
Editado: Jul 16, 2020, 2:20am

Love your brother’s photos, Donna! Thank you for sharing them. I also like those bright red hearts and may steal them as well! :)

John just finished The Splendid and the Vile and so I’ll be reading it soon. (His Father’s Day gift from me is also a gift to me.)

I’m glad you’re enjoying the Ruth Galloway series. I’m waiting for my library to get The Lantern Men. It’s a good reliable series and I love both the setting and the characters.

39Donna828
Editado: Jul 17, 2020, 10:09am

>36 BLBera: it’s a good time to be doing some fun reading, Beth. I need to add more light books to the mix of weighty books that I gravitate toward.

>37 Familyhistorian: Hello, Meg. It’s a great feeling to have a good book waiting for you. I think you will enjoy it when the mood strikes.

>38 Copperskye: Love the way you think, Joanne. I did exactly the same thing. Dave and I are both reading the Cork O’Connor series by Wm.Kent Krueger. I’ve been buying them at library book sales and filling the gaps with library copies. No. 5 is unavailable at the library so I bought a new copy of Mercy Falls for an extra FD present. I’m patiently waiting for him to read it first. ;-)

I hope all is well with you these days. It’s not looking good for a meetup anytime soon.

40Donna828
Jul 18, 2020, 2:47pm



Book No. 58: Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler. Library, 178 pp., 3.5 stars.

"You have to wonder what goes through the mind of a man like Micah Mortimer. He lives alone; he keeps to himself; his routine is etched in stone."


I spent a lovely few hours with Micah and his 'woman friend' Cass, and I'm still wondering what makes Micah tick. Actually I know about routine because I've lived for over 50 years with someone who loves routine and solitude. The key to understanding a character like this is having the patience to see all the good qualities buried within. I think Ms. Tyler was getting close to revealing the hidden Micah but stopped short and left her readers hanging. While I enjoyed the book very much, it was just too thin to make much of an impression on me. Still, I'm convinced that she can write the kinds of stories that we need during these troubling times to take us out of our own routines and set us down in the lives of interesting people. Just don't expect much closure in this slight book that left me wanting more.

41Donna828
Jul 18, 2020, 3:13pm



Book No. 59: The House at Sea's End by Elly Griffiths. Library, 355 pp., 3.2 stars.

"If she is late to pick up Kate, she feels guilty of almost every crime against humanity. She longs to be with her baby, but when she is she's assailed by a feeling almost of panic."
(22)

So Ruth has had her baby and returns to her work as a forensic archaeologist when bones are discovered in a secluded beach location. Dr. Ruth Galloway is very good at her job, but her personal life is sort of a mess and juggling babysitters and work doesn't improve the situation. I can't help but like and admire the woman, however haphazard her child-raising skills are. Something tells me Baby Kate will be just fine.

The plot about war crimes sounds more interesting than it actually was, and I am seeing the pattern of Ruth's life being in danger toward the end of each book. I will keep reading the series because I care about the characters and want to see Kate grow up, but I'm hopeful that the next story line is more engaging.

42Donna828
Jul 21, 2020, 6:25pm



Book No. 60: The Prisoner of Heaven by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Library, 278 pp., 3.7 stars.

"True to his unconditional support of lost causes, he decided to do a little investigation on his own, hoping to discover more about Martin, and at the same time, perfect the idea of the escape via mortis, in the style of Alexandre Dumas. The more he turned the matter over in his mind, the more he thought that, at least in this particular, the Prisoner of Heaven was not as nuts as they all made him out to be. Whenever they were allowed out into the yard, Fermin would contrive to go up to Martin and engage in conversation with him."
(85)

This third volume in The Cemetery of Forgotten Books is good support for the others despite its brevity in comparison. This is mainly the background story of Fermin Romera de Torres. He was wrongfully imprisoned in the magnificent castle overlooking Barcelona and became acquainted with fellow prisoner David Martin, who played a significant role in The Angel's Game. It is very interesting how these books fit together, each giving up part of the story going back to the treacherous times of Franco's regime of suppression in the 1930s.

I would have been very disappointed in this book had I read it when it was published in 2011 thinking that it might be the end of a trilogy. Still so many unanswered questions. Of course, I know that I have the fourth book, The Labyrinth of the Spirits to look forward to. I'm eagerly anticipating getting lost in the conclusion of the story of these literary loving characters living in tumultuous times. I understand that the next book is more than 800 pages. Bring it on!

43AMQS
Editado: Jul 23, 2020, 10:31pm

Happy new-ish thread, Donna! Wow, your brother is very talented. He seems like my dad, although my dad exclusively photographs wildlife and wildflowers. He has never been interested in making money, but he regularly submits (and wins) local contests and is a regular on one of our local newscasts.

Also, you got me with Greenwood and The Mountains Sing.

44Donna828
Editado: Jul 25, 2020, 9:51pm

44 Hi Anne, it must be nice to have a local celebrity in the family. I've seen some of your father's work on you your threads and enjoyed it. The only wildlife my brother photographs are the birds in his yard. I hope you enjoy Greenwood and The Mountains Sing.

Here is one the “bully” birds that visits my brother’s backyard.

45Donna828
Jul 25, 2020, 8:57pm



Book No. 61: Of Love and Shadows by Isabel Allende. Borrowed from a friend, 274 pp., 4 stars.

"Everyone was talking of opulence, the economic miracle, the streams of foreign capital attracted by the new regime. Anyone who was discontented was considered antipatriotic; happiness was obligatory. Through an unwritten but universally known law of segregation, two countries were functioning within the same national boundaries: one for a golden and powerful elite, the other for the excluded and silent masses. Young economists of the new school pronounced that this was the social cost, and their words were repeated in the news media."
(168)

I quickly got into this story set in an unnamed South American country, the second book by Allende. She writes with such heart and soul that it's easy to get caught up in the lives of people living in the margins of society and those who champion their plight. The unlikely heroine is a young female journalist who promises the mother of a missing teenage daughter that she will find out what happened. Irene and her photographer Sebastian uncover a horrible crime and have the courage to demand justice. The political oppression is similar to the environment that Allende experienced while growing up in Chile. She had to flee the country after her second cousin, who was Chile's President, was overthrown in a military coup. Her books are intense because of her personal experiences. This one lacked the magic realism of The House of the Spirits which is my personal favorite of her books.

46Donna828
Editado: Jul 25, 2020, 9:50pm



Book No. 62: Writers and Lovers by Lily King; audio by Stacey Glemboski. Hoopla Audio, 322 pp., 4.2 stars.

The title perfectly describes the contents of the book. Casey Peabody is living in a garden shed in Boston and rides a bicycle she picked up from the dump to her waitress job. She is drowning in debt from student loans and deeply depressed about the sudden death of her mother several months earlier. It sounds like a real downer, right? Well, Casey is understandably self-absorbed, but she is definitely not giving in to all the hard knocks she's been handed. She is a struggling writer on top of everything else, but she finds meaning in the writing process and works doggedly to finish her novel. She's a good waitress, and having worked exactly one day at that profession as a teenager, I admire those who excel at that demanding job. And then there's the lovers. Two to be exact. One who is kind of flaky and struggling almost as much as she is and one who is steady as a rock and a successful author to boot. To be fair, they are not lovers in the physical sense (at least not at the beginning), but are both interested in her. I admire her persistence in getting the life she wants and I loved the many literary references.

47RebaRelishesReading
Jul 26, 2020, 12:02pm

>44 Donna828: Is that a photograph? Amazing shot if so but it looks rather like a painting.

48Storeetllr
Jul 26, 2020, 10:22pm

Hi, Donna! Your brother is an amazing photographer! The image in >1 Donna828: is so evocative! The others of his that you posted are similarly good, but that first one!

Good review of The Splendid and the Vile. I really enjoyed the book, which surprised me because I don't usually enjoy reading about WWII. Not sure exactly why that is. Perhaps my dad's feelings about his service in that war rubbed off on me?

>45 Donna828: How odd that I hadn't heard of this Allende. I thought I'd read all her earlier novels. I too particularly loved House of the Spirits, but also Ines of my Soul, Portrait in Sepia, Eva Luna and Daughter of Fortune. Good review of Of Love and Shadows. I'll be putting it on my TBR.

Hope you had a lovely weekend!

49ronincats
Jul 26, 2020, 11:18pm

((((Donna))))

50msf59
Editado: Jul 27, 2020, 6:38am

>44 Donna828: Nice photo. I think this bully bird is a grackle, right? Love the white eye.

Hi, Donna. As usual, you are churning through some fine books. I also loved the Larson, Zafon and King. I hope all is well in your world.

51Donna828
Jul 31, 2020, 12:31pm

>47 RebaRelishesReading: Yes, it's a photo taken by a painter. My brother used to work in oils many years ago.

>48 Storeetllr: Hi Mary, I'm just the opposite. WWII is one of my favorite time periods to read about. My dad was in The Battle of the Bulge and "earned" the Purple Heart there, but never really shared his experiences.

Of Love and Shadows was not on my radar either. A friend was nice enough to lend me her copy or I might not have read it. I'm sure glad I did.

52Donna828
Jul 31, 2020, 12:34pm

>49 ronincats: Roni, I'll never turn down virtual hugs, although I'm not sure why I'm getting them. Right back at you...((((Roni)))).

>50 msf59: Grackles aren't the nicest birds around, Mark, but they sure are photogenic. We used to get flocks of them when I stocked feeders in the yard. Noisy, messy, but beautiful in their own way. I just finished the new David Mitchell book and loved it as much as Joe did. I hope it's in your wheelhouse.

53Donna828
Jul 31, 2020, 1:00pm



Book No. 63: Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell. Library, 306 pp. 3.7 stars.

"Agnes is, Mary is forced to admit, a striking woman, But it is an unsettling wrong sort of beauty; the dark hair is ill-matched with the golden-green eyes, the skin whiter than milk, the teeth evenly space but pointed, like a fox's. This creature, this woman, this elf, this sorceress this forest sprite...bewitched and ensnared her boy, lured him into a union. This, Mary can never forgive."
(174)

It is a fact that William Shakespeare married a woman eight years older than him who was a healer. They had three children and, yes, one of them died at age 11. I usually love O'Farrell's books. However, this one failed to capture my imagination and it was only at the very end that I felt the emotion of losing a child. Too late for full redemption.

Perhaps it wasn't the right time for me to tackle such a sad book or, maybe if I was a true Shakespeare aficionado, I might have gotten more caught up in the story. Despite O'Farrell's usual lovely writing and the timeliness of the plague device, I didn't connect very well with the time period or the characters. Sad for me because this was a book I expected to love. I liked it well enough, it just didn't strike that love chord. I'll just chalk it up to "wrong book at wrong time" and move along.

54Donna828
Editado: Jul 31, 2020, 4:31pm



Book No. 64: Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell. Library, 574 pp., 4.6 stars.

"It's hard to talk about writing. I get my words from the same place where you get yours: the language that calls itself 'English.' What catches your eye or ear, are the combinations I put those words into. Ideas float in, like seeds, from the world, from art, from dreams. Or they just occur to me. I don't know how or why."
(186)

Mitchell scored No. 1 on my personal Hit Parade with his recent release about the universal appeal of music. Granted, I'm a child of the 60's so the many cameos which might seem cheesy and overdone to some were a treat for me. I also expected the sex, drugs, and lots of rock'n'roll which defined the times, none of which were overdone in my opinion.

This is not my favorite book by Mitchell. Cloud Atlas will always hold that spot. However, this one is a romp that made my spirits soar. I loved the way that the four members of a struggling rock band with such different backgrounds and personalities meshed together to form a pseudo-family while they perfected their art. Mitchell understands music and really had his groove on while describing the on-stage chemistry and back-stage grunt work. He didn't neglect the signature supernatural/psychological/spiritual thread that weaves through his novels. It's fun to connect-the-dots as we gain insight into the inner workings of the mind.

I was bedazzled by this tale of another Fab Four group--Jasper de Zoet, Dean, Elf, and Griff--each with their own foibles and tragedies--and how hard they worked together to create their own style of music, the music that "frees the soul from the cage of the body...that transforms the Many to a One." (296) The only thing that was lacking was a soundtrack to accompany this heartfelt book.

55vivians
Jul 31, 2020, 3:01pm

Hi Donna! So sorry that Hamnet didn't work for you - it really worked for me. I have the audio for Utopia Avenue on hold at the library, and in the meantime I'm reading Vanishing Half for my book group and I'm listening to The Parisian. Our heat wave has broken, thank goodness, and it looks like a comfortable weekend ahead. Hope you enjoy yours!

56BLBera
Ago 1, 2020, 12:15pm

Hi Donna - sorry Hamnet didn't work for you. It was one I loved. I look forward to Utopia Avenue. It does sound like a good one.

57Donna828
Ago 3, 2020, 12:12pm

>55 vivians: Vivian, I can see the appeal of Hamnet, it just wasn't the right book for me. We have also had a break in the punishing heat. I will be heading outside to read again today. My favorite place to be.

>56 BLBera: I was definitely in the minority with my opinion of Hamnet, Beth. I thought it was good but didn't ring the "great" bell for me. I'm also in the minority with the review I'm about to post. Please feel free to skip over it. My Covid Brain is getting way too picky!

58Donna828
Editado: Ago 3, 2020, 12:38pm



Book No. 65: A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler. Library, 311 pp., 2.2 stars.

I'm hiding my quote because this is the point where I decided to hate this book. I should have cut my losses and quit reading...

"Every time he saw Juniper, he wished he could have her. Not just fuck her; possess her. It was like being an addict in a crack house, surrounded by drugs but with no money to score." (176)
Keep in mind, these are the thoughts of a teenage daughter's stepfather, a pillar of the community.

Oh No! I am going against popular opinion once again. I feel like I should put a big Caveat on my thread: The Opinions Expressed are Mine Alone. I refuse to bow to herd mentality in books and life in general. The blurbs got me...especially the one about a historic oak tree in jeopardy. I have a thing about trees.

I should have been suspicious when the nosy and judgmental Greek Chorus became a fixture instead of an occasional discursion. I liked the neighborhood premise because it reminded me of where I live: different age groups, socioeconomic levels, and lifestyles. I did not like the way the tree issue was handled. I felt bad for its destruction, but suing your neighbor after the fact does no good. Valerie, a black ecology professor, should have been jumping up and down when the new neighbors started razing the property to build their mansion. And the new neighbors were stereotyped to the realm of disbelief. As much as I detested Brad, the author gave us way too much information about his dirty thoughts regarding his stepdaughter. I was suspicious when Fowler made a big deal about the Purity Pledge.

There is nothing subtle about this book. I really enjoy drawing my own conclusions about characters and their actions. Oh well. I'll get off my soap box now and pay more attention to my instincts when my red flags appear.

59Donna828
Ago 3, 2020, 1:42pm



Book No. 66: Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman. Borrowed from a friend, 370 pp., 3.5 stars.

"The girls found more wonders in the tower. Huguettte recalled playing hide-and-seek with Andree there, one hundred feet above the street, discomforting their mother terribly. The tower held its own secret, a suite held in reserve for dark days. This was the quarantine suite, a valued space in these years before antibiotics, with a bedroom and its own kitchen, a refuge in case of a pandemic."
(9)

I've been reading this book a little at a time for about a month now. Finishing it was the perfect palate cleanser in response to my last book. I'm not drawn to stories about the pseudo-rich, but I did like learning about W.A. Clark and the fortune he made in the copper country of Montana and how he bought his way into politics. He was more interested in protecting his investments than serving his constituents. Hmmm, some things never change. He got into the railway business and was the founder of Las Vegas.This self-made man was rich--as in Rockefeller and Carnegie-rich.

But I was more interested in Huguette (pronounced Ooo-GET) and her idiosyncrasies. She was kind and sensitive and got as much enjoyment from her extensive doll collection as she did from the great wealth and properties she inherited. In her last 20 years (she lived to be a few days shy of 105) she resided in a New York Hospital mostly attended by her longtime companion and private nurse who was paid very well for her care (over $30 million in salary, properties, and other gifts). Her life is a bit of a mystery, but I think she was just a woman looking for privacy and care in her old age. I was glad the book had an abundance of photographs, many in color, of Huguette and her paintings, collections, and good times over the years.

60PaulCranswick
Editado: Ago 3, 2020, 11:14pm

>54 Donna828: I am surprised that Mitchell didn't get any Booker Longlisting this year; especially when Tyler ( >40 Donna828: did).

61karenmarie
Ago 6, 2020, 8:52am

Hi Donna!

>51 Donna828: My dad got a Purple Heart, too. He carried shrapnel in his leg all his life and only shared a couple of funny food-related experiences about his war.

>53 Donna828: Your review confirms that it makes sense for me to get it from the Library and not invest any money in it.

>58 Donna828: I loved Fowler’s Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald, but I may pass on this one.

I appreciate the fact that you review books honestly without regard for ‘popular opinion’. What’s the sense in hiding what you really feel about a book?

62Donna828
Editado: Ago 10, 2020, 5:21pm

>60 PaulCranswick: I'm with you, Paul. I think David Mitchell deserved to be on that list. While I enjoyed Redhead by the Side of the Road, it certainly doesn't merit a place on the Booker list. I wish that the list would revert back to British authors. We have the Pulitzer, NBA, and NBCC (National Book Critics Circle) awards for American authors, along with a plethora of regional awards. Enough already...

>61 karenmarie: Thanks for the kind words about my 'honest' reviews, Karen. I have always tried to point out the good, the bad, and sometimes ugly about what I'm reading. There are very few books that I loathe. I try to do my due diligence and either ignore or quit reading those misfit books. In Fowler's defense, I had no quibbles with her writing, she just hit my red flag button midway though the book. I guess I cared enough about the characters to see it through to the end.

As far as Hamnet goes, I thought it was "good" which is what my 3.5 rating signifies. I actually upgraded it to 3.7. It was just too slow for me...and I usually enjoy slow books. I also tend to compare authors' books, and I enjoyed other O'Farrell books more than Hamnet.

63Donna828
Ago 10, 2020, 11:58am



Book No. 67: Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. Libby Audio, 368 pp., 3.8 stars.

I listened to this book in bits and pieces over the past few weeks for a reason. It's powerful stuff!! It is what it says it is: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar. Sugar is the pseudonym for Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild which was about her adventures in hiking the Pacific Crest Trail.

Most of the letters are about heartbreaking events in peoples' lives. You can tell that Sugar feels the pain of others because she has also suffered. Many of her responses are essays on the travails of life and how to cope. She is nonjudgmental and doesn't shy away from even the most difficult topics. Her observations are spot on and sometimes uncomfortable to read because of her candor which is modified by her compassion. You won't find many Dear Abby platitudes in this collection.

Now for my honest thoughts. I have led a sheltered life and was amazed at what some people have gone through. Tough times make tough people I guess, but I could have done without the many F-bombs. That's just me, though. I also thought that she focused too much on her past. I know that gives her credibility, although it seemed like almost every situation became a Cheryl story rather than a balm for the wounded. Slight quibbles. I am a fan of this book!

64Donna828
Ago 10, 2020, 12:46pm



Book No. 68: Night. Sleep. Death. The Stars. by Joyce Carol Oates. Library, 787 pp., 4.1 stars.

A Clear Midnight

This is thy hour, O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best.
Night, sleep, death and the stars. ~~ Walt Whitman


I love long books and this one kept my attention throughout. The stage is set early in the book when the McClaren Family patriarch suffers a stroke and dies. He hadn't been ill and the family thought he was recovering in the hospital when he passed away. It's revealed early on that there is more to the story. It seems he stopped when he saw two policemen beating an Indian man on the side of the road. He became part of the "problem" and was also beaten and subdued by a taser gun which contributed to his death. (Oh no, I thought)... I can't read another book about social justice. Not to worry as that was just one of the subplots. The gist of the book was how a family reacts to a sudden tragedy.

Ms. Oates writes about families in great detail in many of her books (I'm thinking about We Were the Mulvaneys for one). In her latest, she focuses on the widow, Jessalyn, and how she struggles with the loss of a husband who made all the decisions. Her children were not much help. They loved their mother but, unfortunately, these 30-something "children" have not advanced beyond the sibling rivalry stage. The three oldest in particular are selfish and rather deplorable. Their exploits make for some interesting reading, though. There is lots of family drama (to the point where I want it to stop). One more thing, I think Ms. Oates is a wonderful writer as I like lots and lots of details about the characters in a family saga. I've read other books by her (6 out of the 80+ she's written), but I haven't been aware of her use of parentheses before. I'm wondering if it's a trademark of hers (like Louise Penny's incomplete sentences). Not that it matters. I just needed to fuss about something. ;-)

65bell7
Ago 12, 2020, 8:15pm

I have yet to read a book by Joyce Carol Oates, Donna, though I've been meaning to for years. Nice to know that her newest is a worthwhile one to check out when and if I finally choose one to read.

66mdoris
Editado: Ago 15, 2020, 9:50pm

HI Donna, I have only read JC Oates memoir A Widow's Story which I found very good and interesting. Which of her 6/80+ fiction books did you like the best? I think I should read her work!

>63 Donna828: I enjoyed Tiny Beautiful Things too when I read it. It was such an unusual book.

67Donna828
Editado: Ago 16, 2020, 6:58pm

>65 bell7: Hi Mary. You might want to pick a shorter book by Joyce Carol Oates to sample her work. I just bought a collection of her short stories. I know some of her books are much more compact than her most recent behemoth. I'm going to list my books in the next response to answer a question which could give you some ideas.

>66 mdoris: Two Marys in a row. How delightful! I love having my books on LT because I could look up the JCO books I've read and see how I rated them. I'll just give you a brief recap:

4-star books: We Were the Mulvaneys, Missing Mom, The Gravedigger's Daughter
3.5 stars: Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart; The Falls
3 stars: Black Girl/White Girl

I hope this helps. I will look into A Widow's Story. Thanks for the tip.

68Donna828
Ago 16, 2020, 6:31pm

I took my life into my hands on Friday and entered a bookstore. Yes, an actual bookstore where I could browse to my heart's content. I was masked and hand sanitized. I also avoided fondling the books...now that was tough. A friend of mine (one of my favorite book group leaders) left her library job late last summer and opened a new bookstore in December. Unfortunately, she had to shut down when COVID-19 raised its ugly head and is now going out of business. I don't buy many books these days because my shelves are overflowing, but I did help her out a tiny bit by buying a few: Heat, a story collection by Joyce Carol Oates, Small Wonder, essays by Barbara Kingsolver, and The Bird Artist. I wish Holly would go back to the library and lead our group again (that isn't meeting until who knows when), but they are not hiring so she may go back to her previous life of being an attorney. Interestingly, she worked primarily in immigration law and we had a wonderful chat about my most recent book.

69Donna828
Editado: Ago 16, 2020, 7:08pm



Book No. 69: American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins. Library, 385 pp., 4.3 stars.

"Lydia can't see it from the dark place where she is, but she can sense it. She knows that it's the perfect time of day out there in the desert. She imagines the colors making a show of themselves outside. The glittering gray pavement, the aching red land. The colors streaking flamboyantly across the sky. When she closes her eyes, she can see them, the paint in the firmament. Dazzling. Purple, yellow, orange, pink, and blue. She can see those perfect colors, hot and bright, a feathered headdress. Beneath, the landscape stretches out its arms.”


It's a good thing there are descriptions of beauty to make the suffering in this book more palatable. There are also many touching scenes between Lydia and her 8-year-old son Luca as they flee Acapulco for safety in the United States. They are not typical migrants as they have money and a middle-class background. However, they have the threat of the same sudden death that took 16 members of their family as they celebrated a birthday. Lydia's husband was a journalist who got on the wrong side of a powerful cartel leader and now the two who survived the massacre are running for their lives.

This is just one of the controversies about the book. Granted, the circumstances sound contrived and they do have more resources than most other migrants; however, they quickly learn that their affluence means nothing when they are reduced to jumping on freight trains to head north. This is more of a suspense story and one I could not put down. Despite its flaws, the book seems to me to be as authentic as the nonfiction accounts I've read in Enrique's Journey and The Devil's Highway.

70Caroline_McElwee
Ago 16, 2020, 6:57pm

>67 Donna828: A JCO fan here, though I haven't read much of her work lately.

>68 Donna828: I remember really enjoying The Bird Artist Donna, I read it some years ago. It's wonderful to get into a bookshop again though, isn't it? Sorry to hear of your friend's shop going under.

71Donna828
Ago 16, 2020, 7:04pm

Hi there, Caroline. It was sad to see my friend's dream shattered, but she is strong and much younger than I am so I think she will be fine. I see way too many "Closed" signs on local businesses these days. Our business has suffered but is picking up again, although there won't be any Christmas bonuses this year. I think our employees are grateful to still have their jobs. Strange times we are living in. I hope things are going well in England.

72PaulCranswick
Ago 16, 2020, 7:11pm

>67 Donna828: I have also read nowhere near enough of JCO but there is so much of it that it does become daunting.

>69 Donna828: I decided to let the furore die down a little before reading this one, but I do have trouble criticising publishers for their crassness, taste and prejudice when so many readers I esteem enjoyed the book. Good to see that a number of Latinx writers have seen sales in their books soar as a result of raised profiles from this controversy.

73msf59
Editado: Ago 16, 2020, 8:58pm

Happy Sunday, Donna! Wow! You are barreling through the books. Sorry, Hamnet wasn't a home run for you. It worked on every level for me. The same thing for Tiny Beautiful Things, which blew me away. It looks like we were right on the money with American Dirt. I am so glad most of my LT pals, that have read it, shared our opinion. Lastly, the JCO does sound interesting but unlike you, big books spook me. Grins...

74figsfromthistle
Ago 17, 2020, 7:40am

Wow! Lots of great reading going on here.

Have a super Monday!

75mdoris
Ago 19, 2020, 7:53pm

>67 Donna828: Thanks Donna for your JCO books listing and ratings.

76lkernagh
Ago 23, 2020, 4:31pm

Hi Donna, I am catching up with some threads. Lovely to see your reading continuing at a pace faster than mine! Great review of Hamnet, a book I admit to having my eye on since it came out. Given that I have been immersing myself in productions of Shakespeare's plays, I don't know if it is something that I want to read right now... especially as you have mentioned that it is a sad story. I am not in the mood for sad right now. ;-)

>64 Donna828: - You are enticing me to consider reading Joyce Carol Oates, at some point. I do like long, saga styled stories.

77Donna828
Ago 27, 2020, 12:49pm

>72 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul, I have two unread books by Joyce Carol Oates, but don't know where to go from there. That's when I check the ratings on LT to see what the 'local' favorites are. I thought the vendetta against Cummins was uncalled for. Sure, we need to read more Latino authors, but the death threats were too extreme.

>73 msf59: I love the big books, Mark. Wait until this winter when it's too cold to go birding. You just might change your mind when you have all that extra time. Congratulations (again) on that retirement which is just around the corner.

>74 figsfromthistle: Thanks for stopping by, Anita. I have been such a hermit lately. I forget that social distancing doesn't apply online. Haha.

78Donna828
Ago 27, 2020, 1:00pm

>75 mdoris: You're welcome, Mary. I love having easy access to my reading stats on LT and am happy to share.

>76 lkernagh: Hi Lori. Yes, Hamnet was a sad tale. And I wish I could rave more about it. Perhaps it was too close to our current situation with a pandemic. Also, the plot was too thin for me...I much prefer "long, saga styled stories". Now I'm off to pay a few visits. I'll start with you!

79Donna828
Editado: Set 6, 2020, 7:50pm



Book No. 71: The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert. Mine, 500 pp., 3.7 stars.

"The old cobbler had believed in something he called 'the signature of all things'--namely, that God had hidden clues for humanity's betterment inside the design of every flower, leaf, fruit, and tree on earth. All the natural world was a divine code containing proof of our Creator's love. This is why so many medicinal plants resembled the diseases they were meant to cure or the organs they were able to treat."
(229)

I have heard of this theory by Jacob Boehme and find it strangely satisfying. I would never have thought of Elizabeth Gilbert as a scientific author, but I was fascinated by her research on mosses. That's kind of funny because many of the reviews I read regarded it as the worst part of the book. But then, I've never claimed to be an average reader in terms of what appeals to me.

The first part of the book was written with intelligence and offered great potential, but after Alma sent her pseudo-husband off to Tahiti, things went downhill in a hurry for me. I found the characters to be pretty bland for the most part. Alma's father Henry was interesting; however he played only a minor role after his introduction. Alma's clever side was intriguing but I could have done without knowing about her sexual frustrations. Ah, so it was not a perfect book, but then those are few and far between. It was good enough to finish and the payoff came when Alma got to know her Dutch family. My favorite character was the Dutch housekeeper. I wish Gilbert had told the story through Hanneke's point of view.

80ronincats
Ago 28, 2020, 10:44am

Hey, Donna, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!

81RebaRelishesReading
Ago 28, 2020, 12:33pm

>79 Donna828: I have that one in Mt. TBR and gave it serious consideration before choosing another one to start today. It may just stay in the foothills.

82Caroline_McElwee
Ago 28, 2020, 6:04pm

Adding birthday wishes. I hope there was cake...

83mdoris
Ago 28, 2020, 6:07pm

Oh happy happy birthday to you Donna! Hope you get thoroughly spoiled!

84karenmarie
Ago 29, 2020, 9:38am

Hi Donna, and belated Happy Birthday!

>67 Donna828: I have We Were the Mulvaneys on my shelves and will try to get to it this year.

>68 Donna828: Not fondling the books would be the toughest part for me. I have not gone into a book store, thrift shop, or secondhand book store for the duration, although it pains me to drive by knowing they are again open. My shelves, too, are overflowing.

85Donna828
Editado: Ago 29, 2020, 7:09pm

Welcome, Visitors, and thank you for the birthday wishes. Yesterday was a quiet day except for the many phone calls from family and friends. And then I had two special visitors, Haley and Molly, who (along with their parents) shared pizza, watermelon, and brownie sundaes with us. Haley even gave me a book, one which she read this summer and thought I would enjoy: The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. I’m not a fantasy lover but will read this one with enthusiasm so we can talk about it. Whatever it takes to encourage reading in my grandchildren.

>80 ronincats: Thanks, Roni.

>81 RebaRelishesReading: Hi Reba, I love your comment about the foothills. The book was very uneven for me. Loved the science parts but the ‘love’ story left me cold.

>82 Caroline_McElwee: No cake, Caroline, but I have lots of brownies left. They were sumptuous topped with cookie dough ice cream and chocolate sauce.

>83 mdoris: Mary, I definitely got spoiled by my wonderful family. I got special messages from each of my six grandchildren. Happy Day!

>84 karenmarie: I’ll look forward to your thoughts on the Mulvaney book, Karen. As I recall, the subject matter was hard to read about. Joyce Carol Oates does a good job with family drama. No more bookstore visits for me in the near future. It was a surreal experience yet very soul satisfying.

86Donna828
Ago 29, 2020, 5:19pm



This little lady made my birthday extra special. Penny is a 50-lb mixed breed we rescued from the Humane Society. She’s 3-years old and was the calmest dog in the shelter. That doesn’t mean she lays around like this all day, though. She’s obsessed with the squirrels in our neighborhood, which makes our walks interesting. She met Maverick, our son’s Golden Retriever last night, and they became instant best friends. I was too busy being the birthday celebrant to take pictures of them together.

It has been almost two years since Lucky the White Lab died, and I thought we would never have another dog. I’m glad my feelings changed and we’ve allowed another dog into our lives.

87Caroline_McElwee
Ago 29, 2020, 5:37pm

>85 Donna828: Sounds like a lovely celebration Donna, and hello to Penny. A lovely new addition to the family.

88Donna828
Ago 29, 2020, 7:10pm

>87 Caroline_McElwee: Caroline, I see I messed up the numbering in my responses above. I have fixed it now. Things are more normal at our house with the pitter-patter of puppy toes. Dogs are a lot of trouble but they are so worth it. We have had a succession of 5 dogs in our marriage of 52 years, each one different-just like children-and each one loved.

89ronincats
Ago 29, 2020, 8:40pm

>86 Donna828: Oh, how exciting!!! I'm so happy for you!

90mdoris
Ago 29, 2020, 10:32pm

Congratulations Penny! i know you have found a very special family to be part of. Well done! Love the picture in >86 Donna828:.

91RebaRelishesReading
Ago 30, 2020, 12:25pm

Welcome to the LT family, Penny! It sounds like you're just perfect for the family you found.

92SandDune
Ago 30, 2020, 4:12pm

>86 Donna828: Penny looks lovely Donna!

93karenmarie
Ago 31, 2020, 11:27am

>86 Donna828: Congratulations on Penny! She looks so relaxed, like “Ah, home at last!”

94Copperskye
Ago 31, 2020, 11:39am

>86 Donna828:
Congrats to you, Donna, and Penny!

You got 50# of love for your birthday and Penny, well, Penny won the lottery!

95Donna828
Ago 31, 2020, 1:05pm

>89 ronincats: Thank you, Roni. We’re pretty over-the-moon ourselves.

>90 mdoris: Thanks, Mary. I was surprised that there was not much of a transition period. She came in the house, checked it out, and flopped down in her bed. I hope the “honeymoon” lasts!

>91 RebaRelishesReading: Penny appreciates the warm welcome, Reba. She certainly has perked us up. I might even share a picture of her from time to time. 😉

96Donna828
Editado: Ago 31, 2020, 6:23pm

>92 SandDune: Hi Rhian. We think she’s pretty special.

>93 karenmarie: Karen, I think it was meant to be. I had an almost sleepless night after our first viewing of her a week ago from Saturday. I really questioned whether or not we “needed” another dog at our ages. We adored our last dog Lucky despite the fact that he was aggressive and extremely high maintenance. Penny has a much calmer temperament and seems highly intelligent. Proud Mama talking! Anyway, we went back on Sunday and made her an official new family member. No regrets!

>94 Copperskye: Joanne, we ALL won the lottery. I’m just sorry it took us almost 2 years to get brave enough to let another dog into our lives. Penny is a keeper! She has brightened our lives this past week and we look forward to more joy ahead.

97Donna828
Editado: Set 6, 2020, 7:50pm



Book No. 72: Weather by Jenny Offill. Library, 208 pp., 3.6 stars.

“Much of the population was in a mild stupor, depressed, congregating in small unstable groups, and prone to rumors of doom. But I don’t know. That’s pretty much every day here.”


Lizzie works in the university library where she was a grad student. As a sideline, she helps her friend/mentor answer correspondence related to her podcast relating to the unrest of modern times. She is married with a young son and is very close to her brother who is teetering on the edge of drug abuse. This is a book about climate change and uncertain political times. It seems everyone is on edge, kind of like living through a Pandemic. I sort of enjoyed the rambling stream-of-consciousness style. It was easy to read and reminded me of the upcoming change of season in this quote: "...I think of leaves, of something falling and accumulating without notice."

This is pretty much a book without a plot. It was a quick afternoon read and gave me some things to think about so it fits right into my good-but-not-great rating. It is probably not the best choice if you are suffering Pandemic anxiety. There is a sense of dread behind the random thoughts and vignettes. I did see a slight shift toward the end from generalized angst to "let's make a plan" mode. I liked that the serious subject matter was injected with just the right amount of levity to lighten up what could have been a very depressing book.

98katiekrug
Ago 31, 2020, 2:58pm

>86 Donna828: - Welcome, Penny!

She looks like a very sweet girl.

99bell7
Editado: Set 1, 2020, 7:26pm

Aw, Penny looks like a sweet girl. (Edited to add - *ahem* sorry, didn't mean to mimic Katie completely - she does look like a sweetheart, though!) Congratulations!

>97 Donna828: I read that one earlier in the pandemic and found it a bit surreal reading. My rating fell more into the didn't like it range, but I can appreciate what others like about it, it just wasn't for me. Hope your next read hits the spot for you better.

100BLBera
Set 1, 2020, 10:10pm

Happy belated birthday, Donna, and congrats on the new family member. Penny sounds like a winner.

101FAMeulstee
Set 2, 2020, 10:39am

Belated happy birthday, Donna.
Welcome Penny, lucky dog #6 :-)

102lkernagh
Set 3, 2020, 11:12am

Oh, I missed your birthday, Donna. Happy belated birthday wishes! How exciting to welcome Penny into your home.

103Donna828
Set 6, 2020, 12:41pm

>98 katiekrug: Hi Katie. Penny is a sweetheart. We've had her two weeks today and we are crazy about her. She has learned not to get on the furniture but she's allowed in the bed at night. Tradeoffs! It's so much fun having a dog in our lives again after almost two years.

>99 bell7: That's okay, Mary. Sweet is sweet! Weather was definitely in the surreal category. The writing style was a little bit like that of Writers and Lovers but I enjoyed the latter more.

>100 BLBera: I survived another birthday, Beth. It seems like they come faster and faster with each passing year. It gave me an excuse to quit talking about a dog and actually seeking one out. Penny is definitely a keeper, but I think DH and I are the winners!

104Donna828
Set 6, 2020, 12:45pm

>101 FAMeulstee: Thank you for the birthday greeting, Anita. We are all feeling lucky to have a new dog in our lives. Penny seems right at home here.

>102 lkernagh: Lori, the excitement is waning as we learn more about each other. We definitely have a routine going. Now I get two walks a day instead of one! Penny will keep us on our toes while she entertains us. Thanks for the birthday wishes.

105Donna828
Editado: Set 6, 2020, 7:52pm

I am going to comment on my last two books together because they were two of a kind. Granted, they were the first two books in a trilogy; I just wasn't expecting them to be so similar. They both featured shoddy police work resulting in the arrest of the wrong suspect. Both were about missing women with dire results. And they had creepy vibes due to the sense of impending doom in isolated surroundings. I considered the latter a big plus as I am fascinated by the rugged countryside of Iceland. That is the major reason I took a chance on this author. I wasn't that disappointed, although I didn't consider them Thrillers as advertised. They were more slow-burning crime mysteries. I may or may not read the last one. I didn't care for the back-in-time progression but I'm kind of interested in seeing how Hulda, the protagonist police inspector, became the loner she was. First, though, I need to get back to my two favorite mystery series: Cork O'Connor by William Kent Krueger and Ruth Galloway by Elly Griffiths.



Book No. 73: The Darkness by Ragnar Jónasson. Library, 336 pp., 3 stars.



Book No. 74: The Island by Ragnar Jónasson. Library, 336 pp., 3.2 stars.

106Donna828
Editado: Set 6, 2020, 8:00pm

***Somehow I missed writing my comments on one of my books read in August. I noticed that there was a 10-day period without a book report. I think the addition of Penny might be partly to blame! Now I will have to go back and do some renumbering to squeeze #70 in there.***



Book No. 70: Afterlife by Julia Alvarez. Library, 272 pp., 4 stars.

This is the third book about sisterhood that I've read by this Dominican American author. In this one, Antonia is retiring from her job as an English Professor, but doesn't get her celebration because her husband dies suddenly of a heart attack. It is extremely hard for her to adapt to both widowhood and retirement at once even with the support of her three sisters who call and visit her often. Then she is hit with another crisis when one of her sisters disappears just about the same time that a neighbor begs her for help getting his pregnant fiancė into the country from Mexico.

It is interesting and coincidental that I read this one right after American Dirt. That's the way my library holds have been coming in! I got to read two stories about immigration from different points of view. Both were very good even though one was written by a white woman and this one had a Latino author.

107BLBera
Set 7, 2020, 1:19pm

I loved Afterlife, Donna. But I love most of what Alvarez writes.

108Donna828
Set 10, 2020, 8:28pm

>107 BLBera: Me too, Beth. I'm glad she finally wrote another book. It's been awhile.

109Donna828
Editado: Set 10, 2020, 9:43pm

🏈 Go Chiefs! 🏈



Book No. 75: Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn. Library, 375 pp., 4 stars.

“Hope can be a god as well. It's something that can be prayed to.”


Set against the lush background of Hawaii and incorporating the mythology of Hawaiian gods with a little magical realism thrown in, this was a good debut effort. It is difficult to keep the flow going when following a family of five after the children grow up and go their separate ways. Life was good for the Flores family until the sugar plantation on the Big Island shut down, forcing a move to look for work. They sold most of their possessions and splurged on a touristy glass-bottom boat ride. Unfortunately, the middle child, 7-year-old Noa fell overboard into a shiver of circling sharks. Thanks to a 'miracle', he was gently delivered into the arms of his mother by one of the sharks. Noa became an instant celebrity and even managed some faith healings before he began to doubt his power. It's not easy being a boy legend, and it caused a rift in his relationships with his older brother and younger sister which carried over into adulthood when they all left for the mainland after high school.

I wanted to get into the whole Hawaiian god thing that influenced the plot but I appreciated it more for the family dynamics between the siblings. This book won the summer Tournament of Books sponsored by The Morning News. I loved the in-depth commentary as usual and knew that I would like this book.The writing was good with some brilliant phrasing, although the narrative seemed to jump around quite a bit as it devoted the short chapters to the points of view of the different members of the family. I look forward to seeing what this author comes up with for his next book.

110Storeetllr
Set 11, 2020, 11:54am

Hi, Donna! Looks like you're reading up a storm! That's one layer of silver lining to the mess we're in: time to read because no one's going out much. Glad you and the family are doing well and staying safe.

>109 Donna828: Whatever else one can say about the book, the cover and title are pretty great!

111FAMeulstee
Set 12, 2020, 7:13pm

>109 Donna828: Congratulations on reaching 75, Donna!

112drneutron
Set 12, 2020, 8:15pm

Congrats!

113The_Hibernator
Set 13, 2020, 7:23am

Yay for 75. I'm adding in children's books from now on to get to 75. How many times can I count Brown Bear, Brown Bear, do you think?

114thornton37814
Set 13, 2020, 10:33am

>113 The_Hibernator: I always have children's books in my counts, but I usually still have far more adult books and go way beyond 75.

115Donna828
Set 13, 2020, 5:10pm

>110 Storeetllr: Hi Mary. Staying home is beginning to wear on this introvert. The new dog gets me outside more than in the past which is helpful. Isn’t that cover striking? The title would have piqued my curiosity if I hadn’t read so much about the book before I requested it from the library.

>111 FAMeulstee: Thank you, Anita.

>112 drneutron: Thanks, Jim.

116Donna828
Set 13, 2020, 5:17pm

>113 The_Hibernator: Rachel, I am reading The Adventures of Dr. Dolittle with Haley (almost 10) and Molly (7) as part of Friday’s Grandma School curriculum. I’m definitely counting it. It’s the 100th anniversary of its publication this year and is holding our interest thus far.

>114 thornton37814: Hi Lori! 👍🏻

117Donna828
Set 13, 2020, 9:58pm



Book No. 76: The Innocents by Michael Crummey. Library, 290 pp., 4 stars.

"Ada had never in her life been more than a good shout from someone's ear...She watched Evered make his way to the point each morning, following his slow progress along the beach. She called luck to him along his route and he shouted back until he was out of earshot. The isolation she felt then was so unfamiliar she took it for a physical ailment that worsened when she sat idle."
(34)

This was a riveting and painful book about two siblings orphaned on the isolated Newfoundland coast in the 19th Century. First the baby sister Martha, then their mother, then father were lost to a fatal disease leaving behind 11-year-old Evered and 9-year-old Ada to figure out how to survive the cold winter. They were good helpers to their parents who struggled to feed their family, but still they were only children. Somehow they figured out that all waking hours were going to be spent either fishing, gardening, hunting, or foraging for food. They also had to chop wood to keep the fire going through the long winters. They slept together to keep each other warm and both of them worked long hard hours.

I found it interesting that the trade ship that accepted the harvested salted fish in exchange for flour, molasses, and other supplies they couldn't grow or catch was named The Hope. It seemed more like the company store that sharecroppers had to deal with. They were always indebted to someone else and life held little hope for them. I was drawn into their struggle to stay alive and their refusal to give up and ask for help from the people in the nearest town. They wanted to live the only life they knew no matter how much they suffered. The author did a brilliant job of making this reader feel the pain of the cold and hunger of their daily lives. I also enjoyed Sweetland which I read several years ago and now want to read more books by Michael Crummey.

118msf59
Set 14, 2020, 7:52am

Congrats on hitting 75, Donna! And yes, Go Chiefs! Such an exciting team to watch. Hope all is well in MO. I have Afterlife on the list and you snagged my interest with Sharks in the Time of Saviors, which I had not heard of.

119mdoris
Set 14, 2020, 12:38pm

>117 Donna828: So glad that you enjoyed the book Donna. I loved it!

120vivians
Set 14, 2020, 1:07pm

>117 Donna828: Both Crummey titles have been winners for me too, Donna. I also liked Galore and I see he has a few others in his backlist I need to get to!

121bell7
Set 14, 2020, 6:22pm

Congrats on 75 and beyond, Donna! I'll be going for the Giants tonight but good luck to the Chiefs - I do like Mahomes, you've got quite a talented young (well, okay, now that most of them are younger than me they're all "young") quarterback there.

122thornton37814
Set 15, 2020, 3:59pm

>117 Donna828: I've been intending to read that one. The chair of our English department loved it.

123BLBera
Set 20, 2020, 1:53pm

Congrats on reaching 75, Donna.

124Donna828
Set 20, 2020, 9:41pm

>118 msf59: The Chiefs pulled out another win today! Yes, they are an exciting team to watch. Missouri needs rain badly but everything else is just peachy. Haha...except for that Covid thing! Sharks was a new one for me. As I said, if it had not been for the summer Tournament of Books, I would have missed it. Afterlife should be moved up your list, Mark. Enjoy another upcoming week of retirement, my friend. Life is good these days, right?

>119 mdoris: Thanks for the nudge, Mary. It was good to be in Newfoundland even though I got very cold and hungry reading this book. I guess that kind of immersion is a good thing. I'll look into more of Crummey's books.

>120 vivians: I thought I had read Galore, Vivian. I need to make that a reality. His writing is addictive.

125Donna828
Set 20, 2020, 9:44pm

>121 bell7: Hi Mary, Patrick Mahomes is fun to watch and a good role model for his young fans. Thanks for the congratulations.

>122 thornton37814: I'd say that speaks very highly of the book, Lori. I hope you love it, too.

>123 BLBera: Thanks, Beth!

126Donna828
Set 20, 2020, 10:06pm



Book No. 77: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Libby Audio, 384 pp., 3.3 stars.

So, what's a 73-year-old grandmother doing reading books about teenage boys (and girls) living much of their lives in the world of virtual reality? I never thought I'd read this book, but the pickings were slim when I needed an audiobook so I gave it a chance. I didn't love it, but it certainly intrigued me. I especially liked the nostalgia of life back in the 1980s. I could even relate to the video games and Dungeon & Dragon talk because I was raising two sons back then who were really into it. This book was set in the not-too-distant future, and I can't say that I blame the characters for their fantasty infatuation with the Oasis World. I hope that our society doesn't become as difficult as theirs was 20 years in the future, but it's not looking good.

127Donna828
Editado: Set 20, 2020, 10:28pm



Book No. 78: Hid From Our Eyes by Julia Spencer-Fleming. Library, 340 pp., 3.6 stars.

Chief of Police Russell Van Alstyne of Milers Kill, NY, is back with his Episcopalian Priest wife, Clare Fergusson, and their new baby Ethan after a 7-yr. absence. The new book features a deceased young woman in party clothes found on an isolated road with no discernible cause of death. That is strange enough by itself, but we soon learn that the same scenario occurred twice before in unsolved cases from 1952 and 1972. It's a good thing for the reader that all the backflashes were headed by the dates. I wanted to love this book. I enjoyed it but thought that way too much time was spent on the two cold cases.

128figsfromthistle
Set 21, 2020, 6:11pm

Congrats on surpassing 75 books read!

129karenmarie
Set 22, 2020, 10:04am

Hi Donna!

>127 Donna828: I'm not looking at your review since I'm on page 16...

I'm glad you've got so much good reading going and Friday’s Grandma School curriculum is such a good idea.

130RebaRelishesReading
Set 22, 2020, 11:52am

Just de-lurking to wave *hi* --

131lkernagh
Set 23, 2020, 12:45pm

Hi Donna, congratulations on 75+ books read so far this year!

>117 Donna828: - You have caught my interest with your review of the innocents.

132ronincats
Set 24, 2020, 1:05am

>126 Donna828: I enjoyed Ready Player One back when it came out. All of the 80s allusions made it quite fun!

Go, Chiefs!

Looks like your governor and his wife are suffering the consequences of not wearing masks.

133Copperskye
Set 26, 2020, 10:55pm

Congrats on reached 75, Donna! Goodreads kindly lets me know that I am currently 6 books behind schedule in my reading challenge. You’d think with this whole not going anywhere thing, I’d be able to keep up!

You’ve also reminded me that I have Sweetland on the shelf. I should add it to my read soon pile.

134Donna828
Set 28, 2020, 12:46pm

Living through a Pandemic should give me oodles of free time, right? Somehow, all of a sudden, my schedule is overflowing. I enrolled in an intensive Bible study which means I must break down and be a Zoomer. Turns out my lovely MacBook Pro which I've have for 8 years now is ancient and can't be upgraded to support Zoom so I had to do the dreaded computer shopping...I couldn't wait for an online purchase so actually went into Sam's Club and Best Buy to check out a *gasp* non-Mac. I didn't want to spend a fortune and ended up with a decent HP for around $700. Now I have to practice with it so I don't look like too much of a dummy in tonight's Zoom session.

We also had surprise company. My son in Denver called on Wednesday saying he knows how I dislike surprises so he was giving me plenty of notice that they would be here on Thursday! So I went into high-gear to clean the 3-story house and get some proper food in...things like bacon, sugary cereal, 2% milk... We had a lovely very short visit. Now it's back to Dullsville around here.

>128 figsfromthistle: Thank you, Anita.

>129 karenmarie: I hope you liked the Spencer-Fleming book, Karen. I'll try and visit your thread today or tomorrow. Grandma School was canceled on Friday because of the family visit mentioned ^^. We did have my other son's family over for dinner Friday evening and had Molly (7) over on Saturday for a sleepover. Her sister Haley (10) was having a delayed Birthday All-Nighter (they went to sleep around 5:00 a.m.). Molly wanted to come over here and play with her cousin Hope (6) instead. It was a crazy and fun weekend, but everyone is out of here now so I can play a little catch-up.

>130 RebaRelishesReading: Hi Reba, I've been doing some lurking of my own lately.

135Donna828
Editado: Set 28, 2020, 2:27pm

>131 lkernagh: Lori, I think you would really like The Innocents. Have you read any other books by Michael Crummey? I wanted to say: Have you read any other Crummey books but thought that sounded strange and disparaging. lol

>132 ronincats: It was a fun book, Roni. I'm glad I gave it a shot. I'm also glad my city of Springfield, MO has a mask ordinance. There are a lot of people around here (I just happen to live with one) that wouldn't be wearing masks if it wasn't mandated.

>133 Copperskye: How nice of Goodreads to let you know that you're "behind", Joanne. I'm really surprised that my numbers aren't up even more as it seems I'm doing more reading than ever. I'm reading some fairly long books...except for my next one. I'm going to squeeze my annual graphic novel in this month to boost my September numbers! Sweetland was a good one!

136RebaRelishesReading
Set 28, 2020, 1:00pm

Sounds like you're keeping busy, Donna :)

137Donna828
Set 28, 2020, 1:45pm

>136 RebaRelishesReading: I am, Reba. And I just spent almost 30 minutes sorting out my thoughts about my last book--and with the touch of an errant finger--lost everything. Sob! I will try to reconstruct with more care...

138Donna828
Editado: Set 28, 2020, 2:19pm



Book No. 79: Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli. Library, 383 pp., 4.3 stars.

"Whenever the boy and girl talk about child refugees, I realize now, they call them 'the lost children.' I suppose the word 'refugee' is more difficult to remember. And even if the term 'lost' is not precise, in our intimate family lexicon, the refugees become known to us as 'the lost children'. And in a way, I guess, they are lost children. They are children who have lost the right to a childhood."
(75)

I am glad my niece told me to read this book. When I mentioned that I had returned it to the library unread, she literally gasped and told me to check it back out and read it. She was so right. I loved this story about a young family of four, known as Pa, Ma, Boy, and Girl. They were on a road trip because the parents were both doing extensive research studies. Pa was fascinated by the Apaches who had their last hurrah in NM, and Ma was disturbed about child immigrants, a story that hit close to home because a friend was waiting for word on the status of her two young daughters traveling with a coyote from Mexico. We learn much about the plight of refugee children through the fictitious elegies that are based on actual happenings.

Part of the reason I enjoyed this book was because of the long road trip from NYC to New Mexico with lots of interesting stops along the way. I love road trips! I lapped up the details about the books they were reading and listening to; however, I think they might have chosen a friendlier book than Lord of the Rings for the family audiobook, even with these precocious children.

The first part of the book is narrated by Mother, but I really fell in love with it when Boy (age 10) took over with his point of view. He picked up some vibes that things were not going well between his father and Girl's mother so he took it upon himself to write his own documentary about their trip. His sister was only 5-years-old and he was afraid her memories wouldn't be as clear as his. There was a real sweetness and trust in the close relationship between this non-biological brother and sister. A big part of the story was told in the Polaroid pictures he took along the way. I thought including the pictures was brilliant. In fact, the more I think about this book, the better I like it.

139Donna828
Editado: Out 4, 2020, 9:37pm



Book No. 80: Book Love by Debbie Tung. Library, 138 pp., 3.7 stars.

There's not much to say about this book except that is was a joy to read. It was also a quick read, and I am unabashedly adding it on the last day of the month to boost my September numbers. I try to read one graphic novel a year...and Debbie Tung has been my go-to for two years in a row now. I enjoyed Quiet Girl in a Noisy World a tiny bit more because it gave me a few more laughs.

My 10-yr-old granddaughter read it and LOVED it!



Here is my Mini-Me Haley reading Book Love on her tenth birthday.

140Donna828
Set 30, 2020, 2:55pm

I’m not ready to start a new thread, but I’ll jazz things up here with a few recent pictures of my three youngest granddaughters and Penny, the spoiled pooch we acquired five weeks ago.


Another birthday picture of Haley. Molly recently started wearing glasses. Picture taken after 4 hours of Grandma School.

141msf59
Set 30, 2020, 3:02pm

Great review of Lost Children Archive, Donna. I loved the book, as well. If you post it, I will Thumb it!

I can't believe how grown up your granddaughters are. I can remember them as babies. I am sure they bring a lot of joy to your life.

142Donna828
Editado: Set 30, 2020, 3:18pm

Some pictures taken on the weekend visit from the Colorado Crew...


Molly (7) and Hope (6) doing sand art projects on the front porch.


Patient Penny getting some Hope Love.

143Donna828
Editado: Set 30, 2020, 3:16pm

>141 msf59: Thanks, Mark. My heart was overflowing with joy for my three youngest grands this past week, while missing the three oldest. We may have to take a day trip to KC when Sadie comes home from college for Thanksgiving.

ETA: Review posted.

144bell7
Set 30, 2020, 9:47pm

It's great to see how much you enjoyed your last couple of books, Donna, and I'm pleased as punch that my recommendation of Book Love was your graphic novel of the year, plus a great read for Haley.

Isn't Penny a sweetheart with your grandkids though? What great pictures!

145SandDune
Out 1, 2020, 4:58pm

Lovely pictures Donna!

146RebaRelishesReading
Out 1, 2020, 5:15pm

Loving your pictures. Aren't grandchildren a delight? and dogs too of course. Is Penny a greyhound?

I haven't read a graphic novel yet. I bought one on Kindle a while back and then I couldn't get the pages bigger than postage stamp size so couldn't read it.

147Caroline_McElwee
Out 2, 2020, 5:11am

Lovely to see the grandee's Donna

148lkernagh
Out 2, 2020, 7:34pm

>135 Donna828: - Sadly, I have not read any of Michael Crummey books... definitely something I need to rectify at some point.

>139 Donna828: - Lovely picture of a young book reader!

>140 Donna828: - The pooch looks very happy to be getting all the attention!

149BLBera
Out 4, 2020, 8:33am

What great pictures, Donna. I can't believe how big your granddaughters are getting. They were just babies yesterday! I really enjoyed Tung's Quiet Girl in a Noisy World; Book Love sounds like one I would love as well.

I am also a fan of Lost Children Archive.

150Donna828
Out 4, 2020, 8:59pm

>147 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks, Caroline. I enjoy sharing the pictures of the little loves of my life.

>148 lkernagh: Hi Lori, thanks for stopping by and commenting on the pictures. Penny can't seem to get enough attention!

>149 BLBera: We share similar reading tastes, Beth. I still count on your for recommendations even though I've been pretty quiet on your thread.

151Donna828
Editado: Out 4, 2020, 9:36pm



Book No. 81: A Room Full of Bones by Elly Griffiths. Library, 346 pp., 3.1 Stars.

"A human skull is a gift to an archaeologist, telling so much, free from the trappings of flesh. But it's also a person, as Ruth always tells her students, and three people, three real people who were born and died thousands of miles away, have ended up with their heads locked in the basement of a Norfolk museum. Why? How?"
(108)

Ruth was appalled to find over 50 boxes of bones in the basement of the family-owned museum where the curator had died. It seemed the patriarch had collected them when he was in Australia many years ago and started his collection. There has been a real effort to obtain the return the bones to their native country, an effort that has turned deadly.

This is the 4th offering in the Ruth Galloway Mystery series. It moved slowly for me, but I did enjoy seeing Kate as a toddler and the hint of a new love interest for Ruth. I liked that Judy, the female detective played a bigger role in this book, and that the Druid Cathbad is still an integral part of the series. I enjoy the quirky characters as much or more than solving the crimes.

152Donna828
Editado: Out 4, 2020, 9:39pm


>144 bell7: I was so happy to be able to share a book with Haley. I really must read the book she gave me for my birthday so we can talk about it. I was surprised to see The Little White Horse has such a high rating on LT. Haley has good taste in books. I think she has read most of Bruce Cameron's books about dogs. And, yes, Penny is very good with children; not so much with other dogs, though.

>145 SandDune: Thank you, Rhian.

>146 RebaRelishesReading: Penny runs like a greyhound but our vet says she is a Labrador Retriever/Boxer mix. We've owned both breeds in the past so maybe that's why she was the "chosen one" from the Humane Society. Actually, we were going for the quiet one. That place was bedlam! I'm not a big fan of graphic books, but if you ever do get the urge, I recommend Debbie Tung for a quick light read.

Oops, this message didn't get posted in the correct order. I think I need to hire a secretary!!

153RebaRelishesReading
Out 5, 2020, 11:40am

>152 Donna828: A lab/boxer mix sounds wonderful (I love both breeds). I thought she looked slim and sleek like a greyhound, especially in the photo with Hope hugging her. No matter the mix, she's lovely.

154Donna828
Out 5, 2020, 11:44am

Penny is lovely, Reba. I’m so glad we got her. She makes me want to stay home!

155arubabookwoman
Out 8, 2020, 1:09pm

I loved Utopia Avenue too! I lived in London in 1968-69 when and where the book was mostly set and it brought back many memories. Loved that real icons from then moved in and out of the story, and the descriptions of the music, and lyrics, and how they are created were great.

I’m another Joyce Carol Oates fan. I’ve read 15-20 of her books, but feel I’ve only scratched the surface of her works. Only about 2 I didn’t care for. Amazing writer.

I read The Innocents last month. As you said, riveting. My first Michael Crummey, but not my last.

And congratulations on Penny! We had to give up our dog when my husband began the transplant process, but our doctors have now given the okay for a new dog. Dante, our old dog, who was 17 at the time, went to live with our youngest son in NYC. When we said goodbye, I didn’t think I would see him again. Then, our youngest son got married in NYC last weekend, which we could only attend by Zoom. However, since we possess 2 beachfront condos (the rental til 10/31 and the condo we purchased), I suggested they come and stay in one for a sort of honeymoon. And they arrived yesterday, along with my youngest daughter who also lives in NYC. But as a bonus, they brought Dante who will turn 19 in a few months. He is almost blind, and a bit senile, but otherwise in v. Good health. We had previously decided it would be better for Dante that he remain with my son and d-I-l, but it was so good to see him. Once we are settled in our condo we will begin to look for a dog.

156Donna828
Out 8, 2020, 2:14pm

>155 arubabookwoman: It's so good to hear from you, Deborah. Oh my, I loved the story about Dante. I'm so glad you got to see him again and that he is well taken care of. That's an amazing age for a dog. I'm glad to hear that Joyce Carol Oates' books are so dependable. I've enjoyed the few that I've read...and I know there are many more out there just waiting for us!

157Donna828
Out 8, 2020, 2:36pm



Book No. 82: Long Bright River by Liz Moore. Library, 482 pp. 4 stars.

“I tried hard to ignore the low noise that thrummed throughout my day, some tolling, cautionary bell. I wouldn’t listen. I wanted everything to stay as it was. I was more afraid of the truth than the lie. The truth would change the circumstances of my life. The lie was static. The lie was peaceful. I was happy with the lie.”


Mickey is a bit of an unreliable narrator, but the truth she withholds from the reader is a little bit underwhelming. She is a single mother and a member of the Philadelphia Police Department in a rundown part of the city. Drugs and thugs have taken over and her younger sister Kacey has become a victim working the streets as a hooker to support her drug addiction. The girls were once very close growing up with a crotchety grandmother after their mother died of an overdose when they were very young. The book bounces back and forth between that time called Then and the present Now.

Mickey becomes worried when Kacey is not to be seen in any of her usual hangouts. There is an apparent serial killer of young women on the loose and Mickey becomes obsessive to the point of violating some of her codes of conduct as a policewoman in order to find her sister. This book started out slowly, but as the tension builds, it becomes more suspenseful, even though it was hard for me to believe that Mickey could be so gullible in her suspicions about the perpetrator. Still, it was a good read and I will look into some of Liz Moore's previous books.

158PaulCranswick
Out 8, 2020, 2:55pm

>155 arubabookwoman: I have only read a couple of the zillion or so books by JCO but I liked what I did read and have about half a dozen more on the shelves to go at.

159Donna828
Editado: Out 8, 2020, 3:06pm



Book No. 83: If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin. Libby Audio, 197 pp., 4.1 stars.

I finished listening to this story about a young black couple in Harlem a few days ago and it is still in my head. Tish and Fonny grew up together and it seemed to surprise both of them when they fell in love. They have a baby on the way when Fonny is arrested for a rape he didn't commit. This was set back in the 1970s, but some things don't change. It's a love story full of despair told in simple language that conveys the dilemma of being wrongly incarcerated but not having the resources to fight the system.

It didn't have quite the punch of Go Tell It on the Mountain or Giovanni's Room, but it is Baldwin and is a good book.

160Donna828
Out 8, 2020, 3:08pm

>158 PaulCranswick: You sneaked in there, Paul. I own a few unread books by JCO and should pull them down to read. Right now I'm trying to keep up with a flood of library books.

161Caroline_McElwee
Out 8, 2020, 3:34pm

>159 Donna828: It's years since I read it Donna. There was quite a good film version a couple of years ago. Big Baldwin fan here.

162Whisper1
Out 8, 2020, 11:13pm

Hi Donna! I've been MIA from our group, but vow to be more active. I miss so many of my friends, including you!

I very much want to read the Larson's book regarding Churchill. The line is long for library acquisition. I may have to buy it. Your review is great!
I also read American Dirt and found it very stimulating.

>139 Donna828: Can it be that Hayley has grown up? I remember your posts when she was a wee little girl and how she reminded me of a particular high-end doll hand made by a German artist who is known for her details.

I hope all is well with you.

All good wishes

163thornton37814
Out 10, 2020, 8:56am

The Innocents came up in the top two or three books on my list of library books to read in the order in which we received them when I got ready to check some out for the weekend, so guess what I'm reading now. I'm not far into it, but I'm loving the writing. What a story so far!

164Donna828
Out 12, 2020, 4:48pm

>161 Caroline_McElwee: Agreed, Caroline. One can't go wrong with Baldwin.

>162 Whisper1: I remember you commenting on the German dolls, Linda. Haley turned 10 last month but she seems older because of her height and maturity (some of the time). Haha. She's usually pretty serious but does have her fun side as well.

I highly recommend The Splendid and the Vile. I was surprised at how much I liked American Dirt after all the negativity about the author. I thought she did a good job despite not being Hispanic.

It's so good to see you posting again.

>163 thornton37814: I'll check in with you to see if The Innocents held your attention, Lori. I'm guessing a resounding Yes!

165Donna828
Editado: Out 13, 2020, 10:38pm



Book No. 84: The Book of Lost Friends by Lisa Wingate. Library, 389 pp., 3.5 stars.

"'You just a little fancy girl. What do you know about the things in them papers? About how it is for me and my kind? How it is to yearn after your people and never know, are they alive, are they dead? You ever going to find them again in this world?' She can't see that the squares on the paper are like the holding pens in a trader's yard. Every one, a story. Every one, a person, sold from here to there."
(188)

I read an earlier book by Lisa Wingate a decade or so ago and thought it was a little on the light side. A friend recommended this book to me because we were both teachers, and one of the parallel stories is about a struggling teacher in Louisiana in the 1980s. She found a meaningful way to connect with her struggling students which I applauded. The other story was set a century earlier in the same area about a black woman trying to find her many brothers and sisters who had been separated from her by slavery. Nothing light about that!

I learned about the Methodist newspaper that published stories about the families fractured by the inhumanity of the slave trade. The best parts of the book were the copies of the heartbreaking letters written by family members looking for mothers, fathers, siblings, and children who had been wrongfully sold. I appreciated the knowledge but the maudlin writing and rushed ending kept me from giving this book a higher rating.

166Copperskye
Out 13, 2020, 10:36am

Great photos, Donna! How can Hope possibly be 6 already!

Did you know Peter Geye has a new book out? I know you're a fan. Northernmost: A novel. I just picked up a copy at the library (or they dropped it off in my car) and I hope to get to it eventually (checkouts are 5 weeks now).

167lkernagh
Out 13, 2020, 12:03pm

>165 Donna828: -Oh, the ebook for that one was on sale this weekend. Kind of glad I did not buy, although I have to admit it was more because I have learned that I have enough ebooks unread on my ereader to keep me going. ;-)

168BLBera
Out 17, 2020, 11:22am

>150 Donna828: I can echo what you said, Donna. I get a lot of recommendations from your thread. I visit frequently, even though I don't post as much. Retirement is sounding better and better.

169msf59
Out 17, 2020, 7:10pm

Happy Saturday, Donna. You didn't love Long Bright River as much as I did but I will gladly take 4 stars.

170Donna828
Out 18, 2020, 8:03pm

>166 Copperskye: Thank you for that heads up, Joanne. The new Peter Geye is in hold for me. I will be the first to read it once it gets out of processing. I looked it up and am thrilled that at least part of it is set in Norway. My grandparents were born there. And Hope turning 6...7 next month...just doesn't seem possible. I miss having a baby around to cuddle. Maybe that's why we got Penny. She is my cuddlebug these cooler days!

>167 lkernagh: Ah, those ebooks, Lori. I have so many of them to read. I may make it one of my mini-goals next year to read one a month. I can't seem to resist those shiny new library books!

>168 BLBera: It's good to know that you are lurking here occasionally, Beth. I find that I don't have much to say these days with the somewhat restricted life I'm living. No book group, no card playing, no lunches with friends. Woe is me! I'm glad we have our Penny to add some zest to our lives these days.

>169 msf59: I think the blahs I'm suffering have affected my reading, Mark. Maybe I should take up bird watching? I would like that if I could take Penny with me, but she would scare the birds away for sure.

171Donna828
Editado: Out 18, 2020, 8:13pm



Book No. 85: The Bird Artist by Howard Norman. My copy, 289 pp., 4 stars.

"My name is Fabian Vas. I live in Witless Bay, Newfoundland. You would not have heard of me. Obscurity is not necessarily failure, though; I am a bird artist, and have more or less made a living at it. Yet I murdered the lighthouse keeper, Botho August, and that is an equal part of how I think of myself."
Pg. 3.

Well, there you have a book summary in the first paragraph. I don't mind knowing what is going to happen so I can concentrate on how we get there. I don't think I've ever read a cheerful book set in Newfoundland, and this one is no exception. Strange and holding little hope, this is one of the darkest books ever. I liked it!

172EBT1002
Out 18, 2020, 11:03pm

It's great to see pics of Penny! What a cutie! And it seems that she is good with the kids (and they with her). I'm glad you got to the place where inviting and allowing another dog into your family and your hearts made sense. It does take time. I wasn't sure we'd ever get there after we lost Abby but time does do its thing.

>171 Donna828: Oh, I'm happy to be reminded of this one. I think I put it on my wish list a while back.... It sounds like something I would enjoy.

I loved Weather but your comments seem pretty spot on, as well. And I think Michael Crummey is an amazing writer.

Have a good week, Donna!!

173Donna828
Out 23, 2020, 9:54pm

>172 EBT1002: It’s good to hear from you, Ellen. Penny is very tolerant of children but I think she prefers adults. She’s not liking the neighborhood dogs that we meet on walks but is warming up to my granddog Maverick when he comes over. It’s hard to socialize a rescue dog during the days of social distancing. I’m glad we both like Crummey as an author. I wish he had a different last name, though. ;-)

174Donna828
Editado: Out 31, 2020, 10:03pm

Well darn, I've had two disappointing books in a row. Maybe this is what a book funk feels like?



Book No. 86: My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrick Backman, narrated by Joan Walker. Libby Audio, 400 pp., 3 stars.

While I loved the relationship between the precocious Elsa and her eccentric grandmother, I couldn't get into the fairy tale aspect of the book which had a major role. I've read and enjoyed Backman's Beartown books and loved A Man Called Ove, but could not connect with the secret language and The Land of Almost Awake. I'm sorry, Elsa, but this grandmother thought you were a little too psychotic for her tastes.

ETA: Touchy touchstones!
ETA: Oops, what a difference one word makes...I was typing in "Told" rather than "Asked"...duh.

175Donna828
Editado: Out 24, 2020, 11:52am



Book No. 87: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Library, 301 pp., 3 stars.

"The house loomed over them like a great, quiet gargoyle. It might have been foreboding, evoking images of ghosts and haunted places, if it had not seemed so tired, slats missing from a couple of shutters, the ebony porch groaning as they made their way up the steps..."
20, 21

I try to read a Halloweenish book this time of year and thought this one would be a good choice. It had possibilities as Noemi leaves her party-girl lifestyle in Mexico City to check in on her newly married cousin after receiving a disturbing letter from her. It had me in its thrall with the descriptions of the house and its secretive inhabitants until about halfway through the book, when things started getting weird. I think I was supposed to be terrified, but I was more bored than anything as I realized this book had more atmosphere than substance.

176tloeffler
Out 24, 2020, 2:53pm

Donna (and anyone else who might be interested), Sandy & I chatted the other day, and we plan to do Joplin like usual. The Changing Hands book store isn't usually crowded (not in the morning at least), and the Red Onion is open (and I'm sure they are following guidelines). If interested, it will be Tuesday December 1!

I'll pass it along to Stasia too!

177BLBera
Out 24, 2020, 5:28pm

<175 Darn. I thought that one sounded good.

178karenmarie
Out 25, 2020, 4:49pm

Hi Donna!

>171 Donna828: It’s on my shelves tagged 2020 read, so we’ll see if it ‘clicks’ any time soon. I’m glad you liked it.

179thornton37814
Out 25, 2020, 6:47pm

>175 Donna828: That one had good advance praise, and it is on backorder for the library. Your review makes me think it won't be a big deal if it ends up being cancelled.

180Storeetllr
Out 25, 2020, 7:16pm

Hi, Donna! Wow, talk about kids growing fast! I love the pics you posted up above of your grands, but I was startled at how big they all are! I mean, I remember when Hope was born. Doesn't seem that long ago at all! So glad the Colorado crew came to visit, even if they couldn't stay long as you'd wish. How long had it been since you saw them?

181vivians
Out 26, 2020, 11:17am

>174 Donna828: Hi Donna! I recently finished the newest Frederick Backman and was sorely disappointed as well. I think that will be my last attempt - too many others on my list!

182RebaRelishesReading
Out 26, 2020, 11:25am

>174 Donna828: Hi Donna. That's the only Backman I haven't liked.

>181 vivians: Darn, I was hoping the new one would measure up too some of his that I loved like A Man Called Ove, Us Against You and Beartown.

183Donna828
Editado: Out 27, 2020, 9:19pm

>176 tloeffler: Hi Terri, I miss your presence on LT. Thank goodness I can keep up with you a little on Facebook. I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to skip Joplin this year. I have been so careful with where I go and what I do so that I can remain healthy to spend time with my grandkids whenever I can. We haven't traveled or eaten in a restaurant since Covid started! I only keep up with Nancy and other friends in outdoor settings. I will probably kick myself when I see your smiling faces at the meetup. I'm already looking forward to 2021.

>177 BLBera: Me too, Beth. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for a gothic book at this time. I lost interest when the climax was such a letdown. More silly than supernatural.

>178 karenmarie: It wasn't a perfect book, Karen, but I do love a dark story set in Newfoundland. I'm glad I read it.

184Donna828
Out 27, 2020, 9:15pm

>179 thornton37814: Upon more thought, Lori, I think my biggest disappointment was the title. I was expecting a more Latino-type book, but the "haunted" house was a replica of an English manor house rather than a hacienda. It just didn't live up to the hype in my opinion.

>180 Storeetllr: I know, Mary, children grow up way too quickly, including your sweet Ruby. Enjoy the toddler years while you can. She'll be into make-up soon. ;-)
Hope and family were here at Christmas for a week. We intended to go to Colorado last summer...but, you know, Covid instead. So Mike decided to make the trek back here and we're so glad he did. We will head west as soon as we get vaccinated but who knows when that will be?!?

>181 vivians: Hi there, Vivian. Dang, I was hoping Grandmother/Sorry was an anomaly. I had high hopes for Anxious People because that describes my state of mind these days. Like you say, there are many other books out there. I came here to write about a new favorite!

>182 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, I've liked Backman's other books, too. I really really wanted to like this one because I'm a Grandma with a 7-year-old granddaughter (almost two because Hope turns 7 next month), but they were just too far out there for me to relate. Oh well...

185Donna828
Editado: Out 31, 2020, 9:48pm



Book No. 88: Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy. Library, 256 pp., 4.9 stars.

"The Arctic tern has the longest migration of any animal. It flies from the Arctic all the way to the Antarctic, and then back again within a year. This is an extraordinarily long flight for a bird its size. And because the terns live to be thirty or so, the distance they will travel over the course of their lives is the equivalent of flying to the moon and back three times."
(22)

Wow! I finally read a (rounded up) 5-Star book! My sister-in-law loved this book and I trust her judgment, so gave it a go. It held my attention from beginning to end with its lyrical writing and the mesmerizing story about emotionally damaged Franny Stone Lynch and her obsession to follow the Arctic Terns on their last migration. The book is set somewhere in the near future when wildlife is disappearing from earth, an elegy to the possibility of a world without animals.

I absolutely adore books with nature themes. This one had the bonus of a very interesting protagonist whose backstory is slowly revealed through her search for her mother, letters to her husband, and the adventure she undertakes as she joins a fishing vessel and its misfit crew on the Atlantic Ocean. It starts in Greenland and goes all the way to Antarctica with flashback sidetrips to Ireland, Australia, England, and Newfoundland. Franny has a very mysterious and complicated past and also has a death wish: "It's not life I'm tired of, with its astonishing ocean currents and layers of ice and all the delicate feathers that make up a wing. It's myself." Do yourself a favor and read this amazing debut novel.

186thornton37814
Out 31, 2020, 11:15am

>185 Donna828: I'm looking forward to reading that one when I get around to it.

187Donna828
Out 31, 2020, 8:15pm

>186 thornton37814: It was compelling, Lori. One of my favorites of the year. Hope you love it!

188Donna828
Editado: Out 31, 2020, 10:15pm

And I just finished another favorite...I'm on a roll!



Book No. 89: Northernmost by Peter Geye. Library, 333 pp., 4.3 stars.

"I realized why men lined up to risk their lives to get there. It had nothing to do with fame or fortune...only with how this journey tugged at my spirit...so long as the answers came from the midnight sun or an Arctic summer storm, they would be mine to call wisdom."
(103)

This was another novel to read in front of a roaring fire while sipping hot chocolate. Even the covers of the last two books I read are similar. I loved that Northernmost was set in Norway as I grew up hearing stories about this beautiful country from my grandparents. They were from Bergen, Norway, which is a far cry from the harsh elements in the Arctic Circle where Odd Einar Eide struggled for his life after his partner was killed and eaten by a polar bear leaving only a pair of boots and a knife which helped save Odd's life. These sections of the book would have been enough for me because they were so rich in the details of the inner workings of a man's mind as he faces a cold and brutal death. Odd had never questioned his belief in God until now when the eternal snow both hydrated and sheltered him becoming his new source of salvation.

That is a small part of the 19th century part of the book. It alternates with the more contemporary story about Odd's (many greats) grandaughter Gretchen who was having her own struggles with her deteriorating marriage. This part was interesting but didn't thrill me as it seemed shallow compared to the enduring love between Odd and his beloved Inger. In a way, though, it was a relief to have a break from the compelling life and death story that took place a century earlier.

I've read and admired Geye's other three books, two of which were stories of Eide ancestors in Minnesota. I highly recommend all of them for stories of family and overcoming struggles. Although Geyes' books are built around the Eide family, they can be read and enjoyed independently.

189Whisper1
Out 31, 2020, 11:07pm

>174 Donna828: Hi Donna. I agree with your feelings regarding My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry. I tried to read this book twice. Finally, I gave it to the local library.

Migrations and Northernmost both sound fascinating. I'll see if my local library has these. I've done it again this year, only I think I surpassed last year's amount of books that came in the house, vs those that left. I've purchased a lot of books this year -- something I vowed not to do! Between Thriftbooks, and Bookoutlet.com, the mailman is dropping off books almost daily. My dog Lilly doesn't even bark anymore when she hears him put a package near the front door.

Congratulations on reading 89 books thus far this year.

190msf59
Nov 1, 2020, 8:41am

Happy Sunday, Donna. Your current reads, always put a smile on my face. I also really enjoyed The Bird Artist and I also loved Migrations. So glad to see it garner nearly 5 stars from you. Hooray! I much preferred this one over The New Wilderness.

I really like Peter Geye, I met him at one of the Booktopias and look forward to reading his latest.

191Donna828
Nov 1, 2020, 3:23pm

>189 Whisper1: Thanks, Linda. It looks like I will reach both my goals this year without any problem: 100 books, 30,000 pages.

I have yet another book waiting for me that looks really good. Maybe I should go for 3-in-a-row? The new one is called The Bell in the Lake and is also set in Norway.

>190 msf59: Happy Sunday, Mark. I'm watching The Chiefs win their game quite handily so I have a smile on my face as well. I'm pretty sure you will like the latest Peter Geye. I had some trouble with the strange Norwegian names. Even though it is my heritage, I'm less than knowledgeable about pronunciations.
The New Wilderness didn't call to me despite its nomination for the Booker Prize. I'm glad I gave it a pass after your comment about preferring Migrations.

192Storeetllr
Nov 1, 2020, 3:37pm

Hi, Donna! Happy November!

>188 Donna828: That book cover makes me shiver. I prefer to read books set in cold climates in the summer. They're like psychological air conditioning. :)

193Copperskye
Nov 2, 2020, 2:02am

>188 Donna828: I’m glad Geye’s latest was a hit for you, Donna! And I noticed Nancy loved it, too!

>185 Donna828: And I definitely need to add Migrations to my list!

194thornton37814
Nov 2, 2020, 8:28am

>188 Donna828: I suspect I'd like that more if they would leave the modern story out. I've gotten to the point I dread picking up books told in two time frames even when they are well-reviewed. I generally don't enjoy the modern story and find it disruptive to the narrative. It seems an unnecessary way to lengthen a story.

195Carmenere
Nov 2, 2020, 9:51am

Happy November, Donna! I'm paying you a long overdue visit. Hope all is well with you and yours!

196PaulCranswick
Nov 8, 2020, 2:25am

>191 Donna828: Yeah, I'm not finding Cook's book an easy read either, Donna.

Have a lovely Sunday.

197Crazymamie
Nov 9, 2020, 12:10pm

Donna, you have been doing some great reading! I loved The Bird Artist, and the Ruth Galloway books are like candy to me. This year I reread through all the previous books in that series and then caught up with it by reading the latest two. Now I have to wait for the next one.

I have Mexican Gothic in the stacks and Long Bright River and Migrations on The List already, but you hit me with the Peter Geye trilogy. Great reviews, as always - I had fun reading through them.

Hooray for your Penny - she is full of gorgeous, and I loved all the photos of her and of your lovely grandchildren. I am happy for you in your newest dog adventures. We had to say goodbye to our sweet Bella in August, and life has been very different with no dogs in the household. I miss the sound of her nails on the hardwood - we are still adjusting.

Hoping this week is kind to you.

198Donna828
Nov 11, 2020, 11:21am

>192 Storeetllr: It hasn't gotten cold here yet, Mary, so I'm okay with reading books set in the north country. I do know what you mean about psychological weathering. I will be looking for some Hot Reads this winter for sure.

>193 Copperskye: Please do read Migrations, Joanne. I think it might be right up your alley.

>194 thornton37814: Lori, the older I get, the more I appreciate a good straighforward story. I will continue to read contemporary books but will also go to my shelves more frequently to read the 'oldies but goodies'.

199Donna828
Nov 11, 2020, 11:30am

>195 Carmenere: It's so good to see you here, Lynda. We are doing well despite the Covid and Election fatigue. I am ready to start a new year!

>196 PaulCranswick: Thank you, Paul. One more reason not to read The New Wilderness.

>197 Crazymamie: I'm so glad you're posting around the threads, Mamie. You've been missed around here.

Hooray for book bullets and shared books. It's comforting to know we will never run out of good books to read. I like that you reread the Ruth Galloway books. When I reread it's like visiting an old friend.

So sorry to hear about your Bella. It took us two years to get a new dog. You will know when the time is right.

200Donna828
Nov 11, 2020, 11:55am



Book No. 90: All the King's Men by Robert Penn Warren. My book, 473 pp., 4.3 stars.

"I heard the speech. But they don't give a damn about that. Hell, make 'em cry, or make 'em laugh, make 'em think you're their weak and erring pal, or make 'em think you're God almighty. Or make 'em mad. Even mad at you. Just stir 'em up, it doesn't matter how or why, and they'll love you and come back for more. Pinch 'em in the soft place."
(78)

Such is Jack Burden's advice to Willie Stark on how to get the vote in Louisiana politics in the 1930s. This book has been touted as one of the most important political novels of our time and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1947. It describes the rise and fall of Governor Willie Stark (based on Governor Huey Long of Louisiana) through the eyes of his right-hand-man Jack Burden. Jack was a newspaper reporter who helped Stark in his rise to power but didn't seem to have ambitions or an agenda for himself.

Jack was more of an observer and thinker who looked at everything in minute detail. I enjoyed being privy to his internal mind games but others might not have the patience to read through his lengthy descriptions of events and places. The book is set mostly in the 30s and 40s, a time when blacks were denigrated in the south which will offend many enlightened readers. Despite its flaws, it was an excellent read about the dilemma between idealism and corruption that is still evident in politics today.

201RebaRelishesReading
Nov 11, 2020, 2:23pm

Ah yes, All the King's Men -- great book!

202Crazymamie
Nov 12, 2020, 12:36pm

>200 Donna828: Great review, Donna. I will add my thumb if you posted that. I started reading it back in August, but put it aside when life got crazy. I need to get back to it because I did like the writing.

Thank you for your kind words in >199 Donna828:. Much appreciated.

203Donna828
Editado: Nov 14, 2020, 2:10pm

>201 RebaRelishesReading: It was indeed a great book, Reba. It took my whole life and one year before I read it. Haha. We're both a little dated but got along well. Haha.

>202 Crazymamie: Life is still crazy but I hope you pick up All the King's Men again, Mamie. Warren was a prolific poet and the beautiful phrasing comes through in his prose as well. I'm so glad I read it.

ETA: Thanks for the virtual thumb. That will have to do as I had nothing to add to the over 100 reviews on King's Men. I did, however, post a review on The Bell in the Lake because it needs some publicity.

204Donna828
Nov 14, 2020, 1:58pm

The Book gods are smiling on me. I just finished my fourth contender in a row for my Top Ten Books of the Year. I am a Happy Reader these days.



Book No. 91: The Bell in the Lake by Lars Mytting, translated by Deborah Dawkin. Library, 391 pp., 5 Sensational Stars. *****

"Then it came into view. The stave church. Standing free in the landscape. Dignified, ancient. Black-brown like a forest bear, intricate as a queen's crown, stubborn as a pilgrim. Waiting in some way, like a castle whose monarch was away on a never-ending journey."
(78)



This is a picture snagged from the internet of a stave church. The lake and graveyard are featured in the book so I chose this one as an example. The book itself did not contain any pictures so I did some research on my own. Stave churches are fascinating and they are disappearing from Norway as they are replaced by more modern structures. In the book, the Butangen, Norway stave church was being meticulously taken apart and moved to Dresden, Germany. It was riveting to read about the process. The novel's church was described as having "ornate carvings, dragon heads and a proud spire...the carpenters worked very hard to please all the gods just in case Odin and Thor were still active"

The story was intricate and enthralling. I won't go into great detail on the plot because I want you to experience it for yourself. It is set in the late 1800s and features a romantic triangle between Astrid and the German architect sent to the village to supervise the move and the pastor of the church. The 'sister' bells donated by Astrid's family 700 years earlier add a mystical aspect to the legend. I didn't want this novel to end and was happy to learn that it is supposedly the first in a trilogy. I just can't seem to get enough Norwegian history and folklore so I am eagerly anticipating the rest of the story.

205FAMeulstee
Nov 14, 2020, 6:18pm

>204 Donna828: Great, Donna, so many good books in a row.
I have two books by Lars Mytting on mount TBR, this one and The Sixteen Trees of the Somme. After your review I will move The Bell in the Lake towards the top.

206vivians
Nov 16, 2020, 10:07am

>204 Donna828: I love your enthusiasm for this book, Donna. It sounds right up my alley, so onto the TBR it goes, thanks!

207Crazymamie
Nov 16, 2020, 10:23am

>204 Donna828: Another direct hit, Donna. Excellent review.

208Caroline_McElwee
Editado: Nov 16, 2020, 2:39pm

>204 Donna828: I really enjoyed this novel too Donna. Looking forward to the rest of the trilogy.

209Donna828
Nov 17, 2020, 3:15pm

>205 FAMeulstee: I've read good things about The Sixteen Trees of the Somme, Anita. Unfortunately, our library doesn't have it. I hope you like the Bell book as much as I did.

>206 vivians: I hope I didn't oversell The Bell in the Lake, Vivian. I think I like most books I've read that have been set in Norway. It's a genetic thing. ;-)

>207 Crazymamie: Gotcha, Mamie!

>208 Caroline_McElwee: Caroline, I didn't know there was going to be a continued story until after I finished the book. I am so happy that I have more good reading to look forward to.

210Donna828
Nov 17, 2020, 4:41pm



Book No. 92: Mercy Falls by William Kent Krueger. My book, 344 pp., 3.2 stars.

"The road to the overlook at Mercy Falls wound through dripping forests that, in the dark morning hours, seemed primordial and menacing...Nearby, heard but unseen, Mercy Creek gushed through a narrows in slate-gray bedrock before tumbling one hundred feet into a small pool. The falls overlook was a favorite place for sightseers during the day, but at night it was a popular spot for couples to do what couples in parked cars had always done in dark, beautiful places."
(60)

Cork is back in his old job as sheriff in Aurora, Minnesota once again. He's off to a bad start, though, when he is targeted for death by an unknown assailant. It makes the investigation of a mutilated wealthy Chicago businessman more challenging, especially when Cork becomes alarmed about his family's safety. There is plenty of action as usual in this book but I am getting tired of the innuendoes about troubles in the O'Connor's marriage. It seems that the brother of the murdered Chicago man was Jo's true love in college and the hot female PI called in on the case has the hots for Cork. That was bad enough, but the book ends on a real cliffhanger... Thank goodness I have the next book in the series so I didn't have to wait long to have the story continued.

211Donna828
Nov 17, 2020, 4:59pm



Book No. 93: Copper River by William Kent Krueger. My book, 309 pp., 3.8 stars.

"Bodine, Michigan, was the end of the line. It lay near the terminus of thirty miles of poorly maintained county road that ran northwest out of Marquette along the shore of Lake Superior. It was "Anatomy of a Murder" territory, a place that despite its beauty was probably best filmed in black and white."
(17)

Oh my, one of my favorite series takes place in God's country where my roots run deep. I loved when the action was in Marquette where I attended high school for two years, a long time in the life of an Army brat, and where we spent most of our summer vacations visiting family. In this book, Cork O'Connor is in hiding in a backwoods cabin and unsurprisingly gets caught up in a new adventure. He's injured and being tracked by a hit man so he is trying to stay undercover while trying to figure out who is stalking homeless teenage girls. I'll be happy when Cork gets back with his family in Minnesota, but this detour made me ecstatic!

212mdoris
Nov 18, 2020, 7:46pm

>204 Donna828: Donna you got me with this one!

213streamsong
Nov 20, 2020, 3:57pm

Hi Donna! I've added both Migrations and Northernmost to my library book hold list. And oh, I'd love to add The Bell in the Lake to the list, too, but I am sooooo far behind.

Because my library system doesn't let you add 'hold lists', I request a hold and then suspend them. That way I won't forget to add them to my account, but don't have the pressure of having to return unread books - which I HATE. I currently have 10 checked out .....

Your thread is always dangerous for me!

I just reviewed Book Love. I enjoyed it, but didn't laugh out loud like I thought I would. I *did* recognize myself on almost every page - which is why it seemed less funny to me. I love that Haley loved it. How cool is that that you and your lovely gd are sharing books!

Happy happy Thanksgiving! Will you be sharing it with family?

214Carmenere
Nov 26, 2020, 7:20am

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, Donna!

215PaulCranswick
Nov 26, 2020, 10:08pm



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

216Donna828
Nov 27, 2020, 8:17pm

>212 mdoris: Hope you enjoy it, Mary!

>213 streamsong: Hi Janet. I use the same feature for my longish list of books on hold. I feel pressured when they all come in at the same time. Book Love made me smile in recognition. I love having a little bookworm in the family! We went over to my son's house yesterday for a few hours. We ate inside but then headed out with the dogs and Haley and Molly. It was a fun day.

>214 Carmenere: Thank you, Linda. I hope your day wasn't too sad.

>215 PaulCranswick: This is a great group, Paul. Thanks to you for visiting my thread regularly even when I'm absent.

217Donna828
Editado: Dez 11, 2020, 3:56pm



Book No. 94: Kindred by Octavia Butler; narrated by Kim Staunton. Libby Audio, 264 pp., 3.5 stars.

I'm not drawn to books about time travel, but I've been curious about this one for a long time, so when it came up on Libby, I grabbed it. I enjoyed the historical aspects of it and appreciated the cleverness of having a modern day protagonist being launched back into the days of slavery over and over again to protect one of her white ancestors. But, that idea got old quickly.

Once the novelty wore off, I started losing interest. I've read so much about the horrors of slavery that not much surprises me anymore. The characters were flat except for Rufus, the white boy who needed Dana in order to survive. He sure got in a bunch of trouble! Dana was at the mercy of the supernatural shifts in time. The time her husband was with her added a little interest in a bizarre way. I found it disturbing that Dana and the people around her weren't more disturbed by the frequent comings and goings. Not a bad book, and I can see it's appeal when it was published in the 1970s, especially since Ms. Butler was a pioneer for black women authors of speculative fiction.

218Donna828
Nov 27, 2020, 9:18pm



Book No. 95: Jack by Marilynne Robinson. Library, 309 pp., 4.3 stars.

"Feelings ought to be part of a tissue, a fabric. An emotion shouldn't be an isolated thing like a sucker punch. There should be other satisfactions in life, to maintain perspective, proportion. Things to look forward to, for example, so one casual encounter in a cemetery wouldn't feel like the Day of Judgment."
(16)

Marilynne Robinson is a favorite author of mine. I love the way she uses words so that I want to stop and examine her profound thoughts. It took me awhile to read this for that very reason, and still I know that I won't be able to do the book justice because I am still pondering it. Jack and Della met in Bellafontaine Cemetery in St. Louis after they got locked in for the night. Awkward. Jack is there because he could make a few bucks renting out his room in the boarding house. Della is there to find inspiration for a poem she was composing. He's white, she's black. He's been a drifter except for the time he spent in jail. She is an educated English teacher from a prominent Memphis family. The only thing they have in common besides their love of poetry is that they're both preacher's kids.

So what's the attraction? Hard to say. Just know they had a growing connection during the long night. I think Della admired Jack because she saw into his soul: "I think most people feel a difference between their real lives and the lives they have in the world. But they ignore their souls, or hide them, so they can keep things together, keep an ordinary life together. You don't do that. In your own way, you're kind of -- pure." (73)

I liked how Della quietly brought grace into Jack's life. Even he changed his opinion about his life as a bum: "It surprised Jack to realize that, in some part of his mind, he aspired to being an impeccable white gentleman. On the one hand, there was jail and destitution and a slightly battered face, and on the other, there were neckties and polished shoes and a number of lines of Milton." (186)

Jack has appeared in the other novels in the Gilead quartet, but he was always sort of an enigma for me. I'm glad I got to know him better in this welcome precursor to Home. I think it's time for a reread of that one.

219thornton37814
Nov 27, 2020, 11:24pm

>218 Donna828: Glad to hear this one is good. It's on my reading list for 2021.

220Caroline_McElwee
Nov 28, 2020, 10:39am

>217 Donna828: I liked this more than you Donna, but it did have some flaws. However, i certainly want to read more f her work.

>218 Donna828: Always a pleasure to get a new Marilynne Robinson novel.

221RebaRelishesReading
Nov 28, 2020, 12:57pm

>218 Donna828: Another one for the wish list! I have loved Robinson's other books so expect I'll like this one too...if I ever have time and concentration to read again :(

222BLBera
Nov 29, 2020, 8:22am

You have been doing some great reading, Donna. The Bell in the Lake sounds good. I hadn't heard about this book before. Onto the list it goes.

I also enjoy the Cork O'Connor series; I need to catch up. I think Copper River was the last one I read.

223Donna828
Editado: Dez 1, 2020, 6:16pm



Book No. 96: Home by Marilynne Robinson. Mine, 325 pp., 4.5 stars.

“All bread is the bread of heaven, her father used to say. It expresses the will of God to sustain us in this flesh, in this life. Weary or bitter or bewildered as we may be, God is faithful. He lets us wander so we will know what it means to come home.”


I did something on my second reading of this book that I don't normally do. I underlined meaningful passages. The above quote had to do with the subject of Home so it was the chosen one, but it could have been almost anything from this lyrical and thought provoking book. I'm glad I read it immediately after finishing Jack. It made the character of Jack Boughton more understandable. The book blurb compared it to the Prodigal Son story; however, there was no fatted calf killed for Jack's return to Gilead, Iowa after a 20-year absence. It was more like...let's hold our breath and hope nothing too bad happens.

For a black-sheep kind of character who brought sorrow upon his large family headed by a Presbyterian Minister, I liked Jack more the second time around. In my first review I mentioned that it took me awhile to get into the book. After reading Jack (the new novel), I engaged in the story set ten years in the future (1950s) immediately. This was in my Top Ten for 2008 despite only giving it 4 stars. From my Review: "There are so many lessons in this book that I look forward to reading it again someday. This book definitely speaks to the heart and may very well be the saddest book I have ever read." I still agree with that last statement. So sad yet so soul-satisfying. I bumped my rating up half a star, and if I read it again, it may get the Full Five treatment. As much as I like Jack, I absolutely love his youngest sister Glory. I fervently hope the amazing Marilynne Robinson writes her next Gilead novel about Glory.

ETA: Touchstones fixed!

224Donna828
Dez 1, 2020, 4:31pm

>219 thornton37814: That's great, Lori. And if you haven't read Home, it's a wonderful companion book.

>220 Caroline_McElwee: I expected to like it more than I did, Caroline. Perhaps if I had read the print version? I think I will try to read her "Parable" books next. I tend to like dystopian novels, especially in these strange times.

>221 RebaRelishesReading: It's not a mood-brightener or an easy read, Reba. Best to get settled into your new abode and read it when you have plenty of time to ponder the beauty of the prose and wistfulness of the story.

>222 BLBera: Oh good. I hope you love it as much as I did, Beth. I'll get back to Cork O'Connor sometime next year. It's fun to read books set in your locale, isn't it?

225msf59
Dez 1, 2020, 6:48pm

>218 Donna828: Great review of Jack, Donna. I am also a big fan of Robinson. I am hoping I can bookhorn it in by year's end.

>219 thornton37814: Another terrific review and a reminder, how much I want to do a reread of the Gilead series.

226Donna828
Editado: Dez 3, 2020, 8:14pm

>225 msf59: Thank you, Mark. It's a short book but packs a big punch. Rereading Home in conjunction with Jack worked well for me. Lila and Gilead will have to wait until next year. A lot of people don't like to return to a book a second time, but rereading is almost always fruitful for me.

227Donna828
Editado: Dez 11, 2020, 4:00pm



Book No. 97: The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donaghue. Library, 295 pp., 3.6 stars.

"...Influenza delle stelle--the influence of the stars. Medieval Italians thought the illness proved that the heavens were governing their fates, that people were quite literally star-crossed." (147)


This book reminded me of a "Call the Midwife" episode filmed in Dublin. Three days in a tiny room with only 3 beds for pregnant women suffering from the Spanish Flu in 1918...very atmospheric...and not for the squeamish. Lots of blood and other body fluids associated with childbirth and a viral illness. I wasn't too bothered by it except for the claustrophobic feeling of being in such close quarters with so much going on. It wasn't quite what I was expecting and I'm not wholeheartedly recommending it unless you have a special interest in medical topics.

228ronincats
Dez 3, 2020, 9:34pm

>152 Donna828: The Little White Horse was my favorite book ever when I was a middle-schooler, and I still enjoy revisiting it, so, yes, please read it for Haley soon.

I remember when all three of those girls were born!

229Donna828
Dez 3, 2020, 9:58pm

>228 ronincats: Good to know, Roni. I plan to read it before the end of the year. Maybe I'll pass it along to one of the other grandchildren.

230PaulCranswick
Dez 5, 2020, 6:50am

>223 Donna828: I do get the feeling that Robinson is one of the few modern authors, Donna, who it is worth reading with a pencil and ruler!

Have a lovely weekend.

231Donna828
Dez 7, 2020, 10:41am

>230 PaulCranswick: You nailed it, Paul. Marilynne Robinson demands that one reads very closely. The weekend was good. Did a little Christmas decorating. It was exhilerating being outside cutting some cedar branches for my porch basket. I even read a book!

232Donna828
Dez 7, 2020, 10:51am



Book No. 98: The Christmas Train by David Baldacci. Library, 260 pp., 3.2 stars.

"Over almost three thousand miles of America, he was going to see if he could find himself. He was doing it during the Christmas season because that was supposed to be a time of renewal and, for him perhaps, a last chance to clean up whatever mess he'd made of himself."
(7)

Ho Ho Hokey! As to be expected, this book was a bit of fluff, kind of like watching a Hallmark Christmas Movie. Tis the season! Tom Langdon is a worn-out foreign news correspondent who lost the love of his life years ago and has been at loose ends ever since. Guess who was on the train? Haha. Read this if you want a lighthearted romp. You might even learn a little bit about the lost art of riding the rails at the same time.

233bell7
Dez 9, 2020, 6:27pm

>223 Donna828: Home is my favorite of the series so far, so I am looking forward to Jack. Probably next year that this point, though. I'm glad to see you liked it!

234Donna828
Dez 11, 2020, 3:12pm

>234 Donna828: Hi Mary. Gilead is my favorite of the quartet followed closely by Home, then Lila and finally Jack. They all complement each other and fill in the gaps to strengthen the story line and characterization. Jack is the weak link in the books and in the family yet it is still a rewarding reading experience.

235Donna828
Dez 11, 2020, 3:28pm



Book No. 99: Ask Again, Yes! by Mary Beth Keane, narrated by Molly Pope. Libby Audio, 416 pp., 3.5 stars.

This book featured two families living next door to each other in the suburbs, both husbands were policemen in the same NYC Police Department, and a budding friendship/romance between the youngest children. This domestic drama came to a head with a tragedy and much disruption of both families.

It was a lot to handle for quiet bedtime reading and took me the full three weeks to finish it. There were lots of details about mental illness and alchoholism. Perhaps too many. I just didn't get sucked into the story. I think I would have liked it more in print and at a less busy time of year.

236Donna828
Editado: Dez 11, 2020, 3:52pm



Book No. 100: Anxious People by Fredrick Backman. Library, 336 pp., 4.2 stars.

"This story is about a lot of things, but mostly about idiots. So it needs saying from the outset that it's always very easy to declare that other people are idiots, but only if you forget how idiotically difficult being human is. Especially if you have other people you're trying to be a reasonably good human being for."
(Page 1)

A complicated day means different things to different people. Apparently to Backman, it is one in which an attempted bank robbery fails and turns into a hostage situation. But don't get too involved in the plot. The real story here lies in the people who care too much and the others who don't seem to care at all. It's about connections and missed connections. I liked it because I've learned to skip over the silliness and fluff in this author's books to hone in on the truth at the heart of his stories.

We are all trying to get by, to appear normal despite underlying panic about a world plagued by money and relationship troubles, along with the psychic pain that leads some to jump off bridges or find other ways of permanent relief. Backman has a unique view of human nature, and it's very cynical, but I don't think he's wrong. Maybe we are all idiots! Or maybe we should be more open with our lives, foibles and all..."it had been a long day, they had all heard one another's stories, and that made it harder to dislike one another." (277) In the end, we go through life wanting to forgive and be forgiven, so let's practice grace in everyday life. It's Backman's message in his books, and I think he's on to something.

237Whisper1
Dez 11, 2020, 5:29pm

>200 Donna828: What a great review of All The King's Men. I purchased it recently, and hope to read it over the holidays.

Normally, I would be in Ohio with my daughter and grand children, but the covid numbers there are very high, and I have layovers both going out and coming home.

I will miss my family, but it simply isn't safe.

238karenmarie
Dez 16, 2020, 4:01pm

Hi Donna!

>217 Donna828: I liked this one much better than you did, giving it 4.5 stars. One of the aspects I liked most about it was that the time travel was completely incidental to the story. No explanation ever that I can remember, it was simply a means to an end.

>218 Donna828: I’m seeing lots of chatter about Jack, which is causing me to reach critical mass on reading Gilead. Perhaps later this month or in January.

239Donna828
Dez 18, 2020, 8:15pm

>237 Whisper1: By all means, stay safe, Linda. The holidays are kind of subdued for us this year, too. Our daughter and family will be here on Christmas Eve but no overnight visit. It's a 6-hour round trip for them so I do appreciate the effort.

I hope you enjoy All the King's Men. The writing is great and even as tired as I was of politics this year, I enjoyed the behind the scenes look of a campaign. Very timely.

>238 karenmarie: Hi there, Karen. I sort of have a negative response to books with time travel so it was no surprise I didn't like this classic as well as many others. I might have liked the print version better so I could skip over the actual events of getting from California to Maryland in the blink of an eye.

I think it's a good idea to start with Gilead. Jack by itself wouldn't be nearly as good without the background. You are in for a treat with Robinson's writing.

240Donna828
Dez 18, 2020, 8:31pm



Book No. 101: The Dogs of Christmas by W. Bruce Cameron. Library, 238 pp., 3.5 stars.

"Why hadn't anyone ever told him about this, about having a dog? That it made every moment more important, that it somehow brought the best stuff to the surface of the day?"
(87)

Not only does Josh, a serious-minded computer geek, have a dog forced on him by a pushy neighbor, but he ends up fostering five puppies left in the back of his pick-up during a Colorado blizzard. He goes from zero to six dogs and manages to keep his sanity while losing his heart to the new menagerie. The book is pretty predictable yet so heartwarming that I didn't care. Throw in a romance and it's another Hallmark movie in book form. Perfect for this time of year.

241Donna828
Editado: Dez 18, 2020, 10:17pm



Book No. 102: All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny. Library, 439 pp., 4.4 stars.

“Don’t believe everything you think. Chief Inspector Gamache wrote that on the board for the incoming cadets at the start of every year at the Sûreté academy, and it stayed there all year.”
(78)


This one took me by surprise. I didn't expect to like it as much as I did. I have read the 15 previous books in this series and have only one other rated this high. I've always said that I like the ambience of Three Pines more than the mysteries, and I really didn't want to go to Paris.

I loved that this book focused on the Gamache family. We learn more about Armand Gamache's early life and find out why there has never been much about his son Daniel in earlier books. Also, a new baby is on the way for Annie and Jean-Guy. That is the main reason for the entire family being in Paris. The complex plot has more suspense than the usual Penny book which needs a big city to contain all the action.

The title is taken from Shakespeare's "The Tempest": "Hell is empty, and the devils are all here." It's difficult to separate the devils from the angels in this book because of all the twists and turns. Despite the darkness of the plot, Ms. Penny is still able to convey the authentic relationships and the innate kindness of Armand as he does what is best for his family in the midst of a turbulent crime investigation.

242thornton37814
Dez 19, 2020, 8:40am

>241 Donna828: It will be hard for it to beat Bury Your Dead which is my favorite to date.

243vivians
Dez 21, 2020, 10:08am

>241 Donna828: I felt the same way about this newest Penny, Donna. I've read them all and although I loved the characters I found the mysteries too bizarre and convoluted. This one really benefited from a change of scenery and more focus on the Gamache family.

244karenmarie
Dez 22, 2020, 9:26pm

Hi Donna!


... and here's to a better 2021!

245Carmenere
Editado: Dez 24, 2020, 9:07am


Wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas, Donna, and a joyous 2021!

246SandDune
Dez 24, 2020, 10:57am



Or in other words, Happy Christmas! And have a great New Year as well.

247lkernagh
Dez 24, 2020, 12:24pm

Hi Donna. Wishing you peace, joy and happiness this holiday season and best wishes for a wonderful New Year!

248nittnut
Dez 24, 2020, 12:58pm



Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
May next year bring you greater peace and joy, good health and many books.

249Caroline_McElwee
Dez 24, 2020, 5:00pm



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

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

250Berly
Dez 24, 2020, 5:33pm



Donna--Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
May 2021 bring you less need for masks, loads of peace and joy, good health and, of course, books!

251AMQS
Dez 24, 2020, 5:48pm


252Copperskye
Dez 24, 2020, 11:44pm

253PaulCranswick
Dez 25, 2020, 3:07am



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

254msf59
Dez 25, 2020, 8:03am



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

255BLBera
Dez 26, 2020, 1:52pm

Merry Christmas, Donna.

All the King's Men is on my list for next year -- Kakutani writes about it in Ex Libris: 100+ Books - I got a few to add to my WL for next year. I, too, want to read more from my shelves. We'll see how I do.

I'll see you around next year.

256Donna828
Dez 28, 2020, 12:12pm

>242 thornton37814: Bury Your Dead was a good one--exciting and memorable. I hope you like the new one, too, Lori.

>243 vivians: Yes, it was the family focus that made the book for me, Vivian. Paris was a nice change of place as well. I've always been bothered by the amount of crime in bucolic Three Pines.

257Donna828
Dez 28, 2020, 12:17pm

I loved ALL of the festive greetings. I didn't do well in sending mine out this year. Just know that I appreciate all my LT Friends and wish you all the best in the upcoming new year.

Thank you to Karen, Lynda, Rhian, Lori, Jenn, Caroline, Kim, Anne, Joanne, Paul, and Mark for the colorful Merry Christmas wishes.

258Donna828
Dez 28, 2020, 12:19pm

>255 BLBera: Thanks, Beth, and a Big Yes to All the King's Men. I am looking forward to getting the Ex Libris book from the library. If it's as good as it sounds, I will probably order my own copy with my shiny new Amazon gift card.

259Donna828
Dez 28, 2020, 12:41pm



Book No. 103: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman, audio by Emily Rankin. Libby Audio, 352 pp., 3.7 stars.

I loved how this one started out. Nina works in a Los Angeles bookstore and has a very organized life. She has a day planner that rules her life until a new love interest and knowledge of a large family complicate things. It's a quirky and fun book to listen to. A good 'in between" book or one to read or listen to when life is busy and concentration is low.

260Donna828
Editado: Dez 28, 2020, 12:52pm



Book No. 104: The Outcast Dead by Elly Griffiths. Library, 385 pp., 3.8 stars.

I continue to enjoy the archeological adventures of Ruth Galloway. Unfortunately, my library doesn't have a print copy of No. 5 so I skipped ahead to No. 6. It looks like I missed Cathbad moving away, but, not to worry, it looks like he is back again for good. The storyline involved missing children and the usual struggle Ruth has with juggling her career and motherhood. Kate is almost 3 now and continues to be charming and precocious.

261Familyhistorian
Dez 28, 2020, 5:16pm

It’s been a while since I checked into your thread, Donna. I hope you had a good Christmas and congratulations on finding Penny. She sounds like a great addition to your family.

262Donna828
Dez 30, 2020, 4:51pm

>261 Familyhistorian: Thanks for the visit, Meg. Christmas was rushed but it was good to be with family for a few hours. Penny is a good fit for us. She helps me get my steps in most days. It snowed here today so we stayed home. I’ve already had two falls because of her pulling, and don’t need another. Happy New Year to you.

263Donna828
Editado: Dez 30, 2020, 9:58pm



Book No. 105: The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner. Library, 309 pp., 4 stars.

"...that's exactly what Austen gives us. A world so a part of our own, yet so separate, that entering it is like some kind of tonic. Even with so many flawed and even silly characters, it all makes sense in the end. It may be the most sense we'll ever get to make out of our own messed-up world."
(117)

Set in Chawton, England, this fast-reading novel about a group of disparate villagers trying to set up a local Austen museum should be a hit with fans of Jane Austen. One of the aspects I enjoyed the most was how the members immersed themselves in the books and enjoyed talking with each other about their favorite scenes and characters.

I bought the somewhat pricey (for me) Pride and Prejudice: An Annotated Edition several years ago. I dug it out of the pile of coffee table books and plan to read it early in 2021. I don't think I've read it or Sense and Sensibility since high school. I also own a copy of the Complete Works and read five of them (including Lady Susan) in 2008. None of them got a rating above 3.5 stars from me so I suppose I'm not a big fan. Reading this contemporary book piqued my interest into trying again with her supposedly most popular book.

ETA: Touchy touchstones! I'll try again later.

264Donna828
Dez 30, 2020, 5:55pm



Book No. 106: Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Natalie Jenner, audio by Donada Peters. Libby Audio, 384 pp., 3.5 stars.

I became interested in reading more about Prime Minster Churchill after reading The Splendid and the Vile earlier this year. I have started the 1,000 plus pages of Walking With Destiny on Kindle and thought reading some more lighthearted books might give me some relief from the good but intense biography. This one gave a different perspective of Churchill from the viewpoint of one of his support staff in the War Rooms. Maggie Hope is the heroine of more British mysteries...and I might continue the series on audio as a way to enhance my foray into British history.

265Donna828
Dez 31, 2020, 8:02pm



Book No. 107: The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. Mine, 238 pp., 4 stars.

This is a children's book with some pretty big words ("peregrination" for example) that can be enjoyed by the young at heart as well. It is a timeless story about an orphaned girl sent to the country to live with an older cousin. It has a lot of charm and a little bit of magic. Written in the 1940s, it may seem a little over the top in the saccharine department, but it was made all the sweeter to me as my 10-year-old granddaughter Haley gave it to me for my birthday. How could I not love it?

266RebaRelishesReading
Dez 31, 2020, 8:24pm

I haven't read the new Backman but I should (1) because you like it and (2) because I've liked them all except My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry -- that one just annoyed me. I bought Jack yesterday and am looking forward to it. I do wonder if I should re-read the others first though.

267Donna828
Dez 31, 2020, 8:38pm

It has been another good year here with my friends in the 75-Book Challenge Group. Despite times of poor concentration, I managed to read 107 books with a total of 38,810 pages.

Twenty books were off my shelves, two were read on my Kindle. I listened to 17 books and the rest were checked out from the library, my saving grace during these depressing Covid Days. I've enjoyed all the visits back and forth here in the best group on LT.

After careful thought, I have decided to take a year off. I never thought it would happen, but I am tired of writing about my books. All my comments were starting to sound alike to me and I am in need of a break. That doesn't mean I will quit reading, however. As a matter of fact, I plan to focus on my home library and paring down my collection. I will still be lurking on the threads so I can make notes of library books I want to read in the future. It's been a GREAT 13 Years. I hope to be back in 2022.

268RebaRelishesReading
Dez 31, 2020, 8:41pm

I certainly hope you WILL be back, Donna!!

269Donna828
Dez 31, 2020, 8:42pm

>266 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, we do have similar thoughts about the Backman books as we do about many other books. I chose not to reread any of the Gilead books before I read Jack, but I'm very glad I followed it up with a reread of Home which made me appreciate Jack even more. Happy Reading in your new home in 2021!

270Donna828
Dez 31, 2020, 8:43pm

>268 RebaRelishesReading: Thank you, Reba. That is certainly my intention. Who knows, I might not even make it a year without an LT presence. We shall see...

271Donna828
Dez 31, 2020, 8:49pm

272Caroline_McElwee
Dez 31, 2020, 8:53pm

Happy sabbatical Donna.

273karenmarie
Dez 31, 2020, 9:06pm

Yes, happy sabbatical, Donna!

274Storeetllr
Dez 31, 2020, 9:08pm

Happy New Year, Donna!

275PaulCranswick
Dez 31, 2020, 9:20pm



Donna

As the year turns, friendship continues

276FAMeulstee
Jan 1, 3:58am

Happy reading in 2021, Donna!
Enjoy your break, and I hope to see you back in 2022.

277lkernagh
Jan 1, 6:32pm

Happy New Year, Donna! Enjoy your time off LT.

278Berly
Jan 1, 7:12pm



Come lurk on my thread anytime!!! Hope you regenerate over 2021 and we will see you back here someday soon. Big Hugs!!

279ronincats
Jan 2, 1:03pm

Aaargh, and just when I am back in the "area" for meet-ups. Oh well, probably it will be 2022 before we all start traveling again, but I will miss you.

280Crazymamie
Jan 2, 1:06pm

Donna, you will be missed, but I totally get it. Wishing you a year full of happy renewal.

281Copperskye
Jan 2, 3:59pm

Happy New Year, Donna! I will miss visiting you but totally get it. I was seriously considering not having a thread this year, but old habits die hard. Mine is so quiet it hardly takes much effort. :)

I hope you still log your reading into your LT library so we can peek at what you’re reading and hope you drop by on some threads every so often. I also hope I get to see you in RL this year. Fingers crossed for a more normal life soon.

Stay well, my friend! Enjoy your reading!

282mdoris
Jan 2, 7:37pm

Hi Donna, Oh my your presence will be missed around here. All the best to you and family for 2021.

283thornton37814
Jan 2, 10:01pm

We will miss you around here. Just because some of us write about our books doesn't mean you need to do so. A lot of people just list their books with no comments. I'm glad you plan to at least lurk.

284AMQS
Jan 4, 12:42am

Oh Donna, I will miss you. Let us know if you come to CO - if things are more normal I would love to see you.

285AnneDC
Jan 4, 1:00am

Donna, just when I am coming back!
I suppose it's a good idea to take a planned break instead of just accidentally disappearing as I have had a tendency to do.
I will miss you and your book bullets.
Enjoy the respite.

286PaulCranswick
Jan 8, 10:58pm

>267 Donna828: Take good care of yourself, Donna, and I hope you'll come back rested and full of the joys of the group.

So many of us have shared some ennui about participation in recent times - my 2019 for example was a year that I almost gave up and my reading suffered terribly.

Will miss you lots in the meanwhile. xx

287streamsong
Jan 16, 2:50pm

Donna, I missed that you wouldn't be starting a thread in 2021. I understand your decision but darn! I got so many good rec's from you over the years. and also will miss the photos of the grands.

Stay safe and well - and hope to see you back on LT soon!