mstrust & the ROOT of All Evil

Discussão2021 ROOT CHALLENGE

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mstrust & the ROOT of All Evil

Editado: Dez 30, 2020, 12:07pm

Hi, I'm Jennifer and this is my third year ROOTing. I live in Phoenix and have hundreds of unread books in the house yet I buy more. You understand.
I finished 2020 with 108 read books with 40 of them being ROOTs. That's a 37% success rate. So I'm going for 50% ROOTs this year. To help with that, I'm calling books that have been on my shelf for at least two months a ROOT. I can often name the month and year I acquired a book.
Thanks for visiting, and good luck with your own ROOTs this year.
Come by my 75 Challenge:
Or my Category Challenge:

Dez 30, 2020, 12:07pm

Hi Jennifer, good to see you again. Happy ROOTing!

Dez 30, 2020, 12:19pm

Thanks, Connie! Happy ROOTing to you!

Dez 30, 2020, 12:28pm

Welcome back, happy ROOTing! (I love those pictures!)

Dez 30, 2020, 12:35pm

Love the bad girls Jennifer. Until last year I only counted books that were on the shelf by the previous year end as ROOTS but last year counted anything I owned. I like that so much better becasue I didn't let new books sit on the shelf and instead read a good mixture of new and old.

Dez 30, 2020, 12:37pm

Welcome back and have a great ROOT year!

Dez 30, 2020, 12:41pm

>5 Jackie_K: Thanks, Jackie, and happy ROOTing to you!
>6 clue: Ha, those bad book girls!
For 2020 I counted it for six months or more on my shelf, but as I'm constantly acquiring and weeding and sharing with my family, I had to give myself a break and cut it down to two months. Maybe next year I'll take your good idea and count a ROOT as anything I pull from my own shelf.
Happy ROOTing in 2021!

Dez 30, 2020, 12:42pm

>7 rabbitprincess: Thank you, Princess, and to you too!

Dez 30, 2020, 2:15pm

Good luck with your rooting! I too love the images :)

Dez 30, 2020, 4:57pm

Happy 2021 Reading!

Dez 30, 2020, 5:19pm

Thank you, Cheli, and thanks for turning on the lights!

Dez 30, 2020, 10:52pm

Wishing you good luck with your ROOTing goals. Love the "I read an abridged book and I liked it." Ha! :-)

Dez 31, 2020, 3:14am

Psstt, Jennifer. Don't forget to join the group and become a member!

Editado: Dez 31, 2020, 9:12am

>13 This-n-That: Thank you, and good ROOTing to you!
>14 connie53: Ah! I did forget that, thanks for reminding me!

Dez 31, 2020, 7:21pm

Happy ROOTing in 2021, Jennifer!

Jan 1, 6:19am

Have a happy and healthy year of ROOTing, Jennifer.

Jan 1, 9:48am

>16 FAMeulstee: Thank you, Anita!
>17 Robertgreaves: Thank you, Robert, and happy ROOTing to you!

Editado: Jan 1, 9:53am

Here's the first:

1.Lady Windermere's Fan by Oscar Wilde. Young and deeply in love, the marriage of Lord and Lady Windermere is suddenly in peril when gossip assures the Lady that her husband has been keeping company with a notorious woman. This rumor is confirmed to be true by her husband, who then begs his wife to invite this friend of his to their society party that night, which the Lady refuses to do. Lord Windermere issues the invite on his wife's behalf, openly telling her that he does so because this woman wishes to be welcomed into society and he plans on helping her in that.
A story of deception and the intense scrutiny a person lived under, where whatever your relatives did reflected on you. Many of Wilde's best lines are here. 4 stars

This is one of those old books that I've had on the shelf for so many years that I don't remember where I got it. Pre-LT, that's for sure, so it's a ROOT with very deep roots.

Jan 1, 10:03am

Happy New Year to All!

Editado: Jan 3, 9:26am

2. The Riddle of the Third Mile by Colin Dexter. The sixth of the Inspector Morse series. When a body, with all the identifiable parts missing, is pulled from the Oxford Canal, Morse and Sergeant Lewis are sent to figure out who it is and who put it there. The investigation takes them from the offices of Oxford University to the most seedy London clubs, and along the way they discover the pockets of the university where bitterness had been stewing for years.
This investigation is atmospheric, sometimes complicated, and also fun due to Morse's extreme crabbiness and arrogance. It's been too long between Morses.

I read this for the Mystery Group's water theme this month, and it's also a ROOT. I bought this a year ago.

Jan 4, 11:49am

Do you a specific number ROOTs you are hoping to read this year?

Jan 4, 12:02pm

I don't. I've declared that I hope to have half of my reads this year to be ROOTs, but that's half of whatever number I end up with.

Jan 5, 9:09am

Lovely to see you're back. Happy reading!

Editado: Jan 5, 10:12am

3. California Hotel and Casino: Hawai'i's Home Away from Home by Dennis m. Ogawa and John M. Blink This is the true story of how Vegas icon Sam Boyd turned a non-descript and failing downtown casino, one that was a block away from Fremont, so off the beaten path, into a destination for Hawaiians. Research had shown Boyd that the greatest (heaviest) gamblers where Hawaiians of Japanese descent. Using airline promotions, heavy media presence in the islands, and turning their food selections from typical Vegas fare to traditional island and Japanese, the casino and hotel was able to build a loyal clientele.
Most of this book is told in interviews, with the longest being by co-author Blink, who spent decades working for Boyd in all job titles, including "dishwasher". This is as much a biography of Boyd's career as the story of The California. But it probably wouldn't interest anyone who wasn't interested in old Vegas.

I bought this in October.

Jan 5, 5:56pm

"ROOT of all evil"! So clever! Good luck pulling ROOTS this year!

Jan 6, 9:17am

>24 MissWatson: Thank you, Birgit! I'm a big fan of the ROOTs group, as I'm someone who really benefits from being pushed to read what I already have. Happy reading in 2021 to you!

>26 Carmenere: Thank you, Lynda! Good luck with your ROOTs this year!

Editado: Jan 12, 2:25pm

4. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley.
Set in a small English village in 1950, this story is told by a remarkably intelligent eleven year-old, Flavia de Luce. When she overhears her father arguing in his study with a stranger and hears the phrase "We killed him", then finds a strange man dying in the cucumber patch, she puts two and two together and believes that her father must be the murderer. The police do too and the Colonel is quickly arrested. Flavia's natural detecting skills, her knowledge of chemistry and her willingness to ride her bike all over the village to snoop are more than anyone expected from a little girl.
I'm more than a decade late in discovering this book and now I'm trying to keep myself from gushing about how fun and clever it is to be in Flavia's company. I'm absolutely continuing the series.
This has been on my shelf for 3 years.

Jan 12, 7:13pm

>28 mstrust: This is such a great series! I'm envious of your reading it for the first time. I've just put a hold on a library ebook for a re-read :)

Jan 13, 9:46am

I'm excited to start this series, and to find a great new-to-me author. Looks like a lot of fun!

Editado: Jan 14, 10:40am

5. Britten and Brulightly by Hannah Berry. Fernandez Britten has unhappily been a private investigator for many years. He began with the expectation that he would make the world a better place with his skill, but instead, he fell into doing so many adultery cases that he became known as "The Heartbreaker".
Finally something different comes along. A woman's fiancee has died recently and it's ruled a suicide, but she believes he was murdered. Britten, accompanied by his sidekick Brulightly, a tea bag that may be self-aware and chatty, or more likely is a sign of Britten's instability, begins looking into the dead man's life and finds more twists than a corkscrew.
This is a re-read and I enjoyed it as much, if not more now. I first read it eight years ago. Now I'm much more familiar with noir tropes, and I actually came away with a different opinion of the ending.
I've owned this for over 8 years.

Jan 15, 7:43am

>31 mstrust: The idea that somewhere there is a self-aware chatty teabag named Brulightly just makes me happy.

Jan 15, 10:22am

He's definitely the most helpful tea bag I've ever seen. And I really like that Britten looks like a big-nosed, depressed Gomez Addams.

Jan 15, 12:09pm

I need a book with a self-aware object for a challenge. This would fit seamlessly.

Jan 15, 5:36pm


Jan 16, 7:33pm

Love the picture in your first post! So funny

Jan 17, 11:00am

Thanks, Joyce!

Jan 17, 11:03am

Here's another. Non-fiction, I'm sure.

Editado: Jan 30, 10:15am

6. Almost Sleighed by Emily James.
This is the third in the Maple Syrup Mysteries series.
Nicole, a former defense lawyer at her parent's D.C. firm, is learning how to run the Michigan maple farm her uncle left to her. While checking the stables, she finds one of her employees, Noah, unconscious and bleeding. The question of whether Noah fell or was attacked is enough to make Nicole the prime suspect for Elise, the only female police officer in Fair Haven.
Realizing that she barely knows Noah, Nicole conducts her own investigation to find out if there would be anyone with a reason to put Noah in a coma.
And since deciding she was too attached to her friend Mark, the married coroner, Nicole is doing her best to live with the fact that everyone in the small town seems to hate her for breaking up with him.
This is a ROOT, having been on my Kindle for six months or more. I've read 14 books in total so far.

Jan 31, 2:54am

14 books! Wow.

Jan 31, 11:38am

That was my beginning-a-new-year rush. I can guarantee that I'm about to slow down.

Editado: Fev 3, 10:43am

7. Vegas Tabloid by P Moss.
Jimmy Dot is the dirtbag ringmaster of a weird little circus that suddenly became cool at The Fabulous Hotel and Casino. He signed a contract with the evil casino owner, Fuller, and now he's required to live in a casino penthouse, be paid more than he should ever have expected to see in his low-class lifetime, and he smiles for tourist selfies. He hates his life, mostly because his wife Jenny left him when he became a success.
Revson was a scientist who discovered that the pill to cure the common cold he was working on and got to final testing, has been shown to cause pancreatic cancer. He tracks down a famous investigative journalist at The Fabulous and pleads to have the pill and the pharma CEO investigated. That CEO, Randy Leeds, happens to be in The Fabulous too, and his opponents too often turn up dead, so Revson knows he's got a target on his back.

People with men who are cons and sociopaths, and women who are almost always prostitutes or being sexually abused. I can't say that I liked this because there were some scenes that were too graphic and perverse for my liking.

This has been on my shelf for a year and a half.

Editado: Fev 11, 9:54am

8. My Life with Sherlock Holmes by John H. Watson, M.D., edited by J.R. Hamilton.
The doctor's examination of his famous friend through their conversations and his own observations, mysteries removed, so that it becomes a biography of Sherlock Holmes. These are the writings of Arthur Conan Doyle with some editor's footnotes that clarify or comment.
Published in 1968, I expected this to weave a new story but it really doesn't. I think only the Holmesian completest would need this. 2.5 stars, a rating that is for the book being unnecessary, not for A.C.D.'s writing.
I read this for this month's Mystery pastiche theme, and it's a ROOT. It's been on my shelf for five years.

Editado: Fev 15, 10:08am

9. Hoodoo Harry by Joe R. Lansdale. Driving back from a day of fishing, Hap and Leonard collide with a bus driven by a terrified twelve year-old. The boy is killed on impact and the bus turns out to be a bookmobile that serviced the tiny towns along a backroads route, bringing books to impoverished kids. Why the boy was driving the bus is a mystery, but so is the fact that the bus and its proper driver, Hoodoo Harry, have been missing for fifteen years.
Number 38 of The Mysterious Bookshop Bibliomysteries. This is a really good one.

Fev 16, 3:20am

That sounds real intriguing.

Editado: Fev 16, 9:35am

I'm loving this series. It's so interesting to see the authors using the same theme.
If you want to see the whole list of Bibliomysteries, check out the shop's site.

Editado: Fev 16, 9:36am

Here's another one:

10. Bibliotheca Classica by Simon Brett. Unbearable snob Derrick is pulled away from his research on the Pre-Raphaelites when his wife, young Harriet, who had been a graduate student when Derrick was a professor, gifts him with a copy of an eighteenth century encyclopedia. Derrick is intrigued by the fact that the whole book has been bowdlerized and sees researching it as a good way to keep Harriet busy while he does his own important work.
Brett has created a fun story about academia and researching obscurities. I wish the very ending had been drawn out a little more but I still recommend this. 4.5 stars
This series is like popcorn.

This is my 21st book for 2021, so I'm staying on track for 50% ROOTs so far.

Fev 16, 5:32pm

>44 mstrust: >47 mstrust: It sounds intriguing but I really don't feel able to commit to a series with 38+ books.

Fev 17, 12:53pm

No need to, as by series I just meant that they are all of The Mysterious Bookshop's Bibliomysteries, not an ongoing connected story. I buy what grabs me at the moment.

Editado: Fev 19, 10:31am

11. Selected Poems of W.H. Auden. Keep in mind that I haven't studied any poetry since high school, where my teacher was into Shakespeare and the Cavalier Poets, very different from Auden. And I think he needs to be studied to fully grasp his work. There are some, like "Stop the Clocks" that can be appreciated from the first read, but so much of his poetry is dense and personal with meaning, with each line needing to be picked through, that the reader would benefit from having some instruction along the way.
I guess that's all I feel qualified to say, because I know there are people who spend their lives studying Auden, and he left plenty of work to study if this book of selected poems is any indication of how much he wrote.
This has sat on my shelf for more years than I can say, so it's a ROOT. Ten years, at least.

Fev 20, 9:20am

>50 mstrust: Aaaahh. It feels so good to get one of those really old ones done!

Fev 20, 11:33am

Ha, it does indeed!

Editado: Mar 1, 9:04am

12. The Murder of Dr. Chapman by Linda Wolfe. Dr. Chapman worked to cure stammering, creating a method lost to time as he made patients promise to never reveal how he treated them. His wife, Lucretia, was a self-made successful businesswoman, a teacher who founded the first boarding school for girls in Philadelphia. Eventually the Chapmans moved miles outside the city to a large house in order to give the students and their own five children a healthier environment. They had a reputation for giving people in need a place to stay for a night or two. It was because a young man named Lino Espos y Mina was directed to their home for free shelter in 1831 that the following events occurred.
Mina was a fraud, a thief and compulsive liar, and likely a sociopath. He was from Cuba, and at twenty-one, had already served more than a year in prison for taking part in robberies with a gang. When he arrived at the Chapmans he had nothing but told them he was the son of a famous Mexican general in San Francisco, he just needed to get in contact with his father in order to get money. This was a story, with many variations, that he told throughout the States, always that he was the son of a rich, powerful man and that anyone who was nice to him now would be rewarded with riches once his father was around. Plenty of trusting people fell for it, but only Lucretia went this far in her gullibility.
Others in the household recognized that Lucretia was increasingly frustrated with her husband, likely bored and angry that the bigger responsibility of their income fell to her while her husband became less ambitious. When the stranger with an exotic appearance and promises of a wealthy family arrived, Lucretia seems to have lost all propriety, fawning over the stranger who was half her age, and a servant reported that she soon was seeing signs that her mistress and the stranger were sleeping together. Lucretia paid for Lino to have new suits, openly doting on him and spending afternoons away from home with him. Within weeks of his arrival, Dr. Chapman was dead and Lucretia and Lino were married just days later. Was the death natural or was Dr. Chapman poisoned? The resulting trials were infamous.
This has been on my shelf for two years.

Mar 5, 5:10am

Hi Jennifer. Just popping in to see what you're reading and saying Hi.

Mar 5, 6:40am

>53 mstrust: This sounds so interesting! I have a weakness for historical crime stories.

Mar 5, 9:22am

>54 connie53: Hi Connie! I know, my ROOT thread can go quiet for long stretches so it's nice to get a visit.
I'm currently juggling a few: The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth, which is a ROOT, Grateful American by Gary Sinise on my Kindle, a book about animal behavior that I got last week, and I'm still working on Moby Dick. Still.

>55 Caramellunacy: I do too! I prefer a little time to have passed between a heinous murder and my reading about it.
I think the author of this one did a really good job in her research. There were a few spots here and there when I thought I could do without her flourishes, but it's an interesting story.

Mar 5, 12:16pm

>56 mstrust: 4 Books at the same time is too much for me. And even now when I'm reading 2, I prefer one book over the other.

Right now I'm reading Het onzichtbare leven van Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab as tree-book
and The once and future witches by Alix E. Harrow on my reader.

The tree-book is the preferred one.

Mar 5, 4:12pm

I'm usually juggling two to three at a time. I live in a three story house and the novelty of that wore off years ago. So when I want to read I'm often too lazy to walk up a flight and find a book I'd already started, so I'll pick up one that's nearby.
I'm unfamiliar with your current authors.

Mar 6, 2:54am

>58 mstrust: I did not know them before I saw them mentioned here or on my RL book-club. The book by Schwab is really very good. And different.

Mar 6, 2:43pm

Thanks for the rec! That's going on my WL!

Editado: Mar 6, 2:48pm

13. The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth. In 300 pages of iambic pentameter, this is the story of John, who is desperately lonely and calls up a former girlfriend, Jan, to help him figure out how he can find love. Jan jumps right in and places an ad, then sorts through to find good matches for John, which ends with him meeting and falling for attorney Liz. They're very happy together, but their relationship angers Liz's old cat, Charlemagne, who takes great pleasure in destroying John's things and peeing on his pillow.
This is also the story of John's best friend, Phil. His wife left him and their young son a while ago, something they are still dealing with, but Phil finds an unexpected love in Ed, Liz's brother. Keeping their relationship hidden to their family and friends, there is also the issue of Ed's Catholic guilt, which seems to come up when Phil believes they should be at their happiest.
Remarkably fleshed out, these are characters that have hidden sides and the ability to evolve. They deal with parenthood, illness, government and corporate pollution, and religion. Yes, it's hard to read a poem this long, yet it's filled with humor. 4.5 stars

This is a ROOT, as I bought it two years ago.

Mar 6, 4:32pm

>61 mstrust: I've got this on the bookshelf, and I've loved all the Seth books I've read so far, but I've always felt a bit daunted by this one because of the whole poetry thing. But your review is very reassuring that when I get to it I won't be too overwhelmed!

Mar 8, 9:25am

I'm happy to reassure you that this isn't an intimidating book at all. Though it contains some serious topics, it will also have you laughing.

Mar 15, 1:36pm

I'm hosting April's ScaredyKit. Join us for our month of "Possessions".

Mar 17, 1:32pm

>64 mstrust: I'm not that interested in Scary books like that. The cover scares me the moment I saw it. It must be the eyes! So I won't join but I hope you have a great time reading scary books!

Mar 17, 2:02pm

Are you referring to My Best Friend's Exorcism that is pictured on the April thread? :-D The cover resembles an 80's teen horror VHS tape, which I find amusing. But I've read the book and it certainly has some creepy stuff in it so you're wise to steer clear.

Mar 17, 2:05pm

Good! I will see what you have to tell here on your horrific reading!

Mar 18, 11:16am

I'm sure I can write a review of my latest scary read, Haunted Nights, that will make you glad you didn't read it yourself ;-)

Editado: Mar 18, 5:04pm

14. Grateful American by Gary Sinise.
An autobiography by the actor/director, best known as Lt. Dan from the film Forrest Gump. Most of this book is his personal life and career, childhood and family, how he started acting, and then how he co-founded the famous Steppenwolf Troupe of Chicago. There are anecdotes about the famous actors he's worked with and about the making of Forrest Gump. He also discusses his wife's alcoholism and treatments.
Bookending this are discussions of Sinise's work with the USO and veteran's groups, which has taken him to performing in war zones, visiting wounded soldiers and acting as an ambassador for Vietnam Vets groups. He speaks of his gratitude to the people who have fought for America.
I've had this on my Kindle for many months.

Mar 19, 2:35pm

>68 mstrust: Looking forward to that! -)

Editado: Mar 23, 1:23pm

15. Haunted Nights edited by Ellen Datlow and Lisa Morton.
A collection of short stories published by Blumhouse Books, part of Blumhouse Productions.
Here are stories that feature traditional horror tropes, such as the haunted house or secluded cabin, but each story has an unexpected twist that brings a freshness and true creepiness. These are character driven stories rather than gory, in fact there's little blood. All the stories have at least a part that takes place on Halloween.
In "We're Never Inviting Amber Again" by S.P. Miskowski, a jerk who hates his sister-in-law is given proof that she isn't just an attention-seeking weirdo. In "The Seventeen Year Itch" by Garth Nix, the long-time employees of a psych ward try to convince a new doctor that they need to take special precautions on Halloween with a certain patient.
Well-chosen, well-written and highly recommended. 4.5 stars

This has been on my shelf for two years.

Mar 23, 1:54pm

>71 mstrust: And there it is! This sounds like it's more psychological then just events that are scary. I would read that but it's not translated. A pity!

Editado: Mar 24, 5:47pm

16. Miao Doa by Joyce Carol Oates. 34. Miao Doa by Joyce Carol Oates.
Thirteen year-old Mia doesn't know how to handle her situation. The boys at school seem to have formed a club dedicated to touching and body-checking the girls who are developing, and right now, that means Mia is being harassed daily. Things get worse when her parents divorce and her mother marries a creepy guy who is clearly watching Mia.
Her one bit of happiness is the feral cat who Mia sneaks into the house, a cat that grows big and still maintains the ability to hunt prey. 4 stars

A novelette I've had on my Kindle about six months.

Editado: Mar 31, 12:22pm

17. Welcome to the United States of Anxiety by Jen Lancaster.
Based on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, Lancaster explores the needs of the modern American and why these are making us unhappy. Topics are personal appearance, parenting, crime and police, politics and division, and the internet, which figures prominently in many of the other topics. The author looks at the differences between what used to be a situation that only a few people would know about and would be forgotten, versus now, when a stranger can take a pic or video, post it, and your mistake will live forever.
Most surprising to me, as this is the first I've read by the author so knew nothing about her personal life, was the author's discussion about cutting her parents out of her life because of her mother's outlandish and manipulative behavior, which included contacting the author's publisher to make claims of libel.
An interesting and often humorous look at modern life, and sometimes she has advice for lessening stress. 3.5 stars
I've had this on my Kindle for many months.

Mar 31, 5:38pm

March- six ROOTs! I don't know if I've ever read that many in a month.
So far I've read 35 book total, with seventeen being ROOTs. Since I've been going for 50/50, I'm doing okay.

Mar 31, 10:08pm

>75 mstrust: Woo hoo, excellent total!

Abr 1, 9:49am

Ha, thanks, Princess!

Abr 3, 12:36pm

>75 mstrust: Yes, That is really good, Jennifer.

Happy Easter for you and yours!

Abr 3, 3:43pm

Happy Easter, Connie!

Abr 3, 3:43pm

Happy Easter to You!

Editado: Abr 5, 10:55am

18. Skinwalkers by Tony Hillerman.
Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee of the Navajo Tribal Police, are working the homicides of a couple of older men on the reservation, men who didn't seem to know each other and had few acquaintances, so the officers can't find a connection, especially when they might have to include in the death count a young health services woman who was so disliked that there could be any number of people who would be glad she was dead. When Chee turns out to be an intended victim and he finds indications of Navajo witchcraft, the officers are even more confused.

This was my first Hillerman, and I believe it's something like the seventh of the series, so it's interesting to find that Leaphorn and Chee aren't partners or even friends. The relationship is very much boss and subordinate, and they don't even work at the same station, so an unusual investigative team situation. The location covers the vast Navajo Nation, with the characters going to remote villages and Gallup. I'm familiar with some of these places and that makes it enjoyable, being able to picture the locales. I figured out whodunnit early on but that didn't stop it from being a good read. 4 stars
I read this for the April ScaredyKit group, this month's theme being "Possession", but there's no possession in this story, it's witchcraft. I've had this since January.

Editado: Abr 8, 5:52pm

19. Miss Marple's Final Cases by Agatha Christie. A collection of short stories, some of which don't feature Miss Marple at all. There are some good ones though, like "The Case of the Caretaker", in which a local bad boy who had to leave the village due to his behavior returns years later with a new, wealthy bride. The couple is relentlessly harassed by an old woman but no one can figure out why.
My least favorite was "Strange Jest", which features one of Christie's rich old uncles who enjoys playing games with his will. There are two stories in the collection that involve the supernatural rather than criminals, and one story in which Miss Marple is the narrator, which I don't remember her doing elsewhere. I was worried by the title of this book that she'd be killed off here but it didn't happen. I read this for the MysteryKit. 3 stars
I bought this in 2014.

Editado: Abr 15, 12:19pm

20. The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde. Thursday Next is a war veteran who came back while her brother didn't. Her father, whose work with the mysterious ChronoGuard outfit made it necessary for him to leave his family and go skipping through time, occasionally appears for a minute or two. She also lost the love of her life ten years ago and hasn't gotten over it.
After a chance at a huge promotion goes very wrong, Thursday chooses to transfer to a smaller office in her hometown of Swindon, a move that has everyone in SpecOps confused. Thursday's choice is proven to be a good one when Acheron Hades, the worst villain in the U.K., begins kidnapping characters out of famous novels and holding them for ransom. Making things worse, the Goliath Corporation, the largest and most influential company in the world, has bought itself control over SpecOps, so is there to figure out a way to make money off the whole situation.
The plot is about espionage but along the way we meet Rochester and Jane, Pickwick the Dodo, Spike, the SpecOps agent who hunts vampires, and Thursday tries to sort her love life. I haven't read this in 20 years (this year is it's anniversary) but I loved it as much as I did then. 5 stars

Abr 15, 2:36pm

>83 mstrust: Has it really been that long? I remember really loving this series - it may be time for a re-read...if I can only find my copy!

Also - WHEN is the winter of our discontent?

Abr 15, 2:37pm

>83 mstrust: Oh I love that book! I've not read the whole series (just the first two, I think), but fully intend to as they're just so silly and clever and delightful.

Editado: Abr 15, 6:14pm

>84 Caramellunacy: Now! I love the Richard III scene, with the audience behaving like it's The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

>85 Jackie_K: I remember not loving the second book, but I may have been disappointed because the first was so incredible. I need to try it again and see how I feel all these years later.

Abr 15, 5:17pm

>86 mstrust: Yes, it was always going to be hard to live up to The Eyre Affair, but although I didn't think book 2 was quite as good I did still enjoy it. It must be 'Difficult Second Album' syndrome.

Abr 15, 6:14pm

I'm going to re-read Lost in a Good Book. I agree, it must have been so difficult to come up with a follow-up to such a fantastic debut.

Editado: Abr 18, 8:27am

I've heard so many good things about de Fforde books. A pity they are not translated, only the first one, so I will try to find a copy of that one.

Abr 18, 11:48am

I'm very surprised the Thursday Next series hasn't been translated by now. I liked The Big Over Easy from Fforde too, which is the beginning of his Nursery Crimes series, so you might see if that's available.

Editado: Abr 19, 6:50pm

21. And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks by Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs. Written in 1945 but unpublished until 2008, this story is set in NYC and has two narrators. Kerouac wrote the chapters told from the view of Mike Ryko, a sometimes merchant marine who has lived on and off with Janie for a year. She wants to marry while Mike seems to be indifferent to the idea and runs out the door with his friends whenever given the chance.
Burroughs writes the chapters labeled "Will Dennison". Will is from Reno, has some family money and a wife he visits once a year. He is unflappable whether being hit up for money or listening to a murder confession. He helpfully gives a detailed tutorial on how to prepare morphine for shooting up. Dennison is the only person who seeks out the company of Al, an older creepy stalker who is obsessed with good-looking teen Phillip, who is himself the most horrible of the bunch.
They move as a group; Mike, Will, Al, Phillip, Janie and Barbara, always asking each other for money, cigarettes or dinner, and though they're broke they manage to always be guzzling liquor. Aside from Mike and Phillip repeatedly sleeping too late to get chosen for a freighter, not much happens until near the end when Phillip snaps. This is still a worthwhile read if only to experience a very early Beat novel. 3.5 stars

I've had this for over a year. This is my 40th book overall, so I'm still on track for 50/50 in my ROOTs goal.

Editado: Abr 24, 5:35pm

22. Redshirts by John Scalzi.
When Dahl is assigned to The Intrepid, he joins the spaceship crew along with a handful of new recruits, who quickly form a tight bond. They realize that each of them is replacing a crew member who was recently killed in some horrible and weird way, like ice sharks, and that it can't be just bad luck that makes the lower level crew members pretty much guaranteed death while a small core of long-time crew are guaranteed to survive anything. Dahl and his friends know they each have an expiration date unless they figure out what's going on.
What would happen if the expendable redshirt crew members of Star Trek knew they were slated to die just to show that crew members could die, and what if they very much wanted to live. I really liked this sci-fi comedy. 4.5 stars
I've had this one the shelf for four years.

Abr 25, 5:19am

>90 mstrust: I'm surprised too. Only De zaak Jane Eyre is translated.

Abr 25, 5:31am

>92 mstrust: I remember reading that one a few years back - I really liked the Star Trek spoof / comedy parts (NOT KERENSKY!), but it lost me somewhere in the metaphysical musings. I'm glad you enjoyed it so much, though!

Abr 25, 5:26pm

>93 connie53: Huh. I guess Fforde isn't as big with European readers as with English speakers? That's all I can think of. Fun author though.
>94 Caramellunacy: I did, though I admit that the time travel rules and Hester switch went a bit over my head. I didn't care. I enjoy the bitterness of the lower ranking crew members and the obliviousness of the higher ranking crew.

Abr 26, 2:43am

>95 mstrust: I know some of my RL book club love his books, but the publishers clearly don't.

Abr 26, 9:30am

>81 mstrust: Your thoughts about Skinwalkers is about the same as mine for Dark Wind. Pre-Chee and Leaphorn friendship. It'll be fun to see how their relationship progresses.

Abr 26, 12:36pm

>96 connie53: Maybe time for an e-mail to his Dutch publishers asking, "What's the hold-up, Bub?"

>97 Carmenere: I've started looking for more from this series. I'm going to guess that I put off reading Hillerman for so long because I had an older relative who loved his books and that person wasn't someone I'd take literary recs from ;-D

Maio 2, 4:28am

>98 mstrust: I can always read them in English.

Editado: Maio 2, 9:33am

23. Not Taco Bell Material by Adam Carolla. Carolla's look at his life of growing up in North Hollywood in the 70's and 80's, and his years of manual labor before getting into radio at L.A.'s KROQ.
The chapters are headed by pics of each of his living spaces throughout his life, whether his childhood home, a garage or the homes he was able to buy when he became successful. A too large part of the book is given over to his group of gross high school friends, then to how gross he and Jimmy Kimmel were when they were working together. The whole book is fast paced and the most interesting parts to me were when Carolla's discussing his family, his tangents about general bad behavior, and the random people who pop into the story, like Grandpa Munster slapping elementary school-aged Carolla across the face for getting mouthy. 3 stars
I've had this for four months.

Maio 2, 9:27am

>99 connie53: Of course!

Editado: Maio 5, 7:31pm

24. Maigret Goes to School by Georges Simenon. The Inspector is visited by a schoolmaster who believes he's about to be formally accused of murdering his village postmistress, who was found in her home with a bullet through the eye. He's right.
It seems that the only reason the schoolmaster is arrested is because one of his pupils placed him in a location to have committed the crime, while the man says he's been accused because he's a hated newcomer to the village. Maigret doesn't know what to think about the crime, but a little excursion to the country for oysters and wine sounds good, and he might look into the murder. 3.5 stars
I read this for this month's "Senior Citizen Detective" theme in the MysteryCat. I've had it on the shelf for 3 years.

Maio 9, 5:49pm

25. Moby Dick by Herman Melville. The epic story of life on a whaling ship. The narrator, Ishmael, tells of his friends and crew, the weird, one-legged captain, and how they find and kill whales while keeping a lookout for one whale in particular. There are chases and fights with the whales and between rival ships. Most of the story is expository and some of these topics are really interesting, such as a discussion of the family dynamics of whales, the mythology of whales, the varieties of whales and even English law regarding whales. He is a highly intelligent guide with many areas of expertise, while in lots of other chapters he's a dull gas bag, discussing the merits of different types of rope or complaining about how he'd have a harpooner do the job if he were in charge. The scenes of the whale killings are so disturbing, even 170 years later, and the chapters of the parceling out of the whale body is revolting. Yet the writing is eloquent and can be fast-paced.
I've spent a year and a half dipping in and out of this book, reading it for a day or two, then not touching it for two weeks. It was my Doorstop of the Year for 2020 that became my Doorstop for 2021. I'm glad I read it, it deserves to be considered a Great American Novel. 4.5 stars

I've had this on the shelf longer than I've been an LT member, maybe 15 years? I expect this will be my deepest ROOT of the year.

Maio 11, 9:10pm

Congrats on finishing Moby Dick! That is a fantastic achievement.

Maio 11, 11:13pm

>103 mstrust:
Well done, you

Editado: Maio 12, 12:01pm

>104 rabbitprincess: >105 Nickelini: Thank you both! I does feel like I've accomplished something :-D

Maio 13, 5:36pm

>103 mstrust: Congrats, Jennifer, glad you loved Moby Dick almost as much as I did.

I still have many books on the shelves pre-2008 (when I joined LT). Somehow it feels very good when I have read one of those.

Maio 13, 6:15pm

Thanks, Anita!
I have lots of pre-LT books staring at me from the shelf. I joined in 2008 too. I think the problem is either that I've looked at them for so long that they become part of the wall or they aren't new and exciting any more, but I still intend to read them "someday".

Maio 16, 6:09am

I joined LT in November 2009. And have pre-2009 books unread too. In fact I'm reading one now.

Editado: Maio 16, 9:58am

26. Elizabeth by Ken Greenhall.The story of the depraved, wealthy family of Cuttners, as told by their most twisted member, fourteen year-old Elizabeth, who instigates most of the craziness. In the first chapter she tells the reader that she's living at her grandmother's because she's killed her parents. In the second chapter she tells the reader that her uncle is her lover. There's a long list of personality disorders with Elizabeth and Uncle James, but it's impossible to guess what's going to happen next as Elizabeth is getting instructions from Frances, the 400 year old witch in the mirror.
Take The Bad Seed and mix it with Lolita, then add in the urban legend of Bloody Mary. This book is called a "forgotten classic". It should be as well-known as The Bad Seed as the writing is just as good and the story as scary. The bizarre atmosphere the Cuttners live in shadows everything they do, even when we first meet James, who comes knocking on the locked cabin screen door when Elizabeth's parents are at the lake.
I stepped back from the door and waited to see what James would do. I suppose you think I was being childish, but it was more than that. James liked to perform little desperate acts. The circumstances of his life were purposely odd and messy, and they forced him to behave desperately. That pleased him and I liked to add to his pleasure.

I would guess this will be the craziest story I read all year. 4 stars
I read this for this month's ScaredyKit. It's my newest ROOT. I bought it in February at The Writer's Block.

Maio 16, 9:59am

>109 connie53: Way to go, making the effort to get to those really old ROOTs!

Editado: Maio 20, 3:01pm

27. High Tech and Hot Pot: Encounters and Escapades Inside China by Stephan Orth. Orth is a German travel writer. For this book he used the Couchsurfing app to meet most of the people who became his travel guides, logging in and looking for people who would give him a bed for a couple of nights and show him their neighborhoods. The variety of people he bunked with varied, from a female artist whose newly built studio was razed by the government in what she believed to be a plot to silence her controversial work, to a car dealership trainee whose apartment was so small that he and the author had to share the one bed. He stayed in a rural village with a family and was horrified to learn that they had cooked a dog to give him an honorable dinner, and he stayed in a city of nearly 10 million with a young man who was addicted to the internet and video games.

Orth had to lie in order to take this trip across the country, telling the Chinese Consulate that he had no intention of writing a book about China, that he was just visiting a friend and would see just two cities. He knew that if he admitted to his plans for a book, to meeting strangers all across the country and to informing the official about an app that allowed foreigners to sleep in Chinese homes and see ways of life the government hid from the outside world, he would be denied entry.
His journey was one of constant juxtapositions, going from modern metropolises to villages that seemed unchanged for a century. One of his app hosts turned out to be a tv host who drove Orth to a poor village in order to exploit him for her show, another turned out to be fascinated by Nazis, and another was a married policewoman who had a brief fling with the author. He also secretly interviewed probably the last person the Chinese government would want a foreign writer to meet, a government official who is also a Uyghur, the ethnic group who is currently enslaved in reeducation camps. Along the way he met many regular people who just wanted to meet a tall European.
The "tech" part of the title figures prominently in his travels as he was shocked by the level of surveillance the citizens live under, with pretty much their every move being monitored through street cameras and online monitoring of their phones and computers. One of his hosts pays for their dinner with a phone app called Sesame Credit, which is connected to Alibaba. Orth explains that the app holds all her financial records, which is translated into a point system that follows the customer throughout her life and that the government has access to it. Having high points can get you a line jump when seeing a doctor or a better response in online dating. Orth's friend knows her every move online is being watched, she's had proof and it creeps her out.

The development of Sesame Credit, and other such apps, will soon enable an almost complete surveillance of the population...
Here you can lose points by failing to pay you debts on time, for example, or driving through red traffic lights of visiting online porn sites. Conversely, those who pay rent punctually, save a child or report a crime are rewarded with points. It is almost as if somebody is sitting somewhere judging every living moment, then rating it with: good, medium or bad...A number of cities are already running pilot schemes where even political opinions are incorporated into the ratings. "It's all about what you have posted online and how your friends respond," says Simone. "...if a friend of mine criticizes the government on Weibo, it will also affect my points in the future. It's crazy that such plans haven't caused an international outcry, isn't it?"

It gives an extensive look at the wide variety of people living across China, and while some of the people he met had remained in their hometown, many he met had lived abroad and returned, out of a sense of duty to their family or the hope they could improve lives, but what they had in common was a knowledge that their government had too much control of their lives. This was an LT ER. 4 stars
This had been on my shelf for seven months. It's my twenty-seventh ROOT out of fifty books overall.

Editado: Maio 21, 1:02pm

28. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. Told by young Esperanza in short, deceptively simple chapters. Her family lives in a rundown section of Chicago and one of the first things she tells the reader is about a nun from her school making Esperanza feel ashamed of her family's rental. When her family moves to a better home she has to make new friends in the neighborhood, meeting domineering sisters Lucy and Rachel, and pretty but doomed Sally. Esperanza takes the reader around her neighborhood to introduce the residents and witness flashes of their lives. The reader begins to see, through her narration of the goings-on, that Esperanza isn't as mature as the kids her own age, and while she doesn't get through her childhood unscathed, she may ultimately be better off. 3 stars

This has been on the shelf for 3 months.

Editado: Maio 26, 2:37pm

29. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. Just before her ninth birthday, Rose discovers a terrible talent, that she can taste the feelings of whoever made the food she's eating. That she learns this while trying to eat her own mother's cooking teaches Rose that her family isn't what she thought. Her parents are kind and loving to her and her older brother, but this weird ability with food is unbearable and it extends to food she eats in school or restaurants.
But just as Rose learns to cope with her own problem, her brother, who has always kept people at a distance, begins to exhibit even stranger behavior.
A story of what goes on underneath the surface. With each chapter I thought this would be the one where the parents quietly split up. 3.5 stars
I know I've had this on the shelf for more than a year, maybe two or three.

Editado: Jun 4, 3:56pm

30. Face It by Debbie Harry. The autobiography by Harry and rock journalist Sylvie Simmons. If you're a Blondie fan, as I have been since elementary school, you'll love this. Harry's childhood, discussions about her adoption, and growing up in the 50's and then the hippie era. She talks about spending years trying out this and that, looking for something that made her happy while knowing she didn't want to get married and be normal. Harry's natural weirdness comes through even when she isn't talking about music, something that I find endearing.
She discusses meeting Chris Stein, her Blondie co-founder, co-writer and longtime boyfriend, Blondie bandmates, the infamous Hall of Fame induction and the managers who ripped them off, along with discussing the tours and meeting lots of famous people, and the start of punk at CBGB's. She is candid about drug use and rape, and her looks and aging.
This is a heavy book, both because Harry has a lot to say and because it's made with heavy cardstock. It's really heavy. There are photos, of course, but not an excessive amount, and probably even more drawings of Harry from fans that she's saved over the years. I would have given this 5 stars if not for the still unanswered questions about the band's fracturing. 4.5 stars

I've had this on the shelf for a year and a half. I'm at 30 ROOTs, 54 books overall, so I'm doing just fine.

Jun 4, 6:51pm

>115 mstrust:
I was very tempted by this one until I saw it at a book store. Its size scared me

Jun 5, 12:25pm

:-D Yes, it's not for the casual listener, you have to be a fan to spend all that time struggling to hold such a thick book open. It was certainly built to last.

Editado: Jun 7, 11:46am

31. England As You Like It by Susan Allen Toth. Toth has written several books about traveling around England, part travel guide, part memoir, they are books of slow, calming travel with lots of manor houses and gardens, usually with her husband James.
This book is geared towards the first-time traveler to England, and as it was published in 1995, much of the travel advice can be skipped as the internet has made things like writing to a historical society for pamphlets obsolete. But these first few chapters can also be read to remember how much effort had to be made back then.
Toth travels by her "thumbprint theory" which is trying to spend a week at a time in an area that covers no more than the size of her thumb on the map. While this is a good way to get to know a place better than moving around, it works best for someone who knows they will be returning often.
My favorite chapter was one about Daphne Du Maurier's area of Cornwall, seeing Menabilly, Du Maurier's home and the inspiration for Manderlay, and exploring her neighborhood. But there is also a fun chapter about shopping for biscuits and sweets at Sainsbury's and another chapter explaining why she and her husband prefer packing their own food rather than eating in restaurants. 3 stars

I noted in a thread ten years ago that I owned this, so it's a super ROOT.

Editado: Jun 12, 1:16pm

32. Middle Men: Stories by Jim Gavin. A collection of short stories about young men who are struggling to achieve but find themselves coming up short. That might sound like a depressing premise but Gavin gives each story a little dose of oddity mixed in with the reality of underachieving. The stories take the reader all over California, from San Francisco, Hollywood, Riverside, and on the freeways.
In "Play The Man" a highschooler gets kicked off his basketball team because he's an average player on a team of future greats, which leads to him transferring to a mediocre school with a mediocre team where he can be the star player.
In "Elephant Doors", Adam finally gets a good job in show biz as an assistant on a long-running quiz show with a legendary host. He's been pursuing stand-up for years and getting nowhere, so he's happy to finally have a paycheck, a cool new friend and some tiny status, but he is always taken aback by the famous host's weird conversations.
The title story was what I was hoping for. Gavin was the creator of one of the best shows ever, Lodge 49, and in this story there's a lot of the surreal quality and unique personalities that ended up in the show a few years after this book was published. It's about Matt, who was adrift and depressed after his mom's death until his father pulled strings and got Matt a sales position in the plumbing supply industry. After a year in this job he has no interest in or talent for, Matt meets old-timer Larry, who pulls back the curtain to show Matt the movers and shakers in the toilet racket and explains how deals get done in such a cutthroat trade.
4.2 stars
I've had this for six months.

Jun 13, 2:52pm

Hey there! I just caught up with your thread, here. I agree with all who have voiced admiration for Thursday Next. Talk about imagination well rendered! Also, nice review of Hippos. I agree with your assessment: fun, but mostly an historical curiosity. All in all, very entertaining reviews. Cheers!

Jun 13, 4:33pm

Hi, Jerry, I'm glad you found me!
And aren't you nice? I sometimes worry that I'll give too much away, so I'm often more tight-lipped in my reviews than I'd like to be, but I'm very happy if anyone finds them helpful or entertaining.

Editado: Jun 16, 4:11pm

33. Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor. Published in 1971, this is the story of the residents at the Claremont Hotel in London, a long-term residence for elderly people who, for one reason or another, find themselves in the hotel's shabby elegance until it's time to go to a nursing home. Mrs Palfrey is widowed with one daughter living in Scotland who has never invited her mother to live with her because, as they both know but don't say, they don't really like each other. Mrs Palfrey's grandson lives in London and works at the British Museum, but can't be bothered to visit. These hotel residents have sharp eyes, and some have sharp tongues. The constant badgering of Mrs Palfrey to explain why her grandson hasn't visited is recognized as a humiliation to the elderly group of regulars, and leads her to a small deceit to save face.
While the story rests mostly with Mrs Palfrey, each resident is dealing with their loneliness and exclusion from families that find their age an inconvenience. 4.5 stars

I've had this eight or nine months.

Jun 16, 4:18pm

Jun 16, 4:41pm

>122 mstrust:
I loved Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont. Wonderful, although also depressing.

>123 mstrust:
That's quite the picture and title!

Jun 17, 3:40pm

Mrs Palfrey is certainly sad and could easily depress. But Taylor was such a writer that I never wanted to stop reading.
I think the book title could be called The Macbeth Method of career advancement. Surely it's effective.

Editado: Jun 23, 5:05pm

34. Mr. Monk Goes to Hawaii by Lee Goldberg. Unwilling to let his assistant Natalie get away to Hawaii for her best friend's wedding, which would leave him without anyone to drive him and hand him disinfectant wipes, Monk drugs himself up and gets on the plane to Hawaii. They're halfway through the flight before Natalie realizes he's onboard and that her vacation is ruined.
Monk also manages to ruin the wedding, drive the hotel staff up the wall, solve a string of burglaries and a murder, and is determined to expose a tv psychic as a fraud. He visits many famous Hawaiian spots and a luau too, all against his will.
This series of Monk novels, mostly written by Goldberg, are really fun, and since the author was also a writer for the show he voices the characters perfectly.
I've had this for a year or two.

Jul 4, 8:58am

Happy 4th!

Editado: Jul 4, 9:15am

35. The Sleep Tight Motel by Lisa Unger. Maddie is in the middle of nowhere, driving an old beater that is about to breakdown. She's trying to outrun Erik, her scary boyfriend, who is maybe a day behind her but gaining fast and sending threatening text messages that tell her she can't escape him. As her gas tank is nearly empty and she's exhausted, Maddie pulls into the Sleep Tight Motel, a little place along the interstate run by Drew, a lonely man who couldn't be nicer. But between the two of them they can't figure out why Maddie keeps hearing screaming and scuffling in the empty room next door.
A kind of re-imagining of Psycho, but with a big twist at the end. I read this on Kindle, it's part of their Dark Corners collection. I don't know if this is considered a novella or a long short story. It's the first I've read by this author. 4 stars
This has been on my Kindle for more than six months.

Jul 5, 7:26am

>111 mstrust: Thanks Jennifer!

>114 mstrust: On my digital shelves somewhere and placed on my soon to read list

>123 mstrust: I had to smile when I saw the that title!

Jul 5, 9:20am

Hi, Connie!
I have to admit that my ROOTs are taking a backseat for the moment. Since a bought a new Kindle a few weeks ago that came with four months of their Kindle Unlimited free reads, so I'm gobbling those up as fast as I can before the deal expires. Still reading ROOTs, just not as fast.

Jul 5, 9:36am

>130 mstrust: very understandable, I would do that too. Free books! duh!

Jul 5, 9:45am

Ha! I'm feeling greedy about them, like I'm stuffing my face with cake!

Jul 6, 11:20am

>128 mstrust: That sounds creepy but fun!

Jul 6, 11:48am

I really liked it and I'll read more from the author. I know she's popular but I tend to avoid bestsellers.

Jul 8, 4:08am

>128 mstrust:

That sounds real interesting, Jennifer. I've read some books by her, but this one is not translated. A pity cause I think it's a story I would like.

Jul 8, 12:38pm

I'm surprised it hasn't been translated, she's such a popular author. Maybe Amazon will release it in a Dark Corners anthology?

Editado: Hoje, 11:31am

36. Mr Monk Goes to the Firehouse by Lee Goldberg. When the local firehouse dog is found murdered, Natalie's twelve year-old daughter is so upset that she asks Natalie's boss, San Francisco's consulting detective Adrian Monk, to investigate. There's no doubt the dog was murdered, and it happened while the entire crew was working on a house fire in which the resident died. Well, Monk just has to investigate that too, and learns that the whole street is overjoyed that the nosy old lady is dead, because she was the one keeping them from a huge payday. Which means there are lots of people with motives.
The first of the Monk novels, he's as funny and aggravating as you'd find in the tv series.
This has been on the shelf for a year.