Cindy/LibraryCin's 2023 Reads

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Cindy/LibraryCin's 2023 Reads

Dez 31, 2022, 1:49 pm

My challenges are over on this thread:

I'm using this thread for planning and keeping track of my page total. (In addition to reviews, of course.)

Editado: Jan 30, 9:56 pm

For January:

- Ivan the Remarkable / Kathleen A (KiddyCAT, AlphaKIT)
- Pride and Prejudice and Zombies / Seth Grahame-Smith (ScaredyKIT, AlphaKIT)
- Deal Breaker / Harlan Coben
(PBT 15th)
- Ruby Red / Kristin Gier (SeriesCAT)
- Sugarhouse / Matthew Batt (RandomKIT, AlphaKIT)
- Stuffed and Starved / Raj Patel
(PBT, AlphaKIT)
- The Big Skinny / Carol Lay (PBT)
- Don't Throw It Out / Lori Baird (PBT trim)
- The Boy / Betty Jane Hegerat (Subdue the Shelf)
- Neighbours to the Birds /
(Reading Thru Time)

- Halfbreed / Maria Campbell
- Horrorstor / G H (ScaredyKIT)
- Lethal White / Robert Galbraith

- A Death at the Party / Amy Stuart (Netgalley)
- The Other Family Doctor / Karen Fine (Netgalley)
- How I'll Kill You / Ren DeStefano (Netgalley)
- A Walk in the Dark / Pamela Kiami (Early Reviewers)

Jan 2, 8:54 am

Happy Reading, Cindy, 🙂.

Jan 2, 1:40 pm

>3 Sergeirocks: Thank you!

Jan 3, 10:59 pm

1. Deal Breaker / Harlan Coben
4 stars
281 pages

Myron Bolitar is a sports agent, and he represents Christian Steele. Christian’s girlfriend disappeared over a year ago and was presumed dead, when Christian receives a phone call supposedly coming from her, so Christian calls Myron for help. It appears that her naked body is also now in an ad in a porn magazine with very low circulation, and this magazine has been sent to Christian and a few others. Myron also used to date Kathy’s sister, Jessica. More recently, Kathy and Jessica’s dad was murdered, but the police have chalked that up to a robbery and not related.

I had forgotten that I’d already read one other book in this series, although this is the first in the series (unusual for me to read out of order). I wasn’t sure I’d like it with all the references to sports, but I still did. And there were a lot of sports references. But the mystery and what happened to Kathy kept me interested. And even the sports negotiations and such were interesting (there was another story thread about another one of Myron’s clients, as well) – or more likely, what was happening around those negotiations was interesting. I liked Jessica and her relationship with Myron; not too sure about Myron’s friend, Win, though – he’s a bit scary! I’m still not convinced this series will be nearly as good as Coben’s standalones, but I will definitely continue this series to see where it goes.

Cumulative page total = 281

Jan 4, 11:11 pm

2. Halfbreed / Maria Campbell
3 stars
184 pages

The author grew up in Saskatchewan; she is Metis (or “halfbreed” is the word she uses: part Cree (indigenous), and part European), descended from Gabriel Dumont. Her family was poor and she never really got out of the poverty, even as she married, had kids, moved to B.C. and Alberta, etc. She also ended up drinking, doing drugs… I think prostitution, too, but (unless I missed it), she only hinted at it.

I maybe made a mistake in listening to the audio. Maria herself read it, but she has a very monotone voice. I thought that I was still able to focus in the first half or so of the book, but I did miss things as the book continued, and I suspect I missed more earlier in the book than I originally thought.

Cumulative page total = 465

Jan 7, 11:30 pm

3. Ivan: the Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla / Katherine Applegate
4 stars
38 pages

This is a picture book about Ivan, a gorilla poached as a baby and brought to the U.S. to live, first with a family until he was too big, then he lived for almost three decades in a mall by himself. From there, he was taken to a zoo to live the rest of his life with other gorillas in a more natural habitat.

I loved the YA book “The One and Only Ivan”. This is a really nice children’s story about the same gorilla with such a sad life. There are some really great illustrations. Despite it being so short and succinct (it’s a kid’s book, and no surprise, really), this one still had me crying a couple of times. There are a few pages at the end with a longer textual summary of Ivan’s life and a note from one of the zookeeper’s who took care of him in his last decade of life.

Cumulative page total = 503

Jan 8, 12:00 am

4. Pride & Prejudice & Zombies / Seth Grahame-Smith, Jane Austen
3.25 stars
339 pages

I don’t think a summary is really needed for this one, but not only are the Bennett sisters looking for husbands with the help of their mother, but the girls in this book are also all trained (they’ve been to the Orient and have a dojo for further training) to fight zombies – those with the “plague”.

This was ok. It does surprise me that I rated the original so high, as on parodies such as this, the story itself seems so slow and not something I would usually like. I suppose I was in the right frame of mind when I first read it? Anyway, with the addition of the zombies, a couple of big fight scenes livened things up a bit! I was also amused with Charlotte’s illness. The zombies did seem quite out of place in the book. The notes at the end of the book were interesting and one did touch on how it might not have been so out of place to add zombies into the book with the popularity of gothic fiction at the time it was written. The other fun extra at the end was a list of “discussion” questions – now those were amusing!

Cumulative page total = 842

Jan 8, 6:42 am

>5 LibraryCin: I love the Myron Bolitar series for the humour (can often make me laugh out loud). Win is a superb character as the series progresses and you get to know him and some great additional characters around them. To be honest the sports element is a very peripheral part and it is more about the mystery element. Hope you have a good 2023.

Jan 8, 12:45 pm

>9 Andrew-theQM: Good to know about Win! I did find some things amusing, as well, but didn't mention it in the review.

Jan 9, 11:00 pm

5. The Boy / Betty Jane Hegerat
4 stars
283 pages

This book is a combination fiction, memoir, and true crime. The author goes back and forth between telling her fictional story… which (in some ways) mimics the true crime portion of the story as she writes about her research into the crime. The chapters alternate between the fiction and the memoir.

The fictional story is set in the 90s, and is from the POV of a woman, Louise, marrying a man, Jake, who has a 12-year old son, Daniel. Louise is a teacher and knows that Daniel often gets into trouble, so she is concerned about how this will go as she becomes his stepmother. The true crime portion of the story is about a boy (Bobby Cook) in small town Alberta who, in his 20s, was convicted and hanged in 1960 for murdering his family: his father, stepmother, and five younger half-siblings. This was the last execution in Alberta.

It seems kind of an odd mix, but it worked really well for me. I liked that the character Louise would “talk” to the author, usually in between chapters, but occasionally in the memoir chapters, as well, as Louise and the author Betty figured out what the fictional Louise’s story would be and how similar it would be to Bobby Cook’s story. I liked both the fictional story, and I found the true crime portion of the story quite interesting, as well. Might have to look further into Robert Raymond Cook.

Cumulative page total = 1,125

Jan 14, 10:43 pm

6. Stuffed and Starved / Raj Patel
3.5 stars
373 pages

The title of the book comes from the fact that as more and more people are becoming overweight, there is also a larger number of people who are starving. The author has done a lot of research for this book, looking at our increasingly corporate food system, where so much of every step of our food is produced and brought to our plates via businesses in it for the profit only. There is a lot of focus on the farmers (many commit suicide as it’s harder and harder to make a living) around the world. There are chapters on genetically-modified foods, on the supermarket, Mexico, Brazil, corn, soy, and much more.

The author has actually worked fro the WTO (World Trade Organization) and the World Bank, both are mentioned (generally, not in a good way) in this book. There is a lot to take in in this book. Mostly interesting stuff here. He does end with some suggestions to try to make things better, but the sad part is corporations that make a lot of money won’t go for it, and though you’d like to think governments will step up, over and over that doesn’t happen with money from those large corporations funding the politicians.

Cumulative page total = 1,498

Jan 19, 10:26 pm

7. Lethal White / Robert Galbraith
4 stars
650 pages

Robin is just married and away when a man who is obviously having a psychotic episode comes in to Cormorant Strike’s office saying he saw a little kid murdered years ago when he himself was younger, but the man soon disappears. Meanwhile, a politician comes to Strike to help him find “dirt” on someone the politician says is blackmailing him.

I listened to the audio and thought it was really good. I did miss a couple of things near the beginning, I think, so I was briefly confused, but I got past that. And for the most part, I really liked it and wanted to know how this was going to play out (and how are these two stories connected?). Although I have to admit sometimes I find the personal stuff going on in these books to me just as interesting or more interesting that the mystery itself!

Cumulative page total = 2148

Jan 21, 11:50 pm

8. Neighbors to the Birds / Felton Gibbons, Deborah Strom
3 stars
350 pages

There is more than a history of birdwatching here (as described in the subtitle). Much of the first part of the book includes biographical information about many naturalists and birdwatchers from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Other chapters include artwork of birds (not on-the-wall art, but artwork in publications and field guides), women naturalists/birdwatchers, the Audobon “movement”, conservation, literature, and more.

This was ok. Although I do also like biographies and history, some of this was a bit dry and didn’t hold my attention. It was the biographical parts that were of less interest to me, though the rest was a bit more interesting. I quite enjoyed the art chapter with all the pictures included. Really, this book wasn’t so much about the birds themselves – a bit, but maybe more about the people who watched and/or studied them.

Cumulative page total = 2498

Jan 22, 10:15 pm

9. Sugarhouse / Matthew Batt
3.5 stars
205 pages

Matthew Batt and his wife Jenae are in Salt Lake City and looking to buy a home. Unfortunately, they can’t afford what they really want, so they end up with a (huge!) fixer-upper. It is only after they are renovating they find out that the house used to be a crackhouse. Oh, and they aren’t particularly handy people, but do the bulk of the work themselves.

Interspersed with their house dilemmas, Matt’s grandmother passes away, so Matt and his mom have to help out Matt’s grandfather, a playboy who really just wants to be with Tonya, the home care nurse who took care of his wife when she was alive.

It maybe doesn’t sound like the more interesting part of the story, but I liked the renovating of the house portions of the story better. I’m actually not quite sure how the two stories fit together, except I suppose that the things that happened with Matt’s family really were happening at the time. There were plenty of humourous bits, maybe more humourous because super-non-handy me could relate. I’m sure they managed to do a heck of a lot more than I ever could have, even with help from friends! Overall, I liked it.

Cumulative page total = 2703

Jan 26, 5:21 pm

10. Horrorstor / Grady Hendrix
3.75 stars
248 pages

Amy works at a big box furniture store called Orsk. Odd things have been happening in the store overnight – vandalism and such. Amy is asked, along with another employee, Ruth-Ann, to stay overnight to keep watch with their supervisor, Basil, to see if they can find out what’s happening. Things take a bad turn…

Extra ¼ star for the audio – loved the Orsk “ads”, and they got better as the book went along (to kind of fit what was happening in the book). I particularly liked the last ad, and it was Bronson Pinchot doing those. The story was less horror in the first half, more mystery? And humour. I really liked how it ended.

Cumulative page total = 2951

Jan 26, 5:40 pm

11. By Book or By Crook / Eva Gates
4 stars
232 pages

Lucy has left her family and former fiancee behind in Boston, as well as her librarian job at Harvard. She is thrilled to be the new (assistant) librarian at a lighthouse library in a small town in North Carolina. But while at a party to open a Jane Austen exhibit when Lucy is just starting to meet people, the chair of the library board is murdered. He seemed to be arguing with a lot of people at the party, including Lucy (he didn’t think another librarian was needed) and the head librarian, who of course, had hired Lucy. Bertie, the head librarian, was found in the room with the murdered man and the murder weapon in her hands by Lucy. Lucy is convinced Bertie would never do such a thing.

I really enjoyed this. Loved the setting of the library inside the lighthouse. I also liked (most of) the characters. I will absolutely be continuing this cozy series. I want to see what happens with Lucy and Butch… or Lucy and Connor! And, of course, I loved Charles, the library cat.

Cumulative page total = 3183

Editado: Mar 1, 10:44 pm

Plan for Feb:

- Rescued: Saving Animals... / Allan Anderson (Reading Through Time)
- The Sister Season / Jennifer Scott (AlphaKIT, Roundtuits)
- Ruby Red / Kirstin Gier (SeriesCAT)
- The Searcher / Tana French
- An Unwanted Guest / Shari Lapena (MysteryKIT)
- The Broken Girls / Simone St. James (ScaredyKIT)
- Dewey Decimal System of Love / Josephine Carr (PBT Candle, AlphaKIT)
- Chief Piapot / Vincent McKay (PBT Trim)
- Perfect Match / Jodi Picoult
- The Time Traveller's Guide to Elizabethan England / Ian Mortimer (PBT)

- Chomp / Carl Hiaasen (KiddyCAT)
- All Things Wise and Wonderful / James Herriott (Read Thru Time, PBT, AlphaKIT)
- Alcatraz vs the Scrivener's Bones / Brandon Sanderson (KiddyCAT, RandomKIT)
- Mambo in Chinatown / Jean Kwok
(AlphaKIT, Roundtuits)

- Last Winter / Carrie Mac (Netgalley)
- A Death at the Party / Amy Stuart (Netgalley)
- The Other Family Doctor / Karen Fine
(Netgalley, AlphaKIT)
- How I'll Kill You / Ren DeStefano (Netgalley)
- A Walk in the Dark / Pamela Kiami (Early Reviewers)
- Wolvercraft Manor / Cas E. Crowe (ER)

Jan 28, 12:34 pm

>18 LibraryCin: I love the Herriot books. When I was 6th grade or so my mother's friend loaned me the books cause she knew I loved to read. I am loving the re-making of the original TV series!

Jan 28, 3:32 pm

>19 JulieLill: I have never seen the tv series. I only heard about the book a few years back when I started reading them. :-)

Editado: Jan 28, 11:26 pm

12. White Chrysanthemum / Mary Lynn Bracht
4 stars
261 pages

It is during WWII, and 16-year old Hana is a haenyeo with her mother in he water on Jeju Island in Korea when she is stolen from the beach in an effort to protect her younger sister from the soldier Hana spotted. She is taken with other young girls to a brothel in Manchuria to “service” the soldiers (these girls/women are later known as “comfort women”). In 2011, an older woman, Emi, is still haenyeo, but has two middle-aged children in Seoul. Emi has kept plenty of secrets from her children about her life when she was younger.

I was not prepared for the amount of violence and rape. I must have known that would be the case when I added it to my tbr, but often, between the time of adding a book to my tbr and actually reading it, I forget what the book is about. I only remembered it being about haenyeo (women divers in Korea). That being said, although I learned about haenyeo in Lisa See’s book, I didn’t know about “comfort women”; the two books have a different focus.

I often like one storyline more than the other in these dual timeline books, but although Hana’s story is the more jarring and powerful of the two (I often “like” those better), I think Emi’s story gave me a bit of a break from Hana’s abuse. Oddly, although I often don’t like unrealistic endings, this one didn’t bother me (and the author explains in her note why she ended it this way). Overall, I thought this was very good.

Cumulative page total = 3444

Jan 30, 9:55 pm

13. Don't Throw It Out: Recycle, Renew, and Reuse to Make Things Last / Lori Baird
3 stars
370 pages

The title of the book kind of says it all. It’s more of a reference book to check when you have something you might need to fix or if it’s time to get rid of, you can look up some alternate ways to use those things.

There are lots of suggestions in the book, some of which I already know about or do. Many, though, (especially the fixes, but even some of the maintenance to help things last longer) require someone handier than I. I am not handy at all. That being said, I do plan to hold on to the book so I can check if there is something I might be able to do with something when it’s time to get rid of it. I already try to use most things until they die.

Cumulative page total = 3814

Jan 31, 11:36 pm

14. Chomp / Carl Hiaasen
4 stars
304 pages

Mickey and his son Wahoo take care of animals that are used on screen. When reality survival star Derek Badger wants to hire their alligator, Alice, to “wrestle” with for his tv show, Mickey is not impressed with Derek. Even “better” is when Derek decides he wants to really head to the wild in the Everglades to do some filming. Wahoo’s friend, Tuna, who is running from her abusive father, comes along with them.

Ah, plenty of humour here, but also frustration with the idiot Derek! (And how he treats the animals… I was right there with Mickey with regard to the annoyance/frustration on that!) Enjoyed the read about how scripted reality shows can be, too. I would actually love to read about these characters again – Mickey and Wahoo, anyway. I really liked them (and how they are with the animals). I listened to the audio narrated by James Van Der Beek, and it was done very well.

Cumulative page total = 4118

Fev 2, 11:48 pm

15. Last Winter / Carrie Mac
3.5 stars
400 pages

Early in the book, we learn that 5 children died in an avalanche. One adult also died. 8-year old Ruby was one of 2 children who made it out alive, along with one other adult.

Leading up to the avalanche, we follow Ruby, her mother Fiona, who has a mental illness, and Ruby’s father Gus, who is a former Olympic snowboarder and now runs a backcountry guiding company and was one of the adults on the trip when the avalanche happened. Fiona and Gus’s relationship is in bad shape and they fight a lot. Fiona often does not take her medication, so is quite shocking in some of the things she says and does with friends.

It took me a long time to get “into” the book. It was hard to follow for the first 1/3 to ½ of the book, as there were a lot of characters I had trouble keeping straight (who was who, and how are they “related”?). There were also a couple of shifts in time that I struggled with. Fiona was extremely unlikable; I guess I should try to have more sympathy, but it’s hard when she won’t take her mediation. But, the book really picked up in the second half as the avalanche hit, along with the aftermath.

Cumulative page total = 4518

Fev 5, 5:31 pm

16. Perfect Match / Jodi Picoult
3.75 stars
366 pages

Nina is a lawyer, a prosecutor who usually takes on child sexual abuse cases. She is horrified (this happens very early in the book, so not a spoiler) when her 5-year old son, Nathanial, stops talking and she learns that he was molested. She knows how traumatic it is for kids to have to testify to put their molester away and if they are convicted, they aren’t in jail for nearly long enough.

This drew me in right away with the intro/set up, but I didn’t like the ending (I took ¼ star off for the end). I didn’t like many of the things Nina did/didn’t agree with her logic for some of it; I did, for the most part, agree with her husband Caleb and how he saw things. I learned something new about DNA that I found that very interesting. There were a few twists, and I did figure a couple of them out ahead of time (but not all).

Cumulative page total = 4884

Fev 6, 11:01 pm

17. Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones / Brandon Sanderson
2.5 stars
322 pages

Listened to the audio of this one and really couldn’t tell you the plot of the story. All I know is that Alcatraz (and a cousin(?), Bastille) ended up at the Library of Alexandria, where the curators (skeleton(?) librarians) require the signing over of a soul in order to check out a book. I think they were looking for Alcatraz’s mother (or father or maybe Bastille’s mother?). Not too sure.

Ok, so it’s been a long time since I read the first in the series, but I gave it 4.5 stars! This one is only rated as high as it is for the humourous bits when Alcatraz was talking directly to the reader (not usually to do with the story, itself), and the stuff about the “evil” librarians (I am a librarian, so I did find that very entertaining!). Listening to the audio, though, those were the only parts where I was interested enough to pay attention. I have found that many (most?) adventure does not translate well for me on audio. No idea what the story actually was about. Not sure if I want to continue. I probably should give the next one a chance, but not on audio (let’s hope I remember that!).

Cumulative page total = 5206

Fev 11, 11:20 pm

18. The Searcher / Tana French
3.5 stars
452 pages

Cal is a retired police officer from Chicago who has moved to a small town in Ireland. He has a fixer-upper of a house, but is disturbed by someone creeping around the house. It’s not long before he finds out it’s a local 13-year old, Trey. Trey is not terribly trusting, but on finding out Cal was a cop, he asks Cal to look for his missing older (19-year old) brother, Brandon, who disappeared after simply walking away about 6 months previous. Brandon, who was so close to Trey, and Trey doesn’t believe Brandon would have left on purpose without saying anything.

This was a good story, and I liked the setting and some of the supporting characters, but it did move quite slowly. So, this was not as good as her other books, in my opinion. That being said, I liked the characters enough that I would be happy to read a sequel if there is ever one published.

Cumulative page total = 5658

Fev 12, 10:52 pm

19. The Broken Girls / Simone St. James
4.25 stars
293 pages

At Idlewild Hall, a boarding school in Vermont in 1950, a girl is returning (early) from a visit with family off-campus. It’s night, and no one was expecting her back early. As she walks across the schoolyard, something catches her eye. Scared, she starts running, but she never makes it back.

In 2014, Fiona is a reporter with bad memories of that school from 1994 (though the school closed in 1979) – Fiona’s sister was murdered and her body found in the schoolyard. Although, the guy was caught, convicted and is in jail, Fiona just can’t get past this. When she learns that someone has bought the school and wants to refurbish it and reopen it, she gets permission to do a story on it. Her investigations lead her to not only discover what happened in 1950, it puts her in danger as she also learns more about her sister’s murder.

This was really good! The 1950 portions of the story are told from four different points of view – four friends/roommates at Idlewild Hall. In these portions, we learn the backstories for each of the girls, plus we follow them for a month or two leading up to the disappearance of the one returning from her off-campus visit. There is creepiness all around the school. Although Fiona’s story doesn’t initially sound as interesting as the girls in 1950, I really liked both timelines and thought it all came together really nicely at the end.

Cumulative page total = 5951

Fev 13, 5:38 pm

>28 LibraryCin: Loved this book.

Fev 15, 10:39 pm

20. Mambo in Chinatown / Jean Kwok
4 stars
384 pages

Charlie lives in Chinatown in New York City with her father and sister, Lisa. Her mother (formerly a dancer) died when Charlie was younger. Charlie is 22-years old and Lisa is much younger (middle school/junior high?).

Charlie hates her job dishwashing, and has never been good as a receptionist, but she is able to get a new job as a receptionist at a ballroom dance studio. She is still not good at it, but when the studio is very short of teachers, she steps in to find herself a really good teacher (though she is barely a step ahead of the students when it comes to the dancing!).

Meanwhile, Lisa’s health is taking a turn for the worse. They aren’t sure what’s wrong, but their father refuses to have anything to do with Western medicine and will only have Lisa treated by their uncle, who practices Chinese medicine.

I really enjoyed this! I listened to the audio and it (fairly easily) held my interest. I definitely got frustrated with Charlie’s dad. I really liked Ryan, one of Charlie’s students, and Nina, another dance teacher at the studio, who became friends with Charlie. I thought the author did a good job with the ballroom stuff (turns out she has done ballroom professionally), as (though it’s been a number of years), I took lessons off and on for 15 years myself.

Cumulative page total = 6335

Fev 16, 10:31 pm

21. Rescued: Saving Animals from Disaster / Allen & Linda Anderson
3.5 stars
358 pages

This book looks at the volunteers and organizations that went to help the animals left behind when people evacuated New Orleans for Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It also looks at disaster planning for animals (which was pretty much nonexistent at the time), and how that could change going forward.

I had it in my head that this would look at more than just the one disaster, but I guess there was enough for the book with just Katrina and aftermath. It was chaos. It was hard to understand why some people were turned away due to not being “trained” (so some volunteers went “rogue”), but later in the book they explained why that would be the case. And untrained people can help elsewhere (as opposed to going door to door in a boat to pull animals out of the houses). Not surprisingly, the stories of specific people and their pets were the most interesting here. Overall, it was good.

Cumulative page total = 6693

Fev 20, 3:03 pm

22. To Hold the Crown / Jean Plaidy
3.5 stars
376 pages

The Wars of the Roses is over, with Elizabeth (House of York) having married Henry VII (House of Lancaster) to join the two warring houses for the crown of England. This book starts when Elizabeth is pregnant with her first child (Arthur) and ends with Henry’s death. It follows the births of all their children; the two “pretenders” to the crown pretending to be Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville’s missing princes from the tower – the “rightful” heirs; Katherine of Aragon’s marriage to Arthur and subsequent betrothal to the soon-to-be Henry VIII. Henry VII was always concerned about someone coming along to claim the throne.

It was good, but – especially at first – I found it a bit hard to follow as it followed many different viewpoints of many different characters and transitioned without any indication of a transition! I think it got a bit easier once we were following Henry VIII and his generation, as I know the people and characters better, so I could figure it out. The story moved forward very quickly, as years would pass with only a sentence or two (or nothing, and it’s a few years later).

Cumulative page total = 7069

Fev 22, 10:48 pm

23. The Barren Grounds / David A. Robertson
2.25 stars
256 pages

Morgan and Eli are indigenous kids, foster kids in a white home. Morgan is a sulky teenager, always in a bad mood, and Eli is younger. When they hide in the attic one day, Eli has a drawing he puts up on the wall that comes to life and pulls them through to another world of talking animals and learning of their indigenous culture.

Fantasy, talking animals – definitely not my thing. At first, I really did not like Morgan (sulky, complaining teenagers), but I would have been happier with a story in the real world. I listened to the audio and tuned out much of the other world stuff. I had a gist of some of what was going on, but it just wasn’t that interesting to me. And… talking animals. No.

Cumulative page total = 7325

Editado: Fev 22, 11:10 pm

24. The Other Family Doctor / Karen Fine
4.5 stars
244 pages

Karen Fine is a veterinarian and this is a memoir that includes her grandfather (human) doctor in South Africa, vet school, her marriage, and the lives and deaths of a few of her pets, in addition to a few stories of clients, as well as connecting with (human) clients, alternate medicines, behind-the-scenes being a vet, and more.

I really liked this. This was so much more than your usual vet stories of clients and their pets, and I especially liked that about this book. Of course, her pets dying had me sobbing, but that’s not a surprise.

Cumulative page total = 7569

Fev 25, 8:58 pm

>31 LibraryCin: I either read this book or another one about the Katrina disaster maybe a decade ago, though I don't think I ever reviewed it. I was (and still am) so heartbroken about the animals separated from their humans during that time.

It seems like rescuing pets are part of disaster rescues now, in part because of Katrina. Thanks for your review.

Fev 25, 10:15 pm

25. Ruby Red / Kerstin Gier
4 stars
324 pages

Gwyneth and Charlotte are cousins, born only 1 day apart. Based on their genes and Charlotte’s date of birth, Charlotte is expected, and has been training all her life, to be the family’s next time traveller. So, it’s a surprise when Gwyneth is suddenly transported to another time!

I really liked this. Although I didn’t initially like Gwyneth’s time travel partner, Gideon, he grew on me. It did bother me some, though, that no one seemed to think they needed to now train Gwyneth on those things Charlotte had been learning. I realize that it would not be nearly as much training, since the time travel is now already happening with Gwyneth, but it sure would have been some help, I would think!. The book also didn’t quite end. I believe it is a trilogy (it is definitely continued), so although I often leave a gap between books in a series, I’d like to try to get to the next one before too much time passes.

Cumulative total = 7893

Fev 26, 2:39 pm

26. Dewey Decimal System of Love / Josephine Carr
3 stars
260 pages

Ally is a librarian at the Free Library of Philadelphia. When she attends a symphony, she immediately falls in “love” with the conductor, whom she has never met, and not only that, he is married. She manages to get a volunteer position with the orchestra, so is able to see him more often. Meanwhile, his wife comes in to the library doing research to write a book.

Ally fit all kinds of librarian stereotypes, and initially I found it funny (I’m a librarian, too, and I fit some of those same stereotypes), but she just went way over the top. I also wasn’t crazy about the ending (although, I suppose, better than the alternative?). Overall, I’m rating it ok for the few parts I enjoyed.

Cumulative page total = 8153

Editado: Mar 30, 10:56 pm

Plan for March:

- Beyond the Burning Time / Kathryn Lasky (KiddyCAT)
- Red Lily / Nora Roberts (MysteryKIT)
- The Other People / C.J. Tudor (MysteryKIT)
- Game / Barry Lyga (SeriesCAT, AlphaKIT)
- Ashen Winter / Mike Mullen (SeriesCAT, AlphaKIT)
- Garbage Man / Joseph D'Lacey
- Chills / Mary SanGiovanni (ScaredyKIT)
- The Johnstown Flood / David McCullough (RandomKIT)
- The Borden Murders / Sarah Miller (Reading Through Time)
- The Courts of Love / Jean Plaidy (PBT Candle, PBT Trim)
- The Wagoner / C. A. Simonsen (Subdue the Shelf)
- The Rape of Nanking / Iris Chang

(con't) - All Things Wise and Wonderful / James Herriott (Read Thru Time (Feb))
- The Fountainhead / Ayn Rand (Apr book club, AlphaKIT)
- Curse of the Blue Tattoo / L.A. Meyer (KiddyCAT, SeriesCAT)

- How I'll Kill You / Ren DeStefano (Netgalley)
- A Walk in the Dark / Pamela Kiami (Early Reviewers)
- Homecoming / Kate Morton (Netgalley)
- Wolvercraft Manor / Cas E. Crowe (ER)

Fev 27, 11:03 pm

27. A Death at the Party / Amy Stuart
4.5 stars
218 pages

In the first chapter, we learn that the hostess of our party has killed someone (but we don’t know who!) in the basement as the party happens upstairs. We then back up to the start of the day and progress until we find out what happened and who died and why. Nadine is our hostess, married, with two teenage kids. Nadine’s mother (Marilyn) is a famous author and it’s her 60th birthday.

Nadine insists on hosting a party for her, although Marilyn isn’t that excited about parties, and not only that, Nadine’s aunt/Marilyn’s younger sister (Colleen) was found dead at her mother’s 30th birthday party (Colleen was only 15 at the time – there was a 15 year difference between the sisters and Nadine was closer in age to Colleen than Marilyn was). Throughout the story, we not only lead up to the birthday party, we flashback in time to learn about Nadine and Colleen’s relationship and what happened 30 years ago.

I really liked this! I was pulled in right away and wanted to keep reading (and mostly did – I finished the bulk of the story in one (weekend) day!). It was hard to know if Nadine herself was reliable, though. She had had an accident previously, and though primarily it was her hip that was injured, she had head injuries, as well, that she was still recovering from. There was one twist that I feel like I should have seen coming, but I just didn’t. (But it’s always more fun NOT to figure it out first, anyway!)

Cumulative page total = 8371

Mar 1, 10:43 pm

28. Chief Piapot: I Will Stop the Train / Vincent McKay
3.5 stars
295 pages

In the late 19th century, Chief Piapot lived, mostly in Southern Saskatchewan (or what became such), through the coming of guns, the extinction of the buffalo, white man coming to take the land, the NWMP (North-West Mounted Police) coming, and the train coming to the West. He liaised between the Assiniboine, Cree, Sioux, and Blackfoot peoples. He knew a few languages (including French and English) and negotiated with the Canadian government for the treaties.

I grew up in Southern Saskatchewan, so I recognized names of places that had been named after some of the people (including a town called Piapot), and I recognized names of people who were historically in the area (Sitting Bull probably being the most well-known, and Gabriel Dumont made a few appearances). It appears the author did a lot of good research and seems to have portrayed him well. I have to say the end was pretty exciting, when Piapot really did stop the train!

Cumulative page total = 8666

Mar 2, 7:11 am

>28 LibraryCin: Finding familar places in a book is almost as good as going home. Sounds like an interesting place.

Mar 2, 9:06 pm

>41 Carol420: I love it! Oddly enough (and the books were chosen for two different reasons), the book I'm reading now is also historical fiction set in the same area (and time)!

Mar 4, 11:17 pm

29. The Wagoner / C.A. Simonsen
3.25 stars
283 pages

It’s the late 19th century. Ott has lost his grandfather and he had promised to take his body to rest with his grandmother somewhere in the Plains of the U.S. He takes his old mule, Sir Lucien, who has to pull the wagon with the coffin and they set out from (what would later become) Southern Saskatchewan to likely somewhere in South Dakota to deliver his grandfather. He bumbles his way along and meets many characters on the way there and back, including picking up a dog.

To be honest, I was bored through the first third or so of the book. For some reason, the way to drop off his grandfather just didn’t peak my interest at all. But it picked up and got better for me as the book continued on, when Ott first ended up at a brothel as he turned around to head home.

From there, he continued on and met up with various Indigenous peoples, Metis, a thief, a runaway slave from Louisiana (though technically free, her master didn’t seem to agree), and more. And it was harsh, travelling back on foot and by mule (by the way home, his wagon had disintegrated). I think his concern for his animals helped pull me in, eventually, too. It’s another book where (being originally from Southern Saskatchewan), I did recognize some place and people names, which is always kind of fun.

Cumulative page total = 8949

Mar 5, 10:48 pm

30. The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century / Sarah Miller
3.5 stars
230 pages

Lizzie Borden was 32-years old when her father and stepmother were murdered with an axe while she was home. Their servant Bridget was also home at the time. Rhymes indicate that Lizzie murdered them both, but she was acquitted of the murders. This book takes us through what little was known of Lizzie pre-murders, the day of the murders, and the trials (and all other steps leading up to the trial: indictment, preliminary hearing, etc).

I have never before read anything about Lizzie Borden and had assumed she had murdered those whom she was accused of murdering (not even sure I could have told you it was her parents). This book, I believe, is geared to a YA audience, though I didn’t think it really read that way. The author did a lot of research on this and tried to present both sides. It turns out nothing Lizzie said (it was pretty much all contradictory) during the indictment was included at the trial, nor was key testimony of one witness. Even if they had been included, I’m not convinced it would have been enough to convict her. That being said, I’m not sure how anyone else could have done it. But, I’ve only read this one book.

There were some photos included at the end and a bibliography and notes. I was quite shocked at the look of the skulls (quite bashed in!) of Mr. and Mrs. Borden. And who knew there was (is?) a “Lizzie Borden Quarterly” journal!? I thought this was a good place to start to read about Lizzie and I am likely to find and read more.

Cumulative page total = 9179

Mar 7, 10:40 pm

31. All Things Wise and Wonderful / James Harriot
3.5 stars
440 pages

In this book, veterinarian James Herriot is training for the RAF (Royal Air Force) during WWII. So, this one includes stories of that training, alongside stories of treating animals (pets and farm animals) and the lives of some of the humans to whom those animals belonged.

I listened to the audio, and there were times my mind wandered, probably more often during the RAF training anecdotes (though not all of them). The narrator did a very good job with voices and accents. I’m rating it good, but am debating if I should continue on. It looks like there are only two books left, so I likely will.

Cumulative page total = 9619

Mar 8, 1:19 pm

>31 LibraryCin: Love these books.

Editado: Mar 11, 3:15 pm

32. Garbage Man / Joseph D'Lacey
3.5 stars
221 pages

There is something going on at the town’s landfill. Something big. And Mason manages to egg things on in a very bad way. (Hard to do a good summary without giving too much away!)

It took a while for this to get going, and in fact, I wasn’t sure where it was headed originally. But it got much better for the last 2/3ish of the book and I was more invested once things really started happening. There were two couples, though, that I kept getting confused. Eventually, I (mostly) figured out the characters, but even toward the end, I often had to stop to figure out who was who, and which couple they were a part of. Once it picked up, it was good.

Cumulative page total = 9840

Mar 12, 11:21 pm

33. The Rape of Nanking / Iris Chang
3.5 stars
271 pages

Nanking, China was attacked by Japan in December 1937 during the Sino-Japanese War. The Chinese military had abandoned the city and the Japanese military took advantage and tortured, raped, and murdered hundreds of thousands of civilians. There has not (at least as of the publication date… I haven’t yet followed up) been any apology or reparations for the war crimes from Japan. In fact, Japan has spent decades trying to hide this part of their shameful history.

I really knew nothing about this beyond having heard of it. The lead-up to the main part of the story didn’t catch my interest – this was the history leading up to Nanking being taken over by the Japanese. The things that happened were incredibly awful, but the author also followed up with chapters on Westerners who tried to help with a “safe zone” in the middle of the city (one of those Westerners was actually a Nazi), then chapters on how the Chinese people fared after and how the Japanese tried to hide what had happened (despite it having been on the news around the world, even at the time).

I read the ebook and there was mention of photos in the notes, but my ebook edition did not have any photos. My edition was published in 2011 (originally, this was published in 1997), and had an afterword by the author’s husband; the author herself committed suicide at the age of 36, and her husband addressed this in the afterword.

Cumulative page total = 10,111

Mar 13, 10:59 pm

34. Talking to Strangers / Malcolm Gladwell
3.75 stars
388 pages

In this one, Gladwell looks at how we communicate (or not) with people we don’t know. Or really, how well (or not) that communication is. Generally, people assume other people are telling the truth. But what if they aren’t? Drinking changes communication and how we read (or don’t) other people. Police interactions. Spies. Crime and safety. And more. Of course, there are studies that show us some surprising results.

So he actually started off with what was the least interesting to me of all the stories – the spies. But the rest of the stories were of much more interest to me. I listened to the audio and he did it (so he said – I don’t really listen to podcasts) similar to a podcast where he used recordings of the people themselves talking or he used actors to reenact what someone said. Although some of the recordings were sometimes hard to hear, I quite enjoyed it done that way. So an extra ¼ star for the audio.

Cumulative page total = 10,499

Mar 14, 11:25 pm

35. The Road / Cormac McCarthy
4 stars
114 pages

A man and a boy are travelling along a road. They are trying to avoid other people, while trying to stay alive. It turns out something has happened and most of the human population has been wiped out. The man and boy are trying to reach the coast, while trying to survive.

This was surprisingly good. It’s an award-winner (usually a bad sign for me), and I didn’t like the other book I’ve read by this author. I found it interesting that neither of the characters had a name. It was slow-moving, and often not much happened (though there were a few things that happened along the way that got the blood pumping!), but I really liked it.

Cumulative page total = 10,613

Mar 19, 4:54 pm

36. Game / Barry Lyga
4 stars
387 pages

This is the second book in this YA series. Jasper (Jazz) is the 17-year old son of a sociopathic serial killer. He was raised by his father (and grandmother) after his mother disappeared, and he is very worried that his father’s sociopathic killer genes may have passed down to him (in addition to all the indoctrination and “training” his father gave him in hopes that Jazz will follow in his footsteps).

In this book, Jazz’s father, Billy, has escaped from prison. But the killings in New York City (Jazz lives in a small town elsewhere) started before that escape. So imagine Jazz’s surprise when a NYC detective finds Jazz, hoping for some help getting into Billy’s head in order to help solve these more recent murders in NYC. Meanwhile, Jazz’s girlfriend, Connie, insists on coming to NYC, as well. And Jazz’s best friend, Howie is staying home to help watch out for Jazz’s (crazy) grandmother, along with Jazz’s aunt (who hasn’t been “home” in years).

This was really good, but I still have a hard time believing so many police officers/detectives (this was similar in the first book) want to rely on a teenager for help solving the crimes. Setting that aside, though, the premise of the murders was really clever, I thought: the “game”. Unfortunately, the book ended on a bit of a cliffhanger for each of our teenage characters. I believe there is one more book to the series, in addition to a few prequels that I haven’t yet read.

Cumulative page total = 11,000

Mar 22, 11:20 pm

37. How I'll Kill You / Ren DeStefano
5 stars
279 pages

Sissy is one of three triplets; they were abandoned as babies and brought up in various foster homes (mostly separated). As adults they are serial killers. Moody and Iris have each killed three men, and Sissy is the clean-up person, and it’s finally her turn. They pick out a man, get him to fall in love with them, then murder him. (One of them usually works “alone” while the others mostly hide away, just making sure one of the others is out and about somewhere noticeable as an alibi at the time the other is doing the killing.) And make a nice clean getaway. That’s how it works. But Sissy makes the mistake of really falling in love.

Wow! None of these women is particularly likeable, though I suppose Sissy is the most of the three (I guess, given what they do, that’s not a surprise). Not only did Sissy fall in love with Edison, she even made friends (really became friends; something the sisters also tend to avoid beyond how the “friend” can be of help to them getting away with what are doing) with the neighbour. I was really not sure how this book was going to end and it really surprised me, but I thought it was done really well.

Cumulative page total = 11,279

Mar 22, 11:41 pm

38. Curse of the Blue Tattoo / L. A. Meyer
4 stars
499 pages

(Book 2 of the series.) It’s 1803 in Boston. Jacky is off her ship since they found out she’s a girl and is at a boarding school (I missed where the money came from to pay for it). The school is meant to teach this orphan and former homeless waif and sometimes thief to be a “lady”. Of course, she really doesn’t fit in and she learns how mean some girls can be. However, she still manages to make a friend in outcast Amy. Jacky misses beau Jaimy and writes plenty of letters, hoping to catch him on whatever ship he is now on. And she tries to stay out of the way of the Reverend(?) Mather.

I listened to the audio and really liked this! The narrator is very good, with Jacky’s cockney accent and any other accents thrown her way. Jacky’s fun, but can go a little too far, sometimes, for sure. But a very enjoyable book and enjoyable series.

Cumulative page total = 11,778

Mar 28, 10:29 pm

39. The Courts of Love / Jean Plaidy
3.5 stars
567 pages

Eleanor of Aquitaine was next in line to the throne in Aquitaine and married Louis, the next King of France in the 12th century. Louis never wanted to be king (he was second-born and wanted to become a monk), but when his older brother died, Louis was next. He really wasn’t interested in marriage, though, nor creating a heir, to Eleanor’s chagrin. Eleanor had been brought up in a court of “love” with music and dancing and fun and laughter and missed it. And did not enjoy not being close to her husband.

She and Louis did have two daughters, but Eleanor was eventually able to get a divorce and she married Henry, the next King of England. They were madly in love, but Eleanor hadn’t realized (initially) that Henry continued to have affairs after they married, and she was not happy when she discovered this. Despite that, they had a number of children. As they grew apart, Henry eventually imprisoned Eleanor for a number of years. In the end, Eleanor outlived most of her children.

This was good. It was long, but Eleanor lived a long life. I have read one or two books about her, but it’s been a while, and I don’t recall the stories of Thomas a Becket and Richard the Lionheart, which Plaidy included in her book here. (Becket was a friend of Henry’s and Richard was Eleanor and Henry’s son.) They were likely there, but maybe I just didn’t know who they were when I read about them originally, so the stories didn’t “stick” in my memory. Plaidy is very detailed with her history, and that is to be commended, but it doesn’t always make for the most interesting fiction. Even so, overall, I liked it.

Cumulative page total = 12,345

Mar 30, 10:55 pm

40. Ashen Winter / Mike Mullin
4 stars
366 pages

Possible spoilers for book 1 in the series: 16-year old Alex and Darla have been living with Alex’s uncle and his family (and Alex’s sister) for a while now, after he found them after the volcano left the MidWest covered in ash and in seemingly perpetual winter. But, where are Alex’s parents? Despite the dangers, Alex insists on heading out to find his parents, and Darla won’t let him go alone. And it is dangerous with people out there hunting other people (to eat, to sell…).

I really liked this. It got going quickly, and kept up the pace throughout. I liked the two new characters, Alyssa and Ben.

Cumulative page total = 12,711

Editado: Abr 28, 11:26 pm

In May:

- Blue Lightning / Ann Cleeves (MysteryKIT)
- Dead Run / Dean Schultz (AlphaKIT)
- Famine / Graham Masterson (ScaredyKIT)
- The Judge's List / John Grisham (RandomKIT, SeriesCAT)
- Down the Mysterly River / Bill Willingham (KiddyCAT, AlphaKIT)
- The Forgotten Sisters / Shannon Hale (KiddyCAT, PBT)
- The Son of a Certain Woman / Wayne Johnston (PBT Trim, AlphaKIT)
- The Secret Wife of King George VI / Diane Haeger
- King's Fool / Margaret Campbell Barnes (Reading Through Time)

- The Other People / C.J. Tudor (March MysteryKIT)
- The Johnstown Flood / David McCullough
(March RandomKIT)

(con't) - The Fountainhead / Ayn Rand (book club)
- Daisy Jones and the Six / Taylor Jenkins Reid
(PBT Candle, AlphaKIT)
- Klara and the Sun / Kazuo Ishiguro (PBT Candle) - if it comes in at the library

- Homecoming / Kate Morton (Netgalley)
- A Walk in the Dark / Pamela Kiami (Early Reviewers, AlphaKIT)
- Wolvercraft Manor / Cas E. Crowe (ER, AlphaKIT)
- The Quiet Tenant / Clemence Michallon (NG?)
- The Garden of Evil / Genoviva Ortiz (ER)

Abr 2, 10:14 pm

41. The Other People / C.J. Tudor
4 stars
400 pages

Gabe is driving home to his wife and daughter when, in the truck just ahead with offensive bumper stickers in the window, the driver driving badly, up pops the head of a little blonde girl in the back – Gabe’s daughter Izzy! How is that possible? Gabe chases for a few minutes, but the truck gets away and when Gabe calls home, a police officer picks up.

Three years later, and Gabe hasn’t stopped looking for Izzy, though the police are convinced Izzy is dead. Katie is a waitress where Gabe often comes in, so they recognize each other, and Katie has held onto a missing flyer passed on to her by Gabe. Fran and little girl Alice are running from something. All three storylines do gradually come together with, of course, a few twists and turns along the way.

I really liked this. The beginning pulled me in right away and I wanted to know what happened. Gabe himself has some secrets we learn about along the way, as well. A really enjoyable book (for me) in what is my current favourite genre.

Cumulative page total = 13,111

Abr 4, 11:08 pm

42. The Johnstown Flood / David McCullough
2.5 stars
305 pages

In 1889, Johnstown, Pennsylvania’s dam broke and the town was flooded. The town had flooded many times before, but it was nothing like this. Over 2000 people lost their lives. Turns out the dam wasn’t maintained nor repaired properly.

Sounds like an interesting story, but it just couldn’t keep my attention. Much of the book was just not that interesting to me, especially before the flood hit and after. The flood itself and people’s stories of what happened during was a bit better, but not great. I have read one other book by this author and it seems I was underwhelmed reading it, too; that one, I listened to and wasn’t sure if it was the writing or the topic, but I’m thinking it’s the author’s writing style that just isn’t for me. There were photos included, and I have to say those were pretty impressive, pretty scary. The photo that might stick with me is one of all the debris smashed up against a bridge.

Cumulative page total = 13,416

Abr 10, 5:01 pm

43. The Forgotten Sisters / Shannon Hale
3.5 stars
190 pages

In this, the 3rd (and final) book in the Princess Academy series, Miri is about to head home to the mountain with her boyfriend Peder, but she is called back to see the King and Queen at the last minute. They have “asked” her to travel to a swampy area in the kingdom where the king’s three girl cousins live; she is requested to be a tutor to train them to become princesses. The King plans to offer one of the three to a neighbouring monarch in order to prevent a war.

I enjoyed this. Of course, the sisters were nothing like princesses and it took a while to convince them to try (though there were extenuating factors, like not having time to do any lessons), so it was somewhat amusing at first, too. There was a section in the middle that slowed down a bit, but when a war started, anyway, it picked up again. I feel like it was a nice wrap-up to the series.

Cumulative page total = 13,606

Abr 10, 5:32 pm

44. The Secret Wife of King George IV / Diane Haeger
3.5 stars
375 pages

King George IV (King of England between 1820 an 1830) before becoming king, did not get along with this father at all. Not only that, he fell in love with a Catholic (Maria) and there was no way his father would agree for them to marry. Maria insisted on being married before agreeing to becoming further involved in the relationship, so they married in a Catholic ceremony (that was illegal/not recognized in England). George had hoped his father would not live much longer (but he did), so he would be able to change that law and have Maria recognized as his legal wife.

This is not a time period I have read much (or anything?) about. It was really interesting to learn of this secret relationship/marriage. There was more romance to the story than I’d expected; I added this to my tbr a long time ago, so it’s possible I realized that at the time. But it was still interesting. There were times that the story moved a bit slowly, though. I also can’t say I really liked either main character, but I was still interested to read that this had happened at all.

Cumulative page total = 13,981

Abr 11, 10:52 pm

45. The Fountainhead / Ayn Rand
2 stars
736 pages

This is something about architects, architecture, philosophy, and super-selfish people, particularly the main character, Howard Roark. He’s an architect who wants to only design what he wants. He doesn’t want to design what others hire him to, just what he wants.

There are relationships in the story, but I’m not sure how they happen given how selfish everyone is. I listened to the (lllllooooonnnnngggg) audio, and tuned much of it out, as it was boring. Boring boring boring. Maybe a good thing I tuned it out because there didn’t appear to be a single likable character, as far as I could tell, from the bits and pieces I did pay attention to. The first chapter (was this some kind of intro, I’m thinking?) turned me off immediately via all the philosophy. At least after that, there was somewhat of a story, but it was also pretty slow and of course, there was plenty of philosophy sprinkled throughout. Not my thing. Add to that the selfish unlikable characters. In all honesty, half the time I missed who was in a relationship with whom. Just no.

Cumulative page total = 14,717

Abr 15, 3:56 pm

46. The Son of a Certain Woman / Wayne Johnston
3 stars
360 pages

Percy was born with FSS (Famous Someone Syndrome), where his hands, feet, and lips are all oversized; he also has an extremely large wine-red/purple “stain” on his face. He lives in St. John’s, Nfld with his beautiful single mom and her boarder, who also teaches at Percy’s school. A frequent visitor to their house is his mom’s friend, Medina. He also realizes there will never be a girl/woman who will love him or have sex with him; he figures his only hope is his mother. The story follows Percy from about 5 years old to 15.

Ok, as distasteful as that is, the story itself wasn’t bad. Initially, it reminded me of John Irving. It was pretty slow, though. It did pick up for me as I continued on, so I temporarily thought I might rate is just a bit higher, until something at the end of the book brought my rating back down to “ok”. It was apparently set in the 1950s and 60s, but I don’t recall if that was explicitly stated in the book. There was some humour and plenty of criticism of the Catholic Church.

Cumulative page total = 15,077

Abr 17, 11:51 pm

47. Blue Lightning / Ann Cleeves
3.5 stars
285 pages

On the “Fair Isle”, a part of the Shetland Islands, there is an observatory with a group of bird watchers in attendance. Police detective Jimmy Perez is visiting home with his fiancee, Fran. Jane is the cook at the observatory, which is also the place where most people stay when they come to the Fair Isle. Angela and Marshall run the observatory, and Marshall’s teenage daughter is also visiting. Unfortunately with bad weather, everyone is stuck with no way on or off the island. Then, someone is found with a knife in her back.

This was good. It is quite atmospheric, but in all honesty, I tend to tune much of that out. I did have a bit of trouble figuring out all the characters at the start of the book; it didn’t help that at least one of the characters (though I did eventually figure it out) was sometimes called by his first name and sometimes by his last (Jimmy Perez). Overall, though, the story ended up being good, and I liked it as much as the first in the series and better than the other two.

Cumulative page total = 15,382

Abr 18, 12:14 am

48. Daisy Jones & the Six / Taylor Jenkins Reid
4 stars
382 pages

This is the story of a (fictional) famous rock band from the 1970s, Daisy Jones & the Six, including lead singers and songwriters, Daisy and Billy. Early on, Billy gets into rehab and gets clean, but gorgeous Daisy is all about the drugs. Billy is married and starts a family. Billy’s brother Graham is in the band, and unknown to most of the others, has a relationship with another bandmate, Karen; bandmate Eddie is the one who most wants to stick to rock’n’roll. The story is their rise to stardom until their breakup at the end of the 70s.

This is sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll. I listened to the audio and it was so well done. The story was good (I’d give the story itself 3.5 stars), but (as I always do when it’s this good), I am adding an extra ¼ star for the audio. But also an additional ¼ star for the format of the book. It’s told in interviews with many of the characters: the people mentioned above, but also Billy’s wife, Daisy’s best friend/disco star, the band’s producer, and many more. I think this format led really well to the audio, with each character having a different narrator for the audio. So well done!

Cumulative page total = 15,744

Abr 23, 11:40 pm

49. Homecoming / Kate Morton
3.75 stars
560 pages

It’s 2018. Jess has been living in England for a long time, but is called home to Australia when her grandmother (who pretty much raised her) ends up in the hospital. Her grandmother, Nora, makes some odd comments. Jess, being a reporter, investigates and finds some family secrets.

In 1959, Percy is walking in a neighbour’s yard to find a mother and three of her children dead, not a mark on any of them. There was a basket hanging and he hadn’t realized there was a baby in the basket, but by the time the police have arrived and realize there should have been a baby there, the baby is missing.

This was good, but it took a long time to set up and get going. I had a hard time focusing initially, and many of the characters would delve back into memories which made it a bit harder for me to follow, as I was still figuring out characters, time frames, etc. Eventually, I figured things out and it did pick up, and I was interested to know what was going on/what had happened in 1959 (and, of course, how it related to Jess and Nora).

I’m not generally a fan of a “book within a book” and this one had that. That might have been at least part of the reason it took me longer to get “into” the book? Of course, there were twists. I thought I had one figured out, but I was incorrect in what I’d thought. So, my star rating has it just a bit higher than “good”, but I didn’t want to bring it quite up to 4 stars due to the slow start for me.

Cumulative page total = 16,304

Abr 24, 12:01 am

50. Down the Mysterly River / Bill Willingham
3.75 stars
335 pages

12-year old Max is a Boy Scout and is in a forest, but he has no idea how he got there. It’s not long before he meets up with a talking badger. Next comes along a talking feral cat, then a talking bear. How very odd! In trying to figure out what is going on here (Max considers himself a bit of a detective), Max and the others learn that they are being chased by people called the “Cutters”. The animals know that the Cutters cut critters into something different that isn’t themselves. The Cutters themselves think they are making the critters better with the cutting they do. In any case, Max and his three new friends need to run from the Cutters. They are making their way down the river to the Wizard’s sanctuary.

I liked this. I often am not a fan of fantasy (although I generally do better with children’s fantasy, as this is) and talking animals, this was cute, and I liked all the characters, including those talking animals. I gave it the extra ¼ star for the twist at the end. Max has mostly solved the mystery of where he came from, etc, but he learns more from the “wizard” and I thought that twist was very clever – I did love the twist!

Cumulative page total = 16,639

Abr 28, 11:25 pm

51. The Miracle & Tragedy of the Dionne Quintuplets / Sarah Miller
4.25 stars
299 pages

The Dionne quintuplets were born in rural Ontario in 1934. It was the Depression and their parents had no idea how they would pay to take care of 5 more kids! They were the first set of quintuplets who all lived. But the doctor who took care of them was so careful and cautious, he separated the quints into an entirely new, separate building across the street from their parents and other siblings, taken care of full-time by rotating nurses. They were so careful, the family was rarely able to visit. The Ontario government took over their care, supposedly so they wouldn’t be paraded around the U.S. Instead they were paraded out in front of the crowds who came to see them in their rural Ontario “home”. It was only when they were almost 10-years old did their parents win back custody of their own children.

Wow, those kids certainly did not have a normal childhood. Initially, they didn’t know any different, but when they finally were back with their family, they had no idea what a “normal” life was like. They’d never had to do any work before, everything was given to them and/or done for them. The parents suffered greatly, as well. They were harsh when they got the girls back; they were trying to provide a normal life for them, but they didn’t seem to have any inkling of how hard this was for the girls.

I don’t remember when the fictional version that I read of the Dionnes’ story ended, but this one continued right up to publication in 2018, when two of the sisters were still alive. I feel like the fictional book I read didn’t follow them into adulthood, so it was interesting to read that, too.

I’m giving this an extra ¼ star because I feel like this was researched so very well and the author tried to find a middle ground with all the melodrama and exaggeration and heightened emotions that seemed to happen with interviews with all parties. I feel like this is a well-rounded version, and I guess I can’t really say it’s the best version of what happened (since I’ve only read the one other (fictional) book about the quints), but I feel like it might be -- with the way it was researched and told.

Cumulative page total = 16,938

Abr 28, 11:46 pm

52. The Last Painting of Sara de Vos / Dominic Smith
2.25 stars
327 pages

In the 1950s, a young painter, Ellie, is asked to “copy” a painting originally done by Sara de Vos, a Dutch woman painter from the 17th century. Is this a forgery? Or a copy? Is there a difference? She does it. Not sure what happens after this, except that someone hires a private detective who finds Ellie, but then things get passed off to another man to take the young painter to an auction to… try to figure out if she’s the forger? Not too sure… The setting seemed to move between Amsterdam, New York City, and Australia.

I listened to the audio, which did a piss-poor job of keeping my interest (that is, it didn’t – must be able to tell from my feeble summary!), except for briefly with Jake whatever-his-fake-last-name was; anyway, Jake and Ellie ended up in some kind of a relationship, or she thought so, anyway. Near the end of the book, suddenly it was 40 years later, and I missed how that transition happened (though as I read the summary, apparently much of the story was already 40 years later? And I missed it.) The story did shift back in time to 17th century Holland, but I have no idea what was happening in that time frame. I missed ALL of that. Art – also not my thing. The ¼ star is for the brief relationship when I actually paid a little bit of attention.

And wow – I’ve learned so much of what I missed in the book by reading other reviews! I imagine I will learn more in my book club discussion (where I will have very little to contribute!).

Cumulative page total = 17,265

Editado: Ontem, 11:39 pm

The hope/plan for May:

- Dead Run / Dean Schultz (MysteryKIT?)
- Famine / Graham Masterson (Apr ScaredyKIT)
- The Judge's List / John Grisham
(Apr RandomKIT)

New for May:
- An Unwanted Guest / Shari Lapena (ScaredyKIT, AlphaKIT)
- The Dog Who Wouldn't Be / Farley Mowat (KiddyCAT)
- Beautiful Joe / Marshall Sanders (KiddyCAT)
- China Rich Girlfriend / Kevin Kwan (SeriesCAT, AlphaKIT)
- A Cat Named Darwin / William K (PBT trim, RandomKIT)
- Beneath the Faceless Mountain / Roberta Rees (Subdue the Shelf)
- Seven Fallen Feathers / Tanya T
(PBT, MysteryKIT?)

- Klara and the Sun / Kazuo Ishiguro (PBT Candle)
- Paris / Edward Rutherfurd (Read Thru Time)

- A Walk in the Dark / Pamela Kiami (Early Reviewers)
- Wolvercraft Manor / Cas E. Crowe
(ER, AlphaKIT)
- The Quiet Tenant / Clemence Michallon (NG?, AlphaKIT)
- The Garden of Evil / Genoviva Ortiz (ER)

Abr 30, 11:02 pm

53. King's Fool / Margaret Campbell Barnes
3 stars
300 pages

Will Somers was Henry VIII’s court jester from the time his daughter Mary was around 10 years old. Will remained Henry’s jester through all Henry’s wives until Henry passed away. Initially, Will found work for a local merchant, but when he accompanied that merchant to Court, he was enticed to stay and work as Henry’s jester. Will apparently became quite close with Henry and his family. This book has a fictional romance component to it.

There was a short author’s note at the start that explained that the romance was fictional, though much of the rest of the story is true; I always appreciate that kind of note or I would have wondered. I actually found Will’s life more interesting initially when he worked for the merchant, but then my interest waxed and waned through the rest of it. It seemed like Henry went through his last 5 wives very quickly in this book (and I suppose he really did, but this book seemed to speed that up), but of course that wasn’t the focus of the book, either. Overall, it was ok for me.

Cumulative page total = 20,265

Maio 5, 10:16 pm

54. Famine / Graham Masterton
3 stars
376 pages

When some kind of blight starts taking over Ed’s wheat field in Kansas in a matter of hours, he soon learns this is affecting many areas of the U.S. and many different types of crops. Meanwhile, Ed’s wife Season has decided that she does not like life on a farm and misses the city; she packs up and takes their daughter with her to California to be with her sister.

I could have done without the stretch of politics at the start; I kind of lost interest through part of that. The story itself of the food all going bad was good, and to what lengths will people go to get (and/or stockpile) food. Even more so, I could definitely have also done without every female character having big boobs and a ton of sex; and all the derogatory comments toward the woman characters. I almost rated it lower due to this, but decided the story itself was enough for me to rate it slightly higher, so I decided on a middle ground at 3 stars (ok).

Cumulative page total = 20,641

Maio 6, 10:51 pm

55. Dead Run: The Murder of a Lawman... / Dan Schultz
3.5 stars
307 pages

In May 1998, a police officer, Dale Claxton, in Colorado near the desert pulled over a truck. Nothing seemed amiss until three men stepped out of the truck – all three had automatic guns. Claxton was shot numerous times and was killed. The three set off into the desert as other police tried to chase, but were gunned down themselves (others were injured, but not one else was killed). The last of the three fugitives was found in 2007; all three had died in the desert, though the other two had been found within a few weeks of the original chase.

This was good. Starting off with the killing of Claxton and the chase got me into the book right away. Some of the investigation wasn’t quite as interesting, but it picked up every time one of the three killers was found. And, I found the biographical info about each of the three interesting, as well. The three men were all identified fairly quickly, but all three also had plenty of experience surviving on the desert.

Because all three were found dead, it is speculation about what happened and why they did what they did, but it seems likely they were on their way to a different big crime, but got interrupted with Claxton pulled them over. The police also put out there, for all three of the gunmen, that they’d each killed themselves, but (according to the author) the evidence doesn’t really point to that.

This is a good book about a crime I hadn’t heard about (though I’m sure there are plenty who llived closer to the area who would remember this). It was unfortunate there were no references included in the book, though.

Cumulative page total = 20,948

Maio 7, 10:16 pm

56. Klara and the Sun / Kazuo Ishiguro
3 stars
340 pages

Klara is a robot with incredible AI (Artificial Intelligence) waiting in a store with other robots to be bought by kids as companions. When Josie sees her, she knows she wants Klara, but can’t bring her home right away. Klara just hopes Josie will be back. When Klara eventually goes home with Josie, things aren’t exactly what she’d expected. Josie has some kind of illness, and Klara is expected to do something unexpected.

I listened to the audio and I liked the start of it (after the short bit to figure out what was going on), but as the book continued on, I lost more and more interest. I guess it did end “better” than I’d expected (for the main storyline that I was (mostly, as far as I know) following). I’m rating this “ok”. As I read reviews that include a summary, it seems I missed more than I’d even realized!

Cumulative page total = 21,288

Maio 8, 10:54 pm

57. Beneath the Faceless Mountain / Roberta Rees
2 stars
240 pages

This was set in the Crowsnest Pass in Southern Alberta near the British Columbia border. During the early 20th century, there were a few interesting happenings in the area, but none was the focus of the book, though they were mentioned (a rock slide and a couple of coal mine disasters). I think the bulk of the story(ies?) - maybe all? - seemed to happen during WWII.

I initially thought it was short stories as I started reading – there were different characters in each chapter (at first); I also thought there were different time periods, but one of the characters from (what I thought was) one time period appeared in another later on. So, either time travel or I was mistaken on different time periods? Unlikely it was time travel! There were weird random pages/paragraphs (in different font) referring to “you” – none of that made sense to me. I thought this book was odd, and despite being in an area not too far from where I am and somewhere I’ve been, I did not like this. Likely a good reason for that is the writing style.

Cumulative page total = 21,528

Maio 14, 12:11 am

58. Seven Fallen Feathers / Tanya Talaga
4.5 stars
355 pages

There are all kinds of issues on indigenous reservations in Canada. Education is just one of them. In 2000(?), a group of indigenous people built and started running a high school in Thunder Bay, Ontario for those students living north who didn’t have a high school to go to. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before some of those kids – many who were away from home for the first time, who had never been in a city before, a new culture, a new language, no (or not many) family or friends to help – started disappearing. And dying. Over 11 years, seven teenagers died.

The Thunder Bay police did very little to help, often not even contacting the families on the reserves to let them know their kids had disappeared. In some cases, they went too long before starting to look for the kids. Five of the kids were found in the river, and in most cases, just written off as “no foul play suspected”. But the indigenous people running the school, the families and friends question this. It was so unlike these kids to just get drunk and drown in the river. It has never really been figured out what exactly happened to these kids.

Wow, this is so sad. And aggravating that not enough is being done to help the indigenous kids and their communities. It’s an eye-opener and definitely worth reading. There are some repetitive bits and the author kind of went all over the place sometimes – between telling the kids’ stories, then working in other information about other people or communities. But really worth the read.

Cumulative page total = 21,883

Maio 14, 12:44 am

59. Beautiful Joe / Marshall Saunders
3.5 stars
359 pages

Beautiful Joe was a dog (apparently a real dog) who was abused by his owner (along with his mother and siblings, who were all killed), but was rescued by some local kids after Joe’s owner cut off his ears and tail. Joe hit the jackpot with his new family, especially soft-hearted Miss Laura who took good care of Joe and all the other animals the family had. When Miss Laura went off to a relative’s farm for a summer, Joe went with her and learned about the farm animals, as well.

The book was told from Beautiful Joe’s point of view. I enjoyed this (mostly), but it did get preachy at times. I completely agree with it all, but even so, it still felt a bit preachy to me. Many of the characters in the story were almost too good to be true, but at the same time, I think the book (originally published in 1893) was trying to teach kids not to be cruel to animals – they have feelings and feel pain, too. Interesting that it is actually a woman who wrote this: Margaret Marshall Saunders.

Cumulative page total = 22,242

Editado: Maio 15, 10:57 pm

60. A Walk in the Dark / Pamela Kiami
4 stars
225 pages

Vanessa goes for a walk one evening and meets Howard; she and Howard fall fast for each other, although Howard has just landed a job that will take him to the U.S. (they are in England). Meanwhile, Vanessa’s best friend Sam has just found out her husband has been cheating on her and will be leaving; she is a wreck. In the news, women around the city have been turning up murdered; a serial killer is on the loose. Add in that Vanessa also found a new job, with a nice boss who likes her.

There were times I was just annoyed with Vanessa and her reactions to Sam (and to some of the other characters). I guess she was being a bit selfish with her new romance happening, so maybe a bit understandable, but I was still annoyed with her. I was able to figure out what was going on fairly early on, but I still quite enjoyed the story.

Cumulative page total = 22,467

Maio 19, 10:45 pm

61. A Cat Named Darwin / William Jordan
4 stars
190 pages

The author was not a cat person, but when he came across a stray (at a time when the author was feeling lonely), there seemed to be a connection. He brought the cat he later named Darwin (the author is a biologist) in and gave him food. There was a back and forth between inside and outside, then on or off the bed, etc. Darwin wormed his way into the author’s heart, but it wasn’t long before Darwin was diagnosed with FeLV (feline leukemia). Darwin only lasted another year before he died.

I loved Darwin and enjoyed the parts most that focused on him. The author brought in some philosophy of things he learned from Darwin and, though I’m not usually a fan of philosophy, I actually found this quite interesting. I did disagree with a lot of decisions the author made, especially as Darwin got more and more sick, but I still rated it as high as I did, primarily because of Darwin himself. The book hit close to home, as I have been dealing with a palliative cat for a few years now, myself (he’s now 20 and still mostly doing ok, but it’s tough).

Cumulative page total = 22,657

Maio 20, 5:05 pm

62. The Judge's List / John Grisham
4 stars
308 pages

Lacy is a lawyer, working for an organization that investigates complaints against judges. She is contacted by someone who wants to remain anonymous about a judge (a current sitting judge!) who she says has murdered at least eight people, including her father over 20 years previous. Lacy hesitates taking the case, as they are not equipped to investigate murders, but Jeri refuses to go to the police, and they are required to start an investigation if there is a complaint. All the cases are cold (except the most recent), and there was zero evidence left behind. All Jeri has is motive and (I don’t remember what they called it) the same way of killing.

I thought this was really good, a unique scenario. It got especially creepy once we started “following” from the judge’s point of view about the middle of the book, but that, of course, ramped up the suspense a bit.

Cumulative page total = 22,965

Maio 23, 11:38 pm

63. Shadow of the Titanic / Andrew Wilson
4 stars
387 pages

This book looks not just at the Titanic, but picks out a few of the survivors to follow after the ship sank. Of course, it also backs up to include biographical information on these people from before the Titanic, as well as where they were and what happened with each of them the night the ship sank.

This was a bit of a different look at the story of the Titanic. I quite liked it! Some of the stories were of first class passengers I knew a bit about or at least remember hearing their names (Madeleine Astor, John Jacob Astor’s young, new, pregnant wife; Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon and his wife, Lady Duff Gordon); also J. Bruce Ismay, a White Star official. Many of the stories were people I hadn’t heard about before. Probably the one I’ll remember best is Jack Thayer, 17 years old and was going down with the ship when he jumped, managed to clear the ship, and be rescued. Dorothy Gibson was a silent screen actress on the Titanic who made it out. There were two little boys who were on the ship with their father; he got them in a lifeboat and they never saw him again… turns out the father had kidnapped them from their mother in France!

Ismay, of course, was on trial after the Titanic sunk. The Duff Gordons were, as well, it being alleged that they bribed the rowers of their lifeboat to not go back to see if they could help anyone. Madeleine Astor married and divorced two more times (though remarrying caused her to lose all wealth left to her by John Jacob). A number of people committed suicide (not necessarily right away) and many just wouldn’t talk of the Titanic afterward.

Cumulative page total = 23,352

Maio 24, 12:37 pm

>80 LibraryCin: Definitely want to read that!

Maio 26, 11:14 pm

64. An Unwanted Guest / Shari Lapena
4.5 stars
320 pages

I see this as a cross between The Shining (isolated inn in the mountains during the winter) and And Then There Were None (only two staff, along with 10 guests in the isolated inn… and people are being murdered). James owns the inn, and his son Bradley helps out; because of the storm, they are the only two staff around on this cold wintery weekend. The guests: Candice is an author; David is a criminal defense attorney; Ian and Lauren are a fairly new couple, Henry and Beverly are a longer-married couple having trouble in their marriage, Matthew and Dana are planning their wedding; Gwen and Riley are long-time friends trying to reconnect. They all come with their own baggage and secrets. Who could be slowly murdering the others…?

I loved the cold wintery setting of this one! And I loved (what I saw as) the combo of The Shining with And Then There Were None. Although there were a lot of characters to introduce, I was able to figure them out pretty quickly and was interested from the start. I wasn’t sure if there would be a twist at the end (or how that would happen), but there was one and I think it was done well!

Cumulative page total = 23,672

Maio 30, 10:03 pm

65. China Rich Girlfriend / Kevin Kwan
3 stars
400 pages

In the second book in the trilogy, Nick and Rachel still plan to get married, despite Nick’s mother’s opposition. They do end up in China, however, when Nick’s mother tells them she found Rachel’s biological father, whom she had been looking for. Unfortunately, when Rachel arrives to visit, her father and his wife have left the country, but her half-brother is there to welcome her and get to know her. So, Carlton and his girlfriend Colette host them. Ultra-rich Colette decides they should fly to Paris with other friends to do some shopping, though.

This was ok. I didn’t like it as much as the first one. The rich people really do get on my nerves sometimes, and I’m not a big shopper, so the shopping and descriptions and brand names, etc, don’t do anything for me. (Once again), with so many characters, it took quite a while to figure out who everyone was and how they were all related (and I never did figure them all out). I really found Nick and Rachel’s story the most interesting, with Carlton and Colette next. Things picked up toward the end of the book and there was a bit of surprise that came from Colette.

Cumulative page total = 24,072

Ontem, 11:38 pm

66. Wolvercraft Manor / Cas E. Crowe
4.5 stars
420 pages

Saige has been gone from her childhood home on an island for years, but her brother wants to get married there. The last time Saige was there, she saw her mother kill herself. Saige also “sees” things (i.e. ghosts) and because of this her father had her institutionalized. What the rest of her family doesn’t realize is that Saige really is seeing these things. It’s not all in her head. She is very anxious about returning.

Once there, she finds that her brother’s best friend from when they were younger, Jasper, is also there. He is a musician and will play at the wedding. What the rest of the family doesn’t know is that Saige and Jasper were not only in a relationship, they were engaged until Jasper just up and left without a word.

When Saige starts seeing ghosts again, it seems that Jasper is able to see them, as well, so the two embark on trying to figure out why all the ghosts are there and how to stop them from what appears to be a curse on the house and anyone who marries into the family.

While I feel like I gave a lot away, I don’t really think it’s too much, as so much more goes on in the story. The atmosphere of the book is very very creepy and very well done. The haunted old mansion. A storm that has them trapped. The ghosts are very scary and quite well-described so this book may not be for the squeamish. It was fast-paced. I also really liked the relationship between Saige and Jasper, though (not surprisingly) Saige had a hard time with Jasper, him having abandoned her way back when.

Cumulative page total = 24,492

Ontem, 11:53 pm

In June:

- The Luck Runs Out / Charlotte Macleod (MysteryKIT)
- Correction Road / Glen Dresser (RandomKIT - ILL, hopefully it doesn't take too long to come)
- The Dog Who Wouldn't Be / Farley Mowat (KiddyCAT)
- Tell It to the Trees / Anita Rau Badami (PBT Candle, AlphaKIT)
- The Second Life of Samuel Tyne / Esi Edguyan (PBT Trim, PBT?)
- Bunny Lake is Missing / Evelyn Piper (Reading Thru Time, AlphaKIT)
- Behold the Dreamers / I. Mbue (PBT, AlphaKIT)
- Out With It / Katherine Preston (AlphaKIT)
- Final Assignment / Linwood Barclay (SeriesCAT, AlphakIT)

- Denali's Howl / Andy Hall (Subdue)
- The Shining / Stephen King (ScaredyKIT, AlphaKIT)

- The Quiet Tenant / Clemence Michallon (NG)
- Dead of Winter / Darcy Coates (NG)
- Everyone is Lying / Sheri Lapena (NG)
- The Garden of Evil / Genoviva Ortiz (ER)