Laurel Opens a New Door in 2024

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Laurel Opens a New Door in 2024

Dez 25, 2023, 2:49 pm

2023 was a great year for reading! I prioritized ME time over unpacking and settling into my new house (although I did unpack – just on a relaxed and as the spirit moved me schedule). And the yard wasn’t a huge summer priority, because I needed to see what was already here. I did plant a few new shrubs, set up the fairy garden and some water features, did some cleanup of unwanted things, and then planted about 150 bulbs that will come up in the spring. So 2024 is when I can begin landscaping and gardening in earnest. In honor of that, one of my new themes will be Garden titles.

I love to make lists. My TBR category on Goodreads contains over 3,000 titles. The lists aim to focus my choices on something more manageable – I’ll try to keep it under 300 this year – from which I aim to read at least 50 books. Themes are the heart and soul of my reading choices throughout the year. These might revolve around a word, a time period, a specific location, etc. but I also randomly pick reads from my TBR ocean in several different fixed group categories: non-fiction, Welsh and Arthurian fiction, historical fiction (pre-20th century), other fiction (20th/21st centuries, sci fi, fantasy), and series (divided into new series started and old series continued). I used to have quarterly “mini-themes” but these have morphed into lists added under Time and Place. Then there are always leftovers from the previous year (or years), and new online group reads and challenges that spark my interest. No, my goal is NOT to read every book in these lists. One from each list would be ambitious enough! I always want to read far more than I will ever accomplish.

I am also resurrecting my old Pyramid Goal scheme that I used to do: 12 of something, 11 something else, 10, etc. which would be 78 titles if they were all different, but I allow books to count in more than one group.

Finally, an explanation of my color rating scale. I don't like the limitations of Goodreads 1-5 star rating system, so I add colors to my ratings to give it a little more nuance.

Gold = 5+ stars (Gold medal, my highest rating)
Purple = about 5 stars (Grand Champion ribbon)
Blue = between 4.5 and 5 stars (Blue ribbon, 1st prize)
Red = about 4 stars (2nd prize ribbon)
Pink = between 3.5 and 4 stars (tickled pink, in the pink, ...but not quite red?)
Green = about 3 stars (Green for Go, not outstanding, but I'd read more by this author - or not)
Yellow = between 2.5 and 3 stars (Caution)
Orange = about 2 stars (Hazard Warning, LOL!)
Black = about 1 star (Black-balled and also probably not finished)
Gray = DNF (not rated)

Editado: Abr 10, 7:55 pm

Themes are the heart and soul of my reading choices. I like to pick at least one new annual theme every year. This year it’s two. Sometimes a theme gets carried over for another year (or two). I also keep adding titles for old themes to my TBR, so that has become a whole category in itself. Some of those themes are Moby Dick, Pride and Prejudice, Music, Birds, Stars, and “Wife” titles. I used to have quarterly themes, but those tend to be specific locations or time periods, so I've moved them to that category.

Laurel Opens a New Door MAIN THEME - NEW
Already read:
READ 2019 A Wind in the Door
READ 2023 The Revolving Door of Life

READ 1. The Ten Thousand Doors of January
2. The Door
3. The Door in the Wall
4. Mary Poppins Opens the Door
5. The Door to Camelot
6. The Door of No Return
7. Under the Whispering Door
8. The House with the Golden Door (#2 of trilogy, read READ The Wolf Den first)
9. The House of Doors
10. Behind Closed Doors (read prequel first: READ Black Dogs, Yellow Butterflies)
11. The Doors of Eden
12. The Book of Doors
___________________________(a few more)
13. Leopard at the Door
14. Winter at the Door
15. Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog
16. The Door in the Hedge

Gardens NEW
1. The Forgotten Garden
2. Murder in a Scottish Garden
3. The Garden by the Sea
4. The Garden of Evening Mists
5. The Secret Garden (reread)
6. The Rose Garden
7. In the Night Garden
8. The Victory Garden
9. The Forbidden Garden
10. The Garden of Earthly Delights
11. The Last Garden in England
12. The Garden
13. In Her Garden
14. The Serpent Garden
15. The Red Garden
16. The Twilight Garden

Keeping It Light continued from 2023
1. The Brighter the Light
2. A Vision of Light
3. The Fall of Light
4. A Marvellous Light
5. The Light Years
6. Claire of the Sea Light
7. Light Changes Everything
8. The Light Through the Leaves
9. Light to the Hills
10. Painting the Light
11. Woman of Light
12. Pillars of Light

The Odyssey I keep listing this one, and never starting it! Maybe this is the year? Originally, my themes revolved around a literary classic, so it’s nice to have at least one literary theme going.
Obviously, I have to start with
The Odyssey and The Iliad so those aren't part of this list...
1. The World of Odysseus
2. An Orchestra of Minorities
3. Ulysses and
Ulysses: Complete Text with Integrated Study Guide from Shmoop
4. An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic
5. Omeros
6. Olympus, Texas
7. The Penelopiad
8. The Oceans and the Stars
9. Ilium
10. Ransom
11. Over the Wine-Dark Sea
12. The Siege of Troy

Old Themes: Random Picks
1. A Year of Ravens (birds)
2. The Ice Swan (birds)
3. The Winter Rose (winter)
4. Second Star to the Left (stars)
5. The Drago Tree (trees)
6. The Watery Part of the World (Moby Dick)
7. The Piano Teacher (music)
READ 8. Lovely War (music)
9. 1932 (Pride and Prejudice)
10. The Heiress: The Revelations of Anne de Bourgh (Pride and Prejudice)
11. The Ninth Wife (wife titles)
12. The Chocolate Maker's Wife (wife titles)

Editado: Mar 15, 5:16 pm


The Ancient World: NEW, with titles drawn from The Complete Idiot’s Guide to The Ultimate Reading List (URL)
1. I, Claudius (URL)
2. The Assyrian (URL)
3. The Beacon at Alexandria (I think I’ve read this years ago…) (URL)
4. Gates of Fire (URL)
5. The Gilded Chamber: A Novel of Queen Esther (URL)
6. The Hippopotamus Marsh (URL)
7. King and Goddess (URL)
8. One for Sorrow (an old leftover…)
9. The Eagle and the Raven
10. Roman Blood (URL)
11. The Silver Pigs (URL)
12. People of the Wolf (URL)

Macbeth/Thorfinn/Vikings: (continued from 2022)
1. King Hereafter
2. Lady Macbeth
3. Macbeth: A Novel
4. Macbeth
5. A Sacred Storm
6. Tomb for an Eagle
7. Flight of the Wren
8. The Golden Horn
9. The Half-Drowned King
10. The Whale Road
11. Viking Warlord: A Saga of Thorkell the Great
12. The Swan's Road

The Plantagenets/Wars of the Roses (continued from 2022)
1. The Summer Queen
2. Queen By Right
3. Bloodline
4. Eleanor de Montfort: A Rebel Countess in Medieval England
5. The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors
6. Blood & Roses: the Paston Family and the Wars of the Roses
7. Blood Sisters: The Women Behind The Wars Of The Roses
8. Edward IV and the Wars of the Roses
9. Cecily Neville: Mother of Richard III
10. The Queen’s Rival
11. The Princes in the Tower: Solving History's Greatest Cold Case
12. Brothers York

Wales/Arthurian: Random Picks

1. Unholy Island
2. Sing Them Home
3. Excalibur Rising: Book One of an Arthurian Saga
4. King of the World's Edge
5. Dark Age Monarch: The Reign of King Arthur
6. Among Others
7. A Welsh Childhood
8. Lancelot And The Wolf
9. The Silent Quarry
10. The Strictly Business Proposal
11. Shoes for Anthony
12. The Long Walk Home

Historical Fiction: Random Picks

1. Jade Dragon Mountain
2. The Woman with the Blue Star
3. Essex Dogs
4. John the Pupil
5. Jane the Quene
6. The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock
7. Hodd
8. The King's Witch
9. Queen of the North
10. Drake - Tudor Corsair
11. Stone's Fall
12. Paris

Other Fiction: Random Picks
1. The Paying Guests
2. The Children of the King
3. Americanah
4. The Magician
5. Animal Folk Tales of Britain and Ireland
6. Flight Risk
7. The Poison Tide
8. The Habitation of the Blessed
9. The Hills Were Joyful Together
READ 10. The Blue Mountains and Other Gaelic Stories from Cape Breton = Na Beanntaichean Gorma agus Sgeulachdan Eile Ceap Breatainn
11. Cloudstreet
12. Murder of a Straw Man

Non-fiction: Random Picks
1. Shakespeare's Wife
2. Giving Up the Ghost
3. Crown & Sceptre: A New History of the British Monarchy, from William the Conqueror to Elizabeth II
4. The Otters' Tale
5. My Venice and Other Essays
6. The Life and Prayers of Saint Francis of Assisi
7. A Wood of One's Own
8. She Wolves: The Notorious Queens of Medieval England
9. Wanderland
10. Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland
11. Fathoms: The World in the Whale
12. The Lost Words

Editado: Mar 29, 11:58 pm

Next-in-Series: Random Picks (Starred titles are within 1 or 2 of finishing the series.)
1. Poison, Your Grace (Simon & Elizabeth, #2 of 4)
2. *A God in Ruins (Todd Family, #2 of 2)
3. *The Kremlin's Candidate (Red Sparrow Trilogy, #3 of 3)
4. *The Heart of Summer (Finfarran Peninsula, #6 of 6)
5. *The Amber Spyglass (His Dark Materials, #3 of 3)
6. Dead Water (Shetland Island, #5 of 8)
7. Real Tigers (Slough House, #3 of 8) (read The List first, #2.5) (in collection Standing by the Wall)
8. Peach Pies and Alibis (Charmed Pie Shoppe, #2 of 5)
9. *Big Sky (Jackson Brodie, #5 of 5)
READ 10. The Curse of the Pharaohs (Amelia Peabody, #2 reread of 20)
11. Home (Gilead, #2 of 4)
12. The Lost Gardens (English Garden Mystery, #2 of 6)

New Series: Random Picks
1. Bloody Jack
2. Apollo's Raven
3. The Cost of the Dream
4. Chaucer and the House of Fame
5. The Golden Crucifix
6. Murder at Melrose Court
7. To Shield the Queen
8. The Silent Woman
9. Anne of Green Gables
10. A Sorcerer's Treason
11. A Dark Anatomy
READ 12. Books Can Be Deceiving

Ongoing long term series
1. Alexander McCall Smith – 44 Scotland Street series
READ 2023 The Revolving Door of Life #10 of 17
The Bertie Project #11 of 17

2. Rita Mae Brown – Mrs. Murphy series (rereading, #18 will be new)
Sour Puss #14 of 31

3. Donna Andrews – Meg Langslow series
Cockatiels at Seven #9 of 34)

4. Diana Gabaldon – reread in chronological order

5. Madeleine L’Engle
The Other Side of the Sun
The Small Rain

6. Alan Bradley – Flavia De Luce series (rereading) (#5 will be new)
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (reread)

7. Alexander McCall Smith - The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (rereading) (#4 will be new)
The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency
Tears of the Giraffe

8. Elizabeth Chadwick - all series in chronological order...
First Knight
The Conquest
The Winter Mantle

9. Candace Robb - Owen Archer series
The Lady Chapel
The Nun's Tale


Next to read other than the above:
1. A Crown of Lights (Merrily Watkins, #3)
2. A Terrible Village Poisoning (Dinner Lady Detectives, #3)
3. Due or Die (A Library Lover's Mystery, #2)
4. The Mummy Case (Amelia Peabody, #3 reread)

Editado: Abr 7, 5:09 pm

A combination of old and new. Sort of a catch-all for anything that doesn't fit above. I have leftovers from 2021, mostly from A Good Yarn, and finishing up my previous alphabet challenge. Books that are the oldest in my TBR ocean. Books that have been started but abandoned, and then of course there is new stuff that catches my eye and gets checked out from the library....

2023 Leftovers not finished:
1. Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer
2. Moby-Dick or, the Whale - reread
3. Wolf Hall #1 of 3
4. ...And Ladies of the Club
5. The Evening Chorus
6. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
7. Queen By Right
8. The Summer Queen
9. The Fall of Atlantis
10. The Wild Inside (A Good Yarn, G is for Glacier National Park)
11. Miss Eliza's English Kitchen
12. King Hereafter
13. Ygerna: A Pendragon Chronicles Prequel Novel

2023 Leftovers not started:
1. Her Royal Spyness
2. Shards of Honor
3. Cup of Blood
READ 4. Midwinter of the Spirit
5. The Unpleasantness at the Battle of Thornford
6. Key Witness: A Hermann Preiss Mystery
7. City of Masks
8. Laurentian Divide
9. Ambrosius Aureliani
10. The Crown Jewels Conspiracy
11. Death at La Fenice
12. The Road to Avalon

The 12 Oldest in My TBR Ocean:
1. The Long Walk Home (owned)
2. Within the Fetterlock
3. Thirteenth Night
4. Kilt Dead (owned)
5. The Tale of Hill Top Farm
6. Her Royal Spyness (owned)
7. The Last Troubadour
8. The Book of Joby (owned)
9. The Fall of Atlantis (owned)
10. Mozart's Sister
11. Vivaldi's Virgins
12. The Expected One (owned)

Shiny New Things:
1. Hester – have ARC
2. The Last Party – have ARC
3. The House of Lincoln (have ARC)
4. Menewood (have ARC) sequel to Hild
5. The Running Grave (purchased)
6. The Princes in the Tower: Solving History's Greatest Cold Case (purchased)
7. Beatrix Potter's Gardening Life: The Plants and Places That Inspired the Classic Children's Tales (Christmas present)
READ 8. The Wild Robot Protects - #3 in a series I've read
READ 9. The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner and READ Dragons at Crumbling Castle - I think there's a third book, too...

New Acquisitions:
Starred items are already in the lists elsewhere...
The Fallen from Paradise - purchased with Audible credit - fits the Jan sci fi genre and blue color cover challenge
Wild and Distant Seas - ARC - Moby Dick theme...
*Within the Fetterlock - purchased print copy on Amazon
Last Night -Kindle, Amazon first picks
This Impossible Brightness - Kindle, Amazon first picks
*The Doors of Eden - Fits the Jan. challenge criteria (genre AND cover color) - discounted on Chirp audio today (the 21st) so I bought it - my hold on Libby was over 16 weeks....

*The Beacon at Alexandria - purchased on Kindle
*A Vision of Light - purchased on Audible
A Marriage of Lions - Kindle, on sale
Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph - Audible credit
*Beatrice Stubbs Series Boxset One - Audible credit
Song of Roland - Chirp audiobooks, translation by D.D.R. Owen

His Castilian Hawk - .99 on Amazon
The Irish Inheritance - free on Amazon

Editado: Abr 19, 8:35 pm

Daytimers is one of the book clubs I run for the library. We read a different genre or category each month. This will probably be the last year I will be participating since I am retiring at the end of year, and we are down to 4 members. Perspectives is my church book club. They read about 9 books a year, and I am not committed to reading all of them. Various online groups that I follow have monthly group reads. I don’t participate often, but I would like to do more of them. A Good Yarn is a group I lead that reads our own books based on themes. For the past year we have been reading through the alphabet geographically with the choice of reading a specific location, or a generic place, or both...

Daytimers Book Club
READ 2023 Jan: Miss Benson's Beetle
READ Feb: The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot
Mar: The Woman They Could Not Silence: One Woman, Her Incredible Fight for Freedom, and the Men Who Tried to Make Her Disappear
READ 2023 Apr: The Maid
READ May: The Seed Keeper
Jun: The Quarry Girls
Jul: The Personal Librarian
Aug: Remarkably Bright Creatures
Sep: Among the Janeites: A Journey Through the World of Jane Austen Fandom
Oct: The Woman in the Library
Nov: West with Giraffes
Dec: Lessons in Chemistry

Perspectives Book Club
READ Jan: Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President
READ Feb: Our Missing Hearts
READ Mar: The Mountains Sing
READ Apr: The Seed Keeper
READ May: The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot
Summer/Sep: This Land Is Their Land: The Wampanoag Indians, Plymouth Colony, and the Troubled History of Thanksgiving
Oct: The Covenant of Water
Nov: TBD
Dec: TBD

A Good Yarn: Random picks
Jan: Locations beginning with N
READ The Weaver and the Witch Queen (Norway)
READ The Blue Mountains and Other Gaelic Stories from Cape Breton = Na Beanntaichean Gorma agus Sgeulachdan Eile Ceap Breatainn (Nova Scotia)

Feb/Mar: Locations beginning with O
READ The Orville Season 1.5: New Beginnings (The Orville, outer space)
Tomb for an Eagle (Orkney)
The Unquiet Bones (Oxford)

Apr/May: Locations beginning with P
READ The Wolf Den (Pompeii)
Paris (Paris)
Bloody Jack (a pirate ship)

Jun/Jul: Locations beginning with Q
The Quarry Girls (a quarry)

Aug/Sep: Locations beginning with R

Oct/Nov: Locations beginning with S

Dec/Jan 2025: Locations beginning with T

Various Online Groups
Most of these I won't read, but I list them here to keep track of who is reading what. I'll star the ones I plan to try to read...

The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store (All About Books)
READ 2023 The Bookshop on the Corner (The Reading Loft)
Bess of Hardwick First Lady of Chatsworth (Tudor History Lovers)
Lady Tan's Circle of Women (Historical Fictionistas)

Mansfield Park (Reading for Pleasure, classic group read over Jan and Feb)
The Death of Ivan Ilych (All About Books, classic group read over Jan and Feb)

*Tooth and Claw (The Reading Loft)
*The Princes in the Tower: Solving History's Greatest Cold Case (On the Porch Swing, open discussion, but we had to commit to our selection by Dec. 12... so I picked this one.
Poverty, by America (All About Books)
Death in Delft (English Mysteries Club)
The Queen of Subtleties: A Novel of Anne Boleyn (Tudor History Lovers)

The Library of Lost and Found (The Reading Loft)
Oil and Marble (All About Books)
*The Winter Sea (Historical Fictionistas)
Silver Lies (Historical Mystery Lovers)
The House of Doors (Constant Reader, starts Mar. 15)

Mar/Apr: East of Eden (All About Books, classic group read over Mar and Apr)
The Bird's Nest (Reading for Pleasure, classic group read over Mar and Apr)

Mar 17 through May 24:
*Far From the Madding Crowd (Works of Thomas Hardy)

READ The Cloisters (The Reading Loft)
The Great Alone (All About Books)
Crown of Blood: The Deadly Inheritance of Lady Jane Grey (Tudor History Lovers)
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow (Reading for Pleasure)

Apr/May: The Plantagenets (All About Books, NF read)

The Fair Botanists (The Reading Loft)

Editado: Abr 10, 8:01 pm

Alphabet (A-Z titles) challenge.
This is a long term personal challenge. The only rule here, is that I have to read the alphabet in order. And no rule on how long to spend on each letter. The focus is on the letter B this year, but there are still A titles I am finishing/adding, and I may begin C later in the year….

Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer
All My Fortunes (reread)
The Amber Spyglass
Ambrosius Aureliani
...And Ladies of the Club
Anne of Green Gables
The Assyrian
The Beacon at Alexandria
Behind Closed Doors
The Bertie Project
Big Sky
READ Black Dogs, Yellow Butterflies
READ The Blue Mountains, and Other Gaelic Stories
The Book of Doors
The Book of Joby
READ Books Can Be Deceiving
Braids of Song: Weaving Welsh Music into the American Soul
The Brighter the Light
Brothers York


The Chinese Sailor by Allan Jones
The Chocolatier's Ghost
City of Masks
A Conspiracy of Friends
Courting Mr. Lincoln
Crimson Shore
The Crystal Cave
The Cuckoo's Cry
Cup of Blood

Laurel's One From Each List Challenge (On the Same Page 3rd Annual 12 + 4 Reading Challenge
Since I have roughly 16 lists going, I thought I would pick one book from each list. The aim is to read at least 12…
1. Behind Closed Doors
2. The Secret Garden
3. Light to the Hills
4. The Penelopiad
5. 1932
6. One for Sorrow
7. Lady Macbeth
8. Bloodline
9. The Long Walk Home
10. Queen of the North
READ 11. The Blue Mountains and Other Gaelic Stories from Cape Breton = Na Beanntaichean Gorma agus Sgeulachdan Eile Ceap Breatainn
12. Wanderland
13. Dead Water
READ 14. Books Can Be Deceiving
15. The Evening Chorus
16. Her Royal Spyness

Rebecca's List:
This is a group challenge on LibraryThing's Club Read 2024 (continued from 2022 and 2023) to collectively read all the books on a late member's reading list. This is not a promise to read all of these, but potentially to read...These are some that are of interest to me, that no one else has read yet.
1. The World of Odysseus - a likely candidate because of my Odyssey theme!
2. The Bear: History of a Fallen King
3. The Reindeer People: Living with Animals and Spirits in Siberia - someone else has read this one...
4. Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
5. The Power of Music mannes
6. Genes, Peoples, and Languages
7. Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages
8. The Singing Life of Birds: The Art and Science of Listening to Birdsong
9. The Fairies Return, or New Tales for Old
10. Stars of the Long Night
READ 11. The Romance of Tristan
12. The Romance of the Rose
13. The Book of Lamentations
14. The Fallen Sky: An Intimate History of Shooting Stars
15. Ginkgo: The Tree That Time Forgot
16. A History of Dogs in the Early Americas

On the Same Page monthly genre challenge:
Jan: Science Fiction
READ The Orville Season 1.5: New Beginnings

Feb: Romance
READ The Romance of Tristan
READ Lovely War

Mar: Mystery
READ Books Can Be Deceiving
READ Curse of the Pharoahs

Apr: Historical Fiction
READ The Wolf Den (ancient Pompeii)

On the Same Page cover color challenge:
Jan: White or Sky Blue
The Ice Swan
READ The Blue Mountains and Other Gaelic Stories from Cape Breton = Na Beanntaichean Gorma agus Sgeulachdan Eile Ceap Breatainn
READ The Orville Season 1.5: New Beginnings

Feb: Light Pink or Chocolate Brown
The Forbidden Garden
READ Lovely War
The Unquiet Bones

Mar: Goldenrod or Purple
READ Dragons at Crumbling Castle
The Unpleasantness at the Battle of Thornford
READ The Curse of the Pharaohs
Thirteenth Night
Her Royal Spyness

Apr: Bright Deep Green (not neon: think emerald or green crayon) or Pewter Gray
May: Ruby Red or Sapphire Blue
Jun: Lavender or Yellow
Jul: Burgundy or Pale Gold (think the color of a nice white wine)
Aug: Hot Pink or Forest Green
Sep: Cream/Beige or Salmon/Coral
Oct: Deep Orange or Black
Nov: Teal or Violet
Dec: Silver or Holiday Red

Editado: Abr 19, 8:36 pm


Books: 60
Cumulative Pages: 18,000

At the time of this posting (Dec. 25), I only have 2 books to go to meet my 2023 goal of 60 books, but my previous record is 52 and I have already beat that. So I think I will say 60 books again for 2024 and/or a cumulative page total of 18,000 (previous record: 17,384 but I may yet beat that). This is a stretch, but that’s the point of setting goals, isn’t it!

Laurel’s Pyramid Goals

12 From 12 Different Lists
Midwinter of the Spirit (Leftovers, not Started)
The Ten Thousand Doors of January (Themes: Doors)
The Romance of Tristan (Challenges, Rebecca's List)
Lovely War (Old Themes, Random Picks)
The Blue Mountains, and Other Gaelic Stories (Time and Place, Other Fiction Random Picks)
Books Can Be Deceiving (New Series, Random Picks)
Curse of the Pharoahs (Next to Read in Series)

11 Historical Fiction
Curse of the Pharoahs (1890s)
The Wolf Den (ancient Pompeii)

10 Themes (old or new)
The Ten Thousand Doors of January (Themes: Doors)

9 Leftovers
Midwinter of the Spirit

8 Next-in-Series
An Unfortunate Christmas Murder
Curse of the Pharoahs
The Wild Robot Protects

7 Titles That Start With B
Black Dogs, Yellow Butterflies
The Blue Mountains, and Other Gaelic Stories
Books Can Be Deceiving

6 New to me Authors
The Ten Thousand Doors of January (debut novel) (Alix Harrow)
The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot (Marianne Cronin)
Black Dogs, Yellow Butterflies (J. J. Marsh)
The Mountains Sing (Nguyen Phan Que Mai)
Books Can Be Deceiving (Jenn McKinlay)
Dragons at Crumbling Castle (Terry Pratchett) - yes, believe it or not, I have never read any Terry Pratchett...
Secrets of the Sprakkar
The Wolf Den (Elodie Harper)
The Seed Keeper (Diane Wilson)
The Cloisters (Katy Hays)

5 Nonfiction
Destiny of the Republic
Secrets of the Sprakkar

4 Translated Books (not originally English)
The Romance of Tristan (medieval French)
The Blue Mountains, and Other Gaelic Stories (Scottish Gaelic)
The Door (Hungarian)

3 Chunky Books (over 500 pages)
Midwinter of the Spirit - 544 p.

2 Welsh authors
An Unfortunate Christmas Murder
Black Dogs, Yellow Butterflies

1 Classic
The Romance of Tristan

Editado: Abr 19, 8:37 pm

Miscellaneous statistics and other record keeping

Total books read: 22

Cumulative pages read: 6,980

Genre breakdown:
Classic - 1
Contemporary - 1
Cozy mystery - 3
Dystopia/alternate history - 1
Fantasy - 4
Historical fiction - 1
Literary fiction - 3
Love stories - 1
Mystery - 3
Non-fiction, History - 1
Non-fiction, Cultural/Social Studies - 1
Science fiction - 2

Print - 8
Audiobooks - 14

Owned (print)
Owned (ebook) - 3
Owned (Audible or Chirp) - 1
Libby ebook or eaudiobook) - 15
Library (print book) - 3

Chunky books (More than 450 pages) read:
Midwinter of the Spirit - 544 p.
Lovely War - 471 p.
The Wolf Den - 464 p.

Chunkiest books (to be long-term projects):
...And Ladies of the Club - 1184 p. (started in 2022 and maybe even before that)
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell - 1006 p. (a group read last year, and I had started it once before several years ago)
The Running Grave - 960 p.
The Crown Jewels Conspiracy - 948 p.
Outlander - 850 p. (another reread - I haven't read the last several books in the series, but wanted to reread all the others first)
Paris - 809 p.
The Mirror and the Light - 757 p. (I have to read Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies first...)
Ulysses - 732 p. (I started this with a group read several years ago. Kept it to finish eventually as part of my Odysseus theme which so far hasn't gotten off the ground)
Ilium - 731 p. (another "Odyssey" themed book)
King Hereafter - 721 p. (one of the best books I've ever read, and high time for a reread - also spurred my "Macbeth" mini-theme)
The Eagle and the Raven - 704 p.
A Sacred Storm - 704 p.

Shortest books (for when I am getting behind and need to read something short):
Life and Prayers of Saint Francis of Assisi - 70 p.
Unpleasantness at the Battle of Thornford - 106 p.
The Lost Words - 112 p.
The Door in the Wall - 128 p.
The Golden Crucifix - 168 p.
The Door to Camelot - 172 p.
A Welsh Childhood - 186 p.
King of the World's Edge - 191 p.
Animal Folk Tales of Britain and Ireland - 192 p.
The Penelopiad - 198 p.

Cookbooks cooked from:

Magazines read:

1. Smithsonian, June 2018. 84 p.
The war against invasive Lionfish, the race to save endangered rhinos, tracing a stolen WWII sculpture
2. Smithsonian, July/Aug. 2018. 120 p.
The "Mount Everest" of surfing, new technology to decipher ancient scrolls, the fight to recover the remains of family killed in the Spanish American War
3. Smithsonian, Sept. 2018. 88 p.
Secrets of American history: Bigfoot fetish, Sigmond Freud and Woodrow Wilson, women codebreakers of the Cold War, the roots of the populist conservative movement, African American deaths during Reconstruction
4. Smithsonian, Oct. 2018. 88 p.
Recreating a virtual model of the ancient city of Petra in Jordan, snowy owls, William T. Vollmann writes about WWI, the coloring book craze and Johanna Basford

Editado: Dez 25, 2023, 6:06 pm

Open for business - here's to 2024!

Dez 26, 2023, 10:47 am

Happy reading in 2024. I'll look forward to following along with your reading plans.

Dez 26, 2023, 12:54 pm

Welcome back to Club Read 2024, Laurel! I love lists too, and yours are always so much fun to read. Makes me want to toss aside the book I'm reading (which I want to finish for tomorrow's book club meeting) and make some of my own.

Dez 26, 2023, 1:43 pm

It is fun, and it takes me about a week every November to compile all the lists - plus this year I had two years worth of books added to my TBR ocean (about 600 titles - I know - I have to live forever...) to make the slips to draw from. But I enjoy it, and look forward to doing it every year, so I guess that is the main thing!

Editado: Abr 3, 12:20 am

January Plans

I am currently reading 4 books, all of which I think will be finished by the end of 2023. That's the plan anyway!
READ 2023 Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey - 60 pages left.
READ 2023 Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners - audiobook for Daytimers (meets Dec. 29) - about 3 1/2 hours left
READ 2023 A Cornish Christmas Murder - about 100 pages left
READ The Weaver and the Witch Queen - 286 pages left. I can carry this one into 2024 if necessary, but I'm going to try and finish it.

Next on audio - I've already read January's book club book, so I can indulge in something that might take awhile. I have wanted to read
READ Midwinter of the Spirit for 5 years now and the season has gotten away from me every year. I own this on Audible, so I will start it as soon as I finish Evergreen Tidings. After that, I have a Libby hold on
READ Ten Thousand Doors of January - It is telling me there is a 4-week wait.

Other possibilities:
The Ice Swan for the January cover color challenge. Available on Libby (no waiting).
Sing Them Home for A Good Yarn (N is for Nebraska). Available on Libby (no waiting).
The Running Grave - purchased on Audible.

For Perspectives I have
READ The Destiny of the Republic checked out from the library. The audiobook on Libby was going to be "several months" so print it is.
Another "N" book for A Good Yarn from my lists is
READ The Blue Mountains and Other Gaelic Stories From Cape Breton (Nova Scotia) and it also fits the January cover color challenge.
My first book of the New Year might be
A Midwinter's Tail - it was on my Dec. 2023 plans but didn't get to it. It's not too long and it would be a fun, cozy read for New Year's Day.

In leftovers and chunky books, I'd like to get to
The Wild Inside - I've started it a couple of times, and if I don't read it soon, it never will be.
Looking at my chunky book leftovers (may take more than one month...) I've settled on finishing
Ahab's Wife and
Moby Dick - I don't need to start them over I don't think, but they have been long paused - since they got packed up when I moved, and I didn't get to them in 2023. I didn't get to ANY of them in 2023 - I wanted to read new things. But now I feel motivated to pick them up again.

So wish me luck!

Dez 30, 2023, 5:41 pm

Just discovered I have another Christmasy "next-to-read-in-series" book on my Kindle, so I'm adding
An Unfortunate Christmas Murder to my plans, while it is still "Christmas season."

Editado: Dez 31, 2023, 12:13 pm

While I'm learning to post pictures here, I never did post an "update" on Mr. B in October. I just couldn't bear to. Anyway, here he is, taken shortly after I rescued him five years ago. He was the sweetest cat, and a big cuddler. I never expected to lose him so soon, and despite still having 5 other cats, I really miss him.

Editado: Dez 31, 2023, 12:21 pm

Here's another picture...

Dez 31, 2023, 7:14 am

Let's try something.



I got the first URL by right-clicking on your photo and selecting "Copy image address". The second URL is the one you used in your post. I have no idea why one works and not the other.

Dez 31, 2023, 9:13 am

Just a note that if you add width=400 (or some other number, you can play around with it) after img and before src=" the picture will be smaller. I usually set book covers to 140.

Dez 31, 2023, 12:11 pm

>18 rhian_of_oz: Thanks. I tried them multiple ways and nothing was working.

Dez 31, 2023, 12:17 pm

>19 labfs39: I have my screen enlarged because of my low vision so I can’t see what most members see. I’ve been using width =150 for book covers for reviews. What’s a good size for the normally-sighted?

Editado: Dez 31, 2023, 1:04 pm

Yay! I got the pictures working! Thanks everyone.

Let's try some more just to be sure. Here's a picture of 3 of the kittens last year...Vinny (Vincent), Henry, and Jess. Vinny went to a new home - a friend who wanted a black cat.

And the other kitten, Dora. Of course, they are all grown up now. Dora is my new little snuggler. She's the only one I can sleep with yet. The others are all much too interested in my feet under the covers.

And here is Beatrix, the Mama:

Editado: Dez 31, 2023, 1:54 pm

Cute kitties! Glad you figured out how to add images.

>21 kjuliff: 150 pixels is fine for book covers, Kate. Obviously you can make them as big as you want, but threads start to lag and skip if there are too many overly large photos.

Dez 31, 2023, 1:58 pm

I am very much in favor of more cat pictures on LibraryThing. They are all adorable.

Dez 31, 2023, 11:28 pm

>23 labfs39: Lisa wrote: "Glad you figured out how to add images."

Thanks. Me too. Now I can add some books covers to my reviews. If the page gets slow to load, I'll start another thread like a lot of you all do.

Editado: Fev 27, 4:41 pm

In addition to posting monthly plans, I've decided to add a monthly log...

January Log

Midwinter of the Spirit - audiobook, finished Jan. 15
The Destiny of the Republic - for Perspectives Book Club - finished Jan. 21
The Orville Season 1.5: New Beginnings - January genre challenge and cover color challenge - finished Jan. 31

Currently reading:
The Weaver and the Witch Queen
An Unfortunate Christmas Murder - started Dec. 30
The Ten Thousand Doors of January - started Jan. 17
Blue Mountains and Other Gaelic Stories from Cape Breton - started Jan. 24, A Good Yarn "N" challenge (Nova Scotia), and January cover color challenge (sky blue)
The Romance of Tristan - started Jan. 29

Ongoing Longer Reads:
Ahab's Wife - restarted on Jan. 8
Moby Dick - restarted on Jan. 8

Next up:
A Midwinter's Tail - maybe.
The Doors of Eden - Purchased on Chirp Books
The Princes in the Tower

Holds Pending:
The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot - for Feb. Daytimers

New Acquisitions:
The Fallen from Paradise - purchased with Audible credit - fits the Jan sci fi genre and blue color cover challenge
Wild and Distant Seas - ARC - Moby Dick theme...
Within the Fetterlock - purchased print copy on Amazon
Last Night -Kindle, Amazon first picks
This Impossible Brightness - Kindle, Amazon first picks
The Doors of Eden - Fits the Jan. challenge criteria (genre AND cover color) - discounted on Chirp audio today (the 21st) so I bought it - my hold on Libby was over 16 weeks....

Jan 1, 7:14 pm

I’m really sorry about Mr. B.

You have so many titles here, I’ partially in awe and partially overwhelmed. I’ll gently plug Omeros, because I enjoyed it so much.

Jan 2, 11:40 am

So sorry about Mr. B—we lost our own very beloved Mr. B (an orange tabby, full of personality and sweets) in February 2020, so just seeing the name gives me a little twinge. Your other kitties are great! Oh, and the books, too.

Jan 3, 9:40 pm

I've acquired 5 books today. See post above (#26). The Fallen from Paradise was highlighted by Audible in their daily email, and the description of it as both a book and a musical with 9 songs and soundtrack intrigued me. Since I need a Sci Fi book for the On the Same Page monthly genre challenge and it also fits the cover color challenge, I used one of my Audible credits to purchase it. I had one Sci Fi book in my lists that I had placed a hold on, but the waiting list is 16 weeks. Definitely not going to get it in January!

I am starting Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President today. It is for my Perspectives book club which meets on the 23rd. About a chapter a day will have it read in time.

Jan 3, 9:42 pm

>29 WelshBookworm: I'm toying with reading Destiny of the Republic soon too, although Millard has a new book out about the Nile that would mesh well with all the Africa reading I've been doing lately.

Jan 8, 9:29 pm

I've added Moby-Dick or, The Whale and Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer into the daily mix of scheduled reads. This gives me a time-table to follow and aims to prevent letting them lapse. My other books are "unscheduled" - meaning I'll finish them when I finish them. It's been over a year since these two books were paused. I was maybe about 25% on both, but I am restarting them. I've set Moby Dick at 3 chapters/day and Ahab's Wife at 15 pages/day. If I stay on track I will finish them both on Feb. 21 and then I'll pick up another of my long-paused books.

Jan 8, 10:10 pm

I really enjoyed Moby Dick. Hope you do too. 3 chapters a day might be a lot.

Jan 8, 10:38 pm

>32 dchaikin: It might be. I've read it before. This is a reread for me.

Jan 10, 1:00 pm

Following along again (and late as per usual!).

Jan 10, 4:03 pm

>34 AlisonY: Welcome, Alison. The more the merrier!

Jan 12, 1:41 pm

Interested in seeing how you compare Moby Dick and Ahab's Wife. Do they jive well together, or do they fight each other with discrepancies etc?

Editado: Jan 14, 2:32 pm

>36 arubabookwoman: One week into a six-week read, but I am noting some interesting parallels. Clearly the author of Ahab's Wife has structured her book on Moby Dick. There are "excerpts" (quotations from various other literature) as a sort of "preface" in both books. The chapters are mostly short, and I can tell there are going to be a lot miscellaneous ruminations about all manner of things. The book is also illustrated with woodcuts reminiscent of the 1930 edition of Moby Dick with illustrations by Rockwell Kent. Reading them in parallel, I had no sooner read a chapter titled "Nantucket" in one, to find a chapter titled "Nantucket" in the other. Also having just read about Ishmael and Queegueg attending a service at the Seamen's Bethel Chapel, then we have Una and her parents attending the same chapel with its prow of a ship for a pulpit. Then we have Ishmael and Queequeg eating chowder at the Try Pots Tavern, run by Mrs. Hosea Hussey and comments about the cow whose milk is rather "fishy" because of what the cow eats. In the other book we have Kit and Giles arriving at the Lighthouse where Una lives with her aunt and uncle. They have chowder for supper, and her aunt says she got the recipe from Mrs. Hussey at the Try Pots, and Giles and Kit regale them with descriptions of Mrs. Hussey's necklace made of fish (cod) vertebrae, and the cow dining on fish remnants out back. So I would say they jive very well together.

Jan 14, 2:17 pm

>37 WelshBookworm: Oh, how interesting, Laurel. I read Ahab's Wife years ago, but without having read Moby Dick. I see now that that was a mistake.

Jan 14, 2:31 pm

Mid-January update:
Since I started most of my current reads right around the turn of the year, I have yet to actually finish anything, so I feel like I'm behind already. Nevermind that 3 of the books I'm reading are over 500 pages long, and two more are over 300... Well my audiobook, Midwinter of the Spirit is within reach, and since I have been hibernating with the cold weather on this long holiday weekend, I decided to listen to it in the bath last night. 2 1/2 hours left now. And we are getting to the denouement. So I hope to get it finished by tomorrow. It was a good choice to read right around Christmas time - like Dicken's Christmas Carol with its ghosts and visitations. I am enjoying the juxtaposition of the Church of England vs. the pagan lore of Herefordshire as well as "New Age" spirituality, the newness of having women clergy and the resistance to that, and then what is actual paranormal activity vs. people with evil intent.

Otherwise, I am keeping up with all my "scheduled" reads, but the other books are in grave danger of going by the wayside, since it is late by the time I get to bed, and my lighter bedtime reading gets abandoned... or I fall asleep on the sofa, and wake up at 3:30 am....

Editado: Jan 15, 2:31 pm

>37 WelshBookworm: how interesting!

>39 WelshBookworm: sometimes i find posting updates here helps me when I haven’t finished a book in a while. It sounds like you’re reading is terrific.

Jan 15, 2:18 pm

Jan 15, 2:32 pm

>41 labfs39: yup. fixed. Sorry :)

Jan 15, 4:14 pm

>41 labfs39: I figured that.

Editado: Jan 16, 5:29 pm

1. Midwinter of the Spirit
4 red stars.

This was a good choice to read right around Christmas time - like Dicken's Christmas Carol with its ghosts and visitations. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the Church of England vs. the pagan lore of Herefordshire as well as "New Age" spirituality, the newness of having women clergy and the resistance to that, and then what is actual paranormal activity vs. people with evil intent. This felt so terribly dated, but I have to remind myself that 1999 really was almost 25 years ago, not yesterday (even if it feels like it), plus the ordination of women in the Church of England came 20 years after the Episcopal Church in the U.S. began ordaining women clergy. Nevertheless, it felt to me more like the 1970s when "New Age" spirituality became part of popular culture and I was a young graduate student wrestling with matters of faith and spirituality, and keenly interested in paranormal phenomena, being a bit psychic myself. I was also the daughter of a minister, so I can appreciate that while Merrily is being pulled into her role as a clergyperson and finding comfort in tradition, her daughter Jane is just at the age where she is rebelling against all things "church", but does not yet have the maturity to sort out what might be truly harmful. I wouldn't put this book in the horror category, but there is certainly a lot of suspense, and the author doesn't want us to easily discern what is truly going on either.

This book was made into a 3-part TV miniseries, and I am looking forward to watching it.

Description: When offered the post once styled Church of England Deliverance Minister, the Reverend Merrily Watkins -- parish priest and single parent -- cannot easily refuse. But the retiring exorcist, strongly objecting to women priests, not only refuses to help Merrily but ensures that she's soon exposed to the job at its most terrifying. And things get no easier as an early winter slices through the old city of Hereford, a body is found in the River Wye, an ancient church is desecrated and there are signs of dark ritual on a hill overlooking the city.

Cumulative pages: 544

Jan 16, 8:49 pm

I'm glad your Christmas/New Year read was a good one. Which of your book lists will you pick from next?

Editado: Jan 16, 9:00 pm

>45 labfs39: My hold on The Ten Thousand Doors of January just came in, from my Themes: Doors list. So that will be next. Thought I still had a couple weeks to wait, but I'm so happy to actually get it in January... (and yes, I know the character's name is January, not that it takes place in January....)

Jan 18, 12:51 am

I watched the ITV production of Midwinter of the Spirit last night. It was pretty good. I would watch it again. I'm sure it was intended to lead to an extended series, but alas, that didn't happen. Here's an overview by someone who has not read the book:

I wholeheartedly agree that a film must be allowed to be its own thing, and that you can't pare a 544 p. book down into 140 minutes without leaving a great deal out. So having said I thought it was pretty good, it definitely strayed quite a bit.

What I liked:
I do think in general they captured the essence of the book.
I liked the actor that portrayed Merrily. It really emphasized just how young she was (even if she did have a 16-year-old daughter).
I think the film managed to keep the ambiguity of the paranormal - you could go either way with it.

What I didn't like:
Wrong season. I got no sense of it being wintertime at all.
The relationship between Merrily and Jane. In the film, Jane was an out and out rebel, despising her mother's profession. Yes, she did this in the book, too, but it was more ambivalent. She came across as much more savvy in the book, and she was able to come around on her own, even helping and supporting her mother in the final scene at the Cathedral.
The Satanists or whatever they were. First of all - everything in the film was tied into this group, and it was such a mishmash that I never got any sense of what exactly they were trying to do. It was all too unfocused. I'm not explaining that very well.
Some very key people in the book were left out of the film entirely. I think this contributed to my overall feeling that the book was just too "diluted" in the film.

Jan 21, 7:59 pm

Sunday update (Jan. 21):
Contrary to popular opinion, it is not ALWAYS the coldest day of the year on my birthday. It got up to 21 today after a week in the deep freezer. Going to be 30s the rest of the week. You'd think I would have gotten lots of reading done, but sadly I am falling behind. The only book that really matters is Destiny of the Republic for book club on Tuesday. 70 pages to go. I have meant to do some catching up today, but instead I made a cake for myself, and now am contemplating what would be a good movie to watch tonight. And - oh, look - there's a documentary about James Garfield...

Two more acquisitions: Chirp Books had The Doors of Eden on sale, and my hold on Libby was over 16 weeks, so I bought it. It fits the genre challenge and the cover color challenge for January. Audiobook, so I'll read it next after The Ten Thousand Doors of January.
Also got my ILL hold on The Romance of Tristan so I need to get to that in the next couple of weeks before it has to go back.

Jan 21, 8:03 pm

Happy Birthday, Laurel!

Jan 21, 8:59 pm

Happy Birthday!

Jan 22, 12:00 am

>48 WelshBookworm: Happy Birthday!

Jan 22, 1:13 am

Thanks for the birthday wishes! I finished reading Destiny of the Republic. Review tomorrow.

Jan 22, 8:06 am

Happy birthday!

Jan 22, 4:30 pm

#2 Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President
4.5 blue stars rounded up.

Although I attended Garfield Elementary School (one of many so named), I knew next to nothing about this president. How did he come to be so honored when he only served a few months as president? I'm not sure this book answers that question - it is not a biography. It's a narrative history mainly of those few months. As portrayed here, you might think that Garfield is quite a heroic figure, along with Alexander Graham Bell, against the despicable Charles Guiteau and Dr. Doctor Bliss. But I don't rate a book for what it is not. It's a snapshot of people and a time and a place in history and it is fascinating to think about all the what if's - what if Garfield had survived and served out his term? What if medical practice had been quicker to adopt the necessity of sterilization put forth by Joseph Lister? Would Alexander Graham Bell still have invented his induction balance device? You quickly realize that we are caught between two worlds in politics and in medicine, and that some things never change - the allure of corruption, or our inability to address mental illness, for example. One bright spot here - the redemption of Chester Arthur and just who is this Julia Sand? Now there's a whole other book to be written... This is a book that will make you want to learn more about, well, everything - Garfield's early life, his wife Lucretia, Garfield's writing (we only get tantalizing quotes at the beginning of each chapter), how politics changed (at least temporarily) for the better - and a book that does that is a good book.

Description: James A. Garfield may have been the most extraordinary man ever elected president. Born into abject poverty, he rose to become a wunderkind scholar, a Civil War hero, and a renowned and admired reformist congressman. Nominated for president against his will, he engaged in a fierce battle with the corrupt political establishment. But four months after his inauguration, a deranged office seeker tracked Garfield down and shot him in the back. But the shot didn’t kill Garfield. The drama of what hap­pened subsequently is a powerful story of a nation in tur­moil. The unhinged assassin’s half-delivered strike shattered the fragile national mood of a country so recently fractured by civil war, and left the wounded president as the object of a bitter behind-the-scenes struggle for power—over his administration, over the nation’s future, and, hauntingly, over his medical care. A team of physicians administered shockingly archaic treatments, to disastrous effect. As his con­dition worsened, Garfield received help: Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, worked around the clock to invent a new device capable of finding the bullet.

Cumulative pages: 883

Jan 22, 4:44 pm

>54 WelshBookworm: I liked River of Doubt, so I picked up Destiny of the Republic, even though US presidents aren't people I tend to read about. I'm glad to know it's interesting. I will probably read her book on the Nile, River of the Gods, next as I requested it from the library and it should be almost here.

Jan 22, 5:14 pm

>55 labfs39: Yes, I'd like to read that one, too, now.

Jan 22, 5:58 pm

Fabulous review of Destiny of the Republic, Laurel. I'm somewhat familiar with the medical misadventures that led to President Garfield's death, so I'll be on the lookout for this book.

Jan 23, 8:39 am

>54 WelshBookworm: sounds like a great and actually inspirational read.

Jan 23, 2:31 pm

I found a PBS Documentary based on Candace Millard's book last night: American Experience: The Murder of a President.
Every bit as fascinating as the book, and well-acted. The recreated scenes were interspersed with narration, photos, excerpts from letters, etc.

Jan 23, 2:34 pm

Re River of Doubt, there's an interesting novel about Teddy Roosevelt's Amazon adventure, Roosevelt's Beast. I've read it, but still need to get to River of Doubt

Jan 25, 8:40 pm

>54 WelshBookworm: I knew absolutely nothing about Garfield before reading that book but it quickly became one of my favourite non-fiction reads. It's been nearly 10 years since I read it but the details have stuck with me more than most non-fiction I've read. I still vividly remember the section where he ends up getting voted as the presidential candidate despite his own protests that he wasn't even running for it.

Jan 28, 9:59 pm

Extremely belated happy birthday! I'm just catching up after a couple of weeks off the site.

Jan 28, 10:36 pm

>62 lisapeet: Thank you, Lisa! I celebrate all month, so you're good...

Jan 29, 3:01 pm

January is fast disappearing! How did that happen? I've decided that any monthly challenges (A Good Yarn, the genre challenge, the cover color challenge, etc.) need to be at least started during the month in question - even if it takes me 6 months to finish, at least I started it in the right month. Ha ha. Okay. So I've had two possible sci fi picks lined up, both audiobooks, and both also fit the cover color challenge, but I already have a Good Yarn book started that also fits that. The problem is - the bluetooth went out in my car again. It has been a whole week and I haven't been able to listen to my current read (which I'd like to finish before I start a new one...) I'll try again this afternoon to get it reconnected, before my one hour drive to my women's choir rehearsal this evening. (I even tried plugging the phone in manually, which worked last time this happened, and maybe I should just do that ALL the time, but I couldn't get that to work either.) One way or another, I will get it working today. If nothing else, I will use ear buds! Anyway, with only 3 days left in January, I took a look at everything tagged sci fi in my TBR, and sorted by number of pages. I've got several chunky books going, and I really need something short that I can finish fast. So I just downloaded (Libby) the graphic novel The Orville, Season 1.5. I enjoyed the TV series very much! Perfect. Only about 80 pages. I might even get it read this afternoon!

Jan 29, 5:26 pm

>64 WelshBookworm: How did that happen indeed! Good luck with all your reading projects.

Jan 31, 9:17 pm

#3 The Orville Season 1.5: New Beginnings
3 green stars.

If you are a fan of the TV show, you will like this. I am not sure this could stand alone. Obviously it would help to be familiar with the show and the characters. Consider these to be two mini-episodes that take place just after the end of season one. I thought the second story especially had some merit about a group of humans that have embraced the Krill's worship of Avis. There were some ideas there that could be expanded into a full episode. The artwork is colorful, the characters are recognizable. But this is all too short, and just a tease really.

Description: Picking up where season one of Seth MacFarlane's space adventure TV series leaves off, this volume contains four episodic chapters:

In part 1 of New Beginnings: Ed and Gordon follow a faint distress signal belonging to a long-lost Union vessel only to end up shot down on an irradiated, war-torn desert planet in the hands of an unknown species. In part 2 of New Beginnings: As Ed and Gordon uncover the truth of a century-old war, they fear that their eventual rescue may endanger the rest of the Orville crew. Not only does the crew's lives hang in the balance but all life on the entire planet.

In part 1 of The Word of Avis: The Orville intercepts a small Union ship en route to the interstellar territory of the easily aggravated Krill. They thought the passengers were just a simple group of xenoanthropologists, but they turn out to be something much more interesting. In part 2 of The Word of Avis: Dragged off course and into Krill territory, the Orville crew find themselves in a battle for their lives, with threats from both outside and within.

Cumulative pages: 979

Editado: Mar 6, 3:05 pm

February plans:
Currently reading 7 books (yikes!) which is much too ambitious, but a couple of those are long term reads that I won't finish until the end of February. I won't list them here - see my February log which I'll post shortly.

When I finish the current audiobook, I'll be starting
READ The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot for my Daytimers book club. I need to read
READ Our Missing Hearts first for my Perspectives book club - they meet sooner - but I still have a two week hold. Hopefully it will come sooner.

The February genre challenge is "romance" and the cover color challenge is chocolate brown or pink. I have a hold on
READ Lovely War which fits both, but the hold is 5 weeks. I do have a couple other options...
The Forbidden Garden or
The Chocolate Maker's Wife. Not sure those would be considered a romance, but I am currently reading
READ The Romance of Tristan so that works...

A Good Yarn is doing "O" locations. I just finished
READ The Orville Season 1.5 which fits (both The Orville as a location, and outer space as a location.) Perhaps I should let it go at that while I get caught up, but we'll see. I can always add an update later.

I'll be starting
The Princes in the Tower soon for an online book club.

And that is plenty to contemplate for now....

Editado: Fev 27, 4:56 pm

February Log

The Ten Thousand Doors of January - finished Feb. 3
The Romance of Tristan - finished Feb. 7
The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot - finished Feb. 13
An Unfortunate Christmas Murder - finished Feb. 15
Our Missing Hearts - finished Feb. 20

Currently reading:
The Weaver and the Witch Queen
Ahab's Wife - restarted on Jan. 8
Moby Dick - restarted on Jan. 8
Blue Mountains and Other Gaelic Stories from Cape Breton - started Jan. 24, A Good Yarn "N" challenge (Nova Scotia), and January cover color challenge (sky blue)
The Princes in the Tower - started Feb. 7
Lovely War - Feb. genre challenge and cover color challenge - started Feb. 21
Black Dogs, Yellow Butterflies - short (90 p.) Prequel to Behind Closed Doors - started Feb. 21
The Ice Swan for the January cover color challenge - started Feb. 23

Next up:
Tooth and Claw - for The Reading Loft
A Vision of Light - Audible
The Beacon at Alexandria - started Feb. 17, but paused almost immediately to swap in another book.
Tomb for an Eagle - A Good Yarn (O is for Orkney)

Possibly Pending:
The Wild Inside - I've started it a couple of times, and if I don't read it soon, I never will.
Secrets of the Sprakkar - on hold on Libby ~3 weeks
The Wolf Den - on hold on Libby ~12 weeks
The Mountains Sing - Perspectives book club book for March
The Unquiet Bones - O setting (Oxford) for a Good Yarn, and Feb. cover color challenge
The Wild Robot Protects - placed hold on Libby

New Acquisitions:
The Beacon at Alexandria - purchased on Kindle
A Vision of Light - purchased on Audible
A Marriage of Lions - Kindle, on sale
Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph - Audible credit
Beatrice Stubbs Series Boxset One - Audible credit
Song of Roland - Chirp audiobooks, translation by D.D.R. Owen

Still might read:
A Midwinter's Tail - it was on my Dec. 2023 plans but didn't get to it. Save for Dec. 2024?
Sing Them Home for A Good Yarn (N is for Nebraska). Owned.
The Running Grave - purchased on Audible.
The Fallen from Paradise - owned on Audible - fits the Jan sci fi genre and blue color cover challenge
Wild and Distant Seas - ARC - Moby Dick theme...
Within the Fetterlock - purchased print copy on Amazon
The Doors of Eden - Fits the Jan. challenge criteria (genre AND cover color) - discounted on Chirp audio today (the 21st) so I bought it - my hold on Libby was over 16 weeks....
The Forbidden Garden - alternate Feb. cover color challenge
The Chocolate Maker's Wife - alternate Feb. cover color challenge

Fev 2, 11:02 am

>67 WelshBookworm: I love the cat picture

Fev 2, 2:27 pm

Lovely kitties!

Fev 2, 9:14 pm

>69 labfs39: and >70 markon: Thanks! I like it too. It makes me think of a Celtic knot....

Fev 2, 10:33 pm

>67 WelshBookworm: What gorgeous, healthy cattos! How many are there? I count three.

Fev 3, 1:12 am

>72 RidgewayGirl: Yes, there are three in the picture: Henry on top, Mama (Beatrix) on the left, and Jessie on the right. I have 5 cats all together.

Editado: Fev 4, 1:32 pm

#4 The Ten Thousand Doors of January
4 red stars.
Themes: Doors

Not without its faults, but I enjoyed it and would read more by this author. I wasn't sure what this book wanted to be at first with its nested, book within a book structure. But once the pieces began to fall into place it got harder to put down. The writing is beautiful. It is full of metaphors about books, and doors, and the power of words. The tale is inventive, and full of adventure, with perhaps a tendency to be over the top occasionally. There are good guys and bad guys and a loveable dog. There are sailors and scholars (Scallers!), mad men, vampires, evil governesses, strong women, interconnected worlds, and lots and lots of doors. There probably won't be a sequel, but there were loose ends that leave at least the possibility.

Description: In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut. In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place. Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure, and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world, and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Cumulative pages: 1,353

Fev 4, 10:57 am

>74 WelshBookworm: sounds interesting

Fev 4, 2:34 pm

>74 WelshBookworm: I've not read anything else by her and I've heard mixed opinions of her longer works, but at the end of last year I listened to the audiobooks of both the Fractured Fables novellas by Alix E. Harrow in one day and really enjoyed them. Nothing too deep but they were a lot of fun.

Fev 4, 9:22 pm

>76 valkyrdeath: I may have been generous with 4 stars, but I thought it was impressive enough as a debut novel. I expect the next books to be even better, but of course that isn't always the case.

Fev 7, 4:53 pm

#5 The Romance of Tristan
4 red stars.

The original French text of Beroul is described as a poem, and this is a prose translation. I do wish the translator/editor had included at least a sample of the French poetry in his introduction, so that we could see the structure and rhyme scheme. Nor did he say much about Beroul. Admittedly, almost nothing is known. I would have liked a little more historical context. I found most of the introduction unenlightening. Perhaps I would get more out of his analysis reading it AFTER I had read the translation, so that's what I recommend. The prose translation itself is delightful, and unexpectedly humorous. The author is firmly on the side of the lovers, and presumes that God and his readers are too. They get into one predicament after another, but always manage to outwit the powers that be in a very clever manner. This is not the tragedy that other retellers have portrayed.

Description: This edition contains perhaps the earliest and most elemental version of the tragic legend of Tristan and Yseult in a distinguished prose translation. Alan S. Fredrick summarizes missing episodes and includes a translation of 'The Tale of Tristan's Madness.'

Cumulative pages: 1,529

Fev 7, 8:55 pm

>78 WelshBookworm: ooh, fantastic. What translation/edition did you use? I’ve thought about this - although I only know that because I found “Béroul” in my notes. 🙂 (with dates)

Fev 7, 11:56 pm

>79 dchaikin: I read the Beroul translated by Fredrick. I've read other versions in the past (Bedier) but it has been a long time, so I really can't compare. I read this one because it was on Rebecca's List. I've read plenty of "modern" fiction retellings also, as I read a lot of Arthurian fiction.

Editado: Fev 16, 2:24 pm

#6 The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot
5 purple stars

Without a doubt, this will be in my top ten this year. I adored Lenni and Margot both, and wish they were real people that I could hang out with. Margot, especially, had such an interesting life - I could listen to her stories all day. It's sad, and sometimes a bit heavy, but there is humor too, and philosophical ponderings about life. Their friendship is special. Margot and "Father" Arthur serve as surrogate parents for Lenni. Ultimately it is about finding love and being loved. I had a special older friend in my life, too, but I would be hard pressed to turn it into a book. Still, we all have stories to tell. The last line will stick with me for a long time. "It isn't so big, close up."

Description: Seventeen-year-old Lenni Pettersson lives on the Terminal Ward at the Glasgow Princess Royal Hospital. Though the teenager has been told she’s dying, she still has plenty of living to do. Joining the hospital’s arts and crafts class, she meets the magnificent Margot, an 83-year-old, purple-pajama-wearing, fruitcake-eating rebel, who transforms Lenni in ways she never imagined. As their friendship blooms, a world of stories opens for these unlikely companions who, between them, have been alive for one hundred years. Though their days are dwindling, both are determined to leave their mark on the world. With the help of Lenni’s doting palliative care nurse and Father Arthur, the hospital’s patient chaplain, Lenni and Margot devise a plan to create one hundred paintings showcasing the stories of the century they have lived—stories of love and loss, of courage and kindness, of unexpected tenderness and pure joy.

Cumulative pages: 1,851

Fev 15, 9:32 pm

>81 WelshBookworm: sounds sad. Great review

Fev 15, 10:03 pm

>81 WelshBookworm: Nice review. I like "and wish they were real people that I could hang out with." I've encountered characters like that.

Fev 16, 4:10 am

>81 WelshBookworm: You've made this sound very appealing (despite the sad and heavy) so I'm adding this to my wishlist.

Fev 16, 2:21 pm

>84 rhian_of_oz: It really isn't that sad and heavy. It's more about living than dying, and I found it rather inspiring and uplifting. But yes, you may shed some tears at the end.

Fev 16, 2:31 pm

#7 An Unfortunate Christmas Murder
3 pink stars
A "next-in-series" read because it was Christmas-time.

A pink star rating may be a tad generous, but I have the next book in the series. The plot was decent. I'm just not terribly enamored of the characters. Margery and Clementine are now married and Margery is now the school's kitchen manager. Clementine kind of took a backseat in this "episode" I thought. The rivalry between the two schools was kind of fun. And they manage to get into plenty of trouble, with Christmas trees catching on fire, spying on the neighboring school's Christmas pageant rehearsals, keeping on the good side of their neighbor, Dawn. A dog kidnapping. Climbing through air vents... No mention of ear trumpets this time, but I got seriously tired of everything being described as "ginormous." A couple of times is funny, but by the dozenth time it starts to be wearing. I like to sandwich cozies in between more serious reading, but the fact that this took me more than 6 weeks to finish says it was okay, but not very compelling. I probably won't pick up the next book until it shows up in my annual random reading picks.

Description: In the small town of Dewstow, 'tis the season for gold, frankincense, and murder... It’s Margery’s first year as kitchen manager for Summerview school and supported by her wife, Clementine, she is trying to stay focused. When a tragic accident claims the life of the music teacher during rehearsals for the Christmas concert planning, they are caught in the crossfire. Mrs Smith, the Head of Drama, becomes the prime suspect, and is desperate for the Dinner Lady Detectives to clear her name. Mrs Smith is convinced that it’s sabotage by her rival from Ittonvale Secondary, but there’s evidence that points to her own misdeeds. Can Margery and Clementine trust their friend? And when things start to heat up in the kitchen, will they make it out in time?

Cumulative pages: 2,137

Editado: Mar 6, 3:04 pm

Mid-February update:
I've significantly updated message number 68 above (February log). Now that I am starting to catch up with my reading, I've added a few more pending titles. I purchased
The Beacon at Alexandria on Kindle, and hope to get to that soon. Also added a short story which is a prequel to one of my "doors" theme titles:
READ Black Dogs, Yellow Butterflies

Then I added another section of titles I've considered for challenges, or they were recently acquired. Those are probably farther out than "Possibly Pending" and some may get abandonned, but at this point I'm trying to keep them on my radar and not scattered in various update posts.

Fev 17, 7:14 am

>87 WelshBookworm: Six weeks into the new year sounds like a good time to revisit our goals and plans.

Fev 17, 10:37 am

>81 WelshBookworm: Sounds like fun.

Editado: Fev 19, 4:14 pm

Following the thread on pencils on Kevin's (stretch) thread, it has occured to me that coloring books are books. So here is a picture I've been working on from the book Lovely Animals color by numbers. I've got 4 of her books. I'm not very talented at coloring (shading and all that), so I do prefer the color by number books. I have a ridiculous number of pencil sets. This one is with Castle Arts Soft Touch & Pasteltint colored pencils.

Fev 20, 9:29 am

>90 WelshBookworm: Oh the style is similar to the ones I used to do as a kid and personally my favourite. I really miss the "color by numbers". I think I'll look around for it.

Fev 20, 1:23 pm

>91 dicentra8: Inês, I loved it as a kid too. That's why I got back into it as an adult. I've always liked crafts that had to do with color. I probably have at least two bookcase shelves full of coloring books - not all color by number, but mostly. One of these days I should add them to my LT shelves along with my cookbooks.

Editado: Fev 20, 11:33 pm

I'll be finishing my current audiobook before book club tonight, and I don't have to start my next book club book for a couple of weeks, so I just asked my coworker for a random number, and that turned out to be A Vision of Light from my 2024 priority book shelf. Spent an Audible credit for it, so I'll be starting it tomorrow.

Oops, nevermind. Just looked at what I already have checked out on Libby, and I need to listen to Lovely War first for the Feb. cover color challenge. I thought I was still on the waiting list...

Fev 21, 12:34 am

#8 Our Missing Hearts
3.5 pink stars

This had some nice things going for it. The overall concept. The importance of art and storytelling in difficult times. The exploration of what makes a good parent. The characters of Bird and Sadie. Everyone else was rather underdeveloped. In fact, maybe underdeveloped is my overall description of this book. I loved the idea of heroic underground librarians, but again - underdeveloped. Everything they did was very passive. The idea of PACT was rather chilling, but whatever led up to it was not very credibly explained. And the ending - I feel like I'm still waiting for the conclusion.

Description: Twelve-year-old Bird Gardner lives a quiet existence with his loving father, a former linguist who now shelves books in a university library. His mother Margaret, a Chinese American poet, left without a trace when he was nine years old. He doesn’t know what happened to her—only that her books have been banned—and he resents that she cared more about her work than about him. Then one day, Bird receives a mysterious letter containing only a cryptic drawing, and soon he is pulled into a quest to find her. His journey will take him back to the many folktales she poured into his head as a child, through the ranks of an underground network of heroic librarians, and finally to New York City, where he will finally learn the truth about what happened to his mother, and what the future holds for them both. Our Missing Hearts is an old story made new, of the ways supposedly civilized communities can ignore the most searing injustice. It’s about the lessons and legacies we pass on to our children, and the power of art to create change.

Cumulative pages: 2,472

Editado: Fev 22, 9:43 am

>81 WelshBookworm: hi, thanks for sending me your link (why is it so hard to find LTers threads?) first, love your kitties, second love your themes! what a great idea. I was in a book group once that did a theme a month, and the group could read whatever they wanted in that theme. the discussions were always interested.

Liked that review of all our missing hearts. I liked it alot when I read it, but like you felt there was too much missing, esp the background of the pact. Saw a lot of connections to our world today, and based on what else shes written, Im assuming that was on purpose.

Im really interested in lenni and margo,. sounds like something id read. on my list i should probably ask - im not a fan of twee. Do you think Ill be put off by it?

Fev 22, 10:13 am

>95 cindydavid4: Yes it can be difficult to find members’ threads. You need to know the title of the thread which is hard if the member’s name isn’t in it, or if their last post was more than a few days ago.

Fev 22, 10:55 am

>67 WelshBookworm: We get cat puddles like that around here too. :) Yours look so content and cozy!

Fev 22, 12:29 pm

>95 cindydavid4: Not twee. I really loved it. And suggested it for my church book club, so it's on our list for May. And I did like listening to Our Missing Hearts. I cared about Bird, and she kept the suspense going in the last third of the book. Yes, I agree the ambiguity at the end was probably on purpose. We all have a choice what we're going to do - in the next presidential election for example... I could have rounded my rating up to 4 stars. I thought about it, but decided not.

Fev 22, 4:23 pm

>95 cindydavid4: For Club Read members, maybe you could bookmark our group page It's a single page long and it's easier to scan the titles for the username you want.

Editado: Abr 3, 12:15 am

Update and an upcoming week off:

Ugh, I keep starting new books and then changing my mind on what is a priority, and I really need to try and finish some of the ones I'm currently reading.

READ The Weaver and the Witch Queen Started back in December! So I really hope to get that finished this week.
READ The Blue Mountains and Other Gaelic Stories from Cape Breton isn't terribly long, so I will prioritize getting that finished as well.
READ Black Dogs, Yellow Butterflies is only 90 pages, so that could be knocked out in a day.
Then I started
The Ice Swan last night just because. Could I possibly get that read this week, too?

Fev 24, 5:09 pm

>100 WelshBookworm: That's a lot! Good luck!

Fev 26, 3:47 am

>100 WelshBookworm: Good luck, I hope something sticks.

I'll be interested to hear what you think about The Weaver and the Witch Queen.

Fev 27, 2:21 pm

Just a book-keeping note: I've completely redone message #6 above. It wasn't working to list all book club selections in one monthly list, so I went back and listed my real life book clubs separately.

Fev 27, 4:58 pm

>103 WelshBookworm: Wow, that's a lot to track.

Editado: Abr 5, 9:36 pm

Happy Saint David's Day!!

Plans for March:

I had hoped to finish more books this week, but alas, I've been distracted by doctor's visits (annual wellness exam) and genealogy and the necessary neverending housework. I won't relist those - trying to minimize how many posts I have to edit with READ when I do finish them. You can see them in the March log which will follow this post anyway.

On audio, I am still reading
READ Lovely War (4 hours to go.) Next up is
READ The Mountains Sing for Perspectives book club (meets March 19.) After that, I haven't decided if I'll be doing the Daytimers book on audio or not:
The Woman They Could Not Silence: One Woman, Her Incredible Fight for Freedom, and the Men Who Tried to Make Her Disappear It's non-fiction so maybe not. I'll update that later in March.

For A Good Yarn, we have decided to go back to two months per letter, so still on O. I'd like to read
Tomb for an Eagle (set in Orkney) and possibly
The Unquiet Bones (Oxford)

Then the Hardy group on Goodreads is starting
Far From the Madding Crowd on March 17 to go through most of May. I am aiming to finish up Moby Dick and Ahab's Wife by then for long term reads.

I would like to get going on some B titles for one of my annual challenges...
The Beacon at Alexandria
READ Black Dogs, Yellow Butterflies prequel to
Behind Closed Doors by JJ Marsh, a Welsh author (and also a "doors" theme title.)

For the March cover color challenge (goldenrod or purple) some of the above may fit. If not I have
The Unpleasantness at the Battle of Thornford which is a short story, so I should be able to squeeze it in. And possibly
READ The Curse of the Pharaohs on audio if I'm not listening to the Daytimer's book. If not that, I might listen to
The Secret Garden to kick off my "garden" theme titles.

The March genre focus is mystery, and again several of the above fall into that category.

And that is definitely enough lined up to start with!

Editado: Mar 30, 1:02 pm

March Log

Lovely War - Feb. genre challenge and cover color challenge - finished Mar. 3
Black Dogs, Yellow Butterflies - short (90 p.) Prequel to Behind Closed Doors - started and finished on Mar. 5
The Mountains Sing - Perspectives book club - finished on Mar. 12
The Blue Mountains and Other Gaelic Stories from Cape Breton = Na Beanntaichean Gorma agus Sgeulachdan Eile Ceap Breatainn - finished Mar. 14
Books Can Be Deceiving - audiobook finished on Mar. 17
Dragons at Crumbling Castle - finished on Mar. 22
The Curse of the Pharoahs - finished Mar. 29

Currently reading:
The Weaver and the Witch Queen
Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer - restarted on Jan. 8
Moby-Dick or, The Whale - restarted on Jan. 8
The Princes in the Tower: Solving History's Greatest Cold Case - started Feb. 7
The Ice Swan - for the Jan. cover color challenge - started on Feb. 23
Far From the Madding Crowd - started on Mar. 19
Secrets of the Sprakkar: Iceland's Extraordinary Women and How They Are Changing the World - started Mar. 30

Next up:
The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner
The Wild Robot Protects
The Unquiet Bones
A Vision of Light random pick from my lists by a coworker
The Beacon at Alexandria
Tomb for an Eagle - owned on Kindle, A Good Yarn - O is for Orkney
Behind Closed Doors - Audible
The Wolf Den - checked out on Libby

Possibly Pending:
The Wild Inside- I've started it a couple of times, and if I don't read it soon, I never will.
The Unpleasantness at the Battle of Thornford - March cover color challenge
The Secret Garden

New Acquisitions:
His Castilian Hawk - .99 on Amazon
The Irish Inheritance - free on Amazon

Still might read:
The Running Grave - purchased on Audible.
The Fallen from Paradise - owned on Audible - fits the Jan sci fi genre and blue color cover challenge
Within The Fetterlock - purchased print copy on Amazon
The Doors of Eden - Fits the Jan. challenge criteria (genre AND cover color) - Chirp audio
The Forbidden Garden - alternate Feb. cover color challenge
The Chocolate Maker's Wife - alternate Feb. cover color challenge

Mar 1, 3:34 pm

So many choices!

Mar 1, 7:25 pm

Oh, I still haven’t read Hardy. I hope you find him rewarding.

Mar 1, 7:39 pm

>108 dchaikin: How can this be?

Mar 1, 11:13 pm

>108 dchaikin: This will be my first Hardy, other than poetry...

Mar 2, 10:49 am

As Lisa said, so many choices! I hope you enjoy The mountains sing. I liked it a lot when I read it.

Mar 4, 10:44 am

>109 kjuliff: Victorian literature is one of my biggest holes. I’ve spent the last ten years filling some holes in the 20th century and ancient literature, but not much in the 19th century. 😁

Mar 4, 10:48 am

>112 dchaikin: I see. I just assumed you’d read the better-known writers as your reading is so extensive.

Editado: Mar 4, 4:37 pm

#9 Lovely War
4 red stars.

Listen to the audiobook if you can. This was a lovely production with multiple narrators and even a pianist. I loved the combination of Greek mythology and music which made this not just another WWI or WWII book. Some reviewers did not like the framing technique of the Greek Gods, but that made it something a little different. It puts an interesting perspective on the whims of the gods as they interact with mortals depending on their interests (Ares - War, Aphrodite - Love, Hades - Death, Apollo - Fame (or Music?), etc.) and they aren't necessarily at cross-purposes. The love stories themselves were sweet and entirely suitable for teenaged readers or those who want "clean" love stories. By itself, that probably wouldn't have been enough to carry the book, but there was enough history (some real people were included among the military personnel), the racial tensions of black regiments serving in WWI, the role of musicians and other entertainers, the influence of jazz, the effects of PTSD on soldiers, etc. Be warned, there is some graphic violence and murder in the telling, but as in a typical romance be assured that all will be well in the end. While I enjoyed the "performance" I do feel that the way the story was written kept the reader feeling more like an observer than the kind of immersive reading experience that would have merited 5 stars.

Description: A critically acclaimed, multilayered romance set in the perilous days of World Wars I and II, where gods hold the fates - and the hearts - of four mortals in their hands. They are Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Colette. A classical pianist from London, a British would-be architect turned soldier, a Harlem-born ragtime genius in the US Army, and a Belgian orphan with a gorgeous voice and a devastating past. Their story, as told by goddess Aphrodite, who must spin the tale or face judgment on Mount Olympus, is filled with hope and heartbreak, prejudice and passion, and reveals that, though war is a formidable force, it's no match for the transcendent power of love.

Cumulative pages: 2,943

Mar 4, 4:19 pm

>114 WelshBookworm: What an unusual blend of elements!

Mar 5, 12:34 pm

>114 WelshBookworm: i like the concept. Enjoyed your review

Editado: Mar 6, 5:40 pm

#10 Black Dogs, Yellow Butterflies
3.5 pink stars

This is a prequel novella to the Beatrice Stubbs mystery series by Welsh author (now living in Switzerland) J.J. Marsh. It is available free from the author by signing up for the newsletter on her website. It is not a mystery in itself, but introduces the main recurring characters, the kind of work that Beatrice does, the people she works with, and the physical and psychological effects of her bipolar disorder (aptly described by the title.) I don't think that is a spoiler, since the author states it upfront in her description of the series on her website. I won't say more than that about "the incident." I was thrown a little bit by the switch midstream from a story about a case, which gets summarily resolved in a paragraph, and then we are on to the events of the 2011 London riots in which Beatrice is called back to London from a badly needed vacation with her boyfriend in Devon to help quell the uprising. As a "reader magnet" though, this did its job and I am eager to read more about Beatrice, Matthew, and Adrian.

Description from the author: It’s summertime and there’s something in the air. Everyone is celebrating: a wedding, a pregnancy, a promotion. Tensions are rising and so are temperatures. But Beatrice Stubbs has other things on her mind. Fighting battles at work, with loved ones and even her hair, she’s not prepared for her worst enemy. In this prequel to The Beatrice Stubbs Series, we find out the real story behind ‘the incident’ and why some secrets should be kept forever.

Description of the series: Beatrice is in her fifties and considering early retirement after many years of duty to the Metropolitan Police. She is well aware that the stress and emotional turmoil of her job makes her battle with bipolar disorder more difficult. Yet she persists, fearing the emptiness of life without Scotland Yard. Her long-suffering partner Matthew, Classics Professor, is still trying to persuade her to move in with him after twenty years of coupledom. Her downstairs neighbour, Adrian, is a wine merchant and soloist with the London Gay Men’s Choir. His friendship with Beatrice and his fascination with her job give him great pleasure and occasionally, life-threatening drama. Sent on international assignments by her irascible boss, Hamilton, Beatrice collaborates with police forces all over Europe to track down bad guys. Some teams are more successful than others but whatever the outcome, working with Beatrice Stubbs is an experience none of them will forget.

Cumulative pages: 3,033

Editado: Mar 13, 8:55 pm

#11 The Mountains Sing
4 red stars

Beautifully told, and as the description says, "steeped in the language and traditions of Việt Nam." I loved the folk wisdom and the proverbs, and listening to this book on audio, the melodic feel of the language. I do recommend the audiobook, because without hearing it spoken, I would have no idea how the words are pronounced. Although the author says she grew up in south Việt Nam, this novel really seemed to present things from the point of view of the north Vietnamese. Although forced to leave the family farm, they flee only to Hanoi, not farther south. Not fans of communism, the distrust between north and south is clear, as well as no love lost for Americans who wreaked havoc on their country with the bombing and Agent Orange and all the other horrors of war. Some of that may have reflected a certain amount of propaganda. I wasn't always sure that I could trust the point of view of the narrators. There are lots of coincidences and a somewhat unrealistic ending. I also found the two timelines back and forth very confusing, perhaps because both are about the relationship between a grandmother and her granddaughter. But certainly the importance and love of family comes through, and the importance of forgiveness in healing from trauma. My book club discusses this next week. Perhaps I will add their impressions later.

Description: Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore not just her beloved country, but her family apart. Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Việt Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope.

Cumulative pages: 3,385

Mar 13, 5:55 pm

>118 WelshBookworm: I thought The Mountains Sing was beautifully written too. In my review, I included this info about and by the author, which you may find interesting:

Born in northern Vietnam in 1973, but growing up in southern Vietnam after the war, Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai had a foot in both worlds. She won a writing competition at the age of ten, but her parents did not want her to be a writer due to the hardships authors faced from censors. Her brother started to teach her English when she was in the eighth grade, and she eventually won a scholarship to university in Australia. She has written eleven books⁠—poetry, short fiction, and nonfiction⁠—but this is her first novel and first book to be written in English.

It may seem ironic that I have chosen to write this novel, by far my most personal work to date, in English, which is also the language of invasive military powers and cultures. But this language has given me a new voice and a way to fictionalize the turbulent events of my country's past, including those that have not yet been sufficiently documented in Vietnamese fiction, such as the Great Hunger or the Land Reform. I am also responding to Hollywood movies and novels written by those Westerners who continue to see our country only as a place of war and the Vietnamese as people who don't need to speak⁠—or, when we do, sound simple, naïve, cruel, or opportunistic. The canon of Việt Nam war and post-war literature in English is vast, but there is a lack of voices from inside Việt Nam.
-Climbing Many Mountains: an Essay by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

Mar 13, 9:16 pm

>119 labfs39: Thank you, Lisa. I still have somewhat mixed feelings about it. In 1973 I was a senior in high school, and the draft had just ended the year before. I was of the generation that abhored our involvement in Viet Nam. On the one hand we wore the bracelets of soldiers MIA and on the other hand we were conscientious objectors. Images like My Lai and all the atrocities that were coming to light, not to mention the consequences of Agent Orange fed our collective guilt. But then there is the guilt of abandoning them entirely to Communism, too. We are really more familiar with the stories of the "boat people" escaping Viet Nam after the communists took over the whole country. What is modern Viet Nam really like? Do we demonize them like we do China and North Korea? Now here we are caught between Israel and the Palestinian peoples and Hamas. There just are no winners when it comes to war.

Mar 14, 7:38 am

>120 WelshBookworm: I read an interesting dual memoir lately written by a father, who escaped South Vietnam when the Americans left, and his daughter, who was born in the US but lived in both Hanoi and Saigon as a young adult. Although I had some problems with the relationship dynamics in the book, I thought the depictions of North and South Vietnam both then and now were interesting, especially since most of what I've read about Vietnam has to do with the war, not current times.

My daughter's school used to go to Vietnam for a month as their capstone project in the 8th grade, but her year they switched to Peru. She was so disappointed, although she ended up loving Peru. Although I have not been, Vietnam seems to be a vibrant country with an interesting meld of cultural influences. I don't feel there is anything to pity or demonize, but then I was too young during the Vietnam War to absorb the horror and guilt that some Americans a little older than me feel. Have you read much about or from the country?

Mar 14, 8:14 pm

>121 labfs39: No not much. What was the book you read?

Mar 15, 7:31 am

Mar 15, 3:21 pm

>123 labfs39: Okay, thanks. Doesn't seem to be available at my library, but I could try Interlibrary Loan...

Mar 15, 4:56 pm

#12 The Blue Mountains and Other Gaelic Stories from Cape Breton = Na Beanntaichean Gorma agus Sgeulachdan Eile Ceap Breatainn
3 green stars. This was a Barnes and Noble "Freebie Friday" that I've had practically since I first bought a Nook e-reader. It now seems to be quite expensive!

This collection of Gaelic stories from Cape Breton is only a small portion of what has been collected of an important oral tradition passed down through generations of story tellers. It is especially important now, as the language is dying out. These settlers of Cape Breton came from the Western Highlands of Scotland mainly during the early nineteenth-century where they continued to pass down their stories, some of which are very old indeed, dating back to early medieval times. Some of the "hero tales" have their counterparts in Ireland, other tales can be linked to Iceland and the Vikings. Another variety of tales, the "wonder tales" have an even wider distribution. The first story in this collection "Ian Son of the Big Fisherman" is found in most European and some Asian traditions and is at least as old as ancient Greece. There are tall tales, tales about robbers and thieves, tales of the Fionn, clan traditions, and fairy tales. The tales were collected between 1964 and 1989. At the end, the author presents a list of the reciters with short biographies. This is meant to be an introduction, not a definitive study. For those who want to learn more, there is a bibliography of key works on Gaelic and world storytelling.

Description: Shaw provides both the Gaelic texts and English translations. When possible, he identifies both the original Gaelic storyteller and the local reciters. Reciters in the collection include Joe Neil MacNeil, a major Canadian storyteller, as well as others whose stories have never before been published. The Blue Mountains and Other Gaelic Stories from Cape Breton showcases a unique and neglected storytelling tradition.

Cumulative pages: 3,624

Mar 15, 7:58 pm

>124 WelshBookworm: It was an early reviewer book, so won't be published until April I think.

Mar 15, 9:08 pm

>126 labfs39: Ah! Okay. I'll watch for it then.

Mar 16, 12:26 am

>125 WelshBookworm: Wow. Love that. Thanks for the review.

Mar 18, 1:48 pm

>125 WelshBookworm: how interesting!

On Vietnam - my daughter was there in December with American born Vietnamese friends, and loved it. In my own panic “research”, everyone i talked to who had recently been to Vietnam was quite reverent about their visit.

Mar 18, 2:26 pm

#13 Books Can Be Deceiving
3.5 pink stars rounded up.

I enjoyed this despite some pretty big plot holes. Don't think about it too hard - it's a cozy mystery! I needed something short and light, and this fit the bill, with a protagonist that I could identify with - academic librarian turned public librarian, likes crafts and book clubs, set in Connecticut where I was born. The characters are caricatures but sometimes that can be fun. The plot was slow to take off, but once it did, I didn't want to stop listening. Actually, it reminded me a lot of the Murder She Wrote series, although the main character is much younger. There's a hint of romance to be developed, and I'll continue with the series.

Description: Lindsey is getting into her groove as the director of the Briar Creek Public Library when a New York editor visits town, creating quite a buzz. Lindsey’s friend Beth wants to sell the editor her children’s book, but Beth’s boyfriend, a famous author, gets in the way. When they go to confront him, he’s found murdered—and Beth is the prime suspect. Lindsey has to act fast—before they throw the book at the wrong person.

Cumulative pages: 3,906

Editado: Abr 7, 5:07 pm

I've dithered about adding an update post this month, but I keep adding "filler" audiobooks while I wait for holds on the ones I really want to read right now. Normally, I would have another book club book to listen to this month (Daytimers), but since it is non-fiction I decided to read it instead. It is too soon to start my next book for Perspectives, and then the next Daytimers book for the end of April I have already read, so I have some space to fill.

I just finished
READ Books Can Be Deceiving - This was one of my Random Picks this year and it fit the genre challenge for March (mystery) and my personal challenge to read titles that start with the letter B this year.

Next I had planned another cozy mystery
READ The Curse of the Pharaohs which is also a Random Pick (Next in Series) and fits the March cover color challenge. But I had forgotten to download it from Libby while I had access to Wifi and had to find something else for my long drive to choir rehearsal. That turned out to be
READ Dragons at Crumbling Castle, a collection of short stories for children by Terry Pratchett. That had been prompted by a review of the second collection
READ The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner: And Other Stories which includes a set of stories set in Llandaffwnfafegettupagogo in the Wild West of Britain, Wales and of course THAT went straight to my Want to Read (Now) list.

Waiting in the wings is still
Behind Closed Doors by Welsh author J.J. Marsh and it's another B title and one of "door" themed titles.

I'd like to start
The Unquiet Bones which is set in Oxford for this months A Good Yarn. But my hold on Libby says ~6 weeks yet. Maybe it's just as well that A Good Yarn decided not to meet this month because of conflicts.

I'm jumping the gun a bit on this next one, because I won't get it started until April, but with no Daytimers book and a fair amount of time to cope with a monster book, I've got the latest Cormoran Strike book purchased and ready to go
The Running Grave

For print books I have plenty on the go already, but I'll just add
READ The Wild Robot Protects which I just learned about - it's a children's book, but I've read the first two in the series and loved them. Should be easy to squeeze in.

Also a short story/novella, and another mystery, and it fits the cover color challenge
The Unpleasantness at the Battle of Thornford

Mar 20, 9:36 am

>131 WelshBookworm: My niece and I read Wild Robot and now she's reading Wild Robot Escapes to me. We are both enjoying them.

Mar 22, 2:21 pm

Well, my hold on The Unquiet Bones came up early, but I have postponed it for a couple of weeks. Almost done with Dragons at Crumbling Castle and while that has been fun, I think I will listen to The Curse of the Pharoahs rather than the next Pratchett since it is due back first. I need something light right now, but more involving than short stories. My mom is in surgery at this moment for a wound on her foot (she is diabetic) that is infected, and the infection has spread to the bones. We have given consent to have toes amputated if necessary. She may be furious with us - she is 93 - but I don't think she is ready to die just yet. Still, it could be a long healing process ahead. Hard to know what the right decision is.

Mar 22, 4:03 pm

#14 Dragons at Crumbling Castle: And Other Tales
4 red stars

Stories written when Sir Terry Pratchett was a teenager, with all the incipient wit and humor of works to come. I found these amusing - perhaps not great - but I think middle grade kids would love them. Good enough to want to read more of them. I especially liked the stories about the Carpet People who are smaller than a speck of dust (a grain of salt is the size of a house to them...), setting sail across the linoleum in search of the mythical land of "Rug."

Description: A wonderful collection of short stories by master storyteller Sir Terry Pratchett, featuring dragons, dinosaurs, cavemen and car races! Dragons have invaded Crumbling Castle, and all of King Arthur's knights are either on holiday or visiting their grannies. It's a disaster! Luckily, there's a spare suit of armour and a very small boy called Ralph who's willing to fill it. Together with Fortnight the Friday knight and Fossfiddle the wizard, Ralph sets out to defeat the fearsome fire-breathers. But there's a teeny weeny surprise in store...

Fourteen fantastically funny stories from master storyteller Sir Terry Pratchett, full of time travel and tortoises, monsters and mayhem!

Story List:

CD 1: Dragons at Crumbling Castle, The Great Speck, Hunt the Snorry, Tales of the Carpet People (beginning)

CD 2: Tales of the Carpet People (concluded), Hercules the Tortoise, Dok the Caveman, The Big Race

CD 3: Another Tale of the Carpet People, The Great Egg - dancing Championship, Edwo the Boring Knight

CD 4: The 59A Bus Goes Back in Time, The Abominable Snowman, The Blackbury Monster, Father Christmas Goes to Work at the Zoo

Cumulative pages: 4,245

Editado: Mar 23, 2:51 pm

Update on Mom: She had the mid-metatarsal amputation. Today she is reportedly sitting up, no pain, and talking up a storm. My sister drove out to Rapid City yesterday, so she is there. Mom will need a second surgery in a week to close everything up.

Last night, I went to the local G&S production of Utopia, Ltd. What great fun! And a needed diversion!

Today I am catching up on things like dishes, and bills, and hopefully - reading!

Tomorrow - major winter storm expected here in Minnesota, so I predict more reading!

Mar 28, 3:58 am

>135 WelshBookworm: I'm glad to hear your mum seems to be recoevering well from her first surgery and I'm hoping the second goes just as well.

I also hope your winter storm was bad enough to keep you at home and reading, but no so bad that it caused any damage.

Mar 29, 11:42 pm

#15 The Curse of the Pharaohs
3.5 pink stars

My comments on the first book of the series still hold here. I like the witty banter, but the sexism and racism is very dated. I love Ramses and look forward to when he is old enough to join his parents in Egypt. Amelia is a force to be reckoned with, and happily Emerson is a match for her. Anyway, good enough for a quick and cozy getaway from more demanding reads.

Description: Victorian gentlewoman Amelia Peabody Emerson and her archaeologist husband are busy raising their young son; yet Amelia dreams only of the dust and detritus of ancient civilizations. Happily, circumstances are about to demand their immediate presence in Egypt. Sir Henry Baskerville had just discovered a tomb in Luxor when he promptly died under bizarre circumstances. The tabloids scream of The Curse of the Pharaohs! Amelia and her husband arrive to find the camp in disarray and the workers terrified. A ghost even appears. It is not at all what Amelia considers an atmosphere conducive to scientific discovery. Thus the indomitable Victorian sets about bringing order to chaos and herself close to danger. How Amelia triumphs over evil and those who would stand between her and her beloved antiquities makes for a delightfully spirited adventure.

Cumulative pages: 4,552

Mar 29, 11:48 pm

>136 rhian_of_oz: Thank you, Rhian. Yes, it went well. She is eating more and in pretty good spirits, despite being quite confused at times. The stress and being out of her routine has really exacerbated her dementia, which normally is fairly mild. I just hate that she has had to go through this at all. It really breaks my heart! I will be going out to Rapid City on Monday to be with her. Another sister is there through Sunday.

Mar 30, 1:04 pm

Several of my audio holds on Libby have become available, and since I'll be doing a lot of driving the next two weeks. I checked them out. I've set aside the Pratchett and started Secrets of the Sprakkar.

Abr 1, 4:25 am

>139 WelshBookworm: Safe travels, and I hope your mother feels better soon.

Abr 2, 12:59 am

#16 Secrets of the Sprakkar: Iceland's Extraordinary Women and How They Are Changing the World
3.5 pink stars

Eliza Reid draws on interviews with women in a variety of high-profile positions, to discuss how Iceland is working to achieve gender equality in its society. She provides a strong case for the need for generous maternity (and paternity) leave and subsidized child care to allow women to be able to pursue careers. Yet despite having achieved a high level of gender equality, gender stereotyping still exists, and more troubling - the seemingly high levels of rape and domestic abuse. Nevertheless, her book creates a certain amount of cultural envy. Come on, USA! Why do we remain so backward?

Description: This captivating book takes you on a remarkable journey through the stunning landscapes of Iceland while shining a spotlight on the remarkable achievements and untold secrets of its influential women. Uncover the hidden resilience, strength, and determination of these trailblazing women as they challenge societal norms, break barriers, and spearhead groundbreaking initiatives across various fields. From pioneering environmental activists to innovative entrepreneurs, groundbreaking scientists to visionary artists, this book showcases the remarkable contributions and impact these women have made on a global scale. Through meticulous research and intimate interviews, First Lady of Iceland Eliza Reid uncovers the captivating stories of these fearless women, delving into their personal triumphs, struggles, and the strategies they employed to overcome obstacles. Experience their triumphs, learn from their setbacks, and be inspired by their indomitable spirit.

Cumulative pages: 4,840

Abr 2, 11:56 pm

#17 The Weaver and the Witch Queen
4 red stars.

I thought this was going to be historical fiction with a little magic, but I have to put this firmly in the fantasy category. It may be based on tales of shapeshifting in the Norse sagas, but the author admits the whole magical system was completely made up. 4 stars may be greatly over-rated. This book took me 3 1/2 months to finish reading. To be fair, a lot of print books seem to end up that way with me, where audiobooks do not get set aside for other multiple reads. And if there were a sequel, I would probably read it, so 4 stars it is. As a fantasy story about three women who formed a childhood pact to always be there for each other, and then find that pact tested to its limits, I enjoyed it. Just don't take anything depicted here as historical.

Description: Oddny and Gunnhild meet as children in tenth century Norway, and they could not be more different: Oddny hopes for a quiet life, while Gunnhild burns for power and longs to escape her cruel mother. But after a visiting wisewoman makes an ominous prophecy that involves Oddny, her sister Signy, and Gunnhild, the three girls take a blood oath to help one another always. When Oddny’s farm is destroyed and Signy is kidnapped by Viking raiders, Oddny is set adrift from the life she imagined—but she's determined to save her sister no matter the cost, even as she finds herself irresistibly drawn to one of the raiders who participated in the attack. And in the far north, Gunnhild, who fled her home years ago to learn the ways of a witch, is surprised to find her destiny seems to be linked with that of the formidable King Eirik, heir apparent to the ruler of all Norway. But the bonds—both enchanted and emotional—that hold the two women together are strong, and when they find their way back to each other, these bonds will be tested in ways they never could have foreseen in this deeply moving novel of magic, history, and sworn sisterhood.

Cumulative pages: 5,208

Editado: Abr 19, 8:32 pm

April plans:

As I said a few days ago, I'm going to be driving a lot in the next couple of weeks and have a number of audiobooks lined up:
READ The Wolf Den - for A Good Yarn (P is for Pompeii) and historical fiction challenge for April. After that
READ The Cloisters - a group read for The Reading Loft
READ The Seed Keeper - for Perspectives book club
The Enchanted April - fits the April cover color and genre challenges.

Nothing new in print until I finished more of what I'm already reading! I've already read The Daytimers book for April. The April cover color challenge is emerald green or pewter gray. The genre challenge is historical fiction. And A Good Yarn is reading "P" locations. Would like to get to one of my "garden" theme books. Maybe
The Secret Garden - I've got that on audible.

Editado: Ontem, 7:39 pm

April Log

Secrets of the Sprakkar: Iceland's Extraordinary Women and How They Are Changing the World - finished April 1
The Weaver and the Witch Queen - finished April 2
The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner: And Other Stories - started and finished on April 4
The Wild Robot Protects - finished April 6
The Wolf Den - finished April 9
The Seed Keeper - finished April 14
The Cloisters - finished April 19

Currently reading:
Ahab's Wife, or The Star-Gazer - restarted on Jan. 8
Moby-Dick or, The Whale - restarted on Jan. 8
The Princes in the Tower: Solving History's Greatest Cold Case - started Feb. 7
The Ice Swan - for the Jan. cover color challenge - started on Feb. 23
The Woman They Could Not Silence: One Woman, Her Incredible Fight for Freedom, and the Men Who Tried to Make Her Disappear - started on Mar. 6
The Unquiet Bones - started on Apr. 19
To Shield the Queen - audiobook, started on Apr. 19

Next up:
The Enchanted April - audiobook
Anne of Green Gables - A Good Yarn (P is for Prince Edward Island)
Her Highness' First Murder - reread
Poison, Your Grace - April cover color challenge

Possibly Pending:
A Vision of Light random pick from my lists by a coworker
The Beacon at Alexandria
The Secret Garden

New Acquisitions:
The Enchanted April - Chirp audiobooks
Her Highness' First Murder - Kindle purchase
Poison, Your Grace - Kindle purchase
Paris - Audible credit
The Princes of Ireland - Audible credit
The Rebels of Ireland - Audible credit
Miss Bennet's Dragon - Kindle purchase

Still might read:
The Running Grave - purchased on Audible.
Within The Fetterlock - purchased print copy on Amazon
Tomb for an Eagle - owned on Kindle, A Good Yarn - O is for Orkney
The Wild Inside- I've started it a couple of times, and if I don't read it soon, I never will.
The Unpleasantness at the Battle of Thornford - March cover color challenge

Abr 5, 8:21 pm

#18 The Witch's Vacuum Cleaner: And Other Stories
4 red stars.

I think I liked these a tad more than the first collection, but that's because 4 of the stories were set in the "Wild West of Britain" i.e. Wales in a village called Llandaffwnfafegettupagogo. Another set of stories were set in Blackbury, and usually involved time travel. In one story, a magician with a toothache starts turning things back to his own time, and everyone starts talking Elizabethan. In another, a faulty TV sends a man back to the time of the dinosaurs, where an intrepid time traveler has set up a pub. Like the first collection, cute stories but not great.

Description: This second batch of storytelling gems features stories written when Sir Terry was just 17 years old and working as a junior reporter. In these pages, new Pratchett fans will find wonder, mayhem, sorcery, and delight—and loyal readers will recognize the seeds of ideas that went on to influence his most beloved tales later in life.

Cumulative pages: 5,544

Abr 7, 10:09 am

>145 WelshBookworm: That's such a great book title!

Abr 7, 5:04 pm

#19 The Wild Robot Protects
4 red stars.

I had forgotten the emphasis on including science facts but the messages here seemed a little heavy-handed. Interesting to learn about the "new and improved" Roz, and all about life in the ocean, but I missed the interaction of Roz and her friends on the island.

Description: Life for Roz and the animals on their island is perfect. But when mysterious, dangerous waters surround the island, the animals are forced inland to fight over dwindling resources. Roz calms and organizes the animals, but the poison tide takes a terrible toll on the island. So the wild robot sets out across the ocean, determined to stop the poison tide. During her journey, Roz encounters amazing geological formations and incredible creatures, and she sees the devastation caused by the toxic waters. Can the wild robot save the ocean and her island and everything she loves? This thrilling third installment of the Wild Robot series takes readers on a new adventure through the ocean and to the frigid northern waters where Roz may have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Cumulative pages: 5,832

Abr 7, 5:11 pm

>147 WelshBookworm: I'm sorry this one didn't live up to the others. I'm sure my niece will want to read it after we finish Wild Robot Escapes.

Abr 10, 7:46 pm

#20 The Wolf Den
4 red stars.

A sometimes emotionally difficult read, since this depicts the lives of women enslaved to work as prostitutes in Pompeii. Not overly familiar myself with ancient Roman customs, what little research I did supported the general historical accuracy of the lives of these women, including the wearing of togas. Normally only worn by men, it is generally accepted that prostitutes did wear a form of toga, which would have marked them as inferior. Free women did not wear togas, and the usual stola and tunic was forbidden to prostitutes. As slaves, they had no legal protection, and were often abused. Any resulting children were the property of the owner, to dispose of (or not) as they pleased. Not heavy on plot. This is about the women and their complicated feelings and relationships with each other, with their owner, with the community, and with their customers.

Description: Amara was once the beloved daughter of a doctor in Greece, until her father’s sudden death plunged her mother into destitution. Now Amara is a slave and prostitute in Pompeii’s notorious Wolf Den brothel or lupanar, owned by a cruel and ruthless man. Intelligent and resourceful, she is forced to hide her true self. But her spirit is far from broken. Buoyed by the sisterhood she forges with the brothel’s other women, Amara finds solace in the laughter and hopes they all share. For the streets of the city are alive with opportunity—here, even the lowest-born slave can dream of a new beginning. But everything in Pompeii has a price. How much will Amara’s freedom cost her?

Cumulative pages: 6,296

Abr 11, 1:46 am

Mid-April update (close enough):

I've done 43 hours worth of driving in the last week and a half. First to Rapid City to see my mom in the hospital. Then I went to stay with my sister in Illinois, and from there driving down to Indianapolis where my cousin and aunt live to see the eclipse and driving back the same day. In hindsight, not the greatest planning. Despite WAZE and Google Maps telling me it was a 3 1/2 hour drive, I knew there would be considerable traffic AND I would lose an hour. So I left Illinois at 7:00 am. I figured even if it took 5 or 6 hours I would still get to my cousin's house by the start of the partial eclipse and have time to set up my cameras. Wrong. Once I reached I-65 just south of Gary, Indiana it was bumper to bumper traffic as far as the eye could see. Stop. Start. Stop. Start. Creep along at 20 mph with occasional higher speeds. OMG! Traffic didn't lighten up at all until after Lafayette and then I was flooring the gas to 80, to try and get there in time. I almost made it. But at 3:00 I was still 7 minutes away, and the total eclipse was starting in 4 minutes, so I pulled off at a gas station along the road (I had just gotten off I-65 where stopping for the eclipse was NOT allowed.) I only had time to whip out my cell phone camera with the handheld little solar filter. It didn't focus well. I had planned to use my DSL Nikon with tripod and a zoom lens for the totality portion of the eclipse. Oh well! At least I saw it, and the sky was clear, it was awesome!, and I took some pictures and video with the cell phone which I posted on Facebook, but the quality was less than ideal.

Then I proceeded to my aunt's house (she's 95 but still lives in her own home!) My cousin and his wife came over, and we all went out for an early dinner. I wanted to delay starting back, to avoid the heaviest traffic. They offered to put me up overnight, but I thought surely it wouldn't be as bad if I waited a few hours to leave. Ha ha. Guess again. If anything, I-65 after Lafayette was even worse. I was creeping along at 3 mph, with long stops just sitting. At that rate, I might have gotten back by morning... I had to get off of there!! I called my brother-in-law back in Illinois to text me an alternate route getting off at the next possible exit. Which he did. And the traffic was much more normal after that. But it had taken me 3 hours to get to that point, and still had 3 hours to go at normal driving conditions. So 7 hours to get there - 6 hours to get back to my sister's house!

Now I am back home. And I may be turning around to go back to Rapid City tomorrow. Ugh! We thought mom was getting moved to long term care today, but apparently she is not. The foot is healing very well. Better than expected, and no sign of infection in her foot. Yay! But the dementia/confusion has gotten worse. It is a struggle to get her to focus on eating and doing the physical therapy needed. The doctor thinks that might be secondary to the antibiotics which she has to take for another 4-6 weeks. (Fingers crossed.) Hence the long-term temporary care arrangement. So the antibiotics were switched. I see no point in going out there again RIGHT NOW, unless she is being moved and will need help settling in to another place that isn't home, and bringing clothes and things from her apartment. I'll go tomorrow if she is going to be moved tomorrow or Friday, but at this point we don't know and are waiting to hear. I have to go back to work on Tuesday, and I really don't want to ask for more time off if she isn't being moved until later.

AND my phone decided to quit syncing with my car yet again. So I have had to resort to sort of holding the phone on my chest where I can hear it while I drive. I might have finished one more book otherwise. Still, I am 4 books ahead of schedule so that is something! I finished The Wolf Den and next up will be The Seed Keeper for Perspectives book club which meets next week.

I am "unreading" Far From the Madding Crowd. It's not a DNF since I only managed two chapters so far and am hopelessly behind with the group that was reading it. I really do want to read it and other Hardy books but now is just not the time. I am still currently reading 5 books that have gotten a bit stalled. Then there are at least 8 more books from my 2023 leftovers that I am determined to finish this year.

Abr 11, 10:54 am

Wow Laurel, that's a lot of driving! I hope things with your mother get better quickly and you can get her moved and help her start settling in.

Abr 11, 11:41 am

>150 WelshBookworm: That is an adventure! You probably drove right past my town. I was lucky enough to be living in the path of the last US total eclipse and so watched it from lawn chairs in our own driveway with friends who drove down from NJ. Glad you at least got to see it, if in a less than ideal setting. I hope things with your mother go well.

Abr 11, 2:34 pm

>150 WelshBookworm: Oh no! Sorry the eclipse watching got so complicated. The night before the eclipse, my sister decided she wanted to drive the three or four hours north to be in totality (we were 97.2% here). I thought that an incredibly bad idea. After the recent storm, there are still trees down everywhere, and she had no idea where she was going to watch it or eat or get gas. And a minimum of eight hours in the car with my two nieces? No, not, nay, never. So we had an eclipse party in the yard and had a great time. :-)

Hope all goes well with your mom's recovery and move.

Abr 11, 6:29 pm

Tired of the constant phone disconnection problem. Verizon store clerk couldn't get it to work either - though it paired with HER car just fine. Well, I'm not paying for a software diagnostic on the car, so I bought a Bluetooth speaker. It was lovely listening to my audiobook on the way home, and I can use the speaker in the house too. Win-win. I just can't make phone calls while I'm driving, and since I never do anyway, it's not a problem!

Abr 11, 9:13 pm

>154 WelshBookworm: I'm glad you got it solved. You've been dealing with this problem for ages.

Abr 11, 11:37 pm

>155 labfs39: Well, it's a work-around. I wouldn't say it is solved. A little more Googling tonight, and I've learned you can download SYNC updates from the Ford website and install it yourself via a USB port in the car. I just might give it a try.... But for now I'll be using the speaker in the car.

Abr 15, 1:25 pm

#21 The Seed Keeper
4.5 blue stars, rounded up.
Book clubs: Read for both Daytimers and Perspectives book clubs.

This story is told through the eyes of four Dakhóta women, Rosalie Iron Wing, her school friend Gaby Makespeace, her great grandmother Marie Blackbird, and her aunt Darlene Kills Deer. Although it jumps around in time a bit, the main narrator is Rosalie. I liked the framing of the story of the cache of seeds, and the importance of these seeds to the survival of the native people. The history is complicated. Several generations were torn apart by the removal of children to boarding schools. Rosalie, herself, marries a white man, and they have a mixed-race son. While the focus on the women was powerful, I would have liked to have gotten more insight into the minds of her husband John, and her son Tommy. Especially Tommy, who spends his early life trying to earn the love and respect of his father. He grows up not really understanding his native roots or what motivated Rosalie to leave after the death of John, in search of her roots and her family.

Description: Rosalie Iron Wing has grown up in the woods with her father, Ray, a former science teacher who tells her stories of plants, of the stars, of the origins of the Dakhóta people. Until, one morning, Ray doesn’t return from checking his traps. Told she has no family, Rosalie is sent to live with a foster family in nearby Mankato—where the reserved, bookish teenager meets rebellious Gaby Makespeace, in a friendship that transcends the damaged legacies they’ve inherited. On a winter’s day many years later, Rosalie returns to her childhood home. A widow and mother, she has spent the previous two decades on her white husband’s farm, finding solace in her garden even as the farm is threatened first by drought and then by a predatory chemical company. Now, grieving, Rosalie begins to confront the past, on a search for family, identity, and a community where she can finally belong. In the process, she learns what it means to be descended from women with souls of iron—women who have protected their families, their traditions, and a precious cache of seeds through generations of hardship and loss, through war and the insidious trauma of boarding schools.

Cumulative pages: 6,668

Abr 16, 7:29 am

>157 WelshBookworm: That sounds interesting, Laurel. I'll keep an eye out for it.

Abr 19, 8:26 pm

#22 The Cloisters
3 green stars.

I wanted to like this a lot more, given that I am keenly interested in all things medieval, and I have a ridiculous number of Tarot decks. I do not believe that tarot or any other form of divination can predict the future. I suppose the idea of fate was meant to create an atmosphere of foreboding, but on the whole I found the gothic aspects of this novel to be very tame. I got only a vague impression of the Cloisters and the gardens although there were some very atmospheric scenes. The plot was very slow to unfold. And I wasn't really moved by the reveal at the end. Bottom line: these are all very flawed characters, and the main interest is in their complex relationships. Although this left me underwhelmed, I would read more from this author, so 3 green stars.

Description: When Ann Stilwell arrives in New York City, she expects to spend her summer working as a curatorial associate at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Instead, she finds herself assigned to The Cloisters, a gothic museum and garden renowned for its medieval art collection and its group of enigmatic researchers studying the history of divination. Desperate to escape her painful past, Ann is happy to indulge the researchers’ more outlandish theories about the history of fortune telling. But what begins as academic curiosity quickly turns into obsession when she discovers a hidden 15th-century deck of tarot cards that might hold the key to predicting the future. When the dangerous game of power, seduction, and ambition at The Cloisters turns deadly, Ann becomes locked in a race for answers as the line between the arcane and the modern blurs.

Cumulative pages: 6,980

Ontem, 3:19 am

>159 WelshBookworm: Jeepers! My wife and I and our two visitors from California visited the Cloisters last weekend! We got out OK, though. No murders that I know of. Sorry you didn't like the book better. The museum in real life is very cool, though. I hadn't been there since I was a kid. My mother used to love it. In the old days they used to pipe in Gregorian chant. They don't do that anymore, or at least there weren't doing it last Saturday.

Ontem, 3:35 pm

>160 rocketjk: That sounds very cool! Next time I get to NYC I'll have to try and go there.

Ontem, 5:34 pm

>159 WelshBookworm: I've heard a few disappointed reviews of this, but I'll probably at least give it a shot, since the Cloisters that Jerry mentioned are (is?) the museum closest to me, and I go there a lot. It's one of those reliably cool places that you bring out of town friends but never get sick of going yourself.

Ontem, 5:38 pm

>162 lisapeet: "It's one of those reliably cool places that you bring out of town friends but never get sick of going yourself."

Right! Also, it's surrounded by beautiful garden trails to walk, and even during the seasons when the gardens aren't in bloom, there are lovely trails along heights that let you look down at, and across, the Hudson River. Quite the view.