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2006 Reading Year in Review

>> Sunday, December 31, 2006

I had a few reading goals for 2006 and I’m pleased to say that I met them and more.

I wanted to read through two A to Z lists (by author and by title). I completed this by mid September and I’m very glad I did this.

I wanted to do more than just record the titles, dates read, and number of pages for my books. I started keeping a document of notes on all my books that in July became the beginnings of this blog. I hadn’t set out to start a book blog this year, but I’m very glad I did and have had a blast.

I managed to squeeze in just one more book today that I can count for 2006.

Totals for 2006
25 audiobooks
77 "3-D" books (28,880 pages)

Grand Total for 2006:
102 books :-)

My Top 5 books for the 2006 reading year are:

1. Hell at the Breech by Tom Franklin. It’s a brutal story, but so beautifully told.
2. One Foot in Eden by Ron Rash. Southern Literature at it’s best
3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. If not for my fellow book bloggers I would not have picked up this amazing book. For some reason it’s hiding in the young adult section and should be up front in every bookstore with a big “YOU NEED TO READ THIS!!” sign on it.
4. Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky. A lost and only recently discovered novel set in occupied France during WWII. The story OF the book told in the appendices is as compelling as the story IN the book itself.
5. A multiple way tie between my favorite mystery/thriller series authors – Lee Child, Karin Slaughter, Julia Spencer-Fleming, Harlan Coben, and Jack Kerley.
6. (Because there’s no way I could limit myself to a top 5) Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson. This is a true adventure story and it’s fabulous.

I also participated in my first book blogger’s reading challenge with the From the Stacks Winter Reading Challenge. I’ve finished 7 books for this challenge and I want to thank Michelle for hosting this challenge and inspiring me to read some of those books that have been on the shelves for way too long.

I’ll be charging full speed into Reading Challenges tomorrow to kick off 2007. Les Miserables is such a huge book that I’m counting it for all 3 of my next challenges. Classics, Chunkster and TBR. My first challenge of 2007 will be to see if I can finish Les Miserables before the end of January.


Fire Ice by Clive Cussler

This is another modern swashbuckler of an adventure from Cussler and co-author Paul Kemprecos. It sticks with his formulaic plot format, but it’s still enjoyable. This one was from the Kurt Austin series which I actually enjoy more than the Dirk Pitt series. Fire Ice is about a misguided Russian madman who believes himself to be descended from the last Tsar of Russia. His plot to create tsunamis which will devastate the East coast of the United States and accelerate global warming are only part of the fun. Kurt Austin, Joe Zavala and the assorted marine techno geeks of NUMA manage to foil the plot, save the world and, of course, get the girl. It’s all in fun.

This was my seventh book and second one off my list of possible bonus books for the
The From the Stacks Challenge sponsored by Overdue Books. I managed to just get it done before the end of 2006. I'll be posting a Year End Summary later tonight or tomorrow.


Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay

>> Friday, December 29, 2006

This is the sequel to Darkly Dreaming Dexter (which you really need to read first in order to understand Dexter’s background). Both my husband and I read and enjoyed the first Dexter book and I’m sure he’ll be reading this one soon. We don’t have Showtime, so we haven’t seen the TV Series based on the first book. Once it’s out on DVD, we’ll be renting it.

Dexter is a blood spatter expert for the Miami police department, he also happens to be a serial killer, but he only kills bad guys so as the blurb from the New Yorker in the front of the book says, he’s “one of the most likeable vigilante serial killers in recent thriller literature.” Dexter is definitely a unique hero. His dark humor just tickles my funny bone and his acknowledgement that he is something less than fully human is actually heartwarming. His efforts to pretend to fit in with his family (now just his police officer adopted sister), girlfriend (really just for show), and his co-workers at the police department are something he learned he had to do from his amazing adopted father who was a cop.

In this adventure, Dexter’s nemesis, Sergeant Doakes, continues to be suspicious of him. Dexter has to ramp up his appearances of normalcy at the same time he is helping his sister investigate a gruesome case. It all gets twisted up together and is a fun read that has me looking forward to the next book in the series.

This was my sixth book and first one off my list of possible bonus books for the The From the Stacks Challenge sponsored by Overdue Books.


Til Morning Light by Ann Moore

>> Saturday, December 23, 2006

This is the third book in a Trilogy that started with Gracelin O’Malley and continued in Leaving Ireland. This series leans more toward historic fiction than historic romance and that’s probably why I’ve enjoyed this series. The heroine and her children have continued their travels and are now in San Francisco in 1852. There is much continuation of story lines that began in the first two books as well as some new intrigue and a few surprises along the way. Grace is a sympathetic heroine who continues to use her intelligence, humor and compassion to make a life for herself and her family and others no matter where she lands.

This has been an enjoyable series with a large and varied cast of characters who keep the story from getting bogged down into a simple “plucky woman makes good” story. It’s far more than that and I’ll be on the lookout for more books by Ann Moore.

This was my fifth book for the
The From the Stacks Challenge sponsored by Overdue Books. Since I have some time before the next challenges start in January, I'll be able to move on to one from my 'extras if I have time' list.


Audiobook – Miss Julia Meets Her Match by Ann B. Ross

>> Wednesday, December 20, 2006

This is the 5th book in the gently humorous comedy of manners that is the Miss Julia series. Claudia Hughes reads this series and does a great job with the voices.

From Booklist:

What do you do if you're a genteel, well-to-do widow on the far side of 70 who discovers her late husband had a mistress and a young son? If you're Miss Julia, you swallow your pride and take Hazel Marie and Little Lloyd into your home. That was four books ago. Now, in her latest outing, Miss Julia hears a rumor that another one of her husband's paramours is in town. She'd like to keep this quiet, and fortunately the people of Abbotsville have plenty else to gossip about. There's the transformation of Tony Allen into Tonya, and church secretary Norma's relationship with Mayor Beebe, and the construction of the dubious Walk Where Jesus Walked theme park outside of town. To Miss Julia's chagrin, there's also talk about her friendship with Sam, who
keeps pressing her to marry him. A fun read for Miss Julia fans.

I'll keep the rest of this series on my Books to put on the ipod list.


Wicked by Gregory Maguire

>> Thursday, December 14, 2006

This is my fourth book for the From the Stacks Winter reading challenge. This one has definitely been on my shelf for a while. I know a lot of people who have loved it and a few who didn’t. Maybe that’s why it’s been sitting there not demanding me to pick it up and read it sooner. I really wanted to love this book, but I ended up deciding it was interesting enough, but not something I would be compelled to recommend.

The idea of the back story to The Wicked Witch of the West and other characters from The Wizard of Oz was intriguing to me, but the book just never really grabbed me and made me reluctant to put it down. The story is about Elphaba (Later the Wicked Witch of the West), born green in Munchkinland. The first part of the book tells a bit of her childhood and more about the status of politics and religion in Oz. We next catch up with Elphaba at college where she meets and rooms with Galinda (who becomes Glinda the Good Witch). Elphaba’s sister joins them at school later. Elphaba is independent, intelligent and involved in Animal Rights and social activism. Unfortunately throughout the book I never really got involved along with her. The final section of the book, which takes place after Dorothy lands in Oz was probably the most interesting part, but I just didn’t enjoy all of the journey to get there.


Big Sister's Doll Afghan

>> Sunday, December 10, 2006

Yarn - Red Heart TLC Baby
Color - Powder Lilac

This is a doll sized blanket that is going to the Big Sister of the baby boy who got the previous blanket. After all, it's no fun when the new guy in town is getting all the new stuff.


Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson

>> Friday, December 8, 2006

I originally bought this book for my husband, knowing that I wanted to read it anyway, but I’d let him have first shot. My brother served in the Submarine Service for 20+ years, so I’ve always been fascinated with stories about submarines. Now that my brother has retired, I can handle reading stories about sunken submarines. This is the story of a sunken German U-boat that was discovered off of New Jersey in 1991. The drama of the deep wreck divers who found and explored the submarine is only part of the story. The other part is about their efforts to identify the submarine, which took 6 years worth of research and diving and cost the lives of 3 men. There was no record of a U-boat sinking within 150 miles of the location, and no readily accessible identifying marks on the wreck. This was a real page turner with plenty of drama and adventure. Deep wreck diving is a deadly hobby and this book pulls no punches on that topic. Some of the descriptions of what divers experience while deep underwater were truly frightening. The story of the two men who became friends while seeking to find out about the sub and its sailors is fascinating. This was an exciting and interesting read.

This was my third book for the From The Stacks Winter reading challenge.


Audiobook – Mrs. Pollifax Unveiled

>> Monday, December 4, 2006

I’m kind of glad that this is the last of the Mrs. Pollifax books. It was a bit of a letdown. The others have all been entertaining and cute and fun to listen to for commuter books, but this one just didn’t have it. I really think the only reason I went ahead and finished it was that Barbara Rosenblat did the reading and I could listen to her read the dictionary and be entertained.


Snow Mountain Passage by James D. Houston

>> Saturday, December 2, 2006

This is a fictionalized account of the Donner Party story. It’s told from two viewpoints. The first is in the present tense and tells the story of James Frazier Reed. He was one of the initial leaders of the party who ended up riding ahead without his family and reaching the other side of the Sierra Nevada ahead of the snows that trapped the rest of the group. Intermixed with his story are excerpts from the memoirs that his daughter Patty wrote in the 1920’s (remember this is fictionalized). These “Trail Notes of Patty Reed” are the recollections of an 80 year old woman of happened to her at age 8 as she remained with the rest of the emigrants. The tense difference is an interesting technique. The present tense of Jim Reed’s story has the sense of unknown and uncertainty as he is on the other side of the mountains wondering where his family is and if they are even safe as he tries to mount a rescue attempt. The ‘Trail Notes’ from an elderly Patty has the hindsight and knowledge that she didn’t have at eight as she was experiencing these events. I really wanted to love this book, but parts of it (particularly the Jim Reed portions) I frankly skimmed. The technique of using present tense to give a little bit of urgency to his story was hampered by the language and leisurely descriptions. Although the language and descriptions provided great images, they seemed to drag down his view of the story and make it seem almost like he was taking his time. The middle section in particular as he gets caught up in the battle between Mexico and the Americans for control of the California Territory seems to be an interruption in the ‘real’ story that I was expecting out of this book. Yes, this is important because it explains why there was the delay in mounting any sort of rescue attempt, and it explains how Jim Reed made the acquaintance of influential people, but it seemed too drawn out and colorless. Patty’s story as told by an 80 year old woman looking back was far more engaging. The first and third sections of the book were interesting, but the extensive interlude in the middle section made this just an OK book.

This was my second book for the From the Stacks Winter Reading Challenge. On to #3.


2007 TBR Challenge Book List

>> Friday, December 1, 2006

For this challenge you should....
** Pick 12 books - one for each month of 2007 - that you've been wanting to read (have been on your "To Be Read" list) for 6 months or longer, but haven't gotten around to.

** Then, starting January 1, 2007, read one of these books from your list each month, ending December 31, 2007. :o)

We’ve been asked to post our list of books for this challenge by December 31, 2006. I spent some time browsing the list and although I’m overlapping a couple of books at the beginning with the Classics and Chunkster challenges, the rest of the list is (at this point anyway) independent of other challenges.
1. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
2. The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
3. Aunt Dimity and the Duke by Nancy Atherton
4. Total Control by David Baldacci
5. Isle of Palms by Dorothea Benton Frank
6. Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles
7. Traveling Mercies by Annie Lamott
8. The Second Coming of Lucy Hatch by Marsha Moyer
9. A Piece of Heaven by Barbara Samuel
10. Red by Erica Spindler
11. Human Croquet by Kate Atkinson
12. Buffalo Soldier by Chris Bohjalain


Tripwire by Lee Child

>> Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Finally!! Between Holiday stuff and Baby Afghan finishing it seems like I’ve been reading at a snails pace the past week or so, but I’ve finally managed to get started and finish my first book for The From the Stacks Challenge sponsored by Overdue Books.
Tripwire by Lee Child

This is third book in Child’s Jack Reacher series. The hero is an ex- military policeman trying to live his life contentedly as a drifter. As it opens, Reacher is living in Key West, hand digging swimming pools by day and working as a bouncer at a strip club by night. A New York private detective shows up looking for him, but Reacher lies and claims to be someone else. By the next day, two unknown thugs are also looking for Reacher and the private detective is dead. This prompts Jack to head to New York to find out who is looking for him and why. A beautiful woman from his past and a villain who is as evil as they come are both part of the answer. Jack is a great character, a charming drifter who uses his military background to protect the good guys and see that the bad guys get what’s coming to them. He’s larger than life, but flawed as any good hero should be. It’s a tension filled thriller and I look forward to continuing with this series.


Baby Afghan for Julie's Baby Boy

>> Monday, November 27, 2006

Yarn - Bernat Baby Boucle
Color - Water Slide


Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

>> Friday, November 17, 2006

I’ve been hearing good things about this series for quite a while now and finally got around to picking up the first one. As the book begins, Maisie a single 32 year old woman is opening her own business as a private investigator in 1929 London. Her first case is a husband who suspects his wife is being unfaithful. As she begins to investigate, she is drawn into finding out more about a deceased WW1 veteran. Along the way, the reader also learns about Maisie’s own past, education and training. This book is a bit of historic fiction, a bit of romance, and less of a mystery than I’d expected. It’s really more of a slowly and gently told period piece about a woman who is remarkable for her time and place. Ultimately though, Maisie is a thoroughly enjoyable heroine and the setting in post World War I England is one I haven’t encountered much before. I’m looking forward to continuing the series.


Audiobook – Blue Shoes and Happiness

>> Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Now this is a series that I’m happy to continue with. It's also one of the few I'm reading that I'm actually caught up with until the next one comes out (on CD for this series). I really don’t think I’d actually sit and read these as books, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed listening to the series as commute time and driving around town audiobooks. I could listen to Lisette Lecat for hours on end and just love the way she reads these.


3 from a series you can skip

The Alpine Journey,
The Alpine Kindred,
And The Alpine Legacy
by Mary Daheim

This series of cozy mysteries will never be mistaken for good literature, and not even for very good mysteries. The last time I read one was over a year ago. At this point, I think the only reason I’m still reading this series is that I’ve read so many of them already I kind of feel obligated to finish them. I really need to get over that feeling. Honestly, I can’t even recommend them. The only reason I read all 3 is that I had them out from the library already. One thing they had going for them at this point is that they work for brain vacation material when I’ve got a book (this time it’s The Book Thief) still hanging around in my head and I don’t want to really interfere with that. This series stars Emma Lord as the publisher of a weekly newspaper in a small town in the mountains of Washington. The series begins with The Alpine Advocate (the name of the paper) and continues with the third word in each title making an alphabetical list of the series in order. Maybe I keep reading this series because it appeals to my sense of organization?? Whatever – it’s light, it has some fun quirky characters and overall, I like the Emma Lord character. The fact that there are lots of familiar locations and regional references helps. I tend to let this series sit for months or even a year or more at a time and then get the next 2 or 3 from the library and read them together, then wait a long time before deciding to go ahead and pick up the next few. I always end up saying maybe I won’t bother finishing the series and I’m saying that again this time around. I managed to give up on the Sue Grafton series, so maybe I can finally give up on this one.

The good news is that I can now move along to a book I’ve heard from multiple sources is a good one. Maisie Dobbs is also the last of the library books I’ve got checked out, so when I’m done with that, I can dive into my books for the From The Stacks Winter Challenge.


Challenge Planning

>> Monday, November 6, 2006

I spent some time over the weekend studying my bookshelves and my TBR list to see what I could plan for the upcoming challenges. I also discovered yet another 2007 challenge via A Reader’s Journal – this new one is sponsored by Mizbooks at Literary Cache and involves reading one book a month in 2007 from those that have been languishing unread on your TBR list. Well that’s not hard for me, because my TBR is ginormous!!

I was pleasantly surprised to find that I’ve got several books that will dovetail nicely into all of the challenges I’m participating in. I don’t think I’ve got one yet that qualifies for all 4 challenges, but there’s a couple that I’m counting for 3 of them.

So anyway . . . Here’s the plan (with enough alternates available for substitutions to satisfy my need to fit the reading to the mood).

From the Stacks Winter Challenge sponsored by Overdue Books: November through January – 5 from my bookshelves:

  • Tripwire by Lee Child
  • Snow Mountain Passage by James D. Houston
  • Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson
  • Wicked by Gregory Maguire
  • Til Morning Light by Ann Moore

Alternates and possible additions or substitutions:

  • The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
  • Total Control by David Baldacci
  • Dearly Devoted Dexter by Jeff Lindsay
  • Fire-Ice by Clive Cussler
  • Cry Wolf by Tami Hoag

Classics Challenge sponsored by A Reader’s Journal: 5 Classics in January and February

  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  • The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Alternates and possible additions or substitutions:

  • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  • Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift
  • The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
  • Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier

Chunkster Challenge sponsored by Bookfool: One Chunkster a month starting in January

  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  • The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
  • Wanderers Eastward, Wanderers West by Kathleen Winsor
  • Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris
  • Voyager by Diana Gabaldon

Alternates and possible additions or substitutions:

  • Dawn on a Distant Shore by Sara Donati
  • Peachtree Road by Anne Rivers Siddons
  • Light a Penny Candle by Maeve Binchy

TBR 2007 Challenge sponsored by Literary Cache: One a month that’s been on the TBR list a long time. (This is where some serious overlap occurs – most of what I have on the list for the Classic and Chunkster Challenges have been on the TBR list for ages so I have double incentive to actually pick them up and read them!)

  • Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
  • The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
  • Wanderers Eastward, Wanderers West by Kathleen Winsor
  • Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris
  • Voyager by Diana Gabaldon
. . . and so on from the alternates lists above.


A Faint Cold Fear by Karin Slaughter

>> Sunday, November 5, 2006

This is the third book in Slaughter’s Grant County series. Like the first two, it’s a well written suspense/thriller, but not without it’s grisly moments. Sara Linton is the part time pediatrician, part time medical examiner in her hometown. The police chief happens to be her ex-husband and current maybe boyfriend. This book opens with the apparent suicide of a college student. While Sara is investigating the scene of the crime, her pregnant sister is brutally stabbed nearby. The two crimes may or may not be related, and Sara and Jeffrey’s investigation leads to a web of intrigue, secrets, and damaged people facing their nightmares.


Challenged by Challenges

>> Friday, November 3, 2006

I really didn't know what to expect when I started my book blog. I guess I figured that I would tell a few friends about it and they would stop in once in a while to see what I'd been reading and what I thought about it. I thought it would be just a place to post a list of recommendations for folks I knew.

What actually happened has been a completely wonderful surprise. I have found myself getting to know a growing group of readers from all over the world. These people have become an ever expanding list of enablers for my reading addiction. See the list of book blog links on the right. I have a whole new source of recommendations, opinions and ideas for my never to be completed To Be Read list.

I have also become interested in several of the upcoming challenges that I've learned tend to pop up in the bookblogging world. I had my own A to Z list times 2 challenge for myself in 2006. I'd been wondering what would be my personal reading challenge for next year. I don't think I need to wonder because I already have 3 challenges I'm going to be participating in and the prospect of more to come.

Here are the upcoming challenges I'm planning on joining:

November through January

The From the Stacks Winter Reading Challenge sponsored by Overdue Books

5 books that we have already purchased, have been meaning to get to, have been sitting on the nightstand and haven't read before.

I so need this challenge - of course I have to finish the 4 books I just checked out from the library before I can start .

January and February

Classics Challenge
Sponsored by A Reader's Journal

5 Classics - I just need to decide which 5. This year I managed to check off several that had been on my list of 'classics I never read', so this will give me a perfect opportunity to read a few more.

January through ???

Bookfool's Chunkster Challenge
I love big books and have a lot of them on my list. Getting some of them moved off the "Not Read Yet" list will be fun. I can also combine at least a couple of them with the Classics Challenge by picking out some Chunky Classics for January and February

What fun :-)


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

>> Tuesday, October 31, 2006

This book was just amazing. Fortunately I was able to read the second half all in one day and completely immerse myself in it.

From the front cover flap:
"It's just a small story really, about among other things: a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist-fighter, and quite a lot of thievery...."

Narrated by Death, Markus Zusak's groundbreaking new novel is the story of Liesel Meminger, a foster girl living outside of Munich in Nazi Germany. Liesel scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she discovers something she can't resist-books. Soon she is stealing books from Nazi book-burnings, the mayor's wife's library, wherever they are to be found.
With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, Liesel learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.
. . . an unforgettable novel about the ability of books to feed the soul.

Death is a surprisingly eloquent, compassionate and gentle narrator to a story that is quite emotional and far beyond what I expected from what is being marketed as a Young Adult book. It seems that every couple of pages was another stunner of a beautiful image, sentence or paragraph.

I’m not going to say anything more about the plot, but I am going to highly recommend this book. Definitely one of my top 5 for this year.


Thyme of Death by Susan Wittig Albert

>> Friday, October 27, 2006

This is the first in a new (to me) mystery series. I read about the series on Framed and Booked's blog and decided it sounded interesting. The main character, China Bayles, is a former hot shot Houston Lawyer who gave up the rat race and moved to a small town in the Texas hill country and opened an herb shop. In this first book in the series, a friend of China’s is found dead. It looks like a suicide, but is it really?? China’s friend Ruby, the town police chief, and China’s ex-cop now criminology professor boyfriend are all along for the ride in solving the case. This was a fun book with some interesting characters. Several of these, who will obviously be recurring characters, have hints of a past that may be brought up in later books. I’m definitely going to continue with the series to find out. Thanks Framed


Audiobook - Mrs. Pollifax Innocent Tourist

>> Thursday, October 26, 2006

This has been an enjoyable series to work my way through as my commute and driving around town listening. Light, entertaining, and most of all read by Barbara Rosenblat. She's one of my favorite readers for Audiobooks. I have one more to go in this series.


Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

>> Tuesday, October 24, 2006

This one was recommended to me by my Surly friend. This thriller begins with Camille Preaker (a writer for a Chicago Newspaper) getting sent to her hometown to cover a possible serial murder story. She hasn’t been home in years and there are clearly some issues with her family and her past. We learn the facts and clues to both the murder mystery and Camille’s past as the book continues. Definitely a page turner that I would love to have been able to curl up and read in one day. Not for the faint of heart, because there are some seriously messed up folks in this book, but this first novel impressed me and I’ll be watching for more from this author.


Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

>> Friday, October 20, 2006

This was an amazing book. It’s not only a fascinating pair of stories in itself, but the story of how this book came to be written and published 60 years after the author’s death is just as compelling and difficult to view separately.

Irene Nemirovsky was a successful writer in 1930’s Paris. She’d been born in Russia and her family fled, eventually to France, at the time of the Russian Revolution. When Germany occupied Paris, she and her husband fled to the countryside with their 2 daughters. Although she had converted to Catholicism, she was arrested and sent to Auschwitz where she died. Her husband also later died there. After evacuating from Paris to a small town in the French Countryside, she had begun writing what would become Suite Francais. The Appendices in the book include her notes for what she envisioned as a 5 part epic novel. Before she was arrested she had only completed the first two parts. Her daughters’ kept the manuscript, which they mistakenly believed to be their mother’s journal, locked away and unread for many years because they thought it would be too painful. After the youngest one died in 1996, the surviving daughter did finally read the manuscript. She discovered a completed first part and the initial manuscript of the second part of their mother’s planned novel. These are what has become Suite Francaise.

The first part “Storm in June” begins with the evacuation of Paris as German troops are preparing move in. We follow many different people ranging from aristocrats and artists to working class folks as they flee to the countryside. The descriptions of the clogged roads and overwhelmed country villages as the evacuees seek food and shelter are vivid. The struggles of the characters to face their situation and survive or panic are highly emotional. The seemingly unconnected vignettes do eventually intertwine as some of the characters meet and interact. Many of them do eventually return to Paris as the occupation continues. This section seems choppy at times, but I think that is what conveys some of the confusion and disorientation the characters are experiencing.

The second part, “Dolce”, is set in a small village during the ongoing German occupation. The soldiers that are billeted with the local families become part of the story. Some of the characters we met in Storm in June are also in this part of the book. In both sections of the novel, there is interesting commentary on the social classes and their actions and reactions to the turmoil of their world. The writing is absolutely beautiful which is impressive, considering it was translated from the original French.

The story OF this book is as much a part of it as the actual novel. Although it was not published until 2004, it was not written from the viewpoint of looking back in time to these events. It was amazing to read this and remember that the outcome of the war was unknown and the author didn’t survive to find out.

An appendix with Nemirovsky’s own notes that she made as she envisioned the full novel and wrote follows the text of the book. This insight into the author’s process is fascinating. There is also a section of letters that tell more of what happened to her and her family. Finally, an excerpt from the preface to the 2004 French edition of the book

THANK YOU to Andie for recommending this book.


Under the Bridge by Rebecca Godfrey

>> Sunday, October 15, 2006

I picked this one up last weekend at Munro’s Books when we were in Victoria, BC. It won the 2006 British Columbia Award for Canadian Non-Fiction. This one was an interesting, although disturbing read. In 1997, 14 year old Reena Virk was beaten and murdered by a group of teens that she desperately wanted as friends. Eight of the teens were charged with assault and two were charged with murder. This book takes the reader from the discovery of the body, back to the story of how most of those involved came to be together that night and then on through the investigation and trials.

The writing style seemed a bit odd at times (particularly in the beginning). It was almost as if she was trying to capture the vernacular of the teens and letting that seep into other parts of her narrative. Later, as she writes about the investigation and the trials this distraction fades. I hadn’t heard about this case before, but found the book interesting. Unfortunately, the whys of this disturbing case will probably never be truly answered.


Audiobook – The Cat Who Went Underground

>> Saturday, October 14, 2006

We listened to most of this one on our trip to Victoria last weekend. We managed to finish up the last tape today on our way to football game. This series is one we enjoy listening to on road trips because it doesn’t take a lot of attention, and the cat quirks usually have us laughing. We have 3 cats, so we can usually relate the cat behavior in the books to one or more of our cats.

Once again, though, helping Jim Qwilleran seems to be a dangerous thing to do. I’m thinking he’s going to have to move again in an upcoming book. At the rate folks are dying in the two towns where he's been spending most of his time, this series is going to be needing a new source of victims soon.


Audiobook – In the Company of Cheerful Ladies

>> Wednesday, October 11, 2006

This gently charming series has been great for listening to in the car. I tend to listen in 10-15 minute chunks to and from the park and ride on workdays and while running errands. The reader, Lisette Lecat, is just wonderful.


Twelve Sharp by Janet Evanovich

>> Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Once again, Stephanie Plum and her entourage had me laughing out loud as I read this book. This series continues to be a great combination of sharp, sexy, slapstick fun. It was good to see the ever-growing list of sideline characters get pared down a bit for this one. We really don’t need to see every member of Stephanie’s family, friends and cohorts in every single book. I’m sure they’ll be back, and the group does continue to grow in this one with the addition of Melvin. Grandma Mazur and Lula continue to be the biggest source of laughs. Can’t wait for #13!

So – if you’re a fan of this series – Ranger or Morelli??


Vacations mean new bookstores

>> Sunday, October 8, 2006

I love exploring new bookstores when we're on vacation. We're in Victoria, BC for a long weekend and I got to visit the local famous bookstore Munro's. Just a lovely place.
I picked up a copy of an award winning book by a local author. Under the Bridge by Rebecca Godfrey won the 2006 British Columbia Award for Canadian Non-Fiction. I think it'll be next after I finish Twelve Sharp.


Watermelon by Marian Keyes

>> Saturday, October 7, 2006

I have a friend who's been telling me for months I need to read Marian Keyes. I usually avoid the "chick lit" table and "women's authors" sections in the bookstore. Karen was sure I'd like Marian Keyes, so I hunted this one up. Thank you Karen - I giggled my way through it and thoroughly enjoyed it.

From the back cover:
At twenty-nine, fun-loving, good-natured Claire has everything she ever wanted: a husband she adores, a great apartment, a good job. Then, on the day she gives birth to her first baby, James visits her in the recovery room to inform her that he's leaving her. Claire is left with a beautiful newborn daughter, a broken heart, and a body that she can hardly bear to look at in the mirror.

In the absence of any better offers, Claire decides to go home to her family in Dublin. To her gorgeous man-eating sister Helen, her soap-watching mother, her bewildered father. And there, sheltered by the love of an (albeit quirky) family, she gets better. A lot better.

In fact, so much better that when James slithers back into her life, he's in for a bit of a surprise…


2nd Chance by James Patterson

>> Monday, October 2, 2006

I’ve been busy and a bit scattered lately so I needed something that didn’t take concentrating for more than a couple of minutes at a time – The perfect time for a James Patterson book!! Continuing a bit of a brain vacation, I picked up the second in the Women’s Murder Club series from Patterson. I knew it would be a quick, fast paced read, which was just what I was looking for. I’ve had a busy couple of weeks with not much of a break expected soon, so I’m sticking with some of the quicker, easier to ‘read for just a few minutes at a time’ books on my shelf.


Valhalla Rising by Clive Cussler

>> Thursday, September 28, 2006

I needed a brain vacation after reading (and wanting to continue to savor) One Foot in Eden, so I picked this one off the shelf. I enjoy Cussler’s books for pure escapism adventure. His heroes are a combination of Indiana Jones, James Bond, with a little bit of Aquaman tossed in. This one is the typical storyline. Ancient treasure is lost, evil megalomaniac or coalition is trying to take over the world and our brave heroes beat all odds to save the day, the world, humanity as we know it and get the beautiful girl, too. Who cares if it’s trite? It’s fun.

OK, I confess, I wrote that plot summary before I even read the book, but now that I’ve finished the book I’m not surprised at all that I don’t have to change it. All in all, a fun read for folks who like this kind of stuff. If you don’t like the genre, this book isn’t going to make you change your mind.


One Foot in Eden by Ron Rash

>> Wednesday, September 20, 2006

This book begins with the disappearance of a local troublemaker in 1950’s backwoods South Carolina. The Sheriff believes that he’s been murdered, but without a body or other evidence, he can only speculate as to what actually happened. As the sheriff tells his story, we learn that he has his own demons and disappointments in his past. 5 different narrators tell the story; each telling their part of the tale in turn. The narration from different sources overlaps to give an ever-widening perspective on events. The multiple perspectives not only round out the story, but move it along in time too. It almost reads like overlapping short stories, but they are intertwined into one haunting and beautifully written tale.

Many thanks go out to my friend for recommending this one. It’s going to stick with me for a while, so I intend to follow it up with a mindless adventure that will be a bit of a brain vacation and not interfere with my ability to relish the beauty of the language in Rash’s book.


Audiobook - Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

>> Tuesday, September 19, 2006

After a messy divorce, depression and further heartbreak, Gilbert takes a year to travel to Italy, India, and Indonesia in search of “everything” and this book is a thoroughly enjoyable memoir of that year. In Italy she indulges her senses, primarily in food. In India she feeds her spiritual side at her guru’s ashram, and in Indonesia she seeks a balance between devotion and pleasure. I loved this book. The people she meets along the way are fascinating and charming. Some of her comments really spoke to me. Although I listened to this book (extremely well read by the author, by the way), I do plan on buying a 3-D copy to read again.


The Innocent by Harlan Coben

>> Monday, September 18, 2006

I’d skipped this one when Promise Me came out. I was so anxious to read the new one in the Myron Bolitar series that I delayed reading this stand-alone from Coben. As is normal for his books, this one had me hooked right away. There are several storylines that you know will connect. The pathway to that connection is a page-turner that kept me guessing. This one was very good! Now I’m stuck waiting again for him to write another book.


A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycka

>> Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I picked up this book in The Gallery Bookshop in Mendocino. It’s one of those wonderful overly crowded independent bookstores where books are not just shelved vertically, but also displayed on tables in interesting groupings. The title of this one in the midst of a table of fiction caught my eye. The quote on the front cover
“Two years after my mother died, my father fell in love with a glamorous blond Ukranian divorcee. He was eighty-four and she was thirty-six. She exploded into our lives like a fluffy pink grenade . . .”
made me read the comments on the inside and back cover. A couple of hours later I went back to the bookshop and bought it.

It’s not really about tractors, but within the novel are the excerpts from the book Pappa is writing about tractors. The story is mostly about Nadezhda and her estranged sister Vera and their efforts to get rid of this bleached blonde bombshell that has invaded their lives in search of a life in England. The battle of wits is at times hilarious and at times heart wrenching as Valentina’s treatment of Pappa becomes downright cruel.
This book seems to be undecided whether it wants to be a comedy or a tragedy. Even the narrator Nadezhda says at about the halfway point "I had thought this story was going to be a knockabout farce, but now I see it is developing into a knockabout tragedy." The excerpts from Pappa’s book on tractors seem to interrupt the pace. What is more fascinating is the differing interpretations the sisters’ have of their family history both in the Ukraine and in England after World War II. The older sister Vera has her own memories of the family’s wartime experiences, but Nadezhda, who is 10 years younger, only knows that part of the family history through the stories told by her parents. Reconciling this history and the family is the true story of this book. In the end, although I can’t give it a hearty recommendation, it was quite an interesting read.


A to Z times Two

>> Sunday, September 10, 2006

Well – I’ve reached the end (again). My goal for 2006 was to read my way through 2 lists of 26 books. The first would be A-Z by Title, and the second would be A-Z by Author. It’s taken 8 ½ months, but I made it. It’s been an interesting reading experience. There were many times that I was tempted to ditch the plan and grab a really interesting sounding book that someone had mentioned. I stuck with it, though, and had a great time. Of course I now have a long “List of books to read after I’m done with the A to Z lists”, so I really haven’t shortened my To Be Read list in the slightest, but I really didn’t expect that to happen, anyway.

It’s been fun to stick with reading the books in alphabetical order. It made me plan my reading more than I ever have before, but I kept my options open and sometimes didn’t decide which of several possibilities to read till the last minute. I’ve tried many new authors and although there have been some that have been disappointing I’ve had far more that were not. I have a few new series to read and several new authors to add to my favorites list.

All in all, I’ve enjoyed this self-imposed structure to my reading. I’m happy to be back to my normal randomness, but it’s been fun. Is it something I might do again someday? Maybe.

Here are the lists in the order that I read them. Books with a * are those that I'd highly recommend (many of the others are good, but these are my favorites).

A to Z by Title

Abduction by Robin Cook
Beach House by James Patterson
The Children’s Blizzard by David Laskin
Die Trying by Lee Child *
Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray
Four Blind Mice by James Patterson
A Good Yarn by Debbie Macomber
The Hundredth Man by Jack Kerley *
In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer Fleming *
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Kisscut by Karin Slaughter *
Leaving Ireland by Ann Moore
Mary, Queen of Scotland by Margaret George
Night Fall by Nelson DeMille
Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz
Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult
The Quilters Apprentice by Jennifer Chiaverini
Ragtime by E. L. Doctorow
Still Waters by Tami Hoag *
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee *
Upstate by Kalisha Buckhanon *
The Virgin’s Lover by Phillipa Gregory
Whiteout by Ken Follett
The X President by Philip Baruth
Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
Zorro by Isabel Allende

A to Z by Author

Albom, Mitch – Tuesdays With Morrie *
Baldacci, David – Absolute Power
Coben, Harlan – Promise Me *
Dean, Debra – The Madonnas of Leningrad
Evanovich, Janet – Eleven on Top
Frank, Dorothea Benton – Plantation
Gilstrap, John – Scott Free *
Hayder, Mo – Birdman
Iles, Greg – Spandau Phoenix
Jackson, Joshilyn – Between, Georgia *
Kerley, Jack – The Death Collectors *
Larson, Erik – The Devil in White City
Macomber, Debbie – 50 Harbor Street
Naslund, Sena Jeter – Ahab’s Wife
Owens, Sharon – The Tea House on Mulberry Street
Picoult, Jodi – Second Glance
Quindlen, Anna – How Reading Changed My Life *
Ray, Jeanne – Julie and Romeo Get Lucky
Schwarz, Christina – All is Vanity
Turner, Nancy – Sarah’s Quilt
Unger, Lisa – Beautiful Lies
Vreeland, Susan – The Passion of Artemisia *
White, Kate – If Looks Could Kill
Xinran – Sky Burial *
Yager, Fred and Jan – Untimely Death
Zadoorian, Michael – Second Hand *


Z – Second Hand by Michael Zadoorian

Although many would consider thirty-something Richard an underachiever, he is perfectly content with his life of estate sales and running his ‘junk store’. He tells this story in short quick scenes with odd titles. The writing style sometimes seems a bit jumpy, but allows his quirky and humorous observations to be highlighted.

Crackpot Theory #1: The Junk Principle
Have you noticed that the older someone gets, the bigger his car gets? It’s like number of years on earth is directly proportional to square footage of sheet metal. This is related to a theory of mine. The older you get, the more stuff you own. Why? Because stuff protects you. It acts as ballast, a sort of passive restraint system to mortality.
When Richard’s mother dies, he and his sister (who is “as conventional as the day is long”) have to empty our their parents' home. In sorting through their possessions, Richard discovers things he never knew about his father. At the same time, Richard is falling in love with Theresa – a fellow junk lover. She has her own set of issues (more like the full subscription, actually).

Later on, as Richard faces his parents' stuff he is told something that I can certainly empathize with (given the boxes of my parents’ stuff in my attic):

At first, everything is sacred, nothing can be given away or sold, much less thrown away. The winnowing process may begin only once a person sheds himself of the emotional weight of objects. To arrive at this takes time, the amount of which varies according to the personal sensibilities of the individual and the respective square footage of available storage space.
Fair warning – Theresa’s job is euthanizing animals at a shelter and that part of the book is difficult to read.

This book is funny, sad, quirky, charming, poignant, odd and unique.

And with this book I've finished my A to Z by author list. I'll be back later today with a post summarizing this reading adventure.


Y – Untimely Death by Fred and Jan Yager

>> Thursday, September 7, 2006

This one started out pretty good, but failed to live up to the promise and reviews. A criminology professor’s friend is brutally killed by a person the victim knows and we don’t. The book did keep me guessing about the killer’s identity, and finding out who really did it is what drove me to finish it. However, it’s just not one that I can recommend. The subplots were more like semi attached asides than true red herrings. It seemed clear that the screenwriter / authors were tossing in enough graphic sex violence and possible romantic tension to hope to sell this as a movie. Unfortunately it would have been a bad R rated mystery movie.


X – Sky Burial by Xinran

>> Monday, September 4, 2006

This is a fascinating little book. The author is a Chinese journalist now living in London. The story is about a young Chinese woman who in late 1950’s Communist China meets and marries her lifelong love, a fellow doctor. After only a few months of marriage he is sent to Tibet with the army and disappears. She is told he is dead, but no further details. She arranges for the army to send her to Tibet to find out what really happened to her husband. She becomes separated from her unit and spends the next 30 years living and searching in Tibet for the truth about her husband. Along the way she learns about Tibetan culture firsthand and never loses her need to find out what happened to the man she describes as “my beloved. My sun and my moon.”


Road Trip Audiobook

The Cat Who Sniffed Glue by Lilian Jackson Braun. My husband and I listened to this one this weekend while on the road to Ashland to see another play at the Shakespeare Festival.

This series will never be mistaken for great writing, but for cat lovers, there are many moments that will make you say "Oh that is SO my cat". They do make enjoyable road trip books.

One thing we've noticed about this series and particularly in the last couple of books is that there seems to be an inordinate number of deaths in this town. Talking to Jim Qwilleran seems to be nearly as life threatening as helping Jack Bauer.


W – If Looks Could Kill by Kate White

>> Friday, September 1, 2006

This is a new author for me. I’ve heard some good buzz about her books, so this was a good opportunity to give her first one a try. Bailey Weggins is a freelance journalist who writes crime and human interest stories for a New York Womans magazine. When she finds her boss’s nanny dead, things just start to get interesting. Bailey is a little bit of Kinsey Millhone, a smidge of Stephanie Plum and still her own character. Kate White is the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan and so the tales of the magazine and the staff have some authenticity with a dose of exaggeration and caricature thrown in. Despite a minor quibble with the wrap up at the end, it was a fun light mystery and I’ll likely read more of Kate White’s series.


V - The Passion of Artemisia by Susan Vreeland

>> Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I’ve had this book on my list for a long time. I really enjoyed “The Girl in Hyacinth Blue”. As did that one and “The Girl With a Pearl Earring”, this book creates an interesting background to go with real paintings. Some of it is based on fact and some invented. Although I spent time in Italy when I was in college, I’d never heard of the real Artemisia. Raped, tortured, and betrayed by her father, she went on to become the first woman to paint large scale historical and religious paintings and the first woman to be admitted into the Accademia dell' Arte del Disegno in Florence in the 17th century. The story Vreeland wrote is beautifully written and quite interesting. Don’t let the grim opening deter you. Artemisia is a survivor who is way ahead of her time. The author’s website which has pictures of the paintings described in the book is a valuable link to keep handy when reading this one.


U – Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger

>> Friday, August 25, 2006

This debut is getting some good reviews, so I gave it a try. It definitely held my interest much better than my previous book, but that was no real challenge. On page 15 I thought I had at least part of the mystery figured out. At the halfway point, I hadn’t changed my mind, but had expanded on that basic idea based on what I’d learned so far. Every character seems to have a hidden secret. Finding the truth behind all of those kept me reading even though I was sure my initial impression was correct. I also wanted to find out of there would be some late breaking plot twist that would prove my theory wrong (there wasn’t). I’d have to categorize this one as average and interesting, but not compelling.


T – Sarah’s Quilt by Nancy E. Turner

>> Tuesday, August 22, 2006

This one ended up being another “2nd book Letdown” for me. I loved her first one, “These is My Words”. This sequel fell flat for me. It doesn’t have the diary feel of “These is My Words” even though the chapters are headed by dates. The characters, even the familiar ones, seem to be only half there. Sarah has crisis after crisis, but when even the bad guys are kind of written in a way that makes them seem a bit bland, it’s hard to get involved in the story. Even with so much happening to Sarah and everyone she knows, the book still felt slow paced.

I think my struggle with reading this book was partly a timing factor. I know that how I feel about a book is tied to when and where I read it as well as my mood at the time and how distracted I am with the rest of my life. That's part of the reason I don't rate books with a numerical rating. The timing of when I read a book has such an impact on my rating that I would often rate a book quite differently if I read it some other time. With this particular book, I started it while we were on vacation. Normally that means lots of relaxed reading time, however this vacation did not lend itself to that. We were busy doing other stuff!! Perhaps there's a factor of having my time with this book chopped up into small pieces that kept me from getting involved with the characters and story. Or not.


Vacation Audiobooks

>> Friday, August 18, 2006

I didn’t get a lot of reading time while we were on vacation, so I’m only about halfway through Sarah’s Quilt right now. No reading because we were too busy having fun doing other stuff. We did get a lot of audiobook time while driving, however. We listened to 2 books while on the road.

The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare by Lilian Jackson Braun
I believe this is the 7th or 8th in this series and it’s a great series for listening to on road trips. Lots of fun characters and cat quirks.

Hard Eight by Janet Evanovich
Another great road trip series. Stephanie and her entourage were (as always) a total crackup.

One bonus from vacation was a stop at a totally awesome independent bookstore in Mendocino, CA (OK so it was two stops in the store - I had to go back). Gallery Bookshop and Bookwinkle's Children's Books -trust me - if you're ever near Mendocino don't miss it.


S – All is Vanity by Christina Schwarz

>> Saturday, August 12, 2006

I thought her first book, Drowning Ruth, was wonderful and could hardly put it down. I was really hoping that this one did not fall into the “2nd book Letdown” category. At just under the halfway point, I was concerned because although I felt she was building up to something that could be really good, I was wishing she would just get on with it. The second half finally took off. The story is about a would be novelist who uses her friend’s downward spiral into consumerism and keeping up with the Jones’s as the subject of her novel. It’s a dark satire on how the overly image conscious and materialistic can get in over their heads. It wasn’t nearly as compelling as Drowning Ruth. The first half could easily have been the first third or even quarter, the second half is where the story really takes off as things spin out of control for both main characters.


Audiobook - Miss Julia Hits the Road by Ann B. Ross

>> Thursday, August 10, 2006

I've read the first three books in the Miss Julia series and liked them. The first two were with a book club and the third I read later. This is the first one I've listened to and I enjoyed it very much. Claudia Hughes read it and her voices did not seem 'wrong' to me after having my own impressions of what these characters should sound like. I'll likely continue the series as audiobooks later on. It's not a series I'd want to read back to back, but when you need a gentle, humorous comedy of manners, this series is a fun one.


R – Julie and Romeo Get Lucky by Jeanne Ray

>> Tuesday, August 8, 2006

This is a sequel to the thoroughly enjoyable Julie and Romeo which I read last year. All of Jeanne Ray’s books have been sweet, funny, charming and quick reads. This one was just as light and entertaining as the others. Sure, I could go on about the spoiled rotten characters and the way Julie lets her family take advantage of her, but I picked up this book for a quick light read and it gave me a few laugh out loud moments along the way so I’m not going to worry about the negative parts. It’s not worth it in a book that reads this quickly. Overall, it wasn’t quite as good as Ray’s other books, but I’m not sorry I read it and I may never be able to watch the movie Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory again without wanting to buy a lottery ticket.


Q - How Reading Changed My Life by Anna Quindlen

>> Sunday, August 6, 2006

This one barely qualifies as a book at only 84 pages, but I first saw this in a bookstore in Cannon Beach several years ago and almost bought it then. I’ve picked it up several times since, so now was a good time to go ahead and read it. This book brought back many memories of my own childhood as a booklover. It also reinforced that for many of us reading is not the passive activity some folks believe it to be. I found many quotable passages in this book and although I got this from the library, I may have to buy a copy so I can re-read it often. I think any booklover will find a bit of thier own history in this little book.


P – Second Glance by Jodi Picoult

>> Friday, August 4, 2006

This is another interesting book by Picoult. It’s partly a ghost story involving an old burial ground and strange happenings in the nearby town. It’s partly a love story about lost and new love. It’s also a bit of a mystery about what really happened back in 1932. Then, there’s the intrigue of just how do all of these people end up being connected? Convoluted at first, too coincidental at times, but still a very enjoyable book.


Vacation Planning

>> Monday, July 31, 2006

How to pack for vacation (by my friend Jan)
Vacation checklist in order of priority, is:
1. Pack more books than you could possibly read in one year let alone one week. Ditto with yarn and knitting patterns.

2. throw a few clothes in a suitcase.

3. drop dog at kennel.

Two minor modifications were necessary to adapt this for my own needs.

1. I don't knit, I crochet. Yesterday I purchased the yarn for the baby afghan that I can work on while riding in the car, so that one is taken care of.

3. We don't have a dog, so #3 is outta there.

Today is the first day that I can check books out of the library that won't be due till we get back from vacation so I picked up two at one library on the way home tonight. Tomorrow I'll stop at the other library and pick up the Book on Tape and Hardcover book that I requested and are waiting for me on the hold shelf. I was able to time both of those requests beautifully so that they became available within the perfect timing window to take on vacation.

All in all I'm putting about three times the effort into planning my books for vacation as I am in planning what clothes I'll take. Sounds about right to me.


O - The Tea House on Mulberry Street by Sharon Owens

>> Sunday, July 30, 2006

This is the first book by this Irish author. It's a pleasant little story of the many characters who frequent a tea shop in Belfast. Their stories intertwine and there are funny, touching and predictable moments throughout. All in all a pleasant little book and I may very well read more by this author.


A Weekend with no reading

>> Friday, July 28, 2006

Normally that would be a very sad prospect, but this weekend I won't have much time for reading because it's time for a very important annual event:

We've got family coming to town tomorrow and we'll spend some time down at the Brewer's Festival and then come home for dinner and a chance to enjoy some time with my family.

Then, on Sunday morning I'll be meeting a couple of friends from out of town for breakfast and most likely a couple of hours of conversation and laughs.

So even though I'll have little or no chance to read this weekend it's not a bad thing.


N - Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund

>> Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I’d been told that it’s slow to start for some folks, but worth hanging in. It was definitely slow to start for me. I really didn’t feel engaged in the story till about page 150 or so. I didn’t love the book, but I also didn’t dislike it enough to give up on it. Just about the time I felt it was too wordy or over the top, I’d happen upon a really beautiful phrase, sentence or paragraph that pulled me back in. I was home sick from work and finished the second half of the book in 2 days which allowed me to really wrap myself in the language and setting. All in all, I probably wouldn’t recommend it, but I’m glad I read it.

It had some fabulous moments and the whole concept of wrapping the story around a story we're familiar with was intriguing. In places she pulled it off well. Other places it was just kind of over the top in an effort to bring in so many different historical figures and social issues. Particularly near the end it felt like the author was trying to rush in everything she hadn't checked off her list yet.


Another Book on CD

>> Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens - This was not an easy book to listen to. The reader (John Lee) was great, but the story and the language made it tough to follow becuase I tend to listen to books in 10 - 15 minute increments. Thank goodness for Sparknotes. I really used the chapter overviews and analyses on that website to follow the story for the first third of this book. After that, I was acclimated to the language and the story and could follow better just by listening.

Bottom line - I'm glad I listened to this book - it truly is a classic worth experiencing.


Back to A to Z by Author 'M'

>> Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Macomber, Debbie – 50 Harbor Street. This is the fifth installment of her Cedar Cove Series. It’s light and a quick read. No brain effort involved here, it’s kind of like having a reading weekend. All the books take place in the same small Washington town. Each book focuses on a different family in town, with several story lines continued throughout the series. By now, for me, it’s like returning to familiar territory and characters. One thing I particularly enjoy about this series is that although Cedar Cove is a fictional town, I have spent time in the area of Washington where Debbie Macomber lives. This is clearly the inspiration for Cedar Cove and when she does mention real places they are often familiar to me.


2006 Audiobooks (so far)

>> Tuesday, July 18, 2006

As I said, my audiobook listening is separate from my A to Z reading. There was just no way to coordinate the two.

This year I’ve been focusing on two series. I’ve continued with the Mrs. Pollifax series that I started last year. Barbara Rosenblat reads these and I think she could read the dictionary and make it entertaining. The new series I started this year is the No. 1 Ladies Detective Series. Lisette Lecat who does just a fabulous job with the voices and accents reads these. I’ve slipped in a couple of others this year – including the first of the Aunt Dimity series that was fun. The Janet Evanovich was a road trip book for us when we went down to the Shakespeare Festival in Ashland in April.

Here’s the 2006 list (to date) of the audiobooks I’ve finished:

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Mrs Pollifax and the Hong Kong Buddha by Dorothy Gilman
Tears of the Giraffe by Alexander McCall Smith
Mrs. Pollifax and the Golden Triangle by Dorothy Gilman
Morality for Beautiful Girls by Alexander McCall Smith
Mrs. Pollifax and the Whirling Dervish by Dorothy Gilman
The Kalahari Typing School for Men by Alexander McCall Smith
Aunt Dimity's Death by Nancy Atherton
Seven Up by Janet Evanovich
Mrs. Pollifax and the Second Thief by Dorothy Gilman
The Full Cupboard of Life by Alexander McCall Smith
Mrs. Pollifax Pursued by Dorothy Gilman
Mrs. Pollifax and the Lion Killer by Dorothy Gilman

I’m currently listening to A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I’m on the second to last CD and should be done soon.


Portland Radio Drove Me to Audiobooks

>> Monday, July 17, 2006

And I have to say “thank you, Portland radio”. Two thirds of my daily commute to and from work is a ride on a light rail train system. This is great for a reader. I get 20 minutes each way to read and not feed road rage. I love that I have this time. The other third of my commute is the 10-12 minute drive between my house and the park and ride lot. A couple of years ago I suddenly realized that in that ‘drive-time’ I was almost always listening to commercials and inane banter (trust me, Portland drive-time radio stinks!). After one day when I left my house in the morning and heard nothing but a solid block of commercials the entire trip to the park and ride, I’d had it. I stopped at the library on the way home that night and picked up a book on tape. It was Patty Jane’s House of Curl by Lorna Landvik. It wasn’t a book I had been seriously looking forward to reading, but several of the folks in my online booklovers group had enjoyed it. I figured it would be a good one to try. If I didn’t like listening to a book in the car, it wouldn’t be a book I really cared about. I really wondered if listening to a book in 10 minute time slots would make it too chopped up to enjoy. I was pleasantly surprised that I really enjoyed listening to a book when I was in the car alone. It definitely kept me interested way more than Portland radio stations did.

These days I always have a book on tape, cd, or on my ipod (plugged into the car stereo via cassette tape adapter). It’s quite unusual for me to be driving by myself without a book playing, even if it’s just the quick drive to the gym. I also use the books I have on my ipod for listening while walking (I walk in a lot of 5k events and it’s great to listen to a book if I’m not walking with a friend).

My husband and I now listen to books together when we take road trips. We’ve been working our way through Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series (which I’ve read, but he hasn’t) and Lilian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who . . . series. Both of these make for great road trip books.

I’m pretty picky about what I’ll listen to. Because I do tend to listen in small chunks of time, I don’t like to listen to complicated mysteries or non-fiction. The lighter mysteries are fine. I have learned that a good reader can make an Okay book better, but the wrong reader can absolutely ruin a great book. I definitely have some favorite readers (George Guidall and Barbara Rosenblat are both awesome). I have also found that listening is a good way to do some of the ‘classics I’ve never read’, as well as some books that are overloaded with description (cough, cough, Jean Auel, cough, cough) so I can sort of fade out until the action kicks in again.


and on to 'L'

>> Sunday, July 16, 2006

Larson, Erik – The Devil in White City. I’ve had this one on my list to be read for quite a while. I’ve heard mixed reviews from friends, but I decided to go ahead and give it a go. I liked this book a lot – I enjoy reading both history and true crime, so this is the perfect blend. The parallel stories of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and of a serial killer at the same time and place made it seem almost like reading two books at the same time. Just about the time I was getting ready for a break in the story of building and operating the fair, the story would shift to Holmes. I’m passing this one along for my husband to read.


July (so far)

>> Friday, July 14, 2006

Jackson, Joshilyn – Between, Georgia. This is yet another author that my bookseller friend brought to my attention. I thoroughly enjoyed her first novel “gods in Alabama”. This one was good too. In the midst of a mixed up dysfunctional family there’s a lot of love and southern humor to be found here.

Kerley, Jack – The Death Collectors. His follow up to The Hundredth Man has Carson and Harry at it again. Once again he’s written well-paced mystery with lots of twists and turns. The humor and romance are there, but not obtrusive. I changed my mind several times regarding who I thought was the murderer, which makes for a fun read.



Evanovich, Janet – Eleven on Top. I love this series. It’s funny, sexy, light and thoroughly enjoyable. I’ve read them all so far and then listened to them again on CD with my husband on car trips. They make great road trip listening.

Frank, Dorothea Benton – Plantation. I’m a sucker for books set in the South. I enjoyed Dot Frank’s first book Sullivan’s Island. This one started out good and I ended up really enjoying it. Sure, the characters are over the top, but it’s entertainingly dysfunctional families.

Gilstrap, John – Scott Free. His first book Nathan’s Run simply blew me away and even though his books are hard to find, I’ve enjoyed every one. This guy can write the kind of suspense novel that I have a hard time putting down.

Hayder, Mo – Birdman. I’ve never read anything by her, but this is another author that my bookseller friend really likes. This is seriously twisted stuff, but a good creepy crime thriller. The ‘hero’ is not exactly a likeable guy, but the story had enough twists and turns to keep me interested.

Iles, Greg – Spandau Phoenix. This one has an interesting premise that starts out with the facts of Rudolf Hess’ flight to England and takes off from there into speculative history rewriting. It’s got lots of characters and locations to keep straight, and many twists and turns along the way, but a good thriller.


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