Mstrust's 11 in 11 Pt. 2!

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Mstrust's 11 in 11 Pt. 2!

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Editado: Nov 26, 2011, 1:46pm

Here's my categories:

Pulling a Pint with the Irish

1. I Am Mary Dunne
2. The Magician's Wife
4. Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception 3.5 stars
5. The Lonely Girl
6. The Snapper 2 stars
7. The Book of Lost Things
8. The Book of Irish Weirdness
9. Girls in Their Married Bliss
10. The House in Paris

Why the empty slot? I started to read The Sea but found the writing too florid for my taste and so abandoned it. Something will come along.

Editado: Jul 16, 2011, 4:08pm

We're Gonna Need A Bigger Boat
The Sea, Shipwrecks, Pirates and Survival

1. Captured By Pirates 4.5 stars
2. She Captains
3. Seafaring Women4 stars
4. The Tragic Fate of the U.S.S. Indianapolis
5. Return to Treasure Island

Editado: Nov 4, 2011, 12:49pm

On Yer Bike!
The serial novels of the fantastic British show, The Professionals.

1. The Professionals Annual 1983 3.5 stars
2. The Professionals 4: Hunter Hunted 4 stars
3. The Professionals 5: Blind Run 4 stars
4. The Professionals 6: Fall Girl 4 stars
5. The Professionals Annual 1982 4 stars
6. The Professionals 7: Hiding To Nothing 5 stars

Editado: Sep 13, 2011, 12:51pm

Editado: Dic 17, 2011, 12:10pm

You Meddling Kids!
Mysteries, noir, suspense

1. On What Grounds 2.5 stars
2. Cover Her Face 4 stars
3. The Mystery of the Blue Train3.5 stars
3. Cream Puff Murder 3 stars
4. Over My Dead Body 4 stars
5. The Murder Room 4.5 stars
6. Wild Town 4.5 stars
7. Let's Kill Uncle 4 stars
8. The Big Four 3.5 stars
9. Poirot Investigates 3 stars
10. The Secret of Chimneys 2.5 stars
11. Last Bus to Woodstock 4 stars
12. Unnatural Causes 4 stars
13. Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist 3 stars
14. Partners In Crime 3 stars
15. Solomon's Vineyard 4 stars
16. The Big Sleep 5 stars
17. The Mysterious Mr. Quin 3.5 stars
18. Bimbos of the Death Sun 4 stars
19. The Murder at the Vicarage 4 stars
20. Peril at End House 3.5 stars
21. Queenpin 4 stars

Editado: Nov 3, 2011, 12:34pm

I'll Have My Regular

1. Gastroanomalies 5 stars
2. Sixpence House 5 stars
3. Summer of My German Soldier 4 stars
4. The Gallery of Regrettable Food 5 stars/b>
5. Mommy Knows Worst 5 stars
6. The Graveyard Book 5 stars

Editado: Nov 13, 2011, 1:11pm

I Ain't Scared of No Ghost
Autumn/Halloween Reads

1. Count Karlstein3 stars
2. Doctor Faustus
3. Arabat
4. Arabat: Days of Magic, Nights of War
5. Lives of the Monster Dogs
6. The Witch's Guide to Cooking with Children 4 stars
7. The Turn of the Screw3 stars
8. The Woman in White 5 stars
9. The Graveyard Book 5 stars
10. Autumn: A New England Journey 5 stars
11. Quiet As A Nun 4 stars
12. Come Along With Me4.5 stars
13. The Strain
14. Bone Soup3 stars
15. Robe of Skulls3 stars
16. Neverwhere
17. Grendel
18. In Cold Blood 4.5 stars
19. Halloween: An American Holiday 3 stars
20. All Hallow's Evil3.5 stars
21. Sleepy Hollow 4 stars

Editado: Dic 12, 2011, 1:39pm

Editado: Dic 9, 2011, 5:24pm

Something Nasty in the Woodshed...
You Never Know What It'll Be

1. The Gourmet Cookie Book 5 stars
2. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children 4.5 stars
3. Simple Times:Crafts for Poor People 4.5 stars
4. The Most Beautiful Libraries of the World 5 stars
5. How To Be A Complete Bastard 3 stars
6. Cocktail Time 5 stars
7. Interior Desecrations 4 stars
8. You Are What You Eat 3.5 stars
9. The Uncommon Reader 4.5 stars
10. Alice Waters and Chez Panisse 4 stars
11. Minnesota Fats On Pool 3 stars
12. Tropic of Cancer 3.5 stars
13. Fahrenheit 451 4 stars
14. The Deep 3 stars
15. Smooth Operators 3.5 stars
16. What I Hate from A to Z 4 stars
17. The Worst Noel 3.5 stars
18. A Christmas Story 4 stars

Mayo 8, 2011, 5:54pm

40. Cover her Face by P.D. James. Young unwed mother Sally Jupp has just started as the housemaid to the Maxie family. It doesn't take long before she announces that son Stephen has proposed to her. When she is found strangled in her bed the next morning, the Maxies are horrified, but also very relieved. Adam Dalgliesh of Scotland Yard is sent to sort through the glut of suspects who would want to see the girl dead.

I'm going to get through at least a couple of the Dalgliesh mysteries this month, and Cover Her Face was the first, published in 1962. It's properly English, with an old estate, the secret between the maid and the family heir and the calm and polite detectives in charge. It's a good one, with realistic characters and an ending that kept me guessing. 4 stars

Mayo 15, 2011, 2:29pm

41. The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie. American Ruth Kettering is in an unhappy marriage with Derek, an impoverished English aristocrat who had become too indiscreet. When Ruth's millionaire father convinces her to file for divorce, the scheming begins. Ruth is found dead on the train to the Riviera and Poirot finds a number of suspects all circling round the victim.

I place this one firmly in the middle of Christie's work; it isn't one of her greats (And Then There Were None) and it certainly isn't one of her stinkers (hello, Elephants Can Remember). It's a solid Poirot that is difficult to figure out, mainly because the reader isn't given a vital piece of evidence until 20 pages from the end.
I detect the beginnings of her later Murder on the Orient Express here, with a murder of a wealthy, entitled person on a train, though that's where the similarities end. MotOE is a masterpiece. 3.5 stars

Editado: Mayo 21, 2011, 7:25pm

42. Unnatural Causes by P.D. James. This is the third of the Adam Dalgliesh series. I've read the first but not the second, but that hasn't lessened the story here at all.

Dalgliesh is looking forward to a few weeks of relaxation during his holiday at the seashore with his aunt at her cottage. She lives in a small village that seems to house nothing but writers, a place where everyone enjoys their solitude. But as soon as he arrives a writer is murdered,the corpse mutilated and Dalgliesh finds himself at odds with the local Inspector, who seems to resent Dalgliesh's presence.

A good one. Dalgliesh's moods swing between irritated and depressed, yet he always is cool. The suspects are well-written and unlikeable. 4 stars

Mayo 22, 2011, 5:35pm

So are the ones without ratings the ones you have left to go? Looks great. & I'm going to have to read PD James some day.

Mayo 22, 2011, 5:49pm

Yes, the ones without stars haven't been read yet.

I ignored James for many years, but then I saw her speak and was so impressed that I had to read one, The Murder Room, and was hooked.

Mayo 26, 2011, 2:36pm

43. Wild Town by Jim Thompson. For some reason, local sheriff Lou Ford releases Bugs McKenna from jail and gets him a job at the nicest hotel in town as the house detective. Bugs can't stop wondering why Ford would do that for a stranger, one with a police record of violence, but he quickly begins to suspect that the smiling, drawling sheriff has a plan that needs a fall guy.

If you're like me and discovered Thompson through The Killer Inside Me, you'll be thrilled to find that he's plucked some of his characters from that amazing book and dropped them here. While this isn't a sequel, Lou Ford is again the creepy sheriff of a small Texas town and he is again engaged to sweet Amy and messing around with Joyce the Hooker ( her status is just slightly more elevated in this go-round), but the book is narrated by nervous Bugs, who just knows that somebody and everybody is out to get him.
Everything Thompson wrote oozes gritty noir. 4.5 stars

Mayo 26, 2011, 2:53pm

Thanks for your review of Wild Town! I had no idea there was more to the story. I'll have to check it out.

Mayo 26, 2011, 10:36pm

Poor Bugs! It sounds like a good premise.

Mayo 27, 2011, 6:28am

17 Great review, I have only The Killer Inside Me so that sounds like a great book to move on to.

Mayo 27, 2011, 12:19pm

Hi cammy and Claire!

Yes, this would be a good follow-up to TKIM, but so would Pop.1280. Thompson clearly saw sheriffs as demonic. I'd be interested in getting a bio on him.

Mayo 27, 2011, 12:45pm

I'll have to read something by Jim Thompson. I really liked the movie version of The Killer Inside Me.

Mayo 27, 2011, 2:04pm

I also loved the movie version of The Killer Inside Me and have the book on my TBR shelves. I will have to get my hands on both Wild Town and Pop. 1280 as they sound excellent as well!

Mayo 30, 2011, 3:57pm

I had an idea. Anyone who has visited my threads in previous years knows how I bitch incessantly about the summer here in Phoenix and about how I wish I were anywhere else from May through October. I hate heat. I even hate spicy food.

Anyway, rather than ruin the cool weather seasons later this year by reading about hot climates, I thought I'd pack all of my heat-related subjects into the next couple of months. I'm already miserable so why not rub it in?
So, this summer I'll be going through a surprisingly big stack of books that are broadly related to the season: set in hot climates, traveling to warm areas, ocean voyages, pirating...
Not all my reads will be from this category, but I'll do as many as I can. And I'm starting off with:

44. New England's Favorite Seafood Shacks by Elizabeth Bougerol. This thick book must account for every restaurant, diner and dockside shack in New England that serves any kind of seafood. It's almost 250 large pages with photos, descriptions of the menus, atmosphere and the owners, and if warranted, the history of some historic shacks. If you're traveling in this area and love seafood, you'll want this book.

Oh, to attend Jawsfest in June and eat lobster rolls every day. 4 stars

Mayo 30, 2011, 5:50pm

I am so with you on the AZ heat.

Your strategy might work. Remember to drink a nice, hot mug of tea while you read.

Mayo 31, 2011, 3:44pm

Thought I'd sit in a cold bath and pretend it's a pool at a fancy resort. And have my husband deliver pina coladas.

I see that you've lived here, Alison, so you know. My blinds will remain closed until it's time to put up the Halloween decorations.

Mayo 31, 2011, 5:35pm

I'm all over those fruity drinks. Lay in a supply of those little umbrellas. I make a mean sangria, made with pink wine, ripe peaches, blackberries and a bit of raspberry vodka. I'm sending you an imaginary one for your reading.

That "dry heat" thing is a lie. Above a certain level, humidity plays no roll at all. And I'm now in the Old South, home to humidity.

Mayo 31, 2011, 7:46pm

Wow, that sangria sounds amazing! If you wouldn't mind, could I have your recipe?
I usually just throw whatever fresh fruit I have into a blender with ice and vodka, maybe a shot of Midori.

Yes, since so many people have put in lawns and pools, Phoenix is nice and sweaty. But I've spent summers in Texas and Florida so I know what you're in for. Makes my hair curl so bad I look like Little Orphan Annie.

Jun 1, 2011, 1:46pm

Thanks so much for the recipe, it looks yummy!

Jun 1, 2011, 1:47pm

45. The Seven Year Itch by George Axelrod. This is the script of the play as it ran in 1952 with the original cast, including Tom Ewell as Richard Sherman.

Thirty-eight years old and married for seven years, Richard Sherman's wife and boy leave him alone with his vivid imagination for the summer. What no one was expecting is that a new girl has taken the upstairs apartment for the summer and Mr. Sherman can't stop thinking about his waning youth or his marriage, which has become so comfortable.

Funny, charming and not as innocent as the movie. Not to compare it to the movie, which I really love, but the whole play takes part in the Sherman's apartment, with Sherman's fantasy scenes played out with "dream lighting" and actors offstage providing the inner dialogue. Also, the relationship with the girl upstairs is more complicated.
Some of my favorite characters in the movie, such as the janitor and Sherman's boss, are only referred to here, but the brusque psychiatrist has a bigger part.

If you like the movie, you'd like the play. 4 stars

Jun 3, 2011, 11:04pm

Ah, so next play will be Cat on a Hot Tin Roof???

Well, I'll say this for dry heat. At least it kills off a lot of bugs. Wet heat, you're steam cooked perfectly for the mosquitoes. Ah, and rent Body Heat when you need a break from reading.

Jun 4, 2011, 12:28am

Good thinking! If only I had that one, it does having a sweaty atmosphere.

I've never seen Body Heat so I'll have to check it out. I have seen Jaws about 40 times now. One of my favorites.

Jun 4, 2011, 12:46am

Body Heat drips sweat. Speaking of an oppressive atmosphere!

Jun 8, 2011, 2:41pm

46. Captured by Pirates edited by John Richard Stephens. Twenty-two accounts of people, mostly professional seamen, who were captured by pirates. Most of the accounts span across 100 years, from the early 1700's to the early 1800's, and cover a wide variance of pirate behavior. Some crews were of the gentlemanly sort, who kept violence to a minimum and were only interested in the cargo, while others were barbaric, such as in one account when a man was forced to watch as his captain's arms were chopped off and others of the crew were tortured to death.

For anyone who doubts that meeting with pirates could be really scary, this is proof that surviving often came down to pure luck. 4.5 stars

Jun 9, 2011, 4:47am

@34 Sounds fascinating, thanks for the review

Jun 9, 2011, 1:58pm

You always find the most interesting books about pirates. And since I am a pirate lover, I am adding Captured by Pirates to my wishlist.

Jun 9, 2011, 6:31pm

Claire and Judy- glad it sounds interesting. That's the best thing about LT; you find so many books to add to the pile!

Jun 9, 2011, 9:57pm

@34 Yikes! I'm wishlisting it too.

Jun 12, 2011, 12:33pm

47. Sixpence House by Paul Collins. Collins moves his family from San Francisco to the book town of Hay-On-Wye, Wales. The young couple plan on buying a house and raising their son there as Paul awaits his first book to be published. In the meantime, he works for "The King of Hay" in one of the towns many bookstores, meets the Hay Festival organizer and many of the locals and attempts to find a house that won't fall down on them.

This is my second read of Sixpence House and I love Collins' writing and also his perspective, as an American whose parents are English.
This book was my introduction to Hay-On-Wye and to book towns when I first read it a few years ago. But it isn't all about books- it covers the strange methods of British real estate, the realization in a grocery store that he is no longer in the land of plenty and a visit to his dying grandmother. But a lot of it is about books. Yea! 5 stars

Jun 12, 2011, 1:47pm

Oh Sixpence House sounds like something I would love. Onto the wishlist it goes!

Jun 16, 2011, 7:32pm

I read Sixpence House several years ago. I'm pretty sure I read it before I was on LibraryThing. I don't remember enough about the book to review it, but I do remember liking it fairly well although it wasn't a 5 star read for me. However, it was also my introduction to Hay-On-Wye. If I ever get to Wales, this town is definitely on my "must visit" list.

Jun 16, 2011, 10:08pm

I've been to Wales but it was so many years ago and I wasn't that much of a reader then, so I didn't know about it. We must put it on the bucket list- Go To Wales.
I think there are other book towns around the world too.

>40 DeltaQueen50: Delta, hope you find it and love it.

Jun 19, 2011, 10:45pm

48. Alice Waters and Chez Panisse by Thomas McNamee. A bio of both the famous restaurant in Berkeley and it's founder, sometime chef and public face of Waters.

It begins with Waters' childhood and I really thought that there was no need to go back quite that far, but as you go through her college years and the beginnings of her interest in food, and the fact that her father figures into the later success of the restaurant, it makes sense to have the background.

Chez Panisse has repeatedly been voted the best restaurant in America, but its rise happened slowly and in a way that probably wouldn't happen these days. Who could get away with being backed by drug dealers? And the success happened despite Waters' utter lack of business skills, and her confusing desire to attend the Sorbonne, to cook for her friends, to open a restaurant, but not to be the chef. I found it really strange that she built her life around food and held the title of chef while avoiding the actual cooking most of the time. Which brings up another thing about the book; I thought it would be a kind portrait of Waters and for the most part it is. But about halfway through McNamee begins showing cracks in the Panisse family and it gives a more realistic view of what it's like to have had such a group effort that benefits one person more than the others. 4 stars

Jun 21, 2011, 8:40pm

49. Agatha Raisin and the Terrible Tourist by M.C. Beaton. I don't know which number in the series this one is, and it's the second I've read.

Agatha leaves her thatched English cottage to track down James, the man who left her, in Cyprus. He doesn't seem thrilled to see her, and in fact he spends much of their time yelling at her and she spends her time cowering.
They both spend a lot of time with a group of fellow Brits- the upper class bunch led by snotty Olivia and the working class bunch led by slutty Rose. Murders among the tourist attractions give Agatha and James time to work together and fight a lot.

This is a quick read and I liked it much better than the other I had read, Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of Death. 3 stars

Jun 24, 2011, 6:23pm

50. Minnesota Fats On Pool by Minnesota Fats. I do not own a pool table and I haven't play pool in maybe 15 years. I played as a kid, and when I saw this, written by possibly the most famous player ever, I grabbed it. If you're going to read a how-to, even of something you don't want to do, it should be by an expert.

This was written in 1965 and besides explaining every variation of the came and how to execute the shots, there are some great black and white photos of Fats, hair greased and wearing a natty suit, showing how to hold a cue and take a shot. Even explains how to re-cover your pool table, if you're into that sort of thing. 3 stars

Jun 26, 2011, 12:37pm

51. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene. Twelve year-old Patty Bergen lives in a small Arkansas town during WWII. Her parents dislike Patty intensely, she isn't allowed to play with the poor children and there aren't many Jewish families in the area, so when her friends go to Baptist camp for the summer, Patty has little to do other than try to help in her parent's department store. Then some German prisoners are brought to a detention camp nearby and taken to buy supplies in the Bergen's store. And when one young prisoner escapes from the camp, it's Patty who finds him.

Everybody remember reading this at about eleven or twelve? That was the last time I read this book and I expected to have that feeling of ,"Oh, it was good for a kid." I'm actually surprised at the complexity of the characters here, especially that of Patty's brutal father juxtaposed against the gentle Anton. The theme that someone could be forced to represent an ideology they don't believe in is subtle yet effective. If you haven't read this since childhood, try it again. 4 stars

Jun 27, 2011, 11:52am

52. The Professionals Annual 1982. For Americans I'll explain that in the UK they put out annuals for popular shows. They have photos and behind-the-scenes stuff and additional stories involving the characters. I'm looking to have the whole collection from this series.4 stars

Jul 1, 2011, 10:57pm

53. Living and Working in London by Claire O'Brie. I bought this one simply because I've always longed to be in London again, even for a short time.
My copy is a 2000 printing (there must be a more recent edition) so much of it can be expected to be outdated by the world financial crisis, but there's still valuable information such as the explanation of the various boroughs and their populations.
This book would be of interest only for those making the move or for people like me, who are armchair residents. 3 stars

Jul 6, 2011, 3:53pm

54. Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller. Well... I had never read Miller before and I assumed from the title that this was a tale of a tropical retreat. A hiatus from life, a story of self-discovery in Polynesia maybe. Nnnoooo.

This is a first-person story, probably much of it true, about Miller's years of poverty and perversion in Paris. He walks the streets, eats little, drinks a lot, picks up many, many prostitutes, calls women by the c-word, lives with bed bugs and meets a dog with worms.
This book is pretty shocking, so it's no big surprise that it was banned for years. Yet, even with a plot so slim that I'm not sure there actually is a plot, Miller is a good writer. He's brutal, sometimes funny and every once in a while he's tender-hearted. 3.5 stars

Jul 9, 2011, 8:57pm

55. Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell. A collection of essays on history, travel and personal experiences from the NPR contributor. I have two favorites- "Species-On-Species Abuse" is about a trip to Disney World with her gay friend, and "American Goth", where Vowell hires a group of Goths to make her up and see if she could pass in a San Francisco nightclub. And "Shooting Dad" was a big surprise for me, as I also have a gunsmith in the family who has also expressed the ghoulish desire to have his body made into ammo after his death. Yes, you read that right.

My only criticism is that I thought the essay "What I See When I Look at The Face On The $20 Bill" is like a warm-up for her later book The Wordy Shipmates, as Vowell gets on her soapbox, loses her sense of humor entirely and scolds America as she reminds us how horribly Native Americans were treated two hundred years ago. Other than those moments, I like her. 4 stars

Jul 16, 2011, 6:23am

I seem to remember that you're an Arthur Upfield fan, so just dropping in to say that The Bone is Pointed is the best Boney book I've read so far.

Jul 16, 2011, 11:53am

Yes, I am an Upfield fan and thanks for the rec. I don't have that one yet but I do have it wishlisted. Glad you're also a fan!
BTW, did you know there's an episode of the t.v. show on Youtube?

Jul 16, 2011, 4:09pm

56. Seafaring Women by David Cordingly. The touchstone for this book comes up under its original title, Women Sailors and Sailors' Women.
This book, written by pirate expert Cordingly, covers all aspects of women and the sea- girls who sailed disguised as boys, female pirates, the lives of prostitutes in port towns and the wives of sailors and ship captains. There are many women here that I had never heard of, and I've read lots on pirate and sea history.
A standout is the story of nineteen year-old Mary Patten, the wife of a ship captain who became ill in 1856 while sailing from New York to San Francisco. The first mate was unable to navigate, but Mary's husband had taught her how on a previous journey, so rather than pull into a foreign port and cause her husband's employer to face a heavy fine, she took the wheel, navigated the ship for 4 months and completed the voyage.
Also surprising is the number of women who were able to collect a sort of pension from the Royal Navy after being discovered and removed from duty. It seems that in many cases, if a woman could prove that she had served honorably, even though in disguise, she received her pay for services rendered. 4 stars

Jul 17, 2011, 6:03pm

There are tons and tons of cross-dressing women British Isle ballads. Glad to know there was some truth to it! I'll have to look for that book.

& I have to say, so there has been more than one person in the world who wanted their body made into ammo??? I can see wanting your iron peg leg being made into a canon ball but...

Jul 18, 2011, 12:21pm

Interesting video, thanks for linking it. It's too bad that the audience is making so much noise while they perform.

And, yeah, I think there's a type of person who finds that type of memorial appealing. I can't explain it.

Jul 18, 2011, 11:02pm

Glad you liked the song. I wanted to find the Triona version for you, but oh well. This version was good too.

Jul 21, 2011, 12:58pm

57. Partners In Crime by Agatha Christie. This is the second book of sleuthing couple Tommy and Tuppence, but this time they are put in charge of a detective agency. While solving cases that range from alibi verification to murder, they can be read almost as short stories and even the murder cases have a breezy feel to them as they are solved in two chapters.
While I wouldn't call this one a great Christie, I liked it. Some would point out that there isn't much build-up to the cases, but I'd say this is a good choice for just going along with T&T, a young, hip 1920's bantering couple. 3 stars

Jul 28, 2011, 12:07pm

58. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. Sixteen year old Jacob is sent to check on his grandfather after a disturbing phone call. He finds his grandfather in the woods behind his home, dying from wounds that can't be explained. The old man's last words are a puzzle but have something to do with the wild stories he used to tell Jacob, about the years he spent hiding from the Nazis on a tiny Welsh island that took in children. For his own piece of mind, Jacob and his father decide to visit the island and put an end to the grandfather's lies.

This is an ER and I'm really glad I won it. It's a truly original book, full of vintage photos as "proof" of who Jacob meets and the events that happened in his grandfather's time. Clearly there will be sequels. 4.5 stars

Jul 30, 2011, 1:20am

I loved the photos. & that creepy kid that kept bringing things to life.

Jul 30, 2011, 12:26pm

Enoch, yes!


To find out at the end that the photos were all real (I had thought that some of them were too strange to not be staged) was great. You just wonder why someone would want a photo of a teenage girl smoking a pipe and peeling potatoes.

Jul 31, 2011, 12:56pm

59. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Guy Montag is a fireman in an America that has long since outlawed books. His job is to burn books and the homes of the people who have squirreled them away. Guy enjoys his job up until a young girl on his street makes him question why he does things so automatically, without thought. Suddenly Guy is wondering why his wife dopes herself up at night, if he's happy and if books might hold some answers.

I do feel that I'm the last one to the boat with this iconic novel. There's so much here.


America as a television-obsessed society (what? that would never happen) with t.v.s the size of walls. Guy, with Faber in his ear, fighting for the rights of the individual. The demolition of a society that needs to be demolished and the chance that it can be re-built into something better. 4 stars

Jul 31, 2011, 11:00pm

Enoch.... brrrr....

Glad you found Fahrenheit 451. I'm not a Bradbury fan, but I love that book.

Ago 2, 2011, 1:05pm

60. Solomon's Vineyard by Jonathan Latimer. A private detective is hired to bring a rich man's niece home. But the niece is being held captive by a religious cult with a sinister plan for the girl, and the cult is led by a beautiful blonde. There's also a local mob boss, who has the prettiest girl in town.

This book was written in 1941 but banned from publication in the U.S. until 1988, though I can't figure out why. The "kinky" sex scenes are brief and almost laughable, but no more graphic than any other pulp writing at the time.
The writing can be flat as a pancake for a few paragraphs here and there but Latimer is good at action, with gangland shoot outs and fistfights being plentiful. So are double-crosses and deaths; this detective gets everybody involved in his problems.

My beef is with the publisher, Black Mask. This book takes sloppy editing to new lows. Paragraph structures are often wrong, dialogue is attached to previous dialogue so that the reader has to guess which character is speaking and the spelling mistakes are too numerous to count. For some reason, the word "off" is replaced with "oil" in almost every instance.

However, I really enjoyed the exciting story with all its intrigue and it's a a true example of hardboiled pulp. 4 stars

Ago 2, 2011, 2:15pm

You'd think with a book written in 1941 they would have had plenty of time to get things right.

Ago 2, 2011, 2:31pm

Oh, Black Mask began republishing this book in 2004 and they've done several editions since. Which makes me wonder what their first edition must have looked like.

Ago 2, 2011, 3:48pm

probably perfect. Back in 2004, they probably still employed proof-readers.

Ago 2, 2011, 9:49pm

I'll bet it was perfect in 1941. I wonder if it was the cult that got it banned. In 1941, Jonestown hadn't happened. I don't think there was much awareness of cults.

Ago 3, 2011, 11:13am

Yes, I would expect that there were some higher standards back then. It's pretty rare to read a book printed in that era and find spelling goofs but it's more and more common now. The book I started reading yesterday has "$" all over the first page replacing letters or even whole words. How does that even happen?

Ago 3, 2011, 12:14pm

Because the publishing companies save money by not investing in proofreaders and copy editors. The big sellers get them, but not smaller novels. Also, if a book is rushed into print, it might miss the final few read-throughs that would catch silly errors. I've heard of authors proofreading their own work (which automatically means things will be missed because they usually aren't trained in proof reading and because they are too close to the material), finding errors, but having the publishing company tell them it's too late.

I'm hoping that as ereaders take off, readers will demand a certain standard and that publishers will decide to take pride in what they release again. It's come to the point where a well-designed book is a surprise. We expect to endure the medium to get the story, rather than expecting the medium (whether nook or bound copy) to enhance and increase the pleasures of reading.

Ago 3, 2011, 10:01pm

Amen, RidgewayGirl. I used to be a proofreader and was told it was a field that would become obsolete. My own company started skipping over me to give the client a deal, never mind it made us look real bad.

I just read a small press book published by an award winning author, and it hadn't been proofread at all! I'm not just guessing that. I had it confirmed by one of the author's writers group members. Painful! Authors have started hiring proofreaders on their own now in some cases. We should start demanding books that have been properly proofed.

Ago 4, 2011, 9:42am

We can mention it prominently in our reviews.

Hey, I used to be a proofreader too.

Ago 4, 2011, 10:46am

How great that someone's penny pinching will live forever in print. I had considered that the dollar signs were a commentary on the class system put there on purpose by an underpaid employee, but most likely it is as you say, a lack of the employee altogether.
And yes, I do think we should warn others of lazy publishing.


I'm surprised we aren't finding more books that have been marked up by an enraged reader doing their own proofreading.

Ago 4, 2011, 9:47pm

LOL! Got to pay me to mark up a book with that many errors!

Ago 8, 2011, 12:17pm

Staying on the hardboiled trend-

61. The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. L.A. private detective Phil Marlowe is hired by a very wealthy and very sick old man to see who is trying to blackmail him. But Marlowe quickly figures out that the old man knew Marlowe would be led into a quagmire of rotten people all trying to get their hands on the same money.

This is my first Chandler and I loved it. The writing is excellent, very much along the lines of Dashiell Hammett, so if you liked The Maltese Falcon, you'll probably like Chandler. 5 stars

Ago 10, 2011, 2:46pm

So glad you enjoyed The Big Sleep. Robert B. Parker penned a sequel to it called Perchance to Dream. It's not as good as the original but if you need a hardboiled fix...

Ago 10, 2011, 8:16pm

Thanks for the rec! I hadn't heard of that one and it would be difficult to be as good as The Big Sleep so I won't hold anything against Parker.

Ago 15, 2011, 12:58pm

The Agatha Christie of the month is...

62. The Mysterious Mr. Quin. This is a series of short stories in which an elderly and sometimes regret-filled Mr. Satterthwaite moves among his wealthy acquaintances to figure out various murders, save lives and generally ferret out their deepest thoughts. In what seems to be a case of mutual worldwide stalking, Mr. Satterthwaite runs into Mr. Quin like clockwork, and it's is the discussions between the two gentlemen that point the way to an answer.

Though these stories usually run to about twenty pages each, they are satisfying. Characters are fleshed out enough to keep the readers attention, and Mr. Quin becomes more mysterious with each tale. I don't know if it's just me, but there were times when I could picture Satterthwaite as Poirot. 3.5 stars

Ago 15, 2011, 1:29pm

@ 77 -- I really liked The Mysterious Mr. Quin too. I don't usually like Christie's supernatural plots, but this is one instance where I think she did it well. Out of curiosity, have you read Three Act Tragedy? It's the only Christie novel I can think of where Satterthwaite and Poirot appear together.

Ago 15, 2011, 4:11pm

Yes, I have read that one, but it's been a few years and I had completely forgotten Satterthwaite being in it. Probably because I saw the new Masterpiece Theater production, the one with Martin Shaw as Cartwright, very recently and I don't think they used the character.
I do remember liking that book and thinking that she had written some good female characters there.

Ago 16, 2011, 2:39pm

63. The Deep by Peter Benchley. Gail and David Sanders are honeymooning in Bermuda, enjoying the scuba diving. They dive on a wreck near their hotel and come up with, among other things, a glass ampule filled with yellow liquid. Word gets around the island quickly and the Sanders find themselves first being coaxed and then threatened for information. Their only chance at surviving the local gang is working with Treece, a wreck diver who is after the Spanish treasure in the same spot.

If you've read Benchley's Jaws, you would know why I began reading this one with more than a little scepticism. I'm a huge fan of the movie, but it turned out that scriptwriters, Robert Shaw and Spielberg had taken the bones of the novel and built something way better.
So I expected more of the same here, but it seems that Benchley's writing improved quite a bit by the time this was published in 1976. It's an easy thriller that hangs on scary things happening underwater and in the dark night, with a police force so incompetent that the protagonists have to go it alone. A decent summer read. 3 stars

Editado: Ago 19, 2011, 12:44pm

64. Bimbos of the Death Sun by Sharyn McCrumb. Dr. Jay Omega is an engineering professor who wrote a hard sci-fi novel that explains some of his theories. His publisher re-titled the book as Bimbos of the Death Sun, slapped a lurid cover on, and now Omega finds he and his girlfriend at a fantasycon for the weekend where he's expected to give a lecture, judge some horrible fanfiction, lead a D&D game, sell some books and help the police with a murder investigation.

I've never read fantasy, unless you count Harry Potter, and I don't read science fiction or play wargames. Doesn't matter, this is a fun book. I was happy enough with the cast of misfit characters who think they're Norse warriors or Vulcans that I forgot to be on the lookout for a murder. This is a 1988 Edgar Allan Poe award winner and it really hasn't aged that much. The computer stuff has changed, but a hotel of outcasts enjoying the company of their own is timeless. 4 stars

Ago 18, 2011, 3:40pm

Bimbos of the Death Sun sounds like a fun read. Onto the wishlist it goes.

Ago 18, 2011, 11:16pm

Bimbos was mentioned at the last con I was at. I'm sure, when I read it, I'll recognize some of my friends.

Ago 19, 2011, 12:47pm

Ha! I think I spot them when we're waiting for a big book sale to open.

Editado: Sep 19, 2011, 1:27pm

And... I have my list for Autumn/Halloween made out. I'm sure I won't get to all of them but I'll start September 1st and do what I can. If anyone sees something interesting and wants to join me in a read, I'll try to arrange it. Oh, I can't wait to decorate the house.

The Woman in White reading with Dianna, Start date 9/30.
Howl's Moving Castle
Come Along With Me
The Turn of the Screw- reading with Julie
The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein
All Hallow's Evil by Valerie Wolzien
The List of 7
Quiet As A Nun
Halloween: An American Holiday, An American Tradition
Count Karlstein
The Witch's Guide to Cooking with Children
Robe of Skulls
Bone Soup
The Strain -reading with Julie. Starts 9/14
Sleepy Hollow by Time Burton.

Ago 19, 2011, 11:17pm

Enjoy The Turn of the Screw. That's my all time favorite gothic novel. There's a group read of The Woman in White under the 11 11 thread planned for October. I'm planning on reading it then.

Ago 20, 2011, 1:31pm

I was just informed about the group read, don't know how I missed it! I've seen the movie version of The Turn... and I'm looking forward to the read. Come on, September!

Ago 21, 2011, 2:12am

The movie version is pretty good. I usually hate movies made from books, but their interpretation was pretty close to the way I was thinking about the book. The book is so beautifully ambiguous.

Ago 21, 2011, 12:16pm

I usually will hold off seeing the movie version of a book until I've read it, especially mysteries. But I happened to find a version of The Turn of the Screw with one of my favorite actors as Quint, James Laurenson. Lynn Redgrave plays the lead and it was directed by the guy who did the soap opera "Dark Shadows". I can't really recommend it. The acting is good but the whole thing has the appearance of a 70's t.v. movie. I know there is an older version that is most likely better.

Ago 21, 2011, 11:04pm

That's the one I saw. I remember Lynn Redgrave being in it. It was very BBC production-like.

Ago 22, 2011, 3:03pm

How funny that you've seen that version too! I thought it was a back-of-the-vaults type.

Ago 22, 2011, 4:08pm

It might be. I sometimes see some odd things. After all, I've seen Deluge from the 1930s. It was obviously a US RKO production, but the only copy that exists is dubbed in Italian.

Ago 23, 2011, 3:02pm

I don't know that movie but kudos for finding something that rare. I also seek out rare (at least in the States) movies, mostly British stuff from the 60's-70's. Old mysteries or bad horror.

Ago 23, 2011, 3:03pm

65. The Kingdom by the Sea: A Journey Around the Coast of Great Britain by Paul Theroux. Theroux, an American who lives in London, decides to travel the coast, stopping wherever he likes and meeting the people. At this point (1982) Theroux had lived in London for eleven years but hardly ventured out of the city. So he begins in the city of Margate, a coastal town with a violent reputation, and travels by train, bus, hitchhiking and walking along the coast and traveling into Ireland to see "The Troubles". He carries a knapsack and stays at B&Bs, which are often just rooms in a regular home where he can talk to the family about the Falkland War that was going on at the time. He meets all different people, from friendly people grateful for conversation and suspicious people who eye him and one old crone who breaks into his hotel room to keep him company. Even though this book is almost thirty years old, it's about people and their behavior, so it really hasn't aged. 4 stars

Ago 24, 2011, 1:56am

I "read" the Theroux book on tape years ago. I remember liking it, and being shocked at his discussion of cars in Northern Ireland. What's the point of a car if you can't park it? I usually think travel books are boring, but like you said, this wasn't about travelling. It was about people.

Ago 28, 2011, 8:44pm

66. The Widows of Broome by Arthur Upfield. Detective Inspector Napoleon Bonaparte is sent to the small seaside town of Broome to take over the investigation of the murders of two local widows. Bony attempts to find out what the two, then three, victims have in common but keeps finding that they led dissimilar lives, apart from their widowhood. And the town may be small but it has more than a few creepy men.

This is the third Bony mystery I've read and I like this series a lot. It occurred to me as I read this one that Upfield wasn't all that cozy. The violence isn't graphic and the Australian Outback locales give the books a rather rugged, wholesome feeling, but there are transvestites and perverts and even a brief reference to a gay couple. There are drunks and female killers. If Bony wasn't so faithful to his wife, these might have been called hardboiled. Or maybe I've still got Chandler on my mind. 4 stars

Ago 28, 2011, 8:45pm

I managed to read 16 summer/sea/sun/vacation books for the season. Starting on the Autumn reads!

Ago 29, 2011, 10:09pm

The Widows sounds interesting.

Ago 30, 2011, 5:33am

Thank you for putting me onto the Bony books, mstrust. I also liked The Widows of Broome. So far my favourite is The Bone is Pointed.

Ago 30, 2011, 12:10pm

>98 cammykitty: cammy I hope you'll be able to try one out. Upfield was a very good writer.

>99 pamelad: pam You're welcome and I'm glad to have a part in your finding the series! I haven't read The Bone is Pointed yet. I've read Man of Two Tribes and The Bachelors of Broken Hill and I have The Mystery of Swordfish Reef on the shelf.
For some reason the editions I want to collect, tie-ins from the 70's t.v. series, are really expensive.

Sep 1, 2011, 12:34pm

Staring on my Autumn/Halloween reads because I couldn't wait!

67. Autumn: A New England Journey by Candace and Ferenc Mate. If you love the sight of maple trees in Autumn, you'll want this large book of photography that covers all the New England states. The pictures are big and gorgeous, displaying rolling Vermont farms, New Hampshire waterfalls and forests of trees so brightly red and orange that they look like they're on fire. Included are poems by Dickenson, cummings and Frost and many excerpts from novels placed in New England, such as Sarah Orne Jewett's The Country of Pointed Firs. And the back of the book has a guide to identifying the trees of the region. Lovely, lovely. 5 stars

Sep 2, 2011, 12:43pm

68. Quiet As A Nun by Antonia Fraser. Jemima Shore spent many school years as a student at the Blessed Eleanor's Convent. There she became good friends with fellow student Rosabelle, the daughter of the wealthy family who owned the land the convent stood on. When the two girls graduated their paths diverged, with Jemima becoming a famous television investigator and Rosa becoming a nun. Years later, Jemima finds herself back at the convent to try and discover what drove her friend to lock herself in the convent tower and starve herself to death, and if the stories of the ghostly Black Nun of the convent are true.

This is part of a series of Jemima Shore books written by Fraser, but this is the only one I've read so far. It was turned into an episode of the old "Armchair Thriller" t.v. series in the U.K. and I'd really love to see this. The character of Jemima is interestingly flawed- she's in love with a self-absorbed married man and admits that a previous affair led to her success. Yet she's likeable and always looks for the reasonable explanation, even when she's creeped out. 4 stars

Sep 5, 2011, 12:20pm

69. Sleepy Hollow by Tim Burton, and Peter Lerangis. This is the novelization of Burton's movie Sleepy Hollow. It fleshes out some things a bit more, gives Ichabod inner dialogue, but follows the movie very closely. There are a few photos from the movie, which is my favorite from Burton. 4 stars

Sep 11, 2011, 3:05pm

70. The Best Things To Do in New York: 1001 Ideas by Caitlin Leffel. A departure from my Autumn reading, this thick book does have some more unusual ideas for spending time in NY. I had no idea that I could sign up online, provide the addresses of where I could be found at any given moment and in return be hunted and shot (with paint) in a citywide game of live assassin. And while I thought any book that would leave out a visit to The Strand must be crazy, it is good to know that there is a shop that sells nothing but cannolis. 4 stars

Sep 11, 2011, 3:13pm

OMG! They do that paint thing in Moxyland. Do you pay your assassin? I'd be worried that the police might get confused.

Sep 12, 2011, 12:45pm

I don't think so, it seems to be just members who volunteer to hunt and be hunted. And you have a good point; I'll bet plenty of co-workers have been terrified.

Sep 12, 2011, 4:14pm

I'd be scared! & I've heard getting hit with a paint pellet hurts a bit, so you better have good aim on the street! Hit a bystander and...

Sep 13, 2011, 9:24am

Someone could make that into an interesting mystery story where someone was going around shooting the "victims" with a real gun instead of paint. It might not sustain a full novel, but it'd make a pretty interesting episode of CSI New York or Castle.

Sep 13, 2011, 12:29pm

@ 108 -- I'd watch that episode!

Sep 13, 2011, 12:32pm

>107 cammykitty: ...the organizers claim there is no such "game" and that they have never heard of you.

>108 casvelyn: True, that would make a good t.v. plot. If you see it show up, make sure you collect a consultant fee.

Sep 13, 2011, 12:49pm

71. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. In 1959, in a small Kansas farming town, Perry Smith and Dick Hickcock broke into the home of the Clutter family in search of money. When they found little, they proceeded to spend the next hour terrorizing the family until finally shooting each and spending the next months traveling America and Mexico until being apprehended in Las Vegas.

I hadn't seen the film based on this book and only knew that Capote had pioneered the true crime genre with this. The research, much of it in the form of interviews with law enforcement, the murderers and the people who had known the Clutter family, bring the crime into focus. The fact that the Clutters and the two men who took their lives should have never met, that the victims played no part in what happened to them, is clear. Capote includes testimony from the attending doctors and includes much of the personal history of the murderers, while never attempting to draw sympathy from the reader. Much of the book is about the amount of hard work the police had to put into tracking the two drifters across the country. 4.5 stars

Sep 13, 2011, 6:19pm

72. Bone Soup by Cambria Evans. This is a ghoulish retelling of Stone Soup. Finnigan is a little creature known for his enormous appetite. When he arrives in town, none of the other monsters will share their food with him until he tricks them into adding eyeballs and bat wings to his bone soup.
A quick tale suitable for young children, but I bought it because the cover is adorable. 3 stars

Sep 13, 2011, 7:02pm

Bone soup looks like a great Halloween read for the younger set!

Sep 15, 2011, 1:06am

LOL!!! Someone had to write Bone Soup!

Sep 15, 2011, 12:41pm

>113 DeltaQueen50: & 114 The drawings really are the seller here, though the story is cute. The little creature looking so happily at the eyeball in his soup cracks me up.

Sep 16, 2011, 1:31pm

I'll have to see if I can find a copy in a bookstore just to see that drawing. It does sound really funny.

Sep 17, 2011, 12:28pm

Just click on the highlighted book title in message #112.

Sep 17, 2011, 12:40pm

73. The Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie. When the vicar comes home to find Colonel Protheroe is dead in the study, everyone is suspected. The Colonel had been disliked by most of the village, and even the vicar had commented that anyone who murdered the old loudmouth would be doing the world a favor. And is it luck or misfortune that the nosy old biddy Miss Marple happens to live next door?

This is the first appearance of Miss Marple and how funny to see that she's almost disliked for her alertness and gossiping. This book is a good example of how much fun Christie could be. Here is the vicar narrating:

A ribald rhyme concocted by Dennis shot through my head.
"Miss Cram doesn't give a damn."
I had a sudden yearning to say it out loud and observe the effect, but fortunately I refrained.

4 stars

Sep 17, 2011, 11:21pm

LOL! Yummy yummy eyeball! Better than a meatball! On top of old smoooookey....

Sep 18, 2011, 10:55am

I've heard that the trick to eating eyeballs is not to chew.

Sep 18, 2011, 12:39pm

> 119 cammy Ha! Now I'll have that stuck in my head!

>120 RidgewayGirl: RGirl Proof that there are experts in every subject.

Sep 19, 2011, 12:41pm

74. Robe of Skulls by Vivian French. Young Gracie Gillypot lives with her stepfather and stepsister, being worked, starved and locked in the cellar. Until the day when Marlon the bat helps her escape and leads her on a journey to the home of the Ancient Crones.
Prince Marcus misbehaves, which means that he can't join all the other royal children at the celebration, the one that the sorceress Lady Lamorna hopes to ruin with her dark magic. Gracie and Marcus join together to cut back the number of evil creatures in the vicinity.

The story here is adventurous and the drawings, especially the cover, are fun. I have to say that the plot is better than the actual writing, which could do with some tightening. And I couldn't figure out why the bat is the only character that speaks like an American in the 1940's. But then a speaking bat should be taken as is. 3 stars

Sep 19, 2011, 10:11pm

LOL!!! I've always wondered why faeries have an archaic Scottish accent too, when really, shouldn't they have a language all there own? So, yes, can't argue syntax with a speaking bat. & BTW, have you seen this book: The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle
by the dread pirate Patrick Rothfuss. It's a children's book masquerading as an adult book that is masquerading as a children's book. I think it is your sense of humor.

Sep 20, 2011, 11:43am

I hadn't heard of that one but it sounds good so it's going on the list. Thanks for the heads up!

Sep 20, 2011, 11:49pm

It's good, dark humor. Enjoy!

Sep 21, 2011, 11:49am

Here's number 75-

75. The Witch's Guide to Cooking with Children by Keith McGowan. In this re-telling of Hansel and Gretel, the children are science wiz Sol Blink and his younger sister Connie. When their family moves into the apartment building next door to Fay Holaderry, Sol notices that the old woman's dog is chewing on a bone that looks rather alarming. And when the children manage to steal Holaderry's journal, all their suspicions are confirmed.

This book is listed for young readers, but I think that refers to the fact that the story is written in a style that is somewhat fairy tale-ish. It's a clever modern version of two children having to outwit an evil witch who has embraced the internet and movie theaters. 4 stars

Sep 24, 2011, 6:38pm

126 The title is brilliant. LOL! & gruesome as it is, I'll bet it is appropriate for young readers. I've found they can handle more *horror* than a lot of adults can!

Sep 25, 2011, 12:24pm

Oh, sure. There isn't any graphic violence in the book. Just tension created by the witch's confessional journal entries. In fact, that was the original title for the book, "The Witch's Journal". I was just saying that there was plot and characterization to hold an adult's attention.

To give it even more of a fairy tale feel, there are some illustrations showing the children with big, sad droopy eyes.

Sep 25, 2011, 9:30pm

Still makes me laugh. Especially the sad cow-eyed kids.

Sep 26, 2011, 8:11pm

76. Come Along With Me by Shirley Jackson. This is a collection of short stories chosen by Jackson's husband after her death. Included are very early stories, some first published by small magazines.The title story is the unfinished novel Jackson was working on at the time of her death, and what a shame that it's only three chapters long, because it's wonderful. A recently widowed woman describes how she has sold off her home and its furnishing and fled to the big city. She has left even her name behind and sets out to create a new life as a medium, which makes sense as she has seen and conversed with the dead for most of her life.

In "The Summer People", an elderly couple refuse to listen when the locals tell them their vacation is over, and "The Beautiful Stranger" describes the eerie feeling of detachment a young woman gets when she thinks of her husband. All of the stories in the book aren't creepy, but the central theme is isolation. Missing from the collection is Jackson's most famous short story, "The Lottery", but I have that in another collection of her work, and this was great for seeing her progression as a writer. 4.5 stars

Sep 27, 2011, 9:37pm

Great review! I want to read more Jackson. I've got The Haunting of Hill House on the TBR, but the group read of Woman in White will probably push her out of her proper reading month, October.

Sep 28, 2011, 1:22pm

I recommend that you read it when you're in the house alone. It's so creepy.

Sep 28, 2011, 6:14pm

77. The Gallery of Regrettable Food by James Lileks. I think this is the third read for this book of ghastly recipes and snarky commentary. It's one of those that always makes me smile and I await another book from Lileks (he has two on food, one on interior design and another on bad parenting advice) and wonder when will it come?
Have to be happy with the knowledge that there's another Cake Wrecks book out for Christmas. 5 stars

Sep 29, 2011, 8:45pm

Oooo! Cake Wrecks book! I've only seen a couple of the Cake Wrecks blogs.

Sep 30, 2011, 12:53pm

>134 cammykitty: Unfortunately, the tour for this coming book won't be coming out west where I am. I think they're going along the East Coast and into Texas. If you get the chance to go to a Cake Wreck book signing, do it. It's hilarious.

78. Mommy Knows Worst by James Lileks. I'll tell you how this works: you read one of Lileks books and laugh and you're in a good mood. So you you say to yourself, think I'll re-read that other one too, 'cause it's hard to stop at one. That's my theory.
This book gathers all the terrible advice that has been printed by "experts" in the field of child care. Makes you wonder how a baby born in the 1930's survived. 5 stars

Now I'm back to the scary Halloween reads.

Oct 2, 2011, 2:12am

I'll keep my eyes open for a signing> Sounds like they'll be missing me too though. I'm nowhere near Texas.

Oct 2, 2011, 1:25pm

79. Count Karlstein by Philip Pullman. The Count is evil, of course, and in charge of his two young nieces. They live in a Swiss castle surrounded by forests and snowy mountains and inhabited by Zamiel the Demon Huntsman, which is the perfect situation for the Count to rid himself of the girls.

Written in almost a folklore style, this story has a bit of the supernatural, a little tension, and some humor. 3 stars

Oct 7, 2011, 6:00pm

80. All Hallow's Evil by Valerie Wolzien. Touchstones don't seem to be working.

Susan Henshaw is the local amateur sleuth of the small town of Hancock. While visiting the library on Halloween morning she literally stumbles across a dying man, which brings to her notice that the new police chief is an old friend who is happy to have Susan along for the investigation. A second murder the same day fills Susan's house with strangers and gives her more suspects to check out.

This is a easy, fluff read, something I would categorize along with all the culinary mysteries that have flooded the market, with one big difference: I liked this one. It has it's flaws. The main character is often a doormat and the phrase "I don't understand" is used too much. Many points of the story turn on the fact that nobody knocks on a door before entering. Yet I liked the characters and I liked that a married mother of teenagers, Susan, has a wandering eye when it comes to the police chief. 3.5 stars

Oct 7, 2011, 10:54pm

I used to give Valerie Wolzien books to my mom on holidays. I know we both read that one. Quite cozy! When I gave her one titled something like "Have A Merry Murder" my cousin freaked out.

Oct 8, 2011, 12:31pm

Yes, I think you're right about the Christmas title, and there's one about PTA murder listed too. I'd never heard of the author before but I'd read another of the series if I came across it.

Oct 14, 2011, 6:27pm

81. Halloween: An American Holiday, An American History by Lesley Pratt Bannatyne. This non-fiction covers the origins of the holiday, from the bits of Irish, English, Scottish, German and African cultures that mixed together to give us a day of witches, jack o' lanterns, trick or treating and pranks. The research is comprehensive but the writing can be downright dry in some areas and the arrangement, though linear and easy to follow, is strangely done. Amateurish, I guess, as essays are routinely cut off by a page of poetry and many of the photos do little to showcase the subject matter. Still, a decent choice for those interested in the facts. 3 stars

Oct 22, 2011, 11:57am

It's been a busy week. I'm working on The Woman in White, watching lots of scary movies, my spice cake with cinnamon/nutmeg frosting won a blue ribbon at the state fair and my husband's birthday was yesterday. And tomorrow is a big library sale!!!
Still, I'm so surprised at how long it has taken me to get through this 120 page novel.

82. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. A young woman is hired to be the governess of two siblings at a country estate. To her relief, she finds the children beautiful and charming, though there are hints that things aren't always that way, and that the children may have been taught some bad habits.


I struggled with this book. Reading English Victorian novels is hardly new to me, but Uuugh! James is a master of vagueness, of stacking up qualifiers one on top of each other until a single sentence may as well have been written in a foreign language. Add in some colloquialisms I've never come across before and I found myself going over paragraphs and even whole conversations trying to figure out what information was being conveyed and coming up none the wiser.
But I don't mean to imply that it's all bad. For me, his best writing here concerns the housekeeper, Mrs. Grose. Up until the last, it's unclear whether Mrs. Grose believes the young governess or is humoring her out of fear and the fact that the younger woman holds a higher position. In this relationship, vagueness works well. 3 stars

Oct 22, 2011, 1:26pm

Your spice cake sounds yummy! Congratulations on your blue ribbon win.

I have never been able to get through a Henry James book so I just made the decision that he and I are just not meant to be.

Oct 23, 2011, 10:50am

Thanks, Judy! I am leery of James now, which is inconvenient since I have a copy of The Wings of the Dove on the shelf after seeing a movie of it. How can a writer bury his story with too many words?

Oct 23, 2011, 1:26pm

I find it helps me to change my expectations. When I read any Victorian author, I expect the action to take a back seat to the detail, with several detours for sermons along the way. Those books are like the lazy river at the waterpark. Great if you are in the mood and are content to float slowly along in your inner tube. Deeply frustrating if you're longing for excitement and can just see the top of the log flume from where you're stuck in an eddy.

Oct 23, 2011, 9:01pm

What a haul! And what fun.

Oct 24, 2011, 12:59pm

Yes, I look forward to the three big book sales I attend every year. And then the challenge of re-arranging my bookshelves to make more room.

Oct 24, 2011, 11:14pm

Tender at the Bone is great if it's the one I'm thinking of. Foodie autobiography? First chapter all about food self defense. You'll love it.

Yes, the first chapter of The Woman in White is quite a slog-thru. It gets better though, although perhaps Walter should also be told to be more sparing in words in the end too. Sorry about Turn of the Screw. James is dense, but I personally think Turn is absolutely masterful!

Oct 26, 2011, 5:29pm

Yes, that's the one. Reichl was the editor of Gourmet magazine, which I still mourn. It was my favorite food magazine.
I can see why James' story has been filmed so many times. I recently watched The Innocents starring Deborah Kerr as the governess. A great sense of isolation.

Oct 27, 2011, 9:08pm

Yes! Gourmet was a great magazine, and I used to live off recipes from their website. You'll love her autobiography, and the one that comes after it is just as good.

Oct 28, 2011, 2:15pm

83. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. After his family is murdered, a baby toddles down to the neighborhood graveyard and is adopted by the ghostly inhabitants. His new family names him Nobody (Bod), feeds and educates him and they teach him the ways of the dead.

This was a re-read for me and it's an imaginative and very entertaining story. I looked forward to revisiting this one. 5 stars

84. Smooth Operators by Richard Jarman. This is a novelty book from England about the things a cool guy of the seventies had to have: permed hair, polyester slacks, gold medallions and chest hair. Jarman starts off with the cringe-worthy memories of watching his own father after his parents divorced. So many hideous pictures. 3.5 stars

Oct 28, 2011, 2:43pm

The Graveyard Book definitely found a place in my heart and it's probably my 2nd favourite of Neil Gaiman's books that I've read so far. Just behind Neverwhere.

Oct 29, 2011, 3:29pm

I haven't gotten to Neverwhere yet, and it was on my October list. I have Stardust and Anansi Boys waiting on the shelf. I liked Coraline a lot.

Nov 3, 2011, 12:35pm

Home from Halloween in Vegas. For any of you planning a trip, my latest finds are the M Resort and Casino, which has an amazing buffet with German, Indian and lots of seafood. Plus, little chocolate souffles!!! Another discovery was at my usual place, The Fireside Lounge. They make killer strawberry daquiris, but this time I went for the pineapple mojitos and they're my new favorite.

Anyway, on to #85. The Gourmet Cookie Book. I've wanted this for a long time and finally it's mine. Divided by decade and year, each recipe has a little history about how it came to Gourmet magazine and is printed in the format of its publication, meaning that there was a time when ingredients and directions were written all together in a paragraph. There is one recipe for every year between 1941 to 2009, when the magazine folded. The biggest surprise for me are the cottage cheese cookies, which read and look quite tasty. 5 stars

Nov 3, 2011, 1:47pm

Ooh, I'm a sucker for fancy, fruity drinks with alcohol in them. I hope you enjoyed them thoroughly.

Nov 3, 2011, 3:17pm

Pineapple mojitos - mmmnn, I could go for one of those right now. (*Checks to make sure the sun is over the yardarm).

Nov 4, 2011, 12:48pm

Oh, I could toss one back right now. Remember, fruit is health food.

86. The Professionals 7: Hiding To Nothing by Ken Blake. This time round, Bodie, Doyle and Cowley have to figure up what is with Meredith, an agent who reappears after being pronounced dead two years before. It's tough to tell if he's still loyal to the British crown or if the Russians have got him on the payroll.
In another case, Doyle's new girlfriend happens to have the wrong sort of friends. 5 stars

Nov 13, 2011, 1:11pm

87. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. Young drawing instructor Walter Hartright finds his new post teaching two wealthy sisters to be the pivotal experience of his life. Not only does he fall in love with the fragile heiress Laura, he also meets the girl who could be her poor, worn twin. When Laura's fiancee, Sir Percival, demands that their wedding take place, a match that will make the older baronet the heir if Laura dies first, the girl and her clever sister have to play a game with Sir Percival and his friends to stay alive and find someone to believe their danger.

So that's just the basics. This story has so many locales, characters and narrators to the story that this short summary barely scratches the surface. It's a remarkable story. With all these twists, the reader is still hanging on waiting for the next big surprise, and there are plenty. The characters, particularly the fat evil Count Fosco, are unforgettable and I'm sure if I meet a man of his physical description I'll be thinking "Count Fosco" in my head. Though I sometimes got diverted by other books and this one runs over 500 pages, which might explain why it took me longer than I'd like to admit to finish it, it was never dull. In fact, it has the ups and downs of a rollercoaster. 5 stars

Nov 13, 2011, 2:38pm

Good review, Jenn. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed The Woman In White, the story held my interest and the characters were unforgettable. I also think reading it as part of a Group Read really helped me understand a great deal more that I would have if I had read it on my own.

Nov 14, 2011, 1:46pm

Thanks, Judy, and I gave a thumbs up to your review. It's difficult to review because you want to gush about all the evil intrigue but to do that you'd have spoilers left and right.

Nov 21, 2011, 1:11pm

88. Peril at End House by Agatha Christie. Poirot and Hastings meet party girl Nick Buckley and listen to her flippant tale of how someone is trying to kill her. The two men take the situation more seriously than the intended victim until the night of her dinner party, when her visiting cousin is murdered in what is clearly a case of mistaken identity. Poirot's little gray cells are challenge by his list of suspects that include her closest friends.

This is a good one- nearly impossible to figure the entire thing out (I only figured out the matter of the will) until Poirot explains it. 3.5 stars

Nov 25, 2011, 7:28pm

89. Walking Seattle by Clark Humphrey. This is an ER that I won on LT. Seattle is a city I've wanted to visit for a couple of years as I like cool, drizzly weather, coffee and seafood. This book has 35 self-guided walking tours created by area or interests. There are few pictures included, and I was surprised that Top Pot Donuts isn't mentioned at all and Elliot Bay Books is only mentioned in a single sentence. But if I do make it to the city, I'll be taking this with me as the point-by-point details are mapped out. 3.5

Nov 26, 2011, 1:47pm

90. The Opal Deception: Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer. Evil pixie Opal Koboi has spent a year in a self-inflicted coma, her body under constant guard in case she should ever wake up and be able to face punishment for attempting to take over the underground world.
Fourteen year-old Artemis has taken steps to become the youngest person to ever steal a certain painting, and that's how he defines himself ever since the underground leaders had his mind wiped after he helped save them from destruction. Now Captain Holly Short, who along with Artemis, stopped Opal last year, finds that she's the target for revenge when everyone thinks she's a murderer.
This is the fourth book in the series and Artemis is still globe-hopping: Munich, Ireland, Italy. 3.5 stars

Dic 4, 2011, 12:29pm

91. What I Hate from A to Z by Roz Chast. This is an ER book. Chast's cartoons are recognizable to anyone who enjoys The New Yorker. This slim book, which has the appearance of a children's bedtime book, has something the author hates for each letter of the alphabet. Some are strange, such as the discontinued dessert Jello1-2-3, and carnivals, while others are fears that many would agree with, like premature burial.
A weird book and a quick read, this one is a giggle, especially as the drawings have a frantic quality. 4 stars

Dic 5, 2011, 10:05pm

92. Four Plays by P.G. Wodehouse. These plays, all light comedies, were written and performed in the mid-twenties to 1930, except for the last, "Come On, Jeeves", which gives no date of writing or performance. Interesting to see that Joan Hickson, who would be the most intimidating Miss Marple fifty years later, played a disapproving club employee in "Leave It To Psmith" in 1930. She must have had that sort of face even as a young girl!

I love Wodehouse, especially Jeeves and Wooster, but these plays do suffer somewhat from a silliness that modern audiences just wouldn't appreciate. There are bits of the Wodehouse snarkiness to be found, but romance, confusion and mistaken identities are the main focus. 3 stars

Dic 7, 2011, 5:39pm

93. The Worst Noel: Hellish Holiday Tales. This is a collection of essays about the worst Christmas experiences by the authors, most involving the uncomfortable mixing of families. Contributors include Anne Patchett, Louis Bayard, Valerie Frankel and Marian Keyes. Interesting to note that over half of the essays are written by Jewish authors who celebrated Christmas as children. I don't know if that's a rarity or not, but the majority of essays here are pretty funny in that too-many-people-crammed-into-a-too-tiny-house sort of way. 3.5 stars

Dic 9, 2011, 5:24pm

94. A Christmas Story by Jean Shepard. This is actually a collection of essays Shepard wrote about his Depression-era childhood in Indiana that were first published in Playboy of all places. The basics of the various stories were used for the movies- dad winning a leg-shaped lamp, a hillbilly family next door with a pack of dogs, taking on the school bully and winning- but these are episodes that happened through the years and in different seasons, and the stories have less idealized bits, such as references to the area's high unemployment. It's good storytelling and the Christmas stories are still funny. 4 stars

Dic 12, 2011, 1:40pm

95. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf by Edward Albee. Middle-aged couple George and Martha invite young Nick and Honey to their home for an after-party at two a.m. The younger couple have just moved and Nick has taken a post at the small New England college that Martha's father has run for decades. George is also a teacher there, in a position he has maintained for years rather than moving up as both he and his wife expected. The years of disappointment have created a woman who screeches rage at her husband and a man who dissects others to find their sore spots and make himself feel stronger.

Fifty years on and this is still a script that jolts with its brutal outbursts, confessions, brief flashes of gentleness and non-stop drinking. How do they remain standing, let along speaking coherently?
I heard Albee on NPR about a year ago and they were taking calls. I don't know how old he is now but he had lost none of his forcefulness and corrected each person who mispronounced his name, telling them, "It's All-bee!" 5 stars

Dic 17, 2011, 12:11pm

96. Queenpin by Megan Abbott. Working the accounts part-time for a strip club while attending school, a young woman is picked out for a job offer by the local collector, the queenpin, a polished and dangerous older woman who's been working the racket a few decades and needs a protege. The younger woman is eager to learn how to be as clever, successful and wealthy as her mentor, even though she realizes that once in, there's little chance of getting out.

This isn't just a crime story with female characters substituting for the traditional males. The characters do everything in a feminine way, from leaning on casino owners to murder to sniping over a boyfriend. The writing can be a little rough here and there, but my only complaint is with the heavy reliance on slang, as there's hardly a sentence without it. Bit like actors chewing the scenery, but an enjoyable tale, especially for noir fans. I'll be picking up Abbott's others. 4 stars

Dic 26, 2011, 1:57pm

I keep forgetting about Queenpin and I am not sure why sounds perfect, nice review too!

Dic 27, 2011, 1:09pm

I've been out of town for almost a week for the holidays, but here are the last two for this year. I hope everyone had a great time, thanks for dropping in and I'll see you in 2012!

97. The Professionals:8 Dead Reckoning by Ken Blake. This one contains one of the best episodes of the show, "Mixed Doubles". Bodie and Doyle are put through rigorous training to prepare for the arrival of a controversial president from the Middle East who promotes peace. As they spend each moment preparing for the worst, the assassins are training in almost the same way. I wish I had been able to finish the series this year, but that just leaves more for next year.5 stars

98. Savage Night by Jim Thompson. Carl Bigelow arrives in the small college town of Peardale and finds there's a problem with the room he has rented in the Winroy house. First, the Winroy's have a bad reputation, secondly, Mrs. Winroy's too good-looking and friendly, and third, Mr. Winroy is a paranoid drunk who sicks the sheriff on Carl right away because he thinks his young, five foot tall lodger is a hitman come to kill him. Add in another lodger who sees promise in Carl as a baker and scholar, and the deformed kitchen help who falls in love and you have a seething mess of longing and disappointment.

As with most of Thompson's books, the ending to this is surprising, violent and bizarre. 4 stars