Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Virgil Wander

Virgil WanderVirgil Wander by Leif Enger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This wasn't a perfect book, but I kind of loved it. It was full of very human characters just putting one foot in front of the other as best they can. It wasn't sad though, just very true. Something about it reminded me of Gilead.
Here are a few of the many quotes that jumped out at me.
"I aspire to the Midwest."
"Don't be fooled by our modest dress, we're surprisingly devious." (p. 179)
"A person never knows what is next--I don't anyway. The surface of everything is thinner than we know. A person can fall right through, without any warning at all." (p. 205)
"A perilous beautiful move, choosing to throw yourself at the future, even if it means one day coming down in the sea." (p. 258)

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Eminent Victorians

Eminent VictoriansEminent Victorians 
by Lytton Strachey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

First published in 1918, Strachey's portraits of four legendary figures of the Victorian era revitalized the art of biography. The impression I got of each of these "eminent" people is of a very human and very flawed individual whose actions (and errors) affected the historical events they were part of. 
The profiled victorians are Cardinal Manning, a Catholic Cardinal and Archbishop of Westminster; Thomas Arnold, an educator and the father of poet Matthew Arnold; and Charles George Gordon, a career British soldier whose debacle at Kartoum at the end of his life  is the focus of the profile.  The fourth subject was Florence Nightingale whose profile I found the most interesting of the group.  Her image as a kind "lady with the lamp" nursing Crimean soldiers was not nearly as intriguing as the management and organization that she undertook to get those soldiers beds and food which the army had neglected to plan for. 
Strachey was part of the Bloomsbury group and, instead of the ponderous celebratory tomes that had been typical of biography, he wrote lives with “a brevity which excludes everything that is redundant and nothing that is significant.” 
This book is one of my Classics Club titles and also counts toward the 2019 Mount TBR challenge

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Hangman's Root

Hangman's Root (China Bayles, #3)Hangman's Root 
by Susan Wittig Albert
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This it the 3rd installment in the China Bayles series. China is a former criminal defense attorney who has given up her practice for a slower-paced life as the owner of an herb shop. This story involves the local college where faculty intrigue may have led to murder. 
The mystery was well constructed but there wasn't much connection to the herb shop or herb lore mixed in. Though we did learn a bit about catnip.  I am counting this as one of the "cozies of my choice" for the Cruisin' Through the Cozies Challenge.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Lisa's Review: An Unwanted Guest

An Unwanted Guest by Shari Lapena

My Rating: 2 of 5 stars

As guests arrive at the charming Mitchell Inn for a weekend away, they are unaware that they will be stranded without power, heat, or any contact with the outside world as a result of the snow & ice storm. They are able to make the best of it until they discover that there is likely a murderer among them.   

I wasn't a huge fan of this book. What I did like is that it was a fast and easy read (once I got to the point of being able to keep all of the names straight). However, I really didn't enjoy the read. That may just be me, as there are plenty of glowing reviews. The few reviews I read that were in my range stated exactly what I had thought - I did not appreciate the style of writing and I didn't find any of the characters likable.

I found it interesting that a number of reviews (the good and the bad) compared it to Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None. I sheepishly have to admit I've never read an Agatha Christie novel, so I'm adding this to my list to the first one to read.

This is my 9th book for the 12th Annual Canadian Reading Challenge.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Lisa's Review: Against All Odds

Against All Odds: The Untold Story of Canada's Unlikely Hockey Heroes by P.J. Naworynski

My Rating: 5 of 5 stars

Against All Odds chronicles the story of the 1948 Canadian Olympic hockey team. The 1948 Olympic Games (the V Winter Olympics) were held in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and dubbed "The Games of Renewal" as they were the first games held after World War II.

New rule changes to the definition of amateur athlete for the 1948 games meant that Canada was not going to have a hockey team to send to the Olympics. Determined not to let that happen, Sandy Watson, manager of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) amateur team, gained approval to form a team of players from RCAF Flyers. He and coach Frank Boucher formed a team of men who had served in WWII.

I can't believe in my years as a Canadian hockey fan that I knew nothing about this piece of history. The story in itself is fascinating, and the author did a fantastic job telling it. From the quest of scouting out players for the team, telling the background of the players and what their war experiences were, and their long road to the Olympics, I was glued to the book start to finish.

This is my 8th book read for the 12th Annual Canadian Reading Challenge.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Classics Club Spin #20

It is time for another Classics Club Spin. I have done several of these, but not for quite a while, and I'm excited to play along this time.
The rules are simple: you list 20 titles from your Classics Club List and when the spin number is drawn (on Monday, 4/22) you have to read that book from your list by the deadline (May 31, 2019 in this case).
Here is my list:

  1. The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler
  2. The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare, G.K. Chesterton
  3. The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins
  4. Auntie Mame, Patrick Dennis
  5. Double Indemnity, James M. Cain
  6. Shadows on the Rock, Willa Cather
  7. Seven Gothic Tales, Isak Dinesen
  8. Joseph Andrews, Henry Fielding
  9. Casino Royale, Ian Fleming
  10. New Grub Street, George Gissing
  11. Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales, the Brothers Grimm
  12. Crome Yellow, Aldous Huxley
  13. The Turn of the Screw, Henry James
  14. The Story of Doctor Dolittle, Hugh Lofting
  15. The Deep Blue Goodbye, John D. MacDonald
  16. Tales of the City, Armistead Maupin
  17. Doctor Zhivago, Boris Pasternak
  18. Some Tame Gazelle, Barbara Pym
  19. The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde
  20. The Waves, Virginia Woolf

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Another Collection of Cozies

These are titles that I finished recently which count toward the Cruisin' Through the Cozies Challenge.


Gunpowder Green (A Tea Shop Mystery, #2)Gunpowder Green by Laura Childs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is set in a tea-shop so I am counting it toward the "anything culinary" category. I would have liked a bit more info about the various teas. There was a lot of name dropping, but not a lot of explanation. An entertaining enough mystery though.

The Painted Queen (Amelia Peabody, #20)The Painted Queen
by Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the last of the Amelia Peabody books, and it was finished by Joan Hess after the death of Elizabeth Peters. It was well done and stayed true to the series, but I felt like Amelia was a gentler version of herself which was less appealing and the supporting characters were less involved than they are in some of the books. The manuscript H excerpts were very good. Like the other EP novel I read for this challenge this could be either for the mystery set outside the US--Egypt in this case--or the historical category. 

Search the Dark (Inspector Ian Rutledge, #3)Search the Dark by Charles Todd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A body found in Dorset brings Instpector Ian Rutledge from London to investigate. It is very much a small town story with everyone knowing everyone and immediately suspecting outsiders. Rutledge, and several other characters, struggle with the scars left on them by World War. This is one of the "cozies of my choice."

Fudge Cupcake Murder (Hannah Swensen, #5)Fudge Cupcake Murder by Joanne Fluke
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have read several of the books in this series before and this one was exactly what I expected. Lots of sweets, tons of coffee, and obsessive attention to Moishe, the cat. I am counting this as an "animal related" cozy.

Saturday, April 6, 2019


My #readathon pile
The Dewey 24-hour Readathon is today (beginning at 8am Eastern) and I am looking forward to a day full of reading.
I will be using this post throughout the day for updates (new stuff at the bottom).

I will also be posting on Instagram today. Generally my Instagram is private, but I opened it up for today.

Hour 1 - Getting to know you Survey

1)What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Manchester, NH

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? I'm not sure, they are all appealing (that's why they are in the stack)
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? Peppermint Joe Joes
4) Tell us a little something about yourself! I am reading today snuggled under a quilt I made from clothes that belonged to my Mom. She died almost 2 years ago and would have loved the idea of reading all day.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? I have participated in a few readathons and the thing I always need to remember is not to read the whole time. Breaks are important. Sometimes sleeping is necessary.

6-Hour Checkin

I have finished 2 books so far (both ones I had started before), visited a few other readathoner's blogs, and completed the Literary Clue mini-challenge. I haven't had any JoJos yet, but that may be coming up soon. I also made some guesses on the Vague Recollections mini-challenge.

The Half-way Mark

Mid-Event Survey:
1. What are you reading right now? 
Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
2. How many books have you read so far?
Finished 3 (all started previously); started and abandoned one, started another and then set it aside (will go back to it), started another one and am reading it now. So I have read from 6 books so far today.
3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? Not sure. I have a mystery novel in progress and will probably pick that up. 
4. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? Not too many interruptions. Took time out to visit with some friends who called, which was lovely. 

5. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? No surprises to report. 
Books read from (+ an audiobook)


I fell asleep around midnight and woke up for a bit more reading during hour 24. I got a lot of reading done: I finished 3 books and made progress on 2 more that I had started before, started one and decided it wasn't for me, started and finished one, and started one that I will continue reading. Overall it was an excellent was to spend a Saturday.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

The Enchanted April

The Enchanted AprilThe Enchanted April
by Elizabeth von Arnim
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a lovely novel, written in 1921, about four English women figuring out how to be happy. Most of the story is internal to the four main characters with a few sections from other points of view. Each woman has issues that are preventing her from being happy, most of them because of how they are choosing to respond to the world around them. A month in a beautiful villa in San Salvatore, Italy gives them each an opportunity to consider their lives and what changes they might make to improve them.
"...go home just as usual and see about the dinner and the fish just as we've been doing for years and years and will go on doing for years and years. ...I see no end to it. There is no end to it. So that there ought to be a break, there ought to be intervals--in everybody's interests. Why, it would really be being unselfish to go away and be happy for a little, because we would come back so much nicer.You see, after a bit everybody needs a holiday." (p. 12-13)
This is one of my Classics Club titles and counts toward the Back to the Classics Challenge as a "classic by a woman author."
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