Wednesday, May 17, 2023


Once again 746 Books is hosting the 20 Books of Summer Challenge. The rules are very easy: make a list of 20 books (or some other number) and try to read them between June 1 and September 1. 

From my TBR Pile Challenge List

  1. Loonshots by Safi Bahcall
  2. Martin Chuzzlewit by Charles Dickens
  3. Beer School by Steve Hindy and Tom Potter

    From the series I am focusing on this year:

  4. Psycho by the Sea by Lynn Truss
  5. Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear
  6. An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear
  7. Innocent Graves by Peter Robinson
  8. Suffer the Little Children by Donna Leon

    Titles for the Canadian Book Challenge:

  9. The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Buchanan
  10. Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood
  11. The Shipping News by Annie Proulx
  12. All Together Now by Alan Doyle
  13. A Newfoundlander in Canada by Alan Doyle

    From my Classics Club list:

  14. Dune by Frank Herbert
  15. The Member of the Wedding by Carson McCullers

    Miscellaneous books from my shelves:

  16. Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham
  17. House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  18. Snow by John Banville
  19. The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories by Penelope Lively
  20. 10 lb. Penalty by Dick Francis
Switching out the titles on the list as you go along is allowed so I may end up reading 20 entirely different books. 

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Things Getting in the Way of Reading

The Top Ten Tuesday topic this week is "Things Getting in the Way of Reading" Most of the things on my list are actually good things that I like, but they do keep me away from my book. I only have 6 of them though. I don't let much prevent me from reading. 

  1. Going to work 
  2. Lots of spring garden chores
  3. A quilting project with a deadline for completion
  4. The need to sleep
  5. Spending time with friends
  6. Housework (I try not to let this get out of hand)

Monday, May 15, 2023

A World of Curiosities

A World of Curiosities (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #18)A World of Curiosities 
by Louise Penny
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the 18th book in this series and I think it may be my least favorite. It had a very thriller-y tone and pace to it, which Penny's books don't usually. I am not a fan of that--I like my mysteries to be slower and more cerebral. This book did include the origin story for Gamache and Jean Guy Beauvoir which was interesting. The story centers on a painting (one of the stories anyway) which is a real painting: the Paston treasure.
Because the book is set in Canada, and Penny is a Canadian, this title counts toward the Canadian Reading Challenge

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Islam: A Short History

Islam: A Short History (Modern Library Chronicles)Islam: A Short History
by Karen Armstrong
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Religion, like any other human activity, is often abused, but at its best it helps human beings to cultivate a sense of the sacred inviolability of each individual, and thus to mitigate the murderous violence to which our species is tragically prone. Religion has committed atrocities in the past, but in its brief history secularism has proved that it can be just as violent. As we have seen, secular agression and persecution have often led to a heightening of religious intolerence and hatred." (p. 180)
The history of Islam, which is very tightly linked with the political history of numerous tribes and countries, is very complicated. Armstrong does an excellent job of sorting everything out into a clear narrative. The book also includes an extensive bibliography, a list of key people in Islamic history, and both definitions and pronunciation guides for Arabic words. 

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Mystery Series Progress Report

Back in November I put together a list of some of the series I have in progress and set it as a goal for 2023 to make progress on completing them. Specifically I wanted to read 20 books from these particular series. As it is now 1/3 of the way through the year it seems like a good time to check on my progress. 

  1. Inspector Alan Grant series by Josephine Tey -- Completed!
    There are 6 books in this series and I have now read all of them. I read Singing Sands in January and realized when I started it that I had already read The Franchise Affair (it was in Three By Tey which I read in 2009). [1/1 read]

  2. The Josephine Tey series by Nicola Upson
    Upson based her fictional sleuth on the real life of author Josephine Tey and Alan Grant is a character in this series. I have now read 9 of the 10 books in this series, but a new one is expected shortly. [1/2 read]

  3. Constable Twitten series by Lynne Truss 
    There are only 4 books in this series so far and in November I had read the first one.  In January I read The Man that Got Away. [1/3 read]

  4. Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters -- Completed!
    In November 2022 I had 3 books left to read in this series. I finished #7 The Snake, the Crocodile and the Dog in December; I finished #10 The Ape Who Guards the Balance in February; I finished #13 in April. [3/3 read]

  5. Vintage Kitchen Mystery series by Victoria Hamilton
    There are 10 books in this series and I had read the first 3 when I made the list. Since then I finished two more: No Mallets Intended and White Collander Crime. [2/7 read]

  6. Commissario Brunetti series by Donna Leon
    Including the one that is expected to come out in 2023 there are 32 books in this series. I have read #1-23 and #27. I have 8 books to read to get caught up with this ongoing series. [0/8 read]

  7. Her Royal Spyness series by Rhys Bowen
    There are currently 16 books in this series and I have read the first 4. [0/12 read]

  8. Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear
    There are 17 books in this series and I had only read the first 2. I read the 3rd one in March [1/15 read]

  9. Agatha Raisin series by M C Beaton
    There are currently 33 books in this series and I am only up to #18. [o/15 read]

  10. Inspector Banks series by Peter Robinson
    There are currently 28 books in this series, with another one expected in 2023.  I have read the first 5. I read #6 in February and #7 in April [2/22 read]
I have read 11 books from these series since I made the list in November. 

Sunday, April 30, 2023

April Book Report

The Book Farm, Henniker, NH
April 2023
I finished 7 books last month.

A quote from this month's reading:

“Clarity about what matters provides clarity about what does not.”
― Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Here is my progress toward various goals and challenges:

 Here are the books I finished in April 2023:
  1. Remembering Orwell by Stephan Wadhams (4-stars)
  2. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (5-stars)
  3. Belize by Leslie Jermyn (4-stars)
  4. Lord of the Silent by Elizabeth Peters (5-stars)
  5. Deep Work by Cal Newport (4-stars)
  6. Greek to Me: Adventures of the Comma Queen by Mary Norris (audio, 4-stars)
  7. Final Account by Peter Robinson (3-stars)
I visited a new used bookstore this month -- The Book Farm, which was delightful. I added 2 titles to my shelves and will visit again. There are now 2 great bookstores (Old #6 Book Depot being the other one), a fabulous quilt shop and a very good brewery in Henniker making it a great choice for a day trip. 

Saturday, April 15, 2023

APRIL in books

 I discovered the "Spell the Month in Books" meme, which is hosted at Reviews from the Stacks, on Brona's This Reading Life. 

It is as simple as it sounds--spell the current month with book titles. I chose all of my titles from my physical TBR shelves.

  • Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
  • Patience & Fortitude by Nicholas A. Basbanes
  • Roots by Alex Haley
  • Islam by Karen Armstrong
  • Loonshots by Safi Bahcall

Monday, April 10, 2023

Remembering Orwell

Remembering OrwellRemembering Orwell 

Last summer I read 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret which was unlike any biography I had read. This book reminds me of it. This was "conceived and compiled" by Stephen Wadhams of the Canadian Broadcasting Company as a companion to his "Radio Biography of George Orwell" which premiered on 1 January 1984. This book tells the life story of Eric Blair (aka George Orwell) through the reminiscences of a wide range of people who knew him.  I have been a fan of Orwell's books since I was a teenager. After reading Animal Farm and 1984 in school I went on a binge and read all his other books as well. This was a fascinating way to look at the life of both the famous writer and the man. The interviewees ranged from people he played with as a kid; to editors and writers he worked with; to fellow fighters in the Spanish Civil War; to his son. 

I am counting this book toward the Canadian Reading Challenge (because the author is Canadian) and it is one of the alternate titles on my TBR Pile Challenge list.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

March Book Report

March 2023
 I finished 12 books last month.

A quote from this month's reading:

"Keeping changes small and expectations low is how you design around fair-weather friends like motivation and willpower." 
      --B J Fogg, Tiny Habits: The Small Changes that Change Everything

Here is my progress toward various goals and challenges:

 Here are the books I finished in March 2023: 
  1. Cheddar Late Than Dead by Linda Reilly (3-stars)
  2. The Secrets of Winter by Nicola Upson (4-stars)
  3. Home Therapy by Anita Yokota (4-stars)
  4. Project Management for Dummies, 2017 ed. (4-stars)
  5.  Out-think by Shawn Hunter (audiobook, 3-stars)
  6. Tiny Habits by B J Fogg (4-stars)
  7. Living Forward by Michael Hyatt (audiobook, 4-stars)
  8. Secrets of the Rock-star Programmers by Ed Burns (4-stars)
  9. The Unquiet Englishman by Richard Greene (5-stars)
  10. Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear (4-stars)
  11. How Big Things Get Done by Brent Flyvbjerg (5-stars)
  12. A Killing of Innocents by Deborah Crombie (5-stars)
I didn't make much progress on any of my reading challenges, but I did read quite a few excellent books this month.
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