The Painted Veil

Thoughts tpvbywsm The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham, Vintage 2011 (orig 1925), 280 pages

Genre: Classic, Fiction
Occasion: Spontaneous Buddy Read with Andi of Estella’s Revenge


Source: eBook purchased from Amazon for my Kindle
 Challenge: What’s in a Name 2016 – Article of Clothing category

MOTIVATION for READING: wian2016 and the Classics Club

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Kitty is an upper class twit who must get married because her little sister is engaged. So she chooses Walter who happens to be the only guy still interested in her; (though we never quite figure that out. Or at least, I didn’t and I don’t think Walter did either.) Walter is a bacteriologist and is assigned to Hong Kong, so Kitty and Walter get quicky-married, honeymoon in Italy then off to the other side of the world from England. Kitty doesn’t love Walter, obviously, and has little to no moral compass so she is easily seduced by the hot powerful and charming Charley. But Walter finds out and offers a few options which result in a most interesting scenario:  Walter volunteers to be the doctor for a village with a cholera outbreak and Kitty has NO choice but to go along.  Is it a spoiler to say that Charley is the only one who escapes with no consequence? I do end up liking Kitty and I always ‘got’ Walter’s sense of humor. Is this a tragedy? It ain’t no comedy.

But SO GOOD! I also called it a philosophical travelogue…

WHAT’s GOOD: Most everything is good about this. The writing is great, the characters are fascinating, it has wit and lots of emotional pokes, beautiful scenery, and a story arc that is paced well and offers surprises. Maugham has keen insight into human behavior – good and bad.

I love books that set off more exploring on my part. Other story references (“The dog it was that died.” – YOWZA!) and lots of French (ugh). My vocabulary was increased by this:

Tiffin – a light meal, especially lunch.

What’s NOT so good: This is a solid 4 and 1/2 slice of pie kind of book. I have been waffling about giving this a 5 slice but will not due to my wanting to be extra stingy on that this year. I want glowing heaps-of-heart-bursts for my 5 stars and while this is a contender for such, I am not bouncing around the room with passionate hugs and kisses for it and the only thing I can say why that is, might be because it was short. Which could be a whole ‘nother topic on why the chunksters end up getting the passion and I think it is because we get to spend so much more time immersed in chunksters. Whatever.

FINAL THOUGHTS: If you enjoy books that offer romance and anti-romance, this is an excellent choice. If you like climate and cultural variety in your readings and settings in a time a bygone era away, this is an excellent choice.

DO read this enjoyable insightful and not-boring! academic review I found.

I had been feeling poorly this week with a sort throat and achy-ness and yet for some silly reason, I couldn’t commit to watching the movie while huddled and cuddled on the couch under blankets with nap-master puppies at my feet. I watched The Reader with Kate Winslet instead…

RATING: fourpie


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The Red Shoes

Thoughts trsbydh The Red Shoes by Dorte Hummelshoj, 2012, publisher date, 33 pages

Challenge:  Read My Own Damn Books and What’s in a Name: CLOTHING
Genre: Mystery
Type/Source: eBook, Amazon
 Why I read this now: ReadMyOwnDamnBooksbutton Well so, I realized that I had forgotten about my Kindle and how many books lay hidden inside this device. I’m good – I have less than ten! Now I have only eight…

MOTIVATION for READING: Length. It was short!

WHAT’s it ABOUT: This is a story collection and let me share the warning:


I couldn’t resist.

WHAT’s GOOD: These are fun. and short. The character names were great. (Like Rhapsody Gershwin.)

What’s NOT so good: I’m not sure how suspenseful I would rate these but they definitely have dark humor.

FINAL THOUGHTS: My favorite was the Green Acres story that was set in a nursing home (and had an adorable dog as foil.)

RATING: Three slices of pie.

Vocabulary:  Grotty – unpleasant and of poor quality. (not in any way meant to describe these stories; only a word IN the stories that I did not know.)



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Books, Plans, Pie, Movies! and other sundry goals


I wish I could say that I am kicking butt on my goals so far this year. WAIT! Why not? Yes, I think I will just go ahead and say it and maybe it will come true.

Actually, I can’t say I’m doing poorly on the goals thing, especially considering I haven’t posted/written any goals for public viewing or even in-my-own-mind sorted out exactly.

I keep thinking I want to read a ton more books published in 2016 and that probably means I need to do more research, because:

  1. I don’t have the best method for finding out which of these books I need to know about and want to read. Does that even make sense? How do you all get your MUST-READ-CUZ-PUB’D-SOON lists?  I can honestly say that if you tweet about it and I see it, I might thus be aware. Otherwise, I have never sought this information and thus don’t know where it should come from. [I am not even sure how you all people know about the Hamilton soundtrack and how it is best acquired. I’m can be so OUT OF IT. I know you can probably buy a CD of it? Do people do that anymore? Is it on Pandora? I really need a nice teenager in my life to explain pop culture and how it works these days. It’s funny how as you age, you really don’t know how far away from NOW stuff you can get…]
  2. I need to know other bloggers who do fabulous job of reading the “recently published”.

Go ahead, give me that look and ask: “Care, why are you wanting to read the newest  books? What has gotten into you?!” OK, here it is. I was so sad that I hadn’t read ANY of the books on the LONG LIST of the Tourney of Books that I want to be ready for the one that happens in 2017. That means I have to read all the cool 2016 books. Right? RIGHT.

Now, let’s talk movies.

I must see The Painted Veil starring Edward Norton, Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber. Now. Today. It’s a MUST. Finished the book yesterday. O.M.G. Very good.

It’s awards season and I haven’t seen many of the hot flicks. And then Shannon publishes a read/watch list for 2016 and I haven’t even read the books!

Rant: I swear, when people ask me what I do all day, since I don’t have a J-O-B “Aren’t you bored?” and I have all these books to read and movies to watch and dogs to walk and fitness goals to fit in and pies to bake and volunteer things to do, I know I must give them the dirtiest of looks. Bored?! HELL NO, I’m not bored! It doesn’t cost money to be entertained if you have a library. BORED?!  Seriously. If you have to ask that of me, you don’t know me at all and I don’t know you. Plus, I do have a job; I substitute teach. Not every day, of course because of all stuff I have somehow signed up to help with.  I’m running three websites, two of which need major attention, a Tech group to plan fun things for, and a seed of an idea to be a one-on-one tech trainer as a business, and holy guacomole… And I do send resumes out for that possibly J-O-B, I do. Lightening hasn’t hit yet there. No company has been deemed worthy of my talents yet. Whole ‘nother topic. End-rant.

I’m trying to keep up, really I am.

Movies I want to see because I read the book:  The Book Thief, Sister Carrie, Slaughterhouse Five, Apocalypse Now (Heart of Darkness), Dark Places, The Martian, Me Before You (March 2016)

Books to read soon! Americanah, Child44, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, HHhH, The Zookeeper’s Wife, The Wife (by Meg Wolitzer – I don’t think I have read any buzz of this — I have yet to read this author. Yikes)

And Colin Firth plays in Genius. Just last week, when I was researching Cry, the Beloved Country – which is on my Classics 50 list and I wrongly assumed as a bad stupid American that Alan Paton was black because he was from Africa – yep. Anyway, the movie Genius is about the Max Perkins, the editor of Cry, the Beloved Country and Hemingway and Fitzgerald and … So I had read the Wiki page on him only to find out they are doing a movie about him starring Firth. And then Shannon suggests we read the book upon which the film is based. Interesting? coinky-dink? See, I do know stuff sometimes, I do.

RIP David Bowie. I’ve read nine of the books on his list of 100 Favorite Books. Cool.

I will be tracking books I read that mention pie. Officially tracking, that is. Just adding another column to the tracking list. Oh, you noticed my new title for the blog, I assume?  Working on it!

January 23 is a Pie Day. Put it on your calendar and start thinking of what kind of pie you might want to bake or seek out to purchase from a reputable pie pastry bakery or restaurant.

I will continue to read classics and work on the What’s in a Name Challenge and the Back to the Classics Challenge. I am looking forward to more readalongs and open to suggestion. Andi and I spontaneously erupted into a buddy-read of The Painted Veil last weekend – what fun! There is chat for a Germinal read in the fall.

Happy 2016 – may it be a wonderful year of exciting reads.

That is all. Thank you.



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Radio Shangri-La

Thoughts rslbyln1 by Lisa Napoli, Crown Publishers 2010, 279 pages

SUBTITLE: What I learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth

For the What’s in a Name Challenge – Country category

I am having a tough time thinking up what to write. Especially when I agree wholeheartedly with Nancy’s review from 2011.  If you don’t want to click over, she says this:

” Lacking in adventure but fascinating for its analysis of the people and the time, at times uneven but overall a decent memoir.”

Yes. I agree.

I read the very same book that Nancy read! Because she is the generous booklover who gave it to me. And I am willing to send YOU this book if you want to read it, too. Just be the first to request and I will email you for your mailing address and will eventually send it off. Eventually.

It looks like this:  rslbyln2

Also, it’s an ARC. It does have a few misspellings or typos and it got very VERY confusing with what I must assume were name swappings. She would be yapping about Sebastian and then refer to him as Benjamin. And Ngawang would be Pema and then back to Ngawang…  Just sayin’.

One more fun thing…  The author mentions a term familiar to all who loved Stranger in a Strange Land by Heinlein. Here’s the quote, do you know the word?

“The only not-so-smooth part of the plan came from my father, who couldn’t quite grok the adventure I was about to have.”

All righty, then. Carry on.

RATING:  Three slices of pie. (No pie mentions in this one.)



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Year End Review 2015 By the Numbers


I read 75 books in 2015. 

by WORDS post / faves

Pace:   ~1.5 books per week.

(The past few years, I’ve only been able to read 64,61,68,63… This was my best year since 2009 when I read 87!)

Pages Read:  25,936 (using goodreads total because my spreadsheet didn’t quite reach this number, I wonder why…And I know damn sure I am not going to try and figure it out.)

[Updated cuz it is like picking a hole in the knees of my jeans… COMPARE:


with this:


SIGH…. Which IS it!  My spreadsheet gave a total of 18,896… SO, maybe I will just redo these numbers with an estimate; rounding to 19,000:  ]

Average Pages/Book: 253  pieratingsml Average Pages/Week: ~365

Audiobook Count: 21 pieratingsml Hours Listened:  323

Average Hours/Book: ~15.4

Fiction/Nonfiction:  60/15  (80/20%)

Contemporary Lit – 16%
Memoir – 14.7%
Classics – 9.3%
Women’s Lit – 12%
Short Story – 6.7% <– most of these were classics…


Female/Male:  55/20 (73/27%) – WOW!

tB = Tradeback – 35%
A = Audiobook – 28%
HB = Hard back – 25%
eB = electronic book = 7%
pb = Paperback (count 3)
Lp = Large print (count 1)
(You might just conclude that I don’t use my kindle much, huh? I think this is because most of my book clubs have the book in hand from the library so I do forget about that ebook format, often! Plus, I found a wonderful indie bookstore in 2015.)

Seven books published before 1920; <50 books published in the 21st century; 16 in 2014, 5 in 2015.

OLDEST: Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale – woo hoo.

Four books published in the 1950s and four published in the 1960s. What is most curious is wondering if these authors read each other’s books. Like, did Ayn Rand read Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land? What would Heinlein have thought about Altas Shrugged?!

And is it possible that the authors of Woman on the Roof and The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. BEF walked by each other on the streets of NYC – both books set in Manhattan, same year. For that matter, did they brush shoulders with Patti Smith who was also running around the city in those years? (I didn’t read Just Kids this year but in 2011 but I was reminded of it for some reason.)

LONGEST:  Atlas Shrugged 1198 pages

LONGEST TITLE: The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy


CHUNKSTERS:  7 (over 450 pages)


I seriously want to redo all this stuff  – be more organized blahblahbalh, but I have fun the first half of all this number crunching, I do. And then I get to Jan 5th and just ‘GIT IT DONE’. The only thing that REALLY interests me? How many books, how many on the 1001+ Books to Read Before I Die and… that’s about it.  It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt, yaknow. Other than my challenges, my book clubs, the fun readalongs, and making sure I get some nonfiction in the reading diet, I am happy as pie.

Oh! I think I will try and do better tracking books that mention pie!!




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First Book 2016


First Book is hosted by the lovely and talented Sheila at BookJourney. I will be reading Radio Shangri-La: What I Learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth by Lisa Napoli. Click on the book cover to go to

rslbyln2 rslbyln1

Lisa Napoli was in the grip of a crisis, dissatisfied with her life and her work as a radio journalist. When a chance encounter with a handsome stranger presented her with an opportunity to move halfway around the world, Lisa left behind cosmopolitan Los Angeles for a new adventure in the ancient Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan—said to be one of the happiest places on earth.

A big THANK YOU to Nancy the BookFool who loaned me or gave me this book way back in May of 2011. I can now soon return it to her. This book will satisfy the country category for What’s in a Name 2016, is a book “in the house” and a loaner. Three happy checks right there.



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The Free Men

Thoughts tfmbyje The Free Men by John Ehle, Press 53 2007 (orig 1965), 351 pages

Blurb from

This moving narrative by John Ehle describes the experiences of a handful of dedicated young students, both black and white, during the 1963-64 civil rights protests in Chapel Hill, NC. The movement began through the efforts of three young men: two white UNC-Chapel Hill students, John Dunne, a gifted Morehead Scholar, and Pat Cusick, the grandson of the founder of the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama, and one student from the all-black North Carolina College in Durham, Quinton Baker. First published in 1965 by Harper & Row, ‘The Free Men’ was controversial but won the Mayflower Award for Nonfiction. It is now back in print by Press 53 with a new Afterword by the former UNC-Chapel Hill student, ‘Daily Tar Heel’ editor, and Pulitzer Prize-Winning journalist Wayne King.

I read this for Nonfiction November which was focused on my desire to deepen my understanding of  US civil rights history. My local indie book store featured this book as important and sold me on the quality of the writing.

This appealed to me as a book with a timely and fresh impression of the activities covered. The first events happened in 1963 with court dealings mostly in 1964 and the book was published right after, 1965. This wouldn’t be a glossing over what happened way back but would deliver a true feel of the atmosphere of that ‘now’. I wanted to experience it truly like I was there with no 21st century ‘wiser’ perspective. Set in Chapel Hill, a town presumed to be the most liberal because it was the host of the flagship premier university of the state, the University of North Carolina. Chapel Hill is close to the state capitol of Raleigh and less than an hour’s drive from where I live in Greensboro.

I am not a native North Carolinian and to be honest, I’ve yet to set foot in Chapel Hill. But it is so on my list to visit and I want to see if I can be transported to the Franklin Street of downtown as it looked in 1965; to see the Post Office and the site of the original picketed restaurants. I know much has to have changed but I love the feels of old downtowns and the imaginings of the people who walked the streets years and years and years gone by.

He had come into the South to get to know the South, and now he was held by the South, but what he had not learned was the ponderableness of the South, …  The instinct of the South was not part of him yet. As is the case in any revolution taking place, the need for immediate action was inside him and was what he breathed.

This was a fascinating portrayal of the key individuals involved, how the movement got started in the town, the machinations of the politics, the fears and commitments and frustrations of good people who wanted things done right but had different ideas of the best way to achieve or promote or demand results. It also gives some time with the side against desegregation. Fascinating. Oh, and let’s throw in one crazy tough bastard judge.

Those who support the superiority of conscience often have the embarrassment of explaining how their system is to work on a practical level; those who support the superiority of laws have the embarrassment of the way their system does work, day in and day out, at the working level.

And it showed that not a lot has changed in 50 years.

I admit that it got tough keeping track of who was who and what was when. If I had kept notes and timelines, I probably would have rated this a 5 star read. So, my failings.

This amazing book is a very good example of how things might need radical happenings to force change. Also fabulous discussion on how both sides of the rightness to ‘radical happenings’ (my words). Any social justice warrior would find this book valuable. Any student of journalism history would find this book insightful.

I’m glad I read this. I aspire to such courage of conviction as these men and women demonstrated.

“They had been condemned by the court, and they knew they were in a sense guilty of breaking laws, but they were moralists essentially, and what they were trying to determine now was the nature of their deeper crime whether they had violated not only laws but also justice.”

This is one of those books that inspires MORE research. I was constantly looking up people in Wiki, places on the map, and other stuff. I found a 1989 interview of Pat Cusick who ended up in Boston after being forced out of North Carolina – click this link for fascinating discussion and reflection of the events described in this book and beyond. He recommended the following book as pivotal and now I want to read it. Click the cover to go to goodreads: ptwbytb

The best understanding of America begins, or so it seems to me, with the realization that this nation is young yet, that she is still new and unfinished, that even now America is man’s greatest adventure in time and space.


Wishing us all a sensible 2016 of peace and freedom.





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Year End Review 2015 In Words


I read seventy five books in Twenty Fifteen.
by #s post

Hopefully you read the prior post about all my FAVORITES of the  year.

Book I was excited about and thought I was going to love more:  Five Days at Memorial didn’t sit right with me by the end of it but I am impressed with my review of it.

Also, I expected Atwood’s last two books in the Maddaddam series (<– link to my review which also includes link to Year of the Flood) to blow me over but perhaps I was setting it up for that curse of too high expectation let down.

Most surprising book: Absolutely hands down:  Death in the Garden by Elizabeth Ironside. Not a cozy mystery – or maybe it is because I don’t have a grasp what that means exactly, but chock full of button-pushing thoughts in ways that I like: feminism, marriage balance and independence; it was just more than I expected and I really liked it. I really need to explore more of this author’s work.

dintgbyei ElizabethIronside

Book I pushed the most people to read: Besides Harold and Queenie!? [Just search for Rachel Joyce and find my posts.] I must push more ❤ love ❤ to James McBride’s The Good Lord Bird. It is history! and it is funny! Well, as funny as this sad chapter  of US history and this interesting character can get. It’s a romp and fascinating and if you love satire, I highly recommend.


Diversity: I had said I would be better on this and though I mentioned a particular author (Tayari Jones)and now must admit that I didn’t get to any of her books this year (bummer), I really did read more diversely and on purpose. I stated that I intend to read more nonfiction on issues of race and education and I did. See my November of Nonfiction.

I read EIGHT books from the list of 1001+ Books to Read Before I Die. [Link should go to my 2015 list on goodreads.]

Readalongs:  Thank you shoutouts to my Kingalong friends! We read Pet Sematary, Misery and ‘Salem’s Lot. ALWAYS a good time.

Sister Carrie was a shared reading experience and I read Flowers for Algernon with Athira.  A highlight of 2015 was something new and different: I live-tweeted my way through Elegance of the Hedgehog with (or rather, at) Katie – that was a blast and a fabulous fun way to share a book.

(I’m still up for a readalong of Germinal if someone wants to suggest a date.)


Only 19 books from 2015 were by an author I had previously enjoyed. Thus, approximately 50+ authors were new to me authors! – and that repeat count gets confusing because I read a few authors multiple times/books during the year and my head hurts.

Authors presented me with their second/third/etc: I read 3 more Stephen King’s, I read 3 titles by Rachel Joyce and she was new to me with Harold Fry’s Pilgrimage. I read two of Margaret Atwood’s and two of Liane Moriarty’s.

I reread: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.


I do a horrible job tracking genre. I did hit most all of them, I think.

And Debuts. Notables though would be Helen Macdonald for her H is for Hawk and Eowyn Ivey for The Snow Child. Perhaps also Renee Ahdieh for The Wrath and the Dawn. Oh! and Zen Cho for Sorcerer to the Crown.


Unintended THEMES in my 2015 reading: Mabels! – in H is for Hawk and in The Snow Child.

Classics and Challenges!  I am pleased. This year is my first of five to get after my Classics 50 list and I read TEN. Thankfully, I am not actually off the pace because we are allowed substitutions and on that regard, I finished 14 ‘classics’ when defined by books over 25 years old. I think that is the criteria. The ‘youngest’ book on my list I think is either Garp by Irving or Pinchon’s Gravity Rainbow? I need to double check that, I suppose…  Whatever. I am every so PLEASED with my classics reading, I am I am.

I finished What’s in a Name in record time and multiple books fitting many categories.  I felt I gave a strong effort to Nonfiction November.


I did lousy at seeing the films based on books I read precisely because I heard the movie was being made. Far From the Madding Crowd, Slaughterhouse Five, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, The Book Thief, Mockingjay, Unbroken, any of the Harry Potters (I’ve seen a few and not sure which ones!), Sister Carrie, Atlas Shrugged (to be honest, not interested!), From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. BEF, Pet Sematary?
I read a book that I had previously seen the film: The Talented Mr. Ripley, but I don’t recall much of the movie other than it was good and had beautiful people and scenery.
I did see Misery, so that is something. And Divergent (ugh), A Walk in the Woods.


WordPress does a nice job of sending Annual Reports. You can click here to view mine (don’t worry, it’s short…)

My year by the numbers post will probably after the new year! Looking forward to seeing YOUR year end posts or share your top favorites in a comment or your general overview of YOUR reading year. Do share!




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The Post In Which I Rank My Top Rated Books of 2015

Oh goodie! The year end review posts are starting! I’m having a grand ol’ time printing out and counting up and percentaging and all the jazz that comes with the last week of the year.


And trying to figure out which book will be FIRST of 2016. This question keeps popping into my head and then silence. So, for right now, I have NO idea which book will be first. It’ll happen, always does. For more on that topic, visit Sheila at Book Journey.

Now. Let’s look at my top books and find out – drumroll, please – which was the very best for me in my opinion of all the books I enjoyed in 2015:


The book covers above are in no particular order as far as I can tell. It is the order put them in.

Here’s MY order most loved first to only very slightly less loved last:

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (on audio, rev)

The Good Lord Bird (review)

H is for Hawk (on audio, rev)

Between the World and Me (review)

The Elegance of the Hedgehog (review)

The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy (on audio, rev)

Far From the Madding Crowd (on audio,rev)

The Snow Child

Dept of Speculation (review)

Station Eleven (review)

Big Little Lies (review)

Bad Feminist (review) *According to WP, this review was my most visited post…

 Death in the Garden (review)

All I Have in This World (review)

Heft (on audio,rev)

Inside the O’Briens (review)

Lost Lake (review)

Wow, I have some very different books here. And I know that I have some FOUR slice reads that might be worthy of jumping up into this list and maybe swap places with the lower tier but let’s just say, I had a REALLY good reading year, shall we? (Honestly, I really don’t recall much about Lost Lake. gulp.)

If tomorrow, you asked me to re-rank these, the order would likely be different. But overall, these books were the ones that hit the right buttons, the right mood, the right emotions, the everythings.

These account for almost a quarter (23%) of the books I read! 70% of my total 2015 books read were a 4 or 5 pie slicer. Wow, indeed.

Which genres do I like, you ask? Oh my, what genres these books cross! Science fiction, romance, chicklit, historical fiction, almost-not-quite fantasy, civil rights, memoir, medical lit, mystery-thriller, fictional travelogue, death and dying, feminism, experimentally-stylish?

Three of the books above are nonfiction; Between the World and Me won the National Book Award 2015. H is for Hawk won the Samuel Johnson Prize 2014.

The Good Lord Bird won the National Book Award for Fiction 2013.

Five were audiobooks.

Station Eleven and Dept. of Speculation, both pub’d in 2014, had all sorts of acclaim this year and maybe a slew of awards.  Of course, Far From the Madding Crowd is a classic (and Hardy’s least sad, I’ve heard.) My review for that was my least read and most fun to write. But you wouldn’t get it if you haven’t read the book, so… And why!??! it isn’t on the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die list is a travesty.

I read both Harold Fry and Queenie Hennessy books TWICE. Each both in print and on audio. I am now Rachel Joyce’s biggest fan.


The most popular book I read was Mockingjay. I gave it 3 slices.


My least favorite book of 2015 was The Importance of Being Oscar. Skip it, seriously. And I gave more one and/or two slices to books this year for 11%; whereas, last year I only gave 8% the dreaded 2 slicer. Any DNFs I had were due to mood and timing and not a reflection of the quality of the experience. I didn’t count any DNFs, in other words. Only a few put-back-on-shelf-for-later.

A good year. A fine year for reading, was 2015. On to more stats and stuff… Posts, they are a-comin’.


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The Snow Child

Thoughts tscbyei The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey, Back Bay Books – Little,Brown and Company 2012, 391 pages + readers guide

FOR my Newcomers Club Book Club

First Sentence: Mabel had known there would be silence.

Interesting (but probably not really) coinky-dink: I loved another book this year that featured a Mabel. H is for Hawk. [READ IT.]

WHAT’s it about: This lovely tale is a reworking of a Russian fairy tale of a snow child that comes to life for an aging childless couple. What is most intriguing to me is that the author manages to work in quite a few variations of the story into her unique take on the story. Well done, Ms Ivey, WELL DONE.

Can you tell I liked this one?

Number of PIE mentions: at least SIX; apple pie, walnut pie, rhubarb pie, baking pie, taking pie to market town, and an inferred Fiddlehead Fern Pie. (Sorry, I can’t find online but I have it in one of my pie books – not yet tried it because I have yet to source any of these ferns at the appropriate time.)

Quotes I liked:

“Or did fear drive her? Fear of the gray, not just in the strands of her hair and her wilting cheeks, but the gray that ran deeper, to the bone, so that she thought she might turn into a fine dust and simply sift away in the wind.”
“As Jack knelt in the bloody snow, he wondered if that was how a man held up his end of the bargain, by learning and taking into his heart this strange wilderness – guarded and naked, violent and meek, tremulous in its greatness.”

“Mable looked from her drawing to the snowflake in the child’s hand. I can always work on the details later. Shall we call it finished for now? She asked. Yes, Faina said. The child put the heel of her hand to her lips and blew on the snowflake, and it fluttered into the air like dandelion down.”

“But Jack was seeking out that deep, opaque place where sound and pain and light are muted, where a man doesn’t have to put words to his despair because his numb tongue and useless lips can’t speak anything at all.”


The writing is exquisite. The characters human. The plot pace is sure and the plot points surprising. I thought it was going to be painful and dreadfully disheartening, and though, yes, it has sadness, I was not unhappy with the conclusion.

I was glad that my worst fears were not met but interested in why I had those worst fears. I never felt manipulated or played. It all felt honest.

I had both felt attracted to this book as well as resisted it for fantasy and extreme cold temperatures but I am very glad that book club selected this for January. I really like the book cover art.

QUESTION for those of you who have also read this title: Do you think it would be a good choice or bad choice for a film adaption? I think both. I can see that opening scene on the river, testing the ice. I can visualize the beautiful blue coat with the embroidered snowflakes…

RATING: Five slices of rhubarb pie. Tart, wild, so seasonal – like Faina.



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