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2016-19 Activities & Challenges > PBT Decathlon—January Reporting

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message 1: by Nicole R (last edited Feb 01, 2018 06:13AM) (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7716 comments Please post reviews for books you read for the decathlon here.

Theme for January: read something that is a tribute to our retiring administrator, Linda (Ladyslott).

Want more info on the challenge? Check out our announcement and discussion thread.

message 2: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1545 comments January
Book: Before the Fall by
Reason: Was on Linda's "read" shelf
4 stars
This was my first book of 2018 and overall an engaging and fun read. Before the Fall is a literary suspense novel by Noah Hawley. Eleven people board a private plane from Cape Cod to New York. 18 minutes later the plane crashes into the ocean with two survivors. The book tells the story of what happened to the plane and its passengers. The novel is told from the perspective of each of the 11 people on board the plane and a few investigators and "journalists" who are trying to uncover what happened. Clues are given in each chapter and the answers are revealed at the end.

I don't typically love thrillers or suspense novels but this one had a literary component to it. The author explores a variety of themes on his way to uncovering the mystery of what happened. There is commentary on the media, wealth and entitlement, ethics, family, and more.

Overall, I enjoyed the book. It wasn't a groundbreaking literary masterpiece but it was pretty engaging and kept me hooked through the end. I read it in less than a day. I liked the main character and the ways in which art was intertwined with the plot.

message 3: by annapi (new)

annapi | 4914 comments January
Book: I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley
Reason: Was on Linda's read shelf

Rating: 4 stars

Precocious 11-year-old amateur chemist and sleuth Flavia de Luce is working on a scheme to prove once and for all whether Father Christmas really exists or is a fable as her older sisters claim. But the household routine is disrupted by a film crew that has leased their home for the filming of a movie, with the famous star Phyllis Wyvern. On the vicar's pleading, the star has consented to put on a small performance at the mansion, which half the town comes eagerly to see. But a blizzard that evening forces all visitors to spend the night, and it is in this chaos that Phyllis is murdered. Naturally Flavia sets out to solve the crime herself.

I read this to satisfy three reading challenges (monthly tag, PBT Decathlon and Listopia), and was not expecting much. I had tried reading book 1 of this series and never finished it, because I just could not connect with Flavia or like her very much. So it was a pleasant surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed this. I will have to revisit the earlier books in the series and give Flavia a second chance!

message 4: by Crumb (last edited Jan 05, 2018 01:26PM) (new)

Crumb | 159 comments Book: Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Reason: I didn't know Linda, but I did see that she was a big fan of NY and a big part of this book takes place in NY. So I read it

Rating: 5 stars

Oh.My.God. This book deserves more than five stars, in fact, it deserves every single star in the sky. This book was phenomenal. It tugged at my heart strings in the best of ways. I laughed and I cried.. Oh, how I cried.

This book is about friendship. Although, in my opinion, the word “friendship” doesn’t seem like a big enough word to encapsulate their relationship. They were simply: TullyandKate. Best friends forever.
This book began in the 1970’s and went straight through the Millenium. The reader was able to see both Tully and Kate come of age. Kate had everything Tully wanted: a family. And Tully, had everything Kate wanted: she was drop dead gorgeous and popular. While Tully wanted a family and Kate wanted to have Tully’s charm and good looks, as a duo, they were enough. They completed each other. They made each other whole
In my opinion, what makes a book great is character development. I like to go on a journey with the characters; I like to see them grow, come into their own. Kristen Hannah gave that to me, and more. I also value characters that I can relate to. When I was in high school, I could easily see Kate and Tully walking arm-in-arm down the hallway. In college, I could visualize them walking across my campus.
This book made my heart sing and it made my heart ache.. and yet at the end, I wanted more. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Thankfully, there is a sequel. Thank you Ms. Hannah!

message 5: by ~*Kim*~ (new)

~*Kim*~ | 462 comments Book: The Red Hat Club by Haywood Smith
5 Stars
Reason: On Linda's "read" list

Georgia, SuSu, Teeny, Diane, and Linda have all been best friends since high school...30 plus years. They meet weekly at a local restaurant wearing, of course, their red hats to gossip and catch up with one another.
When the group finds out that Diane's husband is cheating on her, they hatch a plan to bust his no good behind.
Love, laughter, and friendship prevail as the story tells the history of each one of the women from the 60's through the present.

I thought this was such a fun read. It reminded me of my 35 year friendship with my best friend and what we'd be getting up to if we lived close to one another. I read it for the decathlon and am happy with the choice. I plan on reading book #2 and can't wait to see what the girls get up to in it.

message 6: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 8128 comments Crumb wrote: "Book: Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah..."

This sounds really good! Crumb, thanks for the review!

And... this is one reason why I miss shelfari. When we posted our reviews in one thread, I might read a review I might skip here because I don't bother to open the thread.

message 7: by Nicole D. (new)

Nicole D. | 1476 comments January
Reason: Linda recommended it for the Science tag

The Signature of All Things


I need to start my review with an apology to Gilbert. I judged her based on the movie and concept of Eat, Pray, Love and that wasn't fair. She's a good writer.

The first few pages of this book were so strong and funny, I knew it wouldn't hold up but I felt ashamed of my prior judgement.

This tells the story of Alma Whitaker a fictional botanist in the 1800's. Alma felt so genuine. You just wanted all good things for her, but how she dealt with her disappointments made her all the more endearing.

Good characters, solid story, good detail (if a little mind-numbing ... I mean, moss, yawn ... ) nice creation of time and place and a cool nod to Darwin.

Enjoyable (and well done audio!)

message 8: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1545 comments this makes me laugh because I too have judged her on the movie and concept of Eat, Pray, Love. I went with some friends who dragged me to see the movie and I eye-rolled my way through it.

You think I'd like this book?

message 9: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1545 comments Nicole D. wrote: "January
Reason: Linda recommended it for the Science tag

The Signature of All Things


I need to start my review with an apology to Gilbert. I judged her based on the movie an..."

meant to hit reply to this post with my message above

message 10: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5641 comments Jen wrote: "You think I'd like this book? ..."

Yes, I think you would.

message 11: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8292 comments I absolutely adored this book, it was an absolute favorite of mine.

message 12: by Crumb (new)

Crumb | 159 comments LibraryCin wrote: "Crumb wrote: "Book: Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah..."

This sounds really good! Crumb, thanks for the review!

And... this is one reason why I miss shelfari. When we ..."

It was SO good Cin.. I can't recommend it enough.

message 13: by Nicole D. (new)

Nicole D. | 1476 comments Jen wrote: "this makes me laugh because I too have judged her on the movie and concept of Eat, Pray, Love. I went with some friends who dragged me to see the movie and I eye-rolled my way through it.

You thi..."

yes, it was very good and it will clear your palate of that horrible movie

message 14: by Ellen (new)

Ellen | 2090 comments This book was on Linda's shelf and my TBR.

Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew Sullivan
4 stars

When she was a young girl, Lydia was involved in a horrific crime when she had a sleep-over at her friend's house. A man slipped into the house when all were asleep and slaughtered Lydia's friend and her parents while Lydia hid beneath the kitchen sink. The assailant became known as the "Hammerman" and was the fodder of nightmares for Lydia and every other child in town. The crime was never solved and Lydia's father spirited her away to a remote cabin in the Colorado mountains to get away from the local gossip and obsession with the murders.

The grown-up Lydia is a bookseller in the Bright Ideas Bookstore. She relishes her job, the endless supply of books at her fingertips and the group known as the 'BookFrogs", a group of men who have nothing to do and nowhere to go but to the bookstore. One of Lydia's favorite frogs is Joey Molina, a young man who obviously has no family or direction in his life. Late one night Lydia finds Joey hanging in one of the bookstore's upper rooms. In his hand Lydia finds a photograph of herself and 2 friends at Lydia's 10th birthday party. How and why did Joey get this picture? As Lydia combs through Joey's possessions, all of which he left to her, she is intrigued by clues he has seemingly left for her to decode. Many of the clues, however, lead Lydia down the dark road to her own past and secrets she has buried even from herself.

This is such a well-plotted story from beginning to end. Joey's clues are fascinating and the connections between Joey and Lydia are slowly revealed to a satisfying conclusion. I liked Lydia's character quite a bit except for her casual treatment of those who seem to love her. Other than that, it's a great read.

message 15: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8292 comments I am so enjoying seeing what books folks are choosing in Linda’s honor. This is becoming one of my favorite threads to watch.

message 16: by SouthWestZippy (last edited Jan 10, 2018 12:41PM) (new)

SouthWestZippy | 856 comments Reason: On her Read shelf-Her rating 4 stars

The Martian by Andy Weir
The Martian
5 stars
A dust storm hits Mars and the crew is forced to evacuate, Mark Watney is left for dead because they are unable to locate him plus his suit shows no life signs, only he is not dead. Now he is stranded and has no way to signal Earth. You are reading his Log entries showing his very human responses to being alone and dealing with his routines to keep himself alive. I enjoyed his dry humor and his willingness to try anything to keep himself alive and busy. This book is intense at times and draws into to Mark's fight for life and shows you that every life matters and the levels they will go to to get you back home safe.
1 like

message 17: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8292 comments Eleanor Olliphant (in Linda’s honor) is in transit to my library! Didn’t even have to buy it. Can’t wait for this special month in her honor.

message 18: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jennywilliams88) | 676 comments Book: A Darker Shade of Magic by V E Schwab
Reason: On Linda's read shelf
Rating: 4 ⭐ (like Linda)

Review: Most people only know one London; but what if there were several? Kell is one of the last Travelers—magicians with a rare ability to travel between parallel Londons. There’s Grey London, dirty and crowded and without magic, home to the mad king George III. There’s Red London, where life and magic are revered. Then, White London, ruled by whoever has murdered their way to the throne. But once upon a time, there was Black London...

I went into this book expecting a lot of references to the 18th Century, but apart from the brief references to George III, the Prince Regent and Blake, the book didn't really evoke this period for me. However, I may be confusing this book's plot with a different one! (I have an MA in 18th Century Studies so was looking forward to this book due to this)

I enjoyed the book and will probably continue it once the tbr pile is down as I would like to know what adventures Kell and Lil get up to next!

message 19: by Barbara M (new)

Barbara M (barbara-m) | 2191 comments Jen wrote: "this makes me laugh because I too have judged her on the movie and concept of Eat, Pray, Love. I went with some friends who dragged me to see the movie and I eye-rolled my way through it.

You thi..."

I totally agree that this is an excellent read and the movie couldn't possibly do it justice.

message 20: by [deleted user] (last edited Jan 11, 2018 07:41AM) (new)

January: A book on Linda's Read Shelf
Book: Beartown by Fredrik Backman
My Rating: 3 stars (Linda's Rating: 5 stars)
This was a novel I waited to read due to a long library waitlist. Although I realize mine is not a majority opinion, this book really wasn't worth the long wait.

This book revolves around a small town, ice hockey and every type of associated stereotype imaginable. A precipitating "event" occurs midway through and then the story goes on, and on, and on, without adding much in the form of character or story development beyond that point. It wasn't difficult to guess how things would play out either.

I feel Backman tried to tackle too many subjects and presented them in a clichéd way. Too many characters are introduced and with a few notable exceptions, Backman doesn't delve very deeply beyond the surface into the reasons behind their actions. There is psychological drama but it is predictable. The wealthy jock and his emotionally detached parents behave as we expect them to. The marginalized characters behave as we expect they would. Certain characters fulfill certain roles and behave as one would expect them to. It would have been more interesting to me if some characters went against the grain. Some of the topics addressed are important but within the context of a fictional account, I feel that the author didn't really bring many new insights to the table.

Finally, I am wondering if something was lost in the translation from Swedish to English? Did the phrasing lose some inherent cultural meaning or sparkle? If I wasn't aware that Backman was a Swedish author, I would have thought the setting could be in any northerly cold, economically depressed small town, with a high school ice hockey team.

Since I technically cannot give a 2.5 star rating on Goodreads, I rounding up to 3 stars with some misgivings.

message 21: by Anita (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 6276 comments January
Book: Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood
Rating: 5 stars
Reason: Was on Linda's top 10 list for 2017

An outstanding memoir!

Honestly, I barely know who Trevor Noah is, but this memoir is so well done. Structured as a series of stories from his younger life in South Africa, Noah tackles serious topics, including racism, apartheid and domestic violence, while somehow incorporating a ton of wit and wisdom. It's a coming of age story that also addresses the socio-political situation of South Africa at the time and the difficulties of growing up "colored". The title refers to the fact that Noah is half white and half black; evidence of his parents crime of intercourse with someone not of their own race.

Noah positive and inspirational, a loving and devoted son, despite facing a lot of challenges in his childhood. He's high spirited, mischievous, resilient, observant and industrious which makes for some great stories.

I savored every word of this book and honestly didn't want it to end. I really hope he does a follow-up book about the next phase of his life. What a talent. Superb book, and one I think almost all readers would enjoy.

Important Decathlon Note:

This book was my tribute to Linda for the January leg of the Decathlon! I saw earlier in the year that she really loved it, but the clincher was that she placed it on her personal top 10 list for the year. I knew I wanted to read one of her top books. What I didn't know is how much I would LOVE it!! Thank you again, Linda, for all you've done for PBT. I'm so glad I chose this great book in your honor.

message 22: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 5505 comments January
Book: Remarkable Creatures
Reason: On Linda's Read Shelf

Sorting through my vast library of DTB, I discovered Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier which my cat had torn a big chunk of the cover off. It did however work perfectly for the PBT science tag and the first leg of the Decathalon as a tribute to Linda, so I decided not to be put off with the ragged cover and read it.

I loved the story of the two women, Elizabeth Philpot and Mary Anning, who were hunters of fossils during the Regency Era in England. Chevalier nicely develops these characters and presents their complex relationship. Philpot is a spinster from London who is forced to move to Lyme on the coast of England because of declining fortunes. Miss Elizabeth Philpot finds that once there she is intrigued by fossils. While hunting fossils she meets young working class Mary Anning. Miss Elizabeth becomes Mary's friend and champion.

This book hit all the right notes for me and I am glad I finally read it and will say farewell to this book.

message 23: by Jason (new)

Jason Oliver | 2063 comments January: read something that is a tribute to our retiring administrator, Linda (Ladyslott).
Title: A Gentleman in Moscow
Star Rating: 2 Stars
Reason: A 5 star rating on Ladyslott bookshelf.

This book sounded so wonderful and the premise is wonderful. During the early 20th century in Russia, A "Gentleman" in manner and speech, is put under "house arrest" at a grand hotel.

I loved the gentleman aspect. However most of the story I didn't like.

This man is confined his whole life yet there is no introspection into his situation. There is very limited comments on the fact he is a prisoner in this hotel through the whole book. Despite being confined, he never seems to lose sense of the outside world. I understand he can pick up some from newspapers, tv, and other guests, but the outside world is changes at a very fast rate. Prisoners of the U.S. penal system experience culture shock after only a handful of years of confinement. I would have enjoyed the Gentleman experiencing technology changes as they come to the hotel.

Lastly, the narrator is peculiar in a way I found irksome. The narrator addresses the reader, asks the reader questions, yet he has not identity. It is just a normal narrator, separate from the events yet also intruding. There are normally 3 types of narration. Normal narration of the events separate from the story. A character that narrates the story that has and identity and personality of their own, interjecting commentary or making side notes. Then there is the combination used in comedy mostly. Think of George of the Jungle (movie) or Stranger than Fiction (movie). Well this is the last kind but without the comedy and its weird and irksome to me.

I regret I did not like this book and look forward to an author taking this premise and turning it into something more my style.

message 24: by KateNZ (last edited Jan 12, 2018 04:58PM) (new)

KateNZ | 2214 comments January: tribute to Linda
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption - 5 stars
Rather than double-posting: here's a link to my review

message 25: by Cora (new)

Cora (corareading) | 1311 comments January: A tribute to Linda

I read the following book because Linda read it and gave it 5 stars.

The Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat - Edward Kelsey Moore

4 1/2 stars (rounded down to 4 on my shelf)

This is the story about three middle-aged African American women who have been friends since high school. The story tells about their current lives as well as flashbacks to when they were teens. Although there is a lot of humor in the book, it does tackle some serious issues. I was impressed with the characters in this book. They seemed realistic and full of faults as well as strength. Even the characters that are at times despicable (with one exception) have redeeming qualities that make you love them despite their bad behavior. I am glad the decathlon challenge finally spurred me to pick up this book.

message 26: by Karin (last edited Jan 12, 2018 06:51PM) (new)

Karin | 6926 comments January: A tribute to Linda

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
My rating: 3.5 stars
Reason: was on my tbr, on Linda's read & African-American shelves & Linda gave it 5 stars

This is a very strong debut novel. I can see why this has been a best seller and so many people love it, but, perhaps because I have read so many rave reviews that it was difficult to live up to the hype, it wasn’t a 5 star book for me. The best things about this novel is that Starr is a likable protagonist and it does a good job of letting readers see another side to news stories where cops kill unarmed people, particularly when there is the added factor of racism and cops protecting their own. I’ve known for most of my life that you can’t trust the news to get things as accurately as you would like, but it can be hard to separate fact from fiction in the news.

The voice of the POV was good, and many of the characters were well drawn out, but a few felt more cliché and two dimensional. A few times the dialogue felt forced in a similar way to many police dramas (not the exact same way, of course, but in police dramas you often see TV cops having dialogues that explain procedures or other things that there is no way real cops would ever talk.) Thomas avoided some of the pitfalls of Picoult’s Small Great Things by not trying to add in too many extra problems and issues to Starr’s life and thinking than could realistically fit into a novel.

Angie Thomas has talent, and I look forward to reading more novels by her as I am sure her writing will grow and develop.

message 27: by Sabrina (last edited Jan 12, 2018 07:24PM) (new)

Sabrina (sarojaedewordstained) | 184 comments January: Tribute to Linda
The Bat ~~ Jo Nesbø (original title: Flaggermusmannen)
Reason: It was on Linda's Read Shelf (plus I had been meaning to read this for some time).
4 stars

I actually finished this a couple of days ago and am just now getting around to posting my thoughts.

First, I must admit that I am pretty much a junkie for detective series (i.e. Harry Bosch), and I had heard great things about this series and author, so I went in with high hopes. I was not disappointed, and I did not feel let down by my expectations, which is always a good thing.

Inspector Harry Hole from the Oslo Crime Squad has traveled to Sydney, Australia to observe the murder investigation of a young Norwegian woman who was a minor celebrity back home in Norway. Harry is under orders to observe and offer assistance but not actively involve himself in the investigation. However, sitting back and observing is simply not in Harry's make-up.

The case is complicated by not only Harry's befriending of one of the investigators on the case but one of the murder victim's former co-workers. As the investigation into the case progresses, not only do a variety of cultural and social issues regarding Australia's indigenous people come to the forefront, but the murder points to a possible string of similar crimes that have made their way across various parts of Australia. Additionally, the demons of Harry's past come back to haunt him the further he gets into the investigation.

Overall, the book was an enjoyable read. I think this book (and books of its type) are enjoyable because the central character--detective is hard-nosed yet likeable despite his serious flaws/issues/short-comings. In many ways, the characters were well-developed but a few fell into that cliché of characters found in similar novels/detective series. Still, despite some of the stereotypical characters, Nesbø managed to keep the writing fresh and the plot with its twists interesting.

I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series and adding the Harry Hole series to my regular police/detective series reading.

message 28: by LibraryCin (last edited Jan 12, 2018 10:14PM) (new)

LibraryCin | 8128 comments January: Tribute to Linda. She's read it. 4 stars

In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette / Hampton Sides
4.5 stars

In the late 19th century, Captain De Long paired up with the owner of the New York Herald (who funded the trip) to sail the USS Jeannette to the North Pole. At the time (though no one had yet been there), some people thought that once you pushed past the ice, there was warmer and open water. De Long, armed with maps (many of which were simply incorrect) from German cartographer Petermann, took off on the multi-year voyage with 32 other men to sail through to the ice-free section and the North Pole. Without wanting to give too much away, this would prove to be incredibly dangerous.

This was amazing! Some of the background information near the start of the book, particularly about Bennett (who funded the trip), wasn’t as interesting, but it wasn’t uninteresting, either. I seem to be fascinated by survival stories (though I’m about the opposite of a risk-taker, myself - I’ll just read about it, thanks!). This one read like fiction and it kept me wanting to keep reading to find out what happened next. It is nonfiction, so it really happened, but I honestly didn’t know how it would turn out, so I was riveted!

message 29: by Elise (new)

Elise (ellinou) | 524 comments January
Book: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Reason: On Lind's read shelf

4 stars

In 1946, Juliet Ashton is a writer in England. A collection of the humorous columns she wrote in the newspaper during the war was just published and she is looking for the subject of her next book when she gets a letter from a man she doesn’t know, who found her name inside one of her old books that he got second-hand. They start up a correspondence, and with others on the island also, and soon Juliet finds the perfect topic to study: Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands during WWII.

I went into this completely blind. I have absolutely no idea why I put it on my TBR, and when I started it I didn’t even know it was about WWII, so that was a pleasant surprise! I also didn’t expect the whole novel to be written as an exchange of letters. That style often turns me off, since it can easily become tedious, but here I liked the execution. It was funny enough to come across as interesting.

All in all, it was a very sweet read, that often made me smile or even giggle out loud. The characters were all so vivid, it was easy to imagine them and actually see them. I also liked very much another point of view on WWII, one I’d never seen before (really, I feel like I say that about every other WWII novel I read XD).

Thank you to whoever suggested it to me!

message 30: by Nileema (last edited Jan 14, 2018 10:02AM) (new)

Nileema | 150 comments January: Tribute to Linda
Book: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
Reason: On Linda's 'read' shelf, rated 4 stars.
Rating: 3.5 rounded to 4 stars

I’m still vacillating over whether to give 3 or 4 stars to this thoughtful and well-written book that is so very relevant in today’s world. The way in which Hamid weaves a story that reflects both the unique paths of each individual and the larger shifts in society that occur in response to evolving context leaves a lasting impression.

Initially, I found the sentence structure formed a barrier, preventing me from fully immersing myself in to the context of the story. Within pages, however, I was converted and relished the lyrical prose with which Hamid writes. Insights and musings on the shape of society in the changing world of his novel, which reflects our own so sharply, are delivered with poignancy. I lingered over certain passages, re-reading them in order to savor them better.

I did, however, feel that the narrative style kept the protagonists at arms length which detracted from the overall impact. Although, as the book went on, I did feel more and more connected to the characters. For me, the magical realism element neither diminished nor added to the overall poignancy and impact of the book.

Ultimately, this was worth reading and has left me with plenty to think about along with some unforgettable prose.

message 31: by JoLene (new)

JoLene (trvl2mtns) | 1532 comments January: Tribute to Linda
Book: A Gentleman in Moscow
Reason: Favorite of Linda's and the genre of historical fiction that both of us love!

Cross-Posted to Jan - Other books.
I am a bit torn on this review as you will see if you read through it. I loved the premise of this novel. Count Alexander Rostov is Russian nobility, which is not a good thing once the Tzar is overthrown. He actually returns to Russia just after the February Revolution because of his love of country. The novel opens with him being sentenced to a "house arrest" --- this is actually in place of being shot. What saves him is that fact that he authored a poem in his younger years which seemed like he was sympathetic the cause of the rebellion. And in fact, his "house" was the Hotel Metropol, a grand hotel in the middle of Moscow.

Things that I loved about the book --- the writing was fantastic. Towles is able to take an ordinary scene and tie in philosophical, historical and artistic references that add an extra layer to his writing. While the setting is confined to the hotel, Rostov has a ringside seat to about 50 years of Russian history. I greatly enjoyed this aspect of the book. In addition, the staff and regular guests of the hotel provide both humorous and poignant interactions with the Count. The relationships that he formed provided the heart of the story. All of these things really made it a 5 star read for me.

However.......Sort of SPOILERS to the end of the book, looking back through the story, I felt like this is almost of the story of an 'American' gentleman in Moscow. Towles is an American writer and while I think he captured well the history and feeling of living at the grand hotel. The actual character of the count seemed a bit too plucky and quick to accept his lot in life --- for example, by becoming a waiter. I realize that the point was how the Count change to become a "man of purpose", but that seems to be more of an American ideal than a Russian one. This didn't decrease my enjoyment of the story/writing but this year, I am trying to read more diversely. While I don't read about Russia very often, and would normally consider a book about a country in Eastern Europe as diverse, I just didn't feel this qualified for the reasons outlined.

message 32: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5641 comments January - Tribute to Linda
Book: Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
Reason: On Linda's TBR (and what a surprise that I read a book before she does!)

Killers of the Flower Moon The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann
Killers of the Flower Moon – David Grann – 4****
Wow. I am ashamed to say that I knew nothing of this shameful episode of American history. Grann did a marvelous job researching and reporting his findings. He did more than simply report what the FBI managed to uncover, and that only emphasizes how institutionalized the racist attitudes were.
LINK to my review

Mindy aka serenity | 115 comments January
Book: The Sparrow
Reason: Linda has read it
Rating: 3 stars

I wish I hadn't read this book. The prose was beautiful, don't get me wrong, even if the plot development was a little, ok a lot, slow in some places. My problem is that I came to love each of the main characters so when the end came I was devastated. I also wanting more detail on each character's personal end. That part seemed wrapped up a little too quickly for something that took forever to develop. This is not a happy book by any means. It deals with some tough questions about faith, morality, community, destiny, duty. When I discovered why one character had lost his faith, I felt that loss right along with him. I feel bereft and hollow and profoundly sad because of this book. I don't think anything can prepare you for how you will feel by the end. There are things about it that I wish would never had entered my head. So while it produced so much feeling in me, I wish I hadn't read this.

message 34: by JoLene (new)

JoLene (trvl2mtns) | 1532 comments Mindy aka serenity wrote: "January
Book: The Sparrow
Reason: Linda has read it
Rating: 3 stars

I wish I hadn't read this book. The prose was beautiful, don't get me wrong, even if the plot development was a li..."

There is a 2nd book that does wrap up some things. I think it's called Children of God or Children of Men

message 35: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8292 comments Shoot, I just realized that I had put this in the wrong thread. Nicole just caught it too.... Sorry, because that is a three PBT duplicate. Two for the decathlon threads and the third for "Other Books." Forgive my mistake. Thanks. Maybe i just delete from the wrong thread once this flies?

Here is is: my Lady Linda read: Eleanor Olliphant is Completely Fine. 4.5 Stars. Linda actually handpicked this one from a list of 8 on her shelves that I presented. I was secretly glad. It was probably the one I would have picked myself of the same top three she suggested.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine

I'm having a tough time figuring out how to review this book. The rating was the easy part. Yet, I can't say I enjoyed it as much as others did. I had some trepidations starting it - given my work, I felt that the content within would hold similarities to the struggles of people I work with incredibly intimately, and that it would be incredibly painful for me to read, given my closeness with the struggles of certain patients. I wasn't wrong about that. The similarity was obvious and painful. The trouble was that Eleanor resembled more than just one, but she resembled more than a few, whose histories are incredibly dark and painful, and whose social interactions are so compromised that relating and engaging on a human level is nearly impossible. Yet, I stayed up near the whole night to finish it, and grabbed a few winks at 2AM. Mental health related challenges can be an extremely hard read, but even more so, when it is what you do every day. I read to escape, and this ride did not feel like an escape. It was well written and witty, but also dark and troubling.

Here I go again, coming in just underneath the rave. That seems to be my signature these days. Onto The Other Queen by Phillipa Gregory, which will be a nice escape. Plus, its almost overdue at the library, coming up on its 9 weeks, and it fulfills a Listopia Challenge for me, as well as is on my list of the books I had wanted to knock off or had my eye on for myself for last year. So I begin that today. Given that its a historical fiction in The Tudor era, I could have used that for Linda as well. I'm sort of also considering that in her honor, even though I won't get the decathlon points for it. Linda, thank you for your years of service. And for a great month celebrating you.

message 36: by Ladyslott (new)

Ladyslott | 1880 comments Jen wrote: "January
Book: Before the Fall by
Reason: Was on Linda's "read" shelf
4 stars
This was my first book of 2018 and overall an engaging and fun read. Before the Fall is a literary suspense novel by No..."

Noah Hawley is a screenwriter, and although I enjoyed the book, it definitely read like a movie of the week. I'm glad you liked it.

message 37: by Ladyslott (last edited Jan 17, 2018 09:36AM) (new)

Ladyslott | 1880 comments annapi wrote: "January
Book: I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley
Reason: Was on Linda's read shelf

Rating: 4 stars

Precocious 11-year-old amateur chemist and sleuth Flavia de Luce..."

I love Flavia. If you do audio I recommend them, I like them more than the books. Jayne Entwhistle does a great job.

message 38: by Ladyslott (new)

Ladyslott | 1880 comments Crumb wrote: "Book: Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Reason: I didn't know Linda, but I did see that she was a big fan of NY and a big part of this book takes place in NY. So I read ..."

This was the first book I read by her, I'm glad you liked it.

I am a big fan of New York - especially NYC since I have lived by entire life either in the city or 25 minutes outside the city - but still in NY.

message 39: by Ladyslott (new)

Ladyslott | 1880 comments Book Concierge wrote: "January - Tribute to Linda
Book: Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
Reason: On Linda's TBR (and what a surprise that I read a book before she doe..."

It's coming up very soon since it finally came in from the library. After reading your review I am looking forward to reading the book.

message 40: by Ladyslott (new)

Ladyslott | 1880 comments Mindy aka serenity wrote: "January
Book: The Sparrow
Reason: Linda has read it
Rating: 3 stars

I wish I hadn't read this book. The prose was beautiful, don't get me wrong, even if the plot development was a li..."

I wasn't a fan of the book either.

message 41: by Ladyslott (new)

Ladyslott | 1880 comments Amy wrote: "Shoot, I just realized that I had put this in the wrong thread. Nicole just caught it too.... Sorry, because that is a three PBT duplicate. Two for the decathlon threads and the third for "Other Bo..."

I responded to this elsewhere.

message 42: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 8128 comments Oh, shoot! I thought I'd posted something here to this effect, but it looks like I only posted it over in the Listopia thread! So, I'm adding it here, as well. :-)

"Just wanted to add to please also add your books for this challenge to our group Bookshelf!

I don't manually shelve the yearly challenge books for everyone, so please head to the Bookshelf and add them yourselves (including adding the tag once you've added the book to the shelf)!

Thank you!"

message 43: by Nicole (new)

Nicole | 428 comments January: Tribute to Linda

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier
3 Stars.

I picked this book up because it hit a number of my goals:

- Jan. Tag: science
- Jan. Decathlon: on Linda's shelf.
- PBT 2010 Top 10

Overall, I enjoyed the story; it was an easy and relatively quick read. Especially compared to the heavy non-fiction I was reading in December. The science aspect of the book was interesting, though I would have appreciated more of that and less of "females are so oppressed and can't do anything" aspect of the book. Thank goodness Elizabeth finally found her grounding by the end of the book. Still, I rather prefer the gumption and fire of Miss Austen's Elizabeth.

I agree with Kate when she mentioned that the book lost a bit of steam with the two women had a falling out. Again, for me there just wasn't enough focus on the science at that point. But hey, that personal preference.

Overall, still an enjoyable read and a solid 3 stars for me. Would suggest to anyone who is interested in paleontology and who may need a bit of a book palate cleanser.

message 44: by Rachel N. (new)

Rachel N. | 1441 comments JANUARY

Book: The Last Coyote by Michael Connelly 4 stars

Why it fits: Linda said this is her favorite series. Linda read this and also gave it four stars

Harry Bosch is on suspension from the Hollywood Homicide Division and he has to attend therapy sessions. his house has also been condemned due to an earthquake. Harry decides it's time to investigate the murder of his mother, who was a prostitute, back in 1961. I like the character of Bosch and appreciate the deeper look into his childhood. I thought I had the crime all figured out but the ending threw me for a loop. I look forward to continuing this series.

message 45: by Lisa (new)

Lisa (spirolim) | 178 comments January
Book: Rebecca, by Daphne Du Maurier
Reason: was on Ladyslott's "Read" shelf

3.5 stars

I hated this book when I first started it. It felt too meandering, with multiple redundant phrases, and what felt like ridiculous characters. The narrating character (a young woman who becomes the next Mrs. DeWinter) seemed rather foolish to me, and I didn't like Mr. DeWinter at all.

Things started improving, however, once I got past the first 1/4 of the book. Then I started to get into it more and more. The narrator still seemed a bit foolish, but I began to feel more forgiving with her character. I enjoyed the writing more and more as well. Plus the plot got more and more intriguing.

By the end of the novel I was hanging on to every word. It turned out to be an interesting story after all.

People have labeled this book as a romantic thriller. That seems to fit this book perfectly. Alfred Hitchcock also made a movie based on this book, so you can easily imagine what this story is like.

A some point I plan on reading this book again. I definitely misjudged it when I first read it, so it's seems only fair that I give it a second chance sometime years from now. It seems like it would be worth the effort.

message 46: by Jeremiah (new)

Jeremiah Cunningham | 691 comments January
Reason: Linda recommended the series, and she has read this book and gave it four stars.

The Black Echo by Michael Connelly
4 out of 5 Stars
January Decathlon Challenge
Listopia Challenge

I picked up this book as part of the decathlon and listopia challenges in this group, but also because the works of Michael Connelly were on my list of mystery works which I had never read. I can say without hesitation that I am very glad that I have chosen not only to read this book but multiple works of Michael Connelly during 2018.

The Positives of The Black Echo
My first and simplest test for a mystery work is whether or not the twist and turns are too obvious. At first, in reading this particular work I thought I was going to be disappointed because the first twist was just two obvious. However, and without spoilers, the second twist caught me by surprise. I was pleasantly surprised by this portion of the book.

While the last twist was not the most believable, it was the least obvious. Furthermore, I liked that the last twist left me disappointed in a character. I always appreciate an author that is willing to leave a reader disappointed in one of his/her characters. This fact alone makes me want to read more of the works of Michael Connelly.

Finally, a positive for me with this book was generally how cleanly it was written. Not only was their a lack of unnecessary profanity and sexuality, which was refreshing, but there was also a distinct lack of unnecessary details. I truly appreciate the skill of an author that does not rely on profanity and sexuality but really appreciate one who recognizes unnecessary detail and eliminates it from his/her writing.

The Negatives of The Black Echo
For me, the biggest downside of this book, and I assume the Michael Connelly works in general is the lack of chapters. The book is divided into fairly lengthy sections which makes it hard to find easy stopping places when reading off and on during the day.

In regards to the story, I really did not have any negatives. It was really enjoyable and well developed. Again, I would highly recommend the book.

message 47: by Kelly (new)

Kelly | 783 comments January - Linda Reading List Challenge

Born a Crime - Trevor Noah

Born a Crime Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

4 stars

In the book Born A Crime, author Trevor Noah writes of his life in South Africa. He is of mixed race and under apartheid this was illegal. Noah tells of his religious mother and growing up being poor. He shows how his country was affected both before and after apartheid.

Noah struggles growing up, but he found ways to get by. He was the funny one, the guy hustling and starting his own businesses. He learned the importance of communication and his being able to speak in different South African languages, as well as English, served to his advantage. This helped him be viewed as someone who understands others and fit in, where initially he was seen as different due to his mixed race. He covers serious topics. He had a clear writing style that is honest and humorous. It is hard to put down.

message 48: by Joi (new)

Joi (missjoious) | 3782 comments January Theme: Linda
January Book: Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens
3 Stars

Teetering between 3-4 stars. The psychological thriller-ness of this novel is a strong 4 stars. But I had a serious problem with the assumptions made with the ending. Enough to knock it down a whole star.

This book is in two parts. The first part flip flops between Lindsey in the past, meeting her now ex-husband and their relationship. And recent times- 10 years later and her ex husband is getting out of jail. The second part flip flips in modern times between Lindsey, and her daughter Sophie- building a relationship with both her father, and a boy in school. This book is mainly about relationships- the complication that crime can put on a family. Can someone really change after years in prison? How much can we trust those who are close to us? How does abuse effect future relationships for the victim?

The plot moves quickly, there is always something going on, new information being built, and the book is driven this way. I really liked the twist, I actually thought (view spoiler). There is alot I REALLY appreciated about this that does more than just normal psychological thrillers- it shows the aftermath. It shows the daughter of a torn family going into her first relationship, and how her struggles with her dad effect her dating life. I appreciate that it shows the after of an abuse victim-the paranoia, the struggle even after someone has been convicted.

But damn the overlooking of a pretty major plot point in the end tying together made me MAD. (view spoiler)

message 49: by Kszr (new)

Kszr | 172 comments January: A book on Linda's Read Shelf
Book: Beartown by Fredrik Backman
My Rating: 5 stars (Linda's Rating: 5 stars)
This is my first challenge, so I am excited to start on this journey!

Full review in other thread, but this was a departure from the other books I have read by Backman. The story opens with a teenager loading a gun and putting it to someone's head, and then you have a full story before you figure out who is holding the gun to whomever's head. The characters are fully fleshed out, and the writing is so clear that you can "see" the movie in your head easily. The twist on an old story of hero worship, choosing sides and knowing right from wrong is old, but you end up rooting for these people, and feeling so vested in them making the "right" decisions. Highly recommend this.

message 50: by Amy (new)

Amy | 8292 comments KSZ - I see you! You joined us and wrote a review. So glad you’re jumping into this realm. I look forward to seeing more of your reviews and catching up with you. Nice to see familiar faces.

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