The Boys in the Boat:

boys1The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics
by Daniel James Brown
2013 / 418 pages
read by Edward Herrmann
rating – 9 / nonfiction history

This book has had amazing reviews at Audible as well as in the media and a friend whose reading tastes I respect recommended it  – I’m just now getting to it.

In 1935 and 1936,  while Adolph Hitler was organizing his new regime in Germany,  producing propaganda, deploying his rearmament  into tender parts of Europe,  enforcing the new Nuremberg laws, as well as secretly building future concentration camps,  and while United States and Western Europe were struggling in the depths of the Great Depression,  the University of Washington was readying its rowing team for the next season.   This book is about that team and how it was developed and trained and eventually went from being a group of  back-water boys from a relatively unknown school to winning a Gold Medal in rowing at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin – same  year Jessie Owens won the gold medal for the spring and long jump.  >>>>MORE>>>>

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Booker Short LIst and my pick –

bookerAgain – this is the official Short List:
Marlon James (Jamaica)       A Brief History of Seven Killings
Tom McCarthy (UK)               Satin Island 
Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria)       The Fishermen 
Sunjeev Sahota (UK)               The Year of the Runaways
Anne Tyler (US)                       A Spool of Blue Thread 
Hanya Yanagihara (US)            A Little Life 

And I’m still torn –  The best novels of the bunch are the James and the Yanagihara – but the James is unsparingly violent and the Yanagihira is thoroughly emotionally manipulative as well as structured like pornography (the abuse parts get worse and worse and worse until the grand finale).

Meanwhile,  Satin Island is pretty experimental.  Tyler is quite sweet.  Obioma is good and really almost there and I’m wondering … but I’ve not read The Year of the Runaways – (not available in the States) and nobody has it as a favorite – we’ll see.

I guess I’ll go with the James but … sigh –

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The Case of the Late Pig

caseofpigThe Case of the Late Pig
by Margery Allingham
1937 / 170 pages (Kindle – no pages)
#9 in the Albert Campion series
rating B-  / classic crime (amateur sleuth who-done-it)

Chosen by a group (never would have done this one on my own).  Allingham is an English author I’d never heard of before but would definitely have enjoyed in my Agatha Christie days.  This book in the series of 9 was made into a BBC show.

First, this is not a farm book,  the “Pig”  in the title is a person,  a man who is not liked by his acquaintances because of his less than honorable dealings.  No one likes him.  Campion goes to his funeral in January because he seemed to have been invited by a strange note.  Then the following June he is called to a murder scene at a men’s club and – huh? Pig has been murdered there and it turns out several of the other men had bad feelings toward him.  >>>>MORE>>>>

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The Suspect

thefallThe Suspect
by John Lescroart
2007 / (321 pages)
read by David Colacci 11h 11m
rating/ A- / legal thriller
(Stand alone but may be a series)

I’m working my way through the Dismas Hardy novels from Audible whieh are read by David Colacci – picky, picky.   And although Hardy plays a role in The Suspect.  he’s not the lead detective or lawyer – that role is taken by Gina Roake, a woman partner newly returned to firm.   It’s considered a “stand alone” although it might be the start of a new series or #15 1/2 in the Hardy series – Hardy’s law firm is present in several persons.

Anyway,  it’s standard Lescroart in that Dr. Carolyn Dryden and her husband, Stuart Gorman are an up-scale San Francisco couple.  He is the author of popular outdoors books while she is a pricey doctor. They have one child who has recently left for college and now Carolyn wants a divorce.  But instead she is found dead, apparently murdered, in the hot-tub while he is away for a weekend at a cabin in the mountains. Stuart obviously did it according to the police but Gina certainly has doubts.  >>>>MORE>>>>

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Living with Your Kids is Murder

livingwithLiving with Your Kids is Murder
by Mike Befeier
2009 / 381 pages
read by Jerry Sciarrio 7h 14m
rating – B / very cozy crime –
(#2 in the Paul Jacobson Geezer-lit series)

This is pure cozy crime starring Paul Jacobson, an 80-something man who calls himself an “old codger,” etc.   This time when he goes to live with his only son in Boulder, Colorado he gets himself involved in a murder and several other crimes – some petty,  some not.  Paul’s serious problem is short term memory loss – everything from the day prior is erased during the night.  This presents a lot of problems – like he has no idea where that money came from.  Keeping a daily journal to remind himself of what happened the day prior helps a lot.  He has a girlfriend from the 1st book in the series and she appears.  >>>>MORE>>>>

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Challenges update –

Taking my cue from Dagny who posted an update on her 2015 Reading Challenges on her Madame Vauquer site I’m hereby posting mine.   I did better than I thought.  The method to my madness is that I don’t usually go out of my way to pick up books specifically for the Challenges – one or two books maybe – mostly I just try to keep track of what I read for reading groups and on my own.

The Challenges and the progress to date – (and what do I have to do before 12/31?) :


booker**** BECKY’S BOOKER PRIZE CHALLENGE!  – from ME!   To read all the books on the 2015 Long List prior to the Short List  being announced – my own personal little challenge – took about a month for 8 books (I’d read two prior and 3 were not available)   and my blog page on this is HERE!  


** Challenge:   to read and blog about at least six books in 2015, with the following stipulations:

Progress Page is HERE!



classics**** CLASSICS CHALLENGE   From – The Pretty Books Blog:    Challenge:   to read one classic book per month in 2015 and, if you want to, blog about your experience (including):  –
Progress Page is HERE –  missed March but got all the other months with 2 read in April,  3  in May and 2 in June. So far 12 books read but I want to finish October, November and December.


images**** FAVORITE SERIES & NEW AUTHORS  Sponsored by Mystery Addicts

Challenge:   to read one book each month by an author you haven’t read before (one book each month for 12 months).

** Progress Page is HERE:  –  yup – one a month (at least)


taleoftwo**** HISTORICAL FICTION CHALLENGE  sponsored by Passages to the Past

** Challenge:  To read at the “Ancient History” level – 25 books of historical fiction

** Progress Page is HERE –  I’ve read 15 out of the 25 –  (I upped the difficulty level by making my rule that the author had to be born after the events or setting portrayed. –  Took off about 7 due to that – authors born in the 1950s writing about the 1960s, etc.  That’s mostly memoir and current events, imo.


africa-political-map**** AFRICA READING CHALLENGE
by Kinna Reads:

Challenge:   To read 5 books from or about Africa – fiction or nonfiction – I’ve added from 1 from each of 5 geographic areas.

** Progress Page is HERE   – missing North Africa and Central Africa –  I have Karnak’s Cafe for North Africa – by Naguib Mahfouz but nothing for Central Africa –   If I can’t find something I’ll try to get one from somewhere else.

That’s it folks – now to fill in some blanks –   3 months left –

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The Heart Goes Last

heartgoesThe Heart Goes Last
by Margaret Atwood  (Canadian)
2015/ 320 pages
read by Cassandra Campbell & Mark Deakins 12h 10m
rating 7.5  / literary dystopian fiction

I’ve read 8 of Atwood’s 16 novels – the ones I’ve read are all different and range in genre from historical fiction to contemporary fiction to sci-fi –  I think most of her more recent works might be considered sci-fi  in the dystopian setting sense of the genre but The Penelopiad (2006) takes place in the time of Homer’s Ulysses.  But I did so enjoy the Maddaddam Trilogy,  Blind Assassin,  and Alias Grace.

The Heart Goes Last , more along the lines of The Handmaid’s Tale mixed with Oryx and Crake  could take place next year if Wall Street and the entire economy were to go belly-up.  Homelessness, crime and poverty run amok.  Stan, a robotics engineer,  and his wife Charmaine, who works in geriatrics,  are both unemployed,  live out of their old car while she waitresses in a seedy barroom for eating money.  Their main concern is the various thieves who want the car.   >>>>MORE>>>> 

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