Washington Square by Henry James

Title: Washington Square, Author: Henry James Washington Square. Finished 9-10-19, 4/5, classic, 199 pages, pub. 1880

The plot of Washington Square has the simplicity of old-fashioned melodrama: a plain-looking, good-hearted young woman, the only child of a rich widower, is pursued by a charming but unscrupulous man who seeks the wealth she will presumably inherit. On this premise, Henry James constructed one of his most memorable novels, a story in which love is answered with betrayal and loyalty leads inexorably to despair.”  from Goodreads

“Try and make a clever woman of her, Lavinia; I should like her to be a clever woman.”

Mrs. Penniman, at this, looked thoughtful a moment.  “My dear Austin,” she then inquired, “do you think it is better to be clever than to be good?”

“Good for what?” asked the Doctor.  “You are good for nothing unless you are clever.”

But, sadly, Catherine is not clever and never quite manages to gain the respect of her father no matter how much she tries.  She is quiet and meek, but a spinster.  In 1840’s New York City a 21 year old woman has been passed over quite a few times already, especially if her father is a well respected physician and she stands to inherit quite a bit of money someday.  So when Morris Townsend, a handsome family friend, pays attention to her, love comes quick for the young woman.

Dr. Sloper distrusts Morris immediately.  Morris finds that his charm doesn’t  work on the good doctor, but does exceedingly well with Catherine’s companion, her aunt Lavinia.  Catherine is torn between a handsome man and an overbearing one.  What lengths will the two men go to for Catherine’s affection and loyalty?

This slim classic tells a timeless story that is still being played out 140 years later.  Catherine was an unusual heroine given that she had no real sparkle or cleverness.  The end was somewhat unexpected and made me look at her in a different way and I appreciated that considering that I wanted to give a shake more than once while reading.  I liked this one quite a bit.

This is   my 29th selection for the Classics Club challenge.  I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Title: The Giver, Author: Lois Lowry The Giver. Finished 9-8-19, YA classic, 4.25/5 stars, pub. 1993

The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.  From bn.com

Jonas lives in a world with no violence, no poverty, no starvation, but also no passion, no color and no choices.  The Elders decide what your role in the community will be.  They may take your interests into consideration but the decision is theirs, not yours.  Jonas, has had a few instances of something otherworldly happening to him and is assigned one of the most honored positions in the community, but it comes with a heavy price.

I loved the world building and character development in this slim book.  Lowry managed to paint a stark picture and tell a cautionary tale while making it the perfect size for children.  I’m excited to read this one with Gage.  I admit that I didn’t care for the ending, but I understand there are two more books after this one that continue the story.

I watched the movie years ago when it came out but don’t remember much about it so I’m looking forward to watching it again now that I know the story.

This is the 1994 Newbery Medal winner and  my 28th selection for the Classics Club challenge.  I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.


Some Firsts

Last month when I read a book a day I decided to give a few series a try.  I read four and although I liked them all I will probably only continue with one or maybe two of them.

Naked in Death (In Death #1) Naked In Death by JD Robb. Finished 9-30-19, 4/5 stars, mystery, pub. 1995

First in the In Death series featuring Eve Dallas.

New York City in 2058 is fairly recognizable.  The skies are full of transports around town and to other planets, but the mechanics of human living are not so different.  Except that guns are no longer the killers they are today.    When guns show up in a new series of murders involving legal ‘companions’ it’s an anomaly and Eve Dallas, ten years in the force is faced with political pressure like she’s never known.  Passion like she’s never known too.

This was great for car listening and I look forward to more of Eve and Rourke.

Borderlands (Inspector Devl... Borderlands by Brian McGilloway. Finished 9-23-19, mystery, 4/5 stars, pub. 2007

First in the Inspector Devlin series.

A girl’s body is found in the borderlands, and area between north and south Ireland where jurisdiction can go either way.  When Inspector Devlin gets the case he must sort through a lot of suspects and events from 30 years ago that touch way too close to home.  He’s has a bit of a roving eye (and lips) but his wife seems able to overlook it, bless her.  The mystery was complicated, but good.

I liked it, but it reminded me a bit too much of the Inspector Rebus series to continue with right now.  (Yes, this is Ireland and Rebus is Scotland, but they feel similar)

A Share in Death (Duncan Ki... A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie.  Finished 9-26-29, 3.5/5, mystery, pub. 1993

First in the Kincaid and James mystery series.

Duncan Kincaid is a Scotland Yard Superintendent, something he wants to keep quiet on his vacation to a Yorkshire timeshare.  But, as sometimes happens, a man is electrocuted in a hot tub and Kincaid is first on the scene.  And while he’s looking into that another person is killed and he’s living in a house of suspects.  He calls is his assistant, Gemma James, for some long distance help and the two try and figure it out before someone else gets murdered.

It was fun and it’s possible I continue, but I may try and read the print if I do and see if I like it better.  There were a lot of people to keep track while I was driving.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox ... The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson. Finished 9-14-19, 3.5/5 stars, YA, 265 pages, pub. 2008

First in the Jenna Fox Chronicles

Jenna is 17 and has just woken from a coma.  She is at home in California, but she has no memory.  Her dad is across the country, her grandmother seems to dislike her a great deal and her mother wants her to watch videos from when she was a child to see if she can remember.  This book addressed a lot of issues about what it means to be human and what a parent would do to keep their child alive.  Is this where we are headed in the future?  It seems like many of these questions are being played out in real life so it’s possible.

I’m glad I read it, but don’t have a desire to continue and even wonder how it could continue given the ending.




Inspector Rebus

Last year I read Knots and Crosses, the first Inspector Rebus mystery and really fell in love with the dark side of Edinburgh.  I loved Rebus as well, but was concerned about his health, mental and physical.  Then author Ian Rankin came to town and charmed me into reading the next in the series, Hide and Seek and, well, a fan was born.  I actually thought both of these next in the series were better than the first two.

Tooth and Nail by Ian Rankin Tooth & Nail. Finished 9-2-19, 4.25/5 stars, mystery, 277 pages, pub. 1992

Inspector Rebus #3

Drafted down to the Big Smoke thanks to a supposed expertise in the modus operandi of serial killers, Inspector John Rebus is on a train south from Edinburgh. His Scotland Yard opposite number, George Flight, isn’t too happy at yet more interference. It’s bad enough having several Chief Inspectors on your back without being hounded at every turn by an upstart Jock. Rebus is going to have to deal with racial prejudice as well as the predations of a violent maniac. When he’s offered a serial killer profile of the Wolfman by an attractive lady psychologist, it’s too good an opportunity to turn down. But in finding an ally, he may have given his enemies an easy means of attack.   from Goodreads

It was fun see see Rebus take Edinburgh to London to track down a serial killer.  He also let himself get into a bit of hot water with a beautiful woman who has insinuated her way into the case.  I liked seeing Rebus form a friendship with one of the good guys and a real relationship with his distant daughter.


Strip Jack by Ian Rankin Strip Jack. Finished 9-13-19, 4.25/5 stars, mystery, 269 pages, pub. 1992

Inspector Rebus #4

When respected MP Gregor Jack is caught in a police raid on an Edinburgh brothel and his flamboyant wife Elizabeth suddenly disappears, John Rebus smells a set-up. And when Elizabeth’s badly beaten body is found, Rebus is suddenly up against a killer who holds all the cards..    from Goodreads

This one has a lot of connected people and their relationships held the key to figuring out what was behind the raid of a brothel that caused a pristine politician to be caught up in the snare.

What’s so great about George Orwell’s Animal Farm?

Title: Animal Farm, Author: George Orwell Animal Farm. Finished 9-9-19, 3/5, classic, pub. 1945

Unabridged audio read by Ralph Cosham. 3 hours.

A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. Thus the stage is set for one of the most telling satiric fables ever penned –a razor-edged fairy tale for grown-ups that records the evolution from revolution against tyranny to a totalitarianism just as terrible.
When Animal Farm was first published, Stalinist Russia was seen as its target. Today it is devastatingly clear that wherever and whenever freedom is attacked, under whatever banner, the cutting clarity and savage comedy of George Orwell’s masterpiece have a meaning and message still ferociously fresh.   from Goodreads

This is not a hypothetical question.  I want to know what you loved about Animal Farm.  It’s a still widely read beloved classic, but when I finished it I was so happy it was over and it was only 3 hours! Maybe listening to it all in one day without time for introspection wasn’t the most fair treatment of this dystopian oldie.  So, I’m asking you to sell me on those pigs.  Was I rooting against them?  Of course!  Did I almost shed a tear at Boxer’s end?  Yes!  Did I need to read a study guide at the same time to appreciate it?  You tell me.  And yes, I ‘get’ everything in the above description 🙂

Tell me what you loved the most…

This was my 27th selection for the Classics Club challenge.  I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.

I Had Seen Castles by Cynthia Rylant

I Had Seen Castles I Had Seen Castles, 4.5/5, YA, 128 pages, pub. 1993

John Dante is seventeen when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, and he wants to fight for his country. But then he falls head over heels for Ginny Burton, who is against all war, and his beliefs are suddenly questioned. Rather than be judged a traitor or a coward, though, John enlists–a decision that changes his life forever.   from Goodreads

I picked up this book last month because of the length and the fact that I could add it to my Classics Challenge so I really didn’t even know anything about it.  I was so moved my this novella.  It was so engrossing and really pulled the heartstrings.  If you are talking to kids about war or the military this would be a great read, as long as you are okay with one sex scene and one drunken night.

It’s Pittsburgh in 1939 and there’s a war going on but when Japan attacks Pearl Harbor all the boys, including 17 year old John Dante, know that signing up is what they must do.  John has to wait until he turns 18 and during that time he meets Ginny, his first love, who is against war of any kind.  They don’t let that keep them apart and until the day John ships off you are hoping love prevails.

This book runs the gamut of the realities of war and the validity of it: the all consuming patriotism after an attack, the pressure to join the military, the feeling of being a hero, the bloody reality of war and the aftermath when you learn to live with what you’ve done.  And to Rylant’s credit she also brought to light what happens to the women.  John’s mom goes to work and he resents it and his sister was perhaps the most interesting character to me and I won’t say more.  I would read her story in a heartbeat.

Obviously a lot of love for this one.  This was my 26th selection for the Classics Club challenge.  I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.

Tommy and Tuppence

A few years ago I signed up for the reading challenge where I thought I was going to read all the Agatha Christie novels.  In order of publication.  Yes, 80 of them including her short story collections.  I didn’t get very far, but I remember reading the first Tommy and Tuppence book, The Secret Adversary, and loving it.  So, my own challenge to myself was to read the rest of those.  After reading two last month I only have one left.

Title: Partners in Crime (Tommy and Tuppence Series), Author: Agatha Christie Partners in Crime. Finished 9/2019, 4.25/5 stars, mystery, 347 pages, pub. 1929

Tommy and Tuppence Beresford were restless for adventure, so when they were asked to take over Blunt’s International Detective Agency, they leapt at the chance. After their triumphant recovery of a pink pearl, intriguing cases kept on coming their way: a stabbing on Sunningdale golf course; cryptic messages in the personal columns of newspapers; and even a box of poisoned chocolates.  from Goodreads

They’ve been married six years and Tuppence is bored.  Tommy still works for the agency, but Tuppence wants more out of her life.  And, out of nowhere, an opportunity to aid their country appears and the two become sleuths, ‘owners’ of their own detective agency.  This was a series of short mysteries they solved, each while taking on the persona of a classic detective.  It was fun.

Title: N or M? (Tommy and Tuppence Series), Author: Agatha Christie N or M. Finished 9/2019, 4.25/5 stars, mystery, 304 pages, pub. 1941

The final words of the dying man…the code names of Hitler’s most dangerous agents…the mysterious clue that sends Tommy and Tuppence to a seaside resort on a mission of wartime intelligence. But not as husband and wife. As strangers, meeting by chance, setting an elaborate trap for an elusive killer.  from Goodreads

Tommy and Tuppence are older, with grown children now.  Tommy is asked to go north to investigate potential wartime spies, solo this time.  Tuppence doesn’t take kindly to this and as Tommy arrived at the inn he finds her already ensconced with a new identity.  I loved the seaside inn setting and loved their kids having no clue as to how their parents serve their country.



September’s Movies & $ for Charity

With all of the reading I did last month I didn’t have time for movies!  Surprised I managed two.  What about you?  What did you see this month that you’d recommend?

You know the drill, add your 5 words (or less!) to mine in a comment and earn $1 for charity. Once we get to $100 the person with the most reviews will choose the charity. Click here to see the past winners, the charities they chose and the other reviews you can add to. Anyone is welcome to join in at any time.

We’re at $17 right now.  Your charity could be next 

Dogma (movie).jpg Dogma, 1999  (Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Chris Rock, Linda Fiorentino, Salma Hayek, Jason Lee, Alan Rickman, George Carlin, Kevin Smith, Janeane Garofalo, Alanis Morrisette)        Grade C

Fallen angels want back in.

Serenity (2019 poster).png Serenity, 2019 (Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Diane Lane, Djimon Housou, Jason Clarke, Jeremy Strong)   Grade C-

Great cast covered shaky story.


Book a Day Success!

For the fourth year in a row I’ve read a book a day in September and Gage has joined me the last three.  This year we read 26 books, which is right on track considering our road trip.  I plan on writing mini-reviews for them but thought I’d give you a preview…


Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie N or M? by Agatha Christie Tooth and Nail by Ian Rankin Strip Jack by Ian Rankin Devil's Daughter by Lisa Kleypas Anything for You by Kristan Higgins Twisted Prey by John Sandford Mrs. Pollifax Pursued by Dorothy Gilman G is for Gumshoe by Sue Grafton


A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie Borderlands by Brian McGilloway The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson Naked in Death by J.D. Robb The only one I may continue with is the Naked series by JD Robb.


Alice's Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll I Had Seen Castles by Cynthia Rylant Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan Washington Square by Henry James Animal Farm by George Orwell The Giver by Lois Lowry The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum


Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon The Dalai Lama by Carol Kelly-Gangi A Dirt Road to Somewhere by Romona Robinson Ohio Presidents by Dale Thomas Illuminated Life by Joan D. Chittister

A few pics from IG of Gage and I reading our books…


Always a fun month, but now I have time again!

This Week – Is It Really September?

This’ll cover the last two weeks…

Fave pic of the week


Highlights of the week…  They didn’t find anything abnormal in Gage’s 72 hour EEG!  IMG_1782He was a trooper and all three of us appreciated the cards and gifts you sent.  It really did help keep his spirits up.  After he was released we went home and packed and hit the road for the Washington DC area where we played tourists, visited and stayed with old friends and attended a wedding.  I’ll be honest, I was cooked by the end of the week, but it was worth it.

This week has been full of meetings- book club, friends board, event walk-through, but the highlight is that we finally ordered carpet for our family room.  The only room in the house we’ll have carpet.

Could’ve been better…  I feel like I could fill up this section with all of the things, but I will abstain this week because of Gage’s EEG.  They want a follow-up so we’ll see what they suggest next, but I’m feeling positive.

Books read for our September book a day challenge…

If you want daily pics of Gage’s books too you’ll need to follow me on Instagram.  I can barely keep up with reading my book and posting it on there!  We did take 4 days off when we traveled.  Book reviews will happen at some point in the future.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum Tooth and Nail by Ian Rankin N or M? by Agatha Christie The Giver by Lois Lowry Animal Farm by George Orwell  Washington Square by Henry James Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane Devil's Daughter by Lisa Kleypas Strip Jack by Ian Rankin

Plans for the weekend…As much as a quiet weekend appeals to me we have Jason’s company picnic today and then swimming with friends on Sunday.