Benita's Big Bad Book Pile 2022

Diskutera2022 ROOT CHALLENGE

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Benita's Big Bad Book Pile 2022

Redigerat: dec 21, 2022, 4:29 pm

Once again I will attempt to rid my shelves of books that have been sitting around for a very long time. I had a super successful year of ROOTing last year due to the extended Covid lockdowns so I surpassed my goal of 60 books and actually read 106 ROOT's last year. I don't think that we will have all of that time at home in the coming year so I am going to keep my goal for 2021 at a sensible level. I am going to aim for 62 ROOTS - books off my shelf - in 2021.

The books I will be reading will be anything purchased or added to my list before December 31, 2020. The eligible books can also be recorded books. I will add titles to this posting when I finish them and a short review below as I get time to write it. I will be leading the La Serenissima & Dordogne mystery read along challenge and will participate in the Non-fiction category challenge led by Suzanne. I will also monitor and participate in the British Author Challenge and the American Author Challenge when I can. Using these challenges was an effective way for me to get books off of my shelves so I am going to continue to use them as a motivation tool in the coming year to move books off my shelves.

I will use this first spot to index my ROOTS for the year.

1. Circe by Madeline Miller - sound recording - January 3, 2022
2. Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker - January 7, 2022
3. Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal - January 13, 2022
4. Resistance Man by Martin Walker - January 16, 2022
5. Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness - sound recording - January 17, 2022
6. Honey Bus: A Memoir of Loss, Courage and a Girl Saved by Bees by Meredith May - January 21, 2022
7. Pilgrimage to the End of the World: The Road to Santiago De Compostela by Conrad Rudolph - January 23, 2022
8. We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry - January 30, 2022
9. Spy Who Was Left Behind: Russia, the United States and the True Story of the Betrayal and Assassination of a CIA Agent by Michael Pullara - sound recording - January 31, 2022
10. Children Return by Martin Walker - February 15, 2022
11. Frangipani Tree Mystery by Ovidia Yu - February 19, 2022
12. Moonglow by Michael Chabon - sound recording - February 24, 2022
13. Divide: Global Inequality from Conquest to Free Markets by Jason Hickel - February 25, 2022
14. Of Sorrow and Such by Angela Slatter - February 27, 2022
15. Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonders of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery - March 3, 2022
16. Leaving Orbit: Notes From the Last Days of American Spaceflight by Margaret Lazarus Dean - March 9, 2022
17. Witch Elm by Tana French - sound recording - March 12, 2022
18. Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler by John Hendrix - March 14, 2022
19. Spy in Moscow Station: A Counterspy's Hunt For a Deadly Cold War Threat by Eric Haseltine - March 18, 2022
20. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling - sound recording - March 20, 2022
21. Siege of Krishnapur by J. G. Farrell - March 23, 2022
22. Unto Us A Son Is Given by Donna Leon - March 26, 2022
23. Maid by Nita Prose - March 27, 2022
24. Betel Nut Tree Mystery by Ovidia Yu - March 31, 2022
25. 32 Yolks: From My Mothers Table to Working the Line by Eric Ripert - sound recording - April 2, 2022
26. Travels in Vermeer: A Memoir by Michael White - April 4, 2022
27. Stallion Gate by Martin Cruz Smith - April 9, 2022
28. Gunpowder Gardens: Travels Through India and China in Search of Tea by Jason Goodwin - April 16, 2022
29. Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness - sound recording - April 20, 2022
30. Patriarch by Martin Walker - April 22, 2022
31. Daughter of the Morning Star by Craig Johnson - April 24, 2022
32. Persephone Station by Stina Leicht - April 28, 2022
33. Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein's Brain by Michael Paterniti - May 7, 2022
34. Fatal Pursuit by Martin Walker - May 9, 2022
35. Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr - sound recording - May 13, 2022
36. The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler's Germany, 1944-1945 by Ian Kershaw - May 18, 2022
37. Broken For You by Stephanie Kallos - May 21, 2022
38. Paper Bark Tree Mystery by Ovidia Yu - June 2, 2022
39. Who Did It First?: 50 Scientists, Artists, and Mathematicians Who Revolutionized the World by Julie Leung - June 3, 2022
40. Thunderstruck by Erik Larson - sound recording - June 11, 2022
41. Nine Pints: A Journey Through the Money, Medicine and Mysteries of Blood by Rose George - June 14, 2022
42. Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness - sound recording - June 18, 2022
43. When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo - June 19, 2022
44. Trace Elements by Donna Leon - June 20, 2022
45. Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons - June 29, 2022
46. Mold In Dr. Florey's Coat: The Story of the Penicillin Miracle by Eric Lax - July 3, 2022
47. Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore - July 5, 2022
48. Templar's Last Secret by Martin Walker - July 10, 2022
49. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir - sound recording - July 12, 2022
50. Havana Requiem by Paul Goldstein - July 15, 2022
51. You Don't Belong Here: How Three Women Rewrote the Story of War by Elizabeth Becker - July 18, 2022
52. Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal - sound recording - July 23, 2022
53. A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir - sound recording - July 24, 2022
54. A Reaper At the Gates by Sabaa Tahir - sound recording - August 3, 2022
55. Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill by Sonia Purnell - August 7, 2022
56. Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides - sound recording - August 16, 2022
57. Swans of Fifth Avenue by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray - sound recording - September 3, 2022
60. Transient Desires by Donna Leon - September 5, 2022
61. Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir - sound recording - September 19, 2022
62. Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi - sound recording - October 5, 2022
63. Good Lord Bird by James McBride - sound recording - October 11, 2022
64. Ms. and the Material Girls: Perceptions of Women from the 1970s Through the 1990s by Catherine Gourley
65. Mysteries of the Middle Ages: The Rise of Feminism, Science and Art From the Cults of Europe by Thomas Cahill - sound recording - October 21, 2022
66. Coal Miner's Daughter by Loretta Lynn - October 23, 2022
67. Battlefield: Farming a Civil War Battleground by Peter Svenson - October 30, 2022
68. Still Woman Enough: A Memoir by Loretta Lynn - November 3, 2022
69. Beartown by Fredrik Backman - sound recording - November 5, 2022
70. Mimosa Tree Mystery by Ovidia Yu - November 8, 2022
71. All Systems Red by Martha Wells - November 10, 2022
72. Us Against You by Fredrik Backman - sound recording - November 18, 2022
73. Out of the Flames: The Remarkable Story of a Fearless Scholar, A Fatal Heresy, and One of the Rarest Books in the World by Lawrence Goldstone - November 20, 2022
74. Name of All Things by Jenn Lyons - November 30, 2022
75. A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh - sound recording - December 2, 2022
76. House of Sticks: A Memoir by Ly Tran - sound recording - December 11, 2022
77. Shooting at Chateau Rock by Martin Walker - December 13, 2022
78. We Free the Stars by Hafsah Faizel - sound recording - December 16, 2022
79. A Parrot in the Pepper Tree by Chris Stewart - December 19, 2022
80. Third Horseman: Climate Change and the Great Famine of the 14th Century by William Rosen - December 21, 2022

jan 5, 2022, 10:51 am

Hi Benita, good to see you back again for another year of ROOTing. Good luck with your challenge and with all the groups you are participating in. I hope you have a great new year.

jan 5, 2022, 11:06 am

Welcome back and good luck with your ROOT reading! I also like to use challenges to inspire me to pick books up off the shelf, but I rarely read them in the assigned month.

jan 5, 2022, 12:04 pm

Circe by Madeline Miller

I read this book for my Book Discussion Group. We have been reading recently published books that are retellings of ancient Greek myths or history and this book is the groups February 2022 selection. We picked it because "Song of Achilles" was such a hit last last year. This book was not as strong of a story as was the Achilles book. This book did not grab me in the same way that "Song of Achilles" did. It was OK, but it wasn't a stunner like Achilles was. I am not sure why. I listened to the book on the way to Kansas for my Christmas break. The recording was well done and I thought the narrator did a great job. I liked her voice, but somehow the story just didn't grab me. It seemed to not be as coherent of a plot and I think that is because the story of Circe has to be cobbled together from pieces and parts of other tales about heroes, gods, and demi-gods. That alone would make it less cohesive and is probably the cause of my discontent with the plot of this tale.

The strength of the book is in the characterization that the author brings to the story. Circe is not evil. She is a woman who is wronged but circumstances, who does wrong to others, and is a mother who knows the fate that awaits her son. That she is willing to recognize that she has wronged others is her strength.

jan 5, 2022, 3:41 pm

Welcome back, and good luck with your challenges this year!

jan 6, 2022, 2:28 pm

>4 benitastrnad: Nice review. I added the book to my TBR last year, and haven't read it yet. I can see why Circe is a hard person to build a whole novel around since she is not as prominent in Greek mythology and literature as other characters.

Oh, and good luck ROOTing this year!

Redigerat: jan 16, 2022, 7:25 pm

Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker
This book is an example of what a sequel should be. It could almost stand alone as a book and the references to the first book are very subtle and so for somebody who read the first book, very pleasant on the reading spirit. It has been four years since the first book in this series was published Golem and the Jinni and for those who are fans it has been a long wait. In the end the wait was worth it as the book is well written. It ties up loose ends from the first book and creates others so that the reader knows there will be sequels.

As in the first book the characters are wonderful and are supported by a great second tier of characters. The plot also satisfies. As with any book some of the characters grow and some don't. There is life and death in this book. All of it written about in a thoughtful well constructed way. Both the Golem and the Jinni have moved on - each in different ways. Sophia is in the process of moving on and we are introduced to another Jinni who, without a doubt, will play a part in upcoming stories. Sometimes I think the real star of this series is New York City. The neighborhoods and the abundance of varied life in the city around the turn of the 20th century are portrayed with love and loyality. So much so that I was suprised to learn on the book flap that the author lives in San Francisco! I will eagerly be awiting the next book in this series.

Redigerat: jan 16, 2022, 7:31 pm

Erotic Stories For Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal
I got this book at the ALA Midwinter in 2017. A fellow librarian attended the conference with me and she has done a better job of reading the books she got from that conference than I have. She read this book and suggested it for one of our real life book discussion groups so I had no choice but to get the book out of the box and read it. I am glad I did.

This book is an example of what a Chick Lit book should be. It has a bit of everything in it. It has fascinating characters, whose reticense can be exasperating at times, but whose qualities slowly reveal themselves as layers of an onion. It has lots of cultural information and background that is just fascinating to learn about. It has doctrinaire religious fanatics and women who want to be able to make their own choices. It has immigrants and their children who, raised in a different culture find themselves trying to walk in both worlds - often at the same time. It has a mystery that gets solved along the way. Most of all it has humor. Oh - and titilating erotic stories. All of this set in modern London and its suburbs.

What more could a reader ask.

Redigerat: jan 16, 2022, 7:38 pm

Resistance Man by Martin Walker
This is book six in the Bruno, Chief of Police series and it is just as good as the previous books. If this book/series doesn't make you want to take a long visit to the Dordogne region of France - nothing will. This book has more food and wine in it for the goramond readers. It also has lots about the region that makes a reader think "I want to go there and take a long vacation in a getes so I can drink the wine and eat the food!" Packed into this novel is also information about the judicial system in France and intrique that centers around World War II and the Resistance and the Collaborators. It also brings up the fact that the Communists and the Gaulists didn't get along. It also has burgluries, a murder, and an academic flap regarding history and getting history as truthful as possible. What's not to like about a book that has all that? I can't wait to read the next one in this series.

P.S. I read this book on the weekend I got my COVID booster. I had a reaction and had the fever and chills that put me in bed on a rainy cold Saturday where I spent my time dosing and reading. I can tell you from experience that this was a pleasant way to pass a day under those conditions.

Redigerat: jan 26, 2022, 11:07 am

Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
I planned to listen to this book on my drive back to Kansas for Christmas. I had to request it through ILL and it didn't get here in time for me to listen to it on the way home. It came in on January 6. I wanted to listen to the book because the made-for-TV movie version was out on Netflix. I have had the book on my TBR list since 2013 and figured that I should finally read the series. It was popular when it was published (popular enough that somebody stole the first book in the series from our library) and the TV movie was bound to make it even more popular.

I listened to this book and the recording was well done. I also checked out the book, so that I could refer back to it. The book was printed in such a way that it was clear about the "noise." The narration was done in such a way as to make it clear what was noise and what was the actual conversations. This made it a great book to listen to while driving, but it was also nice to be able to see it printed as well.

The story was frustrating at first, but that was intentional on the part of the author. The main character is also frustrated and that is part of the story. Todd is an orphan being raised in an all male society. He is eagerly anticipating his initiation rights that are scheduled for his 13th birthday. Instead, it all goes haywire and Todd is told by his adoptive parents and mentors to run and try to make it to a mysterious place called Haven. He doesn't understand what is going on and it is all a big mystery, but circumstances force him to run and therein lies the tale. As the story progresses it is clear that this is dystopian science fiction and it is one of the better entries in that narrow genre. It is also clear that this is a developing story and that this is not meant to be a stand alone volume. It is also clear that I will continue to listen to this series as I am now intrigued. The novel is full of action and adventure, anger and frustration, and hope and regret. This is an action adventure that is fun reading.

Redigerat: feb 24, 2022, 5:08 pm

Honey Bus by Meredith May
This memoir was an unexpected pleasure to read. I had thought it would be full of information about bees and beekeeping - and it was, but it was also the memoir of a childhood spent growing up in the household of a loving grandparent. In reading this book the reader can't help but love the grandfather just as much as the author did. He spent time with his grandchildren and taught them about the natural world around them and how they could relate that to their life experience. In short he guided his grandchildren and that made him a very special person in Meredith May's life. The book also had lots of information about bees and beekeeping that was fun to read. There were extensive passages about bees, the way they live, and how this relates to human life and events. This was a very nice gentle memoir and reading it was a quieting experience.

jan 26, 2022, 7:18 am

Hi Benita. >9 benitastrnad: That book sounds really good. Not translated and that is a pity.

Redigerat: feb 24, 2022, 5:19 pm

Pilgrimage to the End of the World: The Road to Santiago De Compostela by Conrad Rudolph
I have read other books about the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela that were much more extensive and much more religious and reverent, but this book was full of information about the beginning of the pilgrimage. Turns out that there was more than one road to Santiago and this pilgrim started out in Le Puy en-Velay in the central massif of France. This town was one of the traditional medieval starting points but in modern times most pilgrims start at St. Jean Pied-de-Port. Since I had already read Cees Nooteboom book on the pilgrimage I found the part about the beginning route in France to be of the most interest to me. The middle section of the book was about the journey itself, but it was not a reflection on faith or religion, but it was a reflection of the the author's experiences at a couple of main points on the trip. The last section of the book is about how to prepare for the pilgrimage and full of practical advice for the future pilgrim.

I read this book because over Christmas my sister told me that she had just learned about the pilgrimage and she wants to go it. I was shocked that she didn't know about this most famous pilgrimage and so after I read this book, I purchased a copy for her and sent it to her. For a slim volume this book was packed with useful information.

jan 31, 2022, 4:03 pm

glad you're here!

Redigerat: mar 3, 2022, 10:10 pm

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Berry
This book was the most fun to read! It was a trip down memory lane. It was full of Big Hair, Big Music, Big Shoulders, and Big events. By that I mean that it was full of all kinds of references to the 1980's. The book was set in a Massachusetts high school and the characters were the girls on a women's field hockey team who ended up playing for the state championship in 1989. It was a very fun coming-of-age novel. The book is full of puns and references to the cultural touchstones of the 1980's. The surprising thing is that you can read this book and see the roots of many of the culture wars of today. There is a boy playing on the girls field hockey team. There is the girl who wants nothing more than to leave home and get a job. There is the girl who discovers her mother having sex in a car with another teammates mother. There were debates about a woman's place in the world, and these young women in 1989 take the bull by the horns and make the world into a place where they have so many more choices than they ever dreamed. Along the way the reader gets to read about all those wonderful rock bands and that great music. They get to see sports from a female perspective. They spend an amazing Halloween night when they rock their world and going on the journey with them is so much fun. This is a great good fun read.

Redigerat: mar 3, 2022, 10:21 pm

Spy Who Was Left Behind: Russia, the United States, and the True Story of the Betrayal and Assassination of a CIA Agent by Michael Pullara
I read/listened to this book for the LT Nonfiction Challenge for March 2022. The topic was espionage and counter espionage. I had this book on my TBR list and the Tuscaloosa public library had the recorded version of it, so I decided to listen to it. The story was long and complicated and I am not sure that ever really figured out what happened. The basic story is that an American CIA officer is murdered while on duty in the nation of Georgia. When the CIA and the FBI cover up the murder, and an innocent man is falsely convicted of the murder, an old school friend (Pullara - the author of the book) who is a lawyer in Texas starts to investigate. Eventually, Pullara is able to get the wrongly convicted man released from prison, but the released prisoner's life is ruined. Eventually, Pullara finds the right people in the U. S. who give him some plausible answers and the Georgian government provides some of the other answers. There wasn't much new here, but it was an interesting story about the costs and unintended consequences of seeking justice. The author read this book, and he did a fine job of narration. If real life spy stories are of interest to you then this is a book worth reading. For me it was not a total waste of time, but it was not the kind of book to send me into driveway moments.

"The fact that the case was a big deal to me didn't mean that it was a big deal to the U. S. government. America's opposition to reinvestigation of the Woodruff murder was not based on some baffling antipathy to Anzor Sharmaidze. Rather, that opposition was a very small, perhaps insignificant, part of a much larger U S strategy to achieve a much more important US goal. Anzor was merely collateral damage in a great game of political and diplomatic confrontation." Pg. 223

Redigerat: apr 5, 2022, 5:30 pm

Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking
I read/listened to this book for the Travel Book Discussion group. In this book we traveled to Denmark and get a glimpse of what makes the Danish people so happy. Denmark consistently ranks very high on the World's Happiness Index and this book explains why. It is filled with insights about the culture and what people in Denmark do to preserve the good things in their culture. There is also some reference to things like taxes and why Danes like to pay high taxes and what they get in return. This book provided some good insights into the culture and was a totally unexpected journey into that culture. I thought the book was going to be a journey into psychology, and it is that, but it is also more than that. This was a very good choice for a book discussion and I am sure that when we get to it, it will be a very good discussion. The book was narrated by the author and he did a very good job of reading it. Of course, with his accent he made you feel like you were visiting Denmark and that was a good thing. For those who want to travel to Denmark I am going to recommend this book.

Redigerat: mar 4, 2022, 4:33 pm

Emperor of Ocean Park by Stephen L. Carter
I read this book for my real life Travel Book Discussion group. It was a Big Boy - almost 600 pages - that qualifies it as a tome. It was a slow growing burn, and at times I got impatient with it. I simply wanted it to move faster than it did. It was so detailed that I wanted to scream at it. I am not sure why the author put that much detail into the book, as half of it wasn't needed. I suspect that it was a literary device that was used to create the same tension and frustration for the reader that the hero experienced. Or at least, that is why I think the author wrote the book this way. If he didn't he had an awfully poor editor.

This book was a novel about Black life in a high class Black family. The family has money, political influence, and a certain life style. There were times that I just wanted to scream about the hero's privileged life and lifestyle. He grew up rich and he stayed rich throughout the book. However, he also experienced many microaggressions in his life so some of it I can excuse. However, his sense of privilege created blinders. He never questioned where all of his money came from and that caused him to build a bubble around himself.

This book was written in 2002 and I remember it as a big best seller. I found the book to be strangely prescient in that it so clearly foreshadows many of the discussions that Academe is having about how minorities are treated inside the academic world. The incident with Dr. Henry Lewis Gates, Jr. is foreshadowed in this book when the hero is attacked on campus and when he manages to attract the campus police's attention he is the one under suspicion instead of his attackers. His lack of promotion while others who were hired after him were promoted.

Bottom line - overly long political/legal thriller with a very sophisticated plot and complex puzzle.

Redigerat: mar 3, 2022, 10:25 pm

Children Return by Martin Walker
This is book eight in the Bruno, Chief of Police series by Walker and it is another adventure complete with food, wine, beautiful women, and Bruno getting shot at by the bad guys. In this book the author brings in some character from each of France's major 20th century wars, except for Vietnam, and adds the Afghanistan peace keeping mission by the French into the mix. Each war has its survivors who return to the town of St. Denis and they all meet up for the big climax. Of course, there is plenty of food and wine discussed in the novel as well.

Redigerat: mar 4, 2022, 4:41 pm

Frangipani Tree Mystery by Ovidia Yu
This book was on my TBR list as a result of a BB from Suzanne (Chatterbox). She recommended this mystery series and I concur. I was surprised to find the first volume in this 5 volume series, (so far), was in the local public library. I hope others check it out, as I found it very pleasant reading. This series is set in colonial Singapore in 1936. The heroine is a chinese woman who is also a bad-luck girl. She got polio and her parents died from the disease. As a result of polio she walks with a limp, but she is very smart and observant. She also knows the local culture and provides her English employer with insights he needs to do his job. She is also the granddaughter of the local Chinese mafia leader and so has sources for information among her relatives. These are colorful and pleasant reading. I would class this book as a cozy novel, but I have a feeling that the subsequent novels might get a bit more violent.

Redigerat: mar 1, 2022, 11:00 am

Moonglow by Michael Chabon
I read this book for a group read here on LT. I have read other Chabon novels and have had many enjoyable hours doing so, but this book just never appealed that much to me, even though I had a copy of it sitting in one of my book boxes. The group read was an opportunity to finally get it read.

I like this book and had fun reading/listening to it. I already knew the story of Von Braun and so that part of the book was no surprise to me. What I couldn't figure out was if the book was really a biography of Chabon's grandfather or if it was totally made up. The HarperCollins (the publisher) web site said that it was "tour de force of speculative autobiography in which Chabon devises and reveals a secret history of his own imagination." It goes on to say, about the novel, itself, "A lie that tells the truth, a work of fictional nonfiction, an autobiography wrapped in a novel disguised as a memoir, Moonglow is Chabon at his most moving and inventive." So I am still left with my question of is it based in truth or is it totally fiction. My guess is that Chabon doesn't want us to know for sure which it is, or what parts are totally fictional. He is being cagy with the truth and at times telling an outright lye. This is the kind of novel that librarians and English teachers everywhere hate because it so confuses unsophisticated readers who can't tell the difference between fiction and nonfiction when it is straightforward and honest about what it is. One person in read reading group said that it was "Chabon having fun making fun of that familiar trope."

I also think that it is Chabon trying to expose the ugly underlining of the U.S. Space program - that it benefited from Nazi slave labor and therefore is tainted. I agree, but like Chabon, think that space exploration is a good thing.

I enjoyed this group read as well. This group read had some good discussions about the book. Most of the group reads don't ever talk about anything important about the book. They simply say they liked the book, but never tell why. This one had some good comments and that made the book more enjoyable for me.

Redigerat: mar 31, 2022, 6:03 pm

Divide: Global Inequality From Conquest to Free Markets by Jason Hickel
The divide in this book is that between the Global North and the Global South - the developed nations and the developing nations. This book is about the problems caused by development and the development policies followed by the developed countries of the world and the crushing debt load carried by the developing nations of the world. The basic argument put forward in this book, is that the current financial problems of many of the Developing Countries of the world are rooted deep in colonialism and the fact that most of the financial policies were continued up to the present day. The author makes a convincing case for restructuring completely the WTO and the IMF, especially the latter, as their financial policies are oppressive and keep these countries from investing in there own people. If the current policies are continued the developing countries will never claw their way out of poverty.

Redigerat: mar 4, 2022, 4:43 pm

Of Sorrow and Such by Angela Slatter
This book is one of my "short books/novella's" project that has been ongoing for the last couple of years. This one was published by and was about 150 pages. This one was very well written. It was a fully developed short story with the potential for additional stories about these main characters. The central characters are women who are accused of being witches and shape shifters. There is also an element of revenge that comes into the story that keeps it exciting. It was a fun evenings read.

Redigerat: mar 21, 2022, 3:34 pm

Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery
I read this book for my real life book discussion group. It was the March 2022 selection. I have had it on my TBR list since 2018 and it probably would not have been one I would have read anytime soon if it had not been on the discussion group reading list. The author is a well known children's nonfiction author. She writes mostly about natural science topics and we have 16 of her titles in our collection. An amazon search yields at least 31 titles.

The subtitle of this book is important because it contains the meat of thesis for this book. The author begins her relationship with octopuses at the New England Aquarium in Boston, MA and while she is associated with that organization she writes about 4 different octopuses she got to know. The author uses the word "know" meaning that she knew them as personalities and they knew her as a personality. That means that they were sentient conscious beings to her. I am not sure that I agree with this belief, but she makes a good case. While she is doing so she manages to educate the reader about aquariums, what they are and how they work, various forms of oceanic life, and about scuba diving. All of that in a short book of around 275 pages. I don't think that the writing is all that great, but it is good storytelling and therefore keeps the reader reading. In total, this was a book I was happy that I read.

mar 21, 2022, 4:06 pm

Leaving Orbit: Notes From the Last Days of American Spaceflight by Margaret Lazarus Dean
I read this book for the LT Nonfiction Challenge for Travel books. It is a history of the US Space Shuttle Program, but it is also a travelogue and a literary history of a genre. The author chronicles her trips around the US following various stories about the space shuttle and along the way she tells the history of the shuttle program as well of the places and people she met. She write of Ponce De Leon and his exploration of the Florida coast as well as about NASA and how it is financed. She laments the passing of America's active role in manned space flight and its over dependence on the space programs developed by other countries. While writing this history and travel book she also squeezes in essays about narrative nonfiction and creative nonfiction writing. This is the what she teaches at the University of Tennessee as a tenured professor at that institution. To accomplish this she writes about the works of some of the pioneers of creative nonfiction, concentrating on those who wrote about the space program. In particular that is Norman Mailer, Tom Wolfe, and. The author deftly pulls all of these elements together into a menage a trois that works in the very modern way of creative nonfiction. I highly recommend this book.

mar 21, 2022, 4:17 pm

Witch Elm by Tana French
This is not French's best loved book and it is easy to figure out why after listening to its interminable drone for 18 CD's. This is one of that currently so popular subgenre of mystery - that of the unreliable narrator. In this case the unreliable narrator suffers from PTSD and memory loss from a Traumatic Brain Injury. He simply can't remember things and he also forgets things very easily. At the beginning of the story he is a careful happy go lucky good old boy. He sails through life with not a care in the world. Or if he does have a care his luck soon takes care of the problem for him. Until. One night after a good time at the pub he awakes in his apartment to the fact that two intruders are rummaging around in his apartment. A fight happens, and he is nearly beaten to death. When he wakes up in the hospital he can barely walk or talk. His life is irrevocably changed.

The now unreliable narrator goes to life with his uncle who can provide a safe haven for him, while the unreliable narrator cooks and takes care of the uncle who is in the last stages of brain cancer. Then, 184 pages into the book (far to long in this reader's opinion) a body is discovered hidden inside a huge elm tree in the uncle's back garden. This is the whodunit part of the story. From there the two parts of the story come together reaching a climax almost 500 pages later. The first problem with this book is that it takes too long to gather up steam. The second problem is that the reader knows they should have sympathy for Toby, but just can't find it in themselves to do so. Together these two elements make for a long boring book.

I read this book for a real life discussion group and I am sure that this book will give our group plenty to talk about - if people finish it. I think it is highly likely that they will give up long before they get to the sections of the book that would be good discussion points. I like the idea of what the author was trying to do, but it just didn't work.

Redigerat: mar 21, 2022, 4:36 pm

Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler by John Hendrix
This was the second book I read for the LT Nonfiction Challenge on espionage and counter espionage. This book was an ALA YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist in 2019. The book is a hybrid between traditional YA nonfiction and that of a graphic novel. The author is a well known graphic novel artist and designer. Some of the pages are laid out in the traditional framed graphic novel format and some of the pages are full page graphic novel spreads, while others are laid out in text rich pages accompanied by illustrations. Direct quotes from Bonhoeffer and his associates are scattered throughout the book and are indicated by asterisks. The coloration is blue, red, and black, all in modern shades of those colors.

The book succeeds on many levels. The author has managed to distill the writings, beliefs, and historical facts of Bonhoeffer's life down to the simple essence that makes it understandable for young readers. This also simplifies the underlying philosophy. None of this downplays its importance or comes across as condescending to the reader - probably to every reader no matter their age. Bonhoeffer's life is full of philosophical struggle and this book brings that struggle to life. It also provides the background for much of what has developed into the theology of action that is followed by the current Pope and many religious leaders in the developing world. The illustrations are dynamic, intensely emotional, and sometimes shocking and serve the story and that period of history very well. This would be an excellent book for use in Middle School discussion groups. Well, for any book discussion group, for that matter. I can't say enough good things about this book. The quality of this book was certainly a surprise to me, and it is a book that will stay with me for some time. It made an impact and an author can't hope for more than that.

mar 21, 2022, 5:00 pm

>25 benitastrnad: I went to put this on my wishlist and found it was already there! I'm adding >27 benitastrnad: to the list though, that sounds brilliant.

mar 26, 2022, 3:35 pm

Spy in Moscow Station: A Counterspy's Hunt for a Deadly Cold War Threat by Eric Haseltine

Over on Suzanne's Nonfiction Group read the topic for March is espionage and counter espionage. I had this book on my shelves so I listed it as one of three I was going to try to read for the March read. Turns out that when Suzanne saw the title she remembered that she had it on her lists as well, so two of us read it this month. (tell your brother that I purchased my copy at Barnes & Noble - which means that I paid full price for this book.) (An LT Member over on Mark's thread said that Eric Haseltine is her brother so there is a personal LT connection to this book as well as just me reading the book for fun.) I purchased it because it had good reviews and it seemed interesting - that was back in 2019.

Suzanne read it first and she said it was very good. I took it with me for Spring Break and I really liked it. The basic story starts in the late 1970's at the US embassy in Moscow where State Department employees find a mysterious antenna inside a chimney that is not a real chimney. Due to interdepartmental infighting nothing is done about it, and in fact the whole problem is quashed due to interdepartmental infighting until the French find the same thing at their embassy 6 years later and get fired up about it. Then things begin to happen and the US finds out how the KGB has been listening and learning ALL of our top level secrets for years. The book reads like a spy thriller after it gets going and I could totally see this one made into a movie - it gets that exciting. There is lots of technical information up front in the book - stuff about microwaves and microbursts of megahertz and ohms, etc. etc. but that didn't bother me. I thought it helped me to understand why the techie geeks working on the problem had a hard time explaining to others what was going on. It was simply unbelievable because it was advanced applied physics.

Anyway, it was fascinating stuff. Suzanne's review of the book is better than mine. I think I would read this book, as listening to all the front end technical stuff would probably be boring and keep people from finishing the book. But finishing it - what a finish. The stuff of spy legends.

mar 26, 2022, 3:41 pm

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J. K. Rowling

Twenty-five years after the publication of the first book in this series I finally finished reading it. Yeah! That is done with and now I can move on to better series.

I listened to this book while driving back to Alabama from my Spring Break in Kansas. As always, Jim Dale was delightful to listen to. I just wish that he had a better story to narrate. It was clear that this book is the ending of the series and the author was glad to be shut of this series. This book is about 600 pages to long. It should have been divided up into about 3 more books as the author had to wrap up all the loose threads of the story and did so in one fell swoop. The result is that some of the threads are explained in a very sketchy manner and are clearly given short shrift. Other threads, are over developed and the reader gets bored in hearing them.

Of course, there is a bang up ending and that is OK, but it is rather anticlimactic. In short, this is a good children's series, but not engaging enough to be something adults will read in the future. They might read it, simply because it was such a cultural phenomena but there will be little reason to read it other than that.

Redigerat: apr 10, 2022, 6:41 pm

Siege of Krishnapur by J. G. Farrell
I read this book as a Read-Along with Mark (mfs59) here on Librarything. I have had this book in my collection since 2012 when I got it through the 75'ers Christmas Swap. (I didn't record who gave it to me, just that it was part of the annual swap.) This book was the winner of the Booker Prize in 1973. It is on many lists of best books of this and that. I think that may have been a problem for me - I expected too much of this book and it just didn't reach the heights I thought it should. I found this book to be more political satire than I did historical fiction. Since this was about a historical event that I am not familiar with, much of its meaning was lost on me. There was a snarky tone to the book that I found to be almost offensive. The book ended up being not to my taste. The Introduction did say that the book was meant to be a repudiation of the Victorian Mutiny novel and that would explain the dialogue and the tone so I won't totally discount this book, but it is not my idea of good historical fiction.

This book is the second book published in a trilogy of books that Farrell (an Irishman) wrote about the end of the British Empire, but it is the first book in the trilogy if they are read in historical chronological order. I have the other two books on my shelves to read and will read them before the end of the year. I can only hope that they are better than this one - or it is money wasted.

apr 10, 2022, 6:49 pm

Unto Us a Son Is Given by Donna Leon
I read this book for the ongoing Mystery Read-A-Long that I host here on LT. It is book 28 in the series and I was happy to return to the world of Guido Brunetti. This book is a bit different in structure than the previous books in the series. The murder mystery doesn't happen until the last quarter of the book and is solved in relatively short order by Guido and company. The first three-quarters of the book sets up all of the characters and the relationships between all of them. This long lead-in is necessary and makes the novel stronger.

In this book the author tackles the issue of gay relationships and the need for single Italians to name their own heirs - or rather the inability of them to do so. In Italy, only relatives can inherit. This means that the lead character in this mystery tries to adopt his lover. In doing so, he would make this lover his son and thus, legally able to inherit a big fortune. Why not marry his lover? Gay marriage is legal in Italy. Spouses can only inherit half the estate but sons can inherit all of it. That sets up the murder.

As always, Leon has written a mystery that is fun to read and explores the human condition.

Redigerat: apr 10, 2022, 7:03 pm

The Maid by Nita Prose
I read this book for the Travel Book Club. I didn't want to buy the book so ended up having to wait to get it from the public library. It is new to the library and the wait list was long. I started reading this book on a Saturday morning and finished it on Sunday afternoon. It was a fast entertaining read. Reviewers have compared it to "Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time" but I don't think it is anything like that. I think this book is better. I had read the reviews of the book before it came out and thought it would be fun to read so put it into my TBR list early. I was right. It was fun.

The book is a fairly standard mystery. It is the setting and the main character that makes this book such an entertaining book to read. The main character is a maid in a hotel. Clearly she has some social disability and that fact makes her vulnerable. How she manages to change the tables on the real crooks in the story makes for an entertaining book.

Redigerat: apr 10, 2022, 7:14 pm

Betel Nut Tree Mystery by Ovidia Yu
This is book 2 in Crown Colony series of historical mysteries that was recommended by Suzanne from here in LT. This book is set in 1937 just after the Abdication of Edward VIII and once again the heroine is Chen Su-Lin and the still small crown colony of Singapore. Singapore is definitely part of the attraction of this series, as the city, the food, the weather, and the various people who make up the city are all part of the story. The mystery isn't much, and I figured out fairly early who done it. Su-Lin continues to be fun and interesting, but La Foy virtually disappeared in this volume and played no major part in the mystery. I found that puzzling. So far these books fall squarely into the cozy mystery genre and I like that. I will read more of them since the first 5 in the series are at the public library and easily checked out.

apr 10, 2022, 7:21 pm

32 Yolks: From My Mother's Table to Working the Line by Eric Ripert
Ripert is a famous chef and this book is one of the books about famous chefs that I have been reading off and on for years. I listened to this book and got the recorded book through ILL from the Denver Public Library. I wanted to listen to it on the Spring Break trip, but the book never got here until after Spring Break. It was not a long book and the recorded version was well done.

Ripert is the Chef of Le Bernardine, a famous restaurant in New York City. The restaurant has managed to keep three Michelin stars for almost thirty years under the direction of Ripert. I first saw him when he was a guest on the Martha Stewart Show and have seen him from time-to-time on other shows. His approach to food is classical French even though he is one of the most famous chefs of the Novelle Cuisine movement. This book lead me down a couple of rabbit trails in Wikipedia doing research on other French Chefs of the 1980's. These were chefs like Joel Robuchand who trained Ripert. I also learned more about the way French Chefs are trained and about the French educational system. I learned much from this book and enjoyed listening to it. The narrator was very good.

apr 10, 2022, 7:35 pm

Travels in Vermeer: A Memoir by Michael White
I read this book for the LT Nonfiction Challenge. The theme for April is "Armchair Traveling." This is a travel book about art and at the same time it is a memoir. I have had the book on my TBR list since 2017. I had to request it through ILL and it came from the University of Houston. This book was also a title in my small books project. I was under 200 pages. It packed a punch in those 200 pages.

This is a melancholy book. It was sad. It was rather gloomy. It was poignant and moving. It was about love. It was about marriage - successful and failed. It was about art - Vermeer in particular, but other Dutch master's in general. It was about obsession. It was about losing oneself and finding oneself. It was about travel. It was a quest - and all this was packed into 178 pages. This was not a book for art critics, but rather it was the almost obsessive drive to learn more about what Vermeer was trying to do with his painting and how that played on the frayed emotions of the author.

The author stumbled onto his quest when he literally fled his home and went to Amsterdam for a long weekend just to see the art museums. One look at the Vermeer painting "The Milkmaid" and he fell in love - or maybe obsession - with Vermeer. He only made it to one museum on that trip and once he viewed that Vermeer painting he almost totally ignored the other famous paintings in the Rijksmuseum. The intensity with which Vermeer seized him resulted in his decision to see as many of the paintings by Vermeer as he could. This book chronicles his trips to three cities - New York City, London, and twice to different Amsterdam to see Vermeer paintings. At the same time that he was taking these trips, he was also in the the gut wrenching process of going through a divorce. Vermeer's paintings quieted his mind and provided an emotional outlet. The book was very well done, and was on the National Book Award Longlist for 2015. It deserved to be. Even though some might think it is a travel book, or an art book, this is a book that a wide range of readers would like. Highly recommended.

apr 30, 2022, 10:49 pm

Stallion Gate by Martin Cruz Smith
I liked Smith's espionage books back in the 1980's so when I saw this book for sale in the gift shop at White Sands National Historical Site in New Mexico back in 2012 I purchased it. I thought it would make good airport reading. I took it with me when I went to Bozeman for Thanksgiving and started reading it on my flight back home. It was good enough to read in airports but it didn't hold my interest after I got back home and all those other more interesting books called out to me. So it sat on my bedside table - unfinished. I finally took it up and made a determined effort to finish it.

This novel is set at the White Sands test site and is all about the Trinity test of the first atomic bomb. There is a spy among the group and Native American Joe is told to help find out who it is. The plot is straightforward and just had no zing. I couldn't really get into the pace of the book, and I didn't like the way the author portrayed some of the major characters - they seemed more like caricatures than people. This was not Smith's best book. It certainly doesn't rank up there with his earlier espionage novels.

Redigerat: maj 23, 2022, 4:11 pm

Gunpowder Gardens by Jason Goodwin
I read all of Goodwin's mystery fiction and enjoyed the world of the Late Ottoman Empire in those books. I was surprised to learn that Goodwin was also an accomplished travel writer as well, so decided to read this book since it was a book about his journey to find tea. (The long title of this book is Gunpowder Gardens: Travels Through India and China in Search of Tea) I am not a serious tea drinker but I do love a good hot cuppa now and then. When Goodwin's grandparents died the only thing that was left to him were various tea accoutrements. One set of grandparents had lived in Amoy, China and the other in the hill country of India so Goodwin set out to see these places and write about how tea had been a part of their lives, and through them, his. Goodwin is a good travel writer and he excelled at writing about the places he visited, capturing in exquisite detail the atmosphere of each place he visited. He didn't do as well with capturing the people. Still it was a good read, but if the reader wants a good history of tea and tea drinking and its impact on the world, there are other books that will do better.

Recommended reading for armchair travelers and tea lovers alike.

Redigerat: maj 23, 2022, 5:31 pm

Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
This is book two in the Chaos Walking series and it was just as good as the first one. In this book the reader sees Todd falling farther and father under the spell of the Mayor without him being aware that he is doing so. The situation between the humans and the Spackel becomes more complicated and of course there is the terrorist war between the women and the men - the Ask and the Answer. The Ask is the women's organization that is opposing the Mayor and his campaign to keep women subjugated and little better than the slave/servants that are the Spackel. In order for Viola to see Todd she has to put one of the livestock bands on her arm and her trouble really begins at that point. This series is a study in how authoritarian regimes gain control in an insidious way and how easy it is to succumb to a gradual erosion of individual rights. I will be reading/listening to book 3 in this series ASAP.

maj 23, 2022, 5:36 pm

Patriarch by Martin Walker
This is book 8 in the Bruno Courrages series - AKA as Bruno, Chief of Police series. This entry of the series takes the reader into the hunter culture of the Dordogne region of France. Bruno is a guest of a French military hero at his 90th birthday party. A murder takes place at the party and Bruno begins his investigation. In the meantime there is food, wine, and festivals described in great detail. This is a fun series and it always makes me want to take a trip to France to see this part of that country.

maj 24, 2022, 4:12 pm

Daughter of the Morning Star by Craig Johnson
This Longmire mystery novel is a return to the roots of the stories that made this series so loved by its loyal fans. This novel is set on the Northern Cheyenne reservation where a girl's basketball team is the center of the story. Hidden behind that center is the fact that thousands of Indian women go missing every year and they are rarely found. The star of the women's high school basketball team has been receiving threats and Sheriff Lolo asks Walt for help because the High School student being threatened is her foster daughter and niece. This novel returns to the connections that Walt has with his native neighbors. These are pragmatic and practical but they are also spiritual. This was a great book to read and I am happy to see Johnson return to the kind of novel that made these stories such great reading.

Redigerat: maj 24, 2022, 4:16 pm

Persephone Station by Stina Leicht
This is space opera. It was mind candy reading, but great fun. The plot is the standard mercenary soldier hired out to the good hearted local Mafia leader. There are a few twists and turns but in the end all of the partners come through safely. This novel also takes a look at the idea of first contact and the tendency of colonizers to exploit those they deem as "less" than they are. This was enjoyable reading and provided a good distraction over a weekend.

Oh - and it has a great (and I meand GREAT!) cover. The art just draws the reader into the book. It screams "pick-me up!" So I did. And was glad that I did so.

maj 24, 2022, 4:22 pm

Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America With Einstein's Brain by Michael Paterniti
I have had this book since I first signed up with LT. Why read it now? It was my real-life book discussion group's May selection. It was the travel book for the year. I did not enjoy this book at all. It was gloomy and angst filled and worse, it got lost in the weeds of literary padding. The book was originally a magazine article for Harper's and as such won the award of Magazine Article of the Year for the author and Harper's. I had heard about this book because it was mentioned by a friend as being a travel book about Kansas. Kansas was in it, and the parts about Kansas were interesting, but I suspect they were that because I knew about these places. The section on Lucas, Kansas and the Garden of Eden was of special interest. The trip, as described, was boring and even the author said it was. I suspect it was for that reason that the author filled the book with his inner angst and then padded that with a bad biography of Albert Einstein. The books saving grace, was that it wasn't long.

maj 24, 2022, 8:58 pm

Fatal Pursuit by Martin Walker
This is book 9 in the Bruno Courrages or Bruno Chief of Police series and it is for a mystery read-along group that is here on LT. This entry in the series finds Bruno and friends working to solve a murder that is connected to a classic car. A local historian is murdered in a very unlikely way and eventually his murder is connected to the hunt for the most beautiful car ever made that disappeared during World War II. I ended up doing some background research on this car - a Bugatti - and learned all sorts of useful information (trivial useful) about Bugatti and its history. It was fascinating and as usual the book had interesting details about food and farming in the Dordogne. This time, it was about geese. This was a delightful book and I can't wait to start the next in the series.

maj 24, 2022, 9:04 pm

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
I read/listened to this book as a read-along with two other LT members of the 75'ers. I did not think that I would like this book all that much and didn't really have it on my radar to read right now, but the time was right and others were reading it, so I jumped in and read-along. I was the last one to finish it, but this was a thoroughly engaging novel. It involved multiple time lines that created several different threads of stories. The author brought them all together in the end and did a fine job of doing so. All of the threads involved books and librarians in some way and it was clear that this was the driving force throughout the book. There were some of the parrellel stories that worked better than others, but there were two I loved. Zeno's story and the story of Omeir. It takes a great writer to make a person care about the fate of a pair of oxen and this author managed that with aplomb and verve. It was a wonderful story line. Even though this was 600 pages I would encourage people to pick it up and read it. I think this novel was better that his Pulitzer Prize winning novel - and that was a good book too.

maj 29, 2022, 8:09 pm

The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler's Germany by Ian Kershaw
I read this book for the LT Nonfiction Challenge. The June category was War- leadup and aftermath. This book was about why Germany didn't surrender in the fall of 1944 when the generals knew that militarily the war was lost. The author gives several reasons why Germany opted for "ending with horror rather than horror without ending." This trite phrase is what the German people thought would happen and so they decided to go down in flames and take everything with it. This became the strategy and the entire book explain why and how this was possible. First of all, it was Hitler's philosophy and he remained in power up to the second he died. His will determined the strategy used. His remaining in power was possible because the apparatus of the state worked right up to the minute of the surrender. A well functioning bureaucracy will grind on without a leader for a long time and this is what happened in Germany. Even as the territory of Germany shrunk the bureaucracy went right on functioning. People paid their water bills right up to the day of the surrender. It is remarkable and in many ways unbelievable. However, I understand it because I work in a bureaucracy that functions no matter who is at the top. Respect for that bureaucracy is what keeps it working, and this is part of what happened in Germany in 1944-45. Terror was another reason why the state functioned right to the end. The police and party worked hand in glove until they were overrun by the Allies and people were executed up to minutes before the Allies were marching down the street. That is unbelievable to me, but again, it was all part of a functioning bureaucracy.

This was an excellent book. It is not a military history, but the military figures into the final year's actions simply because it became part of the terror apparatus that kept people in line. Also, military events often determined how the people reacted to decrees and pronouncements from the head-of-state. It is important to remember that this book is social history not military history - even though the two often intersected in the last year of the Third Reich.

maj 29, 2022, 8:17 pm

Broken For You by Stephanie Kallos
I have had this book for years and finally got around to reading it because it was on my real life book discussion list as the June book. This was a very good work of fiction and I enjoyed reading it a whole bunch!

The book is set in Seattle, Washington and the place is part of the story. How all of the major characters got to that one city in the extreme northwest corner of the U.S. is part of the story. The plot is improbable and sometimes predictable but totally believable. I think that is the genius of this novel. It is populated with great characters that come together in predictable and unpredictable ways. There were also a few plot twists that I was surprised to find in the book. They were so obvious that I didn't think the author would do it. When she did it surprised me that she was able to pull it off and do so without the novel being trite and surgery. The back flap of the book says that she spent seven years working on this novel and all that work shows. This was an enjoyable novel to read. I am glad that it was on the list because it was fun to read.

This was also a novel about art and the power of art to heal. I learned about the art of mosaic and I learned that there was indeed a "plate stealing" mosaicist in who lived in Chartres, France. I wonder if there is a mosaicist in Seattle as well?

Redigerat: jun 5, 2022, 11:56 am

Paper Bark Tree Mystery by Ovidia Yu
This is book 3 in the Crown Colony series. This historical mystery series is set in the Singapore of the 1930's and is a great picture of life in a British Crown Colony. It isn't always a pretty picture. This novel is set in 1938 and war with Japan and world war in general is becoming more and more a part of the story. In particular the war in China is looming larger as the events there begin to weigh more heavily on the minds of Su Lin and her family members. This novel is also concerned with the Indian Independence movement that is spearheaded by Gandhi but also has more radical elements that are players in the movement. This novel illustrates just how much fear of losing India played into British thinking about India. What also shows its ugly head more in this book is prejudice against the local populations who must be "controlled" and guided due to their childish thinking about issues and their lack of "ability" to run their own countries.

In This novel Su Lin loses her job to a British girl who can't type and has no office administrative skills. There is, of course, a murder, and then another murder and impetuous Su Lin rushes in to solve the crime, getting it totally wrong in the process. I like these novels but I am beginning to lose some patience with Su Lin and her simplistic view of life and people. Add to that gullibility. She is very sheltered and she has a rosy picture of relationships. These make her likeable but would be a hinderance in any realistic police setting. Even in the 1930's she would have been fired for her actions. It is a good thing this is fiction. Even so, I want to read more of the books by this author.

Redigerat: jun 5, 2022, 12:03 pm

Who Did It First?: 50 Scientists, Artists, and Mathematicians Who Revolutionized the World by Julie Leung
This is another on those cumulative biography/lists featuring obscure people aimed at middle school students. The biographies are short - one page, sometimes two - and give just enough information to intrigue. The idea here is to pique enough interest that the reader does further research. Given that aim this book is not a good resource for book reports, but does have reference pages that will lead students to further books or sources of information about the featured people. What does set this book apart is the illustrations and graphic text. The illustrator uses both to great effect. The book is going to attract attention if it is featured face front because of the coloration and design of the portraits. The illustrator also uses graphic text to attract attention. The size and style of the font is varied throughout the book, but still adheres to a basic kind of style that makes it easy for readers to see and decipher. Page color is also varied and the colors are clearly meant to symbolize different people. There is great contrast between the edge of text so even poor readers will be able to make out the words and individual lettering. This is a good choice for Middle School libraries or teachers who want short read-alouds for classroom use.

jun 5, 2022, 8:56 am

Hi Benita. I've been neglecting the ROOTers for some time. Live, sunny days, babysitting the grandkids and doing volunteer work for the library at Lonne's school. And reading of course. Today is a rainy day with some thunderstrokes. A perfect Sunday for reading al those neglected threads.

So glad to see you are still reading and I realized just now I forgot to answer to your letter. It lying beside me on a pile of things to do and write and think about!

Redigerat: sep 14, 2022, 8:00 pm

Thunderstruck by Erik Larson
I read this book for my real life book discussion group. I am not a big fan of Erik Larson because I think that he uses a gimmick to attract readers. The gimmick is that he sets up a conflict between two characters and then uses that created conflict to ramp up the tension in order to turn a historical narrative into a made-up drama. In Thunderstruck Larson runs true to form. In this case the made-up drama is between a murderer who is on the run and the inventor of modern radio. The truth is that neither person ever knew about the other and yet the cover of the book and all the book blurbs lead the reader to think that is what happens. Either of the two stories presented in this book would make a good stand alone work of narrative nonfiction, but pushing the two into one book makes for an overlong boring read.

That said - the story of how Marconi created a radio system that worked was interesting. It was clearly a case of an amateur engineer who created something without science being in the lead. That is a very interesting concept and one that deserves a deeper dive at some point in the future.

jun 15, 2022, 10:34 am

Nine Pints: A Journey Through the Money, Mysteries and Medicine of Blood by Rose George.
I read this book for the LT Nonfiction Challenge. The June topic was Science and Medicine. This book was a series of essays in which each essay dealt with blood or some medical issue with blood. This format made for easy and interesting reading. The essays were all varied and didn't relate to each other, except that they had something to do with blood. There was an fascinating chapter on the establishment of the successful blood donation system in the U. K. that was fascinating medical, social, and cultural history. There was an interesting chapter on the tragic transmission of viruses through blood donations as well as one on the use of medical leeches in modern medicine. Who knew? For me the most interesting and unexpected chapter was the one on menstruation and the impact it has on society. This is a topic that is rarely tackled in a thoughtful way, and this essay proved to be the exception. It was thoughtful and yet passionate at the same time. It was medical, cultural, and economical. Economical in that the author dealt with the economic impact that this one fact of life has on the life of humans. She proves beyond doubt that the expense of supplies and the unwillingness of governments and business leaders to even talk about it costs money and most of that cost is passed onto the poorest of the people on this planet. In this essay they author introduced the reader to the "Pad Man of India" and his efforts to make the lives of women in India easier through the introduction of low cost menstrual supplies. The book was very grim in places, but was also full of light humor. I found it to be very readable and informative.

Redigerat: jul 3, 2022, 12:39 pm

Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
This is the third book in the Chaos Walking series and it was a bang up finish. The entire series is very interesting. Patrick Ness never writes a book without a pointed message and this one is no exception. The series is about the ability of a charismatic dynamic individual to sway a large segment of a population to his point-of-view and then use that to dominate the entire population. (Sound familiar?) It is about how tyranny rises and continues long after most people have realized that the leader is a tyrant. This would be a great series to use in a middle or junior high school to teach lessons about all sorts of social constructs like bigotry, tyranny, resistance, and oppression.

I listened to this series and the recorded versions of all three books are outstanding. While the books use the text to give readers clues about who is speaking and the importance of what they are saying, multiple readers/narrators are used in the recorded version. This helps the reader to decipher the text in an auditory way. This methodology would be perfect for classroom use. A teacher could start with the first book at the beginning of the year and then continue the discussions and lessons throughout the year. It would be a fascinating project to do in a school.

Overall this series is going to be on my best of the year list.

Redigerat: jul 3, 2022, 12:42 pm

When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo
This is the second installment in the novella series by this author that is published by Tordotcom and it is a worthy successor to the first. Vo uses South Asian folk and fairy tales in modern adaptations that are great fun to read. The old stories give the modern versions a strong foundation but the author has found ways to twist them that are unexpected. This turns them into something fresh and amazing to read. Great stuff! Read these books.

Redigerat: jul 4, 2022, 10:40 pm

Trace Elements by Donna Leon
This is another fine entry in the Guido Brunetti series. This one is book number 30 in the series. It involves another crisis of conscientious on Guido's part as he solves another murder. This one returns to a reoccuring theme in the Guido books - that of willful environmental destruction. It also returns to Guido's source of inspiration and solace for his work - the ancient Greek and Roman novels, books, and plays that he loves to read in his spare time. This book centers around the Aeschylus play The Eumenides and the need for justice. How should justice be dispensed? Should it be revenge, vengeance, or a more dispassionate rational type of justice? Aeschylus dealt with this question in ancient times and so does Guido in our modern age.

jun 26, 2022, 6:25 am

Lots of books read, Benita!

Redigerat: jul 4, 2022, 10:48 pm

Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons
I read this 550 page book in 5 days. I took it with me on a trip to a library conference thinking that I wanted to take one book, and one book only, so it had better be a big book, and it should not weigh much. This book fit the bill. Exactly, what I anticipated happened. I spent a great deal of time sitting in airports so I managed to read the entire book on this one trip.

This is the first book in a series of five books titled Chorus of Dragons. The plot of the book is the fairly standard great epic quest kind of story, but this book used a literary approach that is not common in fantasy. Each chapter of the story was told by one of the two main characters. This worked very well in this book and gave the epic swords and sorcerers fantasy a unique twist that was fresh and lively. I might have had plenty of time on my hands to read, but reading this book was a pleasure and I did not get bored with the reading. I could not wait to get back to it to find out what adventures awaited Khelan and company.

Redigerat: jul 6, 2022, 11:50 pm

Mold in Dr. Florey's Coat: The Story of the Penicillin Miracle by Eric Lax
I read this book for the LT Nonfiction Challenge. The June topic was Science and Medicine. This book was a history/biography of the development of penicillin. It was full of all the ups and downs, ins and outs, and personalities and peccadillos of the people involved in this endeavor. It didn't hide all of the academic shenanigans that went on during the research phase and it showed the world of academe in all its flawed truth. People as smart and innovative as those on Howard Florey's research team, as well as those brought on board, had egos to match and it made life very difficult for Dr. Florey. Add to that the desperate times of the early years of WWII and the drama seemed more like a novel than real life.

The book was also a mythbuster. Alexander Fleming may have discovered the penicillin mold, but he did nothing with it after that because mold was not his area of research and he thought penicillin was not very promising as a research field. However, when it came time for the interviews and accolades that accompanied the revelation of the miracle that penicillin was, he was eager to step up and talk. This made him a media darling and led to the false assumption that he was the person who gave the world penicillin. That was not the case. It as up to Howard Florey, Ernst Chain, and Norman Heatley to figure out what penicillin was good for, and how to synthesize it. Florey and Chain shared a Nobel Prize with Fleming for penicillin but Heatley was left out. This was a fascinating story filled with brilliant innovation by the scientists and all the tension caused by the real life events of World War II. It is not over long and that makes it a very accessible book. The arguments put forth by the author to clarify the murky history of the development of penicillin are well formulated and reasoned while not be overly detailed, keeping the narrative flowing at a good pace.

Very well done book for all readers interested in science or medicine. Even for those interested in the history of WWII.

Redigerat: jul 10, 2022, 9:21 pm

Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Eric Lax
I read this book for my real life book discussion group. It was the July selection. It is indeed a dark book. Not a happy line in it for anybody and that made it a chore to read. It was well written it was just so sad to read. This book was about the radium poisoning that happened to young women in the 1920's and 30's. They worked for two different companies that painted radioactive radium onto the clock faces of watches and small clocks. They were told that radium would not hurt them by the company officials and by company doctors. Then they started dying.

The book was well written and easy reading, but so depressing. This is a book for anyone who likes to read about science or about medical mysteries. People who like to read narrative nonfiction of books about little known history will also like this book. It is definitely not as uplifting as was the previous book on penicillin but well worth the time and effort to read this one.

jul 10, 2022, 2:19 pm

>58 benitastrnad: How interesting! I know so little about the history of penicillin, and this sounds like fascinating background. Thanks for the tip.

jul 10, 2022, 9:23 pm

Templar's Last Secret by Martin Walker
This is book 10 in the Bruno, Chief of Police series and it is as much fun as the previous books in the series. For pure relaxing reading you can't beat this series. Once more the reader is treated to the food, wine, and culture of the Dordogne region of France. This one has lots of action and the introduction of some new characters as well as the reappearance of some previous locals. This is just great good fun.

jul 12, 2022, 6:41 am

>58 benitastrnad: Intriguingly, I stumbled across this tidbit on penicillin in my current read just after reading your review of Mold in Dr. Florey's Coat.

From my current read Conan Doyle for the Defense about Conan Doyle's mentor and inspiration Joseph Bell:
"More than three decades before Alexander Fleming isolated penicillin from mold in 1928, Bell instructed a group of nurses this way: "Cultivate absolute accuracy in observation, and truthfulness in report....For example, children suffering from diarrhoea of a wasting type sometimes take a strong fancy for old green-moulded cheese, and devour it with best effect. Is it possible that the germs in the cheese are able to devour in their turn the bacilli tuberculosis?"

The timing struck me, so I thought I would share!

jul 13, 2022, 8:05 pm

>62 Caramellunacy:
Interesting! Perhaps if somebody had been paying attention penicillin would have been discovered earlier and somebody would have been able to distill it much earlier - even if it proved stubborn to distill.

Redigerat: jul 25, 2022, 12:43 pm

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
I have been wanting to get to this series ever since this first book was introduced at an ALA conference when it was first published. It is one of the first "ethnic" fantasies. By that I mean, that the folklore and the fairy tales it draws upon is based in Middle Eastern folk and fairy tales rather than the more traditional Western based folk and fairy tales. This one is based on ifrits and jinn and the magic associated with them rather than western folk boogiemen. This book has women heroes as well as male heroes and it full of action. There are some plot points that are not fully developed or simply too predictable but overall the book was still interesting and fun. The narrators were also good. this helped move the story along. The woman narrator did have an annoying accent that she kept trying to use, but it wasn't that bad, so I will excuse it this time around. This was a good road trip book and I enjoyed listening to it. There are five books in the series so I will have enough books in this series to keep me in road trips for at least a couple more times.

jul 18, 2022, 1:47 pm

You Don't Belong Here: How Three Women Rewrote the Story of War by Elizabeth Becker
I have just had my first 5 star read of the year! This is a great good fast paced work of nonfiction that reads like it is a novel. It is about three amazing women, Catherine Leroy, Frances Fitzgerald, and Kate Webb, who were journalists covering the war in Southeast Asia in the 1960's and 1970's. Each of the three have an amazing story. Cathy Leroy was French, Kate Webb from Australia, and Frances Fitzgerald was a scion of New York socialites. Each played a profound role in how the Vietnam War was covered as well as being the first women covering combat. They set the standard and defined the role, and what a standard it turned out to be. Fitzgerald wrote some of the best books about the causes and problems of the American policy in Southeast Asia, and Webb was the first to cover Cambodia and predicted what would happen there. Leroy's pictures are some of the most lasting images of the war that are stuck in the public mind. This book makes me want to go read some of the books that they were reading when they were struggling with how to write the Vietnam War. This one was a book bullet from Suzanne a couple of years ago and boy am I glad that she promoted this book. It is very good. This is one for anybody who is interested in the history of Indochina, Cambodia, and the Vietnam War. Just in case you missed it - I highly recommend this one. It may be hard to find, but if all else fails there is always ILL. Use it to get this book. It isn't a big book, but it sure packs alot of history and action between its covers.

Redigerat: jul 25, 2022, 12:48 pm

Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal
I read this book for the Eastmont Retirement center book discussion group in Lincoln, NE. I plan on being there at the Eastmont apartments to talk about the book with the group on July 28, 2022.

I read the first book by this author "Kitchens of the Great Midwest" and enjoyed that homey comfort read. I also enjoyed this homey comfort read. It read like a story that came straight out of a Garrison Keilor "Prairie Home Companion" radio show. It was fun and pleasant to read. It nailed the Minnesota Lutheran Church Ladies Aid Society women. It was so funny and nicely snarky. I think to get the humor in the book, you have to be from the area. I know ladies just like that, so it is a case of you have to be there to appreciate it. Just plain good fun.

Redigerat: jul 25, 2022, 12:55 pm

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir
This is book 2 in the Ember in the Ashes series. It was a continuation of the story from the first book. Full of action, more magic than in the first book and with the same plot and character flaws as the first. In this book the reader gets introduced to more of the background information that you need to understand what is going on in the coming battle against good and evil. There is the same predictacality as the first novel but, again, it was fun to read and in this case listen to on the long road home. This book introduces more of Helene's character and thoughts and I found her dilemma's the most interesting. There were three narrators in this recorded version and all did a good job. I didn't care for the accents, but I understand why the producers asked for it. But it was a quality production as are most of the Books-on-Tape productions. I have book three coming up to listen to while driving back and am looking forward to it.

aug 3, 2022, 3:24 pm

A Reaper At the Gates by Sabaa Tahir

This is book 3 in the Ember in the Ashes series. It continues the swords and sorcerers saga that is at the heart of this young adult fantasy. It is very good, and I can't wait to read/listen to the fourth and final book in the series.

aug 4, 2022, 8:31 am

>51 benitastrnad: I know what you mean about Larson's "gimmick". It was sort of the problem in The Devil in the White City as well, but I thought that one worked adequately because I found it interesting to see serial killers and high rise buildings as different aspects of the modern metropolis. But maybe that connection was more in my head than an explicit discussion in the text.

aug 7, 2022, 8:20 pm

Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill by Sonia Purnell.
I read this book for the Nonfiction Challenge on LT. The August challenge was to have been biographies, but we got the order of the categories mixed up and this one got moved to September. I had place and ILL request for this book and it is due back on August 11, so I decided to go ahead and read it this month anyway.

I have been trying to read biographies of women or people involved in the food industry for the last couple of years and so had been looking for an excuse to read this one. Then LT challenge gave me the excuse to do so.

This was a standard biography. In format it breaks no new ground - and that is good. I hate it when authors deviate from established protocol with something as important as a biography. I know little about Clementine Churchill so I don’t know if this biography is favorable to her or not. I can tell the reader of this critique that it is NOT favorable to Winston. The author finds Winston Churchill to be be imperious and bellicose in general. Even worse, he treats Clementine the same way. The author recognizes that Winston deeply loved Clementine, but she cannot excuse Winston’s treatment of her.

It is clear from all the documentation that Clementine and Winston loved each other and respected each other, but Winston was raised in privilege while Clementine was not. Therefore, Winston, expected things that were often not possible on the families limited income. (Things like pink silk underwear, and an overall expensive lifestyle.). This placed a great burden on Clementine to put the breaks on Winston’s extravagance.

The biography points out all of the political work that Clementine did for Winston. During WWII she was his legs out to the public and, while not a natural speaker, she learned to be. She became an asset to him. She also became very politically astute and Winston came to trust her political judgement.

One thing I did not know about her was that she was a beauty. She was also stylish and was always impeccably dressed. She was also the hostess with the mostest. At the end of this biography I was very inclined to shout “You Go Girl! For this extraordinary undervalued and unsung woman.

Redigerat: sep 6, 2022, 11:07 am

Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
I read this book for one of my real life Book Discussion groups. This is Michaelides first novel but not the first book by him that I have read. I first heard about this book and about Michaelides on the Jimmy Fallon Show. For several years, Jimmy Fallon had a summer reading program and this book was one of the five that he selected for the Jimmy Fallon Summer Read in 2019. This is a locked room murder mystery, but Michaelides does it with several twists. Most of the action in the novel takes place in a mental institution. The protagonist is an unreliable narrator and is the psychotherapist. An ancient Greek tragedy Alcestis written by Euripides is the basis for the plot. The major role of an ancient Greek play in this book is also the formula used by Michaelides in his second book. I find it of great interest as it adds depth, dimension, and connection to the past in the novel. If readers like thrillers this is a book for them to add to their reading list.

Redigerat: sep 10, 2022, 10:23 pm

Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin
I really enjoyed this book. In fact, it may make my best of the year list.
This is not the first book I have read by this author and it certainly won't be the last. This was not great literature but it was good historical fiction. It is the fictionalized story of Truman Capote and his friendship with Babe Paley. It is full of the glamorous life of those wonderful "swans" of fashion and art. All of them married to rich husbands who just paid the bills for all that glamour. Benjamin made all of the characters sympathetic, even the ones you didn't want to like.

The best part of this book is the dust jacket. It is outstanding. I hope it won awards and if it didn't it should have. It is a take-off of the Holly Golightly look from the movie Breakfast at Tiffany's. The cover is lipstick read and shows a long lean black haired woman in a tight black sleeveless backless coattail dress with a portrait collar. The woman is wearing elbow length gloves and holding a lit cigarette in a long black cigarette holder. The dust jacket just oozes 1960's glamour, sophistication, and style. So does the novel.

Redigerat: sep 14, 2022, 7:58 pm

Taste For Vengeance by Martin Walker
This is book 11 in the Bruno Courrages series that is set in the Dordogne region in France. It is a mystery with food and wine and lots of local culture. This beloved series puts the reader into the locality and makes the reader want to stay there. If you like mysteries that are half-way between cozies and thrillers this is the series for you. If you like mysteries that feature heroes who like good food and wine this is the series for you. If you like reading about other places and regions this series is for you. If you like mysteries with a smart compassionate hero this series is for you. I like all of these so I liked this book and will read the rest of the books in this series as well.

Redigerat: sep 30, 2022, 3:44 pm

Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray
I read this book for a real life book discussion group and I can say that if it hadn't been for that I would have Pearl Ruled this novel. The book is a fictionalized version of the life of the art expert Belle DeCosta Greene. Greene lived an extraordinary life as the acquisitions librarian for the J. P. Morgan library. She also acquired works of visual art for the Morgan's, but she is mainly known for her work in acquiring and preserving written and printed literature.

The novel was very poorly written. If the prose wasn't purple it was definitely a dark shade of lavender. I understand that the author was trying for the sound of late Victorian speech and writing patterns, but it just didn't hit the right notes. The plot wasn't that interesting either. There have been other books written about the subject of "Passing" that were done so much better and in this case the prose didn't create the interest that the real life person did. I understand that the novel form gives an author license to create story lines that are implied but not substantiated and my problem with the novel is not that. Green's affair with Bernard Berenson is documented, thanks to Berenson saving her letters to him, but I thought that the addition of the love interest of Green and Morgan was not necessary for the novel to tell a good story. I am sorry about that, as the life of Belle DeCosta Greene deserved better.

I actually have another novel about her in my collection titled Belle Greene by Alexandra Lapierre. It is published by Europa and is an English translation. I may read it sometime soon, so that I can compare the two novels. For now I was advise people to not read this book unless you have a high tolerance for overwrought and melodramatic language.

Redigerat: sep 30, 2022, 3:49 pm

Transient Desires by Donna Leon
It never ceases to amaze me that Leon can link ancient Greek and Roman texts to a fictional modern day stereotypical detective. As much as I like reading the Guido Brunetti series I have to say that Guido is very stereotypical. That doesn't mean I don't like him, or this series, because I do. Oh, I do! It simply means that a detective like him is to be found in most serial detective stories. What has begun to interest me more and more about this series, is the question of what ancient Greek or Roman text will Leon use as a basis for the moral and ethical underpinning of the novel? Each one of the novels I have read in the series this year, has been a surprise and has caused me to learn much about many of these works of literature. This has been a pleasant surprise and an added bonus to my reading of the mystery itself. I hope that Leon has many more Guido books in her as I find these enlightening and fun to read while dealing with great philosophical questions.

sep 12, 2022, 6:32 am

Hi Benita! I see you have almost reached your goal, only two more to go if I'm correct.
That must be quite easy to do in more than 3 months.

Redigerat: sep 30, 2022, 4:03 pm

Sky Beyond the Storm by Sabaa Tahir
This is the fourth and final book in the Ember in the Ashes series by this author. I listened to the recorded version of this book. I had to request it through ILL as the public library did not have a copy of the recorded version. The publisher choose to only release a recorded version on a Playaway. This is a separate listening device that is very commonly found in schools and not in public libraries. Why the publisher did this I don't know, as this series is very popular with adults as well as YA's. Playaway's are not an electronic device that gets much use among adults so they are cutting their potential revenues by only having the novel available in this format.

This was a great ending to this series! Other series author's should take lessons from Tahir on how to end a series. This one didn't end with all happy ever after's, but it did end with believable and satisfying endings for all the characters involved in the story. It also left the door open for additional stories, either prequels or sequels. That is no mean feat.

This series took elements of Middle Eastern mythologies and some western myths and mixed them up into a very interesting and believable mythological dystopian world. I loved the way she introduce the jinn and then how she managed to make, what could have been the bad-guy into a sympathetic bad-guy. That takes talent and patience to write because it takes experimentation within the context of the story and patience to continue to develop a character even when that character is the bad-guy. That kind of writing pays off in the end.

Redigerat: okt 11, 2022, 6:29 pm

Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
This book was not as popular as some of Bacigalupi's other dystopian sci/fi and I wonder why? Bacigalupi is known for his dystopian view of the future world, and he is also known for taking current elements from current events and pushing them into the future where that problem gets magnified. That is exactly what he does with this book. This book was set at some point in the future when it was written back in 2015. It involved a megadrought and the water problems of the Southwest. At that point in time, 2015, Lake Meade was low, but not as dangerously low as it is now. This book would have seemed like pure speculative fiction in 2015, but now it has become reality. Now Lake Meade is in danger of being shut down as a power source, and the Colorado River is not even a river for most of its journey. I don't think this is a techno-thriller, it is more like a detective thriller. As such I really enjoyed it.

I also enjoy books about books and this dystopian novel falls squarely into that category as well. The novel is grounded firmly in another book - Cadillac Desert. So grounded that Cadillac Desert appears, then appears again, then again. If you haven't read Cadillac Desert you should read it before reading Water Knife because it lays the ground work for Bacigalupi's imagined dystopian future for our so very thirsty Southwest with its every growing population. Bacigalupi takes a series of small decisions made in the past and imagines what the results of the decisions would be if they were compounded by a megadrought. Decisions as small as allowing people to have backyard swimming pools in Pheonix, Las Vegas, and all over Southern California.

There are some holes in the plot of this book. The major one, is why is the population of Texas on the move? Is it from some kind of environmental disaster? A civil war? Drug Wars?, etc. etc. None of this is explained even though the migrating population of refugees from Texas play a major part in the story.

As a thriller, the plot problems can be overlooked because the twists and turns keep coming at the reader. As a statement about our environmental security, it leaves me puzzled and perplexed rather than seeing this as one of many possible could-be-the-coming-futures.

I would recommend this dystopian novel, but would strongly encourage readers to read Cadillac Desert first.

okt 6, 2022, 5:02 am

>78 benitastrnad: Interesting comments on the connection between the two books! I'll keep that in mind.

okt 11, 2022, 6:00 pm

Good Lord Bird by James McBride
I finished listening to this book today. I found this to be a vulgar irreverent look at John Brown's life as a radical abolitionist that I enjoyed very much. The slapstick moments in it were pure fun. There was lots of finger pointing at dumb white people who just don't get it - didn't get it in 1859 and don't get it now. I am from Kansas and I think that even if it was irreverent McBride got the history right. In short, this is a different view of history than we normally get and I enjoyed reading it. I would recommend it to friends.

That said, I don't think I would recommend it to Alabama's current idiot senator. He most definitely would not get it.

okt 12, 2022, 7:17 am

>78 benitastrnad: Very interesting review!

okt 12, 2022, 2:42 pm

Ms. and the Material Girls: Perceptions of Women from the 1970s Through the 1990s by Catherine Gourley
This is a YA photojournalism nonfiction book designed for YA's to use for school reports. It is a perfect example of how wonderful the subgenre of books has become in the last ten years. I rated this book 5 stars for that reason. This book looks at the place of women in the culture of the United States over a thirty year period from 1970 to 1990. It covers the Women's Movement, Title VII of the Voting Rights Act of 1964 and what rights that gave women to free them from sexual harassment, Title IX and what that did to the world of sports, as well has the women in business, politics, science, and art. It reminded me of things that happened in the early culture wars that many of us have forgotten. It was well written and covered a great number of topics.

It was also a well designed book. The photographs used were appropriate and illustrative with great visibility and placement on the page. Imaginative use of graphic text, color, and placement of the text on the page was also perfect.

Well written and designed. It doesn't get better than that for a book.

okt 21, 2022, 1:53 pm

I finished reading Mysteries of the Middle Ages: The Rise of Feminism, Science, and Art From the Cults of Europe by Thomas Cahill. This book is book 5 in Cahill's Hinges of History series. I had read How the Irish Saved Civilization many years ago and have wanted to get to the rest of this series and thought that now was my chance to read this book. I requested the recorded version of it through our ILL department and so I ended up listening to it. I enjoyed the narrator very much and even though I found myself constantly hitting the replay button I managed to listen to the book in about 10 days.

The author picks and chooses prominent people and events to illustrate the point that the late Middle Ages, or more properly, the late Medieval Period, laid the groundwork for the Renaissance. The book is broken up into sections that correspond to the areas mentioned in the title. For instance, Elinor of Aquitaine illustrates the changing role of women and Saint Francis of Assisi's pushing the papacy to treat women more equally in the religious orders combined with the actively growing Cult of Mary created possibilities for women that had not been there previously. In the field of science, the author treats two late medieval philosophers, Abelard and Thomas Aquinas, as scientists due to the fact that their work creating the Scholastic movement set the philosophical foundations for the scientific discoveries of the Renaissance. He also discusses the life of Roger Bacon and the rise of the Universities at length in this section. In the field of art, he narrows down his ground breaking artists to the great Florentine artist Giotto and discusses his work at length. The last chapter of the book concentrates on Dante and his life with a wonderful analysis of the Divine Comedy.

All of this was great reading and only marred by the political pontification that the author allowed himself in his epilogue. In the epilogue he denounces the Catholic Church and predicts the downfall of the modern clergy because of their negligence in dealing with the clerical sex scandals. He states that modern Americans and Europeans will NOT stand for this behavior and the lack of punishment and reform from the pontifical hierarchy. All of this in a book published in 2006. The last 16 years have proved him wrong. Cahill is entitled to his views, but I don't think that the epilogue of this book was the place for him to pontificate and predict. However, I do intend to continue to read the titles in this series as I think that the unique insights that Cahill brings to the books makes them worth reading.

okt 23, 2022, 5:48 pm

>83 benitastrnad: Addendum
I had ordered a used copy of Mysteries of the Middle Ages because I intended to read it, but I also put in the ILL request for the sound recording. The sound recording came in first so I started it - and finished it. Last night when I went to my mail box the used copy of the book was in my mailbox. I was astonished when I opened the package. The print copy of this book is beautiful. It is illustrated with examples of the paintings, churches, and people that are in the book. They are beautiful. They are also very helpful in understanding why the author picked what he did for this volume in his series. I can safely say that had I known the book was like that I would NOT have listened to it (even though I thought the narrator was very good) because it is clear to me that the illustrations add to the content of the book.

Bottom line- this is a book that should be read rather than listened to .

Redigerat: nov 7, 2022, 12:13 am

Coal Miner's Daughter by Loretta Lynn
I remember what a splash this memoir made when it came out, and then when the movie was made it splashed again. At the time this memoir was shocking, but now parts of it seem silly and most of it seems pretentious. It is almost as if Lynn is trying to convince her reader that she is "country," or more "country" than you. It also comes across as disingenuous. This is a woman who doesn't hesitate to tell the reader that she purchased a home in Mexico, and that she and her husband took lots of vacations to remote places where her fame wouldn't cause problems. You can't do that without having lots of money. That said, Lynn was honest about her marriage, and her alcoholic womanizing husband. Even so, there is never any indication that she every seriously entertained the thought of leaving him. I read this memoir because I wanted to learn more about the pioneers of the country music industry, and there is no doubt that she is one, and how the Nashville music industry treated its stars. I didn't get that. I was also surprised at the radical feminist ideas that Lynn unabashedly displayed throughout the book, and then put up with her husband's philandering and his light-handed treatment of her money. I plan on reading the other books that she has written about her life and perhaps those will more forthcoming, with the insiders view of Nashville. I don't want a tell-all, but I do want more about the business and the musicology than I got.

okt 30, 2022, 10:39 pm

I finally finished reading Battlefield: Farming a Civil War Battleground by Peter Svenson. This was truly a cross genre book. Every other chapter in the book was about the Battle of Cross Keys in 1862 at Cross Keys, Virginia. The author purchased a 40 acre piece of farm land and then found out that it was the site of a crucial part of the Battle of Cross Keys back in 1862. The intervening chapters are all about the author trying to build a house on a historic site and then turning his forty acres into a hay farm. This juxtaposes the past and the present in a very unique way. One chapter is a Civil War battle narrative and the next the author is telling about the restoration of the barn so that he can store hay in it, or his struggles to get electricity to his farm stead. The author is very successful in explaining to the reader how the topography of the land is so very important to the outcome of the battle.

The book was a finalist for the National Book Awards in 1993. It is a very unique approach to telling history and it works quite well. The reason I got bored with this book, is that the author quotes long passages from a Confederate General, who was the hero of the Battle of Cross Keys, in which said General goes on and on about protecting home and hearth from invaders, and the importance of preserving the Southern way of life. Yada, yada. I know that is the way they people of the time felt about things, but really, enough of that old saw. And then, there was the constant excuses of the Federal General John C. Fremont, that got just as boring. The most interesting parts were the making hay while the sun shines parts.

nov 3, 2022, 6:17 pm

I finished reading Still Woman Enough: A Memoir by Loretta Lynn. This is book two of Loretta Lynn's memoirs. It was published in 2002 and covers Lynn's life from 1975 - 2002 and is about her life after the events of Coal Miner's Daughter. This book had a different co-author, so in style it is very different from the previous book. Lynn tells all about her marriage and in the end I felt like it boiled down to "stand by your man." There is more about the Country Music business and history, and there is much in there about her relationship with various country music stars of that era. This was a better book than the first one is some ways, and not as good in others. I felt like the "shock" of her personal life and worn off of me, as a reader, so what she had to say in this book wasn't as shocking as it might have been. Reading the two books close together provided a fairly good understanding of Lynn's life but to a lesser extent her place in country music. For that I will have to wait on an outside biography. Now that she has died that might not be that far in the future.

Redigerat: nov 26, 2022, 9:01 pm

Beartown by Fredrik Backman
I totally enjoyed this book and that was a surprise. I did not know it was going to be a “sports” book, and so didn’t expect great things from it. However, it turned out to be much more than that.

This is a story about small town life and the role that sports plays in the schools and community. It is also about what happens when sports personalities are placed on pedestals. It is about high schoolers and how much pressure they are put under. It is also about changing societal mores.

This is the first book in a trilogy. I think this book is going to make my best of the year list. Very well done.

Redigerat: nov 26, 2022, 9:10 pm

Mimosa Tree Mystery by Ovidia Yu
This is the fourth book in the Crown Colony series by this author. It is set in Singapore at the beginning of WWII and is about the Japanese occupation of that city and the region of Malaysia. Su Lin’s mentor, the British police detective LeFloy has been captured and is in a Japanese prison camp. Su Lin and her family are under suspicion for being collaborators by one side and being enemy combatants on the other. Su Lin is asked to help in the investigation of a murder because of her experience working with the British police department. Su Lin agrees just so that the Japanese will relax some of the surveillance on her family. But in so doing she has to contend with the other side that thinks that they are collaborators.

This is the best novel in this series so far. It is very nuanced and finely tuned to the times in which it is set. It also allows Su Lin to shine as a detective. It also explores her family relationships in greater depth.

This series is also going to make my best of the year list.

Redigerat: dec 10, 2022, 11:56 am

All Systems Red by Martha Wells
So many people have raved about this novella and the series it has spawned that I can't say much. For me it is typical Space Opera and reminded me somewhat of the Richard K. Morgan Takeshi Novacs series and the Ancillary Justice series. This AI was fun to read about and altogether a more loveable character who was not as prickly as either Kovacs or Breq. I have checked out the others in this series and will take them home with me to read over my vacation. They will be fun entertainment.

Redigerat: dec 10, 2022, 11:59 am

Us Against You by Fredrik Backman
I like this series about life in a small Swedish town. This is book 2 in the series and continues the story of the Beartown Bears hockey team. The main focus in this novel is on Benji and his struggles with his sexuality and how the town will accept that. Or not. It is also about the breakdown of a marriage, and life in general. I hope that I can finish this series because I confess, I am deeply involved with these characters and can't wait to find out how Backman ends this thoroughly engrossing this saga.

Redigerat: nov 20, 2022, 11:23 pm

Out of the Flames: The Remarkable Story of a Fearless Scholar, a Fatal Heresy, and One of the Rarest Books in the World by Lawrence Goldstone

I finished Out of the Flames: The Remarkable Story of a Fearless Scholar, a Fatal Heresy, and One of the Rarest Books in the World by Lawrence Goldstone and his wife Nancy Goldstone this morning and really enjoyed it. This is basically a biography of the book written by Michael Servetus. He was a catholic monk during the Reformation who ran afoul of both the Catholic and Protestant hierarchies. In particular he made a personal enemy of John Calvin, the dictator of Geneva, Switzerland and ended up being burned at the stake for heresy by the Protestants. Who would have thought that would happen?

Servetus' big crime was that he did not believe in the Trinity and said that this view of the person of God was added into the Christian doctrine at the Council of Nicaea for political reasons and not because there was any theological background for it. Servetus published a book with his arguments and Calvin wrote a book refuting his argument. The back and forth ended with Calvin capturing Servetus and condemning him and his book to be burned at the stake in the free city. Geneva really that wasn't so free, because you had to Protestant and approved by Calvin to live there. This was fascinating history of the Reformation that most of us know nothing about because it was so heavily censored for hundreds of years.

The book is a biography of the book Servetus wrote. When Servetus was burned at the stake his book was hunted down and burned as well. There are only three known copies of this book in the world and this book traces the history of that book. Along the way, the authors take the reader through the early history of printing and the official church position on printing and relevant church history, both Catholic and Protestant, of the theological foment of the Reformation. Since most of the action around Servetus happens in France there is a great deal about the early history of the Protestant movement in France, but little about Germany and the Reformation as it played out in that state. Various people who were important to the preservation of the book are profiled extensively, but the bulk of the book is about Servetus.

One of the reasons why this book and Servetus is so important to history is that Servetus accurately describes the circulation of blood through the heart in the early 1500's. Almost 200 years before Harvey did. Because the book was declared heretical this bit of scientific information was not circulated and it makes one wonder what would have happened if physicians had been able to know about this discovery 200 years earlier.

Basically this is a book about a stubborn scholar who refused to recant, or apologize for writing his opinions and scientific discoveries. It is about censorship and it is very relevant to our time for this reason.

I highly recommend this book.

Redigerat: dec 10, 2022, 12:04 pm

Name of All Things by Jenn Lyons
This is book 2 of the Chorus of Dragons series by this author. The series is epic fantasy at its best. Great characters and so many fantastical adventures. The focus of this book switches from Kihrin to the love of his life. She is the main part of this story, and when they meet up and start telling the story of their adventures to Kihrin he begins to understand what the groups mission really is. Of course, there is a dragon. There was in the previous book as well. This book isn't quite as long as the first book, but I took it with me for my airport reading on my Thanksgiving trip. I had read 125 pages of it before I left but I didn't get it read during the trip. I got distracted by too many things and did alot while I was in Bozeman so didn't have as much reading time. I like this series so much that I am taking book 3 home with me for my epic reading over Christmas break.

Redigerat: dec 3, 2022, 1:05 am

Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh
This book is a product of the author group "We Need Diverse Books" headed by the YA author Ellen Oh. The book is a compilation of short stories based on Eastern folk and fairy tales. Each story is a retelling of a folk or fairy tale from Asia. There are Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Indian, Persian, and Vietnamese stories in the collection. Like all story collections the quality was a bit uneven, but all were interesting take-offs and interpretations. I found myself intrigued enough by the stories that I began to try to figure out what the original starting point story was as I listened to them. End notes after the story were helpful and provided arich background for the stories. I listened to most of this book and the narrators were good, but I felt they did not bring anything extra to the reading and were a bit flat. Overall, I would recommend this collection with the caveat that the reader should have some prior knowledge of the folk and fairy tales in order to fully appreciate them.

Redigerat: dec 19, 2022, 5:32 pm

House of Sticks: A Memoir by Ly Tran

I wanted to like this memoir. It had great reviews, but I got very exasperated with it. I found the author boring. The memoir came across to me as one long whine, whine, whine. Or put another way "Poor, poor pitiful me." The author had parents who loved her and even though they were poor they provided what they could. The author blamed them for being poor and ignorant while doing little to change anything. She went on incessantly about the fact that she needed glasses and her parents refused to purchase them for her. She managed to get a pair of glasses due to the generosity of a teacher, but he didn't do enough to get her a pair of glasses a year later when her prescription changed. She got scholarships to prestigious New York City public High schools, and then full scholarships to prestigious Hunter College. She managed to flunk out of it, due to severe depression caused by her parents not purchasing glasses for her when she was a grade school student. Yadda, Yadda, yadda. I did finish the book, but didn't find it a pleasant experience.

I listened to the recorded version of this memoir. The book was narrated by the author. She did a good job of reading the memoir.

Redigerat: dec 19, 2022, 5:35 pm

Shooting At Chateau Rock by Martin Walker

This is book 13 in the Bruno Courrages series, better known as the Bruno, Chief of Police series. These are always fun relaxing books to read and I enjoy them. Even the incessant food and wine descriptions. This one had far too much in it about breeding Bassett hounds that I would have gladly done without, but other than that it was another pleasant mystery.

dec 22, 2022, 9:18 am

Hi Benita.

First I want to tell you I lost your adres so I could not send you a X-mas card as I intended to do. Sorry for that.

So I want to wish you all the best for 2023 and Happy Holidays. I hope to see you in 2023!