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Monthly "READS" > April 2011 reads

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JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
post her about your books from the past month


Meredith | 54 comments My April Reads were:

Fatal Remedies by Donna Leon
Rating 4/5
This one off my determination list for 2011
The Shadow of Your Smile byMary Higgins Clark
rating 3/5
This was a good suspense tale written by a good soryteller.
Knit Two by Kate Jacobs
rating 2+

I thoroughly enjoyed Jacobs first book, The Friday Night Knitting Club, however the plotlines in this book had too many coincidence.

Meredith


Richiesheff (DebATL) | 105 comments I have not been able to get thru The Friday Night Knitting Club. I have tried twice, thinking it was just the wrong book to read. I had even thought of skipping it and reading the send one, hmmm maybe not. The book makes it seem like something I would love.


JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Look here for the books I read in April and my little reviews

http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/...


Schmerguls | 213 comments What I Read in April 2011

4814. Life and Fate, by Vasily Grossman Translated and with an introduction by Robert Chandler (read 7 Apr 2011) This novel, based on the Russian author's experience as a war correspondent in the Second World War, was completed in 1960 but permission to publish it was denied. It was snuck out of Russia and first published in Switzerland in 1980, the author having died in Russia in 1964. The book is sharply critical of Stalin and the terror he enforced and one can certainly see why Stalin's successors would not let it be published in Russia till 1988. It is a big sprawling 880-page work in some ways reminiscent of War and Peace. It is laid mainly in Stalingrad beginning in the fall of 1942 and goes through the surrender of Paulus and the movement of the war to the west in 1943. The most interesting parts are about Viktor Shtrum, a physicist, who falls into disfavor but is rescued by a laudatory phone call from Stalin. The scenes detailing interrogation of arrested persons is vividly set out, and one sees why persons facing such confessed. There are also scenes from Nazi death camps full of horror. The book however, despite much of high interest, is too long and some of the bickering of characters is tiresome to read. But one has to give it high marks for its good parts. It has been called the "greatest Russian novel of the 20th century" so, despite its length , I am glad I read it.

4815. A Writer at War A Soviet Journalist with the Red Army 1941-1945, by Vasily Grossman edited and translated by Antony Beevor & Luba Vinogradova (read 12 Apr 2011) While this book is listed as by Vasily Grossman it is actually made up of his notes and some of his writings when he was a war correspondent with the Russian Army, including his time at Stalingrad and in the campaign ending in Berlin in
April 1945. It is sort of episodic and concentrates on Grossman and his writings during the war. So it is not as meaningful as to the war except as seen through Grossman's eyes. He died in 1964 and so never was free of Soviet censorship and, often, Soviet disapproval. The book has a chapter on Treblinka which describes horror beyond imaginable--hard to believe alleged humans could do what was done at Treblinka. So, especially in the latter pages this book was a riveting book, and worth reading.

4816. 365 and a Wake-Up My Year in Vietnam, by Frank Jolliff (read 14 Apr 2011) This is by a Michigan guy who was drafted and was in Vietnam in 1968-1969 for a year. He was a medic, and earned a Silver Star, which he tells about--dragging five men to safety, one at a time--in quite a matter of course manner. There is no evidence he kept a diary but the book purports to be a straightforward chronological narrative and I must conclude he padded it as if he remembered all he describes. He tells of his R & R in Tokyo and in Sydney. There are no undeleted expletives and quite a few added though the narravtive was compiled over 25 years, he says. Much in the boxk caught me up. He overstayed his time in Australia and was dropped two pay grades as a result, which I felt he brought on himself, but who am I to condemn, never having been in his shoes. A memorable account, despite the flaws I mention.

4817. The Warmth of Other Suns The Epic Story of America's Great Migration, by Isabel Wilkerson (read 19 Apr 2011) (National Book Critics Circle Nonfiction award in 2011) This is a stupendous book. It tells of the lives of three persons who left the South (one from Florida, one from Mississippi, and one from Louisiana) to go to New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, respectively. It is biographical as to these three persons, all now dead, and I found each account of high interest, very different though each person was. I was appalled, at times, by some of their behavior--Dr. Foster in California lived a high and mighty life, doing much good as a doctor but addicted to gambling. George Starling left Florida in fear for his life, and was a porter on a railroad for many years and lived a good life--but sired a bastard by adultery. Ida Mae Gladney left cotton picking in Mississippi to have to endure crime-ridden streets in Chicago. Each account is extremely well-done and ably makes the point as to the significance of the migration to the North. Easily one of the best and most moving books I've read this year, and clearly a most worthwhile book to read and ponder.

4818. Rose in a Storm A Novel, by Jon Katz (read 20 Apr 2011) This reads like a kids' book and is about a border collie on a farm in the Adirondacks. It is a farm like none I ever imagined and the animals do not act like any animals I ever heard of. There is a five-day snowstorm and the dog, Rose, does things no dog I ever knew did. Fantasy, and a lot of telling what the dog thought. I have read lots of dog stories but enjoyed this one not at all, since it has no resemblance to reality. I read it because I thought my son Bouf had read it but he tells me he did not. So I read it by mistake, and reading it was a waste of time.

4819. The Nature of the Judicial Process, by Benjamin N, Cardozo. LL.D. (read 20 Apr 2011) This sets out four lectures Cardozo gave in 1921 at Yale. What he said is still very pertinent today, and makes much sense. He was clearly on the right side as to the need to look at the Constitution and interpret it based on today's world rather than as to the 18th century world. As he says, most of what a judge decides is not of lasting significance but decides a dispute based on facts. When I think of the glib way tea party people or Bob Vander Plaats and his like look at a judge's work one knows that they are out of touch with the way judges should interpret the Constitution. This is an excellent book, even though the lectures were delivered 90 years ago.

4820. The Lion's Game, by Nelson DeMIlle (read 25 Apr 2011) This novel, published in 2000, is the 11th DeMille novel I've read. John Corey, an ex-N. Y. cop, is with the FBI terror fighters and is at JFK airport on Apr 15, 1999 or so when a plane lands by auto-pilot and everybody aboard is apparently dead. The guy responsible, Asad Khalil, is a Libyan whose mother and siblings were killed by the American air raid on Libya on Apr 15, 1986. Khalil sets off to e kill the men who did the raid and is a cold-blooded killer who proceeds to kill like clockwork. The account of his journey is interspersed with John Corey and Kate Mayfield of the FBI trying to solve and catch the killer. This is extremely exciting though disturbing since the bad guy keeps killing and doesn't care if he dies. When they finally know what he's doing the story kind of descends into farce. Lots of undeleted and unnecessary expletives, fornication and unlikely behavior and the excitement declines and peters out in the end . So I was disappointed in the book which is not as good as some of his others. Corey wears on one and his wise cracks as he is in much peril are so unrealistic they annoy. But see No. 4822, below.

4821. Patronage Histories and Biographies of North Dakota's Federal Judges, by Ardell Tharaldson (read 26 Apr 2011) This is a 2002 book which has brief sketches of the ten men who have been Federal District judges in North Dakota. The book pays particular attention to the struggle to be named judge. The most famous judge covered by the book is Ronald Davies, who went to Georgetown Law School, worked on the Hill, and graduated from there in 1930. He had been a Federal judge only since Aug 16, 1955 when he became, in 1957, a big figure in the Little Rock desegregation case, where he did everything right. Patrick Conmy, who I think was an opponent of mine in a hearing I had in Bismarck in 1964, also went to Georgetown and was one of the ten judges covered by the book, North Dakota political history is fascinating and so this book was fun to read.

4822. The Lion A Novel by Nelson DeMille (read 29 Apr 2011) Only when I finished The Lion's Game did I learn there was a sequel so of course I had to read it. Asad after three years comes back to the U.S. to finish his evil wok. Again, he is frightfully successful and one's only consolation is we know John Corey will get him this time. There are fantastic events--such as a sky-diving sequence seemingly impossible, and for a bit as they were trying to bait Asad the book kind of drug, but there is a rip-roaring climax, and another after that. The gore equals that in The Lion's Game, but it is quite a book, though I suppose pretty predictable. But one just goes with the book's flow and it is might enthralling.


JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Schmerguls, I used to be a fan of Jon Katz's, read his blog faithfully, and then realized how much he exaggerated and how very special he thinks he is. So your description of the book does not surprise me.


message 7: by Alias Reader (last edited May 01, 2011 09:55AM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) I rate my book on a 0-5 scale - plus/minus


Middlesex
Rate 2 +

The Confession
Rate 3 minus

Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian
Rate 3 plus

All That Is Bitter and Sweet: A Memoir
rate 3

My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey
Rate 2 plus

Not such a great month. Not a 4 in the bunch.
Let's hope May is better.


Alias Reader (AliasReader) JoAnn/QuAppelle wrote: "Schmerguls, I used to be a fan of Jon Katz's, read his blog faithfully, and then realized how much he exaggerated and how very special he thinks he is. So your description of the book does not surp..."
--------------

I thought I had read a Katz book, when you mentioned him on the boards, JoAnn. But I can't find the title with a quick scan of my journal.

I've kept the jnl since 1999 and it's getting more difficult to go back and find titles. I guess I should also keep it on the computer. I am not sure what program to use to help me search the database I create. I wonder if Excel will work.


Sandi (sandin954) | 211 comments Hi everyone. Had a little more variety this month than usual. Here are my April reads:

Top Read

The Winter Sea by Susanna KearsleyThe Winter Sea
Susanna Kearsley
I rarely read romances but when I saw this was the April book of the month over at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books I thought I would give it a try and really ended up enjoying it. The contemporary storyline was fine but the historical sections were very good and I learned quite a bit about the Jacobite uprising of 1708.

Goods Reads

Bloody Harvests by Richard KunzmannBloody Harvests
Richard Kunzmann
Intense, disturbing thriller set in the criminal underworld of Johannesburg South Africa. The author mixes African myths and legends with everyday criminal activity. Lots of violence against children so not a read for everyone.

Blood, Bones, & Butter by Gabrielle HamiltonBlood, Bones, & Butter
Gabrielle Hamilton
The owner of the highly acclaimed New York City restaurant Prune shares snippets of her life and how various experiences shaped her as a chef. Really enjoyed the first half of the memoir but felt it lost a bit of steam at the end. Listened to the audio version which was competently read by the author.

The Brass Go-Between (Perennial Library) by Oliver BleeckThe Brass Go-Between
Oliver Bleeck
I always enjoy suspense thrillers written in the sixties and this was no exception. Nice, crisp storytelling with a sensibly cautious hero and enough action and twists to keep the pages turning.

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth HoffmanSaving CeeCee Honeycutt
Beth Hoffman
A nice feel good story that was perhaps a bit too sweet for me but the narration by Jenna Lamia was so excellent that I had no problems finishing the audio.

OK reads

Half Empty by David RakoffHalf Empty
David Rakoff
I did not think this was quite as good as the first book by the author that I listened to Don't Get Too Comfortable: the Indignities of Coach Class, the Torments of Low Thread Count, the Never- Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems but there were some interesting thoughts on pessimism and health issues. Listened to the audio read by the author.

The Armageddon Rag by George R.R. MartinThe Armageddon Rag
George R.R. Martin
I have really enjoyed other works by this author but found this book a bit underwhelming. I did not really connect with any of the characters and thought the plot, which held a lot of promise, just did not deliver the bang or chills that I expected.


Sandi (sandin954) | 211 comments Alias Reader wrote: "I've kept the jnl since 1999 and it's getting more difficult to go back and find titles. I guess I should also keep it on the computer. I am not sure what program to use to help me search the database I create. I wonder if Excel will work.
"


I have used the database program that comes with Microsoft Works since 1995 for my booklist. Luckily the program has come pre-installed with all the computers I have purchased over the years. I can sort by author, title etc. The only drawback is that is cannot do sums so to figure out my pages read for the year I have to copy to another program.


JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Sandi, I am having a hard time getting through Blood, Bones, and Butter. I think is is so poorly written - hard to believe the author is a graduate of an MFA writing program! To be honest, I am also finding it pretty boring. I am doing a LOT of skimming!


NancyInWI (nanckopf) | 47 comments JoAnn/QuAppelle wrote: "Schmerguls, I used to be a fan of Jon Katz's, read his blog faithfully, and then realized how much he exaggerated and how very special he thinks he is. So your description of the book does not surp..."

And my husband and I just watched "A Dog Year" last night and were underwhelmed. I couldn't believe the end was the ending because nothing much happened and certainly nothing had be resolved.


NancyInWI (nanckopf) | 47 comments My April reads, a short list, since I've been back to a fairly normal life/schedule after 3 months of surgery recovery:

The Hunger Games (Hunger Games,  #1) by Suzanne Collins I read this one because it got rave reviews everywhere I looked. I wasn't impressed. I guess it's billed as Young Adult book and it certainly was better than the vampire YA book that I read, but it still wasn't very interesting to me. Gave it a 2 out of 5.

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah Started out well, dragged in the middle, and had an emotional ending. I think it repeated too much and even though the ending was supposed to resolve all the bad feelings for the 2 daughters, I still was unable to like or feel sympathy for the mother who was so cold to them all their lives.


Alias Reader (AliasReader) Sandi wrote: I have used the database program that comes with Microsoft Works since 1995 for my booklist. Luckily the program has come pre-installed with all the computers I have purchased over the years. I can sort by author, title etc. The only drawback is that is cannot do sums so to figure out my pages read for the year I have to copy to another program.
-------------

Thanks, Sandi. I think I have MS Works on my computer. I've never used it. I'll have to check it out.


Sandi (sandin954) | 211 comments JoAnn/QuAppelle wrote: "Sandi, I am having a hard time getting through Blood, Bones, and Butter. I think is is so poorly written - hard to believe the author is a graduate of an MFA writing program! To be honest, I am al..."

I did not notice the writing so much since I listened to the audio but did think that the structure was lacking a bit and felt the whole memoir just skimmed along with no real depth.


NancyInWI (nanckopf) | 47 comments Sandi wrote: "Alias Reader wrote: "I've kept the jnl since 1999 and it's getting more difficult to go back and find titles. I guess I should also keep it on the computer. I am not sure what program to use to hel..."

I kept everything on Works also, way back to 1996. Somewhere along the way, the new works would not open up the saved spreadsheets from older versions. I ended up printing out what I had from a computer that would open them, and then started anew using an Excel spreadsheet.


message 17: by Alias Reader (last edited May 02, 2011 03:50PM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) The MS Works and Excel look the same to me.

How does one do a search for example if you want to see all books written by an author? Or all the books you read on the topic of Lincoln?

Thanks.


NancyInWI (nanckopf) | 47 comments Yes, there is a search function with Excel. It's called "find"


message 19: by Alias Reader (last edited May 02, 2011 04:10PM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) I figured it out. Thanks, Nancy!

JoAnn, sorry I went OT.


JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Sandi, "no real depth" is a good way to describe Blood, Bones, and Butter.

She is so wordy and repetitive at times and at other times she does not include important background information.


Connie (Constants) | 49 comments Cleaning Nabokov's House - Leslie Daniels. A divorced woman loses custody of her children and moves into a house that she discovers was once owned by Vladimir Nabokov. In the house she discovers a manuscript that might or might not have been written by him. Along the way to discovering who really wrote the manuscript she opens a brothel - always referred to in the novel as a "cat house" - staffed by young male athletes from the local college, to service the women of their small upstate New York town. She may or may not find true love in the process too. Yeah, I'm confused too. B-

New York - Edward Rutherfurd. Reader, I finished it! It turns out I enjoyed the first 200 pages and the last 200 pages, but it was those 400 pages in the middle that almost made me stop reading it. I used to enjoy historical fiction, but I just don't seem to have the fortitude or patience anymore for those big fat, Michener-ish books I used to love. Another thing I didn't like about New York was the way the fictional characters were always running into real historical figures - dinner with Benjamin Franklin or hearing Lincoln speak at Cooper Union. That made the story seem less authentic and more contrived than it might have been otherwise. B-

Bossypants - Tina Fey. I enjoyed everything about this book, right down to the font it was printed in. Honestly, each exclamation point looked like it was hand-painted on the page! I always thought Tina Fey was funny, and she's often made me laugh, including a few dozen more times while reading Bossypants. A

Malled : My Unintentional Career in Retail - Caitlin Kelly. I really intended to like this book, instead I hated it. After losing her job as a reporter for a New York newspaper, Kelly took a job working at a North Face store in an upscale mall near her home. Apparently she didn't understand the difference between the two professions. In one, you chat with the Queen of England on the royal yacht Britannia (a fact she mentioned 3 times in the first 30 pages) and in one you have to clean the bathrooms in a store. Kelly couldn't get over the fact that they had the audacity to give her an employee number and expect her to clock in and she was shocked to be working with people who had visible tattoos. Oh, the horror. She worked an average of 1 day a week for 2+ years and quit because she couldn't stand the abuse from customers. Not recommended D-

Unbroken - Laura Hillenbrand. Fascinating, horrifying, and ultimately inspiring true story of Louis Zamperini. After beating the odds of a troubled childhood, he competed as a runner in the 1936 Olympics. When his plane crashed in the Pacific during WWII he somehow survived on a raft for 40+ days, only to be "rescued" by the Japanese, who sent him to a series of POW and slave labor camps where he suffered almost unimaginable abuse. But true to the title, he remained "unbroken." At times a troubling read, but I think it's an important book that speaks volumes about the strength of the human spirit. A


Cleaning Nabokov's House: A Novel

New York: The Novel

Bossypants

Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption


Leo | 45 comments Interesting review Connie, enjoyed reading it. Thanks


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