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What did you read last month? > What I read in July 2011

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Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8174 comments Here is the thread to list your July reads.

It would be helpful to others if you would:
- provide a GR link
- A few sentences telling how you feel about the book
- Give a rating

Thanks !


Lois McKellips (Loismonster) | 2 comments This months I read little bee. I rate it 5 stars. It's a beautiful story and I beautifully written! I recommend this book! :)

-Lois!

Little Bee


message 3: by Alias Reader (last edited Jul 26, 2011 08:30AM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8174 comments Thanks for sharing Lois. And welcome to BNC.:)

I read Little Bee a few years ago with a f2f book group. It is a very popular book with book groups.
--

Edit---

I just realized you said Little Bee and not the Secret life of Bees.

I read Little Bee last year with my f2f book and I loved it. I thought it was thought provoking. I gave it my top rating.


message 4: by Mikela (last edited Jul 26, 2011 02:39AM) (new)

Mikela I’m a reader without an ounce of writing ability so please bear with me on my wandering comments.

The Awakening - 2*s. Genre: YA Paranormal Fiction.
The second in the Darkest Powers Trilogy. Rating this book was difficult as this is not a genre that I'm very familiar with. First, I really resent series book that are not complete in themselves. In my ignorance I had read the first of the trilogy only to discover that to find out what happened I had to read this book. That is great except that I next had to read the third book. That said, I think my rating is generous

The Reckoning- 2*s. Genre: YA Paranormal Fiction
The third and thankfully last of the trilogy. Only read this to discover what the final outcome was. Because it wasn’t written as one book, it was chopped up without a consistent flow. For me it was a waste of time and money. Still can’t believe I fell for this. Sorry, Kelly Armstrong fans.

The Master and Margarita – 2*s. Genre: Literary Fiction
This Russian book is part fable, part slapstick, and part satire on good and evil. Although highly rated and reviewed, with the exception of a few chapters, particularly Satan’s ball, I really didn’t enjoy it very much. But then I don’t like Monty Python or Pink Panther movies either. This is most likely a failing in me and not the book. To quote a Goodreads friend, “perhaps this wasn’t my time for this book”.

Oscar and Lucinda – 4*s. Genre: Literary Fiction
Takes place primarily in mid-19th century Australia. Oscar is an English clergyman with a love of gambling. Lucinda is an unconventional woman who values her independence, also loves to gamble and against the social mores buys a glass factory. This is a love story made very frustrating due to their inability to be open about their feelings for each other. An excellent read with a surprise ending.

The Princess Bride – 4*s. Genre: Fantasy/Fiction
I think I’m the only person who hadn’t seen the movie or read the book before. I have since seen the movie and, although good, the book is so much better in my opinion.

The Long Goodbye – 4*s. Genre: Crime/Mystery Fiction
An excellent mystery with Raymond Chandler’s hard-boiled detective, Philip Marlowe. Well written with great suspense.

The Alchemist – 4*s. Genre: Literary Fiction
Simple, powerful, spiritual. Although many would disagree with me, I love Paulo Coelho’s writing style that, much like Ishiguro, is of subtlety and calm, making his point and giving you food for thought without bludgeoning you.

Night – 4*s. Genre: Non Fiction
Elie Wiesel’s heartbreaking account of being a Jew in Nazi Germany and its concentration camps.

By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept – 4*s. Genre: Literary Fiction
The story of two childhood lovers that meet again as adults. He is now a spiritual leader and she is a student determined to make a success of her life and bury her heart. Once again I love Paulo Coelho’s writing.

Tinkers – 3*s. Genre: Literary Fiction
George is dying and in his final days examining (hallucinating) not only his life but that of his father. It tells of how interwoven the lives of fathers and sons are. A good well written read but, despite its Pulitzer, for me not a great one.

The Thin Man – 3*s. Genre: Crime/Mystery Fiction
Another mystery written in the golden days of detective stories. The banter between Nora and Charles is witty and charming. You get a glimpse of the lives of rich socialites during the early years of the 21st century with their heavy drinking and partying. An entertaining read but thin on substance.

Middlesex –5*s. Genre: Literary Fiction
This book was an amazingly good, thought provoking book and will remain with me for a long time. It deals with a hermaphrodite that is raised as a girl, Callie to become known as Cal, but at puberty her male hormones take over. It is a family saga beginning with her grandparents in Greece and continues with the lives of her parents and Cal’s early life in America. This is the type of book you will either love or hate; I doubt you can be neutral about it.

Relic – 2*s. Genre: Thriller/Fiction.
“Investigating a series of savage murders that disrupt a massive new exhibition at the New York Museum of Natural History, graduate student Margo Green finds a clue in a failed Amazonian expedition”. Highly predictable. Mediocre writing.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet – 3*s Genre: Fiction
Did I like this book? Despite its sentimentality, yes I did but I didn’t love it. The internment of the Japanese during World War II is a period of shame for the U.S. and it is mostly forgotten now, or never learned by younger generations. With no preaching or hand wringing, the author succeeded in showing the injustice shown these American citizens and how easily liberty can be lost to a president who thinks an executive order is above the Constitution and who is supported by a complicit mob. The author also gave us a glimpse of different cultures and the intergenerational differences and internal struggles between them.
I felt I knew Henry, but the other main characters, Keiko and Sheldon, were not as developed as I would have hoped for. Keiko’s father was introduced almost haphazardly, yet he was a terrific contrast to Henry’s father and could have been fleshed out more. I wanted to know him. Finally, if anyone has ever done an internet search for a former female friend who has since married and taken her husband’s unknown name and moved to you don’t where, you know it isn’t easy or quick and sometimes impossible to find her yet we are to believe that in the 80s this was accomplished so easily. Please remember that this was before Facebook or other social media sites and every family didn’t have at least one computer hooked up to the internet. It was tied up just a little too neatly and unbelievably at the end for my taste which is why I didn’t give it 4*s, but it was an enjoyable read.

The Time Machine - 3*s – Genre: Classic Science Fiction.
It is amazing that H.G. Wells wrote this in 1895 and it still garners interest today. He was a genius who brings you into the future world of Morlocks (underground dwelling cannibals) and Eloi (their aboveground dwelling prey) and weaves a superb science fiction for the era that will keep your interest today. Well written with terrific imagination and good insight as to what keeps man from devolving. A short, easy enjoyable read.

The Invisible Man - 3*s - Genre: Classic Science Fiction.
The writings of H.G. Wells cannot be compared to the more sophisticated work by modern science fiction writers of today but instead taken as a work of its time, the late 1890’s. This is the story of a morally corrupt scientist who develops a means of making himself invisible and his journey to escape the consequences, profit, and to become supreme ruler by instilling terror. The premise and the science were admirable. I enjoyed this book even more than The Time Machine. He well deserves to be remembered and read today.

Cannery Row – 4*s - Genre: Literary Fiction.
Rather than being plot driven this novella delves into the lives of the people on Cannery Road and is character driven. No matter that this takes place during the depression and the denizens are all down on their luck, Steinbeck shows the basic goodness of these people, their intense friendships, generosity of spirit, and their humanity as they intermingle and help one another get through their lives. Steinbeck’s writing is just stunning and a pleasure to read.

Oroonoko - 3*s – Genre: Classic Literary Fiction.
I really don’t know how to react to this book, written in 1688, nor really how to rate it. I debated on giving it a 2 or a 3 but in the end decided that it merited the 3. To what do I compare it with? Prince Oroonoko and Imoinda, his love interest and wife, are confronted with his grandfather’s jealously and wrath. The grandfather desires Imoinda for himself, and being the king it is his right to negate this union and take her as his own. When their love continues the grandfather ends up casting them into slavery where the story continues. It deals with the brutality of slavery, but here Oroonoko’s hypocrisy is evident as in his homeland he owned many slaves, captured, bought and sold them, but when he himself is a slave he talks about the ills of slavery. This is a quick read and moderately enjoyable.


Bobbie57 (bobbie572002) | 862 comments Thank you for your great comments. I disagree with you. Your writing ability is just fine!!


Connie (Connie_G) | 248 comments I enjoyed your comments on these books, especially since many of them are on my TBR list.


Marialyce Mikela, I also enjoyed your thoughts about these books. I did read Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (which I thought would be a great YA book), Tinkers (which surprised me by winning last year's Pulitzer), Night, The Master And Margarita (which I needed copious notes for!), and The Princess Bride which was adorable.

I agree with what you said on all of them. Thanks!


Sherry (sethurner) (sthurner) Mikela, I am closing in on the ending of Tinkers in audio format. I had suggested it for a group read here, and while I am enjoying it very much for its gorgeous language, I can see that it wouldn't have appealed to a wide range of readers. The non-linear plot and imaginative/poetic use of language wouldn't be for everyone.


message 9: by Alias Reader (last edited Jul 26, 2011 08:36AM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8174 comments Mikela wrote: "I’m a reader without an ounce of writing ability so please bear with me on my wandering comments.
=================

Totally not true. Your reviews were excellent !
I enjoyed reading them a lot.

You had a terrific reading month. Thanks for sharing.

As to Night, I thought it was excellent. I would even go as far as to say it is a must read for everyone.

Once the month ends I will post my reads as I am hoping to get one more in before the month ends.


Elaine Langer | 125 comments I read a bit (for me at least) this month.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: 3 star's
I enjoyed this book despite all the issues we had with the language and story line itself.

The Front Porch Prophet 4 star's
I like this book alot. I started it because it was short and I was stuck at the airport. I laughed out loud while reading it. THe characters were vivid and I could hear them talk, imagine their faces. I really enjoyed it for what it was...a cute fictional book. Sometimes you need something like this.

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother 3 star's
After reading this book I have to admit I was surprised what a stir it made. Other then her craziness with the musical instruments (I still am not sure why she focused on them to such a point) I think it is pretty typical cultural upbringing. I was more suprised that she took her kids out of school to study the instruments. She was funny and nuts. I think alot of what she did was for herself and not her kids.

Leaving Van Gogh: A Novel 1 star
At first I was dissappointed this was historical fiction, I thought it was more a study. Then I tried to open my mind and enjoy. I really couldnt. I like the descriptions of paintings but I really thought it was a bore.


message 11: by Mikela (last edited Jul 26, 2011 09:23AM) (new)

Mikela Elaine wrote: "I read a bit (for me at least) this month.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: 3 star's
I enjoyed this book despite all the issues we had with the language and story line it..."


Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother was one of the books that was on my "to-read list". After your comments I think I'll move it down a few or move to my "consider list".


message 12: by Mikela (last edited Jul 26, 2011 09:36AM) (new)

Mikela Sherry (sethurner) wrote: "Mikela, I am closing in on the ending of Tinkers in audio format. I had suggested it for a group read here, and while I am enjoying it very much for its gorgeous language, I can see that it wouldn..."

It wasn't the non linear plot line, which I rather enjoyed, or the poetic language that bothered me (this I also enjoyed). I think I would have rated the book higher until the point where the father was considering his own father's insanity and we were told that he never discussed this with George. If true, how could George incorporate this into his dying thoughts? I also worried about how George knew about his father's life after he left until it came out that the father visited him that last time. These are little things but they cloud one's judgement of the book none the less. Unless, of course, I missed something.


Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8174 comments Mikela wrote: "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother was one of the books that was on my "to-read list". After your comments I think I'll move it down a few or move to my "consider list".
--------------

It's a quick read and I thought an interesting read. Definitely different from other books I've read.


Susan (Nutz4Books) | 236 comments I loved your comments, Mikela. It's interesting to me that you gave Middlesex five stars. I loved that book, but so many people didn't. It's one of those polarizing books, I think.

On the other hand, I really didn't like The Alchemist - another book that people seem to have strong feelings about.


message 15: by Mikela (last edited Jul 27, 2011 09:41AM) (new)

Mikela Susan wrote: "I loved your comments, Mikela. It's interesting to me that you gave Middlesex five stars. I loved that book, but so many people didn't. It's one of those polarizing books, I think.

..."


I agree and believe that I said that Middlesex was the type of book that you would either love or hate. Also mentioned that many would not agree with me about really liking The Alchemist. That is what is so wonderful about having so many books available to satisfy our diverse tastes. While I absolutely adore Paulo Coelho's style which speaks to my soul, he is not for everyone.
As for recommendations of books, I choose books from readers who have similar tastes and give less weight to those who don't. Even then, one can't be assured that we will feel the same about a book. My comments and ratings were simply my opinion at the time I read it. You've probably noticed, as have I, that our tastes change with time. I shutter to think of some of the books that I thought were so good 10 or 15 years ago, now I wouldn't give them bookshelf room.
Don't particularly think it matters much which genre or which book one likes as long as they READ.
Something that just occured to me. Maybe the fact that a fiction book is so polarizing is a mark of a good book. After all, who needs a diet of mediocre books you neither love nor hate.


Stephanie W (stephy711) | 45 comments This month I read

A Wild Sheep Chase - Haruki Murakami (4 stars)
Murakami creates a dreamlike narrative that I couldn't remember afterward even if I tried. It's just a collection of images and it's beautiful, albeit much much more confusing than Wind Up Bird

Homage to Catalonia - George Orwell (5 stars)
Orwell writes a memoir about fighting fascism during the Spanish Civil War. Yet his fight is not one of pen and paper, but a fight in the trenches with a point of a bayonet. Until reading this book, I never thought I liked Orwell's prose style based simply on Animal Farm and 1984. I realize now that I was wrong, and the descriptive style of Catalonia was absolutely beautiful.

I also finished The Corrections in July, but seeing as I was mostly reading that in June, I will leave it be.


Michele Weiner | 142 comments The Snowman (Harry Hole, #7) by Jo Nesbø The opening scenes are eerie, for sure, but the mystery is not quite as supernatural as you might think. It wasn't bad, but I'm having trouble remembering who did it and why, so unless I'm really slipping, I'd have to say it wasn't that good.

In the Garden of Beasts  Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson I liked this one very much. It was about Joseph Dodd, a professor who was appointed Ambassador to Germany by FDR in the '30's, just as Hitler was taking over the country. The Ambassador, no friend of the Jews himself, could not stomach the Nazis and their sophomoric "ideals." His promiscuous daughter got herself involved with Nazis and began by admiring the Nazi revolution. She then met a Russian spy, became enamored of him, and decided to spy for the USSR, which she did for many years. Good book.

Rosa by Joanathan Rabb An imaginary mystery surrounding the death of Communist activist Rosa Luxembourg, who was thrown into a canal in Berlin during the brief period of democracy before Hitler came to power. There are actually two murderers, one used by the other, and lots of political intrigue. The Nazis remind me very much of some of the persons on the current political scene. Enough said.

Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead by Sara Gran In post-Katrina New Orleans, unconventional private detective Claire De Witt is hired by a survivor to find out what happened to his uncle, a prosecutor in corrupt NO. She is mystical and weird and is the heir to the traditions of her mentor and the mentee of a young NO thug. Different, not great.

The Glass Room by Simon Mawer Historical fiction set in the Nazi era. A Jewish Czech businessman builds a house on a hill overlooking a fictional city. The architect he hires becomes world renowned, and the house itself a World Heritage site. The author's best prose describes the famous glass room and the onyx wall dividing the vast spaces on the ground floor. The family is based on history, and the house actually exists in Brno. The book is unfortunately not so good. One of he main characters turns out to be a lesbian, which I swear is a device to put her in intimate contact with every other major character in the book, and the coincidences at the end are laughable. Great about the house, though.

Faithful Place (Dublin Murder Squad, #3) by Tana French Another mystery, this time set in working class Dublin. It was so authentic (at least I think it was. I've only been to Dublin once myself) that it reminded me very much of The Fighter, which was set among Boston's Irish working class. I thought the writing was great, the dialogue true, and the mystery wasn't bad, either.

A Bridge to the Stars by Henning Mankell I love this author, hated this book. It's about a small boy who has some adventures and it goes nowhere. Disappointing.


Mikela Stephanie/Michelle: Some very interesting choices, my to-read list just grew. Thanks.


Elaine Langer | 125 comments Mikela wrote: "Susan wrote: "I loved your comments, Mikela. It's interesting to me that you gave Middlesex five stars. I loved that book, but so many people didn't. It's one of those polarizing boo..."

I liked Middlesex alot. But I will say there were a few times I was just stuck in this book. I remember putting it down a few times unable to go on fo ra while. But some how I did enjoy it.


Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8174 comments Stephanie wrote: "This month I read

A Wild Sheep Chase - Haruki Murakami (4 stars)
Murakami creates a dreamlike narrative that I couldn't remember afterward even if I tried. It's just a collection of images and it'..."

----------------

Welcome to BNC, Stephanie !
Thanks so much for sharing you reads with us.


Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8174 comments Michele wrote:I liked this one very much. It was about Joseph Dodd, a professor who was appointed Ambassador to Germany by FDR in the '30's, just as Hitler was taking over the country. The Ambassador, no friend of the Jews himself, could not stomach the Nazis and their sophomoric "ideals." His promiscuous daughter got herself involved with Nazis and began by admiring the Nazi revolution. She then met a Russian spy, became enamored of him, and decided to spy for the USSR, which she did for many years. Good book."
----------------

Glad to hear you liked this one, Michele. I've read some mixed reviews on the boards. Maybe it is a love or hate it book. I do think that period is an exciting one to read about. I'll be reading my first Larson when we do our Sept group read. (The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America)


Mikela This will most likely be the last book I will be able to complete before month end.

Little Bee - 3*s – Genre: Fiction.
I fought with myself whether to give this 3*s or 4*s but then decided there wasn’t enough merit to the book for a 4. Oh, I wish we could give half stars. The author was just a little too ambitious in trying to tackle all the sub-stories involved and put them into one fairly small book. The story of each of the main characters was touched on but never really developed, merely glossed over. The book was certainly heart wrenching but I never felt invested in the characters no matter how much I liked them and wanted to be. A good but not great book.


Mikela Nice list of reading you did. Several of your books are on my to-read list so it's nice to see you really liked them.


Michele Weiner | 142 comments Mikela wrote: "This will most likely be the last book I will be able to complete before month end.

Little Bee - 3*s – Genre: Fiction.
I fought with myself whether to give this 3*s or 4*s but ..."


Sound reasoning, Mikela. I came down on the side of 4 stars myself. I thought it was stunning. How lucky we are - so far - to have a stable society. Hope it lasts.


message 26: by Alias Reader (last edited Jul 28, 2011 07:09AM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8174 comments Jenna wrote: "I'm new to this group but have been doing a fair bit of reading these past couple of months.
---------------
Welcome, Jenna. Thanks for sharing your reads with us.

I've also read The Elegance of the Hedgehog and loved it.

I gave Little Bee a 5. It was my f2f book club selection and it gave us a great discussion. I loved the way the characters are put at a crossroads and must make a decision. Then, I felt, the author says, you reader now know the situation, what are you going to do? Are you going to close the book move on? Say it's not my country or are you going to get involved? It's the readers crossroad.

I am on my libraries list to read the author's other book Incendiary~~Chris Cleave


JoAnn/QuAppelle | 712 comments Jenna, I LOVED the Guernsey book. I just came upon this recently and thought it was interesting

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF...


Madrano (madran) | 3009 comments Jenna, Michele & Lois, welcome to Book Nook Cafe. Thank you for sharing the titles of books you've read recently. There's some good reading listed.

deborah


Katz Nancy from NJ (Nancyk18) Michele - One of my book groups is reading The Glass Room by Mawer and also In the Garden of Beasts. I am looking forwrad to both books.

Also, wanted to suggest the Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer which 2 friends raved about. I have an ARC copy of this and will begin it soon- famous last words.


Stephanie W (stephy711) | 45 comments Mikela wrote: "Stephanie/Michelle: Some very interesting choices, my to-read list just grew. Thanks."

Glad I could provide you with some new reading material selections. I'm really enjoying this group and all the great things it has to offer (though my real life to-read pile is so big right now I probably don't need other suggestions)


Michele Weiner | 142 comments Thanks to everybody. I always find some new things to look at and I appreciate the time everyone takes.


Miss Jimenez | 8 comments The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews During the Holocaust: 5 stars
It's been a while since I've read a picture book but the story behind it caught my interest along with the illustrations. It's mainly about how Muslims in Paris were able to save Jews during the occupation by hiding them in the city's largest mosque. Not only would they give them shelter but fake names and papers to escape to a safer region away from the German Nazis.

Carmilla:3 stars
I was slightly disappointed in Carmilla. I enjoyed the story but it would have probably have been more interesting to read if I hadn't read Dracula before or the summary of it in Wikipedia.

The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus:5 stars
Ironically, it was over a hundred degrees when I read this. Nevertheless, despite the story being recommended for someone much younger, I deeply loved the story and plan on re-reading it again in December for the holidays.

The Oedipus Cycle: Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus & Antigone: 5 stars
I actually thought I was going to hate this but ended up liking it. Might actually be around 4 stars but the Greek half of the book kept me giddy with amusement whenever I looked at it to see how it compared to the English side.

The Girl Who Played with Fire: 5 stars
Like most of Larsson's books it started rather slow at first but climaxed into an interesting plot. I liked the various small side-plots and the way the writer doesn't leave the reader thinking, "okay...so how did the investigators do that with so little time and evidence?" I somehow always found Larsson's time frames a bit more believable than those of other mysteries. Yet, somehow this book reminded me of a dark "Where's Waldo?" Probably just my bad sense of humor.

The Painted Bird:3 stars
Even after a few days after reading the book I'm not sure how to actually express my opinions on the book.


Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8174 comments Miss Jimenez wrote: "The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Rescued Jews During the Holocaust: 5 stars
It's been a while since I've read a picture book but the story behind it caught my intere..."

----------------

Thanks for sharing Miss J. You had a nice reading month indeed !

The Grand Mosque
book looks quite interesting. For those that read Sarah's Key it might make a nice complimentary read even though it is a YA book.

I see my library has a copy. I'm going to check it out. Thanks !


message 34: by Connie (last edited Jul 28, 2011 10:04PM) (new)

Connie (Connie_G) | 248 comments The Secret River: 5 *
This tells about the British convicts that were sent to the New South Wales colony which became Australia. Well-written novel.

Sea Escape: A Novel: 3 *
After her mother has a stroke, Laura is trying to deal with all the obligations of the sandwich generation. The book deals with mother/daughter relationships, and hidden family secrets. The letters written by Helen's deceased husband both hide and reveal the secrets of their marriage.

A Cup of Friendship: 4 *
This book takes place in Kabul, and has colorful characters in dangerous Afghanistan. It deals with friendship, the treatment of women in Afghanistan, and romantic relationships.

Little Bee: 5 *
Little Bee is a young Nigerian refugee in London who shares one fateful day in her history in Nigeria with Sarah, a British magazine editor. She enters England without papers, and asks for help from Sarah who is also going through a difficult time in her life.

The Whore's Child: 4 *
A collection of short stories by Richard Russo. The title story is the story selected by the Boston Book Festival this year to be read citywide in October.

Sarah's Key: 4 *
This book tells two interweaving stories of the Velodrome d'Hiver arrests of Parisien Jewish families in 1942, and an American journalist researching the horrible event. An excellent book, especially Sarah's story.

Restless in Carolina: A Novel: 3 *
This is a humorous book about a tree-hugging widow trying to sell her family's estate to an environmentally friendly buyer. It has a cute, light romance. Many Christian scripture quotes. This was a Goodreads giveaway.

Friendship Bread: 3 *
This is an enjoyable, light book about friendships, adjusting to a small town, family relationships, and helping others. It has recipes in the back for various kinds of Amish Friendship Bread.

The Tiger's Wife: 4 *
Fables about the tiger's wife, the deathless man, and other folk superstitions are interwoven with real events in the war-torn Balkans. It's beautifully written, confusing in parts, and people who enjoy magical realism will like this book.

The Butterfly's Daughter: 4 *
Luz's grandmother has told her magical Mexican tales about the monarch butterflies that fly from the northern USA to Mexico each year. When her grandmother dies, Luz starts on a similiar journey to fulfill her grandmother's wish to have her ashes returned to that area of Mexico. It is a story of family relationships, coming of age decisions, Mexican traditions, and the life cycle of the monarchs.


message 35: by Marialyce (last edited Jul 29, 2011 04:52AM) (new)

Marialyce Connie..I loved Little Bee too! Sarah's Key and The Tiger's Wife were super too! I have added some of the other books you mentioned. Thank you for some great ideas!


message 36: by Alias Reader (last edited Jul 29, 2011 06:52AM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8174 comments Elaine wrote:
Leaving Van Gogh: A Novel 1 star
At first I was dissappointed this was historical fiction, I thought it was more a study. Then I tried to open my mind and enjoy. I really couldnt. I like the descriptions of paintings but I really thought it was a bore.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

July 30
Vincent van Gogh died on this date in 1890. He had shot himself in the chest in a wheat field two days before, and managed to make it home to his own bed. When he was found, he allegedly said, "I shot myself ... I only hope I haven't botched it," and all he would tell police was, "What I have done is nobody else's business. I am free to do what I like with my own body." The doctor decided not to remove the bullet, and his brother Theo was sent for. He rushed from Paris to his brother's bedside and reported van Gogh's last words were "The sadness will go on forever." Van Gogh's friend and fellow painter Emile Bernard wrote about the funeral:

"The sun was terribly hot outside. We climbed the hill outside Auvers talking about him, about the daring impulse he had given to art, of the great projects he was always thinking about, and about the good he had done to all of us. We reached the cemetery, a small new cemetery strewn with new tombstones. It is on the little hill above the fields that were ripe for harvest under the wide blue sky that he would still have loved ... perhaps.
Then he was lowered into the grave. ... Anyone would have started crying at that moment ... the day was too much made for him for one not to imagine that he was still alive and enjoying it ..."

Experts have argued over the exact nature of his mental illness for nearly a century, variously blaming schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, epilepsy, paint poisoning, and syphilis. His condition, whatever it was, was probably made worse by insomnia, overwork, malnutrition, and drink. He was virtually unknown at the time of his death, and is now one of the most recognized artists of any period. His art is so bound up with the public perception of him as a struggling, tormented, even tragic artist that it's nearly impossible to separate his work from his myth.

~~~The Writer's Almanac is produced by Prairie Home Productions and presented by American Public Media.


Madrano (madran) | 3009 comments Miss Jimenez wrote: "The Oedipus Cycle: Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus & Antigone: 5 stars
I actually thought I was going to hate this but ended up liking it. Might actually be around 4 stars but the Greek half of the book kept me giddy with amusement whenever I looked at it to see how it compared to the English side...."


When publishers take the expense to do this, i find i'm more likely to buy the book. Even if i do not understand the "original" language, it is fascinating to develop opinions of my own about the translation this way. Of course, it's really tough with some ancient classics because the "original" must have been translated into contemporary language first. Seamus Heaney did this to good effect, imo, with Beowulf: A New Verse Translation.

Thank you to everyone who is sharing on this thread. We learn much, even if we refuse to add to our TBR! No, really, i REFUSE to add to it this month. (Well, add again this month.)

deb


Connie (Constants) | 76 comments June-July Reads. I didn't read much in June, but made up for lost time in July. I seem to have become more and more opinionated as the summer has gone on!

The Year We Left Home - Jean Thompson. (Fiction) Thirty years in the lives of the members of the Erickson family from small town Iowa. Not much happiness for this unfortunate clan but there are some vivid passages and descriptions and a good feeling of what the last decades of the 20th century were about for a lot of middle Americans. B.

Remarkable Creatures - Tracey Chevalier. (Fiction) Two woman in 19th century England become friends through their common interest in the fossils being discovered at that time on the coast of Lyme Regis. Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpott were real woman but this is a fictionalized story of their lives and discoveries. Anning made many of the most significant fossil finds of that time and place, but the fact that she was a woman was problematic for the men of that era. I really liked this book and it's a much better read than this review is! A-

Tolstoy and the Purple Chair - Nina Sankovitch. (Nonfiction) I intended to, and anticipated that I would love this book. When the author's sister dies at the age of 46, Sankovitch has a terrible time dealing with her grief and loss. So on her own 46th birthday she sets out to read one book a day for a year, hoping it will help assuage her sadness, and that she will find solace in the words and thoughts of others. I have sisters I adore. I love books and reading. So why didn't this book resonate with me? I can't say exactly, except that it didn't. Maybe I wanted more about the books and less about the grief. Maybe it annoyed me that she read 365 books in a year and I'd only heard of a handful of them. Maybe deep down, I didn't really "get" what she was trying to accomplish. Maybe I just don't like purple chairs. Anyway, this book was a disappointment to me. B-

Wild Surge of Guilty Passion - Ron Hansen. (Historical fiction.) In 1927 a woman named Ruth Snyder convinced her boyfriend Judd Gray, to murder her husband. He did, but ineptly, and within a few hours Ruth and Judd were caught, charged and jailed for the crime. In its day, this was the Crime of the Century. Wall-to-wall newspaper coverage in the 12 New York papers - some of which had to print thousands of extra copies every time there was a story about the murder. I was reading this book at the same time as the Casey Anthony trial was going on, and although the discussion in 2011 so often centered around the fact of there being too much media coverage, reading this book showed me that such things didn't begin with the 24-hour news cycle. This was a big, juicy read and I recommend it highly. By the way, the crime they committed took place in March, 1927 and Snyder and Gray were executed in January, 1928. Interesting. A

The Man in the Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Imposter - Mark Seal. (True Crime) Wow! When Christian Gerhartstreiter came to the US from his native Germany he began a life of crime and deception that made the news a few years ago when he abducted his daughter from her custodial mother and after being caught, his phony identity as Clark Rockefeller and his life of lying began to unravel. He lived in many places with many different names during his decades in the US, always ingratiating himself into the upper crust of whatever society he was in, but no one ever thought even for a moment that he might be a fraud. The story was absolutely riveting and the book is a page-turner. I was also reading this book during the Casey Anthony trial (it was a LONG trial) and I couldn't miss the similarities between the two compulsive liars......Gerhartstreiter and Anthony. It seems that some people are better at lying than they are at telling the truth. A

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt - Beth Hoffman. (Fiction) Wacky Southern ladies. A 12 year old girl who is sent to live with one of those wacky Southern ladies when her mother dies in a wacky-but- tragic ice cream truck accident. A wise African-American housekeeper. Lessons learned from flowers and spider webs and hummingbirds. I don't know what I was expecting from this book - except that it had nothing to do with the Casey Anthony trial - but I found it to be trite and predictable. C+

City of Thieves - David Benioff. (Fiction) Another fantastic read. Set during the Siege of Leningrad during World War II, this book made me laugh out loud on one page, and then chilled my blood on the next. Two young Russian men are captured by the Germans - one for looting and one for desertion - but instead of being executed, they're sent out to find a dozen eggs needed to bake a wedding cake for the daughter of one of the German generals. This, of course, in a time and place when starvation was rampant and cannibalism wasn't unusual. I don't want to give away too much about City of Thieves except to say "Read it!" A

Turn of Mind - Alice LaPlante. (Fiction) A 64-year old woman with Alzheimer's Disease is suspected in the murder of her best friend. And not only was the friend murdered, but 4 of her fingers were surgically amputated and (wait for it.......) the 64-year old woman with Alzheimer's Disease is a world-famous hand surgeon!!!!! This is another book I wanted to love, but didn't. For one thing, and this may just be personal to me, I'm sort of annoyed that the two books I've read about women with Alzheimer's - this and "Still Alice" - the main character always happens to be a brilliant woman. Scientist, surgeon, etc. I suppose that makes the mental decline even more dramatic, but it bugs me. Also, these woman are always wealthy. In this book, Dr. Jennifer White is looking at her bank statement and wondering, in her dementia, if $2.65 million is a lot of money. I don't read a lot of murder mysteries, so maybe that was part of my problem with "Turn of Mind" but it didn't do a thing for me. C-

When She Woke - Hillary Jordan. (Fiction) I loved Jordan's first novel, "Mudbound" and was excited to get an advance copy of this, her second book. It started out amazingly - a sort of "Scarlet Letter" set in a not-too-distant dystopian America. A world-wide plague had caused the birth rate to drop dramatically, religious conservatives have taken over the government, and having an abortion can lead to a charge of first-degree murder. See what I mean? Then, regrettably, the story went downhill from there. I seem to be in the minority here - and the only reviews I've read have been on Goodreads - but I thought the last half of the book was awful. It seemed patched together in a way - throw in a sexual dalliance here, give the characters pseudonyms of famous feminists, rip a few bodices along the way- things like that. I don't want to give anything away, except to say that I found the ending of the book to be an utter disappointment. C





The Year We Left Home
Remarkable Creatures
Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading
A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion: A NovelThe Man in the Rockefeller Suit: The Astonishing Rise and Spectacular Fall of a Serial Imposter
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt
City of Thieves
Turn of Mind
When She Woke


Maree  ♫ Light's Shadow ♪ The Luxe (Luxe, #1) by Anna Godbersen The Luxe: My Review A young book, historical fiction. It was predictable but okay.
Witch Week (Chrestomanci, #3) by Diana Wynne Jones Witch Week: My Review I have forever thought this book was called "Witch Weekly" for some reason and that it was about a magazine. But I was wrong! A loosely related story to the Chrestomanci series that I loved so much as a child. It was okay.
Ultimate X-Men  Ultimate Collection, Book 1 by Mark Millar Ultimate X-Men: Ultimate Collection: A bow to the boyfriend to get my ready for the Ultimate universe comic book stuff for when the Avengers movie comes out. I'm not sure I'm a fan of the movies leading up to it yet, aside from Iron Man. I heard Green Lantern was bad and didn't like Captain America much (there was no life lesson! He didn't overcome/learn anything!). But I do have high expectations for Joss Wheaton's directing so hopefully it will all culminate in something worthwhile. I do feel very knowledgeable on the subject now, as you can tell by my paragraph here. ;)
The Oracle of Stamboul by Michael David Lukas The Oracle of Stamboul: My Review I thought this was just lovely, and am so glad I read it. I loved the choice of ending, especially. Beautifully written in general.
Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet: My Review I loved the title of this maybe more than the book itself. A good book, but with a lot of problems.
Magic Study (Study, #2) by Maria V. Snyder Magic Study: My Review A fun YA series continuation with a strong-willed female protagonist which I enjoyed. But still, it's YA, so only three stars.
The Lost Steersman (The Steerswoman, #3) by Rosemary Kirstein The Lost Steersman: My Review Some of you have een following me as I've read these series. I raved about the first and second and now that I'm on the third, I'm unsure about it. It's very interesting, actually, and I think my review outlines my thoughts pretty well.
The Wise Man's Fear (The Kingkiller Chronicle #2) by Patrick Rothfuss The Wise Man's Fear: My Review Amazing. Simply amazing. I would highly recommend them to anyone who loves a good epic tale, especially in the fantasy flavor. They're beasts in length, but the story is so compelling!
The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell The Rise of Renegade X: My Review An great YA book about the balance between good and evil and how it's really not smart in this day and age to be totally on one side or the other. It was pretty funny, too.
Bad Girls In Love (Bad Girls, #4) by Cynthia Voigt Bad Girls in Love: My Review The next two were read for a challenge. This was bad, really bad, perhaps my only one star review. Upside: its publishing means that I could possibly actually get something published. :)
A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn A Kiss in Time: My Review A retelling of Sleeping Beauty in YA world and not particularly well done. Ehh.
Matched (Matched, #1) by Ally Condie Matched: My Review This was a book that I'd been looking forward to reading, as I love dystopian novels, and I have to say that I was disappointed. It was still an interesting world, but writing poetry as a form of rebellion isn't really exciting for a reader, as nice as it may be.
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly Revolution: My Review This book was actually pretty great in my book. YA historical fiction that I neglected to read before that I'm pleased I still tried. It played with adult themes such as depression and suicide, and the main character Andi and her father were very well fleshed out as real people. The historical story woven in wasn't as great, but since it stuck with Andi and still had interesting history, I'd call it a win.
A Wizard of Earthsea (Earthsea Cycle, #1) by Ursula K. Le Guin A Wizard of Earthsea: My Review A classic SciFi book that I've been meaning to read for a while, but I think it's something that would have captured my imagination better as a child. As a child twenty years ago, especially. I think my review on it is pretty decent in explaining.
The House by the Sea  A Journal by May Sarton The House by the Sea: A Journal: My Review If you read the buddy read thread, you'll pretty much already have read the content of this review, which I just basically made a congomeration of my thoughts on certain subjects raised in the book. I think this is definitely a read over time book.


message 40: by Katie (last edited Jul 29, 2011 12:01PM) (new)

Katie (ChangeisHappening) | 1 comments So far I've read "Change of Heart" by Jodi Picoult and I also finished "Along for the Ride" by Sarah Dessen. I've been on vacation half the month so I haven't had time to sit down and read very much! =(

Change of Heart I thought was AMAZING. Jodi Picoult writes it completely surrounding religion and faith. She didn't write it being that "Ohhh Jesus Jesus Jesus!" (not that that would have offended me, I'm a passionate Christian.) But as I read, I tried to decide what I would have done in this certain situation; what I would have believed!!! It really made me think! I LOVED it! 5 Stars!

"Along for the Ride" began by me thinking that this wasn't going to be very good compared to Sarah's other books. In the end, I found myself to really be able to connect with this character and loving the book! I'd give it 4 1/2 stars.


Marialyce Connie wrote: "June-July Reads. I didn't read much in June, but made up for lost time in July. I seem to have become more and more opinionated as the summer has gone on!

The Year We Left Home - Jean Thompson. ..."


Maree wrote: "The Luxe (Luxe, #1) by Anna Godbersen The Luxe: My Review A young book, historical fiction. It was predictable but okay.
Witch Week (Chrestomanci, #3) by Diana Wynne Jones Witch Week: My Review I have forever thought this book..."


I really liked the Oracle book too! I read and enjoyed Revolution as well. I pretty much felt the same way about Hotel On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Thanks for the reviews. I have to finish a book tonight and then I will post my July reads....

So want to read the Tolstoy book.... I read Remarkable Creatures and enjoyed it as well as saving Cee Cee Honeycutt which I agree with on your review. I have added a few others from your list. Thanks...


Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8174 comments Connie wrote: "Tolstoy and the Purple Chair - Nina Sankovitch. (Nonfiction) ."
---------------

As always I loved reading your reviews, Connie.

Sorry to hear you didn't care for Tolstoy and the Purple Chair.

I am next in line to get it from my library.


Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8174 comments Maree wrote: "The Luxe (Luxe, #1) by Anna Godbersen The Luxe: My Review A young book, historical fiction. It was predictable but okay.
Witch Week (Chrestomanci, #3) by Diana Wynne Jones Witch Week: My Review I have forever thought this book..."


-------------

Wow ! You sure had a busy reading month. Maree.

Congratulations !

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.


Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8174 comments Katie wrote: "So far I've read "Change of Heart" by Jodi Picoult and I also finished "Along for the Ride" by Sarah Dessen. I've been on vacation half the month so I haven't had time to sit down and read very mu..."
--------------

Welcome to BNC, Katie ! And thanks for sharing your reads with us.


John Connie wrote: "June-July Reads. I didn't read much in June, but made up for lost time in July. I seem to have become more and more opinionated as the summer has gone on!

The Year We Left Home - Jean Thompson. ..."


I'm glad to hear you liked City of Thieves. It is one of my favorite books, one I have gone back and re-read. Unfortunately it seems to be little know. Maybe we can inspire more readers to check it out.


message 46: by Alias Reader (last edited Jul 30, 2011 11:35AM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) | 8174 comments What I read in July

Ratings on a 0-5 scale

Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World~Lisa Bloom
Nonfiction
Rate 4
Interesting book. I think this would make a good gift for a college grad.

An American Hero: The True Story of Charles A. Lindberg~Barry Denenberg
Nonfiction YA
Rate 5 minus
I really enjoyed this YA book. It was the best book I read all month.


My Father at 100~Ron Reagan
Nonfiction
Rate 2 minus
I was really disappointed in this memoir. Ron seeks to finds out about his dad's childhood. He visits a few places from his father's past but this book might as well been written by a stranger. As I write this a few weeks after reading it, all I recall is his father was a good swimmer and kept his emotions to himself. I found it quite boring.

The Help~Kathryn Stockett
Fiction
Rate 3 minus
I read this for my f2f book group. I was underwhelmed. I didn't learn anything new and found the plot to be banal and the character to be little more than caricatures.

The Scarlet Letter~Nathaniel Hawthorne
Fiction
rate 1 plus
There is an interesting story buried in this convoluted prose. But the writing style made it almost unreadable.

Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back~~Todd Burpo
Nonfiction ?
rate 1+
Evangelical mister's 3 year old son says he went to heaven and met Jesus. Not surprisingly, what he finds there corresponds exactly to the evangelical Christian faith he grew up in.

For those that find comfort in the book, that's great. However, for me, the book has a lot of problems. The writing was on a 6 grade level. Which is surprising as the book was ghost written by the author who did Sarah Palin's book. If the father wrote the book I would have given the writing a pass. I didn't find the story particularly inspirational or interesting. I read it to see why this book is sitting atop the nonfiction list for weeks. I'm still baffled. I tend to agree with the one star Amazon reviews for this book.

Finger Lickin' Fifteen~Janet Evanovich
Fiction
rate 1 +
I enjoyed this series when it first started. Nice brain candy. I stopped reading it in 2002 when I read Seven-up and rated that a 2. I thought the series was becoming too repetitive and I couldn't distinguish one book from another. I thought since it's been almost a decade since I last read a book in the series I would give it another shot. Big mistake. I see I didn't miss a thing. It's the same old story. Unfortunately, the humor has gotten courser and more juvenile. I'm done with this series.

Well, this month started off well, but quickly went downhill fast. I hope August is better.


message 47: by Shannon (last edited Jul 31, 2011 01:08AM) (new)

Shannon I've read ...

Into the Wilderness I really enjoyed it. Living in New England and having native ancestry, I really loved reading a novel set in this area in the 1700's. If you have an interest in history, this might appeal to you. Four to five stars.

The True Story of Hansel and Gretel Oh, my gosh! I'm almost finished. I'll finish tonight, if I stay up until the wee hours, or tomorrow. I'm moved by this book in the way I thought I'd be and hoped I'd be moved by Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. (I have to admit I've not finished the latter and doubt I will. I truly wanted to love Bitter and Sweet, especially since I'm new to this group and it was my first book, but .... I simply can't get into it.) Back to Hansel and Gretel .... I haven't read a book that has touched me and challenged me on this level in a long time. If you're looking for a fun beach read, this isn't it. If you want a novel that will reach into the depths of who you are and what you believe, this just might be the one. I don't know the ending yet, but I'll likely give it a five. (I didn't add this to my first post, but, after thinking about it, I decided I should. It goes without saying that novels dealing with the Holocaust are disturbing. At the same time, this book is particularly dark; be forewarned. Or, perhaps the horrors are more upsetting given the connection many readers, myself included, make with the characters?Like I said; however, it touched me and challenged me in a way that only really good books have moved me.)


Marialyce Alias Reader wrote: "What I read in July

Ratings on a 0-5 scale

Think: Straight Talk for Women to Stay Smart in a Dumbed-Down World~Lisa Bloom
Nonfiction
Rate 4
Interesting book. I t..."



I thought The Help was a wonderful book throughly enjoyable for sure, but I sure understand how the hype can pretty much destroy a book sometimes. I felt that way with Water for Elephants) I have yet to read any of the Evanovich books, although I would like to. I started My Father at 100 but just did not care for it. I thought it more a Ron story then his Dad's story.

I hope you have a better August month too! :)


message 49: by Marialyce (last edited Jul 31, 2011 07:27AM) (new)

Marialyce This month I read and mostly enjoyed:

Caleb's Crossing 4+
I thoroughly enjoyed this new Geraldine Brooks book. It was a well written tale of a young Puritan woman living in America in the 1600's and the prejudice she encounters when dealing with the church and their "rules", especially those towards the Indians. I highly recommend it.

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America 4 solid stars
This was a tightly written non fiction book about the Chicago World's Fair and a serial killer, one Dr Holmes who are juxtaposed against each other providing a great amount of excitement and contrast. Mr Larsen has written a tale of the building of a city while showing an undercurrent character (Holmes) who waged his own private sociopathic war against many people who crossed his path. Fascinating in it telling, this book informed the reader as to the progress in the development of the beautiful White City while telling the chilling tale of a madman within their midst.

The Master and Margarita 4- stars
I will be the first to admit, I needed copious notes to complete this book. Not knowing all that much about Russia of the 1920's, I was at a loss as to the symbolism and even most of the satire that was written. This book took me a long time to get through, but I felt it was ultimately worth the effort.

Outlander 4 stars
I found this book to be quite enjoyable and one in which the characters were well developed and quite endearing...well all except one! Told with a time travel idea in mind, the story of Claire and Jamie went back and forth through lots of tense moments and lots of moments of lusty sex. (which at times was quite steamy and perhaps a bit over the top) The story of finding yourself back 200 years in time and falling in love with a man of that time while being married to a man in the future was intriguing as well as the bits of history intertwined in with Claire and Jamie's adventures. I have wanted to read this book for quite some time and I was delighted that it was as good as it was touted to be by many.

Left Neglected 3- stars
This was another interesting book written by Lisa Genova. While it did not have the punch of Still Alice, it was entertaining and a fine introduction to the world of brain injuries. The main character is hurt in a severe car accident and tries to recover her life in the fast paced corporate world with the help of her husband, mother, and various aides in the health care line. Her determination to get back to normal is admirable and although this character leads life of privilege others would find enviable, she does enable to show the reader what strong dedication one needs to over come a brain injury.

The Little Stranger 3 + stars
This was one of those well done mysterious novels that kept one guessing though out as to the validity of the narrator. In it, wemeet the owners of a very sinister house that seems to be plotting against the family and causing them to experience bouts of insanity and even death. Taking place after the war, this English tale, takes the reader on a ride that deals with the paranormal and or what one thinks within the confines of the mind.

Child 44 3+
Imagine a serial killer roaming about and then imagine that killer living in Stalinist Russia where all things are so perfect that a person of this ilk would never exist. If you have done all this you will be able to know the premise of this novel. Written through the eyes of a police secret agent, we see the foibles of the Communistic system as the policeman (and yes, there is only one) hunts for the killer of young children.

Cranford 3-
I thought this was a delightful, easy reading story of a town where it seemed spinsters ruled. Although quite stodgy, the ladies of Cranford, were a lovely group who persevered in their ever British attitude, but did look out for their own. Told by an outside narrator, the story relates the ups and downs of life in Cranford or perhaps any Victorian town. The ladies gossiped, set the rules that were strictly adhered to, and generally led a life that we would consider boring by today's standards. They succeeded in always remembering loyalty. Loyalty to friends and family were highly thought of as it should be and the ladies carried on the traditions of always being true to those who were true to you.

Sing You Home 2-
This book did little for me and I found the writing to be a bit poor. Perhaps I am just getting tired of Picoult's style, but having enjoyed many of her other books, this one was a disappointment for me.


Julie (readerjules) | 875 comments Marialyce wrote about Cranford: "and generally led a life that we would consider boring by today's standards."

This made me chuckle. I read Cranford recently and only gave it 3 stars because nothing really happened!


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