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What did you read last month? > What I read in August 2015

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message 1: by Alias Reader (last edited Aug 24, 2015 02:11PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18840 comments


Share with us what you read in August 2015 !

Please provide:

~ A GoodReads link
~ A few sentences telling us how you felt about the book.
~ How would you rate the book


message 2: by Carol (last edited Aug 25, 2015 07:03PM) (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Excellent image!!

Does anyone know what is on the covers of the four books above? I can only see one that I recognize. Any suggestions?

1. Life of Pi by Yann Martel Life of Pi by Yann Martel

2. Atonement by Ian McEwan Atonement by Ian McEwan - Thanks Madrano!

3.

4.


message 3: by Carol (last edited Aug 25, 2015 05:14AM) (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments August 2015 . . . . 33 books!

An Irish Country Wedding A Novel by Patrick Taylor Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood The End of the Affair by Graham Greene Empire Falls by Richard Russo WILLA CATHER DOUBLE LIVES by Hermione Lee The True Adventures of John Steinbeck, Writer by Jackson J. Benson The Arabian Nights by Anonymous Magonia (Magonia, #1) by Maria Dahvana Headley I Am Malala The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai The Book Thief by Markus Zusak Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen Trigger Warning Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule by Jennifer Chiaverini Once Upon a Time in the North (His Dark Materials, #0.5) by Philip Pullman Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas '' Mr. President '' George Washington and the Making of the Nation's Highest Office by Harlow Giles Unger A Full Life Reflections at Ninety by Jimmy Carter The House of Hawthorne by Erika Robuck The Dream Lover A Novel of George Sand by Elizabeth Berg Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn The Virtues of Oxygen by Susan Schoenberger Sweet Forgiveness by Lori Nelson Spielman The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson The Night Stages by Jane Urquhart 3 Lives by Gertrude Stein A Family Sketch and Other Private Writings by Mark Twain Euphoria by Lily King Stalin's Daughter The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva by Rosemary Sullivan This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett Don't Let Him Know by Sandip Roy


1. An Irish Country Wedding: A Novel by Patrick Taylor--5 stars.
REVIEW: Love is in the air in the colorful Ulster village of Ballybucklebo, where Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly has finally proposed to the darling of his youth, Kitty O'Hallorhan. There's a wedding to be planned, but before O'Reilly can make it to the altar, he and his young colleague, Barry Laverty, M.B., must deal with the usual round of eccentric patients.

2. Cat's Eye by Margaret Atwood--4.5 stars.
REVIEW: This is the deeply disturbing story of a young girl whose life is scarred by the cruel treatment she receives at the hands of her friends. The novel follows the girl from childhood into middle age, tracing the effects of her early experiences on her adult life. Under the guise of “improving” their friend, Cordelia, Grace, and Carol humiliate and belittle Elaine, devising punishments and elaborate rules for her to follow. The effect of this treatment on Elaine is devastating; she begins to withdraw into deep depression and self-hatred, undergoing bouts of illness, fainting spells, and even self-mutilation before the situation at last reaches a crisis point. When Cordelia throws Elaine’s hat into a frozen ravine and orders the girl to retrieve it, Elaine falls through the ice and, in a state of delirium, imagines that the Virgin Mary has descended from the bridge overhead to help her.

3. The End of the Affair by Graham Greene--160 pp.
REVIEW:: "The End of the Affair" is Greene's masterpiece. It is more of a love story than a tale of the ravages of religion. The 'End of the Affair' provides a blueprint for finding a way into belief. I wanted to write about religion in a way that didn't seem patronising or proselytising. I could think of very few authors who had managed to do this – Peter Carey in 'Oscar and Lucinda', JD Salinger in 'Franny and Zooey', perhaps – but certainly no one since John Donne had engaged so fully with the friction between faith and fornication as Greene

4. Empire Falls by Richard Russo--483 pp.
REVIEW: Miles Roby in a fictional, small blue-collar town in Maine. Russo's intent with Empire Falls is to describe the human condition in a story about the fate of a small town in Maine or to describe a small Maine town in a story about the human condition. There is not a single plot in Empire Falls, but many little sub-plots.

5. Willa Cather: Double Lives by Hermione Lee-5 stars
REVIEW: According to author Hermione Lee, Willa Cather was an anomaly; she acknowledged that Cather wasn’t read much, but even less studied. The double perspectives in Willa Cather’s fiction are the key to understanding her art. According to Lee, Cather’s “double” focus began in childhood. “Doubleness” was a crucial aspect of her personal life and her private needs, masculine and feminine impulses, a craving for solitude and one for belonging. Cather resist resisted feminism, and was ferociousness about privacy. Cather also respected Sharon O’Brien’s Willa Cather: The Emerging Voice. O’Brien’s feminist/psychoanalytical study, with its careful analysis of Cather’s family relationships and lesbian orientation, yet her own interest lies more in what emerged from the struggle, than in the struggle itself. The “two manners” of Thea Kronborg in The Song of the Lark, the novel Cather admitted was her most autobiographical. She was pulled between the natural and the artificial. Her fictions are of split selves and doublings.

6. The True Adventures of John Steinbeck, Writer by Jackson J. Benson-- 1,115 pp. . .
REVIEW: I have to say that this book was over 1,000 pages plus the tiny text was very dense, therefore I didn't read very much. The parts I liked was Steinbeck and his family life -- "the beginning years".

7. The Arabian Nights by Anonymous--5 stars.
REVIEW: I liked the stories, and personally I love the images -I'm a lithography lover.

8. Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley--5 stars.
REVIEW: Fantasy novel,15-year-old Aza has a rare disorder that makes breathing difficult, and she's frequently in peril from medical emergencies. Pain and blood from injuries are briefly described a few times. Excellent!

9. I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai--5 stars.
REVIEW: Educating girls in Pakistan; emerging nation; not all agree.

10. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak--5 stars.
REVIEW: Liesel, a little girl, goes to new home, mom doesn't have the $; Death is a character. Set in Nazi Germany, start of WWII . Liesel looses her younger brother, and steals her first book: The Gravediggers Handbook. She goes home to finish with a NEW mama & papa. She suffered from nightmares, and everything during the war.

11. Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova--2.5 stars.
REVIEW: The father's illness 'neurodegenerative,' genetically-transmitted Huntington’s Disease. It is known as a killer, and unfortunately, there is a 50% chance that his children can also have it.

12. At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen -3 stars.
REVIEW A Mix of fantasy (Loch Ness Monster); WW II, alcoholic 'boys', and Ellis is abusive to his wife, Maddie; taking her pills and drinking alcohol. Ellis is trying to get his wife's money, his dad dies leaving not a cent. Ellis drunk, falls into water and dies.

13. Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman--4.5 stars.
REVIEW: "Trigger Warning explores the masks we all wear and the people we are beneath them to reveal our vulnerabilities and our truest selves. Here is a rich cornucopia of horror and ghosts stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and poetry that explore the realm of experience and emotion."

14. Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule by Jennifer Chiaverini--5 stars!
REVIEW: This is a beautiful love story ("YES!!" . . I cried ) and I am going out to purchase this book. What a great man Ulysses S. Grant was.

15. Once Upon a Time in the North by Philip Pullman--5 stars.
REVIEW: Once Upon A Time In The North is set many years before Lyra's birth, a young Lee Scoresby pilots his recently won (in a poker game) balloon to the Arctic where he gets involved in a deadly confrontation between the government, an oil baron, a crooked politician, a ship's captain, and a hired killer from Lee's past. There are fantasy elements integral to the story. Scoresby crashes a landing on Navy Odense, he handled this mishap made him an instantly likeable character, Hestar, his daemon, only added further to the charm of the book and the characters. Truly beautiful images.

16. Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas--3.5 stars.
REVIEW: I am new to Dylan Thomas works. This play centres around one day in a small, unexceptional Welsh coastal town. First meet the colourful residents at a point before dawn, the night "flying like black flour", as the reader drifts in the dark over the fields and streets, through the bedrooms of the sleeping residents and into their dreams. From there we watch as they wake up and work, following them out of bed over this one day and then finally back into bed as night falls.

17. '' Mr. President '' : George Washington and the Making of the Nation's Highest Office by Harlow Giles Unger--4 stars.
REVIEW: "This book gives our precious American history the backbone it deserves and reveals more of Washington the man than Washington the demigod as we might have believed him to be." Well done.

18. A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety by Jimmy Carter--5 stars!
REVIEW: Former US President reflects on his life and on a wide-range of issues including the recent changes in the South, the shooting tragedy in Charleston, the Middle East and the Iranian hostage crisis, and writes that the US is in a state of decline of influence. What I like most about the book is his honesty, open admission of his mistakes, and how he owned them up. President Carter said that he's comfortable with all the decisions he made as President irrespective of their outcome. Frank, honest and insightful, this memoir covers an important chapter in the history of United States and deserves to be in the hands of all serious students of history. I enjoyed his poetry and his paintings. Also continuing the work at The Carter Center, not-for-profit organization.

19. The House of Hawthorne by Erika Robuck--3 stars.REVIEW: Sophie Peabody suffered from illness and she believed that only her art was all she had, as she aged. But then she met Nathaniel Hawthorne, and they both became deeply in love and travelled the world together. During this period most women, like Sophie, kept a journal of her life with Nathaniel Hawthorne.

20. The Dream Lover: A Novel of George Sand by Elizabeth Berg--4 stars.
REVIEW: I listened to this story on ten CDs. The book begins with her mother, and the death of her little brother. Sand was so sad. As a little girl she tried to stay with her mother, but sadly, passed on to her grandmother. George Sand born during a period when men dominated, yet she separates herself from her husband, and lives her life with (1) her son & daughter, (2)her father's country estate, and, of course, (3) living her scandalous life in Paris.


message 4: by Carol (last edited Aug 25, 2015 05:11AM) (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments A few more BOOKS to finish . . .

21. Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn--3.5 stars.
REVIEW: It surprised me; I thought it was well done! On the tiny island of Nollop, off the South Carolina coast, is an independent nation devoted to the preservation of his memory and achievement—devoted, that is, until the letters start falling from the sentence on the man’s monument, one by one. Each of the fallen is treated as were its predecessors, with a “three strikes and you’re out” a penalty imposed on any Nollopians who fail to make the required adjustments, which creates hardship for the islanders who leave voluntarily or by penalty. Emma fights for freedom of expression, while others start to turn against their neighbors to report the infractions of the new rules. The punishments build to a scary finale.

22. The Virtues of Oxygen by Susan Schoenberger- 4 stars.
REVIEW: Vivian is an older woman who was diagnosed with polio (always in an iron lung) since she was a little girl. She describes her body as "that something alive is trapped inside", despite her disability, Vivian was able to attend community college, and even graduate with a degree. Holly's husband dies, which limits Holly's purchasing food, bills, etc. for her and her two sons. They now lead a difficult life. Both women are struggling; Vivian physically, and Holly financially.

23. Sweet Forgiveness by Lori Nelson Spielman--5 stars.
REVIEW: I wrote a great review, and somehow it disappeared. I have to say that this was an excellent book. Loved the characters, I will try to find the first review. So much more positive!!

24. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin--3.5 stars.
REVIEW: Unfortunately, A. J. Fikry’s lonely life is not at all what he expected. His wife died, his bookstore is lacking income -moving towards bankruptcy, and sadly, his precious, rare collection of Poe

25. The Postman Always Rings Twice by James M. Cain--5 stars.
REVIEW: Frank Chambers, young drifter, stops to eat at a rural California diner for supper. But he ends up living and working there. Frank has desires for Cora, and her husband, Nick Papdakis, referred to as the Greek. Frank and Cara have a passionate love affair, and decided to kill Nick by hitting his head on the tub, and then to fall and drown in the bath tub. But a policeman discovers a sudden power outage, and their scheme fails. Nick recovers because of a memory loss (Retrograde amnesia). The local prosecutor suspects what has actually occurred, but doesn't have enough evidence to prove it. As a tactic intended to get Cora and Frank to turn on one another, he charges only Cora with the crime of Nick's murder, coercing Frank to sign a complaint against her. Cora, furious and indignant, insists upon offering a full confession detailing both their roles. Her lawyer tricks her into dictating that confession to a member of his own staff. Cora, believing her confession made, returns to prison. Though Cora would be sure to learn of the trickery, a few valuable hours are gained. The state forces Cora a plea argument, which gave her a suspended sentence and no boil time. Frank and Cora plan a happy-family future, but then Cora is killed in a car accident while Frank is driving. The ending is Frank, from death row, summarizing the events that followed, explaining that he was wrongly convicted of having murdered Cora. The text, he hopes, will be published after his execution.

26. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson-- 5 stars.
REVIEW: Honestly, how many women have been raped?! And how does it change your life forever? While your friends are busy enjoying life, the victim lives inside her mind, repeating the horrendous act that she can never erase. I recommend this book - it is a good book regarding both teens and adults.

27. The Night Stages by Jane Urquhart--5 stars.
REVIEW: Set in 1950s, Tamara flees from her husband in Ireland to fly to NYC. The Riordan brothers were raised in County Kerry. Kieran, the younger and volatile one -- "full of refusal" by breaking his mom's pelvis (when giving birth), and Niall, a descent, young man who desires to be a meteorologist, gets married, and has an affair with Tamara. The story travels from America, Canada, England, and Italy

28. 3 Lives by Gertrude Stein-2.5 stars.
REVIEW: Three Lives was Stein's first published book. Not popular with other readers, but one suggested to read Stein's prose ALOUD; over and over. Three Lives: (1) The Good Anna-- (A short story about a simple passive houseservant and a parrot that keeps her going.); (2) Melanctha-- The second story is repetitive. The second story repeats itself. The second story uses the same language often. The second story repeats itself.(Get it?) And last, (3) The Gentle Lena--It's also a sad story about passivity and just letting yourself fade away into other people's decisions. It's sad and frightening.

29. A Family Sketch and Other Private Writings by Mark Twain-- 5 stars.
REVIEW: It's a beautiful work, yet sad to lose their oldest daughter, Susy. Many memories, in their home in Hartford, CT. Includes his wife, Livy's 1885 diary.

30. Euphoria-Lily King--4 stars.
REVIEW: Based on Margaret Mead in 1928, the consequences of premarital sex, Mead published "Coming of Age in Samoa." A study of the psycho-sexual development of adolescents. “Euphoria” presumes some familiarity with Mead’s biography for context and background, and yet it also deviates from that history in promiscuous ways.

31. Stalin's Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva by Rosemary Sullivan -- 5 stars.
REVIEW:I have a hard time to write a review of her life. Too lose your mother when you are just a 6 year old, and to never see her (suicide) again, it just horrible! Honestly, where ever she went in her older years, there were people she loved. But they would either die, or move elsewhere unknown. An excellent biography and Rosemary Sullivan wrote an excellent biography!

32. This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett--3.5 stars.
REVIEW: This is my first read by Ann Patchett. As a little girl, she always wanted to be a writer. ( I can relate to that.) At 20, she graduated with an MFA, but sadly lost her marriage. Yet, she was determined to reach her goal as an author. I like how the book gives those who are interested the ups and downs, any many she learned along the way. There is a great deal of information/advice for those who have the desire to write & publish. This is a book I will purchased and use in my early years.

33. Don't Let Him Know by Sandip Roy-2.5 stars.
REVIEW: A completely different lifestyle (Hindu) for this beautiful family and their friends. There is a fine line between knowing too little, and knowing too much. It is a novel about how our secrets shape us, and also how we redefine ourselves constantly to avoid being trapped.


message 5: by Michele (new)

Michele Weiner | 161 comments Hello group. Hope you're having a lovely summer. Thats a very long list, Carol. I read the following in August:

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool 3 stars A book about kids who are a bit different and suffering from losses. A little magical, a little touching, mostly ordinary for the genre.

The Night Stages by Jane Urquhart 2 stars I was not impressed by The Night Stages, which uses a contrivance that I found unnecessary and distracting. Ireland, brothers, bicycles. A little mysticism. The part about the race was pretty good. The other characters were ridiculous.

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy 3 stars This is a family saga that I thought missed the mark. Nothing much happens. I thought it could have been anybody anywhere. No flavor.

West with the Night by Beryl Markham 5 stars One of the best books of its kind I have read. Markham is not primarily known as an author, and she certainly leaves out more than she puts in, but her eye is sharp. Loved her language, too. A great memoir.

Circling the Sun by Paula McLain 4 stars This book about Beryl Markham inspired me to read her memoir. I relied on Circling the Sun for the facts of Markham's life, which she does not reveal herself, but found one major discrepancy involving her father's whereabouts that bothered me. And it has the problem of all historical fiction, the problem of putting thoughts into the head of a real person who speaks for herself elsewhere. But still well worth the time.

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf 5 stars. I was stunned by this book. It seemed so tame, so heartwarming, so midwestern. Then it took a turn at the end that made me sit straight up, and not in a good way. Upsetting, but I loved it.

I am re-reading The Rosie Project for a book club and also reading Being Nixon, a Man Divided. I will finish both before Sept. I'm sure.

Michele


message 6: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18840 comments Carol wrote: "Excellent image!!

What are on the covers of the four books? I can only see one that I recognized.
Any suggestions?

1. Life of Pi by Yann Martel Life of Pi by [author:Yann Mart..."


Thank you! Pi was the only cover I could identify.


message 7: by Alias Reader (last edited Aug 24, 2015 06:00PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18840 comments Carol wrote:4. Empire Falls by Richard Russo--483 pp.
REVIEW: Miles Roby in a fictional, small blue-collar town in Maine. Russo's intent with Empire Falls is to describe the human condition in a story about the fate of a small town in Maine or to describe a small Maine town in a story about the human condition. There is not a single plot in Empire Falls, but many little sub-plots.."


Wow ! Thirty Three books is beyond amazing.

One question. Some books you didn't give a rating. So I don't know what you thought of them. What would you rate Empire Falls? I liked it.


message 8: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18840 comments Michele wrote: 5 stars One of the best books of its kind I have read. Markham is not primarily known as an author, and she certainly leaves out more than she puts in, but her eye is sharp. Loved her language, too. A great memoir..."

Michele, I agree with you. West with the Night is excellent.

Thanks for the review of Circling the Sun I am putting it on my TBR list.


message 9: by Arwa (new)

Arwa Aljalahma Hello group, I read the following this August

1. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
Aziz Ansari takes Modern Romance from an academic approach, justifying actions from both sexes when it comes to the dating world. Adding his sense of humor to the character of the book, it was a mix of serious scientific facts and witty comments.

2. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
It took me less than 24 hours to finish this book, I simply couldn't put it down. It's dark and twisted, yet it keeps you wanting more

3. Not That Kind of Girl A Young Woman Tells You What She's "Learned" by Lena Dunham
Completely bias when it comes to this book because I'm a huge Lena Dunham fan, so I enjoyed picking her brain in her memoir

4. The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari A Fable About Fulfilling Your Dreams & Reaching Your Destiny by Robin S. Sharma
It took me some time to finally read this book but I'm glad I did, his thoughts are refreshing and you need that from time to time

I'm thinking of reading Luckiest Girl Alive next, what do you guys think?
Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll


message 10: by Julie (new)

Julie (readerjules) | 1219 comments Carol wrote: "Excellent image!!

Does anyone know what is on the covers of the four books above? I can only see one that I recognize. Any suggestions?

1. Life of Pi by Yann Martel Life of Pi b..."


The third one is a Penguin Classic, but I don't know what book.
How do you read 33 books in one month??


message 11: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18840 comments Arwa wrote: "Hello group, I read the following this August

1. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
Aziz Ansari takes Modern Romance from an academic approach, justifying actions from both sexes when it comes to..."


Very nice reading month, Arwa ! Thanks for sharing with us.

Thanks for bringing The Secret Letters of the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari to my attention. I'm going to put it on my TBR list.


message 12: by madrano (new)

madrano | 11642 comments Carol wrote: "Excellent image!!

Does anyone know what is on the covers of the four books above? I can only see one that I recognize. Any suggestions?

1. Life of Pi by Yann Martel Life of Pi b..."


The second one is Atonement by Ian McEwan by Ian McEwan but the print has been placed at the bottom, not the top as this GR image is. The last two are lost on me but i agree with Arwa, the third looks like a Penguin, one which has a compilation of the author's work, i.e., Hawthorne.


message 13: by madrano (new)

madrano | 11642 comments Carol wrote: " A few more BOOKS to finish . . .

21. Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn--3.5 stars.
REVIEW: It surprised me; I thought it was well done! On the tiny island of Nollop, off ..."


I had fun with Ella Minnow Pea, as well. Clever concept. I learned a great word from a review of it. The word is "lipogrammatic", meaning written work where one or so letters are avoided.


message 14: by madrano (last edited Aug 25, 2015 03:33PM) (new)

madrano | 11642 comments Michele, i agree with your comments on Beryl Markham's book. She was concealing much. I presumed she was attempting to be discreet but wasn't certain.


message 15: by Mkfs (new)

Mkfs | 189 comments Parallel Stories: A Novel : Four stars, albeit grudgingly. The interconnected tales of two generations of Hungarian families during the German and Russian occupations. It took me awhile to figure out how to read this book, as my normal methods just lead to confusion. You really have to read an entire Chapter at a time, if not en entire Part. The narrative shifts back and forth between two stories during a single chapter, unified by a common theme, or by the passage of time (e.g. extensive flashbacks). With the rather large cast of characters, and the tendency for background characters to later take center stage, you really have to keep a lot of context in your head while reading. Keeping all that in mind, this is a good and rather rewarding read, with only a couple of caveats: a) the author goes into unnecessary detail on otherwise banal scenes, probably intending to make them pivotal but instead making them tedious (one chapter alternates between a sex scene and a card game for something like 200 pages); b) the two chapters which end the book introduce entirely new settings and characters, touching only briefly and indirectly on a minor character from the rest of novel, and provide no sort of thematic or narrative resolution -- removing them entirely would have made for a satisfying conclusion to the novel.

The Brothers : Three stars. I was ready to give this four or even five stars until the Big Reveal happened, and while it was a bit surprising, it was also pretty hackneyed. The novel is told in a sequence of first-person narratives, alternating between the perspectives of the various characters. This is the sort of device used in Rashomon to demonstrate the unreliability of eyewitness testimony, and in As I Lay Dying to irritate the reader. In Brothers it works well, providing character insight as well as an emotional depth that the story might otherwise lack.


message 16: by madrano (new)

madrano | 11642 comments Mkfs wrote: "This is the sort of device used in Rashomon to demonstrate the unreliability of eyewitness testimony, and in As I Lay Dying to irritate the reader...."

I'll start with your second book's comments. That is a funny line & i probably couldn't agree more. As for the first book, i suspect i would have abandoned the book at some point. It's interesting that you had to figure out how to read the book but i'm glad you managed. I get so lost in big-cast books.


message 17: by Amy (last edited Aug 31, 2015 11:17AM) (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments My reads for August:


FICTION:
Sons by Pearl S. Buck: Second in the trilogy that started with The Good Earth. This book tells the story of Wang Lung’s three sons: Wang the Landlord, Wang the Merchant and Wang the Tiger. The eldest son loves a life of complete idleness and luxury and raises his own sons in that same lifestyle. The second son is a hard-working but fairly greedy merchant, who wants money to expand his business. The third son, who has been away from home for 10 years at the time of his father's death, has become a soldier and dreams of using his father's fortune to gather an army of his own, conquer a town or province, and become a war lord. At the end of this novel, the revolution is just beginning in China. Looking forward to seeing how the story ends in the third book, A House Divided. 3.5 stars

Miss Hazel and the Rosa Parks League by Jonathan Odell: Set in 1950s Mississippi, this is about two mothers who are grieving the loss of their children: Hazel, who is white, and Vida, who is black. The book covers the post- WWII South and the simple yet complex racial relationships of the time before the Civil Rights movement. I liked it, but I thought The Help told the story better. 3.5 stars

The Book of Joe by Jonathan Tropper: A small-town guy becomes famous for writing a bestseller book about his teen years that is made into a hit movie starring Leonardo DeCaprio and Kristin Durst. Folks in his hometown despise him for the negative depiction of them. When his father becomes sick he goes home and has to deal with his past. Entertaining, but not as good as Tropper’s This is Where I Leave You. 3 stars

Oleander Girl by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni: The coming-of-age story of 18-year old Korobi, who finds out that the loving grandparents who raised her have betrayed her trust by hiding the truth about her parents. It is also the story about her relationship with her fiance and his family. Korobi embarks on a journey which takes her from Kolkata to post-9/11 America, to find the truth about herself and her parents, that will change her perceptions of love, trust, family values, prejudices and betrayal. A quick read. 3 stars

Paris by Edward Rutherfurd: A multigenerational saga that takes readers on a journey through thousands of years of Parisian history as experienced through the lives of several families. I got kind of bored by the end of this 800-page novel. 3 stars

The Missing Ink by Karen E. Olson: Brett Kavanaugh is a tattoo artist and owner of a fancy Las Vegas tattoo parlor. A female client comes in about a tattoo—and disappears after leaving the shop. Brett gets wrapped up in a missing person/murder mystery, all the while getting harassed and stalked by an unknown assailant. 3 stars

Palisades Park by Alan Brennert: I really wanted to love this book. After reading “Moloka'i” and “Honolulu,” I was eagerly expecting another home run from Mr. Brennert. Alas, this is a perfect example of why you shouldn’t get your hopes up. Perhaps if I hadn’t read the author’s previous books first, I might have judged this one less harshly. But then again … probably not. The writing in this book is pretty flat. All too often the dialogue sounds both stilted and inconsistent. Also—the storyline progresses in a way that reads more like separate vignettes designed to list a bunch of historical references in the order in which they happened; i.e., “this is when soldiers enlisted in WWII” … … “this is when the mob infiltrated America” … “this is when African Americans were banned from public places.” The narrative just moves from one vignette to the next, with no real emotional impact or understanding of the characters’ motives or thought process. When a conflict or issue was presented, it was resolved within a few pages. I also found it difficult to care about the majority of the characters—particularly the female ones. In summary: If you, like me, pick this up expecting a novel on the same scale as “Moloka'i and “Honolulu,” you just might be as disappointed as I was. 2.5 stars

Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry: Cheesy chick lit masquerading as a mystery, with an IT manual and long stretches of dullness rolled into it. Unnecessarily convoluted resolution as well. 2 stars

Death by Darjeeling by Laura Childs: This was apparently my month of cozy mysteries. I think I might be tiring of the genre, because lately I’m having a difficult time buying into the premise of everyday, regular citizens (in this outing, the owner of a tea shop in Charleston, SC) thinking they can solve crimes and track down killers better than the police can. Without getting a headache from rolling my eyeballs throughout, that is. 2 stars


NONFICTION:
The Spark: A Mother's Story of Nurturing Genius by Kristine Barnett: Jacob Barnett, a math and science prodigy, has an IQ that cannot be accurately measured. He is also autistic, and when he was 2 his parents were told that he would probably never be able to tie his own shoes. Today he is 17, has developed an original theory that may disprove Einstein’s theory of relativity and is on track to possibly win a Nobel Prize in physics (and yes, he wears flip flops because he has a hard time with shoelaces). This memoir by his mother details how the Barnett family refused to let Jacob’s diagnosis of severe autism limit his abilities and how they worked to nurture his intellectual gifts. As the parent of a child who was labeled as highly gifted and accepted into Mensa at the age of 8, I could totally identify with the stories of the frustration that comes from having to cast a wide net to seek out appropriate academic settings that will challenge your child intellectually when the school system is not meeting his/her needs. My son, however, does not have autism, so I can’t speak to the additional challenges that come with that. I thought the writing style was a bit simplistic, but I still enjoyed the book for the message it conveyed. 3 stars


message 18: by madrano (new)

madrano | 11642 comments Busy reading month, Amy. Your nonfiction sounds as though it would be helpful to some people. Did the author explain about that disproving relativity theory? I'm curious.


message 19: by Amy (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments madrano wrote: "Busy reading month, Amy. Your nonfiction sounds as though it would be helpful to some people. Did the author explain about that disproving relativity theory? I'm curious."

No, she didn't get into great detail about the research that Jacob has done. Not sure if it's because she doesn't understand it enough herself to talk about it, or if she purposely left out information because of competition in the scientific community? It involves some extremely high-level mathematical computations, is all I gathered. Of course, anything above algebra and trig is high-level math to me, so what do I know. ;)


message 20: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18840 comments Very nice month, Amy !

I know that Edward Rutherfurd's books can be quite big, too.

The Spark sound interesting. I'll have to check that out.


message 21: by Alias Reader (last edited Aug 31, 2015 01:05PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18840 comments Here's what I read this August. Most I've already discussed here at the time I read them.

A Full Life Reflections at Ninety by Jimmy Carter A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety---Jimmy Carter
Non fiction
Rate- 5/5
Excellent memoir. Soon after I finished reading this book, President Carter announced his cancer diagnosis. It was even more upsetting as in the book he talks about slowing down a bit now that he is ninety and enjoying his painting and furniture making. He still is as sharp as ever and has so much more to give. I wish only the best for this lovely man.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr All the Light We Cannot See---Anthony Doerr
Fiction
Rate 4 - /5
Beautiful writing but very slow moving plot with a ton of description.

Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline Orphan Train---Christina Baker Kline
Fiction
3+/5
A quick easy read. It got a bit too Hallmark for me at the end but still an enjoyable read.

My Korean Deli Risking It All for a Convenience Store by Ben Ryder Howe My Korean Deli: Risking It All for a Convenience Store--Ben Ryder Howe
Audio book
Reader- Bronson Pinchot
Rate 3 +/5
I gave the plus for the reader. I am positive I enjoyed the book more because this audio book was done so well by Pinchot.


I read a bunch of short stories which I've already discussed here at BNC.

Little Herr Friedmann and Other Stories
Thomas Mann
Rate 4/5

The Story of My Dovecote
Isaac Babel
rate 4/5

The Devil and Daniel Webster
Stephen Vincent Benét
Rate: 4/5

A Clean Well Lighted Place
Ernest Hemingway
rate- 4/5

Of This Time, Of That Place, And Other Stories
Lionel Trilling
rate 4/5

The Ledge
Lawrence Sargent Hall
Rate 4/5


message 22: by Lesley (new)

Lesley | 239 comments Wow Alias, you had a good reading month. So many 4 stars reads and even a 5!


message 23: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18840 comments Thanks, Lesley. Many of the 4's were short stories.
I hope Sept. will be as kind to me. :)


message 24: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Hiday | 13 comments The Postman I'm a huge fan of Kevin Costner's movie, The Postman, so I came to Brin's novel with a story already set in my head. Of course the novel's story is vastly more complex and different...in a good way. Once I got the movie reel out of my head, I was able to enjoy David Brin's original vision. In addition to a great story, I love his acknowledgment to "those women I've known who have never ceased to startle me.... There is power there, slumbering below the surface. And there is magic." David Brin, April 1985


message 25: by madrano (last edited Sep 01, 2015 12:30PM) (new)

madrano | 11642 comments I liked that movie, too, Cindy, and have the book on my list. Thanks for the comments.

Alias, i like that you shared your short story readings, as well. As you know, your comments on them led me to read at least one. Thanks.

I finished 4 books last month, but frankly only one was of any endeavor.

Christmas Mourning by Margaret Maron. This is part of Maron's Judge Deborah Knott series, which i've enjoyed in the past very much. This time vehicular deaths were the focus. I continue to like the family but this go 'round it kinda bothered me that everything seemed so idyllic. This could mark the beginning of the end of my pleasure in reading this series. However, there was a hint of the next mystery (which the author doesn't usually do & which i do not like) that whet my appetite. The Judge & her husband are going to NYC & mentioned was a character Maron created years before this series. It appears she may be planning a get together between the two. Neat.

Franklin Pierce: Young Hickory of the Granite Hills by Roy Franklin Nichols. Written in 1930 the author gave an old-fashioned sort of bio, with details of New Hampshire the way it was, etc. He also offered So Many Details about FP's schedule. It didn't help that the print size was small. However, it was a rewarding book and i felt the author attempted to be fair to what has been regarded as a regrettable presidency.

IMO, the times themselves worked against these pre-Civil War presidents. I suspect nothing could have prevented the war, only delayed it. However, once more one gets the sense the human FP had no (publicly acknowledged) sense of the fact it was humans who were slaves.

I came to appreciate Nathaniel Hawthorne even more. He was a faithful friend to Pierce, despite fully understanding the weaknesses of the man, particularly as president. I actually cried when he died on a tour of the White Mountains with Pierce as his companion. It was touching.

As a break from the small print, i turned to breaks reading poetry. Reading the first led me to read the second.
She Walks in Beauty: A Woman's Journey Through Poems was compiled and edited by Caroline Kennedy with intros to each section by her, as well. It served to remind me how much i treasure that art form.

Naturally, i followed it up by reading Kennedy's first book on her mother's poetic favorites, The Best Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis. Again, she wrote the intro for the different chapters, giving us insight into how her mother liked the selections &/or at what points she used them.

As a result, i'll be sharing a few favorites of mine from the books on this poetry thread.

That was my month. I've been working through an interesting book on technology & communication, The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick, which i hope to finish this month.


message 26: by Mkfs (new)

Mkfs | 189 comments madrano wrote: "That was my month. I've been working through an interesting book on technology & communication, The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick, which i hope to finish this month. "


I've been curious about that one. I've read a few books on information theory, but James Gleick always does a good job with how he presents theory.


message 27: by madrano (new)

madrano | 11642 comments Mkfs, i'm reading it with an online group. We're taking it slowly because there is so much info in it. (I'm on chapter 8 & my buddy is on the 5th chapter but we've taken a break now.) I'm liking it very much, as it began with language, which fascinates me.


message 28: by Gjscollins (new)

Gjscollins | 27 comments For the first time in a very long time, I had a disappointing reading month but I'm wondering if it was me or maybe my mood because a lot of books disappointed and even annoyed me. Has that happened to anyone else? I usually have strong reading months with 3-5 star books but August is over and I'm looking forward to a stronger September. :)

Inside the O'Briens- 4+ for me. I listened to it audio book and I think that helped because the narrator had a distinct Boston accent and I just felt like I was immersed into that life of a Boston police officer. It's hard to describe but I felt like I was there. I learned a lot and base ratings on that as well. I loved Still Alice, by the same author and looked forward to this one.

Hands Free Mama: A Guide to Putting Down the Phone, Burning the To-Do List, and Letting Go of Perfection to Grasp What Really Matters!-1 star-This book was recommended by a blogger I usually love. I got it from the library without checking Goodreads-hit myself on the head for that one!-and it stunk! Yes, spend time with your kids. Yes, get off of your phone. It's a magazine article stretched into a book, or at least trying to be.

Be Safe, Love Mom: A Military Mom's Stories of Courage, Comfort, and Surviving Life on the Home Front 3 stars-I wanted to read this because my husband is retired military and just thought I would enjoy it. It was good but I think mom's who have kids joining the military would love it!

Breakfast at Tiffany's 2 stars-I have to say I was hoping I would enjoy this more as a book than the movie. I didn't. It came across selfish and whiney to me.

Christmas at Twilight 3+ stars-just a sweet Christmas romance. I needed something quick and requiring not much thought and this filled the bill.

Attachments 2 stars-I have tried this book via paperback and now with an audio. I didn't like it either way and I am stumped. The description fits me and I want to like it so bad but the characters were just too immature and the writing on this one just seemed to fall flat for me.


message 29: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18840 comments Gjscollins wrote: "For the first time in a very long time, I had a disappointing reading month but I'm wondering if it was me or maybe my mood because a lot of books disappointed and even annoyed me. Has that happene..."

Yes, that happens to us all. I hope Sept. turns out much better for you.

Still, I enjoyed reading your reviews !


message 30: by Amy (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments Gjscollins, thanks for the heads up on the book for military moms! My oldest son will be commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the Marines next May 15, the day after he graduates from college. I've added this book to my TBR list!


message 31: by Emma (new)

Emma (elpryan) | 168 comments A bit belated. Only 2 books finished for me in August between a new job and some other things going on. My new job actually involves commuting in a car (an oddity after 15 years in NYC), so audio books will be regular features in the mix. It's not a long commute, though there is traffic, so I get about 45-60 minutes of listening in per day.

The Remains of the Day 4/5
First foray into audio books in some time, and it was a solid start. I felt the narrator here represented the perfect English butler. He changed tone/accent/inflection when speaking as other characters, though most of the book was from the sole point of view of Mr. Stevens, butler of the prestigious Darlington Hall.

This was a subtly tragic tale of the end of the era of grand estates following world war 2. Stevens' naïveté was at times infuriating - it was as though he refused to acknowledge anything plainly in front of him in the name of being a successful, devoted butler. It was, however, comic at times, and his relationship with housekeeper Miss Kenton is a bittersweet one but intriguing to watch unfold.

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose 3/5
I struggle with "professional" books in general - the repetitive nature, stating the seemingly obvious, etc. This one in particular focuses on the birth and growth of Zappos and of its CEO, Tony Hsieh. It's a very interesting story and Zappos sounds like a wonderful company to work for based on this account. I think the top things I came away with reading this were 1) Create a culture that empowers employees and lets them be good people and 2) You need both business savvy and luck to build a successful company. This book is more descriptive than "how-to" guide, which is probably why I found this more readable than others.


message 32: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 18840 comments Emma wrote: "A bit belated. Only 2 books finished for me in August between a new job and some other things going on. My new job actually involves commuting in a car (an oddity after 15 years in NYC), so audio b..."

Congrats on the new job, Emma !

Thanks for posting your August reads.

I like listening to audio-books when I am at the gym.
I get them from my library.


message 33: by Emma (new)

Emma (elpryan) | 168 comments Thanks, Alias! I'm getting them from the library, too, though the books on my TBR don't seem to be available as audio there. Luckily, there seem to be more than enough podcasts in the world. :)


message 34: by madrano (new)

madrano | 11642 comments Thank you, Gjscollins and Emma for sharing. I've had months as you described, Gj, & it usually is me trying to read when i have other things i know i should be doing. I'm getting better at balancing getting the stuff done, so i can read clearly, but there are still challenging months.

Emma, happy for you & your new job. I'm glad you can make the most of your commuting time. Enjoy.


message 35: by Amy (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments Congrats on the new job, Emma!


message 36: by Emma (new)

Emma (elpryan) | 168 comments Thanks Deb & Amy!


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