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Book, Books, Books & More Books > What are You Reading / Reviews - August 2016

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message 1: by Leah (new)

Leah K (uberbutter) | 760 comments Mod
The month of August is upon us! Tell you what you plan to read, what you have read, and what your thoughts are!


message 2: by Beverly (new)

Beverly (zippymom) | 696 comments Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian
Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian
4 stars

I'm a fan of Chris Bohjalian but I was not even aware of this book until a friend here on Goodreads recommended it. I am really glad that I read it and it was so different from his other books. Emily Shepard, a teenager, lives with her parents in Vermont. Both her parents work at the nuclear plant nearby and one day while she's in school--just like every other day--there's an accident at the plant and there was a meltdown. Before the day is even out and Emily has been moved out of the area along with thousands of others, rumor has it that her father was drunk and the accident was his fault. She feels like everyone hates her family so she changes her name and becomes a walker (not to be confused with The Walking Dead characters). This is the story of what happened to her following the disaster and how she managed to take care of herself. Although the timeline jumps around a bit, I didn't have too much trouble keeping the entire story line straight. I thought the book was scary in it's believable characters and situations.


message 3: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2462 comments Mod
Beverly wrote: "Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian
Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian
4 stars

I'm a fan of Chris Bohjalian but I was not even aware of this book until a friend here on Go..."


I just read this in June. Glad you enjoyed it.


message 4: by Melissa (new)

Melissa (melissasd) | 839 comments Island of Dragons (Unwanteds, #7) by Lisa McMann

Island of Dragons by Lisa McMann
Unwanteds #7
4 ★

Twins Alex and Aaron Stowe are put to the ultimate test to fulfill their destinies and save both Quill and Artimé from the deadliest enemy the cities have ever faced in the thrilling conclusion of the New York Times bestselling Unwanteds series, which Kirkus Reviews called “The Hunger Games meets Harry Potter.”

Head mage Alexander Stowe and his friends successfully fended off the latest threat to their magical world of Artimé with the help of a surprise ally. But old enemies have secretly been plotting against them. Now Alex must lead his people in a final epic battle, one they can’t hope to win alone. Will Artimé finally know peace or will all they’ve fought for be destroyed forever? -

My Thoughts:

Lisa McMann did an excellent job bringing this exciting series to an end. Watching the characters grow over the years has been a joy and I will miss them all. There were a few disappointing parts of the book. I was disappointed in Alex most of all. He has been so strong throughout the whole series and then something happens and he loses all hope. It was very out of the norm for him. Alex's brother, Aaron, changed so much in this book. There were a few incidents where I was worried that he would revert back to his selfish self, but he surprised me and didn't. There was sadness along with the happy, but all in all, it was an excellent ending. I'm looking forward to the next series.


message 5: by Leah (new)

Leah K (uberbutter) | 760 comments Mod
Thing Explainer Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Munroe

Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Munroe
60 pages - DNF

★★

The synopsis is an easy one– the author takes objects and tries to explain them in simple wording with the top 1,000 used words in the English language. Since I enjoy the author’s comics on XKCD and with the book coming it at a mere 60 pages, I was looking forward to this one, especially with its fairly consistent positive reviews.

But…blah. The idea is an interesting one, explaining some complex objects with simpler words but it was…overly simple. I don’t find myself to be some snob who needs a 600 page scientific book on the workings of objects but talking to me like an adult would be a start. The simplistic wording made some descriptions actually more complicated leaving me saying “what in the heck is this guy talking about?!” Subjects I knew about had me rolling my eyes since I knew the actual wording and didn’t really like the dumbing down and as for the subjects I didn’t know? I pretty much still didn’t know how they worked without going online to do research and figure out what the author meant. It’s a cute idea but it got old fast. I pushed myself through over half the book, with its small print and simplistic styling before I realized I had spent over 4 days getting through 33 pages and that was enough, I wasn’t spending another 3 days finishing the book – too many good books, too little time.

I give the author credit, attempting to come up with definitions and ideas with just 1000 words at his disposal certainly wasn’t easy. In fact, some of his descriptions were quite creative and funny. I can see why so many people liked it, I see the appeal, just wasn’t the one for me.


message 6: by Melissa (new)

Melissa (melissasd) | 839 comments The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan
4 ★

Four mothers, four daughters, four families whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who's "saying" the stories. In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Rather than sink into tragedy, they choose to gather to raise their spirits and money. "To despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable." Forty years later the stories and history continue.With wit and sensitivity, Amy Tan examines the sometimes painful, often tender, and always deep connection between mothers and daughters. As each woman reveals her secrets, trying to unravel the truth about her life, the strings become more tangled, more entwined. Mothers boast or despair over daughters, and daughters roll their eyes even as they feel the inextricable tightening of their matriarchal ties. Tan is an astute storyteller, enticing readers to immerse themselves into these lives of complexity and mystery.

My Thoughts

This book was a little hard for me to get into at first. The stories seems disjointed. I decided to continue to see where it was going and I'm glad I did. Everything comes together in the end. Each chapter is told by someone different, either a mother or a daughter, but it rarely gets confusing. I was shocked by some of the stories. The Chinese way seemed so strict at first, but as the stories go on, you start to understand why the mom are the way the are. I think it may have made the daughters stronger. There is a bit of humor throughout the book, but not enough to take away the importance of the story.


message 7: by Terris (new)

Terris | 585 comments Beverly wrote: "Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian
Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian
4 stars

I'm a fan of Chris Bohjalian but I was not even aware of this book until a friend here on Go..."


I'm so glad you liked this one! I love Chris Bohjalian's books (I've read 15 of his!) and read this one last year. I really enjoyed it. Hope to get to a couple more soon :)


message 8: by Koren (new)

Koren  (koren56) | 659 comments Gaining Ground: A Story of Farmers' Markets, Local Food, and Saving the Family Farm by Forrest Pritchard
5 stars and a heart
Gaining Ground A Story of Farmers' Markets, Local Food, and Saving the Family Farm by Forrest Pritchard

Best book I have read this year. Very interesting to learn how much work it takes to farm organically. I was especially interested to read the end of the book that tells why organic food is more expensive than non-organic. You will laugh and cry when you read this book. This is a book where you want to know the author and his family and when you are done you feel like you are leaving a friend. I will definitely look for more organic food and farmer's markets.


message 9: by Beverly (new)

Beverly (zippymom) | 696 comments Wicked Witch Murder (A Lucy Stone Mystery, #16) by Leslie Meier
Wicked Witch Murder by Leslie Meier
4 stars

I always love to read a good cozy and some of my favorite's take place in Tinker's Cove with Lucy Stone trying to solve the latest crime in the constant crime wave there!! :) In this tale, it's coming up on the annual Halloween party but the atmosphere doesn't feel quite the same this year. The high priestess of a local coven has moved into town and opened a shop catering to those interested in all things Wiccan. One new family in the community is quite upset about this and believes that everything happening is because of dark and sinful spells being cast about town. Lucy, a reporter for the the Pennysaver, is, of course, right in the middle of it all--finding the murdered body, poking about in the assessor's office to find out about land records and still finding the time to make beastly cookies for the Halloween party. I've liked all the books in this series so far, some better than others, but this is one of the better ones, I really enjoyed this spooky offering.


message 10: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2462 comments Mod
Zia Summer by Rudolfo Anaya Zia Summer by Rudolfo Anaya – 3***
This is a very atmospheric murder mystery, full of the magical realism that goes with ghost stories and folk tales. But the plot has a fair amount of very real and gritty violence, perpetrated by flesh-and-blood humans, not paranormal entities. The way Anaya describes the landscape, and various characters’ relationship with the land is frequently poetic. I particularly loved Don Eliseo and his cronies, and the ways they helped (or hindered) Sonny’s investigation.
Full Review HERE


message 11: by Warren (new)

Warren Benton | 75 comments Delirious: My Journey with the Band, a Growing Family, and an Army of Historymakers

Rating: 3.25

In this memoir, Smith talks of his lifelong understanding that God had something planned for him. Starting with the early days of Delirious? and how they really just wanted to worship. I remembered first hearing the Cutting Edge album and thinking wow this is a much different worship album. Still one of my all time favorites. Smith talks all about that process and how everything kept falling into place.

A quote from the book "This is the best advice I can give a songwriter: Keep working, don't satisfy yourself with things being good enough, but hone and craft and polish until you've got nothing left to give.

As the band grew in fame they tried to make more music that would be played on regular radio stations so they could spread the news of hope and love. They at one point had switched from playing at Christian events to playing in clubs and more secular venues.

Smith goes into great detail about the ideas behind the new albums and how they were trying to make it work. It is a tough line to walk teetering between Rock band and Christian band. When they were opening for Bon Jovi or Bryan Adams, Delirious? played songs of love and had a whole new group of people worshiping.

As years went on and Delirious? traveled all over the world they realized they knew little of poverty, they also found how disconnected they had become with their local church. Early on they tried to be there to run worship once a month. But that was no longer feasible. When the band finally played their last set they did it on their terms.


message 12: by James (new)

James F | 1568 comments Franz Cumont, The Oriental Religions in Roman Paganism [1909] 243 pages

We all learned in school or Sunday school the official story of the rise of Christianity: there were two very different religions, paganism, based on the classical Greek and Roman myths familiar from Ovid and Bullfinch, polytheistic and amoral, and Christianity, monotheistic and moral. By some unknown and probably miraculous process, the latter overcame the former in the popular consciousness.

This has nothing to do with reality. In fact, the classical religion was dead long before the rise of Christianity, persisting only in a few formal state observances, in literature and in art. Here, the "high" literary culture is misleading; being conservative, it uses the names of the traditional gods and goddesses for very different gods.

Cumont's book is an attempt to reconstruct this later pagaism of the first three centuries AD. It is not a treatise, but a series of popular lectures, revised and with added notes. After an introductory chapter on the social and economic conditions, which shows that apart from military power the eastern cultures were more developed in every respect than Rome, and gives a general explanation of the introduction of the eastern cults, it discusses the components of later paganism by the regions of origins -- Asia Minor (Cybele and Attis), Egypt (Isis and Serapis), Syria (Baal), Persia (Mithraism) and Babylonia (astrology and magic.)

The later paganism was a blending of these components. It was largely monotheistic, had an omnipotent, incorporeal god, and usually a devil, angels and demons. It was cosmopolitan, individual, and incorporated strict moral teachings. It generally promised its believers immortality, and some cults had gods who were killed and resurrected, with the believers participating in the god's resurrection. The rites included baptism and communion. Many of the cults were already combined with Judaism (the old Testament history) and Greek philosophy (Platonism/Neoplatonism). Unlike Judaism and the classical religions, they had professional, hierarchical priesthoods.

One shortcoming of the book is that Cumont still talks about Christianity as if it is something different from the pagan cults. Of course the Christians opposed Christianity to an undifferentiated "paganism", just as Catholics today divide religion into Catholicism and non-Catholics, or the Mormons into Mormons and gentiles. Undoubtedly each of the cults did the same. But the conclusion to be drawn from Cumont's description in my opinion is that Christianity was just one of many very similar competing cults, others of which at one time or another came close to becoming dominant and then lost out to political factors. There was nothing miraculous; the Christians just happened to back the right politicians.

Of course, in the hundred years since this influential book was written, we have undoubtedly gotten a fuller and more refined idea of later paganism; but this is one of the most interesting books on religion I can remember having read.


message 13: by James (last edited Aug 07, 2016 05:18AM) (new)

James F | 1568 comments Stendhal, Memoire d'une touriste [1837] 80 pages [in French, Kindle]

A short account of a visit to Nantes and the surrounding region. It comments on the museums and monuments, but also the people he spoke to. It is full of interesting observations and digressions on art and other topics.


message 14: by Warren (new)

Warren Benton | 75 comments Career of Evil
Rating: 4

Cormoran Strike is having a pretty normal day until his assistant receives a severed leg. Robin Ellacott works for Strike at his Private Investigator agency. Strike lost part of his leg in Afghanistan and starts trying to piece together who would have done this to repay him. He has a few criminals that he had gotten locked up that he suspects, but the severed leg hits close to home.

This story twists and turns through London and Robin and Strike set off with his leads. In typical fashion, the police can only do so much, whereas a PI Strike and Robin are only able to do so much. As the serial killer continues to kill, Stike is trying to get Robin out of harms way.

This is the 3rd book in the Cormoran Strike series. This was my first in the Strike series. Luckily for me, it reads as a stand alone novel.


message 15: by Melissa (new)

Melissa (melissasd) | 839 comments The Legend of the Rift by Peter Lerangis
4 ★

This is the epic final installment of the series. This edition begins right after Aly has been kidnapped by King Uhla'ar and pulled back into Atlantis. The rift is guarded by a behemoth, and Aly simply cannot be rescued easily. Frantic, the kids come to believe that their only hope is to find the rest of the lost Loculi in order to rescue Aly. With that, it’s off to the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, where they have to face down the armies of Artemis, and then to the Lighthouse of Alexandria, where they wind up in the belly of an unimaginable beast. And then finally, back to the Karai Institute for a final trip back to Atlantis to save Aly, the world, and themselves.

My Thoughts

This is the last book in the Seven Wonders series and it starts off where the last one ended. I like when books do this. You don't feel like you missed anything. Aly has been taken through the rift and it's up to Jack, Marco, Eloise and Cass to find the last 2 Loculi and save her. Eloise ends up being a great addition to the team. Her wit and innocence is refreshing. The gang travels to the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus where they meet a most unfortunate man and a group of Amazons. Then onto the Lighthouse of Alexandria where they meet a giant underwater creature. The action is nonstop and Marco and Eloise make you laugh constantly. Everything comes together nicely at the end and I really like how the author ended things. He may have left an opening for further adventures, but that may be just my wishful thinking. I have highly enjoyed the whole series and the wonderful history behind the Seven Wonders of the World.


message 16: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2462 comments Mod
The Diva Takes the Cake (A Domestic Diva Mystery, #2) by Krista Davis The Diva Takes the Cake – Krista Davis
– 1.5*
Book two in the Domestic Diva series has event planner Sophie Wilson in charge of her sister, Hannah’s, wedding. I read mysteries – even cozy mysteries – for the murder plot. And this one is just plain ridiculous. The best thing about the book is the rivalry between Sophie and Natasha, including the competing advice given at the beginning of each chapter. Oh well, it satisfied several challenges and it was a fast read.
Full Review HERE


message 17: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2462 comments Mod
August 7 – currently reading

TEXT – Murder in Belleville An Aimee Leduc Investigation by Cara Black Murder in Belleville / Cara Black
AUDIO in the car – A Fatal Grace (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #2) by Louise Penny A Fatal Grace / Louise Penny
Portable AUDIO – La's Orchestra Saves the World  by Alexander McCall Smith La's Orchestra Saves the World / Alexander McCall Smith


message 18: by Leah (new)

Leah K (uberbutter) | 760 comments Mod
Voices from Chernobyl The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster by Svetlana Alexievich

Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster by Svetlana Alexievich
356 pages

★★★★

Wow, this is a difficult one to review. I mean, how do you judge other people’s views and thoughts on the Chernobyl disaster – those that lived through it. This book was originally published in 1997, about 11 years after the event, and was translated to English in 2006. Many people tell their stories, those who “volunteered” to clean up, those who worked there or near, widows of liquidators, those that chose to continue living there, etc. I’ve read plenty of information on the disaster but this is the first time I’ve really seen it from the point of view of those living it. It was certainly an interesting, emotional read. It’s a very honest vision of everything that happened and was still happening when the book was written nearly 2 decades ago. It could be a rough read at times, some of the stories are truly heart-breaking. Definitely worth a look if you’re at all interesting the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. I just wish I knew where these people are today, I wish I could ask their views today and if they’ve changed at all. I want to know more!


message 19: by ilikeboox (last edited Aug 09, 2016 01:31PM) (new)

ilikeboox | 242 comments Intensity by Dean Koontz I just finished this. It is a fun and high paced read. Intensity by Dean Koontz


message 20: by Beverly (new)

Beverly (zippymom) | 696 comments The Wrong Man by Kate White
The Wrong Man by Kate White

This was an interesting book well read by Erin Bennett. Kit Finn, an interior decorator, is on vacation in Florida and is irresistibly drawn to a handsome stranger. She decides to take a daring chance and they spend an exciting night together. There is a promise to get together when Kit gets back to her job in New York. Strangely enough, when she shows up at the designated meeting, an unfamiliar man opens the door. He tells her that his wallet had been stolen at a party and she must have met the guy that took it. Suddenly, Kit's life is on a giant downward slide. She's been lied to and people around her have started dying. Then the handsome stranger shows up and tries to convince her that there was a reason he lied to her and that he's sorry he's dragged her into such a dangerous situation. Whose telling the truth, can she trust anyone and why is someone trying to kill her? The answers kept me guessing all the way!


message 21: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2462 comments Mod
Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming – 4****
In general I am not a big fan of celebrity memoirs, but Cumming’s memoir of a childhood living with an abusive father, and how he came to terms with the abuse, faced his past and overcame it is well worth reading.
Full Review HERE


message 22: by Beverly (new)

Beverly (zippymom) | 696 comments The Cutting Season by Attica Locke
The Cutting Season by Attica Locke
4 stars

The beautiful plantation of Belle Vie. Presenting a glimpse of the past to the public on a daily basis as the staff presents living history plays. Caren presides over all of this. She grew up on the plantation and now keeps it's daily schedules under a tight rein. On her early morning rounds she noticed that it appeared someone had been digging along a fence line and she asked the grounds gardener to clean it up. She soon receives a call from him saying that there was a dead body at the site. Suddenly, everything about Caren's life is different. The farther the investigation goes, the more secrets are revealed. I really enjoyed reading this. For the most part I found the characters to be believable, my only complaint being that there were a ton of characters with a lot of them having little more than a bit part. But it kept me guessing right up to the end.


message 23: by Beverly (new)

Beverly (zippymom) | 696 comments The 13th Enumeration Key to the Bible's Messsianic Symbolism (Prophecies & Patterns) by William Struse
The 13th Enumeraton: Key to the Bible's Messianic Symbolism by William Struse
2 stars

I'm not sure why I originally downloaded this book--I guess because it was free and sounded kind of interesting. The problem was that it was just not extremely readable and, for me, it was difficult to follow--maybe because I don't know enough about the bible. I did enjoy reading about the background of the number 13 and finding out some of the reasons it became to be considered an unlucky number.


message 24: by Terris (new)

Terris | 585 comments Book Concierge wrote: "Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming – 4****
In general I am not a big fan of celebrity memoirs, but Cumming’s memoir of a childhood living with an abusive ..."


Read this recently, loved it!


message 25: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2462 comments Mod
The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian The Double Bind – Chris Bohjalian
– 4****
Seven years ago Laurel survived a vicious attack in the Vermont woods. Now, in her work at a homeless shelter, she is looking through a box of photographs left by a deceased client, when she discovers a photo that convinces her they contain clues to a hidden family secret. Bohjalian crafts a compelling and intricate scenario with layer upon layer of complexity. I loved the way he drew me in, made me believe in Laurel – and Bobbie – and then forced me to reconsider the veracity of their claims. I’m left breathless and drained at the end. And … wanting to start over again to see what clues Bohjalian left that I missed the first time around.
Full Review HERE


message 26: by James (new)

James F | 1568 comments Milan Kundera, Jacques and his Master: An homage to Diderot in three acts [written ca.1968, French orig. pub 1981 tr. 1985] 90 pages

Written shortly after the Soviet invasion put an end to the Prague Spring, (and before the novels the author is best known for in the West) this was not published until more than twenty years later. It is a "variation", in Kundera's words, on the novel Jacques le fataliste by the French Encyclopaedist Denis Diderot. According to Kundera's preface, the play (and Diderot's novel, which I read more than a decade ago) are intended to satirize emotionalism and seriousness in literature. (His explanation reminded me of the origins of Dada during the first world war.) What this is, is a very funny play about the love lives of a servant and his master. I intend to read more by Kundera.


message 27: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2462 comments Mod
Murder in Belleville (Aimee Leduc Investigations, #2) by Cara Black Murder in Belleville by Cara Black – 2.5**
This is the second book in the series, and I find that I like the premise of the series, better than I like the books so far. Aimée Leduc is a strong, intelligent, capable woman who doesn’t rely on a convenient strong man to help her (most of the time). But Black seems to get lost in her intricate plots. There are so many threads to follow, so many suspects, so many different dangerous situations, and somehow they don’t really mesh well. Still, I see promise, and I’d be willing to read another.
Full Review HERE


message 28: by Melissa (new)

Melissa (melissasd) | 839 comments The Finest Hours The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard's Most Daring Sea Rescue by Michael Tougias

The Finest Hours by Michael Tougias
5 ★

It’s the winter of 1952 and a ferocious Nor’easter is pounding New England with howling winds and seventy-foot seas. Two oil tankers get caught in the violent storm off Cape Cod, its fury splitting the massive ships in two. Back on shore are four young Coast Guardsmen who are given a suicide mission. They must save the lives of the seamen left stranded in the killer storm, and they have to do it in a tiny lifeboat. The crew is led by Bernie Webber, who has to rely on prayer and the courage of his three crewmembers to pull off the impossible. As Webber and his crew sail into the teeth of the storm, each man comes to the realization that he may not come back alive. They’ve lost all navigation and have no idea where the stranded seaman are, and have no idea how to get back home. Whether by sheer luck or divine intervention, the crew stumbles upon the wounded ship in the darkness. More than thirty men appear at the railings of the SS Pendleton, all hoping to be saved. Once again, Webber and his crew face a daunting challenge. How can they rescue all these men with their tiny lifeboat?

My Thoughts

Excellent story telling about an unbelievable rescue by the US Coast Guard. The author did a great job introducing the characters and giving the reader as much background on each as possible. The risks these men took was amazing and so well documented by the author. You feel the pain, desperation and joy of the rescue throughout the whole book. The pictures are an added bonus. The USCG men take the unspoken motto, "You have to go out, but you don't have to come back", to heart and don't think twice about the job they have to do. Although the book brought tears to my eyes, I look forward to seeing the movie and will definitely read more by Michael Tougias.


message 29: by Marti (new)

Marti (coloreader) Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler ***stars

Anne Tyler is one of my favorite authors and I liked this book as well. Twenty-eight year old Kate is going no where fast. She keeps house for her dad and tries to keep tabs on her younger sister. Kate has a job in a pre-school, which she is on the verge of losing. Her dad is a typical absentmined professor type, although his job is as a research scientist. He has a research assistant who is about to be deported as his work visa is expiring. The rest of the story is pretty predictable, but humorous and fun. It is not one of Tyler's best books, but thoroughly enjoyable.


message 30: by James (new)

James F | 1568 comments Salma Khadra Jayyusi, ed., Tales of Juha: Classic Arab Folk Humor translated by Matthew Sorenson, Faisal Khadra and Christopher Tingley [2007] 144 pages

A collection of mediaeval Arabic humorous folk anecdotes attached to the name of Juha, a sort of Arab Till Eulenspiegal. Some are funny, some not so funny, some old chestnuts we have all heard a thousand times attached to other characters, few that anyone would find offensive. There is a certain amount of satire of wealth and political corruption. A quick, fun read.


message 31: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2462 comments Mod
A Fatal Grace (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, #2) by Louise Penny A Fatal Grace – Cara Black – 3***
How could CC de Poitiers have been electrocuted in the midst of a curling match in Three Pines – and without anyone seeing a thing? Chief Inspector Armand Gamache has his work cut out for him solving this mystery, and I love the quiet, efficient way he investigates. I figured out the murderer pretty early, but still enjoyed watching how Gamache arrived at the conclusion. I’ll definitely keep reading this series.
Full Review HERE


message 32: by ilikeboox (new)

ilikeboox | 242 comments Lamb To The Slaughter (DI Marjory Fleming #4) by Aline Templeton - 1*

I just couldn't get into this book despite all the rave reviews. But as one person mentioned, too many characters are introduced. I got to about page 60 and was just too bored by all the descriptions of people one after another.


message 33: by Beverly (new)

Beverly (zippymom) | 696 comments Darned if You Do (A Needlecraft Mystery) by Monica Ferris
Darned if You Do by Monica Ferris
4 stars

I am so glad to be able to get back to reading one of the needlework mysteries by Monica Ferris. I have known Ms. Ferris for a number of years after meeting her at Magna Cum Murder and she is quite the character and has a wonderful sense of humor. I'm hoping that now that we've read this for one of my book groups, I'll get back into reading the series again. Just a great little cozy about Betsy Devonshire, who owns and operates Crewel World needlework shop in Excelsior, Minnesota. She's a wonderful woman who is a good friend, very community minded, and an amateur sleuth. In this current offering, one of the locals who has sticky fingers ends up in the hospital after a tree falls on his house during a storm. During his rescue, the town discovers that he is definitely a hoarder. When Tommy "Taker" Riordan dies during his hospital stay, it doesn't take long for the police and Betsy to discover that the death was suspicious. As the town, along with Tommy's cousin Valentina, attempt to clean up the property treasures are found and lost, suspects are identified and cleared and the Monday Bunch continue working on their projects and catching up on local gossip. Again, just a great little cozy mystery for those that enjoy that sort of thing.


message 34: by Leah (new)

Leah K (uberbutter) | 760 comments Mod
But Enough About Me A Memoir by Burt Reynolds

But Enough About Me by Burt Reynolds
320 pages

★★ ½

In this memoir by Burt Reynolds, we get a glimpse into the personal life of this successful actor and I do mean a glimpse. We get bits and pieces of his childhood and later life but as the title said “enough about me”. Honestly, this book is more about everyone Reynold’s has met, worked with, become friends (or enemies) with. It had its entertaining moments but I’m not a big fan of such memoirs. This guy had something to say about everyone he met, whether good or bad, and it made me feel blah – like I was reading a gossip magazine. I actually started this book in audio form since I love it when an actor reads their own book but boy, I couldn’t do it. Burt Reynolds is so quiet and slow throughout – we have to remember this isn’t the Smokey and the Bandit Reynolds but a man who is in his 80s. Even sped up, I had trouble not falling asleep when listening so I eventually moved over to the actual book and it went much faster. An alright book but I would have liked to see more about his personal life than a list of everyone he’s met and his ideas on them.


message 35: by Terris (last edited Aug 16, 2016 05:58AM) (new)

Terris | 585 comments Mary Lincoln Southern Girl, Northern Woman by Stacy Pratt McDermott
Mary Lincoln: Southern Girl, Northern Woman by Stacy Pratt McDermott, 5*****s
This is a wonderfully written and very well researched telling of Mary Todd Lincoln's story. We always hear about Abraham Lincoln and, usually, of Mary in correlation to him. But it was nice to know about her childhood, young adulthood, and of her as wife and mother. This telling also dispels and explains some of the negative stories that are told about Mary. I enjoyed it very much and highly recommend it!


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Melissa (melissasd) | 839 comments Alive (The Generations Trilogy, #1) by Scott Sigler

Alive by Scott Sigler
5 ★

A young woman awakes trapped in an enclosed space. She has no idea who she is or how she got there. With only her instincts to guide her, she escapes her own confinement—and finds she’s not alone. She frees the others in the room and leads them into a corridor filled with the remains of a war long past. The farther these survivors travel, the worse are the horrors they confront. And as they slowly come to understand what this prison is, they realize that the worst and strangest possibilities they could have imagined don’t even come close to the truth.

My Thoughts:

A girl wakes up in a coffin in a deserted building and all she knows is that her name is M. Savage, or so she thinks. That is what is printed at the end of her coffin. All she does know is that it's her 12th birthday. Soon others are emerging from coffins. They start to work together and meet up with another group. Wow! This was one exciting, interesting read. I really liked how the story was told by one person and as she discovered things, so did the reader. I was as shocked as she was. So much happens throughout the book, but I don't want to spoil it for anyone. The only disappointment I had was the trust issues. Em is very self-conscious and worries about what everyone else is thinking and/or doing.


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Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2462 comments Mod
One Bad Apple (Orchard, #1) by Sheila Connolly One Bad Apple by Sheila Connolly – 3***
This is a strong opening for a cozy mystery series. I like Meg; she’s intelligent, relatively self-sufficient, and not easily intimidated. I figured out the culprit long before Meg or the police, and I thought the ending was a little less than satisfying. Still, I like the way Connolly is developing Meg’s relationships with the town’s residents, and there are some delicious recipes featuring apples at the end.
Full Review HERE


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ilikeboox | 242 comments I just finished reading A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner for book club. I found it tedious and sappy. There was too much trite self-reflection by the characters which dumbed down the storyline. The characters came off as emotionally draining to all around them. The supporting characters were unrealistically similar and 'amazing' in their forgiving and insightful natures along with their unrelenting interest and desire to help. The story of how the scarf connects the characters is a bit lame.


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James F | 1568 comments Frederick Copleston, S.J., A History of Philosophy, volume 7: Fichte to Nietzsche [1963] 496 pages

This is the first volume of Copleston's History that I hadn't previously read when I was studying philosophy in college. The volume covers German philosophy of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. More than half the book is devoted to the three major post-Kantian Idealists, Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, and their more important disciples. Trying to understand Idealist philosophy for me is nearly impossible -- it makes my brain hurt, and I would gladly skip over this entire tendency if it weren't for the influence of Hegel on Marx and thereby on much of twentieth century philosophy. Copleston has the advantage over me here that to him as a Catholic philosopher the idea of Absolute Spirit means something, even if not what it does to Hegel. He explains these philosophies about as clearly as I think they could be explained.

The book then turns to the critics and opponents of Hegel. The neo-Kantians, and some thinkers who continued non-Kantian traditions, get one chapter; Schopenhauer gets two, there is one on the "Young Hegelians", and one on Marx (not surprisingly, this is the weakest chapter in the entire series so far; about all I can say is that he is as fair to Marx as a Catholic priest before the era of "Liberation theology" could be). Then he turns to the more existential tradition, with a chapter on Kierkegaard, one on "non-dialectical materialism" (also weak), and two on Nietzsche. The book ends up with a brief discussion of some twentieth century German philosophers who to some extent continued the traditions discussed in the book (the neo-Kantian Cassirer, the phenomenologists Husserl and Heidegger).

If I had reviewed this in the Image edition which broke it up into two parts, I would have given the first half a much higher rating than the second; Copleston understands the idealists better than he does the materialists, perhaps because that's where his sympathies lie. Not the best book in the series.


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Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2462 comments Mod
La's Orchestra Saves the World  by Alexander McCall Smith La’s Orchestra Saves the World – Alexander McCall Smith – 4****
Alexander McCall Smith has a gentle way of introducing the reader to his characters. La and the other residents of the town go about their business in this small Suffolk village during WW2; they worry, rejoice, are fearful, find love, relish friendships, enjoy simple pleasures and take action when they can. I applauded La’s resilience and her ability to maintain her faith in the basic goodness of others. Her scope of influence may have been small, but she was a treasure to those within that circle.
Full Review HERE


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Melissa (melissasd) | 839 comments Magyk (Septimus Heap, #1) by Angie Sage

Magyk by Angie Sage
Septimus Heap #1
4 ★

The seventh son of the seventh son, aptly named Septimus Heap, is stolen the night he is born by a midwife who pronounces him dead. That same night, the baby's father, Silas Heap, comes across a bundle in the snow containing a new born girl with violet eyes. The Heaps take this helpless newborn into their home, name her Jenna, and raise her as their own. But who is this mysterious baby girl, and what really happened to their beloved son Septimus?

The first book in this enthralling new series by Angie Sage leads readers on a fantastic journey filled with quirky characters and magykal charms, potions, and spells. Magyk is an original story of lost and rediscovered identities, rich with humor and heart.

My Thoughts

This was a quick read for me, but I did enjoy the story. There are interesting characters and a bit of mystery. I tried to make a guess on one of the mysteries and ended up being wrong. The author did a nice job with the sneaky aspect. I also liked how the author put all the magical words in bold print. I will continue this series. I'm looking forward to seeing the characters grow.


message 42: by Leah (last edited Aug 22, 2016 01:19PM) (new)

Leah K (uberbutter) | 760 comments Mod
The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
192 pages

★★★★

The Outsiders was the first required read I remember actually getting through without prodding. I was 13 and just getting into reading (finally pushing through my dyslexia issues, long story) and jumped from not reading at all to finding it difficult to find me without my nose in a book. So….it’s been awhile since I’ve read the book but it’s always had a special place in my heart. I also remember after reading the book, the teacher showed us the movie and I remember enjoying both so much I look forward to looking into both again.

I am so glad I re-read this one. So many of my favorite books from when I was younger get tainted when I read them as an adult – it just loses its shine. But I have to say reading this book just brought back all the feels I still enjoyed the characters, the plot, the lines. “Stay gold Ponyboy” still gave me goosebumps. It’s a story that doesn’t lose its meaning as time goes by. Everyone knows the feeling of be in a group, not being accepted by others, the try to just be better. I think the only difference between now and then, when I first read it, was I think I can relate Darry more than the “kids” – of course I would relate to the one with adult responsibilities more than I did when I was 13. Still a great book. I hope to re-read it once again when my son is older.


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Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2462 comments Mod
Chasing Cezanne by Peter Mayle Chasing Cezanne – Peter Mayle – 3***
This is a fun romp of a crime caper, featuring the rich and famous, a couple of big-time art thieves, a curious (but legitimate) art dealer, and an art forger who is ready to make a change. Of course, there’s also a lovely young lady to brighten the landscape. And who could argue against the delights and magic of Paris and Provence? It reminds me of the Cary Grant movies of the 1940s and 1950s.
Full Review HERE


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Leah K (uberbutter) | 760 comments Mod
The Panic Virus A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear by Seth Mnookin

The Panic Virus: A True Story of Medicine, Science, and Fear by Seth Mnookin
429 pages

★★★★

Heads up – this is a pro-vaccine book and I am a pro-vaccine person so I am sure I am biased on the merits of this book. Because let’s be honest, I don’t know many anti-vaccine people who would read this book (and if they did, they would think it’s all a lie or cover-up – words out of an anti-vaccine mom I know) just as I’m not likely to read a book on anti-vaccination without rolling my eyes so far up my head they would get lost.

With that out of the way, I will say I enjoyed this book. I didn’t need it to change my mind, I wasn’t on the fence, I was just curious. It is a well-researched, informative, easy to read book and I think, fair. I get it, the author gets it, autism is a very real thing and as a parent it’s scary and you want answers and there are none so you have to blame someone and out of the woodwork comes “doctors” and celebrities who tell you it’s the vaccines and you grasp to it, because hey, it’s an answer and you need one so desperately. I get it, I’m a parent. But science is your friend! Anyway, the author talks about all the medical aspects of it in terms easily understood by the scientifically challenged….aka me. He talks about the history of immunizations and the changes. He looks at both sides but as can be expected always comes out on the pro-vaccination side. It’s a good book if you’re interested in such things.


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James F | 1568 comments Stanislaw Lem, Mortal engines [tr. Michael Kandel, 1977] 239 pages

Fourteen stories about robots, translated from Polish. The first eleven are from a collection called Fables for robots; like the stories of The Cyberiad they are short satirical parables or fairy tales set in a world inhabited by robots and are just fun to read. The twelfth story features Ijon Tichy, and the thirteenth is a story of Pilot Pirx, two characters who appear frequently in Lem's writings. The last and best story is a stand-alone, "The Hunt", which is more serious and recalls themes from Solaris.


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Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2462 comments Mod
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah The Nightingale – Kristin Hannah – 3***
It’s a compelling story, and I really liked having the action take place within the lives of these two women. However, at about the midpoint of the narrative, it took a turn towards a romantic melodrama that just really irritated me. And I thought the flashback “mystery” was entirely unnecessary and manipulative. Good but not great.
Full Review HERE


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A Deadly Cliché (A Books by the Bay Mystery #2) by Ellery Adams A Deadly Cliché – Ellery Adams – 3***
I like this series. I like Olivia’s independence and “get on with it” attitude. Her relationships with the town’s residents are developing nicely in this second installment. She is definitely beginning to open up to the possibility of love and affection in her life. I thought the reveal was a little over-the-top, but I was still sufficiently entertained. I’ll keep reading this series.
Full Review HERE


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James F | 1568 comments John Steinbeck, Tortilla Flat [1935] 207 pages

Steinbeck's first successful novel. This is the story of Danny, who after returning from World War I inherits two houses in Tortilla Flat, a poverty-stricken neighborhood of Monterrey, California. The houses soon become a group home for several of Danny's friends. Unlike The Grapes of Wrath, which describes the conditions of farmers and workers (or farmers who become workers) during the Depression, this novel describes what in German is called the lumpenproletariat, the permanently unemployed, alcohol-obsessed underclass which lives by scavenging and petty crime. Though often called a "left" writer on the basis of The Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck is essentially a Christian author who tends to idealize poverty as such; one of his most frequent allusions is to St. Francis of Assisi. The book is well-written, often funny and the characters for all their eccentricities seem real, but the content didn't really appeal to me that much.


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James F | 1568 comments John Steinbeck, Cannery Row

I read this for a Goodreads' discussion group. Written ten years after Tortilla Flat, it is a very similar novel; it's also set in Monterrey, and deals largely with the unemployed all-male inhabitants of a sort of group home which is very reminiscent of Danny's friends in the earlier novel. Most of my review of that could be repeated here. The slight plot deals with the relations of the friends to "Doc", a collector of biological samples for the research market. There is also a greedy but ultimately good-hearted Chinese storekeeper and an idealized brothel called the Bear Flag Restaurant. As in the earlier book, poverty is idealized; the feel is somewhat like the drop-out counterculture of the sixties except with actual poor people instead of middle-class teenagers. Funny and well-written but not his best book; although if I had been assigned these two in school rather than The Red Pony and The Moon is Down it might not have taken my forty years to decide to read The Grapes of Wrath.


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Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 2462 comments Mod
Deck the Halls by Mary Higgins Clark Deck the Halls – Mary Higgins Clark & Carol Higgins Clark
– 3***
Mary Higgins Clark and her daughter, Carol Higgins Clark, combine their talents in a new mystery series featuring the collaboration of the two writers’ lead characters. This is an interesting and fun mystery. Of course, the reader always knows who the culprit is, but it’s fun to watch the police, Regan and Alvirah arrive at the solution. I’ve never read anything by either of these authors before, so the characters were completely new to me, but I never felt lost and the way they come together seemed plausible. All told, this is a quick, entertaining cozy with a satisfying ending.
Full Review HERE


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