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What did you read last month? > What I read ~~January 2017

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message 1: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16832 comments

Share with us what you read in January 2017 !


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 Emma (new)

Emma (elpryan) | 168 comments Hi all! I came back strong in Jan 2017, mostly by avoiding social media and making use of the kindle fire to read in the dark. :) I also started borrowing the eBook version from the library of hard copies I'm reading so I can make progress (it also adds some time pressure with the 14 day loan limit!). 6 this month:

Before the Fall 3/5 Quick, suspenseful read. This felt a little like reading a conspiracy theory about the Kennedy plane that went down some years ago. I liked the character development and the back stories of the passengers, but felt the ending was a bit of a let down (no pun intended). Still worth a read.

First Comes Love 2/5 Emily Giffin has been one of my go to authors when it comes to satisfying a chick lit craving, but her last two really haven't done it for me. This is the story of two sisters who lost their brother in an accident 15 years ago who are at something of a midlife crisis. I didn't find either sister particularly likeable or relatable and because of that, I couldn't get behind one of the plot lines.

Fortune Smiles 4/5 Book of short stories that are told from a perspective you wouldn't expect or necessarily support. Sometimes an uncomfortable read but really interesting perspective into what might be going on in the heads of not traditionally good people.

Sweetbitter 2/5 The marketing of this book made it sound like an exciting story about life behind the scenes in the kitchen of a famous restaurant. I found this to be more the story of a girl who happens to get hired as a back waiter who has a crush on the bartender with a sprinkling of other kitchen anecdotes. While I'm sure stories like this happen, it wasn't what I was expecting. I'll read more Anthony Bourdain instead.

A Little Life 4.5/5 An epic novel that traverses decades of the lives of four college friends. I'm so happy to have read it, but at times it was depressing, oppressive, uplifting, funny, sad, daunting, relentless, and challenging, but it's written in a way that the characters feel like a part of your life and you become entrenched (and at times smothered by) the story and it was both a relief and triumph to finish it.

A Man Called Ove 4/5 Friendly curmudgeon Ove hates everyone and everything but can't leave a job undone. Of course they made this into a movie. I found this to be a fun, mostly feel good read (he kind of reminds me of my dad in some ways) but I can see where readers might find his attitude tiresome.


message 3: by [deleted user] (last edited Jan 31, 2017 12:28PM) (new)

Books Read during January 2017:

1. The Pearl That Broke Its Shell by Nadia Hashimi- 4 stars
Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

This wasn't my favorite fictional account based on Afghan culture, but still a worthwhile read. I am embarrassed to admit that I had never heard of the practice of bacha posh which is a theme that runs throughout the entire book and ties two timelines together. (More on bacha posh here: http://nadiahashimi.com/what-is-a-bac...)

Other elements were reminscent of books I had read by authors such as Khaled Hosseini and Mira Jacob, so I wasn't quite as impressed.

2. The Atomic Weight of Love by Elizabeth J. Church- 4 stars
Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Initially, the colorful book cover caught my attention but I was also influenced by a few reviews and almost decided not to read it. Overall, this fictional book may not be for everyone but the historical, ornithology, science tie-in held my attention, especially when the story dragged. Although I am not sure about the historical accuracy, I am sure the feminist theme would be true to the time period of the 1950s - 1970s. So much has changed and yet, so much hasn't.

3. Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body by Jo Marchant - 4 stars
Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

(2016 Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Science and Technology)

This well researched book covering current scientific thought concerning the mind/body connection is very relevant, especially given the increase in popularity of non-western or holistic types of treatments.

I usually begin reading books about health/science/psychology out of interest, mixed with a dose of skepticism. Thankfully the author appoached the subjects with an open mind but also backed up most claims with recent studies that had a large enough sample group to have a potentially meaningful conclusion.

4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling - 5 stars- Audible (re-read)

A fun way to revisit the Harry Potter series and Jim Dale made an excellent narrator.

5. Finding Yourself in the Kitchen: Kitchen Meditations and Inspired Recipes from a Mindful Cook by Dana Velden - 3 stars
Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

This was a short and sweet cooking/meditation inspired book. It doesn't contain many recipes but I think the focus was meant to be on the philosophical process of cooking. It does read like a series of blog entries, which is part of the reason I gave it 3 stars

6. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff - 5 stars
Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

I loved the idea of ongoing correspondence between a customer and bookshop staff during a bygone era, that eventually evolved into a more personal type of communication. However, I couldn't help but wonder what Frank Doel thought of that first letter? The humor used by the author (Hanff) in her letters sometimes came off as caustic or complaining, but eventually her overall character won me over.


message 4: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16832 comments Emma wrote: "Hi all! I came back strong in Jan 2017, mostly by avoiding social media and making use of the kindle fire to read in the dark. :) I also started borrowing the eBook version from the library of hard..."

Well done, Emma ! I waste too much time online. I need to follow your lead.

I also loved A Man Called Ove


message 5: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16832 comments Lisa Ann ✿ wrote: 3. Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind Over Body by Jo Marchant - 4 stars
Review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

(2016 Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Science and Technology).."


Nice month, Lisa !

I need to go check out Science of Mind Over Body by Jo Marchant. It's a new to me title. Thanks !


message 6: by [deleted user] (last edited Jan 31, 2017 12:51PM) (new)

Sounds like you had a good reading month, Emma. Avoiding social media is smart! More reading time.

I am looking forward to reading A Man Called Ove but am still on the pesky waitlist.


message 7: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9291 comments Emma wrote: "Hi all! I came back strong in Jan 2017, mostly by avoiding social media and making use of the kindle fire to read in the dark. :) I also started borrowing the eBook version from the library of hard..."

My reading has increased this month, thanks to reading in the dark, too. In the past year my eyes have need pure daylight to read regular books without tiring my eyes. I seem not to have the same issue with the eBooks, thank goodness.

Noah Hawley's book sounded good when Alias posted the "published this month" list months back. Good to know it works...i think i'll add it to my list.

Lisa Ann, thanks for the comment & link on bacha posh. Interesting. One wonders how that practice began. Your comment about Frank Doel's first impression of that original letter from Helene Hanff rings true here. He seems so reserved in his letters, so it must have been quite the lark to read it & follow up nicely. One can imagine him going home to share with his wife & family.

Nice month for all. I'll post my list tomorrow, as i'm hoping to finish one more tonight...i hope.


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

madrano wrote: "Emma wrote: "Hi all! I came back strong in Jan 2017, mostly by avoiding social media and making use of the kindle fire to read in the dark. :) I also started borrowing the eBook version from the li..."

Deb- You are welcome and I hope you are able to complete that last January book tonight.


message 9: by Alias Reader (last edited Jan 31, 2017 04:18PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16832 comments My January reads:

The Four Foundations of Mindfulness in Plain English by Henepola Gunaratana The Four Foundations of Mindfulness in Plain English--Henepola Gunaratana
Non fiction
Rate 3+ / 5
Kindle eBook
This was a solid and informative read. The 4 foundations of mindfulness of the body, of feelings, of the mind, and of phenomena themselves will be of benefit to most readers who are new to Buddhism. It's particularly helpful with ones meditation practice.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi When Breath Becomes Air---Paul Kalanithi
Non fiction
Rate 3/5
The author was a young neurosurgeon who was diagnosed with late stage lung cancer. The book details his path to becoming a surgeon and then a patient. It's a very poignant and well done book. The author passed away before he finished the book. The last part is lovingly written by his wife.

The Hot Zone The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus by Richard Preston The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus---Richard Preston
Non fiction
Rate 4/5
This book was published in 1994. It's the terrifying tale of the Ebola virus when it appears in the U.S. We really dodged a bullet as this variant of Ebola was not as deadly as other types to humans. We were super lucky as the book details the numerous errors that were made. The book reads like a page turner. Well done. I read it with my library group and also with a Buddy group here at BNC.

Superhuman by Habit A Guide to Becoming the Best Possible Version of Yourself, One Tiny Habit at a Time by Tynan Superhuman by Habit: A Guide to Becoming the Best Possible Version of Yourself, One Tiny Habit at a Time---Tynan
Non fiction
Rate 3/5
Concise and useful tips on creating habits or dropping bad ones. I like that it was to the point without a lot of filler.


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Wow, all non-fiction, Alias! It sounds as though The Hot Zone was well written.


message 11: by Shomeret (new)

Shomeret | 224 comments madrano wrote: "Emma wrote: "Hi all! I came back strong in Jan 2017, mostly by avoiding social media and making use of the kindle fire to read in the dark. :) I also started borrowing the eBook version from the li..."

Re bacha posh-- From what I've read, its origin is economic necessity. If there are no men in the household, the women will starve because women are so circumscribed in Afghanistan. So disguising a girl as a boy may be the only means of survival.


message 12: by Samanta (new)

Samanta   (almacubana) | 189 comments I've read a small number of books this month. I seem to have a hard time concentrating on reading. Winter is really not my season. :(

Mr. Ives' Christmas by Oscar Hijuelos by Oscar Hijuelos Oscar Hijuelos - I gave this book a C+. I chose this book because I wanted to read something Christmasy, and I realised I'm terrible at choosing those types of books. This was rather depressing, and as a person who went through mourning, I consider this book a guide on what to NOT do to yourself if you lose a loved one.

Paper Princess (The Royals, #1) by Erin Watt Broken Prince (The Royals, #2) by Erin Watt and Twisted Palace (The Royals, #3) by Erin Watt by Erin Watt Erin Watt - this trilogy is an emotional rollercoaster and it took me a few hours after finishing the last one to start feeling dizzy (literally!). I gave all three books an A.

All the President's Men by Carl Bernstein by Carl Bernstein Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward Bob Woodward - This was a C+/B- read for me. It was a very interesting topic, but at some point, it became too dry and you definitely need to have a background knowledge to understand everything.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson by Robert Louis Stevenson Robert Louis Stevenson - B+. I loved this book. I read it because I was watching TV show Black Sails, which is supposed to be a prequel of sorts. It was a bit hard to get used to 20 years older characters from the TV show, who are a bit different (read: hardened) than what they were in the show (read: much younger and more idealistic).

Narcissus in Chains (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter, #10) by Laurell K. Hamilton by Laurell K. Hamilton Laurell K. Hamilton - B. This was one of the better books in the series, but as much as I love the world Hamilton created, I need a break between books.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them The Original Screenplay by J.K. Rowling by J.K. Rowling J.K. Rowling - A. This was my first time reading a screenplay and I enjoyed it very much.


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Shomeret wrote: "madrano wrote: "Emma wrote: "Hi all! I came back strong in Jan 2017, mostly by avoiding social media and making use of the kindle fire to read in the dark. :) I also started borrowing the eBook ver..."

That makes sense, Shomeret. Thanks!


message 14: by Petra (new)

Petra | 960 comments @ Emma:
I wasn't a fan of Before the Fall but I really liked A Man Called Ove. It was a fun, feel good book. I still haven't read A Little Life.
You had a really good month!

@ Alias: I'm currently listening to When Breath Becomes Air. I listened to an interview by his wife awhile back and liked what she said about her husband and their journey. It was very touching. So far, the book is as well.

@ Samanta: great reading! You read a trilogy and a scoop of other books. That's a great reading month in my books!


message 15: by Petra (new)

Petra | 960 comments My reads for January:

Today Will Be Different (audio) - I enjoyed this "day in the life of Eleanor" story. Not as good as Bernadette but enjoyable to listen to through a commute. 3-star

My Sister's Keeper (audio) - I started this book in December; it was my treadmill book. I find I'm not a fan of Jodi Piccoult's writing. 1-star

The Light Years - this is a really nice start to a family saga series. This book is set in pre-WWII days, with the war looming. We get to know the family, their relationships, their lifestyle. It was a fun read and I'm looking forward to continuing the series. 3-star

The Wonder (audio) - an interesting story of a child who has stopped eating because she believes she is being fed from Heaven. I liked how the author built tension into the story slowly. 4-star

Swann's Way - a reread. I want to continue with the rest of this series, so thought I'd reread the first book. It's still a lovely read with incredibly funny characters. Some sentences are long and tedious but as a whole, this is a great story. 5-star

Call It Sleep - got to say that I didn't find much of a story here. The book follows 3 years in the life of David, from 6-8 years of age. Told from his perspective, it's about every day child's life. I also found David unlikeable; a kid who's afraid of his own shadow. 2-star

As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust (audio) - another fun Flavia de Luce story. 3-star


message 16: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16832 comments Samanta wrote: "I've read a small number of books this month. I seem to have a hard time concentrating on reading. Winter is really not my season. :(

It looks like you had a nice month to me, Samanta ! Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed reading your comments.


message 17: by Alias Reader (last edited Feb 01, 2017 07:19AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16832 comments Petra wrote: "My reads for January:Swann's Way - a reread. I want to continue with the rest of this series, so thought I'd reread the first book. It's still a lovely read with incredibly funny characters. Some sentences are long and tedious but as a whole, this is a great story. 5-star."

Nice month, Petra.

My friend and neighbor is reading Swann's Way. The author is mentioned in another book she read and lent me Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies. Apparently Marcel Proust was a huge fan of Monet. Though there is no record of Monet reading Proust.

My neighbor said the book was hard to get into at first but now she is enjoying it. She said the writing is beautiful.


message 18: by Emma (new)

Emma (elpryan) | 168 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Well done, Emma !"

Thanks!


message 19: by Amy (last edited Feb 01, 2017 08:44AM) (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments My reads for January. I've been on a nonfiction kick lately, which is good because my fiction reads were merely OK:

Nonfiction:

The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride by Daniel James Brown: A narrative nonfiction account of the Donner Party's tragic journey through the Sierra Nevada mountains. Well-written; this the same author who wrote The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which was one of my favorite reads a few years ago. 4 stars

So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson: A book about "public shamings" that are being conducted via social media, and the role we all play in it. Scary--you will want to delete your Facebook and Twitter accounts after reading what happened to the people profiled in the book. 3.5 stars

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond: A nonfiction account of extreme poverty and economic exploitation in the neighborhoods and housing markets of Milwaukee, with a broader analysis of what it means for the country as a whole. 4 stars

The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World by Eric Weiner: The writer's account of a year spent traveling the globe, looking for the "unheralded happy places" in an attempt to understand and define what happiness means to each of us. A pleasant read. 3 stars

The Water is Wide: A Memoir by Pat Conroy: This was a re-read for me; it was the selection for my monthly library book club. It's an account of Conroy's year spent as a teacher on tiny Yamacraw Island off the coast of South Carolina. I love Conroy's writing; however, you can tell that this is an early work and that he definitely grew as a writer in the years after this memoir came out. 3 stars

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly: I saw the movie and then ran out to buy the book. A meticulously researched account of the true story of NASA’s African-American female mathematicians who played a crucial role in America’s space program. Warning: It's heavy on the physics and math and aerodynamics, which can make some chapters a struggle. 4 stars

Fiction:

Everything She Forgot by Lisa Ballantyne: While driving home, a woman is involved in a huge pileup and is trapped in the wreckage. Just as she begins to panic, a disfigured stranger pulls her from the car seconds before it’s engulfed in flames. Then he simply disappears. The event triggers the woman's memories about a horrible tragedy in her childhood that she has repressed. This book is presented as a mystery and a thriller--for me, however, there really was no twist or surprise in the end. 2 stars

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant: Eighty-five-year-old Addie Baum tells the story of her life to her 22-year-old granddaughter, who has asked her "How did you get to be the woman you are today?" The story begins in 1915 with Addie as a young girl in Boston, and continues with her life story. It was simply OK, mostly because there isn't really any plot. Addie grows up, life happens to her, her sisters and her friends, children are born, people die, then the novel just kind of ends. 3 stars

East of the Sun by Julia Gregson: This is the story of three women who travel from England to India during the turbulent 1920s when India's and England's relations were in flux. Each woman has secrets she wishes to keep deeply buried. It kept my interest enough that I read to the end, but as a fan of books set in India I was hoping for more depth to the story. 3 stars

Classics:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen: The latest in my efforts to read (or re-read) the classics that I should have read in high school. (Or that I did read in high school but can't remember because high school was a really long time ago.) This was a bit of a slog for me, but I didn't hate it. 3 stars


message 20: by Emma (new)

Emma (elpryan) | 168 comments Lisa Ann ✿ wrote: "Sounds like you had a good reading month, Emma. Avoiding social media is smart! More reading time.

I am looking forward to reading A Man Called Ove but am still on the pesky waitlist."


Likewise, good month for you, Lisa! I remember resisting Harry Potter when it first came out, then one of my old regular sidewalk book tables in NY had Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone for $2 and I finally picked it up, and then read the whole series. ;) I had that copy until this latest move, too.


message 21: by Emma (new)

Emma (elpryan) | 168 comments Samanta wrote: "I've read a small number of books this month. I seem to have a hard time concentrating on reading. Winter is really not my season. :(

Mr. Ives' Christmas by Oscar Hijuelos by [authorimage:Oscar Hi..."


If that's a slow month, your regular reading rate must be terrifying. :) Nice one!


message 22: by Emma (new)

Emma (elpryan) | 168 comments Petra wrote: "@ Emma:
I wasn't a fan of Before the Fall but I really liked A Man Called Ove. It was a fun, feel good book. I still haven't read A Little Life.
You..."


Thanks, Petra! Nice month for you too!

I was also not a fan of My Sister's Keeper and have not read anything else by Picoult.

I did like Room and added The Wonder to my TBR.


message 23: by Petra (new)

Petra | 960 comments Emma, I liked Room as well. I really did not like Frog Music. What a disappointment. :(


message 24: by Samanta (new)

Samanta   (almacubana) | 189 comments @ Petra, @ Alias Reader, @ Emma

Thank you! I'm already 4 books behind schedule in my GR reading challenge, so I'd say it was a slow month :) :)


message 25: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16832 comments Amy wrote: "My reads for January. I've been on a nonfiction kick lately, which is good because my fiction reads were merely OK:

Nonfiction:

[book:The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner ..."


Wow, Amy ! Excellent month.

I will definitely further check out your non fiction reads.

I did read Geography of Bliss and enjoyed it a lot more than you did. I gave it a top rating.

I look forward to check out So You've Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson as I need something to get me off of FB. Such a waste of time that could be better spent reading.


message 26: by John (new)

John | 924 comments I've listened to all of Eric Weiner's books on audio as I think his voice adds to the content. Last one was kinda hit-or-miss.

My notable reads for January were . . .

How To Be a Heroine, first generation Londoner of Iraqi Jewish background discusses the effect women in novels such as Little Women, Wuthering Heights, etc. had on her. Well written, though I felt handicapped not being familiar with some of the material cited.

Pond, an incredibly strange novella that some have cited as poetry-in-disguise. Thoughts of a self-absorbed woman with little social life.

Written in Dead Wax, terrific first story (there's a sequel coming up) featuring an un-named main character who sells rare vinyl albums. He gets a job that's more than he bargained for . . . actually two. Very likeable guy with interesting secondary characters, and a plot that while it feels a bit long, doesn't really flag.


message 27: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16832 comments Thanks for sharing, John. Nice month.


message 28: by Emma (new)

Emma (elpryan) | 168 comments Amy wrote: "My reads for January. I've been on a nonfiction kick lately, which is good because my fiction reads were merely OK:

Nonfiction:

[book:The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner ..."


Nice month, Amy!

re: Publicly Shamed, I'm afraid for my kids already as they grow up. Maybe we can lock them in a digital free bubble? ;)


message 29: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9291 comments Shomeret, thank you for explaining bacha posh to me. It makes sense in a sad way. At least it appears to have been a way to survive which was accepted.

Alias, you amaze me with your reading. Those are all strong books.

Samanta, while i agree that All the President's Men was somewhat dry, i think part of that was intentional, in a way. They were illustrating (imo) how much foot work, repetitive questioning and confirmations went into a single fact they wrote. While it wasn't fast-paced, the deliberate pace should have informed readers (particularly at the time) how such jobs might look exciting but can really become drudgery. This may be a book which read well at the time, when most of the names were more familiar. Still, the day-to-day tasks continue to fascinate me. Glad you read it, though. For me, it added an appreciation for most newspaper reporting.

Petra, i admire that you reread Swann's Way, while i've yet to start. I suppose my hesitation is because i look at the entire series, rather than just the first, then another. Well done.

Like you, i'm not a fan of Piccoult. She certainly has her finger on the pulse of issues, i hasten to add. Her writing just doesn't call me.

Alias, interesting fact about there being no record of Monet reading Proust. It makes one wonder about the latter's fascination with the painter.

Amy wrote: "The latest in my efforts to read (or re-read) the classics that I should have read in high school. (Or that I did read in high school but can't remember because high school was a really long time ago.) ..."

Posting about Pride & Prejudice reminds me that this was one of the few books i actually read in high school. I'm here to tell you i seldom actually read the assigned books. ANYway, i had to give an oral report on it & was duly chastised. First of all, i thought it was about the US, so presumed it was during our Civil War. Worse Sin, according to my teacher, was that i said it was a bad, confusing book. She told me to never say that about a book because it might just be someone else's favorite. Of course i fully agree with her now. AND i've reread that particular book no less than three times! In addition, both my daughter & husband read it because i liked it so much. LOL!

John, thanks for mentioning the Claire-Louise Bennett book. It sounds great to me.


message 30: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9291 comments I thought i'd put my list of books read this month in a different post from my commentaries on other's reading. Lisa Ann, thanks for the good wishes on completing the book i was reading. I did, indeed, finish it, staying up long hours to do so because it was a good story.

NONFICTION--
The Hot Zone: The Terrifying True Story of the Origins of the Ebola Virus by Richard Preston, read with this group. Fast paced, informative but still a bit disappointing. Glad i read it, as i now have a bit of foundation on which to read the latest virus info.

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance. I've written about it on this board but my opinion hasn't changed. I think much of what he wrote in the book holds true for many poverty-ridden families, parts of the country and individuals. In the sense that it has been highly praised, i was disappointed.

FICTION--
Designated Daughters by Margaret Maron is part of a long series of mysteries set in North Carolina. It is holds warm tales of a huge family, as well at least one murder per book. This one was good in that it discussed sisters and such.

Lila by Marilynne Robinson is the final installment of a trilogy, primarily set in Gilead, Iowa. The first is by far the best and this is in second place, imo. (Middle is Home.) There is much about spirituality, religion and the way they play roles in lives, whether directly or not. In this one we learn about Lila, who as a child is removed from her uncaring family, who seem to let her grow up in bars & such.

To The Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey is based on records of the first US exploration into Alaska, via the Wolverine River in 1885. Mostly an epistolary novel, it covers not only the travels but also the wife left behind, who finds cameras fascinating, as well as contemporary correspondence between the family member who owned artifacts of the expedition and a museum worker. Ivey's previous novel The Snow Child was Pulitzer worthy. Both incorporate myths in realistic settings, subtly asking the reader to decide if the state itself, the weather or their personal makeup are the reasons they witness things/events. In this novel, unlike the first, one character (the 21st century guy) addresses this. Good book.


message 31: by [deleted user] (new)

Petra- The Light Years sounds like a good historical fiction series. I noticed it was included on a list of Downton Abbey-esque books. :-)

Amy- The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride sounds like it might be a worthwhile read if the writing was as good as within The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. You sure fit in a lot of books this month.

John- You found some ecclectic books to tackle. How To Be a Heroine sounds as though it needs a "reading list" in the preface (if there is one).

Deb- You had a good reading month too. I struggled with The Snow Child and didn't care for some of the magical realism. That scared me off from considering To The Bright Edge of the World.


message 32: by Samanta (new)

Samanta   (almacubana) | 189 comments @Amy and @madrano.....hahahaha, Pride & Prejudice is one of my favourite books. I've lost count of how many times I've read it.


message 33: by Amy (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments Emma wrote: "re: Publicly Shamed, I'm afraid for my kids already as they grow up. Maybe we can lock them in a digital free bubble? ;) ..."

It was really frightening to read about people who have lost their jobs and been demonized on the world stage -- literally-- because of something stupid they posted on Twitter without thinking. And about the mob mentality of the people who leap to pile onto the shamed person. The book really made me think.


message 34: by Amy (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments Lisa Ann ✿ wrote: "Amy- The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride sounds like it might be a worthwhile read if the writing was as good as within The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. You sure fit in a lot of books this month.
..."


I liked "The Indifferent Stars Above" a lot, but I would say it wasn't "quite" as good as "The Boys in the Boat." I just loved that one!

Re: a lot of books -- I commute on the train an hour each way every day, so that's 10 hours of reading time just in transit! Not even counting nights and weekends. :)


message 35: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 02, 2017 05:17PM) (new)

Amy wrote: " Lisa Ann ✿ wrote: "Amy- The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride sounds like it might be a worthwhile read if the writing was as good as within The Boys in the Boat:..."


Thanks for the explanation, Amy. Also, I am sorry about your long commute time but that is great you have an opportunity to read so many books. Far better than driving, I think, although I realize not everyone has access to a train or reliable public transportation for commuting.


message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

Amy wrote: "Emma wrote: "re: Publicly Shamed, I'm afraid for my kids already as they grow up. Maybe we can lock them in a digital free bubble? ;) ..."

It was really frightening to read about people who have l..."


Part of the reason I don't have a Twitter acoount and maybe shouldn't have a Facebook account either. That is worrisome, especially the mob mentality comment.


message 37: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16832 comments madrano wrote: "I thought i'd put my list of books read this month in a different post from my commentaries on other's reading. Lisa Ann, thanks for the good wishes on completing the book i was reading. I did, ind..."

Nice month, Deb.

Thanks for reading The Hot Zone with us.

I'm still going to take a look at Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance as I am already on the long list for it at my library. Also the fact that it's under 300 pages appeals to me. :)


message 38: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16832 comments Amy wrote: It was really frightening to read about people who have lost their jobs and been demonized on the world stage -- literally-- because of something stupid they posted on Twitter without thinking. And about the mob mentality of the people who leap to pile onto the shamed person. The book really made me think. ."

I don't post on Twitter but I have an account. I really haven't looked at it in a long time.

I recall from sociology class that there are many studies that show people will do things in a mob that they never would do on their own. I guess couple that with the sort of anonymous nature of social media and you can get a really ignorant rough crowd at times.


message 39: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9291 comments Lisa Ann ✿ wrote: "Deb- You had a good reading month too. I struggled with The Snow Child and didn't care for some of the magical realism. That scared me off from considering To The Bright Edge of the World..."

Lisa Ann, i'm with you on Snow Child. It was only because my aunt, who lived in Alaska for 25 or so years, recommended it that i stuck with it. Having now read what i consider the superior Bright Edge, i think (for me) magical realism needs a wider stage. Because Edge spanned many decades & a larger cast, it worked better.

Scary stuff about online bullying. The mob mentality combines with the fact users are basically unidentified, leading to a level of bullying that stuns most of us. Thanks for the comments, reading friends.


message 40: by [deleted user] (new)

madrano wrote: " Lisa Ann ✿ wrote: "Deb- You had a good reading month too. I struggled with The Snow Child and didn't care for some of the magical realism. That scared me off from considering To The Bright Edge of..."

Thanks, Deb. What you said makes sense. Maybe I will give To The Bright Edge a chance sometime then. I do really enjoy historical fiction, but the magical elements in the Snow Child were too weird for me.


message 41: by Mkfs (last edited Feb 05, 2017 12:01PM) (new)

Mkfs | 189 comments Jerusalem Delivered by Torquato Tasso. The old Italian romance about the siege of Jerusalem by Christian knights led by Godfrey. Entertaining, and a pretty impressive translation. Four stars.

The Illuminatus! Trilogy by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson. I read this something like 20 or 25 years ago, when I were an impressionable young lad. I was worried that it would fall apart under scrutiny, but quite enjoyed reading it again. It's not quite science fiction, as advertised, nor is it really satire. More like an anarchist novel that doesn't take itself too seriously. I'd thought that Sewer, Gas and Electric: The Public Works Trilogy was a blatant rip-off of Illuminatus!, but now it seems like more of a homage. Five stars for the Atlas Shrugged lampoon alone.

Galileo: A Play by Bertolt Brecht. Gaileo caves before the Inquisition and recants his teachings. I really had thought Brecht would have more to say about this, given his appearance before the HUAC. A mildly disappointed three stars.


message 42: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16832 comments Mkfs wrote: "Jerusalem Delivered by Torquato Tasso. The old Italian romance about the siege of Jerusalem by Christian knights led by Godfrey. Entertaining, and a pretty impressive translation. Fou..."

Thanks for sharing, Mkfs ! Nice month.


message 43: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9291 comments Mkfs wrote: "More like an anarchist novel that doesn't take itself too seriously..."

Sounds like my sort of series!


message 44: by Francesca M (new)

Francesca M | 129 comments I finished The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa last night. I am not sure how to feel about it, definitely its not an easy read. There are some remarkable entries but in places I felt really difficult to keep focused on the writing. I would discourage anyone with a bit of a down moment in life to read it, as it is probably the most depressing and introspective book I ever read, and I have gone through quite a few in the past years, well I guess the title just tells it all. Apart from that, it is beautifully written and deeply poetic so still worth giving it a go...just get ready for a storm of “disquiet" coming down on your head!!!!


message 45: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9291 comments I "met" Pessoa when i was part of AOL's Cappuccino Poetry chat group. What a character! That discussion led me to read more about him but apparently i didn't register that he wrote a book. Interesting, although i see it's quite long. Francesca, do you know if there is a biography about him? I wish i could recall the name of the poems we discussed.

Thanks for the title, Francesca.


message 46: by Francesca M (new)

Francesca M | 129 comments I am not aware of any biography about Pessoa Madrano, but if there is one I would love to read it, what a crazy guy! I guess the problem is that not all material related to him has been translated into English.

The book itself is not that long (250 pages), the edition I read didn’t come up in the selection, so I had to pick Penguin Classic. There might be some extremly long introduction in it I guess, it’s nearly double of the actual writing!


message 47: by Cateline (new)

Cateline | 109 comments I'm late, I'm late! :)

The Children's Home by Charles Lambert 4/5
The Children's Home

A terribly scarred and disfigured man, a grand secluded estate, furniture and carvings from all over the world are well described by Lambert, creating the centerpiece of our story. How was he so maimed? Where is this place? When is this place? And most of all, where are all the children coming from? All ages, both genders they simply arrive/appear on the estate. He and his housekeeper are the only inhabitants of the house and they care for the children unquestioningly. Mysterious wax figures are discovered, and a mission seems to be forming around the man. He is only told that he will know what to do when the time comes.

The reviews on GoodReads are quite mixed, and tend to be lesser rather than more. I can understand why, but was compelled to rate it as highly as I have because of the ambiance of the story, the mixture of tragedy, love given and received, and total weirdness truly swept me along. There is an air of magical realism about the story, not a genre I enjoy. But, somehow, this works for me. I would have appreciated a little more.....body to the ending, but it is what it is, and that's ok.

Interestingly, there is a small comparison for me to the book The Adventurers by Harold Robbin in that there is a past revolution apparently fueled by an Army that is now in disarray. That is part of my sympathy for the story, I believe.

Recommended, if you can stand open endings that don't explain everything.

The Greatest Knight by Thomas Asbridge. 4/5
The Greatest Knight: The Remarkable Life of William
Marshal, The Power Behind Five English Thrones


A wonderfully told true account of William the Marshall. Based on a manuscript/history from only a few years after his death in 1219, it manages to bring Marshall to life beautifully.

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson 4/5
The Kind Worth Killing

A twisted, twisty tale of the most appealing psychopath. When I began the story, I imagined one sort of twist, and happily I was wrong! There were several twists, very nicely done.

The Long Surrender by Burke Davis 5/5
The Long Surrender: The Collapse of the Confederacy & the Flight of Jefferson Davis

Burke Davis is one of the historians that is able to make history interesting, and tell it in a sometimes non-linear fashion that satisfies. This is the story of Confederate President Jefferson Davis's long journey to surrender, and his final acceptance of that fate. General Lee had already surrendered at Appomattox, it was obvious to all that the War was lost to the South. But Davis still had hopes of running a war from Texas or Mexico, and finally winning. This book is the story of his long journey, both physical and emotional to capture and acceptance. We learn of his cabinet members fates, his family and supporters as well.

The book talks about how the War was actually fought over States Rights, not slavery as purported by many. I can't put my finger on it atm, but there is a quote to the effect that with good Congressional debate the War could have been avoided all together. I've heard that before, and I believe it. Most of the men "in charge" really didn't want a war, they wanted peaceful resolution, but the hotheads took over. That's hotheads in both the North and the South.

A Death in Sweden by Kevin Wignall 4/5
A Death in Sweden

A spy at the end of his career, turned on by his superiors tries to find a way out through a final investigation. Cross and double-crosses abound.


message 48: by Alias Reader (last edited Feb 17, 2017 10:29PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16832 comments Cateline wrote: "I'm late, I'm late! :)."

Thank you for posting ! It's never to late to post your reads.

The Long Surrender by Burke Davis

Interesting take on the cause of the Civil War.

Wasn't the South defending the right of states to perpetuate slavery ? What other state right does the author claim they were fighting for ?

Here is an interesting article. It looks at primary sources to determine the reason for secession.

Every state in the Confederacy issued an “Article of Secession” declaring their break from the Union. This article shows the reason they stated at the time.
http://www.civilwar.org/education/his...

Here is another interesting article that shows that this is still being debated.
NPR
http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpol...

Wiki
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Origins...

https://www.nps.gov/fosu/learn/histor...


The Children's Home by Charles Lambert 4/5
Loved your review of this one. Sounds scary. I have a friend that I think would enjoy this book. I am going to pass the title on to her. Thanks !


message 49: by Cateline (last edited Feb 18, 2017 07:21AM) (new)

Cateline | 109 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Cateline wrote: "I'm late, I'm late! :)."

Thank you for posting ! It's never to late to post your reads.

The Long Surrender by Burke Davis

Interesting take on the cause of the Civil War.

Was..."


That is a deep pit, in which many a cordial relationship has perished. Too complex, to emotionally wrought.

Some great articles you've linked. I particularly like a quote from the wiki article....."Thus they were committed to values that could not logically be reconciled." That, possibly is the truest statement made by anyone, anywhere about the War.

Terrible things were done on both sides in the name of "freedom", "justice", and even "states rights".

There is no condoning some actions taken by either of the parties, imo.


message 50: by madrano (new)

madrano | 9291 comments Francesca M wrote: "I am not aware of any biography about Pessoa Madrano, but if there is one I would love to read it, what a crazy guy! I guess the problem is that not all material related to him has been translated ..."

You also mentioned in your post the Penguin Classic by Pessoa that you read. Long intros are such a chore for me. First of all, i am one who doesn't like spoilers, even in my nonfiction. Secondly, often they take the fun out of the reading itself. Usually i'll go back to read the intro (or whatever the publisher calls it) after i've completed the book but while it's still fresh in my head. This gives me an opportunity to see if i agree and/or to see what went right over my head. :-)


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