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2016-19 Activities & Challenges > PBT Decathlon—June Reporting

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message 1: by Nicole R (last edited Jun 01, 2018 06:56PM) (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7915 comments Please post reviews for books you read for the decathlon here and indicate which month's theme you are reading for. Also, don't forget to shelve your reads!

June: (5 points awarded) Pick any one of the past 10 years and think about why it was special to you. Read a book that somehow evokes that special time and share the specifics in your PBT review i.e. if you took a trip to Greece, pick a book set there. Be sure to tell us about the connection!

Previous Months Themes: (3 points awarded)

May: Read one book from the Man Booker shortlists for the past 10 years! (that is 2008-2017, for those bad at math). An easy to peruse list can be found on Wikipedia. Ah, Wikipedia:

April: Submit a list of 10 books that you are interested in reading and let the randomizer pick for you! Most of you have your books, but if you don't yet, then post your list below and I will let you know which is the lucky book!

March: read all three tags that were vote options this month (family drama, art, sexuality). Note that the tag combination corresponds to the month you read for the challenge, not the March tags! One book can count for all three, you can read three separate books, or any combination in between!

IMPORTANT FOR MARCH DECATHLON CHALLENGE: Please DO NOT report for this challenge until you have read books for all three of the tags. If you read more than one book to complete the Decathlon challenge, then please put all of the book reviews including which tag they fit in a single post! That will help me immensely!

February: read any one of the ten books listed on your Goodreads TBR that have been there the longest.

January: read something that is a tribute to our retiring administrator, Linda (Ladyslott).

Want more info on the challenge? Check out our announcement and discussion thread.

Want to double check my math? Check out the scoring spreadsheet. If you see an error, please send me a PM with the month that I am missing your score and the message number in that thread. Thanks!

message 2: by Nicole (last edited Jun 05, 2018 09:55AM) (new)

Nicole | 470 comments Febuary: Earliest 10

The Art of War by Sun Tzu
3 Stars.

I originally picked this book from the February decathlon because it also fit the monthly tag: Asia. Four months later and I've finally finished it.

The time it took me to read this book is in no way a knock on the book itself; its not a reflection of disinterest or bad writing, simply a reflection on the depth of the thoughts disclosed. If you read it for a thorough understanding of the concepts described, its a much longer read than its <100 pages implies. I read this, highlighter and pencil in hand, while my husband worked on his Calculus homework.

Overall, the book was very interesting and a learning experience, I'm glad I took the time to read it. (Its also one of my father's favorite books.) It was still only a three star read for me though. Given its a book published in the 5th century BC by a Chinese military strategist, I would say that's not bad.

message 3: by Jamie (new)

Jamie Zaccaria | 220 comments June : So my choice wasn't one specific year from the past decade but rather the personal journey I've been through in regards to comming to terms with my sexuality and coming out. It didn't happen over just one year but over the past decade, step by step.

If that still counts, then I can connect with Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit that I read this month for magical realism because it to is about a girl coming to terms with being LGBT. Luckily for me, my family and friends were supportive and not awful people like in the book but I still understand the internal struggle of coming out.

message 4: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7915 comments Jamie wrote: " June : So my choice wasn't one specific year from the past decade but rather the personal journey I've been through in regards to comming to terms with my sexuality and coming out. It didn't happe..."

I think that sounds like the perfect book to represent your last decade! And I am so glad that you have had a supportive family; you hear way too many stories of situations where that is not the case.

message 5: by Barbara M (new)

Barbara M (barbara-m) | 2329 comments June:
Alice's Tulips - I retired in 2010 and took up Quilting. It is my favorite thing to do. My sewing room is my happy place. I've enjoyed Sandra Dallas's books because I love history too and she combines her wonderful stories of American's (mostly pioneer) history with quilting. see my review here:

message 6: by annapi (last edited Jun 06, 2018 04:13PM) (new)

annapi | 5235 comments June: In July 2011 my mother's family had a long-awaited family reunion in Chula Vista, California. All of the five siblings were represented, even though not everyone could make it, and it certainly was the most complete get-together we have ever had. People came from the Philippines, Canada and Florida. The main part of the reunion lasted a weekend, and we had games, a golf putting contest, a karaoke/talent/dance show, and tear-jerking story-telling time. We also went to Legoland and had lots and lots of great food. And to mark the occasion we created a 42-page photobook that not only had pictures, but the family history and directory.

The book I chose:
Family Reunion by Caroline B. Cooney
My review is here

message 7: by evsbooks (new)

evsbooks | 17 comments June:
The Snow Queen is a fairytale set in Lapland. In 2010 I took a trip to Lapland and it was amazing, I will definitely go back one day. If you enjoy fairytales it is a great one but sometimes feels long to read. I enjoyed it though and it definitely envoked memories of the cold and fun times with reindeers etc that I had over there.

message 8: by Jeremiah (new)

Jeremiah Cunningham | 717 comments May: The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma

Told by nine-year-old Benjamin, the youngest of four brothers, THE FISHERMEN is the Cain and Abel-esque story of a childhood in Nigeria, in the small town of Akure. When their father has to travel to a distant city for work, the brothers take advantage of his absence to skip school and go fishing. At the forbidden nearby river, they meet a madman who persuades the oldest of the boys that he is destined to be killed by one of his siblings. What happens next is an almost mythic event whose impact-both tragic and redemptive-will transcend the lives and imaginations of the book's characters and readers.

This is easily one of the best pieces of fiction I have read in many years. The novel is dense, filled with figurative language, quality character development, and well crafted plot development, and as such it reads slower but is well worth the time and effort to read.

As the book jacket summary states, this is a Cain and Abel type story but it is so much more than that even in the area of biblical allusion. It is a story of what happens when moral leadership is removed, of what happens when hope gives way to despair, and possibly most importantly it is a story of redemption. This novel is truly in the vein of great novels when it comes to the use of biblical allusion.

The book is also timely as it deals with issues of mental health and how we treat and handle those with mental health problems as a society. While one of the primary characters clearly has mental health struggles, that cause strife for the narrator's family, their treatment and handling of the one with mental health struggles also raises issues of morality and character that cannot be ignored.

Lovers of classically written high-quality fiction should add this book to their shelves, but this book should also be making it into the list of literature taught in senior level classrooms across the country.

message 9: by Charlotte (new)

Charlotte | 1700 comments June: I was born and mostly raised in Florida, so was my husband and most of my family. I moved to the state of Washington only recently in 2015, so just about every special event of the last decade, both good and bad, has happened in FL. I met my husband 10 years ago in July in a running store in Jacksonville. He and I eloped Nov 2013 on a beach near St. Pete Beach at sunset. There are so many other events that I thought about picking, but again, the main common theme is the location... Florida.

I felt the obvious choice was Florida by Lauren Groff. I decided to give the book 3.5 stars. It was a group of short stories that were either set in Florida or one of the characters had a tie to Florida.

I enjoyed Lauren Groff's writing and most of the stories. Her allusion and prose was almost poetic. In several of the stories I could almost smell my old home state. I struggled on several stories because she got things about Florida wrong. You could tell from wording or what she called things that although she lives in Florida, she is not a Floridian. I tried not to get offended in other parts of the book... everyone is entitled to their opinion.

I think what frustrated me the most was the story about a graduate student that was homeless and during a part where she was remembering someone she mentions, "...Eugene's hungry spirits massing up from the prairie, the Crackers with their whips, the malarial conquistadores on their little ponies..." and I'm having a hard time with how she refers to Crackers here and in other parts of the stories. I'm trying not to jump to conclusion about what she means, but whether it is the stereotype of a southern landowner that time or someone that owns horses... Florida Crackers were poor and rarely owned slaves or much of anything. Most of them were not Spanish. The Crackers from the area that the author lives in come from Germany and settled in S. Georgia/N. Florida in the late 1600s... this is where my ancestors come from. (I'm 6th generation Floridian and my family is part of the settlers that settled the area that the author now lives). She mentions my alma mater in several stories even stating that the character, "...had been stuck at UF...", even though it is one of the top Universities in Florida and one of the top 20 in the US. University of Florida is 90 min from my home town but I did not feel "stuck" there, I felt honored to be at the Univ. my dad graduated from and I still get goosebumps when I walk across campus.

Overall, good writing... sad and dark stories. Florida basically a character in each story with it's wildlife or weather. I struggled on the last story as it seemed to go on forever. I'm sure others would rate this book higher, I just couldn't get past the disdain that she has for my home state.

message 10: by Lyn (new)

Lyn (lynm) | 427 comments February - one of the 10 books on my TBR list the longest

The River Between by Ngugi Wa Thiong'o
4 stars

This a very good book about the rift in a tribe when Christian missionaries were invading Africa.
Some of the tribe embrace the new Christian ways completely, while others stand firmly with traditional tribal culture. One young visionary leader believes education is key and works to begin schools to offer students an option other than the mission school. A former follower of the Christian ways who has returned to the tribal traditions wants to be the leader and spreads rumors about the young leader to weaken his standing. Then there is the "forbidden" love between the young leader and the daughter of the tribal missionary leader/preacher. She struggles with following her heart and obedience to her father.
The book is beautifully written (and translated), I enjoyed it.

message 11: by Linda C (new)

Linda C (libladynylindac) | 1199 comments May: Read one book from the Man Booker shortlists for the past 10 years! (that is 2008-2017)

A Fraction of the Whole – Steve Toltz (3 stars) 6/10/18 - 2008 shortlist

I can't rave about this as some have and I can't completely diss it either. I found the story of these characters lives ridiculous, horrific, funny and sad. There was a definite need to find out how it all would end that kept me going. But the philosophical diatribes expounded by every(!) character was unsupportable. Couldn't anyone have a normal conversation? I'll leave it at that.

message 12: by Jeremiah (new)

Jeremiah Cunningham | 717 comments June:So I am doing as some others have done and not choosing one year, but rather a continuing theme over the entire ten years. On June 21st of this year my wife and I will have been married for 15 years. When I joined PBT back in 2008, when it was still on Shelfari, we had one kid that was 2 1/2 and one that had just been born in August of 2007. Throughout my time on PBT, I have had many experiences about how marriage develops, how raising kids influences marriages, and how the way we see life changes as we grow in our marriage. Importantly, I have had many opportunities to learn just how important paying attention really is inside of a marriage. One can do many things for their spouse, but no gift is as important as paying attention to them.

With that said, the themes within Dept. of Speculation resonated with me at this juncture of my life and so I am choosing it to fulfill the June decathlon challenge. My review is below.

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill
4 out of 5 Stars

Dept. of Speculation is a portrait of a marriage. It is also a beguiling rumination on the mysteries of intimacy, trust, faith, knowledge, and the condition of universal shipwreck that unites us all.

The Positives of Dept. of Speculation
There were two primary positives for me with this book. The first was the open ended nature of the writing. Offill never provides names for the characters. Throughout the entire book they are "the wife" or "the husband" and on top of not providing names there is very little physical description of the characters. Their personalities are somewhat developed, but the open ended nature of not giving them a physical description nor a name really allows the reader to fill in the gaps in their own mind. That is generally the approach Offill takes to the entire book. The writing provides a good story, but leaves plenty of space for the reader to apply their own experiences and come away with their own unique interpretation.

The second positive with this book was the use of particular tropes throughout the book. My favorite was Offill's "Theater of Hurt Feelings". Anyone who has been married or in a long term relationship, whether romantic or platonic, has experienced this aspect of being human. When we enter that place everything is just a bit more over-the-top then it probably is the rest of our lives. The use of this imagery was truly enjoyable.

The Negatives of Dept. of Speculation
The aspect I struggled with the most was the form of the writing. When I began the book it felt like I was reading a collection of poems. Then a few chapters/poems into the story I realized that the chapters/poems were connected as a continuing story. Then somewhere along the way the book transitioned from poetry to more prose and I began to think of the chapters/poems as chapters. In reality, I am not sure that the divisions of the book are really chapters, poems, or anything else. I never really could decide what the structure of the writing was and I did not enjoy this aspect as much.

message 13: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7915 comments Y'all, my favorite part of the June decathlon is not the reviews (though they are good) but hearing the year/events that you each feel have defined the last decade.

I have known so many of you for so long that I smile remembering when you graduated school, got married, had a kid, or took that trip of a lifetime.

Others I am just getting to know and I love getting to know you better.

I want to comment on each of your experiences, and I plan on doing so by the end of the month. In the meantime, keep them coming!

message 14: by Jason (last edited Jun 14, 2018 07:09PM) (new)

Jason Oliver | 2112 comments June: Pick any one of the past 10 years and think about why it was special to you. Read a book that somehow evokes that special time and share the specifics in your PBT review

Neither Snow nor Rain: A History of the United States Postal Service - Devin Leonard - 3 stars


message 15: by Jeremiah (new)

Jeremiah Cunningham | 717 comments I am a bit confused. Shouldn't the March makeup this month include magical realism and the other choices for June not family drama? Maybe I am missing something.

message 16: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6618 comments J.W. wrote: "I am a bit confused. Shouldn't the March makeup this month include magical realism and the other choices for June not family drama? Maybe I am missing something."

The Decathalon challenge is different from the monthly tags.

message 17: by LibraryCin (last edited Jun 15, 2018 05:47PM) (new)

LibraryCin | 9433 comments Book Concierge wrote: "J.W. wrote: "I am a bit confused. Shouldn't the March makeup this month include magical realism and the other choices for June not family drama? Maybe I am missing something."
The Decathalon challenge is different from the monthly tags.The Decathalon chall..."

But one month was to read something that fit all three tags. If I'm remembering correctly, that meant all three tags of the month the book is/was read in.

message 18: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7915 comments It is correct that if you are reading for the March Decathlon challenge, but reading it in June, then you should read for all three of the tags that were options in June.

Did I forget to change something over when I posted this thread? The three tags are fairy tales, anthology, and magical realism.

Actually, if you are behind on the March tag, this may be a good month to catch up! I bet you could find a single book to fit all three of those pretty easily!

message 19: by Elise (new)

Elise (ellinou) June: A book related to a significant event from the past 10 years.

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things

This isn't so much about a specific moment as about a period from a couple of years ago. I'd been having some pretty intense anxiety for a few years, and then a series of events (moving out from my parents' for the first time ever, work-related stress, catching pneumonia, falling twice because of my disability, one of those times leading me to spending a few hours in the ER and getting stitches in my lip...) bringing me quite close to a full-on depression. Luckily I was already seeing someone at the time, who encouraged me to look for chemical help, so I got prescribed anti-depressants. Those were NOT AT ALL fun to start, I got all the side-effects for the first few weeks ("you might have a bit of nausea," said my doctor; my first morning on the meds started with a bout of projectile-vomiting...), but this was a textbook definition of "it gets worse before it gets better" (seriously one of the side effects is "increased anxiety", how is that helpful?!) and I've been doing much better since I started taking these meds. I have to remind myself periodically to ignore the stigma around mental illness and that I should not be embarrassed to say I suffer from anxiety and take medication for it.

So for this challenge I decided to read a book written by someone who knows about these issues.

My review.

message 20: by Rachel N. (new)

Rachel N. | 1691 comments June: a book related to a significant event from the past 10 years

The best event that happened to me in the past ten years was getting engaged to the second great man I've had in my life. I looked at the marriage and relationship tags and this book was high on both and we already owned it but neither one of us had actually read it.

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts by Gary Chapman 3 stars

Chapman discusses the five ways he has found that people express love and how each person has a primary love language. He stresses that spouses often do not have the same love language and this lack of speaking the other persons language leads to much discord in relationships. I found the main points of the book interesting and useful. The author does have a very outdated opinion of women and sex and he is Christian and Christian teachings are prevalent in the later chapters of the book. I am going to try to get my fiance to at least take the quiz to determine your primary love language because I'm not sure what his is.

message 21: by Cora (new)

Cora (corareading) | 1552 comments June: A book related to a significant event from the past 10 years.

When I look back at the last 10 years the thing that seems to dominate was my kids education. My oldest son is 16 and in the past ten years has traveled through elementary school and middle school and started high school. My daughter (13) is currently in middle school and my youngest son (10) is going to start his last year of elementary school in the fall. When my daughter was in elementary school she went through some girl clique drama and I bought Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence to help me find a way to help her navigate it. However, I never actually got around to reading it at the time. Luckily, once she got to middle school things got a lot easier. She made some great friends and thing have been drama-free. For this month I decided to finally read the book I bought years ago because who knows what high school will bring for her or the boys.

Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence by Rosalind Wiseman

3 stars

In Queen Bees and Wannabes, the author investigates girl cliques throughout adolescence. He identifies the different roles girls play in cliques and helps parents find ways to help their daughters navigate them and stand up for themselves. She also devotes chapters on sex, drugs, and alcohol in the high school years. I found parts of the book more helpful than others. There are times when the author makes it seems like all girls have these problems and if you don't agree with that you are in denial or naive. This bothered me a bit because it was nothing like my experience growing up (for me or my close friends). I knew cliques existed. I know there were people that partied and obsessed over boys, but that was far from the only path girls and boys traveled at my school. I don't think that I was an anomaly. I think this book does offer helpful suggestions for girls and their parents that are experiencing problems with these issues, but some of the assertions seemed outdated or based on anecdotal evidence rather than real data. For example, there was a bit about how youtube was a problem because girls could see music videos on the platform and that this will influence how girls view how they should look and act. I agree popular culture can have a negative effect on girls and that youtube can be a problem, but my experience has been that music videos are the least of the issue on the platform. In fact, I don't think any of my kids or their friends have an interest in music videos they way we did when I was in school. The same goes for fashion magazines. Although fashion blogs and online information can be a problem, I don't think my daughter or any of her friends would even consider buying a paper magazine. In short, this had helpful information that parents should read and be aware of, I just wish that it didn't have a tone of all girls react this way, do these things. A lot of kids do, but there are also those that don't.

message 22: by Kszr (new)

Kszr | 172 comments June: A book related to a significant event from the past 10 years.

I never had a pet, besides goldfish, until I got married. I married a man who was totally devoted to his 2 cats, which I was allergic to. We agreed that since they were 8 years old, we would keep them and then be a pet free family. 5 years of immuno-therapy, daily doses of allegra, advair and the more than occasional hit of ibuterol, and the cats were still going strong. We lost Amanda at the age of 18, and Jessica was a faithful companion for 21 years.
That was 2013.

My husband and children went into mourning, but also started a subtle war of hints. Finally, in the spring of 2014 I was persuaded to go to a shelter, on the context of donating the litter and food we had left, and take a peak at the kittens. There my husband fell in love with Pistol Annie. Within minutes of me touching her, however, I began to wheeze. That was when my husband's dream of adding to his cat history ended. That was also the day he determined to convince me to get an "allergy free" dog.

Marley and Me by John Grogan. 5 stars

Two newlyweds start their life together, kill a plant and then decide to adopt a dog to practice before having kids. They fall in love with a yellow lab, whom they named Marley. Marley stories from puppy-hood through adulthood, and all the changes that that family went through over that time, are chronicled in honest and loving detail, including the story when the dog was so terrified of thunder that he ripped apart a door to get in from the garage, through plaster and all. Not sugar coated, but told with love.
As most pet stories end, they are gone well before we are ready. This tribute to the dog, what he taught and what he took, reminds us all of the undying love and devotion, selflessness, and fun they play in shaping our lives.

message 23: by Amy (new)

Amy | 9890 comments I love all these real life meaningful connections. The last two entries really touched me.

message 24: by Ellen (new)

Ellen | 2462 comments June
Trains and Lovers - Alexander McCall Smith
4 stars

On a train from Edinburgh to London, 4 strangers strike up a conversation to pass the time. The topic they choose is love and each of the 4 has a story to tell. Andrew recounts how he fell in love with Hermoine, a fellow intern at an art auction house. He found an anomaly in an old painting that kept the auction house quite an embarrassment. Although Hermoine's rich father did not approve of Andrew, she stood by her boyfriend as he would soon stand by her during a scandalous discovery about her father.
Hugh tells of how he fell for Jenny when he inadvertently exited his train at the wrong station. She was standing on the deserted platform and as the next train was not due for several hours, he impulsively asked her to dinner. They begin a long-distance romance, seeing each other whenever possible. On a trip to Paris they encounter an old flame of Jenny's who plants serious seeds of doubt in Hugh's mind about Jenny's true identity and possible danger.
David reminisces of being a young boy with a strong attraction to another youth, Bruce. Although he never spoke of his love for his friend, David nonetheless keeps Bruce in his heart even now, decades later and they have both married and have children.
Kay's story is of her parents in the Australian outback where her father ran his own siding and her mother sold home-made scones and grew beautiful flowers. She has fond memories of their family, isolated though they were, and admires the strong love her parents shared.
The central theme is summed up in the last sentence; "Loving others is the good thing we do in our lives. This is a charming little novel, all centered around trains in some way.
I chose this for the decathlon challenge as my husband and I have taken 2 train trips in the last 10 years from San Antonio, Texas, to Washington DC. Although none of the conversations we had with strangers centered around love we did meet some terrific people and had a great time. I guess love is involved in a way since the first trip was to our youngest daughter's wedding and the second was to meet our baby granddaughter 3 years later.

message 25: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 9433 comments Kszr wrote: "I never had a pet, besides goldfish, until I got married. I married a man who was totally devoted to his 2 cats, which I was al..."

Wow! I'm so sorry about the severe allergies. Good for you for toughing it out for 13 years! 21 years old... that's unexpected. Not many cats live that long!

message 26: by Joni (new)

Joni | 625 comments June: Pick any one of the past 10 years and think about why it was special to you.

Carpenter: A Story about the Greatest Success Strategies of All

Small business owner, Michael, wakes up in a hospital to his worried wife by his side. He finds out that he passed out while out on his daily run. The gentleman who assisted him only leaves a business card with the word "Carpenter" and a phone number. Michael tracks this gentleman down and learned that he is more than a carpenter.....he is a craftsman.

J. Emmanuel is a craftsman of not only fine furniture but also of people's lives. During Michael's "rest" period from his recent accident, he commissions J. Emmanuel to build him an entertainment center but more importantly Michael receives the best advice of all....when it comes to saving his small business that he owns with his wife.

J. Emmanuel works and mentors on three principles: Love, Serve, and Care.

Love: Never do anything out of obligation, do everything with gratitude and love.

Serve: The One with the Servant's Heart is the Leader.

Care: Caring leads to Success. Care about the work you do.

4 years ago, my husband and I went into business for ourselves. The principles taught in this book are the principles we live, work and serve by each day. We teach and reach with a servant's heart. Our rewards are abundant based on what we give to others each day.

Jon Gordon is a wonderful story teller and writes wonderful books that are easy to apply to your daily life...either personal or professional.

message 27: by Kszr (new)

Kszr | 172 comments LibraryCin wrote: "Kszr wrote: "I never had a pet, besides goldfish, until I got married. I married a man who was totally devoted to his 2 cats, which I was al..."

Wow! I'm so sorry about the severe allergies. Good ..."

We always joked that she would outlast me! Honestly, I have to give all the credit to my husband - he took such wonderful care of these cats.

message 28: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 9433 comments Kszr wrote: "We always joked that she would outlast me! Honestly, I have to give all the credit to my husband - he took such wonderful care of these cats. ..."


message 29: by Susie (last edited Jun 17, 2018 09:09PM) (new)

Susie June

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey
2 stars

Meh. That's how I felt about this book. It is told from the perspective of an 82-year-old woman, Maud, who is suffering from dementia and obsesses over her friend Elizabeth who she believes to be missing. The story jumps back to memories of her childhood when her sister disappeared. At the beginning of the story Maud lives alone, with carers coming to look after her throughout the day, including her daughter and granddaughter. Her dementia worsens as the book progresses and we are given insight in to the thought processes of someone suffering from extreme memory loss.

The front cover of the copy that I read said 'Outstanding.'. Nope. 'Unforgettable'. Nope, and I hope it wasn't meant to be a pun. 'Very good indeed'. Not really. 'Will stir and shake you'. That it did not. 'Thrillingly assured, haunting, unsettling.'. They obviously haven't read Cormac McCarthy if they think this was any of those things. And finally, 'Gripping, haunting'. I did find myself gripping the ereader to keep from dropping it as I fell asleep from boredom, but the story itself? No.

I shall try to unpack my feelings about this book. Both of my parents suffer from dementia, my father from Alzheimer's and my mother from vascular dementia. In terms of the accuracy of the portrayal of a dementia sufferer, I think Healey did a really good job. If felt authentic to me, and I know dementia very well. I found her ability to convey the difficulties and frustrations for the carers to be true to life too. Healey was able to hone in on the need for patience and compassion, and for that I thank her as it can be easy to forget that if it is hard for us as family members, imagine how hard it is for the person suffering from dementia.

BUT. The book was repetitive. I felt as though she spent the bulk of the novel hammering home the thoughts of Maud, without much finesse or intricacy. I understand the amount of research that must have gone in to the writing of this novel, but the plot itself was VERY light on. The book is touted as a mystery but I could tell what was going to happen very early on. I was ultimately left feeling bored and frustrated. Had I not chosen to read this as my Decathalon book I probably would have set it free before finishing. I do wonder if my interest was lessened by the fact that this is something I live and breathe on a daily basis, as others seem to have enjoyed it way more than I.

Regarding my choice to read this as my June Decathalon book, I have had many significant life events occur in the past decade, some wonderful and some not so. My children were born, in fact my eldest child was born ten years ago this Saturday. I made the decision to be a stay at home mother until they went to school. My youngest child was diagnosed with and Autism Spectrum Disorder. I celebrated my ten year wedding anniversary.

I initially was going to choose motherhood as my topic but funnily enough my mother recommended this book to me many years ago when she read it herself in 2014, before her memory issues became apparent. It seemed like the right book to choose, as the decline in my parents' health has been so life changing for me, particularly in the past twelve months as my father had a stroke and both of them moved in to aged care. I hope to read another book that does the topic more justice that I feel Elizabeth is Missing has done. To date Still Alice has touched me more than any other.

message 30: by annapi (new)

annapi | 5235 comments Kszr wrote: "That was also the day he determined to convince me to get an "allergy free" dog. "

I can totally relate to your problems with cats - I have gone to the ER twice because of cat-induced asthma breathing problems. But I wanted to ask, did you get a dog and if so, how did that turn out? We've always had dogs, and although the allergy testing I did long ago determined that I am allergic to all manner of animals, including dogs, only cats give me medical problems and I am fine with dogs.

message 31: by Kszr (new)

Kszr | 172 comments annapi wrote: "Kszr wrote: "That was also the day he determined to convince me to get an "allergy free" dog. "

I can totally relate to your problems with cats - I have gone to the ER twice because of cat-induced..."

All manner of animals get to me, with documented problems with certain dogs. We ended up with a Goldendoodle, and this is working for me. With these, however, you need to be careful about what level of breeding it is. If you want more information, message me and I will give you what we learned....

Mindy aka serenity | 120 comments June: The memory I chose was when Ben and I visited England together in 2016. It was a magical trip and we had so much fun. I also chose it because in a matter of days I will be returning to England, solo, to do research and present at a conference. So I read a travel book about England.

The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain by Bill Bryson. 4 stars
This book is a kind-of sequel to Bryson's Notes from a Small Island, which he wrote in the nineties. I loved that book, and reading about England, so I picked up his new one, published last year. Bryson is older now but still really loves the English countryside. His love of England is infused throughout his writing. His tales of sweeping hills, quickly, beautiful towns, and gorgeous Lake Country make me want to drop everything and get there right now. He is also funny in his observations of the quirks of British culture, which makes me laugh. He has gotten a little more cranky in this volume, and frequently described insulting comments he made to people "in the secret room in [his] brain." I just thought those were more distracting than funny, so I didn't enjoy those too much. But on the whole it is a lovely book, full of adoration for a country I also love. I can't wait to go back.

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Amy | 9890 comments Kszr - We have a Labra doodle that is the light of our lives. Our commonalities continue. Lots of water for today

message 34: by Kszr (new)

Kszr | 172 comments Amy wrote: "Kszr - We have a Labra doodle that is the light of our lives. Our commonalities continue. Lots of water for today"

And I started the book!

message 35: by Amy (new)

Amy | 9890 comments My June Decathlon Book - The Seven Principles of Making Marriage Work by John Gottman - 5 stars.

This is not just a book for professionals, its for anyone who wants to make their marriage stronger. Its easy to use, and easy to buy into. John and Julie Gottman have spent over 40 years researching, writing about, and working with couples, and they are the hallmark of what they do - creating marriages that last and sustain. I am teaching the Gottman Method tomorrow, and I enjoyed this read and learned a lot. But this is one of those books a person grows with, just because.

This is also my June Decathlon Pick - I have been married for 22 years this September, and the last decade has been all about this partnership and my family. Adding in the teaching doesn't hurt either. Even if that new feature was just in the last month of the last decade, its been a life dream to teach on the graduate level, so that is pretty cool. I am teaching ten weeks of couples counseling and am loving it. Within a couple of weeks I happen to be teaching on neurodiversity and emotional intelligence in couples. So who knows - this course might help me meet another challenge too...

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Kelly | 870 comments June -Pick a book from that has significance to you in the last 10 years.

All the Dancing Birds by Auburn McCanta

All the Dancing Birds by Auburn McCanta

3 stars

This is a story of Lillie Claire Glidden. She has Alzheimer's disease and the book follows her as she starts to realize something is wrong and as it advances. At first she is able to hide her symptoms, but when her children notice they take her to a doctor where she is diagnosed. It is told from Lillie Claire's view and since my mother had dementia it was interesting to see so many of the similarities between Lillie Claire and my own mom. Lillie Claire has good days and bad days, she forgets people's names, she cannot communicate what she is thinking, children take over the parent role and the decline is hard to watch by those close to the person.

The author described it as clouds shifting in as Lillie Claire first struggled, and she is glad her family does not know exactly how difficult things are for her. One of the ways the author gives background information about Lillie Claire is through letters she has written for her son and daughter. It is an interesting method since she reaches a stage where she is no longer able to communicate it herself.

The book showed a realistic portrayal of Alzheimer's disease and how families are affected. You see different reactions. It was a moving novel and relevant to many people.

message 37: by Cheryl (last edited Jun 21, 2018 03:43PM) (new)

Cheryl  (cherylllr) June: Early Del Rey is an example of one of the paths of 'personal growth' that I've been taking since I joined GoodReads eight years ago. I've become a very much more thoughtful reader, and have learned a lot about what kinds of books I like, and about me and *why* I like some and not others.

These past few months I've been going through my dtbs carefully, but ruthlessly. There are many that I thought I'd never part with, but have done so. This is one of my big hardcover collections, one of the ones that I've reread several times over the decades and have enjoyed differently each time. One that I actually bought twice, as a copy did get lost once.

And now, with this summer's read, I've realized that the only value it really has for me anymore is nostalgia. I don't need to hoard dated pulp anymore. I'll be adopting e-books soon and most of these are avl. online if I need them, but there are so many newer better books avl. from the digital branches of my libraries that I can let these go. :sigh:

So, as to the collection itself. It's not bad, but it really is dated. Entertaining if you like SF from the 40s or thereabouts, but even the author admits that he wrote because he had a knack and it was pretty easy money.

message 38: by Sushicat (last edited Jun 23, 2018 08:40AM) (new)

Sushicat | 805 comments June: a book related to a significant event from the past 10 years

Just about ten years ago I took the trip of a lifetime and spent three weeks in Alaska, hiking, bush whacking, rafting, enjoying the wilderness. I was hooked and have since made a number of trips up north, to the Yukon or Lapland. So here's to Alaska:

Raven Stole the Moon by Garth Stein - 3.4 stars

Two years ago, Jenna and Robert lost their son in a drowning accident in Alaska. Now Jenna drops everything and heads to Alaska to finally get a grasp on things. There she comes across the legend of the kushtaka, spirits that lure people in and trap their souls in a place between life and death. She finds herself pursued and connects to a shaman in her search for understanding.

I wanted to love this book more than I did - Alaska, Native American mythology... but somehow, though it had all the right ingredients, it kept a distance.

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Nicole | 470 comments June: 10 Year Memories

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
4-5 Stars (I can’t decide)

Last summer, I got married to my very dear husband. He’s a big reader just like I am and we enjoy suggesting books to each other. This is one he suggested to me ages ago and I never got around to reading (not due to continues reminders on his part). So I decided that this was the month! In celebration of our marriage and our mutual love of literature.

I’m so glad I did finally pick this up as I thoroughly enjoyed it. Harry August is born and reborn and reborn endlessly within the same body, within the same timeline. This is the story of his first fifteen lives. Someone is altering major historical events as they happen and, by doing so, speeding up the end of the world. Harry is inadvertently, and then quiet deliberately, thrown into the mess.

It’s hard not to directly relate this to Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. In my honest opinion, I thought this Claire did it better. Harry fully remember each of his lives, which I found much more interesting. There was also a much stronger story line, which a definite antagonist and conclusion. Call me a sucker for the basics, but I enjoy that in a book.

I would highly suggest it to anyone looking for a light, fun read.

message 40: by Jenny (last edited Jun 23, 2018 02:08AM) (new)

Jenny (jennywilliams88) | 773 comments June - Zofloya - Charlotte Dacre - 3 stars

Year I chose: 2013

Reason: I graduated from the University of Southampton in this year with an MA in Eighteenth Century Studies.

Why this book? My dissertation was on 'Transgressive Villainesses in Ann Radcliffe's Novels' (in English: Female Baddies in the Novels of Ann Radcliffe!)

Ann Radcliffe was an eighteenth-century Gothic writer who influenced Jane Austen amongst others. My dissertation focused on Vathek, then on Ann's novels and then concluded with The Monk.

However, I was meant to write in my conclusion about Zofloya, however I ran out of time and so didn't get chance to read it.

Blurb: `Few venture as thou hast in the alarming paths of sin.' This is the final judgement of Satan on Victoria di Loredani, the heroine of Zofloya, or The Moor (1806), a tale of lust, betrayal, and multiple murder set in Venice in the last days of the fifteenth century. The novel follows Victoria's progress from spoilt daughter of indulgent aristocrats, through a period of abuse and captivity, to a career of deepening criminality conducted under Satan's watchful eye. Charlotte Dacre's narrative deftly displays her heroine's movement from the vitalized position of Ann Radcliffe's heroines to a fully conscious commitment to vice that goes beyond that of `Monk' Lewis's deluded Ambrosio. The novel's most daring aspect is its anatomy of Victoria's intense sexual attraction to her Moorish servant Zofloya that transgresses taboos both of class and race.

Review: This isn't the best eighteenth century Gothic novel I've read - that is a joint tie between The Italian and The Monk - but it would work well as a conclusion to a dissertation as I can see how it brings together all the conventions other writers brought to the genre. It is obvious to a reader of this sort of book who the leader of the banditti is though!

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Robin A June
The Hearts of Men I have not decided how to rate this book. If I base it on just the story line and that it held my interest and probably only book that has hit all my emotions I would say 4-4.5 for sure. However one of my emotions was anger and I didn't like how boy scout camp was portrayed. Being an active scout my I have never witnessed bulling, drinking, smoking etc. I also have never felt outed being a mom there as there have been times when moms out number dads. Even though I cried(which I tend to do) I did not really what happened in the end.

message 42: by Critterbee❇ (last edited Jun 23, 2018 12:26PM) (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 418 comments June: The Secret History of the Mongol Queens: How the Daughters of Genghis Khan Rescued His Empire by Jack Weatherford

Rating: ★★★★★

I studied Central Asian and Silk Road history at University, and visited Inner Mongolia and China at that time. Six years ago in spring, I visited Mongolia again. This time, I stayed for a month, and saw wild tahki horses, walked around Ulaanbaatar, visited the Gobi, and slept in buildings, gers and (once) a car. Everywhere there were references and monuments to the Mongol Empire, mainly Genghis Khan. So, for the June challenge, I read Secret History of the Mongol Queens by Jack Weatherford.

A lot has been written and recorded about the Mongol empire and the Khans, from the time that they began building power. One of the surviving contemporary histories is ‘The Secret History of the Mongols’. That history appears to objectively and thoroughly record the lives of Genghis Khan and his immediate family, ending with his petty, vindictive, sad sack of a son Ogedei.

As the author explains, the absence of information about the Mongol Queens (Khatuns) in that text is likely deliberate censorship to obscure the history and power of the queens. Luckily for those of us who are interested, because the Empire was huge and encountered so many other nations, there is documentation from other sources that consistently recount the same information about Genghis Khan’s daughters, daughters-in-law, granddaughters and further female descendants.

“Snippets of evidence concerning these royal women can still be found in the diplomatic reports of the Chinese court, letters to the Vatican, the elegant Muslim histories, royal Armenian chronicles, the memoirs of merchants such as Marco Polo, texts carved into the stones of Taoist and Confucian temples.”

and additionally

“...and in the rhymes of Chaucer, the arias of Puccini, Persian manuscript paintings and silken thangkas hanging in Tibetan Monasteries.”

Using these accounts, the author was able to research the Queens through these histories, and the result is powerful, brutal and fascinating.

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Linda C (libladynylindac) | 1199 comments June: Pick any one of the past 10 years and think about why it was special to you. Read a book that somehow evokes that special time and share the specifics in your PBT review

In 2014 my husband and I took our first trip to Europe. My favorite places to visit were the villages of France and Italy: the history, the food and the views. One area of particular interest was the flower fields of southern France. The book I read, The Alice Network takes place after WWII and alternates with action in WWI. However, on the quest for answers traveling around France they spend time in many villages. Charlie particularly is sentimental about Grasse, in the heart of the flower district. I can't wait to go back for another visit.

The Alice Network – Kate Quinn (5 stars) 6/23/18

Review: Charlie St. Clair is pregnant and being taken by her mother to Switzerland for an abortion in May of 1947. When the ship stops in Southampton she deserts her mother and heads to London to seek out a woman who may be her only hope in locating her cousin, Rose, who disappeared in 1944. Eve Gardiner, 54, a drunk with maimed hands, is not interested in helping until she hears there may be a connection to her supposedly deceased old nemesis Rene Bordelon. The two with Eve's driver, Finn, head to France to find the truth about both. The rest of the story alternates chapters between Eve and Charlie in 1915 and 1947. Eve was a spy in WWI, part of the Alice Network in France until its collapse. This was a great story. Both women are about the same age during the sections on their lives and each grows into her own identity. The Alice Network was real and there is an interesting afterward describing the history of the real characters. Highly recommended.

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KateNZ | 2821 comments May reporting - Booker Prize shortlist: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (5 stars)

Thomas Cromwell is usually portrayed as an archetypal villain - the man who rose from low birth to become Henry VIII’s right hand man, not caring who he had to dispose of along the way. In particular, he’s blamed for the martyrdom of Thomas More, who lost his head after failing to swear the oath supporting Henry as head of the church in England and Ann Boleyn as Queen.

But history is told through the eyes of those who write it, with their own political or social motivations and preferences. Hilary Mantel has gone back to primary sources where possible (or to new scholarship about Cromwell) and has forged a very different and wholly compelling portrait of him: brilliant in law, language and numbers; a family man who is fiercely loyal to those he loves and who has to cope with tragedy upon tragedy at home; a ridiculously hard worker; a fast friend with a wry sense of humour and fast wit; a respected enemy; someone who stands his ground without showing fear against the establishment (the King himself and the nobles of the court and church); the man who tried everything to save Thomas More and others from a grisly and undeserved end.

The story is brilliantly written - it’s told almost entirely in the present tense which gives it a dramatic immediacy. Cromwell is viewed from without, a third person ‘he’, as if by a fly on the wall observer. There’s a lot of dialogue and a large cast of characters whom it can be hard to keep straight, but who form a rich and compelling picture of the time and the personalities with whom Cromwell has to wrestle. Thomas More’s penchant for persecuting his ecclesiastical opponents isn’t overlooked - he is often sympathetic but is not the one-dimensional saint that he is often made out to be.

Henry comes out well (better and smarter than expected); Ann is a nasty piece of work. But nobody is a stereotype - even minor characters like the family or the Emperor’s ambassador or Hans Holbein are real people. The political machinations are fascinating. For anyone with a more than passing interest in Tudor history, this is a must-read narrative - heavily fictionalised of course but more insightful than most novels set in the period (though I love CJ Sansom’s books as well).

I loved it.

So imagine my surprise and delight when I walked into the Frick Collection while visiting New York to find Holbein’s hugely famous portraits of More and Cromwell glaring at each other on either side of a fireplace. I had no idea they were there not in London. I actually squawked “Bloody hell, it’s Cromwell” aloud before I could stop myself. Much to the amusement of the woman standing next to me.

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Hilde (hilded) | 442 comments June: Pick any one of the past 10 years and think about why it was special to you. Read a book that somehow evokes that special time and share the specifics in your PBT review

Rigels Øyne by Roy Jacobsen****

Rigels Øyne is the third and final book in the trilogy about the way of living on the small islands surrounding North of Norway in the 1940s right before, under and after World War 2 (“øyfolket”, not sure how to translate it to English”). Roy Jacobsen was the first Norwegian author to be shortlisted to the Man Booker, with the first book in this trilogy (The Unseen/De usynlige). The two next in the trilogy has not been translated to English yet to my knowledge, but I hope they will as they are all beautiful books and deserves readers outside of Norway. (Book 2: Hvitt Hav).

This book starts where the second leaves us, and is written in the same quite beauty as the first two books. You have to read between the lines to get the full meaning. It is set in the aftermath of World War 2, and we are slowly being introduced to the damage the war left in people. It’s hard to say a lot about this book without giving too much away from the first two, so I will leave it at that. The language is lovely, and some passages are written in dialect, which gives it a bit more personal touch (I am from this area, so I speak the same dialect).

I chose this book to honor my grandmother who passed away a couple of years ago. She was a lovely lady, and is greatly missed by us all, but she lived a long and eventful life thankfully. I chose this book as it is set in the same place and time as she grew up, and hence gave me another perspective how this time period was for her as a youth being thrown into war. She has told us a lot of stories from that time, and it was nice to read a book set in her homeplace from that time period.

message 46: by Idit (last edited Jun 25, 2018 08:06PM) (new)

Idit | 1028 comments June: personal choice from the last 10 years

The Harp in the South by Ruth Park

The Harp in the South | Ruth Park | 3-4 stars

When we moved to Surry Hills - around 15 years ago - a friend gave me a small book that she said was a classic Australian book about the area. It has been gathering dust on my shelves ever since.
Since then and especially in the last 7 years - since my older girl started primary school - we have been feeling more and more at home in this area, and are becoming a part in this inner city community. I have a theory, that once you start meeting random people you know on the streets - you can call it home. And since day care / primary / after school activities started (this decade), familiar and friendly faces are constant

In the first few paragraphs two topics are mentioned - the suburb's terraces and heavy drinking. Well that feels familiar. Drinking and chats about real-estate are still very relevant. But this gentrified suburb that is very pretty and posh now, was once a slum, and the terraces that now cost waaay too much, used to be poor people’s home.

This is the story of the Darcy family. Mumma and Hughie, and their kids Rowie and Dolour. They are Catholic Irish, and live in an imaginary street right around the corner

The book is sweet. The characters, location, language and times are SO lively. She really knows how to draw a scene
The story is many fragments of their day to day lives and few tragedies, funny occasions, and moments of joy. The set of characters is pretty cool, and includes the sweet and naive mumma, the alcoholic jovial father, the two daughters, some local prostitutes, nuns, a grumpy grandma, tenants, and boyfriends.
There are surprising bouts of violence or brutality that start unexpected and end soon after.

The good
There’s an honesty in their feeling and thoughts. A good combo of selfish and good in each one.
The description of 40’s in poor australia is fascinating. Even small things like the rubbish collection were interesting to read about

The bad
Sometimes the author comes as a rich white educated woman in a safari - looking at the natives a bit condescendingly.
It’s hard for me to say if it’s her imagination of poor people life, or a genuine description
Reading her Wikipedia bio, it look like she grew up in NZ to a poor family in the Great Depression, so maybe she is not so far removed

Sometimes she is a bit racist, and sometime she gets a bit too preachy. But I think it’s within reasonable range for writing in the 1940s

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Joi (missjoious) | 3880 comments AHHH!!! How is this month almost over?!!!

5 days to finish my book!! I'm only about 1/3 of the way through now.

message 48: by LibraryCin (last edited Jun 27, 2018 09:26PM) (new)

LibraryCin | 9433 comments June: Personal event, past 10 years.
I did a Baltic cruise in 2013. We were in St. Petersburg for 2 days. I had been told by another Canadian librarian friend, who was on the cruise, that this book even mentioned a restaurant we ate at!

The Firebird / Susanna Kearsley
3.75 stars

Nicola is able to “see” things when she touches them. When her work takes her to Russia to buy some art, she has a second mission in mind. A woman had recently come in wanting to sell a piece of art that she insisted came through her family’s generations, originally gifted from Peter the Great’s wife, Catherine. But there is no proof. Nicola is hoping to find some proof while she’s in St. Petersburg, along with her friend, Rob, who has the same “gift” of sight, but is better at it than Nicola is.

I preferred the modern day storyline to the historical one in this one. I’ve been to St. Petersburg and loved “visiting” some of the places again: Church of the Saviour on the Spilt Blood and, in particular, the Hermitage… but also, one of a chain of restaurants our tour group visited, Stolle, was mentioned in the book: “a small chain with several locations strung all through the city, and served what one might call traditional Russian ‘fast food’: homemade pie.” Yum! Good memories!

Anyway, I was surprised to find that many of the historical characters in this one were real – thanks to an author’s note at the end, which I always like to see in my historical fiction! In fact, it was quite a detailed note. I guess this is the second book in a “series” (loosely-based, I think), where one of the (historical) characters in the first book reappears in this one (I haven’t read that one). I recognized one of the contemporary characters from another book by this author that I’ve read, though, so that’s always fun.

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SouthWestZippy | 1076 comments June: Personal event, past 10 years.
Our Daughter got married in 2010.
Exposed Confessions of a Wedding Photographer A Memoir by Claire Lewis
4 stars
Claire Lewis is a wedding photographer and she takes you behind the scenes of her job. I liked her humor, wish there was more of it. One story was heartbreaking, it was near the beginning of the book and I almost did not want to read anymore but I keep going, happy I did. Overall a good but it is slow at times.
It could be a quick read if you need it to be.

message 50: by Book Concierge (last edited Jul 02, 2018 06:04AM) (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6618 comments JUNE DECATHALON -
Event: My mother passed away in June 2014. I don't think she ever read this book; she certainly never mentioned it to me. But I found a copy of it in the house when we were clearing it out. So, this one's for you, Mama ...

Bitter Grounds by Sandra Benítez
Bitter Grounds by Sandra Benítez
This is a sweeping historical epic covering three generations of two families: the Tabors, who are aristocratic land-owners; and the servants/peasants employed by them. Through these families the reader learns something of the history of El Salvador from about 1932 to 1975.

This won the American Book Award in 1998 and yet I had not heard of it until more recently.

I really enjoyed the way Benítez showed these two classes interacting. As much as they felt they were different and as much as they were kept apart (or at least the upper class tried to separate themselves from the lower class), they were inextricably linked and their lives held many parallels. Mothers and daughters disagreed; husbands betrayed their wives; children refused to listen; secrets were kept; and everyone was addicted to the radio soap opera, Los Dos (and yet never recognized how that story line also paralleled their real-life stories).

LINK to my review

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