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

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message 1: by Nicole R (last edited Jul 01, 2018 03:29AM) (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 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!

July: (5 points awarded) Do one buddy read with a fellow PBT member and indicate in your review who you read your book with. The book does not need to fit the monthly tag and the "buddy" you read with does not have to be competing in the Decathlon Challenge. Got more than one buddy? Feel free to form a small group! Just be sure to list the people's names that you read it with in your review.

If you choose to start a buddy read thread (not required), then please put it in the 2018 Activities and Challenges folder. Thanks!

Previous Months Themes: (3 points awarded)

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 i.e. if you took a trip to Greece, pick a book set there. Be sure to tell us about the connection!

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 Amy (new)

Amy | 9352 comments OK this answers my last question. We should post the review us both in the open Decathalon thread, as well as in the activities folder, as well as in the appropriate month folder. It’s going to be a fun month.

message 3: by Amy (new)

Amy | 9352 comments There we go! Found the thread. I believe I am the first one to review His Majesty's Dragon for the July Buddy Read. This Is my Buddy Read #1 (hopefully of three for the month, including The hearts invisible furies with KSZR, and the Last Watchman of Cairo, with another 8 people.) It is cross posted to July Other Books, to the His Majesty's Dragon other thread. and to the general feed.

Taking a breath before I write the review. I'm going to savor the moment. And write the review with no spoilers whatsoever, and save the rest of my thoughts for the ongoing discussion.

I did not expect to like this book, but I in fact did. The history of the read, is that is has been recommended to me for years by lots of folks with whom I share taste. I admit the idea did not appeal to me. I am neither generally a lover of historical fantasy or dragons. But when Jason suggested we read it together - I said yes. "Lets do the damn thing!" (Reference to ABC's the Bachelorette, for those of you too erudite and scholarly to be following bad reality TV.) Now we are reading it with 8 or 9 people, and there are plenty of folks who have loved this book, who are behaving as onlookers to the spectacle. Here we go.

I did surprise myself and love it. Still not my genre, but yes it got to me. Why? Simply because of the tender relationship between the dragon and the handler, and I loved this dragon. I consider him mine - which is the strangest thing I could possibly say. But its clear to me that I would not have perhaps enjoyed this book, or enjoyed it half as much, if I were not reading it in this fashion. If I were not exchanging long conversations with Jason and soon to be others about the nature of marriage and relationship, and about dragon intelligence, compassion, and loyalty. Being able to talk and think about this book, considering both its tenderness and its relational, even political implications, absolutely has raised this book for me. Its been as much fun to talk about it, possibly more, than it has been to read it. I'm still not a dragon lover - but this particular dragon has indeed captured my heart.

message 4: by Booknblues (new)

Booknblues | 6864 comments Lincoln in the Bardo- 4 stars
May Decathlon- Booker Shortlist

So I've spent over a month thinking about how to write a review for Lincoln in the Bardo and I still haven't managed to formulate my thoughts into anything near coherent.

This is a much raved over book and rightly so, George Saunders is extremely creative. The formatting of the book is interesting. I loved the voices of the ghosts and the historical background which was provided as it gave the reader a clear picture of the weight of the world which Lincoln carried with him. Losing the bright light of his son Willie was truly tragic and enervating for Lincoln.

As a reader, I wish that Saunders showed restraint as well as creativity. For me his prose sometimes became so much gobbledygook and the historic setting descended to the cartoonish. But perhaps, I am missing the point of it all.

I think when all is said and done one needs to read this book and decide for oneself the merit of it.

message 5: by Nicole D. (new)

Nicole D. | 1497 comments July - Buddy Read (with Anita, and everybody else too!)

Red Clocks - Leni Zumas 3/5

Look, I'm sorry - there's nothing "ferociously imaginative" here. It's the 1950's with iPhones. It's far too probable to be provactive. I'm sickened, depressed and frankly afraid.

That being said, Zumas is a really good writer. The structure of the novel was interesting and she looked at women's "rights" from multiple points of view (perhaps this is the point of the Faroe Islands woman's inclusion - won't try to spell her name.) There were some absolutely great lines in this book, and I laughed out loud numerous times.

Even if I could separate myself from the topic, (which I clearly cannot) from a story perspective it's been done before.

I'm glad my reproductive years are behind me. And I wish this didn't have to be such a big polarizing topic. It's none of anybody's business.

message 6: by Estefania (new)

Estefania (essie20) June: 10 Years

I chose to read “The Pisces” by Melissa Broder because it is about a woman struggling with depression and heartbreak and I have some experience in that department.

Lucy finds herself on a downward spiral after her boyfriend of eight years decides to make their “break” permanent. After a couple of failed Tinder meet ups, she becomes infatuated with a merman (yes, half-human, half-fish) only to discover he is not what he seems (still a merman though). She seeks help from her therapy group for women addicted to love and sex, but mostly she considers herself better than they are, not as sick. I rated the book 4 stars. Nice addition to the sea creature romance trend in books and movies.

I could relate to Lucy’s journey because when I was in high school, my long-term boyfriend broke up with me and came out to me as gay. It was hard for me to not take it personally and it took a toll on my mental health, which wasn’t great to begin with. Thanks to therapy, medication, and a great support system, I’m much better now.


Overall, I thought the book was okay. I don’t think Lucy is fully healed by the end of the book but she isn’t suicidal anymore, so there is some growth. I wish we could’ve seen her get the help she needs. The ending was confusing for me. I couldn’t tell if the author was alluding that Lucy is pregnant.

message 7: by Jeremiah (last edited Jul 06, 2018 06:07AM) (new)

Jeremiah Cunningham | 717 comments I just want to check before I order a book I don't need -- the three tags for July were dystopian, neurodiversity, and Christmas correct? Not faulting the admins here, just wanting to make sure my memory is accurate.

message 8: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments Yep! Sorry, I forgot to change that. Again. I will get it fixed as soon as I get on an actual computer.

message 9: by Jeremiah (new)

Jeremiah Cunningham | 717 comments Nicole R wrote: "Yep! Sorry, I forgot to change that. Again. I will get it fixed as soon as I get on an actual computer."

Thanks Nicole. Really not a big deal, I seem to be the only one trying to make up March. This month might actually work.

message 10: by Critterbee❇ (last edited Jul 11, 2018 08:44AM) (new)

Critterbee❇ (critterbee) | 418 comments PBT Decathalon 2018 July Buddy Read - His Majesty's Dragon
Read with Amy, Barbara, Jason, Linda C, Magdalena, Rachel N, Tanya D, and maybe more!

His Majesty's Dragon is the first book in the lengthy Temeraire series, which is about the Napoleonic wars, only with Dragons. This is an alternative history with fantastic elements.

This is the first time I have read Novik, and find her restraint when describing fantastic creatures or events wonderful. No pretentious grandstanding, melodrama, or effusive reveling in the magnificence of the Dragons, just matter-of-fact, thoughtful narrative. That there are countless species of Dragons lends depth to the book. The violence was too much for me, and I mostly skimmed those passages, however it was accurately representative of the horrific happenings during wartime, perhaps even a little toned down.

I like Temeraire, and Laurence, very much. Their relationship is loving and they have great respect for each other. The friendships among the Dragons and between the Captains and the Dragons were nuanced and various.

About halfway through the book, (view spoiler)

Currently I am not sure if I will continue the series, based only on the violence of war, and it is too painful when the Dragons are injured. However I can always skim those parts, and I have grown quite attached to Laurence and Temeraire, so I might find myself wanting to know how they are doing.

message 11: by Jen (new)

Jen | 1545 comments PBT Decathlon July Buddy Read
Red Clocks
The book grew on me. I found the beginning rather dull (in terms of plot) but enjoyed it more as it went on. I loved the way certain characters developed over time (The Wife, The Biographer in particular). The writing was brilliant and I also enjoyed the narrative structure. It was odd and I like odd and quirky.

In terms of plot, I do agree with Nikki D in that I didn't feel like she really pushed the issue of how things might be different today if abortion and reproductive laws were reversed or enacted. I think the author could have pushed the boundaries there a bit. I could have been reading a book about the topic set in the earlier, more restrictive times.

message 12: by Anita (last edited Jul 08, 2018 10:31AM) (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 6745 comments PBT Decathlon June - Clock Dance (3 stars) - I wanted to read a book set in Baltimore because the most momentous time for me in the past 10 years was moving from upstate NY to Baltimore. Review can be found at:

message 13: by Anita (new)

Anita Pomerantz | 6745 comments PBT Decathlon July - Red Clocks (5 stars) - Started out as a buddy read with Susie, but there ended up being a huge group of us! So fun! Review can be found at:

message 14: by Charlotte (last edited Jul 09, 2018 07:03AM) (new)

Charlotte | 1663 comments July: Buddy Read
Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey
5 stars

Review can be found at:

message 15: by Joni (new)

Joni | 625 comments July: Buddy with my dear friend Ellen
Garbage Night ~ 3 stars

Garbage Night is a short little YA graphic novel about three friends...a dog named Simon, a raccoon named Cliff and a deer named Reynard are living is a desolate town waiting for the garbage truck to arrive. Waiting for food....but food never comes. Word is that there is food & humans in the next town, but they are hesitant to leave what they know, but they are hungry. A long the way they meet a stray dog, Barnaby, who seems to think he knows the way. Although, Barnaby is not the nicest and starts to fracture the trio's friendship.

I liked this little book, although it was hard to understand at first. There is a short "chapter" at the end of the book that tells of how these three friends came to be friends. This book is told from the point of view of animals sort of portrayed as humans or kids....dressed in kids clothes.

How does this fit Dystopian? It's is desolate town with no more civilization. No more humans and very few animals left. It's about survival and what one would do if there was nothing left.

message 16: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 9065 comments Charlotte wrote: "July: Buddy Read
Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey
5 stars

I hope to finish today!

message 17: by Barbara M (last edited Jul 09, 2018 05:53PM) (new)

Barbara M (barbara-m) | 2299 comments July: Buddy Read
His Majesty's Dragon -- 5 stars

See my Review here:

message 18: by LibraryCin (new)

LibraryCin | 9065 comments July: Buddy Read

Wool Omnibus / Hugh Howey
3.5 stars

I think it’s hard to give a summary for this one without giving too much away. It starts with Holston, whose wife, 3 years ago, was sent for a “cleaning”. Basically, she was suited up, and sent outside where she was meant to clean the cameras, and she never returns. It seems that anyone breaking the law is sent for a cleaning. There’s much more beyond this, but that’s where I don’t want to start giving things away.

It was good. There was a lot of tech stuff (mostly mechanical) that I wasn’t as interested in. But, it was definitely interesting and it picked up for me a little ways in, with the focus more on Juliette (except the mechanical stuff!). For some reason, I thought this was YA, but it’s not. I think I will continue the series (I read the Omnibus, which collected the 5 short stories, but there are apparently two more books beyond this one).

message 19: by Jenny (last edited Jul 10, 2018 12:02AM) (new)

Jenny (jennywilliams88) | 733 comments July: The Power. 5 stars and a heart

Read with Jason, Jolene, Ladyslott et al.

Before I start my review I want to explain why I really didn't want Dystopian to win! 

Back when I was at school, my AS Level English coursework was on comparing 3 Dystopian novels - Brave New World, 1984 & The Handmaid's Tale - and I was not a huge fan of any of them, so I was a bit apprehensive about this tag.

I'm so glad I chose this one to start with.

Blurb: Suddenly - tomorrow or the day after - girls find that with a flick of their fingers, they can inflict agonizing pain and even death. With this single twist, the four lives at the heart of Naomi Alderman's extraordinary, visceral novel are utterly transformed, and we look at the world in an entirely new light.

What if the power to hurt were in women's hands?

Review: I have finally found a dystopian novel I absolutely love! I enjoyed every single aspect of this book - I read it in a day - and as I have been slightly unwell over the last couple of weeks, this is a major achievement as I haven't felt like reading.

It's also given me a new understanding of feminist issues and I will definitely be trying to find more feminist books to read due to this one. 

message 20: by Rachel N. (new)

Rachel N. | 1612 comments July
Buddy read

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas 3 stars

Abortion has been made illegal along with in-vitro fertilization. The book alternates between the stories of four women who are affected by the law along with telling the story of a 19th century polar explorer. I was most interested in The Biographer and The Daughters stories. The Menders story was interesting in parts but I found the writing weird in parts and I really didn't like how wishy washy The Wife was. I still don't really see how The Explorers story fits with the other four. I think the book is okay but I wasn't amazed by it the way some other people have been.

message 21: by Ellen (new)

Ellen | 2318 comments PBT Decathlon
July - Buddy Read
Garbage Night by Jen Lee
2 stars

Buddy Read with my friend Joni

Simon the dog, along with his two friends Cliff the racoon and Reynard the deer, spend their days hoping every night will finally be 'garbage night', the night the humans put out their trash and garbage. In what is an unexplained dystopian world, there are no humans in evidence and thus no garbage. The houses and stores have been picked clean of food by roaming animals and these 3 friends are desperate to find something to eat. They meet up with a smooth-talking dog named Barnaby who is on his way to a nearby city. He has heard rumors that there are people and plenty of food available there so Simon, Cliff and Reynard decide to tag along.

I wish there had been some explanation of what happened to the world to cause such desolation and decay. The strong friendship between the 3 animals is very nice and helps to save what to me is a rather depressing and unfulfilling story.

message 22: by Susie (new)

Susie | 4488 comments PBT Decathalon
July - Buddy Read
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
5 stars

As soon as I saw that dystopia was a possibility I had Red Clocks at the forefront of my mind as I had seen it reviewed and felt as though it would really float my boat, and that it did. I'll hold off on a summary as many of us are reading the book this month so it has been done more than once already.

I loved this book. I found the writing style to be remarkably effective, the story to be nuanced and deeply thought provoking, and was left feeling highly satisfied. Although Red Clocks is a experiment in what it would be like if abortion were made illegal, Zumas manages to cleverly weave multiple feminist themes though her narrative, and we all know I love a good femenist theme. Each character provided us with the ability to look at the treatment of women at a different angle, both in the past and in the present. I appreciated all of the characters equally as I felt that they all brought something different to the table, and although I have seen criticisms based on a lack of emotional connection, I felt that this was intentional. I think Zumas is a very skilled and clever writer, and I'm really looking forward to what she produces in the future. If it is anything like Red Clocks then I am in for a treat.

On another note, can we talk about the cover? So apt!

message 23: by annapi (last edited Jul 11, 2018 07:32PM) (new)

annapi | 5159 comments PBT Decathlon July - Buddy Read
Buddies: Joanne, Sharon, Idit and Magdalena

Book: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell - 4 stars

Fascinating book. Difficult to describe - it's really six stories strung together with only a tenuous link between them. It's an ingenious way to create a novel from several different stories that really have no connection to each other except as contrived.

But you know what? It works. It holds the reader's attention. Mitchell's prose is wonderful as he builds the atmospheres of each different story, told in completely different voices that weave completely different worlds - or maybe not so different when you look deeper. The guy can definitely write!

I don't know how I would have reacted if I'd not known before hand how this book was constructed, since I saw the movie first. I first picked up the book a few years ago, and dropped it quickly as it did not hold my attention. After I saw the movie my interest was renewed but I never acted on it until this Decathlon buddy reading challenge came along (plus it fits the monthly tag), and now I'm glad I finally finished it. It's quite a quirky read! My buddies on this read are Joanne, Sharon, Idit and Magdalena.

(view spoiler)

message 24: by Jeremiah (last edited Jul 12, 2018 06:44AM) (new)

Jeremiah Cunningham | 717 comments March Catch-up - Read all Three Tags

Book: On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvin
Tags: Dystopian and Neurodiversity

Review can be located here:

Book: The Christmas Catch by Ginny Baird
Tag: Christmas

Review can be located here:

message 25: by Barbara M (new)

Barbara M (barbara-m) | 2299 comments PBT - Decathalon July - Buddy Read - His Majesty's Dragon
5 stars

My Review:

I have put #2 of the series on my TBR, hoping to get to it one day - but not tomorrow! I tend to space the series out since I've joined PBT.

message 26: by Amy (new)

Amy | 9352 comments For those of us who are doing more than one buddy read, we just get points for the first one - right? Or can we get credit for more than one?

Amy's Second Buddy Read: The Hearts Invisible Furies, by John Boyne. This short review is going to get cross listed to the general feed, the decathlon feed, the buddy read feed, the other books feed and to Listopia. I am aware that is annoying. At least the review is short.

I am with the rave! I just loved it! 5 stars for me, and squarely in the top ten for the year. I always get a little afraid when a book is over-hyped and the bar is set high. This one did not disappoint.

What a tapestry of a life - and loved the inner journey as much as the outer one. I love how well woven it was. Beautifully done!

message 27: by Linda C (new)

Linda C (libladynylindac) | 1153 comments PBT Decathlon July - Buddy Read
His Majesty's Dragon - Naomi Novik (5 stars) 7/15/18
Buddy Read with Amy, Jason, Magdalena, Barbara, Critterbee, etc
My first comment at msg 56
Review: Naval Captain Will Laurence captures a French frigate in the Napoleonic Wars and discovers it contains a special shipment, a dragon's egg. Weeks away from land it hatches and chooses Laurence for its handler changing his career path from Navy to Aerial Corps. The story is an alternate history where pretty much everything else is the same with the addition of dragons. Laurence and his dragon, Temeraire are sent to Scotland for training. Laurence's formal naval lifestyle is at odds with the laid-back informality of the fliers. Gradually through the training and learning process he and Temeraire develop a group of friends. Eventually they are pulled back into the war and the defense of the English Channel.

The more I read the greater I enjoyed the story. The kind of brusque formal writing style that gradually loosened up seems to parallel the MC's personal attitude. The bond between Laurence and Temeraire is prime and endearing. The aerial battles were exciting and well written. I had no trouble imagining the scenes. The character development was interesting and logical; even though some were mythical in nature they were believable. I am looking forward to reading more in this series.

message 28: by LibraryCin (last edited Jul 15, 2018 12:14PM) (new)

LibraryCin | 9065 comments Amy wrote: "For those of us who are doing more than one buddy read, we just get points for the first one - right? Or can we get credit for more than one?..."

I'm sure Nicole will confirm, but I'm pretty sure we only get points for doing each month's decathlon challenge only once.

(Not that I can compete for prizes or anything, but I'm sure there are other months where I would have counted a second book, but we weren't getting credit for it, so I didn't.)

message 29: by Elise (new)

Elise (ellinou) July: Buddy Read
The Road - 1*

My review

message 30: by Elise (new)

Elise (ellinou) Jenny wrote: "July: The Power. 5 stars and a heart"

Oh, that sounds awesome! Adding it to my TBR!

message 31: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments Amy, you only get credit for one book per month.

message 32: by Idit (new)

Idit | 1028 comments July: buddy read
The Road | Cormac McCarthy | 4 stars

my late-night rambling review is here

message 33: by Kelly (new)

Kelly | 848 comments July: buddy read with large PBT group

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas

4 stars

Red Clocks is a book where the four main characters are all women in a small Oregon community. They live in a modern time, but abortion and IVF have been made illegal. Soon a law saying you cannot be a single parent to adopt a child will go into affect. The primary women in the story are mostly referred to by their roles; mender, daughter, wife and biographer. The new laws and its restrictions greatly affect the characters; also how they perceive themselves may not always be as others see them. To me the daughter and biographer were the most likable, but how all of them are connected was done in an interesting way. I preferred the second half of the book where stories came together and I felt the writing was well thought out.

message 34: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6397 comments APRIL Decathlon - TBR random pick

Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen
Mrs Poe – Lynn Cullen – 2**
Historical fiction that focuses on the relationship between Frances Osgood, a poetess, and Edgar Allan Poe, and complicated by the attempts at friendship between Poe’s wife and Frances. Well, I wanted to like this. I just never really felt any love between them. I got tired of the longing and yearning and attempts to stay apart, only to be inextricably drawn together. I found the author’s notes at the end of the novel more interesting than from the novel itself.
LINK to my review

message 35: by Book Concierge (new)

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6397 comments CROSS-posted to PBT July Tag

JULY Decathlon - Buddy read

Our Buddy Read discussion thread

The Road by Cormac McCarthy
The Road – Cormac McCarthy – 3***
A man and his son wander a desolate and destroyed American landscape after some unnamed world-wide disaster has pretty much killed off most of the earth’s population and destroyed the environment. I don’t need a happy ending in order to appreciate and like a book. But I do need to feel some sense of purpose to the story, and I couldn’t figure out what McCarthy was trying to impart. Still, there is something about McCarthy’s writing that captivates me. I like his spare style. I like the way he paints the landscape so that I feel I am living in the novel (even if it’s a horrible place to be). I think he’s one of those author’s whose works I appreciate, even when I don’t particularly like them.
LINK to my review

message 36: by Joi (new)

Joi (missjoious) | 3834 comments July- Buddy Read
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
4 Stars

An eerily close "dystopian" world where all abortions are illegal, laws are being formed where adoption can only happen with two parents present, embryos have rights, and there is a "pink wall" so no one can escape to Canada to avoid the laws. We follow 5 different woman, all with different roles and narration through their lives in Oregon (yay!) and how this world is effecting them. While I really enjoyed this the whole way though, I was left wanting a little more- hence the 4 stars.

We see the biographer, the mender, the daughter, the wife, and an outside story of a female explorer. The lives intertwine and intersect. Each woman has their own story, and motive. I loved the way the book was built- with such hard definitions of the woman- to show the pidgeonholedness of the characters. The characters were all well built, and developed over time. They are all flawed, and that is just fine. I was particularly drawn to the biographer and daughters story.

There are a lot of comparisons within the book, and to history, and gender stereotypes in America that are disbursed throughout. The mender is seen as a witch, we see it compared to the Salem Witch Trials. There were so many subtleties that I loved. Picking out quotes that are so real and relevant that it's scary. I bookmarked many pages that had lines I wanted to remember and go back to- and I literally NEVER do that.

So why not 5 stars? I loved the world building, the characters, and all- but I wanted more. There was an empty feeling I was left with at the end that was just- "that's it?". The storylines moved slow- which I'm fine with because this is obviously about the world and characters more- but something was just missing.

message 37: by Sushicat (new)

Sushicat | 805 comments July: Buddy read with everybody ;-)
Red Clocks by Leni Zumas - 3.4 stars

While I get why this is tagged dystopia, I would not have used the tag myself. The only difference I found between our present and the world we're introduced to is the one at the center of the book: the change in law that removes the options for a woman who wants to be or finds herself pregnant or wants to adopt a child.

The novel is told in shifting points of view by four women who find themselves affected by this change in different ways. While this makes for interesting shifts in perspective and showcases the effect of the change in laws on different situations, I found it reduced my engagement with the story. It took me a long time to actually get into the book and I probably would not have pushed on beyond the first couple of chapters if it had not been for the buddy read. Only in the second half where the connections between these women becomes evident did I start to appreciate the story more.

message 38: by Kszr (new)

Kszr | 172 comments Buddy Read: The Hearts Invisible Furies. Buddy is Amy.

I truly liked the story, with the beautiful writing and the ever evolving tale through history. I do not, however, believe this is the best book I have read this year. Things tied up too neatly at the end for my taste - and that just seems to Hollywood for a book that was so close the ugliness of society - it only subtly implies the undercurrents that are becoming more openly spoken in the environment of intolerance we are currently living in.

message 39: by Jgrace (last edited Jul 24, 2018 08:16AM) (new)

message 40: by Hayjay315 (new)

Hayjay315 | 252 comments PBT Decathlon July - Buddy Read
Buddies: Booknblues, Amy, JGrace, Rachel, Robin and Southwest Zippy

In The Last Watchman of Old Cairo author Michael David Lukas weaves together the stories of Berkeley literature student Joseph, synagogue watchman Ali and British twin sisters Margaret and Agnes who are antiquity scholars.

The book opens by detailing how the Muslim orphaned water carrier Ali is living with his uncle but in the process of carrying messages between the chief advisor to the caliph and the governing council of the Ibn Ezra Synagogue obtains the position of night watchman at the synagogue. What Ali comes to discover is that thousands of precious documents, including the Ezra Scroll are contained within the genizah, a hidden storage area within the synagogue.

Shifting to the present day, the reader is introduced to Joseph who has just received a package from his recently deceased father containing a piece of paper with Arabic and Hebrew script, a plaque indicating the paper was a gift to Muhammed al-Raqb from Margaret Gibson and Agnes Lewis and a business card from a Mr. Claude Mosseri with his phone number and address. Joseph decides to set off for Cairo and seek Mr. Mosseri to determine if the contents of the package have any connection to his family history of the al-Raqb men who served as watchmen of the Ibn Ezra Synagogue for a thousand years. Through his search he will come to unravel many of his family secrets and gain a greater understanding of his Jewish mother’s culture and his Muslim father’s culture.

The final timeline takes place in the 19th century where Margaret and Agnes work with Cambridge university professor Dr. Schechter and his assistant Miss de Witt in a race against time as they seek to prevent rampant looting of documents from the Ibn Ezra Synagogue from occurring any longer. Through this attempt they become aware of the story of the Ezra Scroll and the history of the al-Raqb watchmen.

In rich and vivid prose and descriptions the city of Cairo comes to life as themes of self identity and discovery, bridging cultural differences and family and community relationships are explored. A four star read and definitely one of my favorites of the year so far!

message 41: by Jason (last edited Jul 25, 2018 10:57PM) (new)

Jason Oliver | 2098 comments PBT Decathlon July - Buddy Read

message 42: by Jeremiah (new)

Jeremiah Cunningham | 717 comments July: Buddy Read

The Power by Naomi Alderman
4 out of 5 Stars

In The Power the world is a recognizable place: there's a rich Nigerian kid who lounges around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power - they can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.

Rarely do I struggle as much to write a review for a book as I am with this one. Trying to sort out my thoughts has been difficult and even as I write this I am not sure I entirely know how I feel about this novel. I am left feeling both intrigued and confused. I feel as though the writing was incredibly powerful and yet, as I was reading the book, I often felt as though the writing lacked any type of quality. I am left thinking that the violence in the book is over the top at times and yet wondering if the violence is not actually understated and a bit muted. The one thing I know this book has done is left me conflicted.

The Positives of The Power
As with most novels, the last 30 to 40 pages of this book really influenced my rating of the novel. Although still not a five star book for me the last portion of the book elevated my rating by two stars and maybe more. I really appreciated the craftsmanship that went into the last section as Alderman plays with form. Some of the changes are more subtle, such as altering the voice of the narrator, and some are more obvious like altering the length of the sections and removing the chapter titles. (Both things you can clearly see from just flipping through the book.) While I found much of the other writing to lack exquisite skill, I really appreciated the talents of the author in the end.

(view spoiler)

The Negatives of The Power
My biggest negative with this book was the fact that the writing through the first 250 pages left me thinking that it might not be worth reading. While I found the redeeming value in the end and the writing works, I could easily see why many might choose not to continue. I highly respect the work that Alderman did in the book as a whole, but found the beginning of the book to at times almost insufferable. In recommending this book, I would have to know that the potential reader has the gut to keep pushing forward and see the novel as a whole.

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Joanne (joabroda1) | 8427 comments July Buddy read-Buddies: Annapi, Colleen, Sharon and Magdalina

Cloud Atlas

This was a very challenging book for me, just not my idea of enjoyable reading.

That said, I gave it 3.5 stars because David Mitchell, without a doubt, is a writing genius. Taking 6 barely connecting stories and piecing them together, and each story told in a different voice! I would love to get inside this man’s head!

I was not thrilled with the tag Dystopia in the beginning, having never gone there before. It’s funny to me that one story I connected to was one of the two most “dystopian”. That would be the story with Sonmi-451. And yet, I can’t really tell you what I liked about it except Sonmi represented a rebel, and I like that in women.

That's’ all I have folks. I probably missed that whole point of the book because after the the first 4 sections I was just force feeding it into my brain.

I love this group because I am being introduced to new things, but this is one “tag” I doubt I will ever venture into again.

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Booknblues | 6864 comments July Buddy Read - The Last Watchman of Old Cairo by Michael DAvid Lukas - 4 stars

Buddies- Me(booknblues), Amy, Rachel, JGrace, Southwest Zippy, Robin, HayJay

Michael David Lukas, tell the reader "The story of the al-Raqb family was inspired by a conversation I had on an airplane with a Bengali Muslim woman whose family served for generations as watchmen of a synagogue in Kolkata." The Al Raqb family are the watchman of the Ibn Ezra Synagogue in Old Cairo. They have been guarding the synagogue for centuries.

The Last Watchman Of Old Cairo: A Novel tells the story of the Al Raqb family from the first watchman Ali to today telling the story of Joseph, the son of the last watchman.

I found this to be an enjoyable historical novel in which I picked up some intriguing information.

message 45: by Estefania (new)

Estefania (essie20) July: Buddy read with PBT group


I won’t summarize because I know most of you have also read it or at least read others’ reviews on here.

I gave this book 4 stars because although the writing was wonderful and engaging, I felt that there was something missing. As far as I know, she’s not planning to write a sequel but that’s the impression I had when I finished reading. As if it said “to be continued...” at the end.

Anyone wanting to know more should go read the thread for this buddy read, lots of interesting discussion and not just about the book!

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 Olivermagnus (lynda214) | 2332 comments July: Buddy read with PBT group

Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
Red Clocks - Leni Zumas - 3.5 Stars

Red Clocks is set in a dystopian future where the US has nullified Roe v. Wade and criminalized abortion. Anyone who tries to end her own pregnancy is thrown n jail. The Pink Wall along our northern border keeps desperate girls and women from seeking help in Canada. The story revolves around the intersecting lives of Mattie, a pregnant teenager; Ro, her teacher; Susan, a housewife trapped in a dull marriage; Gin, a mysterious woman of the forest; and Eivør, a polar explorer.

Based on the spectacular reviews perhaps I was expecting more but I didn't find it "a gender roaring tour de force". It was well written and the author has a way with words but I'm at the stage in my lie where I want to read for entertainment. I respect everyone else's great reviews but I just didn't feel it.

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SouthWestZippy | 1011 comments July: Buddy read with PBT group

The Last Watchman of Old Cairo by Michael David Lukas
1 star
Taken for the book." Joseph, a literature student at Berkeley, is the son a Jewish mother and a Muslim father. One Day a mysterious package arrives on his doorstep, pulling him into a mesmerizing adventure to uncover the tangled history that binds the two sides of his family. "
Wow, that was a lot to take in and think about. I must admit, I got lost in the details in a couple of spots and had a had time connecting the dots in the storyline.
I had to reread the end and I still don't see it. Overall the book is just too much for me to comprehend.
I really wanted to like the book but don't.

message 48: by Kszr (new)

Kszr | 172 comments Joanne wrote: "July Buddy read-Buddies: Annapi, Colleen, Sharon and Magdalina

Cloud Atlas

This was a very challenging book for me, just not my idea of enjoyable reading.

That said, I gave it 3..."

Not my favorite either - if it takes that much work to figure it out, its not what I want to read.

message 49: by Lyn (new)

Lyn (lynm) | 379 comments July - Buddy read
The Book Thieves The Nazi Looting of Europe's Libraries and the Race to Return a Literary Inheritance by Anders Rydell
3 stars
read with Jgrace

This was the July book for my book group, and I was very pleased that Jgrace agreed to buddy read with me.
This is one of those books that I never would have read if it wasn't a book group selection. I enjoy history, and I find the WWII era quite interesting, so I picked up this book thinking it would be a good read. I feel like I just finished reading a text book. I got bogged down in all the details, the names and places. But at the same time, it was an interesting book to read. Books are important, this history needs to be told.

Jgrace wrote a really good review, which I agree with 100%. And like Jgrace, I will not remember all the names or places. I will remember the little green book.

message 50: by Nicole R (new)

Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7784 comments Heads up that I will likely be tallying up the July decathlon reads tomorrow afternoon! Be sure to post any lingering reviews by then.

Not to toot my own PBT Admin horn, but this was a great monthly challenge! I loved all of the buddy reads, even reading the discussions for the reads I was not participating in!

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