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What did you read last month? > What I read April 2015

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message 1: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Share with us what you read in April 2015 !

Please provide:

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


message 2: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 29, 2015 07:32PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments These were my April reads.


Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger
Fiction
rate 4/5
Poignant collection of short stories. Beautiful writing.

The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
fiction
rate: 5/5
This novel is crazy and zany. I loved it.

Buddhist Boot Camp by Timber Hawkeye Buddhist Boot Camp by Timber Hawkeye
nonfiction
rate: 3/5
This book was okay but a bit too superficial.

The Sisters Weiss by Naomi Ragen The Sisters Weiss by Naomi Ragen
fiction
rate 3-/5
The novel started off well but then became repetitive and a bit boring. I've enjoyed this authors other books much more.

The Protest Singer An Intimate Portrait of Pete Seeger by Alec Wilkinson The Protest Singer: An Intimate Portrait of Pete Seeger--Alec Wilkinson
nonfiction
rate 3/5
This short book lacked the necessary depth to fully understand and appreciate Pete Seeger. There were some interesting parts but overall the book was a bit of disappointment.


message 3: by Amy (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments Alias Reader wrote: "These were my April reads.

The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
fiction
rate: 5/5
This novel is crazy and zany. I loved it..."


I have this one in my pile--glad to see you enjoyed it, Alias!


message 4: by Amy (last edited Apr 30, 2015 04:20PM) (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments In general, April was a decent month with some good reads. Books I completed this month:

Amy’s Pick of the Month:
1. Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson: The story of Pete Snow, a social worker in rural Montana in 1980, and the family of survivalists he comes across who are living in the wilderness. Pete tries to help them-- while at the same time his own life is falling apart. This book is about paranoia and freedom and institutional limitations and forgiveness and finding the fortitude inside you to go on after you’ve experienced tragedy. It is not an easy read – it’s heartbreaking and harsh and horrific. Don’t read this if you need to have happy things happening to happy people, because this is a book where horrible things happen. But it’s compelling and breathtaking and the writing is stunning. 4.5/5 stars

FOUR stars:
2. Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson : Full disclosure on this review: narrative nonfiction is one of my favorite genres. So this book was right up my alley. It was an engrossing tale of the sinking of the Lusitania by German U-boats in 1915, before the U.S. entered WWI. Highly recommended.

3. Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer: A meticulously researched and reported narrative of a series of sexual assaults at the University of Montana and how these assaults were handled (and mishandled) by both the university or local authorities. Highly recommended.

4. A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny : When I read a book by Louise Penny, the mystery itself is almost beside the point. I read her books for the realistic dialogue and the characters who feel like real people to me--flaws and all. In this outing, I was drawn to the background details of Gamache's and Peter's histories, and how alike/different their childhoods were. And how that shaped their characters. By the end, I didn't really care who killed the victim, but I knew more about Armand Gamache as a man. And that made me happy.


THREE stars:
5. Murderous Minds: Exploring the Criminal Psychopathic Brain: Neurological Imaging and the Manifestation of Evil by Dean A. Haycock: An interesting account of the theories, research, controversies, and issues surrounding the construct of psychopathy and those who exhibit psychopathic traits. Fascinating discussion of the differences between “successful” and “unsuccessful” psychopaths, and where they tend to congregate in society.

6. Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino: An account written in alternating chapters by a woman who was raped and by the man she mistakenly identified as her attacker. He spent 11 years in prison for the crime before DNA evidence proved his innocence. I thought the writing style was fairly simplistic -- which made it a quick read, but still a decent one.

7. The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny: Another good outing by Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. This one had a plot that involved ghosts and séances, which knocked it down to 3 stars for me.

8. Soldier Girls: The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War by Helen Thorpe : Fascinating account of account of three women from the Indiana National Guard who were deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, and how their military service affected their friendship, their personal lives, and their families. A bit too detailed with the mundane and gossipy aspects, but still a decent read.

9. The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes : Historical fiction set in 1946 after WWII has ended, when young women are crossing the seas in the thousands en route to the men they had married in wartime. Four women join 650 other brides on a voyage to England aboard the HMS Victoria. Apparently the book was loosely based on real people who made the trip on the real ship. A fun, quick read.

10. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss : This complicated tale unfolds from the point of view of no fewer than four narrators: an elderly man, Leo; a teen girl, Alma; her prepubescent brother, Bird; and a third-person omniscient narrator. Each has a story arc that intertwines with the others in both expected and unexpected ways. The narrative pulls you along, as does the writing style, which is fairly good.


TWO stars:
11. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro: This book is about a trio of students at Hailsham, an elite boarding school where children were raised to be both healthy and artistic and taught to believe that these things would be essential to the world they would one day enter. Which they are, but not in the way it would appear at the start. This book came highly recommended by a number of GR friends. I found it to be both brilliantly written and excruciatingly boring at the same time. I didn't even know such a thing was possible.


message 5: by Mkfs (new)

Mkfs | 189 comments Alias Reader wrote: " Nine Stories by J.D. SalingerNine Stories by J.D. Salinger"

I really liked Nine Stories. I never cared for Catcher In The Rye all that much, so it was a pleasant surprise to find out that Salinger had more (and better) writing in him than just that one novel.

Might give Franny and Zoey a re-read as well.


message 6: by Emma (new)

Emma (elpryan) | 168 comments Amy wrote: "TWO stars:
11. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro: "


Amazing month, Amy. I love your synopsis of Never Let Me Go. I gave it 3 stars because I thought the overall story was interesting and powerful, but I think you've nailed it - it was somehow surprisingly boring when actually reading it.


message 7: by Emma (new)

Emma (elpryan) | 168 comments Revolutionary Road - 5/5
I loved this - not because the Wheelers are a particularly lovable couple, or because it's a happy story, but I found it to be surprisingly relatable and relevant. And it's made me extra happy we gave up our crazy commuting lifestyle. :)

Me Before You - 4/5
This one covers a tough and fiercely debated topic, but I thought it was handled well and was a page-turning read.

The New New Rules: A Funny Look At How Everybody But Me Has Their Head Up Their Ass - 2/5
This is a book of 1-2 liners intermixed with short essays. While a couple of the essays were interesting/funny/made good points, much of the content was snarky, immature, or just plain mean. At least this knocks out one of my bookshelf reads!


message 8: by Amy (last edited Apr 30, 2015 11:59AM) (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments Emma wrote: "Revolutionary Road - 5/5
I loved this - not because the Wheelers are a particularly lovable couple, or because it's a happy story, but I found it to be surprisingly relatable and relevant. And it's made me extra happy we gave up our crazy commuting lifestyle. :)..."


I've been wanting to read this one, Emma--good to see that you rated it so highly! Especially since I spend several hours each day commuting on the train (ha ha). Although that's when I get the bulk of my reading done, so I don't know what to do about that! ;)

Re: "Never Let Me go" -- I'm also happy to hear your thoughts on that one! I thought it was just me--that I was missing something the entire time I was reading it. All I could think is "wow, Ishiguro is really good at putting together brilliant sentences that bore the life right out of me." Although I have not yet read "Remains of the Day," so it "remains" to be seen (pun intended) whether it's just this particular book or Ishiguro himself that I don't like.


message 9: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 30, 2015 12:43PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Alias wrote: The 100 Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
fiction
rate: 5/5
This novel is crazy and zany. I loved it..."
--------------
Amy wrote:I have this one in my pile--glad to see you enjoyed it, Alias! ."
==================
I did enjoy his other book more, The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden

However, I gave this a 5/5 rating because the author has such a terrific mind to come up with this wild plot. It's a fun read.

..."


message 10: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Amy wrote: 9. The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes : Historical fiction set in 1946 after WWII has ended, when young women are crossing the seas in the thousands en route to the men they had married in wartime. Four women join 650 other brides on a voyage to England aboard the HMS Victoria. Apparently the book was loosely based on real people who made the trip on the real ship. A fun, quick read. ..."

I'm glad to see you enjoyed it but sad you only gave it 3 stars. I like the authors books but I haven't read this one yet.


message 11: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Amy wrote: Amy’s Pick of the Month:
1. Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson: The story of Pete Snow, a social worker in rural Montana in 1980, and the family of survivalists he comes across who are living in the wilderness. Pete tries to help them-- while at the same time his own life is falling apart. This book is about paranoia and freedom and institutional limitations and forgiveness and finding the fortitude inside you to go on after you’ve experienced tragedy. It is not an easy read – it’s heartbreaking and harsh and horrific. Don’t read this if you need to have happy things happening to happy people, because this is a book where horrible things happen. But it’s compelling and breath-taking and the writing is stunning. 4.5/5 stars."


Thank you. Adding it to my TBR notebook !


message 12: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 30, 2015 12:50PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Mkfs wrote: Might give Franny and Zoey a re-read as well. ..."

I read Franny and Zooey and enjoyed it. I gave it a 3/5 rating. Which is a solid read for me.


message 13: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Emma wrote: "Revolutionary Road - 5/5
I loved this - not because the Wheelers are a particularly lovable couple, or because it's a happy story, but I found it to be surprisingly relatable and relev..."


I own a copy but have not read it yet. I'm happy to see gave it a top rating.


message 14: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 30, 2015 12:52PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Emma wrote: Me Before You - 4/5
This one covers a tough and fiercely debated topic, but I thought it was handled well and was a page-turning read."


I loved this book !


message 15: by Amy (last edited Apr 30, 2015 04:14PM) (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments Alias--you know I'm very harsh with my rating system. I rarely ever give a 5-star rating unless I feel the book is simply breathtaking and truly amazing; is both incredibly well written AND has an engaging plot; one I will remember long after I've finished it; and one that I will give as gifts to everyone on my Christmas list (I think I've granted only one book that select rating in the past two or three years). So 3- and 4-stars mean that I enjoyed the books enough to recommend them and/or consider them worth my time to have read. Two stars means I wouldn't recommend reading it. And one star means...well, that it was "50 Shades of Grey." ;)


message 16: by madrano (new)

madrano | 10338 comments Amy wrote: ABOUT NEVER LET ME GO-- " I found it to be both brilliantly written and excruciatingly boring at the same time. I didn't even know such a thing was possible. ..."

Amy, your words have called to many of us here. I'm grateful for the way you phrased it. I like his work & thought Remains of the Day was good, although, to be fair, i had seen the film & liked it, so may have been reading it through those eyes, so to speak.

Emma, your comment on Bill Maher's book sounds like most of his books. I read them because our outlook is similar and i often laugh aloud...however, i also cringe at some of his stories & conclusions. Regardless, i wasn't aware he had a new book out, so thank you for that info.

Great to see titles i know listed, as well as some new tempting ones. Of the books listed that i've read, the only one i just didn't like was History of Love. I finished it and know many who liked it but i just wasn't glad to have read it.

I'm hoping to finish one more book today, so will hold off until tomorrow before sharing my April list.


message 17: by Carol (last edited May 03, 2015 03:38PM) (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments APRIL 2015 READS

✔ 1. Black & White by Dani Shapiro Black & White by Dani Shapiro- 5 stars.
Review: A famous artist, Ruth Dunne, renowned, controversial photographer expressed her art by photographing unsettling images of nude, young girls, daughter Clara, who at 18 moves to Maine, and marries a loving husband. Ruth has cancer, and asks for Clara, and older sister, Robin, to come see her on her deathbed. The ending shows how Clara and Robin can get along; together they do what is best for their mother; and Clara's daughter, Sammy, came for the first time to spend time with her grandmother. Ruth and her 'girls' & take a trip to the art museum, so Ruth can share them her life's work. Time spent, memories made.

✔ 2. Family History by Dani Shapiro Family History by Dani Shapiro- 5 stars.
Review: The story of Rachel and Ned Jenson with their daughter, Kate, move from Greenwich Village to a small town in Massachusetts, where Ned's parents reside with a successful real estate business. Rachel gives birth to a baby boy, Josh; and Kate begins her scary, adolescent years fighting with deep, dark emotions; she also disrespected her parents and even her peers. Instead she turns to destroying herself by cutting; her jealously of her new brother allowed her to drop him on his head which required hospitalization; and Kate also making up terrible stories and telling lies about her sexual relationship with her father (which was not true.)

✔ 3. Still Writing The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro-- 4 stars.
Shapiro's viewpoint on writing from those who don't have a MFA, writing group or a mentor.

✔ 4. Kinder Than Solitude by Yiyun Li Kinder Than Solitude by Yiyun Li- 4 stars.
Review: It took me awhile to get into this book. This is a story of a quiet examination of how the death of a close friend, under suspicious and unconfirmed circumstances, impacts three young people as they grow into adulthood. The book alternates among the three characters and goes back and forth between the present and past, until we see, near the end, the events leading up to the poisoning of the deceased friend. The chapters dealing with the present show how these teens, now adults, are coping through the choices they have made in their lives. All have failed marriages. All are dealing with self-isolation of one sort or another.

✔ 5. Jane Austen and Her Times, 1775 - 1817 by Geraldine Edith Mitton Jane Austen and Her Times, 1775 - 1817 by Geraldine Edith Mitton --5 stars.
Review: Almost two hundred years after her death, Jane Austen is herself a fascinating character. The woman who sardonically captured Victorian womanhood in such novels as Sense and Sensibility (1811) and Pride and Prejudice (1813). Austen's characters are so splendidly drawn, perhaps, because she wrote of what she knew. I liked Austen's early writings, and even her notebooks of early stories that demonstrated that Jane was clearly a unique writer during a time when most men dominated this genre.

✔ 6. And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini -- 5 stars.
This novel begins in 1952 as a father recites a bed time story to his young son and daughter during an overnight trek across the Afghanistan desert on their way to Kabul. The tale, we soon learn, tells the truth of the father's journey for desperation to provide for his new wife and growing family. The father has agreed to sell his daughter to a wealthy couple, unable to bear their own in a deal brokered by their valet, his brother. The separation of the brother and sister, Abdullah and Pari, provides the catalyst for Hosseini to share several stories, within a larger arc, that explore the bonds of family and love, and the devastation of separation and loss. Beautiful writing!

✔ 7. My Father, Mark Twain by Clara Clemens--5 stars.
Review: I can't believe I found this book at goodwill, in mint condition, published in 1931 by Harper & Brothers Publishers, written by his daughter talking about her family life with her father, Mark Twain. It is a beautiful book, well written, and published by Clara (Clemens Gabrilowitsch), including beautiful photographs of her family in CT. Clara was the second daughter born to Samuel Langhorne Clemens and Olivia Langdon. Her education included home schooling in her younger years; public high school in Hartford, Connecticut; and, later, a boarding school in Berlin. In 1895 Clara accompanied her famous father on his "around-the-world lecture tour."In 1896,the entire family moved to Vienna, Austria so Clara could study piano. Eventually gave up the piano for opera in Austria, where she met her future husband, Ossip Gabrilowitsch, a Russian pianist in Vienna. The book is focused on their family life: a few chapter titles such as -- The father of three little girls"; "Moods in letters""The Clemens Temper"; 'Christmas'; "Family Days in Paris"; "The Sea", "Australia, and New Zealand"; "India"; "South African Wanderings"; "Back to England"; "Leschetitzky and Vienna"; "Mark Twain and Fame"; "Family Life in New York"; "Working Days in New York"; and "A Degree from Oxford"; "One April Evening."

✔ 8. Book of Phoebe by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith Book of Phoebe by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith-- 4 stars.
Review: Remember that this was published in 1985 when everything was very different from today. The main character, Phoebe Desmond, is a gifted woman, a senior at Yale. She discovered that she is pregnant, and has no desire to keep the baby after its birth. Instead, Phoebe makes arrangements with her childhood friend, Marlys. Phoebe flies to Paris, and moves in with her longtime friend, Marlys (who is very wealthy from dancing.) Phoebe only wants to stay at Marlys until the birth, and then to fly back home with her secret. As she moves in and empties her luggage, she discovers Ben. He is handsome, independently wealthy, an artist, and he falls in love with Phoebe. The baby is born healthy and Phoebe is completely determined to go home, and share her time with her mom who also can relate.

✔ 9. Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat Claire of the Sea Light by Edwidge Danticat -- 4 stars.
Review: Set in Haiti, Claire's mother died giving birth to her, she now lives alone with her father in a little Haitian shack by the sea. Nozias, her father, knows that he is incapable of raising a daughter alone, and on each of her last two birthdays he has tried to give her away to a better home, and he hopes, to a better life. Finally, on Claire's seventh birthday, a wealthy woman has agreed to take Claire home with her. Claire, despite knowing that such a day was inevitable, does not react well to the news and runs away before she can be handed off to her new mother. The book is divided into two sections. Each part consisting of four stories from people in Claire's neighborhood. Some of them she knows well; some she has never met.

✔ 10. Spilling the Beans Cooking and Baking with Beans and Grains Every Day by Julie Van Rosendaal Spilling the Beans: Cooking and Baking with Beans and Grains Every Day by Julie Van Rosendaal -- 5 stars.
Review: This book focuses on pairing beans with grains in a variety of recipes like morning muffins; granola; 5 ways to make hummus; roasted chickpeas; hand pies with sun dried tomatoes; lentils,and feta; corn and black beans burrito; and Lentil Walnut burgers; and much more. I am trying to keep my mind on the amounts of salt and sugar (want lower amounts). Also provide high fibre, fiber, protein, and other essential nutrients.

✔ 11. Something Blue by Emily Giffin Something Blue by Emily Giffin--5 stars.
Review: First I don't usually read YA books like this one. But I have to say that I couldn't put it down. The main character's attitude was horrendous, and I had to see if this self-centered character was determined to be this way throughout the narrative. This woman, Darcy, believed that she was the most important person in the world. Everyone and everything was under Darcy's command. But when she treated everyone like crap, and alienated her friends, she discovered that she had to flee to London to see her grade-school friend, Ethan. In the ending chapters, Darcy's trip to London changed her viewpoint. She had to start from the bottom to make decisions that would help her, instead of borrowing money from others or using friends. The book turned out better than I thought it would.

✔ 12. The Longest Journey by E.M. Forster The Longest Journey by E.M. Forster- 3 stars.
Review: I've read ALL of Forster's writing, but I found this book was lacking. Where is the exotic in this novel? This book seems very flat and sad. Well, this was his second book! His focus was living on the land. Yet the countryside is blighted by the freight trains that repeatedly claim lives as they tramp in the landscape. And it’s sad, the way the disadvantage were treated terribly.

✔ 13. Three Junes by Julia Glass Three Junes by Julia Glass-- 4 stars.
Review: NOT an easy read. Second, I felt that the characters were very real. The writing is just beautiful . . . It's not just a story about three important summers; or of three generations; and their stories in New York during the era of AIDS. It is really about the fragility of life.

✔ 14. A Great Unrecorded History A New Life of E. M. Forster by Wendy Moffat A Great Unrecorded History: A New Life of E. M. Forster by Wendy Moffat--5 stars.
This is a great biography of E. M. Forster's life, where his gay lifestyle is revealed. One reviewed stated that his first biography, written a number of years ago, stated that Forster came across as a sort of weak mama's boy. But, obviously, that was not the truth.


message 18: by Amy (last edited Apr 30, 2015 04:18PM) (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments madrano wrote: " Of the books listed that i've read, the only one i just didn't like was History of Love. I finished it and know many who liked it but i just wasn't glad to have read it. ..."

Deb, I expected more from it, based on the rave reviews I had heard from people here on the boards, my boss, and others. I liked it well enough to have finished it, but I didn't love it. There were parts where I thought the writing was really good, and other parts where it annoyed me. In fact, if you ask me in 6 months to summarize the plot, I probably won't be able to. But if someone asked me if they should read it, I'd tell them to give it a go. (And therein pretty much lies my personal rationale for a 3-star rating. ;)


message 19: by Amy (last edited May 01, 2015 07:13AM) (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments Carol, I too loved "And the Mountains Echoed." As well as all of Khaled Hosseini's other books -- I don't think he has it in him to write something crappy.

Re: Mary-Ann Tirone Smith: I think I read her memoir -- Girls of Tender Age: A Memoir about growing up in Hartford in the 1950s. I remember it as a fairly decent read.


message 20: by Petra (new)

Petra | 1004 comments Amy wrote: "4. A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny : When I read a book by Louise Penny, the mystery itself is almost beside the point. I read her books for the realistic dialogue and the characters who feel like real people to me--flaws and all. In this outing, I was drawn to the background details of Gamache's and Peter's histories, and how alike/different their childhoods were. And how that shaped their characters. By the end, I didn't really care who killed the victim, but I knew more about Armand Gamache as a man. And that made me happy.
..."


I agree, Amy. The biggest pleasure in this series is getting to know the characters and thinking of them as friends.


message 21: by Petra (new)

Petra | 1004 comments Carol wrote: "10. Spilling the Beans: Cooking and Baking with Beans and Grains Every Day by Julie Van Rosendaal -- 5 stars.
Review: This book focuses on pairing beans with grains in a variety of recipes like morning muffins; granola; 5 ways to make hummus; roasted chickpeas; hand pies with sun dried tomatoes; lentils,and feta; corn and black beans burrito; and Lentil Walnut burgers; and much more. I am trying to keep my mind on the amounts of salt and sugar (want lower amounts). Also provide high fibre, fiber, protein, and other essential nutrients.
..."


Love this cookbook! I use it quite often and every recipe has been tasty so far.


message 22: by Petra (new)

Petra | 1004 comments Thanks for all the great book recommendations!

In April I read:

The Search Warrant by Patrick Modiano - a man comes across an old newspaper clipping (30+ years old) about a missing girl and he wonders what happened to this girl in the war. He tries to find her through her records and the newspaper but finds that many records were destroyed and that she virtually disappears. He then reflects and finds other cases of people who were erased during the war by the loss of their records, lives, identities. An interesting way of portraying the events of the Holocaust: looking for the disappeared who's stories were all but erased from time. Very touching.

Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan - Once started, I had to keep reading to find out what happens to these children. What a wonderful story! It's so full of positive and hopeful actions.

China Dolls by Lisa See - a story about beauty, fame and who has more of these attributes. It's competition in life, career, popularity. The story come across as rather superficial. I enjoyed it but it's not Lisa See's best.

On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry - Lovely. Lilly Bere tells her story, looking back on her 89 years, in the 17 days after the burial of her grandson. This is a sad story that says much more than Lilly is telling. I really enjoyed Lilly's voice, her outlook, her lovely descriptions & observations.

My Name Was Judas by C.K. Stead - An interesting look at Jesus' life & ministry as seen through the eyes of Judas, his lifelong friend. Judas tells their story 40 years after the death of Jesus.
C.K. Stead managed to take all the elements of the Biblical story and tell it in a non-miraculous way....an earthly way. The writing is very good.

The Long Way Home by Louise Penny - I highly recommend the series and this book is a necessary part of that. I loved so many of the other books in this series but this book is not a strong one, unfortunately. I am interested in where Penny will take the series next.

The Hangman by Louise Penny - A fun read. Quite different than the other Inspector Gamache books. Personalities are slightly different (colder, more aloof), friendships aren't as warm, being so short the mystery isn't as tense. But still an enjoyable read.

Jacob's Odyssey by Russ Melrose - I quite enjoyed this story. The back says "an apocalyptic thriller with a heart". And it's true, this story has heart. Jake never loses his humanity and sense of compassion.


message 23: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Amy wrote: "Carol, I too loved "And the Mountains Echoed." As well as all of Khaled Hosseini's other books -- I don't think he has it in him to write something crappy."

His writing is beautiful.


message 24: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Petra wrote: "Carol wrote: "10. Spilling the Beans: Cooking and Baking with Beans and Grains Every Day by Julie Van Rosendaal -- 5 stars.
Review: This book focuses on pairing beans with grains in a variety of re..."


I made carrot cupcakes that came out delicious! The secret was to grate organic carrots and also grate an apple with the skin.


message 25: by Carol (new)

Carol (goodreadscomcarolann) | 830 comments Petra wrote: "Thanks for all the great book recommendations!

In April I read:

The Search Warrant by Patrick Modiano - a man comes across an old newspaper clipping (30+ years old) about a missi..."


I read On Canaan's Side awhile back, I like his writing.


message 26: by Petra (new)

Petra | 1004 comments Carol wrote: "I made carrot cupcakes that came out delicious! The secret was to grate organic carrots and also grate an apple with the skin.
..."


Yummy!
I like the Shepherds Pie with lentils and beany mashed potatoes.


message 27: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Amy wrote: "Alias--you know I'm very harsh with my rating system. I rarely ever give a 5-star rating unless I feel the book is simply breathtaking and truly amazing; is both incredibly well written AND has an ..."

:) Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes back on my TBR.


message 28: by Libyrinths (new)

Libyrinths | 100 comments Amy, you did nail it on Never Let Me Go. I really loved his first two novels which take place in Japan: A Pale View of Hills and An Artist of the Floating World.

And thanks, Emma, for the reminder that I want to read Revolutionary Road, which I think madrano brought to my attention a few years back. Glad to see you liked it so much, which means I have to move it higher up on the stack!


message 29: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Amy wrote: 10. The History of Love by Nicole Krauss : This complicated tale unfolds from the point of view of no fewer than four narrators: an elderly man, Leo; a teen girl, Alma; her prepubescent brother, Bird; and a third-person omniscient narrator. Each has a story arc that intertwines with the others in both expected and unexpected ways. The narrative pulls you along, as does the writing style, which is fairly good. ..."

Deb and I have agreed to disagree on History Of Love. :)

I really like this book a lot.


message 30: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments As always, congratulations on a terrific reading month, Carol. I also very much enjoyed reading your reviews.


message 31: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Petra wrote:My Name Was Judas by C.K. Stead - An interesting look at Jesus' life & ministry as seen through the eyes of Judas, his lifelong friend. Judas tells their story 40 years after the death of Jesus.
C.K. Stead managed to take all the elements of the Biblical story and tell it in a non-miraculous way....an earthly way. The writing is very good.."


Nice month and reviews, Petra !

This books approach sounds similar to one I read, The Testament of Mary-Colm Tóibín. I found it interesting.


message 32: by Amy (last edited May 01, 2015 07:12AM) (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments Petra, I'm with you on "Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal." I read that about a year ago when our local libray was hosting a series of seminars about human trafficking, and I thought it was very good as well.

And I'm glad to see that the rest of the Louise Penny books are decent reads as I continue to make my way through the series! Next up for me is #5. Also, "The Search Warrant" looks good -- thanks for the heads up on that one.


message 33: by Emma (new)

Emma (elpryan) | 168 comments Carol wrote: "Something Blue by Emily Giffin--5 stars. "

Holy moly, what a list, Carol! And mostly 4-5 stars, too.

I liked Something Borrowed a little better than Something Blue, but I thought these were both fun to read. Darcy certainly was a piece of work. :)

Everyone's been raving so much about Spilling the Beans, I'm going to have to check out a copy!


message 34: by madrano (new)

madrano | 10338 comments So many titles! Carol, thanks for the comments on the Clemons book. What a find for you, both literary & thrift-wise. Lucky find.

Amy, i liked the way you boiled down your 3-star rating. I am hesitant to ever recommend a book, to be honest. A person has to already like the topic before i do so. AND i couch it with all my warnings, it's amazing anyone ever reads a book i mention. :-)

Petra, the Patrick Modiano book sounds very good. I like reading old, old newspapers & often find myself wondering about such stories. Was the child found? What happened next? Etc. I'm going to seek out that book, as well as Russ Melrose's post-apocalyptic story. That the author was once a letter carrier appeals, too.

Those food items sound good.


message 35: by madrano (new)

madrano | 10338 comments Books i read last month.

-The Story of Architecture by Jonathan Glancey. It was a fine start, although i wanted more, of course. He began the story with caves and dirt-homes, as should be done. By the end i felt i had a sense of progression in the field.

-The Thief by Fuminori Nakamura. Late last year i read & really liked his Last Winter We Parted, so wanted to read more. This story is about a pickpocket in Japan and how his year progresses, the people he remembers & meets and a web of some intrigue. Good story but not nearly as good as his latest. I intend to read more by him.

-The Door by Magda Szabó, mentioned on this board, probably March Reads thread. I liked it very much but wished i knew more about Hungary, as some proper names/events could have confused me. It's the story of a writer & her friendship (even she wasn't sure) with the woman who cleaned her home, as well as kept the neighborhood tidy. Good story.

-Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, mentioned by Amy in the Australian Tournament of Books. I liked this story very much & appreciated that the author addressed things i hadn't considered about the post-apocalyptic years. The story follows five people and the way their lives may or may not intertwine.

-Zachary Taylor: Soldier, Planter, Statesman of the Old Southwest by K. Jack Bauer. Part of my chronological Presidential Bio reading. It is astounding this man was elected president. As mentioned on another thread, from Mkfs, he never voted (it's not even sure he voted for himself!), was apolitical (believing, as did Thomas Jefferson, that parties were the downfall of democracy) and didn't understand the politics of Washington society, let alone congress. So little material is available from his own hand, that it's not clear if the portrayals of him as a noncreative and intellectually vapid person were accurate. If he was that poor ad administrator, at least he did no harm. In all, i was frustrated by this book. As noted elsewhere, the details of fort dimensions were unneeded but by the end, from the Texas station (1840s) on were well written. At the end, however, readers learn that Taylor may have appeared to lack mental agility due to an "unfortunate speech pattern". Shouldn't that have been mentioned before the second to the last paragraph in the book???


message 36: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments madrano wrote:
-Zachary Taylor: Soldier, Planter, Statesman of the Old Southwest by K. Jack Bauer. Part of my chronological Presidential Bio reading. It is astounding this man was elected president. As mentioned on another thread, from Mkfs, he never voted (it's not even sure he voted for himself!), was apolitical (believing, as did Thomas Jefferson, that parties were the downfall of democracy) and didn't understand the politics of Washington society, let alone congress. So little material is available from his own hand, that it's not clear if the portrayals of him as a noncreative and intellectually vapid person were accurate. If he was that poor ad administrator, at least he did no harm. In all, i was frustrated by this book. As noted elsewhere, the details of fort dimensions were unneeded but by the end, from the Texas station (1840s) on were well written. At the end, however, readers learn that Taylor may have appeared to lack mental agility due to an "unfortunate speech pattern". Shouldn't that have been mentioned before the second to the last paragraph in the book???
."


Thanks for sharing, deb. It's cool that you've picked up titles from other BNC members. Love it !

As for Taylor, it's really difficult to find good bios of some of the lesser known presidents. Sad.

Did the author elaborate on what his "unfortunate speech pattern" was?

Interesting this website (audio) says he was a distant relative of FDR.
http://www.powerfulwords.info/speeche...

It also notes "This well-known Presidential speech by Zachary Taylor, famed for its powers of verbal and oral communication, makes excellent use of the words and language. Use of native tongue of Zachary Taylor within the speech makes it powerful and relevant to historic occasions. A persuasive, motivational and inspirational speech by Zachary Taylor. An American President's speech, such as those by Zachary Taylor can contain various subjects and topics ranging from inaugural, farewell, ceremonial, tribute, acceptance and commemorative but each President speech is informative. The celebrated Zachary Taylor had excellent powers of oration which are highlighted forever in History by the Zachary Taylor Speech - Inaugural Address. "

That seems at odds with what the author of your book wrote.


message 37: by madrano (last edited May 02, 2015 12:41PM) (new)

madrano | 10338 comments Wow, it sure is a different angle. Here's what K. Jack Bauer wrote, "One of the reasons that caused Taylor's contemporaries to question his mental agility was an unfortunate speech pattern which caused him to hesitate when speaking and amounted almost to a stammer. One contemporary described his delivery as a 'terse, sententious style...never diffuse or demonstrative, and [he] wasted o words upon any body.' All of this appears to have been intensified when he was angry, when he is often described as sputtering with rage."

As i noted, this was the second to the last paragraph in the entire book. Prior to this his anger issues were discussed but never with a mention of what's mentioned above. Taylor was not known for his speeches and, indeed, didn't speak as often as most presidents at official events, his inauguration being an exception. By the end of this book, i still wasn't sure if he was misunderstood (& he was kinda okay with that, as he often wanted to appear to be without an opinion) or if he wasn't particularly adept as a politician.

Thank you for that link, i'm going to check into it right away...
Back! As you may have noted, this inaugural speech only expressed what is basically in the Constitution. Even once he was President he had no real agenda, so set out no plans for achievements toward which his administration would strive. He truly believed that Congress was the people & that legislation & programs & laws should come from the people. Curious guy, i must say.


message 38: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Thanks for the further explanation, deb.

I have to start back to working on my Presidents DL.


message 39: by Gjscollins (new)

Gjscollins | 27 comments I have Dead Wake and Missoula on hold at the library! I'm so happy to hear you liked them so much! Can't wait for them to come in!

Amy wrote: "In general, April was a decent month with some good reads. Books I completed this month:

Amy’s Pick of the Month:
1. Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson: The ..."



message 40: by Gjscollins (new)

Gjscollins | 27 comments Orphan Train 4 Stars

I loved this book for the information. Sometimes when I read about a topic I knew nothing about, I get very engrossed in the information rather than if the writing was good or not. Overall, I couldn't put this book down.

Beyond Belief: My Secret Life Inside Scientology and My Harrowing Escape 5 stars

I loved this book since it was written from someone close to the higher rankings of Scientology. I knew very little about Scientology prior to reading the book-the things you see/hear on tv is about the extent of it. I didn't know the inner workings of it and how strongly brain-washed the members really are. Do I believe she probably embellished some in the book? Sure but I do believe that the skeleton of the book is true. I think the 5 stars probably came from the knowledge I got from it and the fact it read well and kept my interest. You knew she got out but how/when/why kept me reading.

I skipped around trying to read several other books this month and failed. Rosie Effect didn't grab me, Underground Girls of Kabul isn't grabbing me. I'm reading The Last Campaign: Robert F Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America-wonderful book. I love it but it reads very slow. I am also enjoying Destiny of the Republic-about James Garfield. Excellent but slower read as well.


message 41: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Gjscollins wrote: "Orphan Train 4 Stars

I loved this book for the information. Sometimes when I read about a topic I knew nothing about, I get very engrossed in the information rather than if the wri..."


Yesterday I was checking out the amazon bestseller list and I noted in my TBR notebook that I need to read this book. It was already on my list but I made a note to try and read it this year.

I'm glad to see you enjoyed it.


message 42: by Mkfs (last edited May 03, 2015 10:07AM) (new)

Mkfs | 189 comments Another busy month without a lot of time for pleasure reading. Here's what I got through:

Report on Probability a by Brian Aldiss. A one-star novel if ever there was one. The gimmick is that you are reading the excruciatingly dull report of an observer watching an alternate universe. There is an attempt to affect a sort of timelessness, so that objects or people are described every time they appear as if they have never been seen before. This makes the book dull and repetitive in a way that actual reports never are. I get that this was intentional, and I get that Aldiss was trying to make a point by adopting this technique (much like the avant-garde director in Clash of Egos wants to make sure "the audience knows they are watching a film"), but that doesn't make the book worth reading.

Notes from the Underground & The Gambler is one that I am sure needs no introduction. I re-read it as part of a reading group. It seems even more silly now than it did when I read it in my 20s.

Control by William Goldman. Goldman is a bit of a hack, but he does write entertaining novels. The premise of this is that a Shadowy Government Agency has found a way to use psychics to take over the minds of people in the past. How this could be at all useful is really not addressed, but there's a nice cold war joke about the Russians getting there first. I'd say three stars for the telling of a one-star idea.

Good To Be God by Tibor Fischer. I always enjoy Tibor Fischer's writing, and this book is no exception. The only problem is that there's really nothing to this book: no real plot, not much of a character study, just a kind of aimless puttering about in Miami. Because of the character, and because of Miami, this works well, but it makes the book rather difficult to recommend. So, three stars it is.


message 43: by madrano (new)

madrano | 10338 comments Gjscollins, it sounds as though you had a good reading month. Your ending comment about sludging through some books sounds about right. At least the ones you complete have been worth the effort.

Mkfs, i'd not heard of Tibor Fischer until this post & the one about books purchased. His books sound interesting.


message 44: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 17726 comments Mkfs wrote:
Notes from the Underground & The Gambler is one that I am sure needs no introduction. I re-read it as part of a reading group. It seems even more silly now than it did when I read it in my 20s..."


Thanks for sharing Mkfs !

Sorry you didn't have any big winners. Here's hoping May will bring you lots of Great Reads.

I read Notes from Underground & The Double and like you was underwhelmed. I know some rave over it.


message 45: by Amy (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments madrano wrote: "Books i read last month.

--Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, mentioned by Amy in the Australian Tournament of Books. I liked this story very much & appreciated that the author addressed things i hadn't considered about the post-apocalyptic years. The story follows five people and the way their lives may or may not intertwine. .."



I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed "Station Eleven," Deb! It seems that people either really like it or really don't. I was enthralled by Mandel's descriptions of a post-apocalyptic world juxtaposed by the scenes from life before the flu pandemic. It really brought into sharp focus all that we have to lose, and that we should be grateful for. It was one of my favorite reads for 2014. And, as you pointed out, it won the Morning News Tournament of Books this year!


message 46: by Amy (new)

Amy (amybf) | 514 comments Gjscollins wrote: "I'm reading The Last Campaign: Robert F Kennedy and 82 Days That Inspired America-wonderful book. I love it but it reads very slow. I am also enjoying Destiny of the Republic-about James Garfield. Excellent but slower read as well. ..."


I hear you on that. My husband is reading The Last of the Mohicans right now, and he has said the exact same thing -- it's an excellent read but one that you have to read slowly to really absorb. Take your time and immerse yourself! :)


message 47: by Emma (new)

Emma (elpryan) | 168 comments Gjscollins wrote: "Orphan Train 4 Stars

I loved this book for the information. Sometimes when I read about a topic I knew nothing about, I get very engrossed in the information rather than if the wri..."


I felt the same about this one - very compelling, educational, and satisfying read. Glad you enjoyed.


message 48: by Emma (new)

Emma (elpryan) | 168 comments madrano wrote: "Books i read last month.

-Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel"


Glad you enjoyed. This is on my TBR since it beat All The Light You Cannot See, and I really enjoyed that one.


message 49: by madrano (new)

madrano | 10338 comments Some people could be put off by the jumping around in time of Station Eleven. However, i was never confused about who was speaking & which time, as can sometimes be the case in such fare. Like you, Amy, the pre- & post-apocalypse chapters were well done.

Every time i read one of James Fenimore Cooper's The Leatherstocking Tales, i try take my time. It's not just the rich expressions uttered by Bumppo and the descriptions of the land traveled but also, naturally, the way he develops the stories. One can see why they were so popular in his day.


message 50: by Susan from MD (new)

Susan from MD | 402 comments Just popping back in after not being engaged for a while. Great to read about all the books being read - so many interesting titles.

My April included three books:

The Age of Innocence - 4/5 stars
I enjoyed the book but it wasn't my favorite. I wasn't particularly engaged by the characters or in the story. However, I did enjoy the writing and the overall descriptions - Wharton has a great way of poking the social mores to show the ridiculous without being too snarky or nasty about it!

The Time Machine - 3.5/5 stars
So much potential for exploring big issues (socioeconomic classes, science and technology, etc.) but it seemed to only touch on these topics. It was an interesting ride, but could have been great.

Red Harvest - 4/5 stars
By far the most interesting of the three - it was a fascinating exploration of corruption in an isolated town. I really enjoyed this one, despite a high body count by the end.

There are more comments on all of these in my Determination List thread.


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