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Monthly "Reads" > Shomeret's Feb Reads 1/2

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message 1: by Shomeret (new)

Shomeret | 1380 comments I'm playing hooky from library school tonight to post my reads. I had two A rated M/Ts!

1)The Ghost of Hannah Mendes by Naomi Ragen (Jewish fantasy) 378 pages. Source: Library Started: 2/1 Finished: 2/5

Why Read: I've read earlier books by this author and like the way she deals with unconventional Jewish women. This one's a ghost.

Comments: The ghost doesn't appear very much, but the book is about her descendants searching for her memoirs with extracts appearing at various points. There were things I liked and disliked about each of the characters. But I did like Hannah Mendes most of all. It surprised me how much I enjoyed this book. Without the ghost and the memoir excerpts, I wouldn't go for a plot like this. The search for the memoirs wouldn't interest me in itself. But it was very well contexted. I was reminded of the fact that my maternal grandmother's family is mysterious. I have been unable to discover where they really come from. Rating for this novel B+

2)Exit Music by Ian Rankin (mystery) 530 pages. Source: Independent Bookstore Started: 2/5 Finished: 2/7

Why Read: My F2F group selected this book for March. It looked like it might interest me. The victim is a Russian dissident poet and it takes place in Scotland. It is the last of the Inspector Rebus series.

Comments: The woman who runs the F2F group apologized for bringing us in at the end of the Rebus series. That would only matter if Rebus interested me, and he didn't. The only characters that interested me were the victims. The Russian poet had a great moment with a Robert Burns poem. But there wasn't enough of that sort of fun. There also weren't enough Scottish cultural elements to give it a sense of place. This book could easily have taken place in the U.S. or England with few changes. So I'm giving this a B-

3)Drawing Down the Spirits: The Traditions and Techniques of Spirit Possession by Kenaz Filan and Raven Kaldera (theology) 323 pages. Source: Library Started: 2/7 Finished: 2/12

Why Read: This is a book that discusses trance possession primarily in the United States in various types of communities. This is a subject of tremendous interest to me.

Comments: This book's discussion of polytheism vs. archetypism got me thinking about my own theological influences. I found the book thought provoking and insightful, though I thought that some general statements apply more to the East Coast where both the authors are based, than they do to the West Coast. I'll rate this book A. I really want to read more by Raven Kaldera.

4)Johanna by Clare Cooperstein (historical fiction) 270 pages. Source: Library Started: 2/12 Finished: 2/13

Why Read: JoAnn on Readers and Reading recommended this book from the perspective of Van Gogh's sister in law. I thought that might be an interesting book to compare to my recent read Sunflowers by Sheramy Bundrick.

Comments: It was a pleasant surprise to learn that Johanna, Theo Van Gogh's wife, was a feminist activist in addition to all the things she did to help establish Van Gogh as an artist. I find Cooperstein's explanation of what was wrong with the Van Gogh brothers persuasive. I realized that I did miss descriptions. This is an epistolary novel (written in letters) so there's relatively little description. Since I often skip over long descriptions, I was surprised to find that I wanted to see more description in this book. This was especially the case when Johanna speaks of the Dutch village of Laren as being beautiful without any details. Rating B+

5)Young Will: The Confessions of William Shakespeare by Bruce Cook (historical fiction) 407 pages. Source: Amazon Started: 2/14 Finished: 2/15

Why Read: This is by a deceased author who is best known for the mysteries he wrote under the pseudonym Bruce Alexander about a blind magistrate who founded The Bow Street Runners. I found out about this book because I was interested in a novel from the perspective of Horatio from Hamlet. A reviewer of that book, recommended this one. I bought them both, but read this one first.

Comments: I can't say this isn't well written, but I considered it a nasty book. I think that the Shakespeare Bruce Cook shows us is despicable. I wouldn't blame him for behaving pragmatically except that he becomes self-righteous about his more atrocious actions. I consider him a hypocrite as well as a coward. But the law of karma did eventually pay him back after the events of this book. Rating B-

To Be Continued


message 2: by Carol/Bonadie (new)

Carol/Bonadie (bonadie) | 8053 comments Shom, I was interested in your comments about Exit Music by Ian Rankin. I would have balked at reading the last in any series but then I'm a RIO diehard. Your comments made perfect sense.

I've only read a couple of Rankin's but your comment about this one not giving enough details about Edinburgh to give you a sense of place made me think back to the two I've read. Not sure, but I will be looking for this in the next few I read.


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