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Pick-a-Shelf: Monthly -Archive > 2010-09 - Latin America - Post September Reviews Here

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message 1: by Slayermel (new)

Slayermel | 664 comments What did you read for September's Latin America shelf.
Excellent suggestion Susan :0)


message 2: by Nathan (new)

Nathan Hey Mel, I'm having trouble finding a good Latin America book to read for the month =( Please save me!!!


message 3: by Slayermel (new)

Slayermel | 664 comments Hi Nathan, go to this link http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/3... , some of the other members have come up with some great ideas for books to read. At the top it also show's the links for the Goodreads shelves, you can sort through it and see what grabs your interest. Good luck!


message 4: by Susan (new)

Susan | 3405 comments Mod
With Amy & Sara's encouragement I finally got back to
The House on Mango Street, and liked it much better than when I'd tried to read it in the past. my review here


message 5: by Lahni (new)

Lahni | 638 comments I'm starting my Sept read: The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon. I just finished a book that made me want to gouge my eyes out. I had to force myself to finish it. I hope this is better. I really need a good read right now.


message 6: by Susan (new)

Susan | 3405 comments Mod
Gary Soto is a Mexican-American who grew up in Fresno, CA, and has written for both children and young adults. I wanted to explore some of his work. The children's books I found were Too Many Tamales, Chato's Kitchen, and The Old Man & His Door. My favorite was The Old Man & His Door, a cute & silly story about an old man who brought a door (la puerta) to a barbeque instead of a pig (el puerco), and all the things that happened to him on his way. I also liked Chato's Kitchen, about a cat who invites a family of mice to dinner.
Soto worked with a different illustrator for each book, so there's variety among the three books. I like how he sprinkles appropriate Spanish words in among the English -- it would make these books good choices for bilingual children. Those two are definitely going on my list of books to buy for my grandkids.


message 7: by BJ Rose (new)

BJ Rose (bjrose) | 234 comments Finding Miracles by Julia Alvarez - 3.5*

This YA book tells Milly's story as she deals with her feelings about being adopted. She is a loved member of a close and caring family, and has always known that she was adopted as a baby from an orphanage, but her feelings of abandonment by her birth parents affect her emotionally and physically - until a new student in her school (who just happens to be from her country of birth), and a visit to that country help her in finding little miracles all around her.


message 8: by Nathan (last edited Sep 06, 2010 08:59PM) (new)

Nathan After a little looking around the Latin American shelf, and a read of the reviews from other people, I have decided to read 2666 by Roberto Bolaño. The book is available in two of my cities libraries, unfortunately both are on the other side of town, bit I'll be trying my best to get to them.


message 9: by Renee (new)

Renee (renodsgnr) | 4 comments Lahni wrote: "I'm starting my Sept read: The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon. I just finished a book that made me want to gouge my eyes out. I had to force myself to fi..."


I read this book recently because it was suggested to me by a co-worker.....For me, it was an interesting read in that I was introduced to a new person that I had never before heard of but apparently has stirred up some controversy. I was also intrigued to read about the Amazon since I had been on a trip to Ecuador last summer.
Although there were some dry sections of the book, overall, I feel that I learned something new!

I would be interested in hearing your take on it when you make some good progress in it!


message 10: by LynnB (new)

LynnB | 1602 comments Lahni wrote: "I'm starting my Sept read: The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon...."

I have the same comments as above ... it was very interesting in many ways, but it had some dry sections. But, also like Renee, I felt I learned some things from the book so that was good. I know others who thought it was excellent.


message 11: by Lynne (new)

Lynne (lmsindel) I had listed both Patagonia Revisited and Nowhere Is a Place: Travels in Patagonia on my September list only to find out that the latter is a newer version of the former with color photos added. I decided to read the one with the photos. I would give it 3* as it wasn't so much a story or even a memoir, it turned out to be a speech the authors had given to the National Geographic Society which focused on the lure and mystery Patagonia has always had in the world.

THe speech had many literary refferences about Patagonia which I found interesting, including "Moby Dick" of all things. The photographs were spectacular and only increased my desire to travel there someday. I really do hope to read Chatwick's memoir of his travels in Patagonia which is called (not ironically) "In Patagonia".


message 12: by Tina (new)

Tina | 232 comments I know many of us are reading The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon this month so I won't get into too much detail. I gave it **** stars. I really went back and forth between giving this book a three or a four star rating. What finally tipped the scales was that I remembered many times in the last few days sharing with my husband some little tidbit or another of what I was learning. . . While it's a bit dry in places and probably not going to win any awards, I will remember this book for many years to come. All these things combined make for a pretty good read.


message 13: by BJ Rose (new)

BJ Rose (bjrose) | 234 comments The House on Mango Street is a quick read, but parts of it will stay with you for a long time. It's made up of little snapshots - vignettes - in Esperanza's life growing up in a very poor neighborhood in Chicago. Much of it is written almost like poetry, and creates mind pictures both silly and heart-breakingly sad. You can sense both the hopelessness of some and the dreams others of getting out to a better life. At the end Esperanza says "For the ones I’ve left behind. For the ones who cannot out.”


message 14: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 9 comments I can't remember why, but The Alchemist has been on my list for years. When I noticed other people in this group were planning to read it for Sept, I looked at it again. The author is Brazilian. The story starts in Spain and moves south, so I'm not sure it counts as Latin American?
Anyway, it is a book I wouldn't have otherwise purchased (based on not getting around to it for years) and because of this group I started it.
The story has started out fast and intriguing--the style or conventions are different from much of what I usually read but different in a pleasant way. The main character seems to interact with a god or spiritual guide of some sort. There is much talk about omens and fate-sort of things. A couple times I have felt a little jolted by the main character's habit of recapping his feelings on this fate-stuff for us, but overall, I am willing to go along with what he things and believes (or what happens to be true in the reality of the book).


message 15: by Sunflower (new)

Sunflower | 174 comments Finished The Lacuna which had defeated me on a previous attempt. Worth the read. Not only Latin American, but the second half of the book is in the USA during the McCarthy era.
Now onward-I wonder if I can get 2666 read this month as well!


message 16: by Candiss (new)

Candiss (tantara) I finally finished Amulet by Roberto Bolaño. I gave it 3 stars, but parts of it were more like 3.5 stars.

Here's a link to my review.


message 17: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 9 comments Finished The Alchemist last night. I think this was a good book to read during an illness. I don't mean that as a negative, it just happened that I was ill while reading it. The book was fast and easy to read--easy to follow even if the reader wasn't 100%. It was a quiet, uplifting story and echoed some mindfulness ideas and things from the yoga classes I missed during my illness.


message 18: by Lynne (new)

Lynne (lmsindel) I finished Bless Me, Ultima in one 4 day period, which is very fast for me. I would definitely give it 5*. I highly recommend this book to anyone who hasn't read it.

It is a very spiritual book. It is very well written, the images Rudolfo Anaya conjures with his words are both beautiful and indellible. It is exciting and Anaya uses my favorite literary device, foreshadowing, to great effect.

I loved the contrasts in this novel. The Marez family, loud, wild, free is compared to the sea, the wind, the horses they are so fond of. The Lunas are quiet, introspective and tied to the land and river. THey are farmers and compared to the earth, the moon, the farms they are so good at cultivating. Then there are the religions; the Catholicism and the myth of the Golden Carp, and Ulitma's sprititual path that is somewhere in between.

All along there is Antonio, half Luna and half Marez trying to decide what path he will take in his life. Will he be a farmer or priest and fulfill the wishes of his Luna relatives or will he finally be the son to fulfill his father's dreams of wandering to California? Or yet again, will he choose to follow in the steps of the wise and influential Ultima and become a healer?

I think this book has been deemed a classic because Antonio's journey and decision making are humanly universal. We must all sift through the influences of our childhood, deciding what to keep and what to lay aside, in order to become our own person, a beautiful and unique mix of all those who have helped us to be.


message 19: by Rachel (new)

Rachel | 9 comments (I had to leave off writing quickly yesterday).
Though I rated the book at 4, I don't think it leaves me with any interest in reading another book by this author--or of re-reading this book anytime soon.

The story was simple, enjoyable and fast but it didn't change me or have a real impact on me, I think.


message 20: by Lisa (new)

Lisa I just finished Portrait in Sepia by Isabel Allende - Portrait in Sepia by Isabelle Allende for my Latin America selection. I loved it! 4 stars!
In fact, I would really prefer to give this more of a 4 1/2 stars. Great historical fiction! I loved the characters especially grandmother, "Paulina del Valle". A novel about her exploits could easily stand alone! Wonderful mixing of cultures - 18th century San Francisco Chinatown, Chile, and Europe. I was a little disappointed in the ending, that just seemed to taper off, but otherwise a great read! Now just to decide what to read next!


message 21: by Karen (new)

Karen (karenofthebookworm) The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon****. I really enjoyed this, I found it a very interesting and informative read.


message 22: by Susan (last edited Sep 14, 2010 07:07AM) (new)

Susan | 3405 comments Mod
Continuing my exploration of Gary Soto with some of his young-adult books. I started with Burning Onions, which was a good book but very depressing. my review here


message 23: by Lahni (new)

Lahni | 638 comments I finished The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon - ****

I actually really liked it. Fawcett was a fascinating person and I was surprised how much his story influenced books and movies. I found myself wanting to be an Amazon explorer....almost. I'd love to see the things they saw but I wouldn't want to suffer the way they did.


message 24: by Amy (new)

Amy | 2125 comments I just finished listening to The Alchemist and give it **1/2. Even with Jeremy Irons doing the reading of the audio book version, it didn't really spark my interest. For me it was just okay, but to be fair, I lean toward mysteries and thrillers, so this type of book doesn't appeal to me in general.


message 25: by Karen (last edited Sep 15, 2010 07:53AM) (new)

Karen (karenofthebookworm) 2666 by Roberto Bolano. I'm still reading this but as it is so big I'm going to review it in stages. The book itself is divided into five books so I'll post a review after I've read each part.

The first book is called The Part About The Critics. It is about four critics,three men and one woman, who are united by their obsession with a writer called Archimboldi, nobody knows what this writer looks like or anything else about him. During this part of the story the critics go to various conferences and make some attempts to track down this writer.
So far I have to say this book is not grabbing me. The critics are extremely unlikeable and I don't care if they succeed in tracking down the writer.
I bought this book because on the back it mentions horrifying crimes and while there is a passing reference early in the book to a murder being committed in the town of Santa Teresa in Mexico and towards the end of the first book three of the critics are in Santa Teresa, because they believe that Archimboldi has been there, and they are told that in the last ten years nearly 200 women have been murdered in the area but so far these are the only references to some of the most horrifying crimes of the 20th century.
Right now I'm finding this book really hard going and very disappointing


message 26: by Karen (new)

Karen (karenofthebookworm) 2666 May contain spoilers. Part two of my review.


The second book is called The Part About Amalfitano. It is about a professor called Amalfitano, he is from Chile but at some point in his life moves to Spain where he meets his wife and they have a daughter. His wife leaves two years after their daughter is born and only comes looking for them seven years later to tell them that she is dying. About nine years after this the professor and his daughter move to Mexico so that he can take up a post at the University of Santa Teresa.

The professor is pathetic and unlikeable, he is also now hearing a voice that is claiming to be his dead father.

The most horrifying crimes of the 20th century are still only being mentioned in passing, as an item on the news or as a reason for one of the professor's colleagues and his daughter to get involved in a protest about the lack of progress in the investigation into the murders.

I'm hoping at some point the story will move away from these quite frankly uninteresting and unsympathetic characters and focus on the murders and the victims. Two books down and only another 660 pages to go


message 27: by Arlene (new)

Arlene | 145 comments Today I finished A Summer Life. Gary Soto takes us back to his childhood in Fresno, California from about age 5 till he reached 17. These stories are short vignettes about life in the summer time there.


message 28: by Karen (new)

Karen (karenofthebookworm) 2666 Part three of my review.

Have now finished book three and it is starting to improve. There is more focus on the murders but still no details as to how the victims died.

So far I think that the characters are the biggest problem with this book, I find them uninteresting and unsympathetic and so I'm not interested in their part of the story. I am hoping that the next part of the book which is about the crimes will be an improvement on the previous parts.


message 29: by Susan (new)

Susan | 3405 comments Mod
The Absent City
I found this at one and the same time fascinating but very difficult to read. The author, Ricardo Piglia is a literary descendant of Borges. my review here


message 30: by LynnB (new)

LynnB | 1602 comments Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies
Although I did like much of the book (the descriptive passages and cooking) I didn't find any of the characters totally likable throughout the story ... so why I should rate it a 4, I don't know ... but I did like the story. In this story of magical realism, the author uses cooking, home remedies, passion, family dynamics and a dictatorial mother to tell of a family on a ranch in northern Mexico at the turn of the century. "Tita was literally 'like water for chocolate' -- she was on the verge of boiling over." I didn't understand the title at all until I read that line. Very apt.


message 31: by Allie (new)

Allie (tubeofaim) I read Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende and am now wondering how I never read anything by her before. The book was amazing and Allende really transports her readers to a totally different time and place. She doesn't tell - she shows.

Reminded me of Rain of Gold by Victor Villasenor and Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.


message 32: by onarock (new)

onarock | 107 comments i am reading "the house on mango street" for the sept. latin adventure......

i don't know if i should start a new thread for this or what, but please let me know

i am on pg 37, and read this between/at the same time as my mystery books. now if i were in skool reading this, i would most definately learn something; this is where i need u guys....please help me understand this book

i like the idea of the short stories describing growing up on mango street, i can even relate to quite a bit.......but i am not moved by anything, does this come later? does the book lose something when it is translated to english? does it sound more poetic in spanish?

any insights, revelations, or ideas would be appreciated........thanks

i want to keep reading this book, but if a book does nothing for me, i cannot waste my time and energy on it when there r so many more waiting for me to pick up

k


message 33: by BJ Rose (new)

BJ Rose (bjrose) | 234 comments onarock wrote: "i am reading "the house on mango street" for the sept. latin adventure......

i don't know if i should start a new thread for this or what, but please let me know

i am on pg 37, and read this bet..."


Much of it is told from a child's point of view, and you're probably right about it losing something in the translation. I was impressed with parts, and left sort of ho-hum with others, but I thought it was a worthwhile read. Don't know if this will help or not, but here's my short review


message 34: by onarock (new)

onarock | 107 comments ty, i commented on your short, but very accurate, review......

k


message 35: by Slayermel (new)

Slayermel | 664 comments onarock, you can post what your going to read and your statuses in the "What will you read for September folder", and then in this folder just post your reviews of finished books. I use this folder to update our books read shelf.
I hope that helps for an explanation to your question. :0)
Hope your enjoying your book.


message 36: by Karen (new)

Karen (karenofthebookworm) 2666
Contains spoilers. I've finally finished this, and the only reason I did is because I hate giving up on a book.


Nearly nine hundred pages and I couldn't tell you with any certainty what this book was about. There was something about an author and lots of women being murdered in Mexico, a few of which were committed by the author's nephew. Some of the victims in time honoured tradition were murdered by their boyfriend or husband. Most of the murders are never solved, most of the victims are never identified and the local police couldn't care less even when the vicitms are children.


All in all I fail to see, as usual, why the critics have raved about this. I would not recommend it.


message 37: by Susan (new)

Susan | 3405 comments Mod
Karen wrote: "2666
Contains spoilers. I've finally finished this, and the only reason I did is because I hate giving up on a book.


Nearly nine hundred pages and I couldn't tell you with any c..."


Karen,

Thank you so much for this. I've been putting it off because of its length. Now I'm just going to take it off my TBR altogether. Maybe I'll try something shorter by the same author.


message 38: by onarock (new)

onarock | 107 comments Slayermel wrote: "onarock, you can post what your going to read and your statuses in the "What will you read for September folder", and then in this folder just post your reviews of finished books. I use this folde..."

ty for this.....i will put it in my info files for future reference...

k


message 39: by Luann (new)

Luann (azbookgal) | 1004 comments The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges. 3.5 stars.

The students at my school are studying "main idea" and "facts and details" right now. While reading this, I felt like a student. I believe I get Borges' main idea, but his facts and details leave me a little puzzled. The writing is beautiful, but what does it mean? I do love the concept of the universe as a library - ubiquitous, infinite, and everlasting. I'm giving this 3.5 stars - at least until someone can help me understand those facts and details a bit more?


message 40: by Susan (new)

Susan | 3405 comments Mod
Luann wrote: "The Library of Babel by Jorge Luis Borges. 3.5 stars.

The students at my school are studying "main idea" and "facts and details" right now. While reading this, I felt li..."


Luann,
I have some of those same feelings with almost every Borges story I read. That's why I'm reading Labyrinths at the rate of one story a day, and looking up commentaries about each one before I move on. One reviewer captured my feelings exactly: "The reader finds himself acclaiming with emotion what he doesn’t quite grasp and perhaps doesn’t believe." It probably also helps to know that the question of reality was a central theme of Borges' -- so it's not uncommon for his stories to have "facts and details" that conflict, or are deliberately ambiguous. You might feel better about the story if you read the Wikipedia entry on Borges. It doesn't have much about this particular story, but it does a good job of giving you the context of Borges' life and the rest of his work. Actually, "The Library of Babel" has become one of my favorites.


message 41: by Susan (new)

Susan | 3405 comments Mod
I gave Muchacho by LouAnne Johnson only 2 stars. I wanted to like it better than I did, but it just seemed too simplistic to me. My review here.


message 42: by BJ Rose (new)

BJ Rose (bjrose) | 234 comments I give How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents a reluctant 3*, and I'm still thinking over my review. The reluctance, I think, is because I was expecting so much more than I came away with - or maybe I should say, something more. The four Garcia girls came from a privileged life of entitlement into a middle-class life where they experienced prejudice, so they had a double cultural shock. My problem is that I never felt that they lost their figurative accent (expectations of privilege), and the failures in their lives (drugs, divorces, mental breakdowns) stemmed from that as much as from the change in culture between the countries.

Hmm - if that was what Ms. Alvarez wanted to show, then she was successful!


message 43: by onarock (new)

onarock | 107 comments The House on Mango Street - 2 stars

i liked the writing style, and the short vignettes

i related to some of the material, mostly from stories i have read before, and from my older relatives. glad i read most of it, but i have more to read that i will get more enjoyment out of......

i am glad i did go out of my comfort zone

i am still waiting for the spanish book i ordered from the library, and i will fit this in with next month's read


message 44: by James (last edited Sep 21, 2010 01:26PM) (new)

James (nfwolfboy) | 4 comments The House on Mango Street was really boring there was no real substance and it jumped around a lot which i did not like.


message 45: by Tara (new)

Tara | 742 comments Daughter of Fortune ***1/2

I loved learning more about the culture in Chile though the story. It was also really interesting once Eliza left for California and the Gold Rush. Eliza was a strong protagonist and it had a really eclectic group of characters.


message 46: by Luann (new)

Luann (azbookgal) | 1004 comments Susan wrote: "I have some of those same feelings with almost every Borges story I read. That's why I'm reading Labyrinths at the rate of one story a day, and looking up commentaries about each one before I move on. One reviewer captured my feelings exactly: "The reader finds himself acclaiming with emotion what he doesn’t quite grasp and perhaps doesn’t believe." It probably also helps to know that the question of reality was a central theme of Borges' -- so it's not uncommon for his stories to have "facts and details" that conflict, or are deliberately ambiguous. You might feel better about the story if you read the Wikipedia entry on Borges. It doesn't have much about this particular story, but it does a good job of giving you the context of Borges' life and the rest of his work. Actually, "The Library of Babel" has become one of my favorites."

Thanks for that, Susan!! That does help. And I'll definitely read about Borges at Wikipedia.


message 48: by Susan (new)

Susan | 3405 comments Mod
I wouldn't have shelved Bel Canto as Latin American even though it takes place somewhere in the house of the vice president of a never-named South American country (I decided it was Peru, because they drank pisco sours and some of them spoke Quechuan.) But someone shelved it there, and several of you had recommended it previously, so I chose it for this month. my review here


message 49: by Susan (new)

Susan | 3405 comments Mod
I chose Pedro Páramo because it's considered by some to be the beginning of magical realism in writing. I gave it 3*, but I keep wondering whether it really deserves 4 instead. my review here


message 50: by Susan (new)

Susan | 3405 comments Mod
Made it! I expected that Labyrinths was going to take much of the month the way I did it, but I'm really glad I did. Too many of his stories are obscure without a little help, and checking out what reviewers had to say about them opened up things I never would have imagined for some of them. My review here. Absolutely 5 stars, and something to go back to again and again.


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