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Monthly "Reads" > Shomeret's October Birthday Blues Reads 2/2

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message 1: by Shomeret (last edited Dec 26, 2010 02:06PM) (new)

Shomeret | 1390 comments 6) Heresyby S.J. Parris (historical mystery) 435 pages. Source: Independent Bookstore Started: 10/10 Finished: 10/15

Why Read: I am very interested in Giordano Bruno. I read a biography of him last year. He sounded like a man who would have annoyed me if I had met him, but gadflies who stir up trouble are interesting. This mystery has him acting secretly as an agent of Sir Francis Walsingham in Elizabethan England. I'm not sure he was the kind of man who kept secrets. He preferred to expose secrets. But it's fiction so I'll go along for the ride. Maybe Bruno had more depth than I give him credit for, or S. J. Parris can convince me that he did. Besides, I like the idea of reading about Bruno on my birthday.

Comments: I liked the way Bruno was portrayed, though there was a lack of suspense because I knew that this was the first book in a series. So it was only a question of how he survived, not whether he survived. That's a weakness of any series in which the MC's life is threatened. I disliked what happened with one character, but I hope she will continue to be as resourceful as she had been. Rating B-

7) Ladies of the Goldfield Stock Exchangeby Sybil Downing (historical fiction)
319 pages. Source: Library Started: 10/15 Finished: 10/16

Why Read: I found this during a GR search. I was looking at the page for Sybil Downing and saw this title. I then went to the book's page and found it was about a group of women from various backgrounds establishing a stock exchange in a mining town in 1906. I was definitely intrigued and put it on hold. Although it's based on actual stock exchange established by women in a mining town, the characters in the book are fictional.

Comments: I really liked the female MCs. They were independent and resourceful women who wouldn't allow anything to deter them from achieving their goals. I'm going to give this a B+

8)The Woman Who Discovered Printingby T. H. Barrett (history) 164 pages. Source: Library Started: 10/16 Finished: 10/19

Why Read: I discovered this book from a history journal that I saw in the trash near the mailboxes at the building where I live. The journal was full of reviews. This book attracted my interest.

Comments: This is packed with interesting facts about
Chinese history, culture and printing. It's written in a quirky way. Barrett sort of circles around topics from different perspectives. Rating B. Though he doesn't prove that printing was discovered during the reign of the Empress Wu, it does seem likely.

9)Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India: A Portrait of Modern India by William Dalrymple (collective spiritual biography) 251 pages. Source: Library Started: 10/19 Finished: 10/25

Why Read: The author writes about nine people in India and Pakistan from different spiritual traditions. I'm always interested in spiritual content.

Comments: There are some very interesting chapters in this book. I was most fascinated by the Tantric devotee of the Goddess Tara who lives in a cemetery and can tell you how to cure skulls. Yes, it seems rather ghoulish, but she has a unique perspective. I was most surprised and angered by the story of the Tibetan resistance member who helped the Dalai Lama escape Tibet. The government of India gave him military training and sent him to fight in that terrible civil war that resulted in the formation of Bengla Desh. This was was a traumatic experience for him. He witnessed atrocities. Afterwards he felt the need for penance and returned to his original calling as a Buddhist monk. It's horrendous that the government of India did that to a Tibetan Buddhist who is so concerned about karma. There were a number of chapters about individuals who practice possession trance. I am very interested in these experiences. Dalrymple doesn't just cover the lives of his subjects, he covers their social, historical and religious context. He interviews other people important to his subjects. This is a very insightful book that taught me a great deal about how the various spiritual paths of India are actually practiced and the background behind these practices. Rating A. The only subject that I couldn't relate to was the Jain who was committing slow suicide and insisting that it wasn't suicide.

10)Daughter of the Flamesby Zoe Marriot
(fantasy) 342 pages. Source: Library Started: 10/25
Finished: 10/27

Why Read: The central character is a warrior priestess. I noticed it on a GR search. It has a beautiful cover.

Comments: Yes, it's formulaic for the part, but I loved the MC and some of the other characters. It was also entertaining which is what I was looking for after two non-fics in a row. Rating B

11)Blood Oathby Christopher Farnsworth (vampire thriller) 390 pages. Source: Library
Started: 10/28 Finished: 10/30

Why Read: A friend (Melodie, I suspect) put this on her To Read shelf. I took a look at it and decided that I might enjoy it. It's about a vampire who has been protecting U.S. Presidents for 140 years. I figured that it would be a thriller with many standard thriller elements, but also vampires and hopefully some historical background. I thought it would be entertaining.

Comments: When I started reading the book I wasn't that impressed. Then I got to the flashback about how Cade became the President's Vampire and I was hooked. Unfortunately, the most interesting character in this book is Cade and he's barely two dimensional. I think he should be played by Keanu Reeves in the movie. His extremely stereotypical sidekick had an unbelievable plot sequence that reminded me of Dan Brown at his worst. So it was entertaining, but pretty brainless. The concept earns the book a B-.

This wasn't as good a month as September although I read the same number of books. There were some books that weren't up to snuff. It felt less satisfying.

message 2: by Melodie (new)

Melodie (melodieco) | 3641 comments Yes, I put BLOOD OATH on my shelf after Sandi read it! I haven't read it yet, but should get to it soon!

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