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What did you read last month? > What I read in December 2010

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Donna in Southern Maryland (cedarville922) | 207 comments Here's the thread to post your reads and reviews of what you've read in the past month.........and for the rest of us to add to our TO BE READ list!

Don't forget to use the "Add book/author" button to make it easy for us to do that.

Thanks a million!
Donna in Southern Maryland


message 2: by Alias Reader (last edited Dec 30, 2010 09:26PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 20442 comments Thanks for putting up the thread, Donna.
I hope everyone joins in an posts their reads for December. It's also nice if you add a little comment, rating and GR links.

* Remember, BNC is a community and people need to participate to make it work. It's a give and take process. So even if you never posted before, or never posted your monthly reads, now is the time to join in the fun !

Here are my reads for December 2010

~~ Rating scale 0-5 plus/minus

Nineteen Minutes by Jodi PicoultNineteen Minutes~Jodi Picoult
Fiction
Rate 2+
If you want to read a book about Columbine I recommend the excellent Columbine~Dave Cullen and skip this work of fiction. Picoult sensationalizes the murders and doesn't cover any new ground.

Jimmy Carter The American Presidents Series The 39th President, 1977-81 by Julian E. ZelizerJimmy Carter: The American Presidents Series: The 39th President, 1977-81~~Julian E. Zelizer
Non fiction
Rate: 3 minus
This is part of the American Presidents Series by Holt. The books in the series are only 200 pages. However, the few I've read in this series are very dry. The Carter book was slightly better but not much. If you want to learn about the Carter Admin. I am sure there are better books out there.

I Feel Bad About My Neck And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora EphronI Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman~~Nora Ephron
Non fiction
Rate: 3 minus
The book is an amusing take on getting older. Though many of the jokes were predictable.

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger Her Fearful Symmetry~~Audrey Niffenegger
Fiction
Rate: 2 plus
I read this for my F2F book club. This normally is not my genre but I thought I would give it a go for the book club. I did like the writing and the first 75% of the story. Then the plot just became plain ridiculous. Thus the sub par rating.

Zeitoun by Dave Eggers Zeitoun~~Dave Eggers
Non fiction
Rate: 4
I read this for our BNC group read. I thought it was excellent. It's a harrowing tale not only of the Katrina hurricane but what happened to an innocent man. The story is told in a very plain straightforward manner. I think this makes the story even more powerful. Things like this simple should not be happening in this country. Kudos to Eggers for bringing this to light. For only when stories like this are told, can we avoid shameful events like this in the future.


We Were There by Robert Fox We Were There~~Robert Fox
Non fiction
Rate 3
I am 3/4 done with this book and should finish soon. As the title implies, it covers the events of the 20th century. Each event has an eyewitness account. Some reports are from diary entries, newspapers, or letters. Having the events told in this manner makes the stories quite compelling. If you like history, this book is for you.


I finished 2010 having read a total of 67 books.
30 Fiction
37 non fiction.


JoAnn/QuAppelle | 749 comments Since I am not feeling well, I am going to be the b&%$# that everyone knows I can be if I really try.

This group has 446 members. Only 16 of these members have posted 100+ comments, even though some have belonged to this group since the very beginning. (BTW, 100 total comments would average out to only 4 per month!!!)

Almost 300 members have NEVER posted, not even once. Why do they bother to join a message board? Oh, yes, to read what OTHERS post about books!

I know all the excuses: "I don't have anything to say" or "I just come here to read what others have to say." Yet many of these people add books to their shelves (some have listed hundreds of books, which means that they have visited GR a lot!). So why don't they post about these books?

This is supposed to be a community and that means that "it takes a village".

Here is another stat that is shocking....28 people who have been at this site in the last two hours have never posted a comment! Guess they only want the "take" part of "give and take".

And don't even get me started on MY group, Readers and Reading. I think there have been about 10 posts there in the last month. Hopeless.

So do I sound ticked off? You betcha! Alias works hard to keep this group alive and interesting, as I used to do at R and R. I know, I know, we do not have to do this and why don't we just walk away? For me, it is because so many people at R and R are old friends and I keep hoping things will change for the better. Call me Pollyanna.


message 4: by Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) (last edited Jan 02, 2011 01:55PM) (new)

Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Ok JoAnn, I totally agree with you, so here are my books in no particular order:

The Great Gatsby 4 star
Not being able to put a book down to me is a great compliment to an author. I found this book to be truly memorable and written so extremely well. It is the way all authors should aspire to write. Fitzgerald was able to in the space of a little over one hundred pages convey a story that was riveting and so fast paced that it was remarkable. Other authors can't write in 500 pages what he accomplished in so much less.

War and Peace 2 star (I know don't hate me for this!)
Well if ever you want to turn someone off to reading, this would certainly the book to do it. Probably the most hyped book ever, it was to me the most disjointed, dull reading, lacking of characterization novel I have ever read. While I will give Tolstoy his due with the factual descriptions of time, event and manner, his interpersonal writing was atrocious. One could not get near his characters and when you just thought you might, you were yanked away from them and forced back to the war front. From the foibles of his main character Pierre to his implied dislike of women in general, Tolstoy imbued this colossus with tales of thousands killed as easily as one would write their name on a piece of paper. What was with the change of the same person's name on what seemed every chapter? It wasn't confusing enough with all those Russian names that then you had to go giving people various nicknames or variations of their names. Where were the feelings? Where was the sense of loss? Why end a person's life with the words"...and then he died", chapter over, life over, no explanation and time to move on.

The Invisible Wall: A Love Story That Broke Barriers 4 stars
This was a marvelous look at the age where religion set apart a particular street in England with family loves, woes, and children growing up. Told as an autobiographical sketch of Mr. Bernsteins' youth, it was a wonderful trip down his memory lane of the good and the bad of growing up Jewish. Mr. Berstein, a 90+ author has a straight forward way of speaking of his family and friends and the constant restraint under which the neighborhood operated. He does not blame anyone for what he went through, but always writes with the hope that all will be better soon. You can definitely feel his love for his mother and his eldest sister, Lily

[book:Mister Pip
4 stars
This was such a lovely story of a teacher using Great Expectations as a teaching tool for his group of Pacific Island students. Mr Pip interweaves the book into his lesson with the children and makes one particular child, Matilda, begin a life long love of things that are Dickens. Mr. Watts (eventually Mr. Pip) has a wonderful way with his class and even enlists the parents of his students to add to their learning. Although there is some dislike on the part of Matilda's mother, she resolves it in a most heroic way.

A Novel Bookstore 3 stars
What if you could start and own a bookstore where you allowed only wonderful novels to be sold? What if someone/s didn't like that idea and was willing to go to any means to prevent your success? Would you keep your bookstore? These are the questions presented in this book. Written engagingly, the book contains mystery, a love story, and of course many bibliophiles whose love for quality books fuels the fire.

The Inheritance of Loss 3 stars
Extremely well written and flowing with phases that keep one thinking, The Inheritance of Loss is certainly a worthwhile read for those who do not mind a story of pathos, humiliation, emotional overload, and bigotry. Set in America as well as Nepal, the story travels back and forth through periods of gloom and dejection. The main characters are all weighted down by their roots and what has brought them to an overpowering sense of despair and loss. From the judge who always, though Cambridge educated, was in a state impotence to Sai, his orphaned nice, we see characters held within the binds of their society. Biju, another main character, is an illegal immigrant drifting from job to job in the underworld of the illegals. They are all looking for that god, the green card, in order to stay here in America and give up the life of dodging the authorities. Another character, Gyn, a tutor to Sai falls in love with her, but can't reconcile his feelings for a "higher" class and weathier woman. He joins up with a group of insurgents and drifts in and out of the storyline.

Seabiscuit: An American Legend 4 stars
I thought this book to be fast paced, well written, and an adventure to be followed. Ms Hillenbrand was able to make on feel the pathos, and emotional upheaval that all the characters went through in order to bring Seabiscuit to his full potential. Writing of the jockeys and their lives as such, was a lesson to all.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet 2 stars
I truly wanted to like this book a lot. Since historical fiction has always been a genre I love, I thought I would have a "win win" situation with this story. Unfortunately, I just could not get into it. I think perhaps, for me, there was just too much going on. I often have trouble with names and to have these Japanese names and locations oftentimes threw me for a lloop. I found myself often skimming and then of course I lost the storyline.

The Finkler Question 3 stars
What is it like to be a Jew in modern day England in the question that this book covers. Told through the eyes, behavior, and words of three men it explores the concept of what makes a Jewish person a Jew. It was oftentimes quite funny although the topic one of seriousness. Julian, the Jewish wannabee, wanders around the story looking for his Jewishness. He is pretty much of a loser so one thinks that through his fervor for his Jewishness he will become a better person. He is convinced that he has Jewish blood due to an incident where he swears his muggess called him you Jew. He embarks on a career into being Jewish like one would embark on a crusade. He looks for everything to be seen through his new Jewish eyes which of course he can't because he is not Jewish. His two friends, Libor and Finkler, both Jews themselves, try to help him along although their lives are filled with missteps and the loss of the women they loved.

Zeitoun 4 star
This book was ever so eye opening and written in a crisp staccato manner. One could not believe that these things could happen in our country and yet the aura of 9/11 hangs over our heads incessantly. The true story which focus on Zeitoun, an Arab American man, is a wake up call to us all to not be so ready to judge a person based on their ethnicity. What he and his family went through during the hurricane Katrina's aftermath is enough to make one reflect on the lengths our country has gone to to keep us safe.

North and South 5 stars
I loved this story of misunderstood love and devotion. For Margaret and John their care for one another was thwarted by the ever present class structure that was so much a part of Victorian life. When Margaret leaves with her family her beloved Helstone, she embarks on a journey that will result in her parents' deaths and the need to help her brother, Frederick.
My most favorite book was North and South and my least favorite one was War and Peace.( I know I should probably be stoned for this!)


JoAnn/QuAppelle | 749 comments Marialyce wrote: "Ok JoAnn, I totally agree with you, so here are my books.."

I loved loved loved reading your well-thought out comments. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

I love when an author uses few words to express major thoughts as Fitzgerald did in Gatsby.. Nothing bothers me more than TOO MANY WORDS! Well, maybe flashbacks bother me as much. LOL
!


message 6: by Clara (new)

Clara | 1 comments I read The Elegance of the Hedgehog. I found it hard to read. I just wanted to put it down but kept going.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Clara wrote: "I read The Elegance of the Hedgehog. I found it hard to read. I just wanted to put it down but kept going."

I had a hard time with that book too! I only finished it because it was a library group read. I didn't like it at all!


JoAnn/QuAppelle | 749 comments Marialyce wrote: "Clara wrote: "I read The Elegance of the Hedgehog. I found it hard to read. I just wanted to put it down but kept going."

I had a hard time with that book too! I only finished it because it was a library group read. I didn't like it at all! ..."


I did not finish this book...did not like it one bit. I took it with me on a trip to France and thought for sure that the "ambiance" there would inspire me to finish it. Didn't happen.


Susan (aka Just My Op) (justmyop) | 234 comments (Despite a possible stoning, I'm not ready to list my December reads yet.)

I thoroughly enjoyed The Elegance of the Hedgehog but know it isn't for everyone. It's one of those books that creates some strong reactions.


message 10: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 749 comments Susan wrote: "(Despite a possible stoning, I'm not ready to list my December reads yet.).."

I don't think there is a "deadline" for this! LOL

It's still December, right? I have some hope that maybe I can squeeze in one more....


Carolyn (in SC) C234D | 82 comments I read THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG back in June, 2010. I looked back in my reading journal to see what I had written, but I hadn't finished my note and didn't write an opinion. My memory being what it is, I can only recall that I did finish it, and I think I liked it pretty well. It grew on me. Interesting characters, and a startling ending. I wonder if I wrote anything on Goodreads? I'll have to check. I don't write nice reviews like so many here do, but it's good to be able to jog the memory by having something written.


message 12: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 749 comments Here is a link to the books I read in December along with some brief reviews:

http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/...

The only one I would recommend is Left Neglected by Lisa Genova


message 13: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 20442 comments Marialyce wrote
War and Peace 2 star (I know don't hate me for this!)
------------

I give you 5 stars for even attempting it !

I'm glad you liked A Novel Bookstore. I have it on my TBR list.

I enjoyed reading your comments very much, Marialyce.


message 14: by Alias Reader (last edited Dec 30, 2010 09:07PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 20442 comments Clara wrote: "I read The Elegance of the Hedgehog. I found it hard to read. I just wanted to put it down but kept going."
--------------

Call me crazy but I really loved this book. I like books set in England so that was a plus. I also enjoyed the writing and the characters. It worked on all levels for me.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Alias, You are not crazy for sure. Out of my face to face book club of 15 members, one other person besides myself did not like it. The rest loved it. Sometimes, I think it just might be the mood you are in that determines if you like/dislike a book.


message 16: by Bobbie (new)

Bobbie (bobbie572002) | 1084 comments JoAnn/QuAppelle wrote: "Since I am not feeling well, I am going to be the b&%$# that everyone knows I can be if I really try.

This group has 446 members. Only 16 of these members have posted 100+ comments, even though so..."


Call me Pollyanna.

I can't imagine calling you Pollyanna. LOL

Anyway -- we have picked up some new members this year who have become quite active and I am grateful for them. And I have thought about walking away a few times myself but I keep coming back. Maybe I'm Pollyanna.

If all those people posted I honestly wouldn't have time to deal with it.

So feel better!!


message 17: by Bobbie (last edited Dec 31, 2010 05:48AM) (new)

Bobbie (bobbie572002) | 1084 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Marialyce wrote
War and Peace 2 star (I know don't hate me for this!)
------------

All I remember about War and Peace was the struggle. Mine not the characters. I read it years ago because it is always hyped as something that an educated person is expected to have read. Not fun.



Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I have to say, of all the various groups I belong to here on goodreads, this is the most kind, non judgmental group out there. It is a pleasure to be here and thank you one and all for your open mindedness and ready acceptance. I think it is a very rare thing and do appreciate it greatly.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) JoAnn/QuAppelle wrote: "Here is a link to the books I read in December along with some brief reviews:

http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/...

The only one I would recommend is Left Neglected by Lisa ..."


JoAnn, Thanks for you reviews. Saving Max is a book that has been talked about on other threads so I was happy to read your review. I did add Left Neglected to my ever growing TBR list. Thank you!


message 20: by Bobbie (new)

Bobbie (bobbie572002) | 1084 comments My reads for December -- not going to add anything today I don't think.

The Red Queen Philippa Gregory I have read many of her earlier books and I am a sucker for historical fiction. This is definitely not one of her best but I found it sufficently enjoyable. If you haven't read any by her before I would recommend going back to the beginning and read The Other Boleyn Girl.

Shanghai Girls Lisa See I read this for our group. I generally like novels that depict other cultures. Because of my own dealings with Chinese communities in NYC, I found the characters very true to the situations. Enjoyed the book overall, but would only recommend it selectively.

A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens I guess I could be accused of re-reading this because it is an Oprah pick, but actually it was a combination of that and the fact that an old friend had recently read it. She had never read it before. I was amazed to find how much I didn't remember about this book that I had read in High School. To say that ones perspective changes between the ages of 16 and 74 should be obvious. Anyway besides loving it, it has reminded me that perhaps I shouldn't be so adamant about not re-reading.

Zeitoun Dave Eggers Read this book for our group. While this is an important story I found myself wishing that in the first section the author would just get on with it. And, of course, in the latter section I had a tremendously hard time getting through the angst. Serves as a good reminder 1)not to let our freedoms be taken for granted 2)think about what would we do -- not as Zeitoun but as people who could have helped and did not and 3)not taking for granted what is reported to us through the media.


message 21: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 749 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Clara wrote: "I read The Elegance of the Hedgehog. I found it hard to read. I just wanted to put it down but kept going."
--------------

Call me crazy but I really loved this book. I like books set in England so that was a plus. I also enjoyed the writing and the characters. It worked on all levels for me. "


Call me crazy, but wasn't it set in Paris? That was why I took it to France with me. LOL


message 22: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 749 comments Marialyce wrote: "I have to say, of all the various groups I belong to here on goodreads, this is the most kind, non judgmental group out there. It is a pleasure to be here and thank you one and all for your open mi..."

Glad you are here Marialyce!


message 23: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 749 comments Bobbie57 wrote: "
If all those people posted I honestly wouldn't have time to deal with it. .."


I know what you mean -- but it would be nice of there were more than a dozen people to "carry the burden" here, so to speak.


message 24: by Bobbie (new)

Bobbie (bobbie572002) | 1084 comments JoAnn/QuAppelle wrote: "Bobbie57 wrote: "
If all those people posted I honestly wouldn't have time to deal with it. .."

I know what you mean -- but it would be nice of there were more than a dozen people to "carry the bu..."


Yes, I know. Of course!!


message 25: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 749 comments I hate to appear narrow-minded, but after struggling through A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers and all of his bloviating and his craziness, I would never pick up another book of his. I had never encountered an author who was so full of himself. And what really ticked me off was that I BOUGHT the darn book - in hardcover, no less!!! LOL

Oh, and did I forget to mention that I believed very little of what he wrote?!?!?!?


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Bobbie57 wrote: "My reads for December -- not going to add anything today I don't think.

The Red Queen Philippa Gregory I have read many of her earlier books and I am a sucker for hi..."


Wow! Bobbie! A Tale of Two Cities is one I need to conquer. I have read the Lisa See novel and have The Red Queen on my shelf and can comfortably move it down on the list. Thanks for the reviews.


Susan (aka Just My Op) (justmyop) | 234 comments JoAnn/QuAppelle wrote: "I hate to appear narrow-minded, but after struggling through A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers and all of his bloviating and his craziness, I would never pick up ..."

After reading some of the reviews for A Heartbreaking..., I decided not to read it, thought I wouldn't like it. Despite that, I think I am going to like Zeitoun. I've avoided the thread though (except for a few early posts) because I like to read what other people think after I've already read it.

And this is one of the friendliest, most welcoming groups around. :)


message 28: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 20442 comments Marialyce wrote: "I have to say, of all the various groups I belong to here on goodreads, this is the most kind, non judgmental group out there. It is a pleasure to be here and thank you one and all for your open mi..."
---------------

Thank you, Marialyce. I am so happy you joined bnc. You certainly help make it a success.


message 29: by Alias Reader (last edited Dec 31, 2010 07:40AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 20442 comments JoAnn/QuAppelle wroteCall me crazy, but wasn't it set in Paris? That was why I took it to France with me. LOL
==============

LOL Paris, you are right. I'm not only crazy, but lack any semblance of a memory. I should have said I'm attracted to books set in England, France and Italy. :)


message 30: by Alias Reader (last edited Dec 31, 2010 07:41AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 20442 comments JoAnn/QuAppelle wrote: "I hate to appear narrow-minded, but after struggling through A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers and all of his bloviating and his craziness, I would never pick up ..."
---------------

One thing that Zeitoun is not is wordy. It is very understated. The writing is simple and basic. Some reviews on Amazon even appear to be from ESL teachers.

I, too, own a copy of Staggering. I haven't read it yet. It definitely appears to be a love it or hate it type book.

Of the people at BNC who have posted about Zeitoun, it has received uniformly positive reviews.

The vast majority of the 200 reviews on Amazon are also very positive.


message 31: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 20442 comments Susan wrote: "(Despite a possible stoning, I'm not ready to list my December reads yet.
--------------

No stoning. But we may hit you with a wet noodle. :)


message 32: by Alias Reader (last edited Dec 31, 2010 07:50AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 20442 comments Marialyce wrote: Wow! Bobbie! A Tale of Two Cities is one I need to conquer.
-----------------

I really love ATOTC. The writing is beautiful. The famous opening and ending paragraphs are delicious.

I did read it along with online notes so I wouldn't miss any references. That is a big help when I read older classics.

I am going to venture that you won't find it a chore to read but a real joy.

If I had a all time favorite classics list it would be in the top 3 I would think.


Susan (aka Just My Op) (justmyop) | 234 comments While I do like noodles, I prefer eating them to being hit with them, so here is what I read in December:

The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor
In the late 18th century, Holdsworth, a down-on-his-luck printer and bookseller, is sent from London to Cambridge, ostensibly to assess the college's library, but actually to help a rich student who has apparently gone insane, and sees ghosts. Holdsworth has been hand-picked because he published a book, The Anatomy of Ghosts, which debunks their existence. The book was a pleasant read, entertaining, but didn't live up to my expectations. The mystery wasn't compelling, the romance wasn't very romantic, and there was too much description and not enough action for my taste.

Crazy Loco Love by Victor Villasenor
Victor Villasenor really likes exclamation points!!! And CAPITALIZATION! I expected to like this memoir of a Mexican boy growing up in Southern California, feeling out of place, trying to find how he fits in the world. When it started off, I didn't care for the writing style, but thought that the story could overcome it. After about 100 pages, I gave up and skimmed through the rest of the book. Not for me.

Fresh & Fast Vegetarian: Recipes That Make a Meal by Marie Simmons
Short Review: Delicious!
Long Review: Delicious! I often read cookbooks as though they were fiction – something nice to read but not relevant to my life. This cookbook is not going to be one of those; it's going to be one of the few that I really use out of the dozens I own. The recipes are made with fresh, wholesome ingredients but aren't too esoteric for people who like to cook but don't want to be in the kitchen all day. I'm going to buy a copy as soon as it is published. (My copy is an e-book provided by the publisher. I don't usually count cookbooks as part of my read list, but I needed to review this one.)

Mr. Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt
This debut novel is an odd little book, a quick and entertaining read. The fictitious Esther works in a library and is depressed, with good reason, but the depression is threatening to destroy her life. The very real Winston Churchill is chronically depressed, and has learned to accept depression's company. Even so, at the end of his career, it is weighing heavily on him. Of course, circumstances eventually intertwine their lives. Throughout, there is Black Pat, a black dog of sorts, or perhaps more aptly, the black dog. And he is quite an entertaining, if not exactly loveable, entity. And he does not make Churchill's and Esther's lives easy ones.

A Susan Slutt Mystery: Susan Slutt Solves the Mystery by Kate Emburg
This one may raise some eyebrows. It is a spoof on the Nancy Drew type series and the stereotypes of that period. It is an “adult” read but I didn't find it to be objectionable. It is extremely short, fun, not to be taken seriously. I downloaded it free from Smashwords.com, and it kept me entertained during a layover in an airport. Hey, I never said I don't read fluff!

Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland
Although Clara and Mr. Tiffany is historical fiction, Clara Driscoll and some of the other characters as well as the well-known Louis Comfort Tiffany were real people. Tiffany is famous; his designers, including Clara, who did the work for which he got credit, are not. Although the premise is interesting, the story was much too drawn out, too much detail on too many pieces of glass, for my taste, and I was sometimes bored with the story.

Shanghai Girls
I enjoyed this story of two spoiled girls from Shanghai ending up as chosen brides in America, but it wasn't my favorite of the genre. There is great discussion about this group read at http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/4....

The Athena Project by Brad Thor
A thriller that focuses on a Delta Force team - female undercover, government-sanctioned counter-terrorists who are not above doing some really violent things in their quest to eliminate the bad guys – how can you go wrong? The story is a quick read, filled with action, and never boring. For me, there were a couple of drawbacks: the characters didn't have much depth, and too many of the situations were too implausible. Still, it's a good read for those who like thrillers and don't mind reading about some violence.

The Fiddler's Gun by A.S. Peterson
This is a fast-paced and fun book for anyone who wants to read about orphans and pirates, the days of America's fight for independence, and one tough female protagonist. Fin was originally named Phineas by a mother hoping to soften a father's heart to the birth of yet another daughter. Still, she ended up in a Georgia orphanage, wild and rebellious, with only fellow orphan Peter for a friend. So where do the pirates come in? Where did the fiddle come from? I'm not telling. Although not marketed as a YA novel as far as I know, I think The Fiddler's Gun would be an excellent story for teens old enough to handle some violence – hey, there are pirates, who's ever heard of pacifist pirates?

Wither by Lauren DeStafano
Genetically engineered, perfect children have a flaw – when they grow to adulthood and produce children of their own, all the children contract a virus, killing the females at age 20 and males at age 25. No exceptions, no antidote or cure has been found. Orphans Rhine and brother Rowan know they are doomed but keep doing their best to survive. Not easy when the Gatherers kidnap children to sell into prostitution, servitude, or as multiple brides for wealthy men. Those not useful are murdered. This dystopian young adult novel begs answer to the question – is it better to live in a luxurious prison or in a squalid and very dangerous home? Although I wouldn't recommend this novel for young teens, I think older ones will enjoy it.

A Widow's Story by Joyce Carol Oates
If you are a widow or someone else who has suffered a loss and are seeking comfort, run, run as fast as you can, away from this memoir. There is little, if any, comfort to be found here. There is much too much detail. I really am not interested in every sleeping pill she took, every email she sent or received, every thought of suicide, the extreme minutiae of her life. She was battling depression, certainly understandable, but did she have to work so hard at dragging me into her depression? This is only one of the several reasons I didn't care for this book.

There are Goodreads reviews for each of these books on the individual book pages, and my full reviews can be found at http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/....

Best wishes to all of you for happiness, peace, good health, and happy reading in 2011!

The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor The Anatomy of Ghosts Andrew Taylor
Crazy Loco Love by Victor Villaseñor Crazy Loco Love Victor Villaseñor
Fresh and Fast Vegetarian Recipes That Make a Meal by Marie Simmons Fresh and Fast Vegetarian: Recipes That Make a Meal Marie Simmons
Mr. Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt Mr. Chartwell Rebecca Hunt
A Susan Slutt Mystery Susan Slutt Solves the Mystery by Kate Emburg A Susan Slutt Mystery: Susan Slutt Solves the Mystery Kate Emburg
Clara and Mr. Tiffany A Novel by Susan Vreeland Clara and Mr. Tiffany: A Novel Susan Vreeland
Shanghai Girls by Lisa See Shanghai Girls Lisa See
The Athena Project by Brad Thor The Athena Project Brad Thor
The Fiddler's Gun (Fin's Revolution, Book 1) by A.S. Peterson The Fiddler's Gun A.S. Peterson
A Widow's Story A Memoir by Joyce Carol Oates A Widow's Story: A Memoir Joyce Carol Oates


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Loved your reviews, Susan. The only one I read was Shanghai Girls which I thought was ok. I did add a few of your books to my reading list. Thanks!


Susan (aka Just My Op) (justmyop) | 234 comments You're welcome. :) Several of the books this month didn't quite live up to my expectations, but you never know until you try.


message 36: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Susan wrote: "A Susan Slutt Mystery: Susan Slutt Solves the Mystery by Kate Emburg ..."

Sounds fun! Thanks for sharing your list.


deborah


message 37: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 749 comments Only thing is, Alias, that in order to read Eggers's "wonderful" book, I would have to break my promise to myself to never read another word this pompous author wrote! I do not even read his articles on Slate or in magazines, that is how much I dislike him.


message 38: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 749 comments Susan, the book you did not like (I tried to read a book by the same author and gave up) put me in mind of The Tortilla Curtain by TC Boyle (the only book of his I have ever read). I thought it was unforgettable.


Susan (aka Just My Op) (justmyop) | 234 comments Thanks, JoAnn. I just looked at some of the reviews for The Tortilla Curtain, and it does look good so will add it to my TBR. One of my GR friends loves Victor Villasenor's Rain of Gold, but after not liking Crazy Loco Love, I haven't decided if I want to try it.


message 40: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments JoAnn/QuAppelle wrote: "Since I am not feeling well, I am going to be the b&%$# that everyone knows I can be if I really try.

This group has 446 members. Only 16 of these members have posted 100+ comments, even though so..."


Is GoodReads suggesting that this board doesn't participate enough or is this coming from JoAnn and other BNC members? My understanding of GR was that they didn't look at numbers but given the fact these stats are available, i'm not sure i am correct.

deborah


message 41: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 749 comments I believe that Good Reads does not WANT to know or to acknowledge how few of its 4 million "members" actually participate, nor how many of its 3700+ Fiction and Literature groups have not had any posts for months and even years. But I bet their advertisers and investors (they got $2 million in venture capital last year!) are interested....and probably, like me, looked at the stats.

It is just MY OPINION that people need to participate more.....16 "regulars" out of over 400 people is a poor track record. And, yes, I am still in a bad mood! LOL


message 43: by Bobbie (new)

Bobbie (bobbie572002) | 1084 comments Susan wrote: "While I do like noodles, I prefer eating them to being hit with them, so here is what I read in December:

The Anatomy of Ghosts by Andrew Taylor
In the late 18th century, Holdsworth, a down-o..."


Something told me that a book by Joyce Carol Oates on widowhood would not make me feel good. I will definitely pass on that.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Linda wrote: "Hi all! In December I read



Just Kids by Patti SmithJust Kids
Zeitoun by Dave EggersZeitoun
[bookcover:The Quiet Little Woman: Tilly's Christmas, Rosa's Tale..."


Linda, How was Just Kids? That is a pretty popular book right now.


message 45: by Sherry (sethurner) (last edited Dec 31, 2010 01:42PM) (new)

Sherry (sethurner) (sthurner) I had a sudden burst of reading toward the end of the month, probably because I finally realized that I have read much less than last year. I blame part of that on the fact the CD player in the car died in the spring, and all the books I would have listened to, which I count in my year end total, didn't happen. But I also just spent more time than last year traveling and doing art-related activities, and that cut into my total, as did the time I spent playing Angry Birds and Bejeweled Blitz. :) But here is what I finished this month:

Olive's Ocean, by Kevin Henkes. This is a sweet YA novel about a girl who is starting to figure out what is really important in life.


A Redbird Christmas, by Fannie Flagg. Talk about sweet, this little fairy tale is as sentimental and improbable as they come, but I had a good time reading it on Christmas Day anyway.

Foreign Affairs by Alison Lurie is a Pulitzer winner, and I liked it lots. No false sentimentality here, though it is a witty look at adult relationships of all sorts. I especially liked her portrayal of the 50-something literature researcher and her attitudes toward life.

The Film Club, by David Gilmour was a quick nonfiction read. He allowed his alienated son to drop out of high school on the condition that they watch three films a week together and discuss them - his pick. He has interesting insights into raising a son, and also into some fine films.

Zen Shorts by Jon Muth had been on my list for ages. It's a Caldecott winner, and both the story and waterclors are beautiful.

Sidetracked by Henning Mankell is the 5th in his Wallander series. The stories have been televised on PBS, and I couldn't get Kenneth Branugh's face out of my imagination. I like the title character, but the murders were horrific. Little by little I am losing my taste for murder mysteries.

Picture This, by Lynda Barry is an interesting look into the mind of a strangely compelling local writer/author. Her idea is that doodling, drawing without much by way of expectation is therapeutic for emotional health and creativity. I like her skewed view of the world, and have come to love doodling zen monkeys.

Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks was fun too. His experience with all sorts of people with neurological difference due to genetic accident, physical trauma, or illness never fails to capture my interest. This time he looks at all the ways humans perceive and react to music, including a chapter about why some songs and jingles worm their way into your brain and keep playing over and over. I skipped a couple case studies, but found lots to interest me.

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann will probably be a favorite for 2010, whenever I finish thinking hard about the list. Structured much like the movie Crash, each chapter is about a different New Yorker, and their lives end up being intertwined. One thing they all have in common, being somehow connected to the man who walked a tight rope between the towers of the World Trade Center. Beautifully written.

Olive's Ocean
A Redbird Christmas
Foreign Affairs
The Film Club: A True Story of a Father and Son
Zen Shorts
Let the Great World Spin
Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain
Picture This


message 46: by Linda (new)

Linda | 125 comments Marialyce wrote: "Linda wrote: "Hi all! In December I read



Just Kids by Patti SmithJust Kids
Zeitoun by Dave EggersZeitoun
[bookcover:The Quiet Little Woman: Tilly's Christma..."


Marialyce, I really liked that book, 4 stars in my opinion. It surprised me on many levels, considering I'm not a fan of Patti Smith's music. I hadn't planned on reading this, but a good friend highly recommended it. I'm glad she did! I'm even "kinda" a fan of hers now! If you read it, you'll understand what I mean by that.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Linda wrote: "Marialyce wrote: "Linda wrote: "Hi all! In December I read



Just Kids by Patti SmithJust Kids
Zeitoun by Dave EggersZeitoun
[bookcover:The Quiet Little Woman..."


Thanks, Linda! I do plan on reading it.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Sherry (sethurner) wrote: "I had a sudden burst of reading toward the end of the month, probably because I finally realized that I have read much less than last year. I blame part of that on the fact the CD player in the ca..."

Sounds like some great books here, Sherry. I did read the McCann book and liked it quite a bit. Thanks!


message 49: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 20442 comments Love reading your reviews, Susan. No wet noodle for you ! :)

I am going to put the Veg. cookbook on my list and check to see if my library has purchased it.


message 50: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 20442 comments JoAnn/QuAppelle wrote: "Susan, the book you did not like (I tried to read a book by the same author and gave up) put me in mind of The Tortilla Curtain by TC Boyle (the only book of his I have ever read). I t..."
-------------------------

The best online book discussion I ever participated in was for Tortilla Curtain.

I loved it so much, I recommended it for my F2F book club.


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