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Monthly "READS" > March 2011 reads

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JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Please post your monthly list here, and comments about your books are always welcome too.

message 2: by Connie (new)

Connie (Constants) | 49 comments February-March Reads

The Fates Will Find Their Way - Hannah Pittard. A teenage girl goes missing on Halloween night and no one ever finds out what happened to her. But the boys who knew Nora speculate endlessly throughout their teen and adult years, unable to let go of the mystery. And that not knowing affects them as adults as much as it did as teenagers and allows the reader to learn about the boys they were and the men they have become. A-

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky - Heidi Durrow. A young girl survives a terrible family tragedy and moves to Portland to live with relatives. But in Portland, her identity as a biracial child becomes a problem for her. Durrow is an admirer of Nella Larson and there are similarities in this story and Larson's "Passing" which I liked much more. The set-up of this book was terrific, but there never was the kind of payoff at the end that I was hoping for. I wanted to like it more than I did. But I didn't. C

Anne Frank: The book, the life, the afterlife - Francine Prose. Prose writes not only about Anne Frank's diary, but what happened to the book in the years after it was found and published as various writers and producers tried to make it into a play and a movie. Prose considers Anne to be more than just a teenage diarist, but also an accomplished writer whose growth can be seen as she edited the diary through her teen years. One of the most provocative subjects I found in the book was a discussion about whether the stage play and movie should concentrate on its universality, or whether the story which was written by a Jewish girl in hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam, should focus on that exact situation, and not on the universality of the story. A very thought-provoking book. A

Faith - Jennifer Haigh. I loved this book! Set in Boston in 2002, when new revelations about pedophile priests were coming out all the time, this is the story of one of the accused priests and his family. The narrator is Father Breen's half-sister Sheila who knows him as well as anyone does, but sometimes wonders if she knows him at all. This book is about religious faith, of course, but also about the faith that family members have in one another. It was well written, full of memorable characters and quotes and a really good heart. And honestly I could not put this book down. A+

The End of the World As We Know It: Scenes from a Life - Robert Goolrick. Goolrick also wrote "Reliable Wife" and much like that novel, this memoir is full of fine writing but tells a story I didn't quite enjoy. He grew up in the 1950's in a family that seemed glamorous - beautiful, educated parents with whirlwind social lives that centered around drinking to excess. But appearances mattered more to the family than reality did, and there were deep, dark, damaging secrets that caused Robert endless troubles in his adult life. Although I laughed out loud in places, other parts of the book broke my heart. But I couldn't stop reading it. A

During the past two months I have also read 600+ pages of Edward Rutherfurd's New York, and I still have more than 200 pages to go. I am determined to finish this big fat historical novel, even if it kills me. And it might!

The Fates Will Find Their Way: A Novel

The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife

Faith: A Novel

The End of the World as We Know It

message 3: by Schmerguls (new)

Schmerguls | 257 comments What I Read in MARCH 2011

4803. Sioux City A Pictorial History, by Scott Sorensen and B. Paul Chicoine (read 1 Mar 2011) This is a book which was published in 1982, but I have never read it cover to cover till now. It is built around pictures and much of the book consists of captions to the pictures, but the result is an excellent history of Sioux City--a really colorful and astonishing history it is, too. The City surely has had difficulties, but probably no worse than any other place. Much which the book relates I had heard of, but much I had not--even some of the things which occurred after I came to Sioux City on Feb 28, 1955. A lot of the text, since it relates to the pictures, is about buildings. The captions are well-done, and I liked that they told exactly where buildings long gone were. I was pleased to see on page 177 a picture of the house at 532 Tenth St. where Harry Hopkins was born on Aug. 17, 1890--that house is no longer there (it should have been preserved). There are good discussions of the Drake Estate, the Sioux City Air Base during World War II and other fascinating things. A great book for anyone interested in the years from 1854 to 1980 as they pertain to Sioux City.

4804. Ghost Wars The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 11, 2001 by Steve Coll (read 11 Mar 2011) (Pulitzer Nonfiction prize in 2005) This is a massive, carefully researched account of what went on in Afghanistan from the time the Soviets invaded on December 1979 till Sept 10, 2001. After the Soviets pulled out--the U.S. supplied huge amounts of aid to the people fighting the Soviets--the book tells of the Taliban and bin Laden in great detail, and of the efforts to figure out a way to "get" him, especially after the attacks on the U.S. embassies in Africa on Aug 8, 1998. Those efforts were extensive and reading of the efforts--and knowing they would be unsuccessful-- was frustrating. I could not say the failure was for lack of effort--though there was much argument over how to do it. The book is very detailed and while clearly written and interesting, at times it was so wordy that one wondered if it was, after all these years, worth reading through the morass of what went on. But since Afghanistan remains a huge problem, I could not say the reading was mere history. In fact, I prefer to read history less current and of course more likely to have a good ending.

4805. Virgin Land The American West as Symbol and Myth, by Henry Nash Smith (read 15 Mar 2011) (Bancroft Prize in 1951) This is the 32nd Bancroft Prize winner I have read. It traces the concept of the West especially in American fiction, spending time on James Fenimore Cooper up to Hamlin Garland, and discusses Frederick Jackson Turner and his 1893 talk on the closing of the American frontier. While some of what the book says is of interest, I could not get too interested in the author's abstruse thinking on the subject.

4806. A Visit from the Goon Squad, by Jennifer Egan (read 18 Mar 2011) (National Book Critics Circle fiction award for 2010) I try to read all the winners of this prize, though I had been warned that this one was not a book I would like. I did not. All of the characters are unlikable and most are musicians of no interest to me. Some do stupid obnoxious things which are no fun reading about. There are 75 pages of graphics which made no impression on me but I was glad they were it the book so it could get to its end quicker. I have read 23 Book Critics Circle fiction award winners and this is the least liked of those 23.

4807. The Ghosts of Cannae Hannibal and the Darkest Hour of the Roman Republic, by Robert L. O'Connell (read 21 Mar 2011) This is a 2010 book. Back on 23 June 1961 I read Harold Lamb's book on Hannibal and on 31 Mar 1971 I read a book on the Punic Wars. This book covers the life of Hannibal well, and examines the events leading up to Aug 2, 216 B.C. (the date Cannae was fought) in great detail--in fact I thought the account of those preliminary matters dry reading, though the account of the crossing of the Alps was of interest. The results of Cannae are recited in detail--it was not really decisive though a stupendous victory for Hannibal. The sad history of Hannibal--in Italy for many years--and his return to Carthage and the subsequent time till his death in about 181 B.C. is told. The book is sprightily written and seems well-researched. But it did not hold my interest too well.

4808. John Glenn A Memoir, by John Glenn with Nick Taylor (read 24 Mar 2011) I have not paid too much attention to space, but I found this book highly interesting and the account of John Glenn's orbiting the earth three times on Feb 20,1962, in four hours and 56 minutes tense and super-exciting. I also thought his account of his growing up and of his time in World War Ii and in Korea was great reading. One could not help but be impressed by his competence and his sensible approach. I mainly read this because he was Senator from Ohio from 1974 to 1999, and his account of those years was of interest. Then in 1998 he made, at age 77, another space flight and that flight made 134 orbits of the earth in 8 days, 21 hours, and 40 minutes, traveling 3.6 million miles--thus, if my calculation is right, 16,901 miles an hour. This was very good reading . I've been meaning to read Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff and this has raised my desire to do so.

4809. Dog on It, by Spencer Quinn (Peter Abrahams) (read 26 Mar 2011) My son Bouf said he liked this book so I read it. It is about Bernie, a private detective in Arizona and his dog Chet. The book is told in the first person--rather in the first dog--by the dog, who is a great dog. A girl is missing and Bernie and Chet work to find her. The dog has a selective memory--he remembers very well, sometimes. It is very exciting and one identifies totally with the dog,of course. It is absorbing while incredible and one just goes with the story and knows, despite lots of bad things happening, Bernie and Chet will triumph in the end. A very fun book. The book happened to be in large print and I read it without my glasses--probably the first book I have read without glasses in 20 years!

4810. I Accuse The Story of the Dreyfus Case, by Irving Werstein (read 27 Mar 2011) On 19 Mar 1986 I read what I think is the best book on the Dreyfus Case: The Affair, by Jean-Denis Bredin, and on June 6. 1992 I also read Dreyfus A Family Affair, by Michael Burns, also very good.. But since the case is hugely interesting when I saw this young adult book I decided to read it. However the book does not do a very good job in telling about the case. It is totally for Dreyfus, as am I, but it makes no effort to do anything but denounce the other side. I would have preferred more objectivity, since such would better demonstrate how wrong the anti-Dreyfus forces were. But the affair is a fascinating study of fanatical prejudice--something we see in our politics today.

4811. The Crucible A play in four acts, by Arthur Miller (read 28 Mar 2011) This play was first performed Jan 22, 1953. It is based, albeit somewhat loosely, on the Salem witch trials of 1692 and 1693 as a result of which 19 people (14 women and 5 men) were hanged for witchcraft. It is a very powerful play to read and surely would an awesome play to see .performed. I was struck by the power of some of the scenes, especially in the 2nd and 3rd acts. And the powerful ending, in which John Proctor refuses to confess--if he had his life would have been spared--is gripping and I found myself glad he did not confess even though he was therefore hanged. I have seldom been so moved by the mere reading of a play. In the Devil's Snare, by Mary Beth Norton is a factual book about the case and should be read. The best book on the witchcraft craze in Europe I know of is:. Servants of Satan: The Age of the Witch Hunter, by Joseph Klaits which I read 11 Oct 1986.

4812. When You Come to a Fork in the Road, Take It! Inspiration and Wisdom from One of Baseball's Greatest Heroes, by Yogi Berra with Dave Kaplan (read 29 Mar 2011) This is a 2001 book consisting of 40 short chapters each titled with a Yogi saying. My favorite of his is "Nobody goes there any more. It is always too crowded." There is a chapter on that and on lots of other things he said, although he says "I never said a lot of the things I said." He is a good person and I laughed many times as I read this neat book of 150 pages.

4813. Year in Nam A Native American Soldier's Story, by Leroy TeCube (read 31 Mar 2011) The author was 21 when he went to Vietnam for a year in January 1968. He was out in the field the whole year, except for a little R & R in Taiwan and in Bangkok. He quickly gained knowledge and was on "point" a lot and was made sergeant before his year ended. The account of the year is well told, though it is hard to believe he could remember things as clearly as he tells them 30 years later and with no mention of a diary. He many times is close to being killed but was never seriously wounded. After we know he is going home safely one has a great sense of relief. This book is as good an account of real Vietnam experience as I've read and one cannot help but admire the author for his sagacity, competence, and courage.

message 4: by Karen (new)

Karen | 6 comments Schmerguls, I equally laughed and admired the fact that you gave a shot to a graphic novel. I think as kids they were called comic books. My 10 and 12 year old grandchildren are very into graphic novels, among all kinds of reading so I don't give them a hard time about it. They also have challenged me to read a Manga graphic novel....that is Japanese style, reading from back to front as we know it and left to right on the pages. I have just tried a few traditional graphic novels to gear up my brain. I will do it to keep my mind flexible and to build new neuro pathways:)

message 5: by Karen (new)

Karen | 6 comments While I am thinking of it, my March reads:

1. 100 Simple ways to Prevent Alzheimers 5/5: About two pages each in simple, concise language on suggested proven or suspected successful ways to keep the old brain active. I learned things as a Nurse Practitioner I was not aware of...I liked that the author admitted that the jury was still out on some issues. Liked the book so much, I ordered my own copy.

2. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson 4/5. Everyone by now knows the story. I knew it would take a while to get the rhythm of the translation. I thought by page 79 I had it...then by page took me about half the book to feel comfortable. I did enjoy the story. It was the first book that I finished all set for the sequel. But I have lost steam halfway through the second book.

3. A Scattered Life by Karen McQuestion 4/5 Kind of folksy modern day story of young mothers and friendship. Could have been any of our lives. Quick, easy, chick-lit.

4. Play Date by Thelma Adams 3.5/5 This was an advanced copy that I read. It is a story of a marriage of role reversals, with the wife the bread winner and the husband the homemaker in California. Throw into this a mix of yoga, 21st century issues, and Girl Scout cookies...and voila! Not something I would pick off the shelf, but interesting and light.

5. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout 5/5 Loved Olive, the main character! Being married to a Maine-iac, I see much of the New England resilience and no-nonsense of my mother-in-law and sister-in-law in the main character. Loved the approach to the story with the vignettes of the townsfolk interjected. Good, comfortable read.

6. The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger 5/5. What caught my eye in this short graphic novel is that the author wrote THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE. The book was in the adult New Releases. Reminded me of an episode of Rod Serling's Twilight Zone of the 50's and 60's. A very quick read.

7. The White House Doctor by Dr. Connie Mariano 5/5. This is written by Dr. Mariano, not "as told to...". Dr. Mariano is of Phillipine descent and served as the White House doctor for 9 years from 1992 to 2001. I find her job and responsibilities as well as experiences in the actual job very interesting. While I would find this a glamorous job, like most "glamorous jobs", this is tough. There is lots behind the scenes we do not know about. I really enjoyed this book.

message 6: by RNOCEAN (new)

RNOCEAN | 93 comments Sadly, I only finished one book in March, which is so unlike me, but I have had other things going on:

"A Discovery of Witches" by Deborah Harkness. I loved all 579 pages of this story because it fed my need for fantasy, witches, vampires, etc. This is a grownup, intellectual book on the lines of Twilight but a thousand times better. I am glad that it is book one of a planned trilogy!

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Karen wrote: "Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout 5/5 Loved Olive, the main character! Being married to a Maine-iac, I see much of the New England resilience and no-nonsense of my mother-in-law and sister-in-law in the main character. Loved the approach to the story with the vignettes of the townsfolk interjected. Good, comfortable read. ."

I read this a long time ago and just re-read it on audio. Enjoyed it AGAIN!

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Schmerguls wrote: "My son Bouf said he liked this book so I read it."

just Bouf a nickname or short for some other name?

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
See my March reads and comments here:

I had three 5-star books in March, two of which were non-fiction.

message 11: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
that's a lot of reading, Alias!

message 12: by Schmerguls (new)

Schmerguls | 257 comments JoAnn/QuAppelle wrote: "Schmerguls wrote: "My son Bouf said he liked this book so I read it."

just Bouf a nickname or short for some other name?"

JoAnn, he was baptized Robert John but since he was six months old he has been known by the family and many of his friends as Bouf. There is no adequate reason for his having that name but he has it.

message 13: by NancyInWI (new)

NancyInWI (nanckopf) | 47 comments Once I was able to be more mobile, I didn't read as much as the first month of my recovery, so I only had two finishes this month.

Sworn to Silence A good, but rather graphic, mystery/thriller. I hadn't read any of these kinds of books in quite awhile, so it was a nice change of pace. Dragged a bit in the middle, but the ending was breakneck paced. 3/5

I Still Dream About You Not as good as past Fannie Flagg books and it got a bit silly, but the ending was heart-warming.

(I don't give synopses of the books because I post the link and they have much better ones than I could write!)

message 14: by NancyInWI (new)

NancyInWI (nanckopf) | 47 comments Karen wrote:1. 100 Simple ways to Prevent Alzheimers 5/5: About two pages each in simple, concise language on suggested proven or suspected successful ways to ..."

Karen, I'm currently reading "The Amen Solution: The Brain Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Keep It Off" after watching Dr. Amen on PBS during pledge week. He talks A LOT about a healthy brain being important for not only losing weight but being happier and retaining memory. So much of his food and suggested herbal/vitamin supplements are geared toward preventing Alzheimer's. I've started following his regimen (though not exclusively) and I've dropped several pounds and feel much happier and on a more even keel every day.
You might be interested in checking this book too.

message 15: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandin954) | 211 comments Alias Reader wrote: "My March Reads. Rated on a 0-5 scale -plus/minus

What's Eating Gilbert Grape rate 4-"

I really liked What's Eating Gilbert Grape though I read it back when it was first published and I was only a couple of years out of college so Gilbert's life really struck a chord.

message 16: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandin954) | 211 comments A slow month of reading but some good quality. Here are my March reads:

Top Read
Dead I Well May Be by Adrian McKintyDead I Well May Be
Adrian McKinty
Dark gritty crime novel that takes the reader from Belfast to New York City and then to Mexico. A very good read though a bit too long. Loved the narration on the audio by Gerard Doyle. His Irish accent really made the listen enjoyable.

Good Reads

Carte Blanche by Carlo LucarelliCarte Blanche
Carlo Lucarelli
The first book in the De Luca trilogy set in 1945 during the final days of the Fascist Republic. I picked this up because I am fascinated by crime stories that take place during wartime and while this is a very short book (only a little over 100 pages) I did think it was well worth reading and will continue on with the trilogy.

Morning Miracle by Dave KindredMorning Miracle
Dave Kindred
At the beginning of this book the author thought that he would be "writing a valentine to journalism" the craft he loved and practiced for over forty years but as one of his subjects, Pulitzer Prize winner Gene Weingarten, opined the book did kind of turn out to be "about a great newspaper dying with dignity".

Cadillac Beach (AUDIOBOOK) (CD) by Tim DorseyCadillac Beach (AUDIOBOOK)
Tim Dorsey
Serge is as crazy as ever and in this book he, along with his stoner friend Lenny, start their own tourist service and try to solve the mystery of Serge's grandfather's death back in 1965. Lots of bodies, Florida history, and chaos ensue but all according to the Master Plan. I listened to the audio version read by one of my favorites George Wilson.

The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle, #1) by Patrick RothfussThe Name of the Wind
Patrick Rothfuss
Entertaining fantasy saga. Interesting characters and a nice sense of the mysterious. Definitely just a first part though, will have to read further books to get any closure.

message 17: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 02, 2011 05:22PM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) Sandi wrote: I really liked What's Eating Gilbert Grape though I read it back when it was first published and I was only a couple of years out of college so Gilbert's life really struck a chord.


Sandi, I read it for a group read over on the GoodReads Board - Book Nook Cafe.

After I read the book I rented the DVD from the library and enjoyed it, too. I though Leonardo DiCaprio was excellent.

message 18: by Alias Reader (last edited Apr 02, 2011 05:26PM) (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) JoAnn/QuAppelle wrote: "that's a lot of reading, Alias!"

It was an usually high number of books for me.

I suspect this month will be a lot less as I have to read the 500 + page Middlesex for my F2F book club.

I know a lot of people like it but it's not one that I am looking forward to reading. I started today and read 30 pages. The writing looks to be very good. I am still not so sure about the story. Maybe if the book was 300 pages I wouldn't be so cranky. :)

message 19: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (AliasReader) I enjoyed reading your reviews Sandi.

message 20: by Shomeret (new)

Shomeret | 81 comments I also get cranky about long books very easily, Alias. Most of my DNFs are 500 pages and above.

message 21: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandin954) | 211 comments Alias Reader wrote: After I read the book I rented the DVD from the library and enjoyed it, too. I though Leonardo DiCaprio was excellent.

I agree Dicaprio did a great job in the movie version of What's Eating Gilbert Grape. Proved he was more than a Tiger Beat pretty boy pin up.

message 22: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandin954) | 211 comments Connie wrote: "February-March Reads

The Fates Will Find Their Way - Hannah Pittard. A teenage girl goes missing on Halloween night and no one ever finds out what happened to her. But the boys who knew Nora spe..."

This looks really interesting. I just put it on hold at the library. I was glad to see that it was only 243 pages so I assume it will be tightly written without a lot of the padding that so many novels suffer from these days.

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Books mentioned in this topic

The Girl Who Fell from the Sky (other topics)
Faith (other topics)
The Fates Will Find Their Way (other topics)
The End of the World as We Know It: Scenes from a Life (other topics)
Anne Frank: The Book, the Life, the Afterlife (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

Adrian McKinty (other topics)
Dave Kindred (other topics)
Tim Dorsey (other topics)
Gene Weingarten (other topics)
Patrick Rothfuss (other topics)