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Monthly "READS" > August 2011 reads

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JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Post here about what you read this past month. A short description or a link or a "review" is always appreciated.

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
What a dismal month for me. I probably abandoned 10 books. And I think I forgot to record a couple books that I did finish.

Here is a link to my books. I have no idea why one abandoned book is in my "read" list.

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
from Schmerguls

What I Read in August 2011

4843. A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900, by Andrew Roberts (read 1 Aug 2011) This is the third book I have read by this English historian, but the first two (The Terror The Merciless War for Freedom in Revolutionary France [read 39 Sep 2009] and 1789 The Threshold of the Modern Age [read 25 June 2010]) did not show his right wing bias as does this one, published in 2006. The book does not inspire confidence as to its accuracy--he says the Lusitania was an American ship--nor does one gain confidence in his objectivity--he spends about six pages excusing General Dyer for ordering his troops to fire in 1919 on an unarmed crowd in India, killing 379 people. One gets, though, a certain satisfaction in reading his comment that FDR was the greatest American president of the 20th century and his praising Harry Truman. But the main thrust of the final part of the book is an attempt to say the Iraq War--though he acknowledges it had nothing to do with 9/11--was a good thing The book is firmly non-objective and is very opinionated, and long. I was glad to get to the last page.

4844. Down the Nile Alone in a Fisherman's Skiff. by Rosemary Mahoney (read 3 Aug 2011) This is a 2007 book by an American woman who lives in Rhode Island. She tells of her time in Egypt, where she wanted to row down the Nile from Aswan to Qena--and she did. Much of the book is quite interesting and at times exciting, finishing with an account when an Egyptian man scared her and she thought she'd have to try to kill him. She tells a lot about the people who have traveled on the Nile, including Flaubert and Florence Nightingale, both in 1849. I seldom read travel books, but this has been said to be one of the best. I could not empathize much with her desire to be alone in Egypt.

4845. Herding Cats A Life in Politics, by Senator Trent Lott (read 4 Aug 2011) The author of this book was never a favorite of mine, but he did have a rapid rise in politics. He was admitted to the bar in 1967, was administrative assistant to Rep. Wm. Colmer from 1968 till 1973, when he succeeded Colmer and was in the House till he was elected to succeed John Stennis in 1988. He was Republican leader from 1996 (when he succeeded Bob Dole) till 2002 when he stupidly said Strom Thurmond should have been elected President in 1948. The book, laying aside its Republican bias, is full of interest. He tells how he worked with President Clinton and with Tom Daschle. The contrast with Republican leaders now is striking, and the Tea Party nuts would give Lott fits.. Of course that was in the Clinton years , but Lott while voting to convict Clinton knew and was resigned to Clinton not being convicted. I found the book often fascinating reading, though it ends in 2005 and so does not cover Lott's re-election in 2006 and his resignation on Dec 18, 2007 to become a lobbyist. I enjoyed reading of his troubles over his praise of Strom Thurmond. And of his bitterness over Bush's failure to support him. His defense of the Iraq War is pitifully weak, even in 2005.

4846. Quartet in Autumn, by Barbara Pym (read 6 Aug 2011) Some years ago I rode with Sandy to Dubuque and we listened to this book. I enjoyed hearing it; now I have read it. I wanted it on my list of books read--I don't have a list of books listened to, which would be a short list. It is such a neat subtle book as are all of Pym's books. It involves two men and two women who work in an office. Each is odd, and there are such neat humorous lines I had to laugh often. Pym indeed was an enjoyable writer, even though much in this book is sad, especially for an older person such as me.

4847. The Mirrors of Downing Street Some Political Reflections, by A Gentleman with a Duster (Harold Begbie) (read 7 Aug 2011) This is a book of some renown, first published in 1920 and written by Harold Begbie. It consists of essays about fifteen Englishmen prominent at the time, including Lloyd George, Jackie Fisher, Herbert Asquith, Arthur Balfour, Kitchener, Churchill, and Edward Grey. It is very critical as to some of them, especially Lloyd George. Most of the views seem reasonable and of course the comments on Churchill were of most interest--the only subject with a huge part of his important life still before him. The essay on him concludes that he is a man to whom ministers would not turn in their difficulties nor to whom the Cabinet would look for inspiration. The author died in 1929 so he did not live till 1940 when his prediction was proven very wrong.

4848. Blackrobe for the Yankton Sioux: Fr. Sylvester Eisenman, O.S.B. (1891-1948), by Mary Eisenman Carson (read 8 Aug 2011) This is the story of the author's uncle who labored for the Indians in the Dakotas and built St. Paul's Church in Marty, Charles Mix County, S.D. The account of his very difficult labors and of his devotion to his work is totally inspiring. He was a classmate in seminary of Father Steiger (pastor at Earling, Iowa from 1918 to 1938 and thus well known to me as a child) and he is mentioned in the book on three occasions--and Earling is described as "a wealthy parish"! Compared to the poverty-stricken people he served it probably was.

4849. Leyte Gulf: The Death of the Princeton, by Edwin P. Hoyt (read 9 Aug 2011) This is non-pretentious book published in 1982 and telling of the carrier Princeton and especially of its loss in October 1944 when a single bomb caused fierce fires on the ship and her eventual abandonment and destruction. Other ships tried to help and also sustained damage. The account of the fight to save the Princeton is exciting and evokes one's empathic concern for the fearful time the men suffered. 108 men on the Princeton died, 1361 survived. The cruiser Birmingham, which tried to help the Princeton, lost 233 men in the effort. I found the book fairly well-written and it told a sobering story of naval suffering and tragedy.

4850. Commander of the Faithful The Life and Times of Emir Abd El-Kader, by John W. Kiser (read 12 Aug 2011) Elkader, Iowa, in 1846 was named to honor the subject of this book, who was a dominant figure resisting the French effort to conquer Algerian. I had not previously heard of Abd El-Kader (1808-1883) but his is an amazing career. He fought the French vigorously but when he saw further resistance would only cause death and suffering for his people, he surrendered, being promised he could live in Damascus. Instead the French imprisoned him in France till Napoleon III finally let him go to Syria. This book gives a full, well-researched account of his career and his beliefs, and he is an admirable person.

4851. Lionheart, by Sharon Kay Penman (read 18 Aug 2011) This is a novel based on the time of Richard the Lion-hearted and the Third Crusade. It does not change history in any significant way, but fills in the unknown things. The author did lots of research to make the book echo and resemble the actual events in Sicily and in the mid-East. The story told is of great interest and at times intensely exciting. But the book is long and events often doleful--since the history of the Third Crusade is fiercely doleful. So there are pages and pages of non-enjoyable things in the book.

4852. Secret Lives of the Supreme Court What Your Teachers Never Told You About America's Legendary Justices, by Robert Schnakenberg (read 20 Aug 2011) This is a 2009 book which in a gossipy way tells of famous former Supreme Court Justices and of all the recent ones (before 2009). What the author did was got to various books and magazines and extract unusual things about the various justices. It does not pretend to say anything profound but anyone interested in the U.S. Supreme Court can't help but find things of interest. The author does not hesitate to give his opinions, and they are often harsh. He is much harder on Justice Black than he should be. And he says nothing good about Warren Burger, mocking him unmercifully. The sketches are full of interest and some of his opinions are the same as mine.

4853. Black Mondays Worst Decisions of the Supreme Court, by Joel D. Joseph (read 21 Aug 2011) This is a 1987 book telling of bad decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court. He lists some 24 decisions. and of course including therein Dred Scott and Korematsu and Plessy v. Ferguson. I do not quarrel much with his selections but the book's legal research is very uneven. The book could have been a lot better if more legal research had been devoted to it.

4854. blizzard, by Phil Stong (read 22 Aug 2011) This 1955 novel is laid on a southeastern Iowa farm in February of 1954 and involves a farm family consisting of a grandfather, his granddaughter, a hired man, and a housekeeper. Five others come to be snowed in with them, including a neighbor and his estranged wife. I thought it silly and unlikely and verging on fantasy. All the action takes place in three days; much of it is unrealistic. Very light fiction, not worth reading even if based on an Iowa farm

4855. Six Years After D-Day Cycling through Europe, by Marie Bennett Alsmeyer (read 23 Aug 2011) This is a 1994 book written by a Texas woman who in May and June of 1950 with her husband bicycled in France, England and the Low Countries. Surprisingly, it is not a bad book. It was interesting to realize how much war damage still exited six years after. One has to admire this couple undertaking to make the trip. The account is sometimes quite poignant. Her husband had been in France in 1944 and that helped them on the trip.

4856. The Windsor Story, by J. Bryan III and Charles J. V. Murphy (read 29 Aug 2011) This is a 1979 book telling of the lives of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. He was born June 23, 1894, became king 20 Jan 1936, abdicated 11 Dec 1936, married Wallis Warfield Simpson June 3, 1937, and died 28 May 1972. She was a bit younger and when this book was published she was still alive, not dying till 1986. The book is by two journalists and there are few footnotes and the book is brimful of opinion--most of it very unflattering to the subjects. The part up to the abdication was super-interesting, even though I had read Abdication, by Brian Inglis on 3 Jan 1982, which told that story very well. After they married the story becomes less interesting--and one was struck by how self-centered they were. Their life after the war was so futile, so devoted to their social life and weird idiosyncrasies, that sometimes it was revolting. The Duchess utterly dominated him and often treated him like dirt. But he never wavered in his devotion to her. Their extravagant life style can be gauged by the fact that for their honeymoon they had 265 pieces of luggage, including 186 trunks.They were as useless a couple as there was, though they did employ lots of servants so some of their wealth 'trickled down' to lower class people.

message 4: by Alias Reader (last edited Aug 31, 2011 09:16PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) JoAnn/QuAppelle wrote: "What a dismal month for me. I probably abandoned 10 books. And I think I forgot to record a couple books that I did finish.

Here is a link to my books. I have no idea why one abandoned book is in ..."



When I look at your bookshelf I see for August 3 books read.

~~ Tell Me Where It Hurts: A Day of Humor, Healing and Hope in My Life as an Animal Surgeon

~~ Before I Go to Sleep

~~ Speed Queen

And only one abandoned in August

~~ The Unnamed

Is this correct ?

The bookshelf can be confusing. That is why I think it best to post the titles.

message 5: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (last edited Sep 01, 2011 04:07PM) (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Alias Reader wrote: "
The bookshelf can be confusing. That is why I think it best to post the titles. .."

yes, what you see is correct. Like I said,a dismal month. When you click on the link to my books, all you have to do is click on the title to read about it and to see my "review".

I was very lax last month in recording my "abandoned" books. I was sort of busy with a new grand-baby, an earthquake, and a hurricane! So I think I deserve to be "excused". LOL

Posting the titles, when they are already on my list (to which I have supplied a link) is a royal PIA in my opinion!!!! If someone does not want to click on the link to my books, is their loss! Maybe most people do not write reviews on their "my books" page, but I do and think it is a waste of my time to copy those reviews and paste them to this thread. And what does posting just the title accomplish? That only takes you to a synopsis...which anyone can read at Amazon. I am more interested in reading opinions, to be honest.

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
I just amended my list if anyone is interested. Turns out I read 6 books in August, 3 of which were 2 stars. Barely worth reading.

I abandoned 5 books (that I can remember). Three of them were audios.

message 7: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandin954) | 211 comments JoAnn/QuAppelle wrote: "I just amended my list if anyone is interested. Turns out I read 6 books in August, 3 of which were 2 stars. Barely worth reading."

I still read Elizabeth George's book but more out of habit than anything else. I agree with you that they are too wordy (though it did not bother me with the earlier books in the series).

message 8: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandin954) | 211 comments Had a pretty good month of August.

Top Reads

The Debba by Avner Mandelman The Debba
Avner Mandelman
I found this to be quite the absorbing read though very different. From the first page I was swept up into the story even though the main character was not the most appealing and the plot, at times, seemed most unlikely.

A Small Town in Germany by John le Carré A Small Town in Germany
John le Carré
Tension filled cold war thriller set in Bonn during the late sixties. Started a bit slowly but, during the last quarter of the book, all the plot threads blended together for a really well done ending. I listened to the audio version read by one of my favorite narrators Simon Prebble

Heresy (Catherine LeVendeur, #8) by Sharan Newman Heresy
Sharan Newman
Catherine and a few friends end up at the Council of Reims to help Astrolabe fight an accusation of both murder and heresy. This was another fascinating entry in this historical series. Newman is a master of creating characters you believe in and weaving historical details (especially religious beliefs and their effects) into fairly plausible mystery plots.

Midnight Fugue (Dalziel and Pascoe Series #24) by Reginald Hill Midnight Fugue
Reginald Hill
Another great entry in the Dalziel & Pascoe series. The action takes place over the course of one very eventful day. I love how Hill always keeps this series fresh and worth reading.

Good Reads

Fortress in the Eye of Time (Fortress, #1) by C.J. Cherryh Fortress in the Eye of Time
C.J. Cherryh
One of those books I am a little on the fence on. Lots of great concepts and characters but the story was very dense and sometimes the writing style was a bit impenetrable. Not a fast read and I am not really sure I want to work so hard to read a fantasy book.

The Damage Done by Hilary Davidson The Damage Done
Hilary Davidson
This was nominated for an Anthony Award for best first crime novel and I found it very readable with just the right amount of suspense and family angst. The ending did get a little complicated for my tastes but all the threads were brought together nicely and the main character was, for the most part, smart and engaging.

Snow Angels (Inspector Kari Vaara, #1) by James Thompson Snow Angels
James Thompson
Nominated for both the Edgar and Anthony for best first mystery this book had a story line as dark and bleak as its setting, the Lapland area in Finland during the run up to Christmas when there is no real daylight. The plot was a somewhat over done and the crime scene descriptions a bit too gruesome but the characters and the insights into Finnish culture made this well worth my reading time.

1941 -- The Greatest Year In Sports Two Baseball Legends, Two Boxing Champs, and the Unstoppable Thoroughbred Who Made History in the Shadow of War by Mike Vaccaro 1941 -- The Greatest Year In Sports: Two Baseball Legends, Two Boxing Champs, and the Unstoppable Thoroughbred Who Made History in the Shadow of War
Mike Vaccaro
A very well done mix of sports and history. I especially enjoyed the horse racing parts and found the boxing sections illuminating since I knew nothing of the Louis/Conn fight. I also appreciated the explanation of the peace time draft and how it affected both stars and regular citizens alike.

Death of an Old Girl by Elizabeth Lemarchand Death of an Old Girl
Elizabeth Lemarchand
A classic style British mystery with a girl's school setting. First book in the Inspector Pollard series.

The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure The Wilder Life
Wendy McClure
While I've never had the compulsion to recreate the world of the Little House books I was a pretty big fan of the series so, for the most part, I enjoyed this audio. The parts where the author traveled to the various Little House sites were my favorites and I also enjoyed learning more about Rose Wilder Lane. The book was a bit too long, though, and some things the author found fascinating did little for me. The audio version reader, Teri Clark Linden, did a good job.

Basketball Junkie by Chris Herren Basketball Junkie
Chris Herren
I read and really enjoyed Fall River Dreams: A Team's Quest for Glory, A Town's Search for Its Soul so decided to pick up this book to learn the rest of the story. A very honest look at how addictions can completely take over a life.

Lady, Lady, I Did It! (87th Precinct #14) by Ed McBain Lady, Lady, I Did It!
Ed McBain
The bulls of the 87th Precinct are called in to investigate a mass shooting at a bookstore. Published in 1961, this was a very readable entry in this classic police procedural series.

A Fatal Grace (Three Pines Mysteries, No. 2) by Louise Penny A Fatal Grace
Louise Penny
Murder invades Three Pines again and Inspector Gamache is summoned to solve the crime. Lots of wonderful characters though the actual mystery was a bit on the surreal side. Listened to the audio version read by Ralph Cosham

underwhelming read

Poacher's Son by Paul Doiron Poacher's Son
Paul Doiron
While the Maine setting and game warden occupation of the lead character sounded promising, I did not care for this book at all. The MC was a young, whiny, officious jerk and the plot was pretty uninspired. I listened to the audio and the reader, John Bedford Lloyd, was as bad as the book. Not sure how this was nominated for both the Edgar and Anthony for best first mystery.

message 10: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Sandi wrote: "I still read Elizabeth George's book but more out of habit than anything else. I agree with you that they are too wordy (though it did not bother me with the earlier books in the series). ."

I have never "read" any of her books, just listened to them......years ago, when audio books were on tape. Her books were always abridged and they were fine. Once audio books started being put on CDs, they no longer abridged them (or hers, at least)

message 11: by Connie (new)

Connie (constants) | 49 comments Inverted Forest - John Dalton. Critics and readers alike seem to love this book, but I couldn't stand it. The story is set at a summer camp in rural Missouri where all the counselors are fired right before the first session begins, so last-minute substitutes are brought in, not knowing that their first group of campers will be mentally challenged adults from St. Louis institutions. The word "retarded" is used profusely to describe the campers and I found that mildly offensive. But most of all I found the story silly and preposterous and not all that well-written either. I'm in the minority feeling this way, so take this review with a few grains of salt. (Preferably on a margarita glass.) D

Auschwitz: A Doctor's Eyewitness Account - Miklos Nyiszli. Dr. Nyiszli and his family were sent to Auschwitz from their home in Hungary and because he was trained in performing autopsies, he worked under Josef Mengele's supervision in the labs and morgues of the concentration camp. Because of that his life there was very different from most of the inmates but he was able to survive and offer first hand accounts of many of the atrocities he witnessed. Horrible, disturbing and unforgettable. A-

In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks...and Other Complaints from an Angry Middle-Aged White Guy - Adam Carolla. I think Adam Carolla is very small doses. This book was a very BIG dose. And although I did laugh out loud many times while reading it, too much of a good thing sometime can be tiring. A nice antidote to reading about Auschwitz though. B-

Crime & Punishment: A Graphic Novel - Dostoevsky, Karkas and Mairowitz. I always wanted to read Crime and Punishment but the older I got, the less likely it seemed that I ever would. So when I found this graphic novel on the clearance table for $1.80, I couldn't resist. Now that I'm more familiar with the story, I'm not sorry I didn't read the original. And if that's a crime, then I accept the punishment. B

Heartwood - Belva Plain. I accidentally downloaded this book onto my Nook and figured I might as well read it as I hadn't read a Belva Plain book in 30+ years. It turned out to be the final chapter in the saga of the Stern family which began with Evergreen, the first book of hers I ever read. All the loose ends and family secrets are nicely tied up with this generation which is a good thing since Belva Plain died in 2010. She was quite a storyteller though, and even though Heartwood is not great literature, it's a good read. B+

The Inverted Forest A Novel by John Dalton

Auschwitz A Doctor's Eyewitness Account by Miklos Nyiszli

In Fifty Years We'll All Be Chicks by Adam Carolla

Crime and Punishment (Illustrated Classics) A Graphic Novel by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Heartwood by Belva Plain

message 12: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 1608 comments Mod
Connie wrote: ".Now that I'm more familiar with the story, I'm not sorry I didn't read the original. And if that's a crime, then I accept the punishment. B."


message 13: by Debbie (new)

Debbie (debatl) | 105 comments JoAnn/QuAppelle wrote: "from Schmerguls

What I Read in August 2011

4843. A History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900, by Andrew Roberts (read 1 Aug 2011) This is the third book I have read by this English hist..."

I am always curious about your reads, as you are always finding some books about Iowa or midwest. You book "Blizzard" said it was horrible, but it took place in SE Iowa, which is where I am from. Maybe I will try to find it at the library and see if I can figure out where in SE Iowa it was set in.

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