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What did you read last month? > What I read February 2012

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message 1: by Alias Reader (last edited Feb 29, 2012 12:48PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16987 comments Here is a folder for you to list the books you read last month.

Please provide:
~ A GoodRead link
~ A few sentences telling us how you felt about the book.
~ How would you rate the book


message 2: by Alias Reader (last edited Feb 29, 2012 02:59PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16987 comments What I read in February:


Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love ~Larry Levin
nonfiction
Rate 1/5
The writing was childlike. The story was very thin. Lots of filler to reach the 200 page mark to create a book. This would be better suited to a magazine article.

Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie ~~~Lauren Redniss
Nonfiction
Rate-3+/5
It took me awhile to get into the style of this book, but once I did, I was totally hooked. It's visually very different with hand drawn pictures. The story is woven with factoids connecting the topic to a variety of people and things. The story bounces from your ink-jet printer to Vladimir Putin ! Not to mention the pages from an FBI file that were obtained by the Freedom of Information act. It really is a unique book. One that, by the way, has a glow in the dark cover image. :)

Prime Time (With Bonus Content): Love, Health, Sex, Fitness, Friendship, Spirit Making The Most Of All Of Your Life ~Jane Fonda
nonfiction
rate: 3/5
Interesting tips on how to deal with your health in your middle years.

In the Still of the Night ~Jill Churchill
Fiction
Rate: 3/5
Cozy mystery genre. I like that it was set in NYS during the Great Depression. The author writes well and has obviously done her research. Has more depth than the usual cozy.

The Book Thief ~Markus Zusak
Fiction- young adult
Rate: 3
I read this for my f2f book club. Of the 15 or so at the meeting, a handful of us thought it was just okay. One person couldn't bring herself to finish. Another also stopped reading and went on to another book but thought she might go back to it. I thought it was a good young adult book, but since I am not a young adult, I found it a bit tedious to read. It took me two weeks to finish the book because it just wasn't calling me.

The Road to Mecca ~Athol Fugard
Fiction - Play
Rate: 3
I am going to see this play, so I decided to read it. It takes place in Africa. It's about apartheid and also what happens when one flaunts the social conventions.


message 3: by Julie (last edited Feb 29, 2012 04:19PM) (new)

Julie (readerjules) | 1204 comments The only book I finished in Feb was State of Wonder which I could not, for the life of me, decide whether to give 3 or 4 stars. I liked a lot of the book but a few things bugged me.


message 4: by Sumofparts (last edited Feb 29, 2012 09:19PM) (new)

Sumofparts | 37 comments Only fiction this month; all novels except for War Dances, which was a collection of shorter pieces of writing.

The Book of Negroes (Someone Knows My Name in the US)
5 stars
This was a compelling and eye-opening book for me with a slightly far-fetched ending that I didn't mind because (view spoiler)
I liked the different perspectives and nuances that the author wrote about. There was also the story of Black Loyalists from Nova Scotia being given the opportunity to build new community in Sierra Leone in Africa and the issues around that, which was new to me.

War Dances
5 stars
An awesome Buddy Read with deb. This was a great collection, which I found funny and thought-provoking. I also liked some of the experimental structure/style used. Favourite part is the 15th section of the title story, "War Dances", which is called "Exit Interview For My Father".

Alentejo Blue
2 stars
This was a well-written book but ultimately disappointing because it just didn't feel like it was going anywhere. Judging from the reviews, this was a departure from Brick Lane, which I'll still try eventually.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
4 stars
I enjoyed this book but it was not without its flaws that did dampen my enjoyment. It was compelling in parts and funny but also difficult to read; first, superficially, because of the use of a mix of Spanish and English (though that got better when I got further into the book and with context) and the not-infrequent swearing but mostly because of the misogynistic attitudes from a lot of characters. One review I found after finishing the book provided a more positive interpretation but I still dislike the selfishness of the title character which I guess is good for the author in terms of making the book memorable? Anyway, that review is here: http://wrongquestions.blogspot.com/20...

Freedom
3 stars
I can see why his work is acclaimed but I wasn't completely won over. His writing is fine but often I couldn't bring myself to care about what was happening though it was still better than Alentejo Blue. However, it was a very long book (over 500 pages).


message 5: by Lesley (last edited Feb 29, 2012 09:38PM) (new)

Lesley | 239 comments I enjoyed a few really good reads this month.

The City of Joy Set in anand nagar slum in Kolkata, this novel is based on a Polish missionary's experiences as he lives in the slum alongside the poor who mainly eek out a living as hand-pulling rickshaw walahs. 5 stars.

A Year in Tibet: A Voyage of Discovery A Chinese journo goes to the Shigatze area in Tibet to film a documentary, and comes away with some good experiences and some not so. I felt some of her 'us' and 'them' attitude whilst reading this, which bothered me, but I gave it 4 stars.

Wild Boy I found this to be a real page-turner. A little boy is left for dead by this father in a forest in rural France in post-Revolutionary times. He is captured seven years later with several people trying to socialise him. Based on fact, it is a sad tale. 4 stars.

The Island A London woman holidays in Greece whilst exploring her Greek heritage which she finds includes cases of leprosy in the early-mid 1900s and the social affects on all her ancestors over the years. There is a lot of fluff in this book though which irritated me a little, with every possible Greek food mentioned and the general overuse of adjectives. But I guess this is important to set the scene. I happened to meet the author many years ago when I was working in Greece. She may well have been doing research at the time, as most/all(?)of her novels are based in Greece. I have The Thread on my bookcase to read. 4 stars.

The Home Of The Blizzard: A True Story Of Antarctic Survival An amazing account of Mawson's 1911 expedition. Lives were lost and important scientific data recorded. One of only a few of my Grandfather's books we still have in the family.
4 stars.

To Kill a Mockingbird I enjoyed this American classic. I am wondering if it's still taught in schools. It was not on our reading lists here is Australia, but probably should have been. 4 stars.


message 6: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16987 comments Sumofparts wrote:
Alentejo Blue
2 stars
This was a well-written book but ultimately disappointing because it just didn't feel like it was going anywhere. Judging from the reviews, this was a departure from Brick Lane, which I'll still try eventually.
----------

Sorry to hear this wasn't very good. I read Brick Lane and loved it.


message 7: by Alias Reader (last edited Mar 01, 2012 06:18AM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16987 comments Lesley wrote:
A Year in Tibet: A Voyage of Discovery A Chinese journo goes to the Shigatze area in Tibet to film a documentary, and comes away with some good experiences and some not so. I felt some of her 'us' and 'them' attitude whilst reading this, which bothered me, but I gave it 4 stars.
-----------

I see this one is out of print. Though my library does have
The Long March: The True History of Communist China's Founding Myth~Sun Shuyun


message 8: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Lesley wrote: "Wild Boy I found this to be a real page-turner. A little boy is left for dead by this father in a forest in rural France in post-Revolutionary times. He is captured seven years later with several people trying to socialise him. Based on fact, it is a sad tale. 4 stars...."

Years ago i read The Forbidden Experiment by Roger Shattuck about the child found in France, whom they called Victor. It was a good book, encouraging readers to consider what composes our nature. The book, while thoughtful, also had me wishing more notes had been made/shared about the insights of people who tried to help, rather than experiment, on him. It appears Dawson has stretched her imagination to offer ideas. Thanks for the tip, Lesley.

deb


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Sumofparts wrote: "Only fiction this month; all novels except for War Dances, which was a collection of shorter pieces of writing.

The Book of Negroes (Someone Knows My Name in the US)
..."


I read and so enjoyed Someone Knows My Name, as well as The Brief Wondrous Life..... I loved Freedom as well, but could not get through his The Corrections. He is a very wordy author!


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Lesley wrote: "I enjoyed a few really good reads this month.

The City of Joy Set in anand nagar slum in Kolkata, this novel is based on a Polish missionary's experiences as he lives in the slum a..."


A true classic is To Kill A Mockingbird. It stands the test of time.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Alias Reader wrote: "What I read in February:


Oogy: The Dog Only a Family Could Love~Larry Levin
nonfiction
Rate 1/5
The writing was childlike. The story was very thin. Lots of filler..."


I felt the same way about The Book Thief....even read it twice to see if I was missing something.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Julie wrote: "The only book I finished in Feb was State of Wonder which I could not, for the life of me, decide whether to give 3 or 4 stars. I liked a lot of the book but a few things bugged me."

I liked it, Julie, but it was not a great book.


message 13: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Alias Reader wrote: "The Book Thief~Markus Zusak
Fiction- young adult
Rate: 3..."


I still haven't read it and i appreciate your thoughts on the book, Alias. I remember the praise when it was released and it's still on my list but when i see it, i just don't pick it up. I appreciate that you fill us in on your book group's impressions, as it offers us a broader perspective.

Sumofparts wrote: "The Book of Negroes (Someone Knows My Name in the US)
..."


This book sounds good, so i'm glad to know how much you liked it. Like you, i know little of those Black Loyalists who ended up in Nova Scotia during and after our revolution. Their thanks for serving during the war was mixed. Cornwallis abandoned his black soldiers, who were re-enslaved. Other British commanders felt obliged to live up to the promise of freedom but had trouble doing so. Their status as freedmen was also part of the treaty ending the war; they were considered property to be returned.

deb


message 14: by Fiona (Titch) (new)

Fiona (Titch) Hunt (titch) Tollesbury Time Forever - Stuart Ayris

5/5

What an amazing and thought provoking book. Stuart Ayris is a great author and with attention to detail of what it's like to deal with people with Mental Illness and life.

Last Train From Liguria - Christine Dwyer Hickey

4 star

A very different genre for me. 1 that made me look at the Italy and German war more.

Office Politics - Sharon Gerlach

4 star

What a hilarious kind of book. A good pick me up and reading about Office Politics and things in a light-hearted way.

Cut Short - Leigh Russell

4 star

A good book for her 1st in the series.

Fairy Tale Flirts 5 Romantic Short Stories - Lisa Scott

4 star

What an amazing set of 5 stories taken from 5 wonderful Fairy Tales.

Uncle Mildred and Other Stories - Ian Ayris

4 star

What a funny 15 short stories. It had me giggling at the antics of these poor unfortunate people and what they got up to. A good read and can't wait to read his 1st novel out soon

Shattered - Karl Jones

5 star

Well, what can I say about this book. It had me gripped from beginning to the end. Had me doubting what I thought I knew and boy I was correct of who did it, but my mind made me think was it that person or not.

A MUST READ for all Thriller fans.


Survival, YA Paranormal Romance - A.M. Hargrove

4 star

Wow, what a book. Never in a million years would I read this style of book. It's not quite Sci-fi as the author led me to believe when I read the Synopsis lol. There is a few spelling mistakes, but it drew me in like any other Paranormal Romance I had read before, but with a slight twist to the story.

I wasn't expecting to like the storyline or the characters, I had to ask the author was it worth me reading it as it wasn't grabbing me like I thought it would. I was pleasantly surprised and now can't wait to read her next in the series



message 15: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments I was surprised to see i only read three books in February because i felt as though i read all month. However, rereading Moby Dick took up a big hunk of time and i'm still not finished, so it's not included below.

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard. This is a very good book, imo, but this may be because i knew nothing of James Garfield and ended up loving him. James Garfield, what a hero, was practically drafted to be the Republican nominee. Indeed, he gave the nominating speech for someone else but impressed the crowd. The book includes scientific ideas popular at the time & how they were tried (or not) to help heal the President. The man who shot him wasn't too far off in blaming the physicians for actually killing Garfield.

Zone One by Colson Whitehead. As the expression goes, "If you only read one zombie novel, let it be this one." Ok, i may have coined that expression. I am not, repeat NOT, a fan of undead literature and just don't get the fascination. However, i am a fan of Whitehead and was willing to give this a try. His use of English is incredibly rich. Additionally, he thoughtfully explores what it would be like to fight the undead (he never calls them zombies) on a day after day basis. WARNING: I know many here do not like stories which switch in time & this one is rife with flashback. However, like Cormac McCarthy, the writing overcomes the violence, the insanity and any other prejudices you may have about the genre when you start reading it.

John Quincy Adams: A Public Life, a Private Life by Paul C. Nagel. Part of my continued quest to read a biography about each U.S. President, in chronological order. I certainly got a flavor of politics and history of the time but this book was more centered on JQA's journals. Adams began writing his thoughts in journals at an early age, while still "at home", and continued almost to the very end of his life. They are a valuable collection of Americana. Nagel serves Adams well but because i wanted more of a balance between history and the human, i was a bit disappointing. Additionally, i think Nagel did a poor job, at times, in putting what JQA was doing in historical context.

deb


message 16: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16987 comments Fiona (Titch) wrote: "Tollesbury Time Forever - Stuart Ayris

5/5

What an amazing and thought provoking book. Stuart Ayris is a great author and with attention to detail of what it's li..."

---------

Nice reading month, Fiona !


message 17: by Alias Reader (last edited Mar 01, 2012 12:05PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16987 comments Madrano wrote:
Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard. This is a very good book, imo, but this may be because i knew nothing of James Garfield and ended up loving him. James Garfield, what a hero, was practically drafted to be the Republican nominee. Indeed, he gave the nominating speech for someone else but impressed the crowd. The book includes scientific ideas popular at the time & how they were tried (or not) to help heal the President. The man who shot him wasn't too far off in blaming the physicians for actually killing Garfield.
-------------

I enjoyed listening to the author a lot on Book TV and I can't wait to read this book. Thanks for the review.


message 18: by Fiona (Titch) (new)

Fiona (Titch) Hunt (titch) Alias Reader wrote: "Fiona (Titch) wrote: "Tollesbury Time Forever - Stuart Ayris

5/5

What an amazing and thought provoking book. Stuart Ayris is a great author and with attention to ..."


Wait til this month's up Alias, I can't wait lol x


message 19: by Lesley (new)

Lesley | 239 comments I didn't like The Book Thief at all. It was a struggle the whole way and I wondered if I had totally missed something. I get that YA readers may like it.


message 20: by Alias Reader (last edited Mar 01, 2012 01:17PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16987 comments Lesley wrote: "I didn't like The Book Thief at all. It was a struggle the whole way and I wondered if I had totally missed something. I get that YA readers may like it."
====================
To be honest it took me a good 100 pages to get into the flow of the book. If it wasn't for my f2f book group I would have quit. And the fact that the book was 500+ pages didn't help.


message 21: by Shay (new)

Shay | 61 comments 34. Article 5 by Kristen Simmons by Kristen Simmons. 368 pages. Why do most YA books have to have a romantic element? While not a horrible YA book, this was a pretty middle of the road, mediocre book. Maybe 2 1/2 stars.
35. Breaking Dawn (Twilight, #4) by Stephenie Meyer by Stephenie Meyer. 768 pages. I didn't really like this one- too melodramatic, I think. Don't want to say why- too spoiler-ish. Maybe 2 1/2- 3 stars.
36. The Witches Of Eastwick by John Updike by John Updike. 307 pages Wow, this book is all kinds of awful. Missed opportunities for starters- the author mentions Rhode Island, the setting of this book, in connection with Anne Hutchinson. Hutchinson was banished from the Puritan colony for being unorthodox, but also for basically being a woman who was gaining influence. But, the author doesn't do anything with this theme, just leaves it dangling. I guess this book wouldn't be so bad if you didn't know this was the author with enough talent to write the Rabbit series. And then he produces this.
37. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote by Truman Capote. 343 pages. I can't help but think that Capote did not manage to keep his personal feelings out of this- that the death penalty is wrong. This serves to make the book feel kind of exploitative and voyeuristic. This makes it a 3 and not 4 star book for me.
38. The Edge of Reason (Bridget Jones #2) by Helen Fielding by Helen Fielding. 352 pages. I read the first book, Brigit Jones Diary, for a challenge last month. It was decent- 3 star read. More importantly, it was a fast read and I don't normally read chick-lit. So, when I needed another chick-lit book for a challenge, I thought of this book. Especially since, obviously, it's set up diary style which is usually an extra fast read. Well, when a book is just awful, which this one was, it's not a fast read. It's horribly, painfully, slow as you force your way to the end. I don't know how much energy to devote debating a 1 or 2 star rating.
39. A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson by Joshilyn Jackson. 322 pages. I loved Jackson's book, Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson , but not other books that she's written. But, I borrowed this- her newest- anyway. In some ways, it's better than "gods". In that it's more emotionally resonate, with more fleshed out characters, etc.
40. Pineapple Grenade A Novel by Tim Dorsey by Tim Dorsey. 342 pages. Some mystery series churn out the same stuff, book after book, until you just wish the author would stop writing. (Janet Evanovich) This book- same story over and over- yet somehow that's what brings you back.
41. Maid to Match by Deeanne Gist by Deeanne Gist. 363 pages. Was looking for a clean romance book for a reading challenge. Don't like the romance genre at all and I especially don't like smut. So, a Christian historical romance seemed like a good choice. Especially one set on the Biltmore estate in Asheville, NC. I thought this was a really good book. I think even a non-Christian could read this- it wasn't preachy. But yes, of course, they sometimes prayed for guidance. I thought it did a good job, though, in showing the struggle of living a good life.
42. The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht by Téa Obreht. 338 pages. There are parts of this book- the grandfather's stories- that are so stunningly good, you think you've finally found a book that matches its hype. Then, you have to slog through the other parts of the book. Then you have to deal with the fact that the author has problems transitioning back and forth and making meaningful connections between the two. Hopefully, this is not the author's only "good" story she has in her and will improve with the next book.
43. Blood, Bones, and Butter The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton by Gabrielle Hamilton. 304 pages. Parts of this book were great- the description of food, scenes from her childhood. Other parts- the memoir/personal parts of her adult life...not so good. I think that what you came to is you didn't like the author very much. I guess you could call that honesty, but it was also just very boring, dull, and annoying.
44. A Catered St. Patrick's Day by Isis Crawford by Isis Crawford. 323 pages. It shouldn't be this hard to read a fluff book that's supposed to be pure escapism. I had to force myself to finish.
45. Interview with the Vampire (Vampire Chronicles, #1) by Anne Rice by Anne Rice. 342 pages. Vampires have definitely undergone many makeovers through the years. The most recent incarnations can probably trace much of their qualities to this book. I remember falling in love with this book in high school. Now, I see it as a definite cut above most other current vampire books. More philosophical and more original. But, wow, Louis is an annoying whiner.
46. Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes by Karl Marlantes. 690 pages. Quite simply, any war novel I read in the future will be compared to this book. The author described the time, place, and people so vividly and perfectly that I will never be able to look at a news story about war again without thinking of this book. The human cost of war, at the individual level, is monumental.
47. Wild Wild Death (Pepper Martin #8) by Casey Daniels by Casey Daniels. 287 pages. Recently, I haven't been enjoying cozy mysteries the way I always have.
48. The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen by Melissa Jensen. 380 pages. A contemporary YA novel with romance. On the plus side- a relatively "clean" book- although there is some swearing, but no sex. I think there's a sameness to most/all books like this- the most handsome/richest/popular boy in school falls in love with misfit girl... eventually. So, whether a book is good or not often comes down to, "Do you like the characters?" Well, we don't get to know the boy very well- which is okay, I guess since "the boy" is really "symbolic" of the girl's hidden "worth", right? Overall, all the main characters are well done, you like them, etc. A 3 1/2 star book.
49. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami by Haruki Murakami. 607 pages. This can be considered a companion novel to 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami in that they share a character, time frame, and many themes. This novel is not as technically complex as 1Q84. It doesn't have as many allusions or as complex a "mythology", but it's also somehow more magical and feels more effortlessly literary. If that makes sense.
50. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson by Helen Simonson. 358 pages. This book is sweet and charming- the perfect book to read if you're in a reading slump or just finished a depressing book. Its main fault is the "American" ending- a little to melodramatic for such a quiet book.
51. How To Be Black by Baratunde R. Thurston by Baratunde R. Thurston. 254 pages. The author manages to write a book about racism that's both satirical and funny.
52. I am Ozzy by Ozzy Osbourne by Ozzy Osbourne. 391 pages. If you grew up in the 80's, you probably have some memories of Ozzy as a madman. Not being a metalhead, I'm familiar with Ozzy's MTV songs- the more well known stuff. I wasn't a fanatic. But, I loved the Osbourne's- the MTV reality show. This book gives you a good rundown of the high and low points of Ozzy's life. Surprised at how much of the disgusting Ozzy stories are actually true. Yuck. Not recommended unless you're a fan.
54. Salt A World History by Mark Kurlansky by Mark Kurlansky. 484 pages. A very entertaining book about the role salt has played in history. Some of his points are a stretch. Also, the author seems to be unaware of some basic cultural knowlege, but I guess it's understandable given that this book really does encompass thousands of years, from east to west. A 3 1/2 star book.
55. The Memoirs Of Cleopatra by Margaret George by Margaret George. 1139 pages. This is one of my favorite Historical Fiction authors. I thought this was a great book- battle scenes at the end were a little too drawn out.
56. Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen by A.C. Gaughen. 292 pages. I like Robin Hood stories. This one sounded interesting- Will Scarlet as a girl in disguise. The premise was really the best thing about this book. 2 stars.
57. A Thousand Lives The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown by Julia Scheeres by Julia Scheeres. 307 pages. I really like how this book is set up. It starts by giving you a feel for the context of society and why the church founded by Jim Jones really resonated with people. It allowed you to see the people as idealistic rather than mindless drones. There's a picture in the photo section of about a dozen babies in the Jonestown nursery, with a caption that basically says none of them survived. It brought tears to my eyes to think that those beautiful children are dead and that had they survived they would be almost my age. Very sad, heartbreaking end.
58. Below Stairs The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey" by Margaret Powell by Margaret Powell. 212 pages. Cute, charming. An interesting memoir about the lower classes/servant class in the early the 20th century.
59. Roots by Alex Haley by Alex Haley. 899 pages. This is one of those books that really helped to change the world, I think. I remember being a small child when the miniseries based on this book was first shown on TV. Most people I know had never met a black person in their lives, but were completely riveted to the TV and the story of Kunta Kinte and his descendants. I think a lot of prejudice is just based on fear, which is from ignorance. Which can happen when you have absolutely no knowledge about something. Haley's book was in many ways the beginning of the modern conversation about race. Oh, and it's a really good book as well.


message 22: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16987 comments Absolutely excellent reading month, Shay. Sorry you had some clunkers in the bunch. I enjoyed reading your reviews, especially the Thurston book as I have it on my TBR list.

Despite its size, you make me want to consider putting Matterhorn on my TBR list.


message 23: by Carolyn (in SC) C234D (last edited Mar 01, 2012 02:28PM) (new)

Carolyn (in SC) C234D | 82 comments Marialyce wrote: "Sumofparts wrote: "Only fiction this month; all novels except for War Dances, which was a collection of shorter pieces of writing.

I read and so enjoyed Someone Knows My Name, as well as The Brief Wondrous Life..... I loved Freedom as well, but could not get through his The Corrections. He is a very wordy author!"
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Years ago I started Franzen's THE CORRECTIONS. I came upon what I think was the longest sentence I had ever seen in my life--by the time I figured out what the first part meant I had forgotten the rest of it. That just turned me off, I never finished the book.



Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) I had a pretty quiet reading month. I read along with Shay

Matterhorn a most definite 5 star read.
One certainly walks away with a whole new respect for these young Marines in Vietnam in the seventies who gave so much, some to the point of losing their lives and limbs. They are surely owed an immense sense of gratitude from this nation. Unfortunately, it is not until fairly recently that these men are receiving the admiration of the American public and for that we should be ashamed. These men sacrificed everything for a jungle that in the past, meant something to our government. There is not a man among our vets who does not deserve our utmost respect and adoration and I am extremely glad Karl Marlantes pointed that out so eloquently in this novel. I am humbled by the experience of reading this novel. A book not to be missed...

In Cold Blood 3 stars
Capote explores many questions about murder plus the one we still debate today, whether capital punishment is the way to deal with people who perpetrate heinous crimes. He introduces the characters to you in a manner that is unnerving, while you the reader know the result, the victims don't yet, so you are there as the murders are committed. Capote purposedly does not relate the how of the crime until the mid section off the book leaving you as unbalanced as the people of the community. He relates events that read like fiction although very well aware that this was a real event.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. 2 stars
I really can't say this book did much for me. I wanted to like it and having taught a number of autistic children there should have been a connection point at some time in the story. It didn't happen though for me as I never could feel close to the characters although their story was one that should have reached my heart strings.

Homer & Langley. 3 stars
I have to say I really enjoyed this book based ficticoulsly on the Collyer brothers. I remember the old saying that your home looks like Collyer's mansion to denote you really needed to clean up and throw out the junk. These boys did collect a lot of junk!

The Children's Book 3 stars for writing a technically perfect novel but....
I think in essence, there was an extraordinary tale to tell. However, because many or even most of the characters seemed to traverse through life as little more than stones, the brilliance of the writing was lost. I like my characters to have a soul, to be real in all senses and I just could not begin to get close to a one of them in the pages of this book. Sad, to say, but for me it took a monumental amount of effort to finish the book and when I did, I was not at all sorry to see it end or to ever conceive of myself ever revisiting this novel again. .

Say You're One of Them. 2 stars
Sorry to say, but even though Oprah selected this book in 2009, I can't say her recommendation holds much merit. This could have been outstanding telling of the ills of Africa, but instead became a wooden telling of wooden characters in a time that should have ripped one's heart out.


message 25: by Shay (last edited Mar 01, 2012 03:54PM) (new)

Shay | 61 comments Marialyce, I gave "Curious Incident" 2 stars as well. Read it a while back, but as a mother of an Aspie, I was offended. The author was/is a special education teacher and did teach children with autism. However, the home life seemed so false. Now, I know all kids are different, but most Aspie kids are surprisingly "normal" at home. The problem is teachers and doctors only see them in clinical settings- the worst place to judge an Aspie because they're out of their comfort zone. (Which is the worst thing you can do to an Aspie.) My son- and most Aspies I know- are affectionate, loving, funny. With people they know and trust implicitly. And, those people may only be 1 or 2 people on the planet. So, I'll agree the author is an expert on Aspies educationally, but not in the home setting. And, because books, movies, and TV are how Aspies come to be viewed by the general public, to have them portrayed so falsely and negatively just is heartbreaking to me. It limits what people think Aspies can do.


Marialyce (absltmom, yaya) Shay wrote: "Marialyce, I gave "Curious Incident" 2 stars as well. Read it a while back, but as a mother of an Aspie, I was offended. The author was/is a special education teacher and did teach children with au..."

Very poorly done and as you so well said it was a chance totally missed to show these children in a true understanding manner.


message 27: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie H (stephy711) | 45 comments Lesley wrote: "I enjoyed a few really good reads this month.

The City of Joy Set in anand nagar slum in Kolkata, this novel is based on a Polish missionary's experiences as he lives in the slum a..."


I never enjoyed To Kill a Mockingbird when I read it in school, but I enjoyed it when I read it a second time. Glad you had a chance to read it


message 28: by Stephanie (new)

Stephanie H (stephy711) | 45 comments February 2012
A Game of Thrones -George R. R. Martin (835 pages)
With the new season starting soon, I had to start reading the series for myself. The book was enjoyable and very fast paced. It's not particularly well written (the use of the word "jape" and really awkward sex scenes) but still enjoyable

The Hunger Games -Suzanne Collins (374 pages)
I needed to read this with the movie coming up later this month. I finished it in a day and a half. I don't normally like Young Adult fiction, but I loved this book

Catching Fire -Suzanne Collins (391 pages)
Great continuation to the hunger games. Probably liked it just as much, though it has some flaws/repetition from the 1st book.

Mockingjay -Suzanne Collins (390 pages)
Very unsatisfactory ending to the hunger games saga, but I'm still glad I finished the series.

The Help -Kathryn Stockett (451 pages)
Read this book for bookclub. It was a fast read, but I wasn't thrilled with it. It felt like it belittled the theme, and I absolutely hate the use of dialect in books.

Steve Jobs -Walther Isaacson (630 pages)
One of the better biographies I've read. It has an easy flow, pays attention to chronology, yet organizes the book according to themes so as not to interrupt a good story. It also made me realize that Steve Jobs was a dirty hippie and a bit of an asshole. Actually, more than a bit...

Slouching Towards Bethlehem -Joan Didion (238 pages)
I loved this book. Of course, it makes sense since I am a malcontent, educated woman in my 20s who is still trying to find my purpose in life. It's a collection of essays that really gets at the core of humanity. They're so well written and make everyone seem so hollow and sad, but that was what I loved most about it.


message 29: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 669 comments Shay, how do you read so many big books in one month? I could read all day, every day, and not finish that many!

I also though Blood, Bones, and Butter was dreadful and, like you, did not like the author AT ALL!


message 30: by Lesley (new)

Lesley | 239 comments I love reading these quick reviews for the month. I think this is where I get most of my to-read ideas; I have added another six already.


message 31: by Lesley (last edited Mar 01, 2012 08:14PM) (new)

Lesley | 239 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Lesley wrote:
A Year in Tibet: A Voyage of Discovery A Chinese journo goes to the Shigatze area in Tibet to film a documentary, and comes away with some good experiences and some not so. I felt som..."


The Long March: The True History of Communist China's Founding Myth is at my library so I probably should get around to that some time.


message 32: by Lesley (new)

Lesley | 239 comments I really enjoyed Someone Knows My Name and knew very little about the history of the subject.

Alentejo Bluelooks pretty good. I have Brick Lane on my bookshelf but haven't got around to it yet.


message 33: by Alias Reader (last edited Mar 01, 2012 08:44PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16987 comments Marilyce-
Homer & Langley. 3 stars
I have to say I really enjoyed this book based ficticoulsly on the Collyer brothers. I remember the old saying that your home looks like Collyer's mansion to denote you really needed to clean up and throw out the junk. These boys did collect a lot of junk!
-------------------

I enjoyed the story of Homer and Langley. I thought the writing was very, too. I first heard of the Collyer's because my mom used that phrase !

I enjoyed Curious Incident more than you did. Shay I am surprised you thought the portrayal of Christopher was negative. I thought he was a very endearing character. But I guess I was reading it from a different perspective. For me he was just a fictional character.

I had to read In Cold Blood in High School. It scared the heck out of me.

Nice reading month, Marialyce. I can't believe you and Shay read the huge Matterhorn and then was able to read so many other books. You guys are reading machines !


message 34: by Alias Reader (last edited Mar 01, 2012 08:43PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16987 comments Stephanie wrote:
The Help -Kathryn Stockett (451 pages)
Read this book for bookclub. It was a fast read, but I wasn't thrilled with it. It felt like it belittled the theme, and I absolutely hate the use of dialect in books.

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I read this with my F2F book group. The majority loved it but I felt as you did.

Very nice reading month, Stephanie.


message 35: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 669 comments Shay, I also came away from Curious Incident thinking what a nice young man Christopher was....endearing, as Alias said.


message 36: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 669 comments Stephanie wrote:
The Help -Kathryn Stockett ......
Read this book for bookclub. It was a fast read, but I wasn't thrilled with it. It felt like it belittled the theme, and I absolutely hate the use of dialect in books.


I also hate the use of dialect. That just ruins a book for me and this one was no exception. The movie, IMO, was even worse than the book.


message 37: by Lesley (new)

Lesley | 239 comments I also didn't think much of The Help. I thought it had too many stereotypes, and I struggled at times with the dialect.


message 38: by Debbie (new)

Debbie (debatl) | 36 comments I thought I was the only one who didn't rave about The Help. My daughter saw the movie and loved it and is now reading the book. I dont know if it ws entirely the dialect, but I thought it was 100 oages too long. Another book that came out shorly after The Help, but along similar lines, Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt by Bey Huffman, I thought ws better written and had no dialect in it.


message 39: by Julie (new)

Julie (readerjules) | 1204 comments Shay wrote: "Now, I know all kids are different, but most Aspie kids are surprisingly "normal" at home. The problem is teachers and doctors only see them in clinical settings- the worst place to judge an Aspie because they're out of their comfort zone. ..."

I read The Curious Incident when we had the group read awhile ago and as far as his home life, I think I judged his parents more negatively than him!


message 40: by thewanderingjew (new)

thewanderingjew | 138 comments Shay wrote: "Marialyce, I gave "Curious Incident" 2 stars as well. Read it a while back, but as a mother of an Aspie, I was offended. The author was/is a special education teacher and did teach children with au..."

Have you read Three Weeks In December? I am curious about how you feel autism was treated in that? One of the main characters, a scientist, has aspergers, and she is highly functioning. I am curious as to whether or not the author's depiction of aspergers and autism is accurate since I am thinking of presenting the book to my book group, in the fall.


message 41: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments I know i've mentioned this in other discussions but i didn't really even notice the dialects in The Help. I mean, i knew they were there but i wasn't bothered by them & didn't even realize that they were uneven as far as who used them. It was too long and just fine. I also felt Curious Incident was only so-so. I wouldn't recommend either, though.

It's great to see what everyone read this month. I had to laugh at Lesley, who wrote, "
The Long March: The True History of Communist China's Founding Myth is at my library so I probably should get around to that some time.
. Does this mean you are reluctant to read it or just wondering where you'll find the time to read it? Either way, it sounds as though it would be interesting book on the topic.

deb


message 42: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Shay wrote: "I can't help but think that Capote did not manage to keep his personal feelings out of this- that the death penalty is wrong. This serves to make the book feel kind of exploitative and voyeuristic. This makes it a 3 and not 4 star book for me...."

This is about In Cold Blood. I read it in '70 and didn't see the personal feelings, although something seemed amiss in the attention given to Perry Smith but i'm not one to study criminals, so i figured that's the way things went in that genre. However, upon rereading the book recently, it was glaringly evident that Capote was fascinated by Smith. Time will do that. I still absolutely value the book and feel it is a first rate book.

Shay wrote: "The author manages to write a book about racism that's both satirical and funny."...
This is about How To Be Black. The summary reminds me of a book i read 5 or so years ago, How to Rent a Negro by damali ayo. Good, funny, yet close-to-home at times.

Shay wrote: "A very entertaining book about the role salt has played in history. Some of his points are a stretch. Also, the author seems to be unaware of some basic cultural knowlege, but I guess it's understandable given that this book really does encompass thousands of years, from east to west. A 3 1/2 star book.

This is about Salt: A World History. I read this with a group & we pretty much felt the way you did. He could have cut quite a bit. Am i misremembering, were there recipes for salting as a preservative? Maybe it just seemed that way. He went overboard. That written, when we were in Germany & i saw one of their old "salt houses" by the Danube river, i was tickled & shared the title & contents with people nearby.

Shay wrote: "Recently, I haven't been enjoying cozy mysteries the way I always have."

I hear ya! These used to be my go-to books for wind-downs or slump removing. Not any more. It's been awhile since i felt really good as (or after) i read one. I'm hoping if i leave them alone long enough, the thrill will return when i'm confined to bed or such. It's nice to know i'm not alone, in a way, though.

deb


message 43: by Alias Reader (last edited Mar 02, 2012 06:22PM) (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16987 comments Madrano wrote: so i figured that's the way things went in that genre.
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Wasn't In Cold Blood the first of its kind as far as that type of book is concerned? I believe that is one of the reasons for its status as a classic.

I did a search on the internet to see if this was addressed and found a review on GR about it.

"True crime fiction is now everywhere, in books and films. We accept writers creating plausible dialog for characters who depict real persons. Truman Capote did it first. In Cold Blood was a completely new genre, and a lot of people objected to it when the book came out. Capote had to speak for characters he never met and never interviewed - the members of the Clutter family. "How dare he," people thought. But, this book grips the reader's attention as no third-person, documentary reporting could. The reader invests emotion in the characters because they become real - loving family members and terrified victims. We quickly realize, this is a family we could have known; what happened to them could happen to any one of us. When you read In Cold Blood, remember that no one had written a book like this before, and you will see the genius in the work. "
http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_...

From wiki
Some critics consider Capote's work the original non-fiction novel... In Cold Blood is regarded by critics as a pioneering work of the true crime genre.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_Cold_...


message 44: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 669 comments I also thought that Saving CeeCee Honeycutt was a better book than THE HELP. I am looking forward to the author's next book.


message 45: by JoAnn/QuAppelle (new)

JoAnn/QuAppelle | 669 comments The Cove: A Novel by Ron Rash 5 stars
Another amazing book by this outstanding author. He writes of lost souls and of tentative and short-lived happiness in a place said to be cursed. Never a spare word in his books....but he tells a story it would take a lesser writer 500 pages to tell. The writing is flawless. I read this in one day!

Aftertaste: A Novel in Five Courses by Meredith Mileti 4 stars
Really liked this foodie book... Especially liked the part in Pittsburgh, a real foodie city. Kept me reading late a couple of nights.

The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy 5 stars
Excellent story. I am obsessed with all things "Guernsey" and loved this book. Leroy tells a good story, concisely and without a lot of frou-frou to detract from the main line. Characters were well-developed and realistic. I do think Vivienne took an awful chance, doing what she did.

Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner 3 stars
Four women, four good stories, one thread tying them together. An entertaining story that was a quick read. A few too many coincidences.

Sharpshooter by Nadia Gordon 3.5 stars
I always like books with chefs or restaurants or food in them....this had all three plus wine/Napa Valley, one of my favorite places. A quick and easy read. A bit of a surprise at the end.

I agree with another reader who said that the character descriptions were lacking, especially that of Sunny, the narrator. And Sunny becoming a "private investigator" was a bit of a stretch. I will try #2 in this series.


Carolyn (in SC) C234D | 82 comments According to my reading journal, I only completed two books in February!

Look Again--This was for my book group, and was an okay suspense thriller, about a single mother, a reporter, who one day sees a "Have you seen this child?" flyer, and realizes that it is the spitting image of her adopted son. Problem was, this type of book, while I enjoy the genre, is usually a poor choice for a book club discussion. 3/5 stars

Bossypants--Pretty funny most of the time, but she sometimes seemed to be trying too hard for a joke. Lots of interesting information about her background and career, but many areas were just glossed over. 3/5 stars

Not sure why only two titles, but it's been a month with a lot going on in the health department, and I've been trying to make progress in clearing out periodicals. I'm also hooked on the eaglecam at the Norfolk Botanical Garden!


message 47: by Michele (new)

Michele Weiner | 161 comments I read

Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero I enjoyed the book, but it wasn't the best history I ever read. It's based on interviews with people who knew Jack Kennedy and had some insight, I think, but was a little light.

The Face Thief: A Novel This was a mystery about a female con artist and her victims. I think I gave it three stars at the time I reviewed it, but when I tried to remember it today, I drew a blank and had to look it up.

The Obamas An interesting picture of the Obamas' tenure in the White House that sometimes strays from the facts a little bit too far for comfort. It's one of those books that relies heavily on unnamed sources. I was uncomfortable with the author, too, when I saw her repeatedly on TV shows. But if you use your judgement, I think you can learn something.

Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman A powerful woman, but a boring bio. Too many facts, too little color.

No Mark Upon Her A little British police procedural mystery that I didn't like all that much. Sometimes the British get on my last nerve, frankly. The rowing culture going off the deep end. An unlikely perp. This was a Gemma Jones book, and I won't read the series.


message 48: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16987 comments JoAnn/QuAppelle wrote: "The Cove: A Novel by Ron Rash 5 stars
Another amazing book by this outstanding author. He writes of lost souls and of tentative and short-lived happiness in a place said to be cur..."

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That's some endorsement ! I think I'll keep this one in mind for when I need a change of pace.

Is this a series I need to read in order ?


message 49: by Alias Reader (new)

Alias Reader (aliasreader) | 16987 comments Carolyn (in SC) C234D wrote: "According to my reading journal, I only completed two books in February!

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February did seem to fly by. I may take a look at Bossy Pants if I see it on the library shelf for a change of pace read.


message 50: by Madrano (new)

Madrano (madran) | 3732 comments Alias Reader wrote: "Wasn't In Cold Blood the first of its kind as far as that type of book is concerned? I believe that is one of th..."

I think at the time it was published most of us (not in the business) just thought of it as a book about a murder, one well written. Only in retrospect did we start adding the "non-fiction novel" description, which is perfect, imo. I'm not fond of the genre but Capote had a talent with words which makes this one i actually reread. Thanks for the research.


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