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75 Books Challenge for 2013: brenpike reads

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75 Books Challenge for 2013

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Edited: Jun 30, 2013, 4:05pm Top

Back for a third year . . . Bring on the challenges!

January, 2013

1. Flight Behavior Barbara Kingsolver
2. Gift From the Sea Anne Morrow Lindbergh
3. Sweet Tooth Ian McEwan
4. In Red Magdalena Tulli
5. Mozart's Journey to Prague Eduard Morike
6. The Land of Green Plums Herta Muller
7. The People on Privilege Hill Jane Gardam
8. Ablutions Patrick deWitt
9. Kitchen Confidential Anthony Bourdain
10. 419 Will Ferguson
11. Coming to My Senses: A Story of Perfume, Pleasure, and an Unlikely Bride Alyssa Harad
12. The Man With the Dancing Eyes Sophie Dahl
13. In the Shadow of the Banyan Vaddey Ratner
14. Thunderstruck Erik Larson
15. Anil's Ghost Michael Ondaatje
16. The Fall of the House of Usher Edgar Allen Poe
17. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian Marina Lewycka
18. Harold and the Purple Crayon Crockett Johnson
19. Notes of a Native Son James Baldwin

February, 2013

20. Ashes and Diamonds Jerzy Andrzejewski
21. What It Is Like To Go To War Karl Marlantes
22. Dangerous Water: A Biography of the Boy who Became Mark Twain Ron Powers
23. Apricots on the Nile: A Memoir with Recipes Colette Rossant
24. The Collected Stories Isaac Bashevis Singer
25. Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes Elizabeth Bard
26. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Ben Fountain
27. Last Night at the Lobster Stewart O'Nan
28. Dear, Dear Brenda Henry Miller, Brenda Venus
29. Mornings on Horseback David McCullough
30. The Orphan Master's Son Adam Johnson

March, 2013

31. Fateless Imre Kertesz
32. Breath, Eyes, Memory Edwidge Danticat
33. This Is Not My Hat Jon Klassen
34. Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight Alexandra Fuller
35. Mortality Christopher Hitchens
36. The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo Tom Reiss
37. Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948 Madeleine Albright
38. Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table Ruth Reichl
39. Splendors and Glooms Laura Amy Schlitz
40. The Burgess Boys Elizabeth Strout

April, 2013

41. NW Zadie Smith
42. Where'd You Go, Bernadette Maria Semple
43. 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement Jane Ziegelman
44. Juliet's Moon Ann Rinaldi
45. May We Be Forgiven A.M. Homes
46. The People of Forever Are Not Afraid Shani Boianjiu
47. Time's Shadow: Remembering a Family Farm in Kansas
Arnold Bauer
48. Case Histories Kate Atkinson
49. The Mistress's Daughter A.M. Homes
50. Caleb's Crossing Geraldine Brooks
51. Paradise of the Blind Duong Thu Huong
52. The Things They Carried Tim O'Brien

May, 2013

53. Dreams in a Time of War Ngugi wa Thiong'o
54. One Good Turn Kate Atkinson
55. Mary Coin Marisa Coin
56. Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953 Elizabeth Winder
57. The zigzag kid David Grossman
58. Stone Upon Stone Wieslaw Mysliwski
59. Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West Blaine Harden
60. The German Mujahid Boualem Sansal
61. Life After Life Kate Atkinson

June, 2013

62. Grace: A Memoir Grace Coddington
63. Last Friends Jane Gardam
64. Restoration Rose Tremain
65. Going After Cacciato Tim O'Brien
66. The House of Special Purpose John Boyne
67. The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath
68. Wonder R.J. Palacio
69. The Sign on Rosie's Door Maurice Sendak
70. A Sick Day for Amos McGee Philip Stead, Erin Stead
71. Blueberries for Sal Robert McCloskey
72. And the Mountains Echoed Khaled Hosseini
73. Class Conflicts in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby Claudia Johnson
74. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald
75. The Gift of Rain Tan Twan Eng
76. In the Lake of the Woods Tim O'Brien
77. Farming the Dust Bowl: A First Hand Account from Kansas Lawrence Svobida
78. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading Nina Sankovitch

Dec 27, 2012, 11:03pm Top

saved for Brenda. . .

Dec 28, 2012, 12:11pm Top

Welcome back!

Dec 31, 2012, 7:29am Top

Hi Brenda - Happy New Year!

Dec 31, 2012, 7:32am Top

Glad to see you back with us, Brenda! Have a happy new year!

Jan 3, 2013, 5:53pm Top

Welcome back, Brenda!

Jan 3, 2013, 6:17pm Top

Hi there!

Edited: Nov 30, 2013, 4:06pm Top

1. Flight Behavior Barbara Kingsolver

An easy read, somewhat predictable, centered around a young mother of two whose world is changed when the Appalachian Woods behind her home is suddenly the roosting location of migratory monarch butterflies.

3 1/2 stars
Jan TIOLI #7
13x10 #7
Orange SL, 2013

Jan 4, 2013, 7:32pm Top

Nothing wrong with an easy, predictable read once in awhile, is there? I've put a shiny bright star at the top of your thread so I can follow your reading this year, Brenda. I've read twice as many books as you so far. Ha ha! I have to brag about it because I know I'll be eating your dust by the end of the week end!

Jan 4, 2013, 7:34pm Top

Nothing at all wrong with easy or predictable, in fact, sometimes that is just the combination I need in a book!
I noticed you jumped right out there on your completions . . . Way to go! : )

Edited: Jan 4, 2013, 9:36pm Top

2. Gift From the Sea Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Classic essays on women's lives and the need for self-realization published originally in 1955.

4 stars
Jan TIOLI #19
13x10 #4

Jan 5, 2013, 6:58pm Top

I'm hoping to read Flight Behavior later this year.

Jan 5, 2013, 9:51pm Top

Gift From the Sea has always been one of my very favorite books!

Jan 6, 2013, 1:12am Top

I'm still getting around to my Happy New Years, and dropping off stars. I'm planning to read Flight Behavior soonish.

Jan 6, 2013, 2:50am Top

Looks like your reading year is off to a flying start, Brenda! I am adding Flight Behavior to the BlackHole. Thanks for the recommendation.

Jan 6, 2013, 12:22pm Top

Hi Lori, Terri, Anne and Stasia. Thanks for checking in . . . Hope each of you has a relaxing day which includes plenty of reading time.

Jan 7, 2013, 9:41pm Top

3. Sweet Tooth Ian McEwan

A rather dull novel about a young woman, employed by Britian's intelligence service. Assigned a secret mission to bring an upcoming novelist into the auspices of the service's Sweet Tooth project, she predictably becomes romantically involved and must hide the real reason for their introduction.
The story redeems itself somewhat in the end, but getting there was a bit of a slog.

3 stars
Jan TIOLI #21
13x10 #5

Edited: Jan 29, 2013, 12:16am Top

4. In Red Magdalena Tulli

Stitchings, an imaginary and claustrophobic small town in Poland is the scene of 20th century's greed, inheritance and entropy in this partly real, partly magical realism tale. Interesting and weird.

3 1/2 stars
Jan TIOLI #1
13x10 #9
Reading Globally/ Poland

Jan 8, 2013, 7:37pm Top

Stopping by to say hi, Brenda. Sorry you are hitting a so-so spot with books right now.

Jan 8, 2013, 7:39pm Top

In Red tempts me. I may just give that one a try. I will have to see if my local library has a copy. Thanks for the mention, Brenda.

Jan 8, 2013, 11:10pm Top

I've avoided buying Sweet Tooth, even though Ian McEwan is one of my favorite authors. I own In Red, but I haven't gotten to it yet. I enjoyed her novel Flaw, but Moving Parts left me cold.

Jan 8, 2013, 11:40pm Top

Hi Roni, Stasia and Darryl. I wouldn't recommend Sweet Tooth after having read it. If it were not a book club choice, I probably would have abandoned it. Surprising, because like you Darryl, I generally like McEwan.
Our local library had a copy of In Red, so it made borrowing and reading the small book easy. It is the first Tulli book for me. Not sure, at this point, whether I would read more by her. And what is it with the touchstones on In Red?

Jan 9, 2013, 4:49pm Top

5. Mozart's Journey to Prague Eduard Morike trans. by Leopold Von Loewenstein-Wertheim

Originally published in 1855, Morike's novella about a 1787 journey taken by Mozart and wife to Prague for the production of Don Giovanni sketches for his readers the playful character of Mozart and Constance and gives a good picture of surroundings and events of the era.

4 stars
Jan TIOLI #16
13x10 #12

Jan 9, 2013, 9:50pm Top

#23: I am a huge fan of Mozart's music, so I will definitely be checking to see if I can get my hands on that book. Thanks for the recommendation, Brenda!

Jan 9, 2013, 11:00pm Top

#24 Me, too

Jan 10, 2013, 4:05am Top

This user has been removed as spam.

Jan 10, 2013, 6:18pm Top

Hi Brenda,
Adding In Red to my library hold list.....

Jan 11, 2013, 1:33am Top

6. The Land of Green Plums Herta Muller

A partly autobiographical novel by Nobel winner Muller, a minority German born in western Romania in 1953. The story concerns a group of young villagers relocated to seek education and comraderie in urban areas of Romania under the tyranny of Nicolae Ceausescu. A powerful story about the effects of living under oppression.

4 stars
Jan TIOLI #3
13x10 #10
Reading Globally/ Romania

Jan 11, 2013, 7:20am Top

I am jealous! Six books down already?! Wow.

Jan 11, 2013, 12:58pm Top

Brenda -
You got me with The Land of Green Plums. Adding it to my wish list.

Jan 11, 2013, 8:01pm Top

Brenda - The Land of Green Plums sounds much better than The Appointment which I read last year.
Have a lovely weekend.

Jan 13, 2013, 6:27pm Top

Hi Paul and Lori. Thanks for stopping by. Hope you both enjoy The Land of Green Plums.

Jan 13, 2013, 6:30pm Top

7. The People on Privilege Hill Jane Gardam

A collection of short stories, the first of which is about Feathers, Veneering and the crowd from Old Filth and The Man in the Wooden Hat, two enjoyable novels by Gardam.
I like her writing and her humor, and enjoyed the short story format.

4 stars
Jan TIOLI #3
13x10 #12

Jan 13, 2013, 10:50pm Top

Land of Green Plums is on the wishlist, although it sounds very much like Chronicle in Stone by Ismail Kadare that I'm working on now, but which is going slowly. If I end up ditching CIS, it may affect my willingness to try LOGP.

Jan 13, 2013, 10:56pm Top

I think I'm going to try some Gardam this year, with the Old Filth group read. Glad you are reading some good ones.

Jan 16, 2013, 12:10am Top

8. Ablutions Patrick deWitt

A debut novel from Patrick deWitt, author of a favorite The Sister Brothers. A very funny, dark story about a bartender in a rundown Hollywood bar, his various customers, each with their own idiosyncrasies, and his decline into alcohol and drug abuse. deWitt is one funny guy whose work I enjoy immensely.

4 stars
Jan TIOLI #1
13x10 #1

Jan 16, 2013, 9:44am Top

Brenda, Green Plums sounds very interesting - and very familiar. It might already be on the wish list. Like Roni, I plan to read some Jane Gardam this year. I'll keep the short stories in mind for after Old Filth, Wooden Hat, and the third one in the trilogy due out in June.

I hope you are staying warm. My morning walks have been invigorating this week!

Jan 18, 2013, 1:53am Top

9. Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly Anthony Bourdain

A memoir by New York chef, Bourdain. I happen to appreciate Bourdain's sense of humor and adventure and so enjoy his TV appearances and his writing. Reading his memoir is like sitting across the table, listening to him talk, his voice comes across that well in his writing.

4 stars
Jan TIOLI #6
13x10 #13

Jan 18, 2013, 6:27pm Top

Brenda - I read the Anthony Bourdain memoir a few years ago and you're right; somhow you start reading the words in his nasally, laconic accent.
Have a great weekend.

Jan 18, 2013, 6:47pm Top

I recently read Mozart's Journey to Prague, it's quite a delightful novella. And pleased to see you enjoyed the stories in The People on Privilege Hill as that is one of the Gardams that I seem to have collected over the past couple of years.

Jan 18, 2013, 11:24pm Top

Hi Sandy, Roni, Donna, Paul and Kerry. Glad to see you all here.

Sandy and Donna, Land of Green Plums was not a happy read, but was, I think, a good representation of what it must be like to live under oppression. I'm hoping to read work by winners of the Nobel in the coming year, and Muller's book also worked for this quarter's Reading Globally Challenge.

Donna, Roni and Kerry, I really enjoy Jane Gardam. I read Old Filth and the Man in the Wooden Hat several years ago for a book club. I still love the concept of the books - same story told from the perspective of the husband and the wife, respectively. I'm looking forward to the third installment. I was surprised to see that the first short story in The People on Privilege Hill was also about the same characters, set later.

I read the Mozart book based on your recommendation Kerry. Have you read anything else by Morike?

Paul, Have you watched any of Bourdain's shows? "No Reservations" is an interesting show based on his travel and food experiences which airs in this country. I find him very entertaining.

Have a great weekend all.

Jan 19, 2013, 2:29am Top

Brenda - I really enjoy programme on the food/travel channel and Bourdain does both great.

Jan 21, 2013, 10:44pm Top

10. 419 Will Ferguson

Nigerian Criminal Code Section 419: Obtaining Goods Through False Pretenses.
Ferguson's (2012 Giller Winner) story starts with the suicide of an elderly Canadian man who has lost his savings and home to an on-line scam perpetuated by a distant Nigerian. The multi-layered story switches from the family of the deceased Canadian to 3 separate Nigerians whose life journeys converge at the conclusion of the book. interesting, compelling story lines, characters and settings. Recommended.

4 stars
Jan TIOLI #13
13x10 #6

Jan 22, 2013, 7:44am Top

I've been waiting for a review of 419, so thanks for your comments about it. I'll add it to my wish list.

Jan 22, 2013, 1:47pm Top

Sounds interesting

Jan 22, 2013, 4:03pm Top

Hi Sandy. How are you? Settled into your new digs? Already have that garden and orchard planned and product ordered? ;)
I did like 419 and though it was a bit of work, I would recommend it. Interesting story about Nigeria and it's people which I know little about.

Jan 22, 2013, 5:21pm Top

11. Coming to My Senses: A Story of Perfume, Pleasure, and an Unlikely Bride Alyssa Harad

A memoir by perfumista and blogger Alyssa Harad of "Now Smell This" and "Perfume-Smellin' Things". Her discovery of scent and it's importance in her life coincided with her marriage to long-time partner V. The memoir covers several years when these events occurred. I think the book would have been more interesting to me if I had familiarity with her or with perfumes in general.

3 1/2 stars
Jan TIOLI #7
13x10 #4

Jan 23, 2013, 12:27am Top

#46 Ha! :-) The new place is great. I have seed and nursery catalogs here but haven't placed an order yet. Also haven't got internet set up yet so all my LT browsing is being done on my phone. No TV yet, either, means more time for reading after we're finished unpacking boxes each day. Overall, life is good here in the country.

Jan 23, 2013, 12:40am Top

Wow! You're really roughing it with no Internet or TV! I've tried to check LT with my phone and the print is so small I can't read a thing. Glad you don't have that problem . . .

Jan 23, 2013, 12:51pm Top

Sandy> I can really sympathize with you about having to browse LT via phone, having just done that recently myself. It is really not easy.

Jan 23, 2013, 7:32pm Top

12. The Man With the Dancing Eyes Sophie Dahl

First novella written by Sophie Dahl, granddaughter of Roald Dahl and Patricia Neal. A simply charming story (and pictures) about Pierre, a young woman and her first love. A very quick, worthwhile read. Made me smile!

4 1/2 stars
Jan TIOLI #22
13x10 #1

Jan 25, 2013, 2:12pm Top

13. In the Shadow of the Banyan Vaddey Ratner

The author was 5 when her family was forced from their home in Phnom Penh. Having descended from the Cambodian royalty, their's was a life of ease quickly changed as the Khmer Rouge came to power in 1975. She chose to write a novel based on her experiences rather than a memoir as she felt she had been too young to remember details of the ordeal. What she has written is a powerful debut novel. A tribute to her father's memory and to her own strength as a survivor told through the eyes of a young child whose life is being torn apart. Highly recommended.

4 1/2 stars
Jan TIOLI #7
13x10 #1

Jan 26, 2013, 7:58am Top

There seems to be a lot of books out now similar to In the Shadow of the Banyan in which unknown writers narrate their sordid existence in "the old country" and break out into the sunshine of a new life. Many are either written by people somewhat uncomfortable with English, or use interpreters which often loses the skill of original prose. I'll put this on on the list.

Jan 27, 2013, 8:16pm Top

Brenda some fascinating reading going on over here. It is interesting to see that whilst Sophie Dahl broke the mould and looked fabulous compared to the potato headed Roald she does seem to have inherited a little of his writing genes.

Your reviews of the Will Ferguson and Vaddey Ratner have left a strong urge to go and hunt down both books.

Jan 27, 2013, 8:51pm Top

#51: Too bad my local library does not have that one. It looks like a book I would enjoy. Thanks for the recommendation, Brenda.

#52: I wish my local library would get a copy of that one too. I have had it in the BlackHole for a bit now.

Jan 28, 2013, 10:46pm Top

14. Thunderstruck Erik Larson

Two parallel stories told in alternating chapters with little connection (and then a thin one) until the end of the book. The scientific and business end of Marconi's discovery which led to wireless communication in the early 20th century is one of the stories. The other is of an American man, Hawley Crippen, who murders his wife in London. The connection of the two stories is that Marconi's invention allowed the captain of the ship Crippen and his accomplice were sailing on to report their location to authorities resulting in their arrest. I found the Marconi chapters tiresome after awhile and looked forewarn to progression of the Crippen story as I read. After Devil in the White City, Isaac's Storm, and In the Garden of Beasts, this was a disappointing read from Larson.

3 1/2 stars
Jan TIOLI #9
13x10 #3

Jan 29, 2013, 12:30am Top

15. Anil's Ghost Michael Ondaatje

The story's protagonist is a forensic anthropologist sent to her native Sri Lanka to investigate murders committed during civil war of the late 1980s. While the topic holds interest for me and the writing is good, I often found myself lost in the author's switching from setting, character, time.

3 stars
Jan TIOLI #13
13x10 #12

Jan 29, 2013, 12:45am Top

I hear you were about 20 degrees warmer than we were today, Brenda. Is that true? I would comment on the sloppy play of the Jayhawks tonight, but then I remember that you are not a fan.

Jan 29, 2013, 2:21am Top

Hi Roni. Yes, it was very warm here today. Around 75, I think. Nice!

I've been lurking around your thread enough to know you were sick last week. Glad to hear you are feeling almost back to normal. Sorry about the sloppy playing hawks . . .

Jan 29, 2013, 11:32am Top

16. The Fall of the House of Usher Edgar Allen Poe

Classic spooky story by one of the best spooky story tellers.

3 stars
Jan TIOLI #14
13x10 #12

Jan 29, 2013, 1:37pm Top

Brenda> The Sri Lanka setting sounds interesting, but it sounds like it has some execution problems. I'll probably hold off on that one.

Jan 29, 2013, 2:46pm Top

Well put Lori. Read Ondaatje's The Cat's Table instead, if you haven't already.

Jan 30, 2013, 8:05am Top

I've looked at The Cat's Table before but I'm not sure if it every made it to the TBR list. I'll add it to the additions I'm making in Evernote right now. I'm doing some tweaking on the TBR list at Amazon so it will only have the titles that I need to purchase or ILL in it. I'm putting all wish list books, including books available at my libraries, in another LT account. New additions right now are in Evernote until I have time to sort those out!

Jan 30, 2013, 11:12pm Top

Good luck with your organizing efforts Lori. . .

Jan 30, 2013, 11:21pm Top

17. A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian Marina Lewycka

A funny debut novel. When an elderly Ukrainian immigrant states his intentions to marry a much younger woman from the old country, his daughters become suspicious. Their fears he is being taken advantage of become realized and the ensuing effort to resolve the "problem" makes for some funny, and some not-so-funny situations. Lewycka, however, manages to keep everything light hearted, the result of which is an enjoyable read about family, rivalries, aging and learning to let go of the past. Recommended.

4 stars
Jan TIOLI #21
13x10 #7
Orange Shortlist, 2005
Booker Longlist, 2005
Reading Globally/ Ukraine

Jan 31, 2013, 11:03am Top

57: I'll get to Anil's Ghost sometime I suppose. It's been on the TBR shelf for such a long time that a few months (or years) won't matter. I don't find much encouragement in your review. Lol.

Brrr...it's cold here in KC. I'm babysitting for the grands while Lori and Greg are sunning in Mexico!

Jan 31, 2013, 11:57am Top

Welcome to "not-so-sunny" Kansas! I hope Lori and Greg are having a wonderful time! (sigh)

Jan 31, 2013, 7:30pm Top

18. Harold and the Purple Crayon Crockett Johnson

I love this classic children's book. So creative and imaginative! I didn't realize it was the published in 1955 until I went looking for books from my birth year.

5 stars
Jan TIOLI #19
13x10 #12

Edited: Jan 31, 2013, 8:23pm Top

Hi Brenda: As always lots of good reading here. I liked Anil's Ghost more than you did. I like the switching of time and pov. I always felt it was more personal to him because he was born there. It certainly stuck with me longer than any of his other novels although I did like The Cat's Table, too.

The Short History of Tractors in the Ukraine also sounds good.

Jan 31, 2013, 9:19pm Top

Beth, I read Anil's Ghost on my IPad and that is not the ideal method for me as it is my "after dark" book, and I have been known to succumb to sleep! I was also reading it simultaneously with several other books, so my experience and rating of it may, indeed, have been different at another time. Maybe I'll try it again, in print this time. . .

Feb 1, 2013, 12:35am Top

19. Notes of a Native Son James Baldwin

10 essays, observances and life stories, primarily on race issues, published originally in 1955. It's reading makes me realize I need to read some of the classic literature he writes about (i.e. Uncle Tom's Cabin, Native Son) as well as more Baldwin.

4 stars
Jan TIOLI #19
13x10 #11

Feb 4, 2013, 3:41pm Top

20. Ashes and Diamonds Jerzy Andrzejewski

Originally published in Poland in 1948, this story about a (fictional) small town in Poland and set in four days in May, 1945, reveals the upheaval of the war, even at it's conclusion as rivaling factions, the National Army and the Communist People's Army work to gain political dominance in Poland. A novel ultimately about the decisions people make and how those decisions are justified.

4 stars
Feb TIOLI #16
13x10 #6
Reading Globally/Poland

Feb 6, 2013, 11:37pm Top

21. What It Is Like To Go To War Karl Marlantes

In 1968, 23 year-old, Yale educated, Rhodes scholar Karl Marlantes made the decision to go to war. He spent the next 4 decades coming to terms with that decision and it's resulting effects. Here he has written a memoir/social commentary on the experience of going to war.

4 stars
Feb TIOLI #2
13x10 #4

Feb 7, 2013, 6:52am Top

#73 brenpike > I'm glad to see a comment on Marlantes' subsequent novel of Viet Nam. His Matterhorn was excellent, albeit gruesomely realistic and critical. So often the followup work is not up to par, and since it took Marlantes 40 years to get Matterhorn published, I worried that he had either lost or used up his mojo. But now there's another on the ever-lengthening list.

Feb 8, 2013, 11:01pm Top

Mike, Marlantes memoir/social commentary is a good book. I bought Matterhorn years ago and have still not read it. It feels like a book which requires just the right time and focus to delve into. I guess I'll know when the time is right. . .

Edited: Feb 9, 2013, 11:17pm Top

22. Dangerous Water: A Biography of the Boy who Became Mark Twain Ron Powers

Selected for reading by the Missouri Readers group, Power's biography focuses on Twain/Clemens boyhood. Apparently the author hails from Hannibal, MO as well.

3 stars
Feb TIOLI #5
13x10 #6

Feb 9, 2013, 6:36am Top

#75 brenpike > The time may never be "right" for some. War is dirty, nasty and politically charged chaos, which is how Marlantes describes it, with decisions being made from afar by those divorced from the reality of the moment. Matterhorn is a powerful anti-war statement. How you see it philosophically depends on many factors, and how you relate to the gory details is a consideration. Marlantes survived the risks of platoon combat and tried to write his book at the end of the Viet Nam war. No one was interested. He worked on it for decades, as a sort of PTSD therapy I would guess - kept after it - and finally found someone to publish it. It is ironic, or perhaps instructive, that so very many of our politicians who advocate military solutions to every conflict, have never been in direct combat, which includes nearly all of our presidents.

Feb 9, 2013, 10:37am Top

75: Brenda, I've been waiting for the "right" time to read Matterhorn too. I suspect that will be when it fits a TIOLI challenge!

Feb 9, 2013, 9:02pm Top

Mike, I think the reality of Vietnam was just too awful to face immediately after the fact. Was that true of our other conflicts as well?

Donna, Probably right about the TIOLI . . .

Edited: Feb 9, 2013, 9:15pm Top

23. Apricots on the Nile: A Memoir with Recipes Colette Rossant

French/Egyptian Colette was 5 when she was left by her widowed mother to live with her paternal grandparents in Cairo. The kitchen of their home was her favorite place as was the French kitchen of her maternal grandmother when she eventually returned to France after WWII. Her memoir is filled with reminiscences of the foods of her young life and includes recipes which look enticing.

4 stars
Feb TIOLI #11
13x10 #13

Feb 11, 2013, 7:26am Top

#79 brenpike > That's an interesting question, so let me think out loud for a paragraph or so. We have very few pictures of WWI since cameras were heavy, bulky and rudimentary. Most of the horror of that war was passed along to the general population by survivors from combat, including my grandfather-in-law who "went over the top" three times (charged out of the trenches) and somehow survived. He never spoke of the war, teared up and left the room any time anything related to WWI was mentioned, and died with his memories. PTSD was unknown at that time. As a general rule, those who were involved in combat just don't talk about it, and those who talk about it probably weren't there.

WWII was a bit different in that we had better communication facilities, but much of what was happening was kept under wraps due to security concerns. The essence of combat was passed along by correspondents like Ernie Pyle who did a magnificent job of bringing it home at the dog face soldier level without revealing military secrets. WWII was a "just" war with which few objected. WWII was funded by war bonds and we paid as we went.

Then came a string of stalemates or defeats that continues to this day - Korea, Viet Nam, Mogadishu, Iraq, Afghanistan. These wars were discretionary and/or preemptive choices and not imminent necessities. Additionally, they were funded by "special" funding not included in the general budget which made them politically fragile. Consequently, news of the body counts and graphic photos were often suppressed by the military and the government to sooth public opinion, although war correspondents have been pretty good at leaking information in recent years. They were often not allowed into heavy combat situations (unlike Ernie Pyle) as a form of censorship. Note the criticism the news media got from showing flag-draped caskets coming off C-130's at U.S. military airports.

War is hell. No one who has never been there can possibly imagine what it's like. It's possible that refusal to publish Marlantes' novel in the 70's was a subtle form of censorship. Perhaps it was poorly written in the early stages. Perhaps it just got to the publishers too late behind a raft of earlier manuscripts and was seen as just another "me too" attempt at making money. I don't tend to read novels such as Matterhorn but for some reason I picked it up at Book-A-Million one day. It is both surgically precise and at the same time generically broad enough to bring the taste of the chaos of war home to those who want to know how things were at the platoon level. I strongly recommend it to those who have the stomach to read it.

Feb 11, 2013, 2:13pm Top

Thanks Mike.

Feb 11, 2013, 2:19pm Top

24. The Collected Stories Isaa Bashevis Singer

Self-selected short stories by Nobelist Singer on subjects ranging from spiritual to every-day life, mostly in Polish villages.

4 stars
Feb TIOLI #16
13x10 #10
Reading Globally/Poland

Feb 11, 2013, 8:47pm Top

25. Lunch in Paris: A Love Story with Recipes Elizabeth Bard

A sweet memoir from Bard about discovering Paris, one meal at a time while her relationship with Gwendale blossoms and eventually turns into a marriage. Recipes included with each chapter highlight the meals written about and look delicious.

3 1/2 stars
Feb TIOLI #11
13x10 #13

Feb 11, 2013, 8:55pm Top

Actually, PTSD was known during WW I--it was called shell shock. From Wikipedia

"World War I had a great impact on the practice of psychiatry. Shell-shock as well as the effects of trench warfare affected the minds of numerous soldiers. Furthermore, the wartime atmosphere, methods of training, and initial shock further affected soldiers psychologically. As methods for helping soldiers that had experienced shell shock were being devised, some scientists and physicians ventured further, and began to look at the bigger picture: the role that the brain, hormones, and the nervous system plays on a person's behavior, patterns of thinking, and stages of mental development."

Which doesn't affect any of the other points made in message 81.

Feb 12, 2013, 4:17am Top

It seems to me the conditions of warfare prevalent during WWI would have been extremely damaging to the individual psyche. Trenchs, barbed wire, nerve gas were used with appalling effectiveness.

Feb 12, 2013, 8:01am Top

#85 ronincats > Thanks. You are correct. The effects are certainly nothing new, just the label. It is frustrating that today, decades later, we still do not have a handle on how to treat battle fatigue and a host of other psychological issues. Those who advocate psychological intervention for PTSD and a host of other mental dysfunctions do not recognize that we do not yet have a reliable and cost-effective solution to societal ills.

Edited: Mar 4, 2013, 10:31pm Top

26. Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Ben Fountain

I loved this book and the timing was perfect, having read Marlantes commentary so recently. The story is this: a squad of Army soldiers was captured on tape as they went through the motions of following up on an assault of US troops. Billy Lynn, the story's protagonist, was particularly "heroic" as he took out several enemy while simultaneously tending to a downed comrade. Several months after the event, the "Bravo" squad is brought to the US and shuttled from city to city to tell their story and meet the masses. The kicker is that after being wined and dined for two weeks, they are to return to the battlefields of Iraq to finish out their tours.
The story takes place on Thanksgiving day as the men are being "treated" to the Dallas Cowboys experience. The ironies of their presence in the surreal surroundings of the best America has to offer are jolting, given where they have been, who they've become and what they will very shortly be returning to. Sounds heavy, but Fountain presents in a humorous manner, with appropriate sarcasm and wit. Highly recommended.

4 1/2 stars
Feb TIOLI #1
13x10 #2 National Book Critic's Circle Award

Feb 14, 2013, 11:38pm Top

Great review of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. I'm very interested in many of your recent reads!

Feb 14, 2013, 11:48pm Top

Thanks Anne. I found this writing and story so entertaining. Many of the passages were just so funny I had to read them out loud to my husband! Loved the characters and the pacing of the story. Hope you can read it soonish . . .

Feb 15, 2013, 7:20am Top

It's interesting that post Viet Nam novels seem to have made a resurgence.

Feb 15, 2013, 9:18am Top

Nice review of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, Brenda. It resides on my Kindle, waiting patiently to be read.

Feb 20, 2013, 1:08pm Top

27. Last Night at the Lobster Stewart O'Nan

O'Nan writes so well about the every day lives of ordinary people. Here the story centers around Manny, manager of a failing Red Lobster Restaurant. The setting is on the last day the place is open for business, a snowy Saturday four days prior to Christmas. Interesting story, well paced, likeable characters.

4 stars
13x10 #5

Feb 20, 2013, 2:00pm Top

Hey, Brenda, are you all stocked up for the big snowstorm tomorrow?

Feb 20, 2013, 2:43pm Top

I think we'll be okay. ; )

Feb 20, 2013, 2:58pm Top

28. Dear, Dear Brenda: The Love Letters of Henry Miller to Brenda Venus Henry Miller, Brenda Venus

Hmmm. What to say? It's Henry Miller in his late 80s, infirm of body, but still of irrepressible ego and desire. I have not read any of Miller's literature, only biographical books about the man, so my opinion of his work is obviously skewed. His letters to Brenda, a woman who sought him out to be her "mentor" (?), are full of praise for her and declarations of his love and sexual desire for her. Her letters to him are not included, but his letters refer to sexy photos she provided him early in their relationship. The introduction was written by Lawrence Durrell, a friend of Miller and later, Venus. "She enabled him to dominate his infirmities and to experience all the joys of Paradise. How grateful we all are for her kindness and loving insight!". Yuck?!

2 1/2 stars
Feb TIOLI #15
13x10 #4

Feb 20, 2013, 3:00pm Top

Well, if you have a foot of snow and discover you are out of coffee/tea/hot cocoa, don't blame me, my dear! ;-)

Edited: Feb 20, 2013, 3:01pm Top

And what will you be doing while we're buried in snow? Walking on the sunny beach?! : (

Feb 20, 2013, 4:00pm Top

You are getting our last night's rain--which wasn't as much as they predicted so you might get less snow depending on conditions--which also brought with it chilly air. So while we might be walking on the beach or in the park (see picture on my thread of blooming pear trees there) in the sun, today it would be in 56º temps.

Feb 20, 2013, 6:53pm Top

It's not the snow I'm worried about, it's the ice! Sorry you didn't enjoy the book about your namesake better. I couldn't find one with Donna as a main character that I wanted to read.

Feb 20, 2013, 7:00pm Top

You were with me when I spotted the Dear Brenda book at The Dusty Bookshelf. I knew that it would come in handy for a TIOLIChallenge one day! I was determined to finish it. . . Maybe someday I will read Henry Miller's notable works, then again, maybe not!

Feb 20, 2013, 7:41pm Top

I just wish that if it was going to do anything nasty weather-wise, it would start before morning. I can't work from home because "it MIGHT snow"--I'd be here every day!

Feb 20, 2013, 8:29pm Top

It is definitely more magical to wake up to snow than to sit at work all day anticipating the drive home in bad weather.

Edited: Feb 21, 2013, 9:08pm Top

>>#85 - #87

Weighing in late, just because your conversation on PTSD overlapped something I've been reading about "shell shock" in WWI: early in the war soldiers suffering this condition were often courtmartialled and shot because they would wander off or not respond when given an order, and if their symptoms were noticed they were usually considered faked. By the latter stages of the war there were so very many cases that the authorities accepted it as real, but had no idea how to try and treat it. After the war, there were some well-intentioned and sometimes effective programs that involved moving the men to pleasant surroundings in the country and giving them support and encouragement, but unfortunately as soon as they showed any signs of improvement they usually had their pensions cut as a way of forcing them to reintegrate into society by finding work, often with disastrous results.

Feb 21, 2013, 11:58pm Top

Hi Liz. . .

Feb 22, 2013, 6:59am Top

#104 lyzard > Sadly, we still don't really know how to treat PTSD effectively. What works for one doesn't always work for another. Same goes for the type of mental "illness" that generates so many automatic weapons killers that we say "seemed hinky" after the event but can't recognize as a threat before. Psychology is not a pure science.

Feb 22, 2013, 2:03pm Top

29. Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life, and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt David McCullough

A biography of TR from the age of 10 - 28. He came from a wealthy New York family and with his brother and two sisters lived a life of privilege as had his parents. He came of age in the last half of the 19th century, graduated Harvard, married young and lived the life of an aristocrat, but he was unique. Troubled as a child with asthma and general fragile health, his solution was to push harder and longer, and as an adult he was relatively free of health issues. He entered politics at an early age, but also wrote and spent time ranching in the Badlands following the death of his first wife and his mother. The book ends with his second marriage and his loss of the NY City Mayor's race. Interesting background on a man who would serve as president and leave a major impact on the country.

4 stars
Feb TIOLI #13
13x10 #4

Edited: Apr 15, 2013, 9:22pm Top

30. The Orphan Master's Son Adam Johnson

An absolutely chilling story about a young man in North Korea, beginning with his childhood in an orphanage and ending with a defection. Sadly, not his own defection. I will definitely read more about North Korea and it's citizens.

4 stars
Feb TIOLI #8
13x10 #2

Mar 1, 2013, 12:33pm Top

Brenda, your last two books look very good. I have had The Orphan Master's Son on my wish list for quite awhile now. And, after reading about TR's adventures on The Amazon in River of Doubt, I would like to learn more about his formative years. Thanks for calling Mornings on Horseback to my attention.

On another note, are you sick of snow yet? We had a little bit more to add to our 3 inches this morning but we're not even close to what Kansas has been getting. Spring is coming!!!

Mar 1, 2013, 12:43pm Top

We had 12" last Thursday and another 7" Tuesday. But it has been warm enough on the between days for some substantial melting. Still, it makes for some very large (and now dirty) piles to navigate around. It was beautiful on the actual snow days though. Took tons of pictures. We can be more joyous than most folks on weather days since retirement! I felt your anxiety during your harrowing drive home from the airport! Hope Dave is having a successful business trip and you are enjoying your "me" time. Any Haley sleepovers while he's gone?

Mar 2, 2013, 10:44pm Top

31. Fateless Imre Kertesz

First novel by 2002 Nobel winner Imre Kertesz. Somewhat autobiographical, as Kertesz himself was imprisoned in Auschwitz as a young man, it is the story of 14 year old George Koves' experience in concentration camps after being taken off a bus in Budapest. Written in an unemotional and rather detached style, it mirrors George's efforts through the ordeal as he tries to make sense of it all. Highly recommended.

4 1/2 stars
Mar TIOLI #23
13x10 #10
Reading Globally/ Hungary, Germany

Mar 4, 2013, 11:30am Top

32. Breath, Eyes, Memory Edwidge Danticat

Debut novel for Haitian Edwidge Danticat. Sophie was raised by her aunt in a small village of Haiti until she was 12 when her own mother sent for her. In their Brooklyn home, Sophie and her mother came to know each other, but any bonds were broken by the testing generations of their family inflicted on female children to assure their purity. Emotionally scarred, even after her own marriage, Sophie returns to Haiti. Her mother is the one who arrives to bring her back home and their relationship begins to knit, only to have her mother die. Interesting from the perspective of learning about these women of Haiti, but the writing seemed amateurish. Understandable for a debut novel.

3 stars
Mar TIOLI #12
13x10 #1

Edited: Mar 6, 2013, 12:04pm Top

33. This Is Not My Hat Jon Klassen

A 2013 Caldecott winner, writer/illustrator Klassen writes about a small fish who snatches a hat from a much larger fish and is oblivious to the fact the larger fish is very much aware of the theft. I liked the illustrations better than the story.

3 1/2 stars
Mar TIOLI #21
13x10 #2 Caldecott Medal Winner

Mar 6, 2013, 8:19pm Top

34. Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight Alexandra Fuller

Fuller's childhood in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe, Milawi and Zambia makes for fascinating reading. Her parents, Scottish and English moved their young family to Africa in 1966 where they were farmers. Their lives were hard and often perilous, but Fuller's memoir is full of humor and candor. Highly recommended along with Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, it's sequel.

4 1/2 stars
Mar TIOLI #3
13x10 #4

Mar 6, 2013, 8:24pm Top

Hi There

I found your thread and you are now starred. Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight is on my tbr pile for a while. Your comments prompt me to read it soon.

Mar 6, 2013, 8:31pm Top

Hi Linda. West With the Night by Beryl Markham is another great memoir about an African childhood. Hope you enjoy your reads. . .

Looks like maybe we will get to meet each other in Philadelphia? Looking forward to it . . .

Mar 6, 2013, 11:21pm Top

35. Mortality Christopher Hitchens

Hitchens lived 18 months after being diagnosed with esophageal cancer. This memoir was written after he was deported "from the country of the well across the stark frontier that marks off the land of malady". Riveting, poignant, thought-provoking.

4 1/2 stars
Mar TIOLI #21
13x10 #4

Mar 7, 2013, 7:38am Top

>117 brenpike: I'll have to get Mortality, after glowing reviews from you, Deborah, Linda and others.

I'm looking forward to meeting you, Linda and others in Philadelphia!

Mar 7, 2013, 2:00pm Top

Same here Darryl. . . Getting very excited with all the chatter about activities!

Mar 7, 2013, 11:50pm Top

You've done some great reading Brenda and I see we have a great deal of overlap.l agree with you completely on Anil's Ghost and I need to look for the Marlantes book. I loved Matterhorn.

Mar 8, 2013, 12:17am Top

Hi Bonnie. I bought Matterhorn years ago and have yet to read it. Not sure why, but I feel a little intimidated by it?! I'm assuming the right time for reading it will be obvious when it arrives! : ). I think you will really like What It Is Like To Go To War as well. I have thought about it frequently, especially as I read Billy Lynn.

Edited: Apr 15, 2013, 9:22pm Top

36. The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo Tom Reiss

Born in 1762 to Alexandre Antoine Davy de la Pailleterie and his slave, Marie Cessette, Alexandre Dumas was to become the highest ranking military officer of color in France's long history. He was born on Saint-Domingue, arriving in France at the age of 14 in a period of relative freedom for blacks and other people of color. Using extraordinary abilities and intelligence, he swiftly rose through the ranks of the military and was a general at the time of Napoleon's failed Egyptian campaign. On his return home to France from Egypt, the ship foundered and he was taken prisoner and held for two years in what is now southern Italy. He left prison greatly physically debilitated to return to a nation in the throes of re-evaluating it's opinions on people of color. He died in poverty, having never received recognition for his feats. He is largely forgotten today, the name Alexandre Dumas is most often associated with his son, the novelist or his grandson, the playwright. I have never read Dumas' books, but feel compelled to read The Count of Monte Cristo which is based on the experiences of the first Alexandre Dumas.

4 stars
Mar TIOLI #15
13x10 #2

Mar 14, 2013, 7:05am Top

The Count of Monte Cristo is at the very top of my favorite classics list along with Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories. Perhaps one of the best novels of revenge ever written.

Mar 20, 2013, 12:30am Top

37. Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948 Madeleine Albright

I knew Madeleine Albright as former Secy of State and Ambassador to the UN, but was unaware of her family background. Born to Josef and Madula Korbel in May, 1937 in Prague, she was a toddler when Germany crossed the borders to occupy Czechoslovakia in Mar, 1939. Her own immediate family spent the years of WWII, along with many other Czech diplomats, exiled in London. Other members of the extended family did not survive the war. Albright's memoir, based as much on documents, letters, and interviews as memory, is ultimately a history of her life and the life of her homeland.

4 stars
Mar TIOLI #1
13x10 #9
Reading Globally/Czechoslovakia

Mar 24, 2013, 2:26pm Top

38. Tender at the Bone: Growing Up at the Table Ruth Reichl

A memoir by the last editor of the late Gourmet magazine. Like so many memoirs written by smart, independent and accomplished women, Reichl grew up with an eccentric mother who thrived on conflict. However, at every step of her life, Reichl found comfort and purpose in food and it's preparation. Interesting and enjoyable. Recommended.

4 stars
Mar TIOLI #3
13x10 # 13

Mar 24, 2013, 2:57pm Top

So many of your highly-rated books are on my shelves! Some day....

SO looking forward to our adventure!

Mar 24, 2013, 3:37pm Top

Yep. Me too!

Mar 24, 2013, 7:13pm Top

Are you snowed in?

Mar 24, 2013, 7:49pm Top

Snowed, but not in!

Mar 24, 2013, 9:31pm Top

The Albright book sounds interesting just because of the family angle. The Reichl book is already on my wish list.

Mar 25, 2013, 11:59pm Top

39. Splendors and Glooms Laura Amy Schlitz

A 2013 Newbery Honor Book. Set in 1860/61 England, a story about 2 orphaned children taken in by a puppeteer with a sordid background and unseemly morals. A riveting mystery written for young readers with twists and turns and a bit of magic thrown in. Recommended.

4 stars
Mar TIOLI #22
13X10 #12

Mar 26, 2013, 1:49pm Top

Brenda, you have been reading up a storm lately. Might as well read instead of shovel snow! We are taking Haley to the big Easter Egg Hunt at church on Saturday afternoon. I hope our snow is gone by then! Have fun in Philly. I'm looking forward to hearing all about the big meet-up. I hope we can garner some more attention for our June 13th meet up. I'm looking forward to meeting Reba in person. Have a Happy Easter!

Mar 26, 2013, 4:19pm Top

Forecast is for warm, sunny skies Easter weekend, so keeping my fingers crossed for Haley's egg hunt. Easter festivities were among holiday favorites for my girls when they were little.
Looking forward to both meet-ups, Donna. It will be good to see you again and to meet Reba. I'm hoping our usual crowd - Nancy, Sandy, Terri, Chris, etc.- will be able to come to KC/Lawrence in June. And maybe we can entice a few newbies as well!
Happy Easter to you too. . .

Mar 31, 2013, 10:07pm Top

40. The Burgess Boys Elizabeth Strout

Like Strout's earlier works, this centers around a family and how it's members relate to each other. Here three Burgess siblings, working through old and new issues, eventually make inroads toward building relationships with each other. Olive Kitteridge remains my favorite Strout book, but this is a compelling read.

4 stars
Mar TIOLI #19
13X10 #12

Edited: Apr 7, 2013, 10:22pm Top

41. NW Zadie Smith

Set in London's NW corner, the stories concern, mostly, two friends, Leah and Keisha/Natalie. Told from their perspectives separately and that of Felix, a young man unknown to them, each gives insight into the psyches of these Londoners and what feels like an authentic London neighborhood experience.

3 1/2 stars
April TIOLI #12
13x10 #7
Women's Prize for Fiction LL, 2013

Apr 6, 2013, 11:24pm Top

I have Splendors and Glooms on my Kindle, Brenda, so I'm glad to hear you liked it.

Apr 6, 2013, 11:40pm Top

Hi Brenda, I should probably give NW another shot sometime. I had it home from the library, read a few pages, put it on the bottom of the stack, and ran out of time. Story of my life!

Olive is still my favorite Strout book, too.

Apr 7, 2013, 10:21pm Top

42. Where'd You Go, Bernadette Maria Semple

I thoroughly enjoyed this romp of a story told in letters, documents, notices, etc. and cleverly tied together. Bernadette is a brilliant, creative hermit who manages to get herself into a bit of a bind, well several binds, but is totally lovable, as are her daughter, Bee and husband, Elgie, a Microsoft wiz. Sweet. Recommended.

4 stars
April TIOLI #12
13x10 #7
Women's Prize for Fiction LL, 2013

Edited: Apr 12, 2013, 2:04am Top

43. 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrants in One New York Tenement Jane Ziegelman

By tracing five families of differing ethnic backgrounds, German, Irish, German Jewish, Russian-Lithuanian Jewish, and Italian, from 1863 - 1935, Ziegelman informs her readers of the challenges and long-range alterations to the diets of these immigrants and ultimately to the American food culture. Interesting.

3 1/2 stars
April TIOLI #4
13x10 #13

Apr 8, 2013, 9:18pm Top

I've read that one too, Brenda. Caro brought it for me as a gift when we had our meet-up!

Apr 9, 2013, 12:36am Top

44. Juliet's Moon Ann Rinaldi

YA historical fiction chosen for the Missouri Readers group book. Set in western Missouri during the Civil War, Juliet's brother is one of Quantrill's soldiers. A very quick read.

3 stars
April TIOLI #10
13x10 #6

Apr 11, 2013, 8:54am Top

97 Orchard is on my TBR wish list. I do hope I get to it one of these days.

Apr 12, 2013, 8:18pm Top

Hi Lori. Hope you are able to get to 97 Orchard soonish. As I read, the writing did not captivate me, but the information did and has continued to be in my thoughts. I may end up changing my rating to 4 stars.

Edited: Apr 24, 2013, 12:45am Top

45. May We Be Forgiven A.M. Homes

Homes starts her novel with a horrific auto accident, followed by a murder, but it is ultimately a comedy about how wrong things can go and how well things can turn out. A little strange and entirely unbelievable. I did, however, enjoy Homes writing, her characters and the forward propulsion of the story.

4 stars
April TIOLI #12
13x10 #7
Women's Prize for Literature LL, 2013

Apr 15, 2013, 9:33pm Top

46. The People of Forever Are Not Afraid Shani Boianjiu

Centered around three young Israeli women from their junior high years through mid twenties, most of the story covers their individual years of required military service. Much as I wanted to like this book, I had to push myself through and at the end felt it a waste of time. Unlikeable characters, lack of any sort of plot, and writing that is disjointed and difficult to follow made this a book a loser for me.

2 stars
April TIOLI #12
13x10 #7
Women's Prize for Literature LL, 2013

Apr 16, 2013, 6:06pm Top

Too bad that last book was so disappointing, Brenda.

Apr 16, 2013, 6:38pm Top

Yea . . . Seldom do I finish a book that I dislike so much, but it was a Women's Prize longlister and the author was noted as a promising young writer. Just not my cuppa' !

Apr 16, 2013, 7:53pm Top

Hi Brenda: I liked the Boianjiu book a little more than you did, but I thought she was trying to do too much. Was it a satire, showing the absurdity of war -- my favorite part was the protesters asking to be suppressed -- or was it a coming of age story? And what was going on with the section set in the future? Disjointed is a good description.

Apr 16, 2013, 8:39pm Top

I just finished the Boianjiu book and liked it much more than you. I did find it episodic and some chapters more compelling than others, but overall I felt it was a worthwhile read. Looking forward to what she does next.
Beaufort is worth looking into if you want something a little more polished.

Apr 16, 2013, 10:56pm Top

Thanks Beth and Kerry. I'm glad you both liked the Boianjiu better than I. Maybe I was just having a couple of cranky days and should read something else by her. Then again, there are a lot of books and authors to be read! : )

Apr 17, 2013, 10:11am Top

150: ..."there are a lot of books and authors to be read."

So true! Thanks for soldiering on through The People of Forever Are Not Afraid. I was intrigued by the description but I don't think I'll bother with it after your experience. I may take another look at Bernadette, though, since you liked it and it made the Orange SL.

Apr 17, 2013, 11:36pm Top

As you saw in the messages above, not everyone's reaction to the Boianjiu book was quite as adverse as mine. . .

I did, however, really enjoy Bernadette. Quirky characters and good storytelling. Hope you like it!

Apr 17, 2013, 11:47pm Top

47. Time's Shadow: Remembering a Family Farm in Kansas Arnold J. Bauer

A memoir by a man who grew up on a farm in Goshen Township in Clay County, KS. Born in 1931 to parents, both descended from German immigrants who homesteaded in Kansas, Bauer lived on the 160 acre family farm until his mid twenties. After serving in the Korean War, he left Kansas to study in Mexico and made his home in California. He writes eloquently of his memories on the farm surrounded by friends and relatives who lived close by.
My parents were both raised on family farms in the Oklahoma panhandle and my memories of those farms is strikingly similar to those Bauer writes about. Poignant.

4 stars
April TIOLI#3
13x10 #4

Apr 18, 2013, 12:19am Top

Clay County is just north of Dickinson County, where I grew up. I'll have to look for that book, Brenda.

Apr 19, 2013, 11:43pm Top

Published by Kansas University Press, but I borrowed it from a friend who had purchased it at The Raven, here in Lawrence. I think you would enjoy it.

Apr 19, 2013, 11:48pm Top

48. Case Histories Kate Atkinson

Finally started the Jackson Brodie series. This was about three cold (murder) cases, which of course are revealed throughout the book. Mystery is not my favorite genre, but I enjoyed the characters and Arkinson's writing.

3 1/2 stars
April TIOLI#1
13x10 #11

Apr 22, 2013, 12:41am Top

49. The Mistress's Daughter A. M. Homes

Having just read Homes Women's Prize shortlister, May We Be Forgiven, her memoir, caught my eye. Born in Dec, 1961 to a single 22 year old as the result of a 7 year affair with an older married man, Homes was given up for adopion to a couple who had recently suffered the loss of their oldest child. When she was 31, Homes learned that her biological mother wanted to meet her. Meeting her biological parents, interesting and weird as it turned out, led Homes to an obsessive genealogical search for ancestors of each of her four parents.

3 1/2 stars
April TIOLI #3
13x10 #4

Edited: Apr 24, 2013, 12:45am Top

50. Caleb's Crossing Geraldine Brooks

Historic fiction set in the 17th century Massachusetts (Martha's Vineyard, currently). Told from the perspective of Bethia, the young daughter of an English Puritan minister. Bethia befriends Caleb, the son of a Wampanoag chieftain, and they establish a lifelong tie. Though the story is completely fictionalized, it is based loosely on a real Caleb who matriculated and graduated Harvard, the first native American to do so.

3 stars
April TIOLI #6
13x10 #5

Apr 24, 2013, 2:12pm Top

Hi Brenda, I really want to get to Caleb's Crossing this year. I've liked all of the books by Geraldine Brooks that I've read. Your three-star rating tells me you were underwhelmed. Any particular reason why?

I have May We Be Forgiven waiting for me at the library. Yay!

Did you get snow last night?

Apr 24, 2013, 6:53pm Top

This was not my favorite Geraldine Brooks book. I haven't read People of the Book, but I preferred March and Year of Wonders to Caleb's Crossing. The story just wasn't as captivating and I felt the characters were a little forced, maybe. Interesting historical references though.

Hope you like May we be forgiven. I have read 5 of the 6 shortlisters from the Women's Prize and would place this one at 4th, in front of Flight Behavior and NW. I am eager to hear what you think. . . It's a little out there, but I like that in a book, sometimes!

Apr 24, 2013, 7:10pm Top

*waving* at Brenda

I enjoy Geraldine Brooks' books for the most part, but hate her endings for some reason. She just does not seem to be able to end books well, IMHO. I have not read Caleb's Crossing yet though. I have read People of the Book, Year of Wonders, and March.

Apr 24, 2013, 9:47pm Top

Caleb's Crossing is a perfect example of "failure to end satisfactorily", Stasia. The pacing of the book seemed a bit off, so much print given to the early years of the story but a hurried ending.
Brooks goes to great length in the afterword to explain how she used facts and her own creative resources to build the characters, emotions, conversations.

Edited: Apr 29, 2013, 1:52pm Top

51. Paradise of the Blind Duong Thu Huong

Huong wrote Paradise of the Blind in 1988, one year after the Vietnamese Communist party called on writers to alter the stiff, official Marxist style imposed on them. Many writers responded with works that openly or implicitly criticized the Party. Huong's stories about the sorrows and disillusionment of average Vietnamese people were enormously popular in Vietnam before being banned and withdrawn from circulation. She became an outspoken participant in public debates for democratic reform and respect for human rights. She was expelled from the party in 1991, arrested and imprisoned and was immediately recognized as a political prisoner by human rights organizations. Huong is in the position of having been both a participant and a witness to Vietnam's tragedy and the power of her voice lies in its honesty and it's call to individual conscience and responsibility.

4 stars
April TIOLI #17
13x10 #11
Reading Globally/Vietnam

Apr 26, 2013, 8:51pm Top


I really liked The Mistress's Daughter. I read it last year. I also liked Splendors and Glooms. It looks like you and I have similar reading habits.

I look forward to meeting you in Philadelphia in May!

Apr 26, 2013, 8:55pm Top

Yea for meeting in Philly. . . Now less than a month away.

Apr 28, 2013, 3:13pm Top

Paradise of the Blind sounds very good, Brenda. I haven't been following the Philadelphia meet-up thread, so I didn't realize you were going to it. Exciting!

Apr 28, 2013, 9:38pm Top

Yes, Roni. Terri and I are making the trip together. Should be a hoot!

Apr 28, 2013, 9:41pm Top

#162: I may just put of reading Caleb's Crossing indefinitely then.

#163: Adding that one to the BlackHole. Thanks for the recommendation, Brenda.

I want to got to Philadelphia!! lol

Apr 28, 2013, 9:52pm Top

Come on Stasia, meet us in Philly!

Apr 28, 2013, 9:53pm Top

I wish I could, believe me!

Apr 28, 2013, 9:59pm Top

Guess we'll have to wait for Joplin, huh?

Apr 28, 2013, 9:59pm Top

Yep! Unfortunately. I am just not at all patient.

Apr 28, 2013, 10:03pm Top

Somehow I knew that!

Apr 28, 2013, 10:04pm Top

This guy probably gave you a clue:

Apr 28, 2013, 10:10pm Top

Maybe so . . . : )

Apr 28, 2013, 10:11pm Top

I use him frequently on Liz's thread. All I have to do is threaten to bring the cat in and the reviews I am waiting for magically appear ;)

Apr 29, 2013, 10:42am Top


Edited: Apr 29, 2013, 1:52pm Top

52. The Things They Carried Tim O'Brien

Short stories written about the Alpha squad O'Brien served in during the Vietnam conflict. O'Brien was 21, a recent college graduate in 1968, when his draft notice arrived. Stories range from his struggle about whether or not to go to war, day-to-day interactions among the men of the squad, deaths of several members, his own injuries, reflections on the death of a childhood friend. His writing is mesmerizing, truly taking the reader into his world. Stories I will think of often. Highly recommended.

5 stars
April TIOLI #17
13x10 #11
Reading Globally/Vietnam

Apr 29, 2013, 6:43pm Top

Hi Brenda - I'm happy to see another O'Brien fan -- these stories are great, aren't they.

Apr 29, 2013, 10:37pm Top

They are great Beth. I had an urge to rush to the library and find his other books this afternoon! Soon . . .

Apr 29, 2013, 10:40pm Top

#178: I get to dodge that BB - I have already read it. I agree completely with your 5 star assessment.

Apr 29, 2013, 10:48pm Top

Hey Stasia. . . Have you read his other books?

Apr 29, 2013, 11:01pm Top

I have read several of O'Brien's books: Going after Cacciato, If I Die in a Combat Zone, In the Lake of the Woods, and Tomcat in Love. I think he is an excellent writer. One of these days, I will finish off the rest of the books of his that I have not read.

Apr 30, 2013, 1:03am Top

Which one shall I read next?

May 10, 2013, 12:41am Top

53. Dreams in a Time of War Ngugi wa Thiong'o

Born in 1938, fifth child of the third wife of his father's more than twenty children, in rural Kenya, Thiong'o's innate intelligence propelled him through the challenges of obtaining an education in his homeland. During his childhood, his home life was disrupted when his father and mother separated and he was ousted from his father's compound. His mother struggled to feed and clothe her children and to find money for tuition. Kenya was also undergoing great change from a colonial to independent nation during this time. Most interesting to me were the sections about his home and family life, though keeping track of his many siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, mothers, etc. was a challenge. More difficult to follow, I suspect because I have absolutely no background, were the chapters involving the history of Kenya.

3 1/2 stars
May TIOLI #18
13x10 #4

May 13, 2013, 11:15pm Top

54. One Good Turn Kate Atkinson

The second in the Jackson Brodie series. Brodie finds himself in Scotland and is caught up in an intertwined series of incidents following a road rage attack which he witnessed.

3 stars
May TIOLI #9
13x10 #7

May 15, 2013, 10:07pm Top

55. Mary Coin Marisa Silver

Historical fiction based on Dorothea Lange's iconic photograph, Migrant Mother. Using the voices of three characters, Mary, the woman in the photo, Vera, the photographer, and Walker, a present day cultural academic who makes a link between his own family background and the subjects of the photo, Silver adeptly tells an absorbing story. Well written, interesting characters.

4 stars
May TIOLI #19
13x10 #12

May 19, 2013, 1:39am Top

56. Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953 Elizabeth Winder

June 1953, Sylvia Plath and 19 other college aged girls were chosen to intern at Mademoiselle magazine to produce the August college issue. Within a few months, she made her first suicide attempt. Her novel The Bell Jar was based on the experience. Winder has written a compelling book about this pivotal month in Plath's life. I read The Bell Jar in the early 1970s and will reread it with a new perspective.

4 stars
May TIOLI #12
13x10 #11

May 19, 2013, 10:27pm Top

Looks like you are having a great time in Philly!

May 20, 2013, 8:54am Top

I am eager to hear more about the Philadelphia meetup. Are we still on for a mini meetup in Lawrence on June 13? Reba is still planning to be in town that day.

May 22, 2013, 3:09am Top

Hello Brenda. I hope that you finally made it home safely. I was quite worried about you and Terri both when I heard what was happening 'at home'. Good that you had your daughter to go to.
It was so nice to meet you this weekend and I quite enjoyed our time together. I hope we can do it again some time. Perhaps even Joplin; IDK. That is Football Playoff time here and we have a grandson who plays, so I will have to play that one by ear, but would love to come. Anyway I had a lot of fun with you girls and am so glad I made the trip.
See you on the threads. I have you starred now.

May 22, 2013, 10:44pm Top

Hi Brenda

It was lovely to meet you and to spend time together. I had time to download the photos today and posted them on my thread.

There are many of you. What a lovely smile you have -- you radiant joy!

I love this one!

And this one!

May 23, 2013, 1:50pm Top

It looks like everyone had a great time at the Philly meet-up. Brenda, I'm looking forward to hearing all about it - and seeing more pictures! (never enough pictures)

May 27, 2013, 12:31am Top


I like this photo of you and Darryl

May 27, 2013, 8:56am Top

Great pictures. I want a meet!

May 28, 2013, 12:30am Top

Hi Roni, Donna, Sandy, Belva, Linda and Beth. Though the meet-up was over a week ago, I'm still feeling' the love! I had such a great time. Thanks for posting the evidence of our glee Linda. . .

May 28, 2013, 12:33am Top

57. The zigzag kid David Grossman

An amusing story about a 12 year old who is kidnapped, but not really, several days before his bar mitzvah and experiences high adventure concluding in secrets revealed about himself and his family.

3 1/2 stars
May TIOLI #1
13x10 #9

May 28, 2013, 2:42pm Top

Thanks, Brenda; I'll add The Zigzag Kid to my wish list.

May 28, 2013, 10:06pm Top

58. Stone Upon Stone Wieslaw Mysliwski

Refusing to rush the reading of this 500+ page epic, it has taken months to finish. But it has been well worth the time. A story told in streams of memory confirm Szymek Pietruszka's connection to his family, community, traditions and land. Set in Poland pre and post WWII, Szymek's story is moving and memorable. Not an easy read, but highly recommended.

4 1/2 stars
May TIOLI #2
13x10 #6
Reading Globally/Poland

May 29, 2013, 10:21pm Top

59. Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West Blaine Harden

Shin Dong-Hyuk was born in Camp 14, a political prison camp in North Korea. He escaped to China in 2005, and made his way to South Korea in 2006, and the US in 2009. He is the only person known to have escaped the highest security of the camp. His story, told to Harden through interpreters, is shocking and reaffirming of the hope individuals can maintain under the severest of situations.

4 stars
May TIOLI #12
13x10 #4

May 29, 2013, 10:26pm Top

Hi Brenda. I am going to have to see if the library has Stone Upon Stone. Sounds like a good one.
I am still having 'happy thoughts' too. It was just so great meeting you all and we had a lot of laughs.

May 29, 2013, 10:31pm Top

Hi Belva. Nice to see you here. . . I, also, am still smiling about Philly! So much fun, such great memories!

May 29, 2013, 10:33pm Top

194: Brenda, I wish I knew what you were telling Darryl. You've totally captured his attention!

May 29, 2013, 10:37pm Top

Me too Donna! It at least confirms that sometimes, just ever so often, someone does listen to me . . . : )

May 29, 2013, 11:05pm Top

Hi Brenda - I'm jealous of you LTers who have had a chance to meet. Stone Upon Stone sounds great; I'm going to look for it.

May 29, 2013, 11:10pm Top

Brenda, You look ever so happy in this photo!

In all photos I took of you, you are radiant!

By the way, I finished a book regarding the hauntings of the Eastern State Penitentiary.

Philadelphia Haunts: At Eastern State Penitentiary, Fort Mifflin, and Other Ghostly Sites by Katharine Sarro. I don't spook easily, but this one left me a believer.

May 29, 2013, 11:12pm Top

Hey, Brenda. Sounds like Kansas is having turbulent weather tonight. Take care.

May 29, 2013, 11:33pm Top

Roni, thanks for posting this. I heard about the nasty weather in Kansas and also am concerned. Brenda...you ok?

May 30, 2013, 1:01am Top

Just a bit of rain so far . . . Thanks for your concern Roni and Linda.

And yes, the photos reflect how happy I felt! Still smiling bout Philly . . .

May 30, 2013, 1:12am Top

I'm glad that you also enjoyed Stone Upon Stone, Brenda. All of the reviews I've read have been very positive, and it has a 4.53 average rating on LT.

I don't remember that photo at all! Clearly I was engrossed in what you were talking about.

The Philadelphia LT meet up was fabulous, but I hope that it encourages others to convene their own meet ups rather than become jealous of ours! These meet ups don't have to be as large as ours to be fun; I spent a day with Fliss (flissp), Rachael (FlossieT) and Jenny (lunacat) in Cambridge (UK) two years ago, and it was immensely enjoyable.

May 30, 2013, 3:04am Top

Hello to you in SF Darryl. I haven't yet participated in a meet-up that wasn't lots of fun!

May 30, 2013, 8:40am Top

I agree, Brenda. The two NYC meet ups I attended (Black Friday 2010 and Boxing Day 2011) were very enjoyable, as were the individual lunch or dinner dates I've had. Almost invariably everyone I've met has had a lot to talk about, since we have similar interests, and several online friends have become real life ones as well.

May 30, 2013, 10:14am Top

Brenda, coming here and reading too closely is dangerous to my wishlist. As always, you've got lots of great books.

Echoing everyone's comments about LT meet-ups. I was nervous before the first one, but that vanished almost instantly when I was introduced to Stasia and Terri. From that day forward, I've considered LT to be a place populated with 2 kinds of people - friends I've met face-to-face, and friends I haven't met face-to-face.

May 30, 2013, 11:10am Top


Stasia and Terri are a hoot! I had a lovely time with them when we attended Richard's 50th bd party.

May 30, 2013, 12:12pm Top

Linda - so you know how quickly I felt at ease around them!

May 30, 2013, 10:20pm Top

60. The German Mujahid Boualem Sansal

Based on a true story and inspired by the work of Primo Levi.
Two brothers, born to a German father and Algerian mother in Algeria, living since childhood in France. Rachel the older brother, a model citizen, married and well employed discovers his father's past when he visits the family home after his parents are massacred in their small village. Malrich, the younger and more restless brother, only learns the truth of his father's SS service through diaries left by Rachel after his suicide.

3 1/2 stars
May TIOLI #20
13x10 #12

May 31, 2013, 12:01am Top

Your latest read sounds intriguing and fascinating.

On the pile it goes.

Congratulations on reading 60 books thus far.

I was so impressed with the Rosenbach museum and the Sendak gallery that I am now on a quest to read all Sendak books. I'm also learning a lot about his life and personality.

Thanks to you, who directed us to this museum, a whole new door is opened.

May 31, 2013, 12:37am Top

The Rosenbach was like a little gem! I loved the small, intimate feel of the space and the welcoming attitude of the staff. The stuff memories are made of . . .

Edited: Jun 1, 2013, 12:44am Top

61. Life After Life Kate Atkinson

A very good read based on the idea that the tiniest alteration can change the course of history. Ursula, born and lived, or died, Feb, 1910 is the story's main character. Atkinson tells and retells her story in variations. Creative and clever.

4 1/2 stars
May TIOLI #8
13x10 #7
Women's Prize for Literature SL, 2013

Edited: Jun 1, 2013, 1:19am Top

I love this one Brenda. Nice to see that you think so highly of it as well.
I hope you are safe tonight as the weather rages throughout the Midwest. Thinking of you.

Jun 1, 2013, 6:53am Top

Hurray, another Life After Life fan!

Jun 1, 2013, 9:34am Top

Hello Belva and Laura. Thinking fondly about where we were two weeks ago at this time Saturday morning. So much fun . . .

Jun 4, 2013, 10:50pm Top

62. Grace: A Memoir Grace Coddington

Grace Coddington, creative director of Vogue magazine in New York, became a reluctant celebrity after the 2009 documentary "The September Issue" was released. She has led a fascinating life, leaving home at 18 to pursue a modeling career in London, moving to fashion director and stylist. Her 50+ year career has had her rubbing elbows with the most accomplished and famous photographers, models, make-up and hair stylists, fashion editors and celebrities. Her story is told in a straight forward style with lots of pictures and line drawings. Interesting to anyone who is intrigued by the fashion industry and it's iconic characters.

3 1/2 stars
June TIOLI #6
13x10 #4

Jun 5, 2013, 9:43am Top

It is great to have another member of the biography/autobiography book lover!

Have you read any books regarding Beryl Markham or Isak Dinesen?

If not, I highly recommend West With the Night, Out of Africa and Letters From Africa

Jun 5, 2013, 11:29am Top

Linda, West With the Night and Out of Africa are both favorites. I haven't read Letters From Africa, but will look for it. Thanks. Have you read Don't Let's Go To The Dogs Tonight and Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller?

Jun 5, 2013, 11:19pm Top


Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight has long been on the tbr pile. I'll add Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness.

Thanks for your recommendations.

Jun 6, 2013, 12:00am Top

63. Last Friends Jane Gardam

The third of the Old Filth series. Here Veneering's background is revealed and the futures of Fiscal-Smith and Dulcie tied up. Not Old Filth or Man in the Wooden Hat, but not bad.

3 1/2 stars
June TIOLI #6
13x10 #6

Jun 7, 2013, 6:35pm Top

Here we are!

Jun 7, 2013, 11:33pm Top

Thanks Donna. Enjoyed our time together today. . .

Jun 7, 2013, 11:54pm Top

Found bargains at today's Booksale . . . For $8.50:

The Outcast Sadie Jones
Liquidation Imre Kertesz'
Emily Alone Stewart O'Nan
Somewhere Inside Laura and Lisa Ling
Last Night at the Lobster Stewart O'Nan (for my young friend Katie who was just hired by Red Lobster corp)
Hemingway on Fishing Ernest Hemingway
A Song for Nagasaki Paul Glynn
The Information Martin Amis
This Boy's Life Tobias Wolff
Snow Angels Stewart O'Nan
West With the Night Beryl Markham
84, Charing Cross Road Helene Hanff

Now where to put them?! Maybe they'll live on the floor next to my purchases from Philly for awhile. : )

Jun 8, 2013, 12:40am Top

It looks like you had a fun and productive day. I'm sorry to have missed it. I see Jack Stack in the background - is that where you had lunch?

Jun 8, 2013, 1:14am Top

We did have lunch at Jack Stack. Wish you had been with us . . .

Jun 8, 2013, 11:05pm Top

me too

Jun 8, 2013, 11:12pm Top

me too.

Jun 9, 2013, 1:47am Top

Hi Roni. When is your next trip to Kansas?

Jun 9, 2013, 6:59pm Top

Great pictures and nice haul of books.

Jun 9, 2013, 11:13pm Top

Thanks Beth.

Jun 9, 2013, 11:26pm Top

64. Restoration Rose Tremain

Set in 17th century England and narrated by Robert Merivel.
Merivel, son of the King's favorite glove maker and an anatomy student leaves his studies to tend the king's dogs and essentially become the court fool. The narrative follows his life over the next several years as his fortunes are lost and he is forced to reconcile himself with reality. Amusing, informative from a historical perspective, compelling enough that I will read the sequel.

4 stars
June TIOLI #1
13x10 #9

Jun 10, 2013, 8:00am Top

>238 brenpike:: thanks for reminding me there's a sequel! I read Restoration some time ago and enjoyed it.

Jun 10, 2013, 9:44am Top

Hi Laura. Glad to "see" you. . . I'm trying to remember if I've seen the movie with Robert Downy as Merivel from the mid nineties. Going to have to check it out. Have you seen it?

Jun 10, 2013, 1:03pm Top

Oh hey I forgot there was a movie! I like Robert Downey too.

Jun 10, 2013, 5:49pm Top

Glad to hear that you liked Restoration, Brenda. I'll read it and its sequel, Merivel, fairly soon, but probably not until next year.

Jun 11, 2013, 11:26pm Top

Hi Darryl and Laura.

Jun 11, 2013, 11:33pm Top

65. Going After Cacciato Tim O'Brien

A thought provoking novel about a small squad of infantrymen who follow a fellow soldier as he walks away from the Vietnam War. We realize as the story unfolds that Cacciato and his 8000+ mile walk to Paris is an imaginary advice used by one of the squad members to deal with trauma.

4 stars
June TIOLI #6
13x10 #12
Reading Globally/Vietnam

Jun 16, 2013, 12:17am Top

66. The House of Special Purpose John Boyne

Historical fiction based on the murder of Nicholas Romanov, Russia's last tsar, and his family at the hands of the Bolsheviks in 1918. Narrated by Georgy Jachmenev, a young villager who becomes a guard to the royal family after he takes a bullet intended for a member of the Tsar's family and military elite. I especially liked the pacing and structure Boyne used - alternating, chapter by chapter, between the ending and the beginning of his story, moving toward a central point and collapsing to the climax of the story at the end of the book.

4 stars
June TIOLI #3
13x10 #12

Jun 16, 2013, 12:19am Top

Hi Brenda

You and Donna look radiant! I'm glad you had such a lovely time.

I own The House of Special Purpose and vow to read it soon.

Thanks for your great review.

Jun 18, 2013, 2:40am Top

67. The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath

A reread of Plath's classic autobiographical novel. Last month's read about her summer in New York, 1953 gave a new perspective although my reaction was not much different from when I read it in the 70s as a college student.

4 1/2 stars
June TIOLI #5
13x10 #11

Jun 20, 2013, 11:15pm Top

68. Wonder R.J. Palacio

An endearing debut book about a 10 year old boy with a facial deformity who is entering school for the first time as a fifth grader. Palacio's use of multiple narrators was especially effective in fleshing out the many people involved in Auggie's life. Heavy subject handled in a very uplifting way. Bravo to Ms. Palacio.

4 stars
June TIOLI #16
13x10 #1

Jun 20, 2013, 11:36pm Top

69. The Sign on Rosie's Door Maurice Sendak

Sendak wrote and illustrated this charming book about Rosie, a little girl who transforms herself into other people and creatures when life gets too monotonous.

3 1/2 stars
June TIOLI #16
13x10 #12

Jun 22, 2013, 9:25pm Top

70. A Sick Day for Amos McGee Phil Stead, Erin Stead

Caldecott Winner, 2011. Amos is a zookeeper, but when he is I'll, his animal friends show up to take care of him. Charming

4 1/2 stars
June TIOLI #6
13x10 #12

Edited: Jun 24, 2013, 7:14pm Top

71. Blueberries for Sal Robert McCloskey

A reread of one of my favorite children's books. I love this sweet story of Sal and her mother's adventure on blueberry hill. Caldecott honor book, 1949, 1001 Children's books inclusion.

5 stars
June TIOLI #6
13x10 #12

Jun 24, 2013, 7:13pm Top

72. And the Mountains Echoed Khaled Hosseini

Another amazing book by Hosseini, based in his home country, Afghanistan. This time he tells many short stories which are all linked to a family from a small village who were torn apart by a necessary decision. Each character from the stories is well defined and is tied back to the original story eventually. Creative and interesting, Hosseini tells a great story.

4 1/2 stars
June TIOLI #18
13x10 #6

Edited: Jun 25, 2013, 7:32pm Top

73. Class Conflict in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby Claudia Johnson

From the Social Issues in Literature, scholarly essays on issues of class within the context of The Great Gatsby.

3 1/2 stars
June TIOLI #12
13x10 #11

Jun 27, 2013, 4:50pm Top

74. The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald

A re-read of Fitzgerald's classic.

4 1/2 stars
June TIOLI #12
13x10 #11

Jun 27, 2013, 7:40pm Top

75. The Gift of Rain Tan Twan Eng

A debut novel for Eng, a story about a young British/Chinese man of Penang, an island of Malaya during the years of WWII. Perhaps because Eng was writing about his homeland, the novel is overly ambitious. I started out with high expectations because I liked his Garden of Evening Mists, but rather quickly tired of the story, characters and even the writing, finishing it only because I'd invested so much time.

3 stars
June TIOLI #6
13x10 #1
Reading Globally/Malaya

Jun 28, 2013, 11:11am Top

I'm sorry about your disappointment in The Gift of Rain, Brenda. Nancy just bought it from Amazon so I'll probably be reading it after she does. I hope I like it better than you did.

Jun 28, 2013, 1:20pm Top

I hope so too, Donna. Could have just been my mood . . .

Jun 29, 2013, 12:24pm Top

76. In the Lake of the Woods Tim O'Brien

A dark and riveting novel about a couple who retreats to the woods for recuperation after a badly lost senatorial primary.
When Kathy disappears, we are left with several scenarios explaining what could have happened to her. That John is a Vietnam vet suffering PTSD provides it's own scary element.
O'Brien includes chapters of "evidence" - comments from friends, family, men from John's past, excerpts from testimony of the My Lai court martial trial of Calley, and voices from long ago conflicts, Custer's stand, battles from the Revolutionary war, which I found fascinating.

4 1/2 stars
June TIOLI #16
13x10 #12
Reading Globally/Vietnam

Jun 30, 2013, 12:00am Top

77. Farming the Dust Bowl Lawrence Svobida

A fascinating first hand account from a young man who farmed in southwest Kansas (Meade Cty) from 1929 to 1938. I was interested in the various methods conscientious farmers used attempting to keep their land from blowing. The names of equipment used, and some of the terminology is familiar to me as I vaguely remember my grandfathers talking about them. Some of the pictures remind me of old unused equipment we were allowed to play on. My maternal grandfather, in particular, had a reputation for being an excellent mechanic - "able to keep his old tractors going with baling wire!"

4 1/2 stars
June TIOLI #4
13x10 #3

Jun 30, 2013, 9:58am Top

#259 I loved The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan about the dust bowl period. However, that book slighted Kansas in favor of stories from Oklahoma and other states. I hope I can find this book actually written by a Kansas farmer.

Jun 30, 2013, 4:08pm Top

Sandy, My library owns a copy and I notice their are tons of copies available on Abebooks and Amazon, so I'm guessing it will not be too difficult to track down. Hope you like it as much as I did.

Jun 30, 2013, 4:19pm Top

78. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical Reading Nina Sankovitch

Three years after her sister's death, Sankovitch made the decision to "stop running and start reading". She put other obligations on hold and devoted herself to reading a book a day. A lifetime reader, a trait shared with her sister(s) and parents, this intense immersion into reading was restorative (likening it to the years her father spent in a TB sanitarium following WWII). The book was effectively ordered in thematic chapters on family, love, joys of reading, death, etc. tying characters and themes from her reading into her own experiences. The list of books is included at the end of the book.

4 stars
June TIOLI #10
13x10 #1

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