Donna828 Simplifies Her Life & Reading: Ch. 2
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From My Shelf: Out of Africa
The Zookeepers Wife
Audio: Peace Is Every Step by Thich Nhit Hanh
Kindle: Spain In Our Hearts…making progress
Library: Next up is Celine
My Favorite Books from 2016 in the order I read them:
When Breath Becomes Air
This House of Sky
A Gentleman in Moscow *My only 5-star book for the year*
The Count of Monte Cristo
The Boys in the Boat
One Star......Not worth my time
Two Stars....Finished grudgingly
2.5 Stars......Fair, but not for me
Three Stars..Liked it pretty well but had reservations
3.5 Stars.....Good but not great
Four Stars...Great book; I recommend anything with a 4-star and beyond rating
4.5 Stars.....Excellent - a keeper
Five Stars....Superb - Timeless, a real treasure.
Books Read in March:
16. West With the Night by Beryl Markham. 4.4 stars. comments.
17. The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye. 4.3 stars. comments.
18. The First Eagle by Tony Hillerman. 3.8 stars.
19. Hunting Badger by Tony Hillerman. 3.4 stars. comments.
20. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. 4 stars. comments.
21. World Made By Hand by James Howard Kunstler. 3.2 stars. comments.
22. War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans. 4.7 stars. Review..
23. The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain. 3.7 stars. comments.
Books Read in February
9. Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear. 3.8 stars. comments.
10. Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo. 4.2 stars. comments.
11. An Obvious Fact by Craig Johnson. 3.5 stars. comments
12. Human Acts by Han Kang. 4.1 stars. comments.
13. The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin. 3.6 stars. comments.
14. Birds Of A Feather by Jacqueline Winspear. 3.5 stars. comments.
15. Evicted by Matthew Desmond. 4.3 stars. comments.
February Reading Recap:
Pages Read: 2,591
Year To Date: 5,288
Trips to Kansas City and Florida kept the reading on the light side, at least as far as number of pages go. Human Acts and Evicted were heavy topics, with Evicted slightly nudging out Nobody's Fool from first place for the month. I am still waiting for a WOW book!
Books Read in January:
1. Face To Face: A Reader in the World by Lynn Sharon Schwartz. 3.1 stars. comments.
2. The Buried Giant by Kashuo Ishiguro. 3.7 stars. comments.
3. Daring: My Passages by Gail Sheehy. 3.1 stars. comments.
4. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman. 4.1 stars. comments.
5. Jimmy Bluefeather by Kim Heacox. 4.5 stars. Review.
6. Lab Girl by Hope Jahren. 4 stars. comments.
7. Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys. 2.8 stars. comments.
8. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly. 4 stars. comments.
January Reading Recap:
Pages Read: 2,697
Not the greatest start to a new year. I was sick for the first two weeks with the aftereffects of a viral infection which meant less reading. I think it also meant less enjoyment from reading as reflected by my ratings. Jimmy Bluefeather was a standout for the month. It had everything I love in a book: good writing, a touch of the mystical, and strong characterization. My disappointment in January was Salt to the Sea. The simple and sometimes melodramatic writing was the biggest downfall in my estimation. I did enjoy learning about a little-known part of WWII which kept me reading until the end.
I made the decision at the end of last year to only take part in the many challenges in this group as the spirit moved me. In that vein, I read The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down for the Nonfiction Group which had "Prizewinners" as its theme. It deservedly won The National Book Critics Circle Award in 1997.
I read FIVE non-fiction books during the month. That is probably a record for this fiction-lover!
Book No. 9: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear. Audio by Rita Barrington; 320 pp. 3.8 stars.
I think I'm going to enjoy this easy-listening mystery series about ummm…Maisie Dobbs. Little Maisie lost her mother and entered domestic service at age 13. She was discovered in the library by her employer and, instead of being dismissed, received special tutoring from Maurice Blanche who was a brilliant friend of the family. Her first client as a Special Investigator is a friend of Lady Rowan, her past employer, and concerns a community of wounded World War I veterans. That is the overview of the story but the telling of it is the treat. It is a good mixture of historical fiction, coming-of-age, overcoming adversity, and a cozy mystery. The narrator wasn't bad, either. I think I will continue on with this series for awhile, at least until the author visits my local library in the spring. Something to look forward to!
Book No. 10: Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo. Off my shelf, 549 pp. 4.2 stars.
“Throughout his life a case study underachiever, Sully—people still remarked—was nobody’s fool, a phrase that Sully no doubt appreciated without ever sensing its literal application—that at sixty, he was divorced from his own wife, carrying on halfheartedly with another man’s, estranged from his son, devoid of self-knowledge, badly crippled and virtually unemployable—all of which he stubbornly confused with independence.”
I am a Richard Russo fan and enjoyed the chance to read one of his earlier books before I get the sequel from the library. Thank you to my friend Nancy for the birthday present! Donald Sullivan, known as Sully, is unforgettable as a protagonist. He is funny and his life is a mess. He lives in the upper level of his 8th grade teacher's house who is a wonderful character in her own right. In fact, the entire cast of supporting characters get my Oscar votes. Speaking of which, a Paul Newman movie adaptation is going to be a must-see for me. Nobody does the down-and-out in small town America like Richard Russo.
Wonderful new thread, Donna! I love all the graphics, and I'm always in awe of how creative you are. ;-)
Have a safe trip home tomorrow!
Yay for my No. 1 friend and my No. 1 visitor! I was just thinking about Nobody's Fool and what an enjoyable book it was. Thank you for the gift and for the good wishes for my trip home tomorrow. You will get to go home someday!
Happy new thread, Donna! You're really going to town on Maisie Dobbs! I must read those someday soon. Safe travels!
Love your topper, Donna. Happy new thread! Delighted you enjoyed Nobody's Fool so much.
>8 Carmenere: Lynda, Maisie is great for a little mystery, historical fiction, and a satisfied feeling afterward. Give her a tryout.
>9 lit_chick: Thanks, Nancy. I knew you and my other Nancy wouldn't steer me wrong.
>10 lauralkeet: Hi Laura! The sequel has been on the shelf at my "new" library. I will grab it next time I'm in! And a big YES to the movie with Paul Newman. Win-win.
My grandkids have been calling me Lady Gaga all day. I'm flattered…quite a flashy halftime show.
Here are some highlights leading up to our Super Bowl Party. Some of us are losing interest in the game. Penalty: shower and pajama time!
Griffin helps make brownies. They were delicious!
Sadie's Super Pizza!
Let the party begin!
Sadie, Griffin, Audrey
Happy New Thread, Donna! I like your sunny, positive topper. Happy Sunday, my friend. I hope all is well.
so glad you enjoyed Nobody's Fool. I am hoping to bookhorn it in, in the coming months.
Happy new thread, Donna! I am losing interest in football right now, too, which is I am here!!! LOL
But now I am back in...nail biter!! First overtime in SuperBowl history!
Hey Donna! Looks like a great Super Bowl party! My goodness, your grandkids are getting soooo big! They're adorable too!
LOL Ohhhh, so you're the reason the Falcons didn't come out of the locker room for the second half. tsk tsk tsk ;0)
Happy New Thread, Donna!
Looks like you had some good pals to watch the Super Bowl with.
Happy new thread! Great photos of your grand kids! Looks like fun!
Yep, I was right. The grandkids are just as cute as the granddogs. :-)
Have a safe trip home, Donna.
>5 Donna828: I completely agree. I'm a big Russo fan myself. He's a comfort read for me.
Happy new thread, Donna! Wishing you safe travels home today - I bet you are ready for your own things around you. Your Super Bowl party looks most excellent, and those kids are getting big.
So glad you loved Nobody's Fool - I really adored that one.
I have never ready anything by Russo. I have him listed as one of the authors I want to read this year. Thanks to your enthusiasm and review, it will probably be Nobody's Fool unless there is another one that you'd rec as my debut read.
Happy New Thread! Looks like you had a grand Super Bowl feast. I lost interest before half time, so it was pajamas and bed for me too. Lol
Looks like you had great food for the Super Bowl feast and great help preparing it.
Happy new thread
I'm looking forward to reading A Gentleman in Moscow for our October book club discussion. So far I'm avoiding reviews, but it's encouraging how many people are raving about it.
Hi Donna! I see you're reading An Obvious Fact. I've had a hold on an Overdrive ebook copy and my turn just came up. I'll be reading it this weekend.
Your mention of brownies have me craving them. I may have to whip up a batch this weekend to nibble on while I catch up with Walt and the gang in Absaroka County!
Happy new thread, Donna. Your Super Bowl party looks spectacular.
And, you've got a good start to reading, too. Maisie Dobbs is a good series, and how fun that you will get to meet the author.
Hi Donna! I finished An Obvious Fact this afternoon. I enjoyed it more than the last couple of books in the series. The skeet shooting competition is my favorite scene in the book.
I made it home just fine. It took me a few days to get back on track…and now I'm heading off on another trip. DH and I are leaving for six days in Florida tomorrow morning. We will be visiting friends in Ft. Myers and Clearwater Beach. DH will be doing a little work and I will be doing a lot of relaxing.
>20 scaifea: Thanks, Amber.
>21 Carmenere: My KC grandkids are growing up way too fast, Lynda. Sorry I brought the Falcons bad luck by bragging about them too soon. Next year I will keep my mouth shut until the final play.
>22 jnwelch: My pals were the best ever, Joe. We were super excited about the game and the imminent arrival of the parents, too!
>23 ChelleBearss: We had a great time, Chelle. Thanks for warming up my new thread.
>24 Ameise1: Thanks, Barbara, on both counts.
>25 rosalita: Julia, I appreciate your kind words…and your humor. The trip home was uneventful. Just the way I like it.
>26 RebaRelishesReading: Reba, I think Russo is a good storyteller. He makes me feel right at home in upstate New York.
>27 ronincats: I can see why you think that way, Roni. Not weird at all. Just take out the D and add an N to make Sadie become Sabine. Makes perfect sense to me.
>28 Crazymamie: Now I am looking forward to Everybody's Fool, Mamie. It was sitting on the shelf in the New Books section of the library until I wanted to check it out. I'll reserve it when I get back from Florida.
>29 streamsong: I think Nobody's Fool would be an excellent introduction to Russo, Janet. If you want a stand-alone for your trial run, then Empire Falls would be my recommendation. Thanks for calling me the Cool Grandma. I managed to keep my cool for the 9-days in charge which was my goal.
>30 nittnut: So you missed the best second half in the 51-year history of the Super Bowl, Jenn? I'm glad I saw it but I still can't believe that New England came from so far behind to win the game.
>31 thornton37814: I'm glad my grandkids are interested in cooking, Lori. At least they enjoy making the fun stuff!
>32 souloftherose: Heather, Maisie Dobbs is a good palate cleansing series. Just light enough to refresh the mind between the heavier tomes. I tend to think of her as the female version of Sherlock Holmes without drugs. She is very intuitive in her problem-solving.
>33 karenmarie: Karen, your book group has chosen a good one for October. There will be some great discussion about the Moscow Gentleman I'm sure.
>35 cbl_tn: Hi Megan and thanks for the recommendation of Jernigan. I'm not familiar with the title but will look it up. Messy lives make for good reading!
>42 Donna828: I did. I am not too fussed though. I am not a huge football fan, and have no particular attachment to either team, so.
>35 cbl_tn:, >39 cbl_tn: A weekend with Sheriff Walt and some brownies sounds perfect to me. I do enjoy those Craig Johnson books and will eagerly await the next one. Can't get enough of the Absaroka County gang!
>36 Berly: Haha, I've got you guys fooled! Good to see you, Kim. I've been terrible about keeping up with my peeps.
>37 Familyhistorian: I can't wait to dive into Everybody's Fool, Meg. There are also a few older Russo books I look forward to reading. I've had to interrupt my Maisie Dobbs reading to work in The Aviator's Wife which I will be discussing with my Florida friend's book group on Saturday. I met with them two years ago and had a good time.
>38 BLBera: We don't get many authors here in Southwest Missouri, Beth, so it will be a spring highlight for me! It also helps that I am becoming hooked on Jacqueline Winspear's books.
Book No. 11: An Obvious Fact by Craig Johnson. 317pp., library copy. 3.7 stars.
Set against the backdrop of the huge motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, Sheriff Walt Longmire is investigating an accident that has left a handsome young man in a coma in nearby Wyoming. What a surprise to find out that his mother is the famous Lola whom Henry Standing Bear has named his beloved Thunderbird after.
I like all the Longmire books but especially the ones where Henry plays a big part. In this one he is reading Sherlock Holmes and gives Walt some competition in literary quotes. Lots of rollicking action involving motorcyles and the groupies that they attract make this book different from the others in the series. I found my eyes rolling in a few places but just suspended belief and went along with the fun.
Book No. 12: Human Acts by Han Kang. 219 pp., library copy. 4.1 star.
"I'm fighting, alone, every day. I fight with the hell that I survived. I fight with the fact of my own humanity. I fight with the idea that death is the only way of escaping this fact." (140)
This may be a short book, but it is not easy reading. Dong-ho is just one of the many victims of the authoritarian regime in South Korea in 1980. The massacre is described in vivid detail as the bodies pile up in a warehouse waiting to be claimed by loved ones. Different voices tell of the anguish of young lives lost and the continuing distress of the survivors. Haunting images and the unanswered questions about wandering souls and the future of humanity will linger long in my mind.
I hope you have a wonderful and relaxing trip away. Enjoy yourselves and get lots of reading in!
I could go for a week in Florida just about now! Have a great trip!
Good planning to have a trip for relaxation after looking after the grandkids. Enjoy the rest and relaxation and books, Donna.
I need to get to Human Acts ASAP as it is an ER book for me. My must read TBR pile seems to consist of tough books that I think will be good for me to read.
Hi Donna. I thought I'd better stop by and see what you're up to before your "new" thread gets too long ~~ and you're on your way to Florida! Well, you're there by now, enjoying some reading on the beach, I hope.
I have looked at Human Acts in the ER lists for the past few months and just not been sure. Yours is the second review that has been quite positive.
I'm on number ten in the Walt Longmire series. I have been listening to them of late and enjoying that. I also particularly like it when Henry plays a significant role in the story. He is such a great character!
All this talk about Nobody's Fool makes me want to get to that one. Wish my library had it on audio. I enjoyed Empire Falls on audio, and love Russo's writing.
Glad you liked your first Maisie Dobbs, Donna! I just finished number 8, and am still enjoying them just as much as the first one.
I've put A Gentleman in Moscow on my wishlist, thanks to your rec. I'm sure I'll love it; his Rules of Civility was a 4-1/2 star read for me.
Though I care nothing about football, the super bowl party grandkid pics are adorable!
>46 Donna828: the first two sentences suggest Han Kang's second book I will read is as intense as the first!
I look forward to it :)
Hey All! Having a lovely time here in Clearwater Beach. Just came home from my friend's book club meeting. There was more socializing and eating than talk about The Aviator's Wife. I miss my serious -- and much smaller -- local group. This group has been in existence for 25 years. Their first book was Gift From the Sea so it was only fitting that this fictionalized account of The Lindbergh marriage was their choice. They are having a 2-day book blast next month to celebrate their 25 years together.
>47 lunacat: Jenny, I haven't managed much reading. Too much fun stuff to do!
>48 lit_chick: Fabulous indeed, Nancy!
>49 ChelleBearss: I highly recommend winter getaways to warm climates, Chelle.
>50 msf59: We spent Monday on Sanibel Island, Mark. Now I have a bag of seashells to pack!
>51 Familyhistorian: Meg, the timing was right and it helped make the babysitting go by more quickly.
>52 streamsong: Janet, at least you have some challenging books to look forward to.
>53 karenmarie: Thanks very much, Karen.
>54 Berly: Yes indeed, Kim. 🐥
>55 EBT1002: Glad to hear you are a Longmire fan, Ellen. I enjoy beachcombing...I can get some steps in while I enjoy the sand between my toes!
>56 countrylife: Hooray for another Maisie Dobbs fan. Good to know that the series is consistent. I will resume listening to Birds Of A Feather on our trip home tomorrow. Thanks for keeping up with me, Cindy. I am so out of touch after a week away.
>57 BLBera: Thank you, Beth. It's been a good week.
>58 LovingLit: Hi Megan, that means I should probably read the first one, right, Megan?
All caught up for now on my little break in Florida Fun. I am still thinking about my latest read/listen. It may be a day or two before I do my brief write-up.
>59 Donna828: Clearwater was where we used to visit before my parents bought in Kissimmee. I remember wonderful warm vacations there - much needed during the winters in Montreal. I hope you are enjoying the sun, sand and sea.
Oh, I hope you are having a lovely time in Florida! We love the Ft. Myers area.
>62 Familyhistorian: Hi Meg. We took family vacations in Clearwater Beach back in the 80s. Our kids loved it! It's still a fun place to visit and we have good friends there which will keep us going back. Our winter didn't need much of an escape. We barely got any snow this year. Maybe it all went your way!
>63 AMQS: Thanks for keeping my thread warm, Anne. One of my friends lives in Ft. Myers for six months out of the year so it is on my radar when we go to Florida. Sanibel was such a treat. Beautiful beach, lots of shells. But you already know that if you are a Ft. Myers fan.
We got home to some warm weather of our own - 84 degrees here today. The trees are leaving out and we even have some early blooms: forsythia, crocus, and magnolia shrubs. The magnolias may get nipped this weekend when the weather turns colder. It happens almost every year…
I had my Mohs surgery on a growth on my back on Tuesday. My dermatologist found it in October and I took the first available appointment for the deeper excision. My doctor is a peach and told me he always schedules melanomas and squamous cells first. I should be happy that I had to wait so long for my basal cell carcinoma, right? I'm getting to be an old hand at this and didn't bat an eye. Surgery on the back is easy to ignore; the others have been on my face and caused much eye-batting!
I am so far behind on LT. I will be slowly catching up with my thread and visits to other threads. Reading comes first, though. I have several books in progress which I list in Message 2 above.
It's good to be home!
Sweet Thursday, Donna! I hope you had a great time. I finally added the audio of Nobody's Fool to my queue. I hope I can get to it, in the next few weeks.
Oh yeah- I finished Infinite Jest. It was a challenging read, to say the least but what a masterful piece of work. I may not have "got" everything but there were so many beautiful stretches of writing. It is a one of a kind experience.
Oh dear, glad to hear your surgery went well, Donna!
I love Sanibel, but it's been a few years since we've been there.
Isn't Hope due a visit soon? :)
Book No. 13: The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin; audio by Lorna Raver. 448 pp., Overdrive. 3.6 stars.
I decided to skip this book when it came out a few years ago for two reasons: I did not want to hear about the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby and I was getting tired of the fictionalized suffering-wife's-story ala Loving Frank and The Paris Wife. Well, my Florida friend specifically invited us for last week end so I could attend her longstanding book group. I really enjoyed it when I visited for Eat, Pray, Love two years ago. Not so much this time. It was disorganized and too many people talking at the same time made it hard to focus on the discussion. Twenty-one people were in attendance and most of them were extroverts. Yikes!
The book itself deserved more than a cursory discussion. There were more things to discuss rather than how awful it must have been to be married to Charles Lindbergh. I wanted more insight to how Anne changed after her marriage to a "celebrity" and why it's not a good idea to keep secrets in a marriage. It's a good thing there are no men in that group or they would have walked out with all the male-bashing going on. It takes a strong leader to rein in 21 women…and she wasn't at the meeting that day.
>64 Donna828: Also glad to hear your surgery is over and went well :). Welcome back to the Midwest!
Book No. 14: Birds Of A Feather by Jacqueline Winspear; audio by Kim Hicks. 320 pp., Hoopla. 3.5 stars.
Oh No! They changed narrators for this series. I liked Rita Barrington much better. She had a softer, friendlier voice, perhaps to reflect the younger Maisie Dobbs. In this book, No. 2 in the series, she is in her early thirties and more established as a private investigator. The narrator had a definite "no nonsense" voice. Maisie is investigating the disappearance of a rich man's daughter. In the course of the search, she discovers three of Charlotte's friends have been killed. The only clue is the white feather found on or near the bodies. The significance of the feathers was fascinating and contributed to the psychological nature of Maisie's problem-solving skills. Again, the memories of WWI play a prominent role to the events. I'll definitely continue with the series, no matter who narrates, but I may space them out a little more.
>65 msf59: Hey Mark! Sweet Thursday to you, my friend. You will love Nobody's Fool. Guaranteed. I agree with your comments on Infinite Jest: challenging and masterful; one of a kind. Yup, yup, and yup! I'm so glad I read it.
>66 Copperskye: Thanks, Joanne. It was a simple one this time. And, YES, Hope is way overdue a visit from Grandma D! I get my stitches out (17 of them, but who's counting?) in two weeks and then I hope to be on a plane heading west shortly after that. I am shooting for the week end of March 11-12 or the following week end. DH wants to go with me so I am working around his schedule. I'll let you know as soon as I know!
>68 brenpike: It's good to be home again, Brenda. This month was a strange one for this home girl! I may have to start over with my bridge game after being away from it so long...
Glad to hear, that the surgery went well. Sending lots of healing vibes.
Congrats on a smooth surgery and good recovery. Seventeen stitches sounds like a lot! Does it make it uncomfortable to sleep on your back?
Hi Donna! Wow! how nice to spend a little time in Florida! Are you home for awhile now or plans to scoot out on another adventure? My thoughts were fairly similar to yours on Human Acts. Considering all the issues we have going in the US, it's nothing compared to that.
Have you read The Vegetarian?
Glad the surgery went well oh fair skinned one :)
I wish you a speedy recovery, Donna. Great comments on The Aviator's Wife and the Maisie Dobbs. I read Anne Morrow Lindbergh's diaries and loved them. Not sure I want to read a fictionalized version of her life.
Hi Donna, I've been wondering about The Aviator's Wife. Thinking I won't rush to get to it.
I can give you good news in terms of the Maisie Dobbs narrators: Rita Barrington and Kim Hicks (whom I also didn't care for) narrated the first and second books, and then the series went to, and stayed with, Orlagh Cassidy. She is sublime, IMO. Perfect for this series. So take heart.
>71 Copperskye: I can't wait to see my Colorado Peeps again. It sounds like Mary is at least considering staying in-state, though we may need to take a road trip down to the Springs or Pueblo to see her!
>72 Ameise1: Thanks, Barbara. I'll be over to see you soon.
>73 rosalita: Luckily I don't sleep on my back, Julia. But I do like to flip-flop from side to side…and that can be uncomfortable. The first two nights were the worst.
>74 Carmenere: Lynda, Florida was fun. We plan to go to Colorado sometime in March but it looks like it might be later in the month as my husband's work schedule is filling up. Yes, he's retired, although he won't let go! No, I haven't read The Vegetarian. Should I? I am easily swayed when it comes to book recommendations.
>75 BLBera: I have wondered about her diaries, Beth. According to Melanie Benjamin in her author's note, Anne and Charles sat down with the diaries when he first took ill and edited them. Hmmmm. Still, I think they would be better than the fictionalized account of her life and marriage.
>76 lit_chick: Thank you for that great news, Nancy. I wasn't about to give up on the series yet now I am looking forward to reading more Maisie books! I guess it takes awhile to find the perfect voice. "Sublime" sounds very encouraging.
>77 brodiew2: And you brought me some bad news, Brodie. Those are the go-to books for my husband and me when we have a long road trip planned. We still have several books left in the Gabriel Allon series. Looks like we will have to suck it up and listen to a new voice. I do like Jim Lee and will miss him; however, the books are too good to pass up. I must drop by and see what you are reading these days.
>69 Donna828: I just loved this: "...It takes a strong leader to rein in 21 women…and she wasn't at the meeting that day. "
Book No. 15: Evicted by Matthew Desmond. Library book. 432 pp. 4.3 stars.
"People like Larraine lived with so many compounded limitations that it was difficult to imagine the amount of good behavior or self-control that would allow them to lift themselves out of poverty. The distance between grinding poverty and even stable poverty could be so vast that those at the bottom had little hope of climbing out even if they pinched every penny. So they chose not to. Instead, they tried to survive in color, to season the suffering with pleasure. They would get a little high or have a drink or do a bit of gambling or acquite a television. They might buy lobster on food stamps." (219)
There has been much love and dismay about this book. I thought it very cool that the author actually lived with the people he wrote about. No one could undeerstand this kind of life unless they have experienced it firsthand. I saw it up close when I taught school in a very poor area of town. Students were in and out like there was a revolving door…not so much due to evictions as to evading late payment charges, etc. Whatever the reason, I did feel sorry for the kids who lived from month to month in precarious housing or in shelters.
It may be difficult to break the cycle of poverty but it can be done if someone is motivated enough. Programs are available to those who can see past the depression of living in a slum. I like what is in the works for our small midwestern city with a fairly sizable homeless population. A church (yes, we're in the Bible Belt) is renovating an abandoned trailer park by building a complex of tiny houses for those who qualify by being in educational or vocational programs. There will be laundry facilities and a clubhouse with volunteers to help with GED training and computers for residents as well as play areas and tutors as needed for the children. This will affect only a small population but it is a beginning. The author also had some ideas involving housing vouchers which seemed promising. Books like this make us aware of how many of our fellow citizens live. It is up to us to come up with some viable solutions.
Welcome home, Donna! Glad you had some warm weather in Mizzou to help you transition back.
>67 Donna828: Twenty-one people were in attendance and most of them were extroverts. Yikes!
Yikes is right. I would have been exhausted afterwards.
I'm glad your surgery went well, but 17 stitches! Eek.
And I can't imagine a book club with 21 members there (and apparently at least one missing). Ours is 12, and after a few abortive attempts by a couple of members to try to control the group with talking sticks or talking stones (sheesh), we have mostly settled into going around the group and letting each one have her say, then a free-for-all after if we're still inclined to talk about the book.
Great comments on Evicted, Donna. It is on my list to get to this year.
Yes, great comments, Donna. I was really impressed with Evicted. We've struggled with public housing in Chicago, but are having some success with mixed income housing. More is going in where the old (unsuccessful) Cabrini-Green high rises were. They were the ones featured in There Are No Children Here. Lots of promise in the beginning, but a bad solution.
>83 Donna828: Desmond was following in George Orwell's well trodden and probably pretty smelly footsteps, Donna. I must look out for this one.
Have a wonderful weekend.
>83 Donna828: ooh, another reminder to get to that one asap! Thanks for the bump.
>83 Donna828: Donna--I am looking forward to hearing him talk here in Portland the beginning of March. I just got the ebook from the library and hope to read some of it before I hear him and then pick up a signed copy while I am there and finish it afterwards.
My grandparents both lived in Florida, Miami and Tampa, and now my parents are there. I love to visit, especially when I need a little sunshine to balance out the rain. I am glad you get to go soon and that you'll be all healed up by the time you go!!
Ew... surgery and 17 stitches? Wishing you a very quick and pain-free recovery!! Great pics of the grandchildren and the super bowl party!
21 people in a RL book group would be 10-15 too many for me, I know I wouldn't say a word in the discussion.
Have a lovely week!
>80 michigantrumpet: Hi Marianne, book groups don't run themselves it seems. I have been so spoiled by our leader who guides the discussion like the pro that she is. Too bad she moved to another library and now our group is in limbo.
>81 brodiew2: Ah, The Confessor was a long time ago. I think we both read that one in print. Last year we listened to The English Girl together. I believe there are three more after that one, and he usually comes out with a new book in July. Something to look forward to even if the narrator isn't John Lee.
>82 Carmenere: Thanks, Lynda. I have plenty of other books to read so will pass on The Vegetarian, at least for now. I like some hope along with those sad books.
>83 Donna828: We've had a little bit of every kind of weather since we got home, Roni. I'm sure you remember spring in the midwest. Lots of variety. It was 27 degrees when we walked this morning. A warmer week end is in the works.
>84 ronincats: Exhausting is right, Jenn. I don't like crowds in general and too many people talking at the same time drives me crazy. The food was great, though!
>86 karenmarie: Karen, when I went two years ago, that's how the group operated. Everyone had a chance to talk in turn and then it moved on to the leader picking up some of the points made and continuing the dialog. Very well organized for a large group like that. I will probably go back at some point and hope for the best. It is a well-read group.
>87 streamsong: Thanks for the virtual thumb, Janet. It's too personal for me to post but I appreciate the thought. I have joined "The Gathering Tree" on Facebook so I can keep up with what they are doing. So far no construction that I know of.
>88 BLBera: I think you will "enjoy" it, Beth. It closely follows a small group of people who are having a hard time. I would like to see a sequel in a few years to see if their situations have improved.
>89 jnwelch: Yeah, the high rise situation wasn't good, was it, Joe? Personally, I think it works best when motivated people are moved into regular communities rather than being set aside like that. Then they have good role models as neighbors. Big cities have big issues.
>90 PaulCranswick: I like the "smelly footsteps" comment, Paul. The author was so good, I could smell the stench of poverty.
>91 LovingLit: You're welcome, Megan.
>92 Ameise1: Thank you, Barbara. I've been remiss with my own thread lately.
>93 Berly: Florida is a warm memory in my heart, Kim. Next trip is Colorado late in March. How lucky you are to be able to hear what Matthew Desmond has to say in person. I like your plan to start the book first. I know you will be sharing his comments on your thread, right?
>94 Deern: I get my stitches out next week, Nathalie. It is healing nicely but I have to get into some awful contortions when DH isn't available to do "wound" duty. I just have to keep it clean and covered but centering the bandage in the middle of my lower back is problematic. I'm glad you liked the pictures. I only made a few low comments to my immediate neighbors at the book group. I'm not one to shout out in large gatherings!
We've gone from this:
The sun is shining today but I'm not ready to put my cold weather clothes away yet!
Book No. 16: West With the Night by Beryl Markham. 294pp., My copy. 4.4 stars.
"Africa is mystic; it is wild; it is a sweltering inferno; it is a photographer's paradise, a hunter's Valhalla, an escapist's Utopia. It is what you will, and it withstands all interpretations." (8)
I don't know why it has taken me so long to read this book. I've owned it for quite awhile now waiting for the right time. I was planning to read it for Suzanne's February nonfiction challenge about Voyages of Exploration but had too many interruptions. I'm glad it fit into the Heroes and Villains challenge. I'm calling Beryl Markham a hero because of her record-setting journey from England to Canada in 1936, although I've heard the rumors about her alleged affairs so some might consider her to be a villain.
Ernest Hemingway has this to say about her writing: "I knew her fairly well in Africa and never would have suspected that she could and would put pen to paper except to write in her flyer's log book. As it is, she had written so well, and marvelously well, that I was completely ashamed of myself as a writer. I felt that I was simply a carpenter with words, picking up whatever was furnished on the job and nailing them together and sometimes making an okay pig pen. But she can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers." Well, the writing was excellent but there are also rumors that she had the help of a ghost writer. Still, I'm giving her credit for a very good book which makes me want to pick up another long-neglected book of mine by an acquaintance of hers--Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen. These ladies will help me get some more books off my shelves…unless I can't bear to give them away.
I've already got Beryl Markham's book on my wishlist - nice reminder that if I can find it I should get it and read it soon. I need to read Isak Denisen too.
For some reason looking at that book cover reminded me of an excellent book about another strong, interesting woman - Desert Queen: The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, Adviser to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia by Janet Wallach. I found it to be a fascinating read.
>98 Donna828: you have an amazing outlook from your place! Is that a lake?
Hi Donna, just dropping by to say HI! Hope that you're having a great weekend.
Maybe some day we can do a Gramma rendezvous in Denver. Enjoy your visit!
Donna--What a lovely back yard you have! And I will do my best to share Matthew Desmond's comments.
>83 Donna828: Sending you a virtual thumb for that lovely review. And this made me very happy:
"It may be difficult to break the cycle of poverty but it can be done if someone is motivated enough. Programs are available to those who can see past the depression of living in a slum. I like what is in the works for our small midwestern city with a fairly sizable homeless population. A church (yes, we're in the Bible Belt) is renovating an abandoned trailer park by building a complex of tiny houses for those who qualify by being in educational or vocational programs. There will be laundry facilities and a clubhouse with volunteers to help with GED training and computers for residents as well as play areas and tutors as needed for the children. This will affect only a small population but it is a beginning. The author also had some ideas involving housing vouchers which seemed promising. Books like this make us aware of how many of our fellow citizens live. It is up to us to come up with some viable solutions.
My church provides shelter several times a year for homeless families through our local "Family Promise" organization. I've been an overnight host since it's started. The goal is to get the member families into stable housing, but I adore the scope and ambition of your local project.
>83 Donna828:, >112 michigantrumpet: As I am so behind on threads and have so little reading time I admit I skip most of the reviews currently simply because I don't want to catch BBs. Marianne, thank you so much for repeating what Donna wrote about that project! I admire those participating in it, as I imagine it is difficult and not always directly rewarding. Might get the book now. :)
>99 Donna828: You sold me on that one Donna. Looks just the sort of book I would enjoy.
Have a great week.
Hello, Lovely People. I am going to post a quick review and run. I hope to have time while Molly is here tomorrow to visit with each one of my visitors. I'm off to play bridge tonight. I took part in a tournament this weekend with typical results. My partner and I were in first place on Friday and came in dead last on Saturday! Maybe I should stick to reading?!?
Book No. 17: The Gods of Gotham by Lyndsay Faye. Audio by Stephen Boyer; 480 pp. 4.3 stars.
Both author and reader did an excellent job recounting the mayhem in New York City in 1845 when Timothy survived a major fire and became a part of the first police force called The Copper Stars. He quickly learned to watch for the kinds of crime that hurt people and let the streetwalkers and street urchins go their "merry" ways. That is until he literally runs into Birdy, a blood-soaked ten-year-old that has a secret to hide. Her story unfolds slowly and reveals crimes so heinous that grown men were brought to tears. That's all of the backstory you'll get from me. I just wanted to let potential readers know this is an extremely gritty book. I liked it so well, though, that I will be listening to the second one by this author very soon.
Sounds like quite a tale, given the backstory, Donna. Always on the lookout for good audiobooks, and the time frame here appeals.
Three-year-old Molly gave Grandma D. a real workout today. We played on all three levels of the house, went to StoryTime at the newly remodeled library, watched The Piglet Movie for the umpteenth time, and spent time outside. Needless to say, I didn't have computer time while she was here for the 7-hour visit! Btw, I loved every minute of it!
>102 Whisper1: Linda, I can see why West With the Night is a favorite of yours. What a memorable book. Thanks for the visit. I hope you are feeling more energetic these days.
>103 msf59: Hi Mark, I like following in your reading footsteps. I get so many good recommendations from you.
>104 Copperskye: So true about the Colorado weather, Joanne. I think you will enjoy West With the Night. I love books by and about strong women.
>105 RebaRelishesReading: I haven't started Out of Africa yet, Reba. I'm sure I will like it, though. I just can't stay away from my "new" library and the shiny books there calling my name!
>106 nittnut: I am staying away from Circling the Sun, Jenn…unless you convince me otherwise. I am tired of the fictionalized stories of my strong women that make them look weak. I'm speaking of you, The Aviator's Wife! I'm glad to hear you are a fan of Isak Dineson.
>107 karenmarie: I've heard of Gertrude Bell, Karen, and am glad to know the bio is a good one. Onto the list it goes!
>108 LovingLit: It's more like a large pond, Megan. Yes, we do have nice views from our deck…except in the summer when we are outside a great deal more. The neighborhood lake is filling up with sediment and gets a bad case of algae when the weather warms up. We are in the process of raising funds from the neighbors to dredge the lake this summer.
>109 DianaNL: I love that graphic, Diana. Eight is my favorite number because it represents infinity, a concept I find fascinating.
>110 mdoris: Mary, a Grandma rendezvous sounds like a fun thing to do. Just let me know when you will be there. The hard part will be making the time away from our grandchildren…or I suppose we could include them. Hope loves babies!
>111 Berly: Hi Kim. Your backyard is beautiful, too. We've also had barred owls around our place. I have a picture of one perched on our deck railing. One year, we had four owlets hopping around our yard for a few weeks. So much fun!
>112 michigantrumpet: Marianne, your message is very timely. There was an article in Sunday's newpaper about Eden Village, the new complex for disabled chronically homeless people. They had over 50 volunteers cleaning up the abandoned trailer park in hopes of having the first tiny home set up by the end of next month. They want to have ten in place before people start moving in. It will only help 30 or so people (depending on how many share the units) which is a drop in the bucket, but at least it's a beginning. I like what your church is doing. We also have programs like that here in Springfield (MO). Overnight shelters are important, too, especially in the winter. Are you allowed to sleep on the job when you volunteer? I'm afraid I would be hopeless at staying up all night.
>113 Deern: Nathalie, book bullets are a way of life around here, aren't they? I am accumulating a long list of possibilities. I hope my health stays good so I can read all these books someday! I've had to step back from thread hopping because of busyness, but I do so enjoy keeping up with you and many others I've connected with over my years here. We can just do our best and hope it's good enough.
>114 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul. The week is flying by as usual. I hope you enjoy West With the Night as much as I did.
>116 lit_chick: Nancy, several LTers have recommended this book recently. I particularly liked the reviews of Cindy (countrylife), Lori (lkernagh), and Brodie (brodiew2), who convinced me to give it a try despite my misgivings about child abuse. If you read them, you will be running to get the book!
>117 AMQS: Thanks, Anne, I'm doing well. Got those 17 stitches out yesterday and the area is healing nicely. I'm glad I piqued your interest in a few books. I'm looking forward to seeing you later this month.
>119 alcottacre: Well, look who slipped in here while I was typing away. Hello, Stasia! You have been sorely missed around here, my friend. Do we have to wait until late November (or early December) to celebrate your graduation?
>118 Donna828: and I'm guessing you slept quite well last night :)
Howdy, Donna! The Gods of Gotham sounds intriguing — I may have to add that one to the ever-growing list.
Hi Donna! I am in the midst of reading the Poldark series so loaned The Gods of Gotham to my neighbor just this week. She wanted something a bit different from what she normally reads, so your 4.3 stars encourages me to think she might like it.
>123 RebaRelishesReading: I surely did, Reba. I wish I could bottle Molly's energy and sell it as a treatment for insomnia!
>124 ronincats: That's their job, Roni!
>125 rosalita: I hope you do, Julia. It's a very good book about life and crime in early New York City.
>126 karenmarie: I certainly hope so, Karen. I'd like to get to the Poldark series some day. So many books…
>127 brodiew2: Brodie, I will get Seven For A Secret from the same source where I found The Gods of Gotham--Hoopla, which is a service from my local library. I like that there is never a waiting list for their books. It is read by the same author, too, which is a good thing. Hey, did you see my compliment to your review in >121 Donna828: (my comments to lit_chick)? Thanks for posting it! I need to do more of that. I am getting lazy about reviews.
Book No. 18: The First Eagle by Tony Hillerman. My copy, 319 pp. 3.8 stars.
"Chee saw it was a golden eagle. It was the fourth one he'd seen today--a good year for eagles and a good place to find them--patrolling the mesa rimrock where rodents flourished. He watched this one circle, gray-white against the dark blue sky, until it satisfied its curiosity and drifted eastward over Black Mesa. When it turned, he noticed a gap in its fan of tail feathers. Probably an old one. Tail feathers aren't lost to molting." (138)
Jim Chee is acting Lieutenant for the Navajo Tribal Police when a fellow tribal policeman contacts him for help on a case. He is bereft when he arrived too late only to find a convicted Hopi eagle poacher leaning over his friend's body. Hillerman wrote this book as a homage to fallen tribal policemen and lists the six patrolmen who had been killed on duty during his writing career. This one looks like an open-and-shut case until closer inspection.
Joe Leaphorn is now retired and is called in as a private investigator in a missing woman case. Eagles aren't the only ones interested in the desert rodents. The missing woman is one of several scientists in the area from two different organizations working on finding the source of a recent Bubonic Plague outbreak. The two cases don't seem to have anything in common except proximity. Sometimes it just doesn't pay to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. This was another good story told by a master storyteller.
Hi Donna: Your day with Molly sounds like my day with Scout. She did take a nap though, so I got some school work done. That doesn't happen very often anymore. And I do love every minute.
Hillerman's a fave of mine - I have Anne Hillerman's continuations of the Jim Chee series, but haven't read them yet. Must get to it! :)
Happy weekend, Donna!! What?! No picture of the grandkids?! That's ok, I'll be patient.
I love Hillerman too. He wrote with such love for the southwest. I have 1 or 2 by Anne on my Kindle but that's like saying I have books on Mars because I rarely get around to reading off my Kindle. *Sigh*
Keep warm and have a wonderful weekend!
>130 BLBera: I'm the one who needed the nap when Molly was here, Beth. The movie helped because I know it by heart and could at least read my email and have a bit of a rest while Pooh and the gang were on.
>131 drneutron: I haven't decided yet if I will continue with TH's daughter or not, Jim. I am reading with a small LT group so will go along with what the others want to do. I'm going to be sad when I get to the last of the Tony Hillerman's books. They fall in my comfort reading area.
>132 Carmenere: No recent grandkid pictures, Lynda. I'll try and put some on my next thread. I also tend to forget about the books on my Kindle. I am supposedly reading Spain in Our Hearts while I'm on the treadmill, but I've been getting my steps in outdoors for the past few weeks. I had a great reading day today and plan to do the same tomorrow. Maybe I should read on the Kindle...
Book No. 19: Hunting Badger by Tony Hillerman. My copy, 335 pp. 3.4 stars.
"On the maps drawn by geographers, it's labeled the Colorado Plateau, with its eighty-five million acres sprawling across Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah. It is larger than any of those states; mostly high and dry and cut by countless canyons eroded eons ago when the glaciers were melting and the rain didn't stop for many thousand years. The few people who live on it call it the Four Corners, the High Dry, Canyon Land, Slick Rock Country, the Big Empty. Once a writer in more poetic times called it the Land of Room Enough and Time." (183)
The setting has an important role in all of Hillerman's books. He has a genuine love for the land and the people who reside in these sometimes inhospitable areas. In this book, Jim Chee is back in Shiprock, New Mexico, and is happy being a Sergeant again not having to worry about paperwork anymore. He is getting over the breakup of his engagement and ready to move on. When a casino is robbed by three men who kill one security person and severely injure another, Sgt. Chee joins forces with his old boss Joe Leaphorn to figure out where in this vast area the men can be hiding.
The plot in this book wasn't too exciting but it did lead to learning some more about Native American history and mythology, which I find fascinating. It was also an opportunity for Joe and Jim to let their relationship evolve into friendship as they continue to work well together. I read these books more for the personal aspects than to solve a mystery that often seems contrived, although this one was based on an actual manhunt around Cortez, Colorado in 1998.
>134 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul, almost missed you there. I hope you do give Mr. Hillerman another chance. As with many series, the more one gets to know the characters, the better it becomes. It might also help if you had an appreciation for the solitude and beauty of this part of the U.S. It is definitely not a tropical paradise!
I hope your weekend is going well. You must be extremely busy with preparations for your move. Good luck with that. xo
Stopping by to say hi, Donna! I'm glad to see that you are enjoying the Maisie Dobbs series! I'm all caught up with the series and looking forward to the next in the series, In This Grave Hour.
Hi Donna! Back to your comments in >83 Donna828: about Evicted--I just had the pleasure of hearing Desmond speak here and, of course, I got a copy of the book. Hope to get to it soonish!! And, like you, I am enjoying our continued Hillerman reads. I think I like the Longmire series better, but Chee and Leaphorn are still good guys to hang with. ; )
I thought of you last week, Donna, when I caught the tail end of a snippet on the news about the Clydesdales at the Warm Springs Ranch in Missouri, when they mentioned the mare Hayley and her daughter, Hope. I thought, "did I hear that right"? Well, of course, I can't find the Clydesdales names anywhere online, so I'm not sure. What I did find was: "Since 2008, Warm Springs Ranch has been Anheuser-Busch’s breeding farm, home to Clydesdales from mares to stallions. This season is the sixth that tours have been offered."
>140 countrylife: I love to hear little things like that.
I do that too, when I see/hear things that remind me of certain LTers :)
Good morning, Donna!
>128 Donna828: I have Hoopla as well. Thanks for the heads up on the audio for Seven for a Secret. I also appreciate your compliment on my GoG review. I enjoy turn of the century suspense novels. Another good one, though with some of the same subject matter, is The Alienist by Caleb Carr.
>137 vancouverdeb: Deborah, I am trying to space out the Maisie Dobbs series so I always have one to look forward to! I'm glad the author is a prolific one. Can't wait to meet her next month!
>138 Berly: I'm sure you will get even more out of Evicted after hearing the author speak. I also like the Longmire series better but I'm learning more from Hillerman. I think that Native American culture is fascinating. We still have a few more Leaphorn and Chee books to hand out with, Kim.
>139 Ameise1: Thanks, Barbara.
>140 countrylife: I may have to visit Warm Springs Ranch to meet Haley and Hope's namesakes! Thanks for that bit of family trivia, Cindy. I love the Clydesdales and would love to see them up close.
>141 LovingLit: Ditto, Megan.
>142 brodiew2: The Caleb Carr is another book that has been on my TBR way too long, Brodie. Glad I could help out with the Hoopla advice. I wish I could help them pick out the books for the site. They definitely need more literary fiction. That's how I listened to The Count of Monte Cristo. I had to renew my book three times!
Book No. 20: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd. Library copy, 369 pp. 4 stars.
"I picked my way along the Persian rug that ran the near-length of the main passage, turned the knob to Father's library, and stepped inside. An ornately framed portrait of George Washington was lit with a scrim of moonlight coming through the front window. For almost a year, Father had looked the other way as I'd slipped beneath Mr. Washington's nose to plunder the library." (18)
Sarah Grimke is a precocious young southern Belle when she is given her own slave for her eleventh birthday and promptly refuses to own another human being. Hetty (known as Handful) was forced upon her anyway. I admired Sarah's stance and wish I had know while reading the book that the author had written about a real person who became involved in the abolitiionist movement and was also an early feminist along with her much younger sister Nina. Hetty was a purely fictional character whom Ms. Kidd portrays vividly as a symbol of slavery. She also did a good job of melding their parallel stories over the decades showing how they worked hard to improve their circumstances.
Both girls desired better lives for themselves. Sarah was imprisoned by her lack of the education she longed for while Hetty was imprisoned in body only. She benefitted from the stories her mother Charlotte told her about black people flying in Africa and the hope she instilled in her daughter about being free some day. I loved their relationship and the way Charlotte told the story of her life through the quilt she worked on under the tree that the two of them had adopted as their "spirit" tree.
This was a bittersweet story which could have easily drifted into the sentimental trap that Kidd fell into with The Secret Life of Bees. I liked that her characters seemed real as they faced their adversities. I also enjoyed learning more about the Quakers and their role in the abolitionest movement.
Hi Donna, I was on the same fence too. I guess there were a few us on that fence! But like you, I really enjoyed the Quaker parts of the story.
Excellent review, Donna. This is why I did not go on to read any more of Kidd's work: This was a bittersweet story which could have easily drifted into the sentimental trap that Kidd fell into with The Secret Life of Bees. Perhaps I need to give her another chance.
>144 Donna828: Great review, Donna. I've put it on my library list. They have a copy of it.
Hi, Donna! Not long now! Looking forward to seeing you - in less than two weeks!
Chiming in on Anne Hillerman's continuation of her father's series. I read both her books; the first was great, the second not so. Sort of like her dad's track record (for me, anyway). One is so good, the next so-so, the next good, the next, only okay. Even so, it's a wonderful series!
I use Hoopla too, though I find it doesn't have a lot of the books I'm interested in, or it has the first and second book in a series and nothing else, or, worse, the last few books in a series but nothing before that. I have found some good reads there, though, and, combined with OneClickDigital and Overdrive, I can get pretty much anything I want.
If you haven't read The Alienist yet, I highly recommend it.
See you soon!
I am adding far too many books to the BlackHole from your thread, Donna. Shame on you! :)
>148 mdoris: Hi Mary, our fence was getting crowded. It's a good thing we both decided to read the book. Now Jenn has the fence to herself until she decides to read The Invention of Wings.
>149 lit_chick: Nancy, I was also disappointed in The Mermaid Chair. I bought the hardcover edition for the pretty cover. That ought to teach me a lesson!
>150 Ameise1: Barbara, you are in for some good reading. Thanks for not giving up on me. I've been so bad about getting around the threads.
>151 Storeetllr: Mary, I'm looking forward to our visit this week end. I have had The Alienist in my hands so many times. One of these days I'll begin reading it! I agree about Hoopla but surprisingly have found a fair number of books to "favorite" so I always can find something that appeals. I wish they had more of the recent books, though.
>152 alcottacre: Stasia, I'm not a bit ashamed because of all the recommendations I've gotten from you over the years. I expect to get more now that you can read for pleasure again.
>153 BLBera: Thank you, Beth. I bet you had fun in Portland. Everyone had big smiles in the meetup pictures.
>154 bell7: I was sailing along on Out of Africa, Mary, until some library books became available. I look forward to getting back to Africa! Thanks for stopping by.
Book No. 21: World Made By Hand by James Howard Kunstler; audio by Jim Meskimen. 340 pp., Hoopla. 3.2 stars.
I really wanted to love this post-apocalyptic book set in the near future after the world ran out of oil. Things went downhill quickly and small towns fared better than the large cities. In Union Grove, New York, life is hard but people are managing by using their ingenuity and staying together as a community. There is a lot of sadness in the book because so many had died during the Mexican Flu that ravaged the country. Robert is living alone but has plenty of women who are interested in him for various reasons. I found the relationship with his best friend's wife very disturbing. Also disturbing are the newcomers in town who have taken over the high school. Brother Jobe is the leader of the sect building a so-called "New Jerusalem". I never could figure out their intentions. Maybe that was the hook to read Book #2.
While I enjoyed parts of the book and thought about continuing with the series, I've decided to let it go mainly because Robert and some of the citizens we just too "goody two-shoes" and the rebel faction they encountered in Albany when they were searching for some of their lost men were over the top in their evil ways. Perhaps it gets better as series tend to do, but it is going to have to get along without me.
Book No. 22: War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans. 290 pp., Library book. 4.76 stars.
"For more than thirty years I kept, and never opened, the notebooks in which he had set down his memories in his matchless prewar handwriting; he had given them to me a few months before his death in 1981, at the age of ninety. He was born in 1891. It was as if his life were no more than two digits playing leapfrog. Between those two dates lay two world wars, catastrophic genocides, the most ruthless century in all human history…" (9) …this is an amazing quote that goes on for another half page...
It is difficult to describe this book. Classified as fiction, it reads more like a memoir. The author is the grandson of Urbain Martien, a gifted painter, unsung Flemish war hero in WWI, and author of the three dense notebooks which form the basis of this family saga. Urbain grew up in a different world in Ghent, Belgium, on the cusp of the twentieth century. His life was one of poverty, dependent on soup kitchens and work in an iron foundry at age 13 to help keep the family going. Before he started working, he spent time with his father the "church painter" as he restored the magnificent frescoes that fade with time. No wonder he developed such a passion for art which unfortunately was cut short after he was conscripted into the Belgium army to deflect Germany's march toward France.
The tone of the book changes abruptly in Part II from background information about the author and his grandfather to Private Martien's war diary. Wow. This part was spellbinding and difficult to read because of the graphic nature of a war that was like "the wrath of God without God". (190) Urbain had lived with his memories so long they were as clear as the "blue sky with tall white clouds drifting like a dream" over the country he was trying to protect. The troops went from boredom to bloody assault in the blink of an eye…over and over. The poor food (when they had any) and lack of hygiene wore on the troops as did the way they were treated by the French-speaking officers who carefuly maintained the social heirarchy. Life was hell, but somehow Sergeant Martien (about as high-ranking as a Flemish soldier could go) survived three severe injuries and was able to return to the two loves of his life, art and a beautiful girl.
This book has totally earned its place on the New York Times' Ten Best Books of 2016 and recent nomination for the Booker International Prize. It is my first (rounded-up) 5-star book of the year and deserves a close look by discerning readers. I particularly recommend it to lovers of art and historical fiction.
I spent much of the afternoon finishing the wonderful book ^ and now I have to get ready for tomorrow's trip. I'm flying to Denver for a quick visit with Hope and family and will have a meetup with some lovely people: Joanne, Anne, Mary, and Kris. I hope all goes well with my other meetup in the Denver airport as I'm meeting my husband who will be flying in from California. If I had known about the CA meeting, I would have left a few days earlier in order to have more time with 3-year-old Hope. In DH's defense, this was a last-minute deal. That's how we roll around here in retirement! *Pffft*
>158 Donna828: Wonderful review Donna and on to the list it goes.
Wish I was planning a grandchild visit to Denver and could enjoy the meet-up too!
>160 mdoris: Thanks, Mary. By the way, I will be going back to Denver in June for a longer visit with Hope. It would be great if you could work in a visit, too. I don't have my dates yet. I'm flexible as far as driving goes, but I'm working around my son's schedule this time.
A fine, and very tempting, review of War and Turpentine, Donna. Sounds excellent.
>161 Donna828: What a great temptation Donna but June is a busy family month for us. Daughter #4 (who lives in Denver) will be getting married mid June in Victoria, B.C. to her Denver fellow. Yes, I have my mob dress. It's navy lace and I should stay away from the sweets so I can fit into it in a few months! Bought it in Denver while shopping with my girls in January. Happy memory! I think a wonderful meet up will happen eventually for us! Hope so.
Morning, Donna! You got me with War and Turpentine - adding that one to the list and thumbing your review if you posted it. I love that quote.
Wishing you safe travels.
Flight delay....thank goodness for airport wifi.
>162 lit_chick: Nancy, It is an excellent book. Don't be put off by the slow start.
>163 mdoris: How exciting, Mary! There will be other opportunities for us to meet.
>164 Crazymamie: Thanks, Mamie. I just posted my review. I meant to do that at home on the laptop. It is more challenging working on an iPad. I usually don't post reviews but in this case I needed to overrule some negative comments. It's not an easy read but is well worth the extra concentration.
>165 Carmenere: So glad I could dazzle you, Lynda! I will be sure to take a look at Fever Dream.
>Donna828 It would be welcome if the "viable solutions" would include direct help for the kids and teens who want desperately to break out of the cycle of poverty, but live with parents who have either given up or choose to remain addicted.
>134 PaulCranswick: Paul Cranswick - HILLERMAN COUNTRY, a photo/word book, might give enough of a background to inspire checking out more of Tony, as well as his daughter.
War & Turpentine sounds great, Donna. I've added it to my list. Off to check to see if my library has a copy. Safe travels. It sounds like you have a wonderful time ahead.
War & Turpentine was already on my list, Donna, as it won an important Dutch prize. Your review makes me want to read it soon.
What a fun meetup, Donna! It was great to see you again - it's been awhile. Thanks so much for flying out for the meetup. :) And thanks for posting the pic on FB. Enjoy the rest of your stay!
>158 Donna828: Adding that one to the BlackHole!
The LT meetup in Denver looked like fun! I know you all had a great time together.
>158 Donna828: Great review, Donna. Turpentine is not the first thing that springs to mind when I think of war but it looks like the author made something of it.
Have a lovely weekend.
Here we are after a lovely lunch at Sahara. From left to right: Mary (Storeetllr), Anne (AMQS), Joanne (coppers), Me, Kris (Augustau).
There was no nearby bookstore which allowed us more time to chat about books, travel, food, family and pets, and life in general. We got to see a video of Mary's new home in Pueblo which is only two hours away.
I'm eager to spend as much time with Hope and family as I can today so will respond to messages this evening. I will try to get Hope to slow down enough for a picture!
Great photo of the Denver meet-up! Thanks for sharing!
I am glad you liked Evicted which was one of my favorite reads in 2016. I also appreciate the stories appearing on your thread about various efforts to help homeless folks. Seattle has a huge homeless population and efforts to help, to provide shelter, and to manage without appearing to harass or discriminate.... it's very complicated. We have several tent cities and they can be dangerous for the inhabitants. UW hosted "Tent City III" during winter quarter and some folks tried to find ways to interact with the people living in TC3: UWPD provided a pancake breakfast, others organized sock drives and other efforts to provide goods and services. As you say, it's a drop in the bucket and honestly it's a larger societal issue. I am grateful for my warm dry home with my comfortable bed.
I love the meetup photo - thanks for sharing!
War and Turpentine sounds wonderful. I know that our tastes are similar enough that if you give a book five stars, I need to take notice.
Hi Donna. I have finally found the time to visit some threads. Love your review of Nobody's Fool. As you mentioned, "Nobody does the down-and-out in small town America like Richard Russo."
Looks like you had a wonderful trip to Florida and happy to see your surgery went well with good recovery.
>98 Donna828: - I have to say, I really like the snow shot. Very pretty.
>115 Donna828: - Yay, you liked The Gods of Gotham! Isn't Faye a wonderful writer? ;-)
Saw your mention to Mary about The Alienist. Just adding my plug for that book. Really good story!
>175 Donna828: - What a fabulous looking group of readers! :-)
Lovely meet up photo! I particularly like it when people identify usernames and first names, so thank you for that, too.
>126 karenmarie: My neighbor liked Gods of Gotham. I don't think she loved it, but she did like it. I'll get to it eventually. I just finished the 6th in the Poldark series and ordered the next 3. There are 12 total and if you like historical fiction, you just may like this series. But you're right. So many books...
>157 Donna828: I saw your review of World Made by Hand and it made me think you might like Station Eleven. I zoomed over to your library and saw that you had given it 4 stars. So much for that recommendation! I really liked it too.
>177 ursula: Hi there, Ursula, and thanks!
>178 mdoris: Thank you, Mary. I hope you will be in a future meetup photo.
>179 drneutron: Me too, Jim. I would love to meet you sometime. Thanks for all that you do for us.
>180 BLBera: They're the best, aren't they, Beth? Iowa City in October maybe?
>181 EBT1002: Ellen, our efforts may not be far-reaching but they do mean something to the people who benefit from knowing that others care. Poverty is a very complicated issue but one that we can't ignore. And, yes, I am very grateful for my comfortable home.
>182 Ameise1: I am happy to share, Barbara.
>183 streamsong: I don't think you will be disappointed in War and Turpentine, Janet. I'm very glad I read it.
>184 lit_chick: You are most welcome, Nancy.
>185 jnwelch: Hi, Joe. It was a wonderful (and bittersweet) meetup. Mary might be persuaded to make the drive up from Pueblo to Denver if we promise to eat at Sahara again. It gets my vote!
>186 lkernagh: Hi Lori, thanks for taking the time to catch up with me. I'm ready to read more Russo and Lyndsay Faye books. Yes, it looks like I need to look for my husband's copy of The Alienist. I don't know why I haven't read it by now...
>187 msf59: Were your ears burning on Saturday, Mark? Your name came up in a bird conversation. As you know, Mary owns two tropical birds, but you might not be aware that Kris has traveled the world on birding excursions! Her most recent trip was to India. Glad you enjoyed the picture of our lovely bunch!
>188 karenmarie: I also appreciate when people post the usernames, Karen. Thank you for thinking of me in conjunction with Station Eleven. It was such a creative way to envision the future. I'll give Poldark a look one of these days. I didn't realize there were so many in the series.
>189 ronincats: Thanks, Roni. Enjoy the Hope photos!
Book No. 23: The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain; audio by Derek Perkins. Hoopla, 251 pp., 3.7 stars.
"At the age of five, Gustav Perle was certain of only one thing: he loved his mother."
Thus begins the story of Gustav who lives happily with his mother in a small town in Switzerland. I'm not certain why he is so enamored with dear old mom, who was irritable and cold toward him much of the time. When Gustav started Kindergarten and made a friend, Anton, who happened to be Jewish and had a loving and generous family, G's mother's anti-Semitism comes out yet the boys' friendship prevails. I loved the part where they went to Davos in the Alps and cemented their relationship.
I wanted to love this book but can only say that I liked it very much. It had similar themes to my last book and I couldn't help comparing the two of them. Also, in comparison to Tremain's other books, this one felt like the story fell flat after a promising beginning. The three parts move from the 1930s into the 1990s which is a lot of ground to cover. Perhaps I just got tired of all the mixed emotions and bleakness of the complicated story of friendship with all its ramifications.
Love the Hope photos, Donna! She is a sweetie, and a Grandpa's girl : ).
Great review of The Gustav Sonata. I had this one on request from the library, but when it came in, I didn't have time to read it. Perhaps I'll get to it later. I love Tremain, and expect fabulousness when I pick up her work ... not sure this one will deliver.
>195 lit_chick: I agree, Nancy, Hope is a sweetie. I'm wondering if I would have gotten more out of The Gustav Sonata as a print book. I think it's one of those books that require close reading and I mostly listened at night when I was tired. Even so, it came close to being fabulous.
>196 ronincats: So true, Roni. It happens too quickly!
Oh dear, I see that I missed a group of visitors up there. I will catch up tomorrow...
>167 m.belljackson:, >168 m.belljackson: Hello, M, and welcome to my thread. I agree that we need to help the children of poverty in order to break the cycle. That is hard to do when all they see is unmotivated and/or addicted parents. It would be easier for the schools to take on this task if the kiddos would stay in the same school but that is not the usual scenario.
I think I need to check out the Hillerman Country book. Maybe that will be my reward when I finish the series by Tony. I'm still not sure I will continue with the daughter's books. It probably depends on what our little group decides to do.
>169 BLBera: I did have a great time in Denver, Beth. It was too short but my summer trip will be at least a week and I will be staying at Hope's house. Enjoy War and Turpentine!
>170 FAMeulstee: Hi, Anita. I seem to recall that War and Turpentine was released in Europe several years ago. It was just last year that the translation was released in the U.S. I sure enjoyed it and hope you do, too.
>171 Storeetllr: Mary, your choice of Sahara was a good one. I really liked that the restaurant was on the quiet side so we could talk. It was also nice that they weren't busy for lunch and we could stay as long as we did. Your new house looks like it will be a comfortable home for you, Nickel, and Rosie. Good luck with your packing and the move!
>172 alcottacre: Stasia, I hope you like W&T. It's good that The Black Hole can expand to hold all the books you keep adding to it. Aren't meetups the best? I always look forward to seeing you and the gang in Joplin after Thanksgiving.
>173 PaulCranswick: Paul, I appreciate your sense of playfulness with words. Of course, you probably realize that the Turpentine in the title refers to the side focus on art. As good as that aspect was, the war section had me on the edge of my seat!
>174 LovingLit: Megan, it is great when I have a meetup because of the attention it brings to my thread. We only got the one picture but it conveyed the joy of seeing old friends again.
>194 Donna828: pity the story didn't work well for you as the cover is very enticing!
Great Denver meet up Pic, Donna!
Oh! there are your two little sweeties, ok, three counting grandpa !
Have a wonderful Thursday!
Thanks for updated photos, Donna. Also appreciated your review of The Gustav Sonata. I haven't read anything by Tremain and sounds like I should start with a different one.
And now for my most recent visitors…
>199 LovingLit: Please go by the cover and not my negativity, Megan. I actually like the memory of listening to the book more than I liked the experience. I think the story needs to settle in and grow in my mind…if that makes any sense at all.
>200 Carmenere: Yes, Grandpa counts as a Sweetie, Lynda. Hope is sure enamored with him.
>201 karenmarie: Karen, I'm a big fan of pictures on our threads. It helps us get to know our LT friends in a different way than just reading the book comments…which are also pretty great!
>202 RebaRelishesReading: Hi Reba. All of the five Rose Tremain novels I've read have been solid reads. My favorite one is The Road Home which won the Orange Prize in 2008. You might give that one a try to see if she is a fit for you.
It is good to be caught up. I am sorry if I've missed anyone as I do love having visitors and want them to keep coming back. I got some good news from LT yesterday. I won an Early Reviewer copy of The Women in the Castle. It's the first book I've requested in quite awhile as I've gotten lazy about writing reviews. I've heard good things about this one and can't wait until it arrives in my mailbox.
Also, I got my Tenner Badge as I've been a member of LibraryThing for ten years now. It's been a wonderful experience for me and I look forward to the next ten years. I ordered the book Wanderlust to celebrate and will save my "credits" for the spring book sale coming up later in April.
Congrats on the Early Review win and the 10-year Badge! Cute pics of Hope! She is growing up so fast!
I'll drive up for a meetup even if we DON'T meet at Sahara, but I'm so glad you liked the restaurant! It is one of my favorites!
Hi Donna! Love your review of War and Turpentine and adding it to the WL. Thanks for posting the meet-up photo!! Yay!! A very happy looking group. Okay, and the photos of Grandpa and Hope, are cute too. ; ) Congrats on your LT Tenner Badge and on the new ER book. Phew! I am caught up. Well, at least here I am. LOL
>204 Donna828: : Cool Ten-er badge! I didn't know such a thing existed. Looks like I'm a month behind you to get mine.
Happy Thingaversary, Donna! 10 grand years, eh? Pretty impressive. My ninth is coming up in June.
For those of you who admired my badge, I must admit I downloaded a fancy one from Google Images. The official one is tiny and hidden in my stats. Seems I can only share it with Facebook and Twitter. I'm keeping the one I awarded to myself. Lol.
>205 thornton37814: You know what I'm talking about, Lori. I think ten years deserves more than a small generic badge. Congratulations to you, too!
>206 Ameise1: Thanks, Barbara. I'm glad you like my "counterfeit" badge!
>207 Storeetllr: Mary, it sounds like we might be having a meetup with my namesake in Pueblo. I'm glad someone on LT is going to be living fairly close to you. Donna and I have talked about meeting in Colorado Springs sometime, but I am perfectly happy to press on to Pueblo. Hope sure is growing up...way too fast!
>208 Berly: Hi Kim, I'm glad you got caught up with me. Now I am behind on your thread. Being behind on threads is a condition I'm getting used to. We are a bunch of jabberwockies!
>209 BLBera: Thanks, Beth. It has been a wonderful book-filled decade.
>210 countrylife: Cindy, you've been alerted to the size of the official badge. But it's the thought that counts, right? I would have put the one Tim sent on my thread but I couldn't figure out how to do it. The Google site has some cool substitutes, though. I almost went with fireworks!
>211 Copperskye: Thank you, Joanne. Those ten years just flew by!
>212 alcottacre: Thanks, Stasia! You've already earned yours I'm sure. I am so glad to see you popping up around the group again!
>213 msf59: It has been a grand run, Mark. I didn't chat at all my first year here. I still remember how excited I was when you wanted to be my friend. Thanks for all the good book recommendations over the years.
>214 Donna828: My first meetup coming this summer. Oh boy, oh boy! (Oh girl, oh girl just doesn't sound the same).
Congrats on the 10 year anniversary, Donna. As usual I love all the pictures you post.
I'll reach that benchmark in October, Donna. I'll watch out for my tiny medal then. ;-)
This has been a busy week as I'm trying to fit in yard work when the weather permits along with the usual chores, spending time with the grands, playing bridge, and reading. I think I'll start a new thread this week end so I'll save my comments on the two books I've finished since I was here a week ago. I can't believe I stayed away so long.
Thanks to all the lovely people who have been keeping my thread warm. I appreciate all the good wishes on my Ten Years on LT from: Donna, Jim, Brenda, Roni, Terri, and Joe. Tomorrow is soccer day with Haley and Molly. Last Saturday was a hoot. I'll try and get a good picture of the girls to start off my new thread. Catch ya later!
Hi Donna! Congrats on your ten-year badge. I will get mine in October, so have something to look forward to!
Sounds like things are going well for you. Have fun at soccer.
I am impressed Donna (and Lori) - well done on ten years on this wonderful site.
Have a splendid weekend. xx
Happy 10th anniversary, Donna! Just a couple more years for me and I get the bling too :0)
I think I'll begin War and Turpentine this weekend.
Enjoy your weekend!
All caught up with you, Donna! I loved the photos of the meet-up and of Hope - so full of fabulous! And congratulations on your ten year Thingaversary - very exciting. Thanks for posting the review - I added my thumb.
Hoping that your weekend is a good one.
Hi Donna! It was so great to see you last month -- I love the photo of us:)
Hope you're having a terrific weekend.
>223 karenmarie: Thanks, Karen. I'm surprised it took us this long to become friends! Soccer was a blast. Those little kids are so cute.
>224 PaulCranswick: Yes, ten years is a long time, Paul. I thought for sure I would be burned out by now but I love LT more than ever as the years pass.
>225 Carmenere: Yay! Lynda, I hope you enjoy War and Turpentine, one that deserves awards for sure.
>226 Crazymamie: Lots of time in the yard this weekend, Mamie. It was windy but the temps were warm. I love thise time of year when things green up. I haven't planted many flowers yet because I know how hard it is to get out there and water in the hot and humid summer temps.
>227 AMQS: Our wait did a good job, didn't he, Anne? It was so great seeing everyone. The last few meetups have been hit and miss. It's tough to get a busy bunch of people together. I'm glad the stars aligned last month for us!
>228 LovingLit: Megan, I just happen to have Wanderlust at my elbow as I type. The other book is called A Field Guide to Getting Lost. I absolutely love that title and may be reading it with you…as soon as I get to Wanderlust. Solnit has written 17 books! Those pesky library books have to be returned so they get read first. Ten years goes by quickly when one is having fun!
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