Category Archives: books

What I’m reading

I haven’t updated my book goal on the year for a while. I’m getting through some books! I am on schedule to hit 30 this year (my goal).

When I last left off, I was just getting into To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

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Is there anyone who hasn’t read this? I actually hadn’t. Not sure why it wasn’t on a required reading list. Anyway, for those that haven’t, this is the story of young Scout and her older brother Jem and basically how they learn about the harsh realities of the world after a a black man is put on trial (wrongly) for sexually assaulting a white woman. Their father is the defendant’s attorney and it divides a town. It was made into a movie starring Gregory Peck, and while I have seen snippets of that on TCM from time to time, I have never seen the whole thing. I need to do that.


After that book and the previous couple of books, I needed something that wasn’t so depressing.  Enter The Anatomist’s Apprentice by Tessa Harris.

apprentice

Okay, that doesn’t sound so uplifting and it was a bit grisly at times. This is the first in a series of detective novels. The apprentice is American Dr. Thomas Silkstone, who really is not much of an apprentice as the next great anatomist in 18th century England. In this book, he gets involved trying to solve the murder of Lady Lydia Farrell’s brother, which is blamed on her husband. Is he or isn’t he the real killer? Dr. Silkstone is a pioneer in forensics and uses what he knows of anatomy and the study of death to try to solve the murder, along with falling for Lady Lydia. This was a good book, breezy reading and I will probably read some of the other books in the series.


Then I decided to read something everyone else has read. Outlander by Dianna Gabaldon.

outland

This is the story of Claire Randall, a nurse from 1954 who accidentally finds a portal in Scotland that whisks her back in time 200 years. There she meets Jamie and they fall in love and traipse through Scotland going through battles and the like. The premise sounded really interesting and it was at first.  However, I will just say that I didn’t like this book. It was tooooo long and the constant English/Scottish skirmishes were getting boring. Then don’t get me started on the love story. It was fine at first, but when it went down the road of spousal abuse and the heroine being okay with that – game over. I don’t care if people defend it as ‘that’s how it was back then’ – I feel like Claire really wouldn’t be okay with it. She is a fairly strong character and it just didn’t make sense.  Anyway, I slogged my way through the book and I will not be reading any of the others in the series.   Sorry to those that loved this — I don’t get it.


The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett

bookman

In the same vein as The Club Dumas (only without the devil), this is an antiquarian book mystery. It’s the story of Peter Byerly, a new widower, who finds  a watercolor drawing of a Victorian woman who is the spitting image of his dead wife while perusing old books. He then goes on a search to find out more about the artist and gets mixed up in an old family feud about the origins of a newly discovered Shakespeare work after being hired to confirm its authenticity.  The story of current day is intertwined with the story of how he met and married Amanda – then how these stories intersect.  It was a good book, although a bit simplistic in the characters at times. It certainly was a fast read and you can tell the author has a love of old books.


Just finished was The Templeton Monsters by Lauren Groff.

templton

This is the story of Willie, the descendent of the founders of the town of Templeton (pretty much Cooperstown, NY renamed). She comes home pregnant and disgraced after an affair with her archeology professor. At the same time, the monster of Lake Glimmerglass dies and comes floating to the surface confirming rumors. Willie is informed by her mother that her father (previously unknown to her) was actually a man in Templeton, but won’t say who. Willie uses her research skills to dig through her family history to find any ties as to who her father is, all the while trying to come to terms with her friend’s illness, her pregnancy, and reconnecting with high school friends.  The story wanders into a strange area of ghosts and paranormal activity, which I didn’t really like. The monster was fine and an interesting side story, but the ghost stuff? I don’t believe in ghosts and the one in this story was a little too deus ex machina. I also didn’t care for Willie that much. It’s hard to read if you don’t like the main character when I think we are supposed to.  She was spoiled and had rage issues. The other thing was that the main plot was Willie discovering who her father was and by the end of the book, I didn’t even care. I do like how the author created little charts and put in doctored photos to make it seem like a real historical novel.  I sort of waffle between liking the book or not, but it would be worth a summer read.

Now to find the next book!

What I’m Reading

It’s been a little slower on the reading front. Getting all that painting done and and such. I’ve been really tired at night for reading, but I did manage to finish a few:


 

An Absent Mind by Eric Rill

mind

This is a short book. It is a story of a family going through the patriarch having Alzheimer’s disease from diagnosis until the end. It is told from 5 points of view in various chapters: Saul, the father with Alzheimer’s, his wife Monique, daughter Francine, son Joey and Saul’s doctor.  Each person tells their version of what happens and what really stuck out to me is how the other family members would perceive something that was not what the other person felt at all. There was not much communication between them until it was too late.  The author was drawing on personal experience of one of his parents having Alzheimer’s and it’s really a look into how a family tries to function in the face of a terrible disease. 


 

The Dead Letter by Seeley Regester

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This was an interesting little book. I picked it up because it was the first mystery novel written by an American author in the Victorian Era.  It involves a murder – and what mystery doesn’t??  The story was fairly straight forward in knowing really near the beginning who did it, but the mystery comes in how to prove it.  Now this book was written around 1870, so there were no phones or fingerprint technology or television or any fast way of getting information from person to person. Crimes must have been so hard to solve back then!  The story centers around Richard Redfield, a young man who was an apprentice with a lawyer. The lawyer’s daughter was engaged to be married and her fiance was murdered one night for unknown reasons. Suspicion starts to fall on Richard and he works with a famous detective to try to prove who the real killer was. 


 

A Farewell To Arms by Ernest Hemingway

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A classic. There are so many classic books that I never read in high school or college, so I try to fit those in my reading lists each month. I got on the Hemingway trail from reading The Paris Wife, reviewed here. That made me want to read The Sun Also Rises, which I reviewed here. Then I decided to read his pinnacle novel, A Farewell To Arms. It’s very autobiographical (as was TSAR). Hemingway served as an ambulance driver in WWI and was injured. Same goes for the main character, Frederick. He is an American who joins the Italian army for reasons which are never really made clear. He meets a nurse named Catherine and they fall in love during his convalescence.  Then they try to figure out how to create a life away from the war, which means Frederick must desert the army. The story is anti-war in a lot of ways, although I don’t think that was the main intent of the novel. The book certainly does a good job of describing what war was like in the trenches and describing the Italian countryside. That was what I liked about the book. I have to say, like with Sun, I didn’t care for the characters themselves. Frederick was selfish and Catherine was weak, clingy and emotionally unstable. It’s funny, I found the female characters in both of Hemingway’s novels to have the same qualities to them. Maybe this is why he was married multiple times in real life? I get the feeling he didn’t really understand women all that well. I know that Farewell to Arms is supposed to be his greatest novel, but I actually liked The Sun Also Rises better.  I think the next one of his I will venture to will be The Old Man and the Sea.


 

Anyway, these books were actually a little depressing to read all in a row!  Currently in my reader is To Kill A Mockingbird. 

What I’m Reading

Book update! I have a goal of 30 books this year. These are the ones I’ve completed so far.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

paris

The premise of this book is unique. Jean Perdu is a bookseller who owns a floating bookstore in Paris. It is called the Literary Apothecary and he ‘treats’ his customers with prescriptions of books based on their troubles.  He has spent 20 years doing this, hiding from his own grief over a lost lost and finding an unread letter by her when she left him. This letter sends him on sort of a reawakening of his feelings by sailing his book barge down the Seine and meeting many different people on the way to answer the letter.  There are a lot of great quoteable moments in the book. I loved how the book started, but I did start to skim a little about 3/4 of the way through because it started to seem repetitive, but the book was satisfying in the end. It was really about the complex relationships between people and learning to let yourself feel emotions.


 

The Garden of Evening Mists – Tan Twan Eng

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The basis of this book is about gardening, so of course you know I was all over that.  The story takes place in 1949 Malaya. The main character, Yun Ling, is a retired judge who was held in a Japanese prisoner camp  as a young girl along with her sister. She was the only survivor from the camp and wanted to build a garden in her sister’s honor. She became the apprentice of a Japanese master gardener, Arimoto. Fast forward to 1949 after her judge career prosecuting Japanese war criminals and she has returned to the master’s gardens after learning she is ill. Then she writes her memories down and we learn what happened in the camp and how she survived and what secrets it held. This was definitely a good book. Yun Lin is full of anger and a lot of the book is her coming to terms with this.  This was a good book. Hard to read at times, but the writing was really beautiful. I loved the imagery the author created.


 

The Club Dumas – Arturo Perez-Revert

dumas

When I started reading this book, I didn’t realize that it was the basis for the movie The Ninth Gate with Johnny Depp, which we had seen. The interesting thing is that the movie focused on the smaller story in the book. The book was much more interesting than the movie.  If you love old books and book history, this has all of that. Lucas Corso is sort of a mercenary who deals in antique books and authenticating them. He is drawn into finding and matching copies of an ancient book and its possible connection with an unknown manuscript by Alexandre Dumas, while at the same time scenes play out that mirror The Three Musketeers with a lot of intrigue and all that. It’s quite the mystery with a lot of red herrings in there and the ending is somewhat different than the movie, and I’ll just leave that there.

 


 

Circling the Sun by Paula McClain

circling

I was waiting and waiting for this book to become available at the library. It’s the second book by McClain, the first being The Paris Wife, which I enjoyed very much. This time she writes about the early life of Beryl Markham. Beryl was a woman way ahead of her time. She was English born, but raised by her father in Africa and spent most of her life there. She became the first woman to hold a training license for race horses and the first woman pilot to cross the Atlantic. The book covers the time from her early childhood through the 1930s or so. It was a very engaging book, although I think the problem lies in that Beryl herself wrote her own autobiography called West with the Night, which is highly praised as fantastic writing (and on my wait list). So, this book is a fictionalized telling of the same story, but with more focus on the relationship she had with Denis Hatton.  In my mind, Beryl didn’t seem the sort to be mooning over a man. She was much more forward and independent. Her life was marked with a lot of scandal because she did what she wanted. I admire a really strong woman who will buck convention. This was a good read, especially if you don’t know anything about Beryl Markham.

 

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What I’m reading

Here are a few other books that I finished recently. I was reading a little more a couple months ago, but I’ve just been so tired at night lately that I haven’t wanted to read as per usual. I’ve just wanted to shut my mind off. I know everyone else gets like that on occasion.  The good thing about borrowing books from the library on my Kindle is that they are due in 2 weeks rather than the 4 if I had a hard copy of the book. That pushes me to read them a little faster.

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The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

After I read the book The Paris Wife, it made me want to read the actual book that Hemingway wrote during this time period. It’s funny how the characters in the semi-biographical book morphed into the actual writings. Anyway, the book itself. I can see why people like Hemingway’s style of writing. Sentences are crisp and not overdone. They get to the point and it reads quite fast. I had a little trouble when there was a lot of dialogue because Hemingway didn’t use any Joe said or Frank said or whatever to distinguish who is talking. So, at times I had trouble figuring out which character was speaking.

As for the story itself, it follows a group what would seem to be 20 somethings in Paris in the 1920s (there’s that decade again!!). It is post WWI and all of the characters were affected at some point by the war. The story is told through the eyes of Jake and follows him and his friends through a ton of drinking and trying to find happiness in their lives, all culminating with a group trip to Pamplona to watch bull fighting (which Hemingway loved in real life). It seems the big themes of the novel were wanting what you couldn’t have, loneliness and drinking. Lots of drinking. I actually didn’t like any of the characters except for Jake. The others were pretty unlikable. I am interested in some other of Hemingway’s books.Probably this winter I will read another one.


 

 

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The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

I think this was made into a movie, right? Nothing like being late to the party on popular stuff. Anyway, I had no idea of what this book was about. It’s the story of 14-year old Lily and her housekeeper/surrogate mother Rosaleen. Lily’s mother was killed when she was just 4 years old and Lily was raised by her abusive father in a racially charged town in South Carolina. After Rosaleen was jailed for getting in an argument with some white men, Lily broke her out and they ran away to a city that was on the back of one of her mother’s pictures. There they met a trio of bee keeping sisters and Lily learns a lot more than she bargained for about her family. The book has a strong mother theme and uses the bees to help symbolize family and what it takes to keep a hive going.  It was a good book and read really easily. I found the dialogue to be heavy handed and cliche at times, which took away from the story. I did like how the women were all strong characters, too, each in their own way.


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The Martian by Andy Weir

Yep, the popular movie! I had put myself on the wait list for this book months ago and it finally came about a month ago.  For those that haven’t read it or seen the movie, it’s the story of Mark Watney, who gets left behind on Mars when his crew members thought he was dead. It’s the story of his fight for survival and resourcefulness to live to be rescued.

I have to say, I really wanted to like this book more than I did given how hugely popular it is. It was engaging at first, but then I started to get bored with all of the technical details of how Watney jury rigged everything to make what he wanted and it always worked. It seemed every other chapter was “I’m going to try something super dangerous. It could be my last day” Well, at halfway through the book, I doubt that. :roll:  I also found his character to not have a ton of depth. There was very little emotion in his diary writings save for jokes and an occasional thought about his coworkers or parents. He was quite flip most of the time. He never seemed to really break down and talk about the people in his life or anything. I get why this book is popular. It read like a movie.

Does anyone else see the similarity in the covers between the Hemingway and Weir books? Interesting.

What are you reading?

What I’m Reading

I have finished a few books out of my Kindle that I thought I would share.  These were finished over the last couple of months with the exception of Ticker, which I finished a long time ago, but never did a review on.

pwife

The Paris Wife by Paula McClain

A lot had been written about Ernest Hemingway’s wives and Hadley Richardson is often referred to as the Paris Wife because the majority of their married life was spent in Paris in the 1920s.  I think that does disservice to Hadley. She obviously held a special place in Hemingway’s heart. His autobiography A Moveable Feast was sort of an homage to Hadley and their time together in Paris. Anyway, The Paris Wife is told in Hadley’s voice and was put together through letters and correspondence and interviews.  Of course, the ending is not a surprise, but I think that this really is an interesting look into Hadley’s mind of what it was like to be involved in the life of someone as volatile as Hemingway, particularly as it was on the cusp of his success. I definitely recommend this book.


handmaid

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

This book has an interesting format. It is told solely through the viewpoint of the handmaid Ofglen, so you can only discern what is happening by her reactions to what is going on around her.

It takes place in a dystopian society where a strict religious leadership takes over the United States (or at least part of it). The story is told from the point of view of a handmaid, who basically has one purpose in life, which is to provide a child to a prominent childless family in a time when nuclear and past chemical use had left a lot of sterility or the possibility of genetic defects. She is basically a prisoner and she describes what life is like for her and women in general under this regime. It seems like the time period would be about now or may in the early 2000s.  It actually makes you think about if it could be possible for something like this to happen and you realize that it really is not that far fetched.  Scary, in fact.

Note – if you read the ereader version, make sure you read to the end of the book. There was the usual blurb after you finish telling you to tweet/FB that you finished. Then *after* that was an epilogue to the book. So don’t miss that. 


 

ticker

Ticker by Lisa Mantchev

This was a bit of steampunk fluff, so if you like that, you may like this book. This seems like a YA book. Steampunk books are set in the victorian time period with machinery and gadgets inspired by steam powered engines. Really they are fantasy/science fiction and fun.  Anyway, Ticker is about Penny Farthing, who is a girl with a mechanical heart that was made for her by a scientist who started going crazy. Her heart is nearing the end of its useful life and Penny and her friends get involved in trying to locate the scientist and rescue her parents from a kidnapping.  It’s easy to read and while clunky in spots and heavy handed with dialogue, it’s a breezy read.


 

serena

Serena by Ron Rash.

I seem to have a thing for the 1920s lately in decor, books, and other things (Downton Abbey).  This book is set in 1929 in rural North Carolina. It is the story of a husband and wife team of ruthless timber barons.  It’s fiction, but there is a lot of historical detail in this book and the author does a great job with the atmosphere.  While both Serena and her husband George are both rather unlikeable in the way they are willing to dispose of workers and basically ruin the land, Serena is particularly cold-hearted, pretty much a sociopath, really.  She is willing to do whatever it takes and permanently remove anyone who stands in her way, including the woman who has George’s illegitimate son. The writing is very good and the book moves along at a good pace. In fact, I had some of that “5 more minutes” at bedtime which ended up being 45 minutes. 😀  It’s definitely a dark book, but worth reading. Apparently the movie made from it was terrible, so just read the book.

 

I find it interesting that my latest books involved strong female protagonists. Just coincidence, but interesting nonetheless.

Currently in my Kindle is Hemingway’s “The Sun Also Rises”.  Reading The Paris Wife made me want to check out his books.  It’s been easy to fall into so far and I do see why he is so revered as an author.

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Book Review: The Diet Fix

This review is long overdue. I actually was trying to get it done yesterday, but all the thinking I have to do when writing a review was hurting my head, so I switched over to the settee update (more fun, although messier) and figured I would talk about it today. Then I read a post by Debby referencing this very book!

Anyway – I found that amusing, which proves it doesn’t take much.  :roll: 

Here is the book.

yonifreed
The Diet Fix: Why Diets Fail and How to Make Yours Work (amazon affiliate link)

I have followed Dr. Yoni Freedhoff’s blog, Weighty Matters, for quite a while.  I have even quoted it on the blog a few times because he just makes a lot of sense.  So, when he came out with a book, I was quite intrigued to read it. In fact, I actually bought a copy instead of waiting for it to come to my local library.

I have to say that he should have named the book differently. It makes it sound like it is a diet book in the traditional sense, which it is not. However, I suppose a book entitled “The every day things you can do to lose weight slowly and sensibly and live happily” wouldn’t really sell, right?

The Diet Fix has 3 parts to it. The first part talks about the issues with diets and why they fail. He often states the term traumatic dieter for people who have dieted on and off for most of their lives (which is a lot of us).  He points out many of the reasons people are unable to succeed with certain types of diets or mindsets about diets and how we tend to turn these things into self degradation.

The second part is implementing a 10 step reset plan to help you succeed. He says 10 steps in 10 days, but really some steps you can take a long time to get down. Not a lot of information is new information to serial dieters, but it is presented in a cohesive way with some additions that make sense.  Seems like I keep saying this makes sense, doesn’t it? Guess that is the theme here.  Things like a food diary (but without judgement), planning meals and snacks with protein to head hunger off before it comes on, how to handle social situations, exercise, etc.

The last section of the book goes into more detail about nutrition and how to to change your mindset about food and exercise (and other people who might sabatoge you), medical conditions and medications that can affect your weight, and a bonus section of recipes from Dr. Freedhoff’s wife.

My biggest personal takeaways from this book were:

1. Incorporate a morning snack. This is something that I always felt I shouldn’t need since I eat a bigger breakfast and should be able to last until lunch. Well, that isn’t always the case and I could be ravenous a couple hours after breakfast. Instead of fighting that, I have decided to make my breakfast just a bit smaller and have a timed mid morning snack (about 150 calories) that includes protein.

2. I think more than anything else this book is about behavior. Not really so much what you are eating, although that is important. It’s setting yourself up for success with a series of tools no matter what eating plan you want to follow.

3.  The biggest and most important thing? Your best weight may not be what everyone else tells you it should be. Your best weight is whatever weight you reach while you are living the healthiest life you can actually enjoy. Suffering should not ever be a part of a diet.

So in a nutshell, I did like this book. I think it has a lot to offer, really especially if you have been a lifelong dieter and have the suffering mentality and beating yourself up. 

What I’m Reading!

Time for another book update.  I read 3 books in the last month. I have now reached my goal of 30 books for 2013.  I am not going to change the goal for more. I will just see where I end up at and use that for myself for 2014.

A note on how I choose my books. I don’t buy books very often. I just can’t afford to buy as many as I read! I don’t get to the actual library as much now, but I can browse the library online and check out Kindle books. I just see what books are available and if one sounds interesting, I check out the reviews on Goodreads.  That’s done me pretty well as far as avoiding most stinkers. For my free Kindle book a month (with Prime), I read the Amazon reviews, but they are not quite as unbiased because they sell the books and some of the reviews can be suspect. I will also check out any book on the Amazon list in Goodreads.

On to this month’s books!

darkmonk

The Dark Monk by Oliver Potzsch.

I had high hopes for this book. I really enjoyed the first book of the Hangman’s Daughter series.  I love historical fiction, but this book was lacking some things.  Like the first book, it involves the hangman, his daughter Magdalena and her boyfriend Simon, the son of the town physician, trying to solve a murder.  The problem is that you find out who the murderer is very close to the beginning and the rest of the book is just kind of figuring out the motive and learning about the Knights of Templar.  So, it was a little disappointing in that regard.  The characters also became a bit repetitive with the same dialogue and situations (i.e., the hangman is shunned in the community, yet everyone seeks him out privately).  I had read this was a problem with the 2nd book and the series picks up again better in the 3rd book, so we shall see. Borrowed the Kindle Lending Library.

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orange

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

 This book follows Piper Kerman’s 13 month prison sentence spent in 3 different facilities. She spent the majority of time in Danbury and it was interesting to read about how prison relationships, routines and rituals form. It also makes you wonder what purpose prison serves for nonviolent offenders, which is what most women are in for.

Ms. Kerman was very lucky in that she had an extensive support network on the outside and a good life ready to accept her back, which is not what most of her fellow inmates would experience. She also pointed out how guards and other prison official would make note of how different she was from other inmates and that she shouldn’t be there. She seemed to keep pointing this out and it started to come across as her being better than everyone else.

This book is good to read in order to understand exactly how nonviolent offenders are punished and how there really is no idea of rehabilitation, but just marking time to get out.  I think this book certainly opens a dialogue about prison reform and who really should be going there.  Borrowed from my library via Kindle.

There is now a cable show based on her book, which I found out after climbing out from under that rock.

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cblood

In Cold Blood – Truman Capote.

John had just finished this and told me I should read it, so I did.  One of the few time I actually did something he told me to. :mrgreen:  I don’t really know what to say about this book. It’s disturbing, depressing and just really good. Of course, you do go into the book knowing that it is about the murder of the Cutter family and the 2 persons responsible, but it is amazing how Capote is still able to build a lot of suspense and anticipation. This book really  was the first of the true crime genre and very well written. I didn’t really feel much sympathy for the 2 men, although I did feel kind of sorry for them in that I don’t feel they received a fair trial and you really realize how mentally ill they both were.  Highly recommended.  Borrowed from my library via Kindle.

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Seems like a dark month of reading now that I look back at it LOL!

And can’t leave without the pink picture of the day!  This is the new cover for my phone!

pink

The Breast Cancer Site

 

What I am reading!

More reading! I’ve been very busy and I wasn’t thinking I would get much read this last month.  But, something that helped my reading this month? Flying to Vegas! 😀  With a 5 hour flight each way, I knocked out a book for each trip.

 

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The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti

This book started out with a lot of promise. Ren is an orphan with a missing hand who is adopted out of a monastery by someone claiming to be his brother. He ends up in the land of grifters in New England.  Aot of the book is spent with all the schemes that Ren’s ‘brother’ and his con artist friend think up.  It’s also a story of a big mismatched family that forms from all of these people.  Coincidentally, he ends up landing in the perfect spot to find out about his real family and how he lost his hand.

I actually really enjoyed this book until about 3/4 of the way through and the plot started to become a little unbelievable, especially what comes to light about Ren’s real past.  Ren was a very well developed character, but the others were a little predictable.  I would recommend borrowing this and not purchasing. Borrowed from the library on my kindle.

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The Secret Race by Tyler Hamilton.

Wow.  This book was really, really good.  We all know about doping in pro cycling, but the extent of the doping throughout the years and the lengths that they went to in order to cover it up is amazing.  It’s a very honest book.  The pressure put on the athletes is amazing.  Tyler doesn’t really try to put himself in a good light. He basically states that while doping is bad, not all people who dope are bad.  He talked about his decision to start doping and what the alternatives were for him. Even if you don’t follow cycling, this is just a well done book about how the culture of something can get out of control.  Not to mention a lot of details about Lance Armstrong as Tyler Hamilton was on the Postal team for several of the years that Lance won the  Tour.  I really do recommend this book.  Borrowed from the library on my kindle.

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Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

This was quite a good book.  A very emotional book.  It is a story set in the 1980s during the first real awareness of the AIDs epidemic.  It’s the story of  teenage June and her sister Greta and how they deal with the death of their uncle Finn from AIDS, who was also a famous artist.  June becomes unlikely friends with Toby, Finn’s partner, in secret and the book is an unfolding of this.  The book deals with a lot of emotional issues like sibling relationships (both as children and adults), dealing with illness, death and grief, family secrets, etc.   This is definitely worthwhile to pick up.  Borrowed from my library via kindle.

What I am reading!

Time for another book update post!  I actually read a lot over the last month because the books were short.

woodcutter

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The Woodcutter – by Kate Danley.

I really, really enjoyed this book.  A very unique twist of Grimm’s fairy tales.  It’s the story of all fairy tales through the point of view of the woodcutter. He is the protector of the woods and the fairy tales start going wrong. It starts with Cinderella being killed and the woodcutter needs to find out who is interfering.  A bit of a murder mystery with a touch of fae.  There is a lot of good imagery in it.  It took me a few chapters to warm to it, but then I had trouble putting it down. If you have a soft spot for fairy tales, you will enjoy this book.

Borrowed from Kindle Owner’s Lending Library.

 

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The Golem and the Jinni – by Helene Wecker

I LOVED this book! Loved it!  I can’t believe this is a debut book by this author, either.  It is the story of 2 mythological figures. One is a golem who is brought to life, but her master is killed. The other is a Jinni (kind of a genie), who is a fire spirit who gets trapped in human form. They end up in NYC in the old immigrant neighborhoods and eventually meet.  What I love about this book is all of the layers of story.  A golem’s sole purpose in life is to obey a master, so there is much analogy with free will and going against your nature.  The jinni is more the opposite as a selfish free spirit caged and working for others. Their struggle to find where they fit in is so very well written.  Then there were the humans that they interacted with, only a very few who knew their true nature, and how they dealt with it. I was sad when this book finished. This is easily now my favorite book that I have read all year. Borrowed from my library.  Go read it now!

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diner

The Dinner – Herman Koch.

I can’t understand why this book is an international best seller. It does seem similar to Gone Girl – and I hated that book, so maybe why I disliked this one so much?

None of the characters are likable at all, which isn’t a total necessity to liking a book, but they are very disturbing and don’t do anything that makes you want to root for them.

I think the premise of the book is a bit odd as well. The book is about 2 sets of parents (2 of them brothers), who meet at a 5 star restaurant to discuss the futures of their respective sons, who have committed a very bad deed. Why on earth you would go to a 5 star restaurant to discuss this is probably what bothers me the most. Would you not want to do this in private?

The other part was how the narrator would leave out information and say “but I don’t need to tell you ____ because that is too much information and you can figure it out”. Like the naming of restaurants, parks, schools, the illness his wife had in the past. I don’t get that. When he comes out and describes other things that you would think he wouldn’t want to admit to rather than something so pedestrian as a restaurant.  Anyway, I kept waffling about finishing this book and then went ahead hoping it would get better, which it didn’t. Borrowed from my library.

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pee

I Could Pee on This

This was a cute little collection of poems told from a cat’s point of view. Also lots of cat pictures.  Not too much to say other than that. Borrowed from my library.

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And then, I read a stupid, stupid romance book.  I wanted something totally mindless to read and figured a bodice ripper would fit the bill.  So, I looked up free books on Amazon and picked one with a high star rating in the historical fiction category.

Problem 1:  It was a romance novel.

Problem 2:  It was a pirate romance. (I know!!!!)

Problem 3:  People giving the stars LIE!!!

I don’t know what on earth I was thinking as this type of book usually sends my feminist antennae into overdrive and this book was no exception, let alone the insipid dialogue and writing style.  I am not even going to list the book here because I know a lot of people like these books (as evidenced by all the stupid stars!!!) and this is just totally all my issue, so I don’t want to drag a book through a scathing review when I am biased.  I’m still counting the book on my list, though, because I mucked through it. :mrgreen:

 

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Anyway, I am going to easily surpass my goal of 30 books this year.  I may change my goal. What are you reading?

What I am reading!

Another monthly update of what I have been reading.  I am ahead of schedule for my Good Reads 30 book challenge this year, which isn’t really surprising when I actually relax enough to read.  I read pretty fast when I have a chance to sit down and do it, which I have been making sure I do.  Especially with the way work has been lately.   Oh, and my new computer is still not set up.  The process started today, but there was a problem with it (surprise, surprise).  I am hoping the old computer holds together long enough to get this new one set up so I don’t lose any work time.

Now the books!

sugar

Salt, Sugar and Fat by Michael Ross

This book is really about the rise of the processed food industry and it is kind of scary, really.  It all comes down to money.  Even supposed ‘healthy’ foods are only designed with the idea of making lots of money and the purported health benefits are tenuous at best.  The book is in 3 parts, each dealing with sugar, salt and fat and how the 3 combined actually magnify each other as far as  palatability and desire to eat more.  I really found the inner workings of some of the companies intriguing as well, particularly the egotism.  At one point, Kellog’s dictated what type of car you could drive into the lot. You had to be in a certain level of the company to drive certain cars.  Ridiculous, no?

Anyway, I would recommend this book to read.  It will make you angry, but it also gives you a lot of food for thought – pun intended, I suppose!

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 bread

 

The Bread is in the Bed by Glen Stanford

Okay, I guess my secret is out.  I have a desire to own a bed and breakfast.  I figured out that really is the only way I can get the property I want with gardens and that would be my job to take care of it.  Anyway, this book was free for me to read through Amazon prime (which I love!) and I got it to try to convince myself I *didn’t* want to do it.  In fact, the book tries to humorously get you to not do this business.  It’s about how to run a B&B effectively and think about whether it is something you should be doing.

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pecan

The Pecan Man by Cassie Dandridge Selleck

This was a short book, but really a good book.  It’s the story of Ms. Ora, her housekeeper Blanche, and a homeless man (the Pecan Man).  They cover for 2 related crimes and the book follows the fallout of the the lies told and the crimes themselves on the characters.  Racism and societal prejudice are common themes throughout the book.

So much of the story is about the lies you tell and how it affects you for the rest of your life and how coming clean in the end is the only way you can have peace.  I really recommend this book!  It’s a very short read, but a very good one.

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knight

The Good Knight (A Gwyneth and Gareth mystery) by Sarah Woodbury

This book was okay. Good for a summer beach read. I like reading about medieval times and I like mysteries, so thought I would give this a try.  It’s about a a songstress and a knight.  They reconnect on the way to a wedding trying to solve the mystery of who murdered a king and who is setting up Gareth.  The mystery was solved about 70% through the book, so the rest seemed a bit of ‘now what?’

At times it felt the characters were too 21st century in their words and actions, so the book would lose some of the atmosphere. I think the author could have made this story better by fleshing out the characters more with descriptions and going into more depth of their history. Things were mentioned in passing that would have added a lot more depth and empathy for the characters had this been delved into.  Again, a lighter summer read – library loan only.  Not sure I would bother reading the other books in the series.

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*** Just a note that I don’t put any Amazon linkies to these books because I didn’t purchase any of them.  These were all borrowed.

I currently am about finished with a really good book that I will share next month!

What are you reading now?