March 1st, 2011

dinah reads comics

February (15/100)

2011 Reading Challenge

Maria has

read 15 books toward her goal of 100 books.


Let's see, my list for February (well I finished one this morning, but I'm gonna include it):

Treating Survivors of Childhood Abuse: Psychotherapy for the Interrupted Life, by Marylene Cloitre, et. al.
Burnt Offerings, by Laurell K. Hamilton
The Almost Moon, by Alice Sebold
Why Marriages Succeed or Fail: And How You Can Make Yours Last, by John Gottman
The Lost Gate, by Orson Scott Card
Trust After Trauma: A Guide to Relationships for Survivors and Those Who Love Them, by Aphrodite Matsakis
The Lover's Dictionary: A Novel, by David Levithan
Captain's Fury, by Jim Butcher
Testimony, by Anita Shreve

Looking at the list together, I was kind of underwhelmed this month. I thoroughly enjoyed The Lost Gate and Captain's Fury (and I use the two books on trauma regularly with my clients), but the more "serious" fiction was all good, but not GREAT.
Jazzy Looking Around the Corner

Feburary Reads

9.  Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen  This book starts out with Jacob witnessing the death of a man who had two sides to his personality and it then cuts to an older Jacob who is looking at his past life in a nursing home while waiting for his relatives to take him to the circus.  Jacob is looking back at the summer that he had spent working for a third rate circus during the Great Depression.  From his flashbacks we get an idea how circus life really was instead of being as glamorous that we think that it is.  He joins the circus as their vet after losing his parents in a car accident.  He is left without nothing left in the world and has to make his own way.  He meets the various characters that make up the circus and who travels along with them.  He meets Marlena and her husband August who is mentally ill and his mental illness is used to excuse his behavior.  The ending of the book is a surprise and who you think killed August at the beginning of the book is not the same as who did.
10.  Tapestry by Belva Plain  This book starts out in the roaring twenties and ends at the end of World War II and is told from the viewpoint of an American Jewish banker.  It is interesting to see events in American history from a Jewish perspective.
11.  Miss Fortune by Julia London  In this book Rachel Lear who is thirty years old and is still in school for her doctorate has her financial support cut off from her father who wants her to be able to live in the real world instead of the academic bubble that she has created for herself.  She is forced to take a series of temp jobs in order to pay the bills through a magic spell that her best friend has performed a handsome British man enters into her life.  While learning how to rely on herself for support she also falls in love.  She also has an ex boyfriend who has secrets that Rachel learns by the end of the book, Flynn her British boyfriend also has some secrets as well.
12.  Though Waters Roar by Lynn Austin  This book begins with the narrator Harriet in jail for transporting illegal liquor during Prohibition during her time in prison she has time to think back on the women who had come before her and their bravery.  Starting with her great grandmother Hannah who hid runaway slaves in times of slavery she thinks about the causes of each of the women and thinks about her place in the world.  Her grandmother, Bebe campaigned for Prohibition while her mother later on in life begins to campaign for women’s suffrage.  Harriet is frustrated with her life when her grandmother tells her to rely on God for purpose in life.  This book talks about how women were treated from before the Civil War to the end of World War I.  There is prejudice against married women working outside the home during this time which you still see today in Christian circles with married women with small children working outside the home though today that prejudice is more subtle than when it was during this time period.
13.  Night by Elie Wiesel  This memoir by Elie Wiesel talks about his time in a concentration camp during the end of World War II.  He is separated from his mother and sisters when he first arrives and is encouraged to lie about his age when he first arrives.  At this time during the war the Germans are losing and are moving the Jews in order to prevent the Allied troops from finding them.  He goes into detail about the horrors that he witnesses in these camps and even during their forced marches.  This is a good book to learn more about the truth about the Holocaust.  
14.  Someone to Blame by C.S. Lakin  The Moore has already experienced plenty of tragedy in their family by losing two of their sons when they move to the small coastal town of Breakers.  When a young drifter moves to town he is blamed for the wave of thefts in the area and other mischievous acts.  The Moore family learns about the blessings that they have.  This is a good book by the author by judging someone by outward appearances and sometimes those early judgements are proved to be wrong.
15.  The Island by Victoria Hislop  This book is a tale of two generations of women who have been affected by leprosy.  Eleni is the first woman in the family to be affected by leprosy and is exiled to the island of Spinalonga after she is diagnosed.  She has two daughters Maria and Anna who are different from each other.  Maria is the one who looks after her father when her mother leaves while Anna dreams of leaving their village behind.  The book opens when Eleni’s great granddaughter, Alexis  travels to the village where her family is from while on vacation.    Alexis is in a loveless relationship when she makes the trip to learn more about her family and to visit the site of the former leper colony.  She meets one of her grandmother’s oldest friends and she learns more about her family history and the secrets that her family has kept for generations.
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33. Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt (2010 list)

Title: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
Author: John Berendt
Year: 1994
# of pages: 388
Date read: 5/19/2010
Rating: 3*/5 = good


"Shots rang out in Savannah's grandest mansion in the misty, early morning hours of May 2, 1981. Was it murder or self-defense? For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares. John Berendt's sharply observed, suspenseful, and witty narrative reads like a thoroughly engrossing novel, and yet it is a work of nonfiction. Berendt skillfully interweaves a hugely entertaining first-person account of life in this isolated remnant of the old South with the unpredictable twists and turns of a landmark murder case.

It is a spellbinding story peopled by a gallery of remarkable characters: the well-bred society ladies of the Married Woman's Card Club; the turbulent young redneck gigolo; the hapless recluse who owns a bottle of poison so powerful it could kill every man, woman, and child in Savannah; the aging and profane Southern belle who is the 'soul of pampered self-absorption"; the uproariously funny black drag queen; the acerbic and arrogant antiques dealer; the sweet-talking, piano-playing con artists; young blacks dancing the minuet at the black debutante ball; and Minerva, the voodoo priestess who works her magic in the graveyard at midnight. These and other Savannahians act as a Greek chorus, with Berendt revealing the alliances, hostilities, and intrigues that thrive in a town where everyone knows everyone else.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story is a sublime and seductive reading experience. Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, this enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city is certain to become a modern classic." -- from the inside flap

My thoughts:

I liked this book about Savannah and what happened there in 1981 and afterwards. Just learning about the city's history and its inhabitants was worth the read. I look forward to seeing the movie.

Inside Storyteller; Buffy Shazam Dungeon History

The Unwritten, vol. 2: The Inside Man, by Mike Carey and Peter Gross
Delivered on every promise volume 1 made; left me wanting more. The best comic out there right now.
(15/200, 15/100)

Storyteller: The Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl, by Donald Sturrock
So much irrelevant detail! (But my friend who reads lots of academic biographies said actually, as these things go, it's pretty straightforward and to the point - if a little too reliant on Patricia Neal's version of some things.) Other than that, I really liked it; Sturrock knows how to keep his sentences flowing, and, I mean, it's ROALD DAHL. Who wouldn't want to know more about him? I rather think, though, that I need to go back and reread some of Dahl's stories that I love - I don't want Sturrock's version of him preeminent in my mind over those.

Shazam: The Monster Society of Evil, by Jeff Smith
This was really appealing. Aimed at kids, but not condescending; appropriately absurd and heroic.
(17/200, 16/100)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus, volumes 3 and 4, by Scott Allie et al
Do you like all things Buffy? You would like this. Do you generally feel meh about the comics? You would not like this.
(18/200, 17/100; 19/200, 18/100)

The History of Love, by Nicole Krauss
We read this for book club. The language is lovely and strange and perfect and I love the interwoven voices of the text. A book to sink into rather than nibble.

Dungeon Quest, book 1 by Joe Daly
No one can review this book better than my friend Steve did: "meta + peeners + comic book + D&D = a rare achievement in literature." IT'S TROO.
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Book Stacks

Book 7 of 50: Parable of the Sower

Book 7 of 50

Title: Parable of the Sower
Author: Octavia E. Butler
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia

Summary (from Hugo and Nebula Award-winner Butler's first novel since 1989's Imago offers an uncommonly sensitive rendering of a very common SF scenario: by 2025, global warming, pollution, racial and ethnic tensions and other ills have precipitated a worldwide decline. In the Los Angeles area, small beleaguered communities of the still-employed hide behind makeshift walls from hordes of desperate homeless scavengers and violent pyromaniac addicts known as "paints" who, with water and work growing scarcer, have become increasingly aggressive. Lauren Olamina, a young black woman, flees when the paints overrun her community, heading north with thousands of other refugees seeking a better life. Lauren suffers from 'hyperempathy," a genetic condition that causes her to experience the pain of others as viscerally as her own--a heavy liability in this future world of cruelty and hunger. But she dreams of a better world, and with her philosophy/religion, Earthseed, she hopes to found an enclave which will weather the tough times and which may one day help carry humans to the stars. Butler tells her story with unusual warmth, sensitivity, honesty and grace; though science fiction readers will recognize this future Earth, Lauren Olamina and her vision make this novel stand out like a tree amid saplings.

Comments: Well, after my last book (which was totally lackluster), this was a breath of fresh air! This was my first read by Butler, and it's safe to say that I'll be returning to her work. This was an interesting take on a dystopian future. Technology isn't the enemy, but global warming and racial tension. Society has broken down into neighborhood and town warfare, and communities build walls and protect themselves with guns. Because people are afraid to go out, life has returned to a simpler form in some ways, with luxuries or even different kinds of food being unavailable. I loved the take on religion in this book. I like how the main character really thinks through religion and comes up with ideas that she is comfortable with, which I can totally relate to (although not in the "go start my own religion" way). The whole idea of experiencing the pain of others is a neat one, and it was interesting to think of. I flew through this book, barely wanting to put it down. The next one I pick up will be the sequel in this Earthseed set, Parable of the Talents, and I can't wait to read more in this set. It's interesting, because I didn't really feel like there was a climax in this book-- but the writing was so good and the ideas so intriguing, that it didn't really matter. I just wanted to read more about the experience. Overall, I would highly recommend.

(x-posted to cmmunchkin)