December 25th, 2011

Dead Dog Cat

(no subject)

Over the last few days, I've finished a couple of meh books.

First was Monsieur Pamplemousse, a detective novel with the protagonist a former member of the Surete, now traveling incognito as a tester for a French guide to fine dining. He travels with his bloodhound, Pommes Frites, and they run into mysteries and get involved in highjinks. It's vaguely amusing, and apparently initiated a long series, but it didn't spark me more than enough to finish the original book. I won't be pursuing others in the saga.

Second was an ebook, Osprey Men-at-Arms #106: Napoleon's German Allies 4 Bavaria. It's another book intended as a resource for miniature gamers interested in the era. The plates in this one aren't of the quality that these books showed later (and presently).
  • krinek

48. Cane River by Lalita Tademy [2010 list]

Title: Cane River
Author: Lalita Tademy
Publisher: Warner Books
Year: 2001
# of pages: 416
Date read: 10/25/2010
Rating: 4*/5 = good


"Ladita Tademy had always been intensely interested in her family's stories, especially ones about her great-grandmother Emily, a formidable figure who died with her life's savings hidden in her mattress. Probing deeper for her family's roots, Tademy soon found herself swept up in an obsessive two-year odyssey--and leaving her corporate career for the little Louisiana farming community of...Cane River. It was here, on a medium-sized Creole plantation owned by a family named Derbanne, that author Lalita Tademy found her family's roots--and the stories of four astonishing women whose lives began in slavery, who weathered the Civil War, and who grappled with the contradictions of emancipation through the turbulent early years of the twentieth century. Through it all, they fought to unite their family and forge success on their own terms.

Here amid small farmhouses and a tightly knit community of French-speaking slaves, free people of color, and whites, Tademy's great-great-great-great-grandmother Elisabeth would bear both a proud heritage and the yoke of slavery. Her youngest daughter, Suzette, would be the first to discover the promise--and heartbreak--of freedom. Suzette's strong-willed daughter Philomene would use determination born of tragedy to reunite her family and gain unheard of economic independence. And Emily, Philomene's spirited daughter, would fight to secure her children's just due and preserve their future against dangerous odds.

In a novel that combines painstaking historical reconstruction with unforgettable storytelling, Lalita Tademy presents an all too rarely seen part of American history, complete with a provocative portrayal of the complex, unspoken bonds between slaves and slave owners.Most of all, she gives us the saga of real, flesh-and-blood women, making hard choices in the face of unimaginable loss, securing their identity and independence in order to face any obstacle, and inspiring all the generations to come.' -- from the inside flap

My thoughts:

I liked this book about Tademy's ancestors and their struggles in the 19th and early 20th century. I especially liked the way she inserted images of newspaper accounts, slave auction lists, and census records. I would read these documents just after reading the fictional account and would connect the names to the characters, making them more "alive." I look forward to reading the sequel, Red River.
  • krinek

49. Excession by Iain Banks [2010 list]

Title: Excession
Author: Iain Banks
Publisher: Bantam Spectra
Year: 1996
# of pages: 499
Date read: 11/7/2010
Rating: 3*/5 = good


"Diplomat Byr Genar-Hofoen has been selected by the Culture to undertake a delicate and dangerous mission. The Department of Special Circumstances--the Culture's espionage and dirty tricks section--has sent him off to investigate a 2,500-year-old mystery: the sudden disappearance of a star fifty times older than the universe itself. But in seeking the secret of the lost son, Byr risks losing himself. There is only one way to break the silence of millennia: steal the soul of the long-dead starship captain who first encountered the star, and convince her to be reborn. And in accepting this mission, Byr will be swept into a vast conspiracy that could lead the universe into an age of peace. . .or to the brink of annihilation." -- from the back cover

My thoughts:

I liked this book, but I think I would have liked it more if I had read the earlier books in the series first. I found myself wondering what was going on and who the characters were, and it wasn't until I was halfway through when I realized that it was part of a series. I look forward to reading the earlier books starting with Consider Phlebas
  • krinek

50. Hurry Down Sunshine by Michael Greenberg [2010 list]

Title: Hurry Down Sunshine
Author: Michael Greenberg
Publisher: Other Press
Year: 2008
# of pages: 233
Date read: 11/14/2010
Rating: 3*/5 = good


"Hurry Down Sunshine tells the story of the extraordinary summer when, at the age of fifteen, Michael Greenberg's daughter was struck mad. It began with Sally's sudden visionary crack-up on the streets of Greenwich Village, and continues, among other places , in the out-of-time world of a Manhattan psychiatric ward during the city's most sweltering months. 'I feel like I'm traveling and traveling with nowhere to go back to,' Sally says in a burst of lucidity while hurtling away toward some place her father could not dream of or imagine. Hurry Down Sunshine is the chronicle of that journey, and its effect on Sally and those closest to her--her mother and stepmother, her brother and grandmother, and, not least of all, the author himself." -- from the inside flap

My thoughts:

This was an interesting book about how mental illness affects a family. I liked how Sally's parents struggled to understand what's happening.


50 / 100 books. 50% done!

16795 / 30000 pages. 56% done!