March 4th, 2013

Dead Dog Cat

#40

And the Osprey books keep on coming:

Yesterday, I finished reading Osprey Raid #8: The Cockleshell Raid: Bordeaux 1942 which detailed a commando raid up a river in Occupied France in WWII. It wasn't a piece of history that I'd known much of anything about, so I enjoyed it.
vintage

Book 40: 22 Britannia Road by Amanda Hodgkinson

Book 40: 22 Britannia Road.
Author: Amanda Hodgkinson, 2011
Genre: Period Fiction. WWII Europe.
Other Details: Hardback. Large Print Edition 535 pages.

At the end of the Second World War, Silvana and eight-year-old Aurek board the ship that will take them from Poland to England. After living wild in the forests for years, carrying a terrible secret, all Silvana knows is that she and Aurek are survivors. Everything else is lost. Waiting in Ipswich is Silvana’s husband Janusz, who has not seen his wife and son for six years. He has found his family a house and works hard planting a proper English garden to welcome them. But the six years apart have changed them all. To make a real home, Silvana and Janusz will have to come to terms with what happened during the war, accept that each is different and allow their beloved but wild son Aurek to be who he truly is. - synopsis from author's website.

The author tells the story of Janusz, Silvana and Aurek in England as they seek to reconnect and then moves back to before and during the war to give an account of their courtship and marriage as well as events that take place in the years they spend apart. These flashbacks are interspersed throughout until the past catches up with the opening of the novel.

I will admit that I wasn't all that keen when this was handed out at the library reading group as our February book as it is just not a time period or subject matter that I feel particularly drawn to. So usually when I do read books set during WWII they are ones chosen by one of my reading groups. However, once I began reading I found this quite an engaging novel that certainly held my interest.

It was a bitter-sweet tale strongly character driven that also vividly captured the hardships of the war on this Polish family and the post-war period in England. Certainly an accomplished début novel and one that I am glad I had the opportunity to read.
kitty, reading

Books #5 and #6

Book #5 is part of the reason I've only finished six books by early March: "The Brontes" by Juliet Barker is 830 pages, not counting the preface, copious end notes and the index. It's Barker's attempt to write a group biography of the three novelist sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte, their poet/painter brother Branwell, and their father Patrick. It also seems that Barker's agenda is to set the record straight on the character of each of the Brontes, which are distorted by the Bronte mythology, in Barker's opinion.

It's obvious that Barker's book is meticulously researched. It also has a wonderful selection of illustrations, with a center plate of photos and portraits of the Brontes and their friends and family, as well as small sketches by Emily, Charlotte and Branwell heading each chapter.

I was surprised that some of the amazon reviewers found this book dry because I did not at all. I found myself crying when the various family members died, having felt Barker made you sympathetic to them in the way a great fiction writer does with his or her characters.

[Minor spoilers for those who don't already know the fate of the Bronte family (click to open)]It's inevitable that you learn the most about Charlotte because she lived longer than her siblings and had more books published, as well as being a prolific letter writer. I found myself surprisingly sympathetic to her father, Patrick, who is often portrayed as stern and tyrannical. Barker's portrait is more nuanced - he's a widower raising four young and talented children on a minister's salary, not surprisingly sobered by sorrow but doing the best by his children that he can, as tender and loving a father as most people could wish for.
I really liked this a lot, even though it took me three months to finish it, in part because it was long, with smallish print but also because it was dense with information and heavy in subject matter at times. I felt it was definitely worth reading and would recommend it to anyone else who has read at least a few of the Bronte books and is curious about this literary family.

Book #6 is "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot, as an audiobook. This is another non-fiction book with some heavy moments. It tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, a black American woman who has her cervical cancer treated at John Hopkins hospital in the 1950s. The doctors culture some of her cancer cells, and these cells live on and on well after Henrietta herself died of this virulent cancer.

The cells went on to make millions of dollars for medical supply companies and lead to cures and treatments for a host of cancers and other illnesses, including playing a role in the eradication of polio. Yet, her family remained largely ignorant of how those cells became so important and didn't receive any money, nor did their mother receive much honor, in return from those cells, which were taken without her consent.

Woven through the story of Henrietta's immortal cells is the story of how Skloot was able to get the story of the Lacks family only after enduring much suspicion from Henrietta's descendants. Sometimes, I felt Skloot focused a little too much on that aspect of the story and I would have preferred that she stuck more closely to the science and the politics of human subjects experiments.

There are many parts of the story that outraged me, from the way the Lacks family was treated by the medical establishment to the way the Lacks children were treated after their mother's death. Thus, this was not an easy read from an emotional standpoint.

However, it was compelling and I learned a lot. I also thought that the translation to audiobook was well done. Highly recommended.



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50bookchallenge2013

A book list update

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K.Rowling

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

Slightly Shady by Amanda Quick

Don't Look Back by Amanda Quick

Late for the Wedding by Amanda Quick

Seduction by Amanda Quick

Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach

The first three Quick books are actually a trilogy, and they're probably my favorite Quick books ever. Being laid up in bed for a few days with a bum eye, I decided to revisit them. If you like historical romances, I recommend them highly!

Also, I'm pretty sure my mother was both tickled and appalled by Mansbach's book. I had her listen to the audio version read by Samuel L. Jackson so she could get the full effect. Ha!

Books completed: 18/50

Sleeping Beauty

Book 8: The Club Dumas

Originally posted by audrey_e at Book 8: The Club Dumas
8 THE CLUB DUMAS Arturo Perez-Reverte ( Spain, 1993)



The book expert Lucas Corso begins an investigation on the three remaining copies of The Nine Doors, a book believed to give access to the Devil's Kingdom.

Roman Polanski's The Ninth Gate was based on this novel.

I did not care for the movie when it came out, but I could barely remember it when I started the book, and I was told The Club Dumas was actually different and better.
I really enjoyed the treasure hunt aspect of the novel. It's filled with drawings and charts that draw you in and make you feel like you are investigating with Corso. It was overall an interesting easy-read with a few unexpected turns and some fairly well-written characters. And there is of course the eternal appeal of "books about books" for avid readers like me.
Having said that, I have to admit the ending felt slightly anti-climactic when the rest of the novel clearly called for a more memorable, if not shocking, conclusion.
I don't know if I'll read another of the author's novels, but I enjoyed it while it lasted.

3/5
Rosario Dawson Smiling in glasses

Books 5-11 for 2013

This is a rather quick recap of my completed books so far because I have a fair amount of studying to do.

5. Six Geese A-Laying by Sophie Kinsella (Short Story)
6. City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments #5) by Cassandra Clare
7. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
8. Hounded (The Iron Druid Chronicles #1) by Kevin Hearne
9. Clan Rathskeller (The Iron Druid Chronicles #0.5) by Kevin Hearne (Short Story)
10. Kaibab Unbound (The Iron Druid Chronicles #0.6) by Kevin Hearne (Short Story)
11. Hexed (The Iron Druid Chronicles #2) by Kevin Hearne

I wasn't going to include the short stories in the tally but my Goodreads counter ranks them so they will stay.

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Next book: Hammered (The Iron Druid Chronicles #3) by Kevin Hearne
Eduardo

New Year, New Challenge... Books 1 and 2...

1: At the Mountains of Madness (Lovecraft - Culbard)

This was a fairly good rendition, as Graphic Novels go... of Lovcraftian Horrors. I cannot say it was the very best book I ever read on the topic, Graphic Novel or not, but it was worth the read and it did hold my attention.
It is very specific in the choices of color in the graphics, and I think that was a bonus- in many ways, it was like rendering black and white, without the monotony of that. Instead, each set of drawings chose color ranges that evoked specific moods, and that worked very well for this book.


2) 21st Century Dead: A zombie Anthology (edited by Christopher Golden)

I was really Floored by this anthology. (yeah yeah, we all know I love Zombies, but...) Really, this isn't so much about Zombies, as it is about the human condition, and how we handle the CONCEPT of the living dead.



"The Walking Dead" on AMC became a phenomenon in part, because of the way in which it followed specific people and their varying views on the 'walkers'... the Zombies that have taken over their world.



This book takes that same people-centric viewpoint, and with every story, explores different concepts of 'the living dead'.



Oh, we have zombies, sure. But we have some other things too... after all, what if Zombies COULD be 'cured'? Or what if they were mindless things driven by a single evil force?



I loved every story in this book, and that's saying something!



Excellent choice for anyone who loves horror stories!
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    tired tired
Eduardo

New Year, New Challenge... Books 1 and 2...

1: At the Mountains of Madness (Lovecraft - Culbard)

This was a fairly good rendition, as Graphic Novels go... of Lovcraftian Horrors. I cannot say it was the very best book I ever read on the topic, Graphic Novel or not, but it was worth the read and it did hold my attention.
It is very specific in the choices of color in the graphics, and I think that was a bonus- in many ways, it was like rendering black and white, without the monotony of that. Instead, each set of drawings chose color ranges that evoked specific moods, and that worked very well for this book.


2) 21st Century Dead: A zombie Anthology (edited by Christopher Golden)

I was really Floored by this anthology. (yeah yeah, we all know I love Zombies, but...) Really, this isn't so much about Zombies, as it is about the human condition, and how we handle the CONCEPT of the living dead.





"The Walking Dead" on AMC became a phenomenon in part, because of the way in which it followed specific people and their varying views on the 'walkers'... the Zombies that have taken over their world.





This book takes that same people-centric viewpoint, and with every story, explores different concepts of 'the living dead'.





Oh, we have zombies, sure. But we have some other things too... after all, what if Zombies COULD be 'cured'? Or what if they were mindless things driven by a single evil force?





I loved every story in this book, and that's saying something!





Excellent choice for anyone who loves horror stories!
  • Current Mood
    tired tired
book

Ultimate Changeling Dreams; Reading Buffy

The Changeling, by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
An odd and feral and comforting little book. Dated, but not in a bad way.
(35)

Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, vol. 1, by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli
Charming! The new Spider Man has been so controversial that I wasn't quite sure what to expect - but I LOVE it. So will the boys we pass our comics on to, when said comics are not too grown-up.
(36, O3)

Injecting Dreams into Cows, by Jessy Randall
I love Jessy's poems, funny AND witty ones, and I really enjoyed the range of this collection. Some old favorites I'd heard her read before, and some poems that outright startled me.
(37)

Buffy, Season 9, vol. 2: On Your Own, by Andrew Chambliss et al
This is shaping up well. It's a bit over-the-top - a bit too able to lose characters in ever more complicated plots - but still a great deal of fun.
(38, O4)

Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to NOT Reading, by Tommy Greenwald
This was a hoot! The main character's voice is natural, engrossing, and wry, and the secondary characters come across as more complex than the narrator's view of them (a fine trick).
(39, O5)
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