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Library Bookshelf

Started by Marilyne, March 29, 2016, 03:20:53 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

CallieOK

Flajean,   I agree!!!!

Marilyne

This Tender Land, was due on Saturday, but I decided to keep it over the weekend because I wanted to finish it, which I did.   After the first couple of chapters, I realized that it was another reworking of Homer's, The Odyssey, with some Huckleberry Finn, thrown in for good measure.  The story takes place in 1932, when two young brothers, an Indian boy, and a seven year old girl, escape from a school for Orphans and Indian Children, in N. Dakota.  Of course it's a horrible place with evil headmasters, and guards who are allowed to beat and abuse the children,  when they do anything that is perceived as wrong.  The couple who run the school are also evil . . . but of course there is one teacher who is kind and compassionate, who helps the boys and the seven year old girl escape.   ::) 

Then starts The Odyssey, down the river in a canoe, where the four kids meet all sorts of people along the way . . . the good, the bad and the ugly!   One of the boys even encounters a version of The Sirens, toward the end of the book. That's when we find out why they couldn't go live with Aunt Julia, when they became orphaned.  :o

Other books you may have read that were based on The Odyssey are,  Cold Mountain,  The Time Travelers Wife, and  The Hobbit.   The Coen Bros film,  Oh Brother Where Art Thou, was a comedy version of  The Odyssey.   All of those were better than This Tender Land, in my opinion. 
That said, However, I did like this book.  There is never a dull moment in the story, and it will hold your attention, even if it is extremely far fetched and melodramatic at times. 

MarsGal

I am back to listening to Brigadier General (Ret.) Robert Spalding's book, Stealth War: How China Took Over While America's Elite Slept. Alarming stuff. Having read some of how economics and trade shaped the ancient world and still shape it today, what is in this book is something of a warning. Some of the latest chapters I read discuss the Chinese push to put up super fast G5 networks and acquire telecom companies worldwide, the fact that parts for critical military equipment is manufactured and imported from China, coercing Radio Free American to modify an interview and then fire the reporter so as not to upset the Chinese government, the problem of Chinese students being coerced and encouraged to steal research info and told not to get too chummy with US students right here in the US, and schools that have Confucius Studies centers (88 as of December 2019, although some are soon closing) being "encouraged" to cancel opposition speakers as well as lack of transparency of the centers. This article doesn't state the problem of the cultural centers quite as alarmingly as Spalding does. https://www.politico.com/story/2019/02/27/china-college-confucius-institutes-1221768 He hasn't even touched on the Chinese military build up yet. Alarmist as the book may be, it is worth noting that the Chinese government has a long-term, multi-pronged plan to become the dominant world economic and military power. Some of it is publicly stated, while others are more covert.

MarsGal

There are a couple of novels about books on my library Wish List. The one I am reading now is The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson. It is not quite an "I can't put it down book", but close if you don't think too much. This review pretty much sums up the good and the bad, but I think it is also something of a spoiler alert. https://allaboutromance.com/book-review/the-bookshop-of-yesterdays-by-amy-meyerson/  The author's bio says she teaches in the Creative Writing Department at USC, so you wouldn't expect her writing to be quite as flawed as the reviews indicate. Her next novel, The Imperfects, is scheduled to release soon. It will be on my list to read too.

Marilyne

MarsGal - interesting, that The Bookshop of Yesterdays, was recently recommended to me by a friend.  I set it aside on my list, but with your mostly positive comments, I'll put in a request at the library.  Meyerson  does look young, to be teaching creative writing at USC, so she must have great credentials.  I'm looking forward to reading "Bookshop", and will look at others by her.    Also, I meant to comment on your rec for,  Stealth War: How China Took Over While America's Elite Slept.  That's a subject that has bothered me a lot, over the years, and the the book is on my library wait list right now.  I'm not a big fan of Trump, but I have to say that he got it right, as far a standing up to China is concerned!!  It's about time!

CallieOK

I've finished "The Dutch House" by Ann Patchett and "Windfallen" by Jojo Moyes.  Liked "The Dutch House" once I got into the story but didn't care for "Windfallen" as I have other books by same author.

"The Water Dancer" is my book club's discussion this month.  One member said she loved how beautifully it was written.  I'm finding it too wordy and hard to follow.  Story of slaves getting involved in the Underground Railroad is dragging (IMO) and I'm tempted to just skip to the last chapters so I'll at least know the ending before book club meets.

I'm to lead the March discussion on "The Guest Book" by Sarah Blake (not the one with the same title by Marybeth Whalen) so will reread it and make notes.  I plan to discuss the various types of social prejudices the author works into the story.  Hope I can find an on-line interview with the author or some discussion questions.

I'm on Hold for Hillary Mantel's book to be released in March. Title is "The Mirror and the Light" - the third in her Thomas Cromwell series.

...and that's it from this corner.  Happy Reading!!

Tomereader1

My f2f Book Club met last night.  Our book for discussion was "Flight Behavior" by Barbara Kingsolver.  Before we got started, I told the group that I had read this book when it first came out, 2012, and got absolutely nothing out of it, other than Kingsolver's beautiful writing, and that I must have undergone a complete and total mind/personality change since that first try, as I found the book (in this re-reading) absolutely stunning.  We had a terrific discussion with everyone touching on basically the same points, with   very little difference in our points of view. Kingsolver does her characters so well, and we all thought there were a couple of characters that needed "more time" in the story.  I realize this is an older book, but I'm sure your libraries will have copies of it, should you care to read.  Of course, it does not compare with her "The Poisonwood Bible", which is one of my all-time favorite books. Our group tends to read things that have been out for a few years, to allow everyone to check out at the library, rather than going out and buying a book.  We make sure there enough copies in the library system before we settle on a book.  The newer things are so hard to come by with reserve lists  that would put everyone in a very long queue, and also, perhaps not enough copies available.  Well, I have probably taken up enough of your time for now.

Tomereader1

If you have read the book previously, I'm interested in knowing what you thought about it.

MarsGal

This morning's find on Project Gutenberg: The Shakespeare Garden by Esther Singleton http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/61325

What a lovely title for a novel, but no, it is non-fiction. The book uses Shakespeare to introduce the Elizabethan gardens prevalent in Shakespeare's time. The book starts out with a history, then moves on to the gardens with plenty of photos and poetry. Next it discusses the plants used and, finally, suggestions for garden layouts. Nice addition for garden lovers, it is still in print.

JeanneP

Messed up yesterday and didn't get to the Library. Down to the last few pages of the last book I have. (Have lots of Ipad but pref-ere hard back.) But overnight we got a big snow fall and I am not going to go out there and clean the car off.
Some good titles up above that i want to look up or order. Will go tomorrow if it clears off.
 
JeanneP

Marilyne

MarsGal - Yesterday I went to the Library and got,  The Bookshop of Yesterdays.  I'll probably start reading it this afternoon - it looks good.

Callie - Glad you liked,  The Dutch House.  It was one of my favorites from 2019, and I'm still looking forward to the audiobook, narrated by Tom Hanks.  I passed on, The Water Dancer, when I saw it at the library.  I'll get to it in the future, but too many others stacked up that I want to read first.

Tome - Like you, I got a copy of,  Flight Behavior, as soon as it came out - and also like you, I was disappointed.  I don't remember now how much of the book I read before closing it for good?  The Poisonwood Bible, being my favorite novel of the past 25 years, I was anxious to read "Flight", but it just didn't work for me at the time.  Now that you're seeing it from a new perspective and liking it, I may give it another  go also?

JeanneP - Hope you get to the library this weekend, so you can stock up on some of our recommended books.  You might like the one I mentioned above,  This Tender Land.  Also, I mentioned a novel last week that my daughter liked, called,  In Some Other Life, by Jessica Brody.  I thought it was pretty good.

maryc -  I hope we hear from you this weekend?  Let us know what you're reading, and if it's worth recommending . . . or not??

MarsGal

A final note on The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson. I thought the ending was drawn out way too much. I ended up skimming some of it. I wonder if the author had trouble ending the story without a long explanation of why the characters did or didn't do what they did. As I look back on the read, I can't say that I cared a whole lot for most of the characters. They all seemed to have some annoying traits, but maybe that was just my mood when reading it. If you don't think or question too much about all the failings of the characters to connect with each other, it is still a good read.

I am now listening to John Scalzi's Agent to the Stars. I read it years ago and thought if funny as all get out. Wil Wheaton does a good job of narration, but I don't get that tickle my funnybone feeling that I did when I first read it. At the time I thought is was an absolute riot. I've never been real fond of Wheaton, even when he was a regular on Star Trek: Next Generation, so that could be some of it, but it could be too, that he didn't quite convey the comedy of the situation. According to previous comments by those in the business I understand that comedy is so hard to do well.

maryc

Last evening I finished This Tender Land.   I thoroughly enjoyed William Kent Krueger's tale of the four vagabonds.  In recent months I've been thinking quite a bit about how our parents made it through the great depression and this story gave new thoughts on that subject.   Odie observed more than once how appealing the small towns looked to him and wishing that he might belong to a family living in that setting.   We did live in a tiny hamlet of what had been a bustling railroad town in early days.   My father like many others had very short work hours but he was clever and hard working and turned his hand at whatever he found to make a bit more income.  Mom was the same and stretched the little money to care for us all.  They were blessed with good health and no addictions that used up needed resources.  We never felt poor.  I feel badly now that I didn't appreciate what they did to give us the life we had when times were so hard.  Earlier on here I mentioned a book called The Education of Little Tree.   I read that book years ago and the beginning of this book telling about the life of the Native American children living in the Boarding Schools reminded me of that book.

Someone recommended another book to me recently that I have found on Hoopla.  It is The Chicken Chronicles by Alice Walker.   I've read a few chapters and it seems like light entertaining reading.  Perhaps there will be a deeper message as we go along. :)
Mary C

MarsGal

What I am reading now, finally, is Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It is engrossing and at times the events are unexpected. The connections between the people are not necessarily clear at first and are sometimes surprising. None of the characters seem to stand out more than the others; what seems more important are the events surrounding them and how they (the events) weave in and out of the characters' lives.

I've just started a lengthy Scifi audiobook, The Faded Sun Trilogy by C. J. Cherryh. It was a little hard to follow at first. The character names and places sound so strange and the narration has an almost poetic flow to it, kind of like reading an ancient epic poem.

phyllis

February 13, 2020, 08:19:35 AM #2144 Last Edit: February 13, 2020, 08:39:11 AM by phyllis
I am about half way through "Where the Crawdads Sing" and though author, Delia Owens, writes well the book is increasingly irritating me.  It's like trying to listen to a wonderful orchestra with one instrument playing off key.  She has set the story in North Carolina but she knows nothing about North Carolina.  The geographic descriptions of the coast are wrong..the terminology is wrong..the dialect is wrong.  It's just "off" and it grates on me.  I read a review of the book by a PBS-UNCTV Book Critic and he said it sounded more like South Carolina or Georgia.  I totally agree.  I wanted to enjoy this book but I'm not sure I can continue to put up with this disturbing irritation enough to continue to the end.

Sorry for the rant but I waited several weeks to get the book and I am disappointed.  :tickedoff:
phyllis
Cary,NC

FlaJean

I can understand your frustration, Phyllis.  I always feel like I learn a lot even from the fiction books I read and when I find an author who doesn't do his/her due diligence in getting facts right it really annoys me.  Usually, a good author will explain what they have changed in the descriptions of local areas for the use of the story and I accept that.  Once I was reading a book and the author was telling about a high mountain in Florida.  Mountains in Florida USA??  Everyone knows that the highest point in Florida is lower than any high point in the USA.  I never read that author again.

PatH2

When they're that sloppy about their background, it makes it hard to take them seriously about anything they're saying.  What a bummer, Phyllis.

phyllis

I finished it.  I must confess that I hurriedly scanned through to just get to the end.  I found it unsatisfying and can't totally understand why it was on the best seller list for so long.  To be fair, it was well written in spots, but not a memorable book, in my opinion.

I will probably join you, Flajean, and if Delia Owens ever writes another fiction book I probably won't waste my time with her.  There are other authors that I have more trust in to do their job.

Hi, Pat.  So nice to see you here. 
phyllis
Cary,NC

Marilyne

Phyllis - I looked back to see what I had written about Where The Crawdads Sing, and I see that I didn't say much, one way or another. I seem to be cutting down "best sellers", all the time, and I wanted to leave this one kind of open ended, to see what others thought?   

To begin with, the story was preposterous, in most respects. A seven year old girl, left alone with no money or means to care for herself. etc., etc. (even though the entire town and authorities were aware of her circumstances)     Somehow she survives, and meets her one friend (a boy of course), when she is a child, and the years drag on and on, etc.  We have all seen this same story reworked over and over again in many novels.  Mother deserts, father is a drunken bum, siblings all leave, even thought she is the youngest in the family, nobody takes her with them. So she fends for herself.  It stretches the imagination.   I've never been to
N. Carolina, and so I'm not familiar with the terrain, climate, . . . but I also thought the setting seemed much more, "Deep South", like Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, etc. . . .  swampy and coastal, and warm year around.

Anyway, I'm getting tired of reading about spunky and heroic children!  Against all odds, they soldier on, grow up, and  thrive.   ::)  I guess that's why I also gave a thumbs down rating to This Tender Land.         

CallieOK

Thank you, thank you, thank you to those who disliked "Where The Crawdads Sing" as much as I did!!

Marilyne, I also thought it was a preposterous story.  No way a 7 year old child could be treated like that and "suddenly" become the accomplished artist able to communicate with "the public".
My Book Club discussed it and several thought it was "the best book they'd ever read".
Most of the members are younger than I am and seem to be caught up with current books about "spunky and heroic children (who)Against all odds, soldier on, grow up, and  thrive."

I joined after they'd picked selections for this year - but felt the same way about "Educated" and "Hillbilly Elegy" (both biographies) 
This month's discussion is on "The Water Dancer" - same theme about a slave who grew up to become a member of the Underground Railroad.  Author attributes "supernatural powers" to Harriet Tubman and I'm tempted to skim through a biography of her to see if she really could "walk on water".
Just hope I can keep a neutral facial expression and  :-X  while the others rave on. 

Phyllis and Jean, although I don't know the geography of WTCS setting, I agree about disgust with authors changing things around.
James Michener did that in "Centennial" and "Texas".  In the first one, he not only moved a major geological landmark from southeastern Colorado to north central Colorado - he also had the main character leave the fictional town of Centennial (supposedly near Greeley) before an early breakfast and had him take a totally illogical route to Durango - where he arrived in time for lunch.  Physically impossible to do that - even if one took the direct route.

In "Texas", Michener had a tribe living near Wichita Falls go on horseback and back to the Palo Duro Canyon (south of Amarillo) on a day-long hunting trip. Totally illogical, even if driving.

Thus endeth today's rant.  :)

maryc

I had the same feelings when I read We Were the Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates.later when I read The Falls she did much better with geography.  As a wise person on this site told me recently....sometimes you have to detach from reality and just enjoy the story.
Mary C

PatH2

Callie, we discussed Educated on our sister site, and some of us had a similar reaction.  Also, I found the atmosphere of her home life unbearably oppressive, didn't enjoy being stuck in it.

CallieOK

Maryc,  I always enjoyed Michener's stories - especially "The Novel" and "The Source".
I learned to skip the first chapter or two, which are always more geological details than I want to know.  Also learned to tolerate the last chapter always being things he could think of to add about wherever he'd stayed doing research (University of Texas for "Texas" (every bad TX/OK joke he ever heard) and Univ. of CO for "Centennial")

Now need to finish "The Testaments" before it comes due and disappears from my e-book loan list.  Am sure I wouldn't be able to renew without going to the end of the line.

A friend mentioned that Janet Evanovich has added to her numerical stories about Stephane Plum; I think she said current one is #25. That means I've missed several and need to research that.

So many books...so many other things that need to be done.... :'(

PatH2

I think #26 is out too.  I read #25; it wasn't one of her best.  But there are a lot I've missed.

MarsGal

I've finished Station Eleven which I found engrossing. Now I am listening to The Faded Sun Trilogy by C. J. Cherryh which I had difficulty putting down. I spent most of yesterday afternoon and evening listening to it. The narrator is excellent, his voice flows and is so soothing.

so_P_bubble

Thanks for mentioning the Faded Sun. 
I was pondering what book to re-read from my huge collection of S-F and this one I read so long ago that I do not remember it at all. :)  Of course listening to it from a flowing soothing voice would be a delight, but - paper back will do as well :)

phyllis

I used to just howl at Evanovich and then got away from them so I missed a lot, too.  Maybe I need to get back up with her.  I discovered that my dermatologist was a fan and we spent most of one check-up appointment laughing over Stephanie Plum.

I just put a hold on Louise Penney's latest Inspector Gamache "A Better Man".  I think I am #35 on the list so it shouldn't be too long to wait.
phyllis
Cary,NC

CallieOK

Lots of Evanovich e-books available from my library.  Last one listed in the Stephanie Plum series is #26.  That may have been the one my friend mentioned and I think she said #27 would be out this coming Fall.

Couldn't remember the last one I read and none of the synopses sounded familiar so I arbitrarily picked #17. 

Finally finished "The Testaments" last night and hope to start on this one after church/lunch/the newspaper.

Marilyne

PatH2 - I followed along with the Educated, discussion, on SeniorLearn.  Like others in the discussion, I didn't care for the book, and I'd never recommend it to anyone.  I don't remember names now, but the girl, (main character), was interesting as a child, but as she got older she became hard to believe.  She earned this amazing education, all free from Scholarships, and went to Oxford or Cambridge, as well as major prestige schools in the USA, and yet at the end of her memoir - all she wanted in life, was to be welcomed back into that dysfunctional family, who all shunned her.  Go figure? 

Also some of her family stories in the book seemed exaggerated and unbelievable to me.  Especially when her father had the accident and was seriously burned over most of his body and face.  Of course he didn't go to the hospital or doctor.  Good old Mom, cured him with her herbs and potions, and he got well and lived to be quite old.  Not likely I say . . . but I admit to being a nit-picking skeptic. LOL

Callie and Phyllis - I've never read anything by Janet Evanovich, but I think it's high time I did!  Which of her books would you suggest that I read first?

Tomereader1

I'd just start with the first or second one, Evanovich, so you know the main character and her family/friends/cohorts.  I used to check them out as soon as a new one was published, but got lost about #19 or #20.  One day, I'll catch up.