Aunt Marge and the kids read in 2020

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Aunt Marge and the kids read in 2020

1auntmarge64
tammikuu 2, 2020, 7:30pm

I'm back with various nieces and nephews for 2020. As the year begins we range in age from 19 to 71 and have been doing Club Read together since 2010, when the youngest was 9. Even with the kids now busy with college, marriages, babies and careers, there's still an interest among them in keeping up the list, which delights me.

2auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: joulukuu 29, 2020, 3:11pm

Margaret
1. The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay ***
2. Hildegard of Bingen: The Woman of Her Age by Fiona Maddocks ****
3. The Bear by Andrew Krivak *****
4. The Last Dance by Martin L. Shoemaker ****
5. Fascism: A Warning by Madeleine Albright *****
6. After the Fire by Henning Mankell ***½
7. Stalker (Joona Linna, Book 5) by Lars Kepler ****
8. Hypnotist (Joona Linna, Book 1) by Lars Kepler ***
9. Italian Shoes by Henning Mankell ****
10. Amnesty by Aravind Adiga **
11. Sandman by Lars Kepler ****½
12. The Dalai Lama: An Extraordinary Life by Alexander Norman *****
13. The Nightmare by Lars Kepler ****
14. The Fire Witness by Lars Kepler ****
15. Before Familiar Woods by Ian Pisarcik ***½
16. The Rabbit Hunter by Lars Kepler ****½
17. The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal ***½
18. The Second Sleep by Robert Harris ***
19. Future Tense Fiction: Stories of Tomorrow ****
20. Under the Cold Bright Lights by Gary Disher ****½
21. The Thing Itself by Adam Roberts ****
22. The Holdout by Graham Moore ****½
23. Maestros and Their Music: The Art and Alchemy of Conducting by John Mauceri ****½
24. Masked Prey by John Sandford ***½
25. Permafrost by Alastair Reynolds ****
26. The End of October by Lawrence Wright ****½
27. Anticopernicus by Adam Roberts ***½
28. Archangel by Angela Barrett ****
29. The Poison Flood by Jordan Farmer ****
30. Salvation Station by Kathryn Schleich ***½
31. Golden Scales by Parker Bilal ****
32. The Shock of the fall by Nathan Filer ****
33. A Children's Bible by Lydia Millet ***½
34. Benjamin 2073 by Rjurik Davidson **
35. Network Effect: A Murderbot Novel by Martha Wells ****½
36. Britain B.C. by Francis Pryor ****
37. Jack Glass by Adam Roberts ****½
38. A Treatise on Shelling Beans by Wiesław Myśliwski ****½
39. Foundation by Isaac Asimov ****
40. Redhead By the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler ***
41. The Epic of Gilgamesh (edition by Stephen Mitchell) *****
42. Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett ****
43. Unrecognized Nations - Travels to countries that do not Exist by Guilherme Canever ***
44. Salvation by Peter F. Hamilton ****
45. Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary Trump *****
46. On the Ganges: Encounters with Saints and Sinners Along India's Mythic River by George Black ***½
47. What It's Like to Be a Bird by David Allen Sibley ****
48. Salvation Lost by Peter F. Hamilton ****
49. Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town by Barbara Demick *****
50. The Last Day by Andrew Hunter Murray ***
51. Bloody Genius by John Sandford ***
52. Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell *****
53. Don't let go by Harlan Coban ****
54. The Last Trial by Scott Turow ****½
55. Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes ****
56. Interference by Brad Parks ****
57. The Boy in the Field by Margot Livesey ****½
58. After You'd Gone by Maggie O'Farrell ****
59. White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity by Robert P. Jones *****
60. Dark Matter by Blake Crouch ****
61. The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson *****
62. Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon by James Hibberd ****
63. The Dragon Man by Garry Disher ***½
64. Kittyhawk Down by Gerry Disher ***½
65. Snapshot by Garry Disher ***½
66. Composers by DK ****
67. Beartown by Fredrik Backman *****
68. Wenger: My Life and Lessons in Red and White by Arsene Wenger ****
69. All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny ****
70. A Better Man by Louise Penny ****
71. A Rule Against Order by Louise Penny ****
72. Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny ****
73. The Hangman by Louise Penny ***
74. A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny ****½
75. The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny ****
76. How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny ****
77. The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny ***½
78. Morning i the Burned House by Margaret Atwood ****
79. Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy *****

Caitlin
1. The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld ***
2. Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan *****
3. Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan *****
4. The Titans Curse by Rick Riordan *****
5. The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan *****
6. The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan *****
7. The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan ****
8. When I Was You by Minka Kent ****
9. Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan *****
10. The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan *****
11. The House of Hades by Rick Riordan *****
12. The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan *****
13. The Leaving by Tara Altebrando ***
14. Little Bird *****
15. Arctic Love ***
16. I Love to Hate You ***
17. Hateful Love ***
18. Dear Draco ***
19. Breath Mints/Battle Scars ****
20. Isolation *****
21. Manacled *****
22. The Right Thing to Do *****
23. All the Wrong Things ****
24. The Auction ****
25. A Cruel and Beautiful World *****
26. Cupere ***

Kristen
1. Winning Balance by Shawn Johnson ***½
2. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens *****
3. Fellowship of the Ring by JRR Tolkien ****½
4. American Wife by Taya Kyle *****
5. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein ****
6. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown *****

3auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: joulukuu 29, 2020, 3:09pm

My finished books by year of publication

c2100 BC
The Epic of Gilgamesh (edition by Stephen Mitchell) *****

1951
Foundation by Isaac Asimov ****

1995
Morning in the Burned House by Margaret Atwood ****

1999
Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett ****
The Dragon Man by Garry Disher ***½

2000
After You'd Gone by Maggie O'Farrell ****

2001
Hildegard of Bingen: The Woman of Her Age by Fiona Maddocks ****

2003
Britain B.C. by Francis Pryor ****
Kittyhawk Down by Gerry Disher ***½

2005
Snapshot by Garry Disher ***½

2006
Italian Shoes by Henning Mankell ****
A Treatise on Shelling Beans by Wiesław Myśliwski ****½

2009
Hypnotist (Joona Linna, Book 1) by Lars Kepler ***
A Rule Against Order by Louise Penny ****

2010
The Nightmare by Lars Kepler ****
The Hangman by Louise Penny ***

2011
The Fire Witness by Lars Kepler ****
Anticopernicus by Adam Roberts ***½

2012
Sandman by Lars Kepler ****½
Golden Scales by Parker Bilal ****
Jack Glass by Adam Roberts ****½
The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny ***½

2013
The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal ***½
Archangel by Angela Barrett ****
The Shock of the fall by Nathan Filer ****
How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny ****

2015
After the Fire by Henning Mankell ***½
The Thing Itself by Adam Roberts ****
The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny ****

2016
Stalker (Joona Linna, Book 5) by Lars Kepler ****
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch ****
A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny ****½

2017
The Rabbit Hunter by Lars Kepler ****½
Maestros and Their Music: The Art and Alchemy of Conducting by John Mauceri ****½
Beartown by Fredrik Backman *****

2018
Fascism: A Warning by Madeleine Albright *****
Salvation by Peter F. Hamilton ****
On the Ganges: Encounters with Saints and Sinners Along India's Mythic River by George Black ***½
Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch ****½
Don't let go by Harlan Coban ****
Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny ****

2019
The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay ***
The Last Dance by Martin L. Shoemaker ****
The Second Sleep by Robert Harris ***
Future Tense Fiction: Stories of Tomorrow ****
Under the Cold Bright Lights by Gary Disher ****½
Permafrost by Alastair Reynolds ****
Salvation Lost by David Allen Sibley ****
Bloody Genius by John Sandford ***
A Better Man by Louise Penny ****

2020
The Bear by Andrew Krivak *****
Amnesty by Aravind Adiga **½
The Dalai Lama: An Extraordinary Life by Alexander Norman *****
Before Familiar Woods by Ian Pisarcik ***½
The Holdout by Graham Moore ****½
Masked Prey by John Sandford ***½
The End of October by Lawrence Wright ****½
The Poison Flood by Jordan Farmer ****
Salvation Station by Kathryn Schleich ***½
A Children's Bible by Lydia Millet ***½
Benjamin 2073 by Rjurik Davidson ***½
Network Effect: A Murderbot Novel by Martha Wells ****½
Redhead By the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler ***
Unrecognized Nations - Travels to countries that do not Exist by Guilherme Canever ***
Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary Trump *****
What It's Like to Be a Bird: From Flying to Nesting, Eating to Singing--What Birds Are Doing, and Why by David Allen Sibley ****
Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town by Barbara Demick *****
The Last Day by Andrew Hunter Murray ***
Long Bright River by Liz Moore ****
Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell *****
The Last Trial by Scott Turow ****½
Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes ****
Interference by Brad Parks ****
The Boy in the Field by Margot Livesey ****½
White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity by Robert P. Jones *****
The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson *****
Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon by James Hibberd ****
Composers by DK ****
Wenger: My Life and Lessons in Red and White by Arsene Wenger ****
All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny ****
Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy *****

4auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 2, 2020, 7:57pm

I read a lot during the end of the year but fell woefully behind in posting reviews, so I'll start fresh with this thread. The books I finished but left unreviewed were:

Lost Boy, Lost Girl by Peter Straub ****
Blue Moon by Lee Child ****
The Butterfly Girl by Rene Denfield ***½
The Drowned World by J. G. Ballard **½ (a very decent story but very racist.)
The Night Fire by Michael Connelly ****½
Not on Fire, but Burning: A Novel by Greg Hrbek ****½
A Dream in Polar Fog by Juri Rytcheu ****
Hild by Nicola Griffith *****
The Body in Question by Jill Ciment **

5BLBera
tammikuu 2, 2020, 10:08pm

Happy New Year, Margaret. You have a wonderful tradition with your reading family. I look forward to see what you will be reading this year.

6brodiew2
tammikuu 3, 2020, 1:52pm

Happy new year, Marge! I'm glad to see you back in the saddle.

I hope to be around more this year. Last year was pretty dismal on a couple of different fronts including my reading production.

I'm starting my third read of Foundation, a favorite of mine. The original trilogy is tops.

7NanaCC
tammikuu 3, 2020, 2:41pm

Happy New Year, Margaret. I’ll be looking over your shoulder to see what you are reading.

8avaland
tammikuu 4, 2020, 6:50am

Yes, joining the chorus, Happy New Year!

>4 auntmarge64: I had the same problem. I'm hoping to review the backlog this year, though.

9kidzdoc
tammikuu 4, 2020, 1:29pm

Happy New Year, Margaret!

10markon
tammikuu 4, 2020, 4:19pm

Happy New Year! I see you read Hild by Nicola Griffith and liked it. I'm not aware that she's published anything recently, but liked some of her earlier work.

11dchaikin
tammikuu 4, 2020, 9:17pm

Happy New Year. Following.

12auntmarge64
tammikuu 6, 2020, 9:53pm

>5 BLBera:, >6 brodiew2:, >7 NanaCC:, >8 avaland:, >9 kidzdoc:, >10 markon:, >11 dchaikin:

Thanks, everyone. It's good to be back.

>10 markon: Ardene, I loved Hild and looked at Griffith's blog to see if she's going to follow through on the trilogy. She says she's been working on the 2nd one for several years, it's very long, and she's finding it slow-going developing a convincing story that fits with the few known facts. I think she's looking at a couple more years. I'm not much of a historical fiction reader, but the time period (7th c) is so unmined. What an imagination.

13OscarWilde87
tammikuu 7, 2020, 2:03pm

Happy New Year! I'll be lurking!

14auntmarge64
tammikuu 15, 2020, 5:20pm



The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay *** 1/14/20

I'm a sucker for novels that take place in bookstores, but while this will definitely appeal to lovers of chick lit, it was too predictable for my tastes.

I loved the description of the bookstore in question, a small town gem beloved by residents. When the equally-beloved owner dies, she leaves the store to her semi-estranged niece, an attorney vying for a vacant partnership at her prestigious firm in nearby Chicago. She walks into a situation for which she's ill-prepared, especially for the suspicion of the bookstore's employees, who don't understand the bequest because the niece never visited her aunt (family issues). Of course, the aunt knew best and you can rather guess there's a happy ending. A pleasant read but not a literary one.

15auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 23, 2020, 4:00pm

I've gotten somewhat addicted to books put out by Archipelago Books, the publisher who released The Birds by Tarjei Vesaas last year. Brooklyn PL, from which I borrow my ebooks, has over 150 of them and I've put many on my wish list. At the end of last year I read A Dream in Polar Fog by Yuri Rytkheu, a wonderful tale of an injured American sailor left behind with the natives of the Chukchi peninsula in Russia just at the time the outside world was discovering its riches. The author is Chukchi, and much of the mythology and details of life in the early 20th c. is drawn from what he learned from his elders. Just a wonderful book that I wanted to be sure to praise here since I didn't do a review.

Archipelago Books specializes in English translations of world literature with an aim to "dissolve stereotypes and reveal our common humanity". The website can be searched by language of origin, which gives an indication of the broad range of publications. https://archipelagobooks.org/

16valkyrdeath
tammikuu 16, 2020, 5:19pm

>15 auntmarge64: Thanks for this link, I'm always looking for more books in translation and that looks like a treasure trove for them!

17AnnieMod
tammikuu 16, 2020, 5:32pm

>15 auntmarge64: >16 valkyrdeath:

There are also Pushkin Press (https://www.pushkinpress.com/), Europa Editions (https://www.europaeditions.com/) and the University of Chicago Press (https://www.press.uchicago.edu/books.html) - while not as specialized as Archipelago Books, they tend to have pretty impressive translation catalogs... :)

From the smaller presses, you may want to check Tilted Axis (https://www.tiltedaxispress.com/books - give some time to the page to load its images), "And Other Stories" (https://www.andotherstories.org/) and Deep Vellum (https://deepvellum.org/) - they all publish a lot of translations, a lot of them from more exotic languages.

18mabith
tammikuu 16, 2020, 5:55pm

I've been having bad luck with books set in bookstores. Too many that seem written solely to sell to book clubs!

19arubabookwoman
tammikuu 16, 2020, 8:49pm

I love Archipelago Books too. I read A Dream in Polar Fog a number of years ago, and loved it. I own The Birds but have yet to read it.

20kidzdoc
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 17, 2020, 5:58am

I subscribed to Archipelago Books for several years, but cancelled it after its offerings weren't as interesting to me. A good friend in the 75 Books group said that their most recent books have been much more appealing to her, so I'll look through the Spring 2020 catalogue I received recently to see which titles I'd like to get.

Have you read The Chukchi Bible by Yuri Rytkheu? I own it but haven't gotten to it yet.

21auntmarge64
tammikuu 23, 2020, 4:15pm

>16 valkyrdeath: You're welcome! I love that there are other people in Club Read that like this kind of thing.

>17 AnnieMod: I have a few Pushkin Press books on my wish list but didn't know of the others. I'll take a look, though. Thanks for the recommendation.

>18 mabith: I've been having bad luck with books set in bookstores. Too many that seem written solely to sell to book clubs! It's so true, but I feel the need to try them anyway, you know?

>19 arubabookwoman: I loved The Birds! Hope you get to read it soon.

>20 kidzdoc: I haven't read The Chukchi Bible yet. Actually, I started it and then got busy doing other things so had to put it aside. It's a retelling of the myths of the Chukchi myths and what I read seemed very familiar after A Dream in Polar Fog.

Many of the Archipelago titles don't appeal to me, either, but then again, so many of them do. I have about 20 on my wish list to borrow and will report as I get to them. Occasionally I request one through Netgalley, which seems to have a couple every month or two.

22avaland
tammikuu 24, 2020, 9:46am

>15 auntmarge64: I Admit to personally boycotting Archipelago years ago when they rarely published a book written by a woman. It infuriated me at the time. I hope that has changed. There are so many other publishers of very good translated books, I didn't feel guilty. To add to Annie's list above: Hesperus, Norvik, Haus, Zepher, Other Press, Serpents Tale, Graywolf, Interlink.... O

23auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 29, 2020, 3:53pm



Hildegard of Bingen: The Woman of Her Age by Fiona Maddocks **** 1/22/20

I'm not normally a reader of religious biographies, but this is the second one I've read about Hildegard, a 12th century mystic, composer, writer, and philosopher whose advice and intercession were avidly sought by prelates, nobles, and common folk. Her work in music is what sparked my interest in her. That and the fact that she was tithed to the Church by her parents and spent at least some of her youth living with an anchorite at an otherwise male Benedictine monastery. The age of her enclosure is variously thought to be between 8 and 14. Just the thought of enclosure, a life of perpetual imprisonment, really gives me the willies.

The book is primarily a biography and history of the times. There are a couple of chapters which digress to discuss her spiritual and medical writings, and I largely skipped these since it's the music in which I was most interested. Except for those two chapters, and one on her music, this is a highly readable and informative general biography. Hildegard is considered by many to be a saint, although the canonization process has never been completed. But in 2012 she was named a "Doctor of the Church", an extraordinarily rare and high honor with only 35 recipients over the Church's history.

Hildegard was among the very first women whose music was written down, and she is believed to have written the earliest allegorical morality play by more than a century. I once tried to transcribe one of her songs into modern notation, but it's pretty much impossible because of the lack of defined tempo. We have no sure knowledge of how Hildegard's music was performed, but modern scholarship gives us some hints, and during the 20th century recordings were made by several groups in line with suggestions of how they might have been sung. You can hear one of these interpretations at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ei88J4lERbk.

24auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 29, 2020, 3:54pm

>22 avaland: Huh, I admit that's something I hadn't noticed. If you take another look and it's gotten better, I'd be interested in knowing. And thanks for the other suggestions, which I'm going to check out as soon as I catch up on one more review!

25auntmarge64
tammikuu 24, 2020, 1:34pm



The Bear by Andrew Krivak ***** 2/23/20

A pitch-perfect little gem.

A father and his young daughter are the last two humans. They know little of the society that is no more, and they have no need to know what disaster ended it. The two have a small cabin on a mountain and live a hunter-gatherer life, the father teaching the girl all he knows as soon as she is old enough to take it in. The mother is buried on top of the mountain, and each year on the girl's birthday they travel to it to honor and remember her. It's a simple life that suits the two. When the girl is a young teenager she is forced by circumstances to find her way home alone from a long journey. How she manages this entails a bit of magical realism that fits right in to this haunting story.

Highly, highly recommended.

26bragan
tammikuu 25, 2020, 8:02pm

>25 auntmarge64: I've just started this one. I'm only a very short way in, but I'm already really liking it. The writing is perfect.

27auntmarge64
tammikuu 25, 2020, 10:10pm

>26 bragan: The writing is perfect. Isn't it, though? I had a feeling after reading it that I'd witnessed perfection. The last time I felt that strongly about a book was after reading The Color Purple years ago.

I'm still having chills thinking about the end to The Bear. I've read several other books by Krivak and loved them all, but this one is going to hard to beat.

28BLBera
tammikuu 26, 2020, 10:23am

>25 auntmarge64: This sounds wonderful, Margaret. I will look for it. Great comments.

29markon
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 26, 2020, 1:53pm

>25 auntmarge64: >26 bragan: I'll have to put this author on my list. Really good writers are hard to find.

My library has The bear and The signal flame. I would also be interested in A long retreat

30RidgewayGirl
tammikuu 26, 2020, 4:55pm

>25 auntmarge64: Based on your comments about The Bear, I'm getting a copy for my husband.

31mabith
tammikuu 26, 2020, 9:11pm

>25 auntmarge64: I don't always get along with magical realism, but your review makes The Bear very tempting.

32brodiew2
tammikuu 29, 2020, 11:05am

>25 auntmarge64: Very high praise for The Bear and an excellent review, marge. I'll be giving it a try based on your say so.

33valkyrdeath
tammikuu 29, 2020, 4:02pm

>25 auntmarge64: Great review, I keep seeing this book around and I think you've just pushed me over the edge into feeling I need to read it now.

34auntmarge64
tammikuu 30, 2020, 5:25pm

I don't think I've ever reviewed a book that got such an enthusiastic response, so I really hope you all like The Bear. I'll be awaiting the reviews.

35auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 31, 2020, 10:22pm



The Last Dance by Martin L. Shoemaker **** 1/30/20

This was an offering in the monthly Amazon Prime First program, in which Prime members get early (and free) dibs on a one or more of several new Kindle books. I rarely bother because I have enough to read and these choices are often just titles they're trying to push, but I'll try pretty much any fiction set on Mars.

Later in this century, humanity is working out the kinks in maintaining a sustainable human presence on Mars. There are some permanent settlers, and there are a couple of ships that do regular slingshot runs between Earth/Luna and Mars, never actual pausing as they rendezvous with ships that dock on-the-fly to deliver and pick up people and supplies. The ship Aldrin is one of these vessels, and its captain has been charged with mutiny for refusing to obey orders from the governing body. A young but self-possessed Inspector General has been brought on board to investigate and decide the merits. She is suspicious of the official hurry, since the ship will not be at its destination for months. She has the official complaints and wants to hear the defense, but the extraordinarily loyal crew stonewalls her, forcing her to offer them off-the-record interviews. Their stories of the captain, known to be extremely abrasive and demanding, shows the parts of his history for which they were present, and quite a bit of it involves the early exploration of Mars and the difficulties of the human push to settle there.

The stories are an effective ploy, although the writing is occasionally awkward for what is presented as spoken narrative. I found myself drawn in to each person's testimony and to the Inspector's efforts to defuse a volatile situation between the crew and the soldiers brought aboard to apparently be something of a threat to both her and the crew. Matters are much more complicated than they appear in the official version (as might be expected) and she has her work cut out in reading between the lines. This is a definite read for Mars aficionados and for those who like either spaceship tales or courtroom dramas.

36jjmcgaffey
tammikuu 30, 2020, 9:49pm

>Ooh, I'll have to check that out. I read his Today I Am Carey and it was fantastic.

37brodiew2
Muokkaaja: helmikuu 7, 2020, 11:53am

Hi Marge! I hope all is well with you.

I am listening to The Institute by Stephen King and started The Way I Heard It by Mike Rowe, in print. Enjoying both.

38auntmarge64
helmikuu 16, 2020, 6:24pm

>37 brodiew2: Sounds interesting, Brodie!

39auntmarge64
helmikuu 16, 2020, 6:25pm



Fascism: A Warning by Madeleine Albright ***** 2/14/20

At a time when the word "fascist" is blithely applied to political enemies of all ilks, it's useful to have someone as knowledgeable and experienced as Albright clarify what the term actually means. This history, from Mussolini's Italy and Nazi Germany to the many other nations who have struggled with wannabe dictators, is not only succinct and informative but alarming, as it becomes obvious that Trump is following the trail, little by little. That little by little, of course, is how such things happen to otherwise sane countries, and this brief overview (about 250 pages of text) is the perfect answer to those who can't imagine a dictatorship overwhelming our own society.

40auntmarge64
helmikuu 16, 2020, 6:42pm



After the Fire by Henning Mankell ***½ 2/15/20

An absorbing character study of not only the main character, a disgraced old doctor living alone on a small Swedish island, but of the small community of mainlanders and islanders in which he lives. When his house burns down one night, the doctor is thrown into a future for which his circumstances don't bode well. He's insured, so the cops think he's an arsonist. His daughter, to whom he was introduced when she was already 30, is distant emotionally, although they do keep in touch sporadically. The few shops at the village on shore are peopled by old shopkeepers who have welcomed the doctor but not really made them one of their own. A young reporter comes to the island to interview the doctor, and they start a prickly friendship. And then there's the mailman, a hypochondriac who comes to the doctor regularly for various aches and pains, even though the doctor has instructed that he not deliver the mail. So, a true bunch of misfits who knock about against each other, needing each other but not wanting closeness.

I loved the majority of the book, which takes place in the village and on the island. When the doctor goes to Paris to answer a distress call from his daughter the tale gets somewhat flat. However, it picks up again when he returns home, discovers who the arsonist is, and picks up the threads of his life.

41dchaikin
helmikuu 16, 2020, 10:12pm

I just read arubabookwoman's review of After the Fire, also posted today. Seems you both like it well enough.

>39 auntmarge64: I might want to check this out. Scary what's happening - for the last three years, but especially since the senate showed indifference combined with how much voters seem so much less enthused than 2016.

42avaland
helmikuu 17, 2020, 6:32am

>39 auntmarge64: Glad you liked the Albright. I thought it both accessible and just the right length.

>40 auntmarge64: I miss reading Mankell. I wonder if enough time has elapsed from my last readings to reread....

43BLBera
helmikuu 22, 2020, 9:08am

>40 auntmarge64: This one sounds really good, Margaret. I read some Mankell books years ago and liked them. Somehow, I forgot about the series...

>39 auntmarge64: I should read this. Albright is so smart.

44auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: helmikuu 24, 2020, 6:25pm

>41 dchaikin: Dan, now I'm reading Mankell's first book about the disgraced doctor, Italian Shoes. It takes place about 10 years earlier. Reading them in reverse order doesn't seem to be affecting my enjoyment. :)

>42 avaland: I agree that the Albright was just the right length. If it had been 500 pages about politics I never would have picked it up, but 250 or less? That I can manage. It's such a painful subject now that it may be us we're talking about.

>43 BLBera: Albright really is smart - I've never read anything by her before but was impressed about how much she could say in so few words, and how clear she made the subject.

--------------

I've discovered the Swedish author Lars Kepler and his Joona Linna detective series. Since I started at a rather disjointed spot in the story (book 5, when Joona is actually thought to be dead), it took a while to get centered. Now I'm going to start with the beginning of the series and will report back later on.

45auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 1, 2020, 2:19pm



Italian Shoes by Henning Mankell **** 2/29/20

This is the earlier novel about the disgraced doctor featured above in After the Fire. The doctor isn't the most likable of characters, but I kind of miss him now that I'm done. Partly that's because the locale in which he lives, a small rocky island off the coast of Sweden, is so interesting, as are the other characters in the book. An interesting character study of old age, self-imposed loneliness, and coming to terms with one's mistakes (even while making more).

-----------------------

I've also finished The Hypnotist, the first in the Joona Linna detective series from the husband-and-wife team nicknamed Lars Kepler. I'm finding the series rather odd, because Joona Linna doesn't seem to be the main character. More as I progress in the series.

46avaland
maaliskuu 3, 2020, 4:51pm

>44 auntmarge64: To whom would you compare the Lars Kepler crime novels to?

47auntmarge64
maaliskuu 3, 2020, 6:01pm

>46 avaland: You know, I don't know that I can name anyone. In the two books I've read (no. 1 and 5), the main character was the hypnotist mentioned in the first book's title. Joona Linna shows up here and there, involving himself in cases where he has an interest. He doesn't seem particularly high in the hierarchy of the city's homicide detectives, but I guess he's so clever he can't be ignored. He irritates just about everyone, always telling people he was right (and them having to agree).

48auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 4, 2020, 9:49am



Amnesty by Aravind Adiga ** 3/2/20

I will be honestly interested in how others in Club Read review this book. Have I missed the point completely? Is it as monotonous as it seems? Or is that the point?

An illegal immigrant from Sri Lanka, Danny lives in Sydney, spending his days carting around his cleaning supplies to various private customers, letting himself in to work and then leaving with the cash pay left out by his customers. One morning as he is cleaning for his #4 customer, he notices that there is a large police presence at the home of customer #5, just behind #4. #5 has been murdered, and Danny realizes he may be the only person who knows of her relationship with his customer #6. So he finds himself with two problems: determining for himself whether he thinks #6 murdered #5, and what to do if the answer is positive. Danny really, really doesn't want to be deported, but his conscience demands that he consider turning himself in so he can give police the lead. All day he wanders around the city, thinking about his past, mulling over the potential disgrace of being sent back to his homeland, and taking calls from a rather threatening #6, who realizes Danny can identify him.

That's it. And let me tell you, reading about someone wandering around a city (detailed exhaustively almost minute-by-minute), is boring. How many times can Danny rethink the same line of debate and pass the same mundane landmarks before the reader wants it over, for goodness sake? There is a resolution, thank god, or I'd have had to throw the book out the window. Even the details of life as an illegal in Australia don't make this very interesting. Save some time - PM me if you want to know what he decides.

49auntmarge64
maaliskuu 6, 2020, 3:51pm



Sandman by Lars Kepler ****½ 3/5/20

This is the 4th in the Joona Linna Swedish suspense series. I'm reading them completely out of order according to what becomes available at the library. Nos. 1 and 5 seemed to be almost entirely about a different character, but in this book, that other character is absent and the story's action centers on, ta da!, Joona Linna. Knowing what happens in #5 made it weird reading this second, because this is a series in which there is definitely a continuing storyline. Excellent suspense - but read this one, at least, before reading #5 (Stalker).

50BLBera
maaliskuu 18, 2020, 10:56pm

>49 auntmarge64: I'll look for this series -- in order!

>48 auntmarge64: I will pass on this one, I think.

51NanaCC
maaliskuu 19, 2020, 11:04am

>49 auntmarge64: I’ve added this series to my wishlist, Margaret.

52auntmarge64
maaliskuu 21, 2020, 2:35pm

>50 BLBera: Hi Beth, yes, definitely pass on Amnesty!

>50 BLBera:, >51 NanaCC: Glad to have alerted you to the series. And yes, now that I've read the first five, I'd say the drama would be enhanced by reading them in order. Awaiting my turn on book 6, the latest.

53auntmarge64
maaliskuu 21, 2020, 2:38pm

Two more in the Joona Lina series:



The Nightmare by Lars Kepler ****



The Fire Witness by Lars Kepler ****

54auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 23, 2020, 10:14pm



The Dalai Lama: An Extraordinary Life by Alexander Norman ***** 3/16/20

A fine introduction to the history of the Dalai Lama tradition, the reign and death of the 13th Dalai Lama, the search for his reincarnation, and the history of our own 14th. The last 100 years in Tibet have been a time of traumatic change and sorrow for the people. The invasion by China, all but ignored by the rest of the world, has resulted in countless deaths and the destruction of a majority of cultural sites, including massive, relic-filled monasteries. Children are not allowed to learn their native language. Religion is largely outlawed. And the Tibetans themselves have been left destitute while their land has been scoured for resources the Chinese can use. And yet, despite his self-exile in India decades ago, the Dalai Lama remains the heart of the country, even for young people who have never lived in a Tibet in which he was resident. But he has not simply lived and taught in northern India, where he has built up a large Tibetan community. His outreach to the rest of the world has led to a wide recognition among the public of what has been done to Tibet and the value to be found in Tibetan Buddhism. The 14th has also made major changes in his own tradition's practices, resulting in discontent for some, and he's angered many Tibetans by his willingness to try to work with the Chinese to preserve the culture and religion of the country.

This book helps outsiders understand what his point has been in these efforts at reconciliation, and how he and other Tibetans see himself and his position. The Dalai Lama, for all that he appeals to Western audiences and is an avid student of Western science, still believes in the magical aspects of his tradition, and it's especially difficult to understand a person from such a foreign (to us) culture. I found here a view into the Dalai Lama's world, and perhaps a little into his mind, and that cannot have been an easy task for the author, who walks a thin line here between sounding like an outsider (he's not) and sounding like someone who finds no faults in either Tibetan Buddhism or the Dalai Lama tradition (he does). While he obviously greatly admires the current title holder and knows him quite well, he is careful to present all sides in the drama within Tibetan Buddhism as to the correctness of this Dalai Lama's actions.

55sallypursell
maaliskuu 23, 2020, 1:05pm

>54 auntmarge64: That sounds pretty gripping to me, Aunt Marge.

56markon
maaliskuu 23, 2020, 3:26pm

>54 auntmarge64: I also think that sounds fascinating, and my library owns it.

57NanaCC
maaliskuu 23, 2020, 5:12pm

>54 auntmarge64: I’m adding this one to my wishlist too, Margaret. When I might get to it is a totally different story.

58auntmarge64
maaliskuu 23, 2020, 10:13pm

>55 sallypursell:, >56 markon: I'm so glad it sounds good. I have so much respect for this Dalai Lama and I couldn't put it down, which is saying something because I've read other histories of both him and the tradition.

>57 NanaCC: Colleen, I hereby give you permission to wait till after the move :)

59auntmarge64
maaliskuu 27, 2020, 6:46pm



Before Familiar Woods by Ian Pisarcik ***½ 3/26/20

In a dying Vermont town, two teenage boys are found dead in their tent. The town turns on one of the families, blaming their son for the deaths. Three years later, the boys' fathers disappear together. What follows is a largely gentle character study of the town and its people, along with a slow suspense plot that eventually works out but isn't really the main theme.

60auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 1, 2020, 1:21pm



The Rabbit Hunter by Lars Kepler ****½

I've finished the Joona Linna detective series set in Sweden, at least as far as what's been published in the U.S. I would heartily recommend the series, but I do think it needs to be read in order for maximum drama of some of the elements.

--------------------------------



The Lady Astronaut of Mars by Mary Robinette Kowal ***½ 3/27/20

A short story/novella about a retired astronaut living on Mars who is approached for one last mission. The story takes place in the middle of a series, which I haven't read. But even standalone it works quite well.

61auntmarge64
huhtikuu 4, 2020, 7:10pm



The Second Sleep by Robert Harris *** 4/4/21

Post-apocalyptic dystopian fiction that never quite gels.

In a future middle ages, a young priest is sent on a 30-mile journey from Exeter to bury the priest of a small hamlet. He discovers that the priest was interested in antiquities, a heretical study condemned by the church with prison sentences, branding, and sometimes execution. Despite himself, the priest gets drawn into the subject and risks everything to try to uncover what the dead priest was searching for when he fell to his death from a nearby hill. It's an interesting premise, has the feel of "A Canticle for Leibowitz" to some extent, but it doesn't quite hold together, and the ending didn't work with the book as a whole.

62avaland
huhtikuu 5, 2020, 7:29am

So how would you describe the Kepler crime novels? How complex? How much of his books are thriller content and how much the more cerebral investigation? Any other author you might liken him to? I've been off crime novels for a bit, in that I'm all caught up with my favorites and have been scanning around for a new name (I prefer a good meal rather than fast food crime novels. I've bought the 1st installment by a UK author, Michael Ridpath, so am hoping that might pan out. Rankin must have a new one coming....but I hear book printing ...etc has been affected by the pandemic, too.

63BLBera
Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 5, 2020, 11:12pm

Hi Margaret -

The Dalai Lama book sounds fascinating.

I agree about The Second Sleep; the premise sounds fascinating, but I have read quite a bit of dystopian fiction and this one didn't convince me. The ending did not work; I wonder if the author is thinking about a sequel...

I will get to the Kepler books one of these days...

Stay well.

64auntmarge64
huhtikuu 6, 2020, 2:34pm

>62 avaland: Lois, perhaps I can just share a few observations on the Kepler novels. The first book is the weakest, so plan on reading at least two before deciding whether to continue. Various characters take center stage in different books, so although the overall plot does center on Joona Linna and his work and life, some of this is obvious only after several books have been finished. In fact, the six I read form their own arc. It's an odd series (and probably partly feels that way because I read them out of order), with atypical main characters whose actions are not always explained. Because the central character changes from book to book, the series isn't straightforward thriller or investigation. There are cases to be solved in each book, but there is also an overriding case that affects all the characters throughout the arc. So I guess I'd say they're about half thriller, half investigation.

Don't know if that helps, but it's the best I can manage, I think. I hope you'll try them, though. Then you can tell me what you think :)

65auntmarge64
huhtikuu 6, 2020, 2:40pm

>63 BLBera: Hi Beth

I sure hope The Second Sleep doesn't have a sequel, and I wouldn't read it, anyway. Fool me once, as they say. The ending was awful - it felt to me like the author ran out of ideas and just wrapped it up as conveniently as possible. Actually, I thought many of the characters' actions didn't make sense, either.

You stay well too. I've been quarantining for three weeks now. I wonder how long before we'll all trust enough to get to others again.

66rhian_of_oz
huhtikuu 8, 2020, 11:06am

>60 auntmarge64: I'm so excited - I didn't know this series was extending beyond two books!

67auntmarge64
huhtikuu 8, 2020, 2:49pm

>66 rhian_of_oz: It just gets better, too. :)

68BLBera
huhtikuu 8, 2020, 2:56pm

>65 auntmarge64: I would also pass on a sequel. I just felt his world building was not that great - lots of unexplained stuff. There are some excellent dystopian novels out there, and this sure wasn't one of them.

69avaland
huhtikuu 9, 2020, 11:23am

>64 auntmarge64: Thanks much for the input. I'll put it on the list. I just bought the first in Michael Ridpath's series, so we'll see how that goes. I would be good for me to finish the 4 or 5 books I'm skipping between now, first.

70auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 11, 2020, 5:25pm



Future Tense Fiction: Stories of Tomorrow **** 4/8/20

Entertaining short stories set on near-future Earth. They reminded me of John Wyndham - sci fi light, as I think of it. Nothing too strenuous, just a bunch of clever stories that move current science ahead a few years to see what might happen if certain ideas come to fruition. Very enjoyable, and a book that's easy to whip right through. One story is that mentioned by Markon in "Avaland and Dukedom_Enough's Reading 2020"'s thread, When Robot and Crow saved East St. Louis.

71auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 12, 2020, 4:57pm



Under the Cold Bright Lights by Garry Disher ****½ 4/9/2020

Disher is a new author for me, although he's written many books, mostly set in Australia. This book was billed as a stand-alone, which seemed a good way to be introduced, but having read the book, I hope very much this will be the first of a series.

Detective Alan Auhl, a burned-out 50-something homicide cop, has returned after five years to work cold cases. He lives in an old 3-story house left to him by his parents, and he fills the house with troubled souls, students, and visiting professors; his estranged wife (who comes and goes to her second floor rooms and occasionally allows him to spend the night with her), and their college student daughter (third floor). His relationship with the other cold-case staff begins tentatively because of his age, but that changes as they realize what a valuable co-worker he can be. Auhl is a wonderful main character, a dogged detective who cares about the people around him and the victims and families whose cases he works, but capable of surprising actions when he feels they're warranted. I ended the book with great respect for him, tinged with wondering what this man is capable of doing in the future.

I was hooked from the first few pages. Highly recommended. And now I'm off to look for more by the author.

72auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 13, 2020, 7:27pm



The Thing Itself by Adam Roberts **** 4/12/20

The start of the book description hooked me: Adam Roberts turns his attention to answering the Fermi Paradox with a taut and claustrophobic tale that echoes John Carpenters' The Thing. IOW: philosophy, science and/or science fiction, and Antarctica, all among my primary interests. Oh, and an atheist's thoughts on why we might just find there is a god of some sort, depending on how one defines such things.

Two scientists station themselves in remote Antarctica for the winter, to listen for intergalactic noise in the search for life "out there". But one of the scientists is also intent on proving that Kant's philosophy can be used to solve the Paradox, if he can only tune the computers right and get rid of his companion.

Most of the story takes place after they've left Antarctica. Alternating with the main plot are separate stories that take place in different times and places and describe some of the ways in which the experiment affects people and history. These interludes are interesting stories in themselves, but even having finished the book I'm not exactly sure what all of them meant.

This is one of those books I'd call philosophical science fiction. It's scary, unsettling, and brilliant, and best of all requires readers to consider that our own perceptions may be very limited in intuiting reality. I don't know how long the average person can hold themselves in that state, but it's certainly worthwhile to shake oneself up sometimes, even if only temporarily before we sink back into our (perhaps slightly altered) previous points of view. I

73lisapeet
huhtikuu 13, 2020, 6:51pm

>72 auntmarge64: I just clicked on this the other day so your review is making me think I did right. Sounds really neat.

74auntmarge64
huhtikuu 13, 2020, 7:29pm

>73 lisapeet:. And now I'm wondering what I've been been missing in his other books.

75bragan
huhtikuu 14, 2020, 10:18am

>72 auntmarge64: Every time I read a description of an Adam Roberts novel, I immediately want it. And then I remind myself that I still haven't read the copy of Yellow Blue Tibia I've had sitting on my shelves for far, far too long. Well. Story of my life, really.

76avaland
Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 15, 2020, 6:24am

>75 bragan: And to think, by day Roberts is teaching & writing about the Victorians
(look under the tab, "publications")

77auntmarge64
huhtikuu 20, 2020, 4:50pm

>75 bragan: I just bought Yellow Blue Tibia so I'll be reading it soon. :)

>76 avaland: I saw that he writes about them. Quite an active mind, that one.

78auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 21, 2020, 2:51pm



The Holdout by Graham Moore ****½ 4/19/20

Engrossing courtroom drama/suspense novel with three murders and lots of suspects.

A sensational murder trial, a shocking not guilty verdict, and a sequestered jury whose lives are changed forever by the notoriety. Ten years later, Maya Seale, the juror who changed the minds of the other eleven, is a successful defense attorney when she is approached by one of the other jurors, Rick Leonard, with whom she both had an affair and argued endlessly during deliberations. He wants to have a jury reunion at which he will prove, absolutely, that he was right in the first place before pressured to change his vote. At first hesitant, Maya is coaxed into going by her boss. That evening, one of the jurors is found dead in Maya's room, and while she waits to be charged with murder, she works to find the guilty party.

Race relations are a prime consideration here, both for the jurors and the reader. The original accused man was a black teacher accused of an inappropriate relationship with the murder victim, a wealthy 15-year old white girl. Maya is white, Rick is black. All the jurors wrestle with thoughts on how much, if any, the racial aspect of the case is affecting them. In the present, the two murders that occur are both of black men, a fact I thought was either stupidly accidental or a rather subtle message from the author. Either way, if you like suspense, this is a perfect book for wiling away some of the coronavirus quarantine.

79auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 29, 2020, 4:15pm



Maestros and Their Music: The Art and Alchemy of Conducting by John Mauceri ****½ 4/25/20

A wonderfully informative and entertaining guide to the world of orchestral conducting, for all of us who aren't conductors and are curious. Chapters include:

1. A Short History of Conducting
2. The Technique of Conducting
3. How Do You Learn an Orchestral Score?
4. How Do You Learn to be a Conductor?
5. What Makes One Conductor's Performance Different from Another's?
6. Relationships with: Music, Musicians, the Audience, Critics, Owner/Management
7. Who's in Charge?
8. The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Maestro
9. Recordings vs. Performances

Mauceri was a protege of Bernstein's, for whom he conducted many world premieres. He's spent over 50 years leading symphonic, operatic and balletic orchestras, and he's a natural storyteller and, like Bernstein, can make the musical world interesting and easy to understand. Here he leans on his many engagements around the world and his friendships with musicians, composers and other conductors to explain the mystery of just what it is the conductor brings to the process of classical performance. In addition to the traditional oeuvre, this includes very modern and new works, film scores, and the revival (or revisal) of well-known pieces.

To me, the most interesting topics were the techniques of conducting, the learning of scores, the place of critics, and the relationships between various conductors. For instance, I never knew that conductors are trained to use the right hand to conduct tempos and the left to signify just about everything else: intensity, volume, emotion, whatever. Now I can't watch a performance without checking this out. Just try patting your head with one hand while doing a variety of other meaningful gestures with your other. Learning scores is also somewhat of a miracle to me. I've often told an organist friend that I'm jealous and amazed at his ability to read music vertically, with multiple finger and foot positions for each beat or part of a beat. (I'm firmly in the one-note-at-a-time crowd, useful for French horn and choral work). Take a look at an orchestral score, which has much more going on at any one moment in time than any keyboard score, and it's clear how incredibly complicated it is to follow. To actually learn it, to know what is happening with each instrument or voice within each beat, is an almost unbelievably complex undertaking, yet this is required of any conductor expecting to lead even semi-professional groups. To conduct a group like the Berlin Philharmonic or Met Opera, you'd better know every single note and be sure of why you want each note played by each instrument to sound in a certain way. And this is one of the reasons Mauceri has little positive to say about critics, who rarely know the music well or care what the history of its performance may have been. They make their remarks often without any idea of what the conductor is trying to do, or even what the composer originally intended, never mind a deep understanding of the music itself.

The author's stories of other conductors are priceless. Appointments, interpretations, and critical reviews: they're all fodder for long-distance rivalries between the high-strung musicians who take on the challenge of conducting for a living. Having read some on the histories of Furtwangler and von Karajan during the Nazi years, I was very, very interested to hear Mauceri's views. von Karajan, well known as a member of the Nazi party (if only as an expedient move) and a willing performer for the German rulers, detested Bernstein, and vice versa. Mauceri repeats Bernstein's comment to him after he reluctantly attended a luncheon at von Karajan's home: von Karajan was, Bernstein said, his first Nazi. Chilling, isn't it? Just imagine how Bernstein must have felt in von Karajan's presence. Furtwangler, on the other hand, remained in Germany for most of the war in order to save German musical culture and musicians. He argued publicly and in-person with Hitler and his aides, refused to make the Nazi salute even in Hitler's presence, and fought ferociously to keep Jewish musicians in the Berlin Philharmonic. When he was threatened with being sent to a concentration camp, he told them to go ahead, that at least he'd be in good company. He was too popular, though, for them to do much more than threaten him and remove him from the positions he held. He finally left Germany two days before an arrest became imminent in 1945.

The book fills a gap the average classical music lover may not realize is there, and I'm finding it's enriching the many orchestral performances I watch. Well-worth reading for the information, the stories, and the understanding it will bring to watching or listening to music.

80auntmarge64
huhtikuu 27, 2020, 2:46pm



Masked Prey by John Sandford ***½ 4/26/20

Number 30 in the Lucas Davenport series. Not quite as enjoyable as some of the series because I prefer to read about Lucas rather than too much about the perpetrators, which this had in abundance. Still, if you read this series, it's a must.

81auntmarge64
huhtikuu 27, 2020, 4:08pm



Permafrost by Alastair Reynolds **** 4/26/20

Fifty-some years in the future, a global die-off of insects has cascaded through the ranks of animals of every kind. Seeds no longer sprout in the dead soil, and the last generation of humans is growing up. Scientists undertake a trip to the past to steal seeds they believe may produce enough crop in the dead soil to allow humanity to survive. The hope is to get in, leave a cache of seeds where they can find them in the future, and get out without causing a disturbance in the timeline. It's pretty clever, although done somewhat on the fly since they're quite desperate and aren't entirely sure of all the parameters.

A short novel with no wasted words, enough science to make you wonder, and characters that seem very real. Excellent reading for coronavirus shut-ins.

82nancyewhite
huhtikuu 27, 2020, 5:11pm

>79 auntmarge64: With this review, you have accomplished something I would have argued was impossible an hour ago. You've made a book about conducting orchestral music sound absolutely enthralling. Brava!

83auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 28, 2020, 7:50pm

>82 nancyewhite:. Well, thank you! I was rather surprised myself at how interesting the book was. I subscribe to the Berlin Philharmonic's Digital Concert Hall and spend many hours watching the 100s of performances that are available, and I've been increasingly curious about how conductors relate to the musicians and why some are so detested and others so highly regarded. Personality, yes, but so much more, surely. I have at least some answers now.

84BLBera
toukokuu 2, 2020, 12:54pm

I do follow the Sandford series, Margaret, and will get to his new one eventually.

The Thing Itself is the title that most intrigued me although you are doing a LOT of good reading. Great comments.

85auntmarge64
toukokuu 7, 2020, 7:15pm

>84 BLBera: I think you'll like The Thing Itself, Beth. I'm reading more by this author and so far he seems preoccupied with both the existence of aliens (and whether we'd even recognize them as lifeforms) and the implications of their existence to human assumptions about reality. A mixed bag, but an interesting author.

86auntmarge64
toukokuu 7, 2020, 7:16pm



The End of October by Lawrence Wright ****½ 5/5/20

If you want to scare the daylights out of yourself about Covid-19, read this. Although literally just published when I read it, and therefore written before the pandemic, you'll think the author was able to predict events and responses to what's happened. He even got Trump's attitude and actions spot on.

A pandemic strikes the world. It's a flu-like virus ("just a bad flu", remember that?) that takes off before it's even recognized. In this case, the epicenter is a Hajj, from which worshipers spread out around the world after being infected by a pilgrim from southeast Asia. Things get to about where we are now, and then just as people are hoping to get back to normal, the second and more deadly wave arrives, as is predicted for Covid-19. This is where the book gets pretty terrifying, not because this kind of tale hasn't been written before but because it's so prescient and on target up to this point. I won't say what happens, but it ain't good.

I thought this would be just a run-of-the-mill pandemic thriller, but it's quite a bit better than that. Not perfect, but you won't be able to put it down.

87auntmarge64
toukokuu 7, 2020, 7:34pm



Anticopernicus by Adam Roberts ***½ 5/6/20

A short tale with two story lines that intersect: a ship is sent from Earth for "first contact" with aliens who won't come closer than the Oort cloud, and a pilot not chosen for that mission takes on a routine delivery mission to Mars. The outcome raises an intriguing philosophical question about the place of humans in the universe.

---------------



Yellow Blue Tibia by Adam Roberts ***

I should add here that I recently tried and failed to finish a different Roberts book, Yellow Blue Tibia. I read about 2/3, and you'd think I'd finish the damn thing, but I found it too irritating. Pure farce, probably well-done, but not my cup of tea. But here again Roberts seems concerned with what alien life would mean for us, especially metaphysically. (Sorry, dukedom_enough, it just didn't do it for me.....) :(

88kidzdoc
toukokuu 8, 2020, 10:38am

I suspect that many of us will read The End of October this summer. Thanks for reading and reviewing it, Margaret.

89auntmarge64
toukokuu 9, 2020, 1:35pm

Hope people do, Darryl - it's quite sobering, thriller or not.

90auntmarge64
toukokuu 9, 2020, 1:37pm



Archangel by Angela Barrett **** 5/9/20

Five connected stories set in the late 18th-early 19th centuries, each about a character who is discovering new ways to think about science and the investigation of the natural world. Wonderful.

91lisapeet
Muokkaaja: toukokuu 9, 2020, 2:44pm

>90 auntmarge64: I liked that one a lot—time period, subject matter, and her writing.

92wandering_star
toukokuu 9, 2020, 11:12pm

>90 auntmarge64:, >91 lisapeet: - I am a huge fan of Andrea Barrett too. The Voyage of the Narwhal is a particular favourite.

93NanaCC
toukokuu 10, 2020, 1:36pm

>80 auntmarge64: I will have to add this series to my wishlist, Margaret. If you are on book #30, it must be a good one.

94auntmarge64
toukokuu 10, 2020, 5:30pm

>91 lisapeet:, >92 wandering_star: My library does have The Voyage of the Narwhal for Kindle, as well as Ship Fever, one of her other story collections. I've added them to my TBR list.

>93 NanaCC: Hi Colleen - I'll be interested in what you think. I've read most of the series twice.

95auntmarge64
toukokuu 11, 2020, 3:42pm



The Poison Flood by Jordan Farmer **** 5/11/20

Hollis Bragg, a severely hunchbacked musician and composer, lives a secluded life in a cabin in rural West Virginia. His fire-and-brimstone preacher father is dead, and his mother was long gone early in his childhood. He makes a meager living supplying new songs to a well-known band whose lead singer grew up near him and who was briefly his girlfriend. Hollis's composition of the band's songs has long been hidden from the public, who believes the lead singer writes them, but he's ready to end the arrangement and concentrate on the music he hears now, a new type for him that doesn't fit into the band's repertoire.

As the story opens, several events which will spur a major change in Holls's future occur within days of each other. He's approached by Russell Watson, a wealthy young local who realizes who Hollis is and wants to get him writing for his own band, one of those groups that dress like zombies and scream and shout their anger. He offers to buy one of Hollis's collectible guitars and the new music he's writing. His sidekick is a rabble-rouser who's trying to get the locals interested in fighting the powers that be over the pollution caused, primarily, by a plant owned by Russell's family. Russell is all in, except he doesn't realize the sacrifices that will be demanded by his friend. Then there's a breach in a chemical holding tank at the Watson facility and it poisons the local river and aquifer, giving immediacy to the protests. Meanwhile, a woman who claims to be writing a photo book on malformed bodies approaches Hollis, although she doesn't tell him who hired her and it makes a huge difference. Hollis's backstory is interspersed throughout the book so we get a clear idea of how he feels about his body and the monstrous father who "raised" him but wouldn't let him enter the church because of his deformed back. We also see how Hollis relates to his music and how his new song cycle is forming day-to-day.

I couldn't put the book down, but it did seem sometimes that too much was happening in too short a timespan. I imagined more of a character study, which is part of what it is, but the action was sometimes overwhelming. However, I do highly recommend the book for all parts various parts, even if they don't always quite gell. An unusual protagonist and setting, that's for sure.

96auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: toukokuu 25, 2020, 1:36pm



Salvation Station by Kathryn Schleich ***½ 5/22/20

A quick read that kept my attention, but it wasn't great literature.

A police captain is drawn into the triple murder of a minister and his two small children. The mother is missing. It becomes clear very quickly, to both the police and the reader, that the mother is probably the murderer and that she may kill again, so the chase is on. Meanwhile, in another state, a minor televangelist whose show is about to fail due to lack of funds is approached by a woman who has wonderful ideas for increasing the church's viability. Against his better judgement, the he accepts her help.

So it's a matter of whether the police can find this woman before she adds to her victim total. Told rather breathlessly with little character development, so perhaps the ideal beach or corona virus read. An extra half-star because I was interested enough to actually finish it.

97sallypursell
toukokuu 22, 2020, 9:58pm

>96 auntmarge64: Your link to this book goes to a completely different book. Where do I report this?

This book did sound a really good escape kind of book.

98jjmcgaffey
toukokuu 22, 2020, 11:43pm

>97 sallypursell: It's just a wrong touchstone - the system can't tell easily among books with similar titles. On the right, when you create a touchstone, there's a link that says (others) - if the link it gives isn't right, you click that and find the right one.

Salvation Station Here's a correct touchstone.

99sallypursell
toukokuu 23, 2020, 2:34pm

>98 jjmcgaffey: Thanks, Jen, I always wondered what that "others" thing was for.

100auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: toukokuu 25, 2020, 1:37pm

>97 sallypursell: Thanks, Sally. I've corrected it.

101auntmarge64
toukokuu 25, 2020, 1:38pm



Golden Scales by Parker Bilal **** 5/24/20

The first in a series featuring an ex-pat Sudanese policeman eking out a living as a private detective in Cairo. Having fled his country after its takeover by Islamists and the death at their hands of his wife and daughter, Markana rents a small floating structure on a riverbank and tries to earn enough to survive. He is approached by one of richest men in Cairo, one of the breed of gangsters who decide to go straight after making their fortunes. The star of his professional soccer team is missing, and, unsure of who he can trust, he wants someone to whom he has no connections otherwise. Multiple connected mysteries crop up, most prominently the murder of an Englishwoman who comes to Cairo each year to search for the daughter who disappeared almost 20 years ago as a young child.

The story is intense and interesting, and Cairo is certainly an unusual venue for the average English-speaking mystery reader. The action primarily takes place among people on two economic levels: the wealthy, who live in towers and barely notice people not in their own class (doesn't that sound familiar?), and the very, very poor, whose hovels often crouch at the foot of the towers. There's also quite a bit of information about the Islamist seizure of Sudan and what that meant for educated and professional people. Very rewarding reading.

102RidgewayGirl
toukokuu 26, 2020, 2:38pm

>101 auntmarge64: Adding this one to the wishlist.

103auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: toukokuu 28, 2020, 4:42pm

>102 RidgewayGirl: Kay, I loved Golden Scales, but after I started to read the next in the series I decided all the other books in the series would have a very similar feeling. That's never bothered me with things like Lucas Davenport, but since the locale and the main character's viewpoint were so central to the plot, I decided I didn't need more. I don't know how else to say it. Anyway, I'll be interested to see whether you feel the same when you get there.

104auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 29, 2020, 4:20pm



The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer **** 5/27/20

I have no experience on which to base a judgement on the book's authority on schizophrenia, but I will say it was written so effectively I believed every word. Kidzdoc (Darryl) spoke very highly of it so I picked it right up.

Matthew Homes, a 19-year old schizophrenia patient, looks back at the death of his older brother Simon, who had had Down Syndrome and died during a family vacation 10 years earlier. Matthew misses him terribly and feels responsible for his death and for the subsequent descent of his mother into madness. The problem is that he can't remember exactly what happened, and he begins to write the story of his family to come to grips with the event. His telling is interspersed with descriptions of his illness as it happens, with some very believable occurrences of thoughts sliding from one thing to another and an insecurity as to what has actually happened versus what he thought or dreamed about during the same period. The descriptions of his loving family and of what he remembers of his childhood are superb. There's no hard and fast ending to his illness, but there is a conclusion that is most satisfying. Just wonderful.

105kidzdoc
toukokuu 29, 2020, 10:50am

Nice review of The Shock of the Fall, Margaret. I'm glad that you enjoyed it as much as I did.

106BLBera
toukokuu 30, 2020, 1:54pm

Margaret - Some great reviews here. I'm waiting for a copy of The End of October from my library. I think they have an ebook, which is probably the way I'll read it.

I've loved most of what Andrea Barrett writes, and you remind me that I have a few of hers on my shelf. Maybe time to dust them off.

Both Golden Scales and The Shock of the Fall also sound good.

107auntmarge64
kesäkuu 1, 2020, 1:45pm

>105 kidzdoc: Thanks, Darryl. For the recommendation and the comment :)

>106 BLBera: Hi, Beth. Ooooh, I think you'll enjoy End of October! I've got to remember to get back to reading more of Barrett. Ship Fever and Voyage of the Narwhal are both available to me.

108auntmarge64
kesäkuu 1, 2020, 1:49pm



A Children's Bible: A Novel by Lydia Millet ***½ 5/30/20

This is a book with a lot of promise, but it didn't hold together as well as it might have.

A group of perhaps 8 or 10 old college friends rent an enormous old home for a summer, just up a river from the ocean, presumably along the NJ or NY seaside. They arrive with their spouses and kids and then leave the kids to their own devices as they spend their time drinking, taking drugs and having sex At least, that's how the kids see the situation, and the older kids, aged 9-17, decide to decamp to the beach nearby to get away from the adults. An enormous hurricane arrives and wrecks havoc, and the kids decide to leave completely and find a safer place to ride out what appears to be a climatic change causing massive storms all over the world. Most roads are closed by downed trees and power lines and there is no help from authorities, but the kids have found a helpful adult they like, a local groundsman, who knows a safer place farther inland. Against minimal parental objections, the kids take off, although maintaining limited text and phone contact. A lot more happens, and the reader slowly realizes this is a post-apocalyptic novel, told by a survivor who was 15 at the time of the first storm.

Not much about the climate disaster is explained, which didn't bother me. But the attitude of the parents - all the parents - seems inexplicable to me. Even the three-year-old twins are left largely to themselves, although one is violent towards the other, who then disappears. The parents seem not to have checked the weather or warnings, don't take charge when disaster strikes, and then won't leave the rented house early because they would have to pay a large penalty for doing so. They have no control over the kids, and when the kids drive off, the parents don't seem to care too much except for a couple who realize too late what's happening and try to chase them down on foot (the kids have disabled the other vehicles).

OK, the book is told from the POV of a teenager, and from some time in the future, so maybe this is just how the narrator saw things. But she's pretty specific about some of the actions and some of the non-action of the parents, and it never rang true to me. Some parents, yes, but ALL of them?

Although technically adult fiction, I'm thinking YA readers would enjoy this as well. The end leaves a haunting feeling, but not as powerfully as some other post-apocalyptic tales I've read. All-in-all, interesting to read but somewhat unsatisfying.

109janemarieprice
kesäkuu 1, 2020, 5:53pm

>108 auntmarge64: Sounds more like a teenager's vision of what parents are like - I'm know I imagined them that way when I was that age.

110auntmarge64
kesäkuu 1, 2020, 7:38pm

>109 janemarieprice:. That's what I think, too. And it just didn't work for me, although in the right setting it could. Not sure just why it struck me that way.

111auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 29, 2020, 4:22pm

Two quick science fiction reads:



Benjamin 2073 by Rjurik Davidson ** 6/4/20

A novella about a genetically-damaged scientist trying to regenerate the thylacine (Tasmanian Tiger), a marsupial that resembled a cross between a dog and a tiger and is believed to have been extinct since 1936. Interesting, but too brief to leave much of an impression.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------



Network Effect: A Murderbot Novel by Martha Wells ****½ 6/6/20

Science fiction that's exciting, non-stop action, and fun to read.

This is the first novel in what has so far been a series of novellas called the Murderbot Diaries. A murderbot is a human-machine meld skilled at protection jobs, which often involve killing clients' enemies and/or its own death. The bots have independent thoughts and emotions, but they're controlled by governor modules that kill them if they stray too far from the client to whom they've been rented or if they do not follow programming. Their human parts are considered inconsequential, and they are legally property and expendable. In short: murderous slave labor. Humans are terrified of them, even as they use them for their own purposes, often on dangerous trips to unexplored and potentially profitable star systems.

SecUnit, the name by which humans have come to know this particular murderbot, has managed to disable the governor module. This part of the story, and his escape from company ownership, was told in the novellas, and I'd encourage readers new to the tales to start there, because they're very entertaining and fill in a lot about what life was like for SecUnit as an owned and controlled weapon.

In this novel, SecUnit is learning to live as a free individual and to make independent decisions, a concept so foreign to a murderbot that SecUnit had originally pretended to still be tied to the governor module while figuring out how to escape and not be hunted down immediately. There are new human friends who have helped, as well as a pilot bot which is also independent and extremely advanced and able to physically alter SecUnit to help SecUnit avoid human detection. At any rate, the adventures continue, and I very much look forward to the next novel.

112stretch
kesäkuu 7, 2020, 7:07pm

>111 auntmarge64: I just got through all systems red so i'm excited get through the rest later this year to get to the novel length story. The pace of the story telling certainly flys.

113auntmarge64
kesäkuu 14, 2020, 9:45am

>112 stretch:. You're going to love it! Such an interesting idea, a wonderful character, and well told.

114BLBera
kesäkuu 14, 2020, 12:19pm

>108 auntmarge64: Too bad this one didn't work. I am a big Millet fan, so I will read this when my library copy becomes available.

The Murderbot Novel looks interesting, even though I don't read much SF.

115auntmarge64
kesäkuu 14, 2020, 5:02pm

>108 auntmarge64: Beth, mood-wise The Murderbot Diaries are a cross between Jack Reacher (non-stop action) and The Martian ( a sarcastic but funny and self-deprecating narrator) with an unusual plot. It's hardly serious fiction, but neither are Reacher novels or The Martian - just great fun. You might just enjoy it as a palate cleanser.

116auntmarge64
kesäkuu 15, 2020, 8:19pm



Britain BC: Life in Britain and Ireland Before the Romans by Francis Pryor **** 6/12/20

Well-worth the read for anyone with an interest. Prior is a well-known archaeologist in the field of British prehistory.

----------------------------



Jack Glass by Adam Roberts ****½ 6/15/20

From the author of The Thing Itself (see post 72 above), a superb story of a man feared throughout the galaxy for his ability to kill with glass. The trick here, though, is that there's a good reason for what he does, and each of the three sections brings the reader closer to understanding Jack and his purpose. The first section takes place in a prison - and what an ingenious invention it is! Roberts is such a creative writer.

117auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 24, 2020, 6:05pm



A Treatise on Shelling Beans by Wiesław Myśliwski ****½ 6/21/20

Another winner from Archipelago Press.

Wieslaw Mysliwski, whose best-known work is "Stone Upon Stone", here uses a monologue to tell the life story of a Polish caretaker for a group of cottages strung around a human-made lake. The narrator, born along the waterway before it was flooded to make the lake, spends an evening talking to a visitor about the important events and observations in his life. He tells of his idyllic life as a child, when shelling beans was a communal evening affair and a time for storytelling by the elders. When life is interrupted by war, the narrator endures the murder of his family, life on the run with partisans, and then a stint at a brutish state-run school where he is introduced to both the saxophone and the trade of the electrician. Life after the war is pretty desolate as the country is rebuilt, and the narrator spends much of his story describing this time in his life.

The narrator's story draws the reader in in spite of themselves. He's lived a long life and seen a lot, and he's quite a character by now. The mystery of the visitor's identify adds a bit of suspense throughout the story, but in the end the reader has a pretty good idea of who has dropped by for the evening.

-------------------------------------



Foundation by Isaac Asimov **** 6/24/20

It's hard to believe I never read this series. It had characteristics that reminded me of both Hermann Hesse's Magister Ludi and Frank Herbert's Dune books. Anyway, it's well-worth reading and not even particularly dated except for the mostly-absent women. I've put the second book on my TBR list at the library.

118janemarieprice
kesäkuu 24, 2020, 9:15pm

>117 auntmarge64: I cannot number the afternoons I spent shelling or snapping beans with my mom. I have very fond memories of it. I think probably it is the first cooking instruction she gave me, was nice to just sit and talk while you did it, and I love beans!

119auntmarge64
kesäkuu 28, 2020, 1:44pm

>118 janemarieprice: That's wonderful! Being friends with one's mom is the best of both worlds. I really liked my own mum and we visited very often, just to hang. We also went to many concerts together, and Robert Bateman art talks, and once even to a local raptor refuge because she had been reading a story about a rescued Golden eagle. Or just sat around and chatted. Boy, do I miss her!

120auntmarge64
kesäkuu 28, 2020, 3:30pm



Redhead By the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler *** 6/26/20

I haven't read Tyler in many years but thought I'd give this one a try. As a character study, it sounded right up my alley, but instead I found it rather dull, with an ending that was about what I expected but so brief as to be almost an afterthought. It was supposed to be the big reveal of the character's "second chance", but it fizzled instead.

I thought when I finished this that I was being too hard on it, but then I began two new books and realized that I might have been generous. These two, a new edition of Gilgamesh and On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong, are both so beautifully written and moving that in hindsight the new Tyler book seems grey in comparison.

121avaland
kesäkuu 28, 2020, 5:18pm

>117 auntmarge64: I loved the Foundation books back when I read them. So much fun.

122Simone2
kesäkuu 29, 2020, 1:26pm

I’ve read it all and love your thread!

123AnnieMod
kesäkuu 29, 2020, 2:37pm

>117 auntmarge64: Not sure if your plans are to read just the trilogy or all 7 novels (if you go for the 7, please read them in publication order) but the two series that precede the 7 Foundation novels (the Robot Series and the Galactic Empire) are also worth a read; if you do not like to read them all, check The Caves of Steel and Pebble in the Sky at least. And then take a left for Dune or a right for Rama (don't read too much into the left/right, just needed a direction marker) :)

124baswood
kesäkuu 29, 2020, 6:11pm

>117 auntmarge64: Its along time since I read the Foundation series - enjoy

125auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 30, 2020, 1:28pm



Gilgamesh: A New English Version (edition by Stephen Mitchell) ***** 6/28/20

A wonderful new version aimed at modern readers with the hope of maintaining the feel and beauty of the original. Mitchell states that he does not read the original languages and that this is not a new translation. Instead his aim was to make the story accessible and appealing to the lay public, and it certainly felt like that to me. Includes an excellent introduction and and a large notes section.

Mitchell based this edition on various translations of the standard Babylonian version (compiled c1400-1000 BC), which pulled together stories of King Gilgamesh of Uruk (early 3rd millennium BC), by that time long-deified. It included the Babylonian flood story, written much earlier than the Biblical version. The Babylonian version is surprisingly similar to its later cousin, possibly discomfiting to those who thought the Biblical telling was original.

Very highly recommended, especially if you haven't read the epic already.

126auntmarge64
kesäkuu 30, 2020, 1:32pm

>122 Simone2: Thanks so much! I loved your thread, too. :)

>123 AnnieMod: I'm planning on reading just the original trilogy, I think. We'll see. I did read the first few Dune books years ago and was very impressed the way the story kept broadening out so that the early books seemed almost parochial in comparison to the later ones. I always find that kind of storytelling appealing - the long gaze backwards. Don't think I've read the Rama books, though.

127auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: kesäkuu 30, 2020, 1:40pm



I tried to read On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong. It's beautifully told although full of sadness. The narrator, brought to the U.S. as an infant by his mother and grandmother, reminisces in fits and starts, almost a stream of consciousness, about the histories and relationships of the three of them.

However, I got about a third of way through and ran across a depiction of animal cruelty the likes of which I've never heard, and I've given up on the book in fear of there being more horror I'll never get out of my brain. If you have a strong stomach and like immigrant fiction, this might be for you.

128AnnieMod
kesäkuu 30, 2020, 2:32pm

>126 auntmarge64:

Read Rendezvous with Rama if you have a chance -- the sequel is much much worse (it is not bad per se but compared to the first, it is disaster) but this one is a little gem. As for Asimov, even if you just read the trilogy, I'd say to check the other 2 I linked (plus The End of Eternity). Have fun whatever you decide to read (and now I want to go and start rereading classic SF... sigh...) :)

>125 auntmarge64: "The Babylonian version is surprisingly similar to its later cousin, possibly discomfiting to those who thought the Biblical telling was original. "

This make me laugh. I know it is not really funny but every time any of the religions start explaining how they were the start, I start chuckling...

>127 auntmarge64:

I did not realize he had a novel out until a few days ago. I read a poetry collection (Night Sky with Exit Wounds) last year and really liked though. If the writing is anything close to it, I want to read it.

129lisapeet
heinäkuu 1, 2020, 9:04am

>117 auntmarge64: I read the Foundation trilogy as a pre-teen... I wonder what I'd think of it now. Certainly any sexism would have gone right over my head.

>127 auntmarge64: I had heard that about the animal cruelty part, which is why I'll never read that. I can barely stand to read anything about a lost dog, so that is an automatic no-go. Forget about sexual content... books should come with stickers for things like that.

130BLBera
heinäkuu 3, 2020, 2:27pm

>115 auntmarge64: Thanks Margaret, good to know. I'll keep that in mind.
A Treatise on Shelling Beans catches my attention here. I'll look for that one.

I had similar feelings about Redhead by the Side of the Road - it seemed to be missing something.

I think I read the Foundation series in high school; I liked them a lot. My son loved them.

131avaland
Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 8, 2020, 8:36pm

>123 AnnieMod:, >127 auntmarge64: A second for Rendezvous with Rama. Loved that book, also. I was a lot younger when I read it, but I found it riveting.

132auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 9, 2020, 2:13pm



The Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett **** 7/2/20

Wandering_Star recommended this after I'd read Archangel by Barrett. It's wonderful! A (fictional) expedition sets out to look for John Franklin, the well-known British explorer who went missing with his ships while trying to find the Northwest Passage. The expedition is led by both Zeke, a young man whose father is funding the trip, and a captain who is in charge of the boat. Zeke has never been to the Arctic but has read all the accounts he can find. The captain is a whaler, not an Arctic explorer. Needless to say, having two leaders, especially these two, causes endless problems.

The story is told primarily from the point of view of Zeke's friend and future brother-in-law Erasmus, whose naturalist-trained family Zeke has dreamed of joining since he was a child. Erasmus is older and has been on several expeditions, including one to Antarctica. He feels obligated to accompany Zeke at his sister's behest, but it's difficult to support Zeke, who clearly doesn't have a clue about handling men or dealing with emergencies and proceeds to antagonize everyone on board. Crises show Zeke's true colors and shortcomings and throw the expedition into disarray, an especially dangerous situation in the Arctic. Several other characters' viewpoints are interspersed, but this is really Erasmus' story.

Highly recommended.

133lisapeet
heinäkuu 9, 2020, 2:54pm

>132 auntmarge64: I loved this one.

134sallypursell
heinäkuu 10, 2020, 12:40am

>115 auntmarge64: I've read the Foundation Trilogy a number of times. It's a favorite of mine. I have read almost all of the others, too, but not in order, so I get confused about the overall history.

135sallypursell
heinäkuu 10, 2020, 12:41am

>131 avaland: I'll third that!

136sallypursell
heinäkuu 10, 2020, 12:49am

>132 auntmarge64: That sounds fantastic!

137auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 14, 2020, 5:55pm



Unrecognized Nations - Travels to Countries That do not Exist by Guilherme Canever *** 7/9/20

This was a serendipitous little treat I ran across through CNN (https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/visit-country-that-doesnt-exist/index.html). Amazon has a Kindle version.

Brazilian Guilherme Canever spent 5 years travelling to countries that are not members of the U.N. but that are de facto independent. Some are common names which have considerable support and recognition internationally, such as Palestine. Others have few or no allies. Many are names I had to research. The book is quite slim and at first appears to be fluff, but I found myself charmed at the author's quest and the difficulties he faced, and fascinated by the travelogues and research. Each section includes basic data (population, languages, etc.), a brief discussion of border issues, a longer section detailing the author's experiences in the country, and a summary of "things to do". Includes: Transnistria, Kosovo, Somaliland, Sahrawi (Western Sahara), Northern Cyprus, Palestine, Nagorno-Karabakh, Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Taiwan. There are brief discussions of recent successful and unsuccessful cases of independence as well as of autonomous regions that have been independent or would like to be (e.g., Tibet, Karakalpak, Kashmir, East Turkestan, and Kurdistan).

The book is somewhat haphazardly translated and probably self-published, and somehow this adds to its charm. It may be the only book available on this subject. One word of advice, supported by the author's own stories, is to do one's own research on border requirements, political situations, and local customs before attempting to visit any of these places. The trips described here took place in between 2009-2014, so some of the information is bound to be outdated. The author made a habit of contacting locals in each country so that he'd have contacts when he arrived, a plan that worked to his advantage in several awkward (if not dangerous) situations and would seem to be a wise plan for future visitors. Such visits are not for the faint of heart.

138lilisin
heinäkuu 14, 2020, 11:18pm

>137 auntmarge64:

I also had read that CNN article and was fascinated by the prospect although terrified of the inherent danger behind some of the countries he visited. Glad to see you enjoyed this book as well.

139BLBera
heinäkuu 15, 2020, 12:42pm

>137 auntmarge64: This does sound fascinating, Margaret.

>132 auntmarge64: I have loved everything by Andrea Barrett that I have read. I keep meaning to pick up this one.

140wandering_star
heinäkuu 16, 2020, 9:42pm

>132 auntmarge64: So glad you enjoyed it!

141auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: elokuu 9, 2020, 1:43pm

142auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 26, 2020, 3:00pm



Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary Trump *****

I got about 2/3 through and decided I needed to stop. There's only so much poison I can take into my brain. A friend tells me to read the last chapter, so maybe.

The book is stunning. The author, who is both Trump's niece and a psychologist, dissects her family from a professional standpoint informed by personal experience, and it is a terrible story about cruelty encouraged, children ignored, and sibling efforts to win the father's attention, although that was usually derisive, often in public. The effect of this dysfunction to a child has to be significant, but it is unclear whether Donald is entirely a product of that upbringing or had a natural tendency towards the "killer" behavior preferred by the father. Either way, it started when he was a child, when he taunted and bullied his siblings mercilessly. Mary Trump saw much of this behavior in an older Donald when she was a child and visiting her grandparents quite often. By that time Trump was living outside the family home and married first to Ivana and then Marla. Mary tells the story of one Christmas when Ivana and Donald gave her a package of underwear as her present, or another year when they gave her a regifted food basket - with the caviar removed. (Ivana was apparently Donald's soulmate.) It's this kind of dismissive cruelty at which Donald has become so adept. A recent example happens while the family is going to a birthday celebration for Trump's two sisters. Trump International comped the family one night (one!), and the group was picked up to go to the White House in a van with bench seats along the walls. Over and over the smallness of Trump's soul is demonstrated with Donald's own actions or statements.

This is the one Trump book that should be read by everyone, especially those who think Trump has any interest in their welfare. Of course, they won't read it, but then, they've drunk the koolaid. Interestingly, Trump has commented very little on the contents of the book. Maybe he knows better than to give these stories more attention lest his followers get wind of them.

143auntmarge64
heinäkuu 26, 2020, 3:54pm

A Guide to Nordic Noir

An article in today's NY Times:
https://nyti.ms/3jFbnv8

144avaland
heinäkuu 29, 2020, 6:35am

>143 auntmarge64: Oh, thanks for this! I've read so many of these authors, some worked for me, some didn't. I think the author of the list is correct in saying that Peter Hoeg was the one to open up that market. The movie came out in '97 and translated books started to show thereafter here in the states. But, now that I've read so much of it, and some of the very best authors, it seems that a majority of the newer authors are writing with television foremost in mind and I find those books less appealing. Mankell's Wallander has had three television adaptations but I don't think he was thinking about that when he wrote as his books are thoughtful in the way books are when the author has something to say. His first book came out in English in the very late 90s.

145auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 29, 2020, 3:53pm

>144 avaland: Hi, Lois. I've found Nordic fiction to be a mixed bag too, attributable, I think, to the lack of discrimination in publishing in order to fill a large demand with few available titles. So all help is welcome! Glad it was useful.

146auntmarge64
heinäkuu 29, 2020, 3:55pm



On the Ganges: Encounters with Saints and Sinners Along India's Mythic River by George Black ***½ 7/25/20

I finished this a while ago but have had a terrible time writing a review. But here goes:
--------------------------------------

This is a difficult book for me to review, because I've never been to India and can't verify anything said, and a lot of the descriptions are quite unpleasant to my American sensibilities.

Black traveled the length of the Ganges from the Himalayas to the Sundabaren (the country-sized mangrove forest in the Bay of Bengal) in Bangladesh. The river is 1680 miles - more or less, since the course changes from year to year. It is worshiped as sacred by Hindus, and there are many religious practices connected to it. Some of these, such as the burning of bodies, bathing, and the dumping of dead bodies into it, along with directly-added industrial pollution, have resulted in horrifying pollution, seemingly ignored by many as they go about their activities in the water. I don't think I even want to describe some of the ways pollution is added, not to mention the continued bathing in it despite this. Millions live along or near the water or make their business along the water. This includes priests, woodsellers, corpse collectors, middlemen, corrupt police and bureaucrats, and an astonishing array of other people who rely on the income received from their "cut" of fees. The author points out that because of the number of people who profit from the river, it's almost impossible to make changes, such as banning burning of bodies, that might help clean it up.

The author is very person-oriented and made acquaintances wherever he went, thus gleaning numerous stories of life along the river. His visits often pointed him in new directions to explore.

I did find the book interesting, but for sure if I was in India I'd never go near the Ganges. It sounds absolutely disgusting. Of course, those who revere it feel much differently, and I do hope I don't cause insult with my comments, but this is an honest reaction to the descriptions in the book.

147BLBera
elokuu 3, 2020, 9:50am

>142 auntmarge64: You have a strong stomach, Margaret. I could not read this.

>146 auntmarge64: This does sound interesting. I've heard that the Ganges is very polluted.

>143 auntmarge64: Thanks for the list -- just what I need!

148auntmarge64
elokuu 9, 2020, 1:42pm

>147 BLBera: I feel the same way about most Trump books, but this one is such an unusual perspective. However, you're right that it's tough to read. I have never gone back to finish it.

149auntmarge64
elokuu 9, 2020, 1:56pm



What It's Like to Be a Bird: From Flying to Nesting, Eating to Singing--What Birds Are Doing, and Why by David Allen Sibley **** 7/27/20

This is quite a nice book, with lots and lots of information about bird activities and many color illustrations. However, it is not really what the title suggested to me. I expected something that took a bird's life and gave perspective on how they experienced it, perhaps more of a narrative, such as "How birds experience flight". This is more a catalog of the types of activities in which birds engage, with links to illustrated essays on those birds that are used to exemplify that action. Taken in that way, it works well, although I didn't find it as intimate as I thought it would be. More of an encyclopedia in its feel. However, I do think bird enthusiasts will enjoy it. It's definitely not a bird ID book but approaches the subject in what I think is a fairly unique way.

150auntmarge64
elokuu 9, 2020, 6:47pm



Eat the Buddha: Life and Death in a Tibetan Town by Barbara Demick ***** 8/3/20

A superb oral history of residents of Ngaba, a town in very eastern Tibet, not far from the Chinese border. It's also the town most renowned for the number of young adults who have set themselves on fire to protest Chinese rule.

The story is pretty horrifying, and although I've read quite a bit on Tibet, the focus here on one town and how it experienced invasion and enforced changes to it's life is so awful it's hard to believe. This is conquest totalitarianism in scary modern form. In 60 years, the Chinese have destroyed most of the way of life in Tibet and taken the resources for their own use, causing mass starvation and massive changes to the land and towns. Temples have been torn down and looted, priests driven out or jailed and killed, herders forced to give up their flocks and barley farmers (barley being the only crop that will grow) forced to give up their lands, all being forced onto communes. Starvation, martial law, passports needed to travel even across the village, cameras everywhere, sometimes placed to look into residential windows (China now averages a camera for every two people), and numerous arrests and "re-educations". The Dalai Lama has been accused of crimes for years, and it is this one fact that seems to have stopped many Tibetans from accepting Chinese rule and, among young people, angered them to the point of self-immolation. I had never heard before that some of those sacrificing themselves have actually survived, been taken into custody, and kept alive for propaganda. In response, later protesters not only doused themselves but drank the combustible they used, increasing the likelihood of death. Townspeople began to try to get the body themselves to avoid this.

It's not a new story, the genocide and cruelty perpetuated by conquerors, but the Chinese seem to have a particularly nasty perspective on how go about it. On paper Tibetans are considered citizens, but they cannot travel far or get a passport to leave, and even mountain crossings have been closed. Most businesses are owned by ethnic Chinese, jobs are scarce in government work, and the residents of Ngaba lead stifled, poverty-stricken and terrified lives.

151janemarieprice
elokuu 9, 2020, 9:15pm

>149 auntmarge64: I got this as a birthday gift from the dog since we both like to look out the window at the birds. I've been browsing it with morning coffee and agree it's much more encyclopedic but I'm enjoying it.

152lilisin
elokuu 10, 2020, 2:56am

>150 auntmarge64:

I really enjoyed her book about North Korea so I’ll keep an eye out for this one as well now.

153auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: elokuu 10, 2020, 3:58pm



The Last Day by Andrew Hunter Murray *** 8/9/20

Post-apocalyptic dystopian fiction set in England in the near future. The science is shaky, at least to my understanding, but it may still be a satisfactory adventure story for wiling away a few hours.

It's thirty years after the Earth's rotation has been reduced to once per year. (I think if it happened over a human lifespan it would be much more disastrous.) Most of the world is now too hot or too cold for life, and in the narrow band that includes England an autocratic government works to keep citizens in line and to control the rest of the habitable world. The south of England has been given to the U.S., and several million American refugees live there in near-starvation. Other foreigners are discouraged by sunken ships surrounding the island which sink anything of size inbound. Any foreigners who do get through are sent to Europe as serfs on the farms set up to supply England.

Ellen Hopper is a depressed scientist studying new ocean currents and based in the Atlantic aboard a semi-derelict ship. She reluctantly returns to London to see a dying professor and advisor, a man she banished from her life after a terrible disclosure years before. But he insists that he has something he must show her, and she is persuaded to go. The teacher dies shortly after she gets there and she begins a search for whatever it was he wanted to give her. Along the way she's chased, beaten and shot at by various government agents and meets with acquaintances of the prof's, all of whom are killed after. Clearly the government wants whatever it is she's looking for.

There is little to make the reader really relate to any of the characters, the science is questionable, and the high-action suspense seems out of character and unlikely for her. So, not particularly recommended unless you are interested in the premise and want to take a chance.

154avaland
elokuu 10, 2020, 3:16pm

>149 auntmarge64: The Sibley sounds interesting despite the mis-titling of the content. Still, the TBR pile teeters so I may not run the risk of toppling it by adding another.

>153 auntmarge64: Usually I'm game for a decent dystopia, but not this year (btw, your touchstone goes to a graphic novel by another author). One would think there is another current events to give credible fodder for a host of dystopias. btw, you remind me that I have a "course" on dystopias/utopias still to finish. The lecturer believes dystopias are really about hope. Does that ring true for this novel?

155auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: elokuu 10, 2020, 4:01pm

>154 avaland:. Thanks for the alert about the touchstone, I've fixed it.

Hope - yes, I'd say it does. But I can't agree that all dystopias are really about hope. Do you?

156avaland
elokuu 11, 2020, 8:43am

>155 auntmarge64: I would be hard-pressed to say they all are; does basic survival give hope or is more needed?

157auntmarge64
elokuu 11, 2020, 12:14pm

>156 avaland:. Surely more than simple survival.

158auntmarge64
elokuu 12, 2020, 12:01pm

159auntmarge64
elokuu 18, 2020, 6:34pm



Long Bright River by Liz Moore **** 8/13/20

Long-time beat cop in (and native of) the rundown Kensington section of Philadelphia, Mickey Fitzgerald is disliked by her colleagues but finds her job suits her. She spends her free time being a single mother to her young son. Orphaned young, she and her sister Kacey were best friends through childhood while being raised by their very angry grandmother. Now Kacey is a drug addict and prostitute in Mickey's precinct and they haven't spoken in five years, although Mickey keeps an eye open for her.

As Mickey works on the case of several murdered prostitutes, she realizes she hasn't seen Kacey in weeks and fears she's become one of the victims. Her efforts to find Kacey bring her into contact with estranged family, the drug underworld, and the possibility of police involvement in the murders, all of which give the reader an in-depth look at life in this part of Philadelphia. The mystery is interesting too, but the relationships and revelations unearthed during her search are the real center of the story.

Part mystery, part character study of people and town, this is a compelling novel that grabs the reader after a few pages and keeps them involved till the very end.

160auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: elokuu 22, 2020, 12:58pm



Gone World by Tom Sweterlitsch ****½ 8/18/20

Superb time-travel fiction coupled with a mystery that will determine the course of humankind's existence.

In 1997, Shannon Moss is an agent for a clandestine Navy department that runs exploratory trips to both deep space and the deep future. She's been to the future herself a few times, and the trip that opens the book is terrifying and disorienting. She returns to 1997 missing a leg and horrified by continuing nightmares of what she saw.

On routine assignment some time later, Shannon investigates the vicious murder of a family and the disappearance of the husband and a daughter. The missing man supposedly disappeared with his ship and crew during a deep space mission, and is not supposed to be on Earth. As Shannon searches for the daughter, who may be alive, she uncovers a conspiracy among the ship's crew that leads her back and forth in time, exploring different possible futures stemming from our own timeline. But on each trip she finds the horror she faced when she lost her leg, one that will destroy humanity's future in every timeline.

The publisher described this book as "Inception" meets "True Detective". I thought "Inception" was pretty perfect, the kind of movie that cannot be looked away from even once without losing the plot. Gone World is not quite that intense in the first half, but as Shannon travels between timelines, facing future's horror, there is a sense of disconnect that arose that mirrored some of what Shannon is feeling. I had an uneasy sense that it would be easy to no longer experience the "present" as deeply true or real after spending extended times in futures in which the same people interact in different ways. The mystery, too, gets deeper and deeper, running through each possible future and circling back to the present. Just wonderful, and highly recommended.

161wandering_star
elokuu 22, 2020, 6:07am

Those two both sound good.

162auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: elokuu 31, 2020, 10:10pm



Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell ***** 8/26/20

A masterpiece.

O`Farrell takes the few facts known about Shakespeare and his family and weaves a magical, engrossing tale that begins with early events in the lives of Shakespeare and his wife, here called Agnes, continuing with their courtship and their married life up to the fallout from the death of their only son, Hamnet. Agnes is a wonderfully- Imagined character and the center of the story. But the author adds immense depth with multiple points of view and vivid descriptions of life in Stratford, both with Shakespeare in residence and during his long absences in London.

And then there's the conclusion, which blew me away, as Agnes grieves Hamnet's death and looks for a way to connect with Shakespeare in their shared pain. Just mesmerizing.

163auntmarge64
syyskuu 4, 2020, 8:39am



Don't Let Go by Harlan Coban **** 9/3/20

It's hard to believe I've never read Coban before, but after watching several foreign language mysteries based on his books I decided to try this one, a stand-alone. It was GREAT! And it was about a section of New Jersey I know, which is always fun.

Fifteen years after his twin, Leo, and Leo's girlfriend, are hit by a train, new information about Nap's long-missing high school sweetheart make detective Nap Dumas look further into what happened that long-ago night. Wonderful detail, interesting characters, lots of red herrings, and an ending I did not see coming, although I'm not very good at guessing, I admit. What a wonderful introduction to someone who has a long backlist to be explored.

164BLBera
syyskuu 4, 2020, 2:14pm

>162 auntmarge64: I also loved Hamnet, Margaret. I've picked it up a couple of times, just to reread the last part, when Agnes goes to London.

Eat the Buddha sounds interesting; I've always thought Tibet is a fascinating place.

I'm reading Long Bright River right now, and I agree, it really sucks one in. It's different from what I expected, but the characters are well done.

I've never read a Coban, either. Maybe it's time to give him a try.

165auntmarge64
syyskuu 7, 2020, 8:57pm

>164 BLBera: Hi Beth, That last section of Hamnet is a humdinger.

Yes, give Coban a try. I don't know about the others, but that book was well worth the time.

166auntmarge64
syyskuu 7, 2020, 9:07pm



The Last Trial by Scott Turow ****½ 9/7/20

Sandy Stern, the main character in many of Turow's books, is 85 and about to close shop. He takes one last case, that of an old friend accused of insider trading and of the murder of several patients in the second year of a new drug therapy designed by the client's company. Splendid legal drama until the last 25 pages or so, which are anti-climactic and seem to be just an attempt, like Sandy's, of a drawn-out finale.

167kidzdoc
syyskuu 17, 2020, 4:07pm

I'm glad that you liked Hamnet, Margaret, as it's at the top of my wish list.

168auntmarge64
syyskuu 18, 2020, 5:31pm



Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes **** 9/13/20

A young woman, packing her car to leave her husband of only a few years, is called with the news that he's died in a car accident. She settles back into her home, broke but relieved. As time goes on she takes in a boarder to help with her bills. He's a star baseball pitcher who's arm has lost its consistency, and he's looking for a quiet place to regroup. Naturally, they're drawn to each other, which is quite delightful, but there's also some interesting side dramas that add depth. Probably classified as light fiction, but really rewarding.

--------------------



Interference by Brad Parks ****

An addictive suspense thriller in which Matthew, a physicist specializing in quantum entanglement, is kidnapped from the university where he works. (Quantum entanglement refers to a connection between two or more particles in which the state of each particle cannot be described independently from the others, no matter what the distance between them. If you poke one, the other(s) will react simultaneously, even if billions of light years apart.) As described in the book, this connection has been observed/assumed so far in only extremely small particles, but here the kidnapped scientist is trying to observe it in larger and larger particles, and part of the book's suspense arises over whether it's possible for two humans, each infected with the same mutant particle, to have this relationship.

So the scientist disappears, and his hearing-impaired wife struggles to help police find him. The deafness is treated very realistically and seems natural to the story. There is also a billionaire who wants to hire Matthew away from the university and who becomes a suspect along with the three foreign nationals identified as the kidnappers and several other people at the university. There are lots of red herrings, while all the while the question of finding Matthew using entanglement hangs in the air. Most of the characters consider this a ridiculous consideration, even as they are given hints it might be possible.

The pages practically turn themselves, and this is the perfect book for passing some time during the pandemic, especially if you like a scientific twist to the action.

169auntmarge64
syyskuu 18, 2020, 5:32pm

>167 kidzdoc: Darryl, you are going to love it!

170sallypursell
syyskuu 19, 2020, 1:03am

>168 auntmarge64: A Practical use for Quantum Entanglement! What a fascinating hook for a fictional look at this.

171auntmarge64
syyskuu 24, 2020, 6:12pm

>170 sallypursell: It is! And it made quantum entanglement much easier to think about, seeing it described like this. Usually at the word "quantum" my mind goes blank.

172auntmarge64
syyskuu 24, 2020, 6:13pm



The Boy in the Field by Margot Livesey ****½ 9/23/20

A lovingly-drawn character study of three teenage siblings who spot an injured boy lying in a field near their home. The discovery moves each of them and their parents in unexpected directions. The whole family is described so well it's easy to imagine knowing all of them. This is especially true of the youngest, a 13-year old (very talented) artist who decides he wants to contact his birth mother. His powers of observation are delightful and encouraged by his parents, who also support his mother-search, as scared as they are of what he'll find and what it will mean for their relationship with him. An epilogue showing their lives 8 years later is a perfect ending.

173BLBera
syyskuu 26, 2020, 3:45pm

What great reading you've had recently, Margaret. Evie Drake Starts Over, Interference and The Boy in the Field all sound great.

I'm off to check my library!

174auntmarge64
syyskuu 26, 2020, 5:14pm

>173 BLBera:. I know! A bunch of winners in a row. These were all books I thoroughly enjoyed, so i hope you do, too.

175avaland
syyskuu 30, 2020, 6:45am

Good to hear about the Livesey. It's been on the list for a while. I've enjoyed most of her books, but at the moment I'd say Eva Moves the Furniture is a fave.

176auntmarge64
lokakuu 1, 2020, 9:58pm

>175 avaland: I'll have to check out more of Livesey's work. This is the first I've read, but I'll look for Eva Moves the Furniture. The ebooks my library has are: The Flight of Gemma Hardy, Mercury, and Criminals. Have you read any of them?

177auntmarge64
lokakuu 1, 2020, 10:00pm



After You'd Gone by Maggie O'Farrell **** 9/29/20

Another winner from Maggie O'Farrell.

Alice Raikes is a volatile and unsettled young woman living in London. On the spur of the moment she hops on a train to her family in Scotland and meets her sisters at the station in Edinburgh, planning to continue to her parents' home that afternoon. But at the station she sees something so dreadful that she immediately gets back on a train for London, bewildering her sisters but unable to explain to them. Later that afternoon she's hit by a car and spends the rest of the story in a coma. She is not, however, completely unconscious and is aware of people in the room, and hers is one of the voices that mix together in unexpected ways to tell her story. There's a good reason Alice is miserable, and her family wonders if she tried to kill herself by stepping in front of the car. But there are also family secrets she's uncovered in that brief time in Edinburgh, secrets she needs to think about and decide how to handle, and she uses her time in the coma to work through them.

Nothing more can really be said about the plot without revealing too much. Voices and stories mingle on the page, and in the Kindle version I read, at least, there are no indications that voices and plots were changing midstream, so it needed some getting used to the flow of the book for it become comfortable. In fact I had just about decided to give up when suddenly there was a huge revelation that entirely changed my idea of what the book was about. Luckily I continued, and I can highly recommend the book.

178RidgewayGirl
lokakuu 1, 2020, 10:01pm

>177 auntmarge64: This is my favorite book by O'Farrell.

179auntmarge64
lokakuu 2, 2020, 2:27pm

>178 RidgewayGirl: It's certainly memorable, and makes me want to check out others I haven't read. I loved Hamnet, too.

180auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: lokakuu 4, 2020, 5:52pm



White Too Long: The Legacy of White Supremacy in American Christianity by Robert P. Jones ***** 9/3/20

It took me 2 months to read and digest this book, which pretty much bowled me over with its conclusions. But it also put to rest some of the internal arguments I've had with people who consider themselves good Christians and yet adore Trump, no matter how un-Christian his actions. I was raised in a tiny Christian denomination with only a few congregations within an hour of our home. The one to which we belonged, which was my father's childhood congregation, was frequently involved with a smaller black congregation about an hour away, with whom we visited, attended each others' Bible studies, and traded speakers for sermons (there were no paid clergy). When I was in my late teens the two congregations joined forces and bought a church, and from then on we were one congregation. I never thought of what this might look like to outsiders, since it seemed perfectly normal to us. But I think this is one reason I found the book so informative and so very shocking.

The author is the founder and CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, which, among other things, does surveys about religious and other attitudes. He was raised in a conservative southern church so has experience with much of what he's discussing. A large part of the book is a history of white Christianity in America and its involvement in encouraging, maintaining and excusing first slavery and then Jim Crow. It's quite an appalling story, with many anecdotes and quotes describing ministers, bishops, and important lay people being involved in mobs and lynchings, even celebrating them in church. Church publications supported this push to help members feel they were in the right, and white children were taught that slavery was beneficial to the victims, who, they were told, were always treated well.

One interesting section concerns the spurts of monument building and the present-day movement to remove them. While the argument is often made that by removing them we are destroying part of our heritage, Jones points out that the majority of monuments were put up after 1900 to intimidate blacks and discourage civil rights activities in two distinct periods: c1900-1920 and then the modern civil rights effort several decades later. Lavish installation ceremonies invoked the old South, the Confederacy, the Christian community, and national pride.

The last few chapters discuss the surveys done by the PRRI to determine whether racist beliefs point towards a probable Christian identity, or whether Christian identity is a positive indication of racist beliefs. In fact, what they found was that BOTH were true. In addition, frequency of church attendance was not, contrary to what might be expected, a way to predict whether someone was more or less likely to be racist. White people with no religious affiliation were much less likely to be racists, and non-racist white people were much less likely to identify as Christians. These last two, in fact, actually had negative correlation. The very last section discusses efforts that have been made to cross the racial divide in an actually meaningful way. This part was hard for me, personally, because to do this white people need to accept the guilt of our kind, even though we may not have lived at that time, and recognize how much damage is still being done to keep a status quo beneficial to us.

This is discomfiting but priceless information. Whether many people will accept the facts presented here is tough to answer and probably unlikely. But for anyone interested in these topics, and especially those wondering WTF is going on with white evangelicals in the Trump campaign, this is most enlightening.

181BLBera
lokakuu 15, 2020, 9:01am

I love Maggie O'Farrell, and After You'd Gone is one I haven't read, so it sounds like I have something to look forward to!

182Julie_in_the_Library
lokakuu 17, 2020, 3:08pm

I found the book so informative and so very shocking.

The last few chapters discuss the surveys done by the PRRI to determine whether racist beliefs point towards a probable Christian identity, or whether Christian identity is a positive indication of racist beliefs. In fact, what they found was that BOTH were true.


I find this really interesting, because as a Jew living in America, the connection between Christianity and white supremacy - which encompasses both racism and antisemitism - has always seemed pretty self-evident to me. It never really occurred to me that Christians don't see it from the inside.

Anne Nelson's 2020 book Shadow Network: Media, Money, and the Secret Hub of the Radical Right covers the Evangelical influence on American politics, and how we got to where we are today. It's a terrifying and enraging read, but an important one, especially now, and I would argue especially for Christians. It's also very well written and researched, and I'd recommend it, with the caveat that it be followed up with something comforting and fluffy.

183auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: lokakuu 20, 2020, 9:11pm

>182 Julie_in_the_Library: The book in question deals only with white supremacy and the use of Christianity to support discrimination against blacks during the history of European America, but you're right that Christianity has a long (very long) history of antisemitism. I know the old argument that Jews crucified Jesus, but, of course, they didn't. The Romans did, and Christians took to using the mob's response to Jesus vs Barabbas (according to the New Testament) to perform an astonishing diversion of attention away from non-Jewish guilt. It makes sense that it was easily propagated for the many hundreds of years that no one, including the majority of clergy, could read, but at this point this should have been cleared up. Instead, we still have people who don't believe that Jesus was Jewish, let alone that he wasn't killed by Jews. I will say that at least the church in which I was raised, with a name that in Greek means "Brethren of Christ", saw themselves as adopted Jews and Zionists. But then, they read the OT and NT for themselves and knew who the guilty parties were.

What sickened me most about the book was not that many Christians are thoroughly racist but that Christianity as an institution was so active and central in the development and support of slavery and racist behavior. The Southern Baptists were a break-away group formed in the 19th century specifically to allow slave owners and supportive Southerners a place to hear and preach a message supporting their beliefs about slavery, the nature of blacks as a group, and the correct relationship between whites and blacks. Most other Christian denominations in the South joined in.

184auntmarge64
lokakuu 20, 2020, 9:24pm



Dark Matter by Blake Crouch **** 10/13/20

My nephew recommended this to me, and once I started it I couldn't put it down.

A scientist goes out to get milk one evening and is kidnapped and knocked out. When he awakes, he is surrounded by people who are delighted he's "back". They know him and seem involved with his research, but everything about his life is different. His wife doesn't recognize him, they don't have a son together, and he's won a prestigious science prize that he had, in his memory, turned away from winning to have a family.

Too much detail will spoil the suspense here, so I can't even say what part of science he's researching. I'll just say that if you like novels about scientists, this one will hold your attention. I started it one morning and except for brief pauses to get ready for the day and to eat, I read until I finished it later in the day. Non-stop action and intriguing scientific theories.

185kidzdoc
lokakuu 23, 2020, 11:42am

Great review of White Too Long, Margaret. The author's name sounded familiar, despite its commonness, and I just confirmed that he received his PhD from Emory University here in Atlanta, where I completed my pediatric residency. I'll keep an eye out for it, and possibly look for it at the Emory University Bookstore later this year.

Does Jones describe the Confederate Memorial on Stone Mountain, Georgia in his book? Similar to Emory, Stone Mountain is located in DeKalb County, no more than 15 miles to the east, and this memorial is the largest bas-relief in the world. The mountain is where the second version of the Ku Klux Klan began in 1915, and although the memorial was supposed to honor three Confederate Civil War leaders, President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, its real purpose is a monument to white supremacy. The bas-relief was begun in the 1910s and 1920s, the project was abandoned in 1928, and work on it began anew in 1963, in response to the Civil Rights Movement, on the urging of the segregationist Georgia Governor Marvin Griffin. It wasn't completed until 1972, and by that time the demographics of Stone Mountain, and much of DeKalb County, immediately east of Atlanta, had begun to shift dramatically, and Atlanta elected its first Black mayor that year. Both the city and the county have a majority of African American residents, and only 22% of Whites live in Stone Mountain now, although the memorial is hallowed ground for white supremacist individuals and groups locally and nationally.

186stretch
lokakuu 24, 2020, 10:26am

>180 auntmarge64: Going to TBR this one. As a non-theist with fairly negative veiws on christianity as practiced in most places I always worry that these kinds of books are preaching to the chior to borrow a metaphor. But this sounds like itbrings something more to the discussion and worth reading.

187auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: lokakuu 26, 2020, 1:44pm

>186 stretch: I usually have those misgivings, too. But I have a sibling who is now a Southern Baptist, doesn't see anything wrong with the monuments, and resists any idea of Christians as racist. I thought this would give me a reality check, and it did. And maybe a bit of ammunition, but I doubt I'll be able to use it because she and I are trying to maintain a relationship and bringing this up might be the final straw. But at least I know I'm not imagining things.

188arubabookwoman
lokakuu 26, 2020, 1:38pm

Catching up on your thread. I’m glad you have discovered Gary Disher. I’ve read the entire Hal Challis series and several stand alones and loved them all.
Your review of the book on orchestral conducting compelled me to head to Amazon and immediately purchase it (it was my birthday).

189auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: lokakuu 26, 2020, 1:53pm

>185 kidzdoc: Hi Darryl, I just checked and he does not mention Stone Mountain specifically. He does state repeatedly that the monuments were, as you say, to white supremacy and meant to intimidate blacks and remind them of their place. I looked at the dates you mentioned, and there they are, just as Jones predicted: Jim Crow era and Civil Rights era.

190RidgewayGirl
lokakuu 26, 2020, 1:40pm

>180 auntmarge64: Thank you for your insightful review! This is a conversation that has been going on and I've read several articles, but it certainly is worth reading a deeper dive into the issue.

191auntmarge64
lokakuu 26, 2020, 2:00pm

>188 arubabookwoman: I'm so pleased to have interested someone in that conducting book! I'll never look at them the same way again, and now I pay much more attention to what they're doing. I'm always amazed by conductors who don't use a score in concerts. A breed apart, the bunch of them.

I would say the same for professional musicians. I've watched enough interviews to realize they, too, have an ability that's unreachable for most of us. Just hearing how they decide between two instruments or mouthpieces, mutes, etc., made me realize I can often not hear the differences. Not to mention fingering alternatives, instrument material, etc., etc.

I've got to get back to more of Disher's work. I'm just too scattered these days to keep any one direction of reading in my head, and sometimes too scattered to even want to read. Hopefully, after Election Day........

192auntmarge64
lokakuu 26, 2020, 2:02pm

>190 RidgewayGirl: Hi Kay, between this book and the last four years, my eyes have really been opened. Not that I didn't recognize Christian racism before, but never so front and center, and never so clearly correlated.

193auntmarge64
marraskuu 5, 2020, 12:06pm



Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson ***** 10/20/20

As always, Robinson's work is both interesting and irritating, because although he has some of the most intriguing ideas about various issues of our time, he has very little talent for characterization and action. Still, it's must read for those who want to hear what he says, which is usually so creative that it's very, very much worth the effort..

Robinson's Mars Trilogy (Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars) is still his masterpiece, but this is a close second. Here a small international agency, poorly funded and with little power, brainstorms ways to get Earth's population and governments to cooperate so that global climate change is reversed. CO2 levels have reached the upper 400s (we ourselves are in the lower 400s, so this is most timely). The book opens a few years into our future as a record heatwave strikes parts of India. With power cut off and no running water, millions die within a couple of days. A westerner who runs a clinic in a city in the area tries his best to care for his patients when the heat hits, first in the clinic and then with all of them joining the city's other residents in submerging themselves in the local river. But the river is no cooler than their body temperatures, and the following morning everyone in the city is dead except the westerner, who had had a few cups of water stored at the clinic which he had drunk himself. Still, he is close to death when he is found, with the river full of dead bodies.

This first chapter colors the rest of the book. The westerner is never the same and tries to find ways to wake up the world or, in the extreme, join a group in India which starts targeted strikes against high producers of CO2. Gas-guzzling planes and private jets are brought down, specific individuals are assassinated, and so on. India itself is shaken out of business-as-usual, a new government is elected, and the country proceeds with massive changes, beginning with filling the atmosphere with a darkening substance they think will reduce heat in India, and eventually the whole planet, for at least a few years. They proceed regardless of international disapproval.

A group works to ground Antarctica's glaciers to slow them down. A new type of currency is invented to reward those who don't use carbon, and world bankers agree to support it. Wide swaths of land, some thousands of miles long, are put aside worldwide to let animals find their own niches after years of interference by humans. New ways of eating (less animal culture) and agriculture are explored. Blimps are re-imagined to take the place of fossil fuel in aircraft. Large ships start adding sail and solar power. The threat of more violence by the climate vigilantes, who prove immune to capture, combined with new technologies and signs of success, encourage these changes around the world.

As I said, there is little characterization, so the ideas themselves become main actors in the book. Chapters alternate between descriptions of human activities and essays on the science and history of the theories Robinson is laying out. Firmly based on science, his ideas are always thought-provoking and usually leave the reader with some hope. Personally, I don't expect us to make it as a species, but I guess it's always possible with creative minds like Robinson's at work.

194auntmarge64
marraskuu 5, 2020, 12:18pm



Fire Cannot Kill a Dragon by James Hibberd **** 10/25/20

If you love "Game of Thrones", this is for you, although the most die-hard fans may have run across some of this before. The author gives an overview of the show's production, interspersed with many quotes from the showrunners and the actors. A fan's treasure chest.

195auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: marraskuu 11, 2020, 12:41pm



The Dragon Man by Garry Disher ***½ 11/3/20

The first in a police suspense series set in southwestern Australia. Arubawoman mentioned the series in post 188 above and I was reminded to look for it, since I loved his latest, Under the Cold Bright Lights. I'm already on to book 2.

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Kittyhawk Down by Gerry Disher ***½ 11/7/20

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Snapshot by Garry Disher ***½ 11/10/12

196avaland
marraskuu 5, 2020, 8:45pm

>180 auntmarge64: Very interesting review!

>193 auntmarge64: The hubby just posted his review of the Robinson a few days ago.

>194 auntmarge64: Another Disher fan here.

197BLBera
marraskuu 14, 2020, 10:44am

Hi Margaret: The Disher series sounds like good escapist reading. I'll add it to the list.

198auntmarge64
marraskuu 14, 2020, 8:22pm

>196 avaland: I read hubby's review and commented on it over there. It's always interesting to see another detailed review and compare notes, and in this case I especially appreciated the thought that an index would be useful, given all the unusual technologies discussed.

>197 BLBera: I read the first three of the Hal Challis series and took a break. It's certainly a little different, given the norms and dialect. Hope you enjoy them. But I think Disher's Under the Cold Bright Lights, not part of this series, is still the best of all of his I've read so far.

199auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: marraskuu 14, 2020, 8:45pm



Composers: Their Lives and Works by DK **** 11/12/20

This is probably the first time I've read a reference book straight through. The publisher (and here the given author) Dorling Kindersley is well known for glossy, heavily illustrated reference works for both adult and juvenile consumption. Reading or browsing through one of these is quite enjoyable because in addition to the full-color photos and portraits, there are numerous sideboxes with facts about related people, places, instruments, and events. These books are not meant to be complete treatments but to capture the reader's interest.

The book is arranged by time period between about 900 and 2100, and each section includes maybe 6-8 pages plus illustrations for each primary composer and an end section with 1-page-or-so entries for secondary names. I had a few quibbles about how composers were divided between primary or secondary, but that's probably a matter of preference. The most interesting aspect for me was seeing the progressions of complexity and notation, examples of which are shown for many of the composers.

I read this on the Kindle app on a 10" tablet, and it was beautiful. It would be frustrating to read it on a b&w Kindle.

200BLBera
marraskuu 15, 2020, 1:34pm

>199 auntmarge64: This sounds like a great reference book, Margaret. I know a lot of times when I'm listening to classical NPR, I hear of a composer I'm not familiar with and would like to know more about the times, influences, etc. I'll add this to my list.

201auntmarge64
marraskuu 18, 2020, 6:01pm



Beartown by Fredrik Backman ***** 11/17/20

In an isolated Swedish town, down on its luck and slowly dying, ice hockey is the one passion that unites the inhabitants. Now the club and the local sponsors think they've found a solution to bringing some prosperity back to the town. The older high school-level team is about to play in the national semi-finals, and all hopes are focused on Kevin, a forward with the ability to go pro. But following this big game a crime is committed that will tear the town apart, force some of the players to grow up fast, and show who in the town values truth and who would rather keep dreams alive than admit what has happened.

The narrative focuses on various inhabitants as they prepare for the big game, cope with the implications of the crime, and decide what principles they'll choose for the cornerstones of their and the town's future. With characters that matter to the reader and suspense that builds until the very end, this is a slow and steadily plotted novel that raises questions that readers will have to think about for themselves. How much courage would they have in these circumstances, and what choices would they make. A final chapter gives us a glimpse into the future of the main townspeople 10 years on.

Very highly recommended.

202auntmarge64
marraskuu 22, 2020, 11:01am



Wenger: My Life and Lessons in Red and White by Arsene Wenger **** 11/20/20

In the spring of 2018, after leading the Arsenal (London) soccer team for 22 years, Wenger was let go following a bad year or two for the club. It was still in the top tier of British soccer, but supporters and management wanted an immediate return to the top few positions in the Premier League and decided to try someone new. Wenger, who had built up the team in the first place, including leading them to 49 straight wins and an undefeated season and devoting pretty much every waking hour for 22 years, was taken by surprise and even now cannot face going to the stadium he built and the team he still loves. As an Arsenal fan, I was very upset when Wenger was, for all intents and purposes, cast aside. Really, is there no loyalty or trust in sports anymore?

Wenger, who is a very private person, talks here mostly of his career, first as a young soccer player in France, then professionally, and finally taking the path for which he had the most talent: coaching and managing. He's a man with an independent and single-minded purpose, and his private life, of which he talks very little in the book, suffered for it. Arsenal, however, only benefited from his insights and he lead them to many trophies. After 2 years and many offers to manage clubs throughout Europe, Wenger has finally accepted a job with FIFA, the international ruling body for soccer, where he is putting his talents to use in long-term planning.

And Arsenal? Yeah, replacing Wenger did them no favors, although there is now another new manager who might have some luck.

A really interesting book for fans.

203kidzdoc
Muokkaaja: marraskuu 22, 2020, 11:16am

Nice review of Wenger, Margaret. Paul Harris (Polaris-), a formerly active member of Club Read and a diehard West Ham United man who I've met several times on trips to London, decided that I should be a fan of the Gunners several years ago, and so I followed them relatively closely until the birth of MLS's Atlanta United Football Club in 2017. Based on your glowing comments I'll be on the lookout for this book.

Wow...according to the touchstones a lot of books have been written about him!

204auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: marraskuu 22, 2020, 3:18pm

>203 kidzdoc:. Hi Darryl, I thought the review might fall on deaf ears, so I'm delighted to find another (even an ex-) Arsenal fan. The most interesting topic he covers, for me, was how much power managers had until a few years ago. Now managers seem to be coaches and little else, with decisions about new hires and just about everything else made by the suits. Profit above all else, even if the suits don't really know enough to make personnel decisions. Watching English and Spanish soccer this year is very discouraging. Teams are being ripped apart to balance budgets after recent bad hiring decisions, and most of the best teams are foundering.

I miss Wenger. IMHO, he was very poorly treated. And it might have seemed to the suits to be an appropriate farewell gesture, but gifting Wenger the Invincibles trophy the team received after their undefeated season seemed in very bad taste to me, as though they were cleaning house of not only him but of what he had accomplished.

205kidzdoc
marraskuu 24, 2020, 7:25pm

>204 auntmarge64: Thanks for those comments about Wenger, Arsenal, the English Premier League and La Liga, Margaret. From what little I know about those two first division football leagues it seems as though they are driven by profits and corporate management, rather than football expertise, and ticket prices for matches for the top clubs, especially in London, are prohibitive for the average fan. I routinely see Emirates Stadium, the new home of the Gunners, when I visit LT friends in Cambridge, as the northbound trains from London King's Cross station pass just to the west of their home pitch before stopping or passing through Finsbury Park station. I've wanted to see a match there, but I balked after I saw the prices for even the cheap seats, although the prices for matches at Camp Nou, the home of FC Barcelona, are much more reasonable.

Given your additional comments about the book I'll have to read it soon.

206auntmarge64
Muokkaaja: joulukuu 29, 2020, 3:15pm

The last two in the Three Pines mystery series set in Quebec. I seem to be reading them in reverse order.



All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny **** 11/26/20



A Better Man by Louise Penny **** 11/28/20

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And now I'm going to read all those earlier ones:



A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny ****



Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny ****



The Hangman by Louise Penny (novella) ***



A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny ****½



The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny ****



How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny ****



The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny ***½

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Morning in the Burned House by Margaret Atwood ****

One of the characters in Penny's books is a poet, and the poetry she recites is by Margaret Atwood.

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Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy *****