What are you reading the week of February 22, 2020?
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The hero of the novel, Maxim Kammerer, is a space explorer who crash lands on an alien planet struggling to recover from a massive nuclear war. He ends up in the army of a totalitarian regime, giving the Strugatsky's ample freedom to satirize military life, the paranoid mind set that sees spies everywhere, and the dangers of propaganda. Oh, and the government has developed a mind control system that's more dangerous to the government leadership than to their unlucky citizens. I can't imagine what the censors could have objected to. :-)
I'm just past the 1/3 point of Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life by Louise Aronson.
Other Windsor Girl by Georgie Blalock (4+ stars)
(England, mid 1900s/Princess Margaret tale)
One of my favorite books was Orlean's book on Rin Tin Tin and so I was excited to read The Library Book and I was not disappointed. This book concentrates on the fire of the Los Angeles Public Library in 1986 and the chief suspect in the case. However, she does not tie herself down to that topic but also talks about the history of libraries and some of the people responsible for building and influencing libraries. Highly recommended!
I started Bill Bryson's The Body: A Guide for Occupants yesterday, and will be beginning A Bend in the River by V.S. Naipaul.
House on Fire: A Novel by Joseph Finder
(Nick Heller series/Boston intel investigator/opioid abuse/whistleblowers)
ETA damn, just been tossed out of the book. All is going swimmingly till she decides to go Sliding Doors on me and talks about how the characters lives might have been different if they made different decisions. Hu, wha? Then she adds this little 14 year old girl thinking of how dreamy Doc is, and then goes on about the unfairness of her society to women and others who are not white men that no 14 year old girl is probably thinking of in the 1870s.Then I just hit a wall, realized how ponderous the writing had gotten and tossed the book aside. IIRC that happened with The Sparrow, but it was closer to the end at that point.Damn, I was really liing this book, spent all day outside reading it. I don't regret that part, but wish I had another book in my hand at that time, Grrrrrrrrrrr
No such problems with Philip Pullman's Northern Lights. I'd heard an abridged audio version but reading it from start to finish has been a delight.
Have just read the introduction to Warsaw 1920: Lenin's Failed Conquest of Europe by Adam Zamoyski.
The President is Missing – Bill Clinton and James Patterson
Book on CD read by Dennis Quade with January LaVoy, Peter Ganim, Jeremy Davidson and Mozhan Marno
President Jonathan Duncan is facing a possible impeachment for actions he took – he says – to protect the safety of America. Against the advice of his senior staff he’s agreed to go before a Congressional Committee, but three days before the hearing he’s visited by a person who can clearly prove that the US systems have been compromised. And the President leaves the White House without his Secret Service detail in an effort to get answers he feels only HE can obtain and act on.
This is a fast-paced thriller, with a believable (if somewhat over-the-top) scenario. There were several times when I thought I knew where it was headed but was surprised by a twist in the plot. The basic plot line is something we should all be concerned about and I found myself wondering about our reliance on technology. The last 50 pages were particularly nail-biting. I’ve recommended the book to several people, including my husband.
I do have a bone to pick re
Dennis Quade is a talented actor and I could see him (a few years younger) portraying President Duncan in a film version of this book. But his deep, gravelly voice just grated on my nerves. I am glad that the producers chose a number of different voice artists to portray various characters, because Quade was definitely NOT up to the task of providing different voices. (The couple of times he tried were laughably bad.)
Elton John relates his amazing career as a song writer, composer, singer, film maker and the incredible ups and downs of his life through childhood to the present. Well written and hard to put down.
I have words.
Most of them involve the serious misconception that someone who chooses to review a book owes anything to the creator of the book except the purchase price; or if the book was a freebie, the duty to be honest is owed to the review's readers not to the author. Never. Ever.
Dead to Her: A Novel
by Sarah Pinborough
WEIRD ~ pulled plug
Ike And Kay – James MacManus
In his work of historical fiction, MacManus explores the relationship between General Dwight D Eisenhower and his assigned driver during WWII, Kay Sommersby. Rumor, innuendo and gossip have surrounded their affair for decades. Only after both Dwight and his wife, Mamie, died did much of the truth come out.
I have to say that Ike came off like a real jerk in this book. Kay, of course, was hardly blameless. She knew he was a married man, and a powerful one as well. If she thought she could win this man she was deluding only herself. Nevertheless, it was interesting to see how the relationship unfolded and to get a glimpse of what they may have meant to one another, especially during the stress of wartime.
I also appreciated the details of other wartime relationships between generals and heads of state. President Franklin D Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchhill and many others make appearances in this novel. One glaring error very nearly spoiled it for me (and totally turned my husband off). MacManus goes on about Patton serving in the Pacific and how he abandoned the Philippines for the relative safety of Australia. The general who did that was MacArthur, not Patton. Wonder what else he got wrong?
Oh well, it’s historical FICTION, and it certainly held my attention.
After some time with my "between books," I'll be reading The Town, the second book in William Faulkner's "Snopes Family" trilogy.
The Amish Christmas Kitchen – Kelly Long, Jennifer Beckstrand, and Lisa Jones Baker
This is a collection of three novellas all focusing on the Amish community and the Christmas season. Frankly, Christmas is pretty much in the background, as they are mostly about a young woman and a young man and how the two of them get together. He’s shy (or she’s shy); she is a marvelous baker of cookies; he is hardworking and always willing to help out; some wise adult will conspire to ensure they end up together. There will be buggy rides, snow, family dinners, and farm chores.
The stories are tender and clean romances, rather straightforward and predictable. The writing is very simple and repetitious. Not my cup of tea.
The three stories:
Baking Love on Ice Mountain by Kelly Long
The Christmas Bakery on Huckleberry Hill by Jennifer Beckstrand
The Special Christmas Cookie by Lisa Jones Baker
I'm with your husband! It's one thing to get a minor detail wrong -- maybe have a soldier carrying a weapon that wasn't in common use in WWII -- but to mix up Patton and MacArthur? Nope. A writer who does that has just lost all credibility in my eyes.
Edward L. Beach
Written by an actual Commodore in the Navy during WWII, Beach weaves an interesting fictional tale surrounding the navy adventures of Edward Richardson as he starts to command the submarine USS Walrus. Richardson’s crew encounter many battles but their major battle is against Captain Tateo Nakame ( Bungo Pete) who is sinking ships and subs in the Bungo Channel that is a strait separating the Japanese islands of Kyushu and Shikoku. I thought there was a nice balance between the battle descriptions and the story of Richardson and his crew. Recommended!
* “Two Foreign Correspondents Describe the Nazi Death Factories” from A Treasury of Great Reporting: "Literature Under Pressure" from the Sixteenth Century to Our Own Time edited by Louis L. Snyder
* “The Naked Truth” by Peter T. White from Magazine Digest - August 1949 edited by Murray Simmons
* “Variations on an Old Theme” from Leaves in the Wind by Alpha of the Plow (a.k.a. A. G. Gardiner)
* “Tardy George” from The Union Reader edited by Richard B. Harwell
* “Forgotten Land” from Tierra del Fuego by Francisco Coloane
* “Heroic Death of Magellan Recalled by Recent Discovery” by Irving A. Leonard from The Mentor, November, 1924 edited by W. D. Moffat
I've now started The Town, the second book in William Faulkner's "Snopes Family" trilogy.