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Thread: February Book Thread

  1. #1

    February Book Thread

    Ok - time to start a new month since it's the 6th already!

    Dark Side by Belinda Bauer

    Good psychological suspense even though the plot is pretty transparent. The "argh" moment came when I realized way into the book that this was a follow-up to her first novel. Not that I think you need to read #1 before this one - but there are a few spoilers (I think). Ah well... her first is winding its way to me now via library transfer.

    Plot: Jonas Holly is the only police officer in his small, remote English village where a murder takes place. In come the big city detectives - led by a wonderfully pompous blowhard senior and his minions. The bodies continue to pile up and the elusive killer is dodging all attempts of capture. Poor Jonas becomes a scapegoat while he tries to solve the mystery, deal w/ sobering personal problems, and keep the Senior Detective off his back.

    Lovely characterizations of small town life, people and habits. Senior Dect. Marvel ticks to an entirely different clock and left me snorting at his less than gentle manners.
    "I can read and write if that's what you mean. I'm not thick or anything just don't ask me where the commas go."
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    The on-line book club I belong to is reading ROOM by Emily Donoghue. I am about halfway through the book and am having trouble putting it down. I read the description and really didn't think I would be interested; glad I didn't listen to myself!

    Kate

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    I just read Mary Wesley's Harnessing Peacocks; it's light but quirky and I enjoyed it. I ordered another of hers, Part of the Furniture, which just came; I try to get these things used through Amazon. At the same time I've been rereading Before the Dawn by Nicholas Wade, which explores the evolution of homonids using mitochondrial DNA and Y chromosomes to track migrations and lineages.
    Chacun à son goût!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kate B View Post
    The on-line book club I belong to is reading ROOM by Emily Donoghue. I am about halfway through the book and am having trouble putting it down. I read the description and really didn't think I would be interested; glad I didn't listen to myself!

    Kate
    Yes, ROOM made a big splash on these threads some months ago. I loved that book and then read her 2 or 3 others and liked them all too, although very different from ROOM.
    Everyone needs to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer. . .

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    I've had the opportunity to read several books in recent weeks. Two especially stand out.

    The first, Fairest Picture: Mark Twain at Lake Tahoe by David C. Antonucci, 2011, is specialized to say the least. However, if there is anyone reading this thread who enjoys Mark Twain or Tahoe, I highly recommend this book to you. The author’s interest began when he took a class on the history of the lake and, for a term paper, used his civil engineering skills to begin to authoritatively identify the sites of Mark Twain's visits to Lake Tahoe during his time in the west. I found the book meticulously researched and very interesting.

    I believe the next book, In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin, by Erik Larson, 2011 may be of interest to more of you. The book describes the experience of William E. Dodd. America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany. A mild-mannered professor from Chicago, Dodd brings along his wife, son, and flamboyant daughter, Martha. I found it to be very well researched, written and annotated.

    At the end of the book, there is a quotation from Christopher Isherwood in his book Down There on a Visit, 1961:

    I walked across the snowy plain of the Tiergarten – a smashed statue here, a newly planted sapling there: the Brandenburger too, with its red flag flapping against the blue winter sky; and on the horizon, the great ribs of a gutted railway station, like the skeleton of a whale. In the morning light it was all as raw and frank as the voice of history which tells you not to fool yourself; this can happen to any city, to anyone, to you.
    Last edited by Kay Henderson; 02-10-2012 at 10:29 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PAMMELA View Post
    Yes, ROOM made a big splash on these threads some months ago. I loved that book and then read her 2 or 3 others and liked them all too, although very different from ROOM.
    Sorry if I brought up old news with this one. I don't check this monthly thread as often as I should!

    Kate

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kate B View Post
    Sorry if I brought up old news with this one. I don't check this monthly thread as often as I should!

    Kate
    I only wanted to tell you that it was great! No apology expected or required!!!
    Everyone needs to believe in something. I believe I'll have another beer. . .

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    My book club just read and discussed The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and we all LOVED it! "a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands."


    i also read We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver. it's a difficult subject but so compelling and well written i could not put down. "Eva never really wanted to be a mother—and certainly not the mother of a boy who ends up murdering seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and a much-adored teacher who tried to befriend him, all two days before his sixteenth birthday. Now, two years later, it is time for her to come to terms with marriage, career, family, parenthood, and Kevin’s horrific rampage, in a series of startlingly direct correspondences with her estranged husband, Franklin. Uneasy with the sacrifices and social demotion of motherhood from the start, Eva fears that her alarming dislike for her own son may be responsible for driving him so nihilistically off the rails. "

    I'm almost finished with The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister, which is OK not fabulous. When i finish that, I might read The Hunger Games, but i don't know if i want to. I also have Cross Currents by Shors, or our next book club book, The Tea Rose by Donnelly--both of which grab me more than Hunger games.

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    Fauve, I loved We Have to Talk About Kevin. Look forward to the movie version. I enjoy anything Lionel Shriver writes!
    “It is not a sign of good health to be well adjusted to a sick society”.----Krishnamurti

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kay Henderson View Post
    In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin, by Erik Larson, 2011 may be of interest to more of you.
    This sounds like one I would love! I take it's still in hardcover? (No room for it in my bag, and I have resisted the call of the Kindle).

    I was feeling kind of down on a gray damp day and found myself in a bookshop at lunchtime a week or so ago and picked up the perfect fluff piece, Armistead Maupin's most recent in the Tales of the City series, Mary Ann in Autumn. I think a lot of die-hard fans of the series were not crazy about it but as as an only so-so fan of the series, I enjoyed it. Quick and light and clearly laying the groundwork for the next one.

    I read Juno's Daughters some time back but forgot to post about it. It's set on a small island off of Washington state and is about a single mother in her early 40s raising two very different daughters. Every summer the island is host to a barrage of actors there to participate in an annual Shakespeare production, resulting, of course, in the introduction of intriguing characters and a shake-up of the normally quiet, sedate island.
    ]Full disclosure: the author is a high school friend of mine, but I would have chosen not to mention the book at all if I hadn't so thoroughly enjoyed it.
    Happiness is not a goal, it is a byproduct. - Eleanor Roosevelt

  11. #11
    Blacklands by Belinda Bauer

    This was her first novel, and by her own admittance, not the novel she had planned to write. The spark that started her thought process flamed as she asked herself how her own life would be altered in the same situation. The resulting story is stunning in its rendering of innocence lost and the devastating outcome of an entire family fractured by a random crime.

    Nineteen years ago, young Billy disappeared and never came back. The logical conclusion was that he was one of several children murdered by a serial killer, and buried in an unmarked grave on the desolate moor. Twelve year old Steven is the son of Billy’s now grown sister, and they live w/ Nan – who stands in the window each day waiting for Billy to return. Steven decides that his family will become happy and whole if he can find the missing body - so he researches the old murders and contacts the guilty prisoner for help. This begins a brilliant psychological cat and mouse game between the deviant killer and naïve Steven.

    Normally, this is not the type of book I would read based on subject matter alone. But having read her second novel (Dark Side) first, I trusted that it wouldn’t be overly graphic or poorly done. Bauer eerily brings to life the twisted thoughts of a very sick man and then just as adroitly takes us into the mind of an innocent boy that only wants to make things right for those he loves.

    Just because there are some recurring characters in the two novels – I would recommend anyone interested to read this one first as there are potential spoilers. They both take place in the same, small, British town – although several years apart.
    "I can read and write if that's what you mean. I'm not thick or anything just don't ask me where the commas go."
    Incendiary by Chris Cleave

  12. #12
    84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff

    Some of you may be familiar w/ the 1987 movie of the same name starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins. I’ve seen it a few times and have always loved it. Just recently, I discovered that Helene was an actual woman and that this movie was adapted from an autobiographical novel she wrote in 1970. There has also been a stage play and a British TV play made.

    This slim little book consists of the actual letters exchanged by Helene (living in NY City) and the employees of a small used bookstore located in London. Beginning in 1949, and continuing on for the next 20 years, Helene and Frank Doel of Marks and Co. Booksellers correspond about books and life. Helene is a struggling script reader and writer who is most outspoken, while Frank is rather restrained.

    While this book is a very quick read – I loved it even more than the film. There are more letters from other employees and Frank’s wife and daughters.

    I’m anxious to read the rest of her several memoirs. She sounds as if she lived an interesting and fascinating life reading and writing and educating herself on her own.
    "I can read and write if that's what you mean. I'm not thick or anything just don't ask me where the commas go."
    Incendiary by Chris Cleave

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by RiverFarm View Post
    I just read Mary Wesley's Harnessing Peacocks; it's light but quirky and I enjoyed it. .
    Since “light but quirky” sounded like what I need at the moment – I found two of her titles in our library system. The first was A Dubious Legacy – which was just a bit too quirky – and I didn’t get far into it before setting it aside. The second title, An Imaginative Experience was a better fit for me. Written in 1995, I was halfway thru the story before I could determine just what time period I was reading about. British Wesley has an unique way of writing that is both very formal and yet off beat at the same time. Her characters are both prudish and exotic by turns and this little romance was defiantly a light but quirky read.

    I’ll be checking for more of her works at the used bookstores I haunt.
    "I can read and write if that's what you mean. I'm not thick or anything just don't ask me where the commas go."
    Incendiary by Chris Cleave

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    Oh, I'm really glad you liked her. I also just read her A Piece of the Furniture which was also odd but interesting. I'll have to look for An Imaginative Experience. I discovered her through Amazon; I enjoyed several of Mary Sheepshanks' books and I also like Katie Fforde, and I think Mary Wesley was suggested for people who liked that kind of fiction. Katie Fforde is fun but she gets very formulaic; there's more to Mary Sheepshanks and I particularly liked Picking Up the Pieces and A Price for Everything. Nice well-written British novels about families.
    Chacun à son goût!

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by RiverFarm View Post
    Katie Fforde is fun but she gets very formulaic; there's more to Mary Sheepshanks and I particularly liked Picking Up the Pieces and A Price for Everything. Nice well-written British novels about families.
    Yes! to both of those authors! Agree w/ your view on Fforde and would love to get my hands on more of Sheepshanks than those same two plus Off Balance (good).

    My first Sheepshank was a special paperback edition for Rosamunde Pilcher's Bookshelf series. These are novels that she gave her nod of approval for. I searched the used bookstores for quite a while and dug up 5 more that introduced me to Barbara Whitnell, Sarah Woodhouse, Elizabeth Buchan and Madeleine Wickham - all good finds. Let me know if you want a list of the ones I've read.
    "I can read and write if that's what you mean. I'm not thick or anything just don't ask me where the commas go."
    Incendiary by Chris Cleave

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    I didn't care for either Off Balance or Facing the Music, by Sheepshanks. The characters and resolutions weren't nearly as appealing. I think I found her books the same way you did; A Price for Everything is from Rosamund Pilcher's Bookshelf. I don't know the other four authors you mentioned, and recommendations would be very welcome.
    Chacun à son goût!

  17. #17
    Price was her first that I read & was the RPB edition. It's been so long since I read the other two that I can't remember what my thoughts were on those.

    Whitnell has many titles, and some are historical novels, some contempory. I've read: Charmed Circle, The View From The Summerhouse, A Clear Blue Sky.

    Woodhouse: Meeting Lilly.

    Wickham: The Gatecrasher, Swimming Pool Sunday.

    Note that all of the above were read several years ago. But since I hung on to all of them - I must have liked them enough to think that I might read them again.

    Buchan: Love her! I have read everything she's written (except the Book Of Hours) and can rec each and every one of them. Read her latest last summer (Seperate Beds).

    You've probably already read Kate Morton - but are you familiar w/ Marcia Willett? Only one there I would not rec is Echoes of The Dance (didn't even try to finish it).

    Ok - enough for now.
    "I can read and write if that's what you mean. I'm not thick or anything just don't ask me where the commas go."
    Incendiary by Chris Cleave

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    I didn't care for Marcia Willett; I have a couple of hers. I just went upstairs and relocated Buchan's The Good Wife Strikes Back, which I read several years ago. I'll try it again; I don't have much memory of it!

    What I like about Sheepshanks is that the two that I enjoyed are interesting, intelligent, and basically upbeat. I took a look at Kate Morton a while back and the book seemed a bit dense and dreary to me.

    I also just reread Alexandra Raife's Drumveyn; one of the Amazon reviews noted that her books were similar to Rosamund Pilcher's and Maeve Binchy's but that her characters had more substance. It's good - a family saga set in Scotland.
    Chacun à son goût!

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    I just read Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel again and think I enjoyed it more than I did some thirty years ago. I had to place Valley of the Horses on hold at the library. I never read any of the other books in the series and am looking forward to it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rosen View Post
    84 Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
    Oh, I loved that movie! It came out when my father was dying; he collected a very specific genre of rare book and in those pre-internet days he would get odd paper pamphlet or find book collectors in the back of niche magazines. And he loved a dark, dusty bookshop. The movie was playing quite near to our home, and when I told him about it he said he was going to go the first day he felt up to it. Of course, that day never came but I think of him whenever I hear "Charring Cross Road".
    Happiness is not a goal, it is a byproduct. - Eleanor Roosevelt

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    Quote Originally Posted by fldivegirl View Post
    I just read Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel again and think I enjoyed it more than I did some thirty years ago. I had to place Valley of the Horses on hold at the library. I never read any of the other books in the series and am looking forward to it.
    These were wonderful books, and the last one just came out -- last year, I think -- I haven't read it, yet, because I'm waiting for summer and some sit-in-the-sun time!
    Kay
    I'm a WYSIWYG person -- no subterfuge here!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Canice View Post
    Oh, I loved that movie! It came out when my father was dying; he collected a very specific genre of rare book and in those pre-internet days he would get odd paper pamphlet or find book collectors in the back of niche magazines. And he loved a dark, dusty bookshop. The movie was playing quite near to our home, and when I told him about it he said he was going to go the first day he felt up to it. Of course, that day never came but I think of him whenever I hear "Charring Cross Road".
    (((Canice))) Did you ever read the book? It's lovely. Thanks for mentioning the Tales of the City series. I've added the books to my Amazon wish list. Had to laugh at "resisted the call of the Kindle". I'm like you in spite of very strong peer pressure.

    Just finished Sharon Kay Penman's When Christ and His Saints Slept. Big thanks to SDMomChef for recommending the trilogy!!! This book also helped me understand parts of "Pillars of the Earth" and hateful referrals to Maude. Pillars covers the same period as the first two books (approximately) but from the perspective of "the people". Anyway, looks like I've found a new writer who's collected work I can exhaust
    We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare and love we can spare. And in return, dogs give us their all. It's the best deal man has ever made.
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    I saw SDMomChef's post about "While Christ and His Saints Slept" and started the series. Its mentioned as a trilogy, but there is a new book in the series.
    "Time and Chance", "Devil's Brood", and "Lionheart".
    The first 3 are older, so I could get them at the library right away. Had to wait awile for "Lionheart". It is about Richard going on th 3rd Crusade.
    Now I need to find out a little more about the Crusades.
    Glad to hear "Pillars of the Earth" is about the same time period.
    I remember Stephen and Maude from the Brother Cadfael series. But somehow I thought that Maude actually ruled some.
    Sharon Kay Penman has written more books about the same period.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wapanstore View Post
    How do I find a pediatrician who will support our decision to delay/selectively vaccinate?
    Reported.
    Chacun à son goût!

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    Quote Originally Posted by swedish cook View Post
    (((Canice))) Did you ever read the book? It's lovely. Thanks for mentioning the Tales of the City series. I've added the books to my Amazon wish list. Had to laugh at "resisted the call of the Kindle". I'm like you in spite of very strong peer pressure.

    Just finished Sharon Kay Penman's When Christ and His Saints Slept. Big thanks to SDMomChef for recommending the trilogy!!! This book also helped me understand parts of "Pillars of the Earth" and hateful referrals to Maude. Pillars covers the same period as the first two books (approximately) but from the perspective of "the people". Anyway, looks like I've found a new writer who's collected work I can exhaust
    I'm so glad that you enjoyed her books! Her books about the Welsh are good too - but took me awhile to get used to the names and the gaelic. But, this series is still my favorite by her. I am absolutely fascinated by Queen Eleanor - and Henry II - thanks to Sharon Kay Penman!

    P.S. As Madpots points out - there is now a fourth in the Series....Lionheart that is focused on King Richard and his Crusade...and I believe there will be another one after that book. The gift that keeps giving....
    Sherri

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    Quote Originally Posted by madpots View Post
    "Lionheart". It is about Richard going on th 3rd Crusade.
    Now I need to find out a little more about the Crusades.
    Over Christmas I re-read Jan Guillou's Crusades Trilogy, where Richard is presented in a most unflattering light (book #2). Looking forward to eventually reading Penman's portrayal of this king. Warning, the first of Guillou's three books is moving at a snail's pace and goes into detailed descriptions of Nordic life in the 1100's. The third, according to DD1, "couldn't possibly be of interest to non-Swedes". Harsh sentence??
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    Canice, you were wondering if In the Garden of Beasts is still hardback only. According to one source I read, it is to come out in paperback in May.

    Kay

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    Just finished Undressing the Moon by T. Greenwood. It follows a young woman with cancer who reflects on her life. It is quite sad but not sappy. I liked it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LakeMartinGal View Post
    These were wonderful books, and the last one just came out -- last year, I think -- I haven't read it, yet, because I'm waiting for summer and some sit-in-the-sun time!
    I finished Valley of the Horses earlier this week and am now reading The Help before I go on to The Mammoth Hunters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fldivegirl View Post
    I finished Valley of the Horses earlier this week and am now reading The Help before I go on to The Mammoth Hunters.
    All good books! Glad you're enjoying them.
    Kay
    I'm a WYSIWYG person -- no subterfuge here!

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