Sunday, October 21, 2018

Books Reviewed!!!!

“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.” 
― Voltaire

    A few weeks ago, PBS advertised the beginning of  "The Great American Read".  So I looked up and printed off the hundred books on the current list. (Go to link to see list.) Out of the 100, there are 36 I have not read, so being the devoted reader that I am, I decided to make a point of reading those, either manually or audibly.  I am still working on the list but have either read or dismissed the following reviews so far.  As I either began reading or listening, I did  begin to realize why I had not read some of them...and dismissed them; not compelled to finish them! So those I will list first... now keep in mind this is just my opinion!  You may feel completely different from my decision.

  My Dismissed List (so far):

     1. Fifty Shades of Gray by E. L. James-I never did have an interest in this series so didn't even attempt to read this one.
     2. Foundation by Issac Asimov- I did try this book from Asimov's series and, although I do like SciFi, this one was a little too far out for me.
     3. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson- and after the first 50 or so pages, I knew this was going to be 'way too preachy for me.
     4. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams - again, 50 or so pages in, a bit too much SciFy!
     5. The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan- This is the book that the gals in "Little Women" turned to for solace!  Not my speed, thank you, but I did try!
     6. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe- started out pretty interestingly, a village in deepest Africa, probably late 1800's but not sure; didn't finish...'way too much violence towards children and women!
     7. White Teeth by Zadie Smith- Again this had a good start; but the characters just became too annoying for me to want to continue with them!

The Books I Did Finish..(one to three stars)

     8. Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin -*** Delightful!  I had seen the TV series several years ago, but had not read any of the books..I will continue with the series.
     9. A Separate Peace by John Knowles***-just one of those I had not gotten around to reading; very readable coming of age story set in  early 40's; privileged white boys' private school; early WWII.
    10. Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins-***A tale about the Rapture, which is a fairy tale as far as my belief system I read it like SciFi and  could then enjoy the intrigue developed....I will probably not continue with the series.
    11. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad ***-written in 1898; well written tale of Marlowe, a seaman stranded deep in the Congo.  Because of the time it was written, the book seemed a bit stiff to read compared to our more fluid writing style of today.
    12. Hatchett by Gary Paulson***- Young boy must fend for himself after the plane he is in with only the pilot, who does not survive, goes down in the Alaskan wilds. Very readable; is a series...probably more YT in subject matter.
    13. The Shack by William P. Young *- a cloying tale of loss and coming to faith while bonding in the wilderness with the Trinity; I continued with it because I was waiting to see how god (who was a large black woman) explained why he/she would allow these tragedies to occur...never did get an answer.
Books with four-five stars on my scale

    14. Ready, Player One by Ernest Cline **** A very good read, especially if you are a 15 year old nerd, really into virtual reality! This was a SciFi book I could enjoy...from the narrator's standpoint  of life in the future and how good conquers evil in the virtual gaming world!
    15. Ghost by Jason Reynolds **** Not a "scary" ghost story...but another coming of age story from the opposite end of the scale...poor black boy with a talent for track...discovered by his coach who befriends him in the worst of times.
   16. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon**** A story of an autistic boy, mid teens; his dealings with change, trust issues, imagination...very well done by Haddon who has written many books for teen boys; one has to feel he must have had experience with autism to write so authentically!
    17. Their Eyes Are Watching God  by Zora Neale Hurston***** I really recommend the audio version of this book if you can get the one with Ruby Dee reading!  She really makes the characters come to life!!

     And that concludes the Great American Read Books I have read...or not!  I will continue to read the rest of my list (or not) and will report back!  In the meantime, I have also read or listened to several books not on the list which I would like to review now.

  First a list of just three star books:
     1. All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda *** A mystery of a young woman coming home to help care for a sick father; there is a new case of a missing girl, resembling a case that took place when she lived there several years ago.
    2. Commonwealth by Ann Patchett *** Tale of dysfunctional families, divorce, stepchildren etc.  Just OK...tended to be a bit annoying at times.
    3. Being Closed Doors by B.A. Paris *** The "perfect" marriage!  Or is it??? How to deal with being married to a maniac!  I needed to find out how she finally copes with her less than ideal marriage, but I just wanted to slap her silly for being such an idiot at times!

     And now my four and five star books!

     1. I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon **** This was a bit of different twist on the age old tale of the Romanovs.  It is narrated by Anna Anderson, the lady who claimed to be Anastasia...I had not ever read anything from her point of view...and also narrated by Anastasia Romanov. Interesting approach!  And now with all the  scientific means to dispel the myths surrounding the Family,  the novel sheds a whole new way of looking at the probable fraud.

     2. The Good House by Ann Leary **** A very entertaining story of a middle aged lady who happens to be a realtor in a small New England town and an alcoholic!  The various characters and her dealings with family and customers creates some interesting situations for her...although there are many humorous incidents, the topic of alcoholism is handled very seriously and adds to  the development of the theme.

     4. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate ***** A heartbreaker!  A historical fiction based on the stealing of poor children by a state run orphanage in Tennessee from 1939 until  just recently. Then the children are adopted out to wealthy families unable to have children of their own.

     5. The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck ***** One of my favorites!  And a bookclub pick.  What I found particularly interesting in this book was the description of how some good Germans got taken in by Hitler and the whole Nazi mentality.  Although the characters are fictitious, the plot to kill Hitler was real...this just takes us to the end of WWII and how hard life was for those who had tried to do the right thing.....Strong women, for the most part, making difficult decisions for survival.

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