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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
5/29/18 12:01 A

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Heaven is a Beautiful Place: A Memoir of the South Carolina Coast by Genevieve C. Peterkin and William P. Baldwin III (5*)

This is a book I considered for the "local author" category in the Popsugar Reading Challenge, a collection or memories about Murrells Inlet, SC, of a bygone time and the author's own life, and she's had more than her share of both ecstasies and agonies. Although I am just a newbee transplanted Yankee with only 22 years in the area, I found this book going straight for my heart in a very personal way. I have lost many friends who described childhood adventures on the rivers, beaches, and marshes similar to those in this book, and I miss them so much that this book made me both sadly and happily nostalgic. I knew the book was a collection of local stories, but I never imagined it would be so real, warm, honest, personal, and so beautifully capture the quieter, more graceful, more gentile lifestyle that is vanishing forever. I'm so glad that Sister Peterkin kindly bequeathed the Murrells Inlet of her heart to us before she went to an even more beautiful place.

Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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FITMARY's Photo FITMARY Posts: 10,776
5/28/18 6:16 P

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Ha, ha, Lady Calico! I have so many books on my to-read list that I'm usually glad to get one crossed off. I'm taking your word on that book, until something proves otherwise!
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FRABBIT's Photo FRABBIT Posts: 6,574
5/28/18 4:23 P

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Prep - Curtis Sittenfeld 3 stars

This is the story of a Midwest girl who gets a scholarship to attend boarding school in the Northeast. It was an easy book to read but not an easy character to follow. She was a teenager who worried about a lot but overall she was just annoying. It did not seem like she ever had a happy time and even those she did she only alluded to them. It didn't have much of a plot and it all centered around the one character. I had heard great things about this book but I don't think it lived up to the hype.

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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
5/27/18 1:35 A

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Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli (2*)
Gay adolescent boy with crush on an email friend gets outed by schoolmate just as he was trying to get the courage to out himself to his family and friends. Okay, another contemporary novel that everybody else claims to love, but I hated. I am thinking that I should stick to books written in the 20th century and earlier when writers were...what's the word?... literate. I found this book to be phony, pretentious, superficial, predictable, and stereotypical. The author gives the impression of having slept through her high school English classes and has such a limited vocabulary that if you took away her f-bomb she would lose all ability to communicate. An English lit teacher friend recently quit teaching because she could no longer in good conscience teach the new reading list the school gave her, with genre classics being replaced by light weight and often vulgar contemporary YA books that impart essentially nothing of importance or depth--after reading this vapid specimen, I know exactly what she means and why she quit.

Edited by: LADYCALICO at: 5/27/2018 (01:36)
Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
5/27/18 1:14 A

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FITMARY: please don't cross it off based on my review, read others. After all, I liked Everything I Never Told You, which may be an indicator of my bad taste!

Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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FITMARY's Photo FITMARY Posts: 10,776
5/26/18 10:12 A

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Lady Calico, I really enjoy your reviews! Thanks for the heads-up on Little Fires Everywhere. I had read Everything I Never Told You and found it irritating, despite some glowing reviews elsewhere, so I'm glad I can cross this one off the list as well!



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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
5/25/18 8:07 P

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Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (1*)
A wealthy mom offers cheap rent to an apartment trying to help an itinerant, self-absorbed artiste and her neglected daughter. Soon every member of both families is drawn in and damaged by the value clashes that come as both moms meddle in other peoples' lives. Ugh, I hated this book. It was so divorced from reality that I found no way to relate to the story and the arrogant psychopaths whom the author presents as heroic. Her reasoning makes no sense when what she tells us about her heroines' wonderfulness is contradicted by their horrible behaviors that she shows us! This celebration of toxic narcissists is a twisted story, which sympathizes only with the most pernicious perpetrators of harm, yet gives no thought, concern, or empathy to their victims or the unfortunates who get stuck cleaning up their messes.

Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
5/25/18 7:56 P

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FITMARY, I know some flytiers--they are indeed a most obsessive lot!

Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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FITMARY's Photo FITMARY Posts: 10,776
5/24/18 9:51 A

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The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century by Kirk Wallace Johnson (4.5 stars)
This is a compelling and well-told story of modern-day fascination with the historical art of fly tying. If that sounds boring, rest assured that it is not! The book is rich in action and drama. Johnson provides ample historical material, all related in broad strokes to engage the modern reader and contextualize his tale of the theft of precious feathers from a museum in England. Each chapter is a gem, especially in the beginning of the volume, where he sets the stage for a decidedly odd cast of characters. This is not normally a book I would have chosen, but I'm very glad I came across it and started reading. I couldn't put it down!

p.s. Thanks so much for the review of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, Lady Calico! I'd never gotten around to it. Now I don't have to!


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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
5/23/18 1:30 P

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The Reader by Bernhard Schlink (5*)
This is a novel in three parts, each with a different focus and tone, narrated by Michael, a postwar German adolescent who becomes sexually involved, to the detriment of his psychosocial and sexual development, with an enigmatic and bovine older woman, Hanna. They intersect again when he is a law student observing a war crimes trial in which Hanna is tried and convicted. Several years later he, knowing her secret about why she likes to be read to, begins sending her cassettes in which he reads aloud to her. This is a very complex book that can be read as a well-crafted bildungsroman, as well as on an allegorical level as a philosophical and psychological analysis of the postwar generation's ambivalence and inability to come to grips with the pernicious reality about parents/people whom they loved and respected as children being part of the atrocities that made up WWII and the holocaust. The first part contains graphic sexual material, that is not superfluous but part of the honesty and gritty reality with which the narrator must deal in order to overcome the detached "numbness' in which he goes through the motions of life.

Edited by: LADYCALICO at: 5/23/2018 (13:54)
Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
5/22/18 5:58 P

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Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky (5*)
Although the two existing parts of this WWII literary symphony are probably not as good as they might have been had the author given them their final polish, it was still an engrossing novel filled with vivid, very human characters who find themselves in confusing and perilous circumstances, often making foolish decisions since their usual habits, precepts, and value systems no longer apply to their present situation, but they don't yet see it. She imagined the symphony moving through Storm (invasion), Sweetness (respite after the storm), Captivity (despotic crack-downs), Battles (fighting back), and Peace. That is how the war in France would indeed progress, although as an ethic Jew, the author would not live to see beyond the first two movements. She needed to wait for history to unfold in order to make her writing accurate enough to ring true, but death at Auschwitz overruled her plans, as she knew it would. The preface from the original French publication tells how this novel came to be published in 2004 against all odds, quite a story in itself!

Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
5/20/18 3:26 P

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A High Wind in Jamaica by Richard Hughes (5*)
Seven children from plantations in Jamaica are being transported to English boarding schools after a killer hurricane. They are accidentally stranded on a pirate vessel when their ship is robbed at sea, and they find themselves living an even more wild and crazy life than their indulgent parents had permitted on the Island. This novel had to be such a pioneering work for its day and a most unique and clever one at that. Whatever the norms and mores were for early 20th century literature, I am sure this novel managed to break free of most of them. I can't say that it is my type of book, but I can certainly admire the author's unique style, creativity and originality, and what this book must have represented in its own time, and its inspiration to future authors.

Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle (1*)
They don't make words that accurately describe just how much I hated this nauseating garbage about a truly vile little sociopathic hoodlum-wannabe and his gang. It describes through Paddy's point of view their daily routine of sadism and property damage, just because causing pain and destructiveness are fun--vandalism, fire-setting, theft, kicking dogs, hurting anyone they can, although the mentally disabled appear to be their favorite target for cruelty. The book gets old and boring really fast, and although relatively short, it felt interminable--hurt, steal, vandalize, then tomorrow...wash, rinse, repeat, ad nauseum. I think it was supposed to be funny--it wasn't. I am just glad to be finished and can now consign this trash to the dump.


Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
5/16/18 8:14 P

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The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje (3*)
A shell-shocked Canadian nurse, a thief who was a friend of her late father, and a disillusioned Sikh sapper who's clearing the area of mines share a bomb-damaged Pisa villa, where a mysterious unidentified burn patient is dying and tells them the story of his adventurous life and the death of his greatest love.
I think I would have rated the book higher if I hadn't seen the movie first, but the book tries to be postmodern surreal and edgy at the expense of the story's realism and the humanity of its weird characters. The book was often brilliant and the author is due credit for the original and creative story, but the movie cut out the more oddball stuff, gave the characters much more humanity, and changed details in ways that made better sense and held the story together.

The Lovelock Version by Maurice Shadbolt (5*)
The story follows the lives, loves, and adventures of three English immigrant brothers and their families seeking their fortune and the fulfillment of their vastly divergent visions in late 19th and early 20th century New Zealand while encountering some of the most colorful and eccentric characters in literature, some of them based on real historical figures, others not. I found the book rather unevenly written, boring in sections, enthralling in others, but I must rate it high in spite of many criticisms because I have never read anything like it--sometimes gritty, sometimes surreal; sometimes funny, sometimes philosophical; and filled with brilliant quotes. I didn't always enjoy it, but I sure am glad that I read it.

Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
5/9/18 10:33 P

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Kindred by Octavia E. Butler (4*)
A sophisticated African-American women is mysteriously transported back and forth between 1976 California and a 19th century Maryland plantation where she experience the cruelties of slavery first hand. She repeatedly saves the life of the dissolute, reckless young master, who is her own great, great, etc. grandfather.
This novel is about time travel, so it is mislabeled science fiction, even though there is no science involved. No attempt is made to explain the mechanism that moves the protagonists through time, nor is it consistent; it operates arbitrarily through some unknown force of fate. I found it to be an original, creative, often tense, and impressive read as long as you don't expect it to consistently make sense and don't hold your breathe waiting for any hows, whys, and wherefores to be clarified.

The Things We Cherished by Pam Jenoff (3*)
A love triangle complicates the efforts of three attorneys defending an elderly businessman against charges of collaborating with the Nazis in a war crime that led to the deaths of many Jewish children and his own brother who was trying to smuggle them to safety. The key to their defense lies in finding the family's missing antique clock that contains something hidden in the base.
This book was disappointing, soap-opera melodramatic, lacking in reality contact, and its characters too flat and underdeveloped. It had the potential to be good story if skillfully planned, organized, and executed, but it wasn't. It vastly exceeded sane limits to coincidental implausibilities, and the plot hung upon a major, and ridiculously stupid, impossibility.



Edited by: LADYCALICO at: 5/16/2018 (19:27)
Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
5/9/18 8:34 P

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The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy (5*)
An unhappily married Englishwoman must protect and provide for her two daughters and always obstinate but now increasingly senile mother-in-law on Guernsey while her husband is away in the British army and the Nazis occupy the island. To complicate matters further she falls in love with a married German officer, even though they both know that this can't turn out good.
Maybe it's a relative thing. I've been reading a lot of bad books lately, so it was so refreshing to read a book with characters that resembled real human beings facing realistic problems and dangers in an exciting story of war and relationships that was difficult to put down.

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (3*)
This story focuses on five main protagonists in a small Wisconsin college where the pitiful baseball team is turned around by an unlikely but phenomenal shortstop, who then chokes and cannot recover his abilities.
I didn't enjoy this book. The characters were rather unsympathetic cardboard stereotypes in a story that tended to drag on and on in so many places. I am also sick to death of novels that the author misuses to repeatedly inflict the reader with inappropriate injections of his politics. Seriously, Dude, the book is already bad enough without throwing your garbage into it, too.

Edited by: LADYCALICO at: 5/9/2018 (21:05)
Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
5/6/18 4:11 P

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Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison (2*)
I found this diary narrating the life and loves of a 14-year old British schoolgirl rather boring and was glad it was a short quick read. Georgia could be described as a younger Bridget Jones or a female Adrian Mole, so people who have never read the superior earlier-published books might find it enjoyable, but I could not. I couldn't see this book as anything other than just a blatant rip-off of its predecessors with nothing to offer beyond them except Angus, the cat, so an extra star for Angus. The author's lack of originality and creativity is just sad!

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones (2*)
A successful man is imprisoned on a false rape charge in spite of a solid alibi and an expensive hot-shot attorney, who never thought to enter the DNA evidence of his innocence. O-kay! His rich spoiled "artiste" wife has an affair with their closest friend and is all "what will we do?" when her husband wins his appeal and is released. Thus, ensues a reprehensible story of casual adultery and abortions about protagonists (can't call them characters since character is exactly what they lack) so repulsive and unsympathetic that who cares what happened to them or who ended up with whom. The synopsis sounded intriguing, but the author proved that having a good idea for a story and delivering a good execution of that story line are two vastly different things. I couldn't imagine the hideous Celestial finding two men dysfunctional and stupid enough to fall in love with her, but it's in the script and, hey, manure does attract flies! If you would like a pretentious sloppy mess about narcissists who not only lack a moral compass but have no idea what a moral compass is, then this is a book for you.

Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
5/6/18 2:54 P

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Sulfur Springs by William Kent Krueger (1*)
The synopsis sounded intriguing--recently married retired sheriff and his wife travel to southern Arizona when her son disappears after a phone call about killing Rodriguez, that they will learn is the name of the family that runs a vicious Mexican crime cartel operating through that area. Thereafter ensues one of the worst books that I have ever had the misfortune to read. As verbose, redundant, and repetitious as an old LP album with the needle stuck in a groove. It's one redeeming value is that you could probably bury it in your garden to help the roses bloom--I hear manure is good for that.

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (3*)
The Director of the Louvre is murdered leaving clues as he dies to his granddaughter and a visiting Harvard professor--which results in both of them becoming the prime suspects. I didn't enjoy this book and can't see what so many people loved about it--maybe they believed the made up tripe the author used for background history and clues, mixing truth and fiction in a most confusing, misleading, and unethical manner. I found a lot of the dialogue stilted, and the story itself dragged out in yawning tediousness. I've read way better mysteries and am glad to put this one behind me. I did wonder about the author's anti-Catholic bigotry--did he go to a parochial school and get smacked once too often by a nun with a ruler or what?

Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,023
5/2/18 8:43 P

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Please share your reading with the other team members. Let's help each other find interesting books to read, including fiction, non-fiction, plays, novellas, and short story or poetry anthologies.
Please post and rate every book members read during the month and tell each other a little about them. Please list title, author, and a 1-5* rating.
If you choose, please follow with a brief summary of what the book was about and what you did, or did not like about it.

1 star--* hated it!
2 star--** bad but not the worst, some positive attributes.
3 star--*** A good read, entertaining but nothing spectacular.
4 stars--**** A great read, above average.
5 stars--***** An awesome read, among the best!

Edited by: LADYCALICO at: 5/9/2018 (22:36)
Lola--Eastern Standard Time
And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. Micah 6:8
"If you trust in yourself and believe in your dreams and follow your star...you'll still get beaten by people who spent their time working hard and learning things and weren't so lazy." Terry Pratchett


 current weight: 177.0 
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