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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,024
6/30/18 12:37 P

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Saints and Villain by Denise Giardina (3*)
What was I thinking downloading historical fiction about the life of Deitrich Bonhoeffer! Integrity? Nah, forget it! In her afterward the author says "some 'facts' have been altered because of the demands of the story." Had the story been altered to meet the demands of the facts, then we probably would have had a much better book--the truth makes a great story, the author's poetic license not so much. Where the author seriously departed from the facts, the story became a cheesy melodramatic soap opera unsuitable to the serious subject, and the fictional characters, well, even the "non-fictional" ones, were rather weak compared to the real life characters they replaced. The weakest material in the book was the barfworthy affair with the fictional Elizabeth and the arrogant, whiny Elizabeth's perpetual high horse. You will not come away from this book with much real understanding of Bonhoeffer, although the author tries to fool you into believing that you did.


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: 8,024
6/26/18 1:55 A

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Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee (2*)
This book is a mixed bag of quality and crap. There are two stories of self-destructiveness, the primary one about the professor in a mid-life crisis is an excellent, well-constructed character study rich in insight. However, the secondary story about his masochistic, ditzy, demented daughter moving some sleazebags onto her property and letting them use and abuse her and take all she has is sloppily done with inadequate development of character and motive. It had so many amateurishly unnatural and senseless What The Fudge! moments that I wished I could edit it out entirely so that it wouldn't get in the way of her father's story. So 5* for David's story, 1* for the idiotic Lucy story=3*, then minus1* for a really sucky ending=2*.

Edited by: LADYCALICO at: 6/26/2018 (02:26)
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: 8,024
6/24/18 11:30 P

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Wind, Sand and Stars by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (5*)
What an unusual book! Imagine a French Charles Lindbergh channelled Emerson and writing it down in the poetic imagery of Robert Frost. It is indeed a series of loosely strung vignettes about the author's life history in the pioneering days of flight while he engages his mind in philosophizing upon what he's seen and experienced and then expresses it in beautiful lyrical imagery. I could see the earthly ingredients that would come to be baked into his great children's fantasy, The Little Prince, being gathered in these memoirs. It was so poignant to read his negative views on suicide and also how it was an appropriate death for an aviator to crash his plane into the sea, knowing that this multi-gifted giant among men, so full of the love of life, risk, and adventure, a mere five years after writing this book would crash his plane into the Mediterranean, during an intensely bleak period of his life, in a possible suicide.

The Pianist: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Survival in Warsaw, 1939–45 by Wladyslaw Szpilman (5*)
I find it hard to review books that I loved with deep passion, like the Pianist. For one thing there's that depth of humanity and understanding that makes me feel as if it is a desecration to rate someone's most heartfelt thoughts and memories in a work of very personal nonfiction. It also amazes me that it is so devastatingly well-expressed even though the author wasn't a writer. He composes it in a cool journalistic style, with the understated elegance of its prose making the horror related within that much more unforgettably shattering. It also has the feel of the author writing it for himself and not to sell a novel, as if he must write down ASAP a melody that is running through his mind before he loses it forever. Imagine being Szpilman's 12-year old son, finding this book and learning his father's unstated life history through it! This is a great book, and every human will be even more human after he's read it. The material in the appendix is also well worth reading. Like Suite Française, this is a book that was lost, but through the efforts of the author's children, it eventually made it into the world, better late than never, because it was supposed to be.

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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FRABBIT's Photo FRABBIT Posts: 6,581
6/24/18 5:20 P

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The 14th Deadly Sin - James Patterson 3 stars

Lindsey Boxer is involved in tracking down two crimes. One of a serial killer that always strikes on her friend's birthday and the second involves 3 cops robbing drug dealers. One of the better ones in the series. Good suspense.

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FRABBIT's Photo FRABBIT Posts: 6,581
6/23/18 7:06 P

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The Red Book - Deborah Copaken Kogan 4 stars

I really enjoyed reading this book of 4 former roommates coming together for their 20th reunion from Harvard. I think I could have been friends with these four and it was interesting to see how their lives had changed since Harvard as well as that of their classmates. At times it was a bit slow, and sometimes a bit predictable but it left me wanting to learn more about the characters and where their lives went.

Edited by: FRABBIT at: 6/24/2018 (17:18)
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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,024
6/19/18 4:53 P

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Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather (5*)
How odd that Cather chose a title about death for a book that is more about life and living it to the fullest in the service of God and man. This fictionalized story, based on the lives of Fathers Jean-Baptiste Lamy and Joseph Projectus Machebeuf, is written in such a starkly beautiful style, so appropriate for the fictional Bishop Latour, who disliked excess ornamentation and so appreciated the beauty of stark simplicity--in architecture, the desert landscape, and the Navajos' oneness with nature. As I age, I find myself appreciating with gratitude those who said "I will go, Lord, if you lead me" and carried the faith through the centuries to us today. In this book Cather makes me appreciate them all the more by showing these courageous, dedicated, and accomplished men and women of the cloth as frail humans, like us, with vulnerabilities, mistakes, doubts, loneliness, and insecurities that they had to overcome to follow their calling and in some of the most beautiful prose in literature.



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: 8,024
6/16/18 7:41 P

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Honey in the Horn by H.L. Davis (4*)
This novel has a slow rambling start, but eventually a main protagonist emerges, and a story then rises up around his travels, adventures, and romance. The author not only tells the story but also includes a lot of educational material as background. I usually find such digressions way less interesting than the story, but they do make reading broadening. Here, the author not only describes the landscape of various parts of Oregon but emphasizes the type of characters, jobs, troubles, and villains the turn of the 20th Century homesteader was likely to encounter. However, I cannot give 5* to a book that lets its most putrid villain escape all consequences for her crimes while others take the punishment. That may be realism but since I really wanted to see that vile jerk stew in her own rancid juices, this book doesn't get five stars for disappointing me so much!

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard (5*)
This Hamlet told from the backside takes two of the most insignificant members of Shakespeare's play and makes them the most significant ones of Stoppard's. They are the bit players, the unimportant everyday Joe's of the world, who receive little notice except when convenient to be used as tools by more powerful proactive playwrights and players, then discarded when no longer needed. They go with the flow unable to envision re-writing the script of their lives, thus helplessly becoming the pawns of the scriptwriters. It was supposed to be a comedy with a tragic end, but I personally found most of it depressing from beginning to end--no sense of humor I guess--utterly brilliant though!

Edited by: LADYCALICO at: 6/16/2018 (19:41)
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: 10,788
6/12/18 12:34 P

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Walter Kempowski, "All for Nothing," 5 stars

This is a restrained, quiet, but in the end devastating picture of a family estate in Germany at the end of World War II. The author draws broad-stroke portraits of the people at and near the estate---aristocrats, servants, enslaved laborers, evacuees, prisoners of war, local Party functionaries, church leaders, children...---and uses them to create a microcosm of a society blind to its own contradictions, flaws, and errors. It seems unbelievable in a way to imagine that the populace could have been so uninformed, almost indifferent to the war being waged around them. Yet the story rings true in so many ways. Don't we all turn a blind eye to certain injustices, especially if they don't touch us directly? That's what makes this account so stunning in the end. Tyranny, as we know, is not "just" about undisguised violence. It includes as well our willful myopia, which allows it to occur unimpeded off-stage.

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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,024
6/12/18 1:36 A

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Laughing Boy: A Navajo Love Story by Oliver La Farge (5*)
What a truly magnificent, beautiful, thought provoking novel with a most unique and creative story that must have been revolutionary for its day. It is not only a character study of the manipulative controlling Thin Girl, the missionary-educated misfit, and her obliviously subjugated husband, Laughing Boy, but also a more humane, authentic, and appreciative explication of a Native American ethos than would have been seen in the movies and Western pulp fiction stereotypes of its day. The author was an anthropologist who lived among the Navajo and wrote a thesis on them, so he was more knowledgeable than the average "American" writer and wished to keep the cultural background authentic and infuse genuine humanity into his characters.

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: 8,024
6/11/18 2:52 P

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Five Plays: Ivanov / The Seagull / Uncle Vanya / The Three Sisters / The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov (5*)
Generally, these plays were undramatic drama about people, who by the social standards of the day, would be considered relatively comfortable, but instead they are living lives of quiet desperation, beset with problems which are earthshaking only to themselves and often of their own creation, which wouldn't have happened to wiser, more stable, and foresighted people. You either love Chekhov's plays for his character studies or find his lack of momentous events and action boring. Personally, I am a rather undramatic person, so I love them. I kept thinking that at the times these plays were written, the brutish lives of many starving peasants were reaching unbearable limits making the existential angst of Chekhov's educated, land-owning, self-pitying characters appear so trivial in comparison. He clearly demonstrates how much of unhappiness is about character and attitude, not only the circumstances.

The Purple Plain by H.E. Bates (5*)
In 1943 Burma, unbeknownst to Squadron Leader Forrester (or us), he is under observation for a possible Section 8--or whatever is the British equivalent--even though his remote RAF unit is desperately in need of manpower and Murphy's Law is righteously fulfilling itself at every opportunity. Just when he straightens out and starts to regain his humanity and will to live, it looks as if his death wish will finally be fulfilled, taking several others down with him. This was a really great book with an unusual plot for a WWII novel, about some very human and flawed characters in a miserable situation with both the overused men and planes under a great deal of stress and strain. Although there is war action in this book, it is more of a character study of both the self-destructive flight commander and WWII Burma. Most of the time I didn't know whether I felt sorry for Forrester or just wanted to slap him silly.


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: 8,024
6/11/18 1:01 A

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Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (5*)
Told from the point of view of a 14-year-old girl who will be spending the next 12 years in Siberian work camps, this is a heartbreaking book, but what a masterpiece, about the Russian takeover of the Baltic people of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in WWII, that resulted in the deaths of about 1/3 of the population. Wanting to rid the conquered lands of the educated, professional, and successful, those not executed as political criminals were sent to die of cold, hunger, disease, and hard work in Siberian work camps, hidden and not released from slavery until after Stalin's death in 1953. The author made a noble effort to keep the background history accurate and authentic. This is a brutally realistic story that explores the outer limits of humanity, in terms of the nobility of some, the depths of depravity of others, and so many in between lost, hurt, and frightened in a seemingly endless and hopeless nightmare.

The Lover by Marguerite Duras (4*)
Set in 1929 Saigon a miserable 15-year-old French school girl from a dysfunctional family becomes the mistress of a spoiled, weak, opium addicted 27-year-old Chinese millionaire's son, for what money and pleasure she can get to escape her unbearable existence. I can't say that I enjoyed this novella, a work of fiction based on the author's own life story. Buried in too much yada, yada, there was an excellent short story about an affair between maladjusted misfits, and then there were moments when the writing was breathtakingly beautiful, and then there was the rest of it. She kept going off on bunny trails, some relevant to understanding the girl, some relevant to nothing. It was like she cut her book into jigsaw puzzle pieces, shook the box, dumped the pieces on the floor, and said, "you put it together, I don't feel like organizing." I'm so glad it wasn't any longer.

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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FRABBIT's Photo FRABBIT Posts: 6,581
6/10/18 6:03 P

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Dune Road - Jane Green 2.5 stars

recently divorced woman in affluent job gets job working as assistant to famous but reclusive author and gets involved with a very handsome man. Halfway through the half sister she doesn't know she had shows up in town. Add in her friend the yoga instructor and her best friend whose family suddenly face serious economic issues.

Way too formulaic with not enough character development. though it was an easy read I was disappointed that I didn't use the time to read something more substantial. I took it on a trip otherwise I would have switched to something else.

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FITMARY's Photo FITMARY Posts: 10,788
6/8/18 6:09 P

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Oooo, thanks so much for opening my eyes to "The Eyre Affair." I hadn't seen it, but now I can't wait to try.
p.s. Hope it's okay I'm posting this message here. I'll have a review of Walter Kempowski, "All for Nothing" soon.

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LADYCALICO's Photo LADYCALICO Posts: 8,024
6/3/18 12:44 P

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Love Walked in by Marisa de los Santos (1*)
A Philadelphia cafe manager, who's obsessed with old movies, falls for a Cary Grant look-a-like. She bonds with his daughter, who was abandoned by his bipolar ex-wife, even though the father is unable to do so, which causes her to re-evaluate his faults and their relationship. I found this cheesy romance to be rambling, wordy, repetitious, pretentious, and oh, so tedious, It was an absolute ordeal to slog through, requiring a great deal of force to make it to the end.

Edited by: LADYCALICO at: 6/3/2018 (12:49)
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: 8,024
6/2/18 2:48 P

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The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (5*)
In an alternative 1985 literature arouses even stronger passions than does sports, and with time travel now common, we thus find an alternative history because too many time travelers have gone back to change history for their own side or enrichment. This book was such a hoot! In this era of trite faddy gender-bending novels, it was so refreshing to read an original and creative genre-bending novel--a time-travel book-travel dystopian alternative history comic crime romance for bookworms. Although it shares a similar Monty Python style of humor with Terry Pratchett and Doug Adams, it is done with enough intelligence and erudition to satisfy those of us who would much prefer remaining on our easy chairs reading the classics to going hitchhiking through the galaxy. What fun if author bubblegum cards were more valuable than baseball cards--anybody out there want to trade a Jane Austen for a Lucy Maud Montgomery?

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: 8,024
6/2/18 2:42 P

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Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos (3*)
City woman and doctor husband wanting to start a family move to a tony suburb where she encounters a down-putting perfectionistic snob and also tries to befriend a free spirit whose secrets and lies present obstacles to closeness. Essentially, Desperate Housewives moves Wisteria Lane to The Real Housewives of Philadelphia Suburbs. This was a badly flawed and boring book. On the plus side it had well developed characters and some sharp, witty dialogue, especially when they were being catty. It could have been a good 200 page novel; too bad it was dragged out to 400 pages by the author's out of control descriptomania and excessive Taurette-like repetition of the f-bomb and blasphemies.

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: 8,024
6/1/18 10:03 A

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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!

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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