February 02, 2012

February 2012

In unseasonably warm weather, we hoped the groundhog wouldn’t screw it up and let us have an early spring.  Only time will tell how this February will turn out.  At least we have a lot of books to look forward to.

Harry Potter series – J. K. Rowling
Catherine the Great – Robert Massie
Empress Elizabeth (brought Sophia over from Germany, changed her name to Catherine) had over 15,000 dresses and robes when she died.
This Book is Overdue – Marilyn Johnson
A Fan’s Notes – Frederick Esley  best novel since Gatsby, will break your heart but put it back together
The Checklist Manifesto:  How to Get Things Right – Atul Gawande  organize yourself better, a lively read with life-changing ripples
Mrs. Adams in Winter:  A Journey in the Last Days – Michael O’Brien  gripping true story of a woman who traveled from St. Petersburg to Paris in a 40-day race in 1815
Vanished Smile:  The Mysterious Theft of the Mona Lisa – R.A. Scotti  rollicking good story of a real theft
Hellhound on his Trail – Hampton Sides  true story of James Earl Ray who stalked MLK
Death by Leisure:  A Cautionary Tale – Chris Ayres  snarky tales of LA
A Reliable Wife – Robert Goolrich  domestic thriller, mail order bride 1907 Wisconsin
A Gift from the Sea – Anne Morrow Lindbergh
So Brave, Young and Handsome – Leif Enger  rip-roaring Western of grit
Roman Fever and Other Stories – Edith Wharton
Await Your Reply – Dan Chaon  get an adrenaline rush
Revenge of the Spellmans – Lisa Lute series of mysteries, another wild ride
They Call Me Naughty Lola – David Rose
Food Rules – Michael Pollan
Omnivore’s Dilemma – Michael Pollan
Botany of Desire – Michael Pollan
Nobody’s Fool – Richard Russo
Empire Falls – Richard Russo
Straight Man – Richard Russo
Bridge of Sighs – Richard Russo
Love in a Nutshell – Janet Evanovich
Poetry and Short Stories of Dorothy Parker
The Lives of the Great Composers – Harold Schonberg
Codependent No More – Melody Beattie
Moveable Feast – Ernest Hemingway
Old Man and the Sea – Ernest Hemingway
The Sun Also Rises – Ernest Hemingway
The Paris Wife – Paula McLain
Emily Dickinson
Bronte sisters

From Mary Lou in Maryland:

Amy Tan, The Bonesetter’s Daughter (2001). Like The Joy Luck Club, this novel focuses on the relationship between an American born daughter and her China-born mother. It is easier reading because it has only the two narrators. Gradually the daughter learns the true story of her mother’s difficult life before she escaped from revolutionary China.

John Sandford, Night Prey (1994); Mind Prey (1995). Both of these crime novels feature detective Lucas Davenport, Deputy Chief of the Minneapolis police. The crime and the criminal are portrayed from the beginning and the suspense is sustained as we watch Davenport figure it out.

James Michener, Hawaii (1959). This is a lo-o-o-o-oong book, 1100+ yellowed, crumbly pages in my 1968 Bantam paperback. I first read it when I moved to Hawaii in 1970. This month I started reading it on the plane from Baltimore to San Diego and it lasted me all the way through a lovely 14-day cruise to Hawaii and back. I thoroughly enjoyed re-reading it in this setting. The novel follows the usual Michener formula and it is very well researched. It starts with the geologic history of the islands. Then we meet some10th century inhabitants of Bora Bora and follow them on their 2400+ mile journey, guided by an ancient song and the stars, to the first settlement of the islands. Next, we travel with New England missionary families who become the first European settlers. Michener follows the successive waves of immigrants via family stories that begin in China and Japan. The story continues through World War II and beyond, following the descendents of the various settler families. The social and economic history of the islands is accurately recounted. The story of Pearl Harbor and the Hawaiian all-Japanese infantry battalion #222 is an especially compelling section, but my favorite is still the geologic history.

Ruth Rendell, Road Rage (1997). This detective novel is one in the series featuring Chief Inspector Wexford of Kingsmarkham, Sussex. The action revolves around protests against a highway bypass that threatens several endangered species and some very scenic woodlands, streams and meadows. The BBC series Midsommer Murders is based on Rendell’s Wexford novels.

From Pam in Huron:

A Secret Kept  -  Tatiana DeRosnay; takes place in modern France. A brother and sister learn the facts of their mother's life in the midst of a time of turmoil for both of them.  Thumbs up.

Death Comes to Pemberly for all you Jane Austen fans; a murder and an its aftermath of intrigue. The murderer is tried in London. My first P.D. James. Liked it.

On Agate Hill  -  Lee Smith   Takes place after the Civil War in North Carolina. Read a favorable review earlier in January. Almost gave up on this one because of its unusual structure, but glad I stayed with it. I think it is worth your time. The main character is Molly who ultimately becomes a teacher, but oh, she is a wild one in her mountain town. The aftermath of the war is not pretty in this book. Again - the places I go when I read! Pretty amazing.

From the amazon.com description:
Raised in ruins and orphaned by the Civil War, Molly is a refugee who has no interest in self-pity. When a mysterious benefactor appears out her father's past to rescue her, she never looks back.

Pat Kramer, who came with me last month, is now hooked on The First Ladies Detective Agency series along with Sharon Kenney, who came with me over a year ago.

From Sandy in Huron who is recuperating from pneumonia:

The upside of being sick is that I finally had time to read! The downside is that I read "A Slave in the White House" by Elizabeth Dowling Taylor. Although parts were interesting, overall I would not recommend the book. 

From our sister group in Lawton, OK:


The Annunciation of Francesca Dunn by Janis Hallowell
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Souls of Black Folk by W. E. B. Du Bois
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Steig Larsson
Books by Henny Mankill
Books by Jo Nesbo
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
Bag of Bones by Stephen King
Dreamcatcher by Stephen King
South: The Endurance Expedition by Ernest Shackleton

Movies and TV

Sherlock Holmes TV – PBS
Downton Abby TV – PBS
Ethan Frome – based on the Edith Wharton novel
Grey – based on the short story “Ghost Walker” by Ian Mackenzie Jeffers


Tartuffe, or The Hypocrite byMoliere
The Crucible by Arthur Miller

From Karen in Huron:

Am reading 2 fun books today:
1. Cosmopolitanism by Kwame Appiah --- author is an ethics/philosophy prof at Princeton. Book is for the lay reader, extremely enjoyable and readable about " the great human project of trying to live together .... exploring the question: what do we owe strangers by virtue of our shared humanity."  ... a moral manifesto for a planet we share with more than 7 billion strangers. Written with definite touches of humor.
2. How Far To Bethlehem? -- novel by Norah Lofts, a highly acclaimed English author, also beloved by American. This is a very fun read.

Thanks for a great meeting and see you next time March 21!

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