April 26, 2014

April 2014

Thank you for making World Book Night a fun success.  Be sure to sign up for next year and download your free ebook.  (Mine went to my Junk folder so you might have to dig for it.)

Good to see Mrs. Krebs who's preparing to "fiber bomb" Oberlin on May 9, and Ryan who told great stories called Adventures in Healthcare.

Here's what else we discussed:

God No! Signs You May Already by an Atheist - Penn Jillette
The Invisible Code - Christopher Fowler
Outside In - Doug Cooper
The White Princess - Philippa Gregory
Grange House - Sarah Blake
The Postmistress - Sarah Blake
Caleb's Crossing - Geraldine Brooks
The Dinner - Herman Koch
Under Magnolia - Frances Mayes
The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams - Lawrence Block
Heads in Beds - Jacob Tomsky
Orfeo - Richard Powers
The Raphael Affair - Iain Pears
A Few Good Men - Sarah Hoyt
Bone Deep - Randy Wayne White
The Sixth Extinction - Elizabeth Kolbert
Your Inner Fish - Neil Shubin
Your Inner Fish
The Address

From our sister group in OK:

Lawton Book Bunch
Thursday, April 10, 2014
The Next meeting will be Thursday, May 8, 2014


Austen, Jane. Emma; Mansfield Park
Editors of Esquire. Smiling Through the Apocalyse: Esquire’s History of the Sixties
Egan, Timothy. Short Nights of the Shadow Catcher
Gardner, Lisa. Touch and Go
George, Elizabeth. Believing the Lie
Hotaling, Ed. Wink: The Incredible Life and Epic Journey of Jimmy Winkfield
McDermott, Andy. The Hunt for Atlantis
Morton, Kate. Secret Keeper
Ripley, Amanda. The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way
Russo, Richard. Bridge of Sighs
Shubin, Neil. Your Inner Fish (book, CU guest speaker, PBS series)
Sotomayor, Sonia. My Beloved World

Some thoughts from Susanna:

Two Women Take Dugout Canoe Around Lake Michigan
Lake Michigan in a Dugout Blog

I love Lake Michigan and these women are from my area. I followed their story about two years ago and had rather forgotten it until today. Not only did they circumnavigate Lake Michigan - they started with the tree and made a canoe by hand.

I have heard it said that it is great to get through life with no regrets. Not sure that I buy that. I do have regrets. I regret that I was not more adventuresome. I would have loved to have been imaginative &/or knowledgeable enough to have done this. I thought about and never did take a trip down the Mississippi with Jeff when he was a teenager. Way long, too late now.

I would still like to circumnavigate Lake Michigan by boat or car. And It would be fun to cruise part/all of the Mississippi.
One book I will keep forever is "Fresh Water: Women Writing on the Great Lakes." Alison Swan, Editor.

"The Living Great Lakes: Searching for the Heart of the Inland Seas" by Jerry Dennis.

From Mary Lou in MD:

Booknotes April 2014
Martin Cruz Smith, Three Stations (2010).  The three stations are the grimy transportation hubs located in a street urchin infested and crime-ridden part of Moscow.  A young woman, Maya, escapes with her baby from a brothel in the desolate interior.  When she arrives by train in Moscow she awakes from a drugged sleep to find that her baby has disappeared. She is befriended by one Zhenya, an adolescent chess hustler also known as Genius and they search for her missing daughter.  He happens to be a protégé of Investigator Arkady Renko but Maya is opposed to any contact with the police.   Renko is suspended once again from the prosecutor’s office for uncovering crime and corruption in high places.  He pulls police detective Victor Orlov out of the drunk tank and accompanies him to a murder scene at Three Stations.  All the principle characters come perilously close to death as the strains of the plot wind closer and closer together. 
Carl Hiaasen, Star Island (2010).  Twenty or thirty years ago, the newly elected governor of Florida discovered the political and financial corruption that controlled the state and disappeared into the swamps.  From there he reappears in many of Hiaasen’s novels to pursue his own peculiar form of criminal justice against those who are trashing the environment.  In this one, “Skink” as he is now known, leaves his camp in the crocodile refuge and ventures forth in shotgun shell tipped dreadlocks to thwart a real estate development in the Keys.  In the course of this escapade he rescues Ann, who turns out to be the body double for the talentless druggie-alchie pop star Cherry Pie.  Cherry, her parents, agent, publicists, body guards and a gaggle of paparazzi constitute this novel’s set of hilariously grotesque characters. The language is as hilarious as the characters and Skink’s justice is very satisfying.  This is a romp.
Wendy Wax, Ten Beach Road (2011).     In the wake of the Bernie Madoff scandal, Malcolm Dyer’s Ponzi scheme collapses and brings ruin to many.  Victims include his sister Nikki, a Los Angeles matchmaker, Avery, architect co-star of TV’s “Hammer and Nail,” and Madeline, housewife and mother of two twenty-something children.   The three women are awarded joint ownership of a Florida gulf-side mansion in partial compensation for their loss.  When they go to check out the property, they discover that the house is a wreck.  So are their lives, as it turns out. They elect to restore the house and partner with a local contractor who is also Avery’s childhood friend.  The details of the exhausting renovation tasks are filmed by Madeline’s daughter and posted on Utube, complete with annoyingly unglamorous pictures of the three older women and the arguments between Avery and the contractor Chase.  This is a novel of self-discovery and rejuvenation and very amusing as well.  
Kent Haruf, Eventide (2004).  This novel continues the stories of residents of the high plains town and county or Holt, Colorado. The McPheron brothers taking Victoria Roubideaux, the single mother they took in in Plainsong, from their ranch to college in Fort Collins.  Victoria’s daughter Katie is now about a hear old and the separation is hard on all of them.  While 19 year old Victoria seems to be getting her life on track, other children in the community are faring less well.  We are introduced to Joy Rae and Richie, victims of school yard bullies, Luther and Betty June Wallace, their mentally challenged parents, and Rose Tyler, their competent and caring social worker.  We also meet DJ, who lives with and cares for his grandfather Walter Kephart, and their neighbors Mary Wells and her daughters Dena and Emma.  No one surpasses Haruf in his ability to capture the loneliness and helplessness of disadvantaged children and the endeavors of certain compassionate adults to address these conditions.  
Kent Haruf, Benediction (2013).  Also set in Holt, Colorado, the events in this novel take place some 20 years later.  None of the characters from Plainsong or Eventide appear.   Dad Lewis is dying of cancer and his wife is doing what she can to make his last days peaceful.  Their 40-something daughter Lorraine returns home to assist, but none of them know how to get in touch with their estranged son Frank. Gradually we learn that the causes of the estrangement lie in Frank’s childhood.  The other family whose tensions figure in the novel are the town’s new minister and his wife and son, who are unsympathetic with his trials of conscience and want to return to Denver.  The major themes are tolerance and forgiveness as the characters do the best they can with unhappy circumstances.  
Wallace Stegner, The Big Rock Candy Mountain (1938).  I’m not sure how I missed reading this classic novel by a former University of Wisconsin professor.   It spans the first 35 years of the twentieth century and travels the development of the continent from Minnesota westward to the Dakotas, Saskatchewan, the Oregon woods, Utah and Nevada.  Elsa nurses her mother through her final illness while caring for her younger siblings.  When her father quickly marries her best friend she travels to North Dakota to live with an uncle.  There she meets and marries the charismatic and mercurial Bo Mason. They have two sons and Bo moves the family from place to place ruthlessly and sometimes criminally chasing his latest delusion of the next Big Deal. Stegner has captured the vastness of the landscape of the American West, the monstrous character flaws of the men who, like Bo, sought to exploit it, and the painful toll of the quest on their families.   
Michael Connelly, The Overlook (2008).  Los Angeles homicide detective Hieronymus (Harry) Bosch is once again irritated when the FBI, including agent Rachel Walling, inserts itself into his investigation of a murder.  The victim is a cancer doctor with access to radioactive materials and the feds fear a terrorist plot.  Just as Harry suspects, they attempt to cut him out of the investigation, but he insists on pursuing his homicide case with delightful embarrassments to the Bureau in the process. 
Margaret Coel, The Dream Stalker (1997); The Lost Bird (1999).  These novels continue the series set in Wyoming’s Wind River Reservation and featuring Father John Aloysius O’Malley, head pastor of the St Francis Mission, and his friend the Arapaho lawyer Vickie Holden.  As usual, the future of the mission is threatened and Father John is once again trusting in Providence to rescue it.  In The Dream Stalker, energy companies are seeking a lease to Reservation land for use as a nuclear waste storage facility.  In The Lost Bird, a Hollywood star hires Vickie to investigate clues that she was born in the area.  Each novel begins with a murder mystery for Father John and Vickie to solve.  This is a charming series.  

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