February 29, 2016

February 2016

We welcomed the newest member Emily to the group, and caught up with some members we haven't seen in a while.

Here are the books we discussed:

Lock and Key series - Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
The Boys in the Boat - Daniel James Brown
Sandusky Bay Rowing Association
Mozart in the Jungle - Blair Tindall
Scandalous Behavior - Stuart Woods
Locked In - Marcia Muller
Encounters - George Braziller
The Nine - Jeffrey Toobin
The Traitor's Wife - Allison Pataki
My Beloved World - Sonia Sotomayor
The Pillars of the Earth - Ken Follett
World Without End (miniseries) - Ken Follett
Spooky Action at a Distance - George Musser
Ashtabula Hat Trick - Les Roberts
The Blue Between Sky and Water - Susan Abulhawa
Is Fat Bob Dead Yet? - Stephen Dobyns
The Age of Innocence - Edith Wharton
The Road to Character - David Brooks
My Turn - Doug Henwood
Belisarius: The Last Roman General - Ian Hughes
The Turing Exception - William Hertling
A Borrowed Man - Gene Wolfe
Red Rising - Pierce Brown
Joe Steele - Harry Turtledove

 From our sister group in OK:


Allee, Jennifer. Vinnie’s Diner
Artists of Cotiut. (Exhibit catalog.)*
Brown, Sandra. Alibi
Carl, Joanna. The Chocolate Falcon Fraud
Chabon, Michael. Yiddish Policemen’s Union
Galbraith, Robert (J.K.Rowling). Career of Evil; Cuckoo’s Calling; The Silkworm
Hamilton, Edith. The Greek Way
Heller, Joseph. Picture This
Hoag, Tami. Cold Cold Heart
Holland, Julie. Moody Bitches
Indridason, Arnaldar. Outrage
Kaufman, Sarah. The Art of Grace
Kiyosaki, Robert. Rich Dad Poor Dad
Macmillan, Gilly. What She Knew
Mistry, Rohinton. A Fine Balanace
Mouillot, Miranda Richmond. A Fifty Year Silence
Robinson, Marilyn. Lila
Wilder, L. Douglas. Son of Virginia
Zamperini, Louis. Unbroken


Bandits (2002 with Cate Blanchett)**
Love the Coopers

* http://www.barnstablepatriot.com/article/20130530/ENTERTAINMENT/305309998
** Bandits is a fun little movie. It is worth it for Blanchett’s kitchen scene. (Relate to discussion on The Art of Grace.)

Iceland Writer’s Retreat http://www.icelandwritersretreat.com/
(Book Bunch member, K.W. Hillis will attend in April 2016)

From Mary Lou in MD:

Booknotes Laura February 2016

P. D. James, Devices and Desires (1989). Scotland Yard Commander Adam Dalgliesh comes to take his 2-week holiday in the windmill/cottage in Norfolk he inherited from an eccentric aunt. He soon discovers a fierce local controversy involving a nearby atomic power station. He also meets the scraggly, motherless and self-sufficient children of a curmudgeonly local painter. The characters all are fascinating. Dalgliesh does his best to escape involvement in the Norfolk CID’s hunt for a serial killer. And then there is an apparent suicide that’s not fully convincing. So much for the Commander’s vacation.

James McBride, The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to His White Mother (1996, 2006). As the author tells the story of his impoverished childhood as one of 12 children in Brooklyn in the 1960s, his understanding of his mother’s life develops gradually. Interspersed with this narration is the story of his mother’s life as an Orthodox Jew. She came to America at age 2, grew up in a very repressive household in Suffolk, VA, escaped to Harlem, and married a Black man. To the confusion of her son, she would never acknowledge that she was white. Instead, she thoroughly embraced the Black culture and it’s version of Christianity. When her son asks what color is God, she says God is the color of water. She is resilient through many hardships and totally dedicated to the education of her children, managing to enroll them in the best of New York’s public schools. Despite its probing exploration of issues of race, religion, family, and identity, this is a very funny book.

Rick Bass, Where the Sea Used to Be (1998). This is a novel of character as molded by the physical environment. The setting is a remote valley in northwest Montana, cut off from the rest of the world for most of the year. This is where Mel has lived for most of her 40 years, studying the habits of wolves from a respectful distance. In her youth she fell in love with the valley’s golden boy, Matthew, who knew every inch of the woods and streams, talked to and hunted the animals, and built a stone wall along the trail for the love of the labor. He also was pulled into the Texas oil prospecting business by Mel’s father, Old Dudley, a character who becomes more diabolical as the novel progresses. As he pulls Matthew into the quest for oil, he drains his life force. Old Dudley has drilled many dry wells in the secluded valley and now he has sent a young geologist, Wallis, to locate a new drilling site. Wallis has been sent at the beginning of winter, the least appropriate time to study the topography for a new drilling site, since everything is covered with snow. Wallis takes up residence with Mel in Old Dudley’s cabin and gradually adapts to wintering in pioneer conditions, described in vivid detail. As his character develops, so does his relationship with Mel. She leaves the cabin each day to map the travels of the wolves; he stays indoors and draws speculative maps of the surrounding, invisible geology. Eventually he discovers a cellar under the cabin and a trunk with Old Dudley’s journals. These contain reverent and epic descriptions of the earth’s geologic history, delving beneath the surface and into the distant past, when oil was formed. The journals reinforce Old Dudley’s association with the underworld. As Old Dudley, Matthew, Wallis, and eventually the townsmen are drawn into the quest for oil, we resist this threat to the beauty of the wilderness landscape. Ultimately, the tensions and conflicts of this beautifully written novel are between the characters and the valley.

Rose Melikan, The Mistaken Wife (2010). In 1792, Britain and France are at war and American ambassadors are in Paris, perhaps to forge an alliance. Mary Finch is minding her own business as an independent heiress in Suffolk, observing the social norms of Austen’s England. She is
recruited by her former spy-master (apparently her prior mission was chronicled in The Blackstone Key) to travel secretly to Paris and masquerade as the “wife” of another agent, a painter. She can tell none of her friends and associates of her mission, not even her “special friend” Captain Holland. Through intricacies of the clever plot, he travels to Paris on a separate equally risky mission. Traveling in France is dangerous and Paris is even more so. The historical background is drawn in convincing detail and maps are provided to aid the reader. The two plots are carefully woven to a meeting point where the lives or hero and heroine are at risk. Suspense is sustained throughout this novel and Mary’s point of view is spirited and entertaining.

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