November New

What do you do when the most inappropriate sentiment unexpectedly comes out of someone’s mouth? A confession that should never have left the lips of the confessor? Instead of thinking of the actions I should take I chose to take none. I do nothing. Distance makes it easy to ignore and deny. When I can’t avoid I read. Here are the books started for November:

Fiction:

  • Foolscap, or, the Stages of Love by Michael Malone – Malone was born in the month of November; reading in his honor.
  • Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko – in honor of November being Native American Heritage month.
  • The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman – November is National Writing month. Choosing fantasy for this round.
  • Patience and Sarah by Isabel Miller – Routsong’s birth month was in November. Reading in her honor.
  • Martin Dressler by Steven Millhauser – reading in honor of Millhauser’s birth place, New York City.

Nonfiction:

  • Expecting Adam: a True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday MagicĀ by Martha Beck – in honor of my mother’s birth month.
  • The Caliph’s House by Tahir Shah – in honor of Morocco’s independence was gained in November.

Series continuation:

  • Scales of Gold by Dorothy Dunnett – to continue the series started in honor of Dunnett’s birth month in August.

Fun: nothing decided yet.

Early Review: I have been chosen to receive an early review but I will refrain from naming it in case it doesn’t arrive.

 


Crazy Days of October

I don’t know where to begin with trying to explain October. From the beginning, I guess. It started with a trip home; a lovely week off with lots of reading accomplished. Then it was a New England Patriots football game followed by two Phish shows and a political rally for a state in which I do not live. If that wasn’t weird enough, I hung out with a person who could have raped or killed or loved me to death. Take your pick. Any one of those scenarios was more than possible. It was a truly bizarre month.
But, enough of that. Here are the books:

Fiction:

  • Playing for Pizza by John Grisham. Quick but cute read.
  • Call It Sleep by Henry Roth (AB/print). Sad.
  • The Chronoliths by Robert C. Wilson. Interesting.
  • Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andric (EB). Boring.

Nonfiction:

  • Oxford Book of Oxford edited by Jan Morris (EB/print). Only slightly less boring thanĀ Bridge.
  • Always a Distant Anchorage by Hal Roth. Really interesting.
  • African Laughter by Doris Lessing. Okay.

Series continuations:

  • The Race of Scorpions by Dorothy Dunnett (EB/print). Detailed.
  • Finding the Dream by Nora Roberts (EB). Cute but glad the series is over.

Fun:

  • We Inspire Me by Andrea Pippins. Cute.

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • Gardening Under Lights by Leslie F. Halleck. When I set up the reads for October I didn’t include this because it hadn’t arrived yet.

I should add that October was a really frustrating month for books. I never really liked anything I was reading.


The Transcriptionist

Rowland, Amy. The Transcriptionist. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 2014.

Lena is a transcriptionist for New York’s newspaper, the Record. She sits in a lonely room transcribing stories for reporters who call in with all kinds of different stories. Lena’s personal story centers on the mystery of an unknown woman mauled to death in a lion’s den at the Bronx zoo. Three things capture Lena to the point of obsession: the woman is blind, this was an apparent suicide, and Lena thinks she met this woman before. While Lena is fascinated with the story, no one else is. She is shocked by her employer’s complacency. No one cares why this unknown woman did what she did, so Lena sets out to discover the truth. In the process Lena rattles life as she knows it. The proverbial bars of the cage have been flung open.
My one fault with the book – there were a few unbelievable scenes. I am assuming the lion didn’t maul the woman’s face and her autopsy photo is the one the newspaper used for the article. Here’s why: because if no one knew her identity they couldn’t have used a picture from an earlier time. Another bothersome moment – Once Lena learns the identity of the suicide victim, she knows where she lived and that she had a sister. Lena takes it upon herself to visit the woman’s apartment (walks right in!). There, in the decease’s apartment, is a recording of the truth. Wouldn’t the sister have found that first? Wouldn’t there have been a more thorough investigation? It’s not every day that a blind woman swims across a moat to reach a lion’s sanctuary and then lets one (a lion named Robert) devour her.
The best part of the book is the message it sends. Everyday news stories swirl around us and roll off our consciousness like beads of oil on water. Nothing sinks in or settles on our souls. That goes for the consumers of the news as well as the people who create it. We all need to rattle cages and break free from complacency.

Reason read: I am a member of the Early Review Program for LibraryThing

Author fact: This is Rowland’s debut novel.

Book trivia: Publish date: May 13th, 2014.


Day the Falls Stood Still

Buchanan, Cathy Marie. The Day the Falls Stood Still. Read by Karen White. Ontario: Tantor, 2009

Bess Heath is a seventeen year old junior at her private boarding school when her father is laid off from the Niagara Electric Company. After returning home for the summer she realizes nothing remains the same. Now that her father is unemployed, her mother must take on seamstress work to make ends meet and Bess and her sister, Isabel learn to chip in. Bess becomes an accomplished seamstress and slowly builds up her own list of customers. Once Bess meets Tom Cole her life takes another drastic turn. The rest of the story is a love story on multiple levels that spans Bess’s formative years. She falls in love, learns about death and the value of family. She also discovers what it means to be torn between two loyalties. Tom, because of his relationship with nature, is in direct conflict with the Niagara Hydra-electric. Bess has a long standing history with the power company and has a love-hate relationship with the whirlpool at the base of the falls. Both have a deep personal history with the temperamental river. Together, theirs is a story of triumph over tragedy.

Even though this was an audio book I could barely “put it down.” I loved Buchanan’s writing style. You can’t help but fall in love with Bess.

Reason read: March 29, 1848: it was cold enough to make Niagara Falls freeze, hence the day the falls stood still.

Author fact: Buchanan has her own website here.

Book trivia: The Day the Falls Stood Still is Cathy Marie Buchanan’s first novel.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called simply “Niagara Falls” (p 156). Can’t get any easier than that.


City in the Sky

Glanz, James and Eric Lipton. City in the Sky: the Rise and Fall of the World Trade Center. New York: Henry Holt & Company, 2003.

Because City in the Sky was written just two short years after the horrific events of September 11, 2001 and the spectacular collapse of the World Trade Center towers it is easy to accuse Glanz and Lipton of jumping on the 9/11 bandwagon and capitalizing on an unprecedented tragedy. But, the events of 9/11/2001, specifically the seemingly impossible collapse of the towers doesn’t appear in the narrative until the very end – practically the last chapter. Instead, Glanz and Lipton start from the very beginning. They present the key players and historical events in a tightly written account of how the World Trade Center went from an ambitious idea to an iconic city in the sky. To read City in the Sky is to witness the conception, birth, life and ultimate death of a New York City and world icon. Just like the Rockefeller ancestors before him, David Rockefeller harnessed his ambition and went head to head with shop keepers, politicians and naysayers to build an architectural masterpiece.

Reason read: September 11th, 2001. Need I say more?

As an aside – I had to ask my cousin for clarification on this since I saw the name “Boody” several times in the index. He confirmed that my father’s second cousin was Irving Rickerson Boody. Rick’s father was Irving. The connection to the World Trade Center? Irving (senior) founded the first company to occupy the World Trade Center. Hmmmm.

Quotes that stuck with me, “But common sense does not always prevail in New york” (p 47).

Book trivia: City in the Sky includes some great photos, including one of the directory for the WTC. Boody was on the 11th floor in suite # 1103.

Authors fact: Glanz and Lipton both worked for the New York Times at the time City in the Sky was published.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Building Blocks” (p 37).


Suzy’s Case

Siegel, Andy. Suzy’s Case. New york: Scribner, 2012.

Suzy’s Case is a rolling stone. After the plot gets a little push the action gets faster and faster. Enter Tug Wyler, personal injury and medical malpractice lawyer who defends mostly small time crooks and big shot criminals. When asked to beg off a no-win case for a colleague Wyler finds himself reluctantly giving it a second look for unprofessional reasons. When Suzy, a young sickle cell patient, is left severely brain damaged after a freak stroke every professional told her mother there was no evidence of hospital malpractice. Every expert involved swore off the case except Suzy’s determined mother. If it weren’t for her good looks and ever better figure Wyler would have been walking away as well. As an excuse to get closer to Suzy’s beguiling mother Wyler declares there is a case and suddenly the game is on. Murder and mayhem ensue. Wyler’s life is even endangered three different times.
It took me a few chapters to warm up to Siegel’s main character, Tug Wyler. It was if Siegel was trying too hard to make Wyler a complete personality without letting the character development happen organically. It’s almost too much too soon. Wyler comes across as a hybrid of jerk and sensitive guy. He is wisecracking and womanizing and less than ethical in his tactics to win a case. He’s almost a cliche lawyer; the kind you love to hate. But, in the end you root for him because, after all that, he’s one of the good guys.

Reason read: Blood is thicker than water.

Author fact: Suzy’s Case is Andy Siegel’s first book.

Book trivia: Don’t be put off by the author’s photo on the dust jacket! Although, you’ll end up doing what I did – staring at the picture trying to determine how much Tug Wyler is in Andy Siegel and vice versa.


American Ground

Langewiesche, William. American Ground: Unbuilding the World Trade Center. Maryland: Recorded Books, LLC, 2003.

There is something so impressive when an author is given “unrestricted access” to his or her subject. To me, it inspires endless possibilities. When I found out Langewiesche was given “unrestricted access” to the cleanup after 9/11 I was excited. American Ground is the story of the physical breakdown, piece by piece, of the World Trade Center (hence the use of the word “unbuilding” in the subtitle). Probably the most fascinating part of American Ground was the unbelievable “territorial war” between the firefighters and the police, each believing their dead was more important than the other. There was a great disunity between the groups as the clean up continued. At the same time there were shining examples of people who selflessly went above and beyond to not honor find the missing but to honor the dead.

Reason Read: September 11, 2001 is a day that will live in infamy. I don’t know of a soul who doesn’t know what I’m talking about when I say “nine-eleven.” I think it’s obvious why I chose this book for September.

Author Fact: William Langewiesche writes for the Atlantic Monthly where American Ground was first published in three parts.

Book Trivia: The audio version of American Ground was read by Richard M. Davidson, a professional actor.

BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “9/11” (p 171). Simple enough.