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review 2017-08-16 19:33
The House at Sugar Beach by Helene Cooper
The House at Sugar Beach - Helene Cooper

I loved reading this book. It’s a memoir of the author’s privileged childhood in Liberia, the early days of civil war there and her family’s flight, and her journey of building a life in another country and ultimately coming to terms with her homeland.

Helene Cooper is an award-winning journalist, and you can see that clearly in her writing, which is compelling, informative, and relatable. She builds scenes from her childhood in an almost novelistic way, and explores the dynamics of her complicated family with depth and honesty. While she was born to a Liberian dynasty (descended from the first free blacks who arrived from the U.S. to build a colony), there’s an ever-present reminder of her privilege in her best friend, a poor native Liberian girl her parents adopt to be her playmate. The divergence between the lives of these two as they grow older tells you a lot about Liberia (and the world). Cooper is also able to tell a personal, gripping story about the war, in which her family does not escape violence. And she includes a few helpful chapters detailing her family history and the early history of Liberia. While the portion of the book dealing with her life outside Liberia is much shorter, it’s still an interesting look at the family members’ relative assimilation and race relations in the U.S.

But it isn’t all heavy stuff. There’s quite a bit of humor and fun in the book, especially as the author remembers her childhood and teenage years. She also seems enthusiastic about explaining Liberian culture and Liberian English to those unfamiliar with it, adding a lot of flavor to the story.

In fact, perhaps neither of my two reservations about the book is fairly attributed to the author. One is that it has more than its share of copyediting mistakes. The other is that, despite the history included, I never understood how the relatively peaceful country in which Cooper grew up spawned one of Africa’s most brutal civil wars, with all the atrocities she describes. I’m sure that to the teenaged Helene Cooper this made just as little sense; but as a veteran foreign correspondent who rode along for the invasion of Iraq, she probably has some insight into what makes wars different from one another. I would have appreciated the level of research about the war that she clearly put into the colony’s early years, though as a memoir the book succeeds regardless.

Overall, this is a very well-told story featuring distinct, complicated personalities, from a self-aware and thoughtful writer with fascinating life experiences. It’s also a great way to learn about a corner of the world that most people know little about. I would definitely recommend this one.

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review 2017-08-15 23:56
Murder Take Three: A British Country House mystery (A Langham and Dupre Mystery) - Eric Brown
When I started reading this book, I just knew that there was going to be an ending that included gathering everyone in one room and announcing the killer. Yep, I was right. It was just that kind of read.

On a film set where just about everyone has some kind of hatred for the director, there are lots of suspects when his girlfriend gets killed in his bed. 

At the ending with the list of suspects (everyone on the set) the culprit had a jaw dropping secret. There is also a historical murder that was once solved, or was it?

A decent and entertaining read.

Thanks to Severn House and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
 
 

 

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text 2017-08-02 14:36
2nd August 2017
The House of the Spirits - Isabel Allende

The library is inhabited by spirits that come out of the pages at night. 

 

Isabel Allende

 

Happy birthday, Isabel Allende! The Chilean-American writer has been called "the world's most widely read Spanish-language author," and in 2014, President Barack Obama recognized her inspiring body of work with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

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text 2017-08-01 22:30
July 2017 Round Up!
Bone White - Ronald Malfi
A Game of Ghosts: A Charlie Parker Thriller - John Connolly
The Necromancer's House - Christopher Buehlman
Halloween Carnival Volume 1 - Lisa Morton,Kevin Lucia,John Little,Brian James Freeman,Robert R. McCammon
Gary Gianni's Monstermen and Other Scary Stories - Gary Gianni,Gary Gianni
The Twilight Pariah - Jeffrey Ford
For Those Who Dream Monsters - Anna Taborska,Steve Upham,Charles Black,Reggie Oliver,Reggie Oliver
Behind Her Eyes: A Novel - Sarah Pinborough
Zomcats! - Amanda Horan,Graeme Parker,Jack Strange
Norse Mythology - Neil Gaiman

In July I read 19 books!

 

Graphic Novels:

 

The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three, House of Cards

The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three, The Prisoner

American Vampire, Volume 6

Gary Gianni's Monstermen and Other Scary Stories

 

Total: 4

 

Audio Books:

 

 

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough 

Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King

The Necromancer's House by Christopher Buehlman

Insane Clown President: Dispatches from the 2016 Circus by Matt Taibbi

Nevertheless: A Memoir by Alec Baldwin

Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman 

 

Total: 6

 

ARCS:

 

Dark Screams: Volume Seven edited by Brian James Freeman & Richard Chizmar

Optical Delusion by Hunter Shea

Halloween Carnival Volume 1 by various authors

A Game of Ghosts by John Connolly

Spinal Tap: The Big Black Book by Wallace Fairfax

Bone White by Ronald Malfi

The Twilight Pariah by Jeffrey Ford

 

Total: 7

 

Random Books 

 

Zomcats! by Jack Strange

For Those Who Dream Monsters by Anna Taborska 

 

Total: 2

 

 

READING CHALLENGES

 

Horror Aficionados Mount TBR Challenge: 

(Horror Aficionados Group on Goodreads)

Goal: Read 40 books I already own in 2017

 

January Count: 1

February Count: 2 

March and April Count: 0

May: 2 (Boo! and The Well)

June & July: 0

Running Count: 5

 

Graphic Novel Challenge:

(Paced Reading Group on GR)

Goal: Read 25 Graphic novels in 2017 

 

January count: 5

February count: 2

March count: 5

April count: 5

May count: 3

June count: 4

July count: 4

 

Running Count: 28 CHALLENGE MET! WHOOHOO! 

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text 2017-07-31 18:52
Bored Senseless
Sons - Pearl S. Buck

I don't know what else to say here besides things happened to people and I wanted to take a nap. Also for those who download this via Kindle, never fear, book #2 is not as long as you think. I got to 60 percent and book #2 was done. The remaining 40 percent was a preview (a really long one) of the final third book in this series. 

 

I really wish I had DNFed this book. I am going to start reclaiming my time and just kicking a book immediately after I am not feeling it. I honestly have not wanted to read a thing since some of the books on my currently reading list have not moved me at all. Hoping that I get in a better mindset later and can just finish some more books soon.

 

"Sons" the second book in the House of Earth series follows the sons of Wang Lung, called Wang Lung the Landlord, Wang Lung the Merchant and Wang the Tiger. The book focuses mostly on Wang the Tiger with Buck popping up now and again into the eldest and second's son's businesses with some minor appearances by Pearl Blossom. 

 

I didn't get a good grasp on any character in this second book. Unlike with the first book, the women in this one are paper thin instead of being realized as their own characters. Wang the Tiger's first wife may have been interesting to follow, but Buck quickly dispatches with her with the quickness. 

 

This second book is like night and day from the first book. All of the characters were underdeveloped and the writing was not good. I would say that this book is 100 percent filler since I think that Buck wants to focus on what happens to this family in book #3. I also wish that Buck had stuck a time period in this series since I can't tell where we are in China's history. 

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