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review 2019-10-14 00:36
Sometimes, you just know . . .
Radioactive: Marie and Pierre Curie, A Tale of Love and Fallout - Lauren Redniss

Sometimes, I have to think for a while -- or a long while -- about how I would "rate" a book. And sometimes, I just know as soon as I close the cover. 

 

Today was one of those days. This "graphic history" hit my emotional, intellectual, and artistic buttons in all the right ways, and as soon as I closed the back cover, I knew: Five stars. 

 

Highly recommend. Read it all in one sitting, for best effect. My time was about 1:45, so if you have time for a movie, you have time for this one. 

 

-cg

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text 2019-10-07 00:06
Weekly Reading - October 6-13th
Connections in Death - J.D. Robb
Jane Doe: A Novel - Victoria Helen Stone
Well, That Escalated Quickly: Memoirs and Mistakes of an Accidental Activist - Franchesca Ramsey
Bud, Not Buddy - Christopher Paul Curtis

We FINALLY got Sweater Weather here in Kansas! It feels so nice to turn off the central air and open up the windows. This week I want to finish Connections in Death (print) and get through Jane Doe (Kindle) for Halloween Bingo. Since it is a "calm week before the chaos week" in my house, I may be able to squeeze one more book so I'm planning on Well, That Escalated Quickly (print). 

 

My son's school holds a William Allen White challenge (it is a children's literary award named after the author) and at the end of the school year the kids who met the challenge in accordance with their grade level gets a pizza party. My kid really wants to go to the pizza party, so we have started Bud, Not Buddy which he picked out himself. Just two chapters in and already got caught in the mom feels and Joshua is already relating to and liking Bud. 

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review 2019-09-26 01:03
There There....



There There: A Novel

Tommy Orange

Hardcover: 304 pages

Publisher: Knopf; First Edition (June 5, 2018)

ISBN-10: 0525520376

ISBN-13: 978-0525520375

https://www.amazon.com/There-novel-Tommy-Orange/dp/0525520376

 

Reviewed by Dr. Wesley Britton

 

There There was a novel assigned to the members of a local book club I belong to. The book inspired a lot of discussion at our last meeting, and the responses ran the range.

 

I was among the members who really liked the book, but I easily understood the reactions of others with less positive feedback. Some were confused by the structure of the book as Orange has 12 characters telling their stories interwoven together, introducing us to one of the urbanized Native Americans living in Oakland, then the next, and so on, then back around the circle again. Other readers didn't like the book as it is rather dark and depressing in many sections. I have one friend who gave up reading the novel for that reason.

 

Much of the club's discussion didn't focus on the book itself, but rather the situations of identity in the modern Native Americans. Many of the characters not only wrestled with both pride and deep regret about the distant past when their cultures were devastated; some of the characters know very little about their heritage but still have strong opinions about it; and others know little about their personal bloodlines including any knowledge of who their birth parents are. All these threads are pulled together at a pow-wow in Oakland where all the book's characters congregate for a variety of reasons and mixed motives. 

 

The cast includes Jacquie Red Feather, an alcoholic with a tortured past who meets her daughter Blue, for the first time. In turn, we meet the trio of Jacquie's  grandsons like Orvil who adds a touch of magic realism to the story by continually pulling spider legs out of a wound on his own leg.

 

We also meet Danny who creates plastic guns on a 3D printer, one of the characters who infuses modern technology into a realm where most everyone has mixed feelings about their Native American past. Some characters plan on robbing the pow wow and come armed with Danny's guns as plastic can slip past metal detectors. But to describe the admittedly confusing pow wow falls into the realm of spoilers, so I won't say anything more about it.

 

Some readers in my book club didn't care for Orange's terse, spare writing style but I thought he was trying to allow many of his characters to speak in their own voices. yes, the book is dark and can be a downer, but that's offset, in my opinion, by the education we get into the circumstances of modern, urbanized Native Americans so far removed from their more agrarian forefathers and foremothers. Few of these stories are pretty; all of them seem all too real.

 

 

 

This review first appeared at BookPleasures.com on Sept. 25, 2019:

https://waa.ai/3bPq

 

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review 2019-09-11 14:39
Startide Rising - David Brin

I couldn't put it down! In this book, humans have "uplifted" dolphins and the first starship, Streaker, crewed by humans and dolphins and commanded by a dolphin, have found possible proof of the Progenitors and the rest of the universe wants it at any cost. Great characters and story with intrigue, heroism, self-sacrifice, etc.

 

I really hope the next book explains just what it is that the Streaker found.

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review 2019-09-09 01:47
It moved me . . .
Heart of a Tiger: Growing Up with My Grandfather, Ty Cobb - Herschel Cobb

This memoir touched my heart. Yes, Herschel Cobb is probably idolizing his famous grandfather, but so what -- I idolize my beloved, late grandparents a bit, too. 

 

Was the famously irascible Ty Cobb the old pussycat his grandson makes him out to be? Perhaps not. But for a few weeks, over the course of a few years, he was the child's life-line, as the boy suffered through physical and emotional abuse, as well as neglect from his parents. The elder Cobb was the man young Herschel needed in his life to survive, and probably saved him from turning into a violent or despairing man himself. 

 

So the story moved me. It was horrifying to realize that a child who came from a family with means could be just as badly abused--terrorized really--as a poor child. And he needed the love and support he received from his grandfather (as well as various aunts and his grandmother) as desperately as any child. 

 

It also makes me aware that some children never find their lifeline -- they survive by their own wits. Or the cycle doesn't break. So yes, it's the overlay of this being a "famous family," that drew me in to the memoir, but in the end, that mattered far less than the human connection told of within. Does it matter that it was a story about Ty Cobb? Not as much as it mattered that the boy, Herschel, survived. 

 

-cg

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