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review 2017-08-14 20:33
The morning fog, every morning
A Goddess in the Stones: Travels in India - Norman Lewis

I read this for the BookLikes-opoly game.  Somewhere back in my blog posts is the history. . . .


Anyway, I got the Kindle edition free when Open Road Media was giving stuff away last year, and it fit whatever square it was that I landed on.  So I read it.  I knew nothing about author Norman Lewis, and not a whole lot about India, other than what I've picked up reading a few novels set there -- The Far Pavilions, Shadow of the Moon, The Zemindar, The India Fan, Blood Moon over Bengal and The Moonstone.


Lewis sets out in the early 1990s on an exploration of a part of India that the tourists don't see, where the indigenous tribes still live supposedly much the same way they have for centuries.  I was expecting something like Margaret Mead or Bronislaw Malinowski, and I was even prepared to set aside what I expected to be Lewis's racist, colonial point of view in order to enjoy the book.


The racism and colonialism are there, but there wasn't much else.  The hotels were bad, the food was bad, the phone service was bad, the roads were bad, and Lewis never got to see any animals.  No tigers, no elephants.  Every morning he and his driver set out in the fog, and there were such lyrical descriptions of the fog, as though some dramatic, evocative narrative was going to unfold.  It never did.


Government was intruding on the tribes, tearing down their traditional homes and replacing them with concrete houses.  That's the primary thing I came away with, other than the fog.  Tribe after tribe - I've forgotten their names, which were often similar to each other -- with little in-depth exploration and virtually no personification.


Was there a goddess in the stones of the temples he encountered?  Oh, I think so, but I'm not sure.  Not enough of one to be memorable.  The book just didn't live up to the title, or even the cover.


I finished it, because I truly wanted to learn.  All I learned was that there was nothing there.  Not even a tiger or an elephant.



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text 2017-06-27 04:14
BL-opoly - #24 - Take the Jungle Cruise!
A Goddess in the Stones: Travels in India - Norman Lewis

Several months ago, Open Road Media was offering hundreds of free Kindle books.  I went on a rampage, acquiring about 400 titles over a space of two or three days.


I've never heard of Norman Lewis, but I do like learning about new places, so I downloaded this title, amongst all those others.  Last week-end I selected  A Goddess in the Stones: Travels in India to fulfill the Take the Jungle Cruise. #24 space on Booklikes-opoly.


I'm about 15% into the book, which was written in the 1990s.  So far, it's making me a bit uncomfortable.  I get a distinct colonial feel about it, about Lewis's perspective, but we'll see how it goes.



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text 2017-06-26 20:45
Reading progress update: I've read 73 out of 383 pages.
All the President's Men - Carl Bernstein,Bob Woodward

I'm reading this concurrently with John Dean's Blind Ambition, in which I've just reached th point of the Watergate break-in and how Dean, as White House counsel, reacted to it.


In both books, I'm reading the original publication, old paperbacks that don't have any benefit of later editing or updates.  (I do have a Kindle edition of Blind Ambition, with updates, but I'm not reading it. . . yet.)


All the President's Men is not as easy to read as I had anticipated, because it's written in a single third person point of view, so it's Woodward this or Bernstein that, rather than we, I, etc.  Sometimes I have difficulty keeping them distinct.


But what's truly fascinating is how much these two reporters learned and how quickly they learned it from their own investigation, making their own contacts, making blind phone calls.  It's interesting to speculate how much different the task would have been with today's technology.  On the other hand, they were able to pick up a phone and call the White House and be put through directly to high level people like Bob Haldeman without any trouble.



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text 2017-06-17 16:35
BL-opoly - Free Friday #1 -- All the President's Men
All the President's Men - Carl Bernstein,Bob Woodward

I've had this one sitting on the family room bookcase for I don't know how long.  Even though I know the "story" -- I remember when it all happened -- I've never read the book, or seen the movie.


I had another book picked out last night for the Free Friday event, but The Crafstman proved to be one of those books I need to read with a pad of little Post-its to mark the important passages.  Sociology, arts and crafts, and political theory are not the stuff for relaxing week-end reading!


But there sat the Bernstein and Woodward book, and with the anniversary of the Watergate break-in being this week, I thought I'd go in a different direction.  I only read 30 pages before I started falling asleep, but I was seriously hooked.  The projects planned for this week-end while the BF is out of town may get shoved aside in favor of reading. It's going to be too hot to do anything outside. . . .

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review 2017-06-17 16:26
Should've saved my time instead
Saving CeeCee Honeycutt - Beth Hoffman,Jenna Lamia

One of the things that drew me to the Booklikes-opoly game was the opportunity to expand some of my reading horizons, especially with all the thousands of books I have.


Some of the books have been monstrous disappointments.  Others have been so-so.  And a few have been truly wonderful.


Saving Ceecee Honeycutt falls in the so-so category.


I bumped it up from the two-star rating I had originally intended only because the author redeemed some of the earlier issues I had with the book, but in some ways I was tempted to knock it down a star rather than up.


Ceecee is twelve years old.  Her mother is seriously mentally ill, her much older father is absent for long stretches of time.  After years of being the caregiver for her mother, Ceecee is without friends, without family, without childhood.  When her mother dies, Ceecee is bundled off to live with her great-aunt Tootie in Savannah, Georgia, which is a whole different world from Willoughby, Ohio.


The reader presumes the story is being told after-the-fact and that Ceecee is now an adult looking back on her childhood.  It isn't until maybe two-thirds of the way through the book that the child Ceecee -- her real name is Cecelia Rose -- breaks down emotionally to confront all her traumas.  And it's a pretty serious breakdown.


This is a better story than the silliness of the two Sarah Addison Allen books I read earlier this summer, but I came away with a similar sense of unreality.  Maybe current 2017 events are affecting my reading experience of a book that's set in the 1967 Deep South.


The Savannah, Georgia, of this book is spiritually unchanged from the Atlanta of Gone with the Wind.  All the white ladies are sweet and polite -- and rich -- and the black help are uncomplaining and grateful.  And Ceecee is innocently unaware of everything.  Even when one of the white ladies is revealed to be a racist, she's such an over-the-top caricature that she's unbelievable, laughable, not taken seriously.


No sense of time or place infuses this book, and all the little problems are neatly and easily solved.  There's no tension or drama; there's more nail-biting in one of the Nancy Drew mysteries Ceecee loves.  It's also not a novel that invokes any feminist principles, despite the almost all-female cast.


Sadly, several small stories within this are left hanging.  Was the hatpin just junk jewelry, or was the red stone a ruby or even a garnet?  What happened to the diamond necklace?  What happened to the jewelry store? 


Another aspect of the book that bothered me was that it's a story of a twelve-year-old girl but written obviously for adult readers.  Had there been some reflections from the adult Ceecee or some epilogue that showed how all this affected her as she grew up, I might have found it more to my liking.  But at my age, I'm not all that interested in reading about twelve-year-olds whose lives go miraculously from rags to riches without any deeper development.



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