August 15, 2018: “Read & Tell”

Phinney Books, 7:30pm – Each person can talk about a book they have read during the past month and rate it from 0 to 5. Zero – “I really disliked it.” Five – “Best book I have recently read!”

 

Marla read Less by Andrew Sean Greer, rated 3 stars.  It was a fun fluffy read.

Billie read Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent.  A woman on Roosevelt Island who met a man and he cooks her dinner once a week.  Good food reading, rated a 4.

Paul read Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World and Why Things Are Better Than You Think.  Written by Hans Rosling, he is a Swedish doctor who has spent time in 3rd world countries and is famous for this book.  Bill Gates has made it available for free download to college students.  He has also created a graph about life expectancy. Check out his website.   Rated 4.5, relatively fast read.

Tom read A Chill in The Air by Iris Origo.  Iris Origo is well know for her book, War in Val’d’Orcia, another war diary.  She is a wealthy American married to an Italian.  They purchased a farm in Tuscany in the 1920’s and hid refugees during WWII.  Rated 4.0

Mimi read Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent.  A British novel, where a woman and her son move to  Essex after her husband has died.   Rated 4.5

Kjersti read So Lucky by Nicola Griffith.  A novel about a woman with MS. Rated 4

Karen read The Pope who Would be King.

Although Pope Pius IX ruled for thirty-two years, beginning in 1846, the book focuses on the two years of his exile from Rome. Disguised, he fled in the middle of the night when the citizens turned against him realizing he had no intention of moving towards a modern, secular republic. He returned, revengeful and entrenched in his belief in papal infallibility and the absolute authority of the Catholic church over most aspects of daily life. He fought tooth and nail for every last shred of power and relevancy, but the new world finally birthed due to actions of other countries and the desire of the Roman citizens. He was the last pope-­king.

Rating: 3.75 This is not a book for the lay reader. I am a lay reader and at times was burdened by so much information. Also, I looked forward to understanding more about the “emergence of modern Europe,” but this was only addressed in the Epilogue.

Kathleen read There There, about urban Indians going to a Pow Wow.  Each chapter is a different story.   Rated 4.5

Pam completed finished a book she put down for book bingo.

Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America
Michael Eric Dyson Rating: 4.8

Written in the structural form of a sermon, this powerful book is a series of essays about
the state of race in America, to help white Americans understand difficult truths about
being black in America, and whites’ part in the racial divide. It includes a chapter with
practical suggestions on how the reader can make things better, both through actions as
well as reading to become better educated about black history and culture. He offers an
extensive reading list and comments.
Tony Morrison noted: “Elegantly written, Tears We Cannot Stop is powerful in several
areas: moving personal recollections; profound cultural analysis; and guidance for
moral redemption. A work to relish.” I would add, a book sorely needed for the times we
live in.
Dyson is a University Professor of Sociology at Georgetown University and an ordained
minister. He’s also a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times and
contributes to several other publications. He’s the author of 19 books.

Tim read When the English Fall by David Williams.  Not his favorite book.  If we had a major solar flare it would disrupt our society but it would not upset the Amish society. Can a peaceful and non violent society work when the world falls apart?  Gave it a 4

 

 

 

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July 18, 2018: “Read & Tell”

Phinney Books, 7:30pm – Each person can talk about a book they have read during the past month and rate it from 0 to 5. Zero – “I really disliked it.” Five – “Best book I have recently read!”
Billie read Heart Buries by Theresa Marie Halport.  Interviewed by Trevor Noah.  A lot of pain and suffering 3.5 rating.
Mimi read Paula Hawkins, In the Water, it was similar to her first book.  It is ok and Mimi read it 2 weeks ago and doesn’t remember anything about it so rated it a 3.25.
Kris The Dry by Jane Harper.  Mystery-thriller set in Australia, not far from Melbourne, in a small farming community enduring its second year of a severe drought.  Protagonist works as a federal police officer in Melbourne; goes home to the farming community for the funeral of one of his childhood/adolescent friends.  He is dead, as are his wife and six-year old son.  Law enforcement conclusion is that the father killed his wife and son, and then killed himself.  Both the dead man and the protagonist are suspected of knowing more than they let on about the death of a young woman when they were teenagers.  Parents of the dead man cannot believe their son would have killed his family.  They ask his visiting police officer friend to look into it.  Book is fast-paced and well-written.  Author wrote it after taking an online writing course (and she also had a career as a journalist)  4.75
Kjersti read Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford. 4.5
Shelagh read There There 4.8 rating by Tommy Orange.   Set in Sacramento at a pow wow.  The ending is f-ing cataclysmic.  Giving attention to other native american authors.
Maribeth read Pachenko. It spans four generations who moved to American from Japan.  There is a tragic event of one of the characters that caught her by surprise.  4.75
Tom talked about Woman in Black by Madeleine St. John.  Text classics in Australia reissued the book.  It is a comedy about women who work in the frock department in the 1960’s.    Great characters and good things happen.   4.75
Kathleen read Exit West by Mohsin Hamid. It is told from the point of view of refugees.  There were many doors and the book took a magic realism perspective.  Liked the writing, gave it a 5.
Catherine read Go Went Gone and 5 Days at Memorial and really liked it 4.75.
Age of Dignity AI Jen Poo, a non fiction book about aging and caring in America.
Jon is continuing to read Chernow’s Hamilton and gives it a 4.5
Kitty read Go Went Gone
Deb read a mystery by Ruth Ware titled, The Woman in Cabin 10.
Rates it a 4 as it was entertaining and kept her interest.
Tim read the Razors Edge by W. Somerset Maugham.  Tells a story of WW1 pilot.  It is dated in the way woman are viewed and no one has to work but has money.  Signed up to see the movie and rated the book a 5
Pam read Warlight, by Michael Ondaatje and rated it a 5.Set in 1945 Britain, just after the end of the war, two kids, 14 and 16, are seemingly abandoned by their parents and placed in boarding schools. The story is narrated by Nathaniel, 14.  He and his sister, Rachel, both run away from their  boarding schools to live again at home full time with the appointed”guardian” and his friend, whom  the kids believe to be “criminals.”  The kids each lead their own secretive lives of adventure, which are abruptly brought to a halt.  The story flips several years ahead as Nathaniel  attempts to learn the story of his mother both during the war and after, a search that itself seems obscured by “warlight.”  I loved the writing, the narration and how Ondaatje wove researched details of the war in Britain into the story.  Fascinating and intriguing, woven through with desire.

Marla read, How the Post Office Created America by Winifred Gallagher.  Marla loves the post office.  As people moved west and wanted to communicate their correspondence to the ease, it helped establish transportation.

June 20, 2018: “Read & Tell”

Phinney Books, 7:30pm – Each person can talk about a book they have read during the past month and rate it from 0 to 5. Zero – “I really disliked it.” Five – “Best book I have recently read!”

Marla read Lawn Boy Jonathan Enison he creates excellent characters Rating 5
Tim1. Chemistry by Weike Wang 4.5/5
Wry, unique, touching tale of the limits of parental and partnership pressure as Student tries to deal with her life before, during and after her quest for a PhD in Chemistry.

2. The Foundation Trilogy by Isaac Asimov 5/5
A landmark of science fiction’s “Golden Age,” Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy is composed of the novels Foundation, Foundation and Empire, and Second Foundation, It is set in the far future, Foundation envisions a Galactic Empire that has thrived for 12,000 years, but whose decline into an age of barbarism lasting some thirty millennia is imminent–if the predictions of renegade psycho-historian Hari Seldon are accurate. Hoping to shorten the interval of this impending new Dark Age, Seldon convinces the Empire’s Commission of Public Safety to allow him to create a Foundation on which the future Empire will be erected.

Pam read The Overstory by Richard Powers.  About 9 characters that are woven together.  He has done a tremendous amount of research on trees.  History of eco activist of 1970 & 80’s.   Cerebral book, give it a 5.
Kjersti is still reading The Woman Who Would be King by Kara Cooney.  Great informatio about Egypt but difficult writing style so gives it a 2.75
Lilly read Barbarian Days.
Mimi, The Arcanum: The Extraordinary True Story by Janet Gleeson.  Book about porcelain, the technique was perfected by Chinese. Rated 4.5
Billie read Nothing to Envy by Barbara Demick, a L.A. times journalist.  She covered North Korea and she wrote about their journey into the famine.  Not a long read but informative. 5 rating
Jon is reading Ron Chernow’s Hamilton, he has a gift for making the time come alive.  4.5
Paul read, Fascism A Warning by Madeleine Albright.  She defines fascism and follows through with classic fascist leaders.  She points out that fascism was successful for a few years and solved problems.  Includes modern fascists along with Trump.  5
Kathleen read Circe by  Madeleine Miller  The daughter of Helios, the sun god.  She was banned.   She is a wise woman who knows a lot about herbs and magic and is a monster. She gave it a 5.
Shelagh also read Circe.  She likes books that tell the story of a woman who was overlooked in history.  Great read, fleshing out of Circe. 5 rating as well
Jennifer read Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk set in 1942 small farming town.   Coming of age story involving prejudice and sociopath.  Many functional strong family relationships within the story dealing with characters who inject the dysfunction.  5
Catherine, her first ridge readers, is reading Orange World by Karen Russell in the New Yorker, where a woman makes a deal with the devil while she is pregnant.   Vampires in the Lemon Grove, reminds her of this article. gets 5 out of 5
Maribeth read All the Light We cannot See, set in Nazi occupied France during WW2.
Karen read the novel Pachinko by Min Jin Lee.  She follows 4 generations of Koreans starting in Korea in the 20th century to Japan.  Loved reading it because the characters are so flushed out.    Suffer immense cruelty and prejudice but are a loyal family who stay true to each other.  History has failed us but no matter.

 

May 16, 2018: “Read & Tell”

Phinney Books, 7:30pm – Each person can talk about a book they have read during the past month and rate it from 0 to 5. Zero – “I really disliked it.” Five – “Best book I have recently read!”

SonyaThe Arcanum: The Extraordinary True Story by Janet Gleeson, 5.0:  Read the description from Karen who read it last month.  Totally agree with her – who would ever have thought that the history of porcelain could be so fascinating?!

Marla, The Fire This Time:  A New Generation Speaks About Race by Jessmyn Ward, 3.5: collection of short essays, memoir, and a few poems – some are fabulous, some are mediocre.

Tim, The Death of Chaos by L.E. Modesitt Jr, 4.5:  This is the sequel to the Magic of Recluse in which Lerris continues his growth as a master of order magic and his life fighting the chaos that threatens his friends and Recluse.

A Higher Loyalty (Truth, Lies and Leadership) by James Comey 4.8:  A fascinating book about recent events and insights into the life of this former US Attorney, assistant Attorney General and FBI director.

The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K Le Guin 4.0:  In this novella terran colonists have taken over the planet locals call Athshe, meaning “forest,” rather than “dirt,” like their home planet Terra. They follow the 19th century model of colonization: felling trees, planting farms, digging mines & enslaving indigenous peoples. The natives are unequipped to comprehend this. They’re a subsistence race who rely on the forests & have no cultural precedent for tyranny, slavery or war. The invaders take their land without resistance until one fatal act sets rebellion in motion & changes the people of both worlds forever.

Pam, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies and Leadership by Jim Comey, 5.0:  Surprised at how good it was – not ghostwritten, ethics in general and ethics in government – a bit about his young life, and then with Bush, and then of course with Trump – fabulous book, thoughtful, beautifully written, it gave her hope.

Kris, The Leopard, by Giuseppe di Lampedusa, 5.0:   Italian classic set in Sicily during Italian unification.  The main character is a Sicilian nobleman trying to navigate the changes. Gives an idea of daily life, of both rich and poor, during the period and the history of Sicily with its numerous conquerors and occupiers. Haven’t quite finished the book, but so far she gives it a 5.0  (And, it’s a classic. . . .)

Paul, Republican Like Me: How I Left the Liberal Bubble and Learned to Love the Right by Ken Stern, 4.0:  He lives in the right-wing and tries to learn what they stand for – for example, gun control, evangelicals.  He does need a better editor, but it is a good uncomfortable book to read.  Even though it is not really well-written, because it pushes him out of his comfort zone, he gave it the rating of 4.0.

Kjerste, The Turtles of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye, 5.0:  A young adult book, story of a 3rd grade kid with parents who are professors – moving to Michigan from Oman, spends time with his grandpa, moving adventure, got to know a little about the country, teaching some language of Oman.

Dave – Read mostly about prison reform and recidivism

Shelagh, What You are Getting Wrong about Appalachia by Elizabeth Catte, 5.0:  Much welcome correction to Hillbilly Elegy.  She is a historian and community activist.  J.D. Vance has many ties with right-wing communities.  About rich people buying resources and turning it into a company town.  Different areas in Appalachia are very different from each other.

Kathleen, Mister Monkey: A Novel by Francine Prose, 4.5:  She was in Sicily and didn’t get lots of reading done, but she did read this book.  It is a children’s book which turns into a musical  – off-off-off-off-Broadway children’s musical, moves between characters.

Karen, The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea, 4.5:  She listened to his interview on NPR – frustrated a bit by the very complicated family tree – yes, there is drug, murder, cancer, but it is very funny – it is fun to spend time with these people – 4.5 for now and maybe 5.0 when she reads it again.

Lilly, What Happened by Hilary Clinton, 4.0: It was good, a brilliant thoughtful woman – no real surprises – how can they be honest with themselves with such a complex situation and such a short time.  For example, when she says “I take responsibility for such and such” – how can she be so sure of what she did and didn’t have responsibility for.

Mimi, You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfield, 4.25: A collection of short stories.

Hawley, The Punch, 4.0: Novel about 2 brothers, their addled, aging mother, and a plot involving bigamy, among other things. 

Perotta, Joe College, 3.5:  got it out of a little library.  I think it’s one of his earlier ones.  Eh. 
 
Benjamin, The Swans of 5th Avenue, sort of fiction, sort of NF, 2.75: another pick from a little library.  A lightly fictionalized account of Truman Capote’s falling out with the society divas of NYC.  A little goes a long way.  2.75
 
Wolitzer, The Female Persuasion, 4.5: Meg Wolitzer’s latest, about young feminists vs. old- guard feminism.  I really liked it.  
 
Robertson, Testimony, MEMOIR, 4.0: I’ve always been a big fan of The Band, so I enjoyed Robbie Robertson’s memoir, which differs considerably from Levon Helm’s account! 
 
Abrams, All the Pieces Matter: the Inside Story of the Wire, 5.0:  The Wire was my all-time favorite TV show (I’ve only watched it 3 times, straight through).  Loved it. 

April 18, 2018: “Read & Tell”

The book discussion this evening was on Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward – lead by Pam.

Next book club meeting on 5/16:  Book Picks Night

Bring a book to recommend, each person gets to talk about their recommended book for a couple minutes, and after all have talked about their book, we each get to vote for 6 books. We then negotiate dates for leading the book discussions for the top 6 books.  All selected book club books are available at Phinney Books in paperback and, you get 15% off of the book.  There are only a few guidelines for selected books:

  • Must be in paperback
  • Must be available for purchase from Phinney Books

 


Phinney Books, 7:30pm – Each person can talk about a book they have read during the past month and rate it from 0 to 5. Zero – “I really disliked it.” Five – “Best book I have recently read!”

Sonya, The Humans: A Novel, by Matt Haig, 4.75:  Based on part of the description, you could possibly describe this book as sci-fi but really it is just what the title says – being human. An alien takes over a human body and is repulsed but eventually becomes aware of how amazingly wonderful it is to be human. He is a thoughtful writer, made me laugh and shed a few tears.  I recommended another of his books to a friend who is suffering from depression – Reasons to Stay Alive.

Dave:  Other than the book club book, he read bits and pieces about a lot of things, including neuroscience.

Karen, The Arcanum: The Extraordinary True Story by Janet Gleeson, 5.0: It is about pasionn, greed, enslavement, theft – in essence, about porcelain. In the 18th century, the  royalty coveted porcelain – came only from China – and was very very very expensive – they would do anything for it.  One rich person traded 600 soldiers for 60 porcelain vases – it is a really thrilling read.

Tom, Country Dark by Chris Offutt, 4.8:  Read his review in the Phinney Book Newsletter #182.  He compares the author to Raymond Carver – he comes from rural Kentucky, and hasn’t published fiction for 20 years.  It is set in the 50’s through 70’s – comes back from Korea – country noir – well told and observed, page turner, phenomenal – 4.8.

Happiness by Aminta Forna, 4.7

Paul, Ideas of Heaven by Joan Silber, 4.74:  It is 5 or 6 stories that are linked together by a minor character who will be the major character in another story.  The general themes are “people becoming who they really are” and “people who have an idea of what will satisfy them or make them happy and what happens when they don’t get that.”

Deanna, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, 4.5:  Loved reading it – a story over many generations and how the government and political decisions carried down to a personal level – the writing was beautiful – felt timeless.

Kris, House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea, 5.0:  A family saga – mexican-american family – revolves around 2 events – funeral of matriarch and the 70th b-day of one of her sons – reaches back in time to tell the story – different mothers – really rich!

Pam, Brother I am Dying  by Edwidge Danticat, 4.0:  A memoir of growing up in Haiti – takes you right into the nasty gangs, she and her brother stayed behind in Haiti while parents went on to the U.S. – aunt and uncle raised them for awhile, but the dad and uncle were quite close – back and forth between the U.S. and Haiti – gave a good feeling for the life and the extreme poverty there.

Marla, Ill Will by Dan Shaon, 4.0:  This is a dark tale – really well written – about damaged people who go around damaging other people – not a favorite read.

Mimi, The Immortalitsts by Chloe Benjamin, 4.0:  About 4 siblings who live on the lower Eastside during a hot summer – they see a gypsy woman who predicts their lives – it is about how each of them deal with the information they were given – everything from short to long lives – how do you choose to live your life?

Jennifer, The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, 4.75:  It is a young adult’s book which handles complex themes – two children who sneak away from their abusive mother by evacuating themselves from London – follows these children from 41 to 43 during WW2 – presents the time period really well.

Jon:  Went rafting down the green river in Utah which has an amazing landscape – found it a shame that Humboldt didn’t make it to that area – rivers cutting through rock and seeing the layers – he would have been quite fascinated!

Tim, The Immortal Irishman by Timothy Egan 4.8/:  (the Irish revolutionary who became an American hero).  This is the epic story of one of the most fascinating and colorful Irishman in nineteenth-century America. Meagher’s live sweeps through some of the key events in Irish and American history. After first showing his resistance to English rule and his violent opposition to it, we see him in the United States, where the almost equally vexing treatment of the Irish by American immigrants who had established themselves in the country a bit earlier than these Irish newcomers. Meagher stood out as one of the great public speakers of the age, and his heroism on the battlefields of the Civil War makes him a major, if peripheral figure in that conflict. But the genius of this books is how much it makes us understand so many things. The Irish Question, Resistance to English rule, Migration to America, The abuse of the Irish in the United States, The reasons why many went to war against the South, The Question of Slavery, The Civil War itself, along with many of its greatest battles, The end of the War, Western expansion, and we finally learn just how wild the wild west could be. All these aspects of Irish and American life are masterfully told..

The Magic of Recluce by L.E. Modesitt Jr 4.5:  Lerris, a bored magician’s apprentice, embarks on a quest for knowledge–called the dangergeld–during which he encounters the magic of the Chaos wizards and battles the Archenemy of Order.

Einstein’s Unfinished Symphony by Marcia Bartusiak 4.0:  (THE STORY OF A GAMBLE, TWO BLACK HOLES AND A NEW AGE OF ASTRONOMY).  Marcia Bartusiak reports on an aspect of Astronomy. She tells us about the new generation of observatories, showing the motivations of the detectors’ creators and the gamble they made to prove Einstein right when all other attempts had failed. She traces the quest of astronomers to build the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors, the most accurate measuring devices humans have created, and the discovery of gravitational waves, revealing the brilliance, personalities, and luck required to start a new age of astronomy.

Sabbath as Resistance by Walter Brueggemann 4.0:  (Saying No to the CULTURE OF NOW)  Discussions about the Sabbath often center around moralistic laws and arguments over whether a person should be able to play cards or purchase liquor on Sundays. In this volume, the author writes that the Sabbath is not simply about keeping rules but rather about becoming a whole person and restoring a whole society. Importantly, Brueggemann speaks to a 24/7 society of consumption, a society in which we live to achieve, accomplish, perform, and possess. We want more, own more, use more, eat more, and drink more. Keeping the Sabbath allows us to break this restless cycle and focus on what is truly important.

 

March 21, 2018: “Read & Tell”

The book discussion this evening was on The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf – lead by Jon.

Next book club meeting on 4/18:  Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward lead by Pam.


Phinney Books, 7:30pm – Each person can talk about a book they have read during the past month and rate it from 0 to 5. Zero – “I really disliked it.” Five – “Best book I have recently read!”

Dave read School for Scandal by Richard Brinsley Sheridan and She Stoops to Conquer by Oliver Goldsmith. 5 star rating.
Jon read The Darling by Russell Banks.  3
Kjersti read Hamilton by Ron Chernow 3
Kathleen read the Monk of Mokha 5  Dave Eggers
Shelagh read 1947 When Now Begins Elisabeth Ashbrink 5
Leah read Eruption, Untold Story of Mount St. Helens by Steve Olson 4
Mimi read Bill Bryson’s One Summer 4
Tim read Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape our Decisions by
  Dan Ariely  5
Marla read Men Explain Things to Me Rebecca Solnit 4
Tom read All the Pieces Matter The Inside Story of the Wire Jonathan Abrams 5
Jennifer  read Just Mercy by Bryan Stephenson 4.5
Deanna read The Quartet by Joseph Ellis 3.5
Lilly read Sherman Alexie, You Don’t Have to Say You love me (unrated)

February 21, 2018: “Read & Tell”

The book discussion this evening was on When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams – lead by Sonya and Dave, and chosen by Cashew.  Everyone really enjoyed the book.  One woman admitted that she started it, decided she didn’t like it, put it down, picked it up again later, and after finishing it, bought several of the books for her friends!  Another person said that reading it felt like reading poetry!

Next book club meeting on 3/21:  The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf lead by Jon


Phinney Books, 7:30pm – Each person can talk about a book they have read during the past month and rate it from 0 to 5. Zero – “I really disliked it.” Five – “Best book I have recently read!”

Sonya, The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure by Shoba Narayan, 3.5:  An Indian woman, her husband and children move back to India after some time in NYC. She writes of reintegrating with Indian life – in particular, there is a woman across the street from her apartment who has several cows from whom people buy their milk each morning – fresh from the cows’ teats.  She writes of her relationship with the milk lady, of the history of cows in India, and other aspects of her life.  I enjoyed it because it is giving me a flavor of life in Bangalore.

David, Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks, 5.0:  Almost anything by Oliver Sacks is fascinating.

Leah, An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, 3.5:  The husband is wrongfully convicted of rape and is put in jail, and eventually released. It is about how these events affect their marriage.  She found it more political than expected.  Each chapter has a different narrator.  Another woman in the group heard her interview on PBS – the author was amazing – very dynamic.

Kjerste, Lilian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney, 4.5: This woman tells you her life story as she walks – lives in NYC.  It is a fun story and based on true events.

Tom, Vengeance by Zachary Lazar, 4.5:  Not exactly sure why he picked it up.  It is called a novel but really seems to be autobiographical.  The protagonist shares his name and history with the author.  It is set in contemporary Louisiana, sees a passion play in the state prison, talks to one of the inmates who says he is innocent, it then shifts to inmates point of view.  At the end, Tom had forgotten that it was fiction, and was left floundering a bit – finally remembered it is fiction because the inmate was not in the acknowledgements at the end.  The author is very aware of his position as a white person, the writing is exquisite but not in a flashy way.

Shelagh, Dear Mr. You by Mary Louise Parker, 4.8:  It is a memoir written through letters – she writes to the various men in her life – cab driver, uncle of a somalian girl she adopted, former lover.  Very good writing.

Kathleen, The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan, 5.0:  Sweeping history of last few thousand years showing that the world revolved and revolves around the countries of the Siulk Road from Chinga to Italy.  Showed how people were interconnected through interchange of culture, language, slaves, disease and trade. And, how governments and powerful people continue to make the same types of mistakes century after century.

Karen,  The Persian Boy by Mary Renault, 4.5:  A historical novel, the last 7 years of Alexander the Great’s life, campaigns up to India and back, learned about his campaigns and what kind of leader he was, why they followed him.  The device she uses is the persian boy who is the eunuch lover of King Darius, and then of Alexander.  He is a real boy, and it is very likely that Alexander did have those types of relationships.

Tim, The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place by Alan Bradley, 4.0:   Flavia de Luce novels – it starts with the father dying, then there is the aunt who is going to decide everything for them, the sisters go on a boat trip, get a better sense of who Dodger is.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles 5.0:  the 30-year saga of the Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, who is placed under house arrest inside the Metropol Hotel in Moscow in 1922.

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness 4.0:  This is the third and final volume of the All Souls Trilogy that started with A Discovery of Witches. This is one of the few trilogies, that I have read, in which the final volume is the best of the three. As with the other volumes, the author packs this story with historical details in a wonderful magical setting.

Pam, We Were Eight Years in Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates, 5.0:  It is a collection of essays published in the Atlantic Magazine over the course of Obama’s presidency..  He takes a topic and drills down – very enlightening, challenging and intense – talks about the presidency and some of the positions which he disagrees with.  She found it fascinating – many things she didn’t know about before on how blacks were treated.

Paul, God: A Human History by Reza Aslan, 4.0:  He writes on the premise that how we organize our society is how we organize our spirituality.  The hunter-gatherer society had pantheism, societies with royalty have monotheism – it is an interesting idea and it appears to be generally true, though Hinduism is left out.

Kitty, Gilgamesh: A Novel by Joan London, 5.0:  Fabulous so far, small little book.

Mimi, Last Hope Island by Olson, 4.75:  Story of the contributions of the Poles Czechs, Norwegians to the Allied effort in WWII which the Britich & Americans never really acknowledge (arrogance was unbelievable).  Two people had it on their top 10 list for last year – it is worth it.

Best Mystery Stories of 2017, 3.5

A House Among the Trees by Glass, 3.75: Nice read, a little above average.