Damn Good Books (or not)

An Officer and a Spy - Robert Harris
review What an excellent book! I only knew the bare minimum about the Dreyfus Affair. This novel, well researched, really educated me about it. What a horrid piece of history. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the struggle for human rights and justice. It's a great page turner, too.

New Selected Journals, 1939-1995

New Selected Journals, 1939-1995. Stephen Spender - Stephen Spender Reread - worth it. Only skimmed through it since it was a re-read....well remembered.

We Are Water: A Novel

We Are Water - Wally Lamb I love Wally Lamb. I did not love this book. Disappointed.
The Keepers of the House - Shirley Ann Grau The Keepers of the House tells the story of several generations of the Howland family and their home in Alabama. There is a wonderful affection for the land in this book. "The frost-stripped trees and the bleached grasses glisten and shine in the small light. In the winter-emptied fields granite outcroppings gleam white and stark. The bones of the earth, old people call them
The Light in the Ruins - Chris Bohjalian The Light in the Ruins
Gorky Park - Martin Cruz Smith Detective novels, police procedurals, whatever you call them, are not my cup of tea. However, I really, really liked this one. Well written and unique.
World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War - Max Brooks This novel could have been much more entertaining than it was. My main quibble: The book is a series of interviews with survivors of The Zombie Wars, but, there is little to no difference between the voice of the interviewer and the interviewees. For me, this presented a major problem. The book essentially has no plot, no story arc, and no characters to care about. Even so,, I did find it mildly entertaining.
Where You Can Find Me: A Novel - Sheri Joseph Disclaimer: i recieved this book through Goodreads First Reads program. Thank you St. Martin's Press ( Macmillan) for making this book available.

'Where You Can Find Me, lifts the picture from the milk carton, takes the headline 6:00 news story and presents us with a tale we are all famiar with; that of the missing, abducted child. The child, Caleb (aka) Nicky has been found and returned to his family after two years away or 'Gone' as he calls it. He's been kidnapped and held captive by pedophiles. What happens when he comes home to a family who no longer knows him? How does he reintegrate into his home and community. The truth is that everything has irrevocably changed. Relocation to a remote region of Costa Rica seems like the best solution to his mother. She takes Caleb and his younger sister, Lark, there to stay with her mother-in-law. Perhaps here Caleb, and, yes, the family can reinvent themselves.

Sheri Joseph has written a moving, complex novel. Joseph writes with very precise prose and very real characters. She manages to write about a tragic, horrible crime and how it affects the family, especially Caleb with grace and dignity.
'Where You Can Find Me' is a difficult read given the subject matter. Don't let that deter you as this is one of the most beautifully written books that I have read recently.

* After several weeks, I've upped my rating to 5 stars. Reason: I cannot forget it and its characters.
Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology - Caroline Paul, Wendy MacNaughton If you love a cat, might love a cat someday, or just plain like cats you will enjoy this quick easy read. Whimsical illustrations are a bonus. There are laughs, there are tears.
It's very entertaining.
Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
This book tells the story of Stephen Wraysford and the events that shape his life during WWI, the Great War. Starting in pre-war France and moving on in time, it deals with Stephen's experiences in love and war. It begins in 1910 when Steven discovers his first love. It's not so much love, however, more a young man's lust idealized as love. And, that, sadly, was to be interrupted by war. It will provide much necessary yearning for the young Steven who goes off to that terrible war.

The battlefield scenes are very descriptive, making difficult reading at times, as the reader is engulfed in the trenches and tunnels as if witnessing the carnage and the brutalities of War first hand. Stephen loses more and more of his innocence and humanity, and looks upon death as expected rather than feared. As his humanity diminishes in the face of the horridness of battle and the claustrophobia of the tunnels he finally experiences a resurgence of the will to live. Life, however, will be far different than what he imagined before the war to end all wars.

The only part of the book I didn't like was, that after reading almost half of the the book set in WWI times, the story flashes forward to 1979 and Stephen's grandaughter and her search for information on her deceased grandfather. While there was some interesting aspects of her story, I felt like it just didn't belong.

The book, though, is an admirable novel of WWI of which there are too few. WWI truly should have been a warning for the future but sadly.....we now have drones and a supposedly sanitized way of war. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning why we should abandon warfare.
Mary Coin - Marisa Silver I would venture that most of us of an age of 40 or more are aware of the Dorothea Lange 1936 photograph called

Haunted Ground (Nora Gavin, #1)

Haunted Ground (Nora Gavin, #1) - Erin Hart Haunted Ground is a book chosen by one of the book groups I am a member of. It is a book I would have probably overlooked on my own. Generally speaking I am not inclined to read gothic mysteries. That said, this is a pretty good book that has history and archaeology interwoven in a suspenseful plot with not one, but two, mysteries. The first centers around a severed head recovered from an Irish peat bog, the other concerning a missing woman and child from a nearby estate.

Most enjoyable to me are the descriptions of the village and the people living there. There are wonderful examples of the traditional music and the folk lore of Ireland often passed down through generations and centuries in poetry and song.

If you think you might be interested in *bog bodies* this book is for you.

* "Over the past centuries, remains of many hundreds of people--men, women, and children--have come to light during peat cutting activities in northwestern Europe, especially in Ireland, Great Britain, the Netherlands, northern Germany, and Denmark. These are the "bog bodies." The individual bog bodies show a great degree of variation in their state of preservation, from skeletons, to well-preserved complete bodies, to isolated heads and limbs. They range in date from 8000 B.C. to the early medieval period. Most date from the centuries around the beginning of our era." ~ from 'Bodies of the Bogs' in Archeology Magazine - December 1997
Far North - Marcel Theroux Pausing for now. I need something not quite so bleak at the moment.
The Tin Horse: A Novel - Janice Steinberg

Not ready to rate or review...but, I would not compare it to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn". That's a publishers blurb I'm sure. This book can stand on its own, but might not get read if they didn't use some gimmick to get folks to buy it.

The Emperor's Children - Claire Messud 3 and 1/2 stars

Resistance: A Frenchwoman's Journal of the War

Resistance: A Frenchwoman's Journal of the War - Barbara Mellor This book is the actual journal of a Frenchwoman's experiences during World War II. At the start of the war Agn

Currently reading

California: A Novel
Edan Lepucki