What We’re Reading — August 31, 2015

What have we been watching reading and listening to the last few weeks?

Kelly: “I read Pretty Is by Maggie Mitchell recently and loved it – it’s sort of a thrilled in the style of Gone Girl. Beautifully written. I haven’t enjoyed a book that much in a long time.”

Doreen: “I’m listening to: Boston Girl (Anita Diamant) – Addie Baum, a young Jewish girl, growing up in Multi-cultural North End, during the early 1900s. Narrates her life in Boston to her granddaughter.
The Devil’s Workshop (Alex Grecian) Scotland Yard’s Monster Squad novel, third book. Set in 1890s. Rather gruesome but suspenseful telling of escaped killer, Jack the Ripper.
I’m also reading Charlotte’s Web and Mary Poppins

Laura: “I just read the new novel, Dietland by Sarai Walker. Plum Kettle has been frustrated with her weight most of her life, going so far to follow an unhealthy fad diet called the Baptist Plan. She gets recruited into an underground group seeking to right many wrongs about societal views of women. The book has a lot of dark humor, and most women will relate to Plum’s struggles about her image, but I had trouble finishing it. It was almost as if the book couldn’t decide if it was a satire, a coming of age novel, or a thriller.
I also just completed watching the Canadian series Orphan Black. If you have ever spent a day binge watching Alias and then topped it off with a viewing of The Parent Trap (the original one, of course!), then this is the show for you. (And yes, there are people who do spend the day doing that. I may be one of them.) In the pilot episode, Sarah Manning (played by the versatile and amazing Tatiana Maslany) witnesses her doppelganger commit suicide by jumping in front of an oncoming train. If you follow any entertainment media, you already know the twist, but I won’t reveal it here. All I’ll say is that all of the characters are well developed, the plots are science fiction while still being believable, and the action is heart stopping. If Tatiana Maslany doesn’t get her Emmy, I will feel personally offended!”


  • The Fifth Heart by Dan Simmons (fiction) : This book is slow. I mean s-l-o-w! There’s a reason why I don’t normally read books that are 600 pages long. Such a slow slog. Which is not to say that this book isn’t interesting. It features Sherlock Holmes in 1893 America with his unwilling companion, American author Henry James. Supposedly James is on the verge of suicide when he is mysteriously waylaid by a disguised Holmes. Thus begins a very long-winded account of Holmes attempt to circumvent the assassinations of both Queen Victoria and President Grover Cleveland. Holmes’ drug addiction plays a part in the very involved story along with guest appearances by real life personalities such as Samuel Clemens. But in the end I could not finish the book no matter how well-written it is. I just can’t handle 600 pages.
  • Lost and Found : the True Story of Jaycee Lee Dugard and the Abduction that Shocked the World by John Glatt (non-fiction) : In 1991 a pretty shy little 11 year old girl was kidnapped as she walked to her school bus stop. This began a grueling and gruesome saga of 18 years as Jaycee was held captive by a monstrous sadist Phillip Garrido and his wife as a sex slave. She was confined to a sweltering shed in Garrido’s secluded backyard. Eventually she bore him 2 daughters as he considered the child to be his second wife. I am not in favor of the death penalty as a general rule but I would make an exception in this case. Eventually Jaycee was recovered after 18 years of captivity, thoroughly brainwashed into thinking that these horrible people were her ‘family’.
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Furry : Life with the World’s Most Melancholy Cat by Tom Cox (non-fiction) : Actually this is about a thirty-something man with four cats, not just one. I am normally leery of cat books because inevitably the cat dies in the final chapter but in this case Janet (a male cat) passes away in the first chapter. But Cox has plenty more cats at home plus visitor cats who let themselves into his home by means of an unguarded cat flap in his back door that leads into his back garden in the British countryside of Norfolk. Ralph, Shipley and The Bear (the melancholy cat) have their own unique personalities and for a time Cox enjoys living a solitary life with just his cats. But life with three moggies can be complicated. Cox gets a new cat-loving girlfriend and eventually a new female kitten, Roscoe. Nothing enormous happens in this book, the adventures are small, but life and cats continue on in a warm and loving household. Maybe you just have to be a cat person to appreciate the day-to-day life of a cat-filled home.

Pat A: “I just finished Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave. It is a new book. It is the story of a family that owns a winery in Sonoma County, California. It gives a little history and information on how wine is made and incorporates family issues (when things get tough, we do what gives us comfort, returning to our roots). It is about family, love and the importance of finding a place to call home.”

Nancy W: “I just finished Summer Secrets by Jane Green and I’m reading The Rumor by Elin Hilderbrand. Can you tell I love beach reads?”

Jan: “There’s a new addition to the Beatles saga… Ringo: With a Little Help by Michael Seth Starr (no relation, as he explains in the introduction.) “The World’s Most Famous Drummer” has spent most of his life trying to emerge from the shadow of his arguably more talented bandmates and has done so very successfully. Indeed, he had the first solo release after The Breakup, beating Paul by a few weeks. This book is actually a quintessential study of the all too typical ride of rock stars from the heights of fame to depths of alcoholism or other problems. Unlike many others, including his good friend Keith Moon of The Who, Ringo was able to recover and forge a remarkable career. Highly recommended for like-minded fanatics.”

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