Friday, July 11, 2014

Ten Books, Volume 5

Because I know you all wait with bated breath for what Kelly's been reading lately...

NON-FICTION
  • The President's Club: Inside the World's Most Exclusive Fraternity by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy
    • This was a really interesting book. Starting with Herbert Hoover and his relationship with Franklin Roosevelt, the book covers how each current president gets along with the ex-presidents. (Sometimes good, sometimes not so good.)
    • Hoover and Harry Truman became close friends after working together, as have George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Nixon was surprisingly helpful to later presidents (and was the one recent president who benefited the least from the Club as the others had all died by the time his second term began). 
    • I have a new appreciation for President Johnson. He was really in a no-win situation with the Vietnam War. Pull out the troops early on and the Communists take over (unacceptable in the Cold War period) or ramp up the military force and American boys die (what happened).
FICTION
  • The Uncanny X-Men Omnibus Volume 1 by Chris Claremont and Len Wein and Bill Mantlo
    • A collection of the Uncanny X-Men comic books #94-131. My personal collection of X-Men comic books starts with issue 138. I really want to write more about this in a separate post so hang in there!
  • Light a Penny Candle by Maeve Binchy
    • This was the first novel published in 1982 by Maeve Binchy, an Irish author who died a couple of years ago. Three of her books are among my favorites: Circle of Friends, Evening Class and Scarlet Feather. I re-read these three from time to time.
    • I liked this one but didn't love it. The main characters were fine but I hated the character of Johnny. It seemed ridiculous that Elizabeth and Aisling both fall for the same selfish man. Anyway, it's not one I will re-read.
  • Written in My Own Heart's Blood by Diana Gabaldon
    • This is the 8th book in the Outlander series. Definitely better than the last book which ended on total cliffhangers (yes, plural cliffhangers). The first 6 books had complete stories while also furthering the continuing story of Claire and Jamie. The last two have so many threads and characters that I think it must be very difficult to tie each book up in a neat bow anymore.
    • So I liked this book better than the last but I am kind of tired of the series too. Now the characters are in the midst of the Revolutionary War and only covers a few months of time. Since the fighting will continue for another few years it seems the whole series may just go on indefinitely. We'll just have to wait and see. The books come out every 3 or 4 years so it could be well over another decade before we get the completion of the saga.
    • The Starz TV series covering the very first book begins next month. I am definitely watching it. It will likely inspire more interest in the overall book series. This book, if the TV series makes it that far, wouldn't even get covered until 2021!
  • The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty
    • I know a lot of people loved this book but I didn't. SPOILER AHEAD!! You read a book and find out a character does something horrible so you expect them to get their comeuppance by the end, right? In this book, a child pays the price for the father's big secret. I think this must be why I didn't like the ending of another recent very well-liked book, Gone Girl. At the end of that book you learn that an innocent child will pay the price for the parents' doings. Ugh.
  • Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo
    • This is book 1 in the Kate Burkholder mystery series. I have no memory of where I heard of it but the overall premise was irresistible: Kate is from a small Ohio town with a large Amish population. But wait, there's more! A murder occurs, similar in details to an attack on Kate when she was a teenager. The hook? Kate was Amish herself but the attack made her leave her hometown and become a police officer. Now she's back as police chief.
    • I generally steer clear of mystery series except for the first book; they all seem the same to me when read in bulk. But I think I may try to read some of the other 5 books in the series (so far). I think maybe pacing them out might help with the redundancy issues.
    • Plus, Amish!
  • Life as We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
  • The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer
  • This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer
  • The Shade of the Moon by Susan Beth Pfeffer 
    • This young adult series concerns what happens when a meteor hits the moon, moving it closer and causing havok to the Earth's climate: tides are more extreme and flood low-lying areas; volcanoes erupt that turn the sky gray, destroy crops and livestock and make the entire planet into a long winter; and earthquakes cause damage and tsunamis.
    • The first book is told from the viewpoint of a teen girl in Pennsylvania. The second book is the same story told through a teen boy's eyes. The third book unites the two and the fourth follows the heroine's younger brother.
    • All very interesting but it still seems incomplete. I think there may be more books coming? By the end of the last book society is formed into rigid societies of haves and have-nots. The have-nots spend a lot of time talking about revolution. A fifth book might cover that topic. I have read so many of these dystopian books and all of them end with some nod towards hope for the future. This one ends with an escape and society still fragmented.

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