Marlene’s March Book Reviews

BOOKS:

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro.  In case you thought I wasn’t ever going to come up with a recommend this month, here is one and it is a definite recommend.  Now, it might be a bit uncomfortable reading the story as things are somewhat vague for a good part of the book but one does get the impression that things will become clearer.  We must sit back and enter the dreamlike fantasy that Ishiguro has created with five marvelous characters.   It’s set in post-King Arthur Britain where the Saxons and the Britons are at an uneasy peace.  We have a mix of Britons, Saxons, peasants, soldiers and warriors as well as some mysticism.  You are right in that it is not my usual fare but I really enjoyed this book, maybe because it was so different than the norm.  A RECOMMEND

The Gadlfy by E.L. Voynich.  A gadfly is a person who interferes with the status quo of a society or community by posing novel, potently upsetting questions, usually directed at authorities. The term is originally associated with the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, in his defense when on trial for his life.  In this treasure of a story we find our characters are in need of a gadfly to get them out of the sorrow, guilt, anger, etc.  or the term can even apply to a country that needs to be booted out of its complacency or have the veils lifted from the eyes of the citizens.  Although written in 1897, the story is contemporary with the themes of political upheavals, religious faith and the challenges of love and forgiveness.  I read this as a college student and I was delighted when I recently found a copy.  It is one of those “thinking” books that stays with you long after the last page:  A RECOMMEND

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow.  Here’s the book that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to create the popular musical.  It’s long, intense reading but with his superb writing Chernow brings life and intrigue to complicated issues such as central banking.  This is a great view of an important person that is often glossed over when relating the history of our country.  Most Americans know only that he was killed in a duel by Aaron Burr.  Chernow holds no punches, telling the good and the bad, the public and the private and we get a well-rounded biography.  We learn of the valuable contributions he made to form our union, the intelligence to create complex institutions and the dedication he had to make us a strong union.  He wielded great influence and I believe his reputation was tarnished by those who feared his influence.  He is truly a founding father and our constitution has withstood the test of time due in large part to this man.  This is a must read for every American and for others who want to read a good book!  A RECOMMEND

Ass-holes A Theory of Donald Trump by Aaron James.  Don’t think you are going to learn anything substantial  to warrant your time in reading this book. Fortunately it’s a short one.  James spouts his Asshole Theory and now fits DT into it.  The book reads too much like a gimmick with a catchy title to sell it. NOT A RECOMMEND

Audio:

Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny.  As a mystery fan, I was looking forward to discovering a new detective in a new locale.  This is Chief Inspector Gamache in Quebec City who is recovering from a previous situation that was horrendous to live through.  There is also a mystery that seemed to have been solved but it is reopened.  I am assuming that Penny has covered these two events in a prior book but I have to say I am glad I didn’t read it as this one would be tiresome, going over the same details.  On top of that there is a present day murder to be solved as well as an in-depth look at Quebec City, with the anglophile/Francophile viewpoints as well as the mystery of where the founder of the city is buried.  We have all these mysteries so it gets a mite confusing and Penny tends to make the sections short so there is quick hopping from one mystery to another.  I was hoping that I had found another series to try but alas, I don’t think I will be reading any more in the series.  It is not a bad book and I did enjoy listening to it.  It’s just there are too many books out there and I want to spend time on GREAT ones.  NOT A RECOMMEND

All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner.  I almost quit this book after only 1 or maybe two CDs.  I realize that people become addicts because they start using to help them cope with the challenges they face.  This character starts off as a whiney and selfish B*tch whose behavior with the addiction goes undetected for the longest time. She doesn’t suffer any of the heart-wrenching catastrophes of other addicts and beats the 40-60% failure rate AND she gets to keep her daughter, her job and her husband.  All the characters are shallow and there are so many other avenues that presented themselves but were passed over.  I may be missing something so I’ll give her some slack on why she became addicted in the first place but the author should have done more research in the beginning stages of addiction, the life of addicts, the treatment success and failure rates, the consequences that most addicts suffer, etc.  as I tend to think she is just writing a schmaltzy story.  Yep, I should have quit at least by CD 2 but I did finish it so I can honestly say NOT A RECOMMEND.

FILMS:

Hidden Figures”  Great movie!  We all know about the white men that were astronauts but what about these black women who made their spaceflights successful?   Your heart will hurt with the discriminations they faced and I bet some of the worst wasn’t revealed.  But your soul will soar when they break the barriers and attain the positions commiserate with their talents.   It’s too bad they had to wait so long for recognition but Hooray!  for this movie.  A RECOMMEND  (Actually, I read some live interviews and looked at photos of the real staff. Very enlightening…lots of changes in the story for the movie. Robin)

ONE MORE…I was about to send this as I leave tomorrow for Florida and won’t be back until March but finished this book while packing:>)

AUDIO: HAG-SEED by Margaret Atwood.  Ah, this marvelous writer comes out with another winner.  Combine this talented writer and Shakespeare and you are in for a treat.  The stage for the performance of “The Tempest” is set in a prison with an array of delightful characters, who don’t seem to be such hardened criminals (so maybe we need to take this project into our prisons???)  and the story within a story unfolds. I learned that this was part of The Hogarth Project (http://hogarthshakespeare.com/)  where well-known present day writers are challenged to set a Shakespearean play into modern times.  Atwood does a fabulous job and now I have to go find others in the project.  A RECOMMEND

Happy reading, listening and viewing!

Marlene