Monday, October 20, 2014

Our November Book Club Selection: the Eccentric King Ludwig

Our November book, Ludwig Conspiracy by Oliver Potzsch, (last name pronounced "perch"), is not from the Hangman's Daughter series; one of my favorite series. I have not started reading it yet but I know it is supposed to be of the Dan Brown type of historical fiction/mystery.  Potzsch apparently focuses on the mysterious death of an eccentric King of Bavaria, a man widely considered to have been insane. I am eager to get started on this book.

By the way, there is a castle used by Disney which is modeled after one of King Ludwig's castles.

Here is another book I intend to read and suggest for the book club for 2015, have you read it? It's the All the Light We Cannot See  by Anthony Doerr set in Germany and France before and during World War 11. Please give me feedback if you have read it.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Our Book Club Selections October 2013 - October 2014

A year of reading with my Book Club. We do not meet in December. In January we usually meet and discuss books that we read and enjoyed during the Christmas break. This year we missed a meeting in July and discussed that book in August.  How many titles on our list have you read?

2013

October: Blood of the Prodigal; an Amish Mystery by P.L. Gaus.

November : Open and Shut by David Rosenfelt 

2014
February: Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

March: Half Broke Horses by Jeanette Walls

April: Last Message Row by Shane Peacock

May: Sycamore Row by John Grisham

June:  Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

July:  Fault in Our Stars by John Green

August: The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty

September: Tyrant’s Daughter by J. C. Carleson

October: Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman

The book selections that were my least favorite were Fault in Our Stars and Half Broke Horses. My favorite selections were Bel Canto , The Husband's Secret, and Gone Girl. 

 Next Month's Book Selection

November : Ludwig Conspiracy by Oliver Potzsch 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

I'm Reading "Orange is the New Black"

I am reading Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman and she is giving me an inside look at life in a women's prison. Most people I have spoken to have heard of the made for TV version with the lesbian scenes and the overabundance of using-the-toilet scenes but they didn't know it was based on a book by Piper. The book is not exactly like the TV version. The characters are there Pop, Vanessa, Pennsatucky, "Crazy Eyes", Yoga Janet but not their back story as in the movie. The anecdotes in the book are not as dramatic and colorful or sexual as on TV.

I am on page 199 and the inmates are upset about this article written by Lynn Tuohy in 2004 that gives the impression that life in the Danbury Camp was like living in a big hotel. The informant gives the impression that the soon-to-be-imprisoned Martha Stewart would fit right in with all the classy inmates.  Piper, on the other hand, described the prison as a ghetto for the poor, uneducated and unskilled. In her opinion there was a revolving door between the ghetto where the poor, uneducated and unskilled lived on the outside and the ghetto in the prison system.  Turned out that the authorities really did not want Martha at Danbury anyway; there would be too much media focus on the conditions of the prison.

I am enjoying the book. Piper is great at expressing her emotions mainly her worry and humiliation but also her pleasure. She worried about her family and fiance and how her going to prison would affect them. She expressed her pleasure when receiving visitors in prison. She wrote of her pain and humiliation after seeing the prison gynecologist. Also, Piper has a lot of opinions about the prison system. I would rate this 4 out of 5.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

In a World of Peculiars, Hollows, Wights, Ymbrynes

I am in a time loop in a world of peculiars; disaffected peculiars, who wanted to become immortal and instead turned into hollows;wights, who are in a purgatory-like state, and ymbrynes,who protect peculiar children and who can transform into birds. In this time loop, the peculiars relive the same day every day so they never age. The protagonist, Jacob, can pass through the loop freely from the present to the past and back again.

I am reading the fantasy fiction of Ransom Riggs titled, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, written for young adults. I like the pictures in the book because they make the story seem real, seem possible. The cover is great because it is creepy. I was expecting a scary ghost story but it is more about adventure. We don't get the 100 year old history of the hollows and wights until page 254 close to the end of the book.

I would rate this book 31/2 stars out of 5 even though I have not finished reading it. I find the resolution is taking too long. I am on page 323 and am rushing to complete the end. I like most of what I have read but am not committed enough to this story. This is not one I would recommend for members of my book club. When I get to the end, I will determine  if I want to read the follow up book, Hollow City.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Reading Tyrant's Daughter with the Book Club

I am reading a very interesting novel, The Tyrant's Daughter by J. C. Carleson, with the Book Club. It's written for teens. The protagonist is Laila, a Middle Eastern teen, who is in exile in the USA with her Mom and brother courtesy of the CIA. Interestingly, the writer is a former CIA agent. The story so far is all about Laila and her family adjusting to life in the USA and her coming to the realization that her recently deceased Dad was not a King but a Dictator in their un-named Middle Eastern country.  The themes I have detected so far have to do with trust and change. As Laila tells us on page 95, everything has been turned upside down for her family, her head and her heart.  I like how the chapters are brief and how the story flows. My guess is that Laila's Mom has been charged by the CIA to win the trust of some of her countrymen and spy on them. I am on page 119 and am eager to find out where the story is really leading me.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Estela Carlota, Argentina and Philomena, Ireland

Came across this article on Argentine activist 83 year old  Estela Carlota whose daughter was kidnapped and murdered during a period of military dictatorship. Her new born grand-baby was abducted.  Thirty five years later there is a DNA match. She's been able to reunite with her grandson. The story reminded me of Philomena except Estela had a happier ending. Kudos to the two groups, Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo and Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, which continue to work on finding the missing "children" and reuniting families.

I finished reading Philomena yesterday. It was not as I expected. I thought the book was going to be more about the search to find Mike Hess born Anthony Lee by Philomena and the writer Martin Sixsmith . This was a story written from Mike Hess's point of view ; his feelings, his influences, his demons; and cleverly written from the stories told to Martin by those who knew him well.   The movie trailer looks like it will be more about the search conducted by Philomena and Martin. The weirdest thing is that Martin and Mike Hess met and briefly spoke to each other. As Martin wrote in Philomena,"Fate has a curious way of crossing or nearly crossing the paths of those whose lives it will one day bring together."

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Philomena: Heartlessness, Hypocrisy, Shame

Before adoption of African children and Chinese children by American families, there was the adoption of Irish children. I'm reading Philomena by Martin Sixsmith, a journalist. It is based on the real life story of a pregnant Irish teen and her friend who were abandoned by their families, forced to work for free at Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, then forced to sign away their rights to their children by giving them up for adoption to strangers from America. The time period is the 1950s when it was shameful to be an unmarried pregnant woman.

In Martin Sixsmith's own words, this is a story of heartlessness and hypocrisy.  I would say another theme in the story is shame. Anthony and Mary were adopted by an American couple but the Dad did not really want any more children. The couple already had three boys.  Adding two Irish children, one of whom spoke little English, to the family seemed to terrify the Dad and his boys, particularly the third boy. The presence of the children aged 2 and 3  threw the family off balance. While the children could not remember much about their real Moms, they felt incomplete, felt abandoned and were confused by the abandonment. Anthony in particular, renamed Mike, tried to get information about his biological Mom to no avail.

I am on page 243 and Mike is living with his partner Mark who was also of  Irish heritage.

The book has already been made into a movie starring Judi Dench as Philomena.  Audiences in Venice and Toronto gave this movie a standing ovation in the midst of their tears and laughter. I am requesting it through netflix.

Since the movie, there is an increase in the number of people putting their names on adoption registers to trace birth parents or trace children given up for adoption.