Thursday, August 27, 2015


Crooked / Austin Grossman 355 pgs.

An alternative history featuring Richard Nixon.  Nixon is one of the most improbable presidents.  This book explains all by revealing the supernatural secret behind his assent to power.  Told in his own words, this remarkable story tells of his assent to power and how it all fell apart.  Was he saving us? or just embarrassing us?

Another home run by Grossman, who also wrote Soon I will be Invincible.  Looking forward to the movie!

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Thirty-three Teeth

Thirty-three Teeth by Colin Cotterill  238 pp.

This is the second book in the "Dr. Siri Investigates" series. By all standards the aged Dr. Siri Paiboun should be retired. Because he is one of the few doctors who have not fled newly communist Laos, he has been given the post of National Coroner. There he deals with the laughable bureaucracy, unusual cases, an ancient spirit that lives in his body, and his ambitious nurse Dtui. In this episode Siri is given the job of determining the nationality of two charred helicopter crash victims connected to the deposed royal family, find the source of the horrific deaths of women mauled by what appears to be a large animal (possibly a missing bear?), and if that wasn't enough, people are hurling themselves off a ministry building. Nurse Dtui plays an important role as co-investigator which ultimately puts her life in jeopardy. The story is intriguing but it's the characters that make this series so enjoyable.

Lowriders in Space

Lowriders in Space by Cathy Camper  112 pp.

I read this on Kara's recommendation and she has covered everything I would say about it and more. The only thing I can add is that I enjoyed it and I'll be recommending it to kids interested in graphic novels.

Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, 938 pages
This year's summer reading big-book, UCPL's fifth, and the first one that I finished before the third discussion. I have always claimed that I read this long ago, and I remembered much of the first half, but the second half of the book seems utterly unfamiliar. Sure, I knew the ending, and there's not much to Levin and Kitty's story that will stick with me for decades to come. Levin's religious awakening didn't seem to be as compelling as any of the long, novel length scenes earlier in the book: the reaping with the peasants, Vronsky and Anna's time in Italy, Stiva, Levin, and annoying friend out hunting. Those were all almost stories unto themselves.
Maybe the most readable of the five big books we have done, but it;s no War and Peace. 
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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling, audiobook read by Jim Dale. 341 pages.

We listened to the second in the Harry Potter series while driving around California on vacation this summer. A great read for a long car ride. Also our first time in a modern vehicle where we could listen to the MP3 instead of the CD. We are very 21st century now.
We love the books and Jim Dale is the best reader ever.
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The book.

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DMZ: The Deluxe Edition, Book One

DMZ: The Deluxe Edition, Book One by Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli, 304 pages.
Graphic novel series about an intern photographer sent into the war zone that Manhattan has become in the not too distant future. The art and the story are both pretty good.
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Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery

Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh, 277 pages.
A great medical memoir from a British Neurosurgeon. The stories highlight some of the differences between the British and American medical system and the differences in medical training in the two countries. Each chapter revolves around a specific case with a grim diagnosis, Pineocytoma, Ependymoma, and Medullablastoma for example. Marsh takes the reader through the case and tells what happened to the patient.
Well-written and sympathetic tales from a caring surgeon. Marsh does long for the day when as a surgeon he could get his way in the medical environment because he was the surgeon. There are many more layers of bureaucracy in British medicine now, and tantrums no longer have a positive outcome for the surgeon or the patient.
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Redeployment by Phil Klay

Redeployment by Phil Klay, 291 pages.
An excellent selection of short stories about U. S. soldiers and Marines, some serving in Iraq and some attempting to return to civilian life.
Each story in this collection is wonderful in its own way.
An added plus is the excellent list of books in the acknowledgements section Everything about this collection is very strongly recommended.
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Old Filth

Old Filth by Jane Gardam, 290 pages.
The first book in a trilogy following the life of Sir Edward Feathers, "Old Filth." The story, well-crafted and quietly moving, moves back and forth in time, starting with Feathers as an old retiree in the English countryside and jumping to his childhood. Seemingly happy when he was raised by Malay servants, young Feathers then became "an orphan of the Raj," wherein he (like many other children of colonial officials) was fostered out to a household in Britain, and endured a less prosaic upbringing.  The story skips back and forth. An engaging story. I am looking forward to reading the second book, The Man in the Wooden Hat.
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Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon

Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon
This relatively short book, the working title of which was Jews with Swords, is set in and around the year 950. Zelikman and Amram, two con-men and fighters have to make their way to Khazaria to save the rightful ruler. Lots of fun.
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