Tag Archives: 3 Stars

The Diary of “Helena Morley” by Helena Morley

Helena Morley, born in 1880, kept a very detailed diary from 1893 until 1895 when she was an early teen growing up in Brazil. It was originally published in Portuguese and then later translated into English. It’s an interesting glimpse into the life of a young teen. There are numerous footnotes explaining words that weren’t translated, who people and places are, and anything else to aid in understanding her diary. The translator always wrote I and Anotherperson instead of Anotherperson and I and that pretty much drove me crazy while reading it. If you are looking for a translated book to read, this is a good enough choice.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 114
Pages Read in 2019: 29,583
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Filed under Memoir, Reason: LitHub Bingo

Aztec Curse by EM Stone

Aztec Curse was kind of a frustrating book to read. The storyline was great. I loved the chapters that went back in time. I loved how the translation of the Codex went along with the story told in those chapters. But the dialogue. It didn’t sound at all like normal conversation. There was a lot of monologuing to explain things and sometimes it didn’t make any sense. For example, explaining archaeology-related things to her father who is also an archaeologist. The sex scene was sudden and weird and not necessary. I suspect it was stuck in there as a plot device to allow the main character to see another character shirtless. There are other ways to get a man shirtless and it really didn’t totally fit the characters to do it how the author chose. It was extremely gory in places. Often overly so. There was a lot of extra stuff that was totally unnecessary. I suppose those scenes helped with character development, but they didn’t move the story along and could have easily been cut. The wrap-up chapter was ridiculously full of monologuing that just recapped in detail what happened in the previous few chapters. It was like the author wanted the other characters to find out what happened and forgot it is boring to go over something the readers already know. The way the main character guessed what was in the Codex was often a huge stretch. Of course she was always exactly right (as proven by the chapters from the past). I did care about most of the characters and what happened to them. As I got near the end I wasn’t sure how the author would possibly be able to wrap it all up in such a short time (she did, and very well other than the recap at the very end). So this was a good book, but it had very definite issues. I almost feel like a bit of its potential was wasted.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 110
Pages Read in 2019: 28,510
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Filed under Reason: LitHub Bingo, Thriller

The Witch of Lime Street by David Jaher

The spiritist movement swept the US and Europe after World War I prompting Scientific American to test mediums to determine if they were the real thing or just performing magic tricks (Houdini was on the committee because he would be very likely to recognize tricks when he saw them). One woman, Margery, seemed promising. That is until Houdini unmasked her as no more authentic than any of the others they had tested. Parts of the book are very fascinating and parts are utterly dull. It’s drawn largely from transcripts of seances, most of which went pretty much the same with minor differences in the details. Because of this, the book is extraordinarily repetitive. If you are very interested in the spiritist movement, The Witch of Lime Street is a decent book to read. You just might want to skim during the boring, repetitive parts.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 107
Pages Read in 2019: 27,276
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Filed under Non-Fiction, Reason: LitHub Bingo

The Recipe Club by Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel

The Recipe Club is mostly told through letters which is an interesting way to write a book. It begins in 2000, jumps back to the 60s, moves through several years, and then jumps forward to 2002. The major plot is interesting enough that I wanted to find out what the thing that happened was. But the characters. Wow. If the authors tried to create the most unlikable, obnoxious, self-absorbed, whiny, irritating, and dysfunctional characters they possibly could, they succeeded very well in that goal. There was just so much whining, so much “please don’t be mad at me,” so much angst. On the bright side, many of the letters included actual recipes and quite a few of them sounded pretty good. I don’t particularly recommend spending the time it takes to read this book.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 92
Pages Read in 2019: 23,475
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Filed under Realistic Fiction, Reason: LitHub Bingo

Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality by Thomas Sowell

We all know the sound bites of claims about the Civil Rights Movement. Thomas Sowell in Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality explains some statistics that refute many of those claims. He lays out his argument pretty well and makes sense most of the time. The epilogue is quite whiny complaining about people misrepresenting his work and sometimes I felt like he was trying to use as many big words as he could to show how awesome and smart he is. Overall, the book is decent and worth reading. There is clear bias making it a good book for high schoolers learning about the Civil Rights era to read and use as an exercise in critical thinking to determine which arguments are valid and which might be logic leaps.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 76
Pages Read in 2019: 20,563
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Filed under Non-Fiction

Start-up Nation by Dan Senor and Saul Singer

Start-up Nation attempts to determine why Israel has more start-ups per capita that anyone else. I don’t think the authors truly answered the question other than, possibly, mandatory service in the military and the networking and skills that come with that. They tended to ramble and repeated themselves a lot. It really boiled down to Israel is amazing and can do pretty much nothing wrong, Arab nations surrounding Israel do basically nothing right, and military service (and maybe immigration, though that argument was poorly made) works. I only recommend reading this book if you truly feel the need. It’s not really worth the time.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 73
Pages Read in 2019: 19,873
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Filed under Non-Fiction, Reason: Pre-Reading for Cameron

Clouds Tumble Down by Daniel Pericich

Clouds Tumble Down is the fictionalized true story of Sara, a friend of the author. Both her brother and new/potential boyfriend were killed in car accidents and then she moved from a city to a tiny town. The book is the story of a very difficult year or so. Parts were good, but most of the time I just didn’t like Sara. She had been dealt a rough hand, but even when good things happened, she acted like a spoiled brat. I didn’t find it to be that great of a portrayal of mental health issues, mainly because she was so unlikable. It also really needs an editor for the many grammar, usage, and mechanics issues. It’s worth reading if you really want to, mainly because it’s so short, but I’d skip it if given the chance again.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 63
Pages Read in 2019: 16,906
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Filed under Realistic Fiction, Reason: Asked by the Author, Reason: LitHub Bingo