Reading List 2017-Part 5

41. The True Story of Hansel and Gretel—Louise Murphy

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A story of two Jewish children, trying to survive in Nazi-occupied Poland. Their parents tell them to go by the names Hansel and Gretel when they find someone who will help them, in the hopes that they will pass as Polish children.
The book isn’t necessarily graphic, but more just blunt. It’s like a film that shows the violence not in a gratuitous manner, but in a “like it or not, this is what happened” manner. There are parts which are definitely hard to read, mostly because they’re things that, while written here happening to fictional characters, really did happen to people during the war. And some of the most disturbing parts are when the Polish villagers are mutilating their own children to avoid having those who look Aryan taken by the Nazis to be raised as good German citizens. It makes you wonder how far you would go to protect someone you love.

42. The Unseeing—Anna Mazzola

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The Kirkus Review on the back of the book says, “Satisfying…Haunting characters propel this well-paced story of true crime and imperfect punishment.”
It’s a good description of the book. It isn’t really a pleasant read (I need to find more pleasant reads…I’ve been reading pretty dark books lately), but it is interesting and a satisfying read. One where you understand the characters, and see where each of them goes.
The book is based on a real crime, and contains real newspaper clippings from the case. But there really isn’t a lot known about the case, and the actual people who were involved. So the author took artistic license, and explored the reasons that an accused woman may keep quiet even in the face of possible death.

43. The Happy Prince and Other Stories—Oscar Wilde—Audiobook

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A collection of short stories from Wilde. My takeaway was that Wilde is not a fan of birds. He sure does have a lot of them die in his stories. He’s also not a big fan of love…Seems like those who love get a pretty raw deal in his stories. But I guess that’s sort of true to life…

44. The Angel of the Odd—Edgar Allen Poe—Audiobook

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To be honest, I listened to this, and promptly forgot what it was about. The reader wasn’t very good, and the story just didn’t make sense. I think maybe I should try a different version. I think this one was Librivox, and some of those are good, and some aren’t so great.

45. The Hobbit—JRR Tolkien—Audiobook

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It’s been a while since I last read The Hobbit. Since then, the movies have come out, and they were a huge disappointment. But I decided to reread the book despite that, and I was glad I did.
I love the fact that Tolkien can write a fairly serious book, and then throw in things like the way that golf was invented, and various sayings that make you stop and say, “Wait…what?”, and laugh out loud.

46. The Bro Code—Barney Stinson and Matt Kuhn

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Exactly what you would expect it to be, if you’ve ever seen How I Met Your Mother. Ridiculously sexist. But I got the book from Goodwill for my sister, and figured I’d read it. Probably wouldn’t ever read it again.

47. The Orphan’s Tale—Pam Jenoff

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This one came in at the library, and my Mom and I couldn’t remember which of us ordered it. I read it first, and it was very good.
Another WWII book, but this one is based around people working with the circus during the war. It was such a different take on the time period, and was pretty accurate, according the the end notes. There are violent and sad parts, as with any war book, but those aren’t the focus of the story.

48. Dragonflight—Anne McCaffrey—Audiobook

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My Dad told me years ago that I would love the second trilogy, and I simply could not, at the time, get into them. But maybe I just needed to start with this one. Or be a little older? Who knows.
Anyway, I didn’t realize until just before reading it that it is not only fantasy, but a fantasy/sci-fi mashup. Dragons, time travel, adventure, and a little romance. It’s a good book, and I am going to be reading the rest soon.

49. On Writing—Stephen King

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I agree with a lot of Stephen King’s comments on writing. Things like, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time (or the tools) to write.”
But I definitely don’t agree with all of his ‘my way or the highway’ type comments.
And there was way too much swearing in the book. It’s funny, because he even says that he thinks swearing is a sign of a limited vocabulary. But there is so much swearing in the book. I don’t really understand why memoirs are full of swearing anymore. If you’re using it to show how conversations with a certain person went, that’s one thing. But if you’re just throwing it into the general narration part of the book, it seems to be pointless. And obnoxious.

50. The Dressmaker—Kate Alcott

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So, I got this book accidentally. I thought I was getting a book with the same title, but a totally different story. I chose the wrong author when I ordered the book from the library though.
I discovered my mistake when, within the first chapter, characters were getting on the Titanic instead of returning home to a small town in Australia (I have the correct book ordered now, so that will be on the list soon…).
I have read a number of books about the Titanic. It’s an interesting period. And this one was a very different storyline than many.
The Dressmaker is about a woman who hires on as a maid just before the Titanic leaves port. Her boss is a dress designer who believes it is more important to be a natty dresser than it is to help other people. I didn’t realize it was based on a true story until the end of the book. The boss is a real woman, who was accused of saving herself at the expense of others when the ship went down. She and her husband were even put on trial for it. There was artistic license taken, of course, but it was a well-written book. Especially if you’re interested in that time period.

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