Monday, October 05, 2009

September Reading Round Up | Blogosphere Book Circle BotM

Smallpox, syphilis and salvation : medical breakthroughs that changed the world / Sheryl Persson.
Since ancient times the search for cures for the great scourges that have afflicted humankind has been an ongoing quest, but it is only within the last 200 years that major breakthroughs have occurred and the development of modern medicine has accelerated. The stories behind these miraculous cures are those of intense rivalries and jealousies, bitter public humiliation, unswerving dedication, subterfuge, and great personal struggles. Often these medical advances have truly changed the world.~from the blurb
I've always been interested in disease and health so I enjoyed this book. It's easy to read and follows a similar format for all the different diseases covered. Very informative. The dedication and resolve of some of the researchers to finding and developing vaccines to diseases that were once real scourges is impressive.

The taint of Midas / Anne Zouroudi.
For over half a century the beautiful, ruined Temple of Apollo has been in the care of the old beekeeper Gabrilis. But when the value of the land soars, he is persuaded through unscrupulous means to sign away his interests - and hours later he meets a violent, lonely death. When Hermes Diaktoros finds his friend's battered body by a dusty roadside, the police quickly make him the prime suspect. But with rapacious developers threatening Arcadia's most ancient sites, there are many who stand to gain from Gabrilis's death. Hermes resolves to avenge his old friend and find the true culprit, but his methods are, as ever, unorthodox.~from the blurb
Think I've discovered a new crime series that I'll enjoy perusing! Yay - love it when that happens. And I am tickled that I'm reading an author who's last name starts with Z. Yes, I'm weird that way.

Skeletons at the feast : a novel / Chris Bohjalian.
As Hitler's Third Reich crumbles, an aristocratic Prussian woman and her child flee west away from the approaching Russian army. Eventually they form an unlikely alliance with a Jewish man escaping from the concentration camps.~from the blurb
Oooo - really liked this one. Especially since I read a non-fiction book about the time that this book is set in. Engrossing. Some sad bits though.

The next thing on my list : a novel / Jill Smolinski.
June Parker's life is meandering along until a freak car accident leaves Marissa, her 24-year-old passenger, dead and June wracked with guilt. June discovers a list Marissa had been keeping of 25 things she wanted to do by the time she turned 25. After a run-in with Marissa's brother, June resolves to complete the list. Kissing a total stranger and throwing away her scale prove far easier than pitching an idea at work or changing someone's life. But June approaches the list with aplomb, daring to speak up about being passed over for a manager position, and becoming a Big Sister to a quiet, studious Latina teen named DeeDee. But when June uncovers a secret of DeeDee's, she realizes changing someone else's life might involve changing her own as well.!from the blurb
Heh - chick lit, what can I say. I put it down half way through to read another book and then picked it up again. A bit of froth.

Portrait of an unknown woman / Vanora Bennett.
Passion, painting and politics in sixteenth-century England. The year is 1526. Hans Holbein the Younger is at the beginning of his remarkable career when he travels to England under the patronage of Sir Thomas More. His arrival brings the Renaissance in painting from Europe to Britain. As a guest in the splendid More household in Chelsea, Holbein begins to paint their first family portrait. The great household of the courtier and scholar, Sir Thomas More, was famous for its liveliness and learning. Two people visiting the great house find themselves irresistibly drawn to Meg Giggs, one of More's foster daughters. One of them is John Clements - dark, tall, elegant - an erstwhile tutor, now practising to become a medical doctor; a man of compelling presence and mysterious background. The other is Holbein himself - warm, ebullient, radical and foreign - sent by the great Erasmus to paint the More family portraits. Meg will find herself powerfully drawn to these two wildly contrasting men. She will love one, and marry the other.The two Holbein family portraits frame this remarkable story with its background of love, family, and of religious and political turmoil.~from the blurb
This is a great book. I've said it before, but if you like Phillipa Gregory, then Vanora Bennett writes similarly. I liked the picture she paints of what is behind some of Holbein's famous painting.

How many planes to get me? / Jonquil Graham.
Heartwarming tale of a family in Golden Bay who adopted nine children, five from Eastern Europe, and fostered many others. This tells the story of adoption, shows the tragedy of children without families and the difference that true parenting makes to both the children and parents.~from the blurb
You can't help but admire these folks and the way they've opened their house and hearts to children who needed a family. (Almost makes me want to adopt, but we don't really fit the criteria for most countries that do inter-country adoption - DH sighs in relief).

Behind closed doors : a startling story of an Exclusive Brethren life / Ngaire Thomas.
A biography of a woman and her family and their expulsion from the EB church, their struggles and subsequent recovery. Very interesting read for me - I had several EB friends at school during some of the era this book is set in and I remember stuff happening that puzzled me at the time.

Echo in the bone / Diana Gabaldon
As battle-scarred Jamie Fraser and his twentieth-century time-travelling wife Claire Randall flee from North Carolina to the high seas during the American Revolution, they encounter privateers and ocean battles. Meanwhile in the relative safety of the 20th century Brianna (Claire and Jamie's daughter) and Roger MacKenzie, Brianna's husband, search for clues not only to Claire's fate--but to their own fate in the Highlands.
I have been waiting for this book to come out so was peeved with Whitcoulls at Westcity who had sold out of their stock by the time I got there. (They had a whole stand full of unsold Dan Brown's book though - maybe they need better market researchers for that store?) The Warehouse had a sign up saying they'd sold out too, but when I asked they remembered a new box of them had arrived that morning so I got my copy. Yay me! Anyway, as always I found myself absorbed by the story and found it hard to let go to do other more "important" things. There is quite a lot "stuff" happening in this story and you need to concentrate to keep things in your mind. Some things get cleared up, and the story moves along at a rapid pace. But... if you're a Jamie/Claire fan be Warned! There are some major cliff hangers in the last few pages. DH watched in puzzlement as his crazy wife had a tanty at 11.00pm Thrusday night when I finished the book and realised they weren't going to be resolved until the next book. If you don't deal well with waiting I'd say you'd better put off reading Echo until Gabaldon has made a substantial start on book 8. Because my fingernails are already suffering.

September's Book Circle Book of the Month

Beautiful boy : a father's journey through his son's addiction / David Sheff.
Before meth, Sheff's son Nic was a varsity athlete, honor student, and award-winning journalist. After meth, he was a trembling wraith who stole money from his eight-year-old brother and lived on the streets. With haunting candour, Sheff traces the first subtle warning signs, the denial (by both child and parents), the 3 a.m. phone calls (is it Nic? the police? the hospital?), the attempts at rehab, and, at last, the way past addiction. He shows us that, whatever an addict's fate, the rest of the family must care for each other too, lest they become addicted to addiction. Meth is the fastest-growing drug in the United States, as well as the most addictive and the most dangerous - wreaking permanent brain damage faster than any other readily available drug. It has invaded every region and demographic in America. This book is the first that treats meth and its impact in depth. But it is not just about meth. Nic's addiction has wrought the same damage that any addiction will wreak. His story, and his father's, are those of any family that contains an addict - and one in three American families does.~from the blurb

Meth (or P, as it's called here) is something I've kind of heard of, but from the media rather than in this form - an autobiography of a family dealing with it. Like Mel, I identified with the Dad and found it hard to understand the choices that the son makes. It makes for gruelling reading in one sense but what kept me going was the perserverance of the rest of the family to support each other and the addict.


  1. I'm so impressed with your ability to get through books. I've always considered myself a voracious reader, but I can hardly finish a novel a month lately...

  2. Hi Penny :)

    Yay, I love this time of month!

    I'm like you re the disease and cure thing, esp. as I worked for a diagnostic medical laboratory (but in HR) for years. Will definitely be adding this one to my list.

    Also will be adding "Skeletons at the Feast" to my list. Sounds like my sort of book.

    I found a new crime writer last week too - Stuart MacBride. Am just reading my first of his at the moment. A wee bit gory, but a real page turner and quite humorous at the same time.

    There's nothing like a good Scottish murder - hee hee!

  3. Those books all sound very interesting. I'm always impressed at how you type out the blurb of eachbook

  4. Love reading your reviews- you've definitely spurred me on to read more. This month I possibly read as many books as you - a year ago I was only reading one a month. I've always loved reading but over the past few years hadn't prioritised it - thanks for reminding me that it's important to me!