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June 2010 Book Challenge Thread - Page 2

post #21 of 86
#99 Num8ers by Rachel Ward
Boy, some of the reviews of this on Amazon were pretty tough -- I liked it -- and wept at the end -- which may or may not say more about my emotional state than the strength of the writing. Have others here read it?
post #22 of 86
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot -- From Goodreads: "Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years.... HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.

Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave."

I've known about HeLa cells for almost 20 years, but never really considered the details. This is an original piece of science writing in that Skloot inserts herself directly into the narrative; she brings you with her through her journey to find Lacks' family and convince them to talk to her. At first this was off-putting, but I kept reading, and in the end I appreciated the full disclosure. The science segments are well done and easy to understand (I think... I'm a science nerd, so perhaps I'm not the best judge!), but the chapters about Henrietta herself, and her family, are the real story.
post #23 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by nancy926 View Post
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot -- From Goodreads: "Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years.... HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.

Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave."

I've known about HeLa cells for almost 20 years, but never really considered the details. This is an original piece of science writing in that Skloot inserts herself directly into the narrative; she brings you with her through her journey to find Lacks' family and convince them to talk to her. At first this was off-putting, but I kept reading, and in the end I appreciated the full disclosure. The science segments are well done and easy to understand (I think... I'm a science nerd, so perhaps I'm not the best judge!), but the chapters about Henrietta herself, and her family, are the real story.
This is my #100 and I am definitely enjoying it! As a mostly non-science nerd, I agree that she writes well for laypeople -- though I'm also willing to admit that there may be some details that are just going over my head.
post #24 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by grapejuicemama View Post
#35 Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts

Loved it. Recommending it to everyone. A nice juicy almost 1000 page read, the kind you don't want to end. I was surprised it was an autobiography, b/c the story is so amazing, it's sort of hard to believe that someone who has been through all of that is also such a wonderful writer. The author escapes prison in Australia and ends up in India. He lives an interesting life there, living in the slums, hooking up with the mafia, etc. It was a wild ride. I heard the movie rights have been sold to Johnny Depp, I'm not sure a movie will be able to do the story justice.
So glad you read this! I read it a few years ago and recommended it to everyone I came across, but didn't have many takers. It's an excellent book~one I'm thinking about reading again once I'm over the fluff phase I'm in right now.

I think it's been stop and go for the movie production. We'll see what happens, but there's a LOT of story to cram into a two hour movie.[/QUOTE]

Yes, definitely a lot to cram into a two hour movie. I'm not sure it's possible It'd be interesting though. Maybe they could do it in two parts or something..... Have you checked out the author's website? I wanted to find out what had happened to him after the book, so googled him.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bufomander View Post
#95

I wasn't sure what I would think about Take Good Care of the Garden and the Dogs: Family, Friendships, and Faith in Small-Town Alaska (by Heather Lende). I believe I checked it out after it was recommended in a newsletter from our local bookstore. I definitely enjoyed it and I'm glad I chose it to start the challenge. It was good enough stuff that I want to share a few excerpts and ideas verbatim.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bufomander View Post
#99 Num8ers by Rachel Ward
Boy, some of the reviews of this on Amazon were pretty tough -- I liked it -- and wept at the end -- which may or may not say more about my emotional state than the strength of the writing. Have others here read it?
Oh, those both sound like fun! I like those quotes from the Alaska book.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nancy926 View Post
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot -- From Goodreads: "Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years.... HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.

Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave."

I've known about HeLa cells for almost 20 years, but never really considered the details. This is an original piece of science writing in that Skloot inserts herself directly into the narrative; she brings you with her through her journey to find Lacks' family and convince them to talk to her. At first this was off-putting, but I kept reading, and in the end I appreciated the full disclosure. The science segments are well done and easy to understand (I think... I'm a science nerd, so perhaps I'm not the best judge!), but the chapters about Henrietta herself, and her family, are the real story.
I'm definitely reading this one at some point. It's on my list!


I'm reading a few books right now. Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, Anne Lamott's new book Imperfect Birds, both really good. I'm trying to power through Girls Like Us about Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon, not sure I'm enjoying it though.....

I've made the goal to read all the books I had around my dresser before getting a bunch more from the library. Not doing too bad either! I have about 40-50 books that were stacked up on top of and under my dresser I cleaned them all off and stacked them in the closet to be accessed one by one, instead of cluttering up my room I'm trying really hard not to request new books, but having a hard time!
post #25 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by fremontmama View Post
I'm reading a few books right now. Nurture Shock by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman, Anne Lamott's new book Imperfect Birds, both really good. I'm trying to power through Girls Like Us about Carole King, Joni Mitchell and Carly Simon, not sure I'm enjoying it though.....

I've made the goal to read all the books I had around my dresser before getting a bunch more from the library. Not doing too bad either! I have about 40-50 books that were stacked up on top of and under my dresser I cleaned them all off and stacked them in the closet to be accessed one by one, instead of cluttering up my room I'm trying really hard not to request new books, but having a hard time!
Is the new Lamott fiction? I've found that I like her non-fiction way more than her fiction.

I love that, in this group, there are at least a few of us who find nothing odd in your last paragraph.
post #26 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bufomander View Post
Is the new Lamott fiction? I've found that I like her non-fiction way more than her fiction.

I love that, in this group, there are at least a few of us who find nothing odd in your last paragraph.
It is fiction. Imperfect Birds is a continuation of the story in Crooked Little Heart and Rosie. It's about when the little girl Rosie is a teenager, the summer before her senior year in high school. I actually like Lamott's fiction, but it feels almost like non-fiction, some of it seems so autobiographical....is that a word?

And yes, if there is any group of people to whom (who?) I could admit that I have 40 or 50 books stacked up in my bedroom, I figure this is it
post #27 of 86
i have fallen really hard for Jacqueline Woodson. when i get to hear her read one day, my palms will feel clammy and my heart will start to race, i will stutter and blush. i am completely crushed out. her writing makes me feel i could fly, it has so much heart.

on that note, i definitely recommend After Tupac and D Foster.

she is making me dream about having a class of students who love her, too. (N.B. if you are one who prays, add me to your list. oh, how i want a 6th grade class!)
post #28 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by bufomander View Post
is the new lamott fiction? I've found that i like her non-fiction way more than her fiction.
ita
post #29 of 86
37. The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier
38. Real Food by Nina Planck

The first one I really enjoyed and the second one was probably the most informative "what to eat" book I've ever read. I liked it better even than In Defense of Food.
post #30 of 86
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Erghese

I enjoyed this novel about twin boys born to an Indian nun in Ethopia. The father, a British surgeon, devasted when the mother dies in childbirth, flees the scene and the boys are brought up by other doctors in in the the hospital. I love the blend of learning more about the history, life, and revolution in Ethopia and medical issues they are facing. Very well done book.
post #31 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by kaliki_kila View Post
37. The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier
38. Real Food by Nina Planck

The first one I really enjoyed and the second one was probably the most informative "what to eat" book I've ever read. I liked it better even than In Defense of Food.
Real Food is very much my re-read list.
post #32 of 86
16. By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder, 5th book in the series (skipped #4)
- keeps the story going…

17. The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell
- not that great. a bit too simple, not much depth, haven’t read any of her other books so not sure how it compares, but I wasn’t impressed.
post #33 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bufomander View Post
Real Food is very much my re-read list.
Yeah, I already want to re-read it because I find myself standing in the grocery store going, "Ok, what kind of olive oil am I supposed to buy again?" I need a cheat sheet or something!
post #34 of 86
I have really been enjoying all 4 books from the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning http://www.karenmoning.com/novels/
#1.Darkfever
#2. Bloodfever
#3. Faefever
#4. Dreamfever
The basic story is: Mackayla Lane is a southern belle. Her older sister has been murdered while studying in Dublin Ireland and the case remains unsolved. MacKayla leaves rural Georgia where she has lived all her life to Dublin see if she can help shed light on the case, but stumbles upon a very complex battle going on between faeries and humans, good and evil which could destroy the entire world. The stories are very suspenseful. You are compelled to keep reading to find out what will happen next, and when you are not reading, you keep thinking about the characters and the story wondering about what is happening and what might happen next. The last and final book does not come out until December! The violence and sex are not overly graphic (less than in the Sookie Stackhouse books), although there is more of both in the 4th book. My only critic is the leading character, Mackayla Lane, is so annoying and unlikeable in the beginning, (going on and on about her different shades of pink nail polish) that sometimes it was hard to really believe that her character can change so much in such a short time.
If you like Urban fantasy I can really recommend them.
post #35 of 86
Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin

An autistic 12-year-old narrates this middle-grade novel about his experiences at school and is dream to become a writer. Very well done.
post #36 of 86
The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman

I choose this book to review because I collect cookbooks and because the novel was compared to Jane Austen's work, which I love. Well, I had a bad feeling right at the beginning when the main characters were introduced with complete physical descriptions as well as analysis of their personalities and their backstories . . . I guess the author is not a believer of 'show, not tell'. I forced myself to read on, hoping that the story would draw me in, but after 200 pages, we were still meeting characters and getting breakdowns of their personalities and history. Just give us the story for goodness sake, and let the reader get to know the characters through their actions and choices. Ug! Anyway, as I paged through the rest of the book, I didn't seem much hope for improvement so I'm giving up on this one. Wish I could have the last few hours back.
post #37 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by kaliki_kila View Post
Yeah, I already want to re-read it because I find myself standing in the grocery store going, "Ok, what kind of olive oil am I supposed to buy again?" I need a cheat sheet or something!
exactly -- or "wait, everyone and their brother are telling me that fat is bad -- What did Nina Planck say again?"

Quote:
Originally Posted by cathe View Post
Anything but Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin

An autistic 12-year-old narrates this middle-grade novel about his experiences at school and is dream to become a writer. Very well done.
I liked this one too!
post #38 of 86
#101 Making Toast by Roger Rosenblatt
Rosenblatt's daughter dies very suddenly, leaving three children and a husband behind. Rosenblatt and his wife move in with their SIL and grandchildren. A memoir about the first year or so.

#102 Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone
Read this with my 6 yo dd. We now want to visit the Chicago Art Institute next time we take the train home to Indiana! I have vague memories of seeing the miniature Thorne Rooms before, but would be much more interested in them now.
post #39 of 86
The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I'm loving this book!

Starred Review. What perfect timing for this optimistic, uplifting debut novel (and maiden publication of Amy Einhorn's new imprint) set during the nascent civil rights movement in Jackson, Miss., where black women were trusted to raise white children but not to polish the household silver. Eugenia Skeeter Phelan is just home from college in 1962, and, anxious to become a writer, is advised to hone her chops by writing about what disturbs you. The budding social activist begins to collect the stories of the black women on whom the country club sets relies and mistrusts enlisting the help of Aibileen, a maid who's raised 17 children, and Aibileen's best friend Minny, who's found herself unemployed more than a few times after mouthing off to her white employers. The book Skeeter puts together based on their stories is scathing and shocking, bringing pride and hope to the black community, while giving Skeeter the courage to break down her personal boundaries and pursue her dreams. Assured and layered, full of heart and history, this one has bestseller written all over it. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
post #40 of 86
I'd like to read the Henrietta Lack book! Between the comments here and a review I read, it sounds like a fascinating read.

#31 - Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

This was interesting. I wasn't sure it was 'my thing' as I was reading it, but it was definitely a page-turner. It's narrated by a woman in her early thirties, who looks back at her life growing up at an exclusive boarding school, and a pair of friendships she made there. Right from the start, there are references to her being a 'carer' for 'donors', including ones whom she meets who also attended the same school - essentially they are all being raised in order to donate their vital organs as adults. I thought Ishiguro made some interesting choices in telling the story, including the narrative style and the focus on the character's close relationships rather than the societal big picture.

#32 - Jane and Prudence by Barbara Pym

Very well-written and enjoyable novel about two friends, one of whom is married to a village vicar and one of whom is 29 and single. She's a lovely writer!
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