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Sunday Salon: Books Read in October, 2009

The Sunday Salon.comChildren of God by Mary Doria Russell. In this sequel to Russell’s The Sparrow, ex-priest Emilio Sandoz continues to work out his salvation in fear and trembling as the fate of two cultures hangs in the balance.

Gateway by Frederick Pohl. Not recommended. Although both of Mary Russell’s sci/fi books (see above) have explicit sexual content that may make some readers uncomfortable, I thought it was both tastefully written and integral to the plot and theme of the novels. I can’t say the same for Gateway. The sexual content in this book was annoying and gratuitous, and the ending was forced and trying too hard to be philosophical and psychological at the same time. I was already nine-tenths of the way through the book when I realized that I didn’t like the story or the characters, but by then I did want to know what happened. I wish I had skipped the whole thing. For what it’s worth this one is supposed to be a classic in the genre.

A Thread of Grace by Mary Dorie Russell. Not science fiction. Not as good as The Sparrow or Children of God. However, this novel set in Northern Italy during the last year of World War II does have its moments. Either I was distracted or the changes in place and point of view are confusing. I had trouble keeping straight the various story lines and characters and events. The book did give me a perspective on World War II and The Holocaust that I hadn’t known before: I learned that many Jews and other fugitives fled Southern France and other places as it began to look as if the Germans would lose the war. Many of these fugitives came to Italy because Southern Italy had already surrendered to the Allies. Unfortunately the Fascists and their German allies remained in power in Northern Italy for another year while the Allies made their way slowly and painfully up the Italian peninsula. The Italians formed partisan resistance groups, hid many of the Jews and other on the German blacklist, and endured the German occupation as best they could —hanging on to a thread of grace.

The Texan Scouts by Joseph Altsheler. Semicolon review here.

Unsigned Hype by Booker T. Mattison. Semicolon review here.

Luke and the Van Zandt County War by Judith MacBain Alter. Semicolon review here.

West Oversea by Lars Walker.

The Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg. Semicolon review here.

Cybils Reading:

Also Known as Harper by Ann Haywood Leal. Semicolon review here.

Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin. Semicolon review here.

The Year the Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice. Semicolon review here.

The Beef Princess of Practical County by Michelle Houts. Semicolon review here.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. Semicolon review here.

Any Which Wall by Laurel Snyder. Semicolon review here.

Mudville by Kurtis Scaletta. Semicolon review here.

The Girl Who Threw Butterflies by Mick Cochrane. Semicolon review here.

Models Don’t Eat Chocolate Cookies by Erin Dionne. Semicolon review here.

Neil Armstrong is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me by Nan Marino. Bratty kid learns to say “thank you” but not much else. I didn’t care for this one much, but others may sympathize with the main character who is admittedly sort of a lost, neglected child in a dysfunctional family.

Sahwira: An African Friendship by Carolyn Marsden.

Carolina Harmony by Marilyn Taylor McDowell.

Tropical Secrets: Holocaust Refugees in Cuba by Margarita Engle. Semicolon review here.

My Life in Pink and Green by Lisa Greenwald. Semicolon review here.

The Kind of Friends We Used To Be by Frances O’Roark Dowell. Semicolon review here.

All the Broken Pieces by An E. Burg. Semicolon review here.

The Brooklyn Nine by Alan Gratz.

The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick.

Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson.

The Dunderheads by Paul Fleischman. Semicolon review here.

The Problem With the Puddles by Kate Feiffer. Semicolon review here.

Dessert First by Hallie Durand. Semicolon review here.

Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur. Betsy-Bee and I discuss Love, Aubrey.

Anna’s World by Wim Coleman and Pat Perrin. Semicolon review here.

Wanting Mor by Rukhsana Khan. Semicolon review here.

Callie’s Rules by Naomi Zucker. Semicolon review here.

Leaving the Bellweathers by Kristin Clark Venuti.

Lincoln and His Boys by Rosemary Wells. Semicolon review here.

2 Comments

  • Heather J. says:

    So, did you like The Sparrow or Children of God better? Personally I liked the 2nd book better (still loved the 1st!) but most people seem to like the first one better. And I agree about the confusion in Thread of Grace – I think it was an amazing book but it was definitely a challenging read.

  • Sherry says:

    I really think I’m with the majority. The Sparrow was just so surprising to me. I didn’t expect such a powerful story, and I didn’t expect the “thread of grace” that runs through it.

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