A certain kinship

patUnderstanding Pat Conroy by Catherine Seltzer; 2015; $21.95; 137 pages; University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC; 978-1-61117-546-2; purchased from Amazon.com; 5/7/15-5/8/15

Why did I read this?  Because ever since I read Great Santini (many times) I have been a fan of Pat Conroy.  I have read and reread most of his books and after reading this I am going to re-read them again.

What is the story?  This is a critical look at Conroy’s work and the themes that run through them.  There is a short biography of Pat Conroy and then each following chapter is about one of his books.  Each chapter looks at the influences that show in the book, the back drop against which it was written and how certain themes are expressed in each book and every book.  The Death of Santini, which I believe came out just before this was published is briefly mentioned.  The Boo, The Pat Conroy Cookbook and My Reading Life are not closely examined but are mentioned.  It was an interesting look behind the curtain at my favorite author.  Sometimes this kind of book destroys my desire to reread books but this has whetted my desire to read Conroy’s books.

Grade A

Did I enjoy it?  Yes, some of it I had already determined from reading the books multiple times but other things were a-ha moments that made me want to reread the books.

What is with the title of the review?  Pat Conroy grew up the son of a Marine Officer moving many times.  I grew up the son of a Naval Officer moving many times.  There are certain themes in his works that resonate strongly with me.


from Mental Floss to the last paragraph

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green; 2012; $17.99; 318 pages; Dutton Books, New York, NY; 978-0-525-47881-2; YA Fiction; purchased from Multnomah County Library Title Wave Used Bookstore; 4/10/14-4/14/14

Hazel has been fighting cancer for several years and watching her support group change as others pass on and new diagnosis join the group.  One day a friend of hers brings another friend to group and he changes Hazels’ life.  Augustus Waters is a jock who talks like Pat Conroy writes and has lost a leg in his own battle.  Hazel introduces Augustus to the most important book in her life, An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten and then they both are obsessed with the book and what happens to the characters in the book after the book ends, (something I have often wondered myself and written the sequel in my head.)  Augustus manages to make contact with the author and uses his cancer wish to get he and Hazel a trip to meet Mr. Van Houten, a trip that is more and less than either Hazel or Augustus imagined it would be.  The trip is the coda to the penultimate measure of their young lives.

Did I like it?  Yes, it was well written with characters that it was easy to empathize with, all but one, but eventually even with that one.  I am looking forward to reading more of John Greens’ books.


What is with the title of the review?  I have been watching John Green do Mental Floss list shows for a couple of years and I heard good things about TFOS and I finally put it together that the John Green I was watching was also the author of TFOS and other books.  The last paragraph of this moved me as much as the first chapter of Yellow Birds.  I have reread the final paragraph of this as many as read the first chapter of Yellow Birds.



My Fave Reads of 2013

In 2013 out of the 137 books I finished I gave 9 books A+.  Those are obviously the best books I read this year.  Here they are in order to my favorite of 2013.  Title links to my review, author links to their website.

Honorable Mention

Southern League by Larry Colton/The Amish Seamstress by Mindy Starns Clark & Leslie Gould/Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan.

9. everyday by David Levithan, what if a soul moved from body to body with no regard to gender or age or place, everyday was new and different but you were the same.  A soul is a soul.  excellent read

8. OK for now by Gary Schmidt, I felt for the main character as I could relate to moving alot and being without friends and slowly making them only to move again.  Gary Schmidt really knows how to write bad fathers.

7. Songs of Willow Frost by Jamie Ford, a bitter and sweet tale of a young Chinese boy and his mother set in Depression Era Seattle.

6.  Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight by Howard Bingham and Max Wallace, Muhammad Ali has been one of my heroes since he came on the scene.  This details his country’s attempt to punish him for his religious beliefs and abuse him because of racism and politics.

5.  The First Dragon, Book 7 in The Chronicles of the Imaganarium Geographica by James A. Owen, the final book in the Chronicles was exciting and tied up several things and was a bittersweet end to a series that I really enjoyed and got into.  I try to recommend this series to someone at least once a week.

4.  The Death of Santini by Pat Conroy, I have been anxiously awaiting this memoir (but heck I anxiously await every Pat Conroy book) for a couple of years.  Pat Conroy details the last years of his father’s life after the book and movie The Great Santini were released.  A moving and touching account of some familial reconciliation.

3.  My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor, this memoir by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was a revealing look at where she came from and what drove her to get where she is.  Well written and easy to read My Beloved World is the Everybody Reads book for Multnomah County in 2014.

2.  The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis, The story of Hattie told over 60 years or so through the lives of her children.  An original story that really touched me, I usually don’t like stories told in multiple voices but this one really engaged me.

1.  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, when I finished this I stepped away from the book and then came back to it after awhile and just the sight of the book moved me.  Even now typing this 4 months after reading it is unleashing a flood of emotions.  I will come back to this again.  A story of an orphaned girl, her adoptive parents, and friends during World War II has one of the most compassionate narrators ever and you couldn’t guess who it is.

I read my top three books in August so the books surrounding them probably suffered a little in comparison. I actually read a Sunset magazine after reading The Book Thief as a palate cleanser before I read anything else.

I hope that I can read more great books this next year.  I am looking forward to new books from many of my favorite authors again and hopefully I can discover some great new authors.


change is inevitable, but we don’t know which direction it will take

The Death of Santini, The Story of a Father and His Son by Pat Conroy; 2013; $28.95; 338 pages; 978-0-385-53090-3; bound galley purchased on eBay; 10/10-10/12

Why did I pick this up?  Because I have read everything else that Pat Conroy has written and I was particularly interested in this book since it detailed the relationship between a military father and his family.

What is the story?  Pat Conroy has fictionalized his and his family’s lives in many of his books, Prince of Tides, Beach Music and The Great Santini among others.  The Great Santini detailed the life of a Marine fighter pilot and his family.  The phrases that stick with me the most from The Great Santini which were used to describe Bull Meacham, The Great Santini, are “he was a warrior with out a war” and “he had succumbed to the mythology of the military”.  Bull was  a man who had no idea had to express love to his family.  Bull was closely modeled on Donald Conroy, Pat’s father.  In his previous memoir, My Losing Season, Pat revealed that he toned his father down for the book.  At the premiere of the movie The Great Santini, one of Pat’s brother said that the portrayal of Santini by Robert Duvall was like Bambi compared to their father.  The Death of Santini, contains family history of the Conroys and traces the changes that Donald Conroy and the rest of the family went through in the time between the release of the book and the deaths of the Conroy parents.

Did I like it?  Yes, Pat Conroy has the rare ability to fill the canvas of my mind with his words and make things come alive.  I laughed and I cried.  I was moved and I was horrified.  If there was one author I could meet and talk with, Pat Conroy is the one.  I have gone along with him through the many moves of a military brat, I have been in the company of men who have succumbed to the mythology of the military.  Men who believe that since the military has given them the power to order people around that that same power extends to their family.  Men who believe that since their charges have to do things certain ways that their families do also.


What is with the title of the review?  After the publication of the book, many members of Pat Conroys extended family wouldn’t even talk to him.  His biggest defender became his father and his father changed after the publication of the book.  Change was inevitable but who knew which way his father would move closer or withdraw.

2012 by the numbers

I read 137 books this year.  I am in the middle of one, but I don’t believe I will finish it before New Years Eve.  I graded all but one book I read this year.  So here are some numbers.

Grades: first the grade, number of books that got the grade and percentage of the total.

A-103/75%;B-20/14%;C-10/7%; D-3/2%; no grade-1/1%

I read 30 books by authors that attended Wordstock this year.  I met 21 authors at Wordstock.  I renewed my friendship with Larry Colton at Wordstock.

I read 4 books by friends that I have known for years.  Hi Leslie and Pam.

I read multiple books by 8 authors.  James A. Owen, Leslie Gould, Jim Butcher, James Rollins, Cat Patrick, Katie Kacvinsky, Joelle Anthony and Gary Thomas.

I re read two books this year; Lords of Discipline by Pat Conroy and Sacred Marriage by Gary L. Thomas (which I read for the 8th time).

I read 3 books by former Olympians; Jerry West, Bill Russell, and Alberto Salazar

I read 2 books by Hall of Famers; see above

I read 10 books while on my reading vacation.

I mutilated one book to read it, The Autobiography of Mark Twain.

I read 129% more books in 2012 than I did in 2011.