What are you reading the week of May 13, 2017?
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Not much time to read this week. Still working on All the Kremlin's Men. So, I managed to read half of a book, but I bought four books this week. A larger income than outflow is good for a bank account, but not so good for colons and TBR piles. :-)
I'm almost 100 pages into Another Country by James Baldwin. I find it fascinating and disturbing. The elegance of his prose style is like catnip for me!
I finished Bruce Springsteen's recent autobiography, Born to Run, last week. Springsteen is a cultural and artistic hero of mine, so I knew I would get to his book sooner rather than later. All in all, I found it flawed but still very interesting and worth reading. My more in-depth comments can be found on the book's work page and on my 50-Book Challenge thread.
I'm now about 3/4 of the way through the very entertaining Razor Girl by Carl Hiaasen.
I've been reading The Shadow of the Wind for a week now, and am still only 300 pages into the huge book. I've been avoiding reading as I have discovered that I really don't care about what happens to any of the characters. I don't know what it is about Spanish and Latin American magical realism; I simply can't sustain the interest necessary to finish the book.
I think I'm going to read another Kate Morton book, but I haven't entirely decided.
Finished Shadows of the Workhouse by Jennifer Worth, the second installment of the Call the Midwife series. Very interesting and informative about life in the impoverished East End of London in the 1950s, but took me a while to finish.
I haven't decided what is next. I have on my kindle Born a Crime, The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley, and The Girl in the Red Coat.
I'm still reading A Year at the Races by Jane Smiley. I've used my page flags a few times.
Please don't give up on "Shadow." It's such an original imaginative novel, a Russian matryoshka of a book within a book within a book. To encourage you to go on, think of it as a political metaphor. From my review:
The reader who is in the least bit familiar with Spanish history will recognize the symbolism of Daniel’s journey in pursuit of the free-spirited yet tragic Julian Carax as that of Spain’s history under Franco.
Omg I just googled "Eleanor and Park sequel" and on her website, Rainbow Rowell now says she's not sure she'll write a sequel! Ughhhh.
Not reading anything significant. School hasn't ended yet and I'm having trouble focusing on reading. Thankfully, I have an elective class in school of short stories that I took just now. So, currently I'm reading this book. The last story that I've read was "Only the Dead Know Brooklyn"! I really liked it... though it is kinda unfocusing and I didn't really get the message of the author but still it was fun!
I'm reading three pretty antasttic books: Ill Will by Dan Chaon; The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion; and BearTown by Fredrik Backman
I finished Slow Days, Fast Company: The World, The Flesh, and L. A. by Eve Babitz which I loved. A terrific book.
Next up: A Country Road, A Tree by Jo Baker
I was finally able to finish Who They Were by Robert C. Shaler about the identification of the victim remains at the 9/11 attacks. It is densely scientific, as Dr. Shaler was one of the voices advocating for DNA identification of the remains and the detail work that goes into such identification. Then there is the grisly nature and the gut-wrenching emotional drain on both staff and reader.
For lunchtime and waiting time reading, I have Throne of Jade and also Ashes to Ashes as a mystery on my TBR pile. And DH and I are reading out loud The Handmaid's Tale as companion to viewing the series on Hulu.
Oh, and The Worm Ouroborous is still bedside reading.
I finished the quiet and charming The Housekeeper and the Professor. I don't remember who mentioned it here on LT, but thanks. It was lovely.
>23framboise-you're welcome. I read the Rosie project and the Rosie effect and they were both really good
I'm reading Night Watch by Linda Fairstein. So far a very good plot, and I like the author's writing style. Very descriptive writing, without being clogged down with too much detail. Just added it to my Books section if anyone else is interested in checking it out.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Teenagers, Eleanor and Park meet on the bus one day when Eleanor is forced to sit with Park. Both are very uncomfortable but slowly their relationship develops as their background stories unfold and Eleanor finally finds some she can trust and maybe love but will her stepfather break them up. . . Loved it!
I finished A Long Way Home: A Memoir by Saroo Brierly (n.k.a. "Lion") and while it was childishly written, he is such a nice guy, and his story so amazing, I flew through it. It gets a little repetitive and bogged down when he talks about his search to find his biological family in India, but that is a small complaint.
I am now reading Marlena by Julie Buntin and wow, her writing is incredible. So far, getting sucked right in.
Deadmen Walking by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Usually listen to the audio versions of her books... but Pirates!! Could not wait for the audio to appear on my library site. lol. :)
Almost done with Born a Crime by Trevor Noah about his upbringing in South Africa. The title refers to his biracial heritage in apartheid-era South Africa, making his very birth and existence a crime. Well written, the book is a collection of stories from his childhood, at home and at his various schools. Interesting and educational.
I finished up Carl Hiaasen's Razor Girl a couple of days ago. It's an extremely enjoyable, funny, book.
Last night I started Israeli author David Grossman's latest book, A Horse Walks Into a Bar. I was intrigued when I saw the review in the NY Times. Recently, I saw that the work was short-listed for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize.
I finished Pnin which was a character sketch of an older Russian emigrant to the US, teaching in a small college, oblivious of the politics of his fellow professors but still holding grudges against men who were involved with his love and short-time wife. The characters and scenes were brilliantly portrayed but other than that I didn't see much of a point to it and I am not a plot driven reader.
Eligible – Curtis Sittenfeld
Audiobook performed by Cassandra Campbell
The subtitle is all the synopsis you need: A Modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice. This is the fourth installment of the planned retellings that comprise The Austen Project, wherein contemporary authors tackle one of Austen’s works and reimagine it in a modern setting. I previously read Alexander McCall Smith’s version of Emma.
Sittenfeld sets the tale in the USA – Cincinnati to be exact. The Bennet “girls” are about 15 years older that Austen’s characters: Jane is nearly 40, and Elizabeth is 38. And reality TV, cross-training, and text messaging play a central role. Still, Mrs Bennet is just as irritatingly pushy when it comes to finding husbands for her daughters, and Mrs Bennet is just as laid-back and confused by the romantic shenanigans. I recognized most of the plot elements, though Sittenfeld did split the Wickham character into two different men.
All told, I found it entertaining and fun. Definitely helps if you’ve read the original, though it spoils any surprises as you anticipate “when will they …?” or “how will she include …..?”
Cassandra Campbell is flawless narrating the audio book. She has become one of my favorite voice artists.
Death in the Clouds – Agatha Christie
Hercule Poirot is flying back to London from Paris along with ten other passengers. From his seat (No. 9), he should have a clear view of all that’s happening, except that he sleeps through most of the flight. When he’s disturbed it’s to discover that a woman has died, apparently from a wasp sting. Or was it murder?
Christie’s Belgian detective has become my go-to comfort read. I never tire of watching Poirot exercise his “little gray cells” to the amusement and astonishment of fellow investigators, suspects, innocent bystanders, and, of course, the culprit. I was startled by several racist terms and condescending statements regarding women, but I recognize this work is a product of the times in which it was written, and prevailing attitudes in that era.
This is number twelve in the series, but readers do NOT really need to consume them in any specific order; they are more like stand-alone novels, featuring the same detective.
The Christmas Thief – Mary Higgins Clark & Carol Higgins Clark
Audiobook performed by Carol Higgins Clark
From the book jacket: Alvirah Meehan, the lottery winner turned amateur sleuth, teams up with private investigator Regan Reilly to solve another Christmas mystery. This time the case involves an eighty-foot blue spruce that has been chosen as the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. The folks who picked the tree don’t have a clue that attached to one of its branches is a flask full of diamonds that Packy Noonan, a scam artist just released from prison, had hidden there over twelve years ago.
There’s not much holiday spirit in this slim volume; it is more a fun and entertaining comic crime caper than a mystery. The coincidences required for the plot to work stretch credulity a bit, but they do add to the suspense and enjoyment. I like this cast of characters: Alvirah and her husband, Willy; Regan and her fiancé, Jack, as well as her parents, Luke and Nora; and Alivirah’s friend Opal, a fellow lottery winner, who lost her money to Packy’s scam. And then there’s Packy and his band of incompetents: Jo-Jo, Benny and Milo.
Carol Higgins Clark narrates the audio version. Her pacing is good, but the voices she used for the various characters just irritated me.
Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions – Margaret Musgrove
Illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon. Winner of the 1977 Caldecott Medal for illustration in children’s literature.
Margaret Musgrove was born and raised in Connecticut, but she has lived and studied in Ghana. She supplemented her own experience with extensive research to write this children’s book which explains some of the customs and traditions of various African tribal peoples. In this work she examines 26 different tribes, across the African continent, from Ashanti to Zulu.
Leo and Diane Dillon’s illustrations are simple magnificent. In each portrait they not only illustrate the customs about which Musgrove writes, but they give a glimpse of more of the culture of that tribe. Most illustrations include a man, a woman, a child, a typical dwelling, some cultural artifact, and an animal indigenous to that tribe’s area of Africa. I found myself examining the many details of the pictures. As a bonus the front and back cover are two illustrations which are not contained within.
The Polar Express – Chris Van Allsburg
On Christmas Eve a boy struggles to stay awake, intent on hearing the jingle of bells from Santa’s sleigh. What he hears instead are the sounds of “hissing steam and squeaking metal,” and when he goes to the window he sees a train pulled up outside his house! Grabbing his robe and slippers he ventures outside and is just in time to climb aboard before the train sets off for the North Pole.
What a lovely Christmas story; it reminds children (and adults) of the magical power of belief. I wish I could still hear the jingle of bells.
The illustrations are richly detailed. I enjoyed examining each picture, looking for the train as it moves across the landscape. The expressions on the faces of the children aboard the train were marvelous, whether filled with excitement, or consoling the boy on the trip back home.
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