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Tangledthread reads again 2018

75 Books Challenge for 2018

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Edited: Today, 3:49pm Top

Home from holiday travels and time to start my thread for this group.

Here's what is on my reading docket:

1. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, ebook
2. In the Midst of Winter: a Novel by Isabel Allende, ebook
3. A Dangerous Place by Jacqueline Winspear, fiction, ebook, audiobook
4. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
4. The Golden Age: A Novel by Joan London, ebook
5. The Clocks in this House All Tell Different Times by Xan Brooks, ebook*
6. Go, Went, Gone by Jenny Erpenbeck, fiction, ebook
7. The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan, nonfiction, ebook*

8. Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor, fiction
9. A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline, fiction
10. Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward, fiction
11. In Pursuit of Memory by Joseph Jebelli, nonfiction
12. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones, fiction, ebook, audiobook
13. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah, ebook

14. Journey to Munich by Jacqueline Winspear, audiobook, fiction
15. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, fiction, ebook

16. Hidden Tapestry by Debra Dean, nonfiction, ebook
17. Euphoria by Lily King, fiction, ebook, audiobook*
18. Craeft by Alexander Langlands, nonfiction
19. Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, ebook
20. Happiness is a Choice You Make, John Leland, nonfiction, ebook*
21. The Life We Bury by Allen Eskins, fiction, ebook
22. The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson, nonfiction

23. Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, fiction, ebook
24. War on Peace: the end of diplomacy and decline of American influence by Ronan Farrow, nonfiction, ebook*
25. The Overstory: a novel by Richard Powers, fiction, ebook

26. The Great Passage by Shion Miura, fiction, ebook
27. Warlight by Michael Ondaatje, fiction, ebook
28. Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee, fiction, ebook
29. The Life List of Adrian Mandrick by Chris White, fiction
30. From a Low and Quiet Sea by Donal Ryan, fiction
31. Tangerine: a novel by Christine Mangan, fiction, ebook/audiobook

32. Snap by Belinda Bauer, fiction
33. To Siri With Love by Judith Newman, memoir, ebook
34. The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning by Margareta Magnusson, how to, ebook
35. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate, fiction, ebook
36. Make Your Bed by Wm. H. McRaven, inspiration, audiobook
38. Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley StartUp by John Carreyrou, nonfiction, ebook

39. Handywoman by Kate Davies, memoir
40. Ties by Domenico Starnon, fiction, ebook*
41. Earning the Rockies by Robert D. Kaplan, nonfiction, ebook*
42. Happiness by Aminatta Forna, fiction*
43. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, fiction, ebook*
44. The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian, fiction, audiobook/audiobook
45. The Dry by Jane Harper, fiction, audiobook/ebook*

Jan 3, 11:03am Top

Welcome back! I've got to get to A Gentleman in Moscow this year.

Jan 3, 11:50am Top

Happy reading in 2018!

Jan 3, 2:23pm Top

Happy New Year. It looks like you have some great reading ahead.

Jan 4, 1:36am Top

Happy New Year
Happy New Group here
This place is full of friends
I hope it never ends
It brew of erudition and good cheer.

Jan 4, 7:20am Top

>2 drneutron: Way too many people are reading it here, I should probably get it too.

Jan 4, 9:09am Top

re: A Gentleman in Moscow - it's not quite what I expected. It starts out very light and sort of animated and then slowly gets darker and darker. In some ways, I think it would make an interesting graphic novel.

Edited: Jan 4, 9:15am Top

Hi and Happy New Year to you!

See message above about A Gentleman....

Jan 4, 10:19pm Top

Hope your 2018 is filled with good reads!

Jan 10, 5:38pm Top

Belated Happy New Year!

Jan 18, 4:28pm Top

Finished reading In the Midst of Winter by Isabelle Allende. I gave it 4 stars. It is rather light reading though it deals with heavy topics of illiegal immigration, human trafficking, and despotic dictatorships.
I suspect my book group will like it.

Edited: Jan 29, 6:00pm Top

Just my first two book reviews for 2018. Reviews for In the Midst of Winter and A Dangerous Place are on the book pages.

Next I will have to review A Gentleman in Moscow, but that will have to wait for a day or two.

Feb 2, 5:15pm Top

Review: A Gentleman in Moscow

I had a hard time getting into this book at the beginning, but as it progressed I became more engaged in the story and the many sub-stories within the book.

Resourceful 32 y.o. Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov is sentenced to house arrest in the elegant Moscow Metropol Hotel and his residence is moved from a second floor luxury suite to the 6th floor belfry in 1922. His crime: being born into the Tsarist aristocracy. As Stalin's grip clenches Russia, the Count, after a bout of depression, goes about setting up a life within the confines of the Metropol. Nine year old Nina, who is also temporarily confined to the hotel, provides the key(s) that release him from depression and provides him with all he needs to create a world within the Metropol.

If one is confined, then one must set about establishing means to acquire life's essentials: food, beverage, clothing, meaningful work, and love. Alexander finds all of these things within the Metropol. He establishes relationships with the chef, the bar tender, the seamstress, a returning actress, and adult Nina returns to leave her daughter, Sophia, with the the Count.

There are many small stories within the larger story that enhance the entertainment value of the novel. There is a clandestine assembling of a secret midnight meal in the middle of the siege on Moscow during WWII. There is ongoing relationship with Soviet General Osip in which the Count mentors him in the underpinnings of western culture. That relationship turns to the Count's advantage in the end. There are several other entertaining sub-stories embedded in the book, which I found delightful.

The book is structured almost like Russian nesting dolls: time is condensed in the first and last part of the book, while the time periods between chapters expand outward in the center of the book, which is the time covering the Great Depression and WWII.

The author has done a great job of putting together a thought provoking, multilayered story, that requires a bit of suspension of disbelief.

Feb 3, 9:40pm Top

Great review of A Gentleman in Moscow, tangledthread. Several of my friends, including two of my work partners, have raved about that book, so I'll get to it later this year.

Feb 4, 1:59pm Top

Hi Daryl!
I imagine that it's not a book that you would pick up, based on what I've seen you read. But when you put it down and step back a bit, it is thought provoking.

Feb 13, 12:57pm Top

I'm currently engrossed in Jenny Erpenbeck's Go, Went, Gone and find today's NYT article about the Berlin Wall particularly relevant. Read it at: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/13/world/europe/berlin-wall-equinox-east-germany.html?

Feb 14, 3:53am Top

>16 tangledthread: Thanks for sharing the article, very interesting and informative. I hope to read Go, went, gone soon.

Feb 19, 6:33pm Top

Just did a bunch of book reviews that were long over due.

I'm still thinking about what to write about Go, Went, Gone

Feb 25, 6:02pm Top

Reservoir 13 review:

Reservoir 13 is a chronicle of the after effects on a small town in Derbyshire after a visiting 13 yr. old girl disappears over the Christmas holidays. The girl just vanishes while on a walk through the moors with her parents.

The structure of the book is intriguing: There are thirteen chapters. Each chapter covers a year in the life of the village and contains twelve or thirteen paragraphs. The paragraphs are structured around the happenings in roughly one month time segments that describe events in the natural world (plants and animal behavior) as well as various member of the community. Dialogue punctuation is minimal.

In the descriptions of the people in the village, think of a long episode of Midsommer Murders without the presence of DCI Barnaby and PC Jones. Everyone has their secrets, hidden motivations, and private thoughts...which often reflect back to the disappearance of the Rebecca, Becky, Bex.

Perhaps those most affected by the disappearance are four teens who are around the same age as Rebecca Shaw and had known her from an earlier visit the previous summer. For me, their lives were the most interesting to see unfold over the thirteen years. Especially when they leave for college and learn that the missing girl has come to be the one thing that identifies their home town on a national level.

When I first leafed through the book, I suspected that the writing and structure might be a gimmick and was a bit put off. Once I got half way through the second chapter, I was hooked. There are a lot of literary rules broken in this novel, but the author demonstrates that he knows enough about those rules to break them well and create a great piece of literature.

Mar 9, 3:40pm Top

finished reading The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane which is our next book group selection. It has an interesting story line and the author has done her research. But at times the prose gets a bit purple, especially when the text involves adolescent girls.

Mar 9, 4:20pm Top

Review of The Golden Age by Joan London:

This an evocative story set primarily in Australia in the early 1950's. The effects of WWII are still resonating throughout the world and the specter of polio haunts every family during these epidemic years. The main characters are Frank (Ferec) and Elsa, two young adolescents in a residential rehab center in Perth, undergoing treatment as they recover from polio.

There are several parallel stories of exile through the book. These two young teens have been exiled from their families and school in the Golden Age rehab home. Frank's parents are war refugee's from Budapest. Several of the care providers in the Golden Age are also from away.

The author sets the tone through her descriptions of the environment and her well drawn characters. Although the story mainly involves Frank and Elsa, there are several sub-stories that enhance the plot and draw the reader into the narrative.

The writing is quiet and understated, reminiscent of Kent Haruf's style of writing. The author lovingly and charitably draws her characters, causing the reader the care about what happens to them.

Apr 2, 6:23pm Top

The Great Alone review:

Kristin Hannah takes us into the wilds of Alaska with the Allbright family: Ernt, the father, Viet Nam Vet and released POW who is unable to hold down a job much less hold his liquor. Coraline, the mother, who dropped out of high school while pregnant with Lenora to 25 year old Ernt, before his war experience. And 13 year old Leni (Lenora) whose experience in life is primarily as the new kid in school due to her father's inability to hold onto a job.

The family is contacted by the father of one of Ernt's military buddies who did not come home. The message is that his land in Alaska had been willed to Ernt. Having no other prospects, the family sets out in their VW van for Kaneq, Alaska in the spring of the year. They are ill prepared and ill equipped for what awaits them there. The tight knit community pitches in to teach and help them all they can. But Ernt finds it difficult to shed his paranoid delusions of a conspiracy of wealth and power which are fed by alcohol supplied by Mad Earl, the father of the deceased soldier. What ensues is a bit of a Romeo and Juliet story, Leni befriends Matthew, the son of Tom Walker, the wealthiest man on the peninsula. While Ernt's bitter resentment of wealth pits him against the Walker family. As the seasons change and the dark time arrives, Ernt becomes more delusional and violent toward Coraline.

There is drama, suspense, violence, and heartbreak as the story progresses. But there is a reasonably pleasant ending to the story.

The author has done her research about homesteading in Alaska and writes beautifully about the people and the place with out sugar coating the harsh realities of the natural forces at work. She uses several literary devices to enhance the story, referencing the poems of Robert Service about the Yukon as a touch point for Leni and Matthew. Also Leni's avocation of photography is woven through the narrative. I give it 4 stars.

Jun 16, 3:16pm Top

My review of The Feather Thief:

This interesting work of nonfiction brought me into a world that I knew nothing about....the world of classic fly tying. The author stumbles across this world when he learns to use fly fishing as a way to relax from the stress of his work of trying to safely resettle Iraqi refugees who had helped the US during the war. While fishing with his local guide in New Mexico, he learns about a young man who committed a heist of rare bird specimens from the Tring Museum in the UK.

Background information is provided about the acquisition of those specimens by Alfred Russel Wallace, the founder of the Tring Museum, Walter Rothschild, and the fashion era in the late 19th & early 20th centure marked by a frenzy for feathers.

The story is an interesting narrative of several obsessive people, including the author himself. Alfred Russel Wallace, Walter Rothschild, the thief, Edwin Rist, and many of the online collective of Classic Fly Tiers could all be identified as people obsessed by these exotic, endangered, and sometimes extinct, birds. As the book draws to a close the author distinguishes that obsession does color how one sees the facts. At the same time there are selfish and altruistic obsessions.

Jun 18, 1:38pm Top

Review of Hidden Tapestry by Debra Dean

Sometimes real life has twists and turns that would be unbelievable in a work of fiction. The story of Jan Yoors is such a story. Written by Debra Dean (The Madonnas of Leningrand), it chronicles the lives of Jan, Annabert van Wettum, and Marianne Citroen.

Jan, born into a progressive family in Belgium in the 1920's. His father, Eugene, was a well known stained glass artist and his mother was a bohemian dedicated to social justice. At the age of 11 Jan and Annabert van Wettum met at a summer camp in the Netherlands at which time they established a long running correspondence. Even while Jan has run off with Roma (gypsies) for months at a time, which his parents seem to accept with little consternation.

WWII descends upon Europe. Annabert's mother died of cancer and her family disintegrates. Her best friend, Marianne Citroen, suffers different but no less tragic circumstances. Jan becomes a freedom fighter in the war to help the Roma and others being persecuted by the Germans. He is captured, tortured, and sentenced to death but is miraculously spared.

At the end of the war, Jan finds Annabert, they marry and move to England where he casts about for a livelihood in the arts and falls in love with woven tapestries. They find that Marianne has also emigrated to England, and Jan manipulates the women into agreeing to a polyamorous relationship. Jan does not have the slow, methodical temperament for producing tapestries but the women do. So he designs and they execute the designs.

The trio move to New York City and during the 1950's and 60's they become established in the art scene through the tapestries as well as Jan's drawings, photography and writing.

The author draws out the story in engaging detail of the concealed life of this unusual family without delivering judgment on the choices made. It's a fascinating story.

Group: 75 Books Challenge for 2018

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