What are we reading in July?
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About halfway through last month, I realized I never posted a "What are we reading in June?" thread, and I honestly missed it! I like seeing what you all are reading now and what you're planning to read next. So, what are you reading in July? I'm still finishing my book for the June MysteryCAT, The Napoleon of Crime: The Life and Times of Adam Worth, Master Thief by Ben Macintyre.
Actually finished this in June ....
The Terra-Cotta Dog – Andrea Camilleri
Digital audio narrated by Grover Gardner
Book two in the Inspector Montalbano series has him solving a 50-year-old crime. The dying words of one man lead the detective to a secret grotto in the mountains, where the remains of two young lovers lie in an embrace, watched over by a large terra-cotta dog. As he works to solve this old mystery, which has him delving into the island’s past and the horrors of World War II, he also has to deal with modern crime wave, shoot-outs, betrayals, a complicated love life and the politics of the police department.
Camilleri populates the novel with an assortment of colorful characters, from mafioso crime bosses, to intimidated shop owners, to faithful partners on the police force and a bevy of beauties that complicate Montalbano’s life.
Montalbano himself is a wonderful lead character. He doesn’t suffer fools gladly, nor sweat the small stuff. He’s intelligent, a loyal friend and is always ready to find the humor in a situation, no matter how dire.
This particular plot had me somewhat confused given the historical nature of the central mystery. But it was interesting, engaging and entertaining. I’ll keep reading the series.
Grover Gardner does a fine job performing the audios. He really brings these characters to life, and even does a passable job of voicing the female characters.
A few pages of notes at the end of the text version explain the various references, historical and modern, the Italian police / military / political system as well as the exchange rate of lira to US dollars (at least at the time the novel is written). Very helpful to this reader! This is not included in the audio version.
Just finished Who's There: The Life and Career of William Hartnell, by Jessica Carney. It's the biography of first Doctor Who actor William Hartnell, by his granddaughter.
Mostly reading Murder on the Leviathan by Boris Akunin at the moment. It's pretty good.
Continuing the Doctor Who theme by sneaking in a Tenth Doctor novel: The Eyeless, by Lance Parkin. I gave it to a friend for Christmas many years ago and read it this afternoon when I went over to plant-sit ;)
I've got 4 main books on the go at the moment. I'm reading Jambusters for this month's RandomCAT, and enjoying it a lot. Also Among the Russians by Colin Thubron, Upbeat by Paul MacAlindin for this month's 75ers non-fiction challenge (about the formation of the Iraqi National Youth Orchestra), both of which I'm also enjoying, and an LTER book, Backpacking My Style, which in all honesty I'm enjoying much less.
Call the Midwife – Jennifer Worth
Digital audiobook narrated by Nicola Barber.
Originally titled: The Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy and Hard Times. This was renamed to coincide with the popular television series. And in case you haven’t seen the TV show, the subtitle is really all the synopsis you need.
Worth was a 22-year-old young woman, with no particular religious affiliation, who found herself assigned to Nonnatus House, a convent, for her training as a midwife. She got an excellent education, more practical experience than she bargained for, and an appreciation for the spiritual beliefs that helped the sisters cope with the realities of their work.
Worth has been criticized for how brutally honest and graphic some of these recollections are. But I was not particularly bothered by this. She was working in an impoverished area of London, in the 1950s. Times were hard, many buildings were still in dilapidated condition following damage sustained in WW2, prostitution was rampant, and tenements were crowded. I felt that the gritty reality of her experiences added to the memoir.
She also makes time to show the tenderness of a loving marriage, parents who are devoted to raising their children despite their limited resources, and friends / colleagues on whom one can rely. I think she did a good job of honestly recollecting her experiences during this time frame.
The printed book includes a Appendix that addresses the difficulties of “writing the Cockney dialect” and a glossary of terms. These are not included in the audio version.
Nicola Barber does a fine job narrating the audiobook. I’m sure that my devotion to the TV series helped, because I clearly pictured the scenes/actresses from the show.
I finished History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund. I really liked the way this book started and that it has such a strong sense of place, but I don't think she brought together all the threads well, and the last scene honestly baffled me. (3/5)
>8 BookConcierge: I read that last year and agree completely with you. I've never got into the TV series (simply because I just knew I'd be weeping every week!), but was aware of the actresses. As I read the book it was just so obvious that Miranda Hart was born to play Chummy!
Started a thriller, but not sure I'll stick with it: The Dying Light, by Henry Porter.
I am really really not enjoying the LTER book I am currently reading. Looking at reviews, this seems to be a common experience, and a few of them confessed to not finishing it. And now I've read that other people didn't finish, I'm *so* tempted to abandon it. But then I feel mean because it was offered freely. What to do, what to do...? (tell me what to do! :D )
>18 Jackie_K: life's too short to read bad books.
I'm the last person who actually takes that advice, of course, and have ploughed through any number of dire books.
>19 Helenliz: Thank you, I feel slightly better about abandoning it! (review on my thread). I still feel a bit guilty, so maybe I'll come back to finish it some time, but with 400+ other books that need reading it won't be any time soon.
Finished The Twisted Sword yesterday and am now reading Castrovalva, by Christopher H. Bidmead. This is a novelization of the first story to feature the Fifth Doctor.
Cast your vote for the Nobel literature alternative prize:
The original link died, so here is a new one. It is working at the moment.
Just finished my daytime book The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah for RandomCAT. Another daytime book that I'm currently reading is Exit West by Mohsin Hamid and my night book is Cat Out of Hell by Lynn Truss that is weird enough to keep me awake. I've also started an Early Reviewer book Quid Pro Quo by Vicki Grant.
It appears I've bitten off more than I can chew this month, which is leaving me very little time for anything else.
Money and work have both been big distractions this month, so I haven't gotten much reading done. I'm still reading Rise the Dark and Snow Crash both. I'm loving Rise the Dark, but just not finding much time for it. I think Snow Crash may be suffering (for me) because I don't have as much focus/concentration as I need for it.
Preparing to start Broad Band, by Claire L. Evans. The subtitle bills this as "the untold story of the women who made the Internet".
The Forgotten Garden – Kate Morton
Audiobook performed by Caroline Lee.
In 1913 a little girl, only 4-years-old, is found alone on the wharf in Australia. She’s taken in by the portmaster and his wife, who are childless, and when no one comes to claim her they keep her and raise her as their own. Decades later her granddaughter tries to unravel the mystery of her grandmother’s origins.
What a magical story. The action moves back and forth in time, from the late 1800s to 1913 to 1975 to 2005. The four women central to the story are Nell, Cassandra, Eliza and Rose. Some of the sections are told from the perspective of a child, while others from the perspective of an adult. No one has the full story and anyone who has key elements is sworn to secrecy, so it’s a long, complicated and tangled tale that Cassandra tries to unravel and reveal.
I was engaged and interested from beginning to end. This is the first book by Kate Morton that I’ve read. It won’t be the last.
I don’t think I would have used the magical realism tag, but several other people have, probably because of the fairy tales that are a central plot point, and one brief mention of a ghost. (Eliza is an author and several of her fairy tales are related in the book; they are truly magical.)
Caroline Lee does a fantastic job of voicing the audiobook. She has a lot of characters to handle (most of them female) and I was never confused about who was speaking.
I'm finishing up three library books in preparation for our annual beach vacation. I'm reading Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi, Census by Jesse Ball and The Outsider by Stephen King. Getting these read and organizing supplies and food for seven people for two weeks at the beach is proving challenging, but it's not like we can't just buy what we need once we're down there.
I finished Tangerine by Christine Mangan. Set in Morocco in the 1950s, it alternates between two unreliable narrators, one woman who may be losing her mind and another who is obsessed with her. This noir-ish thriller hearkens back to the writing of Patricia Highsmith and Dorothy B. Hughes. While it does exhibit some signs of being a first novel, this was a refreshing change from the twisty, unbelievable thrillers that are the trend right now. I'll be looking for future novels from Mangan.
I am nearly finished listening to Her Body and Other Parties, which will be getting five stars from me unless it takes a sudden unexpected dip in quality near the end.
And I started Isaac's Storm for my real-life book club.
On the bus I'm re-reading The Honourable Schoolboy, by John le Carré, so that I can return it to my parents when I see them next month. I borrowed it an embarrassingly long time ago...
My current library read is The Story of English in 100 Words, by David Crystal. His writing is good as always, but I think I like his longer books better; the chapters in this one are just a bit too bite-sized for me. But that's not the fault of the book.
Using my Saturday morning to finish up two library books (I have more holds to pick up, eek): Conan Doyle for the Defense, by Margalit Fox; and Postcards from the Boys, by Ringo Starr.
Next book off the library shelf is Unthinkable: An Extraordinary Journey Through the World's Strangest Brains, by Helen Thomson.
>38 sturlington: Her Body and Other Parties is amazing.
I'm at the beach, trying to read as much as I can while family members interrupt me. I'm reading Kudos by Rachel Cusk, which is superlatively good, Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor, Elmet by Fiona Mozley and Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann. Clearly, I am well supplied for this vacation.
>43 RidgewayGirl: I did finish it and gave it 5 stars. That last story was incredible.
A few years ago I bought The Hireling's Tale by Jo Bannister at a library book sale. Although I'd never heard of the author before I was attracted by the fact that she is from Northern Ireland, like me. Neither the title (what is a "hireling" anyway?) nor the dreary cover inspired me to pick it up so it gathered dust on my bookshelves. At last I started it this month and at the halfway mark, really enjoying it. I wonder what other gems I have lurking on the shelves.
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