Bonnie (brenzi) Takes Another Stab at this Reading Thing - Part 2
This is a continuation of the topic Bonnie (brenzi) Takes Another Stab at this Reading Thing.
This topic was continued by Bonnie (brenzi) Takes Another Stab at this Reading Thing - Part 3.
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Best of 2018
Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie
The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaege
In This House of Bredeby Rumer Godden
The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton
The Friend by Sigrid Nunez
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
Book of the Year
Paul Scott’s 4 book series The Jewel in the Crown
Nearly as good
The Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard’s 5 book series
The Warmth of Other Suns by Isobel Wilkerson
Educated by Tara Westover
1947: Where Now Begins by Elizabeth Asbrink
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyou
American Mirror: the Life and Art of Norman Rockwell by Deborah Solomon
Books Read in 2019
1. Darktown - Thomas Mullen - audio - 4.2 stars
2. The Overstory - Richard Powers - eBook - 5 stars
3. Evening in Paradise - Lucia Berlin - audio - ????
4. The Chosen - Chaim Potok - OTS - 4 stars
5. Friday on My Mind - Nicci French - Audio - 4 stars
6. The Pursuit Of Love - Nancy Mitford - OTS - 4.2 stars
7. Started Early, Took My Dog - Kate Atkinson - audio/OTS - 4.5 stars
8. The Bolter - Frances Osborne - OTS - 4.5 stars
9. Lightning Men - Thomas Mullen - audio - 4.4 stars
10. Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity and Love - Dani Shapiro - eBook - 4.3 stars
11. How to be a Woman - Caitlin Moran - audio - 4 stars
12. The Word is Murder - Anthony Horowitz - audio - 4 stars
13. The Paragon Hotel - Lyndsay Faye - eBook - 4.2 stars
14. Bibliophile - Jane Mount - L - 4 stars
15. Love in a Cold Climate - Nancy Mitford - OTS - 4.3 stars
16. Where the Crawdads Sing - Delia Owen - audio - 4.2 stars
17. White Mischief - James Fox - eBook - 3.6 stars
18. Transit - Anna Seghers - OTS - translation -5 stars
19. Becoming - Michelle Obama - audio - 4.3 stars
20. Finn - Jon Clinch - eBook - 4.5 stars
21. Dark Saturday - Nicci French - audio - 4 stars
22. The Nun and the Priest: Love, Celibacy and Passion - Evelyn McLean Brady - OTS - 4.2 stars
23. Hons and Rebels by Jessica Mitford - eBook - 4.3 stars
24. The Unknown Ajax - Georgette Heyer - eBook - 4 stars
25. Milkman - Anna Burns - audio - ????
26. These Truths: A History Of the United States - Jill Lepore - eBook - 4.5 stars
27. Travels in Siberia - Ian Frazier - audio - 3.8 stars
28. My Sister the Serial Killer - eBook - 4 stars
29. Second Person Singular - Sayed Kashua - eBook - translation - 4.5 stars
30. Force Of Nature - Jane Harper - audio - 3.6 stars
31. Say Nothing - Patrick Radden Keefe - eBook - 4.2 stars
32. I'll Be Gone in the Dark - Michelle McNamara - audio - 3.6 stars
33. Something Like Breathing - Angela Readman - eBook - 4.2 stars
34. Sunday Silence - Nicci French - audio - 4 stars
35. West - Carys Davies - audio - 4.5 stars
36. English Passengers - Matthew Kneale - OTS - 5 stars
37. Good Evening Mrs. Craven - Mollie Panter-Downes- OTS - 4.3 stars
38. November Road - Lou Berney- audio - 4.4 stars
39. River Of Darkness - Rennie Airth - eBook - 4.2 stars
40. The Day Of The Dead - Nicci French - audio - 4 stars
41. The Blackhouse - Peter May - audio - 4.5 stars
42. The Heart's Invisible Furies - John Boyne - eBook - 5 stars
43. Vacationland - John Hodgman - audio - 3 stars
44. The Gentlewomen - Laura Talbot - OTS - 4.5 stars
45. The Lewis Man - Peter May - audio - 4.5 stars
46. Disappearing Earth - Julia Phillips - eBook - 4 stars
47. Faro's Daughter - Georgette Heyer - eBook - 4 stars
48. Fall and Rise: the Story Of 9/11 - Mitchell Zuckoff - eBook - 5 stars
49. The Wolf and the Watchman - Niklas Natt och Dag - audio - translation - 4.3 stars
50. Big Sky - Kate Atkinson - L - 4.3 stars
51. There, There - Tommy Orange - L - 4.5 stars
52. Beartown - Fredrik Backman - audio - translation - 3 stars
53. Women Talking - Miriam Toews - eBook - 4.1 stars
54. The Long And Faraway Gone - Lou Berney - audio - 4.2 stars
55. A Tale Of Love and Darkness - Amos Oz - OTS - translation -4.7 stars
56. The Long Take - Robin Robertson - audio - 4.5 stars
57. Good Talk - Mira Jacob - L - 4.5 stars
58. The Nickel Boys - Colson Whitehead - L - 4.5 stars
59. The Lost Man Jane Harper - audio - 4 stars
60. The Chessmen - Peter May - audio - 4 stars
61. A Good Man - Guy Vanderhaeghe - OTS - 4.2 stars
62. The Body Lies - Jo Baker - eBook - 4 stars
63. Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial Of Harper Lee - Casey Cep- audio - 4.2 stars
Total Books: 63
I haven’t posted the last few books I’ve read but they were all fairly noteworthy.
Finn by Jon Clinch
Brilliant reimagining of the life of Huck Finn’s father with a bit of Huck included. Clinch is a fabulous storyteller and I was turning pages furiously well into the night. I thought the ending was a bit rushed (unexpected, really) but the book overall was wonderful. My library doesn’t have any of Clinch’s books that I haven’t already read so I’ll have to hunt them down. Very highly recommended. Thanks to the AAC for reminding me of this author.
Dark Saturday by Nicci French
I’m quickly getting to the end of this series. I only have two books left to read and it has been a very good crime/mystery series centering on psychoanalyst Frieda Klein as she helps the London police solve one crime after another. In this one, a young woman has been imprisoned for thirteen years for a grisly crime that Frieda is convinced the young woman didn’t commit. Highly recommended.
The Nun and the Priest: Love, Celibacy and Passion by Evelyn McLean Brady
This was a bit of a surprise. A friend asked me to go to the book launch for this local author who was an old friend of hers and we both bought a copy of the book and listened to Brady talk about her years in a Rochester convent where she met and fell in love with the priest who would become her husband. The book was filled with passion and strong feelings about the many ways the Catholic Church has done tremendous harm to the lives of priests by not allowing them to marry even though this concept of celibacy was adopted long after the time of Christ and his original apostles. It touches on the current scandal that’s been covered up and botched for decades and continues to this day. Very human and poignant.
Hons and Rebels by Jessica Mitford
I’ve been doing a bit of Mitford stalking this year and this is the latest and a good one it is. Jessica (Decca) is one of six sisters born in the early 20th century who, along with her sisters, became famous for being, well, Mitford. In this memoir, she describes her life as a child and through the beginning of WWII when she and her husband are living in Miami and he leaves for Canada to volunteer for the Canadian Air Force. She bemoans the fact that her life was fully enclosed in the family estate, Swinbrook and describes it thusly:
”Swinbrook had many aspects of a fortress or citadel of medieval times. From the point of view of the inmates it was self-contained in the sense that it was neither necessary, nor generally possible, to leave the premises for any of the normal human pursuits. Schoolroom with governess for education, riding stables and tennis court for exercise, seven of us children for human companionship, the village church for spiritual consolation, our bedrooms for hospital wards even when operations were necessary---all were provided, either in the house itself or within easy walking distance. From the point of view of outsiders entry, in the rather unlikely event that they might seek it, was an impossibility. According to my father, outsiders included not only Huns, Frogs, Americans, blacks and all other foreigners, but also other people’s children, the majority of my older sister’s acquaintances, almost all young men---in fact, the whole teeming population of the earth’s surface, except for some, though not all, of our relations and a very few tweeded, red-faced country neighbors to whom my father had for some reason taken a liking.”
These people all led fascinating and absolutely shocking lives. A Communist, a Fascist, a Nazi, a Duchess and a novelist all grew up in the same household. How the hell did that happen? Jessica Mitford explains all from her point of view and it provides for a mesmerizing read. Her time in the states with her husband doing a variety of jobs no one was qualified for was really remarkable. Very highly recommended.
Happy new thread, Bonnie. Your grandkids are adorable. I also love the woman reading.
Bonnie--Happy new thread!! So glad you are one of the folks reading These Truths. Homestretch this month!
>2 brenzi: Total cutie pies. : )
>9 PaulCranswick:. Thanks Paul. They keep me pretty busy.
>10 figsfromthistle: Hi there and thank you so much.
>11 katiekrug: Thanks Katie.
>12 vancouverdeb: Thank you Deborah, they keep me hopping.
>13 kidzdoc: Thank you Darryl.
>14 BLBera: Thanks Beth, what would we do without the grandkids?
>15 Berly: Thank you Kim, I'm really enjoying These Truths and don't think I would've read it without your GR. I like the way you divided it up.
>16 drneutron: Thanks Jim.
>17 FAMeulstee: Thank you Anita.
>18 msf59: Thanks Mark.
Happy new thread, Bonnie. Love you toppers and am most tempted by several of your book comments.
I love the pictures of your two companions, Bonnie. Enjoy them while you can. School takes up way too much time that could be spent with Grandma. Hahaha.
I am very much looking forward to your thoughts on Milkman. I have been straddling the fence on that one.
ETA: Touchstone fix.
Hi Bonnie! Happy new thread.
Congrats on your cataract surgeries - I hope everything's gone well. You mentioned a few effects from the anesthesia on your last thread - hope that's all gone. Still taking a multitude of eye drops?
My mum also had cataracts operation recently but then managed to poke herself in the eye.
Have a lovely weekend.
>25 karenmarie: Thanks Karen. I did have some side effects from the steroid they used in my right eye but they eliminated that or changed to something else for the left eye and there were no side effects. I qualified for the three in one eye drops so only have one to use. Right now I'm able to drive for the first time I my life without glasses and I have readers to use but I don't know if I'll keep this up or get glasses. This glasses on/glasses off is kind of a pain. I'll find out on Thursday.
>26 PaulCranswick: oh no Paul. They told me not to rub my eyes for six months! Hope she's doing ok.
^It looks like you had a wonderful birthday, with the grand-kids, Bonnie! Hugs to my pal!
Happy Birthday! Great pictures of your darling grandchildren! I'm glad the second cataract surgery is done and it all went well.
>27 brenzi: Glad you eye recovery is going well. Three in one drops sound lovely because the only part of cataract surgery I thought was a pain was the weeks of multiple drops a day. I also agree that readers on/off is a pain which is why I quickly went to progressive lenses with clear glass on top and prescription at the bottom. I use drug-store sun glasses when outside and usually take glasses off completely in movies but otherwise i pretty much wear my prescription glasses all of the time.
And OH NO, did I miss your birthday. I hope it was a happy one!
>28 msf59: Ah Mark I'm happy to be considered a classic lol. It was a great time.
>29 vancouverdeb: Thanks Deborah, they keep me hopping which is a good thing.
>30 Carmenere: Thanks so much Lynda.
>31 RebaRelishesReading: I think I'll do exactly what you did Reba. The longer I have these readers the more I know I don't want them. It was a great birthday and thank you.
>32 katiekrug: Thanks Katie😊
And to put an end to the birthday celebration there's this. Mia was in charge of the sprinkles on the cake:
Milkman by Anna Burns
”The day Somebody McSomebody put a gun to my breast and called me a cat and threatened to shoot me was the same day the milkman died.”
Wow, what a first line. I don’t know where to start with this one. To begin with, I’m really glad I went with the audio because the narrator, Brid Brennan, was an absolutely fabulous narrator with a mesmerizing Irish brogue. I’m not sure I would have gotten anything out of an actual reading of the text. And believe me it was a challenging text.
1970s Northern Ireland, probably Belfast but how would I know because it’s never revealed. No name for the 18 year old protagonist except ‘middle sister.’ Other characters include ‘first brother in law’, ‘lifelong friend,’ ‘oldest sister,’ ‘maybe boyfriend,’ ‘milkman,’ ‘the milkman’….well, you get the idea. Burns doesn’t want to reveal too much I guess. Why she chose to have one character called ‘milkman’ and another character called ‘the milkman,’ is beyond me.
Rumors, gossip and innuendo fill the stream of consciousness narrative as middle sister tells the story of her life. Her biggest claim to fame is the fact that she is being stalked by Milkman (not the milkman) as she ‘walks while reading’ through her ‘area.’ She has a somewhat relationship with ‘maybe boyfriend’ but the gossip all points to an affair with milkman, an apparent paramilitary.
There is a constant threat of violence and a continual feeling of dread for all of the characters. The fear is palpable and is easily felt through the incredibly intense plot and the wonderful audio narrative. But then, just when you think all hell is going to break loose, things seem to resolve themselves a bit and I found I could finally breathe again. And yet there is a unique sense of humor to this sassy teenager on the cusp of senior citizen because of her experiences.
I’m not rating this book, at least not now, because the more I think about it the more I change my mind. Brilliant? Or have I been had? Don’t know. No idea. Must consult third brother in law.
The Unknown Ajax by Georgette Heyer
Utterly delightful! My first Heyer but definitely not my last. Who knew I’d love a Regency novel that was just so playful and delightful that I never stopped smiling?
Richard wrote a fabulous review of the book which nudged me forward to give Heyer a try and can be found on the book’s main page.
These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore
And on audio:
Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier
Belated happy birthday, Bonnie. I love the picture of the grand kids. They make our lives so much richer.
Georgette Heyer is one of my guilty pleasures. You have many smiles ahead of you.
Thank you Colleen. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the Heyer so I'm looking forward to reading more of them and since she was so prolific I guess I do have many smiles ahead of me. 😊
I have no idea why the book images are not showing up or why the touchstones aren't working. Grrrr.
>39 brenzi: I can see the images now, but am also having trouble with touchstones. Ugh!
Anyway, hi Bonnie! Looks like you've had some great reading lately. I've not been tempted by Milkman, until your review.
HI Bonnie - great photo with the grandkids! Your review of The Milkman was perfect and reminded me of why I enjoyed it so much.
>35 brenzi: Great review Bonnie. I have a paper copy of Milkman waiting in Mt. TBR but you're making me think I need to get an audio copy. Hope you post your rating when you decide.
Great photo with the grandkids -- love the sprinkles :)
>34 brenzi: The sprinkles are great and the smiles are even better! Happy belated birthday, Bonnie! Enjoy driving without your glasses and, by all means, read another Heyer. : )
>40 lauralkeet: Hi Laura, well if I tempted you then good for me lol. You've certainly tempted me enough times. I've never had trouble with the images before even when others have complained about it so I don't know what's up. I could see them on my laptop last night but when I looked at my iPad they were gone and continue to be among the missing.
>41 vivians: Thanks Vivian, I cant get the book out of my head, even as I've moved on to other things.
>42 RebaRelishesReading: Personally Reba, I really dislike sprinkles and can't tolerate the kind that are often on ice cream cones. Mia wouldn't consider having a cone without sprinkles. These were the small ones that are often found on Christmas cookies so not so bad. Lol. Do get the audio of Milkman. I think you'll like it.
>43 Berly:. Thanks Kim, I'm enjoying driving and doing lots of things without glasses now. At pickle ball today my friends said you look so cute without glasses. Uh ok I'm a mumble mumble mumble-year old woman. Cute?
>44 BLBera: Thanks Beth. I'm not sure what the charm is in sprinkles but not too many kids dislike them. I love to laugh at books when the time is right just like I somehow enjoy deeply depressing books at the right time lol.
Bonnie, you are definitely smarter than me. I had a DNF with Milkman. That was one challenging text , as you mention. Too challenging for me. I mean I could have forced myself to read it, but after 100 + pages I gave up. Whether the audio would have proved any better for me, I don't know. Do give Ghost Wall a go , for certain. It's very brilliantly done and a wonderful shortie at 130 pages.
>45 brenzi: OK, I'm convinced. Since I own the paper version of Milkman I may see if I can borrow the audio from the library.
I had to smile at your comment about "cute". A time or two my husband has called me "cute" and the other day a woman acquaintance called my hair "cute" and I had the same reaction. I've been 5'8"/5'9" since I was 12 and have always been rather "adult". I'm not yet dottery enough to be "cute" (I hope!) so there's no way in which I can relate that adjective to myself.
26. These Truths: A History of the United States by Jill Lepore
I’ve been reading this tome since January as part of the group read and the last part which dealt with recent history and right up to the 2016 election was the most riveting, probably because of its presence in our daily lives and the idea that our democracy may be unilaterally damaged by the unfit President that was elected. Lepore went to great lengths to draw lines between historical instances of threats to our democracy and what’s happening today and the biggest takeaway for me was that our country has dealt with issues of incredible tyranny in the past and gone on to mend the fissures and reinvigorate our democracy and we will be able to do it again when this period is over.
”A nation born in revolution will forever struggle against chaos. A nation founded on universal rights will wrestle against the forces of particularism. A nation that toppled a hierarchy of birth only to erect a hierarchy of wealth will never know tranquility. A nation of immigrants cannot close its borders. And a nation born in contradiction, liberty in a land of slavery, sovereignty in a land of conquest, will fight, forever, over the meaning of its history.”
There are many instances throughout the book where I realized there were times in our history where I was truly embarrassed and ashamed of our country. This took me by surprise. I won’t forget the names of Leone Baxter and Clem Whitaker, who founded Campaigns Inc. in 1933 and are responsible for the defeat of health insurance for all and began the kind of dirty, scheming politics that have become a way of life for our elections today. Money, money, money has led to where we’re stuck and they can claim a large share of the blame/credit depending on your point of view.
The role of technology, public opinion and polling has not really been beneficial to our democracy in many, many ways.
So much to learn and this book goes a long way toward informing those of us who appreciate being educated. Very highly recommended.
27. Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier
I’ve had this book on my TBR list since it was published in 2010 but I just now got to the audio version. It’s so much more than travel writing, which is what I originally expected. It’s a pretty basic history of Russia. I enjoyed learning about it but it was just too long and filled with minutiae that I didn’t need to know. I didn’t care what they ate camped on the banks of Lake Baikal but I think he threw that kind of stuff in to add to the happy wanderer feel he wanted the book to have. I don’t mean to imply that I didn’t enjoy learning about the steppes and the taiga and the Russian people he met because that was the best part of the book.
Frazier visited Siberia several times and after his first time, when he got to see the hot, dusty Siberia during the summer, he went back in late winter to get the feel of the cold weather for which Siberia is well-known. So many interesting facts were brought out including the popularity of Stalin with the people regardless of his cruelty and abuses. Frazier had to really struggle to get his guides to take him to the remnants of the gulags, a fact that they tried to hide.
Anyway, it was overly long but a good read nevertheless.
28. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
I don’t know what I can say about this book. The title tells it all. It’s very short and so a quick read. The author came up with an unusual idea, set in Lagos, Nigeria which tells the story of two sisters and their botched love lives. Kind of a fun read, which I do very little of. I expect we’ll hear a lot more about this author but I don’t really see this one winning The Women’s Literature prize, for which it’s been nominated. Recommended for a diversion of sorts.
Happy Friday, Bonnie. Love these current and recent reads. Excellent review of These Truths. I loved this wonderful volume too. I would like to try Milkman at some point and I have requested My Sister.
Have a great weekend.
>54 katiekrug: Yes, I thought so too Katie.
>55 msf59:. Hi Mark, Happy Sunday to you!
>56 BLBera: Hi Beth, I don't think I would've read These Truths without the GR so I'm grateful for that. I may downgrade my rating for My Sister the Serial Killer in the end the more I think about it. It's a mystery to me how it ended up on the list. I'm glad it was short lol.
>57 richardderus: Good morning Richard and happy reading to you sir.
29. Second Person Singular by Sayed Kashua
I’m not sure how I heard about this book but it turned out to be quite the page turner. Gripping doesn’t begin to cover it. I had very little knowledge about the lives of Palestinians living in Jerusalem, where they are looked down on and regarded as less as a people. They have to learn the ins and outs and how to maneuver the slippery slope that is life in Israel.
A highly successful, unnamed Arab lawyer seems to be feeling a bit out of sorts and not feeling very romantic with his wife. He actually has stopped sleeping with her and instead shares his child’s bedroom even though he’s not yet thirty. He finds a note inside a book, purchased at a local bookstore, which rocks his world and sends him into a tailspin.
Another young man, a social worker about the same age as the lawyer, feels he has made the wrong choice as far as his profession goes and takes a job as a caretaker for a man who was tragically and permanently injured in an unnamed accident and remains in a vegetative state.
These two lives intersect in an unusual and highly provocative way that results in a tense and confrontational meeting of the two men and takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride through one of the most compelling narratives I’ve ever read. Could not put it down.
I would’ve given it the full five stars but I had a slight problem with the last couple of paragraphs. I hope we hear more from this highly inventive writer. Very highly recommended.
30. Force of Nature by Jane Harper (audio)
Sophomore slump for the second book in the Aaron Falk series (for me at least) but still a decent mystery. Falk is looking for a missing informant in a dense Australian countryside where she and several other women have gone for a team building experience. Well written but just not quite as good as The Dry.
Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe
And on audio:
I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
>59 brenzi: #29 That has a very interesting sounding premise...and the author is a TV-show creator, so he *gets* how a story of that complexity needs to be told...hmmm
>61 richardderus: I do hope you'll decide to give it a whirl Richard. It was really quite an amazing novel with such a unique idea.
Great comments on Second Person Singular, Bonnie. I'll look for it. I just finished a book about Palestinians in Brooklyn, which was excellent. This focused on the role of the women in the family. It was a really good first novel.
I enjoyed Harper's first novel, so I'll pick up the second one eventually.
>63 PaulCranswick: Put it down for awhile? Now there's something I never do, Paul. Either read it or abandon it is pretty much my philosophy. But yes, I'm hoping for more from the next volume in the series.
>64 BLBera: Hi Beth, Second Person Singular was just a very unique book and that was part of the appeal for me.
>65 FAMeulstee: Hi Anita, it was just so compelling a read that I could hardly put it down.
Great review of Second Person Singular Bonnie. I think I may have gotten a book bullet.
Say Nothing: A True Story Of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe
Excellent narrative non-fiction describing the Troubles in Belfast during the 70s and 80s and the subsequent peace process. Following the trail and reasoning of the actual individuals involved in what can only be described as terrorist acts was absolutely fascinating. I'm going to remember Jean McConville, Delours and Marian Price, Gerry Adams and Brendan Hughes and the roles they played during the Troubles because of the work done by Patrick Radden Keefe. Highly recommended.
The fact that I read this after recently reading the cryptic and mesmerizing Milkman was a real bonus. It helped me crystallize the points brought out by that unusual narrative and made me appreciate it even more than I had.
I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara
I listened to this on audio and although it did a thorough job detailing the crimes of the Golden State Killer there were just so many false leads and actual murders/rapes that I lost track
of what was actually happening at any particular time. It's apparent though, that McNamara devoted a great deal of time and effort to the capture and punishment of a really terrible human being who conducted a reign of terror over the residents of California for over two decades. The fact that she died within weeks of the capture of the perpetrator is sad and disappointing.
Hi, Bonnie. Yep, I have heard Force of Nature is a bit of a letdown after the debut, but I plan still giving it a go.
Good review of Say Nothing. I am really enjoying it, in the early going. I am also a fan of I'll Be Gone in the Dark. A truly frightening and disturbing read.
Something Like Breathing by Angela Readman
“I don’t know when a hobby becomes an obsession. I reckon when it feels so normal it’s like breathing. That’s what my hobby is, something like breathing.”
Grrrrrrr, I so wanted to give this book five stars. I just loved everything about it. Almost. Coming of age story set in the 1950-60s mostly on an island off the coast of Scotland. Two teenage girls, one, Lorrie, recently moved from the mainland with her family to live with her aging grandfather who runs a distillery. The other, Sylvie, apparently has a special gift but she’s a loner and an oddball who has trouble making friends with an over-protective almost to the point of abusive, mother. Sharp, crisp writing filled with humor and deft touches by this debut novelist that foretells a great future as a writer. Such as:
”A woman who makes holding a grudge an art form.”
The story is told in alternating chapters through Sylvie’s diary and Lorries’s written assessment of people based on the same sort of rating scale used for her grandfather’s distillery for the whiskey that’s produced. Nose: Palate: Finish: Overall.
All in all, a wonderful debut. I loved it. I would’ve easily given it five stars but the ending seemed rushed and although it was believable considering everything that had happened throughout the narrative something about it just didn’t seem right and, dare I say, spoiled it for me. Darn. So close. Still highly recommended and I can’t wait for her next book.
Much tempted by Something Like Breathing. Yea!! for reading on that "has been sitting on your shelf for eons"
>76 brenzi: Ohh, that sounds tempting. Thanks Bonnie, for the wonderful review. That is a book I've not heard of before this.
>78 vivians: I hope you find it as charming as I did Vivian.
>79 RebaRelishesReading: Yes Reba. I don't know why I don't read more of the book I own. As usually happens, I'm loving, really loving English Passengers.
>80 vancouverdeb:. It's just been published on this side of the pond Deborah. I think I heard about it on Lit Hub.
I am still trying to be spontaneous in my reading. And failing miserably. LOL Second Person Singular is now on the list. Thanks. ; )
Hi, Bonnie. I hope you had a lovely Mother's Day weekend. How is English Passengers coming? I had never heard of that one.
Sunday Silence by Nicci French
I am really enjoying this series about a London psychotherapist who helps the police solve murder mysteries. Only one volume left in the series and it’s all been leading up to this point: will they ever catch Dean Reeves, the killer who started his work in the first volume. Along the way there have been plenty of other murders but Reeves has played a part in Frieda’s life and managed to murder at least one person in each volume. Really quite good.
West by Carys Davies (audio)
This novella about a Pennsylvania man who leaves his daughter in the care of his harsh sister as he heads west to explore the country recently explored by Lewis and Clark had me hooked from the first paragraph. Beautifully written, sparse and tense from beginning to end, John Bellman was urged on by a newspaper article reporting on the discovery of mammoth bones. He’s convinced that he will find the animal still living somewhere in the west. Along the way he hires a young Indian guide who plays a pivotal role in the narrative, as does Bellman’s daughter Bess. The audio was fabulous. It was all over too soon. I could’ve listened for hours longer. Heartbreaking. Very highly recommended.
English Passengers by Matthew Kneale
Holy rollicking sea adventure! Matthew Kneale managed to tell a tale of high adventure while at the same time relating the story of the horrors the English visited on the aborigines in Tasmania and the horrific penal colonies established by the British state. Historical fiction at its best. I could not put this book down.
Set between 1828 and 1858 and told in alternating chapters by the individuals on board the ship, or residing on the island we hear from the ship’s owner, the three individuals who hired the boat to explore what their leader thought was the garden of Eden in Tasmania, and one very savvy aborigine boy who was the real star of the narrative. An irresistible mix of adventure, horror, violence, humor and the indefatigable human spirit make this book a sure winner. For me anyway. Very highly recommended.
Good Evening Mrs. Craven: The Wartime Stories of Mollie Painter-Downes
Ha - no worries. Lots of people read and liked West. I wasn't fishing for credit :)
Hi Bonnie. I love your comments about Milkman. I found it disorienting but in the end I decided that I loved it.
I was also a lover of West (I gave it four stars) but I don't think I warbled about it very much. Please don't think I'm asking for "credit" -- just providing validation. *smile* And I've looked at English Passengers so many times on bookstore shelves. Maybe next time I will pick it up and buy it!
Ooh, I need to get my mitts on West. It definitely sounds like my cuppa. I also need to bookhorn in Milkman, at some point.
>88 brenzi: I read English Passengers pre-LT, and I was surprised to see I gave it only 3 stars. But I added it to my LT library when I joined and was relying on my memory and a sort of gut feel to assign ratings. Reading your review, I realize this book has stuck with me for at least 15 years and probably deserves a higher rating. Great review, Bonnie.
Hello from Oz.
A rare call in, but I saw the Mitfords and Georgette Heyer mentioned. Read a long time ago, but still fond...
I forget about ebooks. In the old days, The Unknown Ajax was quite hard to chase down. It wasn't reprinted much It took me years to get a hardback, as there was no internet then. I actually miss the walking trail to the 2nd hand bookshops and fetes, etc, and postal queries, to get the last few, perhaps years later. I recall a few books took a decade or more to land! That final catch is such glee!
She wrote 4 modern romance novels, which she prevented from being reprinted, as soon as she was able to afford to shut them down. I managed to get 3 of the 4 but only read one. It is said that she gave away a lot of her personal beliefs in them and one was that she did not believe marriages should be outside of one's class. I was quite shocked at the one I read. Not a happy book. Off the top of my head, one of the modern novels was BARREN CORN and another INSTEAD OF THE THORN. Sorry my memory is letting me down. I think it was 40 plus years ago.
There are 2 novels that are linked, in the Regency romances. It is nice to read them in order. The first involves the love affair of the parents, then you get the little joy of reading of the next generation. I am trying to remember them!
One might have been THESE OLD SHADES. The first has an heroine named Leonie, I think.it was - and a Duke. I can't recall if that title is the first, though.
There are also a half dozenish detective novels, a bit Ngaio Marshish...
Plus, there is a very early publication of one of her novels, that she published with Mills & Boon, in the old hardbacks. I never found it, She wrote it under another name. Might have been Stella something. I read that it is actually an early version of POWDER AND PATCH, but with a different ending that sounds awful, to me!
There is a biography of her, as I recall, but the name won't come. She died of cancer and her husband nursed her to the end, then quite soon after, discovered he, too, had cancer. He wasn't prepared to live through that, so it isn't the happy read you so hope it will be.
In a way, I feel.badly, warning you - but I know I hate to expect a happy read, then discover it is upsetting - I much rather know, so I don't get distressed at the shock of sadness, when I thought it would be, if not jolly, at least gently happy.
I hope I haven't done anything terrible, in joining in. It's just nice to share a fondness, and I am worried about a sick cat. I think I am just trying to stop myself obsessively worrying, fearing the worst.
>100 lkernagh:. Hi there Lori, I hope you enjoy both of those books as much as I did.
>101 lauralkeet: Thank you Laura. Pre-LT I used a four star system to rate books I'd read and converting that to the five star format here on LT was not as easy as you'd think. And relying on memory is an invitation to disaster for me haha. Anyway, I love a good adventure story and English Passengers fits the bill.
>102 roomsofbooks: Hello there. I love your LT handle by the way. And thanks for the stroll down memory lane as far as acquiring older books. I experienced the same thing as you and yes, the exhilaration of the quest ending with success was so very satisfying.
I'm fairly new to the Mitfords and am enjoying exploring the books I've read although I've certainly been aware of them for years. I'm planning to read The Sisters by Mary S. Lovell sometime this year.
I've only read the one book by Georgette Heyer and I enjoyed it so I'm planning to read more. It's a nice break from the lunacy that's a daily occurrence in this country and I appreciate the respite. It's a real joy to be able to acquire nearly anything from the library as an eBook. I have to say I read more on my Kindle than from my shelves. I know I should remedy that because I will not live long enough to read all the books I own right now without considering those I add regularly.
Thanks for visiting.
I've just returned from a Florida vacation with my daughter's family. We were at a resort with a water park and a bunch of pools that allowed us to endure the 95 degree heat in Winter Garden. I left for a couple of days to visit a friend in Jacksonville where it hit 104 one day. Brutal!
Anyway, the munchkins and I had a great time. Such fun for an old grandma lol.
Since I haven't posted about my reading here's what's been happening:
37. Good Evening, Mrs. Craven by Mollie Panter-Downes- 4.3 stars - subtitled the Wartime Stories Of Mollie Panter-Downes- these were stories that appeared in the New Yorker during WWII and informed about the everyday activities of those Brits living their everyday lives while the war raged on. So perceptive and well done with wry humor that added to my enjoyment.
38. November Road by Lou Berney - audio - 4 stars - I tend to choose crime mysteries for my audio books as they seem to take less concentration as I walk or drive. This was a great selection and I can't remember where I heard about it. Set at the time of the JFK assassination it turned out to be a sort of conspiracy theory about whether Oswald was the actual shooter and points to an organized crime connection. Really well done and enjoyable.
39. River Of Darkness by Rennie Airth - 4.2 stars - new series for me since I'm done with the Frieda Klein series this one came recommended by several LTers and is quite good. Set just after WWI in Great Britain, Detective John Madden has suffered from both shell shock and the loss of his wife and infant daughter. He's now on the trail of a psychotic war veteran who is using his bayonets skills to murder. I'm looking forward to the next volume. Really well done.
40. The Day Of The Dead by Nicci French - 3.8 stars - audio - the conclusion to the Frieda Klein series was another very well done Murder mystery as we finally see the end to the search for Dean Reeves which began in the first volume. Great audio selection.
Your Florida vacation with the kiddies sounds great, Bonnie. It's so much fun hanging out with the grands. And, lots of great reading, too!
Hi Beth, it's not the first time I've gone on vacation with them but it really was quite a bit of fun. And of course exhausting at the same time.
I'm really having a stellar reading year, I have to admit 😃
What a fun vacation! And your reading has been pretty good too. "Stellar" is a great way to describe it.
Sounds like so much fun, and hot! I feel for Floridians who have months of the heat and humidity. I loved The Heart's Invisible Furies and hope it works for you. Boyne is really prolific and has a new YA novel about a transgender teenager that I'd like to read.
>108 lauralkeet: Yes Laura. I couldn't be happier with my reading this year. After suffering through a couple of years of being in the reading doldrums I'm really pleased by this turn of events.
>109 vivians: I don't know how people live there personally Vivian. My Jacksonville friend says she tries not to go out much. You can't go shopping and leave your car for any length of time because when you try to get back in it the seats and steering wheel are too hot to touch. I'm loving The Heart's Invisible Furies so far, at the 30% point. Really really good. What took me so long? Haha
Welcome back, Bonnie. It sounds like you had a nice time in FLA. I am glad you are having a good time with Invisible Furies. I loved that one, as well.
I am loving Furious Hours. Keep this one in mind. I have the audio of Milkman lined up and I requested the book, to also have at hand. I also have West, home from the library and I will be getting to that one soon.
I enjoyed November Road. Glad you felt the same.
>111 msf59: We had a great time Mark. I've already added Furious Hours to my Overdrive list so I'll get to it at some point. It sounds good.
I don't know where I heard about November Road but I really enjoyed the audio of it and will also read his latest. Sometimes I'm the last one to discover an author. John Boyne is a case in point.
Bonnie, I thought of you today when I heard my favorite local park (which is within walking distance of our new house!) converted one of the tennis courts to a pickleball court! They are having two "training" sessions but I can't make either one. I plan to keep my eye out for more info, though, since you've made it sound like so much fun.
>113 katiekrug:. Squeeeeeee!!!!! If you give it a try Katie, I only hope you enjoy half as much as I do because then you'll never get enough of it. I'd play every day if I could. I actually prefer to play indoors because the heat that comes off of the tennis courts nearly knocked me out last summer and also the wind is a factor. So pick a coolish time of day if possible when the wind is fairly calm. I'm excited for you now. It's just so much fun. I hope I haven't oversold it lol.
I don't know if anyone else has been watching Chernobyl on HBO but it's been horrifyingly brilliant. It's only six episodes so if you can squeeze it in I highly recommend it. It's just another reason we should be terrified of nuclear anything.
Honestly, I was waiting for someone to chime in on Chernobyl, Bonnie. I have seen no reviews on it at all, so I wasn't sure. You know I always take your opinion seriously.
My daughter is an entertainment writer and had to watch Chernobyl as a work assignment. I'm not sure she would have done so otherwise. We haven't had a chance to discuss her thoughts, but from her writing it's interesting to see how the program is landing on a younger audience, many of whom may have had no idea Chernobyl ever happened. I'm not sure if we will watch it, it sounds pretty intense.
>114 brenzi: - You haven't oversold it, just made me wish I was able to get to the info session....
>116 msf59: >117 lauralkeet: Hi Mark and Laura, I like dark serious drama so Chernobyl was a good fit for me. The fact that it's based on actual events makes it even more enticing and, I think, important. It's certainly intense, that's for sure. Gorbachev thought it was the main event that led to the break up of the Soviet Union. The cover up was simply put, horrifying. Well worth your time if you have an interest.
>118 vivians: Hahaha well I'm not sure when I mentioned it Vivian but yes I've been playing pickle ball two or three times a week for well over a year now. Google it. It's so much fun. I've also made so many new friends to go out to lunch or dinner with that it's been a boon socially too. All pluses😊
>119 katiekrug: Well I'm going to assume if they're starting up a new venue, they'll have someone available who can show new players how to play. Something made them decide it was something that people wanted so they'll want it to succeed.
I haven't played pickleball but know several people who do and are just as crazy about it as you are Bonnie so I doubt you've oversold it.
I may have to play pickleball instead of Duplicate Bridge. It sounds like it would be way more fun!
Well I've been in literary nirvana the past week or so and I couldn't be more pleased.
#41. The Blackhouse by Peter May - 4.4 stars well this may be the best murder mystery I've read (and I mean ever) with the exception of The Magpie Murders but this one was just so darned atmospheric and at the same time intimate. I had it on audio and highly recommend it in that format just for the Gaelic accent. Sooo well done.
It's set on Lewis Island in the Hebrides off the northern coast of Scotland where they never seem to have an instance of tolerable weather and that played a part in the atmosphere I mentioned. It added so much to the darkness of the narrative. Fin McLeod has returned to the island after an eighteen year absence to investigate a brutal murder that may be related to another murder in Edinburgh. Fin was in charge of that investigation. The element that I thought added so much to this fine mystery was the return again and again to Fin' childhood: his childhood friends on the island, his childhood experiences and heartaches, his family and his losses. This all added to the intimacy of the story.
This is the first book in the trilogy about Lewis Island and I'm really looking forward to the next two volumes.
#42. The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne - 5 stars- I may be the only person left who hadn't read this book but I'm so glad I listened to Mark and Vivian and everyone else who loved it because it was spectacular. It's the story of the life of Cyril Avery who was born to an unwed sixteen year old in 1945 in County Cork in Ireland and adopted by a well to do couple in Dublin. Cyril narrates the story from the age of seven until 2015 when he is near death. From fairly early on Cyril realizes he is not like other boys and has no real feelings for girls.
The book is almost six hundred pages but it just flew by due to Boyne's incredible skill at moving the story along. He stuck to a formula of ending each section with a bit of a cliff hanger and then picking it up in the next section, seven years later. In addition, the humor had me snickering along the way even though the novel is dark overall. The author absolutely skewers the Catholic Church, the bigotry against the LGBT community, Ireland in general, sex trafficking and political corruption. The characters in the story are so well developed that even the hateful ones are interesting.
I chose to ignore what I considered the book's only flaw and that was an unreasonable reliance on coincidence but honestly it really made the narrative so much more, I don't know, interesting. (Horribly inept word but there you have it.) even with that flaw, this may turn out to be my book of the year. Fabulous.
>125 brenzi: I have the Peter May trilogy on my wishlist thanks to Lois (avaland), but you’ve just pushed it to the top of the list, Bonnie. Thank you!
Hooray for Invisible Furies, Bonnie. It is such a good read. I am so glad you are reading Confederates. R.I.P., Mr. Horwitz.
I also remember enjoying the Hodgman memoir. Fun stuff.
Okay, you got me. You're NOT the only person left who hasn't read The Heart's Invisible Furies. Looks like one I should get to sooner rather than later.
Here's another who hasn't read The Heart's Invisible Furies but you made me want to read it (well almost, 600 pages is a daunting). I'll keep it in mind.
>127 NanaCC: Well Colleen so many people have recommended it so I think you probably will too.
>128 richardderus: Ok Richard, that's kind of like piling on lol but of course I love it.
>129 msf59: Yes Mark, I'm enjoying the Hodgson humor. I wasn't sure where I picked up this recommendation but I should've known lol.
>130 lauralkeet: I think you might like it Laura. Maybe not as much as me but still....
>131 vivians: Keep those recs coming Vivian lol.
>132 katiekrug: And you are waiting for.......hahahaha. Just kidding Katie.
>133 RebaRelishesReading: I read it on Kindle and never use the numbering option Reba. I always go with the percentage instead but at the end I looked to see how long it was. Believe me it never lagged for one second for me so it didn't seem that long.
>134 brenzi: I did put it on the wish list so I'm leaning that way :)
>135 RebaRelishesReading: I usually avoid long books myself Reba. The older I get the less I feel like reading long ones but I have a couple of really long ones on my shelf that I'm actually thinking about taking a stab at. I may see if there's a way to divide them up and read one part per month and see how that works out.
This is going to be a terrific year for some of my favorite authors:
June - Kate Atkinson - Big Sky
July - Richard Russo - Chances Are
August - MARY Doria Russell - The Women Of the Copper County
August - Louise Penny - A Better Man
September - Ann Patchett - The Dutch House
October - Elizabeth Strout - Olive Again
And in March............
Hilary Mantel - The Mirror and the Light
It's a great time to be a reader!!!
ETA Winter 2020 - Julia Spencer Fleming - Hid From Our Eyes
>137 brenzi: I see quite a few on this list that I am definitely going to read!
>136 brenzi: That sounds like a good approach, Bonnie. When I was on the Pulitzer challenge I kept three or four really long ones to the end (just kept putting them off and putting them off) but I actually was glad to have read them once I did.
>137 brenzi: That is a wonderful list. I'm new to Russell (but loved Doc) and have been a big fan of the others for a long time. Off to get my pre-orders in :)
Ok well I knew I'd have a hard time finding a good read after the two outstanding ones I recently finished and I was right. I finished listening to Vacationland by John Hodgman which only held my interest very mildly. It had a few humorous moments but all in all.....meh. Luckily, it was quite short.
Then I decided after about 120 pages to abandon Confederates in the Attic. I should've loved this book but I found myself doing just about anything in the world except read it. When I went outside and pruned the shrubs I'd been putting off for weeks I said, "that's it. I've got to read something else."
I'm now back in the Hebrides with Peter May's second volume in the trilogy I started on audio, this one is entitled The Lewis Man and I'm already hooked.
And I'm reading The Gentlewomen by Laura Talbot which Laura recently loved. I hope you're right Laura.
>142 lauralkeet: Not to worry Laura. I'm already enjoying it.
>143 BLBera: it just seems to me that I haven't seen so many favorite authors publishing at once Beth. Good for us!
>144 vivians: Yes I'm already happy I made the decision to let that one go Vivian. I hope you're listening to Coffin Road. These books are sooooo good on audio.
>145 RebaRelishesReading: Well I guess my work here is done then Reba lol.
>147 richardderus: and then this afternoon I ordered a copy of Epitaph. Since I just finished Doc and I thought it would be a good idea to read that soon.
>137 brenzi: WOW! And these all happen to be, some of my favorite authors, as well. Yah!! Another great year for book releases.
Happy Saturday, Bonnie.
>137 brenzi: I favorited the list of new releases. Thanks for making it easier for me to keep up with the authors who don’t let me down. I didn’t realize Russo had a new one coming out.
Okay, I’m going to cave and add Peter May to my list of authors to try.
You are so right: “It’s a great time to be a reader!”
>151 Donna828: Oh I don't think you'll regret the Peter May books and I highly recommend the audio versions Donna. I'm in the middle of the second one in the trilogy and honestly the narration is just sooooo good that I find myself wishing I was in the Hebrides where the rain, the sea and the harsh conditions make life miserable. Why do I yearn for a miserable life? Because I'm a sucker for the Gaelic brogue. Hahaha
I have a copy of the first in the May trilogy. I'm going to move it to my "read soon" pile, hopefully not causing an avalanche. :) My summer reading list gets longer and longer.
Busy busy busy summer so far. After getting back from Florida a couple of weeks ago we celebrated Cole's second birthday (how did that happen??) and last week Mia graduated from Pre-K (What???!!)
and on Tues day I will be heading to Montreal for a girlfriend holiday with my two girls (Sara and Mia).
So these two:
Also, said good bye to a longtime friend who is moving back to the UK after 43 years in this country. Very sad to see her go but she'll return, often she says, and I may be heading to her new home for a visit cuz why not?
On the reading front:
The Gentlewomen by Laura Talbot 4.5 stars
If you enjoy unlikable characters do I have a book for you. Miss Bolby is a gentlewomen, meaning, in her view anyway, that she has attained a perch of high status and, katie bar the door, she will put up with no one attempting to pass themselves off as a gentlewoman who doesn't really measure up to her high standards. When she takes on a position as governess she demeans the new secretary who claims to be a gentlewoman but is she really? Questionable in Miss Bolby's estimation. That said I really enjoyed this novel and gobbled it up in just a couple of sittings. And joy, it was on my shelf for a change.
The Lewis Man by Peter May - audio - 4.6 stars
I can't praise the audio of this trilogy enough. It is just marvelous. The Gaelic brogue is just mesmerizing. In this second volume, Fin McLeod returns to try and figure out who the body of a man found in a peat bog is and who murdered him. I love that this author gives us a crime to figure out and also a personal involvement that goes back many years. It adds a lot to the narrative. But its the audio narration that makes me absolutely love this series. So good.
Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips 4.2 stars
This debut novel is absolutely stunning. Set on the Russian peninsula of Kamchatka, it opens with the apparent kidnapping of two young sisters. Each subsequent chapter describes characters who are somehow connected to this kidnapping in some way, mostly women. The author lays bare the abusive treatment that women and indigents suffer in Russia today. It gets to the point that you wonder if the girls will ever be found, dead or alive. But just wait, because the last chapter will knock you out. As I said, a stunning debut. Can't wait to see what this talented author will do next.
>159 jnwelch: Thanks Joe. We're all trying to figure out how she could go back after such a long time but she just made this decision and is carrying through with it. But you're right, good excuse to visit the UK.
I love the picture of your grandchildren. It’s great being a grandmother. Mine make me happy every day.
I'm so glad you enjoyed The Gentlewomen as much as I did. Such a gem. And the grandkids are just lovely -- and growing up so fast! Cute picture.
Very eager to hear what you think about The Wolf and the Watchman. I heard an author interview and was intrigued!
Great photo of your grandkids!
Any excuse to visit the U.K. is a good one imo.
Lots of good reading going on it seems. The Gentlewoman is most tempting. I may look for that one in audio.
>163 NanaCC: they're a total and complete joy Colleen. I'm so happy to have them in my life.
>164 lauralkeet: Thanks Laura. It's hard to believe we loved a novel with such an unlikeable character Laura, but it was so well written. I loved the young girls who had to put up with Miss Bolby's nonsense.
>165 BLBera: I'll be eager to see if you enjoy Disappearing Earth as much as I did Beth. Quite the debut.
>166 vivians: The Wolf and the Watchman is not for the faint of heart Vivian. Stockholm in the 1790s was a miserable place to be from what I can tell so far.
>167 RebaRelishesReading: Good luck Reba. I'm not sure it's available on audio. I read the Virago that was published in 1985 but it as originally published in 1952.
This came through on my FB feed today and is quite concerning to me. I'm a huge patron of Overdrive and although I have many books on my Kindle that I actually purchased I can't remember the last time I read one of them.. I have been taking advantage of the books offered through Prime Reading which I just stumbled on and had no idea what it was about. At any rate, this is discouraging to me as a borrower of eBooks and audiobooks from both the Buffalo and Erie County Library and also the New York Public Library.
Penguin Random House comprises the vast majority of ebooks published on a yearly basis and Macmillan and Hachette almost comprise of the rest. These companies have recently revised their contracts with the public library. Libraries will now have to purchase ebooks that are only good for two year contracts and then will have to devote the resources to see what books they want to buy again and which ones they do not. This is a far cry from the old policy which only had the library make a one time purchase for every ebook they wanted and could loan it out with abandon. Major publishers are now deliberately sabotaging the library system and their rational is they don’t want to devalue their front-list books and want people to buy them, instead of borrow them.”
I don’t think this is deliberate sabotage, but I do think this does a huge disservice to so many communities that rely on the library system and punishes readers for not being able to afford a book when it publishes.
>169 brenzi: I think a letter to the publishing company is in order. Thanks, Bonnie. This is concerning.
>169 brenzi: I'm afraid that's the corporate culture here -- make as much money as you possibly can for the shareholders and d**n everyone else. Sad :(
And you're right, The Gentlewoman isn't available in audio. I've put it on my wish list (which is thriving) and hope to get it in some form some time :)
Hi Bonnie, just stopping by to get caught up.
>157 brenzi: - What an adorable picture!
I am looking forward to your thoughts on The Wolf and the Watchman. I read the e-book version earlier this year and was very impressed by the author's ability to capture the dark side of historical Stockholm.
>169 brenzi: - Wow. I agree. Corporate greed is at the crux of this. This article shows that you are far from being alone with this concern, and that action is being taken: https://goodereader.com/blog/digital-library-news/the-ala-is-taking-the-high-pri...
>170 BLBera: You're probably right Beth. It would take an enormous push by dedicated eBook readers to change the mind of the corporate culture.
>171 RebaRelishesReading: I hope you manage to find The Gentlewomen Reba and enjoy it as much as I did.
>172 lkernagh: Oh thanks for that link Lori. I hope something comes of that but I have so little faith in our congress that I'm fairly skeptical. The "dark side of Stockholm" is putting it mildly lol.
>173 msf59: Hi Mark, Disappearing Earth is such a good novel. I think you'd enjoy it.
So I recently returned from a brief trip to Montreal with my daughter Sara and Mia. Sara had to go to a conference for work and Mia and I just went along for fun. And we had a great time. Although I have to say, it's not a particularly kid friendly city. We were turned away from a couple of restaurants for lunch because children were not allowed due to the fact that alcohol was served and they didn't have the license for that. Made it rather hit and miss for us to find a place to eat so we had to consult with the hotel concierge ahead of time. But we did have a fun trip between the pool, a fabulous park called Mont Royal and terrific food. We even stumbled on a Barbie Expo and if you think that wasn't a highlight of a four yearold's day, think again.
Toasting with a four year old who is sipping apple juice is fun:
And a long car ride demands certain well, niceties.
On the reading front:
Faro's Daughter by Georgette Heyer - 4 stars
Another absolutely delightful time spent in Heyer's world. I would never have predicted I would enjoy these novels as they are complete fluff compared to my usual reading. The usual format: who will end up being married in the end. Not too difficult to predict but the journey getting there is just so enjoyable. One quibble: the overuse of the word odious. I can't tell you how many times it was used but take my word for it. There were way too many. Oh well, who cares. Fun!
AND STILL LISTENING TO THE GRUESOME:
>176 brenzi: What a fun trip! Well, except for the restaurant challenges. The Barbie exhibit takes me back. My oldest wasn't much older than Mia when she had a birthday party and nearly everyone gave her something Barbie-related. It was a bit much, actually!
>177 brenzi: #47 is a delight, odious overusages aside, so I'm thrilled to see you take to it.
The Wolf and the Watchman is something I have to absorb in small doses. It's brutal indeed. Chapter 6 bid fair to break my heart:
>175 PaulCranswick: Thank you Paul. I hope things are looking up for you.
>178 lauralkeet: The thing that shocked me Laura was that they had this enormous display of Barbies, most of which I'd never seen, so you'd have thought there would've been a display of Barbies for sale but no one thought to set up shop. Incredible missed opportunity. Because little girls want to own these Barbies, or any Barbies, when they're at a Barbie Expo. We had to go out of our way to find a toy store because after seeing all the Barbies Mia wanted nothing else lol.
>179 RebaRelishesReading: So much fun Reba.
>180 richardderus: I'm surprised I'm still listening to The Wolf and the Watchman as it's easily the most brutal narrative I've ever read. Just when I think it can't get much worse...it does. But it's such a compelling story. And thanks for leading me to Georgette Heyer. I'm really enjoying the books. Either The Reluctant Widow or The Devil's Cub will be next.
HI Bonnie, I just had a wonderful visit to your thread and seeing all the great books that you are reading. I picked up some good ideas for future reads!
The Barbie exhibit looks like a little girl's dream? Did they have a gift shop? I used to make Barbie clothes for my daughter and have passed them on to Scout, who likes the shiniest frilliest ones. Great pictures, by the way.
I know exactly what you mean about Heyer. I read some of them in my teens, but I think I appreciate them more now; I love the meticulous research and the humor. I'm currently listening to Cotillion, which is going slowly because the weather here hasn't been conducive to long walks.
>182 mdoris: Hi Mary, I'm glad you found some good ideas. I have to say I've done some fabulous reading this year.
>183 BLBera: No Beth, they really missed the boat. So we were forced to go look for a toy store when we finished looking at the Barbies because of course we had to buy one. Why that wouldn't have occurred to someone in the planning stages is a head scratcher.
Pretty hot for walking here too Beth but we have the cooling breezes off of Lake Erie that has kept it pretty pleasant.
Fall and Rise: the Story of 9/11 by Mitchell Zuckoff
”With time, news becomes history. And history, it’s been said, is what happened to other people.”
Where to start. I already knew all I thought I needed to know about this horrific day but no. Not even close. Mitchell Zuckoff managed to take events that we all are very well versed in and create a page turner par excellence. I mean, it read like a thriller where I had no idea what was going to happen next. He did it by filling the narrative with personal stories of both survivors and those who never stood a chance and yet I didn’t know until the last possible second which it would be. And he did it also by painstakingly developing a timeline that step by step revealed the horrors that we’re all familiar with. And yet, he made these events seem like they just happened and I hadn’t really heard about it before.
Of course I heard at the time about the ghastly communications problems between federal agencies that prevented basic (and I mean basic) information, crucially needed in the case of multiple attacks, from being shared even on a rudimentary level but to think that the NYPD and the NYFD couldn’t easily communicate vital information was fairly shocking. All the communication problems added to the incredible chaos that ruled the day especially in NYC but even at the Pentagon. Granted, these problems have been addressed and hopefully the chances of another day like 9/11 are less likely but just reading about it enraged me. I assumed too much about protections guaranteed by the government.
Please don’t think you know all you need to know about what happened that day. This brilliant book will change your mind and remind you that we must never forget. These brave, passionate, real people will stay with me for a long, long time. Incredible book, wonderful writing. So worthy of at least five stars.
You will love this terrific narrative non- fiction Mark. Guaranteed my friend. I'm sure the audio is great.
Well I'm wondering if you're reading an ARC of The Nickel Boys because I can't find it at my library yet. Hmmmm.
>185 brenzi: Wow. That does sound like a good one, Bonnie.
I'm waiting on Big Sky (no touchstone for some reason) from my local library, hopefully it will be in my hands next week. While waiting at the dentist office yesterday, I read the piece about Colson Whitehead in TIME magazine, and promptly added my name to the library hold list for The Nickel Boys. I love it when I remember to do that before the book is released and everyone and their brother requests it.
>185 brenzi: Oh my. That's just...I think it's wonderful that the big event can be made fresh, but I am not one who can endure a return to it. I lived on Rector Place and then Maiden Lane for a decade and the WTC was my subway stop. So very hard to look at the world the same way after such a huge slice of it gets taken.
I'm also reading Big Sky. I'm enjoying it after a bit of a slow start to the book. As a Canadian, I'd like to apologize for your less than stellar visit to Montreal. I'm sorry it was not more kid friendly. I've only been to Montreal once back when I was a kid. I know that here in BC we have the same issues with a lot of places that serve alcohol not being also kid friendly. I guess it's the Canadian alcohol laws. I can recall a place that my dad really loved, but if we went with my then teen-aged sons, we could only get limited seating parties with under 19 aged kids. If they had to go the bathroom, my boys would have to walk out and around so as not to cross into the " drinking area." And yet we adults were allowed to have alcohol on the area that we were all seated. I'm not sure at all how the liquor licensing works here.
>192 vancouverdeb: No need to apologize Deborah. It's just a quirky law to me. We had a great time and other than horrible road construction hang ups in the downtown (we actually were detoured through a parking garage!) where our hotel was located I loved what we saw of the city. Everyone was very friendly too.
The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag
An impressive debut mystery that is so gruesome that I wasn’t sure I could finish it. Listening to the audio version made it somehow seem more real and was very well executed (poor choice of words) by the three actors who played the parts. It took me longer than usual to finish because I was on vacation and had no opportunity to listen for four or five days and feel like I have been reading the book for a very long time.
In Stockholm in 1793, a mutilated body is discovered by some boys in an open sewer and the watchman, Mikel Cardel, a veteran who lost his arm in the recent war with Russia, is tasked with helping the brilliant prosecutor Cecil Winge (the Wolf), with the investigation. Winge is being consumed by tuberculosis and doesn’t have long to live.
The story is told in four parts and just when you thought you might have an inkling about what happened, the plot shifts, a few more multi-dimensional characters are introduced and your theory goes out the window. An absolutely brilliant book, hard to stop listening to even with the horrifying elements. The author richly describes the horrid conditions in a deplorable workhouse for women, the extreme poverty of the time, the corrupt government in Stockholm and the grubbiness and filth of the city. The worst human behavior you can imagine takes place and left me gasping at times. I would find myself returning from my walk, at first unable to turn off the audio and then finally turning it off and just standing in my kitchen and letting settle what I’d just absorbed.
Some have compared this to The Alienist but for me it was much darker than that novel. And much darker than Dickens’ Victorian London too. I don’t think there’s really a book to compare it to.
The fourth part brings together all of the elements that have not seemed to be connected but of course they are. The twist at the end provides a much needed sense of satisfaction. Highly recommended for those who are not squeamish and want some insight into that particular time and place.
>185 brenzi: Great review of Fall and Rise, Bonnie. It sounds like something I should read but I'm not sure I have the internal fortitude (as my father would have said).
I loved Backman's books. Hope you do too.
Are you surviving the heat/humidity?
>196 msf59: Thanks Mark, The Wolf and the Watchman will knock your socks off and I'm pretty sure you're going to love The Great Believers. At least I hope so. Such a great novel.
>197 tymfos: Hi Terry, great to see you. I'm glad you'll have time from your busy school schedule to squeeze in some good books.
>198 RebaRelishesReading: Hi Reba, Heat/humidity is right. This morning according to my Fit Bit I burned 360 calories playing pickle ball. That's a record for me. I hope I sweated off a few pounds hahaha.
I just noticed I missed a couple of friends up there:
>190 lauralkeet: I'd much rather get my library books as eBooks Laura for two reasons: I don't have to go to the library to get them and new books from the physical library are only loaned for seven days. Now I can get a book read in seven days normally bu I don't like the pressure. That said I requested the new Colson Whitehead which is a short book and I'll have Big Sky done within the seven days I'm sure.
>191 richardderus: I understand completely Richard. I'm not sure what drew me to it but it was prolly Suzanne's comments.
>200 brenzi: new books from the physical library are only loaned for seven days.
Wow, that's short! Here we get three weeks even for new books. I love to borrow ebooks for the same reason you do, and if there's a waiting list I usually request both formats to see which one "wins". The physical copies are often more readily available so I've had fewer ebook loans recently.
Yes the physical copies are almost always more readily available Laura. But it's got to be a book I'm dying to read to go that route. I'm just a few pages from the end of Big Sky and it's been quite a ride.
>185 brenzi: Great comments on Fall and Rise, Bonnie. I will look for this one.
I'm also reading Big Sky right now and loving it - about 100 pages in. I think much of my day might be devoted to that.
>194 brenzi: So many people have used gruesome in the description for this one that I've decided to pass on it. I'm a very squeamish person, and while I can skim over the icky parts, I think I'll skip this one.
Big Sky by Kate Atkinson 4.3 stars
”From the pyramids to the sugar plantations to the brothels of the world, exploitation was the name of the game.” (Page 340)
Well let me just say, it was worth the wait. Atkinson is at the top of her game if there was any doubt. Jackson Brodie is back, doing the mundane detective chores like following a man whose wife suspects him of cheating. This seems to be his mainstay at the present, retired as he is from the police. He’s got Julia in his life again, as well as his son Nathan and seems to be living a rather hum drum life but no…. it doesn’t take long until he finds himself involved in a sticky situation or two when he’s hired by a woman to find out who’s following her. The back story of this whole situation sets the stage for a modern day crime syndicate that’s as old as time itself. And sickening in every aspect.
I find Atkinson’s writing to always be the hook for me. Droll humor fills the narrative (After reminiscing about watching a movie on video with his daughter when she was little Jackson muses “Video! Dear God, like something from the ark."), and sympathetic characters as well as a fair number for you to hate. Some might quibble about the idea that justice has nothing to do with the law but I’m not among them.
So basically I loved it, devoured it in a couple of days and wonder when we’ll get the next one. Oh God, I hope it’s not another ten year wait.
>2 brenzi: What a lovely image of your two grandchildren. My, but they are growing!
>205 brenzi: Enjoyed your review, Bonnie and I shall definitely pick that one up soon. xx
>205 brenzi: I’m looking forward to this one, Bonnie! It was a long time coming.
So glad that you like Georgette Heyer, even if not the word 'odious'.
I admit I did a bit of skipping since my last visit in April - have you decided on glasses or the glasses-on/glasses-off approach after your cataract surgery. I use prescription glasses that are for reading/computer - bifocals - but take them off for distance stuff. Irritating but I don't like trifocals.
>211 lauralkeet: 🤷♀️
>212 PaulCranswick: It's a good one Paul.
>213 NanaCC: Ten years apparently, Colleen.
>214 karenmarie: Hi Karen, I'm using readers for close work like reading or typing on my iPad like I'm doing right now but other than that, nothing. There's a lot of glasses on the tip of my nose so I can see over the top of them or glasses hanging from my shirt collar and I must say I've gotten used to this new normal.
>215 richardderus: actually quite a brilliant novel Richard, I thought.
Hooray! Ah, another Big Sky fan. I need more Jackson Brodie in my life and can’t wait another ten years for a fix. Kate Atkinson is such a tease...
My granddaughters would have loved that Barbie experience. You look so happy to be with your sweet grands, Bonnie. They keep us young, don’t they?
>217 Donna828: They certainly do keep us young Donna. It's go, go, go for me keeping up with a four, almost five year old and especially a two year old boy. Mia was a breeze in comparison. This guy is all boy haha.
There, There by Tommy Orange
A dozen Urban Native Americans, on their way to a Powwow in their hometown of Oakland, alternately tell their stories and thereby, characterize the lives of indigenous natives across the country. Damaged by addiction, alcoholism, poverty and violence, they each portray their life experiences in a way that is both heartbreaking and enlightening.
I was particularly struck by Orange’s incredible ability to develop these complex characters and because there were so many of them I found myself taking notes of the role of each and as they would reappear I’d check my notes and add to them. At a certain point, the interconnection of the characters began to reveal itself.
At the final event, the Powwow in Oakland, we are actually left to draw our own conclusions. Hardly my favorite way to conclude a narrative, the power of the ending cannot be denied. Highly recommended.
>219 brenzi: I'm glad you liked it, Bonnie. I share your views about the ending. The ambiguity increases its power, somehow.
>221 klobrien2: Oh ok Karen, that's good to hear. I haven't seen too many people here on LT who have read it but I loved her All My Puny Sorrows.
>222 lauralkeet: It was a very powerful ending but didn't it make you wonder Laura? Like will it all be revealed next season like on tv haha. And did you have to take notes or were you able to keep everything straight?
Yeah I did wonder, Bonnie, and those feelings returned the other day as I was telling someone else about this book. I thought "where are they now?" and then remembered it was fiction. I didn't take notes but I flipped back and forth a lot. I should have written things down because I probably missed a few things.
I've read plenty of books with lengthy character lists Laura, but I haven't kept notes like this since I read Middlemarch when I was coming out of an anesthesia haze lol. I thought it might just be my old brain failing to hang onto details about so many people lol.
I knew you'd love The Great Believers Mark. I mean really.
And yes, I will look forward to more of his work. And you're right about the prologue, like his hair was on fire.
We finally started the HBO series, Chernobyl and it is absolutely excellent. I know you loved it too. 2 eps in. Wow! I hope to get one of the books about this disaster too.
Oh Mark I found that series to be very powerful and horrifying. And I've got Midnight in Chernobyl on my Overdrive list.
52. Beartown by Fredrik Backman
I went into this not realizing that it was a book about people who were obsessed with youth hockey. I probably wouldn't have read it had I known because I have a tremendous bias against the whole idea of youth team hockey. I may get booed out of this forum but after a boatload of years as a teacher and principal I've seen it all including overwrought parents pushing their kids to go all out for this sport whether they want to or not. I've seen the sad little faces of the siblings of players waiting to be picked up from school for the weekend tournaments where they will be considered extra baggage so big brother can shine while they have to figure out what to do with themselves because watching the games gets old very quickly. And the players are usually pushed hard to perform. Fun? Not so much.
This book was about a whole town that's obsessed with the game. And the adults who are running it and the parents involved are pretty horrible people. There's the expected star player who turns out to be a real well, ----head because he's been told for years how wonderful he is not be his own uncaring snobbish parents but by others. And there's a sexual assault that you could see coming from a mile away.
I don't know why I read this book. It just made me angry.
53. Women Talking by Miriam Toews
The fact that this novel is based on a true story makes me shudder. It takes place in a Bolivian village occupied by a Mennonite community. There have been a series of what are described as "ghost rapes" where women and girls as young as three (!) have been sexually assaulted after being drugged while they sleep during the night. After much hesitation by the man at the head of this sect, the police are finally called in to investigate and several men have been arrested.
While all of the men are either under arrest or away at the main city where the men are being held trying to arrange bail, the male school teacher is secretly taking the minutes of the meeting of the women involved as they try to list the pros and cons of leaving or staying. The problems are immense. They are illiterate for the most part and have never set foot outside of their small community. As they discuss their choices it becomes obvious that the patriarchy has left them defenseless and with few options. Highly recommended.
Well Mark, I've only listened to about half an hour of it so far.. Stay tuned.
Happy reading week ahead, Bonnie. Hoping all the books will work for you and not dredge up nasty passages from school life.
>232 brenzi: I'm relieved to see that I'm not the only one who didn't enjoy Beartown. I really liked A Man Called Ove, was less enthused about My Grandmother Asked me, but Beartown didn't work for me. I just felt it was contrived and had trouble caring about any of it.
I started Big Sky last night and stayed up way too late....so far it's meeting expectations, thank goodness!
I liked Beartown more than you did Bonnie, but I don’t have strong feelings about hockey culture because it’s less of a “thing” here. You’ve given me a new perspective! And anyway, the book didn’t live up to the hype.
>238 richardderus: Thanks Richard. I'm pretty much loving what I'm reading right now.
>239 vivians: I loved A Man Called Ove Vivian and the Swedish movie was very good too. But this one just fell flat. I'm sure you're enjoying Big Sky.
>240 lauralkeet: Well youth hockey is overwhelming here Laura. I pray my grandson doesn't get involved in it at any point. I'll certainly give them my opinion about it like I always do lol.
Bonnie, I am slowly (very slowly) learning to stay away from books that carry negative connotations for me. I find it very difficult to read books with child abuse and/or animal cruelty. They just make me sad. I can watch the news if I want to feel that way, right? I like to keep an open mind, but some things are simply a no-go for me.
>242 Donna828: I certainly understand that but there are plenty of other books out there for you to read Donna. Way too many books actually. Of course I had no idea that this element was involved in Women Talking before reading it and as shocking as it is it's odd that I read about it at the same time that all this Epstein horror is in the news. On top of that I watched the Disappearance of Madeline McCann on Netflix and of course now it's suspected that she was taken by a pedophile ring. So more horrors. It's an ugly world out there, and it's gets uglier by the day.
>232 brenzi:, >239 vivians: I didn't have the same reaction to Beartown but probably because no-one plays hockey in So.Cal so I haven't seen the same problems you have. That said, it wasn't my favorite Backman, that was definitely A Man Called One which I didn't expect to like and ended up loving. I had trouble with My Grandmother Asked Me... which felt contrived to me. But, yes, definitely don't read books (well fiction anyway) that make you angry or sad.
Books about the deleterious social effects of sports aren't my jam either. I experience the reality, and when living in Texas was bitterly impacted by it.
So no thanks Author Backman.
>246 BLBera: I keep wondering why I didn't pass on it Beth.
>247 vancouverdeb: and yet I thought everybody loved it Deborah. Hmmmm.
>248 richardderus: Well my kids participated in sports Richard, but I have to say youth team hockey is a different animal altogether. I would compare it to high school football in Texas but I have little experience with that. Just what I've read about it really.
Is anybody else watching Year After Year on HBO? Emma Thompson plays a Trump like politician in the UK a few years into the future. It is absolutely terrific if you want to be horrified at what the near future might look like for all of us.
The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney
This is the second book by Lou Berney that I've listened to and just like November Road I really enjoyed this mystery/crime/thriller novel. He used the same format, one that I really like, that alternates between two protagonists and two time periods. It's set in Oklahoma City and actually explores three separate mysteries. Wyatt Rivers is a private detective living in Las Vegas when a friend asks him to look into the vandalism that's occurring to the business of a friend in Oklahoma City. Meanwhile in the same city Juliana is trying to find her sister who has been missing for twenty six years. And Wyatt himself is still troubled by an experience he had as a teenager working at a movie theater in Oklahoma City.
The audio was just terrific and I highly recommend it. Berney has a series ( three books so far) but at this point I have too many series going and won't explore that....yet.
>251 brenzi: - I have this one on my Kindle. Sounds like I should maybe nudge it further up the to-read list.
The Long Take by Robin Robertson
And I'm probably going to finish up Amos Oz's outstanding memoir A Tale Of Love and Darkness tomorrow. The good thing is it's from my shelves. I keep saying I need to read more from my shelves but newer books always seem to push those aside.
And I'm well into the graphic memoir Good Talk by Mira Jacob.
Bonnie is buzzing right along! I can't find my ARC of The Long and Faraway Gone, so maybe I will track down the audio. Hooray for The Long Take. You might have wanted the print book available too. A lot of the rich prose, is worth basking in. Lots of great movies mentioned too. And hooray for Good Talk. It is such a terrific read.
I am enjoying the audio of Big sky in the early going.
The audio of The Long and Faraway Gone is really good Mark. Berney is getting to be a crime favorite for me. I'll be watching for his next book.
The Long Take audio is also really good. It probably would've been good to have the print edition available but I don't have much left to listen to. It was very short.
Yay for Atkinson.
I loved Good Talk, Bonnie. It's certainly a relevant read, and it emphasizes the effects on kids of some of the current language that our president spouts.
>258 BLBera: Very relevant Beth. I won't even turn any news on when Mia is around. It's all too despairing and harmful for kids to hear.
I've finished three books bing bang Brady in the last couple of days. And I need to gather some thoughts because they were all very very good and A Tale Of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz was amazing really. And I should probably think about starting a new thread at some point in the near future. These are all things I should do. But will I do any of them in the next few hours?? Not likely hahaha.
I'm now reading The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead.
Also I saw the Booker longlist was released and when I saw that My Sister, the Serial Killer was on it I thought, Good Lord if this is the kind of lightweight stuff they're now nominating for the Booker I have to wonder about the importance of this prize anymore.
I'm so frustrated by the Booker! So few of the titles are available either in the US or on audible....
>262 vancouverdeb: >263 vivians: >265 BLBera: apparently the Booker judges saw something we didn't see Deborah, Vivian and Beth. I'm not exactly surprised. After all I've often thought the judges picked the wrong book as the Booker winner and who would know better than me hahaha. The Finkler Question comes immediately to mind. 3.03 average LT rating. I rest my case.
>265 BLBera: I don't care about the lack of U.S. writers either Richard. That's what the Pulitzer and the National Book Award are for.
Hi, Bonnie! I am sure you are having a fine time with The Nickel Boys, despite the horrors. It is so well-written.
>233 brenzi: Hi Bonnie! I have Women Talking on loan from the library and I'm hoping I can get to this slim book soon. Your review makes it all the more enticing.
I bought The Nickel Boys yesterday but probably won't get to it for a while. I hope it isn't as (emotionally) difficult to read as I fear.
A Tale of Love and Darkness by Amos Oz
Another fabulous book that's been languishing on my shelves for eons, this is Amos Oz's memoir. It was long and detailed (some readers couldn't handle the minutiae) and I loved every minute of it. The history of the birth of the state of Israel, the battle for the Jewish homeland that continues to this day, is brilliantly interspersed with the tragedy that was Oz's early childhood culminating with his mother's suicide which is hinted at almost from the beginning. The writing is lyrical and wonderful:
"I understood where I came from: from a dreary tangle of sadness and pretense, of longing, absurdity, inferiority and provincial pomposity, sentimental education and anachronistic ideals, repressed traumas, resignation and helplessness. Helplessness of the acerbic, domestic variety, where small-time liars pretended to be dangerous terrorists and heroic freedom fighters, where unhappy bookbinders invented formulas for universal salvation, where dentists whispered confidentially to all their neighbors about their protracted personal correspondence with Stalin, where piano teachers, kindergarten teachers, and housewives tossed and turned tearfully at night from stifled yearning for an emotion-laden artistic life, where compulsive writers wrote endless disgruntled letters to the editor of Davar, where elderly bakers saw Maimonides and the Baal Shem Tov in their dreams, where nervy self-righteous trade-union hacks kept an appartchik's eye on the rest of the local residents, where cashiers at the cinema or the cooperative shop composed poems and pamphlets at night." (Page 492)
Very highly recommended for anyone who loves beautiful writing learning about the history of the world.
Good Talk by Mira Jacob
I'm not a big fan of graphic novels but I picked up this one at the library after seeing a couple of LTers raving about it and they were right. A beautiful book where Jacob tells the story of her marriage to a white man (she is East Indian) and the difficulty of maneuvering her way in today's world. She is so worried about the hazards her young son will encounter as the hate speech ushered in by Donald Trump becomes more and more difficult to deal with.
This may be the book to turn me into a regular graphic novel reader. Very highly recommended.
The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
This is beautifully written but hard to gut your way though. Based on a true story, the narrative concerns the life of Elwood Curtis, and African American youth living in Tallahassee in the 1960s. Abandoned by his mother and father, Elwood is living with his Aunt Harriet, working hard at school, and following the advice of Martin Luther King as much as he can. He excels at his studies when he innocently gets arrested in the company of a man who has stolen the vehicle they are riding in. Elwood ends up at the Nickel Academy, an infamous reform school in Florida where he suffers unbelievable abuse. He is determined to get out and back to living the life Martin Luther King espoused.
This is gut wrenching stuff and in the present political situation, which gets worse each day to the point that I want to tear my hair out, an ultimately important book about race relations in this country and the dire conditions that existed for the African American community in the 60s. Unfortunately the "new Normal" that we seem to be living in makes me fear that this kind of place could exist today.
Beautifully written with a cast of complex characters I highly recommend Colson Whitehead's latest book.
>273 brenzi: ...doesn't that get confusing? Lost or Good? Good or Lost? Where was I, anyway?
Wow, Bonnie! All 4+ stars in your latest reads. You are on a roll!. I hope to read The Nickel Boys soon. The Oz book sounds great as well; I think I would like it. Fortunately, it was already on my list.
>272 brenzi: Great review of The Nickel Boys, Bonnie. If my library had an "any day now" hold status, that's where my copy would be. I keep waiting for that happy email saying it's ready for me. *taps foot impatiently*
>271 brenzi: If you're not careful you'll talk me into reading a graphic novel too :) I've not been tempted but after reading your comments on Good Talk ... maybe.
>277 richardderus: Hahah well I finished The Lost Man this morning Richard so the confusion is over. For now.
>278 BLBera: Oh yes Beth I think you would enjoy the Oz book. I've had it on my shelf for ages and ages so I was so happy to get it read.
>279 lauralkeet: Hahaha Laura we are subservient to our library holds, aren't we? I hope it comes in soon.
>280 RebaRelishesReading: Reba it is a fast read so you don't have much to lose if you give it a go. It's so well done.
Yay for Good Talk! I’m glad it worked for you, Bonnie. That’s quite the bold concept; I’ve never seen a graphic book laid out like this one. Kudos to the author and the publisher.
>282 jnwelch: Well maybe that bold concept is the reason I liked it so much more than other graphic books I've tried Joe. And yes, kudos to whoever came up with the idea.
Here is a really fascinating article about Delia Owens, author of Where the Crawdads Sing. I know many LTers have read this one so see if you find it as interesting as I did. Coincidence????
I thought I'd get a reaction out of you Laura. My jaw was hanging open as I read it.
A Tale of Love and Darkness was the first book I read by Amos Oz, and I absolutely loved it.
>287 NanaCC: Right Colleen??
>288 kidzdoc: You May have been the one who issued the BB for A Tale Of Love and Darkness Darryl all those years ago. I'm not really sure how I happened to acquire it.
>289 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul. Colson Whitehead seems to be a pretty reliable author for me.
>290 BLBera: It was too good to keep to myself Beth lol.
The Lost Man by Jane Harper (Audio)
The main character in any Jane Harper novel you read is always the Australian land itself. The hot, dusty, unforgiving land has a tremendous impact on the other lesser characters in the novel. This book was no exception. A man’s body is found in a deserted area of the Australian outback, far from his vehicle which could’ve afforded him shelter, air conditioning and cold water. Without these vital accessories, he didn’t stand much of a chance. But he grew up in the area and would’ve known better than to abandon his vehicle. Wouldn’t he? His brother is determined to find out.
Lots of family secrets, problems and dynamics and really no clue what happened to Cameron Bright. Until very close to the end of the novel where it is revealed. I have to say, I had no idea and was actually pretty shocked at the outcome. Terrific mystery. Highly recommended.
The Chessmen by Peter May (Audio)
This was the conclusion to May’s Lewis Island trilogy and what a cracker jack mystery series this was. This was probably the weakest of the three but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t absolutely terrific. I will be seeking other Peter May books.
Our intrepid investigator Fin MacLeod, along with his childhood friend Whistler Macaskill, find an abandoned plane in a lake and the game is on. As in the other two books, the rough landscape and weather play an important role in this atmospheric series and I really loved the flashbacks to Fin’s youth (and his youthful mistakes). I really got to know this admirable character (although all the characters are well-drawn).
I would suggest to anyone who takes this series on that you go with the audio version. Peter Forbes narration is through the roof. His Gaelic accent is just perfect and added so much to the story. Very highly recommended.
A Good Man by Guy Vanderhaeghe
”Hours after the memory of Mother visited me, I put this journal, Father’s most recent letters, a stub of candle, and a box of lucifers in my pockets and trudged up the knoll to the Metis graveyard. By the derelict wooden crosses that stand askew as if shouldered aside by Death in a hurry, I sank down on a boulder to think. The heat of the day was still stored in the stone. I fondled its peltof rough lichen while the acrid odor of timber burning far away to the south in Montana Territory stung my nostrils.” (Page 7)
I am so glad I picked this book from my shelf because it was a great Western and tremendous historical fiction. It’s set in the late 1870s, in Montana and Canada, after the Battle of the Little Big Horn and the defeat of Custer. Sitting Bull’s escape to Canada and the negotiations to get him to return with the rest of the Sioux was an important part of Wesley Case’s job. The protagonist of the story is a very complicated man who has failed to live up to his father’s expectations and harbors a dire secret past that fills him with self-doubt. But he’s made up his mind that he wants to be here in Montana and buys a homestead I order to raise cattle with his friend Joe MacMillan. And he’s fallen in love with Ada Tarr, now the town school teacher after being left widowed by her less than desirable lawyer husband. The menace from Michael Dunne is a constant threat. The backstory of each character in the novel is a story in and of itself.
This is the second novel I’ve read by this author (thank you Nancy – chicklit) and he is just an incredible writer who keeps me turning the pages of his lengthy novels well into the night. His descriptions of the West are just terrific and his knowledge of history, including the role of the IRA (!) in this part of the country were just exceptional. Another wonderful Canadian author. Very highly recommended.
The Body Lies by Jo Baker
Holey Moley! Short but deadly.
A young woman is assaulted in London on her way home at night and is unable to deal with it, thinking constantly about her accost-er. When she decides to return to work she takes a job at a university in the north of England but her husband is unwilling to move. He remains in London and she goes with her three year old son and teaches creative writing at the University.
Much of the story is told through her student’s writing passages. One of the male students writes and behaves inappropriately and this leads to many of the problems the protagonist endures.
There is a feeling of dread throughout that just keeps building and I must say the climax and the denouement may be among the best I’ve ever read. The author tackles a lot of problems that will be familiar to many women: misogyny, single mothers, working mothers who are overwhelmed by the demands of their job. Highly recommended.
Lost Children Archive by Valetia Luiselli
And on audio:
Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep
I just got The Body Lies from the library, Bonnie, so it's next for me, after Little Women. :)
>298 BLBera: I hope you like it as much as I did Beth.
>299 mdoris: Thanks Mary, I hope you get to the Vanderhaeghe books. He's managed to become a favorite for me. The Englishman's Boy is the last part of the trilogy that I have left to read.
>300 katiekrug: Both areexcellent Katie. Enjoy!
>301 msf59: I haven't read Longbourne Mark but I'm going to look for it now. I would say this novel is very different though.
>296 brenzi: Hi Bonnie, Guy Vanderhaeghe is on my list of authors to check out, probably because of Nancy (chicklit), too. I hope she comes back to LT. I miss people when they leave.
I have got to get busy and reserve The Lost Man. I've certainly enjoyed the other two books I've read by Jane Harper. So many books...
>303 Donna828: Hi there Donna, I think you would really enjoy Guy Vanderhaeghe. I have a real love for many Canadian authors and he's one of the best. And yes.....so...many...books.
The Women Of The Copper Country is already on my Overdrive list and I won't have to wait long for it Mark. I'm really enjoying Lost Children Archive and there can't be a more relevant story today. And I just finished Furious Hours which was as good as you said and filled in a lot of holes in my knowledge of Harper Lee.
This topic was continued by Bonnie (brenzi) Takes Another Stab at this Reading Thing - Part 3.
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