What are you reading the week of January 5, 2019?
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Whew! I overslept this morning. :-) I'm almost finished with New Treasures of Sumerian Literature. It's a slim but very dense book. It's an academic book, so it spends a great deal of time making it's case for the author's translation. It's a little more insight into the life and work of a sumerologist than I was expecting or wanted.
Happy New Year to everyone!
I'm about a third of the way through The Arrow of Gold, the next to last novel Joseph Conrad published during his lifetime. It is definitely a "no longer in his writing prime" novel, but it is still Conrad, so still enjoyable for me. Before I started it, this marked the only Conrad novel I hadn't read yet.
Starting this OverDrive audiobook ~
Clawback by J. A. Jance
(Ali Reynolds series/Arizona/two dead bodies and a Ponzi scheme/Ali's
parents become victims in this suspense tale)
The Olive Farm: A Memoir of Life, Love and Olive Oil in the South of France by Carol Drinkwater. The author is most famous for portraying Helen in the television series "All Creatures Great and Small." I can see the Mediterranean sparkling in the sun, feel the sun's warmth and revel in the scents and sounds of the garden. Marvelous on a dreary January day.
I'm reading and not enjoying I'm Proud of You: My Friendship with Fred Rogers by Tim Madigan. I feel like there's some false advertising done with the title and description. It sounds like it's going to be a book about Mister Rogers but really it's a book about Christianity.
I'm reading it for my book club so I'm moving ahead. Luckily it's short.
The Ides Of March – Thornton Wilder
In this work of historical fiction, Wilder uses a combination of letters, diary entries and official documents to tell the story of the last year of Julius Caesar’s life.
Thank heavens I already knew the basic outline of this story. It was simply torture to read. Wilder divides the novel into four “books.” But the time frames overlap. For example, book one begins with a letter dated Sep 1 (45 BC), includes later entries marked “written the previous spring", has a memo dated Sep 30 near the end, followed by two undated notes, and a final document “written some fifteen years after the preceding.” Then we move on to Book Two, which begins with a letter dated Aug 17 (45 BC). S*I*G*H
The second difficulty I had was with the names / relationships. They frequently use nick names or code names when trying to ensure secrecy from prying eyes, should a letter fall into the wrong hands. THEY know who they refer to, but this reader was frequently confused.
And the third reason I found this so challenging are the many asides / footnotes / remarks that the author inserts. For example, in Book I, in the middle of a rather long “historical document” the author writes: Here follows the passage in which Cicero discusses the possibility that Marcus Junius Brutus may be Caesar’s son. It is given in the document which opens Book IV..
Now, I appreciate Wilder’s writing, and there were times in the book that I was completely engaged in the story. I was fascinated to read of the intrigue and espionage, the role of Cleopatra, etc. But on the whole … well I think I had more “fun” translating Cicero’s oration against Cataline when I studied Latin in high school (and I hated that).
I finished Pamela Carter Joern's The Plain Sense of Things, a series of short stories about three generations of a Nebraska family from the early 1930s to the late 1970s. It's a lovely book, the prose spare and starkly beautiful as the Nebraska prairie. I enjoyed Joern's earlier novel, The Floor of the Sky and was glad to read more of her work.
Up next: A Line Made by Walking by Sara Baume
I finished The Arrow of Gold by Joseph Conrad. I'm always happy to "hear" Conrad's voice, but this novel, sadly, does not measure up to his other work.
Next up for me will be the A. J. Arberry translation of Scheherezade: Tales from the Thousand and One Nights. I have a beautiful first edition of the Mentor Book paperback.
I posted my review of My Brother's Husband vol. 2. A very interesting experience, reading these manga.
Enjoying this OverDrive audiobook ~
Force of Nature by Jane Harper
(#2, Aaron Falk series/Australia/corporate retreat/missing hiker/Aussie narrator)
The Search For Joyful– Benedict and Nancy Freedman
A sequel to the popular Mrs Mike, this work of historical fiction is set primarily during World War II, and follows the career of a young Cree woman – Kathy (a/k/a/ Oh-Be-Joyful’s Daughter) – as she becomes an Army nurse and finds love and her place in the world.
I really liked Kathy Forquet as a heroine. Born to Cree parents, she was raised by a white family – Kathy “Mrs Mike” Flanigan is her adoptive mother. Because of her “white upbringing,” she has the advantages of an education that many other First Nation children don’t have, but she is keenly aware that she doesn’t fit in. Still, when WW 2 breaks out, she gathers her courage and heads out on her own to the big city of Montreal and nursing school. Throughout the book she struggles to balance the values she’s been taught, against the temptations she encounters. To find her true identity as a Cree Woman, an Army Nurse, and a Canadian. She remains open to new experiences. She develops a strong friendship with her roommate, a selfish and flighty (if wealthy and well-connected) girl. She finds love – twice; suffers heartbreak; finds courage and tenacity under attack.
In some situations, her status as a First Nation or aboriginal person all but disappears. But in this time period, it is seldom completely set aside. At times she finds herself ill prepared to face the subtle prejudices that are always present. And yet … she has a steel spine, standing up to bullies and insisting on doing the right thing, even if it means losing a friend.
The authors are not First Nation people, and there’s little information about how they came to write this story. I’m skeptical about the truth of what they write, and still I’m drawn into the novel. It’s an inspiring and hopeful story.
I just finished An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good by Helene Tursten, a five-story collection about a little old lady who solves problems in an unorthodox manner. I found it to be an oddly charming little book and I’m looking forward to trying more from this author.
I’m continuing to read Rebecca Solnit’s Call Them by Their True Names and plan on starting Dick Francis’ Nerve for a group read this evening.
Christmas Camp– Karen Schaler
From the book jacket: Haley Hanson’s idea of the perfect Christmas is escaping to the Caribbean to work so she can avoid all the traditional Christmas distractions. Over the years, she’s sacrificed her personal life to climb the corporate ladder at a prestigious Boston advertising agency. Now she just needs to land a coveted Christmas toy company account to make partner. But first her boss thinks she needs a holiday attitude adjustment and ships her off to Christmas Camp at Holly Peak Inn to help her find her Christmas spirit.
As I read this, I kept thinking it was remarkably like a Hallmark TV movie I had seen last week. Then I noticed the author’s note at the end, where she states she wrote the script for the movie first. No matter, really. It seems that all those movies have the same plot. They’re still fun to watch, and the schmaltzy Christmas romance books are fun to read. Total escapism.
Now I need some cookies ….
You have really sparked my interest with this author I shall follow her up.
Five Came Back: A Story of Hollywood and the Second World War
By Mark Harris
This is the amazing true life story of some of the greatest Hollywood film directors who were asked to film events during WWII and produce training films for the soldiers while putting aside their careers. John Ford, George Steven, John Huston, William Wyler and Frank Capra were the ones asked to give up their Hollywood jobs to work with the government. A few stayed to make instructional films to train soldiers; others accompanied troops to war torn regions putting their lives in danger while filming. This was a page turner for me from the beginning to the end!
The Christmas Scrapbook – Philip Gulley
This little novella is book 5.5 in the Harmony series featuring Quaker minister Sam Gardner, his wife Barbara, and the Friends of the Harmony meeting house.
I love the gentle stories of one man’s efforts to make a difference in his community. This time his focus is on his wife. He’s determined to give Barbara a better gift than the usual bought-on-Christmas-eve potholder from the local five-and-dime. So, Sam signs up for a scrapbooking class. The results are predictably hilarious. But also impart a lesson about faith, tolerance, love and the spirit of Christmas. As well as a caution about jumping to conclusions and engaging in gossip.
Posted my review of the third Hal Challis mystery, Snapshot. Viva Australia and its talented writers!
I finished The Only Story by Julian Barnes. It's a story ruminating about the nature of love and its place in life and therefore about the nature of life. Full of quotable truths. The love affair described was awkward and later painful.
I finished Scheherezade: Tales from the Thousand and One Nights translated by A. J. Arberry and originally published in 1953. It was particularly fun to read the original version of Aladdin, as opposed to the Disney version we all have in our brains. My somewhat more in-depths comments can be found on my 50-Book Challenge thread.
Next up for me will be Miss Mapp, the second book (sometimes listed as the third book) in E.F. Benson's humorous "Mapp and Lucia" series dating back to the 1920s.
Enjoying this OverDrive/Kindle eBook ~
Born Wild by Julie Ann Walker
(Black Knights Inc. series/ex-SEALs/off-the-radar spec-ops team/romantic suspense chic lit/Alexa can read this to me)
Finished listening to the fascinating autobiography, Born A Crime: Stories From A South African Childhood by Trevor Noah.
Next up for listening is Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami.
A Deal to Die For – Josie Belle
Book two in the Good Buy Girls cozy mystery series has Maggie opening a new resale shop in her Virginia community. Of course, her high school nemesis, Summer Philips, opens a rival shop directly across the street. They both head to the annual fair, hoping to snag some designer cast-offs from the town’s wealthy widow. But the fair has barely begun when Vera is found dead at Doc Franklin’s office, with Doc kneeling by her side. Who murdered Vera?
This has all the elements of a successful cozy series – a nosy heroine amateur sleuth, romantic tension, a hot police chief, a troop of loyal friends who help our heroine, and a cast of colorful local citizens who fill all the ancillary roles needed.
What lowers the rating for me is the rivalry between Maggie and Summer. It is SOOooo junior high and these are women in their early forties. Get a life, already. I don’t mind the years-long enmity and rivalry itself. After all, such a relationship is a trope of this genre, but the way they’re portrayed in this series is just so juvenile that it sets my teeth on edge.
Well, it won’t (and hasn’t) stopped me reading them. The book is a fast read and satisfies my occasional need for some mind candy.
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