What are you reading the week of August 10, 2019?
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I've just about finished The Dancer at the Gai-Moulin. It's an interesting departure in the Maigret series as it is told from the perspective of a teenage boy who discovers a murder while committing a robbery. He doesn't know whom to be more frightened of, the hulking police inspector, the murderer, or his mom. I've really enjoyed this curious inversion of story even if I haven't had much time to devote to it this week.
Enjoying this OverDrive audiobook ~
Lock Every Door by Riley Sager
(thriller/Jules becomes an apartment sitter in one of Manhattan's exclusive apartment complexes/dark history behind a gleaming facade)
The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin – Josh Berk
Digital audiobook performed by Jim Meskimen
This is a humorous coming-of-age story with a bit of a mystery thrown in and featuring an unlikely hero. Will Halpin is deaf, overweight and struggling to make friends in his new school. He's left the safety of "deaf school" and chosen to mainstream at the local public high school, but the teachers can't (or won't) get the hang of always facing him so he can read lips. He is a skilled observer, however, and he jots his notes on his fellow students and teachers in a notebook. His one friend is the uber-dork Devon Smiley, and when the school's quarterback (and all-around jerk) "falls" down a mine shaft on a school field trip, they channel the Hardy Boys to investigate.
I’m glad to see a book that features a main character with a disability, who finds ways to deal effectively in a world that doesn’t always made accommodations for him. Will (and Devon) also have to deal with the usual drama of high school – bullies, the “in” crowd vs the nerds, teachers who don’t really care, unrequited love, and the universally hated showers after gym class.
It's a fast read, and I loved Will & Devon's humor.
Jim Meskimen does a fine job of narrating the audio version. He set a good pace and I was quickly caught up in the story line.
Wicked – Gregory Maguire
Audiobook narrated by John McDonough
Subtitle: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
This is a re-telling of The Wizard of Oz, told from the viewpoint of Elphaba, the “Wicked” Witch of the West.
I’ve had this on my tbr since shortly after it came out, having been a long-time fan of the classic movie starring Judy Garland. But for whatever reason, I just never got around to reading Maguire’s version. I have never even seen the hit Broadway musical based on this book, though I certainly love some of the music from that show. I did read another of Maguire’s re-tellings - Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister (Cinderella) – with my F2F book club some years back. I liked it but wasn’t blown away; still I was predisposed to liking this book.
I thought Maguire’s book went just too far afield in directions I never expected. Some of the scenes were downright disturbing (for example:
Still, it’s definitely imaginative, and there are some scenes that really forced me to think about assumptions, first impressions, and entrenched behaviors. So, while I can’t say I particularly enjoyed the book, I am glad to have finally read it, and I’ll round up by rating to 3*.
John McDonogh does a fine job performing the audiobook. His diction is clear, and I was rarely confused about who was speaking. I did have a copy of the text handy, and did a little speed-reading for part of it when I felt the plot was moving too slowly. The text also has a map of Oz which was helpful.
I can't say My Sister, the Serial Killer is bad, or even just not that good...but it's not a Booker-level book. It does little that is new, but lots that is deft. David Mogo, Godhunter does much more linguistic and stylistic innovation that could lead Nigerian literature in an exciting and intriguing new direction. But the Braithwaite book is a pleasure to read, and I hope y'all will read it.
I finished up The Three Hostages, the fourth adventure in John Buchan's "Richard Hannay" series from the 1910s and 1920s. I'm spending a bit of time with my "between book" anthologies and such. Not sure which full-length book I'll be taking on next.
>5 richardderus: I was quite disappointed in My Sister, the Serial Killer. Everyone was talking about it, recommending it....and it just wasn't great. I've written down your recommendation of David Mogo, Godhunter, and will look for it.
This week I've had almost no time to read. I finished Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin - it was a Pride and Prejudice takeoff set in a Muslim community in east Toronto. It was clever, but not brilliant.
I'm (slowly) working on one fiction and one non-fiction book. I picked up the fiction to give myself breaks from the non-fiction: Voices from Chernobyl is not for the faint of heart. I'm supplementing my literary doses of radiation poisoning with an intelligent crime novel: I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes.
I"m going to start reading The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani today.
I found the critically acclaimed short story collection, There Once Lived A Woman Who Tried To Kill Her Neighbor's Baby: Scary Fairy Tales to be ho-hum. Oh well.
Next up to read is Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell.
i may be the only person who liked Wicked the book much more than the musical. Thought the book stayed true to Frank Baums writng with the political things going on. Ended up reading several of his other books son of a lion, mirror mirror and The confession of a ugly stepsister both also takes on famous stories
Still reading Sharp and loving it. Also continuing with Collette,
do we have a trade books thread on this group?
#5 richardderus- hi there. I read My Sister the Serial Killer and absolutely love it
>10 Molly3028:, >13 cdyankeefan: I put my 4.25-star review up in its entirety here if y'all're interested. I found it a very, very good read, and am not at all surprised that it's a prize-winning thriller.
I hope Kiss Kiss will break my long, long streak of disliking Roald Dahl's books because he was a crappy human being.
I finished The Three Hostages by John Buchan. This is the fourth of John Buchan's 5-book "Richard Hannay" series of thrillers, written during and just after World War One. Uber-Englishman Richard Hannay is home from the war in France, and from his dangerous and desperate espionage assignments which had repeatedly pulled him away from his men in the trenches. Now he has retired to his country estate . . . well, no such luck. It seems there is another dastardly plot afoot to gain control of the Western World and in particular to destroy all that is strong about English society. Worse, this cabal has taken three innocent hostages. Scotland Yard and their European allies are just about to sweep up the conspirators, but first, someone has to find and free these hostages. Guess who? As usual, there is lots of great natural description, this time in particular of the mountain passes of Scotland. And here, the antisemitism gets dialed down from its crescendo in the third book. Being Jewish myself, I'm never surprised to find such elements in English writing of the time, particularly from the upper classes, to which Buchan belonged. I'm able to work around it and still have fun with these books.
Next up with be a couple of rounds of my "between books," and then on to Anybody's Gold: The Story of California's Mining Towns by Joseph Henry Jackson.
Miss Julia Renews Her Vows – Ann B Ross
Book # 11 in the Miss Julia series, featuring a Southern lady of a certain age, who is prone to jumping to conclusions but always takes action to help those in need. This time out she’s juggling the demands of a “Christian psychologist” who’s been hired by her pastor to hold marriage enrichment sessions, and a false accusation of theft against her friend Etta Mae.
Miss Julia may be running off on all sorts of tangents and gets herself into a pickle more than once, but she has some capable assistance (sometimes unwittingly) from Sam, Lillian and young Lloyd. Even Mr Pickens, Emma Sue Ledbetter and Hazel Marie manage to contribute to the final solution.
I love the way these characters are written. Miss Julia is just a hoot, and she’s most entertaining when she’s in a dither about something. Her read on things may be completely wrong, but she always manages to arrive at the right conclusion, or at least to help the authorities find the real culprit. Visiting with Miss Julia and her friends is a pure joy.
I also really liked My Sister, The Serial Killer .... but I'm not sure I agree with its being nominated for the Booker (and on the long list, no less).
>17 BookConcierge: It's a fun, entertaining read, and it's a deeply interesting visit to a foreign place for US readers, but the Booker, at least in my view of it, recognizes innovative, aesthetically superior, or otherwise noteworthy books. This one isn't any of those things, IMO.
Having finished Buchan's The Three Hostages (see above), I decided on a couple of rounds of my "between books." Here's the first:
* “Bringing It All Back Home” from The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View by Richard Tarnas - Finished!
* “Growing Up True Is Hard to Do” from Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung by Lester Bangs
* Excerpt from Minor Characters by Joyce Johnson from The Norton Book of Women's Lives edited by Phyllis Rose
* “The Internal Fronts” from The Secret History of the War, Volume 2 by Waverley Root
* “Go See Costas” from Uncommon Type: Some Stories by Tom Hanks
* “Her Uncle vs. His Father” by Graham Greene from Esquire Magazine - 40th Anniversary Celebration edited by Don Erickson
* "Mary Austin Holley" from American Heroines: The Spirited Women who Shaped Our Country by Kay Bailey Hutchison - Newly added
Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill
by Candice Millard
Millard is one of my favorite authors and she doesn’t disappoint in this tale of Churchill’s escape after being captured during the Boer War in 1899 in South Africa while he was there as a news reporter. Highly recommended!
Kiss Kiss did not break my long, long streak of disliking Roald Dahl's books because he was a crappy human being. Switch Bitch didn't enthrall me years ago; reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory led me to ask my eldest sister, whose copy I was reading, "is this guy that big a dickhead or does he just not like kids?" when I was 12.
The Gene Wilder film did little to endear the story to me, as Verruca Salt ("ugly shapeless mole slug-killer" was my nickname for her) and greedyguts Augustus Gloop were clearly meant to be cruel jabs at "Jewish American Princess" types (as we call them in the US) and bullied gay boys who eat to achieve emotional security.
So I'm done.
>24 richardderus: clearly meant to be cruel jabs at "Jewish American Princess" types
Really? I am Jewish and never picked up on that; thought them more like the mean girl types I knew in HS. Not a fan of Dahl (had to read that mouse one for a kid lit class and was rathr appalled) but I did like Charile, all in fun. As far as him being a crappy human being, if we stopped reading authors just on that basis (or stop watching movies on that basis) thin we'd be missing some great work. Doesn't excuse their crappiness, and if they commited a crime that might be a deall breaker. Otherwise I so seldom notice the author of the book Im reading, so I wouldn't know anyway.
Im 3/4 of the way through Sharp and think I am done. After reading about Harriet Jacobs, Rebecca West, Dorthoty Parker Hannah Arendt Mary McCarthy and Susan Sontag, they are all running together for me. Doesn't help that the author mades it a point to connect them all in each other stories, but I think Im going to find the same with the three coming up and I just think Im done.
Summer Rental – Mary Kay Andrews
Digital audio read by Isabel Keating
Three women who’ve been besties since kindergarten are each at a crossroads. Ellis was recently fired from her job and is now wondering if she’s made the right choices in life. Julia is a successful model but can barely hide her deep insecurities and is afraid to accept the love of a good man. Dorie is the Southern belle whose never had a problem attracting men, but her husband has just betrayed her, and she can’t face the decisions she needs to make. They rent a beach house on Nag’s Head for a month of rest and relaxation. Enter Maryn / Madison, who is running from a dangerous man and needs a place to hide. Add a sexy landlord, Ty, who lives in the former maid’s quarters over the garage.
This is a fun, quick-read book with a lots of girl talk, some romance, and a few twists and turns to keep things interesting. The bad guys will be vanquished. The good guys (and girls) will find success. And everything will end with a beautiful sunset and/or a rainbow. It’s not great literature, but it’s a perfect beach read. Grab some iced tea (or a mojito), your sunscreen and a beach chair and enjoy.
Isabel Keating narrated the audio version. She does a fine job. She sets a good pace and mostly keeps the many female characters distinct enough to not confuse the listener.
As noted in Post 22, I finished The Passion of the Western Mind: Understanding the Ideas That Have Shaped Our World View by Richard Tarnas. This is a relatively comprehensive survey of Western thought from the early Greeks through modern times. Tarnas takes us through the several stages of Greek thought, through the rise of Christianity and and the evolution of Westerners' view of themselves and their place in the universe over the centuries. Tarnas also does a good job of taking us through our various changes as science, on the one hand, and spirituality (outside of organized religion), on the other, become sort of dually transcendent in modern humanity. The writing is clear, meant for "laypersons" rather than academics, although things do get kind of dense, in a way that seemed mostly unavoidable to me, when the concepts become particularly complex.
This is a discussion of relatively mainstream ideas, however. I recall little, if any, discussion, for example, of the religions that Christianity supplanted as is spread through Europe, or of the repression of those religions practiced at the time, so often including the repression (to put it mildly) of women.
Another round of "between books" to come next.
I'm about half-way through an ARC of Isabel Allende's newest historical saga, A Long Petal of the Sea. I'm enjoying it so far, she really knows how tell an engaging story.
My next round of "between books" proceeded thusly:
* “John Hersey’s Major Rings a Bell in Licata” from A Treasury of Great Reporting: "Literature Under Pressure" from the Sixteenth Century to Our Own Time edited by Louis L. Snyder
* “Your Personal Prejudices Can Trick You” from Magazine Digest - August 1949 edited by Murray Simmons
* The chapter on the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1963 Official Baseball Almanac by Bill Wise
* “Of Talk and Talkers” from Leaves in the Wind by Alpha of the Plow (a.k.a. A. G. Gardiner)
* “The Language Burier” from Creek Walk and Other Stories by Molly Giles
* “Albert Pastor at Home” by Dashiell Hammett from Esquire Magazine - 40th Anniversary Celebration edited by Don Erickson
I am now reading the enjoyable Anybody's Gold, a history of the California Gold rush first published in 1941 by California historian Joseph Henry Jackson.
Just finished The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, which was amazing.
Now I am reading Looking for Alaska by John Green in preparation for the Hulu show that comes out in October. It is as good as I remember it from a few years ago, but I didn't realize how much of the characters I had made up myself. Green left a lot of room for imagination, which will make the series interesting to watch.
Enjoying this library audiobook ~
Garden of Lies by Amanda Quick
(Victorian era London/Slater is an archeologist & adventurer/Ursula is the owner of Kern Secretarial Agency/a death due to mysterious circumstances/amateur sleuthing and romance)
I’m currently reading the following:
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman;
The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J Ryan Stradal;
Home of Erring and Outcast Girls by Julie Kibler;
Black Coffee by Daniel Ford;
Three Things about Elsie by Joanna Cannon; and
Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center
Kindle eBook Alexa can read to me ~
Amish Cookie Club by Sarah Price
(book #1/Myrna is a young out-spoken Amish woman and the grown daughter of one of the bakers/Ezekiel is a widower with 4 children/wholesome romance)
Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Golden Samovar wasn't bad. I was diverted. Will I continue the series? Probably not.
>32 mollygrace:>34>36 Ha its a trifecta! Love Livesly, Allende and Krauss. Didn't know Allende had a new one; I loved her older work, not so much the last few but I'll try it! Happy reading!
I finished The Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America which was an excellent and fascinating look at the Mississippi River, attempts to control it, politics, race relations, and the persons wielding power. Yet another story illustrating the self-serving underhanded use of power to the detriment of the ordinary person.
News of the World
After the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd is at loose ends. His job now involves traveling town to town in Texas reading newspaper stories in halls where people gather to listen. After one of his shows, he is offered a large sum to return Johanna, a young girl whose family was killed by Indians and then was taken and raised by them. She speaks no English but he reluctantly agrees to take her back to her kinsmen. This is a tale of two lost souls and what can happen from their connection. Lovely!
>7 ahef1963: I agree that the Chernobyl book is not an easy read. I read it several years ago and still remember how sad it was. IMHO, the politicians were then and are now very much to blame for the damage done.
Revisiting sections of this OverDrive audiobook ~
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
The Wrath & the Dawn – Renée Ahdieh
Ahdieh took her inspiration from A Thousand and One Arabian Nights. The Caliph of Khorasan, Khalid, takes a new bride each night and then has her strangled with a silken cord in the morning. Sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to be next after her best friend falls victim to the Caliph's cruel policy; but she intends to avenge her friend’s death. She must use her wits to keep him from killing her, and so she begins to weave fantastic stories, ending each evening with a cliffhanger so that he will want to come back the next night to see what happens. She doesn’t expect to fall in love with him.
I was somewhat disappointed that the stories ended so soon in this retelling, and instead the novel focused on the "secret" that Khalid held which resulted in his killing his brides each night. I didn't believe in the love story either. These two seemed best matched in that they were quick to anger and were constantly misinterpreting what the other’s actions / words / looks meant. Of course, they are only teenagers, and this is a YA novel, after all.
Like the original Scheherazade, Ahdieh ends this story with a cliffhanger, hoping to ensure that the reader will return for the next installment.
Well, it was a relatively fast read and I can see why it's been so popular for the YA audience. But my reaction was decidedly 'meh.'
Currently reading -
The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead (reread, book club)
A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle (Monthly Author Read a month late)
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker (current audio-before-bed/ebook)
Terra Incognita by Ruth Downie (audio in the car)
I should finish The Underground Railroad this weekend, and then I'll make more progress in the others.
>51 cindydavid4: I don't know if it became a movie but I would certainly watch it.
>51 cindydavid4: I check IMDB and it looks like Tom Hanks is going to be in it but it says it is in pre-production at this time!
ETA yeah thats a newer article than the one before, so looks like its coming! Looking forward to it
Enjoying this Kindle eBook Alexa is reading to me ~
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
(delving into the post-war chapters this time around)
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