TalkWhat are you reading the week of October 5, 2019?
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Forgive my humble brag, but after this week I am officially a ten gallon blood donor. Whoo! The downside is that I kind of feel like crap now. Boo! Getting older sucks.
Fall Back Down When I Die is a damned good read. Y'all oughta go get one now.
Next up: Sweet Dreams and Flying Machines: The Life and Music of James Taylor by Mark Ridowsky. (I've always had a thing for James -- I hope my 50-year crush survives learning too much about him. Maybe I'd be better off just listening to the CDs again.)
Finished Autumn Light: Season of Fire and Farewells and loved it! If you've read Pico Iyer before, you'll be familar with his way of writing, and zen like quality to his style. Its a sequel of sorts to Lady and the Monk and is a look at autumn as a time of loss, a time of ageing and how we hold on to memories of something precious. It sounds depressing but its not; in fact its a very life affirming book. ( and its making me want to go back and read the other books I have of his)
Also reading Becoming Seuss, tho I had put it aside while I was finished the above, Im ready to dive back in. Also suspect I will be reading Dutch House as my bookstore just got it in!
I finished Jo Nesbo's Knife on Friday night. I found it a little hard to get into, but once I did, it wouldn't let me go. I stayed up very, very late indeed to hear the end of the tale. Nesbo is a fantastic writer.
It's been a busy weekend and I have managed about five pages of Italian Shoes by Henning Mankell - not a Wallander crime novel, but one of his many stand-alone titles.
Still reading, and enjoying the Memoirs of Hector Berlioz.
Perhaps the ghosts have got into the touchstones.
Still reading, and enjoying the Memoirs of Hector Berlioz.
Picture Miss Seeton– Heron Carvic
First in a series
From the book jacket: Miss Emily Seeton had seen Carmen and it had made enough of an impression so that when she came across a stabbing in real life it didn’t upset her too much. Not that anything upset Miss Seeton too much. As long as she had a firm hold on her umbrella (and she always did), she could face just about anything.
What a fun romp of a cozy mystery! Miss Seeton is a retired art teacher who has just inherited a cottage in the village of Plummergen, Kent. Fearing that her encounter with the murderer may put her at risk she leaves her London flat and vows to spend the summer in Plummergen. The villagers aren’t sure what to make of her, and they have heard rumors of her run-ins with the law. Is she involved in drugs? Is she a spy? She and her umbrella are certainly at the center of all the strange happenings in and about the village.
It took me a little while to get involved in the story, but once I did, I was completely hooked. I just loved Miss Seeton and her bumbling way of getting involved. There were a satisfying number of suspects and a fair number of twists and turn in the plot that kept me on my toes. And while I identified the main culprit long before Miss Seeton or the police, it was still fun watching them put the pieces together.
I had to get this through inter-library loan, and I hope I can continue with the series. Miss Seeton is a hoot.
Autumnal Tints by Henry David Thoreau
(his classic essay)
Becoming – Michelle Obama
Audiobook narrated by the author.
Michelle Obama’s memoir / autobiography takes her from her childhood through college, her first years as an attorney, meeting Barack and their time in the White House as President and First Lady. Through her words I felt that I really got to know this remarkable woman. She is smart, dedicated, authentic, compassionate, principled and tireless. She’s open and honest about her experiences and reminds us that she is still a work in progress … “becoming” the best version of herself she can be, helping her husband and children become their best selves, encouraging others to strive and achieve.
She narrates the audiobook herself and does a fantastic job. I can’t imagine that anyone else could have done it better.
Three Wishes – Liane Moriarty
Digital audiobook read by Heather Wilds
From the book jacket: Lyn, Cat and Gemma Kettle, beautiful thirty-three-year-old trplets, seem to attract attention everywhere they go. Together, laughter, drama, and mayhem seem to follow them. But apart, each is dealing with her own share of ups and downs.
Moriarty excels at exploring relationships within an ensemble group of characters. Here she looks at the Kettle sisters, a set of adult triplets, their partners and their parents. As she did in Big Little Lies Moriarty begins at the end, and then backtracks to lead us up to that climactic event.
It's a story of sibling rivalry, and love found / lost / and found again. These girls will fight about just about anything in their quest to prove the point that “I am the most put upon.” There were scenes that appalled me with how badly the sisters treated one another or a significant other. I did get a little irritated by how immaturely they behaved at times. On the other hand, there were scenes that caused me to chuckle at the humor in the situation. And scenes where I clearly sympathized with one or the other’s point of view. Kind of like a real family…
On the whole, it’s a fast read and quite entertaining.
Heather Wilds does a fine job narrating the audiobook. She sets a good pace and did an admirable job of voicing the girls. Of course, there were times I had to “rewind” or refer to the text to be sure I had it straight which character was speaking
From the book's back cover:
Truth, like love, isn't always obvious.
Seventeen-year-old Ruby Brooks has never had a boyfriend. After moving to small-town La Luna, New Mexico following her mother’s untimely death, boys aren’t even on her radar. Ruby just wants to forget the last horrible year and blend in. But when she discovers an ancient pueblo ruin in the forest behind her house, and meets Ezra, a bitter recluse whose once-perfect face was destroyed in an accident he won’t talk about; Angel, La Luna’s handsome sheriff’s deputy, and Leo, a stranger who only appears near the ruin, Ruby finds herself teetering between love, mystery, and other worlds. What happened to Ezra’s face? And why is she so attracted to the one boy in town everyone despises? As Ruby unravels her own connections to both Ezra and the pueblo ruin, she’ll learn surfaces are deceiving. Especially in the heart of New Mexico, where spirits and legends aren’t always just campfire stories.
K this is the blurb from the inner cover that really got
“What could be a corny premise turns into an exhilarating, fun ride in Edelson’s adept hands. Her characters are smartly drawn, and readers will easily identify with Ruby, a strong yet insecure young artist on the verge of adulthood, who is still recovering from her tragic past . . . Fans of Twilight and modern fairy tales will fall in love with Ruby and root for her eventual romance.” — Blue Ink Review (Starred Review)
Seriously read it!
Next I'm on to 'VENGFUL' by V.E. Schwab
The Marriage Game by Alison Weir
(1500s/Tudor era England/tale featuring Elizabeth I & Lord Robert Dudley)
Van Loon starts with the Greeks and then moves through the Roman era and then through European history up through the French Revolution, describing the movements, institutions and individuals who have the most to do with, in turn, enhancing or curtailing the cause of tolerance in society. The book's second half is composed of short biographies of influential individuals, either via politics or philosophical writing, over the ebb and flow of the idea of tolerance in Western society. Erasmus, Spinoza and Montaigne get particularly interesting treatments, as do the figures of the French Revolution. Van Loon describes the repression in the Puritan settlements, but, disappointingly, misses the admirable Roger Williams. The final chapter, "The Last Hundred Years," is only a few pages long, and Van Loon concludes with a hopeful passages that beg for patience and perseverance in the struggle for overall societal tolerance. He writes with an uneasy eye backwards toward recent history (World War One and the Russian Revolution). But as he was writing in 1926, he could not be expected to be able to see what was coming. I don't know how historically accurate all of his descriptions and observations are. Nevertheless, I think he's well worth reading even given, or possibly because of, the book's vintage of close to 100 years old. Van Loon's sense of humor, as already noted, is enjoyable and quite dark. For example, while the book's dust jacket, as pictured above, is certainly benign, the cover of the book itself, a book, remember, about tolerance and liberation, depicts a guiilotine!
* “Humility/Humildad” from It's All In the Frijoles: 100 Famous Latinos Share Real-Life Stories, Time-Tested Dichos, Favorite Folktales, and Inspiring Words of Wisdom by Yolanda Nava
* "Too Shrill: Hillary Clinton" from Too Fat Too Slutty Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman by Anne Helen Petersen
* "Adina De Zavala" from American Heroines: The Spirited Women who Shaped Our Country by Kay Bailey Hutchison
* “Dr. H. A. Moynihan” from A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin
* “Some Songs” from Blues Poems edited by Kevin Young
* “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” by Truman Capote from Esquire Magazine - 40th Anniversary Celebration edited by Don Erickson
This was my first time reading the story, "Breakfast at Tiffany's." Wow, great writing.
Next up for me will be a book called Saturday Matinee. My wife bought this book directly from the author at a book fair during her recent drive cross-country. The book's subtitle is "Scenes from Oklahoma During the Great Depression." Though described as "Fiction" on its back cover, my wife told me that, according to the author, it's more of a fictionalized memoir. The author's dedication begins, "This volume of fiction is based upon the author's memories and fantasies about growing up in rural Oklahoma during the Great Depression, the World War II era, and beyond." So the subject matter is certainly interesting! Here's hoping the writing is good.
Started fiction book, Paper Wife: A Novel by Laila Ibrahim. The author's own story is as interesting or even more so than her protagonist's. Learning a lot about the Chinese immigrant experience in between the wars era San Francisco.
Next up for listening is Gathering Moss: A Natural And Cultural History Of Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer.
The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam – Chris Ewan
Digital audiobook narrated by Simon Vance.
Charlie Howard is a successful mystery author, writing a series that features a professional burglar, Faulks. As a sideline – and I guess you could call it research – he also occasionally accepts a commission to steal certain items. When a stranger offers him an unusually high fee to steal a couple of seemingly worthless monkey figurines, his instincts tell him to decline while his curiosity urges him to comply. Before long he’s embroiled in a major intrigue, and a suspect in a murder.
This was a highly entertaining mystery. I couldn’t help but think of Lawrence Block’s Bernie Rhodenbarr series, but the comparison is a good one. The pace is quick, the characters interesting, and the charms of Amsterdam (a city I have visited) evident. I didn’t really like the way he revealed the culprit; bringing everyone together and having a long speech to lay out the crime and point out the responsible party (or parties) seems a bit tedious. Still, I was charmed by Charlie and want to read more of this series.
UPDATE / SECOND reading: 12Aug2019
I listened to the audio, capably narrated by Simon Vance. I enjoyed it just as much, but then I'd listen to Simon Vance read his grocery list.