Bonnie (brenzi) Takes Another Stab at this Reading Thing - Part 4
This is a continuation of the topic Bonnie (brenzi) Takes Another Stab at this Reading Thing - Part 3.
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1. We have had a glorious fall here. Gorgeous weather and lots of fun activities. Here are a few:
The last one is Mia and her dad going to her first Father/Daughter Dance
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
64. Lost Children Archive - Valeria Luiselli - eBook - 4.3 stars
65. The Siege Of Krishnapur - J.G. Farrell - OTS - 5 stars
66. City Of Girls - Elizabeth Gilbert - audio - 3 stars
67. The Sentence is Death - Anthony Horowitz - audio - 4.1 stars
68. The Sisters: The Saga Of the Mitford Family - MARY S. Lovell - eBook - 4.3 stars
69. Dear Mrs. Bird - AJ Pearce - audio - 3.9 stars
70. The Women Of The Copper Country - Mary Doria Russell - eBook- 4.5 stars
71. Garden Of Beasts - Erik Larson - OTS/audio - 4.0 stars
72. A Better Man - Louise Penny - L - 4.2 stars
73. Only Killers and Thieves - Paul Howarth - audio - 5 stars
74. Burmese Days - George Orwell - eBook - 4.2 stars
75. Mrs. Tim Of the Regiment - D.E. Stevenson - eBook - 3.8 stars
76. A Woman of No Importance - Sonia Purnell - audio - 4.5 stars
77. Ghost Wall - Sarah Moss - eBook - 3.5 stars
78. A Moveable Feast - Ernest Hemingway - L - 3.8 stars
79. Our House - Louise Candlish - audio - 4 stars
80. The Paris Wife - Paula McLain - OTS - 3.7 stars
81. The Dutch House - Ann Patchett - eBook - 4.2 stars
82. The Turn Of The Key - Ruth Ware - audio - 4.3 stars
83. The Horseman - Tim Pears - eBook - 4.3 stars
84. The Secrets We Kept - Lara Prescott - eBook - 3.8 stars
85. The Reluctant Widow - Georgette Heyer - eBook - 3.7 stars
86. Star of the North - D.B. John - audio - 3.5 stars
87. The Slaves of Solitude - Patrick Hamilton - OTS - 4.3 stars
88. They Called Us Enemy - George Takei - L - 4 stars
89. Conviction - Denise Mina - audio - 3.8 stars
90. The Space Between Us - Thrity Umrigar - eBook - 4 stars
91. Heartburn - Nora Ephron - audio - 2 stars
92. The Secrets Between Us - Thrity Umrigar - eBook - 4.5 stars
93. Ghost Soldiers - Hampton Sides - OTS/audio - 4.7 stars
94. The Wanderers - Tim Pears - L - 4.5 stars
95. A Train in Winter - Caroline Moorhead - audio - 4.3 stars
96. Dear Evelyn - Kathy Page - eBook - 4.3 stars
97. Five Days Gone - Laura Cumming - L - 4.2 stars
98. Ask Again, Yes - Mary Beth Keane - audio - 4.2 stars
99. The Ministry of Truth - Dorian Lynskey - audio - 3.8 stars
100. The Feast of the Goat - Mario Vargas Llosa - OTS - 4 stars
101. The Johnstown Flood - David McCullough - audio - 3.8 stars
102. Mrs. Tim Carries On - D.E. Stevenson - eBook - 4 stars
103. Red at the Bone - Jacqueline Woodson - eBook - 4.1 stars
104. The Coroner's Lunch - Colin Cotterill - audio - 4 stars
105. In the Dream House - Carmen Maria Machado - L - 4.5 stars
Total Books: 105
The Wanderers by Tim Pears
This is Book 2 in Pears’ West Country Trilogy and it continues on the same quiet, compelling trajectory as the first volume. Compulsively readable. It won’t be long before I pick up the third volume I’m sure.
Young Leo is on his own and trying to figure out how he will live his life with no resources. You know so well that he will find a way. In the meantime, Charlotte pines away for her Leo but there doesn’t seem to be a way for them to come together again. Or is there? WWI threatens.
A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead
The train is heading for Birkenau in the early years of WWII. The passengers include 230 women of the French Resistance. This was an incredible audio of a horrific experience. Part One was about living in France and taking part in the Resistance. Struggling with the Vichy government as well as the resident German troops was bad enough but nothing in comparison to life in the camps as detailed in Part Two. These women watched as many of their number were beaten and tortured or died of deprivation, exposure, starvation and disease (typhus was common). And yet, they developed a bond that was incredibly durable. As Moorehead relates at the end of the narrative:
”They had learnt, they would say, the full meaning of friendship, a commitment to each other that went far deeper than individual liking or disliking; and they now felt wiser, in some indefinable way, because they had understood the depths to which human beings can sink and equally the heights to which it is possible to rise.”
A devastating portrait of an inconceivable experience.
>8 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul!
>9 NanaCC: Yes Colleen, a very tough read but really compelling.
>10 msf59: Thanks Mark, I just added People Who Eat Darkness to my Overdrive list.
>11 figsfromthistle: Thank you Anita.
>12 mckait: Hey it's Kath. How are you? And thank you.
>13 FAMeulstee: Thanks so much Anita.
Happy New Thread, Bonnie. That's a sweet photo of Mia and her dad.
Good review of A Train in Winter. It sounds like a powerful book.
>15 jnwelch: Thanks Joe. I have no idea how Mia got old enough for a Father/daughter dance. She was just a little baby a few minutes ago lol. I will not soon forget A Train in Winter that's for sure.
>16 BLBera: Thanks Beth. I think you and Vivian are responsible for Ask Again, Yes being in my ears right now. Not very far into it yet but it's really compelling already.
>17 drneutron: Thanks Jim.
>18 vivians: Thanks Vivian, I would love to hear Mary Beth Keane speak. Lucky you.
Hi Bonnie, hope you're well in this unseasonably cold sneak attack by the Canadians.
>20 richardderus: Well Richard, apparently we broke a record here today: the lowest high temperature recorded on this date.....since they started keeping records. 25 degrees was the high today. Yah, that's how we do things here in Buffalo, not just cold but record shattering cold. Yah baby! And of course about half a foot of snow. That goes without saying lol.
Dear Evelyn by Kathy Page
I have a real affinity for Canadian authors but Kathy Page is a new one for me. After reading her beautifully written novel about the love and marriage of Harry and Evelyn Miles I will be seeking out more of her work.
The title would lead you to believe that this is an epistolary novel but that's not really true. It does have some excerpts of letters, mostly Harry's letters to Evelyn from Egypt during WWII, letters that are actually, word for word, letters written by the author's father; but for the most part the novel is a regularly framed narrative that covers their 70 years of marriage.
Although Page definitely brings out the joy and struggle of raising a family in the middle of the 20th century, I found the sections describing the changes that a marriage goes through, even after dealing with difficulties in raising children, to be the most heartbreaking, and yet probably very common.
Towards the end of the book, Harry and Evelyn are quite elderly and facing the extreme challenges of aging. Evelyn is distraught:
"What no one seemed to understand was that he was not the man she had married. Not the man who had written those letters in the war, or come back from it and built the house....The fact was that things ended. She felt suddenly very weak, sat down on the bed, put her head in her hands and sobbed until there was not a sound left in her."
Harry's got a quite different take:
"Evelyn, Evelyn! He had loved her all his adult life, long after the gloss of their youth and it's illusions had been worn away and left them with the essentials of who they were, along with a collection of sometimes contradictory memories...He had never denied her anything, material or emotional, that he could provide, and what she desired now was his absence from her daily life. Evelyn! She was frightened by weakness. It did help considerably to understand her from the inside. To align himself in that way with her."
Beautifully written, heartbreaking but at the same time so realistic, I was completely absorbed by Harry and Evelyn's story. Very highly recommended.
Five Days Gone: The Mystery of My Mother's Disappearance as a Child by Laura Cumming
I finished a good work of nonfiction that I am recommending. Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner's Semester at America's Holiest University by Kevin Roose. I read it for the Nonfiction Challenge as part of the October challenge. I have a bit of history with this title, as I urged our collections person here at the library to purchase it when it came out in 2009. I am just now getting around to reading it, but it is a title that I highly recommend. You can read my full review of it on the October thread for the Nonfiction challenge. The short version is that this is a good look at life on a fundamentalist Christian campus that manages to stay objective, informative, and entertaining.
I liked the pictures up top. It is fun to see what people are doing in their lives. You have really upped the number of books you are reading in September and October. Is that Buffalo weather keeping you indoors - or is it that with the kids back in school you have more time to read. :-)
>24 katiekrug: I thought it was really good Katie.
>25 karenmarie: Thanks Karen.
>26 benitastrnad: You always seem to find excellent non-fiction Benita.
>27 benitastrnad: I have no idea why I read so many books in September and October Benita. I don't think the weather has anything to do with it and school has little effect on me so I don't think that's it. I guess it will remain a mystery lol.
>22 brenzi: Whoo-ee! That's heartbreaking right there, and that's just a tiny taste. Lovely appreciation of the book.
Happy "who left the door to Canada open?!" weekend!
Hi Richard, actually we've got a sunny day and 42 degrees right now and I just came back from a nice walk. It's beautiful out. And yes, Dear Evelyn was a real unexpected pleasure.
Happy Sunday, Bonnie. A bit milder here too, but cloudy. Glad you got out for a stroll. How is your audio treating you?
Five Days Gone: The Mystery of My Mother's Disappearance as a Child by Laura Cumming
"Photography gives us memories we hardly knew we had: the house where we were born, our infant selves, the embarrassing clothes we once wore. But the camera is also capable of giving us memories we cannot actually have because we were not there in the first place."
In 1929, the author's mother, Betty, disappeared from the beach near her home on the English coast. She was three years old. For five days no one could find her, leaving her adoptive parents frantic. This book is her daughter's effort to examine what was done and how it all unfolded as it all seemed to result in a life full of misery.
It's a beautiful book, filled with charming photographs and relevant artwork that I absolutely loved. And the mystery is carefully revealed through these pieces as well as letters and writings Betty contributed in the 1980s as she recalled certain events and people. It all comes together beautifully to unveil a life that could have been so different. Highly recommended.
This book is on the shortlist for the Baillie Gifford Prize for non-fiction writing, which I think will be awarded this week. Also on the shortlist, Furious Hours by Casey Cep, which I read earlier this year.
>31 msf59: Hi Mark. I just finished my latest audio today and I'm working on some remarks right now. In a word, it was very good.
Ask Again, Yes by Molly Keane (audio narrator - Molly Pope)
In 1973, two young New York City rookie cops become partners and in doing so end up having a lifelong connection involving their families, the Stanhopes and the Gleasons. That relationship is cemented when they end up being next door neighbors in the suburban community of Gillam.
The author did a yeoman's job of illustrating the problems that can overwhelm families today and although mental illness and alcoholism isn't found in every family, it's common enough that we all know families effected by it in one way or another. Very well done and compulsively readable.
The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas
And on audio:
The Ministry of Truth: the Biography of George Orwell's 1984 by Dorian Lynskey
Finally......Season three of The Crown is up on Netflix. I know what I'll be doing tonight and until I've gobbled down the whole thing lol.
>38 brenzi: we watched the first episode last night! We had time for one more but hubby thought we should spread them out rather than watching all at once. Harrumph.
Poldark finished up last night and the Durrells of Corfu finished last week. It will be a few weeks for me before any TV series starts up again. THat is a shame as I have Christmas gifts to knit and tend to do that in front of the TV.
I just registered for Philadelphia ALA and will be looking for a roommate. I intend on getting one of the Conference hotels, which will make hauling books back and forth much easier. I will probably fly up late Friday and leave early on Monday morning. Would you be looking for a roommate for at least part of that time?
>41 benitastrnad: I like to think I'll make it Benita. End of January could mean nasty weather so I'll have to see.. I may fly or take the train if I go.. I really haven't thought about it much but I'll have to do that now and let you know.
Hi, Bonnie. I have never watched Poldark. I know many of my LT pals are loving it. Have not started season 3 of The Crown...yet.
Netflix is great isn't it? There is though the real tendency to binge on it. I now watch my favourite series by series rather than episode which is surreal but strangely rewarding.
>44 msf59: Well Mark, Poldark isn't my favorite series but I've watched every episode cuz ...PBS. I've enjoyed it and now it's done. I'm watching the third episode of this season of the a Crown as we speak.
>45 PaulCranswick: Yes Paul and so are Prime Video and Apple+ which I just got and of course HBO and Showtime....they're all great but I feeling a bit overwhelmed by them all. I try to find only the shows I know will appeal to me but sifting through everything gets tiresome.
I don't understand the watching the whole series at once. Who has that kind of time? Or that kind of network access? Or that much electronic equipment? Answer - only those who live in cities.
Try streaming one episode out in Kansas and see how that goes.
Well here's another one of those lists, if you're into that sort of thing bwahahaha 🤭
>47 benitastrnad: Hi Benita, I lived in the country for over 40 years and know exactly what you're saying about streaming. I've been here in suburban Buffalo for four years now and I don't even have cable anymore. Just streaming, so it's pretty incredible to me. But also pretty great. Saving me a bundle too.
>48 brenzi: I love the lists! So helpful for adding to my wishlist -- just what I needed. 😃
The Ministry of Truth by Dorian Lynskey
I didn't know an awful lot about George Orwell so this book was very interesting to me. The first part of the book delves into Orwell's early work and all the factors that helped to develop his eventual later work for which he is known, especially 1984. He was quite ill with tuberculosis in 1947 when he spent many months in a cottage in the Hebrides writing his most famous novel. His idea was that it was a criticism of Russia and even though he was a socialist, he recognized early on the horrors that Russia was inflicting on her people.
Towards the end of the book the author draws parallels to many of the things we're witnessing today with particular emphasis on the efforts of the Trump administration to make lies appear to be true ("alternative facts") and emphasizing Orwell's prescience. Highly recommended.
Good review of The Ministry of Truth, Bonnie. This one had completely escaped my radar, until now. Sounds quite interesting. Thanks.
The Feast of the Goat by Mario Vargas Llosa
Set in the middle of the last century in the Dominican Republic, this historical fiction told the story of forty nine year old Urania who returns to her native country after thirty five years in the U.S. As she gets reacquainted with her family, including the father she despises, the story of life under the rule of the brutal dictator Generalissimo Rafael Trujillo is related. Chapters rotate between Urania's story and the story of the horrid reign of this dictator and the plans for his assassination and its aftermath.
A brilliant book that revealed horrors too many to list here and many of which I skimmed over, the narrative absolutely pulses with energy and had me wondering how far this pathetic man and his cronies went to achieve their dominance over the people he ruled with an iron fist.
I learned a lot about a time and era I was aware of but knew little about. That's what I love about excellent historical fiction and this was a fine example of that.
Here's a question? Why are we still eating romaine lettuce?? Once more it is making people sick. Every single year it seems it makes people sick. I think I'm done with it. What is it with Romaine and never any other kind of lettuce? Enquiring minds want to know.
Happy Turkey Day! Rob's working, so I'll see him Friday. He's requested green goddess seafood rice for our dinner. Carrot cake with pineapple cream cheese frosting *drool* and whatever he brings to drink. And no effin' Old Stuff (my deeply unloved roommate, gone to visit his son in Connecticut)!! Yay!!
>59 brenzi: Bonnie--Congrats on hitting 100!! And I hope any Turkey Day salads did not contain any Romaine lettuce. I don't know why that one always seems to be a problem. Anyhow, happy weekend.
Hi Bonnie, I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving! I just wanted to stop by and let you know that thanks to a Kindle promotion I now own a "box set" of the first three books in the Lymond Chronicies. I am ready to dive into them with you in January!!
>62 BLBera: I'm thinking I'll try to get to another Llosa next year Beth. I also like the sounds of Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter so that could end up being next.
>63 richardderus: sounds like a wonderful menu Richard especial the carrot cake. One of my favorites.
>64 Berly: Thanks Kim. Isn't it odd? Why is it always Romaine? I've sworn it off before but always resumed buying it but it gets to be a real drag.
>65 lauralkeet: Great Laura. I'll be ready. Will it be your first book in January?
>66 brenzi: It was all gone, except the carrot cake. To be fair, it wasn't my best carrot cake ever; but I finished it up with my coffee this morning, and enjoyed it just fine.
Happy Sunday, Bonnie. I have been really enjoying your Bills. I hope they keep on truckin'...
I am glad to hear that Dr. Siri is putting a big smile on your face. The books will even get better, once you get used to these wonderfully, colorful characters.
Mrs. Tim Carries On by D.E. Stevenson
Another delightful entry in the Mrs. Tim series, this time after the start of WWII and the blitz. I love the character development and even with the travails of the war on the home front, Mrs. Tim really does carry on quite well. Tim had a harrowing experience while at Dunkirk But all is well now as they get ready for the next stage in their lives. Good stuff.
The Johnstown Flood by David McCullough
This audio, read by Edward Herman, told the story of the devastating flood in 1899 that took 2,000 lives and was the greatest man-made disaster in the history of the country. The blame lay ultimately with the dam on the property of the South Fork Hunting and Fishing Club, which was done on the cheap without the direction of engineers or anyone knowledgeable. And of course the club was owned by wealthy Pittsburgh businessmen. The devastation to the valley below as the flood took buildings and made projectiles of them that washed away houses and residents was told in horrifying details. The club was never held responsible in any way. Criminal really.
>67 richardderus: I'm glad you could enjoy the final bit of it this morning Richard. I'm sure it was delicious. It was homemade after all.
>68 msf59: Hi Mark, we're savvy enough here in a Buffalo no to get too excited about the Bills. We've been let down too many times but somehow it feels a bit different this time. They are very entertaining at any rate. Yay for finally getting to Dr. Siri.
>66 brenzi: Will it be your first book in January?
I hadn't thought that far ahead yet, Bonnie, but at this point I don't think there's anything else jockeying for first position. Will it be your first read of 2020?
>70 brenzi: I just finished Red at the Bone last night. She's such an excellent writer. I am still pondering my review.
>72 lauralkeet: Well Laura I'm pretty excited to start a series that may rival the Anthony Powell series so it probably will be my first read of the year unless some library hold comes up unexpectedly. I'm also excited to read American Dirt which I don't think is being released until January 21 so that won't be a problem so I'm going to plan on it being first.
Believe it or not Red at the Bone is my first Woodson but I'm loving it at the 74% point.
Okay Bonnie, let's kick off the year with a new series!
I'm really glad to see you're loving Red at the Bone. I've also read and enjoyed Brown Girl Dreaming and Another Brooklyn. Brown Girl Dreaming is Woodson's autobiography in verse. It's technically YA but you'd never know it. It's really brilliant.
Well I'm glad to see you point out the YA designation for Brown Girl Dreaming because that was the reason I didn't read it when it was making the rounds Laura. Now I'll add it to my list so thanks for that.
Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson
A beautifully written story about three generations of a Brooklyn family. When Iris and Aubrey engage in sexual relations as young teenagers, the result is the child Melody. What happens after her birth is the crux of the story. Lovely language and very short, this book could be read in a couple of sittings. Very well done character development.
Yay for Cyber Monday. I just treated myself to a new Kindle Paperwhite. I had $38 left on a gift card and they offered $25 if I turned in my old one. The price was reduced to $85 today so I'm practically getting it for nothing. How could I pass that up? There's nothing wrong with mine but it's five years old so who knows how much longer the battery will hold up. Yay me🤗🤗
ETA: I'll get $5 toward an eBook too.
In the Dream House by Carmen Marie Machado
I am deep into reading Personality Brokers by Merve Emre and finding it fascinating. How two housewives with no psychological training come up with a test that is used so ubiquitously and that somehow believe has the answers to happiness, or at least job satisfaction. It is not a long book, so if you can find a copy, it might be good reading. I'll know more when I finish the book.
Just catching up, Bonnie. RL issues. I’m glad you are still enjoying Mrs Tim. The Johnstown Flood was an amazing book. When the dam broke, McCullough took you along as if you were drowning in that rush of water.
So I finished two books recently.
The Coroner's Lunch by Colin Cotterill
I have no idea why I've waited so long to start this series. I was tempted to go on immediately to the next book....yes, that's how much I enjoyed it. As it happened, I was making Christmas cookies when I started to listen to it and I found myself laughing out loud and I had to stop what I was doing and tell Mark how much I was enjoying it because he was the one who said I had to listen to the audio. I really hope they used the same narrator on the books going forward.
At any rate, Dr. Siri is a coroner in Laos in the 1970s, trying to function with very few resources, as the bodies pile up. He somehow has several cases that are very suspicious. I assume this will continue throughout the series which is at fifteen books right now. That's a lot of suspicious death relying on the coroner to figure out whodunit.
Anyway, it's the characters that really shine. I love these characters especially the two lab assistants Dr. Siri has. Dr. Siri himself is a septuagenarian, a widower, who should be retired but the Communist government has sort of insisted that he be the chief coroner for the country so he's stuck. His sarcasm and flippant attitude about the most mundane elements of his job and Laotian life in general are just priceless. It won't be long until I tee up the next one.
In the Dream House by Carmen Marie Machado
I knew absolutely nothing about this book before I read it except that it was a memoir on several end of the year "best of" and was getting rave reviews. I like to go into books with little knowledge to avoid, well, you know.....spoilers of any kind. Sometimes this leads to all sorts of eye opening reading experiences. This was one of them.
It seems that Machado has created a new sort of genre with this book that relates her experiences with with an abusive partner as they worked through a lesbian relationship. To cut to the chase, Machado has set up a most unusual format for this memoir in which she she is blindingly honest in her explanation of exactly how she managed to get through what was obviously a horrific experience for her. And she doesn't hide the fact that she could've, should've gotten out of the relationship several times but somehow couldn't do it. It made me feel that she was so real, so human, because I could picture myself doing something very much like that.
The writing is beautiful and I could hardly stop reading wondering how long she would put up with this woman who was making her life hell. The format, as I mentioned, is very unusual. She compared the Dream House, where they thought they would be so happy, to a number of tropes and headed each section of the book with that metaphor: Dream House as Confession, as Bildungsroman, as Noir, as Here Comes the Bride, as High Fantasy, as Doppleganger, as Demonic Pissession, as Unreliable Narrator and on and on. Absolutely brilliant. And somehow left me feeling unexpectedly hopeful and joyful. Very highly recommended.
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