Markon (Ardene) is present in 2020

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Markon (Ardene) is present in 2020

1markon
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 4, 2020, 5:55pm

2markon
Muokkaaja: lokakuu 28, 2020, 3:39pm

Hi, I'm Ardene, and like everyone on Club Read, I spend a lot of time reading for fun. I think my best reading experience in 2019 occurred early with Jane Crow & Song in a Weary Throat. Jane Crow is a biography about Pauli Murray, and Song is Murray's autobiography. That isn't to say I didn't read anything else that was good, but that stands out as a highlight for me.

In 2019 I spent a fair amount of time paying attention to point of view, and noticing where multiple points of view worked well and where they didn't.

Other favorite reads in 2019 include

Fantasy
Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett
The Raven Tower by Anne Leckie
Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones

Historical fiction
A tree grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (my first time reading this)
Cantoras by Carolina de Robertis
Fruit of the drunken tree by Ingrid Rojas Contrearas

Science fiction
Rosewater Insurrection by Tade Thompson (I haven't finished the trilogy yet.)
Velocity weapon by Megan O'Keefe

Link to 2019 thread

I did notice that I read hardly any nonfiction, and that all biography & memoir. So with trepidation I'm setting a goal of one nonfiction book a quarter that isn't biography or memoir. No other goals except having fun.

So does Foursome: Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keefe, Paul Strand, and Rebecca Salsbury by Carolyn Burke count towards this goal? I think so. I also recently purchased The four: the hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google by Scott Galloway. And Sassy Lassy listed Threads of life: a history of the world through the eye of a needle by Clare Hunter on her best books of 2019, a book on needlework arts that sounds quite interesting. In other words, it won't be hard for me to find candidates, but to pick one and stick to it may be trickier.

Link to 2019 thread

3markon
Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 8, 2020, 8:19pm

First Quarter Reads

Children of Ruin by Adrian Tchaikovsky

January
1. Foursome: Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O'Keefe, Paul Strand, and Rebecca Salsbury by Carolyn Burke
2. The fall of Richard Nixon by Tom Brokaw
3. Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd by Alan Bradley
4. Lost children archives by Valeria Luiselli*****
5. Edge of doom by Amanda Cross/Carolyn Heilbrun (reread)

February
6. Resurgence by C. J. Cherryh (science fiction)
7. Scarlet Fever by Rita Mae Brown
8. Manhattan: mapping the story of an island by Jennifer Thermes (history of Long Island in maps and words for juvenile audience)
9. LaGuardia: a very modern story of immigration by Nnedi Okorafor (graphic novel)
10. A better man by Louise Penny (mystery)
11. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
12. The late scholar by Jill Patton Walsh (mystery)
13. Bookman's Wake by John Dunning (mystery)
14. My degeneration: a journey through Parkinson's by Peter Dunlap-Shohl
15. Land of shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall (mystery)
16. Discovering History's Heroes: Ida B. Wells by Diane Bailey (juvenile biography)
17. The curve of time by M. Wylie Blanchett

March
18. Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
19. Who will write our history?: Emanuel Ringelblum the Warsaw Ghetto and the Oyneg Shabes Archives by Samuel D. Kassow
20. The forgotten beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip
21. Working by Robert Caro
22. Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie
23. The hidden world of the fox by Adele Brand
24. God land: a story of faith, loss, and renewal in middle America by Lyz Lenz

Link to 2nd quarter reads.
Link to Bingo card here.

4markon
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 4, 2020, 7:35pm

Am ordering a hard copy of Lost children archive by Valaria Luiselli. I've been listening to it as an audiobook at night, and keep falling asleep and losing my place. It looks like there is not a wait list for the large print version at the library, so I will soon have a copy in my hands.

In the meantime, I have too many other items started, including Rosewater Redemption by Tade Thompson and Dead Astronauts by Jeff Van der Meer, both science fiction, and the previously mentioned Foursome by Carolyn Burke.

I really should return the rest to the library.

5dchaikin
tammikuu 5, 2020, 9:36pm

Hi Ardene. I’ll be following. Hoping you’re getting something out of Lost Children Archive.

6wandering_star
tammikuu 6, 2020, 10:42am

In 2019 I spent a fair amount of time paying attention to point of view, and noticing where multiple points of view worked well and where they didn't.

That's really interesting. Was it a conscious choice or something you came to realise over the year? And any conclusions about what works?

I too often make reading resolutions about non-fiction, but rarely find at the end of the year that I have a strong memory of the non-fiction that I did manage to read. I'll look out with interest for your NF reviews (as well as all the others)!

7markon
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 8, 2020, 12:57pm

>5 dchaikin: Part of the reason I'm getting a hard copy is that I need to be able to look back at what I've read periodically & I can't do that with the audio. I'm enjoying it so far, though not having names for the boy or the girl annoys me sometimes.

>6 wandering_star: I think it started off earlier in the year with some things where multiple pov irritated me. For example, The ten thousand doors of January by Aliz Harrow. I devoured the protagonists pov, but had to finish her story b4 going back & reading the 2nd pov. (They were presented in alternating chapters, but I cheated & read one pov first.)

I think it's important that the reader be able to easily identify the pov & time & place. I read some stories (Velocity weapon for example) where 3 points of view were represented in 3 places, and knowing the time something happened mattered.

And I think that whether it works or not depends primarily on the skill of the author.

Well see what happens with the nonfiction. Just finished my first one.

Thanks for stopping by!

8avaland
tammikuu 10, 2020, 4:23pm

Will be stopping in from time to time to see what you are reading. I read very little SF & F these days, but that doesn't mean I don't like hearing about :-)

9markon
tammikuu 12, 2020, 1:54pm

>8 avaland: Good to see you Lois! You're welcome to get your SF/F fix here!

10markon
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 12, 2020, 2:15pm

Foursome: Alfred Steiglitz, Georgia O'Keefe, Paul Strand, Rebecca Salsbury by Carolyn Burke.

Why this book? Saw it in passing on a new book shelf. And thought it would be good to know more than I did about O'Keefe. I discovered O'Keefe in my mid-twenties, when I started paying a bit of attention to art – woman artist, sexuality, independence and OMG the COLOR PALETTE. I've seen some of her work at the Art Institute in Chicago, but looked at most of it through book reproductions.

I knew Steiglitz was a photographer, ran art galleries, and had a relationship with O'Keefe. Strand and Salsbury I didn't know anything about.

So, yes, I learned quite a bit about these four people, and something about their relationships, although the writing kept me at a distance – it was writing about them, rather than writing that got in their heads, or humanized them. Perhaps a biography or examination of O'Keefe's and Steiglitz' letters to each other would do that, or not, depending on the writer. (A year or two ago I read Julie Phillip's biography of James Tiptree/Alice B. Sheldon and that has become my gold standard.)

I did get a lot more information on these artists than I already knew, but at the end of the book I asked myself, what is the significance of the book? What is the significance of the artists? And I had trouble answering. The author doesn't address this, nor does she ever say why she chose to do a book on these four people.

It is easier to state the significance of Steiglitz and O'Keefe. Steiglitz hosted art exhbits in New York that presented American and European artists to the USA and promoted photography as a fine art form when it was relatively new on the scene. He was also a photographer in his own right.

O'Keefe was primarily a painter and brought an individual and American sensitivity to her art and was one of the first American artists to paint abstract art. She was also the first woman artist in the US to make a living with her art. She was known for her independence from the critics, and was financially successful during her lifetime.

Strand and Salsbury James are lesser known. I think they are included in this book because their “coupledom” parallelled Steiglitz and O'Keefe's in some ways. Also, Strand and O'Keefe were romantically involved at one time, and Steiglitz had a great influence on Strand, and O'Keefe on Salsbury James.

Strand was a photographer & film maker and a protogee of Steiglitz. He had to work a “day job” a lot longer than O'Keefe & Steiglitz. He and Rebecca Salsbury were married for about 25 years. Strand eventually broke with Steiglitz. He became a socialist and during the McCarthy era moved to France where he lived the last 25 years or so of his life.

Rebecca Salsbury married and supported Strand, helping set up photography and film travel, and it also sounds like she acted as a go between between he and Steiglitz. There was some personal and professional jealousy, at least on Steiglitz' part, but he controlled the exhibits he hosted, although Salsbury Strand did much of the work of setting them up behind the scenes. She also worked a day job much of her married life to Strand. She had trouble finding her medium, eventually settling on reverse glass paining after moving to Taos, NM. She also instigated a revival of colcha embroidery. Georgia O'Keefe's first visits to New Mexico were with Salsbury James and they stayed in contact the rest of her life.

ETA: I guess the significance of the book is that it did discuss the complicated relationships among these four people and show how they influenced each other.

Overall a dryer read than I'd hoped, I'll give it 3.5 stars.

11baswood
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 12, 2020, 4:17pm

>10 markon: So are you tempted to look further into their work? Certainly three of them were famous enough in their day. Back in the 1970's before digital photography there were plenty of art books featuring the work of Strand and Steigltz as well as the paintings of O'Keefe.
Enjoyed reading your review.

12dchaikin
tammikuu 12, 2020, 5:49pm

Also enjoyed your review.

13kidzdoc
tammikuu 12, 2020, 9:31pm

Great review of Foursome, Ardene. I was fortunate to see a comprehensive exhibition of O'Keefe's work at Tate Modern in London in 2016. I didn't buy the catalogue, though, and I may do so when I return to London this spring, to learn more about her, and Alfred Stieglitz, in particular.

14markon
tammikuu 17, 2020, 5:58pm

>11 baswood:, >12 dchaikin:, >13 kidzdoc: Thanks for stopping by. I'm more drawn to O'Keefe's work, and might pick up a biography (or a book with reproductions of her art) if I run across one.

15markon
tammikuu 17, 2020, 6:02pm

The fall of Richard Nixon: a reporter remembers Watergate by Tom Brokaw

I was in 7th & 8th grade during the Watergate fiasco, and thought of politics as boring. This book fulfilled my goal of getting an idea of what played out chronologically, but I didn't find it especially interesting. Apalling yes, but not interesting.

16markon
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 31, 2020, 11:24am

Finished an audio of Flavia de Luce Thrice the brinded cat hath mew'd by Alan Bradley last night. As usual I am easily amused by Flavia's voice, but found the ending abrupt and messy.

Why brinded and not brindled?

17markon
Muokkaaja: tammikuu 26, 2020, 2:31pm

I seem to be going through a period of slow reading. I'm not complaining, but this is unusual for me. Normally I have lots of books checked out from the library, and multiple books to read, depending on mood, energy level, and the environment I'm in.

Right now I have only nine items out from the library, and am actively reading two of them. One is a light audiobook I started last night for my bedtime read – I usually manage 10-30 minutes before I fall asleep. It has to be an easy read because I have to find my place again every night.


The second book is Lost Children Archive, by Valeria Luiselli. This book is a pleasure to read, and many others in this group have commented on it. It's the story of a family traveling cross country one summer and unraveling. I've just finished the first half, told by the mother, who focuses not just on her family, but also on the fact of immigrant children in detention, and an audio she's creating about them, hence the title of the book. I've started the 2nd half, the same journey told by the 10-year-old son.

I'm not clear if it's this book that is making me read slowly, or if it is related to my word for the year, present. I'm trying to be more present in the moment, in what I'm doing and feeling, rather than planning, looking ahead, or looking back. And I'm finding a lot of titles that I'm interested in are too fast-moving or action oriented.

(And yet, when I ordered the oldest Georges Simenon's novel in English at the library, The Bells of Bicete, and discovered it was the interior thoughts of a man felled by a stroke, my reaction, even though I was enjoying the writing, was that this was too slow a novel, so that may not be what's going on.)

It's difficult, because my list of books I want to read is long, but I want to take the time to experience and enjoy the ones I do read as best I can. I'm planning to enjoy the slowness while it lasts.

18RidgewayGirl
tammikuu 26, 2020, 2:31pm

>17 markon: When I read Lost Children Archive last year, I ended up returning the library copy and buying one because I found that the book demanded to be read more slowly than I thought I could manage (at that time there was a hold list for it). It wasn't a book I wanted to rush through.

I agree that it's important to fully experience a book, no matter how many books are waiting to be read.

19dchaikin
tammikuu 26, 2020, 10:21pm

Really glad you’re enjoying LCA. I listened so I can’t comment on the reading speed. (She reads it herself and it’s perfect.) It was a really absorbing book for me. I always had it on my mind, even for a long time after I was done.

20markon
tammikuu 31, 2020, 11:19am

>19 dchaikin: Absorbing is a good word.

Lost Children Archives by Valeria Luiselli

Not sure what I can say about this novel, except it will be one of, if not the, best I read all year. And I'm not sure how to explain that statement. I don't want to analyse this book. (Maybe that will come later.) Meditative in tone, elegiac? Poetic, intellectually solid, connected to the past historically and via literature. Grief and beauty. Depth, resonanting. Echoing? I was frustrated early on with the children not having names, but by the end they do have names, and yet have their parents taken good care of them? To some degree about how children pick up on atmosphere, make statements, place facts in their own world. And experience things adults would like to protect them from but can't. Connections.

Like I said, I don't know what to say. This is a beautiful book that is staying with me.

21dchaikin
tammikuu 31, 2020, 2:56pm

I recognize that feeling! So glad you enjoyed it so much.

22labfs39
helmikuu 2, 2020, 10:52am

Hi Ardene, nothing to add at the moment, only popping up to say I'm lurking.

23kidzdoc
helmikuu 9, 2020, 10:31am

I'm glad that you enjoyed Lost Children Archive, Ardene. I'll start reading it next week.

24markon
helmikuu 9, 2020, 3:15pm

>22 labfs39: Great to see you're here Lisa! Thanks for stopping by.

>23 kidzdoc: Hope you enjoy it Darryl.

25markon
Muokkaaja: helmikuu 9, 2020, 3:22pm

Finished two quick reads/comfort reads this week: Resurgence by C. J. Cherryh (part of the ongoing Foreigner series) and Scarlet Fever by Rita Mae Brown (fox hunting mystery series.)

Currently reading



The god of small things by Arundhati Roy (looking for something as engrossing as Lost Children Archive and not succeeding, but enjoying the read nevertheless)

Because the internet by Gretchen McCulloch (can't say I'm enjoying this one, but it is helping me understand behaviors of patrons at work – the patrons I tend to help with troubleshooting and computer training are mostly what McCulloch calls calls pre-internet people, with some post-internet people that have difficulty making a transfer from using their phone to using a computer.)

Listening to An American marriage by Tayari Jones, an interesting read.

Working on a “weeding” or “update and improving” project at work – going through children's non fiction to remove books that have old/inaccurate information or are in poor condition. We're in the 300s, and in another week I think we'll be bogged in the 398s (folktales and fairytales.)

Missed the last 3 exercise classes I wanted to go to, and am wondering if that is related to how blah I feel today. At least the sun has finally come out and I can take Milo for a walk to get us both moving. Had breakfast with some friends this morning, plan on attending a Mantra chant this afternoon.

Cooking? I may live on frozen meals next week, in hopes that I'll be inspired to cook when I'm off next weekend.

26AlisonY
helmikuu 11, 2020, 3:04pm

I'll be interested in what you make of The God of Small Things. It's on my TBR and I almost picked it up to read this week, but Blindness grabbed my attention first.

27markon
helmikuu 12, 2020, 10:35am

>26 AlisonY:: Ooh, I've only read one of Saramago's books (The gospel according to Jesus Christ), but it was excellent! I'll be interested to hear what you make of it.

28markon
Muokkaaja: helmikuu 12, 2020, 6:05pm

Finished two good and quick reads during my lunches this week and last.


Manhattan: mapping the story of an island by Jennifer Thermes
is a history of Manhatan Island in maps targeted for a juvenile audience, but I would also also recommend it for adults looking for an introduction to the island and New York City.


LaGuardia: a very modern story of immigration by Nnedi Okorafor
is a graphic novel which satirizes an American take on on immigration, using the conceit that aliens made first contact in Nigeria, where they have been accepted and welcomed, and the mixed response of the power structure and citizens in the US where they are not legally allowed (except while traveling through LaGuardia airport) but are welcomed by some and not by others.

I also finished two audiobooks, An American Marriage by Tayari Jones and A better man by Louise Penny, but need some time to reflect on them before I write anything.

29labfs39
helmikuu 12, 2020, 6:02pm

>27 markon: If you would like to try another Saramago, I would recommend The Elephant's Journey, as well as Blindness. Oddly, I couldn't get through the sequel, Seeing. I have also read The Double and The Cave. Although I didn't like them as much, they have stayed rather vivid in my mind. I will have to look for The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, since you liked it. I have three other Saramago books, but haven't gotten to them yet.

30markon
Muokkaaja: helmikuu 14, 2020, 4:55pm

>29 labfs39: Thanks, Lisa. I do want to read more of him, just not sure when. Blindness is on my wish list, and I'll keep The Elephant's Journey in mind.

31markon
Muokkaaja: joulukuu 22, 2020, 7:14am



1: See #7
2. When the tiger came down the mountain by N. Vo
5: Resurgence by C. J. Cherryh
6. My degeneration: a journey through Parkinson's by Peter Dunlap-Shohl
7: The fall of Richard Nixon by Tom Brokaw
8: The Seep by Chana Porter
10. Ancillary justice by Ann Leckie (reread this series during COVID shutdown)
11. Dragonfly sea by Yvonne Adiambo Owuor (counting this even though I didn't finish it.)
12. Ink and bone, part of the Great Library series by Rachel Caine
13. The grammar of God by Aviya Kushner (nonfiction)
15: The curve of time by M. Wylie Blanchett
16; Working by Robert Caro
17. Ink and bone by Rachel Caine
18: Who will write our history? by Samuel D. Kassow
20. Ash and quill by Rachel Caine (fantasy, YA)
21. And now she's gone by Rachel Howzell Hall (mystery)
22. Black sun by Rebecca Roanhorse
23. About face by Donna Leon
24: Scarlet fever by Rita Mae Brown
25: An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

I forgot about this last year, but am adopting this card from the 2020 Category Challenge group, with a shoutout to LSHelby, who creates the cards every year.

For anyone interested in participating, this year's cards can be found here (post 173), and directions for using them here (post 153).

Link to 1st quarter reads here.

Link to 2020 Category challenge thread

32markon
Muokkaaja: helmikuu 14, 2020, 2:44pm

One of the categories on the Bingo card above intrigues me - published in your birth year. Thanks to the internet I can easily compile a list of things from that year that intrigue me.

Which one would you choose of the following?

Which that you have read would you recommend?

Winnie Ille Pu by A.A. Milne translated by Alexander Lenard (Latin) (My rudimentary Latin Skills aren't up to this, but I had to include it.)

The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck*

Ring of Bright Water by Gavin Maxwell*

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark*

China Court by Rumer Godden

Solaris by Stanislaw Lem

Call for the dead by John LeCarre*

The bronze bow by Elizabeth George Speare*

Tell me a riddle by Tillie Olsen (short story, in American Jewish Fiction: a century of stories, edited by Gerald Shapiro)*

The curve of time by M Wylie Blanchet

Blues for Mr. Charlie by James Baldwin*

Edited to update links.
* means I can get a copy at the library.

33thorold
helmikuu 14, 2020, 10:21am

I’ve read the Lem, Le Carré, Maxwell, Spark and Baldwin. All good in their different ways. Miss Jean Brodie is the one I’d pick as unmissable out of that lot.

Of the ones I haven’t read, I’d probably go for Steinbeck.

34markon
helmikuu 14, 2020, 3:15pm

>33 thorold: Thanks for responding Mark. I think it's going to be hard to choose the first one.

35thorold
helmikuu 14, 2020, 5:38pm

>34 markon: Have fun! BTW, you probably don’t want to make the list longer, but A severed head and A house for mister Biswas would be on my list (if I’d been born in that year...), and there’s also one of my favourite late-period Wodehouse novels, The ice in the bedroom as a less obvious choice.

36markon
helmikuu 15, 2020, 4:50pm

>35 thorold: I did notice A house for Mr. Biswas on the list, but didn't know enough about it to put it on the list. And you're right, I don't want to make it longer:)

37markon
helmikuu 15, 2020, 4:53pm


A better man by Louise Penny (Three pines series)
Penny is a good writer, and I love the emotional complexity of her characters. But there are things I haven't liked about her novels as well – the conspiracy within the Suerte du Quebec, and in the novel before this one how Gamache did what he'd always avoided before this, putting individual lives behind the “greater good.” And I'm getting a bit tired of how he's always the savior. Am curious to see what will happen in the next one – will Jean-Guy get his own book set in Paris?

A better man seemed painfully convoluted to me – too much technique showing through? I guessed who the killer might be, although there were plenty of suspects, and she did keep me guessing til the end. I especially found the climactic bridge scene excruciating, too drawn out.

What I found interesting about this novel was the way Penny articulated an indictment of the ways social media is used to damage others, an attitude I've seen popping up other places as well.

38labfs39
helmikuu 15, 2020, 9:36pm

>36 markon: I read A House for Mr. Biswas, but didn't overly care for it. I found the main character tedious. What did you like about it, Mark? I know many people do.

39thorold
helmikuu 16, 2020, 3:18am

>38 labfs39: Well, it’s a long time since I read it — I don’t know if I’d still enjoy it now, but I remember finding the main character endearing, and the way Naipaul obviously loves him despite himself rather wonderful.
And the unusual view of the post-colonial setting. But it’s obviously a book of its time, a lot of the reviews on LT are along the lines of “why did I let myself in for 600 pages of this depressing nonsense?” Naipaul is a writer people are very divided about, anyway, both because of some of his opinions and because his personal life was not always comme il faut.

40dukedom_enough
helmikuu 16, 2020, 5:55pm

>32 markon: Solaris suffers from being a two-stage translation (original Polish to French, then French to English) but is still one of the best SF novels of the 1960s.

41markon
Muokkaaja: helmikuu 17, 2020, 3:06pm

>38 labfs39:, >39 thorold:
Thanks for your comments on House for Mr. Biswas and Naipul. I've decided that my first read from my birth year will be
The curve of time by M. Wylie Blanchet, the story of her family's summer trips along the coast of British Columbia in the 1920s, early 30s, published a few decades later.

>40 dukedom_enough: I'm keeping Solaris in my pocket for down the road.

42markon
helmikuu 17, 2020, 3:09pm

Abandoning Because internet by Gretchen McCulough because it's due back in a few days, I'm just 4 chapters in, and I'm not finding it as entertaining as I hoped. (It is informative, but not, imho, entertaining.)

43labfs39
helmikuu 17, 2020, 3:16pm

>41 markon: The Curve of Time sounds wonderful, Ardene. I look forward to your thoughts as you read it. I spent 15 years in the Pacific Northwest and always wanted to take a trip like this up the Inland Passage. Somehow never got to it.

44markon
Muokkaaja: helmikuu 17, 2020, 3:20pm


An American marriage is Tayari Jones much talked about epistolary novel. Actually, after I listened to it on audio, I got a paper copy and realized the letters are a bit less than a third of the novel.

I would call it a novel about love – not happy ever after love, but enduring love, and the difficulty of loving someone over time, especially when you are physically separated for years.

There are three sections and an epilogue:
Bridge Music
Prepare a table before me
Generosity

The first chapters acquaint you with (Little) Roy & Celestial, a young married couple visiting Roy's parents in Louisiana, and Roy's wrongful arrest, trial, and imprisonment. In the letters back and forth between the two of them you see the stresses and changes in their lives once Roy is incarcerated. This section covers several years.

The second and third sections cover Roy's release from prison and travel back to Atlanta where he hopes to take up with Celestial as his wife. This is the bulk, about 2/3 of the book, but covers just a few days (and some flashbacks.)

I suspect that different readers will relate to the characters differently. These are the questions I had for myself when I finished: How/why do I feel more sympathetic to Roy than to Celestial? Is it the character, or the way the author writes the character? It seems to me like Roy's thoughts and feelings are explicated more than Celestial's, that I know his prison life better than her life without him. And yet at the end of the book, I discover that I didn't know the external facts of his life there at all, just his internal thoughts, emotions, needs. But I don't feel like I know Celestial well at all. And Andre is almost a blank, incidental to Roy or Celestial.

What gives this book depth to me is the portrayal of complex people with differing needs, and the conflicts that arise out of a desire to care for another person while caring for self.

45markon
Muokkaaja: helmikuu 21, 2020, 7:42am

>40 dukedom_enough: I'm keeping Solaris in my back pocket. I'll keep the translation issue in mind when I read it. Have you seen either the original or the most recent movie versions of it?

Edited to delete repeats from post 41 (it finally showed up on my feed.)

46markon
helmikuu 17, 2020, 3:29pm

>43 labfs39: Lisa, the first chapter was entertaining, and also explains something about where the title comes from. (And I'll have to go back and look at it, but the idea is that there is a "curve" to time, that you can stand in the present and see the past and future.)

47markon
Muokkaaja: helmikuu 17, 2020, 5:36pm

I've finished two more mysteries, one on audio & one in book format. Both were mediocre.

I was especially disappointed in the tone and plot twist in John Dunning's Bookman's Wake. Perhaps I am mis-remembering the tone of other books in this series, but I remembered them as being a bit more light-hearted. (audio)

The second one was The late scholar by Jill Patton Walsh who has, with permission of her estate, continued Dorothy Sayers Peter Wimsey series. I liked the first two of the four she's published best, and I wonder if Sayers had more than one book in plotting when she died. I know she had started Thrones, Dominations.

48dukedom_enough
helmikuu 19, 2020, 5:40pm

>45 markon: I've seen both movie versions; the Tarkovsky is the better one IMO.

49markon
Muokkaaja: helmikuu 21, 2020, 7:55am

>48 dukedom_enough: Noted - thanks!


A quick note to add that I picked up My degeneration: a journey through Parkinson's by Peter Dunlap-Shohl yesterday, and read it last night. It's a graphic novel about the author's experience of Parkinson's disease. (He was diagnosed in his 40s.) I especially enjoyed the chapter Learning to speak Parkinson's, but there were (to me) interesting pieces throughout. I have had several family members diagnosed with Parkinson's, all of them diagnosed in their 60s & 70s from my parents' & grandparents' generation. Some things made me smile in recognition, some were poignant, and some made me wonder, "Did X experience this?"

The book is published by Graphic Medicine, a group that does podcasts and a blog as well as publishing health related comics.

50markon
helmikuu 21, 2020, 8:20am


Land of shadows by Rachel Howzell Hall is the first in a detective series featuring Elouise Norton, a homicide detective in Los Angeles. Smart and irreverent, Lou carries plenty of baggage. Her sister Tori disappeared when she and Lou were adolescents, and Lou carries around grief, guilt and an unsolved cold case. She walked a beat in the neighborhood she grew up in before making detective, has a good relationship with her team, and has been saddled with a new partner, Collin Taggert, a white male transfer from Colorado, running from his own problems, who has zero exposure to poor black neighborhoods like the one Lou grew up in. Oh yeah, her marriage is not in great shape either. But she does have two girlfriends, one a news reporter, that have her back emotionally.

Lou's and Collin's first case together involves the body of an adolesent female found hanging in a new development owned by the man Lou suspects in her sister's disappearance.

Fast paced, emotionallly complex, Land of shadows is a good beginning to a series.

51markon
helmikuu 24, 2020, 2:49pm


Watched Bombshell on my laptop the other night, a film I missed when it came my way a few years ago. Makes me want to read a biography of Hedy Lamar.

Next up?

The Club, about a group of retired priests living in one house and what happens when someone from the Vatican comes to visit.

52markon
Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 12, 2020, 1:31pm


El Club (The Club) is a Chilean movie that won the Jury Grand Prix at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2015.

I wanted to watch it because of the topic: what is the Roman Catholic Church doing with priests who are retired and in disgrace? How do they live? Do they have an understanding of what they did wrong?

In El Club, four priests and one nun are living in a house near the sea. They take joy in training and racing a greyhound. Then a fifth priest is introduced, one of his victims comes calling and all hell breaks loose. Hell (in my opinion) also comes in the form of a priest from the Vatican who has been sent to visit all houses like this to report on them and shut them down.

This was a harsh film to watch, and I found myself disliking all of the characters to some degree. And yet I'm glad I watched it.

It raises questions for me that the #MeToo movement also raises. Questions that I can't easily answer, and that our society doesn't seem to want to grapple with or articulate publicly.

Now that women appear to be taken more seriously when they speak up about misogyny in the workplace, and that there is an awareness that institutions like the Roman Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts, various Olympic organizations have known there were sexual predators in their midst, but protected the organization rather than the victims, how do we move forward?

There is, of course, punishment meted out by the courts in the form of criminal sentences or financial penalties. But punishment won't fix the problem. In my opinion we need more than a callout culture and prosecution.

How do we at least avoid the perpetuation of the problem in younger generations? And what do we do with those in positions of less prominence than the Harvey Weinsteins, who will still need to earn a living and live somewhere after the allegations against them are proved, disproved, or papered over? Because a few high profile prosecutions and convictions won't make this go away.

53markon
maaliskuu 12, 2020, 2:21pm

On a lighter note, I've had two pleasant reads recently.


The curve of time by M. Wylie Blanchet
I read this memoir (with black & white photos) because it sounded interesting and because it fills the bingo square for a book published in my birth year.

Capri (Blanchet) was widowed in the early 1920s. In the summer she, her children, and often their dog explored the coastal waters around Vancouver Island and to the north in their 25 foot cruiser, The Caprice. This book is bit like diary entries, or a blog, condensing several years of travel between the pages of one book.


Ancillary sword by Anne Leckie

This one is a reread - I listened to the second in the Anicllary trilogy on audio this time, and it was overall a pleasure. I say overall because the voices of two of the characters were quite annoying to me. But they were "bad" characters and I did not feel much sympathy towards them. And yet, in a series set in a world where the dominate culture uses the words she/her as the generic for all humans, I wondered at this use of a higher, and (in my ears) whiny voice for these two. Adoja Anjoh does an excellent job of voicing multiple characters.

I enjoyed exploring the world of the Radach further with Breq and her crew, including Seivarden and Tisarwat. This novel dives deeper into Imperial Radach customs, the relationship of a Ship (and it's ancillaries) and its Captain, and the question of what justice means. There is ultimately more resolution for Breq, though of course what has happened to her can't be completely healed. I'm looking forward to listening to the third book in the series, Ancillary Mercy, and then to the first novel, Anicllary Justice when I can get it from the library.

54dukedom_enough
maaliskuu 15, 2020, 5:06pm

>52 markon: "...a few high profile prosecutions and convictions won't make this go away."
True.

55markon
maaliskuu 16, 2020, 2:51pm

>54 dukedom_enough: Yeah. It's a complicated problem without an easy solution.

56markon
Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 16, 2020, 2:56pm


Finally, I took several weeks to read Who will write our history?: Emanuel Rignelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto and the Oyneb Shabes Archives (The by Samuel D. Kassow

This book was originally published in 2007, I saw the documentary based on the book last year, and it is now available on DVD and Amazon Prime (and possibly Hulu.) With a focus on Ringelblum, the book gives some background on the cultural/historical mileau of Poland between World War I & II, and describes the work of Oyneg Shabes, which collected, organized and hid documentation of Poland, and particularly Warsaw, during the German occupation, 1939-1943.

For me, the book was dryer than the movie, but well worth reading for the first three chapters alone. The first two gave me a glimpse of Emanuel Ringelblum's (and Oyneg Shabbes) intellectual and political development and the Jewish culture that shaped Ringelblum between World War I & II in Poland, including the foundation of YIVO (Yiddish Scientific Institute) in 1925 to preserve and study Jewish history and culture in Eastern Europe. (headquartered in New York City after World War II.)

The third chapter, “History for the people,” talks about how Ringelblum as a historian and educated Jews in general began to see themselves as creating an historical picture of Judaism that affirmed Jewish distinctiveness as a contributor to Eastern European society, rather than as a simply a religious community that Poland had welcomed as refugees. This also led to a rejection of assimilation, and an emphasis on developing Yiddish not only as a language of the people, but as an intellectual language as well.

The remaining chapters (4-9) discuss the development and different aspects if the Oyneg Shabes group Ringelblum led from 1939-1943, which chronicled the life and culture of Jewish Poland, especially Warsaw, during the German occupation. This is the group that created a report of the Chelmo massacre and smuggled it to London. Their archives were hidden before the destruction of the ghetto and partially recovered in the 1940s & 50s; the recovered documents can be accessed electrionically by researchers at United States Holocaust Museum and the hJewish Historical Institute.

57labfs39
maaliskuu 17, 2020, 9:01am

>56 markon: Sounds interesting. I checked and it's not available on Netflix or Hulu, but is on Amazon Prime.

58avaland
maaliskuu 18, 2020, 5:00pm

Still keeping up with your reading, but I have no intelligent comments (I see the hubby has been over here and left a few :-).

59markon
maaliskuu 21, 2020, 3:07pm

>57 labfs39: It was interesting. Hope your move went well.

>58 avaland: Unintelligent comments also welcome.

60markon
Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 21, 2020, 6:39pm


The Rosewater redemption by Tade Thompson, 3rd of a three-volume science fiction series, and the author's first published novels.

I loved the first two of this trilogy and am puzzled by this one. The world created in this series is complex and I've had to work to keep track of what is going on in each novel. Maybe I wasn't as willng to put in the work on this one? Or my attention is buggered by Covid19? Or maybe it's just more confusing than the first two since it is narrated by Bicycle Girl, who pops in and out of time.

Not satisfied by the ending, suspected ** & >> would save the day. Everything isn't neatly tied up and I didn't expect it to be, but to me it ends on a whimper.

This isn't a satisfying review to write, but I've had to force myself to finish the book, and I'm ready to be finished with it.

I will definitely watch for more by this author.

61rhian_of_oz
maaliskuu 21, 2020, 10:09pm

>60 markon: I received Rosewater for SantaThing and really enjoyed it and am anticipating reading the rest of the trilogy. Well I was ;-). I'm now interested to see if my reading experience matches yours.

62markon
maaliskuu 22, 2020, 12:18pm

>61 rhian_of_oz: It may be that I'm simply reading this at the wrong time, but I just couldn't get into this one like the othe two. Hope your experience is different.

63markon
maaliskuu 24, 2020, 3:34pm


I enjoyed Ruth Reichl's books Comfort me with apples and Garlic and Saphires, both for the writing and storytelling, so I immediately jumped on the wait list for Save me the plums: my Gourmet memoir, about her stint as editor in chief for Gourmet magazine.

And enjoyed it thoroughly until chapter 25, when the ride at Gourmet begins to come to the end. Maybe it's the time I'm living in, but I just don't want to read about the end of the magazine. So I am abandoning it, while feeling a little guilt at not reading the entire story.

64labfs39
maaliskuu 27, 2020, 8:25pm

>63 markon: I too have a hard time leaving a book unfinished. But with all that's happening in the world, I'm thinking that life is too short to waste on a meh book, when there are so many wonderful ones out there. And it may be that the unfinished book is wonderful, just not the right book at the right time. I have a "bookmark stuck" tag on LT that I use in case I ever want to return to an unfinished book. I don't think I have though.

65markon
huhtikuu 3, 2020, 7:04am

>64 labfs39: Yes, it's at least not the right time for this one for me.

I find I'm listening to mysteries that I've read before, and need a certain amount of exercise (walking the dog, streaming fitness blender) to manage anxiety. If I do the exercise, I can do other things. And I'm normally a couch potato.

So sorry to hear you're not feeling well. I hope you can get some symptom-relieving medication, including relief from your cough.

66markon
Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 3, 2020, 7:48am

It's the end of the quarter, and before I do a roundup of what I've been reading, I need to post some of the reads I've completed this month.

Comfort reads: I've been listening to audiobooks that I've read before.




The forgotten beasts of Eld by Patricia McKillip is another comfort read, though I think this is a first read of this title.


Working by Robert Caro is a collection of essays and interviews with Robert Caro about his research and writing process which I found quite interesting. It inspired me to begin reading Means of Ascent, the 2nd volume in his work The years of Lyndon Johnson.

67markon
Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 8, 2020, 8:25pm

First off, the best book I read this quarter was Lost children archives by Valeria Luiselli. I'll definitely be getting to The story of my teeth and Tell me how it ends.

I followed the Dallas Morning News Tournament of Books for the first time this year, which couid have given me an overwhelming list of books I "should" read, but I've chosen one, Optic nerve by Maria Gainza to put on my hold list at the library.

I've also already met my quota for non fiction this year, which was four (one a quarter.) I'm still planning on reading at least one each quarter though. I'm not sure I can choose a "best." My favorite i think was Manhattan: mapping the story of an island a children's books that tells the history of Long Island via maps and text.

Working and Who will write our history? both qualified for Bingo squares.

69markon
Muokkaaja: lokakuu 28, 2020, 5:02pm

Viestin kirjoittaja on poistanut viestin.

70kidzdoc
huhtikuu 6, 2020, 4:04am

I'm glad that Lost Children Archive was your favorite book of the quarter, Ardene. I'll resume reading it this week.

71markon
Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 20, 2020, 8:41pm

Long time no post. I'm doing a lot of comfort reads/rereads these days in the midst of Covid-19 distancing.

What's keeping me sane and functioning?

  • Checkins with friends and family

  • Streaming services and zoom groups/webinars from church

  • Streaming excercise videos, yoga workouts, and routines from the YMCA

  • Mostly good weather: walking the dog & yardwork


    • Since I'm much closer to 60 than 50, I'm also working on transcription certification as a way to earn some income in my retirement (which is, hopefully, still several years away.)

      Anyone have a guess why the above paragraph/sentence is indented?

72markon
Muokkaaja: toukokuu 2, 2020, 2:48pm

To add to April list when LT will let me.

33. The tale teller by Anne Hillerman
34. Talking god by Tony Hillerman
35. Trouble is what I do by Walter Mosley
36. Murder 101 by Faye Kellerman
37. A shiver of light by Laurell K. Hamilton
38. Rock with wings by Anne hillerman

73labfs39
toukokuu 3, 2020, 10:04am

Waving hi as I pass through...

74markon
Muokkaaja: toukokuu 9, 2020, 9:34am

Good to hear from you Lisa! i hope you are starting to feel better. I'll catch up over on the COVID thread.

75markon
elokuu 16, 2020, 6:02pm

I have been absent since early May - reading defaulted to a lot of light & easy (fantasy & science fiction mostly.)

You can skip this post if you don't want to read my personal update. Books in the next one.

I started back to work at the end of July on a weird one week on one week off schedule (to redue the number of staff at work at one time.) I enjoy seeing people I'm working with and having more in person contact, but I'm finding work itself exhausting since it is mostly hauling books and other library materials in and out and around the building. Not to mention we have 5 staff working and four phone lines, and I'm spending a lot more time on the phone than usual.

Having said that, I am quite happy that we are not open to the public, and will gladly run my legs off going back and forth from the hold shelves to the table in the parking lot to keep people out of my face.

Most importantly my 92-year-old father has stayed healthy. (He is loosing strength in his legs, since he's often been fed meals in his apartment, and walking to meals is the only exercise he gets.)

My siblings have stayed employed, and my nephew is back to work. No one's home was badly damaged in the derecho last week. Currently the school system in Iowa where my sisters teach is planning a virtual start after Labor Day, though the governor is not winning any points by trying to tell them they have to go back in person or it won't count as a school day.

Here in Georgia our infection rate is still sky high and our governor still thinks things are fine.

I am participating in a Phase III mRna vaccine trial run by Emory here in Atlanta.
Anything I can do to inch us in a positive direction.

76markon
Muokkaaja: elokuu 16, 2020, 7:00pm

Most of my reading this summer has been relatively simple and fun. I do have a couple that I particularlly liked that I'll mention.


Both first novels, the fantasy, The empress of salt and fortune, by Nighi Vo and a space opera, A Memory called empire, by Arkady Martine were delights to read.


Sara Paretsky's essays titled Writing in an age of silence is about Paretsky's struggles to find her voice and keep writing as truthfully as she can about the real world she lives in, even though the world she hopes to live in is quite different from the world as it is.



Currently I'm dipping in and out of The good immigrant a collection of essays by POC in Great Britain and working through Me and white supremacy by Layla F. Saad with an online group.


I'm also reading The dragonfly sea set off the coast of Kenya. I loved author Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor's first book, Dust, and this is just as well written.

(Size of graphics is a result of frustration with my laptop keyboard.)

Time to take a break and get me and Milo outside and then eat!

77markon
Muokkaaja: joulukuu 20, 2020, 2:37pm

Quarter 3 Reads

Still sticking to primarily easy reads

August
39. Sweep in peace (Inkeeper series, not listed in order all by Ilona Andrews)
40. One fell sweep
41. Clean sweep
42. A memory called empire by Arkady Martine
43. Writing in an age of silence by Sara Paretsky
44. Empress of salt and fortune by Nghi Vo
45. Officer Clemmons by Dr. François S. Clemmons

September
46. Blood, salt, water by Denise Mina (mystery)
47. About face by Donna Leon (mystery)
48. The Russian cage by Charmaine Harris (fantasy)
Rachel Howzell Hall
49. Skies of Ash
50. Trails of echoes
51. And now she's gone

Fourth Quarter Reads

October

52. The night watchman by Louise Erdrich
Rachel Caine
53. Ink and bone
54. Paper and fire
55. Ash and quill
56. The searcher by Tana French
57. Verdict in blood by Gail Bowen (mystery)

November
58. Piranesi by Susana Clark
59. In the quick by Kate Hope Day
60. In search of the color purple by Salamishah Tillet
61. The Seep by Chana Porter (science fiction)
62. Master of Poisons by Andrea Hairston (fantasy)
63. Dreamsnake by Vonda McIntyre (science fiction)

December

64. The long call by Ann Cleeves (mystery)
65. Black sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (fantasy)
66. Unconquerable Sun by Kate Elliott
67. When the tiger came down the mountain by Nghi Vo
68. Down among the sticks and bones by Sean Maguire

78markon
Muokkaaja: joulukuu 7, 2020, 9:08pm



My latest easy reads/comfort reads were by a new-too-me author, Ilona Andrews. I read all 5 novels in the fantasy innkeeper series in quick succession. I'm mostly intrigued by the concept of earth as a nexus in the universe where many people stay on the way from here to there, hosted by innkeepers whose primary responsibility is the safety & comfort of travelers and keeping people on earth from finding out who they really host. A little too much romance and ecstatic sex for me, but fun reads nevertheless.

79markon
Muokkaaja: elokuu 27, 2020, 5:33pm


Officer Clemmons
Interesting account of Francois Clemmons life, including but not limited to his role on Fred Rogers Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, and the challenges being black and gay in the music industry posed in the 1960s to early 90s.

80avaland
elokuu 28, 2020, 8:06am

>76 markon: From your notes, the Paretsky essays interests me. While I have not read her, I met her once a long time ago at a booksellers' convention. And it seems all the more interesting to me because she writes crime novels .... May have to put that on a longlist to read!

81markon
syyskuu 27, 2020, 3:26pm

>80 avaland: Lois, I enjoyed seeing how her world view & writing developed over time.

82markon
Muokkaaja: lokakuu 9, 2020, 5:40pm

Comments on an excerpt from Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

My initial dip is pleasant. The tone and labyrinth remind me of The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern (s).

And then I start to ask questions. Where does this guy Piranesi come from? Why am I assuming he's male? What is his name if Piranesi isn't it? How does he function as well as he does if hes never known anyone besides the Other? Who does the laundry? Who taught him to cook?

I am intrigued by this world and want to learn more, and I'm also a bit suspicious.

It's also inspired me to look up and learn a bit about Giovanni Piranesi and his two children Laura and Francesco.

83markon
Muokkaaja: lokakuu 9, 2020, 5:58pm

I finished two mysteries via audiobook recently. Both depicts complex moral environments. What they have in common is detectives doing the best they can to provide a little justice in a society/system where that is difficult to do. And sometimes they can't even provide that little bit.


Blood, salt, water (Denise Mina) is the fifth in her series featuring Detective Alex Morow. I found the character of Ian, an arsonist whose desire to help a friend loads him with emotional repercussions, particularly well drawn. The town of Helensburgh and it's complex web of characters are as complicated and tragic as Ian"s life. This is a great example of a story that depicts the details of how individuals' actions are influenced by the societal structures and expectations around them. It won't satisfy those who want a neat conclusion or one in which justice triumphs.


Donna Leon's About face, while less grim than Blood, salt, water, still depicts a society where it is difficult to do good. In this story I was primarily interested in the relationships and conversations of Brunelli with his wife and father-in-law. The issue of garbage disposal and the crimes related to it are not solved or resolved.

The focus is really on Brunelli and his conversations with Signora Marienelllo. And while I'm sure Brunelli's witness and testimony on her behalf are helpful, it is also something some would see as the police helping those with power and wealth. The initial crime against her isn't displayed until the end of the novel, and the judicial system doesn't address it.

This is the third or fourth in Leon's series I've read, and the first I've listened to, and I think audio may be the way to go on this series. An initial read of a few books in the series didn't interest me much, but I'm finding the depiction of Italian (primarily Venetian) society and Brunelli's relationships drawing me towards reading more.

84markon
Muokkaaja: lokakuu 25, 2020, 1:28pm

Viestin kirjoittaja on poistanut viestin.

85sallypursell
syyskuu 27, 2020, 6:35pm

>78 markon: Ilona Andrews is comfort-reading for me quite often. I like her Edge series, but most of all I like the Kate Daniels series, which starts with Magic Bites. I'm starting to read the Innkeeper and Legacy series, too.

86sallypursell
syyskuu 27, 2020, 7:23pm

>84 markon: I already had the first of both these series on my Wishlist, but now I am really looking forward to them. Thank you for your reviews.

87markon
Muokkaaja: lokakuu 21, 2020, 10:21am

Viestin kirjoittaja on poistanut viestin.

88markon
Muokkaaja: lokakuu 21, 2020, 10:21am

Viestin kirjoittaja on poistanut viestin.

89markon
Muokkaaja: lokakuu 25, 2020, 1:29pm


I'd like to write an intelligent post about Louise Erdrich's The night watchman, but I'm not sure I can. I've read it once, and the plot line meanders. I'm skimming back through it to note themes/details I missed, but that's taking a long time.

The titular night watchman is based on Erdrich's grandfather, who worked as a watchman at night and acted as one of the leaders of his tribe's fight against termination during the day in the 1950s. It follows this fight (and, in my opinion, doesn't satisfactorily explain how the tribe won this fight. But maybe that's not the point.)

In effect Thomas' literal job is as a night watchman, and he functions as a watchman for the tribe when the U.S. Senate decides it's time to end all treaties with Native Americans and evict them from their reservations.

It also follows Pixie (Patrice) and her search for her sister and sister's infant, who have left the reservation to live in the Twin Cities and haven't been heard from for a couple of months at the start of the novel.

As usual with an Erdrich novel, it's the characters and relationships that matter, and the ways in which the community contrives to retain it's traditional ways and what power it can that make up the focus of the novel.

ETA - I started skimming through the book and taking notes a 2nd time through, and am finding interesting themes/connections. Don't know if I'll make it through the 2nd time before it's due back at the libray, but this one is well worth a 2nd, more in depth look.

90markon
Muokkaaja: lokakuu 9, 2020, 4:58pm

Currently reading:

The great library series (YA fantasy) by Rachel Caine
Dystopia where the library of Alexandria was not destroyed, but became a worldwide institution which is regarded as the depoistory and dissimenator of all knowledge and wisdom, separate from all politics, and what an idealistic group of aspirants to librarianship discover about it when they win places to attend library school in Alexandria, Egypt.

See discussion of the series on Tor.com, which is where I first heard about it.


Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey
Historical fiction about a carrier pigeon and her American handler in World War I. Told in alternating perspectives by the (dead & stuffed in the Smithsonian) pigeon and the major.


The searcher by Tana French
I've loved the police procedurals by this Irish author, and this is her second standalone. She's good at character and suspense.

92markon
Muokkaaja: lokakuu 9, 2020, 5:56pm



Also in progress for netgalley


In search of The Color Purple
A book about the roots of Alice Walker's novel. Publication date January 2021.


In the quick by Kate Hope Day
Science fiction novel about an astronaut that seeks to solve the mystery of the failure of her uncle's fuel cell invention, which caused the loss of the ship Inquiry. Publication date March 2021

93markon
Muokkaaja: lokakuu 13, 2020, 5:45pm


The Grammar of God by Aviya Kushner

This is an incredibly rich stew of stories and a glimpse into some of the differences between the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh) and the Christian Bible as translated into English. Aviya Kushner, poet, teacher, and former journalist uses her family's habit of arguing about the meaning of Hebrew texts and her introduction to the Christian Bible in English, via a course taught by Marilynne Robinson, to highlight some of the key differences she sees between these texts. This is a deeply personal book, as well as one that gave this reader both a glimpse into how grammar and translation influence the meaning of texts, and the rich history of Jewish study and commentary of the Torah, prophets, and writings.

Best read a chapter or two at a time with time to reflect. Will not reward readers seeking one thesis/throughline.

94markon
Muokkaaja: lokakuu 13, 2020, 6:06pm



The searcher by Tana French

Cal Hopper has retired and moved to rural Ireland. He's always thought of himself (and the police) as being on the right (moral) side of things, and retired early when he became confused about whether this was true. By the end of the novel he'll have to face this question again, asking himself what the right thing to do is, and the answer isn't as simple as it used to be.

This novel was slower and less intense than I usually find French's books. If I wasn't so enamored of her writing, I might have found it a bit of a slog. I also found the ending to be more hopeful than her other books. I wonder if this might continue in her writing?

95Julie_in_the_Library
lokakuu 17, 2020, 5:59pm

>93 markon: That looks so interesting. Definitely adding to my tbr list.

96markon
lokakuu 21, 2020, 10:14am

>95 Julie_in_the_Library: I did enjoy it. Hope you do too.

97markon
Muokkaaja: joulukuu 7, 2020, 9:11pm

Two disappointing reads


All the devils are here by Louise Penny

Well, I'm not ready to swear off reading Lousie Penny, but I get closer with each new release. The writing is fine in this book, but I was disappointed in the plot. I'd been hoping that Jean-Guy's and Annie's move to Paris would lead to some character development for him, and new vistas for the series. Instead Armand and Reine-Marie have decamped to Paris to visit, and the plot develops in the same Saint Gamache direction. I also felt cheated by the way three events toward the end of the novel were handled.

See below if you're interested in what bothered me.


  • the miraculous undeading of Gamache & his friend Claude

  • the undeading of the archive staff in the library (& the actual turning to the good side of Louiselle

  • Stephan's miraculous recovery





Whiskers in the dark by Rita Mae Brown

Normally I find the Sneaky Pie Brown series light fun. Something about this one grated on me. I think it was primarily the plot centered in the 1780s, which involved two runaway slaves and an enlightened white female slave owner persuading her father to free their cook and help purchase the cook's husband from a neighboring plantation. It's possible this may have happened occasionally, but not nearly as often as I see it in novels written by white authors. Anyway, I was unable to finish this one.

98markon
lokakuu 25, 2020, 1:21pm


Verdict in blood by Gail Bowen
A new to me series set in Saskatchewan, featuring amateur sleuth Joanne Kilpatrick. I started in the middle of the series and did not have any problem following along. ★★★

99markon
Muokkaaja: marraskuu 20, 2020, 3:06pm

Well, I have been reading, though clearly not posting. And I seem to be reading slower than usual. I think the only thing I've finished is The Seep by Chana Porter, and I'm still trying to figure out what I think besides weird in an interesting way.

Latest RL escapades include a 90+ year old father with a broken leg and a missing cell phone.

My most interesting read right now is The great belivers by Rebecca Makkai.

100kidzdoc
marraskuu 21, 2020, 9:15am

At least you're reading, Ardene; that's more than I can claim, although I hope to do better this weekend, and the remainder of this annus horribilis.

I'm sorry to hear about your father's broken leg. I hope that it heals uneventfully.

101markon
Muokkaaja: marraskuu 21, 2020, 4:18pm

>100 kidzdoc: Thanks, Daryl. So far so good - he's in rehab and walking the hall with assitance. Also due to be finished with his 14-day quarantine next week. I talked with him on the phone this morning. Now if my sister's and I can get my brother (the one with the medical & financial POA) to sign him up for Medicare next year and get him some better coverage.

I'm sure you miss reading, but if you're trying to deal with multiple requests for assistance a day and work and cook (eat) and travel back and forth between Atlanta and Philadelphia, you've got lots on your plate. The books will be there when you have the time and the energy for them.

102markon
Muokkaaja: joulukuu 7, 2020, 9:18pm


Piranesi was a fun read, but I'm not sure I have a lot to say about it. I enjoyed Piranesi's naive voice, and figured out pieces of the plot fairly easily. A relaxing read. 3 stars

For a more nuanced look, see Elyse Martin's take at tor.com.

103markon
Muokkaaja: joulukuu 7, 2020, 9:19pm


Master of Poisons by Andrea Hairston

Master of poisons is Hairston's 4th novel (and the only one I've read.) The story is of a land of many regions and peoples where resources are spent and approaching exhausted. The path forward for the land is contested, and the story follows Djola, the titular master of poisons, er medicine, and Awa, a young woman who is sold by her father to the Green Elders on her 12th birthday. I was fascinated by the world/cultures described, and enjoyed Awa's story much more than Djola's.

3 stars

104markon
Muokkaaja: marraskuu 23, 2020, 2:32pm


The Seep by Chana Porter

I'm still trying to figure out what I think of this one, other than weird in a good way.

The Seep is Chana Porters' first novel, and it describes one person's response to The Seep, an amorphous alien who comes to earth and infiltrates the water, thus bringing everything (people, plants, buildings, etc.) under its influence. Follows one character, Trina, in her interactions with the Seep & others and her resistance to using the Seep.

This novel isn't so obviously about climate change, but one of the effects of The Seep is that people slow down and start to see/experience the planet's hurts and thus work to heal them.

My take on it right now is that The Seep, who haven't ever had bodies before, is changed by it's contact with embodied beings, though the focus of the novel is on Trina.

3 stars

Link to list of books read above

Link to Bingo post

105sallypursell
marraskuu 21, 2020, 11:32pm

>90 markon: I've started the Great Library series, and am about to embark on the second book. So far I am liking it a lot.

106markon
marraskuu 23, 2020, 2:33pm

>105 sallypursell: Glad you're enjoying it Sally.

107markon
Muokkaaja: joulukuu 8, 2020, 3:11pm



Dreamsnake by Vonda McIntyre
I obtained an ebook copy of this title from the library, and am quite glad I did. Though I had a vague memory (I thought) of the book, what I actually had a memory of was the short story "Of Mist, Grass and Sand," that makes up the first chapter of the book. I enjoyed the novel, which follows the travels of Snake, a healer trained by her community to use venom from the various snakes she handles to cure, or to ease a painful death when necessary.

Snake's travels lead her outside of the area her people normally move in, and set her on a journey with consequences and results she didn't foresee. The world-building was interesting, as was the character and the problems she addresses.

4 stars

108dchaikin
Muokkaaja: marraskuu 29, 2020, 3:51pm

Catching up from an embarrassingly long ways back, far enough back I can see the impact of the covid environment on your reading. Seems it hit you hard but also that you’re reading a lot now. The the Jewish books stand out to me - Who Will Write Our History? and The Grammar of God (which isn’t specifically Jewish, but the author is). Anyway, enjoyed catching up.

109markon
Muokkaaja: joulukuu 7, 2020, 8:14pm

Just us: an American conversation by Claudia Rankine is an invitation to talk and think about whiteness in the United States.

I'm going to be commenting here and there as I read through this book.

Here is one stanza of the prose poem "what if" that opens the book.

What does it mean to want
an age-old call
for change
not to change

and yet, also,
to feel bullied
by the call to change?

How is a call to change named shame,
named penance, named chastisement?

How does one say

what if

without reproach? The root

of chastise is to make pure.
The impossibility of that - is that
what repels and not

the call for change?

110markon
Muokkaaja: joulukuu 7, 2020, 8:52pm

Just Us: an American conversation
"Liminal spaces," is a discussion of the class Rankine teaches on whiteness, how it led to curiousity on what it would be like for Rankine, a black woman, to ask white men about their experience of whiteness, and her attempts to do so while flying.

I was struck by how casually white privilege is expressed and by how difficult it is for Rankine to pose her questions (I'd have just as much problem posing them myself.) How hard it is to raise the question of race!

And I learned about Shirley cards, the photo of a white model that was/is used to measure & calibrate normal skin tones on color photographs

111markon
joulukuu 7, 2020, 8:24pm

>108 dchaikin: Good to see you Dan!

112markon
Muokkaaja: joulukuu 15, 2020, 9:04am

The long call by Ann Cleeves

The first in a mystery series featuring Matthew Venn, this had a slow start. The book made sense internally, but it depended on characters acting in ways I didn't find believeble. I'm left quite disappointed in the characterization of two women in this book.I don't find the actions of two women (who are neither well-developed characters) believable. When coupled with the kidnapping of two women with Down's syndrome the ick factor in treatment of women is too high for comfort! I find it hard to believe that the girlfriend as depicted would respond the way she does, instigating the coverup which results in murder & two kidnappings. Also, I found the depiction of the murderer unbelievable. Anyone who is familiar with the psychology of victimhood know whether this is likely? In my opinion a clunky and psychologically unlikely plot. I'm interested in the development of the detectives and Matthew's husband, Jonathan. I'm also curious to see how Matthew's relationship with his mother & former community of faith develops. But not sure if I'm interested enough to read installment two.

As usual, YMMV.

113rocketjk
joulukuu 8, 2020, 3:47pm

Greetings! I've just finally found this thread and scrolled through. Who will write our history? looks particularly fascinating. I will see if it the film is still available to stream. Your description made me wonder whether you'd ever read any Isaac Singer. He first came of age during those days, and in the stories of his I've read makes reference sometimes to the Yiddish Writer Society in Warsaw. Singer got out of Poland in time to escape the whirlwind, but continued to write exclusively in Yiddish throughout his long writing career. Also, he was, for me at least, simply a great storyteller and chronicler of the human condition.

114markon
joulukuu 13, 2020, 12:02pm

>113 rocketjk: I read some Singer in my early twenties (over thirty years ago), but I'm sure would appreciate him differently now. Thanks for stopping by.

115markon
joulukuu 13, 2020, 12:09pm

I've been reading stories this week from Connie Willis collection A lot like Christmas. So far my favorite is "All seated on the ground," because singing is important.

Although I can tell I'm still going to like Augusten Burroughs You better not cry better. I'm rationing that one & will binge finish it the 24th - 25th when I'm not at work.

116markon
joulukuu 13, 2020, 7:10pm

"Mother ocean" by Vandana Singh. Paro is more comfortable in the ocean than on land. Free diving and interacting with a blue whale in the Indian Ocean help her figure out some family history in this story in an online anthology of science fiction.

117kidzdoc
joulukuu 13, 2020, 8:43pm

>113 rocketjk: I need to get back to Singer. I have the Library of America's Isaac Bashevis Singer: Collected Stories, Volume 1, but I think I've only read Gimpel the Fool in it so far.

118rocketjk
joulukuu 13, 2020, 10:48pm

>117 kidzdoc: Well, I hope you do, Darryl. I find Singer's stories life affirming and generous of spirit, even when they're sad, and also very true to the human condition.

119markon
joulukuu 15, 2020, 5:52am

>117 kidzdoc:, >118 rocketjk:. So many things I want to read! I try to be intentional about what I read, but there is so much more I want to read than I can manage! Maybe I can pick up a collection & read a few stories this year?

120markon
Muokkaaja: joulukuu 15, 2020, 6:18am

Taking stock before Christmas. I have a few days off starting tomorrow, so I plan to figure out what I want to cook myself for the zoom party the 23rd & Christmas Eve & Christmas Day. This year is really weird as I've chosen not to travel, so will be home with my dog Milo. I'm sure there will be a zoom chat with my sisters, and I hope to spend part of a day with a friend who also has no family nearby.

Currently reading:
Just Us: an American conversation by Claudia Rankine
Underland by Robert McFarland
Unconquered sun by Kate Elliott

Next year's reading: No specific plans, but I've been surprised (and pleased) to find myself most excited about the 2021 Category Challenge's year-long GeoKit. The first continent I'm visiting is Africa, via a buddy read of Kintu, set in Uganda. I've been promising myself to read this since I heard about it in 2014, so am glad to be getting to it.

121markon
Muokkaaja: joulukuu 15, 2020, 8:51am

I quite liked Black Sun, Rebecca Roanhorse's first novel in a fantasy series painting a complex picture of the cultures making up a precariously balanced polity in a time ripe for change.

The characters are well-drawn, with no one being good or evil. If you're looking for a good society triumphing over an evil one, this isn't a series for you! It's also interesting to see Roanhorse play with societies loosely based on cultures from Mexico & Central America.

I am glad the author included time in chapter epigraphs. The multipe POVs worked well; the non-linear timeflow was more difficult for me, but I liked how it came together at the end.

There were places where I wished we'd hurry up and get to the main event, but I think the world- and character-building paid off, and I'm definitely curious about what happens next.

122markon
joulukuu 15, 2020, 9:08am

One last post to say I enjoyed Connie Willis story "Adaptation" featuring Marley and the spirits of Dickens' Christmas Carol in supporting roles.

Link to list of books read above

Link to Bingo post

123markon
Muokkaaja: joulukuu 18, 2020, 3:05pm


Yum! In a new twist to a global reading challenge over on Litsy, the #litandfood hashtag will be cooking & reading from a variety of places in 2021. Though I don't have time to post on Litsy, I may follow the record.

124kidzdoc
joulukuu 17, 2020, 3:44am

>123 markon: Great idea!

125markon
Muokkaaja: joulukuu 18, 2020, 11:16am

>124 kidzdoc: In fact, I already found and prepared a Brazilian fish stew recipe (from all recipes, so who knows how authentic.) But it is simple and tasty, so I'm happy :-)

Modified recipe posted here.

Brazil is the country of the month for January.

126ELiz_M
joulukuu 18, 2020, 1:20pm

>123 markon: What is your litsy name?

127markon
Muokkaaja: joulukuu 18, 2020, 3:07pm

>126 ELiz_M: I'm bnp over there, but I haven't posted anything for at least a year. I have better conversations here & some groups I participate in on Goodreads, so I just don't have the bandwidth for Litsy.

128kidzdoc
joulukuu 19, 2020, 6:13am

>125 markon: Thanks, Ardene! Coincidentally a friend of mine at work is a nurse practitioner who was born in Rio de Janeiro, and on Thursday she gave me her recipe for Moqueca, which I posted in La Cucina, along with the one for Feijoada à Brasileira that I made last year. I'm glad that you liked the Moqueca you made, and I'll give Tatiana's version of it a try next month.

129markon
Muokkaaja: joulukuu 25, 2020, 11:45am



I am eagerly awaiting the US publication of Siphiwe Gloria Ndlovu's debut novel The theory of flight. First published in 2018 by Penguin Random House South Africa, the book won the 2019 Barry Ronge Fiction Award. It will be published in the US by Catalyst Press.

The most succinct description I can come up with is from Publishers's Weekly's review.

The novel begins at the moment of Genie Nyoni’s death from AIDS, when she is seen to “fly away on a giant pair of silver wings.” From there the novel details Genie’s family history, her childhood, and the intertwining lives of those close to her.

Ndlovu’s deeply moving and complex novel is astonishing for the amount of hope it evokes despite the darkness that’s so pervasive in Genie’s world, where she creates her own reality in order survive.


This is the first in a planned quartet of interconnected historical fiction.

Extract available here.

To hear what Ndlovu has to say, check out this interview in the Johannesburg South African Review of Books.

130markon
joulukuu 25, 2020, 11:15am



Happy Holidays.

131markon
joulukuu 27, 2020, 7:32pm