Beth's Books 2023 (BLBera) - Part 1

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Beth's Books 2023 (BLBera) - Part 1

tammikuu 1, 11:09 am

Happy 2023!
I am Beth, a recently retired English instructor. I read eclectically, mostly fiction, with essays and memoir and poetry also in the mix. I have certainly expanded my reading horizons here.

I generally don't plan my reading, but right now I am enjoying a collection of essays by Margaret Atwood and since I have many of her early books on my shelves, I might do a year of Atwood in 2023. Otherwise, I have some shared reads with other LT members and belong to a real-life book club. I would like to read more from my shelves this year, but those shiny new library books are SO tempting.

I am planning a trip to Spain this year, so I want to read in Spanish to brush up on my language.

Please feel free to lurk or post. I do read everyone's threads but don't always post.

I hope we all have a great year of reading!

tammikuu 1, 11:09 am

Favorites of 2022
Favorites from 2022

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 2, 10:00 am

Currently Reading
I usually have a fiction, nonfiction, and poetry book going at once.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 2, 10:14 am

Read in 2023
1. Portrait of an Unknown Lady
2. The Consequences of Fear*
3. Network Effect 🎧
4. Little Big Bully*
5. The Man Who Could Move Clouds
6. Wintering*
7. Burning Questions: Essays and Occasional Pieces*
8. A Dangerous Business
9. A World of Curiosities
10. Twenty and Ten
11. Super-Infinitive
12. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair*
13. Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands
14. Twisted Twenty-Six 🎧
15. Your Duck Is My Duck*

16. The Light Pirate
17. The Word Is Murder*
18. The Sacrifice of Darkness
19. Burn This Book*
20. Horse
21. Cold Cold Bones
22. The Inquisitor's Tale*
23. The Bandit Queens
24. Midnight at Malabar House
25. Notes of a Native Son*
26. Dinosaurs
27. A Lethal Lesson

28. The Lions of Fifth Avenue*
29. A Field Guide to Getting Lost*
30. Sharks in the Time of Saviors*
31. H Is for Homicide*
32. A Concise History of the Hawaiian Islands
33. Ex Libris*
34. The Alice Network*

35. Memphis
36. Who Owns the Clouds*
37. I Have Some Questions for You
38. Old Babes in the Wood
39. A Killing of Innocents
40. The Constant Rabbit*
41. Just the Plague
42. The Great Enigma*
43. Quarrel & Quandary*
44. Stone Blind*
45. Trespasses
46. The Dog of the North
47. The Faraway World

48. Pod*
49. Homecoming
50. A Ladder to the Sky*
51. The Marriage Portrait*
52. Trace Elements*
53. Dark Angel
54. Cursed Bread
55. Blood Substitute*
56. The Last Remains
57. Devotions*
58. How to Live or A Life of Montaigne*
59. Black Butterflies*
60. The Hero of this Book*
61. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret 🎧

62. Independence
63. Why Mermaids Sing*
64. Where Serpents Sleep*
65. A Town Called Solace*
66. Early Morning Riser*
67. Schooled in Death*
68. The Bookwanderers*
69. Death Comes Knocking*
70. Death Sends a Message*
71. Everything Under the Sky*

* From my shelves

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 2, 9:59 am

tammikuu 1, 11:18 am

Happy New Year, Beth! I love your topper picture. I'm looking forward to following your reading in 2023. I have only read two books by Margaret Atwood. One, The Handmaid's Tale, I loved; the other, Oryx and Crake, not so much. Which have you read so far?

tammikuu 1, 11:27 am

Hi Lisa - Happy New Year to you!
I've read many by Atwood: all the Oryx and Crake books, which I loved but not as much as The Handmaid's Tale, The Blind Assassin, The Heart Goes Last, Alias Grace, The Testaments, Hag-Seed to name a few. I also love her essays. I'm reading the newest collection now.

I have Cat's Eye on my pile to read soon. She does have a new collection of stories coming out in 2023, and I have reserved them in my library.

Other works I own but haven't read include: Lady Oracle, Stone Mattress, The Robber Bride, Bluebird's Egg.

tammikuu 1, 12:01 pm

>7 BLBera: You've read a lot! I have Blind Assassin and The Testaments on my shelves, but I'm not sure when I'll get to them.

tammikuu 1, 12:58 pm

My gap is Atwood's earlier work. Now, I pretty much read her work as it is published. Since she discusses some of her earlier work in Burning Questions, it gives me some impetus to get to those.

tammikuu 1, 1:06 pm

>2 BLBera: Coincidentally I just started reading Braiding Sweetgrass today. It's the selection for my native plant garden club which always starts the year with a book. I read Gathering Moss some years ago. Happy New Year!

tammikuu 1, 1:09 pm

Thanks Katherine. I loved Braiding Sweetgrass. It's one I kept and I know I will return to it.

tammikuu 1, 2:11 pm

Looking forward to your 2023 reading, Beth. Happy New Year.

tammikuu 1, 2:26 pm

Thanks Alison.

tammikuu 1, 2:55 pm

Happy new year, Beth! Looking forward to keeping up, at least when school is not happening...
The only Margaret Atwood I've read is The Blind Assassin, which I really, really loved. That was about 20 years ago - maybe it's time I tried another of her books!!

tammikuu 1, 5:28 pm

>14 cushlareads: Thanks. If you loved The Blind Assassin, you would probably like other Atwoods as well. We'll see how far I get with my plans. :)

tammikuu 1, 8:50 pm

And the first book of 2023!

1. Portrait of an Unknown Lady
Gainza returns to the world of art in this novel. In it, the unnamed narrator tells how she became connected to the art world. When her mentor dies, the narrator begins a biography of an art forger connected to her mentor. In the process she asks questions about how we can really know about others' lives and about the value of art -- original and forged.

I like Gainza's cerebral novels, but if you're looking for a plot, don't look for one here. This is a good start to my reading year.

And I love the cover.

tammikuu 2, 4:43 am

Happy New Year, Beth.
Your first book immediately interests me. That's a promising start.

tammikuu 2, 4:58 am

Your first book of the year sounds interesting! Can't wait to see what comes later. :)

tammikuu 2, 6:13 am

Happy New Year, Beth. I wish you a wonderful reading year. Dropped a star. :-)

tammikuu 2, 7:53 am

>17 Trifolia: Thanks Monica.

>18 ursula: Hi Ursula - I think it's one you would like; I know we've discussed plot before. And the art discussion might interest you as well.

>19 Ameise1: Hi Barbara. Thanks.

tammikuu 2, 11:56 am

>16 BLBera: Hi Beth, and happy new year! I'm looking forward to Portrait of an Unknown Lady, plot or no, since she managed to pull it off neatly in Optic Nerve.

tammikuu 2, 12:37 pm

If you liked Optic Nerve, Lisa, you will like this one.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 2, 2:51 pm

Hi Beth, thanks for stopping by my thread. I'm curious about The Man who could move clouds. I liked the authors novel, The fruit of the drunken tree, so am interested in where this one goes.

tammikuu 2, 6:05 pm

>16 BLBera:, >21 lisapeet:, >22 BLBera: Well I guess this is a sign that I need to add Optic Nerve to Argentina for my reading challenge.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 3, 6:49 am

Happy New Year, Beth! I didn't read Optic Nerve last year, but I should get to it soon.

tammikuu 3, 8:51 am

In January 2019 the ALA convention was in Seattle, and LT kindly provided tickets. Since we were in the process of packing to move I promised myself I wasn't going to take any of the free books. I ended up taking "just" 15-20, one of which was Optic Nerve. I've started it a couple of times, but haven't followed through yeet. Seems like it would be a good one to finish.

tammikuu 3, 10:57 pm

>26 arubabookwoman: I think that's where I got my copy. (Does LT have a library conference thread? You'd think I'd know this but no.)

tammikuu 4, 8:27 am

>23 markon: I am really enjoying it so far, Ardene.

>24 ELiz_M: I liked it, Liz, but it's a book I wouldn't recommend to people who like plots.

>25 kidzdoc: Hi Darryl.

>26 arubabookwoman: I'd be interested to see what you think of it, Deborah. I agree that you have to be in the right mood for this one.

>27 lisapeet: Hi Lisa. I have conference envy. I don't know the answer.

tammikuu 4, 10:26 am

Happy New Year!
>3 BLBera: I usually have a fiction, nonfiction, and poetry book going at once.
I'm the same :-)

tammikuu 5, 7:53 pm

>27 lisapeet: I don't know the answer either. Were you at the 2019 conference in Seattle Lisa? There was an LT meetup of sorts which included Tim, who I think is the founder of LT.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 6, 9:10 am

2. The Consequences of Fear

This is a solid entry in the Maisie Dobbs series. This one is set in 1941, and while Maisie continues her secret government work, she increasingly wants to stop and spend time with her family. There isn't much of a mystery here, but her personal life continues to develop, and Winspear explores the effects of fear on people. One of the characters is Freddie Hackett, a boy used as a message runner by the government. He is based on Winspear's father. These boys were out delivering messages at night during the bombings, which seems like child abuse to me...

Another great cover.

tammikuu 6, 9:14 am

>30 arubabookwoman: I was there! I've met up with Tim at other ALA conferences, but I didn't know about that one (or forgot because I didn't make actual meetup plans). I go to pretty much every major library conference, and am heading down to New Orleans at the end of this month for the revamped ALA Midwinter meeting (now with the slightly non-snappy name LibLearnX).

tammikuu 6, 9:35 am

>31 BLBera: I love this series, but I haven't read that one.

tammikuu 6, 12:04 pm

>32 lisapeet: Nice. This should be a nice change from winter. Do you have a lot of work to do there, Lisa?

>33 Ameise1: Hi Barbara. The copyright is 2021, so it is a fairly new one. I think there is at least one after this one. I am a bit behind.

tammikuu 6, 11:53 pm

Happy New Year Beth. Hope you’re enjoying some free time. I read two on your 2022 favorites list late last year. I loved The Colony, but was mixed on Braiding Sweetgrass. I’d like to read that Patchett.

tammikuu 7, 1:06 pm

>35 dchaikin: Thanks. I loved the Patchett essays. I am becoming a fan of that form and plan to read more this year. In fact, right now I am nearing the end of an excellent collection, Burning Questions by Margaret Atwood.

tammikuu 7, 3:32 pm

Hi, Beth, I finally made it to your thread. I’ll be following along. Your mention of ALA brings back memories. The company I worked for always sponsored one of the big parties and had a booth there as well. I never got to go, but was involved in preparations for the sales folks who would go to man the booth.

tammikuu 8, 12:10 am

Hi Colleen. I've never been to an ALA conference, but imagine it would be fun.

tammikuu 8, 12:26 pm

3. Network Effect is one in the Murderbot series I hadn't read. Kevin Free does a great job with these audiobooks; for me, he is the voice of Murderbot.

This was longer than the others in the series and begins when Murderbot and Dr. Mensah's daughter Amena are kidnapped. Murderbot recognizes the ship that takes them; it's his friend ART, only ART seems to be absent. The plot is very involved, and I'm not sure everything was resolved/explained in the end, but it Murderbot's adventures are fun and I just suspend my disbelief and enjoy.

tammikuu 8, 12:58 pm

4. Little Big Bully

This collection of poems by Heid Erdrich was chosen to be part of the National Poetry Series, deservedly so. In this collection, Erdrich addresses issues of identity, violence suffered by indigenous women, and the environment, to name a few of the topics. Her "Author's Notes" explain the origin of some of the poems, which is helpful.

The format is interesting. She has long horizontal lines, with spaces between words. This makes me pause and read more deliberately. But I would like to ask her how she decided on this form.

tammikuu 8, 2:43 pm

the sister of Louise Erdrich. Interesting.

tammikuu 8, 6:33 pm

Heid is an accomplished poet. She is the youngest sister.

tammikuu 9, 1:58 am

>39 BLBera: I love Murderbot and refuse to read these critically. I am sad that the next one doesn't come out until November.

tammikuu 9, 9:41 am

Hi Rhian. They are so much fun. I am just happy to see a date. In the meantime, the most anticipated lists are starting...


tammikuu 10, 9:51 pm

5. The Man Who Could Move Clouds is an unusual memoir, focused on dreams and ghosts. As Rojas Contreras says, "This is a memoir of the ghostly -- amnesia, hallucination, the historical specter of the past -- which celebrates cultural understandings of truth that are, at heart, Colombian. The stories in this memoir are the true lived experience of those who lived it, as told to me..."

This isn't a linear story, and it is very much centered on Rojas Contreras' identity as Colombian. When Ingrid, her mother, and an aunt all dream of Ingrid's grandfather Nono, a curandero, the dreams send Ingrid and her mother back to Colombia. This memoir is an account of that journey.

I really liked this, but if ghosts and dreams are not your thing, you may want to pass.

tammikuu 10, 11:05 pm

>45 BLBera: I can't tell if that would be my thing or not, but I really like the cover.

tammikuu 11, 1:18 am

Hi Lisa, yes, I was going to mention the cover. It's another good one.

tammikuu 11, 6:51 am

Hi Beth! You are starting the year off well. I have somehow managed to miss (or forgotten) any reference to Maria Gainza before - sounds interesting.

tammikuu 11, 9:17 am

Hi Margaret. I think I read Optic Nerve sometime in the last couple of years. As far as I know, that and the one I just read are the only two that have been translated into English.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 13, 4:36 pm

6. Wintering begins with the disappearance of Harry Eide into the wilderness of northern Minnesota. He is suffering from dementia, and after days of searching his son Gus concludes that Harry is lost. The disappearance prompts Gus to tell the story of a previous journey into the wilderness with his father when Gus was just 18. The novel moves between the present and the past, and this structure works well to keep the reader engaged, wondering about the connections between the present and the past.

This was a book club selection and we had a good discussion of the novel although we were left with questions about the first journey and Harry's motivations. There was also some regret; this is the second novel of a trilogy, and we would have liked to have read the first novel before Wintering.

Geye's writing is descriptive and the beauty and danger of the Boundary Waters wilderness is clear; in fact, many of us wished we had read the novel in the summer. Geye is a young, talented novelist, and I will read more of his books, starting with The Lighthouse Road, the first book in the trilogy.

And, another stunning cover.

tammikuu 13, 8:12 pm

this sounds terrific, Beth.

tammikuu 13, 11:58 pm

>51 dchaikin: It is very good. You might want to read the trilogy in order though.

tammikuu 14, 12:02 am

Hmm, I think I have Wintering but not the other two. I'd be interested to hear if you think it stands up on its own once you've read the first.

tammikuu 14, 12:04 am

Hi Lisa. The husband of one of the book club members read The Lighthouse Road after Wintering and he said that while Wintering stands on its own, some things were explained by reading the first one. I guess it depends on how much time you want to spend in northern Minnesota.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 14, 8:55 am

>50 BLBera: for some reason when you mentioned this title I thought you would be reading Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times and was looking forward to that review.

Luckily, this one sounds even better. :)

tammikuu 14, 9:00 am

Hi Liz - Geye's writing has impressed me in both of the novels that I've read. His settings are especially well done.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 22, 10:11 am

7. Burning Questions: Essays and Occasional Pieces
I loved this collection of essays by Margaret Atwood. The pieces included are from 2004-2021 and include speeches and introductions to books as well as essays. All of the pieces reveal Atwood's curiosity, humor, and engagement with the world. We see, especially, her concern with the environment and women's rights. Her appreciation of Canadian writers gave me some ideas for future reading. I also enjoyed the essays discussing her writing. Her description of the writing of the poem "Dearly" was wonderful.

The tone is personal and as I sat and read an essay or two with my morning coffee, I felt as though I were having coffee with a friend.

Highly recommended.

tammikuu 16, 4:15 am

>56 BLBera: I read a few pages of the preview of The Lighthouse Road and was hooked so onto the wishlist it goes.

tammikuu 16, 11:49 am

I'll look forward to your comments.

tammikuu 18, 5:11 pm

>45 BLBera: Taking a book bullet for The lighthouse road and possibly the series.

tammikuu 19, 11:56 am

8. A Dangerous Business
I am a Jane Smiley fan, but I found this new novel disappointing. I liked the setting, 1850s Monterrey, and there were interesting tidbits of history, the books of the time, sailors' stories. However, the story and characters were superficial. Eliza, the main character, is brought to California by her abusive husband Peter, who is killed in a saloon fight. This young, sheltered, woman, brought up in a very religious household, then turns to prostitution without hesitation. I get that a woman's options were limited, but we don't get any sense that Eliza is bothered by selling herself. And way too much of the story is taken up by describing her customers.

When young prostitutes start to disappear, Eliza and her friend Jane, influenced by Poe's Dupin, start to investigate, if you can call it that. Eliza basically suspects every man she sees, and there doesn't seem to be much method to the "investigation."

I think there was an opportunity to give us a clear, detailed picture of women's lives in the West, as well a more in-depth discussion of some of the issues of the time. But, there is no depth to the characters or rationale for behaviors, which makes this a disappointing read.

tammikuu 19, 12:00 pm

>60 markon: I'll watch for your comments when you get to them.

tammikuu 20, 8:12 pm

>61 BLBera: That's too bad. I liked how she incorporated the history in Some Luck. I have the other two books from that trilogy and hope they're as good as the first and better than this last one.

tammikuu 20, 8:26 pm

I loved the Some Luck trilogy, Lisa. Was I disappointed in this one because my expectations were too high?

tammikuu 20, 8:29 pm

9. A World of Curiosities
This return to Three Pines was thrilling. Penny did a great job of creating a sense of dread as Gamache tries to understand the threats he is facing. The plot is very complicated, perhaps a bit too elaborate?, but I kept turning the pages. I liked how Penny integrated some real-life events into her story.

tammikuu 22, 1:11 pm

10. Twenty and Ten is a good story for young readers based on a real-life happening from WWII. The title page lists the author as Claire Huchet Bishop "as told by Janet Joly." Since the narrator is a girl named Janet, I assume that Joly is one of the children involved.

The story takes place at a school in France run by Sister Gabriel. One day, the twenty children of the school, all around eleven years old, are called together and asked to shelter 10 Jewish children. They are sworn to secrecy. The children agree and the story shows what happens when the Nazis appear, searching for the children.

Young readers will find this of interest. The book is short and simply told.

tammikuu 23, 6:09 pm

>66 BLBera:

I find it of interest! Incidentally, what did you think of the illustrations? (I have something of an above-average interest in children's lit illustration and not many examples of W. Pène du Bois' work).

tammikuu 23, 10:36 pm

The illustrations were fine; they didn't take my breathe away.

tammikuu 28, 9:51 am

11. Super-Infinite
One of the things I liked most about this excellent biography of John Donne is Katherine Rundell's enthusiasm for her subject. And while obviously well researched, the biography is accessible, not stodgy. Its audience is not just Donne scholars. As Rundell tells us in her introduction, "This is both a biography of Donne and an act of evangelism."

The work tells us about the facts of Donne's life, as much as is possible to know, and also shows us where there are gaps in knowledge. We see a man who is remarkable for his time and one who is complex and often conflicted. Rundell also gives us context -- there are lots of examples of his prose and poetry to illustrate what makes Donne so unique. She sums up: "His startling timelessness is down to the fact that he had the power of unforeseeability: you don't see him coming."

I will certainly look at his poetry in a new way. This was a good introduction to a poet that I don't know a lot about.

tammikuu 28, 5:50 pm

>69 BLBera: I have noted that one down

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 29, 11:48 am

12. Tolstoy and the Purple Chair
After her sister dies of cancer, Nina Sankovitch decides to reset her life and read a book a day for a year. At the end of this memoir, she does include the full list of books read, but in the memoir itself, she mentions two or three per chapter. This is more a memoir about grief and less about the books, which was a little disappointing to me. Instead, each chapter revolves around a theme, and Sankovitch discusses how the book or books reinforce the theme. This part gets a little repetitive.

I realize I am sounding negative, but overall I really did enjoy this memoir. Sankovitch is honest about the grieving process and the devastating sense of loss she feels. I would have liked more book talk, I guess.

And, another great cover.

tammikuu 29, 12:08 pm

Sorry to be trivial, but I love that purple colour. Just love it.

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 29, 12:09 pm

Ack! So sorry.

tammikuu 29, 1:56 pm

>72 LolaWalser: I would love that chair, too.

tammikuu 29, 7:38 pm

13. Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands
Excellent graphic memoir that shows us vividly what it was like to live in the camps in northern Alberta. Beaton lived with constant harassment; there were about fifty men for each woman. Beaton and the other women asked themselves if the camps turned the men into monsters, or if they were pigs in their normal settings as well. Her black and white drawings were effective, with the different characters well drawn. I felt as if I were there with her.

tammikuu 30, 10:26 pm

14. Twisted Twenty-Six
In this Stephanie Plum installment, Stephanie spends most of the time protecting her grandma. Grandma Mazur married and old mob hit guy, who promptly dropped dead. Unfortunately, Jimmy was the keeper of keys, and his friends are convinced that he gave them to Grandma before he died. At the same time, Stephanie is thinking about her life and career and considering that maybe a change is needed.

The audiobook was well done, and I find these entertaining.

tammikuu 31, 8:12 pm

15. Your Duck Is My Duck is a solid collection of stories about connections and how sometimes chance meetings can change our lives. Eisenberg presents a variety of people who all remember things differently. There is a group of aging actors who take issue with the way they are portrayed in a memoir and an unnamed narrator who tries to make sense of the lives of her mother and aunts, none of whom agrees about the past. My favorite story, "Recalculating," shows a nephew in search of his vanished uncle.

As with most collections of short stories, not all of the stories are uniformly excellent, but I did enjoy most of these.

If anyone would like my copy, PM me and I will pass it on.

tammikuu 31, 10:56 pm

>76 BLBera: I haven’t read any of these books, Beth. I may need to try.

helmikuu 1, 1:27 am

>78 NanaCC: They are very entertaining. The first three are laugh-out-loud funny. I've found they are very good as audiobooks.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 4, 11:23 am

16. The Light Pirate is a wonderful ecotopia that humanizes the damage caused by climate change. It begins with a hurricane, a common occurrence in Florida. As the hurricane intensifies, Kirby Lowe is searching for his missing young sons, while his wife Frida, alone at home, goes into labor with their daughter.

The novel follows the Lowe family as they struggle through the changes to Florida caused by the increased frequency and intensity of storms. Kirby, an electrical line worker, tries to keep the lights on in the homes of his town, not giving up although many of the residents are packing up and leaving.

Brooks-Dalton's descriptions of nature are stunning, and the Lowe family is one I will think about for a long time. Anyone who can read this with dry eyes is stronger than I am.

Highly recommended for the setting, description and dystopian aspect. And yet another stunning cover.

helmikuu 4, 1:01 pm

>80 BLBera: “It begins with a hurricane, a common occurrence in Florida.”

It’s fascinating to me read this. I lived in fl from 1973 to 1991 before I started college and never experienced a hurricane. Andrew came later that year (but i was in New Orleans). And there was hurricane David, but I missed that too and it didn’t do much damage. Anyway, just a curiosity.

helmikuu 4, 1:14 pm

I've been through a (minor) hurricane in South Carolina. I currently live in California, and while I have certainly "experienced earthquakes" here, the worst was momentarily startling and most could be mistaken for a heavy truck going by. "Common occurrence" is a funny thing...

Now my sister was here during the big one in 1989; her house didn't fall down but one on her street did (brick vs wooden - wood sways, brick separates) and there was major damage in the Bay Area as a whole (two major highways and part of a bridge went down, for instance). It's not that there aren't huge earthquakes here, it's just that the big ones are not as common as people think.

helmikuu 4, 1:57 pm

>80 BLBera: That sounds very interesting - a predictable future perhaps?

helmikuu 4, 5:00 pm

I lived through Hurricane Michael on the panhandle in 2018. One was enough for me.

helmikuu 4, 8:07 pm

>81 dchaikin: Hurricanes are a common occurrence in the novel -- which is not so farfetched today, I think.

>82 jjmcgaffey: I've been in a couple of those minor quakes and have no desire to experience a big one.

>83 baswood: It is speculative fiction, I would say.

>84 labfs39: When I lived in the Caribbean, I lived through a couple as well and that was enough. Although to me tornados are scarier.

helmikuu 5, 4:26 pm

It sounds like Florida (the setting) plays an important part in The Light Pirate >80 BLBera:, and since I'm trying to read books about my new state, I'll add that one to the wishlist.
I've been through several hurricanes (most in New Orleans, one in Aruba as a child, and we just had a near-miss in Tampa with Ian). Also went through a fairly major earthquake in Seattle. And I will say at least with hurricanes you generally have plenty of warning. In New Orleans, whenever a hurricane was headed our way, we headed to Baton Rouge.

helmikuu 6, 1:40 pm

The setting is key in The Light Pirate, Deborah although it might tempt you to move...:)

helmikuu 6, 11:03 pm

>80 BLBera: I'm looking forward to that one.

helmikuu 7, 9:50 am

I will be interested to see what you think of it, Lisa.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 8, 8:31 am

17. The Word Is Murder is a clever mystery. Horowitz has made himself a character, so we have a mystery as metafiction, an interesting intellectual exercise. The narrator (Horowitz) is approached by a detective about writing a book about a case the detective is working on. At first, the narrator refuses because he doesn't really like Hawthorne, the detective. But he becomes curious about the case, a woman who arranged her own funeral in the morning and who was murdered a few hours later. So, Horowitz follows Hawthorne around as the later investigates.

I see the homage to Sherlock Holmes here, and the idea is clever, but I have mixed feelings about this. It all feels a bit indulgent and the characters are really not well developed. This is a book club selection, so I look forward to the discussion to see what others think of the book.

Another great cover.

helmikuu 8, 8:42 am

18. The Sacrifice of Darkness
This young adult graphic novel is based on a short story by Roxane Gay. I admire Gay, and was interested enough to pick it up. The novel shows a world where the sun has disappeared, raising issues of scapegoating and class. The art is awesome, but it is definitely tailored for a young adult audience.

helmikuu 8, 10:15 am

>90 BLBera: I enjoyed that reading, but yes the characters could be a bit more developed. Perhaps in the second book of this series?

helmikuu 8, 12:52 pm

>92 Ameise1: It was an entertaining book, Barbara.

helmikuu 9, 10:30 am

19. Burn This Book is a collection of essays that examine the writer's role in society. A few of the writers included are Toni Morrison (who edits the collection), Salman Rushdie, Nadine Gordimer, David Grossman, and Pico Iyer. Many discuss the dangers of censorship and how it limits us to hearing one voice instead of many. Gordimer says the artist's role as a witness is important; she believes "that instead of restricting, inhibiting, coarsely despoiling aesthetic liberty, the existential condition of witness was enlarging, inspiring aesthetic liberty, breaching the previous limitations of my sense of form and language..."

Published about fifteen years ago, the collection remains relevant.

helmikuu 13, 10:49 am

Burn This Book sounds interesting; I'll add it to my wish list.

helmikuu 13, 11:16 am

>95 kidzdoc: Most of the essays are good, Darryl. You could probably skip the Updike one.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 13, 11:23 am

20. Horse
I didn't love this book, but to be honest, even though I am a Brooks fan, I probably wouldn't have picked up this books because I have never been horse crazy.

The story of Lexington is amazing though and I really liked the sections about Jarrett. The role of slaves in antebellum horse racing is a story worth telling.

What slowed me down was the structure. The story of Jess and Theo wasn't compelling, and I didn't find them well developed as characters. Brooks did her research and while the information about the paintings of Lexington was interesting, it distracted from the rest of the story. I think she tried to cram in too much information.

So, for me, the book was just OK. But if you love horses, this might be one you love. Oh, and another beautiful cover.

helmikuu 13, 11:26 am

I am reading Notes of a Native Son right now. The first essay, "Everybody's Protest Novel," focuses on Uncle Tom's Cabin and protest novels in general. Baldwin finds that they lack complexity.

helmikuu 14, 6:02 pm

21. Cold Cold Bones
In this novel from the "Bones" series, Tempe Brennan, forensic anthropologist, is in Charlotte. When she receives an eyeball on her doorstep, she realizes that several of the recent bodies she has examined have similarities to past cases. As the threat level escalates, she tries to figure out the motive for whoever is doing this.

Another page turner. I would like more of the forensics and less of the personal threat angle, but these are quick and entertaining reads.

helmikuu 15, 9:53 am

>71 BLBera: I read this book in 2014, a few months after my father died and that's probably why I liked it better than you seem to have done. But I understand why it disappointed you a little.

>90 BLBera: When I was younger, I read some of his YA-books and loved the humour. I wonder how this book compares. And it reminds me that I want to read more by this author.

helmikuu 15, 2:06 pm

>100 Trifolia: I liked Tolstoy and the Purple Chair; I would have liked more about books and less memoir. I should have read the description more carefully. It does say it's a memoir.

The only other book by Horowitz that I have read is Magpie Murders, which I liked better than this one. I haven't read any of the YA books.

helmikuu 17, 7:45 pm

>71 BLBera: I just have trouble wrapping my head around reading a book a day for an entire year. I love reading—obviously, or else I wouldn't be here—but something about that doesn't sound enjoyable at all. I realize she was doing it for therapeutic purposes, but I found that basic idea kind of off-putting.

>77 BLBera: I love Deborah Eisenberg. She can be hit or miss, but her hits are so good, and so many, really. I gave away my copy of her Collected Stories and still regret it (mostly because I bet the person I gave it to didn't like it much).

helmikuu 17, 9:41 pm

Hi Lisa -
I hope you're feeling better.

Yes, a book a day doesn't sound enjoyable to me. And if she were going to do it, I would have liked a lot more book discussion. There is a list of books she read at the end, but she probably only discusses about twenty in any depth.

I enjoy Eisenberg's stories. Most of the stories in this collection were good ones. Do you want my copy?

helmikuu 18, 12:28 pm

>103 BLBera: I am feeling better, though I still have a leftover scratchy cough. But not that feeling that someone let all the sawdust out of me, which is the truly miserable part of being sick.

I already have a copy of Your Duck Is My Duck, but thank you for the offer. I own a lot of her individual collections, so I don't know why I'm whining about the Collected Stories... I'm always trying to give books away and then immediately miss them.

helmikuu 18, 2:19 pm

I know what you mean about missing books you've given away, Lisa. I am anxious about reducing my book stacks, but it is hard.

I'm glad you are feeling better. Your Duck Is My Duck can go in my mini free library.

helmikuu 19, 4:29 am

>102 lisapeet: There is a hotel I have stayed in a few times and they have a copy of her Collected Stories in their "library"/bookswap shelf. I think it has never been taken away because it is such a large volume so I have been enjoying reading through it on my visits!

helmikuu 19, 5:38 am

Stopping by to catch up. Hope all is well!

helmikuu 19, 11:01 am

>106 wandering_star: That's a great idea.

>107 AlisonY: Hi Alison. All is well here.

helmikuu 20, 12:24 pm

I think I liked The Word is Murder a little more than you did, Beth, but I agree that the Magpie Murders is a better series.

I’ve never read any of the Kathy Reichs’ series, even though I binged the tv series during lockdown. Have you read them all? I just put the first one on my wishlist.

helmikuu 20, 1:07 pm

Hi Colleen - I think I've read most of the Reichs books. The early ones are the best.

helmikuu 21, 1:29 pm

23. The Bandit Queens is an excellent debut novel inspired by a real person, the original Bandit Queen, Phoolan Mallah. The author was inspired by Mallah's story because Mallah refused to give up after suffering abuse and injustice most of her life. In an interview, the author says she wanted to draw attention to the plight of women in rural India, yet she also wanted to add humor and warmth to the novel. She accomplishes this.

As the novel begins, Geeta has been living more or less as a pariah for five years, since her husband disappeared. Rumor has it that she "got rid" of him. Now, people generally avoid her and kids run away from her in the street. Her only social life is attending meetings of her micro loan group. When Farah, one of the women in the group, asks Geeta to help her get rid of her husband, Geeta becomes drawn into the lives of other women in her village with tragic and sometimes hilarious results.

Besides gender inequality, Shroff also brings in issues of caste and religious differences, but this novel doesn't feel didactic. It's a really original debut that I enjoyed.

helmikuu 22, 2:55 am

>111 BLBera: Sounds like a very good story. Unfortunately, I can't find a copy of it. Perhaps later in the year.

helmikuu 22, 4:46 am

>111 BLBera: Oh, I read a graphic story about her fairly recently, Phoolan Devi, Rebel Queen. I is directly inspired by Phoolan Devi's autobiography I, Phoolan Devi: The autobiography of India's Bandit Queen and it made quite an impression on me.

helmikuu 22, 9:46 am

>112 Ameise1: It is new, Barbara. It is a good story.

>113 raton-liseur: That sounds interesting. I will look for the Devi books.

helmikuu 23, 10:09 am

24. Midnight at Malabar House is a good historical mystery set in 1950 Bombay.

I enjoyed staying in India after reading The Bandit Queens. Midnight at Malabar House also focuses on a woman, Persis Wadia, the only woman on the Bombay police force.

The novel begins on New Year's Eve. Persis is on duty when she receives a call that a prominent British man has been murdered. She faces all kinds of obstacles in her investigation, and although I did have to suspend disbelief a bit, I enjoyed the mystery. Khan also gives us some context by adding in historical tidbits that portray the complexities of the times. Maybe he is a bit heavy handed with this at times, but I enjoyed spending time in India as it decides the direction the new state will take.

Thanks to Charlotte for bringing this one to my attention.

helmikuu 23, 10:51 am

Sounds gorgeous. Have you read Khan's Baby Ganesh Agency Investigations? A branch of my library would have these books.

helmikuu 23, 11:40 am

I haven't read those, Barbara. I think he wrote that series before he started this one. I might give them a try.

helmikuu 23, 11:42 am

>117 BLBera: 👍😃

helmikuu 24, 10:44 am

25. Notes of a Native Son
Collection of essays by James Baldwin that range from discussion of the "protest novel" to personal experience with his father and his life in Paris. As with any collection, some essays stand out. I especially liked the titular essay in which he talks about his difficult relationship with his father and the essays about "protest" novels.

helmikuu 25, 10:39 am

26. Dinosaurs
This is wonderful. I love that each of Millet's novels is so different from the previous ones.

In Dinosaurs she's written a novel that is hard to put down although if you ask me why, I have a hard time articulating what is so compelling about Gil's story. He is a man who lives alone, who volunteers to pass the time, and becomes involved in the lives of his neighbors. Yet, I think that is Millet's point -- all lives are connected. In Gil's life, we can see our own.

At the beginning of the novel, Gil leaves Manhattan for Arizona and decides to walk because "he wanted to feel the distance in his bones and skin, the ground beneath his feet." He moves into a house that is next to a house with a glass wall, and when a family moves into the "glass" house, he becomes first an observer, then a participant in their lives.

I love Gil and this quiet novel. If you're looking for a plot with lots of action, this isn't for you. It is a wonderful character study and I will think about it for a long time.

There's a lot about birds here. I need to think about how they fit. I will revisit this novel for sure.

helmikuu 26, 9:12 am

>120 BLBera: I was going to send you that one as soon as I was done with both it and the Angela Barrett, which I'm in the middle of—i put it down for my book club read. You beat me to it, but I can still send you the Barrett. Anyway, yeah, I liked it a lot too.

helmikuu 26, 11:25 am

>121 lisapeet: Thanks, Lisa. No hurry.

helmikuu 26, 1:17 pm

>120 BLBera: Yes, what a wonderful book. It has me thinking a lot about the title -- does it refer to the birds, or to us as a species on its way out? And how to live in the world with the knowledge that both as a person and as a species with a limited time left.

helmikuu 26, 2:09 pm

>123 RidgewayGirl: Yes, Kay, I do think the title is important and could refer to both. I also think the idea of how we treat birds and each other is key.

helmikuu 26, 2:30 pm

>119 BLBera: I'm reading Native Son today, the title Baldwin was playing on. Baldwin is terrific. I like that cover and I would like to read Edward P. Jones's introduction to this collection.

>120 BLBera: fun review. Another post that makes Dinosaurs sound great.

I'm catching up. I also enjoyed your posts on Burn this Book (>94 BLBera: ) which sounds terrific, and on The Bandit Queens (>111 BLBera: ) which sounds fun. Noting your dissappointment with Horse (>97 BLBera: ). I'm not a Brooks fan (even though I've read 3 of her books), so I'm not surprised. :)

helmikuu 26, 4:24 pm

>125 dchaikin: I love Native Son although Black Boy is my favorite. But I do see the shortcomings that Baldwin discusses.

Dinosaurs is great. I have liked other books by Brooks and was disappointed in Horse; maybe my expectations were too high. Still, many did love it.

helmikuu 28, 7:45 am

Adding Dinosaurs to my wishlist, Beth.

helmikuu 28, 8:05 am

>111 BLBera: That's a book bullet! Added to my (ever growing, never shrinking) TBR. And what a fantastic cover!

maaliskuu 24, 4:39 am

<127 It's so good, Colleen. Lydia Millet is one of my favorites.

>128 Julie_in_the_Library: This is very original and quirky. The cover is great. I've read some books with great covers this year.

maaliskuu 24, 4:50 am

I had a wonderful time in Hawai'i and got some reading done. I'm going to do some short comments to catch up.

A Lethal Lesson has Lane Winslow back in King's Cove. When the teacher of the local one-room school disappears, Lane steps in, and of course, helps her new husband solve the mystery. Solid entry in a good series.

The Lions of Fifth Avenue is a good historical mystery that looks at two women's lives in 1913 and again at the end of the century. An added bonus - Laura Lyons from the earlier timeline lived in an apartment in the New York Public Library. She struggles to find her place in a world that denies woman a place outside the home.

A Field Guide to Getting Lost is a wonderful collection of essays, my first by Solnit. She writes about artists, personal experience, and the environment. I love seeing how her mind works.

Sharks in the Time of Saviors is a beautifully written debut novel set in Hawai'i that looks at native Hawaiians in the present day and mixes in myths and legends from the culture. I loved this and can't wait to see what this author does next.

A Concise History of the Hawaiian Islands is exactly what the title claims and gives some good historical context as well as social and political context for today's Hawai'i. For such a little book, it gave me a lot to think about.

H Is for Homicide is another solid Kinsey Millhone mystery, a good audiobook. In this one Kinsey investigates insurance fraud.

maaliskuu 25, 1:22 pm

>130 BLBera: Welcome back, Beth! Which island(s) did you visit?

maaliskuu 25, 11:52 pm

Kauai and Hawai'i. The oldest and the youngest. :)

maaliskuu 26, 9:32 am

Welcome back! That looks like some good Hawai'i reading.

maaliskuu 26, 11:02 am

Thanks for the reminder about Sharks in the Time of Saviors, Beth; I have the Kindle version of it but I haven't read it yet.

I'm glad that you enjoyed your time in Hawai'i!

maaliskuu 26, 1:06 pm

>132 BLBera: We were in Oahu and Kauai last year and loved Kauai. Did you make it to Talk Story Bookstore?

maaliskuu 26, 2:00 pm

>133 lisapeet: Thanks Lisa. I didn't get as much reading done as I expected; we were pretty busy.

>134 kidzdoc: You are welcome. It is an excellent novel -- and a debut!

>135 RidgewayGirl: I didn't make it to any bookstores, Kay. We didn't spend much time in towns or shopping. I do like to go to indie bookstores when I travel, but it didn't happen this time.

maaliskuu 27, 1:01 pm

>132 BLBera: Those are the two I've been to as well. We went to Kauai when my daughter was three. Lovely memories.

maaliskuu 27, 1:27 pm

I was really happy with my first visit to Hawai'i, Lisa, and the islands we chose, especially after hearing from others how busy and how much traffic there was on Oahu and Maui.

maaliskuu 27, 7:34 pm

>130 BLBera: An apartment in the NYPL! (starts to daydream.....)

maaliskuu 27, 7:43 pm

>139 wandering_star: Doesn't it sound wonderful?

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 28, 11:32 am

Ex Libris is an enjoyable collection of essays about books and reading, ranging from the author's personal collection to William Gladstone's suggestions for optimizing space for books. The privileged tone grated on me at times but overall, I identified with her love of books and reading.

maaliskuu 29, 7:35 am

>141 BLBera: I have this one languishing on my shelf of books about books. I should wander over there and reacquaint myself.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 30, 3:35 pm

>141 BLBera: I only have one of Fadiman's essay books, and I want more - particularly this one! It's not in any of my local libraries, though, bah. I'll keep looking.

Ooh! I'm wrong, one library does have it (and Rereadings). Yay!

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 30, 11:37 pm

>142 labfs39: It's enjoyable, especially for us book nerds.

>143 jjmcgaffey: If you use an e-reader, I think they are available in that medium as well.

maaliskuu 30, 11:48 pm

That's what I meant, as an ebook. I get so few physical books from the library these days (of course, part of that is that I'm a member of nearly a dozen libraries, from my town and next door to a couple hundred miles away. Physical books mean two actual trips (to get and to return)...not happening).

maaliskuu 31, 11:43 am

maaliskuu 31, 12:41 pm

34. The Alice Network
This novel is based on a real spy ring run by Louise Bettignies during WWI. While some of the characters are based on the real women involved, the main characters are fictional. Well researched, the novel gives us a clear idea of how the women worked and of their bravery. I really appreciated this glimpse at some forgotten heroes.

What doesn't work quite as well is the post-WWII timeline in the novel. The Charlie St. Clair story isn't as compelling to me. I think Quinn could have placed the entire novel in WWI with the work of the Alice Network.

maaliskuu 31, 3:40 pm

>147 BLBera: I've seen this one around a lot, but haven't brought it home with me. I've read some great nonfiction accounts of female spies and resistance fighters, like Agent Sonya and Madame Fourcades Secret War, and I think I would be disappointed with a fictitious account. Your review confirms that I can safely skip this one.

maaliskuu 31, 5:20 pm

Yes, Lisa, I loved A Woman of No Importance, for example, and think I will stick with the nonfiction accounts. It is interesting to see a woman who has been forgotten brought to live, though. I would have liked the focus of The Alice Network to be on the WWI story.

huhtikuu 2, 7:55 am

35. Memphis is an accomplished debut novel about the power of community. Set in Memphis, the city is a huge presence. The novel follows three generations of women from the North family -- all of whom are deprived of husbands, fathers, and sons for various reasons. I was engrossed in these women's stories, and I look forward to Stringfellow's next project.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 2, 8:10 am

36. Who Owns the Clouds
This book won the Governor General's Literary Award, and deservedly so. It is a beautiful book. The illustrations by Gérard DuBois with their muted colors enhance the mood of this story about refugees. Told in first person, from the point of view of a young girl, the story tells of lines, waiting, uncertainty, and violence. The setting is unspecific, lending universality to the story.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 9, 11:22 am

37. I Have Some Questions for You
Bodie Kane is a well-known podcaster who focuses on Hollywood women. The prevalence of violence toward women preoccupies Bodie: "It was the one where her body was never found. It was the one where her body was found in the snow. It was the one where he left her body for dead under the tarp. It was the one where she walked around in her skin and bones for the rest of her life but her body was never recovered." Bodie returns to Granby, a New Hampshire boarding school, to teach a class on podcasting. One student chooses to explore the murder of Thalia Keith, a classmate of Bodie's, triggering memories and raising questions about the murder investigation.

So, is this a whodunit? Or is it a novel of ideas, about bullying, the MeToo movement, cancel culture, influencers and social media? Pick one. For me, the novel suffers from too many ideas. And it's too bad because so many of Bodie's concerns are worth exploring: the sexual predation present in high school; the inequities of our criminal justice system; the commodification of women's bodies; responsibilities and ethics of social media, to name a few.

Part of my problem with this novel is the fact that I loved The Great Believers, so my expectations were really high. Is this novel as good? No, but it does explore many important, relevant ideas, albeit with a lack of focus.

huhtikuu 9, 10:27 am

>152 BLBera: Makkai was recently on the OtherPPL podcast talking about the book and I'm fascinated—not least because I can never turn down a good boarding school book. I still haven't read The Great Believers, though it's sitting on my shelf and I can see it from here, and that's another subject/time period that I'm always interested in reading about.

huhtikuu 9, 11:17 am

I would like to hear Makkai talking about this book, Lisa. I do like boarding school books as well. I think The Great Believers is the better book.

huhtikuu 9, 2:35 pm

I thought The Great Believers was absolutely fabulous - one of my favorite books written in the past decade. So I will lower my expectations about her newest, just to be fair!

huhtikuu 9, 8:27 pm

High expectations may be part of the problem, Jennifer. I'll be interested in your comments when you get to it.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 2, 10:00 am

38, Old Babes in the Wood
I love the title of this wonderful collection of short stories. My favorites are the Tig and Nell stories that bookend the collection. Tig and Nell are partners who have been together for a long time; there's an elegiac tone to the stories, especially in the later ones after Tig is gone. There is warmth and humor here with a keen sense of the grief felt by Nell. Knowing that Atwood recently lost her long-time partner makes me think these are autobiographical, at least in the emotional sense.

But there are other stories as well; the interview of George Orwell conducted by Margaret Atwood through a medium is hilarious, and we also have a dystopian story and one narrated by a snail.

Great collection. Highly recommended.

huhtikuu 10, 10:50 am

Curious about the “interview”.

Hope you had a great Hawaiian visit. That concise history must have been quite a ride, especially if it’s new to you.

huhtikuu 10, 10:59 am

>158 dchaikin: It's a good story.

It was fun to read about places we were seeing and learn something about the historical context.

huhtikuu 11, 10:21 am

39. A Killing of Innocents
One of the attractions of reading a series is getting to know the characters and observing them as they move through time. Deborah Crombie's latest installment in her Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James series gives us the latest news about the family as the children grow and Gemma and Duncan juggle parenting with two careers. Other characters are back as well: Melody and Doug, as well as the prickly Jasmine Sidana.

This is well-plotted and kept me guessing until the end. The team is investigating a stabbing death of a young doctor, Sasha Johnson. They are stymied when there is another stabbing, of a colleague of Sasha's. How are the murders connected? And where is Sasha's brother?

Fans of the series will be satisfied.

huhtikuu 15, 10:11 am

40. The Constant Rabbit
I'm generally not a big fan of satire, but Jasper Fforde's novel gave me lots to think about and made me laugh out loud in places.

About fifty years before the events in the novel, an anthropomorphizing Event took place. Eighteen rabbits (as well as a few other animals) were "elevated" to humanness. Since rabbits reproduce so quickly, this is the group that causes the most concern to people, especially governments. As the novel opens, the UK government is planning to relocate the rabbit/human population to a Megawarren.

Through people's leporiphobia, Fforde satirizes xenophobia and Brexit. As one of the rabbits points out, human culture and civilization has disadvantages: "But there are drawbacks, too: the knowledge of one's own demise is a bit of a downer, like a massive spoiler alert, and your spiteful sense of illogical hatred does take a little getting used to." Rabbits also point to human's abuse of the environment to suggest that the rabbit population is not such a big problem.

My book club discussed the book and most liked it although one person pointed out that there are lots of unanswered questions. Another member commented, it was "weird but interesting." One of the unanswered questions: will humans and rabbits learn to coexist?

For fans of satire and Animal Farm.

huhtikuu 16, 11:23 am

41. Just the Plague
It seems that recently I have mostly reserved books in the library; I don't do much as much browsing as I used to. But browsing does pay off, as seen in this book by Ludmila Ulitskaya.

It's a slim volume, originally written as a play in the 1980s. Now Ulitskaya revisits it, and it is a novel that, as the author states, "has acquired a new significance."

It's set in 1939 and based on true events. Stalin is in power and people are pretty fearful of the NKVD, the secret police. During this time, Dr. Rudolf Meier, of the Anti Plague Institute, is working on a vaccine for the Plague. He is called to Moscow to report on his progress but has unknowingly become exposed to the pneumonic plague and soon falls ill. His colleagues in the Commisariat of Public Health rush to contain it but have to ask for help from the NKVD, which certainly has the capacity to find and contain people who were exposed. However, the arrival of the infamous Black Marias causes terror in the unsuspecting with some unfortunate consequences.

Ulitskaya packs a lot in this short novel -- LOTS of characters -- and she gives us a rather ambiguous view of the situation. It turns out that a totalitarian state has an excellent mechanism for controlling the plague. We just have to question the cost of this efficiency. And, of course, once the NKVD, with its "High Personage" (Lavrentiy Beria) is brought into the picture, it may be difficult to rein it in. The first reaction of the High Personage is, "We'll help with the lists, and with the liquidation." The Commissar of Health had to explain that liquidation is not needed in this case. But if you are a hammer...

Really interesting and surprisingly relevant little novel. I'm glad I discovered it.

huhtikuu 16, 11:55 am

>162 BLBera: Looks like a great library find. Very interesting plot!

huhtikuu 16, 1:22 pm

>162 BLBera: Not available from my libraries, unfortunately! It sounds interesting.

huhtikuu 16, 5:04 pm

>163 dchaikin:, >164 ursula: I really enjoyed it.

huhtikuu 17, 10:41 am

42. The Great Enigma
I'm glad I read this collection of poems by the Nobel Prize winner; it only took me about three months of reading.

The poems range over a period of fifty years, from 1954 to 2004, and I can see the evolution in theme and style. Transtörmer's style is very visual, especially in the earlier poems. There is an impersonal feeling that changes as the years progress. He becomes more concerned with the spiritual. The collection ends with a group of haiku:

Birds in human shape.
The apple trees blossom.
The great enigma.

While I enjoyed some of the poems, I didn't love them. I don't feel drawn into Transtörmer's poetry as I do, for example, into Mary Oliver's. Her connection to nature and descriptions seem more personal. I will probably dip into the collection again; I usually find that poetry is rewarding on rereading.

huhtikuu 19, 10:53 am

>166 BLBera: I have that collection of poems on my Kindle, having bought it as a cheap Kindle deal in 2013 (Amazon tells me). I was hoping to read it this year as part of my project to read more Nobelists and to try to understand poetry better. For the past few months I've been reading a volume of poetry by Nobelist Wislawa Szymborska, not having much success, but trying.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 19, 1:31 pm

>162 BLBera: Thanks for writing this review Beth. Not only does the book sound interesting but when I looked her up I discovered she became a writer after being stripped of her scientific credentials, probably in the 1970s. LT says it was for translating a banned book (Leon Uris' Exodus.) Wikipedia says it was for assisting writers of samizdot in the Soviet Union. She has recently left Russia for exile in Germany.

ETA: My library doesn't own the one you read, but has a novella called The funeral party that I may take a look at.

>166 BLBera: Well, you haven't sold me on this one, though I like the haiku and suspect I would enjoy the later poems more than the earlier ones.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 19, 7:07 pm

>162 BLBera:, >168 markon: I read Ulitskaya's Daniel Stein, Interpreter: A Novel in Documents some years ago and was blown away. Very creative as well as historically interesting. I would recommend it.

LT says it was for translating a banned book (Leon Uris' Exodus.) Wikipedia says it was for assisting writers of samizdot in the Soviet Union

That's essentially the same thing. She translated a banned book and thus it becomes samizdot.

Edited again to add that I wrote up my thoughts here.

huhtikuu 19, 9:24 pm

>167 arubabookwoman: Hi Deborah! I haven't read any Szymborska, so I can't offer any insights. The Transtörmer poems are good, but not sure what makes them Nobel worthy.

>168 markon: You are welcome. I also read The Big Green Tent, which I loved. I will definitely read more of her work. I think The Funeral Party is on my shelves; I'll have to search it out.

>169 labfs39: Hi Lisa. I've had Daniel Stein, Interpreter on my list for a while. I have liked both of the works by Ulitskaya that I have read.

huhtikuu 20, 10:46 am

43. Quarrel & Quandary
I enjoyed this collection of essays from 2000. In her introduction, Ozick says, "The central question, perhaps, is this: is politics a distraction from art, or is it how we pay attention to the life that gives rise to art?" In her essays, she discusses current events as they relate to various artists. Her subjects are wide ranging; she connects the Unabomber to Dostoyevsky, discusses Henry James, looks at Holocaust literature, with timely discussions of appropriation and distortion, and ends with an homage to New York City.

While many of the essays have a definite academic approach and tone, she also includes some personal essays; I loved "A Drug Store Eden," which looks at growing up in Pelham Bay and the funny "How I Got Fired From My Summer Job."

I'm glad I finally got to this collection, which has been on my shelf for years, and I will certainly read more by Ozick, both fiction and nonfiction.

huhtikuu 20, 5:01 pm

I read one little wonderful novel/novella by Ozick years ago (The Messiah of Stockholm). I keep meaning to go back. curious how these essays hold up against these last 20 years.

huhtikuu 20, 7:02 pm

And I read a different little novella, The Shawl

huhtikuu 20, 11:34 pm

>173 labfs39: i have a copy of The Shawl around here somewhere

huhtikuu 21, 3:36 pm

>172 dchaikin:, >173 labfs39: I see I have read a novel by her Foreign Bodies, which I don't remember well, and I have another by her on my shelves.

huhtikuu 21, 4:05 pm

44, Stone Blind
Natalie Haynes know her myths. Her podcast is entertaining, and I loved Pandora's Jar, her nonfiction work that looks at the treatment of the various female characters in Greek mythology, one of whom is Medusa. In Pandora's Jar, Haynes points out that Medusa "is made up of dualities." We are accustomed to viewing her at the snake-headed monster. In this novel, we get the story of Medusa as a mortal sister to the immortal Gorgons, Sthenno and Euryale. Olympus is presented as a soap opera, full of petty quarrels and jealousies. None of the gods come off well. Nor do the human "heroes." The story of Perseus, who is on a quest to cut off a Gorgon's head, reveals him to be ineffectual and a bit of a whiner. He needs a lot of help from the gods to be successful. In fact, the parts where Athene and Hermes are helping Perseus are quite funny.

In the end, we have to ask ourselves what makes a monster.

There are lots of voices and characters, but Haynes manages to tie them together in the end. I think I may have liked A Thousand Ships more, but this is another good retelling of a myth.

I look forward to discussing this.

huhtikuu 22, 1:44 am

Pandora’s Jar is included in my Kobo subscription, so I added it to my reader. Sounds like a good introduction before her other books. Thanks for the review!

huhtikuu 22, 10:10 am

I loved Pandora's Jar and I know I will look at it again.

huhtikuu 22, 12:22 pm

>162 BLBera: I don't know the author or the work. Definitely not available in ebook form from my library, but I'll check to see if they have it in print.

>176 BLBera: I have both of those by Haynes and am looking forward to them. One surprise in the past few years is how much I'm enjoying the myth retellings. Circe is probably the gold standard, but I'm interested enough to keep reading them.

huhtikuu 22, 7:06 pm

Hi Lisa - Yes, I've enjoyed the myth retellings as well. Haynes' Pandora's Jar gave me some good background, and she entertained me while she was at it. I really liked A Thousand Ships, maybe even more than Stone Blind.

huhtikuu 23, 11:00 am

I am reading The Faraway World, a collection of stories by Patricia Engle, and LOVE them. I loved her Infinite Country, and these stories are just as good, if not better.

huhtikuu 24, 1:11 pm

45. Trespasses
I will be thinking about Trespasses for a long time. With Cushla's story, Louise Kennedy shows us the sense of oppression that people feel living in a war zone. The novel is suffused with a sense of pending doom, as people try to live their lives the best they can.

Cushla is a twenty-four-year-old school teacher. She teaches seven-year-olds and each morning she is required to have news, so the kids "know what is going on in the world." Cushla hates it, thinking her students know very well what is happening in the world around them: "Booby trap. Incendiary device. Gelignite. Nitroglycerine. Petrol bomb. Rubber bullets. Saracen. Internment. The Special Powers Act. Vanguard. The vocabulary of a seven-year-old child now."

After school, Cushla often helps in her brother's bar. There she meets a married Protestant barrister and begins an affair, even knowing it won't end well.

Wonderful novel, one of the best I've read this year.

huhtikuu 24, 3:02 pm

>182 BLBera: I loved this one so much.

huhtikuu 24, 3:57 pm

Kay, it will stick with me for a long time.

huhtikuu 25, 6:21 am

>182 BLBera: I put a hold on it at the library.

huhtikuu 25, 9:25 am

I'll watch for your comments, Ursula. I haven't heard too many negatives about it even though it's not a comfortable read.

huhtikuu 26, 12:21 pm

I enjoyed your recent reviews, as always.
Here are just a couple of random thoughts on older posts…

>161 BLBera: This one sounds interesting, and so different from the Thursday Next series I liked so much! I’ll watch for a translation into French I think.

>162 BLBera: I happen to have read Just the plague a few month ago. It was actually a script (hence the strange format and style sometimes), and it was written towards the end of the 80’s (far before the Covid pandemic). It was an interesting short read.

huhtikuu 26, 3:44 pm

>187 raton-liseur: - Thanks.

I read the first couple of the Thursday Next series and enjoyed them. The Constant Rabbit was very different, a satire in response to Brexit, I think.

Just the Plague was originally a script. The version I read had been reworked into a novella. It certainly was interesting, considering it was written long before COVID.

huhtikuu 28, 10:41 am

46. The Dog of the North
Elizabeth McKenzie creates characters who are unusual, yet she manages not to turn them into caricatures. She makes us care about them. Her books are often described as quirky, which is a good description, and I know that this novel won't appeal to everyone. I quite enjoyed the journey of her protagonist, Penny Rush.

Penny Rush's life is a mess. She has just left her husband and quit a deadend job. She is on her way to an intervention with her grandmother, who seems to be suffering from dementia, waving a gun at anyone who attempts to enter her house, which is looking increasingly rundown. And her grandfather Arlo's second wife is sending Penny increasingly strident messages saying that Arlo needs to go to a home. As Penny tries to deal with these problems, she meets Burt and his van The Dog of the North.

Despite all of the obstacles facing Penny, the novel isn't depressing; Penny is a person who keeps going, despite all of the pressures and challenges: "Maybe only now was it hitting me how alone I was. But I didn't need to punish myself with existential thoughts at that moment, as I had things to do and appointments to keep." Penny responds to problems as they arise.

While I enjoyed it, I'm not sure how it got its place on the Women's Prize longlist.

huhtikuu 28, 10:52 am

47. The Faraway World
Great collection of stories by Engel. I loved her Infinite Country and was happy to see this new work by her. Most of her stories are about Colombians, in the US and in Colombia. The common thread that runs through the stories is the search for meaning and connection. Engel captures the loneliness of people -- both immigrants and people living in a country with no chances of rising out of poverty.

My favorites are "Aida," about a twin sister who disappears and "The Book of Saints," the story of a Colombian woman and an American man who marry after meeting online.


huhtikuu 28, 11:59 am

>189 BLBera: I found it a quirky little read but like you, I have no clue how this got on the list. This is something I would expect to find on a ‘hot new beach read’ list.

huhtikuu 28, 12:39 pm

>191 Yells: Still, it's nice to hear a different voice. I like quirky.

toukokuu 4, 10:40 am

48. Pod
In The Bees, Laline Paull took us into a hive, and we became bees. In Pod, her new novel, she takes us to the ocean where we inhabit the consciousness of Ea, a spinner dolphin, and meet other creatures of the deep. Anthrops (men)are only present tangentially in the garbage and noise that disrupt the normal rhythms of the sea.

However, there is plenty of violence in the dolphin world. This is not a romanticized story of the wonderful, intelligent dolphins. In fact, the book is hard to read at times. Males assert their dominance by sexual assault, and transgressions by the female bottlenose dolphins result in beatings, sometimes to death. We have prejudice as well; spinner dolphins and bottlenose dolphins live separately and despise each other. The question becomes what (or who) is a greater enemy, the ever increasing presence of noise that interferes with the dolphin sonar or other sea creatures.

Paull creates a world of the sea that is easy to slip into. Perhaps she anthropomorphizes the dolphins, but I don't know of another way she could so fully insert us into their world. In her acknowledgement, Paull says she did extensive research on various sea creatures although she did use some "poetic license" in the interest of telling a story.

I found this powerful and engrossing, but know that not everyone will appreciate this novel.

toukokuu 4, 4:15 pm

SO want to read Trespasses! Haven't seen a bad review of it yet.

toukokuu 4, 7:22 pm

It is great, Alison, although heartbreaking.

toukokuu 5, 3:56 pm

>195 BLBera: I ordered it. Couldn't wait any more!

toukokuu 6, 1:56 am

I'll watch for your comments.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 6, 11:42 am

>193 BLBera: Thanks for this review Beth. I'm intrigued by this one, and heard many years ago about male dolphins ganging up on females - that's an observed behavior. Still not sure whether I'll buy it or not, but it's encouraging to know someone else appreciated it.
edited to correct spelling.

toukokuu 6, 10:31 pm

>198 markon: Paull does mention that she did a lot of research for the novel, so I'm sure the behaviors of the animals aren't invented.

toukokuu 9, 10:22 am

49. Homecoming
In her latest novel, Kate Morton explores the meaning of home and family. As in past novels, she travels between present and past, with mixed results.

The novel travels from Christmas Eve in 1959 to present day. In 1959 South Australia, the Turner family, the mother and four children, are found dead on the banks of a creek where they went for a picnic. Almost sixty years later, Jess Turner finds out about the tragedy for the first time and starts to investigate it; so much was never explained.

Jess, whose grandmother Nora was a sister-in-law to Isabel Turner, the mother, was the best developed character in the novel, and I really liked reading her sections. The 1959 parts were interesting in that we learn more about what happened in each section, but Morton also inserts chapters from a true crime book into the novel, and that didn't work as well for me. So, while the novel was entertaining, it won't be one I will remember. I liked The Clockmaker's Daughter more.

toukokuu 12, 7:18 pm

50. A Ladder to the Sky was my book club book this month, and we had one of the best discussions ever. The description on the back of the book says the novel is a cross of Meg Wolitzer's The Wife and Patricia Highsmith's Ripley stories. That description seems apt. Most of us found it very creepy. Certainly, in Maurice Swift, John Boyne has created a memorable character who will stay with me for a long time. If you want your books to have a likable protagonist, this is probably not for you.

Although Maurice is a sociopath, most of the book club members did like the book. We spent a lot of time discussing questions raised about creativity, where writers get their ideas, and what actions can be forgiven.

Maurice Swift wants to be a famous writer and while his writing is fine, he has no talent for story or plot. He learns to overcome this by taking stories from others. The novel starts as Maurice befriends an older writer, Erich Ackerman. He befriends Erich, then uses him and discards him, cruelly. As I read this section, the sense of dread increased, and never really let up.

Excellent character study and good book club book.

toukokuu 13, 7:02 am

Great review, Beth. I've put it on my library list.

toukokuu 13, 1:02 pm

It is a good one, Barbara. I like Boyne's writing a lot. I have others of his on my shelves that I hope to get to soon.

toukokuu 14, 2:20 pm

>201 BLBera: Oooh - straight onto the wishlist. Sounds great.

toukokuu 15, 4:11 pm

I love Boyne, Alison and am happy I have many of his on my TBR pile.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 16, 10:10 am

51. The Marriage Portrait
Maggie O'Farrell's latest novel consolidates her on my list of favorite writers. In The Marriage Portrait, she does an excellent job of bringing to life, not only Lucrezia di Medici, but also sixteenth century Italy.

When she is fifteen, Lucrezia marries Alfonso, the duke of Ferrara. One year later she is dead. Lucrezia is the third daughter of Cosimo and Eleanora di Medici. Lucrezia is often overlooked, and her mother doesn't know what to do with this girl who can't sit still and who only wants to draw and paint. I was worried that knowing Lucrezia dies young would cast a pall over the novel, but O'Farrell has created a lively, talented character in Lucrezia, and has structured the story in such a way that I found this novel hard to put down.

I love connections that come up in my reading. Right now I am also reading Sarah Bakewell's How to Live: A Life of Montaigne, and Bakewell mentions the fact that Montaigne journeyed to Ferrara, albeit years after Lucrezia's death. Montaigne met the poet Tasso, who is mentioned in the novel.

Highly recommended -- a wonderful example of historical fiction.

toukokuu 16, 10:09 am

52. Trace Elements
In Trace Elements, Donna Leon's latest novel featuring Guido Brunetti and the city of Venice, Leon not only gives us an entertaining mystery, but also gives us something to think about.

It's July in Venice and there is a heat wave accompanied by a glut of tourists. Guido Brunetti and his colleague Claudia Griffoni are called to the deathbed of a woman who claims her husband, who recently died in a motorcycle accident, was murdered. The investigation leads them to a water testing plant, and Brunetti once again is faced with the impossibility of finding justice in a corrupt system. And it's clear that corruption is not limited to Venice or Italy.

The usual characters make their appearance, which is one of the joys of reading books in a series. There's also some good food.

toukokuu 17, 12:03 pm

53. Dark Angel
This is the second book featuring Letty Davenport, and is an entertaining, fast-paced summer read. Sandford knows how to tell a story that keeps the reader turning the pages.

toukokuu 17, 12:10 pm

>206 BLBera: Your edition has such a gorgeous cover!

toukokuu 17, 1:11 pm

It is beautiful, Kay. I got it from the Book Depository.

toukokuu 21, 8:09 am

>206 BLBera: I need to read more works by O'Farrell. I think this whenever I read a review of one of her books, and yet I never seem to get around to it. The only one I've read, The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, I loved.

toukokuu 21, 10:11 am

>211 labfs39: That was the first one by O'Farrell that I read, too, Lisa. I have loved all of her books, especially Hamnet.

toukokuu 21, 7:43 pm

54. Cursed Bread
This novel is a portrait of obsession. Our very unreliable narrator, Elodie, talks to and about the object of her obsession, Violet, a newcomer to their village. I don't really see much point to this. Kudos to me for finishing it.

toukokuu 22, 3:24 am

Not even good enough for a hate review! That's a shame.

toukokuu 22, 3:22 pm

>214 ursula: I didn't want to spend any more time on this, Ursula.

toukokuu 23, 9:52 am

56. The Last Remains
Change is coming in the final book of the Ruth Galloway series. Ruth's university might eliminate her department, and Michelle and Nelson are separated. When a skeleton is found in a wall during a renovation, Ruth removes it. The bones belong to a young woman who has been missing for twenty years and who has surprising connections to Ruth. Well plotted, this kept me guessing until the end.

A satisfying end to the series.

toukokuu 26, 11:29 am

I just added several books to my WL. You are welcome. :)

toukokuu 26, 12:22 pm

>217 BLBera: The lists of summer books are coming at us like mosquitoes on a summer evening!

toukokuu 26, 12:27 pm

Kay! Don't mention the M word. I am enjoying being able to sit outside so far.

toukokuu 26, 12:37 pm

57. Devotions
This collection of poems by Mary Oliver ranges over fifty years, starting with poems from 1963. They are arranged with the most recent first, which is interesting. As I read, I noted changes in style and content although Oliver is always attuned to nature. In her more recent poems, there is a more elegiac tone.

Some favorite snippets:
From "The Book of Time"
I rose this morning as usual, and went to my desk.

But it's spring,

and the thrush is in the woods,
somewhere in the twirled branches, and he is singing.

And so, now, I am standing by the open door.
And now I am stepping down unto the grass.
I am touching a few leaves.
I am noticing the way the yellow butterflies
move together, in a twinkling cloud, over the field.

And I am thinking: maybe just looking and listening

is the real work.

Maybe the world, without us,
is the real poem.

From "The Summer Day"
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

From "In Blackwater Woods"
To live in this world

you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.

Good collection that gives us a sense of Oliver's work over time.

Now I have to find another poetry collection...I have more Oliver on my shelves, but I am ready for a change.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 2, 10:02 am

And I finished another one this morning.

58. How to Live or A Life of Montaigne
In Sarah Bakewell's How to Live or A Life of Montaigne, she not only introduces us to Montaigne and his work, but also discusses his enduring influence on other philosophers and writers (Pascal, Nietzsche, Virginia Woolf, to mention a few). She makes the case that Montaigne is still relevant and that modern essayists especially owe everything to him: "This idea -- writing about oneself to create a mirror in which other people recognize their own humanity -- has not existed forever. It had to be invented...Montaigne created the idea simply by doing it."

Divided into twenty chapters, each attempts to answer the question of how to live. Some answers include: "Guard Your Humanity"; "See the World"; and "Let Life Be Its Own Answer." As I read excerpts from the essays, I find it hard to believe that Montaigne lived in the same century as Shakespeare; like the Bard, he seems ahead of the times.

Bakewell's style is conversational and she keeps the discussion moving. Although she is clearly well versed in Montaigne and the philosophies she discusses, the prose is not academic speak. Montaigne would approve, I think. Now, I will have to pick up the actual essays.

toukokuu 27, 9:53 am

>221 BLBera: That just sent me pawing through my shelves because I was sure I had a copy (that, of course, I've been meaning to read for years). And I do, I think from my very earliest days of book blogging—an Other Press rep handed it to me at some event and I remember being so blown away that someone actually gave me a book. I really do want to read that one.

>220 BLBera: All the roses and honeysuckle in my yard are out this weekend, which means it's a good one for sitting around with a cup of coffee outside and reading Mary Oliver. Thanks for the reminder!

toukokuu 27, 6:17 pm

Hi Lisa - The Bakewell had been on my shelves for years as well, and it was on LT that someone gave me a nudge. I'm glad they did.

Your yard sounds lovely. Yes, Mary Oliver is great for outdoor reading.

Muokkaaja: toukokuu 28, 10:54 am

>221 BLBera:. I read How to Live or a Life of Montaigne at the same time as I read Montaigne's complete essays. I thought that Sarah Bakewell did an excellent job of writing a biography, filling in the missing details of Montaigne's life. She is obviously aware that she is writing for 21 century readers and she picks out the themes of his essays that she thinks will appeal to readers today, this does mean that she leaves out those essays that were important to Montaigne, but might not necessarily appeal to contemporary readers. I do not think her book is a substitute for reading the essays themselves, but if it does lead people to read the essays then it is to be recommended.

toukokuu 28, 11:07 am

>224 baswood: It has definitely inspired me to pick up Montaigne's essays.

toukokuu 28, 11:21 am

59. Black Butterflies
The novel is set in Sarajevo, beginning in the spring of 1992. I found both the setting and the character of Zora compelling.

Zora is a Serb artist who lives in Sarajevo with her husband Franjo. Because of her mother's ill health, Franjo and Zora decide that Franjo will take his mother-in-law to England to visit their daughter, while Zora stays behind to finish the school year. She teaches art at the Academy of Fine Arts. When war breaks out, Zora is stranded; the novel is an account of the first year of the war.

Zora is a fully realized character. Her emotions range from disbelief as the war begins to anger at the death and destruction she sees, to resignation as hunger and cold wear her down. In her author's note, Morris states that Zora was inspired by her great-uncle's story. He was a Sarajevan artist whose studio was destroyed as the war began. I think the family connection gives a sense of intimacy to the novel.

I loved this novel and would like to read more about Sarajevo; it sounds like a fascinating city, rich in history. Morris does include some suggested reading in her author's note, so I have a starting point.

Recommended. Excellent first novel.

toukokuu 31, 4:18 pm

60. The Hero of this Book
Memoir? Novel? McCracken herself says it's a novel, but in the end, it's not important. The hero of the book is the mother of the unnamed writer narrator. The narrator is in London, missing her mother, and as she walks around, she remembers a previous trip with her mother, which leads to additional memories and stories. This is a loving tribute to her mother while recognizing that it is impossible to know everything about her.

The tone is unsentimental, as was her mother, who, the narrator notes, "had achieved a lot in her life, mostly by ignoring the muttering people who suggested that she might be incapable of things because of her body or gender or religion." She paints the pictures of a remarkable woman.

toukokuu 31, 4:25 pm

61. Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret
I listened to this and the audiobook is really well done. I can see why this book, originally published in 1970 has been perennially popular with young readers. Blume, through Margaret, has captured many of the concerns of girls as they approach maturity (breasts, periods, belonging, boys, among other things).

I really liked the way Margaret's relationship with her grandmother was portrayed.

I would bet that people who want this removed from the school libraries never talk to their kids about any of the issues raised here.

Well done, Judy Blume.

kesäkuu 4, 9:47 am

>227 BLBera: That's been sitting on my pile of galleys from last year's big library conference and every day I think "that will be a great in-between book for when I'm not in the mood for nonfiction or a novel." Speaking of that pile, Beth, did you ever read Andrea Barrett's Natural History? If not, I can still send it your way—I'm overdue for a post office run.

>228 BLBera: I should reread that—I loved it as a preteen. And I really really want to see the movie.

kesäkuu 4, 10:28 am

Hi Lisa - I would love the Andrea Barrett book. Thanks. But no hurry. The McCracken is a great in-between book! Well said.

Our book club read the Blume book and we all thought it held up well and none of us had read it. We were all the wrong age for the book when it came out. I've heard mixed things about the movie, but Kathy Bates is the grandma, and that sells it for me. It's hot here, so an afternoon in the theater might be just the thing.

kesäkuu 5, 11:45 am

62. Independence is set around the time of Indian independence in a small Bengali town. The protagonists are three sisters, Deepa, Jamini, and Priya. With the novel, Divakaruni attempts to show the costs of Partition on individuals. While I enjoyed the stories of the sisters, I felt the treatment of the history was relatively superficial.

kesäkuu 5, 1:25 pm

>231 BLBera: I enjoyed a lot the first books Divakaruni published, but I fear she might have exhausted what she had to say... The last I read, One amazing thing was not up to her usual standards, and you seem less than thrilled with this one. Have you read other books from her? If yes, how does this one compare to your previous experiences?

kesäkuu 5, 2:51 pm

I have books by Divakaruni on my shelves, but this is the first one I've read. I thought this was OK, just not an in-depth look at Partition, even as it related to her characters.

kesäkuu 6, 1:58 pm

63. Why Mermaids Sing good historical mystery. The mystery is well-plotted with a twist, we learn more about the protagonist, St. Cyr, and get a sense of the times.

In this third book of the series, Sebastian St. Cyr is asked to help investigate the brutal deaths of young men who seem to have nothing in common. The bodies are butchered and various items are stuffed into the mouths of the victims. Harris does a good job of leading us to the solution, yet keeping the killer's identity hidden from us.

This mystery is perfect for a distracted reader. I'll continue with this series.

kesäkuu 7, 12:38 pm

>233 BLBera: From the books I've read from Divakaruni, I think the ones I prefer are (in no particular order):
The Palace of Illusions (my first review on LT!), The Mistress of Spices (much better than the film adaptation) and the short stories collection The Unknown Errors of Our Lives (also known as The Lives of Strangers.
Following your review, I might give a try to Independence one of those days...

kesäkuu 7, 9:30 pm

>235 raton-liseur: Thanks for the recommendations for Divakaruni. I own The Mistress of Spices so that will probably be the next one of hers that I read.

kesäkuu 7, 9:35 pm

64. Where Serprents Sleep is the next in the Sebastian St. Cyr series. I had it on my shelf, and since the previous one (see >234 BLBera:) worked, I decided to give this one a try. Another solid mystery, although this one had so many bad guys threatening our protagonists that I was confused... I did really like Hero Jarvis, who takes the lead in this one. When a prostitute she has been interviewing is murdered in front of her. Hero enlists the help of St. Cyr to find out why she was killed.

It's 1812, and England is on the brink of war with the States. I will continue with this series.
Tämä viestiketju jatkuu täällä: Beth's Books 2023 (BLBera) - Part 2.