Caroline's 2023 Reading Log

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Caroline's 2023 Reading Log

Muokkaaja: Eilen, 8:48 pm

Happy New Year!

My book reading went much better than I anticipated in 2022. This year my challenge is to read 24 books or more. I will post a list of my books in this message as I go with corresponding reviews further down the thread.

1. The Glass Hotel by Emily St John Mandel (Finished 1/15/2023)
2. Kindred by Octavia E. Butler (Finished 2/3/2023)
3. Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler (Finished 2/20/2023)
4. Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler (Finished 3/12/2023)
5. Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore (Finished 3/24/2023)
6. A Mystery of Mysteries: The Death and Life of Edgar Allan Poe by Mark Dawidziak (Finished 4/12/2023)
7. D: A Tale of Two Worlds by Michel Faber (Finished 4/17/2023)
8. The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard (Finished 5/7/2023)
9. The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder by David Grann (Finished 5/19/2023)
10. Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman (Finished 5/27/2023)
11. The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols (Finished 6/9/2023)

tammikuu 1, 7:44 pm

Hello Caroline! Congratulations on a successful 2022 reading year, and may many books present themselves to you in 2023!

tammikuu 2, 8:52 am

Happy reading in 2023, Caroline, 🙂.

tammikuu 2, 1:53 pm

Thank you!

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 16, 12:29 pm

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel 4 Stars

I read this book because I enjoyed reading two of this author's other books, Station Eleven and Sea of Tranquility. I find her books easy to read and they hold my interest, which is saying a lot with this book. I have no interest in Ponzi schemes. What does interest me is people. This book is about the people who are involved in the life of Jonathan Alkaitis, the wealthy investment manager who defrauds his investors. We see the characters before, during, and after the Feds arrest Alkaitis.

I began to wonder why I was reading this book until the last third. This is where we see the psychological toll on Alkaitis, his friends, loved ones, and the people who work for him. Characters start to hallucinate from the guilt and see ghost of the people them have harmed. Alkaitis mind floats between memories and reality.

I recommend this book to fans of the author and readers interested in characters overwhelmed by greed.

helmikuu 4, 9:19 pm

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler 4 1/2 Stars

I picked this book to read for my Book Chat group at work. The theme for February is black authors. I have wanted to read this book for a long while and finally took the plunge. Octavia Butler was a respected science fiction author and a winner of both the Hugo and Nebula awards. Tragically, she died in 2006 at the age of 58.

This novel is about an African American woman who is pulled into the past numerous time by her ancestor whenever his life is in danger. Dana is pulled from 1976 California to Antebellum Maryland. She must keep Rufus, the son of a plantation owner alive so that he can have a child with Alice, a slave on the plantation. Dana can spend months in the past and when returning to the present only hours have past.

I learned a lot about life on a plantation. The author did meticulous research into slavery. Her goal was to write a book in the style of a slave narrative. Coupling science fiction elements and social issues makes those issue more palatable for readers. She considered her novel to be a less violent version of slavery. If this is less violent then I would never be able to read the truth. Dana endures horrible beatings and brutality just to save a man who is only worthy of being saved because if she doesn't she will never be born.

I recommend this book to readers who enjoy time travel novels and readers who enjoy novel about African American history.

helmikuu 5, 12:13 pm

>6 craso: I read that years ago and enjoyed it!

helmikuu 8, 10:04 am

>7 JulieLill:
Hi Julie, I think it's on the reading lists for high schools and college. I knew it was a classic, but I didn't have a chance to read it until now.

helmikuu 21, 1:59 pm

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler 4 Stars

All of the problems we have today are taken to extremes in this novel. Homelessness, inflation, racism, climate change, drugs, etc. It's gotten so bad that there are walls around neighborhoods to keep out people who would steal, rape, and kill the home owners. Going outside the neighborhood to go to work in the morning means you may never get back home to your family. A teenager named Lauren lives with her family in a walled off neighborhood. She knows there is a better way to live. She believes that her new religion where God is change will help to heal the world and take us out into space. She also suffers from a psychological ailment called hyperempathy. Whenever she sees someone hurt she feels their pain. This makes it very hard for her to defend herself from the crazy, desperate people in her world.

This is a brutal novel. Lauren's journey is tough and full of trials and heartbreak. If you enjoy novels about social issues or dystopias, then you will really enjoy this book.

maaliskuu 13, 12:21 pm

Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler 4 Stars

This novel is a sequel to Parable of the Sower. Lauren Olamina has set up her Earth Seed community with her husband in northern California. Everything is going well until President Jarrett is elected with the catch phrase "Make American Great Again." Yes, this book was written in 1999 -2000. Butler was such a great student of history and sociology that she predicted that a president will be elected that feeds on the fears of radicalized groups and then turns a blind eye on the outrageous acts they commit. I felt bogged down in despair for a good part of the book, but Olamina's story comes to a hopeful and satisfying end.

maaliskuu 24, 3:48 pm

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore 4 Stars

This was a delightful book. I needed something less serious than the last three books and this book worked great. Oona is unstuck in time. She lives her life out of order. Every year at mid-night on New Years Eve her mind moves into a different year and either an older or younger body. In 2015 her body is 51, but her mind is 19. This causes a lot of confusion when it comes to maintaining relationships. Her only constant is her mother, who is the only one who know about her condition outside of her assistant Kenzie.

This book is a quick read because you want to know what the next year is going to be like for Oona. I also like all of the pop culture references for each year. This was a nice beach read with a fun narrative twist.

huhtikuu 12, 5:22 pm

A Mystery of Mysteries: The Death and Life of Edgar Allan Poe by Mark Dawidziak 4 1/2 Stars

This was an entertaining and well researched book about the death and life of Edgar Allan Poe. I read it because of the mystery surrounding Poe's death. He was found alone, outside of a polling place in Baltimore, wearing ill-fitting clothes, and in a stupor. He died in a hospital a few days later. The death certificate read "brain fever" as cause of death. The obituary that ran in papers was written by an enemy of Poe's and forever labeled him as an alcoholic and a drug user.

In this book you find out that Poe was not the gloomy, morbid, druggy everyone thinks he was. He was physically fit, learned, and a southern gentleman. He thought of himself as a poet first, then a literary critic, and then a short story author. He wrote many types of stories and would be very upset to find out that he is known for his horror short stories. Poe is important to American literature and literature in general for his creation of the first detective story and possibly the first Science Fiction novel. He was admired by Conan Doyle, Verne, and Baudelaire. Like many unique and ground breaking artists he was not appreciated in his time. He lived a life of poverty and died in poverty.

If you are interested in Poe the man, I suggest you read this book.

huhtikuu 13, 12:12 pm

>12 craso: Adding to my list - sounds intriguing!

huhtikuu 16, 6:09 pm

>12 craso: Sounds like a good look into this misunderstood author! Have you read (or heard of) Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen? When I read it several years ago, it was the first time that Poe was mentioned as being a smart, heart-throb type of gentleman and not the druggy and alcoholic as portrayed after his death.

huhtikuu 17, 3:29 pm

>14 threadnsong:
I have not heard of Mrs. Poe. Thank you for telling me about it. He did have quite a few ladies interested in him.

Muokkaaja: huhtikuu 17, 3:59 pm

D: A Tale of Two Worlds by Michel Faber 3 1/2 Stars

All of the Ds are disappearing from language. This is bad news for Dhikilo who is afraid all her classmates will start calling her Icky. Then the things that begin with the letter D start going missing: donkeys, dentists, Dalmatians. Dhikilo must bravely go on an adventure with her friend Mrs. Robinson, a sphynx, to find the Ds and bring them back.

Michel Faber wrote this story for the 150th anniversary of Charles Dicken's death. There are many references to Dicken's including a chapter titled Bleak House about a hotel that traps you with enticing signs like "free scones with every tea" and a guillotine scene similar to the one in "A Tale of Two Cities." He also owes a debt to authors C. S. Lewis, James Thurber, and L. Frank Baum for the world building that takes place in the novel. The land of Liminus, where all the Ds are going, is snowy like Narnia and peopled by characters you might find in OZ. James Thurber wrote the book "The Wonderful O" which is mentioned in the acknowledgements. Thurber's book is about the disappearance of the letter O.

This was a cute and often humorous fantasy novel. I didn't give it 4 stars because the story gets bogged down in Liminus. The story stays there way to long. The ending is a bit abrupt as well. I would recommend this book to those who enjoy children's fantasy novels.

toukokuu 7, 8:44 pm

The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard 4 1/2 Stars

I decided to read this novel after I saw the trailer for the Netflix movie. The book went well with the book I read about Edgar Allan Poe's death and life Mystery of Mysteries: The Death and Life of Edgar Allan Poe by Mark Dawidziak. Bayard was spot on about Poe's life and personality.

A West Point Academy cadet is found dead. Later he is found again with his heart cut out. Augustus Landor, a retired New Your City police detective, is asked by the heads of the academy to discreetly investigate the murder. He asks an unusual cadet to help him with the investigation. The cadet is egotistical and considers himself a southern gentlemen and a poet. The cadet is Edgar Allan Poe.

Poe and Landor develop a close relationship. Poe doesn't fit in at West Point. He is too smart and gifted and has a flair for the dramatic. At on point in the book Landor tries to shake Poe off by confronting Poe with the truth of his life, he is an orphan from a poor theatrical family with an adopted father that can't stand him. When I read that I wanted to cry. The character of Poe is such a fragile, lost young man. Bayard says that he wanted to write a novel that imagined the circumstances that made Poe the famous poet and author.

Poe was a cadet at West Point and the characters of the officers and heads of the academy were real people. There are many references to Poe's works. The cutting out of hearts reminded me of The Tell-Tale Heart. The main character Augustus Landor reminded me of Poe's detective Auguste Dupin. He shared many of the same characteristics of observational detection.

I really enjoyed reading this book and look forward to watching the movie. I want to see Harry Melling's take on Poe.

toukokuu 20, 11:41 pm

The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder by David Grann 4 Stars

I picked up this book because I enjoyed reading David Grann's book The Lost City of Z. This is a fairly short book with a lot of notes so you know Grann did his homework. I have read a few books about pirates before, but nothing about shipwrecks and mutinies. I liked how Gran used the journals and observations of different crew members to create a narrative not unlike a novel. Three "characters" standout; David Cheap, who was promoted from lieutenant to captain of the Wager mid-voyage, 16 year old midshipman John Byron, who was the grandfather of author Lord Byron, and gunner John Bulkeley. Their voyage was cursed from the beginning and ended with disease, shipwreck, and tragedy. The British hatred of the Spanish and their obsession with colonialism and empire building doomed this crew and the crew of other ships that set out to sea because of the War of Jenkin's Ear. I could go on and on, but I don't want to ruin the book for anyone. Grann is good at writing books on the theme of obsession. If you enjoy David Grann's writing or stories about seafaring you will enjoy this book.

toukokuu 29, 12:08 pm

Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman 3 1/2 Stars

I needed a short read, so I picked this middle grade book. I saw a trailer on YouTube for the movie and then I found it on Hoopla.

This is a cute book. I think I would have liked it more if I had read it when I was a tween. The story is set in Medieval England. Catherine is 13 or 14 years old. Her brother Edward wants her to practice writing so he encourages her to keep a journal about her daily life. She is very witty and smart. She loves to hang out with the villagers and play practical jokes. The author has created a fairly accurate historical setting. If you enjoy girl power books or historical young adult novels, you will like this book.

Eilen, 9:03 pm

The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols by Nicholas Meyers 3 1/2 Stars

I am excited that Nicholas Meyer has started to write Sherlock Holmes novels again. He understands the characters and Arthur Conan Doyle's style of writing. Meyer has filled this mystery novel with historical figures and circumstances appropriate to 1905. The peculiar protocols mentioned in the novel are The Protocols of the Elders of Zion a real antisemitic document that still pops up from time-to-time. Sherlock and Watson work with Anna Strunsky Walling, a real person who helped start the NAACP. They try to debunk the protocols by traveling on the Orient Express to Russia to get the confession of the author of the protocols.

I liked the premise of this novel as well as the historical setting. If you enjoy reading historical mysteries or Sherlock and Watson books, you will enjoy reading this novel.