Nickelini's ROOTS 2023

Keskustelu2023 ROOT CHALLENGE

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Nickelini's ROOTS 2023

Muokkaaja: tammikuu 16, 8:39 pm

I never know what life will throw at me, so I never know how many books to aim for when I look at this challenge. Too few is just a bore and no challenge at all, and too many is just pointless. Looking at 35 for 2023

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 22, 4:10 pm

Spring is finally here!

New to me plants! My house came with hellibores and they were the first plants to bloom in my garden, even before the croci. Why haven't I grown these before!


This is a picture of my new house that I took back in December when we had snow. It's all melted now, but I like this wintry picture. The windows to the left of the staircase are for the room that will become my library.

tammikuu 3, 8:01 pm

1. Shiver, Allie Reynolds, 2020

cover comments: Is this a thriller set on an isolated mountain top? Who knew?

Comments: Ten years since she's seen them last, and ten years since someone in the group disappeared, Milla meets up with a group of fellow Brits who she used to snowboard with back in the French Alps. Once they are at the top of the mountain, they find they are trapped, their phones disappear, and someone is seriously messing with them. Is it one of the others, or someone else. The story is told in alternating chapters "Now" and "Ten Years Ago".

I found that the villain was unrealistically evil, and that actually Milla acted pretty much the same, even though she's the protagonist. Further, I found Milla's drama over her love triangle and crushes was a yawn. I did like the unique Olympic-level snowboarding background (if a bit over detailed), and I loved the French Alps setting.

Oh, and the explanation to the mystery and conclusion was ridiculous.

Rating: lots of rave reader reviews for this, quite a few hate reviews too. I'd give it 2 stars, but the setting bumps it up to 3. Although it's a bit of a stinker, I don't mind that I read it.

Why I Read This Now: I thought it would be a fun, snowy end to 2022. It snuck into the new year.

Recommended for: people who aren't very selective about their thrillers

How I Discovered This: in 2020, there were 4 books published that were thrillers, set in the Alps, written by women, and I think all Brits too. Shiver got quite a bit of press at the time. I've now read all four and here is my ranked list:

1. The Chalet, Catherine Cooper - this one got no press or promotion at all, but it was the best of the lot. It's weird how some books get so much attention and others none

2. One By One, Ruth Ware - not Ware's best, but I liked it well enough

3. Shiver, Reynolds

4. The Sanatorium, Sarah Pearse - I'm not all that picky about the thrillers I read, but this one was really bad

tammikuu 4, 6:46 am

I hate it when too much love-triangle drama sneaks into my thrillers, but agree that the setting sounds great fun.

Glad to see you back!

tammikuu 4, 1:16 pm

Good to see you back. Your reviews are always fun, and am I allowed to say I particularly appreciate your comments on the covers?

tammikuu 5, 5:40 am

Welcome back, Joyce. And like Jackie I really enjoy your reviews and your comments on the covers!

tammikuu 5, 8:02 am

Happy New Year, Joyce and welcome to a new year of ROOTing

tammikuu 5, 5:21 pm

I always enjoy learning how you discovered a book and why you read it when you did. Happy 2023 ROOTing!

tammikuu 5, 6:23 pm

Welcome back to the ROOT group! Have a great reading year!

tammikuu 16, 8:45 pm

>4 Caramellunacy:, >5 Jackie_K:, >6 MissWatson:, >7 connie53:, >8 detailmuse:, >9 rabbitprincess:

Visitors! How nice. Welcome to my thread, book friends

>5 Jackie_K: of course you can comment on my cover comments. I like art as much as reading, so book covers are important to me. I usually find it fun to say something about them

>8 detailmuse: Another thing I added for me because sometimes, years later (or even right away), I think "why DID I read that anyway?" :-D

tammikuu 17, 1:30 pm

Snowblind, Ragnar Jonasson, 2010; translated from Icelandic by Quentin Bates, 2017

cover comments: When I stop and look at it, I find it rather pleasing. But it's not eye catching.

Comments: Ari Thor Arason has just finished police training and is offered a job in Iceland's most northern town. It's late 2008, and the economic downturn has walloped Iceland. Jobs are scarce, so he jumps on the opportunity without considering his live-in girlfriend and their life in Reykjavik. When he arrives, Ari learns that everyone knows everyone else in town, and nothing much ever happens there. Except this is a crime novel, so of course things happen. And it snows a lot, and then the town is cut off from the rest of the world by an avalanche.

I enjoyed the almost cozy atmosphere and decidedly winter feel of this isolated murder mystery.

Snowblind is the first book in the "Dark Iceland" series. I'm not one to read a series, but I am intrigued enough to try the next one, Blackout. I want to see if Ari grows up a little, and also the setting is interesting because it's set against the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, which I remember well because it stopped flights between Vancouver and Europe for a while and I couldn't order books from the Book Depository for weeks. Quite the disaster, really.

Recommended for: fans of isolated murder mysteries. This is not a fast paced suspense thriller, but more of an intriguing slow build where you get to know the characters. Jonasson translated Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic, so perhaps it's modeled in the style of Christie? I wouldn't be able to say since I haven't read a Christie novel for a hundred years. Note that I've read very little Scandi-crime or Nordic-noir, so I have no idea how this compares to the rest.

Why I Read This Now: I was in the mood for its dark January setting

How I Discovered This: I think I heard some BookTuber talk about this author and then I saw this sale edition at a favourite bookstore, I snapped it up

Rating: 4.5 stars

tammikuu 18, 5:07 am

Ooh, that sounds interesting - I always love a mystery in a new setting!

tammikuu 19, 5:55 am

>12 Caramellunacy: It does and this book is translated into Dutch and I own a copy and it fits in my RL Forumchallenge so on the STBR pile it goes.

BB by Nickelini!

tammikuu 26, 1:53 am

Superfan: How Pop Culture Broke My Heart, Jen Sookfong Lee, 2023

Look at me! Only the 25th of January, and I've already read a book published this year. Unheard of for me

cover comments: usually I'm not crazy about this Andy Warhol-ish look, but I actually love it here. The hand drawn alterations fit the content of this memoir, and the mix of bright colours fits the current publishing trend that tells you this is a book about a not-white woman

Rating: 4.5 stars. After you read my comments, you may think that rating is just biased, but I checked GoodReads and there are 49 reviews with an average rating of 4.25. So it's not just me and my personal favoritism. Also, today Superfan: How Pop Culture Broke My Heart was on the Canadian Non-fiction Top 10 Best Sellers List.

Note: I've previously enjoyed two of Lee's novels, Conjoined and The Better Mother. She has been a CBC Radio presenter, and did a bang up job defending Fruit, by Brian Francis, on CanadaReads.

Comments: Through a series of essays with a loose theme of pop culture, Sookfong Lee talks about growing up in Vancouver, Canada as the daughter of Chinese immigrants. When she was 12 and her father died after a lengthy battle with cancer, she found comfort in watching Bob Ross with his soothing ASMR voice; when her mother disappeared into deep depression, she identified with the orphan Anne of Green Gables. Princess Diana helped her navigate the expectations of having to be the "good girl" that is expected of Chinese girls in Canada, and Awkwafina showed her that she could be herself and break out from stereotypes. The most interesting chapter for me was "The Boys on Film" and her early crushes on white boys in movies, such as John Cusack in Say Anything, and then growing up to date too many white guys who treated her as their fetish. I don't think of myself as someone who cares about pop culture (now as an adult), but she uses it in an interesting way to explain how she figured out how to fit into her surroundings and the overriding whiteness everywhere around her.

The recurring struggles she deals with are absent parents (father through illness and death; mother through mental illness), racism (lots of racism), fitting in and not fitting in, divorce, single motherhood, and life as a struggling writer. This memoir is raw, sometimes angry, and intimate. I think most readers would agree with that.

For me this was particularly intimate because I kinda know the author. In that I've met her a handful of times, talked books with her, and been in her house (so it was interesting to read the bits where she talked about that house, because I could picture it exactly. No imagination needed). Lee is the ex-wife of a friend of mine, a good friend of my husband's. So it was pretty interesting to get into the mind of who to me is a passing acquaintance, but also someone a friend talks about.

Conversation my husband had yesterday:

Husband: "Joyce bought Jen's book"
Jen's ex-husband: "____ (new wife) bought Jen's book"
Other friend speaks up: "yeah, I bought it too"
LOL. Turns out everyone is buying it

Why I Read This Now: I knew this was just published and happened to be at the little bookstore at the mall, and they had 2 copies. I was going to read it after I finished my current book, but then it was Lunar New Years, and I always like to read an Asian book on that day, so I picked this up

How I Discovered This: I follow the author on Twitter

Recommended for: readers interested in experiences of children born to immigrants, and Asian immigration, told in a unique, relatable, and thoughtful way.

tammikuu 26, 4:34 pm

>14 Nickelini: I like the sound of this one - I'll add it to my wishlist.

tammikuu 30, 11:33 pm

Death Goes On Skis, Nancy Spain, 1949

cover comments: Absolutely love this. I use vintage travel posters in my vacation photo books, so this is very much my aesthetic. Also, this scene happened in the novel, so bonus points.

Comments: In 2020 Virago republished this 1949 novel.

It's February 1947 and a large group of loosely connected English people travel to a ski resort in the central European country of Schizo-Frenia, where most of the inhabitants speak German and the currency is the franc - just like their neighbour Switzerland. English people who could travel to the Alps in 1947 were naturally wealthy and, in this case, very spoiled and nasty. There is the perfume company owner who was a huge drip, but who most of the females in the book are crushing hard on; there are his two unpleasant daughters who are both teenagers and little children simultaneously, there is a Russian ballerina (who I think was supposed to be the protagonist?), and a famous film star, and several female characters--all admirable in some way--throwing off strong lesbian vibes. A few miserable, weak men, and so on. There were a handful of local cardboard characters.

This is a novel that I'm sure some have described as a "lark" and where rich Brits behave in selfish and silly ways, and there are a couple of murders, but no one is too fussed about that. Especially the newly widowed husbands. It's all veddy English in that "tally ho, pip pip and all that rot" sort of way. It was rather light and amusing at times, but for the last 1/5th I was entirely frustrated with these shallow, horrid people. But the last 3 pages were quite surprising and did redeem the novel, somewhat.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Why I Read This Now: I love a book set in the Alps

How I Discovered This: Simon Savidge of Savidge Reads. I'd never heard of Nancy Spain. She sounds like a fascinating character on her own.

Recommended for: readers who like silly novels that might be described as a murder mystery with distasteful characters

helmikuu 2, 10:20 am

>16 Nickelini: I'd have to give an extra half star just for setting the book in a country called Schizo-Frenia! It sounds hilariously silly on the surface although I take your point that hilarious silliness can get tiresome after a while.

helmikuu 11, 6:53 pm

Maestro, Peter Godsworthy, 1989

cover comments: my 1991 Bloomsbury edition cover is not available here on LT so I just picked this random cover. No comments to make other than the actual cover I have is pretty weird and ugly

Comments: It's 1967 and teenage Paul has just moved to Darwin, Australia from the sophisticated south. He and his parents all have hopes that he has a future as a piano virtuoso. Luckily for them, the retired Herr Keller, and Austrian immigrant, is available to coach Paul on his piano endeavors. Perhaps "coach" is not a valid term to use, but his techniques are too unconventional to call him a "piano teacher". Paul also entertains the idea that perhaps Herr Keller is a former Nazi war criminal. Basically the novella Maestro is a bildungsroman about the self-absorbed Paul, and his slow discovery of who Herr Keller actually is and what he went through. There are also overlaps that match with author's real life--Adelaide homeland, time lived in Darwin, medical careers, and music devotion--but perhaps that's not a surprise for a first book.

Apparently Maestro was voted one of the all time top 40 Australian novels, and was commonly used in the high school curriculum, to fairly positive reactions from students. Not sure if it's still being read at Aussie schools, but I can tell you that this won't be read at schools in the USA, as there are scenes with adults having sex! And Paul having sex! And we certainly don't want to give teenagers any ideas whatsoever ;-)

Why I Read This Now: I was struggling to pick up the other novel I've been reading, and this was on my short-books-for-a-short month pile, and then we booked our flights to Australia, so the Australian book won out as The Book To Read Now

Rating: a strong 4 stars. There is some really stunning writing. I don't know why Peter Goldworthy isn't known outside of Australia, and I don't know why he hasn't written more books. He's also a physician, so maybe writing isn't his first love

Recommended for: readers who enjoy beautiful writing set against a musical background; readers looking for a book set in Darwin that doesn't have a crocodile.

How I Discovered This: An Australian LT friend sent me a Peter Goldsworthy novella, Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam and I was blown away by it. Goldsworthy went right on my must-read-everything list, so when I found this (and Three Dog Night) at a used bookstore, I bought it right away.

helmikuu 12, 5:40 am

>18 Nickelini:
readers looking for a book set in Darwin that doesn't have a crocodile

This made me laugh. Darwin is NOT a place for Captain Hook, I take it.

helmikuu 13, 12:25 am

>19 Caramellunacy: Apparently not! ;)

helmikuu 13, 9:47 pm

Three Hours, Rosamund Lupton, 2020

cover comments: looks like a snowy thriller. Oh, it IS a snowy thriller. Sold.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Comments: In western Somerset, school is starting for the day, snow is starting to fall, and there's an explosion in the school's forest. One of the older students, a Syrian refugee suffering from PTSD, recognizes the sounds immediately and convinces enough adults to take it seriously. Then the headmaster is shot. And thus begins the 3 hour siege on the progressive school that in Canada we'd call K-12 (all school ages). The snow falls heavily, and various groups of students, teachers and parents feel the terror.

At times I didn't want to read this because school shootings are highly upsetting, but I also couldn't stay away from it for long. For me this was a well-planned, compelling read, and more complex and thoughtful than the average best seller thrillers. It also had more soul. . . I was a bit puzzled by the recommendation plastered on the front cover: "Broke My Heart" - Marian Keyes. This was a thriller--it's not supposed to be heart breaking. By the last 50 pages I felt that comment strongly.

It wasn't perfect, and perhaps 4.5 stars is a bit high, but I gave it .5 star for how it absorbed me. I'd have loved a map of the school property because there were multiple buildings and lots of snowy forest, and even a beach. (I had to look up Somerset on a map, because I don't remember being close to beaches when I was there. Yes, silly me, Somerset is also on the water; there is more than Bath). You can never go wrong with a map in a book.

And a character list. It's a school with all the ages, lots of teachers, parents arriving, and also police officers. Many characters, although the main characters were distinct. I did struggle a bit with the teenage dynamics but it came together.

Also, when it becomes clear who the main shooter is, everyone seems shocked that he's a "psychopath". Duh. There are a lot of psychopaths out there, and they don't all become school shooters, but if you ARE a school shooter, not a stretch that you're a psychopath. And when a shooter is revealed about halfway into the book, it's been vividly obvious forever by that point that the only reader who would be surprised is an overextended parent who's listened to this on audio book while doing 5 loads of laundry, worked the shift at the grocery store, got the kids to soccer practice and flute lessons, and repaired the leak under the kitchen sink.

But oveall, I thought it was a terrific thriller

Why I Read This Now: I like snowy books in winter, spring is coming on here so I best get at them, and mainly -- they last books I've been reading have been soooooo male. I thought a female author might write something where women were more than shadows that appear every 20 pages or so (nothing against men, but books and movies that are just about men tend to bore me beyond belief)

How I Discovered This: I follow all the major publishers on Instagram and this Penguin release was all over social media when it was published in 2020. I kept waiting for it to show up in shops and on my Canadian websites, but it never did. I waited for 2 years and then I ordered it from Book Depository from the UK. Even now, if I order it from Amazon Canada, it comes from the UK Book Depository.

I guess I just don't get the publishing industry.

Recommended for: people who want to write a thriller. Read this, take notes, and see how it's done. Rosamund Lupton sets some of the bars high. I also recommend this to readers who like an isolated mystery

helmikuu 15, 9:38 am

>21 Nickelini: That sounds good! Must put it on my list

helmikuu 19, 7:33 am

>21 Nickelini: I loved that book too, Joyce.

I too don't get the publishing industry. Often enough they start translating a series but stop that halfway. Not nice. Some of my friends are reading English versions now and don't wait for a translation that may never come.

helmikuu 20, 10:31 pm

Bridget Jones's Diary, 1996

cover comments: Original cover. Huh. Not "chick lit" is it now.

Comments: Bridget Jones, late 1990s, London, singleton. This is her story, very loosely based on Pride and Prejudice, inspired by the author's love of Colin Firth playing Mr Darcy in the 1990s P&P. The first time I read this I was about the slightly younger than Bridg, but a smug married, and a lot of her diary entries reminded me of my 14 year old self. And I knew nothing of Pride and Prejudice, book or mini-series. I thought BJD was a hilarious book at the time. I also enjoyed my first reread about 5 years ago.

Book vs. movie: actually, pretty different. The clever and funny lines are often the same, but used in slightly different situations. This was one of the reasons I wanted to reread this, as it turned out I now remember little of the book.

Why I Read This Now: I was avoiding another book, needed something with female characters, I wanted to reread this because I've seen the movie version so many times, and, finally, it was Valentine's Day. BTW this is not a love story, and not even really much of a romance

Rating: I sometimes struggle to rate rereads. This was originally a 5 star read, and although I wouldn't give it that if I read it for the first time now, but I'm not going to begrudge it those shiny stars

Recommended for: cultural historians studying 1990s singleton London

helmikuu 20, 10:33 pm

>23 connie53: Oh, that's very annoying! Yes, I read a German thriller a few months ago that was I think book 6 in the series, but only the second one translated into English. I think 3 or 4 random books out of 13 were translated

helmikuu 24, 10:51 am

>24 Nickelini: Loved both book and movie when I first came across them - not sure I would still feel the same this many years later, but definitely still have a soft spot for Bridge.

Muokkaaja: helmikuu 27, 11:13 am

Night Train, A.L. Snijders, 2021; translated from Dutch by Lydia Davis, 2021

cover comments: love the European minimalism

Comments: A.L. Snijders is a Dutch writer who specializes in very short stories. Some are a paragraph, at most, a page and a half. He writes in a clean, direct style and captures life in late 20th century-early 21st century life in the Netherlands. A few of the stories are masterful.

Rating: 3 stars -- a few perfect 5 star stories and a lot of meh

Recommended for: people who like plain, sparse writing

Why I Read This Now: have actually been reading this for several months as it was my work book. The short short story format lends itself nicely to coffee breaks

How I Discovered This: late night internet rabbit hole

maaliskuu 1, 12:58 am

Lonely Hearts Hotel, Heather O'Neill, 2017

cover comments: Perfect for this book. Also, who doesn't love a blue cover?

Rating: 4.5 stars

Why I Read This Now: O'Neill is one of my top favourite authors, and I've loved every book of hers that I've read. Yet I kept putting off this 2017 novel because it was set mostly in the 1930s (all her other books have been more contemporary), and it involved circus elements, and (cringe), clowns! It just didn't sound like my jam. I really dislike clowns.

I like Heather O'Neill's clowns.

Anyway, back to why I read this now. I was looking for something in my past reading journals, and came across my notes from Heather O'Neill's The Girl Who Was Saturday Night from this time in 2019. I'd copied eight and a half pages of quotations from that novel and really enjoyed reading them again. And I remembered what an unusually cold February we had that year, and how that novel set in Montreal was perfect for my mood, and since now four years later we are having unusually cold weather (maybe not so unusual anymore?), I thought I'd try Lonely Hearts Hotel.

Comments: Rose and Pierrot are born in 1914 to young teen mothers, and end up in an orphanage in Montreal. They stand out from all the other waifs in this oppressive environment and form an inseparable bond. Both are witty and charismatic. Rose dances and improvises make believe scenarios. Pierrot is nimble in general, erudite in speech (although he often doesn't understand what he's just said), and gifted at the piano. They end up performing for wealthy people in Montreal, with the payment going to the wicked nuns at the orphanage, until they hit their mid-teens. Then they are sent off as servants, or companions, in wealthy homes, until they fall into the squalor of drug addiction and prostitution. Eventually Rose and Pierrot reconnect as adults in the Great Depression and are able to actually make their childhood fantasy of the "The Snowflake Icicle Extravaganza" a reality. With underworld ties, however. And that's the first half of the novel.

It's whimsical, tragic, sad, magical, funny, depressing, and I loved every minute.

Look, I can't do this novel justice. The whole circus and clown thing had me avoiding reading this for years. But it turned out that I found the clown parts completely amusing (maybe it's a Montreal Cirque du Soleil thing vs. a USA Barnum Bailey thing. Probably), and I thought, as I was reading the humorous clown interview chapters, "Montreal is lousy with clowns!", but then I saw that I'd written that down from the Girl Who Was Saturday Night. I should have trusted that O'Niell would transcend the circus theme. But I was wary. For years one of my book club friends tried to get us to read Water For Elephants and I was pretty sure I'd hate it. I gave it a chance and hated it. Maybe when it comes to circuses, just go with the francophone version.

BTW, Lonely Hearts Hotel is a weak name for the novel, and I think "The Snowflake Icicle Extravaganza" captures more of the book, but perhaps wouldn't appeal to adult readers. Hmmm. "Pierrot and Rose" would have been better, but I'm not a book marketing guru.

Recommended for: If you've read this far, maybe you. I get that O'Neill is not for everyone but I just love looking at raunchy, seedy life through her rose coloured lenses

People who don't like this complain that it was compared to a more famous book (that it's not like), that it's too crude, that the author uses too many similes, that there are too many horrible events, that the author tries too hard to be clever. Probably they're right. But I love it.

How I Discovered This: long time Heather O'Neill fan, so when this came out I knew I'd read it eventually even if it had a circus theme to it

maaliskuu 2, 5:13 pm

>27 Nickelini: BB! I like flash fiction. I read a few from this on amazon and like that they made me think for a bit afterward, sort of like poetry.

maaliskuu 13, 3:14 pm

Hotline, Dimitri Nasrallah, 2022

cover comments: sure, it's fine

Comments: Set over about one year, this novel is loosely based on the author's mother's experiences of moving from war-torn Lebanon to Montreal in 1986. Her husband had applied to move his family to Canada, but then went missing and was presumed dead. With little family support in Beirut, Muna goes ahead and takes her son Omar to Montreal. She was trained as a French teacher, but nobody wants to hire a Lebanese French teacher in Quebec.To make ends meet, she takes a job as a hotline operator for a diet company.

I was expecting her story to be about the crazy things people said to her on the phone and how hard it is to work with the public. It wasn't that. This is definitely a story of her struggle as a single mother in a new place where everything is strange, and life was indeed challenging. But what stands out for me from this novel is the small kindnesses she encountered through the minor characters.

Rating: 4 stars

Why I Read This Now: this is one of the contenders for CBC Canada Reads later this month. It was the one that sounded most interesting to me, and then a coworker had a copy to lend me

How I discovered this: CBC Canada Reads

Recommended for: readers who like earnest novels (a common trait for Canada Reads and CanLit in general)

maaliskuu 21, 11:30 pm

. The Sea, John Banville, 2005

cover comments: nice

Comments: This fairly short novel meanders through Max Morden's memories of his wife's death from cancer, an unusual summer from his youth, and the current day. On the back of my edition, The Sea is described as "luminous," and that is the perfect word to describe the beautiful writing. I expected to abandon this within the first 30 pages, but to my delight it grabbed me and pulled me in. Then it had a flabby middle section, before coming around to an intriguing end.

The Sea won the Booker Prize in 2005 and is on the 1001 Books list.

Why I Read This Now: Every year I like to read an Irish book in March. Unfortunately, all the Irish books in my TBR have been there for ages, my reading tastes have changed, and I'm not all that interested in them. I thought I'd slough some off my TBR pile by abandoning them earlier, but I liked this.

Rating: 4 stars. Although I did enjoy much of this, it is a 193 page book that took me 12 days to read. I'd like to read it again one day.

How I Discovered This: It was a best seller back in its day

Recommended For: Readers who like gorgeous, lush language, who don't need a plot, and who don't mind characters who aren't very likeable.

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 27, 10:50 pm

Station Eleven, Emily St John Mandel, 2014

cover comments: I like the deer, but the rest of it does nothing for me. I don't hate it, but it's not good either

Comments: Post-apocalyptic novel set before, during and 20 years after a pandemic quickly kills 99% of the people on the planet. Has been made into a TV series on AppleTV.

Why I Read This Now: It's a contender for this year's CBC Canada Reads. I've actually tried to read it twice in the past and never got very far. My husband bought this on a whim (something he does once a decade) and said it was "okay," and then my book club picked it and I was fine with the choice because I already owned the book. But I didn't get very far, as I put it down and just never got back to it. Another time I tried it on audiobook because it was available, but again, I listened once and then didn't bother again. Over the years, I've put this in the donate box a few times but it always came out because someone would say something super positive about it, or intriguing. This was the book's last chance.

Rating: 3 stars. I actually rather enjoyed Mandel's writing, but I strongly dislike post-Apocalyptic stories. I look forward to reading other books by her as long as they aren't on this subject.

Recommended for: people who enjoy post-apocalyptic novels? As a rule, I don't read books about the Holocaust or slavery, and now I've added this subject/genre to the list. My husband says that "everything" is post-apocalyptic, but that's just his algorithm, because it's not my experience.

How I Discovered This: best seller

maaliskuu 28, 4:05 pm

>32 Nickelini: I pushed through this for much the same reasons (plus I don't mind all post-apocalyptic novels), but felt it sort of petered out after an interesting beginning. I guess maybe I was hoping for more hope from a traveling symphony & shakespeare company and got...not that

Muokkaaja: maaliskuu 28, 9:51 pm

. The Union of Synchronized Swimmers, Cristina Sandu, 2019; translated from Finnish by the author, 2021

cover comments: it fits the book quiet well, actually

Comments: This novella switches between the story of six young women who work at a cigarette factory behind the Iron Curtain and take up swimming in the local river and, on their own, becoming synchronized swimmers who eventually are allowed to leave to compete in the West. In between that story are the individual stories of Anita, Paulina, Sandra, Betty, Nina, and Lidia, years after they've defected and try to make life for themselves in various places. I liked how it was unique, clever, and interesting, but I didn't like (as with much "literary" translated fiction) it's overly cryptic. And also, even though it was written in Finnish, this shows nothing about life in Finland. What I most enjoy about reading translated fiction is when it transports me to that country and I can see life there. Often translated literature has no interest in showing any of that. Oh well, I keep looking.

Rating: 3.5 stars

How I Discovered This: I think an internet rabbit hole in 2021?

Recommended for: Readers who want to Finnish literature but not picky about it being set in Finland. Also, some of the negative comments came from people who were looking for a story about synchro swimming and there wasn't enough water wheels and back tucks.

Why I Read This Now: Time for something in translation, and this one was short so I didn't need to gird my loins for a long read.

(12 points to anyone who gets my gird my loins reference. After 29 years of marriage, my husband and I only speak in advertising jingles and TV and movie lines. LOL. Often it spills into real life and people look at me, baffled)

huhtikuu 16, 3:25 pm

English Animals, Laura Kaye, 2017

cover comments: Excellent cover. Who doesn't love a fox on a book cover? Great photo, and the colour filter tells the reader that something is off. As do the misaligned letters that make up the title.

Rating: 4.5 stars. English Animals is one of those books that few readers have heard of, but has high ratings from those who have been lucky enough to discover it. Also, I always love a book set at a country house.

Comments As a young woman, Slovakian Mirka tries for a new life in Britain. After struggling in London, she lands a job as an assistant to Sophie and Richard. They have a messy life and a messy relationship, and have inherited a country house in some unnamed location in England. Scrambling to try whatever it takes to support it, they juggle weddings, B&B, bird hunting, taxidermy. Of her many jobs, her focus is taxidermy, and Mirka goes from squeamish to proficient quickly, surpassing Richard's skill. In her free time, and to escape the chaos, she creates elaborate dioramas with small rodents acting out human scenes, such as a coffee shop (think Brambley Hedge or Richard Scary updated to 2017 England). These become a hit with a particular London art crowd and she can't keep up with demand. This part of the book fascinated me, but was rather minor.

I digress. English Animals is Mirka's story of trying to negotiate the situation she found herself in, and employee, but a pseudo family member, 15 years younger than the other two, and trying to juggle work & friendship with Richard while having a sexual relationship with Sophie.

Excellent first novel. I look forward to reading what Laura Kaye comes up with in the future

Recommended for: To start, I've seen comparisons to Cold Comfort Farm in several places. I haven't read that, so can't comment. Initially it reminded me of Bitter Orange by Clare Fuller, but then it went off on its own story. So if you like either of those books, find this. Also, people who like books set in English country houses, but not necessarily fancy, Chatsworth-type country houses, and more realistic "oh jeez, I inherited this monstrosity and I love it but how do I financially make this continue" reality of country houses,

How I Discovered This: Jen Campbell raved about this and I went to the Book Depository (RIP) and ordered it right away

Why I Read This Now: I was actually 1/3 into this a year ago, but then we bought our new house and I got distracted and it ended up in a box, so I've just now managed to get back to it. I hadn't forgotten it, but did restart from the beginning and happy I did. Also, I'm going to be in England in 10 days, so I like to read books set in places I'm visiting. Although, to be honest, probably 1/3 of the books in my TBR are British, so I could just blindly pick something off my shelves.

toukokuu 15, 8:35 pm

The Collector, John Fowles, 1963

cover comments: a bit disjointed, actually

I read this back in April, and in the time since have holidayed on Vancouver Island and then England and Italy, so this is what I remember:

Comments: Twenty-something incel and orphan who collects butterflies as a hobby watches a young London art student, and thinks he'd like to possess her. After winning a lottery and sending his aunt and cousin off to Australia, he sets up a prison for her at a cottage in Sussex, and kidnaps her. He's creepy and infuriating, but compared to real life stories of captive young women that we've all heard since this was written in 1963, he doesn't actually do much to her. Other than lock her in a dank basement.

The first 120 pages are his version of the story. Then it switches to Miranda, the kidnapped woman's version of the story. She turns out to be rather insufferable. Just not interested in a privileged 20 year old's philosophy of life. This section dragged.

Parts 3 & 4 were short and the story picked up again, and the ending was wonderfully creepy

Why I Read This Now: I've owned this for over a decade and always wanted to read it. Somehow it bubbled up to the top of the pile

How I Discovered This: I've owned it too long to know, but probably from the 1001 Books list. Years ago I read the author's French Lieutenant's Woman, which I loved (and also the film)

Recommended For: I think this would appeal to a broad audience

Rating: 4 stars

toukokuu 17, 6:36 pm

Dreaming of Florence, TA Williams, 2018

cover comments: This is the style of cover I walked right past for decades but that I recently discovered can actually be a fun read. My husband and I were examining this picture last night to see if it could even be real and determined it could if there are roof decks on the houses that line the Arno River in Florence.

Comments: Late 20-something Debbie is struggling a bit with her life in Cambridge. She has a decent job teaching English, but her employer may have to lay off staff, she recently broke up with her fiancé, and she is weighted down with debt. An unexpected encounter results in her taking a chance and moving to Florence to teach English, and from there her life improves steadily, culminating in the expected romantic ending.

As with other books I've read by this author, there is actually very little romance and mostly just a story about a young woman living a new life in Italy.

Why I Read This Now: promised to be a light, fun book to read on my trip to Tuscany. A couple of years ago I decided to make an effort to read more fluff and fewer serious books. I think I'm currently at 6% fluff, so that's a start

How I Discovered This: I've read other similar books by the same author.

The author: surprised me. First, T.A. Williams is Trevor Williams, who lives in Devon with his Italian wife. He has a degree in modern languages and has lived in Switzerland, France, and Italy. Back in the UK, he runs a prestigious language school. His hobby is long-distance cycling. Not your usual "romance" book writer. I found that he's written a bunch of these sorts of books, several of which I've now ordered.

Rating: hardly a literary masterpiece, I still give this 4 stars because it's fun and I like to read fun books sometimes. I'd say this book is the literary equivalent of a strawberry milkshake.

Recommended for : you guessed it: readers looking for a fun book set in Italy

toukokuu 23, 11:16 pm

Family Album, Penelope Lively, 2009

cover comments: I like this. It's clean. And it speaks to the novel. I wouldn't say it captures the feel of the novel though, so not full marks

Comments: Family Album is a perfect name for this novel, as it's a collection of snap shot memories of the different people in this family, and although in the end it does tell the family's story, like a photo album, it's disjointed and only tells bits here and there.

Alison is the engine of this disparate group. She was driven to fulfill her life goal being a mother of a bustling house full of children. The husband wasn't all that important, and Charles disappeared into his office to read and write esoteric books (he took lessons in indifference from Elizabeth Bennet's father and perfected the art). Paul, Gina, Sandra, Roger, Katie, and unusually-blonde Claire are all very different from each other and become adults who--mostly--live far away from the family home, Allersmead. Each chapter jumps around and focuses on the various family members, and the long-term live-in hired help, Ingrid.

Rating: I'm not sure. Having just finished it, I'm feeling 4 stars, but it's taken me a long time to read this 225 page book. Sometimes I thought it was just okay. 3.75 stars I guess.

Why I Read This Now: I was off for 1.5 weeks in England and 1.5 weeks in Tuscany. This was the book for the English part of my trip, and I have zillions of books set in England in my TBR but this one was the physically lightest of the bunch in front of me. I did start it on the plane and during my trip, but it was too discordant to click as a suitable travel read. I considered leaving it behind, but there was enough there to make me think I'd like it. I'm glad I gave it another chance when I got home.

Recommended for: people with patience to let the novel reveal itself

How I Discovered This: I've read 3 books by this author previously

toukokuu 30, 6:56 pm

Nives, Sacha Naspini, 2020; translated from Italian by Cora Botsford, 2021. This has also been published with the title Tell Me About It

cover comments: Well, I don't hate it. But I also don't think it fits. The story is about an older woman, and then when she looks back on being the age of the girl in picture, that was 1982. Although I may have worn that outfit in 1982, the black and white picture looks more like 1952. So this is a NO. But Europa Editions don't usually have good covers, so there you go.

Comments: Nives' husband drops dead on the first page of the novella. Alone and lonely on their farm in Tuscany, with her daughter and grandchildren living in France, Nives soon brings her hen Giacomina into the house. Suddenly her world feels all right again. But then Giacomina has a medical emergency and late one night, Nives phones the veterinarian, who is also an old friend. This brings us to page 25. For the next 103 pages of the novella, Nives and Loriano have an extended conversation about their shared past. I found the change at this point to abruptly interrupt the tone and subject of the book, and I wasn't much interested in the new topics. By the end there were enough twists that I regained some of my initial interest.

Rating 3 stars. I think it's well-written, but I really didn't care all that much about their conversation

How I Discovered This: I shop the Europa Editions catalogue

Why I Read This Now: This was my backup book on my trip to Italy because it was physically small. I didn't get to it then because I didn't do much reading, but I still wanted to read it

Recommended for: many people love this one more than I did. I was just expecting something different

kesäkuu 13, 10:51 pm

Darcy and Fitzwilliam: A Tale of a Gentleman and an Officer, Karen Wasylowski, 2011

cover comments: What even is this picture? Where are they? Why is Darcy galloping toward Colonel Fitzwilliam? I don't hate it, but what does it mean?

Comments: Darcy and Fitzwilliam is a piece of Pride and Prejudice pastiche, starting with a brief prologue set in 1813 when Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam are packing up from their Easter visit to Lady Catherine De Bourgh where Darcy failed to entice Miss Elizabeth Bennet into marrying him. Chapter One jumps forward to 1815 and Darcy and Elizabeth are happily married. Mostly. Except the author has no idea who Austen's characters are, especially Elizabeth. Gone is the intelligent and witty heroine, who has instead been replaced by "some hysterical banshee" (this author's words). All the characters are unrecognizable, but the greatest insult was paid to our dearest, loveliest Elizabeth. Lady Catherine De Burgh plays a role in this novel too, and although she's actually rather fun, and I'd say vastly improved, she's not the same character. Now she's just a misunderstood doddering old aunt who has everyone's best interests in her mind. Sigh.

The first part of this long novel focused on the Darcys, with cousin Fitzwilliam hanging around. The second part was all about Battle of Waterloo war hero Colonel Fitzwilliam finding his one true love. I have to admit I skimmed this section because I absolutely don't care. He marries some young American widow with a young son. Her name is Amanda and it all felt very 1986 to me. There are complications. Part three was way too much about Elizabeth having a horrible childbirth experience (look, I've had my own awful birthing experiences and I do not need to read more about it -- especially when maternal mortality was so high. Do I want to read about Elizabeth dying? No. No sane author is going to kill off Elizabeth Bennet Darcy, So let's just not go there at all, m'kay?). Then it all comes together for everyone and the epilogue is Fitzwilliam Darcy and Colonel Fitzwilliam as grandfathers, sneaking a drink and a smoke and talking about their vast families and vaster wealth.

A few things that irritated me:
-Every once in a while it was clear that the author is highly influenced by the 2005 film of Pride and Prejudice, which is not a good thing.

- Elizabeth here is a petite, even "elfin" little wisp of a thing. Excuse me? I can't blame this on following a bad film adaptation because both Jennifer Ehle (1995) and Kiera Knightly (2005) are 5'6'. Certainly Austen never makes Elizabeth sound like that stereotypical irrational tiny girl. References to her small stature were used to diminish the character.

- the tone was off . . . no one can replicate Austen, usually because they can use the words Austen used, but do not know how to construct her sentences, let alone add her wit. Here I often thought "that doesn't sound 1815", but then I'd look it up and the author was not wrong. For example, Darcy uses "zany". Turns out it's a word from the 1600s. But it felt wrong. Colonel calls Darcy a "brat" often. In another conversation, Darcy says "you should be medicated" when calling out silly behavior. Was there medication for mental states in 1815 in a way that someone would make such a casual joking comment? Sounds more 2015 to me. All I can say is the tone was off. Also, several times Darcy says "Cut line" as in "cut line, Lizzy". What does that mean? Maybe I've just missed this common Regency phrase. A few times the P&P timeline was wrong (has the author read the novel more than once?)

Kudos to the author for getting the Regency aristocracy right -- they were a debauched lot, and she named names. Readers who think they were all manners and good behavior are only looking for a fantasy. She brought this in enough to raise the book from a 1 star to a 2 star read for me.

This was pretty bad, but I was happy to hate read it. I've read worse Austen knock offs. Reader reviews are predictable -- some people think this is great fun and others hate it. Anyone who says in their review that "Jane Austen is spinning in her grave" are immediately ignored. I won't comment on the glowing reviews: It's great to find a book that amuses you and no one is holding this up for the next literary prize. In general, many complain about the characters being so very off. And the overall language. Also others have noticed that the author used the 2005 movie as her reference point rather than the novel. Where I am amused is by some of the bad reviews. Here are the common complaints that I'll speak to:

- A lot of this book is Darcy and Colonel kibitzing. Between the two (and only when together), they use a variety of swear words. Yes, this is realistic to how two men in a close relationship would have spoken to each other, even back then. Yes, Mr. Darcy is all politeness in a social setting, but if reading him curse gives you vapors, well, unclutch your pearls, grab some smelling salts and grow the f*ck up (said by someone who was raised to never swear ever ever)

- Darcy having slept with Caroline Bingley before he met Charles Bingley. This seems to twist a lot of readers. There are a lot of things we don't know about the background of Pride and Prejudice. I have theories about lots of things. We don't know this to not be true, or not be possible. In my mind, no, this didn't happen. I think it's unlikely. But this author using it in her story is just fine. Any reader who thinks 27 year old Regency aristocrat Mr. Darcy went to his honeymoon a virgin knows absolutely nothing about the era, or about life in general. Again, if this gives you vapors, well, unclutch your pearls, grab some smelling salts and grow the f*ck up. What I DID have a problem with is that the author had Elizabeth not realize that Caroline was hot and heavy after Mr Darcy, just discovers it, and then becomes unhinged. I'll have to watch the 2005 movie again to see if this was clear there, but obviously the author only skimmed the actual book. Further, she used this as a plot driver, which is just weak.

I guess I've prattled on enough. But I do need to write a hate review once or twice a year, so please indulge me.

Rating: 2 big shiny stars. I did have fun reading this not-very-good-book. What a lark! (oh sorry, that was Virginia Woolf)

How I Discovered This: sale table at a bookshop. Been in my stacks for years

Why I Read This Now: I watched the full 1995 P&P on the weekend (it had been a while) and thought some Austen pastiche might be fun

Recommended for: If you always had a soft spot for Colonel Fitzwilliam, this one might make you happy

kesäkuu 27, 2:15 am

Still Life, Sarah Winman, 2021

cover comments: This is absolutely gorgeous. Lovely use of a classic Italian pottery design. I thought the parrot was a bit of a weird touch until I learned that he is one of the characters in the novel.

Rating: Disappointing! A number of people with excellent taste in books raved about this and gave it 5 stars. And it was set in London and Florence - two places I went on my holiday last month. This should have been my favourite book of the year, but alas, it wasn't. I'll be generous and give it 3 stars. I was bored earlier on, and should have put it aside, but it was supposed to be an amazing book so I stuck it out. And since I'd just been to London and Florence, it seemed like now or never. I'm not sorry I read it. I just wish I'd liked it more.

Comments: Still Life opens with art historian Evelyn Skinner and Margaret someone lunching al fresco in the hills of Tuscany at the end of WWII. Occasionally a bomb will explode in the distance, but for the most part it's just the allies advancing. This was one of my favourite opening scenes that I've read in years. Then the British army arrives in Florence and we meet Ulysses Temper. Soon the story follows Private Temper back to his neighbourhood in East London and we meet his rag tag group of friends and assorted others who circle around the neighbourhood pub. Things happen and then Ulysses ends up inheriting a pensione in Florence and taking some of the Londoners to Florence with him, including an 8 year old girl he calls "kid". The bulk of Still Life follows this group of people, along with the Italian neighbours in Florence, through the next 30 years. Occasionally my favourite character, Evelyn Skinner, makes an appearance. There is little plot, which is fine. When they get to 1966 there is a notorious terrible flood in Florence (where thousands of art pieces and historical texts were destroyed). This part was interesting. Near the end the story takes us back to Evelyn Skinner hanging out in Florence in the Edwardian era with E.M. Forster when he got ideas for Room With a View and Where Angels Fear to Tread.

Note: I did hear an interview when the author said she wrote this as a response to Brexit. Viewed in this light, it makes the novel really seemed forced.

What I liked: The writing was good. I loved the London and Florence settings. Evelyn Skinner was a great character and I'd like to have read a shorter novel about her. It was a nice book, full of kindness and showing that family is made, not born. (Do people need to actually hear this?)

What I didn't like: mostly it just didn't hold my attention. I'd make myself read it and then it would remind me of something I'd have to go look up, or maybe I'd just find something else to do. This 450 page book took me 26 days to read, which is a lot for me, especially because it's not a challenging novel. Also, it seemed like the author was showing off her knowledge of the streets of Florence -- but she expressed this by saying "Evelyn strolled along Via xyz" or "they crossed Piazza xyz". I've been to Florence 6 times and I couldn't tell you the name of any via, strada, or viale, and I only know the names of a few piazze. Tell me you're in Firenze with descriptions of what you're seeing. Make me FEEL that you're there, don't tell me. Mostly it didn’t hold my interest, but there were also too many times Still Life made me roll my eyes. The characters were characters – not real people. Alys, “the Kid,” was ridiculously precocious. Ulysses was the quintessential nice guy who was also good looking and had interests, money, and a life – there was no way he’d ever have remained unattached. Peg was silly, selfish and had no personality and it made no sense that EVERYONE fell in love with her. It was as if everyone was charmed by her, but she had no charm. And Claude the parrot was the last straw. Sure, he was comedic relief, but, psst, parrots don’t actually converse with humans and furthermore, don’t think like humans, or fly off to follow complex human commands. I enjoy magic and I enjoy magical realism, but this wasn’t either of those.

What other readers didn't like: some others also found it boring and didn't finish it. Many complain that there are no dialogue markings ("). I thought this was interesting because a decade ago this bothered me immensely, but now I've read so many books without them that I didn't even notice. I think because I've read so many books in translation and they're not often used in those cases?

In the end: I don't know what this was (other than a lot of "I don't care about what's going on on this page"). Was this a historical novel about groups of interacting people? Was this a story with whimsy? Why is there a human in parrot form? For some reason this one checked off all my boxes and then also all the extra point boxes, and still didn't work for me.

Why I Read This Now: I wanted to take it on my trip to England and Italy, but it was too big and heavy, so I started it when I got home.

Recommended for: probably you. Most people liked this better than I did. Probably it's super fabulous and I'm just daft.

How I discovered this: BookTube

heinäkuu 6, 10:44 am

. Bonjour Tristess, Francoise Sagan, 1955, translated from French by Irene Ash

cover comments: One of my favourite covers this year. Utterly charming

Comments: Seventeen year old Cecile is spending her summer at a villa in the south of France with her 40 year old widowed father. He is a playboy who enjoys stringing along women, but appears to maybe be settling down with Anne. Cecile thinks this will bring too drastic a change to their lives and so meddles and disrupts.

Sagan herself was about the same age when she wrote Bonjour Tristesse and the novella launched her into the French literary world.

Rating: 4 stars. The writing and translation were better than I expected

Why I Read This Now: After spending most of June on Still Life, I needed something short. Also, it promised to be summery read, which is what I was in the mood for. It did not disappoint.

How I Discovered This: ? Maybe off the 1001 Books List, but that would have been over a decade ago, so who knows. I owned this copy because I was enticed by this edition with the charming cover.

Recommended For: people who like French literature, or books from the 1950s.

heinäkuu 10, 10:26 am

The Glass Hotel, Emily St John Mandel

cover comments: on a superficial level, it's fine. Looks like the cover designer might not have read the book. An artist who had read the book and has more time could have created an inspired, beautiful cover.

Comments: Difficult to describe without writing a tome, or giving too much away. The glass hotel of the title is an exclusive hotel situated on the north end of Vancouver Island, and this was what sold me on reading the novel (it doesn't exist in real life). There's a ponzi scheme and ghosts. Part of it is set in New York City and I always enjoy a literary trip to that city. Sorry for my pathetic attempt at describing the book. It was unique and interesting.

Rating: 4.5 stars. This is one of the best books I've read this year so far. The Glass Hotel made one of Barack Obama's favourites lists, if you don't trust me

Why I Read This Now: A work friend lent this to me and I wanted to get it back to her

How I Discovered This: it got a lot of press when it was published

Recommended For: quite a wide audience, I think. I'm recommending it to friends and family. The people who don't like this seem to be the people who LOVED Station Eleven and were disappointed with this. I dislike dystopian novels, so I much preferred this to Station Eleven. Also it jumps around between characters and timelines, so if you don't like that, avoid this one.

heinäkuu 19, 10:52 am

>42 Nickelini: I always loved that book because the protagonist has my name, Cécile :D - also an excellent story. If you haven't seen the movie with David Niven and Jean Seberg, I highly recommend it! Apparently a new version is coming out in 2024 with Chloë Sévigny.

>43 Nickelini: I also loved that one! The ambiance in the hotel is just perfection!

heinäkuu 21, 7:58 pm

Empty Houses, Brenda Navarro, 2018; translated from Spanish by Sophie Hughes, 2021

cover comments: I like it

Rating: 4.5 stars. Maybe even 5 stars

Comments: A woman is distracted at a park; a different woman scoops up her child. The chapters of this short novel switch back and forth between these two unnamed women, and the details stack up, revealing a fascinating -- though often harsh -- picture of what happened. Neither of the women is likeable, but we see their struggles and situations, and understand why they act the way they do.

This 183 page novel covers the myriad downsides of motherhood, pregnancy, misogyny, and classism, all set against a Mexico City backdrop.

This is a jarring and sometimes brutal look at life (one scene made me gasp outloud, and the next day I read it to my husband and he was aghast), but quite an easy read, and I think a very good translation. Someone who doesn't have to get up and go to work every day could easily read this in a day or two.

Empty Houses is a little bit angry, and it makes me angry too. Because the world doesn't have to be like this. I think a lot of people would have their eyes opened a bit if they read this.

Recommended for: all adult readers. People who romanticize motherhood and think everyone should have children in particular must read this. They, of course, will be all judgy and blame it on the bad character of the women in the novel, not realizing that forcing motherhood on women will result in a world full of terrible parents. This is a snapshot of real life that many don't consider.

How I Discovered This: I'm not sure but my notes say Book Depository a few years ago. It's published by Daunt Books. I guess I was exploring online one night, and I'm always drawn to a book that scratches the surface of the motherhood theme. I think the downside of motherhood is an underdiscussed topic.

Why I Read This Now: it was different from the other books I've read lately and I felt like reading a book in translation

elokuu 5, 5:02 pm

>45 Nickelini: Intriguing...onto the wishlist.

Muokkaaja: elokuu 11, 3:50 pm

Eight Mountains, Paolo Cognetti, 2016; translated from Italian by Simon Carnell & Erica Segre, 2018

cover comments: blue is always nice on a book cover

Comments: Every summer, Piero travels with his parents from their home in Milan up to the village of Grana in the shadow of Mnt Rosa. His parents had grown up in the Dolomites, and loved mountains and climbing them. In Grana, Piero makes friends with a local boy his age, Bruno, and the two explore the lakes, valleys, rivers, and mountains in the area. As adults, they live in very different worlds, but eventually Piero wanders back to the village and their friendship resumes. The last 40 pages or so are particularly strong and interesting.

There is a recent film made from this novel that I will now look for and watch.

Recommended for: Eight Mountains is a quiet novel, suited for a reader in a reflective mood.

Why I Read This Now: I always enjoy a book set in the Alps. I'm also trying to read more Italian literature.

Rating: 3.5 stars. This is a short book that took me weeks to read. I think the problem is that I"m just not interested in reading this summer.

How I Discovered This: I'm not sure but I think I was looking at Italian books translated into English on Book Depository. The Alps setting made it a must-buy

elokuu 20, 5:24 am

Hi Joyce, just trying to catch up on threads again. I hope to do better in future.

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 6, 11:49 pm

Think Like a Detective: A Kid's Guide To Critical Thinking, David Pakman, 2023

Cover comments: the cover is suitably innocuous. And perfectly suitable for the subject matter.

Rating 5 stars

Comments: A short book for kids introducing them to basic critical thinking. About 40 pages, with half illustrations and half text. I'm not a teacher (but am a parent), and I think the concepts are grade 4-8, although honestly, the concepts are age 100 yrs. It covers:

- asking good questions
- evidence
- facts vs opinions
- lying
- coming to a conclusion

Illustrations: They are quite amusing and delightful. Some of them are beyond amusing (Ronald, the spoiled child who lied about his birthday party looked suspiciously like a pouty child Donald Trump) From what I can tell in on the meta-page, they are AI. So that's a thing that I'm uncomfortable with. They ARE pretty good, but I will have to reach out to the author and tell him this is not okay. This just occurred to me now that I'm typing this.)

-------Okay, now, the funny bit. This text is completely factual. Critical thinking skills have no bias.

However, the illustrations are sometimes hilarious. For adults who are aware of US politics, you will be delighted or offended. But how many MAGAs care about critical thinking? Nah, they won't know about this. For the rest of us, among the cast of characters, there's a boy named Tucker who sees ghosts, a girl who looks like a young Margot Robbie named "Marge" who thinks freckled people are criminals, and a mustached unicorn-pillow salesman, and they all kept me highly amused.

How I Discovered This: I've watched the author's YouTube channel for years. I appreciate his approach to critical thinking.

I like to support authors I have a connection with. As my husband says, "when a friend writes a book, I buy it.' I don't know this author, but I've listened to him for years, so kinda the same thing. Also, I'm a big fan of teaching critical thinking to children. Because honestly, the older generations often fail at this.

Why I Read This Now: It arrived yesterday and I read it when I opened it

Recommended for: Anyone who has a young person in their life. Teachers and librarians. Maybe even university professors. Also, see my comment above about sticking it to your MAGA relative

syyskuu 6, 11:45 pm

26. The Tenant, Katrine Engberg, 2016. Translated from Danish by Tara Chase, 2020

cover comments: it's fine but I don't think the neon shamrock green is necessary

Comments: Murder mystery set in 2012 Copenhagen. It was a good solid read. Most of the characters were not very likeable, but they made sense.

The Tenant is the first in a series. I own another in the series, even though I'm not one to follow series.

Why I Read This Now: I was looking for a book for "Women in Translation August," and this one stood out because it's set between August 8 and August 14. I started it on August 7 and finished on August 31

Rating: no complaints, but I'm not very interested in reading this summer, so 3.5 stars.

How I Discovered This: it was on the discount table at Munro's Books in Victoria. I was drawn to the book because it was written by a Danish author.

Recommended for : readers who like police procedurals set in Nordic countries

syyskuu 6, 11:50 pm

>48 connie53: just trying to catch up on threads again. I hope to do better in future.

Don't worry about it. I'm having a boring reading year so my thread is a snore.

syyskuu 7, 3:34 am

>49 Nickelini: I really like the sound of this one! (but agree with you about the AI art. It's one thing if you're not in a financial position to hire an illustrator, but quite another if you front a nationally-syndicated talk show and so presumably money is less of an object).

syyskuu 17, 11:32 pm

Foal's Bread, Gillian Mears, 2012

cover comments: nothing to say other than I love this cover and it's perfect

Why I Read This Now: I was looking for something Australian to read and this one bubbled up to the top of my Aussie TBR because it's supposed to be horsey, and a project I'm assigned at work has brought out my former horse-girl.

Comments: The book blurb, "Set in hardscrabble farming country and around the country show high-jumping circuit that prevailed in rural New South Wales prior to the Second World War, Foal's Bread tells the story of two generations of the Nancarrow family and their fortunes as dictated by the vicissitudes of the land."

For me, there wasn't nearly enough horses. I found there was way too much Australian slang--every page had multiple sentences that I didn't understand. This surprised me, as I lived in Australia for nine months (granted, 40 years ago) and I thought I was pretty comfortable with 'Strine.

The story was easy enough to follow, but I came to the point where I questioned why I continued. I struggled with this from the start and considered an early DNF, but something kept me going back. However, I'm in a prolonged reading slump, and I was barely inching through this. I'm finally chucking in the towel at page 106 (out of 300-something). Also, I want to read Australian books before my upcoming trip, but historical fiction set in the Outback won't scratch the itch. I'm making it a soft-DNF for now, and will put it aside and possibly give it another go. Maybe when I come back from Australia I'll be in the mood for it.

How I Discovered This: Back when this was published a decade ago, some LT friend read this (sorry I don't remember who) said something like "I don't like horsey books or the horsey set, but this was really good," and I thought that sounded perfect.

Rating: Since this is a soft DNF, I'm not going to rate it now. My problems with this book, I think, are less with the quality of the book and more that it was not the right time for me to read it. I'm still in the mood for a good horsey book. Maybe I'll dig out the Jilly Cooper I have in a box somewhere. Or my childhood horse books.

Recommended for: A reader who is looking for Australian historical fiction, set in the Outback during the Inter-war years. A strong understanding of Australian slang will help.

syyskuu 18, 5:07 pm

>53 Nickelini: She's not Australian, but as a former horse-girl myself I enjoyed Jane Smiley's Horse Heaven. The blurb says, "A novel set in the world of thoroughbred racing follows a group of trainers, jockeys, and "track brats" on a two-year journey through the racing cycle."

syyskuu 19, 12:39 pm

>54 rosalita: thanks for the recommendation. I looked at some reviews and it sounds very horsey indeed

syyskuu 19, 1:35 pm

>55 Nickelini: You're welcome! I hope it hits the sweet spot for you.