OscarWilde87's reading log 2023

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OscarWilde87's reading log 2023

tammikuu 4, 3:21 am

Hello there and welcome to my 2023 thread!
This is my tenth year on CR, woohooo! Thanks for having me!

Here's something quick about me and my reading. I'm a teacher of English and mathematics at a German high school. I tend to read more fiction than non-fiction, but I generally enjoy both and the non-fiction part seems to be increasing lately. My reading is all over the board and I'm interested in a wide range of topics. You'll probably find me reading classics as well as popular fiction. My posting on librarything and in Club Read dropped significantly about halfway through the year and I'm not sure it'll be better this year as work only seems to mount up rather than calm down again. But hey, I'm here to relax, to find new books that I'd like to read and to share my thoughts about the books I read. So my thread is to some extent also just a reading log for me so that I can come back to my thoughts on certain books later. Obviously I appreciate anyone taking the time to follow my thread and post every once in a while.

My reading goals for this year will be the same as always:
1. Read a book with more than 1,000 pages. This is an all-time favorite annual goal.
2. Read at least 7,500 pages. Why 7,500? The goal here is to read at least 25 books with an average page count of 300.

Happy New (reading) Year!

Muokkaaja: syyskuu 1, 2:07 pm

This post will serve as my reading summary and provide some stats about my overall reading.

Reducing the TBR pile: This year's challenge (to be updated)

Currently reading:
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

Finished in 2023

#1: How to Stop Time by Matt Haig ()
#2: Daylight by David Baldacci ()
#3: The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano ()
#4: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King ()
#5: The Comfort Book by Matt Haig ()
#6: Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart ()
#7: Mercy by David Baldacci ()
#8: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher ()
#9: Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan ()
#10: Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare ()
#11: A Promised Land by Barack Obama ()
#12: Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck ()
#13: Sparring Partners by John Grisham ()
#14: The Son by Philipp Meyer ()
#15: The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles ()
#16: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune ()

Books read: 16
Pages read: 6,659

Books read: 18
Pages read: 7,873

Books read: 17
Pages read: 6,189

Books read: 18
Pages read: 9,191

Books read: 20
Pages read: 12,414

Books read: 17
Pages read: 9,373

Books read: 18
Pages read: 6,403

Books read: 28
Pages read: 10,426

Books read: 20
Pages read: 8,280

Books read: 27
Pages read: 7,164

Books read: 26
Pages read: 11,618

tammikuu 4, 4:01 am

#1: How to Stop Time by Matt Haig
(340 pages)

Matt Haig's How to Stop Time has an interesting proposition: What if there were a medical condition where you would age much more slowly than usual, say 15 times more slowly? This is what this novel explores. The so-called albas or albatrosses hardly age at all compared to the so-called mayflies, that is people with a normal life expectancy. The condition, named anageria, allows the albas to live through many periods of history. It is because of that that protagonist Tom Hazard has known Shakespeare and James Cook, among others. Now, in the twenty-first century, he is a history teacher in London. As part of a society of albas Tom has to follow some rules for his own protection: He must not be famous, he must not stay in a place longer than eight years and he is not allowed to fall in love. It is especially this last rule that twenty-first century Tom starts to struggle with when he meets Camille, a fellow teacher at his school. The novel constantly switches between present day and Tom's historical past and shows how his past affects his present.

In addition to the concept of the novel, which I found highly interesting, I enjoyed the characters very much. Plus, Matt Haig's writing makes this novel a real page-turner as you want to learn more about Tom's journey. Highly recommendable. 5 stars.

tammikuu 4, 12:27 pm

Welcome to Club Read 2023! Do you have candidates picked out for your 1000+ page books?

>3 OscarWilde87: Interesting premise.

tammikuu 4, 12:29 pm

Stopping by to say I'll be lurking again this year. Look forward to that 1,000 page challenge too!

tammikuu 4, 12:33 pm

Happy New Year and happy reading for 2023. Cheers!

tammikuu 4, 3:47 pm

>3 OscarWilde87: Okay, that's going in the TBR...

tammikuu 4, 8:08 pm

>3 OscarWilde87: It is not even mid-January and I am already getting hit with bullets left and right... that sounds fascinating.

tammikuu 5, 12:58 am

Just found your thread and wanted to say hi - I teach high school maths too! And for the last 18 months, I've taught a couple of German classes as well. Too funny.

Looking forward to following your reading this year if I can keep up once school goes back...which for us is in about 3 weeks. Last year was a shocker, and my thread had next to nothing in it, but hopefully this year will be better.

tammikuu 6, 12:47 am

Happy New Year Oscar.

>3 OscarWilde87: I’m curious how Haig’s albas handled social media (but i have no idea how old the book is or if it made sense to address that).

tammikuu 6, 3:54 am

>4 labfs39: Nothing in particular just yet, but I was planning on continuing Ken Follett's Century Trilogy. As far as I see it, the third book in the series clocks in at roughly 1,100 pages. I guess I'll just see what the year has in store for me.

tammikuu 6, 3:59 am

>9 cushlareads: Another fellow teacher, hi!
I can relate to not being able to keep up. I'll be back to school on Monday, so my short winter break is basically over. Last year was more exhausting than the ones before, but I can't really put my finger on why that was. We'll see how 2023 will go.

tammikuu 6, 4:00 am

>10 dchaikin: The protagonist actually is on Facebook and there is a short sequence about him commenting on a post. Albas have to be careful with their profile, though. Same as with pictures in newspapers and such.

tammikuu 6, 4:27 am

#2: Daylight by David Baldacci
(556 pages)

Daylight is the third installment in David Baldacci's Atlee Pine series and crosses over with his John Puller series, where it is the fifth installment. In this novel, FBI special agent Atlee Pine sets out to find her sister Mercy who was abducted when both were still children and has not been found ever since. Pine follows a lead that takes her to Trenton, New Jersey, where her path crosses with that of John Puller, an army CID agent, who wants to arrest Tony Vincenzo, the same man that could shed some light on what happened to Pine's sister all those years ago. The two team up to solve the drug case Puller is investigating as well as to find out more about Mercy Pine's abduction and fate. In the process they get close to uncovering a large blackmail scandal that involves high-ranking members of the government, among others. So there are powerful people with a good reason to stop the investigation.

I liked the novel a lot and it did actually not take me very long to finish, despite it having more than 500 pages. The action is fast-paced and the story is gripping. As a reader of the whole series I have really come to like the characters. I would, however, not recommend this book if you have not yet read the previous novels in the series. Technically, it could probably be read on its own, but it would just be too much background knowledge you would not have. 4 stars.

tammikuu 6, 12:27 pm

Hi from another teacher from Germany :-) I teach German and English at vocational college.

>12 OscarWilde87: "Last year was more exhausting than the ones before, but I can't really put my finger on why that was." I feel exactly the same!

I'm curious about your thoughts on A Promised Land, I'm thinking about tackling it on audiobook (although not too soonish).

tammikuu 8, 10:33 am

>3 OscarWilde87: I read this with a few other people back in 2020 and I really enjoyed it.

tammikuu 8, 11:14 am

Looking forward to see what your 1,000 page book is.

tammikuu 8, 1:40 pm

Just waving hello and wishing you a happy new year, if not too late!
I am mainly lurking in your thread, but I'm always enjoying following your readings.

I also plan to read half of a Yellow Sun this year. It will be one of my contributions to this year African novel challenge. It's been sitting on my shelves for quite long, probably as long as yours as our books have the same cover! Looking forward to your thoughts on this book (and the others).

tammikuu 15, 7:54 am

>15 MissBrangwen: Hi! There seem to be many teachers on LT. ;)

I have started A Promised Land and about one hundred pages in it seems pretty interesting, just as I had expected. It's especially interesting to read certain parts that are also in Becoming, just from a different perspective.

tammikuu 15, 7:54 am

>17 NanaCC: Me too, actually. I haven't made up my mind yet, but something will come my way, I'm sure.

tammikuu 15, 7:56 am

>18 raton-liseur: Happy new year to you, too! I will check out your thread and put a star on it to lurk there as well. I'll also be looking forward to hearing your thoughts on Half of a Yellow Sun.

helmikuu 5, 4:19 am

#3: The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano
(364 pages)

Paolo Giordano's novel The Solitude of Prime Numbers follows the life of the two protagonists Mattia and Alice, who grow up in Italy. Both lives are defined by one traumatic incident in their youth. For Mattia it is him leaving his mentally handicapped twin sister behind in a park to enjoy going to a friend's birthday on his own for once. As he returns to the park, his sister is missing, never to be found again. For Alice it is a skiing accident in which she suffers a leg injury that will never heal and makes her walk with a limp for the rest of her life. While Mattia starts cutting his hands as self-punishment for leaving his sister behind, Alice becomes anorexic. In the process both become quite odd and lonely which attracts them to one another. The novel shows them navigating the hardships of growing up and trying to find their place as well as themselves.

I stumbled upon this book because of its title The Solitude of Prime Numbers. As a mathematics teacher that somehow spoke to me even before I read what the book was about. Since the blurb also attracted my attention I chose to get the book and I really liked it. At times it is really straight-forward and the language provides a very vivid description of even small things. Giordano manages to make every situation the characters encounter come to life. While this is generally a good thing the book quite often made me sad. And then again, I could not put it away and there were other parts where there was finally a glimmer of hope in all the sadness that the two protagonists live through. On the whole, I enjoyed reading this novel, but somehow I was never completely lost in it, maybe because I made myself distance from the sad story. Maybe because the book has just come around at not quite the right time. Still, it is a good 4-star read for me.

(Note: I read the German translation of the novel, which was originally written in Italian.)

helmikuu 5, 10:00 am

Nice review. I like that title too.

helmikuu 5, 10:03 am

Great review of The Solitude of Prime Numbers, Oscar. It sounds very interesting, so I'll try to get to it later this year.

helmikuu 7, 3:47 pm

helmikuu 8, 9:26 am

>22 OscarWilde87: This title was familiar to me, but I never knew what the novel was about or that it was Italian. Great review!

helmikuu 12, 3:09 am

>26 MissBrangwen: Thank you! You might want to try it if it's your cup of tea. And it is easy to get a German translation, seeing that you're from Germany.

huhtikuu 6, 3:35 am

#4: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
(641 pages)

Doctor Sleep is the sequel to King's The Shining and explores what has become of Dan Torrance years after his father was killed in the destruction of the Overlook Hotel. Dan Torrance still has the shining but in order to subdue his ability he has taken to drinking. When he finally comes around to making a change in his life and starts AA, he is contacted by Abra Stone, a young girl who has an even stronger form of the shining and is telepathic. While all this takes place in the eastern United States there is a group which calls itself the True Knot out in the west. They appear to be very old demons disguised as ordinary human beings and they live off what they call steam. This steam is basically the shining. The stronger the shining the stronger the steam, which makes Abra a very prominent target for the True Knot. This is especially so as the members of the True Knot, who seemed to have been immune to common human diseases up to then, are slowly starting to die from measles they contracted from sucking the steam out of a young boy who had them. The True Knot's leader, who calls herself Rose the Hat, sees Abra's steam as their cure. Dan and Abra, learning of the True Knot through Abra's telepathic skills, decide to get together to fight the demons of the True Knot and destroy them once and for all. For Dan Torrance this is also a fight of the old demons that have been chasing him since early childhood.

I enjoyed reading Doctor Sleep and found it to be quite fast-paced, although there are probably things that could have been cut shorter. Knowing King's writing, though, that is to be expected. The idea of revisiting Dan Torrance is probably one that has bugged King for quite some time. In the afterword he says that what might have happened to Dan Torrance is something he was often asked about on book tours. The depiction of alcohol as a demonic substance that holds a strong grasp on the lives of everyone suffering from alcoholism is also a recurring theme with Stephen King. Adding Abra Stone, a young telepathic girl, to the story was a good choice in my eyes. Generally, the set of characters is well-chosen and drives the plot quite well. 4 stars for this one.

huhtikuu 6, 5:18 pm

Book bullet here too on The Solitude of Prime Numbers.

huhtikuu 10, 6:12 am

#5: The Comfort Book by Matt Haig
(259 pages)

Matt Haig's The Comfort Book is everything its title says. You can turn to this book when in need of comfort. And even when you do not need to be comforted it provides life advice and insights that might be useful to you. The book is a collection of little texts, lists, recommendations, poems, aphorisms and the like. It does not have to be read from beginning to end - and most likely you would not want to do this anyway - but you can open it to any page that has a title suitable to your tastes at that very moment and just dive in.
While I found some parts of the book quite profound and helpful, comforting even, there were just as many parts for me where I thought the advice rather obvious and somewhat generic. This book might not be for everyone, but then again it might. I am really torn here. 3 stars.

huhtikuu 13, 2:55 am

#6: Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
(334 pages)

Super Sad True Love Story is a dystopian novel set in the near future. The United States of America as we know it does not exist anymore as much of its society and its institutions have been taken over by the Chinese to whom the Americans owe a great debt. The global financial system is pegged to the Yuan and not the US-Dollar anymore, many companies and even former elite universities have an additional Chinese name. What is more, the change in society is an extrapolation of what we do with our smartphones today. Everyone owns a so-called "appärät", a device that is similar to a cellphone but much more enhanced when it comes to functionality. The main form of communication is via those devices, even when people stand next to each other. Also, you can access other people's background, images, their credit rating and more of the like. The devices also allow you to rate people in certain categories. Those ratings are almost like a currency on their own because everyone strives for good looks and immortality in this society. Now this is the world that Lenny Abramov, the thirty-nine year-old protagonist of the novel, inhabits. He is old-fashioned, not caring much about his appearance and ratings and still enjoying reading actual books, which are now called "printed, bound media artifacts". When he meets Eunice, a young Korean American, in Italy he falls in love instantly. However, the two are not well matched on the outside. While he is considered old, she is very young. Where she is beautiful, he does not really care for his looks. He is an avid reader and thinker, she is interested in the latest fashion and still undecided about her future. When Eunice returns to the US, Lenny is already back and she moves in with him, mainly for practical and financial reasons. Slowly, Eunice starts to warm up to Lenny and she becomes more than simply a roommate. What will become of their relationship? What will become of the world they live in?

Gary Shteyngart's novel paints a very bleak picture of our society in the future. His dystopian vision contains many elements that we already see right now as for example the growing addiction to smartphones and judging other people on social media. In that sense, I found the novel quite frightening as I definitely would not want our society to become like the one Shteyngart describes. The financial situation is hopefully too much of a stretch to become true. Still, I had this strange feeling when reading the book. The love story between Lenny and Eunice is really sad, just like the title proclaims. I generally liked the novel, but did not find it overly intriguing. 3.5 stars.

huhtikuu 16, 1:34 pm

#7: Mercy by David Baldacci
(538 pages)

This is the fourth novel centered around protagonist Atlee Pine, an FBI agent whose sister Mercy was kidnapped when they were only six years old. Over the last three novels Pine slowly collected bits and pieces of information about her twin sister's kidnapping and still has a sliver of hope that she might be alive. In this novel, Pine is on leave from the FBI and tries to finally crack open this very personal case. With her is her assistant Carol Blum and together they are making headway in figuring out whether Mercy is still alive and where she might be. Will Atlee Pine finally find closure - and what kind of closure might that be?

Baldacci's novel is quite fast-paced and a real page turner as you really want to find out whether Atlee Pine's sister Mercy is still alive and where she might be. I really enjoyed reading this novel that concludes the story of the Pine sisters. 4 stars.

toukokuu 20, 10:47 am

#8: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
(230 pages)

This is a re-read. I think it is the third or fourth time I've read the novel now as I discuss it with students in the classroom time and again. Whenever I do, I re-read the novel. Below you'll find the review from when I first read the book.

Thirteen Reasons Why is Jay Asher's debut novel. Before protagonist Hannah Baker takes her own life she sends out seven tapes in which she relates the events leading up to her suicide. Each side of every tape is dedicated to one person that plays a role in her story. The novel is structured along the lines of those stories, having one chapter for each side of every tape. The first person to get the tapes is also the one that is featured on tape 1, side A. Everyone is supposed to listen to the tapes and send them to the next person in line. If that chain is broken there is a second set of tapes that will be made public. However, none of the persons on the tapes would want their story to be revealed.

What makes this novel interesting is of course its setting but also the narrative technique that Asher employs. While the stories on the tapes are of course narrated by Hannah Baker from a first-person perspective there is the added commentary of Clay Jensen, one of the recipients of those tapes who questions why he got the tapes from the beginning. The story gains momentum as the plot approaches Clay's role in the story and has its climax in the final stories before Hannah Baker's suicide.

Thirteen Reasons Why is a YA novel, but I would recommend it to an even larger readership because the topic is not just relevant for teenagers. On the whole, 4 stars.

toukokuu 21, 8:58 am

>33 OscarWilde87: I knew of Thirteen Reasons Why because of the hullabaloo when the Netflix tv series was released (which I didn't watch for personal reasons at the time). I didn't know or, more likely, remember that it was based on a book. I will add it to the TBR.

toukokuu 22, 12:48 pm

>33 OscarWilde87: Mmmm... It seems interesting, and right up my daughter's alley. Thanks for the interesting review.

toukokuu 27, 5:02 am

>34 labfs39: Oh, I have seen the first season of the Netflix series. While I found it quite watchable, I definitely wondered why there's be more season because the story of the novel is finished after the first seasons.

>35 raton-liseur: The students in my classes always seem to like it, although this is usually more so for the girls than the boys. But that also seems to be a general tendency that boys tend not to enjoy reading in general that much at that age.

kesäkuu 18, 4:05 am

#9: Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
(375 pages)

Percy Jackson does not know it yet, but he is a half god. He grows up a seemingly normal teenager making his way through school, but he seems to be getting into trouble constantly and has to change schools frequently. Eventually he is attacked by a Fury, disguised as his teacher. Able to defend himself his real identity is slowly revealed to him. With the help of his mother he makes his way to Camp Half-Blood, where he finds out that there are others like him - children of the Greek gods and mere mortals. Shortly after his arrival Poseidon claims Percy as his son when Percy is attacked but can apparently survive anything as long as he is in the water.

Being a novel about a teenage hero set against the backdrop of Greek mythology, a quest cannot be missing. Someone stole Zeus' master lightning bolt and Percy is blamed for it. He has to set out on a quest to find the master bolt and return it to Zeus before a war between Zeus and Poseidon ensues. Accompanied by his friend Grover, a satyr, and Annabeth, another teenage demigod, Percy has to fight monsters, go down into the underworld and come out alive at the end.

I liked the novel a lot. You have to keep in mind, however, that it is written for teenagers and as an adult there will be passages that you will clearly recognize as such. Still, the plot works just fine for me and I like the idiosyncrasies of the different characters and gods involved. 4 stars.

kesäkuu 18, 4:28 am

#10: Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
(104 pages)

William Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing is a comedy about life, love and betrayal. When Don Pedro, Don John, Claudio and Benedick return from the war and reach the Italian town of Messina, Claudio immediately falls in love with Hero, the daughter of the governor of Messina, Leonato. A wedding is soon to be arranged, but Don John, who wants to break up the marriage simply because he is evil, interferes and spins an intricate plot to disgrace Hero and make Claudio call of the marriage. At the same time Benedick and Beatrice, Leonato's niece, constantly banter and exchange little insults. Another plot is conceived that tries to make Benedick and Beatrice fall for each other, which they eventually do. Finally, the situation with Hero and Claudio needs to be resolved so that the comedy can end on a good note.

I read this play before seeing it staged at the Globe Theatre Neuss as part of this year's Shakespeare Festival. The HandleBards, a theater group from England that largely travels to the venues by bike (not to Germany, though) and includes the handlebars in their play, provided an outstanding performance of Shakespeare's play. Being only four actors they had to play different roles and switch costumes and change voices quickly. I simply loved their performance and I can recommend the HandleBards to anyone who can get a chance to see them.

kesäkuu 22, 3:30 am

#11: A Promised Land by Barack Obama
(751 pages)

In A Promised Land Barack Obama describes his way to the presidency as well as his first term in office. The readers learn about the challenges of combining a political career and raising a family, the stress and personal sacrifices of being the most powerful leader in the world and much more.

I enjoyed this book especially because it felt comfortable to hear a voice of reason, to see an intelligent line of argument laid out elaborately and to follow Obama making important decisions to try to end the financial crisis of 2008, to balance getting soldiers home and keeping them safe abroad, to hunt down Osama bin Laden and fight terrorism, to get a health care bill passed that includes as many Americans as possible and to often negotiate between a rock and a hard place. One can clearly see that Obama is an intelligent man with a clear vision of what America can be and should be. 5 stars.

kesäkuu 24, 3:34 am

Summer reading
Let the reading summer begin! This is on my pile, so let's see how much of a dent I'll be able to make.

kesäkuu 24, 10:14 am

>40 OscarWilde87: I love Adichie's writing and was pleasantly surprised when I read House in the Cerulean Sea for my book club. I thought it was going to be a YA fantasy, but I think it was more. The club debated whether or not it was YA quite a bit, but with a 40-year-old protagonist, I think not. Anyway, everyone agreed that it was more than we expected.

kesäkuu 24, 12:11 pm

>41 labfs39: The club debated whether or not it was YA quite a bit, but with a 40-year-old protagonist, I think not.
I'd agree that it's not YA, and for the same reason. One of the main criteria for YA, in my mind, at least, is YA aged protagonists.

I'm partway through this book myself. I started it last year. I wouldn't consider it a DNF so much as a Put Aside for Now.

kesäkuu 25, 3:37 am

>41 labfs39: >42 Julie_in_the_Library: Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I am actually looking forward to reading The House in the Cerulean Sea. I started my annual "Steinbeck in summer" read yesterday, though.

kesäkuu 25, 2:24 pm

#12: Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck
(229 pages)

What is America like? And what makes an American American? In 1960 John Steinbeck set out to find answers to these questions by traveling through his country. He had a truck custom-made so that he could sleep and cook in it and was independent on the road. So as not to travel alone he took his dog Charley with him on a journey that would eventually take him through 38 states before he arrived at home again. As an allusion to Don Quixote, Cervantes' knight-errant, he called his truck the Rocinante. As he says himself, Steinbeck's intention for taking this trip was to listen to his fellow Americans, see what they are like, what opinions they have about their country and current issues. While he found some of that on the road, oftentimes people were not too talkative at all, especially considering the upcoming presidential election between Kennedy and Nixon.

There is a lot to say about the impressions that Steinbeck shares, both about the United States of America and the act of traveling itself. For instance, the feeling that right before you start traveling your bed feels the most comfortable and you are actually questioning on why to leave at all, is something that I can really relate to. You spend all this time planning a trip and really looking forward to eventually leaving - Steinbeck diligently packed his Rocinante and took much more with him than he needed, something that many of us are also familiar with - only to have second thoughts right when it is time to leave. Once you overcome those second thoughts the journey can be delightful. Starting out in New York City, Steinbeck wanted to go west, but he started going east and then north up the coast until the northernmost point of Maine. Only then did he slowly make his way west. Eventually he arrives 'home', in Monterey, California, where he grew up and where many of his novels are set. When he sees his home, he sees many differences and finds it altogether changed from what he remembered, concluding that you should never return home expecting it to have remained the same over all those years. Rather, you should just keep the fond memories you have.

Taking a closer look at how the book is written, I find Steinbeck's writing to be just as perfect as in his fictional works. His descriptions of nature, landscapes and surroundings are superb and really add to his experiences on the journey. The encounters with strangers that the author describes make for a vivid portrayal of the journey and the time it was written in. I find his experience in New Orleans and his commentary on watching the so-called "Cheerleaders" insult a black girl going to school highly remarkable. When Steinbeck is asked shortly after seeing this whether he was traveling for pleasure, he simply answers: "I was until today." Quite frequently Steinbeck compares human behavior and interaction with the behavior of his dog and comes away with the conclusion that many things would be a lot easier if people were not constantly fighting each other for something they do not want to have anyway, if people listened to each other more, if opinion and facts were not as blurred in the media as they have become. Especially this last observation could not be more accurate today, when ever more frequently personal opinion becomes fact through sheer repetition and sharing.

Overall, I really enjoyed Travels With Charley immensely. 5 stars for an insightful and witty travelogue.

kesäkuu 25, 4:32 pm

Enjoyed your review of Travels With Charlie That was a journey taken in 1960, I wonder what the same journey would be like in 2023.

kesäkuu 26, 2:43 am

>45 baswood: That's a nice thought experiment. Probably the encounters on the journey would be somewhat different, I'd assume, as people are much more vocal in their opinions and would most likely share them with strangers.

kesäkuu 30, 1:18 pm

>40 OscarWilde87: It looks like an interesting summer pile!
I have read Half of a Yellow Sun a few months ago, and it was a good book and an interesting read, despite some (minor) flaws. I hope you'll get to it and enjoy it.

>44 OscarWilde87: Oh I think I have this one on my shelves, a random find in a second hand bookshop I think. Nice review, although I'm don't think I'll read it soon (too many other reading projects...).

Happy summer reads!

heinäkuu 15, 2:07 pm

>47 raton-liseur: Thanks a lot! I just returned from an amazing trip to Arizona and Utah, where I went hiking in some of the National Parks. I did not get much reading done there, though, as I was just out all day and very tired in the evenings. I hope I'll be getting to Adichie soon. Currently I am about halfway into The Son.

heinäkuu 15, 2:39 pm

#13: Sparring Partners by John Grisham
(401 pages)

John Grisham's Sparring Partners is a collection of three novellas named after the third story in the book. That story is about two brothers, Kirk and Rusty, who are partners in the law firm their father once headed. Their father is in prison, however, convicted for killing his wife. Kirk and Rusty divided up the firm equally and they could not be more different from one another and only speak with each other when absolutely necessary. Diantha Bradshaw manages the law firm and works as an intermediary between the two brothers. As the firm is in dire straits financially, the brothers - together with Diantha - hatch a plan to get at some of the illegal money that their father has moved offshore before going to prison. Will their plan work out, though?

The first story in the book is titled "Homecoming" and features Jake Brigance, a Ford County lawyer that Grisham's readers already know from previous books. In this story, Brigance is supposed to help a former lawyer colleague, Mack Stafford, who fled the country and is said to have embezzled a large sum of money. After a couple of years abroad he plans to return, however, as his former wife is terminally ill and he wants to be a part of the life of his two daughters again. Legally, there are some hurdles, however, which is why he needs Jake's help.

Eventually, "Strawberry Moon", the second story in the book, is about Cody Wallace, who is on death row and only hours away from the needle. None of his appeals have worked and the governor, a firm believer in the death penalty, does not grant him clemency. The reader learns about the reason for Wallace's sentence and follows him during his last hours and making his final requests.

I liked all three of the stories as they moved along quite fast, were easy to get into and left certain things open at the end so that there is room for sequels which I would definitely like to read. The characters are well-crafted and the writing is of the quality you are used to from Grisham. 5 stars for a very entertaining collection of stories.

Muokkaaja: heinäkuu 21, 11:54 am

#14: The Son by Philipp Meyer
(561 pages)

The McCullough family has been living in the American West for many generations. Philipp Meyer's The Son relates the story of this family from different perspectives, mainly of Eli McCullough, Peter McCullough and Jeanne Anne McCullough. It is set mainly in Texas at different points in time, the mid-1800s, the early 1900s and the mid-1900s to present day. Eli McCullough lives out in the west where his family is attacked by Comanches who kill his mother, rape his sister and take her and Eli as prisoners, the father not being present at their home at the time of the raid. Soon, Eli's sister dies in captivity. Eli, however, adapts to the Comanches and over a number of years becomes accepted as almost their equal.
Peter McCullough is Eli's son, but he is different from the rest of the family, being rather bookish, introvert and not prone to violence. When it is decided that their neighbor, a Mexican named Garcia, and his whole family have to be killed because he has allegedly stolen the McCullough's horses, Peter abhors this act and the murders haunt him for the rest of his life. When María Garcia, who was spared as a young girl at the time of the murders, comes to visit Peter at his home decades later, Peter falls for her, which his family cannot comprehend and does not approve of.
Eventually, Jeanne Anne's parts of the story are set in the early 2000s when she takes a look back at her life that seems to be nearing the end. As a young girl and later as a woman she always worked hard to belong in a world dominated by men. When her father Charles, Peter's son, dies, she inherits the farm and all the land and oil it provides. She becomes very rich early in her life, not even being 20 at the time. She, too, is visited by members of the Garcia family at various points in her life. Finally, she is visited by Ulises Garcia, who claims to be Peter's son, whom he had with María Garcia.

I really enjoyed reading The Son because it provided different perspectives and was set at different times between the 1800s and early 2000s. The different points of view combine to create a fuller picture of the characters. Eli, for example, evokes feelings of sympathy at first and his time with the Comanche's is very formative in that he tries to find a place in a world that was previously unknown to him. Later on, through Peter's perspective, Eli is a completely different character that I could not feel much sympathy for. The history of the McCullough family is presented as a nicely woven quilt and I found it to be a very intriguing story. 4.5 stars.

elokuu 22, 2:17 pm

#15: The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles
(576 pages)

It is 1954 in Nebraska and Billy's older brother Emmett, who is only just 18, returns home from a youth work farm after a sentence for voluntary manslaughter. Their mother has left the two brothers and their father has died, leaving them with some money to spend and make something out of their lives. When their mother left them, she also sent them postcards from places along the Lincoln Highway and young Billy is bent on following the highway west to San Francisco where he expects to reunite with their mother. However, two runaways from the youth work farm, Duchess and Woolly, join Emmett and Billy, with Woolly promising to divide up his trust fund of 150,000 dollars among them when they take them to his home in the Adirondacks. This is how it comes to be that the four set out on a joint journey east instead of west. Will they find Woolly's money? Will they stay together? Will Emmett and Billy ever find their mother?

Amor Towles' novel relates the events that happens to the four protagonists on their way east. The story is mainly told from their different perspectives, with Duchess' part being in the first-person perspective while the others are told from a third-person perspective. This enables the readers to gain a deeper insight into Duchess' character. While Duchess generally seems to have the group's interest at heart towards the beginning it quickly becomes clear that he has a mission of his own and wants to enjoy his life to the fullest. Being wronged himself by his own father, Duchess does not always make the right decision and has to explain his way out of many predicaments that have an impact on each of the four members of the group. The other three characters are no less interesting. Billy is happy to be on the journey as he sees it as an adventure that he is about to write down in the empty chapter of a book about heroes that he is reading over and over. Emmett is quite naive at first but certainly comes to see through Duchess' ways and schemes. His major intention is protecting his younger brother and getting to California. Woolly turns out to be a very empathetic character who rather thinks about others than himself. His goal for the journey is only revealed towards the end of the novel. As can be seen, the four characters seem to set out on a joint trip with similar intentions, but are actually all in it for quite different reasons. It is when those reasons frequently clash that the plot takes up speed and leads to a very well-thought-out finale.

Overall, I enjoyed the book a lot once I got into it and it had me turning the pages faster and faster to finally find out what would happen to Billy's goal. The characters of Billy, Woolly and Emmett quickly grew on me and I was torn about Duchess until the very end, going back and forth between understanding and detesting him for what he does. 4 stars.

syyskuu 1, 2:04 pm

#16: The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
(400 pages)

Linus Baker is a caseworker with the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, a government agency comparable to child protective services, only that it is for magical children. His work is very important to Linus and he takes it very seriously, never once bending the rules that are clearly laid out in a heavy tome with the apt title 'Rules and Regulations'. The protagonist visits orphanages to see whether they are up to the agency's standards and then makes a recommendation to the higher-ups, Extremely Upper Management, who either close the orphanage or let it remain open. As Linus is a very matter-of-fact no-nonsense person he is very well-suited for the job. This is also the reason that Extremely Upper Management chooses him to investigate the goings-on in a very special and secret orphanage led by one Arthur Parnassus and located on an island that is very hard to reach. When Linus Baker accepts the assignment - not that he has a chance to say no, obedient as he is - he already feels that he has not gotten all the information that he needs to do his job and that something is held back from him. Arriving on the island, the orphanage turns out to be the house in the cerulean sea from the title. Linus is brought to the island by a sprite, which is not the last time he wonders what kind of assignment he was given. Soon he meets the magical children. There is Talia, a female gnome with a beard, Theodore, a wyvern, Chauncey, a creature that cannot really be defined in terms of what exactly it is, Sal, a boy that turns into a dog when frightened, Phee, a forest sprite and eventually Lucy, which is short for Lucifer as he is considered to be the Antichrist. The novel then follows Linus' time on the island and his interactions with the kids. What will his verdict be? How can Linus cope with this special assignment? Who exactly is this mysterious Arthur Parnassus?

TJ Klune's The House in the Cerulean Sea is such a heart-warming novel that can and maybe even should be read by readers of all ages. There are many ways you can approach it: as a fantasy novel, a coming-of-age tale, a romance, even a comedy. The characters all have features that make them unique but also stand out in society. In that sense, the novel is a call for a more inclusive society where everyone can find their viable place without having to worry about what others think. With this book, I have a very simple recommendation. Read it. 5 stars.

syyskuu 1, 9:07 pm

>52 OscarWilde87: My book club read this earlier this year, and I enjoyed it much more than I was expecting. I agree that's it's a very hard book to characterize, but heart-warming for sure. "Extremely Upper Management" is a riot.