What are you reading the week of February 29, 2020?

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What are you reading the week of February 29, 2020?

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Fev 28, 2020, 11:09pm

Wow! Just Wow. The Inhabited Island blew my socks off. What began as a fun, playfully satirical novel revved up into a shattering dystopian epic. The Strugatsky brothers grew up in Leningrad during the 1930s and 40s. The older brother, Boris, and their father were evacuated from Leningrad during the war and inducted into the Red Army. Arkady and their mother were left to survive the siege of Leningrad. So when they write about the chaos and desolation of a war torn society and the grim realities of a penal battalion marching to sure death they know what they're going on about. I found myself staying up until four in the morning desperate to keep reading even when I knew that I had to go to work in a few hours. This was easily their best book.

Fev 28, 2020, 11:42pm

Riders Of the Purple Sage – Zane Grey

From the book jacket: Cottonwoods, Utah, 1871. A woman stands accused. A man, sentenced to whipping. In … rides … Lassiter, a notorious gunman who’s come to avenge his sister’s death. It doesn't take Lassiter long to see that this once-peaceful Mormon community is controlled by the corrupt Deacon Tull – a powerful elder who’s trying to take the woman’s land by forcing her to marry him, branding her foreman a dangerous “outsider.” Lassiter vows to help them. But when the ranch is attacked by horse thieves, cattle rustlers, and a mysterious Masked Rider, he realizes they’re up against something bigger, and more brutal, than the land itself…

My reactions
I hardly know what to write about this classic of the Western genre. It’s full of adventure, violence, strong men and women, tenderness, brutality and an abiding sense of justice. And, of course, there is the landscape, which Grey paints so vividly it is practically a character.

Yes, the story line and dialogue are a bit melodramatic. But Grey’s story still captured this reader’s imagination with its sense of drama, almost non-stop action, and bold characters. I was reminded of the many western movies I watched with my Daddy in the ‘50s and ‘60s. They were exciting and the good guys always won. Clearly those movies (and other books of the genre) had Grey’s strong foundation on which to build. I’m glad I finally read it.

UPDATE on second reading, January 17, 2020: I chose to read the text in preparation for my F2F book club discussion. If anything, the chase scenes were even more thrilling. And the descriptions of the landscape! The melodramatic - "bodice-heaving" - dialogue was also more evident and I found myself laughing at the ridiculousness of some of the "love" scenes. Still, now that I know there is a sequel ... well I may just have to read it.

Editado: Mar 7, 2020, 8:35am

Enjoying these two books ~

OverDrive Kindle eBook Alexa can read to me ~
The Watergate Girl: My Fight for Truth and Justice Against a Criminal President by Jill Wine-Banks (4 stars)

OverDrive audiobook ~
Golden in Death: An Eve Dallas Novel (In Death, Book 50) by J. D. Robb
(NYC/2060s police procedural/romantic suspense)

Fev 29, 2020, 9:52am

>1 fredbacon: Thank you for the recommendation, Fred. I love dystopian writing and have added the book to my wishlist.

>2 BookConcierge: When I was a kid, we took lots of multi-week journeys with the car and camper, and to pass the time I read Zane Grey novels to my father, the driver. I definitely remember Riders of the Purple Sage, and my mother's insistence that it was not suitable for an eight-year old. Eventually it "got left behind at the last campsite".

Editado: Fev 29, 2020, 9:57am

I'm off work due to powerful mental health issues, which has given me the time to heal, and to read. In the past week I've read The Alice Network, which was excellent; The Nightingale, which was very good, and Get A Life, Chloe Brown, which was neither excellent nor very good.

I'm now reading two books: Elton John's memoir, Me, which is wildly entertaining, and The Poison Garden by Alex Marwood, which is creepy and atmospheric in sort of a Ruth Rendell manner.

Fev 29, 2020, 10:12am

I'm about 40 pages into The Town, the second book in William Faulkner's "Snopes" trilogy. So far it's not quite as good as the first of the three, The Hamlet, but it's still early stages. Looking forward to getting deeper in.

Fev 29, 2020, 11:39am

Finished The Plastic Magician for Fantasy February over in the 75ers. Fluff, but silly and enjoyable enough for my onlynow returning to normal self.

Fev 29, 2020, 12:53pm

I finished listening to the novella, Weather by Jenny Offill.

Next up for listening is Run Me To Earth by Paul Yoon.

Fev 29, 2020, 1:03pm

I'm reading Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng at last! My sister just read it and wants to talk about it with me.

Fev 29, 2020, 1:23pm

>5 ahef1963: I really enjoyed Elton's bio.

Fev 29, 2020, 4:33pm

Fev 29, 2020, 5:35pm

Almost finished with Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout. Enjoying it as I did Olive Kitteridge. I love her grumpy, forthright and stoic personality.

Editado: Fev 29, 2020, 6:09pm

Just read the first 2 sentences of Claire of the sea light by Edwidge Danticat. Also reading Dancing with bees: a journey back to nature by Brigit Strawbridge Howard. I'm bee crazy and am reading everything I can get my hands on about these threatened pollinators. I'm slowly working my way through Fibershed: growing a movement of farmers, fashion activists, and makers for a new textile economy by Rebecca Burgess; it's due back to the PL in 10 days, so I better get on it as it is also the last renewal.

Editado: Fev 29, 2020, 6:32pm

>5 ahef1963: The Poison Garden by Alex Marwood, which is creepy and atmospheric in sort of a Ruth Rendell manner.

Ok thats about as good of a recommendation you can give! Must read this!

BTW hope you are feeling better soon.

Fev 29, 2020, 6:34pm

>13 brickhorse: Oh, I loved Claire of the Sea Light!

I’m very much enjoying an Agatha Christie stand-alone, Crooked House.

Editado: Fev 29, 2020, 6:42pm

About to finish The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, which really picked up for me the second half of the book. She is a brilliant writer and storyteller. Who could have ever known that she would write a sequel to a book she wrote in the 80s? I heard that this will also be turned into its own tv series.

Just started The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern, who creates fantastical mythical universes in print and who I've been waiting for another book from since she published The Night Circus.

Fev 29, 2020, 7:33pm

Speaking of Edwidge Danticat...she won the Story Prize for a second time. Everything Inside was good enough to get her a second $20,000 bank-fattener...note she got the same amount in 2005 for The Dew Breaker, so effectively she won a $26,000 prize then...and an historic-first second award.

Fev 29, 2020, 10:36pm

Don Quixote – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
Audible audio performed by George Guidall

Who hasn’t heard of Don Quixote fighting windmills, or wearing a barber’s basin as a helmet? Who doesn’t know about his faithful squire, Sancho Panza? Or the beautiful Dulcinea, for whom the Knight is ready to lay down his life?

I’d read snippets from this work over the years but never experienced the whole thing. I’m sorry I waited so long to do so. It is a marvelous piece of fiction and is widely acknowledged as the first modern-day novel.

Cervantes gives us a main character who has lofty ideals and a noble purpose, but who is fatally flawed (possibly insane). His attempts to replicate the feats of chivalry he has long read about and admired are met with scorn and ridicule, yet he remains faithful to his ideal. Certain that he will save the imprisoned Dulcinea and win her heart and everlasting gratitude.

Sancho is the faithful servant, commenting frequently in pithy sayings and proverbs, trying, in vain to steer his master away from disaster, but gamely following and taking his punishment. My favorite section is toward the end when Sancho is “appointed governor” and asked to hand out judgment on a variety of disputes. His solutions are surprisingly wise, despite his convoluted explanations.

This edition is translated by Edith Grossman, and was published in 2003. While I have not read other translations, nor the original Spanish, I thought it flowed smoothly and gave me a sense of Cervantes’ style.

The audiobook of this translation is performed by George Guidall, and he does a fantastic job of it. I was fully engaged and recalled those long-ago days when my grandparents, aunts or uncles would tell stories on the porch on summer evenings, all us children listening in rapt attention. I particularly liked the voices he used for both Don Quixote and for Sancho Panza.

Mar 1, 2020, 12:16pm

>18 BookConcierge: I count Don Quixote as one of the four or five funniest books I've ever read. My wife lost patience with it about halfway through. Usually our reading tastes align quite closely, so waddaya gonna do? I might give DQ a reread one of these days.

Mar 1, 2020, 2:10pm

Smashwords is having a big blowout sale until 7 March. I, um, might have added some books to my Kindle...

Mar 1, 2020, 2:42pm

I'm making more progress with Pilgrimage 4, 30 pages short of finishing Clear Horizon, the third novel in the book and more than halfway done - I think I can finally put to bed the 2000+ pages of Pilgrimage this month!

And I'm alternating with Winter's Heart, the ninth book in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series.

Mar 1, 2020, 7:53pm

Reading Bring Up The Bodies for the 2020 group read challenge. After reading and putting down about four books this last week, disatisfied, I started this one and know its the one I want!

Also reading Sapiens and haven't decided if I like it. Most of what Ive read sounds like what I learned in Anthro 101, Sociology 101 and other classes and books. And I think he is rather full of himself. But Ill read more in cases I am missing something

Editado: Mar 2, 2020, 7:27am

Enjoying this OverDrive audiobook ~

Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All

(YA novel/several authors and narrators)


The LT Audiobook group would welcome your input ~

Mar 2, 2020, 7:46am

I finished the excellent book The Journey Home by Olaf Olafsson. It was masterful telling of a woman's complicated life smoothly shifting from present to past delivering surprises throughout.

Mar 2, 2020, 4:26pm

I finished Agatha Christie’s Crooked House. I only started reading her recently and it’s easy to see why she’s been so popular for so long.

Now I’m thoroughly involved in When All is Said, a debut novel by Anne Griffin. It’s really good.

Mar 2, 2020, 6:48pm

Last night, I picked up a copy of Erik Larson's new book, The Splendid and the Vile. (That's an awful name, btw.) It's well covered ground, but Larson does a good job of keeping it lively and interesting. I'm less than a hundred pages in, but it's difficult to put down.

This morning I told a friend about the book. I mentioned that I first heard about the book yesterday afternoon, then I went to the bookstore at 5pm and bought it. Her response was to smile and say, "Great impulse control, Fred." I reminded her that I waited two or three hours before buying the book. Plus, I left the store with just the one book I went there to purchase. *I* think that I deserve a cookie. :-)

Mar 2, 2020, 7:30pm

Fred you deserve cookies and more books😁

Editado: Mar 2, 2020, 7:35pm

Mar 2, 2020, 8:23pm

I’m in the middle of Moon Palace by Paul Auster. I’m a huge fan of this talented author, but this one hasn’t grabbed me so far.

Mar 2, 2020, 8:56pm

Jade Dragon Mountain – Elsa Hart
Book on CD narrated by David Shih

This historical mystery is set in the town of Dayan, on the Chinese / Tibetan border, in 1708. The main character is Li Due, former Imperial Librarian, now in exile and on his way out of the country. When he arrives at Dayan, where his cousin is the magistrate, he is surprised by the bustle of activity. He was unaware that people are flocking to the town for a special visit by the Emperor who has promised to create an eclipse of the sun.

I loved the history in this book. I had been previously unaware of the role of the Jesuits; as astronomers and scientists they gained the trust of the “pagan” lords and subsequently began to convert them to Christianity. But politics, religion and commerce did not always have the same interests and conflicts led to untimely deaths.

I felt that I was a real sense of the time and place from Hart’s descriptions and plot. Li Du is a marvelous detective, and also a skilled politician. He knows when to keep his own counsel and when to divulge key bits of information. There is more than one mystery involved here and more than one villain.

I was completely engaged and interested from beginning to end and did NOT guess the perpetrator(s) before they were revealed.

David Shih did a marvelous job narrating the audiobook. He set a good pace and, for the most part, I was able to tell who was speaking. I did think his accent for the Englishman Nicholas Gray was abysmal, however. Still, it was his characterization of Li Due that carried the story for me.

Mar 2, 2020, 9:33pm

I just finished Connie Willis' To Say Nothing of the Dog, which was a great romp -- but don't try to unravel the details. Time travel makes my eyeballs rotate in opposite directions.

I'm just dipping my toe into The World According to Fannie Davis, for our F2F group read. Not far enough into it to have much of an opinion.

Mar 3, 2020, 2:38pm

>26 fredbacon: I really like Larson and looking forward to reading that.

Mar 3, 2020, 3:29pm

Decisions, decisions. I just received The Prince of Frogtown in a swap, and Rick Bragg has a double-A rating with me. Also received the latest ebook for review, The Sleeper Lies, which looks really good.

But ... I'm supposed to be reading The World According to Fannie Davis for my F2F meeting on the 10th, and I'm having trouble getting into it.

WWLTD? Read the club book, even though I'm lukewarm about it? Review the new ebook? Or dive into Rick Bragg?

Mar 3, 2020, 3:34pm

Yesterday I finished The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn. I adored it. It is original, too - dystopian time travel historical fiction - and so well done. 5/5 stars from me.

Now I'm reading two books. For Christmas I gave my bird-loving brother The Thing With Feathers by Noah Strycker. He thought it excellent and loaned it to me. Do you know about Noah Strycker? He is the man who, in one year (2015) travelled to 40 countries and saw 6,084 species of birds, out of a possible 10,500. He's a very nice Oregonian who writes extremely well and is amusing and knowledgeable.

I'm also reading an engaging crime novel called The Skeleton Road by Val McDermid. This is the second of her books that I've read, and it is pleasant reading.

Mar 3, 2020, 4:35pm

>34 ahef1963: some of us here know a certain birder who was a frequent reader on other sites. So yes I knew of him (Miss PC, wish he'd come around some time)

Editado: Mar 5, 2020, 3:53pm

In the Great Green Room: The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown
Amy Gary
4/5 stars
This is the very interesting biography of the author Margaret Wise Brown. Brown’s life was a whirlwind between writing books, travel and her multiple relationships with men and women. Unfortunately, at the age of 42 she died from a blood clot after having surgery but she has left behind her works which still are being published and loved by readers today.

Editado: Mar 4, 2020, 5:26pm

The Art of Dying by Ambrose Parry
A historical mystery set in 19th century Edinburgh. In this sequel to The Way of All Flesh, Dr. Will Raven and Sarah Banks reunite to clear the eminent Dr. James Simpson's name. Also there are a number of mysterious patient deaths in the city. The author is a joint pseudonym of husband and wife authors Chris Brookmyre and Dr. Marisa Haetzman. As explained in the historical note, they based their new novel on an actual incident in Dr. Simpson's life.
A third novel is scheduled to be published in 2021.

I've been to Edinburgh twice so it was fun to "revisit" the city. The reproduction of Edinburgh's 1849 city map is a great visual so I could track where the two lead characters were going on their investigation.

Mar 5, 2020, 8:23am

Enjoying this OverDrive audiobook ~

Mademoiselle Chanel: A Novel by C. W. Gortner

(1895-1954/fictionalized biography of Coco Chanel)

Mar 5, 2020, 3:46pm

I finished Joseph O'Neill's Blood-Dark Track -- a wonderful book. Now I'm reading Jenny Offill's Weather.

Editado: Mar 5, 2020, 6:55pm

Finished Fire & Blood by George R. R. Martin. Just as dull as any history that spouts facts. No wonder it took me three months to finish it.

Finished Entwined with You by Sylvia Day and added the next book in the series, Captivated by You, to my rotation.

Also added The Last Smile in Sunder City by Luke Arnold to my rotation.

Editado: Mar 5, 2020, 10:26pm

nvm double post

Mar 5, 2020, 7:29pm

>40 seitherin: esp when the facts are from a fantasy series....

Editado: Mar 5, 2020, 7:36pm

plan to start Epic Continent: Adventures in the Great Stories of Europe tomorrow.
This book hits so many of my likes: history, ancient tales, travel, antropology....from the review "He maps the movement of tribes through migrations and the effects of the pressures of change in society. I enjoy his style of intertwining the tales with how the period folk embraced the stories and how modern people use continue to tell stories like these ,and make their own. "

One wonders what epic tale about our life will last over centurie....

Mar 5, 2020, 9:31pm

>39 mollygrace: Blood-Dark Track is one of the best memoirs I've ever read. Just fascinating material.

Mar 5, 2020, 9:53pm

>44 rocketjk: I like what O'Neill wrote in the prologue to the 2010 paperback edition: "I was in New York City on September 11th, 2001. That day and its consequences made up an ingredient of the book I wrote after Blood-Dark Track, a work of fiction titled Netherland and identified by some as a '9/11 novel' . . . But . . . if I have written a '9/11' book, that book would, in my mind, be Blood-Dark Track."

Mar 5, 2020, 10:51pm

>45 mollygrace: I've read Netherland, too. It's a good book, fun to read, but nowhere near as powerful as Blood-Dark Track. Also, I don't see that Netherland is a "9-11 book," though, or Blood-Dark Track, for that matter.

Mar 6, 2020, 4:03am

I have just finished reading the novel THE INVISIBLE MAN by author H.G. WELLS.


Mar 6, 2020, 7:35am

I finished Red Lightning by Laura Pritchett. I enjoyed it but didn't like it as much as The Blue Hour. A good story but many of the conversations about life and feelings did not seem realistic to me.

Editado: Mar 6, 2020, 12:00pm

The Long Walk: The True Story of a Trek to Freedom
Sławomir Rawicz
3.5/5 stars
During WWII, Polish solider Slavomir Rawicz is captured by the Russians and sent to a labor camp in Siberia. Conditions are horrible and Rawicz conspires with six other prisoners to escape to British India. The trek is a long one and several die on the way but when things go bad, they encounter people along the way who help them out even though their lives are also troubled. There have been sources that say that the book is a falsehood but I thought it was a very interesting read. This was also made into a film but unfortunately I have not been able to find a copy of it yet.

Mar 7, 2020, 6:46am

The new thread is up over here.