What are you reading the week of April 11, 2020?

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What are you reading the week of April 11, 2020?

Abr 11, 2020, 6:52am

I'm just about finished with William Faulkner's The Hamlet. I'm glad that I've finally picked this book up after having owned it all these years. It's been a lot of fun sitting around with the men folk of Yoknapatawpha county swapping stories. I'm surprised that Faulkner was able to publish fair bits of it, as it touches on more than a few taboo subjects with tragicomic brilliance.

Next up is The Town, the continuing saga of the Snopes family.

Abr 11, 2020, 9:13am

Still whittling away at The Mirror & the Light by Hilary Mantel and also reading Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor as an e-book.

Abr 11, 2020, 12:29pm

>1 fredbacon: I hope you enjoy the whole trilogy as much as I did. I read that Faulkner originally conceived The Hamlet as a standalone novel but then decided to revisit the characters with a couple of more books.

I've just finished Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. It didn't take much more than a day, actually. Soon I'll be starting Prague Fatale, the 7th book in Philip Kerr's excellent "Bernie Gunther" noir series. Also, I've added Isaac Singer's short story collection The Death of Methuselah to my "between book" reading stack.

On a side note, I've decided to suspend listing the blow-by-blow accounts of my "between book" reading that I've been posting here. Seemed like it must be getting repetitive for you all.

Cheers, all!

Abr 11, 2020, 12:35pm

I'm reading my Early Reviewer The Sisters Grimm by Menna van Praag. I'm a little over halfway through and it hasn't dazzled me so far, but I'm hoping it will pay off in the end.

Abr 11, 2020, 12:58pm

The World That We Knew
Alice Hoffman
4/5 stars
Set during WWII in France, Hanni, a mother knows she has to send her daughter Lea away before she is sent to a concentration camp. She pleas with her rabbi to help but he can’t. Overhearing the conversation, the rabbi’s daughter Ettie suggests bringing forth a golem that would protect her daughter. Ava is the created creature who will look over Lea and will travel with her to a school where they help to save their Jewish students and hopefully will protect her during the occupation. I enjoy Hoffman and she spins an interesting mystical tale that imbues a tragic part of history.

Abr 11, 2020, 4:12pm

Still without Kindle so no significant reading except on my "read before bed" book: Godsgrave.

Abr 11, 2020, 7:58pm

Conscious Dreaming by Robert Moss
Me & Mr. Cigar by Gibby Haynes (YAL)

Abr 11, 2020, 8:13pm

I just started The Third Hotel, which is this month's book club selection. It is ... odd.

I'm not overly fond of unreliable-narrator books to begin with, and the narrator of this one definitely isn't very tightly wrapped. Van den Berg, however, does do an amazing job of creating this fever-dream ambiance in which the reader knows unreal things are happening, but can't quite put their finger on where reality diverges from obsession.

Editado: Abr 18, 2020, 8:55am

Starting this OverDrive audiobook ~

All-American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney (4 stars)

(YA fiction/a teenage girl decides to embrace her religion/interesting intro to the Muslim religion)

Abr 11, 2020, 10:57pm

A True Cowboy Christmas – Caitlin Crews

Gray Everett buries his father and immediately gets into an argument with his two younger brothers. They’ve both left the family ranch years ago while Gray has stayed and worked the land, securing the property for future generations of Everetts. But their cantankerous – okay, just plain mean and ornery – father left the property to the three boys, and Gray’s brothers want to sell to a big real estate developer and take the cash. So, Gray decides he needs a wife who will help him run the ranch, raise his daughter from his first marriage, and perhaps produce a few more kids to share the load in the future. And he asks his nearest neighbor, Abby, a “salt of the earth” kind of woman (who has secretly loved Gray since she was in second grade).

I was surprised by how entertaining I found this, despite some totally ridiculous dialogue. (Does anyone actually talk about “consummation” when planning their wedding?) The sex scenes were not too over the top, if setting unrealistic expectations for first-time virgin sex. But did everyone have to have a mother from hell? Gray’s mom, Becca’s mom and Abby’s mom were all bitter harridans.

I thought the miscommunication between Abby and Gray was belabored. Would have liked to see a more gradual coming-to-agreement, meeting-of-the-minds story arc rather than the abrupt “Come to Jesus (i.e. Christmas)” turnaround.

But hey, it’s a cowboy Christmas romance, so it’s okay. And I did like looking at that cover ….

Abr 12, 2020, 7:42am

>3 rocketjk: I am enjoying the books. They kind of hit close to home for me though. My family history reads like a Faulkner novel. :-D From my great Grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Bacon, who was a Confederate cavalryman, down to my father's generation. My dad remembered his grandfather has having a long white beard. Whenever he was working on something he would tuck the end of his beard down into his pants to keep it out of his way. His maternal grandmother would give him a quarter (or perhaps it was a nickel) and ask him to run down to the general store and buy her a wad of chewing tobacco...but don't tell your mother. :-D

My mother's side of the family was even more colorful.

I find myself retelling my parent's stories in Faulkner's voice when I'm reading these books.

Abr 12, 2020, 12:24pm

>4 PaperbackPirate: I had to stop reading it as I got so tired of the language. I may pick it up again but not sure.

Abr 12, 2020, 12:34pm

>11 fredbacon: Wow. Kind of like reading Philip Roth for me.

Sounds like maybe you have a family memoir writing project on your to-do list. :)

Abr 12, 2020, 1:07pm

>3 rocketjk: FYI, I always enjoyed seeing what you were reading between books...

I finished Dead and Gone, and very fun and quick read, the ninth in the Southern Vampire Mysteries, yesterday. Continuing with The Siege which is surprisingly good (I saw a comment somewhere on LT from someone who had read something else by Kadare and they mentioned it was difficult to read/follow). I just started In Cold Blood this morning, which is also easier to read than I expected.

Abr 12, 2020, 1:32pm

Finished the gray man by Mark Greaney. Non-stop action/adventure. Many bad guys die along the way.
Highly unlikely but entertaining.
I'll definitely read the next one in the series.

Just started Murder by Parnell Hall, in the Stanley Hastings series.

Abr 12, 2020, 5:33pm

News Of the World – Paulette Jiles
Book on CD performed by Grover Gardner

Captain Jefferson Kidd is a 70-year-old widower who travels the small towns of Post-Civil-War Texas, reading the news to a paying audience hungry for information from foreign lands. In Wichita Falls, he’s approached by a man who has helped rescue a young girl – Johanna Leonberger – from the Kiowa tribe that has held her captive for some years. Kidd is asked to take Johanna with him, and return her to her relatives in the San Antonio area. Reluctantly, he agrees, though he knows the 400-mile journey will be fraught with peril.

Oh, I loved this tale, and the way Jiles portrayed these two central characters. Kidd is a principled man, a veteran of war, who may be elderly but still has his wits about him. Johanna is a wild child, who has forgotten English (and German), and speaks in the tonal language of her adopted tribe. She refuses to wear shoes, keeps trying to run away, is fearful and obstinate. But as they travel through this wild country, they come to trust one another. Kidd teaches her some English, and she carefully calls him “Kep-Dun” and comes to understand – and believe – him when he assures her that things are “all right.”

The decisions they must make are sometimes heart-breaking. The ways they support one another when facing various dangers and come to simply enjoy one another when things are going smoothly, paint a picture of love. There are some scenes that are quite comical, many that are tender, and quite a few that had me on the edge of my seat.

I particularly enjoyed the landscape of their journey. I’ve traveled many of these areas in my many trips to/from Texas to visit family. Oh, how I long to see the bluebonnets and Indian paintbrush that color the hills come spring each year! This is the second book by Jiles that I’ve read, and I think I need to read more.

Grover Gardner did a marvelous job performing the audio. His somewhat gravelly voice was perfect for Captain Kidd, and he did a passable job of voicing Johanna as well.

Abr 12, 2020, 6:57pm

Finished Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff and started the last book in the trilogy, Darkdawn. I am really enjoying these books.

And my new Kindle arrived today so I'll be able to start rotating through the other three books again. Yay!!

Abr 12, 2020, 8:45pm

>3 rocketjk: I have no problem with your inbetween lists - they usually are books I knew nothing about and am always looking for a good read So no worries here :)

Abr 12, 2020, 8:49pm

>16 BookConcierge: loved this book! and knowing that Tom Hanks plays Kidd in the upcoming movie just adds to my enjoyment! (she has a new book out btw, Simon the Fiddler which looks intriguing)

Abr 12, 2020, 8:58pm

In today's NYT Book Review, Ann Patchett,one of my fav authors, reviews the author Kate DiCamillo, who writes for children. Like her, I never heard of the author, but based on the review of her and her book The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane I know I must read this,even if the main character is a talking toy rabbit (i don't tend to like books with talking animals tho I make exceptions for Animal Farm, and Chronicles of Narnia) Planning to push aside my TBR shelf and once I get this plan to read it right away. Patchett has never steered me wrong....

Abr 13, 2020, 1:47pm

Finished The Third Hotel. Ugh. Ptui.

Upthread, I gave Van den Berg props for creating a "fever-dream ambiance", but 200+ pages of it was sort of over the top. Other reviewers have given it four and five stars and call it "a study of grief". I gave it one and would not have finished it had it not been a group read.

Guess I really, really like to have answers to the questions raised by authors in fictional works.

Abr 13, 2020, 5:19pm

I finished Louise Erdrich's novel,The Night Watchman. What a wonderful book. What a tribute to her grandfather's life and work. I shall come back to this one again and again.

Next up: Donna Leon's Trace Elements

Abr 13, 2020, 5:19pm

Am still exhausted from the coronavirus although the symptoms have been gone for 12 days. I think I'm in for a long recovery. Even simple tasks like washing the dishes and making the bed are deeply fatiguing. Am tucked up on the sofa most days, with a cat curled up next to me, and a crime novel or a thriller for company.

Read Val McDermid's excellent Out of Bounds, which was the epitome of the intelligent crime novel. She is such a good writer, and introduces social and political issues into her novels with such ease, never making it seem forced.

I also read The Gilded Cage, which is Camilla Läckberg's new novel, which was not thrilling, but okay.

Next up is The Eye in the Door, the second part of Pat Barker's Regeneration trilogy.

Abr 13, 2020, 6:28pm

>19 cindydavid4: ... Oooh, Tom Hanks as "Kep-Dun" I can hardly wait.

Abr 13, 2020, 6:29pm

>20 cindydavid4: .... and I just finished reading DiCamillo's Because of Winn-Dixie (marvelously performed on audio by Cherry Jones)

Abr 13, 2020, 10:51pm

I’m reading the following:
Hidden Valley Road;
The Bright Side of Going Dark;
Long Bright River; and
The Rxtraordinary Life of Sam Hell

Editado: Abr 14, 2020, 2:08am

Just finished reading the absolutely phenomenal Apeirogon by Colum McCann.

Next up for reading is The Plum In The Golden Vase, Volume 1 by Lanling Xiaoxiao Sheng

Abr 14, 2020, 8:38am

I've finished Akata Warrior and started an ARC of Piranesi by Susanna Clarke - intriguing, and I'm already almost halfway through! Also still plugging away at The Mirror and the Light which is good, but long.

Abr 14, 2020, 4:15pm

Giovanni’s Room – James Baldwin
Digital audiobook performed by Dan Butler

A classic of gay literature explores the coming of age of a young American living in Paris in the 1950s. Torn between his fiancé and the bartender he meets and comes to love, David struggles to find a way to be true to himself.

I don’t know how I came across this little gem of a novel. But I’m so glad I’ve read it. Baldwin’s writing is evocative and atmospheric. His characters are well drawn and reveal their strengths and weaknesses through their thoughts and actions. I did think the dialogue was a little stilted, especially between Hella and David, but then I suppose it would be, as these characters (particularly David) are trained to be circumspect about such things. And David has spent so much of his young life hiding the truth from others, and, more importantly, from himself.

The tragedy that unfolds as a result of all this duplicity is perhaps inevitable, but still breaks my heart. I feel for all these characters as their dreams and aspirations are slowly destroyed. I think Hella will find her way; her eyes have been opened and she’ll be more cautious next time, but she’ll find love again. But David? I worry for David. I wonder what is next for him as the novel closes, and I can’t seem to imagine a happy ending. But perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps he’s learned something valuable about being honest with himself and others. Perhaps he’ll get another chance to love honestly and find happiness. In today’s environment, certainly that could happen. In the 1950s?

Dan Butler does a superb job of reading the audiobook. He sets a good pace and gave a nuanced and empathetic performance.

Abr 15, 2020, 5:31am

The only good thing about being stuck in the house hiding from the virus is that I have done more reading than usual. I have just finished Senator Mike Lee's Written out of History about about American heroes forgotten by history. I am now reading Ross Poldark by Winston Graham about a late 18th century low level British aristocrat. There was a PBS series based on the novel. I am enjoying myself

Abr 15, 2020, 7:55am

Let It Snow – Nancy Thayer

From the book jacket: A Nantucket shopkeeper discovers that Christmas is the perfect occasion to make unexpected friendships … to warm the coldest of hearts … and maybe even find love.

My reactions:
Thayer writes a lovely, quick romance set against a charming backdrop of Christmas in Nantucket. The characters are mostly straight out of central casting: cute-as-a-button, precocious kid; gruff, miserly millionaire; salt-of-the-earth friends who rally round; handsome, scion of wealthy family who just wants to love and be loved for himself; scrappy small business owner with a heart of gold.

But I’m not complaining. I read these books because they are comfort food. I know exactly what I’m in for and I’m happy to get it.

Abr 15, 2020, 2:24pm

I finished up Prague Fatale by Philip Kerr. This is the eighth book in Kerr's addictive "Berlin Noir," World War 2-era detective series featuring Bernie Gunther. It is 1941 (a flashback in terms of the series), and Gunther has been called by Reinhard Heydrich, the real life "Butcher of Prague," to solve a murder that's taken place in Heydrich's headquarters during a gathering of top Nazi officials. While not quite up to the top standards of the series, this is still a very entertaining entry, full of fascinating--if horrifying--history and historical conjecture. My review on my 50-Book Challenge thread is a bit more in-depth, for anyone interested.

Next up for me will be Stone Junction: An Alchemical Potboiler by Jim Dodge. Evidently, this is a cult favorite that has escaped my attention until now.

Editado: Abr 16, 2020, 2:29am

Finished listening to the very good Macbeth by Jo Nesbo.

Next up for listening is Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis.

Abr 16, 2020, 10:58am

I finished A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, a harrowing story of people dealing with the war, terror, and the collapse of civilization. A few bright spots are swamped by a sea of miseries. The character studies are very well done. I seem to be slowing down with my reading under lock-down, or maybe the subject was harder to take in large doses under our present conditions.

Abr 16, 2020, 12:05pm

Well, I had to give up on Stone Junction about 70 pages in. It was too much like a Tom Robbins book. Not quite as bad,* but close enough. Too many groovy, quirky characters. Nobody who seemed like a real person. I don't mind out-sized characters and such, but at this stage of the game I want characters to act as if they were anchored to reality in some shape or form, even if they're in spaceships or Middle Earth or a posse chasing after them dern rustlers. If the book were 300 pages, I probably would have stuck with it, but at 513 pages, it was too much of a time commitment for something I was really enjoying. Too bad. If I'd have read this when I was about 25 (or ten years before it was first published in 1990), I probably would have liked it.

Well, I've not quite decided to go for some gritty realism instead, as I've decided to have some real fun and pick up my 1946 (second printing) Ballantine Books pulp edition of Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini. I think I read this when I was in junior high.

* No offense meant to Tom Robbins fans or anyone who enjoyed Stone Junction. Personal preference only. No facts were harmed in the writing of this post.

Editado: Abr 16, 2020, 12:08pm

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict – Laurie Viera Rigler
Digital audiobook narrated by Orlagh Cassidy.

From the book jacket After nursing a broken engagement with Jane Austen novels and Absolut, Courtney Stone wakes up and find herself not in her Los Angeles bedroom, or even in her own body, but inside the bedchamber of a woman in Regency England. Who but an Austen addict like herself could concoct such a fantasy? Not only is Courtney stuck in another woman’s life, she is forced to pretend she actually is that woman, and despite knowing nothing about her, she manages to fool even the most astute observer.

My reactions
I should have read the book jacket and put the book aside. This was just ridiculous on so many levels, and Courtney was a total idiot whom I wanted to slap on about every other page.

Okay, at least Rigler disabused fans of the Regency era of some of their more romantic notions with some in-your-face reality (outdoor privy, chamber pots, body odor, greasy hair, etc). The plot line was mildly entertaining, and played with time travel, identity and memory. The reader is asked to believe that Courtney has really become Jane Mansfield and that NO ONE in her circle realizes she is really a different person in Jane’s body.

Oh well, it was a fast read (or listen).

Orlagh Cassidy does a great job despite the poor material. I’ve listened to several of her narrations and come to appreciate her gift for narration. She really brings the characters to life.

Editado: Abr 16, 2020, 4:00pm

Been awhile since I've posted my current read!

Rereading Mary Tudor: England's First Queen by Anna Whitelock
This biography originally was published in the UK as Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen. I'm reading the US edition in paperback published by Penguin.

Abr 17, 2020, 12:59pm

>12 mnleona: It was a bust for me. I recommend not picking it back up.

>37 princessgarnet: Glad you came back!

Abr 17, 2020, 3:02pm

Where the Wild Things Bite
Molly Harper
3.5/5 stars
Due to the library being closed, my choices of books are limited. I had picked this book up off the free shelf at the library before it closed and it did meet the criteria of my book challenge. While this book will never will win a Pulitzer, I was thoroughly entertained about this story of a rare book expert, Anna who was to deliver a book to her client knowing that this book on the undead was highly prized by many people. While she took precautions on her plane trip she did not realize that a vampire, Finn Palmeroy was following her to try and steal the book. She also did not realize the pilot was also was trying to steal it until he crashed the plane. Finn and Anna survive the plane crash, only to be stuck in the middle of nowhere and they have to rely on each other when they soon realize others are after them.

Abr 17, 2020, 6:06pm

Finished The Siege by Ismail Kadare which was a very good historical fiction novel about a Turkish siege of an Albanian citadel. Told from many different points of view (mainly the Turks), I thought it was really well done.

Continuing with In Cold Blood which is also really good, and just started The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

Abr 17, 2020, 8:31pm

I finished Donna Leon's Trace Elements. Now I'm reading Monique Truong's The Sweetest Fruits.

Abr 18, 2020, 2:30am

The new thread is up over here.