What are you reading the week of May 2, 2020?

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What are you reading the week of May 2, 2020?

Maio 2, 2020, 12:54am

I'm now a little more than half way through The Mansion.

Editado: Maio 7, 2020, 6:53am

Starting this OverDrive audiobook ~

Camino Winds by John Grisham (pulled plug early on)
(Camino Island, book 2/a murder in the midst of a hurricane)

and this OverDrive Kindle eBook ~

Why Did I Come into This Room?: A Candid Conversation about Aging by Joan Lunden
(amusing insights/JL was a host on 'Good Morning America' for two decades)

Maio 2, 2020, 10:37am

I'm about 60% through A House Divided, a novel about the Civil Rights movement in New Orleans by Fredrick Barton.

Maio 2, 2020, 1:19pm

The Gift of Rain – Tan Twan Eng

Historical fiction about the Pacific theater during World War II. Fifteen-year-old Patrick Hutton is the youngest child of a long-established British family with major industrial holdings in Malaya. His mother, however, was his father’s second wife, and Chinese; and he is shunned by both the Chinese community (for his British background and lifestyle), and by British society (for his Asian heritage). Lonely and adrift, he finds a friend in the Japanese diplomat who rents one of his family’s properties. Endo teaches Patrick the skills of akaido, and Patrick happily shares his love of his island home with this visitor. What he doesn’t realize until it is too late is that Endo is actually a Japanese spy, and that Patrick has unwittingly become complicit in helping the Japanese take over Penang and Malaya.

This is a marvelous book on so many levels. First, the way in which these characters are drawn. They are complex and nuanced, and Eng manages to have the reader empathize with all sides of the story. Secondly, I applaud Eng for choosing a WW2 story that has had little exploration in fiction. I’ve read only two other books that touched on what happened in Malaya – The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Flanagan, and Shute’s A Town Like Alice - and both mostly mentioned the camps. This book really explained how the Japanese were able to take over the peninsula with little or no resistance from the British.

Then there is the atmospheric nature of the book. I’ve been to Penang, and to Kuala Lumpur (the latter twice), but even if I had not experienced these locations Eng’s descriptions would easily have transported me there. I could feel the humidity, smell the cooking, relish in the feel of a sea breeze, hear the soft patter of a shower, the steady drumming of a monsoon, or the cacophony of a marketplace. And Eng’s prose is at times poetic, making me want to slow down and relish his use of language. And there were scenes where I was on the edge of my seat.

This is Eng’s debut novel. I definitely will read more by him.

Maio 2, 2020, 1:32pm

I'm reading Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness. Hopefully a little time travel will take me away...

Maio 2, 2020, 1:48pm

The Widow
Fiona Barton
4/5 stars
Glen and Jean are a childless couple living a solitary life but Glen has a terrible secret and Jean knows about it but stays silent. However, when a child goes missing, everything in their lives blows up. This is an interesting tale of secrets and the consequences it has on this couple. This has gotten mixed reviews but I really enjoyed the twists and turns of this tale.

Maio 2, 2020, 2:28pm

Still reading Girl Woman Other and when I finish will start The Man and the Donkeypart 1

Maio 2, 2020, 3:38pm

Maio 2, 2020, 3:59pm

I have just finished reading the novel The Shining by author Stephen King.


Editado: Maio 2, 2020, 5:23pm

Oops...just finished listening to The Girls In The Garden. Excellent suspense novel with some thought provoking twists.

Next up for listening is a collection of short stories, How To Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa.

Maio 2, 2020, 8:25pm

I'm enjoying Anne Tyler's latest, Redhead by the Side of the Road.

Maio 2, 2020, 8:36pm

I just finished West of the Revolution: An Uncommon History of 1776 by Claudio Saunt.

I liked it...Shows how big this country has always been.

Maio 2, 2020, 8:38pm

Reading Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay and Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff. Enjoying both.

Maio 2, 2020, 10:30pm

Nine books read in April, with Diane Glancy's Stone Heart being the standout, and Laura van den Berg's The Third Hotel being the absolute worst.

Interestingly enough (if you'll allow a digression), I watched the movie "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" and enjoyed it. I absolutely could not get through the book, which is very "meta" -- a neologism for "confused and incomprehensible". Can't remember how many times during this movie, I said to myself "Oh, THAT'S what the author was talking about!"

Just finished Liane Moriarty's Three Wishes. Not her best work, but an okay read.

Next up is Kristin Hannah's On Mystic Lake, which was pressed upon me by a friend. I will consider it a Mercy Read, as Hannah is usually too soapy for me.

Maio 3, 2020, 2:40am

I've been having difficulty concentrating on books for a good while now, so I thought I'd try an audio book, and I'm pleased that I did. I listened to American Predator by Maureen Callahan, the true story of serial murderer Israel Keyes, which was excellent if grisly. I recommend it carefully: I've had nightmares and very little appetite over the days that I've been listening to it, compounded by the fact that I Googled a photograph referred to in the book, which was a terrible mistake - I just can't unsee it. It was carefully researched and well-told (but IMO badly narrated).

I'm going to listen to a comedic audio book next - David Mitchell's memoir Back Story. This David Mitchell is not the author of Cloud Atlas but an extremely funny and intelligent British comic of whom I am deeply fond. I definitely need the break from true crime.

Maio 3, 2020, 2:42am

I am currently reading Rebel Angels by Libba Bray

Maio 3, 2020, 1:46pm

Started Scorsese by Ebert and To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. I took these off my son's shelf.

Maio 3, 2020, 2:06pm

I just began The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald. So far it strikes me mostly as very witty.

Maio 3, 2020, 4:09pm

I finished Monique Truong's The Sweetest Fruits, a biographical novel about writer Lafcadio Hearn
I'm now reading Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Phillips.

Maio 3, 2020, 5:38pm

I’ve started reading The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan. I’ve had a copy of that book sitting on my shelf for almost 20 years, so I figured it was probably about time!

Editado: Maio 4, 2020, 2:39am

Finished listening to the very good short story collection, How To Pronounce Knife.

Next up for listening is The End Of October by Lawrence Wright.

Maio 4, 2020, 3:17pm

Finished Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff, the last book in the Nevernight Chronicle. Really enjoyed it. Loved the whole trilogy. There wasn't a bad book in the bunch.

Added The Names of the Dead by Kevin Wignall to my rotation.

Maio 4, 2020, 4:31pm

I finished A House Divided by Fredrick Barton, a family drama set amidst the Civil Rights movement in 1960s New Orleans. I've now started a reread of Hardwired, the first book of a science fiction series of the same name by Walter Jon Williams. I first read this book several years ago and enjoyed it a lot. I meant to get back to the series relatively quickly, but it took me so long to finally decide to read the series' second book that I've determined to reread this first book so I wouldn't be lost. About 20 pages in, I'm already remembering why I liked Hardwired so much.

Maio 4, 2020, 4:59pm

>4 BookConcierge: I'll take a book bullet for The Gift of Rain!

On Saturday, I finished Crossfire by Miyuki Miyabe about a young Japanese woman with the power to start fires with her mind, and the arson detective who is investigating a number of what look like vengeance crimes involving fire. Very interesting.

I've now started A Discovery of Witches, book one in the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness and Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan, book ten in the Wheel of Time series.

Editado: Maio 4, 2020, 5:09pm

Enjoying this OverDrive audiobook ~

The Inn by James Patterson

(thriller/Bill Robinson is a former Boston cop/Gloucester, MA drug issues)

Maio 5, 2020, 1:40pm

I finished the LTER book, The Narcissism of Small Differences. It was an excellent book about a couple coping with middle age and learning to be true and honest with themselves. Both characters are well drawn and likable.

Maio 6, 2020, 8:41pm

Pecan Pies And Homicides – Ellery Adams
Digital audiobook narrated by C.S.E. Cooney

Book three in the “Charmed Pie Shoppe” series gets more ridiculous.

I guess I need some pie, because I’m no longer charmed by the eccentric characters and the lead character, Ella Mae, drives me crazy.

I haven’t read book # 2 yet (for some reason there is an insane number of holds on that Overdrive audio through my library). So, I was quite surprised to learn that Ella Mae’s mother has been “merged” (turned into?) with a tree. The whole work of THIS episode is releasing her mother from that spell.

Yes, there’s a murder. Yes, she gets some magical help from other “others.” The romance is heating up (literally and figuratively). I pushed to finish only because it fit a challenge. Oh, well. It was a fast read at least.

C.S.E.Cooney does a fine job narrating the audiobook. She sets a good pace and her diction is clear enough that I could listen at double speed.

Editado: Maio 7, 2020, 8:27am

Enjoying this Kindle/Audible selection ~

Belle: An Amish Retelling of Beauty and the Beast (An Amish Fairytale) by Sarah Price
(book 1 in the series)

Maio 7, 2020, 12:25pm

I finished reading Dead by Sunset by Ann Rule; I think that it's the best true crime novel the late Rule ever wrote. I was fascinated. I'm still listening to Back Story by David Mitchell, but I'll be finished with that soon.

Next up in book form is Season of the Witch by Árni Þórarinsson, and I think next I will listen to Always Look on the Bright Side of Life by Eric Idle.

Maio 7, 2020, 4:20pm

I finished my reread of Hardwired, the first book in Walter Jon Williams' cyberpunk series of the same name, so that I could finally (five years later!) read the series' second book, really more of a novella, Solip: System. I enjoyed my reread almost as much as my original reading way back in 2015.

Maio 7, 2020, 5:42pm

I've just started the witch elm by Tana French. A stand-alone, not part of her Dublin murder squad series.

Maio 8, 2020, 1:18am

Finished Rick Bragg's story of Jessica Lynch, I Am a Soldier, Too. Ms. Lynch was an American GI captured in Iraq during the second Gulf War. Bragg's talents as a writer rescued it, but just barely. The first half dragged on forever.

And unfortunately I followed it up with a "thriller" that was equally slow and marred by horrific editing goofs to boot. Kiss Her Goodbye by Wendy Corsi Staub is a slow-moving who's-gonna-do-it about a suburban teenager being stalked for reasons which are telegraphed very early on in the book. But for petesake, where was the editor? A murder victim is described as being shot in the head; later it's said he was stabbed. An inherited physical oddity important to the plot later becomes a "scar". And there are more, but I won't bore you.

Man, I hope my next read is better!

Maio 8, 2020, 8:59am

I've read Weather and Alice + Freda Forever so far this week, neither of which impressed me all that much. I'm now rereading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and will be starting another book tonight - either The Overstory or Frankenstein.

Maio 8, 2020, 12:19pm

I loved Overstory for the first 2/3. Hope itt reads better for you!!!

Maio 8, 2020, 2:13pm

by Roger Ebert
3/5 stars
This was an unusual book. It is not a linear biography of Scorsese, in fact it is not a true biography at all but a look at his life amid his film work. There are 6 discussions/chapters in this non-fiction work - 1) Beginning, 2) Achieving, 3) Establishing, 4) Reflecting,(which is an interview with Ebert) 5) Venturing and 6) Masterpieces. I think the book is interesting and I learned a lot about Scorsese’s filmmaking but the problem I have with the book was that there was a lot of repetition in the book and a rehashing of the movie plots that have been gone over in previous chapters. However, if you are a big film fan or Scorsese fan, I will think you will like this book.

Editado: Maio 8, 2020, 2:15pm


I love that people have been using their creative talents during the pandemic. This is video is fun to watch.

Maio 8, 2020, 10:59pm

The Last Romantics – Tara Conklin
Digital Audio performed by Cassandra Campbell.

A family epic following the four Skinner siblings over several decades. It begins with a tragedy – the death of their father, and their mother’s subsequent depression. Renee, Caroline, Joe and Fiona are basically left to their own devices over a summer, protecting each other and their mother from intrusion as much as they are able. The result of what they always refer to as “the Pause” is that they are fiercely loyal to one another. Two decades later that connection will be tested by another tragedy.

I love character-driven novels, getting to know and understand the psychology of the characters as they cause and/or react to events in their lives. In this case the siblings’ early experience makes them guarded and as the point of view shifts from character to character and from one time frame to another, that guardedness makes it easy to understand how outsiders (i.e. those outside the family) would be unaware of the need and/or unwilling to assist.

That these four people are damaged by their childhood is without question. The ways they find to cope, or not, is what fascinated me in the novel. I recognized how the roles taken on by siblings in childhood often continue into adulthood; that’s certainly true in m own family, and we didn’t suffer the trauma of losing a parent during our formative years.

I was sorry that COVID19 interrupted our book club’s scheduled meeting on this work. I would certainly have enjoyed that discussion.

Cassandra Campbell is a talented voice artist and does a marvelous job performing the audio. However, the complexity of the novel’s structure, with changing points of views and timeframes, made it a bit more challenging in this format. If I re-read it, I’ll do so in text format.

Maio 9, 2020, 2:46am

The new thread is up over here.