What are you reading the week of November 21, 2020?

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What are you reading the week of November 21, 2020?

Editado: Nov 21, 2020, 10:56am

I finished the excellent The Sicilian Method, by Andrea Camilleri. The mystery was engrossing, but I had some reservations about the direction in which Camilleri took Montalbano's personal life.

One of the advantages to moving your library is rediscovering long forgotten purchases that disappear into boxes. Case in point, I've started reading Living in Little Rock with Miss Little Rock. I purchased this book shortly before I moved from Texas to Massachusetts. It's been tucked away in a box since that move and forgotten until now.

Nov 21, 2020, 11:16am

I'm just about a third of the way through the fascinating history, Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party by Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin. I remember those days, but I was just a little too young (I was 13 in 1968) to have a full understanding of the issues and the personalities.

Nov 21, 2020, 1:11pm

I'm still reading and enjoying The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes.

Nov 21, 2020, 1:49pm

>1 fredbacon: Nice to see you back at the helm, Fred!

I finished Elizabeth Wetmore's Valentine last night. It was a harrowing, yet beautiful, debut novel. I'll be thinking about her characters for a while.

I think I'll start The Thursday Murder Club now. I need something a little lighter.

Nov 21, 2020, 1:52pm

Welcome back, Fred!

I am reading Berkeley Noir and listening to Deacon King Kong.

Editado: Nov 21, 2020, 2:00pm

Warden Ragen of Joliet
Gladys A. Erickson
5/5 stars
Despite the age of the book (published in1957) and the subject, this is a book that I had a hard time putting down. In this true story, Warden Joseph E. Ragen was encouraged to take over the Stateville Prison and the Old Prison in Joliet, Illinois because of conditions at the prisons and the incompetence of an earlier warden. The book discusses the time period, some of the famous criminals in the system and the reforms that Ragen instituted to turn around the prison and encourage good behaviors in the prisoners. Highly recommended!

Nov 21, 2020, 2:01pm

>1 fredbacon: Great series ... I think I've read 3 of them.

Nov 21, 2020, 2:01pm

Julie – Jean Craighead George
Book on CD performed by Christina Moore.

Book two of the Julie of the Wolves series, has our heroine returning to her father’s home and trying to reconcile the traditional Eskimo ways with the newer structure of village corporations, industry and working with the white man.

Julie is a marvelous character. Strong in body and mind, intelligent, resourceful, determined and loving. She’s also a young woman trying to find her place in the community after her year-long experience among the artic wolf pack she came to know as her family. She has a new stepmother, a red-haired Minnesotan named Ellen, whom she does not want to like. And she is taken aback to find that village life is very different from what she had remembered. Her father flies a plane, uses a snowmobile more often than his sled and dogs, and manages the village’s industry – a tiny herd of musk ox. Julie also faces a personal decision: to leave for more education to secure her future, or to stay and protect her wolf pack. And there is a possible romance that adds yet another element to consider in her decision-making.

The push/pull of old vs new, of childhood vs adulthood, of nature vs business form the central conflicts in the story.

The illustrations by Wendell Minor add a nice touch and support the scenes I had imagined from reading George’s descriptions.

Christina Moore does a fine job of the audio, although I did find the pace a bit slow. I probably read at least half the book in text format.

Nov 21, 2020, 2:22pm

Still reading Knife and TRUEL1F3.

Nov 22, 2020, 9:13am

>4 Copperskye: I think that I'm finally in a position to begin reestablishing some familiar habits. I hope that I haven't stepped on anyone's toes by taking this back on myself.

After this summer's constant 24/7 panic attack it's nice to have a stable place to sit and read and the comfort of this place. It's like a mug of hot chocolate on a late autumn evening. There is still a lot to do for me to settle in here, but it's beginning to feel like home. The bookcases are filling up; most of my electronic gear is networked again; and my dog has finally settled down and accepted the place. Whenever I took him outside the first week, he would balk at going back in. He just wanted to go home.

Nov 22, 2020, 11:56am

The Girl Who Drank the Moon – Kelly Barnhill
Digital audio narrated by Christina Moore

For years the people of the Protectorate have left a newborn in the forest to appease the wicked witch. But the actual witch in the forest, Xan, is a kind woman, who takes the babies to the other side of the forest and finds good families to raise them. She feeds the babies starlight as they may the long trek through the forest. But one night she mistakenly gives the baby moonlight, which fills the child with magic. Xan must now raise the baby – whom she names Luna – and introduce her to her magical gifts when she turns thirteen. Xan shares her forest home with a Swamp Monster (the wise and tender and kind Glerk) and a “Perfectly Tiny Dragon” (named Fyrian), and together the three raise a lovely young girl.

This is a delightful fantasy / fairy tale that deals with prejudice, fear, the importance of family, and the courage to do the right thing. While it’s aimed at the middle-school crowd, it is easily enjoyed by adults.

I loved these characters and their “family dynamic.” There are some pretty scary and tense scenes, as well as distressing scenes in an asylum, but goodness wins out (as it must in fairy tales).

Christina Moore does a fabulous job of performing the audiobook. I particularly loved the voices she used for Glerk and Xan and Fyrian. Her narration earns the book an extra half-star. When I finished, I wanted to start listening all over again.

Editado: Nov 22, 2020, 12:06pm

Just finished listening to the wonderful Deacon King Kong.

Next up for listening is Anxious People by Fredrik Backman.

Nov 22, 2020, 3:56pm

>10 fredbacon: As long as you're there, your pup will know he's home.

I'm only 50 or so pages into The Thursday Murder Club but I'm finding myself smiling as I read. It's absolutely delightful.

Nov 22, 2020, 7:40pm

**Finally** finished Bridge of Sighs, and really should have bailed out after about a hundred pages. Russo's stuff is almost always character-driven and minutely detailed, and this one was no exception. It just went on far too long and too slowly.

Am going to dive into Your Movie Sucks next, and enjoy some high-class snark.

Nov 22, 2020, 10:49pm

>1 fredbacon: Welcome back!

Thank you to everyone who posted condolences on the loss of my father. I can't believe that he's been gone for almost two weeks.

I finished Anxious People, which was terrific, and am now deeply settled in with Katherine by Anya Seton, which is the best historical fiction I've ever read.

Nov 23, 2020, 1:42am

A Christmas Carol, I know it's so classic, but I read it everytime it's coming to Christmas. The book is really a meaningful gift that Charles Dickens gives everyone, good text, attractive and colorful story, this is truly an indispensable book on Christmas holidays. I suggest A Christmas Carol for my niece too. I'm reading Catch 22 too.

Nov 23, 2020, 8:06am

I was given a huge bag of Jan Karon books. As a person of faith, I quite enjoy this books. Today I am reading These High, Green Hills.

Nov 23, 2020, 10:38am

>10 fredbacon: Glad you're back, and you and your dog are starting to settle into your new place!

Editado: Nov 23, 2020, 11:14am

Gave up on Anxious People because of horrible narration!

Moving on to The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson.

Nov 23, 2020, 11:21am

I finished the lovely Afterlife by Julia Alvarez.

Now I'm reading Julia Blackburn's Time Song. I love how Blackburn takes the reader along on her journeys of discovery, no matter what the subject.

Nov 23, 2020, 11:47am

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground – Rita Williams-Garcia
Digital audiobook performed by Adam Lazarre-White.

From the book jacket: When, Cool Papa, when? That’s what Clayton Byrd is always asking his grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd. When does he get a solo to show off his talent on the blues harp? Clayton feels most alive when he’s with Cool Papa Byrd and the Bluesmen, playing the music he feels in his bones. But then the unexpected happens. Cool Papa Byrd dies. Clayton’s mother forbids him from playing the blues. For Clayton, that’s no way to live. Armed with his grandfather’s porkpie hat and his blues harp, he runs away from home and to the New York City subways in search of the Bluesmen, hoping he can join them on the road.

My reactions:
This was wonderful on so many levels. First on a purely superficial level, I loved the lesson in blues history that Williams-Garcia has given to young readers, introducing them to historic figures in the development of this uniquely American music.

Secondly, I loved the relationship between Clayton and his grandfather. The respect and love between them was palpable, even after Cool Papa has died, you can feel the deep connection they had and Clayton remembers some of the lessons his grandfather imparted, which help him when he’s “underground.”

Third, I really liked that Williams-Garcia did NOT paint a rosy picture of Clayton’s “adventure” as he ran away. He was in real danger and he suffered some consequences of his inexperience, rashness and youth. On the other hand, he also showed himself to be an astute observer, a clever negotiator, and he had the kind of determination and grit that will see him through on his life’s journey.

And I loved the way in which this wrapped up. The apologies and understandings that Clayton, his mother and his father came to, by really talking about what was important and putting aside some of their own hurt to help one another through this terrible grief.

Adam Lazarre-White does a marvelous job of performing the audiobook. I love his deep bass voice for Cool Papa and Clayton’s dad. I would have liked a little blues music underscore, but that’s not enough to deter me from listening again or re-reading the text.

Nov 23, 2020, 7:44pm

will be starting ~

Christmas Cupcake Murder
by Joanne Fluke
(new Hannah Swensen Mystery/OverDrive audio)

Nov 24, 2020, 9:19pm

I've finished Beyond the Beach and Finland at War 1939-45. Switching back and forth between The Fatal Land and The Future of Another Timeline the rest of the week.

Nov 25, 2020, 2:23am

>24 Shrike58: How was Finland at War? I recently read The Unknown Soldier, Väinö Linna's excellent novel of the War of Continuation.

Nov 25, 2020, 7:26am

Now I'm reading something a little less comforting that Jan Karon. I'm reading Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles. I'm finding the writing a little less fluid, a little more challenging for this old brain. Am I getting too old for young writers? I will persist though. There are some interesting characters.

Nov 25, 2020, 9:23am

Doña Barbara – Rómulo Gallegos

This classic of South American literature was first published in 1929 and virtually forgotten by US readers. It first came to my attention through Public Broadcasting System’s Great American Read program in 2019.

It is an epic tale of two cousins who are fighting for control of a vast estate / ranch in Venezuela. Doña Barbara is beautiful and powerful. At her core she hates men for the way she was used and abused as a young girl. She has earned a reputation as a witch and is widely known for using, abusing and tossing aside her lovers as whim and her needs dictate. She fits perfectly into the wild, untamed landscape of the llano (prairie) and the surrounding swamps, bogs and jungles.

In contrast, we have Santos Luzardo, who, while born on the plains has long left for an education in the city. Now he returns to reclaim his inheritance – land and cattle. But he retains the manners and customs of his city education. Their battle is both cerebral (who can outwit the other?), and physical, involving seduction, chicanery, violence, gamesmanship, cunning and some magic as well.

The novel is an early example of magical realism and Gallegos weaves together adventure, fantasy, and romance. He uses vivid description and outlandish storytelling (I loved the one-eyed monster alligator!) to bring this era to life. The various outdoor scenes were particularly exciting – I could practically taste the grit, feel the dust in my nostrils, hear the roar of stampeding herd, and smell the smoke of an uncontrolled wildfire.

If there was an element that made me downgrade my rating it was the story of Marisela, and the way that Doña Barbara came to terms with that character. It was rather melodramatic and very soap-opera-ish.

In the introduction, Larry McMurtry writes: “Doña Barbara is, in her way, a tragic heroine, seeking to attract a decent lover, while giving herself day and night to very coarse lovers indeed. She is, however very vividly drawn, a Bovary of the llano.”

Nov 25, 2020, 11:36am

I finished Thirteen Moons which came to my attention here on Library Thing. It was intriguing and entertaining tale with insightful passages about the demise of the American Indians and life in general, particularly love, loss, and aging. Quite enjoyable.

Editado: Nov 25, 2020, 2:16pm

Finished reading the excellent short story collection, Berkeley Noir.

I am starting the poetry collection, How To Fly In Ten Thousand Lessons by Barbara Kingsolver.

Nov 25, 2020, 2:53pm

I've put Your Movie Sucks aside as a pick-up-for-a-few-minutes book. Each review is probably around 300 words, and after you've read a few at a single sitting, they begin to run together. Also, a little bit of snark is fun; page after page after page just gets depressing.

So for deep-immersion reading, I started A Flame in Byzantium last night. It's a bit slow to get off the ground. I'll give another 50 pages or so before making a go/no-go decision.

Nov 25, 2020, 10:11pm

From the library: The Forgotten Kingdom by Signe Pike
New and #2 in The Lost Queen trilogy. The story picks up following events in The Lost Queen. Three of the 4 lead characters tell their story in the first person, one is in the 3rd person. The novel ends with a long overdue reunion. The #3 and final book will release in Fall 2023!

Manga Classics: Anne of Green Gables by Lucy M. Montgomery, adaptation by Crystal S. Chan
Having read and own the complete Anne of Green Gables series, I was thrilled to see a manga adaptation. It was a pleasure to read Anne's story again and seeing her story adapted as a manga. Kate M. Butler, the author's granddaughter, wrote the forward. (This manga was authorized by Montgomery's heirs and there's a head banner on the cover)

Current (re)read: The Anatomist's Wife by Anna Lee Huber
I enjoyed the "Lady Darby Mystery" series enough to give it another round of binge reading!

Nov 26, 2020, 1:33am

Just finished the lovely poetry collection, How To Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons).

Next up for reading is a short story collection, Rag by Maryse Meijer.

Nov 26, 2020, 7:48am

Enjoying this OverDrive eBook ~

The Christmas Train
by David Baldacci

Nov 26, 2020, 10:30am

The War of the Worlds – H G Wells
Digital audiobook performed by Christopher Hurt

Classic science-fiction horror. Residents of a small community outside London are puzzled and curious about the “meteor” that has landed in a nearby field. But it’s clearly a manufactured rather than a natural object. And they notice that there is an effort – from the inside – to open the vessel. Thus begins the horror that becomes an invasion from Mars.

I knew the basic premise going in. I knew about the Orson Welles’ radio broadcast that caused panic (despite an introduction advising that this was a dramatic reading of a work of fiction). But I’d never read the original.

The first-person narrative lends a sense of urgency and immediacy to the narrative. The reader feels completely immersed in the story. Wells includes significant tension; while there are a few moments of respite, I found it a very anxiety-producing read. I like that he leaves much to the reader’s imagination, which heightens the suspense.

Christopher Hurt did a fine job narrating the audio book. There’s something about that clipped British accent that just draws me in.

Nov 26, 2020, 11:56am

Doing with A Flame in Byzantium what I should have done with Bridge of Sighs -- bailing out.

Author Yarbro can't seem to decide whether she wants to write a vampire story, or a tale of political intrigue in Emperor Justinian's ancient Byzantium. Although the historical background is meticulously researched, the plot dragged along without much happening except characters spying on each other and reporting back to their evil overlords. At the 50% point, I had to give up.

Next up is Mary Kay Andrews' Beach Town. Fingers crossed that my luck will change!

Nov 26, 2020, 12:18pm

>35 LyndaInOregon: "Author Yarbro can't seem to decide whether she wants to write a vampire story, or a tale of political intrigue in Emperor Justinian's ancient Byzantium."

This might be the funniest sentence I've read on LT this year.

Seriously, though, I, too, hate it when authors try to write two novels at once and don't even seem to realize they're doing it. I'd have bailed, too.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 26, 2020, 3:35pm

>30 LyndaInOregon: I read that Ebert book and did the same thing. I read a couple of reviews a day.

Nov 27, 2020, 1:58am

I have just finished reading the book Seven Years in Tibet by author Heinrich Harrer


Nov 27, 2020, 9:37am

>25 rocketjk: It's fine from an informational viewpoint but when it was published it was just on the cusp of being left behind from an interpretive basis. If you want to do a deeper dive consider reading Finland's War of Choice and The Finnish Civil War 1918. The short version is that, in terms of categorization, Interwar Finland is now less likely to be grouped with the rest of Neutralist Scandinavia and more with the post-1918 "shatter zone" successors to the dynastic empires in its political behavior.

Nov 27, 2020, 9:49am

Also, finished up The Future of Another Timeline. While I might be hitting a novel that is fine as an entertainment with a large hammer, I tend to be rather critical of stories based on time travel; this is no The Anubis Gates (probably time for a reread).

Nov 27, 2020, 11:17am

Finished TRUEL1F3 by Jay Kristoff. Liked the series overall. Also finished Knife by Jo Nesbø. Even darker than usual for a Harry Hole novel, but I liked the twisty-ness of it very much.

Next up are Dark Highway by Lisa Gray and The Tinderbox: Soldier of Indira by Lou Diamond Phillips.

Nov 27, 2020, 2:03pm

Waiting for Gertrude: A Graveyard Gothic
Bill Richardson
4/5 stars
This delightful story is set in Paris’s famous Pere-Lachaise cemetery where many famous people are buried there including Maria Callas, Edith Piaf, Jim Morrison and Alice B. Toklas to name a few. Author Bill Richardson imagines that the celebrity dead have now been reincarnated into cats who live, work, fight and bicker in the cemetery.

Nov 27, 2020, 2:45pm

I finished Black Against Empire: The History and Politics of the Black Panther Party by Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin. This is a fascinating and comprehensive history of the Black Panther Party, which rose quickly to assume a place at the vanguard of the Revolutionary/New Left movement in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The authors provide a very readable and detailed account of the cultural/historic factors and personalities, both inside and outside the party itself, that created the Panthers' philosophy, quick rise, widespread influence, and steady disintegration. This book illuminates a crucial period in African American history and American history more generally. Highly recommended. I've written more on my 50-Book Challenge thread.

Next up for me will be the semi-classic (or classic?) British crime novel, The Crust on its Uppers by Derek Raymond.

Editado: Nov 27, 2020, 5:52pm

Just finished the brutally brilliant short story collection, Rag: Stories.

Next up for reading is Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell.

Nov 27, 2020, 8:53pm

The new thread is up over here.

Nov 28, 2020, 12:55pm

>44 hemlokgang: Mitchell's book is on my list to read-hope you enjoy it!

Nov 29, 2020, 10:46am

I also read Now & Then by Jacqueline Sheehan last week. It's a fun fantasy story about an aunt and her 16 year old nephew accidentally time traveling to 1844 Ireland.