Vivian Reads in 2023

Discussão75 Books Challenge for 2023

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Vivian Reads in 2023

1vivians
Dez 29, 2022, 10:38 am

Hi and welcome to my LT friends! I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. I'm looking forward to getting back to the books.

2022 fiction favorites

A Terrible Kindness
Small Things Like These
The Whistling Season
Fight Night
Mother's Boy
Lessons in Chemistry
Sea of Tranquility
The Candy House
Foster
Lucy by the Sea
Act of Oblivion
Demon Copperhead

2022 non-fiction favorites

In Love
Who By Fire
River of the Gods
Rogues
The Escape Artist

2021 fiction favorites

The Survivors
Klara and the Sun
How Beautiful We Were
Light Perpetual
Strange Flowers
Still Life
Bewilderment
Oh William
The Lincoln Highway
Cloud Cuckoo Land
What is Left the Daughter

2021 non-fiction favorites

Jews Don't Count
The Book of Eels
Nomadland
Half the Way Home
A Swim in the Pond

2PaulCranswick
Dez 29, 2022, 1:47 pm



Wishing you a comfortable reading year in 2023, Vivian.

3drneutron
Dez 29, 2022, 4:55 pm

Welcome back for another one, Vivian!

4Berly
Dez 30, 2022, 10:18 pm

ed again!!

From your 2022 favorite lists, I loved Sea of Tranquility and I am scheduled to read The Candy House in Jan and Demon Copperhead in March -- glad to know you liked them!!

Wishing you more happy reading in 2023!

5EBT1002
Dez 31, 2022, 5:27 pm

Hi Vivian and Happy New Year!

Dropping off a star. Your thread is always one of the best sources of recommendations for me!

6BLBera
Editado: Dez 31, 2022, 8:09 pm

What Ellen said. I think some of my favorites for 2022 will match yours. Happy New Year!

7lauralkeet
Jan 1, 2023, 8:26 am

>5 EBT1002:, >6 BLBera: What Ellen and Beth said! Vivian, you had a strong positive influence on my 2022 reading and I'm really looking forward to seeing what you get up to this year.

8katiekrug
Jan 1, 2023, 11:53 am

Can't wait to see what you read this year, Vivian! And maybe we'll finally have that dinner :)

9Caroline_McElwee
Jan 1, 2023, 12:08 pm

We shared some favourite reads this year Vivian. Happy New Year.

10brenzi
Jan 1, 2023, 1:40 pm

Hi Vivian. I'm surprised A Terrible Kindness isn't more well known. I loved that book too. And I hope to get to Acts of Oblivion soonish. I can always count on you for great recommendations. Happy New Year!

11msf59
Jan 1, 2023, 2:13 pm

Happy New Year, Vivian! We are closing out another wonderful year of books and banter and I am looking forward to sharing another with you. I just started Demon Copperhead and of course I am loving it.

12thornton37814
Jan 1, 2023, 3:44 pm

Hope your 2023 is filled with good books!

13vivians
Editado: Jan 1, 2023, 5:32 pm

Thanks for all the wonderful messages - I'll respond to each soon but.....excited to report that I'm going to Barcelona for a week with my daughter, leaving tomorrow! I'll report and post pictures when I return. I've planned a bunch of things, including a day trip to Montsarrat, a food tour, an evening classical guitar concert, and of course Sagrada Familia tickets. I'm going to try not to push Jo, and will leave us plenty of time to just wander around.

This morning I finally finished:



#1 Mercury Pictures Presents Anthony Marra
I may never recover from the mortification of meeting Anthony Marra at a book signing and confusing one of his books with Anthony Doerr's....but I'm still a huge fan. I wanted to love this book, about European refugees in Los Angeles in the '40s and their impact on the U.S. film industry. Great characters, intriguing back stories and fascinating historical incidents (who knew that the U.S. Army built an entire miniature Berlin neighborhood in the Utah desert to practice their bomb runs?) Marra's prose is exquisite, although every sentence is a metaphor and often gets in the way of the story. I still would recommend this but it requires patience.

14PaulCranswick
Jan 1, 2023, 5:41 pm

>13 vivians: Fabulous, Vivian. Have a wonderful and safe trip to the Catalonia capital.

15BLBera
Jan 1, 2023, 6:28 pm

Enjoy Barcelona, Vivian. I love that city! The Marra is on my list...

16Chatterbox
Jan 1, 2023, 6:34 pm

Have a fab trip, Vivian! Looking forward to hearing about it when you're back.

17Caroline_McElwee
Jan 1, 2023, 6:42 pm

>13 vivians: How wonderful Vivian. I love Sagrada Familia. It's years since I was there, so it will have advanced since then.

18lauralkeet
Jan 1, 2023, 8:16 pm

Have a wonderful trip, Vivian! We enjoyed our visit to Barcelona several years ago. It's a lively spot with lots to see.

19ffortsa
Jan 1, 2023, 8:28 pm

Oh, have a great trip!

20figsfromthistle
Jan 1, 2023, 9:18 pm

Have a fun trip! A great way to start the new year :)

21Berly
Jan 1, 2023, 9:28 pm



Have a great trip!!

22EBT1002
Jan 7, 2023, 11:15 pm

Looking forward to hearing about Barcelona upon your return, Vivian!

23vivians
Editado: Jan 10, 2023, 3:43 pm

Thanks to all my visitors: Paul, Beth, Suzanne, Caroline, Laura, Judy, Anita, Kim and Ellen! I have all your threads starred (although mostly I'm "lurking") and am looking forward to sharing books with all of you!

We had a wonderful week in Barcelona. Weather was gorgeous: blue skies and temps in the 50s. We walked an average of 10.5 miles each day, ate amazing pastries, tapas and paellas, went to museums, churches and cathedrals, a classical guitar concert in a basilica (fabulous), a flamenco show (so horrendous that we were in hysterics), took a food tour to a variety of neighborhoods and markets, and so much more. The highlights were two trips outside the city: Montsarrat Abbey and the medieval city of Girona. Being with Jo for a week was the best gift of all. She's a great traveling companion and I loved being with her.



#2 The Elements of Lavishness Michael Steinman
I'm very grateful to Bonnie for this recommendation. The 40 year correspondence between Sylvia Townsend Warner and William Maxwell was a fabulous read.



#3 Snow John Banville
Police procedural set in rural Ireland in the 50's. A Protestant inspector investigates the gruesome death of a Catholic priest. Predictable but very atmospheric.



#4 The Furrows Namwali Serpell
This was on the NY Times top 10 list. It starts with a hypnotic account of loss and grief, as Cassandra mourns the death of her little brother when he was seven and she was twelve. The trauma of his death, and her role in it, follow her into adulthood. The impact was lessened in the second half, when the narrative is complicated by different voices and a contrived ending.


24brenzi
Jan 10, 2023, 3:54 pm

Wow 10.5 miles a day! You must've worn out your sneakers Vivian. But I must say, it sounds like an absolutely fabulous trip. It's wonderful that you and Jo could have this time together.

Tell me honestly...were you gutted at the end of The Element of Lavishness the way I was?

25katiekrug
Jan 10, 2023, 4:00 pm

>23 vivians: - Fabulous picture! I'm so glad you had a great time.

26lauralkeet
Jan 10, 2023, 5:41 pm

Great photo, Vivian. I love Barcelona and Spain in general. Sounds like a wonderful trip.

I was greatly underwhelmed by Snow.

27msf59
Jan 10, 2023, 7:01 pm

Love the Barcelona pic, Vivian. Looks beautiful. I just requested The Furrows. I hope it ends up being a bit more satisfying to me.

28FAMeulstee
Jan 12, 2023, 8:45 am

Happy reading in 2023, Vivian!

I have never been to Spain, your stay in Barcelona sounded great.

29mstrust
Jan 12, 2023, 1:56 pm

Wishing you a year of good books and more travel! What a beautiful pic!

30thornton37814
Jan 16, 2023, 6:39 pm

>13 vivians: I wondered how that one was.

>23 vivians: I've enjoyed the Banville books I've read. I agree that one was not as strong as some of his others though.

31Berly
Jan 17, 2023, 2:23 am

Glad you had so much fun and I love the photo! Jealous -- I have made it to Europe several times, but not yet to Spain. Someday!

32ChelleBearss
Jan 17, 2023, 9:32 am

Hope 2023 is kind to you!

>23 vivians: Great picture!

33BLBera
Jan 17, 2023, 10:12 am

>31 Berly: I'd go to Spain with you. I could translate. :)

Hi Vivian.

34vivians
Editado: Jan 19, 2023, 10:34 am

>24 brenzi: I read The Element of Lavishness on the overnight flight and was completely consumed. I can't thank you enough for the recommendation - I never would have found it without your praise. Yes, totally gutted at the end.

>25 katiekrug: Thanks Katie - the urge to travel is back for me.

>26 lauralkeet: Hi Laura - re Snow: Jo has not been a great fiction reader during her college years, much to my distress, but she brought Snow on the trip. You're right, it was underwhelming, but it was worth it to discuss with her. She was pretty stunned by the pedophilia plot and that surprised me since I thought it was predictable from the first page.

>27 msf59: I'll be looking for your thoughts on The Furrows, Mark. I haven't heard much about it on LT.

>28 FAMeulstee: Thanks Anita! This was my first trip to Spain, and I'm eagerly planning more!

>29 mstrust: Thanks for the visit, Jennifer!

>30 thornton37814: Hi Lori - I may continue the Banville series but it wasn't high on my list.

>31 Berly: Me too, Kim, we've traveled a lot but never to Spain. Hope you get to plan a trip soon.

>32 ChelleBearss: Thanks Chelle, you too!

>33 BLBera: Hi Beth!



#5 Wish You Were Here Jodi Picoult
My broker-dealer hosts a book club for the spouses of advisors when we meet at conferences. The CEO's spouse choses the books and organizes the discussion. She announced that Picoult would be joining a virtual discussion and I decided to barge in. An autographed copy of the book was provided! I've only read one of her many books, years ago, and was pleasantly surprised by this one. It's a pandemic novel, and seemed very hastily but accurately written. Much takes place in NY and I was shocked by how much I'd forgotten about those early months. This is an excellent look at grief, loss, sacrifices with an awesome twist. There's a John Lennon/Yoko Ono subplot which is incredibly annoying, but otherwise I'm glad to have read it and looking forward to hearing Picoult speak.



#6 Who Speaks for the Damned C.S. Harris
Napoleon has fallen and the allied royals gather in London to celebrate. A nobleman's disgraced son, presumed dead after having been sent to Botany Bay for a murder conviction, returns to London and is murdered. Another complex plot with great characters. Sebastian and his wife Hero make a great team.



#7Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands Kate Beaton
I loved this graphic novel about the insular, misogynistic working community in western Canada. Highly recommended.



#8 A World of Curiosities Louis Penny
Not the best but still a solid entry to the Gamache story. Highlights were the true events at the Montreal Polytechnique in 1989, the existence of the Paston Treasure painting in Norwich, the origin story of Gamache and Beauvoir. On the other hand I thought the denouement was far too drawn out, and, like others, I was annoyed at the convenient revelation of a back story that provided the novel's set-up. That being said, I'll gladly line up for the next installment.

35lauralkeet
Jan 19, 2023, 10:46 am

Nice balanced review of the latest Gamache book, Vivian. I agree about the denouement, too!

36BLBera
Jan 19, 2023, 12:23 pm

I'm reading the Penny right now, Vivian. I just got Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands from the library and am looking forward to it.

37katiekrug
Jan 19, 2023, 1:16 pm

You liked that Picoult more than I did - I was oddly bored by it after the twist. And I agree about the annoying sub-plot!

38Berly
Jan 21, 2023, 8:47 pm

Dang. I am jealous you get to hear Picoult speak! I love her books, but haven't read that one.

39thornton37814
Jan 23, 2023, 8:09 am

>34 vivians: Louise Penney keeps us going back to her series even if we don't like an installment that well. I usually like the next installment after one that doesn't quite live up to others in the series.

40vivians
Editado: Jan 26, 2023, 4:05 pm

>35 lauralkeet: Hi Laura - it did drag on at the end.

>36 BLBera: I'll look for your Penny thoughts on your thread, Beth. Ducks was really good, IMO.

>37 katiekrug: I'll definitely raise the question to Picoult if I can during the zoom call: it's not like we didn't know who she was talking about. Legal reasons?

>38 Berly: I'll fill you in on details, Kim! Not sure how many people will be on the zoom.

>39 thornton37814: It's true, Lori, I will definitely continue reading the series, despite my quibbles with the last one.

A work trip to San Diego provided lots of reading time over the last few days:



#9 Colditz: Prisoners of the Castle Ben Mcintyre

Great narrative non-fiction, read perfectly by the author. So many interesting details in this history of the Nazi prison-of-war camp for high-ranking Allied officers. The cultural differences among the Polish, French, British and Dutch officers were fascinating and sometimes humorous. The shocking anti-Semitism among the British officers who insisted that the Jewish officers be housed and fed separately. The blatant racism of those same private-school Brits toward their fellow Indian officer, who swore allegiance to the crown despite his fervor for Indian independence. The German officers who were not Nazis and their commitment to the Geneva convention, versus the SS and Gestapo. The escapes themselves were patiently detailed, but it was life in the castle itself that I found spellbinding. I also loved his post-war follow-up on most of the people involved on both sides. A fascinating book, highly recommended.



#10 Women Talking Miriam Toews

I loved Fight Night and now that there's a movie out I decided to read this earlier work. The women in a Mennonite colony in Bolivia debate about how to handle years of horrific sexual assault by the men in their community. I question her choice of having a man narrate their story (ostensibly because they are illiterate), especially given the way he inserts his (relatively minor) experiences into the narrative. I think it reduced the impact of the women's story.



#11 The Tortoise and the Hare Elizabeth Jenkins

Extremely powerful novel about the unraveling of a marriage. This one will stay with me for a long time.



#12 A Fine Summer's Day Charles Todd

A Rutledge novel that goes back to pre-war times (summer 1914) so there's some relief seeing him in good mental and physical health. The absence of Hamish is a relief as well. Rutledge investigates a series of murders which are linked to a capital case many years earlier. Excellent description of the gathering clouds of war.



#13 A Quiet Life Ethan Joella
Recommended by one of the podcasts I listen to - good airplane reading. Three people in a wintry Pennsylvania suburb are dealing with grief and loss: an elderly retiree has lost his beloved wife to cancer; a young woman with a passion for animals is grieving for her recently murdered father; a struggling mother is in limbo after her ex-husband abducts their young daughter. Their lives merge in a series of manufactured coincidences. Not great literature but a pleasant read.



#14 The Lost Garden Helen Humphreys
Quite a contrast to #13 above. This was a slow and contemplative read with prose that feels like poetry. Thanks to Katie and then Laura for their recommendations. Gwen Davis, a lonely and isolated woman, flees London in 1941 and joins the Land Army. A tribute to gardening, Virginia Woolf, and young soldiers. Truly amazing.

41katiekrug
Jan 26, 2023, 4:30 pm

The Macintyre is going on my audio wishlist. And I'm so glad you liked the Humphreys!

42lauralkeet
Jan 26, 2023, 5:24 pm

Of course I'm pleased to see your love for The Lost Garden, but ALSO: The Tortoise and the Hare!! I read that last year and loved it. The Backlisted podcast recently did an episode which I have good intentions of listening to ...

43brenzi
Editado: Jan 26, 2023, 6:09 pm

I'm already on the wait list for the McIntyre Vivian. I've listened to or read all his other books so glad to see a new one.

I read The Tortoise and the Hare last year and loved it. It made me order another one of her books but I'm not sure when I'll get to it. Anything by Humphreys is good.

I just finished Foster so I'm writing this as I sob 😭

44Chatterbox
Jan 26, 2023, 6:32 pm

I really enjoyed the Macintyre book as well, as I grew up watching the black & white TV series set in Colditz and featuring various escape plans, etc. It was very dramatic and exciting for a child living in London in an era where one could still meet people who had fought in the war, been POWs, etc. But I loved that the book took me into much further detail -- the TV series completely overlooked the class stuff, the anti-Semitism and some of the national conflicts as well. Btw, I think they have made/are making a drama based on Macintyre's book about Kim Philby, which remains my fave of his, I think.

I may look for that Picoult novel as a quick read. I was glad that Louise Penny drew attention to the Polytechnique shootings so vividly and made it a part of the story. I found some of the latest Gamache unconvincing, but the Polytechnique killings happened when I was living in Toronto, and I remember participating in vigils, etc. It wasn't that long since I'd been in university myself, and I had lots of friends living in Montreal. It was so... un-Canadian? And yet the themes -- misogyny, gun violence -- have only grown in significance since then. Sigh.

45thornton37814
Jan 29, 2023, 12:14 pm

>40 vivians: The Humphreys book sounds interesting.

46EBT1002
Jan 29, 2023, 2:40 pm

Hi Vivian.

I've been wanting to find a graphic novel/memoir to read. I'm going to see if I can find a copy of Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands by Kate Beaton.

47BLBera
Jan 29, 2023, 2:51 pm

I am reading Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands right now, and it is really good.

48EBT1002
Jan 29, 2023, 3:19 pm

>47 BLBera: Noted. If I can't pick up a copy at a Seattle bookstore, I'll ask Book People of Moscow, the indie bookstore just across the border, to order it for me.

49msf59
Jan 30, 2023, 8:41 am

Hi, Vivian. I love going through your current reads. I DNFed The Furrows. I just could not engage. Hooray for Kate Beaton. I have already added Colditz: Prisoners of the Castle to my list. I liked Women Talking. I plan on seeing the film soon too.

50Chatterbox
Fev 1, 2023, 6:16 pm

>48 EBT1002: Ellen, if you're stuck, lemme know. I'm in Canada right now and could pick it up probably and bring it back to mail to you.

51vivians
Editado: Fev 2, 2023, 11:54 am

>41 katiekrug:, 42, 43 Hi Katie, Laura and Bonnie - I love all these recs going back and forth. You all have improved the breadth of my reading over the years!

>44 Chatterbox: Suzanne I had no idea about the Colditz TV series prior to reading this book. I can only remember Hogan's Heroes, which, in looking back, seems particularly offensive. It was an absolute favorite, though.

>45 thornton37814: So far I've loved the Humphreys, Lori.

>46 EBT1002:, 47, 48 I'm glad the Ducks appreciation is spreading. The advantage of the graphic novel for me is that it really stays with me.

>49 msf59: The Ducks rec came from you, Mark! Appreciated as always.

I'm having a difficult time with my mother, who at age 97 has remained 100% independent and competent. She's having severe (excruciating in her words) back pain and appears to have fractured one or more vertebrae. No fall - just brittle bones. She's in her own apartment with no help, so I'm feeling the stress and responsibility.
I'm hoping that some kind of pain management can be arranged.



#15 The Other Side of Night Adam Hamdy
A very complicated and twisty mystery, with much too much philosophical hand-wringing for my taste. A good premise: two physicists die young (one from cancer, the other from suicide) and leave their young son in the care of their strange and unreliable best friend. His ex-girlfriend, a disgraced police officer, decides to investigate their deaths. Several viewpoints and timelines, at times confusing.



#16 What the Devil Knows C.S. Harris
A somewhat less satisfying St. Cyr installment, this one seemed formulaic. Multiple deaths, multiple physical attacks on Sebastian thwarted with the help of his wife, and violent murders connected to similar ones several years before. The best parts of this series are always the social commentary, the in-depth look at a variety of facets of British life in the early 19th century (in this case, the neighborhood public houses), and the characters themselves. And this one at least is based on true events.



#17 Hench Natalie Zina Walschots
This was such a romp! It's a superhero tale from the point of view of a minor "henchperson" in a temporary office job. When she becomes collateral damage in a confrontation with a hero, she chooses revenge and joins the staff of a supervillain. Strong beginning, slightly weak ending (maybe the author has a volume 2 in mind?), this would make a great TV series.

52PaulCranswick
Fev 3, 2023, 9:30 pm

>40 vivians: & >51 vivians: We do seem to like the same sort of reading, Vivian. Great start to the year.

53BLBera
Fev 4, 2023, 11:42 am

I'm so sorry to hear about your mother, Vivian. My mom broke a vertebra in 2020 and would agree about the excruciating pain. I hope she can get some relief although in my mom's case, it took a long time to heal. (Just so you are prepared.) Can she still stay on her own?

I loved Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands as well! The art and text were great. I will look for more by Beaton.

>51 vivians: Not sure about these although I do want to read the Harris series.

54vivians
Editado: Fev 12, 2023, 12:02 pm

>52 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul!

>53 BLBera: Thanks for the commiseration, Beth. It's been 3 weeks and there's a slight improvement. The frightening part is that there was no specific cause (no fall, no heavy lifting) and so it's clear this is likely to recur. She's still living alone but is relying more on me for shopping and errands.

We saw "Leopoldstadt" yesterday, our first return to the theater in 3 years. Very moving and really worthwhile.



#18 The Man in the Window Jon Cohen
This is on Nancy Pearl's list of favorites. Lonely and damaged (physically and mentally) outsiders find each other in a decidedly non-sentimental 1990s novel. Very enjoyable.



#19 Signal Fires Dani Shapiro
Very disappointing. A car accident dramatically changes the lives of a suburban family in the 80s, and the novel follows their lives and those of their neighbors. I think Shapiro is a great essayist and memoirist but this novel tries too hard to be philosophical and the timelines were messy. I did enjoy the suburban New York setting.



#20 The Whalebone Theatre Joanna Quinn
This debut novel features a wealthy British family in Dorset between the 20s and the end of WWII. It includes bohemian hangers-on, amateur theater productions, wonderful relationships among the children, and eventually espionage. Reminiscent of the Cazalets, and sometimes a bit of a slog, but overall extremely enjoyable (on audio) and memorable.



#21 Strong Poison Dorothy Sayers
The best one so far, although most of the detective work is done by others. Wimsey exonerates Harriet Vane (who I understand will figure in future installments), who had been accused of poisoning her ex-lover. There's a similar method used in The Princess Bride!

55katiekrug
Fev 12, 2023, 12:06 pm

I'm sorry to hear that about the Shapiro. I was looking forward to it!

56BLBera
Fev 12, 2023, 1:37 pm

Too bad about the Shapiro. I might pass on that...

If you liked Strong Poison, you will like the others featuring Harriet, I think. Gaudy Night is the best one, in fact, one of my favorite mysteries.

I look forward to The Whalebone Theatre.

I'm glad your mom is feeling better. Scary that there isn't an apparent cause.

57brenzi
Fev 12, 2023, 8:56 pm

Hmmm I listened to Signal Fires, Vivian, and couldn't stop listening. I finished it in no time because I thought it was so compelling. I agree about the timelines though.

58ffortsa
Fev 12, 2023, 9:00 pm

Oh, sorry to hear about your mother. Ongoing pain is very debilitating. And it does sound like the osteoporosis my mother had, mainly in her neck, where the vertibrae basically crumbled. I hope she can find some relief.

59Caroline_McElwee
Fev 15, 2023, 4:55 am

>54 vivians: Glad you enjoyed Leopoldstadt Vivian. It was one of the plays I saw just before the pandemic closed everything down. I'm a Stoppard fan, and have seen many of his plays. This was his most personal one.

60PaulCranswick
Fev 15, 2023, 6:54 am

>54 vivians: A couple of those caught my eye, Vivian.

I do hope that your mum continues to stabilize.

61figsfromthistle
Fev 15, 2023, 7:18 am

Dropping in to say hello and wish you a happy mid week. You have been reading a lot go great books so far! I will pass on the Shapiro....

Sorry to hear about your mom

62EBT1002
Fev 16, 2023, 12:29 am

Sorry to hear about your mom, Vivian. I hope some form of pain management can be determined.

63Berly
Fev 17, 2023, 1:44 am

Awesome reading going on here! Sorry about your mom, and very sobering that there wasn't a specific incident to blame it on. Does make it seem more likely to happen again.

64vivians
Editado: Mar 3, 2023, 9:28 am

Thanks for all the visits!

>55 katiekrug: The Shapiro got a lot of good press but it just didn't work for me.

>56 BLBera: Hi Beth - the Sayers are definitely improving, in my opinion, and I'm glad I stuck with them.

>57 brenzi: It seems so unusual when we don't agree, Bonnie! Signal Fires just didn't do it for me.

>58 ffortsa: Thanks Judy - there's been some slight improvement over the past week, so I'm hopeful.

>59 Caroline_McElwee: I'm still thinking of the play a week later, Caroline. There's a fairly new Stoppard biography by Hermione Lee that I'm considering.

>60 PaulCranswick: Thanks for the good wishes Paul.

>61 figsfromthistle: Thanks for the visit, Anita.

>62 EBT1002: Hi Ellen - my mother is walking again as of this week. She has such determination and resilience. Pretty amazing for 98.

>63 Berly: That's the worst of it, Kim, a not very encouraging outlook. But she's still totally tuned in to books, politics, opera and movies, so I'm glad of those distractions.



#22 The Bandit Queens Parini Shroff
I had a couple of quibbles about this debut, most specifically about the unending dialogue which never sounded genuine. But the premise of an abandoned wife in a small Indian village (whose reputation as a witch creates opportunities for other abused wives) was great, as was the historic role model of Phoolan Devi. There was enough humor to relieve some of the grim details of cruelty, poverty, caste prejudice and misogyny.



#23 Trespasses Louise Kennedy
A deeply moving debut novel set in 1975 Northern Ireland, it tells the heartbreaking story of Cushla Lavery, a young Catholic schoolteacher who also works in the family bar. Her relationship with a much older, cultured radical lawyer, a Protestant, is captured beautifully and tragically.



#24 The Unseen Roy Jacobsen
Many thanks to Mark for recommending this, the first in a trilogy about three generations of a family trying to survive on a small island off the Norwegian coast at the turn of the century. A hostile climate, a constant struggle for survival, and a living eked out through fishing, farming and sheep, all described evocatively and simply. Most compelling is each character's deep love for their home.



#25 Flight Lynn Steger Strong
At first I had trouble keeping family members straight, and I found the narrative to be very choppy. But it grew on me and I ended up really enjoying this family of three siblings, their spouses and children, converging for Christmas after the death of their mother. Lots of resentments and tensions arise, but ultimately their adjustment to their new reality, and their realization of their ties to each other is very uplifting.



#26 Now is Not the Time to Panic Kevin Wilson
I loved this coming-of-age story about two teenage misfits in a small Tennessee town and their life-altering summer creating what they naively think is a work of "art" - an ambiguous poster that they copy and display everywhere. I thought he hit their voices perfectly. Highly recommended.

65katiekrug
Fev 22, 2023, 4:52 pm

Adding Trespasses to my library list, Vivian. Sounds great!

66BLBera
Fev 22, 2023, 6:59 pm

Trespasses is calling to me, Vivian. I did enjoy Flight. I read it around Christmas and it seemed to portray the complexities of family so well.

The Jacobson and Wilson are already on my list.

67EBT1002
Fev 22, 2023, 7:19 pm

Hi Vivian.

I've just put Trespasses on hold at the library. Thank you for that. I'm excited to find good literature with Ireland connections.

Also, I'm glad you enjoyed The Unseen. I read that last year and I bought the next one in the trilogy on a recent visit to Seattle. I love the atmosphere of his writing.

68vivians
Editado: Mar 3, 2023, 10:02 am

>65 katiekrug:, >66 BLBera:, >67 EBT1002: Glad to recommend Trespasses to all of you and eagerly waiting for your comments! The Women's Prize longlist is out next week - I'm expecting more weight to be added to the TBR.



#27 Sam Allegra Goodman
RL book group pick. A coming-of-age novel which follows Sam from ages 7-19. She lives in a small Massachusetts town with her divorced mother, a younger half-brother, and she discovers a passion for climbing at a young age. Her unreliable father, an addict who often disappears for long stretches, is adored and resented in equal measure. Her voice is authentic and believable, and her determination and perseverance make the story very worthwhile.



#28 People Love Dead Jews Dara Horn
A number of essays from an prolific author of fiction who also has an academic background in Hebrew literature.
Here's a better summary than I could write: According to Yaniv Iczkovits in the New York Times, the collection of twelve essays "explore how the different ways we commemorate Jewish tragedy, how we write about the Holocaust, how the media presents antisemitic events, how we establish museums to honor Jewish heritage, how we read literature with Jewish protagonists and even how we praise the "righteous among the nations" (those who saved Jews during the war), are all distractions from the main issue, which is the very concrete, specific death of Jews." The book was a finalist for the 2021 Kirkus Prize in nonfiction.



#29 The Summer Without Men Siri Hustvedt
A 55 year old poet and literature professor is abandoned by her husband of 30 years and spirals a bit before returning to her childhood town and reconnecting to life. She re-bonds with her mother, teaches a number of (indistinguishable) adolescents, and examines her life. There was some humor, lots of anger, and I overall I thought it was pretty good, even though I didn't connect much with the characters.



#20 I Have Some Questions for You Rebecca Makkai
I loved The Great Believers, I love Makkai's Twitter and her recent substack outlining her current reading challenge in honor of her father: 84 books from around the world. And I think she hit another home run with this twisty thriller about a successful podcaster, Bodie Kane, who returns to her New Hampshire boarding school to teach a two week course and revisits the 1995 murder of a classmate. It deals with high profile predators and the MeToo movement, but a subplot concerning her husband makes it clear that not all cases are straightforward. I usually like the prolific narrator, Julia Whelan, but in this case I think print would be a better choice since Whelan's inflection at the beginning biased me against Bodie. I think this will be a much-talked about book and I highly recommend it.

69katiekrug
Mar 3, 2023, 11:59 am

Glad you enjoyed Sam, too!

I have the Makkai out from the library and will read it next. I'm really looking forward to it.

70vivians
Editado: Mar 10, 2023, 10:44 am

>69 katiekrug: I see on your thread that the I have Some Questions for You is going well for you. I'm glad it's getting such good press everywhere.



#21 My Name Is Yip Paddy Crewe
2023 Walter Scott longlist (one of my favorite prizes.) Although this book is billed as a "revisionist Western," it's actually set in Georgia in the mid 19th century. The narrator is a memorable 4 ft 8 inch completely hairless mute named Yip Tolroy, who is shunned and ignored as an idiot. The pacing is quite slow despite very short chapters, and the unusual language and grammar takes a while to get used to. I thought it was ok but wouldn't rush to recommend.



#22 Exiles Jane Harper
Third in the Aaron Falk series, this time set in the South Australian wine country. Two unsolved mysteries and many intriguing characters: I absolutely loved this well-paced mystery.



#23 The Queen of Dirt Island Donal Ryan
Yet another fabulous Irish novel. I have enjoyed Ryan's previous books and this one did not disappoint. Four generations of women live together in a small town from the 1980s onwards. The dialogue is sharp and fabulous and beautifully read by Emma Lowe. Highly recommended.



#24 Lady Justice Dahlia Lithwick
It was hard to revisit some of the most egregious Trump policies that Lithwick writes about, such as the "Muslim ban" and other recent horrors. But she provides some really inspiring profiles of women lawyers whose extraordinary efforts and courage have made a tremendous difference in protecting human rights.



#25 Madonna in a Fur Coat Sabahattin Ali
From Rebecca Makkai's around-the-world reading list, a Turkish classic written in the 1940s. It chronicles the love story of an introverted young Turk and a German painter in 1920s Berlin. Lots of melancholy, longing and introspection, and a deeply affecting read.

71katiekrug
Mar 10, 2023, 11:03 am

>70 vivians: - The Makkai is excellent. I saw on Twitter that some bookstores are having trouble keeping it in stock!

The Donal Ryan goes immediately onto The List. I'll look for the audio...

72lauralkeet
Mar 10, 2023, 12:32 pm

I'm in a forever-long library queue for Exiles, and just added my name to another long wait for the Makkai. You and Katie are bad (or is it good?) for my TBR!

73katiekrug
Mar 10, 2023, 1:31 pm

>72 lauralkeet: - Surely one of your girls has a NYPL card, Laura? The Makkai is currently available for e-books and audio with no wait because it's the WNYC Get Lit book club pick for March. Just sayin'.... 😉

74lauralkeet
Mar 10, 2023, 5:14 pm

>73 katiekrug: Both of my girls have a penchant for buying books. I don't know where they got that LOL. Actually Kate uses the Brooklyn PL but seems to use it mostly for audiobooks. For some reason neither of them has a NYPL card for reasons unknown. I should ask.

75Berly
Mar 10, 2023, 5:26 pm

>68 vivians: I Have Some Questions For You is definitely on the radar. Good job posting so many wonderful reviews!! And happy Friday.

76msf59
Mar 11, 2023, 8:18 am

I am so glad you enjoyed The Unseen. I plan on getting to the third in the series later this year. Great news about Now is Not the Time to Panic & I Have Some Questions for You. I plan on getting to both of those in the coming months.

77vivians
Mar 13, 2023, 12:23 pm

Hi Katie, Laura, Kim & Mark! I've had a run of some great books and am very happy about it. I'm listening to Natalie Haynes read Stone Blind (longlisted on the Women's Prize) and it's completely engaging so far.

Also reporting that I saw The Quiet Place yesterday - first post-pandemic movie! I thought it was terrific and very true to Foster. Stunning acting performance by a 13 year old, but equally moving by the adults as well. And I loved hearing the Irish language.

78vivians
Editado: Mar 17, 2023, 12:53 pm



#26 Stone Blind Natalie Haynes
I'd never considered myself a mythology fan, but I've really enjoyed many of the modern rewrites. This is another winner, the story of Medusa (and other gods and demi-gods), told by many perspectives and with humor and pathos. It is above all a story of the abuse of the powerless (mainly women). Haynes narrated the audiobook and was terrific. Women's Prize longlist, well-deserved.



#27 Homesick Jennifer Croft
This is also a Women's Prize nominee, but I read the 2019 form, a thinly disguised memoir with photographs Apparently the 2022 nomination is for a revised version, not yet available in the U.S. Croft is a brilliant translator of well-known works (including Olga Tokarczuk) and originally wrote the story in Spanish and reworked it into fiction. It is written in the 3rd person but the details are Croft's: a younger sister facing a severe illness, herself the youngest student ever to be enrolled at the University of Tulsa, etc. Obviously Croft is a very talented and intelligent person, so it was interesting to read about her early life.



#28 Memphis Tara M. Stringfellow
And other Women's Prize nominee....this one a debut about three generations of a Southern Black family in Memphis, with an emphasis on the women. Not much of a plot, rather the novel focuses on the relationships and the women's struggle and victories over adversities. The non-linear narrative was a bit jarring at times but it was easy to become invested in the characters. Overall I thought it was ok, but not a stand-out and I had some real difficulties with a major plot point: how could the mother return to live in the home where her young child had been raped, with the rapist still living there?

Earlier this week I saw the brilliant revival of "Parade" on Broadway, starring Ben Platt. Fabulous cast, great staging, and a heartbreaking look at a the lynching of a presumably innocent man in Atlanta in 1915. If you're in NY, don't miss it.

79lauralkeet
Mar 17, 2023, 12:58 pm

You're really going after the long list aren't you, Vivian. I enjoy reading your take on each book.

80EBT1002
Mar 19, 2023, 3:01 pm

Vivian, you are roaring through the Women's Prize longlist. Did you purchase them when the list was announced or do you just have amazing library access?

I also loved I Have Some Questions for You and I'm excited to get Stone Blind and The Queen of Dirt Island when it's my turn in the library queues. I'm adding Madonna in a Fur Coat to my wish list.

81ffortsa
Mar 21, 2023, 2:00 pm

>78 vivians: Oh, I'm glad you got to see 'Parade'. We saw it as part of our Encores subscription, and were very glad to hear it was moving to Broadway. I agree that it was wonderful and heartbreaking.

82mstrust
Mar 22, 2023, 11:07 am

I Have Some Questions for You sounds great, thanks for reviewing it!

83vivians
Editado: Mar 22, 2023, 3:21 pm

>79 lauralkeet:, >80 EBT1002: Hi Laura and Ellen - the Women's Prize longlist is one of my favorites, but I'm usually disappointed by how few of the titles are immediately available in the U.S. This year has been an outlier, and all of the 9 I've read so far have been library borrows. I think I cheated on Homesick though, because I read the 2019 memoir rather than the newly revised novel.

>81 ffortsa: Hi Judy - I was so glad to read the positive review in the NYT this week, although I thought Platt deserved more credit. Did Micaela Diamond play Lucille Frank when you saw it? She's only 23 and has a fabulous voice and presence.

>82 mstrust: Thanks for the visit, Jennifer!



#29 No Shred of Evidence Charles Todd
Another good Rutledge, and I'm relieved that Hamish is receding in importance as Ian continues to recover from PTSD. Four young women out for a row in a Cornwall river try to save a drowning man and find themselves accused of murder.



#30 The Dog of the North Elizabeth McKenzie
Women's Prize longlist: a touching, funny and original roadtrip novel about Penny Rush, a newly separated woman in her 30s who has to handle numerous family crises. Lots of quirky characters and twists. I raced through this and really enjoyed it.



#31 Catherine, Called Birdy Karen Cushman
Exactly the YA novel I would have loved as a kid. I picked this up because it's the next subject of a very good books podcasts, "Novel Pairings." Set in 13th century England, the rebellious daughter of a destitute lord thwarts various plans to marry her off.



#32 The Chosen Elizabeth Lowry
Walter Scott longlist. An account of the days after the death of Thomas Hardy's wife Emma, and his grief after discovering that her perspective on their marriage was different from his. A Hardy-obsessive would get much more out of this than I did, as there are constant references to his novels and poems. I read Tess years ago and not much stuck. The writing is expressive and it seems very well-researched but it just didn't connect. After a while I found Hardy to be really annoying.

Heading to D.C. to see the cherry blossoms, and, not coincidentally, two of my kids! :)

84vivians
Editado: Mar 23, 2023, 10:07 am



#33 Hello Beautiful Ann Napolitano
I wasn't a Dear Edward fan but was seduced into reading this one by the NYTimes profile of Napolitano, in which she spent 27 minutes in her Brooklyn lobby (holding her garbage bag) because she was afraid to lose the cellphone call about Oprah's book club pick. She seems like a totally likable person. This family story about 4 sisters in a Chicago neighborhood (meant to mirror Little Women) from the '80s to 2008 took its time drawing me in but I truly enjoyed it. Themes of mental illness, ambition, family and independence were all well conveyed, and although everything wrapped up a little too cleanly I was completely absorbed. Audio narration was by Maura Tierney (Abby from ER!) and she did a good job.

85ffortsa
Mar 23, 2023, 1:15 pm

>83 vivians: Yes, Diamond came with the rest of the cast. She is remarkable.

86BLBera
Mar 24, 2023, 8:54 am

Have fun in DC, Vivian. You are racing through the Women's Prize list - I've only read two so far. I do have some others reserved at the library and a couple on my shelves that I am looking forward to.

87msf59
Mar 24, 2023, 9:30 am

Happy Friday, Vivian. What format did you see The Quiet Place in? That one has been on my watchlist.

88EBT1002
Mar 24, 2023, 10:50 pm

>84 vivians: Okay, adding Hello Beautiful to the wish list.

89Caroline_McElwee
Mar 25, 2023, 7:37 am

>64 vivians: I enjoyed Lee's Stoppard biography Vivian.

90vivians
Editado: Mar 31, 2023, 11:49 am

>85 ffortsa: Hi Judy - I wish the show had a longer run - I'd see it again in a second!

>86 BLBera: I'm trying to get through much of the list before the Booker longlist is announced. I'm glad there are so many already available in the US. I'm following your thread to hear what you think.

>87 msf59: The Quiet Place was playing in a local arthouse movie theater, Mark. I hope you get a chance to see it - it was very true to the book.

>88 EBT1002: Glad to boost your TBR Ellen!

>89 Caroline_McElwee: Thanks Caroline, I'll add it to the list.



#34 The Angel of Rome Jess Walter
Wonderful selection of short stories from a reliable author. The title story, about a young Latin scholar studying in Rome who meets an iconic actress, was the best, but there wasn't a dud in the bunch.



#35 The Hero of this Book Elizabeth McCracken
An autobiographical novel/memoir about the writer's mother. It's a very loving tribute to an unusual woman, and it's a record of dealing with ageing and eventual loss. Lots of humor (at one point she cleans her parents' poorly cared for home and comes up with 4 wafflemakers and 3-year old cheese in the frig) and entertaining dialogue.



#36 When Blood Lies C.S. Harris
This episode takes place in Paris during the Bourbon restoration, and provides the (disappointing) resolution of a long-running mystery in the series. The political climate is fraught as Napoleon escapes from Elba, and as usual it is a centerpiece of the book. Still loving the characters, the historical detail and the settings, even though this is the 17th installment.



#37 These Days Lucy Caldwell
This longlisted Walter Scott Prize historical novel focuses on two sisters during the Belfast Blitz in 1941. Very well-written, evocative and immersive. My copy comes from Book Depository and I'm happy to pass it along.

91katiekrug
Mar 31, 2023, 6:09 pm

Ooh, ooh, I'd love your copy of These Days 😁

92vivians
Abr 3, 2023, 9:30 am

>91 katiekrug: Will send!

93BLBera
Abr 3, 2023, 11:53 am

Darn it, Vivian! >90 vivians: All of these sound good.

94vivians
Editado: Abr 11, 2023, 11:10 am

>93 BLBera: I've had a run of great books lately, Beth, with a few mediocre ones in the latest crop.



#38 Dinosaurs Lydia Millet
I unexpectedly loved this quiet book, about an independently wealthy man who lives a simple life trying to make himself useful to others. It begins with him walking from New York to Arizona after a painful break-up, and continues as he slowly builds a new life. The potential climate disaster looms in the near future but the focus is on the healing nature of meaningful relationships. I really enjoyed this one.



#39 Pineapple Street Jenny Jackson
Lots of hype around this debut novel about a wealthy, entitled WASP family in Brooklyn. No depth, decent writing, no plot other than life changes. Very mediocre and forgettable.



#40 Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone Benjamin Stevenson
Australian thriller, very convoluted but lots of humour.



#41 Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death James Runcie
I'm loving the Grantchester series so I decided to try this series. So far so good, with most of the mysteries in this first installment appearing in the first season.

95mstrust
Abr 12, 2023, 1:08 pm

Elizabeth McCracken is one of those authors that I read years ago and then lost track of, so I'm glad to see she's still putting out good work. I'll look for that one.

96katiekrug
Abr 12, 2023, 1:58 pm

Jenny Jackson is going to be at our local literary festival next month. I expect she'll be a big draw, but the book doesn't appeal to me.

Thanks for sending These Days! I forgot it was coming and was so delighted to get real mail :)

97Berly
Abr 12, 2023, 3:26 pm

>77 vivians: Way behind here, but I am reading Stone Blind right now and loving it!

>94 vivians: Everyone in My Family Has Killed Someone sounds like great fun. : )

98BLBera
Editado: Abr 12, 2023, 9:52 pm

I am so happy to see another fan of Dinosaurs - great comments.

99ffortsa
Abr 16, 2023, 9:28 am

'Parade' is still running, if you'd like to see it again. I don't think it's a limited run.

100vivians
Abr 19, 2023, 3:33 pm

>95 mstrust: Hi Jennifer - I'm always "losing track" of authors so I'm glad McCracken is back on your list!

>96 katiekrug: There was so much hype for Pineapple Street and I'm wondering if much of that was the result of Jackson being an "insider." It definitely was not a hit for me. Hope you enjoy These Days!

>97 Berly: Hi Kim and thanks for posting! I'm usually silent on threads but I enjoy yours a lot.

>98 BLBera: Wow Beth I can't believe how much I liked Dinosaurs considering it's so gentle and slow-moving. I think it deserves a lot more acclaim.

>99 ffortsa: Thanks Judy! I'm debating about what to see when my sister-in-law is in town next week...she's not a musical fan at all. Any suggestions?

101vivians
Editado: Abr 19, 2023, 4:07 pm



#42 Really Good, Actually Monica Heisey
These old bones were certainly not the intended audience for this repetitive, narcissistic novel about the end of a very short marriage. Maggie is 29 year old in post-divorce (after a 2 year marriage) chaos, and has no self-awareness. There are some funny moments (Heisey is a Canadian comedian with a sharp wit) but way too much drinking, self-loathing and embarrassment.



#43 Shaken Loose Ilana DeBare
I read an early reviewer copy of this inventive first novel written by my best friend from 6th through 12 grades! She was always the brilliant one in the bunch (Radcliffe, journalism and non-fiction book early in her career about girls' schools). This was different from anything I've read: a young San Franciscan underachiever dies and ends up in the classic Christian hell and joins a variety of souls seeking an exit. Lots of humor, some theology and a very propulsive read.



#44 A Fever in the HeartlandTimonthy Egan
Excellent non-fiction about the Ku Klux Klan's rise to power in Indiana in the 1920s. The hatred and white supremacy is staggering. It's a fascinating portrait of the conman who believed he could be President, and was well on his way to wealth and political power. The depths of his depravity are shocking, and Egan's research brings it all to light. Highly recommended.



#45 Wandering Souls Cecile Pin
Women's Prize longlist and one of the best short novels I've read. I had trouble getting past the first tragic pages as Vietnamese children are separated from their parents during the "boat people" exodus of the late 70s. An incredibly moving story about grief, inter-generational trauma, and the resilience of refugees in a new world. I'm happy to pass along my copy.



#46 Olga Dies Dreaming Xochitl Gonzalez
A bit heavy-handed, this was a mix of a political diatribe and a Brooklyn novel about gentrification. Olga, a wedding planner, and her brother Prieto, a US congressman, were abandoned by their activist mother who left seeking nationhood for Puerto Rico. There's a lot of interesting history (I lived in Puerto Rico as a child so was very absorbed), and the events surrounding Hurricane Maria were well portrayed. I witnessed the local population's response to the crisis as described in the novel: many of the locals made conscious efforts to depend only on themselves and to reject the useless pander of the Trump administration. This was on the 2022 NY Times best books list and on Obama's recommended reading list.

102weird_O
Abr 19, 2023, 5:56 pm

My Kevlar Kloak didn't work as well as I hoped. Haven't been here since *gasp* February. Because it became evident early on that those pesky book bullets were thicker than mosquitos. So I donned my Kevlar Kloak, believing I have a sufficiently bloated WANT! List. Almost made it to the end. But your best school friend's novel penetrated the Kloak. I see it'll be published July 5, so I'll get me a copy for my b-day, July 9. Thanks. Actually.

103BLBera
Editado: Abr 20, 2023, 1:42 pm

I would be interested in Wandering Souls, Vivian, if it hasn't been claimed.

I was a fan of Olga Dies Dreaming; I haven't read that many books about Puerto Rico, which seems odd in retrospect. Shaken Loose sounds interesting, and I'll add the Egan book to my list as well.

And yes, Dinosaurs deserves more acclaim.

104ffortsa
Abr 20, 2023, 1:56 pm

>100 vivians: We saw 'Leopoldstadt' recently, and it's definitely worth seeing. The other 2 shows we saw recently have subsequently closed. 'Summer, 1976' has a marvelous cast, but we haven't seen it yet. Don't see 'Prima Facie' - just one long rant. Nothing else comes to mind at the moment. The place is littered with musicals I would prefer not to see, although Jim did book us to see Camelot. Not dying to go there.

105vivians
Editado: Abr 28, 2023, 12:08 pm

>102 weird_O: Hey Bill - glad to be of service to your bloated list!

>103 BLBera: On its way, Beth! Glad to share the Dinosaurs love.

>104 ffortsa: We ended up seeing "The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window", which just moved from BAM to Broadway. I thought it was way too long and it had some holes, but Oscar Isaac was great.



#47 The Leo Frank Case Leonard Dinnerstein
Exhaustively researched, fascinating look at the 1915 investigation, trial and lynching. I read it because I had seen "Parade", which was completely true to the case. This also fit in well with the Egan book about the rise of the Ku Klux Klan which I recently finished.



#48 Weyward Emilia Hart
The lives of three British women, all of whom have a strong connection to the natural world, are explored in this very good debut novel. In 1619, 21 year old Altha Weyward is on trial as a witch for the murder of a neighbor; in 1942 16 year old Violet Ayres leads a suffocating life in a crumbling estate; and in 2019 Kate Ayres flees an abusive marriage. They all have ties to a cottage in Cumbria, where eventually their connection is revealed. Very effective use of timelines & different voices. Really good historical fiction.



#49 The Latecomer Jean Hanff Korelitz
Completely absorbing dysfunctional family story which hit all the marks for me: New York in the '70s and '80s (including a fictional but totally believable progressive Walden School in B'klyn, so similar to the NYC Walden which had quite a reputation when I was growing up), art collections, family business, Cornell, and more. It's about triplets born into a wealthy but deeply unhappy family, and how each of them navigates crisis, infidelity and the painful lack of connection each feels. I couldn't put this down.

106vivians
Editado: Maio 8, 2023, 12:29 pm



#50 The Sun Walks Down Fiona McFarlane
Shortlisted for the Walter Scott Prize. The Australian outback in 1883: a 6 year old boy gets lost in a dust storm and the entire community responds over the next seven days. Lots of characters but easy to follow since it's so well written. The landscape is a character as well and is beautifully described.



#51 A Killing of Innocents Deborah Crombie
Slightly disappointing after the very long wait for this latest installment. Crombie, an American, spends a lot of time describing streets, monuments, tube stops and other very specific locations in London - absolutely never-ending. The mystery was ok but, as always, the most enjoyable part is the well-established characters and their trajectories.



#52 What Strange Paradise Omar El Akkad
2021 Giller Prize. A young Syrian refugee is the lone survivor of a shipwreck off a small Greek island. Devastating and worthwhile.



#53 The Bangalore Detectives ClubHarini Nagendra
Good fun - an educated and ambitious young bride in 1920s Bangalore solves a murder with the help of her very liberated doctor husband. Their modern thinking (about women, the caste system) is a little hard to swallow and I found the writing stilted. A better series featuring a lawyer and amateur detective is the Perveen Mistry series, covering roughly the same time period in Bombay.



#54 Animal Life Audur Ava Olafsdottir
A non-linear novel featuring a midwife living in her great-aunt's apartment in the middle of a stormy winter in Reykjavik. There's not much emphasis on midwifery, rather as Dyja reads through her great-aunt's writings she reflects on climate, animal life and extinction, and philosophical musings. Very captivating. Read for book group.



#55 Cursed Bread Sophie Mackintosh
Women's Prize longlist. Inspired by a true story of mass hysteria in postwar France. Elodie, the town baker, becomes obsessed with new arrivals to her small town: an "ambassador" and his wife Violet. They both become objects of Elodie's extreme desires. Half the novel is Elodie's fevered confession addressed to Violet. This didn't work for me at all - it was hard to separate the hallucinations from reality.

107EBT1002
Maio 10, 2023, 7:48 am

Skipping Cursed Bread.

108msf59
Maio 10, 2023, 8:39 am

So many good books...Thanks for the reminder on Angel of Rome. I love Jess Walter. I also want to get to "Dinosaurs" and the new Egan. I am currently listening to "The Wager", the latest by David Grann. As usual, very good.

109lauralkeet
Maio 10, 2023, 9:12 am

Hi Vivian, I hope you had a nice weekend in the city. We visited the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and did a lot of walking. Wasn’t the weather glorious?

110BLBera
Maio 11, 2023, 10:38 am

Hi Vivian - Your thread is one of the reasons I don't read from my shelves. >105 vivians: These all sound good. I have reserved Weyward from the library. I've never read anything by Hanff Korelitz although I have one of hers on my shelves. I will give her a try.

>106 vivians: I liked A Killing of Innocents more than you did. I enjoyed the tour of London. I am waiting for The Sun Walks Down from the library. It sounds like one I will like. Animal Life sounds interesting as well. And I've added the others to my WL. I will probably give Cursed Bread a try but you have tempered my expectations.

111EBT1002
Maio 14, 2023, 1:25 pm

>110 BLBera: I blame Vivian (among others) for this, as well. This is definitely a "dangerous" thread!

Hi Vivian!

112EBT1002
Maio 14, 2023, 1:26 pm

Adding Weyward to my Hold list at the library.

113BLBera
Maio 21, 2023, 7:47 pm

Vivian - I just finished Cursed Bread, and what a waste of my reading time. It didn't work for me either.

114vivians
Editado: Maio 22, 2023, 10:41 am

>107 EBT1002:, >110 BLBera:, >113 BLBera: I'm glad I wasn't an outlier on Cursed Bread. I don't think her earlier novel, The Water Cure. worked for me either.

>108 msf59: Thanks for the Grann recommendation, Mark. I'll add it to my list! I think you'd love all the birding in Dinosaurs.

>109 lauralkeet: Hi Laura! We were back in Brooklyn again this Saturday but stayed in due to the rain. Three toddlers inside....But on Sunday I managed a walk to Central Park with my mother, and that was a huge accomplishment.

>110 BLBera:, >111 EBT1002: Glad to be of service to your TBRs! I can't begin to count how many have been added to mine because of LT.



#56 Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club J. Ryan Stradal
I heard about this on two different podcasts, both of which extolled Stradal's first novel. Multi-generational novel set mostly in northern Minnesota. I didn't like the too-frequent bouncing around of both time perspective and narrator perspective, but otherwise enjoyed it.



#57 All That's Left Unsaid Tracey Lien
Terrific debut novel about a Vietnamese family in the Sydney suburb of Cabramatta dealing with the sudden death of the brilliant teenage younger son. The older daughter, a somewhat rebellious journalist, returns home on a quest to determine the circumstances. It's much more than a mystery, with great insight into an immigrant community and the gulf between parents and their children who more easily navigate their new lives.



DNF The Secret Diaries of Charles Ignatius Sancho Paterson Joseph
I really wanted to like this, as Joseph starred in an all-time favorite series, William and Mary. It was longlisted for the Walter Scott prize. I think I'll give it another go on audio at some point.



#58 Fire Rush Jacqueline Crooks
Women's Prize shortlist. Debut set among the Jamaican diaspora in London in the late 70s, a young woman's hard partying leads to confrontations with disastrous consequences. Themes include police brutality, misogyny, and power. It had some very good parts, especially the beginning, but to my mind it was too broad and tried to accomplish too much.



#59 April in Spain John Banville
I didn't realize that this was an intersection of two series, about Detective John Strafford (who plays a minor role) and pathologist Dr. Quirke. I loved the complicated relationships, the scenes in Dublin and a holiday town in northern Spain, and all the hot-button Irish issues from Catholic orphanages to the IRA. A total pleasure, especially the narration by John Lee.



#60 Maame Jessica George
Another debut novel about immigrants in London, this time a Ghanaian family with a 25 year old daughter who struggles financially and in caring for her father. A very good coming-of-age story.

115BLBera
Maio 23, 2023, 10:01 am

Hi Vivian - And you've added more to my TBR pile! I've heard good things about Maame and I will definitely give Fire Rush a try. I've enjoyed the other books I've read by Stradel, so I will look for his latest. The Lien also sounds like one I would like.

116vivians
Editado: Maio 26, 2023, 11:11 am

Hi Beth - so many good books! I just started the latest Cormoran Strike, 32 hours on audio, and I'm frustrated about not getting to other titles.



#61 Timothy McVeigh and the Rise of Right-Wing Extremism Jeffrey Toobin
Riveting narrative non-fiction about the Oklahoma City bombing and its link to the January 6th insurrection. Very well-researched and a dire warning about gun rights and white supremacy.

117BLBera
Maio 26, 2023, 10:02 pm

>116 vivians: This does sound good.

I haven't read any of the Cormoran Strike books, but I did watch a couple of the shows. Maybe I'll just watch these...:)

118vivians
Editado: Jun 8, 2023, 10:55 am

In happy news: Evvie was born on 5-29-2023, joining older sister Kai. She's grandchild #5, all under the age of 4! Thrilled that everyone is happy and healthy.




119Donna828
Jun 1, 2023, 10:11 am

Hi Vivian. Evvie is a beautiful addition to your growing group of grands. It is going to be so much fun when the five of them get together. You’ve also been doing some serious reading. I may have added a few to my long list of TBRs. ;-)

120vivians
Editado: Jun 8, 2023, 11:01 am

Thanks Donna! Here are the other three: Shai, Rafa and Malka



Can anyone help me with sizing these photos? I'm just copying the image address from my photo gallery. Thanks!

121lauralkeet
Jun 1, 2023, 12:09 pm

Congratulations Vivian and family!! What lovely news.

Photo sizing: add a height or width specification in your html code. I often use width=400 on photos -- you can try that, preview your post, and adjust accordingly.

122katiekrug
Jun 1, 2023, 12:19 pm

>118 vivians: - Congratulations!

123BLBera
Jun 1, 2023, 1:00 pm

Congratulations. Enjoy!

124Berly
Jun 7, 2023, 7:04 pm

Congratulations, Grandma!! What a bunch of cuties. : )

125vivians
Editado: Jun 8, 2023, 10:59 am

Thanks Donna, Laura, Katie, Beth and Kim! Everyone is doing well.

Laura - thanks for your tech help.



#62 The Ink Black Heart Robert Galbraith
Incredibly well-plotted, detailed and imaginative. Cormoran Strike and is partner investigate a mysterious online figure. A very even-handed look at the internet and its perils. It was quite long but that didn't bother me at all.



#63 White Shadow Roy Jacobsen
Second in the Barroy trilogy about a tiny Norwegian island, this time set during the German occupation. Terrific.



#64 Oval Elvia Wilk
A weird novel set in Berlin in the near-future. Anja and Louis live in an experimental community in which they are monitored all the time. A little too much social philosophy and too little plot.



DNF The Five Red Herrings Dorothy L. Sayers
I've enjoyed other Wimsey novels but this one just seemed like a giant timeline.



#65 Black Butterflies Priscilla Morris
Thanks to Beth for sending this....I'd be happy to pass it on to anyone who's reading the Women's Prize shortlist. Civilian life during the siege of Sarajevo in 1992. Zora, a Serbian artist and teacher, remains in the city after her family flees to England. Powerful and haunting, and painful to imagine the brutality and cruelty that existed then and is being repeated in Ukraine. Highly recommended.

126katiekrug
Jun 8, 2023, 12:13 pm

I'm not reading the Women's Prize shortlist, but I added BB to my wishlist, thanks to Beth. If no one actually reading the list claims it, I'd love to have it :)

127lauralkeet
Jun 8, 2023, 8:03 pm

Hmmm, here’s a possible deal: if Vivian wants to send it to me, I can send it on to you when I’m finished Katie. What do you think?

128katiekrug
Jun 8, 2023, 8:38 pm

Works for me!

129vivians
Jun 12, 2023, 8:44 am

>126 katiekrug:>127>128 Done! I'll send it off this week.

130msf59
Jun 12, 2023, 9:07 am

>118 vivians: >120 vivians: Congrats on the new addition! How exciting! And your 5th too! I am jealous. I am still enjoying my first.

>116 vivians: Great news on "Homegrown". It is on my audio list. I loved his book on Patty Hearst.

131vivians
Editado: Jun 26, 2023, 11:45 am

>130 msf59: Hi Mark - The kids are so much fun! I was not given a choice but might have referred them a little more spaced out.

My reading has slowed down over the last couple of weeks but I can report on the following:



#66 The White Lady Jacqueline Winspear
I like the Maisie Dobbs series but this was pretty "meh" for me. Elinor White is a multi-lingual Belgian teenager during WWI and is recruited by the Brits to carry out some espionage work as a saboteur. Her WWII work is briefly noted (perhaps in anticipation of this becoming a series?) and post-war she gets involved in stopping a notorious crime family. Too many parallels to Maisie without any depth.



#67 Ancestry Simon Mawer
Walter Scott shortlist. Ancestral research combined with a fictional account of Mawer's 19th century forebears. Captivating - I loved this.



#68 Who Cries for the Lost C.S. Harris
St. Cyr #18. June 1815, Napoleon has returned from Elba and Sebastian investigates several murders. As always, the plot is complex, with multiple red herrings and appearances from old favorites Paul Gibson, Lord Jarvis and Kat Boleyn.



#69 Racing the Devil Charles Todd
The premise seemed familiar to me: 5 officers on the eve of the Somme promise to meet for a Paris to Nice car race if they survive the war. They do, only to be targeted one by one. Rutledge seems to be operating independently of Scotland yard oversight as he races from village to village. There's a nice overlap with the Bess Crawford series. This series should have ended...but I continue to read the installments as palate cleansers.

132vivians
Editado: Jun 29, 2023, 10:28 am



#70 The Midnight News Jo Baker
Baker is a must-read author for me, and this terrific narrative set during the London blitz did not disappoint. It's a combination of historical fiction and mystery, centered on Charlotte Richmond, the daughter of a high-ranking minister who has broken with her family after a (later-revealed) crisis. The psychological impact of the war combined with the overwhelming losses she experiences nearly destroy her. Highly recommended.



DNF An Immense World Ed Yong
I got about a third through this and found it both captivating and tedious. Hope to get back to it someday.



#71 Sidney Chambers and the Perils of the Night James Runcie
This installment added more details to Canon Chambers' personal life, far and beyond what was included in the Grantchester series. Very enjoyable.



#72 Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont Elizabeth Taylor
Melancholic and moving portrait of aging and loneliness, set in a rather seedy hotel that caters to older people who are just shy of needing nursing home care. Laura Palfrey has uncaring relatives and a strong sense of dignity. Published in 1971, this holds up extremely well.

133katiekrug
Jun 29, 2023, 10:59 am

>131 vivians: - I have the Mawer book on my shelf. Glad to see you liked it!

>132 vivians: - The Jo Baker sounds good, and I've liked everything (3 or 4 novels) by Elizabeth Taylor that I've read. This one is also on my shelf.

Any fun plans/travel for the summer, Vivian?

134lauralkeet
Jun 29, 2023, 11:16 am

Interesting comments on An Immense World. It's one of my current library holds. I'll see how I get on with it.

Have you seen the film adaptation of Mrs Palfrey, staring Joan Plowright? It's lovely.

135Chatterbox
Jun 29, 2023, 2:29 pm

I dread visiting this thread because it's full of books I want to read, feel I should already have read but haven't... I could argue that I'm saving them for a rainy day, but all my rainy days this year have left me unable to read more than brain candy! I did pick up the first volume in the Roy Jacobson trilogy while I was caring for my father in Canada early this year, but that's a prime example of a book that has been sitting staring at me reproachfully since my dad's death.

136vivians
Jun 30, 2023, 1:15 pm

>133 katiekrug: Hi Katie - we're off to the Cape next week, fingers crossed that the air clears. I'll take rain but this soup is horrible. The day we get back we go to DC to move Jo out and into an apartment in Brooklyn. Lots of changes for her: she'll be teaching in a charter school and concurrently getting a masters in education. We have a couple of other tentative trips planned, and one might be a volunteer building trip in Costa Rica if everything works.

>134 lauralkeet: I hope An Immense World holds your interest, Laura. It sounded so fascinating but I just couldn't concentrate enough. I watched the Mrs. Palfrey movie immediately upon finishing the book - so great!

>135 Chatterbox: Suzanne! I'm so sorry to hear about your father. I have been really remiss about visiting threads. I know he was struggling and you were very involved with his care. Sending you (belated, sorry) warmest condolences. Such a difficult thing to go through.

137EBT1002
Jul 2, 2023, 9:51 am

Hi Vivian.

I love your comments about April in Spain by John Banville. I've read one novel by him, The Sea, and loved it, so I bought this one a while back along with The Secret Guests by Benjamin Black who is also John Banville. I believe The Secret Guests is the first in the St. John Strafford series, of which April in Spain is the third? It's very confusing but I plan to read more of this person's work. :-)

Oh, and I recently bought White Shadow. I loved The Unseen. And lovely covers.

138BLBera
Jul 2, 2023, 10:13 am

I'm happy that you loved Black Butterflies; I thought it was a good debut novel. I am looking forward to the Jo Baker. I've started the C.S. Harris series and really enjoyed the two that I read. I am always happy to find a series I enjoy.

139thornton37814
Jul 4, 2023, 9:53 am

Dropping by to say "hi." I'm behind about 3 months so I don't have time for much more than to post a hi and try to start keeping up again from here on.

140vivians
Editado: Jul 12, 2023, 4:06 pm

>137 EBT1002: I was also confused about the two series - Strafford and Quirk, both by John Banville and some written under the name of Benjamin Black. I'll definitely be reading more of both.

>138 BLBera: Thanks again for forwarding Black Butterflies, Beth. So far it has traveled to Laura and Katie, and they enjoyed it as well.

>139 thornton37814: Hi Lori - I'm behind on posts as well! Thanks for stopping by.

Just returned from a great week at the Cape with kids and grandkids, then erased all the vacation relaxation with a 2 day move from DC to Brooklyn for my daughter. Moral of the story: hire movers next time. Too much carrying, too much heat and too much emotion....would have been worth it to pay to avoid. But she's settled and loves the apartment so all good.



#73 In Memoriam Alice Winn
This debut novel got a lot of press when published but I haven't heard anyone on LT discussing it. Two young men at a residential public school in England feel compelled to enlist in 1914. Very powerful descriptions of these spoiled young boys (17 and 18) and their experiences in the trenches and after. They fall deeply in love and suffer terribly for each other. Very raw but moving and tender as well.



#74 The Constant Nymph Margaret Kennedy
I think this was a Backlisted pod recommendation. Written in the 20's, it's about an unconventional family of musicians who live in the Austrian Alps. The younger daughter falls in love with a frequent visitor, another eccentric composer like her father. I enjoyed this a lot and will look for the 1943 movie version. The novel Brother of the More Famous Jack, written in 1982, had very similar themes.



#75 The New Life Tom Crewe
Winner of the George Orwell Prize. I had just listened to "The Rest is History" podcast about Oscar Wilde, so this debut novel was great timing for me. John Addington knows he is gay and is struggling through a troubled marriage. Henry Ellis is married and is repressed. Both are respected scholars and thinkers who collaborate on a revolutionary publication intending to challenge Britain's anti-homosexual laws. This is excellent historical fiction, and is quite graphic.



DNF 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare James Shapiro
Just too much detail for me on vacation. Would like to return to this one.



#76 A Ghost in the Throat Doireann Ni Ghriofa
I wish I had listened to this to take advantage of the Irish pronunciation and the poetry. A beautiful autofiction about a young mother who becomes obsessed with an 18th century poet about whom little is known. Her research and eventual sense of connection lifts up her own life.



#77 The Second Sleep Robert Harris
In the year 1468 a young priest is sent to a remote Exmoor village to conduct the burial of the longtime parish priest. It's best not to know anything else about this extraordinary novel by a superb novelist as any spoilers would significantly detract from a great reading experience. If you've read and liked Harris, this is a treat.



#78 The In Between: Unforgettable Encounters Hadley Vlahos
This non-fiction account by a hospice nurse sounded interesting but it was a little too spiritual for me.

141FAMeulstee
Jul 12, 2023, 5:11 pm

>140 vivians: Congratulations on reaching 75, Vivian!

I hope to read A Ghost in the Throat next month.

142lauralkeet
Jul 12, 2023, 6:54 pm

Ugh, moving. That is no fun at all, especially between two busy cities. I'm glad you got through it, Vivian. I hope she likes her new place and neighborhood.

143brenzi
Jul 12, 2023, 7:05 pm

I listened to A Ghost in the Throat last year, Vivian, and it was wonderful.

144drneutron
Jul 13, 2023, 9:00 am

Congrats!

145BLBera
Jul 13, 2023, 10:04 am

Darn you, Vivian! I just added three more to my WL!

146msf59
Jul 13, 2023, 12:31 pm

Sweet Thursday, Vivian. I also need to get to Black Butterflies. Lots of love for that one. I am also adding The Midnight News to my obese TBR.

147vivians
Editado: Jul 21, 2023, 9:16 am

So nice to see visitors! Thanks Anita and Jim for the good wishes!
>142 lauralkeet: Jo is all moved in and loves the apartment and being in the city. One more week until her teaching job starts, so nerves and excitement are combined.

>143 brenzi: I will try to go back to the audio of that one, Bonnie. I'm glad it worked for you - I think I'll love it.

>145 BLBera: Just payback Beth for all the BBs on your thread!

>146 msf59: Hiya Mark!

I'm off to Costa Rica for 5 days on Sunday - a volunteer trip to a children's village near San Jose where we'll be building a dome structure. No idea what its purpose will be. The trip is organized by my broker-dealer and was offered as an alternative to a Ritz Carlton golf resort! I think I'll be happy with my choice but may regret not having spa privileges. We'll have half a day at the beach so that will be fun.



#79 If I Survive You Jonathan Escoffery
Linked short stories about Jamaican immigrants in Miami and their struggles with racism, financial distress, and family disfunction. Several POVs but most notably Trelawney, whose identity crisis and relationships with his father and brother make up the most of the chapters. This was on last year's NY Times 100 Notable list and is worth it.



#80 The Celebrants Steven Rowley
Nowhere near as fresh and sharp as The Guncle, with way too much dialogue among the five main characters in a "Big Chill"-like setting. Lots of holes (like why do years and years pass with no contact among five college best friends?) Some wit but nothing special.



#81 The Marriage of Opposites Alice Hoffman
Not sure why this was on my shelf but I'd be happy to pass it along. It's the story of a determined young Jewish woman who belongs to a small community of Jewish refugees living on St. Thomas at the end of the 18th century. Her turbulent marriages produce many children, most renowned of whom was Camille Pissarro. Too long but otherwise very good historical fiction.

148katiekrug
Jul 21, 2023, 9:17 am

I just gave up on The Celebrants yesterday. I couldn't make myself care about any of them...

Safe travels!

149BLBera
Jul 21, 2023, 10:32 am

Safe travels, Vivian.

150lauralkeet
Jul 21, 2023, 12:30 pm

Adding my well wishes for your trip, Vivian. I can't wait to hear about it.

151EBT1002
Editado: Jul 27, 2023, 11:37 am

Can't wait to hear about Costa Rica. It sounds like a wonderful short trip.

152vivians
Editado: Ago 1, 2023, 3:22 pm

>148 katiekrug:, 149, 150, 151 Thanks all! It was a great trip: along with 5 other advisors (from all over the country) and significant others we spent 5 days in San Jose. Mornings were spent at a children's village in Tres Rios where we worked on 3 major projects: digging garden beds for each of the small houses (there are 94 kids living there, divided by age into small communities), restoring a run-down building by cleaning and painting to provide an activities center, and building a geodesic dome, again for an activities center. We spent the afternoons at museums, the beach, a chocolate factory, the central market, etc. Food was amazing, people are warm and welcoming. An exhausting but rewarding trip. I didn't have my phone with me during the construction but photos have been promised.



#82 The Half Moon Mary Beth Keane
A marriage in crisis, with two very immature and selfish protagonists. I was too annoyed with both Malcom (the handsome bartender) and Jess (his lawyer wife) to enjoy this very slow burn novel set in a small town in New Jersey. Financial issues, infertility and infidelity - all combine in one week amidst two crippling snowstorms. A secondary mystery plot about the disappearance of a bar customer was distracting and didn't add anything.



#83 The Dry Heart Natalia Ginzburg
This book's opening paragraph has the protagonist asking her husband a question: "Tell me the truth." He doesn't. She shoots him between the eyes. Wow. This Italian novella is about a failed marriage, best read in one sitting.



#84 All The Sinners Bleed S.A. Cosby
The first Black sheriff in a rural Virginia town has to tackle a school shooting in which a favorite white teacher is killed. The plot is propelling, but equally admirable are the back stories of the sheriff, Titus, and his family. A great read.



#85 The Lock-Up John Banville
St. John Strafford combined with Dr. Quirke series. This one was a stretch: an evil German camp commandant is transplanted to Ireland in the 1960s and becomes involved in a conspiracy in Israel. But still engaging.

153katiekrug
Ago 1, 2023, 3:53 pm

Glad you had a good trip!

I am on the holds list for All the Sinners Bleed. I've heard nothing but praise for it.

154BLBera
Ago 2, 2023, 4:57 pm

Your trip sounds amazing, Vivian.

I have been wondering about the new Keane; I loved Ask Again, Yes. It sounds like I can pass on this one.

I've been hearing a lot of good things about S. A. Crosby; I should pick one up.

Not sure about the Ginzburg...

155vivians
Editado: Ago 14, 2023, 12:08 pm

Thanks Katie and Beth!

Two recent bookish events, both terrific. I have a 28 year old RL book group which has been meeting monthly, over zoom for the past three. One of our (only 6) members moved to Park City during Covid, so last week three of us flew out for 3 days of hiking, book talk, great food and more. Visited an indie bookshop (Dolly's, loved it) and even had a session of paddleboard yoga in a cave fed by a hot spring. So much fun!

Friday night I went to an author talk at a new-to-me NYC bookstore, P & T Knitwear (named to honor the current owner's grandfather). Patrick Gale, whose most recent novel Mother's Boy is about the Cornish poet Charles Causley, was interviewed by Alexander Chee. A fascinating and amusing conversation, and a real pleasure to chat with Gale. I've read 3 of his books and found out there is quite a backlist waiting.



#86 The 19th Wife David Ebershoff
Read for book group - a dual narrative about Brigham Young's polygamy in late 19th century Utah and a cult of LDS members (not accepted by the main church) who don't abide by church or civil laws regarding marriage. Good, but I think the non-fiction Under the Banners of Heaven had more impact about this troubling history.



#87 Birnam Wood Eleanor Catton
A slow start but then a gripping story about a group of New Zealand activist environmentalist and the somewhat one-dimensional American billionaire villain. This newish genre is called "eco-thriller." Great characters and terrific writing.



#88 The Sleeping Car Porter Suzette Mayr
I think I heard about this on a podcast - Giller Prize winner. Baxter is a Black man in 1929 Canada, glad to have a job as a porter on a cross-country train. It was ok but very repetitive - if I read one more sentence about Baxter's fatigue and his dry eyes I might have DNFed it.



#89 A Spell of Good ThingsAyobami Adebayo
Booker longlist. As good as her first novel, Stay With Me, which I loved. This character-driven Nigerian novel is about Eniola, a 16 year old boy who is struggling to stay in school after his father loses his job, and Wuraola, a recently qualified doctor who is pushed into marriage by her family. I loved the juxtaposition of their backgrounds, opportunities and struggles. Highly recommended.



#90 The Bookbinder of Jericho Pip Williams
This is a follow-up the The Dictionary of Lost Words but can stand completely alone. Set in Oxford during WWI, it centers around orphaned twin sisters who work in the bindery at the university press. Peggy imagines herself at the women's college, whereas the more vulnerable Maude is content folding her pages. I really enjoyed this and would be happy to pass my copy on.

156BLBera
Ago 14, 2023, 9:32 pm

Your book events sound fabulous and what a great list of recent reads although I may pass on the Mayr.

157vivians
Editado: Ago 21, 2023, 2:31 pm



#91 Tom Lake Ann Patchett
My #1 book of the year. Set in a Michigan cherry orchard during the Covid lockdown, it's a story about relationships, regrets and above all family. Lara is a former actress, telling her three grown daughters about her long-ago summer starring in Our Town and her affair with the now-famous movie star Peter Duke. The prose is wonderful, warm and witty, and the narration by Meryl Street was perfect. Can not recommend this enough.



#92 This Other Eden Paul Harding
Booker longlist. Generations of mixed-race inhabitants on a island just off the coast of Maine live a hard but independent life of tolerance and community. A racist schoolteacher's arrival triggers a series of events that ultimately lead to humiliation and eviction. Inspired by a true story, this is an emotional and impactful novel.



#93 Time Shelter Georgi Gospodinov
International Book Prize winner. A fabulous premise: the narrator (along with the mysterious Gaustine) opens an Alzheimer's clinic in which each patient is transported to a period in the past in which they can recall their lives. Eventually, all of Europe calls for Brexit-like referenda to determine which decade the entire country prefers to live in. The second half went downhill for me and I struggled to finish.



#94 The Past Tessa Hadley
Four adult siblings gather in their grandparents' home in a small English village, ostensibly to decide whether to sell the old place. Troubled relationships, a jarring timeline shift, and not much happens. Overall very "meh" for me.

158BLBera
Ago 21, 2023, 2:48 pm

The Harding and Patchett are both on my list. I had thought I'd reserved Tom Lake at my library, and when I checked to see how many were ahead of me, well, I hadn't reserved it, so now I am about #70 on the list. Lucky that I have other things to read.

Not sure about Time Shelter; I might give it a try...

I am reading The Sun Walks Down, which is wonderful. I heard about it here!

159katiekrug
Ago 21, 2023, 3:24 pm

Vivian, did you listen to the Harding? I have the audio on reserve at the library, and I'm wondering if that format works or if I should wait for a print or Kindle edition...

160lauralkeet
Ago 22, 2023, 7:30 am

I absolutely loved Tom Lake as well, Vivian. Ann Patchett can do no wrong in my book.

161msf59
Ago 22, 2023, 7:41 am

Glad to hear you had a good but exhausting time in Costa Rica. I can't wait to go back, but that will be for the hiking, exploring and the birding. So many good books here...can't wait to get to Birnam Wood and Tom Lake. I own the latter. The Other Eden is on my list too.

162vivians
Ago 22, 2023, 10:41 am

>158 BLBera: Hi Beth - I'd offer to send you my copy but I've already passed it on. Hope there are multiple copies in the system to speed up your waiting time. I'm eager to hear what you think!

>159 katiekrug: Thanks, Katie, I should have mentioned it: I listened to This Other Eden and the mellifluous voice of Eduardo Ballerini. He does a very good job.

>160 lauralkeet: So glad Tom Lake worked for you as well. My RL book group will be discussing it in September, and, since I chose it, I'm hoping they all feel the same.

>161 msf59: Hi Mark - my TBR seems to have exploded, and that's before all the fall books come out. I just can't read fast enough, and those pesky grandchildren get in the way :).

163vivians
Editado: Ago 28, 2023, 12:15 pm



#95 The Romantic William Boyd
This didn't quite live up to Any Human Heart but is still an excellent saga of one man's 80 year life. Cashel Grenville Ross is born in Ireland in 1799 and participates in notable events (Waterloo, the search for the source of the Nile) and meets historical figures (Byron, Shelley, the explorers Speke and Burton). I was glad to have read River of the Gods which described the real-life events of the exploration. Thoroughly enjoyable and immensely readable.



#96 Eyes of the Rigel Roy Jacobsen

Third in the series: Norway after WWII and a terrific examination of collaboration, resistance and loyalty. Ingrid leaves the isolated island of Barroy to search for the young Russian Alexander, the lone survivor of a destroyed German vessel carrying POWs, who washed up on Barroy, and who she nursed to health. Traveling with her infant daughter, she endures hardship and betrayal. Very atmospheric, best read in order.



#97 August Blue Deborah Levy
There's such worldwide acclaim for this author so I keep trying her novels. They just don't work for me. This one is about a former child prodigy pianist, Elsa Anderson, who at the pinnacle of her career is publicly humiliated playing at a concert. She recalls her adoption at age 6 by an influential teacher, and mourns the loss of her unknown mother. She encounters a doppelganger who appears to follow her to multiple countries. Lots of puzzles and few answers.



#98 Farrell Covington and the Limits of Style Paul Rudnick
Perfect light listening for a weekend of chores. Rudnick is an accomplished playwright and humorist and has a terrific knack with dialogue. Nate and Farrell have a 40+ year relationship, filled with joy and tragedy, from college in the 70s, through the AIDs crisis and to the present. A healthy dose of campiness balanced with heartfelt emotion.

164EBT1002
Ago 30, 2023, 5:14 pm

A very belated congratulations on the arrival of your new granddaughter, Vivian.

And, as usual, a visit to your thread adds to my wish list.

165vivians
Editado: Set 6, 2023, 12:07 pm

>164 EBT1002: Thanks Ellen! #6 grandchild is due this month....all under age 4. Just crazy.



#99 Western Lane Chetna Maroo
Longlisted for the Booker Prize. Three young sisters of Indian descent cope with the loss of their mother, the 11 year old narrator through an obsession with playing squash. Their grief is very muted (too much so, in my opinion). Perfectly fine but a surprising choice for a Booker.



#100 The Ski Jumpers Peter Geye
Another sports novel - but this one was much more effective in than Western Lane in capturing the passion and joy of the sport with unforgettable prose. Jon, his brother Anton, and their father, were all competitive ski jumpers in their youth. Now in his late 50s and diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's, Jon, a novelist with a number of successful books behind him, struggles to tell one last story about his family and their past. I loved Geye's earlier multi-generational saga set in the fictional town of Gunflint, and this stand-alone is equally memorable.



#101 Heaven Mieko Kawakami
Translated from the Japanese and shortlisted for the International Booker in 2022. A brutal story of the relentless bullying of two 14 year olds by their classmates. The children find strength in each other and attempt to avoid conformity as they grapple with humiliation and whether they should remain passive. The author attempts to insert philosophical disputes into the dialogue, and these were not credible. I wouldn't recommend it, although it raises interesting questions.



#102 A Kestrel for a Knave Barry Hines
This short novel was featured on an episode of the Backlisted podcast, and used to be required reading in British secondary schools. Set in a Yorkshire mining town in the 1960s, it's the story of Billy Caspar, who is lonely, always hungry, and is picked on by his family, his teachers and other boys. The two bright spots in his life are a kestrel he adopts and trains and a sympathetic teacher. Lots of humor and beautiful descriptions carry this very raw novel. A film called "Kes" was made in 1969 and I look forward to finding it.



#103 Old God's Time Sebastian Barry
A five star Booker nominee for me - I'd be glad to see it win. It's blurbed as a detective story but it's infinitely more: a stream-of-consciousness narrative by a retired policeman haunted by his memories of abuse and his personal tragedies. Tom Kettle, a deeply devoted family man, is 9 months into an isolating retirement when the 40 year-old unsolved case of a murdered priest triggers a floodgate of memories. Brilliant writing, gripping and haunting, can't recommend it enough.

166lauralkeet
Set 6, 2023, 1:18 pm

Vivian, I get so excited when I see a new post from you on your thread, because I almost always come away with one or more books I want to read. Today, it's Old God's Time. I just read about it yesterday and was intrigued but not convinced. You never steer me wrong, so now I've requested it from my library. Thanks a million!

167katiekrug
Set 6, 2023, 5:16 pm

I already had Old God's Time on my library WL but you got me even more interested to read it!

168PaulCranswick
Set 11, 2023, 9:55 am

>165 vivians: You have been having more luck tracking down the Booker Longlist than myself, Vivian.
Would you put Barry's book top of the pile so far?

169vivians
Editado: Set 14, 2023, 12:05 pm

>166 lauralkeet: I'll be eager to hear your thoughts, Laura. I'm still thinking about Old God's Time despite a hectic week since completing it, and for me that's the sign of a really impactful book.

>167 katiekrug: Glad to move it up on your pile, Katie!

>168 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul - I've read 6 of the longlist, and Old God's Time is definitely at the top so far!



#104 The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store James McBride
I've seen a lot of positive comments on LT about this novel and I have to agree. I loved this Depression-era story set in the Pottstown neighborhood of Chicken Hill (Pennsylvania) where Jewish immigrants and African Americans live and work together. There are sinister forces in the town, but ultimately the joy of this novel lies in the goodness of people and in McBride's belief in the humanity of all.



#105 The Detective Up Late Adrian McKinty
Fitting end (I think) to the terrific Sean Duffy series. Duffy and his family are moving to Scotland but he has one last case: the disappearance of a Traveler teenager. Brilliant narration by Gerard Doyle.



#106 In Ascension Martin MacInnes
Booker longlist. Well-crafted science fiction about a Dutch marine biologist (whose childhood with an abusive father is deeply explored) studying algae and the source of life. She is eventually recruited to join a secret space mission. It's accessible despite the heavy-handed techno-babble but is too long and there's very little character building. Overall very "meh" for me.



#107 The Exhibitionist Charlotte Mendelson
This has been on my TBR since it landed on the 2022 Women's Prize longlist. It started as a 5-star read, with easily one of the most despicable characters in my reading history. Ray Hanrahan is a washed-up artist, a narcissist who emotionally abuses his entire family. His wife Lucia, herself an artist beginning to meet with success, seems to be waking up after years of being a semi-comatose enabler. Incidents pile up, and after a while just seemed absurd. There were too many characters with issues including inheritance, neuro-divergency, unwanted pregnancy, past affairs, and more. It became a disappointing and exhausting read.

170lauralkeet
Editado: Set 14, 2023, 1:16 pm

Nice reading update, Vivian. I'm pleased to see your positive review of the McBride. I skimmed past your comments on the Sean Duffy book, but noted it as a reminder to get back to that series (I've only read two so far). I appreciate you taking one for the team with The Exhibitionist. I will happily give that one a pass.

171thornton37814
Set 15, 2023, 2:47 pm

>157 vivians: Tom Lake should be arriving in our library this next week if it didn't show up today while I was off (because I work Sunday).

>169 vivians: I think the McBride book is also on order.

172BLBera
Set 16, 2023, 11:53 am

As always, great round up, Vivian. I've added the McBride to my list. Too bad The Exhibitionist was disappointing. I have it on my shelves, but I guess I won't be in a hurry to pick it up...

173EBT1002
Set 16, 2023, 5:26 pm

I'm about to start reading Tom Lake and very much looking forward to it.

174vivians
Editado: Set 22, 2023, 12:19 pm

>170 lauralkeet: Hi Laura - the Duffy series was a real winner for me. I never read his stand-alonesThe Chain and The Island) but I hear they're pretty gripping.

>171 thornton37814: Thanks for the visit, Lori!

>172 BLBera: Hiya Beth!

>173 EBT1002: Hope Tom Lake works for you, Ellen. My RL book club was unanimous in loving it, but my mother complained to me just last night that she just isn't enjoying it at all. But that just may be 98 year old crankiness setting in.



#107 Slow Horses Mick Herron
Why oh why have I begun yet another series? I'm already hooked after just one and I'm looking forward to watching the miniseries adaptation. Lots of humor and intrigue surrounding a group of disgraced MI5 agents working at "Slough House." Great writing and a terrific story.



#108 Learned by Heart Emma Donoghue
Another historical fiction by one of my favorite authors. This is based on the voluminous diaries of Anne Lister, but focuses on her boarding school days, not her adult life which became the basis of the series Gentleman Jack. It's told exclusively from the point of view of Lister's first lover, Eliza Raine, a biracial orphan whose relationship with Lister changes her life. It's extremely well researched and well-written, but I found it repetitive at times and not enough of a narrative pull to get me completely absorbed.



#109 Normal Rules Don't Apply Kate Atkinson
Another favorite author, another slight disappointment because A God in Ruins is one of my all-time favorite books. It's not Atkinson's fault, rather it's that short stories rarely work for me. Although characters reappeared at times, I found the connections puzzling rather than enlightening.



#110 The Last Ranger Peter Heller
I loved this beautifully written story about Ren Hopper, a grieving and dedicated park ranger in Yellowstone and his neighbor and friend Hilly, a renowned wolf biologist. The nature and animal (especially the wolf packs) descriptions are breathtaking and the stories of locals and visitors were extremely enjoyable. I've read all of Heller's novels and they rarely disappoint.

175lauralkeet
Editado: Set 24, 2023, 6:43 am

Interesting comments on Learned by Heart, Vivian. I didn't realize Emma Donoghue had a new book out, and I really enjoyed the Gentleman Jack series. Too bad the book didn't quite meet expectations. Making note of both Slow Horses and Peter Heller, whom I've not read. Would The Last Ranger be a good place to start? Egads, so many books.

176EBT1002
Set 24, 2023, 6:08 pm

Hi Vivian. I did love Tom Lake. I've had Slow Horses on my shelves for years. And I'm excited to add another Peter Heller to my wish list.

So many books.....

177thornton37814
Set 26, 2023, 9:40 am

>174 vivians: I really do need to try a Peter Heller book. I have him on a list of series to try.

178BLBera
Set 27, 2023, 12:07 pm

I didn't know Atkinson had a new one out. I still have her latest novel to read, so I will wait a while on the stories.

I haven't read Peter Heller yet, so it sounds like I have a lot to look forward to. I do have The Dog Stars on my shelf.

179EBT1002
Set 27, 2023, 7:27 pm

>178 BLBera: I loved The Dog Stars when I read it several years ago.

Hi Vivian!

180vivians
Editado: Set 29, 2023, 2:30 pm

Happy news to report: our oldest son Marcus and his wife Yona welcomed baby daughter Tova, joining her brother Rafa (4) and two sisters Malka (3) and Shai (2). Lots of babysitting in my future!




Rafa, Shai and Malka walking to school

181vivians
Set 29, 2023, 1:41 pm

>175 lauralkeet:, 176, 177, 178 I agree with Ellen - I thought Dog Stars was terrific and it's a great place to start with Heller. His more recent books, The River, The Guide and The Last Ranger are very propulsive nature novels, beautifully written with great plots. I liked Celine and The Painter was well!

182katiekrug
Set 29, 2023, 2:18 pm

Congrats on the new arrival! I think I met Marcus and Yona when she was pregnant with their first? When we saw Barabara Kingsolver in Brooklyn.

Hope all your Brooklyn-based people are safe and dry!

183lauralkeet
Set 29, 2023, 4:58 pm

Aww, what a sweet little babe!

Also sending positive vibes for you and your Brooklyn-based family members, Vivian. Our two are doing okay so far.

Thanks for recommending Dog Stars, I'll add that to my list.

184BLBera
Out 1, 2023, 7:09 am

Congratulations on the new grand baby. Four under five! They must be a busy family. I've had Dog Stars on my "read soon" pile for a long time. Maybe yet this year? I do love a good dystopia.

185msf59
Out 1, 2023, 8:35 am

Welcome Tova! Another beautiful addition. Lots of joy in your life and you continue to read some quality books.
I also loved The Ski Jumpers, Old God's Time and the McBride. I will have to get to The Romantic. What happened to Kate Atkinson? Her last few books have been a letdown, after a pair of stellar novels along with the terrific Brody series.

186vivians
Editado: Out 5, 2023, 12:33 pm

>182 katiekrug: You're right - we met them in Bklyn but I'm not sure they were even married yet.

>183 lauralkeet: Thanks Laura, what a crazy storm, right? I had a lot of trouble getting home from work that afternoon but no flooding for us or the Brooklyn kids

>184 BLBera: Thanks Beth! Busy is one word for it - I'd call it controlled chaos. But everyone is happy and healthy.

>185 msf59: I'm with you Mark, a little disappointed in the latest Atkinsons. But I'll be eternally grateful for her earlier works, and at some point I'd like to reread A God in Ruins.



#111 The Covenant of Water Abraham Verghese
This was really good and I'm glad I read it, but am also feeling slightly resentful at its length and how long it took me (in print and audio together). Set in Karala, India from 1906 to the 1970s, it follows three generations of a Christian family cursed with an unusual drowning syndrome. It weaves medicine and history and remained interesting throughout its 700+ pages.



#112 The Secret Guests Benjamin Black
The first in the Detective Strafford series by John Banville. An entertaining premise: princesses Elizabeth and Margaret, ages 14 and 10, are whisked off to a run-down Irish castle during the Blitz. There's no historic record of this but it seems like plausible alternative history. Entertaining, especially the bumbling IRA villains.



#113 Goodnight, Irene Luis Alberto Urrea
I really wanted to enjoy this, as it's appeared on a lot of LT threads and has wonderful reviews on goodreads as well. Inspired by his mother's WWII Red Cross service, Urrea tells the story of the Clubmobile Corps, women who travelled to the frontlines in Europe, serving coffee and donuts to boost morale. A good mix of humor and hardship, and a terrific author's note at the end, but it fell a little flat for me.



#114 Study for Obedience Sarah Bernstein
Booker Prize shortlist. Well I just did not "get" this and I'm glad it was short. An unnamed narrator journeys to an unnamed northern country to take care of her eldest brother. She doesn't' speak the language and feels ostracized by the locals, all the while describing unusual events including a dog's phantom pregnancy. Stream of consciousness, no dialogue, no plot. Not for me!

187katiekrug
Out 5, 2023, 12:44 pm

I'm about the only person who didn't like Cutting for Stone, so the Verghese has not called to me. When I was in college, one of my classes read My Own Country and he came to speak to us about it, and he was kind of a jerk - very smug and self-important. I think that experience colored my impression of CfS...

I read The Secret Guests a few years ago and liked it well enough. I didn't realize it was the first in a series.

188lauralkeet
Out 5, 2023, 12:50 pm

I was unable to get myself to read Cutting for Stone despite the accolades, and have had the same problem with The Covenant of Water. Something about both books just didn't grab me. With a shorter book I might have tried it anyway, but not when they are that long.

I'm so glad to hear everyone in your family is okay after the storm, Vivian.

189vivians
Editado: Out 20, 2023, 9:56 am

>187 katiekrug:, 188 I read Cutting for Stone when it first came out and it held my interest. It did have a lot of rabid fans, which surprised me. My RL book group loved this new one (although we haven't had our formal discussion yet).



#115 The Last Devil to Die Richard Osman
I'll echo Laura's comments here: an excellent addition to the series, terrific character development and sensitive writing. There's humor, pathos, and a secondary mystery about romance fraud. Loved it.



#116 Have his Carcase Dorothy L. Sayers
A much better Wimsey than the last, mostly because of the added participation of Harriet Vane. Lots of banter and romantic tension, but way too wordy in most places. I had to skip over the code-breaking parts, and the timeline analysis was wearisome.



#117 Yellowface R.F. Kuang
A really incisive critique of the publishing industry featuring two unlikable principal characters. Narrated by Juniper, a struggling writer who has a tepid friendship with rising literary star Athena, this novel deals with racism, "own voices", and plagiarism. Very good, in an uncomfortable way.



#118 Pearl Sian Hughes
Booker longlist. An intense exploration of the grief felt by Marianne, who is eight years old when her mother disappears. It took me a while to become engaged, but by the end I cared deeply for this traumatized girl and her journey. Local folklore plays a large part, as does a ramshackle home which eventually has to be abandoned. Terrific portrait of a loving, supportive but clueless father. Beautifully narrated by Laura Brydon.

190katiekrug
Out 20, 2023, 9:58 am

Great comments on Yellowface, Vivian. You captured it perfectly.

I might have to add Pearl to my list...

191lauralkeet
Out 20, 2023, 12:38 pm

I'm glad you enjoyed The Last Devil to Die, Vivian. I like your phrase, "sensitive writing." Spot on.

192EBT1002
Out 20, 2023, 12:52 pm

Adding my name to the library queue for Yellowface and moving the second in the Thursday Murder Club series up in the pile.

193Donna828
Out 22, 2023, 3:30 pm

>180 vivians: Oh my, another cutie joins the family. More fun all around. Congratulations, Vivian!

I'm another fan of Peter Heller.

194vivians
Editado: Out 31, 2023, 2:47 pm

>190 katiekrug: I thought of you when reading Pearl, Katie, since I know you lost your mother at a young age. I thought this was a moving portrait of grief and its impact.

>191 lauralkeet: Thanks Laura, I remember you enjoyed it too.

>192 EBT1002: Hi Ellen!

>193 Donna828: Thanks Donna, the kids are a lot of fun, and I'm so lucky that they're all nearby.



#119 The Bee Sting Paul Murray
So long, but still good. An Irish family of four, in a post-2008 crash Dublin suburb, are all on the brink of collapse. The family's car dealership is going under, there is infidelity and long-kept secrets, the teenage girl Cass is in the thrall of a best friend who ignores her, and the 11 year old brother PJ is a bit of a geek being targeted by a local bully. All four perspectives are different and engaging. I liked this a lot and will read more of Murray.



#120 Dead Lions Mick Herron
Great follow-up to Slow Horses. Lots of humor as a 30 year old Russian sleeper cell in a sleepy village is activated. Lots of suspense in London's "Needle" which I pictured as the "Shard" building.



#121 The Librarianist Patrick deWitt
DeWitt's novels are often quirky but this one seemed much more conventional than The Sisters Brothers or French Exit. Bob Comet is a 71 year old retired and reclusive librarian in Portland, Oregon. He stumbles upon a senior residence and his life story is told through his interactions with residents. Really good.



#122 The House of Doors Tan Twan Eng
Booker longlist, should have made the shortlist in my opinion. In 1920s Penang, Lesley Hamlyn and her lawyer husband invite Somerset Maugham to visit. She feels compelled to relate her past relationship with Chinese revolutionaries (including Sun Yat Sen) as well as her involvement in a famous murder case. Now I'm eager to read more Maugham, especially The Letter which is about the murder.



#123 The Gate Keeper Charles Todd
A good Ian Rutledge installment, in which the murdered young man has a malevolent family. Much less convoluted than others in the series, and a interesting side plot about rare books.



DNF: The Other Name Jon Fosse
I tried but couldn't get through this. Will reserve hope for a later time.

195BLBera
Nov 7, 2023, 1:44 pm

So many good books, Vivian. I am looking forward to The House of Doors as well as the Murray and the DeWitt. I saw DeWitt at the Portland Book Festival, and he was very funny.

196vivians
Editado: Nov 9, 2023, 10:54 am

Hi Beth - I don't know about you, but my TBR just keeps growing no matter how many I get through! Lucky you to see DeWitt. I really admire his range.



#124 Crook Manifesto Colson Whitehead
Great follow-up to Harlem Shuffle and another terrific look at NY in the 70s (when I was in high school there). Ray Carney returns, even more successful at the furniture store and in real estate, but still planted in the criminal world. This time the criminals include white collar businessmen and politicians. The second section centers around the filming of a "Blaxploitation" movie and the bodyguard Pepper. The third part takes place in 1976 when the city is celebrating the Bicentennial and arson is setting Harlem on fire.



#125 Prophet Song Peter Lynch
Booker shortlist. One of the darkest and most realistic dystopian novels I've ever read, about a newly elected totalitarian regime in contemporary Ireland seen through the eyes of a mother and her children. Eilish's husband, a union leader, is disappeared as the book begins, and her nightmarish ordeal is brilliantly realized. Central questions raised are how much agency does an individual have and when is it time to leave. I'm happy to pass on my copy.



#126 The Vaster Wilds Lauren Groff
In the middle of a harsh winter, a servant girl flees the Jamestown settlement to escape famine and disease. Captivating writing as she braves the elements and learns to provide for herself. Her backstory is slowly revealed through flashbacks. Very well done.



#127 The Fraud Zadie Smith
The Fraud is comprised of three main storylines: the story of Eliza Touchet, a widow, and her life with her cousin-by-marriage and writer William Ainsworth; the Tichborne trial, a case in which a man claimed that he was, in fact, the long presumed-dead baronet Sir Roger Tichborne; and the story of the life of Andrew Bogle, a formerly enslaved man who was one of the witnesses in the Tichborne trial. The timelines repeatedly cross, which I found distracting, and extremely short chapters further break up the narrative. It's quite long and a little tedious at times. Smith read the audiobook very capably. Lots of themes: slavery & abolition, literary success, the limits of talent, feminism, etc. Worthwhile but not an unqualified success for me.

197lauralkeet
Nov 9, 2023, 11:03 am

>196 vivians: Vivian, you're killing me!

My husband bought The Crook Manifesto and then decided he should read Harlem Shuffle first, so he's now doing that. I've been on the fence about both books but you're tempting me.

Every other book in your post is on my library hold list except for Prophet Song, which Ellen is going to send to me. Someday I will actually read them all! I love seeing your favorable comments in advance though.

198vivians
Nov 9, 2023, 11:18 am

>197 lauralkeet: Ha ha Laura - you do plenty of damage to me on your thread! I'll be curious to hear what Chris thinks. Definitely a good idea to read them in order.

Looking for suggestions/recommendations: I'm taking Jo to Mexico City for a few days in mid-December and eager to hear book recs as well as places to see. Thanks in advance!

199katiekrug
Nov 9, 2023, 12:11 pm

If no one has claimed it, I'd love your copy of Prophet Song!

OH! Mexico City! I've been twice and loved it. The food was fantastic :) Both visits were for work, so I didn't have a lot of free time, but the Museum of Anthropology is ah-ma-zing. I also enjoyed the home of one of Diego Rivera's sponsors - had to look up the name - Dolores Olmedo.

200BLBera
Nov 9, 2023, 2:57 pm

I agree with your comments on The Fraud; I'm happy to see Smith try something different, but this wasn't wholly successful. I wonder if I might like the audio version more? I found it very easy to put down.

I loved The Vaster Wilds as well, the atmosphere was so well done, and Groff was able to keep up the tension.

I see Katie has claimed Prophet Song; that is on my list. For some reason, my library does not have a copy.

I didn't love Harlem Shuffle, so I've been hesitating about the follow-up...

201lauralkeet
Nov 9, 2023, 4:15 pm

>200 BLBera: Beth, I'll PM you about Prophet Song.

202EBT1002
Nov 12, 2023, 11:33 am

Hi Vivian. Your description of Prophet Song is spot on as far as I'm concerned.

I'm planning to read The Vaster Wilds and The House of Doors in the next month or two. Both sound excellent.

203vivians
Editado: Nov 17, 2023, 12:14 pm

>199 katiekrug: It's on its way, Katie!

>200 BLBera: Hi Beth - maybe Katie can send it on to you when she's done. Unless >201 lauralkeet: you're getting a copy from Laura!

>202 EBT1002: I've now read the Booker longlist (except one) and I think there were some really engaging and interesting titles. My favorite, Old God's Time didn't make the shortlist, but I'll be happy if The Bee Sting wins.



#128 The Borrower Rebecca Makkai
Thanks to Katie for alerting me to this 2011 debut novel which places Makkai squarely on my favorite authors list. Although the plot strains credulity (a 26 year old librarian goes on a secret road trip with a precocious 10 year old boy because she fears his parents are forcing him to undergo conversion therapy), I went along willingly. Lots of book references, great dialogue and characters. I loved all the first-generation references (Makkai's father was a Hungarian emigre). I couldn't for the life of me figure out how she would end it but she did so very satisfactorily.



#129 So Late in the Day: Stories of Women and Men Claire Keegan
Three short stories about love, misogyny and betrayal. She's a brilliant writer. In the first, Cathal remembers a woman with whom he could have been happy, and the reader's empathy for him is slowly adjusted. Succinct and deliberate writing, so that all three stories seem very complete.



#130 How to Build A Boat Elaine Feeney
Booker longlist. A real surprise since I hadn't heard or read anything about this one. Set in contemporary Ireland, the main character is a 13 year old neuro-divergent boy who tries to find a way to connect with his mother who died at his birth. Two teachers, Tess and Tadhg, mentor him, and their stories are deeply written as well. I really enjoyed this.



#131 Happiness Falls Angie Kim
Although there is a mystery at the center of this novel, the disappearance of a devoted father, it was more of a family drama. The events are narrated by Mia, a twin and one of three children, whose younger brother Eugene is autistic and has Angelman syndrome. He is non-verbal and the Korean-American family is devoted to him and his care. Lots of tangents into behavioral psychology and philosophy. This was absorbing and a good read.

204katiekrug
Nov 17, 2023, 12:34 pm

I'm so glad you liked the Makkai! I still have two of her novels to read, and a collection of stories.

205BLBera
Nov 17, 2023, 12:52 pm

>203 vivians: All of these sound good, Vivian. My list always gets longer when I visit your thread.

206EBT1002
Editado: Nov 17, 2023, 2:10 pm

As others have said, your thread is delightfully dangerous. Adding the Makkai, Happiness Falls, and So Late in the Day to my wish list. I purchased How to Build a Boat in Dublin so I’ll be reading that soon.

207vivians
Editado: Nov 29, 2023, 12:11 pm

>204 katiekrug:, 205, 206 Hi Katie, Beth and Ellen! I had a slow reading week because I hosted a huge Thanksgiving including many days of my small house being fully occupied again. All four kids were home, with spouses, significant others, their kids, nephews, and my 98 yr old mother made it as well. Well worth it, but a lingering cold has now turned into RSV which is no fun.



#132 Essex DogsDan Jones
Solid historical fiction about a band of mercenaries serving in the English army of Edward III in 1346. The author is a historian so the details are all fascinating, but the characters are not well developed and the prose was pretty choppy. Not sure if I'll finish the trilogy.



#133 The Personal Librarian Marie Benedict
For RL book group. Belle da Costa Greene is hired by JP Morgan to build up his art and literary collections at the turn of the 19th century. She never reveals her Black heritage, and "passes" as white in her social and professional life. I would have preferred a biography rather than a fictional account. Very cringey romance.

DNF The Imposters Tom Rachman
I abandoned this because I had to return the library book. I love Rachman and will return to it at some point.



#134 The List Mick Herron
This novella introduces another MI5 agent who's a "handler" for retired spies. Really good, and features lots of Slough House characters.



#135 Dogs of Summer Andrea Abreu
I chose this because I'm going to Tenerife in May (so excited!) and was looking for Canary Islands novels. Not a good pick - a grim and uncomfortable portrait of a childhood friendship. Lots of crass bodily functions and not much else.

208BLBera
Nov 30, 2023, 3:40 pm

Wow, Vivian, for the first time there is nothing calling my name. I tried to read one by Marie Benedict for my book club as well and couldn't finish it. Cringeworthy indeed.

209lauralkeet
Editado: Nov 30, 2023, 5:08 pm

>208 BLBera: I had the same reaction, Beth! Vivian, I normally come away from your roundups with at least one recommendation. You took several for the team there and I appreciate that, too.

I hope you next reads are more enjoyable for you!

210msf59
Nov 30, 2023, 6:09 pm

Sweet Thursday, Vivian. As usual you remain cutting edge on your book choices. You are my hero. I have The House of Doors slated for December. The Bee Sting for January. I still need to get to The Covenant of Water. I also think Prophet Song was incredible. Yellowface & How to Build A Boat have been added to the TBR.

211vivians
Editado: Dez 8, 2023, 12:03 pm

>208 BLBera:,209 Hi Beth and Laura -I definitely had some duds there. Not sure I'll be more successful in adding to your TBRs with this next group!

>210 msf59: Hi Mark and thanks for the kind words! My list never seems to grow shorter!

I'm behind, so just some quick thoughts:



#136 The Late Americans Brandon Taylor
I'm not the target audience for these vignettes about contemporary graduate students in various disciplines at an Iowa liberal arts university. The focus is on relationships, mostly gay, but I couldn't stop worrying about how none of these 20-somethings had future plans or any kind of financial stability.



#137 The Rachel Incident Caroline O'Donoghue
Very enjoyable light read about friendship and growing up. Rachel Murray works in a bookshop as she finishes her English degree at Cork. Her best friend is her closeted co-worker, James Devlin. Funny and well-written coming-of-age novel.



#138 Eastbound Maylis de Kerangal
Although I found this novella about a 20 year old Russian soldier attempting to flee conscription very gripping, I don't understand why it was chosen as on the NY Times top 5 fiction books of the year. It was written years ago (only just translated) but still brought to mind the Ukrainian war. Very descriptive and a palpable sense of danger.



#139 System Collapse Martha Wells
I just let the scienc-y stuff wash over me as I enjoyed this Murderbot installment. Great banter, humor and a good story as well, as poor Murderbot suffers with PTSD.



#140 Day Michael Cunningham
Beautiful prose about a Brooklyn family on 3 separate days: April 5, 2019, April 5, 2020, April 5, 2021 as they experience the pandemic. The focus is on transitions in their relationships. Well worth it.

212BLBera
Dez 8, 2023, 12:47 pm

I read and enjoyed the new Murderbot, and like you, don't fix on the science stuff.

The Cunningham and Eastbound sound good.

So, not as many duds in this batch. :)

213lauralkeet
Dez 8, 2023, 1:06 pm

>211 vivians: That's a more promising list, Vivian. Mostly interested in the Cunningham. I loved The Hours.

214vivians
Editado: Dez 15, 2023, 11:54 am

>212 BLBera:, 213 Phew, glad the most recent reads struck a better chord!

Not sure from whom I got the rec to watch "Happy Valley," but I've been completely drawn in! I stayed up well past my usual bedtime to watch another episode last night. So grim, but so good. James Norton's character is such a far cry from Sidney Chambers in Grantchester.



#141 North Woods Daniel Mason
Linked stories connecting 400 years of history to the land and a house in the western Massachusetts woods. This was chosen as one of the NY Times top 5 fiction books of 2023. I'm not sure I'd rate it that highly, but it was filled with vivid imagery and great storytelling. Characters included an apple grower and his twin daughters, a slave hunter, a mountain lion, seeds, gay lovers, a true crime reporter, and a mother and her schizophrenic son. I've heard that the audio is extremely well done and I might revisit it that way.



#142 The Raging Storm Ann Cleeves
I enjoyed Cleeves' Shetland series and I'm continuing to appreciate the Matthew Venn series, about a detective living and working on the north Devon coast. Jem Roscoe is a legendary sailor and TV personality, and is mysterious about his motives for renting a small house in the fictional town of Greystone. Roscoe's murder brings Venn back to the town where he had been excommunicated from the conservative church of his childhood. Very atmospheric and fast-paced.



#143 Just a Mother Roy Jacobsen
Terrific ending to the Barroy series about a one-family island north of the Artic Circle in the Norwegian archipelago of Lofoten. Post-war shadows remain, particularly concerning collaborators with the Germans. As the outside world changes dramatically, the cycles of island life remain essentially as they were, and Ingrid retains her place as the head of the family. Characters are well developed and fascinating. This is a brilliant series and I highly recommend beginning with the first, The Unseen.



#144 Leopoldstadt Tom Stoppard
Powerful in print as it was on stage.

215EBT1002
Dez 24, 2023, 7:50 pm

>214 vivians: I'll take credit for the Happy Valley recommendation. (I'm not actually sure it was me but I do like that series a lot.)

I just downloaded North Woods from the library. It will be my next read after Yellowface.

216PaulCranswick
Dez 25, 2023, 7:44 am



Thinking about you during the festive season, Vivian

217vivians
Editado: Dez 29, 2023, 12:19 pm

> 215 Hi Ellen - I'm crediting you for Happy Valley and am grateful!

>216 PaulCranswick: Thanks for the good wishes, Paul.

Happy and healthy New Year to all! I just returned from 5 days in Mexico City with my daughter - a terrific trip with so much to see and do. Highlights were: a food tour of street food, Rivera murals, the Castillo museum of Mexican history, a day trip to Teotihuacan to see the pyramids, Frieda Kahlo museum, a Ballet Folklorico outdoor show, and a lot of walking and eating. Being with Jo was also a terrific treat, as was the upgrade to first class on the trip there!



>145 BLBera: The Settlement Jock Serong
This Australian novel was on the Walter Scott 2023 longlist. It's historical fiction about the real life evangelist George Robinson (the Europeans are never named) who was tasked with the forced resettlement of indigenous tribespeople from their home in Tasmania. Cruelty, abuse, disease and forced conversions abound, but Serong's writing is powerful and compelling.



>146 msf59: A House for Alice Diana Evans
Set in London in 2017, this family novel incorporates the Grenfell Tower tragedy to explore themes of culture and racism. The cast of characters was quite large and I had trouble keeping track of the family members. No strong recommendation here.



#147 All The Little Bird-Hearts Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow
Longlisted for the Booker but seems to have been forgotten everywhere. That's a real shame because it is a very worthwhile read. Sunday is a single mother, living with her teenage daughter Dolly in a rural English village. She's autistic and very self-aware, and prefers to live a calm and predictable life. New neighbors Vita and Rollo arrive and woo Dolly with their posh and exciting lives. Very memorable.



#148 Bournville Jonathan Coe
I enjoyed Coe's trilogy beginning with The Rotters' Club and find his writing to be filled with satire and very politically preoccupied. This novel follows multiple generations of a Birmingham family as they experience pivotal moments in recent history, from VE day to Diana's death to Brexit to lockdowns. I particularly enjoyed the family's love for James Bond, the 1966 World Cup, the disdain for Boris and the interracial marriage. Lots of humor and pathos, including the fact that the matriarch Mary is loosely based on Coe's own mother.



#149 The Amazing Grace Adams Fran Littlewood
Recommended by Katie, and a heartbreaking portrait of a broken woman in her 40s as she tries to cope with job loss, divorce, menopause and a more and more estranged teen-age daughter, Lotte. Although it's not as light-hearted as its cover seems to show, I thought it was full of drama and emotion and ultimately optimistic. Thanks Katie!



#150 Real Tigers Mick Herron
One of the disgraced MI5 members of Slough House, recovering alcoholic Catherine Standish, is kidnapped by an ex-mercenary and the twisted political machinations of Regent's Park are in full swing. This series has intricate plots and lots of tension and suspense. Another great installment.

218katiekrug
Dez 29, 2023, 12:22 pm

Glad you enjoyed Amazing Grace Adams! And Mexico City!

219FAMeulstee
Dez 30, 2023, 5:58 pm

>217 vivians: Congratulations on reaching 2 x 75, Vivian!