What are you reading the week of November 16, 2019?

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What are you reading the week of November 16, 2019?

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Nov 16, 2019, 2:58am

Found myself in a bit of a funk this week, so I read Andre Breton's Nadja. I only knew of Breton from the lyrics of a 10,000 Maniacs song, and the novel from a recent NYT crossword puzzle. That's just exactly the sort of coincidence that would have inspired Breton, who was a Surrealist. I enjoyed the book, but consider it fatally shallow.

I've begun The First Signs by Genevieve von Petzinger, a paleoanthropologist who studies the strange geometrical patterns engraved or painted on rocks and cavern walls of ice age Europe.

Nov 16, 2019, 7:14am

I finished The Young Hitler I Knew. This is an account written by an exclusive friend and room mate of Hitler's from 16 to 20 giving an insight into his driven, volatile, egocentric, and imaginary world. It is the primary source for this period of Hitler's life used by all biographers of Hitler.

Editado: Nov 16, 2019, 7:48am

Last week I finished Inheritance by Dani Shapiro, her memoir of discovering a family secret after she takes a home DNA test. Very quick and absorbing read.

Just started Women Talking.

Nov 16, 2019, 7:58am

Enjoying this OverDrive Kindle eBook ~

Too Hard to Handle by Julie Ann Walker

(Black Knights series, #8/spec-ops/Dan Currington/hot romantic suspense)

Nov 16, 2019, 10:58am

It's been a horrid week, in which the gastroparesis I was diagnosed with six weeks ago led to hellish complications I couldn't have dreamed of. I go to see the surgeon on Tuesday, but otherwise I am sentenced to bed rest until 22 Nov. Just to add to the fun of the week, my mother, who will be 89 next month, has been admitted to hospital with a nasty dose of pneumonia, so I'm very worried. Apologies for getting personal on a book site.

So, I've not read much. Can't focus. However, I have made a short inroads into The Chosen by Kristina Ohlsson, a Swedish crime writer, and am enjoying it.

>1 fredbacon: The First Signs is right up my alley; please let me know how you like it.

Nov 16, 2019, 11:33am

>1 fredbacon: Thanks, Fred, for the starter. Agree about Breton's book being a surfacey thing, but it's something I've felt about a lot of Surrealist fiction.

>5 ahef1963: I am so so sad for this trouble in your life. I hope you don't ever feel that it's not appropriate to talk about what needs talking about just because this is a book site. People are important, after all, because books don't read or write themselves.

My week was plumbing hell. I don't care to detail it, I lost nothing irreplaceable, but it was stressful. I did finish The Forbidden Stars. Liked it a lot.

Nov 16, 2019, 1:00pm

>2 snash: did you learn anything about what drove him to become a monster?

Nov 16, 2019, 1:05pm

>5 ahef1963: Oh no! Thinking of both of you.

Picked up about five novels that just didn't take. Usually this means I need some non fiction, so Im continuing with the Le Guin collection words are my matter), and eyes on the bios of Julie Andrews and Sally Fields, oh and Elton John.

Nov 16, 2019, 5:06pm

>7 cindydavid4: In a psychological sense, no. He was already pretty abnormal at 16. There's little speculation as to why he was as he was. The book, though, does illustrate some of the ways his head worked and nature of his aberrations.

Nov 16, 2019, 7:33pm

Ways To Hide In Winter – Sarah St.Vincent
Digital audio narrated by Sarah Mollo-Christensen

A young widow is trying to recover from her own trauma by working in a remote state park deep in Pennsylvania’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Kathleen is fine, she insists, and happy to be left alone. But when a stranger with a heavy accent comes into the store/lodge where she works flipping burgers she is intrigued. He says he’s a student from Uzbekistan, but he’s clearly unprepared for the winter conditions in the park. To Kathleen, Daniil seems shell-shocked, almost terrified, clearly hiding from someone or something.

This is a tightly written, marvelous psychological / political thriller. The characters are skittish, guarded, and yet reveal themselves by their actions. Kathleen and Daniil recognize in one another a certain similarity – both are running from the truth, both profess to need solitude even a way to hide away, and yet both want desperately to confide and reveal their pain and their hopes. They both crave and fear connection. It’s difficult to believe that either of them will ever achieve happiness; their pasts are just too traumatic.

This short novel includes some major issues: domestic abuse, drug addiction, military and political intrigue / espionage. The landscape is practically a character, and adds to the feeling of isolation, loneliness and imminent danger. The reader is kept in suspense to the very end.

Sarah Mollo-Christensen does a marvelous job of narrating the audiobook. I particularly liked the way she voiced Daniil and Martin.

Nov 16, 2019, 8:07pm

Finished Emmas by Jane Austen. Enjoyed it.

Next up is Dispel Illusion by Mark Lawrence.

Editado: Nov 16, 2019, 10:15pm

I am reading Trigger by Antony Melville-Ross, a story of submarine warfare in WW2. The story is tightly written, no time wasted. Melville-Ross has such a good feeling for characters and a wonderful ease of language that he can convey humour and tension quickly and easily with pertinent comments and body language. I'll look for more of his books!

Nov 17, 2019, 12:04am

Finished Life and Limb by Jennifer Roberson. Enjoyed it.

Next up is Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen.

Nov 17, 2019, 11:05am

>5 ahef1963: I hope you feel better!

I'm reading A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. It was such an exhausting week I didn't get to read much, but I think I'll like it.

Nov 17, 2019, 1:43pm

>5 ahef1963: I'm only about five chapters into it, but I'm enjoying it. Von Petzinger is an engaging story teller and science communicator. The subject is fascinating and she has broad grasp of the field. Sorry to hear about your medical problems. If you enjoy the subject, then The First Signs would make an excellent book for when you're recuperating.

Editado: Nov 17, 2019, 3:41pm

Bit of a reading hiatus during a visit from my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter! Finished listening to The Huntress, a Nazi-hunter novel.

Next up for listening is Norwegian By Night by Derek Miller.

Nov 17, 2019, 3:46pm

Werner Gustav Doehner
The last survivor of the Hindenburg disaster has died.

Editado: Nov 18, 2019, 12:03pm

Dave Itzkoff
4.5/5 stars
This is the biography of actor and comedian Robin Williams. Itzhoff follows Robin from his very beginnings to the sad ending of his life. I thought this was a really well written biography and I just flew through it. If you are fan of his, this is a must read!

Nov 18, 2019, 10:41pm

>18 JulieLill: That's very sad. History is ruled by Time's Arrow, but I do feel a bit forlorn as the arrow takes more and more of my familiar world.

Editado: Nov 19, 2019, 12:12am

>17 hemlokgang: Norwegian By Night is very high up on my TBR pile.

I just finished A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet which was pleasant (sometimes too pleasant) but I wasn't unhappy I read it. Now I'm reading Catch and Kill and I'm listening to American is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo which is excellent so far. I'm learning lots about Pilipinos in the US and a sense of what it was like to live in the Philippines during the Marcos regime.

Editado: Nov 20, 2019, 2:10pm

A Warning by Anonymous (iBook)

Anonymous takes the reader on a pedal-to-the-metal ride. I've finished about 10% of the book in record time. It appears to me that the Electoral College has turned out to be a ticking timebomb that unfortunately exploded during this decade.

Editado: Nov 19, 2019, 2:34am

I just finished the absolutely marvelous novel, Virgil Wander by Leif Enger.

Next up for reading is The Translator's Bride by Portuguese author, João Reis.

Nov 19, 2019, 4:36am


I have just finished reading the novel A Time To Kill by author John Grisham.


Nov 19, 2019, 7:36am

After You – Jojo Moyes
Book on CD narrated by Anna Acton.

A sequel to her runaway hit Me Before You, this brings the reader up to date on Louisa and her efforts to heal from the events in the earlier novel. I can’t say much more because that would spoil the first book. (S*I*G*H)

There are no easy, straightforward answers for Louisa, Sam or Lily. Or, for that matter the supporting characters: Mr and Mrs Tryinor, her parents, her sister. These characters have to struggle to find their way, but they find support with one another. Are there missteps? Of course. Who amongst us hasn’t said or done the wrong thing without meaning to harm, insult, detach from another person. In some cases – in the novel as in real life – it’s because we lack the full story, so cannot understand what the other person is really going through. Whom amongst us hasn’t been puzzled and hurt by a comment made by someone else who intended no harm but was ignorant of the facts. While the scenarios these characters are dealing with are not situations I have personally dealt with, their emotions ARE familiar to me.

I have felt frustrated by the bad behavior of an acquaintance, wanting to just divorce myself from that person, and then later feeling ashamed that I reacted that way once I learned the full story, and arriving at sympathy (and even empathy) for their struggles. I’ve been faced with hard choices – do I take the promotion or move on to a new life? Do I forgive and forget, or harbor resentment and anger? Do I walk away from the troublesome situation, or stick it out and try to find a solution?

I did think that the plot got a little too complicated. Didn’t really need the drama with Louisa’s parents, for example. And did she really need such a dramatic crisis (not once, but twice) to wake her up to her true feelings? Still, this was a very enjoyable sequel to the first book and I’m glad to have read it.

Anna Acton does a marvelous job reading the audiobook. She really brought Lily to life in all her teen drama! And I loved the way she voiced Louisa and Sam, too.

Nov 20, 2019, 2:04pm

Enjoyed this audiobook ~

The White Christmas Inn: A Novel
by Colleen Wright

Nov 21, 2019, 4:33am


I have just finished reading the novel The BFG by author Roald Dahl.


Nov 21, 2019, 6:59am

I have read three books in a row that were somewhat disturbing. The latest was American War by Omar El Akkad. Although it doesn't get great reviews from other readers on Librarything, I would recommend it. It is definitely scary....At times I wondered: Why did the author write this sh***? But when it ended, I honestly felt that I had read something profound. Don't expect to like the main character, Sarat, though. Now, I plan to look for something uplifting to read.

Nov 21, 2019, 7:08am

I finished During the Reign of the Queen of Persia which was the story of an extended family on an Ohio farm. Men were dismissed too thoroughly for my comfort although the book was well written.

Editado: Nov 21, 2019, 7:30am

A Warning by Anonymous (4+ stars)

General observations

It is hard to imagine a more dysfunctional workplace than the Trump West Wing. It is a three-ring circus most days thanks to the extremely flawed executive who is in charge. Remembering that this particular workplace is command central for the leader of the free world is very alarming. I am grateful that people like Anonymous continue to inform the public about this malfunctioning administration. Placing country over party should be a no-brainer during a cautionary-tale era like this one.

Nov 21, 2019, 9:00am

Before I Die– Candy Chang

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Change noticed the many abandoned, boarded up homes in New Orleans. One such house was in her neighborhood – a daily reminder of damage, devastation, shattered hopes and despair. She was inspired to do something and got permission from the owner and the city to create a piece of public art. She painted one wall of the house with chalkboard paint and stenciled Before I Die… on it. Then she affixed baskets of chalk and waited to see what people would write. The result was amazing. People poured out their hopes and dreams – some as small as “Kiss Brian,” others as large as “See World Peace”; some as practical as “plant a garden,” others as fanciful as “walk on the moon.”

Her project brought her neighborhood together as people wrote, read, and discussed the responses. When the board filled up, she washed it clean and let people write on it again. Eventually she saw a new owner of the house completely refurbished it and moved in … answering the hope of one person who wrote: Before I die I want to see this be a HOME again!.

Chang’s project drew national and international attention, and other groups or individuals sponsored similar walls in cities around the world – covering 40+ countries on six continents and using 16+ different languages. The locations had populations from as large as 18 million, to as small as 20,000 (Not counting the wall put up during Burning Man Festival where there is no permanent population). The top five most common response over the globe were: 1: Love / 2: Live / 3: Travel / 4: Be happy / 5: Help others.

This is a fascinating look at some of the cities where the walls were placed. This book explores what inspired the sponsors to create a wall in their community, and highlights many of the responses. In some cases, the person completing the sentence was further interviewed with more info given on their background and the meaning behind their brief message.

Nov 21, 2019, 9:05am

Love And Ghost Letters – Chantel Acevedo

Acevedo gives us a wonderful exploration of Cuba from 1933 to 1969, focusing on the life of Josefina, the only daughter of a police sergeant who lives a life of privilege until she meets and marries a poor dockhand, Lorenzo Concepcion.

Josefina is strong-willed at times, and passive at others. She takes charge when defying her father, but acquiesces to the role her husband demands of her. Her steadfast champion is her old nursemaid, Regla, who offers advice and a charm or two to help the girl she raised and loved. At one point in the story, just about at the end of her rope, Josefina asks Regla for a specific spell. My F2F book club had quite the discussion about that episode, as we were fully expecting a different outcome.

Over the course of the novel Acevedo explores love in all its many forms: passionate, chaste and unrequited, within marriage or outside of it, as a teenager, during old age, parental and among friends. The men come across as selfish idiots, the women are frequently long-suffering and passive.

The upheaval within the relationships is contrasted nicely against the revolutions and political changes in the country during this time frame.

Nov 21, 2019, 1:55pm

The State Boys Rebellion
By Michael D’Antonio
4/5 stars
This is the true story of a group of boys and girls from the 1940’s in Massachusetts who were imprisoned in asylums during the time of the rising theories of eugenics. Entry into these schools was not equal and some of these children should not even have been in there. These children were abused, made into laborers, poorly educated and experimented on until they rebelled. Unfortunately, after release some did not do well and had trouble adjusting to outside life but they felt fortunate to be free. The book also talked about the influence that Pearl Buck and Dale Rogers had on opening up the institutions. They kept their developmentally disabled children at home which influenced families of the disabled to do the same thing. This is a shocking book and though I was familiar with the time period, I never realized the extent of the abuse at these homes. Well written!

Nov 21, 2019, 7:46pm

Finished Dispel Illusion by Mark Lawrence. Very slow to start but ended with a bang. Liked it.

Next into the rotation is The Killing Light by Myke Cole.

Nov 22, 2019, 10:59am

I finished Ottessa Moshfegh's My Year of Rest and Relaxation and now I'm reading The Dazzle of Day by Molly Gloss.

Nov 23, 2019, 7:51am

The new thread is up over here.

Nov 23, 2019, 7:14pm

My stepdaughter has a gastric pacemaker for gastroparesis. Ask the doc about it on
your next visit


Nov 28, 2019, 2:19pm

I finished reading The fantastic existential novella, The Translator's Bride by João Reis.

Next up to read is an Early Reviewer selection, a collection of short stories called Tiny Love by Larry Brown.