Vivian's 2021 Reading

Discussão75 Books Challenge for 2021

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Vivian's 2021 Reading

1vivians
Jan 4, 11:30am

Happy New Year to all my LT friends - I'm hoping for a happy and healthier one for everyone.

And welcome to any new visitors! I love to hear what everyone is reading and have widely expanded my reading since joining the 75ers.

I live just north of New York but consider myself a city person since I grew up there. I am an independent financial advisor, a career I came to about 20 years ago and which I really love. I have four grown children, ages 19-35, 2 grandchildren and another one on the way, and have been married to Gary, a retired dentist for almost 38 years (AK!).

2020 Favorites, Fiction

Ducks, Newburyport
The Mirror and the Light
Weather
This is Happiness
Once Upon a River
The Street
Hamnet (#1, by far)
Tidal Zone
The Mercies
A Burning
Shadowplay
Utopia Avenue
Summer
Shuggie Bain
Here We Are

2020 Favorites, Non-Fiction

A Promised Land
The Splendid and the Vile
Spying on the South
Caste

2vivians
Editado: Jan 4, 11:56am



#1 Troubled Blood Robert Galbraith
A very satisfying chunkster for my first read of the year. Cormoran Strike and his partner (business partner, that is) return to solve a 40 year old cold case: the death of a feminist GP in 1974 London. Lots of subplots concerning other cases and personal lives. Yes, it was incredibly long, but I was completely absorbed throughout.



#2 The Less dead Denise Mina
Costa Prize shortlist - a mystery which pales in comparison to the Galbraith. A pregnant GP in Glasgow searches for her biological mother and finds that she was a sex worker who was murdered in a still unsolved case 30 years earlier. Meh for me.

3lauralkeet
Jan 4, 1:00pm

Happy new year, Vivian! It's nice to see you here.

4FAMeulstee
Jan 4, 2:39pm

Happy reading in 2021, Vivian!

>2 vivians: I thought similair about Troubled Blood, now the long wait for the next book...

5thornton37814
Jan 4, 6:22pm

Welcome back! Hope you have a great year of reading.

6PaulCranswick
Jan 4, 8:44pm



And keep up with my friends here, Vivian. Have a great 2021.

7katiekrug
Jan 4, 9:27pm

Yay, you're back!

8msf59
Jan 5, 7:49am

Happy New Thread, Vivian. Happy New Year. Looking forward to following your reading life for another year. I am currently loving Homeland Elegies. Is this one on your radar?

9BLBera
Jan 5, 6:18pm

Happy New Year, Vivian. This year has to be better, right? Once again, I look forward to following your reading.

10brenzi
Jan 5, 7:37pm

Here you are. Happy New Year Vivian

11ffortsa
Jan 7, 11:06am

Happy New Year, Vivian! And happy reading. You're off to a flying start.

12vivians
Editado: Jan 11, 4:55pm

Thanks for all the good wishes - Laura, Anita, Lori, Paul, Katie, Mark, Beth, Bonnie and Judy!! You've all become such great correspondents and I really treasure LT more and more as the world gets crazier.

Slow reading start to the year for me but picking up a little now:



#3 Star of the Sea Joseph O'Connor
Last year I read and loved Shadowplay, and Katie reminded me that I hadn't read this one. Hard to imagine this won't be one of my top ten of 2021 - the story of the 1847 Irish famine played out on a coffin ship's voyage to New York. A mystery novel and historical thriller, very layered and compelling.



#4 Memorial Bryan Washington
NY Times top 100 list. A gay couple living together in Houston: a Japanese-American chef and a Black American daycare provider. Add the complication of one of them flying off to care for his estranged and dying father while his mother moves in with his boyfriend, and that seems like a good enough set-up for any novel. Half of the audio was read by the author and his emotionless and monotone voice was a problem. The sections set in Japan were far more interesting. Overall I was disappointed that it didn't come together very well.



#5 A Bird in the House Margaret Laurence
Manawaka series, book 4. Eight interconnected short stories narrated by Vanessa Macleod, mostly about her family and her developing insights into the adult world. Beautiful prose.



DNF Trick Mirror Jia Tolentino
January "Now Read This" book group pick. A series of essays and I jsut didn't have the patience or interest.



#6 In the Morning I'll Be Gone Adrian McKinty
Best yet in the series. Duffy has to track down a childhood friend, now an IRA explosives expert, who escaped from a high security prison. He also confronts a cold case of a possibly murdered woman in a locked room. Lots of historical events, including pivotal action involving Margaret Thatcher. Great dialogue, humor and action.

13katiekrug
Jan 11, 5:03pm

The McKinty is the next up in the series for me. Maybe February....

14vivians
Editado: Jan 19, 4:29pm

>13 katiekrug: I've been really enjoying this series. McKinty is amusing on Twitter too!



#7 Land of Wolves Craig Johnson
This series has lost some of its shine for me. The snarkiness of the deputy has become tiresome, and the sheriff's agonizing over his mortality is repetitive. Some interesting nuggets about wolves in Tetons and in Wyoming, otherwise very meh.



#8 Luster Raven Leilani
Glowing reviews and lots of mentions on “best of 2020” lists, but it didn’t work for me. Unlikeable people, all acting in ways that were entirely baffling to me. A very detached account of a 23 year old Black woman and her involvement in the open marriage of a much older white man and his successful wife. I didn’t see the appeal of the writing, although it has been cited by many as raw and emotional.



#9 Beheld TaraShea Nesbit
Read for book group, chosen from NYTimes Best 100 list. A well-researched book about tensions among settlers about 10 years after the Mayflower landing, and the first murder in the colony. Told from the perspective of two women, the wife of the governor and the wife of a former indentured servant. A bit of style that bothered me: constant foreshadowing, as in “if only we had known what would happen later that day.” Otherwise good historical fiction, if not captivating.



#10 Big Girl Small TownMichelle Gallen
Costa debut novel shortlist set in a fictional village near the Northern Irish border some years after the Good Friday agreement. The story follows the life of Majella, a young, possibly high functioning autistic (not diagnosed) woman working in a local chip shop who lives with her alcoholic mother. Her father disappeared years before, her uncle was a victim of the "troubles" and her grandmother has just been brutally murdered. We view her world through an extensive list of "things she wasn't keen on." The audio is terrific but I needed to slow it down from my usual 1.5x because of the intense brogue.

15lauralkeet
Jan 19, 9:05pm

I'm glad to see you liked Beheld, Vivian. Yes, there was a lot of foreshadowing (cue the music). Somehow for me that helped to build tension. But I agree she used it a lot.

16thornton37814
Jan 19, 10:01pm

>14 vivians: I agree with you about Beheld. I ended up giving it 4 stars, but it was still a good read in spite of its stylistic problem.

17BLBera
Jan 20, 9:04pm

I'm on the reserve list for Beheld and am adding Big Girl Small Town to my list, Vivian. You're starting 2021 with some great reading.

And happy inauguration day! We can all breathe again.

18vivians
Editado: Jan 22, 2:44pm

>15 lauralkeet: Hi Laura - my book group will be discussing Beheld on Monday and I'm eager to hear everyone's thoughts. Some were a little reluctant to delve into historical fiction; that's a genre I usually love.

>16 thornton37814: I'm glad it was on the NY Times 100 list, Lori, otherwise I hadn't heard much about it.

>17 BLBera: Hi Beth - it feels like an enormous weight has been removed! It was an inspiring day and I really feel hopeful for the future.

No kids at home which is a bit sad, but on the other hand it means I'm not hearing "mom, you HAVE to watch this with me" every night and am therefore reading more!



#11 The Eighth Detective Alex Pavesi
A really inventive and enjoyable novel. A math professor comes up with a theory about crime fiction and then writes seven short stories to demonstrate his theory. Years later, he lives in seclusion and is visited by an editor who would like to reissue his collection. She finds inconsistencies in the stories and she herself becomes the eighth detective.



#12Love After Love Ingrid Persaud
Costa shortlist, set in Trinidad with three main characters: Betty Ramdin, a widow whose husband was an abusive drunk, her son Solo, and Mr. Chetan, a closeted gay man who becomes their tenant. The second half turns quite dark with some heavy themes of domestic abuse, self-harm and homophobia, but overall a great atmosphere a d terrific character development.



#13 Summerwater Sarah Moss
Another winner by Moss, who has become one of my favorites. Linked short stories about a single rainy summer day in a Scottish holiday camp. The lives of 12 vacationers are told in a stream of consciousness as their lives briefly intersect. One chapter, about a young woman’s musings during sex, had me laughing out loud; in another a mother’s inability to enjoy a one hour respite from her toddlers evoked a flood of empathy. Very atmospheric, with a slightly menacing sense throughout. Highly recommended!

19katiekrug
Jan 22, 2:47pm

Hi Vivian! I need to get hold of Summerwater. I have the Pavesi on my Kindle...

20PersephonesLibrary
Jan 22, 4:06pm

Hello Vivian, you have got such an interesting reading list! Despite (or because?) the risk of being shot by many book bullets here I will leave a star here... Happy reading weekend!

21BLBera
Jan 22, 5:23pm

I'm glad you liked The Eighth Detective, Vivian. I found it very original. I'm waiting for my turn with Summerwater and will add Love after Love to my WL.

22brenzi
Jan 22, 8:29pm

Hi Vivian, as usual, lots of book suggestions here. I will definitely look for The Eighth Detective and the new Moss. I have Beheld on my Overdrive list and since historical fiction is my favorite genre I don't think I'll be skipping that one.

23scaifea
Jan 23, 9:40am

Oooh, the Pavesi sounds very good - adding it to my list.

Great reviews!

24kidzdoc
Jan 24, 2:11am

Summerwater is another gem by Sarah Moss. Her ability to get into the heads of ordinary people and make them and their lives interesting and compelling is extraordinary. She's on a shortlist of writers whose books I'll buy as soon as they are published, regardless of the topic, as she has never failed to enlighten and entertain me.

25vivians
Editado: Jan 29, 1:27pm

>19 katiekrug: You need to Katie - it's so good!

>20 PersephonesLibrary: Thanks Kathy, and welcome! I'm not too good at commenting on threads, but I do lurk and will add yours to my list.

>21 BLBera: Always glad to pass along BBs, Beth! Looking forward to your thoughts about Summerwater.

>22 brenzi: Hi Bonnie!

>23 scaifea: Hi Amber - I'm SOOOO enjoying your comments on Katie's threads!

>24 kidzdoc: Darryl! I finally found you on the Club Read thread. I'm an avowed Moss fan too.



#14 Paradise Lodge Nina Stibbe
Light and amusing sequel to Man at the Helm. In 1970s England, 15 year Lizzie takes a job at a nursing home to escape school and her dysfunctional (but loving) family. Lots of humor and great dialogue.



#15 Siege WinterArian Franklin
I think I owe thanks to Katie for this one. Set in 12th century England, there is a civil war over the throne. Dead King Henry's daughter, Mathilda, is trying to establish her ascendancy, and her cousin Stephen opposes her bid. A Breton mercenary saves the life of an abducted child, and together they make their way to Kenilworth Castle. Great historical fiction.



#16 A Fearsome Doubt Charles Todd
Ian Rutledge, #6 and a good entry. Rutledge revisits a pre-war conviction, and questions whether he sent an innocent man to the gallows. There's also the search for the murderer of WWI disabled veterans in the Kent countryside.

26katiekrug
Jan 29, 2:07pm

Oh, I'm so glad you liked The Siege Winter, too!

27BLBera
Jan 29, 4:05pm

I love Ariana Franklin's historical fiction; I wish there were more of them.

28vivians
Jan 29, 4:12pm

>27 BLBera: This was my first Franklin....what titles do you recommend?

29scaifea
Jan 30, 8:57am

>25 vivians: Ha! I'm happy to entertain.

30BLBera
Jan 30, 1:20pm

I think the first one was the best, Mistress of the Art of Death, but all of them are very good, especially if you like historical fiction set in this timeframe.

31msf59
Jan 30, 3:43pm

Happy Saturday, Vivian. Bummer about Memorial. I was looking forward to that one. I think I will try his last story collection instead.

32PaulCranswick
Jan 30, 11:06pm

>25 vivians: I have visited Kenilworth Castle more than a couple of times having studied at fairly nearby Warwick Uni. It is a very interesting period of English history.

33vivians
Editado: Fev 4, 10:41am

>26 katiekrug: Great rec, Katie!

>29 scaifea: Hi Amber!

>30 BLBera: Thanks Beth, on to the list it goes.

>31 msf59: I think I’m a minority opinion about Memorial, Mark. It’s gotten some rave reviews. I know you're a Hochschild fan - I really recommend Half the Way Home.

>32 PaulCranswick: I continually add to my list of must-see places, in Scotland, Ireland, well all over the world really! Kenilworth is the latest- how great that you’ve been there Paul!

Two feet of snow provided me with several days at home. Of course I could have been doing work, but just didn’t.



#17 A Swim in A Pond in the Rain George Saunders
I took several Russian lit classes in college and was really glad to revisit these authors. The audio narrations of the stories were provided by terrific actors (including Glenn Close, Nick Offerman) and the analytical parts were read by Saunders himself. The book is essentially a writing class provided by Saunders, who dissects seven 19th century stories in terms of the craft of writing itself, as well as the reader’s interpretation. I’m not a short story reader and some of the analysis seemed a little too deep for me, but overall a very good read.



#18 Half the Way Home Adam Hochschild
And…I’m not a frequent memoir reader but this one was a five star read for me. Hochschild is one of my favorite non-fiction authors (the unforgettable King Leopold’s Ghost and the equally gripping Spain in our Hearts are two of the best), and this view into his early life in a family of great wealth and privilege is moving. Highly recommended.



#19 Dear Miss Kopp Amy Stewart
The sixth book in the series and the first one to be told exclusively through letters. Excellent historical research places Norma in France in 1918, near the front with her pigeons; Constance chasing saboteurs as the only female agent in the nascent FBI; and Fleurette on stage, entertaining soldiers on bases throughout the country. A great sense of time and place, with historical notes at the end to add context.



#20 Gun Street Girl Adrian McKinty
Slightly weaker than the last terrific installment, but still a great mix of fiction and historical events. Set in 1985 during the failed Anglo-Irish “Agreement”, DI Sean Duffy investigates a double murder and suicide. Stolen missiles are the central mystery, but Duffy’s self-deprecating personality, his love of music and his difficulties in his social life are even more entertaining.

34thornton37814
Fev 4, 7:07pm

>33 vivians: I enjoyed Dear Miss Kopp when I read it.

35Chatterbox
Fev 4, 8:13pm

Glad you're enjoying the McKinty books -- I really relished the series, but his other books haven't grabbed me, yet.

I spent January re-reading (or listening to, rather) Ariana Franklin's "Mistress of the Art of Death" series, so that I can read the posthumous book cowritten by (I think) her daughter, Death and the Maiden.

You have reminded me that I MUST read Hamnet. For now, I'm still stuck on comfort re-reading and nonfiction.

36BLBera
Fev 4, 8:21pm

I LOVED Spain in our Hearts, Vivian and will look for this memoir.

37brenzi
Fev 5, 6:01pm

Oh King Leopold's Ghost.....soooo good Vivian. I may have to look for Half the Way Home.

38EBT1002
Fev 6, 12:18am

Hi Vivian! I've found your 2021 thread now that it is February. 🙄

I'm a Sarah Moss fan deciding whether to order Summerwater and Ghost Wall. I do still have a copy of Signs for Lost Children on my TBR shelves.

39ffortsa
Fev 7, 9:54pm

oh dear, lots of BBs. I had already noted the Sauders, but I didn't know about the fourth McKinty. I really have to move some books along.

40vivians
Editado: Fev 17, 3:52pm

Absent on my own thread - but happy to have visitors!

>34 thornton37814: Hi Lori - according tot he epilogue Stewart is planning to contiue the series, so that's good news.

>35 Chatterbox: This was my first Franklin, Suzanne, but I'm glad to hear there are more waiting for me.

>36 BLBera: >37 brenzi: I'm a huge Hochschild fan, Beth and Bonnie, although the last one (Rebel Cinderella) fell a little short of his others.

>38 EBT1002: Hi Ellen! I've got a slow moving thread, so no worries!

>39 ffortsa: You're so right Judy, just too many books.



#21 When We Were Orphans Kazuo Ishiguro
I took this one from my shelves where it had been languishing for years. It was mesmerizing, with the intensity coming from a narrator with a distorted perception of his life and his world. Christopher Banks is an Englishman whose childhood in the International Settlement in Shanghai is interrupted by the disappearance of his parents, both of whom are involved in different facets of the opium trade. He is sent to England where he becomes a prominent detective (although it’s unclear whether his success is real or imagined). He returns to Shanghai in 1937 to finally solve his parents’ case, by which time the city is war-torn and under invasion. Lots of strands, some never resolved, but underlying it all is an indictment of colonialism and the damage it caused.



#22 The Survivors Jane Harper
Another winner from this Australian author. A coastal town in Tasmania is reeling from the tragic events of a storm that took three young lives. Twelve years later, a murder reveals secrets in a very slow burn. Very atmospheric (tides, caves, beach) and great characters. I especially liked Kieran, who had to overcome dep psychological damage from his part in the storm, and returns to Evelyn Bay as a young father. Great on audio.



#23 The Duke and I Julia Quinn
Totally Katie’s fault (and my daughter Jo's as well, as she is insisting I watch the adaptation, which of course I can’t do without first reading it.) Completely enjoyable.



#24 Irish Country Family Patrick Taylor
These are getting a bit boring, and a bit tone-deaf to the sectarian troubles brewing in the 1960s. A very saccharine picture of village life, but quite enjoyable to listen to while commuting.

41katiekrug
Fev 12, 11:57am

Hi Vivian! I love your book roundups.

I have the Ishiguro on my shelf, and you are making me want to move it up the To Read ladder...

The Harper sounds good. I'll have a look at the library for it.

And yay for the Bridgertons! Are you going to keep reading the series? There is a reveal at the end of the first TV season that isn't revealed until Book 4 - just FYI.

42vivians
Editado: Fev 17, 4:29pm

>41 katiekrug: Hi Katie and thanks! I'll definitely finish the Bridgertons before watching. Ishiguro has a new one out this month but I haven't heard any details yet.



#25 Crooked Heart Lissa Evans
My first Evans, thanks to Beth. A totally different and wonderful take on London during the Blitz. A 10 year old preternaturally intelligent orphan is foisted as an evacuee upon a mercenary and unscrupulous con artist. A relationship develops between these two misfits, never sentimental or sugary but very heartfelt and life-affirming. I really enjoyed this one.



#26 Heresy S.J. Parris
Great start to a series. Giordano Bruno, an excommunicated Italian monk, makes his way to Oxford where he is drawn into the religious wars of 16th century England. He becomes embroiled in a series of grisly murders. Great companion to the Arthur Phillips and CJ Sansom books set during the same time.



#27 Network Effect Martha Wells
Lots of action in this very amusing S.F. - a real palate cleanser. The murderbot is as cranky and sarcastic as in previous novellas, and the reappearance of ART (Asshole Research Transport) is fun. I got a little lost in some of the action and the technical details of the rogue security unit, but that didn't spoil the enjoyment.

43msf59
Fev 17, 5:54pm

You got me with Half the Way Home, Vivian. Thanks. It is officially on the list. I also think I have When We Were Orphans on shelf. It might be time to move it up in the stacks.

44scaifea
Fev 18, 7:37am

I'm adding Crooked Heart to my list - it sounds really good!

45BLBera
Fev 19, 8:59am

I'm so glad you loved Crooked Heart, Vivian. She has two other novels based on those characters. I've read Old Baggage, which is also very good.

I think I have Heresy on my shelf. It sounds like another one to move to the top of the pile.

46vivians
Editado: Fev 22, 1:29pm

>43 msf59: Both of those were great reads for me, Mark. I know you're a Hochschild reader and this memoir was worthwhile.

>44 scaifea: Beth's doing, Amber, and it was good!

>45 BLBera: My library has Old Baggage in audio so I'll probably get to that one soon.

Anybody interested in a copy of The Survivors by Jane Harper? I listened to it on audio and forgot I had ordered a hard copy from Book Depository. Happy to pass it on. (It was great.)



#28 Rain Dogs Adrian McKinty
Another solid Sean Duffy mystery, with lots of historical references (Muhammed Ali's visit to Northern Ireland, the Troubles, the Jimmy Savile scandal). A financial journalist is a presumed suicide in the courtyard of Carrickfergus Castle in a classic locked room mystery. Lots of humor, as usual, as well as changes in Duffy's personal life.



#29 The Yield Tara June Winch
Recommended by Books on the Go podcast and winner of the 2020 Miles Franklin award. Three threads: in current days a young woman returns to Australia from the UK for the burial of her beloved grandfather Albert; Albert himself through his compilation of a native language dictionary; and a 1915 account of a German missionary who ministered to the aboriginal population. Very impactful story of a family, a people, and the loss of land, heritage and identity.



#30 The House on Vesper Sands Paraic O'Donnell
Satisfying Victorian mystery with three memorable protagonists: Gideon Bliss, a Cambridge theology student dropout, Inspector Cutter, a caustic but effective police officer, and Olivia, a bicycle riding investigative journalist. The plot is a bit dubious (I'm not a fan of supernatural explanations) but I enjoyed the atmosphere of 1890s London, the pervading spiritualism of the time, and the humor.

47vivians
Editado: Fev 22, 1:33pm

And one more -



#31 The Ladies in Black Madeleine St. John
My next RL book group choice. A nice diversion about a department store in 1950s Sydney. Very light, still trying to figure out why it was chosen. I think there's a movie adaptation. Enjoyable but a bit weightless - a one day read.

48BLBera
Fev 22, 1:40pm

>46 vivians: These all sound good, Vivian. Darn!

49EBT1002
Fev 22, 6:51pm

Oh, I see that you read the first in the Bridgerton series. Glad to hear it was enjoyable because I loved the Netflix production!!

And I have The House on Vesper Sands on hold at the library since it was nominated for the Edgar award. :-)

I'd take that copy of The Survivors if no one else has claimed it yet.... :-)

50brenzi
Fev 22, 7:16pm

Oh Vivian, I listened to the audio of Old Baggage and it was excellent.

The Yield is actually available right now on Overdrive so maybe I will get to it soonish.

51vivians
Editado: Mar 1, 10:27am

>48 BLBera: Glad to hit you with a few recommendations Beth!

>49The Survivors is on its way Ellen! I wish I could part with a few more as I'm totally out of room.

>50 brenzi: Glad to hear that Bonnie - I'll probably get to Old Baggage soon and I think my library has it on audio as well.



#32 The Soldier’s Curse Thomas Keneally and Meg Keneally
Suzanne recommended this series a while ago and I finally got the audio. Superb historical fiction, set in 1825 Port Macquarie, a penal colony for second offenders in New South Wales. Hugh Montsarrat is an educated convict clerk, working for the colony commandant and on his best behavior awaiting his release. A crime occurs and Montsarrat is drawn in. (A plot point overlap with my all-time favorite show, Doc Martin, only increased the enjoyment.) Absolutely pitch-perfect, from the setting to the characters to the plot.



#33 The Mermaid of Black Conch Monique Roffey
A fictional Caribbean island is the location for this Costa Prize winning novel about mythology, colonialism and power. A mermaid is captured by US fishermen and rescued from their truly evil clutches by David Baptiste, a local fisherman. He gradually learns her story as she transforms into a woman. It took a little while but eventually I was completely drawn in, particularly by one of the subplots of a white landowner and her deaf son. All in all a very unusual and compelling book.



#34The Diviners Margaret Laurence
The last, and in my opinion best, of the Manawaka series. A fiercely independent orphan, Morag Gunn’s story is told through her memories and through the stories of her ancestors. I imagine the feminism had even more weight when published in 1974.

52katiekrug
Mar 1, 11:04am

Hi Vivian! I'll have to have a look for the Keneally series...

53lauralkeet
Mar 1, 12:40pm

>51 vivians: I totally agree with you about The Diviners, Vivian. Your comments evoked an emotional response, a memory of having loved this book. Sure enough, I rated it 5 stars. Here's something I wrote in my review:
Near the end of The Diviners, Laurence makes a powerful emotional connection back to The Stone Angel’s Hagar Shipley that was absolutely perfect, and that’s when I knew for sure I was reading a 5-star book.
I admit I don't remember exactly what that was, but I do remember being strongly affected by it.

54BLBera
Mar 1, 11:06pm

I want to start the Laurence books, Vivian. The Mermaid of Black Conch also sounds good.

55EBT1002
Mar 3, 11:08pm

>51 vivians: The Survivors arrived today, Vivian. Thank you!

"I wish I could part with a few more as I'm totally out of room." Well, by all means, if I can be of assistance, I'm happy to help. LOL.

56vivians
Editado: Mar 5, 2:57pm

<52 My library doesn't have the series so it was an Audible credit for me. I haven't checked if the rest of the series is available...



#35 Monogamy Sue Miller
NY Times 100 best of 2020 list. Contemporary story about a 30 year marriage, infidelity, grief, adult children. Nothing at all special, in fact fairly boring.



#36 Daughters of Erietown Connie Schultz
The author is a former journalist, now married to Senator Sherrod Brown (my hero after he berated Rand Paul on the Senate floor re mask wearing), with a great Twitter presence. In some explicable way this felt like a slew of novels I read in high school: multi-generational family battles teen pregnancy, alcoholism, adultery, etc. I think the goal was to present the life of a blue collar family in the 50s and 60s and how radically changed the next generation became. It wasn’t bad, just underwhelming.

DNF The Tunnel A.B. Yehoshua
NY Times 100 best of 2020 list. Premise sounded good: a civil engineer faces the very beginning of dementia, but I just couldn’t get into it.



#37 The Viscount Who Loved Me Julia Quinn
Bridgerton #2, predictable and fun.

Currently listening to the 7th Ian Rutledge and reading Signs for Lost Children.

57brenzi
Mar 5, 6:35pm

Hmmm you seem to be on a parade of fairly mediocre books Vivian. Been there. Except for The Diviners of course. I have the last two in that series to read yet and I keep going back and forth considering whether to reread the early ones. Hope your next read is a really good one.

58BLBera
Mar 5, 6:46pm

Oh, I had high expectations for the Connie Shultz novel, Vivian. I loved her memoir ...and His Lovely Wife, one of the best political campaign memoirs I've read.

59Chatterbox
Mar 5, 9:53pm

There's a sequel to Crooked Heart out there, with links to Old Baggage as well. She's a new discovery (Lissa Evans), and I'm about to settle down with another of her novels that I've yet to read, about the BBC in wartime.

60PaulCranswick
Mar 5, 11:26pm

>56 vivians: I have the Roffey and the Laurence on the shelves and it looks like a made a good choice.

Have a lovely weekend, Vivian.

61vivians
Editado: Mar 10, 1:40pm

>57 brenzi: Your good wishes led me to some wonderful reads, Bonnie! Not included below (because I'm not quite finished) is a terrific Sarah Moss that I'm really enjoying as well.

>58 BLBera: The Schultz book was fine, Beth, maybe I sounded too critical. But nowhere near as good as the two by Lissa Evans.

>59 Chatterbox: I'm so impressed with her, Suzanne, and will definitely read her others.

>60 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul!

Just got a vaccine appointment for Friday so I'm thrilled.



#39 A Cold Treachery Charles Todd
Ian Rutledge #7. Rutledge investigates the murder of a farming family in the Lake District during a 1919 blizzard. The same tropes as before: Rutledge’s PTSD, his ghostly companion Hamish, and his consistently jealous and ineffective superiors. The writing in this series often seems overly descriptive and repetitious, but I enjoy the characters and psychological insights.



#40 Nomadland Jessica Bruder
Bruder is an experienced journalist who explores the subculture of retirees surviving on the edge of poverty, living in vehicles and traveling around the country to find low-wage paying jobs. A damning indictment of US social policy, including the lack of safety nets and our horrendous health system.



#41 Old Baggage Lissa Evans
I was enjoying this novel immensely, but when I belatedly made the connection to Crooked Heart (I was totally dense and didn’t realize until close to the end) I loved it even more. Set in 1928 London, it tells the story of a militant suffragette who is at loose ends following the movement’s victory. It all worked for me: the writing, the humor, the feminist history and the brilliant characters. Beth’s recommendation and greatly appreciated!

62brenzi
Mar 10, 8:14pm

I loved Old Baggage Vivian. I actually listened to the audio. Now I have to get to Crooked Heart.

I felt the same as you about Nomadland.

63BLBera
Mar 10, 9:13pm

I'm so glad you loved Old Baggage, Vivian.

Nomadland sounds like one I would like as well.

Congrats on getting your jab scheduled.

64PaulCranswick
Mar 13, 9:53pm

>61 vivians: The book by Jessica Bruder looks like quite a vital one, Vivian. These things shouldn't be happening in the 21st Century.

65vivians
Editado: Mar 14, 9:20pm

>62 brenzi: I really loved both Evans. I hope you enjoy Crooked Heart too, Bonnie!

>63 BLBera: First vaccine done! What an enormous relief. Thanks again for the Evans recommendations.

>64 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul - Nomadland was quite an eye opener for me. We had an RV when the kids were little and we took many trips all over the country, but it never occrurred to us that for many people it was a way of life out of necessity rather than choice.

Has anyone read any Val McDermid? She was a guest on the "Backlisted' podcast referred to below, and she sounded like someone I'd like to read!



#42 Miss Pym Disposes Josephine Tey
Set in 1946 and not a conventional murder mystery since the actual incident only occurs ¾ of the way through the novel. A best-selling author of a pop psychology book visits an old friend who is the head teacher at a women’s physical education college. Lots of excellent slow build-up and subtle social psychology. I read this after listening to an episode of the “Backlisted” podcast, which did its usual great job of delving into an author’s biography and works.



#43 The Secret Lives of Church LadiesDeesha Philyaw
Shortlisted for the National Book Awards. A series of short stories focusing on the lives of black women, all of whom have complicated relationships with families, faith and communities. Very good, even for a non-lover of short stories like me.



#44 Signs for Lost Children Sarah Moss
I have yet to read a Moss novel that isn’t brilliant. This one is quite a bit longer than the others I’ve read, and I was disturbed to find out it’s actually a sequel. I never read books out of order, but this could easily have been a standalone. Fabulous story about an unusual married couple in 1880s England. Alethea (Ally) is a newly minted medical doctor with an interest in mental health, and Tom is an engineer who travels to Japan to oversee the building of lighthouses. Absolutely fabulous, and I will eagerly look forward to Bodies of Light.



#45 Exciting TimesNaoise Dolan
Women’s Prize longlist, a debut novel from a young Irish writer frequently compared to Sally Rooney. 22 year old Ava leaves Dublin and moves to HongKong, where she takes a position as a poorly paid English teacher. Her life eases considerably when she meets Julian, a wealthy banker, and moves in with him. It’s a very transactional relationship that eventually grows on them both. Complications arise when Ava falls in love with Edith. I thought this was a bit tedious at times, and I felt very little for any of the characters. My Australian book bloggers at “Books on the Go” just completed a podcast on this entry and were mixed as well.

66msf59
Mar 15, 8:33am

Hi, Vivian. I will have to get to the book Nomadland. I recently saw the film and it was excellent.

67brenzi
Mar 17, 9:21pm

Hi Vivian, Miss Pym has been sitting on my shelf for ages so you've given me a good reason to finally read it. And the Sarah Moss....how am I supposed to resist that? I've only read Ghost Wall which I liked but found the father's physical abuse hard to take, so I'd like to read more of hers and this one is readily available on Overdrive so....

68vivians
Editado: Mar 22, 2:47pm

>66 msf59: I haven't seen the movie yet, Mark, but I've heard Frances McDormand is amazing.

>67 brenzi: Hi Bonnie - I'm a real Sarah Moss fan and have not been disappointed in any of her novels.



#46 Prophecy S.J. Parris
Entry #2 in in the Giordano Bruno series finds the excommunicated monk caught up in the 1583 "great conjunction" during which astrological alignments foretell the end of Elizabeth's reign. Bruno acts as a spy for Francis Walsingham as he has temporary residence in the French embassy. Great intrigue among the Catholics promoting Mary Stuart, the Scots who see James as Elizabeth's heir, and the French and Spanish who are eager to benefit from the rifts. I also love the atmosphere of 16th century London, particularly the use of and dependence on the Thames.



#47 The Book of Eels Patrik Svensson
Read after an intriguing interview with the author on NY Times Book Review podcast. It alternates between a memoir of his Swedish boyhood and his relationship with his working class fahter, and a scientific exploration of eels and what we do and do not know about these creatures. Fascinating narrative, with references to Aristotle, Freud (who studied eels at age 19!), migration patterns, climate change and more.



#48 Restoration Olaf Olfsson
Set in Tuscany at the end of WWII as the Germans retreat north. A British expat, estranged from her husband and managing a large tenant farm, gets caught up in Nazi art theft. The narrative alternates beween her story, told in 1st person, and that of an Icelandic art restorer who flees Florence and makes her way to the villa. The shift every chapter was disruptive but overall I really enjoyed the plot and the prose and would recommend it.

69katiekrug
Mar 22, 2:51pm

Hi Vivian!

I had the eel book on my mental "Maybe" list, thanks to someone else around here who read it last year and liked it (don't ask me who, as it's all I can do to remember what's on my mental "Maybe" list :) )

I have a copy of the Olfsson sitting on my shelf....

70vivians
Editado: Mar 24, 2:13pm

Hi Katie - thanks for being a faithful commenter!



#49 Olive, Mabel and me Andrew Cotter
Light and entertaining read. Cotter is a Scottish sports commentator whose videos about his two gorgeous labs went viral at the beginning of the pandemic. He capitalized on these with this memoir, which is full of humor, great storytelling, beautiful photos and warmth.



#50 Police at the Station and They Don't Look FriendlyAdrian McKinty
McKinty continues to deliver a riveting storyline combined with developing characers, historical details and a great sense of place. Sean Duffy has moved on in his personal life but remains stymied by politics and corruption. A low-life drug dealer is murdered by a crossbow, and the very cultured "fenian peeler" is on the case. Each one I read is the best so far.

71lauralkeet
Mar 24, 8:02pm

>70 vivians: I love Olive and Mabel! I was afraid the memoir might be a bit too hokey. I'm glad you enjoyed it, Vivian.

72brenzi
Mar 24, 9:18pm

>70 vivians: I sent those videos to everyone I knew because they were so delightful Vivian. I'll have to look for the book.

73vivians
Editado: Mar 31, 4:54pm

>71 lauralkeet: Well.....it is a little hokey but still enjoyable. Plus, you have a lab, right Laura?

>72 brenzi: I thought so too Bonnie - they were definitely a bright spot last year. He's made a few more but the first ones were just so inventive that they made more of an impression.

Re Adrian McKinty series: last week he tweeted (in a friendly manner) that any reader who didn't realize that his Sean Duffy book titles were quotes from Tom Waits songs must be pretty dense.....I clearly fall into that category but now at least I understand the source!



#51 Driftless David Rhodes
Thanks for this rec, Bonnie , what a gem! Rural Wisconsin and great characters, including Amish carpenters, a young repairman mourning his long deceased wife, two sisters, one of whom is wheelchair-bound, a pastor struggling with her faith, a corrupt agribusiness cheating local farmers and finally the best of all: July Montgomery, who somehow brings them all together. Highly recommended.



#52 Klara and the Sun Kazuo Ishiguro
Read for book group and still mulling this one over. The more I read interviews and reviews, the more I am appreciating it. So many issues are explored: sentient artificial robots, inequality and genetic engineering, loneliness and grief. Very worthwhile and the kind of book that will benefit from discussion.



#53 No One Is Talking About This Patricia Lockwood
I wasn't going to read this longlisted title from the Women's Prize because I was not a fan of her memoir, Priestdaddy. But it was available on overdrive and is very short. It's billed as fiction but seems very memoir-like. The first half is stream of consciousness by a narrator who is obsessed with the internet. It reads like a stand-up routine: lots of zingers and snark, most of which didn't appeal to me. The second half is about the birth of her niece, who has tragic birth defects (apparently autobiographical). I didn't get the humor of the first part and found the two sections totally at odds.

74lauralkeet
Mar 31, 7:41pm

Yes we do have a lab, Vivian. He's 13 now but just as dopey as always. That's definitely why the Olive and Mabel videos appeal to me.

I'm glad to see you enjoyed Driftless. Bonnie & Mark got me with that one, too. I've been reading mysteries during our move but I think I'll be ready for Driftless when I finish my current read.

75brenzi
Mar 31, 8:50pm

I'm so glad you loved Driftless Vivian. I always worry that I love some books too much or much more than anyone else ever will lol.

I went back and forth about reading the Lockwood book. The reviews have made me think hmmm, this sounds like it's way out of my comfort zone but the reviews also made it sound like it's amazing. Plus it was available to everyone with no wait at the NYPL but I'm glad I held off because your view of it certainly clinches the fact that I'll never read it.

76thornton37814
Abr 2, 9:25pm

>73 vivians: Klara and the Sun arrived in the last week or so at the library. I think I noticed it had already been checked out when I looked at the shelf late last week.

77vivians
Editado: Abr 5, 6:26pm

>74 lauralkeet: Driftless was definitely a hit for me, Laura. I hope you get to it soon (not like you don't have anything on your plate these days!)

>75 brenzi: Hi Bonnie - the Lockwood was not for me but you're right, it has gotten great reviews and is all over the bookish press. I didn't like Priesdaddy either, and was certainly in the minority with that one.

>76 thornton37814: My book group is meeting this week, Lori, and I'm eager to hear what everyone thought about Klara and the Sun. I've been listening to Ishiguro interviews and reading reviews (now that I've finished the book), and there's lots of acclaim. Overall I think critics are loving it, but slightly less than some of his other works.



# 54 Consent Annabel Lyon
Women’s Prize longlist. Two seemingly unconnected sets of sisters, each pair having one responsible sibling and one irresponsible one. Events eventually bring them together in a very dark and twisty way. Every male character is despicable, and every tragic issue is covered: grief, death, death of a sibling, death of a parent, death of a child, car accident, infidelity, substance abuse, alcoholism, suicide, toxic relationships. A bit over the top but kept me reading.



#55 An Offer From a Gentleman Julia Quinn
Bridgerton #3 – a Cinderella retelling and just as much fun as the first two.



#56 Detransition,Baby Torrey Peters
Women’s Prize longlist. Not a plot driven novel, rather a character study of two trans women: Reese, who has had multiple horrific relationships and desperately wants to be a mother, and Amy/Ames, a detransitioned trans woman. I knew nothing of the transgender world and this certainly was an education. Very overwritten in parts and an incomplete ending, but certainly an eye opener into a very different world.

78katiekrug
Abr 6, 8:30am

I must say I love that you're enjoying the Bridgerton books so much. The next one is a favorite of mine :)

79thornton37814
Abr 6, 7:20pm

>77 vivians: Before I ordered it, I had one of the other librarians look. We both agreed we had an audience for the book--not just because of Ishiguro's name, but also because it sounded "different." Sometimes AI books don't work with our folks, but we thought this one would.

80EBT1002
Abr 7, 7:15pm

I think I have read a couple Val McDermid novels way back when. She is on my retirement reading list. :-)

81vivians
Editado: Abr 8, 11:30am

>78 katiekrug: I’m doing about one a month – now really looking forward to the next one!

>79 thornton37814: Hi Lori – see my comments below about book club reactions. I’m hoping to see more LT thoughts about it.

>80 EBT1002: Thanks for the Val McDermid response Ellen! I’m trying to decide where to start as she has a long list. As will you in retirement!!

Last night our book group had one of our most engrossing book discussions ever about Klara and the Sun. We’ve been together for more than 25 years and typically spend at least half the time (even on zoom) in a catch-up chat. This time we only discussed the book: everyone had thoughts, insights and questions, and we would have gone on even later if we didn’t all have day jobs. It made me think even more highly of Ishiguro and this latest work.



#57 Trio William Boyd
Set in Brighton in 1968, this novel focuses on three characters, each of whom is also involved in some kind of trio. Talbot is a middle-aged, closeted film producer, Anny is an American movie star with a history of troublesome relationships, and Elfrida is an alcoholic novelist who hasn’t written anything new for more than ten years. The tumultuous times and political upheavals provide a great backdrop to the disastrous film production that brings all three together. Enjoyable and light, but not as mesmerizing as Boyd’s great work, Any Human Heart.



#58 My Policeman Bethan Roberts
This is currently being filmed and will star Harry Styles – my daughter’s intense current obsession. Since I know we’ll be seeing the movie, I had to read it first. Second novel in a row to take place in Brighton, this time in the 1950s and present day. Punishing times for gay men and a fairly predictable story of love, regret and betrayal. Ok but nothing great.



#59 The Dictionary of Lost Words Pip Williams
Longlisted for the Walter Scott Prize. I loved this debut novel and would recommend it unreservedly. In Oxford in 1887, Esme is the young child of a lexicographer working on the first edition of the ambitious project that would become the OED. She collects words, first as an entry into her father’s world, then eventually as she realizes that women’s words were ignored and rejected from publication. This novel is filled with fabulous characters, set against the backdrop of the suffrage movement and WWI. A bit slow to start but perfect otherwise, it brought me to tears several times. Definitely a five star read for me.

82katiekrug
Abr 8, 11:41am

The Dictionary of Lost Words is going onto The List.

83BLBera
Abr 8, 12:35pm

Hi Vivian: I'm waiting to get Klara and the Sun from the library. It sounds like maybe it would be a good one for my book club as well.

The Dictionary of Lost Words is definitely on my list. I will check my library.

84brenzi
Abr 8, 6:16pm

And I'd be adding The Dictionary of Lost Words if it wasn't already on my Overdrive list Vivian. Still, good to get verification from one of my most reliable recommenders😉

85scaifea
Abr 9, 9:55am

Chiming in as another one adding the Williams to my list - it sounds really good!

86EBT1002
Abr 14, 8:03pm

I just put The Dictionary of Lost Words on hold at the library. :-)

87vivians
Editado: Abr 16, 4:23pm

Woohoo - glad to hit you with a book bullet, Katie, Beth, Bonnie, Amber and Ellen! Now I just hope you'll all agree!

Reading slowed a bit after a 4 day headache after the 2nd Moderna. But it was totally worth it and I'm thrilled and grateful.



#60 Their Finest Lissa Evans
I loved both Old Baggage and Crooked Heart and this didn't quite measure up. Still good though....It's about the making of a propaganda film in London duirng the blitz, about an incident that allegedly took place during the Dunkirk withdraal. Memorable characters, all the more so after watching the 2016 movie with Bill Nighy, a great cameo by Jeremy Irons, and Sam Claflin.



#61 Reasons to be CheerfulNina Stibbe
Third in the trilogy, amusing but not much else. Set in 1970s London, 18 year old becomes a dental assitant and is surrounded by characters much more unlikable and less intelligent than she is.



#62What Angels Fear C.S. Harris
A new series, thanks to LT, and one with great promise. The backdrop is 1811 England and the beginning of the Regency. Sebastian St Cyr, Viscount Devlin, is amurder and must exonerate himself. There's a tangled web of deceit and lies, encompassing French spies, sexual peccadilloes, blackmail and murder. At times his numerous escapes from constables seem to stretch reality, but the book reads very well, with a fast moving plot and well drawn characters.

88lauralkeet
Abr 16, 8:31pm

Oh yay another Sebastian St Cyr fan! I just read the third one. I’m really enjoying the series.

89BLBera
Abr 18, 11:31am

I also enjoyed Their Finest, Vivian. It may have been the first one I read by Evans, and I loved the humor. I need to watch the film.

I must continue with the St. Cyr series; I've read the first two.

90vivians
Editado: Abr 26, 4:46pm

>88 lauralkeet: I think you're the one who convinced me to start St Cyr! So thanks!

>89 BLBera: The movie is pretty good, Beth, although it skips a whole subplot (Edith, Mme Tussaud's, and her marriage to Arthur) which I really enjoyed.



#63 The Consequences of Fear Jacqueline Winspear
The latest Maisie Dobbs, focusing on intelligence work and the resistance in France in 1941. It's a solid entry in the series, a good mix between the development of Maisie's personal life and her involvement in Special Operations. A ten year message runner witnesses a murder during a particularly bad night of London bombing, and Maisie investigates.



#64 A Bell in the Lake Lars Mytting
A Norwegian best-seller, more appropriately named "The Sisters Bell" there. In 1880, a pastor in a small, isolated village decides to sell off the medieval Stave church to raise funds for a new church. A German architect is sent to supervise the deconstruction for the relocation to Dresden. A village girl with a "restless mind" and a familial conneciton to the church, its bells and its history, struggles between preserving tradition and making a new life for herself. I loved this vivid and emotional book and am glad to hear it's only the first of a trilogy. I've visited Stave churches in Norway and that ony increased my enjoyment.



#65 A Long Shadow Charles Todd
Ian Rutledge #8 - still solid. Rutledge is sent to a small village to investigate the bow-and-arrow shooting of a village constable. He realizes the incident is connected to the disappearance of a young girl, just two years earlier. Rutledge is also being stalked by a mysterious stranger who leaves shell casings as clues. Each book follows a formula: Rutledge is sent out of London, is greeted with suspicion by locals, sleeps little and encounters an obvious red herring, meets an intriguing young woman, and eventually solves the case with the constant interference of the ghost of Hamish. This is a long series so unless something changes I may have to give it up.

91Chatterbox
Abr 26, 5:47pm

LOL re your analysis of the Charles Todd mysteries -- you nailed it. luckily for the author(s), I started reading these early and have read new offerings as they appear, but wow, the formula becomes annoying. I find it more problematic with the other series, featuring a WW1 nurse.

I liked Klara and the Sun, and was especially smitten by the writing and Ishiguro's ability to capture Klara's distinctive voice. It's fascinating, but not the best of his that I've read, in terms of plots/themes. Still, a good-ish Ishiguro novel is still better than 90% of other books out there, so....

Consider me another book bullet recipient of the rec. for The Dictionary of Lost Words. Oddly, I had just stumbled across it while looking at lists of new books.

I got freebie hardcovers of both the Annabel Lyon and William Boyd novels, so of course I haven't cracked the covers. My right wrist still doesn't like holding things for long, so I'm turning more and more to my Kindle. Sigh. I hate this aging thing.

92brenzi
Abr 26, 8:05pm

A Bell in the Lake has been on my list since Donna loved it last year Vivian. I'm going to have to push it up the list I guess.

93BLBera
Abr 26, 8:37pm

I need to get back to Maisie Dobbs, Vivian. I'm a bit behind.

I'm currently reading Klara and the Sun.

94vivians
Abr 29, 12:17pm

>91 Chatterbox: Hi Suzanne! Sorry to hear of your wrist woes. I still don't have a Kindel, but once in a while read on my laptop.

The more I think about Klara and the Sun, and the more Ishiguro interviews I read/listen to, the more I appreciate it.

>92 brenzi: I'm sure I read about it on Donna's thread too, Bonnie. I've read that it's just the first in a trilogy but I'm not sure if the other two have been translated yet.

>93 BLBera: Looking forward to your comments, Beth!

I just want to keep track of upcoming releases by some of my favorite authors later this year:
Amor Towles
Andy Weir
Anthony Doerr
Donal Ryan
John Boyne
Ann Cleeves
Sarah Winman

95katiekrug
Abr 29, 12:20pm

>94 vivians: - Oh, Sarah Winman has a new one coming out?!?! Good to know.

Hi Vivian :)

96vivians
Abr 29, 12:22pm

Hi Katie! Yup - Still Life out in November.

97katiekrug
Abr 29, 12:28pm

I've put it on my watch list. I still have A Year of Marvellous Ways to read...

98BLBera
Abr 29, 7:29pm

Lauren Groff and Jhumpa Lahiri also have new ones coming...

99vivians
Editado: Abr 30, 11:09am

>97 katiekrug: Hmmm, I don't think I read that one. On it goes!

>98 BLBera: I guess there's no such thing as "catching up!"



#66 PiranesiSusanna Clarke
I'm one of the few people who didn't like her last tome, and I'm not a fan of magical realism, so I hadn't intended to read this Women's Prize shortlisted fantasy. But it's short, and once I got over being annoyed at the capitalizations and deliberate chaos, it was not a bad read (although it remains completely confusing to me). Piranesi lives in a watery labyrinth and never seems to question his past or his imprisonment. There's a lot of ambiguous imagery and symbolism, and the resolution is equally mystifying.



#67 The Exiles Christina Baker Kline
19th century Australia - 3 women forced into exile. Two are accused of crimes in England and are sent for transportation, the third is an aboriginal girl adopted and then abandoned by the British governor. (The latter is based on a historical figure.) Multiple perspectives, solid historical fiction.



#68 Remember Lisa Genova
Genova's first non-fiction after writing numerous novels, all centering on brain diseases and malfunctions. Written in a very accessible and personable style, this is a mix between science and self-help. She is the long-time girlfriend of a business associate, so I've met her and listened to her presentations numerous times - the first time with Katie at an author forum!

100BLBera
Abr 30, 2:43pm

I haven't been convinced that Piranesi is for me, either, Vivian, and your comments don't reassure me... I'll probably give it a try when my turn comes.

Oh, Louise Erdrich has a new book out later this year as well. :)

101vivians
Editado: Maio 4, 3:06pm

>100 BLBera: Thanks for the Erdrich update!



#69 The Walking People Mary Beth Keane
Keane's first novel, about the "traveller" community in Ireland and the immigration of three young people to NY in the early 1960s. It's way too long but otherwise a really compelling family saga, filled with cultural and historical references.



#70 Romancing Mr. Bridgerton Julia Quinn
#4, best one yet, great story about Penelope, Colin and the Mrs. Whistledonw secret. I think I'm redy to watch the series now.



#71 When Gods Die C.S. Harris
Very strong second installment of the St. Cyr series. A plot to depose the Prince Regent George IV in 1811 results in another murder for Sebastian to investigate. This time family secrets as well as political machinations are involved. One slight reservation, same as in book #1, is that there are too many murderous confrontations and unlikely escapes.

Next up Human Croquet (my only unread Atkinson) and on audio How Beautiful We Were.

102BLBera
Maio 4, 11:22pm

I'd try the Keane; I loved Ask Again, Yes.

103vivians
Editado: Maio 11, 11:26am

I'm going to read Fever at some point soon too, Beth.



#72 How Beautiful We Were Imbolo Mbue
Hihgly recommend this novel about a fictional African village caught between an American oil company polluting the land and a corrupt dictatorship which benefits from the arrangement. The viewpoint shifts among several characters, often with an oral story-telling effect.



#73 Human Croquet Kate Atkinson
A little weirder than her later novels (of which I'm a huge fan), and somewhat exhausting to keep straight. Isobel Fairfax is coming of age in a 1960s British suburb, once a feudal estate and home to Shakespeare. Her family is hugely dysfunctional, and she experiences weird time warps. I think I missed a lot and might try a reread at a later time.



#74 The Lamplighters Emma Stonex
Good premise, disappointingly executed. Three lighthouse keepers in 1972 Cornwall disappear, and 20 years later a number of survivors try to piece together what happened.

104BLBera
Maio 11, 3:34pm

I loved the Mbue as well, Vivian and had a similar reaction of Human Croquet. I think I'll pass on The Lamplighters.

You are almost at 75! Have you chosen a special one?

105BLBera
Maio 11, 3:35pm

I have Fever on my shelves, so that will probably be the next Keane I read.

106Chatterbox
Maio 13, 12:41pm

The upcoming Donal Ryan novel is excellent; I think his best after The Thing About December.

107vivians
Editado: Maio 18, 3:00pm

>104 BLBera: 105 Woops- I almost didn't pay attention to the 75 milestone, Beth, but luckily I read a good one! Thanks for noticing. Fever is on my list too.

>106 Chatterbox: How great that you've read it already, Suzanne! I'm really looking forward.



#75 The Galaxy and the Ground Within Becky Chambers
Another home run - the 4th in the Wayfarer series. Four distinct alien species with incredibly different physiologies are stuck together for a week in a small habitat dome with no communications to the outside. Hugely optimistic while exploring themes such as genocide, cultural and physical differences, resource scarcity, colonialism, etc. Loved it.



#76 Memories Live Here Marc Sheinbaum
Read because the author is an acquaintance who will be hosting a zoom event to discuss the book. Three brothers, a deceased mother's mysterious diaries, and mixed in with dysfunctional family drama is a tech thriller about a revolutionary AI project. A little stilted and choppy but an ok read.



#77 An Irish Country Welcome Patrick Taylor
Another meandering tale of a medical practice in a small Irish town in 1969. A little more attention is paid to the Troubles, but it remains a cosy village drama with an engaging cast of characters. A new trainee is added to the mix - an upper crust Cambridge graduate.



#78 Riviera Gold Laurie R. King
Mary and Sherlock mingle with Picasso, White Russian aristocracy, Zelda and Scotty, and others on the Cote D'Azur and in Monaco in 1925. The mystery involves Mrs. Hudson and her past. Not enough Sherlock in this one.

108FAMeulstee
Maio 19, 4:19am

Congratulations on reaching 75, Vivian!

109BLBera
Editado: Maio 19, 7:50am

Hi Vivian - I need to get back to the Chambers books. I liked the first one in the series.

Is that a new one by King? I thought I had read all of them, but this doesn't sound familiar.

110drneutron
Maio 19, 12:29pm

Congrats!

111vivians
Editado: Maio 25, 1:03pm

So happy to share some wonderful news: our son Gideon and his wife Monica just had their first child, a daughter named Kai. Everyone is healthy! Covid rules still in effect at our hospital so we won't be able to see her until she's home - we're staring at photos for the moment.

>108 FAMeulstee: Thanks for your good wishes Anita!

>109 BLBera: Hi Beth - I'm not a science fiction aficionado in general but I love love love the Chambers series.

>110 drneutron: Thanks Jim!



#79 Sacrilege S. J. Parris
This historical fiction series is a winner for me. #4 is set in 1584 London and Canterbury, where religious division and politics mix with a murder mystery. Bruno's old flame reappears and is about to be charged with and hanged for the death of her husband. The cult surrounding the Thomas Becket relics and its place in an attempt to restore Catholics to the crown is a fascinating addition. Lots of historical detail.



#80 How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps her House Cherie Jones
Women's Prize shortlist. I can't explain why this contemporary story set in Barbados which is unremittingly filled with abuse, misogyny, poverty and drug trafficking was such a gripping read. But it was and I recommend to those with strong constitutions. Lala is raised by her grandmother, who, despite her faith and her own crippling history, cannot keep Lala safe. At 18 Lala is married to a gangster/psychopath and is pregnant. Mia escapes the island's poverty by marrying a wealthy Brit, and faces tragedy when she returns as an entitled tourist. Great language and atmosphere, but very violent.



#81 Four Lost CitiesAnnalee Newitz
Read for book group. Four ancient cities abandoned because of natural disaster, climate change/poor urban planning, overcrowding, etc. Most interesting was the anaylsis of archeological methods and the amount of guesswork and false theories involved. I'm not sure how much will stick with me (I felt as if I should be taking notes) but this was interesting in part because it focused on the daily life and culture of the common people.



#82 The UnmournedMeg KeneallyThomas Keneally
This series is maintaining its high quality. The now ex-convict Hugh Montsarrat and his best friend and housekeeper return to Paramatta. As a clerk in the colonial governor's office, he is tasked with solving the gruesome murder of a prison warden. Really wonderful.

112katiekrug
Maio 25, 1:12pm

Congrats on the new addition to the family!

113brenzi
Maio 25, 6:23pm

Best wishes for your new grandchild Vivian. How wonderful!

114BLBera
Maio 25, 9:05pm

Congratulations on your new granddaughter, Vivian. I hope you get to see her soon.

As usual you've added to my WL. Four Lost Cities sounds like one I would like. I'm not familiar with the Monsarrat series, but I will check it out. The others were already on my list.

115scaifea
Maio 26, 8:15am

Aw, congrats on the grandchild! Kai is a lovely name.

116lauralkeet
Maio 26, 8:22pm

Congratulations on the new granddaughter, Vivian! How exciting. I hope you get to see her soon.

117thornton37814
Maio 29, 6:18pm

>111 vivians: We received a copy of that one (One-Armed Sister) in the library, and I debated whether or not I want to read it. I think your review pushes me in that direction since you call it gripping.

118vivians
Editado: Jun 10, 1:55pm

Thanks Katie, Bonnie, Beth, Amber and Laura! Everyone is healthy and we've had two brief viewings already. Kai's parents are completely in love and are transfixed by what we call "baby TV." They're totally spoiled because Monica's mother is here from her home in Beijing and is doing all the shopping, cooking, laundry and cleaning. They don't know how lucky they are!

>117 thornton37814: Hi Lori - How the One-Armed Sister has really stayed with me. I think it richly derserves its place on the Women's Prize List.

Lots of reading so these will be brief:



#83 Open Water Caleb Azumah Nelson
Debut novel of two Black Londoners who are best friends and eventually fall in love. Very introspective and poetic. I couldn't get past the very dramatic second person narration - just didn't work for me.



#84 The Bass Rock Evie Wyld
Winner of the 2020 Australian Stella Prize. Gothic novel set in northern Scotland. Three different eras, all sharing the physical, emotional and psychological abuse of women, inclduing accusations of withcraft and insanity. In the 18th centruy a young girl is accused of being a witch and is forced to flee her village. Post WW2 Ruth has married an unfaithful widower and struggles to parent his two sons. The contemporary storyline follows Ruth's alcoholic step-granddaughter. I found the timelines jumped around way too much and interfered with feeling any sense of connection with each story.



#85 Unsettled Ground Claire Fuller
Women's Prize shortlist - really terrific. 51 year old twins Julius and Jeanne leave in rural isolation and poverty near Oxford with their mother. When she dies, they are forced to adjust, secrets are revealed and their relationship changes. This is my first Fuller and I'll now eagerly search out her backlist. Depressing but very engaging.



#86 The Sicilian Method Andrea Camilleri
Another Montalbano, another affair, lots of food and a weirdly controlling theater director whose murder perplexes Salvo. I think this might be the last one in the series, and was published after Camilleri's 2019 death.



#87 Fever Mary Beth Keane
Fictional accoount of Mary Mallon (Typhoid Mary). Very sympathetic account of a hard-working Irish immigrant, great details of NY life in the early 1900s.

119BLBera
Jun 2, 1:35pm

I have been looking forward to the Fuller and Fever, Vivian. The Wyld, we'll see...

120brenzi
Jun 2, 6:54pm

I've got Unsettled Ground on my Overdrive list and will get to it sooner or later Vivian, but with your comments I'll probably make that sooner.

121thornton37814
Jun 2, 9:36pm

>118 vivians: So sad to see the end of the Montalbano series.

122vivians
Editado: Jun 10, 11:46am

Hi Beth, Bonnie and Lori and thanks for your comments.

Here's our newest cutie:



Kai was born on 5/24 and she's pretty adorable. We're still Covid restricted from being inside with her, as her mom Monica is waiting a few more weeks before she gets the vaccine. I totally disagree but have learned to keep my mother-in-law mouth firmly shut.



#88 Blacklands Belinda Bauer
First in the Exmoor trilogy. As in her Booker-nominated Snap, the adolescent voice is perfect. A very different crime novel, with its emphasis on the effects of violent crimes on succeeding generations. Great dark, moody atmosphere, and a sinister portrayal of a cat-and-mouse game between an imprisoned serial killer and a twelve year old boy. Bauer is a terrific storyteller and this was well-paced and gripping. I'll definintely continue the series.



#89 To Sir Phillip, With Love Julia Quinn
This was the best Bridgerton yet, for me, as I think Eloise is a great character. Add mischievous twins and a brooding single father, and the result is perfect romance.



#90 A False Mirror Charles Todd
As is usual with this series, there is too much repetition and too many red herrings. And credulity is strained: the wife of a severely beaten foreign service officer arranges to be held hostage by her former lover while Rutledge investigates. I like the main character but hte plots are beginning to bug me.

123katiekrug
Editado: Jun 10, 12:10pm

So glad you liked Blacklands as much as I did. I haven't read a bad book by her.

And yes to the Quinn. It's probably my 2nd favorite in the series. Have you watched the show yet? There is an interesting connection...

The next in the series is also pretty good (and very steamy) but the last two are my least favorite. Still worth reading, though :)

ETA: Kai is adorable!

124lauralkeet
Jun 10, 7:33pm

Awww, it's so nice to see a photo of baby Kai! I hope you get to cuddle her in person soon, Vivian.

125brenzi
Jun 10, 8:14pm

>122 vivians: What a cutie Vivian🥰

126BLBera
Jun 13, 1:05pm

Kai is adorable, Vivian.

I've heard lots of good about Bauer; I should give her a try.

127vivians
Editado: Jun 21, 1:38pm

>123 katiekrug: Hi Katie - I've only watched the first two Bridgerton episodes, and will wait until I finish all the books to watch the rest. I loved the screen Eloise, and maybe that's why I enjoyed this last installment so much.

>Thanks for the Kai love Katie, Laura, Bonnie and Beth. Her mom is getting vaccinated today (thank goodness) so we should be allowed a little more access. So far it's been only outside, which has been challenging with the heat and then rain last week.



#91 Light Perpetual Francis Spufford
This was on my radar after hearing a NY Times Book reivew podcast about the premise: the imagined future lives of 5 young children killed in 1944 London by a German rocket. If I used the star system, this would easily earn 5. Cannot recommend highly enough.



#92 The Narrowboat Summer Anne Youngson
A very gentle and pleasant read: three strangers, each at a crisis point in her life, are afforded second chances. Great details about narrowboats and the canal system. Uplifting story about friendship and change.



#93 At Night All Blood is Black David Diop
Winner of the International Booker Prize, a novella about a Sengalese Black man fighting for the French in WWI. Very intense, graphic and harrowing, but a worthwhile read about colonialism, racism, and a young man's descent into madness.

128lauralkeet
Jun 16, 6:17pm

You and Bonnie are really tempting me with Light Perpetual, Vivian. My library doesn't have it, at least not yet. But that could change ...

129BLBera
Jun 16, 6:52pm

Hi Vivian - >127 vivians: All these books look good. Light Perpetual is on my summer reading list - your description reminds me of Kate Atkinson. The Youngson and Drop also sound good.

130thornton37814
Jun 17, 10:58am

>127 vivians: I love the cover art on The Narrowboat Summer.

131vivians
Editado: Jun 23, 4:08pm

>128 lauralkeet: Hi Laura - how are you finding your new library system in general? Mine is getting better and better, with tons of titles available on overdrive and hoopla in addition to physical borrowing.

>129 BLBera: Atkinson's A God in Ruins is one of my all-time favorites, and Light Perpetual has a very similar feel.

>130 thornton37814: It's a little weird that this book was retitled from the UK version Three Women and a Boat. But I agree, Lori, it's a beautiful cover.



#94 The New Yorkers Cathleen Schine
Set on the Upper West Side (where I lived post-college) in contemporary times, this book felt as if it were set in pre-digital New York. Nice dogs, pretty "meh" humans. Ok but not great.



#95 Why Mermaids Sing C.S. Harris
I'm really enjoying the St. Cyr series. Sebastian has to solve multiple murders of prominent young men who have no immediate connection to each other. Recurring characters continue to develop in interesting ways.



#96 Steeple John Allison
I enjoy reading graphic novels but this fantasy was not a winner for me. A new curate is sent to a Cornish village to battle the forces of supernatural evil.



#97 Migrations Charlotte McConaghy
Read for RL book group and I'm eager to talk to others about this. Set in the near future, most species have become extinct due to climate change. Franny Stone, a traumatised and passionate young woman, is compelled to track the near extinct Artic tern as it migrates from the Arctic to the Antartic. Her character is extremely well-drawn and sympathetic, but I had trouble with Captain Ennis, whose motivations were much less clear. I also thought it was odd that the cataclysmal effect of a planet devoid of most animals was not even discussed. Other than those quibbles, a really good read.

132lauralkeet
Jun 23, 5:37pm

>131 vivians: Vivian, I am super pleased with the Loudoun County Library system. Their selection is pretty good, they fulfill holds efficiently, they ordered a title that I requested (Summerwater), and they have a pretty good schedule of events for children and adults. Most of these have been over Zoom but I suspect will shift to in-person soon, since the branches are fully open now.

133BLBera
Jun 24, 8:56am

I must get to Migrations, Vivian. How do you manage so much great reading! I always mean to get back to the Harris series as well. I think Why Mermaids Sing is the next one for me.

134vivians
Editado: Jun 30, 11:02am

>132 lauralkeet: Three cheers for a great library system, Laura! We have a tiny but well-run library in our town and have access to the whole Westchester County system which has about 40 branches.

>133 BLBera: Haha Beth it feels to me like I’m never reading enough! Audiobooks definitely help: I get two hours every day with my morning walk and my commute.



#98 The Plot Jean Hanff Korelitz
Frustrated novelist Jacob Finch Bonner appropriates the plot idea of his dead student’s unwritten novel. Entertaining literary thriller, a quick an enjoyable read.



#99 Black Buck Mateo Askaripour
Heavy-handed satire about an intelligent but unambitious Black man who becomes an aggressive sales associate in a racist start-up company. Too much melodrama and exaggeration for me.



#100 The Power Game Meg Keneally and Tom Keneally
Montsarrat #3 finds the ex-convict and his housekeeper on a remote penal colony, Maria Island, investigating the murder of blackmailing boatman. I thought this one was slightly inferior to the first two, but still well written with interesting characters and back stories. The Irish independence struggle once again plays a part.



#101 The Guncle Steven Rowley
A former sitcom star living in isolation in Palm Springs takes in his grieving niece and nephew for one long, hot summer. Full of humor, some grief, and totally enjoyable to read.

135katiekrug
Jun 30, 11:12am

The Guncle sounds like a fun summer read.

I agree with your assessment of The Plot.

Stay cool!

136BLBera
Jun 30, 11:14am

Hi Vivian - I'm on the waitlist for The Plot. I hope it comes when I am in the mood for it. The Montsarrat series sounds like one I would like.

137ffortsa
Jul 6, 10:55am

Wow. I haven't visited recently and you are reading up a storm! Props for not shying away from the tough ones.

I answered you on my thread re Little Island. No benches that I can recall, no shade. Lots of stairs.

138vivians
Editado: Jul 6, 3:19pm

>135 katiekrug: Hi Katie - I thought Rowley was very witty in places, but affecting as well, which I think is a difficult combination.

>136 BLBera: Yup, I think you'd enjoy Montsarrat Beth!

>137 ffortsa: Hi Judy and thanks for your Little Island reply.

Not much time but I want to at least make note of these:



#102 Widows of Malabar Hill Sujata Massey
I really enjoyed the story of Perveen Mistry in 1921 Bombay. She's Oxford educated and the first female lawyer in India, but is still subjected to misogyny and prejudice. A dual timeline provides her formative experiences as well as her attempt to solve a murder mystery while representing three widows who practice purdah. I think there are two more in the series which I'll definitely track down.



#103 Darkside Belinda Bauer
Exmoor #2, equally as gripping as the first. Very intense psychological thriller about a village cop and multiple murders of infirm locals. Incredibly taut and well-written. As good as Tana French!



#104 When He was Wicked Julia Quinn
A really good Bridgerton novel, about the widowed Francesca and her rakish cousin-in-law. A real slow burn and so much fun. I've now finished watching series 1 and look forward to the next.



#105 Liar's Dictionary Eley Williams
This started off very strong, with great wordplay, definitions and allusions, but faded towards the middle. A 19th century lexicographer, crippled by his introversion and bored with his work, inserts his own rogue words in the dictionary. A contemporary intern is tasked with routing these out. The plot was a bit thin, but it was still a worthwhile read.



#106 Jews Don't Count David Baddiel
Short but powerful: the eloquent British comedian and writer examines how antisemitism is dismissed and ignored by progressives.

139kidzdoc
Jul 6, 10:13pm

Jews Don't Count sounds interesting and very important, so I just purchased a copy of the Kindle edition of it.

140EBT1002
Editado: Jul 7, 2:02pm

Vivian, your thread is, as always, both delightful and dangerous!
I have the first C.S. Harris novel on my library "for later" shelf and I really want to start that series.
I agree wholeheartedly with your comments about How the One Armed Sister Sweeps Her House.
I recently checked out The Liar's Dictionary from the local library. I don't have time to get to it and now your comments are kind of reassuring about that.
Adding Jews Don't Count to the wishlist. (ETA: I just pre-ordered it instead.)
I also enjoyed The Widows of Malabar Hill -- an interesting time and place.

141katiekrug
Jul 7, 2:36pm

I'm so pleased that you liked the Bauer and Quinn so much!

142vivians
Editado: Jul 20, 11:13am

>139 kidzdoc: Hi Darryl - Baddiel is also known as the author of the football anthem "Three Lions - It's Coming Home" which was certainly heard a lot over the past month! He's a very progressive, secular Jew, and Jews Don't Count is quite an indictment of the British left. Of course it goes without saying that right-wing antisemitism is still a dangerous scourge, but it is more frequently recognized as such.

>140 EBT1002: Hi Ellen! So many books! My TBR just doesn't stop growing.

>141 katiekrug: You never steer me wrong, Katie!



#107 Next to Last Stand Craig Johnson
This latest Walt Longmire was the best of the last few, mostly because it was rich with historical detail about Custer's Last Stand. The sheriff's depression due to ageing, a factor in the last few installments, is tiresome.



#108 In a Lonely Place Dorothy B. Hughes
This 1947 noir thriller, set in post-war L.A. and the basis for a 1950 Bogart movie, was the subject of a recent "Backlisted" podcast. It's an exploration of a serial killer from the mind of the sociopath himself. No explicit violence or graphic scenes, just a taut and engaging story with a lot of interior detail. The killer's identity is never in doubt, but despite that the atmosphere is very dark and foreboding.



#109 Telephone Percival Everett
I had not heard a word about this novel, which was listed as a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize. Only after finishing it did I read that there are actually three distinct versions, and now I’m more than a bit curious to hear about the others. Zach Wells is a laid back university geology professor with a wife and much loved daughter. There are three plot lines: interactions with staff and students and his research; the grim diagnosis his precocious teenage daughter receives; and Zach’s attempt to rescue a group of women forced into slave labor. I’m intrigued about the other versions.



#110 So Long See You Tomorrow William Maxwell
A fundraiser for the 92 Street Y: John Lithgow reading this short novel. I’d listen to him read the phone book, and he does a masterful job with this deeply affecting memoir of 1921 Illinois. Maxwell remembers his youth, the loss of his mother at a young age, and the murder of a neighbor farmer which deeply affects him. Powerful, moving and beautifully written.

143msf59
Editado: Jul 12, 5:08pm

Hi, Vivian. It always puts a big smile on my face as I scroll through your recent reads. You have such an interesting and far-ranging taste in books. I want to read Unsettled Ground, At Night All Blood is Black & So Long See You Tomorrow. I love the cover of The Bass Rock. Sorry, to hear it fell a bit short.

144kidzdoc
Editado: Jul 12, 10:06pm

>142 vivians: That's an interesting tidbit of information about Baddiel, Vivian! Unfortunately football did not come home to England yesterday, as you know. I'm curious to know his thoughts about the disastrous former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was overwhelmingly felt to be anti-Semitic by Jews in Britain. One of my closest British friends, Paul Harris (Polaris-), a former LTer with whom I keep in close contact on Facebook and met up with in London at least half a dozen times, is Jewish and grew up in East London (although he currently lives in Wales), and I'll have to ask him if he's heard of and read Jews Don't Count. I'll probably get to this book sooner rather than later, and I would definitely like to read it before my (fingers tightly crossed) return to London in October.

I'm anxiously awaiting my September work schedule, so that I can make plans to return to Lisbon that month. I won't soon forget our first meet up there three years ago, and that epic seafood meal we had with your friend Connie and with Donah and her husband Nuno at Restaurante Cabrinha in Cacilhas. I suspect that was the first and so far only LT group meet up in Portugal!

ETA: I'll have to buy and read Telephone sooner rather than later.

145EBT1002
Editado: Jul 13, 8:12pm

I also loved So Long See You Tomorrow. And John Lithgow reading it ~~ I can imagine how wonderful that was.

And In a Lonely Place looks/sounds pretty wonderful, too. I've put it on hold at the local library.

146BLBera
Jul 13, 8:35pm

Hi Vivian - Telephone sounds interesting. I may have to look for a copy -- or two?

147lauralkeet
Jul 14, 7:37am

Please add my name to the So Long, See you Tomorrow fan club. What a lovely book. I've always meant to read more Maxwell, but haven't gotten around to it.

148vivians
Editado: Jul 20, 12:11pm

>143 msf59: Hi Mark! And here I was, thinking I got so many recommendations from you! You’re always a terrific source.

>144 kidzdoc: I’m so thrilled that you’ll be returning to Europe, Darryl. I’m eager to travel but have no plans yet, other than a quick trip to Denver in August. I’ll be meeting Connie there, who is traveling from Israel for a wedding. I can so easily bring back the memory of that fabulous meal in Lisbon as well as the ferry ride and the lovely walk around the neighborhood. One of the highlights of that trip! Hope you’re planning a NY visit soon.

>145 EBT1002: Hi Ellen – one of the NY Times editors, John Williams, spoke about So Long, See You Tomorrow as a favorite of his, so when I read about the John Lithgow reading I just jumped on it. He was really the perfect narrator. I don’t know if that version is available (it was a short-term fundraiser) but I certainly hope so.

>146 BLBera: What a different premise, right Beth? I think one of Ali Smith’s novels did something similar – there were two versions of the book. But in that case it was a question of how the two timelines were ordered, not completely different plot elements.

>147 lauralkeet: If you do get to more Maxwell, Laura, I’ll be interested to know which you choose.



#111 Under the Udala Trees Chinelo Okparanta
Set in Nigeria during and after the Biafran war. Nigeria has passed stringent anti-homosexual laws, and this is a story of Ijeoma, a young woman who wrestles with her mother, her faith, her desire for other women and society’s expectations. Very good, but a rushed ending.



#112 Fresh Water for Flowers Valerie Perrin
Chosen for RL book group because it was highlighted in the Wall Street Journal. A great premise – about a cemetery caretaker in a small town in Burgundy. Some of my complaints: way too many timeline shifts and a poor choice of narrator (whose execrable French included mispronunciations such as “Pugit” (Peugoet), “Camis” (Camus),”mon-sir” (monsieur), etc.). There are some wonderful characters and I did love the parts about Violette’s care of the graves and their mourners. The author is a screenwriter and the description was very cinematic. Violette’s earlier job was as a barrier guard at a train crossing – I can just picture many of the scenes.



#113 Sorrow & Bliss Meg Mason
I heard well-deserved raves about this portrait of mental illness on one of my favorite podcasts: “Books on the Go” from Australia. A very honest and funny book about the tumultuous ups and downs of an undiagnosed, then diagnosed, illness suffered by a bright young woman. One reviewer said this is “Fleabag meets The Bell Jar.” Martha’s interior perspective is heartbreaking (“I seem to find it more difficult to be alive than other people”) but totally compelling. Highly recommended.

149kidzdoc
Jul 23, 9:51am

>148 vivians: Sounds good, Vivian. Say hello to Connie for me when you travel to Denver in August.

That was an unforgettable seafood dinner at Restaurante Cabrinha in Cacilhas! The most surprising aspect to me what how little it cost; from my Facebook post we paid roughly 25€.



I'll meet Nuno, Donah's husband, the first full weekend that I'll be in Lisbon. She'll be back home in the Philippines visiting her parents during that time.

I'll have to get to Under the Udala Trees at some point...

150vivians
Editado: Jul 29, 12:40pm

>149 kidzdoc: Thanks for sending that wonderful photo Darryl - such a great evening that was!



#114 The Netanyahus: An Account of a Minor Event Joshua Cohen
This was a very funny, intelligently written novel about academia: an upstate NY college rife with anti-Semitism in the late 1950s. The real-life father of Bibi, an unpleasant historian desperate for a job, visits the campus along with his family and is reluctantly hosted by the only Jewish professor, modeled after Harold Bloom. I'm certainly not a fan of that family's politics but it made me very uneasy to read such a vicious attack, albeit fictional. Bibi's older brother, whose life was lost in the Entebbe raid in 1974, is particularly cruelly portrayed. It received rave reviews, including the cover of the NY Times Book Review, but mostly it made me wince.



#115 Strange Flowers Donal Ryan
Another 5 star read from one of my favorite Irish writers. A multi-generational story about Moll, the only daughter of Catholic farmer and his wife, who disappears in 1973 at the age of 20. Her eventual return, and the turbulent changes she brings, make up the plot, but most rewarding of all are the characters and their relationships. Just beautiful.



#116 Razorblade Tears S.A. Cosby
Totally propulsive (and quite gory) - I couldn't get through this fast enough. What a premise! Two fathers in rural Virginia, both ex-cons, one black and one white, avenge the violent deaths of their married sons. A worthwhile ride: gripping and incredibly well-paced.



#117 House on Endless Waters Emunah Elon
Yoel Blum, an Israeli writer born in Amsterdam during the war, returns to Holland to explore his family's history. There are two timelines: present day Yoel doing his research, and the story of his mother, Sonia, and how she survived as Holland's Jews were exterminated. I thought the timeline shifts were not handled well (too frequent and therefore blurry) but otherwise a solid read.

151katiekrug
Jul 29, 1:05pm

Why do I keep putting off reading Donal Ryan?!?

152brenzi
Jul 29, 5:02pm

I've got The Netanyahus on my Overdrive list but I'm probably not getting to it anytime soon. Any Donal Ryan is good for me too. Last year I tried listening to Blacktop Wasteland and I gave up after a very short time. Maybe I'll try the print version of Razorblade Tears

153BLBera
Jul 29, 10:25pm

Great comments, Vivian. I'll skip The Netanyahus and am not sure about gory, but the Ryan and Elon are both on my WL.