Chatterbox Waltzes Into 2023

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Discussão75 Books Challenge for 2023

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Chatterbox Waltzes Into 2023

Editado: Dez 29, 2022, 4:23 pm

I'm baaaaack.

by Mary Oliver

In winter
all the singing is in
the tops of the trees
where the wind-bird

with its white eyes
shoves and pushes
among the branches.
Like any of us

he wants to go to sleep,
but he's restless—
he has an idea,
and slowly it unfolds

from under his beating wings
as long as he stays awake.
But his big, round music, after all,
is too breathy to last.

So, it's over.
In the pine-crown
he makes his nest,
he's done all he can.

I don't know the name of this bird,
I only imagine his glittering beak
tucked in a white wing
while the clouds—

which he has summoned
from the north—
which he has taught
to be mild, and silent—

thicken, and begin to fall
into the world below
like stars, or the feathers
of some unimaginable bird

that loves us,
that is asleep now, and silent—
that has turned itself
into snow.

It seems appropriate to start the year with two iconic winter images, global warming notwithstanding. Hendrik Avercamp was a Dutch golden age painter, and this is one of several large works painted during the "Little Ice Age" that routinely caused large rivers (including the Thames in London) to freeze so solidly that frost fairs could be held atop them and people took to the ice on skates. The painting dates to 1620; the poem to 2002.

Editado: Maio 1, 11:55 pm

For those of you who haven't encountered me, I'm Suzanne, and I've been hanging around this group with varying levels of activity since 2010. Last year I did a lot of reading but not a lot of posting; this year I hope to be more balanced!

Yes, I'm a bibliomaniac. Now in my (very) early 60s, that seems unlikely to change. I share a book-crowded small home in Providence RI with two resident felines. Sir Fergus the Fat, for his part, is as obsessed with cat treats as I am with books, language and writing. Minka the Velveteen Kitten/Mini-Panther is the supervisory cat: she monitors all activity outside from perches in the various windows, and spends the rest of her time either curled up on top of some portion of my anatomy or scrutinizing me.

While I've fetched up in New England, I'm not "from" anywhere in particular. I'm a dual US/Canadian citizen; most of my small family still lives north of the border but I was born in New Jersey and returned to the US to live in my 30s. I'm a former staffer with the Wall St. Journal in Toronto, NYC and London, have lived all over the place, still work as a freelance journalist and ghost writing.

Last year featured a LOT of upheaval. I moved from one apartment to another but it cost more than moving from NYC to Rhode Island! Then I had to organize my elderly father's move into an assisted living facility -- which involved spending weeks at a time sleeping on sofas or the floor in various places in Canada -- but he is struggling with advanced Parkinson's and his condition is slowly but steadily deteriorating. The only other family members I'm in touch with are (surprisingly) my ex-SIL but also my lovely elder nephew, now at university and planning to be a high school history teacher. Meanwhile, thankfully, work seems to be on an upturn. I'm still waiting for the freelance stream of work to translate into more financial stability, though, as every time I think I'm getting ahead, something comes out of the blue to knock me back, like the move, medical bills, my father's stuff, etc. etc. Fingers crossed that by mid 2023 I'll be on track??

The good news is that 2022 was a bumper year for reading. I'll post a list of my fave reads of 2022 later on. I'm now almost totally reliant on Kindle books and on audiobooks, as my vision is deteriorating. I use reading glasses, but can only wear them for about two hours at a stretch before my eyes start to water or feel strained. And my glasses got scratched somehow -- so my NEXT big expense will be a new pair!

I rarely post mini-reviews, but promise to try harder to flag the most compelling or disappointing books. My ideal book? Anything in which I can completely immerse myself, and at the end, wish I hadn't read it, so that I could read it again for the first time... very year, I set out to imagine my thread as being a cyber version of my ideal literary salon would be like.

This is the eighth year running that I've hosted/organized/coordinated/whatever the non-fiction challenge. Well, I'd de-emphasize the challenge part, since basically it's really just a series of monthly themed reading threads devoted to non-fiction, hopefully giving participants insights into books they might otherwise never stumble across. We usually kick off with a month reading nonfiction tomes that have been nominated for/longlisted for some kind of award in the past. Do join us!!

As always, the only "rules" of the road for this thread: please treat each other and everyone else's views with courtesy, civility and thoughtfulness, and leave the politics and drama for other kinds of social media. Pretty please.

Editado: Maio 2, 12:09 am

Here's the first of my reading lists for 2023!!

This is where you can find an ongoing list of what I'm reading. I always read far more than 75 books; this year, as before, I'll set my target at 401 books. In 2022, I blew past that, but felll short in 2021, so who knows? I just hope it will be a good year of reading, with a great mix of fabulous literary works, gripping non-fiction and thumping good reads. My reading each year always includes re-reads of some old faves (marked by an asterisk on the lsit).

To see what I have been reading in real time, your best bet is to go to my library on LT, and look at the dedicated collection I'll establish there, under the label "Books Read in 2023". As I complete a book, I'll rate it and add it to the list. I'll also tag it, "Read in 2022". You'll be able to see it by either searching under that tag, or clicking on

I do have some reading objectives, and will fill out the categories below. I continue to fall short of completing these, as new books or book bullets distract me!

Here's a quick guide to my star ratings, which are very definitely personal and idiosyncratic.

My guide to my ratings:

1.5 or less: A tree gave its life so that this book could be printed and distributed?
1.5 to 2.7: Are you really prepared to give up hours of your life for this?? I wouldn't recommend doing so...
2.8 to 3.3: Do you need something to fill in some time waiting to see the dentist? Either reasonably good within a ho-hum genre (chick lit or thrillers), something that's OK to read when you've nothing else with you, or that you'll find adequate to pass the time and forget later on.
3.4 to 3.8: Want to know what a thumping good read is like, or a book that has a fascinating premise, but doesn't quite deliver? This is where you'll find 'em.
3.9 to 4.4: So, you want a hearty endorsement? These books have what it takes to make me happy I read them.
4.5 to 5: The books that I wish I hadn't read yet, so I could experience the joy of discovering them again for the first time. Sometimes disquieting, sometimes sentimental faves, sometimes dramatic, sometimes so astonishingly well-written that they make me swoon. Always transformative and memorable

The January list:

1. Blitz by Daniel O'Malley (finished 1/2/23) 4.2 stars
2. *The Garden of Forgotten Wishes by Trisha Ashley (finished 1/3/23) 3.75 stars (A)
3. Twenty by James Grippando (finished 1/4/23) 3.9 stars (A)
4. The Case of the Married Woman: Caroline Norton and her Fight for Justice for Women by Antonia Fraser (finished 1/6/23) 4 stars
5. A Death in Tokyo by Keigo Higashino (finished 1/6/23) 4.3 stars
6. The Heights by Parker Bilal (finished 1/7/23) 4.1 stars
7. *The Prisoner of Zenda by Anthony Hope (finished 1/7/23) 3.85 stars
8. My Fourth Time, We Drowned by Sally Hayden (finished 1/8/23) 4.7 stars
9. Carry On, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse (finished 1/9/23) 3.6 stars (A)
10. Blood and Ink: The Scandalous Jazz Age Double Murder that Hooked America on True Crime by Joe Pompeo (finished 1/10/23) 3.75 stars
11. Scorpionfish by Natalie Bakopoulos (finished 1/10/23) 4.6 stars
12. Queen High by C.J. Carey (finished 1/11/22) 4 stars
13. The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff (finished 1/13/23) 4.3 stars
14. Putin by Phillip Short (finished 1/14/23) 4.2 stars (A)
15. The Double Agent by William Christie (finished 1/15/23) 4.15 stars (A)
16. Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka (finished 1/16/23) 4.35 stars
17. The War Against the Jews 1933-1945 by Lucy S. Dawidowicz (finished 1/16/23) 4 stars
18. The Camden Murder by Mike Hollow (finished 1/16/23) 3.7 stars
19. The Mitford Secret by Jessica Fellowes (finished 1/18/23) 3.8 stars
20. Early One Morning by Robert Ryan (finished 1/18/23) 4.25 stars
21. *The Kingdom of Carbonel by Barbara Sleigh (finished 1/18/23) 4.2 stars
22. Orwell's Roses by Rebecca Solnit (finished 1/19/23) 5 stars
23. The It Girl by Ruth Ware (finished 1/20/23) 4.25 stars
24. The Italian by Shukri Mabkhout (finished 1/21/23) 3.9 stars
25. Augusta Hawke by G.M. Malliet (finished 1/22/23) 4.15 stars
26. I Will Find You by Harlan Coben (finished 1/23/23) 3.4 stars
27. We Don't Know Ourselves by Fintan O'Toole (finished 1/25/23) 4.5 stars (A)
28. The Last Sunrise by Robert Ryan (finished 1/26/23) 4.2 stars
29. *The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (finished 1/26/23) 4.4 stars (A)
30. Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse (finished 1/27/23) 4.5 stars
31. Symphony of Secrets by Brendan Slocumb (finished 1/27/23) 4.15 stars
32. Rupert of Hentzau by Anthony Hope (finished 1/28/23) 3.4 stars
33. The Trenches by Parker Bilal (finished 1/29/23) 4.1 stars
34. Revolutionary Roads by Bob Thompson (finished 1/30/23) 4.2 stars
35. *Making Money by Terry Pratchett (finished 1/30/23) 4.2 stars (A)
36. Tokyo Rose: Zero Hour by Andre Frattino (finished 1/31/23) 4.2 stars
37. *Carbonel and Calidor by Barbara Sleigh (finished 1/31/23) 3.5 stars
38. Members Only by Sameer Pandya (finished 1/31/23) 4.3 stars

The February list:

39. Bloodbath Nation by Paul Auster (finished 2/2/23) 4.35 stars
40. The Traveling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa (finished 2/3/23) 4.45 stars
41. *Dying Day by Robert Ryan (finished 2/4/23) 4.2 stars (A)
42. The English Fuhrer by Rory Clements (finished 2/5/23) 4.1 stars
43. Sanditon by Jane Austen, etc. (finished 2/7/23) 4 stars
44. Enslaved: The Sunken History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade by Simcha Jacobivici (finished 2/8/23) 3.1 stars
45. The Falcon's Eyes by Francesca Stanfill (finished 2/9/23) 3.85 stars (partly A)
46. A Dangerous Business by Jane Smiley (finished 2/10/23) 4.3 stars
47. The Red Balcony by Jonathan Wilson (finished 2/10/23) 4.2 stars
48. *Second Violin by John Lawton (finished 2/12/23) 4.15 stars (A)
49. Red Widow by Sarah Horowitz (finished 2/13/23) 3.65 stars
50. The Angel of Rome and other stories by Jess Walter (finished 2/13/23) 4.5 stars
51. The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman (finished 2/14/23) 4 stars
52. Judgement Day by Penelope Lively (finished 2/15/23) 4.35 stars
53. Agent in the Shadows by Alex Gerlis (finished 2/16/23) 3.35 stars
54. *Icon by Frederick Forsyth (finished 2/17/23) 4 stars
55. Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories (finished 2/17/23) 3.7 stars (A)
56. Six Ostriches by Philipp Schott (finished 2/18/23) 3 stars
57. The Helsingør Sewing Club by Ella Gyland (finished 2/19/23) 3.1 stars
58. The White Mosque by Sofia Samatar (finished 2/19/23) 4.85 stars
59. Good Citizens Need Not Fear by Maria Reva (finished 2/20/23) 4.4 stars
60. Horse by Geraldine Brooks (finished 2/20/23) 5 stars
61. *Time and Time Again by Ben Elton (finished 2/21/23) 3.8 stars (A)
62. Blood & Sugar by Laura Shepherd-Robinson (finished 2/22/23) 3.7 stars
63. Shadow State by Luke Harding (finished 2/23/23) 3.85 stars (A)
64. Pegasus by Laurent Ricard & Sandrine Rigaud (finished 2/24/23) 4 stars (A)
65. *Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey (finished 2/24/23) 4.5 stars (A)
66. Agent Josephine by Damien Lewis (finished 2/25/23) 3.5 stars
67. The Return by Dulce Maria Cardoso (finished 2/26/23) 4.4 stars
68. Selection Day by Aravind Adiga (finished 2/26/23) 3.3 stars
69. Stone Blind by Natalie Hynes (finished 2/28/23) 4.7 stars (partly A)

The March list:

70. Homegrown by Jeffrey Toobin (finished 3/1/23) 4.3 stars
71. The Bullet That Missed by Richard Osman (finished 3/2/23) 4.2 stars
72. Pitch Perfect by Mickey Rapkin (finished 3/3/23) 2.8 stars
73. *The White Russian by Tom Bradby (finished 3/4/23) 4.15 stars
74. Lady Tan's Circle of Women by Lisa See (finished 3/5/23) 4.1 stars
75. Elizabeth Finch by Julian Barnes (finished 3/5/23) 4.3 stars
76. All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin (finished 3/6/23) 3.35 stars
77. Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay (finished 3/7/23) 4.1 stars
78. The Road to Lichfield by Penelope Lively (finished 3/8/23) 4.6 stars
79. The Verge Practice by Barry Maitland (finished 3/8/23) 4.2 stars
80. A Winter Grave by Peter May (finished 3/10/23) 3.85 stars
81. Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom by Stephen R. Platt (finished 3/12/23) 4.35 stars (A)
82. The King's Pleasure by Alison Weir (finished 3/13/23) 2.9 stars
83. Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett (finished 3/14/23) 4.1 stars
84. The Ugly History of Beautiful Things by Katy Kelleher (finished 3/16/23) 4.75 stars
85. The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh (finished 3/18/23) 4.35 stars
86. Bitter Orange Tree by Jokha Alharthi (finished 3/19/23) 4 stars
87. The Sea Between Two Shores by Tanis Rideout (finished 3/20/23) 4.3 stars
88. *An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris (finished 3/21/23) 4.8 stars (A)
89. Spider Trap by Barry Maitland (finished 3/22/23) 4.1 stars
90. The Shadows of London by Andrew Taylor (finished 3/23/23) 4.3 stars
91. *The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson (finished 3/24/23) 4.5 stars (A)
92. The 42nd Parallel by John dos Passos (finished 3/25/23) 4.1 stars
93. *The Hippopotamus Marsh by Pauline Gedge (finished 3/26/23) 4.15 stars
95. *The Oasis by Pauline Gedge (finished 3/27/23) 4.2 stars
96. Where the Wild Winds Are by Nick Hunt (finished 3/29/23) 4 stars
97. *The Horus Road by Pauline Gedge (finished 3/31/23) 3.95 stars

The April list:

98. Dark Mirror by Barry Maitland (finished 4/1/23) 4.2 stars
99. *Dead Wake by Erik Larson (finished 4/2/23) 4.7 stars (A)
100. Red London by Alma Katsu (finished 4/4/23) 3.7 stars
101. The English Experience by Julie Schumacher (finished 4/5/23) 3.6 stars
102. The Kingdom of Ashes by Robert Edric (finished 4/6/23) 4.1 stars
103. Fragile Cargo: The World War II Race to Save the Treasures of China's Forbidden City by Adam Brookes (finished 4/9/23) 5 stars
104. The Last Honest Man: The CIA, the FBI, the Mafia, and the Kennedys―and One Senator's Fight to Save Democracy by James Risen (finished 4/10/23) 4.8 stars
105. Starter Dog by Rona Maynard (finished 4/11/23) 4.7 stars
106. Nightwork by Nora Roberts (finished 4/13/23) 3.4 stars
107. You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott (finished 4/14/23) 3.6 stars
108. Field Notes From an Unintentional Birder by Julia Zarankin (finished 4/15/23) 5 stars
109. The Island of Lost Girls by Alex Marwood (finished 4/16/23) 4 stars
110. Magnificent Rebel: Nancy Cunard in Jazz Age Paris by Anne de Courcy (finished 4/18/23) 3.85 stars
111. *Frederica by Georgette Heyer (finished 4/19/23) 3.75 stars (A)
112. The Gran Tour: Travels with my Elders by Ben Aitken (finished 4/20/23) 3 stars
113. *Here Be Dragons by Sharon Penman (finished 4/21/23) 3.7 stars
114. The Helsinki Affair by Anna Pitoniak (finished 4/22/23) 4 stars
115. *The Main Enemy by Milton Bearden & James Risen (finished 4/22/23) 4.15 stars (A)
116. Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading by Maureen Corrigan (finished 4/24/23) 4.35 stars
117. *Shining Through by Susan Isaacs (finished 4/25/23) 4 stars
118. Maiden Voyages: Magnificent Ocean Liners and the Women Who Traveled and Worked Aboard Them by Sian Evans (finished 4/27/23) 3.5 stars (A)
119. Hammer to Fall by John Lawton (finished 4/27/23) 4.25 stars (partly A)
120. A Caribbean Mystery by Agatha Christie (finished 4/28/23) 3.4 stars (A)
121. Chelsea Mansions by Barry Maitland (finished 4/30/23) 4.2 stars
122. The Bottom of the 33rd: Hope, Redemption and Baseball's Longest Game by Dan Barry (finished 4/30/23) 4.5 stars (A)

Editado: Maio 2, 12:09 am

Best Books of 2022 Part I

Dez 29, 2022, 4:19 pm

Still reserved...

Editado: Maio 2, 12:10 am

Reading Goals I

Climbing Mt. TBR: New, New Shiny Books!

The Ferryman by Justin Cronin
The Imposters by Tom Rachman
Mercury Pictures Present by Anthony Marra
Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton
I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai
Blind Spots by Thomas Mullen
The Displacements by Bruce Holsinger
The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese
Briefly, a Delicious Life by Nell Stevens

Climbing Mt. TBR: The Wall of Shame

Horse by Geraldine Brooks Read
The Foundling by Ann Leary
Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead
A Tidy Ending by Joanna Cannon
The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles
Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks
Intimacies by Katie Kitamura
Apeirogon by Colum McCann
Good Company by Cynthia d'Aprix Sweeney
The Last and the First by Nina Berberova
Ocean State by Stewart O'Nan


The Sea Between Two Shores by Tanis Rideout Read
We Should Not Be Afraid of the Sky by Emma Hooper
Secrets of the Vinyl Cafe by Stuart Maclean
A Suitable Companion for the End of Your Life by Roger McGill
The Winter Wives by Linden Macintyre
The Strangers by Katherena Vermette
This Eden by Ed O'Loughlin
We Measure the Earth With Our Bodies by Tsering Yangzom Lama
Here the Dark by David Bergen
Lear's Shadow by Claire Holden Rothman


We Don't Know Ourselves by Fintan O'Toole Read
Putin by Philip Short Read
My Fourth Time, We Drowned by Sally Hayden Read
Dinner With Joseph Johnson by Daisy Hay
Young Bloomsbury by Nino Strachey
Bittersweet by Susan Cain
Mussolini's Daughter by Caroline Moorehead
Mapping the Great Game by Riaz Dean
Super-Infinite by Katherine Rundell
Fancy Bear Goes Phishing by Scott Shapiro
Hotel Florida: Truth, Love and Death in the Spanish Civil War by Amanda Valli

Editado: Maio 2, 12:14 am

Reading Targets II


Revolutionary Roads by Bob Thompson Read
The Gran Tour: Travels with my Elders by Ben Aitken Read
Shadowlands: a Journey Through Lost Britain by Matthew Green
The White Mosque by Sofia Samatar Read
Ottoman Odyssey by Alev Scott
Roads to Sata by Alan Booth
Mad About the Mekong by John Keay
Lands of Lost Borders by Kate Harris
To the Lake by Kapka Kassabova
Marco Polo: The Journey That changed the World by John Man

Series & Sequels

Showstopper by Peter Lovesey
Moscow Exile by John Lawton
The English Fuhrer by Rory Clements Read
Murder Most Royal by S.J. Bennett
All the Queen's Spies by Oliver Clement
Cast Iron by Peter May
A Death in Tokyo by Keigo Higashino Read
The Company of Heaven by Catherine Fox
The Shadows of London by Andrew Taylor Read
A Chateau Under Siege by Martin Walker

Climate Stuff: Fact and Fiction

Otherlands: A Journey Through Earth's Extinct Worlds by Thomas Halliday
The Great Displacement: Climate Change and the Next American Migration by Jake Bittle
The Deluge by Stephen Markley
Clean Air by Sarah Blake
The Water Will Come by Jeff Goodell
Vigil Harbor by Julia Glass
2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson

Mysteries & Thrillers

The Skeleton Key by Erin Kelly
Queen High by C.J. Carey Read
Trapped by Camilla Läckberg
The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz
Code 6 by James Grippando
The Heron's Cry by Ann Cleeves
Agent in the Shadows by Alex Gerlis Read
Survive the Night by Riley Sager
Augusta Hawke by G.M. Malliet Read

Editado: Maio 2, 12:21 am

Reading Targets III

New-to-Me and Debut Authors

Trust by Hernan Diaz
Mercy Street by Jennifer Haigh
Scary Monsters by Michelle de Kretser
Flowers Over the Inferno by Ilaria Tuti
Night of the Living Rez by Morgan Talty
The Color Storm by Damian Dibben
Calling Ukraine by Johannes Lichtman
Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden
The Removed by Brandon Hobson
In Memory of Memory by Maria Stepanova

Around the World in Ten Books

Lost Believers by Irina Zhorov (Russia)
Zone by Mathias Enard (France)
It's Getting Dark by Peter Stamm (Switzerland)
Lacuna by Fiona Snyckers (South Africa)
Bitter Orange Tree by Jokha Alharthi (Oman) Read
The Day the Sun Died by Yan Lianke (China)
The Return by Dulce Maria Cardoso (Portugal/Angola) Read
The Queen of Dirt Island by Donal Ryan (Ireland)
River Spirit by Leila Aboulela (Sudan)
The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak (Turkey)

Europa Mania

The Postcard by Anne Berest
Red Crosses by Sasha Filipenko
The Life of Elves by Muriel Barbery
Mr. Wilder & Me by Jonathan Coe
The Long Corner by Alexander Maksik
You Will Never Find Me by Robert Wilson
Cathedral by Ben Hopkins
The Italian by Shukri Mabkhout Read
Ghost Town by Kevin Chen
The Slowworm's Song by Andrew Miller

Light & Fluffy Reading!

Bad, Bad Seymour Brown by Susan Isaacs Read
Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld
The Shadow of Perseus by Claire Heywood
To Kill a Troubadour by Martin Walker
The Pink House by Catherine Alliott
Mistress of My Fate by Hallie Rubenhold
Rare Objects by Kathleen Tessaro
Lady Tan's Circle of Women by Lisa See Read
Embassy Wife by Katie Crouch
Has Anyone Seen My Toes? by Christopher Buckley

Editado: Abr 22, 9:37 pm

Final Reading Targets

Livres en Francais

L'homme qui regardait la nuit -- Gilbert Sinoué
Juste avant l'oubli - Alice Zeniter
Retour indésirable - Charles Lewinsky
Le mage du Kremlin - Guiliano da Empoli


The Romeo Flag by Carolyn Hougan
Black Eagles by Larry Collins
House of Cards by Stanley Ellin
Berlin Solstice by Sylvia Fraser
The Hippopotamus Marsh by Pauline Gedge Read
Icon by Frederick Forsyth Read
The Bestseller by Olivia Goldsmith
Time and Time Again by Ben Elton Read
Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher

Work-related books

Editado: Dez 29, 2022, 4:57 pm

Saved for a later list!

Dez 29, 2022, 4:57 pm

Welcome back Suzanne!

Dez 29, 2022, 5:16 pm

Welcome back!

Dez 29, 2022, 6:15 pm

Wishing you a comfortable reading year in 2023, Suz.

Lovely topper and it is always a pleasure to start my day with Mary Oliver.

Dez 30, 2022, 1:45 pm

Thanks, Rhian, Jim & Paul!!

Dez 31, 2022, 5:06 pm

Happy New Year!

Dez 31, 2022, 5:14 pm

Happy new thread, Suzanne.
Did you already start a new thread for the non-fiction challenge? If so, I can't find it. Would it be in the 75ers list? I am not officially committing to challenges this year but you know I always love this one and will likely jump in when I can. I do like to print out the list as a reminder for myself each month.

Dez 31, 2022, 6:07 pm

Happy new year, Suzanne! Looking forward to your massive lists again especially the best books of 2022. I hope you do get a catch-up year in 2023 with fewer upheavals and less stress. I could do with one too - 2022 was pretty rough.

I can see We Didn't Know Ourselves on your Read Soon list. I loved it - it was one of my 5 star non-fiction reads last year.

Dez 31, 2022, 8:23 pm

Happy New Year, Suz! Wishing you a fun reading year.

Jan 1, 8:37 am

This afternoon/evening I plan to read a Martin Walker short story to start the year and then begin the Keegan book you gifted me in the swap.

Jan 1, 2:32 pm

Hi Suzanne, I have you starred.

Jan 1, 2:34 pm

Happy reading in 2023!

Jan 1, 3:45 pm

A happy new year to all of you!

And to get us started off on the right foot:

“New Year’s Day—Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.”

Quotation courtesy of the always-pithy Mark Twain.

Jan 1, 9:43 pm

Happy New Year, Suz!

Jan 2, 10:15 am

Good morning, Suz, and Happy New Year! I wish it may be lavishly so for you - you're due one!

I look forward to anything you have to say about your reading.

Jan 2, 5:09 pm

Happy New Year Suzanne. I look forward to following your reading. You're always a good bellwether for me.

Jan 3, 2:32 pm

Happy New Year, Suzanne. I confess to being a regular lurker here. I always love seeing what you’ve read and then reading many of them myself. I hope the coming year is very good to you.

Jan 4, 1:40 am

welcome to all posters & lurkers!

>19 thornton37814: I hope you enjoy the Keegan book -- it's one by her I hadn't read, so I'm selfishly going to profit from your comments on it!

My start to the reading year has been OK; I read the newest/third volume in the Chequy Files fantasy novels by Daniel O'Malley, Blitz. Essentially it's two loosely linked narratives, one in the near future and one set during the Blitz in London; it takes too long to develop the link, which means you end up reading it as two separate stories for too many chapters. I really liked The Rook and the sequel also was good; this was fun, but a little over the top and the author threw in the kitchen sink along with everything else. Read it if you loved the first two, but otherwise, it's a "pass".

And I re-read a chick lit book by Trisha Ashley, a fave author of mine, as a comfort read. (My father is losing his grip on reality, and I haven't been able to speak to him in about 10 days, so I needed a comfort read.) I'm doing another re-read (The Prisoner of Zenda), which is a rollicking good read, and am really enjoying Keigo Higashino's latest detective novel, A Death in Tokyo. It's part of the series featuring Kyoichiro Kaga, who I enjoy much more as a character than "Detective Galileo".

Received an interesting galley in the mail from Other Press - Beethoven in the Bunker, about music in the Third Reich. It's a topic that intrigues me, given the controversy that swirled around von Karajan and other notable figures in the postwar era; since I learned that one of the leading German members of the opposition to the Nazi regime was the brother of noted conductor Christoph von Dohnanyi, I've become still more intrigued. Christoph (now 93) survived the war; his brother Hans (who was related to the Bonhoeffer clan as well) was murdered by the SS in Sachsenhausen.

Other new advance copies include Old Babes in the Wood by Margaret Atwood. I have an odd relationship with this author - I love many of her books and her ideas, but I've heard so many "backstage" stories about her that I'm pretty sure I never want to invite her over for dinner. (Toronto can be a pretty small circle and "Peggy" grew up in the same circles as my mother did in the Toronto of the 1950s. People I know also pop up in some of her novels, VERY thinly disguised...)

Jan 4, 3:20 am

Hello there! Happy new thread and Happy New Year!! So I gotta ask, >6 Chatterbox: why are these books under the heading "Climbing Mt. TBR: The Wall of Shame"? Have they been sitting there a long time or what? : )

Jan 4, 3:34 am

Welcome back!

>27 Chatterbox: How interesting to have that sort of view behind the curtain on Atwood.

Looking forward to seeing what you read this year!

Editado: Jan 4, 7:58 am

>29 ursula: Interesting but not always very comfortable. My grandfather worked in publishing and wrote short stories and novels, but he knew a number of people who were much better known than him. I read the "Fortunes of War" books when he was still alive. Apparently people really liked Olivia Manning's husband Reggie (R D) Reggie and found her quite prickly and difficult, and on rereading the first book in the Balkan Trilogy, The Great Fortune, a few years ago I began to sense that it is quite autobiographical. Again, she included some real people and some stories about them that those concerned would probably hope others didn't recognise or make connections. Those I know about feature more in the second half of the series, now published as The Levant Trilogy.

Jan 4, 10:45 am

Following you again this year, Suzanne. I love the bookishness of your threads and (although your reading is much wider than mine) we share many books. I enjoyed two new (to me) Trisha Ashley stories over Christmas.

Jan 4, 1:43 pm

>27 Chatterbox:
Beethoven in the Bunker is a BB!!! That topic also intrigues me. This book is done by Other Press and they often have very interesting titles. Let us know what you think of the book.

Jan 4, 1:53 pm

Happy New Year Suzanne! I've added Beethoven in the Bunker: Musicians Under the Nazi Regime in the Bunker and Blitz to my tbr pile.

Jan 4, 4:59 pm

>32 benitastrnad: Benita, I can pass that ARC along to you after I read it!

>29 ursula:, >30 elkiedee: -- Yes, I think it's "interesting" in the hmm, curious, sense -- to try and bridge the gap between the public personality, the writings and the private person. I suppose that's one reason why I at least try not to let one tip over into the next -- someone may be a lovely human being but their work may be dull, or vice versa. Luci, I have a bio of Olivia Manning sitting here that I have been meaning to read for a while, and this may be the year, and if I recall correctly, it does make the connection between RL and fiction.

Another book that comes up in this context is Prague by Arthur Phillips. It's about a group of American expats living in Budapest -- and he based the characters on a group of people I know (some of them I know quite well; some were absolutely livid when they read the book.) I've never read it, although I've got a copy, for just that reason. For amusement, it may be interesting to know that the group included war correspondent Dexter Filkins, as well as Nick Denton (of gawker infamy), and Peter Maass, who also has done a lot of journalism. And Rebecca Meade, who at the time was in a relationship with Peter, and went on to write for the New Yorker. I vividly remember one NYC dinner party at which scathing remarks about the book and its author were flying around at a rapid rate... LOL. As long as I don't read the book, I will never be forced to think about whether the unlikable personality traits allegedly attributed to the characters actually reflect reality!!

Jan 4, 5:01 pm

>28 Berly: The "Wall of Shame" are books that I keep intending to read, that I SHOULD HAVE read, and that I feel guilty for not having read! And this is just the tip of that particular iceberg -- there are some that have been kicking around for eons. At least I'm now more likely to die with unread books, than be without something new to read!!

Jan 5, 10:51 am

>27 Chatterbox: I loved it. It's going to be hard to top it this year.

Jan 9, 4:42 pm

>35 Chatterbox: "The Wall of Shame" That's what I thought. And I have one of those. Actually two. The one downstairs hold books that go way back. The piles sunder my bedroom windows are the more current Shamers. LOL. But I prefer to think of them kinda like security blankets. Just like you said, knowing I have books to read makes me a calmer, happier person!

Jan 9, 11:08 pm

>37 Berly: I love that redefinition -- 'security blankets'. I'm going to adopt it as a moniker!! (And use it the next time someone tells me sternly that I'm hoarding books...)

I read a book of Bertie Wooster stories by PG Wodehouse and two things struck me. The first? The number of aunts and uncles that plague the lives of Wodehouse's characters. Secondly, it's tough to read stories back to back. Next time I embark on an anthology of Wodehouse, I'll ration them more judiciously. (I listened to one or two at night before bedtime, but they kinda blurred together). I MAY have read this before when I was 12 or 13, and embarked on a Wodehouse binge, but I have absolutely no memory of any of the stories, so I'm not going to log it as a re-read.

Jan 10, 11:46 pm

I really wish Natalie Bakopoulos had written more novels. I've just read her second (an ARC obtained at the just-before-the-pandemic ALA gathering) entitled Scorpionfish, and loved it. (Ignore the two reviews on the book's LT page, one of 'em is full of spoilers.) This is a tale that unfolds slowly, centered around relationships, loss, parents and children -- and the sense of exile or belonging. One character belongs to the sea, one is herself when she immerses herself in art, and a third is caught between Greece and the US. Nothing is straightforward or 'easy', but my patience as the narrative made its way slowly to its conclusion was rewarded, both by the writing and the characterizations. I read The Green Shore years ago when it first appeared, and I think it was a highlighted book for me. Don't want to wait as long for the next...

Jan 12, 8:52 am

Belated happy reading in 2023, Suzanne!

Jan 12, 11:06 pm

>40 FAMeulstee: Thanks!

Had a super-busy one-day trip to NYC, which allowed for a micro meetup with Judy and Jim (ffortsa and magicians_nephew), who kind gave me their comfy sofa to sleep on). Arrived late one evening, and left early the next evening, and ran around to medical appointments and on errands the rest of the day (with a severe case of migraine brain, the confusion that goes along with having a migraine). It was lovely to see LT friends (wouldn't let anyone take a meetup pic though...) Spent much of today that didn't have to be allocated to work just trying to recover from the headache and the fatigue.

No book shopping! The only exciting thing was finally getting the final smidgens of fabric that I'm going to need to finish the quilt top I'm making for a friend's daughter, who is expecting her first baby in the next few weeks. I'm tempted to turn it over to Gotham Quilts in NYC to do the longarm quilting for it, as putting together the quilt sandwich (the top, which I will piece, with batting and backing) is a REAL PAIN in the posterior. And machine quilting can be done in a week. I will take a few months. I'm going to start work on it this weekend, I hope.

Not much exciting book news. Queen High, which will be published later this spring in the US, is the sequel to Widowland by CJ Carey, but was more of a struggle. Some books about alternative history in the context of WW2 are quite clever; this one dealt in a lot of implausibilities that felt unnecessary. The author leaves the door open for a third book, but I doubt I'll read it.

I did think My Fourth Time, We Drowned by Sally Hayden is a very important book that gets better as its focus widens. Her writing about the plight of individual migrants in Libya is horrifying, but the risk is that it starts to numb the reader and feel repetitive. And this is so serious, that it should never happen. The details of torture and abuse are grueling, and up to a point, important -- but not when the only things that change are the names and locations. That said, when she pulls back and looks at the EU's complicity in what's happening, in how we define "migrants" (and how we might put them in a different category, as people victimized because of this label), and in the lasting impact this trauma has, the book becomes absolutely fascinating. It's also valuable in making explicit the link between colonialism and the 'migrant crisis', and in exploring how the legacy of that colonialism created dysfunctional systems that people will go to these horrific lengths to escape. I've found myself thinking a lot about what is meant by borders and migrants in this context.

And then, on hobbling through Port Authority (the NYC bus terminal), I spotted the area that has been blocked off and is being used to provide a place for migrants that have been bussed to New York to be and access services and help. What a world we inhabit...

Jan 13, 9:57 pm

Recommended: The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff. It's a laugh-out-loud revenge drama set in a small Indian village where the women (of various castes, religions and backgrounds) seek revenge on some of the men in their lives in myriad creative ways. A debut novel, but fresh in voice/tone/plot.

Jan 14, 7:24 am

>42 Chatterbox: - Sounds like a good read!

Jan 15, 7:36 am

>41 Chatterbox: The Sally Hayden book sounds like in important read. I hope it will be translated, so I can read it.
I have always disliked borders as a concept, and nationalism. Sadly these days the EU has closed it's borders, and doesn't do much to help the people in the former colonies.

Jan 17, 9:42 am

Hope 2023 is kind to you!

Jan 17, 12:48 pm

>45 ChelleBearss: Thanks so much! Here's hoping that your 2023 gets easier as time passes -- and my condolences.

Jan 17, 2:42 pm

Very exciting. There's a new standalone book just published today by Colin Cotterill, author of the marvellous Dr. Siri mysteries. It's set in Thailand. Hoping it will be as compelling as the Dr. Siri books, and more fun than his previous Thailand-set books, which were a bit meh.

Jan 18, 10:51 pm

Thoroughly relished a re-read of book #2 of the Carbonel books about magic talking cats -- one of my childhood faves and it never fails to boost my mood.

Early One Morning by Robert Ryan is a book I picked up many moons ago in a Kindle freebie sale from Open Road Books, and it took me a long while to get around to reading it because I thought it was all about racecar driving. Well, nope. It's based on the story of two racecar drivers of the 1930s and Paris in wartime and it's a good read.

Notes on an Execution was remarkable and disturbing debut novel from author Danya Kukafka. It's a multi-POV story of a murderer awaiting execution day on death row -- and how he got there. The perspectives are fascinating, from a cop who knew the murderer as a young child, from one of a pair of twin sisters who meet him later, and from his mother. Other women make their way into the story, one in a most memorable way. There are no unconvincing plot twists, and a lot to think about in terms of how we're all the product of choices -- not just our own, but those made by the other people around us. Recommended, but there's a dark element here and quite a lot of the ugly side of humanity, alas.

Jan 20, 5:23 pm

First five-star book of the year: Orwell's Roses by Rebecca Solnit links Orwell's love of gardening, and especially roses, to his insistence that doctrinaire political systems take the "roses" out of "bread and roses" and the joy out of life. Beautifully written; impeccably argued.

Jan 21, 12:16 pm

>49 Chatterbox: Ooh, you got me with Orwell’s Roses! Thanks for the heads-up!

Karen O

Jan 21, 1:55 pm

>49 Chatterbox: Interesting!

Jan 21, 11:10 pm

Adding a good "bad book" and a mediocre "good book" to the list: by which I mean, Ruth Ware turns out potboilers, but The It Girl was immensely readable (even though I figured out the solution fairly early and in spite of the fact that the plotline is a trope). And, sigh, The Italian by Shukri Mabkhout was a trudge of a read. I ended up not really caring about the main character of finding him annoying and not convincing enough as a classic "dislikable character" for that alternative to work. The author also struggles to write convincing/sympathetic female characters -- talk about writing while employing a "male gaze"! Either his female characters are feminine and sympathetic, or resist his male character's "love" and insist on pursuing their own goals. I expect more from most of the Europa titles I read; this one irritated me. Sure, the political ideas (co-option, resistance) and the Tunisian setting are interesting, but I need more than that in a book.

I think I'm going to have to go and (re) read Carbonel and Calidor to get the taste of the latter out of my mouth. Talking cats are a great option.

Jan 21, 11:32 pm

>48 Chatterbox: Notes on an Execution is one I will look for, Suz.

I almost plumped for The Italian this month but looks like I wisely won't quite get the time to get to it.

Jan 22, 9:37 am

Talking cats never fail. I also like talking mice. Suzanne, have you read Esther Averill's Jenny Linsky books?

Jan 22, 9:58 pm

>54 libraryperilous: Nope, not familiar at all! Will check them out. Talking cats or talking mice?

Editado: Jan 22, 10:15 pm

>55 Chatterbox: Jenny and the Cat Club features cats. I loved it as a kid. My copy was an Armada paperback but it was republished a few years ago by NYRB as part of their Children's Collection. It's some sort of collection from original books.

Jan 29, 12:04 pm

>49 Chatterbox: The gardening book sounds interesting.

Jan 29, 12:13 pm

>55 Chatterbox: Cats! Jenny is a shy little black cat who wears a bright red scarf for courage. :)

Jan 29, 3:34 pm

Hi Suzanne, have you read any Kate Zambreno? I just read two of her books, one after the other and ordered two more. Different, way out of my comfort zone but I loved them both.

Jan 29, 9:04 pm

Hope all is well, Suz, as you are not often away for more than a week at a time.

Jan 30, 1:47 am

>1 Chatterbox: I apologize that I haven't visited your thread this year until now, the end of January 2023! I very much enjoy the artistry of the dutch painters and their work.

All good wishes.

Jan 30, 8:44 pm

Hello, everyone! I had a difficult work week/headache week, topped off with a trip back to Canada to help my father with more stuff. Just arrived in the Great White North to do just that, and already am missing the felines...

>55 Chatterbox: I have a very NOT shy little black cat, LOL. Minka is already sucking up to my landlord's son, who is on cat feeding duty while I'm gone. But she will miss me...

>49 Chatterbox: It starts off as being about gardening, but what I loved is that it darts all over the place -- aesthetics is really the heart of it all. A joy to read, and very thoughtful.

Jan 31, 8:25 am

>62 Chatterbox: I miss my cats while I'm at work. I'm really dreading a spell this summer when I won't have them with me for a couple weeks.

Jan 31, 9:10 am

>62 Chatterbox: Welcome back! Hope things with your dad go smoothly!

Jan 31, 6:18 pm

Sorry to hear you've had to make another trip to your father. Hope whatever you have to sort out is resolved.

Jan 31, 9:22 pm

My father didn't seem to know who I was or respond to me in any way today. Which means I'm having to develop lots of next-stage care plans. I knew he had deteriorated since fall -- but not how badly.

Not up to posting much more at the moment.

Fev 1, 3:10 am

>66 Chatterbox: So sorry to hear that Suzanne.

Fev 1, 8:40 am

>66 Chatterbox: sorry to hear your news about your father.

Fev 1, 10:08 am

>66 Chatterbox: I'm sorry, Suzanne.

Fev 1, 2:06 pm

Another sorry, Suzanne. I wish that all his care didn't fall on you. I wish you strength and patience and love to get it done and get back home.

Fev 1, 2:50 pm

I’m so sorry to hear this, Suzanne. I’ve been through a similar process and know how stressful it is. Thinking of you and wishing you strength.

Fev 1, 5:04 pm

{{strength}}, Suzanne.

Fev 1, 5:40 pm

I send all good wishes for your father. This must weigh heavily on your mind.

All good wishes,

Editado: Fev 2, 11:50 pm

Well, my father is veering in and out of knowing where he is, who he is, etc. But he rapidly becomes disoriented and says he just wants to go home. It's only a matter of time before things become much worse. It's sad and depressing and forcing a final realization that I don't really have parents any more -- my mother has opted out of my life, and my father is vanishing from his own life.

Trying to keep up the reading, but it's tough. A longtime friend of my father's flew out from British Columbia for a brief visit -- just a day -- and it was very hard for them to sustain a conversation. Roger did heroically, but it's very difficult for him. Tomorrow my brother claims he is driving over from Toronto, but we'll see. He didn't reply to my text asking him what time he might be here. Then on the weekend friends from Texas will be here, and theoretically we're going to go to the Aga Khan Museum just north of Toronto. My father continues to desperately look forward to this, so I need to make it work, and I hope that he'll be compos mentis enough to be aware that he is there, etc. The visiting friends will have a rental car, and there will be three of us to help with my father, so that's about the right ratio!!

ETA: Thanks for all the good wishes; much appreciated.

Fev 3, 6:36 am

Don't go out today or tomorrow if you don't have to, Suzanne. It's going to be bitterly and dangerously cold. The Aga Khan Museum is a lovely place. I have been there a few times.

My mum, too, is starting down that road. It is heartbreaking. Is he in a full care facility? Are you comfortable with the care he is receiving? Deep breaths, and just do whatever you can and need to do. Don't forget a little self-care, too.


Fev 3, 10:03 am

Thinking of you, Suzanne, in this really difficult time. It's such a heavy burden for you. Sending you best wishes and hope you can take care of yourself too. Stay warm!

Fev 3, 10:08 am

I'm an echo. I'll add real gratitude for people who love your father enough to come long distances to be with him.

Fev 3, 12:37 pm

>75 jessibud2: Unfortunately, I DO have to go over today, but I'll take an Uber and won't walk. I can see/feel how cold it is out there. And I have my winter hat and my big faux fur neck wrap thingummy AND my Canadian insulated gloves!! I'm ready for this... I have been taking Cedar, the resident chocolate lab at my Airbnb, for walks in the early evenings when I get 'home', as Nigel, his human/my host has been battling a tummy bug of some kind. So walking a dog that just wants to pee on snowmen and roll in the snow is my dose of self-care.

My father is not in a full care facility right now. He's in a residential facility and I think gets excellent care. When the staff find him becoming hard to manage, he could get an enhanced level of care where he is -- for a price that I can't afford to pay. So at that point, we will have to look at nursing homes. I've spent a significant chunk of time there, and I'm impressed at how personal the care is. Obviously, I'm seeing their "best face", but it's clean, he's located where he can call for help or people will spot him if he starts to roam, and while he wants to "get out", he's still safer and more comfortable than he would have been at home and when he's oriented, he realizes this.

Tks again for all the moral support; it's a big help.

>77 LizzieD: Yes, it's got to be tough for people like Roger, who has known my father for more than 30 years and now sees him literally shrunken and not all there. I think it was very distressing for him, but he was a champ -- esp. since he was suddenly widowed just last year and is struggling with his own stuff.

My brother has opted not to come today so I'm taking some time to do some work until later this afternoon.

Fev 3, 12:46 pm

I am sorry about your father's deteriorating health. The Aga Khan Museum is amazing and friends have really like the restaurant there.

Fev 5, 5:21 pm

Well we made it to the Aga Khan Museum! Dad was (I think) thrilled to be there, and we all LOVED the food at Diwan, the museum restaurant. I had lamb samosas with a wonderful yoghurt/cilantro dipping sauce, then butter chicken with the best naan I've tasted on this continent. Dad shared those with me, and then went through about 1 1/2 chocolate desserts, while I ate some mango sorbet, which also was delicious. His friends from Texas did the driving and helped me getting him in and out, though feeding duty was all mine, lol.

Now we're all zonked for the day, and it's going to be an early/quiet evening. We returned Dad and he was sundowning already, so just in the nick of time.

Fev 5, 5:25 pm

>80 Chatterbox: Well we made it to the Aga Khan Museum!
What a high note!

Fev 5, 5:40 pm

So glad you made it there and that the weather today was warmer than earlier in the week. I'm sure that helped, too. It's a beautiful place, isn't it?

Fev 5, 10:17 pm

And now we're paying the price for the Aga Khan Museum. My father is "sundowning", big time -- calling me telling me that people are threatening him with guns and beating him up. I arrive to find that the staff have been trying to get him ready for bed... but he wants to call the police anyway.

And... my Airbnb host is in the hospital ER with suspected appendicitis, so I'm dog-sitting.

Never, ever a dull moment around here.

Fev 6, 2:28 am

Wow, I hope you get some dull moments soon. I'm glad the museum trip went well, at least.

Fev 6, 7:08 pm

Welp, no dull moments on the horizon. Have had to cancel my return due to an emergency with my father's vision. His cornea is toast, probably, and there's also the possibility of a tumor. Taking him to a specialist in Toronto tomorrow.

Fev 6, 7:30 pm

Oh no. When it rains, it pours! Good luck!

Fev 9, 9:38 am

Suzanne, so sorry to hear about your father's health issues. It is so difficult watching someone you love deteriorate, and trying to deal with care and finances is hard work on top of emotional issues. I wish you strength and comfort.

Mar 6, 4:34 pm

I'm horribly behind on my reading updates. Got back home after my prolonged Canadian sojurn about three weeks ago, and have to go back yet again next week...

But I felt the impetus to post something after reading a swathe of online reviews by people who didn't like/enjoy Elizabeth Finch by Julian Barnes. I just finished it and found it to be the kind of short novel that packs a LOT of ideas into a relatively small number of pages (I think it's about 200 pages long? My copy was digital, so...) It starts off with the narrator's recollections of the title character, whose lessons (in literature? philosophy? never really made clear) to a group of older students in their 30s/40s had a major impact on his life, and with whom he remained in touch almost until her death. EF, as he refers to her frequently, liked to take big ideas and then see how they were explored more specifically -- a pedagogical approach that Barnes mirrors in the novel. And the big idea that Barnes is tackling, which is reflected in the narrator and EF's engagement with each other and with other characters, seems to be about the difficulty of knowing/understanding others. EF is someone who doesn't care whether she is understood or not -- she seems to be a classic Stoic (impt -- not stoic, but Stoic), making distinctions between what matters and what doesn't matter, and believing that someone else knows/understands you isn't important or perhaps even possible. So, this idea swirls around generally, and in the middle there's an apparently clunky section about Julian the Apostate, a figure from Roman history who fascinates both EF and the narrator.

I rated it 4.3 stars, but may end up boosting that after this all sinks in. And I have to say that the writing was beautiful, elegant, crisp and such a delight after some exceptionally mediocre writing in what could have been much stronger books.

Mar 6, 4:54 pm

I've become a somewhat surprised fan of Richard Osman's mysteries, having just finished The Bullet that Missed. What I really enjoy about these books is the fact that even though people end up being evil and sometimes dying, and bad things happen, the core is about people who find community and support and who are vastly more than the worst things they are or have done. For instance, the characters of Bogdan, Elizabeth and Connie -- all have elements that make them "unlikeable" in conventional eyes. But all of those characters transcend that in very different ways. It's a unique entry into a crowded and often lookalike field.

Alas, have had some mediocre non-fiction that really didn't do justice to the overall idea. Pitch Perfect turned a competition among a cappella singing groups into a dull slog, and left me with lots of questions about poorly explained concepts that I didn't care enough to follow up on. Enslaved: The Sunken History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade by Simcha Jacobovici and Sean Kingsley, should have been compelling -- the podcast certainly was -- but ended up being so intent on reminding us every page, and every sentence, of the tremendous significance of every action that I wanted to scream. The books revolves around a group of divers who are Black or POC, and who are trying to capture and preserve the historical artifacts connected with the slave trade. Too much emphasis on description of mundane actions, and too much repetition of the same emotions over and over again, turned this into a book that's worthy but ponderous -- and a reminder to writers to trust their readers to understand stuff instead of bludgeoning them over the head with the message, however important it is.

Another underwhelming book is Agent Josephine about Josephine Baker. I really wanted to relish this, but the writing was clunky and trite and def. didn't do justice to the topic.

What HAS been memorable and worthwhile?

The Angel of Rome by Jess Walter -- I had read an earlier book of his and hadn't loved it that much. Then I picked up this from the local library when visiting my father, and it blew me away. A collection of pitch-perfect short stories. Memo to self: read more by this author.

Good Citizens Need Not Fear by Maria Reva -- Set in the Ukraine in the Soviet, perestroika and independence eras, these loosely-linked stories made me gasp with astonishment. The author's fertile imagination takes her in some fascinating directions.

The Return by Dulce Maria Cardoso was a book I picked up specifically for Paul's TIOLI challenge to read a book written in Portuguese (having no interest at the moment in reading more Saramago). It was fabulous. Written from the POV of a teenage boy whose family are part of the Portuguese colonists who must leave Angola during decolonization, and return to a homeland they don't know, it explores racism bluntly and honestly, both from the POV of someone who is white and in Africa, and from the POV of that same person who, when repatriated to Portugal, becomes a second-class citizen himself because of his status as a returnee. I wish more of her books had been translated!

A little more predictable in terms of my reaction:

Horse by Geraldine Brooks was moving, thought-provoking, with great characters and a fascinating plot.

Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes may not have been quite as compelling as her previous novels (in other words, a notch below a five-star book!) but she explores the world of the battling gods on Olympus and in particular of Medusa, whom she makes a compelling character.

Mar 6, 5:05 pm

Well, thanks for taking those book bullets for us, so we don't have to, and for the more positive comments as well. Sorry you have to go back up to Canada. I hope that settles down for you soon.

Mar 6, 5:25 pm

I am now retired and on Friday will be heading for Kansas to do for my mother what you have been doing in Canada. It is not going to be a pleasant stay. I will be there for a month - at least.

Mar 6, 5:26 pm

I got a BB from you for Stone Blind. I just finished reading her book A Thousand Ships and enjoyed it.

Mar 6, 6:34 pm

>89 Chatterbox: revolves around a group of divers who are Black or POC, and who are trying to capture and preserve the historical artifacts connected with the slave trade
Oh, National Association of Black Scuba Divers / Diving with a Purpose was in the Netflix documentary about the Clotilda which I watched after reading The Last Slave Ship. Enslaved: The Sunken History of the Transatlantic Slave Trade does sound compelling and is exactly the sort of book I'd pick up because of the connection, so I'll keep your review in mind. I didn't know about the podcast.

Mar 6, 6:53 pm

>93 qebo: I'd recommend the podcast over the book. I hoped it would be compelling; my attention was drawn to it because of a reference to DWAP in a book I read about the deep ocean and the Titanic, of all things. Sinkable was absolutely compelling and included a range of related stories about what happens in the deep seas, and included references to Diving with a Purpose. I think it's a fab organization, but the book didn't do justice to it or to the people involved. It read like a movie-to-book adaptation. Sigh. I do want to watch that documentary, though.

Mar 6, 6:57 pm

>90 ffortsa: I hate reporting on the books to avoid, but I've had a cluster of them so far this year. Maybe I'm becoming a grumpier reader as I get older?? Or I'm less selective due to stress? Still, it's always interesting to find books that I was ambivalent or wary of turn out to blow me away, as well as those for which I had high hopes that disappointed me.

Speaking of high hopes, I just was approved for an e-galley of Tan Twan Eng's upcoming third novel, The House of Doors. Really really looking forward to that; I may save it to read as a treat should I get stuck in Canada yet again.

Mar 7, 5:07 am

>3 Chatterbox: Congratulations on reaching 75, Suzanne!

Mar 7, 4:21 pm

>96 FAMeulstee: omigosh, I hadn't even realized that I had passed that milestone! Thanks!

Mar 8, 10:24 am


Mar 8, 3:03 pm

Reading The Road to Lichfield by Penelope Lively has been a bit weird. It's an excellent novel -- and mind-bending to realize it was her debut adult work -- but the protagonist is a woman whose elderly father has Parkinson's and dementia. What is particularly poignant for me right now are the scenes capturing life from what Lively imagines as being his POV. As I realize the extent of my father's growing retreat into dementia and confusion, it's actually helping me consider how he perceives his world now.

Mar 8, 5:58 pm

Just got approved for the audiobook e-galley of Starter Dog by Rona Maynard, a RL friend, who narrates the book herself. Looking forward to this!! (Even thought it's about dogs, not cats...)

Mar 10, 7:00 pm

Another emergency trip to Canada. My father has largely stopped eating and interacting with people, and is increasingly confused. An ER doctor told me yesterday that he's in the end stages of Parkinson's. What that means, when some days are very bad and then occasionally one is ok or "good" (by current standards) is anyone's guess. So, I need to be there. Again. This time I'm flying Providence-Charlotte-Toronto, standby tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Mar 10, 7:22 pm

I feel your stress and fatigue. I just got home a few hours ago from Montreal, my second trip in under 3 weeks. Re my mum. It's hard and sad enough, watching them decline. But the geographical distance is what is doing me in and I imagine you are in the same boat.

Mar 10, 10:13 pm

>102 jessibud2: I hear you... I don't want to leave him on his own, but equally, it's hard to plan around this stuff. I'm frazzled. Trying to cope with work and with this and stay sane -- not terribly possible.

Mar 11, 12:51 am

>101 Chatterbox: >102 jessibud2: I am entirely empathetic, friends. My lot is so much easier because my mama is just across the street. Today marks the third anniversary of our isolation. Mama is 101, weighs less than 100 pounds, and is not eating. This week she has been more confused than usual. She breaks my heart, and I'm so tired and trying so hard to maintain patience. We can do this. Courage! Peace!

Mar 11, 7:25 pm

I am on my way back to Kansas to deal with this same issue with my mother. Right now she is in a complete care nursing home because she is not eating. I do have hope that it will get better this time, but here episodes are becoming more frequent and take more time and effort to deal with. I simply can’t do it from Alabama. So I have to make the trip home. Good luck Suz. Keep us posted.

Mar 11, 11:55 pm

>104 LizzieD: Oh, Peggy, you're in my thoughts... It's a long hard slog, and I don't think being close reduces the worst of it -- the emotional burden of seeing a parent retreat into some netherworld.

>105 benitastrnad: And the same to you Benita -- I hope the Kansas sojourn helps you and your mother.

Back in Canada again. I got the same immigration official who let me in at the end of January. "Weren't you just here?" Erm, yes. (What are the odds, honestly??) There is lotsa snow and it's pretty but I'm too zonked to appreciate it. The 'best' chance of my getting here via standby was to fly Providence to Charlotte, yup, the wrong direction, then double back to Toronto. I almost didn't get on the Toronto-bound plane. If another passenger hadn't thrown a temper tantrum about being deprived of his wheelie bag because the flight was packed and there was no bin storage left, and started cursing at the gate attendants, I'd still be in Charlotte. I got his seat next to a woman who was so restless that I just realized I have a small bruise in my ribs from one of her elbows! But I'm here and tucked up in my 'regular' Airbnb.

Falling behind on my reading, but I am relishing the new novel by Tanis Rideout.

Mar 16, 12:46 am

>106 Chatterbox: Thank you, Suzanne. I've been thinking about it and am not sure that this is true, but I'll pass it along anyway because it's all I have at the moment.

It's hard for a lifelong, goal oriented person to realize that, however unsatisfactory the present is, it's the best that she is ever going to have AND that she must keep up her effort even though it is ultimately going to fail. What I hope for is to keep Mama able to be herself for as long as she can and to give in gracefully when keeping on gets too much for her. What's left in the end is love.

Mar 16, 8:04 pm

Well, he's eating small bites -- he likes strawberry mousse, banana pudding and other such treats, as well as grapes and berries. He'll eat two or three very small bites of a main meal, and drink a lot of OJ. He's utterly emaciated -- think pictures of concentration camp victims, nothing but skin and bones, and you can see EVERY bone.

I stayed 4 nights at the Airbnb I've been spending too much time at recently, then moved to a friend's place about 30 miles away in Kitchener. I'll go back and forth on trains over the next few days and see how things go.

Won't bore you all with details of what I'm up to with logistics -- too overwhelming and far too dull.

I'm now officially hooked on the Brock & Kolla mysteries by Barry Maitland -- I read Silvermeadow quite a while ago, then followed with the next book, liked both, and now have read his next two in rapid succession.

Mar 17, 8:33 am

>108 Chatterbox: Have you read the first four Brock & Kolla books? (Silvermeadow is #5). I think I read the series up to Silvermeadow or possibly no 6, Babel nearly 20 years ago - I bought the first, The Marx Sisters in a specialist mystery bookshop in NYC, the one linked to Otto Penzler, in January 2001. It's a series I'd like to get back to but it's been so long I feel I'd have to start again from the beginning....

Mar 17, 1:05 pm

>109 elkiedee: Nope, haven't read the first four books. I may circle back and do that at some point, but for now I'll just keep chugging along!

Mar 17, 2:04 pm

I am dealing with the very same issue as you are. I arrived here to learn that my mother was admitted to the hospital suffering from severe dehydration and symptoms of malnutrition. She has lost almost 10 pounds since Christmas. She is going to stay in the skilled care nursing home. She is showing improvement and is now meeting with the physical therapist once a day and so is strong enough to get some exercise. I am reduced to going there once a day and taking her some tea and some kind of sweet thing to eat. I took a peach upside down cake for a couple of days and today I will take a banana date cake slice. I am going to have to start going through the boxes of stuff I brought from my office and doing some recycling, but it has been so windy here that I hate to open the car door. It has been cold here as well. Yesterday there was snow, rain, and sleet most of the day. Today the sun is out, but it is cold. I did get to spend 2 hours reading. I am reading Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow. It was perfect for reading. All that natural sunlight. Plus it was warm sitting with my back to the sun.

It is not a pleasant mission that we are on. In fact it is mentally arduous.

Mar 17, 2:38 pm

Once again, I'll add our lot. My mama had gained 6 ounces over 3 months at her last doctor visit - we celebrated! She weighs less than 100 pounds now (she was once 5'10", but osteoporosis has eaten her spine) and is back in chew it up and spit it out mode. She will swallow potatoes and potato chips, bananas, peanut butter, luncheon meat, and anything sweet - especially chocolate-covered nuts. The problem is not her teeth. It's not swallowing. The only answer I've gotten when I ask, "Why aren't you swallowing that?" is, "I don't need all that bulk."
It's so discouraging. I really, really, really don't want to go back to liquid supplements. She might drink a Boost with ice cream a couple of times, but she finds them unpalatable; so would I.

I have no knowledge. Like you both, I can only keep on.

Mar 17, 3:07 pm

Sympathy to you all. I really had no idea until it hit my family, and now I don't know how people manage from a distance. We were in family emergency mode for a year and a half after my father had a stroke and my mother clearly could not live alone and then cascaded into various medical troubles. Even with two brothers, all of us local, all of us on the same page about decisions and divvying up the tasks, parents in a graduated retirement community with a skilled care unit, it was utterly exhausting with a bazillion phone calls and appointments, and I'm still digging out financially from all the time off work. My father died two years ago but my mother is still alive and not happy about it, and it is just so emotionally draining to watch someone who was known for her organizational skills literally losing her mind. And unfortunately the most difficult aspects of her personality are prominent so more patience than I naturally possess is needed.

Mar 17, 3:50 pm

All my sympathies to you. It's very hard to see a parent decline so much, and probably the same for a spouse.

I'm a few years or a decade ahead of you, as is Jim. Our parents are freed from that decline by now. But we have many friends who are our age or older, and I see them starting to decline as well. I anticipate a difficult decade.

Your care and resilience are admirable, but that doesn't make it any easier. Wishing each of you all the help and comfort that you need.

Editado: Mar 20, 11:01 pm

Group hug to all of my fellow caregivers. I didn't anticipate my thread becoming a support network -- but I'm glad it can play this role.

I've been wrestling with the need to make a decision about whether to stay here and wait it out, or go home now and return in days/a week/two weeks. I would be very surprised if it were longer than that. My father hasn't really responded coherently to anyone since last Wednesday or Thursday, and today he stopped swallowing even water.

Peggy, I'd suggest puree-ing food? We actually ran a piece of chocolate cake through the food processor until it was mush. He clearly wanted to eat it but couldn't manage to swallow anything. Maybe if there's a sweet treat that your mama loves, you could "de-bulk" it (and even sneakily add protein powder or Boost/Ensure??) by turning it into something that's simple to swallow but still super tasty? Edited to add: someone at my father's care home (sadly only a part-timer) makes amazing smoothies, with fresh fruit, yoghurt, protein powder, Boost, and maple syrup. Dad was still eagerly consuming those until last week.

I don't know what my father weighs now. I will say that he has gone from being somewhat overweight, to being underweight and now to emaciation. He is literally bones held together by skin.

I keep telling myself that all I want for him is a peaceful end. But that feels so banal. At least, palliative care orders are in place, and the nurses have put a camera in place in his room so that they can monitor him remotely. Today I had the unenviable job of spending an hour or so at a local funeral home to get that paperwork done. I'm scheduled to fly home to Rhode Island on Wednesday. It was either that, or check back into the Airbnb in Guelph, which I can't really afford. I've decided to go home in hopes that at least I'll get some work done -- which is kinda mission critical right now.

Friends -- mine and my father's -- have been amazing.

>114 ffortsa: Yes, I agree about a difficult decade to come. Actually, I anticipate that from here on out, the news will be of losses among friends, etc. It started slowly a few years ago, but will only gather speed. Some days, I just want to find the "pause" button and pummel it until it works.

Hang in there, everyone...

Mar 21, 12:01 am

Peace, Suzanne. I remember Mama saying about her last sister, "Poor Flora. She just can't die." We're not at that point yet, and I'm sorry that you are.

Thank you for the suggestion about pureeing food. I had thought of that, but haven't looked into it. We do have an appetite stimulant that works a little, but if I use it too often, it doesn't work at all.

If it means anything, I'm sure your decision to go back home for now is a wise one. Be safe.

Mar 21, 3:28 am

Thinking of you, Suzanne. It's such a difficult time you are going through. Look after yourself.

Mar 21, 9:43 am

I am sorry to hear about your father's state of health. Yes, going home is a good idea. Keep in touch with the nurses- they will let you know when you should come back. ( based on experience of one of my friends.)

Mar 21, 4:12 pm

Thanks for all the support re going home. It reassured me that I had made the right call...

Mar 22, 8:38 am

>115 Chatterbox:, >119 Chatterbox: It reassured me that I had made the right call...
Oh my yes, waiting has to be the worst.

Mar 22, 12:16 pm

I have been making the rounds of doctors this last week, with the last one coming in a few hours. So far my mother has been diagnosed with "failure to thrive." All of this is leading to the fact that we have to decide whether palliative care is our option, and if she wants to stay in the skilled nursing care center. It is not the best of places, but the people who are working with her are nice and I was impressed with them at the meeting I had with them. For now she is getting the best care possible. All of my sisters and I are gathering at Easter and we will need to have some deep discussions with my mother to find out what she wants to do. That includes what she wants for the end of her life, as it is clear that is coming.

Another option is that I move home and live with her. That is going to involved putting my life on hold, and I am not sure that I want to do that. There will also be some other adjustments that my mother is going to have to make and I am not sure that she wants to make those. I have a feeling that Easter will be a trying time for all of us.

Mar 23, 1:54 am

>121 benitastrnad: Wow does this ever resonate. I hope you manage to have some thoughtful and helpful conversations with your mother. It's a tough topic. Something I'm grateful for is the fact that my father really didn't want me to drop everything and put my life on hold for him. Which makes it a bit easier to do what I'm doing now -- when it makes a critical difference.

I made it home to Providence, but expect I'll be back in Canada within a week to ten days. The goal is to get as much work as possible done in that period...

Mar 26, 1:45 pm

My father died early this morning (Sunday). I had already booked a flight back for tomorrow morning, so I'll be AWOL for a little while, I think.

Mar 26, 1:45 pm


Mar 26, 2:21 pm

I am sorry to hear your news.

Mar 26, 3:25 pm

>123 Chatterbox:
I am sorry to hear that. You have my sympathy. Will look for you to post when you get back.

Mar 26, 4:42 pm

Suzanne, so sorry for your loss. A lot of sadness for you to process, please take care of yourself.

Mar 26, 5:06 pm

>123 Chatterbox: I'm sorry.

Mar 26, 9:37 pm

So sorry for your loss…

Mar 26, 10:23 pm

I'm very sorry for the loss of your father, Suzanne. And hopeful that this brings you some peace along with sadness.

Mar 26, 10:50 pm

I'm sorry for your loss Suzanne

Mar 26, 11:13 pm

I am very sorry for your loss Suzanne.

Mar 26, 11:32 pm

I feared this was the case when I saw the number of posts and no responses from you. I'm sorry, Suzanne. Peace, friend.

Mar 26, 11:38 pm

I’m so sorry, Suzanne.

Mar 27, 8:23 am

Sorry for your loss, Suzanne. Good luck navigating all the sadmin.

Mar 28, 8:29 pm

So sorry for your loss.

Mar 30, 1:20 pm

>123 Chatterbox: I'm very sorry to hear that Suzanne.

Mar 30, 9:08 pm

I'm sorry for your loss, and especially the loss of the father you remember fondly, but glad you will no longer be torn.

As people may remember, a big part of moving back to Kansas was to be close enough to help my sister out with my mother, who is now in assisted living. Nan is still working, and I spend two days a week taking Mom to and from appointments and running her errands and having lunch with her. She is healthy but frets over her limited mobility and hearing problems, and I can see she is starting to become more easily confused about things. She does enjoy her apartment at The Place, though, and the social life there--several of her friends live there as well. She goes through two Boosts a day--one for breakfast and one in the night, but still eats pretty well. Just turned 92.

Be well, Sun, and take care of yourself.

Mar 30, 11:16 pm

Adding my own condolences Suz. ((((((HUGS))))) to you dear lady.

I went through a very similar experience with my dear Grandmother and I know how hard that inexorable slip into the cognitive abyss is on the heartstrings.

((((Hugs)))) separately to Benita.

Abr 1, 3:17 pm

So sorry to read you lost your father, Suzanne, my condolences.

Abr 1, 5:24 pm

So sorry to read of your loss, Suzanne. I am so sorry. Take care.

Abr 2, 1:42 am

Thanks for all the good wishes. Just crawled in my front door after a grueling week in Canada cleaning out my dad's room, sorting things out as best I can. Took me 18 hours to get back, door to door, only 2.5 hours actually spent on planes. Don't ask. Combination of standby flights and hub-and-spoke airline routes. Oh, and nasty weather. ARGH.

Abr 2, 7:13 am

Sleep. Just sleep, until you don't need to. {{hugs}}

Abr 2, 9:54 am

SO GLAD you're home, Suz!

Abr 2, 12:58 pm

>142 Chatterbox:
If nothing else the cats will be happy to have you home, but they might not be in favor of you getting sleep. I am back in Tuscaloosa as well. For 4 days. I somehow left my tax information here, so am here doing my taxes and then will head back to Kansas to finish up that business.

Abr 4, 12:09 pm

>123 Chatterbox: I'm very sorry for your loss.

Abr 12, 5:50 pm

Thanks, everyone.

I'm finding that the whole post-loss grief process is affecting not just how much I read (less...) but also what I want to read. No "serious fiction" for now; that seems to require too much emotional intensity. Frivolous reading, light stuff, maybe a mystery or two, and some non-fiction. I'm on a good streak with the latter, having just listened to the audiobook of Fragile Cargo by Adam Brookes. The author had written three rather good spy thrillers centered around China, and he did an excellent job of telling the non-fiction yarn about a group of scholars and historians who undertook the heroic task of trying to stay one step ahead of the Japanese and moving the treasures from the Forbidden City in Beijing to new and more remote locations. Especially chilling is the segment of the book about the Japanese advance on Nanjing, as the curators tried desperately to get the irreplaceable treasures out, competing for rail and boat space with equally irreplaceable human beings... The saga went on for almost 15 years, and ended with some items in Taiwan and some returning to Beijing... The audio is also excellent; the author narrates and has a good/excellent knowledge of Chinese, which makes it all the better.

Speaking of audiobooks and accents -- I had hoped to listen to Hotel Pastis, one of two books by Peter Mayle that I really enjoy, only to find that the narrator does a crap job of the voices, and especially the French. Merde, alors.

Abr 12, 9:24 pm

>147 Chatterbox: Oh, I have so much been through that, Suz, after my husband's death!! Number of reads for the next year cut in half, and comfort rereads up to 50% of my total. It will get better with time.

Abr 12, 11:30 pm

Suzanne, I've just read & enjoyed two books you recently read and liked - the GN on Tokyo Rose and The Rose Revived.

Abr 13, 2:35 pm

>149 avatiakh: The Rose Revived is actually an old favorite of mine, dating back a few decades! I remember picking it up at Harrod's bookshop when I was in London, so probably in the early 90s? It was the first novel I had read by Katie Fforde, and one of the earliest "chick lit" novels I read. High-quality brain candy...

Abr 26, 6:00 pm

An interesting memoir "streak" for me.

Most recently, Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading by Maureen Corrigan, who's a book critic for NPR's Fresh Air, and whose take on books I tend to share more often than not. Worth reading, although it did send me down the rabbit hole with a re-read of Shining Through by Susan Isaacs, which she applauds as a savvy, well-written "lowbrow" book. I'll be looking for books by Anna Quindlen and reading Philip Roth's Patrimony, as a result of her mentions of these.

Very different topics, but surprisingly quite closely related. A friend's book was released this week -- in Starter Dog, Rona Maynard chronicles how a later-in-life canine adoption transforms not just her life's routines, but her sense of what life is and can be. Similarly, Field Notes From an Unintentional Birder is even quirkier, but has a similar message: that focusing intently on something quite other but with its own independent life (in this case, birds...) can open the door to self-discovery. Both rely on other species, self-aware in quite different ways, and don't take refuge in anthropomorphizing. Highly recommend both, although I think the latter book was a BB from an LT person a year or two ago. (Oh -- and both of these are by Canadian authors, and there are lotsa familiar references to Toronto and vicinity as a place for dog walking and birdwatching...)

Abr 26, 6:08 pm

>151 Chatterbox: - Maybe it was me. I read the Zarankin book a couple of years ago. I think I enjoyed it though it felt, at times, a bit *forced*. I also have the Maureen Corrigan book on my shelf but haven't read it yet. And I have enjoyed the writing of Rona Maynard. In fact, I still have an article I cut out of, I think, Chatelaine magazine, years ago, about books and reading. But, of course! I'll be looking for this new one!

You might like another Toronto writer, Kyo Maclear, whose Birds, Art, Life I quite enjoyed, too.

Abr 26, 10:55 pm

>152 jessibud2: Yes, Rona edited Chatelaine for eons (well, I'm exaggerating slightly...) One of the interesting reflections (for me, at least) was reading her reflections on having a perceived status within certain circles in Toronto/Canada. I had a bit of a taste of that, but while Rona enjoyed the affirmation, I hated having any kind of public profile, lol.

Abr 30, 9:06 pm

I hope that books and especially the memoirs you are reading are being therapeutic. x
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