Nickelini's Categories in 2023

Discussão2023 Category Challenge

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Nickelini's Categories in 2023

Editado: Mar 22, 4:08 pm

I'm back again. Last year I started off strong, but at the end of the first quarter we bought a new house and I had no room in my brain for reading. I really liked the categories and everything I'd set up, so I'm just going to copy it all over here and try again. I can see this is going to be a busy year, so not sure if I'll make much progress. Don't get annoyed if I repeat these in 2024 ;-)

Spring is finally here!

New to me plants! My house came with hellibores and they were the first plants to bloom in my garden, even before the croci. Why haven't I grown these before!


This is a picture of my new house that I took back in December when we had snow. It's all melted now, but I like this wintry picture. The windows to the left of the staircase are for the room that will become my library.

Editado: Jan 3, 9:59 pm


Editado: Jan 3, 10:00 pm

Canadian Diversity

Editado: Jan 3, 10:02 pm


My daughter did her semester abroad in Switzerland in 2017, and then moved there in 2018. I visited her in December 2017, May 2019, December 2021, and May 2022. I hope to visit again in 2023. Since she first went there, I've been trying to read as much about Switzerland, and Swiss literature. Unfortunately, as a country of only about 8 million people, there isn't a lot of translated books coming out of Switzerland. Looking for any suggestions of books that are not written by old white men.

Editado: Jan 3, 10:04 pm


Two of my most memorable books of 2022 were set in France and written by French authors. Looking for more.

Editado: Jan 3, 10:05 pm


My husband and daughters have Italian citizenship, and I'm working toward citizenship too so that we can travel to Europe for longer periods. Italian is a beautiful language, and I love the culture. This thread is for everything Italian. Unfortunately, my Italian-related books were packed up in spring and I only found them a week or so ago, so I didn't read as many in 2022 as I had planned. Maybe 2023 will be my year to read Italy.

Editado: Jan 3, 10:07 pm

Book Club

I love my book club, but I don't read everything that we vote on. Here are the ones I do read:

Editado: Jan 3, 10:11 pm


I plan to have one fiction and one non-fiction book going at the same time. But despite that plan, it doesn't usually work that way. In 2022, I read 17% non-fiction (+ 11% memoir), down from about 25% generally over the last few decades and probably 75% in the 90s. I'm interested in home decor and gardening, so if I find some enticing books in those categories, I may read more non-fiction in 2023.

Editado: Jan 3, 10:12 pm


Editado: Jan 3, 10:14 pm

Books in Translation

In 2022 I read 21% books in translation, and I'm looking to read more if I can find the right books. Not everything fun or popular is translated into English. We tend to be literary heavy, and I'm growing bored of that and looking for wider reads that capture more culture.

Editado: Jan 3, 10:15 pm

Nuovo – New Books, New Topics

Editado: Jan 3, 10:15 pm

Big Books

I own some books that are big, without being long reads. They are bullies on the bookshelf, and I need to move them out and make room for right-sized books. Also, long books can get in line here.

Editado: Jan 3, 10:23 pm

Guardian 1000




Family & Self:

Sci-Fi & Fantasy:

State of the Nation:

War & Travel:

Editado: Jan 3, 10:17 pm

My Bingo Cards

I make up my own Bingo categories:

Editado: Jan 3, 10:22 pm

Just For Fun: Words

I have these stickers that have assorted words, designed for people to stick in their scrapbooks or photo albums. I've had them for years and I'm never going to use them up. I had an idea to randomly list some in my reading journal, and I will attach books to each word. It's a little like the Bingo game. Here are the words I pulled out:

Beautiful -
Because -
Calm -
Charming -
Delightful -
Fear -
Important -
Journey -
Memories -
Near -
Noble -
Ordinary -
Possible -
Pretend -
Real -
Shine -
Strength -
Timeless -
Travel -
Up -
Want -
Wings -

Jan 3, 8:00 pm

1. Shiver, Allie Reynolds, 2020

cover comments: Is this a thriller set on an isolated mountain top? Who knew?

Comments: Ten years since she's seen them last, and ten years since someone in the group disappeared, Milla meets up with a group of fellow Brits who she used to snowboard with back in the French Alps. Once they are at the top of the mountain, they find they are trapped, their phones disappear, and someone is seriously messing with them. Is it one of the others, or someone else. The story is told in alternating chapters "Now" and "Ten Years Ago".

I found that the villain was unrealistically evil, and that actually Milla acted pretty much the same, even though she's the protagonist. Further, I found Milla's drama over her love triangle and crushes was a yawn. I did like the unique Olympic-level snowboarding background (if a bit over detailed), and I loved the French Alps setting.

Oh, and the explanation to the mystery and conclusion was ridiculous.

Rating: lots of rave reader reviews for this, quite a few hate reviews too. I'd give it 2 stars, but the setting bumps it up to 3. Although it's a bit of a stinker, I don't mind that I read it.

Why I Read This Now: I thought it would be a fun, snowy end to 2022. It snuck into the new year.

Recommended for: people who aren't very selective about their thrillers

How I Discovered This: in 2020, there were 4 books published that were thrillers, set in the Alps, written by women, and I think all Brits too. Shiver got quite a bit of press at the time. I've now read all four and here is my ranked list:

1. The Chalet, Catherine Cooper - this one got no press or promotion at all, but it was the best of the lot. It's weird how some books get so much attention and others none

2. One By One, Ruth Ware - not Ware's best, but I liked it well enough

3. Shiver, Reynolds

4. The Sanatorium, Sarah Pearse - I'm not all that picky about the thrillers I read, but this one was really bad

Jan 3, 9:12 pm

>1 Nickelini: Too bad this one didn't live up to expectations. I love thrillers and mysteries in snowy and remote settings too.

Jan 3, 10:26 pm

>16 Nickelini: Maybe not in the year of publication (marketing can be weird) but Cooper’s book was the only one that got long listed for the New Blood Dagger by the CWA. So there is that.

Jan 3, 10:28 pm

>18 AnnieMod: Oh, nice! I've really been feeling sad for the author. The other 3 books got so much press (I get the Ware, she's had a slew of best sellers, but the other two were first novels). It just seemed so unfair, especially since her book was the best of the lot. Thank you for sharing that!

Jan 3, 10:37 pm

>19 Nickelini: She did not make the short list but the competition in the genre is really really stiff. if someone is interested in the complete list for that year.

Editado: Jan 4, 12:08 am

>16 Nickelini: The Chalet sounds good and is free on Amazon Prime, so I'll give it a go. No touchstone because numerous Chalet School books by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer come up first. I applaud your patience.

Jan 4, 12:25 am

Hi Joyce, I've dropped my star and I am looking forward to following along with your reading. I love the sound of your challenge with descriptive words - I can't wait to see what you fill them in with!

Jan 4, 5:28 am

Lovely new house and I can just imagine sitting in that room with all the windows to read and bask in the sun. I too love the idea of your descriptive word category and will be watching to see what you fill it with.

Jan 4, 5:51 pm

Welcome back and have fun assembling your library!

Jan 4, 9:41 pm

Stopping by to wish you a wonderful year of reading in 2023.

Jan 4, 11:26 pm

Good luck with your 2023 reading.

Jan 6, 8:47 am

Glad to see you're back. I always enjoy your comments on your reading!

Jan 11, 12:14 pm

Excellent categories! I hope you have a wonderful reading year.

Your new house looks beautiful, especially with snow!

Jan 16, 11:56 am

Good luck with your 2023 reading!

Jan 16, 4:50 pm

>16 Nickelini: The dual timelines is enough for me to avoid it.

Jan 16, 8:50 pm

>21 pamelad:, >22 DeltaQueen50:, >23 dudes22:, >24 rabbitprincess:, >25 lkernagh:, >26 lowelibrary:, >27 MissWatson:, >28 VivienneR:, >29 Tess_W:, >30 thornton37814:

Visitors! Yay :-) Welcome to my thread, everyone

>30 thornton37814: - that's a real pet peeve for some people, isn't it. I don't mind it if it's done well, but some authors completely lose control with it

Jan 17, 1:29 pm

Snowblind, Ragnar Jonasson, 2010; translated from Icelandic by Quentin Bates, 2017

cover comments: When I stop and look at it, I find it rather pleasing. But it's not eye catching.

Comments: Ari Thor Arason has just finished police training and is offered a job in Iceland's most northern town. It's late 2008, and the economic downturn has walloped Iceland. Jobs are scarce, so he jumps on the opportunity without considering his live-in girlfriend and their life in Reykjavik. When he arrives, Ari learns that everyone knows everyone else in town, and nothing much ever happens there. Except this is a crime novel, so of course things happen. And it snows a lot, and then the town is cut off from the rest of the world by an avalanche.

I enjoyed the almost cozy atmosphere and decidedly winter feel of this isolated murder mystery.

Snowblind is the first book in the "Dark Iceland" series. I'm not one to read a series, but I am intrigued enough to try the next one, Blackout. I want to see if Ari grows up a little, and also the setting is interesting because it's set against the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull, which I remember well because it stopped flights between Vancouver and Europe for a while and I couldn't order books from the Book Depository for weeks. Quite the disaster, really.

Recommended for: fans of isolated murder mysteries. This is not a fast paced suspense thriller, but more of an intriguing slow build where you get to know the characters. Jonasson translated Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic, so perhaps it's modeled in the style of Christie? I wouldn't be able to say since I haven't read a Christie novel for a hundred years. Note that I've read very little Scandi-crime or Nordic-noir, so I have no idea how this compares to the rest.

Why I Read This Now: I was in the mood for its dark January setting

How I Discovered This: I think I heard some BookTuber talk about this author and then I saw this sale edition at a favourite bookstore, I snapped it up

Rating: 4.5 stars

Jan 17, 5:51 pm

>32 Nickelini: You make this one sound very tempting. On to the list it goes.

Jan 18, 6:42 am

>32 Nickelini: This would also fit for the February MysteryKIT from your description. I've stayed away from Scandi crime mostly because it has a reputation for bleakness, but this sounds quite nice...

Jan 18, 10:33 am

>33 mdoris: I hope you like it if you read it

>34 MissWatson: I see that I've only read 3 books that could be called Scandi crime. I really don't know much about the genre, for example I didn't know it was bleak. I wouldn't describe any of the 3 books that way at all and in fact I've quite liked them and found them somehow cozy. I hope this one helps you with your challenge

Jan 26, 1:54 am

Superfan: How Pop Culture Broke My Heart, Jen Sookfong Lee, 2023

Look at me! Only the 25th of January, and I've already read a book published this year. Unheard of for me

cover comments: usually I'm not crazy about this Andy Warhol-ish look, but I actually love it here. The hand drawn alterations fit the content of this memoir, and the mix of bright colours fits the current publishing trend that tells you this is a book about a not-white woman

Rating: 4.5 stars. After you read my comments, you may think that rating is just biased, but I checked GoodReads and there are 49 reviews with an average rating of 4.25. So it's not just me and my personal favoritism. Also, today Superfan: How Pop Culture Broke My Heart was on the Canadian Non-fiction Top 10 Best Sellers List.

Note: I've previously enjoyed two of Lee's novels, Conjoined and The Better Mother. She has been a CBC Radio presenter, and did a bang up job defending Fruit, by Brian Francis, on CanadaReads.

Comments: Through a series of essays with a loose theme of pop culture, Sookfong Lee talks about growing up in Vancouver, Canada as the daughter of Chinese immigrants. When she was 12 and her father died after a lengthy battle with cancer, she found comfort in watching Bob Ross with his soothing ASMR voice; when her mother disappeared into deep depression, she identified with the orphan Anne of Green Gables. Princess Diana helped her navigate the expectations of having to be the "good girl" that is expected of Chinese girls in Canada, and Awkwafina showed her that she could be herself and break out from stereotypes. The most interesting chapter for me was "The Boys on Film" and her early crushes on white boys in movies, such as John Cusack in Say Anything, and then growing up to date too many white guys who treated her as their fetish. I don't think of myself as someone who cares about pop culture (now as an adult), but she uses it in an interesting way to explain how she figured out how to fit into her surroundings and the overriding whiteness everywhere around her.

The recurring struggles she deals with are absent parents (father through illness and death; mother through mental illness), racism (lots of racism), fitting in and not fitting in, divorce, single motherhood, and life as a struggling writer. This memoir is raw, sometimes angry, and intimate. I think most readers would agree with that.

For me this was particularly intimate because I kinda know the author. In that I've met her a handful of times, talked books with her, and been in her house (so it was interesting to read the bits where she talked about that house, because I could picture it exactly. No imagination needed). Lee is the ex-wife of a friend of mine, a good friend of my husband's. So it was pretty interesting to get into the mind of who to me is a passing acquaintance, but also someone a friend talks about.

Conversation my husband had yesterday:

Husband: "Joyce bought Jen's book"
Jen's ex-husband: "____ (new wife) bought Jen's book"
Other friend speaks up: "yeah, I bought it too"
LOL. Turns out everyone is buying it

Why I Read This Now: I knew this was just published and happened to be at the little bookstore at the mall, and they had 2 copies. I was going to read it after I finished my current book, but then it was Lunar New Years, and I always like to read an Asian book on that day, so I picked this up

How I Discovered This: I follow the author on Twitter

Recommended for: readers interested in experiences of children born to immigrants, and Asian immigration, told in a unique, relatable, and thoughtful way.

Jan 26, 12:44 pm

>36 Nickelini: What a great review! You have definitely piqued my interest and Superfan is going on my list!

Jan 27, 9:04 am

>36 Nickelini: Excellent review! I'll add this to my list as well.

Jan 30, 11:33 pm

Death Goes On Skis, Nancy Spain, 1949

cover comments: Absolutely love this. I use vintage travel posters in my vacation photo books, so this is very much my aesthetic. Also, this scene happened in the novel, so bonus points.

Comments: In 2020 Virago republished this 1949 novel.

It's February 1947 and a large group of loosely connected English people travel to a ski resort in the central European country of Schizo-Frenia, where most of the inhabitants speak German and the currency is the franc - just like their neighbour Switzerland. English people who could travel to the Alps in 1947 were naturally wealthy and, in this case, very spoiled and nasty. There is the perfume company owner who was a huge drip, but who most of the females in the book are crushing hard on; there are his two unpleasant daughters who are both teenagers and little children simultaneously, there is a Russian ballerina (who I think was supposed to be the protagonist?), and a famous film star, and several female characters--all admirable in some way--throwing off strong lesbian vibes. A few miserable, weak men, and so on. There were a handful of local cardboard characters.

This is a novel that I'm sure some have described as a "lark" and where rich Brits behave in selfish and silly ways, and there are a couple of murders, but no one is too fussed about that. Especially the newly widowed husbands. It's all veddy English in that "tally ho, pip pip and all that rot" sort of way. It was rather light and amusing at times, but for the last 1/5th I was entirely frustrated with these shallow, horrid people. But the last 3 pages were quite surprising and did redeem the novel, somewhat.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Why I Read This Now: I love a book set in the Alps

How I Discovered This: Simon Savidge of Savidge Reads. I'd never heard of Nancy Spain. She sounds like a fascinating character on her own.

Recommended for: readers who like silly novels that might be described as a murder mystery with distasteful characters

Jan 30, 11:39 pm

>39 Nickelini: I've read a few of these, found one at a time in second-hand book shops. Very pleased to see that Virago has republished one I haven't read.

Jan 30, 11:43 pm

>40 pamelad: Apparently Virago republished several, so if you're looking for some you might find them there

Fev 11, 6:53 pm

Maestro, Peter Godsworthy, 1989

cover comments: my 1991 Bloomsbury edition cover is not available here on LT so I just picked this random cover. No comments to make other than the actual cover I have is pretty weird and ugly

Comments: It's 1967 and teenage Paul has just moved to Darwin, Australia from the sophisticated south. He and his parents all have hopes that he has a future as a piano virtuoso. Luckily for them, the retired Herr Keller, and Austrian immigrant, is available to coach Paul on his piano endeavors. Perhaps "coach" is not a valid term to use, but his techniques are too unconventional to call him a "piano teacher". Paul also entertains the idea that perhaps Herr Keller is a former Nazi war criminal. Basically the novella Maestro is a bildungsroman about the self-absorbed Paul, and his slow discovery of who Herr Keller actually is and what he went through. There are also overlaps that match with author's real life--Adelaide homeland, time lived in Darwin, medical careers, and music devotion--but perhaps that's not a surprise for a first book.

Apparently Maestro was voted one of the all time top 40 Australian novels, and was commonly used in the high school curriculum, to fairly positive reactions from students. Not sure if it's still being read at Aussie schools, but I can tell you that this won't be read at schools in the USA, as there are scenes with adults having sex! And Paul having sex! And we certainly don't want to give teenagers any ideas whatsoever ;-)

Why I Read This Now: I was struggling to pick up the other novel I've been reading, and this was on my short-books-for-a-short month pile, and then we booked our flights to Australia, so the Australian book won out as The Book To Read Now

Rating: a strong 4 stars. There is some really stunning writing. I don't know why Peter Goldworthy isn't known outside of Australia, and I don't know why he hasn't written more books. He's also a physician, so maybe writing isn't his first love

Recommended for: readers who enjoy beautiful writing set against a musical background; readers looking for a book set in Darwin that doesn't have a crocodile.

How I Discovered This: An Australian LT friend sent me a Peter Goldsworthy novella, Jesus Wants Me For a Sunbeam and I was blown away by it. Goldsworthy went right on my must-read-everything list, so when I found this (and Three Dog Night) at a used bookstore, I bought it right away.

Fev 11, 11:03 pm

>42 Nickelini: I also started with Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam, then Honk if You Are Jesus, then Wish. Three Dog Night is already on the wish list and I've just borrowed Maestro because of your review. Thank you for the reminder.

Where are you going in Australia?

Fev 11, 11:46 pm

>43 pamelad: oh! A Goldsworthy fan 😊

We are going to Queensland in November for 3 weeks. My husband has a 30+ year old group of friends which includes a guy from Sunshine Coast. He comes every few years and sometimes brings his wife and kids. 2023 is his 60th birthday and he asked everyone to visit him (a bunch have gone down, but not a group). Obviously a bunch of Canadian guys can’t just go to Australia for a few golf games , so spouses were invited. There are 10 of us going down to meet with his Aussie golf friends at the Sunshine Coast. I plan to hang out and read and buy Peter Goldsworthy books. Then he’s booked us 3 days on Fraser Island, and then 7 nights at beach houses on Hamilton Island. There are a bunch of sailers in the group so I hope to do some sailing there. At the end my husband and I will do 3 nights in Sydney because he’s never been to Australia.
I haven’t been to Australia in 40 years 😮 :-0 when I spent 5 months in NSW and also traveled to Adelaide, Melbourne and Canberra. I didn’t do Queensland because I spent 2 months in Papua New Guinea instead.
Where in Australia are you?

Fev 12, 12:49 am

>44 Nickelini: Sounds like a great trip. Sunshine, beaches, boats, books! I was a bit worried November was the rainy season but checked and found it's not too wet.

I'm in Melbourne, in the inner north. A friend and I are also planning a trip to Queensland this year to visit my sister in Brisbane and his brother on the Sunshine Coast, Buderim. Probably April. We're driving there. If you're spending any time in Brisbane, I recommend a trip along the river on the public ferry.

You're intrepid, travelling to New Guinea. Were you there to walk the Kokoda trail?

Fev 12, 2:23 am

>44 Nickelini: Your trip sounds wonderful! Fraser Island and the Whitsundays are so, so beautiful.

Fev 13, 12:21 am

>46 MissBrangwen: Oh, have you traveled there? Tell me about it!

>45 pamelad: I didn't even think of rainy season. Oh well, it is what it is. When I was in Australia in November, it didn't rain much (at all?), but that was Sydney and the Southern Highlands of NSW, so not the same climate at Queensland.

I was in Papua New Guinea to visit my brother and his family, who were living in the Eastern Highlands. He was teaching aircraft mechanics to locals. We traveled by land to Lae, which was where Amelia Earhart was last seen, and also flew to Madang, where our house on stilts had a WWII fuselage underneath that was riddled with bullet holes. Also, crocodiles in the ocean across the road. It was amazing. I was there for 2 months, and had the use of a lovely horse, and rode through coffee plantations and galloped across vast hillsides. It was the same year that the movie The Man From Snowy River came out, and I felt at one with that film.

Fev 13, 9:47 pm

Three Hours, Rosamund Lupton, 2020

cover comments: looks like a snowy thriller. Oh, it IS a snowy thriller. Sold.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Comments: In western Somerset, school is starting for the day, snow is starting to fall, and there's an explosion in the school's forest. One of the older students, a Syrian refugee suffering from PTSD, recognizes the sounds immediately and convinces enough adults to take it seriously. Then the headmaster is shot. And thus begins the 3 hour siege on the progressive school that in Canada we'd call K-12 (all school ages). The snow falls heavily, and various groups of students, teachers and parents feel the terror.

At times I didn't want to read this because school shootings are highly upsetting, but I also couldn't stay away from it for long. For me this was a well-planned, compelling read, and more complex and thoughtful than the average best seller thrillers. It also had more soul. . . I was a bit puzzled by the recommendation plastered on the front cover: "Broke My Heart" - Marian Keyes. This was a thriller--it's not supposed to be heart breaking. By the last 50 pages I felt that comment strongly.

It wasn't perfect, and perhaps 4.5 stars is a bit high, but I gave it .5 star for how it absorbed me. I'd have loved a map of the school property because there were multiple buildings and lots of snowy forest, and even a beach. (I had to look up Somerset on a map, because I don't remember being close to beaches when I was there. Yes, silly me, Somerset is also on the water; there is more than Bath). You can never go wrong with a map in a book.

And a character list. It's a school with all the ages, lots of teachers, parents arriving, and also police officers. Many characters, although the main characters were distinct. I did struggle a bit with the teenage dynamics but it came together.

Also, when it becomes clear who the main shooter is, everyone seems shocked that he's a "psychopath". Duh. There are a lot of psychopaths out there, and they don't all become school shooters, but if you ARE a school shooter, not a stretch that you're a psychopath. And when a shooter is revealed about halfway into the book, it's been vividly obvious forever by that point that the only reader who would be surprised is an overextended parent who's listened to this on audio book while doing 5 loads of laundry, worked the shift at the grocery store, got the kids to soccer practice and flute lessons, and repaired the leak under the kitchen sink.

But oveall, I thought it was a terrific thriller

Why I Read This Now: I like snowy books in winter, spring is coming on here so I best get at them, and mainly -- they last books I've been reading have been soooooo male. I thought a female author might write something where women were more than shadows that appear every 20 pages or so (nothing against men, but books and movies that are just about men tend to bore me beyond belief)

How I Discovered This: I follow all the major publishers on Instagram and this Penguin release was all over social media when it was published in 2020. I kept waiting for it to show up in shops and on my Canadian websites, but it never did. I waited for 2 years and then I ordered it from Book Depository from the UK. Even now, if I order it from Amazon Canada, it comes from the UK Book Depository.

I guess I just don't get the publishing industry.

Recommended for: people who want to write a thriller. Read this, take notes, and see how it's done. Rosamund Lupton sets some of the bars high. I also recommend this to readers who like an isolated mystery

Fev 14, 2:34 pm

>48 Nickelini: I love a good thriller read but good thrillers are few and far between! This one is definitely being added to my list.

Fev 14, 2:54 pm

>47 Nickelini: Yes, I spent three months in Australia in 2006 just after finishing school, and another eight months in 2009/10. On the first trip I did a short farm training close to Gympie (in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast) and after a very short stint on a farm in northern QLD I took a job on a cattle station in Cape York where I stayed for a month. After that I traveled from Cairns to Sydney in about six weeks. I visited both Fraser Island and the Whitsundays, although I only did the Whitsundays as a day trip. I'd love to go back and explore it a little longer.
On the second trip I studied in Cairns at James Cook University for four months and then traveled around the country for another four months.

I totally fell in love with Australia and have always wanted to go back, but somehow it hasn't worked out so far - we really wanted to go after our 2020 wedding, but well, the pandemic happened. We want to go soon but right now rental cars are too expensive (we want to stay for five to six weeks and rent a car to visit a few places in the outback or around Cairns - if we did this now we couldn't keep traveling throughout the year as we do right now, so we decided against it for the current moment and will wait a few more years).

So of course I haven't been there for a long time, but Queensland really is where I discovered my love for travel, so I am not exaggerating when I say that it changed my life (all decisions that I made after that were influenced by the question if this or that would allow or enable me to travel). I guess that I was more impressionable when I traveled there because I had hardly traveled before, but I simply loved it - the landscape, the nature, the friendly people, the vibe. I remember standing on a lookout on Whitsunday Island, looking down on Trinity Inlet, and thinking: "I have never seen anything beautiful like this before." It was a game changer! And Fraser Island was fantastic too, it felt out of this world.

>47 Nickelini: Your trip to New Guinea sounds really adventurous! Wow, that must have been such a special and unique experience.

Fev 14, 3:51 pm

>47 Nickelini: Your stay in New Guinea sounds idyllic.

>50 MissBrangwen: I hope you can get back to Australia soon.

Fev 20, 10:34 pm

Bridget Jones's Diary, 1996

cover comments: Original cover. Huh. Not "chick lit" is it now.

Comments: Bridget Jones, late 1990s, London, singleton. This is her story, very loosely based on Pride and Prejudice, inspired by the author's love of Colin Firth playing Mr Darcy in the 1990s P&P. The first time I read this I was about the slightly younger than Bridg, but a smug married, and a lot of her diary entries reminded me of my 14 year old self. And I knew nothing of Pride and Prejudice, book or mini-series. I thought BJD was a hilarious book at the time. I also enjoyed my first reread about 5 years ago.

Book vs. movie: actually, pretty different. The clever and funny lines are often the same, but used in slightly different situations. This was one of the reasons I wanted to reread this, as it turned out I now remember little of the book.

Why I Read This Now: I was avoiding another book, needed something with female characters, I wanted to reread this because I've seen the movie version so many times, and, finally, it was Valentine's Day. BTW this is not a love story, and not even really much of a romance

Rating: I sometimes struggle to rate rereads. This was originally a 5 star read, and although I wouldn't give it that if I read it for the first time now, but I'm not going to begrudge it those shiny stars

Recommended for: cultural historians studying 1990s singleton London

Editado: Fev 27, 11:13 am

Night Train, A.L. Snijders, 2021; translated from Dutch by Lydia Davis, 2021

cover comments: love the European minimalism

Comments: A.L. Snijders is a Dutch writer who specializes in very short stories. Some are a paragraph, at most, a page and a half. He writes in a clean, direct style and captures life in late 20th century-early 21st century life in the Netherlands. A few of the stories are masterful.

Rating: 3 stars -- a few perfect 5 star stories and a lot of meh

Recommended for: people who like plain, sparse writing

Why I Read This Now: have actually been reading this for several months as it was my work book. The short short story format lends itself nicely to coffee breaks

How I Discovered This: late night internet rabbit hole

Mar 1, 12:57 am

Lonely Hearts Hotel, Heather O'Neill, 2017

cover comments: Perfect for this book. Also, who doesn't love a blue cover?

Rating: 4.5 stars

Why I Read This Now: O'Neill is one of my top favourite authors, and I've loved every book of hers that I've read. Yet I kept putting off this 2017 novel because it was set mostly in the 1930s (all her other books have been more contemporary), and it involved circus elements, and (cringe), clowns! It just didn't sound like my jam. I really dislike clowns.

I like Heather O'Neill's clowns.

Anyway, back to why I read this now. I was looking for something in my past reading journals, and came across my notes from Heather O'Neill's The Girl Who Was Saturday Night from this time in 2019. I'd copied eight and a half pages of quotations from that novel and really enjoyed reading them again. And I remembered what an unusually cold February we had that year, and how that novel set in Montreal was perfect for my mood, and since now four years later we are having unusually cold weather (maybe not so unusual anymore?), I thought I'd try Lonely Hearts Hotel.

Comments: Rose and Pierrot are born in 1914 to young teen mothers, and end up in an orphanage in Montreal. They stand out from all the other waifs in this oppressive environment and form an inseparable bond. Both are witty and charismatic. Rose dances and improvises make believe scenarios. Pierrot is nimble in general, erudite in speech (although he often doesn't understand what he's just said), and gifted at the piano. They end up performing for wealthy people in Montreal, with the payment going to the wicked nuns at the orphanage, until they hit their mid-teens. Then they are sent off as servants, or companions, in wealthy homes, until they fall into the squalor of drug addiction and prostitution. Eventually Rose and Pierrot reconnect as adults in the Great Depression and are able to actually make their childhood fantasy of the "The Snowflake Icicle Extravaganza" a reality. With underworld ties, however. And that's the first half of the novel.

It's whimsical, tragic, sad, magical, funny, depressing, and I loved every minute.

Look, I can't do this novel justice. The whole circus and clown thing had me avoiding reading this for years. But it turned out that I found the clown parts completely amusing (maybe it's a Montreal Cirque du Soleil thing vs. a USA Barnum Bailey thing. Probably), and I thought, as I was reading the humorous clown interview chapters, "Montreal is lousy with clowns!", but then I saw that I'd written that down from the Girl Who Was Saturday Night. I should have trusted that O'Niell would transcend the circus theme. But I was wary. For years one of my book club friends tried to get us to read Water For Elephants and I was pretty sure I'd hate it. I gave it a chance and hated it. Maybe when it comes to circuses, just go with the francophone version.

BTW, Lonely Hearts Hotel is a weak name for the novel, and I think "The Snowflake Icicle Extravaganza" captures more of the book, but perhaps wouldn't appeal to adult readers. Hmmm. "Pierrot and Rose" would have been better, but I'm not a book marketing guru.

Recommended for: If you've read this far, maybe you. I get that O'Neill is not for everyone but I just love looking at raunchy, seedy life through her rose coloured lenses

People who don't like this complain that it was compared to a more famous book (that it's not like), that it's too crude, that the author uses too many similes, that there are too many horrible events, that the author tries too hard to be clever. Probably they're right. But I love it.

How I Discovered This: long time Heather O'Neill fan, so when this came out I knew I'd read it eventually even if it had a circus theme to it

Mar 1, 3:53 am

Not sure how I missed your thread. Hopping on board late.
I read BJD for the first time last year. I think your assessment of it as a period piece is probably fair. It didn't work for me, but I'm not the target market (if I ever was),

Mar 1, 9:11 am

>54 Nickelini: - Well - you've intrigued me enough to put it on a BB list. Nor sure it's for me, but I do like the cover.

Mar 1, 11:24 am

>55 Helenliz: I'm not sure I was ever the target market either, but I thought it was fun

>54 Nickelini: If you've never read Heather O'Neill before, I suggest starting with Lullabies For Little Criminals, unless you're really into depression era stories about performers. In that case start with Lonely Hearts Hotel

Mar 13, 3:14 pm

Hotline, Dimitri Nasrallah, 2022

cover comments: sure, it's fine

Comments: Set over about one year, this novel is loosely based on the author's mother's experiences of moving from war-torn Lebanon to Montreal in 1986. Her husband had applied to move his family to Canada, but then went missing and was presumed dead. With little family support in Beirut, Muna goes ahead and takes her son Omar to Montreal. She was trained as a French teacher, but nobody wants to hire a Lebanese French teacher in Quebec.To make ends meet, she takes a job as a hotline operator for a diet company.

I was expecting her story to be about the crazy things people said to her on the phone and how hard it is to work with the public. It wasn't that. This is definitely a story of her struggle as a single mother in a new place where everything is strange, and life was indeed challenging. But what stands out for me from this novel is the small kindnesses she encountered through the minor characters.

Rating: 4 stars

Why I Read This Now: this is one of the contenders for CBC Canada Reads later this month. It was the one that sounded most interesting to me, and then a coworker had a copy to lend me

How I discovered this: CBC Canada Reads

Recommended for: readers who like earnest novels (a common trait for Canada Reads and CanLit in general)

Mar 21, 11:30 pm

. The Sea, John Banville, 2005

cover comments: nice

Comments: This fairly short novel meanders through Max Morden's memories of his wife's death from cancer, an unusual summer from his youth, and the current day. On the back of my edition, The Sea is described as "luminous," and that is the perfect word to describe the beautiful writing. I expected to abandon this within the first 30 pages, but to my delight it grabbed me and pulled me in. Then it had a flabby middle section, before coming around to an intriguing end.

The Sea won the Booker Prize in 2005 and is on the 1001 Books list.

Why I Read This Now: Every year I like to read an Irish book in March. Unfortunately, all the Irish books in my TBR have been there for ages, my reading tastes have changed, and I'm not all that interested in them. I thought I'd slough some off my TBR pile by abandoning them earlier, but I liked this.

Rating: 4 stars. Although I did enjoy much of this, it is a 193 page book that took me 12 days to read. I'd like to read it again one day.

How I Discovered This: It was a best seller back in its day

Recommended For: Readers who like gorgeous, lush language, who don't need a plot, and who don't mind characters who aren't very likeable.

Editado: Mar 27, 10:50 pm

Station Eleven, Emily St John Mandel, 2014

cover comments: I like the deer, but the rest of it does nothing for me. I don't hate it, but it's not good either

Comments: Post-apocalyptic novel set before, during and 20 years after a pandemic quickly kills 99% of the people on the planet. Has been made into a TV series on AppleTV.

Why I Read This Now: It's a contender for this year's CBC Canada Reads. I've actually tried to read it twice in the past and never got very far. My husband bought this on a whim (something he does once a decade) and said it was "okay," and then my book club picked it and I was fine with the choice because I already owned the book. But I didn't get very far, as I put it down and just never got back to it. Another time I tried it on audiobook because it was available, but again, I listened once and then didn't bother again. Over the years, I've put this in the donate box a few times but it always came out because someone would say something super positive about it, or intriguing. This was the book's last chance.

Rating: 3 stars. I actually rather enjoyed Mandel's writing, but I strongly dislike post-Apocalyptic stories. I look forward to reading other books by her as long as they aren't on this subject.

Recommended for: people who enjoy post-apocalyptic novels? As a rule, I don't read books about the Holocaust or slavery, and now I've added this subject/genre to the list. My husband says that "everything" is post-apocalyptic, but that's just his algorithm, because it's not my experience.

How I Discovered This: best seller

Editado: Mar 28, 9:51 pm

. The Union of Synchronized Swimmers, Cristina Sandu, 2019; translated from Finnish by the author, 2021

cover comments: it fits the book quiet well, actually

Comments: This novella switches between the story of six young women who work at a cigarette factory behind the Iron Curtain and take up swimming in the local river and, on their own, becoming synchronized swimmers who eventually are allowed to leave to compete in the West. In between that story are the individual stories of Anita, Paulina, Sandra, Betty, Nina, and Lidia, years after they've defected and try to make life for themselves in various places. I liked how it was unique, clever, and interesting, but I didn't like (as with much "literary" translated fiction) it's overly cryptic. And also, even though it was written in Finnish, this shows nothing about life in Finland. What I most enjoy about reading translated fiction is when it transports me to that country and I can see life there. Often translated literature has no interest in showing any of that. Oh well, I keep looking.

Rating: 3.5 stars

How I Discovered This: I think an internet rabbit hole in 2021?

Recommended for: Readers who want to Finnish literature but not picky about it being set in Finland. Also, some of the negative comments came from people who were looking for a story about synchro swimming and there wasn't enough water wheels and back tucks.

Why I Read This Now: Time for something in translation, and this one was short so I didn't need to gird my loins for a long read.

(12 points to anyone who gets my gird my loins reference. After 29 years of marriage, my husband and I only speak in advertising jingles and TV and movie lines. LOL. Often it spills into real life and people look at me, baffled)

Mar 29, 3:27 am

>61 Nickelini: Interesting. The author's name looks Romanian, so is it set in Romania?

Mar 29, 12:00 pm

>62 MissWatson: nope, one part is set in an unnamed Soviet Block country, but then one of the characters speaks Russian. The rest of the book is set all over. The author is Finnish but has Finnish-Romanian parents, hence her name

Mar 30, 5:33 am

Abr 16, 3:24 pm

English Animals, Laura Kaye, 2017

cover comments: Excellent cover. Who doesn't love a fox on a book cover? Great photo, and the colour filter tells the reader that something is off. As do the misaligned letters that make up the title.

Rating: 4.5 stars. English Animals is one of those books that few readers have heard of, but has high ratings from those who have been lucky enough to discover it. Also, I always love a book set at a country house.

Comments As a young woman, Slovakian Mirka tries for a new life in Britain. After struggling in London, she lands a job as an assistant to Sophie and Richard. They have a messy life and a messy relationship, and have inherited a country house in some unnamed location in England. Scrambling to try whatever it takes to support it, they juggle weddings, B&B, bird hunting, taxidermy. Of her many jobs, her focus is taxidermy, and Mirka goes from squeamish to proficient quickly, surpassing Richard's skill. In her free time, and to escape the chaos, she creates elaborate dioramas with small rodents acting out human scenes, such as a coffee shop (think Brambley Hedge or Richard Scary updated to 2017 England). These become a hit with a particular London art crowd and she can't keep up with demand. This part of the book fascinated me, but was rather minor.

I digress. English Animals is Mirka's story of trying to negotiate the situation she found herself in, and employee, but a pseudo family member, 15 years younger than the other two, and trying to juggle work & friendship with Richard while having a sexual relationship with Sophie.

Excellent first novel. I look forward to reading what Laura Kaye comes up with in the future

Recommended for: To start, I've seen comparisons to Cold Comfort Farm in several places. I haven't read that, so can't comment. Initially it reminded me of Bitter Orange by Clare Fuller, but then it went off on its own story. So if you like either of those books, find this. Also, people who like books set in English country houses, but not necessarily fancy, Chatsworth-type country houses, and more realistic "oh jeez, I inherited this monstrosity and I love it but how do I financially make this continue" reality of country houses,

How I Discovered This: Jen Campbell raved about this and I went to the Book Depository (RIP) and ordered it right away

Why I Read This Now: I was actually 1/3 into this a year ago, but then we bought our new house and I got distracted and it ended up in a box, so I've just now managed to get back to it. I hadn't forgotten it, but did restart from the beginning and happy I did. Also, I'm going to be in England in 10 days, so I like to read books set in places I'm visiting. Although, to be honest, probably 1/3 of the books in my TBR are British, so I could just blindly pick something off my shelves.

Abr 16, 4:05 pm

>65 Nickelini: So glad you mentioned that Book Depository is closing. I missed that announcement. I was able to record my wishlist just in case, and a few are in the library collection.

Enjoy your trip to England, it's a lovely time of year to be there.

Maio 15, 8:34 pm

The Collector, John Fowles, 1963

cover comments: a bit disjointed, actually

I read this back in April, and in the time since have holidayed on Vancouver Island and then England and Italy, so this is what I remember:

Comments: Twenty-something incel and orphan who collects butterflies as a hobby watches a young London art student, and thinks he'd like to possess her. After winning a lottery and sending his aunt and cousin off to Australia, he sets up a prison for her at a cottage in Sussex, and kidnaps her. He's creepy and infuriating, but compared to real life stories of captive young women that we've all heard since this was written in 1963, he doesn't actually do much to her. Other than lock her in a dank basement.

The first 120 pages are his version of the story. Then it switches to Miranda, the kidnapped woman's version of the story. She turns out to be rather insufferable. Just not interested in a privileged 20 year old's philosophy of life. This section dragged.

Parts 3 & 4 were short and the story picked up again, and the ending was wonderfully creepy

Why I Read This Now: I've owned this for over a decade and always wanted to read it. Somehow it bubbled up to the top of the pile

How I Discovered This: I've owned it too long to know, but probably from the 1001 Books list. Years ago I read the author's French Lieutenant's Woman, which I loved (and also the film)

Recommended For: I think this would appeal to a broad audience

Rating: 4 stars

Editado: Maio 16, 7:37 am

>65 Nickelini: OK, that sounds worth a look.
And the library has a copy - reserved.
Have a great trip, weather currently not awful here so we'll count that a success if it lasts >;-)

Maio 16, 8:00 am

>68 Helenliz: Trip was great, Thanks! - 3 days in Canterbury and then 5 in London before going to Tuscany for 9 days. And now I'm home and the laundry is done.

We had good weather -- one evening of rain (in Canterbury) only. The Saturday we spent at Hampstead Heath was postcard perfect weather

Maio 17, 6:36 pm

Dreaming of Florence, TA Williams, 2018

cover comments: This is the style of cover I walked right past for decades but that I recently discovered can actually be a fun read. My husband and I were examining this picture last night to see if it could even be real and determined it could if there are roof decks on the houses that line the Arno River in Florence.

Comments: Late 20-something Debbie is struggling a bit with her life in Cambridge. She has a decent job teaching English, but her employer may have to lay off staff, she recently broke up with her fiancé, and she is weighted down with debt. An unexpected encounter results in her taking a chance and moving to Florence to teach English, and from there her life improves steadily, culminating in the expected romantic ending.

As with other books I've read by this author, there is actually very little romance and mostly just a story about a young woman living a new life in Italy.

Why I Read This Now: promised to be a light, fun book to read on my trip to Tuscany. A couple of years ago I decided to make an effort to read more fluff and fewer serious books. I think I'm currently at 6% fluff, so that's a start

How I Discovered This: I've read other similar books by the same author.

The author: surprised me. First, T.A. Williams is Trevor Williams, who lives in Devon with his Italian wife. He has a degree in modern languages and has lived in Switzerland, France, and Italy. Back in the UK, he runs a prestigious language school. His hobby is long-distance cycling. Not your usual "romance" book writer. I found that he's written a bunch of these sorts of books, several of which I've now ordered.

Rating: hardly a literary masterpiece, I still give this 4 stars because it's fun and I like to read fun books sometimes. I'd say this book is the literary equivalent of a strawberry milkshake.

Recommended for : you guessed it: readers looking for a fun book set in Italy

Maio 23, 11:17 pm

Family Album, Penelope Lively, 2009

cover comments: I like this. It's clean. And it speaks to the novel. I wouldn't say it captures the feel of the novel though, so not full marks

Comments: Family Album is a perfect name for this novel, as it's a collection of snap shot memories of the different people in this family, and although in the end it does tell the family's story, like a photo album, it's disjointed and only tells bits here and there.

Alison is the engine of this disparate group. She was driven to fulfill her life goal being a mother of a bustling house full of children. The husband wasn't all that important, and Charles disappeared into his office to read and write esoteric books (he took lessons in indifference from Elizabeth Bennet's father and perfected the art). Paul, Gina, Sandra, Roger, Katie, and unusually-blonde Claire are all very different from each other and become adults who--mostly--live far away from the family home, Allersmead. Each chapter jumps around and focuses on the various family members, and the long-term live-in hired help, Ingrid.

Rating: I'm not sure. Having just finished it, I'm feeling 4 stars, but it's taken me a long time to read this 225 page book. Sometimes I thought it was just okay. 3.75 stars I guess.

Why I Read This Now: I was off for 1.5 weeks in England and 1.5 weeks in Tuscany. This was the book for the English part of my trip, and I have zillions of books set in England in my TBR but this one was the physically lightest of the bunch in front of me. I did start it on the plane and during my trip, but it was too discordant to click as a suitable travel read. I considered leaving it behind, but there was enough there to make me think I'd like it. I'm glad I gave it another chance when I got home.

Recommended for: people with patience to let the novel reveal itself

How I Discovered This: I've read 3 books by this author previously

Maio 24, 3:43 am

>71 Nickelini: I keep meaning to read more by Lively. This sounds worth exploring.

Maio 30, 6:56 pm

Nives, Sacha Naspini, 2020; translated from Italian by Cora Botsford, 2021. This has also been published with the title Tell Me About It

cover comments: Well, I don't hate it. But I also don't think it fits. The story is about an older woman, and then when she looks back on being the age of the girl in picture, that was 1982. Although I may have worn that outfit in 1982, the black and white picture looks more like 1952. So this is a NO. But Europa Editions don't usually have good covers, so there you go.

Comments: Nives' husband drops dead on the first page of the novella. Alone and lonely on their farm in Tuscany, with her daughter and grandchildren living in France, Nives soon brings her hen Giacomina into the house. Suddenly her world feels all right again. But then Giacomina has a medical emergency and late one night, Nives phones the veterinarian, who is also an old friend. This brings us to page 25. For the next 103 pages of the novella, Nives and Loriano have an extended conversation about their shared past. I found the change at this point to abruptly interrupt the tone and subject of the book, and I wasn't much interested in the new topics. By the end there were enough twists that I regained some of my initial interest.

Rating 3 stars. I think it's well-written, but I really didn't care all that much about their conversation

How I Discovered This: I shop the Europa Editions catalogue

Why I Read This Now: This was my backup book on my trip to Italy because it was physically small. I didn't get to it then because I didn't do much reading, but I still wanted to read it

Recommended for: many people love this one more than I did. I was just expecting something different

Hoje, 3:46 am

Hi Joyce,

I am writing a reply concerning Denmark here because I do not want to hijack the thread in Reading Globally (not sure about the rules there!).
I like Denmark a lot, I spent most of my summer holidays there as a child. We used to go camping on the western shore. At the time I did not really appreciate it because I wanted to go to Spain or Italy like everyone else (especially when I became a teenager), but now I think that camping in the dunes and having adventures in the nature there everyday is the best that could happen to a child.
As an adult I have only spent a long weekend in Copenhagen and now this one in Vejle, but I enjoyed both very much and hope to see more. I really have a soft spot for that country. I hope you can go one day!!!

And I think you might like The Tenant because there is quite a lot about daily life in Copenhagen in there.

>73 Nickelini: I associated that cover with the 1950s as well. Strange choice.