What are you reading the week of April 25, 2020?

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What are you reading the week of April 25, 2020?

apr 25, 2020, 10:17am

I did not have any time to read this week.

apr 25, 2020, 11:03am

I finished Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini and also the March 1936 edition of Scribner's Magazine last month. I've now started a murder mystery, At Death's Door by Robert Barnard, and added the April 1958 edition of Argosy Magazine to my "between book" reading rotation.

apr 25, 2020, 11:42am

Finished a reread of Mirror and the Light, which let me catch up on the parts I skipped over the first time because I didn't think them essential. This time around I admit much of it was, but I still think she needed an editor. Tho despite that, its the perfect addition and ending to the saga of Thomas Cromwell.

apr 25, 2020, 12:53pm

I finished Home Safe. Helen looses a husband and in the process her sense of self. The book chronicles her recovery. I found myself angry and impatient with her at various points which seems to me a good sign, that the character was believable.

apr 25, 2020, 1:20pm

I'm reading Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon for my book club. In some ways it's a little too soon to read after my mother-in-law dying in assisted living a few months ago, but so far the story is quirky enough to keep me from going down the dark path too often.

apr 25, 2020, 2:52pm

Still reading The True Bastards, Darkdawn, Tigana, and Docile.

apr 25, 2020, 3:26pm

Started Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates.

apr 25, 2020, 4:36pm

Montana Sky – Nora Roberts
Book on CD read by Erika Leigh

Jack Mercy was a wealthy cattle rancher in Montana’s Big Sky country. At his death he left behind three daughters (each born from a different marriage), two ex-wives, and a ranch worth millions. Only his youngest daughter, Willa, had lived and worked on the ranch, and she’d never had any contact with her half-siblings: Tess, who’s a Hollywood scriptwriter, and Lily, a quiet and unassuming woman who is obviously running from someone. Now the three virtual strangers must live on the ranch for a year in order to inherit anything from the old man. Of course, there happened to be three unmarried men around, one for each of the sisters… Oh, and a psychopathic serial killer as well.

Oh, Nora, Nora, Nora. The romance was more than enough to hold our attention, with sibling rivalry and the push/pull attractions between the couples entertaining enough to keep even this curmudgeonly reader turning pages. And I did love picturing all those rippling muscles on the big, strong men! But that serial killer subplot! Totally unnecessary and drove me crazy. Still, I did enjoy this schlocky cowboy romance, even if some of the sex scenes prompted giggles.

Erika Leigh does a fine job narrating the audiobook. There are a lot of characters to handle and she was up to the task, though I thought her interpretation2 of housekeeper Bess and of the bad guy (you didn’t think I’d tell you who it is!) were a bit over-the-top.

Bewerkt: apr 25, 2020, 5:12pm

>5 PaperbackPirate:

very sorry for your loss

I am shy about these type of books. What do you rate the sentimentality and sweetness quotient? (to put in respective, I loved Major Pettigrews Last Stand and hated the notebook

apr 25, 2020, 6:43pm

I think I'm reading Bliss by Peter Carey but that might change. I have a whole selection of books that I've read thirty pages of and got bored/impatient/sleepy. One of those weeks!

apr 25, 2020, 11:33pm

Things got better after my last post. I got nowhere with Peter Carey, who is one of my favourite writers, so I picked up Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah. It was a nice, light read with very good characterization, and it helped me relax, which was much needed. Gave it four stars and a good review.

Then I looked at a couple of the other reviews, and got really irked by a guy who had read the book because he'd heard good things, and who said: From now on, I am going to spend more time reading negative reviews than 4 and 5 star gush from indiscriminate readers who, apparently, can’t distinguish between filet mignon and cube steak.

Such arrogance! So I left a firm and reproving and slightly sarcastic comment on his wall.

apr 26, 2020, 12:17am

Spiritual Emergency by Stanislav and Christina Grof
Conscious Dreaming (cont.) by Robert Moss
Out of Salem by Hal Schrieve (YAL)

apr 26, 2020, 8:01pm

The Only Road – Alexandra Diaz
Digital audiobook performed by Ramon de Ocampo.
5***** and a ❤

Twelve-year-old Jaime and his fifteen-year-old cousin, Angela, are forced to flee their Guatemalan village due to the Alpha gang’s terrorizing families in their area. Their families make the heart-wrenching decision to send the youngsters to America to live with Jaime’s older brother after Angela’s brother is killed by the gang for refusing to join. The novel details their harrowing journey through Mexico, where they encounter other gangs, as well as officials who do not want the refugees in their country.

It’s a powerful story and very well told. I loved these characters! The dangers they face include robbery, beatings, incarceration, hunger, lack of shelter, and various threats from both fellow refugees and local inhabitants they encounter on this 1,500-mile long journey. Having little more than a small bag of provisions, a sewing kit, some money sewn into the seams of their clothes, a crude map with some information on safe houses along the way, and Jaime’s sketchbook, they find in themselves courage, inventiveness, tenacity and compassion. A few of their fellow refugees have made the attempt before and they learn quickly from them a few tricks to be able to pass as Mexicans. Other fellow refugees turn out to be almost as dangerous as the gangs that control various territories they pass through. Despite the many dangers they face, they cling to hope and to the telephone number they’ve memorized – so they can call Jaime’s older brother if / when they make it across the border to the USA.

Because this is for the young adult market the book is probably less horrific that the realities, though it still alludes to the many dangers such refuges face. Threats of injury, dismemberment or death when boarding a moving train, for example. The possibility of assault and rape from gangs that “patrol” the tracks. The lack of food, water or shelter as they make their way through a desert landscape.

Ramon de Ocampo does a marvelous job of narrating the audiobook. He sets a good pace and gives the young characters reasonably “young” voices. Diaz includes a number of Spanish words / phrases in the text (there is a glossary / dictionary at the back), and Ocampo’s pronunciation of Spanish is spot on. (Though I can’t really speak to whether he sounds Guatemalan vs Mexican.)

apr 27, 2020, 11:57am

>9 cindydavid4: Thank you Cindy!

apr 27, 2020, 4:48pm

I finished Lantana Lane on the weekend - an uplifting read about pineapple growers in Queensland, Australia. Continuing with The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August which I'm finding really interesting. Thinking about starting Crossfire, by Miyuki Miyabe, about a young woman who can start fires with her brain.

Bewerkt: apr 28, 2020, 2:09am

Finished listening to A Long Petal Of The Sea. More like a book of Chilean history than a novel.

Next up for listening is The Girls In The Garden by Lisa Jewell.

apr 28, 2020, 9:39am

I've starting reading through the Murderbot Diaries and am up to Rogue Protocol today. I'm also reading Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid.

apr 28, 2020, 11:43am

Marilyn Monroe: Private And Undisclosed
by Michelle Morgan

apr 28, 2020, 11:56am

The Preacher’s Daughter – Beverly Lewis
Book on CD read by Aimee Lily

From the book jacket: For Annie Zook, the only daughter of an Old order Amish preacher, the “Plain and simple life” is anything but plain and simple. She juggles conflicting desires and closely guarded secrets – a “fancy” friend, a secret room, and an unthinkable dream … while a long-ago mysterious disappearance weighs heavily on her heart.

My reactions
I think Lewis’s ambitions got away from her. There is just too much going on in this novel and none of if it satisfactorily explored. There’s that mysterious disappearance from the past, which is worthy of a novel all its own. Those events haunt not only Annie, but Zeke as well. Then there’s Zeke and Esther’s marriage difficulties, which would certainly make an interesting story. And the central story of the preacher’s daughter, Annie, who is pulled to expressing herself in painting, though it is forbidden, and who is encouraged by her English friend, Louisa (who is running for an all-but-arranged marriage).

I think Lewis does have a knack for exploring the Amish and Mennonite cultures, and contrasting their perspectives against those of modern-day America. I’m glad she gives voice to people who struggle with the basic tenets of faith and a way of life that may not completely suit them. This is the first in a series (“Annie’s People”) and I may read another.

I didn’t realize until I started the CD that it was an abridged version. Aimee Lily seems to do a good job, but I abandoned the audio for the text version so I could fill in the blanks left by the abridged audio.

apr 28, 2020, 1:45pm

I finished and enjoyed English mystery writer Robert Barnard's At Death's Door. Then I started a Western, Gone to Texas by Don Worcester. I quite enjoy Westerns when they're done well, but this one seemed entirely slapdash to me, entirely unbelievable plot and paper thin characters, and that was after only 40 pages! So into the Goodwill stack (to await whenever it shall be that Goodwill is open again) it went. I've now started A House Divided, a novel about the civil rights movement in Louisiana in the 60s written by Fredrick Barton, a fellow who was a friend of mine back in my own New Orleans days in the 1980s.

apr 28, 2020, 2:19pm

Started Girl Woman Other and am trying to read solaris fpr a book group. Am I the only one having trouble making sense of this book?

apr 29, 2020, 6:32am

Last week I stoutly proclaimed my aversion to reading series books because the writers thereof tend to have trouble walking the tightrope between keeping the stories fresh and demanding that the reader be familiar with every golden volume in order to comprehend what's going on in this one.

This week, I get to eat those words, since I picked up Anne Hillerman's Song of the Lion and thoroughly enjoyed it.

The difference being, Hillerman can write. She picked up her father Tony's keyboard after his death in 2008 and injected new life into an 18-book series, returning to the world of Navajo Tribal Police with skill and verve.

I've read some but not all of the Leaphorn & Chee series, and have always been impressed with the way Tony Hillerman made Navajo soul and spirit an integral part of the book. Anne has the same skill, and has updated the series somewhat by giving Jim Chee a young wife, also a Navaho tribal cop, and easing Leaphorn off center stage to give the kids more room to play.

apr 29, 2020, 8:55am

I finished The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August which I really enjoyed. It's about reincarnation, but not in the way we commonly think of it (i.e., we die and we are reincarnated in another body, and maybe even an animal or plant); Harry is reincarnated in the same body over and over again, remembering his previous lives. I was reminded of the movie Groundhog Day, but this goes in a whole different direction - great book!

apr 29, 2020, 11:00am

>23 LisaMorr: oh I loved it too! Really interesting take on reincarnation, My only problem is lack of exlpanation of how this all came to pass, But that wasn't really alll that necessary,

apr 29, 2020, 1:39pm

Revolutionary Road
Richard Yates
4/5 stars
Set in the 1950’s Frank and April, a young couple with two children, live a dull life. When April discovers a new job opportunity in France for her that enables her to make a great deal of money, she convinces Frank that they should move there and he could watch the kids and look for a career he could enjoy. Unfortunately, April becomes pregnant and her dreams are shattered. Life returns to its normal stagnancy until April makes a shocking decision, changing all of their lives forever. For a book written in 1962, I thought this quite a shocking topic for the author to undertake but I had a hard time putting this down.

apr 29, 2020, 1:39pm

>23 LisaMorr: I enjoyed that book!

apr 29, 2020, 8:55pm

I’m still reading, and very much enjoying, The Plot Against America. I wish I could just sit down and concentrate on it.

apr 29, 2020, 11:20pm

The Gown – Jennifer Robson
Digital audiobook narrated by Marissa Cailin

The subtitle is all the synopsis anyone needs: A Novel of the Royal Wedding. Okay, maybe a bit more … not Charles & Diana; not William and Kate; not Harry and Meghan. No, this royal wedding is that of Elizabeth and Phillip

As has become almost de rigueur for historical fiction these days, Robson uses a dual timeline. Heather Mackenzie is in Toronto Canada in 2016 and is intrigued by the scrap of fabric with exquisitely detailed hand-embroidered flowers that she’s inherited from her grandmother. Her grandmother never talked about her early years in England. Turns out she was one of the crew of embroiderers tasked with decorating Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown. And the secrecy surrounding the design and work was every bit as intense as any modern-day royal wedding.

I really enjoyed the details of post-war London. Explanations of rationing and continued deprivations were handled seamlessly. I especially liked the friendship between Ann Hughes, the scrappy Brit, and Miriam Dessin, the French immigrant, and how they helped and supported one another. Robson even manages to include a bit about how some Jews were able to escape the Nazis.

I’m over this dual-timeline fad … just tell the story, PLEASE … which is why I give it three stars. Still, it captured and held my attention throughout. I look forward to my F2F book club discussion (when social distancing is over).

Marissa Cailin does a marvelous job narrating the audiobook. She has many characters to handle and was able to give them sufficiently distinct voices so that I was never confused.

apr 30, 2020, 11:13am

>28 BookConcierge: oh I have been over that for years! My experience with most of these is that the modern section is much poorer in quality than the writing for the event. There is no reason why a modern character is necessary when the historic event is so very interesting, Look at the books written by Sharon Kay Penman, Hillary Mantel, Bernard Cornwell, they are filled with true historic events that stand on their own. I don't need a modern character to relate to, they just get in the way of the st ory

apr 30, 2020, 6:43pm

I finished An American Marriage which looks at the difficulties of holding a marriage together through adversity, in this case the imprisonment of one member. Very well done.

apr 30, 2020, 7:16pm

I finished all four Murderbot novellas this week, and finished Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. Now I'm on to A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik (ARC on my Kindle - comes out in September) and a reread of A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner.

mei 1, 2020, 9:50am

Finished The True Bastards by Jonathan French. Enjoyed the book muchly. Not adding anything new to my rotation since I'm still in a minor reading slump, and I still have three books in the queue.

mei 1, 2020, 8:58pm

Pulled the plug on Docile. It wasn't going anywhere fast and there really wasn't much to like about it or the characters.

mei 2, 2020, 12:54am

The new thread is up over here.

mei 4, 2020, 4:52pm

>24 cindydavid4: I agree, although Harry spent quite a bit of at least one of his early lives trying to figure out why!

>26 JulieLill: I'm sorry it took me so long to read it!