Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Reading Envy 195: Muchness

Nadine is back to talk about books we've read and liked recently, and we also end up thinking more about campus novels, mighty tomes, and short science fiction. If you want to contribute to the 200th episode, please see the link in the show notes.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 195: Muchness

Subscribe to the podcast via this link: Feedburner
Or subscribe via Apple Podcasts by clicking: Subscribe
Or listen through TuneIn
Or listen on Google Play
Or listen via Stitcher
Or listen through Spotify 
New! Listen through Google Podcasts


Books discussed:

 

99 Nights in Logar by Jamil Jan Kochai
The Eighth Life by Nino Harataschvili, translated by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin
Bunny by Mona Awad
The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels
Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann


Other mentions:

Contribute to the 200th episode (words, not money)
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Arabian Nights: Tales of 1,001 Nights by Anon
Hurricane Season by Fernanda Melchor, translated by Sophie Hughes
Eric Karl Anderson, LonesomeReader - interview with Nino, Charlotte, and Ruth
International Booker Prize
Barkskins by Annie Proulx
13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Mona Awad
The Pisces by Melissa Broder
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Moo by Jane Smiley
The Lecturer's Tale by James Hynes
Tyll by Daniel Kehlmann
The Invention of Nature by Andrea Wulf

The Empress of Salt & Fortune by Nghi Vo
P. Djeli Clark
Tor.com ebook club
The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
2020 Locus Awards
Murderbot series by Martha Wells
Clarkesworld
Kate Baker
In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
Frederick Douglass by David W. Blight
The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho


Related episodes:

Episode 118 - Reading Envy Readalong: To the Bright Edge of the World
Episode 129 - Coming Back to Books with Nadine
Episode 152 - Kill 'em and Leave with Nadine 
Episode 185 - The Loyal Swineherd (Odyssey readalong)
 

Stalk us online:

Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy
Nadine at Goodreads

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Review: Crooked Hallelujah

Crooked Hallelujah Crooked Hallelujah by Kelli Jo Ford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Can I love anything the way that I used to love the mystery of my mother, her strength in suffering?"

This novel follows four generations of Cherokee women from the 1970s into the near future, mostly focusing on their relationships with each other. One mother, Justine, leaves the comfort of her family to try to make a better living in Texas with her daughter Reney, and those two are largely the focus.

There is a thread of Pentecostalism throughout as Justine's mother attends a Holiness church, meaning long dresses and speaking in tongues and a lot of rules. That sets the stage for quite a bit of rebellion and subterfuge.

I've seen so many reviews from readers complaining there are "not enough" native elements, so disappointed these strong women are not "being more Cherokee" and how it is "really just about poor people." I don't even know where to start with readers who punish a book for their own lack of understanding. Others were upset over having to work to figure out the narrator in new sections. Please ignore those reviews if you are interested in the lives of strong women with a lot working against them, in a bleak landscape like Oklahoma and Texas, and if you're not afraid of a little work on the reader's part.

This book comes out July 14 and I had a copy from the publisher through Netgalley.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Review: That We May Live

That We May Live That We May Live by Chen Si'an
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"The essential idea behind Calico is, let's talk to the translators... find out what's interesting, what's not being published in English, what's percolating in other parts of the world that we haven't heard about yet. THAT WE MAY LIVE is a collection of speculative Chinese fiction... of unnerving, uncanny, weird stories about urbanization and late capitalism." - Chad Felix of Two Lines Press in this interview.

I've been reading these stories very slowly, just one every few days/weeks or so, since I shelved it next to my computer where I work all the time. They definitely feel like they are in conversation with other works from Asia, particularly South Korea, but that connection may be more about what has been translated vs. what hasn't been.

Sour Meat by Dorothy Tse
A surreal story about a stinky brew, also about women's bodies... would have loved some editor or translator notes with some context as it seems intentionally sexual as if it is trying to push boundaries, but what are the boundaries in China, I don't know....

Auntie Han's Modern Life by Enoch Tam
"Every time she came home, she felt as if it were to a different house on a different street."
garden-keepers cultivating skyscrapers
houses that move, houses that are depressed

Lip Service by Zhu Hui
Oof! A punchy tale of what a naturally beautiful woman has to be willing to do to stay on top.

The Elephant by Chan Chi Wa
Clearly in conversation with "The Elephant Vanishes" by Haruki Murakami, the narrator of this story has a similar emotional experience about an elephant but it has the added layer of living in a state of surveillance.

The Mushroom Houses Proliferated in District M by Enoch Tam
Continuing the themes of the earlier story by the same author, it's about the garden keepers and their war with the mushrooms.

A Counterfeit Life by Chen Si'an
"He started roaming around every corner of the city, searching for those spots in which people being waited for might fail to show up."

Flourishing Beasts by Yan Ge
Are you a [woman] or are you a [beast]?
View all my reviews

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Review: Daughters of Smoke and Fire

Daughters of Smoke and Fire Daughters of Smoke and Fire by Ava Homa
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Leila and Chia are siblings in Kurdistan, technically in the Kurdish part of Iran, when their father is named an enemy of the state and not allowed to work. Their family struggles for money while both children also try to get an education, but the odds are not in Leila's favor (and she wants to be a filmmaker in a region that polices everything including books and films.) Then her brother disappears....

In my year of reading more in the Middle East, this novel came at a perfect time. The author is also from Kurdistan/Iran but had greater access to education through scholarship programs overseas (the novel was written in English.) Homa shows how governments (plural) intentionally keep the Kurdish people down through keeping their regions from developing, limiting access to education, and requiring children not to speak their childhood language.

I had a copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss; it came out May 12, 2020.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Books Read June 2020: 136-164


Pictured: 5-star reads for June

All Books Read:

136. Vera Kelly is Not a Mystery by Rosalie Knecht ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (print galley; my review)
137. Miss Iceland by Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir, translated by Brian FitzGibbon ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from NetGalley; my review)
138. The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
139. Scorpionfish by Natalie Bakopoulos ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (print galley; my review)
140. A World Between by Emily Hashimoto ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from publisher; my review)
141. Unfit to Print by KJ Charles, read by Vikas Adam ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Hoopla audiobook; my review)
142. Homie by Danez Smith ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from publisher; my review)
143. Apsara Engine by Bishakh Kumar Som ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from publisher; my review)
144. These Ghosts are Family by Maisy Card ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (print galley; my review)
145. The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin, narrated by Robin Miles ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Audible audiobook; my review)
146. Countdown City by Ben H. Winters ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Kindle eBook; my review)
147. The Sin Eater by Megan Campisi ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (print galley; my review)
148. The Pine Islands by Marion Poschmann, translated by Jen Calleja ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
149. You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from NetGalley; my review)
150. Rage Against the Minivan by Kristen Howerton ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
151. IraqiGirl by "Hadiya" ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (personal copy; my review)
152. Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
153. Things That Make White People Uncomfortable by Michael Bennett ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (personal copy; my review)
154. Everything My Mother Taught Me by Alice Hoffman ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Amazon Prime ebook; my review)
155. Can You Feel This? by Julie Orringer ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Amazon Prime ebook; my review)
156. The Lion's Den by Anthony Marra ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Amazon Prime ebook; my review)
157. Zenith Man by Jennifer Haigh ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Amazon Prime ebook; my review)
158. The Weddings by Alexander Chee ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Amazon Prime ebook; my review)
159. The Eighth Life by Nino Harataschwili, translated by Charlotte Collins & Ruth Martin ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from Edelweiss; my review)
160. The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (personal copy; my review)
161. The Fire Never Goes Out by Noelle Stevenson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (print galley from publisher; my review)
162. The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (print galley from publisher; my review)
163. Home by Jenn Alexander ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (eARC from publisher; my review)
164. Catrachos by Roy G. Guzmán ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (Graywolf Galley Club; my review)

Books read: 29

Audiobook: 2
eBook: 17
Print: 10

Library copy: 1 (not surprising as none of my libraries are open!)
Personal copy: 11
Review copy: 17

MiddleEast2020: 2
PrideMonth: 10
#ReadCaribbean: 1
ReadingEnvySummerReading: 1

Biography/Memoir: 2
Poetry: 2
Romance: 4
Sci-Fi/Fantasy: 2
YA: 1

Camp ToB: 1
International Booker Prize: 2

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Reading Envy 194: Squirreling Books Away with Andrew

Jenny welcomes Andrew to discuss books, and we discuss myth and folk tale retellings, classics, and reading around the world. Andrew finishes every book he starts and has been in the same book group for 20 years.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 194: Squirreling Books Away

Subscribe to the podcast via this link: Feedburner
Or subscribe via Apple Podcasts by clicking: Subscribe
Or listen through TuneIn
Or listen on Google Play
Or listen via Stitcher
Or listen through Spotify 
New! Listen through Google Podcasts


Books discussed:



Middlemarch by George Eliot
These Ghosts are Family by Maisy Card
Old School by Tobias Wolff
The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
Swansong by Kerry Andrew


Other mentions:

The Corpse Washer by Sinan Antoon
Thomas Hardy
D.H. Lawrence
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë
Shirley by Charlotte Bronte
Jane Austen
BBC Radio 4 - In Our Time podcast
Literary Disco Podcast
Silas Marner by George Eliot
The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Ulysses by James Joyce
Ulysses dramatisation

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
The Eighth Life by Nino Harataschwili
Solar Bones by Mike McCormack
Milkman by Anna Burns
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Age 13 3/4 by Sue Townsend
Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn
The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste
An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Robert Frost
Ayn Rand
Ernest Hemingway
New Yorker Podcast - Tobias Wolff
The other Tobias Wolfe
Marian Keyes
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd
The Gnostic Gospels by Elaine Pagels
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
Molly Brown
Folk on Foot Podcast
Everything Under by Daisy Johnson (and it's Oedipus, not Hansel and Gretel!)
Country by Michael Hughes
The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes
The Prince of West End Avenue by Alan Isler (not available in USA)
IraqiGirl: the Diary of a Teenage Girl in Iraq


Related episodes:

Episode 099 - Readalong: The Secret History
Episode 176 - Best of 2019
Episode 182 - Reading Slump with Eleanor Thoele
Episode 192 - Sly Milieu with Thomas

Stalk us online:

Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy
Andrew at Goodreads
Andrew is @andrew61 on Litsy

Monday, June 29, 2020

Review: The Eighth Life

The Eighth Life The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischwili
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book has had my complete attention every spare minute of the last week, and I was absorbed from page 1 to page 944. A family saga that starts with the four daughters of a Georgian chocolatier, through wars and revolutions and generations. That's the country of Georgia, which I knew almost nothing about.

I always say I find my best reads on the long but not shortlists of awards and this is no exception (longlisted for the International Booker) - any other books I've picked up while reading this have paled in comparison.

I had copy from the publisher through Edelweiss but it took me a while to get to it. It came out April 14, 2020.

View all my reviews

Sunday, June 28, 2020

I'll Have What You're Reading

The 200th episode of the Reading Envy Podcast is fast approaching. Since my tagline has always been "I'll have what you're reading," I'd like to give you the opportunity to share where you get ideas of books to read, or what bookish content you produce that readers might be interested in. I am hoping for audio submissions from regular readers, but I am also inviting podcasters, Booktubers, independent bookstores, and small press representatives to plug what they think readers might want to hear about. I do not have advertising on my show so consider this an invitation!

To contribute:

1. Record an audio file, MP3 is fine. It should be no longer than 2 minutes (2 minutes is longer than you think.)
2. Send it to me at the name of my podcast, all one word, at gmail.com. Hint: the podcast name is "Reading Envy."
3. Deadline is September 1.


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Reading Envy 193: And I Feel Fine (Ducks, Newburyport Readalong)

In the midst of protests and a pandemic, Jenny hosts a bonus readalong discussion of Ducks, Newburyport. What seems like the random thoughts of a pie-making Midwestern woman turn out to be so much more, and we untangle only a few of the threads in this complex tome. Spoilers Inside.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 193: And I Feel Fine

Subscribe to the podcast via this link: Feedburner
Or subscribe via Apple Podcasts by clicking: Subscribe
Or listen through TuneIn
Or listen on Google Play
Or listen via Stitcher
Or listen through Spotify 
New! Listen through Google Podcasts


Books discussed:



Ducks, Newburyport by Lucy Ellmann


Other mentions:

Pioneer Girl: the Annotated Bibliography by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
JennyBakes - lemon drizzle cake disaster
JennyBakes - tarte tatin
Reading Envy Readers (Goodreads group)
After the Cuyahoga River Fire - Great Lakes Now (video)
Almanac of the Dead by Leslie Marmon Silko
Martian Time-Slip by Philip K. Dick
Galactic Pot-Healer by Philip K. Dick
The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu
Apocalypse Whenever (Goodreads group)
The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
The City and the City by China Mieville
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin
Marchpane review of Ducks, Newburyport
It's the End of the World by R.E.M.


Related episodes:

Episode 090 - Reading Envy Readalong: East of Eden with Ellie and Jeff
Episode 093 - Spewing Science with Jeff Koeppen
Episode 099 - Readalong: The Secret History
Episode 116 - Make Margaret Atwood Fiction Again with Jeff Koeppen
Episode 118 - Reading Envy Readalong: To the Bright Edge of the World
Episode 137 - Reading Envy Readalong: The Golden Notebook
Episode 148 - Multiple Lives with Jeff 
Episode 157 - Joint Readalong of Gone with the Wind with Book Cougars
Episode 185 - The Loyal Swineherd (Odyssey readalong)
Book Cougars - Joint Readalong of Sapphira and the Slave Girl
 

Stalk us online:

Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy
Jeff at Goodreads
Jeff on Twitter
Jeff is @BestDogDad on Litsy  

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Review: Take a Hint, Dani Brown

Take a Hint, Dani Brown Take a Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is the second book in The Brown Sisters by Talia Hibbett, and I might have enjoyed this one even more than the first (Get a Life, Chloe Brown.) Danika is a somewhat witchy academic who is NOT a relationship person, until she meets Zafir, who rescues her from a building and they become a hashtag. He is a romance fan in more ways than one. If you are a fan of people speaking frankly and directly (even in steamy situations) this is for you.

It looks like there will be a third book in this series, but I'd also like the stories of some of these side characters - Scorcha, Fatima, etc.

What I'm not expressing well is how much this made me laugh, sometimes cackle. If this wasn't a review copy I would be quoting some MAJOR HILARIOUS PASSAGES.

I had a copy from the publisher through Edelweiss but it comes out Tuesday the 23rd! You don't need to have read the Chloe Brown book to enjoy this one.

View all my reviews

Review: IraqiGirl: Diary of a Teenage Girl in Iraq

IraqiGirl: Diary of a Teenage Girl in Iraq IraqiGirl: Diary of a Teenage Girl in Iraq by IraqiGirl
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"My mother told me not to write about politics. She said write about normal life. But I don't have a normal life so how can I follow her advice?" 3 August 2005

Hadiya wrote a blog about her life from 2004-2018. This book covers 2004-2007 (what we would call high school) with a brief note about 2008-09 but I went to her blog to see what happened later. It ends up being about life under military occupation by the United States. She lives in Mosul, with family in Lebanon, Syria, Baghdad, and Kurdistan. She also provides a glimpse into the Syria of fifteen years ago, one that was a refuge for so many people, a city that epitomizes peace and "real life" to Hadiya during this time period, since her family retreats to Aleppo on multiple occasions when their home is damaged by bombs, gunfire, or someone they know is killed. All along Hadiya is trying to be a good student so she can go to pharmacy school.

The way the book is presented I believe it is targeted at middle to high schoolers as a way to develop empathy for Hadiya and others like her, similar to how The Diary of Anne Frank is used in classrooms. There is an extra Q&A from students her age at the end.

I bought this from Haymarket books as part of my reading goals for the year. It doesn't escape me that the two books I've read from Iraq so far have been from the voices of children who have had to leave the country. I was brought to tears more than one time, so had to take a bit longer to read this one.

View all my reviews

Friday, June 19, 2020

Review: You Exist Too Much

You Exist Too Much You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The background of the novel is a woman born to Palestinian parents, who were forced to relocate in 1967. They have family in Lebanon, West Bank, and Jordan, but live in America. Her parents had a volatile relationship and her mother has often treated her like competition or an inconvenience, telling her "You exist too much" when she responds emotionally, especially when she starts trying to come out to her. The refusal to understand her daughter as anything but straight is one backbone to the novel.

But this is not a family saga. It's more like a recovery novel. At the start of the novel, a relationship between the MC and her girlfriend Anna has just ended and it's definitely her fault. She's been sleeping with randos at the bar where she DJs and carrying on with a married professor while claiming to be monogamous; she decides to check in to a facility for addiction...love addiction. I was a bit surprised at this as the majority of the story, because the very first scene of the novel, where she gets in trouble for exposing her ankles in Bethlehem, made me think it would be a different type of story.

I was more interested in the parts about her mother, honestly, what her life started as and what happened in the war, the distributed nature of her family, the strangeness of her parents' marriage and how violence was the only form of attention - the author was making the connection between that upbringing and the MC's behavior but I think the piece that was missing is that I'm not sure the MC ever does. This makes it feel like the novel is a snapshot of the story but not the entire story, and I think that's okay, but somehow not as satisfying as I would have liked.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Reading Envy 192: Sly Milieu with Thomas

Thomas is back! We discuss reading during a pandemic and more importantly, the books we've managed to order online during the pandemic. Jenny gets Thomas to talk about audiobooks, and we follow every tangent from E.M. Forster to epistolary novels.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 192: Sly Milieu

Subscribe to the podcast via this link: Feedburner
Or subscribe via Apple Podcasts by clicking: Subscribe
Or listen through TuneIn
Or listen on Google Play
Or listen via Stitcher
Or listen through Spotify 
New! Listen through Google Podcasts


Books discussed:



Arctic Summer by Damon Galgut
The Subtweet by Vivek Shraya
No Fond Return of Love by Barbara Pym
Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn


Other mentions:

In a Strange Room by Damon Galgut
"Every Song" by Vivek Shraya (both versions in Spotify)
Camp ToB
"Italy Before the Plague" (Thomas's blog entry)
The Mirror and the Light by Hillary Mantel
Timothy West
Simon Vance
Sinclair Lewis
Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin
The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
Graham Greene
84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff
Patrick Modiano
WG Sebwald
Helen MacInnes
Charles McCarthy
Malaprop's Bookstore
Old Town Books
Blue Hill Books
Boulder Book Store
Three Lives & Company
Bear Pond Books
Nonsuch Book
Mahogany Books
Furrowed Middlebrow from Dean Street Books
Stuck in a Book
Powells
Lion Cross Point by Masatsugu Ono
A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
A Room with a View (film)
Where Angels Fear to Tread by E.M. Forster
The Longest Journey by E.M. Forster
Howards End by E.M. Forster
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
Maurice by E.M. Forster
Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher
Hotels of North America by Rick Moody
Interview between Tommy Orange and Kawai Strong Washburn
Stories of Hawaii by Jack London
Excellent Women by Barbara Pym


Related episodes:

Episode 085 - An Acquired Taste with Thomas Otto
Episode 144 - For the Fans with Thomas of Hogglestock
Episode 155 - Books About Music Recommendations Episode with Thomas
Episode 191 - Stealthy yet Sparkly with Gail Carriger


Stalk us online:

Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy
Thomas on Twitter
Thomas at his blog, hogglestock