Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Review: Mud Sweeter than Honey: Voices of Communist Albania

Mud Sweeter than Honey: Voices of Communist Albania Mud Sweeter than Honey: Voices of Communist Albania by Margo Rejmer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This upcoming translation from Restless Books is so absorbing that I could not put it down. Albania doesn't get a lot of attention and I didn't know much about it - it turns out that was intentional as the country was cut off from the rest of the world for so long. Scholars consider it the harshest Communist regime. The author conducted years of oral history interviews and used them to tell a larger story of a country under the heaviest heel. She includes a wide range of experiences, but of course interviews can only share the experience of survivors.

The writing and translation are stellar, making a very readable work, apart of course from the violence that is depicted. I've been talking about it to everyone around me since I finished reading it.

I had a copy from the publisher through Edelweiss; it comes out November 2.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Reading Envy 231: Psychological Terrorism with Reggie

Reggie is back for a horror-specific episode, just in time for the second half of October. We discuss what works for us in horror (and what doesn't) and share a few books that have gotten under our skin.

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Reading Envy 231: Psychological Terrorism

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Books discussed: 

book covers from books discussed in this episode, listed below

Infested by Carol Gore
Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo
Sing Your Sadness Deep by Laura Mauro
The Lighthouse Witches by C.J. Cooke
The Good House by Tananarive Due

Other mentions:

The Missing by Sarah Langan
Nos4A2 by Joe Hill
Bonkers Romance Podcast
Cackle by Rachel Harrison
Smart Bitches, Trashy Books Podcast
Professional Book Nerds Podcast
Books in the Freezer Podcast
Earth Fathers are Weird by Lyn Gala
Rewind or Die Series, Unnerving Press (Reggie recommends volumes 2-6, 12-14, 16)
The Salt Line by Holly Goddard Jones
@SincerelyWinona in Litsy
The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson
Kindred by Octavia Butler
The Shining by Stephen King
Under the Dome by Stephen King
North American Lake Monsters by Nathan Ballingrud
Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James
Hild by Nicola Griffith
A Stir of Echoes by Richard Matheson
The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
Half Sick of Shadows by Laura Sebastian
Velvet was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Related episodes: 

Episode 041 - Grotesque Beauty with Nathan Ballingrud
Episode 045 - Worlds Collide with Ross O'Brien
Episode 070 - Words Like Weapons with Yanira Ramirez
Episode 167 - Book Pendulum with Reggie
Episode 191 - Stealthy yet Sparkly with Gail Carriger

Stalk us online:

Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy
Reggie is @reggie on Litsy


All links to books are through Bookshop.org, where I am an affiliate. I wanted more money to go to the actual publishers and authors. I link to Amazon when a book is not listed with Bookshop.

Saturday, October 16, 2021

#1976Club and Review: Meridian

Meridian Meridian by Alice Walker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read this for the #1976club challenge in the blogosphere hosted by Simon and Karen - this aligned with the goal to read more books by Black women, although I've read Alice Walker before, both novels and poetry.

Meridian is a woman who feels a calling to not live a normal life but to centralize her body in protest and defiance. It's the 1970s and she lives two hours from Atlanta (some of the novel is at a college in Atlanta, but the timetable of all of it is a bit chaotic) - the south is seeing the fallout of desegregation (communities taking revenge by filling in pools, firing black teachers, etc) and Meridian also spends a lot of time trying to convince people to vote. She's a pretty memorable character, in one of those in between time periods I always feel I don't know enough about.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Review: Maybe Esther: A Family Story

Maybe Esther: A Family Story Maybe Esther: A Family Story by Katja Petrowskaja
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

KATJA PETROWSKAJA was born in Kiev, Ukraine; studied literature at the University of Tartu, Estonia; and conducted her PhD research at Columbia and Stanford Universities. She completed her PhD at the Russian University for the Humanities in Moscow. Since 1999, she has lived and worked as a journalist and columnist in Berlin. Maybe Esther is her first book, which was awarded seven international prizes and translated into nineteen languages.

I enjoy a good research narrative and that's really what this is - more than a memoir, as the author is only barely present in the book, it's the story of Katja's family members, as she traces them through the historical events that forced relocation. Most of her family members were Jewish and lived in Poland, Ukraine, and Russia, with forced moves into Austria and Germany for some. The research takes her to Soviet archives, concentration camp historians, an old rabbi who knew a family member, a former student of the "deaf-mute" schools her family members were known for establishing, and even a former landlord.

There is some reflection by the author on places that do not seem to acknowledge the atrocities that occured where they are. Kiev really stood out this way, where 13k+ Jewish people were killed in two days but the statues of commemoration of that period are about local war heroes instead.

While I found the contents and approach unique, the book took a while to get through, largely due to its fragmentary nature and problematic formatting in the Kindle eBook version (which I paid for, not an ARC.)

My book club read this for September and I missed the discussion but it sounded like it had an overall positive response. I am also counting it for my Europe2021 project.

View all my reviews

Reading Envy 230: Iron Bubble with Ross O'Brien

Living in Hong Kong has given Ross a different pandemic perspective, and has shifted his reading life in ways we discuss during this episode, as well as discussing books we've read recently. I'm just a bot, though.

Download or listen via this link:
Reading Envy 230: Iron Bubble

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 
Or listen through Google Podcasts


Books discussed: 

book covers from list following

Imperial Twilight by Stephen Platt
Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro
Several People are Typing by Calvin Kasulke
The Betrayals by Bridget Collins

Other mentions:

Robert Burns Night in Hong Kong
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
by David Mitchell
Travels with a Tangerine by Tim Mackintosh-Smith
Booker Award
Camp ToB
Kazuo Ishiguro - Nobel Prize
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Wall-E (film)
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse
The Glass Room by Simon Mawer
Razorblade Tears by S.A. Cosby
Maybe Esther: A Family Story by Katja Petrowskaja

Related episodes: 

Episode 028 - The Room of Requirement with David Galloway
Episode 045 - Worlds Collide with Ross O'Brien

Stalk us online:

Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy
Ross on Twitter
Ross can also be heard on the Sugar My Bones podcast


All links to books are through Bookshop.org, where I am an affiliate. I wanted more money to go to the actual publishers and authors. I link to Amazon when a book is not listed with Bookshop.

Monday, October 4, 2021

Review: The Lighthouse Witches

The Lighthouse Witches The Lighthouse Witches by C.J. Cooke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second witchy book I've read recently based on a mention on another book podcast (this was on the October most anticipated books episode from Professional Book Nerds even though they had a witchy books episode two prior; I read Cackle after the mention on Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.)

The Lighthouse Witches takes place on an island off the west coast of Scotland (for some reason it's never called the Hebrides in this book.) A mother moves there to paint a mural inside a lighthouse and uproots her daughters to do so, but then they disappear. The island has a long sordid history including witchhunts and missing children, and the author has used a lot from Scottish folklore and history.

Most people know I'm a sucker for a novel set on a cold weather island and what is better for spooktober than a witchy dreary read? This comes out Tuesday, October 5, 2021.

View all my reviews

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Books Read September 2021: 202-214

If only I could count the books I'm in the middle of! But September went quickly. I never even got to a Science September read.  Maybe next year.

A gentle reminder that all reviews can still be seen on my Goodreads profile (the review will be with the book; the format will be specified unless it's in print.) And the books with green outlines are my 5-star reads for the month!

cover images of books listed below

202. The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
203. A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
204. Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel ⭐️⭐️⭐️
205. Several People are Typing by Calvin Kasulke, performed by MacLeod Andrews, Neil Shah, Dani Martineck, Sophie Amoss, Neil Hellegers, Cary Hite, Sean Patrick Hopkins, Joshua Kane, Amy Landon, Nicole Lewis, Brittany Pressley, Jonathan Todd Ross ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
206. The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
207. Martita, I Remember You by Sandra Cisneros, et al; read by Sandra Cisneros, et al ⭐️⭐️⭐️
208. Winter in Sokcho by Elisa Shua Dusapin, translated by Aneesa Higgins ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
209. Real Estate by Deborah Levy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
210. Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
211. Cackle by Rachel Harrison ⭐️⭐️⭐️
212. Church of Spies by Mark Riebling ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
213. Voices in the Evening by Natalia Ginzburg, translated by D.M. Low ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
214. Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

Total Books Read:13

Reread: 0

audio: 2
eBook: 6
print: 5

borrowed: 0
library: 3
personal copy:  1
review copy: 8
subscription: 1

Around the World: 4
Booker Prize Long or shortlist: 1
Erin & Dani's Book Club: 0
Europe 2021: 2
National Book Award finalist: 1
Read the World 21 (Western Europe): 2
Tournament of Books: 0
Upstate International Book Club: 0
Work book club: 0

Graphic Novel/Comic: 0
Memoir: 1
Music: 1
Nature: 0
Poetry: 0
Translated: 2
Women in Translation: 2