Friday, August 30, 2019

Review: Frankissstein

Frankissstein Frankissstein by Jeanette Winterson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay I waited as long as I could to give in and read this ARC. I read all 352 pages on the night which also happened to be Jeanette Winterson's 60th birthday. She interweaves Mary Shelley with a 21st century transgender doctor named Ry - both are obsessed in different ways with concepts of bodies and creation. Themes of gender, found families, sex, creation, and love flow throughout but it's delightful to read and I devoured it. Please keep Winterson for the short list, Man Booker judges.

I received a copy from the publisher. It doesn't come out in the United States until October!

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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Reading Envy 164: Character Driven with Carol Ann

Carol Ann is back to talk books with more reading in her rearview. We each talk about books we've liked lately but also end up talking about cheese at the end. Jenny did feel she'd spoiled too much for one book so that discussion has been removed!

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 164: Character Driven with Carol Ann

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Books discussed:



The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
Bunny by Mona Awad
News of the World by Paulette Jiles
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson
The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell
Everything Under by Daisy Johnson


Other mentions:

Plainsong by Kent Haruf
John Irving
Barbara Kingsolver
Beach Music by Pat Conroy
My Reading Life by Pat Conroy
The Great Santini by Pat Conroy
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
The Color of Lightning by Paulette Jiles
The Captured by Scott Zesch
The Pat Conroy Cookbook by Pat Conroy
Tillamook Cheese Cookbook by Kathy Holstad

Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
Maresi Red Mantle by Maria Turtschaninoff


Related Episodes:

Episode 099 - Readalong: The Secret History
Episode 103 - Duchess Potatoes with Carol Ann Ellison
Episode 116 - Make Margaret Atwood Fiction Again with Jeff Koeppen
Episode 118 - Reading Envy Readalong: To the Bright Edge of the World 
Episode 161 - Women in Translation Month Recommendations with Lauren


Stalk us online:

Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy
Carol Ann at NovelGobblers
Carol Ann at Goodreads
Carol Ann is @thebookandbeyond on Instagram 

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Review: Flights

Flights Flights by Olga Tokarczuk
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I've been reading this book off and on for two months, finally finishing it before the end of Women in Translation month - I wouldn't really call this a novel as much as it is fragments with some shared themes. I enjoyed some of the writing and was glad one of the stories came back to conclude in the end. There are themes of travel, moving, death, relationships and what you can/can't control, and home.

Flights won the Man Booker International Prize that awards the author and translator equally, so I should say I rarely thought about how this was originally Polish, except for some obvious Polish themes... That's to the great credit of the translator, Jennifer Croft.

A few of the bits I marked:

"There are countries out there where people speak English. But not like us - we have our own languages hidden in our carry-on luggage, in our cosmetics bags, only ever using English when we travel, and then only in foreign countries, to foreign people. It's hard to imagine, but English is their real language! Oftentimes their only language. They don't have anything to fall back on or to turn to in moments of doubt. How lost they must feel in the world, where all instructions, all the lyrics of all the stupidest possible songs, all the menus, all the excruciating pamphlets and brochures - even the buttons in the elevator! - are in their private language. They may be understood by anyone at any moment, whenever they open their mouths. They must have to write things down in special codes. Wherever they are, people have unlimited access to them - they are accessible to everyone and everything!"

"What [the tyrants] want is to create a frozen order, to falsify time's passage. They want for the days to repeat themselves, unchanging: they want to build a big machine where every creature will be forced to take its place and carry out false actions... What they want is to pin down the world... Move. Get going. Blessed is he who leaves."

"All you have to do to become invisible is be a woman of a certain age."

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Sunday, August 18, 2019

Review: Turbulence

Turbulence Turbulence by David Szalay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is what I think is called a "fix-up" novel, where a string of short stories link together somewhat to form a larger hole. The characters are briefly introduced in relation to a flight they are taking, and another character leaves from that airport and flies to another. Of course by the end there are some connections, but you don't necessarily get a full story from any of the characters, which I ended up feeling was a bit of a shame, because I felt interested in them.

I know the author was a finalist for the National Book Award (USA) but I haven't not read that book. I enjoyed his writing and it sustained me through insomnia last night so win/win.

Thanks to the publisher for approving my request through Edelweiss. The book came out July 16, 2019.

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Review: 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A sex worker in Istanbul has been murdered, and as her brain releases her life, the reader is transported to specific memories and stories. Her life is revealed alongside five close friends (like a Turkish cast of Rent) who play a bigger role in the second half of the story.

This is on the Man Booker Prize longlist for 2019, but I must say it isn't the best book I've read by this author. Still it is quite readable and is based on an interesting structure.

I had a review copy from the publisher through @netgalley which unfortunately removed all double "ff" and sometimes "ffi" as well as all numbers. This broke my momentum on reading the story every time. And at one point it completely removed the meaning of a street name that seemed important, and some back stories seemed connected to specific years, which I could not tell you the importance of at this point. Luckily I know quite a bit of Turkish history and culture because of my year of reading Turkey. So I do feel like I have a bit of an incomplete experience.

Thanks to the publisher for granting me access via NetGalley; the book comes out December 1, 2019 in the states but is already out in the UK.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Reading Envy 163: Fainting Goats with Lauren

If you're a fan of the show, you have already heard the episode with Lauren and Jenny recommending books for Women in Translation month. We recorded this episode earlier in the summer but still talk quite a bit about regional book goals, translated works, and the wonder of lingering in a place through our reading. This is the first posting of this episode, Jenny was just rearranging the furniture a bit behind the scenes, so when Lauren says "last month" she means June and not July. Don't trip over that table!

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 163: Fainting Goats with Lauren

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Books discussed:



Slave Old Man by Patrick Chamoiseau, translated by Linda Coverdale
Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay
Zoobiquity by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz and Kathryn Bowers
If, Then by Kate Hope Day
Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami
Bangkok Wakes to Rain by Pitchaya Sudbanthad


Other mentions:

Celestial Bodies by Jokha Alharthi
Caribbean American Heritage Month and #readCaribbean
Notebook of a Return to the Native Land by Aime Cesaire
Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn
Wildhood by Barbara Natterson-Horowitz
Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers by Robert Sapolsky
Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Don Giovanni by W.A. Mozart (opera)
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang
Children of Dune by Frank Herbert
Vessel by Lisa A. Nichols
Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut
Exhalation by Ted Chiang


Related Episodes:

Episode 097 - Blank Spaces with Lauren Weinhold
Episode 123 - Godlets and Forests with Lauren Weinhold
Episode 133 - To Understand the World with Lauren Weinhold
Episode 138 - Shared Landscape with Lauren Weinhold 
Episode 147 - Bonus Poetry Recommendations with Lauren
Episode 161 - Women in Translation Month Recommendations with Lauren


Stalk us online:

Lauren at Goodreads
Lauren is @end.notes on Instagram
Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy 

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Reading Envy 162: Heat Rating with Sara DeSantis

Sara used to only read self-help books but now has shifted to being a major romance reader, especially in audio. Jenny has reformed from her early skepticism (it might have been a certain royal wedding) and decided to talk about some of the romance she's read and liked lately.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 162: Heat Rating with Sara

Subscribe to the podcast via this link: Feedburner
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Or listen through TuneIn
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Listen via Stitcher
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Books discussed:



Suddenly Royal by Nichole Chase
Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez
The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai
To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
P.S. from Paris by Marc Levy, translated by Sam Taylor


Other mentions:

Reluctant Royals series by Alyssa Cole
The Princess Diaries (film)
V&A (Victoria and Albert) Museum
Forbidden Hearts series by Alisha Rai
American Hookup by Lisa Wade
To All the Boys I've Loved Before (film)
P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
Always Be My Maybe (film)
Just Like Heaven (film)
Kiss and Break Up by Ella Fields
American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson


Related Episodes:

Episode 056 - The Wall of Romance
Episode 074 - The Books We Didn't Love in High School with Blaine DeSantis

Stalk us online:

Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and Litsy
Sara is @hotreads_librarian on Instagram

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Review: Outspoken: Why Women's Voices Get Silenced and How to Set Them Free

Outspoken: Why Women's Voices Get Silenced and How to Set Them Free Outspoken: Why Women's Voices Get Silenced and How to Set Them Free by Veronica Reuckert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book starts with a focus on the actual voice and expands out into topics like politics, women in business, Disney films, and so on. It goes all the way up to some discussion of AOC, so very current.

I appreciated practical advice like how to overcome the compulsion to speak in a hushed tone in an open office layout, how to interrupt, and a discussion of whether we should be shushing our female children. It's clear that it is not the actual voices of women that are the problem, but the presence of women, but if women are socialized for silence this is a very powerful tool. The only answer is more women!

I had a copy from the publisher through Edelweiss; the book came out June 14, 2019.

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Review: Space Invaders: A Novel

Space Invaders: A Novel Space Invaders: A Novel by Nona Fernández
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My first read for Women in Translation Month is Space Invaders by Nona Fernandez, translated by Natasha Wimmer, coming out from Graywolf in November or December this year. It is very slim but looks can be so deceiving - it delivered the biggest gut punch with the tiniest gloves ever.

One thing I've noticed as I read more books from around the world, including women in translation, is that many of the stories being told are about living through violent regime change. Space Invaders has a bunch of childhood friends looking back at their years coming of age in Chile during the Pinochet regime. Like most children, all they really know is what they experienced but the context only comes later. It grows in intensity until the end.

The translator is the person who did a lot of the Bola├▒o works.

I'm a member of the Graywolf Galley Club, which is why I got this early.

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