Sunday, June 20, 2021

Review: The Chosen and the Beautiful

The Chosen and the Beautiful The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I reread The Great Gatsby, I hadn't really remembered the character of Jordan Baker, a friend of Daisy and sometimes narrator. In this retelling, she is the focus, lending a queer, Asian, and sometimes magical perspective. I know I claim to dislike retellings, but I loved this!

Since the original work is now famously in the public domain, many authors have been taking the work and running with it. Nghi Vo uses some pieces verbatim, whether they be dialogue or scene setters, but always for a purpose of showing from a different angle. Jordan has a lot of access to the characters, after all, and also has the ability to create out of paper cutting (took me back to The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu.) Gatsby may have more secrets than we knew, the rich and famous drink Demoniac, and there seems to be glamour beyond just what money can buy.

I've been putting in some shifts as a summer advisor at work, and one day I brought this with me to read over a break. One of the incoming students was telling me about writing about Gatsby for her AP exam, and I pulled this book out to show her. Maybe I have a little glamour myself.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Reading Envy 222: Minty Fresh with Courtney

Courtney drops by to discuss reading goals updates, to school Jenny on using Reddit for reading, and we may go on a few mutiny and gardening tangents. There is a content warning at the top of this episode so please listen closely!

Download or listen via this link:
Reading Envy 222: Minty Fresh

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 of the five books listed below.

A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore
Sparrow Envy by J. Drew Lanham
Unbowed by Wangari Maathai
My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell; narrated by Grace Gummer
The Voyage of the Narwhal by Andrea Barrett

Other mentions:

Reddit r/fantasy
Reddit - Suggest me a Book
Reddit - What's that book called?
Lamb by Christopher Moore
Fool by Christopher Moore
The Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore
Island of the Sequined Love Nun
by Christopher Moore
The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove by Christopher Moore
The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore
On Being Podcast - J. Drew Lanham
-ologies podcast
The Home Place by J. Drew Lanham
We Are Each Other's Harvest by Natalie Baszile
Queen Sugar by Natalie Baszile
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara
The Terror by Dan Simmons
Serpent in Paradise by Dea Birkett
The Liar's Dictionary by Eley Williams
Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore
The Galaxy and The Ground Within by Becky Chambers
While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams
The Food Explorer by Daniel Stone

Related episodes:

Episode 064 - Reading Down the Rabbit Hole with guest Tracy Landrith
Episode 104
- Uppity Lives and Jelly Melons with Jason Roland 
Episode 179 - Think of the Bees with Courtney Burson
Episode 210 - Reading Goals 2021

Stalk us online:

Courtney at Goodreads
Courtney is @conservio on Litsy
Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and 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.



Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Reading Envy 221: Joint Poetry Readalong

Chris and Emily of the Book Cougars join me for discussion part 1 of our joint readalong - When the Light of the World was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry edited by Joy Harjo et al. I also recorded the group discussion some of the Reading Envy Readers had, so I've included the majority of that discussion as well. It makes the episode slightly longer than usual, but I figure if you were in on discussing this amazing anthology, you'd likely be in for both discussions. Some people really took on the challenge to try poetry, and I know some readers are still working on it. Stay tuned to the Book Cougars where part 2 of our joint readalong, Braiding Sweetgrass, will post June 8th.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 221: Joint Poetry Readalong

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:

Chris, Jenny, and Emily from their houses in Zoom, holding up the books discussed.

When the Light of the World was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry edited by Joy Harjo et al.
A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver

Other mentions:

Studies in American Indian Literature by Paula Gunn Allen
The Sacred Hoop by Paula Gunn Allen
Spider Woman's Granddaughters by Paula Gunn Allen
Birchbark Books
Sharks in the Time of Saviors by Kawai Strong Washburn
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Weigh in on the fall readalong

Related episodes:

Episode 090 - Reading Envy Readalong: East of Eden
Episode 099 - Readalong: The Secret History
Episode 118
- Reading Envy Readalong: To the Bright Edge of the World
Episode 137 - Reading Envy Readalong: The Golden Notebook
Episode 157
- Joint Readalong of Gone with the Wind with Book Cougars
Episode 185 - The Loyal Swineherd (Odyssey readalong)
Episode 193 - And I Feel Fine (Ducks, Newburyport READALONG)
Book Cougars - Joint Readalong of Sapphira and the Slave Girl
Books on the Go - Ep. 121 - American Sunrise with Jenny Colvin 


Stalk us online:

Book Cougars website/podcast
Book Cougars are @bookcougars in Instagram
Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and 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.




Monday, May 31, 2021

Books Read May 2021: 114-141

This month I focused on the two books for the joint readalong with the Book Cougars, and also found a new audiobook listening pattern that increased my consumption of that format (and lessened that of other formats.) Hardly any speculative fiction, a lot more non-fiction, even a few thrillers! And a heck of a lot of 5-star reads.

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!


114. Onion Skin by Edgar Camacho ⭐️⭐️⭐️
115. Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
116. Meaty by Samantha Irby, read by Samantha Irby ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
117. Four Hundred Souls edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha N. Blaine ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
118. The Nine Lives of Rose Napolitano by Donna Freitas, narrated by Kristen Sieh ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
119. Love in Case of Emergency by Daniela Krien ⭐️⭐️⭐️
120. When the Light of the World was Subdued... edited by Joy Harjo et al ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
121. True Story by Kate Reed Petty ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
122. The Doll by Ismail Kadare, translated by John Hodgson ⭐️⭐️⭐️
123. Northern Spy by Flynn Berry ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
124. My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell, narrated by Grace Gummer ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
125. Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
126. The Guncle by Steven Rowley ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
127. The Dangers of Smoking in Bed by Mariana Enriquez, translated by Megan McDowell ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
128. Margreete's Harbor by Eleanor Morse ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
129. A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, read by Ruth Ozeki ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
130. Tomb Song by Julián Herbert, translated by Christina MacSweeney ⭐️⭐️⭐️
131. Broken Horses by Brandi Carlile, read by Brandi Carlile ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
132. The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
133. Sparrow Envy by J. Drew Lanham ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
134. While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams, narrated by Adenrele Ojo ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
135. Second Place by Rachel Cusk ⭐️⭐️⭐️
136. The Butterfly Effect by Rachel Mans McKenny, narrated by Carly Robins ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
137. The Invisible Husband of Frick Island by  Colleen Oakley ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
138. Untamed Shore by  Silvia Moreno-Garcia, read by Maria Liatis ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
139. Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
140. Faces in the Crowd by Valeria Luiselli, translated by Christina MacSweeney ⭐️⭐️⭐️
141. Sanditon by Jane Austen (incomplete) ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

 

Total Books Read: 28

Reread: 1

audio: 9
eBook: 10
print: 9

library: 9
personal copy: 5
review copy: 13
subscription: 1

Around the World: 8
Europe 2021: 3
Read the World 21 (Mexico): 4

Crime/Mystery/Thriller: 5
Graphic Novel/Comic: 1
Memoir: 2
Music: 2
Nature: 2
Poetry: 2
Translated: 6
Women in Translation: 3

 

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Review: Second Place

Second Place

Second Place by Rachel Cusk
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**This entire review might be a spoiler** 

I read some of this, I put it aside. I'm used to this initial response to Cusk, and usually feel gratified I've gone back to it. I'm not sure I'm feeling that yet about this one, but my feelings could change.

I went to Instagram first and pleaded for people who had already read it to discuss it with me. Before I even finished, I listened to the interview with the reviewer for the New York Times Book Review on the NYTBR Podcast talk about her approach and she let slide that this is all based on Cusk reading this memoir and then imagining that author's experience and then reimagining it into a different landscape and slightly different details and writing it from that perspective... but the reviewer also said that she saw all other reviews mentioning that detail up front, and feeling that the author kept it until the end for a reason. I listened to the author's interview with Michael Silverblatt on the KCRW Bookworm Podcast, where he started with the "spoiler." That's why this whole review is listed as a spoiler - it's hard to talk about with the book without knowing that the author read this obscure memoir about the time D.H. Lawrence came to stay with this artist in Taos. Once you know that, you can really see the author's wheels turning, and this book is the grain or the chaff. Maybe both.

If it's a spoiler, though, it's also the thing that helped me think it through and understand it, even if I still don't really know if I think it worked. It's interesting that she relocated it too. Cusk is someone who was born in Canada, grew up different places, lives in the UK... I think I thought she was American but she might as well be anything. The book is set in a marsh but we don't know which country, so few details are really there. Some read apocalypse narrative into the background but I wasn't sure that was there or if the people have just separated themselves from a sense of daily life. And she writes! with a lot of exclamation points! to someone named Jeffers! who is never explained.

Part of me felt it was the Barefoot Contessa who always is making everything "for Jeffrey" which might come across a bit loony if you didn't know better.

And all along she is dealing with a poor self image, or maybe just aging as a woman when your former power, if you ever had it, starts to wear thing, especially in comparison to the woman the artist brought with him when he came to visit. And her daughter is young 20s, a difficult age for mothers, I think.

I will keep mulling it over. Five-star mulling success, three-star success as a book... for now.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me access through Edelweiss. This came out May 4th, 2021.


View all my reviews

Review: While Justice Sleeps

While Justice Sleeps While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every time I teach my Reading class, I ask my students to read a book from a genre they don't usually read, and then I try to do the same, although I've done this enough I'm now turning to subgenres. I've read thrillers, but never a legal thriller!

Avery Keene is the law clerk for one of the Supreme Court justices, and when he falls into a coma, she finds herself named his legal guardian. She is thrown into international intrigue and a string of hidden documents that only she can solve.

The audiobook includes an intro by Abrams, where she talks about the publishing journey that began in 1995, where publishers felt some of the characters were too unrealistic - a president out for his own financial gain, justices of questionable character, etc.

If you don't know who Stacey Abrams is, you should. She's a major political player, and I like this somewhat more distant profile of her at the BBC. She also writes romance novels under a pen name, Selena Montgomery.

Thanks to the publisher for providing me eBook access through NetGalley, even if I ultimately went for this in audio. It's out and ready for a listen/read.

View all my reviews

Friday, May 21, 2021

Review: Broken Horses

Broken Horses Broken Horses by Brandi Carlile
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a must-listen memoir with songs between chapters and at the end. Brandi Carlile is one of my favorite singers but there is so much I didn't know, and she has experienced some incredible moments of fate or destiny or something that really make for an incredible story. I also liked the discovery of the stories behind so many of these songs and albums. The story goes all the way up through covid times.

Her connections to other musicians are life-long love stories, and people like Tanya Tucker, Elton John, and Joni Mitchell come back into her life as real people. Amazing.

Do you have a favorite song by her? I think mine is still Shadows on the Wall.

Copied from the publisher website:

Carlile recorded new stripped-down, solo renditions of more than 30 of the songs featured in the book, including her own and songs from artists who’ve inspired her, from Dolly Parton to Elton John, Leonard Cohen and more, available exclusively on the audiobook:

“I Don’t Hurt Anymore” by Hank Snow
“Coat of Many Colors” by Dolly Parton
“Ride on Out” by Brandi Carlile
“Honky Cat” by Elton John and Bernie Taupin
“Philadelphia” by Neil Young
“Happy” by Brandi Carlile
“That Year” by Brandi Carlile
“Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen
“Eye of the Needle” by Brandi Carlile
“Turpentine” by Brandi Carlile
“Wasted” by Brandi Carlile
“The Story” by Brandi Carlile
“Closer to You” by Brandi Carlile
“Caroline” by Brandi Carlile
“Josephine” by Brandi Carlile
“Sugartooth” by Brandi Carlile
“Looking Out” by Brandi Carlile
“Beginning to Feel the Years” by Brandi Carlile
“Love Songs” by Brandi Carlile
“I Will” by Brandi Carlile
“I Belong to You” by Brandi Carlile

I had a review copy of the audio from Random House Audio that I listened to through the Volumes app. The book came out April 20, 2021.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Reading Envy 220: Pronunciations with Scott

Scott returns from a coastal vacation and three recent reads. We also discuss group reads via BookTube, the appeal of series, and more.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 220: Pronunciations

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:

Cover images of books featured in this episode, listed below.
 
Njal's Saga by Anonymous
True Story by Kate Reed Perry
The Summer Book by Tove Jansson, translated by Thomas Teal
Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019 edited by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha Blaine
Every Dead Thing by John Connolly

Other mentions:

The King of Elfland's Daughter by Lord Dunsany
The Thrall's Tale by Judith Lindbergh
The Sagas of the Icelanders by Various
Sagalong on Youtube, episode 1
Tournament of Books - Yu
Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu
The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin
How to Be An Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi
Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi
Freedom is a Constant Struggle  by Angela Y. Davis
The Galaxy and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers
Children of Ash & Elm: A History of the Vikings by Neil Price
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Atrocity Archives by Charles Stross
Even as we Breathe by Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle
Always Coming Home by Ursula K. Le Guin

Related episodes:

Episode 055 - Too Late for an Autopsy with Julie Davis
Episode 087 - Going Native with Bookclub Social with Amanda and Grace
Episode 088 - Author Head Space with Sara Moore
Episode 126 - Bernice Bobs her Hair with Jon Laubinger
Episode 157
- Joint Readalong of Gone with the Wind with Book Cougars
Episode 198 - Mood Reading with Robin

Stalk us online:

Scott on A Good Story is Hard to Find (podcast)
Scott on Shelf Wear (blog and podcast)
Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and 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.


Sunday, May 16, 2021

Review: Margreete's Harbor

Margreete's Harbor Margreete's Harbor by Eleanor Morse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel unfolds slowly and not a lot happens but I took my time and enjoyed it. In Maine, Margreete almost burns her house down so her adult daughter decides to move her family in to help. Liddie, a cellist, has to abandon her string ensemble, and her husband Henry has to find a new teaching job. They have several kids who grow up somewhat through the novel, which spans from 1955-1968, and touches on the political events of the time in small ways.

The book came out April 20th, and I had a copy from St. Martin's Press through Edelweiss.

I wanted to add a few examples of the writing but this is not from final copy:

"On his way out, he said, 'You know, you don't have to do what you're doing?'
'And what do you think I'm doing?'
'Making a habit of discontent.'"

"She felt sad for him, felt he deserved someone who loved him all the way. She did her best that night, but she was watching herself, the way people who return from the dead describe seeing their bodies laid out below."

"She said that Eva probably wouldn't understand one other thing until she was older but she would say it anyway. 'Some people think that playing is all about themselves. They roar through a piece thinking, Look at me! Look how fast my fingers are going, listen to how much noise I'm making! If you're thinking like that, you're not making music. You have to make yourself small enough to disappear inside it. Then you can make music that makes other people feel something."

"Music, for him, was entertainment, relaxation. For her, as she'd told him the other day, it was beyond necessary. How do you describe that feeling to someone who can't feel it for himself? It was like explaining the smell of the ocean."

"Eva found her teacher's playing accurate and pinched and sad. Why would you be a musician if it didn't make you happy?"

"It seemed Brahms had preferred longing to marriage. The state of longing is not something often celebrated, he thought, but look at the music it created."

"It's not safe to love. There's no way to make love safe. Every time you love someone, you risk losing them. But living in safety is no way to live."


View all my reviews

Friday, May 7, 2021

Review: Northern Spy

Northern Spy Northern Spy by Flynn Berry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was confused at first because I thought this book was set during the Troubles but at some point the cell phones and technology drove me to the internet where I discovered the IRA has rebranded itself and continues to fight. (The USA still calls it the IRA; other places it's referred to as The New IRA.) The novel is sent twenty years after the Good Friday Agreement in 1998, which the internet says ended "most" of the violence. Well this is the other part. Well this is the other part. One article even links it to Brexit.

It starts with Tessa, a single mother who works for the BBC from Belfast. The police think her sister Marian is working for the IRA, which is unfathomable, and the more she knows, the more she gets pulled in.

I love a good spy novel but also feel I should say the writing is stellar, and the author captures the complexity of the lives of women and female relationships amidst a very tense plot, very impressive.

Here are a few examples, not final copy so wording may vary slightly:

"At home, I take off my dress and drop it in the hamper...Once the dress is washed, maybe it won't seem tainted by today, though I already know I'll never wear it again, like the jumper I had on that day on Elgin Street, and the necklace I took off my throat while walking away from the collapsed building, like having it on was disrespectful, frivolous."

"There's always someone, for a mother, to tell you to pull your socks up." (so many opinions from strangers and neighbors about every little child rearing thing)

"We keep talking, and something settles in me, like silt falling to the bottom of a river. I feel more calm than I have in weeks. This isn't so difficult. I'm a woman, after all, so I've had a lifetime of practice guessing what a man wants me to say, or be. Seamus wants me to be brisk and capable, and he wants me to be angry, which I am, only not in the direction he thinks. Seamus asks me questions, and as I answer them, directly and mostly honestly, I think: I'm going to destroy you."

"Damian has some scotch, and I watch him carefully note down each of his drinks in the ledger. He's planning to murder someone tomorrow, but he won't steal drinks from an honesty bar."

"On air, the students are thoughtful and wry and tough... They painted extra letters onto one mural, changing it from Join the IRA to Join the Library."


(I found this was a real thing that happened!)

I had an eARC from the publisher through NetGalley; it came out April 6th. Reese picked it for her book club so it should be everywhere soon.


View all my reviews

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Reading Envy 219: These Chickens with Carol Ann

Carol Ann and I discuss the reading adventures she discovered during quarantine, and we both bring books to talk about that we've read and liked lately, from music to paradise to lesser known presidents.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 219: These Chickens

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 listed as featured for this episode

The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner
Brood by Jackie Polzin
Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand
The Ensemble by Aja Gabel
The Unexpected President by Scott S. Greenberger

Other mentions:

Hidden Brain podcast
Adventures by the Book
Novel Network
Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan
American Hookup by Lisa Wade
New York Times review of Brood
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating
by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
What Happens in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand
Troubles in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand
An Equal Music by Vikram Seth
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Destiny of the Republic by Candice Millard
The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman
An Inventory of Losses by Judith Schalansky, translated by Jackie Smith
Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky, translated by Christine Lo

Related episodes:

Episode 103 - Duchess Potatoes with Carol Ann Ellison
Episode 164 - Character Driven with Carol Ann
Episode 187 - Sentient Snails and Spaceships with Paula

Stalk us online:

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

Friday, April 30, 2021

Books Read April 2021: 82-113

My major project for National Poetry Month is a book I haven't finished yet, so it's weird to not have posted as much about poetry as I usually do. And most of the poetry I picked up otherwise wasn't poetry I connected with well. Some years are like that! I removed the book covers from the one book I reread twice from the image so I could get a better square, but they are in the list below.

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 same list of books on page

82. The Girl from the Channel Islands by Jenny Lecoat ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
83. Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
84. Act Your Age, Eve Brown Talia Hibbert ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
85. The Weather That Kills by Patricia Spears Jones ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
86. We Trade Our Night for Someone Else's Day by Ivana Bodrožić, translated by Ellen Elias-Bursać ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
87. Exhibitionist by Molly Cross-Blanchard ⭐️⭐️⭐️
88. I Would Leave Me if I Could Halsey ⭐️⭐️⭐️
89. No Friend but the Mountains by Behrouz Boochani, translated and transcribed by Omid Tofighian ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
90. Nightwood by Djuna Barnes ⭐️⭐️⭐️
91. The Actual True Story of Ahmed and Zarga Mohamedou Ould Slahi by Larry Siems and Mohamedou Ould Slahi ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
92. God of Nothingness by Mark Wunderlich ⭐️⭐️⭐️
93. Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass by Lana Del Rey, read by Lana Del Rey ⭐️⭐️⭐️
94. The Ensemble Aja Gabel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
95. The Baddest Girl on the Planet by Heather Frese ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
96. Brood by Jackie Polzin ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
97. Mona by Pola Oloixarac, translated by Adam Morris ⭐️⭐️⭐️
98. The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
99. The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune, narrated by Daniel Henning ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
100. Understory: a life with trees by Inga Simpson, narrated by Inga Simpson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
101 An Inventory of Losses by  Judith Schalansky, translated by Jackie Smith ⭐️⭐️⭐️
102. Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
103. At Night All Blood is Black by David Diop, translated by Michelle Moschovakis ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
104. The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
105. In My Own Moccasins by Helen Knott ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
106. Safe Area Gorazde by Joe Sacco ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
107. Broken by Jenny Lawson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
108. Permafrost by Eva Baltasar, translated by Julia Sanches ⭐️⭐️⭐️
109. The Viscount who Loved Me by Julia Quinn, narrated by Rosalyn Landor ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
110. The Scapegoat by Sara Davis ⭐️⭐️⭐️
111. Nancy by Bruno Lloret, translated by Ellen Jones ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
112. If You Kept a Record of Wrongs by Andrea Bajani, translated by Elizabeth Harris ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
113. Exhalation by Ted Chiang, narrated by Edoardo Ballerini, Dominic Hoffman, Amy Landon, and Ted Chiang ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 

 Total Books Read: 32

Reread: 2

audio: 5
eBook: 18
print: 9

library: 8
personal copy: 9
review copy: 13
subscription: 2

Around the World: 14
Europe 2021: 5

Fantasy: 3
Science fiction: 2
Memoir: 5
Music: 1
Poetry: 5
Romance: 2
Translated: 8
Women in Translation: 3

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Review: If You Kept a Record of Sins

If You Kept a Record of Sins If You Kept a Record of Sins by Andrea Bajani
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lorenzo's mother dies after he hasn't seen her in many years, and he travels to Romania for her funeral. He meets his mother's former partner (business and love) and others from her life. There are memorable moments and characters like the driver, the new young lover of his mother's former partner, the coffin maker, and a funeral in the middle of a church under construction, attended by the workers. The novel is written in 2nd person, as in Lorenzo addressing his internal thoughts to his dead mother.

This is an outsider view, of Romania, of his mother. One is probably better than portrayed - Romania. There are multiple characters talking about how Romanians "don't want to work" and a lot of negative stereotypes along those lines. Ceaușescu Palace looms in the background as a reminder of recent oppression, which the characters seem to feel in their bones, while at the same time trying to separate from it. Lorenzo is also an outsider to his mother, since she left him with his Dad in Italy when he was a child, and came back less and less as she took her "weight loss egg" to the world. Except I get the sense that either her business flopped or it was never a success to begin with, and she was in Romania for different reasons. He seems to know nothing about her decline and how she was living when she died.

Another side note - I know a Romanian who had to travel to that country after her mother died and it took months to work through the bureaucracy. Lorenzo must have better connections, because in under one week he has a funeral, cleans out her home, and deals with the business.

One more side note, the title is a Biblical reference, Psalm 130:3, included in many Lenten and funeral rites as well. "If you, O LORD, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?" A priest reads this at the mother's funeral and it leads into a confrontation between the son and former partner that felt very smart.

Thank you Archipelago Books for bringing books and authors to us through your translations and publications! I had a copy of this from the publisher through Edelweiss. It came out March 3, 2021.


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Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Review: Nancy

Nancy Nancy by Bruno Lloret
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nancy by Bruno Lloret, translated by Ellen Jones, is about Nancy, her childhood, her long marriage that ends badly, returning to Chile with a cancer diagnosis, etc. The childhood part comes after her adulthood and fills in some gaps about her negligent parents. The physical book has an interesting layout with X marking punctuation sometimes, but sometimes it's more visual. I am a Two Lines Press subscriber so they also sent a letterpress print of a page of the book, pretty unexpected and cool.

I like when an author does something I haven't seen before, and even more when someone manages to translate it. The X on the page feels like found poetry, or my just poetry, also like a symbol. I have talked before on the podcast about how infrequently we see Mormon characters (perhaps more appropriately LDS characters) in books outside of "inspirational" titles but this plays a major part in at least one character's story. It showed a Chile that was more of a conglomeration of other places' remnants, a bit bleak, more current than other books I've read placed there.

One of my goals this year is to be more immediate in reading subscription books so gold star for me as I've had it only a month or less.

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Monday, April 26, 2021

Review: Safe Area Goražde: The War in Eastern Bosnia, 1992-1995

Safe Area Goražde: The War in Eastern Bosnia, 1992-1995 Safe Area Goražde: The War in Eastern Bosnia, 1992-1995 by Joe Sacco
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I can't remember who recommended this to me (sorry!) but I'm glad I was able to find this at the library, a journalist's account of the war in Bosnia, specifically Gorazde, from 1992-95, as well as the immediate aftermath. I appreciated the point of view of the Muslims left in the city when their Serbian neighbors left suddenly and then became their enemies, and the graphic treatment captures the wide ranging emotions from bewilderment to betrayal. And then trying to understand the decisions made by the UN and Nato, and the worry about being "traded" in the final resolution. The image focus allows for extras like maps, which aids in my understanding for sure. How Gorazde connects to Sarajevo, or doesn't, is really important.

This story connects directly to The Bridge on the Drina by Ivo Andric, which is on my shelf but maybe should be my follow-up read. The author also recommends some nonfiction reads in the back that look helpful in providing some broader context.

I once worked at a bakery with one Bosnian refugee and one Serbian refugee and they refused to interact...I'm starting to get it.

This is for my Europe2021 project, and of course CW for all war related topics, possibly more disturbing because they are portrayed and brains might remember images differently.

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Saturday, April 24, 2021

Review: The Galaxy, and the Ground Within

The Galaxy, and the Ground Within The Galaxy, and the Ground Within by Becky Chambers
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

At this point, the last book.in the Wayfarers series, if you know, you know. Nothing much happens, just a handful of aliens trapped for a few days on a boring planet that's mostly a galactic gas station, and the friends (and children) they made along the way.

There is this one section where the (all non-human) characters discuss humans and their weird obsession with cheese, and how it's made, and how they eat it, it is hilarious.

I'm looking forward to what Becky Chambers does next but I'll be sad to never visit her creative, found-families, literal universe again.

I had a copy of this from the publisher through Edelweiss and NetGalley (love her so much, requested it twice, whoops) - it came out in the United States on April 20, 2021.

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Thursday, April 22, 2021

Review: At Night All Blood is Black

At Night All Blood is Black At Night All Blood is Black by David Diop
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an incredibly violent book but I imagine it will be included in the Booker International shortlist (I was right,) because the language is vivid and tight, the story is not one I've read before (Senegalese soldiers fighting for France in World War I,) and it has this underlying rhythm with short chapters and repeated phrases that serve to whip it up to the frenzy of the end. But then it's like you as the reader are a part of what happens, and this is not a good feeling.
"Yes, I understood, God's truth, that on the battlefield they only wanted fleeting madness. Madmen of rage, madmen of pain, furious madmen, but temporary ones. No continuous madmen. As soon as the fighting ends, we're to file away our rage, our pain, and our fury. Pain is tolerated, we can bring our pain home on the condition that we keep it to ourselves....Before returning home, we must denude ourselves of rage and fury, we must strip ourselves of it, and if we don't we are no longer playing the game of war. Madness, after the Captain blows his whistle to retreat, is taboo."
CW for war, murder, dismemberment, rape, racism. The trench is referred to repeatedly as female anatomy, and since the author uses repetition as a tool, if something is going to bother you once, it is likely to repeat. I mean, would it kill translators to select a book about an old lady planting a garden? Reading a lot of translated lit takes you into some dark places.


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Review: Crying in H Mart: A Memoir

Crying in H Mart: A Memoir Crying in H Mart: A Memoir by Michelle Zauner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Michelle Zauner writes about losing her Mom to cancer, what it was like to grow up Korean-American, how she connects to her family through food (and discovers this while caring for her mother.)

Near the end of the book she talks about finally finding success as a musician, which she never expected, in her band called Japanese Breakfast. The cover of Psychopomp has her mother reaching a hand out.

I was expecting something a bit lighter, maybe a bit more snappy, but I also enjoy grief memoirs, so even though it was slower paced than I expected, I felt a true sense of the author by the end. I also liked hearing her stories about Eugene, Oregon, since that's not too far from where I grew up. I may have spent some time watching the food YouTube videos she mentions, and reading articles about the many H Marts in Oregon. My youngest sister took me to a Korean market in Beaverton that had Koreans upstairs and a kimchee tasting table, but I don't think it was an H Mart.

Thanks to the publisher for providing access to this title through NetGalley. It came out April 20, 2021.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Review: An Inventory of Losses

An Inventory of Losses An Inventory of Losses by Judith Schalansky
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Knowing what to say about this book will be a struggle. It is long listed for the Booker International Prize, which was confusing at first as I thought it was non-fiction. The author takes a list of places or things that are lost to us, researches it, and writes a one sentence overview followed by a fictional account that pulls the reader inside the place or time. (In the book, the sections are divided by black paper, and the preceding black page has an image also in black that hints of the content to come. The author is known for her book design, so this is one to look at in print. You may also know her, as I did, from Atlas of Remote Islands.)

I found myself drifting off, skimming. The topics were not always the most interesting, and to me the fictionalization (which might have a more proper term) was indulgent. Dree-in-Goodreads and I discussed how the style would shift - her fiction uses too many adjectives and is unnecessarily verbose, while when she is writing in a non-fiction style, it is clean and more direct. Is this a side effect of the language of German, or does this reflect a shift she intended? I was deeply invested in her preamble, where she discussed the long list of things that were lost in various ways while she wrote this book. It went downhill from there, with brief peaks of interest for the religious texts of Mani and the Palace of the Republic, both of which I was interested in from a topical standpoint, although the "story" in the Mani section was not very successful. It just took me back to the year I was obsessed with Gnosticism.

The book is an odd bird. It seems more suited to something like the Goldsmiths Prize, which is all about experimental literature. It did not carry the heft of a novel, nor was it intended to, and this puts it in strange company for the Booker International Prize.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Reading Envy 218: Reading Gaps with Kendra

Jenny and Kendra catch up on books they've read and liked recently. Kendra also shares how the Reading Women Podcast has changed in the last two years, what her Read Appalachia project is all about, and how she organizes her books (it's unusual!)

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 218: Reading Gaps

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: 

Cover images from books featured (listed after this)

 

Same Sun Here by Silas House and Neela Vaswani
Gilgamesh by Joan London
F*ckface: And Other Stories by Leah Hampton
We Trade Our Night for Someone Else's Day by Ivana Bodrozic, translated by Ellen Elias-Bursac
Even as we Breathe by Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle

Other mentions:

Read Appalachia
The Prettiest Star
by Carter Sickels
Southernmost by Silas House
"Dear America" books
The Stella Prize
Tracker by Alexis Wright (link goes to Google since Bookshop didn't have it yet)
All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld
The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld
"Lost in a (Mis)Gendered Appalachia" by Leah Hampton, in Guernica
The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanet Khan
The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw
National Gingerbread House Competition at the Omni Grove Park Inn
University of Kentucky - Fireside Industries
Crystal Wilkinson, Kentucky Poet Laureate
Randall Kenan
The International Booker Prize
The Discomfort of Evening by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, translated by Michele Hutchison
Black Bone: 25 Years of the Affrilachian Poets edited by Bianca Lynne Spriggs et al
An Inventory of Losses by Judith Schalansky, translated by Jackie Smith

Related episodes:

Episode 102 - The Reading Women Reading Envy Crossover Episode
Episode 195 - Muchness with Nadine
Episode 199 - Awkward Melancholy with Karen
Episode 212 - Subtly Fascinating with Vinny
Episode 213 - Funicular Reads with Bianca

Stalk us online:

Reading Women Podcast
Kendra on InstagramTwitter, Goodreads, and YouTube
Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and 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.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Google no longer supports email subscribers - feedback needed!

I had to remove the email subscription gadget from my blog layout today, and I remember adding it based on requests from people who preferred consuming Reading Envy content that way. My FeedBurner didn't show any email addresses currently subscribed in that way, but in case you were, this is your notice that you will need to find another solution!

There are RSS feeds, of course, and whatever feed reader you might have adopted over the years. I never got over Google Reader's demise and all my solutions didn't work out. I use Instagram to follow most people I follow, but even I have moved to email subscription of people who blog more content than they post to social media. (I also don't post all posts to social media, hmm.)

I've seen some podcasts take to newsletters. Should I explore that? It could include a monthly post roundup. Should I finally bite the bullet and move to WordPress? Moving platforms is such a pain and hassle but I would do it to keep the people who have been following all along.

Let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Review: Brood

Brood Brood by Jackie Polzin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

CW: Before the book begins, the narrator had a miscarriage, and it doesn't get mentioned right away so I don't want anyone to be surprised. (I knew from other discussion I'd seen.)

Small, internal, pondering books are my salvation in the last year.

This one reads like lyric essay or memoir, like Annie Dillard. It combines observation and real life with a few memorable characters, and like Moby Dick (facts about whales!) it is about chickens, but it also isn't.

I felt the weird sense of disconnect to humans and clinging to these chickens as something that makes sense, a weird sense of surreality in trying to make sense of what life will be now, what does living mean, a deep unknowing of the self (but wanting to.) Sometimes connecting to chickens is the one thing you have, so then what happens if they don't survive? The author uses the word brood about her chickens, her absent child, but also I think the way we use that word to mean agonizing contemplation - or as Google wants to define it, "to think deeply about something that makes one unhappy."

This won't be for everyone, but it was for me.

I had a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley; it came out March 9th.

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Monday, April 12, 2021

Review: The Ensemble

ETA: Apologies if you ever encounter what looks like a review without content in it. Goodreads seems to post content sporadically and I don't always remember to check.

The Ensemble The Ensemble by Aja Gabel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of my reading goals this year is to get through more of the books on my shelves with music as a theme. When I realized I had yet to do that and it's the 4th month of the year, I decided to start with the cheeriest cover.

Along the lines of An Equal Music or even Daisy Jones & The Six, The Ensemble is a very readable story of a string quartet that got together during graduate pursuit of music and how their relationships change over the years while still in the quartet. I loved that the author included specific works for each section, because obviously it's more enjoyable to listen to those pieces while reading. I felt some resonance with some of the ways musicians can be highly tuned in to one another and not be in a romantic relationship, but to people outside the group it has the same kind of vibe (I spent my undergraduate years in practice rooms by myself or accompanying others.)

Overall, the writing is straightforward but it leans on some overdone sentiments and it's too obvious when the author stops to try to say something poetic. But I would read her next book.


View all my reviews

Review: Nightwood

Nightwood

Nightwood by Djuna Barnes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Overwhelmingly, I read recent literature, usually the current and previous year. It’s not that I am not interested in older books, I just need more prompting. I found a challenge hosted by Simon from Stuck in a Book and Karen from Kaggy’s Bookish Ramblings where twice a year they select a year and the book bloggers who participate all read one book originally published in that year; some go crazy and read a bunch. (See their blogs for a roundup list!)

 


This week is 1936. I already had Nightwood on my Kindle, and it’s supposed to be “one of the first lesbian novels,” so I thought it might be interesting.

"Robin’s love and mine was always impossible, and loving each other, we no longer love. Yet we love each other like death."
The book originally had an intro by T.S. Eliot, who was its champion to be published. My edition also had an intro by Jeanette Winterson. Eliot focused on the language (poetry, he says) and Winterson focused on the precedent.
"The sleeper is the proprietor of an unknown land."
It’s short but doesn’t feel short because the writing is so dense and hardly straightforward. I would need to read it a few more times. The cast of characters is quirky and while there are a few women who love women in here, they are mostly offstage as one woman has run off with another and left Nora behind to wallow. The central character really seems to be this doctor who feels he should have been a woman so he sometimes wears a flannel nightgown while he waxes poetic about the people of the night. It’s a time period and place I usually like - Berlin in the time between the wars. There is also quite a bit of language and sentiment I would consider racist in 2021, including at least one use of the N- word.
"Though some go into the night as a spoon breaks easy water, others go head foremost against a new connivance; their horns make a dry crying, like the wings of the locust, late come to their shedding."
Side note - it has one of the few Jenny’s I’ve encountered in literature. I might have to make a shelf. I have a songlist in Spotify of songs with the name Jenny too.
"The places Jenny moults in are her only distinction, a Christian with a wanderer’s rump."
I'm not really sure what that says about Jenny.

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Review: The Actual True Story of Ahmed and Zarga

The Actual True Story of Ahmed and Zarga The Actual True Story of Ahmed and Zarga by Mohamedou Ould Slahi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I first saw this book was coming out sometime last year and knew I hadn't read anything for Mauritania, and jumped at the chance. The author is the son of a Mauritian camel herder, but also the author of a memoir about his time held at Guantanamo Bay without being charged, until 2016 (Guantánamo Diary: Restored Edition.)

This tale feels more like a fable or parable. Ahmed goes after a missing camel that may have been stolen or just gotten lost. Along the way the reader learns a lot about Bedouin culture - the difference family groups, hospitality practices, how Islamic beliefs are wrapped into their traditions, and the ins and outs of camels. Ahmed talks about the camels by name so I got confused a few times, confusing camels with people.

Also in a weird pattern I've found in my 2021 reading - this is the third book I've read with random cannibalism. Not central to the story.

This book has connections to another book I've read recently - although I'm a different continent I felt some striking similarities between the difficulty of life in a hot desert to the Winter Pasture: One Woman's Journey with China's Kazakh Herders book with herding families in Kazakhstan. One of the threats to both ways of life is modernization of the world around them, whether that results in fewer people to trade with or climate change. Sometimes you really need that oasis in the desert.

I had a copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss. It came out February 23, 2021.

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Thursday, April 8, 2021

Review: We Trade Our Night for Someone Else's Day

We Trade Our Night for Someone Else's Day We Trade Our Night for Someone Else's Day by Ivana Bodrožić
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the embedded goals inside my Europe 2021 reading project is to better understand the conflicts between groups in the Balkans. That requires some reading in translation from authors with different backgrounds.

Ivana Bodrožić sets this novel in Vukovar, Croatia, and it is known but never named in the novel. Vukovar was the location of some of the first massacres during the Balkan wars, and only began it's reintegration in 1998. Now Croats and Croatian Serbs (aka Serbians) live tentative and segregated lives with a lot of violent history beneath the surface.

There are multiple characters in this novel dealing with violence in the recent past. Nora is a journalist sent to write a lighter piece about a teacher's relationship with a student and murder of her husband (ha, I know I said lighter, but it's the context that makes it so) - then there is the taxi driver, the school principal and mayor desperate to maintain control, and more. It took a while to keep the stories straight but only because of how many places and ways they connect, and how much of the context I'm missing as someone who didn't live through it. (I lived during but not through.)

The translator's note in the back is incredibly useful..she explains that when the book came out in 2016, people were very angry because of how it goes below the surface of things people don't want to acknowledge or deal with. This isn't a "good people on both sides" tale, it's rather the opposite, and it's hard to grasp the why's behind it. I've spent time searching for clarification - what is the difference between Serbian and Croatian? (Even in the realm of cooking, the YouTube comments to different versions of the same recipe are often territorial.) What took place in the 1990s? What is existed before Yugoslavia? It could take a lifetime to grasp it.

One thing that's becoming clear in some of the recent books I've read is that whether or not the differences "exist," many of the countries formerly known as Yugoslavia are working hard to create differences, whether that's linguistic (alphabet choice or even some interesting changes in pronunciation that are emerging), religious, and more.

I think it's important to note the author was born in Vukovar in 1982 and her family was displaced by the war, so it is personal and her point of view is necessarily from what I imagine is a trauma perspective. At the very least I don't believe she can be objective. Not that she needs to be for a novel, and she does allow for nuance even in the Serbian characters.

Also important to note that the English translation comes from an unapologetically political and dare I say left-leaning independent publisher, which certainly centers some stories more than others. I don't expect one book to hold all points of view but I personally don't know enough about it yet to weigh in on if she "got it right."

I had a copy from the publisher through Edelweiss, and it comes out April 20th, 2021.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Reading Envy 217: Lesson Plan with Kim

Jenny sits down with Kim, another new guest, who describes herself as having the opposite reading life from her host. From history to baseball, debut novels to space, we discuss books we've read and liked recently.

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 217: Lesson Plan.

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

Book covers for featured titles.



Books discussed: 

Anthem by Deborah Wiles
If or When I Call by Will Johnson
Why We Swim by Bonnie Tsui
Winter's Orbit by Everina Maxwell
The Chicken Runs at Midnight by Tom Friend

Other mentions:

Countdown by Deborah Wiles
Revolution by Deborah Wiles
Nomadland (film)
Nomadland by Jessica Bruder
The Frozen Crown by Greta Kelly
Blueberries by Ellena Savage
Currently Reading Podcast
Lori & Julia Radio Show
The Popcast
Sarah's Bookshelves Podcast
What Should I Read Next? Podcast

Related episodes:


Stalk us online:

Kim at Goodreads
Jenny at Goodreads
Jenny on Twitter
Kim is @buckeyereaderbookclub on Instagram and @kboltz on Litsy
Jenny is @readingenvy on Instagram and 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.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Review: Act Your Age, Eve Brown

Act Your Age, Eve Brown Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Highly anticipated, after loving the first two Brown sisters, and this one did not disappoint. I will always love a story that starts with a woman fleeing to a small town and immediately finding work at a bakery, or in this case, at a Bed & Breakfast. Bonus points here for clashing with the super hot owner - it's kind of an enemies to lovers trope but with a few spins that keep it more interesting. Autism is included in multiple ways and never as a problem to be dealt with.

I like how the other two sisters show up, but I also would like single volume romance novels about the grandmother Gigi, Jacob's friend Mort, his twin sisters, etc.

Like with the previous Brown sisters books, I laughed a lot while reading this one. I'm going to say Dani is my favorite; Eve is pretty chaotic as many youngest sisters are, but she is finding her own way.

I had a copy of this from the publisher through Edelweiss, and was looking forward to it so much I put it off. It actually came out in March.

View all my reviews

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Review: The Girl from the Channel Islands

The Girl from the Channel Islands The Girl from the Channel Islands by Jenny Lecoat
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I would not have typically read this novel, as I don't read many World War II novels (and I've already read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which is a similar story during the same German occupation of British islands) but there are a few reasons this surfaced:

-I'm trying to finish reading a book from every country in Europe this year. I realize Jersey is not exactly a country but it's also not exactly a part of the UK. (The internet says it is part of the "British Islands."
-The author was actually born on Jersey and her parents lived on Jersey during the occupation, so she has more direct experience to speak of. I think this comes across in the novel, both from the research and the placeness of it.
-The four central characters are all based on real people, and so this issue of an Austrian (Jewish) woman escaping to an island that ends up occupied by Germans is a frightening and true story.
-While the very famous book club book I mentioned above is about resistance, this novel looks more at the people who collaborated/were forced to collaborate/were seen as collaborators. One woman works for the Germans because she is fluent in German and English. One woman marries a man living on the island who fled the mainland but ends up conscripted into the German army, and suddenly she's a collaborator and her family won't speak to her. And this is only the beginning of the complicated and difficult situations the islanders find themselves in, not to mention Churchill's resistance to sending them much needed food and supplies.

Jersey is a place I'll probably never get to visit, so I spent an hour last night poking around on Google maps and looking around. Apparently most tourists that go there these days are interested in the war history so they've really emphasized those locations on the island. When you see the British Islands on a map, Jersey is practically enfolded in a French bay, so it makes visual sense that the Germans would have seen it as an easy defenseless place to conquer.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. It came out February 2nd but I came across it after that somehow.

View all my reviews

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Books Read March 2021: 54-81

This month was heavily influenced by one person in Instagram who ran the #tackleyourratio challenge to read as many NetGalley books as possible. That helped me get through some of my backlog, including 11 of the books from March, and I tried but DNF'd four more. 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.)


54. Home is Not a Country by Safia Elhillo ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
55. Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better by Pema Chodron ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
56. The Disaster Tourist by Yun Ko-Eun, translated by Lizzie Buehler; narrated byNatalie Naudus ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
57. The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell et al ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
58. Elatsoe by Darcy Little Badger; narrated by Kinsale Hueston ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
59. On Fragile Waves by E. Lily Yu ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
60. Beneath the Keep by Erika Johansen ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
61. The Rain Heron by Robbie Arnott ⭐️⭐️⭐️
62. My Heart by Semezdin Mehmedinović, translated by Celia Hawkesworth ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
63. Winter's Orbit by Everina Maxwell ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
64. The Removed by Brandon Hobson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
65. The Possession by Annie Ernaux; translated by Anna Moschovakis ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
66. The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey ⭐️⭐️⭐️
67. It's Been a Pleasure, Noni Blake by Claire Christian ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
68. Nobody Ever Talks About Anything but the End by Liz Levine ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
69. Say Nothing by Patrick Radden Keefe; narrated by Matthew Blaney ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
70. Loser Takes All by Graham Greene ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
71. If or When I Call by  Will Johnson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
72. Noopiming by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
73. Blueberries by Ellena Savage ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
74. Gilgamesh by  Joan London ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
75. The Mission House by Carys Davies ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
76. Shelter by Jung Yun; narrated by Raymond Lee ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
77. In the Quick by Kate Hope Day ⭐️⭐️⭐️
78. Winter Pasture by Li Juan; translated by Jack Hargreaves ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
79. The Tao of Raven by Ernestine Hayes ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
80. A Durable Fire May Sarton ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
81. Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon; narrated by Hollie Jackson and Mason Lloyd ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

Books Read: 28

Tournament of Books - 1

TFBWL - 1

Readtheworld21 - 4

Around the World - 11
Europe 2021 - 3

Audiobook - 5
eBook - 18
Print - 5

Borrowed not from library - 0
Library - 8
Review Copy - 15
TBR - Purchased 2021 - 3
TBR - Already owned - 2
TBR - Subscriptions - 0

Apocalypse and Dystopia - 2
Fantasy - 3
Memoir - 2
Mystery - 0
Romance - 2
Science Fiction - 5
Thriller - 1

Translated - 4
Women in Translation - 3

Children’s - 1
YA - 2
Adult - 25