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 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, 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.

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#1936Club - Nightwood by Djuna Barnes


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.

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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, 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.

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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.

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