Yells 2021: Let's try this again

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Yells 2021: Let's try this again

Lug 11, 4:20pm

For the last few years, I have moved from posting to mostly lurking. RL got in the way and I found that my reading pace dropped dramatically. I wasn't going to start a thread this year, as I expected more of the same, but somewhere along the way, I hit my stride. So thanks to all you enablers who posted tantalising reviews of some superb books. I lurked, I took more book bullets than I dodged and somehow, somewhere, I found my reading mojo.

Modificato: Lug 14, 5:06pm

January Review
Leave the World Behind by Alam
In the Heat of the Night by Ball
Strangers on a Train by Highsmith
Parable of the Sower by Butler
Parable of the Talents by Butler
The Library Book by Orlean
Sourdough by Sloan
Men in the Sun and Other Palestinian Stories by Kanafani
One by One by Ware
Qualityland by Kling
Troubling Love by Ferrante
Vanity Fair by Thackeray

Favourite: Vanity Fair - such fun!

Notable mentions: I discovered Octavia Butler this month! The Parables series was good but I was blown away by Kindred (read in February). Leave the World Behind was an interesting dystopia but Moon of the Crusted Snow by Rice was much better. Sourdough was a Santathing pick and enjoyably quirky.

Disappointments: None really. It was pretty good reading month.

Modificato: Lug 14, 5:12pm

February Review
Jonny Appleseed by Whitehead
Max Havelaar by Multatuli
Butter Honey Pig Bread by Ekwuyasi
Kindred by Butler
Journey to the Alcarria by Cela
At Swim-Two-Birds by O'Brien
The Hunting Party by Foley
The Desolations of Devil's Acre by Riggs
A Spark of Light by Picoult
Moon of the Crusted Snow by Rice
A Suitable Boy by Seth
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by McCullers
My Bookstore by Rice
Bossypants by Fey
The Borrowers by Norton

Favourite: The one that has stuck with me is Kindred. I don't generally read a lot of sci fi (trying to rectify that), so I have always overlooked Butler. If fact, I only picked up one of her books because of the Monthly Read thread. I also read the Parable series and bought a few others.

Notable mentions: I started reading the Canada Reads nominees this month: Jonny Appleseed and Butter Honey Pig Bread were both fantastic. A Suitable Boy was read over 6-months and while it was a wonderful read, I was happy to be finished with it. If you love dystopian novels, give Moon of Crusted Snow a read.

Disappointments: Not really sure why I rated The Hunting Party a 1-star but do remember being really bored with it. I love a good thriller/mystery, but this one had a few too many tropes in it.

I really need to give out more 4 1/2 and 5 stars. Hmmmm

Modificato: Set 4, 6:24pm

March Review
Klara and the Sun by Ishiguro
Garlic and Sapphires by Reichl
Hench by Walschots
Unsheltered by Kingsolver
Transcendent Kingdom by Gyasi
Summerwater by Moss
A Town Called Solace by Lawson
Serpentine by Kellerman
Nomadland by Bruder
The Consequences of Fear by Winspear
From ABBA to Zoom by Mansour
Faithless in Death by Robb
Where the Crawdads Sing by Owens

Favourite: My favourite was Canada Reads title (and one I never would have picked up on my own) Hench. I really hate superhero movies and such. I got dragged to the first X-Men movie and fell asleep so you can imagine how much I was looking forward to reading this book. Then I realised that it's actually an anti-superhero novel written from the point-of-view of a henchwoman - my interest was piqued. Oh my word, what a ride this one was! I've read some amazing books this year, but this is the one that I keep thinking about (which is why I am changing my rating and giving it a rare 5-star).

Notable mentions: Klara and the Sun (wasn't too impressed at the beginning but it really grows on you), Unsheltered, A Town Called Solace (gotta plug my Canlit) and Transcendent Kingdom. I discovered Moss this month - Summerwater was a lovely book to spend an afternoon with.

Disappointments: Very underwhelmed by Where the Crawdads Sing and The Consequences of Fear (and I usually love Maisie)

Modificato: Lug 16, 12:27pm

April Review
Five Little Indians by Good
Thinking Inside the Box by Raphel
Hideous Kinky by Freud
First Person Singular by Murakami
Veronika Decides to Die by Coelho
The Pull of the Stars by Donoghue
Some Days Wernicke
The Starless Sea by Morgenstern
Annie John by Kincaid
They Shoot Horses, Don't They? by McCoy
The 42nd Parallel by dos Passos (USA Trilogy)
1919 by dos Passos (USA Trilogy)
In a Sunburned Country by Bryson

Favourite read: I just bumped up my rating on Five Little Indians. Excellent fictional book about residential schools and rather timely in light of the horrors recently discovered here in Canada.

Notable mentions: My reading seems to be greatly influenced by world events as I also read The Pull of the Stars. This one takes place in the maternity ward during the influenza outbreak. I love how Donoghue's books are all quite different from each other. I also started the USA Trilogy and really enjoyed the different ways dos Passos chose to tell his story.

Disappointments: Some Days was a free children's book (can't resist free) and I found it rather strange. But I'm obviously not the target market, so maybe kids would like this better. I think I would have liked Hideous Kinky if I didn't hate the mother so much. Beautiful descriptions of Morocco, but I couldn't get past how cavalier mom was about taking care of her kids.

Modificato: Lug 16, 12:56pm

May Review
The Broken Girls by St James
White Fragility by DiAngelo
American Rust by Meyer
A Severed Head by Murdoch
The Big Money by dos Passos (USA trilogy)
Heartbreak Tango by Puig
Whereabouts by Lahiri
The Saga of Gosta Berling by Lagerlof
The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick by Handke
Blood Meridian by McCarthy
There There by Orange
How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Jones
Unsettled Ground by Fuller
No One is Talking About This by Lockwood
Thousand Cranes by Kawabata
Play It As It Lays by Didion

Favourite read: I have been working my way through the Women's Prize short list and gotta say, the list this year is wonderful. I honestly don't care who wins, but No One is Talking About This was my favourite. At first I was rather irritated by the writing structure; I have a love/hate relationship with social media so writing disguised as tweets seemed weird. But I soon realised that this structure is absolutely essential to the story and it wouldn't have had the same impact if written in a more traditional way. By the end, I was blown away by everything.

Notable mentions: Unsettled Ground & How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House are also really good shortlisted books. I've also been trying to read more books by Indigenous authors and discovered There There - highly recommended!

Disappointments: No real disappointments this month - yay!

Modificato: Lug 16, 12:41pm

June Review
At Night All Blood is Black by Diop
Platero and I by Jimenez
The History of Tom Jones by Fielding
England Made Me by Greene
Whatever by Houellebecq
Intimacy by Kureishi
Cakes and Ale by Maugham
Timbit Nation by Stackhouse
Rilla of Ingleside by Montgomery
Rainbow Valley by Montgomery
The Answer is... Reflections on My Life by Trebek
Interior Chinatown by Yu

Favourite read: At Night All Blood is Black by Diop was fantastic. I love the way he builds up his sentences by repeating things while slowly adding new thoughts. Horrific storyline with beautiful prose.

Notable mentions: Who knew I liked Fielding? I loved reading about the adventures of poor Tom Jones. Also enjoyed Interior Chinatown. A cleverly written tongue-in-cheek look at stereotypes.

Disappointments: Timbit Nation - I hate dissing Canadian books but this travel across Canada was boring and the author was annoying.

Lug 11, 5:00pm

At some point through the year, I also listened to the audiobook versions of all the Harry Potter books, the Hunger Games trilogy and I am just finishing up the Games of Thrones series. I find listening to audiobooks, especially listening to ones that I have read already, is a great way to pass the time while I am cleaning, working or whatever. I'm finding that I need background noise in my old age and stuff that doesn't require a great deal of concentration fits the bill.

Modificato: Ago 12, 12:32pm

July Review
Consent by Lyon
Piranesi by Clarke
Men Explain Things to Me by Solnit
Migrations by McConaghy
The Glass Hotel by Mandel
The Vanishing Half by Bennett
This is How You Lose the Time War by Gladstone
At the Water's Edge by Gruen
Swann’s Way by Proust
Dictionary of Lost Words by Williams
An Island by Jennings

Favourite read: I think Piranesi and This is How You Lose the Time War are tied for faves this month. Both were just so different from the other stuff I read and I loved spending afternoons with them. Piranesi wins for inventiveness and This is How You Lose the Time War wins for world-building.

Notable mentions: I didn't expect to like The Vanishing Half as much as I did. There seemed to be something familiar about it when I started so I was expecting a rehash of the same sort of story told time and time again. I was pleasantly surprised in the end. I finished An Island just in the nick of time and so it ekes in here.

Disappointments: At the Water's Edge by Gruen I suppose. I loved Water for Elephants, but I've been disappointed by her stuff since.

Lug 12, 12:55pm

That's a great list of good books you've finished, Danielle! Very well done.

Lug 14, 7:57am

Wow! I'm so glad you hung out a shingle on CR. I think we are going to have some overlap in reading tastes, and I look forward to following along.

>2 Yells: I read Kindred years ago, and liked it, although not as much as Beloved. Then I too read the Parable books this year and liked them even more. Do you have plans to read any other books by Octavia Butler?

>3 Yells: Wasn't Moon of the Crusted Snow good? The imagery and mood has stayed with me in a way that few books do these days.

I read A Suitable Boy a number of years ago and remember enjoying it, but got bogged down at some point and tagged it "bookmark stuck."

Have you ever seen the animated film The Secret Life of Arrietty directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi? It was based on The Borrowers, and I thought it was fantastic.

>4 Yells: Klara and the Sun is on my wish list, and I look forward to reading it more every time I see a review of it.

I need to get back to Maisie. I left off at In this Grave Hour.

>5 Yells: I haven't read any of Murakami's short stories, but have enjoyed several of his novels. Are you a fan?

What did you think of The Pull of the Stars? I may read it next after Wolf Hall.

I've read a few of Bryson's travel books. A Walk in the Woods remains my favorite, but In a Sunburned Country is second.

>7 Yells: Ah, Montgomery... I miss the days when my daughter and I used to listen to these on audiobook as we commuted to and from her school. We visited PEI at the height of her passion for Anne. Although I had read most of Montgomery's books as a child, it was sharing them with my daughter that I treasure most. Megan Follows, yay or nay?

So many good books here. What will you read next?

Lug 14, 5:18pm

>10 kidzdoc: I can only thank (curse?) everyone around this group for offering up such amazing suggestions. If you see any familiar titles, the idea probably came from your thread.

Lug 14, 5:43pm

>11 labfs39: After reading the Parable series, I immediately bought more of her stuff. Her book covers always made me think that she was a hard core sci-fi author so I never really gave them any thought. I actually discovered her because of the Monthly Read thread. I guess the moral of the story is to never judge a book by its cover :)

I love dystopian fiction and I've been trying to read more indigenous authors so Moon of the Crusted Snow really fit the bill.

I have not seen The Secret Life of Arrietty but will have to check it out. I'm realising that there are a lot of kids/YA books that I missed out on in my youth so I try to slip a few in here and there, hence the reread of the Anne stories. I can't picture anyone but Megan Follows as Anne! I remember my sister painstakingly recording the series on VHS back in the day. She spent a lot of time trying to avoid commercials and time everything just so. One day we were watching the big kiss scene and I tried to pause it but instead hit record. I'm not sure I've ever been forgiven for that.

I really seem to like odd literature (and this list is full of oddities). Ballard, Houellebecq, Kotzwinkle and definitely Murakami. Murakami's short fiction is just as good as his tomes IMO.

I did enjoy The Pull of the Stars. I think the only one of Donoghue's that I didn't care for was The Wonder. I haven't read Akin yet so might give that a go soon.

Loves me some Katz! I've read almost all Bryson's travel stuff (plus some of his others) and find him quite enjoyable. I love listening to him narrate his own audiobooks, especially when he is reading about something that obviously irritated him. I think there is a good reason why he generally travels alone.

Lug 14, 5:45pm

Next I'm working on Swann's Way by Proust and Dictionary of Lost Words by Williams.

Lug 15, 7:22am

>13 Yells: I think there is a good reason why he generally travels alone. Lol. True! I heard Bryson speak years ago, and he was (not unexpectedly) very funny. I hadn't thought of listening to him on audiobook, perhaps because I haven't listened to any since I stopped listening with my daughter in the car, but I can imagine how good he would be.

Lug 30, 3:27am

On my word - you certainly got back into a reading stride! Wow - I can't imagine myself ever hitting that many books a month. Excellent effort!

Modificato: Ago 1, 12:00pm

>16 AlisonY: Covid shutdowns and a total lack of social life have done wonders for my reading pace! Things are opening up again in Canada so we’ll see what happens to this pace in late summer.

Modificato: Set 22, 12:14pm

Booker Prize longlist nominees

The longlist is revealed! Always exciting to see what makes the cut. I was rather surprised to see that I have already read three from the list - that never happens. And I just finished a fourth.

An Island by Jennings.

This short little book really packs a lot in. Samuel is the lone caretaker of a lighthouse on a small island. He's been there for many years and his only contact with the outside world is a supply delivery every two weeks. One day his quiet little world is rocked when a half-dead body is washed up on his beach. The novel takes place over four days, but woven in are glimpses of Samuel's past. As he nurses the interloper back to life, we learn about the circumstances that led Samuel to this lonely little island.

One thing that I found really interesting is the look at all the different forms violence can take. Samuel grows up poor in a country led by a violent dictator and so violence becomes a normal part of his upbringing. Even later on when he finally settles on the island, he is still fighting the demons in his head. I read an interview with the author where she talks about growing up in South Africa and how that affects her writing.

Klara and the Sun by Ishiguro.

This one had a slow start, but once it got going, I found it to be a pretty amazing book. Klara is a cutting-edge robot designed to be a companion for humans. She comes across as very human-like, but Ishiguro is careful to also give her robotic flaws so we never stop seeing her as AI. She is bought and becomes the companion of a young girl named Josie who is suffering from some sort of illness. Since Klara is solar-powered, she is programmed to know that sun=life. Unfortunately, she has no ability to know what life actually is, or how her life is different from a human life, but she does know that the sun will help Josie, so she spends her time trying to figure out where the sun goes. I loved Never Let Go and found this one asked a lot of the same questions - what makes a human a human?

A Town Called Solace by Lawson.

I was really excited to see that Lawson had a new book coming out (her first in nearly a decade) and even more excited to see it on this list. Go Canlit! It's about a family living in Northern Ontario in the 70s. The older daughter Rose has run away and now the family is trying to pick up the pieces while they wait for news. Her sister Clara seems to be the most affected by Rose's disappearance as she spends day sitting vigil in the window hoping for a sign. Her one distraction is her promise to the elderly neighbour to watch her cat while Mrs Orchard is in the hospital. The story is told through three different voices; Clara, Mrs Orchard and Liam Kane, a strange man who has moved into Mrs Orchard's home. It's a lovely novel about family and about moving on. I will say that I didn't find it as strong as her other works including Crow Lake.

No One is Talking About This by Lockwood.

I read this months ago and I am still thinking about it. Absolutely blown away by this book. At first it really irritated me. I don't have a lot to do with social media and have never used Twitter, so when I realised that the novel was written as if each thought was a tweet, I almost stopped right away. But, the Pearl Rule prevailed (and I paid money for this one so I wasn't going to let it go without a fight), and I am SO glad I did. I won't say a lot about the story, as that would give too much away, but it had to be written in the style it was. Anything else wouldn't have had the same power behind it. It's also nominated for the Women's Prize so I really hope that it takes at least one.

Up next is Light Perpetual by Spufford as I own a copy of that. Hopefully there are some other gems waiting for me to discover.

Ago 1, 5:19pm

Welcome, and nice to see your thread. I like your taste in books - of the ones I've read we seem to agree on the ratings! I enjoyed Pull of the Stars and didn't care much for At the Water's Edge. Also underwhelmed by Where the Crawdads Sing. I envy how much you read in a month! I manage 4 if I'm lucky. I will definitely pay attention to where you give 5 stars. I would like to read more Canadian authors, since my grandfather came from Canada. At the moment, I'm on a Daniel Boone kick since my mother's ancestors accompanied him and his sons to Kentucky and Missouri.

Ago 1, 8:02pm

>19 WelshBookworm: Pull up a chair and help yourself to some tea. Ironically enough, my grandfather was from Wales so we are practically family :)

To be honest, I've surprised myself with the amount of reading I've gotten done this year. Covid lockdowns, working from home and having no kids definitely helps.

I usually follow two of the bigger Canadian literary awards, the Giller Prize and the Governors General Award.
It looks like the Giller longlist will be announced in early September. so I'll be all over that soon. One thing I was going to post this week is a summary of the books I read in March for the Canada Reads debate. Butter Honey Pig Bread and Hench were my favourites this year.

It's always nice to read when you have a personal connection to a topic, isn't it? Hope you are enjoying your American trek!

Ago 1, 8:37pm

I'm actually just south of you in Minnesota. My ancestors are 10 generations removed from Wales! But yes, indeed, the global Welsh community is like a big family. I just got back from a weeklong Welsh Heritage course in Scranton PA where I taught the folk dancing class. I used to have a dance group here in Minnesota (until we all got too old - ha ha) but I still teach Welsh language students. That's been going since 1994! Where are you in Canada?

Ago 2, 6:28pm

>18 Yells: The Ishiguro was already on my list, but you've piqued my interest in No One is Talking about This. Like Laurel says, if you've raved about a book, I'll probably enjoy it too.

Ago 3, 9:58am

Wow, you already have a great head start on the Booker Prize longlist, Danielle! I'm glad that you enjoyed those four books.

That reminds me: I haven't set up threads for the longlisted books in the Booker Prize group yet. I'll do so today, or tomorrow at the latest.

Ago 3, 12:51pm

>21 WelshBookworm: I'm in Ontario, about an hour southwest of Toronto, so oddly enough, I'm south of you! I'm more in line with the north part of Iowa I think. I've travelled in Illinois and Wisconsin, but haven't been it far enough west to explore Minnesota yet. We were thinking of a road trip to Winnipeg (Human Rights Museum) in the distant future and thought we would probably take the long way there through Chicago (Giordanos and Powells!) and then up through Wisconsin and Minnesota. I might see your great state one day.

I'm rather ashamed to say that despite coming from Welsh and Northern Irish stock, I haven't been to either country (although I've made it to England and Scotland) nor do I know much about either side. But, since my father was born in Belfast and has never made it make there, I guess I come by it honestly :)

Ago 3, 12:56pm

>22 labfs39: Ah! The pressure! Just kidding :) I have a weird love/hate relationship with social media and this book hit on all the issues I have with some people's obsession over it. The first part made me laugh/cringe while the second part hit me like a sledgehammer. I'd love to hear other people's opinions about it.

Ago 3, 1:02pm

>23 kidzdoc: Usually when a longlist is posted, I'm lucky if I've read one. I should buy a lottery ticket...

I'll check out the Booker Thread at some point this week and post some comments there. Thanks for organising it all!

Ago 3, 4:24pm

>24 Yells: Yes, you would be south of me then! That is the area my family comes from: The Bay of Quinte is where the Bradshaws settled, and many are still in the Belleville / Kingston area.

Modificato: Set 8, 12:44pm

August Review
The Night Watchman by Erdrich
Light Perpetual by Spufford
The Promise by Galgut
The Guest List by Foley
The Other Mrs by Kubica
Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Collins
The Sweetness of Water by Harris
Antic Hay by Huxley
The Library of Lost and Found by Patrick
Bloodless by Preston
Second Place by Cusk

Favourite read: I continued my Booker journey and really enjoyed The Promise and The Sweetness of Water.

Notable mentions: The Night Watchman

Disappointments: I read a few disappointing mysteries but the one I really didn't enjoy was Light Perpetual.

Modificato: Set 22, 12:14pm

Light Perpetual by Spufford

Booker Prize longlist nominee

I finished this one a few days ago and decided to hold off reviewing it to let my thoughts marinate a bit. I think it's safe to say that I was disappointed for a few different reasons. Spufford got the idea for the story from a plaque commemorating an incident that happened in 1944 when a bomb was dropped on a London area Woolworth store and 168 people were killed. He wondered what would happen to those lost lives if the bomb never happened and this book was a result. It starts off strongly - I absolutely loved the first section where he intersperses the trajectory of the bomb with the shoppers blissfully going about their business. He writes in such minute detail and it really sets the scene. I was hooked and couldn't wait to continue.

Spufford decided to choose a group of kids (entirely fictitious) and he re-imagined their lives with no bombing. The rest of the novel is split into different voices and we get a peek into each life every 15 years or so as they age. This sounded like a cool premise for a novel so I was rather excited to see where he went with it. As I read on, the problems started.

First of all, the whole reason for the book is to write an alternative ending to the bombing, but there was nothing in their lives that even remotely links to that bombing. It's a collection of stories about various people who grow up in the shadow of WWII. If he skipped the part about the bomb, it would have been the same story. Heck, it could have been a story about five kids who went to elementary school together and it would have been the same story. I actually stopped reading at one point and went off to look up reviews just to see if I had missed some major detail. Oddly enough, I found that most professional reviews gave the novel glowing praise while most individual reviews brought up the same issues I had with it.

Without that focal point, the novel is just a look at the various lives of five children. If he wrote about five children surviving the bomb and how it affected them throughout their lives, it would have made a lot more sense. As it was, my irritation with the lack of connection overshadowed everything else and I found most of the novel to be a slog.

Now maybe someone else can read this one and tell me what I missed!

Ago 10, 2:47pm

>29 Yells: Hm, I was looking forward to this one. I'd still read it though.

Your notes make me wonder if this was not the whole point - showing that without the bomb, there would not have been anything interesting really.

Modificato: Ago 10, 3:16pm

>30 AnnieMod: Never thought about it from that angle. That could work…. Maybe that is what I was missing.

I think I was expecting the butterfly effect. Here are all the things that will now happen that shouldn’t or all the things that will never happen kind of thing. It would have been a completely different book of course, but the connection to the bombing would have made sense. If nothing changes, then why read the book? I dunno. This one has me a little perplexed (not hard).

Ago 10, 3:25pm

>31 Yells: Well, you may have answered your own question - noone really tells the stories where nothing happens - the books tell about the things that do happen and every time when someone pulls off a story about characters that could have died, they end up doing interesting things - because people like the buterflies. Life does not work that way though and just because you get killed by a bomb does not mean that you would have become the best novelist in the world had you lived (or something) or that your life would have been in anyway interesting. The banality of war and life and all that.

As I said - I am thinking solely based on what I had read about the book so far and your notes :) My library should be getting this one to me in a few weeks so we will see if I think the same after I read it.

Ago 10, 3:38pm

>29 Yells: I'll give this one a pass.

Modificato: Ago 10, 5:00pm

>32 AnnieMod: True enough! I am curious to see what you make of it. Darryl started threads for each title over on the Booker Prize thread so hopefully others chime in as well.

>33 labfs39: Oh dear! Don't let me sway you. Most of the professional reviewers raved about it so what do I know. I really do feel like I am missing something with this book and if the author's aim is what Annie pointed out above, then I was really overthinking things.

Ago 11, 8:10am

>34 Yells: there was nothing in their lives that even remotely links to that bombing

I think this would annoy me as well. Why write about something as dramatic as a bombing and then not use that as a plot point moving forward? Doesn't make sense.

Without that focal point, the novel is just a look at the various lives of five children

I am interested in reading about how people/children deal with trauma (the reason I was interested in the book), less so in family dramas about ordinary people leading ordinary lives. I get enough of that by looking out my window. In part I read to learn: about other cultures and time periods, or philosophical and moral questions about life. While the premise of the book seems to fit the bill, the execution does not.

As an aside, did you see the Up series of documentary films? It's a longitudinal study that follows the lives of 14 British children every seven years for over fifty years. I watched the first few, and they were fascinating. The structure of Light Perpetual reminds me of this.

Modificato: Set 22, 12:13pm

The Promise by Galgut

Booker Prize longlist nominee

Another booker nominee and one that I really enjoyed. This one is set in South Africa during apartheid and it focuses on a white family living on a farm in Pretoria. At the funeral of her mother, Amor overhears her father promise their maid Salome the deed to the property where she lives, despite current laws that prohibit this. The promise then sets the backbone for the rest of novel.

It's a fascinating look at not only apartheid and class distinctions and also a family in decline as they navigate through the years. I haven't read anything else by Galgut but will definitely seek out some of his other stuff.

Ago 12, 12:31pm

>35 labfs39: I will have to check out the Up series - thanks for the heads up!

Ago 13, 3:53pm

>36 Yells: Great to hear this is another solid book from Galgut. I've read 3 others by him - one was a miss but two of them I really enjoyed. His writing is quite dark and moody but I like it.

Ago 14, 12:10pm

>37 Yells: I love the Up series! The kids were just a year younger than I am, so fascinating to see how they've navigated life. Ordinary, yet extraordinary at the same time.

Modificato: Ago 14, 1:19pm

The Guest List by Foley

I struggled with rating this one. I originally gave it a higher rating because she writes well enough, but it's just too much like The Hunting Party with all the usual tropes - annoyingly moody rich people plus wanna-be-rich friends stuck in a remote area for (insert event). Mix in a little 'secrets from the past that won't stay buried' and you get a Foley novel. An entertaining way to spend an afternoon, but interchangeable with a hundred other thrillers on the market today.

I am a third of the way through another Booker nominee, The Sweetness of Water and it's fantastic so far.

Ago 15, 11:11am

I'm glad that you enjoyed The Promise, Danielle. It's one of the Booker Prize longlisted novels that I'm most eager to read, since I have enjoyed several of Damon Galgut's earlier books. I'll try to get to it this month, or in early September at the latest.

Modificato: Ago 26, 12:03pm

The Other Mrs

In an effort to find something that my scattered brain can focus on this week, I decided to give this audiobook a try. Never read this author before, but Netflix picked it up so I figured it would have some merit. Well, I was wrong. Awful writing (when it's being read, you really notice when words or phrases are used over and over again), an unbelievable storyline and really stupid, annoying characters. Oh, and 'twists' that you seeing coming a mile away.

Obviously I am not the target market for this book. I really need to accept that I don't like modern thrillers anymore. Why do I keep doing this to myself? Argh....

Ago 17, 6:48pm

>41 kidzdoc: Now that was a book I did enjoy :) Galgut wasn't on my radar before but he certainly is now. Glad to know that his other stuff is good too.

Modificato: Ago 26, 12:05pm

Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

A reread (or I guess, a re-listen). A few things now make sense, but I can't say I totally understand the reason behind the Hunger Games.

Modificato: Set 22, 12:13pm

The Sweetness of Water

Booker Prize longlist nominee

I can't believe this is a first novel! Harris is definitely an author to watch. This is a wonderful novel of a small town struggling in the aftermath of end of the Civil War. We see things from several different angles: Prentiss and Landry are freed slaves who aren't sure what to do with their newfound freedom. George and Isabel, a married couple who have drifted apart over the years and are trying to find themselves and each other again. Caleb and August, lifelong friends with a big secret who are struggling with the changing landscape of their small town. And of course, various towns people confronted with their deep seated racist views. I think the ending was a little too pat, but other than that, I really liked this one.

Modificato: Ago 26, 12:20pm

Antic Hay

A strange novel about a group of friends navigating London after WWI. It's a rather silly novel without an actual plot. It did make me laugh, especially the pneumatic cushion.

Modificato: Set 8, 12:27pm

The Library of Lost and Found

A fluffy book about a woman who finds herself after spending years taking care of others. It was a little sacchariney at times, but overall a fun book to pick away at.

Ago 28, 8:31pm

Quite a varied selection lately!

Ago 31, 8:13am

Nice review of The Sweetness of Water; I'll definitely read it next month.

Ago 31, 8:30am

>48 labfs39: My mind is all over the place these and my reading choices definitely show that!

Ago 31, 8:31am

>49 kidzdoc: I think you’ll like this one. I was really impressed with the story.

Modificato: Ieri, 10:51am

September Review
The Power of Habit by Duhigg
The Evening and the Morning by Follett
The Sun is a Compass by Van Hemert
Pillars of the Earth by Follet
The China Room by Sahota
Golden in Death by Robb
The Water Dancer by Coates
The Unknown Soldier by Linna
Swimming Back to Trout River by Feng
Manhattan Transfer by dos Possos
We, Jane by Wall
Promise at Dawn by Gary
Notes From the Underground by Dostoevsky
American Dirt by Cummins
Old Bones by Preston

Modificato: Set 8, 12:31pm

The Power of Habit by Duhigg

Reminded me of Freakonomics. I'm not sure this will help me break some bad habits, but at least I now have a list of reasons why I can't stop :)

Modificato: Set 8, 12:33pm

The Evening and the Morning by Follett

I read Pillars of the Earth years ago and loved it. I never continued on with the series so I figured this would be a good series of audiobooks to listen to next.

Modificato: Set 22, 12:02pm

The Sun is a Compass by Van Hemert

Caroline, an ornithologist, and her husband embark on a 4,000 journey by foot & boat through the arctic. It's a lovely book about perseverance and hope.

Modificato: Set 22, 12:03pm

Pillars of the Earth by Follet

A reread while I continue my adventures into Follet's medieval England.

Modificato: Set 22, 12:13pm

The China Room by Sahota

Booker Prize longlist nominee

A beautiful yet rather creepy read set in rural Punjab in the 1920's and 1999. Part of the story looks at three young women who are married to three brothers but kept in seclusion so they never see who they actually married. Their only contact with their husbands are nightly visits in the dark China Room. The other half of the story is told through a descendant who travels back home and takes up temporary residence at the abandoned farm while he tries to get his life back together. As he slowly learns about his grandmother's life on the farm, he start to come to terms with his own life.

Modificato: Set 22, 12:16pm

Golden in Death by Robb

Guilty pleasure. Considering how many are in the series, I find that they don't really get stale.

Set 22, 12:18pm

The Water Dancer by Coates

An odd book about slavery. Beautifully written and very imaginative, but in the end I was a little disappointed. I normally don't mind magical realism but I didn't like how she used it here. I liked Whitehead's reimagining better in The Underground Railroad

Set 22, 12:20pm

The Unknown Soldier by Linna

A very realistic novel about the horrors of WWII as seen through the eyes of a troupe of Finnish machine gunners.

Modificato: Set 22, 12:31pm

Swimming Back to Trout River by Feng

Giller Prize longlist nominee

Yay! It's Giller Prize time again. For those not in the know, the Giller Prize is one of the highest literary honours in Canada. This novel looks at a family struggling in the aftermath of China's Cultural Revolution. Mom and dad both end up in the US but promise their young daughter that they will be reunited by her 12th birthday. She enjoys living in her rural Chinese village with her grandparents and doesn't really want to move. This is a debut novel for Feng and I really liked it.

Modificato: Set 22, 12:31pm

Manhattan Transfer by dos Possos

I should have read this one first - to me it seemed like the rough draft for his USA trilogy.

Modificato: Set 25, 2:03pm

We, Jane by Wall

Giller Prize longlist nominee

I wasn't really sure about this one when I started reading but once it got going, I loved it. Marthe is living in Montreal and coasting through life without much of a plan. One day she meets a fellow ex pat Newfoundlander and they strike up an unlikely friendship. 'Jane' (we never learn her real name) tells her a story about a small group of women, other 'Janes' who perform abortions in a tiny NFLD communities and soon Marthe finds herself drawn there. It's a story about the intricacies of friendship and the importance of belonging.

Set 22, 2:13pm

>61 Yells: I was curious as to why Swimming Back to Trout River was set in the US not Canada, so I read a little about the author. She was born in Shanghai, lived in San Francisco, earned her BA in Earth & Planetary Sciences (!) at Harvard, then MA and PhD in East Asian Languages & Culture. She is currently a professor at the University of Toronto. She's written a scholarly work and articles, but this is her first novel. Interesting.

Modificato: Set 25, 3:08pm

>60 Yells: That is a great book. There are several movie versions, the most recent of which (the only one I've seen) is supposedly the most faithful to the book itself. My wife and I streamed it a few months back and found it to be very faithful to the novel.

After publishing The Unknown Soldier, Väinö Linna, went back several generations in the main character, Kaskela's, family and wrote an epic trilogy, Under the North Star, that starts with with Kaskela's grandfather forging a farm out of the wilderness and takes the reader through almost a century of Finnish history, including their horrific civil war. I was told by a bookseller in Helsinki that this trilogy is considered by Finns to offer a realistic picture of Finnish history and national character. It's now hard to find in English translation, as the only publishers who offered the books in English have gone out of business (I'm pretty sure). Anyway, worth seeking out if you enjoyed The Unknown Soldier.

Set 25, 2:14pm

>64 labfs39: I find it really sad that a lot of books by Canadian authors aren't set here. There seems to be a lingering assumption in the publishing world that US settings sell better. I'm not sure I buy that any more but it prevails. In this case, Feng lived all over so it makes sense that she set her story in familiar places.

>65 rocketjk: I will admit, I read the book without knowing anything about Linna so I appreciate your comments. I will look for that movie as well. This might start me down a rabbit hole!

Set 25, 2:38pm

>64 labfs39: I was curious as to why Swimming Back to Trout River was set in the US not Canada

Yes, I was wondering about that too. Thanks for finding the explanation. The setting certainly makes me less interested in reading it.

Set 25, 5:29pm

>66 Yells: I find it really sad that a lot of books by Canadian authors aren't set here. Me too. I am sometimes surprised to learn that an author is Canadian because their books are set in the US. It's not as though authors have to write about their native land, but I do think it adds to my enjoyment when I learn about other places.

I almost purchased a Joseph Boyden book today, The Orenda, but I wasn't sure I was up for a potentially gruesome end. I read and enjoyed his Three Day Road. Now I see you gave Orenda four stars, and I wish that I had picked it up for later consumption.

I don't see any of Jacques Poulin's books in your catalog. Have you read any of his works? He's one of my favorite Canadian authors. I loved, loved, loved Translation is a Love Affair, and Mister Blue was a close second.