Monday, April 15, 2024

Books I read in March

 Well, I only finished two books in March. After I finished those two books, I began reading Lonesome Dove. It's a tome of a book and I wasn't able to finish it in March.

A Rule Against Murders by Louise Penny. It is another in the Three Pines Series (there are 19 books, so this will take me a while).   It surprised me that the story didn't take place in Three Pines, but the characters were still involved in the story. The series continues to surprise me with how good the books are!

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien. Another Historical Fiction book that I am always interested in reading. This book is about saving the Paris Library as the Nazis overtook Paris. It was quite good and made for a good discussion in my book group.

What I read in February


This will be a fairly short post since I need to catch up! I had a lot of good reading in February!

The Women by Kristen Hannah was, by far, my favorite book of February. It is a wonderful story of the nurses who served in the Vietnam War. There were tears off and on as I read the book. I thought that it was very well written and very hard to put down! Excellent book!

The Boy by Tammi Hoag was a good book! It is a mystery about a child being murdered at home and his mother is not harmed. Who would kill a young boy? And why is his twelve-year-old babysitter missing? The story takes place in a small town in Louisiana and really kept me involved in the story. Another good read!

The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny is another of the Three Pine Series by this author. This one involved someone dying of fright. Or did she? This is another good mystery. I love this series!

Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus was my spiritual reading for February. I found it to be a very interesting book. It has a lot of Hebrew interpretations of what Jesus said, which don't quite line up with the English translations. I really liked it!

Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan is a small, but quite meaningful book. It takes place in 1985 in Ireland (as all her books do). I became aware of this book when I read that Cillian Murphy is starring in a movie of the book! He will be perfect for the role. I found this to be a quite meaningful book, also. I have read several books by this author and she does not disappoint!

The last two books are by Edna O'Brien.  I started reading Little Red Chairs and did not finish it. I really didn't like it. However, since I also had the book In the Forest, I went ahead and started reading it. I did finish the book, but it's hard to describe how disturbing I thought it was. I don't think that I will be reading any other of her books.

Saturday, February 10, 2024

Good reads in January


January was a good month for reading at my place! Four good books were read and enjoyed! I can envision two of them in my end-of-the-year countdown!

1) the storyteller by Jodi Picoult. This was the second time that I had read this. I chose it because I bought this book for one of my granddaughters for Christmas and we decided to read it at the same time! 

It's a good story. A young girl, Sage, worked at a bakery during the night shift so that she would be alone and not have to interact with customers. She was grieving the loss of her mother and attended a grief support group where she met an elderly gentleman, Josef Weber. Josef began coming to the bakery in the mornings as Sage was getting off work and they struck up a friendship.  One day Josef decided to share a secret about himself that he had not ever shared with anyone else that was about his younger self. The secret left Sage in quite a dilemma, morally and legally. 

The story is told by several different people and it is quite engaging. Good book!

2) As Close To Us As Breathing by Elizabeth Poliner. I will start by saying there were so many characters in this story that I ended up writing them all down because this is the book my book group is reading for February and I needed help keeping them all straight! That being said, this is a good book.

The story takes place in 1948 at a beach house where the Connecticut shoreline was called "Bagel Beach" (because a summer Jewish community came there each year). The story starts off right away with the focus of the book:

"The summer of 1948 my brother Davy was killed in an accident with a man who would have given his own life rather than have it happen."

And so begins the saga of the Leibrilsky family. The story includes the brothers and sisters-in-law of the family, along with the children of all the families. It is the story of that summer in 1948. It is a very interesting story of family and loss and grief.

3) Tom Lake by Ann Patchett. I usually like this author's books, and this is by far my favorite of hers. Many have not cared for the slow pace of the book, but I found it a bit reminiscent of one of my favorite books Gilead (by Marilyn Robinson) in that there is not really a plot per se but instead a slow, but interesting piece of someones' life being shared in story form. 

It is a rather profound book as it tells the story of three daughters learning more about their mother's long-ago relationship with a rather famous actor that occurred one summer at "Tom Lake", a theater company in Michigan. It also was where their mother met their father. Over the time of telling the story, the mother and all three of the daughters slowly examine relationships of their own.

This book will definitely be a contender for my best book of the year!  And it's only January!

4) Weyward by Emilia Hart. Another contender for the top ten of the year! This novel is about 3 generations (not consecutive) of five centuries of Weyward women. Kate's story is in 2019. Altha's story is in 1619, and Violet's story is in 1942.

Kate lived in London in 2019. She had recently escaped from an abusive marriage and went to an old. cottage that she had inherited.  Her great-aunt Violet left the cottage to her when she had recently passed away. Kate barely remembers the one time she had met her when she was younger. Violet had lived in the cottage after her mother's death. Violet had discovered that her mother's last name was Weyward. In 1619, Altha was awaiting trial for murder/witchcraft. She had learned their "magic" from her mother which was based on plants and healing.

It is a story of resilience that had passed through generations. It is a great read!

Monday, January 8, 2024

End of 2023 Countdown of Favorite Books Read

 It's that time again! I read 68 books in 2023, missing my goal of 70...maybe next year!

I will share my favorite books of 2023, counting down to #1.

Top 16 Books Read:

The Sweetness of Water: Nathan Harris

All The Broken Places:John Boyne

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas:John Boyne

Lucy by the Sea: Elizabeth Strout

Horse: Geraldine Brooks

The Other Einstein: Marie Benedict

The Secret Book of Flora Lea: Patti Callahan Henry

Demon Copperhead: Barbara Kingsolver

Trust: Hernan Diaz

The Covenant of Water: Abraham Verghese

The Invisible Hour: Alice Hoffman

The River We Remember: William Kent Kruger

A Fall of Marigolds: Susan Meissner

Still Life: Louise Penny

In An Instant

Bewilderment: Richard Powers

Top 10 Books Read

All The Broken Places: John Boyne

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas: John Boyne

Lucy by the Sea: Elizabeth Strout

Horse: Geraldine Brooks

The Other Einstein: Marie Benedict

The Secret Book of Flora Lea: Patti Callahan Henry

Demon Copperhead: Barbara Kingsolver

Trust: Hernan Diaz

The Covenant of Water: Abraham Verghese

The Invisible Hour: Alice Hoffman

Top 8 Books Read

[obviously, it's getting harder to eliminate any]

All The Broken Places: John Boyne

Lucy by the Sea: Elizabeth Strout

Horse: Geraldine Brooks

The Secret Book of Flora Lea: Patti Callahan Henry

Demon Copperhead: Barbara Kingsolver

Trust: Hernan Diaz

The Covenant of Water: Abraham Verghese

The Invisible Hour: Alice Hoffman

Top 3 Books Read

All The Broken Places: John Boyne

Demon Copperhead: Barbara Kingsolver

The Covenant of Water: Abraham Verghese

Top 2 Books Read

[this is breaking my heart]

[can there be a tie?]

All The Broken Places: John Boyne

The Covenant of Water: Abraham Verghese

My Favorite Book Read in 2023

All the Broken Places by John Boyne

Slow December

 This month I read three fiction books and one poetry book. Slow month of reading for me. December was such a busy month, that I just didn't get the reading in that I would have liked to get! However, I did get eight new books to read! Here's what I read in December:

1) The Winter Guest by Pam Jenoff: This story was really good. 

The book takes place in Nazi-occupied Poland where five children have survived their parent's deaths and are left alone in a small cabin in the woods. Two of the children are eighteen year old twins, and the other three are younger. As the towns people struggle with who to trust, the twins, Helena and Ruth work hard to keep life normal for their siblings.

One day Helena was out for a walk and went to an old abanded church where she found an injured American soldier. It turned out that Sam, the soldier, was also Jewish which added even more danger to her finding and not reporting him to the authorities. As Helena continued to care for Sam, she kept his existence a secret even from Ruth. And Helena and Sam were falling in love with each other. Meanwhile the Nazis continued to search the area for any strangers. The decisions that they have to make result in decades long heartache.

I found the ending to be quite unexpected and satisfying and sad.

2) Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner; Ms. Meissner is a recently newly found to me historical fiction writer. This is the third book of hers I read this year, and will continue to seek out her books.

This book has a dual time line between the 1940's in England and current day in England.  It is also about two sisters. In present time, a young student at Oxford had the opportunity to interview 93 year old Isabel McFarland, a survivor of the London Blitz. Isabel was reluctantly eager to share secrets she had kept for the last almost 80 years. Including who und she really was. She and her sister had been sent to the countryside outside of London as children when London was either experiencing or expecting to be bombed the Nazis. They were taken in by a  lovely woman who took excellent  care of them. But Isabel was about 16 years old, she wanted to work as a dressmaker/designer and wanted to head back to London to try to apprentice with someone there.  However, when she was getting ready to sneak out to head to London, her younger sister begged to go with her. She threatened to tell the woman they were living with if her sister didn't take her. So Isabel decided to take her and leave her with their mother when they arrived. Her mother wasn't home, but she left her sister there and later learned that where her mother lived had been bombed. 

This was a really well written sort of mystery. I liked it very much!

3)The Dark between Stars by Atticus. I have always liked the poetry of Atticus. This book was a disappointment to me. Much of it seemed rather dark, not like his/her poetry I have always loved.

4) Bewilderment by Richard Powers: This was my second reading of this book-my book club chose it for December. It made for an excellent, interesting discussion. I published my review of it in my blog dated April 23, 2023.

5) The Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko : This book was recommended to me by my niece. It was written more than thirty-five years ago and is praised as "one of the most profound and moving works of Native American literature, a novel that is itself a ceremony of healing" . It is a book that I will read again sometime.

This novel is the story of Tayo, who served in the military during World War Two and came home deepy scarred by his experience. After he left the military and returned home to his reservation, he continued to experience rejections, just as he had in the military. He had been a prisoner of war by the Japanese and then felt rejection when he returned home to his people. As his friends turn to alcohol and drugs to cope, Tayo turned to his past, learning about the native American past and how to heal by learning their customs.

It is a powerful book.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Lacking my reading motivation?


I really can't believe that I only read three books last month. What happened here? I don't know! Anyway...

1) Unsaid by Neil Abrahamson was a book club choice. The novel was published in 2012. I'm not an animal person, so I wasn't as taken with it as some of our members, but it did have some interesting moments. This debut novel was about a man whose wife had died leaving him with all her many animals. The woman, Helena, had been a veterinarian and had been involved in research with a chimpanzee named Cindy. Cindy had been trained to communicate using sign language. Soon following Helena's death, funding was pulled for the research and Cindy was to be returned to regular animal research which likely would lead to her death. As Helena looks on from death, she was haunted by all the animals who she had helped died. As her husband David, a lawyer, learned more and more about Helena's life, he became determined to help Cindy not be sent away for animal research. The courtroom scenes brought out more and more about Helena's life and some rather explosive news.

2) Dead Cold by Louise Penny is the 2nd of the Three Pines series (for some reason it is also called A Fatal Grace). At first, I had a bit of trouble getting into the book, but as I settled somewhat, it was quite entertaining. In this book, an unpopular woman was electrocuted in the middle of a frozen lake while watching a curling match and no one there saw how it happened. There emerged several suspects, but Chief Inspector Gamache had his work cut out for him to solve this one! It was a fun read.

3) Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward was the last book that I read in November. This is a rather difficult book to describe. It is about Annis, a young black slave, who was taken from the Carolinas and marched to New Orleans. Throughout the story, Annis calls to her mother and grandmother, recalling and seeking their wisdom and strength to get her through her ordeal. The book is somewhat mystical, but certainly moving.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

October Reads


I can't believe how far behind I am on my postings.  Here it is almost December, and I haven't posted what I read in October! I am going to make this a very short post.

I really liked all four of these books.  Susan Meissner is becoming a favorite author for me. Surviving Savannah was quite an interesting historical fiction read. Secrets of the Lighthouse was good, also.   My favorite read in October was In An Instant by Suzanne Redfearn. It is written well and tells the story of the aftermath of a terrible winter accident. I was quite taken with it and have talked to several others who loved it as well!