Saturday, July 31, 2021

July Book Report

July 2021
I finished 11 books last month.

A quote from this month's reading:

“My dad had once told me that the secret to a happy life was never to start something with a girl unless you were willing to follow wherever it leads.”
― Ben Aaronovitch, Midnight Riot

Here is my progress toward various goals and challenges:

Here are the books I finished in July 2021: 
  1. Nudge by Richard H. Thayler (audiobook, 2-stars) -- interesting, but way too repetitive
  2. Aunt Dimity's Death by Nancy Atherton (4-stars)
  3. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis  (4-stars)
  4. Square Haunting: Five Writers in London Between the Wars by Francesca Ward (5-stars)
  5. Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovich (audiobook, 4-stars)
  6. A Few Quick Ones: Stories by P. G. Wodehouse (3-stars)
  7. Castle Shade by Laurie R. King (3-stars)
  8. The White Mountain by Dan Szczesny (4-stars)
  9. Lineage Most Lethal by S. C. Perkins (3-stars)
  10. Susan, Linda, Nina, & Cokie: The Extraordinary Story of the Founding Mothers of NPR by Lisa Napoli (4-stars)
  11. Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett (4-stars)
I read some very good books this month. I still need to get some of my classics club books onto the top of the pile.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

June Book Report

June 2021
I finished 16 books last month.

A quote from this month's reading:

“When you're given an opportunity to change your life, be ready to do whatever it takes to make it happen. The world doesn't give things, you take things.”

 -- Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

Here is my progress toward various goals and challenges:

Here are the books I finished in June 2021:
  1. The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (4-stars)
  2. A Dangerous Mourning by Anne Perry (audiobook, 3-stars)
  3. Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland  (4-stars)
  4. The Doctor of Thessaly by Anne Zouroudi (3-stars)
  5. In the Teeth of the Evidence by Dorothy L. Sayers --stories (3-stars)
  6. The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair (3-stars)
  7. Fortune and Glory by Janet Evanovich (4-stars)
  8. Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (3-stars)
  9. The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher by Kate Summerscale (audiobook, 3-stars)
  10. Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing by Margaret Atwood (3-stars)
  11. Inspector and Mrs. Jeffries by Emily Brightwell (audiobook, 3-stars)
  12. Blue Horses by Mary Oliver (4-stars)
  13. Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett (4-stars)
  14. An Invitation to Self-Care by Tracey Cleantis (4-stars)
  15. A Question of Guilt by Francis Fyfield (2-stars) --would have been 2.5 if half-stars were allowed
  16. Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved my Life by Christie Tate (3-stars)
My audiobooks this month were a bit of a slog, but I will give another Mrs. Jeffries novel a chance. I need to do some reading for Classics Club.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

15th Canadian Book Challenge

I have been participating in the Canadian Book Challenge since #6 and am ready to start #15 on July 1. Most years, including the current one, I have finished 13 Canadian books. There are several authors that I keep going back to (Margaret Atwood, Robertson Davies, Louise Penny, Emily St. John Mandel and Michael Ondaatje in particular) so this year I want to try to add some additional authors I haven't read before. 

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Men at Arms

Men at Arms (Discworld, #15; City Watch #2)Men at Arms 
by Terry Pratchett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“Some people have inspired whole countries to great deeds because of the power of their vision. And so could he. Not because he dreams about marching hordes, or world domination, or an empire of a thousand years. Just because he thinks that everyone’s really decent underneath and would get along just fine if only they made the effort, and he believes that so strongly it burns like a flame which is bigger than he is. He’s got a dream and we’re all part of it, so that it shapes the world around him. And the weird thing is that no one wants to disappoint him. It’d be like kicking the biggest puppy in the universe. It’s a kind of magic.” ― Terry Pratchett, Men at Arms
This book is about how the Watch came to be the diverse force it is in later books under the leadership of Commander Vimes (and C. Carrot) In it we learn the backstories of several watchmen, and Gaspode the dog. There is also a murder spree going on which the Watch investigates. It was a typical Disworld novel, fun and full of clever observations on how the world works. 

This book counts toward the Turtle Recall 2021 Challenge.

Monday, June 21, 2021

20 Books of Summer - Update and Revision

I made my #20booksofsummer2021 challenge list back in May and a month in I realize I need to make some revisions. 

My book group changed books for next month so I am dropping Reading Lolita in Tehran (which I had read before anyway) and am replacing it with our new selection, a book about NH's White Mountains. I also started one of the titles, The Sugar Camp Quilt, and decided it is not going to work for me this summer so I am dropping it off my list in favor of another Terry Pratchett novel.

So as of today this is my list to be read:

#1 - The White Mountain by Dan Sczcesny (new addition)

#2 -Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C. S. Lewis

#3 - A Question of Guilt by Frances Fyfield

#4 - The Republic of Love by Carol Shields

#5 - Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris 

#6 - After all these Years by Susan Isaacs

#7 - Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes

#8 - Aunt Dimity's Death by Nancy Atherton

#9 - Lineage Most Lethal by S. C. Perkins

#10 - The Old Silent by Martha Grimes

#11 - Wyrd Sisters by Terry Pratchett

#12- Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett (new addition)

#13 - The Sweet Taste of Muscadines by Pamela Terry

#14 - Susan, Linda, Nina, and Cokie by Lisa Napoli

#15 - The Shadow in the Garden by James Atlas

#16 - Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

These are ones I have finished so far:

#17 - In the Teeth of the Evidence by Dorothy L. Sayers

#18 - Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi 

#19 - Fortune and Glory by Janet Evanovich

#20 - The Doctor of Thessaly by Anne Zouroudi

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Negotiating with the Dead

Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing

Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing
by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is based on a series of lectures (the Empson lectures) that Atwood gave on writing. She describes them in the Introduction as being "about the position the writer finds himself in; or herself, which is always a little different." I am a great admirer of Atwood's novels and found this volume very interesting as a peek at the person behind the stories. One of the lectures addresses the issue of the Wizard of Oz and whether you want to see behind the curtain. 

"But deep down I was not a rationalist. I was the youngest and weepiest of the family, frequently sent for naps due to fatigue, and thought to be sensitive and even a bit sickly; perhaps this was because I showed an undue interest in sissy stuff like knitting and dresses and stuffed bunnies. My own view of myself was that I was small and innocuous, a marshmallow compared to the others. I was a poor shot with a 22, for instance, and not very good with an ax. It took me a long time to figure out that the youngest in a family of dragons is still a dragon from the point of view of those who find dragons alarming." (p. 9)

This was a thought provoking book and well worth reading, especially if you are interested in how authors across time and space are in conversation with each other through their work.

This title counts toward the Canadian Reading Challenge.


Tuesday, June 1, 2021

May Book Report

May 2021
I finished 13 books last month.

A quote from this month's reading:

“For the train, like life, must go on until it reaches its destination. You might not always like what you see out of the window, but if you pull down the blind, you will miss the beauty as well as the ugliness.” --The Woman on the Orient Express

Here is my progress toward various goals and challenges:

Here are the books I finished in May 2021: 
  1. Windhall by Ava Barry--a page-turner, but there is a logical problem at the center of the plot that bugged me throughout the book (3-stars)
  2. One Corpse Too Many by Ellis Peters (audiobook, 3-stars)
  3. The Nature of Biography by Robert Gittings (3-stars)
  4. The Woman on the Orient Express by Lindsay Jayne Ashford (4-stars)
  5. To the Hilt by Dick Francis (audiobook, 4-stars)
  6. Who is Maud Dixon by Alexandra Andrews (4-stars)
  7. Paris 1919 by Margaret MacMillan (4-stars)
  8. I, Robot by Isaac Asimov (3-stars)
  9. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson (re-read, 5-stars)
  10. Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader by Anne Fadiman (2-stars)
  11. The Sweet Dove Died by Barbara Pym (4-stars)
  12. The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin (3-stars)
  13. Sorry for the Dead by Nicola Upson (3-stars)
I wanted to participate in the Daphne Du Maurier Reading Week, but the novel on my unread shelf, Hungry Hill, just didn't work for me. I think it is destined for my "abandoned" list. 

Saturday, May 29, 2021

The Left Hand of Darkness

The Left Hand of DarknessThe Left Hand of Darkness 
by Ursula K. Le Guin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
"His loyalty extended without disproportion to things, the patient, obstinate, reliable things that we use and get used to, the things we live by." (p. 193)
This book reminded me quite a lot of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.  LeGuin's novel is less dark than Le Carre's, but they are working with some similar themes and there is at least one scene that was almost the same action in both stories. 
LeGuin's story, written in 1969, raises questions about sex and gender identity (which Spy doesn't) which I found quite interesting. The story is about the first envoy to Winter (a world wholly created by LeGuin) from outside its galaxy. He deals with political intrigue and bickering and travels across vast ice fields in a desperate bid for survival which is intertwined with a kind of love story. Through this adventure in an alien world LeGuin shows us a lot about ourselves.

This book is from my Classics Club list and was my May Spin title. 

Thursday, May 20, 2021

I, Robot

I, RobotI, Robot 
by Isaac Asimov
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a collection of stories tied together with the conceit that they are a series of interviews of a famous robot psychologist at the end of her career being done by a journalist. Each story is a different episode in the woman's career and all feature robots. 
Like any collection of stories there were some I liked better than others. They were all well written and showed facets of humanity by analyzing what the machines do. 
This is one of my classics club titles. It was first published in 1950 and could count toward the Back to the Classics challenge as a 20th century classic. 


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