Sunday, August 30, 2015

Goodbye August ~~Books Read ~~ and RIP X Challenge

I love fall, but always hate saying goodbye to summer. I think the beach is always most enjoyable after the tourists head home for locals.  September and even early October make for some of the best days to head to the beach with a good book and a small lunch.  

Since retiring in July sometimes the days seem interchangeable and although it would seem like I'd have more time for reading, I find I have less.  I use to read about 12 books a month, but August fell short with just 7 (and 2 of these were kids books a mere 20 pp or so). Here's the list with links to my reviews.  I liked them all so it's hard to pick a favorite.

August Reads--
  1. Summerlong; Dean Bakopoulos - 4.5/5 (ebook) (Aug)
  2. Wind/Pinball; Haruki Murakami - 4/5 (audio/eGalley) (Aug)
  3. What I Remember Most; Cathy Lamb - 4.5/5 (eBook) (Aug)
  4. Max the Brave; Ed Vere - 4.5/5 (arc) (Aug)
  5. Trapped: A Whale's Rescue; Burleigh & Minor - 5/5 (sent by author) (Aug)
  6. Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory; Caitlin Doughty - 4.5/5 (library) (Aug)
  7. The Sunken Cathedral; Kate Walbert - 4/5 (eGalley) (Aug)
September Reading Plans --

It's time for RIP X

Fall means more mysteries for me and darker psychological fiction stories. In past years Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings hosted the RIP Challenge each fall; I've participated for at least 6 years. It's the only challenge I join these days. This year (#10),  Carl is passing off the hosting to Andi and Heather of The Estella Society and I'm sure it will be just as much fun.  R.I.P. X officially runs from September 1st through October 31st.  

You can choose to participate on several different levels, I'm choosing the one with the least amount of pressure --Read just (4) books in (2 months: mystery, suspense, thriller, dark fantasy, Gothic, horror or supernatural. 

Tentative RIP X Choices
Hope you all consider this fun challenge!

Link up HERE

Sunday Blatherings and a few New Books

The above picture is just a reminder of how quickly summer has passed. Planning to enjoy every nice day before the snow shovels appear.

The past week has been really busy and fun with not too much time for reading, but there is one book that I'm reading and enjoying -- The Last September by Nina de Gramont. It's one of those stories that hooked me early on and made me anxious to turn each page to find out more. In some ways it reminds me of Life Drawing, by Robin Black a book which I really enjoyed.

We went to a few fun children's museums with the grand kiddos and I probably had as much fun as they did.  We painted, did construction work, visited The Very Hungry Caterpillar's house, read books, played in a spaceship, pretended we were doctor's and dentists, played grocery store and cashier, junior carpenters,  played with the largest collecting of Lego's I've ever seen, and even experienced a hurricane simulator. Here are a few pics from some of the activities --

Kids do know how to have fun

Back to books -- I did get a few new books in the mail last week.  

I hope to spend some time on the deck reading and relaxing today. Hope you enjoy your Sunday!

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Sunken Cathedral; Kate Walbert

The Sunken Cathedral; Kate Walbert
Scribner - 2015

The Sunken Cathedral is a character driven novel with not much plot, but still a very interesting read.  There is a sense of dread throughout the novel about some catastrophe looming, with surreal images of the Hudson River flooding NYC as strange storms threaten to devastate New York.

Marie and Simone grew up in France and later moved from Europe to Chelsea after WWII reuniting as young mothers after both women married Americans.  Now widows in their 80's it's hard not to notice just how much life in their NY borough has changed.  Both are still active women but anxious women as well. 

The women begin a painting class from Sid Morris along with Helen a former art historian who is also in her 80's. Sid leaves a lot to be desired. His studio is filthy, his manners missing and he's eccentric to say the least.  Both Marie and Simone oddly seem interested in the uncouth Sid.

Elizabeth is another character, a tenant of Marie. She is a 40-something woman with not much self-confidence.  Elizabeth struggles with the uncertainty of life. Her young son Ben attends a progressive K-8 school where parents are thoroughly involved, and seem to have it all together which intimidates Elizabeth all the more. Children at this school are prepared at an early age for terror attacks, earthquakes and other natural disasters.

Told from the third person POV, I liked the fact the central characters were seniors, something you don't see as often in fiction today.  The story was well written and footnotes can be found at the bottom of many pages which further explores the more personal inner thoughts and details of various characters -- this worked extremely well IMO.

Overall, I was very pleased with this novel. It's different, but in a good way and fewer than 300 pages as well.

4/5 stars

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Coming Soon to a Bookstore Near You ~ The Mistake I Made; Paula Daly

Here's a new one releasing soon that I think sounds pretty good. Would you read it?

The Mistake I Made; Paula Daly
Grove Press - September - 2015


he Mistake I Made is the latest page-turner from one of the England’s most captivating new thriller writers. In her provocative and riveting third novel, Paula Daly focuses her masterful eye for psychological suspense and family drama on an indecent proposal that has fatal repercussions.

Single mother Roz has reached breaking-point. After the dissolution of her marriage, Roz’s business has gone under, debts are racking up, the rent is late (again), and she's struggling to provide for her nine-year-old son, who is starting to misbehave in school. Roz is in trouble. Real trouble.

When Roz returns home from work one day and finds an eviction notice, she knows that it’s time for action—she has two weeks to find a solution otherwise they will be kicked out of their home. Increasingly desperate, Roz doesn’t know where to turn. Then the perfect opportunity presents itself. At her sister’s fortieth birthday party, Roz meets Scott Elias—wealthy, powerful, and very married. But the impression Roz leaves on him is indelible. He tracks her down and makes Roz an offer to spend the night with him—for money. He wants no-strings-attached intimacy and can guarantee total discretion. Could it be as simple as it sounds? With that kind of cash, Roz could clear her debts and get her life back on track. But as the situation spirals out of her control, Roz is forced to do things she never thought herself capable of. Can she ever set things right again?

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros ~ The Hollow Heart; Viola DiGrado

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where I share the first paragraph sometimes two from a book I am reading or thinking about reading soon.

The Hollow Heart; Viola DiGrado
Europa Editions - 2015


"In 2011 the world ended.  I killed myself.

On July 23, at 3:29 in the afternoon, my death set out from Catania.  Its epicenter was my thin, supine body, my three hundred grams of human heart, my small breasts, my puffy eyes, my brain clubbed senseless, the wrist of my right arm draped over the edge of the tub, the other wrist submerged in a grim mojito of mint bubble bath and blood. "

What do you think -- keep reading or pass?  

(Feel free to join in this week by posting your intro below?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Coming Soon To a Book Store Near You - Isabelle Day Refuses to Die of a Broken Heart; Jane St. Anthony

I just read about this "coming soon" book and thought it sounded great. It's less than 200 pages as well. Sound like one you would consider reading?

Jane St. Anthony
University of Minnesota Press - September - 2015


n Milwaukee, Isabelle Day had a house. And she had a father. This year, on Halloween, she has half of a house in Minneapolis, a mother at least as sad as she is, and a loss that’s too hard to think—let alone talk—about. It’s the Midwest in the early 1960s, and dads just don’t die . . . like that.
Hovering over Isabelle’s new world are the duplex’s too-attentive landladies, Miss Flora (“a lovely dried flower”) and her sister Miss Dora (“grim as roadkill”), who dwell in a sea of memories and doilies; the gleefully demonic Sister Mary Mercy, who rules a school awash in cigarette smoke; and classmates steady Margaret and edgy Grace, who hold out some hope of friendship. As Isabelle’s first tentative steps carry her through unfamiliar territory—classroom debacles and misadventures at home and beyond, time trapped in a storm-tossed cemetery and investigating an inhospitable hospital—she begins to discover that, when it comes to pain and loss, she might actually be in good company.
In light of the elderly sisters’ lives, Grace and Margaret’s friendship, and her father’s memory, she just might find the heart and humor to save herself. With characteristic sensitivity and wit, Jane St. Anthony reveals how a girl’s life clouded with grief can also hold a world of promise.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Valley Fever; Katherine Taylor

Valley Fever; Katherine Taylor
Farrar, Straus & Giroux - 2015

INTRO---"I don't return to places I've lived.  I avoid my high school dorm by not going back to all of Massachusetts.  In London, I'll avoid Holland Park so as not to be reminded of the basement flat on Addison Road.  The furnished two-bedroom on Via Annia in Rome, the bright studio in the white brick building on West Eighty-fourth Street with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, the two bedroom in Prenzlauer Berg I shared with a publishing-heiress insomniac who would speak only Russian: some of those places were good for a while. Still, whole neighborhoods, whole cities can be ruined by the reasons you left."

It's probably not a good sign when you move across the country from NY to CA to be with your significant other and less than a year later he tells you, "I think I only love you when I'm drunk."  Such is the situation for Ingrid Palameade who hasn't had the best of luck with relationships. 

With her sister Annie coming to her rescue at the airport after this latest breakup, she takes Ingrid back to her home to think about her life over the last (10) years since she finished college. Why has she moved from place to place and relationship to relationship?  With some hesitation Ingrid decides to return home to her family and their 20,000 acre vineyard around Fresno.  Her father's health is failing, her mother is stuck in a rut and her uncle drinks a bit too much (wine goes well with every me
al).  With her father's illness,  Ingrid soon begins running the family business, and even connecting with friends from her past.

I had a tough time with this novel. The writing is mostly dialogue driven with almost no character development. It could have been so much better if there was more of a plot progression and subsequent resolution.  One of the best features of the story was the way the story appealed to senses when the author describes the perfect conditions for wine making, facts about growing and harvesting almonds and CA agriculture in general. I thought the cover was pretty cool as well, but overall, this novel didn't work well for me.

2.5/5 stars

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - In the Unlikely Event; Judy Blume

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where I share the first paragraph sometimes two from a book I am reading or thinking about reading soon.

Knopf - 2015

Thirty-five Years Later
February 10, 1987

"Even now she can't decide.  She thinks about flipping a coin. Heads she goes, tails she stays.  But isn't indecisiveness an early sign of mental illness?  Didn't she cover a story about a few years ago? Or is it that she's conflicted? Conflicted is better than indecisive.  Why is she thinking this way? A voice inside her head says, You know damn well why."

What do you think -- keep reading or pass?  

(Feel free to join in this week by posting your intro below?

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons From the Crematory; Caitlin Doughty

W.W. Norton - 2014

While many people choose not to think about death and dying, 20-something author Caitlin Doughty was obsessed by it at an early age.  At the age of eight she performed a ritual the she believed would help keep death at bay. After growing up in Hawaii and a college degree in medieval history, she briefly considered a career in academia, but quickly decided it just wasn't for her.  Instead she took a job as a crematory operator at Westward Cremation & Burial in California and later went to mortuary school.

Her story is an eye-opener and certain words will stick in my mind forever when I think about a body being prepared for viewing --- eye-caps, mouth-closing gun, super glue and even sometimes saran wrapped arms when clothing on the deceased is a bit too tight.

She even talks about what is required when embalming a body that has been autopsied, and describes what human decomposition smells like ---ugh --ugh (I'd quote it, but you really need to read it for yourself if your curious).

Fortunately, given some of the details that she shares, much tactful humor is infused throughout.  It was interesting to learn about death practices and customs in this country and other cultures as well (where death is less feared because of customs and attitudes). Here in the US we tend to avoid talking about death and even spending time with the dying, We also tend to have this fear or aging gracefully and accepting that death is one thing no of us can avoid.  I felt like I learned a lot as I read. The biggest message that came across overall is that once we understand more about death and become more accepting of the end of life process, the fear some individuals experience when they think about death won't seem as frightening.

I'm happy I gave this memoir a try and, in many ways it reminded me of another memoir I read and enjoyed in the past year on the same subject more or less -- The Removers, by Andrew Meredith.  I would recommend both of these books to readers who are curious about the funeral business, what happens to the body after we die, as well as various methods and processes used for the preparation and the disposition of the body.  Overall, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, is told in a candid manner that makes the subject of death anything but dry or matter-of-fact. It's honest, at times gritty, but very very good.

4.5/5 stars

Saturday, August 15, 2015

At the Movies - The Gift (2015)

August - 2015
STX Entertainment

In the mood for an edge of your seat thriller in a nice air conditioned theatre this summer? If so you MUST try The Gift.  It's a terrific psychological thriller that we both enjoyed a lot. Jason Bateman (Simon), Joel Edgerton (Gordo) and Rebecca Hall (Robyn). Joel Edgerton, wrote, directed and starred in the movie and he was terrific.

In this movie Simon and Robyn are a young married couple who just moved from Chicago to California,  One day soon after purchasing their new home, the couple is out shopping when an old classmate of Simon's from high school recognizes him and takes the time to stop and reintroduce himself. Simon says he does not remember him, but Gordo is persistent, and it isn't the last the couple will see of him.

This movie has it all: great cast, terrific story and unexpected twists. It kept us guessing and on the edge of our seats throughout. It's one of those stories that will make you wonder about how well we know the people we think we know.


Friday, August 14, 2015

Trapped: A Whale's Rescue; Robert Burleigh and Wendell Minor

Robert Burleigh and Wendell Minor
Charlesbridge Publishing - 2015

Trapped: A Whale's Rescue, is based on a true event which occurred in the icy waters near San Francisco on December 11, 2005.

After a crabber's fishing net was left in the waters of the Pacific ocean, a humpback whale, swimming and feeding on krill became wrapped in the large nets. The ropes were cutting into her mouth and wrapped around her fins making it impossible for her to swim free and breathe normally.

Despite the fact that mammals such as these can be unpredictable when they feel threatened or frightened, a team of rescuers and divers worked tirelessly to free the frightened whale.  More than 20 ropes were wrapped around the frightened whale.  When all was said and done, no divers were injured and before the freed whale swam off, she circled the divers and gently nudged each one as if to show her appreciation.

I really enjoyed this story and felt it would make a great addition to school and public library collections. The painting-like illustrations seem to come alive on each page so that you can almost feel the leathery skin of the whale. The illustrations help to show just how scared the whale must have been when the nets restricted her ability to swim and even breathe.

In the back of the book there is lots of interesting information on the humpback whale --for example, the humpback has lungs the size of a small car; females weigh around 50 tons; life span 40-50 years and the heart weighs 400+pounds.

5/5 stars
(sent by illustrator)

Max the Brave; Ed Vere

Max the Brave; Ed Vere
Sourcebooks - Jabberwocky 

Max is one brave kitty. People think he is cute and some try to pretty him up with bows etc, but Max is determined to show how brave and to prove what a great mouse hunter he is....if only he know what a mouse looked like!

At the turn of each page we see Max mistake birds for mice and even wonders whether an elephant might be a mouse.  When he encounters finally encounters a real mouse, the mouse tells him he is a monster and sends him off on his way in the direction of a real monster who is fast asleep.  Max quickly learns that chasing and catching mice isn't all that much fun and can even prove dangerous, but fortunately all works out well in the end.

Simple, but bold drawings on brightly colored pages and just the right amount of fun text for young children make this book a fun read.  The cat & mouse hunt is a style that is fun to read again and again to small children.

4.5/5 stars
(review copy)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You; The Hand That Feeds You; A.J. Rich

Here's a book that just got added to my wish list. It sounds deliciously creepy to me, and I think cover adds even more of a creep factor.  It was released last month here in the US.

Simon & Schuster - July - 2015

(Description) ----From celebrated authors Amy Hempel and Jill Ciment writing as A.J. Rich, a smart, thrilling, sexy, and emotionally riveting novel of psychological suspense about an accomplished woman involved with a man who proves to be an imposter.

Morgan Prager, at age thirty, is completing her thesis on victim psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. She is newly engaged to Bennett, a seductive but possessive and secretive man. She returns from class one day to find Bennett mauled to death, and her dogs—a Great Pyrenees and two pit bulls she has rescued—covered in blood. Bewildered and devastated that her dogs could have committed such violence, she worries that she might suffer from one of the syndromes she studies: pathological altruism, when selfless acts do more damage than good.

When Morgan tries to locate Bennett’s parents to tell them about their son’s hideous death, she discovers he was not the man he said he was. Everything he has told her—where he was born, where he lives and works—was a lie. In fact, he has several fiancées, and fits the clinical definition of a sociopath. And then, one by one, these other women are murdered. Suddenly Morgan’s research into Bennett takes on the urgency of survival: to stay alive, she must find out who is killing the women Bennett was closest to.

Unsettling and highly suspenseful, this is a brilliant collaboration between two outstanding writers.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

What I Remember Most; Cathy Lamb

Kensington - 2014

What I Remember Most was a terrific story and one that kept me wondering as I eagerly turned each page.  Part mystery, part contemporary fiction, the only thing that the reader knows for sure is that the protagonist, Grenadine Scotch Wild, had a horrible childhood and as an adult her life is still unsettled.

Something happened to both of Grenadine's parents when she was only six years old, She became lost in a failed foster care system with numerous placements -- some more horrible than the one before. The one comfort through all her turmoil was her love and talent for art. As an adult she married a user who implicated her in a white-collar scheme.  With bank accounts frozen, she flees a comfortable lifestyle with just a few hundred dollars and her car full of clothes and a few personal items, desperate to start a new life even if it means living in her car for a while.

As the story progresses the reader learns pieces of her past through DCYF case worker reports, and also more about her marriage and her reasons for fleeing.  There is also brief references to some crazed individual who writes short, disturbing nursery rhymes. Grenadine is such a well developed character. She is a strong woman who was easy to root for based on her resilience and what she had been through. Even the minor characters in this novel were interesting.

At first I thought the cover did not seem to fit the story, but as I read and saw how important painting and drawing was to the protagonist's life, it made perfect sense.  This book is definitely worth reading, if you don't mind a little sadness your fiction, especially when you read some of the case worker's notes.  I liked how the story came together at the end as well.

4.5/5 stars
(kindle purchase)

A few quotes I jotted down ---

  • "We laughed the type of laugh you laugh when you want to cry and fear has its claws in you and is pulling you down but your keeping your chin up and holding it together because if you don't, you'll be flat wiped out."
  • "It was one of those moments in life where you have to stop. You have to put aside the problems, all the stress, all the worries, and be in the moment.  Be happy. Be grateful. Be glad to be alive."
  • "You don't know how much you need a mother nagging over you until you don't have it."

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Smoke Get's in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory; Caitlin Doughty

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where I share the first paragraph sometimes two from a book I am reading or thinking about reading soon.  Here's my pick for this week, I've already started this one and the writing is terrific.

Caitlin Doughty - W.W. Norton 2014

Shaving Byron

"A girl always remembers the first corpse she shaves.  It is the only event in her life more awkward than her first kiss or the loss of her virginity.  The hands of time will never move quite so slowly as when you are standing over the dead body of an elderly man with a pink plastic razor in your hand."

What do you think -- keep reading or pass?  (I'm at the 30% mark and so far this book is fantastic.)

(Feel free to join in this week by posting your intro  link below)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Sunday Blatherings and New Books

 This past week has been super busy with not much time for reading.  We spent time in Saratoga, NY. My husband at one time was involved in the racing industry and has always wanted to check out this racetrack which is only open about (7) weeks each year.  The area is beautiful and the weather was gorgeous. It was a wonderful place for a people-watcher like me to have plenty of entertainment, even though I'm not really into horse racing.

The rest of the week was spent with lots of outdoor activity since the humidity was way down, time with all 3 granddaughters, and lunch with friends that we haven't seen in (6) months. It was a great week.  I can't believe you use to work 35 hours a week (1) month ago.

Books (current reads) - I have (3) books going, but as I mentioned I wasn't able to get much reading done.  Reading -- Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematory; Caitlin Doughy (NF) excellent; What I Remember Most; Cathy Lamb so good -- and The Sunken Cathedral; Kate Walbert -- just okay.

(new books that arrived by mail last week & a description of each)

A young wife's new job pits her against the unfeeling machinations of the universe in this dazzling first novel Ursula K. Le Guin hails as "funny, sad, scary, beautiful. I love it."
  • In a windowless building in a remote part of town, the newly employed Josephine inputs an endless string of numbers into something known only as The Database. After a long period of joblessness, she's not inclined to question her fortune, but as the days inch by and the files stack up, Josephine feels increasingly anxious in her surroundings-the office's scarred pinkish walls take on a living quality, the drone of keyboards echoes eerily down the long halls. When one evening her husband Joseph disappears and then returns, offering no explanation as to his whereabouts, her creeping unease shifts decidedly to dread.
    As other strange events build to a crescendo, the haunting truth about Josephine's work begins to take shape in her mind, even as something powerful is gathering its own form within her. She realizes that in order to save those she holds most dear, she must penetrate an institution whose tentacles seem to extend to every corner of the city and beyond. Both chilling and poignant, The Beautiful Bureaucrat is a novel of rare restraint and imagination. With it, Helen Phillips enters the company of Murakami, Bender, and Atwood as she twists the world we know and shows it back to us full of meaning and wonder-luminous and new.
  • Dataclysm: Who We Are (When We Think No One's Looking); Christian Rudder (Crown) sent by Paperback Swap member  -----An audacious, irreverent investigation of human behavior—and a first look at a revolution in the making
    Our personal data has been used to spy on us, hire and fire us, and sell us stuff we don’t need. InDataclysm, Christian Rudder uses it to show us who we truly are. 
    For centuries, we’ve relied on polling or small-scale lab experiments to study human behavior. Today, a new approach is possible. As we live more of our lives online, researchers can finally observe us directly, in vast numbers, and without filters. Data scientists have become the new demographers.
    In this daring and original book, Rudder explains how Facebook "likes" can predict, with surprising accuracy, a person’s sexual orientation and even intelligence; how attractive women receive exponentially more interview requests; and why you must have haters to be hot. He charts the rise and fall of America’s most reviled word through Google Search and examines the new dynamics of collaborative rage on Twitter. He shows how people express themselves, both privately and publicly. What is the least Asian thing you can say? Do people bathe more in Vermont or New Jersey? What do black women think about Simon & Garfunkel? (Hint: they don’t think about Simon & Garfunkel.) Rudder also traces human migration over time, showing how groups of people move from certain small towns to the same big cities across the globe. And he grapples with the challenge of maintaining privacy in a world where these explorations are possible.
    Visually arresting and full of wit and insight, Dataclysm is a new way of seeing ourselves—a brilliant alchemy, in which math is made human and numbers become the narrative of our time.
  • Autobiography of a Corpse; S. Krzhizhanovsky (NYRB Classics-purchase) ---An NYRB Classics Original

    The stakes are wildly high in Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky’s fantastic and blackly comic philosophical fables, which abound in nested narratives and wild paradoxes. This new collection of eleven mind-bending and spellbinding tales includes some of Krzhizhanovsky’s most dazzling conceits: a provincial journalist who moves to Moscow finds his existence consumed by the autobiography of his room’s previous occupant; the fingers of a celebrated pianist’s right hand run away to spend a night alone on the city streets; a man’s lifelong quest to bite his own elbow inspires both a hugely popular circus act and a new refutation of Kant. Ordinary reality cracks open before our eyes in the pages of Autobiography of a Corpse, and the extraordinary spills out.
  • Becoming Ellen; Shari Shattuck --(sent by G.P Putnam & Sons) ---Returning in the bestselling tradition of Jennifer Weiner, Shattuck brilliantly illustrates the deep friendship between two absolutely unforgettable women in this touching yet funny novel.

    Ellen Homes is done being invisible. Well, sort of. 
    Living with her closest friends, Temerity and Justice, has helped her step out of the shell of invisibility she once hid away in. She still seeks refuge in solitary time and observing from afar, but she has pushed herself to open up to others in ways that bring her unexpected happiness.
    But when a terrible bus crash upends her normal routine, Ellen finds herself on a whirlwind crusade for the unseen and downtrodden. Only this time, helping others—including two young children with no one else to turn to—will mean facing a pain from her past that she’s long tucked away.
    Picking up where Invisible Ellen left off, Becoming Ellen returns us to the touching, poignant, and compassionate world of Ellen Homes as she learns how to navigate the world she has decided to become a part of.
  • All That Followed; Gabriel Urza -- (sent by Henry Holt & Co.)  ----A psychologically twisting novel about a politically-charged act of violence that echoes through a small Spanish town; a dazzling debut in the tradition of Daniel Alarcón and Mohsin Hamid
    It's 2004 in Muriga, a quiet town in Spain's northern Basque Country, a place with more secrets than inhabitants. Five years have passed since the kidnapping and murder of a young local politician--a family man and father--and the town's rhythms have almost returned to normal. But in the aftermath of the Atocha train bombings in Madrid, an act of terrorism that rocked a nation and a world, the townspeople want a reckoning of Muriga's own troubled past: Everyone knows who pulled the trigger five years ago, but is the young man now behind bars the only one to blame? All That Followed peels away the layers of a crime complicated by history, love, and betrayal. The accounts of three townspeople in particular--the councilman's beautiful young widow, the teenage radical now in jail for the crime, and an aging American teacher hiding a traumatic past of his own--hold the key to what really happened. And for these three, it's finally time to confront what they can find of the truth.
    Inspired by a true story, All That Followed is a powerful, multifaceted novel about a nefarious kind of violence that can take hold when we least expect. Urgent, elegant, and gorgeously atmospheric, Urza's debut is a book for the world we live in now, and it marks the arrival of a brilliant new writer to watch.
  • Confusion; Stefan Zweig (NYRB Classics - purchase) --- Stefan Zweig was particularly drawn to the novella, and Confusion, a rigorous and yet transporting dramatization of the conflict between the heart and the mind, is among his supreme achievements in the form.

    A young man who is rapidly going to the dogs in Berlin is packed off by his father to a university in a sleepy provincial town. There a brilliant lecture awakens in him a wild passion for learning—as well as a peculiarly intense fascination with the graying professor who gave the talk. The student grows close to the professor, be­coming a regular visitor to the apartment he shares with his much younger wife. He takes it upon himself to urge his teacher to finish the great work of scholarship that he has been laboring at for years and even offers to help him in any way he can. The professor welcomes the young man’s attentions, at least on some days. On others, he rages without apparent reason or turns away from his disciple with cold scorn. The young man is baffled, wounded. He cannot understand. 

    But the wife understands. She understands perfectly. And one way or another she will help him to understand too.

Hope all of my readers have a wonderful week.