Books Read in 2021
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Tuesday, November 30, 2021
Sunday, November 28, 2021
Book Reviews - Who is Maud Dixon? Alexandra Andrews - These Precious Days: Essays; Ann Patchett and Trust; Domenico Starnone
Friday, November 26, 2021
Wednesday, November 24, 2021
The chapters alternate between the characters and what started out promising and had a picture perfect setting, the one-dimensional characters and under developed yet predicable story left me disappointing. I found lots of irritating details like what an Etsy store is and what Lyme disease unnecessary and, I wished the author devote more time in plot line and character development. The audio book was read by Leslie Howard who did a fine job but, overall this story itself was disappointing.
Rating - 2/5 stars
Still Life; Sarah Winman
G.P Putnam - 2021
Still Life was another book that had so much promise and although many readers seemed to love it, it just was a struggle for me.
Still Life begins in Florence and spans the years 1944 - 1979. At the heart of the story is a young British soldier and globe maker named Ulysses Temper and 64 year old Evelyn Skinner, an art teacher and historian and possible spy. The two meet in the midst of war as Ulysses hides out in a wine cellar. He is a kind and gentle man who is easy to like and one people are quickly drawn to. As the war ends and Ulysses returns home, we meet wife Peg, a marriage of convenience, as well as a quirky cast of characters including an Amazonian parrot name Claude who quotes Shakespeare.
I started with the audiobook which is read by the author, but, I found it very difficult given the author's heavy British accent and multiple characters (8+) to follow. I switched to the hardcover and although this was easier, the hefty novel overall still wasn't a great fit for me and I found myself skimming sections. I felt some of the characters were very well written but, I think my biggest pet peeve was that there was quite a bit of dialogue and the author did not use quotation marks. Unfortunately, I guess I haven't had the best luck with this author as I see her novel Tin Man was not a winner for me either - review HERE.
Rating - 3/5 stars
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
Essays Don't Die
The first time I remember seriously thinking about my own death, I was twenty-six years old and working on my first novel, The Patron Saint of Liars. No matter where I went, I carried the entire cast of characters with me--the heroines and heroes and supporting players, as well as the towns they lived in, their houses and cars, all the streets and all the trees and the color of the light. Every day a little bit more of their story was committed to paper, but everything that was still to come existed only in my head. Remembering things is how I work. I didn't have outlines or notes, and because of that, I was hounded by the thought of stepping off a curb at the wrong moment, or drowning in the ocean (this second scenario was more likely, as I was living in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where I swam in the freezing water and was prone to cramps).
Marriage has always proven irresistible in my family. We try and fail and try again, somehow maintaining our belief in an institution that has made fools of us all. I married twice; so has my sister. Our mother married three times. None of us set out for this. We meant to stick our landing on the first try, but we stumbled. My parents divorced when I was five. My mother and stepfather Mike had their final parting when I was twenty-four. She married Darrell when I was twenty-seven, and they stayed together until he died in 2018, when I was fifty-four.
I can't wait to dive in an earlier book of essays: This is the Story of a Happy Marriage (2013) was a favorite read of mine. What do you think of the intros?
Tuesday, November 16, 2021
Sunday, November 14, 2021
3 brief Book Reviews - The Invisible Husband of Frick Island; Colleen Oakley - The Last Guests; J.P. Pomare and The Writer's Cats; Muriel Barbery
(2) quick catch up reviews
Friday, November 12, 2021
3 children's books worth considering: The Secret Starling; Judith Eagle - Judy Moody in a Monday Mood; Megan McDonald and Welcome Back Maple Mehta-Cohen; Kate McGovern
Thursday, November 11, 2021
2 brief audiobook reviews - Red Roulette: An Insiders Story of Power, Corruption and Vengeance in Today's China; Desmond Shum and A Little Hope: Ethan Joella
In this biography, Desmond Shum tells a couple of stories. First there is his own story about his rise from rags to riches. He was born into a poor family in China and moved to Hong Kong when he was young, excelled in swimming and was able to attend college in the US. Later moving back to China, he was driven to succeed in the business world even if it meant partnering with the upper echelon of China's communist party under former Premiere Wen Jiabao. Shum then also tells of his marriage and subsequent divorce to an equally power driven woman named Whitney Duan and their struggle to finally have a child. Finally, he tells the story of Wendy, his now ex-wife and her disappearance in Beijing, along with three of her coworkers in September of 2017. In addition, Shum also gives us an insider's look at the couples involvement with the red aristocracy.
I had mixed feelings about this book. I loved the story of both Desmond and Whitneys early humble beginnings and the couples entrepreneurial spirit. I loved learning what drove each of them to become so power hungry and prove their success even if it meant taking such risks by getting so involved with the powers that be. It was fascinating learning about the power and corruption and the dynamics between the political factions in China from a former insider. I also liked learning about the rise of the current ruler for life Xi Jinping. On the other hand, what I found annoying was the constant emphasis on possessions the author and his ex-wife acquired. There was incessant label branding along and mentions of expensive homes, private jets, fast cars, clothing, jewelry or even wine. At times the author came across simply as power hungry and greedy. Overall, I was still happy I listened to this one even though I had some issues with the overall story. The audio was read by Tim Chiou who did a very good job.
Tuesday, November 9, 2021
New Book Releases - The Way We Weren't; Phoebe Fox - First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros and The Writer's Cats; Muriel Barbery
Saturday, November 6, 2021
Tuesday, November 2, 2021
Monday, November 1, 2021
Billy Summers ; Stephen King- 4.5/5 stars Getaway ; Zoje Stage- 3.5/5 stars
- Where I Left Her; Amber Garza - 4/5
The Long Call; Ann Cleeves- 4/5 stars Stolen Hours; Allen Eskens- 5/5 An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed; Helene Thurston - 4/5 The Last House on Needless Street;Catriona Ward - 4.5/5 (utterly creepy) Nothing But Blackened Teeth; Cassandra Khaw - 2/5 The Stowaway ; Murray and Wearmouth- 4/5
he Guide ; Peter Heller- 2/5 The Heron's Cry; Ann Cleeves- 4.5/5 The Family Plot; Megan Collins- 3.5/5