Beth's (BLBera) Pages in 2021 - Chapter 3

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Beth's (BLBera) Pages in 2021 - Chapter 3

1BLBera
Redigeret: apr 15, 8:36am



From All the World

My name is Beth. I am an English instructor at my local community college. I am always looking for new books to introduce to my students.

I read mostly fiction, but I also enjoy memoirs. Mysteries tend to be my comfort reads. This year I hope to expand my reading in translation and my nonfiction reading.

2BLBera
Redigeret: jun 13, 8:28pm

Currently Reading

3BLBera
Redigeret: jun 13, 8:23pm

Reading in 2021
☔️ April ☔️
38. Beheld
39. The Seed Keeper* 💜
40. She Walks in Beauty*
41. The Trouble with Goats and Sheep
42. The Liar's Dictionary
43. The New Jim Crow* 💜
44. Faithful and Virtuous Night 💜
45. The Western Wind
46. Death Comes to the School*
47. I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf
48. Death Comes to Bath

April Reading Report
Books read: 11
By women: 10
By men: 1

Novels: 7
Nonfiction: 1
Poetry: 2
Graphic: 1

Library books - all physical copies: 7
My shelves - 4
physical copies - 3
ebook - 1

🌸May🌸
49. Klara and the Sun
50. The Dutch House REREAD
51. Exciting Times
52. Death and the Maiden
53. The Searcher
54. The War that Saved My Life*
55. Whereabouts
56. Ocean Prey
57. Jacob's Room Is Full of Books* 💜
58. The Carrying*
59. To Die But Once
60. Gem of the Ocean
61. One Two Three* 💜
62. Death on Tuckernuck
63. Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars*
64. Secrets of Happiness 💜

Reading Report - May
Books read: 16
By women: 13
By men: 3

Novels: 13
Poetry: 1
Memoir: 1
Drama: 1

Library: 11
- Audiobooks: 2
- Ebook: 1

From my shelves: 5
- All physical books

☀️June☀️
65. A Is for Alibi*
66. Life in the Garden*
67. The Arsonists' City
68. The Scholar*
69. Of Women and Salt
70. Joe Turner's Come and Gone
71. Piranesi

4BLBera
Redigeret: apr 20, 8:52pm

Reading in 2021
❄️January❄️
1. Jazz*💜
2. News of the World* REREAD
3. Those Who Knew
4. Square Haunting 💜
5. The Boy in the Field
6. Glass Town
7. A Running Duck*
8. Faces on the Tip of My Tongue*
9. Perestroika in Paris
10. When You Reach Me*
11. Earthly Remains*
12. Pride
13. Teaching about Race and Racism in the College Classroom*
14. The Skeleton Road*

January Reading Report
Books Read: 14
By women: 14

Novels: 10
Graphic novel: 1
Short stories: 1
Nonfiction: 2
Translation: 1

Library books: 6
From my shelves: 8
- Physical books: 7
- ebook: 1

❄️February❄️
15. The Death of Vivek Oji
16. My Time among the Whites* REREAD
17. The Nickel Boys*
18. Las mujeres en la química*
19. Paradise* REREAD 💜
20. Devil in a Blue Dress*
21. So We Read On*💜
22. Banned Book Club
23. The Vanishing Half*

February Reading
Books read: 9
By women: 7
By men: 2

Novels: 5
Graphic novel: 1
Nonfiction: 2
Young reader nonfiction: 1
Spanish: 1

Library: 2
From my shelves: 7, all physical books

🍀March🍀
24. Outlawed
25. Sing, Unburied, Sing* REREAD
26. Summerwater 💜
27. The Jewels of Paradise
28. Love*
29. The Historians
30. Even as We Breathe
31. Hidden Figures*
32. American Delirium
33. Hardcore Twenty-Four*
34. Freiheit!*
35. What's Mine and Yours
36. How Beautiful We Were 💜
37. Infinite Country 💜

March Report
Books read: 14
By women: 13
By men: 1

Novels: 12
Nonfiction: 1
Graphic novel: 1
Translation: 1

Library: 11
Audiobook: 3

My shelves: 5
Ebook: 1
Physical copy: 4

* From my shelves

5BLBera
Redigeret: jun 13, 8:26pm

Tentative Reading Plans
🌺Tentative Reading Plans🌺

May - A Mercy - Laura
June - Home - Laura

Book Club
✅ May - The Dutch House
June - The Feast of Love
July Night Waking
August Vacationland
September The Woman Who Smashed Codes
October A Good Man Is Hard to Find
November Station Eleven
December When God Was a Rabbit

Women's Prize 2021 Longlist
Because of You by Dawn French
Burnt Sugar by Avni Doshi
Consent by Annabel Lyon
Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan
How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House by Cherie Jones SL
Luster by Raven Leilani
No One is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood SL
Nothing But Blue Sky by Kathleen MacMahon
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke SL
Small Pleasures by Clare Chambers
Summer by Ali Smith
The Golden Rule by Amanda Craig
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett SL
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi SL
Unsettled Ground by Claire Fuller SL

6BLBera
Redigeret: apr 14, 8:05pm

You Must Read This!


When I first read this in 2017, I wrote:
65. Behind the Scenes at the Museum is great. I loved it, loved it, loved it. I can't believe it was a first novel.

It's the story of Ruby Lennox, starting with her conception: "I exist! I am conceived to the chimes of midnight..." Ruby's voice is remarkable, childlike and knowing, humorous and pathetic. As Ruby says at one point, "In the end, it is my belief, words are the only things that can construct a world that makes sense." Atkinson does that masterfully here.

With a few words, we understand Bunty, Ruby's mother: "She hates cooking, it's too much like being nice to people."

In addition to Ruby's life, there are a series of "footnotes" that introduce us to Ruby's ancestors. We learn about the lives of her great grandmother, grandmother, aunts and uncles as they lived through the two World Wars.

I'm only sorry it has been sitting on my shelf for so long.

Atkinson rules.

7BLBera
apr 14, 7:51pm

8BLBera
apr 14, 7:51pm



From the previous thread:

41. The Trouble with Goats and Sheep is an accomplished first novel that had me laughing out loud at times. The novel starts with a winning ten-year-old Grace narrating. When one of the neighbor ladies on the Avenue disappears, Grace and her best friend Tilly decide that the only way to keep the Avenue safe and bring Mrs. Creasey back is to find God. They devote the hot summer days to visiting the various neighbors in the search.

Cannon alternates Grace's point of view with those of the neighbors, revealing a troubled neighborhood with secrets and sadness. Kids' narration doesn't always work, but I liked it. I thought that Grace's perspective lent the right amount of levity to what otherwise might have been a darker story.

One of Grace's observations about the police visiting her house: "I thought I would like a job where inquiring about everyone else's private business was considered perfectly routine."

I don't want to create any spoilers, but Jesus does make an appearance in an unusual place.

9EBT1002
apr 14, 7:52pm

Hmmm, is two minutes after you posted your last place-holder too quick on the draw? I hope not. Happy New Thread, my friend!

10EBT1002
apr 14, 7:52pm

Ah, I see >7 BLBera: so I think I'm safe. :-)

11BLBera
apr 14, 7:58pm

You are safe, Ellen. I already put out the welcome mat. You are the first as well.

12bell7
apr 14, 7:59pm

Happy new thread, Beth!

13BLBera
apr 14, 8:04pm

Thanks Mary.

14PaulCranswick
apr 14, 8:46pm

Happy new thread, Beth.

15lauralkeet
apr 14, 9:00pm

>6N OH, that's a fun book, Beth. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

16DeltaQueen50
apr 14, 10:47pm

Happy new thread, Beth. I have The Trouble With Goats and Sheep set aside to read later this year so I was happy to see your positive review.

17charl08
apr 15, 3:27am

>6 BLBera: I am another fan of this one.

Happy new thread!

18katiekrug
apr 15, 8:49am

Happy new thread, Beth!

I commented on Goats and Sheep on the previous thread. Oops.

>6 BLBera: - I have Behind the Scenes at the Museum on tap to read this year as part of my goal to read books that have been on my shelf for 10+ years :)

19karenmarie
apr 15, 9:26am

Hi Beth, and happy new thread. From your previous thread, congrats on getting your second dose of vaccine.

>6 BLBera: I read this one in 2010. It’s still on my shelves, so definitely available for a re-read.

20jessibud2
apr 15, 10:30am

Happy new thread ,Beth. Sweet topper.

21Copperskye
apr 15, 10:58am

>6 BLBera: I loved Behind the Scenes at the Museum. It was nearly a five star read for me.

Happy new thread, Beth!

22mdoris
apr 15, 1:27pm

Happy new thread Beth. Agree, sweet topper! So spring like.

23BLBera
apr 15, 2:11pm

>14 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul.

>15 lauralkeet: I think I should have chosen a less popular book; I usually try to bring people's attention to less well known works. But it was bedtime. :)

>16 DeltaQueen50: Thanks Judy. I will watch for your comments. I know not everyone likes child narrators.

>17 charl08: Thanks Charlotte. Yes, I can't believe it was a first novel. I still have one Atkinson novel that I haven't read. Something to look forward to.

>18 katiekrug: Hi Katie - I saw your comment. No problem. I did respond. I think you'll love Behind the Scenes at the Museum; it was on my shelf for a long time before I read it as well.

>19 karenmarie: Thanks Karen. Yes, I am so happy to be fully vaccinated! Behind the Scenes of the Museum is definitely one I will read again.

24drneutron
apr 15, 2:28pm

Happy new one!

25BLBera
apr 15, 2:31pm

>20 jessibud2: Thanks Shelley.

>21 Copperskye: Thanks Joanne. Atkinson rocks.

>22 mdoris: Hi Mary. Thanks. I was looking for a springy picture from one of Scout's books.

>24 drneutron: Thanks Jim.

26FAMeulstee
apr 15, 4:03pm

Happy new thread, Beth!

27brenzi
apr 15, 7:30pm

Ah Behind the Scenes at the Museum. I read it in 2014. Really good Beth.

28Oregonreader
apr 15, 7:46pm

Hi Beth, The Trouble with Goats and Sheep sounds worth reading. I love books that can give me a laugh or two.

29EBT1002
apr 15, 8:03pm

Behind the Scenes at the Museum is one I have long thought I should reread.

30BLBera
apr 15, 9:32pm

>26 FAMeulstee: Thanks Anita.

>27 brenzi: I need to choose a lesser known book next time, Bonnie.

>28 Oregonreader: I enjoyed Grace a lot, Jan. I know child narrators are not everyone's cup of tea.

>29 EBT1002: Hi Ellen. I have one more unread Atkinson novel on my shelf; then I'll start rereading unless she writes something else soon...

31vivians
apr 16, 10:36am

> I just looked over Atkinson's list and I don't think I ever read Human Croquet. Otherwise I'm a completist and have loved them all, most especially A God in Ruins, one of my all time favorites.

32BLBera
apr 16, 10:40am

I still have to read Emotionally Weird, Vivian. I also have a collection of her stories. I wonder if she is working on something new? Wouldn't that be a treat. I think Life after Life is my favorite.

33LovingLit
apr 17, 6:35pm

>6 BLBera: I have never read Atkinson! I got as far as downloading Transcription to listen to on audio, but for some reason went with a Patrick White novel instead on the day.

34BLBera
apr 17, 6:40pm

You have some great reading ahead, Megan.

35figsfromthistle
apr 17, 9:27pm

Happy new one!

36charl08
apr 18, 4:29am

>32 BLBera: I don't know about her writing plans but Life after Life is being made into a 4 part TV series...

(I have my fingers crossed for more Jackson Brodie.)

37BLBera
apr 18, 10:50am

>35 figsfromthistle: Hi Anita! Thanks.

>36 charl08: Not sure about Life After Life on TV -- the book is always better. But, yes to more Jackson Brodie, even though I think I've heard her say she was tired of him...

38BLBera
apr 18, 11:01am


42. The Liar's Dictionary is an original little book that will appeal to those who love words. It asks us whether it's really possible to define words -- definitively.

The story follows two story lines: lexicographer Peter Winceworth, who is working on the Swansby's Encyclopaedic Dictionary in 1899 and present-day intern Mallory who is working to help digitise the unfinished Swansby. In the course of her work, she begins to find several made-up words.

The plot alternates between the two timelines, and like all stories with this structure, it runs the risk that some stories are more interesting that others. That is the case here. It took almost half the novel for me to become interested in Winceworth's story. The second half of the novel was much better. This is a first novel, though, and I expect that Williams will improve the pacing and structure in future novels.

This is a clever look at language and meaning, and I will look for more work by Williams.

39jessibud2
apr 18, 11:04am

>38 BLBera: - Hit by a BB!

40BLBera
apr 18, 11:14am

I'm always happy to add to others' lists, Shelley!

41BLBera
apr 18, 11:14am



43. The New Jim Crow is a must-read. Alexander's exhaustive research clearly shows the inequality of the US criminal justice system. Some of the eye-opening statistics: "More African American adults are under correctional control today -- in prison or jail, on probation or parole -- than were enslaved in 1850, a decade before the Civil War began." Alexander walks the reader through the process, starting with the leeway police have to stop and search people, to the district attorney's freedom to add charges to convince people to plead guilty to lesser charges. I am shocked at how the courts have whittled away at our fourth and fourteenth amendment rights.

The book is dense, but worth the time.

42Caroline_McElwee
apr 18, 2:07pm

>38 BLBera: I have this on the tbr mountain Beth. I'll read it for my RL book group this year. Glad you enjoyed it.

43Familyhistorian
apr 18, 7:20pm

Happy newish thread!

>41 BLBera: I'm just looking at my library's holdings for that one, Beth. It looks like there were a few revisions over the years.

44msf59
apr 18, 7:24pm

Happy Sunday, Beth! Happy New thread! "The New Jim Crow is a must-read." I completely agree!

Have you read Minor Feelings? If not, it is my current audio and it has been excellent.

45swynn
Redigeret: apr 18, 7:58pm

>41 BLBera: It asks us whether it's really possible to define words -- definitively.

No. So obviously I must read this. Thanks for the rec!

46BLBera
apr 19, 2:17pm

>42 Caroline_McElwee: I'll watch for your comments, Caroline. I think you will like it. It will be interesting to see if it makes for a good discussion.

>43 Familyhistorian: Thanks Meg. I think parts of it were published separately.

>44 msf59: Hi Mark! I will watch for Minor Feelings. I haven't read it.

>45 swynn: Hi Steve - you are welcome. I'll watch for your comments.

47Berly
apr 19, 4:21pm

Hi TwinB! I am a big fan of Atkinson! I don't think I have read everything she has published, but close. I have The Liar's Dictionary waiting for me in one of my many piles, so I will make sure to hang in there until things pick up. : )

48rosalita
apr 19, 6:22pm

>38 BLBera: My library has this one, so I've added myself to the holds list. It sounds intriguing.

49BLBera
apr 19, 6:35pm

I think it's one you will like, Julia. It's short. I'll be interested to hear your thoughts.

50BLBera
apr 19, 6:54pm

>47 Berly: Hey TwinK! I almost missed you. I hope all is well.

51Oregonreader
apr 20, 2:25am

>41 BLBera: I've heard so many good things about The New Jim Crow. Thanks for the reminder to move it up my list!

52BLBera
apr 20, 7:14pm

You are welcome, Jan.

53BLBera
apr 20, 8:39pm


44. Faithful and Virtuous Night is a recent (2014) collection of poems from Louise Glück. I love this collection, filled with stories of sleepless nights watching lights and wandering. Glück presents a sense of melancholy that is beautiful, with just the right words.

Many of the poems are quite long, but one of my shorter favorites:

A Work of Fiction
As I turned over the last page, after many nights, a wave of sorrow envel-
oped me. Where had they all gone, these people who had seemed so real?
To distract myself, I walked out into the night; instinctively, I lit a cigarette.
In the dark, the cigarette glowed, like a fire lit by a survivor. But who would
see this light, this small dot among the infinite stars? I stood awhile in the
dark, the cigarette glowing and growing small, each breath patiently de-
string me. How small it was, how brief. Brief, brief, but inside me now;
which the stars could never be.

She makes a perfect observation and then moves on, in the end to encompass the world. Lovely.

54EBT1002
apr 21, 7:16pm

>38 BLBera: Hmm, I think I'll take a pass on that one and wait for the next work to see if you like it better. :-)

>41 BLBera: I have had The New Jim Crow on my TBR shelves for an embarrassingly long time. I really do intend to read it.....

Meanwhile, I am thoroughly enjoying Homeland Elegies!!!

55BLBera
apr 21, 7:54pm

Hi Ellen - The New Jim Crow is pretty dense; it took me a couple of months to read it, but it is worth it. I learned a lot I didn't know about the criminal justice system. It is pretty shocking.

Adding Homeland Elegies to my list!

In the meantime, I have student writing to read. :) May 12 is our last day of class. Then a week of grading, and I'll be done.

56LovingLit
apr 22, 12:59am

>53 BLBera: I *love* that cover.

57BLBera
apr 22, 7:29am

Hi Megan: It certainly reflects the content!

58Caroline_McElwee
apr 22, 5:18pm

>53 BLBera: Adding to my list Beth. I read two volumes of her work this year, and enjoyed both.

59charl08
apr 22, 6:00pm

Reading Slash and Burn, Beth and thinking it's one you might like (or maybe have read already?) - set in el Salvador.
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/jan/03/slash-and-burn-by-claudia-hernande...

60BLBera
apr 23, 12:29pm

>58 Caroline_McElwee: Caroline, I think your comments inspired me to pick up this collection. I returned it to the library and checked out another one, so I will continue to read Glück.

>59 charl08: Thanks Charlotte - that does sound like my cup of tea!

61ffortsa
Redigeret: apr 25, 12:59pm

Hi, Beth. Your discussion on your last thread, about what to do with items left behind by one's family, is much on my mind. I've gotten rid of a lot of things now that both my parents are gone, but some items linger. Most of the paper is gone. I've scanned most of the pictures, sometimes wondering why I was doing it and who would look at them down the road. There's only one child, now grown, among my siblings, and I doubt he is interested.

As for true artifacts, my father's little medals for honor society awards in middle school and high school - who knew about them? His wedding band, which he never wore. His father's naturalization certificate! A few other small things like that. My maternal grandfather's accordian-style corkscrew. My mother's china, which is simple and beautiful, but I don't give dinner parties.

I'm also in the process of getting rid of my own things, slowly but surely. No children to inherit. Not much of value except my violin and some limited edition books. I suspect it would be nice to 'travel' light.

62PaulCranswick
apr 24, 11:42pm

>53 BLBera: I have also been plugging Gluck's work shamelessly since she won the Nobel as I have read five of her collections already and must say that she deserved the Prize.

I am not done with her this year either as I will definitely read one or two collections before the end of 2021. I am slowly collecting all her books.

Have a great weekend.

63BLBera
apr 25, 10:13am

>62 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul - This is the first collection of Glück's that I've read, but I will certainly read more. I hope you had a great weekend.


45. The Western Wind is excellent historical fiction. It's 1491 in the small English village of Oakham. Lent is approaching, and the village's richest resident is missing and assumed drowned in the raging river. The priest, John Reve is called on to prove the death is accidental in order to protect his parish.

Harvey creates a wet, cold, muddy village, with wonderful descriptions of the dark, dreary days. Much of the action takes place in the church's makeshift confessional, where Reve listens to the villagers confess their sins, and we get a clear picture of the limits of fifteenth century village life.

The novel has an interesting structure; Harvey starts on Shrove Tuesday and goes back in time four days. It sounds odd, but works really well.

I'll read more by Harvey.

64BLBera
apr 25, 10:17am


46. Death Comes to the School is an entertaining mystery that continues the Kurland St. Marys series. In this one, the school teacher is found murdered, and Sir Robert, as magistrate, investigates. As usual, his wife Lucy becomes involved.

This is a lighthearted, undemanding series. I'll continue to follow The Kurland adventures.

65thornton37814
apr 25, 4:02pm

>64 BLBera: I hope I get to the first one in that series this summer.

66SandDune
apr 25, 5:09pm

>63 BLBera: I’ve been meaning to get around to this one.

67BLBera
apr 25, 5:35pm

>65 thornton37814: It's a pleasant series, Lori. I think the first couple are the best, at least so far, but they are entertaining.

>66 SandDune: Hi Rhian. This has been on my list for a while as well. I'm glad I finally read it.

68jessibud2
Redigeret: apr 25, 6:33pm

Late to the conversation about dealing with things left behind. But a few years ago, I read a book that really stayed with me, on this very topic. I thought I had posted my review but I don't see it so it must just have been on my own thread (and goodness knows in which thread that might be!). The book is called They Left Us Everything: A Memoir and I remember including several quotes from the book when I reviewed it. One of the things that struck me was about photos and hand-written letters. The next generation won't have that, since so much is now digitized and to me, that's such a tragedy. Holding real photos and real letters in your hands from loved ones long gone, is something that can't be replicated by staring at a screen. Just my opinion, but author Johnson said it so much more eloquently than I did.

Always, after reading such books, I go on a mad binge of decluttering, trying to unload as much as I can, in order to leave less behind me. But then I get overwhelmed and stop. Sigh... I once heard someone say that we spend the first half of our lives accumulating, and the last half of our lives getting rid of what we've accumulated! So true.

69ffortsa
apr 25, 6:12pm

>68 jessibud2: Right. Having emptied my mother's house, and hearing about Jim and his sister emptying their father's house, I hope to leave as little as possible. I'm more interested now in 'traveling light'. I will always have some books in the house, but aside from that, at this point, everything is transient, even if I am not.

70BLBera
apr 25, 7:18pm

>61 ffortsa: Judy, I missed you. I have some things from my grandmothers that I use. I have quilts that my grandma made that are falling apart, but I am happy to have them and use them. I have some piano music from my other grandmother that I also use. Otherwise, like you, I am thinking that I need fewer things in my life. Especially after being so much in the house over the past year.

>68 jessibud2: Shelley - it is a job. Every spring, I start with good intentions, go through closets, make trips to the thrift shop, and there always seems to be so much left!

>69 ffortsa: My mom is giving away things now, which is nice for the grandchildren. I think these items will mean much more to them. And there will be fewer things to go through when the time comes.

And, yes, I will always have books as well.

71brenzi
Redigeret: apr 25, 8:44pm

I got rid of tons of stuff Beth when we sold my parents house. Then 5 1/2 years ago I sold my house and moved to a much smaller one near my daughter and sold, tossed, gave away a boatload of stuff. I still manage to pile stuff at the curb for the garbage men to take. I decided my granddaughter could take anything she had interest in in my jewelry box. I was never a big jewelry wearer so there's not tons but she loves going through it and trying things on and if she wants something I tell her to take it. 🤷‍♀️

72BLBera
apr 25, 9:39pm

My mom and I do the same with Scout, which makes my daughter mad. :) She doesn't always want stuff either.

73BLBera
apr 25, 9:44pm


47. I Will Judge You by Your Bookshelf is a fun collection of cartoons about readers and writers that book lovers will enjoy. I know I heard about this here on LT, but I don't remember where. Anyway, this is fun to page through.

74Familyhistorian
apr 27, 1:13am

You reminded me, I should look into getting the next Kurland St Mary book. I like that series but I'm trying to go to the library less due to our travel restrictions. It might take me a while.

75EBT1002
apr 27, 2:08pm

Prudence is finally reading The Women of the Copper Country so I should be mailing it to you soon. She is totally caught up in it, might finish it today (ah, the joys of retired life).

76BLBera
apr 27, 4:08pm

>74 Familyhistorian: Hi Meg. How far are you in this series. I think there are just a couple more?

>75 EBT1002: Hi Ellen. No hurry. I am so sorry to hear about your brother's death. Take care.

77figsfromthistle
apr 27, 9:17pm

>63 BLBera: BB! That looks to be quite interesting.

Hope you are having a great week so far

78BLBera
apr 27, 9:53pm

Hi Anita: School is winding down, so things are busy with panicked students.

79BLBera
apr 27, 10:01pm

My book club is reading The Dutch House this month. I'd read it before and didn't love it, so I found an audiobook of Tom Hanks reading it, and my attitude toward the book is changing. Hanks is really selling Danny as the narrator. Really interesting how this is changing my perspective of the book.

80charl08
apr 28, 2:07am

>79 BLBera: I listened to him read it too, Beth. I think I spaced it out too much (only listened when I went for a long walk, so maybe once or twice a week). But I did enjoy his reading!

81LovingLit
apr 28, 4:40am

>73 BLBera: I *will* judge you by your bookshelf. I mean that ;)

82karenmarie
apr 28, 8:10am

Hi Beth!

>79 BLBera: Different book, almost the same experience. I abandoned Room, a RL book club choice, but after we met to discuss it one of the women loaned me her audiobook of it and I loved it.

83BLBera
apr 28, 6:24pm

>80 charl08: I'm not much of an audiobook listener, Charlotte, but when I start one, I try to keep with it, or I do lose the thread. This one is easier because I had already read the book. I'm going to have to look back at my comments.

>81 LovingLit: Hi Megan. My mom saw the book and laughed; I have a lot of bookshelves...

>82 karenmarie: That is really interesting, Karen. I wonder why listening can be a better reading experience.

84Caroline_McElwee
apr 29, 4:05am

>79 BLBera: Interesting Beth. It's a while since I listened to an audiobook. I'm fussy about voices.

85BLBera
apr 30, 11:27am

I am not a big fan of audiobooks either, Caroline. Mostly because my mind tends to wander. This is working for me though and giving me a different way of looking at The Dutch House. I am anxious to discuss with my book club; I imagine some others have also listened to it.

86BLBera
maj 1, 6:37pm


49. Klara and the Sun

Klara is an AF, or artificial friend. As the novel opens, Klara is waiting to be chosen. When a young girl, Josie, chooses Klara, Klara finds herself in a trouble household. Josie is very sick and may die.

Ishiguro chooses to write the story from Klara's point of view, a risky choice, but he manages to do a brilliant job. Amazingly, we see the world from Klara's eyes, as she describes the "boxes" she sees and how people are a series of shapes, until her brain can sort them out. People are categorized by their dogs or clothing: "raincoat man" and "dog leash woman."

While Klara is curious and likes to observe, there are limitations to her abilities. As the novel progresses, we see that Klara, as aware as she is, will never be wholly human. There is something missing. That, I think, is at the core of Ishiguro's novel, the question of what makes us human.

87banjo123
maj 1, 6:50pm

>86 BLBera: What an interesting premise for a book!
Thanks for the review.

And happy weekend!

88BLBera
maj 1, 7:05pm

It is very interesting, Rhonda. I'm still thinking about it. Happy weekend to you! It's HOT here today!

89brenzi
maj 1, 9:33pm

>86 BLBera: Hmmm I ended up not being able to determine whether or not I liked or hated Never Let Me Go. This artificial intelligence Beth, seems like it might strike me very much the same way. Yet I'm tempted to try it. I actually wish Ishiguro would return to writing books like The Remains of the Day or When We Were Orphans. I'm probably the only one though.

90BLBera
maj 2, 9:59am

Hi Bonnie! I thought Never Let Me Go was creepy, but it certainly made me think about it for a long time. Klara and the Sun has a very different feel to it. I think Ishiguro is asking what makes us human, and while Klara isn't quite there, I think she comes close, which adds another layer to the story. I really liked it.

91rosalita
maj 2, 1:19pm

>90 BLBera: So is Klara like a robot who can move and talk, or like a blowup doll, or is she just in Josie's imagination? I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around the concept but it sounds intriguing.

92EBT1002
maj 2, 1:20pm

>90 BLBera: Glad you said that you liked Klara and the Sun. I will add it to my list.

The Women of the Copper Country and Homeland Elegies are headed your way this week. :-)

93BLBera
maj 2, 3:34pm

>91 rosalita: Klara is a robot but she looks like a person. Really advanced AI. It was very cool the way Ishiguro described Klara's perception of things.

>92 EBT1002: Ellen! Thanks! It is an early birthday present. May is my birthday month, and we share the day. No hurry. I do have a few things to read... I think you might like Klara and the Sun, very thought-provoking.

94SandDune
maj 4, 7:32am

>93 BLBera: I’m hoping to read Klara and the Sun soon. Mr SandDune read it recently and wasn’t taken with it but I’m hopeful - we frequently disagree about books.

95ursula
maj 4, 8:19am

I am interested in reading more Ishiguro, though I'm not entirely sure how I feel about him. I have read Never Let Me Go, which I liked more in retrospect than when I was reading it, The Remains of the Day, which I liked, and The Unconsoled, which I remember absolutely nothing about. I had already put Klara and the Sun on my library wishlist.

96BLBera
maj 4, 7:20pm

>94 SandDune: I'll watch for your comments on Klara and the Sun, Rhian. It is certainly original, and I think Ishiguro does a great job with Klara.

>95 ursula: I remember being creeped out by Never Let Me Go, Ursula, but I thought about it for a long time. I loved The Buried Giant. I remember liking The Remains of the Day, but I read it so long ago. He certainly varies his subject matter.

97lauralkeet
maj 4, 7:24pm

Hi Beth, I wanted to let you know that Toni Morrison's A Mercy is next up for me, after the book I'm starting tonight. Not intending to apply pressure or anything, just keeping you informed.

98BLBera
maj 4, 7:35pm

Thanks for letting me know, Laura. I could fit it in after the one I'm reading now, I think. I've been trying to get through my library books before they are due. It takes a long time to get through the reserve list now that there are no fines and they leave books on hold for two weeks!

I do have The Mercy on my desk. It's a short one.

99charl08
Redigeret: maj 5, 6:26pm

>86 BLBera: I returned this to the library unread as I had far too many out and people were waiting for it. I'm hoping I'll either catch it again when it's not so popular at the library or find it in paperback. I wondered how it (or if it) touched on any of the same issues as Winterson's Frankissstein?

100BLBera
maj 5, 9:53pm

>99 charl08: Charlotte, what a great question. I hadn't thought about it, but it does although since Klara and the Sun is told from Klara's point of view, it's very different. I loved Frankissstein. I should read it again. I just got my copy of Slash and Burn in the mail and, of course, subscribed to And Other Stories. What a great way to get books by underrepresented writers!

101thornton37814
maj 6, 8:27am

>99 charl08: I recently returned a couple of books to the library unread. I decided I didn't really want to read them at the moment and could find them again when I was in the mood for them.

102BLBera
maj 7, 8:49pm


When I first read The Dutch House last year, I had these comments:
50. The Dutch House kept me turning the pages. It seems that it is very plot driven, maybe more than others of Patchett's. While I loved much about the novel, especially the relationship between Danny and Maeve, I think the choice of Danny as the narrator kept me at a distance. Danny is very detached. Besides those two characters, the others didn't seem as vivid, and I found Andrea to be a bit of a caricature. Still, a solid novel, and I zipped through it to finish it as my last January read.

I reread it for my book club, and this time I listened to Tom Hanks read it. I felt a much deeper appreciation for Danny, and actually liked the book a lot more. Interesting. I look forward to our discussion next week.

103BLBera
maj 7, 8:50pm

>101 thornton37814: That is the advantage of library books, Lori. We can always find them again.

104PaulCranswick
maj 7, 10:56pm

>86 BLBera: I am getting more used to the idea that Ishiguro may have written another gem! BB!

>102 BLBera: That is a quick re-read, Beth.

105BLBera
maj 8, 11:16am

>104 PaulCranswick: Hi Paul! I really liked Klara and the Sun, but I have seen varied opinions about it.

106BLBera
maj 8, 11:37am


51. Exciting Times
Ava is an Irish expat living in Hong Kong. She is teaching English for pay that barely covers her rent. She meets Julian, an English banker in a bar and soon moves in with him. Then she meets Edith, and her life becomes more complicated.

Told in first person, at first I enjoyed Ava's sarcasm: "Like shark's teeth, teachers dropped out and were replaced. Most were backpackers who left once they'd save enough to find themselves in Thailand. I had no idea who I was, but doubted the Thais would know either." But Ava keeps both the people in her life and the reader at a distance, so I began to find her monologues tedious. It might also be that I am over reading about twenty-somethings finding themselves?

Dolan does have a way with words though and I enjoyed the bits about language. The writing allowed me to get through the novel. I'll look for her next one.

107katiekrug
maj 8, 12:35pm

>106 BLBera: - I find myself less and less tolerant of books about 20-somethings acting foolishly. I didn't mind them so much when I was that age, despite not being foolish...

Hope you have a good weekend, Beth! School year almost over?

108BLBera
maj 8, 1:47pm

The good writing saved this book, Katie, but I did find her tiresome after the first half. And it isn't just because of her age; I loved Writers & Lovers. It could be that the character in King's book was much more accessible? Interesting question.

I hope your weekend is wonderful. I get to have brunch with my girls tomorrow.

Last day of class is Wednesday! Then a few days of grading and I am taking a week off!

109ursula
maj 8, 2:04pm

>106 BLBera: I read that one last month. I agree that the character of Ava was not very accessible. I was not surprised to read that Naoise Dolan is on the autism spectrum.

110BLBera
maj 8, 4:02pm

>109 ursula: That is really interesting, Ursula. I wonder if Ava is meant to be on the spectrum? That would make sense.

111EBT1002
Redigeret: maj 9, 3:24pm

>106 BLBera: I bought that one at a bookstore in Oregon when I visited a few weeks ago. I think it was because it was long-listed for the women's prize. Glad to know it's a worthwhile read -- and the note ^ about possibly being on the spectrum might help me with the tedious bits.

112BLBera
maj 9, 4:17pm

Hi Ellen - I'll watch for your comments. It's one of those books with great writing, but on the whole it didn't work for me. I would like to hear other comments about it.

113ursula
maj 11, 4:37am

>110 BLBera: I am guessing so, although I don't know if the author said that specifically. I just looked up something about her, saw that she is, and it seemed to fit with the character of Ava.

114vivians
maj 11, 11:29am

>106 BLBera: I also found it tedious, and my reaction to Luster was similar. Maybe it's a generational thing, although I did love Normal People which is often placed in that same category of twenty-something angst.

115ffortsa
maj 11, 1:15pm

>107 katiekrug: I hear you about not tolerating the follies of 20somethings. I just read Memoirs of an Ex-Prom Queen - or most of it - some I just had to skip - and overjoyed to give it away. Why did I read it? On my shelf. When should I have read it? Probably before it was published, or never.

116BLBera
maj 11, 2:04pm

>113 ursula: It does fit, Ursula.

>114 vivians: Vivian, I remember your comments. I should have heeded them; we usually agree about books. I might pass on Luster. There's a long wait at the library, and life is short. I did love Normal People, which was about something at least. I guess I'll wait and see how I feel when it is finally available.

>115 ffortsa: Sometimes when I'm reading those books, I wonder if I am too old for them, Judy. But then I did love Normal People.

117lauralkeet
maj 11, 3:07pm

I was surprised how much I liked Normal People. And even more surprised when my book club members (all ladies of a certain age) were also unanimously positive.

118BLBera
maj 11, 3:28pm

Perhaps Normal People was just a better book than Exciting Times.

119BLBera
maj 11, 3:44pm


52. Death and the Maiden is the final novel in the Mistress of the Art of Death series. This one focuses on Adelia's daughter and takes place after Henry II's death. In the earlier books, Henry was a dynamic presence and I missed him. I also missed Adelia; Allie isn't as interesting as Adelia is, so although I did enjoy one last visit to this world, the earlier novels are better.

120vivians
maj 11, 4:00pm

Oh no - another series! This one sounds right up my alley but I'm never going to catch up.

121BLBera
maj 11, 5:16pm

Didn't you already start this one, Vivian? I thought we had been talking about this on your thread recently? There are only four or five books in the series.

122figsfromthistle
Redigeret: maj 11, 6:23pm

>86 BLBera: I have this one in my virtual shopping basket. Sounds interesting.

>102 BLBera: This one has been on my list for a while. I really need to check if my library has it.

Hope you are having a great week!

123DeltaQueen50
maj 11, 7:06pm

Hi Beth, you've reminded me that I still need to finish a couple of books in the the Ariana Franklin series. And I have to admit, like many of your visitors, I have little patience with twenty-something angst - perhaps old age does make one less tolerant!

124vivians
maj 12, 10:32am

>121 BLBera: I recently read The Siege Winter by Franklin and I remember you mentioning her other works. I guess I forgot to make a note in my series notebook (no spreadsheet for me!) and it totally flew out of my mind! Glad to get the reminder.

125BLBera
maj 12, 10:46am

>122 figsfromthistle: Hi Anita - Both Klara and the Sun and The Dutch House are good. I'll watch for your comments when you get to them. Today is the last day of school, so I have some days of grading ahead.

>123 DeltaQueen50: Hi Judy! I think the earlier books in the series are the best, but still it is a solid series. I love the time period.

>124 vivians: Oh yes! Now I remember. Mistress of the Art of Death is the first one and the best one, I think. FictFact was so helpful with series although I do like the series function in LT. At least I can look up to see what comes next.

126Berly
maj 14, 2:21am

Hi Twin! Glad to hear you are almost done with school and you get some time off! I am almost finished with Klara and the Sun and I am loving it. About 50 pages to go -- should finish this weekend. Hugs.

127charl08
maj 14, 4:06am

Just popping my head in! Hope the marking is sorted and you have some free time to relax soon.

128BLBera
maj 14, 12:25pm


53. The Searcher tells the story of retired policeman Cal Hooper. After his retirement and divorce, he has moved to Ireland. As he works on his dilapidated cottage and tries to get to know the small town, he is drawn into a search for a young man who disappeared. A younger sibling of the missing man asks Cal to use his skills to find Brendan.

French does a good job building the tension as Cal tries to search, knowing that he is disadvantaged by his unfamiliarity with the people and the place. The setting is wonderfully described. It makes me want to return to Ireland.

129BLBera
maj 14, 12:29pm

>126 Berly: Just finished grading, TwinK. I hope all is well in the empty nest!

>127 charl08: I just finished, Charlotte. I have my book group in a bit, and then some yard work this afternoon. Then I plan to look at my books and think about summer reading. :)

130streamsong
maj 14, 3:57pm

Hi Beth - I'm definitely interested in Klara and the Sun. I had seen it mentioned here on LT and had it on my list - now it's moved up. I don't think (?) you've succumbed to the Murderbot series, but they ask some of the same questions about AI and life.

My book club is currently reading Homo Deus, which is a longish philosophical book about what makes humans human and where we are likely to go next. I honestly didn't think that I would like it, but it's quite fascinating. Hooray for book clubs! When I'm done with this, I'll give Klara a try and see how Ishiguro answers the questions.

131Caroline_McElwee
maj 14, 4:09pm

How long do you have off Beth? I'm part way through a fortnight off. It's so lovely being able to just go with the flow.

132BLBera
maj 15, 9:08am


54. The War that Saved My Life
I loved this prize-winning novel for young readers. The protagonist, ten-year-old Ada, is a great character. Ada is born with a club foot. She lives in one room with her little brother Jamie and an abusive mother. Mam confines Ada to the room, so Ada's life experience is limited to what she can see from the window.

When London's children are evacuated as the war is beginning, Ada escapes with her brother to the country and there finds a new life. She is stubborn, prickly and mistrustful, but over the course of the novel, I admire her more and more.

I wonder if the abuse might be scary for some young readers, but I will definitely pass this on to Scout. I think, though, if she does read this, she is going to want a pony.

133BLBera
maj 15, 9:11am

>130 streamsong: Hi Janet - I do have the Murderbot series on my list. They are very popular at the library. That is another thing to add to my summer reading list.

I am going to check out Homo Deus as well; it sounds interesting.

>131 Caroline_McElwee: Hi Caroline. Classes start again in mid-August. Of course, I do have some prep work to do over the summer, but mostly I will focus on my house and garden and reading. Yes, it is nice to be able to dawdle over coffee in the morning.

134charl08
maj 15, 12:33pm

>132 BLBera: But am I going to be able to read it without wanting one? Saw a whole field of miniature ponies (maybe 6?) on holiday and was rather envious. So cute!

135BLBera
maj 15, 1:13pm

>134 charl08: I don't know, Charlotte. You might want a pony after reading this. I had a pony and it was mean, so I am immune.

136brenzi
maj 15, 8:29pm

>132 BLBera: I don't know Beth. That sounds like a rough read for kids, even with a pony lol.

137BLBera
maj 15, 9:25pm

>136 brenzi: I'm not sure either, Bonnie. One thing about Scout, if something upsets her, she tells us to stop reading. I think if we tell her about it before we start, she might be OK. Or, we might have to wait a year or so. I'll leave it up to my daughter.

138scaifea
maj 16, 8:55am

>132 BLBera: Oh, I loved that one so much. How old is Scout now? I've found that Charlie is much more resilient with stories than I tend to give him credit for, and like Scout, he's always been great about letting me know if a particular book is too much for him and then we stop.

139BLBera
maj 16, 10:32am

Hi Amber - Can you believe it? Scout will be 8 in August!

140charl08
maj 16, 10:38am

>135 BLBera: I seemed to miss the pony craze at the right age: perhaps I don't have the gene? I do enjoy seeing them when I am out walking though.

141Carmenere
maj 16, 1:44pm

Happy Sunday, Beth! Are you on summer vacation?
I'm reading Whereabouts too. I'm looking forward to your thoughts.

142BLBera
maj 16, 3:55pm

>140 charl08: I missed out on it as well, Charlotte.

>141 Carmenere: I am now officially on break, Lynda. I just finished Whereabouts; it reminded me a lot of The Friend. I'm going to think about it a bit before I comment.

143banjo123
maj 16, 6:07pm

So nice that you are on break, Beth! And I am amazed that Scout is 8.

I do think that I have a tendency to prefer books about folks closer to me in age. But a good enough writer can make that irrelevant.

144DeltaQueen50
maj 16, 10:56pm

Hooray for breaks - hopefully you will have plenty of time for reading and doing the things that you enjoy!

145BLBera
maj 17, 8:36am

>143 banjo123: It is nice to be on break, Rhonda, especially the first couple of weeks when I don't feel any pressure to do school work. I think you are right: A good writer makes age difference irrelevant. I think there's also something about character. Some characters who are young, I can sympathize with, or understand, so if there isn't that connection, the book tends to leave me cold. I loved Normal People and Writers & Lovers, for example.

>144 DeltaQueen50: Indeed, Judy. Breaks are wonderful!

146BLBera
maj 17, 8:43am


55. Whereabouts is a slim novel about the life of a single woman as she goes about her life. It reads like a journal with lots of short entries: "On the Sidewalk," "In the Office," and "In my Head." Indeed, much of the novel is in her head.

This is very different from Lahiri's other novels. It reminds me very much of The Friend. This would not be for people who want a plot.

Still, the writing is elegant. Lots of simple sentences, but the language is effective. I find it interesting that Lahiri wrote it in Italian and translated it to English.

147BLBera
maj 17, 8:51am


56. Ocean Prey is the latest Lucas Davenport novel. I miss the Minnesota setting, and I wonder if the series is getting a little tired...

Still, Sandford does keep one turning the pages.

In this entry, Lucas is called to help find some drug smugglers who killed three Coast Guards. There's a lot of the usual: kicking down doors, interrogations, etc. I thought it was about 100 pages too long. Not one of the best of this series.

It may have suffered in comparison with the Lahiri. :)

148BLBera
maj 17, 9:09am


57. Jacob's Room Is Full of Books is subtitled "A Year of Reading," but Hill could have added a year of bird watching and daily observations. She comments on the weather, bookshops, and book prizes, among other things. I loved it! Any book lover would appreciate her comments on not being able to settle on a book, checking out the shelves in a vacation rental, and being disappointed after rereading an old favorite.

Hill doesn't mince words, yet she is not malicious. I did laugh out loud as I read about her Christmas preparations, choosing books for various family members. Suddenly, set apart in a separate section of text, she asks, "Has Donald Trump ever read a book?" Something we've all wondered...

Some choice bits: "Most great books yield their full meaning slowly."

"One book leads to another is the rule of life..."

"We all have massive gaps in our reading. Which is good, we need gaps -- for the pleasure of filling them."

"Reading is magic. Books are magic. It starts when we are shown pictures books and realize there is another world beyond the everyday one we know."

I like that the books she mentioned are included in a list at the end. I added several to my WL.

I loved Howard's End Is on the Landing as well and hope she does another.

149Copperskye
maj 17, 12:22pm

>148 BLBera: I also loved Howard's End is on the Landing and didn't realize Hill wrote another like it. I need to look for it!

150BLBera
maj 17, 7:20pm

There's a lot more about birds and her surroundings in this one, Joanne, but if you loved the first one, I think Jacob's Room Is Full of Books is a safe bet. I read it in the morning with my coffee over a month or so. I am sorry it's done. I hope she does another.

151jessibud2
maj 17, 7:21pm

152brenzi
maj 17, 8:13pm

Another fan of Howards End is on the Landing here, Beth so I will look for this newest Hill. I've got the Lahiri on my Overdrive list, as a matter of fact it's ready to borrow but then so are two others so I'll just put it back on hold and think about it some more.

153BLBera
maj 17, 10:01pm

>151 jessibud2: It's a good one!

>152 brenzi: You will love the Hill book, Bonnie. Have you read The Friend? I think if you liked that, you will like the new Lahiri.

154charl08
maj 18, 6:20am

I have missed the Lahiri and the Hill so am now, of course, very tempted! I read an essay by Lahiri about shifting to Italian and found it fascinating. I can't begin to imagine the work involved in that process.

From your reviews sounds like your break is off to a good start!

155rosalita
maj 18, 7:27am

I'm glad you're enjoying the start of your summer break, Beth. I look forward to hearing mor about the great reading ahead of you.

156lauralkeet
maj 18, 8:07am

Beth, I was interested to read your thoughts on the new Jhumpa Lahiri book. I haven't been drawn to it for some reason, but I absolutely loved her earlier work.

157BLBera
maj 18, 10:04am

>154 charl08: Hi Charlotte - You could zip through the Lahiri in an afternoon, if you wanted. I found that it lent itself to reading, reflection, repeat. I loved the Hill memoir and hope she does another.

>155 rosalita: Hi Julia - Yes, I am trying to make a list of all I want to accomplish, as usual, probably a little ambitious. Oh well.

>156 lauralkeet: Hi Laura - Lahiri's new book is very different from her previous work. But, did you read The Friend? If you liked that, you will probably like the Lahiri. I think maybe The Friend had a little more substance, but the style is similar. Still, I don't know that this is one I'll remember in a year...

158lauralkeet
maj 18, 12:40pm

I haven't read The Friend, Beth. I considered it, but never quite got around to it. As they say: so many books.

159Berly
maj 18, 8:55pm

Happy, happy birthday, Twin!!!

160brenzi
maj 18, 9:05pm

I loved The Friend Beth. Oh and Happy Birthday!

161BLBera
maj 18, 9:55pm

>159 Berly: Gracias, TwinK!

>160 brenzi: Thanks Bonnie.

162BLBera
maj 18, 9:56pm

>158 lauralkeet: Laura, I'd read The Friend before Whereabouts.

163rosalita
maj 19, 6:11am

Is it your birthday, Beth? I hope you have a splendid day!

164BLBera
maj 19, 7:33am

Yesterday, Julia. It was a nice day. Talked to my sisters, listened to Yaa Gyasi speak and zoomed with a friend.

165karenmarie
Redigeret: maj 28, 8:46am

Hi Beth!

>83 BLBera: I almost never like women narrators, which leaves out a lot of audiobooks. I also rarely listen to audiobooks anymore. I only listen to audiobooks in my car and since retiring I’ve cut my listening time from 1.5 hours/day – 5 days a week to less than an hour a week Covid, and perhaps 1.5 hours a week pre-Covid.

>142 BLBera: Congrats for being officially on break.

>148 BLBera: I still haven’t read the copy of Howard’s End on the Landing I’ve had on my shelves for 2013. One of these days…

Belated Happy Birthday!

166lauralkeet
maj 19, 7:40am

Happy belated birthday, Beth!

167jessibud2
maj 19, 8:36am

Happy birthday, Beth!

168BLBera
maj 19, 8:49am


58. The Carrying

The first stanza of "Sway":
What is it about words that make the world
fit easier? Air and time.

In this collection, Limón does make the world "fit easier." She combines her close observations of the world with her inner life and relationships to make sense of life. Powerful stuff.

169BLBera
maj 19, 8:51am

>165 karenmarie: Hi Karen - I am not much for audiobooks either, but recently, I have found some that work for me. I don't have strong feelings about the gender of the reader. In fact, I think the best ones make me forget about them altogether.

Thanks for the birthday wishes.

>166 lauralkeet:, >167 jessibud2: Thanks!

170vivians
maj 19, 9:45am

Missed it but sending best wishes anyway!

171katiekrug
maj 19, 9:45am

Happy belated birthday, Beth!

172BLBera
maj 19, 10:14am

Thanks Vivian and Katie.

173Caroline_McElwee
maj 19, 5:55pm

>148 BLBera: I loved both the Hill books, with Howard's End is on the Landing being my fave by a whisker Beth.

174jessibud2
maj 19, 6:38pm

>173 Caroline_McElwee: - Uh-oh. another BB. It's dangerous in here!

175LovingLit
maj 20, 1:30am

>106 BLBera: That cover is reminiscent of a Mark Haddon one ....let me see if I can source it...yup- here it is!


176Carmenere
maj 20, 8:04am

Happy belated birthday, Beth!! Hope you had an outstanding day.

I think your feelings on Whereabouts are similar to mine. Those expecting the usual Lahiri might be disappointed but the novel has some merit to it.

177BLBera
maj 20, 9:59am

>173 Caroline_McElwee: Hi Caroline - I agree; Howard's End Is on the Landing wins by a hair. I do hope she manages another.

>174 jessibud2: I'm always happy to add to others' lists!

>175 LovingLit: They are similar! Interesting.

>176 Carmenere: Thanks Lynda. I'll hop to your thread to see your comments on Whereabouts.

178EBT1002
maj 21, 1:18pm

>132 BLBera: "I think, though, if she does read this, she is going to want a pony." Cracked me up. And I'm going to see if our library has a copy of that book for young readers.

Happy Belated Birthday, Beth!

I know your summer has started -- yay for easier days!!

And I'm now obsessed with acquiring copies of Howard's End Is on the Landing and Jacob's Room is Full of Books. What an interesting writer she seems to be!

179BLBera
maj 21, 1:56pm

You will love both of them, Ellen.

Thanks for the birthday wishes -- I did get a present from you. The books arrived the day before. :)

Oh, and too late for the pony; Scout already wants one. A friend of hers has one.

180BLBera
maj 22, 12:47pm


60. Gem of the Ocean
This is the first play in August Wilson's series of ten plays set in the twentieth century. It is set in 1904 in Pittsburgh. The characters are struggling with the idea of freedom; despite Emancipation, they are not finding that their lives are easier. Set in Pittsburgh, Aunt Ester, a two-hundred-year-old woman provides refuge to people in trouble.

I would love to see this performed. There are lots of long monologues, but I would like to see it staged.

The work set in the teens is Joe Turner's Come and Gone, so that will be the next one I read.

181BLBera
maj 22, 5:21pm


61. One Two Three is an excellent character-driven novel. The title refers to Mab, Monday, and Mirabel Mitchell, triplets born in the town of Bourne after Belsum Chemical plant turned Bourne's river bright green. The pollution of the tap water turned the town into a place filled with cancer victims and children with birth defects. As the owners of Belsum return sixteen years later, intent on reopening the plant, the sisters decide they must act. This is the story of the poor and powerless fighting for their right to a healthy environment.

As the novel begins, the triplets are sixteen. They tell the story, each sister in turn. And each sister's voice is distinct. One, Mab, escaped the effects of the chemical. She seems like a normal teenager. Two, Monday, wears only yellow and is on the spectrum. She has trouble with figurative language: "I did not write anything in my essay because there is no point in doing my homework, but if I were going to do my homework what I would have written is 'Emily Dickinson means for me, the reader, to be confused. I am. So she has done her job. And so have I...' Mrs. Lasserstein says I am being too literal, but there is no such thing as too literal. Literal does not come in degrees. That is like being too seventy-seven point four." Three, Mirabel, is wheel-chair bound and speaks only through a voice synthesizer. Because she can only move one hand, she does things slowly, giving her time to think and observe. She is brilliant.

The sisters' and the town's story is compelling, and as we read, we are cheering for all the challenged people of this damaged town.

182Caroline_McElwee
maj 22, 5:30pm

Belated Happy Birthday Beth.

183BLBera
maj 22, 6:48pm

Thanks Caroline.

184Berly
maj 22, 10:25pm

>181 BLBera: That one sounds fascinating!! Why do people with twins, triplets, etc, give kids names that start with the same letter? Why?! LOL

185BLBera
maj 22, 10:35pm

Hey TwinK! Do you want my copy? I am ready to send it to a new home...

186Berly
maj 22, 10:41pm

I'd love it!! Thanks. : ) You'll have to keep an eye out for one I can send your way, okay?

187PaulCranswick
maj 22, 10:53pm

Happy belated birthday, Beth!

Lots of great reading and book bulleted especially by the Susan Hill!

188charl08
maj 23, 2:40am

>181 BLBera: Sounds like a good one, adding it to the list. You've reminded me too that there's an NF book on a water poisoning scandal that I want to read. Will have to find the title!

190AbbieSanders
maj 23, 8:17am

Denne bruger er blevet fjernet som værende spam.

191BLBera
maj 23, 8:31am

>186 Berly: It's yours. You sent me Transcendent Kingdom, so we're even. I do like to find good homes for books I've read. I think you'll like this one.

>187 PaulCranswick: Thanks Paul. Yes, it's amazing how much time I have to read now that I am on break.

>188 charl08: Let me know, Charlotte.

>189 rosalita: Is it a good one, Julia? Sometimes those NF books are SO depressing. And scary. I was thinking about this novel as I was drinking water from my tap yesterday. :)

192rosalita
Redigeret: maj 23, 1:28pm

>191 BLBera: Hi, Beth. I felt like I learned a lot from Toms River about how hard it is to prove that specific sources of pollution are causing cancer clusters in a location, which in my naïveté I had assumed science had pretty well figured out. Mostly it was infuriating to read about the multiple ways government entities failed to hold the polluters accountable for the damage they caused, or even actively helped cover it up. We need to demand more from the people we elect to serve us, starting at the most local levels.

193BLBera
maj 23, 10:30am

Wow, Julia, that sounds a lot like the premise for the novel One Two Three. The lawsuit has been going on for sixteen years at the start of the novel.

194charl08
maj 23, 11:05am

>189 rosalita: I don't think so, but it also sounds like one I should read! Adding it to the wishlist. Thank you.

195DeltaQueen50
maj 26, 3:31am

I have a horse-loving granddaughter, Beth, and going to the stables sure keeps her busy. She and another girl have a joint lease on a horse, which means they split the responsibilities and the riding time. Her parents thought this would be a better alternative to her actually buying her own horse. We keep thinking that she will grow out of wanting to spend all her time at the stables but she's going to be sixteen in August and shows no sign of tiring of her 4-legged friends.

196BLBera
maj 26, 12:47pm

>195 DeltaQueen50: I have friends with horses, Judy, and the lease sounds like a sensible way to go. Horses are SO expensive. I don't see one in Scout's immediate future. We'll see though.

197BLBera
maj 26, 1:00pm


63. Miss Treadway and the Field of Stars is a first novel and it shows.
The premise is that actress Iolanthe Green disappears and her dresser, Anna Treadway, decides to search for her.

First, the strengths: Emmerson has created a great group of interesting, complex characters.

But, the plot and setting really let me down. There is a lot of running around and searching, but it is hard to see, until close to the end, what Anna's motivation is. And I still don't understand the motivation of Aloysius or Hayes. And I get no real sense of the time or place. Supposedly the novel is set in 1965, but apart from a mention of the Beatles, I don't get any feeling for the time. I like novels that are firmly rooted in place and time.

So this was disappointing although not without promise.

198banjo123
Redigeret: maj 26, 4:34pm

Happy belated birthday, Beth! >181 BLBera: sounds interesting...

199laytonwoman3rd
Redigeret: maj 26, 8:17pm

>180 BLBera: You remind me that I want to get to Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Beth. I thought Gem of the Ocean was very powerful, although there's little action, and not even much dialogue, so I have trouble imagining how it would work on stage.

200BLBera
maj 26, 6:06pm

>198 banjo123: Thanks Rhonda. It was really good; I think you'd like One Two Three. I sent it to Kim, so maybe she will pass it on when she's done...

>199 laytonwoman3rd: Hi Linda - yes. I would love to see Gem of the Ocean staged.

201BLBera
maj 29, 11:19am


64. Secrets of Happiness
In this novel, Silber follows several tangentially related characters through their lives. One asks, "Who knew where happiness comes from?" No one really answers the question, except that money certainly doesn't buy happiness. In fact, the wealthiest people in the novel seem to be the most miserable.

There are many references to Buddhism, but Silber isn't pushing any doctrine. Instead, she shows several characters -- some more likable than others -- who are all living their lives in the best way they can.

I really liked this novel, or collection of connected stories; each person has a distinctive voice, and it was fun to discover the connections among them.

202laytonwoman3rd
maj 29, 12:44pm

>201 BLBera: I think that one goes on my list. Thanks, Beth!

203BLBera
maj 29, 1:13pm

It's a good one, Linda. You are very welcome.

204witchyrichy
maj 30, 11:53am

I am going to have to come back and review all your books but added Behind the Scenes at the Museum to my list.

Mostly saying hello and wishing you well before you start a new thread!

205BLBera
maj 31, 8:25am

Hi Karen. Thanks for stopping by. Behind the Scenes at the Museum is great.

206BLBera
Redigeret: jun 2, 9:04am


65. A Is for Alibi is the first in the Kinsey Millhone series. I started the series years ago and am returning to them from the beginning. I appreciate the homage to Chandler and Hammett. Millhone is a modern version of the hardboiled detective, and Grafton's style is fittingly terse and to the point.

Kinsey talks directly to the reader, drawing us into her world. In this first novel of the series, she begins by telling us she recently killed someone, and it bothers her. Then, she tells us about being hired to clear a woman convicted of killing her husband. Kinsey walks us through the day-to-day tasks involved in her work.

This was better than I expected. I look forward to see how the series progresses.

207rosalita
jun 2, 9:25am

>206 BLBera: I really loved that series, Beth. I loved how Grafton wrote in Kinsey's voice. She seemed like the kind of person I'd like to hang out with.

208BLBera
jun 2, 11:15am

Hi Julia - I think I am appreciating the books more this time than when I first read them.

209rosalita
jun 2, 2:41pm

>208 BLBera: I haven't read the early ones since they first came out, I don't think. I did stick with it all the way through Y, and was still enjoying them at the end. So sad she didn't make it all the way through the alphabet.

210BLBera
jun 2, 5:31pm

Well, it's good to know that I have 24 good ones yet to come!

211scaifea
jun 3, 8:02am

>206 BLBera: I keep thinking that one of these days I'll start that series. It really does sound good!

212BLBera
jun 3, 9:40am

Well, Amber, I've been thinking about it for years as well. Who knows when I'll get to the next one!

213BLBera
Redigeret: jun 3, 9:47am



66. Life in the Garden
I'm probably not the intended audience for this book, but I love Lively's writing, and I enjoyed reading her thoughts about gardens. She discusses gardens in art and in novels, gardens as an indicator of class, and allotments, to mention a few of her topics.

As I read, I often had the urge to look up the flowers she discussed, or the paintings she described.

I especially liked her chapter on time and order: "Gardening, you escape the tether of time, you experience the elision of past, present, and future."

And I LOVE the cover.

I am looking for a new home for this book; if you would like my copy, PM me your address and it's yours.

214charl08
Redigeret: jun 3, 10:27am

>213 BLBera: Wow, that is a stunning cover. I've had mixed success with Lively's books though.

ETA UK one nice, but not as nice.

215mdoris
jun 3, 10:48am

>213 BLBera: Hi Beth. That is a book that I'm sure I would like and my library has a copy. Lucky day!

216Caroline_McElwee
jun 3, 11:52am

>206 BLBera: I have this near the top of the tbr mountain Beth. I've heard a lot of love for Grafton, so bought the first two books. Glad it was a hit for you.

217BLBera
jun 3, 12:59pm

Life in the Garden is spoken for.

218BLBera
jun 3, 1:01pm

>214 charl08: Hi Charlotte - Yes, I do, for once, like my cover. I love Lively. I will read anything she writes.

>215 mdoris: Hi Mary - I think any gardener will love this.

>216 Caroline_McElwee: I liked it much more than I expected, Caroline. I'll watch for your comments. And we'll see how long it takes me to carry on with the series. :)

219jessibud2
jun 3, 1:40pm

>213 BLBera: - This book (with the same cover as yours) is one of the several I am in the middle of as I pause to work my way through all the library holds that are pouring in all at once. I don't think I've read any of her books before but was immediately drawn to the cover, for sure. I will get back to it soon.

220BLBera
jun 4, 8:24pm

Lively is one of my favorites, Shelley.

221lauralkeet
jun 5, 7:10am

>220 BLBera: Mine, too, Beth. Life in the Garden looks very good; I'm just sorry I wasn't quick enough to snap it up! However, I see that my library has a copy so onto the list it goes!

222BLBera
jun 5, 10:57am

I was thinking of you as I read, Laura. I know that you like to garden as well. I think you'll enjoy this. I had to look up a lot of flower names. :)

223banjo123
jun 5, 6:57pm

Hi Beth, I will have to look for the Lively for Mrs. Banjo... I am not much of a gardener, but she has been doing quite a bit, with retirement and the pandemic.

224vikzen
jun 6, 11:58pm

Beth, so glad to finally get a chance to check in on your thread. Seems like you've gotten some interesting books under your belt so far this year. I see one or two I have on my shelf that I really should attempt this year. Stay safe and well :)

225BLBera
jun 7, 2:19pm

>223 banjo123: Hi Rhonda. I've never been much of a gardener, but I could see doing more when I retire. It is a beautiful book.

>224 vikzen: Hi Vik - nice to see you around.

226BLBera
Redigeret: jun 7, 2:20pm



67. The Arsonists' City
I really liked Salt Houses and was anxious to try this latest novel from the Palestinian American writer Hala Alyan.

Idris and Mazna move from Beirut to California right after their wedding. They leave behind a country in the middle of a war and their families. They raise three children in the US: Ava, Mimi and Naj. As the novel begins, Mazna is pressuring her children to go to their house in Beirut for the summer. Idris wants to have a memorial service for his father and to sell the family home.

After the initial story, Alyan jumps back to the summer when Mazna and Idris meet. I felt there was too much back story -- this made the novel overly long and diluted the focus. Is Alyan writing a novel about the complicated history of the Middle East, specifically Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinians? Or is she writing a novel about immigrants and their first generation children? Or is it a family saga?

I loved the characters, the description. I am just not a fan of the back-and-forth chronology -- more and more writers seem to use this device, and I think it's really hard to do well and effectively.

Still, I'm not sorry I read it.

227rosalita
jun 7, 2:57pm

>226 BLBera: Hi, Beth. It sounds like this is a case where parallel timelines just can't really work, since the two are so different. As you say, is it a novel about the Middle East, or is it a novel about first-get Americans? A pity, since it sounds interesting otherwise. If the characters are strong, she might have been better off writing a two-book duology instead, giving each timeline its own narrative.

228BLBera
jun 7, 3:23pm

I was thinking it would work to be two books, Julia! Then, she could delve more into the Middle East history for the earlier novel.

229rosalita
jun 7, 3:49pm

>228 BLBera: Yes, both narratives sound quite interesting on their own.

230streamsong
jun 7, 4:21pm

I've only Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively. Life in the Garden sounds lovely. I may have to add this one to the never-ending list.

231DeltaQueen50
jun 7, 4:37pm

Hi Beth, it seems to be a trend right now to have two time lines in a book and for me, this doesn't always work. Of course there are times when this device works very well but sometimes it just seems as if the author didn't have enough material for the single time line to work.

232BLBera
jun 7, 5:37pm

>229 rosalita: Yes, Julia, one of the things that interested me about the earlier timeline were the comments about the history between Syria and Lebanon. I would have liked to know more about that. And how the Palestinians fit into these countries.

>230 streamsong: Hi Janet - Lively is great. I will read anything she writes. It's been a while since I picked up one of hers although I have several on my shelf.

>231 DeltaQueen50: Hi Judy - Yes, it does see to be a trend right now, and you're right, it doesn't always work. In this case, I thought the flashbacks were way too long. I wanted to get back to the present day. Still, I will continue to read books by Alyan.

233brenzi
jun 7, 6:14pm

>226 BLBera: Ugh I had high hopes for that one Beth. I usually don't mind two timelines but what you describe sounds like it didn't work although the book got rave reviews. Oh well I think I'll move on for now.

234BLBera
jun 7, 7:47pm

>233 brenzi: It's still a good book, Bonnie. Others might not mind the timelines as much as I did.

235EBT1002
Redigeret: jun 9, 6:46pm

Hi Beth! I had a couple cancelations and work today so I'm catching up a wee bit around here.

>180 BLBera: I almost never read drama, never have done so. But I LOVE live theater. Maybe I'll give August Wilson a try. Have you tips on gaining as much enjoyment as possible when reading a play?

>226 BLBera: It's interesting how common the back-and-forth timeline seems to be these days. I agree with you: it's a devise that works when it is done really well but can be disorienting and distracting the rest of the time. Migrations is an example of a novel that employs it to great effect. She also explicitly tells you how far back she is going when she goes back. I like that she was willing to do that. Sometimes I think authors feel better about themselves if they "don't give too much away," but honestly, write a good novel and the true measure of its worth is not how hard I had to work to read it. I know you're saying The Arsonist's City is still a good book but your comments did get me thinking about that facet of many modern novels.

I'd love your copy of Life in the Garden if no one has yet claimed it. I love her writing, as well.

236laytonwoman3rd
jun 9, 8:37pm

>235 EBT1002: " Maybe I'll give August Wilson a try." I will encourage you to do that!

237BLBera
jun 12, 8:23pm

>235 EBT1002: Hi Ellen! It's great to see you here. I spent the last three days at a lake with the fam. It was hot, so definitely a good time.

Wilson's plays are very readable. You've maybe seen Fences? Maybe start with that one. He uses a similar form in all of them. I want to read through all of them, because only a few have been filmed and some are not widely staged.

I am anxious to read Migrations. I think you might like The Arsonists' City. It has flaws but overall is a worthwhile read.

Sorry, Life in the Garden was claimed. I do have a couple of other things you might be interested in.

>236 laytonwoman3rd: Hi Linda!

238BLBera
jun 12, 8:32pm


68. The Scholar is the second in the series, following the very excellent The Ruin. In this one, we get further background on Cormac Reilly and meet more of his colleagues. His partner, Emma, discovers the victim of a hit and run and calls Cormac. She becomes involved, and Cormac finds himself fighting to prove her innocence.

This is a well-plotted story although I figured out who the girl was and a central part of the mystery. I will definitely look for the next one.

Adrian McKinty gets a shout out here as well. I must get to his series as well.

239Berly
jun 12, 8:41pm

Hey Twin! Yes, I am alive. LOL. Loving your recent books, especially the Lively Garden book. Glad you got to enjoy some lake time. If I make it out to MN this summer, I'll sure to let you know. Big hugs. : )

240BLBera
jun 12, 8:43pm


69. Of Women and Salt
This excellent first novel follows the women in two families with very different immigration stories. One family originates from Cuba and the other from El Salvador.The Cuban women were able to pursue residency fairly easily, while Gloria, the Saladorean woman was deported twice.

The novel follows several generations of the families, and we see that even an easy immigration, doesn't guarantee an easy life. We also see the sacrifices that mothers are willing to make for their daughters.

I can't wait to see what Garcia does next.

And what a cover!

241BLBera
jun 12, 8:44pm

>239 Berly: You'd better let me know! It would be great to see you in person.

242Berly
jun 12, 9:02pm

>241 BLBera: For sure! Hey, sorry Rafa is out of the RG tournament. : (

243BLBera
jun 12, 11:55pm

:(

I'm now cheering for Tsitsipas.

244RebaRelishesReading
jun 13, 12:45am

I've seen Fences and Two Trains Running on stage -- both great plays.

245Berly
jun 13, 2:03am

>243 BLBera: Me too!

246charl08
jun 13, 2:19am

>240 BLBera: My library has a copy, so adding this to the wishlist. Thanks Beth.

Great to read you had some time away with the family. I have my fingers crossed we might be able to do the same here.

247BLBera
jun 13, 9:45am

>244 RebaRelishesReading: Hi Reba - I would love to see some of Wilson's plays on the stage. I know Penumbra theater in St. Paul did the whole series a few years ago; I wish they would do it again.

>245 Berly: Fingers crossed.

>246 charl08: I think you'll like it, Charlotte. It was good to have some relaxing time at the lake. Scout had a blast and connected with some of her younger cousins that she doesn't see very often. They followed her like sunflowers follow the sun! It was very cute.

Scout story: We were reading She Made a Monster, about how Mary Shelly wrote Frankenstein, and in one part, it talks about how Shelly and Byron would discuss the meaning of life. Scout asked me, "What is the meaning of life?" I told her it is a mystery. And she said, "Would Siri know?" This is a whole new generation!

248BLBera
jun 13, 9:54am


70. Joe Turner's Come and Gone

This play is set in 1911, and people still remember slavery. Blacks are migrating to the North to escape violence of the South. Set in a Pittsburgh boarding house, each boarder is searching for something. Bynum, a conjure man, tries to help people find their "song." Without their song, Bynum claims that people will never find what they're looking for. The feelings of displacement and search for belonging are evident in many of the characters.

249karenmarie
jun 13, 10:28am

Hi Beth!

>206 BLBera: I love this series and re-read A-Y in 2018. Did you read the entire series or stop after a while? There is also a book of short stories, Kinsey and Me that I thought worth reading, giving it 4 stars.

250BLBera
jun 13, 10:49am

Hi Karen: I read the first three or four and then stopped. It has been years, so I decided to start again from the beginning.

251BLBera
jun 13, 8:23pm


71. Piranesi

I know some here on LT have really loved this novel. While I didn't love it, there were many things I admired about it.

I looked at some of Piranesi's etchings to get an idea of the inspiration for the novel.

I really like the vivid world that Clarke creates. The voice of the narrator is really well done as well. The descriptions of the sound of the sea, the statues, and the halls of the House are captivating. The narrator explains his world in great detail, making it believable.

The idea of parallel worlds is intriguing, and I liked the twist at the end. So, overall, thumbs up. However, if fantasy isn't your cup of tea, you should probably pass on this one.

252brenzi
jun 13, 9:12pm

>240 BLBera: this sounds like a good one Beth. And Siri has all the answers, doesn't she?

253BLBera
jun 13, 9:13pm

Hi Bonnie - It is excellent! And I guess Siri does have the answers. :)

254lauralkeet
I går, 7:04am

>251 BLBera: I've felt a bit guilty for not reading Piranesi, despite its popularity and critical acclaim. For some reason it hasn't grabbed me and now I know why. For some reason I hadn't picked up on the fact that it's a fantasy novel, and that's definitely not my cup of tea, as you put it.

255BLBera
I går, 9:09am

You're probably wise, Laura. I didn't love it although there were aspects I like. Generally, fantasy is not my thing either.

256vivians
I går, 1:30pm

>251 BLBera: I agree with you about Piranesi. I was skeptical going in, but figured it was short and I wanted to read the Women's Prize shortlist. There were interesting ideas, but overall it didn't work for me.

257BLBera
I går, 7:09pm

Hi Vivian - I know you were one who wasn't wild about Piranesi. I think fantasy just is not my thing although I do think she did a fine job of world building in the novel. I got Unsettled Ground from the library, finally, and when I finish The Feast of Love, which is wonderful so far, I will read that one. That is one I am looking forward to.

258thornton37814
I dag, 10:05am

>240 BLBera: I'm pretty sure I put that one on my TBR list when it came out.

259vivians
I dag, 11:58am

>257 BLBera: Just want to highly recommend Light Perpetual, which Bonnie loved as well. It will definitely be in my top 10 this year. I hadn't heard of The Feast of Love but will look for it!