Tuesday, February 17, 2015

February 2015 Reads (week 2)

Skylight by José Saramago. translated by Margaret Jull Costa
Library book. An amazing first novel.

The Museum of Abandoned Secrets by Oksana Zabuzhko, Nina Shevchuk-Murray (Translator)
This is a huge, sweeping novel told in  straight narrative, dreams, and flashbacks. It is long (750 pages) and intense. It took me three month to read it. The amazing thing was that although it is complicated and covers a vast swath of Ukrainian history and contemporary politics, I never got lost in the many times I put it aside. Every time I picked it up I knew exactly where I had left off, even when I had set it aside for more than a week and read 4 or 5 other books in the interim. 

An amazing, rewarding, and essential read.

Frog by Mo Yan, Howard Goldblatt (Translation)
Free ARC from publisher through Goodreads First Reads program.
I liked this novel about a Chinese midwife who is caught up in China's population control policies. Gugu not only delivers babies, she must provide birth control information, insert IUDs, and perform abortions. The major part of the novel is told by her grand-nephew in a series of long letters. The final portion is a play based on Gugu's life. I found the play section tedious and really a slog to read.

Although the subject matter is serious and the characters struggle with difficult moral choices and tragedies, there is a warmth, humor, and sympathy in the narration. Definitely worth reading.

The Wolf of Bordeaux  by Richard Lange a short story set in a French prison in 1899. Published online in The Summerset Review and included in his Sweet Nothing: Stories published this week by
Mulholland Books. Lange has links to two more of the stories on his website.

Monday, February 09, 2015

February 2015 Reads (week 1)

Bed Rest. Four days bed rest. I hate to admit it but I seem to be getting too old to shovel snow. So, gee, what do you do if you have to spend four days in bed, resting and getting waited on?

Reading, you say, Reading! you shout.

I did read, but it was sort of restless reading. I made some progress with The Museum of Abandoned Secrets by Oksana Zabuzhko--I'm now at 89 percent and, according to Kindle I have about an hour left. I also read a few more stories in Years of Red Dust, and a couple more in Pepperpot: Best New Stories from the Caribbean (a Christmas gift from my housemate/daughter).

Speaking of housemate/daughter, she did a library run between snowstorms. She was returning books for us both and getting books for herself. I didn't have any requests but, as frequently happens when she is browsing, something caught her eye that she thought I would like: Skylight by Saramago. It will have to go to the top of the pile because it's a 7-day, no renewal loan.

She also made several trips to the mailbox but that's another whole stack of books. In one of my sprier moments I went to the back door and there was a UPS package leaning against the stoop. "Stoop" was not in my orthopedic abilities, so I had to call for assistance. She rescued the package (an ARC) and sent me back to bed. So much for spry.
Light this week on the web surfing, it's a bit difficult with the sore back.

Finished this week:

A Paris Apartment by Michelle Gable
Read for French Bingo My Review

Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar
ARC from publisher via Goodreads First Reads program.
Where to begin? I loved this book, but why? 

The Love Book by Nina Solomon, Kaylie Jones (Editor)
ARC from publisher via LibraryThing Early Reviewers program
Just what I needed for this week of restless reading: High quality chick women's lit.
Bed rest is working. I can now stand from a seated position without the aid of a cane, I can stoop an pick up a book that has fallen to the floor,  and I can make my own lunch. I am in bed but because I want to be, not because I have to be.

Reading Saramago. Putting off reviews for another day or so because it's still uncomfortable to spend a lot of time with laptop.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

January 2015 Reads (week five)

This was another great reading week. Everything I read this week was from the library trip of January 24 when I checked out 8 books and a DVD. Last week I read one of the books (see post of Jan. 26). This week I watched the DVD, read 6 of the books, and started the last one of the batch (Years of Red Dust).

Today everything except the one in progress is going back to the library--but I'm not! Someone else (daughter) is returning the books and I have none on the holds shelf so I will spend the next week with my backlog. Then again, when she is browsing the shelves she often whips out her phone and calls to ask if I like her to bring home a certain interesting book she thinks I might like. There may be surprises.

The mail/UPS also brings surprises--4 ARC's were added to TBR this week and I didn't read anything from the TBR, tho' I did start a couple. No schedule set for February.

First off the two I read for challenges:

Relish : My Life in the Kitchen  by Lucy Knisley.
Library book, read for Foodies Read 2015 challenge
Loved this! Brief review.

The Normandy diary of Marie-Louise Osmont. 1940-1944 by Marie-Louise Osmont ; introduction by John Keegan ; translated by George L. Newman.
Library book, read for French Bingo Challenge.  My review.

Other reads:

Enon  by Paul Harding.
Library book.
This is not exactly a sequel to Harding's Tinkers. It is the story of  Charles Crosby, the grandson of George Washington Crosby of  Tinkers. There are some references to characters featured in the earlier book, but Enon stands alone. The book opens with the death of Charles' young teenaged daughter. Charles goes into deep mourning which destroys his marriage, leads him to drug and alcohol dependence, and bizarre behavior. Not a happy story, but one that is well told.

A Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan
Library book. 
If you have recently purchased a home, you might want to think about having all the locks changed--especially if the agent handling the sale was William Heming. You see, Heming keeps copies of the keys to every house he ever sold...consider yourself warned. Heming narrates his own story and he's led an interesting life of being interested in other peoples lives. We wonder: will it all catch up with him?  Real estate noir. Read it.

The 100-year-old Man who Climbed out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson ; translated from the Swedish by Rod Bradbury.
Library book. This has two alternating story lines--what happens after he climbs out the window in his 100th birthday and the back story of his life before he entered a rest home. A fun romp with a bunch of strange characters that satirizes crime fiction (particularly police procedurals), Cold War politics and fiction, journalists, and lots of (perhaps too many) other things. I liked this but not as much as I liked his The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden.

The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami ; translated by Ted Goossen. I guess I'm just not a Murakami fan. A so-so story in a fancy package. (The red flap opens upward to revel a full flap which opens downward. Rather gimmicky.)

In addition to my reading I viewed

Poulet aux Prunes (Motion picture) produced by Hengameh Panahi ; written and directed by Marjane Satrapi, Vincent Paronnaud. Culver City, Calif. : Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, 2013.
DVD Borrowed from Library.
  This is the movie based on Chicken with Plums by Marjane Satrapi which I read a couple of weeks ago (see January 2015 Reads (week two) 
It is a thoroughly satisfying film adaption. The film is true to the original graphic memoir and, unusual for me, I liked the movie better than the book. My only quibble is that they the changed the musical instrument that was an essential element from an Iranian tar to a violin.