Wednesday, May 01, 2024

April 2024

So....I decided to try an experiment this month. I just listed the books as I read, making no comments, Now at the end of the month I'm going through the list to see what I remember (if anything) about each book. 

It was also a month to visit various Connecticut libraries with the promotional "Passport to Connecticut Libraries" program. We got off to a slow start as we were having repairwork done in the house.  Once we got started with our visits I was able to track down some really good reading. But I only got to about ten of the 150 participating libraries. Most of my May reading will be from this haul.

Clear by Davies, Carys
Set in 1843. A minister accepts a side job to evict the last resident from a remote Scottish isle during the Highland Clearances. One of the best books I've read this year.

The Hidden Life of Cecily Larson by Baker, Ellen
In the 1920s an orphanage sells a seven-year-old child to a circus. She becomes a bareback rider and later ends up pregnant in a juvinile facility. She manages to run away and live a fairley normal life. When she is 94 a family member buys a DNA test and the past comes tumbling out. 3+stars.

The Morningside by Obreht, Téa
The Morningside is a decaying high rise apartment on an island that has seen better days. The people are mostly refugees trying to cope and make the place better. A mother and daughter aree sort of supers of the building. Nicely told 3+ star read.

Wild and Distant Seas by Roberts, Tara Karr
A Nantucket story set in the Moby-Dick era. What if Ishmael made a stop at a widow's Inn before he signed on with Ahab? I really liked this debut novel. I must confess to have never made it all the way through Melville's novel but that didn't spoil my enjoyment of this novel, A solid 4 star read.

You Dreamed of Empires by Enrigue, Álvaro; translated from the Spanish by Wimmer, Natasha
Tenochtitlan, 1519, Hernán Cortés and company settle in. Another solid read.

Good Night, Irene by Urrea, Luis Alberto 
Irene is part of a Red Cross donut crew in WW2. This novel is based on the actual experience of the author's mother. It was a quick read and reminded me a bit of the Cherry Ames Series altho Irene's romantic adventures are a bit mor sexy than Nurse Ames'.  The Ames books were pretty tame.

The Husbands by Gramazio, Holly 
This was delightful! Lauren has a magic attic that keeps providing husbands for her. Fives stars for this fun romp.

The Curse of Penryth Hall by Armstrong, Jess 
A so-so gothic set in Cornwall. Not a bad read but I gave it only 2 stars. 

Ilium by Carpenter, Lea 
Lea is a sort of reluctant spy whos doesn't exactly comprend the nature of her mission which takes her from London to Paris to Cap Ferret. She's not totally clueless but there is a sort of dream like quality to this. 3+

Perris, California by Stark, Rachel 
Another 3+ read. This one is set in rural California (yes, there really is a Perris, CA). An abused woman makes a fairly successful marriage but has mother-in-law problems. A former high school friend returns to town and things get complicated.

Bottled by Gooch, Chris
Only 2 stars for this graphic novel. Set in Melbourne, it's a tale of millennial alienation and bad choices. So-so art work.

The Plains by Murnane, Gerald 
I've been wanting to read something by Murnane for the longest while. This was a good place to start. Wonderful sense of place. A 4+ read. and another Murnane book on my pile of books for next month!

Welcome to the Hyunam-Dong Bookshop by Bo-reum, Hwang: translated from the Korean by Tan, Shanna
This was a feel-good story of a group of South Koreans trying to establish a work/life balance. A found-family story that I couldn't manage to justify giving more than two stars. 

River East, River West by Lescure, Aube Rey 
American/Chinese teenage girl in Shanghai. Her mother is American, her unknown father was Chinese as is her step-father.  An ok read.

Chasing Beauty: The Life of Isabella Stewart Gardner by Dykstra, Natalie 
When I was in grad school I would myself for a completed project by treating myself to lunch at the Gardner Museum cafe. I also enjoyed the art work and recitals and concerts at the Museum. It was such a special place but I had a heavy workload and I never had time to find out much about the museum's founder. So now, after 30 years, I finally know.  4+ stars.

The Secret Life of Hidden Places: Concealed Rooms, Clandestine Passageways, and the Curious Minds That Made Them by Bachmann, Stefan 
Some places I knew about, some new (to me) ones. A fun armchair travel book. 

Inventing the It Girl: How Elinor Glyn Created the Modern Romance and Conquered Early Hollywood by Hallett, Hilary A. 
Loved this! 4+

Zodiac: A Graphic Memoir by Weiwei, Ai; Stamboulis, Elettra (Contributor), Costantini,Gianluca (Illustrator)
Another 4+ hit! 

Everything and Less: The Novel in the Age of Amazon by McGurl, Mark 
Ah well, you can't win them all. 

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