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Archive for November, 2013

Sunday Caught My Interest

With the leaves gone from the trees, the squirrels are much more visible delighting the dog of the house. Of course it means lots of in and out but it is a small price to pay for such happiness. There is no danger that she will actually catch one – they are much smarter than she is and faster as well. It also means that winter is truly here with chilly temperatures and making soup for himself and eldest. My book group meet at my house this week and I made applesauce spice cake with maple whipped cream to celebrate the season. We discussed The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud. Let’s just say there was much passionate discussion. I thought it was one of the best books I read this year but I was the only one who felt that way. By the time we were done, we felt it was one of the best discussions we have ever had. I have also finished An Invisible Thread by Laura Schroff and Alex Rensiowski for my second book group meeting tomorrow night and The Spinoza Problem by Irvin D. Yalom and I started The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell.  I am hopeful for the O’Donnell book in part because of the reviews I have read but also because I need a good book. I was a little disappointed with An Invisible Thread and the ending of the Yalom novel. And after reading Leeswammes’ review of O’Donnell’s second novel, Closed Doors – I am eagerly awaiting its publication in the United States.

Here is what caught my interest this week:

After a somewhat disappointing reading week, the first blog I happen to read this week is Diane’s Bibliophile by the Sea. I like to see what she likes because we have similar taste and this week she does not disappoint with her mention of Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron a novel about an 18 year old misfit who is unsure about college and seems to be even more unsure about how to figure everything out. Eldest was a similar 18 year old and looking back now, he would have greatly benefited from a gap year between high school and the next step so the premise of the novel speaks to my heart. The high praise of Diane is icing on the cake.

Guy Savage reviews an interesting sounding book – The Two Hotel Francforts by David Leavitt (newly published in October). The novel is set in Lisbon at the onset of WWII. Two married couples are awaiting arrival of their ship for America to escape the chaos to be. Both couples have their marital issues with much being unsaid and each person seems to have their reasons to want to leave or not leave. I do not know too much about this part of history and I am looking forward to learning more.

One of the more uncomfortable books I have read is The History of History by Ida Hattemer-Higgins and while I found the book uncomfortable it is also very very good (my review here). The main character of that debut novel becomes obsessed with Magda Goebbels, the wife of Joseph Goebbels the Nazi Minister of Propaganda. Savidgereads reviews a new book out about this women who is know both for her role in the Nazi movement and her role in the deaths of her children. Magda by Meike Ziervogel is available for electronic readers in the US and Savidgereads speaks highly of the book saying, “It has been one of my reading experiences of the year.” It is a slim book providing brief snapshots into a complex life and despite Madga’s actions, it looks like a must read for me.

Finally, Tom of A Common Reader has given me a new detective series. William Brodrick was an Augustine Friar before becoming a barrister and a writer. His series features Father Anselm, a barrister turned monk. The fifth in the series has just come out (The Discourtesy of Death) and while Tom mentions that enough background material is included, I think I will look for the first one (The Sixth Lamentation).

And on a more serious note, 2014 is the centenary of WWI, the war to end all wars. There are new books (both fiction and non-fiction) coming out soon and Fleur Fischer as a nice listing of books and authors published by Virago Modern Classics as well as other small presses. Please note that her listing is for a read-along and some may be harder to find in the United States but if you are interested in reading more about the war, it is a good place to start.

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Sunday Caught My Interest

We have had snow (big fluffy flakes), rain, fog, clouds, and sunshine this week and I am in the process of getting wet leaves up for the leaf pick-up next week. Himself is busy working on a short course he is teaching next week and eldest is off doing some yardwork for a friend. The dog has been getting into mischief  and chasing squirrels and the cat keeps trying to sit on a keyboard, any keyboard as long as there is a person connected to it. I made a killer baked potato soup this week and read Snow White Must Die by Nele Neuhaus in one sitting (it was that good). Now I have to replicate the soup (I combined recipes and only can hope I took good enough notes) and wait two months before the second Neuhaus book comes out (Bad Wolf is due to be published January 21, 2014). I am also deep into The Spinoza Problem by Irvin D. Yalom. I have never heard of this author or his work before but I like the combination of psychiatry and philosophy in a novel. As anyone else read anything by this author?

HeavenAli has reminded me that I need to read Elizabeth Speller’s second mystery featuring her detective Laurence Bartram – a veteran of WWI. I enjoyed The Return of Captain John Emmett and want to read The Strange Fate of Kitty Easton. Now I may have to also add her new stand-alone novel The First of July (published as At Break of Day in England). Newly published, the novel follows four men through the battlefields of Normandy. While that possibly sounds grim, from what I remember of Speller’s writing, I think she can handle it with grace and from Ali’s review this seems to be the case. I will be watching for this one.

For those of you who were fascinating with the discovery of King Richard the Third’s grave earlier this year Lyn of I Prefer Reading recommends The King’s Grave: The Discovery of King Richard the III’s Lost Burial Place and the Clues That it Holds. This newly published work is written by the leader of the archeology team and the historian who inspired her work, Philippa Langley and Michael Jones. The authors alternate chapters going from the life of Richard in the 15th century and the modern day search for his final remains.

A second non-fiction book that caught my eye is reviewed by Swapna Krishna at her blogThe Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert Edsel. George Clooney is making a movie of the book and Edsel also has a sequel just published in May – Saving Italy: The Race to Rescue a Nation’s Treasures from the Nazis. The Monuments Men documents a squad of allied men tasked with saving the culture of Europe during the War. It all sounds so fascinating as does the author, a businessman who became interested in the fate of Europe’s treasures  in WWII and eventually made his hobby his career.

Finally, Stuck in a Book has a link to Amazon’s 100 Best Books of 2013. I have read one of them The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud. I have 14 of them on my to-be-read list and I have heard of 36 more. That leaves 49 books – almost half the list that didn’t ring any bells in my head. I wonder how they chose their list?

Danielle of a Work in Progress has a great post with lots of photos of a juried exhibit which highlights the connection between art and books – handmade books by students from Canada and the US. I would love to see this in person.

Happy Reading!

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Sunday Caught My Interest

I should remember that the week I am back from my mom’s is almost always a non-reading week. It seems like everyone/thing (including the house and especially the cat) needs to reclaim some equilibrium. I did listen to the end of Where’d You Go Bernadette on the way home but did not actually reading. My  one book group that has been on hiatus met and reconnected. We caught up with each other and had a mini discussion of both Canada by Richard Ford and Where’d You Go Bernadette. There has been lots of leaf picking up and I have spent lots of time playing in my scraproom. Yesterday we split up and Himself went to the regional Cross Country Meet to root for the high school teams which both won! Unfortunately Eldest and myself had to attend a funeral for a 23 year old classmate of his from high school who passed away in an auto accident. It was good to see people from the band program but sad for the reason.

Here is what caught my interest this week:

Last spring, a friend’s daughter took a class in college on literature and adultery. We had a wonderful lunch before she went back to school and this class, discussing the reading list which sounded wonderful. It included books that readers would expect such as Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina. Lately, another adultery book has come across my view due to German Literature Month and Dolce Bellezza has reminded me to put on the list. Mrs. Satoris by Elke Schmitter is said to be a modern day version of Madame Bovary. At age 38, Margarethe was last happy when she was 18 and felt the world was her’s for the taking. For the past 20 years she has stagnated in a provincial German town and then she meets a married man who may offer her a way out of her mundane existence. Winston’s Dad also has a nice review of this debut novel.

Fluer in her World has a review of a book that sounds light-hearted and fun. Come Out of the Kitchen: A Romance by Alice Duer Miller was originally published in 1916 (It is available free for electrnic readers). Set in the South, a young man rents a country house with the prevision he keeps the servants of the house: a butler, a cook, a maid, and a boy-all-work. Mr. Reed moves into the house with his lawyer, his almost-finance, and her mother. And while the cook cooks well, and the butler is very adept, the rest of the servants are more sullen and all of the servants seemed to belong to the house more than the occupants. Alice Miller was a prolific author writing to support her family. Many of her stories and novels became movies including the story that served as the basis for The White Cliffs of Dover.

If you are looking for a logic puzzle type of mystery – A Guy’s Moleskin Notebook has a review of The Oxford Murders by Argentine writer Guillermo Martinez. The author has a PhD in Mathematical Logic and his mystery features a professor of logic and an Argentinian student trying to solve a murder and catch a serial killer. Of course the murders are also mathematically based. Youngest is majoring in math and sometimes he and his father have incomprehensible conversations about algorithms and obscure math theories.  I may have to read this one just to get some overlap between the Literature side of the house with the more scientific side.

And Teresa of Shelf Love tells me Annie Lamont has a new book of non-fiction out Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair. If you have liked her previous books, be sure to look for this one as well. No one describes life quite like Annie Lamont who pulls no punches. Unlike her other books, this one is more focused on a single subject of continuing on with life after difficult circumstances. However different the book is, I am sure her sense of humor remains the same.

Finally Cornflower Books has a link to a bookstore in a 15th Century Church in The Netherlands – definitely worth checking out.

The Book Stop has a very nice post on the recent NY Times Book Review article on Literary Board Books.

And Kinna Reads has a list of 10 short stories you can read on-line including some by 2013 Nobel Prize Winner Alice Munro.

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