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anniedeighnaugh

What are you reading? January 2024 Edition

Annie Deighnaugh
4 months ago
last modified: 4 months ago

What are you reading?

As always, it helps to bold the titles, rate the books 1-5 stars, and let us know if you think it would be good for a book group.

Link to December 2023:

https://www.gardenweb.com/discussions/6415190/what-are-you-reading-december-2023-edition#n=67



Comments (95)

  • ci_lantro
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    Heartily second the recommendation of Paul Scott's, The Raj Quartet.

    Adding MM Kaye's autobiographical series, The Sun in Morning and Golden Afternoon. There is a third book, Enchanted Evening, which I have not yet read. Based on her experiences of growing up in India (and England). MM Kaye was born in India in 1908.

    Currently reading The Best American Mystery Stories 1997, Robert B Parker & Otto Penzler, editors. Three-fourths of the way through it--quite good.

  • faftris
    4 months ago

    Don't you hate overachievers, Bookwoman? DD1's good friend became a psychiatrist, but before medical school, he spent two years at University of Iowa's Writer's Conference, earning a MFA in writing poetry. Actually, he double-majored in Neuroscience and Creative Writing in college. Nothing like exercising both halves of your brain. I am sure his sensitivity to words helps him in his professional life.

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    Readers and AnnieD...posting this before this thread closes down at the end of the month. What would you think of when the January thread is posted (and all subsequent threads each month) of linking the previous month's thread in the new thread? The search function here is so abysmal that sometimes, when I want to look back at a previous month, I cannot find it. If the January thread contains a link to the December thread, that will make it easy to find. Eventually, after several months, we can just link through to previous threads simply by opening the January thread. We can click on the December link (and in the future) could then find the November link in the December thread, then find the October link in the November thread and on and on. Annie, since you usually start the reading threads, it would be another task for you, so don't know how you'd feel about it, but I think it would work best if the previous month was listed in your original post. Anyone else think this would be a good idea and if so, Annie would you mind doing it?
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  • beesneeds
    4 months ago

    I've been reading through the Riftwar Cycle by Raymond E. Feist. The whole Cycle is made up of a series of triologies and some stand alones. Each set makes sense on it's own, but each set builds in other sets of the saga of the worlds. I'm on the third book in, Silverthorn. It's the last of its set, and another perspective of the Cycle starts in the next set. It's been fun reading so far. Feist is usually an engaging author for me.

  • chisue
    4 months ago

    I'll be looking for Daniel Mason's other novels. IME psychiatrists are either crazy themselves or geniuses -- that elastic 'fine line'.

    Presently chuckling my way into Osman's latest Murder Club foray.

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    Original Author
    4 months ago

    Finished The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and enjoyed it....I didn't figure whodunit.


    Now I'm reading Jury of One which was recommended here...except I screwed up again. I'm reading the one by David Ellis whereas the one recommended here was by John Warley. Oh well. So far I'm enjoying it.

  • Bookwoman
    4 months ago

    I'm about halfway through Paul Harding's This Other Eden, and I'm enthralled. It's based on a true story (you can read about it here: https://www.npr.org/2023/01/20/1149796211/this-other-eden-review-paul-harding-malaga-island-maine), but my goodness, the beauty of his language is just breathtaking. I enjoyed his two earlier novels, Tinkers and Enon, but I think this one is even better.

  • faftris
    4 months ago

    I haven't read Harding's other books, but I agree completely about This Other Eden. I was rooting for it to win the Booker and The National Book Award, but no go.

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    Original Author
    4 months ago
    last modified: 4 months ago

    I finished David Ellis' Jury of One and it was really good if you like court room drama stuff. Some nice plot twists. But the lead was a woman, and somehow, so many times, a man writing a woman's character like this seems to miss the mark...that the character comes out flatter...women tend to add more drama and emotion as that's where women live. But it was good and I enjoyed it.

    I'll have to look up the Worley Jury of One which was the one that was recommended here.

  • faftris
    3 months ago

    After loving North Woods enough to go back to the beginning and read it a second time before it was due back at the library, I read The Winter Soldier. Good, but not at the same level. But what a movie it would make!

  • dedtired
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Read Hang The Moon by Jeannette Walls and thoroughly enjoyed it. Strong women, bootleggers, corrupt politicians, Southern family drama. The family patriarch reminded me of Alex Murdaugh if you are familar with that story. I recommend it.

    Book club was cancelled because the host got sick. It was awfully cold and icy so i was glad to stay home. In the meantime I am reading The Paris Apartment. Not far in but its good enough to keep reading. I didnt particularly care for her previous book The Guest List (Lucy Foley).

  • raee_gw zone 5b-6a Ohio
    3 months ago

    Yesterday I finished "The Last Season" by Eric Blehm, a non-fiction book about a National Parks backcountry ranger who disappeared in 1996. My daughter gave it to me since the events occurred in Kings Canyon NP, where I had done several backpacking trips along the PCT.

    The author spent quite a lot of time describing the ranger, his personality, his relationships, his reputation as a ranger, his strong love for the wilderness and devotion to protecting it, with excerpts from his personal journals and station logs - all interspersed with the mechanics of the search for him.

    Interestingly, I never encountered a ranger on any of my trips. I was surprised to read how poorly equipped and paid they were, and the enormous areas that each was responsible for policing - for example, given radios that often quit working within days, while being out in true wilderness, several days of hiking away from any possible help.

    Anyway, I can't say whether I'd recommend this book, except that I'd assume it isn't book club material. It didn't engage me in the way that the similar, more famous (and better written) "Into Thin Air" did. I think it would mostly appeal to a limited audience, those who have some connection to the park or wilderness exploration/backpacking. I enjoyed reading about the process of the search. There were passages that reminded me of the places that I had been and sights that I'd seen, which was nice. But sadly, I was less interested in learning so much about the man himself.

  • chisue
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Earlier I dissed The Road to Bittersweet, Donna Everhart without opening it. The title and the cover illustration indicated just another 'gal from the hollers finds her way through adversity to true love', and I wasn't in the mood.

    Now I've read it, and all that is true, but the adversity is huge, including a 'beloved' family that treats our 'gal' like a slavey, and the true love is slower to materialize. Also, 'the gal' is only 14. I'd recommend this for some book clubs. 2.5 Stars.

    Clockwork Boys, Donna Everhart,could have appealed, but didn't. I quit at 50 pages. Interesting premise, shining knight (honor, morals) vs AI-generated evil foes -- Alice In Wonderland sort of mixup.

    I've started The Piano Tuner, Daniel Mason. A winner, 150 pages in.

  • faftris
    3 months ago

    The Piano Tuner is on my to-do list. I just started My Friends, by Hisham Matar, but I am not into it far enough to comment. It was very well-reviewed in the NYT.

  • 4kids4us
    3 months ago

    I have My Friends on my TBR list after reading reviews for it somewhere (not the NYT, maybe the Wash Post). I read one of his previous novels, In the Country of Men, about ten years ago and thought it was very good.


    I'm 2/3 of the way through The House of Doors by Tan Twan Eng. It is beautifully written. Holding my thoughts until I finish.


  • salonva
    3 months ago

    I read the Road to Bittersweet and just checked my goodreads rating. I gave it 4 stars. I enjoyed it and "went along for the ride". I guess that's what makes the world go round as they say.


    I just finished re-reading Finding Dorothy and I liked it even more this time around. I also read the author's notes, which I usually don't and got a lot from that.


    I am going to start The Secret Book of Flora Lee.

  • faftris
    3 months ago

    Loved House of Doors. After I read it, I read his The Garden of Evening Mists. It was fine, but not quite as good.

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    I started Devil in the Grove, about a case that Thurgood Marshall defended. It's a good book, but it's a tough read in that the level of violence and terror visited upon blacks in those days was extraordinary. Interesting in that lynchings tend to be associated with Alabama and Mississippi, but blacks were most likely to get lynched in Florida, which is where this case takes place. Frightening stuff.

  • Bestyears
    3 months ago

    I just finished Pete and Alice in Maine -I thought I had heard about it here, but now I don't see a post for it, so I may have heard about it in the Sarah's Bookshelves Patreon group. I really enjoyed it -I'd rate it 3.75 stars. It's a quiet book. The author cites Elizabeth Strout as an author she loves, and I found the writing here similar to ES's work. The novel is set in the early days of the pandemic when a young couple with two daughters, whose marriage is already teetering, flee to their vacation home in Maine. I did NOT like the ending, and I rarely say that. So I enjoyed the writing, enjoyed the largely internal story, etc. but struggled with the ending and similarily found some of the scenes a bit abrupt -as if the writer hadn't quite earned the reader's trust to go there. I liked the writing enough to look up some of the author's other work.

  • barncatz
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Annie, I read Devil In the Grove several years ago and I had the same reaction. I think I read it because of our trip to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, AL.

    Because of some recent losses in my life, I'm currently reading "dopey" books, even though many of them end up as DNF. I picked one up at the library that had a librarian's note that it was being circulated to me although damaged and that should be noted for the lending library when returned. Instead, I got hit with a large replacement fee and a card freeze, lol. I got it straightened out after several emails, a phone call and an in-person discussion, but I spent more time on that than I had on the DNF book.

  • Elmer J Fudd
    3 months ago

    I enjoyed Devil in the Grove very much when I read it some years ago.

    The violence and appalling conduct surrounding this case are reality, not sensationalism. Lynchings happened in most all of the 50 states but most frequently in those in the Southern belt.

  • Bookwoman
    3 months ago

    I'm reading two non-fiction books. One is Things I Didn't Know, the memoir of the art critic Robert Hughes, who you might remember for his series on PBS about modern art, The Shock of the New. He had a fascinating life, and while he sometimes goes on a bit too long with some of his reminiscences, I'm really enjoying the book - he has a wonderfully acerbic writing style. I'm planning to watch The Shock of the New again, and it's available free on YouTube.

    The other book is The World Only Spins Forward: The Ascent of Angels in America, which is essentially an oral history of how the play was conceived and produced. It's a series of interviews with not only the playwright Tony Kushner, but also the early actors in the workshops, the directors, producers, and the like. I consider it one of the greatest pieces of modern theater we have, and the HBO series made from it is also excellent.

  • Jennifer Hogan
    3 months ago

    Remarkably Bright Creatures was my favorite books that I read in 2023, but I understand that not everyone will enjoy the same reads. My sister and I share books and there are some that she loves that I cannot get through and some that I love that she found meh.


    I keep an annual list of the books that I have read and thoroughly enjoyed.

    The remaining books on my list of favorites for 2023 are:

    Diamond Doris

    The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

    The Scent Keeper

    Season of the Dragonflies

    Small Admissions

    Agent 355

    Lessons in Chemistry

    Before We Were Yours

    The Magdalen Girls

    Orphan Train

    Sold on a Monday

    Ride of Her Life

    All the Ugly and Wonderful Things

    West with Giraffes


    So far in 2024 I have only finished one book Britt Marie was Here - good, but will not make it to my favorites list and am currently reading The Dictionary of Lost Words - again good, but doubtful that it will make it to the favorites list by the end of the year.

  • Jay Foursee
    3 months ago

    "Woke,Inc" by Vivek Ramswamy. Just started, great book!

  • faftris
    3 months ago

    My Friends was very well done. It was a fiction posing as a memoir. The narrator is a Libyan exile in London, who cannot return to his family because of the political situation. He has friends in the same situation, and all of them deal with it in different ways. Not a must-read, but if you come across it, give it a look.

  • Jennifer Hogan
    3 months ago

    Reading Dictionary of Lost Words and loved this passage:

    "Bit by bit I was replacing everything in our home that was worn out or depressingly functional"


    Depressingly functional. I am adding this to my Houzz verbiage!


  • martinca_gw sunset zone 24
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    PROPHET SONG ( ’23 Booker) is all that’s said in the snippets below.

    I just finished- hard to put down- Prophet Song. Amazing writing. Sofry, but that overused word applies in spades.

    This:

    “Gripping . . . As Eilish’s circumstances deteriorate, Lynch’s dense, lyrical prose barrels down on you relentlessly. As you read, you feel precious time slipping away, the inexorable future rushing toward you. He eschews quotation marks and paragraph breaks, and the result is a chaotic, disorienting whirlwind that amplifies the furious action of the narrative and plants you firmly in Eilish’s weary, fractured mind.”—Boston Globe

    “Harrowing . . . The lesson for readers is not necessarily to wake up to signs of totalitarianism knocking at our doors, but to empathize with those for whom it has already called.”—NPR

    “Thunderously powerful.”—Times Literary Supplement

    “As nightmarish a story as you’ll come across: powerful, claustrophobic and horribly real. From its opening pages it exerts a grim kind of grip; even when approached cautiously and read in short bursts it somehow lingers, its world leaking out from its pages like black ink into clear water.”—Guardian, Book of the Day

    “A masterclass in empathy, offering a bird’s eye view of the steady crushing of one’s ability to live somewhere safely, the dismantling of ordinary life by tyranny. I hope everyone reads this.”—Suzanne Harrington, The Irish Examin

  • Bunny
    3 months ago

    I have a couple of very dear friends I've known since grammar school and with whom I zoom every week. We talk about books a lot. We tend to agree on a lot of things. Except two of them hated Tom Lake and declare they are done with Ann Patchett from this day forward. It's funny what resonates (or doesn't) with close friends.

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    Original Author
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    I finished Devil in the Grove. 4 stars. I would not recommend for book group only because the level and descriptions of violence might be tough for some sensibilities. The really scary part is, it wasn't that long ago. And it's clear those sentiments have not disappeared but rather have reawakened. Scary stuff.


    Next up will be Cornell Woolrich's Rendezvous in Black. Part of my effort to uncover and read authors of film noir and other thrillers from the past. He also wrote Rear Window.

  • faftris
    3 months ago

    I agree, Prophet Song was phenomenal and absolutely frightening in light of the direction into which much of the world is heading.

  • Lizzie Borden
    3 months ago

    I have recently read A Walk To Remember by Nicholas Sparks. Although a bit predictable, I found it a pleasant quick read. The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell, a psychological thriller held my interest and I was anxious to find out the conclusion. The Housemaid, by Freida McFadden was also a psychological thriller I enjoyed and found it to have a surprise ending. Lastly, The Family Upstairs, another thriller was great and had me in suspense. Currently I am listening to the audiobook The Guest List.

  • dedtired
    3 months ago

    Just checking to say I really disliked The Paris Apartment and gave up on it. I probably should have known it would be a no-go for me since i dont like mysteries but this was specially bad, IMO. Looking for my next read now.

  • stacey_mb
    3 months ago

    I really enjoyed Buddenbrooks : a Decline of a Family by Thomas Mann, a saga about a prosperous family that owns a successful business in Germany in about the mid-1800s. The book opens when the family has just moved into a large and elegant home, but time brings changes and not always positive for them. I found this 731 page book easy to read and was one that held my interest throughout, unlike Mann's The Magic Mountain that is dense with philosophy. The author received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1929.

  • Bookwoman
    3 months ago

    One of the great works of the 20th c., and based somewhat on Mann's own life. I loved it as well.

  • Judi
    3 months ago

    Oath and Honor: A Memoir and a Warning by Liz Cheney

  • 4kids4us
    3 months ago

    I finished The House of Doors by Tan Twan Eng. I give it four stars. Beautifully written, loved the historical setting, multilayered plot. I think it would make for an interesting book club discussion.


    I'm now 70% through The Frozen River by Ariel Lawhon. Another book tagged as historical fiction, it is inspired by the life and diary of Martha Ballard, a renowned 18th-century midwife. Another beautifully written book that is thought-provoking, atmospheric with good character development. I think it would also be a great book club choice (still not finished but unless something happens in the last quarter of the book, it's looking to be a 4.5 star read for me).

  • sweet_betsy No AL Z7
    3 months ago

    Just finished The Covenant of Water. What a story! 3 stars because it could have used some editing, left one character hanging and was too long. There are some good points that a book club might discuss.

  • Funkyart
    3 months ago

    Glad to hear you are enjoying The Frozen River, 4kids! I was to read it this month but got distracted by a book club read and a mood read. It will be one of my next reads for sure.

    I just started The Fury by Alex Michaelides ... I haven't read any of his other books and wasn't really interested in them but I saw a review that got me excited to give it a try. The Good Reads ratings are meh so we will see. It does seem to be fast paced which works with my schedule and headspace right now.

    I also started Lone Woman by Victor Lavalle. I am not very far but I am appreciating the writing. Horror isn't a normal genre for me but it was a gift from a fellow book lover so I wanted to give it a try. It is currently on pause until I finish (or abandon lol) The Fury.

  • katmarie1019
    3 months ago

    Finished The Boys in the Boat last night and really loved it.


    Highly recommend!


    (I still can’t make ”bold” work, sorry!)

  • Jennifer Hogan
    3 months ago

    Just finished Dictionary of Lost Words and it got better and better as the chapters continued. I am not sure it won't end up on my top reads for 2024.

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    Original Author
    3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Gotta put the pedal to the metal...a bunch of books came in all at once that were on hold.

    Just finished reading Rendezvous in Black by Cornell Woolrich. 4 stars. He wrote more thriller/noir stories that became movies than Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett. I have another of his to read, Night Has a Thousand Eyes, but I'll break it up with Small Things Like These next.

  • lisaam
    3 months ago

    Just finished Tom Lake and am a bit disappointed because I’d expected to love it and it didn’t really resonate. It was just fine. I did enjoy seeing Paul Newman as the Stage Manager as part of my reading prep.

  • Jennifer Hogan
    3 months ago

    @ katmarie1019 If the B for bold isn't working for you try highlighting the words you want bolded and pressing ctrl & B at the same time. (If using a phone app I don't know another way around the B icon)

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    Original Author
    3 months ago

    Just finished Small Things Like These which I believe was recommended here. It's a novella...only about 100 pages. 4 star. Not enough for book group. Great little read for xmas as it takes place during the holiday. Gentle and interesting tale shedding light on the convent laundries in Ireland.


    Next up is The Mysterious Case of Rudolf Diesel: Genius, Power, and Deception on the Eve of World War I. Nonfiction about the guy who invented the diesel engine and his mysterious death.

  • 4kids4us
    3 months ago

    Funkyart, now that I am finished, I will say this...the ending was a bit of a disappointment to me (and the Author's Note, author a bit full of herself and patting herself on the back...). I ended up giving it a 3 star rating due to what happens toward the end, but it was overall a good read. I did not remember that I had read another one of Lawhon's novels until I added The Frozen River to my Goodreads account. Interestingly, my review of that book was nearly identical! I really enjoyed the novel until the end where I felt Lawhon took poetic license too far.


    I am now reading The Curse of Pietro Houdini by Derek Miller. Not sure where I heard of this one - I think it was reviewed/recommended by the Washington Post.

  • Jennifer Hogan
    3 months ago

    My sister just sent me her list of books she is planning on purchasing. (She shares with me).


    She likes more fantasy/science fiction than I do, we both seem to like historical fiction, stories with strong females, I like biographies more than she does (added the last book to her list).


    Any feedback on any of these titles:


    Ten Birds that changed the world

    The tattooist of Auschwitz

    The Giver of Stars

    Stars of Alabama

    The Book of Lost Friends

    The Once and Future Witches

    Stolen: the astonishing odyssey of Five boys along the reverse underground RR

    The Four Winds

    The Keeper of Lost Things

    Love, Life and Elephants

    The Last Bookshop in London

    The Life of Pi

    The Girl of the Limberlost

    The Poisonwood Bible

    House in the Cerulean Sea

    The Island of Sea Women

    Lisa Tan’s Circle of Women

    The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store

    The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post

  • Bookwoman
    3 months ago

    The Life of Pi and The Poisonwood Bible are both excellent. I haven't read many of the rest.

  • salonva
    3 months ago

    The Keeper of Lost Things was sweet, The Island of Sea Women was very good, ane the Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post was a great read. I read Pi and Poisonwood a long time ago and remember liking them a lot. I'd say it looks like a great list.


    I just finished The Secret Life Of Flora Lea and so enjoyed it. It was beautifully written with a very good story line. I definitely recommend it, but there were ( towards the end mostly) a few too many coincidences and leaps of faith required for me to give it 5 stars, but if you want to get lost in a good story, this book is worthwhile. I gave it 4 stars and think it would be good for a book club.

  • faftris
    3 months ago

    I borrowed from DD1's lending library. She has such liberal return policies! I am on an Anthony Trollope kick, for R&R from the stuff I've been reading lately. I don't care for his "series" books. They are a little too specifically British political for me. But his one-and-done books are a hoot. I read The Eustache Diamonds, The Claverlings and I am reading Ayala's Angel right now. They are your typical Victorian agony stories, not Dickens.


  • Annie Deighnaugh
    Original Author
    3 months ago