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What are you reading? February 2024 Edition

Annie Deighnaugh
last month
last modified: last month

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 January 2024

Comments (60)

  • chisue
    27 days ago
    last modified: 27 days ago

    Michael Connelly's latest, Resurrection Walk, is another winner. 4 Stars from me for this Bosch/Haller cooperative investigation, seeking to free a prisoner. It's a typically straight forward tale with insight on the police and judicial systems. Even the FBI gets a knock but recovers due to one forthright agent.

  • faftris
    26 days ago

    I read an off-the-radar book called The Makioka Sisters, a Japanese novel by Junichiro Tanizaki.

    Translated, of course, LOL. It's about a family in Japan in the late 1920's, and while not much happens in the way of plot, I think the point was to show the difficulties of transitioning from the old ways of living and thinking to a more modern view. It was especially interesting because of what Japan would become, say, 10-15 years later. I had a love/hate reaction to this book, and I think it's not a must-read, but was more of a if-you-come-across-it. The author has written a gazillion books, and he is relatively forgotten.

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  • Annie Deighnaugh
    Original Author
    23 days ago
    last modified: 23 days ago

    Just finished Night Has a Thousand Eyes by Cornell Woolrich. Wow! 4+ stars if you like the Hitchcockian kind of suspense thriller. He also wrote Rear Window if that gives you a sense of his style. It had me on the edge of my chair. I think I've seen the movie, but don't really remember it. I'll have to look it up and see how it differed from the novel. It starred Edward G. Robinson, so I'm not sure how that all fits in....certainly not how I pictured the hero.

    Next up, which I think was recommended here, The Second Life of Mirielle West.

  • Bunny
    23 days ago
    last modified: 23 days ago

    I just finished Dominion by CJ Sansom. 4-minus stars.

    I love Sanson's Matthew Shardlake series about a Tudor-era lawyer and detective and I understand that he is not well and most likely won't be writing any more Shardlake books. I'm sad about that. So I was hoping to find other books he's written and this turned up.

    I love historical fiction and this has a twist I don't think I've encountered before. Past events have been altered. It's set in England, mostly London, in 1952. WWII never really happened because most of Europe surrendered to Germany in 1940 and Britain gave in to the appeasers. Hitler is still alive (although very sick) and England is basically a satellite state. No one knows where the Jews on the continent ended up (some have a good idea it's pretty bad) and English Jews are wearing stars and being rounded up and sent to detention camps. It's awful. Churchill hasn't been seen since 1940 and there's a growing Resistance movement. There's a mission to take a man with a secret out of the country before the Nazis get to him.

    At about 650 pages, the book is way way too long. No small detail gets missed. The Shardlake books are also very long, but there are more characters and pageantry to keep it moving.

    It was slow going at first, but eventually I couldn't put it down. There were moments where I felt, I love this book!

    I'm a high grader with books. I gave it a 4-minus only because it was unnecessarily long.

  • woodrose
    23 days ago

    @ladypat1 Robyn Carr is one of my favorite authors. I've read a couple of her book series, and working on another, plus some of her stand-alone books. I thinks she's most famous for her Virgin River series of novels, which was made into a TV series. I'm not a big reader of romance novels, because I don't like the graphic descriptions of their love lives. You can call me a prude or whatever, but I just find that type of thing boring. I have to skip over those parts, and I feel like those pages could be filled with more interesting content.

  • salonva
    23 days ago

    I just finished Nora Goes Off Script, which was a very cute, easy breezy read. I gave it 3 stars, but more because it was more fluff than substance but still enjoyable. It just is not one that will be memorable over time. It's the kind of book for someone who might need a light distraction .

    A palate cleanser so to speak.

    I'm going to start The Bird Hotel next. I have a book version from the library so will have to see how I do with that while I wait for the ebook to become available. ( I'm #1 so hopefully it will be soon).

  • lily316
    22 days ago

    My Darling Girl ..Jennifer McMahon...A real thriller and creepy ending.

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    Original Author
    20 days ago

    I finished The Second Life of Mirielle West. Enjoyed it 4 stars, but an emotional read as it's about a woman in the 1920s who finds out she has leprosy and is confined to a leper colony in Louisiana. Lots of meat for a book group, if their sensibilities can tolerate some graphic descriptions of the disease.


    Next up for my nonfiction book group, The 1619 Project.

  • jlsch
    20 days ago

    I am currently listening to Frozen River and enjoying it. I also am about half way through reading Heaven and Earth Grocery Store and loving it. Wonderful writing and story telling. At this point I’d rate it a 4.5.

  • nancy_in_venice_ca Sunset 24 z10
    20 days ago
    last modified: 20 days ago

    Regarding The Makioka Sisters:

    I saw the Japanese film based on the novel ages ago -- early to mid 1980s.


    I recommend the movie.

  • PattiG(rose)
    19 days ago
    last modified: 19 days ago

    I have been reading J.A. Jance books. They are of interest to me because they take place in Sedona, Bisbee and Tucson, areas of Arizona I am familiar with. The books are a suspense/murder type. Not too deep, but I generally read for entertainment. The only issue I find is that it would be nice to read them in order, but the author always gives a good backstory about the characters so you're not too lost. I would give them a 4 star rating,

  • aprilneverends
    17 days ago

    I re-read Dostoevsky's "Idiot"-I read it when too little I guess, remembered nothing . I think I chose a good time to re-read-really enjoyed it this time.

    Also I'm re-reading "Bunny" by Mona Awad-it's dark and hilarious(very dark and very hilarious) yet at the same time I couldn't fully concenrate on it somehow the first time i read it, which was just a couple months ago..and it did leave me intrigued..so I thought "why not, let's give it a re-read"

    Also I started "Agua Viva" by Clarice Lispector-but it requires being in a state..hard to explain..in short, one needs to be completely uninterrupted. It's a thin book, and a strange one, unlike anything I've read before, but it has the power to transfix you.

    Thank you for this thread, I somehow thought this very miinute"why do I take it for granted?" I shouldn't. It's one of my favorite ones.

  • salonva
    17 days ago

    April! We were typing at the same time- just a second after I hit submit------there I saw your post just before mine. wonerful to see you.

  • aprilneverends
    17 days ago

    Thank you, same here!

  • dedtired
    17 days ago

    April, nice to hear from you. Hope you’re in a safe and sound location.

    I finished Tom Lake. It was fine, not outstanding. Good enough to finish it.

    I am currently reading Small Mercies by Dennis Lehane. Its good. If you liked Shutter Island or Mystic River, you’ll like this.

    Next for book club is Absolution by Alice McDermott.

  • kathy_t
    16 days ago
    last modified: 16 days ago

    Salonva - So you gave The Bird Hotel five whole stars, huh? Wow! Well perhaps I need to revisit that one. You may recall from the Reader's Paradise forum that it was one of my recent DNFs.

  • salonva
    16 days ago

    Kathy- I thought I remembered someone ( or maybe even more than one person bailed on that one. I guess that's what makes the world go round. Yes, I really enjoyed it. I can't ptomise that you'll like it any better second time around, but maybe give it another try?

  • djacob Z6a SE WI
    16 days ago

    I just finished Gregg Olsen’s “THE AMISH WIFE.” The book is the true story of the covered up murder of an Amish housewife by her husband. Meant to look like an accident, Olsen shows that it clearly was not. The husband is never charged. As a result at least 2 other people die at his hands. His purpose for this book is to get the county to reopen this case for a full investigation.

    Olsen investigates this 30 year old murder with the tenacity of any seasoned detective or investigative journalist. The story takes us deep inside the Amish community in which this crime took place. It’s a look inside a very closed and quiet society so different from ours. Olsen keeps the reader engaged throughout the entire story.

    Following the relatives and family relationships throughout the book was a bit challenging at times, made difficult by the use of the same name in the same family and their relations repeatedly. From time to time, I found myself wishing there was a list of the people and their relationships at the back of the book, but generally was able to figure out the who’s who by going back a few pages.

    I’m not sure how to decide if it’s a good book for a book club as I’ve never in one…..however the complexity of the story I think would make good discussion amongst book club members.

    For me, this book was 5 stars. It kept me engaged and I read it in about 5 days. I look forward to reading other books by this author, who has written several true crime books.

    Debra

  • faftris
    15 days ago
    last modified: 15 days ago

    I am reading a collection of short stories, Neighbors, by Diane Oliver. It was just published, but the stories were written in the 1960's. Oliver was killed in an accident at age 22, while she was at Iowa Writers Conference. The stories are all about integration and the experiences of the civil rights movement. They are heart-breaking.

  • dedtired
    13 days ago

    Just popping in to say i detested Small Mercies. It was so unnecessarly violent. I decided Id read enough about people being pounded and bloodied, and murdered, so I didn't finish it. Not a complete waste since I learned a bit about school busing and desegregation in South Boston.

    Disappointing since i liked Shutter Island, same author.

    I am currently bookless since none of my holds have arrived and the library is closed for the holiday.


  • salonva
    13 days ago

    I started The Cider House Rules. It's been on my list for a long time, and I think way back my FIL passed along a copy that had been passed along to him. I didn't get to it and when we were downsizing, that was given away. I remember reading Garp when it was new and loving it. I recently ( last year>) read The Hotel New Hampshire and while I enjoyed it, I found it just a wee bit over the top and somewhat tedious.

    DD1 recently read The Cider House Rules and said it was possibly one of her all time favorites and I recall DD2 always saying A Prayer for Owen Meaney was one of her all time favorites so it seemed like it was time.

    I'm really liking Cider House, but it's quite long and I think it will be a while. I'm reading it on Kindle so I will have to remember to switch to airplane mode because I might not finish it in time.


  • chisue
    12 days ago

    I shouldn't rate this halfway through it, but I'm blown away by Sebastian Barry's Days Without End. Kazuo Ishiguro (The Remains of the Day) says: "A true left-field wonder....the most fascinating line-by-line first-person narration I've come across in years." You'll meet a starving Irish immigrant boy who joins the US Army in the 1850s to fight in the Indian, and eventually, the Civil wars. I'll never forget his story. 5 Stars

  • salonva
    12 days ago

    Wow that is quite a recommendation chisue-- I put it on hold at the library. Not sure how long Cider House will take me, but I'd love to read that Days Without End.


  • jlsch
    12 days ago

    Chisue, I’ve just started his new book Old God’s Time. It’s been a long time since I’ve read his books, but always liked him. I’m hoping this one is as good.

  • chisue
    11 days ago
    last modified: 11 days ago

    salonva -- Cider House is also a teriffic book, IMO. This one by Barry is just 'something else' -- in the way it's told, as well as the tale itself. It's the combination. (I'm still only two-thirds into it, and it's not at all long.) I doubt anyone will want to read those old 'Westerns' ever again.

  • faftris
    10 days ago

    I am reading something that might be good as an interim book for when you want something that doesn't scream "literature". It is Fourteen Days. It's a collection of linked short stories, each written by a different author, and you have certainly read stuff written by all of them. The premise is that there are tenants in a NYC Lower East Side building, during the pandemic lockdown. Every night, they gather on the roof of their building to get some fresh air, and, eventually, they begin to interact, and each tells a story, kind of like The Decameron.

  • faftris
    9 days ago

    Good thing I didn't make an actual recommendation for Fourteen Days. It was just awful.

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    Original Author
    8 days ago

    Just finished Between Two Kingdoms, a memoir of a young gal who goes through years of cancer treatments and how it affects her life. An easy read but very moving, 4 star and there'd be a lot to discuss in book club. One part that particularly stuck: "You can't guarantee that people won't hurt you or betray you -- they will, be it a breakup or something as big and blinding as death. But evading heartbreak is how we miss our people, our purpose....May I be awake enough to notice when love appears, and bold enough to pursue it without knowing where it will lead."


    I'm still reading 1619 Project and it's slow going...I limit myself to one chapter a day. Not because I'm not learning stuff or because it's hard to read, but because the topics and the historical record is so devastating, it's emotionally difficult.

  • Bookwoman
    8 days ago

    faftris, thanks for the review. I was going to buy Fourteen Days because it looked intriguing, but now I won't!

    I have, very uncharacteristically, not been reading anything beyond magazine articles and things for work in recent weeks. I'm going to California in March and am packing Rebecca Makkai's I Have Some Questions for You and Jonathan Coe's Bournville. I loved Makkai's The Great Believers, and Coe always does great British 'state-of-the-nation' novels, so I have high hopes for both.

  • stacey_mb
    8 days ago

    I've just begun reading The Covenant of Water. I started to listen to the audiobook version and didn't enjoy it. However, some books I find are just better in print, and I think this is one of them. I am noticing things that I didn't catch when I listened and it promises so far to be a winner. It's a very large book, which I always like.

  • Kswl
    8 days ago
    last modified: 7 days ago

    Our neighborhood book club just finished and discussed Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Boylan. I wouldn't recommend it but I wouldn't discourage anyone from reading it.

    SPOILER ALERT:

    It is a novel with an extensive discussion of transgender issues, about a trans girl and written in part by a trans woman. I would give it a 6.5, maybe even a 5.9, on a scale of 1 to 10. The story is told by two narrators whose accounts jump around…. a lot. I am not a huge fan of that approach nor am I fond of being lectured by book characters who exist largely for that purpose. I did learn a good deal about transition challenges —and a lot of completely superfluous info about bees——so it wasn't a total loss, but I did not find the story itself compelling.

  • faftris
    8 days ago

    I liked I Have Some Questions For You, but not as much as her earlier book. Thank you for the Jonathan Coe heads-up. I hadn't heard of him before. Enjoy your trip. DD1 and I are going on a trip next Saturday, so I froze all my holds at the library and am going through book withdrawal since I didn't want to start anything new. We bought tickets to see an opera based on The Grapes of Wrath in April, so the first thing I will do when we get back is get a copy.

  • Funkyart
    8 days ago

    Annie, in case you didnt know, "that young gal" is the same woman who is now married to Jon Batiste ... and I believe a video tour (AD maybe?) of their home was recently shared here. Beautiful woman!

    I finished The Frozen River a bit ago -- I did like it but it went on a bit long for me. I gave it 3/3.5 stars. A good edit may have elevated it to 4/4,5 stars.

    I am currently reading Martyr! by Kaveh Akbar ... I saw a video of his appearance at a local bookstore and found him so very interesting! I am not very far in the book but that is in no way related to the book. I just haven't had a lot of reading time the last few weeks.


  • Bunny
    8 days ago

    faftris, I read Grapes of Wrath for the first time a year or so ago and loved it so much, almost as much as East of Eden, but nothing quite comes close to that.

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    Original Author
    8 days ago

    Thanks FunkyArt...I didn't realize that's who she was and that's the Jon she talks about. I do remember seeing a video of them together. They both have incredible spirits!

  • Bookwoman
    8 days ago

    am going through book withdrawal since I didn't want to start anything new.

    I so understand this. I always try to time my reading so I'm just finishing up something before a trip, especially if it's a hardcover, which I don't want to shlep with me (and I don't like reading ebooks). Enjoy your time with your DD!

  • faftris
    8 days ago

    DD's favorite book is A Room With a View. And has been that always as far as I can remember. I read an article awhile ago about someone who travels a lot, and always buys a copy of her favorite book at her travel destination as a souvenir, usually in the language of the place. That person's favorite book was 1984 ( really? ) . So we have tried to do that in the few places we've been. Many copies in English, because London is our spiritual home. Copies bought in Oxford and Cambridge. We found a French translation in Paris. But this one is going to be the motherload. We are going to Florence, and we have already made a list of all the bookstores there. Plus, we are staying at the hotel that was built on the site of the one in which the movie was filmed. That hotel was destroyed when the Mafia bombed the Uffizi in 1993. We are beyond excited!

  • Bookwoman
    8 days ago

    What a wonderful idea for a trip, and what good taste your DD has in literature!

  • nini804
    8 days ago

    Oh @kswl, I really loved Mad Honey! And I think perhaps maybe you should add a spoiler alert to your thread, bc when I read it, I didn’t know about that issue you mentioned (it’s not mentioned in the blurb about the book,) and I thought it was a great twist to the story. I read it in a day and 1/2…I had to know what would happen. 😊


    I literally just read NONE OF THIS IS TRUE by Lisa Jewell today. It is a very twisty book…reminded me a lot of Gone Girl and a bit like Verity (thought it was bettet than Verity, but not as good as gone girl.) Even though I read this one even quicker than MAD HONEY, I liked MH better. I love books like these that I literally

    can’t put down & I’m holding the book while stirring the spaghetti sauce. 🤣

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    Original Author
    8 days ago

    nini, hahaha, just don't drop the book in the sauce!!

  • Bunny
    7 days ago
    last modified: 7 days ago

    Just finished The Winter Soldier. I liked it very much, 4 stars. Thanks to those who mentioned it in the January thread. You guys have the best recommendations.

    I was hoping for a different ending, but it was a just ending. It's the first Daniel Mason book I've read and love his writing. Straightforward but evocative. I have North Woods on hold.

    Turns out Mason is my daughter's age and is from Palo Alto.

  • Kswl
    7 days ago
    last modified: 7 days ago

    Thanks Nini, I added that warning to my post and apologize to anyone who read it intending to read the book 😕 I knew of both authors and read the story of their collaboration before I read the book.

  • faftris
    7 days ago

    Bunny, North Woods was magnificent! When I finished it, I turned back to page one and read it again. You are in for a treat.

  • Bunny
    5 days ago

    I’m 25% into Days Without End, and oh my.

  • faftris
    4 days ago

    Well, I caved. I do volunteer shelving at our local library, and The Grapes of Wrath was there on the shelf, calling my name. I took it out. I have it for two weeks, but since it's not a new book, they will renew it automatically for another two. I have three more days until we leave, and I can restart it when we return. I always disappoint myself.

  • barncatz
    4 days ago

    I also loved, loved North Woods. Loved it.

    And I just downloaded Days Without End. I had finished a dopey, cringey historical fiction so I have fingers crossed.

  • Bunny
    2 days ago
    last modified: 2 days ago

    Waiting for the March edition...


    Just finished Days Without End. Omg. 5 stars. I have no words.

  • chisue
    2 days ago

    Glad I wasn't alone in loving Days Without End. Best thing I've read in a long time!

    On the opposite end of the spectrum, I'm curious why a respectable house like Simon & Shuster would publish such claptrap as The Antique Hunter's Guide to Murder. It's an "Atria" marque, if that signifies something to avoid. Can you award *minus* stars? This is a -5.

  • Annie Deighnaugh
    Original Author
    2 days ago
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