Banjo's Time to Read --75/21

Diskutera75 Books Challenge for 2021

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Banjo's Time to Read --75/21

1banjo123
Redigerat: jan 1, 1:47pm


2banjo123
Redigerat: jan 1, 1:52pm

Happy new year, reading friends! I am starting my 2021 thread with a picture of the sunset on the Oregon Coast, that's Banjo, jr in the photo.

For those who don't know me, I am Rhonda, a geriatric social worker, living in Portland, Oregon; with my wife, known as Mrs. Banjo; 24 year old daughter (Banjo, jr) and three cats.

I have been on Library thing since 2012, and in the 75-ers since 2013. I think my reading is eclectic; mostly literary fiction, but also non-fiction; some SF/Fantasy and occasional poetry; graphic novels, etc.

3banjo123
Redigerat: jan 1, 1:55pm

And here is my poem for 2021



4banjo123
Redigerat: jan 1, 2:05pm

and since that was kind of serious, here's a joke:


5banjo123
Redigerat: Idag, 1:09am

And, books!

In 2020 my favorite 5 books read:

Good Talk by Mira Jacob
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout
Slammerkin by Emma Donaghue

Completed in 2021:

1. Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk
2. Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
3. A Prayer for the Living by Ben Okri
4. H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
5. Fiebre Tropical by Juli Delgado Lopera

6. Jack by Marilynne Robinson
7. Come On Up by Jordi Nopca
8. Farm City by Novella Carpenter
9. Children and Other Wild Animals by Brian Doyle
10. In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machada
11. Mourning by Eduardo Halfon
12. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

13.The Resisters by Gish Jen
14. THe Midnight Library by Matt Haig
15. Memorial by Bryan Washington
16. The Queen Of America by Luis Urrea
17. The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Therou
18.The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

19. Nottingham Anna Burke
20. Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu
21. Match to the Heart by Gretel Ehrlich
22. Song Yet Sung by James McBride
23. The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste
24. Coffee will Make You Black by April Sinclair
25. Another World by Pat Barker
26. Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko

27. The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd.
28. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
29. The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
30. THe Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz
31. The Septembers of Shiraz
32. The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean

33. The Mirror Visitor by Christelle Dabos
34. The Missing of Clairdelune
35. The Fifth Season by NK Jemison
36. The Grief Keeper
37. Longitude by Dava Sobel

38. Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
39. The Library Book by Susan Orlean
40. In The Game by Nikki Baker
41, Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
42. Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell
43. The Obelisk Gate by NK Jemison
44. Yearning for the Sea by Esther Seligson

6banjo123
jan 1, 2:14pm

And hooray! Happy 2021! I am looking forward to popping around to different threads, but it's going to be this afternoon, as we have our annual new years brunch, this year by zoom.

7drneutron
jan 1, 2:24pm

Welcome back!

8jessibud2
jan 1, 2:46pm

Happy new year and new thread, Rhonda! Beautiful topper!

9msf59
jan 1, 2:59pm

Happy New Thread, Rhonda. Happy New Year! Glad we are turning the page on that one. Looking forward to sharing another year of books, with you. Love the topper!

10banjo123
jan 1, 3:27pm

Thanks, Jim, Shelley and Mark! It's great to be back for another year. This is such a wonderful group.

11BLBera
jan 1, 3:28pm

Happy New Year, Rhonda! What a great list of favorites. I love your serious poem and your amusing meme.

I love the photo at the top as well. Let's hope for better in 2021.

12FAMeulstee
jan 1, 4:55pm

Happy reading in 2021, Rhonda!

I also love the picture at the top.

13thornton37814
jan 1, 7:14pm

Hope 2021 is filled with great reads!

14Berly
jan 1, 7:15pm



Hope we get can together this year! Here's to a brighter, better, bookier 2021!

15PaulCranswick
jan 1, 8:09pm



And keep up with my friends here, Rhonda. Have a great 2021.

16EBT1002
jan 1, 9:37pm

>3 banjo123: That is a stunning and perfect poem for this transition from 2020 to 2021. Thank you for sharing it.

Happy New Year to you, Mrs. Banjo, Banjo Jr., and the cats!

17ffortsa
jan 2, 10:42am

>3 banjo123:. Wonderful poem for our time, as Ellen said. Thank you.

18Crazymamie
jan 2, 5:06pm

>16 EBT1002: What Ellen said. The topper photo is just gorgeous.

19banjo123
jan 2, 7:56pm

>11 BLBera: Thanks for stopping by, Beth. And I am hoping that the next year brings more LT meet-ups!

>12 FAMeulstee: Thanks, Anita! Mrs. Banjo took the photo, actually, she has a good eye.

>13 thornton37814: Thank you, Lori

>14 Berly: Yes, Kim! An epic LT meet-up is long overdue.

>15 PaulCranswick: Thank you, Paul

>16 EBT1002: Thank you, Ellen. That poem is a bit of a gut-punch.

>17 ffortsa: thanks, Judy

>18 Crazymamie: Thanks. It was an amazing sunset. The kind of gift that makes a week of gray and rain worthwhile.

20banjo123
jan 2, 8:01pm

and hoping everyone is having a good January 2nd. I am trying to get around to other people's threads, and there is so much good reading going around, my mental TBR has grown quite a lot.

I used to keep an actual TBR list; but it got too long to be at all useful.

21justchris
jan 4, 12:05am

Lovely photo! And poem! Heaviness hath its own beauty. And banjos are one of my favorite instruments. Right up there with bagpipes. Though maybe not in the same band. But I think someday I'll stumble over a recording that proves my assumptions wrong...

I do miss Portland. I thought I'd return to the PNW right away after getting my MS in the Midwest, but now it's been 20+ years in the land of prairie. I am increasingly homesick for big trees and big water.

Parable of the Sower is the January book club selection in my building. I should probably pull my copy from the shelf and give it a quick reread.

I look forward to following your reads in 2021.

22banjo123
jan 9, 8:03pm

>21 justchris: Thanks, Chris! Big trees and big water are pretty awesome. As is Octavia Butler

I hope everyone is well. I have been on edge all week with a combo of work worry and the events in our nation. At least Georgia turned blue!! Many thanks to Stacey Abrams.

Today we took a 5 mile walk through Portland's West Hills. Lovely, and it helped my mood. Several of the homes had Poetry Boxes, and we found the following Judy Chicago Poem, which is so hopeful.

23banjo123
jan 9, 8:04pm

And then all that has divided us will merge
And then compassion will be wedded to power
And then softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind

And then both men and women will be gentle
And then both women and men will be strong
And then no person will be subject to another's will

And then all will be rich and free and varied
And then the greed of some will give way to the needs of many

And then all will share equally in the Earth's abundance

And then all will care for the sick and the weak and the old

And then all will nourish the young
And then all will cherish life's creatures

And then everywhere will be called Eden once again

----Judy Chicago

24banjo123
jan 9, 8:19pm

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk

I finished this book by a Nobel Prize winner from Poland. It's about an older woman living in a small community near the Czech border; who is quite eccentric, an amateur astrologer who truly believes that this lives of animals are the same import as lives of people. She also has a hard time bending her actions or statements to fit into society.

There are a series of suspicious deaths in the community, and so the book is a bit of a mystery, and also an exploration of our narrator's life and her relationships with several friends. She is helping one of her friends translate Blake into Polish, that is where the book's title comes from.

Overall, I liked the book, but sometimes I found our narrator's musings a bit too fey. Here is an example of her thinking:

"There are some people at whom one only has to glance for one’s throat to tighten and one’s eyes to fill with tears of emotion. These people make one feel as if a stronger memory of our former innocence remains in them, as if they were a freak of nature, not entirely battered by the Fall. "

25EBT1002
jan 9, 9:56pm

>22 banjo123: Yes to all that. It was a helluva week. Yay for Georgia and WTF for all the rest of that day!

>24 banjo123: I have been wanting to read that for a while now.

26BLBera
jan 9, 10:15pm

I love the idea of poetry boxes, Rhonda. Your hike sounds wonderful.

The good news from Georgia did get buried under the Capitol drama. Stacy Abrams rocks!

Nice comments on Drive your Plow over the Bones of the Dead - I enjoyed that one as well.

27msf59
jan 10, 9:06pm

>23 banjo123: Hooray for Judy Chicago! I like that one.

Happy Sunday, Rhonda. I hope you found some solace in the books this weekend. I sure did. BTW- I would highly recommend Homeland Elegies.

28Crazymamie
jan 15, 3:50pm

Hello, Rhonda! Happy Friday.

>24 banjo123: I have this one in the stacks and am hoping to get to it this year.

29banjo123
jan 16, 12:54pm

>25 EBT1002: Thanks for stopping by, Ellen! I think I would like to try other works by Tokarczuk. She is apparently very political.

>26 BLBera: We are on for another long walk today, Beth, so maybe we will find another poetry box. I do enjoy the opportunity to randomly come across poetry.

>27 msf59: I have not been reading us much as usual, Mark, too much time on TV. But I will look for Homeland Elegies.

>28 Crazymamie: Thanks, Mamie! I am happy for the weekend, and actually, am off until next Thursday. We have MLK day off, and I took the next two days, for some extra rest, and also to watch the inauguration.

Fingers crossed that the inauguration goes smoothly. I am still obsessively checking the news. We are planning a family inauguration watch, with cinnamon monkey bread and maybe some red, white and blue decorations for the living room.

Our Biden Harris lawn sign was stolen. i hope that someone took it in order to show there own support for the President-Elect.

And in other news, I got my first COVID-19 vaccine this week. Oregon is vaccinating Mental Health workers along with health care workers. (as they should) I had some minor side effects to the Moderna vaccine (headache and muscle aches), but nothing to write home about. I was hoping that Mrs. Banjo could get hers soon with the over-65 group; but it looks like the vaccine supply is shorter than anticipated, and she will have to wait.

30banjo123
jan 16, 1:02pm

And as for reading, it's been slow, but I did finish one book.

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

In her second book, Gyasi again covers a wide range of topics; immigrant families; evangelical Christianity; racism; the Opioid epidemic and women in STEM. Unlike her first book, Homegoing; this has a single narrator, Grifty; a young Ghanaian-American woman, who is doing doctoral work at Stanford, studying addiction responses in laboratory mice. The book alternates between her current life, balancing her lab work with the care of her very depressed mother, and her childhood in Alabama and her brother's addiction.

It's well done, though I think sometimes there were too many issues being juggled. I would say that Homegoing was a better book. I am looking forward to reading whatever she comes up with next.

31BLBera
jan 16, 1:15pm

Hooray for getting the vaccine, Rhonda. I loved Transcendent Kingdom more than Homegoing; I think I felt that Gifty was such a well developed character. In Homegoing, we moved so quickly from one character to the next that I never felt as connected to any of the characters, one of the problems, I think, with a book structured like Homegoing.

32banjo123
jan 16, 1:41pm

>31 BLBera: Gifty was a good character, though I did think the end a bit slapped on. Oddly, I just went and raised my rating for Homegoing. When I first read it, I had the same issue with moving from character to character. But I have thought about the book quite a bit since then, and I think that's the sign of a good book.

33jnwelch
jan 19, 2:05pm

Happy New Year, Rhonda.

I haven't read Transcendent Kingdom, but it seems universal that it's good but Homegoing was better.

34Berly
jan 21, 1:51am

I have both Homegoing and Transcendent Kingdom in my TBR pile. I'm encouraged that you like both of them.

Hurray for the Inauguration! And getting your first shot. Thumbs up on both.

35PaulCranswick
jan 22, 8:30am

>30 banjo123: I will snap that one up if the bookstores ever reopen!

36Oregonreader
jan 22, 2:45pm

Hi Rhonda, I'm belatedly stopping by to say hello. I love the picture at the top. I haven't been to the coast in quite awhile and miss it.
I've been wanting to get Transcendent Kingdom for awhile but will have to add Homegoing to the list.

37BLBera
jan 22, 3:14pm

I agree about the end of Transcendent Kingdom, Rhonda. We didn't need the last chapter, in my opinion.

38PersephonesLibrary
jan 22, 4:07pm

Wonderful image at the top. I really do miss the beach and the ocean very much - looking forward to when we can travel again. Happy weekend!

39banjo123
Redigerat: jan 24, 2:33pm

>33 jnwelch: I think that's right, Joe, except maybe for Beth. >31 BLBera:.
>34 Berly: Kim, I think you will like both of Yaa Gyasi's books when you get to them.
>35 PaulCranswick: It will be so much fun to be back in the bookstores, Paul! Though I am not suffering too much. I have plenty of books already, in truth. Also, there are tons of Little Free Librarys around here, so every walk is an opportunity to browse. Yesterday I came home with The Night Watch
>36 Oregonreader: The Oregon Coast is a special place, isn't it?
>37 BLBera: Of course, that's a small quibble with an otherwise engaging book. I am looking forward to see what she does next.
>38 PersephonesLibrary: It's going to be so splendid when we can travel! We are lucky to live close enough to drive to the coast for the day; hoping to get back soon. Though with winter weather it can be a dicey drive.

And happy Sunday, everyone. We are still basking in the happiness of the inauguration. How about that Amanda Gorman? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wz4YuEvJ3y4

I have a couple of books read.. hooray! will be back later for reviews.

40jessibud2
jan 24, 2:42pm

>39 banjo123: - Amanda Gorman was astonishing! So poised and so articulate. Did you see her interview with Anderson Cooper? Really impressive (her not him, lol)

41PersephonesLibrary
jan 24, 3:27pm

I think the whole world was celebrating on Wednesday. :) And I am waiting for any book by Amanda Gorman to be available here soon!

42justchris
jan 24, 9:34pm

>34 Berly: I thought Homegoing was phenomenal. I haven't looked for Transcendent Kingdom yet.

43banjo123
jan 26, 10:27pm

>40 jessibud2: I need to watch that interview! Mrs. B was just telling me about it.

>41 PersephonesLibrary: And hooray for global celebrations! Let's hope we have a celebration for the end of COVID soon.

>42 justchris: Chris, you will probably like TK as well. I will definitely be looking to see what she does next./

44banjo123
jan 26, 10:32pm

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Here is another of the books that have been sitting on my shelves for some time. Macdonald combines the narrative of her training a goshawk, grieving her father, and thinking about T.H. White. The goshawk, named Mabel, gets the most coverage. This is a very well written book, but I realized that I am not all that interested in falconry, so there were times when the book dragged for me.

I also would have liked more insight into her mental health struggles with complicated grief. She describes it very well, but doesn't put her depression into context.

However, it WAS quite a feat to combine the three topics, and as I said, very well written.

45banjo123
jan 26, 10:42pm

A Prayer for the Living by Ben Okri

This is a collection of short-stories by an Nigerian literature treasure, Ben Okri. His stories have a surreal, dreamlike quality. Sometimes that works well, in other stories it was just a bit too odd. My own dreams are weird enough, I don't need to get lost in someone else's.
I think my favorite story in the collection was "Don Ki-Otah and the Ambiguity of Reading," which references both Cervantes and Achebe, and pays tribute to the power of the written word.

46justchris
jan 27, 1:07am

>44 banjo123: and >45 banjo123: Nice reviews! I once aspired to get into falconry. Not any more. That's even more of a commitment in some ways than living with pets.

47jessibud2
jan 27, 7:33am

>43 banjo123: - It was a wonderful interview. Anderson Cooper was so star-struck, he was practically giddy. Made me giggle!

Here you go: https://edition.cnn.com/videos/style/2021/01/21/amanda-gorman-poet-laureate-inte...

48BLBera
jan 27, 4:49pm

I need to read Okri, Rhonda. Great comments. I might check out the collection of stories.

49banjo123
jan 27, 11:11pm

>46 justchris: Thanks, Chris! Falconry would be a huge commitment.

>47 jessibud2: Thanks for the interview... how much poise and maturity!

>48 BLBera: Thanks, Beth.... I am a fan of The Famished Road

50banjo123
jan 27, 11:27pm

Fiebre Tropical by Juli Delgado Lopera

I think this would be a great book to read if you knew both English and Spanish, and were interested in Queer youth issues. Lopera writes in "Spanglish" with a heavy sprinkling of Colombian slang. My Spanish is very elementary, and I started out with Google translate by my side. That was too cumbersome, and also with the slang did not always work. So I ended up just reading, and I did miss some Spanish, but could follow the book in general. It was a bit frustrating for me, but worthwhile in the end.

Francisca is a teenage, Colombian immigrant; figuring out her own sexuality, her family, and her relationship to the fundamentalist Christianity and to the charismatic Carmen, the preacher's daughter. Her voice is great, young and brash. The second half of the book also covers the stories of relatives in Colombia, and was not as interesting and somewhat hard to follow.

Here is a quote to give an idea of the voice:

“Outside, the sky in all its fury released buckets of water that swayed with the palm trees. El cielo gris, oscuro. Talk about goth. Right at noon the sky transformed itself from orange light to chunky black clouds that gave zero fucks about your beach plans or the three hours you spent ironing that hair, splaying all its sadness right in front of you.”

51PersephonesLibrary
jan 29, 5:21am

>50 banjo123: What's the ratio of Spanish/English in the book? Is it like the quote alludes... because I might manage to read that actually. :)

52banjo123
jan 30, 1:58pm

>51 PersephonesLibrary: More Spanish than in that paragraph. I would say about 10% Spanish, based on counting the Spanish words in a random paragraph. But it does vary a bit.
I actually read it for a book group, which meets on Tuesday (zoom), so after the group meets I can let you know the level of frustration different people felt with the Spanish.

Speaking of book groups, my other book group met to discuss Drive Your Plough Over the Bones of the Dead; and everyone who read the book, liked it. It also made for good discussion.

We do have one member who can never read anything where animals are hurt, and she was unable to read the book. I am a bit puzzled as to why, as I recall all the animal issues taking place off-stage; but of course everyone is different in reactions.

53msf59
jan 30, 3:40pm

Happy Saturday, Rhonda. It looks like we had similar thoughts on both Transcendent Kingdom & H is For Hawk, although I find falconry fascinating. Glad you are enjoying the books.

54banjo123
jan 30, 4:55pm

?53 Yes, Mark, I saw your notes on Transcendent Kingdom and realized my thoughts were pretty similar. Thanks for stopping by!

55BLBera
jan 30, 7:51pm

I speak Spanish, so Fiebre Tropical might work for me. I'll add it to my list.

56banjo123
jan 30, 8:35pm

>55 BLBera: I think you might like it, Beth, and since you work with young people many of them immigrants, you might relate.

57PersephonesLibrary
jan 31, 12:55pm

>52 banjo123: Thanks for the insight, Rhonda! I think I will have to work on my Spanisch first. :)

58banjo123
jan 31, 5:44pm

>57 PersephonesLibrary: Yes, I was pretty frustrated for a while, but then relaxed and it was OK. You might be able to read it just skipping the Spanish, but that didn't work for me.

59PaulCranswick
feb 6, 10:44pm

>44 banjo123: I do think that my own disinterest in falconry (much as I admire the beauty and majesty of the birds) coloured my experience with that well written book too, Rhonda.

Have a lovely weekend.

60banjo123
feb 11, 10:16pm

Hello again! The bookgroup overall liked Fiebre Tropical, though some found it a bit sad and dark. One person listened to the audiobook, and really liked it. Also, if you are interested in hearing part of it, the author reads on you-tube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Bet2mULks8

>59 PaulCranswick: Yes, I agree Paul. The birds are amazing, but I don't see the point in keeping them. Especially as it seems they are never really tamed.

61banjo123
feb 11, 10:19pm

I realized that I need to post a couple of pictures of our cats.

Here are Willi and Banjo

62banjo123
feb 11, 10:20pm

And here is Francis and Willi

63banjo123
feb 11, 10:39pm

Book completed!

Jack by Marilynne Robinson

I think I am in agreement with the majority, that this is the weakest of the Gilead series , but that a weak book by Marilynne Robinson is still a very strong book. It is about the romance between Jack Boughton, the prodigal son from the previous books, and Della, a young African American schoolteacher. It furthers the theme of redemption and the exploration of institutional racism that were first explored in Gilead, when we learned about John Ames's family connection to John Brown and the Underground Railroad. The question of the book is whether Jack, with all he has done, is still worthy of redemption, and of Della's love.

Jack is namesake to John Ames, but has long been a disappointment to family and friends. He is a thief and a drunkard, and when we meet him in this book, just out of jail. He is tormented by self-guilt and seems depressed. He and Della meet by chance, and bond over a common love of poetry. It's a bit hard to imagine that this is enough to endear Jack to Della; but perhaps she wants a relationship where she can just be herself and not an ambassador for the African American race. Her father is a pastor and follower of Marcus Garvey, and totally against Jack.

What I most liked about the book was the chance to get into Jack's head, and to explore how it feels for him to look at his life and himself and feel a failure. I did feal that Robinson should have explored Jack's relationship to alcohol further. She talks about it, but never really shows us Jack drunk.

64PersephonesLibrary
feb 12, 4:07am

Rhonda, your fur babies are adorable!

65BLBera
feb 12, 10:10am

I love the cat photos, Rhonda. One of these days I'll get back to Robinson.

66jessibud2
feb 12, 1:40pm

Such sweeties, Rhonda. How old are they? Related?

67banjo123
feb 13, 6:15pm

>64 PersephonesLibrary: Thanks! I should give my daughter credit... she took the photos.

>65 BLBera: Thank you, Beth. I am thinking of doing a Gilead reread this year.

>66 jessibud2: Shelley, they are not related (genetically at any rate.) Francis is 12, he is the bad boy of the bunch; lots of energy and bad habits (always trying to steal food) He can be super-sweet, and can also be aggressive. He was about 10 months when we got him, and very entertaining, but also kind of scary. I think he'd had a hard kitten-hood. (here is a video from his youth https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2SepxR3O9c)
He liked to attack our ankles when we ate breakfast, which wasn't very pleasant. But we ended up getting Banjo, who is 9-ish, as a kitten, because Francis absolutely loved him. We sort of stole Banjo from my sister who was rescuing his litter; she now has his brother and sister. After we got Banjo, Francis calmed down a lot (though still plenty feisty)
Willi is about 7. We got him because my daughter wanted to foster a kitten, he was sick and needed TLC. We tried to keep him apart from the other cats, but that didn't work, they all got sick. Everyone recovered, and by then Willi wasn't going anywhere else.

The three have their moments, but they get along better than any other group of cats I've ever had. I think that was just luck... they are all very social with other animals.

68banjo123
feb 13, 6:18pm

And happy weekend, everyone! It's snowy here in Portland, and we had a lovely morning walk. It's so much fun to have few cars in the streets, people cross-country skiing and kids sledding. We walked over to a local cemetery, very pretty.

69jessibud2
feb 13, 6:54pm

>67 banjo123: - Great video, especially that ending! ;-). I can see how Francis rules the roost, though it worries me that you say he is the bad boy, at 12, and you got him at 10 months. My Theo was 9 months when he came home with me just 4 months ago. He is not only exhausting me beyond belief, but to think he might not outgrow this behaviour, is worrisome. Most of the time (ie when he's sleeping or just hanging out on the chair near me), he is sweet and affectionate, and he doesn't bite, thank goodness. But the rest of the time, he is MANIC. And he does still stalk and jump Owen, and it's Owen's screeching at those times that unnerves me most of all. I have always had 2 cats at a time but have never, in all the years I've had cats, experienced this type of behaviour. I think I have been incredibly spoiled up to now and maybe this is payback from the cat gods.

70banjo123
feb 14, 6:51pm

>69 jessibud2: Franny can be a challenge, but we love him. He has definitely calmed down as he's gotten older, but he still sleeps less that any other cat I have ever heard of.
Hopefully Theo calms down; I do think that feeling secure in his home will be a help. It was for Francis -- he used to have a ton of stomach issues, which I think were stress related.

71BLBera
feb 15, 10:21am

>68 banjo123: It looks so pretty. Is it cold? The air temp is -20 here right now, windchill -40--50. I'm staying inside. I do have to venture out to get groceries but will wait until it heats up a bit. I am really sick of this Polar Vortex crap.

72banjo123
feb 15, 7:27pm

>71 BLBera: Brrrrrrrrrr. I'd be sick of it too. It's not nearly so cold here
THe main problem we have is weather in the 30's with freezing rain and/or snow melting and freezing into sheets of ice. But usually only a few days a year.
This weekend was in the 30's; today is warming up and the snow turning to slush. Lots of people have lost power, and some trees/branches have fallen. We have been lucky on both counts.

73banjo123
feb 15, 7:42pm

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Our book group decided to read this racial-justice themed YA novel. I had previously seen the movie, which was fairly faithful to the novel, and had some advantages. I felt that the novel was overly long, and also that the pacing in the last part of the novel was confusing, and worked better as a movie.
The novel did have some advantages; it spent more time exploring the community of Garden Heights, and the strengths of that community. This made the father's determination to stay in Garden Heights make a little more sense. (example: when the family visits Khalil's grandmother bringing a lasagna, and it's hard to find room to put it in the fridge, because so many neighbors have been bringing casseroles.)

The author has a new novel out, about Maverick Carter's backstory. I heard her interviewed on NPR, it was an interesting interview and she sounds very nice. You can find the interview here: https://www.npr.org/2021/01/12/955938704/concrete-rose-is-angie-thomas-follow-up...

Reading this book I was reminded of another recent read, Residue Years; which explores the crack cocaine epidemic through a mother/son story which is very reminiscent of Khalil's story in The Hate You Give. I would recommend that book for a less YA exploration of the issues.

74PersephonesLibrary
feb 20, 6:58am

>68 banjo123: Oh, good, there are other people visiting cemeteries for walks...
>73 banjo123: Angie Thomas is on my reading list, though it will still take some time until I will read her books.
Have a lovely reading weekend, Rhonda!

75BLBera
feb 20, 8:22am

I've had the Angie Thomas on my shelf for a while. Maybe I should just watch the movie.

76msf59
feb 20, 8:38am

Happy Saturday, Rhonda. Good review of Jack. I agree, it may not have been a great book but still worth reading. I liked The Hate U Give a bit more than you and I also really liked the film. Good to know she has a new one out.

77banjo123
feb 20, 1:56pm

>74 PersephonesLibrary: Thanks, Kathy, the cemetery is a lovely place to walk; lots of trees and little traffic.

>75 BLBera: and >76 msf59: Mark and Beth, I think that I did like the movie better; though the book did have some thought-provoking parts. Particularly, the parent's struggle, in figuring out what you owe to your community vs. what you owe to your own children/family was a bigger part of the book. Still, I thought the book was too long in parts, and some cultural elements were belabored. (Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) She did write the book with young black readers as her primary audience; and I think it would be a great book for that audience.

I will also say, and this is a bit illogical, but I think I liked her better after listening to the interview; because she sounds like just such a nice person.

Wishing everyone a good weekend! Our snow is mostly melted here, and most people have gotten their power back. We were lucky to have never lost power, but my sister and brother-in-law were out of power for a week, and also a tree fell on their car.

Work-wise it was a stressful week, one of those weeks where I wonder why I don't do less stressful work. And one of my best staff gave notice, it makes sense for her career, so I am happy for her, but hiring has been very difficult lately. In community mental health, salaries are not great, so we get folks early in their careers, and lots of turnover. I think that the importance of mental health services is being more and more recognized, so I am hopeful that in the future, salaries and working conditions will be better. But I will be retired by the time that happens.

I have a couple of books read, so that was good. I am hoping to improve on my January reading numbers.

78banjo123
feb 20, 2:22pm

Come On Up by Jordi Nopca

I received this book of short stories from Barcelona writer Jordi Nopca from Library Thing's Early Reviewers. It's well written, but I found the stories a bit repetitive in theme; basically they are about heterosexual relationships coping with the strains of a poor economy. It was fun to have the Barcelona setting, and interesting to think about how young people in Europe face similar challenges as young people here in the U.S.; but with a bit more of that European reticence. I think my favorite stories were "Angels Quintana and Felix Palme Have Problems" in which a restaurant worker faces getting older, and less employable by sinking more and more into alcoholism, and his girlfriend, tries repetitively to save him and the relationship; and "Swiss Army Knife' which ends more dramatically than most of the stories in the collection. In this story, a middle age couple focus their mostly sex-less relationship on reading literature in preparation for travel.

79banjo123
Redigerat: feb 28, 9:47pm

In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado

This must be a very good book, because I had to keep reading, despite several issues. (1) it's a memoir about domestic violence in a Lesbian relationship, so a tough topic. (2) It's quite literary, so sometimes hard to follow. (3) It's told partly and first person, and then partly in second person (4) The book's font is too small, and hard to read. It has footnotes, which I had to skip.

I find second person narrative hard. I think it worked in this book as it emphasized the narrator's shaky sense of self. The book does a really good job of showing how emotional abuse impacts the victim.

Also, the book has a fascinating ending.

80banjo123
feb 28, 10:00pm

Mourning by Eduardo Halfon

This is a selection of stories by Guatemalan-American writer, Eduardo Halfon. He has an interesting history; his family is Jewish and his grandfather a Auschwitz survivor. Halfon was born in Guatemala, but moved to Florida when he was 10. I have read a couple of other books by him, he writes short stories based on family history, so pretty autobiographical. I read an interview with him, he said that he thinks in English, but writes in Spanish. His writing is direct, but thick with emotion. He can be meandering, but then circle around to make a very tough point.

This book has three stories; the first two are set in Europe; he is brought to speak about his writing in Italy, and to visit a Holocaust memorial there; visits Poland to see where his grandfather was born. The third story, mourning, recounts his attempts, including a trip to Guatemala, to learn more about an uncle Salomon, who had died in unclear circumstance.

81banjo123
Redigerat: feb 28, 10:13pm

Children and Other Wild Animals by Brian Doyle

Oregon writer Brian Doyle died at age 60, in 2017; way to young. We had met him at a bookstore, and he autographed this book for Mrs. Banjo, "With laughter and prayers" and a little sketch of himself. He was such a nice man, and also a very good writer.

This book is a collection of short essays, mostly about nature, animals and children. It was nice to read and to remember what an amazing world we live in. Here is a paragraph:

"I work at a university perched on a high bluff over the Willamette River. Across the river is a line of velvet hills punctuated by soaring hawks; below the campus is the sinuous gleam of the river, a highway for creaking flotillas of great blue herons. The campus itself is a village of many species: students, professors, employees, cars, insects, trees, birds. Students and birds are the most exuberant. The students chirp, preen, molt, congregate in gaggles and flocks, perform bizarre courtship dances. The birds study insects, analyze traffic patterns, edit lawns, flutter through classrooms. Some birds live in residence halls; others commute to the university. I have seen nests in eaves, nests in pipes, nests in windows. "

82banjo123
feb 28, 11:33pm

Farm City by Novella Carpenter

This is a very funny account of Carpenter's time establishing an urban farm, on an empty lot, next to her apartment, in a gritty Oakland neighborhood. She raises bees, chickens, duck, turkey, rabbits, and even pigs. Not a book to read if you are squeamish about meat.

I enjoyed the book, even though I would never be an urban farmer. I am not even into gardening. But it is interesting to think about how our lives could be more sustainable. Even though Carpenter gets herself into some situations (dumpster diving in order to feed her pigs); I admired her willingness to dive headlong into new experiences, and to try things she didn't quite know how to do.

83BLBera
mar 2, 2:34pm

What a lot of good reading you've been doing here quietly, Rhonda! I've added four new books to my list; the only reason it wasn't five is because I already wanted to read something by Machado.

I'm not familiar with Halfon, but he sounds interesting.

84charl08
mar 2, 2:51pm

>82 banjo123: Tempted by this one. I've never lived near a city farm, but a friend's flat in the Netherlands backed onto one, really charming to see the ponies and goats from the back window.

85EBT1002
mar 3, 11:56pm

>68 banjo123: Lovely walk!

>81 banjo123: I believe I recognize that description of U of P, yes? My grandniece has been offered a pretty awesome scholarship to attend there for college next year. P and I are hoping she accepts.

>73 banjo123: I thought The Hate U Give was very well done. I have Concrete Rose on the shelves but haven't yet read it.

86banjo123
mar 7, 1:15pm

>83 BLBera: Halfon is interesting, Beth, and you could read him in Spanish. I think my favorite that I've read by him is a book of short stories Monastery, Halfon

>84 charl08: This was quite a fun read, Charlotte, and interesting to think about how we could integrate the urban life more with farming. But not charming like goats and ponies in the Netherlands, I don't think.

>85 EBT1002: Yes, the U of P. That would be cool if your grandniece was in Portland! I will look forward to your review of Concrete Rose

And hope everyone is having a good weekend. I am happy because now I am fully vaccinated, and so went to Zumba yesterday. I have also started back at the office 2-3 days a week (working from home the other days), which I am a little more ambivalent about.

87banjo123
mar 7, 1:28pm

The Resisters by Gish Jen

I got this out of the library after reading about it on Beth's thread. So thanks, Beth!

I don't think that this is Jen's best work, but it was a fun read, combining a dystopian future with baseball. The dystopia was based on things happening right now (technological surveillance, racism, climate change, class divide), so it was eerily scary. Society is divided into two groups, the netted and the surplus. Both groups mostly ruled by an artificial intelligence called Aunt Nettie.

The book seemingly focuses on a girl, Gwen; "with a golden arm" who is born to a surplus couple, Eleanor and Grant. Eleanor and Grant are resisters, Eleanor as a lawyer, fighting Aunt Nettie in court; and Grant more in a background technological level, finding ways to get around Aunt Nettie's surveillance. Baseball has been banned, but it's obviously what Gwen needs, so they form an underground league.

Some people have complained about too much baseball in the book. I didn't mind that, but I did wish there was less pitching and more fielding. I do question the choice of baseball as a resistance sport. In reality, baseball is pretty aligned with conservative values in the US; basketball would have made more sense.

At any rate, the book is creative and fun. I like Jen's writing, but the story is narrated by Grant, and his voice to grate at times.

88BLBera
mar 8, 1:04pm

>87 banjo123: I am so glad you liked this one, Rhonda. I thought the strongest part was what you mentioned - the surveillance, racism, and class divide. I found the choice of baseball to be interesting as well -- one wouldn't think of it as a "radical" sport.

89PaulCranswick
mar 8, 1:11pm

>86 banjo123: Pleased to see that you are relieved to have gotten your vaccinations finished, Rhonda. Some way off for expatriates here in Malaysia, I fear.

90banjo123
mar 13, 4:54pm

>88 BLBera: Thanks Beth. The one thing about baseball, is that it's a sport that really has room for both individual and team performance, so perhaps that made it a good sport for the book.

>89 PaulCranswick: Thanks for stopping by, Paul. Yes, I am feeling more relaxed, now that I am vaccinated, and Mrs. Banjo had her first shot, so she is on the way as well.

91banjo123
Redigerat: mar 13, 5:06pm

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

In this book, the main character, Nora Seed, depressed and suicidal, feeing many regrets for things that she could have done differently in her life, is given the opportunity to visit the 'Midnight Library" and to find out how her life could have been different if she had made different choices. (Stuck with competitive swimming; stayed in the band with her brother; married the fiancée.)

It's an interesting idea, and well-done. The point, as I see it, is that we don't really know how things would have turned out if we'd chosen another path; and if often may have had as many negatives as positives.

The book is a bit conceptual, and I felt light on character development.

92msf59
mar 13, 5:09pm

Happy Saturday, Rhonda. I am a Doyle fan, so Children and Other Wild Animals sounds like a good one. My SIL recently read and enjoyed The Midnight Library, so it looks like I will be reading it, in the coming weeks.

93banjo123
mar 13, 5:13pm

Hi Mark! I think you will enjoy the Doyle, as there is lots of nature writing, and some birds.

Mrs. Banjo and Banjo, jr also read The Midnight Library; so now we can have a family book group. Except I think that they both liked it better than me.

94charl08
mar 13, 6:25pm

>91 banjo123: I found it a bit too moralistic at the end, although I liked the idea. I felt like I was being hit over the head a bit with the 'every life has value'. Not that I disagree, just that I would have liked it more subtle. Hope the family book group goes well: I cannot imagine a book that would get my siblings and parents sitting down to read it.

95PersephonesLibrary
mar 14, 9:45am

I am glad, you liked The Midnight Library in general - and that we share a similar reading experience.
That ending just didn't allow full stars. Like Charlotte said, a bit too "right in your face". But still I liked it a lot. I was even thinking about rereading it and stop before her very perfect life as a university professor - and figuring out on my own how it should end. If there was a better option...

Happy Sunday, Rhonda!

96BLBera
mar 14, 10:24am

I'll have to give The Midnight Library a try, Rhonda. It sounds interesting.

97banjo123
mar 14, 7:03pm

>94 charl08: yes, I liked the idea but it did feel a bit moralistic.

>95 PersephonesLibrary: I was OK with the ending, actually, as it made sense to me that after being through all those different lives, Nora would be ready to make some changes.

>96 BLBera: It's a nice read, Beth, you will probably like it.

And happy Sunday everyone. It's been a nice day here, though rainy. Banjo, jr and I had a baking project this morning, and we had a walk with a friend this afternoon. Now I am looking to read. I just started Memorial by Bryan Washington, and it is so good. Tough topics, though.

98Oregonreader
mar 16, 9:09pm

I'm just stopping by to say hi, Rhonda. I can't believe how far behind I am on your thread. The Midnight Library sounds interesting.

99jnwelch
mar 19, 6:30pm

Hi, Rhonda. I’m a fan of The Hate U Give (I’m so glad so many high schoolers are reading it), and I thought the prequel, Concrete Rose, was excellent.

100banjo123
mar 21, 1:11pm

>98 Oregonreader: Hi Jan! Yes, Midnight Library as a good read.

>99 jnwelch: Thanks for stopping by, Joe, and glad to hear a positive review for Concrete Rose.

I hope that everyone is having a good weekend. We had a first this weekend--- entertaining other vaccinated folks INSIDE. Banjo, jr, is still not vaccinated, but since she was the only one, it fell into CDC guidelines. (plus she is young and healthy)

It was weird at first, then it felt normal.

101banjo123
mar 21, 1:21pm

And I read Memorial by Bryan Washington

I thought this was a great book, about the relationships between two men, Benson, an African American in Houston and his boyfriend, Mike, who is Japanese American; and also their relationships with their families. Benson works in a child care center, Mike is a restaurant. The relationship is troubled, as both men come with a fair amount of baggage.

As the book starts, Mike leaves for Japan, to care for his estranged, terminally ill father; Benson is left behind with Mike's mother, who had just showed up from Japan for a visit. We get the story from both men's viewpoints; and learn something about how much richness there can be even in a very flawed relationship.

Washington called the book a " gay slacker dramedy," which I think is a good description. It leaves you with good feelings, but no answers.

102Berly
mar 25, 11:30am

>100 banjo123: Totally jealous that you could all be together INSIDE!! I am having my kids and their significant others tonight OUTSIDE for dinner. : ) Congrats on being vaccinated. I get my first one this Sunday! Happy reading and say Hi! to Mrs Banjo for me.

103banjo123
mar 27, 3:51pm

>102 Berly: Thanks, Kim! And happy that you are getting vaccinated.

We are having a small outside Passover Seder, tonight, but life IS getting closer to normal. I am back to working in the office, starting on Monday, and went to Zumba class today.

104banjo123
mar 27, 4:01pm

Queen of America by Luis Urrea

This is historical fiction, based on the real-life story of Teresita Urrea, the Saint of Cabora, who was also a distant relative of the author. It is a sequel to The Hummingbird's Daughter. I enjoyed this book as a romp through the United States at the turn of the 20th century; and also as an exploration of the intersection between religion, politics, economics and womanhood.

Teresita had been a folk-saint, also associated with revolution and rebellion of indigenous. She and her father were forced into exile by the Mexican Government, at the end of the first book. In this book, she travels through the States, healing people and falling in love with the wrong men.

105msf59
mar 27, 5:15pm

Happy Sunday, Rhonda. I want to read Memorial and his earlier story collection. I am also a fan of Urrea. I have still not read Queen of America but I really enjoyed The Hummingbird's Daughter.

106banjo123
mar 27, 5:41pm

>105 msf59: I had been meaning to read this for years. It was so long since I had read the Hummingbird's Daughter, that I had only a vague memory of it, but I was able to follow this one anyway.

107PersephonesLibrary
mar 28, 6:33am

>97 banjo123: I agree, Rhonda! It was actually the only possible ending somehow.

Have a nice weekend!

108banjo123
mar 28, 2:08pm

109BLBera
mar 28, 9:57pm

I get my second shot next week, Rhonda! My daughter got her second one on Friday and had a couple of miserable days.

I liked The Hummingbird's Daughter and have been meaning to read more by Urrea.

Memorial sounds good, too.

110charl08
mar 29, 3:20am

How lovely that you are able to meet again inside. Looking forward to doing that with family when it's allowed again here.

I've not come across The Hummingbird's Daughter - I will look for it here.

111banjo123
apr 3, 8:09pm

>109 BLBera: They say that young people have more vaccine side effects, so hopefully yours is OK. And Urrea is good at historical fiction.

>110 charl08: Yes, it's so nice to see people in person. We had my dad over today, and it was great to see him inside. Hopefully you get to have some gatherings soon as well.

112banjo123
apr 3, 8:16pm

And books read:

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

I really like Donaghue's writing, and found this book to be a good read. It's historical fiction, set in Ireland in 1859, Lib, a nurse who had worked under Nightingale is hired to monitor a young girl, who is reported to have lived for months without food, and in devotion to her Roman Catholic God. I won't get into plot, but the book has a good sense of place and time; and at the same time reminds us that people in the past dealt with the same issues that we deal with today.

113banjo123
apr 3, 8:30pm

The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux

I have a number of books that I picked up with the intent of reading soon, but have been sitting on my shelves for several years. My goal this year is to read 1-2 such books a month. I picked this one up after reading Theroux's The Old Patagonian Express, which I loved.

I didn't like this as well, not sure if it was the book, or if it was me. This is Theroux's tale of a long train journey through India and Asia in 1973. As I read the book, I was constantly aware that I was reading a white man's perspective on these countries. There is nothing wrong with that, but I think I have grown to be happier when I read about people's own experience. (also, his treatment of women is problematic.)

However, Theroux is a good writer. I especially enjoyed his chapters about Vietnam. (such an interesting time to be in Vietnam!)

"We were at the fringes of a bay that was green and sparkling in bright sunlight. Beyond the leaping jade plates of the sea was an overhang of cliffs and the sight of a valley so large it contained sun, smoke, rain, and cloud -- all at once --independent quantities of colour. I had been unprepared for this beauty; it surprised and humbled me in the same degree the emptiness had in rural India. Who has mentioned the simple fact that the heights of Vietnam are places of unimaginable grandeur? Though we can hardly blame a frightened draftee for not noticing this magnificence, we should have known all along that the French would not have colonized it, nor would the Americans have fought so long, if such ripeness did not invite the eye to take it"

114banjo123
apr 3, 8:34pm

Nottingham Anna Burke

This is a lesbian re-telling of the Robin Hood legends. Well done, with lots of adventure if not great literature. Read for the lesbian book group.

115BLBera
apr 6, 2:32pm

>114 banjo123: This sounds interesting.

I loved The Old Patagonian Express, Rhonda. I read Theroux's train books years ago -- I don't know that I would like them so much today. He is a bit of a curmudgeon.

I want to read more Donoghue.

116banjo123
apr 11, 4:51pm

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

This was a timely book; it addresses the impact of Asian Stereotypes by placing it's characters within "Interior Chinatown," a movie set, complete with Golden Palace Restaurant, and Chinatown SRO. Our main character, Willis Wu, plays the part of Generic Asian Man, while striving to become Kung Fu Guy.

It's cleverly done, insightful and funny. At times I felt that the book was a bit two two-dimensional, but that, after all, was one of the points of the story.

117banjo123
apr 11, 4:57pm

>115 BLBera: Hi Beth, the book group all liked Nottingham, it's a pretty fun read.

I am thinking of reading Donoghue's Pull of the Stars, but it's maybe too close to real life for me.

Speaking of real life, it is getting realer. I am back to work at the office, and we are looking to start seeing clients in person soon. (I've actually done a few visits to nursing homes, and it is SO nice to see folks in person after the past year. )
Friday night we went to Oregon's first live sporting event since the pandemic; the Thorns, (Women's Soccer) played to a 15% full stadium. It was a really nice feeling, and with masks and outdoors, etc. felt very safe.

118BLBera
apr 11, 10:25pm

Good luck with your return to the office. Will you be back full time?

119Oregonreader
apr 15, 12:23am

Hi Rhonda, I read Pull of the Stars and, while it dealt with the effects of the pandemic then, that is the background but not the subject of the plot. I really enjoyed it. That's the only book of Donaghue's that I've read but I'm going to pick up The Wonder. She is a very good writer.

Enjoy our sunshine!

120banjo123
apr 23, 12:24pm

>118 BLBera: I am back full-time. I think that it's good for having more separation between work and home. Unfortunately, we are short-staffed at work, and it's been kind of stressful.

On the plus side; I am in the middle of a week off... we spent the beginning of the week at the Oregon Coast, in an Air BnB. It was lovely. I will try to post some pictures later.

>119 Oregonreader: I am a Donaghue fan, so will try Pull of the Stars one of these days. My daughter started it, and said that she quit because the situation was too close to the current situation.

121banjo123
apr 23, 12:32pm

A Match to the Heart by Gretel Ehrlich

This book is about the year after Ehrlich's being hit by lightning on her Wyoming ranch, and her recovery from that incident. I found that it was a mixed read. Some chapters were really interesting, others not so much.

The part I found interesting is how she describes that we live in bodies that we don't actually know that much about. I had never really thought about how bit of a part electricity plays in our anatomy.

122banjo123
apr 23, 12:39pm

The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste

This book is well-written, but brutal. The topic is the 2nd Italo-Ethiopian War, and the role of women in that war. I learned a lot, as I am afraid that's a part of history I knew so little about before. But I am not sure how to rate this book now that I've read it, or what to think. All of the characters, and most especially the men, were so morally flawed.

Our book group is reading this, so hopefully the discussion will help me.

123banjo123
Redigerat: apr 23, 12:50pm

Coffee Will Make You Black by April Sinclair

And this was for my other book group. It was a pretty fun read, about a young African American girl growing up on Chicago's Southside during the 60's. It wasn't great, and at times heavy handed, in discussing the narrator's family and their relationship to the civil rights and Black Power movements. However, lots of funny bits about growing up in the 60's, so I enjoyed it overall.

124banjo123
apr 23, 1:09pm

Song Yet Sung by James McBride

This book was really good! It's historical fiction, set on the coast of Maryland, right before the civil war. The plot is action-packed; Liz, a young escaped slave is "two-headed" and able to see the future; she is captured by an evil woman slave-catcher, Patty Cannon(based on a real person.) The book centers on attempts from Patty Cannon and another slave-catcher to re-capture her; and on ways that members of the local African-American community attempt to help her and also to survive themselves. Plus there are a number of other, well described, characters, both Black and White, each with their own story line.

Liz resists being sent North on the Underground Railroad, feeling that she won't be free up North either. The book really asks about the nature of freedom.

I was surprised to like this so much, as I previously tried to read Good Lord Bird (written later, by the same author) and could not get into it. Maybe I will try again.

125BLBera
apr 23, 2:35pm

I hope you're enjoying your time off, Rhonda. I finish my semester on May 12, so I will have a break. I hope that things will be more normal in the fall.

Every time I visit your thread, I fall in love with your photo at the top again.

126banjo123
apr 24, 4:46pm

Thanks, Beth! I hope you enjoy your time off. Mrs. Banjo took that photo, I love it, too.

127charl08
apr 24, 5:04pm

>122 banjo123: Wow, great book for a bookgroup discussion. Hope that everyone has time to read it. I read another novel based in experience with Italian colonialism recently - quite a different style (and Somalia not Ethiopia) but some of the same issues (Adua).

128PaulCranswick
apr 24, 11:39pm

>124 banjo123: I have that one on the shelves, Rhonda, and picked it up a couple of times to read and ...didn't. Maybe the third time I dust it down I will dash it off.

Have a lovely weekend.

129banjo123
apr 25, 1:12am

>127 charl08: Maybe I should read Adua? I would like to learn more about the region---I feel quite ignorant. Hopefully the book group will have a good discussion... I am afraid that several folks won't read the book, and that's a bit of an issue.

>128 PaulCranswick: Thanks, Paul! I think you will like it when you get to it.

130banjo123
apr 25, 5:22pm

It has been nice having time off without too much planned to do. We have done a few social things--- it's great that now more folks are vaccinated, and we are able to get together. And more reading time!

Speaking of which, I finished another book last night, Pat Barker's Another World. I had picked it up out of a Free Little Library when we were at the coast. It's a sort of a psychological thriller; Nick is struggling with his own blended family, including a rather disturbed step-son at the same time his grandfather, a WWI survivor, is dying, and reliving his war horrors. Also, a ghost story. The characters are pretty one-dimensional, this isn't Barker's best. But it was an easily engaging read, and I enjoyed it.

131banjo123
maj 1, 6:58pm

And I finished one more book, making April an awesome reading month for me.

Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko is a YA fantasy, set in a West African inspired world. Our narrator, Tarisai, was raised by an elusive and mysterious mother in order to revenge her own wrongs at the hands of the ruling council. Tarisai craves closeness and affection, but also wants to be her own person.

I enjoyed this book, even though the world-building involves some clunky bits. I would compare it to the Divergent series in that way. Definitely nice to read a fantasy with diverse characters. I will look for the sequel.

132banjo123
maj 1, 7:03pm

And a coincidence. Raybearer she talked about Griots. I didn't know what that was, and thought it was something Ifueko made up. However, the word was used again in my current book, The Mermaid Chair by Sue Monk Kidd. Turns out it is:

a member of a class of traveling poets, musicians, and storytellers who maintain a tradition of oral history in parts of West Africa.

So now I have learned a new word.

133banjo123
maj 1, 7:07pm

I hope everyone is doing well! In Oregon, there has been an upswing in COVID cases, and we are on a new lock-down, which is discouraging. However, we and many friends have been vaccinated, so we are starting to socialize again. Tonight we have friends over for a game night. We are all looking forward to in person socialization inside.

134BLBera
Redigerat: maj 1, 7:07pm

Hi Rhonda - Happy weekend! Sorry to hear about your surge.

Raybearer sounds interesting.

And it's always good to improve vocabulary.

135banjo123
maj 1, 7:08pm

>133 banjo123: Thanks, Beth! I borrowed it from Banjo, jr; who also liked the book.

136banjo123
maj 16, 5:52pm

And happy middle of May! I have been in a bit of a reading slump, and haven't been on LT for a bit.

I did finish one book, Sue Monk Kidd's The Mermaid Chair; which I liked. Kidd's work, however, is a bit repetitive. Her newest book, The Book of Longings just came in to the library for me, but I may skip it until later.

137jessibud2
maj 16, 6:50pm

>136 banjo123: - I feel similar to you with regard to Sue Monk Kidd. Some of her books I really adored (The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings), while others were ok but no great shakes, for example, the one she wrote with her daughter (I am too lazy to look it up but I believe the word *pomegranate* is in the title). I listened to all 3 of these on audiobook; the first had the most wonderful narrator and she also was one of the 2 narrators of the second. In the third, both Kidd and her daughter narrated their parts of the story, which was interesting but maybe the story itself just didn't grab me. I actually started but never finished The Mermaid Chair, so there you go. I have her newest on my shelf but have not yet read it.

I feel the same about author Tracy Chevalier; I have loved several of her books but not all and one, I couldn't get through at all. Go figure.

Travelling with Pomegranates. I had to look it up, it was bugging me that I couldn't remember! ;-)

138BLBera
maj 17, 9:16am

Hi Rhonda - Happy mid May to you! I have The Invention of Wings on my e-reader; I think you liked that one?

139banjo123
maj 17, 11:41pm

Thanks for stopping by, Shelley and Beth.

I've actually liked all of Kidd's works that I read, even Traveling with Pomegranates. However, I think maybe I need to space them out a bit more.

The Invention of Wings was probably my favorite, though. We read it for book group, and everyone liked it.

140banjo123
maj 17, 11:49pm

And today I finished The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer.

It's about a Jewish family in Iran, right after the Islamic Revolution. The father, a well-to-do jeweler, is imprisoned, and the book alternates between his stories of imprisonment and torture, his wife's difficulties trying to find him, his young daughter coping with all of these changes, and a son who is in college in New York.

I think it's fairly autobiographical, and that Sofer wanted to honor her father's story. It's a good book, but I thought missing a bit in character development or plot.

141msf59
maj 24, 6:37pm



^An LT Meet Up, in the woods. How cool is this? I had a great time today, Rhonda. I enjoyed our walk at the Arboretum with Wendy and Aaron. It was also nice to finally meet your lovely daughter, Emma. Lunch was also a joy. How did you like that Gumball Head?

God, I love LT folks!

142banjo123
maj 26, 2:42pm

>141 msf59: Thanks so much for posting the photo, Mark! We loved our time with you, so glad that we could make that work. And the beer was great. Emma was very impressed with her Noon Whistle Gummy.

143banjo123
maj 26, 2:47pm

We are just back from our first pandemic plane travel---we went to Illinois, to visit friends; and were able to meet up with Mark on the trip.

We prioritized this visit because Aaron, a high school friend of Mrs. Banjo, has been having some health challenges. Otherwise, I would have probably waited longer for plane travel, but since we are all vaccinated, it felt safe. Luckily, Aaron has great energy, and we were able to do lots of fun things in the Chicago area. We had a lovely bird-walk with Mark, plus lunch and beer and book talk. Also a Red Stars game (women's soccer) and a White Sox game. It was fun to be in a baseball stadium again.

144BLBera
maj 26, 3:41pm

Sounds like a fun trip, Rhonda. And hooray for LT meetups ups!

145banjo123
maj 26, 4:20pm

Yes, hooray for meet-ups! Hopefully there will be more later this year.

I also got some reading in, so hoping to do some mini-reviews soon. I took today off, as we got in quite late last night.

146msf59
maj 26, 6:38pm

Happy Wednesday, Rhonda. I am glad you made it back home safely. Good luck getting back to work tomorrow. Once again, it was a wonderful Meet Up.

147msf59
Redigerat: maj 26, 7:01pm

148drneutron
maj 27, 11:31am

Mark’s a great guy - I’ve had several opportunities for a meetup, and it’s always been a pleasure!

149banjo123
maj 29, 4:29pm

Thanks for posting the picture, Mark and yes, Jim, Mark's a gem. I had been to the Arboretum before, but didn't realize how big it was. Mark took us to really quiet trails, which was so nice.

150banjo123
maj 29, 4:34pm

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

This book which tells the stories of three members of a love triangle, as they graduate from college (Brown) and make there way into the world, during the shrinking economy of the 90's. Eugenides is a good writer, and this was quite absorbing to read. I also appreciated the literary references, and the treatment of mental illness (one of the characters has bipolar disorder.)

So a solid read but a few quibbles, mainly around sex-role stereotyping and the treatment of the woman character. Also, one of the characters was from Portland, Oregon, and that didn't ring true; although that was a minor part of the plot.

151banjo123
maj 29, 4:40pm

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

It's really interesting how individual reactions to books can be. Mark and I talked about this book; which I loved. He said it was OK. (we both love Station Eleven, of course)

This book reminded me a bit of A Visit from the Goon Squad; interesting characters, and the feeling that time itself is a character in the story. And now I understand what a Ponzi scheme is. (it's odd that I didn't quite understand this before, but I think it's so simple I thought I was missing something.)

152banjo123
maj 29, 4:47pm

The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz

I picked this up in a bookstore on our trip. It's a feminist, SF, time travel book; about a group of Punk Rock Riot Grrls, trying to use time travel to make changes to the past in order to preserve reproductive rights for women in the present and future. In a fun plot twist, a lot of the strategy involves the Columbia Exposition in Chicago in 1893; and middle eastern dance.

Some parts of the book were a bit clunky, but overall, I liked it and it was a good plane read.

153banjo123
maj 29, 4:56pm

The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean

I re-read this for book group. Still, a good read. Marina was a docent at the Hermitage, during the Siege of Leningrad. The art works were stored away, and empty frames left throughout the museum. Marina develops a "Memory Palace" by memorizing the art work, so that she is able to give tours through the museum empty of art.

This is based on a true story, so very fascinating. The details of the siege are horrific, basically slow starvation and how it impacts the human spirit. This alternates with stories of Marina's old age, as she develops Alzheimer's, living in the Seattle area with her husband. Dean based this part on her grandmother's experience with Alzheimer's, and it is very well done.

154jessibud2
maj 29, 6:54pm

>153 banjo123: - I remember reading this years ago. I think I received it as an ARC. It impressed me and left me very sad. I haven't read anything else by her, though.

155msf59
maj 30, 8:00am

Happy Sunday, Rhonda. I still have not read The Marriage Plot. He is long overdue for a new one. I am glad you enjoyed The Glass Hotel. I enjoyed it but did not love it. I have still not read The Madonnas of Leningrad. Bad Mark?

156BLBera
maj 30, 11:18am

You've been doing some great reading, Rhonda. I also loved The Glass Hotel although I think it's one that I could reread. Both The Future of Another Timeline and The Madonnas of Leningrad sound good as well.

157banjo123
maj 31, 9:45pm

>154 jessibud2: We read, and liked The Mirrored World by Dean, actually I think I liked it better that the Madonnas, but both really good reads.

>155 msf59: I really like that Eugenides writes books that you can sink into. But it probably takes a while. I think you'd enjoy Debra Dean.

>156 BLBera: Thanks, Beth! I have gotten some good reading lately. Travel is usually good for my reading.

158banjo123
jun 5, 7:17pm

and happy weekend, everyone! No new books completed; life has been pretty busy with work, watching sports, and just toodling around. We were sad to see the Portland Trailblazers out of the play-offs, but perhaps it's best that they are out of their miseries. Today we get to watch the Portland Thorns (Women's Soccer) which should be really fun.

They are going to be upping attendance at the Thorns and Timbers to 80% and requiring vaccinations, which I am happy about.

Right now reading Richard Flanagan's Wanting. And I have a couple of non-fiction books that I am kind of picking at. I think I am making progress with reading "off the shelves" and am down to about 165 unread books. But I don't remember how many I had last time I counted, so it's not clear if I am making progress, or just keeping up with the new additions. And I keep finding enticing books in the Little Free Libraries around here. Earlier this week, I picked up The Library Book; which I had been wanting to read.

159Berly
jun 13, 11:48pm

Hello fellow Oregonian! The meetup with Mark looks like it was great fun. Yes, bummer about the Trailblazers, but I am very happy to hear about the Thorns and Timbers and that they will require vaccinations. Yay! I enjoyed The Library Book -- hope you do too.

160Oregonreader
jun 16, 2:08pm

Hi, Rhonda, You've been doing some great reading. I'm adding The Library Book to my list.

I agree that it was probably good for the Blazers to be out of the play-offs. They have some major problems to deal with. Also good news about attendance being up for the Thorns and Timbers. I was just at Providence Park for my granddaughter's graduation and it made me want to see a soccer game, soon!

161banjo123
jun 18, 7:40pm

>159 Berly: Hi Kim! Yes, hooray for meet-ups, and looking forward to the Library Book.

>160 Oregonreader: That's so cool that you got to see your granddaughter graduate at Prov Park. Mrs. Banjo and Banjo, jr both work there part time, and Mrs. Banjo worked one of the graduations, which she said was really nice.

I think I am going to see two games this weekend, we have season tickets for the Thorns, and I am hoping to get a Timbers ticket too. It will be so exciting to be in a loud crowd again.

162banjo123
jun 18, 8:16pm

Hello all! Last week I had my second shingles vaccine, which knocked me down a peg. I spent most of the last weekend sitting around reading.

This weekend we have soccer, a family gathering, and it is supposed to be hot. I had today off for Juneteenth, and had plans to get a lot done. However, I was tired, and so it's been mostly a chill day.

And isn't it cool to have Juneteenth as a holiday? I would like to try to find a Juneteenth celebration tomorrow, but we have a father's day thing, so I may not have time.

163ursula
jun 19, 12:11am

Oh my goodness, thanks for reminding me of Father’s Day! After telling Morgan last weekend that he was off by a week, I forgot about it entirely.

Very cool to have Juneteenth as a holiday. I read the reasons given by the republicans who voted against it and they were ridiculous. It’s hard to believe people could say them with a straight face.

164banjo123
jun 19, 7:24pm

>163 ursula: You are welcome, Ursula! We did our father's day get-together today, and it was nice to have the family over.

The Juneteenth holiday is pretty cool---hopefully we will be able to retain the intent, and not turn it into something schmaltzy or else a shopping day.

So happy Juneteenth, everyone, hooray for freedom! Here is a nice article by Clint Smith, about celebrating Juneteenth in Galveston, Texas.

https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2021/06/18/celebrating-juneteenth-in-galvest...

And happy father's day, in advance, to all the dads on LT.

165PaulCranswick
jun 19, 7:36pm

>164 banjo123: Just realised that I am having my vaccination on Father's Day! Not sure that is good or bad?

There is so much negativity in the world but I was happy to see the Juneteenth Public Holiday announcement. Well done Uncle Joe Biden, that is far more positive a celebration than tearing down statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

166banjo123
Redigerat: jun 19, 7:44pm

And for books read:

I have been into Sci Fi and fantasy lately, and some YA. I wanted easier reading while recovering from the Shingrix shot.

My daughter recommended The Mirror Visitor series by Christelle Dabos. I read the first two: A Winter's Promise and the Missing of Clairdelune. It's a French YA series, sort of combining dystopian Sci fi with a Gothic Romance The world has been ruptured and divided into numerous celestial islands, or Arks. Our heroine, Ophelia, lives on Anima, and her powers are the ability to travel through mirrors, and also the ability to "read" objects and to know the history of objects through touch. She is forced into an engagement with Thorn, a seemingly cold and unpleasant man from a different Ark.

I found it a good read. It does feel European, with a bit of a meandering, and convoluted plot, and lots of fun characters.

167banjo123
jun 19, 7:50pm

The Grief Keeper by Alexandra Villasante

This is a Young Adult novel about a young woman from El Salvador, seeking asylum in the US, who is manipulated into becoming a grief keeper, and absorbing the trauma from another teenager, as part of a study of PTSD.

This book would probably be enjoyed by it's target YA audience, it's pretty well written, and brings up a lot of issues. But for me, too much of the plot was either unlikely, or not explored in enough depth.

168banjo123
jun 19, 8:09pm

The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin

Well, this is Sci Fi (or fantasy, I get confused about the line between the two). But, not at all an easy read, it's about oppression, and the end of the world. Our main characters are all Orogene, meaning that they have the ability to alter the earth's structures and cause natural disasters. This makes them feared, hunted, and oppressed and totally controlled. We alternate between three characters: Essan, who had been hiding her powers and living as a wife and mother in a small village, when personal disaster strikes, Syenite, who is trying to control her powers and work her way up the the Orogene ladder, and Damaya, a young girl, just taken from her family when her powers show up.

The plot comes together brilliantly, I can see why this won the Hugo.

169msf59
jun 19, 8:48pm

Happy Saturday, Rhonda. I have not been reading much fantasy these days but I did enjoy The Fifth Season, when I read it early last year. Not sure if I will continue though.

170banjo123
jun 20, 7:17pm

>169 msf59: Hi Mark! I will probably read the series... I put the second on hold at the library.

But I am off and on with sci fi.

It has been a nice weekend so far, family brunch and two soccer games; both the Timbers and the Thorns won. Vaccination was required, and the stadium at 80% capacity. It's great to get back to those kind of experiences!

171BLBera
jun 20, 9:39pm

The Fifth Season is on my list even though SF isn't really my thing. Still, I've heard many good things about this one.

It sounds like you're having a great weekend.

172banjo123
jun 22, 12:46am

>171 BLBera: It's a good one, Beth! And yes, a good weekend.

173banjo123
jun 27, 12:07am

Happy weekend everyone, and sympathy to all of us here on the very hot west coast. It's 106 today and tomorrow is supposed to be 112. I am mostly staying inside, thank goodness we have air conditioning. Mrs Banjo and Banjo, jr have to work at a Timber's game. It seems like they should have canceled the game, but they just pushed back the start time.

No books to report on, but hopefully I will get some reading done tomorrow.

A bit of sad news in the household, two of our cats went to the vet; Banjo got a good report card, but Francis's heart murmur is worse, and his thyroid is off. We have him on thyroid meds, hopefully that does the trick. But it's a reminder that he is getting older. (he is 12.)

174banjo123
jun 27, 12:45am

I realized that I needed some new pictures of the cats, so here we are:

Willi hiding in the spare room


Banjo, chillin'


And Franny, the King of Everything

175ursula
jun 27, 2:43am

Sweet kitties! Sorry to hear that the heart murmur is worse, and about the thyroid problem. Loving animals can be so hard.

That weather is insane. Your Sunday is actually supposed to be hotter than Fresno's, which is pretty upside down! (Also, I don't miss that level of heat at all. I'll take my (humid, humid) 84F here.)

176jessibud2
Redigerat: jun 27, 7:24am

Hi Rhonda. So sorry to hear of the kitty health issues. Never easy. 12 doesn't sound old to me but I have been very lucky with all the cats I have had over the years. They have all lived long lives (17, 18, 18 and a half, almost 21). Fingers crossed for Francis.

I would never survive in your heat. It gets plenty hot and humid here and we are currently into such a spell but I am not sure we ever got as hot as you are now. I am quite content to stay indoors. Bandanas soaked in ice water, wrapped around the neck or forehead, might help. I am no good with extreme temps, in either direction, but at least in winter, you can keep piling on the layers. In summer, there is a limit to just how much you can take off....!

Do you have a basement where you live? In emergencies, I would sleep in the basement at night as it is always cooler down there.

177msf59
jun 27, 8:02am

Happy Sunday, Rhonda. Thanks for sharing the kitty photos but sorry to hear about Francis. Stay cool, my friend. That is freakishly HOT for your area. Ugh!

178Berly
jun 27, 5:01pm

Cute kitty photos and best of luck to Francis. Stay cool!! (Is this nuts or what?)

179banjo123
jun 27, 5:30pm

>175 ursula: Thanks, Ursula! Yes, this weather is unusual for Portland, but I think with climate change it will be more of a regular thing. The city has opened several cooling centers, so hopefully we get through the week without weather related deaths.

There is a good chance that Franny will have a good prognosis with the medications; he sees his cardiologist next month. I never thought I would have a cat with a cardiologist, but here we are.

>176 jessibud2: Hi Shelley! That's great that your cats have been long-lived. You must take good care of them. I do think Franny has some good years left, but we will see how he does on these meds.

The hot weather is unusual for this area, so lots of folks don't have AC. (We put in AC a couple of years ago, for which I am very thankful. ) Our basement, I am afraid, is too gross to sleep in. But really, with the AC we are OK.

>177 msf59: Thanks, Mark! The weather IS pretty ridiculous.

>178 Berly: Thanks, Kim! Hope you are staying cool.

180ursula
jun 28, 4:51am

>179 banjo123: I never thought I would have a cat with a cardiologist, but here we are.

Exactly. We didn't have a specialist, but nevertheless when we were taking Cleo in for daily coronavirus treatment injections I thought the same sort of thing. But what else can you do? :)

181BLBera
jun 29, 8:46am

I hope Franny's medications work.

Stay cool! Your weather is crazy. And please don't send it our way!

182banjo123
jul 2, 3:22pm

>180 ursula: It's pretty funny, isn't it Ursula?
>181 BLBera: It seems like the meds are starting to work, so we are hopeful. And it's cooler now, hooray!

183banjo123
jul 6, 3:34pm

Hope everyone had a safe 4th of July, We went up to Seattle and caught a couple of baseball games, which was really fun. It's so awesome to have things getting back to normal. And I did get some reading done on the train, reviews to follow.

184banjo123
jul 6, 3:37pm

Longitude by Dava Sobel

I loved Galileo's Daughter by Sobel, this was a less engaging for me. But it was interesting to learn about navigation by sea, and about how much politics has always impacted scientific research.

185banjo123
jul 6, 3:49pm

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks

This was a excellent piece of historical fiction, but very sad. Caleb was based on a real historical person, the first Native American to go to Harvard in the 17th century. He is from the Wampanoag tribe, on Martha's Vineyard. This fictional story is told by a young Puritan woman, Bethia Mayfield. Both Caleb and Bethia deal with a great deal of death, due to the prevalence of disease and early death, a reminder of how much easier our lives are today.

I especially like how Brooks is able to enter the mind of her character, and to imagine what it would be like to grow up in a restrictive religious setting. She also does this in Plague of Wonders, and it is interesting to think about how, for these characters, the religion they grow up with is fact, and they have no reason to question it, even thought a very different set of beliefs than what we have today.

186banjo123
jul 6, 3:52pm

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

I enjoyed this history of the Los Angeles Public Library. I learned lots about libraries, and the history of libraries in the US, and also a fair amount about the history of LA.

187Deedledee
jul 7, 6:55pm

>186 banjo123:
I started to read The Library Book but I couldn't get past the description of the staff watching the library burn. It's a nightmare of mine.

188BLBera
jul 8, 8:43am

Hi Rhonda - I also loved Caleb's Crossing and The Library Book. I wonder if Brooks is working on anything now; I've loved all her books.

It sounds like your 4th was great; I went to see fireworks with Scout - the first time in years!

189banjo123
jul 11, 8:30pm

>187 Deedledee: Oh, yes, that was a hard part.

>188 BLBera: Glad you had a fun 4th! And I hope Brooks is working on something...

190banjo123
jul 11, 8:33pm

a nice weekend, we went yesterday to an outdoor concert, classical music (Liszt; Schubert, Bach, etc). A beautiful setting in the Gorge, I will try to post photos later.

Today was soccer, our Thorns played New Jersey, to a 0-0 draw. Frustrating as they had many chances that they couldn't put away.

191banjo123
jul 11, 8:39pm

and, reading:

Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming

I read a positive review about this on LT, so it was on my list, and then I picked up a copy at a Little Free Library. This memoir, by the Scottish Actor, covers the ramifications of abuse and family secrets. It's an interesting story, and well done for a celebrity memoir.

192msf59
jul 12, 7:58am

Hi, Rhonda. I hope you had a good weekend and I hope it cooled off a bit for you. I can't believe I still haven't read Caleb's Crossing. I think I still have a copy on shelf...

193jnwelch
jul 12, 9:15am

Hi, Rhonda. I loved The Fifth Season, too, and the two following it are just as riveting. They each also won a Hugo award. I believe that's the first time all three in a trilogy won. It's a great one.

194BLBera
jul 13, 9:37am

Hi Rhonda - Your outdoor concert sounds great.

195banjo123
jul 19, 3:23pm

>192 msf59: Hi Mark, the weather has been very nice, actually, but we do need rain so bad.

>193 jnwelch: Awesome to hear that. I just picked up the second book from the library, so I'm looking forward to it.

>194 BLBera: it WAS special Pictures to come

196banjo123
jul 19, 8:51pm




197drneutron
jul 19, 9:18pm

Wow!

198msf59
jul 19, 9:28pm

>196 banjo123: I especially like that middle photo. What a great locale for outdoor music.

199BLBera
jul 19, 9:44pm

Great photos, Rhonda!

200banjo123
jul 20, 12:50am

Hi, thanks for stopping by Jim, Mark and Beth! Earlier tonight I was stymied in my attempts to post by a cat on my keyboard. So I forgot, but should credit my sister, Sarah, for the photos. I stole them from her facebook.

And here is a link to the program https://www.inalandscape.org/ if you want to check more about it.

201banjo123
jul 20, 1:00am

I have been busy lately and haven't gotten onto LT much. I do have a couple more books read, The Memory of Babel which I won't bother to review, as I already reviewed the 1st two in the series, and this really wasn't as good. It seems to me that in a series, the 3rd book is often the weakest.

Also a early reviewer book, Yearning For the Sea; which I need to take time to review. But it's pretty literary, so it will be sometime when I have my thinking cap on.

In annoying book news, I left the book I was reading Autonomous at the gym, and of course no one turned it in. So I think I will get it from the library, though I am kind of mixed. I liked the ideas but the plot was not working for me. I had picked this up in Seattle, as I did like their more recent book The Future of Another Timeline.

Meantime, I am reading Utopia Avenue, which I picked up in a Little Free Library. The LFLs around here are very good lately. I am a David Mitchell fan, but not so sure about this one. If anyone else has read this, does it pick up steam after the first couple hundred pages?

202charl08
jul 20, 11:44am

Oh no re the gym book. Hope you can get hold of a copy.from the library straightforwardly.

Your lake photo makes me wish I could go jump in some water. What a lovely place for an event. It is stinking hot here (for the UK) and I am finding even reading feels like too much effort. Hoping temps cool down later on.

203banjo123
jul 20, 1:19pm

>202 charl08: Hoping that the library book gets there quickly, but the library hold system has been SO slow over the pandemic. Luckily it is not so enthralling, and I do have other things to read.

Sorry it is so hot there!

204banjo123
Igår, 10:12pm

Hello LT People! I have been off of the site; we went camping the other weekend, and then there have been lots of sports to watch, etc. Plus Banjo, Jr had a birthday--- she is 25 which seems quite amazing to me.

the weather here has been hot, but we are doing OK. It's been in the 90's, but after 116, 91 seems quite moderate. (sorry for being US centric and doing it all in Fahrenheit, I guess that that we are talking about 32, instead of 46. I wish that the US would switch to the metric system, but I guess that will never happen.)

I have completed a number of books, and will try to get some reviews done. I have some free time tonight, as Mrs. Banjo and Banjo, Jr are out working at a soccer (football) game.

205banjo123
Igår, 10:38pm

In the Game by Nikki Baker

We read this for the Lesbian book group; it's a mystery, written in the early 90's, and set in Chicago, featuring middle-class African American lesbians. It's fairly well written, but I am afraid that the plot/mystery was not very good. It is an interesting depiction though, of a place and time.

The book group all agreed with this judgment, and so in fact, did Nikki Baker. There is a current intro by her in my copy, and she recommends reading the book for social commentary, not plot. Good advise.

206banjo123
Igår, 11:04pm

Autonomous by Annalee Newitz

Here is the lost-in-the gym book, I was able to get it out of the library. It's a SciFi book with lots of interesting ideas (autonomous bots, indentured humans, "big pharma" creating meds that increase productivity, but bring a huge risk of addiction.) However, the plot of the book was a bit weak. Probably worth it if you would like to read dystopian Sci Fi, with AI and Gender issues highlighted.

207banjo123
Igår, 11:35pm

The Obelisk Gate by N.K. Jemisin

The second book in the Broken Earth trilogy is even better than the first. The dedication is

"To Those Who Have No Choice But to Prepare Their Children for The Battlefield."

Lots to think about, in terms of the relationship between this world and our own. It is easy to see how we could get there from here. Creative world-building, compelling characters, and a plot that doesn't quit.

208banjo123
Igår, 11:59pm

Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell

I am a Mitchell fan, but this book was a slow start for me. It's historical fiction, set in the 60's in the London music scene. Utopia Avenue is a fictional band, but they interact with musicians of the day; David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, etc. Part of this book feels like popular history, only with made-up characters intermixed. Honestly, that part of the book didn't work so well for me; I wanted fact or fiction, not both.

The parts I liked were the stories of the four members of the band and especially Jaspar and his struggles with mental health. The end of the book pulled together the stories of the band members, and made the whole read worth it for me. But I think that the book would have been better if it had been more focussed.

4 stars because I loved the end.

209banjo123
Idag, 12:38am

Yearning for the Sea by Esther Seligson.

This was an ARC, a brief, and very literary novella, translated from Spanish. Esther Seligson was a Mexican writer, poet, playwright, and sounds like quite the character. This is the story of the Odyssey from Penelope's viewpoint. Seligson's version of Penelope is sexier and more impatient than the traditional version.

I liked that the book explored Penelope's character from different points of view. Here is Penelope's voice "I spent this morning trying to reproduce a beat, the beat of our lovemaking of former days, oblivious as if frozen in a dream, and I felt a great stirring in the air, a huge commotion among the seagulls, and the dog, your dog, has not stopped barking for one second."

Here is Ulysses "Fate does not come calling only once in a lifetime, but how often are we able to hear, follow, obey its call?"

We also hear from Telemachus, and from the nurse, Eurycleia. The different voices allow us to think about the roles of women throughout history and what it takes to challenge the assigned role.

210BLBera
Idag, 8:49am

Hi Rhonda - I keep meaning to read Jemisin, and your comments remind me. I have Utopia Avenue on my "read soon" pile as well. Good comments to prepare me for a slow start.