September 2017

Once Upon a Time in Russia, Ben Mezrich. I was told this would be an easy breezy, more story style version of The New Tsar I mention farther down. It is. Really gritty, fast paced, and considerably shorter. /// Inside the Victorian Home. A book I’ve had awhile and finally investigating. It’s a very dense rundown of all manners of living and lifestyles and home rearing during the time. Enjoying it truly. /// Listening via library app to a Tana French detective novel. They were recommended. Apparently this Dublin author has a cult following. New York Times bestselling author Tana French is “required reading for anyone who appreciates tough, unflinching intelligence and ingenious plotting”. We’ll see.

August 2017

A Wild Sheep Chase, Haruki Murakami -I’ve read nine of his books, and this was the first time I just didn’t get into. I’m actually gonna come back again though. He requires a bit of suspension and maybe I was too distracted or had sipped too much wine when I sat down with it. /// My Struggle, Book 1, Karl Ove Knausgaard -I’ve known of this Norwegian author for years. I’ve read a few excerpts he’s written via Literary Hub. Now, I will absolutely finish the series and track down like a bloodhound all he’s ever written. /// Fates and Furies -really exceeded my expectations and stretched my concentration muscle, as I listened to it via my local library app. Anyone who considers themselves an intelligent literature-contemporary fiction fan, this is well worth the time investment. I spoke more thoroughly of it in this blog post. /// Men Without Woman, Haruki Marukami -I loved this! A bunch of short stories, obviously all narrated by men observing their relations with the females in their lives, from friendly to intimate. Marukami at his best. /// The three Robert Galbraith detective novels (pseudonym of JK Rowling) The first and the third were better than the second. They’re predominantly narrated by the beat up, broke, in debt war vet and his posh newly engaged assistant. They’re all intelligent and endearing. JK Rowling is an incomparable writer, period. I’m very very particular about detective novels. Her authorship is exceptional.

May-June- July 2017

This being said, most of the beginning of summer was spent on junk food reads. The timing coincided as such that two female novelist, each with a series I’d read up on were both publishing new ones. Cara Black writes from Paris, using each of the arrondisements as its own place setting. Her female character’s voice is simply fun and chic. I indulge in bits of French language and slang drops, plus greater detail on neighborhoods I haven’t seen. /// Even better, by tenfold, are the books set in Venice, Italy written by Donna Leon whom also lives there. These books go really deep in the mind of the male protagonist. They’re full of Italian culture, Venusian characteristics, and family life. Even the food writing over their meals is rich. Each case lends itself to some existential and moral depth, which he openly discusses with his professorial wife. These books are considerably more than solving a crime. /// The Revolution of the Moon, Andrea Camilleri. Speaking of Italy, my first read of any of his works. He also has a detective series and is considered one of the greatest living Italian writers. This book is based off a true event in 17th century Sicilian history. By the death of her viceroy husband and the dictates of his will, a woman becomes queen for 27 days, a full cycle of the moon, till her ousting by the conservative government and the Church. Really fast and fantastic read, 230 pages. So then I tracked down a very old beat-up copy of Montalbano’s First Case and Other Short Stories. It proved to be really lighthearted and delightful; a good intro to his protagonist and his fictional writing style.

The New Tsar, the Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin by Steven Lee Myers. This was my one heavier non-fiction read. It’s been all Russia, all the time, so how could I not want to itch the scratch. In the past, I’ve read about five books centered on Russian history, the rulers or the culture. This one dives deep into Putin as a person, his child rearing and all the political and personal circumstances which have facilitated where he is now. I feel like the author skirted over some of the atrocities in some cases.

The Lost Painting of Sara de Vos via my Kindle app. Goodness, I loved this so much. It goes back and forth between 1631, Amsterdam and 1950’s NYC, then to the present for the ending.

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BrockaSeptember 2017 + prior