Tuesday, January 31, 2023

CHALLENGE: Historical Reading Challenge January

Marg at Adventures of an Intrepid Reader is hosting once again the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge. I think we are supposed to link each review, but I like this monthly round up of whatever historical fiction reviews I get written. 

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

unknown time period, but before electricity was widespread; felt British early 20th-late 19th century

Time-traveling, so that makes it weird and hard to follow, mixed with a dose of Groundhog Day. A visitor to an estate has to solve a murder and keeps waking up in a different body/perspective at different times in the story. 

The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O'Farrell
1550s Florence, Italy

I read so much English lit and historical fiction, that getting exposed to Italian historical fiction is just so different that it feels more interesting. It may be why the Neopolitan books by Elena Ferente were so popular. Here we have a poor child married off by her father, a Medici, to a count of Ferera. Poor girl had no chance. The legend is that she is the Last Duchess in the poem everyone likes, My Last Duchess by Browning and a portrait of her is a major plot point. It's also major foreshadowing to have that  quote at the start of the book.

O'Farrell uses a back and forth, past and present, to tell the story. It gives a picture of Lucrezia as a child, and the woman she becomes. Only Lucrezia gets fleshed out very much; the men are all a-* holes, filled with power and no consequences, and they remain stock characters. That was fine, I didn't want to know more about them. I did appreciate that characters didn't seem to have modern sensibilities dealing with their historical situations. So there were women trying to help Lucrezia, but only in small ways that women could have back then. O'Farrell doesn't disappoint with this HF.

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Jan 24 TOP TEN TUESDAY: New Authors from 2022

I always love this topic - Top Ten New Authors you read in 2022. It's always fun to find new authors, especially new-to-you authors who have a whole backlist to delve into. 

Louise Erdrich - The Sentence

Glennon Doyle - Untamed

Elif Shafak - Island of Trees

Cynthia Hand - My Plain Jane, My Lady Jane

Catherine Hernandez - Scarborough

Clare Chambers - Small Pleasures

Simone St James - Broken Girls, The Book of Cold Cases

SJ Bennett - The Windsor Knot, All the Queen's Men

Cat Winters - The Raven's Tale

Lucy Atkins - Magpie Lane

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

TOP TEN TUESDAY: Favorite Books of 2022

I forgot to post my Favourite Books of 2022 and since I don't really make Bookish Plans I am changing it up for this week's Top Ten Tuesday. I didn't have as many terrific reads this year, but I managed to find some really good books.

Best Book
Scarborough - Catherine Hernandez

This was a gritty look at poverty in a housing development in Scarborough, Ontario. It was so positive, even with all the sadness that it caught me off guard, but in a good way. 

Best Homage
My Plain Jane - Cynthia Hand
My Lady Jane - Cynthia Hand
These were my best find of the year, and there is another in The Janies series, and there is a whole Mary series. Each is a rewrite of a famous book or person, Jane Eyre and Lady Jane Grey, but then there is a fantasy aspect (ghost-hunting, animal shape-shifting) that make then absurd and hilarious.

Best Book I Was Looking Forward To
When We Lost Our Head - Heather O'Neill
Take the French Revolution, but make it with women and set in early 1900s Montreal. Bravo!

Best Science Fiction/Thriller
The Apollo Murders  - Chris Hadfield
Wild ride in space from the Canadian who can do anything and everything!

Best Nonfiction
The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century - Kirk  Wallace Johnson
Narrative fiction with natural history, a mystery, and just fascinating story about fly-fishing ties.

Best Short Novel
The Swimmers - Julie Otsuka
I don't know how Otsuka does it with so little, but her books are so powerful and inventive. This one was about a crack which develops in a community swimming pool, and then turns into a beautiful tribute to Alzehimers

Best Historical Fiction
Haven - Emma Donoghue
I wasn't sure about this one, set in 7th century Ireland about monks who go live on an isolated island, but I was very invested by the end, and loved how it all came together. 

Best Quiet Character Study
Small Pleasures - Clare Chambers

I'm sure I would never have read this book without the Women's Prize Longlist but what a sweet treasure. I saw this listed somewhere on a book list of books which took you pleasantly by surprise and this fits perfectly. A single lady in 1950s London gets caught up with an unusual family and her life becomes more interesting.

Best Translated
The Strange Journey of Alice Pendelbury - Marc Levy
Alice, orphaned after WW2 in London, takes a trip with a neighbour to Turkey after a reading from a fortune teller. Finding your place in the world.

Best Start to a Series
The Windsor Knot - CJ Bennett
I read one of these quiet mysteries starring Queen Elizabeth before she died, and then the second one after she died. Much respect for the queen and her marriage, it is mostly about her assistants who carry out her requests for information. Delightful.

Best Re-read
Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng
My book club read this book so I listened to it for a re-read and it was just as good the second time as it was the first time. 

Best Author - Ann Patchett
These Precious Days(NF), The Magician's Assistant, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage (NF)
Patchett's books have always been reliable and good but I think I mixed her up with Barbara Kingsolver and didn't really have a solid impression of her. But recently I put it all together, and especially reading her two nonfiction memoir/essay collections and now I am trying to get all her books read! 

A few honourable mentions:
Tevye the Milkman -Sholem Aleicheim (Fiddler on the Roof inspiration)
The Bullet That Missed - Richard Osman (Thursday Murder Club #3)
Matrix - Lauren Groff (historical nuns)
The Woman in the Attic - Emily Hepditch (Newfoundland mystery)
Eligible - Curtis Sittenfeld (retelling of Pride and Prejudice)

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

TOP TEN TUESDAY: New Releases to Look Forward to in 2023


What's the topic for my first Top Ten Tuesday? New releases in 2023 to look forward to.  I'm not sure how other people discover books that are going to be published/to look forward to, but I go to Amazon or Indigo and type in authors I love to read and see if any of them have upcoming books. Not very efficient and I'm sure I miss a bunch of upcoming books. I'm not a pre-order book person anyway.

First of all, thank you to a few of my favourite authors: Emma Donoghue, Maggie O'Farrell, Kate Atkinson who all released books in the end of 2022. I couldn't wait to get to Haven by Donoghue and Shrines of Gaiety by Atkinson. The Marriage Portrait by O'Farrell I won't get to until later this month, but Haven and Shrines of Gaiety, both historical British fiction did not disappoint. 

Here's some books I'm looking forward to:

Kate Morton - Homecoming (Apr 4)

Catherine Hernandez - The Story of Us (Feb 28)

Elly Griffiths - The Last Remains (Apr 28) Ruth Galloway

Jane Harper - Exiles (Feb 3) Aaron Falk

Sherry Thomas - A Tempest at Sea (Mar 14)

The Lives of Puppets - TJ Klune (Apr 25)

And then to the authors who I discovered had released books in 2022, but only realized as I was looking for upcoming releases: (so they feel like books to look forward to, lol)

Fiona Barton - Local Gone Missing (Jul 2022)

Alexander McCall Smith - The Song of Comfortable Chairs (Sep 2022)

Cynthia Hand - My Imaginary Mary, My Contrary Mary (Jun, Aug 2022)

Monday, January 2, 2023

CHALLENGE: Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

 Marg at Adventures of an Intrepid Reader is again hosting the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge, a chance to read and repost on the historical fiction books. I always enjoy historical fiction and historical mysteries and I read 28, and got them reviewed. 

All the details for the challenge can be found here. Basically, sign up at Marg's blog, and then post reviews and link to her site where she posts a dedicated monthly post for reviews. We can choose what level we want from these:

20th Century Reader - 2 books
Victorian Reader - 5 books
Renaissance Reader - 10 books
Medieval - 15 books
Ancient History - 25 books
Prehistoric - 50+ books

but I don't think it matters if you change, it's just a goal to aim toward. I'll say I'd aim for between 1 and 2 historical books per month, so around Medieval to Ancient History.