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Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear

This is the sixth in the series that I have enjoyed listening to.  Though we have moved into the Depression era (the beginning of 1932) the Great War continues to be an important backdrop to the story. Maisie is recruited to work with the police, in particular a high-ranking Scot named Robbie McFarland, to find a madman sending threatening letters to the PM and others. While others are looking...

All is Forgotten, Nothing is Lost by Lan Samantha Chang

Both Dorothy and Jen were enthusiastic about this book. Its author is the Director of the Iowa Writers Workshop, so its focus is on the business of teaching people to write. SPOILER ALERT!! One of the main reasons I write about books is so that I can remember whatever odd bit or important point that strikes me. So, be forewarned. The initial setting in the book is an exclusive (fictional)...

Island Home: A Landscape Memoir by Tim Winton

It was such a treat to read a book that lovingly describes Tim Winton’s unique home, “the world’s largest island,” as he has it. For me the best part is being reminded of the sense memories of my own childhood, though my Virginia countryside couldn’t be more different from Australia. One topic he wrote about that resonates with me begins this way:  “Like most...

The Road Through Miyama by Leila Philip

Recently I read a book by an American woman living in Japan who wrote about her experiences there including taking a pottery class. That moved me to look for this book which I read many years ago and I found it to be as wonderful to read again as the first time. It is the story of a college-age woman who spent 1983 to 1985 in a “folkcraft” village, Miyama, in Japan apprenticed to a...

Men Without Women by Haruki Murakami

In just a few sentences Murakami can bring you into a world you know nothing about, but you are ready to let him guide you as he wishes. The first story tells about Kafuku, a successful actor, who found himself in need of a driver because a minor accident uncovered a glaucoma-caused small blind spot. Despite his reluctance to be driven by a woman, he agreed to be driven by Misaki who turned out...

The House of Broken Angels by Luis Alberto Urrea

Once again I have Tony to thank for writing about this wonderful book. His description of an affectionate humorous portrait of an extended family appealed to me; those qualities were enhanced by listening to the author read it. It is the story of three generations of a Mexican-American family in San Diego. It centers on Big Angel as we learn the stories of him, his father’s and...

French Exit by Patrick deWitt

Recently I noted that Patrick deWitt’s book Sisters Brothers is now a movie. Though I thoroughly enjoyed it as a book, the violence which was only just tolerable in the book will keep me out of the theater. That book was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize; this one came to my attention as a finalist for the Giller Prize. I look forward to reading what the Shadow Giller folks have to say...

Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Dorthe Nors

When I was reading this book sometimes I drifted off without quite knowing it, until I became conscious that what I thought I was reading was surely not right. It took me to some odd places. This book is a series of observations about a woman in her 40s. Sonja grew up in rural Jutland, Denmark and seeing herself as different from her family and everyone else there, made her way to Copenhagen. She...

Robin by Dave Itzkoff

This qualifies as the perfect audiobook for me:  it maintained my interest throughout, made me laugh, and was a poignant story. Robin Williams first became famous for the TV show Mork and Mindy which came at a time (1978 to 1982) when we only watched IU basketball and old movies on tv. We all probably remember him from appearances on late night shows like Johnny Carson, where he first appeared in...

My Year of Dirt and Water by Tracy Franz

Years ago, I read a book by a woman who spent two years in Japan learning about pottery. From it, and from my friend Pat, I learned about Japanese woodblock prints, so it was an important book for me. I read this book to revisit that one I loved so much. The subtitle of this one is Journal of a Zen Monk’s Wife in Japan. The author and her husband had been in Japan for a few years when in...

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