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2021: February wrap-up

February 2021 WRAP-UP

Time flies! Which is a good thing, as it means we are getting closer to warmer days, and to getting a COVID vaccine.
I am very happy with my reading schedule these days, focusing more on my TBR. And with reviewing a lot of what I have been reading, mostly thanks to doing short reviews for my Sunday Post.
I hope this will allow me soon to catch up with reviews I was supposed to write in 2020.

📚 So here is what I read in February:

13 books:
9 in print 
with 1,759 pages, a daily average of 62 pages/day
4 in audio
= 24H06
, a daily average of 51 minutes

4 in nonfiction:

  1. In Praise of Shadows, by Junichiro Tanizaki – for The Classics Club,  the Japanese Reading Challenge 14, and the Books in Translation Challenge
  2. Le Jourde & Naulleau, by Pierre Jourde and Eric Naulleau
  3. The Book of Proverbs – audiobook, for The Classics Club and the Books in Translation Challenge
  4. The Book of Ecclesiastes – audiobook, for The Classics Club and the Books in Translation Challenge

4 in literary fiction:

  1. L’Anomalie, by Hervé Le Tellier
  2. Hikikomori and the Rental Sister, by Jeff Backhaus
  3. A Cat, a Man, and Two Women, by Junichiro Tanizaki – for The Classics Club,  the Japanese Reading Challenge 14, and the Books in Translation Challenge
  4. Encre sympathique, by Patrick Modiano

4 in mystery:

  1. Murder in Mesopotamia (Hercule Poirot #14), by Agatha Christie – for The Classics Club
  2. Dans l’oeil du démon, by Junichiro Tanizaki – for The Classics Club,  the Japanese Reading Challenge 14, and the Books in Translation Challenge
  3. Gone by Midnight, by Candice Fox
  4. La Vallée, by Bernard Minier – French audiobook

1 in poetry:

  1. The Half-Finished Heaven, by Tomas Tranströmer – for The Classics Club and the Books in Translation Challenge


   L'Anomalie Hikikomori


Classics Club: 20/137 (from November 2020-until November 2025)
Japanese Literature Challenge: 6 books 

Total of books read in 2021 = 26/120
Number of books added to my TBR this past month = 30


The Toughest Sudoku Puzzle Book Word Detective 3rd Grade Ocean Life

Zoo animals Brain Candy Stone Killer


The open giveaways are on my homepage

Books available for swapping


Posted on my homepage

And we offer a Book Box!
And monthly raffle with a Newsletter
(see sample with link to sign up)


Arsene Lupin

click on the cover to access my review


Sunday Post #38


That Artsy Reader Girl
please go visit, there are a lot of good things there!


Marianne at Let’s Read
Judy at Keep the Wisdom
Deb at Readerbuzz

please go and visit them,
they have great book blogs


2,306 posts
over 5,430 followers
over 215,590 hits


Come back tomorrow
to see the books I plan to read in March

📚 📚 📚

How was YOUR month of February?

Nicole at Feed Your Fiction Addiction
has created a Month In Review meme
where you can link your monthly recap posts
Thanks Nicole!

Sunday Post #40 – 2/28/2021

Sunday Post

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by
Kimba @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer.
It’s a chance to share news.
A post to recap the past week on your blog,
showcase books and things we have received.
Share news about what is coming up
on your blog
for the week ahead.
See rules here: Sunday Post Meme


This post also counts for

Sunday Salon    Stacking the Shelves  Mailbox Monday2

 It's Monday! What Are You Reading2  IMWAYR  WWW Wednesdays 2

#SundayPost #SundaySalon
#StackingTheShelves #MailboxMonday
#itsmonday #IMWAYR
#WWWWednesday #WWWWednesdays

Click on the logos to join the memes,
and on the book covers to access synopsis or review

And yes, I can finally change refrain!
We still have lots of snow (in Chicagoland) on the ground, but yesterday afternoon we had a heat wave in the mid 50s. I walked an hour and a half on our sunny close-by university campus, marveling at tree buds, then soaked in the sun sitting in our yard. It was so warm, yet we were inches away from still a lot of snow pilled up. I even opened our windows for a few hours. I feel like reviving. And even some birds are getting into their spring songs.


  Gone by Midnight Jourde & Naulleau  

La Vallée

📚 Gone by Midnight, by Candice Fox
Published on March 10, 2020 (US publication)

I finished two thrillers this past week, and they actually had common elements. They both involved children, suffering because of crazy adults.

This is book 3 in this series, after Crimson Lake and Redemption Point.
A few couples were staying at a hotel. While the parents were downstairs drinking ad having a nice time together, their kids stayed together playing in their room. When Sara goes up to check on them, her own son is gone.
She decides to ask Ted’s help because of his life experience: in the previous books, policeman Ted was accused of kidnapping a girl.
No denying this is great writing, and I really enjoyed most of it. The author is fabulous at creating creepy ambiance (related to people, to settings, and even landscape, here involving muggy Australian areas infested with crocodiles) and suspense. But then when the reality of what happened surfaced, it got too much for me.
I know this is life, and alas, lots of kids go through hell here on earth because of some insane adults, and I really mean pathologically insane people.
Thankfully, the book also features some adults trying to build a positive future for next generations.
Still, these days, I no longer feel like reading about these heavy themes, so I’m going to try to stay away from that type of thrillers for a while.

🎧 La Vallée, by Bernard Minier
Published on April 2, 2020
Not yet available in English

My decision to stay away from these types of books got confirmed by the French thriller I just finished listening to.
A woman disappeared. Then eight years later, police inspector Martin Servaz receives a phone call from her, asking for his help, in a remote valley.
Again, I do believe the author is masterful in the areas highlighted above, although this time we are in France. He also had powerful red herrings.
But again, the ambiance and the topic got worse and worse, with more pathologically insane adults, here using kids to put their evil plans to work. Here too, alas I know the scenario could be totally plausible, as I know probably about less than 1% of what’s really happening through the dark net. But I really don’t need to know more, I know enough of human condition to take it all in my prayer.
Besides the main plot is a subplot about the growing difficulty for the police to do their daily job. All very true and disturbing as well.
You could say one of the main reasons I read novels is for escapism, I agree. I counterbalance this with reading nonfiction to get informed and spiritual books to nourish my prayer and inner life.
Even though there were here also a few adults really trying to help younger generations to have the tools to grow and be happy, some passages seemed to be steeped in a very negative view on humanity. Even though we are surrounded by a lot of evil, I still think there’s an underlying goodness at the bottom of each heart, and that no, humans are not born evil. I’m a Christian Orthodox, and our view of human nature is very far from Saint Augustine’s.

📚 Le Jourde & Naulleau, by Perre Jourde and Éric Naulleau
Published in 2008

In a totally different genre, I finished this hilarious pastiche on a famous collection of French literature textbooks. I loved it, and had great laughs at all the smart references, though I’m sure I missed a lot more.
Seventeen authors are presented, with excerpts of their books. The excerpts are real, though sometimes the style and content is so bad indeed that I had to check if Jourde & Naulleau had made them up. They had not! And some of these authors did receive some literary awards…
The fun comes with the notes and comments added to these excerpts by Jourde & Naulleau. It is really typical French humor, sometimes acerbic to the max! So actually 280 pages was a good length, I don’t think I could have gone on much more with it.


 Dictionnaire amoureux du polar      FutureofBuildingsBookCover

📚 Dictionnaire amoureux du polar, by Pierre Lemaitre
Published on October 22, 2020

Lemaitre, a very renowned author of thrillers (see for instance Three Days and a Life – highly recommended) himself, shares his love of the genre by presenting other authors, books, and themes related to it.
His comments are not too academic, I like the style, and I am starting listing all kinds of books I want to try!

📚 The Future of Buildings, Transportation, and Power, 
by Roger Duncan and Michael E. Webber
Published in July 2020

I featured this book a few weeks ago and won it at the giveaway.
It’s technical, but very accessible and fascinating, about current and future use of buildings, transportation and power, and the interaction between the three. I am learning all kinds of interesting facts about  current trends in these areas, and how they may impact our planet in the years to come.

📚 I am also reading three spiritual books:

  • a 19th century Orthodox commentary on Psalm 118
  • a book by a friend, in which she shares her experience as a former member of the Roman Catholic Church.
  • I am listening to the Book of Ecclesiastes (for my project to listen to the whole Bible)

And I am the first reader for a thriller wrote by a friend, the author of Stone Killer. He sends me a chapter at a time and I send him my remarks. I do hope it’s not going to turn too dark and sinister like the two above thrillers.


Before the Coffee Gets Cold

📚 Before the Coffee Gets Cold, by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
Published in 2015, translated by Geoffrey Trousselot in 2019

My next book is going to be Japanese, for the Japanese Literature Challenge.
It may be this one, that I would read along with another lover of Japanese lit. If he is not available now, I will read another of the Japanese books I listed here for March.

What would you change if you could go back in time?
In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.
In Before the Coffee Gets Cold, we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the café’s time-travelling offer, in order to: confront the man who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by early onset Alzheimer’s, to see their sister one last time, and to meet the daughter they never got the chance to know.
But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the café, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold . . .
Toshikazu Kawaguchi’s beautiful, moving story explores the age-old question: what would you change if you could travel back in time? More importantly, who would you want to meet, maybe for one last time?”


    One of Us is Lying   Untraceable

I know I wrote above I was going to stay away from too dark and creepy thrillers. So is it wise considering reading these? Let me know.

📚 One of Us is Lying, by Karen M. McManus
Published in 2017

This is a YA thriller, a genre I rarely read, but the geeky social media aspect is intriguing.

The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little LiarsOne of Us Is Lying is the story of what happens when five strangers walk into detention and only four walk out alive. Everyone is a suspect, and everyone has something to hide.
Pay close attention and you might solve this.
On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.
Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.
Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.
Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.
Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.
And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.
Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention, Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?
Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

📚 Untraceable, by Sergei Lebedev
Published February 2, 2021 by New Vessel Press

I thoroughly enjoyed the first book I read by this contemporary Russian author, Oblivion. My experience with his next book was not as good. Still, I am very interested in the topic of this one, so I hope it will work for me.

“In 2018, a former Russian secret agent and his daughter were poisoned with a lethal neurotoxin that left them slumped over on a British park bench in critical condition. The story of who did it, and how these horrendous contaminants were developed, captivates and terrifies in equal measure. It has inspired acclaimed author Sergei Lebedev’s latest page-turning novel. At its center is a scheming chemist named Professor Kalitin, obsessed with developing an absolutely deadly, undetectable and untraceable poison for which there is no antidote. He becomes consumed by guilt over the death of his wife, the first accidental victim of his Faustian pact to create the ultimate venom, and the deaths of hundreds of test subjects. After he defects from the Soviet Union to spend his “retirement” years in the West, two Russian secret agents are dispatched to assassinate him. In this fast-paced, genre-bending novel, Lebedev weaves tension-filled pages of stunningly beautiful prose exploring the historical trajectories of evil. From Nazi labs, Stalinist plots, the Chechen Wars, to present-day Russia, Lebedev probes the ethical responsibilities of scientists supplying modern tyrants and autocrats with ever newer instruments of retribution, destruction and control. Lebedev, one of Russia’s most important and exciting writers, has never been better.”


I recently won two books, and they both arrived the same day!

  Before the Coffee Gets Cold The Code Breaker

📚 Before the Coffee Gets Cold, by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
Published in 2015, translated by Geoffrey Trousselot in 2019

As you know, I have been participating in the Japanese Literature Challenge for several years, and this year, I won this book! Thanks Meredith! Plus, she joined a gorgeous picture of Japanese trees taken during one of her trips, and a cute Japanese bookmark!!
See description above.

📚 The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race, by Walter Isaacson
Expected publication: March 9, 2021 by Simon & Schuster

I have read two books by Isaacson: his biography of Benjamin Franklin, and more recently, I really enjoyed a lot The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution.
So when I saw there was a Goodreads giveaway for his upcoming book, I entered right away, and I won! I haven’t won a book on Goodreads for ages.
I have run into Jennifer Doudna recently, so to speak, because I was studying a bit the CRISPR with my French International Baccalaureate student (because in 2020, Doudna with French scientist Emmanuelle Charpentier won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for this technique).
This was one of the top nonfiction on my 2021 TBR, thanks Goodreads!


My inspiration to add this section comes from Book Jotter‘s posts called “Winding Up the Week”.

Cozy mysteries aren’t going anywhere. In fact, they’re as popular as ever.


📚 Book of the month giveaway – last day to enter !
Loving Modigliani
📚 Books available for free this month, to review at your own pace, last day available!
Alina_A Song For the Telling
The Last CollectionThe Beautiful American  
Review copies available for upcoming book tours:
Victorine  Madeleine Last French Casquette Bride in New Orleans

📚 Subscribe to my Newsletter, and win a book each month!
Here is a sample, with link for subscription at the bottom
📚 Books available for swapping


  • 3/1: February recap on this site
  • 3/1: Book of the month on France Book Tours
  • 3/2: March TBR
  • 3/4: Throwback Thursday
  • 3/5: Book review?
  • 3/6: Six Degrees of Separation


Book review: The Toughest Sudoku Puzzle Book

The Toughest Sudoku Puzzle Book

The Toughest Sudoku Puzzle Book:
200+ Puzzles to Sharpen Your Brain
by Cristina Smith & Rick Smith
Rockridge Press
Activity Books/Puzzles
180 pages


Buy the book

People have different ways of relaxing. For some, after a tough day, they just want to watch an easy movie. For me, using my brain is actually the most enjoyable way of relaxing. After word games comes Sudoku. The Toughest Sudoku is definitely the best and most challenging collection I have ever found. Here is why.

Click to continue reading