Book club January 2022 and Friday Finds

Bookshelf4
Picture from my bookshelves
edited with Pixlr
#Fridayfinds

I’m presenting here the books we shared
at our last block Book Club meeting
– it’s a potluck book club,
meaning each member shares about his/her latest good read.
Awesome for diversity in books, lively conversations,
and your TBR getting suddenly taller!
(synopsis taken from Goodreads.com)

Not sure why, but I stopped sharing about these three years ago.
This past week, our book club celebrated its 10th anniversary, and it suddenly gave me the idea to share again about the titles we talked about.
So here are the 9 books we talked about for our January 2022 meeting.

Les FourmisHere is the stunning international bestseller in the tradition of Watership Down but with a dark, original twist. Unique, daring, and unforgettable, it tells the story of an ordinary family who accidentally threaten the security of a hidden civilization as intelligent as our own–a colony of ants determined to survive at any cost….
Jonathan Wells and his young family have come to the Paris flat at 3, rue des Sybarites through the bequest of his eccentric late uncle Edmond. Inheriting the dusty apartment, the Wells family are left with only one warning: Never go down into the cellar.
But when the family dog disappears down the basement steps, Jonathan follows–and soon his wife, his son, and various would-be rescuers vanish into its mysterious depths.
Meanwhile, in a pine stump in a nearby park, a vast civilization is in turmoil…
Empire of the Ants is a brilliant evocation of a hidden civilization as complex as our own and far more ancient. It is a fascinating realm where boats are built of leaves and greenflies are domesticated and milked like cows, where citizens lock antennae in “absolute communication” and fight wars with precisely coordinated armies using sprays of glue and acids that can dissolve a snail. Not since Watership Down has a novel so vividly captured the lives and struggles of a fellow species and the valuable lessons they have to teach us.
My own review is here

The Shadow of the WindBarcelona, 1945: A city slowly heals from its war wounds, and Daniel, an antiquarian book dealer’s son who mourns the loss of his mother, finds solace in a mysterious book entitled The Shadow of the Wind, by one Julian Carax. But when he sets out to find the author’s other works, he makes a shocking discovery: someone has been systematically destroying every copy of every book Carax has written. In fact, Daniel may have the last of Carax’s books in existence. Soon Daniel’s seemingly innocent quest opens a door into one of Barcelona’s darkest secrets–an epic story of murder, madness, and doomed love.

 

a-gentleman-in-moscowOn 21 June 1922, Count Alexander Rostov – recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew, member of the Jockey Club, Master of the Hunt – is escorted out of the Kremlin, across Red Square and through the elegant revolving doors of the Hotel Metropol.
Deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the Count has been sentenced to house arrest indefinitely. But instead of his usual suite, he must now live in an attic room while Russia undergoes decades of tumultuous upheaval.
Can a life without luxury be the richest of all?

 

 

36295979The year is 1930. In a small Tartar village, a woman named Zuleikha watches as her husband is murdered by communists. Zuleikha herself is sent into exile, enduring a horrendous train journey to a remote spot on the Angara River in Siberia. Conditions in the camp are tough, and many of her group do not survive the first difficult winter.
As she gradually settles into a routine, Zuleikha starts to get to know her companions. The eclectic group includes a rather dotty doctor, an artist who paints on the sly, and Ignatov, Zuleikha’s husband’s killer. Together, the group starts to build a new life, one that is far removed from those they left behind.
Guzel Yakhina’s smooth prose describes Zuleikha’s adjustment to a new reality and her discovery of a new form of happiness, and covers a range of cultural, ethnic, religious and socio-political issues. This outstanding debut novel from an exciting new talent has been showered with prizes and is capturing the hearts of readers all over the world.

4975993Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh was one of the most respected churchmen, spiritual writers and broadcasters of the last few decades. His books have become classics, and as leader of the Russian Orthodox Church in Britain he was one of the most prominent Orthodox personalities on the world stage. But who was Metropolitan Anthony, the inner man behind the public preacher and pastor? How did his life story and personality mould his Christianity? How did his work – as monk, doctor, bishop and, almost to the end, parish priest and spiritual father – affect his ministry and other writings? In this, the first comprehensive examination of Metropolitan Anthony’s life and work, Gillian Crow presents a compelling portrait of a complex human being: both a charismatic, warm person, aglow with the joy of his faith, and also someone who fought hard with inner demons of shyness, insecurity and at times depression. This sympathetic yet honest portrayal will be essential reading for all those who have been touched by Metropolitan Anthony’s own writing and who wish to find out more about his

82535Picking up where his bestselling memoir Never Have Your Dog Stuffed left off–having been saved by emergency surgery after nearly dying on a mountaintop in Chile–beloved actor and acclaimed author Alan Alda offers an insightful and funny look at some impossible questions he’s asked himself over the years: What do I value? What, exactly, is the good life? (And what does that even mean?) Here, Alda listens in on things he’s heard himself saying at critical points in his life–from the turbulence of the sixties, to his first Broadway show, to the birth of his children, to the ache of September 11, and beyond. Reflecting on the transitions in his life and in all our lives, he notices that “doorways are where the truth is told,” and wonders if there’s one thing–art, activism, family, money, fame–that could lead to a “life of meaning.” In a book that is candid, wise, and as questioning as it is incisive, Alda amuses and moves us with his uniquely hilarious meditations on questions great and small.

6404803Now a major motion picture from Clint Eastwood, starring Tom Hanks—the inspirational autobiography by one of the most captivating American heroes of our time, Capt. ‘Sully’ Sullenberger—the pilot who miraculously landed a crippled US Airways Flight 1549 in New York’s Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 passengers and crew.
On January 15, 2009, the world witnessed a remarkable emergency landing when Captain “Sully” Sullenberger skillfully glided US Airways Flight 1549 onto the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 passengers and crew. His cool actions not only averted tragedy but made him a hero and an inspiration worldwide. His story is now a major motion picture from director / producer Clint Eastwood and stars Tom Hanks, Laura Linney and Aaron Eckhart.
Sully’s story is one of dedication, hope, and preparedness, revealing the important lessons he learned through his life, in his military service, and in his work as an airline pilot. It reminds us all that, even in these days of conflict, tragedy and uncertainty, there are values still worth fighting for—that life’s challenges can be met if we’re ready for them.

52578297Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices . . . Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?
A dazzling novel about all the choices that go into a life well lived, from the internationally bestselling author of Reasons to Stay Alive and How To Stop Time.
Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?
In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.

56922687“Any story that starts will also end.” As a writer, Ann Patchett knows what the outcome of her fiction will be. Life, however, often takes turns we do not see coming. Patchett ponders this truth in these wise essays that afford a fresh and intimate look into her mind and heart.
At the center of These Precious Days is the title essay, a suprising and moving meditation on an unexpected friendship that explores “what it means to be seen, to find someone with whom you can be your best and most complete self.” When Patchett chose an early galley of actor and producer Tom Hanks’ short story collection to read one night before bed, she had no idea that this single choice would be life changing. It would introduce her to a remarkable woman—Tom’s brilliant assistant Sooki—with whom she would form a profound bond that held monumental consequences for them both.
A literary alchemist, Patchett plumbs the depths of her experiences to create gold: engaging and moving pieces that are both self-portrait and landscape, each vibrant with emotion and rich in insight. Turning her writer’s eye on her own experiences, she transforms the private into the universal, providing us all a way to look at our own worlds anew, and reminds how fleeting and enigmatic life can be.
From the enchantments of Kate di Camilo’s children’s books to youthful memories of Paris; the cherished life gifts given by her three fathers to the unexpected influence of Charles Schultz’s Snoopy; the expansive vision of Eudora Welty to the importance of knitting, Patchett connects life and art as she illuminates what matters most. Infused with the author’s grace, wit, and warmth, the pieces in These Precious Days resonate deep in the soul, leaving an indelible mark—and demonstrate why Ann Patchett is one of the most celebrated writers of our time.

  Eiffel Tower OrangeEiffel Tower OrangeEiffel Tower Orange 

 HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THOSE?
WHICH ONE IS YOUR FAVORITE?

Six degrees of separation: from New York to Paris

#6Degrees

Six degrees of separation:
from New York to Paris

Time for another quirky variation on this meme.
Last month, I started in New England and ended up in Paris!
And today, I started in New York and also ended up in Paris (not a bad place to be on January 1st), with a very different chain! Exceptionally, it has several spiritual books, including my own!
Enjoy my chain, and happy new year, with of course many awesome new books!

Using my own rules for this fun meme hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest (see there the origin of the meme and how it works – posted the first Saturday of every month).

Here are my own quirky rules:

1. Use your list of books on Goodreads
2. Take the first word of the title (or in the subtitle) offered and find another title with that word in it – see the titles below the images to fully understand, as often the word could be in the second part of the title
3. Then use the first word of THAT title to find your text title
4. Or the second if the title starts with the same word, or you are stuck

Click on the covers 
links will send you to my review or to the relevant page

Rules of Civility

This is the book we are supposed to start from.
I haven’t read it and probably will not. This type of focus on high echelons of society doesn’t grab me. Plus the word “entertaining” in the synopsis is enough to make me run away.

This sophisticated and entertaining first novel presents the story of a young woman whose life is on the brink of transformation. On the last night of 1937, twenty-five-year-old Katey Kontent is in a second-rate Greenwich Village jazz bar when Tinker Grey, a handsome banker, happens to sit down at the neighboring table. This chance encounter and its startling consequences propel Katey on a year-long journey into the upper echelons of New York society—where she will have little to rely upon other than a bracing wit and her own brand of cool nerve. With its sparkling depiction of New York’s social strata, its intricate imagery and themes, and its immensely appealing characters, Rules of Civility won the hearts of readers and critics alike. ”

The 4th rule of ten The Wisdom of the Desert

  Seasons of Grace  Light to Enlighten My Darkness  

  Paris Paris Bridges of Paris  

1.  The Fourth Rule of Ten: A Tenzing Norbu Mystery, by Gay Hendricks

I read 4 books in this series.
VERDICT: Original and riveting mysteries combining Buddhist wisdom and threats from dangerous powerful people on the international scene. Very good if you enjoy trying something different.

2. The Wisdom of the Desert: Sayings from the Desert Fathers of the Fourth Century, by Thomas Merton

I read it in a previous life, when I was not reviewing books.
It’s an excellent introduction and sampling of the Wisdom of the Desert Fathers (4th century Christian monks). Those monks knew human psychology better than we do today! And if you have read any book by Merton, you know how good he is.

“The personal tones of the translations, the blend of reverence and humor so characteristic of him, show how deeply Merton identified with the legendary authors of these sayings and parables, the fourth-century Christian Fathers who sought solitude and contemplation in the deserts of the Near East.
The hermits of Screte who turned their backs on a corrupt society remarkably like our own had much in common with the Zen masters of China and Japan, and Father Merton made his selection from them with an eye to the kind of impact produced by the Zen mondo.”

3. Seasons of Grace: Wisdom from the Cloister, by Mother Gail Fitzpatrick

Also read in my previous life!
Excellent everyday wisdom, especially if you need a guide for your spiritual likfe.

“This wonderful book contains fifty scripturally-based reflections developed from the “chapter talks” delivered to the Trappistine Sisters and their guests at the Abbey of Our Lady of the Mississippi (in Dubuque, Iowa).”
Check them out, they have great short videos, and they sell delicious caramels and other home-made goodies!

4. A Light To Enlighten The Darkness: Daily Readings for Meditation during the Winter Seasonby Emma Cazabonne (Editor)

Yes, this is my own book!
The Winter season has started recently, so it’s not too late to enjoy the book!

“God is light, says Saint John, and in him there is no darkness at all. These passages from the works of early Cistercian monks and nuns reflect on the mystery of that divine light. If we have the light of Christ in our heart, we discover it is there to shine both for ourselves and for others and to guide us ever closer to the mystery of God.
Emma Cazabonne compiled her selections over twenty years of lectio divina and a growing fascination with similarities between Cistercian and Orthodox spirituality.”

5. Paris, Paris: Journey into the City of Lightby David Downie

I have read many books with the word light in the title, so I decided to highlight one you may not have heard about.

MY THOUGHTS:
There’s a great balance between history, art, culture, and all kinds of anecdotes. I particularly enjoyed the way he highlighted what each recent French president changed in Paris, as far as architecture or city planning is concerned. This is an original and very interesting way of looking at the city of light, and I highly recommend it to any Paris lover.

6. Bridges of Parisby Michael Saint James

If I have read many books with the word light in the title, I have read even more with the word Paris in it! Again, you probably haven’t run often into this one, plus it’s gorgeous, and in case you need a last minute awesome gift for a fan of France, that would do it! 

VERDICT: Gorgeous coffee table book on Paris that will both delight your guests and teach them lots of fascinating facts on Paris history.

📚📚📚

Visit other chains here

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HAVE YOU READ AND ENJOYED ANY OF THESE BOOKS?
IF YOU HAVE CREATED A CHAIN,
PLEASE LEAVE YOUR LINK IN A COMMENT

Six degrees of separation: From Moscow to Vimy

#6Degrees

Six degrees of separation:
From Moscow to Vimy

Using my own rules for this fun meme hosted by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest (see there the origin of the meme and how it works – posted the first Saturday of every month), I started in Moscow and ended up in Vimy, France, where many Canadian soldiers fought during WWI.
Come with me!

Here are my own quirky rules:

1. Use your list of books on Goodreads
2. Take the first word of the title offered and find another title with that word in it
3. Then use the first word of THAT title to find your text title
4. Or the second if the title starts with the same word, or you are stuck

After the covers,
you can find the links to my reviews
or to the title on Goodreads

 a-gentleman-in-moscowArsene Lupin 

 Mrs Pollifax and the second thiefStar For Mrs Blake

 Shakespeare's Star warsUnravelled

1. A Gentleman in Moscow
I was going to read it, as I have heard so many people rave about this book. But then, I talked with a Russian woman, and she told this could really never have happened in Moscow. As it’s a historical fiction, and I like my histfic to be based on real facts, I’ve passed so far. But you may convince me to read it?

2. Arsène Lupin, Gentleman-Thief
The author Leblanc is basically the French Conan Doyle. This is a major classic in mystery, and totally fun! He’s a thief, yes, but what a gentleman!!

3. Mrs. Pollifax and the Second Thief
I discovered Mrs. Pollifax, because I wanted to read books set in different countries, for the 52 countries challenge.
I have loved this series to pieces, the character of Mrs. Pollifax is delightful: image a retired lady who’s afraid to get bored, and ends up working as a secret agent. Each book of the series is set in a  different country. This one is in Sicily, and is about art thieves and the mob.

4. A Star For Mrs. Blake
Excellent historical novel featuring Gold Star Mothers, whom I knew nothing about.
VERDICT: Very powerful, yet not overwhelmingly emotional historical novel, reflecting on many facets of international conflicts. Highly recommended to anyone curious to know what happened on the field of WWI, and how it affected people, relationships, and countries.

5. William Shakespeare’s Star Wars
This is an incredible series: imagine Star Wars, “all recounted in the style of the Bard,
with rhymes, chorus, list of characters entering and exiting for each scene, just like a real play. It really made me laugh aloud many times.”
VERDICT: For fans of Star Wars and Shakespeare,  this book offers a refreshing look at how it all began. Tension, suspense and humor are all present. Not to miss.
(the link is to book 1)

6. Unravelled: Two Wars. Two Affairs. One marriage
Another great historical novel, both on WWI and WWII. Great author!

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Visit other chains here

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HAVE YOU READ AND ENJOYED ANY OF THESE BOOKS?
DID YOU PLAY
SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION
THIS MONTH?