2021: April wrap-up

April 2021 WRAP-UP

Phew, this was a busy month, ending with a liturgical marathon, as we finally had our Great Week (Orthodox services are so deep and powerful, and also quite long, especially during this very special week) and Pascha (aka Easter), almost a month after everyone else.

I have been also reading a lot, as much needed time off at the end of the day, but as I’m in the middle of so many books, my stats are actually not very impressive.
The big news was my first participation ever in the Club organized by Simon at Stuck in a Book. This time, in was the #1936Club.

Two other big highlights were
my buddy read of Before the Coffee Gets Cold,
and the beginning of another buddy read: The Archipelago of Another Life

📚 Here is what I read in April:

18 books:
6 in print 
with 1,377 pages, a daily average of 45 pages/day
12 in audio
= 24H39
, a daily average of 49 minutes

9 in nonfiction:

  1. The Book of Micah
  2. The Book of Joel
  3. The Book of Obadiah
  4. The Book of Jonah
  5. The Book of Nahum
  6. The Book of Habakkuk
  7. The Book of Zephaniah
  8. The Book of Haggai – these first 8 books were as audiobooks, for The Classics Club and the Books in Translation Challenge
  9. A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life, by George Saunders

5 in mystery:

  1. Murder in the Mews (Hercule Poirot #18), by Agatha Christie
  2. Appointment With Death (Hercule Poirot #19), by Agatha Christie
  3. Hercule Poirot’s Christmas (Hercule Poirot #20), by Agatha Christie – these first three were as audiobooks, for The Classics Club
  4. Double Indemnity, by James M. Cain – ebook for the #1936Club and The Classics Club
  5. Piège pour Cendrillon, by Sébastien Japrisot – French ebook for the The Classics Club

2 in literary fiction:

  1. The Old Capital, by Yasunari Kawabata –  ebook for  The Classics Club
  2. First Person Singular, by Haruki Murakami

1 in historical fiction:

  1. The Swedish Cavalier, by Leo Perutz – ebook for the #1936Club and The Classics Club

1 in science-fiction:

  1. How to Mars, by David Ebenbach – ebook received for review

MY FAVORITE BOOKS THIS PAST MONTH

A Swim in the Pond in the Rain    The Swedish Cavalier

READING CHALLENGES & RECAP

Classics Club: 47/137 (from November 2020-until November 2025)
Japanese Literature Challenge: 12 books 

Total of books read in 2021 = 60/120 (yes, already at 50%!)
Number of books added to my TBR this past month = 11

OTHER BOOK  REVIEWED THIS PAST MONTH

The Black Lizard

GIVEAWAYS

The open giveaways are on my homepage

Books available for swapping

REVIEW COPIES AVAILABLE

Posted on my homepage

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

MOST POPULAR BOOK REVIEW THIS PAST MONTH

Arsene Lupin

click on the cover to access my review

MOST POPULAR POST THIS PAST MONTH
– NON BOOK REVIEW –

My top 10 books for the 1936 Club

BOOK BLOG THAT BROUGHT ME MOST TRAFFIC THIS PAST MONTH

Stuck in a Book
please go visit, there are a lot of good things there!

TOP COMMENTERS 

Marianne at Let’s Read
Iza at Books & Livres
Judy at Keep the Wisdom
please go and visit them,
they have great book blogs

BLOG MILESTONES 

2,326 posts
over 5,470 followers
over 219,700 hits

📚

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

📚 📚 📚

How was YOUR month of April?

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 #42 – 4/11/2021

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

Already a month since last time I was able to participate in the #SundayPost #SundaySalon! And I have missed it!
It’s been a bit crazy here schedule wise, with more Church services (yeah, I am still in Lent until May 2, the Orthodox Pascha/Easter this year!), a lot of French classes, and a lot more business at France Book Tours, including the preparation for our first webinar: “French artists in fiction: four lives, four authors”. 

📚 JUST READ / LISTENED TO 🎧

Since last post a month ago, I have read 8 books and listened to 5 novels, plus listened to 11 Biblical books. So as usual, I’m actually only going to talk to you about what I finished this past week.

  The Swedish Cavalier  Appointment with Death  

📚 The Swedish Cavalier, by Leo Perutz
Published in 1936
Read for the #1936Club, the Classics Club, and the Books in Translation Challenge.

I have already experienced a lot of wow reading moments this year, with some delightful surprises. That is definitely one of them. It had been on my TBR for a while, because I heard a French author say a lot of good things about it. I now understand why.
Very unique and fascinating mix of genres, think of Cervantes and Kafka maybe. How come this Austrian author seems to be so little known? I don’t remember seeing this book on many blogs, including those covering the classics.
As it’s for the #1936Club, you will have to come back after April 12 to read my review. But here is part of the synopsis (one more, I’m not happy with the full synopsis that reveals too much):

“A thief and a nobleman, both down on their luck, cross paths on a bitter winter’s day in 1701. One, known locally as “The Fowl-Filcher,” is fleeing the gallows; the other, the callow Christian von Tornefeld, has escaped execution to fight for his Swedish king. Neither will reach his destination. Sent with a message to secure aid for von Tornefeld, the thief falls in love with his companion’s secret fiancée. He resolves to win her love for himself, and through a clever stratagem, exchanges his fate for the other man’s.”

🎧 Appointment with Death, by Agatha Christie (Hercule Poirot #19)
Published in 1937
Listened to for the Classics Club, and personal project to listen to all of HP.

I didn’t remember this story at all. Great description of a dysfunctional family around a most detestable matriarch. There were many reasons for each of her children to kill her, so which one did it? Only the great Hercule Poirot could figure it out!
I liked the portrayal of rich tourists of the time visiting the Middle East (Israel, Jordan, and Egypt). It also made me want to visit Petra!
There was also a neat epilogue, set five years later.

“Among the towering red cliffs of Petra, like some monstrous swollen Buddha, sat the corpse of Mrs Boynton. A tiny puncture mark on her wrist was the only sign of the fatal injection that had killed her.
With only 24 hours available to solve the mystery, Hercule Poirot recalled a chance remark he’d overheard back in Jerusalem: ‘You see, don’t you, that she’s got to be killed?’ Mrs Boynton was, indeed, the most detestable woman he’d ever met.”

🎧 I also listened to 8 Biblical books, as part of my project to listen to the whole Bible:
these are very short books of the Minor Prophets: Jonah, Obadiah, Micah, Joel, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Nahum, Haggai.

📚 CURRENTLY READING/LISTENING TO 🎧

  A Swim in the Pond in the Rain The Archipelago of Another Life

Piège pour Cendrillon

📚 A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, by George Saunders
Published on 1/12/2021

I have never read his novels or short stories. This is based on “his class on the Russian short story to his MFA students at Syracuse University”. “he shares a version of that class with us, offering some of what he and his students have discovered together over the years. Paired with iconic short stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Gogol, the seven essays in this book are intended for anyone interested in how fiction works and why it’s more relevant than ever in these turbulent times.”

I have not read that type of literary criticism for a long time, and I so thoroughly enjoy how the author analyses the functioning of each story.

📚 The Archipelago of Another Life, by Andreï Makine
Published in 2016 in French and 2019 in English

I have meant to read this one since it came out, and then Carol at Cas d’intérêt proposed we do a buddy-read. You can join us, reading it either in French or in English, our posts will be bilingual. I have read the first 25%, this is gorgeous writing!

I have found 3 versions of the synopsis in English! The one on Goodreads is quite bad, compared to the French one, the one by the publisher is slightly better. The one that captures better the spirit, the ambiance, and is closest to the French is on Amazon:

“At the borders of the Russian Far East, at the limits of the Pacific Ocean, inside a land that seems to escape history, at the sundown of the Stalin era, unfolds an incredible manhunt.
Who is the criminal with many faces that Pavel Gartsev and his comrades must track into the eye of the taiga?
When Pavel discovers the true identity of the fugitive, his life will be turned on its head. The hunt will become an exalting experience that makes another life possible, in the frail eternity of love.”

🎧 Piège pour Cendrillon, by Sébastien Japrisot
Published in 1962
Listening to for the Classics Club

Before jumping into the next Hercule Poirot, I looked at my Wishlist on EStories (same as Audible really, but cheaper), and saw this title, by an icon French author of mysteries I have never read!!
The beginning is weird, at least in audio. The whole book is only 4 hours, so I have the feeling I am going to have to listen to it twice.

It has been translated as Trap for Cendrillon:
“A racy, chilling noir mystery of mistaken identity, deception, and greed by the author of A Very Long Engagement. A suspicious fire consumes a beach house at a southern French resort. Two young women — friends on the surface but deep down foes — are trapped inside. One is rich, the other poor. One is killed and the other survives, burned beyond recognition and in a state of total amnesia. Plastic surgery gives her a new pretty face, but it can not restore her memory of her identity. Who is she? The heiress or her friend? A killer or an intended victim? Only one person knows the truth about the betrayal and hair-raising terror which took place that night. And she is not about to give it away…Winner of France’s most prestigious crime-fiction award, Trap for Cinderella is an engrossing tour de force by a master of mystery and deception.”

I am also still reading:

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

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

📚 BOOK UP NEXT 📚

Monet and Oscar

📚 Monet & Oscar: The Essence of Light, by Joe Byrd
To be published in May 1st, 2021
Will be reading for France Book Tours

This is one of the four historical novels that will be discussed during our webinar.
We have some review copies available!

“At the end of WWI, Oscar, an American soldier in a French Army hospital, learned of his mother’s death while recovering from his war wounds. He remained in France to search for his father, an Impressionist painter, whose identity his mother never revealed. Through curious circumstances, he’s hired to be a gardener for Claude Monet.   Oscar jumped at the opportunity to further his landscaping career by working in Monet’s world-famous garden at Giverny. He hoped the most renowned Impressionist could help him find his father.
Monet, tired and disheartened by his ailing health and deteriorating eyesight, took Oscar along on visits to his previous painting venues and allowed him to meet some of his art-world friends. These meetings provided insights into Monet’s life and art and clues to Oscar’s father’s identity.
On a train returning from Paris to Giverny, Oscar met and fell in love with Isabelle, a beautiful young American artist, who introduced him to the emerging 1920’s fashions and mores. She is the daughter of one of Monet’s major American clients, which interests him. Over Monet’s daughters’ objections, Isabelle and Oscar become regular guests at family gatherings as their infatuation blossoms into a unique love affair. Oscar’s past, present, and future collide in a way that he could not have anticipated.”

📚 LAST 2 BOOKS ADDED TO MY GOODREADS TBR 📚

    Agatha Christie's Poirot Murder for Pleasure

📚 Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the World, by Mark Aldridge
Published March 9th 2021 by William Morrow

Planning to read this when I finish listening to all of Hercule Poirot, as a wrap-up.

“From the publication of Agatha Christie’s very first book in 1920 to the release of Sir Kenneth Branagh’s film Death on the Nile in 2020, this investigation into the phenomenon of Hercule Poirot celebrates a century of probably the world’s favorite fictional detective.
Hercule Poirot has had a near-permanent presence in the public eye ever since the 1920 publication of The Mysterious Affair at Styles. The detective who solves diabolical crimes using his “little grey cells” has enamored audiences not only in the original novels, short stories, and plays, but also across radio, television, and movies.
From Agatha Christie’s earliest conceptions and publication history, to forays on the stage and screen, the story of Poirot is as fascinating as it is enduring. Mark Aldridge tells this story decade-by-decade, exploring and analyzing Poirot’s many and often wildly different appearances, following the detective to present day when he is enjoying a worldwide renaissance. 
Packed with original research, never-before-published correspondence, and images from the Agatha Christie archives, Agatha Christie’s Poirot will delight fans of Hercule Poirot and mystery lovers alike.

📚 Murder for Pleasure: The Life and Times of the Detective Story, by Howard Haycraft
Published in 1941

I found this reference book it in the excellent preface to The Black Lizard, by Edogawa Rampo. As I have been reading a ot of classic mysteries, I ant to check this one out.

“Author Howard Haycraft, an expert in detective fiction, traces the genre’s development from the 1840s through the 1940s. Along the way, he charts the innovations of Edgar Allan Poe, Wilkie Collins, and Arthur Conan Doyle, as well as the modern influence of George Simenon, Josephine Tey, and others. Additional topics include a survey of the critical literature, a detective story quiz, and a Who’s Who in Detection.”

📚 BOOK RECEIVED THIS PAST WEEK 📚

5-Minute Core Exercises for Seniors

📚 5-Minute Core Exercises for Seniors, by Cindy Brehse
Expected publication: April 20th 2021, by Rockridge Press

Not yet officially in the senior group, but still these exercises might be handy when I feel too busy.

“Strengthen your core and boost your confidence with 5-minute exercise routines for seniors.
Having a strong core can improve mobility, reduce aches and pains, prevent falls, and build everyday confidence. 5-Minute Core Exercises for Seniors makes it easy to incorporate daily exercise for seniors, with a collection of 40 individual movements and 25 quick routines for strengthening the major core muscles.”

INTERESTING LINKS FOUND THIS WEEK

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

ABOUT BOOKS:
15 classic French mysteries/thrillers
(article in French)

BIRDS:
A gallery of fabulous bird pictures(among other categories) by a fellow birder.

THIS PAST WEEK ON
WORDS AND PEACE
MYRTLE SKETE
and FRANCE BOOK TOURS

📚 Book of the month giveaway choice between this book and four others 
The Readers' Room
📚 Book available for free this month, to review at your own pace!
Island on Fire
📚
Review copies available for upcoming book tours:
    Madeleine Last French Casquette Bride in New Orleans  Island on Fire Monet and Oscar  Church of Tango
📚 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

COMING UP ON
WORDS AND PEACE
MYRTLE SKETE
FRANCE BOOK TOURS

  • A few reviews for the #1936Club
  • Tips on where to cross-post your reviews

HOW WAS YOUR WEEK?

The top 9 books to read in April 2021

Here are

The top 9 books
I plan to read in April 2021

Click on the covers to know more

CURRENTLY READING

  FutureofBuildingsBookCover    Dictionnaire amoureux du polar

  The Archipelago of Another Life    A Swim in the Pond in the Rain

📚 The Future of Buildings, Transportation, and Power, 
by Roger Duncan and Michael E. Webber
Published in July 2020
See my latest words about it here.

📚 Dictionnaire amoureux du polar, by Pierre Lemaitre
Published on October 22, 2020
See my latest words about it here.

📚 The Archipelago of Another Life/ L’Archipel d’une autre vie, by Andreï Makine
Published in French in 2016
Published July 11th 2019 by MacLehose Press

I will technically begin to read this book in French on April 5 with Carol from Cas d’intérêt. We will post bilingual Q&A on her blog and mine, let us know if you would like to join our buddy read.

“A tense “Siberian Western” set in the inhospitable, boundless Russia taiga at the height of the Cold War.
On the far eastern borders of the Soviet Union, in the sunset of Stalin’s reign, soldiers are training for a war that could end all wars, for in the atomic age man has sown the seeds of his own destruction.
Among them is Pavel Gartsev, a reservist. Orphaned, scarred by the last great war and unlucky in love, he is an instant victim for the apparatchiks and ambitious careerists who thrive within the Red Army’s ranks.
Assigned to a search party composed of regulars and reservists, charged with the recapture of an escaped prisoner from a nearby gulag, Gartsev finds himself one of an unlikely quintet of cynics, sadists and heroes, embarked on a challenging manhunt through the Siberian taiga.
But the fugitive, capable, cunning and evidently at home in the depths of these vast forests, proves no easy prey. As the pursuit goes on, and the pursuers are struck by a shattering discovery, Gartsev confronts both the worst within himself and the tantalising prospect of another, totally different life.”

📚 A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, by George Saunders
Published on January 12, 2021

“From the New York Times bestselling, Booker Prize–winning author of Lincoln in the Bardo and Tenth of December comes a literary master class on what makes great stories work and what they can tell us about ourselves—and our world today.
For the last twenty years, George Saunders has been teaching a class on the Russian short story to his MFA students at Syracuse University. In A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, he shares a version of that class with us, offering some of what he and his students have discovered together over the years. Paired with iconic short stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Gogol, the seven essays in this book are intended for anyone interested in how fiction works and why it’s more relevant than ever in these turbulent times.
In his introduction, Saunders writes, “We’re going to enter seven fastidiously constructed scale models of the world, made for a specific purpose that our time maybe doesn’t fully endorse but that these writers accepted implicitly as the aim of art—namely, to ask the big questions, questions like, How are we supposed to be living down here? What were we put here to accomplish? What should we value? What is truth, anyway, and how might we recognize it?” He approaches the stories technically yet accessibly, and through them explains how narrative functions; why we stay immersed in a story and why we resist it; and the bedrock virtues a writer must foster. The process of writing, Saunders reminds us, is a technical craft, but also a way of training oneself to see the world with new openness and curiosity.
A Swim in a Pond in the Rain is a deep exploration not just of how great writing works but of how the mind itself works while reading, and of how the reading and writing of stories make genuine connection possible.”

READING NEXT

Monet and Oscar   The Old Capital

Double Indemnity

📚 Monet & Oscar, by Joe Byrd
Release date: May 1st, 2021
Will be reading for France Book Tours
There are still review copies available: click on the link or on the book cover to get your free copy!

“At the end of WWI, Oscar, an American soldier in a French Army hospital, learned of his mother’s death while recovering from his war wounds. He remained in France to search for his father, an Impressionist painter, whose identity his mother never revealed. Through curious circumstances, he’s hired to be a gardener for Claude Monet.   Oscar jumped at the opportunity to further his landscaping career by working in Monet’s world-famous garden at Giverny. He hoped the most renowned Impressionist could help him find his father.
Monet, tired and disheartened by his ailing health and deteriorating eyesight, took Oscar along on visits to his previous painting venues and allowed him to meet some of his art-world friends. These meetings provided insights into Monet’s life and art and clues to Oscar’s father’s identity.
On a train returning from Paris to Giverny, Oscar met and fell in love with Isabelle, a beautiful young American artist, who introduced him to the emerging 1920’s fashions and mores. She is the daughter of one of Monet’s major American clients, which interests him. Over Monet’s daughters’ objections, Isabelle and Oscar become regular guests at family gatherings as their infatuation blossoms into a unique love affair. Oscar’s past, present, and future collide in a way that he could not have anticipated.”

📚 The Old Capital, by Yasunari Kawabata
Published in 1962
Will be reading during April 19-25 with the Japanese Readathon Community (on Discord), and for Books in Translation Challenge and for The Classics Club

The Old Capital is one of the three novels cited specifically by the Nobel Committee when they awarded Kawabata the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968. With the ethereal tone and aesthetic styling characteristic of Kawabata’s prose, The Old Capital tells the story of Chieko, the adopted daughter of a Kyoto kimono designer, Takichiro, and his wife, Shige.
Set in the traditional city of Kyoto, Japan, this deeply poetic story revolves around Chieko who becomes bewildered and troubled as she discovers the true facets of her past. With the harmony and time-honored customs of a Japanese backdrop, the story becomes poignant as Chieko’s longing and confusion develops.

📚 Double Indemnity, by James M. Cain
Published in 1936
Will be reading for The 1936 Club, and for The Classics Club

I have never participated in any club readings posted by Stuck in a Book.
As I have two books published in 1936 on my Classics TBR list, I might as well use this opportunity. Actually, I had a third book, which I just read : A Cat, a Man, and Two Women.

“Tautly narrated and excruciatingly suspenseful, Double Indemnity gives us an X-ray view of guilt, of duplicity, and of the kind of obsessive, loveless love that devastates everything it touches. First published in 1935, this novel reaffirmed James M. Cain as a virtuoso of the roman noir.”

📚 For The 1936 Club, I’m also planning on reading The Swedish Cavalier, by Leo Perutz

📚 If all goes well, I will read a French novel with one of my student:
Cinq cartes brûléesby Sophie Loubière
And Coraline, by Neil Gaiman, with another friend

CURRENT AND NEXT AUDIOBOOKS

Murder in the Mews Appointment with Death

📚 Murder in the Mews (Hercule Poirot #18) by Agatha Christie
Published in 1937
Part of my project to listen to all of HP, for The Classics Club

“Are you ready for a question about each of the stories? How did a woman holding a pistol in her right hand manage to shoot herself in the left temple? What was the link between a ghost sighting and the disappearance of top secret military plans? How did the bullet that killed Sir Gervase shatter a mirror in another part of the room? And who destroyed the “eternal triangle” of love involving renowned beauty, Valentine Chantry?

Hercule Poirot is faced with four mystifying cases: Murder in the Mews, The Incredible Theft,, Dead Man’s Mirror and Triangle at Rhodes. Each of them is a miniature classic of characterization, incident, and suspense.”

📚 Appointment with Death (Hercule Poirot #19) by Agatha Christie
Published in 1937
Part of my project to listen to all of HP, for The Classics Club

“Among the towering red cliffs of Petra, like some monstrous swollen Buddha, sat the corpse of Mrs Boynton. A tiny puncture mark on her wrist was the only sign of the fatal injection that had killed her.
With only 24 hours available to solve the mystery, Hercule Poirot recalled a chance remark he’d overheard back in Jerusalem: ‘You see, don’t you, that she’s got to be killed?’ Mrs Boynton was, indeed, the most detestable woman he’d ever met.”

📚 I should be able also to listen to at least Hercule Poirot #20, plus 5 Biblical books (Micah, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum), and a French audiobook. 

CURRENT GIVEAWAYS

Listed on the homepage 

Review copies available throughout March:
The first two for book tours,
the third one to read and review at your own pace!

    Madeleine Last French Casquette Bride in New Orleans  Island on Fire Monet and Oscar  Church of Tango
On tour in April and May

List of books I can swap with yours

PLANS FOR APRIL

📚 Several buddy-reads, as you see
📚 And usual refrain, trying to catch up with my reviews…

Eiffel Tower Orange

HAVE YOU READ
OR ARE YOU PLANNING TO READ
ANY OF THESE?
WHAT ARE YOUR READING PLANS FOR APRIL?