2023: April wrap-up


The month of April has been crazy busy, especially with Church related activities,
and my reading stats are not the best.
Still with 10 books, I’m happy, especially as I finished two long books,
and I read/listened to some fascinating works.
I only posted four times this past month, and am a bit late on reviews,
but hoping to catch up soon.

📚 Here is what I read in April:

10 books 
6 in print 
with 1,467 pages, a daily average of 48 pages/day.
4 in audio
= 42H04
, a daily average of 1H24 minutes/day

5 in mystery:

  1. Hag’s Nook (Dr Gideon Fell #1), by John Dickson Carr
  2. Hide and Geek (Hide and Geek #1), by T.P. Jagger
  3. The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiel Hammett – audio
  4. Skin Deep, by Antonia Lassa – for book tour, review live on May 22
  5. The Light of Day, by Eric Ambler – audio

2 in historical fiction:

  1. Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of The Oxford Translators’ Revolution, by R. F. Kuang (histfic and fantasy) – audio
  2. Homecoming, by Kate Morton – audio

1 in scifi:

  1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, by Douglas Adams – audio

1 in adventure/middlegrade:

  1. Les Récrés du petit Nicolas (Le petit Nicolas #2), by René Goscinny – read with French student I.

1 in nonfiction:

  1. L’Arabe du futur #2 : Une jeunesse au Moyen-Orient, 1984-1985, by Riad Sattouf – read with French student F.


Babel Homecoming


Classics Club 4th list: 47/150 (from September 2022-until September 2027)
Japanese Literature Challenge: 15 books
Total of books read in 2023 = 56/120 (47%, 17 books ahead)
Number of books added to my TBR this past month = 26




Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow

click on the cover to access my unhappy review


Sunday Post #84


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


Marianne at Let’s Read
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please go and visit them,
they have great blogs


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Come back tomorrow to see
my exciting reading plans for May!
How was YOUR month of April?


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


The top 8 books to read in April 2023

Here are
The top 8 books
I plan to read in April 2023

Here is a sample of what I am planning on reading this month, a nice mix of genres, of classics and review books.


Les trois mousquetaires

📚 Les Trois mousquetaires,
by Alexandre Dumas
Historical fiction
896 pages
Reading with French student E.
It counts for The Classics Club

I have read this one decades ago.
I was really thrilled to revisit it when my French student E. expressed the desire to read it together.
As usual, I’m getting so much more out of it than when I first read it.
First, a few years ago I reread Don Quijote, and it’s fun to see the parallels, especially at the beginning of the book.
And as usual when I reread classics, I see so much humor that I didn’t see back then. At least in the first 10% I have reread so far, this is totally hilarious, at so many levels.
It should keep us busy for close to three months.

I am also currently reading:

  • Why Read The Classics? by Italo Calvino
  • L’Arabe du futur #2 : Une jeunesse au Moyen-Orient, 1984-1985, by Riad Sattouf (with French student F. We are planning to read the 6 volumes)
  • Thinking Orthodox: Understanding and Acquiring the Orthodox Christian Mind, by  Eugenia Scarvelis Constantinou (slow weekly reading with the catechumens of my Orthodox parish)
  • The Transfiguration of Christ in Greek Patristic Literature from Irenaeus of Lyons to Gregory Palamas, by Christopher Veniamin


Hag's Nook📚Hag’s Nook (Dr. Gideon Fell #1),
by John Dickson Carr
161 pages
It counts for The Classics Club

This is the book I got for Classic Spin #33.
And finally be my first book by John Dickson Carr.
He wrote 23 books in this series, so who knows if it may be another good series?

In his detecting debut, larger than life lexicographer Dr. Gideon Fell is entertaining young American college graduate Tad Rampole at Yew Cottage, Fell’s charming home in the English countryside.
Within sight of his study window is the ruin of Chatterham Prison, perched high on a precipice known as Hag’s Nook. The prison’s land belongs to the Starberth family—whose eldest sons must each spend an hour in the prison’s eerie “Governor’s Room” to inherit the family fortune.
Rampole is especially interested in the family, having met the young and beautiful Dorothy Starberth on the train from London. He readily agrees when Fell and the local reverend, Thomas Saunders, ask him to accompany them as they watch and wait for badly frightened Martin Starberth to complete ‘his hour’ in the prison.
Martin has every reason to be afraid; more than one Starberth heir has met an untimely end. Will his turn come tonight?

Descent into Hell

📚 Descent into Hell,
by Charles Wiiliams
Literary fiction/fantasy/Christianity
208 pages
It counts for The Classics Club

This is the result of my jar pick.
And my first book by an Inkling I have yet to discover.

“In this provocative, classic metaphysical thriller, a group of suburban amateur actors plagued by personal demons and terrors explore the pathways to heaven and hell.
Certain inhabitants of Battle Hill, a small community on the outskirts of London, are preparing to mount a new play by the neighborhood’s most illustrious resident, the writer Peter Stanhope. Each actor struggles with self-absorption, doubt, fear, and sin. But “the Hill” is not like other places. Here the past and present intermingle, ghosts walk among the living, and reality is often clouded by dreams and the dark fantastic. For young Pauline Anstruther, who is caring for an aging grandmother and frightened by the specter of a doppelgänger who gets closer with each visitation, the prospect of heaven exists in the renowned playwright’s willingness to bear the burden of her terror. For eminent historian Lawrence Wentworth, the rejection of his desire pulls him deeper inside himself, leaving him vulnerable to the lure of the succubus and opening wide the entrance to hell.
A brilliant theological thriller, Descent into Hell is an extraordinary fictional meditation on sin and personal salvation by one of the twentieth century’s most original and provocative literary artists. Charles Williams, a member of the Inklings alongside fellow Oxfordians C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Owen Barfield, has written a powerful work at once profoundly disturbing and gloriously uplifting, an ingenious amalgam of metaphysics, religious thought, and darkest fantasy.

Hide and Geek

📚 Hide and Geek (Hide and Geek #1),
by T.P. Jagger
Mystery / Middlegrade
Jan 4, 2022
320 pages

This is the random book from the titles I added to my TBR last month.
Don’t you love the title? That’s what attracted me to the book in the first place.

“A puzzlemaker’s last clue. A friendship’s last chance.
The GEEKs:
Gina, Edgar, Elena, and Kevin have been best friends for as long as they can remember. So when their arch-nemesis points out that their initials make them literally GEEKs, they decide to go with it.
The problem:
The GEEKs’ hometown of Elmwood was once the headquarters of the famous toymaker Maxine Van Houten. Her popular puzzle sphere, the Bamboozler, put the town on the map. But Maxine passed away long ago. Now the toy factory is shutting down, and Elena’s mom and Kevin’s dad are losing their jobs. They might have to move–and that would mean splitting up the GEEKs!
The quest:
Maxine left one final puzzle, a treasure hunt that could save the town and keep the friends together. But only those who know and love Elmwood best will be able to solve it. GEEKs to the rescue!”

Skin Deep

📚 Skin Deep
by Antonia Lassa
Translated by Jacky Collins
Llevar en la piel
was first published in Spanish in 2023
To be published on 4/30/2023
by Corylus Books
136 pages
Epub received for review – book tour

“When police arrest eccentric loner Émile Gassiat for the murder of a wealthy woman in a shabby seaside apartment in Biarritz, Inspector Canonne is certain he has put the killer behind bars. Now he just needs to prove it.
But he hasn’t reckoned with the young man’s friends, who bring in lawyer-turned-investigator Larten to head for the desolate out-of-season south-west of France to dig deep into what really happened.
Larten’s hunt for the truth takes him back to the bustle of Paris as he seeks to demonstrate that the man in prison is innocent, despite all the evidence – and to uncover the true killer behind a series of bizarre murders.
Skin Deep is Antonia Lassa’s first novel to appear in English.”

A History of the Island

📚 A History of the Island,
Translated by Lisa C. Hayden
Оправдание Острова
was first published in 2020

Historical fiction
To be published on May 23, 2023
by Plough Publishing
320 pages
Ebook received rhough Netgalley

I was very impressed by Laurus, by the same author, and it seems this is some kind of sequel.

“Monks devious and devout – and an age-defying royal pair – chronicle the history of their fictional island in this witty critique of Western civilization and history itself.
Eugene Vodolazkin, internationally acclaimed novelist and scholar of medieval literature, returns with a satirical parable about European and Russian history, the myth of progress, and the futility of war.
This ingenious novel, described by critics as a coda to his bestselling Laurus, is presented as a chronicle of an island from medieval to modern times. The island is not on the map, but it is real beyond doubt. It cannot be found in history books, yet the events are painfully recognizable. The monastic chroniclers dutifully narrate events they witness: quests for power, betrayals, civil wars, pandemics, droughts, invasions, innovations, and revolutions. The entries mostly seem objective, but at least one monk simultaneously drafts and hides a “true” history, to be discovered centuries later.

And why has someone snipped out a key prophesy about the island’s fate?
These chronicles receive commentary today from an elderly couple who are the island’s former rulers. Prince Parfeny and Princess Ksenia are truly extraordinary: they are now 347 years old. Eyewitnesses to much of their island’s turbulent history, they offer sharp-eyed observations on the changing flow of time and their people’s persistent delusions. Why is the royal couple still alive? Is there a chance that an old prophecy comes to pass and two righteous persons save the island from catastrophe?
In the tradition of Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose, Julian Barnes’s A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters, and Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant, Vodolazkin is at his best recasting history, in all its hubris and horror, by finding the humor in its absurdity.

For readers with an appetite for more than a dry, rational, scientific view of what motivates, divides, and unites people, A History of the Island conjures a world still suffused with mystical powers.”


Babel The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

🎧 Babel, Or the Necessity of Violence:
An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators’ Revolution,
by R. F. Kuang
Fantasy / Historical fiction
544 pages
22 hours
Narrated by Chris Lew Kum Hoi

I have a couple more hours of this one, very impressive!

1828. Robin Swift, orphaned by cholera in Canton, is brought to London by the mysterious Professor Lovell. There, he trains for years in Latin, Ancient Greek, and Chinese, all in preparation for the day he’ll enroll in Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation—also known as Babel. The tower and its students are the world’s center for translation and, more importantly, magic. Silver-working—the art of manifesting the meaning lost in translation using enchanted silver bars—has made the British unparalleled in power, as the arcane craft serves the Empire’s quest for colonization.
For Robin, Oxford is a utopia dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. But knowledge obeys power, and as a Chinese boy raised in Britain, Robin realizes serving Babel means betraying his motherland. As his studies progress, Robin finds himself caught between Babel and the shadowy Hermes Society, an organization dedicated to stopping imperial expansion. When Britain pursues an unjust war with China over silver and opium, Robin must decide . . .”

🎧  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy ,
(The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy #1),
by Douglas Adams
Science fiction
216 pages
Narrated by Stephen Fry

Last time I tried this, I gave up, not sure why, as I enjoy a lot scifi.
Let’s try this again, in audio this time.

“Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor.
Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers: Zaphod Beeblebrox–the two-headed, three-armed ex-hippie and totally out-to-lunch president of the galaxy; Trillian, Zaphod’s girlfriend (formally Tricia McMillan), whom Arthur tried to pick up at a cocktail party once upon a time zone; Marvin, a paranoid, brilliant, and chronically depressed robot; Veet Voojagig, a former graduate student who is obsessed with the disappearance of all the ballpoint pens he bought over the years.
Where are these pens? Why are we born? Why do we die? Why do we spend so much time between wearing digital watches? For all the answers stick your thumb to the stars. And don’t forget to bring a towel!”

Eiffel Tower Orange



The top 7 books to read in March 2023

Here are
The top 7 books
I plan to read in March 2023

As you know, I’m less and less requesting new books, andd focusing instead on my various TBRs.
So I’m thrilled to announce that this month, I’ll be starting a project I had in mind for a while:
– besides reading at least one book from my physical shelf,
– I also picked a random title from my long Goodreads TBR (1,153 titles as I’m writing this), and I picked this way:
In 2022, I started filling a jar with titles: each time I would see mention, on another blog, of a book that had been on my TBR for a while, I added that title to my jar. So I currently have a lot of papers in my jar, and I finally started digging to read at least one of these books.
– Also, I have decided to pick a random title (with random generator number) from the books I added to my TBR last month.

Each month, I want to keep reading a book in Italian or Spanish – in alternation.
The Japanese Literature Challenge is officially over, but I will keep reading Japanese titles throughout the year.
And on top of that, there are always surprise titles, that my French students want to read with me.
So here is a sample of what I am planning on reading this month:


Why Read the Classics

📚 Why Read The Classics?
by Italo Calvino
Nonfiction / Book on Books
Perché leggere i classici
was published in 1991
306 pages

Reading in Italian.
Besides the brilliant first essay on Why Read the Classics?, the other 35 essays each focusses on a different classic.
So far, I have been reading the part focused on Antiquity: Homer, Xenophon, Ovid, and Plinius the Elder.

Arvo Pärt_Out of Silence📚 Arvo Pärt: Out of Silence,
by Peter C. Bouteneff
Nonfiction / Biography / Music / Eastern Orthodoxy
Published in 2015
231 pages

I am now more in the meaty part. And discovering how some of his works are so structured on the text, I had no idea! Fascinating!

“Listeners often speak of a certain mystery in the way that Arvo Pärt evokes spirituality through his music, but no one has taken a sustained, close look at how he achieves this. Arvo Pärt: Out of Silence examines the powerful interplay between Pärt’s music and the composer’s own deep roots in the Orthodox Christian faith—a relationship that has born much creative fruit and won the hearts of countless listeners across the globe.”

L'Arabe du future #1

📚 L’Arabe du futur :
Une jeunesse au Moyen-Orient, 1978–1984
(L’Arabe du futur, #1)
by Riad Sattouf
French nonfiction – Graphic novel
Memoir – History
Published in 2014
158 pages
Available in English as
The Arab of the Future:
A Childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984

Reading with French student F.

My French student F. enjoys exploring different genre, so she chose this nonfiction graphic “novel”.
It’s a nice way of reviewing a major page in world history!
I like how the artist plays the different background colors.
There are 6 volumes in the series, covering the author’s life from 1978 to 2011.
Just in the first quarter of the book, but we start seeing interesting cultural differences.

The Arab of the Future, the #1 French best-seller, tells the unforgettable story of Riad Sattouf’s childhood, spent in the shadows of 3 dictators—Muammar Gaddafi, Hafez al-Assad, and his father.
In striking, virtuoso graphic style that captures both the immediacy of childhood and the fervor of political idealism, Riad Sattouf recounts his nomadic childhood growing up in rural France, Gaddafi’s Libya, and Assad’s Syria–but always under the roof of his father, a Syrian Pan-Arabist who drags his family along in his pursuit of grandiose dreams for the Arab nation.
Riad, delicate and wide-eyed, follows in the trail of his mismatched parents; his mother, a bookish French student, is as modest as his father is flamboyant. Venturing first to the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab State and then joining the family tribe in Homs, Syria, they hold fast to the vision of the paradise that always lies just around the corner. And hold they do, though food is scarce, children kill dogs for sport, and with locks banned, the Sattoufs come home one day to discover another family occupying their apartment. The ultimate outsider, Riad, with his flowing blond hair, is called the ultimate insult… Jewish. And in no time at all, his father has come up with yet another grand plan, moving from building a new people to building his own great palace.
Brimming with life and dark humor, The Arab of the Future reveals the truth and texture of one eccentric family in an absurd Middle East, and also introduces a master cartoonist in a work destined to stand alongside Maus and Persepolis.”

I am acually also reading two other books on Orthodox spirituality.
I will talk about them when I am done.


The Fifth Rule of Ten📚 The Fifth Rule of Ten
(Tenzing Norbu Mysteres #5)
by Gay Hendricks and Tinker Lindsay
384 pages

This is the result of my jar pick!
I have really enjoyed the first 4 books in this series, and realized I had never read the last volume. So glad I picked this one!
The detective is an ex-Buddhist monk, so it’s not your usual thriller pace, and there are intyeresting reflection on life.

“Be mindful, both making and keeping commitments, that they be springboards to liberation, instead of suffering.
That’s the Fifth Rule of Ten
Private investigator and ex-Buddhist monk Tenzing Norbu is wrestling with commitments on all fronts. He and his fiancée, Julie, can’t seem to commit to an actual wedding date. Ten’s dropped the ball on a pledge to find his assistant Kim’s missing brother, Bobby. Even his dreams hint at broken vows. And now his best friends, Lama Yeshe and Lama Lobsang, are about to land in Los Angeles with a Tibetan entourage for an unexpected 10-day fund-raising tour, sponsored by the local Buddhist Temple Ten abandoned 12 years earlier. Obligations are piling on, and for the first time in his life Tenzing Norbu is finding it hard to breathe.
Then an anonymous cell phone voice taunts Ten as he waits for his best friends at LAX, a mysterious missive lands in Tenzing’s mailbox, and the bloody evidence of foul play on a Griffith Park trail points directly to him. Tenzing knows that something dark is afoot, and the ensuing series of ominous events and disconcerting clues pull Ten into a dark mirror-world of Tibetan Buddhist tradition. He joins forces with Yeshe, Lobsang, his ex-partner, Bill, and his hack-tivist buddy, Mike, to track down the Patient Zero of this epidemic of criminal chaos. In The Fifth Rule of Ten, our hero is forced into a life-and-death battle with a powerful shadow presence whose roots reach way back in time. Tenzing must commit to fully embracing his own past, or lose everything he now holds dear.”

Éclipses japonaises


📚 Éclipses japonaises,
by Éric Faye
Literary fiction
240 pages

This is the random book from the titles I added to my TBR last month.

And I added it to my TBR because the title attracted my attention (just say the word “Japanese” and I wake up!).

Plus I read Nagasaki by the same author a few years ago, and gave it “5 Eiffel Towers”!

Éclipses japonaises hasn’t been pubished yet in French, so here is a translation of the official synopsis:
In 1966, an American G. I. mysteriously disappeared during a patrol in the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas. He is considered “missing”.
At the end of the 1970s, on the coasts of the Sea of Japan, men and women, of all ages and from all walks of life, vanished. Among them, a schoolgirl who came home alone from school, an archaeologist who was about to post her thesis, and a future nurse who wanted to buy an ice cream.
“Hidden by the gods”, as they say in Japanese.These victims left no trace, not a clue, thus puzzling the investigators. One by one, the cases got closed, the families left to incomprehension, and the disappeared  poeple forgotten.
In 1987, Korean Air Flight 858 exploded in midair. One of the terrorists, who got off the plane during a stopover, was arrested. She spoke in perfect Japanese. However, the police eventually identified a spy who came straight from North Korea.
Twenty-five years later, the Japanese “hidden by the gods” reappeared like ghosts, in the lands of Kim Jong-un.
Then, it is the turn of the G. I. to reappear in a North Korean propaganda TV movie, where the CIA saw him playing the role of a hated American.
Are all these cases related?


I am a Cat The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman

🎧 I Am a Cat,
by Natsume Soseki
Japanese literary fiction
was first published in 1905
Translated by Graeme Wilson and Aiko Ito
470 pages
It counts for The Japanese Literature Challenge
and The Classics Club

I have a couple more hours of this one.

🎧 The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman,
by Laurence
Literary fiction / Humor
735 pages
It counts for The Classics Club

Some years ago, I listened to My Great Books, an excellent lecture given by Salman Rushdie at Emory University, where he shares about the great books in his life.
If you love classics, I highly encourage you to watch this video.
The first classic he mentioned was The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentlemanpublished in 1767, yes, you read this right, by the Anglo-Irish author Laurence Sterne (1713-1768).
What Rushdie said about it was so inspiring that I added it to my TBR.
I bumped into it several times recently (it is mentioned in Rouvrir le roman, and in I Am A Cat – my current audiobook), so the time has fially come for me to dive in!
My library has a good audiobook version of it available through Hoopla, so I’m planning on partially listening to it. But I will also probably read some passages, or at least check a print book, to read important relevant notes.

“Endlessly digressive, boundlessly imaginative and unmatched in its absurd and timeless wit.
Laurence Sterne’s great masterpiece of bawdy humour and rich satire defies any attempt to categorize it, with a rich metafictional narrative that might classify it as the first ‘postmodern’ novel. Part novel, part digression, its gloriously disordered narrative interweaves the birth and life of the unfortunate ‘hero’ Tristram Shandy, the eccentric philosophy of his father Walter, the amours and military obsessions of Uncle Toby, and a host of other characters, including Dr Slop, Corporal Trim and the parson Yorick. A joyful celebration of the endless possibilities of the art of fiction, Tristram Shandy is also a wry demonstration of its limitations.”

Have you read it? Your thoughts? Any recommended edition for the notes?

Eiffel Tower Orange