Sunday Post #34 – 1/17/2021

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

You can read tons of information and reflections on world events on many other sites, so I’ll stick to what this blog is about: reading good books.
I have already finished 6 books, actually probably 7 when this post gets live on Sunday.

JUST READ

The Romanov Sisters Les grands cerfs

📚 The Romanov Sisters, by Helen Rappaport
Published in 2014
Public library book

Every winter, my public library proposes a winter reading challenge. You answer questions, and they try to have you read a book that’s outside your reading comfort zone. I guess they forgot I am very active in my Russian Orthodox Church, and had me read The Romanov Sisters! In case you don’t know, the Orthodox Church considers them martyrs for their faith, so they are saints for us, and we even have an icon of the whole family in our church.
Anyway, I had never read the book, so I’m glad the library picked it up for me.
Helen Rappaport is an author and historian specialized in that period both in England and Russia. She writes very well and you can see she put so much research into this book.
Even if you are not Orthodox, but are interested in world history, you absolutely need to read it. She has two more books on the Romanovs.
I so enjoyed getting to know better each sister, with her own strong personality. But it was emotionally really hard, for instance when they have crushes and talk about marriage plans, and when you know how it all ended.

The Romanov Sisters p132Another element of the sadness is that the tsar was never made to have that position (as this page 312 excerpt shows), and all he or his wife dreamed of was living peacefully in a secluded area with their children, their family life being their most precious treasure.
So it was ultimately a very sad read for me.

If you are interested in Orthodoxy, there were two points I discovered:
– it’s actually thanks to the French crook doctor Nizier Anthelme Philippe that Saint Seraphim of Sarov was recognized by the whole Church and canonized. Indeed, before leaving the Russian court where he had been too influential, Philippe told the couple to pray St Seraphim of Sarov to have a son (see pages 69-70). At the time though, there was no such official saint in the Orthodox Church. So they went to Sarov and discovered a humble monk who had been locally revered and had died 70 years before. That was the beginning of the process, and he is now one of the most beloved modern Russian saints. So, even French crooks can help, lol!
– Also, I sometimes wondered why my Church has such a strong position on keeping the Julian calendar (which runs 13 days late compared to our Gregorian civil calendar). I had not realized that the Julian calendar had been used not only for Church life, but also in civil life in Russia until 1918. It’s actually the Bolsheviks who made the change and had Russia adopt the Gregorian calendar for civil life on February 4, 1918. Now it makes sense to refuse such a change. (information found on page 351)

📚 Les grands cerfs, by Claudie Hunzinger
Published in 2019, book received through Netgalley.fr

Nice discovery for me. A novel strongly based on the author’s own experience of living in a very remote area. It’s all about observing deer in all kinds of weather, to the point of recognizing each one, of naming them, of following their daily life. And it’s also about disastrous decisions taken by the French government about French rural areas. Also ultimately sad!!
The descriptions are fabulous and remind me of Sylvain Tesson‘s style and content.

CURRENTLY READING

The sound of waves  L'Anomalie

📚The Sound of Waves (1954), by Yukio Mishima
Published in 1954
Reading for Japanese Reading Challenge 14, for Books in Translation Challenge, and for The Classics Club
Purchased at a library book sale

I should actually have finished this book when you read this post. This is the first time I read Mishima, and I really enjoy his style, especially his description of the natural environment, and also of the two main characters, with their innocence that most of the world cannot even understand.

“Set in a remote fishing village in Japan, The Sound of Waves is a timeless story of first love. It tells of Shinji, a young fisherman and Hatsue, the beautiful daughter of the wealthiest man in the village. Shinji is entranced at the sight of Hatsue in the twilight on the beach and they fall in love. When the villagers’ gossip threatens to divide them, Shinji must risk his life to prove his worth”

📚 L’Anomalie, by Hervé Le Tellier
Published in 2020, winner of the prestigious Prix Goncourt
Ebook

I’m often weary of literary awards, but when I realized this author is part of the Oulipo (a bunch of authors trying something very different in their art of writing), I knew I had to try it. I have heard that the originality is that he mixes many different literary genres in the same book. I have just started it, and so far, sounds good indeed.

BOOK UP NEXT

 

Some Prefer Nettles

📚 Some Prefer Nettles (1928), by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki,
For The Japanese Reading Challenge, for the Books in Translation Challenge, and for The Classics Club

The marriage of Kaname and Misako is disintegrating: whilst seeking passion and fulfilment in the arms of others, they contemplate the humiliation of divorce. Misako’s father believes their relationship has been damaged by the influence of a new and alien culture, and so attempts to heal the breach by educating his son-in-law in the time-honoured Japanese traditions of aesthetic and sensual pleasure. The result is an absorbing, chilling conflict between ancient and modern, young and old.”

LAST 2 BOOKS ADDED TO MY GOODREADS TBR

  Permafrost How to Mars

📚 Permafrost, by Alastair Reynolds
Published in 2019

If I consider the recent additions to my Goodreads TBR, looks like I’m shifting more towards science-fiction. And the last two added are in that genre.

“Fix the past. Save the present. Stop the future. Alastair Reynolds unfolds a time-traveling climate fiction adventure in Permafrost.
2080: at a remote site on the edge of the Arctic Circle, a group of scientists, engineers and physicians gather to gamble humanity’s future on one last-ditch experiment. Their goal: to make a tiny alteration to the past, averting a global catastrophe while at the same time leaving recorded history intact. To make the experiment work, they just need one last recruit: an ageing schoolteacher whose late mother was the foremost expert on the mathematics of paradox.
2028: a young woman goes into surgery for routine brain surgery. In the days following her operation, she begins to hear another voice in her head… an unwanted presence which seems to have a will, and a purpose, all of its own – one that will disrupt her life entirely. The only choice left to her is a simple one.
Does she resist… or become a collaborator?”

📚 How to Mars, by David Ebenbach
Expected publication: May 25, 2021 by Tachyon Publications

“What happens when your dream mission to Mars is a reality television nightmare? This debut science-fiction romp with heart follows the tradition of Ray Bradbury’s Martian Chronicles, with a dash of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and a hint of The Real World.
For the six lucky scientists selected by the Destination Mars! corporation, a one-way ticket to Mars—in exchange for a lifetime of research—was an absolute no-brainer. The incredible opportunity was clearly worth even the most absurdly tedious screening process. Perhaps worth following the strange protocols in a nonsensical handbook written by an eccentric billionaire. Possibly even worth their constant surveillance, the video of which is carefully edited into a ratings-bonanza back on Earth.
But it turns out that after a while even scientists can get bored of science. Tempers begin to fray; unsanctioned affairs blossom. When perfectly good equipment begins to fail, the Marsonauts are faced with a possibility that their training just cannot explain.
Irreverent, poignant, and perfectly weird, David Ebenbach’s debut science-fiction outing, like a mission to Mars, is an incredible trip you will never forget.”

NO BOOK RECEIVED THIS PAST WEEK

 

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

📚 Book of the month giveaway
📚 Book available for free this month
📚 Subscribe to my Newsletter, and win a book each month!
Here is a sample, with link for subscription at the bottom

COMING UP ON
WORDS AND PEACE
MYRTLE SKETE
FRANCE BOOK TOURS

  • Late reviews?
  • More Orthodox book notes?
  • Another tour live: L’Origine

HOW WAS YOUR WEEK?

 

 

Sunday Post #33 – 12/13/2020

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

The weather has been crazy here in Chicagoland so far this season, with most days in the 40s, warmer than formal. I even had lunch outside one day, when the real feel was 63. And now, twenty for hours of rain. Though I’ll take it, instead of snow. I’ll be talking more about the weather here below.

JUST READ

The Vexations  La grande escapade

Silver Spoon 2

📚 The Vexations, by Caitlin Horrocks
Published in 2019
Lent by a friend

I was disappointed by this historical novel, which actually focuses more on Erik Satie‘s sister than on himself.
Besides, I had problems with the structure of the book. Each chapter is written from of the main character’s perspective, but with no apparent logic structure. For instance, you can have one chapter about Erik, and then about Louise decades later in Brazil or earlier. There’s no regular back and forth between Satie’s time and his sister’s latest years.
I don’t mind a collection of vignettes, but they seemed randomly distributed.
Also, the author focuses on Satie’s poverty and hard time at having his music recognized, and then suddenly he is selling his works, with no clear sign of an evolution, how that happened.
Bu there ARE some neat passages on Satie’s music and the ambiance of the time, like in these 3 examples:

The Vexations p22

Page 22

The Vexations p74

Page 74

The Vexations p150

Page 150

The book also made me rediscover Debussy’s orchestrations of the Gymnopédies. I had totally forgotten them, and was recently just listening to the work for piano solo. The orchestration is so ample, like you are viewing a vast horizon. Beautiful. For instance here.

📚 La grande escapade, by Jean-Philippe Blondel
Published in 2019, book received through Netgalley.fr

I have very much enjoyed other books by this author, especially The 6:41 to Paris, but alas I was also disappointed by this one.
I have to admit it is a good portrait of France in the 1970s, especially in a rather small place, and there are some really hilarious passages. But the context of teachers, students and parents in grade school didn’t really interest me that much.

📚 Silver Spoon #2, by Hiromu Arakawa
Published in 2018

I love manga, but I am very picky. I really enjoy this one, quite original in his content:
“A young boy named Yugo Hachiken aspires to live apart from his family. He enrolls in an agriculture school, one which requires its students to live in dormitories. He thinks that with his talent for studying, no problems will arise no matter what kind of school he goes to. But he is soon forced to discover the inconvenient truth about agricultural life. Enjoy the story of Hachiken as he tries to keep up with his friends, farmers’ heirs who are already accustomed to a hardworking farm life.”
In this 2nd volume, the students have discovered a very old pizza oven. They work together to fix it, and Yugo Hachiken organizes a team to prepare and sell pizzas. He is getting more realistic and self-confident. Then he decides to work as a farm hand during his vacation.
I enjoy how his inner growth is portrayed.

CURRENTLY READING

 The Letter Killers Club

Flood red notebook

📚The Letter Killers Club (1926), by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky
Published in 1926
This is the book I got for Classics Spin #25.
I presented it in my December titles post.

I haven’t read too much of it yet, besides the excellent introduction in this edition.
This author sounds to have written in a post-modernist style way ahead of his time. No wonder he had a hard time making a living.
Sounds like a collection of really weird stories. The first story focuses on an author who gets rids of his books to be able to write better.

📚 Flood, by Stephen Baxter
Published in 2008

One of my French students loves science fiction and sent me this book by his favorite author in the genre. Waters are rising, flooding London, Sydney, and many more places. What’s really going on? It seems it’s much worse than “just” global warming. I’m curious to discover what’s coming! Have you read it?

📚 The Red Notebook, by Antoine Laurain
Published in 2014
Reading in French with my French Book Club on Discord

I really enjoy this author, and highly recommend his latest book The Readers’ Room, but I had actually never read this one. Very enjoyable so far.

“Heroic bookseller Laurent Letellier comes across an abandoned handbag on a Parisian street. There’s nothing in the bag to indicate who it belongs to, although there’s all sorts of other things in it. Laurent feels a strong impulse to find the owner and tries to puzzle together who she might be from the contents of the bag. Especially a red notebook with her jottings, which really makes him want to meet her. Without even a name to go on, and only a few of her possessions to help him, how is he to find one woman in a city of millions?”

BOOK UP NEXT

A Very Russian Christmas

📚 A Very Russian Christmas: The Greatest Russian Holiday Stories of All Time
Published in 2016 by New Vessel Press

‘Tis the season!
New Vessel Press, which exclusively publishes great books in translation, has published already five books in this series. I have read and really enjoyed the one on French Christmas stories, so I decided to read the Russian one this year.

LAST 2 BOOKS ADDED TO MY GOODREADS TBR

Project Hail Mary Penguin Book of Christmas Stories

📚 Hail Mary, by Andy Weir
Expected publication: May 4th 2021 by Ballantine Books

I gave 5 stars to The Martian, so I’m ready for this one!
“Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission–and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.
Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.
All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.”

📚 The Penguin Book of Christmas Stories: From Hans Christian Andersen to Angela Carter
Published in 2019
I only found out about this one, so that will probably be for my 2021 Christmas!

“This is a collection of the most magical, moving, chilling and surprising Christmas stories from around the world, taking us from frozen Nordic woods to glittering Paris, a New York speakeasy to an English country house, bustling Lagos to midnight mass in Rio, and even outer space.
Here are classic tales from writers including Truman Capote, Shirley Jackson, Dylan Thomas, Saki and Chekhov, as well as little-known treasures such as Italo Calvino’s wry sideways look at Christmas consumerism, Wolfdietrich Schnurre’s story of festive ingenuity in Berlin, Selma Lagerlof’s enchanted forest in Sweden, and Irène Nemerovsky’s dark family portrait. Featuring santas, ghosts, trolls, unexpected guests, curmudgeons and miracles, here is Christmas as imagined by some of the greatest short story writers of all time.”

BOOK RECEIVED THIS PAST WEEK

Ready Player Two

📚 Ready Player Two, by Eernest Cline
Audiobook narrated by Wil Wheaton

Published on November 24, 2020

Seven years after listening to Ready Player One, I can still say this is the best audiobook I have EVER listened to, thanks to the stunning performance of narrator Wil Wheaton.
I’m thrilled that there was just an Audible free trial!

“An unexpected quest. Two worlds at stake. Are you ready?
Days after Oasis founder James Halliday’s contest, Wade Watts makes a discovery that changes everything. Hidden within Halliday’s vault, waiting for his heir to find, lies a technological advancement that will once again change the world and make the Oasis a thousand times more wondrous, and addictive, than even Wade dreamed possible. With it comes a new riddle and a new quest. A last Easter egg from Halliday, hinting at a mysterious prize. And an unexpected, impossibly powerful, and dangerous new rival awaits, one who will kill millions to get what he wants. Wade’s life and the future of the Oasis are again at stake, but this time the fate of humanity also hangs in the balance.”

BOOK JOURNAL

📚 12/6 Spiritual reading: Psalm 118: A Commentary by Saint Theophan the Recluse.
I read about verses 53-58
I finally finished The Vexations, by Caitlin Horrocks. Some nice passages on Satie’s music, but overall disappointing. See my review.
I almost finished La grande escapade, by Blondel. I didn’t remember so much humor in the previous books I read by him. It’s not my favorite element in novels, but I have to say, some passages made me laugh out loud, like the connection between the music group Bonney M, and Bonnet C, which in French is a bra cup measurement!!

sorry for not writing more here

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

  • New book tour available: historical novel set in Paris, on Modigliani!
  • 2021 Book Fête: new feature offered on France Book Tours, to allow a more flexible offer of book reviews
  • And di you know Words And Peace and France Book Tours are now on Patreon? Hint hint, lol

📚 Book of the month giveaway

COMING UP ON
WORDS AND PEACE
MYRTLE SKETE
FRANCE BOOK TOURS

  • Late reviews?
  • More Orthodox book notes?
  • One new tour should be soon available

HOW WAS YOUR WEEK?

 

Sunday Post #32 – 12/6/2020

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

I haven’t done a Sunday Post since June, trying to come back.
But things are busy here, with more new French students, and more virtual book tours. I already posted one for January 2021, and will post two more next week!
I also FINALLY created a Patreon page, so you can more easily support Words And Peace and France Book Tours, and receive goodies for it (books for now, merch down the line).

But my reading schedule is going well.

JUST READ

  Ichi-F  To Hold Up the Sky

Murder on the Orient Express   

📚 Ichi-F: A Worker’s Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, by Kazuto Tatsuta
Published in 2017

I particularly enjoy nonfiction graphic “novels”.
This one by written (text and illustrations) by a manga artist who has also worked at Fukushima. This is not about the 2011 disaster, but about the huge efforts of cleaning up the area.
Ichi-F means 1-F, in other words the Fukushima first nuclear reactor.
The author was amazed by all the wrong rumors about the place, so he set up to show what’s really going on there, with tons of security measures and very careful work.
This is fascinating, with lots of details on the complicated work conditions. For instance, you may need one hour to put on all your protective gear, but if you work in a particularly heavy radiation zone, (some are more or less on the site), you may end up working only thirty minutes a day. Each worker wears a device counting the radiation. They cannot go over a certain limit per day, per month, and per year. So sometimes, you can only work for three months. Hence the slowness of the work and the need for so many workers. Still, the author shows how much has been done within the four years or so he has worked there.
The author only talks about the workers daily life, where they live, what they eat, and talk about.
The book was absolutely fascinating. This is a big book, 561 pages, with a lot to read on each page.

📚 To Hold Up the Sky, by Cixin Liu
Published on October, 20.
Ebook received through Netgalley

I haven’t written my review yet. I’ll just say it’s written by the author of Supernova Era, which I so enjoyed.
So we are staying in Asia, with an awesome collection of Chinese scifi short stories. Great author!

📚 Murder on the Orient Express (Hercule Poirot #10), by Agatha Christie
Published in 1934. Audiobook.
For my project to listen to all of Hercule Poirot. Counts for The Classics Club

According to Goodreads, I had read it in 2012. Then I watched the three movie/TV versions (the BBC one is bar far the best, according to me – who can surpass David Suchet??). So I had actually forgotten I had read it.
The narrator of this one was actually also David Suchet. I realized that even though I knew so many details about the story, I still very much enjoyed it, especially by noticing the little clues here and there. Masterful.

CURRENTLY READING/LISTENING TO

The Vexations Atom[ka]

📚 The Vexations, by Caitlin Horrocks
Published in 2019
Lent by a friend

I know Judy at Keep the Wisdom has really liked it, but I have to say I’m a bit disappointed. I was expecting much more about Erik Satie himself, but it seems the book actually focuses more on his sister. I have other issues with the book, which I will talk to you about next Sunday hopefully.
Bu there ARE some neat passages on Satie’s music and the ambiance of the time.

📚 And in audiobook, Atom[ka], by  Franck Thilliez
Published in 2012
French audiobook

As mentioned above, I just read this book on Fukushima, so staying somewhat in the same field with this amazing thriller around Chernobyl (I think one of the three threads is about that). There are riveting descriptions in a mental hospital, and tons of suspense as usual with Thilliez.
The narrator is spectacular, Michel Raimbault, like for most of the books in this series.

BOOK UP NEXT

The Letter Killers Club

📚The Letter Killers Club (1926), by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky
Published in 1926.
This is the book I got for Classics Spin #25.
I presented it in my December titles post.

LAST 2 BOOKS ADDED TO MY GOODREADS TBR

  Dojoji Knots and Crosses

📚 Dojoji, by Yukio Mishima
Japanese play, published in 1957
I’m planning to read it in January, for the Japanese Literature Challenge, and for The Classics Club

“Mishima’s play is called Dojoji, and takes place in a secondhand furniture shop. The Dealer has organized a private auction for some very rich customers. He is selling a giant wardrobe, big enough to fit a double bed in. The Dealer explains that the wardrobe is up for auction because it belonged to one of the rich families who “has gone down a bit in the world” since the end of WWII, so they must sell their furniture. The wardrobe is very impressive, and soon the bidding hits three million Yen.
However, just as the bidding reaches a climax, a woman enters the scene, bidding only three thousand Yen for the wardrobe.”

📚 Knos and Crosses, by Ian Rankin
Published in 1987
I have heard about this author twice this past week, so that’s a good sign!

“Detective John Rebus: His city is being terrorized by a baffling series of murders…and he’s tied to a maniac by an invisible knot of blood. Once John Rebus served in Britain’s elite SAS. Now he’s an Edinburgh cop who hides from his memories, misses promotions and ignores a series of crank letters. But as the ghoulish killings mount and the tabloid headlines scream, Rebus cannot stop the feverish shrieks from within his own mind. Because he isn’t just one cop trying to catch a killer, he’s the man who’s got all the pieces to the puzzle…
Knots and Crosses introduces a gifted mystery novelist, a fascinating locale and the most compellingly complex detective hero at work today..”

BOOK RECEIVED THIS PAST WEEK

L'Origine

📚 L’Origine, by Lilianne Milgrom
Published on July 28
Historical novel set in France. Received for France Book Tours

We still have a couple of spots on the tour!!

L’Origine‘ traces the extraordinary, clandestine odyssey of an iconic 19th century painting that shook up the author’s world and continues to scandalize all who set eyes upon it.
Gustave Courbet’s portrait of a woman’s exposed torso and sex – audaciously entitled ‘L’Origine du monde’ (The Origin of the World) – was so shocking it was kept hidden for a century and a half, surviving revolution, Nazi plunder and the foibles of its eccentric owners.
Today it draws millions of visitors to Paris’ Orsay Museum. Lilianne Milgrom brings a fresh, feminine perspective to an iconic work of art created specifically for the male gaze.
L’Origine‘ offers readers more than a riveting romp through history–it also reflects society’s complex attitude towards female nudity.

NB: this is a historical novel, no explicit scenes

BOOK JOURNAL

📚 Wow, I forgot I has been doing this! Will try to restart this. Maybe for my exclusive Newsletter!

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

📚 Book of the month giveaway

COMING UP ON
WORDS AND PEACE
MYRTLE SKETE
FRANCE BOOK TOURS

  • Late reviews?
  • More Orthodox book notes?
  • Two new tours will be posted on Monday and Tuesday

HOW WAS YOUR WEEK?