April Round-up

I read 14 books in April, 4 non-fiction and 10 fiction.

Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear. This is the second book in the Maisie Dobbs series. Dobbs is a private investigator based in London and the books take place in the period between the first and second World Wars (a time period I find especially interesting).

Michael Tolliver Lives by Armistead Maupin. I loved, loved, loved the Tales of the City series when I first read them (and the PBS miniseries too), but I never got into this book. It was nice to catch up with known and beloved characters, but I felt like the sex was gratuitous (which I never felt like in the original series). Perhaps I am just getting old.

Sweet Mandarin: The Courageous True Story of Three Generations of Chinese Women and Their Journey from East to West by Helen Tse. A family memoir of sorts, following the Tse family from rural China to Hong Kong to England. The family started out in the soy sauce business, the author’s grandmother worked as a household servant/cook in Hong Kong, and then 3 generations of the family have owned restaurants in England, so there is a lot of food mixed in with the family lore. If you like Amy Tan, you will probably like this book.

Still Life by Louise Penny. A book blog that I like, Quirky Girls Read, introduced me to Louise Penny, and I’m glad I gave her a try. This is a well-written and engaging story set in small town Quebec. I can see why Penny has won so many Agatha awards (and if smart mysteries that aren’t full of gore are your cup of tea too, then I recommend checking out that awards list!)

Sheer Folly by Carola Dunn. Getting to the end of the Daisy Dalrymple series – there’s only one more after this (so far). In this book, Daisy must solve a mystery at a country estate where she has gone to write an article (this describes about half of the Dalrymple mysteries!). I have really been concentrating this year on reading for enjoyment, and that explains the abundance of mysteries on my Round-ups.

Opting Out?: Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home by Pamela Stone. This was my book club’s pick of the month, and a book I enjoyed more in retrospect than in actual reading. It’s definitely an academic text, the author did qualitative research on women who left high-powered careers in law, business, etc. to be stay at home mothers. While this group of women was famously called the “Opt Out Revolution” by the New York Times, Stone found that many of the women were “pushed out” by family-unfriendly policies. This is a pretty small group of women, and obviously a relatively privileged group of women (most workplaces aren’t family-friendly, but most women aren’t able financially to stay home). This made the women sometimes hard for me to relate to, but I think is helpful in determining what would make a workplace more family friendly – mostly more flexibility (flexible schedules, allowing teleworking, and encouraging more part-time work). As a woman who hopes to have a child and continue working, it was interesting to think about – and great to discuss at book club!

Day of Honey: A Memoir of Food, Love, and War by Annia Ciezadlo. This was my favorite book of April. If you like memoirs, definitely pick this one up. Ciezadlo is an American journalist who marries a Lebanese journalist and then spends the early years of their marriage in Baghdad and Beirut. She really does a great job of both showing what it was like to live in a war-zone and making you see what ordinary life is like in these cities – and she will make you crave Middle Eastern food something awful!

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol. A good YA graphic novel about a girl who acquires her own ghost after falling in a hole in a local park. At first the ghost seems to be a benevolent being, but she gets more sinister as Anya gets to know her.

Monkey and Elephant’s Worst Fight Ever! by Michael Townsend. Children’s book about misunderstandings between best friends. Perfect for the preschool set.

Translucent, Volume 1 by Kazuhiro Okamoto. Manga about a girl with “translucent syndrome”, a (fictional) disease in which the individual gets more and more translucent, until they can’t be seen. Provides a good metaphor about difference and fitting in.

Lila and Ecco’s Do-It-Yourself Comics Club by Willow Dawson. A graphic novel guide to creating your own comics. More a reference book than one you’d want to just sit down and read.

The Odyssey by Gareth Hinds. Hinds has done a number of graphic novel adaptations of classics (King Lear, Beowulf, etc.), but I think this is truly his best – an epic graphic novel to match Homer’s epic poem. Worth reading.

April Round-up

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