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Monday, May 02, 2022
44. Spy x Family #3 by Tatsuya Endo - The third in the Spy x Family series is much the same as the others, with the child continuing to try to make friends to assist her father's spy work; this time she has an unexpected success. Also in Spy x Family #3, Yor's brother Yuri shows up and he's suspicious about her new husband, Twilight (the spy). Yor is the assassin/wife and her brother works for the enemy so Twilight is equally suspicious of Yuri but decides to keep his enemy close and cooks him a nice meal. Loads of fun. I love this manga series.
45. Nazaré by JJ Amaworo Wilson - The only book I reviewed in April (click through the title or page down to read the full review) and one of my favorites of the year, the story of a boy who lives in a shipping container. After being told he is "the future" of his country, he must run from the mayor whose family has ruled for 4 generations. Because if the boy, Kin, is the future, the mayor's family must be the past. Adventurous and delightful, a mix of magical realism with hilarious characterization. Highly recommended. What a unique story.
46. Falling by T. J. Newman - When a pilot's family is kidnapped and then his plane is hijacked, he's given a choice: either he must crash the plane into a chosen target or his family will die. The pilot says, "I will not crash this plane and you won't kill my family." Will he succeed at figuring out how to save both the plane and the people he loves? A fun thriller that required only a little suspension of disbelief, now and then, written by a former flight attendant.
47. Brat: An '80s Story by Andrew McCarthy - The Eighties heartthrob describes how he became an actor and why, his experiences in acting school, how he got various movie roles, and the mentoring (usually by phone) that helped get him deal with various struggles. Not a gossipy book and limited mostly to his years in the so-called "Brat Pack" (a name he found offensive and pejorative) with a little mention of his current work as a director. Loved it.
48. The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling - This was my least favorite book of the month, but I didn't dislike it. I think I just wasn't in the right mood for it. When a witch accidentally curses her ex-boyfriend (not realizing her own powers) hilarity ensues as the ex arrives back in town after 9 years and the town is basically out to get him, thanks to the curse. Very fluffy and light. I liked the paranormal aspects more than the romance and there was, I thought, some unnecessarily offensive language but a fun book, in general.
49. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel - I reviewed Emily's very first book, Last Night in Montreal, years ago, and loved it but hadn't read anything since her second release. After starting the mini series of Station Eleven and feeling a bit lost, I pulled out the e-book and started reading to see if it clarified things. A pandemic has swept the world, leaving 99% of the population dead. Going back and forth in time between the days before the pandemic, the time in which people are either holed up to save themselves or dying, and up to 20 years post-pandemic, Station Eleven tells the story of the survivors and how life has gone from barbaric early days back to a new sort of civilization in which a Traveling Symphony brings the joy of theater and music back to a small part of the world. Reading the book did help me make sense of the TV show. The mini series is quite different in some ways but both end on a hopeful note.
50. The Enchanted April by Elizabeth Von Arnim - A classic tale of 4 English women who rent a castle in Italy for a month, published in the 1920s. At first unsure of each other and wanting to spend time alone, the beauty and joy of being somewhere different slowly helps each woman to relax, reflect on how they've behaved in their everyday lives, and eventually extend the joy to others. A magical and super relaxing read.
51. The Bookshop of Dust and Dreams by Mindy Thompson - Set in WWII, a magical bookshop becomes mired in a battle of good vs. evil after the bookshop owner becomes ill and leaves his daughter and son in charge. The son has recently lost his best friend in the war and breaks the rules of magic to try to undo his death. But, doing so will unleash an unexpected horror. Can the Dark be stopped from taking over not only the bookshop but possibly the world? An edge-of-your-seat middle grade tale.
52. Macbeth by William Shakespeare - I'd never read this classic tale of murder and revenge but bought a copy when I found out my son and daughter-in-law were playing in a local production. And, I have to admit that this bloody tale is probably now my favorite by Shakespeare. I loved the way Macbeth waffled. Should I murder the king in my own home or is that a bad idea? I mean, he did reward me for doing well in battle. So many great lines and my guess as to the theme is, "Murder doesn't pay." I need to read up a bit on it but my favorite line is, "But screw your courage to the sticking-place."
53. V for Victory by Lissa Evans - Crooked Heart by Evans is one of my all-time favorite WWII books and V for Victory follows up the story of young Noel and his guardian, Vee, formerly a disreputable con woman just trying to get by, now a landlord. Noel has inherited his godmother's home and he and Vee are using it as a boarding house as the end of the war nears. Meanwhile, some of the girls in Mattie's former club, the Amazons, come back into the picture. One of them, Winnie, is a heroic Air-Raid Warden, her twin sister a socialite who has written a book. Vee is pretending to be Noel's aunt but she's in danger of being found out. A rambling sort of book that seems to have little purpose other than to place you in London during a time of hardship, but I loved it. I love absolutely everything Lissa Evans writes.
This was a fantastic month for quality. Quantity-wise, I just don't care at this moment. I'm not racing anyone, including myself — and, I have done both. I loved absolutely everything except The Ex Hex. Favorites were Nazaré, Brat, Station Eleven, The Enchanted April, Macbeth, and V for Victory. Gosh, favorites were almost everything? LOL That's unusual.
As to the Internet break, it's been a challenge. I do find that when I put my phone aside and stay away from the computer (except for art tutorials, which I'm doing every week), I'm getting a lot accomplished and while I miss interacting with people because I don't see many actual human beings in my everyday life, I'm enjoying writing and receiving letters and I don't miss the technical aspect of having to take photographs (Instagram) or write reviews and post (to the blog), nor do I really miss mindlessly scrolling (Facebook) because I've found that in the past year or two I've seen fewer unique posts and it's not unusual to see a post 3 days after it was put up by a friend, even close friends. The algorithm sucks eggs, in other words.
As to Twitter, it was my biggest obsession until the buyout agreement and then I just lost heart. I still have an account but I think the purchase by a billionaire with whom I disagree on principle about most everything was a good thing for me because I don't need to be there, either.
In general, I do feel like the sense of burnout from feeling like I had too many obligations to write about specific books by specific dates is fading, so that's good. Having said that, I don't know what the end result of my 6-month Internet break will be. It's way too early to say whether I'll abandon blogging and/or social media or return to it. I just don't know.
Here's a flatlay April reads photo, for your edification. See you in a month!