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Showing posts from May, 2015

book review: Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino

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translated by William Weaver 

The backstory: Invisible Cities is one of the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die. It's also Mr. Nomadreader's favorite book of all time and one of the first two selections for The "Darling, but..." Book Club.

The basics: Invisible Cities is mostly a conversation between Marco Polo and Kublai Khan, in which Polo describes the cities he's seen on his journey to and from Venice and the Mongol Empire.

My thoughts: There's a lot of pressure when you read your favorite person's favorite book. Mr. Nomadreader and I have been discussing this book for years, as it's themes of cities and travel come up so frequently in our lives. Yet when we started watching "Marco Polo" on Netflix this winter, and I kept pausing to ask questions because I didn't know enough about that historical period to be able to follow (my world history pre-1900 is embarrassingly bad), I discovered that the plot of Invisible Cities is actually conver…

book review: The Ghost Network by Catie Disabato

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The backstory: The Ghost Network is my May pick for The "Darling, but..." Book Club. Within the first few pages, I knew I had to make Mr. Nomadreader read it.

The basics: Told in a nonfiction style, complete with frequent footnotes, The Ghost Network begins with the disappearance of Molly Metropolis, a famous pop singer. Through interviews with Metropolis's inner circle and journals, The Ghost Network reads like a mystery, a biography, a history of an anarchist fringe group or mapmaking or the city of Chicago, a work on city planning, and a work of philosophy. It is all of those things, and it is none of those things.

My thoughts: I don't think my description of The Ghost Network can do it justice. It's so original, and it has so many fun discoveries in it, that I'd rather keep my description vague. I knew very little going into this novel. I think the notes in my review spreadsheet called it a feminist debut mystery. And it is, but it is so much more. As I rea…

review rewind and giveaway: Ways of the Dead by Neely Tucker

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Today, in honor of the paperback release of Neely Tucker's first mystery novel, The Ways of the Dead, I'm reposting my review from last fall. It made my Best of 2014 list (#6!) I'm also thrilled to offer a copy of the paperback to one lucky reader in the U.S. The second Sully Carter mystery, Murder, D.C.is out June 30, 2015. Look for my review on June 29th!

The backstory: The Ways of the Dead is the debut mystery by Neely Tucker, a veteran journalist and memoirist.

The basics: Set in the late 1990's, The Ways of the Dead opens with the murder of Sarah Reese, the fifteen-year-old white daughter of a U.S. federal court judge. Veteran newspaper reporter Sully Carter, who like Tucker himself spent years covering foreign wars, notices a pattern of other dead young women on the same block, but the others are poor and not white. While the police actively pursue Sarah's death and mostly ignore the other deaths, Sully uses his contacts and press badge to follow the whole stor…

book review: A Good Killing by Allison Leotta

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The backstory: This spring I've flown through all of Allison Leotta's Anna Curtis series, starting with her debut mystery Law of Attraction, and continuing with the e-short story Ten Rules for a Call Girl, and the novels Discretion, and Speak of the Devil. With this week's publication of A Good Killing, I'm left waiting for Leotta to write more and pondering which mystery series I'll dig into next.

The basics: A Good Killing opens shortly after the events of Speak of the Devil. A frantic phone call from a friend in Anna's Michigan hometown alerting Anna to the death of their town's beloved football couch. Her sister, Jody, is the lead suspect. Anna flees for Holly Grove to help Jody and escape the chaos of her life.

My thoughts: A Good Killing is a departure from the earlier Anna Curtis novels in many ways. I'm so glad Leotta changed things up with this novel, given the state of Anna's life in D.C. Perhaps the timing was convenient, but it works. Anna…

Sunday Salon: Introducing the "Darling, but..." Book Club

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There's no one in the world I love to talk to more than Mr. Nomadreader. And as someone who really likes to talk about books, Mr. Nomadreader and I have battering around the idea of a two-person book club for years. We finally started it last month:

The basic logistics
1. We each pick one book a month, so together we'll read two books each month. We are aiming to pick books we haven't read, although I've already sought (and was awarded) two exceptions for books I happened to be reading and thought he would love (and that would be interesting to discuss.)

2. Each year in our birthday month (August for me and September for Mr. Nomadreader), we're allowed to pick a book we've read before. I am already debating which of my favorite books from the last few years to pick in August!

3. I've invited Mr. Nomadreader to contribute to the blog, and we may play around with joint reviews, interviews about the book, and guest posts about our shared reading. It may vary b…

book review: The Green Road by Anne Enright

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The backstory: I've previously read and enjoyed Anne Enright's fiction (my review of The Forgotten Waltz) and nonfiction (my review of Making Babies.) Update: The Green Road has been longlisted for the 2015 Booker Prize. Update: It has also been longlisted for the 2016 Baileys Prize.

The basics: The Green Road is the story of Rosaleen Madigan and her children. It begins in 1980 with the shock of Dan declaring he's becoming a priest. We spend time with each of the four Madigan children (plus Rosaleen) in different cities (and countries) in a different year before they each come home for a holiday.

My thoughts: In some ways, the first five parts of The Green Road would work as stand-alone short stories. There are some references to the family, but Enright lets us get to know each character individually. Oddly, my least favorite section was Hanna's, which comes first, and Hanna is the character I felt like I knew the least about in the first half of the book. Still, Enright…