Recent Reads

You know when you have a blog and an Instagram account and a Twitter account and also, real life conversations with real humans and you can’t actually keep track of who you’ve told what and on which platform?  This is me in 2019.

I do try to give little book updates on the blog though, so even though I had to look back and make sure I hadn’t already talked about all of these, it’s worth it.  Lo and behold, I found five books I had not written about!  Here we go.

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The Kites by Romain Gary

I read this right after finishing a book I loved dearly with all my heart (it’s the last one on this list!) so it had big shoes to fill and it did such a good job!  There is no shortage of books about World War II but I’d never read one from the French perspective and it felt so new and interesting plus you just get so attached to the characters.  I don’t want to spoil anything but the main character’s uncle is a kite maker and though that sounds trivial, those kites come to symbolize so much in the midst of the war.  Also, if you don’t know what Le Chambon-sur-Lignon is, prepare to have all the feels.  My heart!  I was surprised to discover this book was actually published in 1980 but has just been translated into English.  There was a note from translator Miranda Richmond Mouillot at the end and it blew me away!  I had never given much thought to the intimate art of translation and how much you need to understand about language, meaning, intent and the original author to pull it off.  She does so beautifully.

A Curve in the Road by Julianne MacLean

This book was okay.  I will say the events of the very beginning are totally wild and enthralling and I couldn’t put it down but then you get the twist pretty early on and I had this feeling of “so now what?” through the rest of it.  The main character goes through an EXTREMELY TRAUMATIC event and despite that, the book felt a bit too tidy.  She kept TELLING me she was sad or explaining, with perfect clarity, what she was feeling and why.  Maybe I’m off base, but I don’t know that I’d be thinking all that clearly after what she went through.  Still it was an entirely unpleasant read and elicited some interesting talk of narcolepsy at our book club.

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The Dog of the South by Charles Portis

What a book!  Toward the end, I was CONVINCED that the narrator had lost his mind and none of what he was experiencing was actually happening, but I was wrong which made this book all the more amusing.  It’s narrated by Ray Midge as he travels to British Honduras to track down his runaway wife and, more importantly, his Ford Turino, but he meets all sorts of characters on his way and he is a character himself!  I told Joey he came across as a cranky old man, except he’s only 26.  I didn’t love this one but man, did I appreciate it.

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Radium Girls by Kate Moore

What a letdown!  Reading the description, my hype was a ten, but something like 20 pages in, I realized this was going to be a STRUGGLE to get through.  It was billed as the story of all the young girls who worked in the radium factory during the first world war, painting the dials on watches and ultimately dying of radium poisoning but it was SO bogged down by facts and quotations that the author had obviously pulled from her exhaustive research.  It was definitely interesting, but I did not need 400 pages of basically no real character development just to understand the horrific tale of these women.  The Wikipedia page will suffice.  I seriously only made it through 88 pages.  Womp, womp.

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Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple

I’ve known about this book since it came out, but discounted it because it seemed to be on every “summer beach read” list and that made me think it’d be some silly hollow read.  I was so wrong!  Also, why didn’t anyone tell me the bulk of the story is told by email??  I love a good story told through correspondence.  It gives you such an intimate yet patchy account of the characters that just totally works for me.  I think, if you can get written account of a character’s deepest feelings and see how they speak to others, you don’t really need to know every detail of their actions outside of the correspondence.  It’s one of the few instances where I actually enjoy filling in my own blanks, plus it just feels like the definition of show, don’t tell.  In the end, despite all her flaws, I really loved Bernadette and maybe all the Beatles references too ♥

I’ve saved the best for last!

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The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Wow, wow, wow, I LOVED this book!  Above is the first page of the book and it gives me chills.  I was hooked from there.  I am a stalwart read-before-bed person, but I was so enthralled in this one that I found myself reading on the couch right after work.  Even Joey noticed how into it I was.  It was dark and mysterious, but also a love story and a story about the power of books and reading.  I felt this writing and this story deep in my heart.  At the end, there was a bittersweet passage that hit me so hard, I had to write it down.  I hope you don’t mind me sharing it here.

“Bea says that the art of reading is slowly dying, that it’s an intimate ritual, that a book is a mirror that offers us only what we already carry inside us, that when we read, we do it with all our heart and mind, and great readers are becoming more scarce by the day.”

Whew!  It simultaneously scares me and captures exactly what reading means to me.  Do you think it’s too long for a tattoo, though 😛

I just picked up The House of Broken Angels and I’m not sure about it yet, but please share what you’re reading with me!

Recently Consumed

A list of things consumed by my head, heart, eyes, ears and stomach lately.

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Fish N Beer

It’s back!  This little restaurant that we adore caught fire last October and has been closed since, but they just reopened and we’re so happy to have our spot back!  We stopped in for all night happy hour, shared Buffalo blowfish tails, a shrimp po boy, jambalaya, a wood-grilled artichoke and a mini fish n chips basket and it tasted better than ever after not having it in our lives for months.

Russian Doll

I don’t know how to talk about this show.  There was so much I genuinely loved about it.  Natasha Lyonne for starters.  She is SO GOOD in this!  It sort of blew me away.  It is also funny, creative, thought-provoking and though the premise may not be realistic, the emotions are.  Also, this show just has a real sense of style.  But.  Multi-dimensional, time loop stuff is difficult for me.  It always seems to operate on a “this is confusing, don’t try to fully understand it, just go with it” basis, that I can’t get past.  Why was the fruit moldy?  Why were people disappearing and how did they reappear?  How did Nadia and Alan get into separate dimensions?  I felt like the versions of them that had lived and learned and grown and dealt with stuff were better versions of themselves, but what about the versions of them that HADN’T done any of that?  My sister and Joey both told me I thought about it too hard 😛

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If Beale Street Could Talk

I’ve been wanting to read this book since seeing the movie, and though that may sound like a risky move, it’s actually my preferred order for things that exist in both movie and book versions.  I’m rarely disappointed.  The book is so beautiful and heartbreaking and after reading it, I am fully convinced that Barry Jenkins’ adaptation is PERFECT.  All the emotions I felt watching the movie were the same ones I felt reading the book.  Just wow.

Jenny Lewis’s On the Line

This is a story about how I knew who Jenny Lewis was without realizing it.  Because she opened for Beck last summer and when I heard her sing, I realized I’d heard her sing before and then I learned she was the lead singer of Rilo Kiley and hey, I know that band too!  So, anyway, I saw some mentions of her new album on Twitter and decided to give it a listen.  I love it!  Specifically, “Heads Gonna Roll,” “Do Si Do,” “Little White Dove” and “On The Line.”  I’ve also been walking around all week singing, “I wasted my youth, on a puppy” to my dog, so this is me.

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A River in Darkness

A wrote a rather unfavorable review of this book on Goodreads and then, after going to book group and also seeing a picture of the author, who looked so sad and alone, felt guilty about it.  I’ll just be up front and say this writing is prosaic.  It is also from a non-writer and it’s been translated, so there’s that.  The story is an important one, but it is a tough depressing read.  I had no idea just how bad the conditions were (and maybe still are) in North Korea and I was horrified to hear the details.  For what it’s worth, this made for some impassioned discussion among our book group members.

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Spring Pea Veggie Burgers

I’ve never needed fresh herb-y flavors more than when I was already feeling so over winter and then we got a nasty snow storm.  WHY??  It was at that point that I decided it could continue being winter, but I was going to eat like it was spring.  These veggie burgers have spring in the title, so they were an obvious choice.  Plus, I made them last year and remembered how delicious and flavor-packed they were!  We loved them again and wow, how good is a burst of heat from a sriracha mayo??

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Dept. of Speculation 

I love when a book is short but still able to capture your heart, endear you to the narrator and just feel real.  I felt a little mislead by the synopsis, which said something about a woman writing letters to her husband and only being identified as “the wife.”  There is a section that slips into third person, but for the most part, it’s told from the first person and certainly not as letters.  I liked the way it told small pieces and random moments/thoughts, that together, gave you a good look at someone’s life.  And that all those small details felt honest, believable and even if you haven’t lived these exact moments, the emotions in it were relatable.

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New Garage

Okay, this is a cheat.  I have not consumed a garage, but I’m too excited to not fit this into the post.  Our new garage is all finished and it only took a little over a month to build!  We love the color, we love being able to park both our cars inside, we love all the extra space inside and we love the huge mess it made on the other side of the yard, where they tore down the old garage.  Except not that last part.  Joey loves an outdoor project, but we’re actually entertaining the idea of hiring someone to fix it up because you know what’s better than spending your entire summer trying to make your backyard nice?  Having someone else make it nice in a fraction of the time and then getting to spend the entire summer actually enjoying the backyard.

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Taco Tuesday at Dos Santos

I love so many things about Dos Santos.  Their House Margarita, they’re outdoor patio (especially on one of those first warm nights on spring), their chips and salsa and of course, those tacos.  But, why does the service have to be so bad every time?  It’s slow or disinterested or a combination of the two.  Despite the 20 minutes it took to flag down our waitress for the check, I still love a 75 degree night eating tacos and sipping a marg.  Please let it be summer soon!

In other news, the Rockies can’t win a game, we had another snowstorm yesterday, we’re going to Vegas tomorrow, I can’t put down the book I’m currently reading (The Shadow of the Wind!) and every moment I’m not reading, I’m thinking about Game of Thrones.  What are you reading, watching, eating, enjoying right now?