Monday, November 7, 2016

What I'm reading this week (11/7/16)

Last week I finished:

You guys! I need look no further for my favorite book of the year, for my book boyfriend, if you will. A Gentleman in Moscow is it. It's the story of Count Alexander Rostov, a Soviet Union "former person," who is sentenced to house arrest in a Moscow hotel for life. The brilliance of the book is that this is all it's about, but this is hardly at all what it's about. I cannot gush enough about this book and the reading experience. It's one of those books that just can't be long enough (though this is over 450 pages), one that you both want to read quickly because it's so good but also want to read slowly because you want to savor every word and detail. Seldom have I read a book that is so well-written, characters so human, plot so effortless, prose so intelligent, details so well-appointed, it's really unparalleled. It's all those cliché book adjectives: brilliant, charming, stellar, luminous. It's witty and so smart. I could go on and on. Just read it, please. I think you'll love it. My rating: 5 enthusiastic stars.

I really enjoyed listening to Monica Wood's The One-in-a-Million Boy. It was well-written, the characters were good, especially the boy and Ona, and it was engaging. It's the story of a boy scout who passes on after befriending a 104-year-old woman, Ona Vitkus. The boy has a unique way of engaging with the world, and he and Ona become close. After his death, his largely absent musician father, Quinn, takes over the boy's scouting duties with Ona. The boy is obsessed with world records, and he and Ona hatch a plan to get her into the Guinness records book. It's an interesting story, full of humor and generally real-life situations, interactions, and feelings. I did feel that it ended abruptly, and I thought maybe I'd missed a CD, but I hadn't. I'd recommend this one to someone looking for an engaging story with good characters. My rating: 4 stars.


I am one of the thousands of people in love with a little Instagram raccoon named Pumpkin. I check the site every day for a new photo of Pumpkin and her adoptive dog sisters, Toffee and Oreo. The photos are adorable, and the captions are hilarious. It's my daily lift-me-up. Unfortunately, the book, released earlier this month, didn't have the feeling for me. I expected to see familiar photos (I've seen them all, I think) from the Instagram account, but I didn't recognize many at all. Some were of poor quality, and the captions weren't nearly as funny. I really expected a compilation of the online photos and captions, but the book let me down. I hate to say that, though, because I'm such a fan of that little raccoon. Still, the book was cute and made me happy, which, after all, was it's purpose. I'd just reserve my highest rating for Pumpkin's Instagram site. That's where she shines. My rating: 3 stars.

I am a huge fan of Jacqueline Kelly's Calpurnia Tate books, so when I happened upon her chapter book that has the same characters and situations, I bought it immediately. In Skunked!, Calpurnia's little brother Travis takes in a pair of baby skunks. The two kids have to hide the pair from their parents, brothers, and family dog, and nurse the smallest skunk back to health. Capers ensue, culminating in a schoolhouse chase of the stinky little critters. I enjoyed it immensely. I recommend these books for kids--especially girls--interested in science and nature. They're wonderful. Another chapter book, Counting Sheep, comes out in the spring. My rating: 4 stars.

This week I continue with:

Last week I devoured the first 100 pages of Dancing with Joy. It's a good collection of joy poems, which makes you keep reading. Don't worry, the poems are not floofy or clichéd.

So far I'm adoring How to Celebrate Everything. Like her first book, Dinner: A Love Story, it mixes recipes and a heavy dose of family life, so it's very personal and approachable. Enjoying this one a lot.

And next up:

Forty Autumns is the memoir of a family divided by the Berlin wall.

As soon as the library gets me an audio copy of Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey, I'll be set to go. I finished out last week with no morning audiobook, and boy did I miss it. (I listened to Christmas music instead.)

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