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mjtwo

mjtwo

Joined June 2020

Fill your house with stacks of books, in all the crannies and all the nooks - Dr Seuss
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Pollyanna by Eleanor H Porter
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The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
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Klara and the Sun: A novel by Kazuo Ishiguro
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I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
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mjtwo
On the Come Up | Angie Thomas
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24 Apr-4 May 2022 (audiobook)
The story of Bri, an aspiring hip hop artist, growing up in the Garden battling with the legacy of her father, poverty, eviction and gangs.
An interesting book but it suffered a little from being read so soon after Concrete Rose, which I loved. This felt a little less real.

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mjtwo
The Song of Achilles | Madeline Miller
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15-27 Apr 22 (audiobook)
A retelling of the myth of Achilles from the perspective of his lover, Patroclus.
I am obviously partial to Greek mythology and this was an entertaining book to listen to that was well-written. I did appreciate that this text was more faithful to Homer‘s Iliad in portraying the love between Achilles and Patroclus than the film Troy was. But I did continue to picture Brad Pitt as Achilles nevertheless.

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mjtwo
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15-25 Apr 22
I am glad we didn‘t continue with the original plan to visit WDW last year. It sounds as though COVID had a big impact. Hoping by the time we visit in December it will be more as we remember. Although there do seem to have been quite a few changes in the 9 years since we were there. And the big bonus is Trix is now a huge Star Wars and HP fan.

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mjtwo
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21 Jan-16 Apr 22 (audiobook)
As the penultimate book of the series, this was always about setting the pieces for the grand finale. There is a lot I love nevertheless- Slughorn, the increasing sexual tension (although a Weasley twin would have been a better match for Hermione), the horcrux and Dumbledore‘s true affection for Harry. Not sure how Beatrix will cope with the final instalment - so many deaths! She cried and cried at the end of this.

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mjtwo
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6-14 Apr 22 (audiobook)
A literary sci-fi novel.
Harry August is a Kalachakra - a person who is destined to relive their life again and again. Harry joins the Cronus Club, a group of Kalachakras which works to preserve the timeline and the world. But messages are being sent back that the end of the world is coming earlier and earlier and Harry must work to find out why.
A little slow, but interesting study of small changes having a big impact.

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mjtwo
Concrete Rose | Angie Thomas
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3-5 Apr 22 (audiobook)
Prequel to The Hate You Give, this is the coming-of-age story of 17yo Maverick, Starr‘s dad, and the many challenges he faces as he is forced from being a teen into premature adulthood. Gang-banging, the lure of drug money, teenage pregnancy, battling the legacy of his father, the violent death of those he loves and all whilst juggling school.
I really loved this. The narrator was superb and Maverick is a great character.

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mjtwo
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19 Mar-2 Apr 22 (audiobook)
A heart-breaking story following Dasani, a Brooklyn girl, and her family of 7 siblings from the age of 11 to 18. The family struggles with homelessness, poverty and addiction and, most of all, with the services and systems that are intended to support them.
I was surprised by how few reviews for this book there were on Litsy. It is well-written (Elliott is a feature reporter for The New York Times) and eye-opening.

13 likes1 stack add
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mjtwo
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Mehso-so

16 Feb-30 Mar 22 (audiobook)
A problematic sequel. The racist stereotypes are more apparent and the position of the doctor as a white saviour who the indigenous people choose to make king is quite uncomfortable. Beatrix did still enjoy listening but enough of the series for me.

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mjtwo
Girls on Fire | Robin Wasserman
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Panpan

10-18 Mar 22 (audiobook)
Not sure how I feel about this book. It was gripping and possibly well-written but also made me feel as though I needed a shower. As a teen in the early 90s, I liked the references to grunge and Nirvana; as a mother of a teenage girl who was suspended this week for spraying hand sanitizer on the candles in the school chapel, it is terrifying.
I did consider giving it a so-so, but ultimately this did not ring true for me.

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mjtwo
Mayflies | Andrew O'Hagan
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25 Feb-9 Mar 22
The first part of this book was very nostalgic for me - friends in their early 20s make haphazard plans to attend a music festival and we are privy to the drunken chaos that ensues. The second part I am fortunately yet to encounter - the imminent and premature death of one of those friends, from a time when we thought we were immortal. The questions around love, debts of friendship and dying with dignity are examined beautifully.

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mjtwo
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4-9 Mar 2022 (audiobook)
Not sure why this was on my TBR list - we do not watch that much TV. Maybe it was the mention of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Yet despite having seen only a handful of the shows mentioned, I enjoyed listening to Nussbaum. I appreciate criticism and her piece on Cosby and the Me Too movement was particularly interesting. And it is amazing to think how far television as an art form has progressed in the past two decades.

7 likes1 stack add
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mjtwo
Secrets and Lies: The Trials of Christine Keeler | Christine Keeler, Douglas Thompson
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25 Feb-3 Mar 22 (audiobook)
I would recommend listening to the audio version of this text - it all sounded so naughty in the narrator‘s posh English accent.
In truth, her story is tragic although she says at times it was fun. She was so young and taken advantage of by many powerful men. Her account of being held captive and raped by Lucky Gordon was shocking. Yet rather than being viewed as victim, she was hounded by press and public as a tart.

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mjtwo
An Island | Karen Jennings
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9-24 Feb 22
#Booker 10
Samuel is self-exiled on an island tending a lighthouse. Until a body washes ashore - not unusual except this body is still alive. He is wary of the stranger, a refugee. Samuel recalls life in an African country and his role in the failed revolt against a dictator who seized power after independence. A role for which he is jailed.
This is a tense, concise and compelling allegory of post-colonialism and treatment of refugees.

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mjtwo
Honeybee | Craig Silvey
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21-4 Feb 22 (audiobook)
A troubled teen navigating a legacy of being raised in poverty by a young, single mother; a violent and criminal stepfather; and his own gender identity. One night Sam decides to jump off an overpass and meets Vic, who had similar intentions, but decides to rescue Sam.
Sam (and the narrator) annoyed me a great deal. He constantly made stupid and selfish decisions and was extremely inarticulate, but his voice did ring true.

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mjtwo
The Puffin Keeper | Michael Morpurgo
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16-24 Feb 2022
A beautifully illustrated book describing a lighthouse keeper who rescued passengers from a shipwreck, one of whom returns to the island to visit him many years later and helps to repopulate the puffin population.
The story was somewhat staid and predictable, but it was a quick and easy read for Beatrix and me. And the illustrations made it a pick for me.

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mjtwo
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25 Jan-15 Feb 2022
At Beatrix‘s request, I read our edition of the first in the series of the Doctor Dolittle series. Parts of this have not aged well - as you would expect there are some racist overtones when the doctor visits Africa - but I do appreciate the doctor‘s perspective on the importance and free will of animals.

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mjtwo
The Remains of the Day | Kazuo Ishiguro
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14-20 Feb 2022 (audiobook)
I absolutely loved this story told by a slightly unreliable (or just deluded) narrator who served as a butler in a great English house between the wars. As he recounts his years of service he comes to the realisation that the man he had served may not have deserved such loyalty and devotion.
This book raises the question of what makes a good life. For me, the answer is family and friends - not devotion to work.

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mjtwo
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Bailedbailed

13-4 Feb 2022 (audiobook)
I really like Stanley Tucci and I do find his obsession with food very endearing. I enjoyed his anecdotes of growing up as an Italian-American in upstate New York. But I am vegetarian and just found there was too much talk about meat and too many meat recipes for me. Decided my credit was probably best used elsewhere.

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mjtwo
The Virgin Suicides | Jeffrey Eugenides
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9-13 Feb 2022 (audiobook)
The story of the five beautiful and suicidal Lisbon sisters told from the perspective of the neighbourhood boys who try to rescue them. Its darkness should probably not come as a surprise, given the topic. No explanation of the suicides is given: their parents were strict, but not extraordinarily so; perhaps it was genetic; or contagious. There is humour in the adolescent narrators which I enjoyed, yet it was disturbing.

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mjtwo
The Road to Winter | Mark Smith
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4-8 Feb 2022
Dystopian YA fiction in the tradition of Lord of the Flies. A timely and engaging choice for Polly‘s Year 8 English.
Set in a small coastal town in the aftermath of a pandemic that wiped out most of the population, Finn is barely subsisting. He avoids the marauding gang of Wilders, surfs and survives due to the preparations made by his father. But then he helps Rose escape and realises the necessity of companionship and love.

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mjtwo
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2-8 Feb 2022 (audiobook)
Audible BOTM, but also on my TBR list.
In 18th century France a girl makes a pact with the devil to escape a forced marriage: her soul in exchange for immortality. But there is of course a catch - she makes no mark on the world and no-one she meets remembers her. Until Henry…
Well-written, addictive and romantic. Frustratingly, I found myself falling for Luc. But then I also romanticise Rhett Butler and Heathcliff #issues

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mjtwo
The Sweetness of Water | Nathan Harris
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13 Dec 21-3 Feb 22
Booker Longlist #9
Set immediately after the end of the Civil War, this is a story of one family working to help two newly freed men and the repercussions for all of them. It is not a happy story, yet neither is it heavy or dark. It does not preach or generalise but tells a simple narrative.
I enjoyed it, more than many of the Booker nominees this year. And in the end it did feel as though good triumphed over evil in some way.

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mjtwo
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Mehso-so

21 Jan-1 Feb 2022 (audiobook)
Perhaps predictably, I did not find listening to this book to be a lot of fun! Self-help is not really my chosen genre. But I do trust recommendations from EveryDayReading and decided to give it a go.
I found the author/narrator a little grating and her definition of ‘True Fun‘ quite narrow, but I do appreciate the general proposition - I do need to purposely set aside more space in my and my family‘s life for fun.

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mjtwo
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20 Dec 21-28 Jan 22
I have not enjoyed any of the books in this series as much as the first. The characters and storylines have grown exponentially, yet I only really care about Claire and Jamie. And how little of WIMOHB I remembered!
Which is not to say I did not enjoy this (or find myself reading into the night), but I do miss young Jamie and the sexual tension of the earlier books. William might be a substitute, but I really dislike Amaranthus.

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mjtwo
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24-7 Jan 2022 (audiobook)
A simple, engaging story that continues to capture the imagination of young children. Dr Dolittle discovers that he prefers animals to people and thus becomes an animal doctor. By paying attention, he learns to ‘talk‘ to animals and sails off to Africa to treat a disease that is killing the monkey population.
Beatrix loved this so much we are now reading our hard copy version. Not sure my narration will be quite as good.

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mjtwo
The Mysterious Benedict Society | Trenton Lee Stewart
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1 Nov 21-24 Jan 22
Thoroughly entertaining. A review suggested this is a mix of Dahl and Dickens, with more of Dahl‘s whimsy than the Lemony Snicket series. An apt description.
There are brilliant orphans and truly evil villains but also much humour, heroics and triumphs along the way. I am hoping that is where it differs from Lemony Snicket - all might just come right in the end!
A long read for Trix but we have eagerly ordered book 2.

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mjtwo
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Bailedbailed

18-23 Jan 2022 (audiobook)
We listened to approximately 30 minutes. I quite enjoyed but Beatrix could not follow what was happening. We tried listening to the first 10 minutes again today she still did not know what was happening. So we bailed and started Doctor Dolittle, which was a resounding success. Polly read this a few years ago and enjoyed it but it is a bit beyond my well-read 6 year old‘s comprehension.

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mjtwo
Daisy Jones and The Six | Taylor Jenkins Reid
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18-21 Jan 2002 (audiobook)
Lots of hype surrounding this audiobook and I enjoyed it as something light and fluffy. Daisy Jones is a rich, neglected teen who becomes an It-girl on the Sunset Strip in the early 70s and joins The Six. Told via interviews with various band members and entourage, this is the story of the chaos, sex and drugs surrounding a touring rock band.
Perhaps with the exception of Camilla, none of the characters were likeable.

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mjtwo
Lifespan: Why We Ageand Why We Don't Have To | Matthew D. LaPlante, David A. Sinclair
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9-17 Jan 2022 (audiobook)
Audible BOTM - I would probably not have otherwise come across it. Reading science is my husband‘s thing so I have instructed him to read this and formulate a plan. A medical degree and natural cynicism will hopefully help!
Despite the density of science and medical facts, I gained some understanding of Sinclair‘s work and found it both fascinating and inspiring. Who wouldn‘t want to live to a healthy 150?

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mjtwo
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26 Dec 2021-15 Jan 2022 (audiobook)
My most enjoyable reading of Huck and Jim‘s story. Elijah Wood is fabulous - he is much better at the southern accent than me. Beatrix found it difficult to understand in parts but really enjoyed others. I did try to explain Huck‘s attitude towards slavery and freedom and his concerns about helping Jim to freedom, but not sure how much was understood. Difficult concepts for a 6 year old.

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mjtwo
Dune | Frank Herbert
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26 Dec 2021-9 Jan 2022 (audiobook)
Dune has long been one of my husband‘s favourite books and I can see why. The plot is similar to Star Wars - people struggling to live on desert planets, a fatherless boy with special powers living in hiding, and a deceitful emperor.
I am not sure that audiobook was the best format - it can be difficult to keep track of complex worlds and peoples - but I have so many books to read and wanted to watch the movie!

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mjtwo
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5 Dec 20-6 Jan 2021 (audiobook)
This was a fun audiobook for Trix and me. A simple story: a girl is accepted into an elite school and feels as though she does not fit in or deserve to be there but eventually, with the help of a new friend, reluctant roommate and friendly ghost, learns her own value.
What made this great was the music. Magic in this world is created through music, a concept brought to life more easily through audio than on a page.

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mjtwo
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Mehso-so

21-25 Dec 2021 (audiobook)
A family rents a home in remote Long Island for a chance to enjoy the other half‘s life. In the night, an older black couple knock on the door, re-claiming their house having fled the city because something is happening. Unusual activities follow - animal migration, unexplained illness, and disconnection.
An eery, disconcerting novel which reflects on the Other, human bonds formed in catastrophe and our fragility.

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mjtwo
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1 Nov-20 Dec 2021 (audiobook)
Harry really is very grumpy for most of this but I don‘t blame him. Dumbledore was foolish to think Harry could not handle the truth. Particularly when the alternative was to be ignored. The loss of Sirius hit me hard as always; the discussion between Harry and Luna about the veil is always emotional. And the sadistic Umbrage is despicable. Looking forward to watching Imelda Staunton in the film - an amazing cast.

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mjtwo
On Juneteenth | Annette Gordon-Reed
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Mehso-so

18-20 Dec 2021 (audiobook)
This book suffered from immediately following How the Word is Passed. Comparisons are inevitable: both selected as NYT Books top 10 books of 2021 and both use charismatic narrators to tell the history of slavery. This is, however, a much smaller book - in scope and length. It is more a personal exploration of Juneteenth and the experiences of BIPOC in Texas which did not have a particularly profound impact on me.

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mjtwo
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13-18 Dec 2021 (audiobook)
Such a moving, educating and challenging book. It thoroughly deserves its position on so many best of 2021 lists.
Difficult to describe: the author journeys to sites in the US and Senegal significant to the history of slavery and uses his experiences to prompt the reader to question their assumptions and education about slavery.
Beautifully written and read in an almost poetic style, I would confidently recommend.

11 likes1 stack add
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mjtwo
A Passage North: A Novel | Anuk Arudpragasam
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Mehso-so

10 Nov-12 Dec 2021
Booker longlist 8
Set in the aftermath of the long Sri Lankan civil war, the narrative follows a young Tamil man named Krishan as he journeys north to the funeral of his grandmother‘s carer, also a Tamil, who lost her sons to the war.
I know little about the Tamil Tigers or about Sri Lanka to be honest. Whilst this novel may prompt me to read the Wikipedia entry, I did not learn a great deal from it. It was long and plodding.

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mjtwo
The Ruin | Dervla McTiernan
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9-12 Dec 2021 (audiobook)
Audible book of the month: crime fiction set in Ireland.
Well-written and easy to listen to with a few twists along the way.

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mjtwo
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Bailedbailed

8 Dec 2021 (audiobook)
First book I have bailed on in a long time. Not actually a reflection on Joyce‘s stories, which I have read before as an undergrad lit student and enjoyed, but on listening to short stories or perhaps to the works of James Joyce which rely on a close reading and an appreciation of the writing. I did not seem to be able to focus sufficiently to gain that appreciation through audio.

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mjtwo
The Great Gatsby | F. Scott Fitzgerald
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7-8 Dec 2021 (audiobook)
It has been many years since I read The Great Gatsby, and the wonderful biography of Zelda by Nancy Milford, and I was motivated by its inclusion in the Audible Plus category, but I really enjoyed Jake Gyllenhaal‘s reading. Yes there is certainly elitism, sexism and racism but I do believe this holds its place as a great novel depicting a decadent time and class and makes an interesting statement about The American Dream.

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mjtwo
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28 Nov-7 Dec 2021 (audiobook)
Beautifully written but somewhat haunting autobiography by a renowned Danish writer. This is very much a book in three parts: Tove‘s childhood was poor and depressing; her youth relatively uneventful; and then the period of her dependency quite mind-boggling. I am not sure how she, or her three young children, survived those five miserable years of drug-induced stupor.

10 likes1 stack add
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mjtwo
Heidi | Johanna Spyri
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14 Nov-4 Dec 2021 (audiobook)
A classic story that stands the test of time (if you do not overthink the practicalities of a wealthy invalid girl living in the alps with only an old man and a child). Beatrix was very emotional when Heidi was tricked into leaving Grandfather and concerned she may never return. Heidi‘s homesickness and deteriorating health are heartbreaking. Clara‘s journey to the mountains and recuperation pleased her greatly.

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mjtwo
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24–27 Nov 2021 (audiobook)
Towards the end, Billy explains that he never thought he would write a book about himself. He thought he would repeat himself and muddle up the timeline. And he does. His anecdotes are not always in chronological or even logical order. But he is endearing. He made me want to take more risks in my own life - to be more windswept and interesting. Although his story was not always pleasant or funny, he is warm and honest.

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mjtwo
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15-23 Nov 2021 (audiobook)
It has taken a while for my outrage to subside after finishing this book. Ostensibly about the role of pharmaceutical companies in the opioid crisis, it is about greed. Most particularly the greed of the Sackler family. They are almost psychopathic in their failure to consider the impact their actions have on wider society focusing only on increasing their profits and immortalising the Sackler name. Infuriating!

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mjtwo
Crazy Rich Asians | Kevin Kwan
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11-14 Nov 2021 (audiobook)
A fun, easy listen which the film followed very closely right up until the last reveal.
Rachel accompanies Nick to his best friend‘s wedding in Singapore where she discovers he is the crazy rich heir to one of Singapore‘s oldest, most secretive and most unwelcoming families. I concurred with Michael - at times the extreme wealth was obscene and the behaviour of its holders deplorable. But it was still fun.

12 likes1 stack add
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mjtwo
Anne of the Island | L.M. Montgomery
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31 Oct-13 Nov 2021 (audiobook)
Finally, Anne agrees to marry Gilbert and Trix and I can be happy and read the rest of the series when she is a little older. Being a helpless romantic, she was convinced from the moment Gilbert appeared that Anne would marry him, but Roy Gardiner did have her scared for a little while. Davey, as always, provided some comic relief.

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mjtwo
Fahrenheit 451 | Ray Bradbury
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25 Sep-10 Nov 2021
Short but dense read aloud for Polly, 12.
In an alternate future after WWII, we follow Montag, a fireman. Rather than extinguishing fires, firemen are now charged with burning contraband, being books. Millie, his vacuous wife, sits in the parlour, watching ‘the family‘ on their wall-sized screens. Until one day Montag meets a new neighbour and decides there must be more.
Polly enjoyed but found it difficult to follow at times.

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mjtwo
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5-10 Nov 2021 (audiobook)
Grohl expresses so much gratitude in this collection of anecdotes it is quite contagious. He does not have a negative word to say about anyone, except his father (Courtney and Dave‘s first wife are simply not mentioned). And he has many positive words to say about a vast cast of others. His depiction of Kurt Cobain and the transformative impact he had on his life are of course amongst the most interesting and generous.

fredthemoose I loved this! 6mo
rachelk He was definitely putting to use the old motherly advice, “if you don‘t have anything nice to say, don‘t say anything at all”. :) 6mo
12 likes2 comments
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mjtwo
Bewilderment | Richard Powers
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15 Oct-9 Nov 2021
Booker longlist 7
A novel of its time: infectious disease, a mad president refusing to concede the election, and the increasingly irreversible destruction of the environment.
Theo‘s work is to look for signs of life in the universe and parenting his son, Robbie, after the death of his activist wife. After receiving experimental neurofeedback treatment, Robbie seems to improve but the Flowers for Algernon has forbode a tragic end

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mjtwo
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3-5 Nov 2021 (audiobook)
The compilation of the Oxford English Dictionary told via Esme, who from the age of 3 sat in the Scriptorium with her single father, a lexicographer. Although Esme is fictional, many other characters are not. Williams chooses to focus on the role of women in this Herculean task, the words and meanings necessarily left out due to the bias of the male, middle-class editors and the contemporaneous story of women‘s suffrage.

mjtwo An interesting companion to The Surgeon of Crowthorne (which I loved many years ago). I find the dictionary a fascinating endeavour - and marvel that it could ever really be finished. Language is ever changing, which is perhaps why I find the dictionary so fascinating. (edited) 6mo
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