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Top Ten Tuesday: 2021 Releases I Was Excited to Read But Didn’t Get To

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Earlier, I posted about Books I Didn’t Get to Read in 2021 but Still Want to Read. Today I’m looking at books released in 2021 that I was interested in, but didn’t get to. I may still read them–making these lists I often forget a book I was interested in, so who knows?

One thing I noticed while looking back over the 2021 book releases is that there is very little diversity in book covers today. Now, I do not mean “diversity” in the racial or ethnic sense of people. I mean there are few cover designs out there today.

Another thing I noticed was that in addition to be wearing of female spies in World War II stories, I’m also just not that into psychological thrillers. I must be a heretic. I do not like to be frightened. I do not find it fun. I have enough stress in my own life without adding fictional stress.

Any way, here are my ten choices for this week.

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Check out the rules at That Artsy Reader Girl and join in next week!

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Japanese Literature Challenge #15 Review: Tales From the Cafe by Toshikazu Kawaguchi 2022 Audiobook Challenge Reivew

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Read all the Japanese Literature Challenge rules and reviews HERE.

Read the rules for 2022 Audio Book Challenge HERE or HERE

My Interest

You’re right–this isn’t a normal book for someone who doesn’t claim to like time travel, fantasy or sci-fi, but guess what? Last year I took a chance on Before the Coffee Gets Cold and loved it. Since this is the sequel, and it fits both of the challenges, well, no brainer, right?

The Story

In a certain basement cafe in Tokyo, when a certain patron leaves her table to go to the restroom, it is possible to sit in her chair and go back to a specific point in time. But, among the rules for such a trip are: a) you cannot do anything that will alter the future and, b) you must return before the coffee in that other patron’s cup grows cold. In this installment of the Tales we get a little more insight into how it works to go into the future–an option most people do not seek because of the other rule–the person you go to see in the past or future must visit the care.

This is a book that is very hard to review without spoilers. So, if you are sensitive to such things, consider this a SPOILER WARNING.

Whether it is the man who wants to give his wife a gift because she died at the wrong moment, or the man who wants to ease a friend’s mind about his child or ….Not telling all here–read it.

My Thoughts

It is very helpful to have read Before the Coffee Gets Cold, but I’m pretty sure you could manage this as a stand alone, too. I liked that in this installment we learned more about a few of the people in the cafe. I also loved that the tone was exactly the same in the sequel–it is an oddly comforting tone, especially in the audio versio. The story has sad moments, but nothing horrific or trauma-inducing, which is too rare these days. I liked that the believably is on par with a children’s story beginning “Once upon a time….” I often mention Sarah Addison Allen’s novel The Sugar Queen as an example of fantasy or magical realism that I like. These books are on par with that in terms of magic or fantasy or sci fi or time travel. If there is a third book I will happily read it, too.

Tales From the Cafe by  Toshikazu Kawaguchi

And, thank you to Marina Sofia who pointed out the insensitivity of Western readers who continue to put Japanese names backward. Honestly, I had no idea. Even my former Japanese emigre colleague never pointed out that he had switched his names around. I am not sure if this author’s name is correctly ordered or not. Everything I found showed it the way it is on the cover of the book. Maybe he has to accept that in order to be published and have interviewers in the West call him by the right name? Marina is right, it is pretty awful to do that to people.

4174AJ-RtVL._SY346_     My review of Before The Coffee Gets Cold: A Novel by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

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Review: Bagels, Schmears, and a Nice Piece of Fish by Cathy Barrow

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Thank you to Net Galley for providing a Kindle copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My Interest

We’re a weird family. I’d guess cinnamon rolls or biscuits and gravy (or a trip to iHop) are the most popular Christmas breakfasts in very rural Southwestern Ohio, but we have everything bagels topped with smoked salmon, aka “lox,” cream cheese, capers, and red onion. It’s a mandatory part of Christmas just like the chocolate oranges and tuna fish for the cats. (WHERE do we buy this in very rural land? Kroger–we’re right outside the national HG and, if they are out, Jungle Jim’s at Eastgate carries it, but both run short at the holidays so someone else IS eating it or they don’t order very much–I suspect the latter.) I was looking at Net Galley while stressing with another shortage–the right cure of lox for our breakfast, when I saw this little cookbook and requested it.

The Story–or Contents

Wow! I was impressed. I could eat the pictures! Lox, herring (a childhood favorite of mine was herring in sour cream–yes, I was odd. My cousin got so sick one night from eating too much pickled herring she still can’t get near it and that was in 1971). The various cheese spreads are all delicious-sounding, though being almost in the South here (at least people are in culinary terms) Pimento cheese on a bagel might raise a few local eyebrows no matter how delicious it might be. Smoked whitefish salad? Bring it! Smoked trout spread? Yes, please. On and on with the foodie goodness of this little book. And the sandwiches? Huge piles of goodness between the two halves of the bagel. Forget going to a New York deli–enjoy them at home because this book lets you develop a bagel bakery AND deli in your own home.  But bacon on a bagel…..holy culture clash! Never mind, I know it will be delicious! Also covered are pickling your own lox or veggies and assembling a lovely bagel platters for guests on special occasions

In addition to the food, we also learn the story of the author’s family and of why she came to make her own bagels. It was an enjoyable little read.

My Thoughts

This one is a keeper! I will definitely be trying a few things–the Smoked Whitefish salad first up, I imagine, if I can get the fish.

One minor complaint, which may be related to the pre-publication status of the book was the index and some of the phots, were a mess. That’s a shame, but probably does not carry over into the published volume. And, it does not, however, keep you from enjoying all the great eating this book will inspire. You can read more at the author’s blog,

My Verdict

4 big bagels!

Bagels, Schmears, and a Nice Piece of Fish by Cathy Barrow is available for pre-order now to be delivered on March 15. 2022.

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Nonfiction Reader Challenge 2022

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Blogger Bookdout hosts this year-long answer to Nonfiction November. I like the idea of spreading challenges over a year. Especially in November, there are too many great challenges. This one lets you read ANY nonfiction book OR follow a monthly topic such as social history or popular science. You can use a title for more than one challenge, but if you are doing the topics then a book only counts in ONE topic.

What I REALLY like is the option to have a monthly reminder email to post your review! How cool is that?

Thanks also to Carla of Carla Loves to Read who alerted me to this challenge.

Read all the details HERE

Remember to use #ReadNonFicChal on social media to bring awareness to the challenge, please.

I should have no real problems with this one. I do not expect to do all the categories because I have little interest in reference books beyond as a librarian–they are rarely something I pick up for myself and never review them here, but there could be so esoteric one of interest I suppose. Economics, celebrities (royals except the one married to a red-haired prince are not celebs), language, geography, and popular science are not usually on my reading list, but who knows, right?  I am not at all sure how to cope with the category “Linked to a podcast” since I’ve never caught the podcast habit.

My suggestions for what to read in some of the various categories

(if desired) for nonfiction newbies or others

Categories:

1. Social History

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1939: The Last Season by Anne De Courcy is just $2.99 right now for Kindle. I’ve loved all of her books.

4. Medical Memoir

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Twelve Patients by Eric Manheimer

5. Climate/Weather

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The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan

8. Geography

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Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond (I read the earlier edition)

12. Published in 2022

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The Palace Papers by Tina Brown

This one comes out in April. Her Diana book is the only Di book I recommend.

As always, leave me a comment or a link if you are participating!

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Out of Your Comfort Zone Reading Challenge

To read the RULES and What is Required click HERE.

Thank you to blogger BookChesireCat for hosting this creative challenge!

Reading challenges are not for everyone. They aren’t for me EVERY year. Lately, though, I’ve been enjoying them. Therefore, whether I participate or not, I like helping to get the word out. Especially when you have all year to participate.

I tend to read in my niche. Sometimes getting out of my niche helps. The Out of Your Comfort Zone Challenge is designed to do just this–get out of your reading niche. I’m not going to stand her and say I’ll use this to come to love sci fi, fantasy, or Dickens, but I will try to read a few books this year (I try every year but don’t always succeed) that are distinctly out of my reading comfort zone. Knowing others are trying to do the same thing via this challenge may just help. I am hampered this year by being unemployed [not to beat a dead horse saying that over and over] so buying things is not always possible–I will be at the mercy of what I can get at the library or super-super cheap on Kindle.

Some areas I traditionally try to improve at are:

  • Not-quite-fantasy What I mean by this is a book like Sarah Addison Allen’s Sugar Queen. It isn’t outright fantasy but there is a fantasy element. I’m reading one such right now (review next week).
  • Almost Sc-fi. The only book I’ve found like this is Madeline L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time (which I loved)
  • Male authors–I’m lacking in male voices. Maybe that’s an area I can work on? After all, I certainly like men.

Taking a look at what I haven’t read or have barely read is revealing:

  • Chinese authors–I’m not sure I’ve read ANY. My experience of reading China is through Western eyes–and mostly in the era of Imperialism and Colonialism.
  • History of non-Western nations or of marginalized minority groups in Western nations. I live in a neighborhood whose street names are straight-up cultural appropriation. I do realize that’s totally wrong, but it wasn’t in the late 1960s when the place got started. Maybe I can focus on Native Americans?

Have you read any of these areas much? Can you recommend some good reads? Leave me a comment or link to your own post.

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The Year Long 2022 European Reading Challenge!

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My Interest

Reading challenges have been working well for me the last few years aside from November and December of 2021. Losing a job bites into all aspects of life. Reading challenges went to the wayside in those two months for the most part. I’m happy to have stumbled up this one at “You Might As Well Read”. It would be tough to fail with a goal of one book, wouldn’t it? I am planning to do the Spanish and German literature months again so there’s two books. Plus, one of my 2022 goals (yet to be posted) is to read from a new-to-me-country in translation. There’s three, right off the bat. Win!

You can read all about this Challenge–which sets out to be a European tour through books, at Rose City Reader’s 2022 European Challenge sign up post.

These 50 European sovereign states are:

Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, and Vatican City.

I fully admit to having never heard of San Marino….. I have Miss Iceland so it is one possibility.

Some possibilities:

Some Short Book Suggestions

Links to my reviews:

Often I am Happy

The Red Notebook

Picnic at the Iron Curtain

Every Frenchman Has One

This Too Shall Pass

The 6:41 to Paris

Snow in May

Meet Me at the Museum

Travelers

Wild Horses of the Summer Sun

Are you participating in this Challenge? Leave me a link to your post!

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Top Ten Tuesday: Most Recent Additions to My Book Collection

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Believe it or not, last year (when I was employed) I set the goal of buying more books–not only for the topics on which I collect, but to support fiction authors! I did buy a few more, mostly for Kindle and mostly from Dean Street Press (a total of 7 books). Here are some of my most recent purchases and one gift (which I requested).

Hardback

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My grown-up kids gave me this one–God bless the Amazon Wish List! One child hates to figure out gifts and demands a list. I was picky about the two books I put on that list and she chose this one. Great choice. Review coming soon.

These are some of the hardbacks I bought myself. I failed to buy any hardback fiction. I bought the UK edition of the Churchill book which is now out in the USA and titled The Churchill Sisters. The collection of Ann Fleming’s letters is due to my love of society letters. Ann was the wife of James Bond creator, Ian Fleming.  You can read my reviews of Survivors and Windsor Diaries by clicking on the linked titles.

Paperback

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I know next-to-nothing about Spain, so I bought this book to read during Spanish lit month over the next few years. It is enjoyable prose, but I am limiting myself to reading it at that time only. Roads to Santiago by Cees Nooteboom.

Kindle

I have not yet read The Far Country, and I threw back The Sanatorium, but my reviews of the other two books are linked. Like many Kindle owners, I also purchased several bargains that will likely never be read.

Wintering by Katherine May

Rain: Four Walks in English Weather by Melissa Harrison

 

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Check out the rules at That Artsy Reader Girl and join in next week!

 

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Review: Midwinter Murder by Agatha Christie–my first book finished in 2022

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My Interest

It gets boring to keep saying “I needed an audio,” but that’s the real reason I turned to this one. It had the added bonus of taking care of the annual “short story collection” square on the annual reading bingo card, too.

The Story…or Stories

This is a new collection (2020) of 12 themed stories drawn from the work of Agatha Christie. From them I had 3 favorites:

  • Three Blind Mice, which according to Wikipedia (who can doubt this source lol) is an alternative version of dear Agatha’s forever-running play, Mousetrap. I liked it because the couple who have decided to have paying guests at their newly acquired rambling country home brought to mind the story in Ruth Adam’s wonderful book, A House in the Country.
  • The Coming of Mr. Quin, was such fun because it is set on New Year’s Eve and quite by chance I listened to it on my way to/fro work at the store for a few hours. That (and getting to leave early) made my New Year’s Eve fun.
  • The Plymouth Express, again according to The Agatha Christie Wiki, was enlarged and altered a little to become the novel The Mystery of the Blue Train. I liked the opening–finding a dead body on a train! Imagine! And the twists and turns were so well done. I’m not a big mystery reader so I find my fun with these in other ways. I loved the vivid blue dress, for example and the Robber Baron-ish father.

And one, honorable mention:

  • Christmas Adventure–I just missed listening to this on Christmas Eve, but chose something else instead. The Agatha Christie Wiki tells me it was also titled The Adventures of the Christmas Pudding.  Set on Christmas Eve it features a couple of bored spoiled brats who decide to fake a murder for fun. Kids in drafty, great English country houses at Christmas had too much time on their hands and no hovering helicopter parents to reign them in I guess! The parents are out shooting peasants or playing silly games to notice what their nearly unknown offspring are up to and Nanny is knackered and imbibing the medicine cabinet brandy on the sly. I loved the whole atmosphere of a family house party with some friends, cranky, fed-up servants, and kids who need to go back to boarding school early! No wonder the landed classes believed in so much time out-of-doors–it save their sanity.

My Verdict

I’ve done better with short stories and essays the last few years. This collection was a nice, breezy, thing.

3.0

Midwinter Murder: Fireside Tales from the Queen of Mystery by Agatha Christie

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Reading Plans and Goals for 2022

2022

2021 went pretty well–I kept with most of my goals. You can read more about them here. Reading “in season” was the most successful goal. I really enjoyed following the weather/time of year seasons in my reading. I also said I’d read more books set in my time of life and try a few more from Reese Witherspoon’s Book Club and a few other goals. I also continued doing various Challenges throughout the year that I’ve enjoyed in prior years.

2022

For 2022, I won’t be changing much. I liked reading seasonally and want to continue it.

I have just started my first book for Japanese Literature Challenge #15–I found myself looking forward to winter so I could read Japanese books! Of course, I can read them any time in the year, but it is more fun to join in a challenge. (Some years I do not feel like doing challenges).

Reading more from a few favorite authors of my past. I picked a Leon Uris book I haven’t read–I devoured his books as a young adult. I want to see how he holds up. I do not expect to be disappointed. I will likely pick another author and read one book as well.

I will also read at least one more Daphne Du Maurier book for that reading challenge. Her books are great, but are not my normal ‘thing.’

I am loving all the Dean Street Press/Furrowed Middlebrow books! I plan to read more of these this year for sure. (No, they do not pay me! I’ve never even had a review copy from them).

I also want to read at least one more Persephone book this year.

I want to catch up some of my Netgalley books I said I’d read and review–I’m very behind.

One book in translation from a new-to-me-country. I’m doing my own Read the Globe or Read Around the World, so I’d like to make progress on that again in 2022. I just found the European Reading Challenge (more next week) which should help with this goal since it is all year long.

Still undecided about the Irish and Welsh Literature month challenges. I’ll just see what’s available and not plan anything.

20 Books of Summer is a likely–it’s easy.

Spanish and Portuguese Lit month in the summer is a good one. It gives me a really different book to find and look forward to reading.

More nature reading–especially another of Stephen Rutt’s books. I loved Wintering.

I plan to do the Classic Club Spins, but like so much else late in 2021, I failed to read my “Spin” book. I may just read it for the next spin and ignore the rules (in a very nice way, of course!) I’m having to get creative on “classics,” too. So many of the ones I have left are huge and that just is not working for me these days.

The hardest choice will be in November. There are too many great challenges in November! This year I failed miserably due to losing my job that month. I love Nonfiction November. I enjoy German Literature and Australian Literature–both of whom have their “month” as November. Then there is Novellas in November and various Christmas challenges starting then or running then. There are several others in November as well.

 

How about you? Do you set any guidelines, make any plans, set goals, or similar for your year’s reading? Leave me a comment or a link to your post–I’d love to check out your plans–maybe I’ll tweak mine thanks to yours?