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Reading wednesday

    Fabulous Reading Wednesday

    Reading Wednesday

    What I Have Read Over the 18 Months Abroad

    Note – I am sharing this blog again at the request of one of my book club friends.  Also, my reading time since arriving in the USA has been very limited, so I’m not sure when I will have a “new” Reading Wednesday to share.  I’m currently half way through the epic novel “Ahab’s Wife” by Sena Jeter Naslund, a brilliant but very long book.  So watch for a new Reading Wednesday as soon as I get through that masterpiece. Meanwhile, enjoy this blog once again.

    I’ve had a great deal of time to read over the past year and a half.  I enjoy reading very much and the Grand Adventure has offered me a wonderful opportunity to read more than ever before.  I started a list of the books I read and after nearly a year set my sights on finishing 100 books before we returned to the United States.

    I almost made it.  I read 93 books in 18 months.  Almost all (not all but almost) of these books I reviewed in the Reading Wednesday series on this blog.  I didn’t start Reading Wednesday until after we had been traveling for a few months, and since then it has become one of the most popular features on My Fab Fifties Life blog.  That makes me happy.

    I doubt I will be reading as much during my two and half months in the USA because I will be busy with family matters.  But I still have some books I haven’t reviewed so hopefully I can continue to review one book per week and you can continue to enjoy the weekly reviews.  Meanwhile, if you are interested, I have listed below all 93 books and the ones that have been reviewed are highlighted in green if you would like to go to that review on the blog just click on the link.  I’ve also put a gold star by some of my all time favorites!!

    Happy Reading everyone!  Reading is Fabulous!

    1. Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner

    2. Bangkok Secret by Anthony Gray

    3. Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben

    4. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

    5. Today will be Different by Maria Simple

    6. The Mothers by Brit Bennett

    7. The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

    8. I’ll Take You There by Wally Lamb

    9. ⭐These is My Words by Nancy Turner

    10.⭐ 97 Orchard Street by Jane Ziegelman

    11. Lady Susan by Jane Austin

    12. The Secret History by Donna Tartt

    13. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

    14. The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

    15. Tulip Fever by Deborah Muggach

    16. ⭐Michlings by Affinity Konar

    17. Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance

    18. Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

    19. War of the Worlds by HG Wells

    20. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

    21. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

    22. In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson

    23. The Girls by Emma Cline

    24. Broken Verses by Kamila Shamsie

    25. Swingtime by Zadie Smith

    26. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

    27. ⭐Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

    28. Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

    29. The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

    30. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

    31. Thank you for Being Late by Thomas Friedman

    32. Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

    33. ⭐Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

    34. A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson

    35. The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

    36. Dirty Chicks by Antonia Murphy

    37. Good Omens by Neil Gaiman

    38.⭐ Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

    39. News of the World by Paulette Giles

    40. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

    41. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

    42. A 1000 Acres by Jane Smiley

    43. H is for Hawk by Helen McDonald

    44. A Twist of the Knife by Becky Masterson

    45. The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

    46. The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy

    47. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

    48. The Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Allameddine

    49. The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

    50. The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

    51. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

    52.⭐ The Paris Wife by Paula McLean

    53. The Sun Also Rises Ernest Hemingway

    54. Al Franken Giant of the Senate by Al Franken

    55. The Lady in the Van by Alan Bennett

    56. Human Acts by Han Kang

    57. The Zookeepers Wife by Angela Workman

    58. After the Fall by Charity Normal

    59. A Moveable Feast Ernest Hemingway

    60. Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles

    61. ⭐The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

    62. ⭐The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick

    63. The Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly

    64. Circling the Sun by Paula McLean

    65. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

    66. A Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell

    67. The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

    68. The Rent Collector by Camron Wright

    69.⭐ The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Annie Barrows

    70. Star Dust by Neil Gaiman

    71. The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty

    72. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards

    73. Counting by Sevens by Holly Goldberg Sloan

    74. ⭐My Antonia by Willa Cather

    75.⭐ Elinor Oiliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

    76. The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

    77. A Visit From The Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

    78. Sing Unburried Sing by Jesmyn Ward

    79. Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

    80. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

    81. ⭐Station Eleven by Emily Saint John Mandel

    82. Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

    83. The Girl Before by JP Delaney

    84. The Maze Runner by

    85. Still Water by Viveca Sten

    86. The Light of the Firefly by Paul Pen

    87. A River in the Darkness

    88. The Question of Red

    89. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

    90. The Rapture of Canaan by Sherri Reynolds

    91. Diabetes with Owls by David Sedaris

    92. Neverhome by Laird Hunter

    93. Delicious Food  by James Hannaham

    Fabulous Reading Wednesday

    Book Review – A Wrinkle in Time

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Book review A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

    I’m not keeping up with my “book a week” reading schedule.  Since arriving in the USA there has been a lot less reading.  No Scrabble games. And fewer relaxing moments.

    But it’s just as we expected it to be, and I am reading when I can.  This week I finished Madeleine L’Engle’s classic children’s novel A Wrinkle in Time.

    On Father’s Day both my boys saw me reading this book.  I told them I had never read it before and they were both surprised.  They remember the book from their childhood, but I’m sure we did not have it in our collection so they must have read it in school.

    This classic novel written in 1962 wear’s its age well.  The recently released Disney film A Wrinkle in Time brings the tale more into modern-day.  I’d be curious to see how they changed the story to make that work…iphone’s perhaps?

    A Wrinkle in Time is the fantastical story that combines childhood fantasy with science fiction.  It’s a tale like many other beloved children’s works that includes an evil and magical side that is overcome, in the end, with the greatest force in the world – love.

    A precursor to Harry Potter (and not nearly as involved) the story of Meg and her incredible family also reminded me of many other of my favorite childhood books such as the Narnia series, The Giver and even Bedknobs and Broomsticks.  Each of these have the similar theme; overcoming the darkness in our lives and pursuing honor and love.

    A beautiful, easy to read classic for any age.  Four stars for A Wrinkle in Time. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Check out last week’s review of Jodi Picoult’s Vanishing Acts.

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    Fabulous Reading Wednesday

    Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult

    I snatched this book from the cruise ship recently, where you could take a book and leave a book.  I left several, and took this one and a couple of others.

    I’ve read Jodi Picoult before, and liked but didn’t love her books.  This one was similar for my reaction, but I did enjoy the story that addresses not only family, but alcohol addiction and memory loss.

    What would you do if thought your child was in danger? In danger by someone they loved?  What if that someone was your estranged spouse?  Would you take the child and run?  I don’t think we ever know what we would do until we find ourselves in a situation like that.  And this is the basis of the story of Vanishing Acts.

    Delia Hopkins loves her father. She has a beautiful daughter and is engaged to be married to her best friend. She has a career as a highly successful dog search and rescue leader.  Life is good.  Until the bottom of her world falls away.

    Out of the blue Delia’s mild-mannered father is arrested. Delia’s father has been leading a life of lie, ever since he took Delia and left Arizona when she was only four.  Delia remembers nothing of this and as the story unfolds she learns so much about herself that she never knew.  And along the way she also learns who the important people in her life are – and what ends those who love us will go, to keep us protected.

    As the story of Delia life unfolds, Picoult takes the reader from rural New Hampshire to Arizona as Delia fights to learn the truth about her own life, her father’s life and to rationalize and come to terms with a new reality of who she really is.

    ⭐⭐⭐Three stars for Vanishing Acts.

    Read last week’s review of Never Home

    This blog contains affiliate links.  If you purchase a book I will receive compensation.  Any money earned goes back into the maintenance of this blog.  Thank you.


    Fabulous Reading Wednesday

    Book Review – Never Home by Laird Hunt

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Book Review

    Book Review Never Home by Laird Hunt

    There are many historical stories of Civil War soldiers who were women masquerading as men.  It’s a known fact that many women fought in the war of the States, and many also died.

    Never Home is such a tale.  A thoughtfully written account of Constance Thompson who took the name of Ash, left her husband to tend the farm and marched off to fight as a Union soldier.

    Hunt’s ability to write in the voice of Ash with accuracy and feeling is the best part of this book.  Incredibly brave and tough, Ash becomes somewhat of a symbol to other soldiers as gallant man and there is even a song written about Gallant Ash.  Ash hides her true identity as best she can, even though many around her suspect. But since she is a stellar soldier, a remarkable sharp shooter, smart and quick she survives where many others do not.  The story will take you along with Ash as she wanders through the years as a soldier; in escapade and battle, prison and torture, starvation and sickness and on the long and eventful journey back to her beloved husband.

    If you loved Cold Mountain as much as I did (one of my all-time favorite books), you’ll notice some similarities in the storytelling of the difficult situations and grueling life of this Civil War soldier as she navigates this particularly bloody and violent war.

    Four Stars for Never Home⭐⭐⭐⭐

    Read last week’s review of The Light of the Fireflies

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    Fabulous Reading Wednesday

    Book Review – The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Book review

    Book Review The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen

    Spanish author Pen has conjured a remarkably sad, but simply engaging story of a small boy with hope.  

    I almost put this back down after the first two chapters.  I didn’t know what was going on at first and thought I wasn’t going to like this novel.  But I held on and I am glad I did.  

    Imagine being born in a basement and never ever knowing anything beyond the walls of that basement.  Similar to “Room” this story is of a family that lives hidden in a basement.  But unlike “Room” they do it by choice – or more accurately because of choices they made before they begin living underground.

    I love how the author never gives the characters in this book names.  They are only “the boy”, “Dad”, “Mom”, “my grandmother”.  By not personalizing these characters further, it’s easy to feel aloof to many of these characters when the author needs you to, and yet feel very engaged and empathetic to “the boy” throughout.  

    A set of circumstances that begin with a neglectful sister, a brain injury, an accidental murder, a coverup and then a fire bring this family to a decision to go into hiding in a basement completely closed off to the world and feigning their own deaths.

    As the years go by two births happen in the basement, including the birth of “the boy”.  His life unfolds knowing only a tiny slit of sunshine that comes in through a crack in the ceiling.  He follows the light throughout each day and creates an imaginary world of his own in the basement.  But as the years go by his curiosity grows and when he finally decides to make an escape, he learns that not all he thought he knew was true and although he is free to leave, he will forever be connected to the family in the basement.

    Another book currently in the works to be a motion picture.

    ⭐⭐⭐⭐Four Stars for the Light of the Fireflies.


    Fabulous Reading Wednesday

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Still Water by Viveca Sten

    Location: Book Review

    Book Review Still Water buy Viveca Sten

    About a month ago Kindle offered a special incentive in honor of International Day.  Kindle made available a half dozen books by international authors for free.  I downloaded most of them to my Kindle App on my phone, which is where I read most of my books.  

    I was not familiar with Swedish author Viveca Sten.  I’ve since learned of her popular Sandhaam Island Murder Mysteries, of which Still Water was the first.  I liked this book, did not love it, but am curious to possibly read one of her later novels to see if her writing improved over the years.  She is a good writer, but this book had some lengthy descriptive paragraphs and a few incidents (including one at the very end of the book involving a boat full of drunk teenagers) that to me, in no way enhanced the story or even fit the tale.  A good editor should have cut some of this out to tighten the book up.

    Granted, this book was originally written in Swedish and perhaps something was lost in the translation.

    I sound more critical than I mean to, because I actually enjoyed the story and I was intrigued to find out “whodunnit” in the murder mystery story.  Near the end I knew who it would be, but it still held my attention and I enjoyed the read.

    The story is based in the Swedish Archipelago on Sandhaam Island a place I have always wanted to visit.  Somewhat  like the Martha’s Vineyard of Sweden, old families have handed down homes here for generations, including the family of Nora one or the lead characters in the book.  Thomas, a police officer and her childhood best friend becomes involved in a murder investigation when a man’s body washes up on the beach one summer day.  All the residents on Sandhaam including Nora become involved in trying to solve the mystery. Thus unfolds a tale of family secrets, murder and mystery,  rocky marriages, love and loss and then several more murders, suicides and deaths. Phew! A lot happens. Eventually the story pulls the pieces together and mystery is solved. 

    I did not love the way the book ended, as it left some things hanging, although I expect that is because Sten continues the Sandhaam series and ties loose ends together in the next book.

    A quick and easy read, not the best I’ve ever read but I still give Still Waters three stars.


    Fabulous Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Girl Before

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Book Review

    Book Review The Girl Before by JP Delaney

    First I have to preface this review with a question.  Why do so many books lately have the word GIRL in the title?  My husband has mentioned this to me several times.  Gone Girl.  Girl on the Train.  Lilac Girls.  The Girl Before.

    For me the real question is why use the word girl when you are really talking about women?  Is it crazy?  Maybe but it bothers me.

    So as long as I’m talking about things that bother me, let me tell you about the book The Girl Before, by JP Delaney.  I had read a review that likened this book to Gone Girl.  No way.  It takes an incredibly talented writer to pull off a book like Gone Girl – leading the reader down a path unsuspectingly and then WHAM!  That brilliant writing is what made Gone Girl such a runaway best seller.

    Not so much with The Girl Before, although Delaney makes an effort to create a plot with twists and turns and surprises.  I can compare this book more accurately to The Girl on the Train.  I wasn’t a big fan of The Girl on the Train (I think I was the only one) as it felt too predictable to me.  This is exactly how I felt reading The Girl Before.

    The plot follows two separate women who during separate times, live in the same house – a house unlike any other, built by an eccentric architect and created to be austere and state of the art.  Both women become romantically entangled with the  architect and both find the house closing in on them.

    One women will die.

    The cause of death, in the house, of the first women is never solved and the second women becomes obsessed with learning the truth.  Along the way a tale of a sociopath, pathological liars, obsessive compulsive behavior, sexual addiction, stalking and murder unfold.

    Sometimes this book also made me think of Fifty Shades of Grey, although not as sexually graphic.  I didn’t care for that book either.

    So I guess I really struggled with this story – a book trying to be a lot of things – trying to mimic other successful books – but never very successfully and never finding its own place.

    Two Stars for The Girl Before by JP Delaney