Last week I shared that I wasn’t in a good headspace for reading and disliked everything I tried to read. I’m happy to report that my reading life was a bit more positive this week. I’m back today with four more finished books, including one truly excellent audiobook!
Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi
“Seasons flow in a cycle.
Life too, passes through difficult winters.
But after any winter, spring will follow.”
This has been on my TBR for quite a while and I snapped it up when it was an Audible Daily Deal. It was a charming and quiet book about a cafe in Japan at which, when you sit in a certain seat and follow a certain set of rules, you can be transported back in time. The biggest catch is that no matter what you do when you travel back, it will not change the future.
The stories that followed were moving and thoughtful. I loved seeing how people who were grief-stricken over the loss of loved ones found the strength to go back and visit with them, knowing that nothing they’d do would change the future. And their transformations, the lessons learned from these visits, reminds us that we’re all so human and full of mistakes. And it’s okay.
The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse
“Her body is reacting to something here; something living, breathing, woven into the DNA of the building, as much a part of it as its walls and floors.”
There have been a lot of locked-room mysteries recently and I think this is my favorite so far. Set in the Swiss Alps in a renovated TB Sanatorium, Elin and her boyfriend visits her brother and fiance to celebrate their recent engagement. But they’re quickly trapped there due to an impending snowstorm and the fear of avalanche. Soon, staff members start disappearing and the person responsible must be at the hotel with them. Luckily, Elin is a detective on leave and, while communicating with the local Swiss authorities by phone, takes the lead in the investigation.
I was on the edge of my seat and constantly guessing who the culprit was. I had a few top contenders (one was correct) but had no idea about the motive. I love it when thrillers surprise me and this one had me glued to the page until the very last scene. I’m also wondering if there’s going to be a sequel?
Fortress of the Stone dragon by Tracey West
This is the 17th book in this series and my 7 year old was captivated by it! The evil wizard Astrid is putting together ingredients for a spell to bring back dinosaurs and take over the world. Drake and his friends are up to the task to stop her, but the cliffhanger ending had me reaching for the next book… which our library doesn’t have yet! It was just published in March, so we’re eagerly anticipating their purchase.
This series has been so fun, even for me. I’ve enjoyed getting to know the different Dragon Masters and Wizards throughout the world. Last Friday we started The Hobbit, which is going to take a little while longer to get through, so don’t be surprised if I don’t share any finished read alouds over the next few weeks!
Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
“I think you have to have faith in people before they earn it. Otherwise it’s not faith, right?”
“But loving somebody isn’t perfection and good times and laughing and making love. Love is forgiveness and patience and faith and every once in a while, it’s a gut punch. That’s why it’s a dangerous thing, when you go loving the wrong person. When you love somebody who doesn’t deserve it. You have to be with someone that deserves your faith and you have to be deserving of someone else’s. It’s sacred.”
Hands down: this is the best audiobook I’ve ever listened to. This book is perfect for that format! This story is told in interview-style – lots of people telling you about their memories of their band from the 70s and it quickly flashes back and forth between the characters. In the audiobook, each character has its own narrator and they are perfect. I felt like I was really listening to Daisy Jones & the Six. In fact, I wasn’t sure 1) if some of these actors were actually the band members and not actors at all; and 2) if this band actually existed. I looked it up and learned that this is completely fictional, but Taylor Jenkins Reid really had me going for about 2/3 of the book!
I avoided this book for a long time because for some odd reason, I thought it was about Charles Manson. I have no idea where that came from! But have no fear: Charles Manson doesn’t appear in this book at all. It is full of sex, drugs, and rock & roll, which is totally not my thing, but it worked in this novel. I didn’t think that it was too graphic, but I still didn’t want to listen to it with my kids around.
This is completely off topic, but I have to mark the momentous occasion from last night. I was listening to NPR on my phone to hear the verdict in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the ex-police officer who kneeled on George Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 minutes last summer in Minnesota and, subsequently, killed him. Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts – 2nd degree murder, 3rd degree murder, and 2nd degree manslaughter. When I heard the verdict, I sobbed. I didn’t realize how much tension I was still carrying from last summer’s protests after his murder. I am relieved that there is a small amount of justice for George Floyd and his family and also know that there’s more work to be done. More and more murders of black and brown bodies are bubbling to the collective surface, thanks to improvements in technology (so many people have video cameras in their pockets) and to more people’s willingness to acknowledge systemic racism in this country.
One recent podcast that’s kept me thinking about racism in our country and my own internal biases/privileges was Resmaa Menakem’s interview with Krista Tippett. This originally aired last summer, right in the midst of the protests after the murder of Mr. Floyd, and was re-aired last week. It’s absolutely worth the time to listen to, if you have a spare hour in your car or while cooking dinner this week.
Friends, I hope to be back on Friday with some joyful moments to share with you. Please take care of yourselves this week. Despite last night’s good news, we’re all holding onto so much right now. May we all be gentle with ourselves. Talk soon.