Happy Wednesday, friends! We’re in the middle of a cloudy and rainy week here in central New Hampshire and that means more time for reading! I have a couple of finished books of my own plus a handful of chapter book readalouds to share with you today. I’m already on my second cup of coffee this morning and I can’t wait to share my reading with you!
Books I’ve Finished This Week:
Cursed Bread is on the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist and was really hard to put down. It’s set in a small post-war French village; the baker’s wife, Elodie, is in a distant and loveless marriage. When Violet moves to the village with The Ambassador, her presence is like electricity to Elodie and they form an unlikely and much-gossiped about friendship. And when strange things start happening to animals and the people in surrounding villages, the whispers only increase.
This book was tense and provocative. We know from the beginning pages that something horrible happens in the village, but what is it? Mackintosh slowly pulls back the curtains and gives us a delicious look at true evil in the works. I couldn’t stop reading and had to know what was going to happen. Cursed Bread is another great addition to this year’s longlist!
Nathan Coulter is the first book in Wendell Berry’s Port William series. It’s very short and gives us a glimpse of Nathan as a young boy with his gruff father, Jarrett, and his lovable uncle Burley. I don’t think this novel is a good preview of what’s to come in this series. There were scenes that were disturbingly violent, which I don’t recall from the other Port William books. This one was just missing a bit of connection with the characters and some of Berry’s essence. Of course, it was published in 1960, early in his career, so perhaps he’s still finding his footing with this setting? Or maybe it’s just me because I almost never like books told from the perspective of teenage boys. (William Kent Krueger standalone novels are the lone exceptions I can think of. And I see that he has a non-Cork O’Connor novel being published in September: The River We Remember. That’s going on the list!)
I am hoping to read The Memory of Old Jack later this month if anyone would like to join me. Old Jack featured prominently in A Place on Earth and he was quite a character. I’m looking forward to learning more about him!
Because of Winn-Dixie was our most recent morning readaloud and we all really, really loved it. It sparked so much conversation about how we never know what’s going on in other people’s lives. “I believe, sometimes, that the whole world has an aching heart.” — we (I) came back to this quote again and again. It was such a beautiful little book! And it was easy to read out loud. I struggle with the syntax of some books when I’m reading aloud, but this book supported my own accent and speech patterns perfectly. It was a joy all the way around.
And Spoiler Alert: I was bracing myself for the end of the book. A cardinal rule of the bookish life: the dog is going to die if its name is in the title. Prepare yourself. But this book broke that rule!! Winn-Dixie did not die. Sorry to ruin it for you, but if you’ve decided NOT to read this book because you don’t want to face another dog death, then have no fear. Go for it!
Bronwyn and I finished the third Samantha book, Samantha’s Surprise. It’s Christmas time and Samantha is busy making gifts and homemade decorations. But when her Uncle Gard’s special friend Cornelia spends the holiday with them, Grandmary is so busy trying to make everything just right that the decorations that Samantha worked so hard on are pushed aside, which Samantha blames on Cornelia. But once she arrives, Samantha enjoys Cornelia’s kindness and playful disposition and is so happy that Gard brought her.
This was a sweet little Christmas story that we both enjoyed. It didn’t hold a candle to Addy’s Christmas story, but that’s okay. I don’t think any of the American Girls can top her.
And of course, Bryce and I finished the eleventh Captain Underpants book: The Tyrannical Retaliation of the Turbo Toilet 2000. I have to be honest: I’ve already completely forgotten the plot of this one. But Bryce enjoyed it and that’s all that matters! After finishing it, he chose the third book in the series to reread: The Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies From Outer Space. So here we go!! (If anyone has any suggestions for fun, light-hearted series’ to read before bed, I’m all ears. I might be able to sneak something in once we finish the one we’re working on right now and I could use a change of pace.)
Slow & Steady:
I am still working my way through Tomb of Sand. I’ve read just shy of 600 pages, so there are less than 200 left. I’m getting close – that’s 5 reading sessions if I stay on pace. I was having a hard time staying focused until something shocking happened just before page 500 – so I finally feel invested in this story! Now the mother-daughter duo are in Pakistan and are lost? Perhaps I’ll have it finished by next week’s update? I’ll let you know!
I’ve only had a couple of reading sessions with Craft in the Real World and haven’t made much progress. But nearly every sentence this author writes is fascinating and I’m learning so much. I think the challenge will be to identify all of the different crafts while reading on my own. I wish I could take a class with Salesses as the teacher!
I’m still waiting on Time Shelter from Blackwell’s and then I’ll have quite a stack of Women’s and International Booker Prize longlisters to get through, which is incredibly exciting to me. I love seeing them all lined up on my book cart next to my desk. AND Kate Morton’s new book, Homecoming, was published yesterday and I’m the first person on my library’s waitlist for it. I always fall in love with her books and can’t wait to dive into her next fairy tale.
I hope you’ve been able to spend time with a good book this week. Please tell me what you’re reading in the comments – I love the recommendations. Take good care!
As always, I am impressed with all that you read. Thanks for letting us know the dog does not die in Because of Winn Dixie. Important information. I am rereading The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. What a series! First read these books when I was 12. This is my fourth time reading the series, and each time I get something new out of them.
The Hobbit is such a great book to read in early spring! I usually read it every May but thought I’d skip this year… you’re having me rethink that decision! So glad you’re enjoying the series again ❤️
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I am putting Cursed Bread on my TBR list, thank you! And Winn Dixie!! Winn Dixie was probably our most discussed book at the dinner table. (Second only to the Harry Potter books…) My kids all loved Winn Dixie so much. I am so delighted that you all loved this book as much as we did!
Wow — I love hearing your Winn Dixie stories – thank you! And we definitely loved it; it was such a fun and sweet book. And I hope you love Cursed Bread!
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My library doesn’t yet have Cursed Bread, but I’ve put a notification on it so I can get it if/as soon as it’s available — it sounds so good! It’s been years since I read Because of Winn-Dixie but I remember loving it (as did my daughter). I was just thinking about it last week when my mother actually had to run into a Winn-Dixie to buy a few things!
And Winn Dixie is also set in Florida, so that is just perfect!
I think you’re going to love Cursed Bread. Do you want my copy? I would be happy to send it along!
How about Brandon Sanderson’s Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians series? My son loved these books and they inspired lots of imaginative play and fun discussion. I enjoyed them too. Have you read the Hatchet books by Gary Paulsen?
Hi Ann, thanks so much for the suggestions! The Brandon Sanderson books are totally new to me – I’m going to look into them. You make them sound like so much fun! And yes – we read the first Hatchet book. I haven’t moved on to the rest of the series because my 9 year old wasn’t super into it when we read it. But the other books are definitely worth exploring with him. Thanks again for the ideas!
I read somewhere recently that Cursed Bread had Chocolat vibes and !!! I put it on hold. If it makes the short list, I’ll buy it. and thank you for the heads up about a new William Kent Krueger – he’s an auto-buy for me … I guess I’ve been sidetracked?! oh, and The Lincoln Highway is another teenaged boy story I enjoyed.
Oh, I hadn’t made the Chocolat connection but I can see it: post-war french village. Viann ran a patisserie, which is pretty close to Elodie’s bakery. Yes!! I would say that Cursed Bread is definitely darker than Chocolat though!!
Thanks for reminding about The Lincoln Highway. You’re right – that teenage boy wasn’t too bad, haha!
Impressive week of reading, Katie! Somehow my son and I missed Because of Winn Dixie. We should give it a try, especially now that I Katherine dog doesn’t die!! Right now we’re reading The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart. It’s a slow start but I’m hoping it picks up. We so loved his Mysterious Benedict Society books.
Thank you, Laila! I don’t think it’s too late to swing back to Winn Dixie… it’s such a great story for all ages. I keep trying to read the Mysterious Benedict Society to Bryce but he’s not having it. It’s all Captain Underpants all the time around here!
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What a great post on reading. I always enjoy reading about your reading.
Thanks, Jane! These posts are always fun to put together and helpful to see my month as a whole.