Ok, Zumba is not on my nightstand. I’ve just gone to a couple of zumba classes lately and I must admit they are fun, sort of, if you like looking like an idiot/dork in the back doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing. In yesterday’s class, I noticed how many of the songs seemed to have the word “Zumba!” in them, and I’ve had it in my head ever since. Zumba!

On to the books!

What I’ve Read:

It’s been a busy month! Traveling to that conference certainly helped, as I had plenty of time waiting in airports, or lying in an Adirondack chair on sunny afternoons. However, lately, as my mother would have said, my eyes have been bigger than my tummy. In spite of my best efforts, I have still got an enormous stack still to get through! Sigh. I’m scrambling, not getting to everything, and doing my best. Come along with me…

Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West: I already told you to read this one. A very important book. It’s the story of a young man who was born into one of the North Korea’s labour camps, bred to provide cheap labour, raised almost as an animal, and his mind-boggling escape to the west. Shines a light on a really horrible and desperate situation, and leaves you with a great compassion for this man, who is having to learn as an adult the simple things (love, mercy, trust) that most of us are privileged to learn as infants. Go read it.

Forgotten Country: A gorgeous book. Oddly enough, it also deals with Korea both North and South (mostly South). It’s the story of family, of the loss of a father, of the loss of country and identity. It’s beautifully written and not as depressing as I just made it sound. Highly recommended.

Shadow on the Wall (The SandStorm Chronicles, #1): This is a highly unusual book that I enjoyed very much, except for the graphic violence (I just sort of squint and skim) Recai Osman is a spoiled rich playboy living in Elih, Turkey, which is run by a corrupt and violent morality police whose reign of terror is enforced by brutality against women. Recai morphs into The Sandstorm, who comes out of the sand to stop people. He’s really a Muslim Batman, and Elih, in English, is Batman. Like I said, a very unusual book, but I recommend it.

An Impartial Witness: I’m doing the Bess Crawford Read Along at Book Club Girl, and thoroughly enjoying it. I love Bess! She’s plucky and practical and kind and steady and dependable. She’s a WWI-era nurse. This is the second in the series. She’s in France and has to escort some wounded back to England to a convalescent home (picture Downton Abbey Season 2) (I know! Isn’t it fun how that show has helped you picture this time period?) One man in particular is badly burned, and the only thing keeping him clinging to life is his love for his wife. He has her picture pinned to his uniform, so Bess sees it every day. On her way back up to London, she sees the wife bidding good-bye to another man in a train station, a man with whom she’s obviously having a very intense conversation. That evening, her murdered body is fished up out of the Thames.
Bess learns of this from a newspaper that she sees a couple of weeks later, and is soon in on the hunt for the killer. I will mention that I had a suspicion early on of who it might be, but I wasn’t at all sure. I loved this one! I read it while traveling, and it was perfect.

The Reconstructionist: A Novel: Ellis works as a reconstructionist, basically examining the scenes of car accidents to figure out what happened and why. He works with his best friend Boggs, a man who drives a green convertible and listens to audio books at top volume (I love his character). However, his own life is on a collision course of sorts–he has a crush on Bogg’s wife Heather, who was Ellis’ half-brother’s girlfriend when they were in high school. He lost track of her after his brother was killed in a car accident. It’s a good book but it ended up missing greatness for me. It also made me a little paranoid of driving. Did I tell you I’m teaching an Iraqi woman to drive? Sigh. That needs to be its own post.

Elegy for Eddie: A Maisie Dobbs Novel: This is apparently ninth in the series, and although it can be read alone, I did feel I would have enjoyed it more with a little more background. Set in 1933 London. Eddie’s a gentle man, “slow” but good with horses. His violent death has the costermongers–peddlers, basically–in his poor neighbourhood suspicious, and they enlist Maisie Dobbs, private investigator and from the same neighbourhood herself, to help. Very good.

Reading:
Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale: Faith Bass Darling wakes up one morning and decides to sell her entire houseful of priceless antiques for “whatever you can afford, dear,” even if that’s 50 cents for a Tiffany lamp worth $40,000. Various people try to figure out what’s going on and, hopefully, get her to stop. Very Southern.

Between a Rock and a Hot Place: Why Fifty Is the New Fifty: This is a hilarious (but, frankly, also sort of scary) and frank account of why fifty isn’t really like thirty, in spite of what we may tell ourselves.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir): You have probably already heard of this book and possibly even read it. It’s very very funny and really strange too.

Why Jesus? Ravi Zacharias looks at the historical figure of Christ in an age of mass-marketed spirituality.

TO READ:

More Like Her What really goes on behind those perfect white picket fences? This is about wanting to be just like someone you admire and envy, and then finding out their life isn’t so perfect after all.

When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man: Set, as any tale with a man named Captain Flint ought to be, on the sea, this tale is about a young man following in his father’s footsteps to catch king crab on the Bering Sea, but he learns that his father may not have been someone worthy of emulation.

Prague Winter: A Personal Story of Remembrance and War, 1937-1948: This is Madeleine Albright’s account of her early life, and I think it looks fascinating! I’m dying to read it.

The Uninvited Guests
What begins as “an amusing Edwardian country house tale” becomes dramatic and sinister. Seriously I am on SUCH an early-20th-century kick right now. This one looks really really good and it’s getting great reviews too. Can’t wait!

Mean Moms Rule: Why Doing the Hard Stuff Now Creates Good Kids Later: I read author Denise Schipani’s blog, and it’s full of really common sense stuff that, frankly, shouldn’t need a book written about it. Of course you teach kids to eat their broccoli, for Pete’s sake! Life is not about only getting what you want! Manners matter. However, apparently I’m in the minority on this. Looks like a good book.

Secret Heroes: Everyday Americans Who Shaped Our World: I like this kind of history; chatty, everyday stuff about unknown, minor historical figures who nonetheless played key roles in the way things turned out. Examples include a spy who saved George Washington’s life, the first black combat pilot, and America’s first muckracking journalist–a 62 year old woman.

Phew! Wish me luck. I wish I had more time to read. (And frankly, I actually have even more books to get to, but I’m out of time and nearly late to a meeting as it is!)

What are you reading? Anything good? I may not have time right now to add anything to my TBR list, but there’s always next month! Zumba!

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