Friday, July 5, 2024

Books Read in May 2024


I read more books than I expected to in May, a total of nine books. Those books included a graphic novel, a book on my classics club list, a science fiction book, and a time travel book.

Graphic novel

The Book Tour (2019) by Andi Watson

This is a graphic novel with a Kafkaesque storyline. A man goes on a book tour with a suitcase of his books. The suitcase is stolen, so he has no books to sell or sign. He goes to book signing after book signing where no one turns up to see him. A confusing story, but I liked it, both the story and the art.


The Lincoln Highway (2021) by Amor Towles

I started this book in April and it took me 10 days to read it. It was the only book on my list that I did not enjoy reading. It is about three young men, all 18 years old, traveling across the United States. The main character, Emmett, has a younger brother, Billy, who is traveling with them. Emmett's plan is to drive from his childhood home in Nebraska to Texas, but the trip eventually leads them in a different direction. All of that sounds good but I did not really grow to like any of the main characters. Yet I found the ending to be satisfying.

The Warden (1859) by Anthony Trollope

I read this for the last Classics Club spin, and I was happy to finally read something by Trollope. This one is the first book in the Chronicles of Barsetshire, and I will be reading more in that series. See my review here.

Science Fiction

The Kaiju Preservation Society (2022) by John Scalzi

This is simply a very fun and funny science fiction novel. The following quote is from the author's notes at the end of the book: “KPS is not, and I say this with absolutely no slight intended, a brooding symphony of a novel. It’s a pop song. It’s meant to be light and catchy, with three minutes of hooks and choruses for you to sing along with, and then you’re done and you go on with your day, hopefully with a smile on your face. I had fun writing this, and I needed to have fun writing this. We all need a pop song from time to time, particularly after a stretch of darkness.”

Time Travel 

A Rip Through Time (2022) by Kelley Armstrong

This novels spans many genres: crime fiction, historical fiction, and time travel. It is part of a trilogy and I will be reading the next two books. See my review here

Crime Fiction

What Was Lost (2007) by Catherine O'Flynn

A young girl, ten years old, lives with her grandmother; her goal is to be a detective, and run her own detective agency. She has few friends, hates school, and entertains herself with investigating cases that she has made up. The remaining portions of the book take place in 2004 and 2005, 20 years later, and focus on Kurt, a security guard in the Green Oaks Mall, and Lisa, an employee at a large record store in the mall. My review here.

Newcomer (2001) by Keigo Higashino

Translated by Giles Murray

This Japanese mystery seems at first to be a straightforward police procedural, but the structure of the story is unusual. The case involves the death of a woman who has recently moved to the Nihonbashi area of Tokyo. Each chapter features a location (usually a shop) at which Kaga interviews various prospective witnesses or suspects, and each chapter reads almost like a self-contained short story. See my review here.

Corpse in a Gilded Cage (1984) by Robert Barnard

When the eleventh Earl of Ellesmere dies, Perce Spender, a working-class Londoner, inherits the title and the estate. He is a simple man with simple tastes and doesn't want to live in the huge family estate; he plans to sell everything, but it isn't that simple. His three children and their hangers-on come to stay at the estate for his 60th birthday party. Perce Spender is just about the only likable character in the book. I always enjoy books by Robert Barnard. This one is very, very funny, even with all the unsympathetic characters.

Salt Lane (2018) by William Shaw

I was very glad I read SALT LANE by William Shaw. I had been put off by DS Alexandra Cupidi in THE BIRDWATCHER, but in this start to a new series starring Cupidi, she is a more appealing character. It isn't that there a complete reversal of her behavior but that we get to see more of her background and her family and why she came to work in a small seaside town in Kent. One of the aspects of this book that I especially love is that Cupidi's teenage daughter Zoë is a serious birdwatcher and there are scenes describing birds and bird enthusiasts. And the setting is wonderful.

Currently reading and what's next?

I am reading A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. It is in the science fiction genre, the second book in the Wayfarers series. I am loving it.

After having two cataract surgeries in June, I am much behind in my blogging, and I am trying to catch up. I hope to review a few of the books I read in June and put up a summary post for that month and then get back on track to some extent by the end of July. 


The photos at the top and bottom of this post were taken in late May at the I Madonnari Italian Street Painting Festival. It was held at Mission Santa Barbara over the Memorial Day weekend, on May 25-27, 2024. Click on the images for best viewing quality.


Margot Kinberg said...

You read some great books, Tracy! I want to read the Higashino myself, as I like his work. And I consider What Was Lost a truly excellent novel. I'm also glad to see that you read some Anthony Trollope; I need to read some of his work, but I just...haven't yet. I will, though.

TracyK said...

Margot, Newcomer by Higashino is very good, but different from anything else by him that I have read. And I agree with you on What Was Lost, and am so glad that you recommended that in your posts.

I enjoyed the Trollope book, but I have accepted that I will never get to read all the authors and books that I want to read.

Kelly said...

I've seen a lot of mixed reviews about The Lincoln Highway. I loved A Gentleman in Moscow so I really want to give this one a chance, but it's not very high on my list.

Quite a few of these are on my TBR (or wishlist) including The Birdwatcher. I'll keep in mind what you said about the DS in it since think Salt Lane might be on my wish list, pending what I think of the first.

TracyK said...

Kelly, I liked both A Gentleman in Moscow and Rules of Civility by Towles, but The Lincoln Highway just did not work for me. Although it did not cover as much of the US as I expected, I did learn a good bit about the parts of the US that it did go through and about the Lincoln Highway. I also liked the depiction of the time it was set in, the 1950s, which I failed to mention in my description in this post.

Both The Birdwatcher and Salt Lane are very good books and I will be willing to try any of William Shaw's other books. It helped that I liked to read fiction that spends time describing birds and their habitat.

CLM said...

It's funny, I had the same reaction to Cupid in The Birdwatcher but I must have had it out of the library at a family vacation because I found out later that both sisters had continued with the series and liked it.

I also had mixed feelings about The Lincoln Highway, although I think I reluctantly started to like it (especially the part about the younger brother's book) and did not love the ending. I think my issue is that I don't much like Mark Twain and I guess it is meant to be an homage, just as his other books were channeling F. Scott Fitzgerald and Tolstoy. Is that all in my mind or did I read it somewhere?

The new book James by Percival which my book group wants to read is also based on Twain. I try to make them wait until the books are in paperback or available at the library but they don't always listen.

Kay said...

Tracy, glad your cataract surgeries seem to have gone well. I'm not at that point as yet, but I think almost everyone gets there. I absolutely love the pictures of the art - chalk, right? I'm going to miss going to the Kerrville Chalk Festival each year. It was so fun to see what people could create on the sidewalk. Not being an artistic person myself at all, I'm always in awe. Haven't read any of the books you did, but I think I have at least two of them on my shelves to read at some point. Have a nice weekend!

TracyK said...

Constance, I read one review after I finished reading The Lincoln Highway, and that blogger loved the book, all the way up to the end. It was one of those books that I am glad I read, but I did not enjoy the reading experience. I did like some of the female characters but they did not get enough pages devoted to them.

I probably will never read James by Percival but I might enjoy a group read in a book club.

TracyK said...

Kay, I think my eyes are doing well but I am having adjustment problems. I can see distance well, and I don't think I will need prescription glasses, but I will have to use reading glasses more than in the past, and I have to figure out which strength(s) work best.

Yes, it is chalk art. I hope to do another post later with more examples of the chalk painting. We haven't gone every year, but we started going to the festival around 35 years ago. And missed the experience a lots during the pandemic.

Sam said...

I really liked Salt Lane...actually, I like the whole series...but I was surprised when Cupidi became the lead character. I really had counted on "someone else" being the main character until that ending made it impossible for that to be. Was happy to see, though, that both characters are still being used.

I've had a copy of The Lincoln Highway since it came out but have still not read it. I think all the lukewarm reviews I've seen of it, combined with its length, have kind of put me off it, at least for now.

I hope you get adjusted to the reading glasses situation. That aspect didn't bother me too much since I had such terrible eyesight my whole life, and especially in the last couple of years preceding the surgery itself. Good luck with that.

TracyK said...

Sam, I look forward to getting caught up on more of the DS Alexandra Cupidi series. The length was definitely a problem with The Lincoln Highway. I don't know what should be cut but it went on way too long, and for me it was a slow read from the beginning. It only picked up towards the end, and a lot of people did not like the end. But you might appreciate the story more than I did.

I am sure I will eventually get accustomed to the changes in my sight, and it is nice not to be dependent on glasses all of the time. Thanks for the good wishes in that area.

Cath said...

That was a good reading month, Tracy. A nice variety. Glad you're enjoying the Becky Chambers series, I've been neglecting science fiction this year so I must get back to it in the second half of the year.

Lark said...

I like the look of The Book Tour. And I thought the Kaiju one was a fun read, too. I'm looking foward to starting Armstrong's Rip in Time series next month. :D

TracyK said...

Cath, It was a good reading month. I finished A Closed and Common Orbit the next day and I am still a big fan of the series. Soon I will be looking for a copy of the next book in that series. I have done a little bit better reading science fiction this year, and hope that continues.

TracyK said...

Lark, I enjoyed The Book Tour and it was a quick read. I am a fan of John Scalzi and have read about 8 other books by him. I still have a few of his early books to read.

I hope you enjoy the Rip in Time series. I am looking forward to the 2nd one.

Kathy's Corner said...

Hi Tracy, I hope you are feeling better after the cataract surgery. A nice selection of books. I am putting What Was Lost on my list. I have yet to read Amor Towles. I would probably start with Rules of Civility based on a rave review by the booktuber Book Olive who read the book years ago and has never forgotten it so I figured I might check it out.

TracyK said...

Kathy, I am feeling much better now. For the first two weeks at least, I was very tired a good part of every and had a hard time concentrating. But that is improving. Still getting used to the differences in my sight.

I enjoyed both Rules of Civility and A Gentleman in Moscow by Towles, and they were very different. I liked the settings in both books. Rules of Civility might be my favorite though.

thecuecard said...

Love the kitty painting up top. Colorful, alluring. Just read your answer to how your eye surgeries went up above. I hope things get better each week. I'm sure it's taken a good deal of time ... but stick with the recovery and rest when needed. Too bad the Towles was a bit of a slog to read ... I've read two of his books but not Moscow or Lincoln Highway. Not sure if I will pick it up .... the Japanese mysteries could be your ticket ...

TracyK said...

Susan, I like that kitty painting too and I am glad I put it at the top because it cheers me up whenever I see it.

It was a shame that I did not like The Lincoln Highway very much. I never disliked it enough to stop reading, and I was very curious about the ending, so I persevered. But I had to push myself to go back to it every time.

Bill Selnes said...

Glad to hear your cataract surgeries went well. I had a single surgery on both eyes for cataracts a year ago and it went well. I wished I had had the surgery 6-9 months earlier. I had not been able to see distance without glasses for over 60 years. I still find it amazing I can now see into the distance without glasses. I got progression glasses as I am used to them and to wearing glasses since I was 9 years old. As to the books I have not read any of them. While uncommon for me I am intrigued by the time travel trilogy.

TracyK said...

Bill, thanks for you comments. I am amazed that you had two cataract surgeries on the same day, but I can certainly see that it would be easier in some ways and get it out of the way. Glen was supposed to have one surgery one day, and the second one on the second day, but his first surgery did not go well (long story), so he ended up waiting over a year to have the second surgery.

I am glad you mentioned progression glasses, is that what you use now? I have a terrible time switching back and forth from no glasses to reading glasses all the time.

The time travel trilogy set in Edinburgh is really good (or at least the 1st one) and it seems more like an historical novels with the little glitch of a woman stuck in the wrong time. It made the different living conditions feel very real.

Bill Selnes said...

I was getting a headache using the reading glasses on and off while I waited for enough time after the surgery to go by that I could get glasses. As well, I was not used to putting glasses in a specific place when I am not wearing them. I had always been wearing them. I would misplace or forget where I set down the reading glasses. What was hardest was having to get the right distance from the reading glasses. It was not automatic for me. The optometrist and opthamologist both said my eyes were best suited to full time glasses after the surgery and they were right. I have the progressive glasses and am very comfortable with them. Good luck to you and your husband finding the best option for each of you.

TracyK said...

Bill, Thanks so much for adding your thoughts on using progressive glasses after cataract surgery. It is good to hear from someone I know that such a solution can work well and I do think that may be a good solution for me. I am very uncomfortable with constantly having to put on and take off the reading glasses, since I also need to use reading glasses while eating or preparing food.