Espresso Tales

Espresso Tales (44 Scotland Street, #2)Espresso Tales by Alexander McCall Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another reread for me, audiobook narrated by Robert Ian Mackenzie. Just as delightful as the first time!

Book Description (from Amazon.com)
Back are all our favorite denizens of a Georgian townhouse in Edinburgh. Bertie the immensely talented six year old is now enrolled in kindergarten, and much to his dismay, has been clad in pink overalls for his first day of class. Bruce has lost his job as a surveyor, and between admiring glances in the mirror, is contemplating becoming a wine merchant. Pat is embarking on a new life at Edinburgh University and perhaps on a new relationship, courtesy of Domenica, her witty and worldly-wise neighbor. McCall Smith has much in store for them as the brief spell of glorious summer sunshine gives way to fall a season cursed with more traditionally Scottish weather.

 

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A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

A Constellation of Vital PhenomenaA Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Beautiful prose writing, but ultimately a very depressing book. It is the story of war and what it does to ordinary people, and the things they need to do to stay alive, from sex-trafficking to selling out your neighbors to the enemy. The only bright spot is Havaa, but otherwise the plot jumps around in time, I didn’t particularly come to care about any of the characters, and a few days after finishing it, I’m not sure I remember what happened to any of them. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it either.

Description: In a small rural village in Chechnya, eight-year-old Havaa watches from the woods as Russian soldiers abduct her father in the middle of the night and then set fire to her home. When their lifelong neighbor Akhmed finds Havaa hiding in the forest with a strange blue suitcase, he makes a decision that will forever change their lives. He will seek refuge at the abandoned hospital where the sole remaining doctor, Sonja Rabina, treats the wounded. For Sonja, the arrival of Akhmed and Havaa is an unwelcome surprise. Weary and overburdened, she has no desire to take on additional risk and responsibility. But over the course of five extraordinary days, Sonja’s world will shift on its axis and reveal the intricate pattern of connections that weaves together the pasts of these three unlikely companions and unexpectedly decides their fate.

Read by Colette Whitaker.

44 Scotland Street

44 Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street, #1)44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a reread for me, and one of my challenges for the year is to reread and catch up with this series, as well as focusing on this author in general. I loved revisiting these characters: Pat, Bruce, Matthew, Big Lou, Angus and his dog Cyril, Domenica, Bertie and his overbearing mother…

Pat moves to 44 Scotland Street, moving into an apartment with the very narcissistic Bruce. She is on her “second gap year” from college and takes a job with Matthew, whose very wealthy father has set him up with an art gallery. A painting which might be a Peplow? is inadvertently taken by Bruce and raffled off at the Conservative Party ball. 5-year-old Bertie tries to rebel when his mother forces him to learn Italian and play the saxophone. He is suspended from nursery school, and his mother takes him for psychotherapy with Dr. Fairbairn.

Audiobook narrated by Robert Ian MacKenzie.