Archive for the 'Story Collection' Category

Appears to be August Already

Hello Dearies,

I haven’t done a what-up post in awhile and thought, why not? I certainly would rather do this then actually do the vacuuming (like I just texted to my husband when he asked me what’s on today’s agenda?)

I am reading:   The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson. I am really enjoying it. If ‘enjoying’ is the right word since it does describe the assumed horrific situations of being a citizen of North Korea. It does so with the kind of humor that really appeals to me. Satire, anyone?

and I’m listening to METAtropolis compiled by John Scalzi. I’ve only listened to the first story but I was impressed with the world building even if the ending felt abrupt and deflated. This was a freebie from Audible to thank me for being a good customer. I know some people find audible to be expensive but I think I’m getting my money’s worth. I usually use my credit on the LOOOoonnnnnggest books (many hours long) so when/if I do buy something, I don’t mind the cost.

I have Infinite Jest both audio and ebook versions ready to go.

I’m thinking that I should read a Nonfiction book soon.

On Tuesday, I will have a review post of questions I asked fellow readalongers of Songs for the Missing by Stewart O’Nan. I can’t wait to read Last Night at the Lobster next.  Oh, that reminds me…  I read Songs for the Missing for the What’s in a Name Challenge 6 and I need to update the post to say so.

Eventually, I will review Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple. I laughed out loud a lot.

I made ricotta cookies instead of pie this week.

IMG_1991

I am spending most of my days on the boat, recovering from the boat and then packing to go back to the boat.

And prepping for school. I will take two classes this fall:  Foundations of Instructional Technology and Information Access and the Internet. Whoop!  I think I’m finally registered. (With that, can you hear the frustrations of trying to get this back-to-school thing figured out!?!)

That’s about it.

Hope all is well with you!  What are YOU reading?  

HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

Copyright © 2007-2013. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Life Among the Savages

Thoughts  Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson, Academy Chicago 1990 (orig 1948), 241 pages Tradeback offsize

Memoir, Nonfiction

Delightfully charming! You get a sense of how terrific a mom Shirley was by how she truly listens to her kids and encourages their imagination.

It’s been said that these essays of domestic hilarity are what inspired the genre most think of when you say the name Erma Bombeck, but it wouldn’t be something Ms. Jackson would have been too thrilled with, I don’t think. I bet she often thought this audience of her ‘stories’ beneath her contempt. But they sold and sold well. What’s an author to do?

It almost breaks your heart to read this and then right after, read her biography. No wait. It DID break my heart to read the bio right after enjoying these madcap loving little tales.

If you want to immerse yourself into fascinating and extremely talented writings of a complicated artist, study Shirley Jackson. First read her infamous short story The Lottery and then read this or Raising Demons (I haven’t read), then read We’ve Always Lived in the Castle (a favorite of mine; I want to read it again, especially after reading her biography), and then read Oppenheimer’s bio. And then, if you are like me, you’ll seek out everything Jackson ever wrote.

I am in the middle – and I jump around, as always – of her collection Just An Ordinary Day. Then I want to read The Road Through the Wall and then The Bird’s Nest and then…

Which Shirley Jackson book will YOU read next?

BOOK MENAGE scheduled for the week of December 3rd over at Citizen Reader.

.

HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

Copyright © 2007-2012. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

This Is How You Lose Her

Thoughts  This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz, Penguin Audi0 2012, 5 hrs14 min, narrated by the author

From goodreads.com:

On a beach in the Dominican Republic, a doomed relationship flounders. In the heat of a hospital laundry room in New Jersey, a woman does her lover’s washing and thinks about his wife. In Boston, a man buys his love child, his only son, a first baseball bat and glove. At the heart of these stories is the irrepressible, irresistible Yunior, a young hardhead whose longing for love is equaled only by his recklessness–and by the extraordinary women he loves and loses: artistic Alma; the aging Miss Lora; Magdalena, who thinks all Dominican men are cheaters; and the love of his life, whose heartbreak ultimately becomes his own. In prose that is endlessly energetic, inventive, tender, and funny, the stories in This Is How You Lose Her lay bare the infinite longing and inevitable weakness of the human heart. They remind us that passion always triumphs over experience, and that “the half-life of love is forever.”

I really enjoyed this. Díaz is an impressive talent.

Thank you, Lakeside Musing for offering me the opportunity to listen to this collection. I intend to continue the sharing spirit by passing it along to Laurie at Bay State Advisory.

RATING: 

HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

Copyright © 2007-2012. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Take the Cannoli

Thoughts  Take the Cannoli by Sarah Vowell, Simon & Schuster 2000, 219 pages, tradeback, sent to me from the awesome Fizzy SoftDrink

Since nobody is reading this blog anyway, (only based on the fact that I had to cajole Nancy to comment on my last book review post on an old thriller that seems that everybody else has avoided; maybe it is ____ invisible?____) I am just going to ramble about stuff. Yes, I’ve had more coffee this morning than I should have.

The other night, we watched ONE FOR THE MONEY movie with Katherine Heigl playing Stephanie Plum and it was a fun caper, I suppose. She did a good job but I would probably only rate it a 3 star not that it could ever hope to be a 5 star even if perfect because…. because it is just — crap, I’m falling into the same trap as rating books!  It wasn’t LITERARY?!  Anyway,

Have you read any of Janet Evanovich’s Plum books?  I think I made it to nine, maybe 10 before I got bored. This was pre-blogging days. There’s a line in the movie when Plum says to Ranger that Morelli ‘stole her cannoli’ and the waitress says, ‘Honey, he stole a LOT of cannolis’ and that’s what reminded me I really needed to write this review.

I would say, right off the bat (or maybe the END IS NEAR story which I believe is third in the line up), that it is obvious the book was written over 10 years ago and NOT because it is caught in that time warp problem or no longer culturally relevant but because it has a pre-Sept 11 feel to it. I don’t mean to turn this silly review down a serious path, but this really struck me.

Perhaps because Sarah IS snarky?

Whatever, I do love how she thinks and her nonchalance in expressing her thoughts. I was particularly impressed at her experimenting with goth fashion and I was laughing through the insomnia chapter – Softdrink also noted the punctuation discussion. I really enjoyed the bit on the Chelsea Hotel because when I read Just Kids by Patti Smith, I was so intrigued, I wiki-researched and tried to find photos of the Chelsea! I find it terribly sad that the place now has new owners and sincerely hope they don’t mess it up. The title story is a good reminder that I need to reread or review The Godfather. I think it was one of the those books I read in High School to prove I was ‘grown up’. I probably read the book before I was allowed to see the movie. But I could be wrong. I wasn’t allowed to see Jaws; I want to read that one, too.

But I was most moved by the Trail of Tears travelogue. What a dark chapter in our country’s history. (not Sarah’s retracing but the original march by the Cheyenne.)

I’ve read Wordy Shipmates; I am looking forward to reading Assassination Vacation next.

What Sarah Vowell book is your favorite?

Monday Mailbox 1.30.12

Alyce of At Home With Books is our host this month of the official Mailbox Monday.

   I received the following books in my mailbox:

Lottery by Patricia Wood, a book that Nancy the BookFool gave high marks and an insistent recommendation. I got this at the same time I ordered the Creative Labs mp3 Player that I have already sent back. I am keeping the book. I also ordered

Hearts and Minds by Rosy Thornton because it has been on my want list for years. It hasn’t arrived yet.

The book I should have ordered, meant to order and forgot was this one:

Muscular Retraining for Pain-Free Living by Craig Williamson because my lower back has been out-of-whack and I want to do more strength training.  My PT guy has actually told me that yoga is NOT a good idea right now until my core gets stronger. A massage therapist recommended the book. I have yet to ask PT guy about it.  (PT Guy is very no-nonsense and I’m not sure he has a sense of humor. I have not done much small-talk with him.) Of course, this kind of book isn’t really a read-and-check-off-list but more reference, like a cookbook, wouldn’t you agree?

French Leave by Anna Gavalda, translated from French by Alison Anderson, published by Europa Editions!  Y’all know that I don’t like to read the book blurbs but I did glimpse that it is about family dynamics and is ‘light-hearted, tender and funny’.  I’m looking forward to this.

Take the Cannoli:  Stories from the New World by Sarah Vowell.  Thanks much to Softdrink for sending this AND the one above. I’ve already read the first story but will put it aside until I get to a few of my must reads and this slogger:

HIdeinWhitetoSkipLineI’m on page 454 which is 8 pages away from the mid-point. THE MID-POINT! (read with tone of frustration if you care to.) Tengo has been thinking: “Though not yet entirely confident, he had a kind of presentiment that he might be able to live a somewhat more coherent life than he had so far.”  (I’m a bit baffled; he seemed pretty satisfied with his ‘life so far’.) I tell ya, I don’t know if I’m going to make it. My curiosity is waning knowing how many pages it is going to take to get to a conclusion. I also don’t think Book Two is as well translated (and that has been questioned by others!) than Book One. Bad Omen:  I have read the last page! Uh oh. I did this after about the 20th time of checking how many darn pages are in this thing. I should have purchased the eBook version. And the Twitter chatter from my readalongers has been nonexistent. Where are you, my readalongers?! I have too many books impatiently awaiting my attention. I don’t think Ti would want me to quit but I’m getting bored…

Because look what my friend Holly loaned me.

 Angels and Insects by A.S.Byatt.  Not quite into my mailbox but rather into my hands, but she insists I read so we can discuss. AND it qualifies very nicely for the creepy-crawly category of What’s in a Name 5.  (I know I suggested a readalong of Victor Pelevin’s A Life of Insects (it’s on the 1001 Books list) but I think I might have to postpone (if ever). Sorry to disappoint…)

I have Byatt on my must-get-to author list for 2012 and although I know I said I would try Possession next, methinks this is the better choice right now.

What books did YOU get in your mailbox lately?
Have a Terrific Week!  Happy End of January!!

oh wait. I forgot one…   ZERO: The Biography of a Dangerous Idea by Charles Seife, a book I first learned about on a link at Citizen Reader’s and for some crazy reason, put on hold at the library and even more crazily, picked up and now possess and HOPE to read before it is due February 22.  I have also put on hold — on second thought, since I don’t yet have that book, I will wait and maybe do this mailbox post again next week.

H

Copyright © 2007-2012. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Sugar in My Bowl

Thoughts    Sugar in My Bowl: Real Women Write About Real Sex by Erica Jong, Harper Collins 2011, Kindle Edition 256 pages

This is a very smart, very interesting, often entertaining, refreshing and even charming collection of essays and some fiction short stories about sex from a variety of female viewpoints. I bought this entirely on Andi’s recommendation;  so go ahead and click to her post here and then either run to your favorite bookstore, check the library for it or download to your eReading device and enjoy.

I don’t know if they have read it yet, but when I told my book club friends about it, a few of the members downloaded it to their Kindles right then and there.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I just realized that I skipped over the ‘graphic novel’ story because I was on a plane and didn’t want the nice lady sitting next to me to read over my shoulder.

Ahem.  ;)
HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

Copyright © 2007-2012. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

A Visit from the Goon Squad

A Visit from the Goon Squad  by Jennifer Egan, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group  2011, 341 pages

Winner of MANY Awards including the Pulitzer.

My thoughts:  I first gave this three stars but must again proclaim the fickleness of time and place and situation and mood when one brings stars (or slices of pie) to evaluate and weight the worth of a novel.   Three stars – I liked it!   Four stars – I liked it a bit more!   A bit more than WHAT exactly?  than the latest book I gave 3 stars to?

But that last book I gave 3 stars to was Bad Girls Don’t Die and that was a totally different kind of book intended for a different audience.  So, if the audience happens to be ME, then, yes, Goon Squad must get more pie.

It’s creative, it’s clever, it’s smart. It entertains, it keeps you on your toes. It bounces around in time and through various decades, decades (well, not ALL decades yet) of which I have lived so thus relatable. It evokes mood and tone of dread and then lightness and suggests the questions of WHAT-IS-GOING-ON-HERE-EXACTLY? (Wait, who is this? oh! Bennie was in the last chapter. Oops. Oh yea.)

I got lost more than I care to admit. A reader can’t sleep through this one and hope to keep the pace and attention.  I liked it more and more as it went on but was worried at first that I didn’t know enough of the music references to ‘get it’. I brought much more expectations of being blown away to this than I should have.  I wasn’t blown away but I keep thinking about it.

I would even say this is a short story collection on par with Olive Kitteridge (another Pulitzer Winner; I gave 5 stars) and The Imperfectionists (I recommend this highly but? I assigned 4 stars, hmmm. I think I liked it better than Goon).  THAT was a surprise; that it was much more a short story collection than a ‘story’. I don’t think I saw this mentioned in any reviews.

The last chapter/story was futuristic which was a pleasant surprise but I didn’t like the characters (sigh). I would even say I liked the Slide Show section the best.

And, I do believe it is a book that continues to build esteem as time clicks away. It has staying power. But it suffered (while I was reading) from my knowing it won so many prizes so it HAD to great. If I had stumbled upon this book blind — I LOVE the title! — I would have liked it very much.

I won’t try to convince you to read this one – I am supposing that you have made that decision already.  And if your decision is “YES- I want to read this”, you will likely find much to be impressed with. If you have already decided “Nope – not for me”, then you are not a fan of creative clever smart contemporary fiction and that’s OK.  If you are on the fence, then change it to a YES. Put it on the tbr and see what happens when you finally get to it. I suspect you won’t be disappointed. I honestly figure that most of you reading THIS post have already read Goon! yes? Well, my aim really isn’t to convince anyone of anything – just to record my own thoughts and have something to post. I seem to be on a Pulitzer kick all of a sudden… I’ll end with a photo from Brattleboro VT which is where I spent last weekend having a lovely time celebrating 23 whacky years with the Big D.  ♥

Rating:  

      

HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

Copyright © 2007-2011. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

A Good Man is Hard to Find

Thoughts    A Good Man is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O’Connor, A Harvest Book • Harcourt Inc. 1981? (orig 1955), 265 pages.

First, I am only commenting on the first story, the title story of this story collection. I may or may not comment on any others. I may or may not have even read any of the other stories. The title story was only 23 pages.

Second, I will share little tidbits of random thoughts. or THOUGHT.

Third, this might be very short.

Fourth? go forth?  hmmmm.

I read this now because I am not sure I have ever read anything by Ms. O’Connor.  It’s likely I read this in High School but I’m not sure. I was inspired to read this by the Southern Lit Challenge.

All this story does is remind me that EVERY TIME PERIOD IN HISTORY had bad people.   That EVERY TIME PERIOD IN HISTORY had people pining for the ‘GOOD ol’ DAYS’ when we could trust people and crime was unheard of.   That there never was and never will be any GOOD ol’ DAYS and whenever people start yapping that CRIME IS RAMPANT!  blahblahblah, well.

CRIME was RAMPANT yesterday and ten years ago and fifty years ago and can we please stop watching sensational TV already?

Chilling.

It reminded me that In Cold Blood by Truman Capote had me thinking these same thoughts.     Which NOW reminds me that if you want to read an amazing review of In Cold Blood by Truman Capote just click over to LitLove’s recent review on Tales from the Reading Room.

.

That’s all I got.   Have a great day.

HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

Copyright © 2007-2011. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Cheating at Canasta

Very Quick Thoughts   Cheating at Canasta by William Trevor, Thorndike Windsor Paragon [Largeprint] 2008, 295 pages

These are somber contemplative stories; mostly about people on the fringe reminiscing about their past lives and/or wondering how they ever got to where they are now.   Many themes of relationships, regrets, communication or the lack thereof.   Sparse emotions, quiet despair, passive inevitability.

Not recommended for anyone looking for a pick-me-up!

The writing is solid. I read this book solely based on a recommendation from another blogger, Verbivore and comments on one of her monday-reading-notes posts.    I was also inspired by Kim the Sophisticated Dork who had been questioning if blogging had ruined serendipitous book findings and I surmised it was just different now.    So to prove my point, I saw the recommendation for Trevor, checked his worth in the ratings of goodreads (very high, by the way), clicked over to my library’s holdings, and scooped this one up immediately and started to read.   I am finding that I really really love short story collections but I also have difficulty reviewing. I can’t remember enough to chat about each and just can’t decide on an a suitable approach.

Unfortunately, I struggled through some of the phrasings and references which I attribute to the Irish/English settings and culture of the author.   If you like plants and flowers, almost all the stories mention such in scenery descriptions.   I did see that more than a few of the stories used the word ‘muddle’.

MUDDLE: “He was the sharper of the two in argument and always had been; but he listened, and even put her side of things for her when she became muddled and was at a loss.” – confused, bewildered, mixed up, perplexed, baffled.

I also felt at odds with the time setting of these stories.  I sensed a less-technological age and then a character would have a cell-phone and I would feel an unwanted time-shift jolt.   I do not think the author meant for that to happen.

RATING:  Three slices of pie.

For CHALLENGE:   Twenty in Eleven

William Trevor:  “The greatest living writer of short stories in the English language.”  – The New Yorker

HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

Copyright © 2007-2011. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Mixed Magics

Thoughts   Mixed Magics:  Four Tales of Chrestomanci by Diana Wynne Jones, Harper Trophy 2000, 193 pages

MOTIVATION for READING:  Diana Wynne Jones Week is was the First Week of August!    Thank you to Jenny of Jenny’s Books for her contagious enthusiasm and encouragement.

When the announcement of DWJ Week broke and I had never heard of the author, I asked for a recommendation.   I liked the suggestion of Eight Days of Luke being an influencer of Neil Gaiman (rock star) to write American Gods.   Unfortunately, I was asleep at the wheel when I was IN the library, the book was waiting for me, I failed to realize it!   I also didn’t have my library card* with me and it’s a fiasco to attempt to check out anything without it.   So the book was returned to wherever and I didn’t have it in time to participate in DWJ Week.   (*sniff*)

So, in the very middle of DWJ Week and I’m hyperventilating because I don’t have a DWJ book in hand and my brother and SIL are visiting (very rude, you know, to say, um-we have to go to the library and I really need to be reading…), I realize that my town’s library IS a TOURIST ATTRACTION!!!!     Hurray!   So I shove my Bro and SIL into the library to admire the paintings of General Tom Thumb and his lovely wife Minnie Bump as I scour the shelves for the shortest DWJ book:   Mixed Magics wins.    A collection; a variety of short stories with a range of subject manner all featuring Chrestomanci (doh.)

Have I bored you yet?   Oh well, that’s how I came to this book.

It’s charming.  If I had to choose one word to describe this collection, I would say ‘lively’.   It’s got beautifully drawn characters; from bad guys to kids with magic talents to the revered Chrestomanci.    I loved the humor and intelligence.    And now I need to read more Diana Wynne Jones and will likely buy for a few of my N&Ns.**

Please go to Jenny’s blog and see how successful her campaign was to get so many to read Ms Jones!   and I also must call attention to Villa Negativa’s excellent essay, The Hotties of Diana Wynne Jones, or Why Are All These Grown Women Reading Children’s Books?

“Very well. Thasper, son of Imperion, I reluctantly give you my blessing to go forth and preach Dissolution.  Go in peace.” (golly, I hope that isn’t a spoiler.)

RATING:    Three slices of pie.   Only because they were too short and I wanted a bit more.

* How do I go to the library without my card!??!   I don’t know.  #hangsheadinshame

** N&Ns = Nieces and Nephews

HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

Copyright © 2010. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

I prefer pi.

pieratingsml

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