Multi Book Thoughts to Cross Off List

We Were The Mulvaneys by Joyce Carol Oates, PLUME Penguin Grp 1996, 454 pages

I was given this by a friend whose maiden name was Mulvaney.   I had always wanted to read a JCO and could never quite pick which one to start with.   With this, the decision was made for me.         I did enjoy the author’s skillful descriptive style.    I can say that even if I suspected my emotions were being played, I loved it while in the middle of it.    However, about 3/4 of the way in, I wanted to un-invest myself of the characters but I was too far into it to quit.   I gave this 4 pie slices but in the end and now that I ‘m thinking about it, I was just glad the book was finally over.     I’m even tempted to say that JCO and Picoult have a similar feel to me – – or can evoke the same reaction from me:    not quite overwrought but skilled in emotional pull; tackling the heavy stuff but then leaving me not quite sure what to think about the experience when it is done.       As to the story?   I was extremely pissed off at the father.  and the mother, too.   and the poor girl turned out …   perfectly lovely and sweet?   too sweet.    I liked the narrator best.      The situation was just terrible, terrible.

Shooting the Boh   by Tracy Johnston, A Vintage Departures 1992, 256 pages

There is NO WAY I could ever have signed up to do what this lady did;   first humans down a river that even the natives won’t traverse?    Leeches and constant swarming of bees and FEAR of dying with no rescue plan in place?    NO.  WAY.    but she is a good writer.      I read this for Women Unbound and could also possibly count it for World Citizen since it is set in Borneo.

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury, Yearling Paperback 1999 (1stPub 1972), 145 pages

I read this for RIP IV and because my dear friend Nymeth sent it to me (and Chris sent it to her so it gets even more special!)    But.     As much as I recognize the talents of Mr. Bradbury, his style isn’t for me.   I enjoyed the clever wordplay but I’m too impatient for it.      Like too many toppings on a pizza – sure, they taste good and look pretty but but I can take them or leave them.   Sometimes you just want a simple cheese on the right crust.    Now I’m hungry.

I gave this book to the 10 yo boy next door and he told me HE LOVED IT.    If I ever pin him down to an interview, we will discuss this book.     He’s got a busy life, ya know…

The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera, Harcourt Paperback 2003 (1stPub 1988), 168 pages

I read this for the New Zealand Challenge in October but it spilled over into November so I want to count this for the Women Unbound Challenge, too.

This is about a girl who was born into a family that would have preferred a boy to carry on the traditions.     She ends up meeting a most amazing destiny and earns the love and respect of everyone.     I enjoyed this book but I loved the movie a bit more.    It’s been years since I’ve seen the flick so I’m ready to view it again.

The Mandarin by EÇa de Queiroz, 84 pages

WOW!   I loved this wonderful story (novella?) – it has drama and comedy and playful language!   and it has tragedy and loneliness and sorrow.      A moral lesson without any overhanded wham of a hammer to the head.  It is, and I quote from the back cover:

… told with Eca’s irrespressible wit and originality.

I’m still getting through the other stories; I want to savor them rather than rush thru just to get reviewed.    Thanks again to Nymeth for sending me this charmer of a book.     I’m still in awe that it was written in the 1800’s.

Happiness would arrive one day and to hasten its arrival I did everything that a good Portuguese and a constitutionalist could do:   I prayed every night to Our Lady of Sorrows and bought lottery tickets, the cheapest available.

33 thoughts on “Multi Book Thoughts to Cross Off List

  1. Have you seen the movie The Halloween Tree? The book was OK but the movie that the book is based on is much better!It might be hard to find. I don’t think it’s on DVD. It’s been years since I’ve read Oates. Haven’t read the Mulvaneys.

  2. I’m so glad you enjoyed The Mandarin, Care 😀 If I remember correctly (it’s been a while since I read it) the other stories didn’t stand out quite as much, but there’s still plenty to enjoy. And I’m sorry that the Bradbury wasn’t for you, but it found its way to a reader who did love it, and that makes me happy 😀

  3. Gah, the New Zealand challenge! I have a DVD to watch but had to pick a different book because my kids and I couldn’t bear the one we started, and that stalled me. Is the challenge over? I think it is, but I’m not letting myself off the hook.

  4. We Were the Mulaneys was my first JCO book, and one that made her my guilty pleasure read. The stuff she’s writing about has a sort of melodrama feel, but I always feel like she does more with the characters and the the way the book is structured to make it more complicated. Or maybe I’m just making that up to justify my book snobbery 🙂

    1. I do think I may be more likely to read a JCO again before a JP but I can’t base that on anything. I think there are more titles by JCO of interest than JP – I only want to read Nineteen Minutes and I’m not in any hurry to do so.

  5. Leeches…ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!

    I read the Mulvaneys years ago and liked it, but have not had a desire to read JCO again.

    And Whale Rider was a beautiful movie…I sobbed through most of it, much to my mother’s disgust.

    1. Remember – this isn’t really a contest, ya know. but then “HA HA! I’ve read more books than you have lately, nannannannnanana”
      Not really. You read deeper books and books with literary devices. whatever THOSE might be…

  6. I love your imagery on Bradbury it made me want to eat pizza 🙂 I haven’t read that one yet so I don’t have an opinion 🙂 Bradbury’s a hit or miss for me. I loved some of his books and stories but uh, I can’t bring myself to finish Fahrenheit 451. Did I just say that? Oh no, the book blogging world will probably hate me for that!

    I do have that JCO book and I’ve been meaning to read her for some time. Well, like I’ve been meaning to read every other author gushed about in book blogs, one way or another. While I haven’t read Picoult, I understand your feel for the book and is now intrigued with this one. Even if you wanted to un-invest yourself a quarter into the story 😛

    1. oh good, I’m so glad someone got the pizza PIE analogy! I sometimes wonder if some books just aren’t meant for some people or if it is MOOD. I’m leaning towards the just-not-right condition.

  7. Shooting the Boh sounds a bit like No Touch Monkey by Ayun Halliday — the kind of book that you enjoy reading because there’s no way you’d do that stuff in real life. I loved No Touch Monkey. There’s a lot of diarrhea in it, though. TMI?

  8. The Whale Rider sounds interesting. I haven’t seen the movie and had no idea it was a book!

    I have a love/hate relationship with JCO. I liked the Mulvaneys book well enough. It actually was the first of her books I read. Haven’t been too thrilled with some of the others. “The Gravedigger’s Daughter” was a chore to finish!


  9. Hi, I’ve never read any JCO either primarily because there are so many books to choose from. The Mandarin sounds fantastic (it’s going straight onto my wish list) and I loved the film of The Whale Rider. It was beautiful wasn’t it? Thanks for the tip about the url. I’ve changed it so I hope it works now.

  10. I just wanted to add that I know exactly what you mean about JCO. I do enjoy her books, but I have to be feeling quite strong to tackle her. She knows no boundaries when it comes to presenting the darker side of human emotions, but at the same time she does nothing to hold or comfort the reader. If, as you say, she added meaning to her stories, straight out insight that helped the reader to know what to think about her characters, that would make her a much more palatable read. I actually think it’s a bit lacking from her books, but it’s one of the reasons why she can be so prolific. She just writes from the same emotional zone, over and over, never moving on, never resolving anything, just going into it once more with different protagonists. But hey, she does also have a very gripping quality to her work and has a nifty line in description. 🙂

  11. Pingback: The Girl Who Stopped Swimming « Care's Online Book Club

  12. Pingback: The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera |

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