Eleanor and Park

Thoughts eapbyrr by Rainbow Rowell, St.Martin’s Press 2013, 335 pages

Genre: YA
Type/Source: ebook/Kindle
 Why I read this now: Needed some lighter fare.

MOTIVATION for READING: Everyone seems to be singing the praises of Rainbow Rowell and I had to find out why.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  A big redheaded girl wearing a style all her own enters the bus for the first day of school and no one will offer the spot next to them. She has nowhere to sit and the tension on the bus is agonizing. It is especially upsetting to Park, a kid who prefers not to have any attention directed his way but he also can’t stand to see anyone else humiliated, either. He gives up his half of the bench and allows her to share. They start a slow to build reluctant friendship, then a hot deep passionate love. It’s beautiful, really.

WHAT’s GOOD: Park is a dreamboat. Eleanor is complicated and her life is even more complicated. The way their relationship blossoms is very endearing.

What’s NOT so good: Oh… What can I say. I loved this but didn’t fall as head over heels as Park does for Eleanor. It was sweet. It was tragic. It was a lovely heart-breaking heart-soaring (can a heart soar? yes, I think so.) read. I liked it. Actually, having lived in Omaha, I both loved the setting references and was annoyed that I didn’t really get a sense of place til they went downtown and that is for a number of reasons:  I’ve been gone a long time and I didn’t get much knowledge of the poor areas of town when I lived there. My privilege shows.

And I couldn’t relate to many of the music and comic references. Shrug. So I wasn’t the best target audience for this; it’s still a great read.

FINAL THOUGHTS: This really captures that heightened tingling agonizing first-love sensations. Hats off to Rowell – obviously she is a writer of skill when it comes to making a reader FEEL something. (The following song, however, is not really like the book, other than the title. This song makes me cry every time.This book might make you cry.)

RATING: Three slices of pie. Pumpkin pie!

Risalamande is rice pudding.

“It’s a traditional Danish Christmas dessert, Eleanor thought. My grandmother made it, and her grandmother made it, and it’s better than pumpkin pie. It’s special.”



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And Then There Were None

Thoughts attwnbyac by Agatha Christie, Harper 2011 (orig 1939), 300 pages

Challenge: Classics Club 50 in 5 Years (I’m in Year 2)
Genre: Mystery Thriller
Type/Source: Paperback / Used Bookstore
Why I read this now: The itch to read a mystery and get back to my classics list lead me to search for it at my local used bookstore and I found it.

MOTIVATION for READING: I purchased three books at the bookstore and put it up for a vote a few posts ago. I started reading March before all the votes were in and Agatha was enthusiastically cheered for as my next book. I read it in one day. I didn’t think it would be that short and fast!

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Ten people are invited to an island for ‘holiday’ but the hosts are no-shows. Then someone dies! And another and another. They realize that the murderer must be one of them. Search parties, alliances and trust-not-trust dilemmas only add to the confusion. Guests keep dying! and finally, they are ALL dead. WHO was the culprit?

WHAT’s GOOD:  Very clever, very suspenseful, interesting back-stories and motives.

What’s NOT so good: I just am not that thrilled anymore about these kinds of books — I did have that dejavu feeling and I KNOW I did read it in High School or even Middle School — but I loved that this was short and easy/fast to read.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I’m glad of the ‘explanation’ letter in a bottle but sad that the last death had to happen. I was cheering for that person. It’s not that I figured out or remembered who it was but that it all felt familiar and not that startling once revealed. Still a fun whodunit, for sure.

RATING: Three slices of pie. No pie mentioned. Plenty of tinned tongue, though. Ew…



p. 41 – cairngorm – “…, she pinned a cairngorm brooch at her neck,” – another term for smoky quartz


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Yes, yes, I *do* realize that I am somewhat running a readalong this month:  #FiremanAlong

But I am also going to attempt a disconnect from social media a teensy bit and that will mean Facebook, Instagram, Litsy, and Twitter.  (ha – maybe I will attempt snapchat as soon as most of you newbies get old to it!)

Give me 7-10 days off, if that’s OK. Carry on without me, if you can.

You can do that, right?

FWIW, I have 13 hours remaining on my audio of The Fireman which might be ~45% through? — I just got to the part where Harper is visiting John Rookwood to attend to his injuries after going to her house to retrieve the ace bandage. Is that a spoiler?

It is also right after mention of the following which I knew I just had to include somewhere and since youtube song mentions are NOT such a hit on the Twitter feed, I might as well put here:

I am disheartened, disillusioned, frustrated, and scared for my country this election year. I feel the polarization and the lunacy and what seems to be a tendency to be cruel rather than compassionate in relations with ‘others’ and I can’t process. I need some time to  commune with nature.

Call it self-care.

So I’m taking a break from the internet. In some ways, I feel like I know and value a wonderful diverse caring group of friends online but I also am assaulted by persuasiveness that leaves little sympathy and empathy and respect for a different viewpoint. I also suspect that the media is feeding the beast and is not to be trusted.

I’ll shut up now and look to the sunshine. I promise to wear my sunscreen.



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The New World #Weirdathon

Thoughts tnwbycaehrq by Chris Adrian Eli Horowitz & Russell Quinn, Atavist Books 2014 (or 2015?), unknown # of pages


Challenge: To read all of the TOB Shortlist? AND because it sounded weird enough for #Weirdathon.
Genre: . . . Sci Fi?
Type/Source:  eBook, App Store
 Why I read this now: I blame Ti. (Her review here.)

MOTIVATION for READING:  In chatting about TOB books, this one was mentioned and somehow Ti and I decided to read it, not quite together, but an almost-readalong.

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Jane and Jim are married. Jim dies and his pre-arranged ‘funeral’ arrangements involve signing up with what Jane accuses as being a cult. She wants no part of this company’s ‘arrangements’ and fights them. She wants her husband’s head back, please. While all of Jane’s stuff in the ‘after-Jim’ timeline is being told, we meet Jim as he enters the ‘future’ via various stages of imagination and, I guess you could call it purgatory? It’s rather confusing. It goes back and forth between Jane and Jim but mostly it becomes memories and reflection on their marriage. Jim was required to forget everything about his life so that he could effectively choose his best-self future. I think. Truly, the more I attempt to write this, I am getting more and more confused about what happens/happened!

WHAT’s GOOD: The style seems very matter of fact and offers a humorous look at the after-death business. The idea that Jim was a non-Christian chaplain tending to the lonely and dying of the hospital struck me funny, too, though that is me confronting my bias’s and things that make me uncomfortable tend to make me laugh inappropriately. I rather liked Jim much more than I liked Jane.

What’s NOT so good:  The confusion, obviously, but then it really didn’t bother me either.

And who was Millicent!??!  I’m reading along and can’t recall one of the characters. I surely failed to appreciate this story…

FINAL THOUGHTS: The takeaway for me was that Jane couldn’t commit nor communicate and some actions on both parties had consequences that made both good and bad things happen. It was a bit of a mind-boggle. Now I don’t remember what it was exactly and certainly can’t describe it. This assumes I blame Jane more than Jim and I don’t think I should. See? brain fog.

An interesting counter-point book comparison within the TOB would be with Fates and Furies…  (The having kids or not issue.)


AND now, the technology/gimmick:  I purchased the eBook app for my iPhone via the AppStore. I had to scroll down in each of Jane and Jim’s viewpoints and then swipe left for the other’s page. Though it had an ongoing bar of progress, there were no page numbers, no ability to look up a word or even copy an interesting sentence or phrase. Eventually, I hit a screen with the Polaris (that was the company arranging for Jim’s afterlife) logo and the swipes reversed. I hit the Polaris logo again – though it was added to, so it was a different logo – and reversed swipes once more but the narrative time line got confusing where I wasn’t sure if I was in the past or the future. And then it just fades away as it repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and
repeats and repeats and repeats and

As far as experimental novels go, it didn’t suck, I guess.

RATING: Three slices of pie. No pie was mentioned that I noticed.

Vocabulary:  thanatology





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The Painted Veil

Thoughts tpvbywsm The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham, Vintage 2011 (orig 1925), 280 pages

Genre: Classic, Fiction
Occasion: Spontaneous Buddy Read with Andi of Estella’s Revenge


Source: eBook purchased from Amazon for my Kindle
 Challenge: What’s in a Name 2016 – Article of Clothing category

MOTIVATION for READING: wian2016 and the Classics Club

WHAT’s it ABOUT: Kitty is an upper class twit who must get married because her little sister is engaged. So she chooses Walter who happens to be the only guy still interested in her; (though we never quite figure that out. Or at least, I didn’t and I don’t think Walter did either.) Walter is a bacteriologist and is assigned to Hong Kong, so Kitty and Walter get quicky-married, honeymoon in Italy then off to the other side of the world from England. Kitty doesn’t love Walter, obviously, and has little to no moral compass so she is easily seduced by the hot powerful and charming Charley. But Walter finds out and offers a few options which result in a most interesting scenario:  Walter volunteers to be the doctor for a village with a cholera outbreak and Kitty has NO choice but to go along.  Is it a spoiler to say that Charley is the only one who escapes with no consequence? I do end up liking Kitty and I always ‘got’ Walter’s sense of humor. Is this a tragedy? It ain’t no comedy.

But SO GOOD! I also called it a philosophical travelogue…

WHAT’s GOOD: Most everything is good about this. The writing is great, the characters are fascinating, it has wit and lots of emotional pokes, beautiful scenery, and a story arc that is paced well and offers surprises. Maugham has keen insight into human behavior – good and bad.

I love books that set off more exploring on my part. Other story references (“The dog it was that died.” – YOWZA!) and lots of French (ugh). My vocabulary was increased by this:

Tiffin – a light meal, especially lunch.

What’s NOT so good: This is a solid 4 and 1/2 slice of pie kind of book. I have been waffling about giving this a 5 slice but will not due to my wanting to be extra stingy on that this year. I want glowing heaps-of-heart-bursts for my 5 stars and while this is a contender for such, I am not bouncing around the room with passionate hugs and kisses for it and the only thing I can say why that is, might be because it was short. Which could be a whole ‘nother topic on why the chunksters end up getting the passion and I think it is because we get to spend so much more time immersed in chunksters. Whatever.

FINAL THOUGHTS: If you enjoy books that offer romance and anti-romance, this is an excellent choice. If you like climate and cultural variety in your readings and settings in a time a bygone era away, this is an excellent choice.

DO read this enjoyable insightful and not-boring! academic review I found.

I had been feeling poorly this week with a sort throat and achy-ness and yet for some silly reason, I couldn’t commit to watching the movie while huddled and cuddled on the couch under blankets with nap-master puppies at my feet. I watched The Reader with Kate Winslet instead…

RATING: fourpie


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The Red Shoes

Thoughts trsbydh The Red Shoes by Dorte Hummelshoj, 2012, publisher date, 33 pages

Challenge:  Read My Own Damn Books and What’s in a Name: CLOTHING
Genre: Mystery
Type/Source: eBook, Amazon
 Why I read this now: ReadMyOwnDamnBooksbutton Well so, I realized that I had forgotten about my Kindle and how many books lay hidden inside this device. I’m good – I have less than ten! Now I have only eight…

MOTIVATION for READING: Length. It was short!

WHAT’s it ABOUT: This is a story collection and let me share the warning:


I couldn’t resist.

WHAT’s GOOD: These are fun. and short. The character names were great. (Like Rhapsody Gershwin.)

What’s NOT so good: I’m not sure how suspenseful I would rate these but they definitely have dark humor.

FINAL THOUGHTS: My favorite was the Green Acres story that was set in a nursing home (and had an adorable dog as foil.)

RATING: Three slices of pie.

Vocabulary:  Grotty – unpleasant and of poor quality. (not in any way meant to describe these stories; only a word IN the stories that I did not know.)



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We Should All Be Feminists

Thoughts wsabfbycna by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Anchor Books 2015 (orig 2012), 48 pages

Read this or watch her Ted Talk!

“All of us, men and women, must do better.”


Four slices of pie.



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The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Thoughts teothbymb The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, Europa Editions 2008 (orig 2006), 325 pages

For wian15 What’s in a Name 8 Reading Challenge

Thank you Holly for giving me this book (in 2012).

Thank you Katie for cheering me along as I read this! So it was somewhat of a buddy read although I was the only one reading/hashtagging (#HedgehogElegance) and Katie was the TWEET-TO for all the fun tweetable quips and quotes that entertained and/or amused me.

“People aim for the stars, and they end up like goldfish in a bowl. I wonder if it wouldn’t be simpler just to teach children right from the start that life is absurd.”

What it’s ABOUT:  A concierge of a high-society apartment complex (of 5 units) keeps to herself and works hard to build an image of the lowly dumb building caretaker stereotype – NOT that I have such. The only concierges I know are for fancy hotels so it was a bit difficult to buy-in to an assumed stereotype when I don’t have it. Still, she is good at explaining herself as hiding her true passions of literature, music and cinema.

“She has the same simple refinement as the hedgehog: deceptively indolent little creature, fiercely solitary – and terribly elegant.”

In alternating chapters, we meet a 12 year old resident of the building who feels like she doesn’t belong into the world she is born in, or in any world for that matter and she is extremely bright and thoughtful.

“But if you dread tomorrow, it’s because you don’t know how to build the present, and when you don’t know how to build the present, you tell yourself you can deal with it tomorrow, and it’s a lost cause anyway because tomorrow always ends up becoming today, don’t you see?”

I WAS entertained and amused. I can see why some might think it ‘pretentious’ but I thought it was merely a perfect part of the character descriptions and not of the author nor a story issue.

I had been wanting to read this for a long time and had it often on the NEXT-BOOK shelf but it kept getting shuffled aside for whatever hot glamorous book had to be read. I think I was afraid that I wouldn’t like it because I knew I had high expectations. I waited, also, to let the hype die down in the blogging world and in my brain, hoping to forget anything/everything.

Still, I had still had glimmers of expectation threatening my enjoyment. And I was wrong about a few things. Darn it! I thought it was about an odd  friendship between the caretaker and the little girl. Yes, but NO – it happened SO LATE in the book, I was rather confused!  so do know that going in.

“I have always been fascinated by the abnegation with which we human beings are capable of devoting a great deal of energy to the quest for nothing and to the rehashing of useless and absurd ideas.”

So much good stuff. A favorite book to add to my list.

“We live each day as if it were merely a rehearsal for the  next…”

Rating:  FIVE slices of pie.

TONS of new vocab words, too. I won’t define for you; I only starred these as I read along. A few I did put on Twitter.

Sidereal, deontology, furbelow, consonant, salvo, asthenic, demiurge, exeunt, syncretism, debility, subaltern, factotum*, incunabulum, eructation…

* I plan on using — factotum — in my NaNoWriMo work. Gots to! Definition is: A person whose job involves doing many different types of work. This is me.


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Death in the Garden

Thoughts dintgbyei by Elizabeth Ironside, Felony & Mayhem Press, 1995, 294 pages

FOR:  Neighborhood Book Club

FIRST Sentence: “Today at half-past two in the afternoon I was acquitted of the murder of my husband.”

What’s it ABOUT:  The story obviously begins with a trial and a murder and probable marital strife; we also get to experience the trauma of the world between and of the two world wars. Here’s what happens and how it is setup:  Diana is having a birthday and she invites a few of her favorite friends – mind you, these friends are not friends of the husband’s. Diana is a very interesting person and it is her husband who is murdered at that birthday party weekend. The year is 1925.

“Fanny herself had no money, no education and only erratic employment, most recently and implausibly in a bookshop. “How can that be?” Diana had once said to her husband. “She doesn’t know how to read.” George’s silence was his habitual response to Diana’s sharpness.”

THEN, we jump to the early 1990s and meet Diana’s great niece, Hannah, a single woman, and thus by default?* hard-working, rising-star attorney in London.

“…those (birthdays with) zeros. Not at 20 perhaps, but at 30 it begins, the casting of accounts, the recalling of doors not opened and roads not taken. Only in noise and distraction, companionship and conversation becoming progressively more sentimental, could it be avoided.”

Diana, referred to as “the Great Aunt”, dies in her 98th year. Hannah inherits the estate, or most of it –Diana has made a point to will lots and lots of money and goodies to all the females in the family. What? She was wealthy?! None of the family members are aware of her fortune and certainly not her past – the fact that she was acquitted of murder. To them, she was just a lovely old lady who tended her garden. It was crazy to think she was once a wild woman who experienced anything dramatic. They decide to find out what really happened.

Hannah has her own secrets…

“He, who had for weeks or days been the peaceful background hum of her existence, suddenly became the only sound in her universe.”

Just like Trish, I am not one to try and guess the whodunnits or even want to spot if any zany twists, forcing any unravelings of plot. I adored this story and how it unfolded! I was, as they say, on the edge of my seat and this was a wonderful way to temper my #SalemAlong reading of ‘Salem’s Lot.

“Edith, she works in order not to think. At home it would be impossible to spend a few days among such people without any discussion of ideas.”

It’s not just the turns, the reveal and the various character studies; it was the analysis of marriage and independence. Of feminism and how women had/have to assert themselves, or not. Of careers and ambition, the balance of power. There is a lot here to admire – in the thoughts expressed and how the author presents all of it in the story.

“For Pia, any weakness or shame, such as that George had inadvertently revealed, filled her with the desire to protect and shelter, to hide the exposed place. George had shown a crack to the base of his soul. He saw himself as a failure. He had married Diana to use her beauty and talent to shore up the gaping fissures in his personality and found that they could not be used.”

What’s GOOD/NOT so good? . . .  SKIP . . .

FINAL Thoughts: I think we will have a LOT to discuss at meeting and I am really hoping that this book charmed the others in club as much as I was charmed.

RATING: There were zero pie mentions (and no lobster ones, either, I’m afraid) but I still give this FIVE slices. Let’s go with MINCE MEAT PIE since Mincemeat Pie Day is October 26.



ha-ha – sunk fence

alpinism – climbing the Alps

soubrette – frivolous young woman in comedies

kedgeree – an Indian dish of seasoned rice, beans, lentils, and sometimes smoked fish

danegeld – an annual tax believe to have been imposed originally to buy off Danish invaders in England

Stakhanovite – a Soviet industrial worker awarded recognition and special privileges for output beyond production norms

charabanc – a sight-seeing motor coach

ukase – a proclamation by a Russian emperor or govt having the force of law, edict

*    default: how can a girl/woman of 30 yo not have a husband or significant other? might as well be good at your job since you have no one to take care of…  sheesh…


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Sorcerer to the Crown

Thoughts sorcerer_front mech.indd Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho, Ace Books 2015, 371 pages


I wanted to read this when Aarti mentioned it. Not sure why exactly, it certainly isn’t my typical read, but I was somehow captivated and knew this would be my first book for #Diversiverse 2015.

I am so glad that I acted on this impulse – I loved it!

I loved it for the vocabulary. See below.

I loved it for the energy, the vivacity.

I loved it for the confounding character of Prunella. She was unique and I loved her power-forward attitude.

I won’t review it – you can read Aarti’s review, or Jenny’s or Olduvai’s.

I want to read the next in the series. Crazy, right? (Long time readers of this blog know that I am usually a one and done (or not at all a fan) on series…) And on that note, I can say that the ending is sufficient as a stand alone book. Whew.

I should probably look for a GIF to do that whew… (and a BIG thank you to Jenny – my favorite GIF-ologist – for the always appreciated assistance: the right-click on image trick worked…)

Maybe not quite the right whew but it is VERY IMPORTANT to me when a series book does NOT end on a crazy annoying cliffhanger. (Patrick Ness I’m looking at you.)

One more cool thing… The Faery King has a lobster courtier.  copleyl But, of course.


Question for those of you all in the know, this book would be an excellent gift for a 14 year old, yes?

And finally, a book connection coincidence link:  and I quote “Since the decision to become a parent is invariably self interested, it is my belief that a parents obligation is to the child, and the child’s obligation is to itself.” –> this reminds me of the issue that irked me in the book I reviewed prior to this one. I LIKE this quote.


VOCAB – I learned a lot in this book. About magic and fantasy terms, mostly. I didn’t note page numbers this time, sorry.

manumit – (a word that shocks me that I don’t know) – release from slavery; set free

demesne – land attached to a mansion; legal possession of land

emolument – the returns arising form office or employment, usually in form of compensation; advantage

lamia – female vampire

cantrip – a witch’s trick

sigil – seal, signet, sign to have occult power

stoichiometry – branch of chemistry dealing with application of laws of definite proportions and conservation of mass/energy

froward – habitually disposed to disobedience

asafetida – the dried fetid gum resin of the root of several west Asian plants; flavor or medicine

theurgy – art of compelling or persuading a god to do or refrain

prolix – using too many words!!!

redound – to have a particular result

bombazine – a silk fabric in twill weave, dyed black

thaumaturgy – the performance of miracles/magic (doh)

dogsbody – a person who is given boring, menial tasks to do.

louche – disreputable or sordid in a rakish or appealing way.

putative – generally considered

dropsical – affected with an accumulation of an excessive amount of watery fluid in cells, tissues, or body cavities

bougie – a thin, flexible surgical instrument for exploring or dilating a passage of the body. OR urban dictionary: Aspiring to be a higher class than one is.

beldam – a malicious and ugly woman, especially old,  witch.

dido – perform mischievous tricks or deeds.

gutta percha – a hard, tough thermoplastic substance that is the coagulated latex of certain Malaysian trees

cant – lively, lusty

AND one that my i{Phone app for Merriam-Webster didn’t have (there were more but I didn’t capture)








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