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

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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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Copyright © 2007-2016. 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.

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:

HIGH RISK OF TOXIC HUMOUR AND SEVERED LIMBS!

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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Copyright © 2007-2016. 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.

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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Copyright © 2007-2015. 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.

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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Copyright © 2007-2015. 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.

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.

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Vocab

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…

PLEASE SEEK OUT THIS BOOK AND TALK TO ME!

Copyright © 2007-2015. 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.

Sorcerer to the Crown

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

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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)

simurgh

 

 

 

 

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Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea

Thoughts aytvimcbych Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea by Chelsea Handler, Gallery Books 2008, 264 pages

FIRST Sentence: I was nine years old and walking myself to school one morning when I heard the unfamiliar sound of a prepubescent boy calling my name.

TRUTH: Her first essay in this collection was my favorite, Blacklisted. About her amazing ability to embellish and think grandiose stories on a dime, Chelsea demonstrates her ability to talk and cajole and invent wild entertaining tales.

It went downhill after this.

I just got bored with her inane over-the-top depravity.

DEPRAVITY: quality of demonstrating an evil and immoral character.

So maybe, evil is a bit strong and misleading. I really wouldn’t call her evil – it’s just all sex and raunchy and well, . . . boring.

Maybe ‘debauched’ is a better word?

DEBAUCHED: to lead away from virtue* or excellence.

Yea, whatever.

I admit. I’ve only seen her show a few times. I thought she was funny. This book wasn’t that funny. Occasionally, a situation was chuckle-worthy but overall, if I chose to dwell on such concepts like ‘regret’, I could easily regret the time I spent with this book.

By the way, a few antonyms for DEBAUCHED are elevate, ennoble and uplift. I need to spend more time with these kinds of words.

Have a nice day!

Enjoy these flowers from my garden: FullSizeRender

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* I am in the THICK (~86%) of the ‘speech’ that is looooong in Atlas Shrugged. Might have something to do with my mind-boggling contemplations of virtue and morality, at the moment.

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Misery Roundup and Playlist #MiseryRAL

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Do tell: share your favorite of this readalong! Was it finding King in the button above, the songs (which song?), the NEW words (oogy!!) or __?___. I enjoyed making new friends. Was this your first Kingalong? Will you be looking forward to more? King is great on his own; but in my opinion, his books are just better with friends.

Let me know here or tweet at me if you have a review link for me to add:

Coffee & a Book CHICK

Heather’s Book Addiction

Ti at Book Chatter

Laurie at Bay State Advisory

Jenni Elyse

Lisa Lit and Life

Trish at Love Laughter Insanity

The Friday Friends

Katie (not in) MA

Kristin at my little heart melodies

Michelle What She Said

Maree Life the Universe and Cats

SONGS:

Paramore: Misery Business

Daylight Misery – Silence 2013

Elliot Smity Miss Misery

Extrema – My Misery

The Maine – Misery

Ruby Gloom (Misery) – What’s the Big Deal?

Maroon 5 – Misery

Soul Asylum – Misery

Three Days Grace – Misery Loves My Company

Pink & Steven Tyler Misery

Peter Gabriel Sledgehammer (and I had no idea about the ax!!)

Fifth Harmony – Sledgehammer

Thanks everyone! I had a great time being your host. Put Salem’s Lot on the calendar for October! Should our hashtag be #SalemsLotRAL ?

Halestorm – I Miss the Misery

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Misery Readalong Update #MiseryRAL June 8

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Thank you Jenni for creating a button for our month long reading of Misery by Stephen King!

We’ve found some unique words and often-used words:  obdurate, oogiest, cockadoodie, dirty bird, goodness! blah-de-blah-de-blah.

We’ve highlighted some differences between the book and the movie – I have NEVER seen the movie though I *do* know who stars in it. [I found an online essay that highlighted differences between The Shining book and movie and it reminded me that I’ve never seen that one either! See how far I’ve come from being a total NON-King appreciator to moving him to the top spot of Most-Books-by-a-Single-Author-Read category?]

Anyway,

What else?  MUSIC!  Has everyone enjoyed the playlist so far?  I’m not done. There are SO many choices for this. And I have a few other interesting things to do yet, so I hope you’re not done with the text and are bored… You’re having fun, yes?  Not scared, right?!

It’s June 8 which puts us approximately a quarter the way through the month; this puts us at page 80 or so if you are being ‘paceful’. Thus, my selection of King of the Road by Roger Miller:  “No phone, no pool, no pets . . . I ain’t got not cigarettes . . pg. 81

The Second Part begins on page 90 in my edition. So I’ll finish here with the quote that starts that section:

Writing does not cause misery, it is born of misery.   -Montaigne

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Copyright © 2007-2015. 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.

The Fiction Class

Thoughts tfcbysb The Fiction Class by Susan Breen, A Plume Book 2008, 304 pages

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I like the cover.

It must be a great act of courage for a writer to teach writing. I know I would wonder about my student’s perception of my “success” or lack of success and how necessary this is to be qualified to teach. Whenever I do have a crisis in confidence when eyes are on me to explain or share or ‘deliver a lesson’, I always tell myself that I only need to know SOMETHING/ANYTHING more than the students. And we all know something that can be shared and appreciated. I don’t have to be an expert.

Anyway, I do believe good teaching rarely requires total mastery in a field. The most educated and masterful mathematician could be lousy at teaching. A great teacher inspires and pushes and encourages creativity, experimentation and practice. A great teacher is NOT the one who stands in front of the class and dumps information. Our goals can be for PBL – Project Based Learning opportunities!

Which writing fits into. Writing is creative and story-based; a story is a project, if you will. Writing is a craft with tools and techniques. The tools are words and techniques vary. A great writer just might be a horrible teacher and perhaps the best teacher is not the best-selling author. Teachers are facilitators and coaches.

You can click on the book cover above for the goodreads.com blurb on The Fiction Class if you want to know more about it. I’m rating it three slices of pie. NOTE – this is an ARC. I only saw a few typos. I am willing to send this book to anyone who wants it.

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Somewhat related to this…  Read, come back and share if you agree: “Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I Don’t Teach in One” by Ryan Boudinot. There have been some responses (ahem) to this post and the comments are full of controversy.

I think Writing is a talent; some are born with more talent than others. As with Leaders. I also believe that great leaders can be built and just because you don’t have the bright talent at birth does not mean you can’t be a great leader. Same with writing.

I think it takes a great act of courage to WRITE.

Write on!

 

 

 

Copyright © 2007-2015. 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.