WWW Wednesday (February 28, 2018)

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking On A World of Words.  Give her blog a look and join the discussion!img_1384-0

Two things to start off my WWW Wednesday:

  1. I saw “Black Panther” on Saturday and it was SO AWESOME. I’m not normally a superhero movie person, but this one is a must-see. Funny, moving, full of big ideas and questions. Terrific cast. I just loved it.
  2. Dammit, there are sexual impropriety allegations surfacing about Sherman Alexie. I am SO SO disappointed. He is one of my favorite writers. This sucks. I’m still processing what to do with my admiration for his writing.

Blurgh.

I’ve been reading a lot lately, but just not really feeling like writing about reading. I don’t know, I get in these moods sometimes, and then in a week or two I emerge and write two posts a week.

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Let’s talk about books, shall we?

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently:

51hi92m66BLSwing Time by Zadie Smith. This is my book group book for February (we meet next month.) At about the 80-85 page mark, I got really bored. If it wasn’t for book group, I might have abandoned it. But I continued, and I’m glad I did. I’m halfway through now, and it’s gotten a lot more interesting. I am pretty sure it won’t be one of my favorite books ever, but it should provide a lot to talk about. Smith is ambitious, I’ll give her that, and she is a lovely writer on a sentence level. I’m just not sure about her focus. This book sort of meanders around, and it does skip back and forth among time periods, which isn’t a deal breaker for me, but something about the way she’s doing it is a bit jarring. Our narrator is unnamed, a mixed-race brown woman growing up in London in the first part of the story. The first part focuses on her friendship with Tracey, another brown girl who also takes dance lessons, although Tracey is more naturally talented than our narrator. As the book progresses, it focuses more on the narrator’s relationship with her employer, a mega-famous international pop star named Aimee, who reminds me of Madonna. Aimee wants to build a school for girls in Africa, and that’s where I am in the book. There’s a lot going on here with race and privilege and friendship and family dysfunction. It’s pretty good, but I’m still reserving judgement.lamott-hallelujah

I also just started listening to the audio book of Hallejuah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy by Anne Lamott. Read by the author. I love her. I know I’m going to enjoy this.

Recently Finished:

34203744The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce. I LOVED this book. It was on the lighter side without being stupid, a quality in books that I esteem SO highly. It was like a really smart rom-com movie only with the added bonus of being about music and the power of music to save people’s lives and bring people together. It’s one of those books that I just want to swoon and sigh over. If you need something that is a feel-good read, this is the book for you. This is my first Rachel Joyce book, but I’m going to have to investigate her other books now for sure!

Up Next (always subject to change:)

March is Reading Ireland Month, co-hosted by Cathy at 746 Books, so I’ll be reading Jennifer Johnston’s How Many Miles to Babylon? and possibly Sebastian Barry’s The Secret Scripture. Both authors are new to me. I’ve also still got Stephen King’s Wizard and Glass checked out and haven’t even started it yet. I need to get going with my Classics Club list and I think I’m going to choose a mystery to start, possibly Strangers on a Train or The Thin Man.

Have you read any of the books I’ve listed? Have you seen “Black Panther” yet? What do you do when one of your favorite authors is revealed to be a (pardon my language) shithead? I hope you’re all having a good week and are enjoying your books! Tell me something good! 

 

 

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WWW Wednesday (Feb. 14, 2018)

Happy Valentine’s Day (whatever that means to you!) There are all kinds of love and hopefully, whether you’re in a relationship or not, you are cultivating some self-love with your awesome rock-star self today! It’s been a while since I’ve done a WWW Wednesday.

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking On A World of Words.  Give her blog a look and join the discussion!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently: 

6969Emma by Jane Austen. This is a reread for me. I last read it in 2009, so Goodreads tells me, although if you’d asked me I would have said it was even longer ago than that. I am LOVING IT. It’s so readable and entertaining. I’m practically love-hating Emma herself as a character, she’s deliciously AWFUL, so snobby and delusional. I’m about halfway through. I plan to re-watch the movie with Gwyneth Paltrow after I finish reading the novel. It’s been ages since I saw it.

 

 

Recently Finished:

81bZLWAAi0LThe Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie. Oh my goodness. So good. I managed to not race through a short story collection for the first time ever! I read one story a day (mostly) and gave myself time to think about them. This collection is beautiful and sad and funny and magical. Review to come, hopefully this weekend (I’m behind on reviews as always!)

91YQ4r2Y2nLThe Tall Woman by Wilma Dykeman. This was my book group read for January. It was a reread for me, also last read in 2009 (weird!) It’s really really good, solidly page-turning historical fiction, written in the 1960’s by a locally famous southern writer. It’s set in the decades after the Civil War, in a small North Carolina mountain area. The main character, Lyddie, is awesome – she reminds me a lot of Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables. She has a similar determination to live life fully and enjoy being alive even in the face of hardships and struggle. Review to come soon!

Coming Next: (As always, this is subject to change!)

My book group read for February is Zadie Smith’s Swing Time, a book that’s been on my TBR since it came out. I’ve heard mixed reviews but I don’t mind – those are often the best kinds of book group picks for discussion. I’ve also got The Music Shop by Rachel Joyce checked out from the library, and it’s got holds on it so I’ve got to read it soon. I’ve never read anything by her before. Last, I ordered the next book in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, Wizard and Glass. I was reading those last summer and then got distracted and derailed from the series. But now I want to continue!

Have you read any of these? What are you currently reading? Let’s chat!

 

Catching Up

I’ve done a dangerous thing:  I’ve started a free trial of Amazon Prime. Actually, I can blame my husband – he’s the one who signed up for it, thinking it would make his item come faster (it didn’t.) Well, I thought, since I’ve got this for 30 days, what can I watch? Ah, yes, Bosch!  I’ve always wanted to see how they developed Michael Connelly’s beloved police procedurals for the small screen!

MV5BNjZjNjMyNDctZDNhOC00ODFlLTlmYzYtYjc2ZWMxNjNmYmE2XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNjI4OTg2Njg@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_Uh-oh, my friends. It’s AMAZING. Here I am, eight episodes in, and I can feel my desire to read just ebbing away like sands through the hourglass. Titus Welliver is mesmerizing as LAPD detective Harry Bosch, and the show is just as addictive as the novels. The political intrigue in the police department is just as as compelling as the cases Bosch works. I don’t plan on continuing the subscription after 30 days so I fear that my reading will take a bit of a backseat for the next couple of weeks until I get through the three seasons currently available. Good thing I’ve been on such a hot streak in 2018. I’ve read five books! And two of them are books I own, which means a great start to my small goal of reading at least 12 of my own books.

Let me tell you a little bit about what I’ve read so far this year. The longer I go between finishing a book and writing about it, the less I want to write a review. Here are some highlights of my January so far.

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout. I love starting out the year with a five-star read!  This was just as lovely and moving as My Name is Lucy Barton. It’s set in the 51mPEE0qUtL._SX336_BO1,204,203,200_same universe (Lucy even appears in one story, about her and her siblings.) I don’t know how Strout does it, but she takes the ordinary and makes it extraordinary. She also seems to know how to manipulate my tear-ducts, as I cried on more than one occasion while reading these linked short stories. My two favorite stories in the novel were “Windmills” and “Mississippi Mary.” The latter is about the special bond between a youngest (and favorite) daughter and her mother. Mary (the mom) has moved to Italy, finally living her life for herself and experiencing true love with a younger Italian man. Angelina (the daughter) is middle-aged, having marital troubles, and has never gotten over her parents’ divorce or the fact that Mary has moved across an ocean.  It’s a story about shifting roles as parents age and whether or not a child can ever fully see a parent as a person in her own right. It’s just a knock-out. If you can get a copy of this and only have time for one story, read this one.

51ZCLMRv8nL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_I listened to The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and what an uplifting audio book! Cowritten and narrated by Douglas Abrams, (two excellent voice actors narrate the parts of the Dalai Lama and Tutu) this book is the fruit of a week’s visit between the two spiritual leaders and friends in Dharamsala, India to celebrate the Dalai Lama’s 80th birthday. Abrams asks the men to share their wisdom in conversations about cultivating joy in the midst of worldly troubles. I loved hearing how close the two men are, how they laugh with and tease one another. I laughed out loud quite a few times, and when it was time for them to say goodbye to one another at the end of the week, I cried. This is a five-star audio book, and I wholeheartedly recommend it for everyone, especially if you could use an emotional lift. I may end up buying a physical copy to refer to again.

My book group pick for January was Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg. Historical fiction, set in New York City in the 1920’s and ’30’s. This was a page-turner for me as I finished it in two days. Mazie, loosely based on a real-life woman, is a bold, unconventional young23245422 woman for the time, and I found myself empathizing with her even as she made some choices that I didn’t care for. There were some surprisingly sexy scenes in this book too! Our book group had a lively discussion about how successful the diary/interview format of the book was, and whether or not Mazie felt authentic to the time period. Personally I found her a big-hearted, vulnerable character who tried her best to make lemonade from the lemons that life threw her way. This was a solid four-star read, sad, but worth it.

Finally, I finished the Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante with the final installment, The Story of the Lost Child. I had finished the third novel back in February of 2016 (!) and for some reason had put off reading the fourth. I do get easily bored reading too much of the 81V-4jCgCiLsame kind of thing in succession, and I probably just got distracted by other books. In any case, I was disappointed by Lost Child. I found it tedious and too long. What I loved about the other three novels, the complicated “frenemy” relationship between the two main characters, Elena and Lila, took a back seat to Elena’s love life. Boring! Her relationship with Nino was just painful; he was such a cad and Elena just dithered and dawdled about her decisions. Oh well. At least I’m done with the series, and it was a book I own too, so that’s a plus.

Right now I’ve just started reading Nella Larsen’s Passing, and Sherman Alexie’s short story collection The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. Both are very good so far. And they’re both books I own!  I’m on a roll in that department. Right now Bosch may have stolen my attention, but I won’t let these gems linger for too long. Happy reading and have a great weekend, everyone!  Tell me, what books and television shows have caught your fancy this week?

 

 

WWW Wednesday (December 6, 2017)

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking On A World of Words.  Give her blog a look and join the discussion!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

at-mrs-lippincotesCurrently:

At Mrs. Lippincote’s by Elizabeth Taylor.  Where has this book (and this author) been all my life?  This is right up my alley.  She reminds me of Barbara Pym (one of my favorite authors.)  It is funny and sad and witty and I am excited to have her whole catalog to explore after this!518kAM5wEIL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

 

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson.  Oh my goodness.  I can only read 5-10 pages of this at a time because it makes me so damn angry.  I am learning things about Reconstruction, the Great Migration, and the aftermath of Brown V. Board of Education that I should have learned in school.  It’s making me so sad that, even though I had what most would call a “very good education,” I remained so ignorant of the history of race relations in the U.S.  It’s a very short book with lots of well-researched end notes, so I should have finished this already. But the means white people have devised to keep African Americans from achieving equality are mind-boggling and infuriating.

Recently Finished:

51gqBvjRITL._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_Silent Nights: Christmas Mysteries edited by Martin Edwards.  I’ve been wanting to try one of these British Library Crime Classics for a while now.  Uneven, like most short story collections usually are.  But there were a handful of outstanding stories, so I’m glad I read this.  (Ethel Lina White’s “Waxworks” was a story I won’t soon forget!)  I’ll be writing a review in the next week or two (she says hopefully…)

 

 

Up Next:

I’ve got a ton of books checked out right now, so I’m kind of overwhelmed by all the choices!  Here are just a few that I should read soon and get back to the library (waiting lists on a couple of these.)  But you know me – my next read might be something else randomly chosen from my shelf at home!

What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons,  The Burning Girl by Claire Messud, and Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout.

 

Read any of these?  Anything look tempting?  What have you just finished reading?

 

 

WWW Wednesday (November 22, 2017)

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking On A World of Words.  Give her blog a look and join the discussion!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently:51mAbD8758L._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Long Division by Kiese Laymon.  I’m enjoying it, but I gotta admit, I really don’t know what the heck is going on in this book!  🙂  There’s time travel, racial commentary, teenage angst, humor. It reminds me a bit of Paul Beatty’s The Sellout in tone.  It’s my book group book for this month, and I can’t wait to meet in a couple of weeks and see what everyone else makes of it!

 

Recently Finished:  My Life With Bob by Pamela Paul,  My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout, and Now You See Me (Lacey Flint #1) by S.J. Bolton.  4, 5, and 4 stars, respectively!  Reviews still to come (eventually, ha ha…)

Up Next:  Hmmm…  I’ve got Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo checked out from the library, as well as Silent Nights:Christmas Mysteries (British Library Crime Classics.)  But you know me – it could very well be something entirely different!

Read any of these?  If not, do any of them strike your fancy?  What are you currently reading?  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

 

 

 

 

WWW Wednesday (November 8, 2017)

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam at Taking On A World of Words. I’ve seen this meme around for a long time and just decided to take part today!  Give her blog a look and join the discussion!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Currently:

My Life With Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues by Pamela Paul717w6Z79NIL

 

Like Paul, I also have kept a book of books read for years (although not for as long as she has.)  I started mine in 2001. It’s actually now into a second book of books!  So far this memoir is very engaging!

 

 

Recently Finished:

The Late Show by Michael ConnellyTheLateShowUSA

One of my favorite crime/mystery novelists, this one introduces a new character, Detective Renée Ballard.  I was riveted, as I usually am with Connelly’s books.  Review to come soon!  (Possibly a mini-review.)

 

 

Reading Next:

Well, I need to start my book group book for this month, which is Long Division by Kiese Laymon.  I also need to read the next book for the #AnneReadalong2017, which is #7 in the series, Rainbow Valley by L.M. Montgomery.  But you know me, something else entirely may strike my fancy first!  🙂

Have you read any of these?  Tell me what you’re currently reading in the comments!

Catching Up

22813605I made a good decision to abandon a book this weekend.  It was tough because I really liked the author’s previous book so much.  I was highly anticipating this one, but it just felt reeeeaallllyyyy slooooowwwww and incredibly detailed, and I just didn’t feel compelled to pick it up again.  I got 90 pages in and then I had to cut bait.  I think perhaps it was just my frame of mind and I’ll try it again another time.  But, by letting it go now I was able to dive into a book I was genuinely eager to read:  Roxane Gay’s memoir Hunger.  I’m racing through it and find it most compelling.  Tough subject matter (Gay was brutally gang-raped at the age of 12, and has struggled with morbid obesity ever since) but I was prepared for that going in.  I’m drawn to books about weight and body image struggles because I’ve always been a bit on the chubby side myself and have gone through ups and down with body image my whole life.  But honestly, I think even if you’ve never experienced a “weight problem” you might still want to pick this one up.  It’s a searing examination of what it’s like to be a fat person today, in our world, with our society’s fat phobia and miniscule airline seats and reality TV shows about losing weight.  It’s a brave book, and I’m really into it so far.

51jNORv6nQLI’m also listening to an audio book that is about as far away from Hunger as one can get:  Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, read by the amazing Jim Dale.  I believe that my audio book reading for the rest of the year will be the remaining books in the series.  I’ve read them in paper form years ago, of course, but experiencing them again in this format is a true treat.  I’d forgotten how insufferable Gilderoy Lockhart was – Dale nails his smarmy voice perfectly.  I’m one disc from the end so the action is really getting good.  Yes, I listen to audio book CDs (from my library) in my car!  I haven’t succumbed to an Audible subscription yet.  I keep thinking I will one day, and then I remember the gazillion podcasts I subscribe to and listen to on my phone, so I hold off.  One day!

As for 20 Books of Summer, I’ve read books 10 and 11, but haven’t yet written about them.  Look for a mini-review post in the next few days.  I am most certainly NOT going to have read all 20 books by September 3!  At this point I honestly don’t even remember what books are on my original revised list, ha ha!  I’m pretty sure that Hunger wasn’t on there.  Oh well, who really cares?  At some point in the next couple of months I’ll have read 20 books and written about them, right?  It will all work out.  🙂

So, if you’re participating, how are you doing with 20 Books of Summer?  If you’re not, how are you at abandoning books?  Do you feel a pang of guilt, especially when it’s an author you’ve previously enjoyed?  What’s the last great audio book you listened to? let me know in the comments.