WWW Wednesday, August 14, 2019

WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking On a World of Words. Take a look at her page and tell us what you’re currently reading! I haven’t done one of these in a while and it’s a good way to post something after a little bit of a break.

The Three Ws are:

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

Currently:

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. Only about 65 pages in, so far so good. I am nervous because I think this will make me very sad but I do really enjoy Whitehead’s books and I think he’s a brilliant writer. I love the range of his work – he really can do any genre.

Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski. Y’all, I think this book might be a life-changer. Very early into it, but I find it resonating with me in a deep way. I’ll keep you posted.

Home Truths by Mavis Gallant. This was a book I was supposed to read in FEBRUARY along with Marcie @ Buried in Print as she makes her way through Gallant’s short story collections… well, here it is August and I’m still reading it. I did put it aside for a few months – whoops! Gallant’s stories are so detailed and meaty that I have to take my time with them, but they’re very good.

Recently Finished:

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The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie. There is nothing like an Agatha Christie for comfort reading in my book. This is one I hadn’t read before, the second in the Hercule Poirot series. In it, Poirot receives a letter from a man in France desperately requesting his services, but before he and Hastings can get there, he winds up murdered – in an open grave on a golf course! Of course there are multiple suspects – including a beautiful young woman whom Hastings falls in love with instantly on the train (ugh) and nicknames “Cinderella” for most of the book – because he doesn’t know her name. Hastings behaved kind of ridiculously here, but Poirot was sharp and on point with his “little gray cells,” outsmarting the young, cocky French detective on the case. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Up Next:

Hard to say, but it will be something from this bunch that I have checked out or ready to pick up at the library:

 

What have you just finished? What are you currently reading? Have you read any of these books? 

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Reading Round-up and The CC Spin Result

Hello friends, I hope you’ve had a good week! It’s time to do a little catching up and finally tell you what my Classics Club Spin result was.

Recently Finished Reading:

Tooth and Nail by Ian Rankin.

5519730This is the third book in the Inspector Rebus series. In this one the Inspector gets called down to London (from his home base of Edinburgh) to assist on a serial killer case, chasing a suspect nicknamed “The Wolfman.” There’s a lot about the psychology of serial killers here, and I liked how open-ended the case was right until the very end. Rankin highlights the tension between the English detectives and our Scottish protagonist. He’s not exactly welcomed with open arms. There’s a subplot about Rebus’s family, his daughter and ex-wife who live in London, and how he’s not exactly been the most present father. And another cringe-worthy romantic relationship – my least favorite element of these books so far. Rebus is kind of a screw-up in that area. I am not sure that I really like John Rebus, but he’s interesting and funny and complex and I like reading *about* him. And I’m a softie for a maverick detective. I eagerly anticipate getting to read the next installment.

Currently Reading:

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Start-up by John Carreyrou.

37976541I’m listening to the audio book of this from my library, and it’s BANANAS. I can’t even begin to comprehend the amount of money poured into this half-assed, shady, unethical operation. The hubris, megalomania, and privilege of Theranos’s founder, Elizabeth Holmes is mind-boggling. It’s a highly entertaining and eye-opening read. I’m ignoring my usual podcasts in favor of this book. I definitely recommend it. The narrator is nothing special, but the book is just so… wow. One heck of a story here. I’m about half way through.

Karamo: My Story of Embracing Purpose, Healing, and Hope by Karamo Brown.

43253544I’m OBSESSED with Netflix’s Queer Eye and all the guys. They are just the most joyful and kind-hearted people and their show makes me happy. So of course I’m going to read any memoir that one of them writes. (And I do like to read celebrity autobiographies.) Karamo is laying it all out there. I’m halfway through this and he’s just discussed his addiction to cocaine that nearly killed him, an interesting take on colorism and gender, and his love for his church and how he won’t let anyone cherry-pick Bible verses to denigrate who he is. He comes across just as confidently as he does on the show, and I like how he is baring all of his past mistakes honestly. I recommend this if you’re a fan of the show.

CC Spin Result:

The number chosen in Monday’s spin was 19, which means I’ll be reading Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. I’m really excited to finally read this and I own a copy already which is nice. Here is the Goodreads blurb:51MDxGgSUmL

The most nostalgic and reflective of Evelyn Waugh’s novels, Brideshead Revisited looks back to the golden age before the Second World War. It tells the story of Charles Ryder’s infatuation with the Marchmains and the rapidly-disappearing world of privilege they inhabit. Enchanted first by Sebastian at Oxford, then by his doomed Catholic family, in particular his remote sister, Julia, Charles comes finally to recognize only his spiritual and social distance from them.

Have you read this?

What have you recently finished?

The Second 200(ish) Pages of The Count of Monte Cristo

(Note: I’m making my way slowly through The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas as part of my Classics Club list. I’m reading 100(ish) pages a week and writing up my thoughts reader’s journal-style every couple of weeks.)

1088140So where did we leave off last time? Oh yes, with Dantès and the Abbe Faria, his fellow prisoner and new friend, hanging out together by way of a secret tunnel they’ve carved between their two cells. Faria is showing off his homemade tools to an incredulous Dantès. Well, we pick up in this installment with the two men talking about just how Faria got his reputation for being “mad.” Apparently he has talked for years of a massive treasure that was willed to him long ago by his former boss and friend, the Compte de Spada. (The story of how the treasure is concealed and revealed to Faria is really fun and I won’t spoil it.) Guess where this supposed treasure (Dantès is skeptical) is located? The small island of Monte Cristo! And Faria, in a touching speech, wants Dantès to have it.

“You are my son, Dantès,” exclaimed the old man. “You are the child of my captivity. My profession condemns me to celibacy. God has sent you to me to console, at one and the same time, the man who could not be a father and the  prisoner who could not get free.”

And Faria extended the arm of which alone the use remained to him to the young man, who threw himself upon his neck and wept bitterly.

Fast forward a little bit, and Dantès has indeed escaped prison. I won’t tell you HOW, because that is truly one of the most inspired bits I’ve read so far and caused me to write “OMG!” in my notes. He’s now a man of 33, fourteen years since his arrest.

Then his eyes lighted up with hatred as he thought of the three men who had caused him so long and wretched a captivity.

He renewed against Danglars, Fernand, and Villefort the oath of implacable vengeance he has made in his dungeon.

He hooks up with some amiable smugglers and assumes the identity of a shipwrecked Maltese sailor. Apparently his appearance and even his voice has undergone such a great change in his fourteen years of captivity that “it was impossible that his best friend – if, indeed, he had any friend left – could recognize him; he could not recognize himself.” I had to suspend my disbelief that no one seems to recognize him, but you just have to go with it if you’re going to continue to enjoy the story. Then, in a stroke of luck, the patron of the boat that he has sailed with for a couple of months happens to want to make some sort of clandestine exchange of goods, and which small, uninhabited island would make the best out of the way place for such an exchange? Why, Monte Cristo, of course! So Dantès is able to finally go to the island and try to devise a way to search for the treasure out of eyesight and earshot of his fellow smugglers.

Does he find the treasure? Again, I don’t want to spoil things for you, but suffice it to say that he doesn’t need to keep sailing with the crew of The Young Amelia when his term of service ends.

He charges his new friend Jacopo to venture to Marseilles on an errand, to ascertain the whereabouts of his beloved father and his former fiancee, Mercédès. The news isn’t good. Assuming various identities and accents, Dantès visits both his old pals Caderousse and M. Morrel to get more of the particulars that led to his imprisonment. After playing the silent benefactor to save Morrel from his financial troubles, Dantès leans in to his dark side, with this rousing speech:

“Farewell kindness, humanity, and gratitude! Farewell to all the feelings that expand the heart! I have been Heaven’s substitute to recompense the good – now the God of Vengeance yields to me his power to punish the wicked!”

Finally, we get a strange little diversion with the story of two young, elite Frenchman, Albert and Franz, who want to travel around Europe. The last 50 pages or so of this section are a little strange and rambling and I’m not sure exactly where it’s headed. I mean, obviously Dantès is playing the long game here in his quest for vengeance – after all, there are 1000 more pages to go!

This continues to be a very entertaining read and I’m thoroughly invested in seeing how this all plays out for Dantès. I want to see Danglars, Fernand, and Villefort get what’s coming to them, and good!  Stay tuned for more in a couple of weeks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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! 

 

 

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?