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In all probability, I will not be posting again until Wednesday, June 2nd.

Tomorrow, I’m getting on a plane and heading to Tennessee to visit family.  I will be seeing my parents, siblings, the Nashville Parthenon, and hopefully this adorable face:

That’s my niece, daughter of my favorite brother.  (I am allowed to have favorites, right?)

Even though I grew up in middle TN, I am open to recommendations for book stores, yarn shops, restaurants, whatever.. in the area between Nashville, TN and Florence, AL.  I already hope to go to:  Bookman Bookwoman Used Books and Haus of Yarn (both in Nashville).  Bookman used to be my very favorite bookstore, until I moved to the Midwest and discovered Chicago’s Myopic Books, which is open till 1 AM most nights.

Tuesday, I will be heading back to the airport and I hope to safely see this:

That’s the Chicago skyline, as seen from the plane the first time I flew in.

I will leave you with only one book for Friday Finds this week, but it is one I’m quite excited to have found.

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier was reviewed by Heather over at “Age 30+ … a Lifetime of Books” last Friday.

She says:

“I was fascinating by the history of fossil hunting and the way accepted “facts” about fossils were beginning to change. The newly developing ideas of an ancient earth, the concept of extinction, the budding conflict between religion and science – all these topics were fascinating to me. Then there was the situation of women in society, the class distinctions, the concepts of property and propriety … there was just so much in this book that I loved!”

I’d seen this book around before, even admired the cover art, and then dismissed it completely for some reason.. without even reading a synopsis.  What kind of book lover am I?  Even though I’m not a huge historical fiction fan (okay, I haven’t actually tried a lot of historical fiction), Heather’s review made this one sound fascinating.  The storyline sounds great, the writing sounds great.. it all sounds peachy.  I’m going to try to get my hands on this one soon.

Have you read Remarkable Creatures?  Thoughts?  Link to your review?  Any recommendations for fun TN stuff to do?  Let me know!

Friday Finds at Should Be Reading

(Friday Finds is a weekly meme hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading.)

 

It’s Teaser Tuesday – hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

My first teaser:

“‘Like all good Bangalore stories, mine begins far away from Bangalore.  You see, I am in the Light now, but I was born and raised in Darkness.”

From The White Tiger by Aravind Adiga (pg 11).  This was recommended to me by a geography professor.  When I brought it home from the library, Ryan read it and enjoyed it.  So far, so good.

 

Another teaser:

“. . . she would have despised the modern idea of women being equal to men. Equal, indeed! she knew they were superior.”

From Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell.  I’m not actually reading this right now, but I read the first part of it recently in my British Lit class and …

Allie (at A Literary Odyssey) is hosting a Cranford read-along in June.  I’ll be joining, and would like to invite you to consider reading along with us.  Full details can be found at Allie’s blog.

 

Friday Finds is a weekly meme hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading. Each Friday, bloggers are invited to post about potentially great books we’ve heard about/discovered this week.

Here are my finds:

The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff.  Jennifer reviewed this over at Rundpinne.  She says: “The reader is introduced to Greta and Einar Wegener, both painters yet with differing subjects, Greta paints portraits and Einar paints landscapes, yet each is devoted to supporting the other’s works, dreams and desires. In 1925 Greta needed Einar to don a pair of hose and shoes to finish a portrait, since Anna had canceled yet again, and during this session Lili was born. Ebershoff’s novel is very loosely based on the first transgender surgery performed in 1931 on artist Einar Wegener who became known as Lili Elbe.”

I have to admit, I’ve known about this novel since it first came out 10 years ago.  Because I bought it.  And read it.  I bought it for the cover (a different one, a painting), which was beautiful.  Only I was around 14 or 15, and so I’m not sure how much I was able to get out of it at the time.  So I’d like to read it again.  Thanks, Jennifer, for the reminder.


Fugitives and Refugees: A Walk in Portland, Oregon by Chuck Palahniuk.  This was reviewed over at Fizzy Thoughts.  She says: “there is also plenty of information about where you can go to watch (and participate in) lewd movies (seriously people, there’s some weird shit happening in Portland), where to stay if you’d like to see a ghost, how to talk like a local, Santa hijinks, how to eat at the Apocalypse Café, and what Katherine Dunn (yes, the author of Geek Love) thinks of her fellow Portlanders (is that the right term?).”

 

I’d never heard of it, and I’m not really a Palahniuk fan.  (Okay, I’ve only read Fight Club).  But I am a fan of Katherine Dunn, so I’d like to pick it up just for her thoughts.


A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry.  This was reviewed by Matt over at A Guy’s Moleskin Notebook.  He says: “A Fine Balance is a roiling swirl of humanity. Adopting the voice of an epic rather than polemic, the novel captures the sufferings of the outcasts and innocents who try to survive the “State of Emergency” in 1970s when, under Indira Gandhi, India becomes a country ruled by thugs who maim and kill for money and power. It depicts a time when bribery is rife, starvation ubiquitous, and artificial calamity incessant.”

 

I’ve seen this book around, and the cover both intrigued me and put me off, but I never really looked much farther than that.  Matt’s review put this firmly on my “to-read” list.  Thanks, Matt!


The Making of a Marchioness by Frances Hodgson Burnett.  This was reviewed by Carolyn at A Few of My Favorite Books.  She says: “At first it seems to remain just a normal sweet little English story, but gradually it ventures into some very unexpected ground, that seems much more like a Victorian sensation novel! […] For a while it becomes almost eerie, Emily seems trapped in this beautiful English country house, pregnant, with her husband gone off on a business jaunt to India, while the people who would have inherited her husband’s estate if he hadn’t gotten married or if she hadn’t gotten pregnant, come back from India and scheme to get the inheritance anyhow…”

 

My first book review on this blog was of Burnett’s The Secret Garden, which I just love.  I was unaware that she wrote any adult novels, and I’m really looking forward to seeing if it’s just as enjoyable.

Upcoming: Review of The Graveyard Book tomorrow, and East of Eden review to follow in a few days.

 

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

  • My teaser:

    “‘The evil and ugly, the distorted and slimy, the worst things human can think up are for sale there.  The crippled and crooked come there for satisfaction.”

    From East of Eden by John Steinbeck (pg 352).  I’ve had this one on the back-burner a while due to classes, but I’ve picked it back up and am getting through it rather quickly now.

     

    Another teaser:

    “He began, instead, to sketch the patterns of the grid on his wife’s leg in the margins of the errata copies, invading neat lines about the essential nature of trains and their conductors with serpents and winds.  When Lucia dressed to go out in the evening, he begged her to stay, to crook her knee for him, to let him touch the stain, the grid, the map.”

    From Palimpsest by Catherynne M. Valente (pg 32).  I’m about 70 pages into this one and still unsure how I feel about it.  It was on the Hugo Award shortlist this year, but didn’t win.

    To play along with your own teaser, post your link or share you teaser in the comments over at Should Be Reading.  And share your links with me, too.  I’d love to read your teasers!

    Musing Mondays is hosted by Rebecca at Just One More Page.

    Today she asks:

    “Do you have to carve out time in your day for reading (due to work and other obligations), or does your reading just happen naturally? (Question courtesy of MizB)”

    I never really schedule my reading time.  Most of my reading gets done between my last class for the day and dinner; the time spent depends on how much homework I have to do, but I almost always have time to read for a little while at least.

    If Ryan’s really into a book, it’s easier to get reading time in after dinner because we’ll sit and read together.

    And, of course, I listen to audiobooks as well which allows me to sneak in “reading time” while I’m driving, knitting, cleaning, etc.  There’s not a certain hour of the day when I always feel like reading, so I’m glad I don’t have to try and schedule time for it.

    What about you?  Share your Musings Monday link with me!

    Show Me 5 Saturday is a meme concept by That’s a Novel Idea.  Please head on over to her blog if you’d like to participate!

    (Note: While I usually reserve Saturday’s for children’s/YA books, Fool is definitely NOT kid-friendly.)

    1 Book you read and/or reviewed this week: Fool, by Christopher Moore

    2 Words that describe the book: bawdy, laugh-out-loud-funny

    3 Settings where it took place or characters you met:

    • Pocket of Dog Snogging  – The narrator.  Dog Snogging being the name of the abbey where he was brought up.  Pocket is jester in the court of King Lear.. the one man allowed to “speak truth to nobility.”  He takes advantage of that position rather well.
    • Jones –‘Jones,’ said Taster, pointing to my jester’s scepter, Jones, who is, indeed, a smaller version of my own handsome countenance, fixed atop a sturdy handle of polished hickory. Jones speaks for me when even my tongue needs to exceed safe license with knights and nobles, his head pre-piked for the wrath of the dull and humorless. My finest art is oft lost in the eye of the subject.”
    •  Edmond of Gloucester – Illegitimate son of the Earl of Gloucester; Unable to inherit his father’s estate due to his illegitimacy, he will stop at nothing to change his fate.

    4 Things you liked and/or disliked about it:

    • I liked to listen to it!  Ryan and I listened to the audio cd in the car together daily, and while it seems like it would be a funny read, it was HILARIOUS to hear.  The reader does a fantastic job with voices, flow, and punctuating the jokes correctly.  I definitely recommend this format.
    • I like that I now know the story of Shakespeare’s King Lear without having to read the real version.  Some of the dialogue is directly takan from Shakespeare’s version.  However, the plot isn’t exactly the same in Fool.  It’s very accurate until the end, at which point it’s very different.  But, I read the King Lear wikipedia page to compare, so I still know the original version now 😉
    • I do think that it was much more funny in the beginning and middle.  Towards the last third of the novel, it got very focused on tying up the plot and well.. the plot is fairly tragic and not that funny.  I still liked it, just not as much as at first.
    • I like that Christopher Moore is still alive, writing, and prolific.  That doesn’t have a lot to do with this particular book, but let me explain.  I read a lot of books by long dead people.  So, when I really like a book by a new author, I try to wait a couple of years before reading another of their works.  I realize they’re obviously not going to be writing any more, and I want to spread the reading out so I won’t run out of stuff to read by them.  Jane Austen, Daphne du Maurier, Thomas Hardy, Virginia Woolf.  But Moore has quite a few books out, and he’s still writing.. so I can obey my instinct to run out and immediately read half of his books!  Hurrah. 🙂

    5 stars or less for your rating? A shaky 4.  It was a very solid 4 until the last disc or so when Ryan and I were both just ready for it to hurry up and end.  It wasn’t as funny at that point, and neither of us really get into extremely plot-driven books, which is what it became.  Nonetheless, the first 5 discs were so fabulous and fun that I’ll still call it a 4.  Read it.. no, listen to it!

    Show Me 5 Saturday is a meme concept by That’s a Novel Idea.  It is now hosted by Jenners at Find Your Next Book Here.

    1 Book you read and/or reviewed this week: The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo

    2 Words that describe the book: fun, heartwarming

    3 Settings where it took place or characters you met:

    • The Dungeon – A maze underneath the castle devoid of light, full of rats.  It is rare that anyone emerges from the dungeon once they enter it.
    • Miggery Sow – A girl named for her father’s favorite pig, and now a pretty-much-orphan.  She longs to be a Princess, but no one ever asks her what she wants.
    • Gregory – The jailor.  He lives in the dungeon, keeping track of the inmates.  Even he doesn’t know all of the windings of the dungeon, and must have a rope tied to his ankle so he doesn’t get lost.  He knows all about the nature of rats.

    4 Things you liked and/or disliked about it: 5 Stars or less for your rating?

    • I like that it’s so darn quoteable.  I found myself dog-earing pages with fantastic lines.  “Reader, you must know than an interesting fate (sometimes involving rats, sometimes not) awaits almost everyone, mouse or man, who does not conform.” and “Desperaux marveled at his own bravery.  He admired his own defiance.  And then, reader, he fainted.”
    • I like that the author doesn’t shy away from words children might not know, but encourages her readers to learn them instead.  “At least Lester had the decency to weep at his act of perfidy.  Reader, do you know what ‘perfidy’ means?  I have a feeling you do, based on the little scene that has just unfolded here.  But you should look up the word in your dictionary, just to be sure.”
    • I liked the beginning and middle better than the end.  The ending was rather abrupt and anticlimactic.  But, being a children’s book, there probably wasn’t much else she could do with it.
    • I liked that the author used literary devices, encouraging children to think about the themes of light and dark, the symbolism of the red thread.  She also encouraged readers to celebrate their differences.  Also, she seems to celebrate words, and addresses the reader as ‘reader.’  I wonder if some children, reading this book, are called ‘reader’ for the first time, instilling a sense of bookish identity on them.  I rather like that thought.

    5 stars or less for your rating? Three stars.  I didn’t like it as much as the last children’s book I read (of Roald Dahls), but it was a different sort of book and set out to accomplish different sorts of things, which I think it did wonderfully.  I don’t know that the story will stick with me, but I think it is a book that I would really encourage my child to read.

     

     

    Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
  •  

    MMy teaser:

    “‘That’s it, Matilda.  Now you know something no one else on this whole island knows.'”

    From Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones.  It was hard to find two lines in the book that were really attention-grabbing.  These are somewhat mediocre, but they’ll do.

    Mrs. DallowayAnother:

    “It was like running one’s face against a granite wall in the darkness.  It was shocking; it was horrible!”

    From Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.  Now that’s better.

     

    To play along with your own teaser, post your link or share you teaser in the comments over at Should Be Reading.  And share your links with me, too.  I’d love to read your teasers!

    Show Me 5 Saturday is a meme hosted by That’s a Novel Idea.  You can find Mr. Linky if you’d like to post your own at Find Your Next Book Here. Original hostess is MIA.

    Going Solo by Roald Dahl1 Book you read and/or reviewed this week Going Solo by Roald Dahl 2 Words that describe the book: adventurous, heartbreaking 3 Settings where it took place or characters you met:

    • Africa – The first setting of the book is Africa.  Dahl is working here before/when World War II breaks out.  Dahl captivates the reader with description of the black mamba, giraffes, and all manner of wild things.
    • Mdisho – Roald Dahl’s “boy” when he was working in Africa.  This boy ironed Dahl’s shirts, polished his sword, and basically did whatever Dahl asked.  Dahl taught Mdisho how to read and write.  Mdisho has warrior’s blood running through him, and when he does something that could get him in great trouble, Dahl shows wisdom and compassion.
    • Greece – This is where Dahl spent the majority of his combat time in World War II.  Having been trained as a fighter pilot, he joins his squadron here.  To his dismay, he finds that he is only one of fifteen pilots allotted to protect the whole of Greece against hundreds or thousands of German planes.  His “adventures” here constitute the majority of the book.

    4 Things you liked and/or disliked about it: 5 Stars or less for your rating?

    • I liked the format.  All the chapters were connected and chronological, but they could have almost have been read as stand-alone stories.  There were no cliff-hangers, so I could read a couple of chapters and put the book down without being tempted to peak at the beginning of the next.
    • I liked that it was more adult that Boy which came before it.  It was still in the junior section at the library, but I really feel like the subject matter is for more mature readers, even if the writing style is just as easy to read.  While there was high adventure, there was also war and death and weeks stuck in a hospital bed.
    • I love Dahl’s writing.  His stories, especially these, often make me hold me breath as the action plays out.  While he doesn’t spend a lot of time on wordy descriptions, he gives the correct details to allow you to see the setting.  Reading his work is a wonderful experience.
    • I liked that it was sort-of educations.  I got a little geography lesson, learned some Swahili words, learned a bit about the animals and cultures of the place he traveled.  Fabulous.

    5 stars or less for your rating? 4.  It wasn’t one of the greatest books I’ve ever read, but it was certainly better than mediocre.  It was captivating, fun, heart-wrenching, and just generally Dahl-esque.  I recommend it heartily.

    Friday Finds at Should Be Reading

    Friday Finds is a weekly meme hosted by MizB over at Should Be Reading. Each Friday, bloggers are invited to post about potentially great books we’ve heard about/discovered this week.

    Here are my finds:

    So Much For That

    Connie (over at Constance Reader) enthusiastically reviewed Lionel Shriver’s book, So Much for That, last week.  The story goes like this: Shep, dreaming of moving to a developing country to live simply, saves for years for the move.  Once he feels his bank account is adequate, he tells his wife he’s quitting his job and moving.  She can go or not.  Unfortunately, she asks him not to go, revealing that she has been diagnosed with cancer and needs to keep his health insurance.  He sets aside his dream, and watches his savings dwindle as he pays for what his insurance policy won’t cover, which ends up being quite a bit.

    I’ve not read, or even heard of Lionel Shriver, and I have to say I’m often wary of books “with an agenda.”  But Connie assures us that it’s not all about health insurance, that’s it has a lot to say about people, about dreams, about life.  I read the first couple of pages on amazon, and was fairly impressed.  It’s high up on my to-read list.  Thanks, Connie, for pointing me to it.


    Impatient With DesireCaribousmom reviewed Gabrielle Burton’s Impatient With Desire last week.  Though the book title does nothing for me, the cover art is absolutely fantastic.  Kudos to the artist.

    Apparently, the story mostly portrays the women of The Donner Party, a group of pioneers heading to California.  Delayed by the new route they took, they spent a long winter in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, many dying from illness and starvation, others resorting to cannibalism to survive.  Caribousmom’s review is fascinating, and I hope to be able to say the same thing about the novel eventually.


    Over at Find Your Next Book Here, Jenners took a vacation.  When she returned, she said a few words about the books she read (on the beach!).

    Admittedly, the Mister has been trying to get me to read Sarah Water’s Fingersmith for a couple of years.  But the Mister has a habit of getting me to read books that he is interested in (but hasn’t read) so that I can tell him about the book and he can decide if he should bother reading it.  So I often ignore his recommendations.

    But Jenner’s glowing (perhaps it was all the sun) words about the book made me do a double-take.  Heading on over to amazon, I see that it is described like this:

    “Fingersmith is the third slice of engrossing lesbian Victoriana from Sarah Waters. … This hypnotic suspense novel is awash with all manner of gloomy Dickensian leitmotifs: pickpockets, orphans, grim prisons, lunatic asylums, “laughing villains,” and, of course, “stolen fortunes and girls made out to be mad.”

    Well, okay then.  Just don’t tell the Mister I’ll be reading it.


    Troll: A Love StoryEva over at A Striped Armchair posted a fascinating review of Troll: A Love Story by Johanna Sinisalo.  Eva says: “It’s like a fable, thriller, meditation on sex and love and the morality of both, all stuffed into one slim book.”  I can’t describe the plot in any way that does justice to it, so go read Eva’s review!

    I’ve put this one on hold at my library, and can’t wait to get my hands on it.

    What books did you discover this week?