Saturday, April 30, 2011

April Wrap Up - Hello May

Can I say how glad I am that April is over?  My reading started out well, but slowed down a bit the last (2) weeks when I got hooked on Scrabble for my iPhone.   Another reason I am glad April is through is because the last (2) days of the month I was on a  bad luck streak (28 hours and 3 bad things). Seriously, I cannot recall  (3) bad things happening in just over 24 hours.
  • My bad luck began at noon of Thursday when I decided to make popcorn for lunch in the library microwave. The mini bag said 1-3 minutes, I set it for (2) and the popcorn never popped but the bad started  smoking, and it set off the fire alarm, evacuating a class and about 100 students and staff, leaving us all to stand out in the rain for 20 minutes until we were cleared to go back inside!
  • Then at noon of Friday, I took my lunch up to the quiet floor of the library like I always do, so I could sit and read for an hour. I witnessed a suspicious individual lurking around, going in cubicles etc, and then (10) minutes later learned there had been a theft of a laptop. I had to complete a police report, a description etc.
  • Then as I was driving home from work that very same day (yesterday), I got a flat tire, and had to call AAAs. Today, was spent purchasing (2) new tires as there was a huge screw in one tire, and I ruined the sidewall driving on it trying to get to a good place to pull over. I really wanted to stay home under the covers, but ventured out after the tire purchase to do a little shopping with my daughter.  Hello May!
So this is what my month in books looked like. Not a best month by any means bit still okay.
  1. World and Town; Gish Jen - 4/5 (review)
  2. The Little Stranger; Sarah Waters - 4/5 (eBook) 
  3. Women Food and God; Geneen Roth - 4.5/5 (review)
  4. Blue Chameleon; Emily Gravett - 4/5 (library)
  5. The Night Season; Chelsea Cain - 2/5 (audio book) 
  6. Creating Great iPhone Photos; Allan Hoffman - 5/5 (review) 
  7. The Bird Sisters; Rebecca Rasmussen - 5/5 (review)
  8. Except If; Jim Averbeck - 4/5 (library)
  9. Square Cat; Elizabeth Schoonmaker - 5/5 (library)
  10. The Lake; Banana Yoshimoto - 4/5 (review) 
  11. The Easter Parade; Richard Yates - 4.5/5

  • Favorite  Fiction Book - The Bird Sisters; Rebecca Rasmussen - 5/5 (review)
  • Favorite  Childrens Book - Square Cat; Elizabeth Schoonmaker - 5/5 (library)
  • Favorite Audio Book - n/a
  • New authors -   8/11 -  YTD - 34/49
  • Review Books - 5/11 - YTD - 19/49
  • 5 star books - 3/11 -     YTD - 15/49
  • 4 star books - 7/11 -     YTD - 30/49
  • 3 star books - 0/11 -     YTD - 2/49
  • 2 star books - 1/11-      YTD - 2/49
~~~~~ Challenge Progress ~~~~~
  • 100+ Reading Challenge - 49/100
  • Reading From My Shelves Project - 20/50
  • Audio Book Challenge - 12/20
  • eBook Challenge - 5/20
  • Prepare to Be Shocked (Books Purchased /Cost 2011) - 18 books - $203.28
May Reading Plans
 Hope you had a great month in books!

Saturday Snapshot ~ April 30th

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books.  If you are interested in participating, just post a photo (new or old), but make sure it's not one that you found online. Add your link to Alyce's Saturday post for all to enjoy.

This was my daughter's 8th birthday. She is the one on the left and my son was 5 at the time.  The girl in the middle was a friend. (Photo was taken at my mom's house)

In case some of you are not familiar with this Cabbage Patch Doll Craze. The dolls (many different ones) each came with names and birth certificates. I stood in lines for hours, and recall even being wait listed for these, and the store would call you when it was your turn.  My daughter collected about (5) of them and even my son had a boy version.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Easter Parade; Richard Yates

Author: Richard Yates
Publication Year: 2001 (original (1976)
Publisher: Picador
Edition: trade softcover
Source: My Stacks
Date Completed: 4/24/2011 
Setting: New York
Rating: 4.5/5

Richard Yates was first introduced to me when I read Revolutionary Road a few years back. I loved both the book and the movie. Ever since that book,  I knew that I would want to read more of his books. So when I read the first paragraph of Easter Parade,  I was immediately drawn into the lives of the Grimes sisters.

"Neither of the Grimes sisters would have a happy life, and looking back it always seemed that the trouble began with their parents divorce. That happened in 1930, when Sarah was nine years old and Emily was five. Their mother, who encouraged both girls to call her "Pookie," took them out of New York to a rented house in Tenafly, New Jersey, where she thought the schools would be better and where she hoped to launch a career in suburban real estate.  It didn't work out--very few of her plans for independence ever did--and they left Tenafly after two years, but it was a memorable time for the girls." 

This book too deals with the disenchantment of everyday life, and the longing for something more....the illusive butterfly, that if found, would make our life just perfect. The people in this novel drink too much, make bad choices in relationships and live their lives afraid to share how they really feel.
Although this story centers around the Grimes sisters, the reader gets a feel early on for the discontent in the lives of their parents, which results in divorce in 1930. Their mother Pookie is a dreamer; she's demanding, always interested in image, and detached from the needs of her children. The father too is distant and detached. He drinks too much, is dissatisfied with his job as copy desk man for the Sun newspaper, and his life is that of a lonely man.  But the story is really about the Grimes sisters. They were born (4) years apart, and their story covers a span of about (40) years.

Sarah, is the oldest and was always seen as the pretty one. She grows up confident, marries young as soon as she gets out of school. She moves to the suburbs, to an estate owned by her husband's family, and has (3) sons, one after another. Her marriage is far from perfect.

"She served lunch that was almost as inadequate as one of Pookie's meals; the the problem was that the conversation just kept petering out. Sarah wanted to hear everything about Barnard, but when Emily began to talk she saw her sister's eyes glaze over in smiling boredom. Pookie said, 'Isn't this nice? Just the three of us together again? But it wasn't really very nice at all, and for most of the afternoon they sat around the sparsely furnished living room in attitudes of forced conviviality, Pookie smoking many cigarettes and dropping ashes on the rug, three women with nothing much to say to one another."
Emily was the shy one. She was smart, and goes off to Barnard College on a full scholarship. Shes becomes a career woman, and although she does marry, the marriage is brief, and her relationships with men become not much more than a string of unsatisfying relationships with weak and insecure men.

"The tears, as always before in her life were wholly for herself--for poor, sensitive Emily Grimes whom nobody understood, and who understood nothing."

The thing that made this novel so sad, yet so very moving at the same time, was the fact that each sister was miserable with how their life turned out yet, they envied the life that the other one had.  Although I never had a sister, I felt deeply for the Grimes sisters, and rooted for each of them at different times.

If you love fine literature and an author who can pull you into the lives of his characters, then I know you will enjoy The Easter Parade. If I had to change one thing about this novel, I would have liked to have had it told in alternating POVs instead of just Emily.  Despite this, I would highly recommend this book.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday - The White Woman on the Green Bicycle; Monique Roffey

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating! Want to participate? Post your own WOW entry on your blog, and leave your link at Breaking the Spine. Here's my pick for this week (it was actually released yesterday):

 Penguin - April 26, 2011

A beautifully written, unforgettable novel of a troubled marriage, set against the lush landscape and political turmoil of Trinidad

Monique Roffey's Orange Prize-shortlisted novel is a gripping portrait of postcolonialism that stands among great works by Caribbean writers like Jamaica Kincaid and Andrea Levy.

When George and Sabine Harwood arrive in Trinidad from England, George is immediately seduced by the beguiling island, while Sabine feels isolated, heat-fatigued, and ill-at-ease. As they adapt to new circumstances, their marriage endures for better or worse, despite growing political unrest and racial tensions that affect their daily lives. But when George finds a cache of letters that Sabine has hidden from him, the discovery sets off a devastating series of consequences as other secrets begin to emerge.

What's your pick for the week?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

First Chapter~First Paragraph~Tuesday Intros

I am trying to be more selective with my books lately, hoping to read MOSTLY books I'll truly love.  To increases my chances of that actually happening, I've begun selecting what I read next, by whether the first paragraph grabs me. I know this isn't very scientific and I risk passing over some good books in the process, but for now, this is my book selection method.

Every Tuesday, I'll be posting the opening paragraph (maybe two) of my current read.  Last week's choice was Easter Parade, by Richard Yates, which I really enjoyed (no review yet). This week's selection is another Richard Yates book:

 Disturbing the Peace; Richard Yates

"Everything began to go wrong for Janice Wilder in the late summer of 1960. And the worst part, she always said afterwards, the awful part, was that it seemed to happen without warning.

She was thirty-four and the mother of a ten-year-old son. The fading of her youth didn't bother her--it hadn't been a very carefree or adventurous youth anyway--and if her marriage was more an arrangement than romance, that was all right too. Nobody's life was perfect. She enjoyed the orderly rotation of her days; she enjoyed books, of which she owned a great many; and she enjoyed her high, bright apartment with its view of midtown Manhattan towers. It was neither a rich nor an elegant apartment, but it was comfortable--and 'comfortable' was one of Janice Wilder's favorite words. She was fond of the word 'civilized', too, and of 'reasonable' and 'adjustment' and 'relationship'. Hardly, anything upset or frightened her: the only things that did--sometimes to the point of making her blood run cold--were the things she didn't understand."

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think?  Please feel free to join in, First Chapter~First Paragraph~Tuesday Intros.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mailbox Monday ~ April 25th

Hosted in April at Passages To The Past

These weeks mail arrivals were:
Hope your mailbox was full of pleasant surprises as well.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday Salon

It's been a while since I participated in the Sunday Salon, but I wanted to take the time to wish those of you who celebrate Passover or Easter, a happy holiday.

Do you have any plans for either holiday? We celebrate both Passover and Easter, but are having a low key holiday. Our condo house is in a state of disarray as we're in the midst of a pretty major painting project. 

The painter has been here (3) days so far and probably another (2) maximum. Most of our rooms have cathedral ceilings so it's a bigger job than most. We had our kitchen, which opens to the dining room and  living room, and the staircase leading to the open loft from the living room painted a color called "alpaca", which is taupe/grey color. It looks fabulous with our white woodwork, so we are really pleased.  Our master bedroom, and master bath was painted a color called: "raindrop" which is in the blue/green family, almost an aqua --very pleased with that as well.  And, the final job this round, is our finished basement, and the walls will be a very very light blue color called "byte" (to be done on Monday/Tuesday).

And, since we were holed up in our family room yesterday while the painters were here, we watched The King's Speech, which we absolutely loved. I mean seriously, is there anyone who did not love this academy award winner?  I'm actually wanting to read the book as well now and see how closely it follows the true story. Has anyone read the book and seen the movie? What were your thoughts?

Can you guess what I've been doing instead of reading this week?  I am
totally addicted to the Scrabble app for iPhones. You can play against the computer, or play against your friends.  Lately, I've been played against my daughter, and we generally have (2) games going at a time.  Occasionally, at work, when I am doing a particularly mindless task, I am able to engage in a game of Scrabble as well.  Do any of you play Scrabble for iPhones? If you'd like to play sometime, email me: bibliophilebythesea AT gmail DOT com, and I'll invite you to play a game. We can complete it leisurely over the course of a few days as well, if that works out better for you.

As for my reading, I am still reading The Easter Parade, about (30) pages a day as I am really enjoying it and don't want to rush through it.  It has caused me to order several more books by Richard Yates.

I am also listening to a Stephen King book (totally not me), but I am hooked...LOL The title is Full Dark, No Stars, and the readers are awesome. I guess for me, sometimes you just have to shake things up a bit.

 I did stay home from work on Monday and Tuesday after some mysterious bug, but I really just lazed around and was unable to focus on any reading those (2) days.

Did you have a good week?  This week's weather outlook is 70 degree weather, but rain, rain, rain. Hope your coming week is perfect. Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Saturday Snapshots - April 23rd

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce of At Home With Books.  If you are interested in participating, just post a photo (new or old), but make sure it's not one that you found online. Add your link to Alyce's Saturday post for all to enjoy.

Niles and Lily in 2006

Niles and Freckles (2007)

Niles was the largest cat we ever had. A  23lb long haired, gentle giant.  Niles had manners. He always let the other cats eat first, and then served as clean up cat, so that I rarely had to do extra dishes (LOL).  He had a loud snore and he loved to sleep on my chest or stomach, at least until I had to move him so that I could catch my breath from his weight on top of me. He had to prop himself against a wall to groom himself. He immediately took to Freckles, and he to him, when we got Freckles as a kitten in 2003. They were truly best buddies.

All that changed when Niles, and indoor/outdoor cat disappeared in the Spring of 2008. Our RI home is in a wooded area and a neighbor told us they spotted a coyote and a FISHER in the area. One of their favorite prey is cats, especially light colored ones - easier to spot evidently. We were never sure what happened to our Niles, as we hung photos, put his picture in nearby mailboxes etc., but around that time several other neighborhood cats seemed to disappear as well.  It was a huge loss. Since that time, none of our cats go outside....they adjusted and we are happy we made this decision.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday ~ The Marriage Plot; Jeffrey Eugenides

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating! Want to participate? Post your own WOW entry on your blog, and leave your link at Breaking the Spine. Here's my pick for this week:

The Marriage Plot - I squealed with excitement when I heard about this author's fall 2011 book. (2) of his earlier books were favorites of mine, and definite keepers: Middlesex and The Virgin Suicides. Run out and read these if you haven't already done so.
 Jeffrey Eugenides
The Marriage Plot (no cover image yet)
Oct. 11, 2011 - Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Madeleine Hanna was the dutiful English major who didn't get the memo. While everyone else in the early 1980s was reading Derrida, she was happily absorbed with Jane Austen and George Eliot: purveyors of the marriage plot that lies at the heart of the greatest English novels. Madeleine was the girl who dressed a little too nicely for the taste of her more Bohemian friends, the perfect girlfriend whose college love life, despite her good looks, hadn't lived up to expectations.

But now, in the spring of her senior year, Madeleine has enrolled in a semiotics course "to see what all the fuss is about," and, for reasons that have nothing to do with school, life and literature will never be the same. Not after she falls in love with Leonard Morton?charismatic loner, college Darwinist, and lost Oregon boy?who is possessed of seemingly inexhaustible energy and introduces her to the ecstasies of immediate experience. And certainly not after Mitchell Grammaticus?devotee of Patti Smith and Thomas Merton?resurfaces in her life, obsessed with the idea that Madeleine is destined to be his mate.

The triangle in this amazing and delicious novel about a generation beginning to grow up is age-old, and completely fresh and surprising. With devastating wit, irony, and an abiding understanding of and love for his characters, Jeffrey Eugenides resuscitates the original energies of the novel while creating a story so contemporary that it reads like the intimate journal of our own lives.

The author of two beloved novels, Middlesex (bestselling winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize, with more than 3 million copies sold) and the now classic The Virgin Suicides (made into a haunting film by Sofia Coppola), is back?with a brilliant, funny, and heartbreaking novel about the glories and vicissitudes of young love.