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Showing posts from September, 2017

Cloaked - Little Red Riding Hood in the Wild West

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Little Red Riding Hood meets classic Western - what a cool idea!  I was excited to read Cloaked, because I love LRRH, and fairy tales and Westerns are two of the best storytelling genres out there.  Since LRRH already has some Western elements (woods and wolves!), I was curious how the two would merge in this retelling.

The story begins with Mary Rose O'Brien boarding a stagecoach to visit her grandmother.  Mary Rose is extremely nervous because she's never met her grandma Jubilee before, yet her parents are hoping that, by making a good impression, she will mend the long rift between Mary Rose's father and Jubilee.  To make matters worse, her traveling companions are a rough-looking laborer and an over-friendly bookkeeper, and she is not sure she can trust either of them.  Mary Rose is hoping for some adventures at her grandma's Wyoming ranch, but when she arrives, she has no idea just how exciting life there will be.

Right off the bat, the narrative pulled me in with i…

Top Ten Books for Fall

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After a long, hot, dry, allergy-stricken, wildfire smoke-infused summer, we are finally getting rain again, and I love it.  Today I actually wore my thick cable-knit sweater, and my raincoat has seen a couple of outings, too.

Fall means pumpkin-flavored treats, but (as importantly) it also brings cozy moments reading a book while listening to the rain or sitting by the fire.  These are the top ten books I hope to read this fall - that is, if I can make it to ten!


1.  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum
Maybe no other book screams "autumn" like this one.  It's a re-read; I haven't read it since childhood.  The movie is one of my all-time favorites!


2.  Cloaked - Rachel Kovaciny
I was lucky enough to get an advanced reader copy of a new book by Hamlette, who blogs at The Edge of the Precipice.  So far I'm heartily enjoying it!



3.  Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia - Michael Korda
This is a long biography which I must finish by the end of the year and …

Tolkien Blog Party 2017 - Tag!

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With Hobbit Day (Sep 22nd) rapidly approaching, I was excited to see that Hamlette is again hosting a Tolkien Blog Party this year!  This will be my first time participating.  Though I haven't often mentioned J. R. R. Tolkien here, I am a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.  There is so much to unpack in Tolkien's universe of Middle Earth, and I find I discover something new every time.


The Tolkien Tag 2017

1. How long have you been a Tolkien fan?
Oh wow... it must be something like 9 or 10 years ago now!  I played violin in a community orchestra, and we were learning music from The Two Towers.  The conductor, Mr. D., tried to select a wide variety of music, including film scores from newer movies like LOTR and Pirates of the Caribbean.  I am forever indebted to his open-mindedness, because some of the other musicians were not too keen on Rohan's theme or the March of the Ents.  ;)  For me, it was a turning point.


I had heard of LOTR but knew basically nothing ab…

Reading Lessons Learned - 2017

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Usually I would save this type of post for late December.  However, more and more I'm convinced that if you need to recap something in your life or change the way you do something, there's no reason to wait for the end of the year.  As the saying goes - why save for tomorrow what you can do today?  ;)

Now, that's not to say that I won't come to any more "revelations" during the rest of this year.  I just wanted to share some things that have been on my mind lately - lessons learned, if you will - not about books specifically, but about reading itself: as a process, a journey, and a joy.




Finding Axes
In my second podcast episode, "Ice and Axes - What Makes a Favorite?", I talked about Kafka's recommendation to read a book that is "an axe for the frozen sea within [you]."  It really made a lot of sense, so I abandoned my "favorites" list and resolved to start evaluating books in this new light.  When I read now, I see if a book

The Cruise of the Snark - Jack London and his trip across the Pacific

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Jack London's squall-infused, sickness-filled, Snark-y voyage is a sailing classic and product of its time, for better and worse. Compare his tongue-in-cheek narrative with his very real sufferings, his sympathetic view of Molokai versus his feelings of white superiority, or his socialist convictions with his celebrity lifestyle, and you'll find a fully flawed, yet vivid memoir with plenty of takeaways. I would have liked to hear more about his small crew, which is why Penguin was smart to include some excerpts from Martin and Charmian in the back. Overall, an educational adventure into the South Pacific of the early twentieth century.


Angst and yawns in Ishiguro's Nocturnes

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I bet someone's said it before, so I'm repeating it now - this one's a snooze...

Don't get me wrong. I really enjoyed The Remains of the Day, and An Artist of the Floating World is one of my all-time favorite novels. I appreciate Ishiguro's writing in its most subtle and emotive form, which is what I came to expect from those two books.

Like The Buried Giant, however, Nocturnes ended up disappointing high hopes. This collection is subtitled "Five Stories of Music and Nightfall," yet the first three stories are really rehashes of the same plot, which is more about marital discord (no pun intended) than making music. The best of these three (though admittedly the most dismal) is "Malvern Hills," a peek in the life of two folk musicians and their joys and sorrows. As for the last two stories, though the relationship problems took the backseat, the main storylines were not all that intriguing and rather anticlimactic.

Side note: there is quite a bit of…