Where Are You Reading?: Update

I haven’t updated for awhile; but I am still working on the challenge!
GA: A Quiet Belief in Angels (by R.J. Ellory; narrated by Mark Bramhall)
Other Person (male): So, what have you been listening to?
ME: A Quiet Belief in Angels
OP: So how do you like it?
ME: [Long pause] Ummm, er…
OP: What?
ME: I finished it like two weeks ago and I still haven’t written the review. I don’t know what to say. There’s so much to recommend it and yet it was, well, disturbing.
OP: Why do you say that?
ME: Well, it has to do with a serial killer of little girls…
OP: Oh.
ME: Yeah.
OP: How bad was it?
ME: I almost fainted in the grocery store parking lot at that one scene where he discovers a body.
OP: Hunh. [Pause] Should I pick it up?
ME: I don’t know.
OP: Well, I’ll try it.
Two weeks later:
OP: [Standing in my doorway for a very long time]
ME: What’s up?
OP: I finished A Quiet Belief in Angels.
ME: And?
OP: Yeah… no.
ME: Do you need to sit down?
OP: Uh, yeah.
ME: [After a few minutes filled with long pauses and struggling to articulate how he/we felt about the book] I don’t think I can go there again.
OP: Yeah, me either. I mean, I couldn’t stop listening to it because I had to know how it turned out; but I wasn’t having any driveway moments either.
ME: I’m having a hard time “putting it away.” I’ve listened to two other audiobooks since then; but [sic] A Quiet Belief in Angels still looms in my mind as the last audiobook I listened to. I don’t don’t know if I can handle any more Ellory. We’ve got Anniversary Man; but I think I’ll pass for awhile. It’s another serial killer.
Two weeks later:
I got assigned to be the studio engineer for A Simple Act of Violence (by R.J. Ellory) :-/
Bracing myself, I picked up a copy and settled down to pre-read this puppy before we headed into the studio. It turns out that, even though it features another serial killer, it’s not as intense as A Quiet Belief in Angels. Set in Washington, DC, it’s more of a thriller and conspiracy revelation than a whodunit. So, despite the numerous typos and Briticisms that were supposed to have been edited out, I was relieved and happy to head into the studio.
Now, remember a couple sentences ago, when I said it wasn’t as intense as A Quiet Belief in Angels? Well, that was when I was in my 1950’s ranch house living room while I was slouched on the ugly green couch; NOT while Kevin Kenerly was murmuring those same words into my headset! I mean I knew what’s going to happen next and I still got a chill down my spine and got rachetted up in the suspense of it!
Alright, now let’s go back to the second conversation I had with Mr. Other Person in which I mentioned that I had listened to two other audiobooks since finishing A Quiet Belief in Angels. One of those books was The Last Striptease (Joseph Kozmarksi first-in-series; by Michael Wiley; narrated by Johnny Heller.) A noir novel set in present day Chicago and read by a native Chicagoan and noir aficionado, I thought this would be stylistically different enough from A Quiet Belief in Angels that I could move on from Ellory’s dark tale. Well, to be honest, I just couldn’t focus on The Last Striptease sufficiently to evaluate it. I still felt rather traumatized by A Quiet Belief in Angels; So, in all fairness to both Michael Wiley and Johnny Heller, I passed on reviewing The Last Striptease. That doesn’t mean you should skip it though. AudioFile Magazine gave it an Earphones Award and Johnny Heller cites the title as “The Best Book I Ever Narrated” (audible.com promotion.)
IL: Death Masks (The Dresden Files, #5; by Jim Butcher; narrated by James Marsters)
Eventually, I did rise above my bad mood and I got around to listening to an audiobook set in Illinois. Death Masks is the fifth in The Dresden Files series and incredibly well narrated by James Marsters. Jim Butcher is not the most careful of writers however. Stuff like naming a character Larry and them calling him Jerry; not keeping track of where the gun is and, having a character wear a short sleeve and then a long sleeve shirt in the same scene are irksome; but it’s a testament to Marsters’ talents that I keep returning to this series and consider them a personal favorite.
MS: Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter (by Tom Frankin; narrated by Kevin Kenerly)
So, while I was pre-reading A Simple Act of Violence, I was also listening to Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. Going straight from “Crooked Letter” to “A Simple Act” left a rather strange impression in my head that Silas “32” Jones had left Mississippi had headed up to Washington, DC to become a detective up there! I haven’t written a review for this one yet; but for now I will say that it was really, really good; probably a B+ if I were a rating/grading kind of girl! It’s not your classic police procedural; but rather the revealing of different layers of a situation in which a girl has disappeared and suspicion has fallen on Larry Ott. Unfortunately for Ott, his date disappeared on him decades earlier… I’m not sure why I wouldn’t grade this in the “A” range; but maybe that will come out in the review when I write it!
I’m a bit behind on keeping up with the challenge and in the end I may end up posting print book reviews of titles that qualify for the Challenge.
Congratulations to Her Royal Orangeness at Only Orangery for completing this challenge! I’m seriously in awe and envy 🙂 Check out her map!
Hosted by Sheila at her blog, Book Journey

View dogearedcopy map 2011 in a larger map


Advertisements

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesdays is a bookish meme originating with “Should Be Reading.” To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions:


  • What are you currently reading?

I’ve just started Susan Gregg Gilmore’s The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove. It’s the story of a girl who meets a boy; but the catch is that she’s a rich white girl and he’s a poor black boy and; Nashville in the pre-/anti-revolutionary 1960’s is not the time and place for such a thing. I’ve only read a couple of chapters so far; but I already know this time, these people and this place even though it happened before my time, the characters are fictional and, I’ve only been to Nashville as a tourist (stop on the pilgrimage to Graceland.) Susan Gregg Gilmore has managed to evoke the world of Bezellia, not just her surroundings, but her interior life as a girl from an old family and who is desperate for the love and affection of her mother. It’s already a little heartbreaking and painful…


  • What did you recently finish reading?

I finished reading Finn (by Jon Clinch.) It’s the backstory of Finn, Huckleberry Finn’s father from Mark Twain’s classic tales. The writing was very moody and haunting. So haunting, in fact that I had a nightmare involving elements from the book:

I was in the Texas room of a steamboat paddle wheeler. I was hiding out from Finn. All the lights were on and the heavy drapes were closed, emitting only a sliver of light from within. The idea was that no one would hide in a room with the lights on and, the curtains were probably drawn for other reasons of privacy, so Finn wouldn’t think of looking in there. I was playing  a very elaborate sort of cribbage game with my husband when, somehow, one of the drapes was drawn aside revealing me! Finn made a beeline for the boat (which was docked) and approached me with his sidekick shadowing his heels. At this point my husband and Finn’s sidekick just became bystanders. Finn, who is bald (instead of having the long black locks in the book) approaches. I don’t make a move, realizing that, with what I’m about to do, I only have one shot. He gets close and I’m thinking, “Oh shit, I’ve waiting too long…” and then , I swing a bright shiny axe and cleave his head like a watermelon. He stands there for a moment, at which instant I’m now thinking, “Oh shit, it didn’t work…” when he finally collapses to his knees. The end.

So yeah, Finn is the kind of book that inspires those kinds of dreams :-/


  • What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m leaning toward something off of my Ten on Tuesday list: A Very Bad Beginning (A Series of Unfortunate Events #1 by Lemony Snicket) because 1) I have got to get a move on with regard to the What’s in a Name? 4 Challenge! I mean BethFishReads is already plotting What’s in a Name? 5! and; 2) I need something a little lighter after Finn. The whole Finn experience may be why I’m picking my way through The Improper Life of Bezellia Grove right now. I’m somewhat sensitized to literary pain!

I’ll also be reading the same two chapters of In the Garden of Beasts (by Erik Larson) that I was supposed to be reading last week. I just didn’t get around to it and, even though no one’s keeping track of my progress, I feel a need to “catch up!” It would be too easy to let this one go and I really want to finish it.

And the same with  the next chapter of A Distant Mirror (by Barbara Tuchman.) I usually read from the Tuchman tome on Sundays; but this past Sunday I was at the Oregon State Fair which involved looking at livestock, playing games on the midway, and risking such gastronomic curiosities as Deep Fried Coca Cola…

Ten on Tuesday

                                Ten on Tuesday_08302011

Hmmm, there are a couple of ARCs in my stack that are at risk of being rendered irrelevant if I don’t get to them soon! That means that if the book is published before I get to them, I tend to back burner the ARCs indefinitely. So, after The Improper Life of Bezillia Grove, I’ll probably move the ARCs up, starting with Lamb

Ten On Tuesday: 

  1. The Improper Life of Bezillia Grove (by Susan Gregg Gilmore);
  2. Kings of the Earth (by Jon Clinch);
  3. Skeletons at the Feast (by Chris Bohjalian);
  4. Lamb (by Bonnie Nazdam);
  5. What It’s Like to Go To War (by Karl Marlantes);
  6. Hornblower During the Crises (by C.S. Forester);
  7. Little Women (by Louisa May Alcott);
  8. The Little Women Letters (by Gabrielle Donnelly); 
  9. Hornblower and the Hotspur (by C.S. Forester);
  10. The Secret in Their Eyes (by Eduardo Sacheri)

The Wreck of the Hesperus

The Wreck of the Hesperus
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

IT was the schooner Hesperus,
That sailed the wintry sea;
And the skipper had taken his little daughter,
To bear him company.

Blue were her eyes as the fairy-flax, 5
Her cheeks like the dawn of day,
And her bosom white as the hawthorn buds,
That ope in the month of May.
The skipper he stood beside the helm,
His pipe was in his mouth, 10
And he watched how the veering flaw did blow
The smoke now West, now South.
Then up and spake an old Sailòr,
Had sailed to the Spanish Main,
‘I pray thee, put into yonder port, 15
For I fear a hurricane.
‘Last night, the moon had a golden ring,
And to-night no moon we see!’
The skipper, he blew a whiff from his pipe,
And a scornful laugh laughed he. 20
Colder and louder blew the wind,
A gale from the Northeast,
The snow fell hissing in the brine,
And the billows frothed like yeast.
Down came the storm, and smote amain 25
The vessel in its strength;
She shuddered and paused, like a frighted steed,
Then leaped her cable’s length.
‘Come hither! come hither! my little daughtèr,
And do not tremble so; 30
For I can weather the roughest gale
That ever wind did blow.’
He wrapped her warm in his seaman’s coat
Against the stinging blast;
He cut a rope from a broken spar, 35
And bound her to the mast.
‘O father! I hear the church-bells ring,
Oh say, what may it be?’
‘’Tis a fog-bell on a rock-bound coast!’—
And he steered for the open sea. 40
‘O father! I hear the sound of guns,
Oh say, what may it be?’
‘Some ship in distress, that cannot live
In such an angry sea!’
‘O father. I see a gleaming light, 45
Oh say, what may it be?’
But the father answered never a word,
A frozen corpse was he.
Lashed to the helm, all stiff and stark,
With his face turned to the skies, 50
The lantern gleamed through the gleaming snow
On his fixed and glassy eyes.
Then the maiden clasped her hands and prayed
That savèd she might be;
And she thought of Christ, who stilled the wave, 55
On the Lake of Galilee.
And fast through the midnight dark and drear,
Through the whistling sleet and snow,
Like a sheeted ghost, the vessel swept
Tow’rds the reef of Norman’s Woe. 60
And ever the fitful gusts between
A sound came from the land;
It was the sound of the trampling surf
On the rocks and the hard sea-sand.
The breakers were right beneath her bows, 65
She drifted a dreary wreck,
And a whooping billow swept the crew
Like icicles from her deck.
She struck where the white and fleecy waves
Looked soft as carded wool, 70
But the cruel rocks, they gored her side
Like the horns of an angry bull.
Her rattling shrouds, all sheathed in ice,
With the masts went by the board;
Like a vessel of glass, she stove and sank, 75
Ho! ho! the breakers roared!
At daybreak, on the bleak sea-beach,
A fisherman stood aghast,
To see the form of a maiden fair,
Lashed close to a drifting mast. 80
The salt sea was frozen on her breast,
The salt tears in her eyes;
And he saw her hair, like the brown seaweed,
On the billows fall and rise.
Such was the wreck of the Hesperus, 85
In the midnight and the snow!
Christ save us all from a death like this,
On the reef of Norman’s Woe!

English Poetry III: From Tennyson to Whitman. Vol. XLII. The Harvard Classics. New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1909–14; Bartleby.com, 2001.www.bartleby.com/42/. [Date of Printout].

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesday 

 WWW Wednesdays is a bookish meme originating with “Should Be Reading.”

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions: 

  • What are you currently reading? 

Right now I’m reading Finn (by Jon Clinch.) I had read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer  and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (both by Mark Twain) earlier this year because I really couldn’t remember if I had read either Classic before and, I wanted the backstories to this take on Huckleberry Finn’s father. [In a small digression here, when I went to the library, I was extremely annoyed to discover that I couldn’t find “Tom Sawyer” on the stacks. Then I realized I was looking under “S” :-/] To his credit, Jon Clinch did not seek to emulate Twain’s writing style, instead weaving detail-rich scenes with beautifully descriptive phrases; but fair warning, neither is this a humorous satire. It is a dark novel with graphic and haunting moods.

  • What did you recently finish reading? 

I finished By Nightfall (by Michael Cunningham)  last week. It’s very much a lit-fic novel: an exploration of character more than an action-driven plot. As I mentioned before, it’s very much about the interior conflict of a white, upper-middle class guy in NYC who questions his sexuality when his brother-in-law arrives for a stay in his home. This precipitates something of a mid-life crises which, really, when all is said and done, really isn’t that interesting. Maybe there are guys who think this is pretty dramatic stuff; but um, no.

  • What do you think you’ll read next?

Next on the stack is The Improper Life of Bezillia Grove (By Susan Gregg Gilmore.) I met S.G.G. at The Books on the Nightstand Reading Retreat in 2011 and as she inscribed in my copy of the book, it was like meeting a “new old friend.” Why did I mention tis first? Because from talking with  her, I’m expecting a story that lies very close to my own family’s IRL history (and thereby resonating with me,) told with a bit of humour without being “quirky.” We shall see…

I’ll also be reading the next two chapters of In the Garden of Beasts (by Erik Larson.) It’s okay, interesting in that it is the story of Hitler’s Germany in 1933 – told through the focal lens of America’s first Ambassador to Nazi Germany, William Dodd and, his daughter, Martha; but after having worked on The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (by Grover Gardner) in its entirety last year, I’m not surprised by anything I’m reading.

I also be reading the next chapter of A Distant Mirror (by Barbara Tuchman,) a non-fiction history of England and France in the fourteenth century. I like it well enough; but it’s a shame that, being told from a secular humanist point of view, B.T. doesn’t seem to give credence to religious motivations. There is, instead a certain contempt for the religious aspect which skews the work.


Ten on Tuesday

                        Ten on Tuesday_08232011

I find the arguments about Audiobooks vs Print Books ironic because many of the audiobook listeners I know also happen to be prolific readers! 
My own print list (the next ten books on my nightstand):
 
Ten On Tuesday: 

  1. Finn (by Jon Clinch);
  2. The Improper Life of Bezillia Grove (by Susan Gregg Gilmore);
  3. Kings of the Earth (by Jon Clinch);
  4. Skeletons at the Feast (by Chris Bohjalian);
  5. Lamb (by Bonnie Nazdam);
  6. What It’s Like to Go To War (by Karl Marlantes);
  7. Hornblower During the Crises (by C.S. Forester);
  8. Little Women (by Louisa May Alcott);
  9. The Little Women Letters (by Gabrielle Donnelly);
  10. Hornblower and the Hotspur (by C.S. Forester)

BTW, The Horror Films of the 1970s (by J.K. Muir) is on my nightstand, because I’m thinking about a horror audiobook with a movie tie-in for Jenn’s/Jenn’s Bookshelves’ feature in October, Murder, Monsters, Mayhem… I like the idea of seeing a 1970s horror movie because they are so cheesy as to be irresistible! If you have any recommendations, please share!

WWW Wednesdays

                                          WWW Wednesday

“WWW Wednesdays is a bookish meme originating with “Should Be Reading.”

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions: 

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

My answers will refer to print books: 

  • What are you currently reading? 

By Nightfall (by Michael Cunningham) – So far, it sems to be about a middle-aged white man in SoHo NYC who seems to have a lot of inner angst about maybe being gay and; is definitely insecure around women. I wonder if Michael Cunningham knows Ian McEwan? Why? I dunno, maybe they could both talk about taking themselves too seriously (cf Saturday by Ian McEwan.)

  • What did you recently finish reading? 

We the Animals (by Justin Torres) – What a fierce little book! It’s about a young half- Peurto-Rican/half-white boy living somewhere north of New York City in an environment of survival. One of a pack of two parents and two other brothers, the protagonist struggles for identity amidst the pathos of love. The bathtub scene? Like a Pieta… emotionally, it slayed me. 

  • What do you think you’ll read next? 

I’m going to read the first two parts of In the Garden of Beasts (by Erik Larson.) I tried to read Devil in the White City (Erik Larson’s last big book) a couple of years ago; but without much success. I thought the writing was boring, so I’m a little wary of this other book by the same author; but this time, there’s an informal discussion about In the Garden of Beasts on the Books on the Nightstand group on goodreads, Read & discuss a book together? and I’m hoping with the group’s support I’ll be able to get through it. Why bother at all? Because I do think it will pay off in terms of being discussion-worthy and; so when other people talk about it in the future, I’ll know what we’re talking about :-/

I’ll also be reading another two chapters of A Distant Mirror (by Barbara Tuchman.) I originally started reading this as a part of a History Book Club selection; but I left the group. I still liked the idea of parsing out the book over a period of weeks so I sit in the library for a couple of hours every Sunday while my daughter attends to an Origami class. For those of you who don’t recognize the title, it’s a non-fiction history of the fourteenth century in England and France, using the de Coucy family as the focal lens.

On Sunday, I’ll be starting Finn (by Jon Clinch.) I’m not sure what it’s about exactly yet; but I did read The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (both by Mark Twain) earlier this year in anticipation of reading this book. I think it’s spin-off of Huckleberry Finn. Jon Clinch was an author at The Books on the Nightstand Retreat this past April which is where and how he came onto my reading radar.