Titles Finished Totals:
- Books: 1,013
- Poetry: 75
- Short stories: 50
Total for 2016 so far: 95 titles (including Early Review and fun books).
All titles left to go: 4,598
Next count: 10/3/2016
Woodson, Jacqueline. Hush. Read by Sisi Aisha Johnson. New York: Recorded Books, 2002.
Reason read: October is Teenage Hero Month somewhere in the world. This is a book best for teens.
Hush began with a question in Jacqueline Woodson’s head. After hearing about a story about someone entering the witness protection program she asked herself what if that happened to me? She began to imagine how someone’s entire world would be turned upside down. And what if what that someone was a pubescent child with a best friend, a family and school? Someone just barely starting to find her own identity? Meet Evie Thomas. She was born to a policeman father and a school teacher mother and with her sister started her young life in Denver, Colorado. Her name used to be Toswia Green. She had a best friend. She had a nice house to live in. She used to have security in every sense of the word. Now all of that is gone. She has to start all over with friends, with school, with a new (and tiny) apartment, with her family and herself. Evie has no idea who she is anymore.
Book trivia: Hush is appropriate for children aged 11 and up. Confessional: I was getting pretty annoyed with Evie when she kept mentioning all the material things she used to have in her old life. Gone was the spacious house and nice clothes. Her mother even became a Jehovah’s Witness so they ceased to celebrate holidays. Gone were the presents and festivities. As an adult, I understand the gravity of the situation, but had to remind myself as a child, these changes would be hard to take.
Author fact: Woodson has a website here.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Best for Teenagers” (p 24).
Coles, Manning. Drink to Yesterday. Boulder: Rue Lyons Press, 1940.
Drink to Yesterday is based on the life of Cyril Henry Coles. Like his character, Michael Kingston (given name)/William Saunders (alias when he signed up in the military)/Dirk Brandt (spy name), Coles lied about his age and enlisted at 16 in the British army during World War I. His actions remind me a lot of my father. He too, left home and joined the service at 16.
William Saunders proves to be invaluable to the Foreign Intelligence Office when his fluency in conversational German is discovered. He goes on to have some harrowing and exciting experiences with his mentor, Tommy Hambledon. As Dirk Brandt, Saunders spends so much time behind enemy lines that he develops an entirely dual life for himself. After the war is over he has a hard time separating the two. His relationship with two separate women is heartbreaking. The end of Drink to Yesterday leaves the door open for its sequel, Toast to Tomorrow.
Reason read: Germany plays a big part in this story & October is Oktoberfest.
Quote that caught my eye, “Bill soon acquired the knack of moving quietly since it is wonderful how quickly you can learn when your life depends on it” (p 43).
Author fact: Cyril Coles was the youngest member of the Foreign Intelligence Office.
Book trivia: Drink to Yesterday opens with a list of cast of characters, much like a script for a play.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Intriguing Novels” (p 124).
Virgil. The Aeneid. Translated by Robert Fitzgerald. New York: Everyman’s Library, 1992.
Reason read: Great Britain celebrates poetry in the month of October. Virgil’s birth month is in October as well.
This is another one of those stories that has been reviewed a thousand and one, maybe two, times in this year alone. What could I possibly add that hasn’t already been said? Nothing! But, here are my observations: The Aeneid is a true adventure – a look towards the future and the promises made. There are twelve books in the epic poem. The first six cover Aeneas and his wanderings after surviving the Trojan war. The second half of the poem are the Trojan War.
And having said that, Aeneas reminds me of Dorothy Dunnett’s character, Francis, from the Lymond series. He is that deeply flawed hero that everyone loves. Much like how Gregory Maguire chose to tell the story of the wicked witch of the west, Virgil tells the other side of the Trojan War story. Instead of following Odysseus, we focus on Aeneas, the defeated Trojan.
All the usual suspects are there: Neptune, Venus, Achilles, Cupid, Pygmalion, Juno, Dido…
Quote I liked, “I sing of warfare and a man at war” (p 4 – the opening line). What promise that line brings!
Author fact: The Aeneid was the last thing Virgil was working on before his death.
Book trivia: The first edit of The Aeneid happens on the anniversary of my father’s passing, September 21st.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Poetry: a Novel Idea” (p 186).
Chamoisseau, Patrick. Texaco. New York: Pantheon Books, 1997.
Reason read: October is the month for magical realism.
Disclaimer: I usually have a hard time with magical realism and I had already tried to read this book once before.
This sweeping saga traces one hundred and fifty years of Martinique history. Mostly told from the point of view of Marie-Sophie Laborieux, the daughter of a former slave, texaco is the story of a shantytown of the same name besieged from every angle. From within, the society is wrathful and distrusting. From without everyone is a stranger. The language is mystical but I found my mind wandering as a result.
As I mentioned earlier, I tried reading this once before and failed. No different this time around.
Lines I liked, “The answers to this question were so abundant that the real truth forever slipped through our fingers” (p 10) and “It didn’t take them two centuries to decide what to do” (p 55).
Author Fact: Chamoisseau also wrote Chronicle of the Seven Sorrows which is on my list.
Book Trivia: Texaco is a Prix Goncourt winner.
BookLust Twist: from two places. First, in Book Lust in the chapter called, “Magical Realism” (p 148) and second, in More Book Lust in the chapter called, “The Contradictory Caribbean: Pleasure and Pain” (p 56).
Skibell, Joseph. A Blessing on the Moon. Read by Allen Rickman. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 2010.
Reason read: Halloween is a-coming and this is scary in a tickle your funny bone kind of way.
This is a startling Holocaust story. Right from the beginning the language grips you and grips you hard. Chaim Skibelski, a 60 year old Polish man, is shot along with hundreds of fellow Jews. He has been left to bleed out in a stinking heap. Murder doesn’t turn out to be very peaceful for Chaim. As a ghost-like entity caught between Life and The World to Come, he is condemned to roam with his former rabbi-turned-talking-crow, Rebbe. Together they are in an alternate afterlife trying to find purpose. That is the burning question. Why were they left behind? When Skibelski returns to his small Polish village he finds it overrun with non-Jews. They have moved into his house dragging their prejudices behind them.
Dear readers beware: while Skibell’s writing sometimes evokes magical imagery, the time frame is dark and tragic so definitely expect violence, destruction and decay. It is at once gory and gorgeous. The worms crawl in. The worms crawl out. Skibelski continuously bleeds from the bullet holes. His face is half missing. Corpses and his family and friends rot and stink and fall apart like a zombie movie. While listening to this on cd I was taken aback when Skibelski started to bleed from his anus. Fear not, dear readers. You get used to it. You will even learn to laugh at it.
In all honesty, I could see this as a Tim Burton film. There is sex and even humor amid the putrid. One of my favorite scenes was when Skibelski comes across a decapitated German soldier trying to kill him again. Yes, you read that right. Skibelski kicks the soldier’s head down a hill all the while arguing with the soldier about why he doesn’t need to die again. The dialogue is to die for (pun totally intended).
Author fact: Skibell has his own website here.
Book trivia: The audio version is read by Allen Rickman and he does a fabulous job. His comedic timing is perfect and I loved the voice of the crow.
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter obviously called “Magical Realism” (p 148).
Enright, Elizabeth. The Melendy Family: the Saturdays. New York: Rhinehart and Company, Inc., 1941.
Reason read: to continue the series started in honor of Enright’s birth month (September). As mentioned before, I read them a little out of order. I should have started with The Saturdays.
This is such a cute book! Four siblings are bored, bored, bored on a Saturday. While they all receive an allowance, it’s not enough for them to each do something every weekend. They decide to form the Independent Saturday Afternoon Adventure Club. Every Saturday they pool their allowances and one Melendy child gets to spend the entire day doing something adventurous of his or her choosing. Ten and half year old Randy goes to the museum to look at art and meets Mrs. Oliphant on the first Saturday. Twelve year old Rush goes to the opera and finds a dog (who he names Isaac, get it?) on the second Saturday. Mona, the only teenager in the bunch, gets her hair cut. Even young Oliver at six years old sneaks to the circus when it is his turn.
One of the best thing about Enright’s books is that she introduces me to a world I will never meet (unless someone really does invent a time machine that works): the 1950s. Because of her writing I learned about Lucrezia Borgia, Jules Clairon, Jane Cowl, and Katharine Cornell. My only panic was when Enright had Rush feed chocolate to his dog. I was taught to think chocolate is poison for a dog!
Quotes, “Fast, with her feet churning and her arms reaching until she had left the knowledge of her advancing age far behind” (p 169).
Author fact: Enright illustrated all of the Melendy books & they are really, really cute!
Book trivia: The Melendy Family is comprised of three of the quartet. Spiderweb for Two hadn’t been published yet.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Best for Boys and Girls (p 21).
Harger, Elaine. Which Side Are You On? Seven Social Responsibility Debates in American Librarianship, 1990 – 2015. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2016.
Full disclosure: I am a librarian so I read this with some bias. Also, as a librarian I took my time with this one.
Librarians do not view the world as unbiased, politically neutral robots. Some might expect we would or even should. But, we don’t. We find the facts, examine the evidence, chose a side and stick to our guns come hell or high water. It’s what we do. Elaine Harger has identified seven different debates to illustrate the inner workings of the governance of the American Library Association Council:
- Debating “the Speaker”
- Anti-apartheid boycotts
- Relationships with outside sponsors/corporations
- Climate change
Confessional: this book made me:
- Borrow Which Side Are You On? The story of a song by George Ella Lyon because I leanred of the song from Natalie Merchant.
- Look up The Speaker on YouTube (Harger includes a link)
Reason read: an Early Review book from LibraryThing.
Author fact: Like Nancy Pearl, Elaine Harger is a Seattle, Washington based librarian.
Book trivia: each chapter is punctuated by a really cool collage created by the author.