Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

Eden Close by Anita Shreve

Eden CloseEden Close. Finished 2-27-13, rating 4/5, 265 pages, pub. 1989

I consider myself a fan of Anita Shreve even though I’d only read three of her sixteen novels.  So, when I saw that Diane had this on her favorites from 2002 list (reposted with 2012 favorites) and that I had it on my shelves I added it to my small 2013 reading pile.  This is Shreve’s first novel.

Andrew, after many years, returns to his hometown to attend his mother’s funeral. Planning to remain only a few days, he is drawn into the tragic legacy of his childhood friend and beautiful girl next door, Eden Close.  An adopted child, Eden had learned to avoid the mother who did not want her and to please the father who did.  Then one hot night, Andrew was awakened by gunshots and piercing screams from the next farm: Mr. Close had been killed and Eden blinded.

Now, seventeen years later, Andrew begins to uncover the grisly story – to unravel the layers of thwarted love between the husband, wife, and tormented girl.

from Goodreeads

This book had all of the things I love about reading Shreve.  The characters are complex and yet recognizable, the language haunting and beautiful, and the story told with a lingering sadness.  Andy is not only dealing with the death of his mother, but of returning home for the first time in almost 20 years.  As he packs up the house, memories of Eden and that fact that she is only across the driveway but may as well be a million miles away, keep him close and resisting a return to his real life with a job and a son. But ultimately Eden has always drawn him to her and when he can no longer resist he sees her for the first time since the shooting, the shot that took her sight.  He is also navigating old friendships that are so far away from the man he is now.

I savored every word because her writing is so beautiful.  There is something so familiar about her characters, insights that make you say, ‘yes! exactly!’ , sometimes out loud.  In this way her writing resembles Elizabeth Berg.  As much as I liked this one I did think that the story dragged in a few places, especially for as short a novel as it is. But the feeling of those two lonely houses alone together in a sea of farmland and the two old friends and would be lovers will be with me a while.

Let me leave you with a few passages about childhood.

And then, because he was seventeen, he had another realization-one that had possibly been lurking below the surface all along but now became, like many of the insights he was having that summer, a conscious thought: Even though you could love someone as much as he had loved his mother and she him, her only child, you could leave her if you had to.  You could even look forward to leaving her.

section 1

But TJ and Andy accepted this embarrassment  and his parents’ volatility as a give, much in the same way they unconsciously acknowledged that Andy’s mother was too fat and TJ’s mother was a social climber-these facts intruding upon their childhood, sometimes even causing them a moment’s pain or awkwardness, but ultimately easily dismissed as not being pivotal to their lives.  The weather was pivotal.  And the condition of the ice or the fishing.  Or a stolen baseball glove or the offer of a driving lesson or a chance at the playoffs.  Their parents, however seemed more like obstacles to be negotiated than central figures in the daily drama.

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February 28, 2013 Posted by | 4 Star Books | | 16 Comments

Bookish Oscars Quiz/Ballot – voting closed

The Oscars have come and gone but that doesn’t mean that we can’t do some voting of our own.  I want you to vote for who you think will win (who everyone else will be voting for!).  More same votes = more points.  You have until Sunday noon to submit your ‘ballot’.

Here’s how I tallied the votes. 11 points for answer, 9 points, for second, etc. No points if there was only one vote.

When you are heading to the ceremony, who would be the Best Arm Candy?

1. Sebastian Junger (photo from his website). 5 votes   2.Jasper FfordeJasper Fforde (photo from Goodreads profile).  2 votes  3.Author Nicholas SparksNicholas Sparks (photo from his website).  4. John GrishamJohn Grisham (photo from his website). 4 votes   5.Michael ChabonMichael Chabon (photo from his Goodreads profile). 2 votes

*

Best Arm Candy for the guys

1.040Chelsea Cain (the photo quality is bad because I took it with my iPhone). 1 vote   2.Jhumpa LahiriJhumpa Lahiri (photo from Goodreads profile). 2 votes   3.Kristin HannahKristin Hannah (photo from Goodreads profile). 4 votes  4.Danielle SteelDanielle Steel (photo from her website).  5.Gillian FlynnGillian Flynn (photo from Goodreads profile). 6 votes

*

Best Song

1. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. 4 votes

2. The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks. 1 vote

3. Dicey’s Song by Cynthia Voigt

4. A New Song by Jan Karon. 2 votes

5. The Executioner’s Song by Norman Mailer. 6 votes

*

Best Villain

1. Patrick Bateman (American Psycho). 3 votes

2. Hannibal Lecter (The Silence of the Lambs and all the rest). 9 votes

3. Tom Ripley (The Talented Mr. Ripley). 1 vote

4. Sauron (The Lord of the Rings)

5. Count Dracula (Dracula)

*

Best Character Named Daniel (in honor of much deserved Oscar winner Daniel Day-Lewis)

1. Daniel (The Shadow of the Wind-Carlos Ruiz Zafon). 9 votes

2. Daniel (Butcher’s Theater-Jonathan Kellerman)

3. Daniel Waterhouse (Quicksilver-Neal Stephenson). 1 vote

4. Daniel (The Tenth Circle-Jodi Picoult). 1 vote

5. Daniel Ames (The Associate-Phillip Margolin). 1 vote

*

Best Author Named Jennifer (in honor of adorable Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence)

1. Jennifer Weiner. 3 votes

2. Jennifer Crusie. 1 vote

3. Jennifer Donnelly. 6 votes

4. Jennifer Ashley

5. Jennifer Haigh. 3 votes

*

Best Book to Movie Adaptation

1. Lord of the Rings series. 4 votes

2. Harry Potter series. 3 votes

3. Hunger Games

4. To Kill a Mockingbird. 5 votes

5. The Silence of the Lambs. 1 vote

*

Best Title of 2012

1. Tell the Wolves I’m Home. 3 votes

2. Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake. 4 votes

3. New Ways to Kill Your Mother. 2 votes

4. I Suck at Girls. 4 votes

5. No One is Here Except All of Us

*

Best Cover of 2012

1.Bloodland: A Novel2.5 votes  2.Telegraph Avenue  3.Misfit.5 votes  4.Shadow and Bone2 votes  5. The Shoemaker's Wife8 votes

*

February 26, 2013 Posted by | Quizzes | 29 Comments

Oscar Night Notes

I love the glitz and the glamour of Oscar Night. I love to watch all of the beautiful people arrive in their finest and do a personal critique of their dresses.  Yes, I like to see who wins, but often that is the sideshow for me.  Not so this year.  Amazingly I have been able to see a few of the nominated performances this year so I am much more interested in who wins.  I’ve bolded the ones I’m hoping will win.

BEST PICTURE

Armour

Argo – Sad I haven’t seen this one

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Django Unchained

Les Miserables – Good

Life of Pi

Lincoln – Good

Silver Linings Playbooks – Very good

Zero Dark Thirty – Had no desire to see it but I did and was impressed.

 

BEST ACTRESS

Jessica Chastain – She carried a very good film

Jennifer Lawrence – Quirky and loveable.

Emmanuelle Riva

Quvenzhane Wallis

Naomi Watts – I want to see this one!

 

BEST ACTOR

Bradley Cooper – Gets to show his talent (and his good looks)

Daniel Day-Lewis – Totally got lost in the part

Hugh Jackman – Was very good.

Joaquin Phoenix  – Love him so I don’t know why I haven’t seen the movie.

Denzel Washington – He did a great job even if the movie left me feeling sad.

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Amy Adams

Sally Field – She was a little annoying in the role of Lincoln’s wife.

Anne Hathaway – Totally nailed it.

Helen Hunt

Jacki Weaver – Um, okay.  Liked her but not what I consider one of the 5 best performances of the year.

 

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Alan Arkin

Robert DeNiro – Excellent

Philip Seymour Hoffman

Tommy Lee Jones

Christoph Waltz

 

So, who has your vote tonight?

February 24, 2013 Posted by | movies | 25 Comments

Mannheim Rex by Robert Pobi with a GIVEAWAY!

Mannheim RexMannheim Rex. Finished 2-20-13, rating 3.5/5, 501 pages, pub. 2012

Recently widowered and grieving, Gavin flees New York City for the quiet of the country. His new home on Lake Caldasac has surprisingly few visitors, and the author soon learns why: a suspiciously high number of people have gone missing in the small town. The deaths have all been ruled accidents, but Finn Horn, a handicapped boy obsessed with fishing, knows the truth. There’s a monster in the lake. And it wants to feed. Thirteen-year-old Finn, who is dying of cancer, has only one last wish: to go down in the record books for catching a real-life monster. Battling demons of his own, Gavin joins Finn on his perilous quest to slay the nightmarish leviathan. An homage to the blockbuster Jaws and the classic American novel Moby-Dick, Mannheim Rex is a deep dark thriller that switches seamlessly between heartwarming friendship and heart-stopping action.

from Goodreads

I loved Pobi’s debut thriller, Bloodman, so I eagerly said yes when offered his newest book even if was about fishing, of which I have no interest.  I’ve never read Moby Dick or Jaws, but the movie Jaws did make me view the beach differently in my youth,  and the comparisons between those two books and this one are fair, at least to a point.  This is a story about a monster in the lake, but I found the characters themselves and their bond much more interesting than the fishing aspect.  Gavin is a fictional Stephen King, of sorts, and when his wife is killed he loses his mind and moves to this small lake town in New York.  He meets Finn, a handicapped 13 year-old and the two from a special friendship.  He also meets Dr. Laurel who is quite a bit older than his 37 years, but the two have a spark, a connection, right from the start.  I liked the pseudo family they formed.

I thought some of the lake scenes dragged a bit and I very much disliked the last two pages.  Do yourself a favor and skip them altogether.  This was a complete departure from his thriller, Bloodman, and it’s solid, if not exactly what I was expecting.  There was blood and guts, but mostly there was a lot of heart.   I will be waiting in anticipation for Pobi’s next release.

So, for the giveaway, Cara at Wunderkind PR, has graciously offered a free copy to one lucky winner.  If you would like to be entered just leave me a comment with a way to reach you if you win.  If you want an extra entry post this on Facebook or post it on Twitter.  Gage will draw a winner on March 2nd.

February 21, 2013 Posted by | 3 1/2 Star Books | 4 Comments

Epitaph Quiz – guessing closed

I hope that you’ll try your hand at my (mostly) bookish quizzes every week, but it’s okay if you just want to play when the quiz interests you.  If you play you are eligible for a prize at the end of the round (sometime in June).  For all of the details, click here.  Submit your answers in the comment section – I will stop by and hide them throughout the week but try not to copy off anyone else :)   You have til Sunday to guess.

Identify these famous writers by the inscription on their tomb.

Your choices-Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Frost, JRR Tolkien, Jack London, F Scott Fitzgerald, Kurt Vonnegut, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, HG Wells, Emily Dickinson

1. “I told you so, you damned fools.”  HG Wells

2. “Beren”   JRR Tolkien

3. “The only proof he needed for the existence of God was music.”   Kurt Vonnegut

oops! I forgot #4!  and it was the one everyone would have known 🙂

5. “I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.”   Robert Frost

6. “Called Back”   Emily Dickinson

7. “The Stone the Builders Rejected”   Jack London

8. “Steel True, Blade Straight”   Sir Arthur Conana Doyle

9. “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”   F Scott Fitzgerald

10. “And alien tears will fill for him, Pity’s long, unbroken urn. For his mourners will be outcast men, And outcasts always mourn.”   Oscar Wilde

Answers to last week’s Heart Week Quiz here.  Rules and Leaderboard here.

February 19, 2013 Posted by | Quizzes | , | 20 Comments

With love on Valentine’s Day, Grandma

We all have grandmothers.  Some were gone before we came and some we never saw, and others, if you are lucky, show you the deep love of age and wisdom.  I am one of the lucky ones.  My grandma died today at the age of 90.  While not a surprise, it is still hard to know she is no longer here, that Gage will probably not remember her.

She was the second oldest of 9 and mother of 6 (all of which she had in a 10 year pear period).  She married my grandfather when she was 19 and he built her a house up the street from his family (he was the oldest of 12) where they lived their lives together.  And when I say he built her a house that’s what I mean, handmade with love, no contractors or shortcuts.  My grandfather died in 1992 and my grandmother never considered another man.  Her life was full of family and church.

She was a strong woman full of unshakeable faith in God and was generous to a fault.  Her door was always open (and if it wasn’t everyone in the world knew where to find the key) to anyone who wanted to talk or was in need.  She was a formidable woman and the older I got the more I appreciated the authentic and full life she lived.  It was and is inspiring.  Family came first, but she never met a stranger and she kept her mind sharp over the years with crossword puzzles and chronicling her life for her kids and grandkids.  And she received all of the love she gave out ten-fold at the end of her life.  In hospice care for a year and a half, three meals a day were fed to her by her children or grandchildren and she was not ever alone in the days before her death, with the family holding vigil for her.

She instilled a love of family and God in her children that will be seen for many, many generations to come.  She was a rock.  She was love and faith.  She was my grandmother and I will miss her.

151I love photo of Gage meeting his great-grandma for the first time.

February 14, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | 32 Comments

Heart Week Quiz – again

I know that yesterday’s heart covers were challenging (I didn’t know how challenging til you all started leaving your answers yesterday!) and I wanted to remind you that if you come across any of these covers this week you can come back and leave your answers even if you’ve already submitted titles.  Just make sure you leave the answers on the original post here

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February 13, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Heart Week Quiz – guessing closed

I hope that you’ll try your hand at my (mostly) bookish quizzes every week, but it’s okay if you just want to play when the quiz interests you.  If you play you are eligible for a prize at the end of the round (sometime in June).  For all of the details, click here.  Submit your answers in the comment section – I will stop by and hide them throughout the week but try not to copy off anyone else :)   You have til Sunday to guess.

Do you recognize these covers?  6 points for title, 2 points for author. (Sorry about the quality of the pictures!)

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0061. Between the Plums-Janet Evanovich

2. Another Piece of My Heart-Jane Green

3. Maybe This Time-Jennifer Crusie

4. The Lovers-John Connolly

5. Dope Thief-Dennis Tafoya

6. This Is How You Lose Her-Junot Diaz

7. The Man Who Ate the 747-Ben Sherwood

8. Heartsick-Chelsea Cain

9. Stay-Allie Larkin

10. Swin Back to Me-Ann Packer

11. The Naked King-Sally MacKenzie

12. By Bread Alone-Sarah-Kate Lynch

13. Landing-Emma Donoghue

14. Heartburn-Nora Ephron

Answers to last week’s Writers Lost in 2012 quiz here.

February 12, 2013 Posted by | Quizzes | 19 Comments

Timeless Desire by Gwyn Cready and why reading on the iPhone isn’t the best use of technology

Timeless Desire: An Outlander Love StoryTimeless Desire. Finished 2-6-13, rating 3.75/5, romance, pub. 2012

I added this to my wishlist when I read Mary’s review and then she posted again when the ebook went on sale for 99 cents.  Never one to pass up a deal I bought it.  Keep in mind that I received a Nook for my birthday in October and have read only a few books on it.  I got caught at the salon (having my hair cut and colored for the first time in over 6 months. Yikes!) with NO BOOK.  But I did have my iPhone and the Nook app so it took me seconds to download this one but forever to read.  So here’s my deal, I think the further away from actual books I get the less enjoyment that I receive from reading them.  I like my Nook fine and find it great when I have insomnia but don’t want to wake Jason or leave bed, BUT I’ll still choose a real, honest to goodness book given the choice.  As for reading a book on the iPhone, I cannot possibly recommend it.  Yes, I always had a book with me, but it really didn’t feel like a book.  It felt like I was reading in between important things and for mere minutes at a time.  I’m glad I tried it and I’m not crazy enough to say I will never do it again, but my expectations for enjoyment are low.  Okay, just wanted to share so that you understand that my thoughts on this one are probably influenced by ADD iPhone reading.

Panna is modern librarian who buried her much loved husband two years ago and is still resisting getting close to another man.  At least until she finds a passageway that leads her to Captain Jamie Bridgewater in the early 1700’s.  Jamie is living on the border of England and Scotland and has the heritage of both and Panna’s arrival is catalyst for change.

I thought this was a fun time travel romance.  The sex scenes were imaginative for sure but I really hate the ‘it’s all a dream or fantasy’ sex scenes.  What’s the point?  Anyway, other than that I thought it was fun and I will definitely read more by Cready.  In paper this time.

I can recommend this for any romance lover.  The characters are sexy and Jamie and Panna’s stories were both compelling and worthwhile.

February 7, 2013 Posted by | 3 1/2 Star Books | | 17 Comments

Writers Lost in 2012 Quiz – guessing closed

Tuesday Quizzes are back!!  I hope that you’ll try your hand at my (mostly) bookish quizzes every week, but it’s okay if you just want to play when the quiz interests you.  If you play you are eligible for a prize at the end of the round (sometime in June).  For all of the details, click here.  Submit your answers in the comment section – I will stop by and hide them throughout the week but try not to copy off anyone else 🙂  You have til Sunday to guess.

These writers all died last year.  Oh, and no googling!!! This is just for fun, for pete’s sake!

1. This screenwriter, producer, journalist, and author was responsible for some of my favorite movies (When Harry Met Sally being one) and her 1983 novel Heartburn chronicled some of her married life with Watergate journalist Carl Bernstein.  Nora Ephron 5-19-1941/6-26-12

2. Science fiction found a new voice with the publication of the The Martian Chronicles in 1950.  This powerhouse also wrote a famous book about burning books.  Ray Bradbury 8-22-1920/6-5-2012

3. Who will know where the wild things are now?  Maurice Sendak 6-10-1928/5-8-2012

4. He may be the last of a generation of authors who served in WWII.  His specialty was the historical novel, including titles like Lincoln, Julian, and Burr, but he also wrote many screenplays, including Ben Hur.  Gore Vidal 10-3-1925/7-31-2012

5. One of Ireland’s best-loved writers wrote 16 novels. Her first, Light a Penny Candle (1982), Circle of Friends (1990), and an Oprah book club selection in 1999 being a few favorites.  Maeve Binchy 5-28-1940/7-30-2012

6. Without him people would not know these 7 habits of annoyingly effective people.  Steven Covey 10-24-1932/7-16-2012

7. He died in a car accident while touring for his own book, but he was also a well-known co-author on such books as The Last Lecture as well as books with Captain Sully Sullenberger and Gabrielle Giffords.  Jeffrey Zaslow  10-6-1958/2-10-2012

8. This Editor in Chief of Cosmopolitan magazine for 32 years also wrote the bestseller Sex and the Single Girl in 1962.  Helen Gurley Brown 2-18-1922/8-13-2012

9. This Canadian turned New York writer wrote three collections of essays, all of them winning awards.  David Rakoff  11-27-1964/8-9-2012

10. This motivational speaker wrote See You at the Top and Selling 101.  Plus he has cool initials.  Zig Ziglar 11-6-1926/11-28-2012

February 5, 2013 Posted by | Quizzes | , | 26 Comments