Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman

Title: Almost Famous Women: Stories, Author: Megan Mayhew BergmanAlmost Famous Women. Finished 2-8-17, rating 4.5/5, short stories, 236 pages, pub. 2015

The fascinating lives of the characters in Almost Famous Women have mostly been forgotten, but their stories are burning to be told. Now Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of Birds of a Lesser Paradise, resurrects these women, lets them live in the reader’s imagination, so we can explore their difficult choices. Nearly every story in this dazzling collection is based on a woman who attained some celebrity—she raced speed boats or was a conjoined twin in show business; a reclusive painter of renown; a member of the first all-female, integrated swing band. We see Lord Byron’s illegitimate daughter, Allegra; Oscar Wilde’s troubled niece, Dolly; West With the Night author Beryl Markham; Edna St. Vincent Millay’s sister, Norma. These extraordinary stories travel the world, explore the past (and delve into the future), and portray fiercely independent women defined by their acts of bravery, creative impulses, and sometimes reckless decisions.       from Goodreads

I don’t read short stories. I like big books where I can really get to know a character and spend time with a story that has the time to develop and take a few twists and turns.  But for book group this month we read Almost Famous Women  and I was pleasantly surprised. As it turns out, I was the only one since the other seven ladies didn’t care for it as a whole.

Each story started with a picture of the woman so that you could have a visual when you were reading and that was important for the first story.

Violet and Daisy Hilton were joined at the hip, literally.  This one was both disturbing and fascinating. People that you know showed up in the stories, Marlene Dietrich, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Lord Byron, Butterfly McQueen, Beryl Markham…but like the title says, most of the women in the book were almost famous.  I liked some more than others but particularly liked the one about Joe Carstairs and her private island, Romaine Brooks and her very creepy nurse, and Lord Byron’s illegitimate daughter broke my heart.  I liked the mix of known and unknown and it made me check out more information on a few of the women.

The book group as a whole found the stories needlessly depressing and I can’t really argue on that point.  They were dark. There was a PTSD link in a few and more than one death.  We all noticed a homosexuality thread throughout the stories.  Most of us could pick out a favorite story or two and the book read really fast so that’s a plus.

So, I really liked it but I was the only one.  Read at your own risk 🙂

This counted as one for Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge, story collection by a woman.

February 9, 2017 Posted by | 4 1/2 Star Books | 6 Comments

The Mid-Year Freakout Book Tag

Originated at Maureen’s Books, but I first saw it at Carol’s Notebook.

I’ve read 31 books this year and I feel pretty good about that.

1 – The Best Book You’ve Read So Far In 2017

A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman.  I fell in love with Ove and his collection of merry wo(men) around him.  For every trouble he caused those surrounding him, at least one blessing was given out.  Ove was a man with a heart, who didn’t always play well with others.  I think everyone knows an Ove, some of us better than others.

2 – Your Favorite Sequel This Year

Waiting On You by Kristan Higgins, Blue Heron #3.   I love this series set in New York wine country.  The small town is charming, the people are eccentric and the dialogue is snappy.  As with the first two books I laughed out loud many times and was brought to tears at least once.  Higgins is so talented. I can’t wait to read everything she’s written.

3 – A New Release You Haven’t Read But Really Want To

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders.  I read his interview in Poets & Writers magazine and am eager to pick it up.

4 – Most Anticipated Release For The Second Half of the Year

Whatever the yearly Harlan Coben release is!

5 – Biggest Disappointment

Strange Bedpersons by Jennifer Crusie. I usually love her but this oldie was too dated and stereotypical.

6 – Biggest Surprise

Dream More:Celebrate the Dreamer in You by Dolly Parton.  I’ve never really followed Dolly Parton, but after listening to her narrate her book I’m a fan.

7 – Favorite New Author (Debut Or New To You)

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Fantastic debut about something so important going on right now.  I can’t wait to see what she does next.

8 – Your New Fictional Crush

I had a little crush on Ove 🙂  He may have been a 59 year old curmudgeon, but I loved him.

9 – A Book That Made You Cry

A Man Called Ove, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

10 – A Book That Made You Happy

Good romances always make me happy and I’ve read several so far this year.  The Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas, When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James, Waiting on You by Kristan Higgins

11 – Your Favorite Book To Movie Adaption That You’ve Seen This Year

A Man Called Ove was well done, subtitles and all.  Although the book and movie Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close were different, I thought they were both well done.

12 – Favorite Book Post You Published This Year

I loved having my first Bookish Wine Party and hope to make it a yearly thing.

13 – The Most Beautiful Book You Have Bought/ Received This Year

Of the books I’ve read I really liked Almost Famous Women

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14 – What Are Some Books That You Need To Read By The End Of The Year

I need to knock a few of my Classics Club list. I’m woefully behind.

 

If you want to have some fun, consider yourself tagged.

July 11, 2017 Posted by | Bookish Stuff, lists | 7 Comments

2017 Challenges

Book Riot’s 2017 Read Harder Challenge

1.(Sports)

2.(Debut novel) The Dead Key by Pulley

3.(Book about books)

4.(Set& written by C.or S American)

5. (By immigrant or central immigration story)

6.(All-ages comic)

7.(Published between 1900-1950)

8.(Travel memoir)

9.(Re-read)

10.(Set within 50 miles) The Dead Key by Pulley

11.(Set more than 5000 miles away) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

12.(Fantasy)

13.(Nonfiction technology)

14.(War)

15.(Middle or YA LGBTQ author)

16.(Banned)  The Color Purple by Alice Walker

17.(Classic by person of color)  The Color Purple by Alice Walker

18.(Superhero comic with female lead)

19.(Character of color goes on spiritual journey)

20.(LGBTQ romance novel)

21.(Micropress)

22.(Story collection by woman) Almost Famous Women by Megan Mayhew Bergman

23.(Poetry translation on theme other than love)

24.(All points of view are people of color)  The Color Purple by Alice Walker

 

The Classics Club. Joined January 2, 2015. Must finish 50 classics by January 1, 2020

1. The Color Purple by Alice Walker

2. Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

3. Washington Square by Henry James

4. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

5. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein

6. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (2/16)

7. Ada by Vladimir Nabokov

8. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome

9. Night by Elie Wiesel (12/15)

10. Up From Slavery by Booker T Washington (1/16)

11. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton (9/16)

12. Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (9/17)

13. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory  by Roald Dahl

14. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith

15. Lady Chatterly’s Lover or Women in Love by DH Lawrence

16. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy

17. The Story of An Hour by Kate Chopin

18. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (7/15)

19. 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

20. The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley

21. Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

22. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (5/15)

23. 1984 by George Orwell (9/17)

24. Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut

25. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams

25. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (4/17)

26. Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert m Pirsig

27. The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest Gaines        

28. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer or The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain

29. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

30. The Chosen by Chaim Potok

31. Christy by Catherine Marshall

32. Lord of the Flies by William Golding (12/15)

33. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  (2/15)

34. Roll of Thunder Hear, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor  (4/15)

35. Eva Luna by Isabel Allende

36. The Sea Wolf by Jack Wolf

37. Villette by Charlotte Bronte

38. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

39. The War of the Worlds by HG Wells

40. Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson ( 9/17)

41. A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

42.  Of Human Bondage by Maughan

43. The Two Towers by JRR Tolkien

44. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron

45. Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt

46. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (1/15)

47. The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy

48. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

49. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (10/15)

50. Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck

51. The Once and Future King by TH White

December 29, 2009 Posted by | | 12 Comments

The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

Title: The Weird Sisters, Author: Eleanor BrownThe Weird Sisters. Finished 4-20-16, rating 4.25/5 , fiction, pub. 2011

Unabridged audio read by Kirsten Potter. 10 hours, 26 minutes.

The Andreas family is one of readers. Their father, a renowned Shakespeare professor who speaks almost entirely in verse, has named his three daughters after famous Shakespearean women. When the sisters return to their childhood home, ostensibly to care for their ailing mother, but really to lick their wounds and bury their secrets, they are horrified to find the others there.

See, we love each other. We just don’t happen to like each other very much.

But the sisters soon discover that everything they’ve been running from — one another, their small hometown, and themselves — might offer more than they ever expected.  

from Goodreads

Let me start by mentioning that I went and heard Curtis Settenfeld speak tonight about her latest book, Eligible,  inspired by  Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice (more on that later). She talked a little about how Austen had many unlikeable, unredeemable characters and how that it was different in today’s fiction.  As I sit here to write this review for a book I finished weeks ago, I have to say that in these three weird sisters, Brown has created some unlikeable characters, the biggest difference being that they all (more or less) achieved some redemption by the end.  The sisters were so distinct and, yet, so flawed that it made the story recognizable.

Two Andreas sisters were called back to Barnwell, a small, fictional Ohio college town, because their mother had been diagnosed with cancer, the third was still living there.  Rosiland, the responsible oldest, was afraid to leave.  Bianca, the middle sister, was a mess in more ways than one, thinking nothing of stealing thousands from her boss or sleeping with the husband of a woman she respects.  And, poor baby Cordelia, arrived on the doorstep preggers and unwilling to name a father.  I have always wanted a sibling or two, most only kids do at some point, because when push comes to shove, whether you like them or not, there is always a bond.  Stories about sibling dynamics always fascinate me and I really enjoyed this messed up family that quoted Shakespeare and would rather read books than do pretty much anything else.

The story is told from what feels like a fourth ghost sister. When I looked around, I saw it called a ‘plural collective’, ‘community voice’, and the probably most correct ‘first person plural’. At first I was a little confused about which sister was narrating the story, but (not as quickly as I should have) realized that it was really all of them. It was inventive and felt like a fresh way to tell a time-old story about sisters.  I really liked this one.

I read and listened to this one and would recommend either.

 

 

 

May 9, 2016 Posted by | 4 Star Books | , | 2 Comments

Walking San Francisco

We arrived home this morning at about 1 am after almost a week in San Francisco.  First, I have to mention our flights out and back.  Last Saturday morning we’re in the plane on the runway for takeoff and the pilot drives back to where we boarded and tells us that on the way to the runway he accidentally drove through a snow pile and just wants to make sure everything is okay.  And then 10 minutes later comes back and tells us he’s completely ruined the engine and they’ll have to find us another plane.  Seriously, shouldn’t a 737 be able to handle a little snow?  We switched planes and it was all good.  Then on the way back we were in the plane and a light came on, didn’t come on, whatever, and we had to get off the plane and wait.  And wait.  Four hours later we were good to go.  During that time we were able to meet a wonderful family Noel and Maura and their two kids Will and Ellie.  They made the wait easier to take.  So my advice?  If you need to get someplace on time don’t fly with us!

We stayed at The Palace downtown…

Jason’s conference was being held here and it is beautiful hotel.  Our taxi driver from the airport told us that we came just in time for the Chinese New Year parade that evening.  This is second only to the one in China (so the local news told us) and lasted a long time.  I can’t remember the last time I saw a parade…

We took the required trip to Alcatraz and learned so much about it’s history.  I didn’t know (or remember) that it had only been in use as a prison for 30 years. 

The ferry ride there was only 10 minutes and provided some lovely views of the city.

I had my fish ‘n chips at Fisherman’s Wharf, hiked up the hill to Coit Tower, overworked my short legs through the hills od Nob Hill & Russian Hill, saw the famous painted houses and spent quite a bit of time in Chinatown.  I went to the Fortune Cookie Factory where I saw the women making the fortune cookies and had some fresh off the line.  I love fortune cookies so I brought a big bag home.

I spent Monday at Golden Gate Park and my favorite place on this trip was there.  I loved the  Japanese Tea Garden.  It is peaceful and beautiful and I could have spent all day there with my camera and book.

There was a wonderful tea house near the entrance where I stopped on my way out for a nice cup of jasmine tea.

So, there you have it.  A wonderful week in beautiful San Francisco.  I was unconnected all week long.  Not one email or blog or website.  I’m feeling refreshed.  Even if I am looking outside my window at huge mounds of snow.

March 5, 2010 Posted by | travel | , | 38 Comments

First Lines Quiz

Check out the answers to last week’s Presidential Censorship Quiz.

Here’s how to play…Identify the first lines of these famous novels by telling me what book it’s from.  Leave a comment with the # of the first line and the title of the book and I’ll cross it off the list.  No Googling, that’s cheating and no fun!  

As a hint here are the authors you’ll find quoted here – Moore. London, Hurston, Crace, Jackson, Eugenides, Gilbert, McCullers, Hoffman, Gaiman, Hoeg, Sedaris, Frazier, Fforde, Nabokov, Steinbeck, Smith, Tolstoy, Leonard, Alcott

1. When the teacher asked if she might visit my mother, I touched my nose eight times to the surface of my desk. NAKED by DAVID SEDARIS

2. In the town, there were two mutes and they were always together.  THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER BY CARSON MCCULLERS

3. In a country such as Amerika, there is bound to be a hell-of-a-lot of food lying around just waiting to be ripped off.  STEAL THIS BOOK by ABBIE HOFFMAN

4. At the first gesture of morning, flies began stirring.  COLD MOUNTAIN by CHARLES FRAZIER

5. “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – Beth F

6. Christmas crept into Pine Cove like a creeping Christmas thing: dragging garland, ribbon, and sleigh bells, oozing eggnog, reeking of pine, and threatening festive doom.  The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore – Tiny Librarian

7.No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream.  THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE BY SHIRLEY JACKSON

8. When Fat Charlie’s dad named something, it stuck.  Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman, Thoughts of Joy

9. Buck did not read the newspapers, or he would have known that trouble was brewing, not alone for himself, but for every tidewater dog, strong of muscle and with warm, long hair, from Puget Sound to San Diego.  THE CALL OF THE WILD by JACK LONDON

10. It’s freezing-and extraordinary 0 degree Fahrenheit-and it’s snowing, and in the language that is no longer mine, the snow is qanik-big, almost weightless crystals falling in clumps and covering the ground with a layer of pulverized white frost.  SMILLA”S SENSE OF SNOW by PETER HOEG

11. I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith – Fleurfisher

12. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.  Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy- Calila

13. When Chili first came to Miami Beach twelve years ago they were having one of their off-and-on cold winters: thirty-four degrees the day he met Tommy Carlo for lunch at Vesuvio’s on South Collins and had his leather jacket ripped off.  GET SHORTY by ELMORE LEONARD

14. On the morning  the last Lisbon daughter took her turn at suicide-it was Mary this time, and sleeping pills, like Therese-the two paramedics arrived at the house knowing exactly where the knife drawer was, and the gas oven, and the beam in the basement from which it was possible to tie a rope. – The Virgin Suicides (Wanda) by JEFFREY EUGENIDES

15. Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.  THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD BY ZORA NEALE HURSTON

16. Going to Ford’s Theatre to watch a play in like going to Hooters for the food.  EAT ,LOVE ,PRAY by ELIZABETH GILBERT

17. My father had a face that could stop a clock.  The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde – Fleurfisher

18. To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth.  Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck – Calila

19. She was Lo, plain Lo, in the morning, standing four feet ten in one sock.  Lolita by Vladimir – Candice

20. For old time’s sake, the doctors of zoology had driven out of town that Tuesday afternoon to make a final visit to the singing salt dunes at Baritone Bay.  BEING DEAD by JIM CRACE

I found all of these lines in 1001 Books for every Mood and I”ll be reviewing it on Wednesday.

October 5, 2009 Posted by | Quizzes | , , | 16 Comments