Stacy's Books

books, movies, and boy

Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome

Title: Three Men in a Boat, Author: Jerome K. JeromeThree Men in a Boat. Finished 9-13-17, rating 3/5, classic, 211 pages, pub. 1889

Martyrs to hypochondria and general seediness, J. and his friends George and Harris decide that a jaunt up the Thames would suit them to a ‘T’. But when they set off, they can hardly predict the troubles that lie ahead with tow-ropes, unreliable weather forecasts and tins of pineapple chunks—not to mention the devastation left in the wake of J.’s small fox-terrier Montmorency.

Three Men in a Boat was an instant success when it appeared in 1889, and, with its benign escapism, authorial discursions and wonderful evocation of the late-Victorian ‘clerking classes’, it hilariously captured the spirit of its age.  from Goodreads

This classic from 1889 is still funny.  Three young men and a fox terrier take a boat down the Thames River.  Jerome, Harris, and George are tired of the daily grind and decide to get away for a bit with a hilarious boat trip.  Mishap and everyday observances combine for a surprisingly modern tale.  I enjoyed it, but was bored at points along the way too.

I’m just going to leave you with a taste of the writing for dog lovers…

We got up tolerably early on the Monday morning at Marlow, and went for a bathe before breakfast; and, coming back, Montmorency made an awful ass of himself.  The only subject on which Montmorency and I have any serious difference of opinion is cats.  I like cats; Montmorency does not.

When I meet a cat, I say, ‘Poor Pussy!’ and stoop down and tickle the side of its head; and the cat sticks up its tail in a rigid, cast-iron manner, arches its back, and wipes its nose up against my trousers; and all is gentleness and peace.  When Montmorency meets a cat, the whole street knows about it; and there is enough bad language wasted in ten seconds to last an ordinary respectable man all his life, with care.

I do not blame the dog (contenting myself, as a rule, with merely clouting his head or throwing stones at him), because I take it that it is his nature.  Fox terriers are born with about four times as much original sin in them as other dogs are, and it will take years and years of patient effort on the part of us Christians to bring about any appreciable reformation in the rowdiness of the fox terrier nature.

This was my 19th selection for the Classics Club and I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.  I am woefully behind!

November 29, 2017 Posted by | 3 Star Books | 4 Comments

Monday mini-reviews

There were a few books that I can easily group together from last month’s book a day challenge, so I’m trying to get those out of the way first.  These three books were all written by women writers and for the most part I had similar feelings about them.

Title: The Writing Life, Author: Annie DillardThe Writing Life. Finished 9-25-17, rating 3.5/5, memoir, 111 pages, pub. 1989

Annie Dillard has written eleven books, including the memoir of her parents, An American Childhood; the Northwest pioneer epic The Living; and the nonfiction narrative Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. A gregarious recluse, she is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.    from Goodreads

I admit that I picked this up at a book sale because it was short and  I’m so glad that I made the impulsive choice.  I’d never read Annie Dillard before, but found her writing beautiful.  She doesn’t make the writing life sound like very much fun, but I loved the honesty and the insight into how a mind can go a little nutty while writing.  If you are a writer or even just want an inside look into the writing  life I think this slim book is worth reading.

Title: A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman, Author: Joan AndersonA Year By the Sea. Finished 9-14-17, rating 3.5/5, memoir, 190 pages, pub. 1999

During the years Joan Anderson was a loving wife and supportive mother, she had slowly and unconsciously replaced her own dreams with the needs of her family. With her sons grown, however, she realized that the family no longer centered on the home she provided, and her relationship with her husband had become stagnant. Like many women in her situation, Joan realized that she had neglected to nurture herself and, worse, to envision fulfilling goals for her future. As her husband received a wonderful job opportunity out-of-state, it seemed that the best part of her own life was finished. Shocking both of them, she refused to follow him to his new job and decided to retreat to a family cottage on Cape Cod.   from Goodreads

I really connected with this woman who was feeling out of sorts in her life.  Her sons were on their own and her husband came home and said that he had taken a job that would force them to move.  I got her.  I was rooting for her when she embraced new challenges on her own.  I’ve never lived on my own, always having a roommate, so I was living vicariously.  It started strong, but she did lose me a little halfway through.  I liked then ending so, all in all, I’m glad I read it.

Title: Hourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage, Author: Dani ShapiroHourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage.  Finished 9-29-17, rating 3/5, memoir, 145 pages, pub. 2017

Hourglass is an inquiry into how marriage is transformed by time–abraded, strengthened, shaped in miraculous and sometimes terrifying ways by accident and experience. With courage and relentless honesty, Dani Shapiro opens the door to her house, her marriage, and her heart, and invites us to witness her own marital reckoning–a reckoning in which she confronts both the life she dreamed of and the life she made, and struggles to reconcile the girl she was with the woman she has become.   from Goodreads

This slight memoir flitting around her marriage from before to beginning to present with little vignettes about things that happened over the years of their 18 year marriage.  The writing was beautiful and some of it was thought provoking, although I had expected it to go a bit deeper.  I enjoyed the writing so I’ve to added some of Shapiro’s fiction to my reading list.

 

 

 

 

October 9, 2017 Posted by | 3 1/2 Star Books, 3 Star Books | 6 Comments

A few mini-reviews from last month

Last month while reading a book a day, I had very little time to review books on this blog, so I’m going to group these four with the reviews from my 30 day challenge.  The rest of the books I’d like to take some time with and will post about later.

We are working on yeast issues in the house so I’m trying to convert over to this diet, but it is a very difficult thing to force on a 6 year old.

Title: The Everything Candida Diet Book: Improve Your Immunity by Restoring Your Body's Natural Balance, Author: Jeffrey McCombsThe Everything Candida Diet Book. Finished 9-30-17, 4.5/5 stars, diet, 304 pages, pub. 2014

This book is an excellent resource and surprisingly progressive in it’s knowledge.  Highly recommended if you suspect you have a candida problem. You can treat at home without a doctor using diet and supplements.  It has lots of recipes.  The two I’ve tried so far have been big hits with all three of us.

Title: Candida Albicans: Could Yeast Be Your Problem?, Author: Leon ChaitowCandida Albicans. Finished 9-20-17, rating 3/5, health, 150 pages, pub. 1998

Candida Albicans is a parasitic yeast that is present in all of us, but in most people it does no noticeable harm. This book provides a comprehensive and non-drug programme for its control.   from Goodreads

This was a fine overview of the issue, but dated.  There are better, more current books out there.  I only read this one because a friend loaned it to me.

Title: Why I March: Images from The Women's March Around the World, Author: Abrams BooksTitle: Why We March: Signs of Protest and Hope--Voices from the Women's March, Author: Artisan Finished 9-24-17, rating 4/5, current events, pub. 2017

Between the two, Why We March: Signs of Protest and Hope by Artisan Press and Why I March: Images from the Woman’s March Around the World edited by Samantha Weiner and Emma Jacobs, I preferred the former (on the bottom in the picture).  It had quotes from the march in Washington DC that the other didn’t.  Both were great and took me back to one of the most inspiring days of my life.  This country needs a little more protesting and a little less sitting on our butts and complaining about people who don’t agree with us.  There were marches on every continent – even Antarctica – and no arrests. I will always support a peaceful protest. I was inspired all over again.  Here are a few of my favorite signs.

IMG_1665 IMG_1655  IMG_1656

 

October 6, 2017 Posted by | 3 Star Books, 4 Star Books, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Reluctant Mystic by Nancy Torgrove Clasby

Title: The Reluctant Mystic: Autobiography of an Awakening, Author: Nancy Torgove ClasbyThe Reluctant Mystic. Finished 9-5-17, 3/5 stars, memoir, 110 pages, pub.2016

“It felt like the whole world was shaking, inside me and all around me. It felt like bliss-perfect peace. This light was pouring through me, and as it was pouring through me, it was teaching me things.” So begins The Reluctant Mystic: Autobiography of an Awakening, the story of an extraordinary spiritual experience-one moment in a massage therapy office that forever changes the trajectory of the author’s life. In this compelling memoir and meditative guide, Nancy Torgove Clasby, an ordinary mother of three small children, gradually pieces together the greatest mysteries of life after a spontaneous awakening completely redirects her focus and energy and leads her to become a healer. More than twenty years later, Nancy has gone on to help hundreds of people with life-threatening illnesses, as well as those grieving lost loved ones. Along the way, she has been guided by three wise teachers and inspired by her many courageous clients. In Nancy’s words, “Each of us has a gift, and our purpose is to reconnect with that gift and then give it away.”  from Goodreads

I am not well-versed in mystics or healers, but was willing to be educated because this book was short, 110 pages.  One day this mother of three young children was in a session with her massage therapist, when the world opened up to her.

“I was on the table, fully clothed, and he was working at my head.  All of a sudden, my body started to shake, and it felt like I left my body.  My eyes were wide open, so I could see the room I was in, but I could also see through what I later found out was my “third eye,” which is an invisible energy center everyone has that sits in the middle of the forehead and is the seat of intuition.”  page 7

She sought out the advice of those around her and found supporters, including a rabbi, reverend and doctor, that would help push her in the right direction.  She learned to understand her gifts more clearly and spend the next 20 years as a healer.  I admit that much of it was too much for me, in part because it was new, no doubt.  But she was sincere and truly open and how rare is that?  She included pages written by her mentors, but the bulk of it was stories about some of her patients.  She included some different meditations at the end that left me feeling wonderful.  I love meditation and don’t do it often enough.

I can’t say I was the target audience but I’m glad I read something out of my comfort zone.  I feel a little more enlightened 🙂

September 21, 2017 Posted by | 3 Star Books | 3 Comments

Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts

Title: Whiskey Beach, Author: Nora RobertsWhiskey Beach. Finished 5-14-17, rating 3/5, romance?, pub. 2013

Unabridged audio performed by Peter Berkrot. 15 hours 33 minutes.

A Boston lawyer, Eli has weathered an intense year of public scrutiny and police investigation after being accused of murdering his soon-to-be ex-wife. And though there was never enough evidence to have him arrested, his reputation is in tatters as well as his soul. He needs sanctuary. He needs Bluff House.

While Eli’s beloved grandmother is in Boston, recuperating from a nasty fall, Abra Walsh has cared for Bluff House, among her other jobs as yoga instructor, jewelry maker, and massage therapist. She is a woman with an open heart and a wide embrace, and no one is safe from her special, some would say overbearing, brand of nurturing—including Eli.

He begins to count on Abra for far more than her cooking, cleaning, and massage skills, and starts to feel less like a victim—and more like the kind of man who can finally solve the murder of his wife and clear his name. But Bluff House’s many mysteries are a siren song to someone intent on destroying Eli and reaping the rewards. He and Abra will become entangled in a centuries-old net of rumors and half-truths that could pull them under the thunderous waters of Whiskey Beach….  from Goodreads

Nora Roberts is an easy listen.  You don’t need to be 100% glued to the audio to follow the story.  That’s a good thing in this case, because I thought this one was just meh.  I thought Eli’s backstory and what he went through as a suspect in his wife’s murder was interesting, but the rest of it, not as much.

Roberts is hit or miss with me and this one is a miss, but I will still give her a listen when I’m cleaning or driving 🙂

Do you have a favorite Nora Roberts novel?  I really liked The Witness.

May 18, 2017 Posted by | 3 Star Books | 8 Comments

The Forgetting Time by Sharon Guskin

Title: The Forgetting Time: A Novel, Author: Sharon GuskinThe Forgetting Time. Finished 5-2-17, 3/5 stars, fiction, pub. 2016

Unabridged audio read by Susan Bennett and David Pittu.  I liked the dual narration.

Noah wants to go home. A seemingly easy request from most four year olds. But as Noah’s single-mother, Janie, knows, nothing with Noah is ever easy. One day the pre-school office calls and says Janie needs to come in to talk about Noah, and no, not later, now – and life as she knows it stops.

For Jerome Anderson, life as he knows it has stopped. A deadly diagnosis has made him realize he is approaching the end of his life. His first thought – I’m not finished yet. Once a shining young star in academia, a graduate of Yale and Harvard, a professor of psychology, he threw it all away because of an obsession. Anderson became the laughing stock of his peers, but he didn’t care – something had to be going on beyond what anyone could see or comprehend. He spent his life searching for that something else. And with Noah, he thinks he’s found it.

Soon Noah, Janie and Anderson will find themselves knocking on the door of a mother whose son has been missing for eight years – and when that door opens, all of their questions will be answered.  from Goodreads

This showed up on a list of page turners so I was excited to give this debut author a try.  I didn’t know (because I didn’t read the description) that the main theme of this novel was reincarnation and that’s a good thing because I probably would have avoided it altogether.  We all need to read, or in this case listen, outside of our comfort zone or interests once in a while.  How else would we grow?

Anyway, the Goodreads description is a good one that reveals just the right amount of info and I don’t want to spoil more of the story. If you are looking to learn a little bit more about reincarnation and the history of it or like stories about the strength of a mother’s love then this one fits the bill.

May 15, 2017 Posted by | 3 Star Books | 4 Comments

L – Hugh Laurie’s The Gun Seller

Blogging From A-Z

I loved Hugh Laurie on the television show House, MD so when I saw this book on the library shelf I was curious.  Jason listened to it first and raved about so I gave it a try but when the last word was uttered I had far less enthusiasm.  Why?  Well for the last three or so CDs I really didn’t know for sure who was double crossing who and which side I was supposed to be on.  I wasn’t just a little bit confused, I was really lost.

Title: The Gun Seller, Author: Hugh LaurieI finished listening to The Gun Seller on March 28 and give it 3 stars.  That seems a little low since much of the frustration stemmed from me not being smart enough to follow the audio.  I loved the narrator,  Simon Prebble, but I think I may have been able to keep up better if I’d been reading the print book.

Thomas Lang goes by many names and accents in this spy novel and he may or may not be one of those types that falls in love for no reason and then does very dumb things because of it. I did like him, even if he sometimes acted like a lovesick dolt.  I loved his quick wit and bravado.

This was a solid first novel for Laurie and I’d be happy to read more by Dr. House.  Only next time I’ll try the print version.

Did you know Hugh Laurie was an author?

April 14, 2017 Posted by | 3 Star Books | 4 Comments

The Liar by Nora Roberts

Title: The Liar, Author: Nora RobertsThe Liar. Finished 2-7-17, 3/5, romantic suspense?, pub. 2015

Unabridged audio read by January LaVoy. 16 hours 41 minutes

Shelby Foxworth lost her husband. Then she lost her illusions …
 
The man who took her from Tennessee to an exclusive Philadelphia suburb left her in crippling debt. He was an adulterer and a liar, and when Shelby tracks down his safe-deposit box, she finds multiple IDs. The man she loved wasn’t just dead. He never really existed.
 
Shelby takes her three-year-old daughter and heads south to seek comfort in her hometown, where she meets someone new: Griff Lott, a successful contractor. But her husband had secrets she has yet to discover. Even in this small town, surrounded by loved ones, danger is closer than she knows—and threatens Griff, as well. And an attempted murder is only the beginning …        from Goodreads

I thought about quitting this one a few discs in but it was such an easy listen that I continued to let it play when I was in the car or cleaning the kitchen.  There isn’t a lot to recommend this one, really, except if you love Nora Roberts.  I don’t love her but have had good luck with the last few I’ve tried by her.

There were a few problems including the heroine, Shelby, who was clueless.  Then there was the fact that it was about 50% too long.  So much repetition and too many mundane, useless conversations.  And the end was something you could see coming from the first few chapters.

Did I forget to mention the good parts?  Okay.  Roberts does know how to write.  I loved the relationship between Griff and Shelby’s little girl, Callie.  The narrator, January LaVoy, did a great job so that probably helped the entertainment factor.

So, if you’re a fan of Roberts you’ll probably like it. But for newbies, I’ve read a few of hers that I’ve really liked that I’d recommend first.

February 7, 2017 Posted by | 3 Star Books | 11 Comments

Tinkers, Seven Spiders Spinning, Discovering Ohio

I read these three books during my 30 books in 30 day challenge in September.  Since they were all just okay I thought I’d group them together.


Title: Tinkers, Author: Paul HardingTinkers. Finished 9-25-16, 2/5 stars, fiction, 191 pages, pub. 2009

Tinkers by Paul Harding is a Pulitzer Prize winner and I did not care for it. I was mostly bored out of my mind, with a few pages here and there that gave me a half-hearted reason to continue. If I taken another book I would not have bothered to finish it.  But at 190 pages it was an easy plane book.


Title: Seven Spiders Spinning (Hamlet Chronicles Series #1), Author: Gregory MaguireSeven Spiders Sinning. Finished 9-23-12, 3 stars, young readers, 132 pages, pub. 1994

I read Seven Spider’s Spinning by Gregory Maguire Friday night after we were back to the room for the night (Boston trip).  I must have picked this up at a book sale after I read Wicked and it was a perfect, easy choice for the trip.  Seven huge, tarantula-type spiders escape and try to take out the girls at a local elementary school.  There were spiders drawn on the margins of the pages and it was creepy, but at 132 pages I wasn’t going to complain.


abad26Discovering Ohio. Finished 9-25-16, 3 stars, travel, 95 pages, pub. 2001

I’ve had this in my unread stack for years, at least since 2008 when I started taking a yearly picture, so it’s good that I finally got around to reading it.  I think, the problem for me at least is that when you read something about a place that you know and love you are overly critical.  The pictures were great and I do like how the author tried to paint a picture of Ohio through the years, all the way back to when white settlers came here, but she made a choice not to focus on the cities which I think does a major disservice to the state.  Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland are top 50 cities in population. I know from living in Cleveland just how much history there is here.  Yes, Ohio is full of farms and mining and industrial places, but that is really only half of the picture.  Reading this I think you’d get a fairly one-sided picture of the state.

 

December 2, 2016 Posted by | 2 1/2 Stars or Less, 3 Star Books | 1 Comment

Talking About Detective Fiction

Title: Talking about Detective Fiction, Author: P. D. JamesTalking About Detective Fiction. Finished 9-9-16, rating 3/5, readers reference, 198 pages, pub. 2009

Unabridged audio read by Diana Bishop.

P. D. James examines the genre from top to bottom, beginning with the mysteries at the hearts of such novels as Charles Dickens’s Bleak House and Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White, and bringing us into the present with such writers as Colin Dexter and Henning Mankell. Along the way she writes about Arthur Conan Doyle, Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie (“arch-breaker of rules”), Josephine Tey, Dashiell Hammett, and Peter Lovesey, among many others. She traces their lives into and out of their fiction, clarifies their individual styles, and gives us indelible portraits of the characters they’ve created, from Sherlock Holmes to Sara Paretsky’s sexually liberated female investigator, V. I. Warshawski. She compares British and American Golden Age mystery writing. She discusses detective fiction as social history, the stylistic components of the genre, her own process of writing, how critics have reacted over the years, and what she sees as a renewal of detective fiction—and of the detective hero—in recent years.    from Goodreads

I listened to the audio for the first half of PD James’s Talking About Detective Fiction and was a little bored so I switched to the paper version.  And had the same problem.  The book is about the history of detective fiction, mostly British. She names the best of the best and goes into the model of what makes a mystery great.  I don’t read enough of the classic mystery writers. Sure, I’m a somewhat recent fan of Agatha Christie, but many of the others I’m not familiar with at all.  Readers more well versed in detective fiction than I am would probably get more enjoyment than I did.  When she talked about a few of the books I read (ie. The Woman in White) I was more engaged.

She gave a shortlist for the four most important women in the genre’s golden age and I’ll be trying the others soon.  She chose Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Margery Allingham and Ngaio Marsh.

I think it would be a great place to start for  anyone interested in writing a detective novel since it gives you the basics and a great reading list.

October 26, 2016 Posted by | 3 Star Books | 2 Comments