Calling All Crazy Book People

For the last couple of years September has been the month that I’ve chosen to challenge myself to read 30 books.  Last year Gage even joined me!  This year with everything that’s been going on (I’m literally writing this at our house where I haven’t been since last Friday and I’m leaving again in an hour) I was on the fence about it UNTIL Heather said she was up for it too 🙂  Yay!!!

So now I’m wondering if anyone else wants to join us?  I could have a daily post where we can all link up and even start a Facebook page if there’s enough interest.   No pressure if you don’t make it, life happens, but it’s always fun to try.  I’m already thinking about how to make it doable this year.  Shorter books for sure, but maybe even a different kind of book.  Kids, graphic memoirs, or novellas would all work.  And for sure Gage is joining in.

Here’s my wrap up posts if you’re considering joining in on the fun.

2016 wrap up

2017 wrap up

I’m excited to have Heather by my side and hope that some of you may join us too!

 

The Immortal Gene by Jonas Saul is good – so far at least and a LIFE update.

I’m scheduled to post about The Immortal Gene today for a TLC tour so here I am providing you with half review and half life update.

I’m over half way done with the book and really like it. The story is good, even if the bad guy really sickened me last night when I was reading before bed.  It runs along two main storylines, Jake the detective and Jeffery the serial killer.  There’s a mysterious shadowy group that has something to do with why Jake was in a coma for two years and why he now appears to be something more than a man.  I like the writing and the story and look forward to finishing and telling you more, hopefully next week.

Now for the life update.  We’re going through some major house issues.  What started with a question from Gage’s doctor, “Have you checked your house for mold?” has led us to a house in chaos. Without boring you with every last detail, yes we did, mainly in our master bedroom and Gage’s toy room and it’s been going on for years and years because of the faulty design of the original roof (1984).  You could not see this mold.  Starting in February I started doing some detective work that led me to remove all wallpaper where we found what looked like mold behind outside wall.  Blah Blah Blah and that corner now looks like this IMG_3724 No walls, ripping out flooring and subfloor from both rooms today.

This is what the foyer and living room underneath that looked like yesterday IMG_3722 And because the walls went together and our house was due we decided to renovate the whole outside of the house, removing the stucco board and replacing with cement boarding, but looking for rot and mold along  the way.  This is my current view IMG_3731

Everything on the top floor is being thrown or has been thrown out.  Seriously.  I’m currently in the middle of cleaning what I can on the first floor and putting it in a pod.  The pod and dumpster compete for space in our driveway.

When all the dust and mold has settled I’ll post about what mold you can’t even see can do to your health.  Til then keep us in your prayers.

 

Book vs. Movie – Charlie St. Cloud

Title: The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud, Author: Ben Sherwood vs Charlie st cloud poster.jpg

I read the book (with the longer title) last month and was happy to see that Netflix had the 2010 movie ready for me.  I actually had the copy of the book with Zac Ephron on the cover so was picturing him as I read and that wasn’t really a problem 🙂 Sometimes I don’t know which will come out on top until I work through the categories, but I know even before I start which one worked better here.  I’ve tried not to contain spoilers.

The Story/Plot Charlie St. Cloud is a young man who was going places before a crash in high school killed his little brother.  He made a promise to his brother not to leave him and to meet him in the woods every evening to practice baseball.  So, Charlie takes a job at the neighboring cemetery so that he can keep that promise.  Not only can he interact with his dead brother but also the other spirits who are dead but have not yet crossed over.  Enter Tess who catches Charlie’s eye and tests his commitment to his brother.

This framework is the same for both the book and movie.  There were fewer spirits in the movie (which I missed), his relationship with his brother was closer in the book, the stuff with Tess happened way out of order in the movie to the detriment of the story, and there was more discussion about life after death in the book.   Thumbs up…the book

The Visual  The New England Coast is a beautiful place and the movie held up its end, although I read that they filmed in Canada.  Either way, it was beautiful.   Thumbs up…the movie

Characters vs. Actors  Since I pictured Zac Ephron as Charlie while I was reading the book he became Charlie for me.  I thought that they would have someone else play his younger 15 year old self in the movie, but instead they made his younger self 18 so there wouldn’t be another actor.  I wasn’t a fan of the aging, but I liked Ephron in the role.  My husband’s favorite part of the movie was the younger brother, Sam, but that’s because he hadn’t read the book I think. The book Sam was a much happier spirit and I preferred him.  Kim Basinger was the mom who made a brief appearance in the movie, but the mom was never part of the action of the book.  She didn’t add much or serve any purpose.  For some reason they aged and changed the EMT who saved Charlie’s life so Ray Liotta could play him.  The only reason I can see that they did this was so they could get a big name in the movie even if only for a scene or two.  The movie messed with the second scene between these two characters so the big name was a wash for me.  Amanda Crew was fine as Tess.  There were additional secondary characters in the movie that were completely unnecessary.   Thumbs up…the book

The Ending  The end result was almost the same, but I could’ve skipped the extra melodrama of the movie.  Thumbs up…the book

And the winner is…the book!  If they had stuck with the simplicity of the book the movie would have been so much better.

Other book vs. movie polls you can vote on: (Far From the Madding Crowd) (The Girl on the Train) (Tuck Everlasting)  (Northanger Abbey) (Me Before You) (And Then There Were None) (Still Alice) (The Blind Side) (The Fault in Our Stars) (The Hound of the Baskervilles) (Gone Girl) (Jack Reacher) (Ender’s Game) (Carrie, the original) (Under the Tuscan Sun) (The Secret Life of Bees) (The Shining, the original)

 

Top Ten Tuesday-

Ten Books We Meant To Read In 2017 But Didn’t Get To (and totallyyyy plan to get to in 2018!!)  See what else bloggers are looking to read this year at the Broke & the Bookish.

Lincoln in the BardoLincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

The Story of Arthur TruluvThe Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) BodyHunger by Roxane Gay

Far from the Madding CrowdFar From the Maddening Crowd by Thomas Hardy

A Gentleman in MoscowA Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Anything for You (Blue Heron, #5)Anything for You by Kristan Higgins

Devil in Spring (The Ravenels, #3)Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas

Ready Player One (Ready Player One, #1)Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

How to Build a Piano BenchHow to Build a Piano Bench by Ruthi Postow Birch

The Salt HouseThe Salt House by Lisa Duffy

And there’s still time to enter my Blogiversary giveaway here.

 

 

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L Sanchez

Title: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, Author: Erika L. SánchezI Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter. Finished 1-6-18, 4.25/5, YA, pub, 2017

Unabridged audio read by Kyla Garcia. 9 hours 41 minutes.

Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.
But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.
Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.
But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?     from Goodreads

I don’t read a lot of YA books, but last year The Hate U Give ended up being a favorite and this one, a National Book Award for Young People Finalist, also satisfied my desire to learn about American lives so different from my own.  Julia, a Mexican-American teen in Chicago, lost her sister to a freak accident and she struggles in the aftermath.  Her sister was the perfect one, going to community college while living at home, and when she died Julia’s mother lost it.  Julia is trying to understand her older sister after the fact and it leads her to surprising answers.

Julia is a teenager with some issues and she was trying at times, yet she did grow on me.  I had sympathy for her cockroach infested apartment (been there and it was disgusting) and her embarrassment over being poor when she met a boy she was interested in, but it wasn’t until she was sent back to her family in Mexico for a visit that I began to really root for her.  Julia is a memorable teen and I have high hopes for her future as a writer and for a relationship with Connor, her first love 🙂  I wouldn’t mind a follow up book at all!

This is an immigrant story, Julia’s parents are undocumented and used a coyote to cross the border, a mystery when she discovers her perfect sister had a secret, and a coming of age story with a heroine full of angst and mental health issues.  This really is a relatively quick read that delves into many issues that will keep you engaged.  I really liked this one.

2017 Book Favorites and Stats

I read 74 books this year. That’s 6 more than last year.

42 Fiction and 32 Non-Fiction.  My non-fiction numbers are up this year because I made an effort to read memoirs in September.

Of those 42 fiction 23 were authors new to me.

30 male authors, 40 female authors and 4 that were both.

27 were audiobooks.

I continued with 2 series (Blue Heron 3&4, Kinsey Millhone 5) and started 2 new series (The Ravenels 1&2, Penn Cage 1).

I read 8 classics for the Classics Club (The Color Purple, 1984, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Three Men in a Boat, Winesburg Ohio, Cat’s Cradle, Frankenstein, Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman).

Oldest book read-Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, 1818

Shortest novel-Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 155 pages

Longest novel-The Quiet Game by Greg Iles, 559 pages

Most read authors with 2 books a piece – Kristan Higgins, Lisa Kleypas, DM Pulley, Nora Roberts

Most visited locales – England, New York City, Massachusetts, Los Angeles, Chicago

My 5 favorite books

Title: A Man Called Ove, Author: Fredrik Backman I fell in love with Ove and his collection of merry wo(men).  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.  His pregnant neighbor picked him up and kept him moving until, finally, he embraced the loving circle that surrounded him.

Title: Mariana, Author: Susanna Kearsley There is history, romance, and a perfect sense of place in all Kearsley books. Julia was sure she’d found her house and she packed up and moved from London to a small English village without a second thought.  She was a children’s book illustrator and was able to make a few friends right away just as she was being transported back in time.  It’s tricky when you are going back and forth between time periods and characters.  Inevitably, you are drawn more to one story than the other.  This one did a great job of tying the two together so I was invested in both.

Title: The Color Purple, Author: Alice Walker Abused by her father and then her husband, Celie relied on the love of her sister to get her through. When Nellie goes away and Celie doesn’t hear from her she begins writing letters to God. When her husband brings home his mistress to live with them, Celie finally starts to see herself in a new light.  This is not an easy read.  It’s emotional, sexually explicit and might wake you up in ways that you don’t like. Celie’s perseverance gives a voice to all the women who experience abuse and still manage to stay on their feet.  It exceeded expectations and now I’m anxious to get my hands on the movie.  Set in 1930’s Georgia it’s still relevant and addictingly readable.

Title: The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Author: Ernest J. Gaines Jane was a true survivor.  This fictional book, spanning her 110 year life really comes full circle in the end and I would have been happy to spend another 110 with Jane.  Jane was a little girl of 10 or 11 when Lincoln freed the slaves and she left her plantation with a small group hoping to walk their way north from Louisiana.  When something bad happens Jane is left in charge of 3 year old Ned and she must rely on her wits to keep them safe and free.  She eventually comes to raise him like her own son and find both happiness and heartache, never leaving her beloved Louisiana.  Jane is a warrior, a realist, and a trailblazer.

Title: Little Fires Everywhere, Author: Celeste NgShaker Heights is a real place and I love it.  Ng chose to show the Shaker that she grew up in and I think it’s fair, and even though it has changed over the years it does still remain a progressive hotspot with old mansions lining picturesque streets. The Richardson family embodies this perfectly.  I understood and felt for every one of the characters and even when I didn’t like them I understood them.  The story centers around not only the fight over a baby left at a fire station by a distraught mother but also the mysterious Mia.  So many layers to this story and they were all connected by mothers.  I loved this book because it is overflowing with gray area.

Did you do a list?  Leave a link in the comments so I can check it out.

 

 

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Charlie Bucket, #1)Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Finished 9-22-17, rating 4/5, children’s classic, pub. 1964

Unabridged audio performed by Douglas Hodge and enhanced with sound effects.

Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory is opening at last!

But only five lucky children will be allowed inside. And the winners are: Augustus Gloop, an enormously fat boy whose hobby is eating; Veruca Salt, a spoiled-rotten brat whose parents are wrapped around her little finger; Violet Beauregarde, a dim-witted gum-chewer with the fastest jaws around; Mike Teavee, a toy pistol-toting gangster-in-training who is obsessed with television; and Charlie Bucket, Our Hero, a boy who is honest and kind, brave and true, and good and ready for the wildest time of his life!  from Goodreads

The audio was excellent and even had sound effects.  At only 3 1/2 hours I want to listen to it again with Gage because I think he would love it since he loves both of the movie adaptations, although I have a marked preference for Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka.  I loved the original and this took me right back there, to my childhood, excited every time one of the few channels on TV was showing the movie

Is Willy Wonka the best person to hold up as an example of all good things?  Nope.  But the story is so fantastical and fun that I can overlook that.  Charlie and his Grandpa have such a heartwarming relationship that the warmth and goodness coming from them makes up for the meanness of the others.  Already having the visual in mind when reading the book didn’t stop my imagination from adding more to the mix.  I can’t say enough good things about the audio production and am glad that I experienced the story that way for this one.

This was my 20th selection for the Classics Club and I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.  I am woefully behind!

Mariana by Susanna Kearsley

Title: Mariana, Author: Susanna KearsleyMariana. Finished 10-4-17, rating 5/5, historical time travel romance, 373 pages, pub. 1994

The first time Julia Beckett saw Greywethers she was only five, but she knew that it was her house. And now that she’s at last become its owner, she suspects that she was drawn there for a reason.

As if Greywethers were a portal between worlds, she finds herself transported into seventeenth-century England, becoming Mariana, a young woman struggling against danger and treachery, and battling a forbidden love.

Each time Julia travels back, she becomes more enthralled with the past…until she realizes Mariana’s life is threatening to eclipse her own, and she must find a way to lay the past to rest or lose the chance for happiness in her own time.   from Goodreads

Here were my first thoughts on Goodreads when I finished this one, “My love affair with Susanna Kearsley continues. This was one of her first books and it may be my favorite so far. I didn’t want it to end. I was worried that the ending would be all wrong. But it wasn’t. It was perfect.”  There is something so magical and romantic about her stories.  There is history, romance, and a perfect sense of place in all of her books.  This one also felt a little like a ghost story.

Julia was sure she’d found her house and she packed up and moved from London to a small English village without a second thought.  She was a children’s book illustrator and was able to make a few friends right away just as she was being transported back in time at unpredictable times.

It’s tricky when you are going back and forth between time periods and characters.  Inevitably, you are drawn more to one story than the other.  This one did a great job of tying the two together so I was invested in both.  Was this book, the first time she tried the time travel travel romance, perfect? No.  Was it perfect enough to have me rereading the last few chapters again and again because I wasn’t quite ready for it to end?  A resounding YES!

The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest J Gaines

Title: The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Author: Ernest J. GainesThe Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman. Finished 9-28-17, rating 5/5, classic, 246 pages, pub. 1971

“This is a novel in the guise of the tape-recorded recollections of a black woman who has lived 110 years, who has been both a slave and a witness to the black militancy of the 1960’s. In this woman Ernest Gaines has created a legendary figure, a woman equipped to stand beside William Faulkner’s Dilsey in The Sound and the Fury.” Miss Jane Pittman, like Dilsey, has ‘endured,’ has seen almost everything and foretold the rest. Gaines’ novel brings to mind other great works The Odyssey for the way his heroine’s travels manage to summarize the American history of her race, and Huckleberry Finn for the clarity of her voice, for her rare capacity to sort through the mess of years and things to find the one true story in it all.”  — Geoffrey Wolff, Newsweek.

I wish I had taken the time to write this soon after I read it in September because although I absolutely loved this book some of the details now allude me.  I loved Jane.  She is a true survivor.  This book, spanning her 110 year life really comes full circle in the end and I would have been happy to spend another 110 with Jane.

Jane was a little girl of 10 or 11  when Lincoln freed the slaves and she left her plantation with a small group hoping to walk their way north from Louisiana.  When something bad happens Jane is left in charge of 3 year old Ned and she must rely on her wits to keep them safe and free.  She eventually come to raise him like he was her own son and find both happiness and heartache, never leaving her beloved Louisiana.

Jane is a warrior, a realist, and a trailblazer.  This story, which spans the time between slavery and the beginning of the civil rights movement told the story with real events and people framing Jane’s experiences.  This is one worth reading.

This was my 18th selection for the Classics Club and I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.  I am woefully behind!

 

The Classics Spin #16

Even though I’ve been in the Classics Club for a few years I haven’t participated in a Classics Spin yet, so I’m going to give it a try.  I have until January 1, 2020 to read 50 classics from a list of my own making.  I’ve read 20 so far.  This is my list of the next 20 I’d like to read.  On Friday the Classics Club will pick a number and that will be the book I finish by the  end of the year.  Fun!

  1. Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert Heinlein
  2. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
  3. Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
  4. Mother Night by Kurt Vonnegut
  5. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  6. The Chosen by Chaim Potok
  7. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  8. Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck
  9. A Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  10. Washington Square by Henry James
  11. Women in Love by DH Lawrence
  12. The Story of an Hour by Kate Chopin
  13. The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank
  14. The Sea Wolf by Jack London
  15. Of Human Bondage by W Somerset Maugham
  16. Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams
  17. The once and Future King by TH White
  18. Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
  19. Ada by Vladimir Nabokov
  20. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

Which one of these have you read and loved?