The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon

Title: The Crying of Lot 49, Author: Thomas Pynchon The Crying of Lot 49. Finished 9-24-19, 3.25/5, classic fiction, 152 pages, pub. 1966

Suffused with rich satire, chaotic brilliance, verbal turbulence and wild humor, The Crying of Lot 49 opens as Oedipa Maas discovers that she has been made executrix of a former lover’s estate. The performance of her duties sets her on a strange trail of detection, in which bizarre characters crowd in to help or confuse her. But gradually, death, drugs, madness and marriage combine to leave Oedipa in isolation on the threshold of revelation, awaiting the Crying of Lot 49.  from Goodreads

Bizarre.  Paranoia and insanity abound in this short novel.  There were many moments, especially at the beginning where I cared and thought I “got it” but no.  Sadly, it turns out I did not “get it” at all. It had some light moments that made me laugh, but once the crazy got on a roll it didn’t really stop.  I am obviously not cool enough to appreciate Pynchon and I’m okay with that.

So, who is a fan of Pynchon?  What attracts you?

This is   my 32nd selection for the Classics Club challenge.  I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50 (lol).

The Second Life of Nick Mason by Steve Hamilton

Title: The Second Life of Nick Mason, Author: Steve Hamilton The Second Life of Nick Mason. Finished 12-4-19, 4.25/5, thriller, pub. 2016

Unabridged audio read by Ray Porter.

Nick Mason has already spent five years inside a maximum security prison when an offer comes that will grant his release twenty years early.  He accepts — but the deal comes with a terrible price.

Now, back on the streets, Nick Mason has a new house, a new car, money to burn, and a beautiful roommate.  He’s returned to society, but he’s still a prisoner.  Whenever his cell phone rings, day or night, Nick must answer it and follow whatever order he is given.  It’s the deal he made with Darius Cole, a criminal mastermind serving a double-life term who runs an empire from his prison cell.

Forced to commit increasingly more dangerous crimes, hunted by the relentless detective who put him behind bars, and desperate to go straight and rebuild his life with his daughter and ex-wife, Nick will ultimately have to risk everything—his family, his sanity, and even his life—to finally break free.  from Goodreads

When we first meet Nick he’s serving time in Terre Haute, then we get flashbacks to his younger years stealing cars in Chicago, until a deal made with the devil gets him out of prison and back on the streets.  Only this time he’s having to do someone else’s bidding and his daughter and ex-wife are in danger.

I loved the way Nick’s story unfolded.  Low level crimes became bigger ones until finally prison made him into someone he didn’t think he was capable of becoming.  I could feel his reasons and justifications and understood that he was just trying to survive another day, whatever the cost.  The story is fast-paced and had a satifying, but not all-wrapped-up-in-a-bow ending.

Nick has a second book and a third one in the works and I’m excited to see what happens next.

 

What’s so great about George Orwell’s Animal Farm?

Title: Animal Farm, Author: George Orwell Animal Farm. Finished 9-9-19, 3/5, classic, pub. 1945

Unabridged audio read by Ralph Cosham. 3 hours.

A farm is taken over by its overworked, mistreated animals. With flaming idealism and stirring slogans, they set out to create a paradise of progress, justice, and equality. Thus the stage is set for one of the most telling satiric fables ever penned –a razor-edged fairy tale for grown-ups that records the evolution from revolution against tyranny to a totalitarianism just as terrible.
When Animal Farm was first published, Stalinist Russia was seen as its target. Today it is devastatingly clear that wherever and whenever freedom is attacked, under whatever banner, the cutting clarity and savage comedy of George Orwell’s masterpiece have a meaning and message still ferociously fresh.   from Goodreads

This is not a hypothetical question.  I want to know what you loved about Animal Farm.  It’s a still widely read beloved classic, but when I finished it I was so happy it was over and it was only 3 hours! Maybe listening to it all in one day without time for introspection wasn’t the most fair treatment of this dystopian oldie.  So, I’m asking you to sell me on those pigs.  Was I rooting against them?  Of course!  Did I almost shed a tear at Boxer’s end?  Yes!  Did I need to read a study guide at the same time to appreciate it?  You tell me.  And yes, I ‘get’ everything in the above description 🙂

Tell me what you loved the most…

This was my 27th selection for the Classics Club challenge.  I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.

Book a Day Success!

For the fourth year in a row I’ve read a book a day in September and Gage has joined me the last three.  This year we read 26 books, which is right on track considering our road trip.  I plan on writing mini-reviews for them but thought I’d give you a preview…

Series-continuing

Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie N or M? by Agatha Christie Tooth and Nail by Ian Rankin Strip Jack by Ian Rankin Devil's Daughter by Lisa Kleypas Anything for You by Kristan Higgins Twisted Prey by John Sandford Mrs. Pollifax Pursued by Dorothy Gilman G is for Gumshoe by Sue Grafton

Series-new

A Share in Death by Deborah Crombie Borderlands by Brian McGilloway The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson Naked in Death by J.D. Robb The only one I may continue with is the Naked series by JD Robb.

Classics

Alice's Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll I Had Seen Castles by Cynthia Rylant Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan Washington Square by Henry James Animal Farm by George Orwell The Giver by Lois Lowry The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

Others

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon The Dalai Lama by Carol Kelly-Gangi A Dirt Road to Somewhere by Romona Robinson Ohio Presidents by Dale Thomas Illuminated Life by Joan D. Chittister

A few pics from IG of Gage and I reading our books…

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Always a fun month, but now I have time again!

Goodreads Cleanup – This has been helpful

Okay, you guy have been so helpful!  Round one I kept 2/5 and am listening to one of them now.  Round two I kept 7/10 and round three 8/10.  After I decide what to keep I go to the library website and see if any of them are available in audio and put them on hold.  I feel like this working so far so let’s keep it happening.

You know the drill.  Let me know if you’ve read any of these and whether you think I should keep it on my list. These have all been on my Goodreads list since 2012!

Round 4

The Bungalow: A NovelIn the summer of 1942, twenty-one-year-old Anne Calloway, newly engaged, sets off to serve in the Army Nurse Corps on the Pacific island of Bora-Bora. More exhilarated by the adventure of a lifetime than she ever was by her predictable fiancé, she is drawn to a mysterious soldier named Westry, and their friendship soon blossoms into hues as deep as the hibiscus flowers native to the island. Under the thatched roof of an abandoned beach bungalow, the two share a private world-until they witness a gruesome crime, Westry is suddenly redeployed, and the idyll vanishes into the winds of war.

I want to keep it because I really like Jio.  

Lloyd and Nise say yes!


How to Be an Everyday Philanthropist: 330 Ways to Make a Difference in Your Home, Community, and World-at No Cost! Want to help make your community, your town—your world—a better place, but don’t know where to begin? How To Be An Everyday Philanthropist shows you the way. A handbook, a resource guide, a call to action, and an inspiration, it offers 330 concrete, direct ideas for making a difference—all of which have nothing to do with the size of your checkbook and everything to do with using the hidden assets that are already a part of your life. Whether you’re shopping, working, exercising, or surfing the Web, there are hundreds of ways to slip small but deeply meaningful acts of philanthropy into your life, using 330 of the most innovative and effective charitable organizations around.

It could be dated but still might be worth flipping through.


Title: Now You See Me: A Lacey Flint Novel, Author: Sharon Bolton One night after interviewing a reluctant witness at a London apartment complex, Lacey Flint, a young detective constable, stumbles onto a woman brutally stabbed just moments before in the building’s darkened parking lot. Within twenty-four hours a reporter receives an anonymous letter that points out alarming similarities between the murder and Jack the Ripper’s first murder—a letter that calls out Lacey by name. If it’s real, and they have a killer bent on re-creating London’s bloody past, history shows they have just five days until the next attempt.

Murder mystery with Jack the Ripper intents?  Intrigued.

Kay is a definite yes!


Title: The Consolations of Philosophy, Author: Alain de Botton Alain de Botton’s The Consolations of Philosophy takes the discipline of logic and the mind back to its roots. Drawing inspiration from six of the finest minds in history – Socrates, Epicurus, Seneca, Montaigne, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche – he addresses lack of money, the pain of love, inadequacy, anxiety and conformity. De Botton’s book led one critic to call philosophy ‘the new rock and roll’.

I wonder if this would be too dry.


Title: My Name is Memory, Author: Ann Brashares Daniel has spent centuries falling in love with the same girl. Life after life, crossing continents and dynasties, he and Sophia (despite her changing name and form) have been drawn together-and he remembers it all. Daniel has “the memory”, the ability to recall past lives and recognize souls of those he’s previously known. It is a gift and a curse. For all the times that he and Sophia have been drawn together throughout history, they have also been torn painfully, fatally, apart. A love always too short.

Interwoven through Sophia and Daniel’s unfolding present day relationship are glimpses of their expansive history together. From 552 Asia Minor to 1918 England and 1972 Virginia, the two souls share a long and sometimes torturous path of seeking each other time and time again. But just when young Sophia (now “Lucy” in the present) finally begins to awaken to the secret of their shared past, to understand the true reason for the strength of their attraction, the mysterious force that has always torn them apart reappears. Ultimately, they must come to understand what stands in the way of their love if they are ever to spend a lifetime together.

I want to hear from someone who has read it!

Michelle says yes!


Title: In the Belly of Jonah (Liv Bergen Series #1), Author: Sandra Brannan In the Belly of Jonah is a fast-paced mystery with a likable protagonist and an intricately woven narrative brimming with bizarre yet believable twists. The first in a series, the book expertly lays the groundwork for Liv Bergen, amateur sleuth, and her love interest, FBI Agent Streeter Pierce. Liv becomes involved in the investigation of the murder of Jill Brannigan, a summer intern at the limestone mine Liv manages near Fort Collins, Colorado (a breathtaking setting that unwittingly becomes an accessory to crime). In doing so, she inadvertently puts her friends, her family, and herself at risk of being swallowed in the belly of a madman bloated with perverse appetites for women, surrealistic art, and renown.

Could be good?


Title: Beauty Queens, Author: Libba Bray The 50 contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras.  But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.  What’s a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program – or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan – or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?

This looks like campy fun.

Nise says skip it.

Read it here.


Title: The Sacred Cipher: A Novel, Author: Terry Brennan When an ancient scroll appears in a secret room of the Bowery Mission in New York City, Tom Bohannon is both stunned and intrigued. The enigma of the scroll’s contents will send Bohannon and his team ricocheting around the world, drawing the heat of both Jewish and Muslim militaries, and bringing the Middle East to the brink of nuclear war in this heart-pounding adventure of historical proportions. The Sacred Cipher is a riveting, fact-based tale of mystery and suspense.

I don’t know.  I just suffered through Dan Brown’s Origin so I’m not sure I have an appetite for this one.

Nise says skip it.


Children of the Waters Trish Taylor’s white ancestry never got in the way of her love for her black ex-husband, or their mixed race son, Will. But when Trish’s marriage ends, she returns to her family’s Denver, Colorado home to find a sense of identity and connect to her past.
What she finds there shocks her to the very core: her mother and newborn sister were not killed in a car crash as she was told. In fact, her baby sister, Billie Cousins, is now a grown woman; her grandparents had put her up for adoption, unwilling to raise the child of a black man.
Billie, who had no idea she was adopted, wants nothing to do with Trish until a tragedy in Billie’s own family forces her to lean on her surprisingly supportive and sympathetic sister. Together they unravel age-old layers of secrets and resentments and navigate a path toward love, healing, and true reconciliation.

Sound like it has a lot going on.


Title: Ethel and Ernest, Author: Raymond Briggs Poignant, funny, and utterly original, Ethel & Ernest is Raymond Briggs’s loving depiction of his parents’ lives from their first chance encounter in the 1920s until their deaths in the 1970s.Ethel and Ernest are solid members of the working class, part of the generation (Brokaw’s “Greatest Generation”) that lived through the tumultuous era of the twentieth century. They meet during the Depression — she working as a chambermaid, he as a milkman — and we follow them as they encounter, and cope with, World War II, the advent of radio and t.v., telephones and cars, the atomic bomb, the moon landing. Briggs’s portrayal of his parents as they succeed, or fail, in coming to terms with their rapidly shifting world is irresistably engaging — full of sympathy and affection, yet clear-eyed and unsentimental.

The book’s strip-cartoon format is deceptively simple; it possesses a wealth of detail and an emotional depth that are remarkable in such a short volume.

Maybe if I go on a graphic kick.


How to participate:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf
  • Order by Ascending Date Added
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or let it go?

Best of the Oscar Bests – Movies

Here’s the list that is easier to make since I know what I like and how the movie made me feel when I was done watching it.  Do you have a favorite Oscar winner?  How many of my favorites have you watched?

Best Picture Oscar Winners

  1. The Sound of Music (1966) Sentimental favorite.
  2. Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2004) I consider this a win for the whole trilogy.
  3. Titanic (1998)
  4. The Bridge on the River Kwai (1958)
  5. Schindler’s List (1993)
  6. Crash (2006)
  7. The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
  8. The Godfather (1973 & The Godfather II (1975)

The Best Years of Our Lives film poster.jpg The Bridge on the River Kwai poster.jpg   "The Godfather" written on a black background in stylized white lettering, above it a hand holds puppet strings Schindler's List movie.jpg The film poster shows a man and a woman hugging over a picture of the Titanic's bow. In the background is a partly cloudy sky and at the top are the names of the two lead actors. The middle has the film's name and tagline, and the bottom contains a list of the director's previous works, as well as the film's credits, rating, and release date. Lord of the Rings - The Return of the King.jpg Crash ver2.jpg Poster with an illustration of actress Julie Andrews dancing in the mountains

 

Best of the Oscar Bests – the Gents

We started with the ladies yesterday so today let’s talk about my favorite actors who have won Oscars for their performances.

Best Actor Oscar Winners

Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird was perfection.  Did you know that the actor who played Tom Robinson in TKAM read the eulogy at Peck’s funeral?  I love that!  He won the 1962 Oscar.

Jimmy Stewart won the 1940 Oscar for playing Mike Connor in my favorite movie The Philadelphia Story.  The cast was full of all-stars and he shone as bright as any of them.  Not many people can say they were WWII and Vietnam War vets AND be one of the best and most beloved actors of all time.

Anthony Hopkins was masterful in 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs as Hannibal Lecter.  That role is iconic and one of the most chilling villains ever.

Dustin Hoffman‘s 1988 win for his portrayal of an autistic Raymond Babbit  in Rain Man is what has him on my shortlist, but he also won in 1979 for Kramer Vs. Kramer.

Marlon Brando‘s iconic role was Vito Corleone in The Godfather movies, for which he won and Oscar in 1972, but it was his turn in On the Waterfront that made me sit up and take notice.  He won the Oscar for that in 1954.

 

Best Supporting Actor Winners

Jared Leto as Rayon in Dallas Buyer’s Club was heart wrenching and totally deserving of his 2013 trophy.

Lou Gossett Jr.’s 1982 win for and An Officer and a Gentleman was refreshing.  Whenever I catch parts of the movie on tv I’m always looking forward to the scenes with Gossett and Richard Gere.

Kevin Spacey is not a popular choice these days but his role in The Usual Suspects when he won his first Oscar in 1995 was so good.  He also won Best Actor in 1999 for American Beauty.

Tommy Lee Jones won in 1993 for The Fugitive.  He was the perfect foil for Harrison Ford.

 

So do you have a favorite among my favorites?

 

 

 

 

Best of the Oscar Best – The Ladies

We are a movie loving house.  Somehow Jason finds more time to watch movies on his own than I do, but we see plenty together and with Gage.  On Friday Gage and I had a lunch and movie date to see the Lego Movie Part 2 and then Jason and I had a dinner and movie date to see Green Book.  That has never happened before but it was fun.  I like to watch the Golden Globes and the Oscars.  I admit the Red Carpet is my favorite thing to catch if I can.  All of those beautiful gowns!!

So I perused a list of past winners and thought I’d feature some of my favorites and see what you think.  I’m basing them on the performance, but the win wasn’t always my favorite movie of theirs.  Also, as I looked through the list I realized how many deserving women got robbed!

Best Actress Oscar winners.

Katherine Hepburn is my girl.  She did not win an Oscar for my favorite of her performances but did win a total of 4.  My favorite of the four was probably her 1968 win as Eleanor of Aquitaine in The Lion in Winter.  She also won for Morning Glory (1932/33), Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner (1967) and On Golden Pond (1981).  Her independent nature and the sparkle in her eye make me love seeing her onscreen.

Audrey Hepburn (no relation) also won for a movie that wasn’t my favorite, but I did love her 1953 win for Roman Holiday as Princess Ann.   As much as I loved her onscreen it was her life and an activist that makes me love her.

Jodie Foster won two deserving Oscars.  One in 1988 for The Accused and one in 1991 for The Silence of the Lambs.  As dark as Lambs was the acting in that movie was so, so good.

Elizabeth Taylor also won two Oscars, but it’s the 1966 win for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf that gets her on my shortlist.  Jason and I watched it last month.  What a performance.  She also won in 1960 for Butterfield 8.  As a teen I remember thinking she was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen when I’d watch her older films.

Shirley MacLaine won the 1983 Oscar for Terms of Endearment, a movie that wrecked me.  I always think of her first in The Apartment for a role that she was nominated for but she lost to Elizabeth Taylor.

 

Best Supporting Actress Oscar Winners

Jane Darwell as Ma Joad in 1940’s Grapes of Wrath was a perfection.  It’s funny as I was reading through the list I didn’t recognize the name, but when I saw the movie listed I pictured her perfectly in my mind because she was that good.

Ruth Gordon was so good and so bad in Rosemary’s Baby and totally deserved her 1968 Oscar.

Octavia Spencer pretty much elevates any movie she’s in and I was happy to see her win in 2011 for The Help.  I wouldn’t want to accept any pies from her though 🙂

Rita Moreno added energy to West Side Story and earned her 1961 Oscar.  WSS is not one of my favorite movies, but I did really like her performance.

 

Do any of my favorites jump out as your own?  Most of these are for older movies, but a favorite is a favorite.

 

An evening with Paula McLain

IMG_5456 (2)Our local library system, Cuyahoga County Public Library, has been hosting these A Cook and A Book events for a while, but I’d not been to one.  Now I may sign up for all of them regardless of the author!  What a great format.  It’s in the upstairs rooms of my favorite grocery store and we were greeted with Hemingway’s favorite daquiri (yum).  The charming Paula McLain talked about spending 14 years in the foster system of Fresno, California and her first paid writing gig – $25 for a poem in Cosmopolitan magazine.  She received her MFA from University of Michigan before allowing Cleveland to call her one of its own 15 years ago.  Of course, she talked about her books.  I’ve only read (and loved) Circling the Sun, but  her first bestseller The Paris Wife was about Hemingway’s first wife and her latest, Love and Ruin, is about his third.  She was granted access to Hemingway’s Cuban home (now a museum that the public can’t enter) and was able to spend three days there going through the house.  Which led to the last bit of the evening, Martha’s Mojo Criollo recipe that I’ll share with you.  We all got to try it and it was tasty.  It was a full hour and a half and a lot of fun.  I was going to read Love & Ruin, but when she explained that Hemingway’s son from The Paris Wife shows up in Love and Run all grown up I realized that I wanted to read them in order.  She was entertaining and warm and showed a lot of love for bad ass women (her words and mine :)).

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First Book and One Word

Sheila over at Book Journey has hosted us book bloggers on the first of the year to share what we’ve chosen for our first book of the year AND invited us all to choose one word to be our focus for the year.  I’m so glad she continues to do this.

2019

Yesterday, Gage took this pic of me and my first book, Bellewether by Susanna Kearsley.

IMG_E5146  I was excited to receive 7 books as gifts in December, but am the most excited about the lastest Kearsley. I hope to get an hour in today, but since Jason’s home from work I have a feeling more furniture shopping and cleaning may take up most of the day.  We’re hoping to sleep in our bedroom for the first time since May.

 

my-one-word-300x180I was planning to write a post last week about all of our house tragedies and silver linings.  I’ve shared updates on the blog, but I haven’t always gone into the nitty gritty feelings and stress of having to be home surfing half the year, having to get rid of lifelong possessions (yes, this means my books too), and moving back into a house with no flooring, molding, curtains, furniture. etc., not to mention the financial burden… Well, you can imagine, I think, how off kilter you might feel if it happened to you.  I feel like I’ve barely held on to my sanity some days.

So, my word for 2019 is one that has been rolling around in my head for a few weeks.  After a year of flying by the seat of my pants my focus for 2019 is PURPOSE.  I can take back a little of my life living with more purpose in how I spend my time, the choices I make for my health, in the things to which I say yes, and the new things we bring back into our home. Bring it on 2019 🙂


So what’s your first book of the year going to be? And do you have a word you’d like to focus on this year?