• Friday Reads – 8/12/22

    Happy Friday!

    These are the books I am currently reading or plan to read into the next week.

    I honestly don’t know how much reading I will get done this weekend, we have an anniversary party on Saturday and plan on visiting my mother-in-law on Sunday to watch a religious convention together.

    Babel is such a surprise for me. When I requested it on NetGalley, I thought it was a shot in the dark and that I wouldn’t be able to review it. I was SHOCKED when it came back I could. I am about 10 percent through and I have a LOT to say though I will hold back my thoughts until I am done. From the first page, you see what the hype is about and why you are seeing this book everywhere. I will say that the opening reminds me so much of Dickens and what Dickens does right in a story- let me stop. I said I would save it for the final review.

    The other book and play are part of my Short Classics Project. I am not looking forward to Heart of Darkness, I have heard such mixed things about it. But I want to keep an open mind.

    Happy reading!

  • Short Classics Project – Book Review: Uncle Vanya

    Author: Anton Chekov

    Rating: 3/5 stars

    Book Blurb: First produced by the Moscow Art Theater in 1899, Uncle Vanya is one of Chekhov’s greatest plays and a staple of the theatrical repertoire. Both structurally and psychologically compact, it is among the most expressive of the Russian playwright’s dramatic works.
    Set on an estate in nineteenth-century Russia, this deeply emotional tale of misplaced idealism and unrequited love concerns the complex interrelationships between a retired professor, his second wife, and his brother-in-law and daughter from a previous marriage. In deceptively mundane dialogue, the characters reveal their private tragedies — weakness and inability to communicate — the failures that lead them to lives of frustration and despair. Nevertheless, Chekhov’s delineation of human frailties elicits sympathy for even the most irresolute and deluded characters, and the play’s underlying message is one of courage and hope.

    Let’s see, where to begin…I loved this play when I was in my early twenties because when Sonya confesses she has a crush on the doctor in the story, Helena says something like, ‘Let me just ask if he likes you, anything is better than uncertainty.’ And Sonya says, ‘No, because at least with uncertainty, there is hope.’ And my young, watched too many romantic comedies mind was like, THAT IS SO ROMANTIC! THE ANGST!

    Needless to say, I don’t subscribe to that line of thinking anymore. Such thinking keeps you trapped and pining when you could be, ya know, living. So upon this re-read I picked up on quite a few different things. One was that these poor people needed therapy. Another, was that healthy boundaries within the family are a wonderful thing. Yet another was that Serebryakov, the retired professor Vanya was jealous of, was quite the narcissist. Proposing to sell the estate that your brother in law worked so hard on, you’ve basically did nothing to upkeep, that your elderly mother in law, brother in law and daughter currently live on, and that legally BELONGS TO YOUR DAUGHTER, JUST so you can benefit made me raise a shocked eyebrow.

    The book blurb is right about communication – Vanya’s pent up fury of emotions comes from not speaking up, Sonya needed to speak up about the doctor and stop pining, Helena needed to speak to her husband about their marriage and mutual unhappiness. The relationships are, as a result of this silence, extremely toxic. It was a great commentary on the ripple effect resentment can have when you do nothing to resolve it, and how grudges, envy and a lack of forgiveness can eat away at peripheral relationships.

    So I’d say worth a re-read.

  • Short Classics Project – Book Review: The Red Badge of Courage

    Author: Stephen Crane

    Rating: 3/5 stars

    Book Blurb: This classic novel of the American Civil War evokes the horrors of battle and the psychology of fear as it recounts the experience of a young, untried Union Army volunteer. Henry Fleming longs to prove himself by winning the “red badge beyond all doubt”. But when he finally does come under fire, he learns the grim truth about war’s “glory” and the real meaning of bravery.

    This was intense.

    When I researched the book for the short classics project I am doing, the review that stuck out to me the most was: “This book is about a coward.” The review was written by a veteran. My grandfather and father- in- law are veterans, but both have since passed away. After I finished the book, I wondered what their opinions would have been…

    Henry, who seems to be very young, is our protagonist. He spends the first portion of the book fantasizing about war … then once he is away from home, wondering if he will run when the fighting starts. The next portion he spends asking his fellow soldiers if they think they will run when the fighting starts and then judging the ones that say they won’t. I’ll give you two guesses as to what Henry does when the fighting actually starts.

    The book progresses and Henry comes around, or is hardened, or grows up- however you want to interpret it. This was a realistic, graphic view of battle. I was blown away by the fact that it was written in 1895. It was an uncomfortable read, but I’m glad to have read it.

  • Short Classics Project: Book Review – The Misanthrope

    Author: Molière

    Rating: 5/5 stars

    Book Blurb: Molière understood profoundly what makes us noble, pathetic, outrageous and funny, and in his splendid comedies satirized human folly to perfection. One of the best of his plays — and one of the greatest of all comedies — is The Misanthrope, first performed in 1666, when the King of France himself had assumed patronage of Molière’s company, and the actor/playwright was at the height of his career.


    Spotlighting the absurdities of social and literary pretension, The Misanthrope shows us a man who is quick to criticize the hypocrisies, inconsistencies and faults of others, yet remains blind to his own. As “the misanthrope” grows more and more irritable with others, the play becomes more and more entertaining, even as a happy ending for the hero seems less and less likely.

    I had to double check that this satire was really written in 1666. The themes were so timely!

    Our protagonist, Alceste, was so self righteous that he was someone I would not choose to spend a lot of time around. His friend, Philinte, was my favorite character, basically telling him to chill the heck out and that he would be better off if he would just take people as they were and not be so judgmental and severe. One of my favorite passages is this one, where Philinte says:

    Don’t take the manners of the time so hard!

    Be a bit merciful to human nature;

    Let us not judge it with the utmost rigour,

    But look upon its faults with some indulgence

    I see a hundred things each day, as you do,

    That might be better, were they different;

    And yet, whatever I see happening,

    I don’t fly in a passion, as you do;

    I quietly accept men as they are,

    Make up my mind to tolerate their conduct,

    And think my calmness is, for court or town,

    As good philosophy as is your choler

    You see, Alceste prided himself on an unyielding, tactless ‘honesty’ that he thought was vital to his integrity. He was pharisaical. And because he mercilessly picked apart imperfect people, he delusionally thought himself the only virtuous person left well…anywhere. His harshness made him so… brittle. My favorite part was when Philinte was counseling him about a particular situation and said in so many words, ‘You know this is not as bad you think, I’m sure you could talk this out and come to a compromise’ and the main character was all ‘nope, I’m not even gonna try cuz I can wear this trial as a badge of honor and complain about it for all my days and everyone can see how virtuous I am’- and I felt like this described half the people I knew. An attitude of my virtuousness trumps my own peace, that of others and even a meeting of the minds – the goal is to win, not win over, or to reach another’s heart and come to an understanding.

    I love the examination of these themes. I liked that it made me see myself in both characters depending on what the situation is. I liked that the comedy made it easier to hear both sides in a way I would not have otherwise.

    Anything that gets you thinking on this level about yourself and the world around you is worth a read. It’s short, it may take an hour or two to read, but it will stay with you much longer than that.

    Recommend!

  • Book Review: Hyperion

    Author: Dan Simmons

    Rating: 2/5 stars

    This was a re-read.

    I remember being amazed the first time I read this. The way the stories all wove together, the fear of the Shrike. I thought it was genius! All of which, for the most part, remains true.

    However, I had overlooked the gore and the religious ‘discussions’ – if that’s what we want to call them. I must have, cuz here they are – front and center. As a religious person, a Christian, I got a creepy, uneasy feeling anticipating the overall arc of the story so I went on line, checked and yep- I will not be continuing with the series.

    This book and this series is not for me.

    Onto the next book on my TBR…

  • Book Review: The Summer of Broken Rules

    Author: K.L. Walther

    Rating: 3/5 stars

    Book Blurb:

    Meredith’s family’s annual game of assassin at Martha’s Vineyard during a summer wedding is the perfect chance to honor her sister’s legacy, and finally join the world again. But when she forms an alliance with a cute groomsman, she’s at risk of losing both the game … and her heart.

    When Meredith Fox lost her sister, Claire, eighteen months ago, she shut everyone out. But this summer she’s determined to join the world again.

    The annual family vacation to Martha’s Vineyard seems like the perfect place to reconnect. Her entire extended family is gathering for a big summer wedding, and although Meredith is dateless after being unexpectedly dumped, she’s excited to participate in the traditional Fox family game of assassin that will take place during the week of wedding festivities. Claire always loved the game, and Meredith is determined to honor her legacy.

    But when Meredith forms an assassin alliance with a cute groomsman, she finds herself getting distracted. Meredith tries to focus on the game and win it for her sister, but she can’t help falling for him. And as the week progresses, she realizes she’s not only at risk of losing the game, but also her heart.

    This was an ok read for me.

    This book dealt with the subject of grief as Meredith’s sister passed away a year or so before this summer trip/wedding. The subject is handled well, though Meredith’s actions at times were frustrating in how she dealt with those that reached out to her. But that is grief isn’t it? Everyone handles it differently.

    The romance was meh for me. It felt stilted and not a lot of chemistry.

    Where this book nailed the landing was in how the author made Martha’s Vineyard come alive on the page. It was its own character and I looked forward to reading the book MORE for the scenery than the plot, which is rare for me. Definitely a great summer book in that sense, it made me want to visit.

    So a half hearted Recommend! from me.

  • Book Review: Recursion

    Author: Blake Crouch

    Rating: 4/5 stars

    Book Blurb: Reality is broken.
     
    At first, it looks like a disease. An epidemic that spreads through no known means, driving its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived. But the force that’s sweeping the world is no pathogen. It’s just the first shock wave, unleashed by a stunning discovery—and what’s in jeopardy is not our minds but the very fabric of time itself.
     
    In New York City, Detective Barry Sutton is closing in on the truth—and in a remote laboratory, neuroscientist Helena Smith is unaware that she alone holds the key to this mystery . . . and the tools for fighting back.
     

    Together, Barry and Helena will have to confront their enemy—before they, and the world, are trapped in a loop of ever-growing chaos.

    This was good!

    This book led to some great conversations about time travel with my husband. I told him I wanted to discuss some of the book’s science behind time travel and he said, “Are we using Back to the Future rules or no?”

    So no, we are not neuroscientists.

    You also could have done a drinking game for the times “We tried… and we failed,” was said by the main characters in the book. Goodness gracious.

    So my review? Oh yeah… this was a solid thriller. I did not know how this story would resolve and I liked that. I read it quickly, once you start the last 100 pages or so just cancel what you have planned until you are done. I also liked how Crouch made the science accessible for us Back to the Future fans in the vein of Michael Crichton and Anthony Weir. Though I still question if things would play out the way Crouch says it would…

    But again, I’m not a neuroscientist. I don’t even know how a flux capacitor works.

    Recommend!

    Definitely recommend!

  • August 2022 TBR!

    Here is my TBR for August!

    I was having a discussion with my husband and he asked me how many unread books I have. As I was carefully avoiding giving the answer, I thought about a way to work down my TBR. As a result, I am committed to reading the oldest books on my TBR in order, one after the other. When one finishes, just start the next. There is enough variety so as not to get bored. We will see how it goes.

    The only re-read is Hyperion – this was a five star read for me a few years ago. I want to finish the Hyperion Cantos this year and I have committed to doing so. I find I start series and love them – but I never finish them cuz I’m off to the new and shiny. So I have a whole bunch of unfinished series, which is frustrating. I am going to fix that.

    Happy reading!

  • Friday Reads!!! 7/29/22

    Happy Friday!

    This is what I am currently reading. I am over half way through them and will review them when I am done.

    As you can see I switched up my TBR a little. Library holds came in!

    Biggest surprise so far? Recursion ! Oh my goodness – so good! I have enjoyed Blake Crouch’s books in the past and will definitely pick up his latest.

    Enjoy Your Weekend and Happy Reading!

  • Book Review: Survive the Night

    Author: Riley Sager

    Rating: 2/5 stars

    Book Blurb: It’s November 1991. Nirvana’s in the tape deck, George H. W. Bush is in the White House, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.

    Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the shocking murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father—or so he says.
     
    The longer she sits in the passenger seat, the more Charlie notices there’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t want her to see inside the trunk. As they travel an empty, twisty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly anxious Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s jittery mistrust merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?
     
    One thing is certain—Charlie has nowhere to run and no way to call for help. Trapped in a terrifying game of cat and mouse played out on pitch-black roads and in neon-lit parking lots, Charlie knows the only way to win is to survive the night.

    This was not a win for me.

    I wanted an edge of your seat thriller with twists I couldn’t see coming. I had read about Sager’s reputation and was hoping this would be a good fit. It was not. So much of this was predictable. Some of the twists made no sense – to explain, this book had multiple POVs. Sometimes the POV did not fit what you later learn the character knew all along.

    I should have known when Charlie got into the car of a strange man when there is an active serial killer on the loose, that I would just be screaming at the book, or taking deep sighs of frustration throughout the whole thing.

    I’m sure there’s better thrillers out there.

    I am not completely turned off by Sager though, there was enough here to make me want to pick up another book. This just may have been the one that didn’t gel with me.