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Thread: Mom's Book Thread ~ Week 23 (June 3 - June 9)

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    Default Mom's Book Thread ~ Week 23 (June 3 - June 9)

    everyone. It's wonderful to be back. Thank you all for your kind words , and Stacia, thank you for starting this thread every week !

    Please share what you've been reading. I'd like to catch up and write reviews of the books that I've been reading. Because of lack of time and energy, I've only got one review ready. As always, I write my reviews mainly for myself even if no one else reads them. I like going back on Good Reads sometimes and reading my review (as well as those of my friends), seeing how I felt about a particular book at a certain time. I like having that record.

    The Hills of Tuscany - 3 Stars - This memoir was a bit slow in that there wasn’t much in the way of plot and dialog, yet the descriptions were wonderful. I mean it is Tuscany after all! I enjoyed reading this shortly before our recent visit there. I always enjoy reading books about places that I’m about to visit. To be honest, I would only recommend this book if you’re planning on visiting Tuscany. Again, it is quite tedious otherwise. Tuscany will forever have a special place in my heart.

    Here's one of the pictures we took in the Tuscan countryside.







    MY RATING SYSTEM
    5 Stars
    Fantastic, couldn't put it down
    4 Stars
    Really Good
    3 Stars
    Enjoyable
    2 Stars
    Just Okay – nothing to write home about
    1 Star
    Rubbish – waste of my money and time. Few books make it to this level, since I usually give up on them if they’re that bad.
    "There is no peace that cannot be found in the present moment." - Tasha Tudor

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    Negin, Kathleen also helped start the threads!

    Welcome back. The Tuscan landscape photo is lovely. Hope the vacation was wonderful & relaxing for all of you.

    I finished The Conjure Woman and Other Conjure Tales by Charles W. Chesnutt. I found it a fascinating & thought-provoking collection of stories (one author, all stories have something to do with "conjuring" or "hoodoo" as it related to the post-Civil War era in rural NC). The conceit surrounding all the stories centers around a northern couple who have relocated to NC for the climate (for the wife's health). Once there, they hire Julius who was once a slave. Most every chapter starts with the white landowner setting the scene, then Julius mentioning something that will lead to a story he will tell his audience. All of Julius' stories are told in heavy dialect & are based on African-American/slave folk tales. It's quite a bit of oral folklore being set into print. Many have an underlying, heartbreaking message related to the horrors of slavery, but are still told in a somewhat understated way. A very worthy & worthwhile collection to read.

    I also read In a Free State by V.S. Naipaul. Naipaul is an exquisite writer. This collection of stories addresses states of freedom -- from the intimacy within one's own mind all the way to the vastness of a country's political upheaval, along with various states in between. A malaise surrounds the narratives, all relating to displaced protagonists, wandering, not at home anywhere, I think; I say that because there's a certain disconnectedness roving through the hearts & souls of these words, something that works to keep all of the characters as outsiders from themselves & others &, yet, still human. Is anyone ever really in a free state? Recommended.

    I read the Naipaul book because this year, in honor of its 50th anniversary, the Man Booker is giving a "one-off" prize (called the Golden Man Booker) to one of the previous Booker winners. Judges narrowed down the selections to a final list of five books (one from each decade the Man Booker has given out prizes) & now the public can vote on those five here.

    The five shortlisted books are:
    • In a Free State by V.S. Naipaul
    • Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively
    • The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
    • Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
    • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

    Of the five, I had already read The English Patient (gorgeous writing, but I hated the characters & the story); Wolf Hall (tried to read this one twice but never made it through as the unclear pronoun references drove me batty); and Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (which I enjoyed but I'm not sure it would represent the best of 50 years of the Man Booker). I want to vote, so I read In a Free State (the one I'd vote for so far) & have Moon Tiger sitting here to read. I just need to read it in the next week or two so I will be able to vote in time.

    Currently, I'm reading What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine. Saw this one on a few lists of good new books. Liking it so far.

    And, still working on A Moment in the Sun by John Sayles, which is a great book, but will take me many more weeks to finish (at about 1,000 pages).

    (Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association.)
    Celebrate your freedom to read! Read a banned book!

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    Kathleen, thank you also! I apologize. I still haven't had time to go back and look through the threads that I've missed. I always enjoy doing that, so that I can see some possible book suggestions.
    "There is no peace that cannot be found in the present moment." - Tasha Tudor

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    Oh Negin, the Tuscan landscape is stunning. Thank you for sharing. Last week I read a book from a summer reading guide that was a bit racy, but a lovely bit of "nothing important to think about." The Wedding Date (Jasmine Guillory)had well developed characters and a certain charm. It's relatively new (published January 2018) and would qualify as a well written beach read. I tried to read another book from the list, The Boat People by Sharon Bala. Had I read it a few months ago, I probably would have enjoyed it. HOWEVER, it has striking similarities to something currently getting quite a bit of news time and I put it down in tears. What I read was extraordinary. The horrors of the journey and the civil war (it's about refugees from Sri Lanka), and the human aspect of trauma, hope, faith in a better future and the anguish of a parent trying to protect one's child(ren). Sigh..This novel is so well written but I can't read it now. Moving on...So back to the list and I'm reading, The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin. I've barely started it but it's about two women who have been best friends since their early twenties, they're both medical doctors and they live in the same town. The writing is crisp and realistic and the characters seem to be well developed. I'll keep you posted! Happy reading friends.
    Last edited by Michele; 06-03-2018 at 06:37 PM. Reason: Stacia, I totally agree on your assessment of The English Patient!!
    IN THE END, ONLY KINDNESS MATTERS
    Mom to 5 girls and 5 furry kids too
    20 Years Homeschooling and still learning

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    Thanks for sharing, Negin! That picture is gorgeous--I'd love to try and paint it, but I think it would be quite difficult to capture it well. Tuscany is on my bucket list--so glad you were able to visit there!

    Stacia, have you ever read Ondaatje's Anil's Ghost? I haven't read The English Patient, but I quite enjoyed the other and actually used it in a "Crime & Ethics" class I used to teach. It's a disturbing story in some ways, but intriguing.

    We've been testing here, plus my own teaching and writing projects. So I decided to indulge in an easy read, which is still taking some time to get through due to my schedule! It's The Austen Escape by Kathrine Reay. I don't know how I keep reading this author's books--every time I do, I'm frustrated and disappointed, yet it's like a moth to a flame. The Austen hook gets me every time! So far (I'm about half way done), she's spending more time dealing with the Austen motif, which has been enjoyable. Hopefully it ends up being better than the others I've read by her!
    Mama of two lovely ladies: Carina (11) & Madelyn (9).

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    I just finished The Map of Salt and Stars and I LOVED it!! It is set during the beginning of the Syrian refugee crisis. There are two synonymous stories being told; one is set in modern day Syria and the other is in Syria as well but I think that story takes place in the 1100s. I got the book from the library but I bought my own copy today cause this is a keeper.

    Michelle, you and I are reading similar books as I am reading from the summer reading guide as well. I have The Boat People on my shelf but based on your words maybe I will wait awhile before I start on it. I, too, am reading The Queen of Hearts. I just started it so I have no thoughts on it as of yet.

    I have also just started The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey (I think this is a mystery) and Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira Lee. I'm looking forward to diving into these books.
    Julia
    mom of 3 -- dd (18), ds (17) and dd (15)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vicki P in VA View Post
    Stacia, have you ever read Ondaatje's Anil's Ghost? I haven't read The English Patient, but I quite enjoyed the other and actually used it in a "Crime & Ethics" class I used to teach. It's a disturbing story in some ways, but intriguing.
    No. I will have to look for it. Thanks! I do have his book Divisadero sitting here (picked it up at a recent library sale). And, quite a few years ago, I read his book The Cat's Table & absolutely loved it. Here's what I wrote about The Cat's Table on Goodreads:
    Gorgeous. He's an absolute master of prose, imo. Though he writes that the book is fiction, it reads almost as a mix of an autobiographical remembrance of a series of events (centered around a ship voyage from Ceylon to Britain when the protagonist is 11yo) & musings on how seemingly small events, chance encounters, & memories can alter the path of one's life. Part seems so real, so grounded in reality, yet much of the writing has the dreamy, hazy quality of memories from a long time ago, where you might wonder if you're remembering something as it happened or as you think or wanted it to happen. Some scathingly funny sections had me chuckling, while other sections were more somber & serious & had me musing....

    Also, all through reading it, I kept thinking that if I could have someone who would write my diaries for me, capture a myriad of fleeting moments, I'd want Michael Ondaatje to be the one writing mine. (It doesn't matter that I don't keep a diary or a journal, or that it would be strange to have someone else putting my memories on paper through a mind meld or something; I would just want him writing, burnishing, perfecting these little life mosaics of mine.)

    I will make note that I read his book "The English Patient" many years ago. While I adored his prose in that book, I didn't care for the story itself (at all). I'm so glad I gave him another try because I was just transported & blown away by "The Cat's Table". Loved it.

    Gorgeous, luscious, & highly recommended.

    Quote Originally Posted by JuliaT View Post
    I just finished The Map of Salt and Stars and I LOVED it!! It is set during the beginning of the Syrian refugee crisis. There are two synonymous stories being told; one is set in modern day Syria and the other is in Syria as well but I think that story takes place in the 1100s. I got the book from the library but I bought my own copy today cause this is a keeper.
    Going to look this one up right now. Sounds great. Thanks for the recommendation.

    (Artwork courtesy of the American Library Association.)
    Celebrate your freedom to read! Read a banned book!

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    I haven't had time to read everyone's posts, but will hopefully do so later today.

    Kindle book on sale today

    "There is no peace that cannot be found in the present moment." - Tasha Tudor

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    Thank you all for your sweet and kind words regarding the picture and our vacation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michele View Post
    People[/I] by Sharon Bala. Had I read it a few months ago, I probably would have enjoyed it. HOWEVER, it has striking similarities to something currently getting quite a bit of news time and I put it down in tears. What I read was extraordinary. The horrors of the journey and the civil war
    Michele, sorry that "The Boat People" was so painful.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vicki P in VA View Post
    We've been testing here, plus my own teaching and writing projects. So I decided to indulge in an easy read, which is still taking some time to get through due to my schedule! It's The Austen Escape by Kathrine Reay. I don't know how I keep reading this author's books--every time I do, I'm frustrated and disappointed, yet it's like a moth to a flame. The Austen hook gets me every time! So far (I'm about half way done), she's spending more time dealing with the Austen motif, which has been enjoyable. Hopefully it ends up being better than the others I've read by her!
    Vicki, I hope that you do get to visit Tuscany someday, hopefully soon!
    Sorry that "The Austen Escape" is frustrating. I can relate to being drawn to certain books. I do that from time to time also and then I question myself.

    Quote Originally Posted by JuliaT View Post
    I just finished The Map of Salt and Stars and I LOVED it!!
    Michelle, you and I are reading similar books as I am reading from the summer reading guide as well. I have The Boat People on my shelf but based on your words maybe I will wait awhile before I start on it. I, too, am reading The Queen of Hearts. I just started it so I have no thoughts on it as of yet.
    I have also just started The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey (I think this is a mystery) and Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira Lee. I'm looking forward to diving into these books.
    Julia, these all sound interesting and I'm going to look into them.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by Stacia View Post
    Negin, Kathleen also helped start the threads!

    Welcome back. The Tuscan landscape photo is lovely. Hope the vacation was wonderful & relaxing for all of you.

    I finished The Conjure Woman and Other Conjure Tales by Charles W. Chesnutt. I found it a fascinating & thought-provoking collection of stories (one author, all stories have something to do with "conjuring" or "hoodoo" as it related to the post-Civil War era in rural NC). The conceit surrounding all the stories centers around a northern couple who have relocated to NC for the climate (for the wife's health). Once there, they hire Julius who was once a slave. Most every chapter starts with the white landowner setting the scene, then Julius mentioning something that will lead to a story he will tell his audience. All of Julius' stories are told in heavy dialect & are based on African-American/slave folk tales. It's quite a bit of oral folklore being set into print. Many have an underlying, heartbreaking message related to the horrors of slavery, but are still told in a somewhat understated way. A very worthy & worthwhile collection to read.

    I also read In a Free State by V.S. Naipaul. Naipaul is an exquisite writer. This collection of stories addresses states of freedom -- from the intimacy within one's own mind all the way to the vastness of a country's political upheaval, along with various states in between. A malaise surrounds the narratives, all relating to displaced protagonists, wandering, not at home anywhere, I think; I say that because there's a certain disconnectedness roving through the hearts & souls of these words, something that works to keep all of the characters as outsiders from themselves & others &, yet, still human. Is anyone ever really in a free state? Recommended.

    I read the Naipaul book because this year, in honor of its 50th anniversary, the Man Booker is giving a "one-off" prize (called the Golden Man Booker) to one of the previous Booker winners. Judges narrowed down the selections to a final list of five books (one from each decade the Man Booker has given out prizes) & now the public can vote on those five here.

    The five shortlisted books are:
    • In a Free State by V.S. Naipaul
    • Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively
    • The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
    • Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
    • Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

    Of the five, I had already read The English Patient (gorgeous writing, but I hated the characters & the story); Wolf Hall (tried to read this one twice but never made it through as the unclear pronoun references drove me batty); and Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (which I enjoyed but I'm not sure it would represent the best of 50 years of the Man Booker). I want to vote, so I read In a Free State (the one I'd vote for so far) & have Moon Tiger sitting here to read. I just need to read it in the next week or two so I will be able to vote in time.

    Currently, I'm reading What Should Be Wild by Julia Fine. Saw this one on a few lists of good new books. Liking it so far.

    And, still working on A Moment in the Sun by John Sayles, which is a great book, but will take me many more weeks to finish (at about 1,000 pages).
    Stacia, I've also tried and tried "Wolf Hall". Nice to know that I'm not the only one!
    I remember reading some Naipaul back in high school, since he's from Trinidad and so close to us.
    "There is no peace that cannot be found in the present moment." - Tasha Tudor

  10. #10
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    Hello reading friends!

    Negin, your trip just looks so amazing!

    I'm late to the thread because the internet was out in my area for a long time yesterday. Oh the humanity! How are we to live without internet?

    Remember when Amazon had a bunch of freebies recently for World Book Day? I've started and discarded two of those: The Light of the Fireflies by Paul Pen and Still Waters by Viveca Sten. Fireflies is kind of dark and overly obtuse. Still Waters reads like a made for TV crime story. I gave each a chance but neither grabbed me. I'd be interested to hearing reactions to any of the World Book Day selections that any of you read. You may feel very different about the two books I mentioned!

    Next up for me is The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn. A friend read it in her book club and couldn't put it down. I have no idea what to expect from the book, so I'll let you know what I think as I dig in.
    ~eclectic homeschooling mom of 3

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