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review 2016-09-19 12:30
MOBY-DICK; or THE WHALE by Herman Melville

 

MOBY-DICK; or THE WHALE
by Herman Melville
 
'Read Classic', an occasional series of posts on 
Kitchentablewriters.blogspot.com
 

 

 
 
A friend gave me my copy of Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville as a gift, around 15 years ago. It measures 6 1⁄2” by 4” by 1 1⁄2” with 798 gold-edged wafer-thin pages and 135 chapters, a ‘Collector’s Library’ edition, ‘complete and unabridged’.
 
When I first tried to read it, I got bored quickly. I was 150 pages in and they’d only just gone aboard The Pequod – 200 pages in and we still hadn’t met Ahab…
 
Steadily, I read less, until the little golden book was forgotten.
 
Then my reading group, bless them, decided that we should all read a different 19th century American work. I pulled out Moby-Dick, blew off its dust and started again.
 
Maybe I was in a different place, a different reading mindset. But instantly, I loved it. I dove into the rich, warming narrative – words that go on and on. I swam within them as if they were fish teeming in the Pacific. I’d finished it within the four allotted weeks, and watched the 1956 film, starring Gregory Peck as Ahab, with  a screenplay by Ray Bradbury. At the meeting, I read out the passages I particularly loved…
 
And then it was, that suddenly sweeping his sickle-shaped lower jaw beneath him, Moby Dick had reaped away Ahab's leg, as a mower a blade of grass in the field.... Small reason was there to doubt, then, that ever since that almost fatal encounter, Ahab had cherished a wild vindictiveness against the whale, all the more fell for that in his frantic morbidness he at last came to identify with him, not only all his bodily woes, but all his intellectual and spiritual exasperations.
 Chapter 41, Moby Dick
 
Herman Melville
Herman Melville was born in New York in 1819 and by the age of 13 was working in a bank. At 18 he completed his education and moved from job to job; school teacher, newspaper reporter, merchant sailor. He went West to (unsuccessfully) seek his fortune. Down on his luck he set sail on a whaler bound for the South Seas, where he spent time in the company of the natives. He detailed his adventures in a series of novels which, in his own lifetime, proved continually more popular than Moby-Dick. 
 
MOBY-DICK; or THE WHALE, first appeared in 1851, when he was 32. Now, it is considered his seminal work, and having read it, I know it is a masterpiece, a gothic philosophical allegory and a scathing satire on life. 
 
It is profoundly inventive, intense and ironic, the style and language standing alongside other great experimental novels, from Tristram Shandy  to Ulysses. I loved its soaring voice, which moves from long passages of soliloquy, through pieces of script format, to sharp and dramatic dialogue
 
…“Look ye! d'ye see this Spanish ounce of gold?"- holding up a broad bright coin to the sun- "it is a sixteen dollar piece, men. D'ye see it? Mr. Starbuck, hand me yon top-maul."
While the mate was getting the hammer, Ahab, without speaking, was slowly rubbing the gold piece against the skirts of his jacket, as if to heighten its lustre, and without using any words was meanwhile lowly humming to himself, producing a sound so strangely muffled and inarticulate that it seemed the mechanical humming of the wheels of his vitality in him.
Receiving the top-maul from Starbuck, he advanced towards the main-mast with the hammer uplifted in one hand, exhibiting the gold with the other, and with a high raised voice exclaiming: "Whosoever of ye raises me a white-headed whale with a wrinkled brow and a crooked jaw; whosoever of ye raises me that white-headed whale, with three holes punctured in his starboard fluke- look ye, whosoever of ye raises me that same white whale, he shall have this gold ounce, my boys!"
"Huzza! huzza!" cried the seamen, as with swinging tarpaulins they hailed the act of nailing the gold to the mast.
"It's a white whale, I say," resumed Ahab, as he threw down the topmaul: "a white whale. Skin your eyes for him, men; look sharp for white water; if ye see but a bubble, sing out."
All this while Tashtego, Daggoo, and Queequeg had looked on with even more intense interest and surprise than the rest, and at the mention of the wrinkled brow and crooked jaw they had started as if each was separately touched by some specific recollection.
"Captain Ahab," said Tashtego, "that white whale must be the same that some call Moby Dick.” 
Chapter 36, The Quarter-Deck.
 






Most of the information between the pages is now anachronistic and almost forgotten, but I was fascinated by how  whale blubber was rendered down on board into barrels of oil – how the first steak from a kill would be eaten ceremoniously. And yet, counterpointing all the minutiae and trivia, the ways of Moby Dick remain unknown. Melville (and Ishmael) are sure upon that; the white whale is like God in his Heaven, which makes Ahab a fool for trying to find and outdo him. The result, of course, is futile…and fatal.
 
The book teems with ideas, imagery and emotion, but between these subtleties lie those hard facts.  Melville makes use of his first-hand descriptions of whaling alongside an encyclopaedic knowledge of the nature of the whale…
 
The Forty-barrel-bull schools are larger than the harem schools. Like a mob of young collegians, they are full of fight, fun, and wickedness, tumbling round the world at such a reckless, rollicking rate, that no prudent underwriter would insure them any more than he would a riotous lad at Yale or Harvard. They soon relinquish this turbulence though, and when about three-fourths grown, break up, and separately go about in quest of settlements, that is, harems.
Another point of difference between the male and female schools is still more characteristic of the sexes. Say you strike a Forty-barrel-bull- poor devil! all his comrades quit him. But strike a member of the harem school, and her companions swim around her with every token of concern, sometimes lingering so near her and so long, as themselves to fall a prey.
Chapter 88, Schools and Schoolmasters
 
The book is chocked with symbolic motifs which develop and inform the text’s major themes, and I enjoyed spotting them. The first one is the colour white, which Ishmael, finds threatening; white waves albinos, whale spout…
 
It was while gliding through these latter waters that one serene and moonlight night, when all the waves rolled by like scrolls of silver; and, by their soft, suffusing seethings, made what seemed a silvery silence, not a solitude: on such a silent night a silvery jet was seen far in advance of the white bubbles at the bow. Lit up by the moon, it looked celestial; seemed some plumed and glittering god uprising from the sea…
Chapter 51, The Spirit-Spout
 
Then there is the coffin, which symbolizes life and death. When Ishmael’s friend, the harpooner Queequeg, falls ill, he asks the carpenter to build him a coffin, but survives and stores his belongings in it. When the Pequod sinks, the coffin becomes Ishmael’s lifeboat.
 
Call me Ishmael. Some years ago -- never mind how long precisely -- having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world. It is a way I have of driving off the spleen, and regulating the circulation. Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off -- then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can. This is my substitute for pistol and ball.
Chapter 1, Loomings 
 
And the themes themselves are grand. Like the heroes of Greek or Shakespearean tragedy, Ahab suffers from a single fatal flaw. He is obsessed, monomaniacal, believing that, like a god, he will remain immune to the forces of nature while pursuing the White Whale…it’s his inescapable fate to destroy this evil.
 
The Pequod represents the world…its crew, all of humanity’s fears, frailties and faiths are acted out. It is a symbol of doom, painted black and covered in whale teeth and bones, mementos of their violent death. The name was taken from a Native American tribe made extinct by the white invaders. 

 

But despite the wanderings of both book and ship, there is a plot, and it uses causality, something I love in a story. From the beginning, Ishmael notes Ahab’s eccentricity and madness getting worse, until, The Pequod encounters the whaling ship Rachel, imploring help to search for the missing whaling-crew, including the captain's son. But as soon as Ahab learns that the crew disappeared while tangling with Moby-Dick he refuses the call to aid – something unheard of in whaling tradition – and goes off to hunt the White Whale. After The Pequod goes down, Ishmael, in his coffin, is ironically rescued by the Rachel which has continued to search for its missing crew.
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review 2016-07-24 09:27
If I Could Turn Back Time
If I Could Turn Back Time: A Novel - Beth Harbison

By: Beth Harbison

ISBN: 9781250043818
Publisher:  St. Martin's Press
Publication Date:  7/28/2015 
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 4 Stars 

 

A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Beth Harbison delivers a poignant and witty story of a woman’s journey back to the past, IF I COULD TURN BACK TIME, coming in paperback June 14, 2016 (with a new 83/18 cupcakes adorable cover). Readers will go back to revisit their younger years, for a thought- provoking look at the people in our lives, choices, and questions, of what if.

“Sometimes – some rare times—when a soul has left in its own time, it leaves a love one wholly unprepared. Missing some of the most important lessons that were meant to be shared.”

“Can a soul find it’ way back to communicate in a less subtle way? To remind their loved one of those things they must know in order to find their own fate."

The night before Ramie Phillips; thirty-eighth birthday, she is on a boat (yacht) off the coast of Miami, Florida-- like something you would see on the cover of Conde’ Nast Traveleror other luxury magazine.

She did not grow up rich, In her youth she enjoyed a happy Charlie Brown landscaped middle class life in Potomac, Maryland, close to the DC border. She grew up loving math and her dad was a banker. When she was five her dad taught her about the stock market and how to track a portfolio. He taught her how to invest.

Thanks to her dad, she had a nice little nest egg for herself before she hit it big working with Whitestone, one of the top private equity investment firms in the country.

A daddy’s girl, her Dad died unexpectedly halfway through her college education. He smoked three packs of cigarettes a day, then a stroke. She thought he would be around forever and in her life. He was to be a grand dad. Her mom had always feared his upcoming death. Her mom had a hard time; however, Ramie came through for her investing her life insurance so she could live off the dividends.

Skip to the boating event, as the book opens, with champagne, cocktails, friends and a little too much to drink. Her friend just found out she is pregnant. Here she is, close to forty years old and now she is feeling sorry for herself. Her big birthday bash, had been overshadowed by toasts and congratulations for Lisa’s unexpected pregnancy.

What happened in her life from ages eighteen to thirty-eight?

She knows she is feeling like a baby. Beings selfish. Could she have known her previous partner in crime (herself) might feel a little weird about being ambushed by the news of her total acquiescence to domestication. She knew her friend would never be fun anymore. She tells her she is happy and begins to dwell on her situation. She has a nice life and career, but no personal life. She is not happy. She had been left behind. She had made mistakes.

Soon she dives off the boat and all she remembers is pain, and everything going black.

She wakes up in her childhood room. Dream or not, this was a moment in her life where she would get a second chance, with someone she had loved and lost. However, she is trying to talk about things in the future and her dad is of course still alive. Her mom thinks she is getting ready to go to school.

Now she finds herself back in time to the eve of her eighteenth birthday. Will she be able to change her decisions, and get what she wants from the past for her future?

Harbison always combines wit, emotion, and some tough life lessons. We all wish we could have a redo; and regret many things in our past, and questions of "what if" we had made a different decision, or choices back when,--- how would my life be different today. A journey of a thirty-eight year-old woman with her insight into the future and in her current role as age eighteen.

Thought-provoking! Makes you take a step back and appreciate those in your life. For Fans of In Twenty Years and The Year We Turned Forty as well as time traveling. I am normally not a fan of time travel; however this one was done really well.

For all you wondering why I am just now reviewing this book. I read it last year, and realized when reading an advanced reading copy of her upcoming new book, One Less Problem Without You, (great read), Coming July 26, 2016, was referring back to link to the review, and discovered I failed to write the review. (my bad)!

Quickly did a recap, since still on my Kindle, and even purchased the audiobook, narrated by Orlagh Cassidy for a fun time-travel trip. Guess my review, will be “timely for the paperback”, coming June.

I do not read as much chick-lit, as I did in my younger years; however, always enjoy Harbison’s books. She was initially the one to turn me on to the genre with her funny audiobooks. Always tons of fun, wit, and humor-and much more than fluff –there is depth, life, emotions, and so much more!

On a different note: Would like to take this opportunity to highlight St. Martin’s Press and compliment the team on all the beautiful covers! The Beth Harbison name is branded by her covers, and each and every one pulls you in to her character’s world. They are perfect. A cover can make, or break a book in my opinion, and all St. Martin’s Press’ covers are first-class- one of my favorite publishers.

 

  

Coming in Paperback

June 14, 2016 

If I Could Turn Back Time

Buy the Book 

 

Told with Beth Harbison's wit and warmth, If I Could Turn Back Time is the fantasy of every woman who has ever thought, "If I could go back in time, knowing what I know now, I'd do things so differently...

 

 

Coming July 26, 2016 

One Less Problem Without You 

Buy the Book 

 

Be sure and move, One Less Problem Without You to the top of your list! (just finished it and "promise" to write my review before Tues. pub date). You will love the Cosmo chic cover, the three gals whose lives connect, a bad guy, teas, and "Diana’s Drinks" with 30-yummy cocktail recipes at the end of the book. Need I say more?

 

 

On a personal note: I think I was meant to go back and re-read this book. Makes you think of your parents. This week received the news my mom (some of you know she has battled cancer for 3 ½ yrs.) -now her body is shutting down, with less than a few months left to live. All of her many friends are saying their goodbyes, and I will be returning home, within the next couple of weeks, from South Florida to NC to spend some time with her and the family. This will be a difficult time- and not sure what lies ahead, as my dad depends on her for everything (they just celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary), and his health is poor as well.

This is when we all want "more time", and regrets for all the time we have wasted. As she mentioned this week, even though she has known she has stage IV cancer for years, she kept thinking she was going to beat it, and she would have "more time." Now there is none. This book brought back some special memories and times with my mom, as a teen.

JDCMustReadBooks

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/#!If-I-Could-Turn-Back-Time/cmoa/555e276f0cf2adc1ad4cf26b
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review 2016-01-26 04:24
Pieces of My Mother
Pieces of My Mother: A Memoir - Melissa Cistaro

By Melissa Cistaro
ISBN: 9781492615385
Publisher: SOURCEBOOKS (non-fiction)
Publication Date: 5/5/2015
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: 4 Stars 

 

Coming in Paperback, Feb 2, 2016!  An ideal selection for book clubs and further discussions.

 

A special thank you to Sourcebooks and NetGalley for an ARC exchange for an honest review. Beautiful front cover, which grabs you. 

Please join me **Upcoming Blog Tour Stop Host April 21 for a complimentary Chapter 1 excerpt from Pieces of My Mother.

Melissa Cistaro courageously steps out to deliver a poignant memoir, PIECES OF MY MOTHER, a heartbreaking story, drawn from memory, letters, and early recollections of her own childhood and family trials.

While trying to sort out her troubled family and a mother who left when she was a small girl, she reflects as a grown woman, while looking at her own family, and wonders genetics can spill over and make you question yourself as a mother. Are we destined to repeat our past environment?

Perfect timing as we approach Mother’s Day, to appreciate our mothers, and realize some children do not always have the proper parents—ones to love and protect them, to serve as viable role models for their children. These children grow up always wondering if they were to blame for their parent’s absence, and desperately seek love and validation.

As a child, Melissa sees her mother drive off while her dad informs the family their mother is "taking a break" from everyone and not very forthcoming about the details. They can only hope she will return for their birthday, or possibly a special holiday. However, when she does, is she really there? She and her brothers--Jamie and Eden, alone without a mother.

Now a mother herself, how can she tell her daughter a dark truth, she was leavable and unkeepable. What if there is some sort of genetic family flaw, some kind of leaving gene that unexpectedly grabs hold of mothers like the ones in her family? What if the gene is lying dormant inside of her? What if her own daughter worries she may leave one day?

She pictures her mom, a thousand miles away, and only visiting a few times, while each of the children carried "her leaving" in different ways. She took all the colors with her. She drifted in and out of their lives like live-in sitters, always seeming just out of reach. She wants her own daughter to feel safe and loved, not left the way she has always felt.

Now years later, a mom with children of her own, she finds herself in Washington, as her mother is dying. Her mom has cirrhosis and liver cancer; all the years of drinking have caught up with her. All her fears surface. She is leaving once again. She will only be sixty five in five days and she promises her own family she will be home by New Year’s Eve. Her own family needs her and wants to make sure she WILL return.

Her mom is as mysterious as ever, yet her mother surrounds herself with bits and pieces of life collected; a life she never really knew – the books she loved. Melissa began to fill her own notebooks, only attempting to understand her mom’s leaving, searching for memories that could rescue her. Believing that if she could dig up the goodness in the things that haunted her, there would be a chance she could save her mom, her brothers, her dad, and herself. If she can get the words right, maybe she can keep her alive. She wants desperately to understand a woman who is dying.

As she is going through her mother’s things, she finds folders, letters, treasures, and all the while she recalls the days she was afraid to move to yet another house, for the fear her mom may not be able to find them; if and when, she would come back. Now, letters her mom never sent may provide her comfort and answers. Her mom and dad were both hoarders, coveting treasures and not one of these items will keep her alive. She too suffers from hanging on to things.

However, as she reads her mom’s letters, thirty-six years have passed since she watched the her mom drive away in her baby-blue Dodge Dart, she still wonders what if she had called out to her, would she have stayed? Now she has to make the decision to leave her mom to die, to get back to her own family and a miracle of her own.

A deeply moving complex, honest portrayal of family, of motherhood, yet uplifting and captivating; alternating between Melissa and her mother, we see firsthand how a parent’s choices impact their children’s lives for generations to come with emotional devastation.

 
From regret, understanding, acceptance, to forgiveness; a book of the strong bonds of love and motherhood. What doesn't kill you, will fortunately make you stronger.
 

 

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1133761581
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text 2016-01-22 10:50
Book Launch in Glastonbury UK
Established crime writer Nina Milton is launching the third book in her Shamanic Mystery Series in the centre of Glastonbury and you are cordially invited to attend.                                                                                Beneath the Tor features young Somerset shaman, Sabbie Dare, who enlists the help of the spirit world to fight the dark side of humanity.                    

All the Shaman Mysteries are set in the beautiful, but sometimes eerie landscape of the Somerset Levels, and Beneath the Toropens on Midsummer Eve at the top of Glastonbury Tor, where beautiful Alys Hollingberry dies suddenly after dancing the night away. The book has its own cast of Glastonbury characters and examines many of the myths and legends of this mystical town.

http://www.unitythroughdiversity.org/glastonbury-experience-courtyard.html

 

 
 
Ronald Hutton with Nina Milton
The launch will take place atThe Avalon Rooms at the Glastonbury Experience  (Post code BA6 9DU) at 2pm on Saturday 27th February and all Milton’s books will be available at a special launch price.
 
Ronald Hutton, professor of history at Bristol University, will give a talk on shamanism today, and Nina Milton will give readings of her work and sign copies of her books. 
 
Arthur Billington
Complimentary refreshments will be served and blues guitaristArthur Billington will provide acoustic music. All book lovers are invited, and admission is free.
 
Born in Bristol, Nina Milton is a Druid with shamanic training, who began her writing career when she was awarded the Wells Festival of Literature Short Story Prize. She returned to the prize-giving in 2015 to talk about what can happen after winning.
 
Beneath the Tor has already received acclaim from reviewers and readers alike:
 
This third mystery of the series hits the ground running. I read the book straight through with only some sleep in between. It's not necessary to have read the first two to read this one. Wonderful mix of modern grit and ancient magicChesapeake Reader Amazon.com review, December 2, 2015
 
Milton puts an intriguing New Age spin on the traditional English mystery…Publisher’s Weekly
 
Nina Milton has created a unique fictional world in her Shaman Mystery Series, featuring Sabbie Dare as a young shaman. WithBeneath the Tor she has become a mistress of plot-weaving, and above all, she pulls off the trick of setting the totally fantastic amid the totally everyday and making the two fit together with pace and excitement…Ronald Hutton, author of Pagan Britainand The Triumph of the Moon.
 

 

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review 2016-01-17 19:10
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Coraline - Neil Gaiman

'Darker shadows slipped through the shadows at the edges of things.'

 

I listened to the audio of Coraline narrated by the fantastic Dawn French and once again I was blown away by a deeply absorbing children's horrorish tale.

 

Coraline, not Caroline as all the neighbours fail to comprehend is an intrepid explorer, a hobby that's generally down to being ignored by her parents. And top of the list of things to explore: the mysterious door in her home, the one that leads absolutely nowhere. Until, one day, it leads somewhere, somewhere magical, straight out of a kid’s nightmare.

 

'She had the feeling that the door was looking back at her, which she knew was silly, and knew on a deeper level was somehow true.'

 

A world of someone's making, exactly like her own, almost. A world of darkest danger, where she lost everything, lost her parents and with a little help managed to find them again. But until then she had to make do with the Other Mother, the one who wanted to love and keep her forever, as a possession.

 

'Coraline shivered. She preferred the other mother to have a location: if she were nowhere, then she could be anywhere. And, after all, it is always easier to be afraid of something you cannot see.'

 

The audio is a great way for a first introduction to this story, I also flicked through the 10th anniversary edition with some wonderfully dark illustrations by Chris Riddell. As I've stated previously I love Gaimans prose, the quote at the top is another good example of how his simple yet imaginative style just stands out in delightfully spellbinding fashion.

 

'She had a show of unconcernedness, but her fingers twitched and drummed and she licked her lips with her scarlet tongue.'

 

Enchanting, bewitching and simply charming, just about says it.

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