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text 2018-02-18 14:45
Reading progress update: I've read 89 out of 224 pages.
Dancing Fish and Ammonites: A Memoir - Penelope Lively

I have lots of stuff to get on with this afternoon, but have spent the last 30 minutes glued to Lively's book - I won't call it "memoir". It's only partly a memoir. - in particular to her discussion of the Suez Crisis.

I couldn’t be at the meeting, not being a senior member of the university, but I remember vividly the heightened atmosphere of that time, the urgency of the newspapers, the climate of discussion, of argument, and eventually, for many of us, of outrage. For me, what was happening had a personal dimension – here was my own country dropping bombs on the country I still thought of as a kind of home. The Suez crisis was a baptism of fire, a political awakening, the recognition that you could and should quarrel with government, that you could disagree and disapprove.

I really want to re-read Moon Tiger after this book. Not because it also looks at Suez, but because it has a similar theme in that the MC looks at her own life and ties it to current event of the time.

 

Also, as some of you know, I have had some rough reading experiences with the RL book group I sort of joined last year. Dancing Fish and Ammonites is their choice for February and I cannot wait to see what they all thought about. It also is the first one I'm reading with that group that I really like. (In fairness, they had picked Rebecca a few months ago, but I was too busy with something else to re-read it.)

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text 2018-02-18 13:29
Necessities
Dancing Fish and Ammonites: A Memoir - Penelope Lively

"I am no longer acquisitive. I was never exactly voracious, but I could fall prey to sudden lust: one simply could not live a moment longer without that sampler spotted in an antique shop, or that picture or rug or chair. No longer. I can admire, but I no longer covet. Books of course are another matter; books are not acquisitions, they are necessities."

 

Penelope Lively - Ammonites and Leaping Fish: A Life in Time

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review 2018-02-11 22:08
Enjoy the Dance (Dancing, #2) by Heidi Cullinan Review
Enjoy the Dance (Dancing Book 2) - Heidi Cullinan

Kindergarten teacher Spenser Harris has carved a quiet, stable future out of his tumultuous past, but his world turns upside down the night a homeless teen appears on his doorstep—a boy whose story mirrors the one Spenser has worked so hard to overcome. The decision to shelter Duon is easy. What’s tricky is juggling the network of caregivers in Duon’s life, especially Tomás Jimenez.

Tomás wouldn’t have hesitated to take Duon in, but his plate is already full working three jobs to support his family. Though Spenser’s carefully constructed walls are clearly designed to keep the world at bay, Tomás pushes past Spenser’s defenses, determined to ensure the man is worthy of his charge. As the two of them grow closer, Tomás dares to dream of a life beyond his responsibilities, and Spenser begins to believe he might finally find a home of his own after all.

But Spenser and Tomás’s world is forever poised to crash down around their ears. Duon’s grandmother isn’t sure she wants him to be raised by a gay man and challenges Spenser’s custody. Tomás’s undocumented parents could be deported at any time, and all the while the state of Minnesota votes on a constitutional amendment against marriage equality and the US Supreme Court debates whether or not Spenser and Tomás get a happily ever after. All they can do is hold tight to their love, hope for a better future…and remind each other to enjoy the dance.

 

Review

Spenser and Tomas are lovely. The romance between them unrolls slowly like it has to when we have family and work and life. 

This book ends up being about so many things in terms of social justice: the immigration system, equality, LGTBQA rights, adoption, fostering, the arts, job protection, poverty...

It is ground in a wonderful circle of friends and also deals with the addiction of a loved one. 

The romance balance could be richer in places but overall it is a very good read and a must for lovers of Cullinan's world.

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review 2018-02-02 00:00
Dirty Dancing at Devil's Leap
Dirty Dancing at Devil's Leap - Julie An... Dirty Dancing at Devil's Leap - Julie Anne Long Buddy read with Joanna Loves Books. Thanks Joanna! It was fun.
..I'll link to her review when it's up.
This is fast becoming one of my favorite series....I can't tell you how many times I've reread parts of book 2!

I thought the first one was, well, weird, and I really only liked the hero...And from this one there was a (thankful) noticeable absence of an annoying oak tree. Where [b:Wild at Whiskey Creek|29436302|Wild at Whiskey Creek (Hellcat Canyon, #2)|Julie Anne Long|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1473678817s/29436302.jpg|49704361] may have felt a lot longer, this one was a snap. Maybe too much of a snap. It was still beautiful, the characters were still complex, but I did think the conflict was slightly weak and based on about a lifetime ago. Ultimately, the resolution felt really rushed, but at times I didn't get the motivations behind everything.

The shining light of this novel was the hero, Mac. The heroine has a big heart, and is a tough, bold, loved and loving sort. The book begins like many others, with Avalon catching her boyfriend fucking the intern in their bedroom. She does the obvious thing and heads out of town. I've read so many contemporaries set in rural areas that start exactly this way, but Julie Anne Long does a great job at painting Avalon as looking like she's got life conquered but is really adrift. As usual, the familial and town interactions were rewarding, though a little short-changed in this book. And I'll begin to illustrate some of the highlights and issues I had with this book under the spoiler tag.

We know Avalon left town carrying a flame for her old summer muffin, Mac Coltrane and that somehow he broke her 16 year old heart and she never saw him again. The somehow was the major hang-up for me. It seemed like some earth-shattering mystery, but it wasn't, even though it was well-explained and easy to empathize with. It was frankly a bit out of character.

Meanwhile, Mac's had his life unravel (his dad imprisoned for fraud, lost his wealth) and seems adrift. At one point, Avalon even says "she won" over Mac. Of course, though, Mac has it mostly figured out. He is slowly revealed to be a multi-layered onion of a hero with deep insecurities, grudges, and vulnerabilities. He's also smart as hell, funny, sweet, and unaccountably romantic--though he never shows it. His hope in the darkness and the thing he's holding onto- "the one lit bulb left in his string of Christmas lights" is his old house...where he felt happy in the summers he spent in Hellcat Canyon and on Devil's Leap. There's an auction, and we found earlier that Ava plans to bid too. But Mac is so emotionally invested in purchasing his old house that I was rooting for him and really really didn't get why Ava wanted it. Turns out she was going to flip it, and hadn't realized she missed her family, her animals, and her small town yet. This, once again, was really confusing for me.

Obviously Ava wins. Mac still owns the caretaker's cottage and a parcel of the land-including Ava's favorite (why does she care if she's planning to sell to her friend, I don't get) - Devil's Leap. The rock formation where they are brave, the founding spot of Mac and Ava's relationship, and a beautiful romantic setting. This is where the pranks and trying to drive each other off begins. She wants to buy his parcel, he wants her house. Bit by bit, the pranks bring them closer together with mutual admiration for a game well-played (or not so well-played. Turns out Ava was wrong and Mac gets along well with a Hummingbird troop, for example). In addition, in this process, they find out how adrift Ava is from herself or initial plans and how Mac is basically living the life we'd think she'd want. There are many wonderful moments of revealing the vulnerability and sweetness of Mac - thinking of The Cat here - but that feels like it simultaneously endears the hero to us (that's where I fell in love with him) and would make the heroine on the edge of irritating. A lesser heroine couldn't do it. Mac doesn't share his feeling easily, though he's direct. So unlike Eli, who is quiet and thoughtful and then FREAKING RIDICULOUSLY eloquent, Mac stumbles when discussing the emotional and is much more a man of action.

I just didn't buy Avalon's lack of self-awareness or willingness to change her lifestyle. I still don't understand her desire to flip the house and not sell it to Mac.


The end was sadly rushed-and ultimately, I thought she had more to prove to him because of her rejections and cuts during adulthood, her experience with being loved, adored, and accepted by her family, and him putting himself out there already. While I liked his grand gestures, he wasn't the one who was afraid the whole time. She was the one not taking chances and I would've liked to see her step up here. How many times did he tell her "I only want you to be safe," and what exactly did that mean to her? The looking for her thing was so weak, I can't even start with that. That would've been weird.


The book was hot, hot, hot. Wonderful sexual tension, wonderful sex scenes. I seriously think one was 10 pages long and I would've read 10 more. The characters were a great pair with what I understand is a JAL hallmark, flying and funny dialogue. Ultimately, this doesn't get a five star from me for some weak plot points including the conflict and too much rush at the end.
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review 2017-11-12 16:38
"Dancing With Shadows", by Adrian Churchward
Dancing With Shadows (The Puppet Meisters Trilogy) - Adrian Churchward
Book #2, in The Puppet Meisters trilogy

“Dancing With Shadows” is the second book dealing with state abuse of power featuring Scott Mitchell, a human rights lawyer. This sequel to “Moscow Bound” is a gripping and exciting read from start to finish. This time we have Scott on suspicion of laundering $250 million for the Chechen mafia and we follow him through a sea of untrustworthy characters from London, to different Russian cities, to Budapest and Malta in a cat and mouse game while he tries to prove his innocence.

Scott is the lead in this story but many characters we came to know in the first book are re-introduced and play important roles: Ekaterina, Gravchenko and Pravda. Ms. Churchward doesn’t shy away from introducing multiple new characters also. The plot has multiple threads to follow that need our attention and can be overwhelming but the author set the stage expertly by including a group of well-developed players, beautiful surroundings and a touch of gastronomy delights. No doubt, this gripping tale filled with unexpected twists and turns is well worth reading. If you enjoy a thriller rifles with conspiracy and danger and have a soft spot for some Anglo-Russian shenanigans, give this one a try. 

My thanks to NetGalley and to Silverwood Books for the opportunity to read this book
 
 

 

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