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review 2017-04-27 22:57
Lost Cantos of the Ouroboros Caves: Expanded Edition - Maggie Schein,Jonathan Hannah,Pat Conroy

5 out of 5 stars.... Is it possible to give more stars? I'd like to. Having said that, I'm not sure how, precisely, to review this marvel. It's a collection of stories quite unlike anything I've read before, and that's saying something, my friends, since I read a great deal.

 

Schein holds a Ph.D. in Ethics and teaching at the University of South Carolina. Her philosophical training serves her well here, as these stories are certainly philosophical. Peter S. Beagle said of her stories, "They are genuinely philosophical in a way which is very rare, frightening in a way far removed from scary, and, most impressively, they are often philosophically frightening — which is almost unheard of." Even he says he hasn't read anything remotely like them in a long time.

 

Yes, that long time... it brings to mind old tales, myths, sacred stories of ancient cultures, and those are precisely the tales Schein draws from. Her understanding of myth and folk tale is impressive, but so, too, is her understanding of the yearnings, fears, passions of the human (and at times non-human) heart.

 

Medicine men, monks, immortals, witches, seekers, wise talking animals, all make their appearances. In fact, the world Schein creates is one in which everything, everyone, from tree to priest, vibrate with life and the sacred power of story.

 

Truly, I feel these are stories with the power to transform. HIGHLY recommended.

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text 2017-04-27 22:49
Dewey Readathon Reading List - Spring 2017
The New Neighbor: A Novel - Leah Stewart
A Vision of Lucy (A Rocky Creek Romance Book 3) - Margaret Brownley
Deep Deception - Cathy Pegau
Forbidden - Beverly Jenkins

My TBR for the read-a-thon is very eclectic.

 

1. The New Neighbor by Leah Stewart (Pop Sugar challenge - book with eccentric character) (Library Love challenge)

           A story about a nosy elderly lady who investigates her new neighbor and tries to uncover the neighbor's secrets. Literary fiction that I really hope doesn't suck due to having a mystery plotline.

 

2. Deep Deception by Cathy Pegau (Booklikes-opoly)

           F/F romance set in space. New-to-me author, although I follow her on Twitter because she makes life in Alaska look like fun.

 

3. Forbidden (Old West #1) by Beverly Jenkins (Booklikes-opoly)

          New-to-me author, and I wanted to tackle one of her latest books to see if I like her writing style before diving into her backlist.

 

4. A Vision of Lucy (Rocky Creek #3) by Margaret Brownley

        Not in a hurry to read this book. The beginning of the book was silly, with too much damsel in distress action that made me roll my eyes. A good laundry day type of book.

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review 2017-04-26 14:34
Review: A Paris Affair by Tatiana de Rosnay
A Paris Affair - Sam Taylor Mullens,Tatiana de Rosnay

Short story collection. Breakdown of the stories:

 

1. Hotel Room - yeah I saw that ending coming a mile away, but Karma came with a big bite.

 

2.The Texts - really stupid story about a wife who calls an advice line looking for help regarding her cheating husband. Ends up with the wife berating the advice giver with such misogynist bullshit (ie the cat lady stereotype).

 

3. The "Baby Monitor" - this situation has been over used to the point of comedy. Wife catches hubby cheating on her with her friend via the baby monitor. Wife threatens in a very calm way that she is going to take a meat cleaver and kill the friend.

 

4. The Red Notebook - insecure wife cheats her way through five years of marriage because her husband is dull and unaware of her cheating ways even though she has purposely left clues. She does this hoping to get a rise out of him and have wild angry sex with her husband. Her plan is ridiculous and fails spectacularly - turns out he has been cheating on her the whole time and has a notebook full of women's names, dates, and places where he cheated. Wife finds the notebook and is overcome with grief at her husband's cheating. He leaves her one final note. The hypocrisy is immeasurable in this story.

 

5. The Answering Machine - the wife is a moron who can't work an answering machine in 1992. She finds out her husband is having an affair via a message left on the machine. She also finds out she is pregnant and just knows it is a girl, so she is not leaving her husband, although his cheating makes her depressed. Another unoriginal plotline.

 

6. The Au Pair Girl - incredibly racist friends share lunch one day and one friend admits she has caught her husband cheating on her with the 18 year old nanny. She is talked out of having an affair with her husband's best friend when the other woman mentions her cheating incident involving condoms. The friend is too embarrassed to buy condoms, ask the potential lover to wear one, or put one on him during the seduction. I can't believe I am reading this story (published in English in 2015) in 2017.

 

7. The Strand of Hair - wife decided to leave her cheating husband but destroys all their possessions and leaves a note to demand a divorce.

 

8. The Woods - wife follows her husband as he gets a blow job from a prostitute. She leaves her wedding ring on the hood after the husband looks up and sees her staring at him and the prostitute. 

 

9. The Passwords - this was a much different story than I expected and one I really enjoyed. Attention male professors in Paris: Don't sexual harass or academically ruin an American student after she turned down your offer of sex or you will pay the consequences.

 

10. The USB Key - the twist is the cheating husband is in love with man. He can't take the lying anymore, so he records his confession to her on the USB and leaves it with instructions for the wife to watch. The wife decided she wanted to stay married to him even though the husband has admitted he is gay and wants out of the marriage, so she is holding the son as ransom for the husband to stay married to her. I felt like she is doing this to get back at the husband and for her own selfish reasons. I honestly felt for the husband  - he has known of his sexuality but his family pressured him into not believing in his homosexuality and forcing him into a life of a straight man. Now his wife is doing the same thing to him.

 

11. The Brunette from Rue Raynouard - the brunette in question is a doctor, a sex therapist. The husband has been seeing her as a patient to help him deal with his stupid wife's affair that he found out about. Wife is super paranoid that the husband is cheating on her. But it is not like that....in the end, the married couple kiss and make up. *eye roll*

 

 

Overall, wealthy (or at least well-to-do) pretty white people want to create some drama in their boring lives - this is the number one reason I don't read literary fiction. So many stories involve women who cheated or were cheated on right after they had kids (so many babies in these stories). A parallel theme to the cheating spouses were the fact that they sucked as parents as well, aside from keeping a lover on the side.French men were given such a ugly treatment from the author, they should feel very offended; words such as "rutting beasts" are used to describe French men in general for example. There were layers of classism, racism, and huge amounts of internal and external misogyny colored the stories to the point where the author made these characters into cartoons. And there was no originality to the plotlines (screwing the nanny is nothing new, just ask Ben Affleck or Jude Law). I only liked the one story (about the American student) and I really felt for the gay trapped in a marriage with a woman who doesn't want to give up her status or appearances as a married woman. 0 stars. 

 

 

 

 

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review 2017-04-26 04:27
Anything is Possible
Anything Is Possible - Elizabeth Strout

By: Elizabeth Strout

ISBN: 9780812989403

Publisher: Random House

Publication Date: 4/25/2017  

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 5 Stars +

 
From the author of My Name is Lucy Barton and the smashing hit Olive Kitteridge the HBO mini-series starring Frances McDormand (I loved) — Elizabeth Strout once again "wows" readers and her avid fans, with her insights into the human psyche — when ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

Extraordinary novels, deftly combining lyrical prose with heartrending subject matter. A desperate need to be understood and accepted.

Compelling! Nine powerful and emotional stories. Grace and forgiveness. Flawed people who have experienced tragedy and haunting childhoods, abuse, mental illness, injustice, poverty, bullying, regrets, torment, war trauma, imploding lives, marriage problems, and severe loss.

People who hide behind social status. A sense of entitlement. Those who have survived and yet still remain with their own scars. There have been deep fissures in each of these families. The cracks. Some have been pushed to the breaking point, with shattering, unforeseeable consequences.

If you read My Name Is Lucy Barton (highly recommend), you may be rushing back to the title to refresh yourself, as I found myself doing.

Lucy came from a poor and dysfunctional family. She was determined and managed to escape the small town of Amgash, IL. She was diligent and became a successful author. She ultimately forgave her parents.

However, the scars of her past and the people who shaped her life, and the way she was treated by her family, siblings, and people of this town have haunted her.

Strout takes us back to some of the characters, cousins, family members, neighbors, school classmates, and siblings. We learn of the heartaches and fears, the narrow-minded thinking of these people. Where are these people today? Discovering how harsh words and actions stay with people. A profound message.

Even when someone succeeds, there are those who try and tear down the things we are most proud of. Each story sends a powerful message. Who do they blame? Are they accountable for their actions?

Broken people. Such hope for us all if only can learn to communicate. Not only with our families but the people whom we come in contact with on a daily basis. Intuitive. Being able to help those who need someone to care.

We can see from the outside a dysfunctional family can fall prey to those in a small town who do not really understand what's going on with the family as a whole, or those that make up the family (s).

We each have our own favorite stories in the collection. I enjoyed the story of Tommy, Pete, Patty, and Lucy’s return to town which did not go as expected when Vicky (sister) brings up the horrors of the past and Lucy has a panic attack driving her away. I also enjoyed the people from her past which showed up at her book signing.

Family dysfunction, problems, and crossing social classes; people are mean and they are ugly. A cruel world and Strout does not hold back. A reminder to us all. One act of compassion, caring, or kindness can make all the difference in the word.

The characters in the nine stories are shaped and at the same time, haunted by their past. They still feel trapped by the difficulties in their present day relationships and their inability to say how they truly feel. The author is a master at drawing you into the lives of her characters as she weaves in her powerful observations of human complexities and interactions. From anger, frustration, and bullying mixed with fear and cruelty.

I love this stand-out author! Her writing just keeps getting better and betters. Beautifully written, with each book I read, it makes me return to re-read or perhaps one I missed. Strout is authentic, prolific, and has mastered her skilled craft at getting inside her character’s heads, heart, and soul. They come alive on the page. ?

If you come from a small town and you happen to be the one who left and got away (I am) and became successful— you will resonate with these stories. Often those left behind are often bitter and resentful, and lash out in hateful ways and try to destroy another’s happiness when they do not have the facts. Their views are narrow and they do not think big and wide outside the box. They could have made the choice to leave. Everyone has choices. How hard do we want to strive for a better life is the question.

If you have not watched Olive Kitteridge I highly recommend. I want to watch it over and over. It stays with you. I am hoping we will get to see Anything is Possible and My Name is Lucy Barton, will be played out on the big screen. These are powerful stories that people can connect with on many levels.

There is always hope, forgiveness, and love amidst the imperfections. We are reminded that in life Anything is Possible!

For me the Washington Post article by Susan Scarf Merrell offers the perfect summary of ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE:

. . . “These stories return Strout to the core of what she does more magnanimously than anyone else, which is to render quiet portraits of the indignities and disappointments of normal life, and the moments of grace and kindness we are gifted in response.

Such a simple goal, so difficult to achieve. Each of these stories stands alone, but they are richer in juxtaposition to the others. And that’s because over the years, from angle after angle, Strout has been packing and unpacking how silence works — between people, within a single person, on the page, in the spaces between stories.

Omission is where you find what makes a writer a writer; it is in the silences where forgiveness and wisdom grow, and it is where Strout’s art flourishes. This new book pushes that endeavor even further.” . . . Read More


Well said. I just purchased Amy and Isabelle and Abide with Me audiobooks, I missed along the way. Highly recommend this author.

"Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in." —Leonard Cohen

This book reminds me of a plaque I have on my desk:
"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."
I am reminded of this each time I return to my small hometown and family. Fans of Fredrik Backman will enjoy the exploration of small town characters and the examination of the fragile human spirit.

A special thank you to Random House and NetGalley for an early reading copy.

JDCMustReadBooks
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/11/01/Anything-Is-Possible
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review 2017-04-23 04:12
Beartown
Beartown: A Novel - Fredrik Backman

By: Fredrik Backman 

ISBN: 978-1501160769

Publisher: Atria

Publication Date: 4/25/2017

Format:  Hardcover 

My Rating:  5 Stars

 

This author has a knack for "Best Books To Tug At Your Heart Strings."

Talented storyteller, Fredrick Backman returns following the novella (2016), And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer: (A small book with a BIG message ), with his latest powerful story, BEARTOWN — A Swedish dying hockey town. A town of stories. A town of secrets.

High-expectations. Burdens. Pressures. A town which relies on the sport and its youth to pull them through. Some people have the "bear" in them.

Beartown isn’t close to anything. The town is losing. It has been a very long time since it won at anything. The town slogan, “Beartown Leaves You Wanting More.” The wind, snow, and weather have since wiped out the word “more.”

The ice hockey stands are packed every weekend, even though the team’s achievements have collapsed in line with the town’s economy. A small town with big dreams. A community. Being responsible for the hopes of an entire town is a heavy burden to carry, for all concerned.

There are also those from the Hollow. Those less fortunate. How do those from different social classes stack up?

“Hockey is both complicated and not complicated at all. It can be hard to understand the rules, challenging to live with the culture, as good as impossible to get all the people who love it not to pull so hard in different directions that it breaks . . . “

This is why everyone hopes that when the team’s fortune improves, the rest of the town will get pulled up along with it. Their motto has been: "Word hard, take the knocks, don’t complain, keep your mouth shut, and show the bastards in the big cities where they are from."

Once upon a time, Beartown Ice Hockey’s A-team was one step above the juniors and second best in the top division in the country. That was more than two decades and three divisions ago, and now Beartown will go up against the best once again. A win means something for the town’s economy. Survival.

“The sport demands only one thing from you. Your all.“

Maya hates hockey but understands her father (Peter)’s love for it. Peter had made it all the way to Canada and the NHL, matching up against the best in the world. He had come home to take over the team. Peter and his wife, Kira (attorney) have their own grief from the past. Does family mean more than sports, a town, a community's survival?

When the star player on the hockey team, whom everyone looks up to is accused of rape, the town is devastated. The guy on the pedestal. Who would dare take him down?

"It’s only a game. It can only change people’s lives. "

A hidden crime. One that could change lives. There are secrets and lies among friends, family, teens, husbands, and wives.

Backman reaches down into the soul and hearts of his characters and the human psyche. He takes his flawed characters to the dark places and brings hope. They become heroes. As with all his books, readers will find themselves bookmarking many passages, with this bold story of friendship and family bonds; ultimately one of redemption. Rich in character and the true meaning of family.

From loyalty, betrayal, and courage.

Backman's writing is lyrical, poignant, and thought-provoking. Highly emotional and insightful; part coming-of-age and a cautionary tale for both parents and teens; the consequences of carrying other’s dreams on our shoulders.

 



Have read all his books and highly recommend each one.
A Man Called Ove
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry
Britt-Marie Was Here
And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer

 

Best Novella of 2016

A special thank you to Atria and NetGalley for an early reading copy. (always love his quirky covers). Also purchased the audiobook.

JDCMustReadBooks

 

 

 

PRAISE FOR BEARTOWN

“Like Friday Night Lights, this is about more than youth sports; it's part coming-of-age novel, part study of moral failure, and finally a chronicle of groupthink in which an unlikely hero steps forward to save more than one person from self-destruction. A thoroughly empathetic examination of the fragile human spirit, Backman's latest will resonate a long time.”—Kirkus Reviews

 

“Lest readers think hockey is the star here, it’s Backman’s rich characters that steal the show, and his deft handling of tragedy and its effects on an insular town. While the story is dark at times, love, sacrifice, and the bonds of friendship and family shine through ultimately offering hope and even redemption.”—Publishers Weekly

 

“The sentimentally savvy Backman takes a sobering and solemn look at the ways alienation and acceptance, ethics and emotions nearly destroy a small town and young people.”
Booklist

 

 

About the Author

 

 

Fredrik Backman is the New York Times bestselling author of the novels A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, and Britt-Marie Was Here, as well as a novella, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer. His books are being published around the world in more than thirty-five languages.

 

He lives in Stockholm, Sweden, with his wife and two children.  Read More 

 

Source: www.judithdcollinsconsulting.com/single-post/2016/11/01/Beartown
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