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review 2019-03-23 07:03
Snake by Kate Jennings
Snake - Kate Jennings

Praised for its mesmerizing intensity and taut, quick-witted prose, SNAKE tells the mesmerizing story of a mismatched couple -- Irene, ambitious and man-crazy, and her quiet, adoring, responsible husband, Rex -- who tumble into marriage and settle as newlyweds on a remote Australian farm. It is amid this unforgiving landscape that Irene and Rex raise their two children. It is here that, as Rex bears silent witness, Irene tends her garden and wrestles with what seems to be her fate. And it is here that their marriage unravels -- inexorably, bitterly, spectacularly.





*POTENTIAL TRIGGER WARNING: This novella incorporates themes of abortion and suicide.



Australian housewife Irene has for some time grown to feel that she's become uncomfortably locked into a seriously stifled domestic existence. Though she can't deny her husband has proven to be a good and faithful man, she misses the more wild, carefree side of her spirit that got consumed somewhere along the path of marriage and motherhood.


Irene makes it clear she likes her son but seems to be easily annoyed by her daughter. "Boy" is often light-hearted about life, enamored with American country music, while "Girlie" has a very serious nature, a writer spirit who tends to interpret things in their most literal sense. She's not much appreciated by either adults or fellow children.


Irene and Rex have a pretty good bond in the early years, but begin to show signs of slowly drifting apart over time as the children grow up. Along with decreased affections, tensions steadily rise between them. Whispers of infidelity begin to surface. Irene's coldness towards her daughter also increases while parent-child boundaries between her and her son become uncomfortably blurred. (WHY are they having tub time together in his teenage years?!!)


"Like many women of her class, Irene's mother maintained a separate bedroom from her husband; he could make his own arrangements. On the rare occassions she thought about sex, it was to envisage the gully at the bottom of the hill near her house --- gloomy, vine-tangled, rank with the smell of still water and furtive animals."


Well, if that's the example Irene had to grow up with.... 


Finally hitting her limit with everything one day, Irene rather heartlessly decides to leave a letter confessional addressed to husband Rex out in the open --- where anyone might stumble upon it --- in which she admits that the son he helped raise all these years was actually fathered by her ex! The unraveling of the relationship from that point of confession continues to drive the narrative to its headshaker of an ending.


Snake is a quick novella read with alternating POVS: Part 1 is presented in second person voice, observing Rex; Parts 2 & 3 are in third person observing both Irene and Rex as a couple, while also offering perspective from Billie, an Army friend of Irene's who also served as one of her bridesmaids. Billie gives the reader details on Irene's pre-Rex promiscuous years, history that might play into why she was the way she was with Rex years later; Part 4 goes back to second person voice, but with the voice now focusing on Irene. 


I won't lie, this one was a weird little read. It's gritty and stark, the descriptions of bleak Australian landscape often serving as an extra character to enhance the dark mood between our human players. The plot is grim but the writing itself is fascinating, bringing the reader into full-on rubbernecker mode til the very end. I didn't always entirely understand how some scenes connected to the plot as a whole and in the later bits of the story there seemed to be a strange fixation on bugs and mice that also left me scratching my head a bit. 


In some ways, Snake reminds me of my reading of Nabokov's Lolita. Maybe not a story you'd return to often because it's so cozy and good... both books will undoubtedly induce a good skin crawl or two .... but you stay with the pages because THAT WRITING THO. Though an author might lead you down some dark, sketchy paths, a reader can't but be taken with a finely woven sentence (or hundreds of pages of them!). This is one such book. Take it for a spin at least once just for the sheer experience of quality "less is more" writing craft.

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text 2019-03-22 22:40
Around the World in 80 Books Mostly by Female Authors: Master Update Post

[World map created with Mapchart.net]


The aim: To diversify my reading and read as many books as possible (not necessarily 80) set in, and by authors from, countries all over the world.  Female authors preferred.  If a book is set in a location other than that of the author's nationality, it can apply to either (but not both).


On the map I'm only tracking new reads, not also rereads.


The Books:



Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Purple Hibiscus (new)



Elizabeth Peters: Crocodile on the Sandbank (new)



Alexandra Fuller: Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight (new)







Michelle Obama: Becoming (new)

Mary Roberts Rinehart: The Red Lamp (new)

* Puerto Rico

Rosario Ferré: The House on the Lagoon (new)



Stef Penney: The Tenderness of Wolves (new)



Clarice Lispector: The Hour of the Star (new)








Xinran: The Good Women of China (new)



Shizuko Natsuki: Murder at Mt. Fuji (new)


North Korea

Hyeonseo Lee: The Girl with Seven Names (new)


Sri Lanka

Michael Ondaatje: Anil's Ghost (new)



Elif Shafak: Three Daughters of Eve (new)






Australia / Oceania


Joan Lindsay: Picnic at Hanging Rock (new)


New Zealand

Ngaio Marsh: Vintage Murder and Died in the Wool (both revisited on audio)







United Kingdom

Lorna Nicholl Morgan: Another Little Murder (new)

Stephen Fry, John Woolf, Nick Baker: Stephen Fry's Victorian Secrets (new)

P.D. James: A Taste for Death (revisited on audio)

Agatha Christie: The Big Four, Why Didn't They Ask Evans?, The Unexpected Guest, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, and The Secret Adversary (all revisited on audio; The Unexpected Guest also in print); The Lost Plays: Butter in a Lordly Dish / Personal Call / Murder in the Mews (new)

Elizabeth Ferrars: Murder Among Friends (new)

Barbara Pym: Excellent Women (new)

Terry Pratchett: Equal Rites (revisited on audio)

Georgette Heyer: Why Shoot a Butler? (new)

Nicholas Blake: A Question of Proof (new)

Joy Ellis: The Murderer's Son (new)

Peter Grainger: An Accidental Death (new)

Elizabeth Gaskell: My Lady Ludlow (new)

Various Authors / Contributors: Agatha Christie Close Up: A Radio Investigation (new)

Virginia Woolf: The String Quartet (new)

John Buchan: The 39 Steps (revisited on audio)

Oscar Wilde: Lord Arthur Savile's Crime (new)

Ellis Peters: The Hermit of Eyton Forest (reread)

Patricia Wentworth: The Alington Inheritance, and The Gazebo (both new)

Dorothy L. Sayers: Whose Body? (reread)

Martin Fido: The World of Sherlock Holmes (new)



Tana French: The Witch Elm (new)



Stephen Fry: Mythos (new)

Madeline Miller: Circe (new)



Astrid Lindgren: Die Menschheit hat den Verstand verloren: Tagebücher 1939-1945 (A World Gone Mad: Diaries, 1939-45) (new)



Emmuska Orczy: The Elusive Pimpernel (new)



Agatha Christie: Murder on the Orient Express (revisited on audio)

(Note: Yugoslavia at the time of the writing -- but the action is set after the train has passed Vinkovci, aka "The Gateway to Croatia".)






The "Gender Wars" Stats:

Read to date, in 2019:

Books by female authors: 38

- new: 27

- rereads: 11


Books by male authors: 9

- new: 7

- rereads: 2


Books by F & M mixed teams / anthologies: 1

- new: 1

- rereads:

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review 2019-03-22 19:34
Review: "The Executioner" (Robert Hunter, #2) by Chris Carter
The Executioner - Chris Carter


~ 3 stars ~


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text 2019-03-22 14:18
Reading Update for Furry Logic | Chapter 4
Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life - Liz Kalaugher,Matin Durrani

Furry Logic: The Physics of Animal Life

by Matin Durrani & Liz Kalaugher

Chapter 4: Sound: Good Vibrations

I wanna say that this chapter wasn't as exciting as the previous ones, if only because I don't remember a whole lot about it aside from the term "stealth echolocation."  I admit, it could have also been my own issue that had my mind wandering while reading about sounds and vibrations.

The peacock thing was pretty interesting as well, but only because the amusing emphasis on peacock mating made for a nice chuckle.  And also, elephants are cool, what with their triangulation of sound to determine distance and direction.

The chattiness of the authors' writing styles seems to have ebbed a bit... either that, or I've just gotten used to it enough that it doesn't bother me anymore.  So this book is coming along quite nicely.

Nevertheless, this is what I highlighted in this chapter as the most memorable:



The conflict between the physics working against the bat and its good hearing means there's a 'sweet spot' for ultrasound at a particular noise level where the bat's just near enough to echolocate the moth and the moth's just near enough to hear the bat.  At this position the bat's better hearing exactly compensates for the echo it receives being weaker (because of the extra attenuation) than the sound going directly to the moth.  Bat 0, Moth 0.  If, however, the bat beams out ultrasound louder than this noise level, it's a 'moth win' as the moth hears the bat from further away, whilst the bat can't detect the echo, and the insect flies away.  Bat 0, Moth 1.  Only by beaming out ultrasound more faintly than this threshold can the sharp-eared barbastelle detect the eared moth without the moth hearing.  Bat 1, Moth 0.  The ultrasound pulse from the bat is quiet and the echo that bounces back is quieter still, but the bat sense it because its hearing is so good.  The sound reaching the moth is louder, as it has only travelled one way.  But, being a cloth-ears, the moth can't detect it.  Unlucky, eared moth: you're dinner.



Source: anicheungbookabyss.blogspot.com/2019/03/reading-update-for-furry-logic-chapter-4.html
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text 2019-03-22 09:45
New Books - Small batch before bed. :)

DONE - Elentarri was on a ROLL.  ;-)


More will be coming tomorrow, but a small, miscellaneous batch.


Batch #1:

(spoiler show)


Batch #2:

(spoiler show)

Batch #3:

(spoiler show)


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