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text 2019-08-23 11:32
“Where’d you go, Bernadette?” by Maria Semple – abandoned at 10% because I’ve become a grumpy old man.
Where'd You Go, Bernadette (Audio) - Maria Semple

I'm colour blind or, at least, that's what they tell me. I've never seen the world any differently than the way I see it now. I'm taking other people's word for it that they're seeing things that I'm not. It COULD be a mass delusion or a global conspiracy but, you know, Occam's razor, think horses not zebras (unless you're on the Savannah, in which case, think Zebras).


Most of the time, the difference in what I see and what others see has no impact. Then I'll get the, "Wow, look at that field of poppies. Isn't that red amazing?". I see red as a recessive colour. If I really look, I'll notice it, but it doesn't jump out at me, so poppies are kinda lost against all the green stuff around them. Other people are much more conditioned to see red and pay attention. I can tell this by the way their eyes immediately spot even the smallest bloodstain on my clothes - but that's a different story.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is whered-you-go-bernadette-movie-poster-2019.jpg
 Anyway, listening to the much loved, "Where'd you go, Bernadette?" (now made into a movie starring Cate Blanchett - odd how no one complains about casting an Australian actress as an American but pick the wrong skin colour for a mermaid and you're in deep trouble), I felt the same way that I do when other people go wow over that field of poppies - if I squint, I can kinda see that this is a funny book, packed with zany humour and delivered with a light touch and a slightly unconventional structure. I just don't care.

I was looking for something light. I'm doing that a lot lately. I certainly found it with "Where'd You Go, Bernadette". Problem is, I found out that this is not the kind of light I'm in sympathy with. This doesn't make me chuckle. It makes me grind my teeth, muttered words like "vapid", and "narcissistic" and take off my headphones and rant about unconscious privilege and irrelevant first-world problems and ask how the hell someone who thinks of herself as smart and well-educated EVER thought that Polar Bears and Penguins shared a habitat.


I gave up after an hour (about 10%) deciding that I'm humour blind as well as colour blind, that I should learn to take life less seriously and that this DEFINITELY wasn't the book that was going to teach me that.


The audiobook is read by Kathleen Wilhoite in a frantic over-emoted voice that may perfectly capture the spirit of the book but was also a reason why I didn't make it past the first hour. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample.





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text 2019-08-21 12:02
Bout Of Books Day #3
Where'd You Go, Bernadette - Maria Semple
Asking for it - Louise T. O'Neill
F*ck Love - Tarryn Fisher, Madison Seidler
Every Heart a Doorway - Seanan McGuire
The Travelling Cat Chronicles - Hiro Arikawa
Conversations with Friends - Sally Rooney

Here's the challenge for day 3:


Pick your favorite book and recreate it OR reimagine the cover either live (with yourself or a willing participant as the cover art) or drawing, sculpture, crafts, painting, etc.


There were so many I liked that I put up 6! I'll give a brief summary of each one.


  • Where'd You Go Bernadette


I like the simplistic nature of this one and I love that shade of green, so soothing.


Asking For It


The plastic image of the doll relates so much about this book and the way woman are objectified. It really speaks to me.


F*ck Love


Tarryn Fisher's covers are lovely, but this one stands out as beautiful


Every Heart A Doorway


What's not to love about this image?


The Travelling Cat Chronicles


I love cats and snow, so it's a perfect combination


Conversations with Friends


This cover is so vibrant and simple. I love it.



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review 2019-07-11 18:54
Where'd You Go, Bernadette - Maria Semple

Wow. So this book bounced all over the place and my brain still feels fizzy because there was a lot of things going on, but boy did I love this book! I loved Bernadette, Bee, their weird dog Ice Cream, and I loved the emails and letters between two women who I would have throttled if I ever met in real life (Audrey Griffin and Soo-Lin). This book was in parts funny and sad and back to funny again. I picked this because I wanted to know what the upcoming movie starring Cate Blanchett was about. I am definitely glad that I picked this up and it wasn't a very long book so it didn't take me too much time to move this up on my read list.


"Where'd You Go, Bernadette" follows mother and wife Bernadette Fox as well as the people who are in her life (her husband Elgie and daughter Bee) as well as an increasing unhinged neighbor (Audrey) and the new admin in her husband's life (Soo-Lin). The book begins when Bernadette's daughter Bee asks to go to Antarctica since her parents promised her whatever she wanted if she got straight As (or in this case all S---FYI school now is weird). Bernadette and her husband agree and we find Bernadette dreading the trip, but still hiring someone who is in India to do the day to day tasks needed for the trip as well as help Bernadette with paying bills, dealing with lawyers, and even in one case making restaurant reservations. You quickly realize that something is not right here and it's a quick road to figuring out what is going on. I do have to say that I loved that my initial impressions of people flip flopped a lot while reading this. Except I started off being irked by Soo-Lin and ended up diskling her.


I can't really say who is the main character in this. We get POVs from Bernadette and Bee. We get comments about Elgin from other characters. We get emails and in one case letters and police report detailing information about other people in this story. Due to that I would say that though Bernadette is the person the book revolves around for the most part, we don't get very in depth with her.


The writing style is hard to pin down in this one because of the various ways that Semple tells this story. I still think my favorite part of this book was the police report. Good grief I laughed. Like a lot. And I thought to myself that the person in question would so be one of those women who would be memed and hashtagged to death nowadays. The flow works very well even though at first I was wondering who the heck everyone was, but you quickly get into the rhythm with this book.


The book takes place in Seattle but we also have Antarctica in play here and I loved reading about it. I went to Seattle last year and loved the place. Initially we have Bernadette hating the place after moving from LA. But in the end she makes peace with the location. I personally loved the views from the water, going out on a boat tour, and even visiting the aquarium and Space Needle. I had a few friends who went to Antarctica years ago to go scuba diving. I am still mad at myself for passing that trip up, but the thought of going into cold water just made me shudder.


The ending made me smile inside though one wonders about what's next for Bernadette.

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text 2019-02-25 00:27
In Praise of the Misanthrope . . .
Where'd You Go, Bernadette - Maria Semple

You know when I decided I loved Bernadette? Page 10:

"The only way to get to Antarctica is by cruise ship. Even the smallest one has 150 passengers, which translates into me being trapped with 149 other people who will uniquely annoy the hell out of me with their rudeness, waste, idiotic questions, incessant yammering, creepy food requests, boring small talk, etc. Or worse, they might turn their curiosity toward me, and expect pleasantry in return. I'm getting a panic attack just thinking about it. A little social anxiety never hurt anyone, am I right?"


Yep. Page 10. I love her. 



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review 2018-06-13 01:55
Today Will Be Different
Today Will Be Different - Maria Semple,Kathleen Wilhoite



After having enjoyed Where'd You Go, Bernadette, I was excited to find another book by Maria Semple--and especially once I realized she had gotten Kathleen Wilhoite again, to narrate the audiobook.  The two books appear to exist in the same universe, as the central character's son goes to The Galen School, just as Bee does in Bernadette.  


Eleanor Flood used to be at the helm of an animated show called Looper Wash.  But that was years ago.  She and her hand-surgeon husband Joe Wallace had traded New York City for Seattle ten years before, based on the premise that Seattle was supposed to be the least religious city in the U.S.  They had a deal that they'd move back to NYC in ten years, switch again ten years after that, and keep alternating for the duration.  But Joe is well ensconced in his position as hand surgeon to the Seattle Sea Hawks, and the topic hasn't been broached in quite a while.


So, Eleanor decides that "today will be different," but her plans are interrupted when she gets a call from The Galen School letting her know that her son Timby is complaining that he doesn't feel well.  Eleanor is convinced he's faking sick because the same thing has happened a couple of other times recently, so she takes him straight to the pediatrician.  The visit reveals that the motive for being "sick" is conflict with a classmate, and the doctor prescribes "Mommy time."  An impromptu visit to Joe's office leads to the revelation that Joe had told his staff that the family was "on vacation" that week--which raises the question of what he's been doing while pretending to go to work every day.


So things take an odd turn as Eleanor attempts to figure out what's going on.  No, she can't just call her husband and have conversation, because then there'd be no plot!  Meanwhile, she and Timby have lunch with a former co-worker from her Looper Wash days, and he produces something she hasn't thought about in years: a hand-made illustrated book she made many years back, The Flood Girls.  What?!?!  Eleanor never told Timby she had a sister.  "I don't have a sister!"  Well, we'll see about that.


There were times when I found Eleanor exasperating, but she never completely lost me, and I enjoyed the payoff.  Kathleen Wilhoite again brings another dimension to the story with her narration.  I do wish someone had coached her on pronouncing "Clowes" and "Groening," though.  As in Bernadette, there is a scene where Wilhoite gets to showcase her beautiful singing voice.  In this case, she sings "Morning Has Broken."  Although I thought it was a pleasant enough song when the Cat Stevens version was popular in the 1970s, Wilhoite did something magical to it.  I almost teared up.  (Must see if library has her CD!)

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