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text 2018-05-23 02:29
Summer Reading List 2018
Pete Rose: An American Dilemma - Kostya Kennedy
First Love, Last Rites - Ian McEwan
The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket - Edgar Allan Poe,Richard Kopley
Leviathan - Scott Westerfeld,Keith Thompson
Three Tall Women - Edward Albee
Homegoing - Yaa Gyasi
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Brontë

I'm well behind pace in my reading this year. I always say I "average" a book a week, for 52 or so books a year, but I usually exceed that by a fair margin. This year, I'm quite slow. Only 16 so far - even though at least two were "doorstops."

 

So two weeks ago, when I realized I hadn't even considered my summer reading list, I was worried. But when I finally sat down to compose it, the list came flowing straight out. Easy-peasy, less than an hour's contemplation, for sure.

 

The fact I've been using the same nine categories for years, I'm sure, helps considerably. Three books for each month of summer. Things that make me happy and better-rounded. Plenty of room left for serendipity and other titles. Here goes:

The list.

 

1. A baseball book - "Pete Rose: An American Dilemma" by Kostya Kennedy. Reading a baseball book - fiction or non-fiction - is a summer tradition. Thanks, Casey Awards for the ready-made list. 

 

2. A Michael Chabon book - "Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces." This was both tough and incredibly easy. I've read all of Chabon's books, except some very hard to get screenplays and graphic novels. Luckily, he has a new book out this month. It's an anthology of his magazine essays, in the mode of "Maps and Legends," but it's better than none!

 

3. An Ian McEwan book - "First Love, Last Rites." I've read all of McEwan's recent stuff, so I have to reach way back into the Ian Macabre phase, which I like less, but it needs to be done. At least there's a new McEwan adaptation coming out in theaters soon.

 

4. A Neglected Classic - "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket," Edgar Allen Poe's only novel. Not one that was really on my radar, but read entry five for more "why." 

 

5. A recent "big" book - "Pym" by Mat Johnson. I have the opportunity to hear Johnson read in June, and I think it's time to read his novel, inspired by Poe's, as listed above. 

 

6. A YA book - "Leviathan" by Scott Westerfeld. A steampunk, World War I revisionist novel? Yes, please. 

 

7. A Play - "Three Tall Women" by Edward Albee. It's in revival on Broadway right now with Laurie Metcalf. You know I won't make it to Manhattan, so I'd better finally read it.

 

8. A Recommendation from a Friend - "Homegoing" by Yaa Gyasi. My friend, Laura, suggested it. She didn't have to suggest very hard, because I was already meaning to read it. And she loaned me her copy!

 

9. The book I didn't read from last year's list - "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" by Anne Bronte. There's one every year. This year's will probably be the Chabon, just because it's new and might be hard to acquire through library means.

 

Well, that's it. I'll post a list on the booklikes list app. Will you read along with me? What's on your list for Summer '18? 

 

-cg

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review 2018-05-10 14:56
A truly romantic novel about a love that survives against all odds.
Returning to the Land of the Morning Calm - Hans M. Hirschi

I can reassure those who know Mr. Hirschi as the Queen of Unconventional Happy Endings. He’s done it again.

This book, perhaps the most romantic of the books I’ve read so far by this author, in my opinion, is about a love story that has survived incredible odds and lasted almost a whole lifetime. Despite being separated by different continents, being from different backgrounds, and hardly knowing each other’s languages and customs, two young men meet in Korea shortly after the war (in 1953) and feel attracted to each other. One, Martin, is an African-American soldier with a penchant for languages, helping the UN with the pacification tasks. The other, Ji-Hoon, is a young man working at the family restaurant, whose future path has been decided for him. He will get married and inherit the family business. They are both young, beautiful, and inexperienced. In such strange circumstances, they meet and get to know each other. Martin helps Ji-Hoon’s family providing supplies as often as he can, and he ends up becoming a friend of the whole family. But, they are not meant to be together. Martin goes back to the US and never meets anybody he feels the same about as he did for Ji-Hoon. He knows he was going to get married, but after a brief epistolary contact, they lose touch. Now in his eighties, thanks to a new nurse at the nursing home where he is staying, Kevin, and to the brother of one of the other residents, Eugene, he is encouraged to find out what happened to the true love of his life.

The story, although written in the third person, is told from Martin’s point of view. There are chapters set in the present, interspersed with chapters that took place in Korea after the war, providing the readers the background to understand both, the love story, and also how time has passed and changed things. There is a fair amount of telling in the book, as Martin, who is, in many ways, old-fashioned, not used to talking about his feelings, and of a generation where being openly gay was not the done thing (and in his case, being compounded by the race issue it would have made his life even harder), lives pretty much a quiet life, full of memories of the one event and emotion that really shook his world. Martin is confronted by some openly gay men (very different in outlook: Kevin, a Goth nurse who has trouble fitting in, but not with his sexuality; Eugene, who found a refuge for his more flamboyant mannerisms in an acting career; and Eugene’s nephew, who is married to another man and has children and a blissful family life, other than the conflict with his mother) and their questions and different outlooks make him, in a way, come of age and wonder, not only how things could have been, but also, why things could be. The fact that men still find him attractive, and there is still plenty of life left in him, together with the encouragement he receives, makes him go back to Korea pursuing the love of his youth.

The beautifully detailed writing manages to bring Korea to life, both in the post-war era and now. We share in Martin’s point of view and that makes us see the beauty of it, the wonder, but also the confusion and how much it has changed when we get to the present. The descriptions of places, food, and moments are emotional and beautiful. Korea and the way it has changed over time parallels what has happened to Martin. There are traces of the past, love for respect and tradition, but some of the old things had to be removed to make way for the new, and some could not be saved. It is not all for the better, but there is still beauty there, and its people are still the people Martin felt so fond of.

In some ways, we know little about Martin, who is not somebody who talks about him easily, and who only makes passing comments about his previous life and shares some brief snippets about his parents, his work, and his lovers over the years, but does not dwell on them. He is a modest and humble man who seems unaware of how much people like him or how fond they are of him. He is a credible character, and his doubts and hesitations fit in well with his age, his outlook on life, and also the effect he has on others. At the same time, his exploration of life and his perfect role as an observer when he first goes to Korea and on his return help readers explore and feel at one with him, sharing in his wonder and confusion.

Apart from Korea and the love story at the heart of the book, there are many other themes that come into play and create a complex background. The three men who end up going to Korea face some challenges and prejudice. While Martin could hide his sexual orientation, his skin colour was there for everybody to see, and being in the military he was fully aware of how different a treatment he was likely to receive from his colleagues. Eugene could not hide his gayness and pass for straight, and his lifestyle put him at risk. We know the #MeToo does not only apply to women, and in Eugene’s case, it had serious consequences for him. He was shunned by his sister all of his life, for being who he was. And his nephew suffered the same fate. Kevin, whose looks and style-choices have made him a bit of an outsider, is a loner and feels more comfortable with Martin than with people his age. There are parallels and similarities between the —at least at first sight— very different characters, and later on, we see these parallels are also in evidence across the world, with religious beliefs and conservative traditions coming in the way of love and understanding. We see Ji-Hoon only through Martin’s eyes at first, and he is not always insightful about people around him or about how he is perceived by others, but we have an opportunity to see what impact he truly had on his friends later on in the book.

Although the story of elderly men or women trying to find a lost love is not new, I enjoyed Martin’s process of discovery and his coming into his own. I love the comradery and the way the three men helped each other, with Eugene playing the fairy godmother and facilitating the trip, Kevin providing the technical and hands-on know-how, and Martin confronting his fears to become the hero he was meant to be. This is a novel about friendship, about history, about love, and about hope. We should never lose our hope and dreams. Nothing is impossible if we don’t give up. (Ah, there is no erotica, in case that you, like me, don’t particularly enjoy it).

The author includes a recipe at the end (the dish is central to the story, so I won’t go into detail), and he also explains some of the process and the language difficulties he faced and adds a glossary of terms at the end.

A gorgeous cover, for a truly romantic book that goes beyond the standard love story and includes an ensemble of characters you’ll feel sorry to say goodbye to. I’ll be eagerly waiting for Mr. Hirschi’s next book.

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text 2018-05-06 02:02
Free Audio book (US at least) until 9th
American Pharoah: The Untold Story of th... American Pharoah: The Untold Story of the Triple Crown Winner's Legendary Rise - Joe Drape

So Audible is offering the above for free until the 9th because the horse Audible placed 3rd.  Offer is here

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review 2018-05-03 18:45
WALK THE SKY by Robert Swartwood & David B. Silva, narrated by Matt Godfrey
Walk the Sky - Robert Swartwood,David B. Silva,Matt Godfrey

 

WALK THE SKY is a nice little weird western tale that put me in mind of the work of Joe Lansdale. Which is another way of saying this story is a lot of fun!

 

We start off with George and Clay traveling by horseback and coming across a young boy who is on the verge of death. As events unfold, the reader learns the boy has narrowly escaped something in a nearby town, (DED!), a town in which George and Clay must stop for supplies. Soon after their arrival, all three end up in jail and are introduced to the mad reverend and his posse. Will they get out of jail? What does the crazy reverend want from them? Will anyone survive? You'll have to read this book to find out!

 

I loved the western aspects of this story as well as the bits of native American folklore which were woven in. It was nice to read something different than the same old, same old. Even though some popular western tropes can be found here, the authors seamlessly pulled them together with some unique and original storytelling, much as Joe Lansdale does in his westerns. The only thing missing was that oddball humor of Lansdale's, but this wasn't meant to be a funny tale.

 

I listened to this on audio and as always, Matt Godfrey brings it home with a compelling style that only brings honor to the writing.

 

WALK THE SKY is one of those rare pieces of work that successfully straddles genres and brings to the reader a fine sense of satisfaction at the conclusion. Recommended to any fans of westerns, weird westerns, and to horror fans alike!

 

*I received the audio of this book free of charge from the narrator, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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url 2018-04-27 03:57
Fighting Erasure: Women SF Writers of the 1970s, Part V
The Idylls of the Queen: A Tale of Queen Guenevere - Phyllis Ann Karr
The Journal of Nicholas the American - Leigh Kennedy
The Dopplegänger Gambit - Lee Killough
Beggars in Spain - Nancy Kress
Deryni Rising - Katherine Kurtz
Journey to Aprilioth - Eileen Kernaghan
Shoebag - M.E. Kerr,Mary James
Flyer - Gail Kimberly

Article at  http://www.tor.com/2018/04/23/fighting-erasure-women-sf-writers-of-the-1970s-part-v says is "Onward! This time, my subject is women SF writers whose surnames begin with K and who debuted in the 1970s..."

Source: www.tor.com/2018/04/23/fighting-erasure-women-sf-writers-of-the-1970s-part-v
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