Sunday, May 29, 2016
I requested Dark Matter by Blake Crouch more than once from librarything's Early Reviewer's program. The plot synopsis had me intrigued. I knew I'd buy it even if I wasn't one of the lucky recipients on librarything. But yay me, I was a lucky recipient!
Here is the plot synopsis that got me interested...
Description: “Are you happy with your life?”
Those are the last words Jason Dessen hears before the masked abductor knocks him unconscious.
He awakens to find himself strapped to a gurney, surrounded by strangers in hazmat suits.
A man Jason’s never met smiles down at him and says, “Welcome back, my friend.”
In this world he’s woken up to, Jason’s life is not the one he knows. His wife is not his wife. His son was never born. And Jason is not an ordinary college physics professor, but a celebrated genius who has achieved something remarkable. Something impossible.
Is it this world or the other that’s the dream? And even if the home he remembers is real, how can Jason possibly make it back to the family he loves? The answers lie in a journey more wondrous and horrifying than anything he could’ve imagined—one that will force him to confront the darkest parts of himself even as he battles a terrifying, seemingly unbeatable foe.
It sounds like a lot to deliver, but the Dark Matter does not disappoint. Using quantum superposition (which I'd never heard of before this book), Crouch has crafted a mind-bending plot that questions reality as we know it. In addition, I cared for Jason and kept turning pages to find out what was going to happen to him.
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Thursday, April 7, 2016
April is one of my favorite months. Not only are we seeing some sun here in the Pacific Northwest, but St. George's Day is this month!
Do you know this holiday? In Spain on April 23, lovers give each other books and roses! Did you catch that? This is a holiday spcifically for giving books!
Here is a link to the post I wrote last year about it (I apologize for the copying and pasting)...
I'm enjoying my reading this April as well. I'm in the middle of book three of Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan series, and find myself engrossed in this intense friendship between Lenu (the narrator) and Lila set in Naples, Italy.
Here is the list of what I've been reading from my Bookcrossing page (www.bookcrossing.com, and my "name" there is 2of3Rs, if you want to explore Bookcrossing). Bookcrossing is the only place I keep a running list of what I'm reading...
Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante
Read in 2016 (In reverse chronological order...in other wrods, the first book I read in 2016 was 7 Kinds of Smart, and the book I most recently finished was The Story of a New Name.)
7 Kinds of Smart by Thomas Armstrong
Avenue of Mysteries by John Irving
The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra
Why We Buy by Paco Underhill
Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut
God Help the Child by Tony Morrison
The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins
My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh
The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante
As you can see, I read The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, which came highly recommended to me by a friend. I will admit that I almost gave up on it in the middle, but am glad I persevered. Plot twists, mistaken identities...well done! Anthony Marra's The Tsar of Love and Techno was intense and lovely, as was his Constellation of Vital Phenomena which I read last year. I loved Toni Morrison's newest, God Help the Child. Powerful. I read Hyperbole and a Half. Again. Why do I not own this book? It makes me laugh so hard that I cry. She has a new one coming out in October.
What have you been reading? Will you be celebrating St. George's Day this month?
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Thursday, February 4, 2016
Because so few Westerners are allowed into North Korea, very few people know much about what life is actually like in North Korea.
Suki Kim was born in South Korea, and her family emigrated to the U.S. when she was 13. She grew up with stories of family members who disappeared during and since the Korean conflict. These disappearances haunt her. She hopes to gain insight into what kind of world made this happen as she takes a position as a teacher in a school for elite young men in North Korea.
She's eager to learn about the country and its people, and at the same time she is terrified. Strict warnings were passed down about what she could and couldn't do, and what she could and couldn't say. They include...
"Never hint that there is anything wrong with their country.
"Living in Pyongyang is like living in a fishbowl. Everything you say and do will be watched. Even your dorm room might not be secure. They could go through your things. If you keep a journal and if you say something in it that is not complimentary, please do not leave it in your room. Even in your room, whatever you say could be recorded. Just get in a habit of not saying everything that is on your mind, not criticizing the government and things of that sort, so you won't slip.
"Do not make comparisons. For example, do not say that their food is different from yours because that could be construed as critical.
"Be careful with your terminology: Great Leader, Dear Leader, Precious Leader. Those names have to be carefully used, or better yet, just stay away from discussing them at all. Be careful about how to handle images too. For example, Air Koryo offers in-flight magazines. You take one to your office and it has a picture of Kim Jong-il, and let's say you end up sitting on it by mistake. Then you are in big trouble, because the photo is like the person. It is the same with the portrait of Kim Il-sung on the pins every North Korea wears. These men are regarded as deities, at least officially. Make sure you do not throw away, fold, tear, or damage any visual representation of them. Do not point at such images either. It would be considered an act of disrespect and you would be punished.
It is hard for us to imagine living under this kind of restriction and oppression. Kim, by living it herself, and dangerously taking notes to be able to write this book on her return to the U.S., unveils harsh political, social, and economic realities faced by North Korean citizens.
Illuminating. Definitely worth a read.
Thanks to librarything for their Early Reviewer program! Check out librarything.com! You can also check out this blog's Facebook page: NOT The New York Times Book Review. Happy reading!
Sunday, January 31, 2016
I had never heard of Zach Anner before reading about his book If At Birth You Don't Succeed on librarything. He is an internet star, hosting several different web series, a comedian, fitness instructor...and oh, he has cerebral palsy.
What came through about Zach to me is that he is a person first; his disability is not his defining feature.
One of the many things he does in the book is that he confronts how people often see the disability before they see the person.
I know this is a long quote from the book, but really, it's worth reading...
"A pedestal of prejudice is a hard thing to explain without sounding like a dick. But in a weird way, most of the world places such low expectations on me that there's no way I can do anything but amaze. I recently went on a museum tour of famed illustrator N.C. Wyeth's home and studio. During the tour, I did little more than look at paintings and indifferently notice a slightly narrow dining-room table. Sure, there was the occasional doorway I had to roll through without running into the frame, but it certainly wasn't like docking a shuttle to a space station. This isn't to say that the art itself wasn't beautiful and emotionally compelling to me, but it was an afternoon at a museum, and largely museums only ask their patrons to look at things without touching them. That much I can do. At the end of the experience, the jolly security guard who had escorted us through the tour patted me on the shoulder and said, 'Bet you haven't had this much fun in a loooong time, huh? You did really good!' I didn't have the heart to tell him that I had, in fact, just the day before, been a guest in a house where I was also not allowed to touch anything. And the day before that, I'd kayaked for the first time...over a tree. But still, in this man's mind, my doing nothing successfully was worthy of praise. Perhaps he imagined that I spent my days looking at empty walls wishing I had a still life oil painting of two lemons and a potato, and that I was bored to tears with my normal-size dining room table."
He doesn't sound like a dick. He's intelligent and funny and clever, and he just happens to have cerebral palsy which of course, as he says, is the sexiest of all the palsies.
Zach writes about wanting to be famous, learning how to be funny, figuring out how to live with his disability, but mostly, how to be human.
Definitely worth the read.
Thanks to librarything for their Early Reviewer program! And thank you for reading the blog! You can also check out this blog's Facebook page: NOT The New York Times Book Review. Happy reading!
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
Read in 2015
Watership Down by Richard Adams
Show Your Work by Austin Kelon
Not My Father's Son by Alan Cumming
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
California by Edan Lepucki
Proof: The Science of Booze by Adam Rogers
The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon
A Matter of Breeding by Michael Brandow
Dept of Speculation by Jenny Offill
The Sasquatch Hunter's Almanac by Sharma Shields
The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
Kinder Than Solitude by Yiyun Li
The Silent Wife by A.S.A. Harrison
Her by Harriet Lane
Postcards from a Dead Girl by Kirk Farber
I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson
The Steady Running of the Hour by Justin Go
The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
The Fever by Megan Abbott
The Next Queen of Heaven by Gregory Maguire
Love's Promises by Martha M. Ertman
All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante
Live Right and Find Happiness (Although Beer is Much Faster) by Dave Barry
My Sunshine Away by M.O. Walsh
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Second Life by S.J. Watson
The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons by Sam Kean
Language Arts by Stephanie Kallos
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore
A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
The Novel Habits of Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
They Eat Puppies, Don't They? by Christopher Buckley
Armada by Ernest Cline
Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore
You by Caroline Kepnes
There is No Us Without You by Suki Kim
In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
The Book of Speculation by Erika Swyler
Pacific by Simon Winchester
Mother Bruce by Ryan T. Higgins
Wool by Hugh Howey
The First Bad Man: A Novel by Miranda July
On Cats by Charles Bukowski
If at Birth You Don't Succeed by Zach Anner
2015 was not a great year of reading for me. There were books I enjoyed, some I enjoyed quite a bit (The Girl With All the Gifts, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, all of the psychological thrillers)... but 2015 was a year of huge transition for me.
I know that when I am experiencing a lot of change/challenges/stress, I don't get as much out of what I read. It's harder to focus, when so much of my energy is going into other things.
And...it is what it is. I'm looking forward to 2016!
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