Her 2019 Reading Year

Top reading year, this is turning out to be.

Her Favorites, by Month:

  • February: The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry and November Road by Lou Berney.
  • March: Becky Chambers’ Record of a Spaceborn Few.
  • April: Milkman by Anna Burns; Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday; and Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore by Elizabeth Rush.
  • May: Arnhem: The Battle for the Bridges by Antony Beevor and Northanger Abbey.
  • June: Once Upon a River by Diane Setterfield

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Three

Self picking her favorite reads so far, 2019. All three happen to be novels. They’re arranged according to the month she read them.

  • November Road, by Louis Berney – read February

The Setting: America post-John F. Kennedy Assassination

  • Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers – read March

Science Fiction

The Setting: Earth and Outer Space (The Future, of course)

  • Asymmetry, by Lisa Halliday – read April

The Setting: America post 9/11 to the time of the First Gulf War

FOUR

Looking back, self’s February was LIT.

LIT.

She read two of her four Best So Far 2019 in February.

Currently, she’s reading Milkman and she loves it. It is so fraught.

April, BE LIT.

Stay tuned.

For NOVEMBER ROAD, Memories of a Long-Ago Las Vegas

Lou Berney’s thriller, November Road, is nearing its mournful denoument. The killer’s getting closer and closer.

NOOOOO!!!

Before we get there, however, there’s the 1963 Las Vegas Strip, where Frank Guidry discovers his past and Charlotte discovers her future.

Las Vegas was the one place self associates with “family vacation” — the one place we returned to, year after year, for about five years. We’d stay at a hotel — either the Bellagio, the Venetian, the Paris, or the MGM Grand — and loll by the pool and take in a show. We’d grow fat at hotel buffets. Here’s a picture of self and son, taken about 15 years ago, at Hoover Dam. How ironic that this is the ONE picture she has of a particular trip. And it’s not even IN Las Vegas.

IMG017

With Son at Hoover Dam, Just Outside Las Vegas, a Lifetime Ago

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Alita, Robert Rodriguez, November Road

At one point, close to the end of Alita: Battle Angel, self started to see if she could correctly predict the outcome. There was the cute guy (who looks A LOT like one of self’s nephews), the charming father figure (Christoph Waltz) and the Evil Henchman (Ed Skrein). At a certain point, self found herself hoping for a certain outcome, which meant that she was vested. And then she realized she was watching Robert Rodriguez, not Guillermo del Toro. And she suddenly knew the outcome. Which gave her a very satisfying feeling of closure.

Alita: Battle Angel — Five Stars

Now, she is at a point in her current read, November Road, where all characters and all plot lines begin to intersect. And they intersect in what is surely one of America’s most beautiful and most mysterious states: New Mexico. There’s a tiny hamlet called Goodnight that has one sheriff, one deputy, and one jail cell.

Here’s a Wikipedia page about the Goodnight Trail, if anyone’s interested.

The book’s veering into No Country For Old Men territory, with this one crucial difference: the MC, Frank Guidry, is good-looking. AND smart.

Since she’s never read Lou Berney before, she has no idea what authorial quirks are coming into play. She has a feeling, though, that Berney is going to be true to the genre. And that genre is noir.

The writing is of the hard-boiled crime genre category (which is to say, self loves it).

p. 136: Seraphine was fond of Guidry, he knew, but that and a nickel would get him one song on the jukebox.

See what self means?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

The Academy in JADE CITY: Hogwarts in Janloon

The Year-Eights graduate. Anden, self’s second-favorite character. Well, probably her first now since . . . WAH!! Don’t make her say it.

Anyhoo, Anden is a Year-Eight. He passes all his graduation pre-trials, one by one, handily.

Now comes the test called the Massacre of the Mice (Self keeps thinking of that Dave Sedaris story about how hard it is to kill a mouse), p. 348:

At Pre-Trials the Year-Eights stood behind a table in the packed Gathering Hall and each was given a cage of five white lab mice. They were not allowed to touch the mice with anything but one finger, and the judges disqualified anyone trying to cheat by using Strength or Deflection on the small creatures. Various attempts had been made over the years to try to upgrade the popular event to be more exciting — who didn’t want to see a man try to Channel into a bull? For practical and budgetary reasons, the proposals were always overruled . . .  When the bell went off, he didn’t bother to try to touch the mice with his fingers. They were too nimble for that. He hovered both hands over the cage, quickly Perceiving all five tiny throbbing lives burning like tea lights.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Status Report: Books Read (So Far) 2018

By now it should be clear how much self loves constructing lists. And book lists best of all.

Self set herself a goodreads Reading Challenge of 32 books, which is pretty ambitious considering last year she didn’t make her challenge goal of 26 books.

Nevertheless.

Books Read This Year (in the order of their Goodreads Average Rating)

  1. The Odyssey (the translation by Emily Wilson)
  2. La Belle Sauvage, by Philip Pullman
  3. The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
  4. The Subtle Knife, by Philip Pullman
  5. The Summer Book, by Tove Jansson
  6. The Amber Spyglass, by Philip Pullman
  7. Travels with Charley: In Search of America, by John Steinbeck
  8. The Romanovs: 1613 – 1918, by Hugh Sebag-Montefiore
  9. Conclave, by Robert Harris
  10. Hillbilly Elegy, A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis
  11. The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman
  12. Treasure Island, by Robert Louis Stevenson
  13. Empress of the East: How a European Slave Girl Became Queen of the Ottoman Empire, by Leslie Peirce
  14. In the Lake of the Woods, by Tim O’Brien
  15. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding
  16. Mikhail and Margarita, by Julie Lekstrom Himes
  17. The Mandibles, A Family: 2029 – 2047, by Lionel Shriver
  18. Moshi Moshi, by Banana Yoshimoto
  19. Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys
  20. As Lie Is to Grin, by Simeon Marsalis

Today, self went poring over her recommended reading list and discarded a list called “Recommended Summer Reading” (downloaded from a literary website). Summer is practically half over and by the time she gets to the books on that list, it will be winter.

On her To-Read list 2018 are a biography of Daphne du Maurier and three du Maurier novels. She hopes she can get to them soon. She wishes Steinbeck weren’t so engaging because he is really slowing down her reading rate. Before she began Travels with Charley she read an average of a book a week.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers.

On Now, San Francisco 2018

Summer: SO MANY THINGS, from the Magritte exhibit at SFMOMA, to the Rube Goldberg exhibit at the Jewish Contemporary Art Museum on Mission St., to the Redwood City Century 20, where we saw Jurassic Park last weekend (Bryce Dallas Howard forever!)

 

The End of LA BELLE SAUVAGE (Spoilers, Needless To Say)

p. 443:

  • The first boat had swung back. Now it smashed into the canoe again, a deathblow, and the brave little boat was broken open like an egg. Both Malcolm and Asta cried out with love.

The next book on self’s reading list is The Golden Compass. At least, she’ll give it a go.

So far, this year, she’s read three really good novels, the kind that make it into her “favorites” list: Moshi Moshi by Banana Yoshimoto; The Mandibles, by Lionel Shriver; and La Belle Sauvage. Actually, Conclave, by Robert Harris, was pretty good, too. Wow, the first third of 2018 has produced a rich harvest. That’s never happened to self before.

The last time she read a trilogy was way back 2015, when she began Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices. That was a smashing series. She spent part of that year in London, looking for Saint Bride’s and the old Blackfriars bridge. At Saint Bride’s, she chatted with a deacon who was amused that Saint Bride’s was the setting of the Shadowhunters’ London sanctuary. She was so into Victorian Steampunk that year, and remembers being mightily impressed that York had an annual Steampunk Festival.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

Pope John XXIII: JOURNAL OF A SOUL

  • As for women, and everything to do with them, never a word, never; it was as if there were no women in the world. This absolute silence, even between close friends, about everything to do with women was one of the most profound and lasting lessons of my early years in the priesthood. — from p. 185 of Robert Harris’s thriller (about the election of a new Pope), Conclave

The MP (or main protagonist) is reading. Since he is a Cardinal, he reads religious stuff. Like Pope John XXIII’s writings.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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