ElaineB will never read 50 books this year, however...

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ElaineB will never read 50 books this year, however...

Post by ElaineB on Fri Mar 08, 2013 6:33 pm

I've read only one so far. (I've been...gasp...writing!) Oh, and I know it's not lesbian, but it's all I've got to show for myself.

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy Very Happy (That's four smilies, in case you didn't get that.)

This is actually quite flawed, but Kingsolver managed to pull it out for me in the end. It got quite preachy, both about climate change and being poor, as though intended for audiences that needed a primer. Reminded me of Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult in that regard (Lesbianism 101). This also reminded me of the Moth Love chapters of Prodigal Summer--a feisty young woman marries into a difficult family, complete with barnyard animals. What Kingsolver does so well, and what makes her worth reading and studying, is her use of metaphor and theme. They are all over the place here, neatly braided together, and I loved this for that. I genuinely was not sure what choice Dellarobia would make and was not disappointed in the way she went, although I thought a significant scene took place offstage, which was odd.
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Re: ElaineB will never read 50 books this year, however...

Post by ElaineB on Fri Mar 08, 2013 6:44 pm

Oh, aren't we supposed to post some disclaimer that we're not undercover agents for publishers or authors?

Oh yeah, here we go...
The disclaimer: In compliance with FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION 16 CFR Part 255 (http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2009/10/endortest.shtm), I hereby declare that all books read and reviewed by me on this site have been purchased by me (or my wife), borrowed from the library, or received as a gift from someone other than the author, publisher, or editor; that I have not been requested to write a review by the author, publisher, or editor; and that I have received no compensation in any form for posting these reviews.

Actually, now that I read it, it seems we have to disclose when we DO receive books in exchange for a review. Anyway...
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Re: ElaineB will never read 50 books this year, however...

Post by Lilien on Fri Mar 08, 2013 9:47 pm

If I open my thread here this year that would mean you will hear from me sometime this time next year. So I guess I could just save some space for other ladies. Very Happy
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Re: ElaineB will never read 50 books this year, however...

Post by Athena on Sat Mar 09, 2013 8:16 am

Do we all have to put up an disclaimer, Elaine? Or just you authors?
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Re: ElaineB will never read 50 books this year, however...

Post by Deej on Sat Mar 09, 2013 8:20 am

I think everyone does Athena, so that we state we're not being paid for what we write. <shrug> I would hope that was obvious.

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Re: ElaineB will never read 50 books this year, however...

Post by ElaineB on Sat Mar 09, 2013 9:30 am

When I read the rule, most of it pertained to advertising--when people claim to use a product but are really paid to use it, kind of thing. But it does mention bloggers writing about a product and not disclosing that they were paid to do so. The rule really seems to be that you need to disclose when you are paid, but probably safe this way.

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Re: ElaineB will never read 50 books this year, however...

Post by BassGuitarGirl on Sat Mar 09, 2013 9:20 pm

I love the title of your thread. Very funny! Very Happy
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Re: ElaineB will never read 50 books this year, however...

Post by ElaineB on Thu May 23, 2013 10:00 pm

Oh heck, I forgot I started this thread!

I've got a bunch to post, but the line breaks are driving me nuts. I'll work on it later.

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Re: ElaineB will never read 50 books this year, however...

Post by Athena on Sat May 25, 2013 1:12 pm

Looking forward to seeing your book reviews. OK
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Re: ElaineB will never read 50 books this year, however...

Post by ElaineB on Sun May 26, 2013 8:29 am

Here you go...

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn


On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

Really unlikable characters, so this was not as satisfying as it could have been. Definitely noir. But very clever and different. I like that in a book. The first part is in his POV and just as you begin to think you know what's going on, it switches to her POV and everything changes. Amazing flip. And when they make the movie, John Goodman MUST play the lawyer, Tanner Bolt. I had all kinds of great theories as to what really happened, but was wrong every which way.


On a Farther Shore: The Life and Legacy of Rachel Carson, Author of Silent Spring by William Souder
for the author
for Rachel Carson

I wrote a lengthy review on Goodreads, so the short version is he totally missed her lesbianism, calling her decade-long relationship with a married woman a "romantic friendship." Please. But Carson is quite remarkable and I was pleased to learn about her. I didn't know that much beforehand.


Carry the One by Carol Anshaw
three stars four stars (Between those, I'd say. Obviously well written, but not sure it hit on all cylinders for me.)

“When you add us up, you always have to carry the one.” Following a devastating moment in the hours after Carmen’s wedding, three siblings and their friends move through the next twenty-five years under its long shadow. Through friendships and love affairs; marriage and divorce; parenthood, holidays, and the modest calamities and triumphs of ordinary days, Carry the One shows how one life affects another, and how those who thrive and those who self-destruct are closer to each other than we’d expect. Whether they take refuge in art, drugs, social justice, or love, Carol Anshaw’s characters are sympathetic, funny, and uncannily familiar as they reflect back to us our deepest pain and longings, our joys, and our transcendent moments of understanding.

I'm not sure what to think of this book. I liked that one of the main characters was a lesbian, and I was pleased that her story was not compromised. Alice has her own story line, but she also appears in most of the others, more so than they do in hers. This, in many ways, was really her story. But the span of years and multiple POVs made it feel distant. We get no more than a dip into each life for a few days every few years. Just when I thought I was getting to know one character, it was time to move on, to the next or the future. I was able to get close to them and liked them all, but in the end I’m not sure any of them changed enough or changed because of the girl. Nick's story was devastating and, I thought, very well done. It was heartbreaking. I thought the chapter on 9/11 was thrown in because it happened so had to be addressed, but the reactions felt more after the fact, not in the moment. I don’t think any of us had that presence of mind at the time.

My other main beef with the book is that, at least for Alice and Nick, fame and fortune come very easily. I suppose it's nice to read, for once, about an artist who doesn't have to struggle, but it didn't ring true to the story that revolved around this young child who had not future because of them.

But what about that last page? I've read it several times now and am still not sure what happened. I like that. If anyone reads this, I’d love to talk about that ending!



The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

My boss loaned me this, otherwise I wouldn't have bothered. I don't like fictional stories about real people. This is about Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley Richardson. It was an interesting look into the life of a writer, assuming that aspect was true.


Miserere by Caren Werlinger

1968 – a year of upheaval for the nation and for the Mitchell family. When her father goes MIA in Vietnam, ten-year-old Connemara and her family move to West Virginia and into her mother’s ancestral home – a neglected house whose walls hold old secrets of forbidden love and knowledge of things best forgotten. For reasons she does not yet understand, Conn is chosen as the one who must unravel the mystery surrounding her ancestor, Caitríona Ní Faolain, who disappeared soon after the Civil War – a mystery that has condemned her family to a curse for over a hundred years. Set during two of the most turbulent periods of American history, this story takes the reader on an epic journey through time as Conn delves deeper and deeper into her family's past in order to end the curse before it is passed on to a new generation. Along the way, she teaches the adults around her something of the enduring power of love and hatred – and the terrible price of redemption.

This has nothing but five-star reviews on amazon. I liked it, but not that much.

I like the story, I like the juxtaposition of the past with the present story lines. The characters are all very likeable (or not likeable, as they should be). This is different. Not your average lesfic. And I like that. I like that it had romance without being a Romance. It has elements of coming out/coming of age, but doesn’t focus solely on that. I am curious to read more by this author.

The story of Caitriona and Orla in the past is quite compelling and well done. The switch from past to present was not jarring. I was confused, however, because it wasn’t made clear in the beginning that the past was experienced by Conn in the present (well, 1968) as visions. I found myself stopping, going, how’d she know that? It does become clear later, with her staring off into space, falling into a river (could be some serious implications from this little condition). So why not make that clear from the start?

I liked Conn very much, she’s a great character—very Scout-like. But she made me think this was a kids book, but it’s not. Though, curiously, neither is To Kill a Mockingbird. But something didn’t quite fit for me. I was never able to connect emotionally with the relationship between Hannah and Caitriona. There just wasn’t enough of Hannah to grab me. I’m also not the least bit clear what happened to her, but Conn seemed to know more than the reader knows.

The first half of the book dragged while we got caught up on everything—that was well enough done; no info dumps, but everything moved slowly. Tension did not build well for me. What happened to Will should have been the crux of the story, the big climax—it’s how he relates to the curse, but it happens early on and Conn has no role in it. The curse seemed to link Caitriona to her father, but their “sins” seemed quite different and unrelated.

For a while I thought this wouldn’t be a lesbian story at all. Which would have been fine. But it is, so I don’t think that should take so long to get to, nor that the realization should hit both characters out of the blue. There should have been signs along the way. Oh, and because Caitriona is now gay, Conn has a sudden realization why she didn’t want to ever marry. Cripes, she’s only 10-11 (she has a birthday). I know it’s 1968 and that probably could have happened, but, again, there should have been clues along the way. But Conn’s so isolated. It's summer, she's new, and the only other kids she encounters are boys—Will and Jed.

So why did the curse affect the family the way it did? And I’m actually not sure what Caitriona’s big sin was—Hannah or what she did in the cave? Oh, and Abraham was a teacher. He’d know the difference between hung and hanged.

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Re: ElaineB will never read 50 books this year, however...

Post by Athena on Mon Jun 24, 2013 1:25 pm

ElaineB wrote:
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn




... The first part is in his POV and just as you begin to think you know what's going on, it switches to her POV and everything changes. Amazing flip. ...
Ohhhh, I totally missed your review. That book really sounds interesting. I just love when you don't know at once who the murder is but have to figure it out yourself. (Although I am always wrong with my guesses...) laugh
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Re: ElaineB will never read 50 books this year, however...

Post by ElaineB on Mon Jun 24, 2013 5:02 pm

Well, you're bound to be really wrong on this one! I'll be interested in your opinion if you read it. Not a book that has stayed with me (I recently had to check the ending!) Very noir, dark. No HEA here! Not my usual style, but I was interested in the buzz around it.

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Re: ElaineB will never read 50 books this year, however...

Post by ElaineB on Tue Jul 02, 2013 12:55 pm

Something to Believe by Robbi McCoy

four stars 

Blurb: When Lauren Keegan met Cassie Burkett on a Yangtze River cruise, they immediately clicked. Cruise over, they kept in touch, and rapidly became close friends. The following year they’re reunited for a visit which ends with a spontaneous kiss that surprises them both. That one kiss destroys their friendship, sending them back to their lives—and their partners—heartsick and remorseful. Ten years later everything—and nothing—has changed. While the path is now clear for them to reignite the old flame, the time still seems all wrong.

This does not use the usual tropes of lesbian Romance. There’s no contrived misunderstanding keeping the lovers apart. The tension is largely internal—these couples don’t fight (at least that we see). It addresses the very real question: Is it possible to love more than one person at a time and is that OK? It’s not about polyamory, though; they don’t act on these feelings beyond first base (or less). It’s about mature women (in their 30s to 40s)—Yay!—in real relationships and how they struggle. There’s no lacking in Lauren’s relationship that encourages her to stray, it’s just that mysterious bond that apparently can form more than once at a time. You could argue that if her love for Faith was so strong, so fulfilled, that she wouldn’t allow romantic emotions to form for Cassie. It just wouldn’t happen. But everyone’s different. This story rings true. There’s also an undercurrent of belief systems (hence the title). Maybe it’s fate. Very interesting and it’s sticking with me. It makes you think about the ones that got away.

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Re: ElaineB will never read 50 books this year, however...

Post by ElaineB on Tue Jul 02, 2013 1:01 pm

A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France by Caroline Moorehead
five stars 

Blurb: They were teachers, students, chemists, writers, and housewives; a singer at the Paris Opera, a midwife, a dental surgeon. They distributed anti-Nazi leaflets, printed subversive newspapers, hid resisters, secreted Jews to safety, transported weapons, and conveyed clandestine messages. The youngest was a schoolgirl of fifteen who scrawled "V" for victory on the walls of her lycée; the eldest, a farmer's wife in her sixties who harbored escaped Allied airmen. Strangers to each other, hailing from villages and cities from across France, these brave women were united in hatred and defiance of their Nazi occupiers.

Eventually, the Gestapo hunted down 230 of these women and imprisoned them in a fort outside Paris. Separated from home and loved ones, these disparate individuals turned to one another, their common experience conquering divisions of age, education, profession, and class, as they found solace and strength in their deep affection and camaraderie.

In January 1943, they were sent to their final destination: Auschwitz. Only forty-nine would return to France.

***

I don’t think it’s possible to overstate the importance of this book. I’m not Jewish, I’m not French, but I am a lesbian and it is possible for me to imagine the evil that can be perpetrated against people simply for who they are. This was a story I’d never heard before. And I really knew nothing about Vichy France. It is a must read for anyone who wants to call themselves human. It is both mind boggling and mind numbing. Inspiring but heartbreaking. It won’t answer the questions, why does evil exist or what makes people capable of inflicting such horror on other humans, but it gives a remarkable example of what it takes to survive. Friendship. A concept we take for granted. What we think of that word is fluff compared to the strength it can bring in the worst of times.

It was hard to follow so many characters, many with similar names. I wish she had include more direct quotes from her interviews with the few she was able to meet. But that’s hardly the point. It was less important what happened to each individual, but rather how they worked together to survive. There is a list at the back to help, though I didn’t find that till I was almost finished.

This is the point: “They had learnt, they would say, the full meaning of friendship, a commitment to each other that went far deeper than individual liking or disliking; and they now felt wiser, in some indefinable way, because they had understood the depths to which human beings can sink and equally the heights to which it is possible to rise.”

I couldn’t help but wonder how I would have fared (and given my age alone, guaranteed I would not have survived). Reading this was so difficult, I saved it for lunch hour reading—small chunks at a time. Otherwise, it would be easy to be overwhelmed. Stunning, simply stunning.

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Re: ElaineB will never read 50 books this year, however...

Post by ElaineB on Tue Jul 02, 2013 1:04 pm

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

four stars 

Blurb: One Sunday in the spring of 1988, a woman living on a reservation in North Dakota is attacked. The details of the crime are slow to surface as Geraldine Coutts is traumatized and reluctant to relive or reveal what happened, either to the police or to her husband, Bazil, and thirteen-year-old son, Joe. In one day, Joe's life is irrevocably transformed. He tries to heal his mother, but she will not leave her bed and slips into an abyss of solitude. Increasingly alone, Joe finds himself thrust prematurely into an adult world for which he is ill prepared.

While his father, who is a tribal judge, endeavors to wrest justice from a situation that defies his efforts, Joe becomes frustrated with the official investigation and sets out with his trusted friends, Cappy, Zack, and Angus, to get some answers of his own. Their quest takes them first to the Round House, a sacred space and place of worship for the Ojibwe. And this is only the beginning.

***

This is a book that should probably be read several times. It works on so many levels: from the Star Trek references to the frustrations of life on a reservation where you are helpless to seek justice for a heinous crime. Everything braids together beautifully right to the shocking but inevitable conclusion. What is justice? What would you do for someone you love? What would you do to protect them? My only complaint is that quotation marks really wouldn’t have detracted from the dialogue. Sometimes I wasn’t sure what was spoken or what was thought. It bumped me out of the story a little bit each time and prevented me from really absorbing the story. This moves at a languid pace, taking time to develop many characters and story lines. In reading about this book, I learned that many of the characters appeared in other stories by Erdrich. It makes me want to read them (this is my first by her), but I don’t see any reason to hold back if you haven’t read the others. In the end, the big question, why, is never really answered, as it can never be.

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Re: ElaineB will never read 50 books this year, however...

Post by ElaineB on Tue Jul 02, 2013 1:07 pm

The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx

four stars 

Blurb: When Quoyle's two-timing wife meets her just desserts, he retreats with his two daughters to his ancestral home on the starkly beautiful Newfoundland coast, where a rich cast of local characters and family members all play a part in Quoyle's struggle to reclaim his life. As Quoyle confronts his private demons -- and the unpredictable forces of nature and society -- he begins to see the possibility of love without pain or misery. A vigorous, darkly comic, and at times magical portrait of the contemporary North American family, "The Shipping News" shows why Annie Proulx is recognized as one of the most gifted and original writers in America today.

***

Well, this was different! I’d recently seen the movie, which is excellent and lets Judi Dench play a lesbian. It follows the book very well, except in the book “the aunt” pretty much disappears from the story and is never shown to be a lesbian.

The writing style irks many readers. Proulx breaks a lot of rules, but she earned the right. This is well done and the quirky writing matches the quirky story. Early on, I bonded so completely with poor Quoyle that I became quite depressed. He is a sad sack, but Proulx manages to insert enough humor (the movie capitalizes on this) to make it palatable. I was sorry to see the character of the aunt pretty much disappear from the story (happily Judi Dench has a significant part in the movie).

Proulx’s style is also effective in handling really a difficult subject—sexual abuse. Oddly, there’s no real payoff in the book for Agnis and in the movie you see her stealing the ashes but not what she does with them. The book handles that quite well and appropriately.

The setting is well done—you can feel the bite of the wind, the hum through the cables. The knot-tying instructions that lead the chapters tie in well (pun intended).

I recommend both the movie and the book.

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Re: ElaineB will never read 50 books this year, however...

Post by Athena on Tue Jul 02, 2013 1:43 pm

ElaineB wrote:I recommend both the movie and the book.
I have way too many unread books here, so I will go for the movie. laugh 
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