Friday, January 18, 2008
Glimpses of the Moon by Edith Wharton
Last By the Decade Challenge Book
by Edith Wharton
Susy Branch and Nick Lansing are hangers-on of the very rich. Because of their good looks and great personality, they are popular guests and basically live on the largess of their rich friends. Then they meet and fall in love. They decide on a grand experiment. They will marry and feel they can live for a year on the wedding cheques they receive plus free stays in the honey-moon villas offered by their connections. However, Susy soon finds there are strings attached to the stay at the villa in Venice. She is asked to send a letter each week on behalf of her hostess to her husband to hide her extra-marital shenanigans. When Nick finds out, his integrity is outraged and the pair split up. The remainder of the book follows the two on their separate paths. The lack of communication between the two, their reponse to rumor and vague hints, and their ridiculous pride makes the whole novel a comedy of errors. Even though they are shallow and selfish, you can't help but like both Nick and Susy, and they definitely mature through the course of the book. It's a biting satire on the way the rich carried on in the 1920's and a fun read. And I've finished this challenge. Yay!!
Posted by Framed at 7:08 PM
Literary Feline said...
Congratulations on finishing the challenge, Framed!
I haven't read anything by Edith Wharton, but I keep meaning to. She's a prolific writer and so there's plenty to choose from. This one does sound good.
9/26/2007 10:07 PM
This sounds really interesting. I liked the other Edith Wharton book I read so I might have to check this one out.
9/27/2007 10:13 AM
Thanks, Wendy, it was a fun challenge. I'm writing a summary soon.
Cassie, I thought of you often while reading this, that you would like it. I'll let you read it before I mooch it away.
9/27/2007 6:01 PM
I don't know if I'm brave enough to tackle Edith Wharton, but this one sounds good.
9/28/2007 8:18 PM
I have yet to read an Edith Wharton. Perhaps this will the be the one.
9/29/2007 6:14 AM
gautami tripathy said...
My book seller insisted I take this book. He even gave me 30% discount on it.
Thanks for the review. I am going to read it soon!
9/29/2007 9:00 AM
Carrie K said...
I love Edith Wharton. I'll have to pick this one up, haven't read it.
You finished! Awesome. I'm hoping to catch up w/all the challenges in.....December.
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostovo
Three Challenges in One
How wonderful that this book fits three of the challenges I've entered. It's great when you read a really good book and find so many reason to write about it.
Unread Athors Challenge It's unbelievable that this is Kostovo's first novel. She writes so beautifully with fantastic attention to detail, wonderful descriptive phrases and such in-depth characterization. She took the old tale of "Dracula" by Bram Stoker and expanded it into a gripping and fascinating story of evil. With all its emphasis on tracking down Dracula and the accompanying terror involved in that chase, the book also includes a beautiful romance and a father/daughter relationship that was so touching. Since most of the main characters are historians, I found myself wondering which one was the namesake of the novel. The answer to that question was just one of many twists and turns that made this book such a great read.
Armchair Traveler Challenge Tracking down vampires takes the characters on journeys to many countries in Europe. Through Kostovo's unique travelogue, I found myself reading about the wonders of Istanbul, the majesty of the Carpathian and Pyrenees Mountains, the age-old beauties of Budapest, Hungary and Bucharest, Romania, and the timelessness of Oxford University. I liked her portrayal of the people living in Eastern Europe under a Communist regime in the 1950's. Kostovo doesn't preach but manages to show how repressive these governments were while also displaying the warmth, friendliness, and humanity of the regular people who lived there. I have now added Istanbul, Budapest, and Bucharest to my list of places I'd like to visit.
R.I.P Challenge The main reason I decided to read "The Historian," aside from the fact it's been on my bookshelf for months, is for this spooky challenge. For someone who hates scary movies and things that make me jump, I have found a whole new genre of great books that I have been avoiding. Just like Bram Stoker's "Dracula" and Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere," "The Historian is an incredibly well-written book. The atmosphere of the book is so menacing that you can almost hear the scary music in the background. Kostovo builds a scenario for this book that almost makes you believe that vampires, and Dracula in particular, really exist. The historical touches are so well done. And for some reason, reading about vampires doesn't spook me like a movie would, so I was able to enjoy the atmosphere so skillfully created and the tensions as the story builds to its ending.
Slight quibbles with this book: The novel is 642 pages long. I really enjoyed it most of the way through and then started being a little tired of it. So I would like it about a hundred pages shorter although I can't imagine what she could have left out. And even though I thought it was too long, I found the final confrontation to be resolved too quickly. That said, I still would call this my favorite of the R.I.P Challenge so far.
Posted by Framed at 3:04 PM
I am reading this one right now. I only have about a hundred and fifty pages to go. It is very good.
9/22/2007 4:36 PM
Wow! Might have to read this at some point.
9/22/2007 5:43 PM
Literary Feline said...
I am so glad you enjoyed this one, Framed! It was one of my favorites last year and had quite an effect on me.
Excellent review, by the way. I like how you addressed each challenge while discussing the book.
9/22/2007 5:56 PM
What a great review Framed! I feel the same way about this book. I absolutely loved her descriptions of the different locations of their travels. I would've never thought of these cities as places I'd like to visit, but I certainly would after having read this book. I couldn't get over the fact that this was her first novel. It really was so well written. I agree that it was a bit long, but like you said, I couldn't for the life of me think of what she could leave out! Great book, glad you enjoyed it!
9/22/2007 9:10 PM
I enjoyed the parts discussing communism as well. Glad to see another person who loved the book! Lately, I've been seeing some who didn't like it, and it made me sad. lol
9/22/2007 9:57 PM
What an excellent review, Framed. You express yourself so well. I agree with Literary Feline about how you address each challenge with a paragraph describing the book. I usually don't get 'creeped out' when reading a book, but this one did creep me at places. Absolutely love it and can't wait for her next book.
9/23/2007 1:25 PM
Clearly this is going to be this year's RIP book that I have to read soon.
It's been on my TBR list for a while, but it's moving up to the read soon list quickly
9/23/2007 9:05 PM
This makes me even more excited to read this. I might have to finish up my other books really fast and read this to get me in the Halloween mood.
9/24/2007 8:48 AM
I love your reviews, you are always so thorough. Even though I've read this book, I found myself hanging on your every word like I was going to have to run out and buy the book. Anyway, I'm glad you loved it, so did I. I have never been scared by a book or "creeped out" like booklogged, but this novel did it to me! I absolutely loved it!!
9/24/2007 12:07 PM
This is one of those books that are so polarizing. People love it or hate it!!
I'm glad to see you liked it!
9/24/2007 1:14 PM
i also really enjoyed this book. kept me on the edge of my seat for almost a week!
9/24/2007 4:36 PM
Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...
Great review! I absolutely want to dig out my copy again for another read!
9/25/2007 11:42 AM
Excellent review! I loved it too and found, like you, that the travelling aspect fascinated me as much as the vampire theme. Unusual in a fiction book. I think I'm going to have to read it again one day as I'm sure there's more to be gleaned from a second read.
9/25/2007 4:47 PM
There were a few slow spots, but I loved this novel!
9/26/2007 3:13 PM
gautami tripathy said...
I like long books! Gotta pick it up!
9/29/2007 9:02 AM
Everyone seems to love this book and now that I have read Dracula I must get around to it...
10/03/2007 7:51 AM
Wonderful review! I really really want to read this book. I'm really drawn to Eastern Europe, so the fact that it's set there makes it even more alluring.
10/08/2007 8:23 AM
this one is on my RIP list too. i'm hoping to get to it before the end of the month.
10/14/2007 10:34 PM
I've avoided this book specifically because of the page count, but I loved your review and the way you described it via the challenges and how it fit within them.
10/15/2007 5:53 PM
Read this book back in 2006. Absolutely brilliant read. DaVinci Code eat your heart out. This book is a fantastic historical race through time and makes you think - 'did (or does) dracula exist'? At the start of Chapter 72, a pretty freaky part of the book, and I was reading late into the night (it's the kind of book you can't put down), a neighbours dog started to howl (not bark) outside and it freaked me out. I put the book down for the rest of the night and went to bed. When I finished the book tonight one of the lights in the room started to flicker. Pure coincidence (I hope) but it certainly added to the atmosphere of the book.
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Richard Mayhew is a exceedingly normal man in a normal job with a normal life. HIs fiance, the impossibly arrogant Jessica, dictates what he wears and where he goes, but he loves her and is satisfied with his normal, slightly boring life. Then a bleeding girl falls on the sidewalk in front of him, and, despite Jessica's imperative demand to leave her for someone else to take care of; Richard takes the girl to his place and helps her recover. This small act of kindness completely changes his life, and boring becomes only a fond memory. Richard has joined the legion of people who have fallen through the cracks and now inhabit the place below the streets of London, the tunnels and dead-ends and sewers, called London Below. Although not invisible, these people never seem to be seen by the above-Londoners which makes some very interesting circumstances as we follow Richard when he tries to help the girl, Door, on her quest to find the reason behind the murder of her family. The book teems with a cast of the most bizarre characters: some incredibly creepy and sinister like Mr. Vandemar and Mr. Croup, the ambiguous Marquis de Carabas, feisty Door, female bodyguard, Hunter, (what a great female character, obviously the toughest, ablest personality in the book) and the mysterious Angel Islington, just to name a few. There were disgusting moments, suspenseful moments, sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat moments all interspersed with a delightful sense of fun and humor. The visuals that Gaiman creates with his descriptive talent were amazing. I wonder if the movie was able to capture the eerie, fantastical world of London Below. I found this book to be a great read for the R.I.P Challenge. It's my third Gaiman book. "Good Omens" is still my favorite, but, so far, they've all been good.
Posted by Framed at 8:47 PM
Great review Framed :) I love this book! I have the BBC series on DVD and I've only watched the first 2 episodes so far and they capture the feeling of the book perfectly! I don't know why I haven't finished it yet. I would say that this is one of my favorite Gaiman books, but they're all "one of my favorites" :p I love the feel of this book though. You're absolutely right...his descriptive talent really is amazing. He creates an atmosphere so well and the cast of characters in this book are some of the most memorable that I've read.
9/14/2007 1:44 AM
The BBC series was actually created before the book - he ended up writing the novel because he felt that the series didn't quite tell the story he wanted to tell, but mood-wise it should be fine. I haven't seen it yet; I really need to one of these days.
Anyway, I'm very glad to see you enjoyed this book so much!
9/14/2007 2:00 AM
I really need to get around to reading some of Gaiman's novels. I've read Good Omens of course but nothing else other than the odd short story. I have added his short story collection, Smoke and Mirrors, to my RIP pool because I saw a good review of a couple of stories in that, so that's a start. But your excellent review has intrigued me.
9/14/2007 4:32 AM
Oh! I'm 100 pages from finishing, so I didn't read your review yet. I'll come back tomorrow. I'm loving this one!
9/14/2007 5:41 AM
I'm excited to read this book someday. Sounds dark an foreboding..just what I like.
9/14/2007 8:20 AM
Why can't there just be twice as many hours in a day?!! This is one I'm really anxious to read!
9/14/2007 11:10 AM
I'm with Debi on this one. Why can't there be more hours in the day! My TBR list is too long already. But this one does sound good. :)
9/14/2007 12:37 PM
He does create the perfect atmosphere, doesn't he? I didn't realize there was a CD. We'll have to get together and watch it sometime.
9/14/2007 5:34 PM
I read Neverwhere this year too and enjoyed it more than I was expecting. I like his graphic novels but wasn't too taken with a lot of the stories in Smoke and Mirrors. This was my first full length prose novel by him and I will definately be reading more. It was cool referencing all the underground stations and areas of London as I get the tube here most days so I could picture it all the more clearly.
9/15/2007 4:20 AM
I'm rereading this this month! (although not for the RIP challenge-I'm doing it for the single author one)
Now it seems everyone is reading it. :) I love Gaiman, but this isn't in my top three of his books. I thought it was fun, though!
9/15/2007 6:56 AM
Glad you liked this! I just skimmed your review because I haven't read it yet but plan to.
I really loved Coraline and liked Stardust quite a bit.
9/15/2007 8:14 AM
gautami tripathy said...
I have not read Gaiman. I think I should get around him. I just glanced through your review. I want to read this book.
9/15/2007 10:00 AM
Great review for a great book. I want to go to London! I think this was my favorite Gaiman yet.
9/15/2007 1:11 PM
This is one of the ones I have on my list for Carl's RIP Challenge as well. Your comments are intriguing so maybe I'll do that one sooner rather than later.
9/15/2007 4:20 PM
Great review!! This is the first year I've read any Neil Gaiman...and I've read 3 books, and have Fragile Things sitting next to me now!
I just love the RIP challenge!! Such fun books to choose from!
9/16/2007 8:38 AM
gautami tripathy said...
You have been tagged here
9/16/2007 11:34 AM
Ooh...I've this book in my pile! Thanks for the great review. :)
9/16/2007 6:14 PM
I just finished reading this as well and posted my review. I didn't like it as much as you it looks like, but I thought it was pretty good. I still want to read more of his books.
9/17/2007 8:55 AM
Wonderful review! I've only read Coraline so far. This sound so good!
9/26/2007 11:13 AM
Carrie K said...
Good Omens is my favorite too, but Neverwhere was fun.
9/29/2007 11:07 AM
Cereal Girl said...
I have seen the screen version and envy you for having read it first. The DVD is very good. It sounds like the adaptation is very close to the original. I recommend it.
Gaiman said in an interview that he was especially pleased with how the actors brought it to life in ways he hadn't imagined. The Marquis de Carabas, for example, is played by a charismatic black actor.
Dracula by Bram Stoker
When you read this book, does it make you wonder what kind of a mind did Bram Stoker have? It's pretty spooky and gory and filled with all kinds of evil. I guess the legends about vampires have been around for ages and it was good to finally read the book that really defined these weird folks. I almost wanted to see the movie because Gary Oldman is such an amazing actor. Oh, I just looked at Amazon and saw Keanu Reeves is in it as well. Now, I'm really torn.
As I started this novel, I kept questioning myself because I hate scary and creepy thngs. And this book is creepy almost immediately as Jonathan Harker travels to Transylvania to help Count Dracula complete a real estate transaction. The villagers try to warn him and, many times, he observes them crossing themselves. He becomes a little apprehensive, but that's nothing to what he faces later. Soon the action moves to London as Dracula searches for fresh blood. This is where we are introduced to a group of impossibly brave people: Mina Murray Harker, Dr. Seward, Arthur Holmwood, Quincey Morris, and, of course, the invincible Professor Van Helsing. Van Helsing is nothing like the super-hero played by Hugh Jackman in the movie, "Van Helsing." He is old, emotional, and very learned. He is also Dutch; and Stoker incorporates his Dutch accent into the dialog. In fact, there were a number of dialects in this book that I had a hard time understanding. How this band tries to defeat a foe who is becoming increasingly canny and bold makes for a gripping final third of the book. Even though, I found the novel to be too wordy and often skipped passages, I became caught up with the terror and suspense of who would be triumphant before that final sunset. I liked how Stoker expressed compassion and friendship. He also describes several seemingly unrelated incidences during the first half and then deftly begins to draw them together as the story races towards the final showdown. The story is told through a series of journal entries and letters written mostly by Jonathan, Mina and Seward. This gave me an opportunity to really get to know those characters and see others through different perspectives. Plus I grew up seeing vampires as these kind of funny, one-dimensional monsters and "Dracula" certainly gave me an whole new perspective. Overall, I enjoyed this book more than I thought when I began it. I'm sure that I will not read it again but feel that it was a worthy book to read especially for these two challenges.
Posted by Framed at 4:01 PM
Literary Feline said...
I am glad you enjoyed Dracula, Framed! I admit that I was surprised at how much I liked it too. I hadn't really known what I was in for when I started it. Great review!
9/08/2007 5:30 PM
I'm glad you liked it, too! It is a favorite of mine. When I was young and watched the old Dracula movies, I was scared witless, but couldn't help my attraction to the movies. In one of them (the first film? 1920's or early 1930's) there is a scene in Dracula's castle in which rats are swarming-- but they aren't rats, they are 'possums! Don't know how they managed to get that many!
My favorite comic rendition is Love at First Bite, and Renfield steals the show in that one. A charming and funny version.
The Coppola film changes so much of the intent; it may be worth watching just to see how the novel could be misrepresented, but I was busy disputing everything about it.
The Historian is written in a modern version of the same writing style and makes great use of Stoker's novel to present a contemporary extension of the story. I loved it. Since it is in your list, I hope you do, too!
9/08/2007 7:40 PM
I am currently reading Dracula for the R.I.P II challenge. I'm almost halfway through, and I'm loving it so far. I didn't expect to get so "hooked" on it. But it really is hard to put down. Though I agree with you on some of the dialect being too hard to understand. I skimmed some of it. I figured if I could read a whole paragraph and barely understand a thing, I didn't need to pay too close attention til the scene changed.
9/08/2007 7:58 PM
When I read this for last year's RIP I was surprised that I liked it so much. So you're still planning on watching the movie? Do you need some company for that? I'll bring the fat-free popcorn.
9/08/2007 11:16 PM
BTW, I tried to respond to your email and it wouldn't send. Some error message that didn't make sense.
I would love to mooch Ghost Writer when you finish. I'm not in any hurry so take your time. Do you own Woman in White?
9/08/2007 11:18 PM
Excellent review! I like the way people can read the same book and come up entirely different views and points. The dialects were difficult, I agree. I often had to read Van Helsing's over again to get the gist. Some of the local dialect was hard too and I'm English!
I'm not sure but wasn't Van Helsing played by Sean Connery in the movie? Your comment still applies though - he was *nothing* like the real one. LOL!
I see you're planning to read The Historian too. Look forward to your comments.
9/09/2007 2:14 AM
I watched that movie version when I was something like twelve, and it was the reason why I picked up the book some years later. I liked it back then (even though I had nightmares for a week or so), but later I realized they'd taken many, many liberties with the story.
I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the book!
9/09/2007 4:06 AM
I'm glad you liked it. I read early this year for the Classics challenge and was surprised at how wrong all the movie versions were.
9/09/2007 10:26 AM
Candace Salima (LDS Nora Roberts) said...
Hugh Jackman played Van Helsing in the movie.
So the book was really that good? I never read it because I didn't want to give myself nightmares and like you I have some trouble with the pre-Hollywood way of writing. Meaning that what we capture in a phrase "the Eiffel Tower" back then had to be painstakingly described because everyone hadn't been there, seen a picture, seen it in a movie, etc.
Maybe I'll give it a shot.
9/09/2007 1:04 PM
Tristi Pinkston said...
Hmmm -- I don't do spooky very well. I think I'll leave this one to you braver folks.
9/09/2007 1:08 PM
Cath and Candace, there are two movies referred in my review. I wasn't too clear. I haven't seen "Bram Stoker's Dracula" which stars Gary Oldman as Dracula. Hugh Jackman plays Van Helsing in the movie "Van Helsing" which is really quite cartoonish but creepily so. But if Sean Connery plays Van Helsing in the Bram Stoker version, I may see it after all. Get the popcorn out, Booklogged.
Tristi, I didn't think I did spooky very well either. But I believe I read it better than watch it in movies. There's no spooky music playing in the background. Even so, I may go see that movie. It gives me shivers to think about it.
Jennclair, I did see "Love at First Bite. It was pretty funny, but I don't remember Renfield. Maybe I should watch it again. I keep trying to get psyched up for "The Historian" but it's so big.
Becky, I'll watch for your review. It will be fun to compare.
Wendy, Nymeth, Booklogged, etc. I probably would never have read this book if it had not been for the reviews I read this past year.
Booklogged, I'll let you know when I finish "The Ghost Writer." I spending those moosh points pretty fast so I'll need more soon.
9/09/2007 5:30 PM
The movie with Keanu was gross and stupid. Keanu's part was particularly bad. He's come a long way since then. I don't mean to be such a Negative Nelly, just giving fair warning.
9/10/2007 12:26 AM
You've inspired me to give the book a try. I'm not fond of the word-e ness of the clasics, but, I'll give dracula a go.
9/10/2007 8:33 AM
I loved your review! I don't have Dracula on my list, but I'm tempted to add it now.
9/10/2007 9:13 AM
Framed, in fact you have seen the movie of Dracula because I was with you. I remember that we rented to watch on the first Halloween that I didn't go out trick or treating. I remember being surprised that you were letting me watch it, but you may not have been that much attention to it in between giving out candy and stuff.
9/10/2007 9:27 AM
Carrie K said...
I think it's Anthony Hopkins in the Dracula movie. It's not the best movie ever made, but it's got it's good points.
I never have read the book. I suppose I really should.
9/10/2007 3:27 PM
Carrie, Debi and Carrie K, you should read it. Very atmospheric.
Cassie, you know I read books when you were watching movies I didn't really want to see. I vaguely remember renting this one and seeing Gary Oldman, but that's about it.
9/10/2007 8:53 PM
I love creepy and eerie books. And I love vampires. So it's completely weird that I have never actually READ Dracula!! But for this challenge, it's definitely on my list for October!!
9/11/2007 10:40 AM
I couldn't agree more! Reading Dracula versus viewing the Hollywood version really gave me an insight over how books can bring so much more dimension than films.
10/08/2007 4:21 PM
Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
Final Newbery Challenge & First Unread Author
Karana grew up on an isolated island southwest of Low Angelos. At the age of fourteen, her life and that of the villagers around her changes forever. Aleuts visit the island to harvest otters and, after a serious altercation, leave the island with many of the village men killed. Soon another ship arrives and the remaining villagers board the ship to leave the island forever. Karana sees that her young brother is missing and swims back to the island to stay with him until the ship returns. The brother is killed by wild dogs leaving Karana to wait for the ship alone. This book tells of her struggles to survive and the friendship she develops with the lead pack dog. Eighteen years later, the ship finally returns and Karana sails away to civilization. This woman actually existed and is known as The Lost Woman of San Nicholas. The island is now the site of secret nuclear testing.
The novel reminds me a great deal of the Tom Hanks movie "Cast Away." It showcases the main character's resiliency and fortitude. It's a great book for older children. While I enjoyed it, I probably won't read it again.
Posted by Framed at 12:11 PM
I really liked this one and probably rated it higher than you did.
9/03/2007 1:58 PM
Amazingly enough, not only have I never read this book but I did not know what it was about. Therefore I appreciated reading your review and "getting a clue." Thanks!
9/08/2007 8:02 AM
Literary Feline said...
As I was re-organizing some of my bookshelves, I came across this book. It's been ages since I read it--back in elementary school probably. I was quite taken with the story back then. I wonder how I would take to it now.
Thanks for a great review!
9/08/2007 11:52 AM
Carrie K said...
I loved this book as a kid. It was one of my absolute faves.
The Tale of Despereaux by kate DiCamillo
5th Newbery & 6th Book Award Challenge
Consequence: That which logically or naturally follows from an action or a condition; an effect; result.
"Tale" is all about the consequences of the actions of Despereaux, a pint-size mouse, who falls in love with a princess; Roscuro, a rat, seeking revenge against the princess; and Miggory Sow, a 12-year-old girl, who longs to become a princess. DiCamillo creates a fun and imaginative story revolving around these three characters and how the consequences of their actions and others move toward a heart-warming conclusion. I love how the narrator talks to the reader throughout the book. I imagined reading it to children with those great breaks in the story to more completely involve the reader. And Timothy Basil Ering's illustrations were perfect, the mouse is cute, the rat, horrible; and Miggory is comical. It was such a fun and easy book to read, well-deserving of a Newbery Award.
Posted by Framed at 4:03 PM
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. When everything comes together at the end it's truly fun. However, I didn't like how the narrator talks to the reader. That part annoyed me somewhat.
I've tagged you for a meme. You can read the rules at my blog, In Seasons. You don't mind memes, do you?
9/02/2007 6:35 PM
Oh...I have this on my list to read. I have loved all the Newberry's that I've read. I'm sure this one will be no exception!
9/02/2007 7:27 PM
I've heard such good things about this one. I really need to read it.
9/03/2007 4:44 AM
Mindy Withrow said...
I loved this book, too; I reviewed it awhile back on my blog. I'm with you, Framed, in finding the narrator's asides delightful!
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
English Creek by Ivan Doig
Book Around the States - MONTANA
I bought this book at the Great Salt Lake Book Festival after listening to Ivan Doig discuss his writings and the importance of libraries. (as opposed to finding facts on the internet that aren't always facts) I've had the book for almost a year and found my personal reading challenge was a good way to finally make myself read this book. MAKE MYSELF?? I feel bad that I didn't read it immediately. It is so good. At first the western style of writing put me off, but it meshed so well with the story and the narration, and truly fit the memorable character of Jick McCaskill. Here are a few adages Jick fits into his narrative that tickled me:
"Trouble never travels lonesome."
"I was discovering that, in terms of entertainment, braiding is pretty much like chewing gum with your fingers."
"Life is wide, there's room to take a new run at it."
"By my third afternoon shift of digging, I had confirmed for myself the Two country's reputation for being a toupee of grass on a cranium of rock."
Doig was close to fifty when he wrote this book, but his dead-on portrayal of the humor, sarcasm, curiousity and confusion of an almost fifteen-year-old boy was most impressive. The story covers Jick's life in northwestern Montana during the summer of 1939 as told by Jick many years later. People are still feeling the bite of the Great Depression, but still manage to live rich lives. The main source of conflict is between two of Jick's heroes, his father, Mac, a Forest Service ranger, and his brother, Alec, a cowpuncher, who elects to get married that coming fall instead of attending college. He struggles to understand the dynamics of this conflict and the distance it creates in his family. But there are so many other tales and great characters involved in this novel. Jick gets roped into helping an old drunk friend of the family as he delivers supplies to various sheep camps in the mountains above English Creek with hilarious results. The depiction of the Fourth of July community picnic and late-night square dancing make you long for a more simpler time and place. The hay-hauling incidents brought back less-than-delightful memories for me. And Doig's description of fighting a huge fire in the National Forest before the days of drop-planes was mesmerizing. It's a truly memorable summer for Jick as he delves into the mysteries of relationships and growing up.
"All the people of that English Creek summer of 1939--they stay on in me even though so many of them are gone from life. You know how when you open a new book fo the first time, its pages linger against each other, pull apart with a reluctant little separating sound. They never quite do that again, the linger or the tiny sound. Maybe it can be said that for me, that fifteenth summer of my existence was the new book and its fresh pages. My memories of those people and times and what became of them, those are the lasting lines within the book, there to be looked on again and again. "
There are two more books in Doig's Montana trilogy. One tells the story of Jick's grandparents and the other is about Jick's daughter. I want to read them both. And, of course, "The Whistling Season," the book that first sparked my interest in Doig, is still lingering on my TBR list. As for the BOOK AROUND THE STATES CHALLENGE, "English Creek" is a fantastic illustration of the state of Montana for that era with mouth-watering descriptions of the beauty of the eastern slope of the norther Rockies.
Posted by Framed at 7:03 PM
I don't remember hearing Doig present at the festival. Judging from your review I should have. Are you going to hold on to this one or put it up for mooching? What am I thinking?! I already have too, too many books already waiting to be read. (Still, let me know if you decide to mooch.)
8/31/2007 10:01 PM
Book, You went to a presentation upstairs while Mom and I went to Doig. Sorry, but this is an autographed copy so I won't be mooching it. But you can borrow it if you'd like.
9/01/2007 7:38 AM
gautami tripathy said...
Can I borrow it too?!!
9/01/2007 8:10 AM
Tristi Pinkston said...
It sounds great -- I'll put it on my TBR.
9/01/2007 11:57 AM
Sorry, gautami, I know where to find Booklogged. But I noticed Amazon has used copies for sale at a reasonable price. I highly recommend it.
Tristi, when do you find time to write with all the reading?
9/01/2007 8:14 PM
My mother was always a fan of Doig but I never read him. Did you find it a slow start getting into the book?
9/02/2007 7:38 AM
Hi, this is not so related to your page, but it is the site you asked me 1 month ago about the abs diet. I tried it, worked well. Well here is the site
9/02/2007 1:31 PM
Jeane, it didn't take very long to get into. Mainly because Doig is so humorous.
Adam, I didn't go anywhere when I clicked on the link. Could be my computer. But thanks anyway.
East by Edith Pattou
Based on a Norwegian folk tale, this 500 -page novel explores the character of Rose, the daughter of a indulgent father and a very superstitious mother. The story involves many elements of travel, from the four directions of the globe, the wind rose found on maps, maps themselves, and journeys from Norway to France to Greenland and the North Pole. Pattou uses a literary format she found after reading "The Poisonwood Bible" (not one of my favorites) which works very well in this story. The narrators alternate from the father; the older brother; Rose herself; the Troll Queen; and the White Bear who speaks in poetry. This style wonderfully captures the essence of these five characters as well giving you insight into other characters as you view them from different perspectives. We also meet four characters helping Rose on her journey who symbolize the four points of the compass, East, South, West and finally North. As in Shannon Hale's "The Goose Girl", the fairy tale aspects are obvious but in such a charming and delightful manner. And Pattou's descriptions of the journey to the hidden land of the Trolls and the Ice Palace are freezingly beautiful. In a cast of fascinating characters, Rose stands out from the moment of her North-facing birth to her attempt to rescue the White Bear. I kept putting off reading this book as it seemed too long, and then raced through it in two days. What an elegant tale of family, travel, love and adventure with just the right touch of enchantment and suspense. Rating: 5
Posted by Framed at 6:41 PM
Thanks for reviewing this book! It's now on my TBR list-it sounds great. :)
My bookmooch account is astripedarmchair, but I go by Shari since it's my legal first name and I don't want to worry about the postal system! I prefer Eva, though. ;) I don't have a very large invetory right now, but feel free to look!
What's your account?
8/26/2007 7:25 PM
My account is under Framed. I'll try to add you as a friend if that's okay and if I can figure that out.
8/26/2007 7:28 PM
"East of the Sun and West of the Moon" is my favourite fairy tale, and I didn't know this novel existed! Thank you for this review. The book sounds wonderful and I really have to read it.
8/27/2007 5:03 AM
It sounds interesting. I might check it out. Your reviews always interest me.
9/01/2007 8:08 AM
Thanks, Guatami. I think you will enjoy this book.
The Boxmaker's Son by Donald Smurthwaite
**Donald Smurthwaite has written another beautiful story about love and family and friends. He has such an eloquent way of expressing feelings that we all know but can't quite put into words. No other author pulls at my heartstrings the way Smurthwaite does.
**"The BoxMaker's Son" is told by a son as a tribute to his father. What a collection of nostagia is bound up in this story of growing up in a lower middle class neighborhood during the late 50's and early 60's. We relive the childhood games of kick-the-can and street baseball, when everyone knew their neighbors, when time moved more slowly. The book doesn't contain any earth-shattering experiences, just a collection of simple but profound truths. It's a feel good read as Neal talks about the lessons he learned from his father's examples. As in his other books, Smurthwaite also illustrates a wonderful understanding of the Resurrection and Atonement of Christ, as he finds small acts and life experiences that are daily reminders of those supreme acts. While this is a deeply religious book, it doesn't preach to or work at improving the reader; it simply lets you feel.
**I marked so many passages in this book that spoke to me. Here are some that I hope will convey the flavor and poignancy of Smurthwaite's work.
"A man can dream of making boxes. I know that. My father made boxes. The Savior was a carpenter. I wonder if He ever created a wooden box. I think He must have. What tender care He must have used in creating his boxes, to make sure the corners fit and were tight and that they would last a long time. His boxes last for eternities. . . My father has something to show for his life. The boxes he made.
This was an analogy after the boys lost their one and only baseball:
"And then, when we were about to give up, when we were hopeless, sometimes, at the last possible second, someone would spot the ball, and the game would be resumed, with joy. The game went on, its life renewed. He died, He rose. From something lost to something found, something destroyed to something restored. From lost ball to found ball, and then the game, and our life, went on."
"I have learned that greatness is not often born at the head of armies or standing before large gatherings of people. I have learned that it is only rarely manifested in grandiose words or bold action and that it has little to do with position or title or authority. Rather, true greatness most often comes from small turnings within the soul, in quiet ways, in actions that the world will little note. Greatness is around us, below us. It is not often above us. We need to reach down for greatness, where the small things are at our feet. It comes in small, simple words and sublime magnanimity."
This quote comes after a young man has asked for the oldest sister's hand in marriage:
"This is not like making boxes at a factory, where you feed the fiber into the machine and the machine stamps out the box, perfect lines, perfect creases, right angles in a world that loves right angles. This is a part of life, a part of who you are and what you must experience, this is a part where you feel for the wind and set your sail and let the breeze take you wherever it may. And you can fight the breeze or you can let it blow you to the shore where you are supposed to land.
This is a part of the picture where God lets you put your experience and what you know and what you feel to work for you, and He steps back and thinks with loving kindness, "All right. Show me. Prove to me. This is where I have given you the outline and now you fill it all in with the colors you select. It is your picture. It is your painting. You can choose the colors."
At the end of the book, many years later, the narrator returns to his old church and visits with the man who served as his bishop when he was young.
"How can I explain to him all that I feel, all that seems to have come together and converged at this tender moment, at this place? I can only tell him this one thing, curious as it sounds.
"I can make boxes."
He nods. He knows. He also has made boxes. We have something in common, as do all who humbly follow. Our sturdy lives, square corners. The greatness we see when we bow our heads. The Savior was a carpenter. I think He made boxes. I can also build beautiful things.
My father once told me, I like people who try.
I am a boxmaker, too."
Posted by Framed at 7:44 AM
Thanks for the great review. I've seen and wondered about this book several times. Now, it is certain, I will read and enjoy it.
8/25/2007 9:52 AM
Wonderful, stirring quotes. I was just thinking I should buy it for Candleman. Now I wonder if he's already ordered it. I'll read it, too, but I'll let him go first. I like to read a book after he has marked what touches him. Actually, I'd like to read your copy, too.
8/25/2007 9:56 PM
I used book darts and then took them off. My other Smurthwaite books are all marked up. The next time I read this one, I'm using a marker.
The Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
|Tuesday, August 21, 2007|
I am certainly a fan of Shannon Hale and "The Princess Academy" only enhanced my enjoyment of her work. This is a great novel for young teens and teaches some valuable lessons about finding your potential and realizing your worth. Also, there is a great plug for the value of education. Miri is very small for her fourteen years and is not allowed to work in the quarry with the other villagers. Ths restriction makes her feel worhtless and a burden to the others. Then word comes that the next princess of the kingdom is to be chosen from the firls of her village. But first, the twenty girls, including Miri, must be educated and trained before they can compete for the Prince's affections. The girls are taken from their families and put into a harsh and exacting learning environment where they learn to read, dance, converse, even diplomacy. Soon these lessons and Miri's leadership skills take a bunch of argumentative and competitve girls and help them form a cohesive group that eventually enhances the value of the village itself. As always, Hale's descriptions are breathtaking and her characters fascinating. This is probably my favorite of all her books, and I loved the Bayern series. A definite must-read for young girls and pure entertainment for all. Rating: 5
Posted by Framed at 8:08 PM
This was my first Shannon Hale read and I too loved it. I thought it was so interesting and I love the heroine.
8/22/2007 9:23 AM
I can't decide which is my favorite. The tie is between Goose Girl and Princess Academy. It's nice to come across books like these.
8/22/2007 5:56 PM
Moo by Jane Smiley
"Moo" is a humorous depiction of a ficitonal ag college in the midwest. The cast of characters is huge and is composed mainly of the students(customers, as the administration calls them) and staff who spend most of their time on the campus of Moo U. This is the first book I've read by Jane Smiley who won a Pulitzer for her book, "A Thousand Acres." I didn't know what to expect which is just as well because this novel was highly unexpected. The first eight chapters or so are devoted to introducing the multitudes. Very gradually, all these people are tied into the plot with their various stages of life and emotions. I disliked the smug and famous economist, and the self-important dean of extension the most. At first, I disliked the English professor and novelist but he grew on me. Most of the students left me indifferent, and most of the staff were unloveable. My favorite characters were Mrs. Walker, the provost's secretary who truly runs the entire campus, Bob, the freshman student who is quite naive and diligent, and, most of all, Earl Butz, a hog at the center of the action whose experimental huge growth symoblizes much of the successes and failures of a university gone amok. Some reviews I have read suggest this is an accurate satire of actual university politics and policies. There is one chapter, "Who's in Bed with Whom", that I found way too graphic and not terribly important to the overall plot except to illustrate the weird relationship between the language teacher and the head of the horticulture department. There is quite a bit of profanity as well. And occassionally, Smiley would throw in these long sentences that I would read and re-read and still couldn't quite follow. It's definitely a book to mull and ponder to really get the full flavor of, and I'm not much into mulling and pondering. Still, I was suprised to find that at the end I did like the book, even though I felt I was dragging myself through it. The ending and the eventual fate of Earl Butz just pulls everything together and made sense of all the different characters and plot lines. Rating: 3.75
Posted by Framed at 7:19 PM
Literary Feline said...
I admit that from reading the backs of Jane Smiley's books I haven't felt the urge to bring any of them home. Maybe one day I will find myself doing so though. This one does sound interesting. If I do read it, I will keep in mind that it all comes together in the end. :-)
8/21/2007 10:55 PM
I don't think I'll read this as I am not prone to dragging myself through a book unless it is a book club book.
8/22/2007 9:22 AM
I agree with Cassie. The dragging myself through a book doesn't sound like something I want to do right now.
The Wizard of Ooze by David Farland
Thursday, August 16, 2007
Disclaimer: I can't believe I forgot this book was on my 2nds Challenge and not to be read until October. It just caught my eye when I was deciding on what to read next. I believe I'll replace it with Tess Gerritsen's "The Surgeon." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Review: David Farland's first book in the Ravenspell series, "Of Mice and Magic," was a delightful, funny fantasy involving a young female mouse wizard, Amber, and her ten-year-old human familiar, Ben, whom she has turned into a mouse. "The Wizard of Ooze" continues the story of these two mice and their friends as they face as new threat to the world in the form of a 12-foot Wyoming Thunder worm named Sebaceous Ooze. If the name doesn't gross you out (it did me), his creations--slobber goblins and snot spiders--may. Ooze has the evil intention of destroying the world by unleashing the powers of the inner earth. This is to accomplished by mesmerizing mice to dig a giant whole into the inner core and releasing a huge volcano. Any creatures remaining will be slimed to death. Amber also wants to take over the world in order to make it safer for mice and their friends. But first, they have to destroy Ooze and free the millions of hypnotized mice digging under a mountain in Wyoming. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
**I enjoyed the character of Thorn the most. Amber has magically turned him into a mouse smarter than Einstein with incredible results. There is a slight romance going on with Amber and Ben. Amber thinks Ben is the handsomest mouse she has ever seen but, as a ugly, hairless human, quite repelling. Ben has seen Amber as a lovely young girl, but can't fancy her as a mouse. Quite the conundrum. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
**This book was a disappointment to me. While wildly creative,it didn't have the charm and humor of the first book, and the worms and slime were just disgusting. I'm sure younger readers will absolutely love the grossness. The two books together cover only the space of a week and there's a lot going on in Book Two. So, in addition to the slime, I got a little confused. The big question is: will Ben ever become human again? Rating: 3
Too bad it was disappointing. I was planning on reading this one, but I think I can safely pass it up and find something more worthwhile. Thanks, Framed.
A Bell for Adano by John Hershey
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
"A Bell for Adano" tells the story of the American take-over of Sicily during WWII and its effect on the small town of Adano. Major Joppolo, an Italian-American, is assigned as the senior civil affairs officer. The beauty of this story is how much the major comes to care for the townspeople and does all he can to improve their lives and the town. Since the orignal town hall bell was melted for ammunition, Joppolo makes it his mission to replace it. The book is filled with eccentric characters, both native Italians and the American G.I.'s serving there. Hersey wrote humor and pathos into his novel. I really liked the characters in the story, although sometimes some of the townspeople became almost cartoonish. The style of writing seems better suited to an audience of pre-teens even though the content is written for adults. While I recommend the book because it's a great story, I disliked the ending and the stilted prose.
Posted by Framed at 8:22 PM
I have heard such really good things about this book. Is it short? If so, I may still try and read it some time.
8/14/2007 12:06 PM
It's an inspiring story, and not hard to read. 288 pages. It's on my bookmooch inventory.
8/14/2007 6:43 PM
Literary Feline said...
This one does sound interesting story wise. I may be willing to take a chance on it. I'll keep in mind your thoughts though--sometimes that helps balance out my expectations.
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
"Caddie Woodlawn" was far and away my favorite book when I was ten or eleven. I read it countless times. So it was great fun to rediscover the wonder of this well-told story for these two challenges. Written in 1935, the book is pleasantly old-fashioned with values we would be wise to hold onto in these days.
Since Caroline Augusta Woodlawn was so frail as a toddler, her father asked if he could raise her in a very unconventional manner for the 1860's. Caddie was allowed to run and play and work with her brothers, exposed to nature and all the wild things boys like to do. Her tomboyishness is a source of great embarassment to her mother and older sister, but, with regaining her health, Caddie is a well-adjusted pre-teen with a sense of humor, kindness, and integrity. Her antics and adventures make this story a true gem, especially because Caddie grew up to become a loving and accomplished woman who was the grandmother of the author. The book gives the reader a feel for life on the prairies of Wisconsin, with its remoteness from "civilised" society and the ever-present danger of an Indian uprising. But, mostly, it is the story of a family who lives, works and plays together. Not earth-shattering but comforting.
One quote illustrated to me how our memories of childhood are so vivid just like these memories became for Caddie: "One April afternoon she went by herself to gather flowers in the woods. The mourning doves had come back and they were making a little sad refrain through the singing of the pines. The buckets hung empty on the sugar maple trees, for the syrup season was ended. There were some new pines slashings that filled the air with perfume. Like the birch smoke and the smell of clover, the pine smell was a Wisconsin smell, and, because she loved them so, they were a part of Caddie Woodlawn."
Father's lesson to Caddie is one which helps her to begin thinking about the kind of woman she wants to be: "It's a strange thing, but somehow we expect more of girls than of boys. It is the sisters and wives and mothers, you know, Caddie, who keep the world sweet and beautiful. What a rough world it would be if there were only men and boys in it, doing things in their rough way. A woman's task is to teach them gentleness and courtesy and love and kindness. It's a big task, too, Caddie--harder than cutting trees or building mills or damning rivers. It takes nerve and courage and patience, but good women have those things.. . . I don't want you to be the silly, affected person with fine clothes and manners, whom folks sometimes call a lady. No, that is not what I want for you, my little girl. I want you to be a woman with a wise and understanding heart, healthy in body and honest in mind."
At the end of the book, Caddie analyzes the previous year: Folks keep growing from one person into another all their lives, and life is just a lot of everyday adventures. Well, whatever life is, I like it."
Posted by Framed at 6:43 PM
I wish I would have been a reader when I was younger. I feel like I've missed out on so many good books and trying to catch up now that I'm and old woman is hard. This is one that I'm definitely going to make an effort to read.
8/12/2007 8:24 PM
I read this as an adult and loved it as well.3m3am.wordpress.com
8/12/2007 9:04 PM
Candace Salima (LDS Nora Roberts) said...
Oh, Caddie Woodlawn was one of my favorite books as a child. In fact, I still have the copy my mother gave me all those years ago. Thanks for reviewing it today. It took me back.
8/13/2007 7:48 AM
I remember finding this book in grandma's library and when you told me how it had been one of your favorites as a young girl, I had to read it right then. I loved it too.
8/13/2007 11:58 AM
I have an old copy of this book but I don't think Grandma does. I bought it when you were just a baby so you could read it someday.
8/14/2007 7:27 PM
This was one of my favorites growing up also. Can't count the times that I read this. Your review makes me want to read it again!
8/18/2007 3:27 PM
Carrie K said...
That was one of my favorite books growing up too. I'll have to pick it up for a reread. Thanks for the review and the memories!