Saturday, April 30, 2011

Galore by Michael Crummey ~ Part II

I reviewed Galore earlier this week prior to discussing the book with some other bloggers at Devourer of Books blog. (My review). In that post, I said I would be back to let you know what the Book Club readers thought of Galore, so here I am! Our entire discussion is available at Book Club discussion. As Jen said at the beginning of our discussion, this post is likely to contain *spoilers*!
(This post has been delayed due to problems with Blogger - ugh! My fingers are crossed all goes well today!)

There are parts of Galore I liked but, in general, I didn't care much for the book. In our Book Club discussion, my opinion was definitely the minority. They all thought Galore was great! I wish I'd spoken with some of them while I was reading Galore because their perspective on the book was different than mine and I think I would have approached the story in a different way.

The other bloggers who participated in the Book Club discussion I list below with a link to their review of Galore if they posted one:
Jen of Devourer of Books (review)
Nicole of Linus' Blanket (review)
Jenn of
Picky Girl (review)
Cassandra of
Indie Reader Houston
Wendy of Caribousmom
Martha of Hey, I Want to Read That

I was the most disappointed with Galore because Crummey didn't provide much insight into any of the characters, including the character who's in the book from beginning to end, Mary Tryphena. There's an enormous number of characters in Galore. Several come from the two main families on the Newfoundland island of Paradise Deep, the Sellers and the Devines. Crummey provides family trees for these families in the very beginning of the book to help readers keep track of some of the characters. I had so many questions about the motivations, thoughts, feelings and ideas of many of the characters and came up frustrated when very few were provided.

Nicole had a different and really interesting point of view:
" It’s funny because I can’t say that I didn’t wonder some of those things and want some of those answers, because I did. But it was almost like it was less important to me because it almost seemed to be the way their world worked. They seemed to be very accepting of either simple or no explanations for what they had to endure. I think I just couldn’t want more or expect much more of then than they could for themselves, and yet they still really interested me."

Several of the others felt similarly and Jenn added
" I also think Crummey may not have wanted to focus the narrative too strongly on any one character, and to me, that made it seem more of a sociological exploration of this place and time than anything else."

And Jessica said, "I felt like the scope of the story was so large and there were so many characters involved that I was pretty impressed with the depth of the characters that we did get."

When Galore begins, there isn't a great number of people living on the island of Paradise Deep. The people on the island don't have any really formal religion, no house of worship and the one priest, Father Phelan, a very sorry excuse for a priest, divides his time between Paradise Deep and several other small enclaves miles away. As the novel progresses, the island grows in size as people are attracted by the availability of fish and some other industries and families grow. We see how things change on the island as the years pass and people come and go depending on any number of things. By the end of the book, Paradise Deep is a much different place in some ways than it was on page one and in some ways it's much the same.

Nicole commented:

"The world was so different than anything I had previously read and there were so many people that I was surprised that it held my attention the way it did. It was so compelling. Large casts of characters tend to be rather hit or miss, with some more interesting than others, but here I was fascinated with everyone, so I didn’t have those moments where I wasn’t engaged."
This viewpoint was echoed by several of the others.

There's an atmosphere of mystery surrounding this island and references to folk beliefs and elements pop up frequently. The island inhabitants rely on folklore and fables when met with problems, health crisis, medical issues, questions of religion and law etc. As the years pass, and things slowly modernize while people with different perspectives and ideas come to the island and more formal religion is established, some of the folk beliefs die out with new generations. The fables and folk beliefs are never completely gone, though. Jessica commented that one of the characters in the second part of the novel remarked "Newfoundland is too fantastical to believe in when he was in the states" and that's the general impression I think Crummey wanted his readers to have of Paradise Deep and the islanders.

It seems Crummey may have been influenced by Gabriel Garcia Marquez whom he quotes before the story begins. It's been many years since I read Marquez's work. Jen wrote that Galore is similar to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s short story The Very Old Man with Enormous Wings and she links to the story in her review. I haven't had a chance to read it yet but I plan to. A few reviews I read of Galore remark on its similarity to Marquez's book One Hundred Years of Solitude. Cassandra says, too that there is a similarity to One Hundred Years of Solitude, her favorite book and that "Galore is a very respectful homage to the type of tale that Garcia Marquez was trying to tell without being an imitation of it".

Jenn also commented that she was reminded of Isabel Allende's The House of Spirits when reading Galore. Nicole commented, "I agree with Jenn about The House of Spirits", and called it a fabulous book. .I have read a couple of Allende's book but, unfortunately not this one.

Some of the Book Club readers had issues with Crummey's writing. Jessica felt it wasn't smooth and Crummey's used grammar in a different way. She had a problem with sentences that weren't complete in that they lacked verbs or were clauses that seemed like they should have been attached to real sentences. Jen and commented that Crummey's use of dashed instead of quotation marks and other punctuation was something they had to get used to. Problems with how Galore is written didn't impact anyone's reading to any great extent.
As Jessica said
"I do think it’s a testament to the story and Crummey’s overall writing, however, that even though this detail drove me nuts sometimes, I still loved the story and was sucked into it most of the time."

One part of the novel we all agreed about is the ending. It's fascinating. Crummey did a terrific job with the ending of Galore, leaving it open to a little bit of interpretation but in a very interesting, riveting manner.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd

Title: Ordinary Thunderstorms
Author: William Boyd
ISBN: 978-0061876752
Pages: 432
Release Date: February 1, 2011
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.0 out of 5

Publisher: One May evening in London, as a result of a chance encounter and a split-second decision, the young climatologist Adam Kindred loses everything – home, job, reputation, passport, credit cards, money – never to get them back.
With the police and a hit man in merciless pursuit, Adam has no choice but to go underground, joining the ranks of the disappeared, struggling to understand how his life has unraveled so spectacularly. His journey of discovery will take him along the Thames from Chelsea to the sink estates of the East End. On the way he encounters aristocrats, priests, prostitutes and a policewoman – but will he ever find himself again?

My Thoughts: William Boyd is one of the many authors whose books I've wanted to read for quite a while. When I saw Ordinary Thunderstorms on TLC Book Tours list I jumped at the chance to read it. I had no idea what to expect. What I got was an intriguing, if somewhat implausible, story about a man named Adam Kindred. Adam's life changes completely, in the blink of an eye, when he attempts to do a nice deed for Philip Wang, a man he met briefly in a cafe. Adam finds Philip Wang murdered. In a very short span, Adam makes three poor decisions that result in him running for his life in the streets of London, where he knows no one. So now, not only is Adam wanted for murder, but someone is trying to kill him.

Adam Kindred is the main character in Ordinary Thunderstorms. He's a climatologist from Arizona, a thoughtful and intelligent young man, interviewing for a job in London.
He occasionally suffers from a lack of common sense and, we discover later in the novel, is prone to bad decisions.

When Adam realizes his life is in danger, everything becomes about surviving while trying to discover who murdered Wang. It no longer matters that he's a climatologist who helped build the world's largest cloud chamber. I thought it was fascinating how quickly Adam's identity as a middle-class American with a good job and all the accessories that go with that life fall away. Adam adapts to life as a vagrant and beggar.

Mr. Boyd's writing is compelling and draws us into the story. Adam is a likeable character who we relate to and sympathize with. It's not that difficult to imagine ourselves doing a nice deed like Adam did and possibly ending up in a bad situation. Therefore, I didn't find it that difficult to ignore the implausibility of some of Adam's actions, such as his talent for evading the brute who wants to kill him and the authorities while managing to find an ideal place to hide and still feed himself. Bathing is, apparently, a more difficult problem!

"It was five days since his grotesque, brief encounter with Dr. Philip Wang in Anne Boleyn House - five days that had allowed his beard to grow, dense and dark and, he hoped all-disguising. The itch around his jaw, throat and lips was just one amongst the many itches that dominated his waking life. He hadn't stepped under a shower or into a bath since he had prepared himself for his interview at Imperial College."

There are several other characters who figure prominently in the story, including Ingram Fryzer, the head of a pharmaceutical company at the center of Adam's problems. Fryzer and his brother-in-law, Lord Ivo Redcastle, provide a comic aspect to the book. Fryzer is an older man used to having a lot of money and living a good life without working hard. He has somehow, to his surprise, allowed his company to be used by some unscrupulous men for financial gain. He's a confused, pathetic, trusting man who wants everything to work out well with little effort on his part. Meanwhile, Redcastle, who sits on the board of Fryzer’s company, is an idiot who wants a lot of money whatever he has to do to get it. He comes up with one scheme after another yet he's up to his eyeballs in debt. Then there's Jonjo Case, a violent, mercenary thug trained by the army who now works for a security firm killing people.

The chapters alternate between each character's part of the story until the different threads start coming together. Every one of the characters touches Adam's life, directly or indirectly, as he tries to determine who is behind the murder and restore his identity all while trying to remain alive. And though it may require some suspension of belief to accept Adam's newfound ability to avoid a professional hit man, what does feel real is the way he relishes his new life, particularly when he‘s no longer living on the street. From there he develops, what would otherwise seem a very unlikely romance with a police woman. This is one of Boyd's skills - to combine a character's change in a believable way and make it flow into hard to believe scenarios.

There are several themes in this story but none greater than an individual’s identity. Through Adam we see how easy it is to lose your identity and, how important it is to retain it. As soon as it’s gone, Adam fights to get his identity back. While living on the street, Adam meets other struggling men at a local church. The homeless men are assigned the name “John” with a corresponding number. Adam is known as “John 1603”. These men have no job or anything else to identify them, so for all intents and purposes they are their number. Without an identity these men feel as if they don’t exist. Adam realizes how easy it is for people who live on the streets to disappear simply because they don‘t have an identity.

Through the mercenary, Boyd explores another aspect of identity, namely, how a person’s identity, (in this case, viz. a job) can become too important. JonJo Case considers himself a killer, not a man who kills as part of his job. Killing is something he has to do. These are just a few of the examples of identity found in Ordinary Thunderstorms. Several of the other characters present issues of identity in their own lives, through their behavior as well as in their interaction with others. I think it’s a fascinating topic and Boyd does a good job incorporating it into his novel.

Ordinary Thunderstorms is an intriguing and entertaining story. It's very well written, the narrative moves along at a good pace and it includes a captivating cast of characters. I recommend it but be aware that you will have to suspend belief in certain instances. This isn't a thriller or a mystery, it's a book about questions of identity and Adam's story is the riveting framework in which Boyd chose to present his ideas. William Boyd is a prolific author who has written several highly-recommended novels as well as short stories and some non-fiction. For more about him see his page at Bloomsbury Publishing.

I want to thank TLC Book Tours for providing me the opportunity to read and review Ordinary Thunderstorms.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Teaser Tuesday ~ A Jane Austen Education

Teaser Tuesdays is an interesting and fun book-related meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Be prepared to add several new books to your TBR list! I do every week!

My Teaser:

" There was one more thing about my life that had to change, now that I'd read Emma: my relationships with the people around me. Once I started to see myself for the first time, I started seeing them for the first time, too. I began to notice and care about what they might be experiencing, and they began to develop the depth and richness of literary characters. "

from A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz (p.36-7)

Anyone can play along! If you'd like to participate, Just do the following:
*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. (I used 3 this week!)
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
*Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

*And, finally, don't forget to link your post to MizB's at Should Be Reading. If you don't have a blog, simply share your "teasers" in a comment.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Galore by Michael Crummey

Title: Galore
Author: Michael Crummey
Date Published: March 29, 2011
Publisher: Other Press

ISBN: 978-0-1590514344
Pages: 352
Genre: Historical Fiction; Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 3.0 out of 5

Book Summary: When a whale beaches itself on the shore of the remote coastal town of Paradise Deep, the last thing any of the townspeople expect to find inside it is a man, silent and reeking of fish, but remarkably alive. The discovery of this mysterious person, soon christened Judah, sets the town scrambling for answers as its most prominent citizens weigh in on whether he is man or beast, blessing or curse, miracle or demon. Though Judah is a shocking addition, the town of Paradise Deep is already full of unusual characters. King-me Sellers, self-appointed patriarch, has it in for an inscrutable woman known only as Devine’s Widow, with whom he has a decades-old feud. Her granddaughter, Mary Tryphena, is just a child when Judah washes ashore, but finds herself tied to him all her life in ways she never expects. Galore is the story of the saga that develops between these families, full of bitterness and love, spanning two centuries.
With Paradise Deep, award-winning novelist Michael Crummey imagines a realm where the line between the everyday and the otherworldly is impossible to discern. Sprawling and intimate, stark and fantastical, Galore is a novel about the power of stories to shape and sustain us.

My Thoughts: I read Galore by Michael Crummey as part of a Blogger Book Club being hosted tomorrow by Jen at Devourer of Books. I was excited about Galore because summaries described a creative, unique book about interesting, odd characters on a remote island of Newfoundland. My expectations were met, at first, but before I reached the halfway mark my interest waned. Galore isn’t a narrative with a typical storyline, ie; plot, crisis, resolution. It’s a series of stories about the people who inhabit the remote island of Paradise Deep. And that's all it is, a series of stories.

Mr. Crummey combines real life with fable and fantasy using quirky people in a harsh, wild setting to grab your attention. Stories are told about a family, friends and neighbors, or people who just plain don't like each other, all by a third-party omniscient narrator. Unfortunately we never get to really know any one character enough to identify, understand, relate to or care for them. One reason is because arcs of various island inhabitants are suddenly dropped and forgotten for hundreds of pages. Another reason is we're told about various characters' behavior without insight into their thoughts, feelings or motivations.

A perfect example of this is Judah, who I thought was going to be one of the "main" and most interesting characters in the book. Judah is cut out of a whale beached on the shore of Paradise Deep in the first few pages. He's a mute albino to whom some of the islanders attribute a wealth of fish at a time when they had been scarce. As such they call him the Great White. Some islanders are repulsed by him because of his strange appearance and the terrible smell that's always with him. On at least two occasions Judah is blamed for crimes he didn't commit simply because the Sellers men, the wealthiest family on Paradise Deep, don't like Judah. I thought Judah might be a symbol for truth but as the novel progresses too few stories are told about him for me to have formed any solid opinions. Then, seemingly out of nowhere comes the day he makes a huge sacrifices is locked up alone for life. Again, we are not privy to why he does what he does or what he's thinking or feeling. In fact, the last quarter of the book barely mentions Judah at all.

Mary Tryphena Devine is one of the characters we are told the most about. When Galore begins Mary is nine-years old. Many of the stories include actions taken by Mary Tryphena or she's present at events that happen on the island, but, again we're given little insight into her character. We learn that she's a believer in many of the fables and folklore that people bring to the island and that have been passed down through her family. This is a very interesting aspect to her. But Mr. Crummey doesn't complete this character : we never learn how she feels about things, why certain things bother her why others don't, for example her marriage is never explored from her point of view which left me extremely frustrated.

Mr. Crummey is a talented writer of elegant, lyrical prose which makes it more frustrating that this book is so unsatisfactory. It's a tease to read about such offbeat characters we never really get to know or stories that hint at these characters' fascinating lives that fall flat or end up going nowhere. When Galore opened with a mute albino being cut from the gut of a beached whale I thought, "This is going to be a fascinating character" but he isn't because he can't speak. And for some reason, Mr. Crummey chooses not to let us in on his thoughts or how he wound up in the whale in the first place! The fact he can write isn't revealed until about three-quarters of the way in, and even then, we never find out his back story! I enjoy interesting, well-developed characters whose thoughts, feelings and beliefs I can discern and comprehend because that makes them seem real. I don't have to like them. In fact, some of the most fascinating characters I've read about I didn't like at all! There are nice characters and cruel characters in Galore but we aren't provided any understanding of or insight into them. As a result, Galore becomes boring and tedious after a while, and ultimately, frustrating and unsatisfactory. Maybe it would have worked better as a collection of short stories?

Tomorrow, Tuesday April 26th, the blogger Book Club is going to discuss Galore and I will be updating this review with the thoughts and comments of the other bloggers who read the book.

Monday Movies ~ Fuzzy Faces!

Feature Presentation...

It's that time of year when visions of the big & beautiful Stanley Cup dance in the heads of many men as well as many fans. I'm talking about the NHL Hockey Playoffs. The New York Rangers lost this weekend, I'm sad to report but the Boston Bruins are alive & well, battling it out against the Montreal Canadians. One of the major traditions of playoff hockey is players grow 'playoff beards' for good luck. Some of them, the Bumbles point out, such as Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, rock a porno 'stache instead. Apparently, Andy has grown facial hair in the past to support his team of which Molly isn't a fan! She does have some favorite movie characters who rocked their facial hair. That's what this week's theme is all about! I've compiled a list of movies in which at least one of the characters sports "interesting" facial hair. Share on your blog characters in film with memorable beards and or mustaches, linking your post back to The Bumbles Blog. If you don't have a blog, list your choices in the comment section of The Bumbles Movie post!

Denis Lemieux ~ Slap Shot (1977)
(Great 1 minute YouTube video!)

Sgt. Michael "Mike" Vronsky - The Deer Hunter (1978)

Rufus T. Firefly ~ Duck Soup (1933)

Dr. Richard Kimble ~
The Fugitive (1993)

Bandit ~ Smoky and The Bandit (1977)

Ben Sobel ~ Analyze That (2002)

Dr. Leo Marvin ~ What About Bob? (1991)

Bruce Willis ~ What Just Happened? (2008)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Husband and Wife by Leah Stewart

Title: Husband and Wife
Author: Leah Stewart
Date Published: April 19, 2011
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks
ISBN: 978-0-06-177447-8
Pages: 352
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.0 out of 5

Book Summary: Sarah Price has never regretted trading her MFA for a steady job so that her husband, Nathan, could write fiction. But at age thirty-five her world is turned upside down by a shocking revelation: Nathan's upcoming novel, Infidelity, is based in fact. Reeling from his betrayal, Sarah is plagued by dark questions. How well does she really know her husband? More important, how well does she know herself?

For answers, Sarah looks back to her artistic twenty-something self to try to understand what happened to her dreams. And so begins her quest to discover which version of herself is the essential one—the artist, wife, mother or someone else entirely—an eye-opening journey that leads Sarah hundreds of miles away from her marriage and back to herself.

My Thoughts: I expected this book to be a light, entertaining reading experience. Late at night, when I'm getting ready to sleep, I like to read an interesting but rather insubstantial book that won't leave me feeling like I have to reread, in the morning, the pages I read as I was falling asleep. I've read similar books on the beach or sitting by the pool. I quickly discovered Husband and Wife is not one of those light reads.

Leah Stewart has written a rich, compelling, emotionally-wrought novel detailing one woman's journey after her husband confesses to cheating. Ms. Stewart takes a risk focusing her story on only one character, the wife, Sarah Price, and the impact of her husband Nathan's devastating news. The other characters in the book appear intermittently and are limited to distant secondary roles. However, we do get to know Nathan more than the others, but again, it is filtered through Sarah.

Sarah is an intelligent, interesting woman with a great sense of humor. She's the kind of woman many of us would like to have as a friend. In this case, however, we'd have to imagine our friend if her husband admitted to cheating on her, since Sarah is irascible and crabby throughout. But, periodically, we are treated to glimpses of the happier, more care-free woman Sarah used to be, making her current situation resonate all the more. Ms. Stewart has successfully created an authentic woman in Sarah's character, someone with whom many of us can identify. Sarah is a typical middle class American woman: a working mother of two with a mortgage and credit card debt. She cannot imagine her life without Nathan yet she's not sure she wants him around anymore, so it makes sense that she feels like her life is falling apart. Sarah becomes known to us, then, not just through actions, but also through introspection like this. Often this kind of writing, where almost all the time is spent with one character, either following her activities or in her head, gets dry and monotonous. Not in Husband and Wife. Ms. Stewart keeps Sarah's thoughts sharp, agile, and unpredictable at times, keeping us turning the pages.

Sarah's instinct, after processing, and then absorbing, Nathan's bombshell, is to work things out and remain an intact family. I was slightly surprised by this reaction. Like Sarah, I didn't realize that emotionally she was still struggling to cope with Nathan's words. In less than 36 hours, once her emotions kick in, Sarah can't stand to look at Nathan and wants him out of the house. Sarah is all too human and, at this point, her next step is anyone's guess. She's struggling with feelings of confusion, doubt and intense hurt. She also has responsibilities and children to care for which is difficult when all Sarah wants, understandably is to wallow in self-pity, yell and run far away.

I'm not going to say much more about Husband and Wife because I don't want to give away the story which is worth experiencing for yourself. I will tell you that Sarah takes the opportunity provided by Nathan's infidelity to determine who she is and what she wants out of life. You might not like that she uses his behavior as an excuse to act selfishly but she's not the first woman to make questionable decisions when hurt emotionally. The choices she makes and the journey she follows, literally and figuratively, may make you want to shake Sarah and ask her: "what are you dong?!", but that is only because we care about Sarah. Ms. Stewart has successfully developed Sarah to be a woman whose life we feel emotionally invested in and for whom we want a good outcome. We may not agree with or like all of Sarah's choices but we can say the same about our friends and even ourselves. As such, we can't help but want to tag along with Sarah and root for her to come out of it all a better person.

To be able to write what is essentially a one character novel whose success or failure is going to be based on Sarah's development and no one else's, the story line being a secondary concern, is big gamble. And I'm happy to report that Ms. Stewart's effort works and Husband and Wife is a more than satisfactory story. This is a powerful read that lets you feel like you've been through something real. I highly recommend this book. Husband and Wife would make a terrific choice for book clubs, too.

I want to say thank you to TLC Book Tours for giving me a copy of this book and the opportunity to read and review Husband and Wife.

For more on Husband and Wife, see Leah Stewart's

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Far To Go by Alison Pick

Title: Far To Go
Author: Alison Pick
Date Published: May 2011
ISBN: 978-0-06-203462-5
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Pages: 368
Genre: Historical Fiction; Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Publisher’s Book Summary: When Czechoslovakia relinquishes the Sudetenland to Hitler, the powerful influence of Nazi propaganda sweeps through towns and villages like a sinister vanguard of the Reich's advancing army. A fiercely patriotic secular Jew, Pavel Bauer is helpless to prevent his world from unraveling as first his government, then his business partners, then his neighbors turn their back on his affluent, once-beloved family. Only the Bauers' adoring governess, Marta, sticks by Pavel, his wife, Anneliese, and their little son, Pepik, bound by her deep affection for her employers and friends. But when Marta learns of their impending betrayal at the hands of her lover, Ernst, Pavel's best friend, she is paralyzed by her own fear of discovery—even as the endangered family for whom she cares so deeply struggles with the most difficult decision of their lives.

Interwoven with a present-day narrative that gradually reveals the fate of the Bauer family during and after the war, Far to Go is a riveting family epic, love story, and psychological drama.

My Thoughts: World War II, Hitler's Reign of Terror and the Nazi's attack on Jewish people has become a very popular topic with authors. Often the stories are sagas, spanning numerous years, a multitude of characters, issues and topics, their impact felt far and wide. Alison Pick, however, chose to write a small, intimate and personal story about one family living in Czechoslovakia, relating their experience amid Hitler's violent campaign in the late 1930s into the early ‘40s. The story is fiction but I wondered, while reading it, if there were any threads of truth. This possibility occurred to me when I opened the book one day and my eyes fell on a page before the story begins. The author has listed the names of people I believe to be her family members along with the years of their births and deaths. Some have the last name "Pick", some "Bauer", the name of the family in the story. All of the older people listed died in 1942 or 1943 which sent a shiver down my spine. I was very touched by this list as it made the story seem so much more real.

Far To Go is an engagingly written, captivating and poignant story. Incidentally, Ms. Pick is also a poet. As such, her writing is simple, elegant and magnetic. She draws you in with beautiful phrasing and her writing is rhythmic. I found it difficult to put the book down but at times, had trouble continuing because of the distressful, foreboding nature of the story.

The Bauer family, Pavel, Anneliese and their 5-year old son, Pepik as well as his nanny, Marta, are close, happy and loving when the book begins. But as the threat of Hitler and the Nazi's taking control of Czechoslovakia grows, fear and worry cause tension and bickering between Pavel and Anneliese. He’s adamant about remaining in Czechoslovakia, their home country, but she wants to flee. It's not long before Pepik no longer sings or laughs.

Dialogue is a substantial part of the story and the character’s conversations are realistic. Ms. Pick is adept at conveying each character's emotion through their words as they discuss the fate of Czechoslovakia and their own personal future. She also manages to communicate a lot of important information in the dialogue, but it never feels forced or artificial. This is just one aspect of Ms. Pick's gift for writing.

The majority of Far To Go is told from a third person (omniscient) point of view. If any character can be said to dominate the narrative, however, it's Marta, Pepik's nanny and the Bauer's maid. Only 22, she often seems much older, although she is naive and lives in denial of the Nazi‘s taking control. She's been with the Bauers for many years and loves them, though her actions, occasionally, belie this truth. Marta didn't have an easy childhood and it becomes apparent, early in the story, that she’s often insecure and unsure of herself. She's desperate to know that she’s loved by someone, anyone, but especially a man. Marta will do almost anything to make this a reality. She's immature and ignores things that upset her, pretending they never happened. We are privy to the many conversations and arguments Marta has with herself, enlightening us about her thoughts and motivations. Ms. Pick has created an amazingly complex and relatable character here, and I found myself sympathizing with her one second while wanting to shake her the next!

There is a lot of sadness in this novel but I don’t think anything is more heart-breaking than Pepik’s story. Though a secondary character, he is of great importance. Only five and six years old for much of the story, he is a happy, spoiled little boy doted on by three very loving adults. Pavel and Anneliese make the ultimate sacrifice for Pepik Ms. Pick successfully portrays the extreme difficulty of the decision his parents have in saving Pepik because it involves sending him away on his own. It’s a rare person who won’t shed tears at the vivid and memorable scene in the train station when Pavel questions his decision. Pepik is a realistic, three-dimensional child and his behavior seems like that of many children his age. He doesn’t understand what’s happening and displays the resiliency children are known for, making the best of his situation, hoping and expecting that soon things will change.

The book is divided into five sections, marking the significant aspects of the story as it progresses. Each section begins with a brief chapter from an unknown, at the time, first person narrator who, unlike the rest of the characters, lives in the present. This narrator is also related, in some way, to the Bauer family. This unknown person has done a lot of research on Czechoslavakia, Prague and Hitler. He/she is also sad, lonely and seems to be searching for someone or something. I found this part of the book awkward and a little bit confusing because it clashes with the narrative style and viewpoint of the majority of the chapters. Although I understood who the narrator was by the end, I would have liked this part of the story to be told in a last separate section, since a series of questions are raised by the small chapters, just as others are answered.

Apart from this inconsistency, the author manages to take a subject that lends itself to being told in bold strokes and over large swaths of time, the equivalent of a Hollywood blockbuster, and writes a poignant, intimate family story. Ms. Pick doesn’t ignore the horrors of the Nazis as it’s always there in the background. But the focus is on the Bauer family and the people close to them whom, though not related, are still part of the dynamic and whose actions have far reaching impact for the family. Character development and plot are what drives this very well written, tightly packaged story that, if you can get past the occasionally jarring change of pace as discussed above, then you will be doing yourself a favor. It’s very much worth letting yourself get lost in this riveting drama about people of a universal nature in a time and place that is nearly impossible to imagine living through.

I received a copy of Far To Go from the publisher through TLC Book Tours

For more about Far To Go and Alison Pick see her website.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Raising by Laura Kasischke

Title: The Raising
Author: Laura Kasischke
ISBN: 978-0062004789
Pages: 496
Release Date: March 2011
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Genre: Literary Fiction; Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Publisher summary: Last year Godwin Honors Hall was draped in black. The university was mourning the loss of one of its own: Nicole Werner, a blond, beautiful, straight-A sorority sister tragically killed in a car accident that left her boyfriend, who was driving, remarkably—some say suspiciously—unscathed.

Although a year has passed, as winter begins and the nights darken, obsession with Nicole and her death reignites: She was so pretty. So sweet-tempered. So innocent. Too young to die.

Unless she didn’t.

Because rumor has it that she’s back

My Thoughts: I was looking forward to this book and had high expectations for a really well-written and riveting story. Laura Kasischke's prose is elegant, her writing subtle and clear. Her images come alive so vividly, I was able to see the people and places she described in my mind. It's not surprising that she's a published poet. Ms. Kasischke's writing style is one of the few reasons I read this book to the end. I hoped the story would finally gel and become clear, and the many gaps and questions in the narrative be answered. Alas, that never happened.

There are many elements of this book that attracted me and promised an exciting read such as: it’s set on a college campus; it’s partly a mystery with Gothic overtones; one of the main characters is a professor who specializes on death, dying and how different cultures treat the dead; and finally, a sorority and the hazing rituals many sororities practice, which have caused much controversy over the years.

There are many varied themes and issues in this book and a host of characters, several with side stories unrelated to any other thread in the book. As a result, the main theme often fades out for a while and gets lost in the shuffle while other themes and threads rear their heads. The Raising includes, to name a few: a ghost story, a mystery with gothic elements, a missing persons case, a murder mystery, a conspiracy thriller, a study on the dead and rituals related to death, fraud, and comments on sororities and hazing rituals. In other words, it’s too much for one book. Some of the threads or themes lack a beginning, middle or end while many have gaping holes. Perhaps if the themes and threads were more fully developed instead of left incomplete, The Raising could have worked well.

Professor Mira Polson is one of the many main characters in The Raising. She’s a cultural anthropologist who has focused her studies on death and dying and the ways different cultures treat human remains. The chapters about her class and the issue of death are very interesting, but scarce. Mira is married with twin toddlers and her marriage is in crisis. As she struggles to deal with it, she becomes interested in Nicole’s case. She plans to write about Nicole’s death and the deaths of students on college campuses. But she’s in despair about her marriage, confused and very sad, torn between her job and being a wife and mother. Mira’s story would fill a book by itself. Instead, we get disjointed chapters, some about her home situation, some about her classes, others about the situation with Nicole, all separated by many other chapters about other characters and themes. By the time I reached the last third of the book, I was confused and rather bored. I confess that I skipped several pages to get to the end and returned to read them later.

I hoped things would be straightened out and many of the gaps filled in by the end, but I was surprised and disappointed. An unexpected event occurs towards the end that brings the investigation about Nicole to a close. I was flabbergasted by this event and thought it unnecessary. I was also surprised by how it was handled. Like many other issues in The Raising, the result of this event was implausible. It’s difficult to write about this book without giving away the story so I will simply say that I found quite a bit of what occurred in this novel hard to swallow. Too many people with prestigious and important jobs in too many areas of the work force would have to be bribed or somehow “in on it” to make what happens in this book a reality. I was also shocked by how cruel and unkind many of the characters are towards each other as well as their general disregard for life and fellow man. Sadly, that’s one aspect of this book that isn’t implausible.

I’m not finished reading Laura Kasischke. I’ve read too many good things about her books and I like her writing style. But I can’t recommend this book

Additional reviews of The Raising: Book Addiction: Reading Extravaganza; A Bookworm’s World

Teaser Tuesday ~ Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd

Teaser Tuesdays is an interesting and fun book-related meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. Be prepared to add several new books to your TBR list! I do every week!

My Teaser:
" All that was history, now. Adam Kindred, cloud-seeder, hail-suppressor, rain-maker was as real and tangible as a strip-cartoon super hero. He crouched on his haunches and concentrated on the here-and-now, spooning warm baked beans into his mouth and trying not to think about the life he had once led. "

from Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd

Anyone can play along! If you'd like to participate, Just do the following:
*Grab your current read
*Open to a random page
*Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. (I used 3 this week!)
*BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
*Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

*And, finally, don't forget to link your post to the Should Be Reading blog. If you don't have a blog, simply share your "teasers" in a comment.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Monday Movies ~ Run Like the Wind!

Feature Presentation...

The Boston Marathon, the oldest annually contested marathon in the world, the Bumbles inform us, is happening for the 115th time today, Monday April 18th! Although Molly and Andy have run in their share of races, neither has ever run the marathon or plans to run it. But they wish all the best to the people they know who are running in the Boston Marathon this year. I do, too: Good luck to the runners! Many movies feature runners, running scenes and races. Share on your blog films that make your feet tired just watching, linking your post back to The Bumbles Blog. If you don't have a blog, list your choices in the comment section of The Bumbles Movie post!

Marathon Man (1976)

Gallipoli (1981)

Run Lola Run (1998)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Salon ~ A Sunny Sunday!

I'm on my way outside to sit in the sun and read. I've got the Sunday Times and Daughter of Fortune. I'd be nuts not to take advantage of the sun after the pouring rain we had yesterday, a lot of it at night but still very wet. Those storms ushered in a beautiful day today and I'm planning to take advantage of that! I wouldn't mind getting a little sun, either especially since I'm looking like Casper's sister right now. I wish being tan didn't look good on or make me look healthy but it does and I love it! Every year I try to talk myself out of sunning but those first warm days sitting outside, reading and soon enough, there I am with my face towards the sun, glasses off, tanning. Oh well!

Addie and JoJo, the poor things, have a stomach bug I think. They may have eaten something that didn't agree with them, too. They've both been getting sick for the last two days and eating very little. It's noticeable when JoJo doesn't eat especially because she's like a lot of dogs...if it's food and it's in front of her, or somewhere close by, she'll eat it. I've seen her practically take food out of Bob's mouth and he's more than twice her size! She adores food! And it shows, she's becoming a little roly-poly kitty with a big belly! I'm hoping none of the other cats get sick.

I have a lot of books to read. I got a little carried away with reviewing for TLC Books but they always have interesting books and a good variety. Today I'm reading Ordinary Thunderstorms by William Boyd and Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende. Tonight I'm hoping to finish, or come close to finishing Husband and Wife by Leah Stewart which is more interesting than I expected.

I hope you have a great Sunday and the sun is shining on you!

Happy Reading!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee

Title: Emily and Einstein
Author: Linda Francis Lee

Date Published: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0312382186

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Pages: 368

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Publisher’s Book Summary: He was a man who didn’t deserve a second chance. But he needed one…

Emily and her husband Sandy Portman seemed to live a gracious if busy life in an old-world, Upper West Side apartment in the famous Dakota building. But one night on the way to meet Emily, Sandy dies in a tragic accident. The funeral isn't even over before Emily learns she is on the verge of being evicted from their apartment. But worse than the possibility of losing her home, Emily is stunned when she discovers that her marriage was made up of lies.

Suddenly Emily is forced on a journey to find out who her husband really was . . . all the while feeling that somehow he isn't really gone. Angry, hurt, and sometimes betrayed by loving memories of the man she lost, Emily finds comfort in a scruffy dog named Einstein. But is Einstein's seemingly odd determination that she save herself enough to make Emily confront her own past? Can he help her find a future—even after she meets a new man?

My Thoughts: This was one of those instances where the cover of the book grabbed my attention. It consists of pink and yellow tulips surrounding a park bench on which, his head cocked at a charming, funny angle, sits a very adorable tan and white dog, the "Einstein" of the title. Emily is his new owner having rescued him from a shelter where he was about to be put to sleep. They are starting a new life together in this sweet and humorous novel by Linda Francis Lee.

Emily is an intelligent, energetic and very positive woman with a sunny disposition. She's been living an enchanting life for the last few years having met and married the love of her life, Sandy. Sandy came from a very wealthy family and was very charming. He swept Emily off her feet having decided moments after meeting her that he couldn't live without her. Emily tried hard to resist his charms, believing he was insincere and spoiled. Sandy eventually won her over.

In the first few chapters of the novel, Emily's life is in ruins and she's struggling to figure out how to cope without her husband, Sandy. Emily not only has to find a new place to live but she's discovered that Sandy may not have been the loyal, loving husband she thought he was. These revelations are over-whelming for Emily and it's a struggle for her to find anything to smile about. Fortunately, she isn't totally alone. She rescued Einstein, a small, scruffy dog about to be euthanized, from the animal shelter where she volunteers. Einstein is a grouchy, ill-behaved dog who seems very attached to Emily. Einstein is also very intelligent. At times he seems too intelligent for a dog but in her grief, Emily doesn't notice.

An attractive, well-dressed woman, Emily is riddled with self-doubt and insecurities. Many readers will sympathize with her as she struggles to figure out how to cope with all that's happened to her. Ms. Lee has created a realistic woman readers will root for as she comes to the realization she has to rely on her own family to help her get through a difficult time. Remarkably, it's Einstein who helps Emily understand this and reconcile her broken relationship with her sister.

Einstein is an amazing animal, a dog who seems so much more yet he walks on four paws and is covered with fur. The significance of Einstein is revealed early in thew novel. I don't want to give it away here but I will say readers will need to suspend belief if they're to accept the "reality" of Einstein. I didn't know this aspect of the story when I started reading Emily and Einstein and found it an intriguing, delightful surprise! Although Einstein's behavior is quite different from that of other dogs and he seems too familiar with Emily's life (Einstein knows the layout of her apartment in the New York landmark residence the Dakota, which may resonate with fans of John Lennon, Leonard Bernstein etc.) neither Emily nor anyone else questions this. One fault, perhaps, of the novel is that this lack of awareness continues despite obvious scenes of Einstein acting so out of character for a dog.

Regardless, themes of love, loss and loyalty are prevalent, making this novel about second chances and redemption. The author doesn't let the story doesn't get bogged down with intense, emotionally-laden passages, a trap she could have easily fell into. Rather, Ms. Lee's writing is enticing and captivating while moving the story along at a quick pace. If there's one more criticism, however, it's that in the end, things come together for Emily almost too neatly and too easily. I don't want to say it's a clichéd happy ending, but if you like things wrapped up nice and tidy, without giving too much away, I feel confident in saying you won't be disappointed.

Don't miss Linda Francis Lee's terrific website and blog.

I received a copy of Emily and Einstein from St. Martin's Press.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Short Story Review: The Springs of Affection by Maeve Brennan

I discovered The Springs of Affection: Stories of Dublin by Maeve Brennan at a used bookstore in downtown Brooklyn. I wasn't familiar with this Irish author who worked for The New Yorker for many years, but after looking through the book, I had to have it!

The Springs of Affection, the title of a long short story (47 pages). Min Bagot is 87 years old and the last surviving member of the Bagot family. Her twin brother, Martin, died recently and Min has just returned to her flat in Wexford. She had been living with Martin for six years, ever since the death of his wife, Delia. Min initially makes it sound as if she sacrificed a great deal to leave her home and move in with Martin to care for him. As the story progresses, Min admits that she voluntarily moved in with Martin and stayed against her brother's wishes!

Min reminisces about her Irish family, her mother, Bridget and father, whom she never names, her two sisters, Clare and Polly and Martin. Min sounds self-righteous, angry and jealous for most of the story. She is against marriage and believes the right thing is staying with one's immediate family. Min is the only sibling who didn't marry. She prides herself on being loyal to the family.

"And she thought it was fitting that she should be the one to remain alive, because out of them all she was the one who was always faithful to the family. She was the only one of the lot of them who hadn't gone off and got married. She had never wanted to assert herself like that, never needed to. She had wondered at their lack of shame as they exhibited themselves, Clare and Polly with their husbands, and Martin with poor Delia, the poor thing."

Min blames Martin, but even more, Martin's wife, Delia for destroying Martin's opportunities in life and their family.

"But all that hope ended and all their hard work was mocked when Delia Kelly walked into their lives. She smashed us up, Min thought, and got us all out into the open where blood didn't count anymore, and where blood wasn't thicker than water, and where the only mystery was, what did he see in her."

Min finds fault with and complains about almost everyone although she's very loyal and loving towards her mother, Bridget. In the midst of criticizing her father, we learn that Bridget was more than a strong independent woman. She was a bully.

"She didn't like it when her mother started fighting, and sometimes it seemed she was always fighting."

Min recounts a disturbing, unpleasant scene in which Bridget bullied her husband in front of their children to get him to stop wearing a hat she didn't like. Shortly after that Bridget bought a sewing machine and learned to sew.

"Min was the one who helped her mother, so Min was sentenced to a lifetime of sewing, when she had her heart set on going to a college and becoming a teacher."

Min's feelings towards her mother are obviously complex as is so often the case for many women. I imagine she feels abandoned by her siblings who left to live their lives never noticing that Min was stuck at home. Much of this story revolves around Martin's wedding day, probably one of the worst days of Min's life.

"She had known perfectly well that the day would be hateful, but she had not known that it would all be so unnatural, or that she herself would feel worn and dry and so unable to manage, because the only thing she wanted was to escape from it all, and she couldn't leave her mother's side."

I think Min blames Martin for many of the things she doesn't like in life and feels he abandoned her and let her down. She vacillates between being angry at him, feeling sorry for him and not caring about him at all.

"But Min could not really have been accused of holding a grudge against Martin. She could be angry with him, but she couldn't hate him or even dislike him" and "Martin behaved as though he had forgotten she was alive."

Min is an interesting, complex and intelligent woman who twists things around in her head until they suit her view of life and the world. She goes to some remarkable lengths to make things the way she wants them. Only at the end does it become clear how very sad and lonely Min is and how much she wishes for things to be the way they were long ago...or, really, the way she's convinced herself they once were.

There is so much more to this story but I don't want to give any more away. Maeve Brennan has created a very human, understandable character in Min. She's flawed but it's hard not to feel for her. I'm not sure I like Min Bagot, but she's certainly fascinating.

Ms. Brennan's writing is simple, straightforward and subtle. There's an elegance and depth to her writing and, although I haven't read all of the stories in The Springs of Affection, the few I've read are hard to forget.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Book Review: Mr. Chartwell by Rebecca Hunt

Title: Mr. Chartwell
Author: Rebecca Hunt

Date Published: February 8, 2011

ISBN: 978-1400069408

Publisher: The Dial Press

Pages: 256

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Rating: 4.0 out of 5

Publisher’s Book Summary: July 1964. Chartwell House, Kent: Winston Churchill wakes at dawn. There’s a dark, mute “presence” in the room that focuses on him with rapt concentration. It’s Mr. Chartwell. Soon after, in London, Esther Hammerhans, a librarian at the House of Commons, goes to answer the door to her new lodger. Through the glass she sees a vast silhouette the size of a mattress. It’s Mr. Chartwell. Charismatic, dangerously seductive, Mr. Chartwell unites the eminent statesman at the end of his career and the vulnerable young woman. But can they withstand Mr. Chartwell’s strange, powerful charms and his stranglehold on their lives? Can they even explain who or what he is and why he has come to visit?

In this utterly original, moving, funny, and exuberant novel, Rebecca Hunt explores how two unlikely lives collide as Mr. Chartwell’s motives are revealed to be far darker and deeper than they at first seem.

My Thoughts: I thought Mr. Chartwell would be an innovative and creative story when I first read it's summary. When I received an ARC of Rebecca Hunt’s debut and fully understood what the book is about, I’ll admit I was a little skeptical because the book requires the reader to accept something intangible as real. It’s documented that Winston Churchill suffered periods of depression throughout his life and he referred to this depression as “black dog”. Rebecca Hunt manifests depression in her novel as an actual Black Dog called, as the title suggests, Mr. Chartwell or, in full, Black Pat Chartwell. Chartwell was the name of Winston Churchill's home in Kent, England. My skepticism was unnecessary and a waste of time. Rebecca Hunt's debut is a captivating and exceptional story that portrays depression as a living, breathing entity both despicable and amusing. The story is brought to life through quirky characters, witty, engrossing dialogue and an ingenious story-line. It’s deceptively simple and fun but by the time you finish reading it, you’ll realize Mr. Chartwell is a rich, engrossing book about an important issue and it will stick with you for a long time.

The star of the novel, for me, is Black Pat, an extremely large, somewhat revolting, black dog. He is egocentric, witty and intelligent. He also has a cruel, nasty side that he's adept at concealing when it suits him. Ms. Hunt does an amazing of job of making Black Pat a combination of dog and man and I found the passages describing his daily activities such as eating, sleeping and bathing interesting, laugh out loud funny, as well as gross! Much of the novel's comic aspects come from Black Pat. The dark, sinister aspect of his personality is more subtle and it wasn't until I'd read a substantial portion of the book that I recognized it. In the chapters where Black Pat visits with Winston Churchill, he is implacable, harsh and reprehensible, yet we sense a mutual respect. Ms. Hunt successfully conveys the unrelenting nature of depression by describing the things Black Pat does when he‘s with Winston Churchill. He chews on rocks and lies across Churchill. When I stopped and thought about what Black Pat was doing to Churchill I shuddered to think how demoralizing it must be living with him for a lifetime.

Ms. Hunt provides an interesting contrast in Black Pat's behavior with Esther Hammerhans, a young woman who permits Black Pat to stay with her almost against her will. He is witty, teasing and entertaining in Esther's presence. Black Pat's idea of flirting is engaging but also wearying and very effective. Esther is sad, confused and uncertain about her life. She's haunted by a recent tragedy, unsure of how to come to terms with it and move on with her life. Black Pat seems to know more about Esther than he admits. He uses her debilitated state to his advantage and exhausts Esther with his behavior and chatter. As the story progresses, Black Pat's attraction to Esther becomes clear at which point his previously engaging behavior appears loathsome and unkind. When Black Pat thinks Esther's figured him out an unexpected desperation and sadness similar to Esther's overcomes him. Esther finds it difficult to reject Black Pat. He offers her a connection to her past that nobody else can but if she accepts him she stands to lose everything.

I thought this book was a quick, amusing read but almost too entertaining and light, particularly the first half of the book. The dialogue is often too cute with much bantering between characters. Black Pat enjoys creating nonsensical rhymes and makes references to the "game" he's playing. In several chapters, Churchill and his wife call each other Mr. Pug and Mrs. Pussycat. Additionally, several of the secondary characters are too eccentric. Esther's friend from work is a socially inept man, Corkbowl, who tends to make others awkward and uncomfortable when he speaks and her friend Beth is extremely blunt, pushy and has no concept of personal space. Beth, despite being Esther's close friend, doesn't have a clue about her despair and inner turmoil.

The dark side of Black Pat's behavior initially only shows up in the chapters with Churchill, of which there are few and most short. The majority of the book focuses on Esther's relationship with Black Pat and with her friends, most of which is animated and lively. I didn't feel the morbidity of Black Pat until I sat and thought about what he was doing to Churchill and later on in the book, to Esther. Ms. Hunt's novel doesn't lend itself to much introspection because it is so amusing.

I would have liked some more chapters about Churchill and Black Pat's relationship. Black Pat has been a part of Churchill's life for a long time and now that Churchill’s 87 years old, there's a long history between them. I also hoped for more about Esther's life, especially her past. I don't want to give away important parts of the book so I'll just say that when Esther finally has an epiphany about Black Pat, I thought she would look back on her life over the last several years. Unfortunately, the author leaves this thread dangling rather than take what seems a good opportunity to tie the individual stories together.

Overall, I thought Mr. Chartwell was enjoyable with an exceptional and creative story. Ms. Hunt's prose is wonderful and she has a talent for writing innovative metaphors that, aside from a few awkward sentences, provided great descriptions and explanations throughout. I think Ms. Hunt took a risk writing about depression in this way, but she succeeded. Readers familiar with depression will likely find Mr. Chartwell a more substantial read than those who have no experience. This is a book that I would recommend to many different people and I think it's great for book clubs as it offers several areas for discussion. I just can't imagine that there wouldn't be as many varied opinions about Mr. Chartwell as there are people who read it. I’m looking forward to other books by Rebecca Hunt and hope she writes one soon!

Other reviews of Mr. Chartwell: Farm Lane Books Blog, She Reads Novels, Savidge Reads

I received an ARC of Mr. Chartwell from the publisher.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday Movies ~ Flower Power!

Feature Presentation...


April showers bring May least that's the way it used to be. But in the last few years we are likely to have snow one day and 80 degree temps the next as early March 1st. Confused, the flowers start blooming and buds appear on trees in March! I've seen beautiful Tulips and Daffodils in full bloom already! Flowers and plants are popular in the movies. They might be the names of characters or actual characters. They might be seen in aesthetically beautiful backdrops or be the theme of the movie. Share on your blog films that feature any variety of flower or plant in some capacity, linking your post back to The Bumbles Blog. If you don't have a blog, list your choices in the comment section of The Bumbles Movie post!

Greenfingers (2000)

Saving Grace (2000)

Adaptation (2002)

Bed of Roses (1996)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday Salon ~ Readathon Aftermath!

It's the day after Dewey's Read-a-Thon. I had a great time participating. I finished two books, Faith by Jennifer Haigh and Fury by Salman Rushdie and made sizeable dents in Galore by Michael Crummey and Far To Go by Alison Pick. I also read 75 pages of Night Road by Kristin Hannah.

I fell asleep about 11:30/12:00 midnight despite also napping accidentally in the late afternoon! So disappointing! I didn't wake until late this morning so there are no Readathon updates after 7 p.m. on my blog. My allergies started kicking in a few days ago so I've been extra tired, but I realized yesterday that I don't have the energy and stamina to read for 24-hours even with breaks. I accomplished the most reading in the morning when I was able to read for several hours after a good night's sleep and my favorite morning friend, coffee!!

I really enjoyed visiting other Readathon participants blogs, reading their updates and cheering them on. Next year I'm going to be a cheerleader and offer to host part of the Readathon. The cats will be the most disappointed since several of them sat on my while I was reading. I had to shoo Lola off my lap because after I replaced a bookmark that has a dangling charm she kept swatting at and playing with she started chewing the corner of the book I was reading! Lola's a little thing and she has the most energy and playfulness I've ever seen in cat!

Thank you to everyone who stopped by to cheer my reading and wish me well! I really appreciated your comments.

Enjoy your Sunday!

I've been having a lot of problems with spacing in my posts especially when I add an image to my post. Does anybody know how I can fix this?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Read-a-Thon Update ~ Hour Twelve!

My updates are kind of sporadic. I haven't been back in several hours because while reading I fell asleep (oops!), but I had a great nap! It's weird because I'm not one to nap but, of course, on a day when I don't want to nap I fall asleep. Oh well, what can ya do?! Maybe it'll make it easier for me to stay up late reading! My neighbor also dropped by for a while which was nice but ate into my reading time, as well. My fingers are crossed hoping Blogger doesn't mess up my post and squash all my sentences together! Hour: 12, halfway there! Time: 7:20 pm EST Reading: Far To Go by Alison Pick Other books read: I finished Faith by Jennifer Haigh (I was 22 pages in when the Readathon started, I read 150 pages in Galore by Michael Crummey and the same in Fury by Salman Rushdie. Total # of pages read so far: 715 Time spent reading: 7 hours, 10 minutes Time spent doing other things: I spent about 60 minutes napping, fed some of the cats visited with my friend for about 45 minutes! Snacks: Grapes, chocolate chip cookies & tea Good Luck to Read-a-Thon-ers!!