Monday, June 30, 2008 by Kimmie
I enjoyed this challenge and I'll be joining BACII. I'll be better organized this year.
Monday, June 30, 2008 by Kimmie
Sunday, June 29, 2008 by tanabata
Boasting a notorious brigand as an ancestor, the Scorta family is born into extreme poverty in the small Italian village of Montepuccio. Each successive generation must confront their heritage and attempt to wrest a living out of the sun-scorched fields of Apulia, while passing on their pride, their cherished memories, and their passionate appetite for life. Spanning five generations of Scortas, the family’s deepest secrets and fiercest passions are at last revealed by Carmela as she makes her final confession to the village priest.I really felt I was armchair travelling while reading this book, as it transported me to the hot, sun-scorched landscape of the Apulia region of southern Italy. The story covers several generations of the Scorta family from a rather illustrious beginning. Sometimes the author gives detailed descriptions that really bring the people and events to life, other times the story skips ahead several years down the road. In this way it was like snapshots of their lives laid out to tell their story. Despite the secrets, passions, and regrets of each successive generation, what comes through is their strong attachment to the land and the importance of family. Like the previous book I read, it was the vividly portrayed setting that really made this an enjoyable read. (4/5)
A profoundly human work set in the glorious landscape of southern Italy, Laurent Gaudé’s sweeping, cinematic tale of family life won the Prix Goncourt in 2004.
Olives are eternal. A single olive doesn’t last. It grows ripe and rots. But olives succeed one another, in an infinite, repetitive way. They’re all different, but the long chain of them is endless. They have the same shape, the same colour, they have been ripened by the same sun and have the same taste. So yes, olives are eternal. Like men. The same infinite succession of life and death.Cross-posted on my blog.
Saturday, June 28, 2008 by Athena
Friday, June 27, 2008 by tanabata
1867, Canada.The quote on the back of my copy that calls it ‘a fascinating, suspense-filled adventure’ pretty much describes my thoughts on it as well. The historical aspects of the fur trade and pioneer life in northern Canada were very interesting. It wasn’t necessarily fast-paced and full of action but the murder mystery and the search for the perpetrator added suspense. And the fact that the search led them through such harsh terrain was certainly an adventure. A nicely told story with a large, varied cast of characters, it was actually the bitterly cold, snowy landscape, so vividly portrayed, that became the strongest element of the story for me. At it’s core, a mystery, but more than that too. All in all, a very enjoyable read. (4/5)
As winter tightens its grip on the isolated settlement of Dove River, a woman steels herself for the journey of a lifetime. A man has been brutally murdered and her seventeen-year-old son has disappeared. The violence has re-opened old wounds and inflamed deep-running tensions in the frontier township – some want to solve the crime; others seek only to exploit it.
To clear her son’s name, she has no choice but to follow the tracks leaving the dead man’s cabin and head north into the forest and the desolate landscape that lies beyond it…
Thursday, June 26, 2008 by Kimmie
Welcome to the story of Despereaux Tilling, a mouse who is in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea. It is also the story of a rat called Roscuro, who lives in the darkness and covets a world filled with light. And it is the story of Miggery Sow, a slow-witted serving girl who harbors a simple, impossible wish. These three characters are about to embark on a journey that will lead them down into a horrible dungeon, up into a glittering castle, and, ultimately, into each other’s lives. And what happens then? As Kate DiCamillo would say: Reader, it is your destiny to find out.What a cute story! Little Despereaux, different from the other mice for his love of reading and music, is a very brave little mouse on a very dangerous quest. It is perhaps at its heart a simple story of hope and forgiveness, but it’s so nicely told. Because of the narrative style, in which the author often addresses the reader directly, this would be a great book to read aloud. And the book itself was a joy to hold. I personally love those rough-cut edges and the illustrations were wonderful, really adding to the story. A story to make you smile. Recommended for kids and kids-at-heart. (3.5/5)
Despereaux waited until she was gone, and then he reached out and, with one paw, touched the lovely words. Once upon a time.Cross-posted on my blog.
Kafka on the Shore follows the fortunes of two remarkable characters. Kafka Tamura runs away from home at fifteen, under the shadow of his father’s dark prophecy. The ageing Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his simple life suddenly turned upside down. Their parallel odysseys are enriched throughout by vivid accomplices and mesmerising dramas. Cats converse with people; fish tumble from the sky; a forest harbours soldiers apparently un-aged since WWII. There is a savage killing, but the identity of both victim and killer is a riddle.I can’t begin to fully understand what it all means but it was a very fun ride all the same. I was immediately drawn in and as the strands slowly started to come together I had to keep reading to find out what would happen next. And what happened next was never predictable, as I’ve come to expect from Murakami. This book had some other standard Murakami fare: cats, the importance of shadows, quirky characters, and a blurring between reality and fantasy, which seems to reflect Murakami’s thoughts on writing:
At once a classic tale of quest, Kafka on the Shore is also a bold exploration of mythic and contemporary taboos, of patricide, of mother-love, of sister-love. Above all it is a bewitching and wildly inventive novel from a master stylist.
“For me, writing a novel is like having a dream. Writing a novel lets me intentionally dream while I’m still awake. I can continue yesterday’s dream today, something you can’t normally do in everyday life. It’s also a way of descending deep into my own consciousness. So while I see it as dreamlike, it’s not fantasy. For me the dreamlike is very real.”His simple prose makes it highly readable and even though some things are never fully explained and remain unclear at the end of the novel, it’s an enjoyable, compelling read. One that certainly deserves a second reading someday. (4.5/5)
"Kafka on the Shore contains several riddles, but there aren't any solutions provided. Instead, several of these riddles combine, and through their interaction the possibility of a solution takes shape. And the form this solution takes will be different for each reader. To put it another way, the riddles function as part of the solution. It's hard to explain, but that's the kind of novel I set out to write."Excerpts from the book, an interview with Murakami about Kafka on the Shore and information on his other works can be found here.
It’s been quite a few days since I finished reading this and I’m still not entirely sure what my final thoughts on it are. Some parts felt unnecessary, others not fleshed out enough. Daisy was a strong character though, and even when her teen-speak and attitude annoyed me slightly, it always felt authentic (I can only assume, not being around any English-speaking teenagers these days). But somehow the war, which affects all their lives so profoundly, didn’t seem realistic, perhaps because the details were so vague or only alluded to. I suppose it really was mainly Daisy’s story of growing up during a difficult time. I did enjoy the book while I was reading it, especially the part with Daisy and Piper, but overall I don’t think it’ll stay with me. Still it was worth reading and I’d certainly try something else by Meg Rosoff sometime. (3/5)
“Every war has turning points and every person too.”
Fifteen–year–old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy.
As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way.
Two little girls banished from a neighbourhood birthday party take a wrong turn down an unfamiliar Baltimore street – and encounter an abandoned stroller with an infant inside. What happens next is shocking and terrible, and three families are irreparably destroyed.Another book that started out well but lost momentum along the way, for me at least. The narration is shared by several of the characters and I thought Lippman did a great job of keeping me sympathetic but slightly suspicious of all of them. It was clear that everyone had secrets they were hiding. The ending wasn’t particularly surprising though and the pace, especially toward the end, was just too slow to be suspenseful. As a psychological drama it wasn’t too bad but I don’t think it lives up to it’s billing on the cover as “a novel of suspense”. Overall it was OK but not the page-turner that I’d been hoping for. (3/5)
Seven years later, Alice Manning and Ronnie Fuller, now eighteen, are released from “kid prison” to begin their lives over again. But the secrets swirling around the original crime continue to haunt the parents, the lawyers, the police – all the adults in Alice and Ronnie’s lives. And now another child has disappeared, under freakishly similar circumstances…
Perhaps in the world’s destruction it would be possible at last to see how it was made. Oceans, mountains. The ponderous counterspectacle of things ceasing to be. The sweeping waste, hydroptic and coldly secular. The silence. (p. 274)Beautifully-written, it’s the kind of book that deserves to be read more than once. This was also my first time to read anything by McCarthy but I’m now very interested in reading more by him. (4.5/5)
Glittering. That’s how Katie Takeshima’s sister Lynn, makes everything seem. The sky is kira-kira because its color is deep but see-through at the same time. The sea is kira-kira for the same reason. And so are people’s eyes. When Katie and her family move from a Japanese community in Iowa to the Deep South of Georgia, it’s Lynn who explains to her why people stop them on the street to stare. And it’s Lynn who, with her special way of viewing the world, teaches Katie to look beyond tomorrow. But when Lynn becomes desperately ill, and the whole family begins to fall apart, it is up to Katie to find a way to remind them all that there is always something glittering – kira-kira – in the future.It was a moving story and I enjoyed hearing it through the voice of young Katie. It might not be full of action but it kept me turning the pages, wanting to read on about the family’s problems and how they coped with them. I came to care about the family, especially the sisters, and wanted to see how things turned out. I suppose because it was about a Japanese family, it also reminded me a little bit of Obasan by Joy Kogawa.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008 by Lightheaded
Just remember that the things you put into your head are there forever, he said. You might want to think about that.
You forget some things, dont you?
Yes. You forget what you want to remember and you remember what you want to forget.
Monday, June 23, 2008 by Kimmie
Sunday, June 22, 2008 by Athena
Saturday, June 21, 2008 by Andrea
Thursday, June 19, 2008 by Lightheaded
This is my attempt to make sense of the period that followed, weeks and then months that ut loose any fixed idea I had ever had about death, about illness, about probability and luck, about good fortune and bad, about marriage and children and memory, about grief, about the ways in which people do and do not deal with the fact that life ends, about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself.
Grief is different. Grief has no distance. Grief comes in waves, paroxysms, sudden apprehensions that weaken the knees and blind the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life.
Survivors look back and see omens, messages they missed.
They remember the tree that died, the gull that splattered onto the hood of the car.
They live by symbols. They read meaning into the barrage of spam on the unused computer, the delete key that stops working, the imagined abandonment in the decision to replace it. The voice in my answering machine is still John's. The fact that it was his in the first place was arbitrary, having to do with who was around on the day the answering machine last needed programming, but if I need to retape it now I would do so with a sense of betrayal.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008 by Athena
I don't know why solitude would be a balm for loneliness, but that is how it always was for me in those days, (p 18-9 hardcover)
Our dream of life will end as dreams do end, abruptly and completely, when the sun rises, when the light comes. And we will think, All that fear and all that grief were about nothing. But that cannot be true. I can't believe we will forget our sorrows altogether. That would mean forgetting that we had lived, humanly speaking. Sorrow seems to me to be a great substance of human life. (104)
Calvin says somewhere that each of us is an actor on stage and God is the audience. That metaphor has always interested me, because it makes us artists of our behavior, and the reaction of God to us might be thought of as aesthetic rather than morally judgmental in the ordinary sense. How well do we understand our role? With how much assurance do we perform it? I suppose Calvin's God was a Frenchman, just as mine is a Middle Westerner of New England extraction. Well we all bring such light to bear these great matters as we can. I do like Calvin's image, though, because it suggests how God might actually enjoy us. I believe we think about that far too little. It would be a way into understanding essential things, since presumably the world exists for God's enjoyment, no in any simple sense, of course, but as you enjoy the being of a child even when he is in every way a thorn in your heart. (124-5)
When I'm up here in my study with the radio on and some old book in my hands and it's nighttime and the wind blows and the house creaks, I forget where I am, and it's as thought I'm back in the hard times for a minute or two, and there's a sweetness in the experience I don't understand. But that only enhances the value of it. My point here is that you never do know the actual nature even of your own experience. Or perhaps it has no fixed and certain nature. (95)
Remembering when they said what they did about looking in windows and wondering about other people's lives made me feel companionable with them. I could have said that's three of us, because as the Lord knows, for many years I did exactly the same thing. (202)
Oh!, I will miss the world! (115)
Monday, June 16, 2008 by Andrea
Tuesday, June 10, 2008 by Lightheaded
His wedding gift, clasped round my throat. A choker of rubies, two inches wide, like an extraordinarily precious slit throat.
Then he kissed me. And with, this time, no reticence. He kissed me and laid his hand imperatively upon my breast, beneath the sheath of ancient lace. I stumbled on the winding stair that led to the bedroom, to the carved, gilded bed on which he had been conceived. I stammered foolishly: We've not taken luncheon yet; and, besides, it is broad daylight...
All the better to see you.
He made me put on my choker, the family heirloom of one woman who had escaped the blade. With trembling fingers, I fastened the thing about my neck. It was cold as ice and chilled me. He twined my hair into a rope and lifted it off my shoulders so that he could the better kiss the downy furrows below my ears; that made me shudder. And he kissed those blazing rubies, too. He kissed them before he kissed my mouth. Rapt, he intoned:' Of her apparel she retains/Only her sonorous jewellery.'
A dozen husbands impaled a dozen brides while the mewing gulls swung on invisible trapezes in the empty air outside.
Thursday, June 5, 2008 by Bridget
Tuesday, June 3, 2008 by Kimmie
Monday, June 2, 2008 by Andrea