March12014

First Impressions

Title of book: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon

Reason for reading: This book had a lot of hype last year (2013) and I kept seeing it around, and I liked the concept of it— Futuristic sci-fy girl that reads minds, captured and forced to use her powers for evil. I also share a name with the main character and you don’t meet a lot of Paiges so I was curious to see if this one will do us justice.

First impressions:The cover is very bold, with the title in huge letters and a dark blue background. There’s a few symbols on it, maybe some kind of a clock? It doesn’t really reveal too much about the book itself, but maybe as I start reading it’ll make more sense.

Previous reads by this author: None.

Hardcover, paperback, or ebook: Hardcover.

GoodReads rating: 3.65 average

First sentences:I like to imagine there were more of us in the beginning. Not many, I suppose. But more than there are now. We are the minority the world does not accept.

February282014
“'Caring too much for objects can destroy you. Only— if you care for a thing enough, it takes on a life of its own, doesn't it? And isn't the whole point of things— beautiful things— that they connect you to some larger beauty? Those first images that crack your heart wide open and you spend the rest of your life chasing, or trying to recapture, in one way or another?'” The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, p757
February222014
“'Your descriptions of the desert— that oceanic, endless glare— are terrible but also very beautiful. Maybe there's something to be said for the rawness and emptiness of it all. The light of long ago is different from the light of today and yet here, in this house, I'm reminded of the past at every turn. But when I think if you, it's as if you've gone away to sea on a ship— out in a foreign brightness where there are no paths, only stars and sky.'” The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, p281
8AM
“Often at night, when I was overwhelmed with the strangeness of where I was, I lulled myself to sleep by thinking of his workshop, rich smells of beeswax and rosewood shavings, and then the narrow stairs up to the parlor, where dusty beams shone on oriental carpets.” The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, pp268-269
February202014
“I fumbled in my pocket; I held out the ring to him, on my open palm. The man’s large, pallid face went slack. He looked at the ring, and then at me.
‘Where did you get this?’ he said.
‘He gave it to me,’ I said. ‘He told me to bring it here.’
He stood and looked at me, hard. For a moment, I thought he was going to tell me he didn’t know what I was talking about. Then, without a word, he stepped back and opened the door.
‘I’m Hobie,’ he said, when I hesitated. ‘Come in.’” The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, pp120-121
2PM
Reading a good book in the sun with the door open to the deck and 75 degrees…. 😌 #100happydays #day4

Reading a good book in the sun with the door open to the deck and 75 degrees…. 😌 #100happydays #day4

February182014
February172014

First Impressions

Title of book: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Reason for reading: I first saw this book on the “New Arrivals” shelf at my bookstore, and was intrigued by the cover art. It is also a book that I kept going back to and thinking about so when I saw it was on sale a few weeks ago I just went ahead and bought it. (And the main character shares his name with my husband)

First impressions: I love the cover art for this book. It looks like someone has wrapped the famous painting “The Goldfinch” in plain white paper, written on the wrapper in a charcoal pencil, and ripped part of the paper away to reveal the chained bird’s face. The bird appears to be staring from the book at the reader. The ripped paper looks real, like I would be able to feel it if I touched the cover. The pages are soft and thin, so it doesn’t appear to be a 770 page book from the outside. The binding is colored in such a way to look like yellowed, old tape, seemingly to hold the wrapper closed around the painting.

Previous reads by this author: None.

Hardcover, paperback, or ebook: Hardcover.

GoodReads rating: 4.05 average

First sentences: While I was still in Amsterdam, I dreamed about my mother for the first time in years. I’d been shut up in my hotel for more than a week, afraid to telephone anybody or go out; and my heart scrambled and floundered at even the most innocent noises: elevator bell, rattle of the minibar cart, even church clocks tolling the hour, de Westertoren, Krijtberg, a dark edge to the clangor, an inwrought fairy-tale sense of doom.

February132014

Review of “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail” by Cheryl Strayed

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" —Mary Oliver.

I listened to this with my husband as an audiobook during a drive last weekend. We are both “outdoorsy people,” and we love to backpack and hike when we get the chance, so I thought this would be a good pick to listen to together. I was right. We absolutely loved it.

The first part of the book is rough. It was hard to listen to at some points but I understood that she was explaining her reasons for hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) seemingly out of the blue and with no prior experience. Strayed (which is the name she picked out of a dictionary after her divorce, and I thought it was very clever and poetic) literally had her life fall apart. Her childhood ended the day her mother took herself and her three children out of an abusive environment and became a single mother. When Strayed was in her early twenties, she lost her mother to cancer, and it began going downhill from there. She divorced her husband, lost all purpose and direction in her life, fell into a bad relationship with a man who introduced her to meth, and just generally hit rock bottom.

Then, she began the hike. I loved her description of herself trying to begin the trek with a huge, oversized, overweight pack that she called a “Volkswagen” and barely managed to get off the floor. I loved all her mishaps afterwards— too-small boots, falling asleep beside a pond and awakening to find herself covered in frogs, care packages she had mailed to herself that either didn’t arrive or didn’t contain what she had expected, battles with snow and ice, duct-taping her sandals to her feet…. And yet, she kept going.

I have heard people complain about this book and the “stupidity” Strayed demonstrated by her various accidents and misjudgments. But isn’t that the point of the book? She made it very clear that she had only had a vague idea of how to hike the PCT and was ill-equipped and less-than-experienced. If the book had been about how she packed everything perfectly, only brought what she needed, and had no misadventures of her own doing, that would have been a very boring book.

Instead, this was a beautifully-written, at times painful, book about a woman who was lost inside her own life and had no control left, but managed to find herself and a sense of purpose on a hike through California and Oregon. It was a book about the overwhelming kindness of strangers and the sense of community shared by the hikers as they struggled together to their goals. It was a book about the universal striving towards finding meaning and purpose in the one life we are given.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars.

9AM

Review of “Wolf Hall” by Hilary Mantel

I enjoyed this book. Really. For the past few years, I have been fascinated by the life and politics of the court of Henry VIII of England. There was enough corruption, adultery, church interference in the state, and general all-around debauchery to fill thousands of novels. I watched the nowhere-near-historically-accurate Showtime series “The Tudors” a few years ago and fell in love with the complicated (and real-life) plots and crimes.

I suppose the “hero” of Wolf Hall is Thomas Cromwell, lawyer extraordinaire. He begins as an employee of Cardinal Wolsey, a very suspicious character that loves to indulge on the wealth of the church and plays the victim at every turn in order to reach his gains. After his imprisonment and subsequent death, Cromwell enters the payroll of King Henry VIII as one of the chief engineers of the king’s desired divorce/annulment from Catherine of Aragon. In the process, he helps establish the new “Church of England,” created to separate England from the Pope, assists in overseeing its birth and development, and spreads witty comebacks and one-liners like some kind of sharp-tongued and devilish Santa Claus.

Here’s what I didn’t enjoy: I was very confused for the first hundred pages or so by the author’s use of “he/him/his.” I kept paging back and forth trying to figure out who she was referring to before I discovered that this is how she mentions Thomas Cromwell. He is almost never mentioned by his name unless being addressed directly by another character. I suppose I should have gone back after that to re-read the hundred pages I had stumbled through, but….. No.

The book is also very drily written, but the time period and language within the pages call for such a dry style. There are about twenty people named “Thomas,” or “Harry,” or “Jane,” so it was easy for me to be mixed up and have to constantly either look in the index at the front of the book to figure out who this person was or search through the book to find when this person was mentioned. Again, this is no fault whatsoever of the author— Mantel can not help that so many people in that time period had such little imagination when it came to naming children.

Once I got the hang of the book (reading it requires a different mindset and improved memory skills than most books), I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the read. It was very clever and smartly written and I look forward eagerly to the second installment in Mantel’s series.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

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