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“Whenever you feel like criticizing any one,” he told me, “just remember that all the people in this world haven’t had the advantages that you’ve had.”
Reserving judgments is a matter of infinite hope.
It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five time in life. It face – or seemed to face – the whole external world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself, and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey.
“Anyhow, he gives large parties,” said Jordan, changing the subject with an urban distaste for the concrete. “And I like large parties. They’re so intimate. At small parties there isn’t any privacy.”
But I am slow-thinking and full of interior rules that act as brakes on my desires, and I knew that first I had to get myself definitely out of that tangle back home.
Every one suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known.
So we drove on toward death through the cooling twilight.
He took what he could get, ravenously and unscrupulously – eventually he took Daisy one still October night, took her because he had no real right to touch her hand.
He must have felt that he had lost the old warm world, paid a high price for living too long with a single dream.
But I wanted to leave things in order and not just trust that obliging and indifferent sea to sweep my refuse away.
“I’m thirty,” I said. “I’m five years too old to lie to myself and call it honor.”
They were careless people, Tom and Daisy – they smashed things up and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made…
“A man does what he can; a woman does what he cannot.”
“And I am not one of those women who trips twice over the same stone.”
“Courage is a virtue appreciated in a male but considered a defect in our gender. Bold women are a threat to a world that is out of balance, in favor of men. That is why they work so hard to mistreat and destroy us. But remember that bold women are like cockroaches: step on one and others come running from the corners.”
It was a fascinating read though not quite fun due to the darker themes. (The original title of the book was Men Who Hate Women.)
Journalist and publisher Mikeal Blomkvist is convicted in a libel case and is facing a jail sentence. Blomkvist also wants to distance himself from the magazine in the hopes of saving it. He takes a job offer by a wealthy man to investigate the mysterious 1960′s disappearance of his then 16-year-old great-niece. Blomkvist needs a research assistant, and he hires our title character, 24-year-old Lisbeth Salander, after he reads the detailed report she made about him during his case. They make an odd team, but together they begin to put together the sordid pieces of an old family’s history.
I’ve read complaints about the book’s pacing, but I never found it too slow. The book would switch from the mystery to Blomkvist’s legal issues to Lisbeth’s life. I found Lisbeth’s story the most interesting, and I’ve also read that the next book follows her more closely. I’ve already put in a request through my library’s e-reader program.
*Once again, I won’t be making my 52 book goal this year. I did pass last year’s 32 mark. Hurray!
Stephen King is skilled at storytelling and suspense building. In my experience he blows all the good will he creates with his endings. And yet I keep coming back for more because I find that the good outweighs the bad.
The only prior knowledge I had about It was that Tim Curry plays a scary clown in the movie. So that is the image that I carried with me throughout the novel. And it is scary. I love the idea of an entire town that is poisoned with this evil being that everyone ignores. I love that the children are the ones to fight it because they have the most power in their purity of imagination and belief.
I enjoyed the way last part of the novel alternates between the children’s first showdown against It and their final one as adults.
I’ve read See’s Making a Literary Life once before. Like Bird by Bird, it is a lovely inspirational book for writers. The advice is obvious – write. Every day. Sorry to disappoint, but that’s the big secret.
Carolyn See lays out a plan for the novice to follow. It’s quite simple, but it takes discipline and self-motivation. These are two qualities every writer must develop in order to achieve any semblance of literary success.
The core of her ingenius plan :
“1. A thousand words a day – or two hours of revision – five days a week for the rest of your life.
2. A charming note (that does not ask for a favor) to a writer, editor, or agent you admire – five days a week for the rest of your life.”
There are seven other steps, but these are the most crucial. MLL is full of other fun stories and tips. I especially like her advice to picture what your life as a writer would look like and then make those details happen. Even seemingly silly things like “I’d wear colorful pashimas and drink tea every morning before writing” can motivate you along your writing journey.
I have a little niece who at 18 months is showing a lot of interest in books. I was delighted to find her attracted to this picture book I brought her during my last visit. She has a habit of pulling books off the bookcase and plopping down to carefully turn each page before moving to the next. My brother is already teaching her letters. So now I’m determined to keep her arms full with lovely books. This is leading me to a genre that I haven’t touched in years: children’s books. I remember watching a movie version of The Velveteen Rabbit, but I had never read the book.
My favorite passage:
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
I know this is an awfully short book to count among my Cannonball Reads, but I’ve read over six 1000+ page novels this year and am hardly any closer to my goal of 52 books than I was last year. I feel justified.
And a little stabby.
I took my mom to see the movie adaptation a few weeks ago.
It was odd to be in a room with about 50 of my mothers. I swear they (an entirely female audience) would all laugh and chuckle the same way at the same times. There was even a moment when they all cackled and said in sync “She burned her chicken!” Bizarre experience.
I found the movie entertaining enough, but it felt too… light. White washed. The movie seemed to gloss over the very real, very terrible dangers the maids faced by taking part in the telling of their stories. I felt that the main actresses expressed that real fear, but that the audience was never forced to understand exactly what it was that they feared. So I took the opportunity to read the book when I saw it lying on my mom’s couch to see if it was any better.
The story is about Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan, a new college grad and aspiring writer. She’s back in her hometown of Jackson, Mississippi. Taking an editor’s advice to write about what disturbs her (particularly if it bothers no one else), Skeeter begins to collect stories about what it is really like to work as a black maid in the white South. It is dangerous work, and the book excels in introducing the reader to those dangers.
It is told through the perspectives of Skeeter and two maids, Aibileen and Minny. Aibileen works for one of Skeeter’s friends. Minny was formerly employed by her friend’s mother.
I liked that the book actually showed the ramifications of the eventual publication of their collected stories even though it was technically anonymous. The tension was palpably prickly as the maids worried over the discovery of who was involved. This was where the reader truly began to understand what the potential fallout could be.
Most of the backlash the book received should be directed toward the film. I think any medium that covers such a topic should not be afraid to hit a nerve. The book at least attempts to hit where the movie actively avoided.
God forbid we step on anyone’s racist toes.
Another free e-book, it is not Amish fiction but a Puritan historical inspirational fiction. The author based her story loosely on that of John Bunyan, writer of The Pilgrim’s Progress.
Newly betrothed Elizabeth Whitbread finds herself working as a housekeeper for newly widowed minister and tinsmith John Costin and his four children. It was a dangerous time as only those educated and licensed could legally preach according to the Anglican church. John Costin was neither of those things. Elizabeth finds herself being threatened unless she provided his opponents with stolen written materials and other information.
And blah blah blah – the book is interesting enough to act as a holder until I can get my hands on a book. It’s a quick read. There are a few sincere emotional moments that made me tear up. The main character is a strong woman with a quick tongue and sharp wit. Other than that it feels much like a paint-by-numbers piece of art. It’s predictable. And, the toddler says things that no toddler says, Puritan or not. Definitely a pet peeve in film or literature.
Conclusion: read it for free.
Someone somewhere in Internet land raved about her love for Amish fiction and how many free ones were available as a free Kindle e-book.
I had finished and dropped off my last book at the closed library. I couldn’t make any book requests on-line because I have a two-day late fee from that last book. (I couldn’t renew it because someone else had it on hold.)
So, I did a quick search and downloaded a free Amish fiction book to tide me over. It had good reviews on Amazon.
The back cover (which I haven’t seen until now) reads:
Lancaster County has always been her home–but where does her heart belong? One moment Carrie Weaver was looking forward to running away with Lancaster Barnstormers pitcher Solomon Riehl–plans that included leaving the Amish community where they grew up. The next moment she was staring into a future as broken as her heart. Now, Carrie is faced with a choice. But will this opportunity be all she hoped? Or will this decision, this moment in time, change her life forever? A tender story of love, forgiveness, and looking below the surface, The Choice uncovers the sweet simplicity of the Amish world–and shows that it’s never too late to find your way back to God.
This reads like a Lifetime movie.
Carrie originally plans to leave her community with baseball boyfriend, but her father dies. She doesn’t want to leave her little brother alone with her stepmother. Baseball boyfriend leaves anyway. Carrie needs a way to get away from stepmother. Carrie marries nice but silent guy that her father had liked. New husband’s father dies. Just when there’s the hint that their relationship will blossom into something more than convenience, that guy dies. His cousin – fresh from a mysterious prison sentence – comes into town to stay with her, her little brother, and dead husband’s grandmother. Outsider lady breezes into town with plans to buy up Amish property for a golf course. Baseball boyfriend comes around to try to get Carrie back. Carrie’s best friend carries a secret torch for baseball boyfriend. Carrie becomes interested in cousin but believes he’s returning an interest in outsider lady who wants to buy Carrie’s farm. There’s a rash of barn fires among the Amish.
It was a quick read, but not exactly a page turner.
I hate stumbling onto a series I love before all the books are written. It last happened with Harry Potter. And now this.
I love getting excited and plowing through. I hate the waiting to find out what happened to my favorite and not-so-favorite characters. (Jon!? !?) The only good thing is that I’ll probably have to reread the last two books to refresh myself before the next comes out.
I find it difficult to discuss the books in any detail. No character is safe, therefore to even mention them by name (whoops) is like a spoiler. The stories are so vast that even I forget what happened in which book.
I can say that I disagree with criticisms about the treatment of women in the books. These critics focus on the sexual violence, inequality, and mistreatment as if it is something that is condoned by the author rather than part of the setting of a very dangerous world. Men are not exempt from the rape,torture,etc. The critics also ignore that Martin has created several strong female characters who play large roles in the outcome of the story.
And.. P.S. Don’t smoke around books that you borrow from the library. Because then the next reader will get to enjoy inhaling your stale fumes. Thanks.