GoodReads Monday: “The Resisters”

Goodreads Monday is a great way to talk about a book from your TBR list. Originally started by Lauren’s Page Turners, most people do these weekly, (such as Confessions of a YA Reader who partakes in several fun blog themes) I prefer to do mine monthly and this month I chose something a little different from my norm.

Gis Jen’s “The Resisters” is a science fiction dystopian novel that weaves in baseball as a part of its theme.  I’ve only recently heard about this book

while driving and listening to NPR’s Fresh Air on the radio.  Maureen Corrigan gave a compelling review and synopsis of Jen’s book and I decided I’d like to give it a try. You can read her review here if you’d like, otherwise, here’s the blurb from the Goodreads website:

TheResistersThe Resisters by Gish Jen

An audacious marvel of a novel about baseball and a future America, from the always inventive and exciting author of The Love Wife and Who’s Irish

The time: a not-so-distant future. The place: AutoAmerica. The land: half under water. The Internet—the new face of government—is “Aunt Nettie”: a mix of artificial intelligence, surveillance technology, and pesky maxims. The people have been divided, and no one is happy. The angel-fair “Netted” still have jobs and literally occupy the high ground, while the mostly coppertoned “Surplus” live on swampland if they’re lucky, on the water if they’re not.
     The story: To a Surplus couple—he was a professor, she’s still a lawyer—is born a Blasian girl with a golden arm. At two, Gwen is hurling her stuffed animals from the crib; by ten she can hit whatever target she likes with a baseball; her teens find her playing happily in an underground Surplus league. When AutoAmerica re-enters the Olympics—with a special eye on beating ChinRussia—Gwen attracts interest. Soon she’s at Net U, falling in love with her coach and considering “crossing over,” even as her mother is challenging the AutoAmerican Way with lawsuits that will prove very dangerous.
     An astonishing story of an America that seems only too possible, and of a family struggling to maintain its humanity in circumstances that threaten their every value—even their very existence.

“You Are Beautiful.”

A tiny little story by i.e.faber.


It’s been the kind of month where each week just gets worse. Each week you think, “This’ll be the week I get on top of things”, but you don’t. You fall down like you slip on ice. You don’t even see it and next, you’re on your ass. How’d I get here again?

I work all day and the few hours I have at home are dedicated to preparing myself for the next 13hrs of work. The next struggle. I’ve been working nonstop and yet somehow still have bills past due. At work, no one acknowledges my talents or successes so I wonder why I bother. Heck, people don’t even know my name. Not my neighbors or coworkers, or even my clients who I’ve been working with for years. People in the streets practically bump into me like I’m invisible.

Invisible.

I feel invisible.

Rushing off to work I turn the corner just in time to see the bus pull away. It’s fun to sit on the sidewalk in the freezing cold waiting for the next bus. I should know – I do it all the time. But I have such little time, I use this moment to do some work emails. Hat on, giant coat, bones aching, feeling old and worn out I type on my phone hoping my fingers don’t freeze. I missed the bus because my running was hindered by a limp. Am I so old now my hips are going?

What am I even doing with my life?

What is the point?

“Miss. Miss? MISS!”

“HUH?”  I look up to see a very old man bundled in a hooded coat too large for him hobble over slowly on his cane to speak to me.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt. I just crossed several seas to tell you this: you are beautiful. I can see you have no trouble being beautiful, I simply wanted to tell you in person.”

“HA! Thanks,” I mumble to my phone.
Then, feeling bad that I ignored the only human being who acknowledged my presence in days, I glance up to say something,

but he’s gone.

Then the bus arrives.

It wasn’t until later that evening while brushing my teeth and inspecting the bags under my eyes that his words settle in my brain. How could he even see me to think I was pretty when I was crouched down and so bundled up? Where did he come from? And did he say he crossed “seas”? Surely he meant “streets”? So strange.

But he didn’t say pretty,

he said beautiful.

Goodreads Monday: My Jasper June

Goodreads Monday is a great way to talk about a book from your TBR list. Originally started by Lauren’s Page Turners, most people do these weekly, (such as Confessions of a YA Reader who partakes in several fun blog themes) I prefer to do mine monthly and this month I chose a middle-grade novel.

“My Jasper June” caught my attention with its summer magic theme which of course was my favorite time of the year when I was younger. Also, the theme of dealing with loss is one I am keen on reading especially from a middle-grade book.

Here is it’s Goodreads blurb:

jasper juneMy Jasper June by Laurel Snyder

The school year is over, and it is summer in Atlanta. The sky is blue, the sun is blazing, and the days brim with possibility. But Leah feels. . . lost. She has been this way since one terrible afternoon a year ago, when everything changed. Since that day, her parents have become distant, her friends have fallen away, and Leah’s been adrift and alone.

Then she meets Jasper, a girl unlike anyone she has ever known. There’s something mysterious about Jasper, almost magical. And Jasper, Leah discovers, is also lost. 

Together, the two girls carve out a place for themselves, a hideaway in the overgrown spaces of Atlanta, away from their parents and their hardships, somewhere only they can find.

But as the days of this magical June start to draw to a close, and the darker realities of their lives intrude once more, Leah and Jasper have to decide how real their friendship is, and whether it can be enough to save them both.

Book Review: Women Of the Dunes

By Sarah Maine

Historical Fiction / Cultural; Scotland

MY SYNOPSIS:

Libby Snow is an archeologist with a passion for a Viking legend her grandmother passed onto her from her grandmother. When work takes her to Scotland to excavate a site believed to hold a body tied to the Viking legend, Libby is excited to unfold the truth. Instead, she finds a Victorian age body from what appears to be a crime scene that may have actually involved her great-great-grandmother or someone who knew her.

The legend, the crime, and Libby’s family history are all tied together in a terrible knot. She tries to untangle her own family mystery, but she is also dealing with the family on whose estate this excavation & crime has taken place. Their dark secrets are blocking Libby from unveiling the truth of both the legend and of her family.

WHY I PICKED THIS BOOK:

I was preparing for a trip to Scotland and brought two books with me: ‘Kidnapped’ by Robert Louis Stevenson, and this book. The idea was to stay in Scotland even as I read, and should I not finish the books by the time I returned, I’d still be in Scotland via the book. Also, I really enjoy historical fiction and certainly love a decent crime novel. This had a lot of my favorite things all tied into one.

WHAT WAS DISAPPOINTING:

My typical complaint; it was too slow to start. I remember saying to my sister one night in our lovely B&B in the highlands, “I don’t know if I’m going to finish this book. It’s just not going anywhere and I’m feeling a lame romance coming on.”  Not to mention it took a while for the story to even get to Scotland. I very rarely am quick to take to a book so this is nothing new for me, but I really did think I was going to stop reading this one. I just didn’t care about Libby or her curiosities. Also, as the story shifted from one age to another telling one of three stories, I (with my short attention span) had a bit of a time keeping up and becoming emotionally attached at all. If I hadn’t been on vacation in lovely B&B’s every night I may not have continued – boy am I glad I did!

WHY I KEPT READING:

The body. Obviously I can’t give anything away, but there is a point when what I thought was going to turn into a lame romance turns into an interesting crime novel (and more). Plus Libby finally got to Scotland. There were more characters, more secrets, I was more emotionally invested, and just like that, I couldn’t put it down. The back and forth between the three stories became more interesting to me as they slowly revealed their connections to each other.

TAKE AWAY:

This is a beautiful novel that not only takes you to Scotland, but it also explores a lot about family more so than it does history. There is mystery and action and plenty of odd twists and turns that kept me involved with so many of the characters. The relationships here are so real, the setting so vivid, Sarah Maine does a fantastic job putting you right there with the other characters to feel their hopes and fears. You finish the story and end up missing their home, their faces, even their voices. Fantastic writing that has me wanting more of this writer’s work.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

I finished this book back here at home in Philadelphia but it was a great way to stay overseas just a bit longer. This book, regardless of what seemed like a slow start for me, kept me in a place for a long time. I visualize the island and the house in my mind more like a memory of somewhere I have been rather than as a fictitious place I read about. I highly recommend this book to lovers of travel, mystery, and family dynamics.

POSTSCRIPT:

I just want to have a cup of tea in that kitchen please.

 

Goodreads Monday – “The Art Of Dying”

Goodreads Monday is a great way to talk about a book from your TBR list. Originally started by Lauren’s Page Turners, most people do these weekly, (such as Confessions of a YA Reader who partakes in several fun blog themes) I prefer to do mine monthly and this month I choose the second book of a two-part series.

“The Art of Dying” caught my attention simply with the title. As Tyler Durden says in “Fight Club” ;

“In the Tibetan philosophy, Sylvia Plath sense of the word I know we’re all dying.”  

I quite agree and with that, this title took my fancy. 

Rather than being about philosophical principles, this story is a historical crime novel. A historical crime novel that takes place in Edinburg Scotland. So many of my favorite things rolled into one.

I hunted down the first book (“The Way Of All Flesh” ) which I completed over the holiday break.  Without giving a full review on that book, suffice it to say I now want to read its sequel. Here is its blurb from GoodReads: 

art of dying.jpgThe Art of Dying by Ambrose Parry

Edinburgh, 1850. Despite being at the forefront of modern medicine, hordes of patients are dying all across the city, with doctors finding their remedies powerless. But it is not just the deaths that dismay the esteemed Dr. James Simpson – a whispering campaign seeks to blame him for the death of a patient in suspicious circumstances.

Simpson’s protégé Will Raven and former housemaid Sarah Fisher are determined to clear their patron’s name. But with Raven battling against the dark side of his own nature, and Sarah endeavoring to expand her own medical knowledge beyond what society deems acceptable for a woman, the pair struggle to understand the cause of the deaths.

Will and Sarah must unite and plunge into Edinburgh’s deadliest streets to clear Simpson’s name. But soon they discover that the true cause of these deaths has evaded suspicion purely because it is so unthinkable.