A New Release

My audiobook pre-order of Doris Kearns Goodwin‘s new book, Leadership in Turbulent Times, arrived in the wee hours of this morning. It’s arrival is well-timed for me. We are leaving tomorrow for a week of travel and family. My mother’s Celebration of Life is on Saturday, and we are all gathering to honor and celebrate a life well lived.

Mom would have wanted to read or listen to this book and add it to the list of other DKG’s books she enjoyed. So in her memory and in honor of her passion for history, I will listen to this book for her.

RIP XIII: This Rough Magic

This Rough Magic, by Mary Stewart: set on the island of Corfu, quotes from Shakespeare’s The Tempest, smugglers, murder, actors, young love, a dolphin. Who could ask for anything more?

From the publisher:

British actress Lucy Waring believes there is no finer place to be “at liberty” than the sun-drenched isle of Corfu, the alleged locale for Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Even the suspicious actions of the handsome, arrogant son of a famous actor cannot dampen her enthusiasm for this wonderland in the Ionian Sea.

Then a human corpse is carried ashore on the incoming tide …

This was a wonderful, fun read. I must read (or reread) more of Mary Stewart’s novels!


This was my fourth book read for the Readers Imbibing Peril XIII  challenge.

RIP XIII: The Eyes of the Amaryllis

The Eyes of the Amaryllis, by Natalie Babbitt, is one of my favorite books. When I was teaching, I read it aloud to my sixth grade students, year after year, and never tired of Babbitt’s lyrical, descriptive, lovely writing. My Grandson started school last week, a 5/6 grader now, and it triggered memories for me of those special books I loved and read each year. It was definitely time to reread this one.

It is an unusual story. Eleven year old Geneva (Jenny) Reade, went to help her grandmother, also named Geneva, who lived beside the ocean. Gran had broken her foot and needed some extra help. Jenny was excited to see the ocean for the first time, but not very excited about having to cook or help her grandmother with those kinds of things. However, that’s not the kind of help Gran needed. With her broken foot, Gran could not walk the shoreline each day, searching. Jenny would have to search for her.

Jenny’s grandfather had been a sea captain on the ship, The Amaryllis, and while arriving home during a fierce storm, the ship sank and everyone aboard was lost. Sadly, it sank within sight of the shore, and both Geneva’s father and her grandmother watched helplessly from the bluff. The trauma of watching his father’s ship go down was too much for young George, and he soon left the oceanside and went to live with an aunt who lived inland. Gran stayed at their home at the ocean, waiting for anything to wash up from the wreck…waiting for “a sign from her darling.” Nothing ever washed up, but Gran kept vigil checking the shoreline after each turn of the tide…for over 30 years, but nothing ever washed ashore.

Geneva soon learned that her grandmother’s life centered around the sea, the tides, her undying love for the sea captain, and for her hope that he would somehow send her a sign.

Your grandfather and I—what we felt for each other doesn’t just stop. Remember what we talked about the first night you were here? There’s another world around us, Geneva, around us all the time, and here I can be closer to it.

There is another important character in this book, called Seward, who calls himself the “guardian of the sea.”  His job is to walk the shoreline and make sure that nothing the sea values is taken, and if something of value is found, it must be returned to the sea.

Gran explained to Jenny that Seward was once a sensitive artist/sculptor who threw himself into the sea after being rejected by a woman he loved. His body was never found, but he returned mysteriously and walks the shoreline each day. No one but Gran has seen him. His story is fantastical, and Geneva can hardly believe it…except that she, too, has seen him.

“He really saw the ship on the bottom,” she said. “Yes,” said Gran. “Sailing. Keeping watch. The sea bottom was covered with treasure, he told me, and there were lots of wrecked ships, too, great ruined hulls, lying down there forsaken, full of holes and rotting away. But the Amaryllis, and all the ships with figureheads, are kept whole and clean, he said, to sail on the bottom and guard the treasure.”

It is the figurehead from The Amaryllis that finally washes ashore. And then the story gets really interesting.

I won’t tell you more. You’ll have to read it to find out what happens. But I will say that it was wonderful to share this story with my students! You wouldn’t think that sixth graders would necessarily want to sit through a story about undying love, but they listened with rapt attention to this one. It captured all our imaginations and our hearts!

This was my third book read for the Readers Imbibing Peril XIII.

RIP XIII: The Silkworm

The Silkworm, by Robert Gailbraith, (a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling) is the second in the Cormorant Strike series of mysteries. Gallbraith’s mysteries are riveting and powerful. Cormoran Strike is a private detective and a war veteran who was severely wounded during his service. He and his assistant, Robin Ellacott, take on difficult and brutal cases. The solving of these crimes is fascinating, as is the growing, changing, relationship between those two main characters.

Summary from Robert-galbraith.com:

The Silkworm – It takes a unique mind to solve a unique crime.

A compulsively readable crime novel with twists at every turn, The Silkworm is the second in the highly acclaimed series featuring Cormoran Strike and his determined young assistant Robin Ellacott.

When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days – as he has done before – and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realises. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives – so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him.

And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any he has encountered before…

My responses to the book: I didn’t listen to this audiobook straight through. When I first started it a few months ago, it seemed a little too gruesome and dark, and that wasn’t what I wanted to be reading at that time. So I set it aside for a while and then decided to go ahead and listen to it for RIP-XIII.  This time, I found it impossible to stop listening to it!  The plot was complicated and compelling, and the narration by Robert Glenister was excellent.

J.K. Rowling is an amazing and versatile writer, and I am now completely hooked on this series.


This was my second book read for Readers Imbibing Peril, XIII.

Persuasion

Persuasion is my favorite Jane Austen book. I love Sense and Sensibility, and Pride and Prejudice, but it is Persuasion that steals my heart every time I read it.

From the publisher:

At twenty-­seven, Anne Elliot is no longer young and has few romantic prospects. Eight years earlier, she had been persuaded by her friend Lady Russell to break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth, a handsome naval captain with neither fortune nor rank. What happens when they encounter each other again is movingly told in Jane Austen’s last completed novel. Set in the fashionable societies of Lyme Regis and Bath, Persuasion is a brilliant satire of vanity and pretension, but, above all, it is a love story tinged with the heartache of missed opportunities.

I love the character of Anne Elliot in this book. She’s a strong, intelligent and practical woman who is very kind and caring to her family and friends. She must have been more like her mother because she’s the polar opposite of her vain and shallow father and sister. I also love the character of Captain Wentworth, who shares so many of those same good qualities. I cheer for them all through the book, hoping that they will finally find a way to be together because they are so obviously meant for each other. I never tire of this story, and have reread it numerous times. It’s a wonderful audiobook, as well.

My favorite selection from the book is the letter Captain Wentworth writes to Anne, hoping beyond hope that they can finally declare their love for each other. It is perhaps the most passionate love letter I’ve ever read. The way it comes about in the story is a wonderful exchange between these two characters who are so well suited to each other. 

“I can listen no longer in silence. I must speak to you by such means as are within my reach. You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago. Dare not say that man forgets sooner than woman, that his love has an earlier death. I have loved none but you. Unjust I may have been, weak and resentful I have been, but never inconstant. You alone have brought me to Bath. For you alone, I think and plan. Have you not seen this? Can you fail to have understood my wishes? I had not waited even these ten days, could I have read your feelings, as I think you must have penetrated mine. I can hardly write. I am every instant hearing something which overpowers me. You sink your voice, but I can distinguish the tones of that voice when they would be lost on others. Too good, too excellent creature! You do us justice, indeed. You do believe that there is true attachment and constancy among men. Believe it to be most fervent, most undeviating, in F. W. “I must go, uncertain of my fate; but I shall return hither, or follow your party, as soon as possible. A word, a look, will be enough to decide whether I enter your father’s house this evening or never.”

This is a story I will reread and enjoy many more times throughout my lifetime.

Persuasion was one of my choices for my 50-books-in-5-years for The Classics Club.

RIP XIII: The Whispering Statue

When I was young, I read all the Nancy Drew mysteries (at least the ones that were available at that time)! My brothers and I would go to the library every week and I would come out with a pile of books, mostly Nancy Drew mysteries. They said to me many times, “Rob, you’re in a reading rut!”  Yes, that’s what good mysteries do to you, and I still love getting caught in a mystery reading rut!

The Whispering Statue, by Carolyn Keene, is book #14 in the original series. All the Nancy Drew books were actually ghostwritten, and my favorite of the ghostwriters was Mildred A. Wirt Benson. She wrote the first twenty-three books in the series, and those are my favorites.

Another interesting tidbit about the early Nancy Drew books, which were originally published in the 1930s, is that they were rewritten and republished in the 1970s. The copy I read of The Whispering Statue was definitely a rewritten one from the 70s because the plot was significantly different and shorter than the earlier version, AND the word “groovy” was used two or three times in the story. That was a dead giveaway to someone very familiar with the late 60s and early 70s!!

I enjoyed rereading this mystery. It was pleasant to spend an afternoon on the porch with a fun book. My goal is to slowly reread as many of the Nancy Drew books as possible!

Penguin Random House: the publisher’s summary of plot:

Once again, Nancy faces two puzzling mysteries at once! The first concerns a valuable collection of rare books that Mrs. Horace Merriam commissioned anart dealer to sell–has he swindled her instead? The second mystery revolves around the baffling theft of a beautiful marble statue. To solve both mysteries, the famous young detective disguises herself and assumes a false identity. Despite these precautions, danger stalks Nancy’s every move. An attempted kidnapping, a nearly disastrous sailboat collision, and an encounter with a dishonest sculptor are just a few of the exciting challenges that Nancy is faced with as she gathers evidence against a clever ring of art thieves.

I read this book for the RIP XIII challenge, Peril the First

September Thoughts

“By all these lovely tokens
September days are here
With summer’s best of weather
And autumn’s best of cheer.”

~ by Helen Hunt Jackson

Happy September, my friends! I love September and am looking forward to the cooler temperatures that allow me to sit on the porch and read. And I love watching the changing colors of the trees on my walks around my neighborhood.

My plans for September also include some travel. In the middle of the month, we will be returning to Utah for the Celebration of Life for my mother. My brothers and I have been busy planning the details, and look forward to that beautiful September day when we all meet to celebrate the life of a remarkable woman.

My reading plans include a long list of books for the Readers Imbibing Peril-#13 challenge and for The Classics Club. I will be rereading some old favorites, as well, and look forward to sharing all of this reading with you.

Reading on the porch, taking long walks, enjoying a road trip with my husband, celebrating someone I love dearly…it sounds like a lovely September to me!

Wishing you a lovely September, too!

~ Painting by Amanda Houston

August Reflections 2018

We lose ourselves in books, we find ourselves there too.

My reading in August was both pleasure and solace. The silence left after my Mom’s passing in July was deafening, but I know she would be pleased that I am filling our daily phone conversation time with books!  It’s easy to stop everything you are doing when the phone rings and allow yourself an hour of talking about all sorts of things (especially books). So now I allow myself that daily time to read, and it is pure pleasure!

Here are the books I read in August. My favorite was The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, but I also loved listening to the very creative Ready Player One.  I had set aside The Silkworm  for awhile and then decided to finish it for the upcoming RIP-XIII reading challenge.  (I started the challenge a week early because I have no self-control!)

August was an enjoyable reading month.

 

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Many years ago, I read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, and I loved it. I just reread it, knowing that I would like to see the new movie that’s been made of it, and discovered the pleasure of it all over again. I loved it even more this time around! This book really is a treasure! It is historical fiction, the story taking place during the occupation of the Channel Islands during World War II. It is written as a series of letters between the different characters, and it is absolutely delightful getting to know those characters. If you haven’t read it, you must.

From the publisher:

January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb…

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends — and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society — born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island — boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

My favorite quote from the book:

That’s what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you onto another book, and another bit there will lead you onto a third book. It’s geometrically progressive—all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.