Monday, February 22, 2016

It's Monday, February 22nd. What Are You Reading?

Hosted by The Book Date!

I was away last week so I had the opportunity for quite a bit of reading due to travel time.

I have recently finished:

The Lost Daughter by Elena Ferrante. It is no secret that I am absolutely nuts, and obsessed, with this author and her books. This one was gobbled up on the travel day to my destination. It is classic Ferrante. Dark. Gut-punching. Compelling.

Simple Passion by Annie Ernaux. This I devoured poolside over the course of two days. I believe I first became aware of this journal-like novel from a Book Riot post. Translated from French, Ernaux chronicles what it was like being emotionally, physically, and mentally obsessed with  a lover over the course of two years. It isn’t so much about her feelings, but more of her actions and thought process. I understood it to be more of a memoir. I can’t say I have felt or done these things in relation to just one person, but I certainly saw glimpses of myself over the course of multiple relationships. It was fascinating, familiar, and gripping.

Troubling Love by Elena Ferrante. Again, I love her though this wasn’t a favorite of mine. The writing felt cumbersome and disjointed. There is always an element of discomfort and the unexpected in Ferrante’s stories. You come to expect it, and this novel had it as well. I will read anything she writes.

The Story of a New Name by…guess who?…Elena Ferrante. Thank goodness I brought a fourth book because I needed it halfway home. This is the second of four books in the My Brilliant Friend series. I loved My Brilliant Friend and care about these characters, and I continue to feel the same way with The Story of a New Name.

I am currently reading:

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout (of Pulitzer Prize winning note for Olive Kitteridge). I am loving it. Strout has such style. I just get her. If you’ve ever read anything by her, you’ll know what I mean. Like Olive Kitteridge, it induces strong visceral feelings and reactions. I am always on the edge waiting for the other shoe to drop. Call me crazy, but I like that feeling.

Since I should be wrapping this up today, my plan is to start The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Now this is supposed to be cray-cray! Don’t know what’s going on with me, but I am craving unstable characters these days!

I want to get my hands on:

Felicity by Mary Oliver and Forty Rooms by Olga Grushin. But before I do that, I need to finish up H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, which is sitting right next to me.

That’s me! What are you reading? Any recommendations?


My Name Is Lucy BartonMy Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just like her writing. She leads us gently through the dynamics of a mother/daughter relationship, and others of equal importance, without ever hitting us over the head. We get to do the discovery. The epitome of subtlety.

View all my reviews

Monday, February 8, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (2/8/16)

Hosted by The Book Date!

Some weeks are better than other, for reading and, really, for life in general. Last week was fantastic all-around!

I finished reading…

The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter. I picked up this book because I adored his collection of short stories. I was not disappointed. It reads like interconnected vignettes with character’s weaving though everyone’s story. Life in a small college town might just feel that way.

The Portable Veblen by Elizabeth Mckenzie. This book came out a few weeks ago, and after seeing it on so many "must read" lists, I couldn’t resist. It is quirky. Describing it as “unique” and “fun” does not do it justice. It is so much more than that. Clever and amusing and charming book.

Dream Work by Mary Oliver. This was my second poetry collection by Oliver so far, in life and in 2016. I actually sought out this one first, before her Pulitzer Prize winning collection American Primitive, because of one poem. It is called Wild Geese. A year ago September, I attended a community yoga class in Millennium Park here in Chicago. There were yogis of all shapes, sizes and abilities. The air was crisp and the sun shining bright. As the class began, we closed our eyes to reflect and the teacher recited Wild Geese. The moment was fleeting and I remember loving the words and wanting to hear them again. During our final resting pose, she read the poem once more. And then again more slowly so that we could take them in. Needless to say, I ran home and “Googled” the poem. 

The rest is history, and I am in love with Mary Oliver. I want to see life/things through her eyes and express myself half as eloquently, lusciously as she. I can’t imagine it will be too long before I get my hands on Felicity.

All three books mentioned above receive two enthusiastic thumbs up from me!

I am currently reading…

The other day, I mentioned three half-finished books that I want to complete before moving on to others. I don’t know if I am actually able to do this because I have an idea already in my mind as to which books I’d like to take on vacation, but it’s worth a try.

  1. H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald.
  2. Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker (of theater, movie, and Weeds fame)
  3. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Today, I am planning to wrap up Dear Mr. You

Next up…

I fairly sure I am taking The Story of a New Name (My Brilliant Friend, Book 2) by Elena Ferrante with me to wherever it is I am going, which I still do not know three days out and it is still driving me crazy. It’s 480 pages, but I will definitely take another two just in case.

Okay, bring on your reading recommendations!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Half-Finished Books...

  1. H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
  2. Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker
  3. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

I will not pick another book until I finish these. I will not pick another book until I finish these. I will not pick another book until I finish these. I will not pick another book until I finish these. I will not pick another book until I finish these. I will not pick another book until I finish these. I will not pick another book until I finish these. I will not pick another book until I finish these. I will not pick another book until I finish these. I will not pick another book until I finish these. I will not pick another book until I finish these. I will not pick another book until I finish these. I will not pick another book until I finish these. I will not pick another book until I finish these. I will not pick another book until I finish these. I will not pick another book until I finish these. I will not pick another book until I finish these. I will not pick another book until I finish these. I will not pick another book until I finish these. I will not pick another book until I finish these.

I Tried To Ply Him With Wine

So I plied my husband with wine last night with the express intent of garnering any information I could with regard to the before mentioned trip on which we are to depart next week. (Did you know I just used “with” three times in this sentence? Best to pull out my Thesaurus next time I come to write.) 

You see, he has this cute little thing he does when he’s hiding something or telling a white lie. It is a smirk along with the slightest flaring of his nostrils. It is a never fail, telltale sign. (Blogger’s note: This dude does NOT lie (or well)!). Dang it, if he didn’t do it once, which means he’s either been practicing how not to do it, or I didn’t hit any nails. 

My first try, after the first glass of wine, made mention of Zika; the flu-like virus transmitted through mosquito bites and sex. I said I should probably load up on bug spray just in case. Nothing.

After the second glass of wine, I pursued the clothing angle. I told him I didn’t have any swimwear at home, and he’d have to swim alone if there were beaches or pools involved. He didn't seem concerned. Just to cover my bases, I threw in that I didn’t have any ski clothing laying around either. They're all in our storage unit. Nothing!

After the third glass of wine…Listen, a girl’s got to try everything! NOTHING!

I actually thought I could snag him someway, somehow. He’s tight as a drum! Even my best friend, who didn’t behave as if she’s on “Team Gina” when she declared he should withhold all information until within a 24-hour window, won't budge. Either!
I don't know if I can handle it. I have five days until I know something, I think. I don't know if I can handle it. Maybe I’ll come up with some tricks to pull out tonight. Because I don’t know if I can handle it. 

In truth, I want to know, and I don't want to know.

Thursday, February 4, 2016


"I don't want a peaceful,  "perfect" little
sweet-charmed, fairytale fantasy.
:I want a real life.:
A gritty, juicy real life,
dripping with truth, filled with
disappointment and not-so-pretty
Sarah Harvey


100 Word Challenge: Long Married Couple

rooted in the blessedness of routine
there’re seldom mysteries anymore 
like a child’s gender until her first breath
days, months, years soldier march
waffles, grilled cheese, spaghetti 
broken records of the same thousands 
of moments life slides by on its way 
somewhere kids outgrow things
while you misplace you believing
the contentment of life in the ordinary

when one day

Hints are Purposely Left 
To a Secret but Disbelieving 
His stealth That’s not Him and 
You’re Insane because You 
Thought you Knew 
Everything But you have no Idea 
Where he’s Taking you
Though you're Certain
It's two Tickets to Paradise 
100 Word Challenge
Hey! Click on the 100 Word Challenge badge right there and join in the party! Thanks, Tara, for being our new spot to play. I really have no idea where I am going, or packing instructions, and I am going crazy not knowing. He pulled one over on me!

Monday, February 1, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? (Fast and Furious Addition)

Thanks to The Book Date!

So here’s the scoop fast and furious. 

I have finished:

Since finishing A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara last week, which was a BIG book in every way imaginable, I needed something to balance my brain from it. So I chose The Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter. Walter also wrote Beautiful Ruins, which left me lukewarm. However, this book was so much fun. Hilariously depressing. Akin to novels by Joshua Ferris, but Walter came before. It had a wee bit of a Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas style, too.

American Housewife by Helen Ellis. I said this about it on Goodreads:

“This is a hard one to rate as I have read quite a few short story collections, which I felt more feelings for. That said, some stories are so outstanding! Ellis has such a cool voice. I really like "The Wainscoting War", "Dumpster Diving With the Stars" (Woo hoo!), "Hello! Welcome to Book Club", "The Fitter", and "How to be a Patron of the Arts". The first half stories felt fresh and unique. I feel bad, though, saying the second half seemed so similar. Nothing unique. Even observing this, I had so much fun with this collection. I have been and am an American housewife.

3.5 stars!”

What am I currently reading?

The Story of a New Name (The Neapolitan Novels, #2) by Elena Ferrante. If you haven’t started this series, DO! I love everything she has written. I’ve been hanging on to two of her other novels,Troubling Love and The Lost Daughter, for almost a year. Since they are short, I intend to bring those on a secret vacation next week. Why secret? Because I have absolutely no idea where I am going. Hubby says he will give me “climate’ for packing purposes two days out. WHAT? 

That’s me! What about you?