All posts by Marie

I love reading; practicing yoga; traveling; spending time outdoors skiing, hiking, running, swimming; and most of all I enjoy spending time with family and friends. I am a mother to 3 young children and my background is medical. Find me at http://www.book-chatter.com

T5W: 5 Novels Set Outside the Western World

  1.  A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – This epic novel is set in 1920’s & 1930s Moscow, Russia.  Count Rostov is under house arrest in the Metropol Hotel.  He has a great many friends and acquaintances through whom the reader learns of what is happening outside the hotel walls.  My Review.
  2. The Temporary Bride by Jennifer Clinic – This is a travel/food/love memoir written by a woman who quit her corporate job to pursue her passion for cooking authentic dishes indigenous to various different regions.  She travels to Iran in hopes of working in various kitchens and learning the secrets to their special dishes.  My Review.
  3. Things We Lost in the Fire:  Stories by Mariana Enriquez – This is a collection of stories that take place in various different places within Argentina.  These horror stories highlight the brutalities from the Dirty War that lurk just beneath the surface of everyday life.  My Review.

4.  The Association of Small Bombs by Karan Mahajan – This novel is written from alternating perspectives.  Set in India, it shows the mindset and emotional condition of both the bombers (the terrorists) and the bombed (both surviving victims and the families of the deceased).  It shows the futility of these small bombs in effecting change.  It also shows the futility of the families in effecting any action against the bombers.  My Review.

5.  Born a Crime:  Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah  – This is Trevor Noah’s memoir written as a collection of essays about his experiences growing up in South Africa, son of a black woman and white man under Apartheid – a literal crime.   Full of humor, love and grit, it is an amazing book.  My Review.

 

This is my second T5W post.  If you are interested in learning more about this Goodreads group, click here.  This week’s topic was Books that are set outside of the Western World.  In choosing which books to post, I chose geographically diverse regions and limited myself to books I’ve read within the past year.  How does one define the Western World, you might ask.  The scope of the Western World varies greatly depending on what criteria one uses to define it.  It has been defined on the basis of politics, economics, culture, spiritual beliefs and history.  I decided to go with the following modern-day definition (by way of map).

Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang ~ Book Review & Discussion Guide

Pages:  320

Expected Publication Date:  August 1, 2017

Format:  E-book from netgalley

 

 

 

 

An intense collection of stories, each one told from the perspective of a young girl living in NYC in the 1990s with parents who had immigrated from Shanghai.  The stories demonstrate the manifestations and aftermath of the trauma experienced by the parents in Mao era China and the varying coping mechanisms they utilize.  Some parents drink excessively, others work such long hours such that they almost never see their children, while others cannot get enough of their children and are by their sides at all times.  One father is physically abusive to his wife while another has an endless string of girlfriends.  There is a grandmother who feels the only worthy thing in life is being a mother, so attempts to become the mother to her grandchildren, confabulating about the days when she breastfed them.  She demands that they love her to an extreme.  These are stories that show how the horrors of a generation (the Chinese in 1960’s China) affect future generations of children (American-Chinese growing up in NYC in the 1990s.)

It is about the children of immigrants in a country where English is not their primary language.  It is about the interaction of these girls with both their families and the outside world.  One girl is made to go back to ESL classes with each move and new school district, even though she has placed out them them repeatedly.  There is an intensity to childhood friendships, a pushing and pulling, a competition that feels far more negative than positive.  The stories delve into the girls’ exploration of their bodies and developing understanding of sex.  It is often vulgar and disturbing.  The emotional aspect of keeping up with peers about sex and foul language is a weight on some of these girls.  The language the children use, both in conversation with each other and with their parents,  is often angry and vulgar.  There is desperation and depression felt through these characters.  These girls are coming of age, learning about themselves and their bodies, learning about their place in the world.  It is all at once confusing, disastrous and exciting for them.

In addition to portraying 1990’s NYC, the author offers glimpses of the year 1966 in China, when schools were out and children ran wild.  The children were given the freedom and power to turn on any adult, accuse them of being counterrevolutionary, and proceed to torture and even kill them.  One disturbing scene had a teacher tortured while tied to a tree by her students out of revenge for shaming one of the students in school.   Anyone could be named counterrevolutionary.  Particularly, anyone who wore their hair long and loose, anyone thought to be an intellectual, a member of the bourgeois class… or simply as a personal vendetta.

The writing is marvelous.  Jenny Zhang is a masterful storyteller.  However, the content is graphic.  It is often horrifying, disturbing and seemingly distasteful. There is no sugar coating on these stories.  These stories are full of grit, grime and dirt.  There is anger, depression, sadness and sometimes joy.  For me, Zhang was a unique original voice.   I am glad I read these stories, but I caution others who might be sensitive to foul language or graphic subject matter.  Sour Heart is the first book to be published with the LENNY imprint, a new imprint, in partnership with Random House, led by Lena Dunham and Jenni Konner.

 

Jenny Zhang, the author, her twitter image

Discussion Guide:

  1.  Do the characters in this book face discrimination?  In what forms did it manifest?  Who feels self hatred because of race  and why?
  2. Explain the title of the novel.  Which character is referred to as sour?  Why do you think she is this way?
  3. Many of the characters in this novel are searching for ways to be love or people to love them.  Why is this such a strong theme within this book?
  4. How do you think most of the characters felt? What was their emotional state of mind?
  5. These stories are all told from the female perspective.  Would you describe the writing as feminist?  Why or why not?
  6. Zhang does an excellent job illustrating various experiences of Chinese American families in NYC in the 1990s.  How does she portray/sterotype other races (Dominican, Caucasian, Taiwanese, Hispanics, Blacks) within her stories?
  7. Did you feel that the vulgarity within this book was over the top or genuine to the experience?
  8. What is the motivation for Lucy’s mother to take Frangie in?  How does Lucy retaliate?
  9. In many of these stories there is a competition to be loved most.  Why do you think Annie’s mother needs to be the center of attention and feel the most loved?  Why is this also true for Stacy’s grandmother?
  10. Discuss the evolution of Jenny’s relationship with her brother and how this changes with age.
  11. Mande’s parents have a physically abusive relationship.  Mande and Fanpin become friends because of their mothers.  Why do you think Fanpin becomes domineering over Mande?
  12. What do you suppose happens after Mande’s mother gets pushed out of the car?  Do they go back for her?  Does she survive?
  13. Discuss some of the self destructive behaviors exhibited by the characters in these stories.  Why are these characters becoming self destructive?
  14. We know that the author was born in Shanghai and grew up in Queens.  In one story the protagonist is Jenny.  In another, the family name is Zhang.  How autobiographical do you think these stories or any one story might be for the author?

 

Jenny Zhang’s website

Interview with Jenny Zhang by Charlotte Shane in Medium

Kirkus Review of Jenny Zhang’s Sour Heart

T5W: Five Fabulous Female Protagonists in Children’s Picture Book Series

  1.  Olivia by Ian Falconer – Olivia is a girl (illustrated as an adorable pig) who is ready to try anything and everything.  She dreams big, wears others out and eventually wears herself out.  These stories are about family dynamics, joyful growing up years and wonderful adventures. The books are beautifully illustrated, whimsical, and witty.  Olivia is a character to love and read repeatedly.
  2. Eloise by Kay Thompson and Hilary Knight – Ooooooooooooooo I absolutely love this book series so much!  It is written in the stream of consciousness style of a 6 year old girl talking without any  punctuation.  Eloise (the 6 year old girl)  lives in the Park Plaza Hotel and has many adventures within it.  Nanny is her mostly companion, but her turtle, Skipperdee, and dog, Weenie, join in on the fun as well.  These books contain much humor, engaging even & sometimes even more so,  the adult reading the book.  I recommend this series to young and old alike!
  3. Fancy Nancy by Jane O’Connor and Robin Preiss Glasser – Fancy Nancy is a character who loves accessories and glamorous ones at that.  She believes in dressing up and in educating her family on the importance of style.  She teaches the reader exciting  new vocabulary as she instructs her family.  She is an independent thinker with much creativity and spirit.  A delightfully fun read with outrageously imagined illustrations!
  4. Ladybug Girl by David Soman and Jacky Davis – Ladybug Girl (Lulu) and her sidekick Bingo go on many adventures together in this series.  Lulu is a courageous, imaginative girl.  When cloaked in her ladybug girl costume she feels capable of taking on new adventures and solving problems.  Beautifully written, sweet stories with charming illustrations to enjoy time and time again.  
  5. My Name is Not Isabella by Jennifer Fosberry – This is a series about a girl who daydreams that she is famous women from history.  Her mother will speak to her and she will respond, “My name is not Isabella” and she will explain who she is at that moment in time & history as she sets about to do something in the spirit of that heroine.  This continues until bedtime when Isabella becomes the Mommy extolling all of Mommy’s virtues.  At last Isabella is herself,  and Mommy recounts all of Isabella’s virtues which are a compilation of the virtues of the heroines she has been imagining to be throughout the day.  It is an excellent book about strong female role models for young girls and a reminder of the part they played in history.  At the end there is a biography of all the heroines mentioned to delve further into their role in history.   This could be a great teaching tool and bonding book for mothers and daughters. There is a lot contained within this small book and it leaves plenty of room for discussion and further learning.

 

This is my first time participating in Top Five Wednesday (#T5W).  If you are interested in learning more about this Goodreads group, click here.   This week’s topic was children’s books which seemed too broad, so I chose my own niche within that.  What are your favorite fabulous female protagonists of children’s picture books?  Please share!

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles ~ Book Review & Discussion Guide

Pages:  462

Published:  September 6, 2016

Awards:  Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Historical Fiction (2016)

Format:  Audiobook

 

 

This was a gorgeously written book reminiscent All the Light We Cannot See in the beauty of its writing and the descriptiveness of its prose.  Count Alexander Rostov has come before a tribunal in the year 1922 because of a controversial piece of poetry written back in 1905.  If found guilty of inciting action against the current Bolshevik regime through the writing and distribution of this poem, which he is,  he could be killed or sent to Siberia.  However, instead, he is  placed under house arrest.  As he had been living in the Hotel Metropol, this is where he will remain.  Upon receiving his sentence he is moved up to a small room in the attic and out of his luxurious suite.  He must  choose among his belongings which to take with him.

After the tribunal, the Count seems to shrink himself away and even contemplates suicide briefly,  However, very soon he returns to life again and the reader begins to know the real Count.  The Count is first and foremost a gentleman.  He is a man of intellect, with exquisite manners and refined tastes, a loyal friend, and a man who believes in doing things the right way.  He is charming and charismatic.  He is a man to love throughout this novel.  When he takes on a task, he does it to his utmost ability.  Once he has come to terms with life within the confines of the hotel, it becomes a mini city for him.  Young Nina, the Eloise of the hotel, becomes his tour guide creating a playground of the landscape.  Willowy Anna Urbanova becomes his lover.  He begins to work in the Boyarski, one of the hotel’s restaurants.  He develops close relationships with Emil the chef, Andrey the matre’ d, and Vasily the concierge and they begin to have nightly meetings together.

It is within the confines of the hotel, that the Count must view Russia, the war and it’s changing political landscape.  His friend Mishka from school visits off and on, and seems to suffer from the changing times.  Nina, an idealist and thinker, grows up and marries.  She returns asking the Count to care for her daughter, Sofia,  while she seeks out her husband who has been taken away.  These are just a couple of the Count’s visitors through whose eyes the Count must view the outside world.  The Count while under house arrest for these 30 years, actually seems to be the  one who has been privileged.  He has escaped World War II.  He has escaped the replacement of a Tsarist aristocracy with Bolchevism.  Within the Hotel, the Count gains privilege as the head waiter of the Boyarsky.  He sets table arrangements for members of the Communist party and gains access to their conversations.  At the same time he is secretly councils one of the high ranking Soviet apparatchik in American and European language and culture.

There are many developments and twists as the story evolves, so I will say no more. It is an excellent book with well developed characters and interesting historical backdrop.  I listened to this, however, I would have much preferred to have read it.  Given the lengthy descriptions, I found myself tuning out at times and thinking of other things.  This is a novel that demands a lot of attention.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Discussion Questions:

  1.  Why do you think the Count was ordered to house arrest rather than a more severe punishment?
  2. What does Nina teach the Count?
  3. How do you think the Count was able to get away with meeting all the various people that he did?
  4. Who wrote the poem for which the Count is arrested?  Why do you think the Count protects his friend?  Why does he feel that by protecting his friend, he was actually the more protected?
  5. Describe life for Mishka during the Count’s 30 years in the hotel.  Compare and contrast this with the Count’s life.
  6. Why are the wine labels removed?
  7. Why do you think the Count is allowed as much autonomy as he does under house arrest?  Do you think this is realistic?
  8. What qualities make the Count a gentleman?  How do society’s negative connotations of aristocracy compare to the positive qualities of a gentleman?
  9. Why do you think Casablanca the Count’s favorite movie?  What does it suggest about the Count’s perception of his situation?
  10. Discuss the Count’s role as a father.
  11. At one point, the Count is accused of keeping all of his eggs in separate baskets.  Explain this.
  12. Discuss the scene on the rooftop with the beekeeper.
  13. Why is the reader asked to remember Prince Petrov?  How is his role important towards the end of the book?
  14. Discuss the ending of the book.  Where do you think Sofia and the Count will end up living?

 

Craig Taylor’s New York Times Review

Amor Towles Website

LitLovers Discussion Questions

Penguin Random House Discussion Guide

 

milk and honey by Rupi Kaur ~ Book Review

Pages: 204

Published: November 4, 2014

Format:  Paperback Book

 

 

 

 

this is the journey of 

surviving through poetry 

this is the blood sweat tears 

of twenty-one years 

this is my heart 

in your hands 

this is 

the hurting 

the loving 

the breaking 

the healing 

– rupi kaur

What a lovely collection of poetry that contains so much depth, beauty, love, pain, insight, wisdom and kindness!  It was amazing to me how much emotion, feeling and wisdom could be contained in so few words.  There is so much empowerment contained within this collection:  of women, femininity, and race.  While reading this, I wanted to be absolutely alone with the book without fear of interruption, so I could fully focus, digest and enjoy these poems.  The poem above is featured on the back of the book and is a brief synopsis of the book.

The poetry in this collection is divided into 4 segments.  The first labelled “the hurting” touches on topics of rape, sexual abuse, and abusive parenting.  It describes feelings of emptiness and suppression, however, also the ability to transcend the hurt with kindness.  It describes the fractured relationship left as a result of abuse.  “The loving” portion is about hope, qualities of a lover, love making, women’s bodies and sex.  “The breaking” is about heartbreak, games young lovers play, the bitter aspects of relationships, and relationships that break you down or want you to be someone you aren’t.  Rupi Kaur speaks of intense extremes of feelings and emotions.  Finally, “the healing” is about loving yourself, the strength within oneself, being contented with being alone.  It is about loving one’s own female body in it’s most natural form and all of the way it functions.  It’s about the power of vulnerability, openness and kindness.  It’s about celebrating and supporting other women’s successes rather than their failures.  It is about celebrating feminine beauty in all its different colors, shapes and sizes.

Beautiful, kind, loving!  The sketches throughout this book are perfect and add to the poetry, almost seeming to be poetry in and of themselves.  I highly recommend this to every woman, especially the late teen and twenty-something set.  I recommend buying the actual book, to enjoy the words, the sketches and probable re-readings.

Rupi Kaur is a Canadian who has created a lot of attention for herself through the use of social media (#poetryisnotdead).  She was born in Punjab, India and moved to Canada at the age of 4.  Not speaking any English, she was inspired by her mother to draw and paint.  In 2014, Kaur self published milk and honey,  however it was so popular that a publishing company picked it up and republished it in 2015.  Kaur posted a picture on Instagram in March 2015 of herself in bed with a menstrual stain on her sweatpants as part of a project aimed at destigmatizing menstruation.  Instagram removed the photo and others in the series, which Kaur argued proved her point.  Instagram later restored the picture, saying it had been removed by mistake.

 

 

Rupi Kaur’s website

 

TTT: Top 10 Favorite Books I’ve Read in 2017, So Far…

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created by The Broke and The Bookish.  Anyone can play..  just check out their site for the weekly theme.  This week’s theme is favorite reads of 2017 thus far.  Mine are listed below, each with a short synopsis, date of publication, and a link to my review.  Have you read any of these?  Did they rate as one of your favorites?  I would love to hear about your favorite reads of this year too!  Please share.

  1.  Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout (April 25, 2017) – A novel  of short stories.  These interconnected stories are about people who all grew up in the same rural town.  
  2. The Refugees by Viet Than Nguyen (February 7, 2017) – A novel of short stories of or pertaining to refugees from Vietnam in the 1970s.
  3. The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker (January 31, 2017) – A novel of friendship and the power of art to illuminate, transform and heal the past.
  4. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemmingway (1929) – A beautifully written book about an American serving in the Italian army during WW1.  A beautiful love story as well.
  5. We Shall Not All Sleep by Estep Nagy (July 4, 2017) – A beautifully written book about two families with homes on an island off the coast of Maine and interconnected histories that finally come together over a period of days.
  6. The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti  (March 28, 2017) – A story of a father daughter relationship and a coming of age story.  This is a story of triumphing over the past and becoming a hero. 
  7. Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez (February 21, 2017) – A collection of horror stories that bring to mind the horrors of Argentina’s Dirty War lurking just beneath the surface of normal life.
  8. I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh (November 9, 2014) – A crime thriller with great character development and a couple of unexpected twists.
  9. Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World has Never Seen  by Christopher McDougall (January 2009) – An inspirational book about running and how we are meant to run.  We have evolved to be runners and cultures such as the Tarahumara who continue to run as part of their culture do so with joy and without injury throughout their entire long healthy lives.
  10. Ill Will by Dan Chaon (March 7, 2017) – Dark psychological thriller alternating between different viewpoints.

The Drive: Searching for Lost Memories on the Pan-American Highway by Teresa Bruce ~ Book Review

Pages:  320

Published:  June 13, 2017

Format:  E-book care of Netgalley

 

 

 

 

“It isn’t practical, my quest to find my rolling childhood home and say a thirty-years-too-late goodbye to a four-year-old-boy.”

This is a memoir of Teresa Bruce who travels the Pan-American Highway in an avion camper with her husband Gary shortly after marriage.  This trip mirrors the trip that Teresa went on as a young girl in 1974 with her parents and her sister 2 years after the death of her younger brother.  The ultimate goal of the trip is to find the camper that her family had travelled in and eventually sold before heading home.   Ulterior motives include recollecting memories, exploring South America, reconnecting with people whose paths they crossed 30 years prior, understanding her parents better, and coming to terms with her brother’s death.  She seems particularly interested in learning about her parents’ motives and grieving process during this journey.  She does not recollect her parents talking about the death of her brother or even mentioning his name.  It is obvious when meeting people along this journey that her mother spoke to others very much about her dead brother, a realization that surprises the author.

To me, this journey felt very foolish.  Both trips contained near death experiences.  The travelers were pitted against corrupt police demanding bribes.  The travelers made poor choices.  For instance, Teresa brings a gun along, which haunts her the entire trip. They are continuously embarrassed by their apparent flaunting of wealth in their Avion with American plates as they drive through poverty stricken regions.  The writing is disjointed, the characters are coming undone…  So, for me, it was a tedious unenjoyable read.

The journey begins after a visit to Teresa’s home and parents.  What I couldn’t understand was why Teresa never engaged her parents in conversation about the past rather than decide to relive this journey, that for her, didn’t seem enjoyable the first time.  I took a chance on this book from netgalley knowing that I needed to read a travel memoir as part of the BookRiot 2017 reading challenge.  I almost gave up so many times.  I’m surprised that I actually read to the end.  The writing felt disjointed.  It read like diary entries that had been slightly reworked with some facts and tidbits thrown in about the history & geography of the area that didn’t necessary fit with the driving themes of the book.


Map of the Pan-American Highway from Brilliant Maps

 

 

 

 

 

Photo of Teresa Bruce, her husband Gary, and her dog, Wipeout, who accompanies them on the trip until her death in front of the Avion.  Picture taken from the Facebook page for “The Drive.”

 

TTT: 10 Running Books I’ve Recently Added to my TBR (to be read) List

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week it is about 10 books in a particular genre that you’ve recently added to your TBR list.  I recently read Born to Run and loved it.  I found it very inspiring and it has changed my whole perspective on running.  Born to Run by Christopher McDougall is probably the most acclaimed and  most widely read book on running out there. Not only does it have great running tips within it, but it is a fascinating story.  As I’ve been running more as a result of that book, I had added other running books to my TBR list hoping to give added inspiration and motivation to continue running.  Have you read any of these?  Did you enjoy them?  Are there any other running books you’ve read and enjoyed?

  1.  Ultramarathon Man: Confessions of an All-Night Runner
    by Dean Karnazes – a memoir of a ultra-marathoner
  2. An Accidental Athlete: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Middle Age by John Bingham – a memoir of an unlikely marathoner
  3. Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek, Steve Friedman – a memoir of Scott Jurek’s running experiences and whole food plant based diet

4.  What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami, Philip Gabriel (Translator) – acclaimed contemporary writer talks about the effect running has had on his writing
5.  Confessions of an Unlikely Runner: A Guide to Racing and Obstacle Courses for the Averagely Fit and Halfway Dedicated
by Dana L. Ayers – humorous memoir of an unlikely runner6.   My Year of Running Dangerously by Tom Foreman – a memoir of a man who, at the age of 51, rekindles his love for running7.  Running Like a Girl by Alexandra Heminsleya memoir of a woman in her 30s who turns her life around with running8.  Running with the Mind of Meditation:  Lessons for Training Body and Mind by Sakyong Mipham A book about incorporating mindful meditation into running to take it to the next level9.  Night Running: A Book of Essays about Breaking Through by multiple authors – a book of essays on running focusing on the power of running to make us feel more and see our lives in a new perspective, with an emphasis on female voices.10.  Run the World by Becky Wade – a memoir by Olympic hopeful about exploring the geographic world of running and unique cultural approaches to it

We Shall Not All Sleep by Estep Nagy ~ Book Review & Discussion Guide

Pages:  288

Expected Publication Date:  July 4, 2017

Format:  E-book from netgalley

 

 

 

 

I thought this book was quite brilliant, very literary, and highly intriguing.  It takes place over a few days, however, there are flashbacks to earlier times such that the reader gets a much longer and larger view into the lives of the characters.

The setting is July 1964 during the era of McCarthyism on Seven Island in northern Maine.  Seven is a fictional island home to two very wealthy families whose history is interconnected dating back to  the 1700s.  In present day, each family owns a beautiful house on the island, one yellow and one white.  There is a barn for the animals and outbuildings for the staff, all in bright red.  The Hillsingers are in one house and the Quicks are in the other.  Interestingly, although their histories are connected and the men of these houses married two sisters, their lives have been very separate until these 3 days spent on the island where past and present collide.  There is a huge cast of characters which includes  Billy Quick, Jim Hillsinger, their immediate families, their guests, and the staff.  Within each chapter past and present are described  and the narration jumps from one situation to another.  At first I found this confusing and difficult to track, but fairly quickly on, I had figured out who was who and reading this book was like watching a movie unfold.  It really had a cinematic quality of switching from one scene to another as in a movie.  I can’t compare this quality of the book to another like it, it seemed quite unique.  The effect was tantalizing and compelling, making this a very quick read.  The storyline builds and compounds as the novel progresses reaching the crescendo point by the end.

I won’t say much more as I don’t want to give too much away.  I would definitely recommend this book.  It would make a great beach read as well as a great book club choice.  It contains many historical elements without feeling like it is beating you over the head with them.  They simply exist in the book only because they are important to explaining the characters and their situation.    There are no wasted words in this novel.  It is written succinctly, beautifully and intentionally.   However, the reader, needs to pay close attention, or will miss something.  In short, well written, well researched and well worth the read!

Discussion Questions:

  1.  John Wilkie says “Seven Island is impossible.”  What does he mean by this?  Why does lila enjoy this comment?
  2. In the ARC version, lila’s name is not capitalized while the other characters names are.  Why do you think this is?  What effect does it have on the reader?
  3. “We shall not all sleep” is part of 1 Corinthians “Behold, I tell you a mystery: we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed.”  which is also part of the dedication of this novel.  Explain the title and it’s meaning in the context of this novel.
  4. Jim Hillsinger’s father is referred to only as “Old Man.”  Why do you think this is?  Does this have the effect of building him up or diminishing him?
  5. Catta dreams of an eagle dropping out of the sky hunting a rabbit.  Why do you think this it?
  6. Why was it important to Catta to know whether or not the eagles’ nest was a lie or not?
  7. Why was it important for the Old Man to have Catta spend the night on Baffin?
  8. Why does lila find herself now in love with Billy Quick when previously she had merely tolerated him?   What has changed?
  9. In the final conversation between Jim and Billy, Billy is left with the impression that Jim had traded his wife for a list of names.  What do you think the future holds for Billy, Jim and Lila?  Where will there relationships go from here?
  10. Describe the character of James.  Why does he get away with his violent schemes?

TTT: Top 10 Most Anticipated Books to be Published in the Second Half of 2017

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is about books we are looking forward to in the second half of 2017.  This was a fun post for me investigating all the books that are about to come out and getting excited for them!  Which of these appeals to you?  What is on your list?

  1.  We Shall Not Sleep by Estep Nagy“The entangled pasts of two ruling class New England families come to light over three summer days on an island in Maine in this extraordinary debut novel.” – Goodreads.  Expected publication date:  July 4, 2017.

Why? It is interesting sounding debut novel about two WASPish families sharing an island and interconnected history off the coast of Maine.

 

 

2.  Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward“In Jesmyn Ward’s first novel since her National Book Award winning Salvage the Bones, this singular American writer brings the archetypal road novel into rural twenty-first-century America. Drawing on Morrison and Faulkner, The Odyssey and the Old Testament, Ward gives us an epochal story, a journey through Mississippi’s past and present that is both an intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle. Ward is a major American writer, multiply awarded and universally lauded, and in Sing, Unburied, Sing she is at the height of her powers.” – Goodreads.  Expected publication date:  September 5, 2017.

Why?  I’ve not read anything by this author before, however, she has won the National Book Award in the past, and this is being touted as her best work yet.

3. Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang “Centered on a community of immigrants who have traded their endangered lives as artists in China and Taiwan for the constant struggle of life at the poverty line in 1990s New York City, Zhang’s exhilarating collection examines the many ways that family and history can weigh us down and also lift us up.” – Goodreads.  Expected publication date:    August 1, 2017.

Why?  This is a collection of short stories about adolescent girls from China and Taiwan living in NYC. It sounds fascinating.

 

4.  A Catalog of Birds by Laura Harrington“Lyrical and affecting, Laura Harrington has written an artful family drama about innocence lost and wounds that may never be healed. This is a tale of forgiveness: of ourselves, of those we love best. Illuminated by grief and desire, the novel is full of spirit, wonder and the possibilities of the future.” – Goodreads.  Expected publication date:  July 11, 2017

Why?  A novel set in the 1970’s, a family drama that sounds uplifting by an award winning author… yes please!

 

 

5.  High Heel by Summer Brennan“Fetishized, demonized, celebrated and outlawed, the high heel is central to the iconography of modern womanhood. But are high heels good? Are they feminist? What does it mean for a woman (or, for that matter, a man) to choose to wear them? Meditating on the labyrinthine nature of sexual identity and the performance of gender, High Heel moves from film to fairytale, from foot binding to feminism, and from the golden ratio to glam rock. It considers this most provocative of fashion accessories as a nexus of desire and struggle, sex and society, setting out to understand what it means to be a woman by walking a few hundred years in her shoes.” – Goodreads.   Expected publication date:  September 7, 2017.

Why?  This is the only non-fiction book on this list.  It is an essay about high heels and is part of an essay series published in partnership with The Atlantic.  I am curious to see what conclusions the author draws on this subject.

6.  The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld“Three years ago, Madison Culver disappeared when her family was choosing a Christmas tree in Oregon’s Skookum National Forest. She would be eight years old now—if she has survived. Desperate to find their beloved daughter, certain someone took her, the Culvers turn to Naomi, a private investigator with an uncanny talent for locating the lost and missing. Known to the police and a select group of parents as “the Child Finder,” Naomi is their last hope.” – Goodreads.  Expected publication date:  September 5, 2017.

Why?  Rene Denfeld’s The Enchanted  is one of my favorite books.  I’m very excited to read this new novel of hers.

 

 

7.  Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng “When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.” – Goodreads.  Expected publication date:  September 12, 2017

Why? Having really enjoyed Everything I Never Told You I’m really looking forward to this new novel of hers.

 

 

8.  Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan“Manhattan Beach opens in Brooklyn during the Great Depression. Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to the house of a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. Anna observes the uniformed servants, the lavishing of toys on the children, and some secret pact between her father and Dexter Styles.” – Goodreads.  Expected publication date:  October 3, 2017

Why?  I never read Jennifer Egan’s The Goon Squad, but had heard such great things about it.  I’m really looking forward to reading this next novel of hers.

 

 

9.  The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas -“Epic, propulsive, incredibly ambitious, and dazzlingly written, The Resurrection of Joan Ashby is a story about sacrifice and motherhood, the burdens of expectation and genius. Cherise Wolas’s gorgeous debut introduces an indelible heroine candid about her struggles and unapologetic in her ambition.” – Goodreads.  Expected publication date:  August 29, 2017.

Why?  The description alone is thoroughly enticing to me.  Also, the reviews I’ve seen thus far have been glowing.  This is the author’s first novel.

 

 

10.  Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss – “One of America’s most important novelists” (New York Times), the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of The History of Love, conjures an achingly beautiful and breathtakingly original novel about personal transformation that interweaves the stories of two disparate individuals—an older lawyer and a young novelist—whose transcendental search leads them to the same Israeli desert.” – Goodreads.  Expected publication date:  September 12, 2017.

Why?  Having loved The History of Love,  I’m very much looking forward to this new novel by the same author!