Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Published June 2012 by Crown Publishing Group
Source: this one is mine - I bought it at Dragonfly Books in Decorah, Iowa
From The Publisher:
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick Dunne’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River.
I picked this one up last summer, thinking I was going to read it immediately during the height of its frenzy. And then I didn't. I don't know why. When one of the Omaha Bookworms suggested it as a book club suggestion, I knew it was time to pick it up. The best part of waiting? I will actually be able to discuss it with other people.
This book has so many twists and turns to it, so many surprises, that it is all but impossible to give you any more of a description than what I've given you without starting to give away little clues. That made it impossible to discuss on a blog or Twitter. If you're old enough to remember the movie The Crying Game, this book is that movie's book equivalent. No one talked. Which was great going into the book. But I really, really want to talk to someone about it now!
My only real quibble with Gone Girl (and, I suppose, it's a pretty big quibble) is that I had to work pretty hard at times to buy into some of the plot details and I was frustrated by the ending. But the ride to get there was just so much fun that I had to get over it. If you're going to enjoy the book, you'll have to be able to do that.
Monday, May 20, 2013
I've knocked off a few more pins this past week, working my way toward trying to get to at least eight things done. There's really no point in pinning all of those great ideas if you're never going to do anything about them, is there?
Last fall, when I put together a Missouri board in advance of our anniversary trip, I pinned Kauffman stadium, home of the Kansas City Royals. It was too late for baseball but I haven't been to a game there in years and thought it would be fun to go again. In April, we got lucky and The Big Guy won four tickets to a Royals game (with reserved parking which was great!). Since I haven't been to any other stadiums in 15 years, I can't say how this stadium fares against others but with it's trademark water feature and recently revamped concourse, it was a fun place to be even if you aren't interested in baseball.
Today I tried a new recipe...for bronzer. Made with cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa powder and cornstarch, I liked the idea that it was all natural and that the color could be tweaked by adding more or less of each ingredient.
|My finished product|
Yesterday I tried an easy fix for damaged woodwork. Mix 1/4 cup canola or olive oil and 3/4 cup vinegar. Dip a cloth in the well-blended mixture and rub on the woodwork. The vinegar allows the oil to spread then evaporates. The windows in our kitchen nook need to have the woodwork refinished after 17 years of sun and moisture but for now this was a quick, easy and cheap fix.
Next up, I'm back into the kitchen...or the garden. I've found some great ideas to pin for gardening lately!
Sunday, May 19, 2013
What a week - Sunday evening my heater kicked on, Tuesday we had to turn on the air conditioner. Had to. It reached 100 degrees, setting a record. Twelve days ago it snowed.
Mother's Day = plant shopping in our house so we've spent a fair amount of time this week getting flowers and herbs into pots and vegetables into the garden beds. I'm already dreaming of freshly picked tomatoes!
I finally got around to writing another article for Omaha.net. Got my writing mojo back a few months ago but didn't find the inspiration for my next article until I read an article recently about the demise of the actual book.
Here's What I'm:
Listening To: Alternative 80's on Pandora - think Tears for Fears, Flock of Seagulls, and Depeche Mode.
Reading: In my car, I'm about half done with The Thirteenth Tale. I'm really enjoying this one. I've been a little ADD in my actually book reading. I'm still working on Bunker Hill but find I can only read so much of it at a time so I'm also reading Patti Callahan Henry's and then i found you.
Making: I made a pasta salad the other night. I love to do this in the summer and just use whatever meat and vegetables I have on hand. I try to make a big enough batch that we can use it as a side dish or for lunches later in the week.
Enjoying: Baseball - or rather the experience of sitting at the ballpark. Friday night we went downtown and watched the Creighton Blue Jays play. Creighton is a university that sits on the edge of downtown Omaha and plays its home games in the stadium that was built for the College World Series. What a great night it was to sit outside at the ball park!
|My little red wagon of herbs|
Loving: Getting my hands in the dirt, something you will rarely hear me say. I do not, as a general rule, like to get my hands dirty.
Thinking: You should definitely check out this post from Trish of Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity, especially if you ever get to feeling like everyone else is doing it all while you're floundering.
Looking forward to: Book club this week and a lot of meals on the patio.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Published March 2013 by W. W. Norton and Company
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for this review
In this evocative and thrilling epic novel, fifteen-year-old Yoshi Kobayashi, child of Japan’s New Empire, daughter of an ardent expansionist and a mother with a haunting past, is on her way home on a March night when American bombers shower her city with napalm—an attack that leaves one hundred thousand dead within hours and half the city in ashen ruins. In the days that follow, Yoshi’s old life will blur beyond recognition, leading her to a new world marked by destruction and shaped by those considered the enemy: Cam, a downed bomber pilot taken prisoner by the Imperial Japanese Army; Anton, a gifted architect who helped modernize Tokyo’s prewar skyline but is now charged with destroying it; and Billy, an Occupation soldier who arrives in the blackened city with a dark secret of his own. Directly or indirectly, each will shape Yoshi’s journey as she seeks safety, love, and redemption.
When I picked this book to read for review, I didn't know much about it; I didn't read the publisher's summary. In all honesty, I can't recall now what piqued my interest. More and more I'm finding I like to pick up a book this way. Clearly there was something that intrigued me about it originally so I have some idea I might like it but otherwise, I have no preconceived notions.
In fact, the publisher's summary is a little misleading. Epstein has crafted a novel that moves back and forth between multiple third-person narratives. Throughout, she keeps the book moving forward in time as she shifts settings, from 1935 Hamburg, New York to 1962 Los Angeles and gradually begins to intertwine her characters.
I suppose the novel could be called "sweeping" moving as it does through time and back and forth across the Pacific. Curiously, I never felt like I was being swept up in a massive story; Epstein makes the novel very much the intimate stories of the people caught up in the war between Japan and the United States. Without casting judgment, Epstein uses her characters along with many real-life characters to explore the atrocities of war. Having just read The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, I was surprised to find myself back in Manchuria during the Japanese occupation but it also made me not ready to read about the torture of soldiers, a direction I was certain, at one point, the book was headed in. Instead, Epstein gives the reader only what is necessary at that point then moves on, only to smack me down later with the horror of the firebombing of Tokyo.
"Yoshi's last sight of her was like something she'd seen once in an old painting in a temple; something their teacher had called a "Hell Scroll." Entitled The Goods of Heavenly Punishment, it showed a huge fiery demon consuming tiny people limb by limb, surrounded by more flames and staggering, fire-limned figures."
For other opinions, check out the rest of the tour. Jennifer Cody Epstein is the author of The Gods of Heavenly Punishment and the international bestseller The Painter from Shanghai. She has written for The Wall Street Journal, The Asian Wall Street Journal, Self, Mademoiselle and NBC, and has worked in Hong Kong, Japan and Bangkok, Thailand. Jennifer lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband, two daughters and especially needy Springer Spaniel.
Posted by Lisa at 12:18 AM
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Published October 1997 by Knopf Publishing Group
Source: paid to download this one to my Nook
Ti of Book Chatter has been raving about Haruki Murakami as long as I've been following her blog (years now). Recently
Japan's most highly regarded novelist now vaults into the first ranks of international fiction writers with this heroically imaginative novel, which is at once a detective story, an account of a disintegrating marriage, and an excavation of the buried secrets of World War II.
In a Tokyo suburb a young man named Toru Okada searches for his wife's missing cat. Soon he finds himself looking for his wife as well in a netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo. As these searches intersect, Okada encounters a bizarre group of allies and antagonists: a psychic prostitute; a malevolent yet mediagenic politician; a cheerfully morbid sixteen-year-old-girl; and an aging war veteran who has been permanently changed by the hideous things he witnessed during Japan's forgotten campaign in Manchuria.
I'd like to tell you that at the end of over 600 pages, I at least had a concrete idea of what I thought happened even if it had not been what Murakami had in mind. I'm not sure even Murakami knows what happened. As Ti has pointed out, Murakami has admitted that he never knows where a story will end when he begins it. In The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, he seems to have developed several roads he could take his story down and leaves it up to the reader to figure out how each of them plays into the meaning of the book.
I'm left with as many questions...no, more questions...than answers a week after finishing the book. Here's the strange thing. I'm okay with that. What happens in the well? How do the two different well scenarios tie together? What, exactly, happened to Kumiko, Toru's wife? Why does Murakami insert the war stories into the novel? What's real and what is fantasy?
I'm somewhat settled on an explanation that there are dual realities, certain characters being present in both present times with the ability to move back and forth between them. At the same time, I believe there's a time twist to this as well, allowing certain characters to embody the evil from different times and places, for example.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is that Murakami is able to make his readers care about a protagonist who is mired in ennui, intentionally unemployed and blind to what is going on in his marriage. Well, that and the fact that I really, really liked this book even if I had no idea what was going on a good deal of the time and had to skim some really awful war scenes.
Thanks, Ti, for pulling me way out of my comfort zone and hosting a readalong that really got people thinking and talking!