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snippets from books

Anyone who has ever owned or cared for or loved (and who doesn’t?!) a dog, will find this book moving.  {An aside: I often dream about the last dog we owned – Ginger – such a sweet sweet dog we had for fourteen loving years and I miss her to this day.}

A ‘blurb’ on the jacket of W. Bruce Cameron’s novel, A Dog’s Purpose A Novel for Humans:

“Usually when I read a book this brilliantly written, I wish I had written it, but in this case I’m just grateful it was written at all.  For years I grieved and agonized over the choices I made in caring for my dog at the end of her life, but after hearing from Bailey how deeply our dogs feel what we humans go through, I know my dog loved me till the end, and loves me still, as I love her.  This book healed me.” – Cathryn Michon, author of the Grrl Genius Guide to Life

One afternoon I was drowsily watching Sister and Fast yank on a scrap of cloth they’d found when my ears perked up–an animal of some kind was coming, something large and loud.  I scrambled to my feet, but before I could race down the creek bed to investigate the noise Mother was there, her body rigid with warning.  I saw with surprise that she had Hungry in her teeth, carrying him in a fashion that we’d left behind weeks ago.  She led us into the dark culvert and crouched down, her ears flat against her head.  The message was clear, and we heeded it, shrinking back from the tunnel opening in silence.

When the thing came into view, striding along the creek bed, I felt Mother’s fear ripple across her back.  It was big, it stood on two legs, and an acrid smoke wafted from its mouth as it shambled toward us.

I stared intently, absolutely fascinated.  For reasons I couldn’t fathom I was drawn to this creature, compelled, and I even tensed, preparing to bound out to greet it.  One look from my mother, though, and I decided against it.  This was something to be feared, to be avoided at all costs.

It was, of course, a man.  The first one I’d ever seen.

Teaser Tuesday (one sentence)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesdays  participants can add the book to their To Read Lists if they like your teasers!

She had lived in the neighborhood since defecting from the suburbs the week after that funeral, but she generally avoid setting foot inside St. Raphael Cathedral, wary of her ancestors’ brand of piety.

Colleen Smith’s novel, Glass Halo, is a gem.

Nick Bantock (author of the Griffin and Sabine series) writes: “Eloquently bittersweet, Glass Halo takes you through a stained window into a world of shards.”

snippets from books

Marina Endicotts novel, Good to a Fault, was shortlisted for Canada’s prestigious Giller Prize.

Margaret Atwood, who was on the Giller Prize jury, remarked that “There’s heartbreak, there’s joy, there are parts where you cry–and it’s very high-quality writing.”

From the book:

To give herself a clear mind, or else to delay, Clara went to church before going to the hospital.  She slipped in late to the early service and did not genuflect, but crossed herself quickly.  She always felt slightly snooty crossing herself, but her mother had ingrained it in her.  All this ritual was so complicated: whether to sand for communion or kneel, stand or kneel for prayer, fold hands or adopt the charismatic pose, swaying and open-palmed.  Many of the older women, surprisingly, swayed.

It was all superstition, anyway.  Just sitting there, being there, was the essential thing, she had come to believe.  But of course she could be wrong.

The Gospel was Mary choosing the better part, to let the dishes go and listen to Jesus talking in the living room–a reading that always annoyed Clara, although she’d never considered herself a Martha.  What would happen if she let go of the dishes now?  It would be all right, because Mrs. Zenko would do them for her, popping in and out of the kitchen with her bright glance catching everything, tidy little ears priced for the conversation while she got supper cleared up without a wasted movement or a sigh or a fuss.  Occupied with Mrs. Zenko’s holiness, Clara had trouble keeping her mind on the sermon.  Paul Tippett was telling an anecdote.  She wondered if he made them up, since so many were apropos, but that was ungenerous.  Anyone life is full of meaning.  She should have phoned to thank him for visiting Lorraine.

He was contrasting Mary and Martha with last week’s Gospel on the Good Samaritan–she hadn’t consciously heard a word of it, as she sat fretting and deciding.

“A man no one would think of as saintly, a dirty Samaritan, took practical action to save the life of someone left to die by the side of the road.  Today, Jesus scolds Martha for her brand of practicality, and insists that spiritual discussion is more important than putting the supper on.  Why is practicality praised in one case, and in the other, reviled?  I don’t think that’s too strong a word, reviled, for the way we call women Marthas with an edge of contempt, because they are busy in the kitchen feeding the masses.  Jesus himself was good at feeding the masses.  And staying under budget.”

Paul seemed so pleased with this loaves-and-fishes nudge that Clara couldn’t help laughing.  She hoped she hadn’t been too loud.

“The Samaritan acts in a moment of genuine crisis, when no one can see his goodness.  But the flavour of self-importance in Martha’s actions, and her peevishness toward her sister, may be uncomfortably familiar to us when we think of our own acts of goodness and how we look for recognition of our work.”

to sleep or to read??

A good mystery is hard to put down!!

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesdays  participants can add the book to their To Read Lists if they like your teasers!

Two sentences from Bloodroot by Amy Greene:

I didn’t see nothing wrong with John Odom at first, but even if I’d seen that snake coiled up inside his heart I wouldn’t have tried to stop her.  I could tell by her eyes Myra had to have him whatever the outcome.

snippets from books

From his perch on Skull Rock, they looked like pale eggs sunny-side up moving just beneath the water’s surface.  Some kind of jellyfish.  Half a dozen, pulsating vigorously through the black surf like muscular parachutes.

Odd.  Jack Koryan had spent several summers of his childhood out here and could remember only a few occasions seeing jellyfish in the cove, mot of them washed ashore by the night tide–dinner-plate-sized slime bombs with frilly aprons and long fat tentacles.  But these creatures were small round globs, translucent jelly bells with noting visible in trail.

Maybe some tropical species that the warm water brought in, he thought.

Jack watched them pump by in formation, driven by primitive urgings and warm eddies.  Somewhere he had read that jellyfish were ninety-five percent water–creatures with no brains, bones, or blood.  What enabled them to react to the world around them was a network of nerves.  What a lousy fate, Jack thought–to relate to the world only through nerve endings: a life devoid of thought, passion, or memory.

Writer Joseph Finder (New York Times bestselling author of Paranoia) writes that “Gary Braver’s Flashback combines an irresistible premise with the medical intrigue of Robin Cook and the scientific plausibility of Michael Crichton–a powerful, gripping, and moving tale with a beating heart.”

 

NOTE:

What do jellyfish and your brain have in common? Scientists at the 2010 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Honolulu report that the jellyfish protein apoaequorin may improve cognitive function in people who have memory problems.

snippets from books

Melanie Rae Thon writes that “If Evan S. Connell, William Faulkner, and Norman Maclean had been born as one person, he might possess the extraordinary gifts of Bruce Machart.  The Wake of Forgiveness is a wild, Godforsaken cry delivered in language so lush we cannot stop listening.  The dazzling velocity of Machart’s prose bears a tale redemptive and resonant as myth, insistent and intimate as breath in the body.”

From the book:

The horses, they’re beautiful, though no longer the most beautiful in Lavaca County, and they don’t work the fields.  They race, they rest, they eat, they mate, and they race.  That don’t pull a plow.  That work Vaclav leaves to his four sons, and when Guillermo Villasenor drives his two Spanish-bred stallions and three olive-skinned daughters up the farm-to-market road from town, and when the carriage clears a thick stand of mesquite trees with arthritic branches and thorns long enough to skewer a foot in a way only careless barefoot boys and Jesus might fully appreciate, and the girls get their first glimpse of their future husbands, what they see, instead of blond-haired and handsome Czech farm boys, like they’ve been told by their father to expect, are weathered young men straining against the weight of the earth turning in their wake, their necks cocked sharply to one side or the other, their faces sunburned despite their hats and peeling and snaked with raised veins near the temples, their boots sliding atop the earth they’re sweating to unearth.  The four of them work harnessed two abreast in front of their father; who’s walking in their work, one foot in each furrow, spitting stained juice between his front teeth and periodically cracking a whip to keep the boys focused and the rows straight.

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Shanghai Girls by Lisa See

May and I have no intention of getting on that boat.  We couldn’t even if we wanted to because I threw away the tickets, but our parents don’t know that.

snippets from books

Which is the proper response to a written invitation?  When introducing couples what name is given first, the gal’s or the dude’s?  When does a man take his hat off, and why is he wearin’ one anyhow?  What is the usual hour of the day to start passing the jug around at an informal wine-tasting party?  Does shrimp cocktail call for this fork or that fork or some other goofy utensil you never heard of and wouldn’t recognize if the First Lady stabbed it into the back of your  ******* hand?

Jamalee had acquired a great thick dilapidated and somewhat dampened book of manners, and the book smelled like a cotton picker’s hatband.  She spotted lessons in that volume and tossed them before us, and we three snuffled after the kernel of meaning.  The main idea was that we should each of  shed the skin that limited us, the social costumery we wore that communicated our low-life heritage at a glance, and adopt a new carriage and a routine of manners and that air of natural-born worthiness that the naturally born worthy displayed.

“We weren’t raised with decent values,” she said.  “We’ll have to memorize some on our own.”

Jamalee needed to borrow a desert of hot sand and scour it through our skulls so we could start over with scrubbed-clean skulls and build uncrippled brains to stock anew with useful thoughts and habits and intentions.

This process went on over a span of days.

Jamalee would bow her tomato head, dive into the warped pages of that book, then trot out more protocol you couldn’t imagine ever needing to know.  She was teachy around many themes: learn this, taste this, become that different thing.  She wanted us to become “civilized,” which I think to her meant to ape the quality folks right down to spittin’ at our own shadows.

Tomato Red by Daniel Woodrell

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

“She’s got that Carraway melancholy.  Bennett Sr. might be the one that put the gun to his head, but they’re all geared that way.”

Balls by Nanci Kincaid

Teaser Tuesday

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I had at once pushed back the bedclothes and tiptoed into my mother’s room–and there sure enough had found her staring at the ceiling all glassy-eyed and with her throat cut.

Wish Her Safe at Home by Stephen Benatar

snippets from books

“Now we’ll start this band of robbers and call it Tom Sawyer’s Gang.  Everybody that wants to join has got to take an oath, and write his name in blood.”

Everybody was willing.  So Tom got out a sheet of paper that he had wrote the oath on, and read it.  It swore every boy to stick to the band, and never tell any of the secrets; and if anybody done anything to any boy in the band, whichever boy was ordered to kill that person and his family must do it, and he musn’t eat and he musn’t sleep till he had killed them and hacked a cross in their breasts, which was the sign of the band.  And nobody that didn’t belong to the band could use that mark, and if he did he  must be sued; and if he done it again he must be killed.  And if anybody that belonged to the band told the secrets, he must have his throat cut, and then have his carcass burnt up and the ashes scattered all around, and his name blotted off of the list with blood and never mentioned again by the gang, but have a curse put on it and be forgot, forever.

In Notebook #35, Mark Twain wrote: “In those old slave-holding days the whole community was agreed as to one thing–the awful sacredness of slave property. To help steal a horse or a cow was a low crime, but to help a hunted slave, or feed him or shelter him, or hide him, or comfort him, in his troubles, his terrors, his despair, or hesitate to promptly betray him to the slave-catcher when opportunity offered was a much baser crime, & carried with it a stain, a moral smirch which nothing could wipe away. That this sentiment should exist among slave-owners is comprehensible–there were good commercial reasons for it–but that it should exist & did exist among the paupers, the loafers the tag-rag & bobtail of the community, & in a passionate & uncompromising form, is not in our remote day realizable. It seemed natural enough to me then; natural enough that Huck & his father the worthless loafer should feel it & approve it, though it seems now absurd. It shows that that strange thing, the conscience–the unerring monitor–can be trained to approve any wild thing you want it to approve if you begin its education early & stick to it.”

“A door is just an idea.”

Florida people were generally used to storms.  Most people had stories to tell about hurricanes or tornadoes or floods at least.  there was a strange excitement in the danger.  Not much bravado, just an acceptance of the perils of nature as the divinely inspired way of things.  People facing storms had the opportunity to contemplate their lives, to prepare for the possibility of death — which most likely would not happen — but the exercise was a good one.  It made people grateful instead of bitter.  Afterwards, even if everything was ruined, you could feel good just being alive.  Spared is what people would say they were.  Spared mean chosen, special, with purpose.  How many people could say that about themselves?  It was like something to look forward to.

We played cards by candlelight late into the night.  Gin.  Mother mostly won.  Sowell’s heart wasn’t in it.  He wasn’t paying attention.  Even Wade could beat him.  We ate carrots and pickles and slices of white bread with preserves.  The food in the refrigerator had begun to spoil.  It was beginning to put off a smell.

The thunder was insistent, like door knocking that would not let up.  It seemed about making us let something inside — and we didn’t want to.  We refused.  The early thunder was almost polite, distant and just as comfortable as hearing your name called at suppertime.  But the later thunder had lost all patience, given up on convincing us and decided to threaten us, like a maniac who’d knock the door down by banging his head against it if he had to.  It made me know instead that we don’t always get to decide what we let and what we keep out.  A door is just an idea.

As Hot As It Was You Ought to Thank Me by Nanci Kincaid

snippets from books

One of the ladies hanging garlands laughed.  “It’s easier with the second one, isn’t it?  By the time you’ve had four, you’re satisfied just to keep them all fed, diapered, and bathed.  Mine were eighteen months to twenty-two months apart.  it seemed like I never would get through washing diapers.  Every day, another load of diapers.  We had that old wringer washer, and I’d sand there and churn that thing, and churn that thing, then wring the diapers, and hang the diapers, and in the meantime, the children would be tearing up the house, or running in the mud hole, and here I’d go again.”

Wanda giggled along with her.  “My mother used to put the babies in those long dresses, and when she had work to do in the kitchen, she’d pick up the table leg and set it down on the end of the baby’s dress.  That way she’d know right where we were.  Of course, she married at seventeen and had seen, so she had to do something.”

. . . Driving the winding road to town, I thought of how it must feel to be unable to do the things you’d done all your life, how frustrating it would be to have to ask for help when you were accustomed to doing for yourself–as if you were a child again, only as a child you know you’ll grow out of your problems.  For Grandma, the problems would only grow larger, the list of forbidden activities longer, the need for help greater.  She was like a prisoner in a cell with the door slowly being boarded shut.

Rage against the dying of the light.

Now I understood those words.  Grandma was angry with the passage of time more than she was with us–frustrated with her own body, and the fog in her thoughts, and her doctors telling her what to do, and her children trying to take away what was familiar.


. . . “My daddy hung on to those horses for a long time after we had tractors.”  She sounded just like Grandma.  In the amber light from the fire, she looked like Grandma Rose in the pictures.

“It nearly killed Grandpa to see those horses go,” Grandma added as she came into the room.  She sat on the other side of Aunt Jeane and touched the picture with trembling fingertips.  “He kept horses for years after all the other farmers around here had given them up.  Oh . . . and,Kate, your father wanted so badly to get rid of those animals.  he was all for the newest machinery.  Said it wasn’t efficient to have those horses sanding here eating when they weren’t any use anymore.  But Grandpa hung on.  When the tractors would get stuck in the mud, he would smile at your father and tell him to go hook up the team, and here those horses would come, prancing across the field, so happy to have something to do.  Grandpa would hook them on the tractor, and there they would throw themselves into the harness and pull the tractor right out.  Grandpa would smile at your dad and throw his hands into the air and say how there were still some ways that horses were better than that new machinery.”  Throwing her head back, she laughed, her eyes cloudy with the mist of memories.

Tending Roses by Lisa Wingate

Lisa Wingate graduated from Oklahoma State University with a B.A. in Technical English. She lives on a small ranch in Texas with her husband, Sam, and their two young sons.

snippets from books

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It is always exciting to discover a new author.  The Swimming Pool had a lot of twists and turns and Holly LeCraw kept me guessing; this was a Fast Read and I enjoyed it.

In the crumbling palazzo in Florence where she had grown up, the revered ghosts had been the only men in the house, and her mother and grandmother had been conspicuously incomplete.  They were together only for her, for Marcella.  If only, if only, they frequently said, their bodies said, their very gestures–futile grasping hands, sighs, all speaking of unending lack.  If only the men hadn’t left them–one in war, the other in a car accident, two commonplace stories that struck them as spectacularly tragic.  All the hope in the house had landed on her, on Marcella.  Someday, she would find a man to complete her, and them; it had been her birthright, her only task.  But sometimes Marcella imagined they looked at her with narrowed eyes, as if they doubted her capacity to succeed.

When she had met Anthony, then, right after her mamma died, she had felt weak with relief.  He was so clearly the goal for which her mother and grandmother had prepared her–so handsome, so sure, so fearsomely complete him himself!  Men, the di Pavarese men she had never known, had been wondrous creatures, and it had seemed that Anthony Atkinson could stand with them.  Love had seemed not a matter of comfort, but something much more august.

forget the movie Ghostbusters – Teaser Tuesday

Posted on

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Solving the following riddle will reveal the awful secret behind the universe, assuming you do not go utterly mad in the attempt.  If you already happen to know the awful secret behind the universe, feel free to skip ahead.

John Dies @ the End by David Wong

Teaser Tuesday

Posted on

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.

Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesdays  participants can add the book to their To Read Lists if they like your teasers!

We think, in our youth, we are the center of the universe, but we simply respond, go this way or that by accident, survive or improve by the luck of the draw, with little choice or determination on our part.  Years later, if he had been able to look back, Coop might have attempted to discern or reconsider aspects of his or Claire’s or Anna’s character, but when he had waved back to them, standing in the afternoon sunlight, Anna and Claire were interchangeable, one yellow shirt, one green, and he would not have been able to tell who wore this or that color.

Teaser Tuesday

Posted on

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other Teaser Tuesdays  participants can add the book to their To Read Lists if they like your teasers!

I’ve only read a few pages of Good for the Jews by Debra Spark.  It promises to be a good read.

It made a difference that he had once been here.  To his family, yes, but also to her, a stranger whose life brushed his.

what are you reading?

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Jean Rhys:

Reading makes immigrants of us all.

It takes us away from home,

but more important,

it finds homes for us everywhere.

I just started reading Helen Simonson’s novel Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand and am enchanted.  It is well written.  It is charming and I’m looking forward to each page . . . each chapter (but I doubt I will want the book to end; it is one of  ‘those’ books).

From the jacket:

You are about to travel to Edgecombe St. Mary, a small village in the English countryside filled with rolling hills, thatched cottages, and a cast of characters both hilariously original and as familiar as the members of your own family.

An  excerpt from the book –

It was nice, he supposed, that Jemima’s friends had come to support her.  They had created a little clump in the church, taking over several rows toward the front.  However, he was at a loss to imagine why they had considered it appropriate to bring their children.  One small baby had screamed at random moments during the service and now three children, covered in jam stains, were sitting under the buffet table licking the icing off cupcakes.  When they were done with each cake, they slipped it, naked and dissolving with spit, back onto a platter.

Ford County by John Grisham

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I’ve enjoyed all of John Grisham’s novels (actually I thought that A Time to Kill was his best – but then I’m not a literary critic).

His collection of short stories – Ford County – has provided some very pleasurable reading hours.  There is humor; there is tragedy; there are some very memorable characters in these stories – and I couldn’t wait to get to the next story  – and then the next story – and hated for the stories to end.

Just a snippet:

from Quiet Haven
My first glimpse of Quiet Haven reveals a typical 1960s flat-roof, redbrick run-down building with several wings and the general appearance of a dressed-up little prison where people are sent to quietly spend their final days.  These places were once generally called nursing homes, but now the names have been upgraded to retirement homes and retirement villages and assisted-living centers and other such misnomers.   “Momma’s at the retirement village” sounds more civilized than “We stuck her in a nursing home.”  Momma’s at the same place; now it just sounds better, at least to everyone but Momma.