Hillbilly Elegy

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Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance is the book that my book club decided to read this month. The wait list for this at the library was astronomical; I think I was number 456 for the book, and 594 for the audio version. The subtitle for this is “A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis”. That should give you a hint that this is going to be about a life story, with a bit of the culture of that family tossed in. Nope.

There was passing mention of his family and life as a child/teen/young adult, but most of this was a socio-economic commentary on the state of what he called working-class whites. His writing primarily focuses on the steel mills, and those who worked there. Statistics abound in this book, there are several reference notes for each chapter.

This is not what I think of when I think of a memoir, I think of the stories that people tell when they go home for Christmas. Most of them start with “remember when”, or “tell me about the time”. There were a few of those in this book but not a lot and for myself I would rather have more of the story than of the basis of the facts.

One thing that made me angry about this book was when he partially blamed his grandfather’s alcoholism on his grandmother’s behavior. Could that have been a factor on why the man drank? Maybe, however, that is not always the case nor it is always a deciding factor.

If you are looking for facts on Hillbillies read this book; if you want to know about a young hillbilly’s life, look for another one.

Read-a-Thon

For a few years now I have been participating in the Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon. This past year I have been unable to participate because I lacked the technology to. This April however I am once again able to read for a day.

There is a lot of prep as a reader that takes place before the event. First a reader has to sign up, that is the easy part. There is a group on Goodreads for Dewey, and there is a thread where a person can share where and how they are going to share what is going on that day.

One thing that I do as well as others is create a TBR pile. A list of books that I hope to read or start reading on that day. Sometimes I stick with that and other times I do not, it all depends on my mood.

I can say that I will have plenty of coffee and snacks on hand for the day. This is one of the days where I block out the time and just read. I do take breaks as getting up and moving is important. If you want to know more or join here is the link for Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-Thon. 

Journey to the Center of the Earth

I read this book a long time ago and then watched all the movies. I had forgotten how much of a  difference there was in the movies compared to the book.  I will admit that I audio read this book; I have a 30 to 40 minute commute and I have found that listening to books or podcasts makes the drive much more tolerable. I am not going to put a link to this book up because this is one book that is easy to find everywhere.

The version that I had borrowed from the library was read by Simon Prebble and even he had a bit of difficulty with the Icelandic names. When Jules Vern wrote his 54 Extraordinary Voyages he tried to be as accurate as possible  on the scientific theories of the day, keeping in mind that this book was written in the 1860’s. That means that much of the science is no longer accurate, and in many cases it has been disproven.

There are three characters in this book: Axel, Professor Liedenbrock and Hans.  Axel is the one who tells the story of this adventure, Prof. Liedenbrock is his uncle, the one who instigates the travel, and Hans is just someone they pick up in Iceland as a guide.

Reading this today I had forgotten how class and privilege were all-prevailing. The two women mentioned in the book stay home and take care of the house, and Hans is seen as nothing more than a servant because he is not of good German stock. I know that 153 years ago the outlook was different on women and on people who were not “their” people. I had just forgotten how much of it there was, how blatant this could be, and how subtle as well.

It is slow to start, the place where there is the most action is brief. I would recommend reading this to see what was popular in sci-fi 150 years ago. However, if you want this to be an action thriller, stick with one of the movies.

Good Omens The Nice and Accurate Prophesies of Agnes Nutter

Confession time everyone ready? I do not like Neil Gaiman books. I know I can hear the screaming now. In another honest confession I audio read this book. I think if I were to have tried to read it myself I would have ended up abandoning it.  I do not know when Terry Pratchett was diagnosed with I am sure that is was after this book was written but I could be wrong.

Now before we go on I will say that I have tried to read several of Mr. Gaiman’s books. I tried American Gods, one about people living underground in London, and the one I did manage to finish was about a boy living in a cemetery.

On to Good Omens The Nice and Accurate Prophesies of Agnes Nutter but Mr. Pratchett and Mr. Gaiman. Because I read this while driving, I do not have quotes to attach to this post for that I am sorry, there were a few good lines in there.

It is the end of the world or is it? Armageddon is coming, and there is no stopping it. At least according to the Powers that be. That is it, that is what the book is about. I wish that the authors would have spent more time on Agnes Nutter and on the demon Crowley they are the two who seemed to me to have the most promise and depth.

For being a Pratchett book I only laughed out loud twice. I don’t really have more to say about this book.

Alys By Kiri Callaghan

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First a disclaimer: I know Kiri, however she does not know that I am writing this review. Knowing Kiri I also know that she would want my honest opinion, and not some fluff that I were to write just to make her happy.

Many people who will read this book will see the Alice in Wonderland\Midsummer Night’s Dream theme in it. I loved all of the Shakespeare references in this book, they tied in very well with the world that had been built to tell the story. The blending of the Fae and of the dream world fit seamlessly. Her idea of what the Fae world looks like sounds like somewhere I would want to go for a vacation.

I am not so sure about Terra Mirum, that is the land that Alys goes to where she meets the prince Oswin, Smoke, Robin, and a few others. I would like to know more about the characters of Smoke and Robin, from what little we find out about them, I bet they had a most fascinating life in the Fae. I want to know how Robin met Basir, how Smoke got away from the Fae.

I should talk a bit about Alys and Oswin, but I am not sure that I can without giving away the plot of the book. Oswin comes into his own in this book, but he has more room to grow. Alys seems to be about the age of 19 or 20 when all of this takes place and she overcomes much in this book.

I do have a confession to make – I read Alice in Wonderland and did not like it. I tried to read Through the Looking Glass and managed to get just a few chapters into it but they are not my favorite.  I read Alys in a day and enjoyed it very much. This book has a subtitle that included the word “Chronicles,” that means there will be more. I want them out now so I can read them now.

QUOTES

“When you know where you’re going, you’re almost certain to get there sooner or later. However, when you’re lost, you never know what you’ll find! It could be quite an adventure.”

“Desperation makes fools of us all, my dear.”

 

An Update With a Small Change

Just a few words for an update, yes I am still here. I have hit a reading slump, and to get out of that I have to read a few fun things while I work on getting my next book. I want to read one from Azerbaijan this is proving to be very difficult to find the one that I want to read.  I want to read The Dream of Death by Vagif Sultanly and I am going to have to order it.

What this means at least for me is that I am going to have to read a few books that I have had on my list for a while and read those to get out of this reading funk. I have decided that I will blog about the books that I read to get out of this funk here as well.

The other good news is that I have gotten a new computer so I can start posting photos of the book that I take! I am so excited about being able to do that again. My goal is to have one book finished and blogged about by Wednesday.

Annie John (Antigua and Barbuda)

Annie John written by Jamaica Kincaid had me at the first sentence. I suppose that this book could be called a “coming of age” story. When the book starts Annie John is 10 and on the last pages of the book she is a young adult. This book focuses on the relationship that she has with her mother and is written in a clear and concise language that I found refreshing.  Sure there is more to this book teachers, friendships, stealing if you can call it that. There is the gap of growing up and learning different world views then that of a parent.

I did not learn a lot of the history of the Island however, I did get to read a bit about the conflict of old and new. One parent believed in modern medicine the other in the Obeah women. I do believe that some healing is spiritual I know it will not get rid of a cold or help appendicitis, however I do know that for some stresses the peace that a person gets from the routine of a religious ceremony can help.

QUOTES

“For a short while during the year I was ten, I thought only people I did not know died.”

“After reading a book, whether I liked it or not, I couldn’t bear to part with it.”

“My unhappiness was something deep inside me when I closed my eyes I could even see it.”

Factory of Tears (Belarus)

I will admit that this book breaks my self imposed rules, this is not a work of fiction or a memoir. This is a book of poetry. Factory of Tears is written by Valzhyna Mort, I just love her name.

This is a book where the English translation is on the facing page of the Belarusian. I loved this, as I love seeing how one language compares to English, and Belarusian is biased on Cyrillic it is beautiful.

One of the things that I read over and over about the author is that while her written poetry is amazing, her spoken word is even better. I am one who always thought that poetry should be read aloud with the tones, and inflections that the author hears in their voice when writing.

This slim volume covers many subjects marriage, music, books, and family just to name a few. The poem titled “In memory of a book” was my absolute favorite. The last poem is where the book gets its title, the poem is called Factory of Tears, and it speaks of crying until there are callouses on the eyes. It struck me as sad, and yet hopeful.

QUOTES

” And light up the candles of our TV sets” for A.B

“This isn’t how you glue a broken cup” marriage

“Everything belongs to me but hope” Music of Locusts

The Fledgling (Bahama)

OMG, this was such a cute little book. I do not know why more people don’t have it on their radar to read. I do know that it is hard to find, but with inter library loans it should not be that hard.

The Fledgling by Chester Thompson, tells the story of a boy who spends his early years on an island without power, telephones, or any other modern continence. The book starts out with his birth, and continues until he leaves the Island for a new life.

The town that he lived in was called Hope Town, and he ran all over it like a boy should. After a few years he went to live with an aunt and uncle, and the way it was described I thought he was being sent off the island, not just a half a mile away. It was his aunt that created his love for books, but she did it with out knowing. Her first husband was a teacher, and for punishment he was locked in a closet, with all of the books. While she thought he was being punished he was exploring new worlds.

Living on the sea there was death in the book. However, I am one who thinks that we need to face and openly talk about death and not hide it. I found this to be very refreshing. One thing that he did tell about in the book was they time he and a friend decided to become thieves. They were going to steal watermelons from a farmer. I wont tell you what happened but it did have me chuckling.

QUOTE

“Remember, there is an advantage in every disadvantage, if you look for it.” he said.

First They Killed My Father (Cambodia)

In a few of the books that I have read on this journey, I have found that some of the authors are writing about a time that I have lived in. One book was in the 1980’s, and much of what was written had a similar feel to it as my childhood. Not so this book, First They Killed My Father was written by Loung Ung.

As I read this book I realized that the author and I are the same age, she is just 2 months older then I am , the vast difference in our childhood shook me. I am not naïve enough to think that war does not effect children. I have just read something that for a twist of fate could have been the life of my family. When she was nine she was fighting for survival, I was watching cartoons. She was trying to keep her family alive, I was trying to learn multiplication. As I read this book I could not make up my mind if I would have survived the Khmer Rouge like she did, or if I would have been one who would have been lost in the forests.

Loung Ung was 5 years old when she had to leave her home and fight to survive in the villages, and work camps. She was trained to be a child soldier in a work camp for orphans, her siblings went to labor camps, and it was not until the regime fell that she was reunited with what remained of her family.

After I read this book I looked up Loung Ung to see what had happened to her. This is the first book about her life, and I did find out that she went on to become a spokesperson for Campaign for a Landmine Free World. This book is being adapted into a Netflix movie coming in 2017. I for one will try to watch the movie, but I do not know if I will be able to. For some reason I really related to her story, even though it was not my life, it was not something that I had to live through.

QUOTES (because of the way this book affected me and how close we are in age, I am putting they year that she had written theses quotes under.)

“Still, it is hard to think of anything else. Hunger eats at my sanity.” (1975)

“To hope is to let pieces of myself die.” (1976)

“I live with forty others, but I am so alone in this world.” (1977)