I am linking up to the Sunday Post hosted by Kim of Caffeinated Book Reviewer and The Sunday Salon (TSS) hosted by Deb Nance of Readerbuzz where participants recap our week, talk about what we are reading, share any new books that have come our way, and whatever else we want to talk about. I am also linking It's Monday! What Are you Reading? hosted by Kathryn of Book Date where readers talk about what they have been, are and will be reading.
February was a very wet month in my part of the world, with lots of rain and strong winds. Then this past Wednesday, it snowed--an extra rare occurrence. Okay, so maybe it was really graupel, which is not snow exactly, but is more like little pellets created when water freeze on falling snowflakes. It's much softer than hail and is sometimes called snow pellets. So, for this Southern Californian, my family, and all of my neighbors who rarely experience snow except for admiring it on the on the distant surrounding mountain tops (or when we visit said mountains), we are holding onto our delusion that it was snow.
Unfortunately, February also brought illness our way. My mom came down with COVID, which I was not a big surprise considering how it was running rampant through the community where she lives. Luckily, she only had a mild case. My husband, daughter and I all caught colds, which seemed to linger awhile. Mouse ended up having to miss one of her Girl Scout cookie booth days, but she made up for it last weekend, working two booths at our assigned store. Armed with umbrellas and warm coats to combat the freezing weather, we were better just in time to attend the open house at the local middle school that was held for incoming seventh graders. We had been on the campus before for Mouse's band concerts last year, but this was the first time we were able to visit different classrooms, meet a handful of the teachers, and get a feel for the campus. I think we all came away feeling a little less anxious (although not entirely) about the transition from elementary school to middle school. At least for now.
How the Word is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America by Clint Smith
A Perilous Undertaking (Veronica Speedwell) by Deanna Raybourn
My TBR List is hosted by the awesome Michelle at Because Reading. It’s a fun way to choose a book from your TBR pile to read. The 1st Saturday of every month, I will list 3 books I am considering reading and let you vote for my next read during that month. My review will follow (unfortunately, not likely in the same month, but eventually--that's all I can promise).
I could use your help deciding which book to read next! I went with a ghost theme this time around. I did not realize how many ghost themed books I have! I narrowed it down to these three because they appeal to me most right now. Which of these three books do you think I should read next? Have you read any of them? If so, what did you think? I can't wait to see which book you select for me!
The Sentence asks what we owe to the living, the dead, to the reader and to the book.
A small independent bookstore in Minneapolis is haunted from November 2019 to November 2020 by the store's most annoying customer. Flora dies on All Souls' Day, but she simply won't leave the store. Tookie, who has landed a job selling books after years of incarceration that she survived by reading with murderous attention, must solve the mystery of this haunting while at the same time trying to understand all that occurs in Minneapolis during a year of grief, astonishment, isolation, and furious reckoning.
The Sentence begins on All Souls' Day 2019 and ends on All Souls' Day 2020. Its mystery and proliferating ghost stories during this one year propel a narrative as rich, emotional, and profound as anything Louise Erdrich has written. [Goodreads Summary]
Welcome to Charon's Crossing.
The tea is hot, the scones are fresh, and the dead are just passing through.
When a reaper comes to collect Wallace from his own funeral, Wallace begins to suspect he might be dead.
And when Hugo, the owner of a peculiar tea shop, promises to help him cross over, Wallace decides he’s definitely dead.
But even in death he’s not ready to abandon the life he barely lived, so when Wallace is given one week to cross over, he sets about living a lifetime in seven days.
Hilarious, haunting, and kind, Under the Whispering Door is an uplifting story about a life spent at the office and a death spent building a home. [Goodreads Summary]
Fade to Black is the newest hit ghost hunting reality TV show. Led by husband and wife team Matt and Claire Kirklin, it delivers weekly hauntings investigated by a dedicated team of ghost hunting experts.
Episode Thirteen takes them to every ghost hunter's holy grail: the Paranormal Research Foundation. This brooding, derelict mansion holds secrets and clues about bizarre experiments that took place there in the 1970s. It's also famously haunted, and the team hopes their scientific techniques and high tech gear will prove it.
But as the house begins to reveal itself to them, proof of an afterlife might not be everything Matt dreamed of.
A story told in broken pieces, in tapes, journals, and correspondence, this is the story of Episode Thirteen — and how everything went terribly, horribly wrong. [Goodreads Summary]
Thank you for voting!
March brings breezes loud and shrill,Stirs the dancing daffodil. [excerpt from "The Months" by Sarah Coleridge]
Below are a few snippets from poems that particularly moved me. I love the imagery of winter and the hope of spring to come that many of these poems speak of.
The trees are bare, the sun is cold,And seldom, seldom seen;The heavens have lost their zone of goldThe earth its robe of greenAnd ice upon the glancing streamHast cast its sombre shadeAnd distant hills and valleys seemIn frozen mist arrayed.[excerpt from "The Blue Bell is the Sweetest Flower," verses 3-4, by Emily Bronte]
★ ★ ★
Another day awakes, And who -Changing the world - is this?He comes at whiles, the winter through,West Wind! I would not missHis sudden tryst: the long, the newSurprises of his kiss.[excerpt from "West Wind in Winter" by Alice Meynell]
★ ★ ★
Bending from Heaven, in azure mirthIt kiss'd the forehead of the Earth,And smiled upon the silent sea,And bade the frozen streams be free,And waked to music all their fountains,And breathed upon the frozen mountainsAnd like a prophetess of MayStrewed flowers upon the barren way[except from "To Jane: The Invitation," verses 11-18, by Percy Bysshe Shelley]
★ ★ ★
How shall we open the door of SpringThat Winter is holding wearily shut?Though winds are calling and waters brawling,And snow decaying and light delaying,Yet will it now move in its yielding rutAnd back on its flowery hinges swing,Till wings are flappingAnd woodpeckers tappingWith sharp, clear rappingAt the door of Spring.[excerpt from "The Door of Spring" by Ethelyn Wetherald]
Do any of these snippets speak to you too? Have you read any poetry recently that you would recommend?
So far I have read the first three stories in this collection. "My Mother's Wedding Day" by Tessa Hadley was interesting. It is the story of a young woman on the verge of adulthood, set on the day of her mother's summer solstice wedding to a much younger man. Jane and her family lead an unconventional life--even the wedding will be atypical--and Jane is figuring out how she fits into the world. I really liked "My Mother's Wedding Day" and could see the same spirit in Hadley's Jane as Jane Eyre herself, even if the two stories are very different from one another.
Next I read Sarah Hall's "Luxury Hour" which is about a new mother who gets away for about an hour a day to swim and take some much needed time for herself. On this particular day, she runs into someone from her past and the memories come flooding back. A different time and life. An affair. While it was well written, I was not enamored with this story, admittedly.
My favorite of the three is Helen Dunmore's "Grace Poole Her Testimony" which was wild. Dunmore's portrayal of Grace Poole, an employee at Thornfield Hall. As much as I love the novel Jane Eyre (and the character), this take on the characters was truly inspired. The story is written from the viewpoint of Grace and so it is all about her impressions of Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester. I have no illusions about Mr. Rochester being a romantic hero, even as much as I love the novel, but he's even less likeable in this short story.
★ ★ ★
In the most recent issue there was an article about iyashikei manga by Katie Gill, a librarian and podcaster. I asked my husband and daughter who are much more in the know about manga, and neither had heard of it before. It's a type of manga in which there isn't much conflict and is low on tension. I can see why Katie Gill is drawn to this type of manga. There are times when all I want to do is read low stake novels. I will have to give iyashikei manga a try. Two examples given were The Flying Witch by Chihiro Ishizuka and Girls Last Tour by Tsukumizu, which my daughter has said she wants to read now that she knows about them. So, we may start with those!
Maggie Neal Doherty's article "On Not Marrying Our Books" is very relatable. She references reading Anne Fadiman's essay "Marrying Libraries" in Fadiman's book Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader. I remember reading that one too. Maggie and her husband decided not to mix their books, which I can completely understand. My husband and I did decide to merge our collections, and it was challenging at first. Especially when we came to duplicates because we each wanted to keep our own copies. But we did it. And that was that. For awhile. Our personal library today is not so much filled with his books as it is quite a bit more filled with mine; and we both have separate shelves that are strictly are own in another part of the house. I suppose that makes us somewhere in between Anne Fadiman and Maggie Neal Doherty--and still very much married.
What short stories have you read recently? Do you subscribe to any bookish magazines? Have you read any interesting articles or essays recently?
Mouse is reading the first in the Five Kingdom's series, Sky Riders by Brandon Mull. She had to take a brief break from it when she realized her copy jumped from page 152 to 185 and then double printed thirty-two pages--definite a printing error there. Has that ever happened to you? She now has a new copy and is enjoying it very much. On the manga front, Mouse is reading volume twelve in the Promised Neverland series by Kaiu Shirai and illustrated by Posuka Demizu.
She recently finished The Third Door by Emily Rodda. She thought the ending was a little bit confusing and said it was overall an okay read. She liked the first two books in the trilogy better.
What have you watched recently?
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