I wrote about Freckles and I being sick on last Tuesday. Just as I was recovering from the flu, the husband got it. Of course, since he is a man it was the worst thing that ever happened and he texted me from the ER to let me know that he was sick. There was much self-pitying in that text conversation. I went to work and wondered why women are considered the weaker sex. After all, I had gone about my business after the first day of lying in bed and this man was getting a CT scan because his tummy hurt.
He called me later to tell me the results of his scan. Turns out he has the flu …. and a tumor.
I went into doctor mode and gave him the “needs more investigating and let’s not panic” speech. Then I came home and read his radiology report and panicked. I went into two days of hysterics whenever he wasn’t looking at me. He was still pretty sick so didn’t get around to research until later. Now he says that he should have known to panic earlier because I was being so nice to him.
So, things might be a bit sparse around here for a bit. I’m going to prep next week’s Book Blogger Appreciation and the Love a thon posts now. My brain isn’t really concentrating on reading right now. I tend to find myself staring off into space while my mind runs a million scenarios. I’m feeling much more focused today and less likely to go shattering off into a thousand pieces like yesterday when my brother was nice to me. That’s the worst. Little brothers should not be sending you kind text messages of love and support. When that happens you know things have gone wrong. Complete emotional collapse is unavoidable.
So that’s where we are right now. First doctors’ visits are next week.
Pete McCarthy established one cardinal rule of travel in his bestselling debut, McCarthy's Bar: "Never pass a bar with your name on it." In this equally wry and insightful follow-up, his characteristic good humor, curiosity, and thirst for adventure take him on a fantastic jaunt around the world in search of his Irish roots -- from Morocco, where he tracks down the unlikely chief of the McCarthy clan, to New York, and finally to remote Mc-Carthy, Alaska. The Road to McCarthy is a quixotic and anything-but- typical Irish odyssey that confirms Pete McCarthy's status as one of our funniest and most incisive writers.
It all starts when the author hears that there is still a king of the McCarthy clan. Not everyone agrees that this is a legitimate title but he wants to meet him. The king is hard to find – enemies probably – and lives in Morocco. From there, Pete McCarthy is off to follow the Irish diaspora. He is half-Irish and half-English and grew up in England. His English accent is sometimes a problem in discussions in the most Irish of strongholds.
After Tangiers he travels to New York and attempts to crash the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Then it is off to Monserrat, a small island in the Caribbean that was populated by a large amount of Irish people before an erupting volcano decimated the population. He follows the travels of Irish republicans who were exiled to Tasmania. A few escaped and one became the governor of Montana so it is off to Butte. Finally he goes into the wilderness to McCarthy Alaska to see a town named after the family.
The tone of the book reminds me a lot of Bill Bryson. It is chatty with a lot of history thrown in but in bite sized pieces with the absurd facts pointed out.
In New York:
“Fitness is an overrated virtue in a law enforcement officer. In their way these guys are much more menacing. They’re putting out a subliminal message: ‘Don’t run away. We can’t chase you, so we’ll have to shoot.'”
On the joys of traveling:
“This is what tourists do all over the world. You see a sign for something you’ve never heard of and probably wouldn’t cross the road to see at home, and, bang, you’re there. And then people tell you about other things you ought to go and see. Once you’re in a small obscure are that the rest of the world knows nothing about someone will say, ‘Our big attraction is Satan’s Drain. You really should go.’ So you do. And you develop an interest in geological features and sea levels and all sorts of other stuff you’ve never cared about before…”
On finally reaching the end of the road in McCarthy Alaska:
“There are few more comforting experiences for the traveler than to journey great distances through unfamiliar and threatening landscapes, anticipating an austere and possibly squalid destination, only to discover that catering and interior design are not in the hands of heterosexuals.”
This is a great introduction to Irish history and the influence that the Irish people have had around the world.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
Twitter is my happy place. That’s not something you hear much but my Twitter feed is purposely kept small and curated. It is great collection of book people, authors, and people with liberal viewpoints. Sometimes one person is all three. It is multiracial and multicultural and runs the gamut of most other “multi”s that you can think of. I read my Twitter feed and feel like the world is one big happy place where everyone agrees that the world should and could be better. Just before everyone holds hands for a heartfelt version of Kumbaya…
…I flip over to my Facebook feed.
Oh dear god. I get smacked in the face with the real world again. Here’s how that played out this weekend.
Saturday – I see on Twitter that Beyoncé has a new song. My feed is ecstatic. I’m not immediately interested because I’m not a big music fan but the joy overwhelms me. I watch the video. I get confused because I can’t understand the words. I’m over 40. I haven’t understood the words to a new song in 20 years. So, I go to this very obscure website called GOOGLE and ask. I get an answer. I even get some commentary. I go about my day happy that other people I like are happy.
Sunday – I watch the Super Bowl because Peyton and I were at university together. (He doesn’t actually know that but we were.) I watch halftime. I’m impressed by the marketing mind that had the song released the day before performing it on the biggest stage around. I wish I could dance like that. I wish I had dancers’ legs. I wonder who thought Coldplay was a good idea. Later I laugh appreciatively as I read through the happiness overwhelming my Twitter account. I go to bed and all is good in the world.
Monday – I get up and the first thing on my Facebook is a post wondering why Beyoncé looked so mad. Can’t she make happy music anymore? (Did she ever?) When someone mentions that the post writer isn’t the target demographic for the song, the response is that this person didn’t listen to the lyrics at all. By nighttime when I look again my feed is overwhelmingly angry about it.
To the People on my Facebook Feed
Seriously, ya’ll are making me embarrassed to be white right now. Stop talking.
If at any point you are going to type “I didn’t understand the words” and that isn’t immediately followed by “until I googled them”, stop typing. You aren’t even trying. If you work “but I heard that they were about..” into the discussion you are having your internet privileges taken away for a time out.
I’m not even going to try to explain the difference between the message of the song and the message of the video because life is too short and you aren’t listening anyway.
Let me try to explain how this got through my head. I intellectually understood what people were saying but that didn’t mean that I really got it.
I am a middle aged white woman. When I imagine interacting with police I imagine either being annoyed because I got pulled over in a speed trap or grateful because they are helping me. I don’t imagine them viewing me as a potential suspect. I know I’m not a lawbreaker and I implicitly assume that they will see me as non threatening. Other people do not have that luxury.
This hit home to me when I once heard a father explaining to his white child how to interact with the police. His very first point was, “The police are not your friends.” I was taken aback. In white world that is something unthinkable to tell your children. The message is generally “If you need help, find a policeman.” A moment’s thought made me realize that he was correct though.
This was a nonneurotypical child with violent tendencies. The odds are very good that if he is in a situation involving the police, it is going to be because someone has called them on him. The message for this child has to be, “Be respectful, do what they say, and shut up.” In other words, do what every other minority has to do to try to stay safe in a world where you aren’t automatically assumed to be harmless.
White folks – can you imagine teaching that to your children? Can you imagine having to? If you can’t then shut up, sit down, and listen for once.
He likes to steal earplugs. He takes them off the nightstand and throws them on the ground. Then eventually Freckles eats them if I don’t find them first. We’ve taken to having to hide our earplugs in safe spaces to keep them from him. He’s a quick little bugger. If we don’t put them away immediately, he has them.
So, last Monday morning he was on the nightstand looking for earplugs. I heard a clunk which I recognized as the sound of my fitbit hitting the floor. He took that once before and put 27 steps on it before getting bored. It was early and I didn’t want to get up yet so I ignored him. When I did get up, I couldn’t find the fitbit anywhere. I had been having a pretty stressful week and this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I had a bit of a breakdown that ended with me in the bathroom with Freckles nearby but not making eye contact and Paul sitting at my side petting my leg with his paw like he was worried that I was broken.
Monday night – still can’t find it. Starting to wonder if just maybe Freckles got confused in the dark and ate it before she realized that it wasn’t an earplug. Check computer but it hasn’t updated fitbit.com.
Tuesday – can’t find it. When I come home, Freckles has vomited and seems a bit subdued.
Wednesday – Freckles doesn’t want to go for her morning walk. Get texts at work that husband has come home to lots of vomit and a very lethargic dog. Tell him to bring her to work. Run bloodwork which is fine. I don’t have an xray machine so I run her to an emergency clinic after work to look for my fitbit. She is the only dog there at the time and is having a blast. Everything is about her – as it should be. Xrays show no fitbit. Sorry I suspected you of nefarious dealings, Freckles. So now I’m out lots of money, still don’t have a fitbit, and I have a sick dog. However, her adventures in medicine seem to make her feel much better and she recovers.
Thursday – Freckles feels better. Paul decides the game is over and brings out the fitbit and leaves it in the middle of the living room floor. It has 172 steps on it for Thursday but none for the other missing days.
Friday – Ok, back on track. I have a three day weekend. Gonna get a lot done.
Saturday – And I’m dead. It started at 3 AM. I’ll spare you the gory details but eventually I had a 102.1 fever, which I have to work hard to remind myself isn’t normal in humans. Wiped out for the rest of the weekend. I didn’t eat or drink anything for days. That usually means I’ve gained weight by some mystical process invented by malicious gods.
And that’s why I don’t have a Reader’s Workout post for the week.
Located in a nameless desert somewhere in the great American Southwest, Night Vale is a small town where ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are all commonplace parts of everyday life. It is here that the lives of two women, with two mysteries, will converge.
If you aren’t familiar with the podcast Welcome To Night Vale, here’s the scoop. The story is told by Cecil, the radio announcer at the Night Vale radio station, where being an intern is a fatal position. Night Vale is a place where weird things are normal. The dog park is off limits to everyone, including dogs. The Secret Police are watching and no one believes in angels – including Old Woman Josie who happens to live with several. A scientist named Carlos moved to town to study the weirdness of Night Vale. Carlos has beautiful hair and Cecil loves him.
I’ve only listened to about 8 of the podcasts but it is enough to get familiar with the concept. The book tries to put a plot to the strange happenings. I don’t think that it succeeds very well. I enjoyed this book in brief snippets of 5 to 10 minutes at a time. Longer than that at one sitting and it got to be too much. This is a book that you enjoy for the absurdity of the discussion and not the greater story.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
Enter the world of Mirra. She is a magic user, but her gift is scorned by the menfolk in her village. Men are allowed to use magic; women are not. So, after a tumultuous event, Mirra decides to leave and heads for the City to continue her own self-journey. This is her tale.
Mirra lives on a planet settled long ago by travelers from Earth. Their planet is volcanic and prone to a lot of seismic activity. Mirra’s village is on the coast. The women work as divers who harvest oysters for the meat and the pearls. The men in Mirra’s village are able to work with magic but that skill isn’t developed by women.
As a small child, Mirra finds that she is able to produce magical circles of light from her hands. She is punished for this. That is men’s work. She stifles her talents until one day the Sea Witch, a reviled female magic user from a nearby village, comes to the village to see her. This enrages the men of the village who throw Mirra into seclusion. The consequences of this action are dire. In the aftermath, Mirra leaves and moves to The City to attend a school the Sea Witch is running to learn about her magic.
Of Oysters, Pearls, and Magic is a novella. It is listed as only 79 pages on my ereader and the ebook contains a few short stories at the end from the POV of other characters. It tells the story of Mirra’s life as she is educated and finds love in The City, only to have to leave her home again because of natural disasters.
The setting of this book is a planet settled mainly by Asians from Earth. I don’t think I’ve read anything with that setting before and now I’ve had two reviews of books in a row like that. Also like yesterday’s book, The Stars Change, this story looks at changing family structures. Here people choose to either be single, paired, or a triad. Mirra becomes part of a triad.
Because of the brief length of the story and the many years that pass during it, there isn’t a lot of development of each story point. This reads a lot like a detailed outline for a longer book.
Food is a major part of this story. I didn’t anticipate that when I started the book. Mirra associates home with the taste of seafood stews and oyster fritters. Sharing food with strangers is customary. There are several recipes for the food in the book shared. Most of seafood based so it won’t be something I’m making but there is a recipe for rice balls that sounds tasty.
About Joyce Chng
I am Singaporean. I write SFF and YA. 😉
I also write urban fantasy under J. Damask.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
The Stars Change: an erotic science fiction novel-in-stories. On a South Asian-settled university planet, tensions are rising, and as they reach the brink of interstellar war, life (and sex) continues. Humans, aliens, and modified humans gather at the University of All Worlds in search of knowledge... and self-knowledge... but the first bomb has fallen and the fate of this multicultural, multispecies mecca is in question. Some people will seek solace in physical contact, some will look for spiritual answers, while others will find their strength in community, family, and love.
In the future people from South Asia settle a distant planet. Their descendants have established a prestigious university that attracts students from all over the galaxy. But tensions have been rising for years between humans and nonhumans and now the human supremacy movement has launched a missile into a nonhuman population center.
This story is told starting with short stories that introduce the main characters.
Kimsriyalani – a feline-like nonhuman computer programming student who has sex with a stranger in the park that night
Amara – a human woman who is married to the man Kimsriyalani has sex with. He comes home and tells her and she grabs a bag and leaves him. She doesn’t know where to go. She can’t go home to her very traditional mother.
Narita – a genetically modified human woman who wanted to marry Amara nine years ago. Amara knew her family wouldn’t accept a modified human so she left her and had her mother arrange a marriage. Now she goes to Narita’s house to escape her marriage but Narita doesn’t want to let her in because she is sheltering a group of aliens who were injured in the blast.
Gaurav – a reptilian police officer who is the only one of his kind on the planet. He got stuck here when his planned transport disappeared into a worm hole.
Chieri – a religious prostitute and empath who had a customer tonight who was celebrating the successful missile strike he set off. She goes to Gaurav to report it.
When Gaurav’s superiors don’t believe the words of a prostitute who says that more attacks are coming at sunrise, it is up to these people to follow the clues to stop further attacks.
This is advertised as erotic fiction and it is that in the beginning but as the story progresses that aspect of it falls away. There’s no time for sex when you are fighting for your life. (Yeah, I’m still giving you the side eye Outlander.)
This is a short book and a quick read. It shows how people of various creeds and species can pull together to protect what they love.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
What are my favorite historical settings for books?
You know I’m a sucker for a good regency romance. I love them from Jane Austen all the way until today.
Poland – not in World War II
I’ve been working on finding out more about my Polish roots. I want to find historical fiction that doesn’t focus on World War II. Poland has a rich history before then but it is hard to find books about it.
This is half World War II and half early 2000s but it is such an amazing book that I still recommend it. It is the story of a fictional investigation into war crimes committed in a Polish town. It is based on a true story.
I have these Polish historical fiction books on my TBR.
A panoramic and epic novel in the grand romantic style, Push Not the River is the rich story of Poland in the late 1700s–a time of heartache and turmoil as the country’s once peaceful people are being torn apart by neighboring countries and divided loyalties.
The coming of age diary of a young Polish Countess, Francoise Krasinska who in the space of three years travels from the shelter of her father’s court and becomes the secret consort of the Duke of Courland. In so doing she manages the transition from innocence to awareness in a time of political treachery.
France – turn of 20th century
I like reading stories about the artists of the time.
“Instantly recognizable, Auguste Renoir’s masterpiece depicts a gathering of his real friends enjoying a summer Sunday on a café terrace along the Seine near Paris. A wealthy painter, an art collector, an Italian journalist, a war hero, a celebrated actress, and Renoir’s future wife, among others, share this moment of la vie moderne, a time when social constraints were loosening and Paris was healing after the Franco-Prussian War. Parisians were bursting with a desire for pleasure and a yearning to create something extraordinary out of life. Renoir shared these urges and took on this most challenging project at a time of personal crises in art and love, all the while facing issues of loyalty and the diverging styles that were tearing apart the Impressionist group.”
“A gripping new saga of pre-historic America that takes us to the Mississippi Valley and the tribe known as the Mound builders. It is a time of troubles. In Cahokia, the corn crop is failing again and a warchief–and the warrior woman he may never possess–are disgusted by their Chief’s lust for tribute. Now even the gods have turned their faces, closing the underworld to the seers. If the gods have abandoned the people, there is no hope–unless it comes in the form of a young girl who is learning to Dream of Power.”
This couple have many books out about Native American life. They are archeologists so their understanding d of the current research adds to the stories.
We had 27 posts linked up. If you haven’t checked out all the great reviews (and food inspired by the books) go back and look. You can also find links to all the posts with pinnable images on our Pinterest board – Foodies Read.
We’ll have our first giveaway at the end of February. Every link in January and February will be entered in a drawing to win a copy of this Foodie book.
“Victoria’s Recipe for Marriage
Take two adventurous newlyweds and place them on a floundering yacht where the wife is the chef, and her boss, the captain, is also her husband. Add two inexperienced crewmembers, an anorexic diva and her bully of a husband, a CEO who thinks he’s in charge, a drunken first mate, and a randy wife looking for diversion. Stir with a violent storm and a rapidly flooding engine room. Apply pressure and watch the situation simmer to a boil.
Sprinkled with over 30-mouthwatering recipes and spiced with tales of adventure, SEAsoned is the hilarious look at a yacht chef’s first year working for her husband while they cruise from the Bahamas to Italy, France, Greece and Spain, trying to stay afloat.”
I can’t wait to see what you are all reading and creating this month.
I had a great reading month. I read 16 books. Vacation helps.
They were set in:
California, Colorado, New York, New Jersey
Six were nonfiction. One was on audio but I am in the middle of 2 audiobooks now.
I noticed about two weeks in that although I was reading about characters from all over, the authors of the books were all white. I looked ahead to what I was going to be reading next and realized that those books had all white authors too. I shuffled around my mental TBR order and moved up some books by POC authors. The books I picked though are fairly heavy so I’m moving through them slowly. I only managed to finish one book by a POC author this month. That was The Stars Change by Mary Anne Monhanraj. With several books on the go now hopefully February’s finishes will not be so overwhelmingly white.
I’ve decided to focus on POC authors and books in translation on February. I was going to make it a reading challenge for myself but changed my mind. I have the mood reader problem of not being able to stick to a strict reading plan. As soon as I make one something shiny comes along and throws a wrench in the plans.
I actually went to the library. I’ve been reading ebooks from the library and requesting books to pick up at the counter of a branch library so much that I can’t even remember the last time I went to the main library just to browse.
I added these books to my TBR while I was there. I just love using the Goodreads app scanner to add books. It makes me feel cool.
I ended up taking Z to Animal Kingdom because the husband got sick. They also needed a break from each other. She ended up being the best that I’ve never seen her. She was calm and focused and self aware. It was actually really weird.
It always amazes me how few animals you actually get to see at Animal Kingdom. I guess it shouldn’t. Most people are there for the rides. When you actually go to animal areas, there aren’t many people around.
During this visit most of the trails where you can walk and see animals were closed. The only major animal viewing places were this safari ride and the petting zoo.
In early 20th century British East Africa, there are rules for the British and different ones for the Africans. Vera McIntosh, the daughter of Scottish missionaries, doesn't feel she belongs to either group; having grown up in Africa, she is not interested in being the well-bred Scottish woman her mother would like her to be. More than anything she dreams of seeing again the handsome police officer she's danced with. But more grisly circumstances bring Justin Tolliver to her family's home.
Vera’s uncle is the doctor at the Scottish mission where Vera lives. His body is found with a Masaai spear in his back. The colonial government wants a suspect in custody rapidly and seizes upon a local witch doctor who has been highly critical of the white doctor. The African people know that he would never have done this in this manner. A cursory investigation points at several English suspects but this is not acceptable to the local authorities.
Vera, Justin Tolliver an English policeman, and Kwai Libazo, a half Masaai/half Kikuyu policeman are left to investigate on their own if they want to get the real killer before an innocent man is executed.
This book captures an era where British landowners were running roughshod over the local tribes in Kenya. There were African police employed by the British but they were not allowed to be seen having any authority over Europeans. They weren’t allowed to speak in meetings about cases. Police investigations did not bother to interview Kikuyu people who may have information about crimes. The goal was to show that this was a safe place for British people and to keep Africans subjugated.
Vera was born in Africa to Scottish parents. She was raised by her Kikuyu “second mother”. She understands the unfairness of British rule and the resentments of the African people but can’t do anything about it because of her sheltered status as an unmarried European woman.
Justin has come to love Africa. He is the second son of an Earl but his local status fell sharply when he joined the police. Now he is ostracized from society in Nairobi.
Kwai wants to learn about how the British investigate crimes but is seen as a traitor because he works for the occupiers. He has never fit in anywhere because of being half Masaai. He has never been fully accepted by either tribe.
There is a casual racism throughout this book that was probably typical of the time. Even characters who are supposed to be enlightened are dismissive of most Africans. Attempts are made to include the Kikuyu point of view but I’m not sure how effective it is. They seem a bit too passive for everything that is happening to them. This may be because we are only hearing the stories of Africans who have chosen to work closely with the British.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
A beautiful scarf, passed down through the generations, connects two women who learn that the weight of the world is made bearable by the love we give away....
Clara Wood worked as a nurse in a doctor’s office in a building that housed the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory on the top floors. She has a flirtation with a bookkeeper who works at Triangle. After the fire happens, she doesn’t want to return to the building. She gets a job on Ellis Island. She nurses the potential immigrants who are too sick to be admitted to New York.
When a man comes in whose wife died on route, Clara is drawn to him because of his grief. When she finds evidence that things weren’t as her patient thought in his marriage, she agonizes over what to do with this info while also working through how to move on in her own life.
Taryn Michaels was on her way to meet her husband at the World Trade Center when the planes hit. Now just before the 10 year anniversary, a picture has surfaced of Taryn and a man on the street just as the first tower fell. Reminders of that day make her realize that she is still carrying a lot of guilt about her role in inviting her husband to go to the Windows on the World restaurant at the top of the Tower that day.
Clara and Taryn are linked by a scarf that Clara’s patient’s wife owned that eventually being worn by Taryn when her picture was taken on 9/11.
The story is told alternating between Clara and Taryn. I found Clara’s story to be more interesting. I had read about the Triangle Shirtwaist fire but didn’t realize that it was in a multistory building with other businesses underneath that were unaffected.
I also didn’t know much about the treatment of sick immigrants in the hospital at Ellis Island.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
I was on vacation last week and so there were no formal workouts but I had to pop in to show off these numbers.
January 15 – airport day – 6569 steps – not so good
January 16 – convention starts but no exhibit hall – 8093
January 17 – exhibit hall opens at convention – 12,770
January 18 – more exhibits – 10,727
January 19 – the whole convention thing is getting old -9741
January 20 – Animal Kingdom – 16,905
January 21 – Universal (Harry Potter world!) – 21,771
January 22 – lazy day visiting relatives – 5755
Now I’m back to normal life and probably won’t see those numbers for a while.
I’ve also realized that the floors climbed setting on my Fitbit is completely imaginary. There was a big escalator at the convention place. It was three floors long. One day it was not working and I walked up it with lots of other people. People were acting like it was a death march because with the crowd you couldn’t stop without getting run over. There is no break between floors on an escalator. Fitbit floors climbed reading – zero. I turned off that setting.
When I was in London I had to go to King’s Cross and get a picture at Platform 9 3/4 even though my mother did not understand at all.
Anywhere you go in England could count as a literary place because there is probably a book set there but we went to Bath specifically because of Regency romances. I wanted to cause a scandal in London so we had to flee to Bath to let society settle down but we didn’t manage that. We did manage to have tea at the Pump Room, to visit the Jane Austin museum, to see the Assembly Rooms, and to see the famous architecture.
I’ll admit that I’ve never read any Hemingway. Way too much macho posturing for me but the husband is a fan. We stopped at his house in Key West. I just went to see the cats that hang out and get petted by tourists.
John Brown’s House
After I read The Mapmaker’s Children, I decided to go see John Brown’s house in Akron. I don’t have any pictures because they don’t allow them. It is a guided tour only. He lived in Akron until he got run out of town and moved to New York, where the events in The Mapmaker’s Children take place.
Like most 18th century Venetians, Adriana d'Amato adores music-except her strict merchant father has forbidden her to cultivate her gift for the violin. But she refuses to let that stop her from living her dreams and begins sneaking out of her family's palazzo under the cover of night to take violin lessons from virtuoso violinist and composer Antonio Vivaldi. However, what begins as secret lessons swiftly evolves into a passionate, consuming love affair.
This is a wonderful historical novel about the life of Antonio Vivaldi, the composer best known for writing The Four Seasons.
I didn’t know anything about Vivaldi’s life when I started this book.
He was a priest who worked in a home for abandoned children in Venice. He wrote many of his works to be performed by the female musicians there. These women were talented musicians who signed a promise never to perform again if they left the home to marry.
In this book, he takes a private student from a prominent family who is wonderful violinist. As he teaches her they fall in love and begin an affair. When the truth of this comes out, her family is scandalized. The book follows both Vivaldi and his student, Adriana over the next thirty years to see what this affair cost them both.
The writing is wonderful and conveys the sense of place and time beautifully. From the excesses of Carnival to sneaking around at night, you feel like you are there. The musicians’ love of music comes through in the story and the despair that comes from being denied the right to express yourself in music.
If you’d like to win a copy, join in the #historicalfix chat on 1/26/2016 at 8:30 pm EST. We’ll be discussing historical love stories and this book will be given away to one participant. It will also be discussed at #bookclubfix on 2/24 at 8:30 PM.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
Usually, I go to conventions and go to lectures all day and read books all evening and don’t talk to anyone. It is absolutely lovely.
I predicted that this vacation would consist of me going to lectures all day and then having to deal with the husband being miserable because he had to deal with Z and his family. I’m so freaking smart.
I ate lunch every day at my favorite restaurant in the Gaylord in Orlando. I will miss this place because the convention is moving. It has 5 tables of great food for your choosing. I ate my weight in marinated olives and peppers, artichoke hearts drizzled with balsamic vinegar, an amazing tomato bisque, flavored rice, cucumber and tomato salads, pastas etc. I always forget not to go on Sunday. They have a bigger spread but take most of the vegetarian stuff away to make room for huge hunks of dead flesh and then charge more.
The conference was pretty good. The lectures weren’t as practical this year as I like so that got frustrating. I’d go to something called, “How to deal with X” because yes, X is a difficult problem. The lecturer would spend the time discussing in detail all the reasons why X was a problem and then conclude with “and those are all the things that you need to think about when you have to deal with X.” I’d be sitting there thinking that I knew all that when I started and was really looking for something a bit more helpful.
This is where Freckles would have hung out if she was there.
These dogs were having a very bad day.
These signs were all over. You have to understand that every surface is covered with advertising. I kept trying to understand what these were selling. They didn’t make any sense. It took me two days – 2 DAYS – to understand that they literally meant, “Don’t take your lunch and go across the street and sit on the golf course while you eat it.”
We did go to Universal. It was me and the husband and Z and the husband’s brother. We went on the Hogwarts ride first. Only a 5 minute wait! Anyway, she got off the ride crying because she claimed that her hands were burnt by the slightly warm air that blows on you at one point. We rode the baby coaster and then I went on the big roller coaster. We took the train to Diagon Alley and we rode the Gringotts ride. Again she was very angry and came off it yelling about how terrible it was. After we finished there we did Men in Black, which she was ok with, but then she got very angry that there was a Simpsons section of the park. That was completely inappropriate in her mind. She refused to go on any rides so we left her sitting on a bench and went on the amazing Krustyland ride. She refused to go on any of the kid’s rides in the park because they were Simpsons themed and she didn’t like the Simpsons. This started a trend. We ended up leaving her outside of the next four rides. Eventually she decided that she wasn’t having any fun like that and that we weren’t going to give into her demands and she decided to play along. She rode the rest of the rides and we went back and rode Gringotts and the Hogwarts rides and she enjoyed them both the second time.
The husband got a really nasty cold. He had taken Z to Magic Kingdom which seemed to go well until they were in the parking lot and she decided that her day wasn’t “magical enough” and attacked him. Good times. I took the next day off the conference and took her to Animal Kingdom because he was too sick to go anywhere. I figured after so many days in a row with her he needed a break. She was absolutely perfect for me. It was almost creepy. She acted like a normal 12 year old. I think she knows that I don’t care one bit about her feelings so I can’t be manipulated so she doesn’t try. I think she could sense that I wouldn’t hesitate to use the “This isn’t my child, officer, I don’t know why she is following me” defense. We got back to the hotel and she immediately got nasty with her father. I banned them from speaking directly to each other and that seemed to work well all through Universal day.
They spent time with the husband’s family. Z was relatively well behaved because it was a new situation. That lead some people in his family to blow up his phone with texts about how she doesn’t have any mental problems at all and he is just exaggerating and he should be happy that he has such an easy child to raise. The term “cake walk” was used. Wow, it is amazing that he got all those schools to kick her out just to feed his delusion.
I had a mental melt down about halfway through. Usually I read lots of books during this trip. I started out well with reading Violinist of Venice on the plane. I read A Fall of Marigolds over the next few days and then I hit a wall. I couldn’t settle into anything that I had brought to read. I decided I needed something absolutely mindless so I downloaded Top Secret Twenty-One by Janet Evanovich
from my library account and that helped. I downloaded another chick lit book that I got halfway through before deciding that it was just way too stupid to be read. I think that was the point where my brain kicked back into gear after days of lectures fried it.
I ended up finishing two more books on the trip home and I partially read bits of two more that were just too heavy for that week.
A hilarious insight into the wild and wacky characters of an expat community in a familiar holiday destination, More Ketchup than Salsa is a must-read for anybody who has ever dreamed about jetting off to sunnier climes, finding a job abroad or flirted with the idea of ‘doing a Shirley Valentine’ in these trying economic times.
Joe Crawley’s step father bought a bar on the island of Tenerife and strongly suggested that his two stepsons and their partners run it. They all had dead-end jobs and no experience in the hospitality business but they moved from England to the Canary Islands to give it a go.
They quickly realized that running a bar and restaurant in a resort is very different than being on vacation yourself. They are surrounded by British people who want all the comforts of home – just on the beach.
“…at times it seemed like an imported little Britain full of patrons who thought that abroad was any sunny place bedecked in red, white and blue where the locals couldn’t talk properly.”
There was no call to go getting adventurous with the food either.
“For some stalwarts even our Hawaiian burger, simply chicken breast crowned with a pineapple ring, would prove too exotic for simple palates: “Hawaiian burger? Oooh nooooo. Foreign food doesn’t agree with me. Have you not got anything like curry or bolognaise?”
In between power outages, bureaucratic nightmares, the mafia, and hordes of cockroaches, they manage to make a go of it even if their relationships might not survive intact.
If you’ve ever considered quitting your job and going to live on the beach, read this book first.
It is 1880 and Gracy Brookens is the only midwife in a small Colorado mining town where she has delivered hundreds, maybe thousands, of babies in her lifetime. The women of Swandyke trust and depend on Gracy, and most couldn't imagine getting through pregnancy and labor without her by their sides.
But everything changes when a baby is found dead...and the evidence points to Gracy as the murderer.
For someone who hates babies as much as I do, I sure do like reading books about midwives.
Maybe it is because at one time it was the only opportunity available for women interested in health care. Maybe it is because midwives aren’t taking any lip from anyone. I don’t know.
This story takes place in an isolated Colorado mining town high up in the mountains. The men here are miners, looking for the claim that is going to make them rich. They head out into the mountains in the summer for months at a time leaving the women to fend for themselves. Gracy Brookens is a midwife with a reputation for helping in difficult cases. Her reputation is put to the test when the owner of one of the local mines accuses her of strangling a baby.
This isn’t really a mystery story. You know right off that Gracy didn’t do it. This book uses the framework of the accusation and trial to discuss what life was like for people in the mountains.
What is it like to know that this pregnancy may kill you?
Does a midwife have a responsibility to help you if you don’t want a pregnancy?
Who raises the children if a woman dies?
What happens to two men who have lived together for a long time when one finds a wife?
How do women cope if they can’t have children or if their husbands are having affairs?
If you are interested in another book like this one, check out:
“The Birth House is the story of Dora Rare, the first daughter to be born in five generations of the Rare family. As a child in an isolated village in Nova Scotia, she is drawn to Miss Babineau, an outspoken Acadian midwife with a gift for healing and a kitchen filled with herbs and folk remedies. During the turbulent years of World War I, Dora becomes the midwife’s apprentice. Together, they help the women of Scots Bay through infertility, difficult labors, breech births, unwanted pregnancies and even unfulfilling sex lives.
When Gilbert Thomas, a brash medical doctor, comes to Scots Bay with promises of fast, painless childbirth, some of the women begin to question Miss Babineau’s methods – and after Miss Babineau’s death, Dora is left to carry on alone. In the face of fierce opposition, she must summon all of her strength to protect the birthing traditions and wisdom that have been passed down to her.”
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
“Enter the world of Mirra. She is a magic user, but her gift is scorned by the menfolk in her village. Men are allowed to use magic; women are not. So, after a tumultuous event, Mirra decides to leave and heads for the City to continue her own self-journey. This is her tale.”
“Year One-Knife, Tenochtitlan the capital of the Aztecs. The end of the world is kept at bay only by the magic of human sacrifice. A Priestess disappears from an empty room drenched in blood. Acatl, High Priest, must find her, or break the boundaries between the worlds of the living and the dead.”
“In the spring of 1984, John Mallory, the seventh sister in a coffee family dies a legend when she is uprooted from Kansas City and travels to a coffee farm in Costa Rica to become a Roastmaster. Now, eighteen years later, Capri is connected to her dead aunt through a surreal sense of smell. When Capri runs away with her boyfriend, she unearths John Mallory’s story and the myth of the Pleiades, a cluster of blue stars known as the Seven Sisters. But her quirky mother, grandfather and five aunts fear love will also lead Capri to an early grave.
A tale for those who know magic can be found in the bean of a fruit.”
“A former paramedic’s visceral, poignant, and mordantly funny account of a decade spent on Atlanta’s mean streets saving lives and connecting with the drama and occasional beauty that lies inside catastrophe.
“Three kinds of people live in Zombie City-La Boca Del Diablo: the zombies, los vivos, and the ghosts. Officer Jimena Villagrán, not truly at home with any of these groups, patrols the barrio for stalking monsters. Magic con men and discarded needles make this beat hazardous enough, but the latest rash of murders threatens to up the ante by outing the horrors of Jimena’s personal history.”
“A senior British official has been murdered, and a note left in his mouth warns the British to quit India: or else. With rising political dissent and the stability of the Raj under threat, Wyndham and his two new colleagues – arrogant Inspector Digby, who can barely conceal his contempt for the natives and British-educated, but Indian-born Sargeant Banerjee, one of the few Indians to be recruited into the new CID – embark on an investigation that will take them from the luxurious parlours of wealthy British traders to the seedy opium dens of the city.”
“A secret grave in the desert is unearthed revealing the mutilated bodies of nineteen women and the shocking truth that a serial killer has been operating undetected in Jeddah for more than a decade.
However, lead inspector Ibrahim Zahrani, is distracted by a mystery closer to home. His mistress has suddenly disappeared, but he cannot report her missing, since adultery is punishable by death. With nowhere to turn, Ibrahim brings the case to Katya, one of the few women on the force. Drawn into both investigations, she must be increasingly careful to hide a secret of her own.”
” Meet Ajatashatru Oghash Rathod. One day a fakir leaves his small village in India and lands in Paris. A professional con artist, the fakir is on a pilgrimage to IKEA, where he intends to obtain an object he covets above all others: a brand-new bed of nails. Without adequate euros in the pockets of his silk trousers, the fakir is all the same confident that his counterfeit 100-Euro note (printed on one side only) and his usual bag of tricks will suffice. But when a swindled cab driver seeks his murderous revenge, the fakir accidentally embarks on a European tour, fatefully beginning in the wardrobe of the iconic Swedish retailer.”
“The Polish Boxer covers a vast landscape of human experience while enfolding a search for origins: a grandson tries to make sense of his Polish grandfather’s past and the story behind his numbered tattoo; a Serbian classical pianist longs for his forbidden heritage; a Mayan poet is torn between his studies and filial obligations; a striking young Israeli woman seeks answers in Central America; a university professor yearns for knowledge that he can’t find in books and discovers something unexpected at a Mark Twain conference. Drawn to what lies beyond the range of reason, they all reach for the beautiful and fleeting, whether through humor, music, poetry, or unspoken words. Across his encounters with each of them, the narrator—a Guatemalan literature professor and writer named Eduardo Halfon—pursues his most enigmatic subject: himself.”
“The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.
Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined.”