You may find this over-dramatic but occasionally I think sadly back to the time when it was announced that Terry Gilliam was going to direct a movie version of this Terry Pratchett/Neil Gaiman book. The plot revolves around the angel and demon left in charge of Earth who decide to work together to prevent the rise of the Antichrist because Earth is a cushy job and they don’t want to lose it. Jonny Depp and Robin Williams were going to be the leads. I think of this as the biggest missed opportunity ever.
But now, now, it has been announced that there will be a TV adaptation with David Tennant playing Crowley the demon. I wanted to squeal when I heard but I couldn’t because other people were sleeping.
I reread this series a lot. It is comfort food for me. That makes me a little nervous about the adaptation that is in the works at Bad Wolf studios in Wales. Don’t screw it up. The author, Deborah Harkness, is very involved so hopefully it will be ok. The first book takes place in Oxford so it should be pretty.
This is a world of witches, daemons, and vampires. A medieval scholar who has suppressed her witch heritage is drawn into conflict when the library gives her access to a book that has been hidden for centuries.
Anyone who has been around here a while knows that I love me some Nnedi Okorafor and that Who Fears Death was my first book of hers. I love it but I don’t know if this was the one I’d have chosen to adapt. She has others that seem more TV-friendly.
This is a post-apocalyptic story about racism and sexism in a brutal world in the African desert. There are magical battles but also a lot of rape and violence.
I am looking forward to depiction of the tribe that lives in the middle of the sandstorm. I love them! good omens
I actually have mixed feelings about this one. I feel like I totally missed the takeaway of Octavia Butler’s series. What I got from it was that humans are horrible and probably need to be exterminated. Apparently she meant it as a ode to humans triumphing over slavery. Pretty big difference of opinion there.
Because of that I feel like this adaptation will probably just frustrate me as the humans go around being absolutely hateful and we are supposed to root for them. Am I the only person who read this series that feels this way?
I’m back. I was AWOL last week because of the husband’s hospital drama. He’s home now and feeling a bit better but without a whole lot of answers.
Finished This Week
What Am I Reading?
I’ve been having a hard time settling into any books. This is doing the best job of holding my attention so far. I picked it because it was a book with a verb in the title for The Reading Quest and it was on my ipad.
“On her 25th birthday, Charlotte Appleby receives a most unusual gift from the Faerie godmother she never knew she had: the ability to change shape.
Penniless and orphaned, she sets off for London to make her fortune as a man. But a position as secretary to Lord Cosgrove proves unexpectedly challenging. Someone is trying to destroy Cosgrove and his life is increasingly in jeopardy.”
It is a Regency romance with faeries!
What Am I Listening To?
I picked this one to see what all the fuss was about. I’m loving it.
“Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.
But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.
Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.“
I’ve been AWOL this week because the husband has been stressing me out.
Sometime in June he pulled a pectoral muscle. When it didn’t heal well he went to the doctor who did an xray. All the lymph nodes in his thorax were huge. He was treated for kidney cancer last year. Renal tumors that spread to the lungs are basically a death sentence. I freaked out.
He had a PET scan. It didn’t look cancerous. He had a biopsy. They didn’t find any cancer. They didn’t know what it was. During all this time, he is not sick at all.
About a week after the biopsy he spiked a fever and started coughing. That was this night. It didn’t get better. He kept going to doctors who told him to quit being a weenie and tough out his cold. One did an xray and saw nothing but the weird lymph node enlargement.
Last Friday he went to the ER at the Cleveland Clinic. He literally could not stop coughing. They kept him for 24 hours to give him breathing treatments for his ‘bronchitis’. He didn’t stop coughing so they did a CT scan and found a 6 cm lung mass.
We said that he had had several xrays, CT scans, and a PET scan in the last month at multiple facilities and no one had seen a lung mass. They especially hadn’t seen a huge lung mass. Of course it was now Saturday night. All his scans were at the VA hospital and they don’t work weekends. We had their reports that didn’t mention anything about a mass but the new doctors wanted to see these multiple pictures of his lungs with no mass with their own eyeballs before they truly believed. If it wasn’t there a few weeks ago then it was probably an infection and not cancerous.
Despite this being the 21st century, no one sends digital scans electronically so it was decided that I would present myself to the VA on Monday morning and beg for a CD to be made of all his scans. If I could get it then I would deliver it to the new hospital so they could make a plan.
I arrived at the VA hospital promptly at 8 AM Monday morning. I had until 10 AM to get this, drive to the new hospital, drop it off, and leave for work. I was ready to fight if I had to. They aren’t known for their cooperation. I had multiple signed releases from the husband.
I told the receptionist what I needed. She asked for his name. Then she asked for the last four of his social security number. I looked down at the paper and read it off to her. She looked at me.
“You don’t know your husband’s social security number?” I don’t know why I said this other than sometimes my sarcasm overflows but I answered, “No, but I know the last husband’s in case I never need to use that information against him.” She perked up. “You’re divorced?” “Yes.” “You’re not a bad person! No, ma’am! I’m divorced too. We’re not bad people!” “Nope!” “How long were you married the first time?” “10 years” “How long this time?” “Together 9 years but married for 5.” “This husband is a better husband than the first one?” “Yes.” “And he’s in the hospital now? I’mma get you some pictures. You just have a seat, baby.”
I sat down. Then she remembered that she needed to see my id because some people can’t be trusted. “Not you of course because you’re lovely…”
She got the disk printed and then we reminded each other a few more times that we weren’t bad people.
I don’t know what that poor woman has been through but apparently she has seen some shit.
Octopuses have varied personalities and intelligence they show in myriad ways: endless trickery to escape enclosures and get food; jetting water playfully to bounce objects like balls; and evading caretakers by using a scoop net as a trampoline and running around the floor on eight arms. But with a beak like a parrot, venom like a snake, and a tongue covered with teeth, how can such a being know anything? And what sort of thoughts could it think?
The intelligence of dogs, birds, and chimpanzees was only recently accepted by scientists, who now are establishing the intelligence of the octopus, watching them solve problems and deciphering the meaning of their color-changing camouflage techniques. Montgomery chronicles this growing appreciation of the octopus, but also tells a love story. By turns funny, entertaining, touching, and profound, The Soul of an Octopus reveals what octopuses can teach us about consciousness and the meeting of two very different minds.
I love octopuses. I think they are fascinating. I’ve never had the chance to meet one though like this author did. She got to know three octopuses over the course of a few years. It was amazing to hear about the ways their physiology lets them interact with the world. They can taste with their skin, camouflage even though they are color blind, and work through complex puzzles.
She also lets you get to know the people working behind the scenes in the aquarium who love these animals.
This book is wonderful for anyone who is interested in finding out more about these animals. I am looking forward to reading more from this author.
Junk Raft: An Ocean Voyage and a Rising Tide of Activism to Fight Plastic Pollutionby Marcus Eriksen on July 4th 2017 Pages: 216 Length: 8:05 Published byBeacon Press Setting: Pacific Ocean
News media brought the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch"--the famous swirling gyre of plastic pollution in the ocean--into the public consciousness. But when Marcus Eriksen cofounded the 5 Gyres Institute with his wife, Anna Cummins, and set out to study the world's oceans with hundreds of volunteers, they discovered a "plastic smog" of microscopic debris that permeates our oceans globally, defying simple clean-up efforts. What's more, these microplastics and their toxic chemistry have seeped into the food chain, threatening marine life and humans alike.
Far from being a gloomy treatise on an environmental catastrophe, though, Junk Raft tells the exciting story of Eriksen and his team's fight to solve the problem of plastic pollution. A scientist, activist, and inveterate adventurer, Eriksen is drawn to the sea by a desire to right an environmental injustice. Against long odds and common sense, he and his co-navigator, Joel Paschal, construct a "junk raft" made of plastic trash and set themselves adrift from Los Angeles to Hawaii, with no motor or support vessel, confronting perilous cyclones, food shortages, and a fast decaying raft.
Plastic pollution in the ocean is a huge problem but it doesn’t manifest in exactly the ways that it has been portrayed in the press. Most of the ocean is polluted with microparticles of plastic that make any clean up operation almost impossible. The author’s goal is to require companies to take on more of the burden for reusing or recycling plastics they produce. Now they are freed from responsibility by requiring consumers to recycle if they don’t want the plastic going into a landfill.
This book used the framework of the several month journey on Junk to tell the story of the Earth’s plastic pollution problem. It is full of ideas for making the problem better but there needs to be buy in from a lot of people to make it happen.
The stories in the book are scary. So much damage is being done through human carelessness. Getting the word out about what needs to be done is important.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
“In Algeria in the 1930s, a cat belonging to a widowed rabbi and his beautiful daughter, Zlabya, eats the family parrot and gains the ability to speak. To his master’s consternation, the cat immediately begins to tell lies (the first being that he didn’t eat the parrot). The rabbi vows to educate him in the ways of the Torah, while the cat insists on studying the kabbalah and having a Bar Mitzvah. They consult the rabbi’s rabbi, who maintains that a cat can’t be Jewish — but the cat, as always, knows better.” Translated from French
First of all, the author is not a woman. Whoops. I still loved this story. The cat is full of contempt for any Jewish law that doesn’t make any sense.
The art is cute. I enjoyed the North African setting. I will be continuing this series.
“When Soah’s impoverished, desperate village decides to sacrifice her to the Water God Habaek to end a long drought, they believe that drowning one beautiful girl will save their entire community and bring much-needed rain. Not only is Soah surprised to be rescued by the Water God — instead of killed — she never imagined she’d be a welcomed guest in Habaek’s magical kingdom, where an exciting new life awaits her! Most surprising, however, is the Water God himself… and how very different he is from the monster Soah imagined.” Translated from Korean
I don’t know about an exciting life. I found this one pretty boring. It is a great concept and it seemed like it was going to be good but then nothing happened by the end of the volume. Maybe it gets better if you read more but I’m not interested.
“Tohru Honda was an orphan with no place to go until the mysterious Sohma family offered her a place to call home. Now her ordinary high school life is turned upside down as she’s introduced to the Sohma’s world of magical curses and family secrets.” Translated from Japanese
A girl moves in with a family who are all possessed by the spirits of the Chinese Zodiac. That sounds good. Again, I couldn’t get into this one. I had a hard time telling the male characters apart or even how many of them there were. Bad sign.
The art was fine but I’m starting to think that manga just isn’t for me.
“Acclaimed creator Kaoru Mori (Emma, Shirley) brings the nineteenth-century Silk Road to lavish life, chronicling the story of Amir Halgal, a young woman from a nomadic tribe betrothed to a twelve-year-old boy eight years her junior. Coping with cultural differences, blossoming feelings for her new husband, and expectations from both her adoptive and birth families, Amir strives to find her role as she settles into a new life and a new home in a society quick to define that role for her.” Translated from Japanese
I gasped when I opened this one. The art was extraordinary and very detailed.
It is set in 1800s Turkmenistan. I loved the characters who all had distinct personalities. Amir isn’t just meekly trying to fit into her new family and the family isn’t trying to make her conform. I’m glad this moved away from that trope.
I am definitely continuing with this series.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
I have 16 items checkout out of the library. Help! The problem is that I’ve been saving a lot of them for the Reading Quest readathon which finally started on the 13th.
Finished This Week
What Am I Reading?
These both work for Women in Translation Month and will fit on my Reading Quest board.
What Am I Listening To?
“Inspired by her grandmother s tales of cooking on the family farm, Thielen moves with her artist husband to the rustic, off-the-grid cabin he built in the woods. There, standing at the stove three times a day, she finds the seed of a growing food obsession that leads to the sensory madhouse of New York s top haute cuisine brigades. When she goes home, she comes face to face with her past, and a curious truth: that beneath every foie gras sauce lies a rural foundation of potatoes and onions, and that taste memory is the most important ingredient of all.“
In this grand saga of love, war, and magic set in the tenth century, young Sigrid is destined to be the mother of the king of the Nordic lands that would become Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and England.
A devout believer in the old Nordic gods, Sigrid is visited regularly in her dreams by the goddess Freya, who whispers to her of the future. Though Sigrid is beautiful, rich, arrogant, and matchlessly clever, her uncanny ability to foresee the future and manipulate the present guides her through dangerous politics as a bloody war between Vikings and Christians rages on.
Sigrid’s father wants her to marry Erik, a local king, to secure the peace between the Goths and the Swedes. Thinking she is doing Freya’s will, she accepts the marriage offer, only to find that her destiny lies not with Erik but with Sweyn, a warrior who dreams of dethroning Harald Bluetooth, the legendary ruler of Denmark. Will Sigrid sacrifice her will for the greatest Viking kingdom of all time, or will she follow her heart at the risk of losing everything?
I got this book for free through the Kindle First program for Amazon Prime members. That’s a great way to try out some translated books since usually at least one of the selections are translated.
This book 4 of a series published in Sweden but it is the first book available in English. The next book the series is going to be translated later in 2017. I’m not sure what the first few books cover but I didn’t feel like I was missing anything by starting the story at this point.
This book is set during the time of the Vikings and everyone knows that they were awful. That aspect of Viking life is not sugar coated here. There is a lot of violence. There are graphic descriptions of multiple gang rapes.
Despite that, I did enjoy this story. I haven’t read much set during this time in Scandinavia when there was conflict between traditional Nordic beliefs and Christianity. True believers on both sides are coming across people who will switch religions for personal or political gain.
If you like Game of Thrones style fantasy or historical fiction you will probably enjoy this book.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
Look! I’m sewing. I mean, sure, I list quilting as one of my major hobbies but I hadn’t been doing much of it.
Recently I started working on two projects out of the gazillion I have in pieces in my sewing room.
De La Prominade by Quilt Fusion
I saw this pattern on Instagram when they were testing it. I had to have it even though it was completely impractical. It is a bed sized quilt when done, which I don’t need. I can make it a bit smaller by leaving off the outer borders. If I hang it, it would need to go horizontal and I don’t think I have a big enough spot. I still don’t care. I love it.
This is the center block. You trace the pattern pieces onto paper backed fusible web. Then you cut out all the pieces and build it.
This block sits above the carousel block. This is designed to be quilt as you go. That’s nice because you don’t need to maneuver a big quilt through the machine. After I made the block I spray basted it to batting. Then I free motion quilt around all the pieces. Once the whole thing is together and quilted you add the backing fabric and quilt around the blocks to hold it all together.
I also started on a snail quilt that I’ve had the pattern for for a while. The husband, who thinks he’s funny said, “That sounds like a slow project.” It turns out to be pretty quick though. I made all the bodies in one sitting. Then I’ve been making a few shells at a time. The finished lap sized quilt has 60 snails.
Even worse, the husband is a hypochondriac who actually does have a lot of strange and serious medical conditions. Even though humans are the one species that I’m not legally allowed to treat, I spend a lot of time on his health care.
Neither of us are feeling great. I have a headache that won’t go away and it feels like a good idea to just lay in bed for the day. Around lunch time he comes into the bedroom, wakes me up, and asks if I want something from Subway. I say that that seems like a good idea. He says, “Good. Can you go get it?”
I roll over and look at him. “You have clothes on. I’m not dressed. You want me to get up, get dressed, and go get Subway?” Anyone who has been married as long as he has should know the danger sign of a woman repeating your request like that. You, sir, are being given a chance to repent. He did not.
“Yes. I’m so weak. I would get in an accident.”
I ignored him and went back to sleep. A little while later he was back waking me up again. “I’m hungry…..” like we don’t have a house full of food.
I obviously wasn’t going to get any peace. I got up, slowly got dressed, and asked what he wanted. He objected when I wanted him to write it down. He said it was simple enough to remember. I did not start yelling. I am proud.
I came back with his sandwich. He asked me why I didn’t get one for myself. I told him that I was fueled solely by rage. I don’t think he understood me. I went back to bed.
He takes the day off work. I have to go in at 11 AM. He asks if before I go I can go get him Gatorade and ginger ale. Let’s discuss ginger ale. Ginger is wonderful for nausea. Ginger ale would be a great drink for the flu if, you know, it contained any ginger. Ginger ale is mostly carbonated water, hi fructose corn syrup, and flavoring. I’ve pointed this out repeatedly to him. He doesn’t care. Because I actually am a big believer in the power of ginger, we have ginger tea bags which would give you a big dose of good-for-you stuff. He doesn’t want that. I go try to find ginger ale. Of course it isn’t at the first store I go to so I’m driving all around creation looking for the useless stuff.
(During this I am remembering about the time I broke my pelvis when home alone. Then I hopped on one leg for an hour to reach my car. I drove to the hospital. Was released without crutches and told to go buy some the next day. My now ex-husband was on a business trip and had his phone turned off. When I reached him 18 hours later and told him what had happened and that I needed him to go get me crutches so could he please drive straight home that day instead of going to his office as planned, he got mad. Several years later he was still mad about it and kept bringing it up during our separation as proof that I WAS TOO NEEDY! Please, that fool had obviously never met Too Needy.)
Anyway, I got all the stuff and brought it home and then went to work. I get a text later that he thinks he needs to go to Urgent Care. I have feelings about this. Mostly I feel – “You have the flu. Sleep it off.” I am completely unable to say this because of what happened last year. Same situation. He goes to the ER for the flu that I just slept off. He gets a Cat Scan. I rail about the wastefulness of human medicine. He gets diagnosed with the flu and by the way, you have a tumor. Cue every time I say that he is absolutely fine in the past year, he counters with, “That’s what you said before and it turned out I had cancer.” He goes to Urgent Care and gets diagnosed with the flu and told to go home and sleep it off. I point out that he doesn’t have any new cancer so that’s an improvement. He says sadly, “They didn’t give me any scans.”
I decide to sleep in the guest room away from his germs.
He wakes me up with his shivering. How can a person’s shivering wake you up if you are two rooms away? He has never applied the phrase Suffering in Silence to himself. He sounded like a cold person who was also having an attack of the vapors.
I take his temperature. It is 100.5. I don’t tell him this because despite all evidence to the contrary he believes that his normal body temperature is 95 degrees. I just say he has a fever. I give him some meds to bring the fever down. I tell him to take a shower. I go to get him something to drink and notice that he has not opened any of the gatorade that was so important that morning. I tuck him back in. In an inspired piece of theater I move the infrared space heater into the room and turn it on. As soon as he isn’t looking, I turn it off.
He starts yelling that the room is so hot. I get up and go back to him. I explain that he has a fever. The room isn’t hot. He springs up from laying down and says to me,
“Heather, look! I literally can’t even move!”
That’s when I broke. I started yelling. “Now you are just telling outright lies! Lay down.” Add in some swearing to get exactly what I said. He spent many years in the Army. Yelling and swearing are sometimes the key to him.
The fever was up a bit. I figured that he didn’t remember already taking a shower a few minutes ago so I asked if he would like to take a cool bath. He thought that was a fine idea. As I was running the water, I actually had the thought that I should text my mother and see if she would start putting together some bail money in case I drowned that man.
He got in the tub. He started complaining about medical professionals who obviously sent him home to die. I went full on drill sergeant. “You are fine! Stop it. I will tell you when you are not fine. Until then, I don’t want to hear it.” Add in expletives. He calmed down. Then he hopped out of the tub in a more sprightly manner than he would normally ever be able to do while telling me, “I am SO weak!”
He went back to sleep.
Fever is down. He’s sleeping. I go to bed.
He’s freaking fine just like I said. While writing this though he’s made me take his temperature and is trying to justify his actions last night. Now he’s on the phone with his insurance agent (for a totally unrelated reason) and is reliving his life or death struggle and talking about how wonderfully I cared for him.
Oh, that fool just said, “She works at 11. I’m going to miss her even though she’s been slightly ornery. Only someone who loves you gets that ornery.” I’m going to work before I need bail money again.
I haven’t done a Reader’s Workout post in forever. I’m pretty happy with my fitness routine right now though so I thought I’d update.
I signed up for Strong by Bret. This is a monthly service that gives you 3 – 4 weightlifting workouts for a month. You do the same workout each week but increase the weight each time. If you want more there are optional additional workouts based on your goals:
You can pick additional full workout if you want to work out your whole body more days (rest days are recommended though)
You can add on a supplemental glute workout to your workout days or your off days
If powerlifting is your goal there are additional strength-building workouts
I’ve just been doing the main workouts. I keep meaning to do the supplemental glute workouts on off days but I forget.
I love, love, love this program. It is exactly what I’ve been looking for. It is all weight lifting. No explicit cardio but I’m dripping sweat when I’m done.
I’m just starting my third month now. I haven’t lost any weight but I have made strength gains. There is a big emphasis on pull ups. I use the machine in the gym that lets you offset your body weight on pull ups. When I started I was only lifting 45 lbs for a few reps. Now I’m doing 55 lbs for sets of 5. It is still super wimpy but it is better. I can see changes in my shoulder muscles.
The other nice thing about this is that it is planned with women in mind. Most weightlifting plans have women as an afterthought.
The husband and I did the Biking Spree at our local MetroParks. We had to ride 5 of the designated trails. It is designed to get people out and exploring all the Parks. These were all simple paved trails. It turned into a saga. I bought a pretty pink bike. Long painful story short – it was horrible.
This was a bike that should have been bought by someone who rides only on level roads in Florida on the way to the library to get a basket full of books. Despite having enough gears and only riding on fairly level ground, it was the hardest bike to ride I’ve ever met. It would just stop if faced with a hill. Not a mountain. A long, slow incline was tough. I’d be in first gear and pedaling for all I was worth and all of a sudden I wouldn’t be able to move the pedals anymore. I took it back to the store and am having them try to sell it. If I wasn’t anti-littering I would have left it on the side of a trail. At least I wouldn’t have had to push it while walking back to the car.
I realized that when I got rid of that bike that I only had one ride left to finish the program. I took the husband’s bike out and did the longest ride I had done so far in program. It was no problem at all. That proved to me that it was the bike and not me that was making the rest of the rides so freaking miserable.
I’ve never been able to do arm balances in yoga. Teachers are always like, “It isn’t about strength. It is just balance.” while I crash on the floor.
I signed up for access to a video series teaching handstands and arm balances. There is a series of daily short practices to build skill. I failed video number 3. I need to work on my skill in that one before moving on. I know I have the strength to hold handstands against a wall once I get into them. Getting upside down is hard for me. This video series also works on fear of falling and fear of getting upside down. We’ll see how I am able to progress.
The last three are for Women in Translation month.
What Am I Reading?
I have all the books out of the library. Seriously, there is nothing left in the library.
I have stacks of graphic novels for Women in Translation month. I have other books that have shown up because it was finally my turn. I have the translated books on my reader I was already planning on reading.
What do I have real or virtual bookmarks in right now?
What Am I Listening To?
The books I’ve read could fit in all kinds of places. The red dots are The Cost of Sugar and the blue are The Unbroken Line of the Moon and the grey dots are Bride’s Story. I’ll have to see what else fits into to see if I’m ever able to make a bingo.
The Cost of Sugar is an intriguing history of those rabid times in Dutch Surinam between 1765-1779 when sugar was king.Told through the eyes of two Jewish step sisters, Eliza and Sarith, descendants of the settlers of 'New Jerusalem of the River' know today as Jodensvanne. The Cost of Sugar is a frank expose of the tragic toll on the lives of colonists and slaves alike.
This is the second novel that I have read by Cynthia McLeod. She is a hard author for me to review. On one hand I love the stories that she tells. She gives you a look into life in colonial Suriname, on the northeast coast of South America. She tells stories that I haven’t heard from any other author. The previous book I read of hers, The Free Negress Elisabeth, is a story that has stayed in my mind because it is the type of women’s history that is so often overlooked. I want to put her books in everyone’s hands and tell them they have to hear about this.
On the other hand though, the writing in the books just isn’t very good. Clunky is the word that keeps coming to mind. I’m reading an English translation from the Dutch but I don’t think that is the whole issue. She is so careful to have so much documented historical fact in the books that she info-dumps continuously. That doesn’t usually bother me in a story but these passages aren’t blended into the fictional story that she is telling well. She even has footnotes. I’m not sure what the footnotes were about because many of them weren’t translated. The untranslated ones appeared to be quotes.
I’ve had this book for a long time before reading it. I tried to start it a few times but the writing style made me stop after a few pages. I decided to knuckle down and read it for Women in Translation Month. Once I decided to power through, I read it in less than a day. The story carries you through.
One early wave of settlers to Suriname were Portuguese Jews who migrated from Brazil. They set up large plantations and did well for themselves. Subsequent waves of settlers from Holland though were anti-Semitic and over time the Jewish families found themselves not at the top of society anymore. This is the story of two half-sisters, one had two Jewish parents and one had only a Jewish father so was not considered Jewish herself. The story shows how their lives diverge as Suriname begins to deal with the effects of people living too far in debt for them to maintain.
White people in Suriname did nothing for themselves. There were so many more enslaved people than white people that whites gave all responsibilities for running their lives to the slaves. With nothing to do, they entertained themselves with lavish parties that lasted for weeks. Gossip was rampant. There wasn’t a single rich white person that I didn’t want to slap at some point in this book.
The Cost of Sugar refers to all the lives wasted in the plantation system – the enslaved people, the white landowners, the Dutch soldiers brought into protect the plantations, the escaped and free blacks living in the jungle. It was a system that hurt everyone.
“It now occurred to Elza that her family was in fact a model for all Suriname society. Wasn’t everyone and everything totally dependent on the slaves? Just as she felt so completely lost without Maisa, so the colony would be totally lost without its slaves. They did everything and knew everything, and the whites knew nothing and were incapable ofanything. The whites needed the negroes, but the negroes didn’t need a single white person”
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
“When Clarence comes upon a series of letters from her family’s past, she starts to piece together the story of her father’s travels with his brother, and she becomes curious about her origins. Sifting through the clues and assembling the narrative, Clarence embarks on a journey to the exotic African isle of Fernando Poo, where the 2 brothers, Jacobo and Kilian, landed after fleeing their conventional, safe lives in the Spanish Pyrenees.”
“When Lupita witnesses the murder of a local politician whom she greatly admires, the ghosts of her past resurface as she tries to cope with the present. She quickly falls back into her old self-destructive habits and becomes a target of Mexico’s corrupt political machine. As the powers that be kick into high gear to ensure the truth remains hidden, Lupita finds solace in the purity of indigenous traditions. While she learns how to live simply, like her ancestors, she comes to understand herself and rediscovers light within a dark life. And if there is hope for Lupita’s redemption, perhaps there is hope for Mexico.”
A history of 18th Century slavery in Suriname (1765-1779) … “a frank expose of life in the Dutch slave colony when sugar ruled as kind – and the tragic toll it took on the lives of colonists and slaves alike.”
“As the daughter of one of Turkey’s last Ottoman pashas, Selva could win the heart of any man in Ankara. Yet the spirited young beauty only has eyes for Rafael Alfandari, the handsome Jewish son of an esteemed court physician. In defiance of their families, they marry, fleeing to Paris to build a new life.
But when the Nazis invade France, the exiled lovers will learn that nothing—not war, not politics, not even religion—can break the bonds of family. For after they learn that Selva is but one of their fellow citizens trapped in France, a handful of brave Turkish diplomats hatch a plan to spirit the Alfandaris and hundreds of innocents, many of whom are Jewish, to safety.”
“In the fourteenth century, opportunities for women are limited to the home. But spirited young Madlen finds her calling as assistant to the city’s trusted midwife, Clara. Working alongside Clara, Madlen develops a surprisingly soothing technique and quickly becomes a talented healer.
After Clara’s tragic death, Madlen alone rushes to assist the birth of a local nobleman’s child. But rather than the joy of birth, Madlen walks into an accusation of murder and witchcraft because of her extraordinary gifts.”
“The author was nineteen years old and living in Warsaw when her mother told her the truth—that she was Jewish—and began to tell her stories of the family’s secret past in Poland. Tuszyńska, who grew up in a country beset by anti-Semitism, rarely hearing the word “Jew” (only from her Polish Catholic father, and then, always in derision), was unhinged, ashamed, and humiliated. The author writes of how she skillfully erased the truth within herself, refusing to admit the existence of her other half.”
And then I figured graphic novels would be a good, fast way to read some more since I know I won’t get all the books I have listed read. I might have gone a bit overboard with my library requests but I was impressed by how many they had. I’m sure they have a lot more but this is a start.
“Ivory Coast, 1978. It’s a golden time, and the nation, too—an oasis of affluence and stability in West Africa—seems fueled by something wondrous. Aya is loosely based upon Marguerite Abouet’s youth in Yop City. It is the story of the studious and clear-sighted nineteen-year-old Aya, her easygoing friends Adjoua and Bintou, and their meddling relatives and neighbors. It’s a wryly funny, breezy account of the simple pleasures and private troubles of everyday life in Yop City.”
“Clementine is a junior in high school who seems average enough: she has friends, family, and the romantic attention of the boys in her school. When her openly gay best friend takes her out on the town, she wanders into a lesbian bar where she encounters Emma: a punkish, confident girl with blue hair. Their attraction is instant and electric, and Clementine find herself in a relationship that will test her friends, parents, and her own ideas about herself and her identity.”
“When Soah’s impoverished, desperate village decides to sacrifice her to the Water God Habaek to end a long drought, they believe that drowning one beautiful girl will save their entire community and bring much-needed rain. Not only is Soah surprised to be rescued by the Water God — instead of killed — she never imagined she’d be a welcomed guest in Habaek’s magical kingdom, where an exciting new life awaits her!”
“Tohru Honda was an orphan with no place to go until the mysterious Sohma family offered her a place to call home. Now her ordinary high school life is turned upside down as she’s introduced to the Sohma’s world of magical curses and family secrets.”
“Acclaimed creator Kaoru Mori (Emma, Shirley) brings the nineteenth-century Silk Road to lavish life, chronicling the story of Amir Halgal, a young woman from a nomadic tribe betrothed to a twelve-year-old boy eight years her junior. Coping with cultural differences, blossoming feelings for her new husband, and expectations from both her adoptive and birth families, Amir strives to find her role as she settles into a new life and a new home in a society quick to define that role for her.”
Now we all know that I can’t follow a TBR to save my life, so stay tuned to see which of these I manage to read!
World War II has ended and American women are shedding their old clothes for the gorgeous new styles. Voluminous layers of taffeta and tulle, wasp waists, and beautiful color—all so welcome after years of sensible styles and strict rationing.
Jeanne Brink and her sister Peggy both had to weather every tragedy the war had to offer—Peggy now a widowed mother, Jeanne without the fiancé she’d counted on, both living with Peggy’s mother-in-law in a grim mill town. But despite their grey pasts they long for a bright future—Jeanne by creating stunning dresses for her clients with the help of her sister Peggy’s brilliant sketches.
Together, they combine forces to create amazing fashions and a more prosperous life than they’d ever dreamed of before the war. But sisterly love can sometimes turn into sibling jealousy. Always playing second fiddle to her sister, Peggy yearns to make her own mark. But as they soon discover, the future is never without its surprises, ones that have the potential to make—or break—their dreams.
None of the women in this story expected to live a life without their men. Now, after World War II, they are trying to adapt to what their lives have become.
Jeanne is a talented seamstress but making knock off dresses for rich women in her small town isn’t enough to make ends meet. Peggy is a good designer but with a small daughter she needs to find a way to make money. Thelma is Peggy’s mother in law. She owns the house they live in and is barely keeping them afloat.
Thelma was my favorite character in this book. She is portrayed as the matriarch but she is only in her mid-40s. She has a lot of secrets including lovers who will still do her some favors as the need arises. She is smart but always underestimated due to her gender and socioeconomic condition. She comes up with a plan to help them all based on secrets, blackmail, and her talents.
This is a good look at life for women who were forced to grow up quickly because of war. Peggy has a child that she probably wouldn’t have had so young if not for the war making things feel urgent. Jeanne is concerned about being a spinster forever because of the lack of men.
Overall, this is a grim book. Times were tough and the women had to be even tougher to get through it.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
I had another month off of work but starting in August I’ll be earning my keep again. So, this is the last month of big reading numbers.
I read 23 books and novellas this month.
I had a bit of a binge on M.C.A. Hogarth’s novels and short stories.
I read some nonfiction.
The books were:
Set in Syria, Malaya, England, Japan, India, and the U.S. (Minnesota, South Dakota, New York, Pennsylvania, California, Wisconsin)
3 audiobooks – all nonfiction
The authors were:
11 unique female authors and 6 male authors
M.C.A Hogarth 5 times and Seanan McGuire 3 times
1 Indian man, 1 Latina woman (over and over again), 1 Japanese woman, 1 Belgian-Japanese woman, 1 Malaysian woman, 7 white women, and 5 white men.
Women In Translation Month – an August event
I’m going to try to read some of my books in translation for this event. I have a TBR post coming up later in the week. I found this bingo card for the event. So far my book choices are all over the place with no bingo in sight.
Another fun event is this one based on a videogame. You choose your character and follow the book prompts on their path. I’m going to start as a mage and if I finish that I’m going to try the bard path. There are a lot of rules about how to earn points. The squares in the middle are side quests open to everyone.
It doesn’t start until the middle of August and runs for a month. I’m not sure about my TBR yet. A lot of the books I have planned to read for #WITmonth would work here but I’m not sure what I’ll have already read by the time this starts.
I’ll post a TBR and point recording page on August 13, when this starts.
Good Friday on the Rez introduces readers to places and people that author, writer, and entrepreneur David Bunnell encounters during his one day, 280-mile road trip from his boyhood Nebraska hometown to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to visit his longtime friend, Vernell White Thunder, a full-blooded Oglala Lakota, descendant of a long line of prominent chiefs and medicine men.
This captivating narrative is part memoir and part history. Bunnell shares treasured memories of his time living on and teaching at the reservation. Sometimes raw and sometimes uplifting, Bunnell looks back to expose the difficult life and experiences faced by the descendants of Crazy Horse, Red Cloud, and Sitting Bull while also illuminating their courageous resiliency.
The first thing that needs to be made clear is that this is not written by a Native American author. I didn’t realize that until I started reading the book.
The author is a white man who has lived on or near the Pine Ridge Lakota reservation off and on through his life. He is going to visit a man who he met when the author was teaching school on the reservation. Vernell White Thunder was one of his students in the 1970s.
The road trip is used as a narrative device to comment on events from history and current events that affect life on the reservation. As the author passes towns where events occurred, he discusses them. This is a good introduction to the history of United States military treatment of the Native people. He also touches on:
systemic and institutional racism faced by the tribe
the effects of alcoholism
the importance of Wounded Knee (both the massacre in the 1800s and the uprising in the 1970s)
As he gets closer to the reservation, he gives more information about Vernell. He is looking for Perrier and Dinty Moore beef stew to take to Vernell. He tells some jokes that Vernell tells that are very self-deprecating. I have seen reviews that tear this book apart because of this. In every case, the reviewer stopped reading the book at this point because they felt that the author was negatively portraying a native man. I thought that was interesting. I think it is more of a statement of the inherent expectations of the reviewer than the author. They seem to assume that Vernell is going to be a poor man living on the reservation who needs beef stew as charity and that this author is exploiting him.
When you meet Vernell, you find out that he is:
a mentor to local teens
the owner of a resort that gets guests from all over the world
a successful rancher raising buffalo and horses
a large landowner on several reservations
the son of a respected chief who was was taking over more of his father’s duties as his father’s health declined
Vernell White Thunder is so cool that he’s almost a rock star.
The author discusses the changes that he has seen in younger Native generations. He hopes that today’s young people are the Seventh Generation since the military suppression of the tribes that were foretold as the generation who will live up the tribes again. He is hopeful because of the resurgence of tribal language speakers and young people proud of their history.
The author died before publication of the book so it was bittersweet to read about the wonderful things that he wanted to live to see this generation accomplish. Although it discusses a lot of dark history, at the end this is a hopeful book. It is a testament to the people of Pine Ridge and one enduring friendship that started there.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
Since childhood, Anita Hemmings has longed to attend the country’s most exclusive school for women, Vassar College. Now, a bright, beautiful senior in the class of 1897, she is hiding a secret that would have banned her from admission: Anita is the only African-American student ever to attend Vassar. With her olive complexion and dark hair, this daughter of a janitor and descendant of slaves has successfully passed as white, but now finds herself rooming with Louise “Lottie” Taylor, the scion of one of New York’s most prominent families.
Though Anita has kept herself at a distance from her classmates, Lottie’s sphere of influence is inescapable, her energy irresistible, and the two become fast friends. Pulled into her elite world, Anita learns what it’s like to be treated as a wealthy, educated white woman—the person everyone believes her to be—and even finds herself in a heady romance with a moneyed Harvard student. It’s only when Lottie becomes infatuated with Anita’s brother, Frederick, whose skin is almost as light as his sister’s, that the situation becomes particularly perilous. And as Anita’s college graduation looms, those closest to her will be the ones to dangerously threaten her secret.
I loved this story of a woman trying to get an education at Vassar before they accepted African-American students. Her life is compared and contrasted to the life of her brother who was enrolled as a Negro student at newly desegregated MIT. Where he is able to live relatively freely because the racists just ignored and/or avoided him, her attempts to keep from drawing attention to herself were thwarted by a roommate who is determined to be best friends. Lottie drags Anita into a high class social life and introduces her to people who she knows wouldn’t talk to her if they knew she was black.
The book addresses the pain of having to cut family members out of your life if you are passing.
The author did a good job of incorporating the views of many different types of people – black people who saw this as a practical way to get an education, black people who wanted her to be a vocal proponent for civil rights, white people both for and against desegregation, and white people who were against bigotry until events touched their lives.
What I found most remarkable about this story is that it is based on real events. I wasn’t surprised by a woman passing as white to attend a segregated college but I was surprised about some of the details that seemed a bit over the top that turned out to be based in reality. I can’t discuss it all because of spoilers but make sure to read the historical note at the end.
“Between the eighteenth and mid-twentieth centuries, countless African Americans passed as white, leaving behind families and friends, roots and community. It was, as Allyson Hobbs writes, a chosen exile, a separation from one racial identity and the leap into another. This revelatory history of passing explores the possibilities and challenges that racial indeterminacy presented to men and women living in a country obsessed with racial distinctions. It also tells a tale of loss.”
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: