A Monday Morning Poem

Because we’ve been talking about poetry over at The Classics Club this month, I felt the need to share this one. I subscribe to The Writer’s Almanac daily email, and this was the poem of the day for today. It’s just so right. I have a 10-year-old who recently told me that books are her best friend, and this guy totally gets that.

For My Son, Reading Harry Potter

by Michael Blumenthal

How lovely, to be lost
as you are now
in someone else’s thoughts
an imagined world
of witchcraft, wizardry and clans
that takes you in so utterly
all the ceaseless background noise
of life’s insistent pull and drag soon fades
and you are left, a young boy
captured in attention’s undivided daze,
as I was once
when books defined a world
no trouble could yet penetrate
or others spoil, or regret stain,
when, between covers, under covers,
all is safe and sure
and each Odysseus makes it home again
and every transformation is to bird or bush
or to a star atwinkle in some firmament of light,
or to a club that lets you, and all others, in.
Oh, how I wish for you
that life may let you turn and turn
these pages, in whose spell
time is frozen, as is pain and fright and loss
before you’re destined to be lost again
in that disordered and distressing book
your life will write for you and cannot change.

Classics Club: October Meme

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Even though I’ve been a very bad Classics Club member lately, I am going to try to get back in the game with the monthly meme question.

Let’s talk about classic poetry! Have you got a favorite classic poem? Do you read poetry? Why or why not? // You could also feature a poet or a book of poetry, rather than a poem.

I do love poetry, but it has taken me a long time to find the kind of poetry I most enjoy. Some of my favorite poets include Billy Collins, Naomi Shihab Nye (who I saw give a reading in college but didn’t fully appreciate at the time, unfortunately), Carol Ann Duffy and Mary Oliver, to name a few. I’m not sure they really count as “classic” poets, though, as they are mostly modern ones.

There are two classics poets that I read in school and who really stuck with me, however. The first is Sappho, whose ancient Greek poetry reads like something a modern day woman could have written. I had to read an entire book of her poetry in college and I flew through it in one night, totally enchanted.

The classic poet who taught me to really appreciate poetry, though, is William Carlos Williams. I can remember reading the following poem one day and all of a sudden I just GOT it. I understood what imagery really was and why it was such a big deal. Williams made me realize that poetry doesn’t have to be complicated and indecipherable and full of $10 vocabulary words to be meaningful and beautiful.

“This is just to say”

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Head over to The Classics Club to see what other members are talking about…

Library Loot: October 1 – 8

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

Technically, I should not be library looting this week because I’m supposed to be sticking to Droooooood!  But I have this little weakness, and when I took my daughters to the library for an event last week I may have given in to my weakness and checked out a few new books. Here’s the stash:

library-loot

1. Drood by Dan Simmons

See? Top of the pile. Top priority. Total chunkster.

2. Cop Town by Karin Slaughter

I’ve been wanting to read this new one by Slaughter for a while now, so hopefully I can sneak it in this month. Maybe during Readathon?

3. Moonrise by Cassandra King

After hearing King speak at the Decatur Book Festival back in August, I really wanted to try something of hers. This is her most recent novel and it is a retelling/reimagining of Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier set in the South.

4. Touchstone by Laurie R. King

I reviewed the second book in this series last year (The Bones of Paris) before I knew there was a first one.

5. Someday, Someday Maybe by Lauren Graham

Another one I picked up with Readathon in mind. I heart Lauren Graham.

6. and 7. Stitch and Bitch Handbook and Doodle Stitching

These last two are crafting books so I don’t technically count them as books to read–they are more for reference and inspiration.

Now you shouldn’t see any more library loot posts this month because I need to get going on Droooood. Hope your week is full of great reading–

The September Wrap-Up

Tap, tap, tap. Is this thing on?

September passed in a whirlwind of driving and shopping and packing and unpacking and more driving. We finally received all of our belongings about five days ago and I’ve been trying to get it closer to feeling like home ever since. We’re getting there. The kitchen is done (woo-hoo!) and hopefully the rest of the house will follow suit in the next month. My goal is to be officially settled by Halloween. Doable, right?

Other progress this month: we both have cars, so no more ferrying the husband to work and back or being stuck at home. The girls are getting used to school in the U.S. and making friends. The husband is enjoying his new job so far. We are all enjoying Netflix and Pandora (Orange is the New Black is our current favorite show). Of course, Netflix finally made it to France this past month as well. They were obviously just waiting for me to leave!

So life is zipping along, and while I’ve been too busy to think about working so far, I’m starting to now. Hopefully a good opportunity will present itself soon.

Despite the wealth of reading material here in the U.S., I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to indulge myself much this past month. I’m behind on my yearly reading challenge, and I only finished two books this month! Sad, I know. In September, I read:

  1. Indelible by Karin Slaughter
  2. Through the Evil Days by Julia Spencer-Fleming

Both are books in a mystery series, and while I liked them both they were nothing to wow about. I was a bit disappointed by the Spencer-Fleming, as I’d been looking forward to reading this latest one for a while now. It was just okay.

I’m trying to slow down on checking out books from the library because I’m not able to keep up the pace at the moment. I also decided to participate in Trish’s readalong of Drood in October, and I seriously doubt I will have time for anything else this month. That is one BIG book.

 I hope your October is a delightful one full of fall fun and Halloween spookiness (if you’re into that kind of thing). Have a great month–

Library Loot: September 10 – 16

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

I’m excited that I finally get to participate in library loot again, because I have a local library! Now I can go wild with my TBR list. This week I’m showcasing the books that I’ve been stockpiling since we got here. I’m almost finished with Through the Evil Days, but even so I doubt I will get through all of these in two weeks! I’m going to have to learn to pace myself.

This week’s library loot:

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I borrowed The Lottery for R.I.P. season reading, even though I haven’t managed to officially sign up yet. Ditto for A Killing in the Hills, which I’ve had on the TBR for a while now. I saw Patti Callahan Henry at the Decatur Book Festival last month and she mentioned this book in particular, so I’m going to see what I think of her writing with And Then I Found You. Written in Red was recommended to me by my friend Marg, so I have no doubt I will enjoy it. Finally, Raising Freethinkers in a book I’ve heard a lot about and I’m hoping it will give me some practical ideas to use as I try to raise my own pair of freethinking kids.

I also looted a CD (not pictured)–the latest from Passenger. The girls and I have become a bit obsessed with the man/band lately, as we’ve been spending way too much time in the car (my husband and I are sharing a rental until we get our own cars here in the U.S.) My daughters know all the words and sing along loudly. I’ll leave you with one of our favorites–have a great week!

The August Wrap-Up

Well, hmm. Here it is September 10th and I am only now getting around to writing my August wrap-up. I could blame our recent move, but the fact is that I’m just much more interested in reading than I am in blogging these days. I’m reveling in the fact that I have my very own library. Technically it belongs to everyone in our county, but it feels deliciously ALL MINE.

In August, I read five books:

  1. Room by Emma Donoghue
  2. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
  3. Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  4. In the Woods by Tana French
  5. The Likeness by Tana French

My favorite of the bunch was probably The Sky is Everywhere, which features some very unique characters and a fresh voice that was unlike anything else I’ve read in YA (well, except for the ending, which got way too lovey-dovey for my tastes). I liked the two Tana French mysteries as well, although there is a frustrating lack of resolution for any of her characters.

I had some book-related fun at the end of August as I attended the Decatur Book Festival, a three-day independent book festival held every year in a local town. I was lucky enough to get to meet Pat Conroy, and I also went to several panel discussions featuring some of my favorite local writers, including Joshilyn Jackson and Karin Slaughter. I came away with even more books to add to my to-read list.

As for the non-reading portion of my life, August was crazy but things are starting to settle down now. We still have some (big) things to take care of but we are getting there. Fingers crossed that by the time I post my September update (which at this rate may be by Halloween), that we’ll at least have cars to drive and (please, please) have sold our apartment in France.

Hope you all had a great August and that September is already shaping up to be a good one for you–happy reading!

2 A.M. at The Cat’s Pyjamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

cat's pyjamasFormat: e-book galley

Length: 272 pages

Publisher: Crown

Source: TLC Book Tours / NetGalley

From the publisher:

Madeleine Altimari is a smart-mouthed, precocious nine-year-old and an aspiring jazz singer. As she mourns the recent death of her mother, she doesn’t realize that on Christmas Eve she is about to have the most extraordinary day—and night—of her life. After bravely facing down mean-spirited classmates and rejection at school, Madeleine doggedly searches for Philadelphia’s legendary jazz club The Cat’s Pajamas, where she’s determined to make her on-stage debut. On the same day, her fifth grade teacher Sarina Greene, who’s just moved back to Philly after a divorce, is nervously looking forward to a dinner party that will reunite her with an old high school crush, afraid to hope that sparks might fly again. And across town at The Cat’s Pajamas, club owner Lorca discovers that his beloved haunt may have to close forever, unless someone can find a way to quickly raise the $30,000 that would save it.

As these three lost souls search for love, music and hope on the snow-covered streets of Philadelphia, together they will discover life’s endless possibilities over the course of one magical night.

Here’s what I thought:

The world of 2. A.M. at The Cat’s Pyjamas in populated by a host of interesting, quirky characters whose actions and interactions over the course of one evening make up the storyline for this fresh new novel. The main characters–Madeleine, Sarina, and Lorca–are memorable enough, but the many minor characters, while well-drawn, start to blur together by their sheer numbers. I found myself getting confused at several points while reading as I tried to keep them all straight.

Bertino’s writing zips along, and as such the novel is a quick read. I enjoyed the story overall, as it reminded me of the work of Maria Semple, one of my favorite writers. Unlike Semple’s writing, though, I felt that this book was lacking in emotional depth. The character of Madeleine, in particular, was so cynical and cold as to be unbelievable. As the mother of two daughters, I have never encountered a nine-year-old who acted remotely like her.

I would recommend this book to readers looking for a snappy, original read, but not to those looking for a more meaningful reading experience.

About the author:

marie-helene bertinoMarie-Helene Bertino’s debut novel 2 AM AT THE CAT’S PAJAMAS will be published by Crown in August, 2014. Her collection of short stories SAFE AS HOUSES received The 2012 Iowa Short Fiction Award and the Pushcart Prize and was long-listed for the Frank O’Connor Short Story Award and The Story Prize. She hails from Philadelphia and lives in Brooklyn. She was an Emerging Writer Fellow at NYC’s Center for Fiction and teaches at NYU, Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop, The Center for Fiction, and One Story’s Emerging Writer’s Workshop, where she was the Associate Editor for 6 years. She has received fellowships from The MacDowell Colony and Hedgebrook and currently works as a biographer of people with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).

For more information, visit: www.mariehelenebertino.com

Thanks so much to TLC Book Tours and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book and giving me a chance to share my review.

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