Sunday, April 28, 2013

BW18: Bookish News

In the past year or so I read my first Dean Koontz novel and it was author love at first sight.  Although I positively can't stand horror, I do love psychological thrillers and he does them well. Cold Fire is next up in the stacks for My A to Z Challenge.   I've been enjoying his Odd Thomas series and am so happy that Odd Apocalypse will be available in paperback on April 30th and the next book in the series Deeply Odd will be released May 28th.  It's odd (no pun intended) that there are certain authors whose books I prefer to enjoy in paperback or hardback form, rather than ebook.  I guess it's the whole sensory experience of reading a book and some are just meant to be savored more than others.   And there are some books that you just don't want to end, because when you get there, you want there to be more and if not, just to be left with that satisfied, gourmet meal stuffed feeling and couldn't possibly eat another bite. 

Which leads me to Jessica Soffer of Publisher Weekly's Ten Best Book Endings.  No she doesn't give it away but leaves you with the urge to read the books. 

Speaking of endings,  my favorite group murder mystery writers blog - Murderati - is coming to an end. The contributing authors, including old members who moved on, have spent the month of April reminiscing and saying goodbye.  Be sure to drop by and wish them well on their future endeavors.  Now I need to find a new favorite group blog.

Authors who share their birthdays today:

Lois Duncan
Harper Lee
Alistair MacLean
Terry Pratchett
Ian Rankin
Violet Winspear

 Which reminds me that I have Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird in my stacks which *gasp* I've never read.  Now would be a perfect time, don't you think?  Which classic have you had in your stacks forever but just haven't gotten around to reading it yet?


Link to your reviews:    Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, tell us about the books you are reading in the comment section of this post.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

BW17: Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary

Happy Sunday.  For those of you, including me, working your way through Susan Wise Bauer's Well Educated Mind, today highlighting another book from the list of great fiction. Since we've already read # 8 Moby Dick and since # 9's Uncle Tom's Cabin verbiage is such that I don't feel comfortable posting the first chapter, I'm moving on to # 10 Madame Bovary

Madame Bovary was Gustave's first published novel which he began writing in 1851 and worked on it for 5 years before having it published in the Paris Review in serialized form. The content was considered shocking and vulgar and Gustave, the publisher and the printer were put on trial for insulting public and religious morality. He was cleared due to the support from folks in both the political and artistic arena and the book soon became a bestseller.  The story about Emma Bovary, an unhappily married woman,  who indulges in a number of forbidden relationships in order to escape the emptiness of provincial life. Gustave is said to have been strongly inspired and influenced by French novelist Honore De Balzac’s writings.  

Chapter one

We were in class when the head-master came in, followed by a "new fellow," not wearing the school uniform, and a school servant carrying a large desk. Those who had been asleep woke up, and every one rose as if just surprised at his work.'

The head-master made a sign to us to sit down. Then, turning to the class-master, he said to him in a low voice--'

"Monsieur Roger, here is a pupil whom I recommend to your care; he'll be in the second. If his work and conduct are satisfactory, he will go into one of the upper classes, as becomes his age."

The "new fellow," standing in the corner behind the door so that he could hardly be seen, was a country lad of about fifteen, and taller than any of us. His hair was cut square on his forehead like a village chorister's; he looked reliable, but very ill at ease. Although he was not broad-shouldered, his short school jacket of green cloth with black buttons must have been tight about the arm-holes, and showed at the opening of the cuffs red wrists accustomed to being bare. His legs, in blue stockings, looked out from beneath yellow trousers, drawn tight by braces, He wore stout, ill-cleaned, hob-nailed boots.

We began repeating the lesson. He listened with all his ears, as attentive as if at a sermon, not daring even to cross his legs or lean on his elbow; and when at two o'clock the bell rang, the master was obliged to tell him to fall into line with the rest of us.

When we came back to work, we were in the habit of throwing our caps on the ground so as to have our hands more free; we used from the door to toss them under the form, so that they hit against the wall and made a lot of dust: it was "the thing."

But, whether he had not noticed the trick, or did not dare to attempt it, the "new fellow," was still holding his cap on his knees even after prayers were over. It was one of those head-gears of composite order, in which we can find traces of the bearskin, shako, billycock hat, sealskin cap, and cotton night-cap; one of those poor things, in fine, whose dumb ugliness has depths of expression, like an imbecile's face. Oval, stiffened with whalebone, it began with three round knobs; then came in succession lozenges of velvet and rabbit-skin separated by a red band; after that a sort of bag that ended in a cardboard polygon covered with complicated braiding, from which hung, at the end of a long thin cord, small twisted gold threads in the manner of a tassel. The cap was new; its peak shone.

"Rise," said the master.

He stood up; his cap fell. The whole class began to laugh. He stooped to pick it up. A neighbor knocked it down again with his elbow; he picked it up once more.

"Get rid of your helmet," said the master, who was a bit of a wag.

There was a burst of laughter from the boys, which so thoroughly put the poor lad out of countenance that he did not know whether to keep his cap in his hand, leave it on the ground, or put it on his head. He sat down again and placed it on his knee.

"Rise," repeated the master, "and tell me your name."

The new boy articulated in a stammering voice an unintelligible name.


The same sputtering of syllables was heard, drowned by the tittering of the class.

"Louder!" cried the master; "louder!"

The "new fellow" then took a supreme resolution, opened an inordinately large mouth, and shouted at the top of his voice as if calling someone in the word "Charbovari."

A hubbub broke out, rose in crescendo with bursts of shrill voices (they yelled, barked, stamped, repeated "Charbovari! Charbovari"), then died away into single notes, growing quieter only with great difficulty, and now and again suddenly recommencing along the line of a form whence rose here and there, like a damp cracker going off, a stifled laugh.

However, amid a rain of impositions, order was gradually re-established in the class; and the master having succeeded in catching the name of "Charles Bovary," having had it dictated to him, spelt out, and re-read, at once ordered the poor devil to go and sit down on the punishment form at the foot of the master's desk. He got up, but before going hesitated.

"What are you looking for?" asked the master.

"My c-a-p," timidly said the "new fellow," casting troubled looks round him.

"Five hundred lines for all the class!" shouted in a furious voice stopped, like the Quos ego (A quotation from the Aeneid signifying a threat, a fresh outburst. "Silence!" continued the master indignantly, wiping his brow with his handkerchief, which he had just taken from his cap. "As to you, 'new boy,' you will conjugate 'ridiculous sum' twenty times."'  Then, in a gentler tone, "Come, you'll find your cap again; it hasn't been stolen."

Quiet was restored. Heads bent over desks, and the "new fellow" remained for two hours in an exemplary attitude, although from time to time some paper pellet flipped from the tip of a pen came bang in his face. But he wiped his face with one hand and continued motionless, his eyes lowered.

In the evening, at preparation, he pulled out his pens from his desk, arranged his small belongings, and carefully ruled his paper. We saw him working conscientiously, looking up every word in the dictionary, and taking the greatest pains. Thanks, no doubt, to the willingness he showed, he had not to go down to the class below. But though he knew his rules passably, he had little finish in composition. It was the cure of his village who had taught him his first Latin; his parents, from motives of economy, having sent him to school as late as possible.....

Continue reading Chapter 1 and the rest of the story here or here and for more background on Gustave click here.

Judge a book by cover

Between the folks voting on Well Trained Mind forums and comments here,  The Boy From Reactor 4 received the most votes and the other three books all tied for 2nd. 

 Link to your reviews:    Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, tell us about the books you are reading in the comment section of this post. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

BW16: Judge a book by its cover

Most of the time, when picking out a book at the bookstore or shopping online, I look for a familiar author or a book someone has recommended.  And sometimes there are books that catch my eye because of an intriguing picture or interesting title.  A few years back, a blogger friend of mine posed a challenge to pick a book based on its cover. The catch however was not to read the synopsis or reviews or anything else that would tell you what the book is about.  Pick the book, blog what you think the book is about, then read it and find out if your supposition was correct.   I've actually come across some very interesting books using that method.  So I went on Amazon and looked at  the new releases and chose books by authors I've never read and whose covers and titles interested me.  And the hard part was not looking at the book description.  Easier said than done especially when you are as nosy as I am. But I resisted the temptation and these are the ones I found.

A.G. Riddle - The Atlantis Gene
Kendra Elliot - Buried
James Hankins - Brothers and Bones
Orest Stelmach - The Boy from Reactor 4

So which one do you think I should read?   I'll read the one that receives the most votes and let you know what I think the story is about and what it ended up really being about.   Join in the fun. Go the the library, bookstore or online and  pick a book based on its title or cover.

 Link to your reviews:    Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, tell us about the books you are reading in the comment section of this post. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

BW15: Latin American Poetry

Pablo Neruda

It is apropos we are armchair traveling through South America and April is National Poetry Month. Especially since we have two South American writers who have won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

Gabriel Mistral, the first female Latin American to win the prize in 1945 “for her lyric poetry which, inspired by powerful emotions, has made her name a symbol of the idealistic aspirations of the entire Latin American world”

Chilean poet Pablo Neruda,  who according to Gabrial Garcia Marquez, "is the greatest poet of the 20th century in any language."  Neruda won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971 "for a poetry that with the action of an elemental force brings alive a continent's destiny and dreams"

Not to be overlooked is also North American poet, Octavio Paz from Mexico City, Mexico who was encouraged by Pablo Neruda to write poetry and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1990 "for impassioned writing with wide horizons, characterized by sensuous intelligence and humanistic integrity".


We have to discard the past
and, as one builds
floor by floor, window by window,
and the building rises,
so do we go on throwing down
first, broken tiles,
then pompous doors,
until out of the past
dust rises
as if to crash
against the floor,
smoke rises
as if to catch fire,
and each new day
it gleams
like an empty
There is nothing, there is always nothing.
It has to be filled
with a new, fruitful
then downward
tumbles yesterday
as in a well
falls yesterday's water,
into the cistern
of all still without voice or fire.
It is difficult to teach bones
to disappear,
to teach eyes
to close
we do it
It was all alive,
alive, alive, alive
like a scarlet fish
but time
passed over its dark cloth
and the flash of the fish
drowned and disappeared.
Water water water
the past goes on falling
still a tangle
of bones
and of roots;
it has been, it has been, and now
memories mean nothing.
Now the heavy eyelid
covers the light of the eye
and what was once living
now no longer lives;
what we were, we are not.
And with words, although the letters
still have transparency and sound,
they change, and the mouth changes;
the same mouth is now another mouth;
they change, lips, skin, circulation;
another being has occupied our skeleton;
what once was in us now is not.
It has gone, but if the call, we reply;
"I am here," knowing we are not,
that what once was, was and is lost,
is lost in the past, and now will not return.


Sleep, sleep, my beloved,
without worry, without fear,
although my soul does not sleep,
although I do not rest.

Sleep, sleep, and in the night
may your whispers be softer
than a leaf of grass,
or the silken fleece of lambs.

May my flesh slumber in you,
my worry, my trembling.
In you, may my eyes close
and my heart sleep. 


Listen to me as one listens to the rain,
not attentive, not distracted,
light footsteps, thin drizzle,
water that is air, air that is time,
the day is still leaving,
the night has yet to arrive,
figurations of mist
at the turn of the corner,
figurations of time
at the bend in this pause,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
without listening, hear what I say
with eyes open inward, asleep
with all five senses awake,
it's raining, light footsteps, a murmur of syllables,
air and water, words with no weight:
what we are and are,
the days and years, this moment,
weightless time and heavy sorrow,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
wet asphalt is shining,
steam rises and walks away,
night unfolds and looks at me,
you are you and your body of steam,
you and your face of night,
you and your hair, unhurried lightning,
you cross the street and enter my forehead,
footsteps of water across my eyes,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
the asphalt's shining, you cross the street,
it is the mist, wandering in the night,
it is the night, asleep in your bed,
it is the surge of waves in your breath,
your fingers of water dampen my forehead,
your fingers of flame burn my eyes,
your fingers of air open eyelids of time,
a spring of visions and resurrections,
listen to me as one listens to the rain,
the years go by, the moments return,
do you hear the footsteps in the next room?
not here, not there: you hear them
in another time that is now,
listen to the footsteps of time,
inventor of places with no weight, nowhere,
listen to the rain running over the terrace,
the night is now more night in the grove,
lightning has nestled among the leaves,
a restless garden adrift-go in,
your shadow covers this page. 


Link to your reviews:    Please link to your specific book review post and not your general blog link. In the Your Name field, type in your name and the name of the book in parenthesis. In the Your URL field leave a link to your specific post. If you don't have a blog, tell us about the books you are reading in the comment section of this post.