May 25, 2024

A House Like An Accordian by Audrey Burges “We all want to know where we came from.”


Keryth discovers one morning that her hand is disappearing. It is fading from sight completely, such that she finds a pair of green gloves, and puts them on before coming down to her husband, Max, and her two daughters. Only Keryth understands what is going on, and what she must do: she must find her father, the man who could draw things into existence. The man who told her not to use her own artistic skill, but instead taught her to be afraid of it. Keryth grew up believing that whenever she was creative, harm would come to those she loved.

Her brother, for example, tragically disappeared into a pond one horrible night when she was sixteen. Her boyfriend, Tobias, was left behind by Keryth, lest he too, become wounded by her.

Her husband, Max, uses Artificial Intelligence to “recreate” his father, Harold. Harold’s voice speaks to the family from the ceiling, or his nimbus appears on their phones, suddenly giving advice when it is needed. And, sometimes, when it is not. It seems that both Keryth and Max are trying to recover things that they have lost. Or, more importantly, the people they have lost.

In this book of fantasy, I found myself pierced by many of the things that Keryth feels. “I wanted to be perfect, and I wanted to be perfect right away, without any practice at all.” Of course this is a completely unrealistic expectation, but one I have experienced myself when I, too, was a child.

She draws a Stellar jay in her sketchbook, a bird who seems trapped within its pages. In many ways, this bird resembles Keryth herself. “There’s a bird in my book,” I wanted to say. “And I’m the bird, and I don’t know how to set myself free anymore.”

And so, Keryth leaves her family behind, to let herself move forward. To find out where her father was, and what he was doing, as her disappearing hand, then arm, was directly linked to him. “He was drawing me - I knew I had to find him.”

It is a strange and magical journey on which she embarks. In some ways, my imagination was greatly stretched. In others, I find that journey to be exactly what it entails to find the answers we want: to know who we are, and from where we came. 

(I thank Berkley for the opportunity to read and review A House Like An Accordian, and to participate in the blog tour for its publication on May 21, 2024.)

May 24, 2024

Memorial Day weekend begins, but first the cicadas…

Can you hear the cicadas where you live? When I’m cycling down the bike path, or walking along the river, there is a persistent thrum almost like alien spaceships on The Twilight Zone episodes we watch every New Year’s Eve. These aren’t locusts, I’m told, the insects of the eighth plague from which Pharaoh begged Moses to be free. These are specific broods of cicadas, and that is about all I want to know about them.



When I went to the public library to pick up a few books I had on hold, the children’s section had free coloring sheets from the Illinois Extension of the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. Always appeasing the child within, I picked up a few pages and happily spent the morning with it and my colored pencils.



But, there is a more serious aspect to this weekend. Memorial Day brings a somber mood to me. I grew up with the Vietnam War very up close. Our neighborhood suffered the loss of several young men, in what seems a cruel, and pointless war. (Aren’t they all?) Some of my dearest friends went to college so they would not be drafted. 



My father came home from the Korean War. My son escaped the war in Afghanistan when he was a Marine.  But, so many have not come home, have not escaped. I remember their sacrifice. This is not a weekend for only enjoying  picnics and parades. It is to remember that we are the country which is the land of the free, and the home of the brave, because of those who have fought to keep it that way. May we always remember.

May 18, 2024

Twenty Books of Summer. Or, Looking Forward To Fulfilling This Year’s Reading Events from the Blogging World.

 


One of the best things about blogging sporadically, as I have been doing, is coming back to the beloved events which continue on each year. I have spent the most joyous evening comprising my list for 20 Books of Summer, which happily include books for other challenges, as well as books promised to review for publishers, and books I’ve simply been longing to open.



For Paris in July 2024, I’ve chosen to read:


The Postcard by Anne Berest



The Paris Novel by Ruth Reichl

and


Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik, which is a reread for me.


For A Year With John Banville, I’ve chosen to read:


The Sea by John Banville



For Reading Orwell 2024, I’ve chosen to read:


1984 by George Orwell 



And for Moomin Week I’ve chosen to read:



Moominsummer Madness by Tove Jansson

And now we come to books I’ve promised to review for the publishers who sent them to me, including:


youthjuice by e.k. sathue




Tasmania by Paolo Giordano







Catalina by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio





Women And Children First by Alina Grabowski


And for these books which have caught my eye and I’ve purchased on my own:


Her Side of The Story by Alba De Cespedes (because I loved Forbidden Notebook)


Long Island by Colm Toibin


The Hunter by Tana French 




The New York Trilogy by Paul Auster, as I have never read it and was saddened to read of his death on May 7, 2024 at age 77.

If you’ve been counting, this is only 19 books. The 20th will be the book of Revelation, last book of the Bible, in preparation for Bible Study Fellowship International this Fall. We will be studying this book during the 2024-2025 year, for which I am so honored to lead a group of women. 

And so, as my grandfather would say after finishing a hearty meal, “That oughtta hold you!” Indeed, I think it shall. Except, how will I wait until June to begin?


May 1, 2024

Robert B. Parker and Spenser. Oh, that they still lived.


“Nothing makes a thriller look better than the International Booker Prize longlist this year.”


I found this thought, while flipping through my Hobonichi, written this March. While it may surprise you that I found the list of books chosen to contend for the International Booker Prize 2024 less than inspiring, it should not come as a surprise to learn of my passion for thrillers. Mysteries that are well written, that is. Mysteries like those written by Tana French, or Ken Follett, or most especially, Robert B. Parker.

I’d refer you to posts I’ve written about Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series, but they’re all deleted. So, I’ll have to tell you here, briefly, that Spenser is everything I love in a man.

He is brave and strong and courageous. He has integrity and compassion and excellence. He is witty and tender and tough all at the same time. Parker gives us a complete picture of this character, so real he seems born of flesh to me.

But, I also love that Parker speaks of things long gone, which I remember clearly. Like eating at a Hamburger Hamlet, or a kid turning on the television, and waiting for it to warm up before watching My Three Sons. I like being reminded of the styles in decades past, such as the horrible polyester suits with white leather belts, or mini skirts and jumpsuits. It’s such a wonderful, nostalgic gift to me.

I have read all of the Spenser books before, but this time, I am rereading them in order. Starting from the very first, The Godwulf Manuscript, (which, frankly, isn’t nearly as developed as the subsequent books in the series) and working my way to the very last Silent Night, which is the fortieth book.

Along the way we meet Hawk and Susan Silverman, Rachel Wallace and Paul Giacomin. Their relationships deepen and develop as we go along, and I am in my element, spending time as if with friends. As soon as I put down my iPad, I will pick up book number eight, A Savage Place. But, it will be hard to surpass what may be my favorite of all, which I have just finished: Early Autumn, in which Spenser assumes responsibility for a fifteen year old kid, rejected by his parents, to help him grow into a man of his own.