Book review: How to Walk Away by Katherine Center

How to Walk AwayHow to Walk Away by Katherine Center
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

5 stars.

ARC from the publisher, thank you very much St. Martin’s Press for this early edition; also to Shelf Awareness for the opportunity.

This first person narrative is lovely and real. If I were ever to write fiction, this is a style and voice that would appeal to me.

I *knew* I shouldn’t start this after dinner. As much as I wanted to sleep, “One more chapter, please?” If you start in the morning with an open day, you might be able to tuck this away in one sitting. I’d recommend that, if possible.

Being chronically ill for the last nine years, using a cane or wheelchair for all outings and being in almost constant pain, this book hit home. Life can change overnight (or in an instant) and one has to appreciate the good and live in the moment as much as possible.

From the publisher letter:
“Life can change in the blink of an eye.
But strength is found in weakness.
Laughter lives in the darkest moments.
And love shows up when you learn to move on.”

I can attest to the truth of this.

This book made me laugh out loud, cry more than once (and I rarely cry), and smile wistfully while my heart sang.

Thank you Katherine Center, for a difficult, but beautiful, book.

Read: 3/8-3/9/2018

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Book Review: boston noir edited by Dennis Lehane

Boston NoirBoston Noir by Dennis Lehane

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4 stars.

Collection of short stories by different authors, all taking place in and around Boston.

From mom.

Like many short story collections, I found some of these exceptional and some were “eh”, thus the four star rating. Though Boston is definitely a subject I could read about all day, after reading these tightly written, well constructed, stories, I have discovered Noir is not a good genre for me. Give me a standard 500 page murder mystery or a Victorian tome with a happy ending.

Read 1/27-2/10/2018
From GoodReads:

Brand-new stories by: Dennis Lehane, Stewart O’Nan, Patricia Powell, John Dufresne, Lynne Heitman, Don Lee, Russ Aborn, Itabari Njeri, Jim Fusilli, Brendan DuBois, and Dana Cameron.

Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, The Given Day) has proven himself to be a master of both crime fiction and literary fiction. Here, he extends his literary prowess to that of master curator. In keeping with the Akashic Noir series tradition, each story in Boston Noir is set in a different neighborhood of the city—the impressively diverse collection extends from Roxbury to Cambridge, from Southie to the Boston Harbor, and all stops in between.

Lehane’s own contribution—the longest story in the volume—is set in his beloved home neighborhood of Dorchester and showcases his phenomenal ability to grip the heart, soul, and throat of the reader.

In 2003, Lehane’s novel Mystic River was adapted into film and quickly garnered six Academy Award nominations (with Sean Penn and Tim Robbins each winning Academy Awards). Boston Noir launches in November 2009 just as Shutter Island, the film based on Lehane’s best-selling 2003 novel of the same title, hits the big screen.

Dennis Lehane is the author of The New York Times bestseller Mystic River (also an Academy Award–winning major motion picture); Prayers for Rain; Gone, Baby, Gone (also a major motion picture); Sacred; Darkness, Take My Hand; A Drink Before the War, which won the Shamus Award for Best First Novel; and, most recently, The Given Day. A native of Dorchester, Massachusetts, he splits his time between the Boston area and Florida.

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Book Review: The Magic World by E. Nesbit

The Magic WorldThe Magic World by E. Nesbit

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 stars rounded up.

A delightful collection of children’s stories first published in 1912, but timeless. I wish I’d read these as a child; I love Ms. Nebit’s book The Railway Children, I read and reread when I was young.

Read 1/31-2/10/2018

From GoodReads:

A thoughtless boy learns a lesson from his cat; a magic telescope brings two boys a fortune; a crow, a cat, a fish, all whisk away disgraced children to castles; sensible princes and princesses outwit curses ..
1 The Cat-hood of Maurice
2 The Mixed Mine
3 Accidental Magic
4 The Princess and the Hedge-pig
5 Septimus Septimusson
6 The White Cat
7 Belinda and Bellamant
8 Justnowland
9 The Related Muff
10 The Aunt and Amabel
11 Kenneth and the Carp
12 The Magician’s Hear

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Book Review: The Solitary Summer by Elizabeth Von Arnim

The Solitary SummerThe Solitary Summer by Elizabeth von Arnim

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I began this book in October 2015, however had to set aside by page 34 due to problems with my eyes. I coincidentally picked almost exactly a year later, when I was able to read again. During my first go, I noted, “Very wise – many quotes could be pulled from the pages,” and then followed this with two:

pg. 4: “They found it dull, I know, but that of course was their own fault; how can you make a person happy against his will? You can knock a great deal into him in the way of learning and what the schools call extras, but if you try for ever you will not knock any happiness into a being who has not got it in him to be happy. The only result probably would be that you knock your own out of yourself. Obviously happiness must come from within, and not from without; and judging from my past experience and my present sensations, I should say that I have a store just now within me more than sufficient to fill five quiet months.”

pg. 32: “I know what I would do if I were both poor and genteel — the gentility should go to the place of all good iliities, including utility, respectability, and imbecility, and I would sit, quite frankly poor, with a piece of bread, and a pot of geraniums, and a book. I conclude that if I did without the things erroneously supposed necessary to decency I might be able to afford a geranium, because I see them so often in the windows of cottages where there is little else; and if I preferred such inexpensive indulgences as thinking and reading and wandering in the fields to the doubtful gratification arising from kept-up appearances (always for the bedazzlement of the people opposite, and therefore always vulgar), I believe I should have enough left over to buy a radish to eat with my bread; and if the weather were fine, and I could eat it under a tree, and give a robin some crumbs in return for his cheeriness, would there be another creature in the world so happy? I know there would not.

Shortly after this I stopped and, as I mention above, resumed October 14, 2016. It’s a short book and I devoured the rest. My thought coming away was, for the first time in my 47 year (other than one of the Alcott girls), “if I could be anyone from the past, I think I should like to have been Elizabeth von Arnim.”

In her own words: (pg.73) “Keep quiet and say one’s prayers — certainly not merely the best, but the only things to do if one would be truly happy; but, ashamed of asking when I have received so much, the only form of prayer I would use would be a form of thanksgiving.”

She was not a Buddhist, but she and her husband we voracious readers and she has a wide philosophy. This little book will stay near me.

Read 2015-2016, this book remains special to me.

From GoodReads: Hailed as “one of the three finest wits of her day,” the Countess Elizabeth von Arnim cemented her literary reputation with this companion work to her extraordinarily popular first novel, the semi-autobiographical Elizabeth and Her German Garden (also available from Cosimo Classics). First published in 1899, this is a proto-feminist account of one woman’s attempt to carve out of a space of her own-away from the husband she only half jokingly refers to as her “Man of Wrath”-in the rambling gardens of the family’s county estate. By turns bitingly satirical and achingly lovely, this will delight fans of von Armin’s friends and fellow writers E.M. Forster and Katherine Mansfield. British novelist ELIZABETH VON ARNIM (1866-1941) is also the author of Enchanted April.

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#24in48 12 hour question 

Hour 12: What is the best first line from the books on your 24in48 stack?

It’s a tie…
“The starting point is a question.” from The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
“The artist is the creator of beautiful things.” from The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, in the Complete Works of Oscar Wilde, Collins edition.