Siri Hustvedt’s What I Loved (Bloggerversary Challenge)


What I Loved: A Novel

What I Loved: A Novel by Siri Hustvedt | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

Title: What I Loved: A Novel
Author: Siri Hustvedt
ISBN: 9780312421199
Length: 370 pages
Publication Date: 2003
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Psychological Fiction
Source: Harris County Public Library

Bloggerversary Giveaway

Goodreads

Reasons for Reading: As I perused the 1001 Books list for a 2000s book,  I noticed Siri Hustvedt’s What I Loved and posted this book as an option for my annual challenge. Since What I Loved was less than four hundred pages, I felt reading it wouldn’t take me long.  Hustvedt’s book received the majority of votes and I requested it from Harris County Public Library (HCPL).

Summary: Beginning in 1975 New York City, art historian Leo Hertzberg (narrator of the story) finds a painting which entrances him in a SoHo gallery. After buying the painting, he tracks down Bill Wechsler, the artist. Hertzberg and Wechsler build a great friendship spanning twenty-five years. Additionally, their wives, Erica and Lucille, respectively, fall pregnant. Hertzberg and Erica have Matthew while Wechsler and Lucille have Mark. Later, Wechsler becomes involved with his muse, Violet. The novel follows these relationships; their joys and losses.

One Thing I Learned from this book: I knew macular deg

What I Loved: The rich characterization brought these characters to life. I saw Bill Wechsler as well as Lucille and Violet. The clarity amazed me.

What I Loathed: Not in the stupid sense of this word; this book was dense. Normally, I can read roughly twenty pages in an evening. However, it took me that long to read a single paragraph. Yes, even the title provided hints of things to come in this novel. I spent the first part braced for the crash. When it happened, boy, did it!

RR - Orange

Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 

 

Song: Paul Mauriat – Love is Blue (HQ)

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Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken


Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand | Jorie's Store @ Amazon

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

 

Title: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
Author: Laua Hillenbrand, Narrated by Edward Herrmann
ISBN: 9781415962763
Length: 13 hours, 56 minutes
Publication Date: November 16, 2010
Publisher: Random House Audio
Genre: Biography, History, Word War II History, Military History
Source: Harris County Public Library Digital Media Catalog

Goodreads

Reasons for Reading: I wanted to read Unbroken ever since I watched a “CBS Sunday Morning” segment about Louis Zamperini and Laura Hillenbrand. Soon after, I won a Nook Tablet and, thus, began my journey of requesting and re-requesting Unbroken until I finished it in 2014. I’ve checked out both eBook and eAudio of Unbroken from HCPL’s Overdrive.

Summary: Wild and crazy Louis Silvie Zamperini seemed unstoppable. His hi-jinx earned him a reputation in his hometown of Torrance, California while his amazing speed gave him a ticket to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. He went on to become an Army Air Forces bombardier. He fought in the Pacific Theater. His bomber crashed in the Pacific Ocean in May, 1943. Many believed Zamperini and others on board died in the crash.

Unbeaten, Zamperini rose to the surface of the ocean and pulled himself onto a life raft. He and two other crew members survived the crash. The three floated, awaiting help. Ultimately, Japanese fighters discovered the castaways. The journey continues, testing an unbreakable spirit.

One Thing I Learned from this book: One real threat to humanity was the pseudoscience of eugenics, “the belief and practice of improving the genetic quality of the human population” (Wikipedia, 2014).  To discover more, click on the following linked phrase – Eugenics – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

What I Liked: I liked Zamperini and his rough and tumble family. I easily slipped into his world as Hillenbrand set the scene well. I’ll admit this fits under the heading of  “stranger than fiction.”

What I Disliked: I wanted a little more between the last chapter and the penultimate chapter and the epilogue. As this may spoil the ending, I will not say anything more about the ending.

RR - Orange

Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17

A Few Notes: I finished reading Unbroken a short while before our hero’s passing in July. To see previous posts about the subject of Unbroken, check out the following links:

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Ann Brashares’ My Name is Memory


My Name is Memory

My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

 

Title: My Name is Memory
Author: Ann Brashares
ISBN: 9781594487583
Length: 324 pages
Publication Date: June 01, 2010
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
Source: Harris County Public Library

Goodreads

Reasons for Reading: I came across this title on someone else’s Top Ten Tuesday list back in March. The premise and author Ann Brashares caught my interest. Quickly, I discovered a few copies of My Name is Memory on the shelf at a Harris County Public Library (HCPL) branch and checked out one.

Warning: This is a work of fiction which deals with the subject of reincarnation (past lives). If reincarnation is an offensive topic, please consider yourself warned. 

Summary: Lucy’s crush on the enigmatic Daniel kept her from approaching him. She gathers up courage at the high school graduation dance and approaches Daniel. Little does she know that she and Daniel go way, way back. Unlike most, Daniel recalls each of his past lives. In the first incarnation (that he remembers), Daniel encountered a woman (Lucy) that stole his heart. With each life, Daniel doggedly pursues a seemingly star-crossed love of his lives, the woman who once was called Sophia. Added to a mix is a vengeful brother from that fateful first life who’s after blood. Brashares employs both Daniel’s first person and Lucy/Sophia’s third-person views. This tale of epic proportions begins in 552 AD Asia Minor and carries on through to 1918 England and Twenty-First Century Virginia.

One Thing I Learned from this book: There was an earthquake in AD 526. To learn more about it, visit the following, linked phrase – 526 Antioch Earthquake – Wikipedia

What I Liked: As a historical fiction fan, I enjoyed the passages set in the past. I especially liked reading about events in the First Millennium AD. Also, Brashares’ characters in this book differed greatly from those in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series. While I enjoyed reading about Carmen, Lena, Tibby, and Bridget, I appreciate Brashares’ originality in character formation.

What I Disliked: I refuse to spoil the ending but I hope Brashares can write the other books planned involving Daniel and Lucy.

RR - Orange

Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 

 

Song: Nat King Cole, Unforgettable

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Ruta Sepetys’ Out of the Easy


Out of The Easy

Jorie’s Store – Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Title and Author(s):  Ruta Sepetys’ Out of the Easy

Release Date: February 12, 2013
Publisher: Philomel; First Edition edition

ISBN: 978-0399256929
Pages: 352
Source: Harris County Public Library 

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Reasons for Reading: After reading Ruta Sepetys’ Between Shades of Gray (not to be confused with the infamous E.L. James trilogy), I wanted to read Sepetys’ sophomore effort. Additionally, the setting of New Orleans appealed to me. I placed a request on it and excitedly received the book in 2014.

Summary: In 1950, seventeen year old Josie Moraine barely makes ends meet working in the French Quarter. Her erratic, somewhat estranged mother works as a prostitute. Josie longs to make her way out of New Orleans and to the Ivy Leagues. Around New Year’s Day, a wealthy man from Tennessee turns up dead. When the crime seems to lead to Josie’s mother and her shady boyfriend, Josie finds herself embroiled.

One Thing I Learned from this book: I hadn’t realized Tulane had a sister college – Newcomb.

What I Liked: The fantastic setting of New Orleans appealed to me again. Sepetys’ also diverged greatly from that of Between Shades of Gray. Nonetheless, the characters and situations described still made me want to know what would happen to them as they did in Sepetys’ first novel.

What I Disliked: I wasn’t happy with Josie’s mother being a sociopath sort of whore. Also, I thought there were too many evildoers in this book.

RR - Orange

Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 


Song: 
Shirley and Lee – Let the Good Times Roll

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Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Revisited Challenge)


Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Three Stories By Truman Capote | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

 
Title and Author(s):  Truman Capote’s
Release Date: 1958

Publisher: Vintage

ISBN: 978-0679745655
Hours: 160
Source: Harris County Public Library 

* 1001 Books Book

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Reasons for Reading: Initially, I listened to this novella on audiotape. I enjoyed how more than one actor read different parts in the story. However, I considered Elizabeth Ashley of “Evening Shade” fame an odd selection for the voice of Holly Golightly. Nevertheless, I never reviewed this Truman Capote classic. When Breakfast at Tiffany’s won in the Revisited Challenge, I read a printed version.

Summary: An unnamed narrator befriends his enchanting neighbor, Holly Golightly, in the autumn of 1943. Holly insists on referring to the narrator as “Fred” because he reminds her of her older brother. “Fred” and Holly live in apartments in the same brownstone which is located in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Holly is only a eighteen or nineteen year old girl from the country. Yet, she’s turned into a cosmopolitan darling of cafe society. Holly holds no job and maintains her lifestyle by socializing with wealthy men. These men take her out on the town and shower her with money and expensive gifts. Author Capote called Holly an American geisha.

One Thing I Learned from this book: I saw the film before I read the book. I was surprised that the events of the book took place in 1943-44.

What I Liked: I liked the narrator’s tone throughout the novella. As a reader, I felt his warmth and affection, especially towards Holly Golightly.

What I Disliked: Yet, I wasn’t quite comfortable with this American geisha lifestyle.

RR - Orange  Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 


Song: 
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (3/9) Movie CLIP – Moon River (1961) 

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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (Revisited Challenge)


Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

 
Title and Author(s):  Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave 
Release Date: 08/01/2005
ISBN: 9781593080419
Pages: 160
Source: (Barnes & Noble Classics) 

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Reasons for Reading: I first read Frederick Douglass’ autobiography as a college student. As one of the winners in the Revisited Challenge, I bought a copy at my local Barnes & Noble.

Summary: Originally published in 1845, Douglass recalls the abuse and deprivation he suffered as a slave in Maryland. Douglass also reveals how he was inadvertently encouraged to read and write. The combination of these elements brought forth a strong, determined individual who lent a hand into reshaping his world.

One Thing I Learned from this book: Maryland was rather Southern in Antebellum USA.

What I Liked: I could easily see and comprehend Douglass’ plight. Also, I knew this work was an autobiography so I had some idea that things would end better for Douglass.

What I Disliked: I hated that anyone had to endure such tragedy.

RR - Orange  Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 

Song: Morehouse College – We Shall Overcome

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Starlight Reviews – Ruta Sepetys’ “Between Shades of Gray” & Sean McCollum’s “Joseph Stalin”



Starlight Reviews | Jorie's Reads by Starry Night Elf

Inspired by Kimba the Caffeinated the Book Reviewer’s Coffee Pot Reviews, Starlight Reviews groups two or more complimentary books for one concise review. While not necessarily an in-depth analysis, Starlight Reviews offers the Jorie’s Reads audience the gist of the books as well as my opinions.  

For the maiden voyage, here are Starlight Reviews for Ruta Sepetys’ Between Shades of Gray and  Sean McCollum’s Joseph Stalin (A Wicked History) 

Summer is for Lovers
Between Shades of Gray 
by Ruta Sepetys
Publisher: Penguin Group US
Publication date: Mar 22, 2011
Genre: Historical Fiction
ISBN: 9781101476154
Source: HCPL Digital Media Catalog 

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Lithuanian fifteen-year old Lina Vilkas lives comfortably with her academic parents and younger brother, Jonas. Her family nurtures her artistic abilities. That changes, however, on June 14, 1941  when Soviet officers (NKVD)  invade her home,  taking Lina, her mother (Elena), and Jonas as prisoners. Separated from Lina’s father, the three find themselves sentenced to the Siberian work camps. Throughout this ordeal, Lina records this harrowing journey through illustration (although not seen in the novel).

Sepetys relates her tale in clear, understandable terms and I truly imagined Lina’s world. Also, Sepetys captured a teenage girl’s view quite well. However, this book loses a pearl due to the ending not tying up some significant loose ends.

Since the story centers around rather bleak, adult subjects, I strongly suggest that parents read this book before their younger, more impressionable kids pick up this book. While not gratuitous, this novel’s backdrop consists of genocide, violence, cruelty, and degradation.

RR - Orange  Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 

The Ruin of A Rogue
Joseph Staling (A Wicked History Series)
by Sean McCollum
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication date: Sep 01, 2010
Genre: Biography
ISBN: 978-0531223550
Source: HCPL 

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Like other books in “A Wicked History Series,” this juvenile/young adult biography features:

– Opening quote by or about the featured villain/villainess
– Historical map, annotated with key locations from person’s life
– “A Wicked Web” featuring allies and enemies
– Historical photos and etchings
– Boxes with additional information
– Photo documentaries: six to eight pages of photos and captions telling the person’s life
– Timeline, glossary, additional sources
– Engaging narrative nonfiction written at a very accessible reading level (Goodreads)

Yet, this is a Twentieth Century villain. So, there’s no question as to whether Joseph Stalin was wicked. In this 128-page book, McCollum tells the life story of Joseph Stalin, from birth to death. McCollum tells of a post-Stalin event which portrays the depravity of Stalin – relating to some of those work (death) camps I read about in Between Shades of Gray. 

I found this biography accessible and easy to read. It took me longer to get through it because my dad decided to read it while I had it checked out. I liked getting the basics and not being bogged down by footnotes and details.

RR - Orange  Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 

Jack Keroauc’s On the Road (Revisited Challenge)


On the Road by Jack Kerouac | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

 
Title and Author(s):  Jack Kerouac and Matt Dillon’s On the Road
Release Date: 2000

Publisher: Caedmon

ISBN: 9780060755331
Hours: 11 
Source: Harris County Public Library 

* 1001 Books Book

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Reasons for Reading: I read this book a few years ago since it’s hailed as the book of the Beat Generation. Fortunately, I listened to the the version that actor Matt Dillon read. When On the Road won in the Revisited Challenge, I happily checked out the Matt Dillon version for the second time.

Summary: (This autobiographical narrative uses pseudonyms per publisher’s demands.) Salvatore “Sal” Paradise (Kerouac) tells the narrative of adventures had in the late 1940s and early 1950s “on the road” with his new found, free-spirited friend Dean Moriarty (Neal Cassady). Through these treks, Dean and Sal use many drugs, drink many boos, and “sleep” with numerous partners. Sometimes, they stay with different Beats (Carlo Marx/Allen Ginsburg and Old Bull Lee/William S. Burroughs), and other times Beats join them on their trips. Also at play are the tensions between Dean’s partners Marylou (Luanne Henderson) and Camille (Carolyn Cassaday).

One Thing I Learned from this book: Previously, I’d thought the Beats were just the 1950s predecessors to the Hippies of the 1960s. Now, I see the differences along with the similarities between the two groups.

What I Liked: I really am glad I heard Matt Dillon read this book. Also, Kerouac’s prose clearly expresses the events.

What I Disliked: However, I didn’t care much for the characters. They’re lazy and wasteful; lowlifes. Lastly, I didn’t like the way women were treated in this book.

RR - Orange  Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 


Song: 
Ricky Nelson – Hello Mary Lou (with solo by James Burton)

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Sandra Brown’s Low Pressure


Low Pressure by Sandra Brown | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

 
Title and Author(s):  Sandra Brown’s Low Pressure
Release Date: Sept 18, 2012

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing 

ISBN: 9781455525188
Pages: 480
Source: eBranch Harris County Public Library 

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Reasons for Reading: Author Sandra Brown resides on my Author Alerts list. I normally enjoy the dialogue between Brown’s characters. Like Brown, I grew up in Texas and appreciate the local color which creates the settings for her stories. When  I discovered Low Pressure took place in Austin, Texas, I requested an eBook version of her latest.

Summary: When a tornado struck an Austin-area state park, twelve-year old Bellamy Lyston lost her teenage sister, Susan. The tornado didn’t kill Susan, though. Her murder destroyed the blended Lyston family.

Eighteen years later, as Bellamy’s father, Howard, ails from cancer, Bellamy writes a book about it called Low Pressure. It’s a huge bestseller but not everyone is pleased. Bellamy receives threats on her life. With the reluctant help of her late sister’s boyfriend, Denton “Dent” Carter, Bellamy tries to solve the mystery behind her sister’s death.

One Thing I Learned from this book: Dent is a pilot and, as such, he thoroughly checked the planes before flying anywhere.

What I Liked: I liked the info about Dent’s flight checks. Also, I appreciated the relationship between Dent and his mentor called Gall.

What I Disliked: The local color didn’t come through in Low Pressure. Also, I found Bellamy and Dent’s relationship rather predictable. I wished Brown had eased up on the single-entendres. Lastly, Bellamy is an awful name!

RR - Orange

Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 


Song: 
Tee Set – Ma Belle Amie 

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Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland


The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

 
Title and Author(s):  Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Lowland
Release Date: September 24, 2013 

Publisher: Knopf 

ISBN: 978-0307265746
Pages: 352
Source: Shipment of Advanced Reader Copies (ARC) which arrived at Harris County Public Library 

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Reasons for Reading: Come on, this is Jhumpa Lahiri’s latest book! Check out my elation about getting my hands on the Advanced Reader Copy (ARC).

Summary: Subhash and Udayan Mitra are two brothers who grew up in Post-Partition Calcutta. Subhash, older by a mere fifteen months, and Udayan look alike. However, they’re very different people and have rather opposite destinies. In the 1960s, Udayan’s political fervor rises while Subhash seeks a scientific education in Rhode Island. In the midst of his studies, Subhash receives notice that Udayan was killed near their childhood home. Subhash returns to Calcutta to find the fractured Mitra family and Udayan’s widow, philosophy student Gauri haunted and stuck in those last moments of Udayan’s life. Subhash’s reaction and handling sets an extreme course for the lives Subhash, Gauri, and Mitra family.

One Thing I Learned from this book: Previously I’d heard of the Partition and of the Bengali people. However, I didn’t know much about the Partition of Bengal.

What I Liked: I was mesmerized by Lahiri’s writing style yet again. It’s as though she’s a Rembrandt of words! The way she understands her characters truly enthralls me. I was astonished by what a loving and caring man Subhash was. I’ve yet to visit India or Rhode Island but I have a clear idea of these settings.

What I Disliked: The story itself made me very weepy. I wanted to throttle characters. Most often, it was Gauri! However, Mr. and Mrs. Mitra weren’t my favorites, either. Also, it would’ve helped me if each section/chapter started with a date (at least the year) for when the action of the ensuing section took place.

RR - Orange

Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 


Song:
The Beatles – Eleanor Rigby 

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