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

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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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Sarah Addison Allen’s Lost Lake


Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen | Jorie’s Store on Amazon

Lost Lake  
by Sarah Addison Allen
Length: 304 pages
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
on January 21, 2014 
Genres: Fiction
Source: Harris County Public Library

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Reasons for Reading: In 2011, I rapidly read all of Allen’s works I could find. So, when Allen’s newest book came out, I requested it as soon as I could.

Summary: Suley, Georgia is a sleepy, swampy little town near the Florida border. Suley boasts the Lost Lake Cottages run by Eby Pim, an enchanting retreat from the daily grind. After losing her beloved husband, Kate and her free-spirited daughter, Devin, find themselves heading to Lost Lake and the arms of her comforting Aunt Eby (her great aunt, really). Yet, when Kate and Devin arrive, they discover Eby intends to sell Lost Lake. Eby no longer feels the magic. Nonetheless, the Lost Lake Cottages faithful, journey back for one last summer. Kate and Devin stay on, too,  and wait for memorization.

One Thing I Learned from this book: I never considered parts of Georgia to be swampy. Then again, it’s close to Florida! 🙂

What I Liked: I liked Eby and her resilience. Thankfully, I found dashes of the magical realism which make me seek out Allen’s works. Simply, I was grateful to get my hands on another book written by Allen.

What I Disliked: A lot was happening in Lost Lake and I would’ve preferred more of a focus on Eby and Kate’s growing relationship. This just wasn’t Garden Spells or The Girl Who Chased the Moon.

RR - Yellow  Rainbow Rating: Yellow – Parental Guidance for Kids Under 13

 

 

Song: Blind Melon – No Rain

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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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St Augustine’s Confessions (Revisited Challenge)


Confessions (Oxford World's Classics)Title and Author(s):  Saint Augustine Confessions
Release Date: February 15, 2009
ISBN: 978-0199537822
Pages: 311
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Source: (Barnes & Noble Classics) 

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Reasons for Reading:  My first time with Augustine of Hippo happened in one of freshman courses at Baylor. While not exactly resonating with me, I sensed the impact of a work from the father of theologians. Along with The Prince, Augustine’s Confessions won in the Revisited Challenge. While the cover to the right comes from Jorie’s Store on Amazon, I downloaded a copy to my Nook.

Summary: Considered one of the earliest autobiographies, Augustine of Hippo penned these confessions of his youth. He tells of a sinful youth in the Fourth and Fifth Centuries A.D. in Northern Africa. As Augustine was in his early forties when writing Confessions, these don’t tell his entire life story. Still, he sheds insight into his life before conversion to Christianity. Augustine regrets his indiscretions prior to his Christian life. A classic example would be stealing pears.

While his father is a pagan, his mother, Monica, is a Christian. In Augustine’s early years, Monica prays for her son’s salvation. She goes as far as to ask God to send someone to intervene. God places St. Ambrose in Augustine’s path.

When Augustine accepts Christ, he goes on to become the Father of Theology. He influences people to this day. Also, he shows how Christians are not perfect but those who have accepted forgiveness and salvation offered by Jesus Christ.

One Thing I Learned from this book: His mother is now known as Saint Monica. She is the patron saint of difficult marriages, disappointing children, victims of adultery or unfaithfulness, victims of (verbal) abuse, and conversion of relatives. One of her namesakes is Santa Monica, California.

What I Liked: Augustine’s writing style is straightforward and easy to follow. An easy outline helps readers comprehend his life story, Monica’s fervent hopes, and Augustine’s general call to action. He truly leads by example.

What I Disliked: I think Augustine does need to give himself a break. None of us are perfect. Besides, guilt does nobody any good.

RR - Yellow  Rainbow Rating: Yellow – Parental Guidance for Kids Under 13

Song: Friar Alessandro – Adeste Fideles

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Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince (Revisited Challenge)


The Prince (Dover Thrift Editions) By Niccolò Machiavelli, N. H. Thompson | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

 
Title and Author(s):  Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince
Release Date: September 21, 1992
ISBN: 978-0486272740
Pages: 80
Publisher: Dover Publications; Reprint edition
Source: (Barnes & Noble Classics) 

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Reasons for Reading:  I first read Machiavelli as a high school World History student. I read The Prince again in college, struck by writers’ love and devotion to the city-state of Florence. As one of the winners in the Revisited Challenge, I downloaded a copy to my Nook.

Summary: Machiavelli wrote The Prince as a how-to guide to ruling. He wrote these instructions for Lorenzo de’ Medici, the Florentine ruler of Machiavelli’s day. Machiavelli began writing it in 1513 and finished it a year later. However, The Prince was not published until after Machiavelli’s death in 1532. Within his instruction guide, Machiavelli advised de’ Medici to promote his own interests, cover his backside, and create a stable government. In his estimation, Machiavelli pursues an argument purely based on logos; negating the need for ethos or pathos.

When Machiavelli wrote The Prince, Florence faced much political upheaval. While Machiavelli wanted de’ Medici to remain on the throne, this prince did not heed Machiavelli’s advice. In 1559, the pope included The Prince on his Index of Prohibited Books.”

One Thing I Learned from this book: While not mentioned in this treatise, Lorenzo de’ Medici was the father of the infamous Catherine de’ Medici. He passed on when she Catherine was twenty-one days old. I wonder how she would’ve taken Machiavelli’s instruction.

What I Liked: His straightforward prose leave little to the imagination. I haven’t felt a need to read commentaries to elucidate Machiavelli’s meaning(s) in his work. Also, I appreciate his sense of patriotism, love, and devotion to Florence.

What I Disliked: I found his lack of credence to ethos and pathos unrealistic. It’s the same as a rude person saying “I just tell the truth. It’s your problem that you’re sensitive.”

RR - Yellow  Rainbow Rating: Yellow – Parental Guidance for Kids Under 13

Song: Carmina Burana ~ O Fortuna | Carl Orff ~ André Rieu

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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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Seeing the Story – On the Road (2012)


On the Road | Wikipedia | Purchase DVD from Jorie’s Store @ Amazon by clicking on image

Reasons for Watching: I first listened to the audio version of On the Road in 2008. Hearing actor Matt Dillon read this book gave me high expectations for the movie. While a review of Jack Keroauc’s book on Jorie’s Reads didn’t come until the Revisited Challenge in 2013, I formed high expectations of any would be film adaptation. Jerry Cimino: ‘On the Road’ Movie Trailer Promises an Adaptation Worthy of Kerouac gave me some assurance. Fortunately, I finally posted my review of On the Road just weeks before I viewed acclaimed filmmaker Walter Salles’ telling.

Summary of Movie: Director Salles relates Jack Kerouac’s practically autobiographical story set in the late 1940s and early 1950s.  Sal Paradise/Jack Kerouac (Sam Riley), a young, impressionable writer acquires a friend and hero when he meets Dean Moriarty/ Neal Cassady (Garrett Hedlund). Dean, a wandering, womanizing guy from Denver. When Dean enters into Sal’s life, he’s with first wife, Marylou/ LuAnne Henderson (Kristen Stewart). Dean inspires Sal to travel across the country – hence the name, On the Road. Throughout the film, Sal and Dean attempt to turn conformity on its head. Theirs is a star-studded journey of gifted actors portraying the Beat Generation literati. Kirsten Dunst plays Dean’s long-suffering second wife, Camile/ Carolyn Cassady. Viewers also see Carlo Marx/ Allen Ginsberg (Tom Sturridge),  Old Bull Lee/ William S. Burrough (Viggo Mortensen), and Jane/ Joan Vollmar (Amy Adams).

Book to Movie Adaptation: As always, things happen differently in the movie. Right from the start with this film, though, I noticed changes. Kerouac says in the book that he met Dean not long after Kerouac and his wife ended their marriage. Also, Kerouac’s Sal says that he had been sick. Without spoiling, I won’t delve much further into the differences. If you don’t mind spoilers, please click on ‘On the Road’: Differences Between Jack Kerouac’s Novel and This Year’s Film – OR – On the Road Differences.

Review: I thought Hedlund completely nailed the role of Dean. From there, I must mention that I would’ve cast Dunst or Emilie de Ravin as Marylou instead of usually sullen Stewart. To expand more on moods or tone, I felt Kerouac wrote this while wearing rose-colored glasses. Salles’ film is a work of realism. We see havoc Dean wreaks on those in his life. Riley’s Sal seems a bit less intimate with these tales than he did in the book. Also, the voice wasn’t quite right.


Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead (Revisited Challenge)


The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

Title and Author(s):  Ayn Rand and Christopher Hurt’s The Fountainhead 
Release Date:
ISBN: 9781455100019
Hours: 32 hours, 4 minutes
Source: Harris County Public Library eBranch

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Reasons for Reading: My first attempt at reading Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead happened in my teens. However, I hit the wall and threw in the towel. Nine years later, I picked up an unabridged audio version and listened to the entire thing. As one of the winners in the Revisited Challenge, I selected the audio version route yet again.

Summary: Expelled from his architectural school in 1922 for refusing to follow traditions, genius Howard Roark travels to New York and works for disgraced architect Henry Cameron. Roark’s former classmate and antithesis, Peter Keating also moves to New York. However, Keating’s sycophantic ways land him a position with the prestigious architectural firm of Francon & Heyer. Keating succeeds and makes partner after causing Heyer’s fatal stroke. Meanwhile, Cameron retires and Roark opens his own office. When he refuses to give in to the will of others, Roark receives little business. Roark closes up shop and takes up work in Francon’s granite quarry in Connecticut – leading him to his first encounter with Francon’s exquisite but most contrary daughter, Dominique.

One Thing I Learned from this book: Ayn Rand didn’t have much sympathy for people. I’d say she’s a rather black & white sort of person.

What I Liked: I liked that Roark was true to himself. I felt I could see these characters and understand what Rand attempted to express. 

What I Disliked: I couldn’t quite handle Roark’s relationship with Dominique. While the author may have seen it as appropriate, I thought it was violent. Also, I thought this book would’ve been easier to take in serial form.

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

Song: Frank Sinatra – My Way (1969)

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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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