‘Something Wicked’ Begins Today!

#EnterTheRingmaster

Our group read for Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury begins today! It’s not too late to join us. To sign-up or to see the reading schedule, check out the announcement post. We’ve got an entire month to read this baby and I have to say, from the opening pages I am hooked.

Something Wicked cover

Plus, it also counts for the R.I.P IX challenge which a lot of us are doing as well.

I hope you can join Sandy and I!

The Sunday Salon: What a Week

Sunday Salon

It’s been a rough week. The Girl was sick-ish last week and guess what? Even with my excellent preventative measures, I am a walking petri dish right now. I can’t really figure out how I caught what she had because I hardly ever catch colds but I did. Monday, I knew I was a goner but was in denial and Tuesday was much worse but since I was alone in the office, I figured I’d tough it out and drown myself in cold meds and tea and hope for the best.

I am still sick though. The low-grade fever continues to linger which is not bad enough to make me bed-ridden but just enough to throw me off my game. I can still read but not without a lot of Sudafed. I’d go to the doctor but everyone seems to have this same head cold. There’s nothing that can be done. I just need to let it run its course.

But, the kids got through their first round of auditions for Annie. The callback list comes out Tuesday afternoon. Let’s hope they get to go another round. The Girl was coming off of her head cold, so her voice was a tad scratchy but I think for the most part, she got through it okay.

What am I reading?

I am still reading The Bone Clocks and finishing up Fahrenheit 451, which I started for Banned Books Week. But soon, I will be reading Something Wicked This Way Comes. More details on that below.

What am I cooking?

I am so done cooking! I made five dozen brownies for the choir bake sale and twenty or so fruit loop necklaces. I do have to go to the store later because I think my kids are sick of cereal and I have a tiny craving for Chicken Alfredo.

What am I watching?

I watched an adorable movie that just happened to be on, Definitely, Maybe. It was so darn cute! Ryan Reynolds, Isla Fisher, Abigail Breslin. Adorable. Not sure what I’ll watch today.

Now for some exciting news.

Read Along Info:

Something Wicked This Way Comes button

Our read along for Something Wicked This Way Comes (hashtag #EnterTheRingmaster) starts this Wednesday, October 1st. Did you find a copy? Did you sign-up? Because there is still time to read this Bradbury classic with Sandy and I.

Something Wicked cover

Here is a little taste of what it’s about:

The carnival rolls in sometime after midnight, ushering in Halloween a week early. The shrill siren song of a calliope beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two boys will discover the secret of its smoke, mazes, and mirrors; two friends who will soon know all too well the heavy cost of wishes. . .and the stuff of nightmares (Indiebound). 

How can you resist?? Freaky carnival action? I am so there.

Banned Books Week: Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451

I have been sick all week. Just a bad head cold but bad enough to make me miserable. SO miserable, that when I was in bed and realized that I left my copy of The Bone Clocks downstairs, the mere thought of getting up to get it was too much. So, I looked at my nightstand and I pulled out my old, worn copy of Fahrenheit 451. It is Banned Books Week after all.

Now, I have read this book many times. I think, at least three times but never in my life have I shed tears over the writing. I have been all choked-up while reading it. Published in the early 50’s, this book was way ahead of its time. The world within these pages is just so similar to our world today. The large TV screens (4th wall), the ear shells (ear pods/iPods) and the constant stream of noise that is a part of our daily lives. It’s overwhelming and scary and every night this week I have been staring wide-eyed into its pages and just wondering, what’s next?

In case you haven’t read this classic, it’s about firemen and how their main purpose is to destroy books by burning. In their minds, they’re doing everyone a favor. Too much information is dangerous. I can’t even begin to fathom living in a world like this but take this week as an example, there are school boards out there who have decided to ban books this week! Yes! During Banned Books Week!! How insane is that?

Pretty insane.

Have you read the Bible? The stories in there will curl your toes! Just sayin’.

Anyway, I am enjoying my week with Fahrenheit 451. Maybe the cold meds have a lot to do with how emotional I’ve been while reading it but the passages… oh! Some of the passages are just so lovely and powerful. I want to print them all out and hang them around my house.

Are you reading a banned book this week?

Review: The Way Inn

The Way InnThe Way Inn
By Will Wiles
(Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780062336101, September 2014, 352pp.)

The Short of It:

Very strange, often clever but surreal story about a guy and a hotel.

The Rest of It:

What I said above sounds simplistic, doesn’t it? But that’s really what the story is about. Neil Double is a conference surrogate. His job is to attend conferences on your behalf. Why spend money and time to send your employees all over the country for these things, when you can pay one guy to do it for you? That’s Neil. He reminded me a lot of Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory. He’s very precise and wants things to be a certain way and he loves hotels. More than the average person and definitely more than the conference goers who normally attend these events.

This time, he is staying at The Way Inn, which is a hotel chain that he is very familiar with but there is something very strange about this particular hotel. The corridors seem oddly familiar and yet new and every once in awhile, his key card fails to work and it almost seems as if his hotel room appears in two different places. As you can see, it’s a little bit surreal once you get into the meat of the story and I think some readers might be turned off by it. However, I think the cleverness outweighed the other elements and although I did lose a little interest when I realized where the story was going, I still thought it was a pretty clever story idea.

There are some other characters that add interest. The conference head who realizes what Neal is doing and tries to put a stop to it. There is also a strange woman who keeps showing up and Neal is absolutely sure he’s seen her before. So along with the surreal stuff, there is a tiny bit of mystery as well.

Would I recommend it? I would, if you don’t mind a lot of mundane details. You see, I am a little anal and highly sensitive to noise and smells and  lots of other things these days so the highly descriptive parts about the hotel itself were fascinating to me. I can see others being bored by them though. Also, I am not sure the majority of you would buy into the surreal aspect of the story but it was a quick read and I found it entertaining. Just know, that’s it’s clever but may not be for everyone.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher via Edelweiss.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: The Sparrow

The SparrowThe Sparrow
By Mary Doria Russell
Ballantine Books, Paperback, 9780449912553, September 1997, 448pp.)

*No Spoilers*

The Short of It:

This is one of those stories that innocently skips along and then delivers such a powerful punch to the gut, that you’ll want to forget what you’ve read as soon as you’ve read it.

The Rest of It:

I am not even going to attempt to describe the story to you in detail because that is half the adventure and this is definitely a novel you will want to experience on your own. I will say, that it’s about a newly discovered planet and the group sent to investigate it.

As you can imagine with a book like this, part of the suspense comes from WHAT is on the planet and how our group which includes Jesuit priests, a doctor, an engineer, an astronomer and an indentured computer specialist deals with what is thrown at them. And there is a lot thrown at them. Figuring out food and cultivating plants that they recognize is one challenge, determining the effects that the climate and environment have on their bodies is another challenge and really, just learning how to adapt to what they have in front of them is what keeps them busy much of the time.

What makes this an entertaining read is the group itself. Many were friendly back on Earth before their mission, so there is a lot of humor and well-placed sarcasm as everyone gets used to spending so much time together. They all fit, if that makes any sense even though many of them come from very different backgrounds.

But something terrible happens.

The story jumps around a bit between the before, during and after parts of the mission so very early on, you know that something horrible has happened and so this cake walk of visiting an unknown planet and the funny parts interspersed between the more serious issues, felt like I was being led along a very long plank and that any moment I would be plunged into the icy depths below. And that is EXACTLY what happens!

Everyone who reads this book says stuff like, “I feel totally wrung out”, “This book destroyed me” or “I cannot un-see what I’ve seen in my head.” I agree with these statements but what’s totally weird is that I saw it all coming and NONE if it really shocked me and yet, because I was strung along for so long, it hit me HARD. I read this for the #sparrowRAL (read along) and I finished it when others were still reading so when the air was sucked out of me, I had no one to turn to! I finished it at work too which added to my overall anxiety over the ending.

As far as science fiction goes, it felt very current to me even though much of it takes place in 2060. There is a sequel, Children of God, which I did not know about until after I finished The Sparrow but I feel absolutely no need to read the second book.

Things you should know:

  • Contains heavy religious themes but mostly deals with the question of whether or not God exists
  • Packs a punch and you will be a little ill after reading it. Make sure you have someone to discuss it with or you will lose your mind.
  • It takes a long time to get into the story (IMO). Lots of set-up and back and forth.
  • The idea of interacting with an alien race and how it’s handled here will fascinate you.
  • If you are at all interested in societal structure, you will have loads to consider.
  • After finishing the book, I suggest you gaze at pictures of cute puppies and kittens for a day or two because the images that Russell paints will be stuck in your mind for a very long time.

I can’t say that it’s a favorite of mine but it is a book that will stay with me forever and I am glad that I finally read it. Thanks Trish for hosting the read along. I probably would not have picked it up had you not chosen it.

Source: Borrowed
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

The Sunday Salon: Finally! Cooler Weather!

Sunday Salon

My Sunday computer time has been greatly reduced due to The Girl swiping my laptop. All of her audition videos are on there so with Annie auditions around the corner, my laptop has become her laptop. Right now, I am using The Teen’s laptop, which he NEVER updates so before I could even use it I had to get it all squared away. Geesh!

Not much going on today. We all went to church. The Teen, to his church and I dragged The Girl and her head cold to church with us. Yes! She has a cold and right before auditions. This always happens to us. They either get sick for auditions or the show itself. Hopefully she will be okay by Tuesday.

Just now, The Teen headed off to work a wedding and I have dinner cooking away. I was reading The Bone Clocks but could not follow it and realized that my copy is missing pages!

What am I reading?

Besides The Bone Clocks, I need to start I am Malala for book club. I also want to squeeze something fun in, but what?

What am I cooking?

I threw boneless chicken breasts, enchilada sauce and taco seasoning into a pot and have been cooking it for hours. We’ll make tacos and burritos and maybe some enchiladas too. I made rice and I have been munching on tortilla chips and peach mango salsa since I got home. I guess you could say I had a craving!

What am I watching?

I am still on an I Love Lucy kick but now I have Roseanne on in the background. I keep switching between Lucy, Roseanne and cooking shows. The weather has been so nice. There is a touch of coolness in the air and that makes me want to watch cooking shows.

Here’s my week:

Two rounds of auditions for Annie, a doctor’s appointment, baking for a bake sale, set building for Cabaret (choir) and working the bake sale at Lombardi Ranch, our local pumpkin patch.

What’s your week look like?

Review: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

Colorless Tsukuru and his Years of Pilgrimage

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage
By Haruki Murakami
(Knopf, Hardcover, 9780385352109, August 2014, 400pp.)

The Short of It:

Loss, longing and the power of memory. This novel is like a drug. I was mesmerized while reading it.

The Rest of It:

This is classic Murakami…and not.

Every time I discuss this book with another fan, we end up agreeing that it’s a classic but at the same time I cannot help but peg it as ‘different’ in some way. Let me tell you about the story first. It’s about a guy name Tsukuru Tazaki. He had some good friends in high school, two boys and two girls. They completed one another and there was no hint at all, that their relationships would not last. But to Tazaki’s surprise, all four friends stop talking to him. Instead of investigating further, he decides that he is the one “without a color” as all of their names represent a color and his does not. In his mind, he is the outcast and seriously considers ending his life.

But as he goes through life simply existing, he meets two key individuals that force him to reconsider. One is a friend who has many similar likes, and yet he maintains an air of mystery that Tazaki cannot explain. The other, is a girlfriend who forces him to seek out his friends to put closure on the situation. She asks him to do this before they can take their relationship further, and in his eagerness to move into the next stage of their relationship, he decides to find them and hopefully find out why they abandoned him so many years ago.

As a long time fan, I find that this novel is a mix of old and new. It’s much more straight-forward in the telling. There are a couple of elements that could be fantastical in nature, but overall, the story is simply told. The themes that I’ve come to expect from Murakami are all here. His characters are always these lonely souls searching for something or someone, there is always the question of, is it real or is it a dream? As a reader, you can’t be sure. The story can be interpreted many different ways and that is what makes this such an exciting read.

Many of his books can be “out there” with the talking cats, the sexy ear lobes, the awkward sexual encounters and the like but even though that stuff can catch you off guard, they are SO Murakami to me, that I missed them in this novel. Missed them, but not enough for it to affect my enjoyment of the novel itself. It’s a different type of book for him and it has me wondering if he is evolving as a writer. I know writers do at some point, but this work is decidedly different in tone. I still loved it, but I always wonder if the writing has changed or the translation had something to do with it.

It’s getting harder to choose a fave these days. To date, I do believe that Kafka on the Shore is probably my favorite but it was also my first and probably the most wild of his books. However, Colorless is probably right up there but for different reasons. One of which, is that a very similar thing happened to me a few years ago. Friendships can be complex to figure out in general but when they go wrong, sometimes there is no rhyme or reason as to why and it’s baffling. I cannot to this day make sense of what happened to me and at this point in time, I don’t want to waste the energy trying to figure it out but it sure makes for some good reading when it’s happening to someone else!

If you want to give him a try, start with After Dark. It’s not too long but has a good mix of what I’ve come to recognize as his signature style.

Murakami recently announced a short novel to be released in the US this December. What? Yep! Another one! This one is called The Strange Library and let me tell you, it sounds like it’s back to surreal city. I. Cannot. Wait!

Special note from Ti:

When I was chosen to be a Fan Ambassador for Colorless, I was given a few copies of Norwegian Wood to giveaway. I will be posting that giveaway soon but wanted to give you all a heads-up since I gave one away recently via Facebook and some of you might have thought you missed it.

Source: Sent to me by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

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