“The Wife’s Tale: A Novel” by Lori Lansens

Lori Lansens is a gifted writer.  She can lift the heart out of human emotion and psychological distress and translate it onto paper as if she had a magic wand.  That’s a gift.  It translates, as well, to her readers as we are kicked full force in our hearts by her “wife” in “The Wife’s Tale.”    (Note to Lori–Before you read further, just know I’m a huge fan and I love you!!)

Mary Gooch, the wife in question, is a youngish, married woman….childless…who is obese and not altogether upset about it!   She relishes her mounds and crevices.  She’s proud of her beautiful face that’s full enough that she doesn’t need a facelift like so many skinny minnies her age and older.  Mary is accepting of her weight, though she’s painfully aware that others aren’t.  She finds herself apologizing alot.  She’s actually sorry for them; sorry they feel the way they do—not sorry for who she is.

One day, though, her beloved husband, Gooch, goes away.  (I’m not spoiling things for you, as it happens within the first chapter or so….)    The story then takes off as we go with Mary on her mystical journey to find Gooch/or “the Golden Fleece,”   whichever you’d prefer to call it after you read it!!

All in all a quick, entertaining and heart-wrenching read with all kinds of hidden meaning and symbolism for those of us who thrive on that, too.    As I said to begin with, I really love Lori Lansens  (I did say that, didn’t I…implied…) , and I would just be desolate if she didn’t write many more books.   However, this is not her best effort.   If you really want an example of how fine an author she is, please read her “The Girls.”

Without giving anything away, I have to tell you why I only gave “The Wife’s Tale: A Novel,” 4 1/2 stars.   It was somewhat because of the depth of the story, but it was also because of the ending.
‘nough said.

This book will not be a disappointment to Lori’s fans by any means, so I do recommend it without any hesitation.    As I said, it’s just not her personal best.

Your Bookish Dame

Runaway Books and Lost Bookish Friends!

I’ve been away most of the last 4 months, so I’m sure I’ve chased off my readers and blogging bookish friends! Come back, I pray!!!  Where I’ve been is a long and boring story, so let me get right to the books.

Here’s a list of the latest ones I’ve been reading, and some that are finding their way into my bedside stacks:

Mrs. Lincoln  by Catherine Clinton – a very readable and interesting insight into America’s true First Lady

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith – what a writer Mr. G-S is!  I was nearly believing this story and had to catch myself several times!  If you’re going to read any of these type of classics to monsterish books, please do yourself a favor and try this excellent writer.  He also wrote:  Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Kitchen House-  Katharine     :  OMGosh!  If you haven’t read this book, go quickly to your nearest bookstore or get on your Kindle and buy it!  I’d never say this unless I meant it…and coming from me, a die-hard Southerner, you can take it as gospel – this is the best book I’ve read about slavery and the connections of white and black Southerners since  Gone With the Wind.   This is a must read this year…I’m telling you.  The author isn’t from the South, so I’m sure she had to have been led by the spirits of the land to have written this with such insight and knowledge.

Look Me in  the Eye- John Elder Robison:  Mr. Robison is the brother of Augusten Burroughs whom you may recognize as the author of Running With Scissors.  This book tells his story of a life with Asperger’s syndrome.  My daughter works privately with a child with Asperger’s and I’ve been so curious about what it means to have this syndrome having heard that the founder of Microsoft, possibly Einstein, and other extraordinary men of history are thought to have it.  John Elder brings us along his childhood into adulthood in such a fascinating way that I soon forgot that I was thinking like he was and experiencing a sort of aggitation at his writing…until it dawned on me that I was experiencing the actual ways it felt to be and deal with Asperger’s people!    This is one of the most interesting books of this genre I’ve read.

Secrets of Eden- Chris Bojalian-  Well, what can I say except that this was a light-weight book for Chris.  It was a good idea that didn’t quite make it.  Had very little impact and ended with a “pffftt” instead of a bang.  I don’t know…it’s a paperback buy at best.  A poolside, beachy book that you care if it gets wet.  This is the story of a priest in a small New England town who gets himself embroiled in the life and death of a lady parrishner.  The lady ends up being killed by her abusive husband.  I won’t give away the story…..   :]

The Boundless Deep- by Kate Brallier:   I’ve just started this really fascinating book about a young woman who has dreams of whaling and an old lover….  She wonders if it’s reincarnation…Some of the story takes place in Nantucket so far.   I love this sort of gothic, mysterious, whaling, story….

The Forgotten Garden- by Kate Morton:  This is a book I’ve just started.  What drew me to it was the cover review which offered, “A tiny girl is abandoned on a ship headed for Australia in 1913.  She arrives completely alone with nothing but a small suitcase containing a few clothes and a single book–a beautiful volume of fairy tales.”

The Story Sisters- by Alice Hoffman:  Alice Hoffman is one of our best authors of this generation for her genre.  I’ve been reading her books and loving them since the 1970′s….and she never fails to please.  This book was another of her best.  The story sisters are three magical, mysterious sisters who divide their time between the US and Paris.  They have their own “twin-type” language and a “world” created in the finest detail that they spend hushed moments in for  hours.  The older two sisters have an ominous secret that they share, but we only get hints of until the end of the book.  Here, though, we are introduced to the most beautiful and interesting girls, their amazing grandmamere, neighbors and animals.  Ms. Hoffman is known for her human stories with just a pinch of the magical, and this book is a “hold it to you chest,” and love it book.  You might remember her for “Practical Magic” which they made into the movie starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock.    Everyone,  go read this book this Summer.

The Swan Thieves- by Elizabeth Kostova:  There were lots of  mixed reviews on this book.  Mostly people who had read “The Historian,” were disappointed in Ms. K’s second attempt.  I wasn’t at all dis-appointed.  I thought this story of an apparently deranged man slashing a famous painting in a museum, and the psychiatrist who tried to help him by solving the mysterious intricacies of his life and past was a great read.  I’d give this book a strong 4 on a scale of 5.

The Black Dagger Brotherhood- by J. R. Ward:   I’m completely hooked on these Blood Brothers as many of my reading friends are.  Sigh…..  If you haven’t tried one, all I can say is you’re missing out on something……  :]

Roses- by Leila Meacham:  Thoroughly enjoyed this book as a no brainer, easy to read, old fashioned historical, and generational novel with a mysterious twist.   I came to really like and enjoy the characters.  This is a good book.

Waiting to Read:     Jane Slayre,  another Brotherhood book,  Cutting for StoneThe Immortal Life of Henrietta LacksThe Postmistress, Hunger Games

Sometimes I’m just not in the mood to write reviews, but I hope I’ve given you some ideas on books to take a look at in the next weeks.  When you comment, please be sure to leave me some suggestions of books you’ve liked, as well.  I’m really interested in your books, too!!

Thanks for stopping by,

Your Bookish Dame

Continue reading

End of 2009 and off to 2010 good start!

The last book of 2009 I read was:  

I had this one in my stash for a while, never finding enough inertia to get reading it.  What I found when I finally did, around Thanksgiving, was an amazing story about women of all shapes and morality, and vision.  About the 60′s and Civil Rights…which tapped the dampened fires of my memories when I was a college student and watching, learning and protesting ….    I loved “The Help,” and though it wasn’t written in the same caliber of an author such as Joyce Carol Oates, it was well written and a novel I won’t forget over the years.   Highly recommended

A surprise of a new author for the end of 2009:

Well, I was foraging…. A guest at my dd’s house in the South, and out of books, no car, and very little time.  Here’s what I found in her stacks that I hadn’t already read.   It was a little shocking to “Grammie,”  but I soon found that I kept going back to the sizzling little thing.  I felt like the kids’ vampirish, gothic groups were allowing me a peek inside.  Soon, I loved it and wanted more stories like it.  Grammie is now hooked on Laurell K. Hamilton.   Go for it, friends….you’re gonna have a strong feeling one way or another!  :]   This is an Anita Blake series novel.

 

Here’s another LKH novel series about her faery protagonist, Meredith Gentry.  What’s not to love about this series and her characters here, as well.  Here is another series I just have to recommend to you…especially my stitching friends, as quick reads, but very entertaining books.  I’m glad I found Ms. Hamilton on a fluke.

 

What I’m reading now:

Thoroughly enjoying this memoir/novel about Jeannette Walls’ matriarcial ancestors.  The reading is like sitting with your great grandmother before a fire in dead of winter.  This book is one to keep forever on your shelves so your granddaughter can read it someday.  Not a book that takes forever to read, but this in no way distracts from a poignant and beautiful story of women and their rights to a life of their own.   Recommend to everyone!

Okay!!  Here it is, sneaking into my otherwise very literary reading list!  I can’t say stay away from LKH, because I can’t tell you to stay away from chocolate.  :]   Pull up a comfy pillow and quilt and just imagine….

 

What can I say?   One’s white chocolate, and the other’s dark chocolate!!!

 

 

   I just started this one last night.  It intrigued me because it’s about a man who tried to destroy a famous painting, was captured and was referred to a psychiatrist for treatment.  In the first few chapters, I’ve found it mesmerizing.  Of course, being and loving artists…this was made for me….and I’m always up for a disturbed, mysterious person who needs psychotherapy!!!  :P

 

Books that look Promising to me in 2010:

A story about the real Alice of “Alice In Wonderland.”  Not keeping to the exact truths of a biography, this is a novel written to intrigue us.  I’m going to buy it one way or another!

 

 

 

 

 

This one is about two women in the Victorian era who live outside the norm for women of the time.  They collect fossills and shells.  It is a historical novel, and one that looked interesting to me, by an author we can count on to bring the goods.  Her “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” says it all.

 

 

 

 

Anne Tyler’s works were a “must read,” for all ladies who lived in Wellesley, MA, when I was a youngish mother there!  LOL  Her novels are so real, and she speaks so true to our hearts.  It’s been a long time since I’ve picked up one of her books.  This one is calling me back to her.  A wandering husband…with a strange disease and those who live with him.

 

 

 

 

I’m a fan of Bohjalian.  Though he sometimes confuses me when he assumes we’re following his stream of consciousness on the occasion…and I’m a little slow on the uptake! :]

I really thought this book sounded so interesting.  A preacher and his wife have issues that will shock their town.  Hmmm  Don’t you always love to catch the “least likely to fail,” in a subterfuge?

 

 

 

This is supposed to be a huge, historical novel not so much about the fires but about the aftermath and its affects on a woman.  I love a great big, long paged novel sometimes.  I think this is my choice this year….   Love, mystery, loss and redemption here I come!

 

 

 

 

Oh, right.  Well, we’ve allowed our darling Jane Austen to be picked and pawed at long enough….why not my precious and favorite Bronte sisters!?   I’m still going to read it, no matter how bastardized the stories get because who can ever get enough of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne?  And, Branwell, God rest his black little heart.  Barbara are you listening to me? :]

 

 

 

 

Speaking of feminist novels and “voices.”  We were, weren’t we?   I’m a huge follower of Gail Godwin.  She’s a gentle voice of women and has been for decades.  If we listen, we’ll hear the out cries of wounded hearts, the courage of those who go through it all and come out the other side, and we’ll get to know those women who’ve always mattered in our lives.  Ms. Godwin is a special writter.  I look forward to enjoying her new book about girls reliving their lives in a Catholic boarding school.

A new author and protagonist for me….  I’m told we need to read the first book called, “Old Filth,” to completely enjoy this one.  You’ll have to go read the reviews on this one on Amazon.com.   It just sounded like something I might like on a whim.  Mystery in a British sort of way….

 

And, last for the timebeing, “..Roses.”  I’ve purchased this novel on my Kindle/Stella.  I love the cover, don’t you?  I like that it’s a big, family saga.  I feel as if it’s not a year complete without my reading a big family saga.  This is my choice early in the year.  It follows a family in Texas.  I just want to spend hours absorbed….   :]

 

So looking forward to hearing from all of you and finding out what  your choices are for the early year.   Please let me know if you’re reading any of my choices, too.

Good luck!   Your Bookish Dame

New Kindle Additions!

 I’m embarrassed that I’ve been away such a long time.  What was I thinking!?  At the least, dear bookish friends, let me tell you of my latest downloads to “Stella,” my Kindle.

I have to stop here first to say that I’m regretting that I didn’t purchase these top two in hardback because I have collected these authors’ (my favorites) books for years.   But, since my children don’t seem to be the least bit interested in my first editions….I’m slowing down on that end.  [I'm still thinking of buying the Joyce Carol Oates in Hdbk!]

So, here are the new Stella buys:

Little Bird of Heaven            by   Joyce Carol Oates

Angel Time: The Songs of the Seraphim   by   Anne Rice

206 Bones    by  Kathy Reichs

Beautiful Lies   by  Lisa Unger

The Children’s Book   by A.S. Byatt

Framley Parsonage    by  Anthony Trollope

Homer & Langley:  A Novel   by  E.L.  Doctorow

Last Night in Twisted River:  A Novel    by   John Irving

Vampire Darcy’s Desire:  A Pride and Prejudice Adaptation by Regina Jeffers

I’ve read,  “Angel Time…,”  “Vampire Darcy’s Desire….,”  and  “Beautiful Lies,”  all of which I recommend for different reasons.   Anne Rice is always a revelation, and in this new book you may take that literally!  While she can get solidly preachy, at least we have the entertainment of an interesting story and her return to descriptions like interior and exterior architecture, history, books, music and arts.  That’s something I’ve always loved about her.   She’s not quite “there,” for her Lestat and Mayfair Witches readers, but she’s coming along.  I felt she was very autobiographical in this book….we have a sheerly veiled story of her personal, early life and her new reconversion to Catholicism.   I would recommend it to you with a 3 rating.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for her next book.

“Vampire Darcy’s Desire…” is just an absolutely “teatime” read.  It’s fun and quick and delightful.  See my face glimmering with glee in the glow of a dim light!   :]  Nice thought, but very bad for the eyes!

I’m a new fan of Lisa Unger.  A Kindleine friend mentioned her to me at the Clubhouse Pool recently, and I bit and bought.  “Beautiful Lies,” is a good book!  I like the style of writing, the story and the pace of Unger’s book.  Her’s is not a Patricia Cornwell or Kathy Reichs type of mystery/murder, but it is similar to the writing of Jodi Picoult.    I would recommend her to anyone who just wants a good mystery that’s not light reading or dumbied out.   There’s enough substance in her to keep us interested.  And, I’m going to read more of her books.

I’ve just started “…Little Bird of Heaven,” so I haven’t much to say at this point, except can we ever have a bad review of Ms. Oates?   When I have one of her new books in my sweaty palms, feeling the electric zing through my innards, and the quake of smile and giggles going through me….all I can do is grab a soda, snuggle down with my quilt and put up the “Do Not Disturb” sign.    It would shock me beyond belief to know that there are readers/friends of mine who have never read Ms. Oates.   If you’re there….don’t tell….your literary ignorance would be too humiliating.   Just run to the bookstore and grab several of her books quickly and quietly.  It will restore you sanity and literacy.

Books not on my Kindle but being read nevertheless, are:  

 “The Year of the Flood, ”  by Margaret Atwood

Passionate Search:  A Life of Charlotte Bronte    by  Margaret Crompton

Girl in a Blue Dress:  A Novel Inspired By The Life and Marriage of Charles Dickens      by  Gaynor  Arnold

My reviews are preliminary since I haven’t finished each of them, but here they are:

Margaret Atwoods, “…Flood,” is fascinating and habit-forming.  Like Toni Morrison, Ms Atwood has this tendency these past few years of writing in a sort of free form- flow of conscientiousness  (can’t remember the literary word) manner such as James Joyce is accredited for inventing.  Though she does make more sense.  And, her book does begin to make sense about 1/2 the way through!  :P    Her chapters skip back and forth through time which makes getting too involved with the characters nearly impossible.  Is this a ploy?  Hmmm    Maybe she’s trying to give us the feel of disjointed, isolated, anxiety ridden, non-intimacy of the dystopian culture she’s writing about.    This is a very important book for lots of reasons.   I can see it being on the college (possibly HS reading list) lists.    Sooner or later, you’ll have to read it.

“Girl in a Blue Dress,”   is so charming and interesting.  It’s hard to put down.  For Dickens lovers such as I am, you’ll just be finding another way to day dream about him and his life and surroundings.  And for those of us who love those time period pieces,  you’ll have so much fun with this book.   So what if it’s not all true.   It’s a sort of “Crimson and the Rose, ” book.  It’s easy to enjoy thoroughly.

“Passionate Search…Charlotte Bronte,”  is one of the very best biographies I’ve ever read about her.  It’s probably out-of-print.  I found it in an old book store in Key West this Summer.   Just a slim little volume, it’s packed with wonderful information about the Bronte children, Charlotte and her school friends.  I particularly love this author’s sharing descriptions of her.   I’ve always thought Charlotte was lovely, but it seems, she thought she was ugly because one of her early school companions told her so.    This is a wonderful book.

Please come by again!

Your Bookish Dame,        Deborah

And see my blog, too:    http://lavenroseramblings.blogspot.com

Please come again.  I promise to be a more faithful Bookish Dame.

Kindle Katches and New Books

New books downloaded from Kindle:

Skeletons at the Feast”  by Chris Bohjalian.    WWII character perspectives, with new and powerful insights that will live in my mind forever.

The Big Girls”  by Susanna Moore.  A woman psychiatrist and her female patient who are both suffering from loss and guilt….  Moore is an awesome writer.

 New books from Borders trip:

Free Food for Millionaires”  by Min Jin Lee.  This one has been on every bestseller’s list across the country!  An Ivy League girl with a Korean family background, who has a secret obsession for reading the Bible, loves expensive clothes and has a hunky white boyfriend…etc..?  I’ve got to read this one!!!

Open Me”  by Sunshne O’Donnell.  Seems like I’ve been waiting forever to hear a story like this one.  A young girls lifelong secret training in the ancient, forbidden art of being a funeral mourner…an illegal profession, but one which has been passed down mother to daughter for thousands of years.

Human Traces”  by Sebastian Faulks.  Two young boys with an interest in science and psychiatry grow up in France and England, then come together to found a clinic in Austria.  A female patient whom they each want to treat in different ways comes between them. 

All of these are fabulous reads!  I took the time today to write reviews of each of them, but the entries got erased somehow.  I can just tell you that it’s too demoralizing to write a third time!! :[    But, suffice it to say that the above books are varied, but wonderful.  Please go to Amazon.com to see the covers and read reviews for yourselves.

I’m having alot of trouble putting “Skeletons,” and “Human Traces” down at the moment.  I’m afraid to start “Open Me,” more than an intro. first chapter, because I know I’ll be up all night reading it!  And, I can’t wait to start “Free Food…”

Please leave comments and your blog addys so I can visit you and see what you’re reading, too.

Your Bookish Dame,    Deb

Amazon’s Kindle Means I’ve Been To The Bookstore…ish

I’ve been down and out this past 3 weeks, shifted from ER to hospital to home with a horrible bout of stuff worse than I want to talk about…and we don’t need to go there! 

On the bright side, this left me some small space of time for foraging with STELLA my Kindle “bedfella” in the Amazon bookstore.  I have to say that “Stella” was a priceless sidekick in my hospital bed.  She was lightweight and easy to maneuver with one hand while the other was stuck with IVs and such!  I always knew where she was and could easily reach for her or sleep with her!  She took me on trips to the “bookstore,” to archives, to browsings, to samples of books I might want to read, to a couple of new mystery magazines I subscribed to for fun, and to searching the stacks for books and reviews.  I never felt alone or bored!  I really hadn’t thought about my Kindle as a hospital companion….but “Stella” was the best I could have hoped for!  One book would have been too bulky for me with my issues, I would have had trouble with it, and it would have bored me in the amount of time I was there.   I can’t say enough about my “Stella!”

Here are some of my new purchases found while book-skimming with Stella:

  • The Madonnas of Leningrad      by  Debra Dean
  • North and South                        by  Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell
  • The Death Dealer                       by  Heather Graham
  • Down River                                by  John Hart
  • The Big Girls                              by  Susanna Moore
  • Luncheon of the Boating Party   by  Susan Vreeland
  • Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine!   Subscription
  • Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine!  Subscription

Some of the books I was able to sample (this consists of at least a chapter of each book or more…) and to archive in Stella are:

  • The Rain Before It Falls              by  Jonathan Coe
  • Mistress of the Revolution        by  Catherine Delors
  • The Luxe                                   by  Anna Godbersen
  • The Jewel Trader of Pergu          by  Jeffery Hantover
  • The Third Angel                         by  Alice Hoffman
  • Child 44                                     by Tom Rob Smith
  • The Sociopath Next Door           by  Martha Stout PHd

All in all…for one who was otherwise miserable with medicine and no food…I had alot of fun in the hospital with my bookstore visits and reading.   I read several of the short mystery stories and just loved them.  They actually reminded me of when I was a teenager and we couldn’t watch tv, and had to read…my brothers and I collected comic books or mystery-type magazines and spent hours with them…losing track of time and place just like with books.  I’m delighted to now have these mystery stories on my Kindle.

All of the books I sampled are now on my wishlist.  It’s amazing how you can really get into a book when you actually have time to read a chapter of it. At the book shops I find I’m overwhelmed by the flashy covers and glamour of the whole thing.  And, I’m so bookish, of course,  I want to buy everything without even testing it!  I can’t test it!  I’m bedazzled and in a trance!   Whereas with my “Stella,” I have a small distance that actually gives me what I really, truly want which is the choice of books I would love if I read them. 

In the old days they used to repeat relentlessly, “You can’t tell a book by it’s cover!”   (With the proverbial depth of hidden meanings, naturally)  But, in truth, it used to plague me as a child while I devoutly worked my way through libraries like a nun entranced.  I was choosing several books based on their covers!!  A heresy!!  I tried to hide the fact like the heretic I was with every mumbled excuse I could muster…”Well, it has a great story…don’t look at the cover…you can just..we’ll take that cover off…it’s just…”   In truth, we are all bedazzled by the artwork, the covers speak to us, the guilding on beautiful leather makes our bookish hearts beat faster, the book itself is gorgeous and we love it for its looks.

With my Stella/Kindle I’m taken back to a place where I’m able to choose because of the context.  And, I’m finding my reading experience is becoming enriched by this.  I’m finding that I’m reading faster with my Kindle.  I can’t even believe I’m saying this because I continue to love my books and will always continue to buy them, though I know I will be able to pay a third the price if I just use my Kindle.

With all that said.  Reading is wonderful.  It’s a joy to have our books in whatever form.  Isn’t it amazing that God chose to leave us with a special gift throughout the Ages…His Word.  The Bible.  A Book.

Don’t leave home without one.  Hugs,  The Bookish Dame

Jessica Names My Kindle!

Wouldn’t you know that my DD rushed to the rescue and named my precious Kindle.  Her name choice and mine…to my utter delight is:  Stella. 

So appropriate since Jess says it’s a derivative of “Storyteller…a wise new invention”  She likens the Kindle to ancient medieval  troubadors who travelled the roadways, sitting by firesides, singing and telling news and legends through stories and poems.  Since the Kindle is actually our new Century’s form of the ancient storyteller…I loved this analogy.

 “Stella” she is!    And, Jessica gets a free book of her choice, as well as a gift bag of surprises!