Thursday, November 27, 2014

Friend Of My Youth

Friend of My Youth is one of many short story collections by the brilliant Alice Munro.  I've read a few of her books, but not all.  One day it will be all, because I am never disappointed.  Friend of My Youth was elegant, beautifully written, filled with emotionally complex characters.  I picked out a few of my favourite stories to say a few words about.

Friend Of My Youth

Friend of my Youth is a perfect story. It is strong and stirring. I love the unnamed narrator. She loves and hates her mother. She admires and possibly hates Flora. Does she also dislike all the friends her mother had in her youth; the ones she never finished writing to? Friend of my Youth is the perfect beginning to this collection, making me eager to read the rest. 


Another beautifully written story. Very sad, very poetic. I loved Meda and again, an unnamed narrator. Was the narrator researching this writer's life? What was the fascination with Almeda Roth? I wanted Almeda to have a happy ending. 

Hold Me Fast, Don't Let Me Pass

I thought I was going to be disappointed by the ending of this beautiful story, but the last line changed it for me, changed everything. Funny how that works. 

Pictures of the Ice

Pictures of the Ice was a fantastic story. Definitely a favourite in the collection. Austin is sad and remarkable. So is Karin. Each knew what the other was doing without saying a word. They helped each other through difficulties and supported each other quietly. I have so much hope for Karin. I wish I could know where she ends up. 

Oh, What Avails

I enjoyed Joan. I feel like this long short story could have been a novel. I wonder what happened with her husband and children, her brother, her lover and Matilda. It would have been interesting to explore her life further.


Wigtime was weird.  Margot was probably the most unrelatable of all the characters.  It wasn't weird, as in strange things happened, it was just different that the other stories, though still exactly the same.  You'd have to read it to understand, I supposed.  It's more of a feeling.  Maybe I just don't like Margot's behaviour.

All these stories follow women from the beginning of their lives to middle age.  They are divorced or separated.  Each story has an affair.  More than one story talked about marrying, not really knowing yourself, then needing a change as the women aged. Normally, I don't really like cheating as a topic of a story, it doesn't appeal to me.  I appreciate relationships that endure and forever love, but the stories in Friend of My Youth are not like other stories I've read or read about.  The affairs are not salacious, the separations are not treated lightly.  Was this an actual trend during this time, divorces from people married to young?  Each story felt so real, as though this was your mother, your friend's mother, you were talking to.  Again, I'm enamoured my Munro's beautiful writing and am eager to pick up another of her collections.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Blue Lily, Lily Blue

I think I'm going to have to reread Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Cycle.  I feel like I'm zipping through the books so fast that I'm consuming them, instead of really feeling everything. I just have to know what happens next.  I feel like I waited forever for Blue Lily, Lily Blue to come out.  I read it very quickly and now I'm going to spend however many months, until sometime next year when the final book comes out.  I'm hoping it's sooner rather than later.

I love Blue. I love the boys. I love the ladies at 300 Fox Way. I appreciate real life seeping into their quest. Even though they are searching for Glendower and Maura, they are also thinking about the end of high school, about going off to college, what they can and can not afford.  They are taking time to think about their futures beyond this quest.  At times it feels irrelevant, or at least not as important, but it is and they have to acknowledge that.

The end was a bit of a surprise and I thought it was great.  Everything thing about it, from Adam and Persephone's conversation at the store until the very last page, it was fantastic.  More than anything else in the novel, the end has me eager to read the final book in The Raven Cycle.  I am really enjoying Blue's relationship with The Gray Man and I'm wondering what is going to happen with him.  He seems the most unpredictable of all the characters.  It's not that I think he'll hurt the Boys or the Women, but he could do anything to pretty much anyone else.  Also, the more I read the series, the more I love Calla.  There is so much I am enjoying that I will definitely be reading more books by Stiefvater. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Book Memory Challenge

I saw this post on What Red Read yesterday (I'm a bit behind in my blog reading; she posted this in October) and thought it would be fun to test my bookish memory. I tried not to look at Red's answers so as not to influence my own and was mostly successful.
Here are the questions: 
Here are my answers:
1. Michael Ondaatje
2. Eragon
3. Of Mice and Men
4. NW, by Zadie Smith
5. The Thorn Birds
6. All I can think of is the movie Sweet November. Was it ever a book?
7. The Knife Of Never Letting Go
8. Magisterum Book One: The Iron Trial. I know it's kind if cheating, but it says Book One on the book, so maybe it counts. 
9. Harry Potter and the...
10. The Hunger Games (This was probably the easiest one. I had loads to choose from.)

Here is me checking my answers:
1. Easy peasy... Ondaatje is one of my favourite authors.
2. Check
3. Check
4. Check
5. Check
6. Nope, it was never a book, but this is where my brain got stuck.  My brain couldn't have come up with The Hunt for Red October?  Because that was actually a book before it was a movie.  Goodreads has a list, though I've heard of some of the books, others are a real stretch (May shouldn't count when they mean "may")
7. Not all the editions have a knife on the cover, but the one I was thinking of does, so Check.
8. I'm going to say, no.  I could have said, One Hundred Years of Solitude, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, One Day...
9. Check
10. Check.... super easy
I did pretty good, I think.  8 out of 10.  If anyone else does the memory challenge, please put your link in the comments so I can check it out.

Saturday, November 01, 2014


Spoilers if you haven't read Uglies. Minor spoilers for Pretties.

I'm feeling more and more sorry for Tally.  Nothing she does seems to turn out right.  At the end of Uglies, Tally has given herself up to be turned Pretty, with the intention of taking an experimental cure. In Pretties, it starts out with her not remembering. That's part of what the pretty operation does, it changes not just your body, it changes your mind.  Is being pretty on the outside worth what it does to your mind?

I couldn't put Pretties down.  I read it easily in three days.  I could have read it in two, but my Hubby was bugging me to go to sleep.  I am finding the Uglies series not just entertaining, but thought provoking.  The people that Tally meets outside of the city, what Dr. Cable says to her, how she views herself, the New Smokies, the Crims, makes you think.  Is being "pretty-minded" so bad?  Everything seems under control, in general.  There is peace and love and happiness, but is the cost too high?  The Rusties (us, I'm presuming) destroyed themselves.  If Tally succeeds, will it just happen again?

I did not expect what happened with Shay and the Cutters.  I knew she was mad, but to do what she did.  I guess I understand the Cutter thing, once she knew she couldn't get her hands on a cure, but after?  Was it just to get revenge on Tally?  Does she really hate Tally that much?  It was a great addition to the series.  It definitely makes me even more excited to read Specials, though with the title, I could have guessed what it was about.

I'm really enjoying Scott Westerfeld's series.  I thought I would like it, but I didn't know how much.  I didn't know that I'd be thinking that maybe, in the end, Tally and the Smokies won't succeed.  That would certainly be an interesting twist.  I'm wondering about the end of book 4; will Extras leave me with an open conclusion, an unknown future?  Could the people living in the cities stop wanting to be pretty when that is what they've grown up with?  I could see where Westerfeld got the idea for the series as it is littered with issues we deal with today.