Cherylcan's Blog

Life and Literature

Archive for My thoughts on books I’ve read

Birdie by Tracey Lindberg

It is a story of womens’ strength when they pull together. Focusing on b4bba90666545ebfba8ee8af99b2f578-w204@1xCree traditions and spiritual life.

Birdie has had a rough life.  She is floating through her life on a spirit quest while her skin self lies on her bed. I found it a bit confusing at first as the timeline is fluid. I was not sure what was the past and what was the present. I know that the shifting verb tenses and short sentences are a device to show how messed up Birdie is, but I found it distracting from the actual story. It surprised me at how much changing tenses and grammar problems distracted me from the plot. Staying engaged was hard.

Parts of the story are hard to read. Issues of sexual abuse and power over the women were repulsive to me. I wished there had been more protection around the young girls. The overall theme of strength and supporting each other when crisis hits partially redeemed the trouble I had will difficult topics and our scattered protagonist.

Although we spend most of the book in Birdie’s head, my favorite character was Aunty Val. She has a depth to her. She gave up a child which meant facing and fighting her own demons. She is a big women comfortable in her own skin but not perfect. Val steps up to raise Birdie, when Maggie, her sister, cannot. She makes the most of her life, doing the best she can. Even arriving to help Birdie after Birdie has avoided family for year.

The characters felt very real. I loved that I could see my own aunts and cousins in these women. It showed the universality of life. The writing is difficult to follow and messy highlighting where Birdie is at, but this also makes for an annoying read. The story is not just a Cree story but a story about accepting and enjoying our lives as they are. How we all have to overcome our demons and fight through mental issues to become stronger on the other side.

My First Podcast on CAWcreations.org

Now that I have more than one pattern for sale on Ravelry I have decided to do a biweekly podcast about knitting and books I have read. Hopefully, it will keep me on track for completing knitting projects and on pace for the pledge to myself to read 100 books a year.

2017_CAWcreationsPicYou can check out CAWcreations Episode 1 on CAWcreations.org or on Cheryl Ann Wartman YouTube Channel. It is a work in progress. I am learning everything on the fly. The process is amazing except for taping time that scares me so much. People say they could not tell but I had so many knots in my stomach. It is funny because I have no problem lecturing to a classroom but taping seemed so much worse. Someone told me once if you were not scared sometimes you were not challenging yourself enough. This is challenging.

My next taping date is this Thursday. I hope to have CAWcreations Episode 2 up for Saturday morning. Here is to challenging ourselves.

Loving Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson

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I needed a fun read, we have been doing some books that I did not enjoy in my book club. Also, teaching is really cutting in to my reading time so when I actually have time to read I wanted it to be fun. On May 31, I asked hubby to pick up this book.

It is perfect. Jenny Lawson is quirky and makes her mental issues fun to read about. I really relate to her. Her stories are laugh out loud funny. Exactly what I need when I have piled my schedule too full. Realizing that other people have issues like I do, and crazy discussions (read loud approaching arguments) with their husbands. That they end up laughing about was so good for my soul.

Love it. Get it for a great summer read.

Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Stories

cover225x225Future Visions: Original Science Fiction Stories Inspired by Microsoft is an anthology of short stories written by some of today’s greatest science fiction authors. These visionary stories explore prediction science, quantum computing, real-time translation, machine learning, and much more. The contributing authors were inspired by inside access to leading-edge work, including in-person visits to Microsoft’s research labs, to craft new works that predict the near-future of technology and examine its complex relationship to our core humanity. – http://news.microsoft.com/futurevisions/

Robert Sawyer is the reason I got this collection. He is one of my favorite authors and he tweeted about the book. His contribution was Looking for Gordo. It is a story about a mock court proceeding that was being televised regarding the debate about searching for extraterrestrial intelligence. It is instigated by receipt of messages from an alien race “similar” to Facebook of our time. I love the short story when well done and Sawyer is on of the masters. I love seeing ideas from another point of view, and this is so engrossing.

Seanan McGuire opens this collection with Hello, Hello. A story about a prototype ASL interface between siblings that gets hijacked by an unknown avatar on the Tasha’s end. This is complicated by the fact that Tasha runs a bird sanctuary in her home, thus has many visitors, and the unknown is talking to her brother’s children Greg and Billie. The story is very engaging as it unfolds and the mystery of the unknown caller is resolved.

The Tell by David Brin follows a magician in an alternate world where he developed a way to reveal hoaxes and scammers. This gets him targeted and a friend must come to his rescue. It is a wonderful approach to take in exploring how we know things. I keep thinking about how I interpret what I see now, then I try to look at it through the eyes of the main character here.

In Another Word for World, Ann Leckie starts when a Ashiban Xidyla comes to with a headache. The Sovereign of Iss, hereditary high priestess of the Gidanta sits across the aisle. They must leave the site of their flier’s crash says the Sovereign through her handheld. Someone wants them dead to start a war. They struggle for survival and to understand each other. The story’s evolution as the characters learned from each other and determined what was really happening was very satisifying. A perfect ending to this book.

The interesting thing that I found is that all of the authors have written engaging short stories. That is what happens when you have a book full of masters of their craft. I love the idea of a company putting together an anthology like this. Microsoft picked the authors well. You should enjoy it too.

Download Future Visions for yourself.

Review — The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

There was so much buzz about this book I just had to read it. Who has not been on a train and thought about the people in the homes you are passing by? The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins starts with our primary narrator Rachel telling us about a couple she passes by daily on her way to work and makes up stories about. It all seemed rather run of the mill to me at first.

The story jumps to a year in the past and Megan. I liked the back and forth but began to distrust what Rachel was telling me. I almost put the book down at this point. Generally, I do not like books with a lying narrator but I gave it a chance and am so glad I did. I do not want to spoil the trill of the ride but suffice to say that the twists and turns are good and all the stories come together in the end.

I love thrillers and like the great thrillers I find this book speaking to me at the oddest moments. Making me wonder if the characters could have done anything to change the outcome. If you like thrillers, wounded characters, and stories that are more gray than black and white. This one will stick with you long after you put it down.

“Bird Box” a Novel by Josh Malerman

9780062259653Thrillers that allow readers to conceive the terror are enthralling. In the novel Bird Box, Malerman gives readers free rein to imagine what is out there. One look at this terrifying creature drives people crazy culminating in deadly violence.

The story begins five years after terrible things started to occur. Unfolding through present day and flashbacks. Creating narrative tension that pulls you swiftly through the box and into a world where vision can be fatal. Malorie lives alone with her two four year old children, but dreams of a better place. Malorie’s strength through potentially paralyzing fear is awe inspiring. I cannot fathom giving birth in an attic with an unseen terror and no chance of medical assistance. Presently, she must escape her family’s lonely subsistence, but are the children trained well enough to make the journey 20 miles down river in a rowboat blindfolded without peeking?

Initially the flashes from present to past were confusing. I was not sure where, or more specifically when I was in the story. As the characters emerged, the time periods resolved. The social implications of living in confined spaces and with people you can find are absorbing. Many hands make light work, but what if one is alienating others. How do you protect yourself? The psychological and supernatural aspects combined to create a riveting read. It is the first book in a long time that I bought and read in the same day. I loved that the creatures where never “shown” but left to my imagination.

Even weeks after reading, I am still visualizing the terror of either living in a darkened house or going outside blindfolded. Imagining how I might have resolved issues like child-rearing in a world where your eyes can be your enemy, or navigate down a river without looking. What would you do? Read the book and feel the gripping terror.

 

“Reluctant Dective” by Finley Martin

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One of my favorite high school teachers, Finley Martin, wrote a detective novel, so of course I read it as soon as possible. Although I read the story a when it came out a couple of years ago, I only now noticed that I did not publish the review I drafted at the time.

Wilhelmina Anne Brown lives in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island with her 14-year-old daughter and works as an office manager for her uncle, Bill Darby. Just as she is settling back into island life, yes it did take her six years, Bill dies leaving her his Private Investigation Business and a small amount of cash. The story follows her struggle to protect her daughter while serving her new clients.

I loved reading a book set where I live. It is so much fun watching Wilhelmina dash around familiar terrain. I found the pacing of the book was good. The short chapters really made me feel like I was racing through the adventure. Wihelmina is a strong character but with enough flaws to make her lovable and the story engaging. The back story of each character really allows readers to delve into them to understand where they are coming from. I especially enjoyed the conflict between mother and daughter as I have a teenage daughter. Martin gets the complexity and angst of the relationship just right.