Top Ten Tuesday: Best Epilogues and Endings

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

For this one the topic was:

June 14: Books I Wish Had An Epilogue

But I went with just best epilogues and endings. Basically, there were some that I wasn’t sure were epilogues or not! Warning for SPOILERS here:

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – I think of this as “how to do an epilogue properly.” It’s set 200 years after the events of the story and is narrated by a historian who found and transcribed it. It gives us a glimpse of the world after it changes from what Offred knows. It reminds us how civilizations rise and fall.

And then There Were None by Agatha Christie – The epilogue moves this book from the “frustrating” to “satisfying” category. Basically, this is where we learn whodunnit and why.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling – People seem divided into those who like this epilogue and those who don’t. I do, because we learn in it that Harry’s son is named Albus Severus Potter. In other words his initials spell ASP. Snakes are usually significant in the Harry Potter universe and don’t usually mean good things are coming. On an entirely different note, it’s always nice to get a “where are they now.”

A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon – For three books a threat loomed over the heads of these characters. A character from the future had learned something bad happens to them, and warned them. It doesn’t play out in the way we expect though. In the epilogue we learn why. It’s a reminder of how historical record often gets things wrong, and no one ever knows.

Animal Farm by George Orwell – This allegorical novel depicts an animal revolution against humans on a farm, led by pigs. As time goes on the pigs create laws that oppress the other animals, until the end, when the pigs are sitting at table talking to the humans, and it’s hard to tell which is which. Because with power we can become our enemies.

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult – This is another “love it or hate it” ending. I loved it, because it went against everything we’ve expected all along. People who dislike this ending call it a deus ex machina. Which it is, but it’s done in a thought provoking way. The film adaptation changed this to the ending that felt expected which (I thought) missed the whole point.

Atonement by Ian McEwan – It’s almost impossible to discuss this ending without major spoilers. The book finishes off with an ending that feels conclusive and then there’s “just kidding!” that totally makes sense given character and circumstances. I often feel like those kinds of endings are cop outs, but in this situation it was done right.

The Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve – This has a tie-in to another of Shreve’s books, The Weight of Water. All through this book, I thought that a character was lying about something mentioned in The Weight of Water. It turned out to be true.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte – This is probably another unpopular choice. A lot of people feel like the second half of the book is a let down after the first, and movies frequently end the adaptation after the first half! But I think the second half brings everything full circle. Without it, the narrative lacks balance. I wish there was a less boring word than “symmetry” to describe what I mean!

Top Ten Tuesday: Future Classics

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

March 29: 21st Century Books I Think Will Become Classics (Submitted by Lisa of Hopewell)

I really love this topic actually. I’ve been thinking about it for a while, and here’s what I’ve come up with.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro -Published in 2005 this book already seems to have achieved a sort of modern classic status. It tackles issues of love, mortality, memory, the lives we value and those we don’t. It’s also a book that you can only say a little about without spoilers.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee – 2017 A story that follows a family through several generations. It begins in the early 1900s when Sunja falls for a wealthy stranger, and learns she’s pregnant, just as she learns he’s married. She marries a minister instead and leaves Korea with him for Japan. That decision will reshape her family’s future.

 A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara 2015 – I’d be curious to see how future generations respond to this, since it is so polarizing now. I can understand why some people love it (beautiful writing and enduring themes), and why some hate it (the content is…difficult to say the least). It’s about absolutely sickening abuse and it’s aftermath, so if you don’t want to read about that, be warned. But it’s also about love and friendship. It asks which ties us more tightly, trauma or love? They answers are not be very comfortable.

 Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel- Published in 2014 I now think of it as the pre-COVID COVID novel. It’ll be interesting to see how writing about a pandemic fairly accurately several years pre-pandemic plays into this book’s legacy. What I liked about it was that it asks what humanity’s legacy will be: art and beauty or death and destruction. And are those mutually exclusive?

Atonement, Ian McEwan – The film adaptation may have it’s a legacy on it’s own. But this book about family, class, memory, responsibility, and guilt, is it’s own haunting magic trick of a novel.

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski– 2000- This novel/screenplay/notes/something-or-other is definitely a dizzying example of multiple narrators and texts within texts. It’s even got it’s own set of companion works by the other and others in different forms of media.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon– 2001 – I think of this as a sort of valentine to books and libraries. It’s one of my deepest hopes that both will last well into the next century, but this book celebrates what’s lost and forgotten. Even in a best case scenario for books they won’t all be remembered. I love the idea of a Cemetery of Forgotten Books!

Fingersmith by Sarah Waters– 2002- This is another book that’s you’re better off the less you know about it going in. But it’s a favorite for it’s twisty, gothic, Victorian-inspired narrative.

Top Ten Tuesday: Fictional Writers

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

December 7: Freebie

Writers and readers alike love a writer character in fiction. Here are some of my favorites:

1. Emily Starr from the Emily series by LM Montgomery – Yes, I know Anne is a writer too. But I give Emily the edge here, because it’s more a part of her than it is of Anne.

2. Jo March from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – You didn’t really think I could make a list of fictional writers and leave her off, did you? Later in the series her writing takes a backseat to other aspects of life, but we do learn in Jo’s Boys that she never really stopped.

3. Angelica “Angel” Deverell from Angel by Elizabeth Taylor – Angel is the daughter of an Edwardian shop owner, whose shlocky best sellers make her famous. She lives almost entirely in her own imagination, which might be her downfall.

4. Paul Sheldon from Misery by Stephen King – Paul Sheldon goes from writing for a living to writing for his life. I wish I could take credit for that blurb, but I read it somewhere else. Can’t remember where. But he’s a romance author who wants to go “literary.” But when he’s held hostage by an angry fan he takes refuge in the fictional worlds he creates. That ability always resonated with me.

5. Vida Winter from The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield– Reclusive author, Vida Winter, wrote a collection of stories famous for the mystery of the missing thirteenth tale. She always kept her life a secret. But as an old woman she hires a biographer to tell the story of her life. In that way, this is sort of about two writers: Vida and her biographer, Margaret.

6. Cassandra Mortmain from I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith – This book also features two writers. One is the narrator who tells the story, and hones her skill through her journal. The second is her father a famous writer of one novel, who now suffers from severe writers block.

7. Eva Luna from Eva Luna by Isabelle Allende – Eva Luna is a orphaned servant with a gift for storytelling. Her stories become her currency in the world. Some of them can be read in the companion book, The Stories of Eva Luna.

8. Possession by AS Byatt– Again we have more than one writer here, as two academics research two Victorian poets. The novel is made of a variety of different written forms including poetry, letters, and journal entries.

9. Edith Pope in Hotel Du Lac by Anita Brookner – Edith is a romance author whose life takes on too much drama. She stays at a hotel to get away from everything for a while. While she’s there, she writes letters to her lover describing her companions at the hotel.

10) Briony Tallis from Atonement by Ian McEwan – This starts with a thirteen year old Briony Tallis writing a play. It ends with an elderly Briony writing a novel. To say more would involve spoilers!

Top Ten Tuesday: Best MetaFiction

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

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July 28: Freebie (This week you get to come up with your own TTT topic!)

I made this list recently and decided to use it here. For the purpose of this list, I’m calling metafiction a “self conscious” novel. These books discuss, and think about themselves as works of fiction, within the context of the novel. So we have lots of books within books, narrative footnotes that continue to story while commenting on it, and other forms withing the novel (diaries, letters, poetry, essays, plays etc).

51va-sxea5l._ac_uy218_1.The Princess Bride by William Goldman – The author frames the story as an abridged  retelling of an older book with the boring parts taken out. He frequently alludes to these parts throughout the text.  In the film adaptation this was handled by having frame story in which a grandfather reads his grandson the novel. We see this in the book as well, but it’s less prevalent.

“He held up a book then. “I’m going to read it to you for relax.”
“Does it have any sports in it?”
“Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True Love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest Ladies. Snakes. Spiders… Pain. Death. Brave men. Cowardly men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles.”
“Sounds okay,” I said and I kind of closed my eyes.”

 

71jfo2zkzvl._ac_uy218_2.If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler by Italo Calvino– This one opens with “You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a winter’s night a traveler.” Throughout the text the fictional reader and real reader’s relationship is discussed and addressed, blurring the distinction between fiction and reality. There are also several books within  the book that we read (at least in part).

“You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino’s new novel, If on a winter’s night a traveler. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other thought. Let the world around you fade. Best to close the door; the TV is always on in the next room. Tell the others right away, “No, I don’t want to watch TV!” Raise your voice — they won’t hear you otherwise — “I’m reading! I don’t want to be disturbed!” Maybe they haven’t heard you, with all that racket; speak louder, yell: “I’m beginning to read Italo Calvino’s new novel!” Or if you prefer, don’t say anything: just hope they’ll leave you alone.”

810pcxbl3l._ac_uy218_3. House of Leaves by Mark Danielwski– This books is has text arranged in strange ways that mirrors the events of the story. It contains lots of footnotes (which also have footnotes themselves) that reference works that don’t really exist. There are several narrators some of whom directly address the reader. It claims to be an unpublished manuscript of a lost documentary film, annotated by a tattoo artists. There’s also an appendix of letters from the tattoo artist’s (insane) mother.

“This much I’m certain of: it doesn’t happen immediately. You’ll finish [the book] and that will be that, until a moment will come, maybe in a month, maybe a year, maybe even several years. You’ll be sick or feeling troubled or deeply in love or quietly uncertain or even content for the first time in your life. It won’t matter. Out of the blue, beyond any cause you can trace, you’ll suddenly realize things are not how you perceived them to be at all. For some reason, you will no longer be the person you believed you once were. You’ll detect slow and subtle shifts going on all around you, more importantly shifts in you. Worse, you’ll realize it’s always been shifting, like a shimmer of sorts, a vast shimmer, only dark like a room. But you won’t understand why or how. You’ll have forgotten what granted you this awareness in the first place”

 

81oy308r7ql._ac_uy218_4. The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles– This novel looks at the 19th century novel as seen through a late 20th century perspective. We read the story that takes place in 1867, and the narration that calls one’s attention to the fact that the 1867 plot line is in fact, fictional. This was handled in the film adaptation by having a second timeline in which we see the 1867 story line being made into a film.

“You may think novelists always have fixed plans to which they work, so that the future predicted by Chapter One is always inexorably the actuality of Chapter Thirteen. But novelists write for countless different reasons: for money, for fame, for reviewers, for parents, for friends, for loved ones; for vanity, for pride, for curiosity, for amusement: as skilled furniture makers enjoy making furniture, as drunkards like drinking, as judges like judging, as Sicilians like emptying a shotgun into an enemy’s back. I could fill a book with reasons, and they would all be true, though not true of all. Only one same reason is shared by all of us: we wish to create worlds as real as, but other than the world that is. Or was. This is why we cannot plan. We know a world is an organism, not a machine. We also know that a genuinely created world must be independent of its creator; a planned world (a world that fully reveals its planning) is a dead world. It is only when our characters and events begin to disobey us that they begin to live.”

 

71scqfzfhel._ac_uy218_5.  Atonement by Ian McEwan– Minor spoiler alert: The book turns out to have been “written” by one of the characters in the novel. The reasons that the character has for doing this involve much bigger spoilers. Interestingly the film adaptation didn’t try to do anything fancy with a secondary timeline. The “reveal” is simply there at the end.

“How can a novelist achieve atonement when, with her absolute power of deciding outcomes, she is also God? There is no one, no entity or higher form that she can appeal to, or be reconciled with, or that can forgive her. There is nothing outside her. In her imagination she has set the limits and the terms. No atonement for God, or novelists, even if they are atheists. It was always an impossible task, and that was precisely the point. The attempt was all.”

 

51xunct3xjl._ac_uy218_6. The Keep by Jennifer Egan– In the first chapter, this shifts from a story about two estranged cousins a Gothic castle to being about a man named Ray who is writing the story as a part of a prison’s creative writing program. The two stories unfold, switching back and forth, as the storylines reflect  back on one another.

Being somewhere but not completely: that was home for Danny, and it sure as hell was easier to land than a decent apartment. All he needed was a cell phone, or I-access, or both at once, or even just a plan to leave wherever he was and go someplace else really really soon. Being in one place and thinking about another place could make him feel at home.”

81qh7u4anel._ac_uy218_7. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne– I remember reading this in college with a big, “WTF!?” expression on my face the whole time! It claims to be the memoirs of a country gentleman, but it’s really one digression after another, and sometimes the digressions have digressions of their own! We also get some sermons, essays, drawings and more mixed in there. I tend to think of metafiction as being postmodern, so it’s amazing that this book was written in the 18th century!

“Digressions, incontestably, are the sunshine;—they are the life, the soul of reading;—take them out of this book for instance,—you might as well take the book along with them;”

 

813yvojs9pl._ac_uy218_8.The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood– This book includes a story within a novel within a novel. Iris is publishing a book written by her sister, Laura. Her book is about Alex Thomas, an author pulp sci-fi, who has a complicated relationship with two sisters (who may be counterparts for Iris and Laura). It also contains one of Alex’s stories, The Blind Assassin. Got that?

“The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin excusing yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it.”

a150ni9rjrl._ac_uy218_9.Possession by AS Byatt- This novel follows two academics as they follow a paper trail, researching the love affair between two fictional 19th century poets. It incorporates fictional diary entries, letters, and poems. These devices are ultimately used to question the authority of textual narratives.

“Think of this – that the writer wrote alone, and the reader read alone, and they were alone with each other.”

 

71vksxqmbul._ac_uy218_10. Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz– Susan is editing the new manuscript by best selling mystery author Alan Conway, known for writing in the tradition of authors like Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. We read the manuscript along with her. But there seems to be a chapter missing. Specifically, the last one where we learn whodunnit! Susan figures that it’s a mistake and she’ll talk to Alan on Monday and get the missing pages. But then she learns that Alan has just died and the missing pages are nowhere to be found. As she starts looking for the rest of the book, Susan discovers that the missing portion of the manuscript may reveal more than just the murderer in the novel: it may also contain information about who was responsible for Alan’s own death. In this case not only the manuscript, but the title itself if a clue as to whodunnit.

“I had chosen to play the detective—and if there is one thing that unites all the detectives I’ve ever read about, it’s their inherent loneliness. The suspects know each other. They may well be family or friends. But the detective is always the outsider. He asks the necessary questions but he doesn’t actually form a relationship with anyone. He doesn’t trust them, and they in turn are afraid of him. It’s a relationship based entirely on deception and it’s one that, ultimately, goes nowhere. Once the killer has been identified, the detective leaves and is never seen again. In fact, everyone is glad to see the back of him.”

Top Ten Tueday: Summer-y Books

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

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June 2: Books that Give Off Summer Vibes (or winter if you live in the southern hemisphere) (submitted by Kristin @ Lukten av Trykksverte)

81afmcattl._ac_uy218_1.The Great Gatsby by  F Scott Fitzgerald- I’m actually not the biggest fan of this book (I always say I find it easier to admire than to love) but it definitely feels like summer to me. One of the dog days, when it’s too hot and you feel like you can’t breath.

“I love New York on summer afternoons when everyone’s away. There’s something very sensuous about it – overripe, as if all sorts of funny fruits were going to fall into your hands.”

 

71scqfzfhel._ac_uy218_2. Atonement by Ian McEwan– This book (especially the first 1/3) also has the feeling of one of those oppressively hot summer days, when people’s thoughts, feelings and emotions seem like they’re coming to a head.

“Dearest Cecilia, You’d be forgiven for thinking me mad, the way I acted this afternoon. The truth is I feel rather light headed and foolish in your presence, Cee, and I don’t think I can blame the heat.”

314ymltndpl._ac_uy218_3.Summer by Edith Wharton– Wharton saw this short novel as sort of a bookend to Ethan Frome set in summer rather than winter. She referred to it as “the hot Ethan.” In it, Charity Royall a naive girl from a humble background, meets an ambitious city boy and begins a torrid romance. It was quite scandalous when it first came out in 1917.

“She was blind and insensible to many things, and dimly knew it; but to all that was light and air, perfume and colour, every drop of blood in her responded. She loved the roughness of the dry mountain grass under her palms, the smell of the thyme into which she crushed her face, the fingering of the wind in her hair and through her cotton blouse, and the creak of the larches as they swayed to it.”

91-2eo8zzl._ac_uy218_4. Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver– In this book, three stories set in Southern Appalachia are woven together with lush descriptions. It captures the fecundity of nature.

“This is how moths speak to each other. They tell their love across the fields by scent. There is no mouth, the wrong words are impossible, either a mate is there or he is not, and if so the pair will find each other in the dark.”

 

61o1jdpva-l._ac_uy218_5. Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan– A  young woman competes with her father’s mistress for his attention, this short novel takes place over a languid summer on the French Riviera

“I saw an exquisite pink and blue shell on the sea-bottom. I dove for it, and held it, smooth and hollow in my hand all the morning. I decided it was a lucky charm, and that I would keep it. I am surprised that I have not lost it, for I lose everything. Today it is still pink and warm as it lies in my palm, and makes me feel like crying.”

91gphbagl._ac_uy218_6. The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides– The first person plural narration in this calls to my mind a bunch of kids hanging out in each others backyards, furtively spying on their neighbors and discussing what they see. There’s a hazy quality, as if everything seen and said is filtered through the voice of those kids, telling their story.

“In the end we had the pieces of the puzzle, but no matter how we put them together, gaps remained, oddly shaped emptinesses mapped by what surrounded them, like countries we couldn’t name.”

91tewvjr2fl._ac_uy218_7. Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss– A girl and her family, a history professor and several students attempt to live like ancient Britons one summer. The feverish heat combines  a sense of dread and malice.

“The plant began to topple and I found myself feeling guiltier about killing it than I had about gutting the rabbits. The whole of life, I thought, is doing harm, we live by killing, as if there were any being of which that is not the case.”

81l58zq3l._ac_uy218_8.Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid- My summers never revolved around sex, drugs, and rock and roll, but they do seem like summery subjects if that makes sense. The rise band’s rise to fame and break up actually happens over the course of several years but  the passion, the music, and the anger seem to take place over an exceptionally long, hot summer.

“Passion is…it’s fire. And fire is great, man. But we’re made of water. Water is how we keep living. Water is what we need to survive. My family was my water. I picked water. I’ll pick water every time.”

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Set In A Single Day

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

April 30: Inspirational/Thought-Provoking Book Quotes

Since I felt like this week’s topic was too broad, I decided to make up my own.  Books set over the course of a day are often referred to as circadian novels. This is sort of inspired by my list last week.

51l9obcg9dl._ac_ul436_1. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf– An upper class British woman reflects on her life, her marriage and her relationships as she prepares to throw a party. Meanwhile, a WWI vet suffering from shell-shock serves as a sort of doppelganger or alternate for the title character.

 

 

71bet2bs-vl._ac_ul436_2. Ulysses by James Joyce– I have to confess that I’ve never read this all the way through. I’ve read bits and excerpts; enough to get the general idea. But I find it very hard to follow without grammar or chapters. I understand what Joyce’s intention was, but it’s not an enjoyable read for me. Joyce once said that he “put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant.” X which  sort of makes it feel (to me) like he’s playing a game with readers.

41o9-2wwf5l._ac_ul436_3. Saturday by Ian McEwan– This book, about a day in the life of a London neurosurgeon is very informed by the post 9/11 mindset. We see the character (successful, privileged, and generally happy) play squash, visit his elderly mother, and cook dinner for his family, but a sudden episode of violence prompts his reflection that the world has become “a community of anxiety.”

51-pdoml6l._ac_ul436_4. Arlington Park by Rachel Cusk– We follow the lives of several women in Arlington Park, an ordinary English suburb over a rainy day as they feel anger at their husbands, their children and the world in general. I wasn’t a fan of this one really. It just felt like several unpleasant women being miserable for an entire day.

 

81qilif8rul._ac_ul436_5. Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple– This comic day in the life of Elinor Flood starts off normally. Elinor wakes and resolves to be “better” about her attitude and her life. Of course, that’s before her son decides to fake sick to stay home from school, and her husband goes off to work. When she calls his office she discovers that he’s told them (but not her!) that he’s on vacation. As Elinor navigates through the day, we learn about her life, and how she got to where she is.

51ycpilxgcl-_ac_us218_6. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens- This may be cheating a bit, because it takes place over one night, but since all the action is set within the same 24 hour period, I think it counts…

 

 

510bxhy2vel._ac_ul436_7. Eleven Hours by Paullina Simons-Didi is an ordinary, albeit heavily pregnant, woman leaving a shopping mall in Dallas when she’s abducted. Her husband and the FBI try to reach her in time, and each chapter is timestamped and the whole thing plays out over (spoiler alert!) eleven hours. I didn’t particularly like this one. I found it predictable and Didi didn’t make a compelling heroine.

 

31yhicomrpl-_ac_us218_8. Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day by Winifred Watson- This novel of an uptight English nanny who finds herself a job as a social secretary to a free spirited aspiring actress is light and funny. But because was written in 1938 reading it now, we know that the carefree Londoners we spend the day with will soon face horrors. This gives a bittersweet tone to what is intended as a light, fluffy read.

 

8104r4ac5ql._ac_ul436_ 9. New Boy by Tracy Chevalier- This re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Othello is set during one day at a 1970s era elementary school in a DC suburb. In some ways Chevalier makes a very strong statement: in the original play the escalation and lack of communication is typical behavior for ten year olds. So in this book Chevalier set these characters where they act like they belong: in a playground. But you could also argue that by doing that Chevalier belittles the source material. You’ll have to read it to decide which side of the argument you take.

And some variations on the theme

51t5nldq8kl-_ac_us218_The Hours by Michael Cunningham– This book is heavily inspired by Mrs. Dalloway, but it takes place over the course of three single day periods. One is the day that Virginia Woolf starts to write the novel. Another is the day that a 1950’s housewife begins to read it. The third is the day that a contemporary reincarnation of the main character throws a party and reflects on her life.

719ok4vdvzl._ac_ul436_One Day by David Nicholls– This book follows two characters on a single date over the course of twenty years. So from that point of view it’s one date but not one day. 

Top Ten Tuesday: Spring TBR

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday: 

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March 19: Books On My Spring 2019 TBR

81wulfx9ipl._ss135_1. The Tiger Catcher by Paullina Simons– This could go either way. Sometimes I’ll really like Simons’ work and sometimes it falls very flat. But it’s a different genre for her, which could be interesting. She usually writes contemporary or historical fiction. This seems to have a paranormal/fantasy twist.

 

511V7J75KsL._AC_US218_2. The Witches are Coming by Lindy West – In this book, West looks at the American pop culture landscape and how our popular culture, which is created by and for embittered white men, has sparked the current sociopolitical moment.

 

51gchg2zwel._ac_us218_3. Daisy  Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid– Reid can be a bit of a hit or miss for me. I loved The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo but some of her other work has struck me as a good premise with so-so execution. Still the buzz on this one is strong and my hopes are that it lives up to the the hype!

41qPb6ELO-L._AC_US218_4. Normal People by Sally Rooney- I’ve just heard really good things about this one. It’s been released in the UK for a while but the US release is forthcoming.

97801437861605. The Blue Rose by Kate Forsyth– Forsyth’s historical fairy tales are always a treat. This on is set in revolutionary France and China. It’s technically a summer release but I’ll be looking forward to it all spring!

910r60ag9tl._ac_ul436_6. In Another Time by Jillian Cantor– To be honest, I don’t know much about this one. I was looking at some spring 2019 releases and I saw this one and it just looked interesting. It’s about a German couple separated by WWII and is told in dual timelines: the years before the war are told from his POV and the years after are from hers.

71duocllggl._ac_ul436_7. Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan– McEwan is another author who, at his best, is wonderful. But he sometimes falls short of his best. Still this alternate history involving AI sounds interesting to say the least.

81ypuey8lbl._ac_ul320_8. I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution by Emily Nussbaum–  Emily Nussbaum is a journalist and critic. In this collection of essays and reviews she essentially argues that we are what we watch. Obviously I don’t think she means that literally (I hope not!) but I am interested in how she supports that assertion on a metaphorical level.

81phnc2aigl._ac_ul436_ 9. Time After Time by Lisa Grunwald– This book just seems to combine several fictional settings, and tropes that I lot. It’s a love story set in NYC in the 1920’s and 30’s and it involves time travel.

81chisjzqml._ac_ul436_10. The Wisdom of Sally Red Shoes by Ruth Hogan- I really enjoyed Ruth Hogan’s debut, The Keeper of Lost Things. I hope that this lives up to Hogan’s promise as a writer.

Top Ten Tuesday: Anticipated Released for Early 2019

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

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January 8: Most Anticipated Releases for the First Half of 2019

511V7J75KsL._AC_US218_1.  The Witches are Coming by Lindy West– This book looks at how our current socio-political moment has been stoked by a steady diet of pop culture created by mediocre white men.

 

 

 

2. 51SnHkgfUEL._AC_US218_ Daughter of Moloka’i by Alan Brennert– I loved Brennert’s Moloka’i and I’m hoping that this lives up to that standard.

 

 

 

41q9vrZpraL._AC_US218_3. The Woman in the Lake by Nicola Cornick- In this case the comparisons to Kate Morton, Barbara Erskine and Susanna Kearsley got my attention pretty quickly!

 

 

 

 

51sOOMroi9L._AC_US218_4. The Familiars by Stacey Halls– This is historical fiction set against the backdrop of the Pendle Hill witch trials. It looks interesting!

 

 

 

515y9hgrwzl-_ac_us218_5. The Paragon Hotel by Lyndsay Faye– I loved Faye’s Jane Steele and I’m currently reading (and enjoying) her first novel, Dust and Shadow. Her latest has been getting some good advance reviews, so I’m excited.

 

 

 

41qPb6ELO-L._AC_US218_6. Normal People by Sally Rooney– I think that this book has already been released some places, but here the release date is listed as April 2019. Regardless, it sounds good!

 

 

 

31ieCRhGhEL._AC_US218_7. Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan– Sometimes when McEwan gets weird it doesn’t quite work for me (Nutshell, I’m looking at you!) but this novel about artificial intelligence set in a alternative version of London in the 1980’s sounds interesting.

 

 

41etjy5BOOL._AC_US218_8. Spring by Ali Smith– I’m a little behind on Smith’s four seasons quartet (I still haven’t read Winter!) but  I still plan to read that and this one ASAP.

Top Ten Tuesday: Best Novellas and Short Stories

For That Artsy Reader Girl’s Top Ten Tuesday:

July 17: Favorite Novellas/Short Stories

515izn3gadl-_ac_us218_1. The Story of An Hour by Kate Chopin– Like Chopin’s famous novel The Awakening, this short story is an early exploration of how confining marriage could be for a woman at the turn of the century. It begins when Mrs. Mallard is informed of her husband’s death and follows her through the next hour, as she absorbs what that means for her life now.

 

51ugyhie53l-_ac_us218_2. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson– This is probably one of the more famous examples from the genre and for good reason. The more you think about what happens and the reasons for it, the more disturbing the implications become.  All the residents of a small town gather one summer morning to draw lots. Eventually, the residents are narrowed down more and more, until one is selected. What eventually becomes of the “winner” of this lottery will unsettle you.

41iob1yraol-_ac_us218_3. Hills Like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway– I’m not usually a Hemingway fan at all, but I feel like in this case, his spare, economical style served the material well. A man and a woman are waiting at a train station. We follow their conversation over several pages and eventually we can put two and two together and understand where they’re going and why. Without any narrative commentary, the reader still gets a sense of the emotional distance between these people, and the tension comes from what they’re not saying.

61g-wucnurl-_ac_us218_4. The Garden Party by Katherine Mansfield- This poignant story deals with a wealthy family preparing for a garden party. When they receive the news that their neighbor has died, the daughter Laura wants to call off the party. She’s overruled by the rest of the family. But when Laura is sent to bring some flowers to the dead man’s grieving family, she’s forever changed by what she encounters. To me, it’s a perfect example of what makes the short story special. It covers what is really a tiny piece of the character’s life (only a few hours), but also a time that will change her in a profound way.

61l1afcvhtl-_ac_us218_5. The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter- The title story in Carter’s collection of retold fairy tales, this story explores the classic fairy tale, Bluebeard, in which a girl marries an older man and is taken to his castle, where she’s given the keys to all the rooms and is told that she can’t open one room. Of course, she does open it and discovers the bloody corpses of her husband’s previous wives. Carter’s retelling explores themes that are prevalent throughout her work, but most particularly her fairy tale retellings. These themes include sexuality and maternal instinct.

31g7ovvubul-_ac_us218_6. Shopgirl by Steve Martin– This novella by Steve Martin (yes, that Steven Martin) focuses on Mirabelle, a department store salesgirl in her late 20s who becomes involved with an older man. But it’s not the typical older man/younger woman misogynistic fantasy that you’d expect from an older male author. The focus of the novel remains on largely on Mirabelle throughout; her loneliness, her frustrations, and the reasons that she becomes involved in this relationship. It’s funny and poignant at the same time.

51ktieauzl-_ac_us218_7. The Light in the Piazza by Elizabeth Spencer–  Margaret Johnson, a wealthy woman from North Carolina, travels to Florence with her daughter Clara in 1953. Margaret’s husband, Roy, stays home to work. In Florence, Clara meets Fabrizio Nacarelli, a young man with whom she falls in love. Clara isn’t quite as she first appears, which may be a barrier to her future with Fabrizio.  Margaret hates the thought of her daughter suffering the pain of love gone wrong. But she is not able to express her concerns to Fabrizio or his family due to the language barrier.  Or so she thinks. As Clara and Fabrizio’s relationship progresses Margaret realizes that while she’s afraid of what will happen if Clara’s secret is discovered, her fear may be overruled by her hope for Clara’s happiness. These dual maternal instincts tear at her, as she tries to figure out what is in her daughter’s best interests.

51q4ceca-kl-_ac_us218_8. On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan– In 1962, Florence and Edward fall in love and get married.  Both are virgins. While Edward is nervous about his wedding night, he is nonetheless looking forward to marriage. Florence, on the other hand, is terrified by the little she knows is involved in sexual intimacy. Because they’re both young and unsure, they navigate this tension in a clumsy way. But the words they don’t say, and the gestures they fail to make, may ultimately be what determines the fate of their marriage and the course of their lives. The narration runs parallel to the conflict. What isn’t explicitly said about the characters is implied. And those are the things that may make all the difference. This book caused some controversy in 2007 when it was nominated for the Booker Prize. At less than 40,000 words, it’s technically a novella, but it was allowed onto the shortlist of novels by the panel.

41srw9zyjrl-_ac_us218_9. The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas by Ursula K. LeGuin– Omelas is a utopian city where all the residents live in peace and prosperity. As our unnamed narrator describes it, it seems too good to be true. In order to convince the reader that it is true, the narrator begins to speak of the price that is paid for the city’s happiness. It’s a price that’s initially horrifying to the residents once they learn of it. But most make their peace with it, knowing that it’s for the greater good. But some people aren’t able to accept it and end up leaving Omelas. The unasked question for the reader is, of course, “which would you be?” Would you live in paradise knowing that somewhere, an unseen injustice takes place all the time to keep you there? Or would you leave?

5100vzgkz-l-_ac_us218_10.  The Landlady by Roald Dahl– Billy Weaver is a young man traveling from London to Bath on business. He stops overnight at a bed and breakfast. The landlady is an older woman whom Billy initially suspects might be a little senile.  When he goes to sign the guestbook he sees that two of the previous lodgers have names that seem familiar to him but he can’t quite place. The landlady gives him some tea and they chat a bit. Nothing that happens seems ominous but the feeling that something is “off” pervades the story. When the truth about the B&B is revealed the reader will go back and look through the story trying to spot the clues.

Top Ten Tuesday: Anti-Travel Books

For That Artsy Reader Girl‘s Top Ten Tuesday, this week’s topic was

June 12: Books That Awaken the Travel Bug In Me

But then I started thinking that books that make me want to stay home might also be kind of fun…

51vkfhy5xal-_ac_us218_1. Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

Location: Greek Resort

Problem: Lottie is disappointed when her boyfriend doesn’t propose. When her ex-shows up they impulsively decide to elope. After the ceremony, it’s a quick flight to Greece. But Lottie’s sister, Fliss, knows that this marriage is a terrible idea. She also knows the marriage can be easily annulled if it’s not consummated, so she’s on a mission to keep that from happening, getting everyone from the groom’s best friend, to the hotel staff to help her.

41unjbdr4ql-_ac_us218_2. The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

Location: Italy

Problem: Tom Ripley has been hired by a rich man to get his son Dickie to return to the US. Tom meets up with Dickie and some of his friends in Italy. But instead of getting Dickie to go home, he ends up killing Dickie and assuming his identity.

41yn-xblul-_ac_us218_3. Don’t Look Now by Daphne Du Maurier

Location: Venice, Italy

Problem- A young couple is vacationing in Venice while trying to recover from the loss of their daughter. They meet two women who claim to be psychic, and the women give a warning and tell them that their daughter’s spirit is with them. At the same time, a serial killer is stalking the city’s streets and canals…

51zbak-airl-_ac_us218_4. The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Location: Scandinavian luxury cruise

Problem: Lo is a travel writer, assigned to cover the maiden voyage of a new cruise line.  Her first night on board, she hears a scream and a splash. Looking out her window she sees something in the water. However, the ship’s officials don’t believe that anything really happened. Lo had been drinking that night, and no passengers are missing.

51mny8nb9il-_ac_us218_5. The Ruins by Scott Smith

Location: Cancun, Mexico

Problem: Four friends are on a beach vacation. When the brother of one of them disappears they decide to look for him where he was last seen, checking out some ancient ruins in the jungle. When they reach the ruins, the locals don’t seem to want to let them go, and once they do make it, they’re not allowed to leave, because an ancient enemy lives in the ruins.

51q4ceca-kl-_ac_us218_6. On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

Location: Dorset coast, England

Problem: In 1962, Florence and Edward have just gotten married, and are on their honeymoon. But one of them has a secret that may tear them apart.

 

41thlz3l7dl-_ac_us218_7. Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes

Location: Ireland

Problem: Rachael is an Irish ex-pat living in NYC. But when her tendency to overdo things lands her in the emergency room, her family whisks her back to Ireland and sends her to the Cloisters, a rehab. Rachel thinks it might be kind of nice: a little vacation, some spa treatments, maybe a celebrity roommate… What she finds are a lot of group therapy and some unwelcome self-knowledge.

51c7vwzpjhl-_ac_us218_8. Sleeping Arrangements by Madeline Wickam (aka Sophie Kinsella)

Location: Spain

Problem: Hugh feels alienated from his wife and kids. He hopes that a trip to a friend’s luxury villa in Spain will help the family reconnect. Meanwhile, Chloe and her family are facing similar problems and their friend offers them the same solution. But it turns out that their friend booked both families in the villa for the same week. And Chloe and Hugh have a history, and before the week is out old ghosts will be put to rest, new tensions will erupt, and the families may or may not make it out intact.

51ohnm-86zl-_ac_us218_9. The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles

Location: North Africa

Problem: Port and Kit travel to Africa believing that it’s one of the last “unspoiled” places in the world. They’re soon joined by several annoying, parasitic travelers. To escape they head into the Sahara without plans or directions. It does not go well.

51yxivihhl-_ac_us218_10. The Magus by John Fowles

Location: Greek Island

Problem: Nicholas Urfe is a recent grad who has accepted a job teaching on a Greek island. He befriends the owner of an estate on the island, who plays elaborate mind games with him until he can’t tell what is and isn’t real.