Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Fever Dreams by Samanta Schweblin

Fever Dreams
by Samanta Schweblin
narrated by Megan McDowell

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2017
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Hardback: 192
Rating: 3

First sentence(s):
They're like worms.

A young woman named Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital clinic. A boy named David sits beside her. She’s not his mother. He's not her child. Together, they tell a haunting story of broken souls, toxins, and the power and desperation of family.

Fever Dream is a nightmare come to life, a ghost story for the real world, a love story and a cautionary tale. One of the freshest new voices to come out of the Spanish language and translated into English for the first time, Samanta Schweblin creates an aura of strange psychological menace and otherworldly reality in this absorbing, unsettling, taut novel.

My two-bits:

Interesting premise, but it did not translate well for me. Maybe reading the print version would make it a bit more clear with what is going on. I did not get the horror or thriller vibe.


* Listened to audiobook version.

* part of Tournament of Books 2018 (here)

Monday, February 19, 2018

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

Lincoln in the Bardo
by George Saunders

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2017
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Historical, Literary
Hardback: 368
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
On our wedding day I was forty-six, she was eighteen.

February 1862. The Civil War is less than one year old. The fighting has begun in earnest, and the nation has begun to realize it is in for a long, bloody struggle. Meanwhile, President Lincoln’s beloved eleven-year-old son, Willie, lies upstairs in the White House, gravely ill. In a matter of days, despite predictions of a recovery, Willie dies and is laid to rest in a Georgetown cemetery. “My poor boy, he was too good for this earth,” the president says at the time. “God has called him home.” Newspapers report that a grief-stricken Lincoln returns, alone, to the crypt several times to hold his boy’s body.

From that seed of historical truth, George Saunders spins an unforgettable story of familial love and loss that breaks free of its realistic, historical framework into a supernatural realm both hilarious and terrifying. Willie Lincoln finds himself in a strange purgatory where ghosts mingle, gripe, commiserate, quarrel, and enact bizarre acts of penance. Within this transitional state—called, in the Tibetan tradition, the bardo—a monumental struggle erupts over young Willie’s soul.

Lincoln in the Bardo is an astonishing feat of imagination and a bold step forward from one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. Formally daring, generous in spirit, deeply concerned with matters of the heart, it is a testament to fiction’s ability to speak honestly and powerfully to the things that really matter to us. Saunders has invented a thrilling new form that deploys a kaleidoscopic, theatrical panorama of voices to ask a timeless, profound question: How do we live and love when we know that everything we love must end?

My two-bits:

At first I tried listening to the audio version for this because of its all-star cast. But I found it hard to follow along with the many resource references for the short bursts of text. I found reading the print version better as I could skim over the reference notations which made a more seamless story.

Interesting storytelling style with this one which could work for some but not others. I was okay with it after getting used to its rhythm. The story is told in bits and pieces with many voices and a few main characters that stay throughout.

Got me thinking of grief and the afterlife - specifically, the Bardo which is known as the transitional state in Tibetan tradition.

One amusing image that tickled me was this...

On other days, everyone she met manifested as a giant mustache with legs. -Hans Vollman
chapter xxvii, page 79


* part of Man Booker Prize Reading Challenge (here)

* part of Tournament of Books 2018 (here)

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Murder Under the Bridge by Kate Raphael

Murder Under the Bridge:
A Palestine Mystery

by Kate Jessica Raphael

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2015
Publisher: She Writes Press
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, LGTBQ, Middle East, Palestine
Paperback: 400
Rating: 4

A Palestine Mystery series:
Murder Under the Bridge
Murder Under the Fig Tree

First sentence(s):
Rania placed the little brass coffee pot on the flame, resting one hand no the long handle so she could snatch it up before it boiled over.

When Rania―the only female Palestinian police detective in the northern West Bank, as well as a young mother in a rural community where many believe women should not have such a dangerous career―discovers the body of a foreign woman on the edge of her village, no one seems to want her look too deeply into what’s happened. But she finds an ally in Chloe―a gay, Jewish-American peace worker with a camera and a big attitude―and together, with the help of an annoying Israeli policeman, they work to solve the murder. As they do, secrets about war crimes and Israel’s thriving sex trafficking trade begin to surface―and Rania finds everything she holds dear in jeopardy.

My two-bits:

A bit slow in some parts but got a sense of Palestine and the people with this mystery. The focus seemed to revolve around the women's relationships more than the mystery.


* part of Books, Inc. Foreign Intrigue Book Club (here)

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Lovely Books and Things - 2.17.18

Lovely Books and Things
My Weekly Books and Films Update

Linking up with:
Stacking the Shelves (details)
Sunday Post (details)
Mailbox Monday (details)



1. Mardi Gras music on Fat Tuesday - makes you wanna shake that booty

2. Sending Valentine's Day cheer via both mail and text

3. Craft magazines with to-do kits included - Mollie Makes, Make Special Cards, and My Creative Journal. I will unbag each over the next couple weeks so you can see the goods (see below for the first reveal). And, I will review each as I tackle them.



Her Body and Other Parties
by Carmen Maria Machado
-Feminism, Horror, Short Stories
Amazon | Goodreads

IMPULSE buy at Bowser Books on Fillmore Street, San Francisco. Feminist related books have been on my radar since watching the tv series, The Handmaid's Tale.

Manhattan Beach
by Jennifer Egan
-Historical, Literary
Amazon | Goodreads

FOR the upcoming competition of The Tournament of Books (here).


Mollie Makes - #88
Crochet, Papercraft, Sew, Embroider, Macrame

magazine with craft and inspiration ideas
pom pom love birds kit
with all the ingredients needed to make them (yarn, felt, pom pom maker)

OTHER things (kinda book-related):

Check out my Blog About It: February RED post (here)

AND watched: in theatre

Faces Places (2017)
Directors/Writers: JR and Agnès Varda
Stars: Jean-Paul Beaujon, Amaury Bossy
-Documentary | imdb | my rating: 5
Oscar 2018 nominee

Director Agnes Varda and photographer/muralist J.R. journey through rural France and form an unlikely friendship.

DELIGHTFUL to watch these two artists travel into small towns in France making their creations and impacting the communities in small ways.

Oscar Shorts 2018

Dear Basketball (USA), in which narrator Kobe Bryant explores what it means to achieve your dream and then leave it behind
Garden Party (France), in which a couple of amphibians in a deserted house explore their surroundings and follow their primal instincts
Lou (USA), the story of a toy-stealing bully who ruins recess for a playground full of kids, but one thing stands in his way: the “Lost and Found” box
Negative Space (France)*, about a boy whose dad taught him how to pack
Revolting Rhymes (UK), which interweaves Roald Dahl’s retellings of classic fairy tales with playful twists and surprising endings.

Bonus animated shorts include Weeds, Lost Property Office and Achoo!

Dekalb Elementary (USA), inspired by a 911 call placed during a school shooting incident in Atlanta, Georgia
My Nephew Emmett (USA), set in 1955 and based on the true story of a Mississippi preacher who tries to protect his 14-year-old nephew, Emmett Till, from two racist killers out for blood
The Eleven O’Clock (Australia), in which the delusional patient of a psychiatrist believes he is actually the psychiatrist, causing each to treat the other as the session gets out of control
The Silent Child (UK)*, centering around a profoundly deaf four-year-old girl who is born into a middle class family and lives in a world of silence until a caring social worker teaches her the gift of communication
Watu Wote - All of Us (Germany/Kenya), For almost a decade Kenya has been targeted by terrorist attacks of the Al-Shabaab. An atmosphere of anxiety and mistrust between Muslims and Christians is growing. Until in December 2015, Muslim bus passengers showed that solidarity can prevail.

THESE were all good and all deserving with various current topics. I put a * next to my favorites.

Mostly British Film Festival 2018

GOT a festival pass and will catch as many as I can. These are what I have attended so far.

Mad To Be Normal (2017)
Director/Writer: Robert Mullan
Writer: Tracy Moreton
Stars: David Tennant, Elisabeth Moss
-Biography, Drama, History, UK | imdb | my rating: 4

During the 1960s, a renegade Scottish psychiatrist courts controversy within his profession for his approach to the field, and for the unique community he creates for his patients to inhabit.

FASCINATING take on R.D. Laing - some of his relationships and methods regarding mental illness. Got me curious to want to learn more about his background.

The Party (2017)
Director: Sally Potter
Writers: Sally Potter, Walter Donohue (story editor)
Stars: Timothy Spall, Kristin Scott Thomas,
-Comedy, Drama, UK | imdb | my rating: 5

Janet hosts a party to celebrate her new promotion, but once the guests arrive it becomes clear that not everything is going to go down as smoothly as the red wine.

STYLISTICALLY a beautifully made in black/white. The story is one that builds into a crazy climax. Loved it.

Joanne Froggatt Tribute
film clips and onstage interview

LOVED this Q&A with Joanne regarding her past works including the screening of the night, A Crooked Somebody. I really want to see her current tv series, Liar which is a British psychological thriller.

A Crooked Somebody (2017)
Director: Trevor White
Writer: Andrew Zilch
Stars: Gillian Vigman, Ed Harris, Joanne Froggatt
-Drama, Thriller | imdb | my rating: 5

An attention-seeking psychic is kidnapped and tries to use the situation to boost his popularity.

GOT me more aware of psychics. Fun twists and turns along the way with this one.

AND watched: on DVD

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)
Director/Writer: Matt Reeves
Writer: Mark Bomback
Based on characters by: Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver
Suggested by novel: La planète des singes by Pierre Boulle
Stars: Andy Serkis, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn
-Action, Adventure, Drama | imdb | my rating: 5
Oscar 2018 nominee

After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind.

STRUGGLES that are relatable when it comes to power/peace and the race/class system.

Mother! (2017)
Director/Writer: Darren Aronofsky
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem
-Drama, Horror, Mystery | imdb | my rating: 4

A couple's relationship is tested when uninvited guests arrive at their home, disrupting their tranquil existence.

MANY layers come to mind. At face value it is a weird horror tale. But the after effects make you think of the relation to the creation story.


* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently


Friday, February 16, 2018

No One Is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts

No One Is Coming to Save Us
by Stephanie Powell Watts
narrated by Janina Edwards

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2017
Publisher: Ecco
Genre: Literary, African American
Hardback: 384
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
The house he's building is done mostly.

JJ Ferguson has returned home to Pinewood, North Carolina, to build his dream house and to pursue his high school sweetheart, Ava. But as he reenters his former world, where factories are in decline and the legacy of Jim Crow is still felt, he’s startled to find that the people he once knew and loved have changed just as much as he has. Ava is now married and desperate for a baby, though she can’t seem to carry one to term. Her husband, Henry, has grown distant, frustrated by the demise of the furniture industry, which has outsourced to China and stripped the area of jobs. Ava’s mother, Sylvia, caters to and meddles with the lives of those around her, trying to fill the void left by her absent son. And Don, Sylvia’s unworthy but charming husband, just won’t stop hanging around.

JJ’s return—and his plans to build a huge mansion overlooking Pinewood and woo Ava—not only unsettles their family, but stirs up the entire town. The ostentatious wealth that JJ has attained forces everyone to consider the cards they’ve been dealt, what more they want and deserve, and how they might go about getting it. Can they reorient their lives to align with their wishes rather than their current realities? Or are they all already resigned to the rhythms of the particular lives they lead?

No One Is Coming to Save Us is a revelatory debut from an insightful voice: with echoes of The Great Gatsby it is an arresting and powerful novel about an extended African American family and their colliding visions of the American Dream. In evocative prose, Stephanie Powell Watts has crafted a full and stunning portrait that combines a universally resonant story with an intimate glimpse into the hearts of one family.

My two-bits:

An African American experience with all the drama as mentioned in the description that is Gatsby-esque. Like in Gatsby the characters are unlikable. However, the story draws you in.


* Listened to audiobook version.

* part of SJP's Book Club (here)

Imagination Designs
Images from: Lovelytocu