The Sixteenth of June

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A few years ago I bravely attempted to read Ulysses.  I finished it, but I got absolutely nothing out of it, except for being able to say that I finished it.  That dynamic is partly in play in Maya Lang’s novel, The Sixteenth of June, where June and Michael Portman put on an annual Bloomsday party more for show than for any true appreciation for the novel that inspired it.

Like Ulysses, The Sixteenth of June takes place over one day (June 16th), in this case in 2004, the 100th anniversary of the day recounted by James Joyce.  The plans for the Portman’s party are in full swing; however, before the festivities begin the family must attend to the funeral of Michael’s mother, who died alone in a nursing home.

June and Michael’s children, Leopold and Stephen, along with Leo’s fiancee and Stephen’s best friend, Nora,  are the focal point of the story and each are dealing with the day’s events in their own way.  Leo is patiently waiting for Nora to commit to a wedding date so he can continue his life schedule which includes a move to the suburbs; Stephen is the only one who visited his grandmother (secretly) in her final years and is unsure how or whether to proceed in his academic career; and Nora is still grieving for her mother who died a year ago.

I don’t know if it is a spoiler to say that – as in Ulysses – nothing much happens in this novel, but there is a lot of exploration of relationships between family members and the secrets we keep from each other, for good or bad.

The Sixteenth of June is certainly an easier read than Ulysses and I enjoyed it more, but I can’t say that I loved it.  I need to feel something about characters, and here I couldn’t gather any affection or dislike for the 3 main characters. It is a book that will give you things to think about, though,  and would probably be a nice choice for book group discussion.

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Literary Giveaway Blog Hop

literarybloghopI am thrilled to participate once again in leeswammes‘ Literary Blog Hop, a great opportunity for readers to win books and hopefully discover new blogs and fellow book-lovers.

Since it is World Cup season, I am giving away a copy of one of my favorite novels of 2014 so far:  The Sun and Other Stars by Brigid Pasulka.  You don’t have to know anything about soccer/football to enjoy the story, but by the end you will certainly understand the passion that the game generates.

To enter, leave a comment and let me know what has been your favorite book so far this year.  I, of course, have nothing to read so I need the extra recommendations ;-)

I will select a random commenter on the evening of June 25 and will notify the winner by e-mail.  My giveaway is open internationally!

And make sure to hop to the other participating blogs, listed below — you can’t win if you don’t hop!  Have fun!

  1. Leeswammes
  2. The Misfortune of Knowing
  3. Bibliosue
  4. Too Fond
  5. Under a Gray Sky
  6. Read Her Like an Open Book (US)
  7. My Devotional Thoughts
  8. WildmooBooks
  9. Guiltless Reading
  10. Fourth Street Review
  11. Nishita’s Rants and Raves
  12. Word by Word
  13. Words And Peace (US)
  14. Ciska’s Book Chest
  15. Falling Letters
  16. Roof Beam Reader
  17. Readerbuzz
  18. The Relentless Reader (US)
  19. Mom’s Small Victories (US)
  20. Daily Mayo (US)
  1. The Emerald City Book Review (US)
  2. A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall
  3. Lost Generation Reader
  4. Booklover Book Reviews
  5. Bay State Reader’s Advisory
  6. River City Reading (US)
  7. Books Speak Volumes
  8. Words for Worms
  9. Wensend
  10. Bibliophile’s Retreat
  11. Readers’ Oasis
  12. The Book Musings
  13. My Book Retreat (N. Am.)
  14. Books on the Table (US)
Posted in book blogs, giveaway, Literary blog hop, Uncategorized | Tagged | 55 Comments

Readers’ Workouts

The Readers’ Workouts meme is hosted at Joy’s Book Blog.   This is a place to share exercise successes and challenges.

Things are rolling along well with the Marine.  I see him twice a week for some heavy duty strength training and stress release – once in a while he has me do sets of medicine ball slams which is just throwing a 14 lb medicine ball to the ground but man is it therapeutic after a day at the office.  Now that I am getting stronger, though, he wants me to add some more cardio into my workouts, at least 20 minutes of interval training after I’ve done strength and 30-45 minutes when I’m not.  Again, I am the teacher’s pet so I do what I’m told, sometimes to the extreme.  Last Tuesday I walked/ran 5k on the treadmill after the Marine gave me a lot of stuff for my legs on Monday, so needless to say Wednesday I was not moving very quickly.

It is silly, but I’ve created a rule for myself that I can’t leave the gym floor until I have hit 10,000 steps on my fitbit.  I’ve been at it a week and so far so good – on occasion I’ve caught myself wanting to head to the locker room with a few hundred steps to go knowing that I’ll hit 10,000 steps but I stop and do an extra lap or two (or 4) around the track.  It’s amazing how such a small thing gives me a sense of accomplishment.

And the other day I saw a number on the scale I haven’t seen in a very long time, so I must be doing something right.

Quick review:  I just finished a book called Diet Cults:  The Surprising Fallacy at the Core of Nutrition Fads and a Guide to Healthy Eating for the Rest of Us by Matt Fitzgerald and it was fascinating.  If you have ever fallen prey to any diet fads — paleo, gluten-free, raw food, even Weight Watchers — you will find this book interesting.  It’s not that any of these eating lifestyles are wrong, per se, but that they are not THE ONE TRUE WAY to eat.  There is no perfect way to eat that suits everyone.

Posted in health and fitness | Tagged | 7 Comments

Sitting Around on a Sunday – Father’s Day edition

I don’t think I ever saw my dad read much when I was growing up.  He would read the newspaper but that was about it.  In recent years, though, he has begun to read more, but it is not only because he is is retired.  Dad suffers from polycystic kidney disease (PKD), and it has progressed to the point where for the last year he has required dialysis treatments 3 times a week.  He has other health issues which make him not a good candidate for a kidney transplant so this will be part of his routine for the rest of his life.

But to make lemonade out of lemons and he is using at least some of the time he spends in treatment reading.  The man is teched out with his iGadget and several reading apps and he reads history books and has become a fan of Kathy Reichs’ Bones series.

On Father’s Day 8 years ago when I called Dad to wish him Happy Father’s Day he revealed his recent diagnosis of PKD and since it is a genetic disease he suggested I be tested for it.  Several weeks later I did and found out that I too have PKD (my two brothers were also tested but have no signs of the disease so I won the genetic lotto).  My symptoms are still pretty mild in comparison to Dad’s, but as there is no known cure it is likely that dialysis and possibly transplantation will also be in my future.  I’ve always longed for extra reading time, but I am not entirely sure that this is how I want to achieve it ;-)

For more information about PKD visit this website: pkdcure.org, and if you haven’t already done so, please become an organ donor.

Happy Father’s Day, everyone.

 

Posted in health and fitness, random reading thoughts, Reading Life | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Last Train to Paris

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Reading books like Last Train to Paris by Michele Zackheim confirm my theory that I may have been born in the wrong decade.

This novel combines two of my favorite subjects, Paris (loosely, though part of the novel is also set in Berlin) and World War II, and adds a really strong female character who I really wish I could be when I grow up.  It is the story of Rose (R.B.) Manon, who in her old age recounts her younger years, both as a child in Nevada and as a journalist in Europe in the years immediately preceding World War II.   Despite generally being the lone female reporting on any given story, she is well-regarded for her work; however it is her gender and close ties to the story that force her away from the “real” news to cover a sensational missing person case in Paris and the subsequent trial.  Though she feels obligated in some ways to cover this story, it is what is happening in Berlin – especially the fate of her lover – that she wants to document.  I was so drawn to how Rose went from living in what was at the time the middle of nowhere to heading out for the big bad world — first in New York, then Paris and Berlin — to pursue her dreams and when realizing what was happening around her to help others.  I wish I had her chutzpah.

I’ve read many, many books – fiction and non-fiction – about World War II in Europe and I am always amazed when I read something new about what went on during that period.  I didn’t do any fact-checking (yet) on some of the Nazis’ activities described in this novel, but knowing what they had done, they are totally within the realm of possibility.

Part historical narrative, part mystery, part love story, this novel has something for everyone and is well worth reading.

Posted in Europa Editions, fiction, history, Uncategorized, World War II | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

A Replacement Life – TLC Book Tours

A Replacement Life

One can say that a benefit of having a book blog is that it provides an opportunity to receive copies of books in advance of their publication date; sometimes they are the final published edition, but most of the time they are an Advance Reader’s Copy (ARC), which disclaim on the cover that they are an uncorrected proof.

I say this because I read an ARC of A Replacement Life and I think it affected how I read and enjoyed (or, in this case, did not enjoy) the novel.

The premise of the novel is what interested me:  Slava Gelman, a young aspiring reporter at a New Yorker-esque magazine, is asked by his grandfather to write his reparations claim to the German government for the suffering he incurred in the Soviet Union during World War II.  The only problem is that the one who is eligible to receive the claim is actually Slava’s grandmother, and she just died. But being the dutiful grandson Slava does as he is asked and thinks that is the end.  Until it’s not – Grandfather can’t help but brag about his grandson to others in the Russian-Jewish community in New York and before long Slava is asked to write claims for other refugees.  Meanwhile he is also trying to build a relationship with a co-worker and a life for himself outside of the immigrant enclave he grew up in.

Again I’m basing my opinion only on the ARC, so I hope the author and his editor put some more work into the novel before final publication, but I found the story difficult to follow.  Names and places weren’t consistent, and one of the chapters had a date six years ahead of any other chapter’s heading and it took me a while to figure out if I missed anything or if it was just an error.  I also couldn’t get a good read on the intent of the story — is it about justice?  The immigrant experience?  Family ties?  Maybe it was all of those things or none of them.

Sadly, not my cup of tea.  But please do visit the other stops on this tour to read others’ opinions of A Replacement Life

 

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Posted in 2014, blog tours, fiction, tlc book tour, Uncategorized | Tagged | 4 Comments

Readers’ Workouts – Honesty is not Always the Best Policy

The Readers’ Workouts meme is hosted at Joy’s Book Blog.   This is a place to share exercise successes and challenges.

Ah, the Marine.  He asks questions that I know I shouldn’t answer honestly, but I do and get myself in trouble.

At the beginning of each workout he asks if I was sore after the last workout.  I usually say no, because I am genuinely ok — my muscles are tired, sure, but I can generally function as a normal human being.  This always perplexes him, so he pushes just a bit harder, and a bit more, and a bit more.

Last Wednesday he had me doing drop sets, which are sets of 15 reps, 12 reps, and 10 reps with 10 second rest in between (that is ONE SET, I had to do four drop sets of each exercise).  Wednesday we usually work on lower body, so I was doing squats, calf raises, leg extensions, and leg curls (there may have been an interval on the rowing machine, too — my mind has tried to block it all out).  I persevered, and even managed to get my prescribed 15 minutes of High Intensity Intervals on the elliptical machine afterward.  When I was done though, I had to walk.down.the.stairs (I curse the architect who designed my gym).  And when I got home — more stairs (curses 2 story house!).  I was sore – my g*d I was sore – and it was Sunday before I could walk without feeling the ache in my legs.  So when the Marine asked me on Monday how I felt after the last workout and I told him, he had an evil grin on his face ……. it’s a good thing he is a nice guy.

Posted in health and fitness | Tagged | 3 Comments