A Possible New Format and a Look at The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield-Fisher

Hey, I just finished a book! Like, just finished it... moments ago. I figure I'll give a few thoughts on it while I'm sitting here listening to the rain.

The Home-Maker
The Home-Maker by Dorothy Canfield-Fisher
The Home Maker is a look at the home life of Eva and Lester Knapp. Lester hates his job at the
department store. Lucky for him, he's just been fired. Not so lucky for him is the fact that he has a wife and three children to provide for. Lester decides to take the George Bailey Solution, since he believes his family would be better off without him.

Eva is equally unhappy with their home situation. Not only is she frustrated with her husband's lack of ambition, but she finds that's she not cut out for child rearing. She can keep a beautiful home, cook a healthy meal, but the children confuse and frustrate her.

After Lester ends up bed ridden, Eva takes over Lester's role as bread winner. Surprisingly, she's good at it. Really, really good at it. She's never been happier. Lester too is suited to the life as a home-maker. The trouble is what will the neighbours and society make of this reversal of gender roles.

The Home-Maker was written in 1924 so it was pretty radical at the time. Men looking after the children? Women working outside the home? Scandalous! It does, however, still have relevance today. Women still do most of the house cleaning. And how many people have heard someone say a father was "babysitting" his own children? Lester remarks late in the book, "society is really based on a contempt for women's work in the home." Work is only valued when you can put a dollar value on it.

Although I enjoyed The Home-Maker most of the time, I found Lester's poetic musings aggravating. There tended to be tangents and flowery language that maybe didn't age well.

I'm glad I finally finished it so that I can move onto something new.

Speaking of home making, I've painted three rooms in my house since I finished working. I'm not sure when I'll be back to work again so I'm trying to do All The Things now. I'm happy with the results. A fresh coat of paint makes everything look new again. I got to tell you though, I'm painted out. I think I'm taking a paint break.

This might be my new format for reviews. I'm going to add them to random posts. Not exclusively book reviews.


No, I Haven't Been Hacked. It's Really Me. And a Review.

So, Hi! The last time I post here it was the end of April. Wow. I thought I should check out my blog and make sure it wasn't taken over by Russian hackers or something. I actually couldn't figure out how to sign into my blog. That was a tense 30 seconds.

Anyway, how are you, my one reader who still has me in their blog feed? Do people have blog feeds anymore? I don't know. I'm not sure if book blogging is even a thing anymore. I feel so old fashioned right now. I'm so out of the loop.

I'm fine. I read my 6th book this year. Crazy, right? It was Wyllard's Weird. It was not weird. It's a sensation novel by Mary Elizabeth Braddon. It wasn't as good as Lady Audley's Secret. That one is hard to beat. Hey, let's review it while we're here.

Wyllard's Weird begins in Cornwall where a young French woman jumps to her death from a train. Or did she? There is some question as to whether she jumped or was pushed. The local coroner, Edward Heathcote, suspects the cousin of his old flame, a Mr Bothwell, who refuses to say what his business was that had him on the train that day. Things get sticky when Heathcote's sister becomes engaged to Bothwell. Is she about to marry a murderer? To ease his mind, Heathcote travels to the streets of Paris, and uncovers a cold case, the murder of an actress ten years before, that might be connected to the recent death of the French girl.

This one started out strong. Who's this French girl? Did someone push her? (Of course they did.) Heathcote is a competent detective. He follows all the clues. Unfortunately, it becomes quite apparent who the murderer is about halfway through and then it's just killing time until Heathcote reveals it all at the end. It's rather anticlimactic.

It's also somewhat frustrating to read all the digs Braddon gets at the French. You can murder anyone in France and get away with it if you have a romantic enough reason for it, according to this book. The Great French Detective gives up easily and is no match for this English amateur who solves a ten year old murder in a matter of weeks. There's a dose of victim blaming, although Braddon beats us over the head with the idea that even though she was an actress the deceased was as pure as the driven snow. (FYI, Braddon had been an actress.) There's also a subplot involving emotional infidelity and gambling addiction.

So, not the best ending, but there's still some good stuff in there. Wyllard's Weird was published 23 years after the success of Lady Audley's Secret, so maybe it's a case of phoning it in.

Ps- LibriVox reader Lynne Thompson is pretty good.

What else? I saw Wonder Woman. A+++ I loved it so much. I'm watching Twin Peaks. I can't even tell you what I'm feeling about that. I change my mind every week. Do I like Dougie or have I had enough of him? Not sure.

She's not sure either
I started watching A Handmaid's Tale. Yikes. And the final season of Orphan Black. (This week's episode broke me.)

Lots of TV and not many books. 

I think that's about it. I'm not sure what to do with myself or where you can find me. I'm pretty sure I'm going to delete my Twitter. It's just a dumpster fire on there. Where does anyone go to just talk about books? Litsy? Maybe try me there. 


I'm Doing It: 24 Hour Readathon

Yes, I'm going to read at least one book today! Considering I've only read 3 books this year. (I know!) That's a big deal.

So the usual questions answered here: I'm in Nova Scotia, Canada. I'm looking forward to reading The Blank Wall by Elisabeth Sanaxy Holding and eating lemon squares I made last night. This is not my first rodeo and I will be taking it slow and breezy today. I haven't been reading at all lately. (Obviously.) All the books I will read are short and not literary. I learned that the hard way last time.

I am on Litsy as Chrisbookarama. I am posting most of my updates there. On Twitter, I am following the #readathon only. That is the only way I'm am able to deal with Twitter.

On my list is

  • The Blank Wall by Elisabeth Sanaxy Holding
  • Countdown City by Ben Winters
  • Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky
  • Some Lumberjanes
  • Whatever is short on my reader
Good luck readers! See you around the Readathonosphere. 

Hello, Friends!

At this point, I don't even know if I can call myself a blogger let alone a book blogger. But here I am blogging today.

I haven't read a book in over a month. Not even an audiobook. I just can't get into it. I want to but I feel like I don't have the brain space. The Readathon is coming up at the end of the month and I think I am going to join in. I'll be finished working by then so maybe it will jump start my reading.

The reading part of my brain

What have I been doing?

Cross stitching.

Listening to lots of podcasts. I just started S-Town. I haven't read anything about it. I don't want to know anything until I finish it. I'm halfway through. I'm not sure if it's real or not. It seems a little too neat to be real, you know? I have some issues either way: 1) if it's real it seems exploitative, or 2) if it's fiction it perpetuates stereotypes that may or may not be accurate. As someone from a economically depressed area too, when someone "from away" writes about our, let's call it, uniqueness, it puts my back up. So I have second-hand anxiety about this podcast. I'm still loving the storytelling though.

Watching Netflix. I'm caught up on Jane the Virgin. I was not happy about where certain things went. And now we're in the future, I guess? What is happening?
I'm on season 3 of Grace and Frankie. It is so good. I love those ladies and their new business.

What else? I got a Silhouette Cameo for my birthday. That's an electronic cutting machine. You can design graphics, print them, and then use the machine to cut them out of say sticker paper or vinyl. I've been printing out stickers for my planner. It's a neat machine.

Other than that I'm waiting for spring to finally get here. I need to get back into running.

So, that's my update. Not much reading. Sorry. I hope there is someone left reading my blog! Say hi in the comments if you're still there!

Two Quick Reviews: Time Travel in the Bardo

Hello again friends! It's been a while. I kinda forgot I had a blog. I figured it was time to review two audiobooks I listened to ages ago.

All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai. This one had an interesting premise, but in the end fell flat for me.

Tom Barren lives in the present that we should have had. Because of the discovery of a machine that produces infinite free energy, Tom's world is one free of worry. Every "futuristic" item has been invented.

Flying cars? Yep, they got them.

Since people have a lot of time on their hands, they have the ability to invent whatever they can dream up. Including time travel. Tom's dad decides that humans should travel back in time to witness the most important scientific event in history: the day the free energy machine was first turned on. If you think this is a terrible idea, then congrats, you are smarter than this genius. I can't believe no one pointed out what an awful, no good idea this is. So much could go wrong, and guess what? It does.

Tom messes up royally and is trapped in our present time, with our pollution and linear decent into the destruction of the whole planet. Things are bleak, but he is determined to turn things around get things back to the future...I mean present. Whatever.

First, Tom got on my nerves. He's so emo. He pretty much ruins the world because he is sad. Also, I can't believe the thing that made him sad is a thing that happened. So, thanks, Tom. I could have had a robot maid but now I have to scrub my own bathroom because you had a moment.

Me. Sad that I have no robot maid.
Second, the women, though the author tries to make them interesting, are still tropes: emotionless career woman, dream girl who owns a bookstore. They are all there so that Tom can have feelings about things.

Finally, there is a bunch of stuff that happens near the end that I found confusing and was not my jam. It's seems like it would be more impressive visually. Mastai is a screenwriter so that makes sense to me.

All Our Wrong Todays wasn't fun for me, but it could be fun for you.

The audio narration is by the author.

All Our Wrong Todays

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. There's a lot of hype around this one, and it deserves it. I wasn't going to read it because I was all, Lincoln? Is it going to be political? But no it wasn't. It was very weird but good. Though I think my weird tolerance is high after The Master and Margarita.

President Lincoln's eleven year old son, Willie, has died. He's just been laid to rest, but his soul is trapped here on earth. He's not alone. Many spirits are with him in the cemetery. All believe that they will someday return to the lives they were living before their deaths. Will Willie linger in the bardo with these people unwilling to let go of the past? Or move onto the next part of his journey?

The audio production of Lincoln in the Bardo was excellent. There is a cast of 166 characters. Granted most of those read small sections of text from historical documents (some an invention of the author), but there are some big names voicing the spirit characters: Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, Don Cheadle, Megan Mullally to name a few. It's quite a production.

Lincoln in the Bardo is about regrets, lost opportunities, and how sometimes life is unfair. It is somber but at times very funny. Life, and death apparently, are filled with the absurd.

Lots of freaky stuff happens in the cemetery
I don't think I can say anymore about Lincoln in the Bardo that hasn't been said already and by better reviewers. It is so good. You should read it, and if possible, listen to the audio.

Lincoln in the Bardo

My thanks to Penguin Random House Audio for the review copies via Volumes. All opinions are my own.

Quick Update

I'm still here!

I've been doing a lot of other things: knitting, cross stitching, working, chauffeuring the kid around, watching Jane the Virgin. Even reading. But no blogging.

I have listened to Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders. What an experience! I recommend the audiobook version. There are 166 narrators. It's very well done. I'll be back on the blog with a review of that one I promise.

I also listened to All Our Wrong Todays and did not feel the same enthusiasm. I had some issues with it- issues involving the female characters.

Right now, I'm reading What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours by Helen Oyeyemi. It's good, but takes some time to get into.

Not a very exciting update, but it's all I got. I hope you're all reading good stuff!

Welcome to My Nightmare: The Sleepwalker (audio)

Sleepwalking as a concept terrifies me. The thought of walking around unconscious to what is happening in the real world is right up there in irrational fears for me. That total loss of control of your body to your sleeping brain... ugh, no.

Sleepwalking: not this cute

In The Sleepwalker, my nightmare of losing that control is Annalee Ahlberg's reality. Over several decades, Annalee has gone walkabout while sleeping. She's found herself in unusual places after waking and either walks herself or is lead back to bed. One night she doesn't return to her bedroom.

Her daughters, 21 year old Lianna and 12 year old Paige, discover their mother missing while their father is away on a business trip. The police are called and after brief investigation everyone assumes Annalee walked herself into the river.

Though this seems like the most logical conclusion, Lianna isn't so sure. Lianna starts an investigation of her own, looking into the particulars of her mother's disorder, and her parents' marriage. She speaks to the people closest to her mother as the days turn into weeks with no sign of her mother's body. She finds herself drawn to detective Gavin Rikert, a man who knows all about this particular sleep disorder as he's a sufferer himself.

The trouble with Lianna's investigation is that she might find out too much.

The Sleepwalker was a real slow burner. At times I wanted it to pick up the pace. There are a number of red herrings (or slight of hand tricks since Lianna is a magician) and Annalee's disorder is not what it seems at first. There is a lot going on. I didn't know what to focus on.

As for Lianna, the narrator, I found her to be standoffish. I wasn't sure if it was the trauma of losing her mother or if that was just her personality.

The Sleepwalker has an interesting, and scary, premise. It's the kind of idea I don't want to think too much about. I don't sleepwalk, but I have had occasional bouts of hypnopompic hallucinations. They can be scary enough, though most of the time they're pretty cool and I'm now aware of what they are. I once woke with an amazingly large tree in my room, like Disney's Tree of Life!

I wasn't quite as enamored with The Sleepwalker as I was with The Night Strangers. Still, I wouldn't say avoid it.
About the Audio: Cady McClain is the main narrator: Lianna. She's always terrific. I didn't enjoy the brief interludes by an unknown narrator read by Grace Experience. Her voice took me out of the story. Maybe it's because I didn't know who she was supposed to be. 
My thanks to Penguin Random House Audio for the review copy. All opinions are my own.