Monday, July 18, 2016

Book Brief: Drop What You're Doing and Read SHELTER!


Shelter
by Jung Yun
Picador, March 2016
336 pages
source: borrowed from the library

Summary (from Goodreads):
Kyung Cho is a young father burdened by a house he can’t afford. For years, he and his wife, Gillian, have lived beyond their means. Now their debts and bad decisions are catching up with them, and Kyung is anxious for his family’s future.

A few miles away, his parents, Jin and Mae, live in the town’s most exclusive neighborhood, surrounded by the material comforts that Kyung desires for his wife and son. Growing up, they gave him every possible advantage—private tutors, expensive hobbies—but they never showed him kindness. Kyung can hardly bear to see them now, much less ask for their help. Yet when an act of violence leaves Jin and Mae unable to live on their own, the dynamic suddenly changes, and he’s compelled to take them in. For the first time in years, the Chos find themselves living under the same roof. Tensions quickly mount as Kyung’s proximity to his parents forces old feelings of guilt and anger to the surface, along with a terrible and persistent question: how can he ever be a good husband, father, and son when he never knew affection as a child?

As Shelter  veers swiftly toward its startling conclusion, Jung Yun leads us through dark and violent territory, where, unexpectedly, the Chos discover hope. Shelter is a masterfully crafted debut novel that asks what it means to provide for one's family and, in answer, delivers a story as riveting as it is profound.

Quick thoughts:

Definitely on the dark side! Domestic abuse, a violent crime, family dysfunction, and culture clash... this book was a real page-turner that surprised me several times. I especially loved the ending. Recently long-listed for the 2016 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, I hope it wins.

My rating:

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Sunday Salon: July 17, 2016


Sunday morning. The month is flying, but the week has been long. Our air conditioning was finally repaired on Tuesday (after FIVE service calls), so my mood is much improved. Our daughters managed the move into their new apartment in Manhattan with only one or two frantic texts to Mom. This is a milestone... the first time we have not been present for a move. I guess that means they've got the hang of this 'adulting' thing!

We're leaving for vacation on Tuesday, so I'll be taking a blogging break for the rest of the month. I've wrapped things up here with a series of mini-reviews for my recent reads. They'll never get done if I wait until next month, plus it will be nice to come back with a clean slate.

Finished this week//


Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo
This started off as a read/listen combination, but I ended up just listening. I won't have time for a review before we leave, so I'll just share what I wrote on Litsy and goodreads:
Nobody tells a story like Richard Russo. Set in rural upstate NY in the 1980s, this IS small-town blue-collar life, with all the rough edges and political incorrectness. I loved every page of this book and will read the sequel, Everybody's Fool  soon. The audiobook, narrated by Ron McLarty, is my favorite so far this year.
I'll have to make a decision on the next audio before we leave. Should I go straight to Everybody's Fool or take a brief detour to Belgravia by Julian Fellowes?




Shelter by Jung Yun
Simply amazing! I stayed up way too late Friday night to finish this book. I'm posting a book brief tomorrow, but go ahead and get on your library hold list right now.


Current listening//


by Alexandra Fuller, narrated by Lisette Lecat
This memoir, subtitled An African childhood, is our August book club selection. It tells Fuller's story of growing up in rural white Rhodesia as it is becoming Zimbabwe. It's unlike anything I've read and the narration is  wonderful.


Up next//




 This book is ready to be picked up at the library, but I don't think I'll start it before we leave. Who want to take a library hardcover on vacation?

My kindle is loaded , so there are plenty of other options. The problem will be choosing which one to read first.


On the blog//
Book Brief: The Children Act  by Ian McEwan
Book Brief: Summer House with Swimming Pool  by Herman Koch
Six in Six: 2016 Edition
Tuesday Intro: Shelter  by Jung Yun


In the kitchen//



Have you tried Cauliflower Fried Rice yet? I finally made some this week and it was delicious... not exactly rice, but you'd never know it was cauliflower either. My cousin sent me a recipe (not sure of the source), but here is one from skinnytaste that looks similar. Wegmans even sells it already 'riced' and ready to prepare at the fresh veggie bar.


The week ahead//

Vacation starts Tuesday! We're flying to Santa Fe, then driving up to the Denver area for a family wedding, and on to the mountains for a little relaxation. We'll fly back to NYC to spend some time with our daughters and check out the new apartment... and eventually take the train home. It's a lot of ground to cover, but that's how we roll.

I'll see you back here next month... and will be around on twitter, instagram, and litsy in the meantime.





This post will link to It's Monday, What Are You Reading?  hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Book Brief: The Children Act by Ian McEwan



The Children Act
by Ian McEwan
Vintage Digital, 2014
224 pages
source: ebook borrowed from the library

Summary (from goodreads):
Fiona Maye is a leading High Court judge who presides over cases in the family division. She is renowned for her fierce intelligence, exactitude, and sensitivity. But her professional success belies private sorrow and domestic strife. There is the lingering regret of her childlessness, and now her marriage of thirty years is in crisis.
       At the same time, she is called on to try an urgent case: Adam, a beautiful seventeen-year-old boy, is refusing for religious reasons the medical treatment that could save his life, and his devout parents echo his wishes. Time is running out. Should the secular court overrule sincerely expressed faith? In the course of reaching a decision, Fiona visits Adam in the hospital—an encounter that stirs long-buried feelings in her and powerful new emotions in the boy. Her judgment has momentous consequences for them both.

Three-sentence review:

Beautifully written, as I've come to expect from McEwan. A controversial court case and the 59-year-old female judge's crumbling marriage are the driving forces behind this relatively quiet, but thought-provoking novel. This will be on my mind for some time...

My rating:

I wavered between 4 and 5 stars, but decided to go with five because the novel is so discussion-worthy... and it's McEwan.


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Book Brief: Summer House with Swimming Pool


Summer House with Swimming Pool
by Herman Koch
Hogarth, 2014
387 pages
source: ebook borrowed from library

Summary (from Goodreads):
When a medical procedure goes horribly wrong and famous actor Ralph Meier winds up dead, Dr. Marc Schlosser needs to come up with some answers. After all, reputation is everything in this business. Personally, he's not exactly upset that Ralph is gone, but as a high profile doctor to the stars, Marc can't hide from the truth forever.

It all started the previous summer. Marc, his wife, and their two beautiful teenage daughters agreed to spend a week at the Meiers' extravagant summer home on the Mediterranean. Joined by Ralph and his striking wife Judith, her mother, and film director Stanley Forbes and his much younger girlfriend, the large group settles in for days of sunshine, wine tasting, and trips to the beach. But when a violent incident disrupts the idyll, darker motivations are revealed, and suddenly no one can be trusted. As the ultimate holiday soon turns into a nightmare, the circumstances surrounding Ralph's later death begin to reveal the disturbing reality behind that summer's tragedy.

My thoughts:

So dark and full of tension, Herman Koch knows how to make his readers squirm! This novel features a creepy, unreliable narrator, many unlikable characters with questionable moral values, and a gripping, twisted story. I was pulled in right away and read the book in two sittings.

I'm looking forward to his new book, Dear Mr. M: A Novel coming in September.

My rating:

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Six in Six: 2016 Edition

It's time for Six in Six again! Jo at The Book Jotter  created this meme several years ago. The purpose is to help to summarize six months of reading by sorting books into six categories. Choose from the ones Jo suggests or come up with your own... and it's okay to use the same book in multiple categories.

Six new-to-me authors:
1. Thrity Umrigar - The Story Hour
2. Garth Risk Hallberg - City on Fire
3. Paolo Giordano - Like Family
4. Graham Swift - Mothering Sunday
5. Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney - The Nest
6.  Helen Ellis - American Housewife: Stories

Six  tried-and-true  authors:
1. Henry James - What Maisie Knew
2. Anna Quindlen - Miller's Valley
3. Elena Ferrante - The Days of Abandonment
4. Julie Mulhern - Clouds in My Coffee
5. Ann Leary - The Children
6. Herman Koch - Summer House with Swimming Pool

Six from the nonfiction shelf:
1. The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan
2. Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer
3. Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Irin Carmon
4.When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
5. Kings of Queens: Life Beyond Baseball with '86 Mets by Erik Sherman
6. West With the Night by Beryl Markham

Six read/listen combinations:
1. City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg
2. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
3. Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
4. Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo
5. Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
6. What Maisie Knew by Henry James

Six five-star ratings:
1. Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift
2. Miller's Valley by Anna Quindlen
3. When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
4. The Children Act by Ian McEwan
5. Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo (audio)
6. Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson (audio)

Six books I plan to read before 2016 ends:
1. Delta Wedding by Eudora Welty
2. Everybody's Fool by Richard Russo
3. Amsterdam by Ian McEwan
4. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
5. They May Not Mean To, But They Do by Cathleen Schine
6. something by Anthony Trollope... so many choices!

Previous Six in Six posts:
Six in Six: 2015 Edition
Six in Six: 2013 Edition
Six in Six: 2012 Edition

Let me know if you decide to play along!



Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tuesday Intro: Shelter by Jung Yun

The boy is standing in the doorway again. He's smiling, which hardly seems right. A smile means he's not sick. He didn't have a bad dream. He didn't wet the bed. None of the things he usually says when he enters the room uninvited. Kyung nudges his wife, who turns over with a grunt, face-first into her pillow. He sighs and sits up, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
"What's wrong?" he asks. "What's the matter?"
Ethan, still smiling, takes a step forward, holding a remote control in his outstretched palm.  "Battery," he says, pronouncing the word "buttery."
Shelter
by Jung Yun

You can tell this will be a family story from the first few paragraphs, but the primary focus may not be on this family unit. The relationship between Kyung and his parents, who live nearby, will take center stage, at least according to the blurb. The first twenty pages are quite dramatic and there's no question as to whether or not I'll continue... I'm already hooked!

Here is the summary from Goodreads:
Kyung Cho is a young father burdened by a house he can’t afford. For years, he and his wife, Gillian, have lived beyond their means. Now their debts and bad decisions are catching up with them, and Kyung is anxious for his family’s future. 
A few miles away, his parents, Jin and Mae, live in the town’s most exclusive neighborhood, surrounded by the material comforts that Kyung desires for his wife and son. Growing up, they gave him every possible advantage—private tutors, expensive hobbies—but they never showed him kindness. Kyung can hardly bear to see them now, much less ask for their help. Yet when an act of violence leaves Jin and Mae unable to live on their own, the dynamic suddenly changes, and he’s compelled to take them in. For the first time in years, the Chos find themselves living under the same roof. Tensions quickly mount as Kyung’s proximity to his parents forces old feelings of guilt and anger to the surface, along with a terrible and persistent question: how can he ever be a good husband, father, and son when he never knew affection as a child? 
As Shelter veers swiftly toward its startling conclusion, Jung Yun leads us through dark and violent territory, where, unexpectedly, the Chos discover hope. Shelter is a masterfully crafted debut novel that asks what it means to provide for one's family and, in answer, delivers a story as riveting as it is profound. 
What do you think? Would you continue reading?


Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Weekly Update: July 10, 2016


Good morning, friends. Sorry about my recent disappearance, it was totally unintentional... life just got in the way. Our 4th of July weekend was amazing, but exhausting. We hosted gatherings/dinners on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, entertaining 20 - 30 people each day... mostly family, and a few friends. Thankfully everyone helped with the food. Everything was perfect, even the weather, but by Tuesday morning I was ready to collapse!

We've also been without air conditioning. After FOUR service calls in ten days, it is still not working. A new fan motor was finally ordered and will (fingers crossed!) be installed on Monday. I was a hot, cranky mess much of the week. Thankfully, we have a reprieve today. It's cool and rainy... what a relief! Things may get ugly again if that new motor doesn't solve our problem. Heat and humidity are forecast to return with a vengeance this week.

As for the books...

Finished this week//


The Children Act by Ian McEwan
What a wonderful, thought-provoking novel! McEwan never disappoints. I'll post a book brief this week, and already have plans to read Amsterdam soon.


Current reading//


Nobody's Fool by Richard Russo
Yes, I'm still listening to this one. Despite the slow progress (the audio is over 24 hours long), I am loving every minute and in no hurry to reach the end. But with under three hours to go, that will happen within the next day or so.


Up next//


Shelter by Jung Yun
This book has gotten rave reviews from several trusted bloggers. My library hold came in on Friday, and I plan to get started this afternoon.


The week ahead//

Planning/packing for vacation (Santa Fe, then on to a wedding in CO) is top priority, but we're also having a couple of windows replaced... and, of course, the continuing saga of the air conditioning. I'm hoping that means there will be plenty of time to read!

Daughter #1 and Twin A move into their new apartment in Manhattan this week. Daughter #1 has hired movers for the 50-block trek uptown. Twin A is clearing out her room here at home. She'll have plenty of time to get settled before beginning her new job next month... exciting times! Unfortunately, I have to wait until after the wedding to see their new place.

How was your week? What have you been reading?


This post will link to It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

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