South Pole Station by #BookBeginnings #Friday56

Beginning:

Do you ever have pain in your chest unrelated to indigestion?

Are you often sad?

Do you have digestion problems due to stress?

Do you have problems with authority?

How many alcoholic drinks do you consume a week? A day?

Would you rather be a florist or a truck driver?

True or false: I like to read about science.

True or false: Sometimes I just feel like killing myself.

(It’s a bit long I know, but I think that this quotation works far better if I include the last line)

 

56:

Cooper climbed back up the sloping granite outcropping and looked down at her feet, at the bones of the continent. It seemed as if everything around her – the spiny arms of the pines bent over the water, the crackle of the fire she hadn’t let die in the night, even the persimmon clouds of dawn – had receded completely. The silence was crystalline.

 

 

Fridays are for Book Beginnings on Rose City Reader, Friday 56 on Freda’s Voice

 

 

 

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The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep

I usually prefer to describe the book in my own words but this one is tricky. It is a busy, complex world with societies that have been divided because of their beliefs. But essentially there is a Big Bad and it has been in exile for a thousand years, and guess what, those thousand years are now ending.

But before we get to all of that there is so much of this wonderful world-building to explore. And I feel like you really need to enjoy discovering and wandering through all the author’s worldbuilding when it comes to this book. It does take a while to build up, it does take a while for things to happen and at 848 pages, this is quite an investment. Don’t get discouraged though, because once the pieces begin to fall into place it is glorious.

I’m trying not to spoil anything for anyone here so bullet points to the rescue. Here’s what I loved about this book:

  • women-centred
  • there are dragons and dragon-riders!
  • (but also societies that fear and hate dragons)
  • magic
  • some politicking and power play
  • it’s a standalone, so no need to be desperately waiting for the sequel

Here’s some things that I didn’t like so much:

  • The Big Bad felt a bit like evil for evil’s sake. There didn’t seem to be much of a concrete explanation for what it’s doing
  • It is very long and takes a while to get going. Not everyone has the kind of patience required for a book like this. Perhaps if this wasn’t a library ebook maybe I wouldn’t have read it so fast – the Libby app is especially good at alerting one to the fact that “xx people are waiting” for this book. Which meant that when my time with the book was up, I’d have to put it on hold and wait again. So of course I’m going to finish reading it before that nonsense happens!

Library Loot (July 10 to 16)

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

 

Happy Library Loot day everyone!

 

I feel like I haven’t read fiction by Japanese writers for a while. So here is one.

Where Europe Begins – Yoko Tadawa

Where Europe Begins presents a collection of startling new stories by Japanese writer Yoko Tawada. Moving through landscapes of fairy tales, family history, strange words and letters, dreams, and every-day reality, Tawada’s work blurs divisions between fact and fiction, prose and poetry. Often set in physical spaces as disparate as Japan, Siberia, Russia, and Germany, these tales describe a fragmented world where even a city or the human body can become a sort of text. Suddenly, the reader becomes as much a foreigner as the author and the figures that fill this book: the ghost of a burned woman, a woman traveling on the Trans-Siberian railroad, a mechanical doll, a tongue, a monk who leaps into his own reflection. Tawada playfully makes the experience of estrangement — of a being in-between — both sensual and bewildering, and as a result practically invents a new way of seeing things while telling a fine story.

I found this book in a climate fiction list and thought it sounded a bit different.

South Pole Station – Ashley Shelby

Do you have digestion problems due to stress? Do you have problems with authority? How many alcoholic drinks do you consume a week? Would you rather be a florist or a truck driver?

These are some of the questions that determine if you have what it takes to survive at South Pole Station, a place with an average temperature of -54°F and no sunlight for six months a year. Cooper Gosling has just answered five hundred of them. Her results indicate she is sufficiently resilient for Polar life.

Cooper’s not sure if this is an achievement, but she knows she has nothing to lose. Unmoored by a recent family tragedy, she’s adrift at thirty and—despite her early promise as a painter—on the verge of sinking her career. So she accepts her place in the National Science Foundation’s Artists & Writers Program and flees to Antarctica—where she encounters a group of misfits motivated by desires as ambiguous as her own. There’s Pearl, the Machiavellian cook with the Pollyanna attitude; Sal, an enigmatic astrophysicist whose experiment might change the world; and Tucker, the only uncloseted man on the continent, who, as station manager, casts a weary eye on all.

The only thing the Polies have in common is the conviction that they don’t belong anywhere else. Then a fringe scientist arrives, claiming climate change is a hoax. His presence will rattle this already imbalanced community, bringing Cooper and the Polies to the center of a global controversy and threatening the ancient ice chip they call home.

A winning comedy of errors set in the world’s harshest place, Ashley Shelby’s South Pole Station is a wry and witty debut novel about the courage it takes to band together, even as everything around you falls apart.

 

 

After reading Ruth Reichl’s Save Me the Plums, I’ve been wanting to read DFW’s essay on lobsters which she discusses in her book.

Consider the Lobster and other essays – David Foster Wallace (audiobook)

Do lobsters feel pain? Did Franz Kafka have a funny bone? What is John Updike’s deal, anyway? And what happens when adult video starlets meet their fans in person? David Foster Wallace answers these questions and more in essays that are also enthralling narrative adventures. Whether covering the three-ring circus of a vicious presidential race, plunging into the wars between dictionary writers, or confronting the World’s Largest Lobster Cooker at the annual Maine Lobster Festival, Wallace projects a quality of thought that is uniquely his and a voice as powerful and distinct as any in American letters.

Contains: “Big Red Son,” “Certainly the End of Something or Other, One Would Sort of Have to Think,” “Some Remarks on Kafka’s Funniness from Which Probably Not Enough Has Been Removed,” “Authority and American Usage,” “The View from Mrs. Thompson’s,” “How Tracy Austin Broke My Heart,” “Up, Simba,” “Consider the Lobster,” “Joseph Frank’s Dostoevsky” and “Host.”

 

The kids’ loot:

 

(Well usually here I’ll put up a photo of the kids’ library haul but we haven’t been to the library yet this week and are supposed to go this afternoon. So I’ll update it later with a photo!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What did you get from your library this week?

 

This post contains affiliate links from Book Depository.  If you buy via these links it means I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). 

It’s Monday

 

 

Happy Monday!

I’m sending the kids off to a Rocks and Minerals camp this week. Hope they learn all kinds of fun things!

Meanwhile here are some things we did last week:

Ate at a French bistro in Yountville – I had tomato soup and as my main course, rabbit

 

Bought pastries from Bouchon Bakery (it’s part of the Thomas Keller group). Lovely lemon meringue tart, fruit tart, chocolate eclair and what’s called “Oh Ohs” that wrapped chocolate cake at the back.

Made bread with the tangzhong method.

 

Food Truck Friday complete with kids play area (mini golf, table tennis etc). Tried arepas for the first time.

 

Lots of park and playground days as that’s what summer is all about!

 

Currently…

 

Reading:

The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon

(I’ll probably be done with this by the time this post is up tomorrow though!)

 

 

Watching:

Stranger Things Season 3

Listening:

Consider the Lobster and other essays by David Foster Wallace

 

Latest crochet project:

Eating:

Homemade raisin scone for breakfast

Drinking:

Yorkshire Gold with milk

Cooking:

I’m about to make some pizza rolls for the kids for their lunches this week – just homemade pizza dough, some ham and cheese and tomato paste.

Last week:

I read:

A Fire Story – Brian Fies
Spider-Gwen Vol 1: Greater Power – Jason LaTour, Robbi Rodriguez
Spider-Gwen Vol 2: Weapon of Choice – Jason LaTour, Robbi Rodriguez
Black Widow Vol 1: SHIELD’s Most Wanted – Mark Waid, Chris Samnee
Record of a Spaceborn Few – Becky Chambers
Beijing comrades – Bei Tong

I posted:

#WeekendCooking Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie

Library Loot (July 3 to 10)

Sadie by Courtney Summers

 

badge
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

 

Library Loot (July 3 to 10)

badge-4Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Sharlene from Real Life Reading that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.

 

 

Happy first Wednesday of July! And to those in the US, happy Independence Day tomorrow!

 

 

We spotted Pete the Cate posing for photos outside the library!

The boys reading while I browsed the adult fiction shelves.

Claire has the link-up this week.

Here’s what I got from my library:

I think I came across this via the Dublin Literary Award longlist – the cover art stood out!

The Invisible Life of Eurydice Gusmao – Martha Batalha, translated from the Portuguese by Eric M B Becker

Euridice is young, beautiful and ambitious, but when her rebellious sister Guida elopes, she sets her own aspirations aside and vows to settle down as a model wife and daughter. And yet as her husband’s professional success grows, so does Euridice’s feeling of restlessness. She embarks on a series of secret projects – from creating recipe books to becoming the most sought-after seamstress in town – but each is doomed to failure. Her tradition-loving husband is not interested in an independent wife. And then one day Guida appears at the door with her young son and a terrible story of hardship and abandonment. The Invisible Life of Euridice Gusmao is a wildly inventive, wickedly funny and keenly observed tale of two sisters who, surrounded by a cast of unforgettable characters, assert their independence and courageously carve a path of their own in 1940s Rio de Janeiro. A deeply human and truly unforgettable novel from one of the most exciting new voices in world literature.

Black Widow Vol 1: SHIELD’s Most Wanted – Mark Waid, Chris Samnee
They wowed you with Daredevil, now the Eisner Award-winning team of Mark Waid and Chris Samnee take Black Widow to new heights -by forcing her to go on the lam!
Natasha has a lifetime of secrets, and when some of the darkest ones are made public, nobody is safe. As S.H.I.E.L.D. turns on its once greatest asset, she seeks out her own answers in a knockdown drag-out tale of action and espionage! But will the Widow’s hunt for the Weeping Lion send her back to the one place she never wanted to go? And, when a S.H.I.E.L.D. funeral makes the assembled top brass an attractive target, it’s lucky for them that the Black Widow is still on their side, even if they aren’t on hers.

 

Isn’t that just a gorgeous cover?

Descendant of the Crane – Joan He

Princess Hesina of Yan has always been eager to shirk the responsibilities of the crown, but when her beloved father is murdered, she’s thrust into power, suddenly the queen of an unstable kingdom. Determined to find her father’s killer, Hesina does something desperate: she engages the aid of a soothsayer—a treasonous act, punishable by death… because in Yan, magic was outlawed centuries ago.

Using the information illicitly provided by the sooth, and uncertain if she can trust even her family, Hesina turns to Akira—a brilliant investigator who’s also a convicted criminal with secrets of his own. With the future of her kingdom at stake, can Hesina find justice for her father? Or will the cost be too high?

In this shimmering Chinese-inspired fantasy, debut author Joan He introduces a determined and vulnerable young heroine struggling to do right in a world brimming with deception.

 

The kids’ loot:

 

(The 6yo wanted to make sure his new flip-flops were in the photo. He wants you to know that there are sharks on them).

 

What did you get from your library this week?

 

This post contains affiliate links from Book Depository.  If you buy via these links it means I receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you). 

Sadie by Courtney Summers

This was a case of loving the cover art and not knowing much about the book – although of course it was a high likelihood of the story being about a young girl named Sadie.

And it turns out to be a book in a slightly less than usual format – a podcast. Now I’m not much of a podcast listener so I’m not entirely familiar with them but a friend did rave about the Serial podcast and explain a bit about it (but I still haven’t heard it) but the book’s synopsis does actually describe the podcast as “Serial-like” so at least I could pretend to know what it’s referencing.

Anyway the moment I got into the book, I realized I went about this the wrong way and should have tried out the audiobook instead. I don’t tend to listen to fiction audiobooks but this story seems like it was meant for that format.

Sadie is 19, and she goes missing after her younger sister, Mattie, is found dead. The police never found out who killed her but Sadie thinks she knows and is out to find him. She too was abused by this man.

And perhaps this may sound like more than one other story about girls gone missing but the author’s clever device is putting half of the narrative in the form of the podcast. One where West McCray devotes his show to finding Sadie. He talks to those who know her, trace her steps and while the reader already knows plenty via Sadie’s narrative, the podcast reveals more about Sadie’s family than what we see through her young, angry perspective. So what I thought at first as gimmicky turned out to be rather clever.

This book is a dark one. Not just because of the death of a young girl and the unknown whereabouts of another, but also because of the poverty, abuse, addiction that surrounds the lives of so many.

A quick read, Sadie is suspenseful and moving. This is the first book from Summers that I’ve read but now I’d love to read more.

It’s Monday and it’s July!

 

 

Happy July everyone! I know it’s officially been summer for a while already but it only feels properly summer when July begins.

Also, it’s my birthday month and I’m hitting a big one this year!

Anyway, over the weekend, we ate at one of my favourite places in Mountain View, Doppio Zero. Love their pastas, especially the Bottarga, and pizzas which are more Italian than American (thin crust).

The kids had fun at their space camp.

 

 

Currently…

 

Reading:

 

 

 

Watching:

Stranger Things season two. Definitely a binge-watch!

Listening:

No audiobooks at the moment

 

Eating:

Last night, some homemade gula melaka coconut ice-cream

Drinking:

Water

Cooking:

It’s a short week and I don’t have to prep lunches for camp this week so I’m figuring I’ll make up a big pot of bolognese and we can happily eat that.

Last week:

I read:

The Proposal – Jasmine Guillory
The Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey
The Aftermath  – Rhidian Brook

I posted:

 

Eating at Universal Studios Hollywood

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Library Loot (June 26 to July 2)

 

 

badge
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date