Tag Archives: Michael Crummey

Reading the old year out…

31st December 2011

And I must say, I’m not at all sad to see the back end of 2011. It was a very tumultuous year, and I am very happy to be ringing in a new year this evening with a mini-readathon cooked up by two other bloggers (Becky and Tasha) and myself. There will be champagne, so in the infinite wisdom and singing voice of Bing Crosby, let’s start the new year right.

But. Before we get to that, I wanted to do a year end post. As of midnight on December 30, I have read 121 books. Of these, 46 were written by men and 75 written by women (wow!); 109 fiction and 12 nonfiction. This year I read 9 audiobooks, and considering I read none last year, that’s quite a jump. Also, just so you can see my habits, 42 of these books came from the publisher/author/publicist, but I bought 52 and checked out 26 from the library, a pretty decent statistic. Now down to brass tacks….

Least favorite books of the year: Let’s just get this one out of the way. I only really disliked two books this year, and if you’ve been around for a bit, you can probably guess the first one: The Magicians by Lev Grossman. The other I just finished this morning: Jesus, My Father, the CIA, and Me by Ian Morgan Cron. I’ll put up a review next week with details. Suffice it to say, memoirs are tricky.

Best New-to-Me Series: Well, obviously I love the Patricia Wentworth Miss Silver books, but seeing as they were written in the last century, I won’t call them new. If you’re looking for a vintage mystery, give these a go. Also consider joining me for Miss Silver Saturdays through 2012.

Best New Series: I just finished Discovery of Witches and am pretty much in love with it. I can’t wait for the next one. Many compare it to Twilight, but for me, it was much more reminiscent of the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. I loved it!

Funniest Book: Hands down, Domestic Violets by Matthew Norman. In fact, this is a book that I plan to re-read soon, I liked it that much. Definitely keep an eye out for debut author Matt Norman.

Best Dark Comedy: Funny Man by John Warner. I’m really surprised this book hasn’t gotten more attention, as I think it’s pretty genius in a lot of ways. I’m really eager to see what else Warner writes.

Book that Made Me Think Rainbow Rowell stole my life and wrote about it: Attachments. Runner up for funniest book of the year, it was just so perfectly me. Sadly, many other bloggers have said the same thing, so obviously I ain’t anything special. Distinctive? Pshaw.

Book That Seriously Creeped Me Out and Blew My Mind: The Magus by John Fowles. Review next week, and boy howdy, what a book. Thanks so much to Sean at Read Heavily for the gift.

Best Middle Grade Book: Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier. Absolute fun and super smart. Reminds me of books written when I was young.

Book that Made Me Cry: Thankfully there were only two of these this year (one sparked this post about crying in reading). The other is A Train in Winter by Caroline Moorehead. This is nonfiction and about the women of the French Resistance. It’s incredibly moving to see just how much the human spirit can endure.

Most Beautiful Book: The Paper Garden by Molly Peacock. This is physically just a beautiful, beautiful specimen of a book. The cover art, the inside art, the paper. It’s technically the biography of a woman artist, but it’s so much more than that.

Biggest Surprise: Ian Fleming’s Bond series. Yes, he can be a misogynistic, slightly-racist ass, but damn, these books are good. If you think you know Bond from the films, think again and join Lit Housewife’s Shaken Not Stirred challenge. You won’t be disappointed.

~and last but not least~

Best Book of 2011: Galore by Michael Crummey. I read this book in April, but it will not leave me. The story is timeless, the writing superb. If you haven’t read it, make sure you add it to your list for the new year. I compare it to East of Eden by Steinbeck and House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende. One of my favorite passages from the book is below:

~Watching Judah emerge from the whale’s guts, King-me felt the widow was birthing everything he despised in the country, laying it out before him like a taunt. Irish nor English, Jerseyman nor bushborn nor savage, not Roman or Episcopalian or apostate, Judah was the wilderness on two legs, mute and unknowable, a blankness that could drown a man.

So that’s my list. I wish you all the best in 2012 and hope to see you back here. Thank you all for reading, commenting, emailing, etc. I so enjoy your company.

And on that note, what was your favorite book this year?

#fridayreads take me away

22nd April 2011

#fridayreads take me away is a weekly meme to celebrate the start of the weekend and the glorious day of reading whatever the heck you want. Want to know more? Read the original post where I explain why you should join in with what you read on the weekend. Want to write your own post? *Steal* my button. Have your own #fridayreads take me away post? Link up below! Happy reading.

You know, to me, the ultimate read for a Friday accomplishes two goals: a. it takes me away (thus, the meme title) and b. it requires little in the way of thought. Not that I don’t love thinking. I do. [See yesterday’s review of Galore.] However, Friday afternoon and evening I selfishly claim as “me” time. Last Friday I stuck to my guns and took my copy of Real Simple and had my pedicure. This week is Good Friday, so I will be at church with the fam in the afternoon. Plus, work is still progressing on the bookshelves, but YOU, I hope, will be reading.

So what do I recommend you read this week?

To be perfectly honest, I have an ulterior motive. I really really want you to read Leviathan. I read this and reviewed it here way back in October.

Westerfeld creates an alternative history to World War I, full of steam-powered machines and biologically-altered creatures, who assist in war. It’s steampunk – set in the Victorian era, it’s fantasy at its most believable.

Leviathan is about a young man destined for great things and a young woman prohibited from dreaming of great things because of her gender. It is also about how each goes about forging his or her own way, regardless of society. Fantastic fun.

And I really want you to read it because I plan on reading….

I am almost embarrassed to tell you how long I have been intending to read this sequel. Leviathan is a real cliffhanger, but I guess since I had to wait (all of two weeks) for Behemoth to come out, my excitement waned. However, this is a perfect book for a Friday, and I am really anxious to start it and re-enter the lives of Deryn and Alek. Plus, if you read the first, I can tell you what I think about the second, and it will be a whole thing. Ya know? So get cracking.

What are you up to this beautiful day, and what are you reading for Friday Reads? I’d love to hear all about it and check out your blog!

jenn aka the picky girl

Galore by Michael Crummey

21st April 2011

Thought I’d pop by with a few lines from my current read: Galore by Michael Crummey. I’ll be joining in a book club discussion over with Jen at Devourer of Books this Tuesday, April 26. But until then…

As soon as I read the premise of this book, I immediately thought of one of my favorite short stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, “The Very Old Man with Enormous Wings.” You can read the full text here. It’s an absolutely beautiful story about a man who turns up in a small fishing village after a storm, ill and battered. The village doesn’t know whether to kill him or laud him, so he ends up locked away, dirty and alone. Please go read it. Then come back here and tell me what you think.

So what is Galore about? It’s about a Newfoundland fishing village, Paradise Deep. A whale washes up on its shores one day, and the fishermen kill it, and as they gut it, a man slips from the belly, whiter than white and stark naked but breathing. They name him Judah, after a mixup as to whether it’s Judas or Jonah who ends up in the belly of the whale in the Bible. Some think he’s an evil omen while others believe he’s sent from above.

Galore follows Judah, his descendants, and the populace of Paradise Deep and nearby Gut over the next two generations, as religions take hold and die off and power passes from one man to the next. Galore is, quite literally, a showcase of the cycle of a life and many lives (who I’d love to just sit and talk about, so come back to discuss if you read it), always the same yet always changing.

The more I read, the more this novel reminded me of two of my all-time favorites, The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende and East of Eden by John Steinbeck. Similarly to Crummey’s storytelling, Allende and Steinbeck relay a family’s saga, its joy and despair, success and failure all while dancing lightly between the realm of the real and the imaginary. Galore, too, has elements of magical realism, and in its wake, Crummey’s artfulness is still working on me.

–He watched her awhile then, that little cauldron of doggedness and impotent distress, reflecting his own heartache back to him. Shadows and light and wishful thinking was all there was to the world, that much he could attest.

–Watching Judah emerge from the whale’s guts, King-me felt the widow was birthing everything he despised in the country, laying it out before him like a taunt. Irish nor English, Jerseyman nor bushborn nor savage, not Roman or Episcopalian or apostate, Judah was the wilderness on two legs, mute and unknowable, a blankness that could drown a man.

–He entered and left the stories by side doors and windows and found it impossible to distinguish one book from another. [This is so close to a favorite line in East of Eden. Beautiful.]

Read this one: immediately / asap* / when you get a chance / if you’re bored

*Simply because this book will not be for everyone. It is a family saga, and as such, is a slow read. It is beautifully written, but it is certainly not action packed. However, I think it is well worth the time and effort.