Sunday, September 4, 2011
This week's thrilling question: What are you most looking forward to this fall/autumn season – A particular book release? Halloween? The leaves changing color? Cooler temperatures? A vacation? (If your next season is other than fall/autumn, tell us about it and what you are most looking forward to in your part of the world!)”
Answer: I guess I am looking forward to the holidays and all the tradition that goes along with it. There's definitely nothing like a wonderful roasted turkey on Thanksgiving with all the fixings! And every Christmas my snowman collection makes its appearance. What about you?
I just completed my review of Life Among the Savages which was a most amusing book. You can read it here!
The Back Story ~ I get all goose bumps and wax nostalgic for fun family fare like Please Don’t East the Daisies, Yours Mine and Ours, With Six You Get Egg Roll and the original Cheaper by the Dozen. Life Among the Savages which I found at my usual book sale haunt, the Mission Valley Library for only $1, is right up that alley.
Book Description~ Life Among the Savages by Shirley Jackson
Our house is old, noisy and full. When we moved into it we had two children and about five thousand books; when we finally overflow and move out again we will have perhaps twenty children and easily half a million books . . .
So starts Life Among the Savages published in 1953 by Shirley Jackson. I’m sure she would tell you that it takes a good sense of humor to make it through life in the ‘burbs with a husband, four kids, a rambling house, assorted cats and numerous misadventures. A few ciggies and a martini wouldn’t hurt either; it’s the 50s after all.
Life is good; indeed it’s wonderful at the Jackson/Hyman household. Creativity is unleashed in leaps and bounds. It’s like taking a flying leap off Niagara Falls or river rafting down the Colorado River; you just can’t keep a good kid down. Witness the story of “Charles” or my personal favorite the second Mrs. Ellenoy and her seven daughters all named Martha. The bat that got into the house is another gasp out loud moment as is Ms. Jackson’s account on being in the hospital for the birth of her fourth child. Only Ms. Jackson could quote Shakespeare in the delivery room or chart her progress by the newspaper her husband is reading. As Kate Gosselin would say, It’s a crazy life but it’s our life!
My Take ~ A word of caution: Sections of this may book may cause uncontrollable and/or hysterical laughter. Even I couldn’t tell at times if I was laughing or crying. So be aware of your surroundings or someone may ask…Are you all right dear?
Yes I loved this book; I unabashedly loved it! Shirley Jackson is better known for her chilling tales of the macabre (The Lottery, Haunting of Hill House) but on this outing she takes us on a tour of domestic chaos not unlike an E-ticket ride at Bizarro Disneyland.
The Author ~ Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson was born in San Francisco in 1916 and spent her childhood on the west coast. While still in high school, her family made their way east where eventually Ms. Jackson attended the University of Rochester and graduated from Syracuse University in 1940. That same year she married fellow student and eventual literary critic Stanley Edgar Hyman.
In between raising her four children Ms. Jackson gained popularity as a writer of novels and articles in various popular magazines. She is best known for The Lottery (1948) which suggests a secret, sinister underside to bucolic small-town America not unlike North Bennington, Vermont where she lived.
The Shirley Jackson Awards were established in 2007. They are in recognition of her legacy in writing, and are awarded for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic.
Shirley Jackson on Writing ~ It’s great fun and I love it. For one thing, it’s the only way I can get to sit down … It’s so deeply satisfying—like having a winning hand at poker.
Sunday, August 28, 2011
This week's burning question: Do you have any pets?
Answer: Yes! I have this blog's namesake, the gato otherwise known as Kitty. He helps me select a new book to read each week. Kitty and I also share our home with our dog, Sadie.
The lovely Sadie
I recently completed a review of And Then There Were None by the master of mystery, Dame Agatha Christie. To read it, just click here!
The Gato, Sadie and I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!
The Gato, Sadie and I hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Book Description: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Ten visitors to a remote island off the Devon coast are about to face their worst nightmares. They each have something fuzzy in their past. Some try to forget while others try justify the event in their minds. Upon reaching their destination they discover that their host/hostess is not on the island. As dinner winds up on their first evening, a clear and mysterious voice seems to come out of nowhere and addresses each guest in turn with shocking news of their past crimes. Justice has come calling and the first death occurs that evening as they struggle to come to grips with what is happening.
Eventually, the group comes to the realization that the murderer is one of them and this is where the story get very tense with each person suspecting the other. One by one they meet the fate that was planned for each of them until...there were none.
How we find out who the murderer is may be a bit fanciful but then again he did declare he was a romantic. I said he, but could it have been a she?
My Take: Imagine you get an invitation to Kim Kardashian's wedding except the invitation is not from the bride but a dear long lost friend of yours who invites you to come as her guest. Never mind that it's been forever that you've seen this friend and actually you're just a bit hazy as to how you met or know her - it's Kim K's wedding and you are so there!
Ten people also say yes to similar invitations and find themselves lured to a private island where one by one, like a ticking time bomb, they fall prey to murder. Rretribution is being meted out and planned to unfold according to an old nursery rhyme. Frankly, how anyone could call this a nursery rhyme is beyond me. You can read it here.
This book has held up since it was first published in 1939. I first read it as a young teen in the 60s and it creeped me out. Guess what, it is still creepy and it is still a spectacular read. If you haven't read this book I highly recommend it. You'll discover what great mystery writing is all about.
Book Quotes: It's mad! - absolutely mad - we're all mad ..... I've no doubt in my mind that we've been invited here by a madman - probably a dangerous homicidal lunatic ..... Ten people dead on an island and not a living soul on it. It doesn't make sense.
Author: Agatha Christie
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Agatha Christie is the best selling author of all time with William Shakespeare the best selling author of any type.
Agatha Christie describes her childhood as being a happy one but during a particular period in her adult life things turned out to be as mysterious and full of drama as her books.
During the First World War, Christie worked as a hospital nurse a job and later at a hospital pharmacy which would become critical to her writing as most of the murders that occur in her books feature poison as the cause of death.
On Christmas Eve 1914, Agatha married Archibald Christie and eventually had one child, a daughter. In 1926 after an argument with her husband in which he revealed he had a mistress, he left their home. Later that same evening Agatha also left their home leaving behind a note for her secretary. Despite a massive manhunt she wasn't found for 11 days. In 1930 Christie married archaeologist Max Mallowen and by all accounts their marriaged was a happy one until Christie's death in 1976.
A very proper young English lady. Doesn't she look great?
Advice on Writing: The best time to plan a book is while you're doing the dishes.
A Side Dish of Controversy: I knew that there was some controversy with what I thought was the original title of this book, Ten Little Indians but there was an even more distasteful title that you can read about here. I think you will be more than a little shocked as I was.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
This week's mind blowing question: Let’s talk crazy book titles! Highlight one or two (or as many as you like!) titles in your personal collection that have the most interesting titles!
My answer: Well, perhaps not crazy titles but I do have a few titles that are a play on words like, Sticks and Scones by Diana Mott Davidson or how about Claws and Effect by Rita May Brown.
As I write this there are 163 entries on the Blog Hop so make sure you're next! You have until Monday to participate, so get hopping!
In the meantime, the Gato and I would like to introduce you to two kitties who wanted to be a part of the Book Fiend's Gallery. Madlynn (top kitty) McKaela (below) live with their family that includes an African Gray parrot named Willie and a soon-to-be little sibling who arrives in March. Everyone is over the moon!
If you have a cat who is just itching to join the Book Fiend's Galley, just drop me a note. The more the merrier!
Have a great week!