Spring Sprung Titles

What to say about April? I ran my fastest 10k while ill (go figure). I met two new runners and may have convinced someone to at least try. I don’t know where this acceptance to run with others is coming from. To share a conversation I had with someone: I asked where she runs. She replied she doesn’t have my pace, “nowhere near it” were her exact words. I answered I don’t have that pace all the time either. Me & my pace visit from time to time but we don’t make it a thing. She laughed and I saw myself ten years ago talking to someone who face-times with friends while running. I worried about her relationship with pace. But, this blog is turning into a thing different from reading.

So, without further ado, here are the finished books:

Fiction:

  • Diplomatic Lover by Elsie Lee – read in one day
  • Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez – read in two days
  • Celibate Season by Carol Shields and Blanche Howard – read in four days (this book annoyed me and I kept having to put it down)

Nonfiction:

  • Lost Upland: stories of the Dordogne Region by W.S. Merwin – confessional: DNF (bored, bored, bored)
  • Coming into the Country by John McPhee
  • Henry James: the Untried Years by Leon Edel
  • Another Part of the Wood by Kenneth Clark – this was cheeky!

Series continuations:

  • “F” is for Fugitive by Sue Grafton (I’m calling this a continuation even though I read “A” a long time ago.)
  • Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons (AB + print so I could finish on time – today!)
  • Blue Lightning by Ann Cleeves – another quick read (finished in four days)

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • My Life with Bob by Pamela Paul

Rise of Endymion

Simmons, Dan. The Rise of Endymion. Read by Victor Bevine. Grand Haven, MI: Brilliance Audio, 2008.

Reason read: this finishes the Hyperion Cantos started in January in honor of Science Fiction month. I am actually sad to see this story end. Who knew?

Where did we leave off? At the end of Endymion Raul Endymion had saved Aenea from the Shrike (among other robot/monsters). As the potential New Messiah she definitely needed saving. All of humanity is depending on her to grow up. Now, in The Rise of Endymion, Aenea has undergone a training with a Cybrid personality reconstructed from a Pre-Hegira human architect; none other than Frank Lloyd Wright. She and Raul live with him and his strange group called “The Others” in a commune. As Aenea’s knowledge and powers grow, so does her legion of followers. One of the coolest of Aenea’s powers is the ability to “remember” the future. Sometimes only fragments of memory come into focus; details are missing and conclusions are incomplete but what she does remember helps Endymion navigate through trial and tribulations to keep her safe. Sort of. She does die. Sort of.
Meanwhile, in Father de Soya’s world, the Pope has died (again) and it’s time to pick a new one. The monster woman called Nemes now has a family of scariness to support her quest to find and destroy Aenea…and then there’s the Shrike. It’s still lurking around as well.
One of the best techniques of sci-fi suspense is the age-old good guy as the underdog (think Star Wars) & Rise of Endymion does not disappoint. Of course the good guy’s grungy-grimy starship is out of date while the enemy’s is gleaming high tech. Of course it is. They have all the best stuff. The good guys are a bumbling, easily injured human and an amputee android while the enemy can die a thousand times over and still have superpower skills to hunt and destroy. Classic. Another sci-fi trick is time travel. This plays a huge role in the final twist of Rise of Endymion. I won’t give it away except to say Raul’s time debt conveniently allows Aenea to turn 21 while he’s away…

My only complaint concerning this last installment? Lots of cardinal and pope names to keep track of.
My favorite part? The return of Rachel Weintraub.

Author fact: What have I told you so far? I told you about some of the other books Simmons has written. For my last author fact(s) I will tell you Simmons used to be a high school teacher (cool) and that at the time of publication he was living in Colorado (way cool).

Book trivia: this is my first time listening to an MP3 audio.

Nancy said: it bears repeating that Nancy called Rise of Endymion equally strong as the first book, Hyperion.

BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Space Operas” (p 211).


April Snow Job

As we move into April I am not confident we won’t get another 26″ snow storm. If we ever joked in the past about not being able to predict the weather, now it is impossible. It’s no laughing matter. My rose bushes, right now struggling under the weight of frozen water, could tell you that. But never mind the weather. Let’s talk about the month of April. April is another 10k for cancer. I’m hoping to break the hour time since I was five seconds away in March. April is also Easter. April is my sister’s birth month. April is also books, books and more books…of course:

Fiction:

  • ‘F’ is For Fugitive by Sue Grafton ~ in honor of Grafton’s birth month. Technically, I should have read all the “alphabet” books by Grafton one right after the other, but I didn’t have that system when I read “A” is for Alibi. I think it goes without saying I do now.
  • The Diplomatic Lover by Elsie Lee ~ in honor of Lee’s birth month. I am not looking forward to this one even though it looks like a quick read.
  • A Celibate Season by Carol Shields ~ in honor of April being Letter Writing Month. This is so short I should be able to read it in one sitting.

Nonfiction:

  • Henry James: the Untried Years (1843 – 1870) by Leon Edel ~ in honor of James’s birth month. This first volume chronicles James’s childhood and youth.
  • Coming into the Country by John McPhee ~ in honor of the Alaska trip I’m taking in August.

Series continuations:

  • The Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons ~ this is to finish the series started in January, in honor of Science Fiction month. I liked Endymion the best so I have high hopes for The Rise of Endymion. I am listening to this on audio and reading the print because I know I will never finish the 575+ pages by April 30th.
  • Blue Lightning by Ann Cleeves ~ this is to finish the series started in January, in honor of Shetland’s fire festival, Up Helly Aa. This is another one I should be able to finish in a day or two.

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • My Life with Bob by Pamela Paul

Extra (for fun):

  • Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara- ~ my sister sent this in my belated birthday package. Whatever she recommends I usually end up liking whether it be music or books. For those of you who really know me – I know what you’re thinking. Yes, my birthday was in February. I got the birthday package over a month later. It’s what we do.

If there is time (since three books are really, really short):

  • Another Part of the Wood by Kenneth Clark ~ in honor of National Library Week
  • The Oxford Murders by Guillermo Martinez ~ in honor of April’s Mathematics, Science and Technology Week
  • Lost Upland by WS Merwin ~ in honor of well, you know the song…April in Paris. Cheesy, I know.

March of the Books

Here’s the singular thing I love, love, love about March: the St. Patrick’s Day Road Race in Holyoke, MA. I adore running this race. Runner’s World magazine has mentioned it more than once, calling it the mini Boston Marathon for it’s toughness. I PR’ed this year! But what I am more excited about is that this time I was only five seconds away from breaking an hour. Unlike last year (1:07:and something seconds) I was 1 hour and a measly four seconds. But, enough about running! Here are the books finished for March, 2017:

  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (AB +EB)*
  • Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel (AB + print)
  • Falling Angels by Barbara Gowdy*
  • Treachery in the Yard by Adimchinma Ibe*

Nonfiction:

  • Breaks of the Game by David Halberstam (DNF)
  • Big Empty edited by Ladette Randolph and Nina Shevchuk-Murray (EB)
  • No Ordinary Time by Doris Kearns Goodwin (AB)

Series continuations:

  • Red Bones by Ann Cleeves
  • Hall of a Thousand Columns by Tim Mackintosh-Smith (DNF)
  • Endymion by Dan Simmons

Early Review “won”:

  • Ma Speaks Up by Marianne Leone (received and finished)
  • My Life with Bob by Pamela Paul (This has arrived & I have started it)

*Short enough to read in one day.


Endymion

Simmons, Dan. Endymion. New York: Bantam Books, 1996.

Reason: I am a glutton for punishment. No, not really (even though I have admitted sci-fi is not my forte). The reason I am reading this is I am continuing the series started in January in honor of Science Fiction month. This is the third in the cantos and so far, my favorite.

Endymion takes place 274 years after The Fall of Hyperion and yet Martin Silenus is still alive, thanks to life extension treatments called Poulsens. In truth, I was kind of glad to see the old bastard. As soon as the nameless character started using profanity I knew the old poet was back! But, let me start from the beginning. Raul Endymion is the first character we meet in Endymion. He is a hunting guide framed for, and convicted of, the murder of a wealthy client. After a ridiculous trial he is ultimately sentenced (read: framed) to die. Only he does not die. He has been “saved” from execution in order to do Martin Silenus a favor. Well, more than a few favors:

  1. Save this one child, Aenea, from the Swiss Guard and the Pax
  2. Keep Aenea safe until she becomes old enough to be The One Who Teaches
  3. Find Earth and bring it back (back from where, I don’t know)
  4. Stop the TechnoCore from its activities
  5. Convince the Ousters to give Martin real immortality and not this life support crap
  6. Destroy the Pax and put an end to the Church’s power
  7. Stop the Shrike…ah, the Shrike is back!

At the same time Raul is attempting to complete his honeydew list, the resurrection of Father Captain de Soya is also playing out. His story isn’t half as interesting as Raul’s, but he’s also after the future One Who Teaches so their stories run parallel to one another and intersect from time to time. A real cat and mouse thriller, only it’s hard to determine who is the real mouse and who is the cat. And, if I thought all the dying and resurrection in Fall of Hyperion was crazy, that’s nothing compared to how many times Father Captain de Soya is “reborn.” Don’t worry. You get used to it.

Endymion reads much differently than the two previous books in the Cantos. There aren’t any crazy sex scenes (sorry, spoiler alert), and even though the Shrike makes an appearance, it isn’t half as scary as the wraiths or Nemes. I was half expecting a shrike/wraith battle but it didn’t happen, much like the sex.

As an aside, the description of A. Bettik makes him sound likeĀ  a member of the Blue Man Group. And. And! And, I know the Shrike is supposed to be the scariest thing in the universe but I was pretty unnerved by the description of the wraiths on the Sol Draconi System.

Line I liked, “I suppose one is surprised only when one awakens dead” (p 20). I would have to agree.

Best passage to sum up Endymion: “For years my life had been as calm and predictable as most people’s. This week I had accidentally killed a man, been condemned and executed and had awaken in Grandam’s favorite myth. Why stop there?” (p 45).

Author fact: to date I have told you Dan Simmons wrote five books which are on my Challenge list and he won the Locus Award for Fall of Hyperion. This time I learned he also wrote a book titled The Hollow Man. I won’t be reading it, though. It’s not on my list.

Book trivia: Endymion is the longest Simmons book to date. 578 pages to be exact.

BookLust Twist: again, from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Space Operas” (p 211).


Spring Forward

I’m really looking forward to spring. The chance to run outside (sorry, New Guinea) & a little more green in my life. Here are the books planned:

Fiction:

  • Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel ~ in honor of the best time to visit Mexico (AB). I think this will only take a few days to read so I’m adding:
  • Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote (AB) as a backup ~ in honor of the Oscars (even though they just happened, embarrassingly so).
  • Falling Angels by Barbara Gowdy ~ in honor of the time Niagara Falls stopped flowing, and,
  • Treachery in the Yard by Adimchinma Ibe ~ in honor of Nigeria’s president as of 2015.

Both of these fictions are short-short so I should be able to read them in a day or two each.

Nonfiction:

  • Breaks in the Game by David Halberstam ~ in honor of March Madness (basketball)
  • The Big Empty edited by Ladette Randolph ~ in honor of Nebraska becoming a state in March.

Series Continuations:

  • Red Bones by Ann Cleeves ~ to continue the series started in January in honor of Up Helly Aa.
  • Endymion by Dan Simmons ~ to continue the series started in January in honor of Science Fiction month. This sucker is 600 pages long. Not sure I’ll finish it in time…
  • Hall of a Thousand Columns by Tim Mackintosh-Smith ~ to continue the series started in February in honor of Exploration month. This is an ILL and it hasn’t arrived yet, so I’m not sure I will finish it in time.

Early Review for LibraryThing:

  • Ma Speaks Up by Marianne Leonne ~ maybe. I “won” it in February but it hasn’t arrived yet.
  • EDITED to ADD: I just got word I also “won” My Life with Bob by Pamela Paul. It isn’t expected to arrive for awhile so this is really an April book.

I Heart Books

I heart books…a February recap of reading.
February was an odd month. Our first serious snow storm gave me an extra day off. With all the other holidays & my birthday off I feel as though I’ve been more out than at work. At least in the last two months it does. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining for it certainly has given me more time to read! Case in point:

Fiction:

  • The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman by Ernest Gaines (AB & print)

Nonfiction:

  • Island to Oneself by Tom Neale (as a followup to The Book of Puka-Puka.)
  • Better Off: Flipping the Switch on Technology by Eric Brende
  • Travels with a Tangerine by Tim Mackintosh-Smith
  • Song of the Dodo by David Quammen
  • Antarctic Destinies by Stephanie Barczewski

Series continuations:

  • Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons (started with Hyperion).
  • White Nights by Ann Cleeves (started with Raven Black).

Fun:

  • Wonder by RJ Palacio

LibraryThing:

  • Nada. I “won” Ma Speaks Up by Marianne Leonne but it hasn’t arrived yet.

As an aside, I ran 36.25 miles for the month.