Saturday, April 30, 2016

Chasing the North Star by Robert Morgan

In some cases, a lack of planning pays off.

Joshua, a young man enslaved on a South Carolina plantation has done the unforgivable-- he learned to read, and when caught reading by his master, who believes he has stolen the book to sell, since it is inconceivable that a slave could read, is beaten for his crime. Joshua decides to run away, He sets out woefully unprepared and unequipped: no food, no shoes, no plan, and only the money he stole from his mother's coin jar. But Joshua's big advantage is that he is smart, and knows the path and landmarks he must follow to reach his goal of freedom. Early in his journey, he meets Angel, another slave, who decides to follow Joshua as he follows the North Star. Sometimes in tandem, sometime apart, the two journey north, meeting the various challenges that confront them, using their brains and their luck to keep headed toward their goal.

What I enjoyed most about this book was the beautiful way Robert Morgan weaves a tale. I learned this about his writing in some of his earlier books, and settled in to enjoy a master storyteller when I cracked open the pages of this book. I was not disappointed. Morgan managed to bring alive the characters and places of the story, taking me along with Joshua from South Carolina, where I currently live, through the  more landscape that has been home for  me at various points in my life. While much of the landscape was familiar to me, the few places I'd not travelled were easily envisioned through his words.

Thank you Algonquin Press and Library Thing for sending me a copy of this book.

Tags: 2016-readadvanced-reader-copyalgonquingiveawayan-author-i-readearly-review-librarythingi-liked-itmade-me-look-something-upmade-me-thinkplaces-i-have-beenreadset-in-my-stomping-groundstaught-me-something

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston

I've been on a purge of the "stuff" in our home for a while now, and hoped this book would encourage me to go forth with renewed energy. It did, a little, but I also found a lot in it that made me more irritated at the author than inspired. Books by my bed don't mean that my primary relationship is with books rather than people. It means that I'm an avid reader and read a lot of books, though (now) keep only a smidgeon of what I read. If my house catches on fire, it's not the universe biting me in the behind for my clutter, though it would be a misfortune. It's more likely my recluse neighbor Barney, who lives down the hill, had one of his fires get out of control.  I found the author to be a bit patronizing, as well. 

What would really help me is a book that told me how to separate memories from objects, or how to detach myself from the joy those memories bring me of loved ones now gone, or times now past. It's not a sin to treasure memories, and sometimes objects help keep the heart whole, or help a wounded one heal. I want to cut down on our possessions mostly because I know it would make my husband happy, and to save my children from having to decide what to do with it all. The toy mechanical tiger that was my father's has memories for me from his stories, but they not only never met him, but never heard me tell the stories. Ebay, anyone? I think I need inspiration/motivation from inside myself rather than from inside the pages of a book.

Thank you blogging for books for sending me this book. I am removing it from the pile beside my bed, to help declutter the house.

Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

It's hard to find those kind of books where the action slowly meanders through the streets and fields, and doesn't come blasting out of weapons, or splash through in a rapid sequence, firing wit at a whiplash pace. Winesburg, Ohio shapes the character of a small town through its characters, told slowly and gently through short story glimpses. I love a quiet paced book, with good writing, and even though this was really vignettes/short stories, it still had the gentle quality I long for in today's action packed world. It's a tale of another time, truly another world, and probably not to everyone's liking. I read it in sips and nibbles between other reads, because at times, the pace did make even Jane Austen seem fast.

I'm a'most embarrassed to admit, I might not have picked this up were it not for the Stanford Book Salon. I read in someone's review that the author died from peritonitis after his intestine was perforated  by a piece of a toothpick left in a martini olive. I just want to reassure everyone that knows about the czuk "Martini Night" ritual on (most) Fridays, that we do not toothpick our Castlevietro  olives.