Book Club Discussion: ‘Ending Up’ by Kingsley Amis

I had never heard of this book before the Modern Library Book Club requested it. Although it is quite a small book, just under 200 pages, it delivers quite a punch.

We follow five elderly characters who live with each other. There is a lot of griping and jokes, but at the end of the day, each of them has to deal with the same issue – the facts of life and getting older.

The book started out funny, just like I thought it would. I have been around the elderly my whole life so I know that they love to joke around, but when we get the characters alone, we know that this is just a façade and each is dealing with their own issues.

There is Bernard who loves to play pranks on the others which is absolutely hilarious until the end when one of his jokes backfires. Bernard reminds me of the old grump who is nasty to everyone but deep inside he just wants the attention.

Shorty is the butler and ex-lover to Bernard. He is a drunk but tries to moderate his drinking. One of my favorite scenes is Shorty trying to pull himself up the stairs to his bedroom and his tottering at the top. It was just so vivid. He goes around the house singing ballads about the others, though whether they realize it is another story. Absolutely hilarious.

Marigold’s character is a bit sad as she is slowly losing her mind. Whether Alzheimer’s or dimentia, it is never determined, but Marigold tries to come to terms with it in the best way she knows how. She is also very opinionated and literal to the point that she doesn’t understand the jokes.

Then there is Vera who is the serious one of the lot and takes care of everyone and everything. Finally there is George who suffers from the after effects of a stroke and tries to write his book. Of everyone, George seems to be the most positive one.

Everyone at book club enjoyed this book, though for some, the plot of the story hit a little too close for comfort. Despite this, they thought Amis’ was a genius writer. Some thought he was a bit negative, which was irritating to them but they still enjoyed the book.

It is a short classic that has a lot to it and you will surely get something out of it every time you read it. Definitely worth the read.

Monday reading check in 9/6/21

Happy Labor Day everyone!

It’s been a three-day weekend and I have been using the time to read. I was supposed to go down to New Jersey to visit my parents but after an altercation with my neighbor that involved me calling the police on her twice, I was left drained and exhausted.

However, even with this bit of drama in my life, I have been flying through the books I am reading. I think I have read more books over this weekend, than I have in a month all year. I only have 2 1/2 books left to read on my TBR. Which is crazy since we are only in the second week of the month.

What I recently finished

I have been eyeballing this book for awhile, but I wasn’t planning to read it yet. Then the New York State Writer’s Institute kicked off their fall events, starting with a Q&A/reading with Zakiya Dalila Harris at the University at Albany Campus. I immediately bought the book to bring with me to the event to get signed. I also started reading it prior to the event and got sucked in. This is a quick read and one that doesn’t disappoint. I can’t believe that this is Harris’ first book. Harris definitely puts a new spin on workplace competition. This thriller is full of twists and turns that will leave you dumbfounded in the end.

I read this for book club which will be meeting in a week to discuss. I would say that is a must read for everyone. You may think you know what it’s like to be disabled or think that you can understand, but unless you are, you don’t. Rebekah Taussig provides her perspective of how people interact around her and uncovers the truth about the cultural, political and societal impacts that her disability has on the world – mainly how people run on assumptions about a disabled person needs or wants. This book is truly eye opening and may make you feel unexpectedly uncomfortable.

I finished this book this morning and I still can’t wrap my head around this book. JK Ellem is the master of twists and turns because I really couldn’t figure this book out. Everyone is the bad guy. Every time you think you know, you don’t. Every single character has skeletons in their closet and you have to read to the last page to get any sense of finality. I haven’t read a book like this in a while. My brain is still trying to wrap around everything that happened. Though I would say their are some seriously dark and twisted things that happen which might be triggering.

Ok so I have owned this book since I was a little girl and had never read it. It’s actually good, though a little disturbing. You have a group of boys who are stranded on a deserted island. They try to stick to the habits that they had grown with. They select a leader and put rules into place with everyone having a role. However, eventually nature takes over and you see what happens when humans are left with just their primitive instincts. This book is only 200 pages but there is so much to unpack between its pages.

Books I am currently reading

My read of this book continues as I have to finish parts 5-8 for the Modern Library Book Club. We discussed the first half of the book and every single person is enjoying it so far – the language, the characters, the plot. It’s soo good. However, I am now taking my time with it.

This the September read for the Capital District Book Club. Apparently this book is about a murder that happened in Northern Ireland during the time of the “troubles.” I am not too familiar with this in Irish history but I am sure that I am going to quickly get educated. I started this book today and I hope to be done with it before the end of the week.

What I plan to read next

This is another book that I have had on my bookshelf for quite a long time. I think that the title of the book says it all. Given that it is the 20th anniversary of 9/11, I thought it was fitting to read about the war that resulted in what happened. I am even more interested in seeing the other sides of things.


What are you currently reading? Have you read anything on this list? Let’s discuss!

Review: ‘Project Hail Mary’ by Andy Weir

Imagine waking up, hooked up to a bunch of tubes, not knowing where you are, how you got there or why. That is how you feel when you first crack open Andy Weir’s latest book, “Project Hail Mary,” because that is how we find the main character, Ryland.

Ryland wakes up in what seems to be a medical unit, being cared for by a robotic machine. However, after a few days of slowly coming out of the lethargic fog that he woke up in, Ryland takes a precursory glance around to deduce that he is on a space craft on a mission. What that mission is has yet to be known, but he knows that it must have been super important. As he struggles to regain his full memory, Ryland tries to move forward with the mission.

This was my first Andy Weir book and I was immersed from the first page. I have never had any aspirations to go to space so the fact that we are joining Ryland on this journey was a nail biter for me. Not only does Ryland not know what he is supposed to do, he is alone, so it’s like learning a new job on the fly. I couldn’t help but hold my breath every time that he touched an unknown button or did something that was clearly not a good idea. Luckily, although Ryland’s memory is hazy, he realizes quickly that many of the things on the ship come easy to him, helping him conclude that he has some type of background.

This book can get a little technical with the scientific terms and the numeric calculations, but it didn’t hinder my understanding of what was going on or what Ryland was trying to do. I was more than happy to let him drive the ship so long as we didn’t crash or he didn’t die. But then I got to thinking – could this actually be possible? Could we build a ship that was able to travel so many light years away and survive?

Are we alone in this universe? It is the age-old question that there is still no clear answer for. Yet, Weir would have us believe that not only is the answer a resounding no, but we can communicate with them and live with them despite our differences.

I loved the relationship between Ryland and Rocky and how the two work on each other’s strengths to get the job done.

I liked the way that Weir used flashbacks to flesh out the story as well as Ryland’s character. Sometimes in books, the flash backs are random but not here. Ryland will look at a piece of paper and what may seem like numeric garble at first, suddenly triggers a memory of him working in a lab on Earth and looking at similar numbers.

I am not one to read science fiction, which is probably why it has taken me so long to pick up one of Weir’s books, but this book was a fast read and thoroughly enjoyable. Now I can’t wait to pick up the “Martian”, which I have heard nothing but good things about.


Have you read “Project Hail Mary”? What did you think? What other Weir books would you recommend? Let’s discuss!

Spring TBR wrap-up: The books I read, didn’t read and read instead

Today is the first day of Summer! I can’t believe it. Maybe it’s the fact that it didn’t really start getting warm here in upstate NY until May but I feel like I barely got a chance to enjoy it. It has been a busy season and when I look back at what I read, I am shocked that I didn’t even read a dozen books between March and June. So it’s no surprise that I barely touched my Spring TBR list. In fact, I only read 2 out of the 10 books that I wanted to. But then again, I ended up reading some books that I didn’t expect to. I was definitely a mood reader during the last few months. So here is a breakdown of what I read from the list, the books I didn’t get to but still expect to and the books I read instead.

What I read


What I didn’t get to


Other books I read instead


What did you read over the Spring? Have you read any on this list? Let’s discuss!

May 2021 reading wrap-up

It’s been a crazy two months and in some ways I am sad to see May wrap up. My husband and I finally had the wedding we have been waiting three years to have.

It’s why I disappeared for the last month and a half. I thought that I had most of the wedding planning done but what I didn’t anticipate was all the drama that comes just weeks before the wedding. And not all the drama was good. At one point I was so depressed I couldn’t even read, let alone write about what I had read. However I am happy to say that despite all this, things worked out for the better and my husband and I had the wedding we had dreamed about and with the people we cared about celebrating with us. Then it was off for a mini honeymoon to the Poconos.

It was during that trip to the Poconos that I finally began to relax, my mind cleared and I began reading again. Voraciously I might add and it hasn’t stopped since I got back. I read nearly as many books in the past two weeks as I do in a month. And as you probably noticed, I began writing on the blog again. So you can say I am officially back.

So here are the books that I have been devouring this month.

So I did get sucked into the Bridgerton series and watched the first season of the Netflix show in a weekend. Then I found out it was a book series and I HAD to read it. I started the Duke and I back in March but due to the drama that unfolded, I never got around to finishing it. I figured it was the perfect book to bring on a honeymoon and I was right. I took advantage of the balcony we had overlooking a pond during a quiet morning and read most of the book in a sitting. And then it just spiraled.

“The Duke and I”, aka Daphne’s story, was in words what Netflix had created visually. I was happy about this. Of course there were some differences as the show does pull in tidbits from the other books to provide some context to the other characters, but overall the book and the show are pretty similar as I explain in my review. I rather enjoyed Daphne and Simon’s story and I was glad that I started the series.

In fact, the following two stories, “The Viscount Who Loved Me” and “An Offer From a Gentleman” are just as enjoyable as we read about Anthony Bridgerton and Benedict Bridgerton and their romances, which I am happy to say are all different. Anthony’s plan is to marry without love just to fullfill his duty as the heir of the Bridgerton property and Benedict ends up meeting a mysterious women at a masquerade that ends up haunting his dreams. Each of these stories I loved differently. As I explain in my review of The Viscount, I loved the love-hate relationship between Anthony and Kate which leads to some comical situations that had me laughing aloud. The opposite was true of An Offer. I didn’t think I was going to even like the story and ended up loving it. It was one of the more emotional of the three and actually brought me to tears, which I explain more here.

I honestly didn’t think I was going to like “The Diviners” by Libba Bray because I am not a huge fantasy reader. This was a book I received through a care package during COVID last year from my book club and was not even on my radar. But then last week, something made me pick it up and I absolutely couldn’t stop reading it. In fact, it is one of the creepiest books I have read in some time. This is also a series and since the book left some things unresolved, I now have to read the others. I am hoping to have a review on this soon because honestly it was that good.

“The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett was the only book club read I managed this month though I was unable to attend the discussion due to the wedding. However my maid of honor is also in the book club and we began to discuss it and all the themes that this book uncovers. And oh how there are so many. I wish that I wrote down all of my feelings after I finished this book so that I could provide a review. This book definitely plays on your emotions. I was sad, angry and happy for all the characters at different points in this book. They definitely felt very real to me and many of the discussions that were occurring I could see happening in real life. There is a reason why this book gets some nods. If you haven’t done so, read it.


What did you read in May? Have you read any of the books on this list? What did you think? Let’s discuss!

‘The Duke and I’ by Julia Quinn

So I wasn’t going to get on the “Bridgerton” train but thanks to boredom, I ended up watching the Netflix show about a month or so ago. And of course, I loved it. I didn’t even know it was a book series until I began seeing all the blog posts about the first book and the comparisons to the show. Well, because the book is (almost) always better than the movie/show, I couldn’t help reading the first book.

I was rather surprised by how closely aligned to the book the show is in regards to Daphne and Simon’s storyline. I really liked how Quinn set up these two characters. Simon is a duke who swears never to marry to spite his father who hated him and Daphne, debutante who is looking is on the marriage market, searching for her husband. These two characters couldn’t be more different if they tried. They end up using these difference for a common purpose. Of course things don’t necessarily work out the way they planned but alas, does it ever?

I have come to rather like the Bridgerton family very much and the banter between the siblings. They are a close family and I enjoyed their family dynamic. However, I noticed upon reading the book, that Quinn doesn’t get too much into the background of the other characters in the first book, whereas the Netflix show does. I think the show is going to follow the books so that each seasons will follow a different Bridgerton, but with some storyline around these characters already outlined in the first season, it will be interesting to see how the show begins to veer away from the books, as I am sure that it is bound to happen.

What the book provides that the show doesn’t is a little more insight into Simon’s character and what is going through his mind about his decisions. While the show did a good job of showing us why Simon’s character is the way he is, there is something to be said about reading a characters thoughts in the moment, especially when it came to Daphne’s character.

Overall I enjoyed the book and have since bought several of the others in the series. As you know, I am not one to follow through with a series but alas, I need to find out what happens to each of the Bridgerton clan.


Have you read “Bridgerton: The Duke and I”? Have you seen the show? Which did you like better? Let’s discuss!

TBR for March 2021

Over the past week, I debated whether I should do a reading list for March. I am in a funky reading mood and I honestly don’t know what I want to read on any given day. However, I know that if I don’t do this list, I will end up not reading at all or not get to the books that I have to get to. I wouldn’t be surprised at the end of the month, the list of books I actually will be completely different. In any event, here it goes.

Book Club reads

Chain of Title‘ by David Dayen

I started this book two days ago and I am already halfway through it. I thought it was going to be a dense read about the financial industry, and while it does get technical at times, I am finding it really interesting. Basically, it’s about how people who had their homes foreclosed upon, found that there were issues with their mortgage documents and ended up uncovering widespread fraud.

Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod‘ by Gary Paulsen

I honestly can’t wait to read this book because it sounds so interesting. I haven’t read Gary Paulsen since we were assigned “Hatchet” in school. I didn’t realize that Paulsen had a nonfiction book out and the Iditarod has always fascinated me.

Personal reads

Brave New World‘ by Aldous Huxley

I didn’t get to this book last month but I definitely want to get to it. I keep finding references to it and I need to know what people are talking about. This book has been on my shelf for long enough.

The Survivors‘ by Jane Harper

I have a feeling I am going to need an engrossing read on my list this month and I think this is going to be it. I have been wanting to read this since I got it. Just from reading the summary about mistakes that led to devestating consequences I am intrigued.

What’s Mine and Yours‘ by Naima Coster

I just got this book from my March Book of the Month subscription and I can’t wait to read it.

Into the Wild‘ by Jon Krakauer

I am not sure why, but every time I go to read this book I get distracted and want to read something else. It’s one of the reason I didn’t get to it last month. I am going to try again and hopefully I have a little more luck this time.


What are you reading in March? Have you read any on this list? Let’s discuss!

September 2020 TBR

How is it already mid-September? Can time just take a damn chill pill and slow the hell down? While there is still a week of summer,  in upstate New York, the days of 80 degree weather are officially gone and it looks we are going to be in the 60s at least for the next week. I have officially pulled out the long-sleeves and started wearing a light jacket to work. The cold weather will be here before we know it.

However, like spring, fall gives me some new-found energy. My husband and I went to my parents for Labor Day weekend and we spent two days in Atlantic City. I lost money but my husband got lucky the first night we were there and managed not to give it back. And surprisingly we kept up the momentum this weekend by actually getting out of the house and doing some house shopping together. Usually I do these types of errands but he came with. It was nice spending some quality time together.

Though September is flying by and this post is really late, I still wanted to do a TBR list because, if anything, it keeps me on track. I have kept up my reading and am already flying through my book club reads so the rest of the month is going to be personal reads for me. And since next weekend I am going to be dog-sitting for my best friend, I will have plenty of time to read.

Book Club picks

“Where the Crawdads Sing” by Delia Owens

This is the September pick for the Capital District Book Club. While I had heard great things about this book, I didn’t think I was going to like it but I flew through it and just finished it last night. I really can’t wait to discuss this with the rest of the group to hear what they have to say. At the same time I am a little nervous because sometimes there is that one person in the group who can pick out every flaw and then it just ruins it for me. Keeping my fingers crossed.

“East of the Mountains” by David Guterson

I read Guterson’s other book “Snow Falling on Cedars” and absolutely loved it. It was one of those books where you really don’t know anything going into it and you end up falling in love with it. I am hoping that this book does the same. This book has been sitting on my bookshelf for a year and hadn’t picked it up but is October’s discussion for the Modern Library Book Club. I have only just started it but so far it’s been pretty good.

Personal Picks/BOTM

So usually I do a seperate post about my Book of the Month boxes that come in each month but since I haven’t gotten around to it and they are the books that I plan on reading I figured I would just add them to this post instead.

“Transcendent Kingdom” By Yaa Gyasi

I can’t not begin to describe how excited I am to be reading this book. Ever since I read “Homegoing” I have been waiting and waiting for her new book. So when it was one of the September BOTM picks I immediately added it to the list and it arrived last week. I have no doubts this book is going to tug at my heartstrings like her last one did.

“Anxious People” by Fredrik Backman

You already know that I absolutely Backman and its my goal to read everything he writes so is it any surprise that I have to read his latest book? I was so glad that it was a September pick for BOTM and since I get an add on, I happily clicked it. The summary says this is a comedy, which is different from the Backman I have read to date. Most of his books leave me in tears at some point. It will be a nice change. If it is funny and as good as I hope it is, I think this may be the next book I try to get my husband to read.

“The Girl with the Louding Voice” by Abi Dare

Ever since this book came out I have been dying to get my hands on it. I was so happy that BOTM had it on the list of selections. I don’t know why but this book has been calling to me and I think I am absolutely going to love it.  I already love the cover lol.

“The Space Between Worlds” by Micaiah Johnson

I typically don’t buy sci-fi books unless it is for book club but when this came up as one of the BOTM picks I was intrigued and figured why not? And rather it fall onto a shelf where it may linger for months, if not years, I figured I would get it out of the way now. I am hoping I like this one and don’t regret my decision.


What are you reading in September? Have you read any on this list? Let’s discuss!

 

July reading wrap-up

I feel like summer just started and somehow it’s already nearing its end. This whole COVID-19 situation has put a damper on everything. My summers usually involve Fridays at the pool or at least one weekend at the Jersey Shore with my mom and me at the beach. Not this year. Though I did make it to the lake last week, it just highlighted all the more how this summer is different from all the rest.

The good thing about this month is that we finally have some new employees at work and so my work load is beginning to level out. I feel like I can breathe again and maybe, just maybe, I can have a much better work/life balance.

Speaking of, now that I have some more time to myself, I did manage to get through all but one of the books I had put on my TBR.

This was a book club read for the Modern Library Book Club, and we will be discussing it in a few days. It’s a hard book to get through as it deals with some depressing topics. I am still trying to put my thoughts together on this one, so it will be interesting to hear what others have to say.

The second of the Stephanie Plum series wasn’t my absolute favorite but it was still enjoyable over all. These books light, fun reads with quite the cast of characters. Grandma Mazur continues to be my favorite character by far. Her antics are downright hysterical. You can read my review for more about this book.

Margaret Atwood has definitely moved up to one of my top 5 favorite authors. None of her work is ever the same and she definitely delivers in “Oryx and Crake”. This dystopian book is about a viral plague that takes out mankind and the reasons why. As I said in my review, Atwood seems to have taken what was going on in the scientific community at the time and thought of the worst case scenario to come up with this tale. The scary thing is that the book was written in the early 2000s but it seems like we are living it now.

Not going to lie, I was afraid to read this book. I absolutely loved “Everything I Never Told You” and I didn’t want to read a book that might not be as good. I am so glad that I finally took the plunge. I absolutely loved this book. Celeste Ng has a way of creating characters that you can’t help but have feelings for. I seriously felt something for everyone in this book. I can’t stop thinking about it.

Kate Morton is another one that knows how to weave a story and create a cast of characters that you can’t forget. I was first introduced to her a few years ago when I read “The Forgotten Garden” and I am not sure why it has taken me this long to read more of her. This book seriously kept you guessing. Morton threw so many possibilities into this tale that each new idea seemed just a plausible as the next and yet it’s not until the end that the truth is revealed. I really have to read her other works.

The book I still haven’t finished….

I just don’t have any motivation right now to finish this book. It will remain on my night stand until I do but for now I am taking a break.


What did you read in July? Have you read any on this list? Let’s discuss!

My top 5 anticipated reads

It may only be January but I already have a quickly growing list of books I can’t wait to get to this year. The real test will be if I actually get to all of them.

For the purpose of this post, I will focus on my top 5 anticipated reads for the year, mainly because I had originally planned to write this for the Top 5 Tuesday post yesterday. Unfortunately, I missed it, so here we are. Without further ado:

the starless sea

Starless Sea” by Erin Morgenstern

I so can’t wait to pop this book open. I absolutely loved Morgenstern’s writing in the “Night Circus.” From what I have heard both from the reviews I read on here and from people who I recommended “Night Circus” to, “Starless Sea” is just as good, if not better. Since I received it for Christmas (my fiancé is awesome!) I don’t have to wait.

Becoming

Becoming” by Michelle Obama

So this was my anticipated read for 2019 but I never got around to it because it was constantly checked out at the library. Though I wanted to read it really bad, I really didn’t want to spend $30 on one book, especially since I wasn’t sure how I was going to like it. But once again, thanks to my fiancé, I got “Becoming” for Christmas. The fact that its nonfiction is an added bonus since I am always trying to expand my nonfiction reads.

circe

Circe” by Madeline Miller

At first I was kind of meh about reading this book. I had heard the hype but I really didn’t care whether I read it or not. Then the Capital District Book Club picked it for April’s book and now I can’t wait to get to it. Funny how that works huh? I have heard nothing but good things about this book so I am sure I am going to love it.

wide sargasso sea

Wide Sargasso Sea” by Jean Rhys

As you may know, “Jane Eyre” by Charlotte Bronte is one of my all time favorite books. So when I found out that we were reading “Wide Sargasso Sea” in my Modern Library Book Club, I was so excited. It tells the story of Rochester’s mad wife. I can still remember reaching that point in the book. I was completely shocked and even though she wasn’t a main character I couldn’t help but wonder what her story was. “Wide Sargasso Sea” is on the list for March’s read and it’s taking everything I have not to skip February’s book to read this. It is rather short so I can probably get to it.

March

March” by Geraldine Brooks

Speaking of retellings. Since watching the new “Little Women”, I have a new obsession with everything Little Women. Thus “March” by Geraldine Brooks went right to the top of my list. It’s a story about Mr. March and his time in the war. For those who have read “Little Women” know that Mr. March is not a prominent figure in the story, at least not in the forefront. We know that he is at the war, he gets injured and he eventually does come home, but these mentions merely take a few paragraphs. He is more of a shadow that has an indirect influence on the girls lives. It will be interesting to read about him in more detail.