Where'd You Go, Bernadette

From goodreads

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle--and people in general--has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence--creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

Pages: 326 (Hardcover)

Rating: 7 out of 10

Source: Checked out from the library

Date Completed: February 8, 2013

One of the members of the Partners and Professors book club received Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple as a Christmas present.  I was excited to read the book when I read that the author had written for some of my favorite shows, including Mad About You and Arrested Development.   Just like when I watch those shows, I laughed out loud and was surprised at several points in the book.  I expected the story to be funny, but I was delighted to find that there were also several sweet moments. 

One particular moment in the story tugged at my heart strings and made me want to be a better parent. Bernadette's daughter, Bee, recalls an incident in which other kids were teasing her and her mother's response. The quote is here: 

“I can pinpoint that as the single happiest moment of my life, because I realized then that Mom would always have my back. It made me feel giant. I raced back down the concrete ramp, faster than I ever had before, so fast I should have fallen, but I didn't fall, because Mom was in the world.” 

My mother's approach to my getting teased was to ignore it.  I can understand the power of not engaging with teasers or bullies, but I feel like I would have cheered louder if my parents had been a bit more snarky.  I am not sure how I will do with my own daughter, but I hope that I am able to make her feel like Bee about my being in the world. 

Bernadette had many qualities and behavior which annoyed me, but her way of navigating the world also made me laugh. I really enjoyed the relationship between her and Bee.  It was also nice to revisit Seattle from the perspective of an outsider. I totally related to the culture shock aspect of Bernadette's experience.  The format of the novel worked for me-- the mix of emails, letters, newspaper articles, and general storytelling helped move the story along.   We have book club in a few weeks and I am looking forward to discussing. 

I am counting the book for the following challenges: 

Posted on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 9:22PM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] in | CommentsPost a Comment

Seating Arrangements

From goodreads

Winn Van Meter is heading for his family’s retreat on the pristine New England island of Waskeke. Normally a haven of calm, for the next three days this sanctuary will be overrun by tipsy revelers as Winn prepares for the marriage of his daughter Daphne to the affable young scion Greyson Duff.  Winn’s wife, Biddy, has planned the wedding with military precision, but arrangements are sideswept by a storm of salacious misbehavior and intractable lust: Daphne’s sister, Livia, who has recently had her heart broken by Teddy Fenn, the son of her father’s oldest rival, is an eager target for the seductive wiles of Greyson’s best man; Winn, instead of reveling in his patriarchal duties, is tormented by his long-standing crush on Daphne’s beguiling bridesmaid Agatha; and the bride and groom find themselves presiding over a spectacle of misplaced desire, marital infidelity, and monumental loss of faith in the rituals of American life. 

Pages: 302 (Hardcover)

Rating: 7 out of 10

Source: Checked out from the library

Date Completed: February 1, 2013

I feel like I had been hearing about Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead for awhile, so figured it would be a good read.  As I started the story, I found myself really annoyed with the characters.  As I got to know them better, I felt a little compassion, but not much.  I just found them entitled, self-indulgent and caught up in some weird self-absorbed drama.  My least favorite character is Winn. I was especially annoyed with his obsession with sons and his intense loyalty to Harvard.  I am all for school spirit, but wow.   I did grow to like Livia a bit, but just wanted to her to have more of a backbone.  

My favorite character is one whose name I cannot recall. She is the bridesmaid who lives abroad.  I liked her observations about the Van Meter family.  My dislike of most of the main characters is probably the same reason I liked her; she was an outsider and made observations about the quirks of this world of which she is not really a part.  

I am counting this book for the following challenges: 

  • What's in a Name Six: I am counting it for the category of something you would find in your kitchen, as I think most kitchens have seating or arrangements of some sort. 
  • 2013 Global Reading Challenge: The book takes place in the United States, so I am counting it for the continent of North America. 
Posted on Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 2:15PM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] in | CommentsPost a Comment

Broken Harbor

From goodreads

Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy, the brash cop from Tana French’s bestsellingFaithful Place, plays by the book and plays hard. That’s what’s made him the Murder squad’s top detective—and that’s what puts the biggest case of the year into his hands.

On one of the half-built, half-abandoned "luxury" developments that litter Ireland, Patrick Spain and his two young children are dead. His wife, Jenny, is in intensive care.

At first, Scorcher and his rookie partner, Richie, think it’s going to be an easy solve. But too many small things can’t be explained. The half dozen baby monitors, their cameras pointing at holes smashed in the Spains’ walls. The files erased from the Spains’ computer. The story Jenny told her sister about a shadowy intruder who was slipping past all the locks.

And Broken Harbor holds memories for Scorcher. Seeing the case on the news sends his sister Dina off the rails again, and she’s resurrecting something that Scorcher thought he had tightly under control: what happened to their family one summer at Broken Harbor, back when they were children.

Pages: 450 (Hardcover)

Rating: 8 out of 10

Source: Checked out from the library

Date Completed: January 22, 2013

When the Partners and Professors book club selected Broken Harbor by Tana French for the January read, I was excited to not read something heavy and depressing.  When I read the summary, I expected it to be a sad, but quick read.  I did not expect to be terrified and disturbed as I got sucked into the story and kept turning the pages.  I read most of this book while I was on vacation.  A story about a family that gets murdered and the complex relationships that are revealed in the course of trying to solve the mystery does not mesh well with extended time with the family.  Because I was jet lagged, my sleep schedule was off anyway.  I found myself thinking about the story, the characters, and trying to figure out what happened instead of trying to get on a regular sleep schedule. 

When I found out what happened, I was SHOCKED and HORRIFIED! At our book club meeting, not everyone had finished the book.  As we revealed what happened, the faces of the people who had not finished the book reflected my disbelief.  Some books affirm your faith in the goodness of humanity; this book makes you wonder what the fuck is wrong with people.  In spite of my intense reaction, I thought the story was compelling.  I was surprised with the various plot twists and liked not knowing what to expect at the start of each chapter. 

I am counting this book for the following challenges: 

Posted on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 10:30PM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] in | CommentsPost a Comment

What's In A Name Six

I love the idea behind the What's in a Name challenge. Even though I have not completed the challenge for the last three years, I am trying again.  (Because I love the categories of previous years, I am keeping those posts on the challenge page to see if I can complete them) (Update--I used the first book I completed this year to complete What's in a Name Three!) Maybe 2013 will be a lucky year for challenge completion. 

Here's How It Works

Between January 1 and December 31, 2013, read one book in each of the following categories. My selections will appear after the category name as I finish reading: 

  1. A book with up or down (or equivalent) in the title: The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri  I completed the book on November 7, 2013. You can find my review here
  2. A book with something you'd find in your kitchen in the title: Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead as I think most kitchens have seating and arrangements of some kind. I finished the book on February 1, 2013. You can find my review here
  3. A book with a party or celebration in the title: 
  4. A book with fire (or equivalent) in the title: 
  5. A book with an emotion in the title: Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford as both bitter and sweet are emotions. I completed the book on April 23, 2013. You can find my review here
  6. A book with lost or found (or equivalent) in the title: Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple. I finished the book on February 8, 2013. You can find my review here

Other Things to Know

  • Books may be any form (audio, print, e-book).
  • Books may overlap other challenges.
  • Books may not overlap categories; you need a different book for each category.
  • Creativity for matching the categories is not only allowed but encouraged.
  • You do not have to make a list of books before hand.
  • You do not have to read through the categories in any particular order.
Posted on Monday, February 18, 2013 at 4:15PM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] in | CommentsPost a Comment

2013 Global Reading Challenge

2013 Global Reading Challenge 

I love the idea of this challenge and even though I did not finish for the last three years, I am hoping that the third time will be the charm. 

As in the past, the Global Reading Challenge (GRC) challenges you to expand your reading boundaries, go where you haven't been before, move a little outside your comfort zone.

The Easy Challenge
Read one novel from each of these continents in the course of 2013:

Africa: The Geneva Option by Adam LeBor. Some of the action takes place in Africa. I finished the book on June 3, 2013. You can find my review here
Asia: The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan: The novel takes place in India. I finished the book on April 10, 2013. You can find my review here
Australasia/Oceania: 
Europe: Broken Harbor by Tana French: The novel takes place in Ireland. I completed the book on January 22, 2013. You can find my review here
North America: (1) Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead: The novel takes place in the United States. I completed the book on February 1, 2013. You can find my review here.  (2) Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple The book takes place in Seattle, Washington. I finished the book on February 8, 2013. You can find my review here
South America (please include Central America where it is most convenient for you)

The Seventh Continent (here you can either choose Antarctica or your own ´seventh´ setting, eg the sea, the space, a supernatural/paranormal world, history, the future – you name it):Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh The book takes place in many countries.  I finished the book no August 23, 2013. You can find my review here

From your own continent: try to find a country, state or author that is new to you.

Posted on Monday, February 18, 2013 at 4:01PM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] in | CommentsPost a Comment