Westward the Tide by Louis L’Amour

Months ago, I heard somewhere that westerns were one of the fastest growing genres and I realized that I had never ever read a western.  Where else would I start but with L’Amour?

At the start of this book, Matt Bardoul happens across Jacquine Coyle and is instantly drawn to her.  He follows her on to town where he is drawn into an opportunity to find some gold and start a town.  Bardoul knows right away that he wants Jacquine in a way that he has never wanted a woman before and so he decides to join up with her father’s wagon train which is headed for an undisclosed location supposedly riddled with gold.  There is trouble right away, first with a man named Clive Massey and then with more and more of the men around him.  It doesn’t take long for Matt to figure out that something is amiss with the wagon train but then he had to convince other good men as well.  Will he be in time to save the innocent lives on the wagon train, as well as the life of his heart’s desire.

It seems that there are a lot of things to take joy from in this kind of western.  There are all of the American archetypes: the good man, the bad man, the business man, the fiery woman.  It was familiar and engrossing at the same time.  It was easy to get caught up in the environment and part of that was probably because it seemed so familiar from all of those old movies.

I listened to this on audio and it was a great book for driving.  It was plot driven enough to keep me excited and interested.  Who knew that I was missing out on such a good genre.  I can’t wait to try more because I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Blockade Billy by Stephen King

Hubby read Blockade Billy a while ago and decided to read “Mortality” a couple of weeks ago to finish up the book.  He sat on the couch and read for fifteen minutes, closed the book, and said, “You need to read the second story in here.”  I scoffed and said I would eventually and then he scoffed and I gave in a put this slim volume on the top of my stack.  Fine.  When I finished the book I was reading I could read “Mortality” as my short story.  I may as well read “Blockade Billy” too and finish up one more book even though I was in the middle of a short story collection.

Stephen King never disappoints though.

These two stories seemed a lot different from the older King I have been reading lately.  These are stories about people doing bad things.  Even The Shining, the last King book I finished, is about a paranormal baddie manifesting in a person.  These, however, are not horror stories.  I don’t know how to categorize them.  Crime stories?  I guess.

“Blockade Billy” is a story told through the eyes of an old man about baseball.  It’s hard for me to describe because I didn’t understand a lot of what was going on, not being able to understand sports at all myself.  It’s the story of a season started on strong footing and then collapsing after a horrifying discovery about one of the players.  Even with all of the stuff I didn’t understand it was a good read, a slow build.

“Morality” is the story of a couple just barely making ends meet and the opportunity to change their circumstances.  When the clergyman Nora works for asks her to fulfill a last wish for him in exchange for $200,000, tax free, her and her husband decide that they can’t do it.  Then that they can.  Then that they can’t.  Finally, intent of making the money and changing their fortunes, Nora sets out to sin clergyman’s place, an action that changes their fates in more way than one.

Tally Monday- October 26, 2015

Checked Out

  1. On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  2. Ms. Marvel II: Generation Why by G. Willow Wilson

Bought

  1. Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

Read

  1. Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  2. Blockade Billy by Stephen King

TBR: 34

The excitement of a package in the mail.  The excitement of a package coming a day early.  Coming home from a long day at work and finding a plastic back with a box and a padded envelope in it.  Knowing that that envelope contains the book that you have been excited about for months.  Knowing that that box contains the video game that your husband has been wanting.  Knowing that you will finally get to sit and read…  And then realizing that your life is completely out of control and that you are in the middle of, like, six books.

That was my Wednesday.

I realized that as excited as I was to finally have Welcome to Night Vale in my hands (and it is a PRETTY book), what I really wanted was some contentment and the best way to get contentment is to tie up some loose ends.  I added the book to the top of the stack and picked up the book that I could finish the fastest: Farmer Boy.  When that was done, I read “Blockade Billy” because I had read the other story in the book the week before and that would tick off another book.  Then I picked up New Moon again.

It may take me a while to get this under control but I really, really want to.  I don’t want to always have two stacks of books on my desk.  I don’t always want to feel like I have to hurry, hurry.  And just to prove my point…

I bought another book…

Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder

You can file the Little House books right along side all of the other books that I missed out on as a child because I wasn’t a very good reader.  I spent most of my childhood wanting to read big, thick books with awesome, amazing stories and not being able to because they were above my level.  Actually, I don’t know that I even wanted to read Little House when I was younger but I know that the desire hit me hard in my early 20’s.  A couple of months ago I decided to read children’s literature before bed in an attempt to give up the Kindle light that I suspected was making me sleep poorly.  I checked this out and got started.  Then it took my forever because I fall sleep so quickly and I was getting frustrated because I wanted to read other things.  Finally, last night I realized that I was half way through FOUR books and I needed to do something so I sat down and read the last 100 pages.

How could I not enjoy this?  The Wilder books are like a big game of Trivial Pursuit for me.  I have to look everything up that I haven’t heard of.  I need to know what vinegar pie is, you guys.  I NEED to know.  It’s just so cool to read about how things were done.  Like, there is a chapter about the cobbler and the whole time I was like, “Man!  My family were cobblers in Germany!  This is totally what they did!  Amazing!  I need more shoes!”

Part of the joy of the Little House books is how each chapter reads like a short story.  There are no cliff hangers.  The biggest cliff hanger in this book was whether or not Mother knew about the stain on the parlor wallpaper, which I kept expecting to come back up.  I don’t know how to explain the reading experience.  It’s like narrative nonfiction for me.  I WANT Almonzo to have a colt of his own but it isn’t a driving plot.  The plot is the wheel of the year.

Almonzo is a great character.  He is a little boy who wants to be good but can’t always be.  He doesn’t like school because he likes to be doing things but he is smart.  He looks up to his father and wants to be just like him and is ashamed when he isn’t.  It would be interesting to see an Almonzo in a more modern book.  I wonder how he would carry over?

I expected to return Farmer Boy and feel good that I had one less book checked out.  Instead I picked up On the Banks of Plum Creek while I was at it.

Tally Monday- October 19, 2015

Checked Out

  1. Riders of High Rock by Louis L’amour

Bought

  1. King’s Dragon by Kate Elliott
  2. Prince of Dogs by Kate Elliott
  3. Coraline by Neil Gaiman (e-book)
  4. National Geographic Tales of the Weird

Read

  1. Twilight by Stephanie Meyer
  2. “Morality” by Stephen King

TBR: 33

Tis the season to start spending money on people.  I don’t mind spending money on people.  I love to make my friends and family happy.  I’m just not particularly good at it.  Seriously.  I am horrible at buying gifts.  I have no idea what to buy anyone and I am on a budget.  My Christmas Club is never big enough to be much of a help.  This year I’ve decided to make some gifts for friends and to buy gifts for the family, one person per check.  To kick off this holiday shopping season, I take care of the first gift to be given:  Hubby’s birthday present.  Hubby’s birthday is in early November but with all of the budgeting and planning I may as well include it in my Christmas shopping.

What does this have to do with my reading life?

I may have just ordered his gift early with two day shipping from Amazon because I needed to order a book anyway.  Shit.  I am selfish.  But his gift will be here two weeks early and Welcome to Night Vale will be here two days after release date.  I was TRYING to get free shipping, you guys.  Come on.  (Also, I was thinking that the sooner we got his gift, the more reading time I would have.  Shhh.)

It feels like fall is slipping away from me.  Because it is.  What I need is a day to sit on the couch and read with kitties and tea and blankies.  Don’t we all?  But I also need a couple of pumpkins and some cider and horror movies and hoodies.  Life is kind of like that.

I am currently experiencing the disconnect that I completely forgot from my first read of New Moon.  In Twilight I decided that Bella wasn’t that bad.  Actually, she was kind of cool.  She was stubborn.  She was writing a paper about feminism.  She was strong.  Who cared if she was swooney too?  Then I started New Moon and it’s like I’m reading about a completely different character.  She’s so washed out!  She’s so… CLINGY!  Man, it’s almost embarrassing to read.  I’m going to power through though, starting right after I finish this post.  I’m going to take a break and read for a bit.

Tonight, I would like nothing more than to go home and set myself up in bed and eat some pot pie or stew and read.  (Yes, I will eat stew in bed.  Don’t you judge me.)  Alas, I have to help move some furniture because…. WE’RE GETTING ANOTHER SHELF!  My brother in law has gifted us an entertainment center which we will be putting in Hubby’s room and piling with books.  He has a whole plan to make a little reading nook with a couple of wall mounted shelves and his armchair.  I’m actually a little jealous.

Let me close with this tale of Hubby’s room:  Half of the basement is Hubby’s room which we have been discussing turning into a music room for a while now.  It currently houses his guitars and two drum sets, only one of which is ours, plus all of the stuff he had in his room at his old apartment.  Well, one night he was jamming with our drummer friend and as they were walking out of the room, D said, “Hey man, are your shelves supposed to lean like that?”  Hubby had bought one of those five shelf shelves for super cheap and it was leaning a little to the side.  Hubby shrugged and forgot about it.  Until the next day when the whole thing came crashing down.  We actually walked over a pile of books and splintered shelf for a while.

We have problems.

On Rereading Twilight for the 10th Anniversary

A couple of weeks ago I heard that it was the 10th anniversary of the publication of Twilight and that Meyers was releasing a gender swapped version for the occasion.  I was… charmed.  I like how Meyers argued that she wanted to show that Bella was not a damsel in distress but a person in distress.  I read the series for the first time about seven years ago.  At the time I was in a pretty unhealthy relationship and I was working on my masters degree and working every extra hour I could.  Still, I flew through all four books in two weeks, often lifting my eyes only to glare at him for not being Edward.

As the years wore on, I left that relationship and I got a lot better sense of self and I started hanging around people who really valued me and my opinions, people who encouraged me and thought that I was smart.  It was easy in the next couple of years to change my opinion of Twilight.  With the arrival of a new boyfriend who loved to make fun of it, I found myself making fun of it.  Just two years ago I checked it out, thinking I might reread it, but easily set it aside after a brush with Fifty Shades.  No, I could not handle trash.

But this time was different.  I could remember being completely absorbed by the series and I wanted that feeling again.  I decided to go into it without the influence of other opinions and I tried to treat it like a first time read.  Really, seven years is long enough to pretend that I’ve never read it.  And I loved the experience.  I really did.  Part of it was that I could suddenly see myself as Bella.  I would make the move to make my mother happy.  I would try to take care of my father.  I had super intense crushes.

The other reason I liked it so much this time?  I have met the love of my life and I know what love is like.  I know that the arguments Bella and Edward have are a lot like the arguments I have with Hubby, both of us bull headed and sure that we are right.

Not to mention, the giggle factor.  Man, did I giggle.  Maybe I am just more willing to let myself enjoy that girly part of me now.  Plus, I am totally jealous of all the extra reading times vampires have and am down with sparkles.

Adjusting My Goals

Every year for a long time now, maybe even a decade, I have set the goal of reading 100 books in the year.  I have accomplished this goal twice.  The first time was the first full year that I lived in my house.  I did not have television, only an old set and a DVD player.  I lived alone most of the year, though Hubby and I spent a lot of time at each other’s places.  The Tigers were in the World Series, affording me hours of reading time while Hubby watched.  The environment was right.  The second time I met the goal was last year and I can only say that it is most likely because I read a lot of graphic novels and Captain Underpants.

This year I upped my goal to 125 books.  Why?  Because I actually read 104 books last year and I decided to count my aubiobooks toward my total.  Previously, I just listened to them as a bonus, not counting them as books read.

Then, this morning, I admitted to myself that I am not going to make it.  It’s not that I don’t want to it’s that, well, I guess I don’t know how to explain it.  If I pushed myself to reach my goal for the year, I would not enjoy the reading as much.  I would not enjoy life as much.  Pushing myself to reach my goal would mean never listening to my morning show or music while I’m in the car.  It would mean not getting sucked into an episode of NCIS with Hubby, shouting our predictions at the screen.  It would mean not going to trivia night at the local brewery.  But, and this is super important, it would mean not getting sucked into a book and letting it wash over me bit by bit.

Today I logged onto Goodreads and I lowered my goal to 105 books.  It’s true that I may not reach it.  In fact, I probably wont.  On the other hand, I already feel better about it.  I know that the next couple of months are going to be loaded with great books, great friends, and great times.