Thursday, May 25, 2017

NetGalley Review of Bad Housekeeping by Maia Chance

I love this author from The Fairy Tale Fatal series and was not disappointed in this first book with a brand new premise and set of very likable characters. The highlight has to be the humor - I have a friend who can't wait to read it when it comes out because I've constantly told her how funny this book is. I'll definitely be watching for more.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

NetGalley Review of New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

3/5 stars
A skillful reworking  of Shakespeare's Othello with accurate character, plot, and tonal elements. The thing that bothered me throughout was the age of the dramatic players; I feel like they should be just a couple years older.  Having 11 year-olds in sexually and socially volatile circumstances was disturbing, and not in an artistically plausible way. A fatal flaw for me.

NetGalley Review of Goblin by Ever Dundas

3/5 stars

Not really my favorite genre, but I think this one would appeal to millennials who like their stories a bit on the dark side. Mystery and psychological realism give a new angle on the usual WW2 survival story.

Friday, May 12, 2017

NetGalley Review of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

4.5/5 stars

A character study that will stay with you for a long time, alongside Ove, CeeCee Honeycutt, and Queenie Hennessy. It may be Gail Honeyman's first novel, but I certainly hope it isn't her last. An incredibly satisfying read.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon Checking In

Just posting here since I haven't for awhile. I have spent more time at the book sale, reading posts, and doing Mini Challenges than actual reading, but I am still feeling good and getting close to finishing News of the World.

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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Used book sale

I am woefully behind in my hours reading because. . .well, because. . . shopping

Dewey's Readathon Hour 9 Mini Challenge

Dewey's Readathon Hour 8 Mini Challenge

The challenge:
For this challenge, I want to hear about the books that inspire and empower you. The books that—when you turn the last page—make you feel recharged. The books that motivate you to jump up and go get it, whatever the referent for “it” is.

My response:
I read primarily (as in well over 90%) fiction, but one of the nonfiction books that I absolutely devoured and recommend to everyone is I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai. How can anyone not be inspired by that girl?? I also find inspiration in my old pal Frodo who, despite his size and resources, stays the course and changes the world, even at great cost to himself. Finally, I love the Myrtle Clover cozy mystery series by Elizabeth Craig because Myrtle is an 80+ year-old retired English teacher who is so full of spunk and energy that most people pale in comparison.

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Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon Book Stack

We all need options, right?

Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon Opening Survey

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
     Pennsylvania, USA

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
     I hope to finish News of the World by Paulette Jiles

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
     I am a college professor, and next week is finals week, so I am  
     absolutely buried in papers.  On a personal note, I am looking forward 
     to summer break where I can garden and tend to my chickens.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

NetGalley Review of A Shadow Land

by Elizabeth Kostova

I loved Kostova's first book, The Historian, but was less enamoured with The Swan Thieves. As I started The Shadow Land, I was looking for the dark underworld - perhaps some more vampires? It took me quite a while to let go of that idea and realize that this is just an absolutely captivating, suck-you-in-and-transport-you-to-a-different-world piece of historical fiction. The descriptions of 20th and 21st century Bulgaria are exceptional, and the characters are sympathetic from the first chapter. An excellent read.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

GoodReads Review of Beloved

A deserving winner of the Pulitzer, this is a poetic story of the gut-wrenching everyday reality of African Americans in the years just before, during, and just after the Civil War. I highly, highly recommend the audiobook that is narrated by the author. Completely and utterly spell-binding.

NetGalley Review of Chasing Understanding in the Jungles of Vietnam

I'll start by saying that the quality of writing in this one is not stellar. There are passages that feel wordy and repetitive, and instances where the narrative is fairly mechanical (more "telling" than "showing"). However, my overall impression is still a positive one. I've read a good number of war memoirs, the majority being from the Vietnam War, and I have lamented the fact that they were primarily told from the perspective of a relatively high-ranking member of the military. I wanted the voice of the draftee, the "grunt," and this is what Beed delivers. I also appreciate his explanation of military terminology throughout to clarify elements of the story. A worthwhile read.

Friday, March 10, 2017

GoodReads Review of Homegoing

3.5/5 stars
The writing, imagery, and the characters are top-notch in this one. The challenge lies in the design: each chapter beginning anew with the another character from the family tree given at the beginning of the book. It is an interesting premise, but ultimately one that seems artificial in a way. Also, covering hundreds of years and thousands of miles in barely 300 pages forces Gyasi to just give a nod to each character and situation before moving on. Perhaps if it were marketed as a collection of interrelated short stories, it would feel better.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

NetGalley Review of Pachinko

An excellent work of historical fiction that begins in Korea in 1910 and follows four generations to Japan in 1989. The view of an immigrant family's struggles with identity and cultural acceptance seems especially poignant for a reader in the USA of 2017. 4/5 stars

NetGalley Review of Remains of Life

For an American reader, Remains of Life is reminiscent of Faulkner and Joyce as well as the postmodern metafiction writers of the 1960s and 70s. The cultural commentary can be difficult to find due to the artistic choices; it is unclear if this is an effect of the cultural divide or the translation.  Regardless, the English version effectively  conveys  the complexity of the social situation at hand and skillful blends cerebral stream-of-consciousness contemplation with gritty, real-time characters and episodes.

Popular fiction readers should be prepared for the experimental nature of the text.  I can see it appealing to a small demographic of academics. 3/5 stars

NetGalley Review of An Ishmael of Syria

The book shows the angst and brutality of the political situation in Syria, specifically for innocent civilians. It is difficult for a Westerner to follow the many characters and references, and the tone of the book swings wildly between raw, graphic, disturbing imagery and prose that is highly cerebral and academic. Thematically, the concept makes sense, but in execution, it is difficult to read and comprehend. 2/5 stars.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Goodreads Presidents' Day Readathon

I am in a group on Goodreads (75 Books) that is having a readathon this weekend. Many members committed to reading books that they already own to work towards a clear spot on a shelf (like it will stay that way ;)

As most of you know, I adore a good readathon, so I jumped into this one with both feet. At 2:00 this morning, I finished The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald, and I am currently about 25% through Maus by Art Spiegelman.

I have finally seen the light regarding the motivational factor of short reads during a readathon. A finish on the first day is pretty exciting!

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

24 in 48 Hour Forty-two Challenge

Here is the challenge:

That’s your next challenge: which five bookish people (or animals, I’m not picky) would be around your perfect literary dinner table? 

And here is my response:

Hobie from The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Myrtle Clover (from the cozy mystery series by Elizabeth Craig) to keep these men in line
Oliver Twist (because no matter how bad my cooking is, he will ask for more)

24 in 48 Hour Thirty-six Challenge

Here is the challenge:

So this hour’s challenge is to post a comment with your favorite #ownvoices recommendations. If you’re not familiar with it, #ownvoices describes books written by authors that identify with the same marginalized group as the protagonists that they’re writing. This could include authors that identify as and are writing characters that are POCs, disabled, LGBTQ+, non-cisgender, etc.

And here is my response:

Louise Erdrich and Sherman Alexie (Native American)
Amy Tan and Lisa See (Chinese American)

24 in 48 Hour Thirty Challenge

(Sorry I missed a few; I'm battling a cold this weekend and just couldn't wake up.)

Here is the challenge:

For this hour’s challenge, you’re going to help me with a little bit of activism. Take a picture of your very best rainbow book stack, and comment below with a link to your photo. For every photo, I will personally donate $1 to the Human Rights Campaign, in support of its mission of advocating for LGBTQ equality. Just in case you need a reminder, a rainbow’s color order is redorange, yellow, green, blueindigo and violet.

And here is my response:

Saturday, January 21, 2017

24 in 48 Hour Eighteen Challenge

Herre is the challenge:

I’ve seen lots of great readathon TBR stacks in my feeds, and now I want to see another kind of photo. We’ve already done shelfies, but this time I want to see your best spine poetry. Construct your best poem from book titles on your shelves, take a photo, and post a link to that photo and the resulting poem in a comment below. (Add punctuation as you see fit.)

And here  is my response:

What if
the people
that time forgot
this journal?
Take the monkey,
and run.

24 in 48 Hour Fifteen Challenge

Here is the question:

What’s your reading strategy for this weekend? Are you reading comics? Novellas? Short books? A series? Or one long doorstopper? I’m personally taking bites out of a few different books I’m in a middle of, plus an audiobook or two.  Are you reading on a theme? From a set TBR? Or just whatever strikes your fancy? 

And here is my response:

I'm planning to finish my current novel, LaRose by Louise Erdrich this evening and then see where my mood takes me. I was thinking about a quick, cozy mystery, but after the discussion from Hour Twelve, I may see if Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood is available from my library’s E-resources.

24 in 48 Hour Twelve Challenge

Here is the challenge:

Thousands and thousand of women are marching in Washington, DC and across the country in local marches to protest our new administration. Women from all over are banding together to promote intersectional feminist ideals and demonstrate that together, we are stronger, and we’ve got no time for their ish. I wish I could be out there marching with all the badass ladies, but instead, I’ll be celebrating my favorite activists and feminists with some patriarchy-smashing reads. Your Hour Twelve challenge is this: in the comments, tell me either who you’d like to be marching with today or what feminist books you’re reading in solidarity?

And here is my response:

First today, as every day, I send all the love and strength and power that I have in this universe to my beautiful daughter.  Next, in direct response,

I have a coworker and a student marching in D.C., and an aunt marching in Charlotte, N.C. My primary read this weekend is LaRose by Louise Erdrich. While not necessarily considered a “feminist” writer, I can’t think of another who creates stronger, more inspiring female characters. In my to-read pile, I have Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood and The Meaning of Michelle by Veronica Chambers.

24 in 48 Hour Six Challenge

Here is the challenge:

Show me your shelfie! More specifically, stop what you’re doing, and snap a selfie with one or more of the books you’re reading today. Post your photo on the social media outlet of your choice and post a link to the pic in the comments below. 

And here is my response:

24 in 48 Checking In

I have two hours of reading logged and am optimistic that I can finish LaRose by Louise Erdrich this weekend. Time for a few zzzz's. Night, all'

24 in 48 Kickoff Post

Ready, set, GO!

The goal is to read for 24 of this weekend's 48 hours and post updates. Come, join the fun at

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Bout of Books Progress Post - Day 7

This is it, the last day!

On Sunday I read three chapters of A Separate Peace and half a chapter of Kiss the Boys Goodbye (they are long, heavy chapters!).

Overall, I didn't get as much read as I would have liked; I didn't really meet my goal, but I did make progress and enjoyed the event, as always.

Thank you, Bout of Books!

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Sunday, January 8, 2017

Bout of Books Progress Post - Days 5 & 6

Friday was a bit of a wash. I managed a couple chapters of A Dyeing Shame and a few pages of Kiss the Boys Goodbye. Life interrupted. So rude.

Saturday was better for reading. I finished A Dyeing Shame, read a chapter of Kiss the Boys Goodbye, and read 25% of my first NetGalley book, An Ishmael of Syria by Asaad Almohammad.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Bout of Books Day 5 Challenge

Here is today's challenge:


If You Like This, Try This

Since we all love recommending books, here's your chance to share the love.
Example: If you like paranormal romance with bloodthirsty vikings, try Shelly Laurenston's Call of Crows series

And here is my response:

If you like characters that will stay with you forever, try Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.

Bout of Books Progress Post - Day 4

On Thursday I read just a couple chapters of A Dying Shame.

When I was looking through my books for Book Spine Poetry, I pulled out Kiss the Boys Goodbye (a very disturbing exploration of the MIA/POWs never returned from the Viet Nam War) and somehow ended up reading about 20 pages, so it is now on my current reading list. Sometimes I think these books are driving the bus and I'm just along for the ride.

My goal for Friday is to finish A Dyeing Shame.

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Bout of Books Day 4 Challenge

Here is today's challenge:

Book Spine Poetry

A perennial favorite is back! Go hunting through your books and unleash your inner poet! Use the titles of your chosen books to create a poem. Snap a picture of your creation and share it.

And here is my response:

Bout of Books Progress Post - Day 3

On Wednesday I finished The Coldest War (finally), got my 2017 challenge lists and groups finalized and organized, and started A Dyeing Shame (Myrtle Clover Mysteries #3) by Elizabeth Spann Craig. I made it about 30% through before I dozed off.

Another reading-related event: I recently signed up from NetGalley and, thinking that I would maybe be approved for one book, requested three. The first one was instantly downloadable, and I was notified today that I am approved for the other two. I now have three books to read and review. From now on, I'll need to request one book at a time and wait a week before requesting another.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Bout of Books Day 3 Challenge

Here is today's challenge:

Book to Movie
Have a book you think would make an excellent movie? Now's your chance to share it! Go as big or as simple as you want. Share fanart, casting choices, or just a book or series you think would be OUTSTANDING on the big screen.

And here is my response:

When I went to my book log to find an answer to this challenge, I didn't have to look very far. My book club read The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker in December 2016, and we all loved it. It is set in NYC in the early 1900s, which would provide a great historical backdrop for set and costume designers.  The title characters are awesome and each struggles with a combination of humanity and the supernatural, providing lots of options for special effects and exceptional acting.  I am not much of a film expert and am therefore horrible at casting, but I'd love to hear suggestions from anyone who has read the book.

My film expert friend has suggested Brooke Shields as the golem and Oded Fehr as the jinni.

Bout of Books Progress Post - Day 2

Well, I came close to my goal of finishing The Coldest War on Day 2. I spent too much time working and then making reading challenge lists and posting in new groups, or I could have made it. As it was, it took me until the wee hours of the morning of Day 3 (Wednesday) to get to the last page.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Bout of Books Day 2 Challenge

So, today's challenge is "2017 in a Picture." We are supposed to share our goals (reading, life, other, etc.) in photo form.  As usual, I have created a monster list of challenges, groups, and activities to keep my reading fun for the year.  Here's the visual version:

An ongoing challenge of reading books by authors from every country in the world.

Another ongoing challenge.

Bout of Books Progress Post - Day 1

I read eight chapters of The Coldest War by James Brady. This one is going sooooooo slowly. There are nine chapters and an epilogue left. I hope to finish it tomorrow.

I decided that I need something light between this one and my next one (An Ishmael in Syria), so I selected a cozy mystery (A Dyeing Shame by Elizabeth Spann Craig) from my Kindle library and downloaded it.

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Monday, January 2, 2017

Bout of Books Day 1

Today's challenge is to introduce myself in six words:

college professor, world literature, book clubs

As a bonus, we are encouraged to post a photo of ourselves or our bookshelves.  I took a screen shot of my latest books read, according to GoodReads:

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Bout of Books 18

It's time for my first readathon of 2017 - Bout of Books!  With all of the excitement of new challenges and new books in the new year, what better way to get started?

This week I hope to finish The Coldest War by James Brady and start (and maybe even finish!) An Ishmael of Syria by Asaad Almohammad, which is my first NetGalley book.

Ready, set, GO!

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda Shofner and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 2nd and runs through Sunday, January 8th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 18 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team