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Showing posts from 2017

Review: Uprooted

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Warning: ahead be spoilers. Continue at your own risk.

I was looking for a book that was a good October read (fantasy or something equally unique) that wasn't a series, a fete increasingly hard to accomplish. I had begun listening to it a few months ago, and it was interesting, so I gave myself a reason to carry on.

I am so glad I did. That was one rocking, rollicking ride!  Every time I thought a storyline was resolved and wondered what in the world could come next, Naomi Novik came up with something totally original, logical to the story, and fantastic. 

It felt like an Old World fairy tale, and the audiobook reader had a Polish accent - which, after reading the afterward, made total sense. I also thought it was brilliant to include Baba Yaga, the European witch of lore, and introducing Jaga was a very subtle move to provide that element and make it feel as old as that tale.

As much as I love the first line — indeed, the first paragraph — the story started out a little slow for me, …

Review: Origin

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I love Dan Brown. From Angels & Demons to The DaVinci Code, he was on-point. I'll never forget the early excitement and thrill of the chase with the brilliant Harvard swimmer — er, professor.

But my love for Robert Langdon and his adventures thins out in subsequent novels, and Origin doesn't revive it.

In fact, I stopped reading Brown's latest novel about a quarter of the way through.I feel like I kept reading a lot longer than I wanted, but I was trying to get to the "good part" before I surrendered.

Origin made me start counting how many ways smiles could be used as adjectives. The villain nearly twirled his big black mustache every time he appeared on the page. The villain was so much like Silas, deep in his misguided faith in his boss and his deity, I kept expecting references to albinism.

I appreciated Brown's patient, thorough, and loving description of the Guggenheim Bilbao; someday, I may return to the book just to see to what other geographic loc…

Summer Reading: Did You Make It Count?

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Happy autumn! 

It's been a busy reading summer. I tried to keep the pages turning relatively consistently as the summer progressed, but at times battled reading ennui

However, I refused to be thwarted, and managed to get a couple dozen books under my belt under the summer sun — or in the summer air conditioning. Either way, I read.

I didn't beat my personal best — that would be summer 2015 — but I read widely and bravely. Plus, I read multiple books at a time, so my TBR shelf continues to groan from books begun in the heat of summer.

I re-read The Magicians, because the author will be at this year's Fall for the Book Festival. When I originally read it a few years ago, I really wanted to like it. This summer, I can honestly say I liked it, and have just begun reading the second novel in the series. 

I discovered some great graphic novels, including one about a young girl with cystic fibrosis and her older sister's understanding of loss. In contrast, I did not like a new-t…

Summer Reading: August Reads

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August was my month away from most social media (and a few other distractions), so I finished quite a few books.

I got into a groove with a few graphic novels. I laughed, I cried, I coveted the skill of illustration. (My stick figures frighten children, so I don't doodle. I take copious notes. Seriously, people, even my less than stellar handwriting is better than my doodles.)

I met a few characters I never knew, including relatives of daring adventurers pressed into service in a steampunk world and an impetuous man-child who really needed the very role model he lost.

I indulged my new interest in mystery novels with a couple of ridiculously fun novels that featured smart women and their cats. (I could have done without the romance, but at least one of the series isn't too sappy about it.)

I read a new novel by an old favorite author — and hated it.

I read a book I read once before, a few years ago, and all the while kept wondering why it was so familiar.

And, just hours befor…

Gone Reading!

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August is Summer Reading Program go-time!

Looking for a good book? E-mail me for suggestions, or pick a title or two from my summer reading list:

The DescentWolf HallBone SeasonThe Keeper of Lost ThingsThe Book of HarlanThe Clockwork ScarabCrooked Letter, Crooked Letter The Sixth Extinction

See you in September — let's compare our reading list successes then!

Summer Reading: The July Update

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My summer reading is progressing deliciously. I continue to savor the wonderful Pride and Prejudice, days after the final words were spoken to me by the lovely Rosamund Pike.

I loved that book not just because the audio version was wonderful, but the book itself was amazing. I knew the story from various resources, but each different performance could nowhere nearly match the magic of the original. I suspect I shall re-read this classic more than once in the coming years.

Additionally, I think I found another Desert Island Book.

But Darcy Love aside (and I mean Elizabeth), I am enjoying the summer. I stay up much later than I should and choose books based on my whim.

To date, I have finished the following:
RuinedThe Burning PageSpeaking from Among the BonesThe Inexplicable Logic of My LifeBig Little LiesAnna KareninaThe Lies that BindMy Best EverythingForgotten BonesThe Handmaid's TalePride and Prejudice

I am currently reading:
Star Wars: Jedi AcademyThe MiniaturistThe Clockwork ScarabTh…

Listening to the Classics: How They Were Intended?

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What if we are meant to listen to classic novels?

I asked myself that as Rosamund Pike thrilled me this evening with her reading of Pride and Prejudice, a well-known romance novel with a timeless plot and enjoyable characters. (My personal favorite re-telling is set in India with a cast that included the former Miss World. And elephants. And hijra.) 

As I listened to the actress who played Jane in a Hollywood version reading (and appreciate the stuffy and breathy Mr. Collins all the more because of her), I realized the cadence and presentation of the language easily lent itself to audio enjoyment. (Thanks, Audible!)

I also thoroughly enjoyed Juliet Stevenson reading Sense and Sensibility last year — so much so that I purchased the book to enjoy again. 

I have listened to Anna Karenina being read by Maggie Gyllenhaal (but only snippets so far), and was transfixed by the throaty tones of the reader and her obvious affection for the work.

David finished The Picture of Dorian Gray with the ass…

Summer Reading: How is it Coming Along?

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Summer is in full swing now, and so is summer reading. 

Well, it can be. 

It should be. (I mean, it's summer!)

So, how is your summer reading coming along?

My summer reading is ebbing and flowing. When we last met this intrepid reader, I was experiencing a surprising level of book ennui. I could not find my groove. I looked, I skimmed, and yet nothing launched me into the book frenzy I sought.

I have completed eight books in seven weeks. Not bad, but I have done better.

What am I reading now?


The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. I read it when it was first released 31 years ago, and it chills me as much — if not more — now than then. This time, I am listening to Claire Danes read it to me, and I am enjoying her narration. When I read the book without her, I still hear her in my head. (Thanks, Claire!)The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes. He makes his case, relentlessly. It's an interesting book, but I think he's trying to trim a bonsai with a power saw. It may be me, but …

Library Loot: Bones, Bookbinding, and a Mystery

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When it comes to Library Loot, I'm a slacker.

Upon reviewing the last few Library Loot articles, I discovered I did not read those books in their entirety. If anything, my eyes are too big for my bookshelf.

At any rate, I persist. And who knows: I may read at least one book from this recent looting!

First of all, book displays were meant for me to loot. I don't care who the intended audience is, when I'm intrigued, I take a book. The slim volume of Forgotten Bones will be an introduction into slave burial sites — this one in New York. Our past is never very far behind us, and this is an excellent reminder.

I also can't wait to delve into the Roanoke settlers mystery — I read about this new book, and about a recent finding announced in the Smithsonian, which makes me very excited.

David is a fan of comics, and I thought he'd like to learn more about comic books.

Finally, I needed to visit Brooklyn Wainwright again. This will be the third try at reading the third book in h…

Discovering a Wonder-Full New-to-Me Bookstore

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I have tried to expand my resources for books. I am a sucker for used books, but it's not always easy to find a reliable, interesting, and affordable used bookstore in the real world.

Oh, we always have the online behemoth, and a few other Web favorites, but sometimes you just need a room full of books you haven't yet purchased or borrowed.

So began the adventure: choosing the new-to-me bookstore within driving distance. We discovered the lovely Hole in the Wall on a whim, so why not meet Wonder Book and Video?

When I walked in, I knew I came to the right place. This was similar to Acres of Books, may it rest in peace, and Hole in the Wall Books, with narrow corridors of bookshelves. Wonder Book featured lots of narrow corridors that lured book lovers deeper and deeper into the labyrinth.

"Chris?" I heard David call once.

"Hey honey, I'm in Modern Fiction. Mostly hardbacks and trade paperbacks. To your left." Moments later, he peeked down my row, relie…

Library Loot: Roy, Tolle, Fellowes, and Knots

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This week's library loot experience took me to a rarely-visited branch of my library system for a book not for myself.

My husband David wanted to read a book by Eckhart Tolle, which was available at a branch of the library he passes in his travels every week. Apparently I never took him into that library, which I find hard to believe, but it could happen. (In a strange alternate universe, but still.) We resolved that issue immediately.
I took a lap around the lovely little library, checking out the "new books" section, the audiobook shelves, and the "Friends of the Library Book Sale" shelves. My audible gasp caused at least one patron to turn toward me (sorry!), but as I reached for Arundhati Roy's new release, I couldn't help it. It's a 14-day book, so heaven help me finish it on time, but I'll give it the old college try.
(Full disclosure: I began listening to The God of Small Things last year, but stopped after a very short time. That was about …

Summer Reading: Book Ennui

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Entire weekends of reading! Long nights of nothing but book time! It's summer! Woo hoo!

Well, don't spill your lemonade, but this year's summer reading is starting off very slowly for me.

You'd think that I'd have more than two book under my belt after three weeks of summer reading.

Nope, just two. A whopping 461 completed pages. A fabulous 461 pages that includes a Pulitzer Prize-winning play, but still a paltry sum of pages and books.

Oh, don't get me wrong: I'm reading. My nightstand reading stack is dwindling, somewhat. I am nearly halfway through Anna Karenina, and I can see the end of Speaking From Among the Bones (which I began months ago — yes, months).

I'm just not tossing back the books at a breakneck speed as intended.

I will continue to plug along, and pick up interesting books along the way. I won't break down, but I will limp along a little slower than anticipated. Wish me luck!

What do you do when you experience book ennui? Do you di…

Library Loot: Three Print Books and an Audiobook

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I went to the library this week and got some loot: I borrowed two books and purchased a third, only one of which is on my original summer reading list. 

(Like that's a surprise. We all know I make the list, I chuckle, and then a I reach for whatever I darned well please. Hey, it's summer reading: no rules, just reading! Plus, can you blame me if I stray with so many great choices?)

I shall read at least one this weekend, possibly two (if I am ambitious). 

I am excited that one is Ruined, a Pulitzer Prize-winning play by a playwright new to me, and the others are by authors I know and enjoy. I have encountered Lynn Nottage in numerous articles lately, so it's really a sort of sign that she is in my loot today.

I also am excited about listening to Eric Weiner's new book. I so enjoyed his Geography of Blissand I can't wait to see what he has to say about "genius."

As for Cristina HenrĂ­quez's book, I almost didn't leave the library before starting it. Her …

Summer Reading Has Begun!

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Summer means reading — and summer reading club! 

Remember back in the day, when reading came with rewards? In my local library, readers would have their names posted with the number of titles read during the summer. One year, I read 4o books. My librarian was skeptical — then she remembered how I sat in the library for hours at a time, reading. Forty it was.

Getting a shout-out From One Book Lover may not be as cool as having your name posted on the Norwalk Library children's section activity board, but it's still not bad. 

Visit your library (public or private), your local bookstores and thrift shops, yard sales and online book suppliers, friends and family, and choose what books look like they need to be read this summer.

So here's what I hope to consume this summer between the Memorial Day weekend and the first weekend in autumn. This year, that date is Friday, May 26 through Sunday, September 24.
First of all, please take a moment to think about Memorial Day, and understand…