Book Date: 10/31/16

untitled It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It’s a great post to organise yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date. And here we are!

This is my first time joining in with Book Date. I see it around a lot and I need some type of prompt where I can ramble and write more freely than just book reviews. I used to be a faithful Sunday Salon poster but ever since I came back to my blog earlier this year, I’ve noticed two things. 1. Not many bloggers post Sunday Salon anymore and 2. I suck at remembering to post on Sundays. I am usually out and about doing fun things with my family and also catching up on housework and such, so blogging is less of a priority. I am excited to jump into Book Date though and see how it goes!

I had a pretty rough reading week last week. I couldn’t settle on an ebook to save my life. The thing about ebooks is I read them on my phone, and I only read them when I absolutely cannot read my print book (ie when I am laying with my kids at night to get them to sleep). So ebooks are not my preferred reading method and as such, I have a more difficult time getting into them.

img_1965-1

I was thrilled to see that my library had The Witches available on Overdrive (seriously, every single book I want to read usually has a million holds on Overdrive) . And what awesome timing–I was trying to keep with a Halloween theme for the second part of the month and this obviously fit the bill. Unfortunately though, I just couldn’t get into it. I admit, I barely gave it a chance, but it just wasnt’t striking my fancy.

My other bail of the week was A Discovery of Witches. To quit on this really hurt me. I held on for longer than I normally would, the reason being that I saw SO MANY positive posts about it on Litsy. It seemed like everyone was reading it and loving it and the fact that it’s a trilogy really sealed it for me because I love getting invested in a series I love (which never seems to actually happen for me). But 115 pages I had to admit I wasn’t enjoying it at all. And wouldn’t you know, as soon as I posted that it wasn’t for me, I got a lot of agreement. And then I decided maybe it wasn’t just me. That’s not to say it’s not a good book, because I did find it well written. I am just not one for witches and vampires, and in that respect it gave me a bit of a Twilight vibe.

9780751554120

My current book was actually chosen for me by my husband. I was enjoying a leisurely bath when I decided I simply couldn’t continue with A Discovery of Witches, so I texted my husband to please grab me a new book posthaste. He showed up in the bathroom with I See You, by Clare Mackintosh. I loved her first book, I Let You Go, so much, that I was thrilled to discover she had a new book coming out in 2017. And wouldn’t you know, it has already been published in the UK and was available on Book Depository  for $11 and change. I couldn’t submit my order fast enough.

I have less than a hundred pages to go and I am determined to finish it before the end of the day, because October reading stats and all. #booknerdproblems. I can say assuredly now that Clare Mackintosh is a must read author for me. I look forward to reading the ending of this one.

As for where the rest of the week will take me reading wise, we’ll have to see! What are you currently reading?

Advertisements

Book Review: Siracusa

th

Siracusa

Delia Ephron

Blue Rider Press

304 pages

Synopsis:

Two couples, Michael and Lizzie and Finn and Taylor (along with daughter Snow), decide to take a European trip together. The dynamic is a little off from the start, because Lizzie and Finn were formerly in a relationship years ago–and are both pondering whether they still harbor romantic feelings towards one another– and the two couples aren’t necessarily even friends.

The vacation starts out normal enough, but as the couples spend more time on their trip, more marital issues arise, and all four adults begin to question their respective marriages and life choices.

My feelings:

I added this on as a Book of the Month choice in September and was very hesitant about it, for one simple reason–the reviews. Siracusa‘s Litsy percentage is currently 64% and may have been even lower when it was first announced as a BOTM choice in August, so at the time I decided not to take a chance on it. But it just kept niggling at me (I love stories that examine marriage and romantic relationships), so I bit the bullet the following month and I am so glad I did.

I LOVED Siracusa.

The narrative is set up so that all four adults take turns relating their version of the events of the trip. And considering there are always multiple sides to a single story, I thought it was very effective in a book that is specifically about troubled marriages. I really enjoyed that each partner got to tell their own side and that I was able to see the struggles and happenings from multiple perspectives.

This is a very quick read, and kept me rapt throughout the book. I read it in 24 hours and have been recommending it left and right. I am now wondering how Ephron’s other novels compare to this one. I would love to hear any recommendations!

 

Book Review: A Gentleman in Moscow

A-Gentleman-in-Moscow.jpg

A Gentleman in Moscow

Amor Towles

Viking

462 pages

Synopsis:

Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced  by the Bolsheviks to house arrest in a luxury hotel called the Metropol in 1922. Exiled from his opulent rooms into attic quarters, the Count spends his days dining in the various hotel restaurants, where he eventually meets Nina, a 9 year old girl who also lives in the hotel. Nina loves involving the Count in her capers and the two become fast friends and confidantes.

As the years continue and the Count spends decades in the hotel, he learns to make a new life for himself within the confining walls. His life has changed drastically, but he is able to carve out a content life for himself with an interesting collection on friends and acquaintances.

Thoughts:

This was the book my family and I chose for our September Book of the Month Club pick. I’ll be honest, I would have read it either way because I loved Rules of Civility so much, and I was over the moon when I saw it was a BOTM choice.

The atmosphere of A Gentleman in Moscow was very compelling. A count living in an opulent Russian hotel–the setting was just superb. I was worried with it being a 450+ book that the lack of different settings would become tiresome, but it really didn’t.

As wonderful as the setting was, Towles really shines when it comes to character development. I saw another reader comment that they would love to sit down and have dinner with the Count. I love that, it’s so true. He’s just such contemplative character with so many great stories to tell. And I loved the characters of Nina (especially) and Sophia. They added an impish element to the book that made it fun to read.

I do think the book was a bit lengthy. And I have been warning family and friends that it is a book you really have to sink your teeth into and devote good chunks of time to. It was a labor of love to read, and I mean that in a positive way. One of my sisters wanted to take it on her honeymoon and I told her not to, only because I felt that with the stress leading up to her wedding, and then all the distractions that come along with a trip, it wasn’t an ideal book to bring along. I don’t feel that way about many modern books but this one is an exception for me.

If you’ve read A Gentleman in Moscow, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

My Latest Obsession- Serial Reader

thm4nppstyAs an English major in college, I was often assigned tons of classics to read. Although not my typical fare, I didn’t mind reading them (with a few exceptions). I noticed though that once I graduated, I never had that inclination to read older books. The guilt of being an English major who didn’t read Dickens, Tolstoy, etc. would assail me occasionally, but I had come to grips with the fact that I was never going to crack open Great Expectations for fun. And then I discovered the Serial app.

Now, if you’ve been utilizing one of my other new app obsessions, Litsy, then you’ve undoubtedly heard of Serial by now. It’s where I first heard about it, and I first brushed it off. I mean truly, I had decided I was just fine despite never having read The Tennant of Wildfell Hall. But then everyone kept raving about it, so I eventually decided to give it a shot, and now I am hooked!

If you haven’t heard of Serial, it’s pretty simple. They have a large database of older books (I believe the guideline is the original publication date must have been over one hundred years ago at least). You choose what title(s) you want to read and every day you receive an issue.  The issues are usually about 6-15 minutes in reading time. You can set what time each day you want your issues delivered. I have mine delivered at 8 A.M. and usually read them once I drop my 4 year old off at school.

img_1932

Currently I am reading Anna Karenina and The Jungle. Anna Karenina is one of those books I had always wanted to read. I owned a copy. I had the best of intentions. But man that book is big! So when I signed up for Serial it was the obvious choice. I will say, in hindsight I wish I had chosen a shorter book to start with. 159 issues is A LOT. I calculated that it would take me over five months to read the entire book if I only read one issue per day (side note: for a nominal price, you can buy the full app, which gives you a few bonus features, the most notable being that you can read ahead if you don’t want to stop at one issue per day). At this rate, I am 78% of the way through, and I started it in July.

I had told myself from the beginning that I would only read one book on Serial at a time. The reasoning behind this was because I always have a print book and ebook going at once, so adding one Serial in already seemed like plenty. And that has worked for me the past few months. But then I read Accursed last week, by Joyce Carol Oates, and one of the characters in it was young Upton Sinclair. The Jungle was referenced incessantly and I was intrigued. Mind you, I have never had the desire to read The Jungle before. I have a long list of books on Serial I want to read and this one was nowhere to be found. But just like that, I had added another book. And what do you know–as much as I am ambivalent about Anna Karenina (Levin, you bore me to tears), The Jungle has me completely rapt. I can’t wait to read my issue every day. Go figure. But seriously, I will not add a third book. I repeat, I will not add a third book.

I am anxious to hear from other Serial fans. What have you loved? What have you loathed?

 

 

 

October 2016 Readathon

img_1832

Good morning everyone! I am so excited to be taking part in another 24 Hour Readathon. I participated in my first readathon in October 2009 and have joined in subsequent readathons whenever possible. It’s been awhile since I have had the time to devote to one of Dewey’s readathons (working retail for five years guaranteed that my Saturdays were always spent working) but I am so thrilled to be here today reading with all of you.

I have a two year old and four year old that will keep me busy and occupied for much of the day (we have plans to do some fun fall activities this morning) but I am still hoping to devote a lot of time to reading and cheerleading.

I try not to bog myself down with a ton of goals, but overall I would like to do the following today:

-Read at least two books

-Spend a cumulative time of 8 hours reading

-Spend at least  hour of cumulative time cheering

I will likely do most of my updates  here as well as on Litsy (reviewsbylola). You may possibly find me on Twitter too (@reviewsbylola).

If you have a Litsy account please post your user name.  The majority of my cheering will  be on Litsy as well so I would love to see everyone’s progress!

Intro survey:

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

Columbus, Ohio
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

Probably The Mothers, or really all three of my Book of the Month Club picks.
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

I think I’m the only readathon participant who didn’t go to the grocery store beforehand. Last readathon my husband went and bought me a burrito to try to make my day even better so maybe he’ll do that again!
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I believe that nothing pairs better with a book then a great bath so I am already going through my bath stash to figure out what my readathon bath will look like later on tonight.
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

I feel like I have learned not to pressure myself. I am bummed that I can’t start off reading all morning but I also knew it wouldn’t be fair to coop my kids up all day. I used to also force myself to take small naps and wake up in the middle of the night to read more. I have come to realize that I don’t have to attempt a full 24 hours and so I fully intend to call it quits around Hour 15 and get a full night of sleep.

Book Review: The Dollhouse

th.jpg

The Dollhouse

Fiona Davis

Dutton

304 pages

Darby is a young woman on her own in New York City. She has been sent there by her mother at the behest of her stepfather to attend secretarial school. It’s the 1950s, and as such it is not uncommon for single women to live in hotels or boardinghouses. Darby is living in the Barbizon Hotel for Women, which has almost a sorority-esque feel to it. Darby is a small town girl and soon feels out of place and homesick, until she meets one of the hotel maids, Esme. Esme introduces Darby to a whole new world by taking her out after hours to experience the nightlife by way of a jazz club. As their friendship blossoms, Darby begins to see her life from a whole new perspective.

Meanwhile, their is a modern day element to The Dollhouse with an alternating storyline. Rose is living in the Barbizon, which has now been turned into condos. Some of the former residents from the 1950s have stayed on, including Darby, but she has completely isolated herself. Rose, a journalist, is trying to research a story on the history of the Barbizon, and more specifically a mysterious death that happened there in the 50s. Rose attempts to ingratiate herself with the icy Darby but has little luck.

As the story unfolds, more and more details emerge about the murder that occurred and the climate of the hotel in the 50s. I admit I actually abandoned this book at 7% and I rarely ever pick up abandoned books again, but I did on a whim (because I feel an immense guilt bailing on a review book), and I am so glad I did. The pacing was excellent and the mystery unfolded at a good speed, which held my attention through most of the book. I though Davis’s writing left a little to be desired–it is hard to explain why I felt like that, but it definitely felt like a debut novel. I especially had a hard time believing Rose’s character.

tht0b2yd3a

I loved the setting of The Dollhouse and thought that the Barbizon sounded so cool. If you’re looking for a quick mystery in a historical setting, this is a good one to try.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: You Will Know Me

books4f-7-web

You Will Know Me

Megan Abbott

Little Brown

352 pages

Devon is only 15, but she’s not your average teenager. She has dedicated her life to becoming a world class gymnast, and she will do whatever it takes to succeed. A wrench is thrown into her plans when someone close to the gymnastics center where she trains dies suddenly. Devon remains stoic but is relentless in her quest to become an elite gymnast. Her mother, the narrator of You Will Know Me, struggles with coming to terms with the death and also with how to best serve her family, including Devon’s younger brother.

Seemingly straightforward, the book ends up becoming darker and creepier as the story unfolds. I wasn’t necessarily expecting a mystery, but You Will Know Me does qualify as one, which is why my synopsis is so cryptic. Devon was a difficult character for me to get a grasp on, and I believe that was intention on the author’s part. No one seemed to know what to make of her, including her own parents.

The parenting struggles that Devon’s mom, Katie, constantly seemed to be struggling with resonated with me as a parent. It’s impossible to ever know whether we are making the right decisions for our children, and Katie was often conflicted about how to juggle her family life and all of the obligations of each family member. Her son was often overlooked in the chaos of Devon’s gymnastics career, and Katie felt a lot of guilt over that.

You Will Know Me wasn’t one of my favorite books of the year but I felt it was well written. The mystery kept my interest and I appreciated that the book was multi dimensional and focused on other issues as well.