Showing posts from August, 2010

event recap: Suzanne Collins at Oblong Books

Thursday night, Mr. Nomadreader and I took a little road trip down to Millerton, New York to see Suzanne Collins at Oblong Books. We drove down a little early and had a wonderful lunch at Harney and Sons, a gourmet tea shop. We got to Oblong a little over an hour before the signing, and we were rewarded with a number oh so very close to the front of the line. We all sat on the floor to listen to Suzanne read, and I was thrilled she first read from Catching Fire, which I adored. Next she read the opening pages of Mockingjay, and I was amazed how many in the audience hadn't read it yet (I mean, it had been out for two days already--kidding!) After the reading, the line started moving quite quickly. We had our book stamped and were back outside to enjoy a beautiful day before 5:30 p.m. We stayed in Millerton for a phenomenal dinner at Manna Dew and toasted the last night of my 20's. All in all, it was a wonderful night, even though (I confess) I didn't like Mockingja…

Booker Dozen 2010: Trespass by Rose Tremain

The backstory: I was covetingTrespass even before the Booker longlist was announced, but I was thrilled to hear it made the list because I'm reading it sooner than I probably would have otherwise.

The basics: I really like the introductory blurb in the book: "Set among the hills and gorges of the Cevennes, the dark and beautiful heartland of southern France, Trespass is a thrilling novel about disputed territory, sibling love and devastating revenge."

My thoughts: I feel foolish because Trespass is the first Rose Tremain novel I've read, and I absolutely adored her prose:
"Disdain--born out of a specialist knowledge, or what he thought of as a secret knowledge--was a habit perfected over forty years, and was now one of the few pleasures left to him." (p. 11) I didn't know too much about this novel going into it, and the initial chapters all introduced different characters. I tend to really enjoy novels with seemingly unconnected characters whose paths cro…

Sunday Salon: The Week of Awesome.

1. Happy Sunday! Are you ready for Tuesday? It's finally Mockingjay release day! I've really been enjoying the fake Mockingjay spoilers trend on Twitter, but I'm ready for the real thing. According to my friends at Scholastic, it will be available for download at midnight on my Kindle. As much as I wish there were a local midnight release party, I'm excited to be able to start reading at midnight in the comfort of my own home. In the interest of making it through work Tuesday morning, my plan is to actually go to bed early Monday night, then wake up at 5 a.m. to get four hours of reading in before work. It's a short day at work, and I hope I'm able to finish it in the afternoon before meeting friends for dinner. If not, I'll have time to finish it Wednesday.

2. As excited as I am for Tuesday, I'm even more excited for Thursday because Suzanne Collins will be at Oblong Books in Millerton, and I'm going. I'm thrilled to meet her and support a fanta…

book review: The Siege by Helen Dunmore

The backstory: The Siege was shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 2002, and it's sequel, The Betrayal, is on this year's Booker Prize longlist.

The basics: This novel is set in Leningrad in 1941, when it is under German siege and winter is coming. Everyone is fighting for survival. Anna, the 22-year-old heroine, is taking care of her younger brother; their mother died in childbirth. Their father is a writer, but his stories are no longer published because of his political views.

My thoughts: I debated reading The Siege, but I am so glad I did. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I am not a scholar of Russian history, and seeing the War from the standpoint of Leningrad was absolutely fascinating to me. I learned so much by reading this book, but I think those familiar with the setting and history would still enjoy this novel. Several times I was so wrapped up in the story I forgot it was real; it read like a dystopian novel:
"Words are regaining their meanings, after years of mas…

book review: Every Last One by Anna Quindlen

The backstory: I really enjoyed Anna Quindlen's last novel Rise and Shine, so I was eager to read her newest one.

The basics: Every Last One is the story of Mary Beth Latham, a wife and mother of three: Ruby, a high school senior, and fraternal twins Max and Alex, who are ninth grade.

My thoughts: I do enjoy Quindlen's use of language, and these characters were certainly dynamic. It seemed obvious to me that something was looming over these characters from early on in the book. I felt like a very paranoid reader as warning signs piled up and didn't explode. Then, when I didn't actually suspect it, Quindlen drops this novel into a completely different place. I won't spoil it for you, but I will tell you I was reading it in a coffee shop and my jaw dropped open and I audibly gasped. Yes, it's dark, but I think it's authentic. What I'm unsure about it is if it's necessary. I am not opposed to depressing novels, but I do want the emotions authors make me…

Sunday Salon: Reading moods

Good morning! I'm up early (for me) on a Sunday, and I'm looking forward to a day of reading on the porch before I have to go to work. I hope to finish both Helen Dunmore's divine novel The Siege and Alan Warner's delightful novel The Sopranos today. Both are precursors to Booker longlist novels, and then I'm jumping back in with both feet to meet my goal of finishing the longlist (9 more novels to go!) by September 7 (only 23 days away!).

Lyle Lovett The highlight of my week was venturing to Cooperstown to see Lyle Lovett and His Large Band at the Ommegang Brewery. Lyle is one of my favorite singers, and I've never seen him live. Mr. Nomadreader and I stopped in Sharon Springs to have a delicious lunch at the Black Cat (I had the BLAST: Bacon, lettuce, avocado, swiss and tomato). Then, I couldn't resist stopping at 1802 Beekman, home of The Fabulous Beekman Boys. Brent was there, and we purchased a sampling of their goat milk soap. If you're ever near …

my all-time favorite reads

Last week, I reviewed Emma Donoghue's mind-blowing novel Room and named it my new favorite book ever. Since then, I've been pondering and trying to articulate what makes a book a favorite. I've been remembering my personal favorite books over the years, and what stands out most to me is how tethered to a particular time and place most of them are. When I think of the book, I think of when and where I read it. I've been blogging for three and a half years, and only two books have become my favorites in that time. You all know how much I love both American Wife and Room. Today I'm sharing my pre-blogging favorite books with you too. (Book covers go to Amazon and links go to websites of interest, including reviews on this blog.)

In  chronological order:
High school:
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
As a teenage reader, I stuck to contemporary, realistic fiction. In those days, reading provided me with immense comfort knowing someone, even fictional someones, understood me. I…

literary road trip: The Mount

Last Monday I ventured to Lenox, Massachusetts with four of my P.E.O. sisters. (P.E.O. is a philanthropic education organization I belong to.) We went to visit Edith Wharton's estate, The Mount. I didn't know very much about this estate before visiting, but she built it as her summer home in the early 1900's. Ms. Wharton only lived at the estate for about ten years, but the Edith Wharton Restoration took it over in 1980 (after several owners in between) and have been renovating it ever since. Unlike most historical homes I've visited, there is very little that is original in this home. There are several photographs blown up that allow the visitor to see the Mount as it was in Ms. Wharton's day.

The house itself was mostly furnished by designers for a designer's showcase several years ago. I'm really glad we decided to pay the extra $2 to go on a guided tour because I learned so much about the space and Edith Wharton's life.

Naturally, my favorite part w…

Booker Dozen 2010: The Long Song by Andrea Levy

The backstory: The Long Song was on both the Orange and Booker Prize longlists this year (it has since been shortlisted for the Booker Prize). I was surprised when it didn't make the Orange Prize shortlist this year because Andrea Levy is such a literary superstar. I put my Orange Prize longlist reading (13 novels remaining) on hold to tackle the Booker Prize longlist, but this one counts for both!

The basics: The novel opens with a forward from the narrator's son. The Long Song is the story of July, who was born to a slave on a Jamaican sugar plantation in the early 1800's. As a child, she's taken into the main house to become a house servant.

My thoughts: I thoroughly enjoyed this novel.July is a delightful narrator. She interjects to address the reader directly at times, but instead of detracting from the narrative, these direct interactions enhance it. July brings a lightness and humor to her story that cheered me on as a reader. Despite living through the horror of …