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Showing posts from July, 2011

giveaway: The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

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Giveaway is closed. Congratulations to Melissa from The Avid Reader's Musings!

It's no secret I'm a HUGE fan of Tom Perrotta and have been eagerly awaiting his latest novel, The Leftovers, which comes out August 30, 2011. I was fortunate enough to snag an early copy and have been spending a heavenly weekend with it. I'm not the kind of lady to rub it in your face that I have a copy of this book when you, my lovely readers, do not. 

The wonderful folks at St. Martin's want to give a copy to one lucky reader. That's right: you too can read The Leftovers before you can buy it. Awesome, right? Here are the details: you have until midnight (Des Moines time) next Sunday, August 7, 2011 to fill out the following form. When the contest ends, I'll randomly pick a winner, email the lucky person to let them know, and St. Martin's will send the book to the winner. Good luck! If you'd rather buy the book (Kindle version), you can do that too. Look back for my re…

Sunday Salon: Wrapping Up July 2011 & Planning for August

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Happy Sunday, everyone! At the beginning of the month, I laid out my reading goals for July. How did I do? Pretty well! This month, I read 13 books.

The Excellent (rated 4.5 stars or more): Next to Love by Ellen Feldman (5 stars) City of Fire by Robert Ellis (5 stars) -- reread -- review coming soon The Privileges by Jonathan Dee (4.5 stars) Comedy in a Minor Key by Hans Keilson (4.5 stars) You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon (4.5 stars)
The Good (Rated 4 or 4.25 stars): Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear (4.25 stars) Close Your Eyes by Amanda Eyre Ward (4 stars) -- review coming tomorrow A Good Hard Look by Ann Napolitano (4 stars) French Lessons by Ellen Sussman (4 stars) The Memory of Loveby Aminatta Forna (4 stars)
The Somewhat Disappointing (rated 3.5 stars or less):

Short Story Saturday: You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon

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Welcome to Short Story Saturday, a semi-regular feature. The project stems from a desire to read more short stories. It's not a secret I prefer novels to short stories, but I'm working to stretch myself as a reader, and part of that will be reading more short stories. When I have read short story collections, I've often found them hard to review as a whole. This feature will allow me to review collections as a whole or separately, but I'll also be reviewing individual stories from a variety of sources.

The basics: You Know When the Men Are Gone is a loosely interconnected set of stories about soldiers and their families at Ft. Hood in Texas.

My thoughts: Although I'm not always a fan of short story collections, I'm beginning to think I do enjoy collections with a strong theme. After reading so many glowing reviews of this collection, I grabbed it off the shelf at the library one day and started reading. The first (and titular) story was engrossing. It int…

book review: Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear

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The backstory: Among the Mad is the sixth Maisie Dobbs mystery. Here are links to my reviews of the first five books: Maisie Dobbs, Birds of a Feather, Pardonable Lies, Messenger of Truth, and An Incomplete Revenge.

The basics: Winspear raises the stakes in Among the Mad; it's Maisie Dobbs meets Criminal Minds. The reader sees both the mind of a terrorist intent on killing many people while Maisie works closely with Scotland Yard to stop him.

My thoughts: After not loving the last Maisie Dobbs novel, I was thrilled to see Winpsear deliver a true page-turning thriller with a fascinating, timely case. One of the best gifts of historical fiction is to remind the modern reader how similar some problems are through the years. In Among the Mad, Maisie and the detectives of Scotland Yard scramble to discover the identity of the person threatening London with chemical warfare that has the potential to decimate an entire city. It was a sobering reminder that domestic terrorism is nothing new…

book review: The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna

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The backstory: The Memory of Love was shortlisted for the 2011 Orange Prize and won the 2011 Commonwealth Writers' Prize

My thoughts: Fresh off my experience of loving Tea Obreht's writing in The Tiger's Wife but being somewhat disenchanted with the novel itself, I started The Memory of Love and had a remarkably similar experience. The Memory of Love features several main characters: Adrian, a British psychologist; Kai, a young surgeon; and Elias, an elderly man who once was a professor enamored with Saffia, who was married to Julius. The book is set in Sierra Leone just after its civil war.  Reading The Memory of Love, I realized that despite how much I love multiple narrators, when I'm much more interested in one part of the story, it makes the rest of it drag somewhat.

I thoroughly enjoyed the tales of Elias, but Adrian and Kai bored me somewhat. All the characters benefited from Forna's beautiful writing also being filled with rich metaphors and truth. I found h…

Waiting on Wednesday: On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine to highlight an upcoming release we can't wait to read. My pick this week is On Canaan's Side by Sebastian Barry. I was already eagerly awaiting its publication, but when the Booker longlist was announced yesterday, this novel jumped to the top of my pre-publication wishlist. Before yesterday, I didn't know much about it. I knew it was set in twentieth-century America and spanned a lifetime. The details make it sound even more enthralling:

"Told in the first person, as a narrative of Lilly Bere's life over seventeen days, On Canaan's Side opens as she mourns the loss of her grandson, Bill. Lilly revisits her past, going back to the moment she was forced to flee Ireland, at the end of the First World War, and continues her tale in America, a world filled with both hope and danger. At once epic and intimate, Lilly's story unfolds as she tries to make sense of the sorrows and troubles of her …

The 2011 Booker Dozen: A U.S. Reader's Guide

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The wait is over, friends. The 2011 Booker Prize longlist is here! I wasn't planning on reading the entire longlist this year for a variety of reasons, but the list is so surprising, I feel compelled to. I was rooting for Linda Grant (I adored We Had It So Good) and Anne Enright (I'll be reading The Forgotten Waltz soon), but there were so many past winners and shortlisted authors with new books out this year, I expected a list of literary familiars. Instead, we're treated to four (!) debut novelists, a strong showing for Canadian authors, and books not considered (gasp!) literary fiction. I'm jumping in, even though it won't be easy.

Unfortunately, this list is not very friendly to U.S. readers, so patience will be required. It is, however, a list one could easily read through before October 18 (when the winner is announced.) Not a single book has more than 500 pages (The Stranger's Child has 576 pages in the British version but only 464 in the U.S.; I assume …