Showing posts from October, 2012

Wrapping Up October 2012

In the past week, I feel like I'm finally getting back into a routine with my reading. It feels so good to enjoy the pieces of my day I carve out for reading (and blogging) rather than being restless and distracted. Sadly, I only managed to read six books in October. Even worse: I only reviewed one of them! I can tell you I enjoyed all of the books I read; all six were at least 4-star reads. I'll be posting reviews soon (and catching up on some lingering reviews from August and September too!)
Here's what I read in October:

Beautiful Lies by Clare Clark (my review)
The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier (coming January 2013)
Astray by Emma Donoghue

Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson Angel's Tip by Alafair Burke A Possible Life by Sebastian Faulks (coming December 2012)
What I'm reading now:
I just started Louise Erdrich's Plague of Doves, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2009. Her latest novel, The Round House, which was named a National Book Award fi…

book review: Dead Connection by Alafair Burke

The backstory: After loving Long Gone (my review), a stand-alone thriller, and devouring Alafair Burke's entire Samantha Kincaid series (my reviews of Judgment CallsMissing Justiceand Close Case), I was eager to read Dead Connection, the first in her Ellie Hatcher series.

The basics: Ellie Hatcher grew up in Wichita, where her father was a cop and her mother still lives. Ellie and her troubled brother both live in New York City, where Ellie is now a cop. She normally works burglary  but she's called up to assist in a homicide investigation of a potential serial killer using an internet dating website to target his victims.

My thoughts: From the beginning, Burke paints Ellie as a character to root for: "Ellie knew that a good, efficient detective—one who could prioritize her limited time in sensible ways—would act as a transcriber, file the report, and move on to the real work." This characterization is intriguing and introduces the tension between efficiency and thor…

book review: Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin

The backstory: With the 2012 U.S. presidential election heating up, I decided it was finally time to read a (recent) historical account of the 2008 election--because I often like a little distance from my politics to keep my emotions in check. As one of my favorite lines in this book says: so well "Obama smirked and reprised for Axelrod another of his favorite sayings: “This shit would be really interesting if we weren’t in the middle of it.”"

The basics: Game Change is a joint effort by John Heilemann, a political writer for New York magazine, and Mark Halperin, a political reporter for Time magazine. Both covered the 2008 election in depth at the time. In Game Change, they join forces, combine resources, and manage to interview hundreds of political operatives and campaign workers.

My thoughts: I devoured John Heilemann's coverage of the 2008 election. Typically when my New York arrives, I flip right to the Approval Matrix on the last page and then do the crossword. Abou…

(Non)-Sunday Salon: A Nomadreader Update

Hello, faithful readers! I had the best of intentions of writing this post yesterday, but I simply didn't get around to it. That seems to be the theme around here, right? Both my reading and blogging have taken a hit lately. I generally enjoy what I'm reading, but I'm averaging closer to one book a week than my usually two to three. When I make the time to read, I enjoy myself. What I've been struggling with is making the time to read. I'm finding myself particularly stressed out with work this fall and unable to stop thinking about work when I'm not there. Despite my love for the fall weather and upcoming holidays, I'm almost wishing for summer, when my work-life balance was in great shape. I'm determined to find my way back to a good work-life balance. The upside is that I do love my job, but I miss having more time to do the things I love outside of work!

The read-a-thon was mostly a bust for me. I did enjoy reading posts and participated…

It's readathon time!

Happy Fall Read-a-thon! It's a day to take 24 hours (or if you're like me, no more than 12-18 are physically possible) to read, participate in mini-challenges and win prizes.

I'll be in and out this morning, but I hope to spend my afternoon reading. To the left are my stack of possible books. I have three guidelines for picking readathon books: variety, brevity, and variety. My stack has a mix of nonfiction, graphic narratives, historical fiction, short stories, novellas, contemporary fiction, and science fiction. I also have all four in Lois Lowry's  Giver series on my Kindle and am currently devouring Tracy Chevalier's forthcoming novel about the Underground Railroad, The Last Runaway, which won't be out until February.

If you want to see what I'm up to during the read-a-thon, please visit my tumblr. I'll be back with a Sunday Salon post tomorrow to catch you up on my day and what's to come next week.

As an affiliate, I receive a small commission w…

Interview: Kelly O'Connor McNees

After reading and enjoying both novels by Kelly O'Connor McNeesThe Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott (my review) and In Need of a Good Wife (my review),I was happy to participate in a blog interview tour in support of the release of In Need of a Good Wife this week.

In the author's note you mention a few of the resources you used to research this story. As an academic librarian who teaches students how to research, I'm curious about your research process. How much time did you spend researching? What aspects of research were most difficult for you?

I am sure I take a much more free-form approach than your students, since academic research is serious business. My research goals have to do with finding great story ideas—sometimes buried in the footnotes—and then fleshing out my setting and characters with historical detail that is both accurate and compelling. But I don’t think historical fiction should attempt to be comprehensive about events or people—that’s a recipe for b…

book review: Beautiful Lies by Clare Clark

The basics: Set in 1887 London, Beautiful Lies is the story of Maribel Campbell Lowe, whose husband Edward Campbell Lowe is a politician. Maribel was born in Chile and educated in Paris. When a letter arrives from her estranged mother asking to meet in London, their picture perfect life begins to unravel.

My thoughts: One challenge with historical fiction can be making characters both true to their time and accessibly to contemporary readers. Writing about female characters can pose a particular challenge, especially in the case of Maribel Campbell Lowe, who pushed against the gender boundaries of the 1880s. Clark masterfully sets the stage of Victorian London through her descriptive and detailed writing, but it was the dialogue and inner thoughts of Maribel that most impressed me. It was fascinating to read the different ways Maribel spoke to her husband, society equals, and the hired help. Through these distinctions, Clark gave Maribel her defiant voice yet stayed true to history.


book review: In Need of a Good Wife by Kelly O'Connor McNees

The backstory: After thoroughly enjoying The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott (my review), the first novel by Kelly O'Connor McNees, I was eager to read her latest work.

The basics: Shortly after the Civil War, Clara Bixby, whose husband ran off with another woman, reads about Destination, Nebraska in the newspaper, and she realizes it's the perfect business venture for her after she loses her job at a tavern in Manhattan City, New York. Clara writes to Destination's mayor and strikes a deal: she'll provide widows and single women willing to move to Destination to get married if the men will pay for their transport, plus a fee for her services.

My thoughts: In the past few years, I've realized how much I enjoy tales of the frontier life and homesteading. I enjoy the intrepid characters and their discoveries in these new, desolate lands. In Need of a Good Wife opens in New York, and I enjoyed getting to know the women and share their journey, both emotionally and geog…