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Showing posts from March, 2014

Sunday Salon: It's a __________!

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Bestill my pregnant heart--I think spring has finally arrived in Des Moines! Yesterday (while I was working all day, of course), it got up to the mid-fifties and was sunny and beautiful. Today is set to be even better: 68 and sunny. I'm preparing myself for back deck-sitting reading weather for most of the day. Chores? Probably not happening. Grilling out for dinner with Mr. Nomadreader? Definitely happening.

In other news...
...the nomadbaby is happy to tell you he's a boy! I was not one of those moms-to-be who knew what I was having. Everyone else seemed convinced we were having a girl, however, and I was a bit surprised to see he's a boy. I'm also ecstatic. I didn't care whether the nomadbaby would be a boy or girl, but it's so nice to know. And to use the right pronoun. And picture what he will look like. And to have an answer to at least one question (no, he doesn't have a name yet, but there are several strong contenders. I even think Mr. Nomadreader a…

book review: Concrete Blonde by Michael Connelly

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The backstory: Concrete Blonde is the third mystery in Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch series. Read my reviews of the first two: The Black Echo and The Black Ice.

The basics: Harry Bosch is on trial in civil court for the killing of the Dollmaker serial killer four years ago. Meanwhile, it appears the Dollmaker may not be dead. A new note, presumably from the killer, is received, and it points to a new body, one who died after the Dollmaker.

My thoughts: I have an odd fascination for serial killer stories, and Concrete Blonde is a good one. By re-investigating the murders from four years ago, before the Bosch series begins, the reader gets to know more about this case that demoted Bosch from the prestigious Robbery Homicide Division to Hollywood homicide. In many ways, this book felt allows Bosch and his recent past to come full circle. It's simultaneously an intriguing mystery and a suspenseful legal thriller, as every clue to the new body and note have potentially dire implicat…

book review: The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell

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The backstory: The Other Typist is one of my book club's March picks (we meet every other month and read two books.)

The basics: Rose Baker is an orphan who works as a typist at a Lower East Side police precinct in the 1920's. When Odalie joins the precinct as the titular other typist, she and Rose develop a friendship, but their lives seem fraught with peril and obsession.

Warning: this review contains some vague spoilers.
My thoughts: Rose narrates from the future, and it's clear from the beginning that she isn't always telling the reader everything. Her narration is concerned with what to tell and when. I don't think it's a stretch to say there are many clues she is not the most reliable narrator. I'm a huge fan of unreliable narrators, and as I read I savored the clues Rose doles out. I wouldn't go so far as to say the novel reads like a thriller, but I expected a big reveal of some sort for the reader to finally piece together the validity of Rose'…

Sunday Salon: Home again, home again!

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Happy Sunday morning from my beloved porch couch! Our three-season porch is my favorite part of our house, and I expected to be able to use it all winter, but it turned out to be far too cold for that. We've just opened it back up, and I love having its extra space, particularly as we very slowly drift toward spring (yes, it's supposed to snow tomorrow, but then we should see a 68-degree-high later in the week.)

Travel
The great second trimester travel tour came to an end when we got back from New York yesterday afternoon. For the past five weeks, I've spent more time away from home than at home. It's been such a joy to visit all of the other cities I've called home in my adult life (Atlanta, Lawrence, Kansas City, and Albany) and have my baby bump rubbed and kissed and loved by so many. Our baby already has quite the village cheering its arrival in August. As much fun as my trips have been, it's also really good to be home. I'm starting to feel that nesting…

book review: The Black Ice by Michael Connelly

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The backstory: The Black Ice is the second mystery in Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch series (read my review of The Black Echo, the first in the series.)

The basics: When LAPD detective Cal Moore is found dead of an apparent suicide in a LA hotel room on Christmas, Harry Bosch investigates.

My thoughts: After loving the first Bosch novel, I was curious to see if Michael Connelly could write another that was as good. He did. I was foolishly impatient when The Black Ice began. "Where's the mystery?" I wondered. Soon, the novel was swirling with numerous mysteries that may or may not be connected, and I was enchanted.

There are some similarities to The Black Echo I could foresee becoming tropes, but they work here. Bosch is somewhat of a rogue, but he isn't a rogue for the sake of being one. As the action shifts to Mexico, the action became even more intense. I won't spoil the resolution, but I will say it is beautifully executed.

Favorite passage:  "We want th…

book review: Bumpology: The Myth-Busting Pregnancy Book for Curious Parents-to-Be by Linda Geddes

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The basics: Linda Geddes, a British author and journalist, wrote the New Scientist column entitled Bumpology. It now continues on her website.

My thoughts: Since the moment I found out I was pregnant, I've eagerly explored the non-traditional pregnancy books. I'm more interested in the how and why than in the strict, traditional rules. I'm more interested in exploring the experiences of real pregnant women than the advice of the experts. I'm most interested in learning about pregnancy across the globe, so Bumpology was right up my alley. I'm continuously startled at the differences between the pregnancy and birth experiences in the U.S. and Europe (and Australia): "Around 58 percent of U.S. women have an epidural, while in the UK, it is closer to 20 percent."

Much of what I read in the early sections of Bumpology I had already learned in Emily Oster's excellent Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong--and What You Really Need t…

book review: The Bear by Claire Cameron

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The backstory: The Bear, Canadian author Claire Cameron's second novel, is on this year's Baileys Prize longlist.

The basics: Based on the true story of a couple killed by a bear at a Canadian campsite in 1991, Claire Cameron re-imagines the story to include two young children camping with the children.

My thoughts: I've never been camping, and I have no real desire to ever go. As I read this gripping novel, I asked my husband, "are there really people who take a five-year-old and an almost-three-year-old camping?" It sounds excruciating to me, but I was fascinated by the characters and story. Cameron smartly opens with a descriptive author's note identifying the real-life inspiration for this novel. The novel reads so real, I likely would have been researching its origins as I read if I didn't already know.

Anna, the five-year-old daughter, narrates this story. Traditionally, child narrators are hit or miss for me. Aside from Room (my review), one of all-t…

The 2014 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction Longlist: A U.S. Reader's Guide

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The 2014 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction longlist is finally here! Known for years as the Orange Prize, this is my favorite literary prize, and I always greet its longlist with a look at how U.S. readers fare when trying to track down copies of all twenty books (see my U.S. Reader's Guides for 2013, 2012, & 2011.)

The One I've Already Read:
The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout (3 stars) The Ones Available in the U.S. Now:
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozie AdichieMaddAddam by Margaret AtwoodThe Bear by Claire CameronEleven Days by Lea Carpenter
The Luminaries by Eleanor CattonThe Signature of All Things by Elizabeth GilbertBurial Rites by Hannah KentThe Flame Throwers by Rachel Kushner
The Lowland by Jhumpa LahiriStill Life with Bread Crumbs by Anna QuindlenThe Goldfinch by Donna Tartt The Ones Coming Soon to the U.S.:

Sunday Salon: from Orlando to below zero

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Happy Sunday! Lately, another Sunday means another city. Today I'm writing from the Orlando airport (cheers to free wifi, Orlando!) I'm heading back home this morning, where the temperatures promise to be below zero when I arrive. As much as I love winter, negative temperatures are too cold even for me. At least my sunburn will help keep me warm!

I've been in Orlando since Tuesday. I spent two days at the Information Fluency Conference, where I presented on using documentary films as vehicles to teach information literacy, media literacy and visual literacy. It was a great conference, and when it ended I went to the other side of Orlando to meet up with my three best friends from high school (one of whom lives here), including two six-month old babies. We had a delightfully relaxing few days. I'm having a hard time grasping that our trip next February or March, I'll be the one with the six-month old.

As much as I love traveling, I am greatly relieved and excited to…