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Showing posts from 2019

Welcome to the Hall of Fame, Jami Attenberg!

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Two of my favorite things about having a blog, even one I don't post to nearly often enough lately, are:

1. Having a record of my thoughts on books for the last (almost) 13 years.

2. Making all the rules

These two favorite things converge in My Hall of Fame. There are two ways to get into My Hall of Fame. First, write a book I love so much that it defies my rating scale and earns 6 stars out of 5. Second, write (at least) two books I rate 5 stars. (Because I make the rules, authors can be in the Hall of Fame for both reasons.)

Today, I'm thrilled to induct Jami Attenberg into My Hall of Fame! Yesterday, I had the pleasure of reading her latest novel, All This Could Be Yours, in a single day. The novel itself takes place in a single day, so it was fitting to spend a day with this dysfunctional family and Jami's gorgeous writing. All This Could Be Yours is the second Jami Attenberg book I've rated 5 stars. The first was All Grown Up, which was one of my favorite reads of…

Audio Interludes: British & Irish narrators

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Often I find myself listening to audiobooks that fit together, either by narrator, genre, theme or setting. As I find myself staring at a long list of them to review, I decided to start writing Litsy-length reviews and grouping them together in a new recurring series I'll call Audio Interludes. Today's installment features a trio of contemporary novels narrated in British and Irish accents.


When All Is Said by Anne Griffin
narrated by Niall Buggy

If an old maudlin Irishman narrator is your thing: do I have a book for you! Maurice Hannigan, over the course of one night, orders five different drinks a hotel bar and toasts each one to a different person who impacted his life. Through these five (very long) toasts that are more like stories, we learn about his life in interesting, and non-linear ways. For a debut novel, this book is bravely told, but for such an emotional book, it also felt like it was trying to be a little too clever. Is a lovely goal, but it didn't fully work …

A love letter to Ruth Emmie Lang, author of Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance

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Dear Ruth Emmie Lang,

I'm sorry it took me so long to read Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance, but I'm so glad I finally did so I can tell the world how much I loved it. I've had it on my shelf since October 2017, when Steph Opitz picked it for Book of the Month. It wasn't a book I would picked without Steph's recommendation. It didn't sound like something I would like. I don't usually like magical realism. I don't really animals or nature very much (I know, I know.) But Steph introduced me to Taylor Jenkins Reid with The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, so I vowed to always choose her picks when she was a Book of the Month judge. But on my shelf it sat, unread. Then I signed up for the sixth Litsy Markup Postal Book Club, and I thought, why not use one of the (many) Book of the Month books sitting on my shelf unread? So I picked six and had my group pick, and they all picked Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance.

The choice was made for me: I had to read…

Happy August!

Well, July is done. At the beginning of the month, I told you about my mind and body challenge. August is a new month, so I'll focus on the positives and where I want to go from here.

Exercise: In July, I did 44 miles on the elliptical. That's more than any month except January, when I managed 53. Seven and a half months into my fitness journey, and that's something worth celebrating. It's also worth noting the pitiful 2 miles I put in during the entire month of June helped kick start the fitness part of this challenge. Every day I worked out, I did 3 (or more) miles. I'm proud of that. Here's what I'm not proud of: I haven't been to the gym since July 16th. Reading: I have my reading mojo back. I read fourteen (!) books. And I have less than an hour left in my audiobook, so if we didn't have houseguests, I would have finished fifteen books. Did I read for an hour each day without looking at my phone? Not after the first week. It turns out that's…

A letter to Mia Barron, audiobook narrator of Good Riddance by Elinor Lipman

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Dear Mia Barron,

I just finished listening to you read Good Riddance, the latest novel from Elinor Lipman. I remember reading and enjoying some of her novels in the 1990's and early 2000's, but I haven't read one in years. The premise of this one (a yearbook thrown away, a nosy neighbor, a documentary film!) sounded so fun, and its length (8 hours 7 minutes) is my audiobook sweet spot. Immediately after I started listening, your voice sounded so familiar. I searched Audible to see if you'd narrated another audiobook I listened to. Nope. I read your IMDB page, and the most likely reason your voice felt so familiar is one episode of Grey's Anatomy in season six. Or maybe your voice is one of those that feels familiar for no reasons. Either way, I kept finding excuses to listen and finished in a week.

Then, about half-way through, after what passes for a twist in this book, I realized (can I be honest?) I didn't really like this book very much, but I wanted to kee…

a love letter to Jasmine Guillory

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Dear Jasmine,

After reading and enjoying your first two novels, The Wedding Date and The Proposal, and hearing you speak at ALA last summer, I was excited to revisit those characters in your third novel, The Wedding Party, but also get to know new characters in this fictional universe. I wouldn't consider your books a series (would you?), but I do love seeing the characters pop up in the other novels. It's so much fun. This book features Maddie and Theo, the two best friends of Alexa, the heroine of The Wedding Date, but I admit, I didn't remember much about either one. Thankfully, your reminders helped me remember without feeling like you were re-telling key scenes from The Wedding Date.And I fell so in love with both of them, but especially Maddie, that I might even go back and re-read The Wedding Date knowing what I know now.

I'm a reader who doesn't read many romance novels (perhaps I just haven't found the right ones?), but I love your romance novels. Your…

Introducing my July Mind & Body Challenge

I didn't plan to write about my July challenge on July 1st. I wanted to, of course, because I want everyone to tell me how awesome I am, but I also admit receiving congratulations before actually beginning is pretty meaningless. So I thought I'd wait until I was half-way through to tell y'all I've been doing this challenge. That way, if I failed, no one would even to have know. But I posted a sweaty selfie on my Instagram story after my workout this morning and captioned it "day one of July fitness challenge done." And then a few people asked what challenge I was doing, so I thought, why not make myself vulnerable and write a little about what I'm doing and why?

I made up a challenge for myself for July. Here's what I pledge to do each day:
At least three miles (probably always on the elliptical, but I might switch it up)Read for at least 1 hour (leave my phone in another room and set a timer)Have no more than one alcoholic drinkIt's a mind and bod…

Sunday Salon: We're Halfway Where?

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Here I am again, despite a strong January of reading and blogging, finding myself wondering how and when to come back to this space. Do I announce my return and hope it sticks? Do I pretend I haven't been gone? The half-way part of the year seemed like the perfect time to stop and write about my favorite books of 2019 and reflect on my year in reading so far. Because really, I don't have a good story. The truth is, I'm been doing other things. I work full-time. I have a very talkative almost five-year-old. I'm working on a second master's degree. Many days, I find myself so terrified about the state of our world and my country, I can't let my mind rest long enough to sit and read or write. Some days I feel too guilty about not doing enough to let myself find joy in the things I love. Some days, everything I do feels futile, so I delight in playing board games with Hawthorne and hoping I'll feel better about the state of the world before he's too much ol…

audiobook thoughts: The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

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The backstory: I bought this audiobook in 2014 when it was a Daily Deal, but like so many of the Daily Deals I buy, it never rose to the top of my audiobook TBR. On Litsy, CareBear hosted a low stakes read-a-long: read the book in February and discuss it at the end of the month. I'm so glad that I read this book but also that I had people to discuss it with because there is SO MUCH to discuss.

The basics: This novel is set in a country house West Hall, Vermont in 1908 and the present day. The town has had quite a few strange disappearances and deaths over the years. In 1908, Sarah Harrison Shea, who is struggling with the death of her daughter, Gertie, and writing in a diary. Her husband and doctor confuse her grief with psychosis. In present day, 19-year-old Ruthie and her little sister Fawn live in Sarah's house, and their mother is missing. When looking for clues, they find Sarah's diary.

My thoughts: If I'm being honest, if I knew I was reading a paranormal ghost sto…

A Love Letter to Daisy Jones & the Six

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Dear Taylor Jenkins Reid,

I'm so glad Daisy's publication day is here and the world will get to enjoy it. I was lucky enough to get a galley of it last June and instead of saving it, I read it compulsively in a single day. I had high expectations, as The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was my favorite read of 2017. I've been recommending it to a lot of people the past two years. And since June, I've been saying, "you read Evelyn Hugo, right? Her new book is even better. Pre-order it." I did too. I pre-ordered the audiobook because the cast is incredible: Jennifer Beals, Benjamin Bratt, Judy Greer, Pablo Schreiber, and more. I also chose it as my Book of the Month because I want a hardcover copy. I'm in good company, as Reese Witherspoonpicked it for the Hello Sunshine book club this month. Plus she's making my dreams come true and making it a tv show. Daisy Jones & the Six is a book I want to read and listen to over and over and over. In fact, I'…

The 2019 Women's Prize for Fiction Longlist: A U.S. Reader's Guide

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After writing this post for seven years in a row, apparently I took last year off, but I'm back with my thoughts on a very U.S.-friendly and number of pages-friendly 16-book longlist filled with many novels from my TBR and a few I hadn't heard of that sound really interesting. The hardest part: deciding which one to read first.

The Ones Available in the U.S. Now