2017 Reading Challenge: Week of June 19th, 2017

I finished The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg over the weekend.  I enjoyed this one about the life of the author, George Sand.  While I'm by no means an expert on Sand's life, it appeared that the author did a lot of research off primary source documents to develop her portrait of Sand and her contemporaries in the world of the French art circle - writers, actors, painters, musicians - and it felt like a "real" telling of Sand's life.  The last third of the book felt a little rushed to me.  I think I wanted more information on her relationship with Frederic Chopin.  Their relationship is mentioned in almost every historical reference I've seen on Sand, but it didn't seem to have that same weight in the book.   A nicely created world of early 19th century Paris as the backdrop for the story is a nice bonus. 
This week, I'm reading The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.  This was a NY Times bestseller and an Oprah's reading list choice as well,…

2017 Reading Challenge - June 6, 2017

I did quite a bit of reading this weekend and finished up:

The Moon in the Palace by Weina Dai Randel.   I read this for week #1's topic - a book from the Goodreads Choice Awards 2016.  This book covers the early years of the Chinese courtesan who would become the Empress Wu.  (There is a follow up book that follows her history after she is made empress, although I have not read that one so can't speak towards whether it furthers the tale or not.)  A good read - I liked that it really developed the subcharacters in the Emperor's court and the intrigues and political turmoil going on. I also was happy to find a historical fiction that wasn't European - there aren't as many of those, so it was a nice change to read something in that genre that was outside my usual knowledge base.  I'm always up for learning about different things.  I'd be curious to see if the characters held up into the sequel, as that doesn't always happen.  In fact, I may pick up the se…

2017 Reading Challenge - End of May Update

I tried.  I really tried to get through 4 3 2 1 - but I couldn't.  An interesting concept, it tells the life of the same man if that life took 4 different paths.  I don't know if I was/am overly brain-tired, or if it is the nature of the book, but I couldn't keep the different story threads straight and therefore spent most of my time attempting to figure out what was going on 95% of the time.  It also is a LONG book - over 800 pages. After struggling through 25% of it, and renewing it from the library to try to plod on, I gave up.  Maybe I'll try it again some time when I'm not so busy.  But maybe not. 

So I'm behind on things, having devoted 3 weeks to a book I didn't finish.  Last week, after I ditched that read, I picked up A Book of Bees by Sue Hubbell on a whim (see week #37 - a book you chose randomly).  While it's listed as a book on "how to keep bees", it's not except at the highest level.  It's more about why the author chose …

2017 Reading Challenge Update - End of April

I finished up a couple of books over the last 2 weeks for The List: 

For week 46, a time travel novel: Valley of the Moon by Melanie Gideon.  I'm not exactly sure how I missed this was a time travel novel from the description - but it is.  I thought it was going to be a historical fiction about Jack London's ranch in early 20th century California.  And it sort of is, but not really.  Some interesting themes of loss and time and place, but you know what? I didn't love this book as much as I thought I would (even after I figured out it wasn't the genre I thought it was).  If you like time travel, I'd stick with The Time Traveller's Wife or maybe Somewhere in Time.  It'd probably be a good summer reading choice.  It's pretty light fare all told. 

For week 7, a book with an animal on the cover/in the title: The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht.  At the risk of completely stealing someone else's thunder, let me share a review from Goodreads about this book w…

2017 Reading Challenge Update

A bunch of things to check off the read list:

For week 10 - A dual timeline novel: The Girl Who Came Home,  Liked but didn't love this book; it was a bit scattered for me.  The main story line is about the wreck of the Titanic and one of the survivors.  The back store/dual timeline part of it is present day where the granddaughter of the survivor slowly unearths the history of her grandmother's voyage on the boat.  I'd classify this one as a light read - a good summer beach book - but not a page-turner.

For week 14: A book with a strong female character: The Ornatrix by Kate Howard.  Oddly enough the main character is not the strongest female character in this book, but rather the protagonist.  The main character is a girl born with a discolored mark in the shape of a bird on her face, Flavia.  Her family shuttles her off to a convent, embarrassed by this "defect" and she attaches herself to a former Venetian courtesan who knows the secrets of all kinds of beaut…

2017 Reading Challenge

I'm way behind on updating the list, but I have been reading!

I finished up the collection of retold fairy tales for week 51: Beyond the Woods; Fairy Tales Retold by Paula Guran.  Some of these I loved.  Some of these I didn't, but the 2 stories by Charles de Lint and Neil Gaiman are probably worth the price of admission alone.

For week 6, I opted not to pick a book being made into a movie specifically in 2017, and just went with a book that was made into a movie with Olive Kitteredge.  I enjoyed the way the main character's story unfolded with chapters that were essentially short stories from her point of view, as well as others in the small New England town she lived in.  A nice set of character studies - not a particularly plot or action-driven story, but well-written.

For week 41, I read His Bloody Project, by Graeme McRae Burnet.  A historical novel that chronicles the events leading up to a man's murder in a small rural village in 1869, but told from both the mu…

2017 Reading Challenge: Week 6

This week, I read Summerlong by Peter Beagle for week 12 (A book based on a myth).  I'm a fan of this author's writing, and this book is definitely in the same "voice".  A lovely, somewhat bittersweet retelling of the Greek myth of Persephone and Hades (with Demeter thrown in for good measure.  I don't think this book was as strong as The Last Unicorn (which is one of my favorites), but I enjoyed it and appreciated the subtle plot twists that intertwined the myth and it's characters with contemporary day folks.  What was it Karin Blixen says in Out of Africa?  When the gods wish to punish you, they answer your prayers.  Yeah... that.  The characters are slowly revealed with all their human issues and it turns out the gods aren't so perfect either. 

Next up, week 51, a collection - in this case of retold Fairy Tales, sent by my dad since he knows what I like.  :)

The 2017 List
1. A book from the Goodreads Choice Awards 2016
2. A book with at least 2 perspectiv…