Sunday Post #20: Summertime

Sunday PostLooks like summer is starting pretty much all over (at least in the northern hemisphere). I’m beginning to see vacation pics on Facebook, and I’ve been eying my TBR pile, looking for good summertime reads.

I have a bit of a busy summer ahead. I am going to at least four teaching workshops. If anyone tries to tell you teachers don’t work during the summer, don’t you believe it. In addition, I have a new course to plan.

This week, I finished two books. The first I’ve already reviewed: The End of the Affair by Graham Greene. The second I have not yet reviewed, but will review and post about tomorrow (so good that it really needs its own post rather than a review rolled into the Sunday Post): We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. Both were audio books.

I am still finishing up Walden, though my other books are on a bit of a hiatus, with the exception of I Always Loved You by Robin Oliveira. I don’t know if other readers do this or not, but I have to have at least one paper book, one e-book, and one audio book going at all times. The paper books I can read in the tub without fear of destroying an expensive device. The e-books I can read pretty much everywhere, including in bed with the lights off, so I don’t disturb my husband. The audio books I can listen to while I do housework or make soap.

I love to read books set in my adopted home state of Massachusetts, so that was one reason why I liked We Were Liars so much, and I admit, seeing Massachusetts as a setting will push a book higher on my list. Here is a partial list of some of my favorite Massachusetts reads.

           

Some I’m looking forward to diving into or finishing:

    

I wonder if other readers are like me and like to read about places they have lived. I also certainly read a lot of books set elsewhere, too.

I added some books to my TBR list this week:

 

I know what you’re thinking: some variation of either “why haven’t you read The Things They Carried?” or “why wasn’t it already on your list”? It sort of was on my list, to address the second question, but now an oversight is corrected in that it’s on my Goodreads to-read list. As to the first question, yeah, I know.

Not at all a bad reading week, and I’m looking forward to more time (I hope) to read this summer. What about you? Have any recommendations or books you’re anxious to read?

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, recap the past week on your blog, and showcase books and things we have received. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme.

Related posts:

Review: The Widow’s War, Sally Gunning

The Widow’s War: A NovelSally Gunning’s novel The Widow’s War is the story of Lyddie Berry who lives with her husband Edward in 1761 Satucket (Brewster), Massachusetts on Cape Cod. When Edward dies in a whaling accident, Lyddie finds herself not only bereft of his companionship but also of the life they shared: as a widow, most of her property—including her house, cow, and furniture—is now owned by her son-in-law, Nathan Clarke, who also happens to be a jerk and a pig. As the novel unfolds, Lyddie, determined to maintain her independence and continue living the life she led before Edward’s death, challenges Nathan and attempts to hold on to her freedom.

This novel is an enlightening peek into what women’s lives in the eighteenth century might have been like. Gunning’s research is meticulous, and her characters leap off the page in full relief. All the historical details ring true. One thing I think Gunning gets right in her historical novels is she is able to produce strong heroines who live within but also challenge the strictures of their time periods in ways that are believable. Lyddie’s struggle for independence was heartbreaking, realistic, and intriguing. I know that some reviewers have challenged whether or not the book realistically depicts Lyddie’s relationship with her Native American neighbor Sam Cowett, but I didn’t find it difficult to believe. I also liked that the author did not choose to have Lyddie be “rescued” through a second marriage or a sudden change of heart on her son-in-law’s part. I could have put a spoiler alert before that last sentence I suppose, but I liked the ending enough (and for a stretch of the book didn’t think it was going to happen that way) that I went ahead and spoiled it anyway. Lyddie is a likable character. She could be called stubborn, but no one would say she was stubborn if she were a man. She is independent in a time when it’s just about criminal or at least unheard of for a woman to be so, and I found myself rooting for her to be successful. She’s made of some pretty strong stuff.

The Widow’s War is the first in what she calls her Satucket trilogy. I previously read the third book, The Rebellion of Jane Clarke.

Rating: ★★★★½

I read this novel as part of the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

Related posts:

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesdays—August 10, 2011

WWW WednesdaysTo play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

I’m currently reading Sena Jeter Naslund’s [amazon_link id=”0061579289″ target=”_blank” ]Adam & Eve[/amazon_link] for a TLC Book Tour. I am about halfway through. I have to say that so far, it’s not bad. I wouldn’t have chosen the book if I had not been asked whether or not I wanted to participate in the tour, but I have read a lot of reviews that pan the book, and it’s averaging three stars on Amazon and less than that on Goodreads, so perhaps it spins out somewhere in the second half. I’m keeping an open mind.

I recently finished [amazon_link id=”0451531388″ target=”_blank” ]A Room With a View[/amazon_link] by E.M. Forster (review), which I truly enjoyed. Great read!

I have a large TBR pile, and I plan to pull one of the following books next:

  • [amazon_link id=”0451202503″ target=”_blank” ]The Songcatcher[/amazon_link] by Sharyn McCrumb
  • [amazon_link id=”0451197399″ target=”_blank” ]The Ballad of Frankie Silver[/amazon_link] by Sharyn McCrumb
  • [amazon_link id=”0679781587″ target=”_blank” ]Memoirs of a Geisha[/amazon_link] by Arthur Golden
  • [amazon_link id=”0152053107″ target=”_blank” ]A Northern Light[/amazon_link] by Jennifer Donnelly
  • [amazon_link id=”0312304358″ target=”_blank” ]Moloka’i[/amazon_link] by Alan Brennert
  • [amazon_link id=”0060791586″ target=”_blank” ]The Widow’s War[/amazon_link] by Sally Gunning
  • [amazon_link id=”0452289076″ target=”_blank” ]Burning Bright[/amazon_link] by Tracy Chevalier

I’m leaning to the Sharyn McCrumbs just because her ideas about using old Appalachian murder ballads and stories appeals to me. I come from old Appalachian hill folks on my dad’s side, and something about Appalachians has always spoken to me.

Related posts:

Friday Finds

Friday Finds—May 27, 2011

Friday FindsI think I found one of this week’s new books via Any New Books. I’m also sharing some I found some time ago and forgot to tell you about.

I first found out about [amazon_link id=”B003F76HLQ” target=”_blank” ]Bound[/amazon_link] by Sally Gunning after reading [amazon_link id=”0061782157″ target=”_blank” ]The Rebellion of Jane Clarke[/amazon_link] by the same author (review). Somebody reviewed [amazon_link id=”0345521307″ target=”_blank” ]The Paris Wife[/amazon_link] by Paula McLain recently, and I forget who it was. I am sorry! Speak up if it was you because it made me want to read the book. I downloaded it on my Kindle tonight. I just love Hemingway. I had a friend in college who was named after Hadley Hemingway. To round out the American literature theme, I also discovered that Thomas C. Foster of [amazon_link id=”006000942X” target=”_blank” ]How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines[/amazon_link] (review) fame has a new book called [amazon_link id=”0061834408″ target=”_blank” ]Twenty-five Books That Shaped America: How White Whales, Green Lights, and Restless Spirits Forged Our National Identity[/amazon_link]. I’m all over that.

[amazon_image id=”B003F76HLQ” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Bound: A Novel[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0345521307″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]The Paris Wife: A Novel[/amazon_image] [amazon_image id=”0061834408″ link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Twenty-five Books That Shaped America: How White Whales, Green Lights, and Restless Spirits Forged Our National Identity[/amazon_image]

Did you find any good looking books this week?

Related posts:

WWW Wednesdays

WWW Wednesday—April 27, 2011

WWW Wednesdays

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions…

• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

I am currently reading [amazon_link id=”0307588653″ target=”_blank” ]Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution[/amazon_link] by Michelle Moran, [amazon_link id=”039332902X” target=”_blank” ]The Story of Britain: From the Romans to the Present: A Narrative History[/amazon_link] by Rebecca Fraser, [amazon_link id=”0143057812″ target=”_blank” ]The Shadow of the Wind[/amazon_link] by Carlos Ruiz Zafón (audio book), and [amazon_link id=”0199537259″ target=”_blank” ]The Man in the Iron Mask[/amazon_link] by Alexandre Dumas via DailyLit. I am enjoying the first three very much, but the fourth is not grabbing me. I hope it does soon because I so enjoyed [amazon_link id=”0451529707″ target=”_blank” ]The Count of Monte Cristo[/amazon_link]. The narrator for The Shadow of the Wind is exceptional.

I recently finished reading [amazon_link id=”0060558121″ target=”_blank” ]American Gods[/amazon_link] by Neil Gaiman (review) and The Rebellion of Jane Clarke by Sally Gunning (review).

My next book will probably be [amazon_link id=”0670021040″ target=”_blank” ]Caleb’s Crossing[/amazon_link] by Geraldine Brooks. I won an ARC on Goodreads. The lastest Jasper Fforde, [amazon_link id=”0670022527″ target=”_blank” ]One of Our Thursdays Is Missing[/amazon_link], is calling my name. At some point, I want to return to [amazon_link id=”0812977149″ target=”_blank” ]Finn[/amazon_link] by Jon Clinch. I have a few books on my Kindle that I’m interested in reading, too: [amazon_link id=”B004R1Q9PI” target=”_blank” ]The Secret Diary of a Princess[/amazon_link] by Melanie Clegg, a few Austen sequels, and some good nonfiction, including [amazon_link id=”0316001929″ target=”_blank” ]Cleopatra: A Life[/amazon_link] by Stacy Schiff, [amazon_link id=”0385489498″ target=”_blank” ]Marie Antoinette: The Journey[/amazon_link] by Antonia Fraser, [amazon_link id=”1400052181″ target=”_blank” ]The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks[/amazon_link] by Rebecca Skloot, and [amazon_link id=”1439107955″ target=”_blank” ]The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer[/amazon_link] by Siddhartha Mukherjee.

So what about you?

Related posts:

Marie Grosholtz Tussaud

Reading Update: Marie Grosholtz Tussaud

 

Marie Grosholtz Tussaud
Wax figure of Marie Grosholtz Tussaud

I hope everyone is enjoying their Easter Sunday. This week I picked up a new book by Michelle Moran called Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution on my Kindle. I am only about 16% into the novel, but I am already enjoying it immensely. I’m not sure I would have thought I’d be interested in a novel about Madame Tussaud. I was drawn to the cover:

Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution

I think the cover is gorgeous and just one more reason why covers are important—I don’t think I’d have picked this book up if not for its cover. Anyway, my interest in the French Revolution is recent, but I truly enjoyed Jennifer Donnelly’s Revolution (read my review) and have been seeking similar books since. To be honest, I’ve always found the pictures I’ve seen of the wax figures in Tussaud’s a little creepy, but this novel is an interesting look at the artist and her times. Have you ever been to Tussaud’s? If so, what did you think?

My spring break wraps up on Tuesday, but I don’t know that I will finish the novel before then. I have some paper grading to do, and I have already spent too much of my break reading and not enough grading. This week I also finished up American Gods by Neil Gaiman and The Rebellion of Jane Clarke by Sally Gunning.

So what have you read this week? Anything you’re looking forward to reading next week?

The image of Marie Grosholtz Tussaud at the beginning of this post was found at Peeking Between the Pages.

Related posts:

The Rebellion of Jane Clarke, Sally Gunning

The Rebellion of Jane Clarke: A NovelSally Gunning’s novel The Rebellion of Jane Clarke is the story of its eponymous heroine, who lives with her family in Satucket on Cape Cod, Massachusetts on the eve of the Revolutionary War. Jane’s father wishes her to marry Phinnie Paine, but Jane isn’t so sure—she’s had reason to doubt her father’s judgment of late as his feud with the Winslow family has heated up again, and Jane fears the whispers that her father may be responsible for cutting off the ears of Winslow’s horse might be true. Jane’s father packs her off to her Aunt Gill in Boston as punishment for her refusal to acquiesce to his will. Once in Boston, Jane becomes caught up in events. She meets a young bookseller named Henry Knox. As a witness to the Boston Massacre, she is called to testify about what she has seen, but unlike so many in her circle, she sees shades of gray in their stark hues of black and white.

I enjoyed this novel, which is a bit of a departure for me, as most of the historical fiction I read tends to focus elsewhere. The events leading up to the Boston Massacre are thrown in vivid relief, and unlike most of what we learn in elementary school, the story turns out to be more complicated. Of course, all history is more complicated, and we don’t often hear from the side that didn’t win. I had already known that the soldiers who fired on the crowd were provoked (from a British history book, naturally, rather than an American one). In all, the story that emerges is more interesting. John Adams makes an appearance as both defense attorney for Jane’s father in a case he mentions in his own papers regarding a qui tam between Clarke and Winslow. He also defends Captain Preston and the soldiers following the Boston Massacre. He comes across as a really interesting and layered person, and I found myself wanting to read more of him. I also think I would enjoy reading Gunning’s other novels. One thing I particularly liked is that she resisted the common modern temptation of making women characters act out of accordance with their times. While Jane is certainly independent and unorthodox in her way, she never rings historically false. More than anything, it was just fun to return to Massachusetts. While Gunning’s descriptions are vivid, they don’t slow the pace of this story. I certainly think anyone interested in American history, warts and all, would find this book enjoyable, and I would recommend it to just about anyone who likes historical fiction.

Rating: ★★★★½

Full disclosure: I obtained this book from a Goodreads giveaway.

I’m moving right along on this Historical Fiction Reading Challenge! What I like about historical fiction is that I can learn as I am entertained; I love learning history. And I’m thinking my next book will likely fit this challenge, too. This book is my seventh for the challenge; I have eight more to read to call it complete, and it’s only April. Not bad.

Related posts:

The Reader—Renoir

Reading Update: Goodreads

The Reader—Renoir
The Reader by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

I’m giving Neil Gaiman’s American Gods a longer chance than normal on Jenny’s advice. It is beginning to pick up, but I was preparing to put it aside. I am going to take Finn out of the rotation for the time being. Maybe I’ll pick it up soon, but I keep seeing all these other books I would rather read. I just purchased Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution by Michelle Moran and One of Our Thursdays is Missing by Jasper Fforde, a favorite writer of mine. Today in the mail, I received my first “win” from Goodreads:

The Rebellion of Jane Clarke

Isn’t it pretty? The paperback comes out April 26, and I want to try to read it by then so I can share my review. I didn’t realize until very recently that Goodreads sponsored giveaways. What a great way for publishers to connect with regular readers! This book was the first one I requested, so I was excited to have success right off the bat.

If you are a reader and not a member of Goodreads, you should check it out. It’s easily my favorite reading social network. Shelfari is very pretty, but it doesn’t allow users to easily integrate their blogs like Goodreads does. I have my Goodreads profile set up to publish the feed to this blog. I don’t know whether any readers have signed on here because of my Goodreads profile, but it can’t hurt. Shelfari also doesn’t allow HTML in their reviews. LibraryThing limits users to 200 books unless they opt for a paid account. I don’t see the draw unless I’m missing something—Goodreads is free. I trust Goodreads reviews over other sites, too, as the readers can be more conservative in their stars and praise than, say, Amazon. If I’m on the fence, I read a few reviews on Goodreads, and I can often make up my mind. And now with giveaways, there’s no reason not to try them out.

I’m going to pick up The Rebellion of Jane Clarke tonight and go back to Massachusetts. I loved our visit there this past summer. But first I need to put the kettle on for a cup of tea.

Related posts:

American Gods It Is

OMGIALMOSTDIEDThe other day I needed some help picking out what to read. I think it turns out I just needed a nudge. You voters selected Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I have read the first chapter, and yeah, I think I will like it, but it’s hard to tell at the moment. I totally love Neil Gaiman, so there is, at least, that.

I think maybe before I read The Dream of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Palmer, I will re-read The Tempest. I might get more out of the former if I read the latter first. The last time I read The Tempest was college. That has been a while. No takers at all for Gaskell’s North and South, two votes for The Cookbook Collector, and one vote for Becoming Jane Eyre.

At some point, I need to make time for Jasper Fforde’s new Thursday Next book—One of Our Thursdays is Missing. I also decided I need to read Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution. Until I read Jennifer Donnelly’s Revolution, I can’t say I was that interested in that time period in France, for some inexplicable reason that makes absolutely no sense to me now. Oh! And I just started participating in book giveaways on Goodreads, and I won the first book I was interested in! The Rebellion of Jane Clarke by Sally Gunning. I hope it will be good. I haven’t read a great deal of fiction set during the American Revolution.

P.S. This was my 1,000th post! Feels like a milestone.

photo credit: J.J. Verhoef

Related posts: