Saturday, December 31, 2011

Books Burning Holes in My Shelves

Thanks to the Christmas holidays, some generous bloggy friends, and some generous publishers, I have a stack of books burning a hole in my shelves!!! Many of my books have been boxed up and stored away for the last six months or so, and that part of my reading life has actually been really helpful. I can't spend too much time perusing endless choices when I only have 20 or so physical books to choose from and the stock of stuff on my e-reader. It streamlines the waffling, in other words.

Here are the books at the tippy top of my stacks really calling my name right now...


I've started The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa, and I've already bumped off 40 pages or so before a bitchin' headache bloomed. This was a gift from the lovely Nancy at Bookfoolery and Babble. She was kind enough to send along her copy when I mentioned wanting to read it recently. This one feels cozy and pleasant so far, and I can't wait to see where Ogawa takes the story. I'm also really impressed with the beautiful translation by Stephen Snyder.


BlurbHe is a brilliant math professor, with a peculiar problem — since a traumatic head injury, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory. She is an astute young housekeeper with a ten-year-old son who is hired to care for him. And between them a strange, beautiful relationship blossoms. Though the professor can hold new memories for only eighty minuets, his mind is still alive with elegant equations from the past; and through him, the numbers, in all of their articulate order, reveal a sheltering and poetic world to both the housekeeper and her son.


After I added Melissa Marr's Graveminder to my list of hopefuls for Christmas, I received it in the mail from the publisher! I'm pretty sure I had a CRS moment and forgot I'd requested it in the first place. Hmmphf! Either way, I'm glad to have it. This looks like a fun book when I'm in the mood for something light and paranormal. 


BlurbRebekkah Barrow never forgot the attention her grandmother Maylene bestowed upon the dead of Claysville, the small town where Bek spent her adolescence. There wasn't a funeral that Maylene didn't attend, and at each one Rebekkah watched as Maylene performed the same unusual ritual: She took three sips from a silver flask and spoke the words "Sleep well, and stay where I put you." Now Maylene is dead, and Bek must go back to the place she left a decade earlier. She soon discovers that Claysville is not just the sleepy town she remembers, and that Maylene had good reason for her odd traditions. It turns out that in Claysville the worlds of the living and the dead are dangerously connected; beneath the town lies a shadowy, lawless land ruled by the enigmatic Charles, aka Mr. D. If the dead are not properly cared for, they will come back to satiate themselves with food, drink, and stories from the land of the living. Only the Graveminder, by tradition a Barrow woman, and her Undertaker—in this case Byron Montgomery, with whom Bek shares a complicated past—can set things right once the dead begin to walk.


Tides of War by Stella Tillyard was another book provided by the publisher. I haven't had a chance to jump in, but reading the early pages of this one makes me think it's a promising read. I also enjoyed Wendy's review over at CaribousMom. I don't read enough sweeping historicals, and I think I'll be in the mood for this one really soon.


BlurbTides of War opens in England with the recently married, charmingly unconventional Harriet preparing to say goodbye to her husband, James, as he leaves to join the Duke of Wellington's troops in Spain. Harriet and James's interwoven stories of love and betrayal propel this sweeping and dramatic novel as it moves between Regency London on the cusp of modernity: a city in love with science, the machine, money, and the shocking violence of war in Spain. 




Ghost Light, by Joseph O'Connor, is yet another book I saw in a publisher's e-mail, and I jumped on it without hesitation. It looks a little dark and moody and maybe a little seedy in spots. Just the kind of historical novel I want to curl up with underneath the new quilt I received for Christmas.

BlurbA powerful and deeply moving masterpiece about love, partings and reconciliation — and of the courage involved in living on nobody else's terms. Dublin, 1907. A young actress begins an affair with a damaged older man, the leading playwright at the theatre where she works. Outspoken and flirtatious, Molly Allgood is a Catholic girl from the slums of Dublin, dreaming of stardom in America. Her lover, John Synge, is a troubled genius, whose life is hampered by convention and by the austere and God-fearing mother with whom he lives. Their affair, sternly opposed by friends and family, is quarrelsome, affectionate and tender. Many years later, Molly, now a poverty-stricken old woman, makes her way through London's bomb-scarred city streets, alone but for a snowdrift of memories. Her once dazzling has faded but her unquenchable passion for life has kept her afloat.


Finally, Wendy was kind enough to host a giveaway for The Marriage Artist, by Andrew Winer, and I've been itching to read it ever since it arrived. I've seen good reviews of it here and there in the blogosphere, and y'all know I'm a cover nut, and I like this one a lot. Not to mention the inclusion of art and scandal. Woohoo!


BlurbWhen the wife of renowned art critic Daniel Lichtmann plunges to her death, she is not alone. Lying next to her is Benjamin Wind, the very artist Daniel most championed. Dedicating himself to uncovering the secrets of their relationship, Daniel discovers a web of mysteries leading back to pre--World War II Vienna. Ambitious, haunting, and stunningly written, The Marriage Artist is an “elaborate psycho-political-sexual puzzle, with...hard truths, startling visions, and eerie insights into the mystical and memorializing powers of art, and that endless hunger we call love” (Booklist).


While these aren't the only books burning holes in my shelves, I did take the time to make a specific stack of books to read sooner rather than later. They've been sitting across from my favorite blogging spot for a while now, staring at me and mocking me. Little temptresses! 


Have you read any of these books? What books are calling out to you the loudest right now?

Books Burning Holes in My Shelves

Thanks to the Christmas holidays, some generous bloggy friends, and some generous publishers, I have a stack of books burning a hole in my shelves!!! Many of my books have been boxed up and stored away for the last six months or so, and that part of my reading life has actually been really helpful. I can't spend too much time perusing endless choices when I only have 20 or so physical books to choose from and the stock of stuff on my e-reader. It streamlines the waffling, in other words.

Here are the books at the tippy top of my stacks really calling my name right now...


I've started The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa, and I've already bumped off 40 pages or so before a bitchin' headache bloomed. This was a gift from the lovely Nancy at Bookfoolery and Babble. She was kind enough to send along her copy when I mentioned wanting to read it recently. This one feels cozy and pleasant so far, and I can't wait to see where Ogawa takes the story. I'm also really impressed with the beautiful translation by Stephen Snyder.


BlurbHe is a brilliant math professor, with a peculiar problem — since a traumatic head injury, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory. She is an astute young housekeeper with a ten-year-old son who is hired to care for him. And between them a strange, beautiful relationship blossoms. Though the professor can hold new memories for only eighty minuets, his mind is still alive with elegant equations from the past; and through him, the numbers, in all of their articulate order, reveal a sheltering and poetic world to both the housekeeper and her son.


After I added Melissa Marr's Graveminder to my list of hopefuls for Christmas, I received it in the mail from the publisher! I'm pretty sure I had a CRS moment and forgot I'd requested it in the first place. Hmmphf! Either way, I'm glad to have it. This looks like a fun book when I'm in the mood for something light and paranormal. 


BlurbRebekkah Barrow never forgot the attention her grandmother Maylene bestowed upon the dead of Claysville, the small town where Bek spent her adolescence. There wasn't a funeral that Maylene didn't attend, and at each one Rebekkah watched as Maylene performed the same unusual ritual: She took three sips from a silver flask and spoke the words "Sleep well, and stay where I put you." Now Maylene is dead, and Bek must go back to the place she left a decade earlier. She soon discovers that Claysville is not just the sleepy town she remembers, and that Maylene had good reason for her odd traditions. It turns out that in Claysville the worlds of the living and the dead are dangerously connected; beneath the town lies a shadowy, lawless land ruled by the enigmatic Charles, aka Mr. D. If the dead are not properly cared for, they will come back to satiate themselves with food, drink, and stories from the land of the living. Only the Graveminder, by tradition a Barrow woman, and her Undertaker—in this case Byron Montgomery, with whom Bek shares a complicated past—can set things right once the dead begin to walk.


Tides of War by Stella Tillyard was another book provided by the publisher. I haven't had a chance to jump in, but reading the early pages of this one makes me think it's a promising read. I also enjoyed Wendy's review over at CaribousMom. I don't read enough sweeping historicals, and I think I'll be in the mood for this one really soon.


BlurbTides of War opens in England with the recently married, charmingly unconventional Harriet preparing to say goodbye to her husband, James, as he leaves to join the Duke of Wellington's troops in Spain. Harriet and James's interwoven stories of love and betrayal propel this sweeping and dramatic novel as it moves between Regency London on the cusp of modernity: a city in love with science, the machine, money, and the shocking violence of war in Spain. 




Ghost Light, by Joseph O'Connor, is yet another book I saw in a publisher's e-mail, and I jumped on it without hesitation. It looks a little dark and moody and maybe a little seedy in spots. Just the kind of historical novel I want to curl up with underneath the new quilt I received for Christmas.

BlurbA powerful and deeply moving masterpiece about love, partings and reconciliation — and of the courage involved in living on nobody else's terms. Dublin, 1907. A young actress begins an affair with a damaged older man, the leading playwright at the theatre where she works. Outspoken and flirtatious, Molly Allgood is a Catholic girl from the slums of Dublin, dreaming of stardom in America. Her lover, John Synge, is a troubled genius, whose life is hampered by convention and by the austere and God-fearing mother with whom he lives. Their affair, sternly opposed by friends and family, is quarrelsome, affectionate and tender. Many years later, Molly, now a poverty-stricken old woman, makes her way through London's bomb-scarred city streets, alone but for a snowdrift of memories. Her once dazzling has faded but her unquenchable passion for life has kept her afloat.


Finally, Wendy was kind enough to host a giveaway for The Marriage Artist, by Andrew Winer, and I've been itching to read it ever since it arrived. I've seen good reviews of it here and there in the blogosphere, and y'all know I'm a cover nut, and I like this one a lot. Not to mention the inclusion of art and scandal. Woohoo!


BlurbWhen the wife of renowned art critic Daniel Lichtmann plunges to her death, she is not alone. Lying next to her is Benjamin Wind, the very artist Daniel most championed. Dedicating himself to uncovering the secrets of their relationship, Daniel discovers a web of mysteries leading back to pre--World War II Vienna. Ambitious, haunting, and stunningly written, The Marriage Artist is an “elaborate psycho-political-sexual puzzle, with...hard truths, startling visions, and eerie insights into the mystical and memorializing powers of art, and that endless hunger we call love” (Booklist).


While these aren't the only books burning holes in my shelves, I did take the time to make a specific stack of books to read sooner rather than later. They've been sitting across from my favorite blogging spot for a while now, staring at me and mocking me. Little temptresses! 


Have you read any of these books? What books are calling out to you the loudest right now?

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Sense of an Ending

There's a good possibility Julian Barnes' Man Booker Prize-winning novel, The Sense of an Ending, will be my final completed book in 2011. And it's a good way to cap off the year!

My first experience with Julian Barnes's work wasn't really any experience at all. I was scheduled to take a Contemporary British Literature class to cap off my undergraduate degree in 2003, but I ended up dropping the class in favor of a different British lit class with a professor with a bigger, badder attitude. I can't say I regret it, as the class I opted for introduced me to one of the most influential of authors I've ever read: T.S. Eliot and my all-time favorite poem, "The Waste Land". The bigger, badder professor also turned out to be a life changer, leaving the university to pursue the priesthood, largely influenced by T.S. Eliot and his work. His influence drove me to get a graduate degree in English. What's not to love about that?

Why am I wasting your time with this remembrance? Because it is formative and my memories are memories I consider concrete, unchanging, certain. The main character in Barnes's novel, Tony Webster, discovers that his own memories are not so certain. The book is split into two long chapters, the first of which details Tony's adolescence with his three best friends--namely the enigmatic Adrian Finn--as well as his naive fumblings with girlfriend, Veronica. The latter half of the book is Tony's realization that his has been a fulfilling but lackluster adulthood. When he receives an attorney's letter in the mail he's left scrambling through those earlier memories to put together pieces of a puzzle that will thoroughly unsettle him.

This is a great book in a number of ways. First off, it's only 170ish pages in print, and it was only 107 on my Nook. The amount of character building and the sense of realism Barnes is able to infuse in a story of this length is quite an accomplishment. I'm a proponent of short stories, so it's probably not surprising that I would enjoy what amounts, in my mind, to a novella, but I guess the impressive part is the sense of realism Barnes imparts with a lot of different issues swirling around the characters. Issues of time, philosophy, class, relationships, sexuality, and suicide.

To build on that, this novel is a lit-gasm, y'all. There is a ton of talk about literature and literary devices, philosophy, and a good many intertextual references. In the beginning, Tony is reflecting on his experiences in school, and Adrian tends to be pretty brilliant, so the banter about philosophy and literature was really fun for me. I also knew there was an intertextual reference in the title, but it wasn't until I stumbled upon a review in Vogue that I figured out what it was (because I'm too lazy to Google it): "Barnes’s title is taken from critic Frank Kermode, whose landmark analysis of fiction examined the consolations of narrative and the corrections authors make to bring meaning and order to a chaotic world." 

The title says so much about the novel. The biggest issue at work in this little book is Tony's struggle with memory. He remembers his first girlfriend as much more of a cold fish than she probably was, he idolizes his friend Adrian more than necessary, and quite honestly, he remembers himself in a much nicer, more flattering light than was true. It's only when he looks back at a letter to Adrian and Veronica that it really dawns on him how fallible memory can be.

I'm SO not doing this book justice. Tony is a regular guy who experiences a big slap to his ego and a big snap back to reality in light of who he and his friends really were in their youth. The only thing that left me slightly unsatisfied was the ending. There is a surprise ending in this book -- a revelation that honestly surprised me, though looking back through my notes and highlights, it probably shouldn't have surprised me. While I was satisfied with the surprise itself, the novel only lasted a few pages past the surprise. As a reader, I wanted Tony to grapple with the truth a bit more before the novel closed. It's a small complaint in the grand scheme of things.

While I am absolutely certain I'm impressed by this book, especially from a technical perspective, I'm not sure how long it'll stick with me. I wasn't touched on an emotional level (which I tend to prefer in picking all-time faves), but I found myself in a constant state of analysis while reading. Barnes is a good storyteller and a thoughtful evaluator of issues. While I'm interested in reading more of his work, and while I appreciate this novel, it didn't win me over on visceral level, but it sure impressed me on the cerebral plane.

Rating:
Snuggle (more like a firm handshake with a professor) -- Skewer

Pub. Date: October 2011
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday
Format: E-book
ISBN-13: 9780307957122
Source: Purchased by me.

The Sense of an Ending

There's a good possibility Julian Barnes' Man Booker Prize-winning novel, The Sense of an Ending, will be my final completed book in 2011. And it's a good way to cap off the year!

My first experience with Julian Barnes's work wasn't really any experience at all. I was scheduled to take a Contemporary British Literature class to cap off my undergraduate degree in 2003, but I ended up dropping the class in favor of a different British lit class with a professor with a bigger, badder attitude. I can't say I regret it, as the class I opted for introduced me to one of the most influential of authors I've ever read: T.S. Eliot and my all-time favorite poem, "The Waste Land". The bigger, badder professor also turned out to be a life changer, leaving the university to pursue the priesthood, largely influenced by T.S. Eliot and his work. His influence drove me to get a graduate degree in English. What's not to love about that?

Why am I wasting your time with this remembrance? Because it is formative and my memories are memories I consider concrete, unchanging, certain. The main character in Barnes's novel, Tony Webster, discovers that his own memories are not so certain. The book is split into two long chapters, the first of which details Tony's adolescence with his three best friends--namely the enigmatic Adrian Finn--as well as his naive fumblings with girlfriend, Veronica. The latter half of the book is Tony's realization that his has been a fulfilling but lackluster adulthood. When he receives an attorney's letter in the mail he's left scrambling through those earlier memories to put together pieces of a puzzle that will thoroughly unsettle him.

This is a great book in a number of ways. First off, it's only 170ish pages in print, and it was only 107 on my Nook. The amount of character building and the sense of realism Barnes is able to infuse in a story of this length is quite an accomplishment. I'm a proponent of short stories, so it's probably not surprising that I would enjoy what amounts, in my mind, to a novella, but I guess the impressive part is the sense of realism Barnes imparts with a lot of different issues swirling around the characters. Issues of time, philosophy, class, relationships, sexuality, and suicide.

To build on that, this novel is a lit-gasm, y'all. There is a ton of talk about literature and literary devices, philosophy, and a good many intertextual references. In the beginning, Tony is reflecting on his experiences in school, and Adrian tends to be pretty brilliant, so the banter about philosophy and literature was really fun for me. I also knew there was an intertextual reference in the title, but it wasn't until I stumbled upon a review in Vogue that I figured out what it was (because I'm too lazy to Google it): "Barnes’s title is taken from critic Frank Kermode, whose landmark analysis of fiction examined the consolations of narrative and the corrections authors make to bring meaning and order to a chaotic world." 

The title says so much about the novel. The biggest issue at work in this little book is Tony's struggle with memory. He remembers his first girlfriend as much more of a cold fish than she probably was, he idolizes his friend Adrian more than necessary, and quite honestly, he remembers himself in a much nicer, more flattering light than was true. It's only when he looks back at a letter to Adrian and Veronica that it really dawns on him how fallible memory can be.

I'm SO not doing this book justice. Tony is a regular guy who experiences a big slap to his ego and a big snap back to reality in light of who he and his friends really were in their youth. The only thing that left me slightly unsatisfied was the ending. There is a surprise ending in this book -- a revelation that honestly surprised me, though looking back through my notes and highlights, it probably shouldn't have surprised me. While I was satisfied with the surprise itself, the novel only lasted a few pages past the surprise. As a reader, I wanted Tony to grapple with the truth a bit more before the novel closed. It's a small complaint in the grand scheme of things.

While I am absolutely certain I'm impressed by this book, especially from a technical perspective, I'm not sure how long it'll stick with me. I wasn't touched on an emotional level (which I tend to prefer in picking all-time faves), but I found myself in a constant state of analysis while reading. Barnes is a good storyteller and a thoughtful evaluator of issues. While I'm interested in reading more of his work, and while I appreciate this novel, it didn't win me over on visceral level, but it sure impressed me on the cerebral plane.

Rating:
Snuggle (more like a firm handshake with a professor) -- Skewer

Pub. Date: October 2011
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday
Format: E-book
ISBN-13: 9780307957122
Source: Purchased by me.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review: Nook Simple Touch


It's been almost two years since I received the first generation Barnes and Noble Nook e-reader. If you remember, I was thrilled with the device. I've remained pretty thrilled in general, but over the course of the two-year relationship I discovered a few annoyances:

1. The white frame and reflective touch-screen navigation were occasionally annoying. I had a habit of studying my double-chin in the touch-screen.

2. It was really too heavy to hold with one hand. Especially when it was "wearing" a cover.

When it came to getting a new Nook this year, I was somewhat noncommittal. I kinda felt guilty wanting a new e-reader since there was absolutely nothing technically wrong with my old one. On the other hand, there were parts of the Nook Simple Touch that really appealed to me:

1. The dark grey frame seemed like it would cut down on distraction and help make the contrast between the print and the e-ink page more noticeable.

2. No reflective navigation bar to throw my chins up at me.

3. Smaller, lighter.

4. Faster page turns, longer battery life!

My mother, in her infinite wisdom, went ahead and bought the Simple Touch for me for Christmas. Thrilled is me! All of the improvements I listed above are certainly true. I can comfortably hold the Simple Touch with one hand, even when it's wearing its cover. The reading screen is the same size, but the whole device is smaller and slimmer thanks to the exclusion of the navigation panel.

I've also discovered some nice surprises -- new features I never thought about that really jump out at me. First and foremost, the touchscreen is fantastic!!! It's responsive and quick -- none of that dreaded lag. I admit that I am super anal retentive about smudging screens and dust particles and all of that. I bought a cleaning cloth -- should take care of that little obsession.

Since the device is now touchscreen, the act of highlighting and adding notes is MUCH improved. To highlight a passage you simply hold your finger down where you want to start highlighting and drag to the end of the passage. Voila! To add a note, use your finger to click the highlighted passage and add your note. Once the note is added, a notepad icon appears next to the passage for easy reading. It's also much easier to locate highlighted passages since the device automatically labels them with the quoted text if you don't indicate a specific note with which to identify the passage. In the past, the device randomly attached a number to the passages and bookmarks which made it almost impossible to identify at a glance.

The navigation is streamlined with five options: Home, Library, Shop, Search, Settings. The home screen itself is great, with a magazine-style layout. It includes clickable sections for Reading Now (shows current book and page number), New Reads (recent downloads), and What to Read Next (enter to shop B&N and view recommendations). The Library is also revamped a bit, with some options for filtering and ordering titles in one's library, and it combines Barnes and Noble NookBooks and books manually downloaded and added to the Nook together into one library (formerly two separate libraries).

Battery life also seems to be vastly improved. I've been reading a couple of hours a day since the 22nd of December, and my device is still at 69% charge.

Throughout the e-reader boom in the last few years, I've stuck to my guns on a couple of things: I prefer the Nook to other devices, and I prefer a DEDICATED E-READER!!! While I respect and am occasionally envious of those readers with NookColors and NookTablets, I know myself well enough to admit that those devices are probably not for me. Like so many areas of my life, I am easily distracted!!! If I have an option to hop on Facebook or play Angry Birds, I will probably do it! Even engaging in those things rather than reading. Why would I do that if I LOVE reading so much??? Because Facebook and games require far less engagement and mental capacity on my part. I love reading, but sometimes it's a struggle to settle in with so many other things going on. A dedicated e-reader helps me remain focused on what makes me feel fulfilled and put the other "plugged in" activities to the side.

Since I received my Simple Touch six days ago, I've read the majority of two books (will finish the second today). This is a byproduct of time off work and a new toy, but I also think I'll continue to enjoy this new e-reader for all the reasons I mentioned above. Hopefully it'll continue to enhance my reading into 2012!!!

Review: Nook Simple Touch


It's been almost two years since I received the first generation Barnes and Noble Nook e-reader. If you remember, I was thrilled with the device. I've remained pretty thrilled in general, but over the course of the two-year relationship I discovered a few annoyances:

1. The white frame and reflective touch-screen navigation were occasionally annoying. I had a habit of studying my double-chin in the touch-screen.

2. It was really too heavy to hold with one hand. Especially when it was "wearing" a cover.

When it came to getting a new Nook this year, I was somewhat noncommittal. I kinda felt guilty wanting a new e-reader since there was absolutely nothing technically wrong with my old one. On the other hand, there were parts of the Nook Simple Touch that really appealed to me:

1. The dark grey frame seemed like it would cut down on distraction and help make the contrast between the print and the e-ink page more noticeable.

2. No reflective navigation bar to throw my chins up at me.

3. Smaller, lighter.

4. Faster page turns, longer battery life!

My mother, in her infinite wisdom, went ahead and bought the Simple Touch for me for Christmas. Thrilled is me! All of the improvements I listed above are certainly true. I can comfortably hold the Simple Touch with one hand, even when it's wearing its cover. The reading screen is the same size, but the whole device is smaller and slimmer thanks to the exclusion of the navigation panel.

I've also discovered some nice surprises -- new features I never thought about that really jump out at me. First and foremost, the touchscreen is fantastic!!! It's responsive and quick -- none of that dreaded lag. I admit that I am super anal retentive about smudging screens and dust particles and all of that. I bought a cleaning cloth -- should take care of that little obsession.

Since the device is now touchscreen, the act of highlighting and adding notes is MUCH improved. To highlight a passage you simply hold your finger down where you want to start highlighting and drag to the end of the passage. Voila! To add a note, use your finger to click the highlighted passage and add your note. Once the note is added, a notepad icon appears next to the passage for easy reading. It's also much easier to locate highlighted passages since the device automatically labels them with the quoted text if you don't indicate a specific note with which to identify the passage. In the past, the device randomly attached a number to the passages and bookmarks which made it almost impossible to identify at a glance.

The navigation is streamlined with five options: Home, Library, Shop, Search, Settings. The home screen itself is great, with a magazine-style layout. It includes clickable sections for Reading Now (shows current book and page number), New Reads (recent downloads), and What to Read Next (enter to shop B&N and view recommendations). The Library is also revamped a bit, with some options for filtering and ordering titles in one's library, and it combines Barnes and Noble NookBooks and books manually downloaded and added to the Nook together into one library (formerly two separate libraries).

Battery life also seems to be vastly improved. I've been reading a couple of hours a day since the 22nd of December, and my device is still at 69% charge.

Throughout the e-reader boom in the last few years, I've stuck to my guns on a couple of things: I prefer the Nook to other devices, and I prefer a DEDICATED E-READER!!! While I respect and am occasionally envious of those readers with NookColors and NookTablets, I know myself well enough to admit that those devices are probably not for me. Like so many areas of my life, I am easily distracted!!! If I have an option to hop on Facebook or play Angry Birds, I will probably do it! Even engaging in those things rather than reading. Why would I do that if I LOVE reading so much??? Because Facebook and games require far less engagement and mental capacity on my part. I love reading, but sometimes it's a struggle to settle in with so many other things going on. A dedicated e-reader helps me remain focused on what makes me feel fulfilled and put the other "plugged in" activities to the side.

Since I received my Simple Touch six days ago, I've read the majority of two books (will finish the second today). This is a byproduct of time off work and a new toy, but I also think I'll continue to enjoy this new e-reader for all the reasons I mentioned above. Hopefully it'll continue to enhance my reading into 2012!!!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sugar in My Bowl: Real Women Write About Real Sex

Sex SEXXXX sex sex SEXY-SEX! Do we have that out of our systems now? Or maybe it was just me with that in my system. Whatever.

Sugar in My Bowl: Real Women Write About Real Sex first came to my attention when Natasha mentioned it over on her blog. I wasn't immediately interested in reading it, but when I saw it on BarnesandNoble.com and it was $2.99, my interest increased! I downloaded it, I read it on my new Nook in two days flat (over the holidays!!!), and the rest is history. Good history.

First, let's just get this right out of the way -- it's not sensational, it's not grodey (much), it's thoughtful, provocative essays, short stories, and there's even an illustrated comic and dramatic dialogey thing thrown in (waves at Eve Ensler). If sex makes you uncomfortable, you may squirm a little (lot) reading it, and if you're not uncomfortable, it might still make you squirm from time to time. But it'll also make you think, ponder, and take a minute to reflect on your own experiences, attitudes, and how they came to be what they are.

The pieces in this edited collection really do run the gamut of content, though I think I can safely say the quality of the writing is always high. I spent a good deal of time highlighting passages so I could remember all of the great moments I knew I'd want to remember for this review. I wish I could include them all, but it would be a book-long review.

There are a few things worth mentioning before I hop into commentary on the essays and stories themselves. I've seen on a couple of blogs when I was reading reviews of this collection, that readers were troubled by the inclusion of fiction within this collection. I get the sense that some readers felt the subtitle: "Real Women Write About Real Sex" created some weirdness with the inclusion of fiction. Having connected to some very real emotions through fiction in my lifetime, this aspect of the book was absolutely NOT a problem for me. Some of the moments I found to be personally truthful, touching, or even troubling came from the fictional pieces.

In fact, the first story that comes to mind when I think of this collection is Margot Magowan's "Light Me Up." Juliet is a new mother, married to Henry, and struggling with her sexuality in light of being a new mom. She feels ugly, used up, exhausted, confused, hormonal, empowered, embittered, and a host of other swirling emotions. The confusion in this story and the struggle between the two main characters rang so true to life, I was quick to start highlighting. However, I think it was ultimately Juliet's mental change of attitude about sex that really spoke volumes in this story.
There were other differences I noticed in myself. Sex, or even just blatant sexuality, on TV disgusted me--watching reality shows' horny drunks or all those women shaking their asses in videos. Previously, even when I didn't like something that was on, I often got sucked in, fascinated, curious, analyzing, trying to figure it all out. Now it was just gross. 
I was really pulling for Juliet as she worked through her feelings post-baby and I felt really sorry for her at times, triumphant for her at others. Magowan did a good job injecting a lot of meaning and eliciting an emotional response with the content of this story.

Another favorite in the collection was an essay by New York Times columnist, Gail Collins, called "Worst Sex" about how growing up in a Catholic school molded her young mind on the topic of sex. There was one particularly funny passage I could relate to growing up in a very conservative community and it goes like this...
If sinning took place, it was definitely going to be our responsibility. Boys were not much more than little sex robots, and they could not be held responsible for their actions. Once, we were all called to assembly to hear Charles Keating, the head of the Citizens for Decent Literature (and future star of a huge savings-and-loan scandal), who told us the story of a young mother who went walking down the road with her two small children while she was wearing shorts. The sight of her naked legs so overwhelmed a passing motorist that he swerved off the road and killed both the kids. And it was all their mother's fault. We were then asked to sign a pledge never to wear any kind of shorts, including the long Bermuda ones.
 And while I never experienced anything quite that extreme growing up, it's also not that far off the mark for Southern Baptists.

So what's the real draw to a book like Sugar in My Bowl? For me, I just find sex interesting. It's a basic human experience, but it's something we're all quite edgy about from time to time. I think Erica Jong expressed it nicely in her introduction to the book...
Because my contributors span the generations, we read about the great range of sexuality--subtle and overt. Sex has changed a lot, and it hasn't. Sex is more about imagination than friction. Most of these efforts are psychological rather than explicit. 
Overall, I would say this is a thinking woman's (or man's) book about sex. It's not stuffy and it's not sensational. It's not too straight laced or tight lipped but it's also not indulgently graphic. It's populated by self-proclaimed prudes and some free lovers. It's got a little bit for everyone and a whole lot of deep thought. Is it for the faint of heart or of stomach? No, probably not. There are some overt, graphic moments, but I never felt like they were for cheap thrills or pornographic.

I've mentioned in previous posts--mostly recently the review of The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories--that I have mixed feelings about explaining books in terms of other books, but in this case, I'm just going to take the plunge! If you enjoyed The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler, I think you stand a really good chance of enjoying this collection as well. I could not be happier to cap off 2011 with a book like this one that leaves me pondering into the new year.

Rating:
Snuggle -- Skewer

Pub. Date: June 2011
Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins
Format: E-book
ISBN-13: 9780062092205
Source: Purchased by me.

Sugar in My Bowl: Real Women Write About Real Sex

Sex SEXXXX sex sex SEXY-SEX! Do we have that out of our systems now? Or maybe it was just me with that in my system. Whatever.

Sugar in My Bowl: Real Women Write About Real Sex first came to my attention when Natasha mentioned it over on her blog. I wasn't immediately interested in reading it, but when I saw it on BarnesandNoble.com and it was $2.99, my interest increased! I downloaded it, I read it on my new Nook in two days flat (over the holidays!!!), and the rest is history. Good history.

First, let's just get this right out of the way -- it's not sensational, it's not grodey (much), it's thoughtful, provocative essays, short stories, and there's even an illustrated comic and dramatic dialogey thing thrown in (waves at Eve Ensler). If sex makes you uncomfortable, you may squirm a little (lot) reading it, and if you're not uncomfortable, it might still make you squirm from time to time. But it'll also make you think, ponder, and take a minute to reflect on your own experiences, attitudes, and how they came to be what they are.

The pieces in this edited collection really do run the gamut of content, though I think I can safely say the quality of the writing is always high. I spent a good deal of time highlighting passages so I could remember all of the great moments I knew I'd want to remember for this review. I wish I could include them all, but it would be a book-long review.

There are a few things worth mentioning before I hop into commentary on the essays and stories themselves. I've seen on a couple of blogs when I was reading reviews of this collection, that readers were troubled by the inclusion of fiction within this collection. I get the sense that some readers felt the subtitle: "Real Women Write About Real Sex" created some weirdness with the inclusion of fiction. Having connected to some very real emotions through fiction in my lifetime, this aspect of the book was absolutely NOT a problem for me. Some of the moments I found to be personally truthful, touching, or even troubling came from the fictional pieces.

In fact, the first story that comes to mind when I think of this collection is Margot Magowan's "Light Me Up." Juliet is a new mother, married to Henry, and struggling with her sexuality in light of being a new mom. She feels ugly, used up, exhausted, confused, hormonal, empowered, embittered, and a host of other swirling emotions. The confusion in this story and the struggle between the two main characters rang so true to life, I was quick to start highlighting. However, I think it was ultimately Juliet's mental change of attitude about sex that really spoke volumes in this story.
There were other differences I noticed in myself. Sex, or even just blatant sexuality, on TV disgusted me--watching reality shows' horny drunks or all those women shaking their asses in videos. Previously, even when I didn't like something that was on, I often got sucked in, fascinated, curious, analyzing, trying to figure it all out. Now it was just gross. 
I was really pulling for Juliet as she worked through her feelings post-baby and I felt really sorry for her at times, triumphant for her at others. Magowan did a good job injecting a lot of meaning and eliciting an emotional response with the content of this story.

Another favorite in the collection was an essay by New York Times columnist, Gail Collins, called "Worst Sex" about how growing up in a Catholic school molded her young mind on the topic of sex. There was one particularly funny passage I could relate to growing up in a very conservative community and it goes like this...
If sinning took place, it was definitely going to be our responsibility. Boys were not much more than little sex robots, and they could not be held responsible for their actions. Once, we were all called to assembly to hear Charles Keating, the head of the Citizens for Decent Literature (and future star of a huge savings-and-loan scandal), who told us the story of a young mother who went walking down the road with her two small children while she was wearing shorts. The sight of her naked legs so overwhelmed a passing motorist that he swerved off the road and killed both the kids. And it was all their mother's fault. We were then asked to sign a pledge never to wear any kind of shorts, including the long Bermuda ones.
 And while I never experienced anything quite that extreme growing up, it's also not that far off the mark for Southern Baptists.

So what's the real draw to a book like Sugar in My Bowl? For me, I just find sex interesting. It's a basic human experience, but it's something we're all quite edgy about from time to time. I think Erica Jong expressed it nicely in her introduction to the book...
Because my contributors span the generations, we read about the great range of sexuality--subtle and overt. Sex has changed a lot, and it hasn't. Sex is more about imagination than friction. Most of these efforts are psychological rather than explicit. 
Overall, I would say this is a thinking woman's (or man's) book about sex. It's not stuffy and it's not sensational. It's not too straight laced or tight lipped but it's also not indulgently graphic. It's populated by self-proclaimed prudes and some free lovers. It's got a little bit for everyone and a whole lot of deep thought. Is it for the faint of heart or of stomach? No, probably not. There are some overt, graphic moments, but I never felt like they were for cheap thrills or pornographic.

I've mentioned in previous posts--mostly recently the review of The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories--that I have mixed feelings about explaining books in terms of other books, but in this case, I'm just going to take the plunge! If you enjoyed The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler, I think you stand a really good chance of enjoying this collection as well. I could not be happier to cap off 2011 with a book like this one that leaves me pondering into the new year.

Rating:
Snuggle -- Skewer

Pub. Date: June 2011
Publisher: Ecco/HarperCollins
Format: E-book
ISBN-13: 9780062092205
Source: Purchased by me.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Christmas Recap: Of Toddlers and Bagged Drinks

So I promised a review of my new Nook today, and it most certainly will come this week, but I just had to take a minute to recap my Christmas, because it really did turn out well this year -- despite my original humbuggery. It was quite the drawn out affair with three separate celebrations (four if I include work, which I believe I will),  gifts, great food, and most important, family time and relaxation.

Wednesday the 21st, we set aside some time to exchange gifts at work. My current supervisor is a total sweetheart, and given that she is clued in on my love of owls, she really hooked me up!!! She bestowed upon me an owl kitchen timer and an owl candle from West Elm and my very own zen garden. I will be endlessly raking the zen garden sand if I take it to work, so I think I'm saving it for home.

My other work friends are also very kind and generous, treating me to a Starbucks gift card (already spent!), a Barnes and Noble gift card (in the process of being spent!), and our registrar crocheted a gorgeous scarf that I've already worn twice and with which I am thoroughly obsessed.

The second official round of celebration was with Greyson and my mom on the 22nd. Greyson was much more clued in to Christmas this year, and he had a fantabulous time tearing open gifts. Always the responsible toddler, he handed every single shred of paper off the gifts to me. The boy does not tolerate clutter. He's enjoying riding around on a Disney car, playing with a couple of racetrack toys, a dancing alligator, wearing new clothes, monster house shoes, and some other cool stuff!



My mom was very very generous with her gifts to me this year. As I mentioned in my previous post, she hooked me up with an upgrade: a new 2nd generation Nook (Simple Touch). She also gave me a great black sweater and a beautiful silver owl necklace.

Sorry about the quality! At least you can see a bit of the Nookiness, the owl  candle, and a self-gift: Vanilla Bean Noel from Bath and Body Works!
The third official round of celebration was on Christmas morning. Greyson, Chuck, the Rockets and I opened gifts, snacked on treats like chocolate truffles, cake pops, and peppermint bark, before a late lunch of ham and all the trimmings. The kids got a bunch of cool stuff, books included (Catching Fire for Rocketgirl and the third in the Skullduggery Pleasant series for Rocketboy). Greyson made out like a bandit AGAIN, and was still careful not to drop any paper.

Rocketboy is talking to me while Rocketgirl and Greyson look at a Cake Pops recipe book. 
Finally, we had my cousins over to my mom's house just yesterday. Greyson received some really cool monogrammed items (a blanket and t-shirt that say "Lil G"), and they treated my mom and I to several bagged alcoholic beverages. Have you seen these things? They're like margaritas in a Capri-Sun bag. Delicious and tidy.

I was glad everyone around here was happy for the holidays and I am thankful for time off work to spend with my family and time off to recharge my batteries. I'm feel light and holiday-floaty, my reading mojo is cranking, and I'll be refreshed when I return to work on the third. I hope all of you were as fortunate to spend time with loved ones and to slow down for your own sake.

A Christmas Recap: Of Toddlers and Bagged Drinks

So I promised a review of my new Nook today, and it most certainly will come this week, but I just had to take a minute to recap my Christmas, because it really did turn out well this year -- despite my original humbuggery. It was quite the drawn out affair with three separate celebrations (four if I include work, which I believe I will),  gifts, great food, and most important, family time and relaxation.

Wednesday the 21st, we set aside some time to exchange gifts at work. My current supervisor is a total sweetheart, and given that she is clued in on my love of owls, she really hooked me up!!! She bestowed upon me an owl kitchen timer and an owl candle from West Elm and my very own zen garden. I will be endlessly raking the zen garden sand if I take it to work, so I think I'm saving it for home.

My other work friends are also very kind and generous, treating me to a Starbucks gift card (already spent!), a Barnes and Noble gift card (in the process of being spent!), and our registrar crocheted a gorgeous scarf that I've already worn twice and with which I am thoroughly obsessed.

The second official round of celebration was with Greyson and my mom on the 22nd. Greyson was much more clued in to Christmas this year, and he had a fantabulous time tearing open gifts. Always the responsible toddler, he handed every single shred of paper off the gifts to me. The boy does not tolerate clutter. He's enjoying riding around on a Disney car, playing with a couple of racetrack toys, a dancing alligator, wearing new clothes, monster house shoes, and some other cool stuff!



My mom was very very generous with her gifts to me this year. As I mentioned in my previous post, she hooked me up with an upgrade: a new 2nd generation Nook (Simple Touch). She also gave me a great black sweater and a beautiful silver owl necklace.

Sorry about the quality! At least you can see a bit of the Nookiness, the owl  candle, and a self-gift: Vanilla Bean Noel from Bath and Body Works!
The third official round of celebration was on Christmas morning. Greyson, Chuck, the Rockets and I opened gifts, snacked on treats like chocolate truffles, cake pops, and peppermint bark, before a late lunch of ham and all the trimmings. The kids got a bunch of cool stuff, books included (Catching Fire for Rocketgirl and the third in the Skullduggery Pleasant series for Rocketboy). Greyson made out like a bandit AGAIN, and was still careful not to drop any paper.

Rocketboy is talking to me while Rocketgirl and Greyson look at a Cake Pops recipe book. 
Finally, we had my cousins over to my mom's house just yesterday. Greyson received some really cool monogrammed items (a blanket and t-shirt that say "Lil G"), and they treated my mom and I to several bagged alcoholic beverages. Have you seen these things? They're like margaritas in a Capri-Sun bag. Delicious and tidy.

I was glad everyone around here was happy for the holidays and I am thankful for time off work to spend with my family and time off to recharge my batteries. I'm feel light and holiday-floaty, my reading mojo is cranking, and I'll be refreshed when I return to work on the third. I hope all of you were as fortunate to spend time with loved ones and to slow down for your own sake.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Ate My Brain

Good (early) morning, my friends. Sorry to be posting after the fact, but like many others, Christmas ate my brain! The festivities started on Thursday and roll straight through today, so I'm just stealing this little snatch of time to see if you all survived.

I have to say, it's been a really good holiday season for me. It was off to a slow start, but these last few days have been filled with family time, treats to eat, books, great movies, and lots and lots of excited Greyson playing with new toys!!!

And see how I mentioned books up there in the list of goodness? Check this out...


Yeah, baby!!! I'll be back tomorrow with a review of my new Nook Simple Touch Reader, and you'll see a review of the first book I read on it coming up in a day or two. For now, I hope you're all recovering nicely, and if you have a little further to go with your Christmas celebrations, I hope it all goes smoothly for you!

Christmas Ate My Brain

Good (early) morning, my friends. Sorry to be posting after the fact, but like many others, Christmas ate my brain! The festivities started on Thursday and roll straight through today, so I'm just stealing this little snatch of time to see if you all survived.

I have to say, it's been a really good holiday season for me. It was off to a slow start, but these last few days have been filled with family time, treats to eat, books, great movies, and lots and lots of excited Greyson playing with new toys!!!

And see how I mentioned books up there in the list of goodness? Check this out...


Yeah, baby!!! I'll be back tomorrow with a review of my new Nook Simple Touch Reader, and you'll see a review of the first book I read on it coming up in a day or two. For now, I hope you're all recovering nicely, and if you have a little further to go with your Christmas celebrations, I hope it all goes smoothly for you!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Sisters Brothers

The Sisters Brothers,  by Patrick deWitt, is one of the year's most talked-about books. It's been popping up in the blogosphere everywhere, it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. And I found it on sale at Borders! Woohoo! Otherwise, I might not have picked it up at all.

I'm not into the westerns so much. I've read one other western and it was the horrific, freaking vile--but somewhat literarily appreciatable <--say that five times fast!--Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy.
Anyway, I steeled myself for reading The Sisters Brothers, but what I found was not quite what I expected.

 It's the story of two hitmen, Eli and Charlie Sisters, who are employed by the Commodore (typical western name) and on the prowl for a Gold Rush prospector they need to bump off. Eli, the tubbier, more philosophical of the two brothers is the story's narrator and I really kinda liked him. He was nice to whores and injured horses, gave money away as necessary to said whores and those suffering from ailments, and he waxed poetic here and there. A jerk with a heart of gold, really. At the end of the day, he was still willing to shoot someone if he had to, but he might feel badly about it afterward. Charlie, his brother, was not so philosophical, preferring to drink himself into oblivion and shoot whomever got in his way without so much as a backward glance.

So what was unexpected? The humor. It was deadpan and ironic in spots, silly in others. Eli had a soft spot for the newly-marketed toothbrush and he really was overly nice to those whores. The dynamic between Eli and Charlie was entertaining, and the spots they found themselves in as they traveled to kill the prospector were laughable at times: cursed by an old woman, a hotel burned down to their monetary peril, nearly killed by trappers. At other times they were gruesome: horse loses an eye, men covered in blisters and chemical burn.

This book is most definitely character-driven, which I do enjoy. I really felt invested in the brothers, especially Eli, and the "westernness" of it faded into the background, trumped by the humanity rather than the historical setting. That said, I bogged down about three quarters of the way through, but once I got over the hump, I was quick to finish the book.

This is one of those books that I appreciate for what the author was able to accomplish: a thought-provoking cast of characters and interesting psychological dilemmas. On the other hand, I'm not sure how long this book will stick with me. It certainly didn't bowl me over the way other novels have this year, though I appreciated it. It was a "healthy" read in this year's literary fiction diet.

Rating:
Snuggle (maybe a one-armed hug) -- Skewer

Pub. Date: April 2011
Publisher: Ecco 
Format: Hardcover
ISBN-10:  0062041266 
Source: Purchased by me.

The Sisters Brothers

The Sisters Brothers,  by Patrick deWitt, is one of the year's most talked-about books. It's been popping up in the blogosphere everywhere, it was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. And I found it on sale at Borders! Woohoo! Otherwise, I might not have picked it up at all.

I'm not into the westerns so much. I've read one other western and it was the horrific, freaking vile--but somewhat literarily appreciatable <--say that five times fast!--Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy.
Anyway, I steeled myself for reading The Sisters Brothers, but what I found was not quite what I expected.

 It's the story of two hitmen, Eli and Charlie Sisters, who are employed by the Commodore (typical western name) and on the prowl for a Gold Rush prospector they need to bump off. Eli, the tubbier, more philosophical of the two brothers is the story's narrator and I really kinda liked him. He was nice to whores and injured horses, gave money away as necessary to said whores and those suffering from ailments, and he waxed poetic here and there. A jerk with a heart of gold, really. At the end of the day, he was still willing to shoot someone if he had to, but he might feel badly about it afterward. Charlie, his brother, was not so philosophical, preferring to drink himself into oblivion and shoot whomever got in his way without so much as a backward glance.

So what was unexpected? The humor. It was deadpan and ironic in spots, silly in others. Eli had a soft spot for the newly-marketed toothbrush and he really was overly nice to those whores. The dynamic between Eli and Charlie was entertaining, and the spots they found themselves in as they traveled to kill the prospector were laughable at times: cursed by an old woman, a hotel burned down to their monetary peril, nearly killed by trappers. At other times they were gruesome: horse loses an eye, men covered in blisters and chemical burn.

This book is most definitely character-driven, which I do enjoy. I really felt invested in the brothers, especially Eli, and the "westernness" of it faded into the background, trumped by the humanity rather than the historical setting. That said, I bogged down about three quarters of the way through, but once I got over the hump, I was quick to finish the book.

This is one of those books that I appreciate for what the author was able to accomplish: a thought-provoking cast of characters and interesting psychological dilemmas. On the other hand, I'm not sure how long this book will stick with me. It certainly didn't bowl me over the way other novels have this year, though I appreciated it. It was a "healthy" read in this year's literary fiction diet.

Rating:
Snuggle (maybe a one-armed hug) -- Skewer

Pub. Date: April 2011
Publisher: Ecco 
Format: Hardcover
ISBN-10:  0062041266 
Source: Purchased by me.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pause for Christmas Spirit

Given some of the ever-present drama in "real life" lately, it's been a little hard for me to get into the Christmas spirit this year. The last week or so, Greyson and I have spent some time watching Christmas movies at night and I've watched a few Christmas specials after he goes to bed. It's helped my Christmas spirit along...a lot!

I'm REALLY picky about my holiday music, favoring songs like "O Holy Night" and other tunes that lend themselves to high-flying vocals. My fave musical special so far this year is the CMA Country Christmas. My favorite performance was "The Little Drummer Boy" a la Faith Hill. I should mention, I'm a little biased since I played the bass xylophone thingy to accompany this song in my 4th grade Christmas program. We rocked it.

Take it away, Faith!!!

Pause for Christmas Spirit

Given some of the ever-present drama in "real life" lately, it's been a little hard for me to get into the Christmas spirit this year. The last week or so, Greyson and I have spent some time watching Christmas movies at night and I've watched a few Christmas specials after he goes to bed. It's helped my Christmas spirit along...a lot!

I'm REALLY picky about my holiday music, favoring songs like "O Holy Night" and other tunes that lend themselves to high-flying vocals. My fave musical special so far this year is the CMA Country Christmas. My favorite performance was "The Little Drummer Boy" a la Faith Hill. I should mention, I'm a little biased since I played the bass xylophone thingy to accompany this song in my 4th grade Christmas program. We rocked it.

Take it away, Faith!!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings

I don't participate in Top Ten Tuesday regularly, but I always look forward to seeing my fellow bloggers' responses. When I saw this week's topic over at The Broke and the Bookish, I KNEW I had to jump into the fray. Tis the season to be wishlisting books! Here are 10 from my wishlist.

Zone One by Colson Whitehead
Because I'm all about a literary romp through a post-apocalyptic landscape. 

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Even though I know it's gonna tear me a proverbial emotional "new one." 

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Because I need to make peace with at least ONE Patchett novel. I've had no luck with the others.

Graveminder by Melissa Marr
Even though there is potential for cheese here, but still want to try. It looks ridiculously fun and potentially creepy.

Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten Troost
Because I have enjoyed other Troost books including The Sex Lives of Cannibals and Getting Stoned with Savages.

Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain
Because Tony is a kitchen god. An inflammatory, sensational, good-writery one. 

There but for the by Ali Smith
Because Hotel World blew my socks right off and even though I didn't have luck with The Accidental.

Blue Nights by Joan Didion
Despite the  fact that it's going to make me cry like an idiot.
I Married You for Happiness by Lily Tuck
Because it sound freaking amazing and underappreciated. I need a literary underdog.

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
Because I haven't liked one solitary thing Eugenides has written to this point, but I'm a sucker for an academic novel.

Top Ten Books I Hope Santa Brings

I don't participate in Top Ten Tuesday regularly, but I always look forward to seeing my fellow bloggers' responses. When I saw this week's topic over at The Broke and the Bookish, I KNEW I had to jump into the fray. Tis the season to be wishlisting books! Here are 10 from my wishlist.

Zone One by Colson Whitehead
Because I'm all about a literary romp through a post-apocalyptic landscape. 

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Even though I know it's gonna tear me a proverbial emotional "new one." 

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Because I need to make peace with at least ONE Patchett novel. I've had no luck with the others.

Graveminder by Melissa Marr
Even though there is potential for cheese here, but still want to try. It looks ridiculously fun and potentially creepy.

Lost on Planet China by J. Maarten Troost
Because I have enjoyed other Troost books including The Sex Lives of Cannibals and Getting Stoned with Savages.

Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain
Because Tony is a kitchen god. An inflammatory, sensational, good-writery one. 

There but for the by Ali Smith
Because Hotel World blew my socks right off and even though I didn't have luck with The Accidental.

Blue Nights by Joan Didion
Despite the  fact that it's going to make me cry like an idiot.
I Married You for Happiness by Lily Tuck
Because it sound freaking amazing and underappreciated. I need a literary underdog.

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
Because I haven't liked one solitary thing Eugenides has written to this point, but I'm a sucker for an academic novel.

 
Images by Freepik