Posts

Weekend reads and some free-range reading...

Image
After going through a glut of reads compelling enough to keep me reading, I've hit a dry spell.

Despite being on the hook for a number of reviews, the galleys and digital ARCs just haven't grabbed me. So I did some browsing through my library's online catalog and made some impulse requests, and so far, the experiment has worked!

My weekend reads is Andrea Barrett's short story collection, Ship Fever, which has been recommended to me more than once by a variety of readers I trust. I grabbed some books that I'm familiar with -- a Penelope Lively I haven't read, The Girl from Rawblood which crossed my radar sometime in the last twelve months -- as well as some I've never heard of -- Silvina Ocampo.

I'll resume Middlemarch on Monday.

What are you reading this weekend?

Muddling through Middlemarch...

Image
I'm muddling my way through Middlemarch, a read I've long had on my TBR and am finally getting to because my book club selected it for our September read.

I anticipated loving it for ... reasons ... and at times I'm enjoying it, while other times I feel like it's going over my head. It's been a long time since a book has hit me this way, so I'm trying to roll with that -- and for good and for bad, there isn't another book clamoring to be read. Middlemarch it is.

Have you read Middlemarch? Love it? Hate it? Reading anything great right now?

Book Review: The One That Got Away by Melissa Pimentel

Image
First line: It was Monday night.

Persuasion is my all-time favorite Jane Austen, so when I came across this Persuasion-inspired romantic comedy, I had to have it. It ended up being a very zippy read, super fluffy, the kind of thing you can dip in and out of easily.

Our heroine, Ruby Atlas, comes from a small town in Massachusetts where her father amassed a wealth in real estate. Her sister Piper is high-strung and snobbish. Before heading to her first grown up job after college, Ruby meets Ethan Bailey, son of a mechanic, who bartends at a neighborhood dive. It's instant chemistry between them. But not perfect.

In the now, Piper is engaged to be married, and Ruby is her maid of honor. Only hitch? Piper is marrying Ethan Bailey's best friend, and Ethan is no longer a poor kid from the wrong side of time. He's a billionaire tech inventor, lauded and sought after, and Ruby is in agony at having to see him again. The novel alternates between this story line and that of their ti…

Weekend reads and feeling witchy...

Image
Another week in which I didn't land on something to read; I've got nine? ten books going -- and by going, I mean, I've started and have read a few pages and then moved on to something else -- and I keep perusing others in hope something sticks.

In the meantime, I'm deeply distracted by a new tarot deck -- the Ostara Tarot -- which is gorgeous. So my weekend reads is ... reading for me!

What are you reading this weekend?

Book Review: River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

Image
First line: Winslow Remington Houndstooth was not a hero.

I wanted to love this book so badly, and I'm so unhappy that I didn't even like it.

It has all the things that should make it a book I adore -- premise, characters, setting -- but the end result is weirdly flat, predictable, and boring. (It took me about three weeks to push through 120ish pages!)

Gailey's story imagines a US where hippopotamus ranches exist -- the result of a historical proposal that was rejected in our world, but was embraced in hers. The delta of Louisiana is home to hippo ranches and swamps full of violent, vicious feral hippos. A crew of criminals and misfits is hired to do some job (I'm still fuzzy on what it was, precisely, they were to do!) and it doesn't go to plan.

In a nutshell, I don't think Gailey had enough space to really stretch out and run. Everything in this novella smacked of shortcuts and assumption of goodwill, as if the reader has already bought into this ragtag bunc…

Weekend reads, and I got nothing...

Image
I'm late with this post -- which also pretty much has nothing to do with books -- because of allergies and the migraine that came with them.

Goodreads says I'm currently reading 9 books, which sounds both totally possible and really quite ridiculous.

What are you reading this weekend? Anything I should pick up that would rattle me out of this fug?

Teaser Tuesday, August 1: Hippos!

Image
My teaser for today comes from River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey. It's a novella that imagines 1890s Louisiana as if an insane idea had really been brought to fruition: hippos were bred in the Delta for meat.

Our hero, Winslow Houndstooth, is a hippo rancher, hired to do a mysterious job in a part of Louisiana thick with violent, feral hippos. He assembles a crack team, and as you can probably tell from my summary so far, it's a bananas story. (But so, so intriguing!)

"I think you've only been retired for a year, and already, you'd poison a stranger just to break up the monotony." (p22)
The sequel, Taste of Marrow, comes out next month.

So, what do you think? Would you read more? What are you reading right now?

Mailbox Monday, July 24

Image
It's been a long time since I've done a Mailbox Monday post, but I've gotten some fun arrivals, so I thought I'd share.

Have you gotten your hands on any of these? What new arrivals are you excited about?



The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
The Love Letters of Abelard and Lily by Laura Creedle



The Velveteen Daughter by Laurel Davis Huber
A Secret Sisterhood: The Literary Friendships of Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Virginia Woolf by Emily Midorikawa



Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
An Unkindness of Ghosts by Rivers Solomon



Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan
Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker



The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
Yesterday by Felicia Yap

Book Review: See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

Image
First line: He was still bleeding.

This book is delicious.

It's also so bonkers. But delightfully so.

This debut novel explores the infamous Borden murders, opening with when the first body is found. The novel then shifts to two days before, and eventually, the days after the murder, and the story unfolds through Lizzie, her sister Emma, their maid Bridget, and Benjamin, an itinerant stranger.

Everyone in this book -- save for Bridget -- are awful. If one couldn't think of a reason for the murders, Schmidt offers a handful. The novel is creepy but not gory (just right for me), and there's a wonderfully claustrophobic feel to the narrative. It's a story, too, about frustrated ambitions and passions, petty jealousies and dysfunctional love. (I was reminded a bit of Shirley Jackson's We Have Always Lived in the Castle, which made me wonder if Jackson was inspired at all by the Borden murders and if Schmidt had been inspired by Jackson...)

My only complaint about this …

Book Review: The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry

Image
First line: A young man walks down by the banks of the Blackwater under the full cold moon.

I wanted to read this book the instant I heard about (shortlist for Baileys Women's Prize, I believe), and my hunger for it was justified because now, a week after finishing, I'm contemplating whether I can reread it before it's due (and if I can justify buying it).

Set in 1893, the novel follows Cora Seaborne, a new widow, who has a voraciously hungry intellect and a naturalist's passions. Freed from her cruel husband, she goes to Essex on a friend's suggestion, where she meets William Ransome, the parish vicar. Expecting him to be brutish or comfortably corpulent, she instead finds a mind like her's, hungry for knowledge -- but where she honors science, he honors faith.

The wild stories of the Essex serpent -- blamed for the deaths of livestock and children -- shape the landscape, the people, their experiences. Cora hopes to find it while Will believes it to be imagina…

The Essential Guide to Jane Austen

Image
Today is the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's death. I'm sipping coffee out of my ginormous coffee mug emblazoned with an L.M. Alcott quote, my new copy of Middlemarch by my elbow, and I plan on mainlining every Austen-inspired movie I own, so ... crushing it?

Penguin Random House/Signature Reads has made an Essential Guide to Jane Austen, a 29-page compilation with short pieces about Austen and her beloved works, and it's a fabulously fun way to get your Austen fix without having to call out of work because of an urgent need for an Austen reread.

If you end up paging through it, here are some of the things I want to discuss via comments or on social media:

Liz Kay's "6 Jane Austen Novels Ranked by Their Sexiness" (I 100% agree with her 'Peak Sexiness' ranking as it is my favorite Austen.)Charlie Lovett's "Pride and Prejudice on Film: The Best –and the Not-So-Great" (He dislikes the 1980 version that my wife so adores, which is fine by…

Book Review: Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

Image
First line: Why did Mindi want an arranged marriage?

I pretty much started hungering for this book the moment I learned its title. How can you resist?

The premise of this book is equally fun: Nikki, a young Londoner from a Sikh family, is casting about for direction when she becomes a writing instructor at a Sikh community center. At odds with her family, Nikki's foray with the Sikh widows in her class ends up centering her within a serious tension in their community, even as their wild class liberates the women and reveals the deep passion many -- including widows -- hunger after.

This book was swimming with laugh out loud moments, especially early on, when the class discusses their thoughts on passion, seduction, and romance. Jaswal includes excerpts of the erotic stories the widows pen, and they're fun.

The feel of this book will be familiar to anyone who watches contemporary British comedies like Bend It Like Beckham or Calendar Girls ("charming" keeps coming to …

Weekend reads and weather moodiness...

Image
Boston has had full on weather mood swings: 90 degrees and steamy one day; 60s and chilly another. Today is a gray day, but it remains to be seen if it'll be cold or muggy.

This weekend, I hope to finish up the wonderfully funny  Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal, and I plan on starting Coming of Age: The Sexual Awakening of Margaret Mead by Deborah Beatriz Blum.

What are you reading this weekend?

Book Review & Giveaway: Lost Boy by Christina Henry

Image
First line: Once I was young, and young forever and always, until I wasn't.

This book ruined my life in the best way.

Christina Henry's novel imagines that James Cook wasn't originally a villain. Once, James was a boy named Jamie, and he was Peter Pan's first playmate. His most beloved one.

But after years and years and years of living with Peter, Jamie has aged in some ways -- not physically, but mentally. He sees the arbitrary, insane cruelty of Peter Pan -- someone who yearns only for fun, but whose idea of fun includes real bloodshed and death -- and Jamie eventually tires of it.

I haven't actually read any of Barrie's original work on Peter Pan, but am familiar with the story as portrayed by Disney and popular culture. Henry's take is so achingly good, because when you get down to it, there is something horrifically vicious in Peter's behavior and world. Jamie -- who wants nothing more than to just love Peter as he once did, and be loved in return …

Teaser Tuesday, July 11

Image
My Teaser Tuesday for this week is from the unbelievably good Lost Boy by Christina Henry, a novel that imagines Captain Hook's origins.

I read it in about a day and a half, and I'm still reeling.

My review (with a giveaway!) posts later this week. In the meantime, enjoy this juicy tidbit:

I felt the burn of envy deep in my chest, scorching hard enough to bring tears to my eyes. When had he learned such a thing? Why hadn't he shared it with us?

Why hadn't he shared it with me?

The warmth I'd felt when he smiled at me was gone. I didn't know Peter anymore, not the way I used to. (p105)
What do you think? Have any teasers of your own to share?