High Summer Readathon Starting Line

high summer ratTechnically, the readathon started yesterday, but I’m just getting around to posting about it. Here’s what I’m hoping to get through while I’m home on vacation this week:

- finish The Black Hawk by Joanna Bourne  DONE!

- finish More Than This by Patrick Ness

- read through Chapter 13 of East of Eden by John Steinbeck: Currently on Ch. 6 and it’s going well (for me, not for Adam…)

- start 2 a.m. at the Cat’s Pyjamas by Marie-Helene Bertino

I would love to be able to finish Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie as well, but it will depend on when I can check it back out from the library. And as we’re leaving for the U. S. on Sunday, there will be one or two things to get done beside reading this week as well!

Happy readathon to all who are participating, and enjoy your reading week regardless–

UPDATE: I’m not sure if I’ll have another chance to post before the end of the readathon as we’re leaving for the U.S. on Sunday, so I’m updating this post with the progress I’ve made so far.

Readalongs and Readathons

Hello, all! I think it says something about my current state of mind that when I feel like blogging at the moment, it’s mostly just to chat. I don’t have anything particularly profound to say about books or the state of the world or anything other than my own naval. So be it–I may need to keep my focus inward for the next little while, and that feels okay.

I’m getting ready to participate in a couple of reading/blogging events that I thought I should mention. Besides Paris in July which is going on right now (I haven’t posted anything yet, but that should change this week), I’ve decided to participate in the Estella Society’s readalong of East of Eden by John Steinbeck, which officially starts on the 21st.  The only Steinbeck I’ve read is The Red Pony, which scarred me for life at the tender age of 12. Hopefully I’m mature enough to handle this one (ahem).

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Finally, I’m going to join in the High Summer Readathon from July 21st – 27th, as I will actually be home from work that week and should have some time to read. I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to read for it, but probably a combination of my reading for the other two events and some fun, spur-of-the-moment stuff.

high summer rat

But enough about me. How are you? :) Are you enjoying your summer? Doing anything new and exciting? Reading anything so fabulous that you just have to tell the world all about it?

All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld

all-the-birds-singingFormat: E-book galley

Length: 240 pages

Publisher: Random House UK, Vintage Publishing

Source: NetGalley

From the publisher:

Jake Whyte is living on her own in an old farmhouse on a craggy British island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds. Her disobedient collie, Dog, and a flock of sheep are her sole companions, which is how she wanted it to be. But every few nights something—or someone—picks off one of the sheep and sets off a new deep pulse of terror. There are foxes in the woods, a strange boy and a strange man, rumors of an obscure, formidable beast. But there is also Jake’s past—hidden thousands of miles away and years ago, held in the silences about her family and the scars that stripe her back—a past that threatens to break into the present. With exceptional artistry and empathy, All the Birds, Singing reveals an isolated life in all its struggles and stubborn hopes, unexpected beauty, and hard-won redemption.

Here’s what I thought:

This book both was and wasn’t what I was expecting it to be. The story moves between the past and the present in the life of Jake, a mysterious and aloof young woman who raises sheep on an island. There is never any clear indication of the time and place is which a certain section of the book occurs, so I found myself often confused about when particular events happened and how the different sections related to one another.

Jake’s character is revealed through her interactions with other characters and her reactions to the events that take place. The ‘flashbacks’ to her past help the reader to understand how her current self, with all its peculiarities, developed through various difficult experiences she lives through while a teenager living in Australia. The defining moment of her life is only exposed at the end of the novel, and although tragic it wasn’t at all what I was expecting and thus its revealing felt very anticlimactic.

All the Birds, Singing is well-written and suspenseful, with an interesting main character, but I can’t say that I really enjoyed the book overall. I found it very hard to relate to Jake and was left with the impression that I was missing something–some underlying meaning to the events of the story–that would have tied things together in a more satisfying way.

Thanks so much to Random House UK, Vintage Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book.

Musical Monday

Hello all–hope your summer is treating you well. Things are stressful here, although little by little I do think we’re making progress on our big move. The girls finished up school last Friday and are off for a few weeks of quality time with the grandparents.

One of my stress relievers of choice is music, and I’ve been listening to a lot of good stuff lately. On this rainy Monday morning (here in France, anyway), I thought I would share a few of my recent favorites. Enjoy!

The June Wrap-Up and July Reads

apt-w-a-viewI will miss seeing this mountain view from my window every day. It’s slowly starting to feel real that in less than two months we will be in the U.S. to stay (for a while, at least). So soon, yet still so far away.

I can tell that it’s beginning to sink in because I’m starting to worry about things like school for girls (will they be able to adjust easily? Should I hold them back a year or keep them in their current grade?) It’s starting to get real for the rest of the family, too, as we say goodbye to friends leaving for summer vacations and have “last” experiences–the last time we’ll do certain things. Sad.

At the same time, I’m hopeful and expectant and I think the excitement will kick in as it gets closer. It’s hard to focus on anything else, particularly my job that is winding down. I’ve been reading quite a bit in a concentrated way, probably as a way to turn off the mental hamster wheel for a while and just escape into a good book.

I finished five books this month:

Labor Day by Joyce Mayard

The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson

A Faint Cold Fear by Karin Slaughter

The Martian by Andy Weir

This One is Mine by Maria Semple

They were all good books. I really enjoyed the audio of Labor Day as it was read by the author’s son, actor Wilson Bethel, who did a great job. The Martian was total escapism but lots of fun, and This One is Mine was classic Semple and a worthy predecessor to Bernadette.

I’m planning to join in Paris in July in the month to come. I’m not sure exactly what I’ll be reading, but this event is always a fun time and has special significance for me this year as it will mark the end of my time as an expat in France.

I’ve been making a conscious effort to accept fewer books for review, mainly because life is overwhelming enough at the moment and I need to keep my commitments to a minimum. With that in mind, I don’t actually have any reading that I absolutely have to get done this month. Here’s what I’d like to read in July:

Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor – I’m about halfway through this one and really enjoying it. I’ll probably read the second one, Days of Blood & Starlight, immediately after.

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie - I’m about halfway through this one, too, but I need to re-check it out from the library to be able to finish.

Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami – I’m about a third of the way through this one, but to be honest it is boring me to tears. Does it get better? Anyway, I feel like I need to finish it as it was a loaner from my boss.

A Movable Feast by Ernest Hemingway (for Paris in July)

What are you planning to read in July?

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner!

literarybloghopAfter having hand counted the ballots and used the trusty random number generator at Random.org, I can officially announce that the winner of the Literary Blog Hop Giveaway is….

Jennifer from The Relentless Reader!

Congrats, Jennifer! I’ll be sending you an email to get your mailing address and to confirm your choice of prize as being The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I hope that you’ll enjoy this amazing book as much as I did.

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A Few of My Favorite Books

I saw this meme over at Love, Laughter, Insanity (Trish’s blog) and thought it would be a fun way to start out the week. If you want to play along, just be sure to link back so everyone can see your responses.

A book you’ve read more than once:
Rich in Love by Josephine Humphries. This was my favorite book as a teenager and I really need to do another re-read as an adult.

A book you would take on a desert island:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen–because I can read it over and over again without ever getting tired of it.

A book that made you cry:
Books make me cry all the time, so this is not much of a distinction. The most recent one that I can remember was Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein.

A book that scared you:
I don’t really read scary books, but Amity and Sorrow by Peggy Riley freaked me out.

A book that made you laugh out loud:
I laughed a lot reading The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick–it’s a good movie but an ever better (and funnier) book.

A book that disgusted you:
Disgusted is a strong word. I “profoundly disapproved” of the way The Quick by Lauren Owen ended up being about something other than what I thought it was about.

A book you loved in preschool:
A Pocket for Corduroy by Don Freeman or The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord (I have strong memories of both of these.)

A book you loved in elementary school:
All of the Ramona books by Beverly Cleary. The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

A book you loved in middle school:
The Babysitters Club series by Ann M. Martin.

A book you loved in high school:
The Secret HIstory by Donna Tartt and The Invisible Circus by Jennifer Egan.

A book you hated in high school:
Probably something that I had to read for class, although we read some pretty good books, too. Maybe Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry? I just didn’t get it.

A book you loved in college:
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf, The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo… Do I really have to pick only one?

A book that challenged your identity:
Most recently, Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’m still struggling with that one.

A series that you love:
Julia Spencer-Fleming’s Clare/Russ mystery series.

Your favorite horror book:
I don’t read horror.

Your favorite science fiction book:
See above? Actually, I’m more likely to read science-fiction than horror. I’m in the middle of reading The Martian by Andy Weir. I tend to prefer science-fiction that crosses genre boundaries.

Your favorite fantasy book:
I loved The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

Your favorite mystery:
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson.

Your favorite biography:
Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand. Yes, it’s a biography of a horse, and it’s awesome.

Your favorite classic:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. I would have probably said Pride and Prejudice once upon a time, by Brontë has gotten under my skin.

Your favorite romance book:
I loved Something Blue by Emily Giffin, although I’m not a big fan of hers in general.

Your favorite book not on this list:
A Girl Named Zippy by Haven Kimmel. This book is just wonderful and hilarious.

What book are you currently reading:
The Martian by Andy Weir
.

What book have you been meaning to read:
I really want to get to The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt soon.

Are any of your favorites on this list? What would you add?