Category Archives: reading

2014 Women Challenge self-reminder

Women ChallengeValentina issued the 2014 Women Challenge and I am bumped it up to Wonder Woman this year in planning to read 20 or more titles written by female authors. My count stands at only ten, so I need to put my cape and gold bracelets on and read!  

Titles read so far:

Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories by Karen Russell

Black and Blue by Anna Quindlen

MaddAddam (MaddAddam Trilogy #3) by Margaret Atwood

Their Eyes were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Pigs in Heaven (Greer Family #2) by Barbara Kingsolver

Molly by Sandra White

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? And Other Concerns by Mindy Kaling

The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh (reviewed here)

Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler

Hippie Boy: A Girl’s Story by Ingrid Ricks

And I’m currently reading:

TMI Mom: Oversharing My Life by Heather Davis

The pick for my book club next month is The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty. It sounds a little like chick lit, but I’ve been assured it is much more than that. My “to be read” list also includes a new title being released by Margaret Atwood, Stone Mattress, some Virginia Woolf, and other great female writers, so I’m confident in my ability to meet Valentina’s challenge. I’m not scared!

It’s not too late – you can join, too! Link up and share your titles to support female authors.

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The Weight of Blood – book review

McHughCountry noir — as dubbed by one of my favorite authors, Daniel Woodrell, is on my top shelf of genres.  So I don’t mind dark brooding stories. Living in the same part of the United States as the fictional town of Henbane, we are lucky to be somewhat oblivious to the realistic base for this type of crime. The author began her book tour locally and mentioned at her first signing how she got the idea from a real life crime scenario that happened not too far away from here. While this particular tale is about some people who are seriously creepy and depraved, the events are told in such a way that a more desensitized reader (like me) continues eagerly turning pages.

Although the “culprit” emerged early on, I kept grasping at Lila’s outcome and her daughter Lucy’s future. My curiosity was piqued by more than just the beautifully crafted descriptions of Ozarks’ scenery I’m used to but that some people aren’t privileged to see. These characters became real women whose predicaments made me cringe, and I hoped in vain for the best for both protagonists.

The scenario in this book was more palatable than some to which it’s being compared. McHugh’s characters meant more to me than most of those in a Daniel Woodrell or Gillian Flynn story, because I wanted to like them. As far as the connections to those authors being drawn, there was more hopefulness for the women of Henbane regardless of its misery. Even though I realize the fuller desperation of Woodrell’s and Flynn’s females, my overall impression of that work may (unfortunately or unfairly) fall on how well they draw unlikable people. McHugh’s main characters are sympathetic, while Flynn admits to creating the lesser-seen female villain, and Woodrell many times pens women for whom there is little hope at all. Who’s to say which is more realistic of the three styles? McHugh is a burgeoning author who deserves her own kudos if she can ever escape the comparisons.

Even though I sing praises for McHugh’s ability to build tension, her characters aren’t 100% flawless. I had a hard time believing the implicit loyalty between the Dane brothers, family ties be damned. That much sociopathy surely limits the ability to truly love other people, even family, so the fierce devotion did not ring true. I, however, loved the juxtaposition of that loyalty with moral conscience and how the two concepts competed against each other in all the interlaced characters’ lives. The way McHugh weaved those ideas throughout this too-true-to-life crime story was done very well.

Truth is truly stranger and sadder than fiction, but we can’t live in constant fear of the criminally anti-social elements in our midst. I prefer to remain mindfully unaware, at the risk of living in denial, of that ugly felonious sort and just read about it through the creative capacity of writers like McHugh and Woodrell. People like the Henbanians (Henbanites?) are everywhere, and I carelessly choose to believe in the good (ala Lucy) and middle-of-the-roaders — those long teetering toward the good side (Jamie), even if that road is paved with gravel out in the middle of nowhere. Besides, it’s pretty out there.

I’d rather think the Birdies out-number the Joe Bills. Naive as it may be, I want to believe more quality citizens exist than degenerates. Let’s hope they’re the out-liers, the miscreants just laying low, hiding in plain sight but concealing their actions from detection, left to speculation within a good book like The Weight of Blood.

 

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Katy’s top ten favorite book quotes

Top 10Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because Jen is particularly fond of lists. She loves to share lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!
Each week she posts a new Top Ten list that one of her bloggers there will answer. Everyone is welcome to join! All she asks is that you link back to The Broke and the Bookish on your own Top Ten Tuesday post AND add your name to the Linky widget so that everyone can check out other bloggers lists. If you don’t have a blog, just post your answers as a comment. Have fun with it! It’s a fun way to get to know your fellow bloggers.
My Top Ten Favorite Quotes from Books:
1. “It’s not time to worry yet”
2. “She’s got some sort of notion in her head concerning the eternal rights of women.”
3. “Each one of us is left to choose our own quality of life and take pleasure where we find it with the understanding that, like Mom used to say, sooner or later something’s gonna get you.”
4. “one who awakens gradually out of a dream, a delicious, grotesque, impossible dream, to feel again the realities pressing into her soul”
5. “So many books, so little time.”
6. “So this was the rest of his life. It felt like a party to which he’d been invited, but at an address he couldn’t actually locate. Someone must be having fun at it, this life of his; only, right at the moment, it wasn’t him.”
7. “I went to collect the few personal belongings which…I held to be invaluable: my cat, my resolve to travel, and my solitude.”
― Colette
8. “And he waited. It was only for a few seconds, but it felt like a small forever.”
9. “What she was finding also was how one book led to another, doors kept opening wherever she turned and the days weren’t long enough for the reading she wanted to do.”
10. “He could see plainly that she was not herself. That is, he could not see that she was becoming herself and daily casting aside that fictitious self which we assume like a garment with which to appear before the world.”
What are some of your favorites?

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2014 Women Challenge

Women ChallengeIn January I accepted a challenge from Valentina at Peek a Book to read at least 16 books in 2013 that were written by female authors. I am glad to report having met my goal already by reading a total of 22 books by women authors, not including nine children’s books read with my young son that were also written by women. Only 31 of the 70 titles I’ve read so far this year and only two of the six I have going right now were written by women, though.

Can the assumption be made I have a penchant for male authors, or my book club picks more male authors than female, or maybe there are more men writing popular books? Certainly not enough information is there to draw a logical conclusion, but at least I met my goal. My list includes some of my *favorites* of the year, too! It includes:

Amy Falls Down by Jincy Willett

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn *

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

Moranthology by Caitlin Moran

12 Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis *in top five of 2013 (author’s first novel)

Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler

Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman

The Penelopiad: The Myth of Penelope and Odysseus by Margaret Atwood

Kindred by Octavia E. Butler *

Brain on Fire:  My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan

Dahlia’s Gone:  A Novel by Katie Estill *

The Silver Star by Jeanette Walls *

The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman

The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn *

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Bossypants by Tina Fey *

Why Have Kids? by Jessica Valenti

How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran *

Valentina is back at it again. She has issued the 2014 Women Challenge and I am bumping it up this time. Even though I proved myself a Wonder Woman by last year’s standards, I’m going for a level of 20 or more to get there again in 2014. She says:

Welcome to the second edition of the “Women Challenge”!

This challenge will make us want to read more books of any kind written by women, so choose whatever you like and get involved!
Set your level and, if you like, leave me a comment on this post listing your three favourite women writers, in order to suggest new names to other participants as well.

Here are mine (they are just the first ones coming to my mind):
* Simone De Beauvoir
* Fannie Flagg
* Joanne Harris
Rules:

* anyone can join;
* you don’t need a blog to partecipate: if you are a non-blogger please leave a comment with a link (if you review elsewhere) to your review or with the list of the books you read and the level you choose;
* audio, e-books, bound books and re-reads are ok;
* create a sign up post on your blog and post the link in the Linky below (scroll down please, it’s at the end of the italian translation);
* challenge goes from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014;
* here you can link for your reviews.
Levels:

Level 1: BABY GIRL – read 5 books written by a woman author
Level 2: GIRLS POWER – read 6 to 15 books written by a woman
Level 3: SUPER GIRL – read 16 to 20 books written by a woman
Level 4: WONDER WOMAN – read 20+ books written by a woman

It’s never too late to join!
Have fun and good luck! 🙂

Perhaps part of the challenge’s purpose is to introduce readers to authors they’ve otherwise never read, which I had the pleasure of doing in 2013.

My favorites, though, remain Margaret Atwood, Alice Walker, and Octavia E. Butler. Lucky for me, I have a ton left of each of their bodies of work to finish.

Accept the challenge yourself, and join in the fun!

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www Wednesday (Sept. 18)

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

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

This meme is sponsored by MizB at Should be Reading.

*PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT with either the link to your own WWW Wednesdays post, or share your answers in a comment here. Thanks! :D

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading Moranthology by Caitlin Moran and listening to Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver (trying a second time).

Moranthology

  Prodigal Summer

What did you recently finish reading?

Our last book club pick was The Twelves Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis, and it was was tragically sad and excellent at the same time!

12 Tribes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

My book club will read Truck: A Love Story next. We need something light after reading Hattie.

Truck

 

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www Wednesday (August 21)

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

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

Link back to the the original post at Should be Reading.

What are you currently reading?

I haven’t finished this month’s book club choice, although we’ve already discussed it:

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And I just started reading:

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What did you recently finish reading?

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What do you think you’ll read next?

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Next month’s book club pick looks interesting!

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www Wednesday (July 24)

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

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

Link back to the the original post at Should be Reading.

Now I’m listening to

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I just finished

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my review

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Next I’ll read

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www Wednesday – June 26

This weekly book meme is hosted at Should Be Reading.
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?
What are you currently reading?
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It is very good so far!
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It’s too soon to tell about this one, but Neil Gaiman rarely disappoints.
What did you recently finish reading?
ImageMy review is here.
What do you think you’ll read next?
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What are you reading?  Join in the fun and link back to Miz B’s original post.

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www Wednesday (June 5)

This meme is hosted by Should Be Reading.
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’m currently reading
book KH
Recently I finished
book DE
and reviewed it on goodreads.
And I plan to read
book NG
which is apparently a prologue to his new book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane.  I love Neil Gaiman so much!
*
What are you reading?  Share it here or link back to MizB’s original post.  Happy reading!

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www Wednesday – May 29

This meme is hosted by Should Be Reading.
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?
*

My book club’s latest choice is A Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers, which I’ve just begun reading. I’ve long wanted to read his What Is the What but have yet to do so.

Another author I’ve recently come to like is Gillian Flynn, and I was listening to Dark Places until it came due at the library. I like dark, and it delivers, so I’ll definitely renew it when my reservation comes back around!

I just finished The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula le Guin from 1971. It could be claimed as one of the original ideas as far as post-apocalyptic fiction is concerned, and perhaps ground-breaking, but there are so many others I’ve enjoyed much more.

It’s only just been released, but I’ve been excited about Khaled Hosseini’s new book And the Mountains Echoed for quite a while now. His other two titles, The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, set a high bar for him to meet. I love that those books possibly introduced foreign worlds to some otherwise sheltered American readers who could then see the characters as real people instead of simply as exotic objects.

www_wednesdays

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