December 31, 2014

Books Read 2014

I've noted FAVORITES, FIND MYSELF THINKING ABOUT THE MOST, and MOST FUN at the end of the list. If I've reviewed a book, you will find a link labeled "thoughts" next to the book title and author.

January

1. The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
2. Maman's Homesick Pie by Donia Bijan
3. "A Question of Riches" in A Glove Shop in Vienna and Other Stories by Eva Ibbotson
4. Beauty and the Werewolf (series) by Mercedes Lackey
5. Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata (thoughts)
6. Second Watch (series) by J.A. Jance
7. Ethan Frome (novella) by Edith Wharton
8. Maisie Dobbs (series) by Jacqueline Winspear

February

8.  Notorious Nineteen (series) by Janet Evanovich
9. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (thoughts)
10. Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand (series) by Carrie Vaughn
11. Kitty Raises Hell (series) by Carrie Vaughn
12. Light Boxes by Shane Jones (thoughts)
13. Diary by Chuck Palahniuk
14. Kitty's House of Horrors (series) by Carrie Vaughn

March

15. Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
16. Heartless (series) by Gail Carriger
17. Timeless (series) by Gail Carriger
18. Just Kids by Patti Smith

April

19. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
20. Show Your Work by Austin Kleon
21. Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore
22. Kitty Goes to War (series) by Carrie Vaughn
23. Kitty's Big Trouble (series) by Carrie Vaughn
24. "Are Women Human" (essay) by Dorothy Sayers (thoughts)
25. Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut (thoughts)
26. Every Man for Himself by Beryl Bainbridge (thoughts)
27. Fables, Volume 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham
28. Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
29. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton (thoughts)

May
 
30. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
31. The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut (thoughts - video, thoughts - written)
32. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
33. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain (thoughts)

June

34. The House on Paradise Street by Sofka Zinovieff (thoughts)
35. Hyperion by Dan Simmons (thoughts)
36. Aya by Marguerite Abouet
37. God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut
38. This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz

July

39. Matilda by Roald Dahl
40. The Fall of Hyperion by Dan Simmons (thoughts)
41. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
42. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter
43. Tokyo on Foot by Florent Chavouet
44. Enchanted Night (novella) by Steven Millhauser
45. 13 1/2 by Nevada Barr
46. Divine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez

August

47. The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
48. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
49. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
50. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

September

51. Ancillary Justice by Anne Leckie
52. Children of the Night by Dan Simmons
53. Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko
54. Twelve (Danilov Quintet) by Jasper Kent

October

55. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
56. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
57. Nightwoods by Charles Frazier
58. Thirteen Years Later (Danilov Quintet) by Jasper Kent
59. Takedown Twenty (series) by Janet Evanovich
60. The Man in the Picture by Susan Hill
61. Kitty Steals the Show (series) by Carrie Vaughn

November

62. Kitty Rocks the House (series) by Carrie Vaughn
63. Kitty in the Underworld (series) by Carrie Vaughn
64. Retribution Falls by Chris Wooding
65. The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley
66. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
67. The Third Section (Danilov Quintet) by Jasper Kent
68. Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck
69. The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston
70. The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell
71. The Black Lung Captain by Chris Wooding
72. How the Stars Fell Into the Sky by Jerrie Oughton
73. "The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton" (short story) by Charles Dickens

December

74. Endymion by Dan Simmons
75. The Night Before Christmas (novella) by Nikolai Gogol
76. The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain (novella) by Charles Dickens
77. Little Women (with Good Wives) by Louisa May Alcott

FAVORITES (in no particular order):
Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut (thoughts)
Hyperion by Dan Simmons (thoughts)
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith (thoughts)
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion

FIND MYSELF THINKING ABOUT THE MOST:
Twelve & Thirteen Years Later & The Third Section by Jasper Kent

THE MOST FUN!
Retribution Falls & The Black Lung Captain by Chris Wooding

December 4, 2014

A Merry Dickens Reading List

This post is based on a read-a-long hosted on BookTube (YouTube) by Samantha at Novels and Nonsense. Sam is an awesome BookTuber and posts fun book tags, reviews, and other book chat. You should go visit her! 


Image John Leech public domain
A Merry Dickens Reading List

A collection of ghost stories might seem an odd choice for a Christmas reading list, but Christmas has long been associated with ghosts and the Victorians were quite adept at the telling of ghost stories around the hearth on Christmas Eve. During this era, Dickens wrote quite a number of ghostly tales that were published thanks to the rise of the periodical press. His ghost stories are not particularly Christian, but are morality tales that give the reader (or hearer) a chance to reflect on life.

All of the stories on this reading list can be read online for free. They are a combination of short story and novellas that revolve around Christmas. They have in common a strong moral message and are by-and-large social commentary.

Image permission
Victorian Web
The Story of the Goblins Who Stole a Sexton
Goblins kidnap a surly, misanthropic grave-digger to teach him some valuable lessons. This is a story within a story and is better known as Chapter 29 of The Pickwick Papers. (Short Story)

The Chimes: A Goblin Story
A poor elderly "ticket-porter" learns that mankind is not naturally wicked, but instead strives for noble things unless crushed or repressed beyond bearing. Yep, more goblins. (Novella)

The Cricket on the Hearth
1848 ILN The Haunted Man
Image public domain
A mysterious elderly stranger, who isn't what he seems, comes to visit a carrier's family. A somewhat sentimental story depicting the happy Victorian home. This one has a guardian angel. (Novella)

Image John Leech public domain
The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain
A story about the spirit of the holidays that addresses the themes of memory, forgiveness, and humility. Yes, there is a ghost. (Novella)

A Christmas Carol
Probably the most well-known of Dickens' Christmas stories. Scrooge has a heart as cold as winter but, just as spring follows winter, Scrooge warms to his fellow man - of course, not before some ghosts get a chance to visit. (Novella)



December 3, 2014

The Classics Club: A Confessional Post

The Classics Club

I was just visiting JoAnn's blog, Lakeside Musing, and was reminded by one of her posts that I had (once upon a time) joined The Classics Club. On March 16, 2012 to be exact. Have I read any books from that list? No. Did I even remember that I had made this commitment? Obviously not or I wouldn't be writing this confessional post. Sooo ...

I have until March 2017 to read through my list. At this point I will be pleased to read at least some of the wonderful classics from this list. I've been terribly neglectful at reading classics lately. I've also been terribly neglectful of my blog and my BookTube (YouTube) channel. While I find it difficult to do all that is required to make videos about my reading and books (prepping, set up, editing, uploading, etc.), there is really no reason for me not to blog. I like writing! I should be writing! Sooo ...

I will try to do two things in the coming year (2015):
  1. Read some of the books from my Classics Club list
  2. Write and post to my blogs (I still maintain Tip of the Iceberg which is meant to be personal essays)
I could use all of the encouragement y'all can send my way. I am VERY out of practice and disconnected from blogging.

MY LIST:

  1. Alcott, Louisa May - Little Women (reread)
  2. Arabian Nights, The (trans. Muhsin Mahdi)
  3. Ariosto, Ludovico - Orlando Furioso
  4. Austen, Jane - Sense and Sensibility
  5. Barnes, Julian - Flaubert's Parrott
  6. Beowulf (trans. Seamus Heaney)
  7. Bradley, Marion Zimmer - The Mists of Avalon (reread)
  8. Bronte, Anne - The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
  9. Bulgakov, Mikhail - The Master and Margarita (reread)
  10. Burnett, Frances Hodgson - The Secret Garden
  11. Campbell, Joseph - The Hero with a Thousand Faces (reread)
  12. de Cervantes, Miguel - Don Quixote
  13. Cheever, John - Oh What a Paradise It Seems
  14. Colette - Cheri
  15. Collins, Wilkie - The Haunted Hotel
  16. Collins, Wilkie - Miss or Mrs?
  17. Dickens, Charles - Great Expectations
  18. Dickens, Charles - David Copperfield (reread)
  19. Dickens, Charles - A Tale of Two Cities
  20. Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - The Brothers Karamazov (trans. Pevear & Volokhonsky)
  21. Durrell, Lawrence - Justine (Alexandria Quartet)
  22. Durrell, Lawrence - Balthazar (Alexandria Quartet)
  23. Durrell, Lawrence - Mountolive (Alexandria Quartet)
  24. Durrell, Lawrence - Clea (Alexandria Quartet)
  25. Forster, E.M. - Howard's End
  26. Forster, E.M. - The Longest Journey
  27. Forster, E.M. - A Passage to India (reread)
  28. Forster, E.M. - Where Angels Fear to Tread (reread)
  29. Gaskell, Elizabeth - Cranford
  30. Gaskell, Elizabeth - North and South
  31. Hardy, Thomas - The Mayor of Casterbridge
  32. Homer - The Odyssey (reread)
  33. Hugo, Victor - Les Miserables
  34. Mitchell, Margaret - Gone With the Wind
  35. Polidori, John - The Vampyre
  36. Radcliffe, Anne - The Mysteries of Udolpho
  37. Spenser, Edmund - The Faeire Queene
  38. Stendhal - The Red and the Black
  39. Stevenson, Robert Louis - Treasure Island
  40. Thackeray, William Makepeace - Vanity Fair
  41. Tolstoy, Leo - Anna Karenina (trans. Pevear & Volokhonsky) (reread)
  42. Trollope, Anthony - Barchester Towers
  43. Trollope, Anthony - The Warden
  44. Twain, Mark - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
  45. Verne, Jules - Journey to the Centre of the Earth
  46. Virgil - The Aeneid (reread)
  47. Wharton, Edith - The Age of Innocence
  48. Wharton, Edith - Ethan Frome
  49. Woolff, Virginia - Mrs. Dalloway
  50. Woolff, Virginia - A Room of One's Own (reread)


August 10, 2014

TSS | July 2014 Reading Wrap-up

I read quite a few books in July, which surprised me. I don't usually read that many books in one month. It is more typical for me to read four or five books in a month and I read nine! Below is the video reading wrap-up I posted on YouTube (BookTube).



The Sunday Salon.com


The Sunday Salon is a weekly virtual get together where readers share thoughts about their reading. We write about books and reading on our own blogs and then visit and chat with other saloners through the comments feature.

July 1, 2014

Video | The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

My video is a slightly different, and hopefully more coherent, review of The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut. You can read my written review here if you are interested.



Watch on YouTube: http://youtu.be/toXsf2f93h0

June 28, 2014

TSS | June Wrap-up & July TBR

I've been over on YouTube a lot lately posting videos in the community we refer to as "BookTube." I haven't always remembered to cross post my bookish videos here on the blog, but I will try in future to remember to do this! You can find me on YouTube at http://youtube.com/MsTerriB

I managed to actually read some of the books that were on my June TBR stack (I'm notorious for creating lists & stacks and then completely ignoring them) and you will see them here in my June Wrap-up video. Since I didn't think my July TBR warranted its own video, I included the books I'll be reading in the coming month. Enjoy!

http://youtu.be/JgKbC0ig_Fs



Bonus stupid picture (screenshot from the video):

What goes on video, stays on video.


The Sunday Salon.com


The Sunday Salon is a weekly virtual get together where readers share thoughts about their reading. We write about books and reading on our own blogs and then visit and chat with other saloners through the comments feature.

June 27, 2014

Video | #FridayReads June 27, 2014

Here's what is on my reading stack for the weekend. One of them I will probably finish over the weekend. The other is a wee bit more long term than that!

http://youtu.be/QWf1tO7P72Q

 

June 25, 2014

The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut

The Sirens of Titan is Kurt Vonnegut's second novel, published in 1959. The story is told by a future historian and takes place over a forty-plus year time span, "sometime between the Second World War and the Third Great Depression." It is a romp through time and space and can be, quite honestly, a bit hard to follow. But then, there is a reason why we at least perceive ourselves within a linear and defined time/space continuum. Well, at least most of us do. I don't really know what I'm talking about, but reading Vonnegut has that effect on me.

There are three main characters in The Sirens of Titan: Malachi Constant, Winston Miles Rumfoord, and Rumfoord's wife, Beatrice. Vonnegut builds up all three characters and then uses that build up to tear them down. (Who does he think he is? God? Hey, maybe this plays into the story. Hmmm ....)

Rumfoord is a bit of a prophet figure. Beatrice made me start thinking about Dante's Divine Comedy, but I'm not really sure where my brain was trying to go. Let's just say there might be something to that. Or not. 'The excesses of Beatrice were excesses of reluctance." Maybe that is why I was thinking of Dante. That and the name "Beatrice." And I'm not sure what was up with poor Malachi. I'm sure he is a type ... or ... a type of a type .... (Oh Vonnegut, you REALLY messed with my mind in this book.)

There is also an alien. A machine alien. With inflatable feet. His name is Salo. He's got a missing part that plays a big part in the novel. To tell you more would be spoilerish. So, I won't. "The machine is no longer a machine. The machine's contacts are corroded, the bearings fouled, his circuits shorted, and his gears stripped. His mind buzzes and pops like the mind of an Earthling - fizzes and overheats with thoughts of love, honor, dignity, rights, accomplishments, integrity, independence." Aliens in science fiction are often foils to humanity and help us define our human nature, and so Salo fills this purpose. I think.

The Sirens of Titan is a morality tale. It is satire that is somewhat humorous, but ultimately sad and depressing. The characters are powerless. I think they are powerless. I think I'm supposed to think that. Yeah, kinda bleak.

The central idea of the book is: What is the meaning of life? What is the purpose of human existence? I won't tell you how Vonnegut answers these questions, but if you've been paying attention at all here you can probably guess.

Some random thoughts because, honestly, I don't know how to incorporate these into a review:
  • Vonnegut smacks down organized religion yet honors personal belief.
  • The Church of God the Utterly Indifferent (I'm sure there is a whole theological discussion just in this name.)
  • Free will: Yes or no? (Not really answered and kinda argumentative loop-ish, just like in real life.)
  • Earth as God's spaceship (I'm telling you, there is some whacked stuff here people!)
  • I'm pretty sure Douglas Adams was influenced by this novel.
This novel is about Ideas with a capital "I". If you like Ideas, satire, social commentary, characters representative of types or other literary characters then you will like The Sirens of Titan.If you need a plot that hangs together well, characters that are developed with understandable motives then you might be a bit bewildered as to why some of us actually like this book.

If you find Vonnegut's satire and humor tiresome and/or depressing, you might find that you like (can tolerate?) his writing in short bursts; try his short stories in Welcome to the Monkey House.

Fin.

Edited to include a link to my video review on YouTube > http://youtu.be/toXsf2f93h0

June 21, 2014

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential was first published in 2000. He wrote it for fellow cooks and those in the restaurant biz. Bourdain wrote it to "sound like [he was] talking, at say ... ten o'clock on a Saturday night, after a busy dinner rush, [him] and a few cooks hanging around the kitchen, knocking back a few beers and talking shit." This is exactly what it sounds like. It was a surprise to Bourdain when the book was more widely read by the general public and then, of course, criticized for being a blustery piece of tell-all expose. It is blustery, and Bourdain freely admits this, but that was not the intent nor the audience. Bourdain tells it like it is. He pulls no punches and you get a good look at what really happens in the cooking world.

Bourdain has a rough and biting sense of humor, but he doesn't use that humor to tear others down and is often self-deprecating. I like it. He reflects on what it takes to be successful in the cooking world. You've got to have a sense of humor about it or you won't survive.

Bourdain talks tough, but he is a hopeless romantic. Just read the "Mission to Tokyo" chapter to see some of this. A lot of Bourdain's bluster is a macho New York cover and partly what has allowed him to survive in a tough world. I do look forward to reading his more recent book, Medium Raw to see if the older Bourdain confronts his younger blustery self.

One of the characteristics which I admire is Bourdain's apparent ability to take people as they are, recognizing that we are all a bit of a mess but still worthy of respect. He is a curious person, interested in the world and people around him, always up for new experiences (sometimes to his detriment), and willing to take responsibility for his thrill seeking behaviors.

I read Kitchen Confidential out loud to my husband. Bourdain's writing style matches his voice (if you watch his TV series, Parts Unknown, you'll know what I mean). Many of the chapters can be read as stand alone articles, yet there is a cohesive story told through the whole.

I would recommend this book to those curious about Bourdain, and to those who have worked in the restaurant business or are interested in it and want an inside look. Those who are considering a career as a chef might want to read it to get a sense of what they are likely to experience; the chapter titled, "A Day in the Life" gives an inside look that will scare your pants off! He also offers a chapter with advice for those who do choose to pursue this career path.

I loved this book. It has been accused of being an expose. It has been described as both memoir and documentary. I think it is a love story. It is a wonderful homage to a business and life that has been both brutal and ultimately fulfilling.

Video version of my review: http://youtu.be/ekMg9hLWbKc

 

June 17, 2014

Top Ten Books On My Summer TBR!

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created at The Broke and the Bookish

I love to think I will get a lot of reading done during the summer months, but I often end up reading less because of summer activities and heavy workload. Nonetheless, I do have some books that I would like to read sooner rather than later. Maybe writing them down will help me stay focused. Who knows. I can try, right? So without further ado …


The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro Story about postwar England? Yes please! I've read passages that just sound so lovely. I really do need to get on this one and quit saving it.

God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut This is part of my Vonnegut project. I want to get a good sense of the author and his writings so am in the process of reading many of his books in a fairly short period of time.

This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz Love, longing and "the inevitable weakness of the human heart" (blurb on back cover). Isn't this what summer reading is all about?


To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee Reader confession time: I have never read this modern classic. I think I need to fix this reading gap.

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter Takes place on the Italian coastline circa 1962. I test read a few passages and I liked the writing. It also seemed stylish. Also, the cover is GORGEOUS. And if that wasn't enough, NPR calls this book "a literary miracle." I'm such a sucker.

Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear I just love Winspear's character, Maisie Dobbs. These books are found in the mystery section of most bookstores, but I wish they would just categorize them in fiction. They really are refreshingly different.


Hell Is Empty by Craig Johnson I'm in love with Longmire … I mean, Robert Taylor … um, isn't Robert Taylor really Longmire?? Anyway, I loved the books before the TV show and this is where I'm at in the series.

Matilda by Roald Dahl I loved this movie so much and have never read Roald Dahl.

Aya by Marguerite Abouet & Clement Oubrerie This is a graphic novel about the golden time in the Ivory Coast, 1978. There is a tendency by some to lump the countries of Africa together and have a single image of what it means to be African. This graphic novel challenges that image. Deirdre (Didi) brought this book to my attention. Visit Didi at http://didibooksenglish.wordpress.com or http://youtube.com/frenchiedee


Les Miserables by Victor Hugo I have wanted to read this for a long time, but it is so HUGE. I thought that summer might be a good time for me to get started. I may not get it finished by the end of summer. No promises here!

What's on your summer reading list?

June 11, 2014

Video | The House on Paradise Street by Sofka Zinovieff

I learned a lot from this book. It would make an EXCELLENT read for book clubs because of the themes; there is much that can be discussed.

http://youtu.be/w8ryX9F4zYE

 

June 9, 2014

Video | Book Haul May 2014

I tend to purchase books when I'm traveling. I have some favorite used bookstores I like to visit when I'm in Utah and Colorado. I'm excited to read ALL of these books!

http://youtu.be/iAM3Qu5lGt4

 

April 27, 2014

TSS | Readathon Wrap Up and End of Event Meme

Good morning! It is the day after Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon and I am tired! Readathon is such a fun event. I get so excited before and have so much fun during Readathon that I often feel a bit lost the day after. So I'm easing myself off the Readathon high by writing my wrap up post.

Posts and Videos

I started out by recording a video and writing a post showing my reading options:
Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon (video)
Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon: April 26, 2014 (blog post)
Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon Wrap Up (video)

Then I posted twice during the event:
Readathon: Let's Get Started!
Readathon: Midway!

Burning Up Twitter

I spent a lot of time on Twitter using the #readathon and #teamrogue hashtags. I hear that #readathon trended and am not surprised since we were burning it up!

You can find me on Twitter as @TerriTalksBooks if you want to chat.

#TEAMROGUE rah. rah. *\o/*

The #teamrogue hashtag refers to the unofficial rogue cheerleading team that got started by joking about it on Twitter the night before Readathon. Andi from Estella's Revenge (and one of the people that make this event happen) referred to Team Rogue as "cheerleaders without borders." We were the bunch that didn't sign up to cheer ... but did so anyway. In true rogue fashion, we were not organized and visited people at random. We did have a little structure by trying to visit and cheer for those readers who signed up after the cut-off date. There were a lot of you! (You rogue readers know who you are.) We were so rogue I'm not sure who all was cheering as part of #teamrogue. Here are those I know about:

Memory Scarlett @xicanti
Becca Lostinbooks @imlostinbooks
Megan S @toadacious1
Literary Feline @LiteraryFeline
Kristen M @WeBeReading
Jillian @ramblings2010
Melissa @thefirmangroup

If you were cheering as part of #teamrogue and I didn't mention you, please let me know and I'll add you to this list!

Yeah, that's me going rogue.

End of Event Meme

Which hour was most daunting for you?
Hour 21. I did just GREAT until then. Probably running on caffeine and adrenaline. Then I pretty much passed out with a book on my face.

Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year?
Really, you should pick whatever interests you and meets your reading goals. I did find that having shorter books, short stories, essays and graphic novels to read was helpful. I also had a fair selection to choose from and would not have hesitated to go pull from my fearsome TBR (to be read) pile if I suddenly found myself uninterested in my arranged reading stack.

Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Nope.

What do you think worked really well in this year's Read-a-thon?
The cheer teams seemed highly organized (except for #teamrogue of course) and did a fantastic job visiting readers on their chosen social media site. I also noted that international readers were able to receive prizes this time and I think that inclusiveness is awesome!

How many books did you read?
Two (2).

Which book did you enjoy most?
Since I only read two, it doesn't really apply. I finished both Show Your Work by Austin Kleon and Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion.

Which book did you enjoy least?
See previous answer.

If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year's Cheerleaders?
No. I'm a rogue. *smile*

How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time?
I will definitely participate again! I might even sign up as a cheerleader. You know, like, officially.

Thank You!

  • To all readers for participating in one big READ for 24 hours.
  • To my fellow #TEAMROGUE members (whoever you are).
  • To all the other cheerleaders and hosts of various events and on various social media sites.
  • To anyone who worked hard that I don't know about. You are appreciated!
  • Most especially to super organizers Andi and Heather! I stand in awe of your love and dedication to this event. 



The Sunday Salon.com


The Sunday Salon is a weekly virtual get together where readers share thoughts about their reading. We write about books and reading on our own blogs and then visit and chat with other saloners through the comments feature.

April 26, 2014

Readathon: Midway!

Hour 12


Wow! Has it been 12 hours already? Guess I'll post a little recap.

My husband made me a delightful breakfast that has pretty much carried me through most of the day. Anything with eggs in it will do that for me. Some mid-afternoon beer and dark chocolate wasn't the best lunch, but hey, it's Readathon right?



I've read Show Your Work by Austin Kleon. This is more or less a companion book to Steal Like an Artist. I loved them both, but I think that Show Your Work has provided me with more to think about and will be most useful to me in several areas of my life including my professional life. The two books are primarily about the creative process and sharing that process. And lest you think you aren't creative, think again! We are all creative in some way.


Mid-Event Survey
1. What are you reading right now?
I'm currently reading Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion

2. How many books have you read so far?
Um, one. I've spent a lot of time chatting online and doing some rogue cheerleading.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon?
Fables by Bill Willingham!

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day?
Nope.

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those?
Nope.

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far?
That I'm not tired!

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?
Not really. I love some of the changes from previous readathons (which I thought went quite well) and I think those have mostly come out of the growth of the event and building on previous experiences. For instance, the cheerleading seems nicely organized and I think that having prizes available for international readers is awesome!

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year?
Not be quite so rogue! I think I need a little more structure in order to actually get reading done.

9. Are you getting tired yet?
Not yet! *crosses fingers*

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?
Reading shorter books, essays/short stories, and graphic novels has helped me deal with my "bouncing off the walls" lack of focus. I'm not always this way, but I know from past experience that I get overly excited and chatty during this event and that affects my ability to read longer pieces. This way I also get a sense of accomplishment since I finish something!

Readathon: Kick Off Meme


1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?
I'm reading in Southern California. It rained last night, but looks like the sun is starting to peek out. Hope to read outside for a bit today!

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?
All of them! For different reasons. I'm looking forward to reading Show Your Work by Austin Kleon this morning. It's a short book and I should finish it in about an hour. I read his companion book, Steal Like an Artist, a few weeks ago and loved it. If you enjoy reading about the creative process and sharing the creative process, you might like these books.

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?
A Kashi Chocolate Almond & Sea Salt granola bar!

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!
I'm an eclectic reader and will read pretty much anything as long as it interests me. My current reading obsession is books about art, creativity and the artistic process - both fiction and non-fiction. I've been surprised at how many fiction books use that as a focus. I expected to see tons of non-fiction on the topic, but the fiction titles surprised me.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?
Read more! I hope! I spent too much time online last time and didn't read enough. I will also go out for a run as a refresher at some point.

Happy reading Readers!

Readathon: Let's Get Started!

Good morning readers! It is 5am here on the U.S. West Coast and I'm here with my coffee ...

... to start READING!!! I've got some reading options that I think will keep me quite busy and satisfied.

Or if you prefer videos http://youtu.be/6vhpDs5KlX8:



I will be taking a break to watch one my current favorite TV shows, Orphan Black. I might take a nap. I'll probably go out for a run. You might even get a visit from me as part of #TeamRogue. You never know, since we're rogues.


Yeah, that would be me horsing around as a rogue cheerleader. Rah.

See you on the blog later! In the meantime, you can find me as
@TerriTalksBooks on Twitter.


April 24, 2014

Video | Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon Book Stack

My reading selections for the Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon this Saturday, April 26th!

Read about the Readathon at http://24hourreadathon.com 

You may need to click through to my blog to view the video if you are reading this in your reader.

 

April 22, 2014

Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon: April 26, 2014

http://24hourreadathon.com

The Read-a-Thon is almost here! I absolutely LOVE this event that happens twice a year, once in April and once in October. If you don't know what Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-Thon is, then get thee to the official website and find out about it! This is the original online read-a-thon started by Dewey in 2007 (read about the history) that has turned into an international event. This is such a fun event that stands as a tribute to a woman who loved this community and really helped to build it into what it is today.

Part of the read-a-thon fun is picking out the stack of books to choose from as you read your way through 24 hours (or however long you can last!). Here is my stack for this Saturday:



Show Your Work by Austin Kleon
A very short book about creative process and sharing. It is a combination of words and drawings that I can probably read in about an hour.

The London Scene by Virginia Woolf
Six essays on London life. Kind of a walking tour with Virginia. See comment about essays in the next entry.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
Essays by one of my favorite non-fiction writers. Essays are nice since you can pick and choose shorter works out of the whole. Same thing goes with short story collections.

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
A YA (young adult) novel that has been on my TBR (to be read) since it came out (what is wrong with me!). I thought read-a-thon might be a good time to pick it up. YA books are generally fast and easy reads. This can be important when you start getting tired or just need to get "sucked in" to a story.

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
I've already started reading this fairly long novel but will probably still be reading it by Saturday. Maybe I'll even finish this one. It is a lovely story so far.

Fables (several volumes) by Bill Willingham
Graphic novels are awesome for read-a-thon. Again, they are especially good if you are getting tired or just need to mix it up a little.

I'm not a high volume reader so I will not be reading and/or finishing ALL of these books, but I like to have options.

The other fun part of read-a-thon is picking out SNACKS!!! I have no idea what will be in my snack cupboard yet, but will photographically share some of my food choices on Saturday.

See you Saturday!

April 21, 2014

Every Man for Himself by Beryl Bainbridge

Every Man for Himself by Beryl Bainbridge is a novelization of the sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912. The novel was originally published and won the Whitbread Prize in 1996.  Europa Editions reissued it in 2012 on the 100th anniversary of the tragedy.

Bainbridge tells the story of the tragic voyage of the Titanic through the eyes of Morgan, a young man who was the nephew of industrialist J.P. Morgan. Morgan boards the ship as one of the self-centered idle rich. Though he mixes with these shallow "bright young things," Morgan seems to have a conscience and is the focus of a modest coming of age story line.

The book is primarily character driven, but I had a hard time caring about any of the characters. Even Morgan seemed hard to cozy up to and I found him to be the most sympathetic character out of the bunch. Every Man for Himself is a shallow look at the shallow lives of very wealthy first-class passengers on a ship we already know will sink. Steerage class passengers hardly note a mention as though not worth the paper and ink. This baffled me until I wondered if Bainbridge was employing subtle irony. I'm still not sure if the author was using a clever device to make a point or not. Those who are more familiar with her writing might be able to enlighten me.

Very little happens until the ship hits an iceberg and begins to sink. The drama and horror, the terrible loss of life that was the sinking of the Titanic is wrapped up in the last 35 pages of a 201 page book. This hurried ending does impart a frantic and chaotic note that was surely a part of those last hours, but there is no character redemption or reflective commentary involved. The shallow characters never cease to be shallow and continue to idle away their last hours in various self-indulgent states. The reader is never focused on any one scene for too long during these last pages, as though confused by the chaos and noise. Perhaps this too was intended by the author to make a point, but it fell flat for me. I honestly didn't care if any of the characters survived or not and that seems important to me in a character driven story.

I really had high expectations for this book. These were mostly based on various comments about the author's skill as a writer that I came across in reviews and other write ups prior to reading the novel. Again, the book is not bad, but it failed to make much of an impact.

April 19, 2014

TSS | A Tribute to the Online Book Community

If you're like me, it's hard to juggle the many commitments and interests of life. There is so much I need and want to do! The last few years it has been challenging for me to remain engaged with the book community through my blog and my YouTube (BookTube) channel. The point of social media is, well, to be social and disappearing for long periods of time isn't very social.

The lovely thing about the online book community is that this group of people have long memories and are very forgiving of the transitions in the lives of other members. Even with my spotty participation, there is always a core of book bloggers and vloggers that welcome me back with open arms.

Thank you so much to those that have continued to hang around and leave me comment love (you know who you are!) and to those who silently continue to visit. I really do love this group. It is a fantastic place to learn new things and share our thoughts with each other. Know that you are appreciated, *smile*.

The Sunday Salon.com


The Sunday Salon is a weekly virtual get together where readers share thoughts about their reading. We write about books and reading on our own blogs and then visit and chat with other saloners through the comments feature.

Video | Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut

Bluebeard by Kurt Vonnegut was a nice play on the tale of Bluebeard and a commentary on art and art movements. I really enjoyed this book. The book is a satire on art movements, but Vonnegut's barbed wit was moderated and he even brought a bit of sweetness to the story.

(You may need to click through to view the video if you are using a reader.)


April 18, 2014

Video | #FridayReads April 18, 2014

What I'm reading this weekend:

Every Man For Himself by Beryl Bainbridge
Slouching Towards Bethlehem by Joan Didion
Poems by Tennyson (for National Poetry Month)

(If you are reading this in a reader, you may need to link through to the video.)

 

April 16, 2014

Video | Thoughts on Feminism and Dorothy Sayers

I have decided to try and resurrect my YouTube channel and so have created a video version of my written review of  the Dorothy Sayers essay, "Are Women Human?" It is mostly a rather rambling repeat, but hey, some of you seem to like watching these things!

You can find me on YouTube as MsTerriB http://www.youtube.com/user/msterrib

(If you are reading this in a reader, you may need to click through to my blog in order to view the video.)


April 3, 2014

Are Women Human? by Dorothy Sayers



I've long admired Dorothy Sayers' writing and knew right away that I would be reading one of her essays for The Classics Club event Feminist Literature in March. I'm going to be up front and honest with you: I don't define myself as a feminist. I don't define myself as a feminist mostly because I don't find the label particularly helpful nor clearly defined. I also tend to get tetchy if someone asks me for a woman's point of view about something. More often than not, the term "feminism" is polarizing when it doesn't need to be and I find that there are as many points of view as there are women. Ask me about my point of view on a particular topic and I will tell you my point of view on that topic. Sometimes my point of view will be recognizable as feminist, but other times it will not. I don't fit easily nor completely into most categories and I'm guessing most people do not.

Now that I've sent you all running for the hills, let me tell you a little bit about Dorothy Sayers and her essay, "Are Women Human?" Dorothy Sayers was one of the first women to graduate from Oxford University. She did not devote her time to talking or writing about feminism, but instead lived her life doing the work for which she was suited whether or not society understood her choices as feminine.

"Are Women Human?" is an address given to a Women's Society in 1938 and is one of the few times that Sayers wrote on the nature and function of women. In this essay, she puts forth her position on women with honesty and wit. Just look at the essay title and you'll get a taste of that sharp edged humor. As far as Sayers is concerned, "male" and "female" are adjectives qualifying the noun "human being," and as Mary McDermott Shideler says in her introduction, "the substantive governs the modifier." We are human beings first and foremost. This is not to make light of the difficulties experienced by women. Sayers was, after all, one of the first women to graduate from Oxford University. I would imagine that she faced many challenges as a woman in that environment, yet she felt that she was suited to the type of work in that environment and lived it out in spite of the difficulties. I can just about hear her say that life is full of difficulties.

What Sayers most wanted was to be reckoned as an individual person and not always as a member of a class. "A certain amount of classification is, of course, necessary for practical purposes… [but] [w]hat is unreasonable and irritating is to assume that all one's tastes and preferences have to be conditioned by the class to which one belongs. That has been the very common error into which men have frequently fallen about women -- and it is the error into which feminist women are, perhaps, a little inclined to fall about themselves."

I believe that Sayers' position fits into the spirit of feminism. She clearly believed in a woman's right to participate fully in the world however that woman is so suited. She did not align herself with a feminist movement since, I believe, she found that too confining. Instead, she lived feminism.

March 2, 2014

TSS | Feminism in March



I woke up this morning and had the luxury of sitting with a cup of strong black coffee while listening to the rain and reading posts by some of my favorite book bloggers.  Meredith's post at Dolce Bellezza brought to my attention that The Classics Club event this month is Feminist Literature in March. Meredith's post got me thinking and so I started looking at lists. Here are a few lists from The Classics Club blog:


I've decided to read Are Women Human? by Dorothy Sayers. Dorothy Sayers was one of the first women to graduate from Oxford University. One of the things I admire about Dorothy Sayers, is that she did not devote her time to talking or writing about feminism, but instead lived her life doing the work for which she was suited whether or not society understood her choices as "feminine." My little volume contains the two essays that Sayers wrote about women's role in society: "Are Women Human?" and "The Human-Not-Quite-Human."

I'd love to hear about your reading choice for Feminist Literature in March if you are participating!


The Sunday Salon.com


The Sunday Salon is a weekly virtual get together where readers share thoughts about their reading. We write about books and reading on our own blogs and then visit and chat with other saloners through the comments feature.

February 26, 2014

Light Boxes by Shane Jones and why I DNF'd it


Light Boxes by Shane Jones is a novel of experimental writing told from multiple perspectives. I think it has a fantastic cover and the blurb on the back of the book convinced me I would like this book.
The inhabitants of a closely knit town are experiencing perpetual February, and that means unending cold and darkness. It turns out that a godlike spirit, named February, is punishing the town for flying and bans flight of all kind, including hot air balloons and even children's kites. It's February who makes the sun nothing but a faint memory, who blankets the ground with snow, who freezes the rivers and the lakes. As the punishing weather continues, children go missing and adults become nearly catatonic with depression, all but giving up hope. But others find the strength to fight back - and launch a war against February.

- blurb on back cover of Light Boxes 
I did not like this book. I wanted to like this book, but after reading more than half of it I had zero interest and decided to consider it DNF (did not finish).

I love fables, even dark fables. I love metaphor. I love the surreal. I love imagery. I love fantastical, magical tales. I guess you could say this book has all of these elements, and yet .... The elements didn't pull together for me. I understand that the writing is experimental, and I don't mind experimental writing. Experimental writing requires the reader to look at it differently. Yes, this can be more work for the reader, and I don't mind working for it. I do expect some kind of "pay off" though. I should enjoy it, I should be intrigued, or I should be thinking "deep thoughts" because of it, or it should move me in some way, or .... Let's just say I did not enjoy it, did not remain intrigued, did not think deep thoughts, and I wasn't moved. Instead I was annoyed. Frustrated. I had a big question mark hanging over my head. I wondered why I was spending time reading it. This book did not connect with me, and I do believe that a reader should be able to connect with a book on some level for some reason.

I'm familiar with reading poetry as prose, and it is my understanding that Shane Jones writes poetry. One of my favorite authors, Ray Bradbury, does this (read The Halloween Tree) and I love it. There is a flow to the words and images. I can hardly separate the words from the images in my head and the feelings pressing against me and reaching for my emotions. I tried to read Light Boxes in this way. Nope. Didn't work for me.

The writing in Light Boxes seemed too conscious of itself, as if on every page it was shouting, "Look at me! I'm experimental!" It came across as gimmicky. It lacked the poetry. It was more like looking at a writer's notes about a story, still in draft mode.

With all that said, I still love the cover (illustration by Ken Garduno) and there are plenty of readers who did like this book - very much. You can read their reviews on Goodreads, LibraryThing, Amazon.com, etc. and then decide for yourself whether or not you want to read it.

Did you read Light Boxes? Did you write a review? If so, let me know and I will link to your review in order to provide other perspectives.

February 19, 2014

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

Title: Maisie Dobbs
Series: Book One in a series
Author: Jacqueline Winspear
Publication Date:  2004

Maisie Dobbs is categorized as a mystery, but I would consider it general fiction or historical fiction. The main character, Maisie, is a detective and there is a mystery to solve, but the novel diverges from the usual patterns of the mystery genre. Maisie Dobbs is primarily a character driven novel and the plot takes a backseat to the main character.

The novel is divided into three sections. The first section introduces Maisie in 1929 as she takes on her first investigation case with a mystery to solve. This section reads very much like a mystery novel. The second section is a flashback to Maisie's youth, prior to WWI, as a smart young girl taken into service as a scullery maid in the home of Lady Rowan. It is here, as part of Lady Rowan's progressive social beliefs, that Maisie is provided an education alongside her service as a maid. Maisie is also mentored by a rather enigmatic gentleman detective and government consultant as part of her education. It is hoped, by this gentleman, that Maisie might one day take over his business when he retires. This section also describes Maisie's war experiences as a nurse during WWI. The entire second section reads like historical fiction. The third section of the book returns to 1929, the mystery, and its resolution. The third section is somewhat suspenseful, but not overly so.

I found both the character of Maisie Dobbs, as well as the historical and social aspects of the novel, quite satisfying. I fell in love with Maisie and her unconventional detecting methods. Maisie's real skill is helping people find the truths about themselves. The detecting becomes more about the people involved than about the events. There is a bit of Eastern mysticism involved in Maisie's intuitive methodology that I hope the author engages with in future books of the series. I am particularly interested in the time period covered in this novel with it's early 20th century shift from a class-based society to an emerging (more) egalitarian one and the social issues that are involved with that shift. Those who like Downton Abbey will probably enjoy this first book in the Maisie Dobbs series. Particularly heartbreaking in this novel is the trauma of WWI and the deep scar that the horror and grief left on Great Britain for many years. The novel captures this personal and national grief well through plot and character.

I must mention that there were a few times I had to suspend my disbelief. I don't know if the author decided to take liberties with her writing in order to suit the storyline or if this was oversight. It will be interesting to see if this continues in future books.

I highly recommend this book to those who like historical fiction, character driven novels, or just a good story. I noticed that School Library Journal reviewed the book which tells me it is a crossover novel between adult fiction and YA. I don't think it is marketed as YA, but it is certainly appropriate.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Let me know if you've written a review and I will add it in a list below.

Here is what others have to say!

Jenn at The Picky Girl is "Mad for Maisie" and is responsible for me picking up this book

February 18, 2014

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is the story of Francie Nolan. The book opens on a summer afternoon in 1912 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn with the sun shining through the branches of a tree called the Tree of Heaven. This tree had "pointed leaves which grew along green switches which radiated from the bough and made a tree which looked like a lot of opened green umbrellas." This tree grew lushly amidst the tenement houses and reached for the sky.

Francie is 11 years old and lives in a humble apartment in a run down neighborhood with her brother and mother and father. Her father, Johnny Nolan, is quite a charmer who sings and waits tables but spends the majority of his money on alcohol. The financial support for the family falls to Katie, Francie's mother, who works as a janitor in exchange for rent.

Francie loves to learn and enjoys school, but the neighborhood school is a cruel place. Out walking one day, Francie sees a beautiful school in another neighborhood. She longs to go to that school and, ever hopeful, she shares this longing with her father. Johnny is a dreamer too and he finds a way for Francie to transfer to this more gracious school where she thrives and becomes quite the writer of stories.

Francie is encouraged to write because:

Truth and fancy were so mixed up in her mind - as they are in the mind of every lonely child - that she didn't know which was which. But teacher made these two things clear to her …. "In the future, when something comes up, you tell exactly how it happened but write down for yourself the way you think it should have happened. Tell the truth and write the story.

Francie writes lovely stories that reflect the way she wishes things to be. She is innocent.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a coming of age story though, and in this type of story we witness the painful loss of innocence. We see this in Francie's development as a writer. She begins to write "sordid" stories that reflect more truthfully her own life experiences. Francie's English teacher disapproves of this new writing and wants her to burn the "ugly" compositions. Francie refuses and, instead, burns all of the old flowery writings that have nothing to do with her life experiences. In this symbolic loss of innocence we see Francie become aware of her identity as a person and writer.

These changes, as anyone who has survived childhood knows, are painful and we grieve our lost innocence. Francie, likewise, grieves for all she has lost in the scene with the roses. This scene was so powerful I felt the pain of my own experience all over again and it left me in tears. I guess this is your warning not to read this scene in public!

Coming of age stories are meant to bring up a lot of feelings in the reader. They touch on a shared experience. They speak of longings and overwhelming feelings. A time when we learn that things CHANGE, but we don't want them to. We don't like endings because, "The last time of anything has the poignancy of death itself …. And you grieve because you hadn't held it tighter when you had it every day." These are powerful feelings that we learn to manage as adults, but in the emerging adult they create emotional chaos.

A message of hope usually goes along with the pain of a coming of age story and, I suspect, this is why those of us who like such stories keep reading them. Throughout the book Francie remains sensitive and caring and hopeful. In the end, she looks to the future without denying her past. And the Tree of Heaven in her yard, that was not gently tended, keeps on growing as a symbol of perseverance and hope.

My thoughts:

I absolutely LOVED this book. The author writes beautifully and captures the intense feelings that come with "growing up." I truly cared about the characters and thought the author treated them very sympathetically even though they, like us, are quite less than perfect. Many social themes are woven throughout A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, though the author claimed she did not mean the book to be a social commentary. This book would make a fantastic book club read with its variety of themes. Take a look at the themes listed below for conversation ideas. I wrote SO many quotes from this book into my reading journal and look forward to revisiting the book through these quotes until time to read it again.

About the author and the book:

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was written by Betty Smith and was first published in 1943. It is largely autobiographical.

Themes:

  • Class and poverty
  • Education
  • Gender and sex
  • Perseverance and hope
  • Loss of innocence
  • The American Dream

Who should read this book?

I recommend this book to most adults and some adolescents. Those adults who already know they do not like the emotions that go along with coming of age stories might want to skip this book. Francie asks her father about the strong and confusing feelings she is experiencing and he responds that he suspects she has a bad case of "growing up." Adolescents in the midst of "growing up" might find the book helpful as they navigate "all the feelings," but others might find it overwhelming. Anyone interested in the variety of themes listed above will most likely appreciate this book.

Other reviews:

I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn as part of a read-a-long hosted by Lesley at Words of a Reader on YouTube (BookTube). You can link over to her channel on YouTube and search for her review video when it gets posted or, check back here for a direct link. I will edit this post and add links to the responses of other readers as they are posted and I become aware of them. Let me know if you have a review.

February 16, 2014

TSS | Eclectic Reading

Currently reading


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
A lovely vintage classic first published in 1943.

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
A book about writing and life.

Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand (series) by Carrie Vaughn
About a werewolf with a radio show. Don't judge me.

The Sunday Salon.com

February 12, 2014

Introducing Terri Talks Books!

Welcome to Terri Talks Books! I'm a long time blogger at Tip of the Iceberg and have recently created companion websites here and at YouTube that focus on book and reading related topics. This is a bit of an exercise in personal social media management, branding, and marketing. Hopefully it will also benefit my readers and viewers by making it easier to find me in the various places I talk about books.

Tip of the Iceberg is not going away. It will be re-purposed back to its origins as a personal essay blog. It will also house my archive of book reviews originally posted to that blog. I'm not moving old posts to Terri Talks Books, but I have created title and author book review indexes that will link you to archived reviews as well as index new reviews posted here. Links to those indexes are at Find My Book Reviews in the header menus of both blogs.

I've put a link in the header menu at Tip of the Iceberg that points here to Terri Talks Books. So if you end up over there, you can easily navigate here.

I'd love it if you follow me at Terri Talks Books. There are links in the sidebar to help you subscribe in various ways.

How to find Terri Talks Books