Thursday, June 30, 2011

June (Mid Year) Reading Wrap Up

My poor reading results of May, carried into June. I have to attribute this to inability to focus for long periods of time,  mostly because I did not want to be inside with this nice weather we've been enjoying, and reading in the sun makes me sleepy....enough excuses, or do I need a few more?

I read (8) books, but only reviewed (6).

  1. Emily, Alone; Stewart O'Nan - 4/5 (audio)
  2. The Chimps of Fauna Sanctuary; Andrew Westoll - 5/5 (review) 
  3. A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion; Ron Hansen - 5/5 (review)
  4. The Uncoupling; Meg Wolitzer - 3/5 (audio)
  5. The Heart Specialist; Claire Holden Rothman - 4/5 (review)
  6. Dimanche and Other Stories; Irene Nemirovsky - 4.5/5 (audio) 
(Wise Blood; Flannery O'Conner, and Break the Skin; Lee Martin, are (2) more I finished, but I don't count them until I've reviewed them [my own self-imposed rule...LOL]

  • Favorite  Fiction Book - A Wild Surge of Guilty Passion; Ron Hansen - 5/5
  • Favorite  Childrens Book - n/a
  • Favorite Audio Book -Dimanche and Other Stories; Nemirovsky (4.5/5) 
  • New authors -   4/6 -  YTD - 43/63
  • Review Books - 3/6 - YTD - 26/63
  • 5 star books - 2/6 -     YTD - 17/63
  • 4 star books - 3/6 -     YTD - 39/63
  • 3 star books - 1/6 -     YTD - 5/63
  • 2 star books - 0/6-      YTD - 2/63
~~~~~ Challenge Progress ~~~~~
  • 100+ Reading Challenge - 63/100
  • Reading From My Shelves Project - 30/50
  • Audio Book Challenge - 16/20
  • eBook Challenge - 5/20
July Reading Plans 
I'm hoping to read a few review books that seemed perfect for summer: My New American Life; Prose,  State of Wonder, Ann Patchett, Sister, Lupton, and  Maine; J C. Sullivan.

Even though my stats are way behind those of 2010, I'm okay with my progress thus far. I've read many books, I've enjoyed, I'm well on my my to completing all but (1) of the challenges I signed up for, with the exception of the eReader Challenge. I have joined Net Galley recently, now that books can be downloaded to my Kindle (although the format is a bit's still all good).

Enjoy your holiday weekend, if you are celebrating the 4th of July. I have a 4-day weekend so I am thrilled.

 Hope you had a great month in books, are you pleased with your mid-year progress?

The Literary Giveaway Winner has Been Chosen.......

I wanted to make sure that I gave a final proper shout-out to Leeswammes' Blog for coordinating this awesome (4) day event.

I thought this Literary Blog Hop was so much fun, and so successful. I discovered many new Literary Blogs, and met some more friendly bloggers in the process.

A total of (128) people entered my giveaway, but unfortunately, there is just (1) winner of the (5) book giveaway package......and the winner is......

Thanks so much to old friends and new who stopped by, and I'm hoping we all will share of love for fine books for years to come.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dimanche and Other Stories; Irene Nemirovsky

Author: Irene Nemirovsky
Publication Year: 2010 
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Edition: audio book 
Reader: Cassandra Campbell (very good)
Source: Library
Date Completed: 6/27/2011 
Setting: France
Rating: 4.5/5
Recommend: yes

Dimanche and Other Stories is a a wonderful collection of (1) short stories, written between 1934 - 1942. The author, and her husband died in Auschwitz, but their two you daughter survived, protected by a teacher, friends of the family in various safe houses. Some of her writing was tucked away in a suitcase and saved, and then published many years after her death.  You can read more about this talented writer whose life was cut short HERE.

The stories in this collection take place in France before and after the war. Most  of the stories centered around family, relationships, social class and religious differences. Most were deeply moving, and left me with a lot to think about while listening and after I had finished listening.  A few of my favorites were:
  • Dimanche
  • Those Happy Shores
  • Flesh and Blood
  • The Spell
  • Confidante
A few of these stories dealt with the passion of youth, the loss of youth, and loveless, middle-aged marriages.  Another story dealt with family relationships, self-centered adult children, and family dissension, much of which was based on misunderstandings.

One story, as seen through the eyes of a young girl, who because of her age, did not understand what was going on in an adult relationship, and was left confused.  Another story, which left me saddened was about a husband who never really cherished or understood his wife, until after she was gone.

The characters in each story were expertly drawn, and were all too human; some of the characters I pitied, others I disliked. The setting in many of the stories also left a lasting impression.  The audio book reader Cassandra Campbell did a very good job, and her use of a French accent worked out well I thought.

If you enjoy audio books, and stories with some substance, I think you will enjoy this collection.

Waiting on Wednesday - Lamb; Bonnie Nadzam

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating! Want to participate? Post your own WOW entry on your blog, and leave your link at Breaking the Spine. Here's what caught my eye recently.....

Other Press - September 13, 2011

Lamb traces the self-discovery of David Lamb, a narcissistic middle aged man with a tendency toward dishonesty, in the weeks following the disintegration of his marriage and the death of his father. Hoping to regain some faith in his own goodness, he turns his attention to Tommie, an awkward and unpopular eleven-year-old girl. Lamb is convinced that he can help her avoid a destiny of apathy and emptiness, and even comes to believe that his devotion to Tommie is in her best interest. But when Lamb decides to abduct a willing Tommie for a road trip from Chicago to the Rockies, planning to initiate her into the beauty of the mountain wilderness, they are both shaken in ways neither of them expects.
Lamb is a masterful exploration of the dynamics of love and dependency that challenges the boundaries between adolescence and adulthood, confronts preconceived notions about conventional morality, and exposes mankind?s eroded relationship with nature.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

First Chapter~First Paragraph (s) ~ Tuesday Intros

 Every Tuesday, I'll be posting the opening paragraph (maybe two) of a book I chose to read based on the opening paragraph (s).  This week's book has been featured on several blogs that I follow, and I hadn't planned to read just yet, but the 1st page left me wanting more:

 The Kitchen Daughter - Jael McHenry

" Bad things come in threes. My father dies. My mother dies. Then there's the funeral.

Other people would say these are all the same bad news. For me, they're different. 

The cemetery is the easiest part. There's a soothing low voice, the caskets are closed, and I can stand and observe like I'm not there at all. The man in the robe talks (  ""celebrated surgeon...loving mother...") and then Amanda does  ( " a shock to all of parents we could have ever..." ) I keep my eyes on the girls, Amanda's daughters, Shannon and Parker. They're younger than I was at my first funeral This at twenty-six is my second ".

What do you think of that intro - would you read it ? I love the fact that it feels so introspective. Have you read this one? What did you think?

Want to join in?  Just grab the image, and share the first paragraph (s) of your current book.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Mailbox Monday - June 27th

Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share the books that arrived the previous week. Our host for June is The Bluestocking Guide. 

Here's what arrived by mail last week:
Beautiful hardcovers and unexpected arrivals from the publishers:

Did your mail person have a backache this week because of you?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

3 Year Blogiversary Winner - Is it You??

98 Entries, but Just one Lucky Winner
Thanks to all who entered.
(There is still time to sign up for the Literary (5) book GIVEAWAY- entries accepted until Wednesday, June 29th)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Literary Giveaway and Blog Hop Has Begun

The Literary Giveaway Blog Hop hosted by Leeswammes’ Blog, has begun and will run from Saturday,  June 25th through Wednesday, June 29th.  More than (70) bloggers are participating, each will be giving away some great book in the process.

For those of you who may be visiting my blog for the first time, my name is Diane, and I've been blogging for (3) years. I'm in my 50's (sighhhh), married, (2) great adult children who left the nest (14) years ago. My dear husband and I now have (4) cats to entertain us. We love life here in New England.

My blog is a mixture of book reviews: generally, literary or contemporary fiction, and some non fiction. On occasion, I also enjoy reviewing books for younger children.  I also like to profile soon to be released books that appeal to me, and to shake things up a bit, I also like to post occasional photos of of pets, trips and nature sightings.

If you are new to my blog, I hope you will become a regular visitor. If you are an old friend, THANK YOU, as you all make blogging worthwhile. I LOVE COMMENTS.

I selected several books, I hope you'll enjoy if you win my giveaway.  To make it a bit easier for me, (1) lucky winner will win ALL (5) Books. (2) are new trade size softcovers, and (3) are like new ARCs. If you've read a few of these already, and you are the lucky winner, please pass them on with love.

The Dressmaker: A Novel 

Big girls in 19th-century England don't cry in Graeme-Evans's light tale about a plucky heroine who endures a series of harsh trials on her way to becoming London's leading dressmaker. Things start to go south for curate's daughter Ellen Gowan on her 13th birthday, when the dress Connie, her mother, makes her, entices one of her father's students to steal a kiss. Scandal and ruination seem imminent when her father dies, forcing mother and daughter to seek refuge with Connie's sister, who lives in terror of her baronet husband. There, Ellen's friendship with her cousin, Oriana, blossoms, until once again a young man stirs trouble, and Connie and Ellen land in London, where Connie succumbs to illness and Ellen marries a cad who leaves her pregnant and alone. But with a little help from friends, family, and unlikely sources, Ellen becomes the go-to creator of "all manner of finery" for England's most prominent families. Yes, it's formulaic, far-fetched, and soppy with sentiment, but it's also a lot of fun, and Graeme-Evans (The Innocent) is unapologetic in her celebration of the joys of pretty clothes and the thrills of overcoming adversity.

Faith: A Novel 

It is the spring of 2002 and a perfect storm has hit Boston. Across the city's archdiocese, trusted priests have been accused of the worst possible betrayal of the souls in their care. In Faith, Jennifer Haigh explores the fallout for one devout family, the McGanns.
Estranged for years from her difficult and demanding relatives, Sheila McGann has remained close to her older brother Art, the popular, dynamic pastor of a large suburban parish. When Art finds himself at the center of the maelstrom, Sheila returns to Boston, ready to fight for him and his reputation. What she discovers is more complicated than she imagined. Her strict, lace-curtain-Irish mother is living in a state of angry denial. Sheila's younger brother Mike, to her horror, has already convicted his brother in his heart. But most disturbing of all is Art himself, who persistently dodges Sheila's questions and refuses to defend himself.
As the scandal forces long-buried secrets to surface, Faith explores the corrosive consequences of one family's history of silence—and the resilience its members ultimately find in forgiveness. Throughout, Haigh demonstrates how the truth can shatter our deepest beliefs—and restore them. A gripping, suspenseful tale of one woman's quest for the truth, Faith is a haunting meditation on loyalty and family, doubt and belief. Elegantly crafted, sharply observed, this is Jennifer Haigh's most ambitious novel to date.
The Little Women Letters 

Vibrant, fresh, and intelligent, The Little Women Letters explores the imagined lives of Jo March’s descendants—three sisters who are both thoroughly modern and thoroughly March. As uplifting and essential as Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, Gabrielle Donnelly’s novel will speak to anyone who’s ever fought with a sister, fallen in love with a fabulous pair of shoes, or wondered what on earth life had in store for her.

 The Heart Specialist

Set in Quebec at the turn of the 19th to 20th century, The Heart Specialist is the epic story of Agnes White, a lonely orphaned girl fascinated by the "wrong" things—microscopes, dissections, and anatomy instead of more ladylike interests—who rises to the status of one of the world's most celebrated pioneering women doctors. Not only does she break through patriarchal academic barriers; she masters the science of the human heart, becoming a scholar of international fame, all in a place and time inimical to intelligent women.

Netherland (Vintage Contemporaries)

New York Times Book Review Best Book of the Year 

In a New York City made phantasmagorical by the events of 9/11, and left alone after his English wife and son return to London, Hans van den Broek stumbles upon the vibrant New York subculture of cricket, where he revisits his lost childhood and, thanks to a friendship with a charismatic and charming Trinidadian named Chuck Ramkissoon, begins to reconnect with his life and his adopted country. As the two men share their vastly different experiences of contemporary immigrant life in America, an unforgettable portrait emerges of an "other" New York populated by immigrants and strivers of every race and nationality.

DETAILS for a Chance to Win
  •  Loyal followers; just leave a comment, I'll find you if you win, I'm sure!
  • If you are new to my blog and have never commented on my blog before, you MUST become a follower to be entered in giveaway.
  • GOOD LUCK EVERYONE who comments and THANKS so much for stopping by. I hope you'll all become regular visitors here.
Here is a list of the blogs who have signed up for the Literary Giveaway event. Be sure to visit them, discover some new blogs, and leave a comment with a way to contact you in case you win.
  1. Leeswammes (Int)
  2. The Book Whisperer (Int)
  3. Kristi Loves Books (Int)
  4. Teadevotee (Int)
  5. Bookworm with a View (Int)
  6. Bibliosue (Int)
  7. Sarah Reads Too Much (Int)
  8. write meg! (USA)
  9. My Love Affair With Books (Int)
  10. Seaside Book Nook (Int)
  11. Uniflame Creates (Int)
  12. Always Cooking Up Something (Int)
  13. Book Journey (Int)
  14. ThirtyCreativeStudio (Int)
  15. Col Reads (Int)
  16. The Book Diva’s Reads (Int)
  17. The Scarlet Letter (USA)
  18. The Parrish Lantern (Int)
  19. Lizzy’s Literary Life (Int)
  20. Read, Write & Live (Int)
  21. Book’d Out (Int)
  22. The Readers’ Suite (Int)
  23. I Am A Reader, Not A Writer (USA)
  24. Ephemeral Digest (Int)
  25. Miel et lait (Int)
  26. Bibliophile By the Sea (Int)
  27. Polychrome Interest (Int)
  28. Book World In My Head (Int)
  29. In Spring it is the Dawn (Int)
  30. everybookhasasoul (Int)
  31. Nishita’s Rants and Raves (Int)
  32. Fresh Ink Books (Int)
  33. Teach with Picture Books (USA)
  34. How to Teach a Novel (USA)
  35. The Blue Bookcase (Int)
  36. Gaskella (Int)
  37. Reflections from the Hinterland (USA)
  38. chasing bawa (Int)
  39. 51stories (Int)
  40. No Page Left Behind (USA)Silver’s Reviews (USA)
  1. Nose in a book (Int)
  2. Lit in the Last Frontier (Int)
  3. The Book Club Blog (Int)
  4. Under My Apple Tree (Int)
  5. Caribousmom (USA)
  6. breienineking (Netherlands)
  7. Let’s Go on a Picnic! (Int)
  8. Rikki’s Teleidoscope (Int)
  9. De Boekblogger (Netherlands)
  10. Knitting and Sundries (Int)
  11. Elle Lit (USA)
  12. Indie Reader Houston (Int)
  13. The Book Stop (Int)
  14. Eliza Does Very Little (Int)
  15. Joy’s Book Blog (Int)
  16. Lit Endeavors (USA)
  17. Roof Beam Reader (Int)
  18. The House of the Seven Tails (Int)
  19. Tony’s Reading List (Int)
  20. Sabrina @ Thinking About Loud! (Int)
  21. Rebecca Reads (Int)
  22. Kinna Reads (Int)
  23. In One Eye, Out the Other (USA)
  24. Books in the City (Int)
  25. Lucybird’s Book Blog (Europe)
  26. Book Clutter (USA)
  27. Exurbanis (Int)
  28. Lu’s Raves and Rants (USA & Canada)
  29. Sam Still Reading (Int)
  30. Dolce Bellezza (Int)
  31. Lena Sledge’s Blog…Books, Reviews and Interviews (Int)
  32. a Thousand Books with Quotes (Int)