Readerly Rambles: Book Swap and Classic Club Edition

Book Swap!

I’m participating in a wonderful Facebook book swap amongst several book bloggers. My box to my participant will ship September 1st, but late last week I received my box from Sarah. What a treat! I received two different flavors of chocolate, an adorable and autumnal owl mug, three books (My Antonia by Willa Cather, The Land of Green Ginger by Winifred Holtby, and Plagued by the Nightingale by Kay Boyle), bookish socks, an owl bookmark in my favorite shade of turquoise, and some lovely note cards. I am so spoiled. Thank you, Sarah!

swap1 swap2 swap3 swap4Classics Club Spin!

I’m intentionally not looking at my Twitter or the Classics Club blog right now. The spin number will be announced today and I don’t want to sway my book choices. As usual I’m taking these titles from my (lagging) Virago Project.

  1. Letty Fox: Her Luck by Christina Stead
  2. For Love Alone by Christina Stead
  3. Precious Bane by Mary Webb
  4. The Holiday by Stevie Smith
  5. Surfacing by Margaret Atwood
  6. Enormous Changes at the Last Minute by Grace Paley
  7. Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles
  8. A Pin to See the Peepshow by F. Tennyson Jesse
  9. The Lacquer Lady by F. Tennyson Jesse
  10. The Sugar House by Antonia White
  11. Gone to Earth by Mary Webb
  12. Over the Frontier by Stevie Smith
  13. The Beth Book by Sarah Grand
  14. A Lost Lady by Willa Cather
  15. My Antonia by Willa Cather
  16. The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood
  17. The Little Disturbances of Man by Grace Paley
  18. Mary Olivier: A Life by May Sinclair
  19. The Life and Death of Harriet Frean by May Sinclair
  20. Novel on Yellow Paper by Stevie Smith

Let’s see who wins this round!

Top Ten Tuesday: Auto-buy Authors

toptentuesdayToday the readers at Top Ten Tuesday ask what authors I buy on sight. I decided to focus this list on my top female authors. If I find a book by one of these ladies I buy it. I also look to buying books recommended by these authors or novels that are compared to works by this group of women.

A picked five contemporary and five “classic” authors:


A S Byatt

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel


Margaret Atwood


Sarah Waters


Helen Oyeyemi


Barbara Pym

Iris Murdoch

Iris Murdoch


Patricia Highsmith


Shirley Jackson


Sylvia Townsend Warner

Readerly Rambles: 17 August 2015

readerly rambles

What I read: I got a wild hair and decided to pick up some YA reads. I grabbed the first two books from Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series, City of Bones and City of Ashes.

Typically I’m super hesitant to review YA books. I know I’m not the intended audience and I feel like adults can be a bit harsh on YA books. Of course I’m tired of the “love triangle” element and I could use less whining, but I live with a teen and I know that is normal for that age. I usually leave YA books mildly annoyed by the characters and wishing the plot had more depth. I can honestly say that I enjoyed the characters in these books and the plot was intelligent and fast-paced. It was a great reading experience!

The plot concerns a teen girl, Clary, who comes home one day to find her mother is gone, her home is ransacked and then she is attacked by a giant demon. Talk about a bad day. This kicks into gear an intense story involving Shadowhunters (angelic demon hunters covered in tattooed runes), demons, vampires, werewolves, and fairies. The first book had me gripped, but the second was a bit slow towards the end. I think it is because I read them back to back and the teen angst/love got a bit tiring.

The writing is lovely, the characters fresh, and there are many discussions about the importance of coffee, which is a plus in my mind. This series reminded me of Harry Potter in some parts. Not in a “coat-tail riding way,” but more in the way the characters were cast as diverse and complete “people.” It is skilful how Clare conveys her characters’ histories even when we don’t see the characters for very long. It really kept my emotions tied to the story. I wanted to see how these characters triumphed or failed. If a writer has me caring for more than the protagonist then you can consider me hooked (and I’m hooked). I’m going to wait a bit to pick up the third book, but this is certainly a series I will revisit.

~~~ Stats ~~~

City of Bone

Started: 07/26/2015

Finished: 07/29/2015

Pages: 485


Owned/Borrowed/Library: Library

Stars: 5 Stars

City of Ashes

Started: 08/04/2015

Finished: 08/14/2015

Pages: 453


Owned/Borrowed/Library: Library

Stars: 3 Stars


What I’m reading: Yesterday I started John Steinbeck’s East of Eden and I can honestly say that I’m embarrassed I didn’t read him sooner. His writing reminds me of Thomas Hardy’s novelsit must be the unflinching look at humanity in really beautiful prose that reminds me of Hardy. I’m a little over 50 pages in, but I cannot wait to sink into this book.

What’s up next: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters. I swear. I will really read it this time. I know it isn’t The Little Stranger. I think I’ve accepted that enough to move on and actually read the dang book. 

Other Bookish News: I had planned on doing Bout of Books, but this is the first week of faculty being on campus and I am so slammed at work. I have a feeling I will want to spend my evenings watching TV and crocheting rather than reading. I would really encourage you to take a look at Bout of Books, though! Lots of participants and great Twitter convos all week.

Happy Reading!

Head Case: My Brain and Other Wonders by Cole Cohen

A hole in your brain the size of a lemon can cause anxiety, confuse you from telling your right from your left, lead you to misjudge distance, and leave the concept of time incomprehensible. There is a chance you will spend your childhood and most of your adulthood trying to mask your problems, be misdiagnosed with a battery of learning disabilities, cause family strife, and above all require tenacity and spunk to navigate your seemingly quirky self in a chaotic world. Cole Cohen tells you exactly what having a hole in the brain is like with wit and candor in her memoir Head Case: My Brain and Other Wonders.

Never before have I read a memoir that so precisely allowed me to experience a host of memories and emotions that are not mind in such a funny, intimate, and educational manner. We follow Cohen from her brain scan in her mid-twenties, back in time through her struggles as a child, her college education, and the difficulty of work and “adulting” when concepts like time and distance are imperceptible. Relationships with co-workers, boyfriends, family, and friends have their challenges and Cohen constantly tries to navigate a balance between allowing people to help her and asserting her independance. Western and Eastern medicine, philosophy and science, and large does of creativity are coping mechanisms and highlights how little we humans know about the science of the brain.

What I enjoyed most about this memoir is Cohen’s highlighting of what it is like to be someone with an “unseen” handicap or differing ability. As one with PTSD, anxiety, and chronic depression I have difficulty articulating to others how I can look fine, but have a brain working against me. Many of the coping skills Cohen details in her memoir like (DBT therapy) I have used to help me function.

With her tenacity and positive outlook Cole Cohen offers so much hope to those who struggle with quirky brains. The writing is effervescent and inspiring; a 5 star read!


This book was released by Henry Holt and Company in May of this year. The publisher provided a copy in exchange for an honest review.  

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’d Love to See as Movies

books to movies

Today’s Top Ten Tuesday is about books to movies. Let’s get straight to it, but with one caveat… the movies MUST be well-done. No half-assing or plot/character changes.

The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman: This is my favorite historical novel and began my Wars of the Roses obsession. This would have to be a long movie or mini-series and Richard Armitage MUST play Richard the Third.

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman: I would really love for this to be a Hayao Miyazaki animated film.

The Secret History by Donna Tartt: This would be so good. I have no idea who I would want in the cast, but I’m thinking it would make a great gritty Darren Aronofsky film.

Excellent Women by Barbara Pym: Not only would it be a wonderful BBC masterpiece film, but Thomas at Hogglestock once suggested that Miranda Hart (Chummy from Call the Midwife) would make an excellent Mildred Lathbury.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath: There was a horrible verison that didn’t resemble the book at ALL made in the 70s (good luck finding it). I was sort of excited about Julia Stiles directing and starring in the The Bell Jar. She really threw herself into studying Plath. No idea what happened to that project. I’d still like to see a film of this novel, but please don’t conflate Plath’s biography with the book.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: I’d love an animated version of this movie. I’m thinking a sort of The Triplets of Belleville type animation style.

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl. Ellen Page must be in this movie. Seriously.

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi: Of course this must be a highly stylized black and white film. Or an animated film with cut paper, much like this booktrailer.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson: Creepy and atmospheric with lush cinematography and plenty of focus on the actual house.

The MaddAddam Trilogy by Margaret Atwood: I hear this is in development as a mini-series and I am cautiously optimistic.


June TBR Pile


I finished five books in May, which I suppose is pretty good, but I honestly thought I’d get in more reading time. Oh well. I need to review a few of them (I’m backlogged on book reviews!), but my May reads included:

  1. The Lost Traveller by Antonia White
  2. Head Case by Cole Cohen (review forthcoming)
  3. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (review forthcoming)
  4. Fables: Werewolves of the Heartland by BIll Willingham
  5. The True Heart by Sylvia Townsend Warner (review forthcoming)

I’m ready for June reading! My anticipated TBR I’ll be pulling from includes:

  • The White Monkey and The Silver Spoon by John Galsworthy
  • Shelter Us by Laura Nicole Diamond
  • Saga v. 1 and v. 2 by Brian K. Vaughn
  • Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  • Burial Rites by Hannah Kent
  • Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen by Mary Norris
  • Something Terrible by Dean Trippe
  • Letty Fox: Her Luck by Christina Stead
  • and a pick from this project from The Estella Society; it starts tomorrow!

Mini-Challenge: Bookish Brews


First off, no… that is not my Read-a-thon stack, but it does contain my two favorite things: Coffee and Books (okay, three… I really like owls). Right now we are in the thick of Read-a-thon and I know you all are reaching for some sort of caffeinated goodness. If not, you’re a robot. I’m going to make this challenge really quick and easy:

-snap a picture of your current beverage of choice AND your current read
-post it to your platform of choice (Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, blog, etc)
-use the hashtags #bookishbrews AND #readathon
-leave a link to your picture post in the comments section

You must follow these instructions precisely to win!

At the end of the mini-challenge I will randomly pick a winner for a Starbucks gift card.

Get to percolatin’!