readerly rambles

Readerly Rambles: 16 February 2015

readerly rambles

special-topics-in-calamity-physics

What I Read: The other day I had a hankering for a very particular type of book. I wanted a non-classic, academic/nerd thriller. On a whim I went to the public library and returned home with three contenders. I ended up starting Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl and I couldn’t put it down. Blue Van Meer is a precocious high school student with a enigmatic father who is a professor and rejects putting down roots. A combination of Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark, this novel is smart, fast-paced, and will keep you guessing. Filled with teen angst, encyclopedic trivia, and criminality, this book was exactly what I needed.

~~~ Stats ~~~

Started: 04 February 2015

Finished: 13 February 2015

Pages: 514

Challenges:

Owned/Borrowed/Library: From the public library

Stars: Four out of Five

~~~~~~~~~~~~

What I’m Reading: I’m about 50 pages into my reread of Antonia White’s Frost in May. I’m really enjoying it, as I’m a huge fan of boarding school novels. Funny story; Atticus was pretending to read this book last week and I asked him what it was about. He very nonchalantly informed me that it was about a mommy and an Atticus being chased by a dragon and they had to climb into a volcano to find but then were burned black and went to live with trolls. Ummmmm… not exactly, but that would make an exciting story. I hope to wrap up this slim book in a few days.

What’s Up Next: I might dip into a graphic novel (French Milk, perhaps?) or maybe start volume two of the Forsyte Saga, In Chancery.

Happy Reading!

Readerly Rambles: 02 February 2015

readerly rambles

What I Read: I finished three books in January. I thought I would slip a fourth book in but then a wicked stomach bug obliterated our house. I haven’t been “actively ill” since Friday, but I STILL CANNOT DRINK COFFEE. I feel so unlike myself.  Anyhoo, onto the books. I read Emily Eden’s The Semi-attached Couple and the Semi-detached House for the Virago Project and I read the first book in the Forsyte Saga, The Man of Property by John Galsworthy.

My last book of the month was Catherine Bailey’s The Secret Rooms: A True Story of a Haunted Castle, A Plotting Duchess, & a Family Secret. Baily originally did not set out to write this book. She wanted to write about the 1,700 young men from the estate’s 30 villages who fought in World War 1. Many of the soldiers didn’t survive. As she was sifting through the 9th Duke of Rutlands “secret rooms” — where he meticulously cataloged and archived all the family’s correspondence and documents — she discovered three HUGE gaps with very precise start and end dates. Fascinated by the intentional editing of this family’s history she set off to explore what secrets lurked in those gaps.

I really enjoyed the first two-thirds of the book. The meticulously detailed logs and letters, the layout of the castle, the daily lives of the servants…. riveting. What makes it more exciting is the books details the night the 9th Duke dies and indicates that an attempted break-in occurred shortly after his death. I was riveted and then I wasn’t. See I was expecting espionage or madness or incest or something sordid and wicked. Instead I found the three gaps to be “meh”. The first is tragic, but not scandalous. The second was cranky, but not scandalous. The last secret was scandalous, but I think only in that time period and I believe modern readers will be more sympathetic. And the break in detailed at the beginning of the book? Never resolved and completely unrelated to all the secrets. Grrrr.. So there isn’t a haunted castle, the duchess is more overbearing, conniving mother than plotting and the family secrets are meh.

That isn’t to say that this book is no good, I did really like it. The historical detail about World War 1 was fascinating and I loved hearing about all the letters. Read it for the research and the history and NOT for juicy gossip.

~~~ Stats ~~~

Started: 23 January 2015

Finished: 29 January 2015

Pages: 465

Challenges:

Owned/Borrow/Library: From the library

Stars: Four out of Five

~~~~~~~~~~~~

What I’m Reading: At lunch I picked up Geek Love by Katherine Dunn for the Estella Society Read-along!

GeekLoveRAL-300x300I’m also still into my Cranford audiobook.

What’s Up Next: In addition to Geek Love and Cranford, my February TBR consists of:

  • Frost in May by Antonia White for the Virago Project and my TBR Challenge
  • In Chancery by John Galsworthy for the Forsyte Saga Read
  • The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters for the Literary Exploration GoodReads Group
  • Black Beauty by Anna Sewell for fun
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson as an audiobook.

Bookish Miscellany:

I’m putting the final touches on my gift for my Bookish Valentine! I’m having so much fun with it!

Let me know what’s shaking in your corner of the reading world. Happy Reading!

Readerly Rambles: Bookish Hauls, a Bookstagramathon, and a Challenge

readerly rambles

First, I’d like to share my bookish spoils. Many thanks to Sam for knowing exactly what I wanted.

wpid-wp-1419798580565.jpeg

Penguin Threads collection is complete!

wpid-wp-1419798596792.jpeg

Now I only lack the last two books in the Penguin Horror series. Huzzah!

bookstagram_readathon

If you follow me on Instagram (nerdybookgirl) you may know that I am participating in the Bookstagramathon. My goals are to finish The LuminariesIntroverts in Church, and my audiobook of Rebecca. This will get me to my 40 book goal. I also plan on posting my January TBR and digging into my first read of 2015. Expect updates on Instagram and I’ll do a brief update next week on the blog.

backtotheclassics2015BUTTON

Now, I’ve decided to join another challenge even though I swore I wouldn’t. BUT, a good chunk of my reading is composed of classic novels. I just couldn’t help myself. I am going to play really loosey goosey with this challenge. I’m not posting a list. Instead I am going to fill-in where I can. Check out Back to the Classics and let me know if you will be participating

Readerly Rambles: Looking to 2015 and the TBR Challenge

readerly rambles

Heavens to Betsy, it is after 10am and I’ve been intending on blogging all morning. I’m on my third cup of coffee, so I suppose I am finally caffeinated enough to write something. First a brief word on this year’s reading. I’m three books away from meeting my goal of 40 books in 2014. My original goal was to read 50 books, but then I decided to be realistic. This has been my year of chunksters equally a high page count despite the low “book” numbers. Whatev. I plan on finishing The Luminaries and then reading a short Christmas novella and a short non-fiction book. Boom. Done. Now onto 2015.

I’ve considered signing up for some reading challenges and there are some fantastic ones out there, but I will have to pass. I’m going to do Adam’s TBR challenge, but that book list is coming straight from my Virago Project list. Instead I’m going to focus on readalongs, monthly events, and other short-term “challenges.”

And now for my 2015 TBR List!

2015tbrbutton

  1. The Semi-Attached Couple and the Semi-Detached House by Emily Eden (DONE 01/15/15)
  2. Frost in May by Antonia White
  3. Mr. Fortune’s Maggot by Sylvia Townsend Warner
  4. The True Heart by Sylvia Townsend Warner
  5. Letty Fox: Her Luck by Christina Stead
  6. For Love Alone by Christina Stead
  7. Precious Bane by Mary Webb
  8. The Holiday by Stevie Smith
  9. Surfacing by Margaret Atwood
  10. Enormous Changes at the Last Minute by Grace Paley
  11. Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles
  12. A Pin to See the Peepshow by F. Tennyson Jesse
  13. (alternate) The Lacquer Lady by F. Tennyson Jesse
  14. (alternate) Gone to Earth by Mary Webb

I am excited about the 2015 reading year!

#AMonthofFaves: An Introduction

amonthoffaves

This month Estella’s Revenge, Girlxoxo, and Traveling with T are hosting a month of bookish – and sometimes not – favorites. Check out this intro post to learn more. The task for today is to introduce our reading year. How has this year “shaped up” and a basic snapshot of our year in reading.

If you look at straight up numbers my reading year has been dismal. My original GoodReads goal of reading 50 books was soon ditched for the far more realistic 40 books. Looks can be deceiving; although my numbers are low I have read so. many. chunksters. I’ve read five books well over 500 pages — Middlemarch, The Woman in White, Alias Grace, A Game of Thrones, and Doctor Thorne — and when I finish Framley Parsonage that will be six chunksters in the bag. I’ve also read ten classics which, if I make it to 40 books read and read the other classics on the docket for the month, will be about a third of my reading for the year.

I have to remember that my life is in a different season right now and it is not a reading intense series. This year we’ve endured two bouts of the kids having a stomach flu of lasting over the week, I’ve had strep throat four times, Sam switched jobs and ramped up his college courses, and we moved amidst less than ideal circumstances. Life has been busy.

I think I have successfully met my goal of making this year a year infused with the written word despite my low numbers. I wanted to write in addition to read and I’ve done that. Nanowrimo didn’t happen but I’ve written more letters, journaled with more depth, and my blog writing has been more consistent. Mischief managed.

I have decided that I am not an e-reader fan. While useful for traveling and late nights with the kids I find my attention wanders with e-readers and I don’t have the same rich reading experience. I’m certainly an old fashioned girl when it comes to books. Having said that I am no longer purchasing electronic books DESPITE the cheap-o deals. I use the app on my Android WAY more than my actual Kindle as it makes reading easier for when I am stuck. I always have my phone, but I don’t bother to carry the Kindle. Long live the printed word!

 

Readerly Rambles: Wrapping up RIPIX and a New Classics Spin

ripnineperilfirst

I rocked Carl’s RIP challenge this year. My goal was to complete at least four books and I finished seven.

  1. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
  2. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
  3. White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi. I haven’t reviewed this yet, but I adored it. It was deeply troubling, beautiful, and frightening. It made me think about family, racism, gender, and all the while I was terrified. The writing is gorgeous and I think it expresses that sometimes it is our perceived “inheritances” that can be the most frightening. I will certainly revisit this novel again.
  4. Dark Shadows, vol 1 by Stuart Manning. Meh
  5. The War of the Worlds by H G Wells
  6. Amphigorey by Edward Gorey
  7. Locke and Key, vol. 6 by Joe Hill

I love RIP season as September and October are perfect for ghastly and ghoulish books. Now it is November and I’ve done my post-RIP routine of determining my reads for the rest of the year. I’ve fiddled with my GoodReads goal (which feels like cheating) and I hope to finish 48 books by the end of the year. Will I make it? Seeing that I’m only at 35 probably not. But I’m willing to try. Here are my books to be read by the end of the year.

First, the in progress reads:

  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (audio)
  • Framley Parsonage by Anthony Trollope
  • The Collected Ghost Stories of MR James

My goal is to continue reading the stories throughout November and December. I hope to finish Rebecca and Framley Parsonage  by Monday the 10th.

Now, the rest of my TBR:

  • Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
  • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
  • The Hotel by Elizabeth Bowen
  • The Quick by Lauren Owen
  • The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope
  • Mrs. DeWinter by Susan Hill
  • The Man in the Picture by Susan Hill
  • The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
  • The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope
  • Classic Club Spin book

That’s right! It is time for another Classic Club spin challenge! I love these. I’m already thinking about my reading for next year because I am a nerd and I love lists (duh). I want to start a new reading project. Not a CHALLENGE with a DEADLINE, but a life-long project of reading all the Virago Modern Classics. I’m officially starting in January, but I thought I’d use this last Classic Club spin challenge of the year to get started. Here are my 20 Viragos:

  1. Frost in May by Antonia White
  2. Mr. Fortune’s Maggot by Sylvia Townsend Warner
  3. The True Heart by Sylvia Townsend Warner
  4. Letty Fox: Her Luck by Christina Stead
  5. For Love Alone by Christina Stead
  6. Precious Bane by Mary Webb
  7. The Holiday by Stevie Smith
  8. Surfacing by Margaret Atwood
  9. Enormous Changes at the Last Minute by Grace Paley
  10. Two Serious Ladies by Jane Bowles
  11. A Pin to See the Peepshow by F. Tennyson Jesse
  12. The Lacquer Lady by F. Tennyson Jesse
  13. The Semi-attached Couple and the Semi-detached House by Emily Eden
  14. Gone to Earth by Mary Webb
  15. Over the Frontier by Stevie Smith
  16. The Beth Book by Sarah Grand
  17. A Lost Lady by Willa Cather
  18. My Antonia by Willa Cather
  19. The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood
  20. The Little Disturbances of Man by Grace Paley

A small note, while I would love to own each of these books in their perfect, green-spine glory, I’m aware that I don’t need to spend money on books AND I cannot store all of them right now. Some of these books I may own in other editions or I may *gasp* use the library. The goal is to read the books, not fuss and fiddle with editions. Next Monday I’ll find out my spin number, but for now I’m going to focus on knocking out Trollope.

 

Happy Reading!

 

Readerly Rambles: The Read-a-thon mini-review edition

readerly rambles

Dark Shadows, volume 1 by Stuart Manning

Meh. I don’t know if this is the case, but it felt like cashing in on the movie. A whole lot happens in fewer than 100 pages with little character development, no plot tension and middle of the road illustrations.  (2 Stars)

Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot

This is a fun little book of poems about cats. I adored it. The poems were clever and fresh and would be a treat for any cheeky cat lover. Illustrated by Edward Gorey. (4 Stars)

The Night Bookmobile by Audrey Niffenegger

I hated this little book. It is 40 pages of stupidity. PLOT SPOILERS. Woman finds a bookmobile at night that contains everything she has ever read. She wants to work on this bookmobile that disappears magically for years at a time. She becomes a librarian and is upset that she is still unqualified to be a night bookmobile librarian. So she commits suicide and becomes the night bookmobile librarian for someone else. This “graphic novel” had no character development. I didn’t give two hoots she offs herself and I thought she was whiny and dumb the entire time. The idea is brilliant and this might have worked as a longer, more fleshed out work. (1 Star)

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

Honestly, I did not think I would like this book. I chose to read it for read-a-thon because it was under 300 pages and was illustrated by Edward Gorey. It was amazing. I don’t know why I didn’t read it sooner. This tale of Martians annihilating the Victorians was fast-paced, beautifully written, and meaningful all while functioning as a badass Victorian Walking Dead with aliens instead of zombies. Read it. (4 Stars)

Amphigorey by Edward Gorey

This is a collection of 15 of Edward Gorey’s illustrated books. Because I read the book cover to cover in one sitting, the titles tend to run together, but it doesn’t matter. It is fun and macabre and beautifully illustrated. (4 Stars)

Fables: Snow White (v. 19) by Bill Willingham

Oh my gosh I love Fables and this collection is pretty exciting. I didn’t care much for the first quarter of the book that ties up loose ends with Buffkin the flying monkey and his pixie girlfriends. But the last 3/4 of the book is exciting and turns the plot and I cannot say more without spoiling everything. (4 Stars)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Read-a-thon was terrific. I am getting closer to getting to where I want to be with reading. The rest of October will be finishing several books I have going right now (Quartet in Autumn, Framley Parsonage, M R James short stories, and Rebecca on audio).

Happy Reading!