readerly rambles

Readerly Rambles: 21 September 2015

readerly rambles

What I read: East of Eden by John Steinbeck. This book was picked by you lovely reader on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and in the comments for my classic book for August (ummm it took me a while to read it). If ever there was a book to deserve a proper review it is East of Eden. I lack the ability to sum up how much adored this book in a thoughtful and critical manner, so you will have to make do with over-dramatic exclamations of fondness. Ahem: DEAR LORD THAT WAS A MARVELOUS READ!!! Now, go forth and read it. If you’re lucky I may get around to writing a proper review that reins in my exuberance.

~~~ Stats ~~~

Started: 15 August 2015

Finished: 16 September 2015

Pages: 602


Owned/Borrowed/Library: Owned

Stars: 5 out of 5


What I’m reading: I’ve a few days of a book break while I bask in the glory of Steinbeck. I’ve read a handful of short stories by H.P. Lovecraft for RIPX and I plan to review those once I finish my lovely Penguin Horror copy.


What’s up next: I have Lauren Owen’s The Quick in my bag and I plan on starting that this evening. This is also for the RIPX challenge; the Peril of the Group Read.


Other Bookish News: I went to the public library’s book sale this weekend and behaved so well. I picked up 5 books for $5. Check ’em out –

librarybooks5In other bookish news I completely bailed on the Dog Days of Summer Readathon, BUT I am totally participating in the 24-hour Read-a-thon happening in October. Sign-ups are live! I love this year’s button, BTW!


Happy Reading!

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!

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!

Readerly Rambles: My August TBR and Choose my next book!

readerly ramblesI was feeling a bit overwhelmed with book choices and all the readalongs thrumming through the blogosphere. I decided it would be helpful if I organized my TBR by categories. Below you’ll see what I’ll be pulling from this month.

Young Adult: I’m already halfway done with Cassandra Clare’s second book in Mortal Instruments series, City of Ashes. I should finish this in the next day or two.

Contemporary: I’ve been striving to read more fiction published in the last five years. I’m finally going to read Sarah Waters’ The Paying Guests (I know I’ve said that a dozen times, but this time I mean it).

Graphic Novel: Walk volumes 1 and 2 by John Lewis (this is the university’s first year read)

Non-Fiction: Ann Patchett’s collection of essays, This is the Story of a Happy Marriage

Series: This year I’m focusing on The Forsyte Chronicles by John Galsworthy. I’ll be reading The Silver Spoon next.

Short Story Collection: I will continue with the Victorian Fairy Tales Collections and adding a re-re-re-read of Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber.

Virago: I am woefully behind in my Virago challenge. I’ll be reading Letty Fox: Her Luck by Christina Stead to inch my way towards catching up.

Wildcard: I have a hankering for some historical fiction, so let’s throw The Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks into the pile.

Last but not least, I really want to read a classic next. I’m stuck and cannot decided what to do. Pick my book for me and I will read it next. Which one should it be?

  1. Emma by Jane Austen (my least favorite Austen, but I read it over 10 years ago! I do have a lovely Penguin edition and I’ve had this book on the nightstand for months)
  2. The Bird’s Nest by Shirley Jackson (I keep meaning to read this and I have no idea why I never actually pick it up. Also on the nightstand).
  3. East of Eden by John Steinbeck (::whispers:: “I’ve never read Steinbeck”)
  4. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy (devoured The Return of the Native in the winter of 2012 before Persy Jane was born. I haven’t picked out another Hardy novel and he is so spectacular)
  5. Bleak House by Charles Dickens (I could re-read a favorite!)
  6. The Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope (remember when I was going to read all the Barsetshire novels last year? Yeah… I need to get back on that).

So what will it be? Help me decide. I”m throwing this on social media too and whichever book gets the most votes by noon on Wednesday will be the one I read next. Thanks ahead of time for the help!

Readerly Rambles: 9 July 2015

readerly rambles
I am truly feeling a need to jump start my reading. I’m in a lag. My current read is phenomenal, The Children’s Book by A S Byatt, but it is a chunkster. It hasn’t proven great for the tiny pockets of reading I find each day. Work and kids mean that I have to relish in the 10 and 15 minute blocks of reading time just as much as a three hour long reading bender. This book draws me in and has a slow build. I just end up getting cranky when I have to put it down.
Nothing revitalizes my reading like making huge plans, drawing up mega lists of books and then start reading with wild abandon. Below are a few bookish events I’ll be participating in or, at the very least, I am planning on participating in (who knows where my whims will take me).
First off this weekend is the start of the 24 in 48 readathon. The goal is to read for 24 hours within a 48 hour time period. You all know I’m a cheater-cheater-pumpkin-eater so I’m going to go for reading for 12 hours during the event. It will be a huge uptick in my reading seeing as I think I read for 12 minutes last weekend. At the very least I hope to polish off The Children’s Book this weekend.
Next is the Shirley Jackson Reading week running from July 13th – July 18th. I’ll be reading The Bird’s Nest, listening to We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and possibly picking up one of Jackson’s memoirs.
A really great event that I’m not participating in is the Socratic Salon’s Alice in Wonderland discussion. The only reason I’m not participating is because I’ve decided I must purchase a beautiful copy and I’m on a book buying ban until September. I will be reading this in the autumn, but not right now. Their button for the event is so beautiful that I think everyone else should participated. Now.
Since I am itching to re-read a classic, I’ll be jumping on to a long-term Emma reading event. I can manage five chapters a week, right?
Let me know if you’re participating in any of the above events and throw some reading event recommendations my way. Happy Reading!

Readerly Rambles: 29 June 2015

readerly rambles

July marks the halfway point for the year’s reading and I thought I might take a little time to analyze my reading so far this year. My reading progress in June has been a bit slow, but that’s mostly because I’ve immersed myself in a large novel and it is taking me longer to complete. This isn’t a complaint; The Children’s Book by A. S. Byatt is so lush, vibrant, and weirdly uncomfortable. It will certainly be a fun review to write when I’m done.

I’ve read 27 books so far, which puts me a little bit ahead on my goal of 52 reads completed by the end of the year. Tomorrow I’ll talk about my favorite books of 2015 so far, but today I thought I’d mention my graphic novel reads.


Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton: I adored this series of witty comics mostly about history and literature. I’m not Canadian, so I had to look up some names and events to get the “punchline.” The literary ones were the best; I was spewing coffee out my nose when I read the one about “The Yellow Wallpaper.”

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh: WOW. On first glance you may think this is just silliness, but it is so profound. Each “story” in this collection is witty, heartfelt, and thought-provoking. I could see this as being a text in a class on memoir and graphic novels. Okay, just thought of a syllabus in my head. Graphic Novel Memoirs should totally be a thing if it isn’t already.

Fables #20: Camelot, Fairest #1: Wide Awake, and Fables: Wolves of the Heartland all by Bill Willingham: I’m nearly caught up with the Fables series, but I may be losing a bit of steam. I loved the first volume of Fairest and will being reading all the kick-ass volumes in this series. Wolves was a one-off from Fables and provided some more background on Bigby Wolf.

Up next for graphic novels: When about to dig into Brian K. Vaughn’s Saga series and I’m anticipating I’ll want to devour that. It also reminds me that I never finish Y: The Last Man even though I enjoyed the last few volumes. Then I’ll be seeking out some more girl-power from Ms. Marvel and may even pick up some Captain Marvel too. Sweet Tooth by Jeff Lemire is on down the list as well. I’m tempted to scrap all my plans and devour Noelle Stevenson’s Lumberjanes and Nimona. 

Oh yeah… I also have a stack of comics from Free Comic Book day, I could probably knock those out in July.

I can’t even handle how many great things there are to read! Let me know where I should start in my big ole’ pile of graphic novels and increase my anxiety and through more recommendations my way. I’m a glutton for punishment.

Three Reviews: Station Eleven, The True Heart, and The White Monkey

3reviewsI’m getting behind on book reviews. How about an good old-fashioned mini-review dump?

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel


Thanks to the Georgia flu much of the world has been wiped out. Many died and died quickly, electricity and communication are totally gone, and those who survive have lived because of luck, wit, and violence. The novel follows several characters in their lives before the flu and what happens to those after the devastation. I especially love that this novel has gobs of Shakespeare in it. The book opens with King Lear and The Tempest and Midsummer Night’s Dream are sprinkled through out.

I’m giving this book four stars because it was well-written and superbly plotted, BUT it read like Margaret Atwood fanfiction. When I finished the book I just wanted to go re-read the Oryx and Crake trilogy. A friend pointed out that the book also has some elements of The Blind Assassin as well.

Check this book out for sure, but be aware that Atwood fans will be hankering after more Atwood. If you’ve yet to read Atwood, then read Station Eleven first. It is a great book, but pales in comparison to Atwood. I will certainly be checking out other books by Mandel.

~~~ Stats ~~~

Started: 13 May 2015

Finished: 23 May 2015

Pages: 336

Challenges: —

Owned/Borrowed/Library: library
Stars: 4 out of 5 stars


The True Heart by Sylvia Townsend Warner

I am so hesitant to review this at all as I really didn’t like it. Sukey is a simple orphan, she goes to work as a maid, fails in love with a mentally handicapped boy, they’re separated and then she fights to get him back. I loved the lush descriptions of trees and flowers, but I thought Sukey was dumber than a box of rocks. I should have read the intro, because APPARENTLY this was supposed to be a fairy tale sort of re-telling of Psyche and Cupid. I totally missed that and now I feel like I should re-read it before pronouncing a final judgement. Will I re-read it? Who knows?

~~~ Stats ~~~

Started: 23 May 2015

Finished: 30 May 2015

Pages: 297

Challenges: Virago Project / TBR challenge

Owned/Borrowed/Library: library
Stars: 2 out of 5 stars


The White Monkey by John Galsworthy

For some reason this has been my least favorite of the Galsworthy books. Maybe it is because Soames is now sort of moral and that through me for a loop. I dislike Fleur. Michael Mont is likeable, but seems like a throwaway character. It seems like the books are falling into a pattern of love OR relationship –> ennui AND affairs –> some sort of crisis that is never really totally articulated or resolved. Once again, this may be because I was in a book funk after reading The True Heart. I may wait a month or two before picking up the next Galsworthy.

~~~ Stats ~~~

Started: 24 May 2015

Finished: 13 June 2015

Pages: 352

Challenges: —

Owned/Borrowed/Library: owned
Stars: 3 out of 5 stars