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Friday, January 30, 2015

Book Beginnings: In the Kingdom of Ice

Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading.

In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides

"On a misty morning in late April 1873, the Tigress, a steam barkentine out of Conception Bay, Newfoundland, was pushing through the loose floes and bergs off the coast of Labrador, heading for the seasonal seal-hunting grounds."

Instead of seals, they found nineteen people stranded on an ice floe for seven months, from the lost ship Polaris. Why people want to go exploring in the polar regions, particularly in this era before electric lights and any method of communicating, is baffling to me.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

“Waiting On” Wednesday: We Are Pirates

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pre-publication “can't-wait-to-read” selection is:

We Are Pirates by Daniel Handler

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Mega-bestselling author Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket) gives us his long-awaited and most ambitious novel yet: a dark, rollicking, stunningly entertaining human comedy.

A boat has gone missing. Goods have been stolen. There is blood in the water. It is the twenty-first century and a crew of pirates is terrorizing the San Francisco Bay.

Phil is a husband, a father, a struggling radio producer, and the owner of a large condo with a view of the water. But he’d like to be a rebel and a fortune hunter.

Gwen is his daughter. She’s fourteen. She’s a student, a swimmer, and a best friend. But she’d like to be an adventurer and an outlaw.

Phil teams up with his young, attractive assistant. They head for the open road, attending a conference to seal a deal.

Gwen teams up with a new, fierce friend and some restless souls. They head for the open sea, stealing a boat to hunt for treasure.

We Are Pirates is a novel about our desperate searches for happiness and freedom, about our wild journeys beyond the boundaries of our ordinary lives.

Also, it’s about a teenage girl who pulls together a ragtag crew to commit mayhem in the San Francisco Bay, while her hapless father tries to get her home.

Publishing February 3, 2015 by Bloomsbury USA.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Teaser Tuesdays: The Job

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Grab your current read. Open to a random page. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

The Job: True Tales from the Life of a New York City Cop by Steve Osborne

"Don't believe that bullshit you see on TV where the cop talks in a normal tone of voice and tells the bad guy to put his hands behind his head and walk backwards to the sound of his voice. That might work out in L.A. or someplace like that, but it don't work here."

It turns out that the reason cops rush in and start screaming obscenities is to shock the bad guy so his survival instinct kicks in, which makes him much less likely to hurt the cops.


Book Review: The Job: True Tales from the Life of a New York City Cop by Steve Osborne

This book is billed as a memoir, but it isn't. It is a series of personal essays that were written at different times, can be read out of order, and also therefore there are some repetitions. I read it straight through. My husband read it but jumped around from one story to next depending on which title struck him. I don't know that either of us had a better or worse experience.

Steve became a cop in New York City in the mid-1980s. The stories in the book are mostly in chronological order, so you start with the stories of his first days as a rookie, and then climbing up to lieutenant, finally managing a large squad. One advantage of the individual stories instead of a traditional memoir is that he has license to only tell the most interesting stories, and boy, he had some interesting things happen! Not the type of cop to ever voluntarily work a desk, he had the somewhat unique experience of having arrests on his first day, and his last. Some of the stories are funny, some are sad, some are horrifying.

The comparisons to Blue Blood are inevitable. The Job is not quite as well-written, and also suffers from not having a single through-narrative structure, but it is still enjoyable and gives you a great series of slices of what life as a NYC cop is like. It was a short and fascinating read about cops I used to see every day. I'm so glad they do such an important job, and I'm so glad I don't have to.

I read an ARC that was given to me by the owner of my local independent bookstore.

Monday, January 26, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. Last week I was on vacation in St. Croix so I got a lot of reading done. Back home, I am bitter and cold, and of course not getting as much read, sigh. Plus, the 1000+ page book I began will take a while. I started Pioneer Girl during the Readathon on Saturday.

Books completed last week:
The Job: True Tales from the Life of a New York City Cop by Steve Osborne

Books I am currently reading/listening to:
Hawaii by James A. Michener
In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides
Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Pamela Smith Hill (Editor)

Up next:
You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz
Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival by Peter Stark
Men We Reaped: A Memoir by Jesmyn Ward

Book Review: Some Luck by Jane Smiley

I've read a couple of Jane Smiley's books (A Thousand Acres, Moo) and while I enjoyed them, and she's stayed on my radar, I haven't sought out others of hers. But this concept really intrigued me. Called The Last Hundred Years: A Family Saga, she's got three books coming out over the course of one full year (book #2, Early Warning, comes out in May), and they cover one farm family in Iowa over 100 years. Each book covers 33 years, starting in 1920 with the young couple Walter and Rosanna. It then follows their children, who grow up, marry, and have their own children by the end of the book.

I really got to love this family. I didn't realize it for a while as the story is told in a simple, straightforward, unromantic way (perfectly suited to the Iowa farming community) but they really got to grow on me, to the point where it was hard for me to read the 1930s. I was so worried about them, and bad things do happen that hurt me. But overall they come through. They have a core strength that allows them to overcome even the worst luck that comes in life. In that regard, it captures the atmosphere of both the region and the agricultural lifestyle.

When the book ended, I wanted to keep reading. It does have a conclusion and you could read just the one book without the others, but I am so eager for the next book. I think I will put myself on the waiting list for it at the library, now. It's amazing how masterfully it is written, considering how spare the style is, but Ms. Smiley is such a great writer, the book reads effortlessly. A real treat of precision and heart, Some Luck is a beautiful and touching novel of Americana.

I checked this book out of the library.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Book Beginnings: The Job

Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading.

The Job: True Tales from the Life of a New York City Cop by Steve Osborne

"I stopped the car under the giant arch at the Fifth Avenue entrance of Washington Square Park."

This does a great job of setting the scene, even if we didn't already know the book was set in NYC from the subtitle. The arch is such an iconic symbol. And back int he day, it was well-known as a huge drug dealing place.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

“Waiting On” Wednesday: Funny Girl

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pre-publication “can't-wait-to-read” selection is:

Funny Girl by Nick Hornby

Synopsis from Goodreads:
From the bestselling author of High Fidelity, About a Boy, and A Long Way Down comes a highly anticipated new novel.

Set in 1960's London, Funny Girl is a lively account of the adventures of the intrepid young Sophie Straw as she navigates her transformation from provincial ingénue to television starlet amid a constellation of delightful characters. Insightful and humorous, Nick Hornby's latest does what he does best: endears us to a cast of characters who are funny if flawed, and forces us to examine ourselves in the process.

Publishing February 3, 2015 by Riverhead.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Book Review: Police by Jo Nesbø, translated by Don Bartlett

The Harry Hole series is interesting in that it hasn't been published in order in the U.S., and it doesn't seem to need to matter in what order it's read, and yet Harry has an interesting backstory. So this is the tenth book. The only other book of his I've read is The Snowman which is book #7 in the series. (and I own The Leopard which is #8).

In Police, Harry seems to have conquered his demons for the most part, but at a great cost. He has quit being a police officer. That was the very essence of his being, and he was the best, but that was what drove his demons, and so he has quit, in order to salvage his relationship with Rakel. And he picked a bad time because someone starts killing police officers in Oslo, on the anniversary of unsolved murders. One of the officers who was on the case is killed in a way that reproduces the original murder. And Harry isn't on the case. In fact, he doesn't appear in the book until more than 100 pages in. But of course he does have to help, particularly when it's his friends and former colleagues whose lives are in danger.

Nesbø is fantastic at suspense. Occasionally it's a little forced, as these people never seem to turn around and look to see who's come in the room, despite sometimes having been surprised by a murderer. And other times it's the narrator who will refer to "the man" for quite a while before finally revealing if it's a bad guy or an innocuous good guy whose been made to seem menacing simply by being unnamed. Contrived it may be, but it's nevertheless extremely effective. I cannot read these books and go straight to sleep. Nor can I read them alone at night (at least not if there's a scary bit. I can read the more bureaucratic parts, but you just don't know what the next chapter will bring.) He keeps me guessing up to the end, and I am happy ignoring the fact that more murders have occurred in Nesbø's fiction than in all of Norway in like the last 20 years. Funny how such a peaceful region is popular for such violent fiction.

I checked this book out of the library.

Teaser Tuesdays: Police

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Grab your current read. Open to a random page. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Police by Jo Nesbø p. 50

"Ulla could get anyone she wanted, and she didn't want him, Truls. As long as she was with Mikael he would at least have a chance to be in her presense."

It's creepy that one reason Truls wants to stay friend with Mikael is to be around Mikael's wife, Ulla.


Monday, January 19, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Books completed last week:
All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid by Matt Bai
Police by Jo Nesbø
Some Luck by Jane Smiley

Books I am currently reading/listening to:
Hawaii by James A. Michener
The Job: True Tales from the Life of a New York City Cop by Steve Osborne

Up next:
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
The Men Who United the States: America's Explorers, Inventors, Eccentrics and Mavericks, and the Creation of One Nation, Indivisible by Simon Winchester
The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking by Olivia Laing

Friday, January 16, 2015

Book Beginnings: Police

Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading.

Police by Jo Nesbø

"It was asleep in there, behind the door."

"It" is not a pet or anything, it's a gun. A gun that Harry Hole would like to forget, would like to disappear forever. But it won't.




Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Book Review: All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid by Matt Bai

I was starting high school when Gary Hart ran for president in 1987. I don't remember much about it. But I was very interested in the author's thesis that this was the moment when news started to become infotainment and stopped being particularly helpful to citizens. The import of moments like this are often only apparent in retrospect. I'm sure no one at the time foresaw how the Monkey Business scandal was going to affect politics. Sure, people figured that it would have an affect, but most people wrongly assumed that it meant that politicians with any skeletons in their closets, particularly of a sexual nature, could never run for office ever again (hello, Bill Clinton!)

Instead, Bai comes to the conclusion that the big change in this moment was that we stopped considering the substance of the politician and only considered their character. In fact he compares Barack Obama's lack of much political experience to Sarah Palin's (although he acknowledges that the similarity ends there.) The lack of substance is a scary thing (hello Palin!) and he believes the strength of character bit is overplayed. I agree on the first point but not on the second. In fact, he doesn't seem to believe it himself, ending the book by pointing out that Hart could have reentered politics numerous times, had he only changed his story and apologized. Instead, he stood by his story and never faltered (that nothing sexual happened with Donna Rice), despite the harm that caused to his career and aspirations, and Bai calls that evidence of good character. I agree, but if Bai's just been telling us for hundreds of pages how insignificant the whole "character" thing is in politics, then why in the end approve of Hart's character? It's true that other politicians who were serial cheaters (F. Roosevelt, Kennedy) did great things politically, and politicians who did reprehensible things (T. Kennedy) went to to achieve much in the world of politics, but just as Bai argues that a slip-up in one's personal life shouldn't end one's political aspirations, the obverse is also true. Just because a person does good things for the country doesn't mean they're not an awful person (Nixon). But Bai seems to yearn for the pre-Hart days when journalists winked at politician's sexual dalliances and other personal problems and wrote lengthy, thought-out pieces about international world views and the like. That ship has sailed. And not entirely for the worse. Bai admits that not much dirt was ever found on Obama, and that some personal problems are indicative of issues the politician has with decision-making, risk-taking, and prioritizing. Yet he yearns nonetheless.

This was a fascinating analysis and look back, but I for one am glad we no longer live in a time when politicians can do horrible things and journalists look the other way. Yes, personal lives are fair game now, and you don't have to think it's fair, but I do. Yes, we might never have another introverted president, and that is a shame, but I think that overall, the greater transparency works out. While on the one hand, I don't really care who a president is screwing (if his wife doesn't care) so long as  he isn't the screwing the country, on the other hand I do want to know he is screwing around and have the choice on election day to make that call. Some relationships are complicated (helloooooo Clintons!) and that's their business, but the rest of us have a right to know as much as is reasonable (and I argue that decisions made at home are indicative of decision-making in the office, and therefore are fair game) when we decide who to elect.

I checked this book out of the library.

“Waiting On” Wednesday: Whipping Boy

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pre-publication “can't-wait-to-read” selection is:

Whipping Boy: The Forty-Year Search for My Twelve-Year-Old Bully by Allen Kurzweil

Synopsis from Goodreads:
Equal parts investigative memoir, crime procedural, and revenge thriller, Whipping Boy chronicles the author’s real-life search for the childhood nemesis who has haunted his life for over forty years

Abused as a ten-year-old at a prestigious English boarding school nestled in the Swiss Alps, Allen Kurzweil, author of the acclaimed bestseller A Case of Curiosities, takes the reader around the world—from the Vienna Woods to the

slums of Manila to the boardroom of the world's largest law firm high above New York City—to locate and confront his long-lost tormentor, a twelve-year-old named Cesar Augustus (who tied him up and whipped him to the strains of “Jesus Christ Superstar”).

What begins as an anxiety-fueled quest for revenge takes an elaborate detour when the author discovers that Cesar has recently been released from federal prison for his role in a byzantine scheme perpetrated by a felonious duke, a Congolese king, a fugitive prince who traces his roots back to Vlad the Impaler, and a spats-wearing baron born in Toledo, Ohio.

You can’t make this stuff up (unless you’re a world-class swindler). By chance, Kurzweil finds himself privy to the voluminous files of the federal prosecutor who brought Cesar to justice, and a journalist’s curiosity clashes with a victim’s fear of facing down his old nemesis.

A scrupulously researched work of non-fiction that reads like a John Le Carré novel, Whipping Boy is more than a tale of karmic retribution. It is a heartfelt and darkly comic meditation on forgetfulness and memory, trauma and recovery, born of suffering and nourished by obsession, and resolved in a final act of courage.

Publishing January 20, 2015 by Harper.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Book review: Wondrous Beauty: The Life and Adventures of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte by Carol Berkin

This is how a history ought to be written. I have read two other histories lately that I didn't like at all, and I must say I went into this one with some measure of dread, but it was great. It was short, moved briskly, and was well-written in an accessible style.

It sounds a bit fairytale-like or just plan hard to believe, but in the early 1800s, Napoleon Bonaparte's youngest brother, Jerome, who was uneducated, liked his women, and a sprendthrift, came to America in order to avoid doing hard work aboard a ship as his brother wanted. He met young Elizabeth Patterson in Baltimore, reputed to be the greatest beauty of her time, and they quickly fell in love. Despite both families opposing the marriage, they did marry. And then when they traveled to Europe for Jerome to try to make amends with his brother, he abandoned his pregnant wife.

There were political implications as the new nation of the U.S. was trying to not get pulled into the war between Britain and France (Elizabeth ended up in England where her son was born, after being refused entry to a couple of European countries as her due date approached.) And the legitimacy of the marriage and her son was also a big political factor, as he could have affected the inheritance of the empire, more than once.

Elizabeth was ahead of her time. She disliked America and preferred Europe for its more permissive and forward-thinking ways, but she was precisely what America needed. A strong, independent woman who would fight for her rights, and who was beautiful and also smart and witty, who managed her own money and whose personal life was occasionally discussed in Congress, sounds like a quintessential American today. And it took women like Elizabeth to help pull America towards her destiny and away from her more pedestrian and inward-looking point of view.

This book was very easy to read, even though it did quote extensively, but the language wasn't stilted or academic in tone. The author didn't get bogged down in might-have-beens or perhaps-this-wases, and instead just gave us the facts without wild suppositions where facts are lacking. The character of Elizabeth is well-drawn and I found myself admiring this woman who didn't let an impetuous romantic decision when she was seventeen derail her life. She could have given up so many times, but she always fought for what she believed in and for her son. She deserves to be much better known.

I checked this book out of the library.

Teaser Tuesdays: Wondrous Beauty

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Grab your current read. Open to a random page. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Wondrous Beauty: The Life and Adventures of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte by Carol Berkin p. 39

"If Jerome's thoughts turned frequently during their long voyage to his first meeting with the emperor, Betsy's may have been on more intimate concerns. She was six months pregnant, and there would soon be a new Bonaparte in the emperor's family."

Jerome Bonaparte and his new wife, Elizabeth, are heading to Europe for Jerome to try to make up with his big brother, Napoleon, who was very angered by the marriage.

Monday, January 12, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Books completed last week:
None. I learned on the last Jo Nesbo book I read that trying to sleep after reading his books is futile as I will be terrified. So I am reading the Matt Bai book for the last 60-30 minutes right before I go to sleep. Could have easily finished one of them last week had I only been reading one. Will finish both in the next couple of days.

Books I am currently reading/listening to:
All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid by Matt Bai
Police by Jo Nesbø

Up next:
Here Is New York by E.B. White
All About Me by Philipp Keel
The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

Friday, January 9, 2015

Book Beginnings: Wondrous Beauty

Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading.

Wondrous Beauty: The Life and Adventures of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte by Carol Berkin

"She was a Baltimore legend, a curiosity, walking slowly down the streets of the city in the 1870s, her trademark red parasol high above her head to protect her from sun or rain or, in winter weather, draped carefully over one arm."

Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte was out to collect her rents. She tried to escape Baltimore her entire life, but never quite managed it.




Wednesday, January 7, 2015

“Waiting On” Wednesday: The Monopolists

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating. This week's pre-publication “can't-wait-to-read” selection is:

The Monopolists: Obsession, Fury, and the Scandal Behind the World's Favorite Board Game by Mary Pilon

Synopsis from Goodreads:
The Monopolists reveals the unknown story of how Monopoly came into existence, the reinvention of its history by Parker Brothers and multiple media outlets, the lost female originator of the game, and one man's lifelong obsession to tell the true story about the game's questionable origins.

Most think it was invented by an unemployed Pennsylvanian who sold his game to Parker Brothers during the Great Depression in 1935 and lived happily--and richly--ever after. That story, however, is not exactly true. Ralph Anspach, a professor fighting to sell his Anti-Monopoly board game decades later, unearthed the real story, which traces back to Abraham Lincoln, the Quakers, and a forgotten feminist named Lizzie Magie who invented her nearly identical Landlord's Game more than thirty years before Parker Brothers sold their version of Monopoly. Her game--underpinned by morals that were the exact opposite of what Monopoly represents today--was embraced by a constellation of left-wingers from the Progressive Era through the Great Depression, including members of Franklin Roosevelt's famed Brain Trust.

A fascinating social history of corporate greed that illuminates the cutthroat nature of American business over the last century, The Monopolists reads like the best detective fiction, told through Monopoly's real-life winners and losers.

Publishing February 17, 2015 by Bloomsbury USA.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Book review: Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce

If I was still a twenty-something, I might have found this book much more profound. As I watched reruns of Friends last weekend, I was reminded about how waitressing is a real career for some people at that age, and how sleeping around is much more of a thing, and being aimless. However, I just don't find those topics as interesting any more, and I do find them a little sad.

In Love Me Back, Marie is a waitress in a succession of improving restaurants in Dallas. She got pregnant in high school, and although she graduated and she and the father got married, her life seems to have hit a dead end at eighteen. She doesn't seem to have any aspirations beyond the next paycheck, and from the state of her sex life, she seems to have very low self-esteem (why that is, isn't addressed.) The book occasionally seems like it is Marie telling her daughter about her past but if so, wow, it's horribly inappropriate with demeaning sex acts, drugs, and other base acts that make Marie seem very sad and pathetic. She thinks she's in control and having fun, but it's very obvious to readers that she is neither. In the middle of the book there's an odd chapter told from the point of view of the pianist at the very fancy steak restaurant, but that's not repeated and seemed pointless. Marie intersperses chapters where she speaks directly to the daughter about how she met the daughter's father, and her and his relationship, with the chapters about her life now. She does start to shape up, stops doing drugs, stops sleeping around so much, but I still don't have the feeling by the end that she's on a much better path. Or that she knows what she wants in life.

I was excited to read a Rona Jaffe-award winner, but the book was too focused on the immediate, suckyness of life. And while I know that for a very young twenty-something, it's hard to look beyond the end of one's nose or past paying this month's rent, it still felt very cloistered and naval-gazing. I like young adults this age and I don't find the ones I've met to be so unambitious (even if they don't know what to do) and so self-destructive (even if they have made bad decisions and have bad stuff in their past.) I think it is in fact pretty accurate about this time of one's life, and how it would be for a very young mom with no skills, but I might just be too old for this book.

I checked this book out of the library.

Teaser Tuesdays: Love Me Back

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by Should Be Reading.

Grab your current read. Open to a random page. Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce p. 33

"I learned how to anticipate and consolidate, which is all waiting tables is. I learned how to use work to forget."

I know a lot of people do that--put in a ton of hours at work to forget their home life sucks. However, I think most people who do that are not waiters. That is more associated with lawyers or bankers, those kinds of high-powered jobs.

Monday, January 5, 2015

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Books completed last week:
An Empire on the Edge: How Britain Came to Fight America by Nick Bunker
Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce

Books I am currently reading/listening to:
All the Truth Is Out: The Week Politics Went Tabloid by Matt Bai

Up next:
Police by Jo Nesbø
A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka : A Memoir by Lev Golinkin
Some Luck by Jane Smiley

Friday, January 2, 2015

Book Beginnings: Love Me Back

Book Beginnings on Friday is a meme hosted by Gilion at Rose City Reader. Anyone can participate; just share the opening sentence of your current read, making sure that you include the title and author so others know what you're reading.

Love Me Back by Merritt Tierce

"I met all four of them at an off-site catering event for the opening of their new Minimally Invasive Spine, Back, and Neck Group."

The main character, Marie, is a waitress, and she sleeps with a lot of men, who she mostly meets at her work.


Thursday, January 1, 2015

2014: The Year in Review

2014: The Year in Review

In 2010 I got this meme, but alas I did not note where I found it. Still, it was a fun way to summarize the year, so I thought I'd do it again.

How many books read in 2014? 
82. I went two books past my GoodReads goal of 80!

How many fiction and non fiction? 
37 fiction and 45 nonfiction. I'm usually split pretty close to 50/50 but I always am surprised I didn't read more nonfiction because that is what I tend to gravitate towards. So not surprising this year! Book clubs certainly keep the fiction side of the equation up.

Male/Female author ratio? 
28 men and 57 women. Last year my list was also skewed this way although in the past this has also been 50/50. The difference this year is that I did make a conscious effort to read more women. I'm not sure how my year of reading would have looked different if I hadn't made that effort, but I'm glad I did as I thoroughly enjoyed it. (Both this and fic/NF are through Heathen)

Favorite book of 2014? The Martian by Andy Weir

Least favorite? 
Long Man by Amy Greene. That makes me sad. I really wanted to like this book, but it was a disappointment. The good news is that I read pretty much all books that I liked this year!

Any that you simply couldn't finish and why? 
And Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santmyer. I still may finish it. It wasn't quite interesting enough to justify its length (1433 pages!) but I made it about halfway through. I've certainly finished much worse books, it's just they were shorter. I spent three weeks on this to get just halfway. I know it's the favorite book of a lot of people and I was hoping it would really pull me in like it's done for so many others, but alas, it did not.

Oldest book read?  The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey (1951)
Newest?  The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore (Oct. 28, 2014)

Longest and shortest book titles? (not including subtitles)
Longest:  Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores (35)
Shortest:  Byrd and Wash (tie) (4)

Longest and shortest books?
Longest: The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro (1344 pages)
Shortest: The Subversive Copy Editor: Advice from Chicago (or, How to Negotiate Good Relationships with Your Writers, Your Colleagues, and Yourself) by Carol Fisher Saller (148 pages)

How many books from the library? 
Fifteen, a new record!

Any translated books? 
None. Man, that's two years in a row! Pretty pathetic. I should be sure to make an effort in this area next year.

Most read author of the year, and how many books by that author? 
Gillian Flynn - 2. I really mixed things up this year. But it's rare for me to ever read a bunch of books by the same author in a short time frame.

Any re-reads? 
None. This is also unusual for me, but this year I read a LOT of new books, which squeezed out rereads for the most part. I have reread a couple of Little House books, but I've reread them so many dozens of times that I don't even count them anymore (Little House on the Prairie, On the Banks of Plum Creek, and By the Shores of Silver Lake)

Favorite character of the year? 
Mad Hannah Mabbot, the female pirate captain from Cinnamon and Gunpowder by Eli Brown

Which countries did you go to through the page in your year of reading? 
England, Israel, Guatemala, France, Mars (not a country, but certainly not local!), Australia, China, Germany, Libya, and Chechnya

Which book wouldn’t you have read without someone’s specific recommendation? 
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro (thanks Mariah)
America's Women: Four Hundred Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines by Gail Collins (thanks Emily)
Blood Done Sign My Name: A True Story by Timothy B. Tyson (thanks Bill)
The Goats by Brock Cole (thanks Emily again!)
The Distance by Helen Giltrow (thanks Books on the Nightstand)

Which author was new to you in 2014 that you now want to read the entire works of? 
Jill Lepore and Joshilyn Jackson

Which books are you annoyed you didn’t read? 
Life Itself by Roger Ebert (saw the documentary!), Pedestrianism: When Watching People Walk Was America's Favorite Spectator Sport by Matthew Algeo, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty. These last two I even had checked out of the library and I was about to read them when I had to make a switch because of a work assignment.

Did you read any books you have always been meaning to read? 
The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro, and The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey

2013 TOP EIGHT Book Events in Carin’s Book Life - in no particular order:
8. Attempted to take a MOOC (massive open online class), my first one, on Laura Ingalls Wilder, but at the exact moment the class started, I became completely swamped and that didn't let up until too late. I will try again next year.
7. I was asked to be a speaker at the North Carolina's Writer's Network Fall Conference
6. I had four events (so far!) for my book and one of them was standing-room only (Thanks Hub City Bookshop!)
5. I went to Booktopia-Asheville!
4. My book was named one of the Best Indie Books of 2014 by Kirkus Reviews!
3. I am now officially president of the Women's National Book Association!
2. Beat the pants off my sales goal for 2014! (Seriously, beat it by nearly 50%.)
1. Published my book!