Sunday, February 18, 2018

The Master Butcher's Singing Club - Louise Erdrich

This author is someone I've been wanting to read for a while, so I was happy to get this book from the Library Sales shelves a while back. I liked this book, but I wish I had liked it a little more. On the one hand, the time period in which it's set, the actual setting, and the characters were all very appealing to me and I liked them a lot. On the other hand, I feel like the story meandered around a bit for my tastes, there's a couple love stories that are a little random and not set up as much as maybe they could have been, and the titular singing club isn't featured in the book as much as it maybe could have been. But all that said, I did like the book and it kept me reading. This author has some other books that look really good, so I hope to clear my TBR pile and get to them sooner rather than later. All in all, recommended.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Buying on Time - Antanas Sileika

This book encapsulates my love for the Library Sales shelves - you can run across some really interesting books that you might otherwise have never heard of. Readers, I LOVED this book. It's a series of short stories, but they are all about the same characters, so it's the best of all possible worlds for short stories as far as I am concerned - I get to spend a lot of time with characters and situations that I really enjoy, without the constraints of a novel-length plot, etc. Everything about this book was awesome - the beautiful, clear writing; the fully developed characters; the time period. With a bonus of also being a book about the immigration experience. I cannot wait to read this author's other works, so I really need to clear up my TBR pile ASAP. Highly Recommended.

I am going to claim this book in the "red" category of the Color-Coded Reading Challenge as the cover is mostly red, as shown below. I couldn't get a good image of the entire cover and I didn't want to break the spine of my copy, but check out the neat cover design.

Friday, February 2, 2018

The Lowland - Jhumpa Lahiri

Readers, I have mixed feelings about this book. To be honest, it was relentlessly joyless and sometimes even brutal. I also feel like the same story could easily have been told in half the page count and the book would have lost nothing but some repetitive language. The setting(s) were interesting; I enjoyed learning more about India's past and politics, and I like reading about immigration experiences, as I often wonder what it would be like to move to a foreign country and adapt and etc. But all in all, maybe I just wasn't in the mood for this book.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

January - This Month in Reading

Well, I managed only 4 books in January, but they mostly counted for challenges so I'm happy with that. Of course, at this rate I will only read 50 or so books in 2018, so I am hoping to do better in February. With that in mind, I will say I'd like to read 6 books, and have them all be for challenges. Totally doable.

How did your 2018 reading start off?

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Travels with Charley: In Search of America - John Steinbeck

So I still love Steinbeck, and I enjoyed this book for what is was, but on the other hand it didn't knock my socks off or anything. It's ostensibly the author's "search for an authentic America" but it is more about his random encounters while traveling around "incognito" (he doesn't tell people who he is, etc.) Maybe it's that subtitle that bothers me; if it wasn't there I wouldn't expect him to describe, you know, America, as opposed to his custom-built camper and his dog - I would have just enjoyed the story on that level if I hadn't been looking for some kind of analysis.

To be fair, the author does bemoan what we nowadays call the "mallification of America" - even back in 1960 regional differences were starting to get wiped out in favor of some kind of uniform cookie-cutter same-chain-stores-in-every-town culture like the one we have today. There is also some social commentary on racism, particularly as it relates to the desegregation of the south that was actively taking place in the early 60s. This seemed very Steinbeckian but it wasn't very in character with the rest of the book; it seemed sort of tacked on, like he wrote a book about his travel misadventures and then decided he had to make it socially relevant. In fact, there is one character that he describes interacting with that I don't think existed; I think this character was a work of fiction Steinbeck added to help him make a point. I don't begrudge him that but it all just seemed like it should have, or could have, been part of a different book.

All in all I guess I would say that there were parts of this book that made me laugh, and I didn't dislike it, but it isn't my favorite book by him at all.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Case of the Gilded Fly - Edmund Crispin

Yet another Library Sale shelves find, this author was entirely new to me, and I like him! This was a classic whodunnit, with multiple suspects and multiple motives for murder. The book kept me guessing and I can honestly say I had no idea of who actually dunnit until the end. I will say that although this is supposed to be a "Gervase Fen mystery" I am not sure that character was in the story as much as I would have expected from that detail being printed on the front cover, and in fact Mr. Fen is sort of an irritating detective which I suppose is often par for the course in these books. On the other hand, he's also a literary critic, so at times the book gets a little "meta" which is cool. All in all this was an enjoyable murder mystery and I would definitely read the rest of this series if I could finish off my TBR pile. Recommended.

I am going to claim this book for the "yellow" category for the Color-Coded Reading Challenge, as it not only has the word "gilded" in the title, the cover (apparently this is the UK edition) is done in shades of yellow and gold, as shown below.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Night Flight - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

This was one of my lucky Library Sale finds - a neat vintage copy of this classic book. This book is deceptively simple and yet it is full of tension and feeling under the surface. It tells the story of a single evening but it's really just a microcosm of life in general. I know this isn't making much sense but I really enjoyed this book. It was enthralling and I experienced it very emotionally. I felt a real connection between the author and the subject matter/story, and my experience of it. Recommended.

I am going to claim this book for the "book with a word that implies color" category of the Color-Coded Reading Challenge - I hope that works. To me, the colors on the plane look like a rainbow, so if we can use the cover for this category I think it fits.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Suicide Motor Club - Christopher Buehlman

Wanted to start my 2018 reading off with a bang, and I couldn't have done any better than the latest novel by one of my favorite authors. This book is really Buehlman at his best. The writing is incredibly cinematic; this would make a fantastic movie. The characters were well done and not one-dimensional. All in all another fantastic book that was a wonderful holiday gift. Recommended.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge 2018

Dollycas over at the Escape with Dollycas blog is hosting this cool challenge again, and I decided that I could manage this in 2018. The plan is to mainly use my TBR pile, with maybe a few library books here and there to get those pesky letters like Q and X taken care of. You can get all the details and sign up here. I love to sort and categorize books, so this is a fun thing to do with my reading. Suggestions for books that begin with specific letters are most welcome!

B - Buying on Time - Antanas Sileika
C - The Case of the Gilded Fly - Edmund Crispin
L - The Lowland - Jhumpa Lahiri
M - The Master Butchers Singing Club - Louise Erdrich
N - Night Flight - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
S - The Suicide Motor Club - Christopher Buehlman
T - Travels with Charley - John Steinbeck

Monday, January 1, 2018

2018 Reading Challenges

This is just a post listing my reading challenges so I don't accidentally forget one, and so I can easily link my reviews. I have cut back on challenges in general and I am trying to only do them if I can use my TBR pile to fulfill the requirements, rather than relying on the library.

Links in this post go to my challenge posts, where there are details about how to sign up, the rules, etc. I will add challenges if I sign up for more - and I would love to hear about any cool challenges that aren't listed here that I might be interested in!

Back to the Classics Challenge

Mount TBR Challenge

Color Coded Challenge

TBR Pile Challenge

Planet Earth Challenge