Monday, June 30, 2014

June - This Month in Reading

Well, June did not work out well for me and reading. Work was busy and I generally had other things going on that made it hard for me to find time to read. On the plus side, all of the books I did read in June were for challenges, and I am very close to being finished with many of my reading challenges, so that's good at least.

At the end of May, I wrote that I wanted to finish the Harlem Renaissance and Color-Coded Reading Challenges and read 2 books for the Language Freak Summer Challenge. Sadly, none of this actually happened, although I did read several books for the Color-Coded Reading Challenge and the first of three books for the Harlem Renaissance Challenge, so that was good. I wasn't able to work on the Language Freak Summer Challenge, which bums me out, but I am going to work on that in July. I was also hoping that I could wrap up all my library books in June but I got so behind I had to renew a few, so this will carry over for July too.

OK, so for July, I will be reading 7 books, which I have on a list to help keep my reading in line. I need to prioritize reading more in July overall. Wish me luck!

How is your reading so far this summer?

The Chocolate War - Robert Cormier

I feel like this book was always around in the bookstores and public library when I was a kid, but apparently I never read it - maybe because it's really aimed at boys. Not to say that as an adult I didn't enjoy it as a fast-paced story that gave me flashbacks to unpleasant school experiences (although not as unpleasant as some of the events in the book, thankfully).

Catch-22 - Joseph Heller

June got away from me, and took my reading with it. I'm disappointed in how little I managed to read, but I am happy that I am ending the month with a new favorite book. I find I lack the vocabulary necessary to describe this grimly comic and yet deadly serious classic novel. It reminded me a bit of Kurt Vonnegut, who has rapidly become another favorite. Apparently, there is a sequel, which was good news to me as I finished this book, as I was definitely left wanting more. This book in unsparing in its details but rewarding for the reader. Highly recommended.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Mule Bone - Zora Neale Hurston and Langston Hughes

This book is a sort of compendium that chronicles the history of a play, Mule Bone, that was written collaboratively by Hurston and Hughes - and then never produced, as the authors had a falling out that led to a lifelong feud. The book includes the most complete text of the play itself, as well as an introduction by George Houston Bass and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Hurston short story that inspired the play, correspondence concerning the play and the (forgive the pun) drama that surrounded it, and excerpts from Hughes' autobiographic account of the play, among other materials. It's a fascinating tale. I can't help thinking what a shame it is that two literary greats stopped collaborating and being friends. At least now we can read this play and the background and history and learn more about these talented writers.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Lights Over Emerald Creek - Shelley Davidow

Found this YA sci-fi/fantasy novel on NetGalley and it piqued my interest so I thought I'd give it a try. I don't read many sci-fi type books anymore, but this one is based on real phenomena, which was a cool twist, and very intriguing. The author has thoughtfully included lots of information so the reader can look into these cool things on his or her own (and I did!). This book reminded me a little of the Madeleine L'Engle books I enjoyed reading as a kid. The main character was appealing and I very much appreciated her love of animals. I think I would have loved this book if it had been around when I was a kid. A fast-paced, enjoyable read for all sci-fi fans.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Blue Asylum - Kathy Hepinstall

This book was another random find as I was searching the library catalog for books with "blue" in the title for the Color-Coded Reading Challenge. It was a fast read and I thought the shifting motivations of some of the characters was realistic. Of course the depiction of how easy it was to simply commit someone with whom you didn't agree, particularly a woman, in the mid/late 1800s, and the idea that some people had that advocating for women's rights was somehow a clear indication of insanity, is horrifying, but it's important to keep in mind that this wasn't really all that long ago, and that we as human beings have to be on constant watch against those who would strip other human beings of their rights.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

The Blackhouse - Peter May

This was a mystery/crime novel that unfolded through a well-done use of flashback to tell the overall story. The author has a gift for vivid description, such that even though the setting, part of the Outer Hebrides islands off the coast of Scotland, is wholly unfamiliar to me, I was able to picture it easily and vividly in my mind. Apparently this is the first in a trilogy with the same main character and setting, and I look forward to reading the next two books. I'd also happily read the author's other books.

As an aside, if you go to the author's web page, you can see video of the island, access maps and book information, hear audio of a native speaker pronouncing Gaelic names (very helpful for someone like me who is sadly ignorant of Gaelic!), and even download a free app with all this helpful info to have on hand as you read.