The Undertaker’s Daughter

Guess I should have waited a bit, and added one more to my year end total! I didn’t think I’d finish this by the end of the day, but I made it!

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The Undertaker’s Daughter will be published January 13and it’s a lovely memoir about a daughter of a Kentucky mortician in the 1960s-70s.

Kate Mayfield had a very close relationship with her father. As one of the youngest in her family, she was the first sibling to be raised strictly in the funeral home, and so she had a natural curiosity about the family business, as well as everything else around her. Her memoir tells the story of the small town she grew up in during the Civil Rights years, just south of the Ohio River.

While I enjoyed this book, whenever I read an ARC I always think about the reception it is going to get upon publishing. This is kind of a rocky time for a memoir from a white southern woman raised in the 60s to come out. While the racial issues are not quite as prominent in the story as in, say, The Help, they are definitely there–desegregation of the schools, interracial relationships, class differences. The movement is more a setting, part of the background of her story, and Kate is fighting against the racist beliefs that surround her. Still, I wonder if the release of the book will be hindered at all, because of the environment we are in currently. I hope not, but this has been a very tough year for a lot of people, unfortunately.

 

Here’s hoping for a better 2015. Happy New Year, everyone!

 

Lock In

When most of you hear the name “John Scalzi,” you probably think Redshirts. I haven’t read that one yet, but I have heard alllll about it from fellow nerds. His new book, Lock In, while still very much sci-fi, is a very big change from the spoofy Star Trek fanfiction genre. Instead, Scalzi has written a cyborg cop drama, and I absolutely loved it.

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Lock In is set in an America that has been ravished by a mega flu that infects the person’s nervous system. The Haden, as the victims (although they hate to be called victims) are called, is locked in to their body. Their brain is alive, but their body is essentially useless. So robots have been built to which their brains can be linked, and the Hadens can function in the world essentially as normal human beings would. It’s pretty sweet technology, really.

Scalzi’s book is set during a major civil rights march for these Hadens, as there is a big healthcare law being launched. That’s where the criminal part of the book comes in. I have to stop myself now before I give anything else away. The book is just so good I could talk and talk about it. Seriously, go read this one as soon as possible!

Bel Canto

Sometimes you read a book by an author you’ve never heard of, just by chance–you grab it off the shelf at a library because the cover is pretty, or it happens to be on an end cap so it catches your eye. And when you start reading you are immediately hooked on that author so completely that you must read everything they’ve ever written.

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That is what happened with Ann Patchett. I don’t remember exactly how I came across Bel Canto, but I know it was something serendipitous. It wasn’t a new book when I read it, it was just something I had randomly picked up. I hadn’t read any of Patchett’s other books, but since reading Bel Canto, I have read and purchased many. Not all…yet. Her prose is unbelievably beautiful, her stories so well thought out, her characters diverse and excruciatingly human.

Bel Canto is the story of a botched political kidnapping. What should have taken only a few hours becomes a months-long hostage situation. Enemies become friends as language barriers slowly break down and lives are shared.

This is a book that I can, and have, read over and over and over again, for all of the reasons I gave earlier. It always makes me wish I enjoyed opera, and sometimes I will listen to some of the pieces Patchett mentions…but I still prefer instruments to such high pitched voice. The way she describes Roxanne Coss though, the experience is lovely.

As I’ve said before with Patchett’s books, pick her up when you want something on the slower end. There is some action, some romance, some suspense, but it’s not bam bam bam in your face. Her writing is very well balanced, and so you keep turning pages and forget about everything else (I was almost late to yoga this morning!). Make this your next read after one of those hard hitting trilogies. you won’t be disappointed!

Teaser Tuesday 12/16/2014

 

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• 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 & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

 

“Far over the misty mountains cold

To dungeons deep and caverns old

We must away ere break of day

To seek the pale enchanted gold.”

–J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

 

Pardon this brief interruption of my regularly scheduled book reading. I could not resist the pull, with all the trailers and cosplay and everything else happening today. I am going to try and get through one more reading of this wonderful story before Husband and I go see the last movie tomorrow night. Can it be done? Oh, it must, it must!

 

A Dance with Dragons

Winter is coming…

…and goddammit Martin, HURRY UP AND FINISH YOUR BOOK ALREADY!!!!!

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A Dance with Dragons was just as much fun, and just as frustrating, as all the rest of the series. Except, now, there is no “rest of the story” at this point. I know more is coming, but I can’t just grab the next book off the shelf and holy cow what a cliff hanger. Multiple cliff hangers!!!!!!

The timeline here is a bit confusing, since it overlaps with A Feast for Crows. You see Samwell Tarly back with Jon at the wall, and it makes absolutely no sense…until you remember he hasn’t left yet! For the first half of the book, the chronology is the same as the previous book, it is just a different set of narrators. Then, the timeline slowly starts to align again, and by the end of the book, everything has converged and moved on.

Oh, and remember how troubled I was about Theon Greyjoy’s storyline? We see him again here, finally. And wow, I had no idea how much the show had elaborated on his torture. No WONDER I was so confused about him. On one hand, it does show more about how Theon became the damaged Reek, but geez guys. That’s a lot of torture to add, that isn’t actually written into a pretty heavy book. In the book, everyone just assumes he’s dead. And now they’ve already shown the Asha card–she’s already tried to go in and rescue him once and failed. How are they going to get him out the second time?

I am really looking forward to seeing how Maisie Williams does Arya’s time in the Temple of the Many Faced God. That’s going to be a really interesting part to play!

And, of course, I have a lot of thoughts…mostly screaming…about the ending. But, I’ve given away a lot of spoilers already, so I better keep my mouth shut.

 

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH HURRY UP GEORGE RR MARTIN!!! WINTER IS COMING!!!

 

Daily Bookish Challenges | Day Nine

If you could share and recommend only ONE book that you’ve read so far in 2014, which one would it be?

 

*HYPERVENTILATES*

I can only recommend ONE?! Do you know how hard that is? I have read SO many amazing books this year. Once I raised the bar and started blogging and reading harder, reading better, my whole reading world just took off.

I have learned so much this year about myself, about other people, about the world around me.

So you know what, let’s start at the beginning. What book changed all that for me?

The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin

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It was because of that book that I started this blog. And once I started blogging, I couldn’t stop. I latched on to more and more challenges, I looked for harder and more interesting books to read. I crave more and different knowledge. While I still read for entertainment, I have different goals now. And I absolutely love sharing them with you.

Everyone will get something different out of Rubin’s book, but it completely changed my attitude and life, and I think it will change yours too.

Daily Bookish Challenges | Day Seven

What are your top five favourite picture books?

I don’t remember very many picture books, to be honest, so this took some serious thinking. I remember being read to, and I remember going to the library, but most of the books I remember from my childhood start in the chapter book section:  American Girls, Babysitter’s Club, Boxcar Children. I know there were some picture books at some point, but I started reading on my own really early, so I didn’t hang on to most of them for long.

Here are the ones I do remember:

  1. Barenstain Bears
  2. Paddington
  3. Little Bear (I must have had a thing for bears!)
  4. Babar the Elephant
  5. I Love You Forever

There’s also some vague ones that I can remember the characters, but I don’t know their titles–something about Mrs. Rude Girl, those multi colored shapes that taught a lesson–someone has to remember what I’m talking about. There was also one about too many cooks in the kitchen, and an old grandmother making soup. It had crudely drawn people with really big noses and scraggly hair. Awesome description, I know.

And then, of course, I was a huge fan of fairy tales and fables–I still am.

 

It’s probably good I’m not a parent. I’d be reading the poor kid Game of Thrones and Dorian Gray!

Backpacks and Brastraps

I knew I wouldn’t be able to wait very long before reading the next book in Savannah Grace’s saga. I was really looking forward to experiencing the next leg of her family’s trip, and I wasn’t disappointed!

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Backpacks and Brastraps follows the family as they take a short, and slightly scary, stint up into Russia, through a few Central European countries and into Western China, Tibet, before finally arriving in Nepal in time for trekking season.

Savannah’s writing is really taking off in this second book. I could tell that she’s becoming more and more comfortable in her own skin as she’s out in the world, and she’s discovering more about herself. She’s not nearly as much the whiny teenager as she was in I Grew My Boobs in China, although there still is a bit of that, she is settling down and opening her eyes. I was pretty amused when a friend from home joins them for the trek in Nepal and Savannah almost rolls her eyes at her inexperience.

Overall, though, I love these stories and I can’t wait for the third book, which, sigh, isn’t due out until August 2016! I’ll have to mark my calendar for that one.

Daily Bookish Challenges | Day Five

If you liked this… You should try this…

People ask me all the time for book recommendations, and since my tastes are so varied, I usually can give them something. I tend to read whatever I can get my hands on, and that is EVERYTHING.

Here are a few recommendations based on popular books:

If you like…

Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings, you should try The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss

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The DaVinci Code, you should try The Last Templar by Raymond Khoury

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Gone with the Wind, you should try The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough

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The Giver, you should try Breeder by KB Hoyle

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WWW Wednesday 12/10/2014

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What are you currently reading?

Bridge of Sighs by Richard Russo

 

What did you just finish reading?

Breeder by KB Hoyle

The Suicide Index by Joan Wickersham

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

 

What do you think you’ll read next?

Before I Go by Colleen Oakley

Backpacks and Brastraps by Savannah Grace

A Dance with Dragons by George RR Martin

I am also overdue to read The Iliad, but I am saving that until after the readathon. I’ll be hitting that up as soon as this week is over, so we’ll see how many books I get though! I keep putting it off, and I need to get to it!