Tuesday, July 17, 2012

MEME: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

It's still beautiful here on PEI - a wonderful summer, if you don't need the rain to water anything. It's getting a little dry now, with fire bans, and even talk of conserving water for city residents. That is completely unheard of around here - not watering your lawn or washing the car? However, the weather is allowing us to enjoy many softball and soccer games and we were so busy in June that we didn't even get a vegetable garden planted, so we aren't affected by the conservation request. I have a few herb planters on the deck, enough  to satisfy a tiny green thumb.

I've actually read a few books not set there, but in my new book, I'm still in Paris! Now it is the 1920s and I'm part of that lost generation, those artists who all palled around, as seen in the Woody Allen movie Midnight in Paris. Sad that the movie is my reference to that crowd, but what can I say? (The Paris Wife, by Paula McCain)

Where is reading taking you today? Leave a comment, or write a post. Join the fun!

BOOK: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, 351 pages

Orange Prize Shortlist 2012

Engrossing read focusing on scientific research into fertility drugs in the Amazon. It's been described as a retelling of Heart of Darkness as Dr Marina Singh is sent to the Amazon in search of her former mentor, Dr Swenson, after Marina's colleague died on his visit. Past relationships and a terrible person in Swenson make the relationships as tenuous as the jungle. Patchett sets the location so well; the jungle is wrapping around you as you read. My one course in anthropology came back to me during the encounters with the indigenous tribes.

Overall, it was a good read, but Patchett kept me a little removed from the characters. I cheered for Marina as she comes to grips with her life, and grows up a bit. Swenson infuriated me, as her narcissistic self controlled so many people, and with  her ability to twist everything to her selfish point of view. A few things happened at the end that were strange or abrupt, but I did like the book ultimately.

Both of Patchett's books that I've read (this and Bel Canto) had a similar distance from characters. I liked the books, but they are never the type that make me thrust upon others, or make me rave.  If you are looking for another book like this to read, Intuition by Allegra Goodman is also an Orange Prize nominee, and looks into scientific research.

Monday, July 16, 2012

BOOK: The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker, 269 pages

Random Reading Challenge: Debut Authors

Of all the calamities that we imagine happening to the earth (global warming, extinct animals, over-population) the worst one will be the one we aren't expecting. Karen Thompson Walker imagines that the Earth will slow in its rotation. Days, and nights, become longer, with repercussions to all living things on Earth.

What I liked about the story was that this catastrophe on Earth was simply the backdrop, the main story was a coming of age remembrance of a twelve year old girl, Julia, in California. She is looking back as a young woman, on this tumultuous time in her life. Navigating the usual almost-teenage time of friends changing, figuring out who your parents really are, and finding your place in the world. The challenges she faces - her grandfather's strange reaction to the changing world, a new possible boyfriend, best friends that outgrow you, are all the same, she just had the added problem of longer days and nights. She becomes aware of political effects - the real timers versus the clock timers.

Unfortunately, taking this focus meant that the Earth slowing effect isn't dealt with very much. It just became the new reality for Julia, and she mentions some of the science (gravity is slightly stronger for example) but mostly how it affects her. Because she led a relatively privileged life - her father is a doctor, less weather fluctuations in California to begin with, the effects on her were still mostly teenage problems. Imagine how this Earth slowing would have affected a poor child in Canada, where weather is already more extreme, and who wouldn't be able to buy a greenhouse to grow their own food? But, that is a different book, and Walker did a great job of the book she wrote, telling the story of Julia the way she wanted to.

also reviewed: rhapsody in books weblog; lindsay's mom at reeder reads;

I read this book for the Random Reader Challenge: Debut Authors. Check out the link to see what books you can read for this challenge.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

MEME: It's Tuesday, Where Are You?

Interesting, as I resurrect Where Are You? for the summer, there is no place I'd rather be than Prince Edward Island. We are having a stretch of weather that is exactly what I picture when I imagine the summer - sunny, warm, slight breeze. Watching soccer or softball outside with just a few bugs to contend with in the evening has been lovely.

In reading, I am still in Paris, but now I am searching for my nephew. (Foreign Bodies, by Cynthia Ozick)

Where is reading taking you today? Leave a comment or write a post. Enjoy!

Monday, July 9, 2012

BOOK: French Lesson by Ellen Sussman

French Lessons by Ellen Sussman, 236 pages

Paris in July

It's Paris in July, and since I am not there, I had to read a book. I was looking for a light read after my last two books, Late Nights on Air and State of Wonder. Both were good, but heavy. French Lessons, a book I won last year from carrie at nomadreader after last years Paris in July, was the perfect palate cleanser.

I really liked the structure of the book. Three French tutors who are hired out by their school to (usually) Americans to practice their French, meet in the morning of one particular day. There are some liasons amongst the two men and one woman, and these young twenty-somethings are looking for love. Then each tutor meets with their opposite sex client and they spend the day. Each of them are struggling with love - a teacher whose married boyfriend has recently died, a neglected wife who has moved with young children and her husband to Paris, and the husband of a big movie star. The tutors each get entangled in some way, and all realize what they want from love. Each day ends at the same scene where the movie star is filming a scene.

Nothing too deep in this book, but a great sense of place - including the walking maps of each tutor. Wonderful start to Paris in July.

also reviewed: carrie at nomadreader;

Thursday, July 5, 2012

CHALLENGE: Random Reader Challenge: Debut Novels

The next edition of the Random Reader Challenge focuses on Debut Novels for July and August. I missed the last challenge (John Irving novels) but there are a couple on this list I'd like to read. If this looks interesting, check out the blog page.  You don't need to sign up, just leave a link with your review. I think prizes are only available to Canadians though, but anyone can participate.

Buy, borrow, download (but don’t steal!) and read any ONE of the following books (yes, audiobooks count too!):
Magnified World by Grace O’Connell
A Cold Night for Alligators by Nick Crowe
Touch by Alexi Zentner
Every Time We Say Goodbye by Jamie Zeppa
Shelter by Frances Greenslade (Check out the video trailer!)
Care of Wooden Floors by Will Wiles
Every Day, Every Hour by Natasa Dragnic
The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker (Check out the video trailer!)

Touch and The Age of Miracles are the two that I'd most like to read, but I'll have to check out some of the other debut titles.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

MEME: It's Tuesday, Where are You?

Once upon a time, I hosted this meme every Tuesday. Then I stopped, but I'm going to try it for the summer. The idea is just a way to share what you are reading, by setting. You can answer in the comments, you can make your own post on your blog, what ever you like!

I am in Yellowknife, at a radio station that somewhat reminds me of WKRP (with God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly). I haven't been here in Yellowknife long or often, but what little experience I have says that there will be some interesting characters. People who move North tend to be, well, unique. (Is this true John Mutford?) (Late Nights on Air, Elizabeth Hay)

Where is reading taking you this summer day? Write a post, leave a comment.

Monday, July 2, 2012

CHALLENGE: Orange July 2012

It's that time of year, time to read some Orange Prize nominated books. The list for this years' prize has been one that has intrigued me the most, as already this year, I've read 7 books from the longlist, including the winner, and have plans to read at least two more. Check out the host site to sign up, and visit Jill often, as she's got a book give away every day! There is also the Facebook page, and a group at Librarything. Lots of places to talk about the Orangey goodness.

Some books I'd like to read:
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, (2012 SL) 
Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (2012 LL)
There but for the by Ali Smith (2012 LL)
Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick (2012 LL)

Larry's Party by Carol Shields (1998 winner)
Small Island by Andrea Levy (2004 winner)
plus several more I have here if I get ambitious

Books I Read July 2012
1. State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
2. Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick
3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
4. There But For The by Ali Smith
5. Larry's Party by Carol Shields

Sunday, July 1, 2012

CHALLENGE: The Canadian Book Challenge 6

John Mutford at the Book Mine Set is hosting once again (6 times!) the Canadian Book Challenge. All you need to do is read 13 Canadian books in a year, running from Canada Day July 1st. Last year I read 24 books, including 4 by Carol Shields and 2 by Louise Penny and Helen Humphrys.

Books leftover from my list last year:
  Doing Dangerously Well by Carole Enahoro
  Rockbound by Frank Parker Day
  Larry's Party by Carol Shields (Orange Prize winner 1998)
  Microserfs by Douglas Coupland
  Diamond Dreams by Stephen Brunt
  Getting Over Edgar by Joan Barfoot
  The Calling by Inger Ash Wolfe

Books I've bought home or noticed since the last challenge:
 Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay
 The Age of Longing by Richard B Wright
 October by Richard B Wright
 Bachelor's Brothers Bed and Breakfast by Bill Richardson (reread)
 The Republic of Love by Carol Shields
 Dressing Up for the Carnival by Carol Shields
 Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro
 The Fire-Dwellers by Margaret Laurence
 Beatrice and Virgil by Yann Martel
 In the Skin of the Lion by Michael Ondaatje
 the next Louise Penny mystery

Books I read during challenge: 
1. Late Nights on Air - Elizabeth Hay
2. Larry's Party - Carol Shields
3. October - Richard B Wright
4. Touch - Alexi Zentner
5. The Film Club - David Gilmour
6. Our Daily Bread - Lauren B Davis
7. The Calling - Inger Ash Wolfe
8. The Weed that Strings the Hangman's Bag - Alan Bradley
9. The Beautiful Mystery - Louise Penny
10. Ru - Kim Thuy
12. 1982 - Jian Ghomeshi
13. A Red Herring Without Mustard - Alan Bradley
14. I Am Half-Sick of Shadows - Alan Bradley
15. Whirl Away - Russel Wagnersky
16. Dressing Up for the Carnival - Carol Shields
17. Astray - Emma Donoghue
18. Speaking From Among the Bones - Alan Bradley
19. The Firebird - Susanna Kearsley