Sunday, August 31, 2014

Jenny's Books Added August 2014

The Future for Curious People by Gregory Sherl
Soulless by Gail Carriger (Parasol Protectorate #1)
Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon
Babel-17 / Empire Star by Samuel Delany
American Pastoral by Phillip Roth
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey


The Future for Curious People by Gregory Sherl
I came across this book mentioned in Publishers Weekly, and the description was enough to send me begging for a review copy in audio.  It comes out officially September 2.  I will just now get to it, since I've been swamped listening to Hillary Clinton's most recent book.  All I remember is something vague about a librarian character. And time travel. And cheese.

Soulless by Gail Carriger (Parasol Protectorate #1)
I listened to this book a while back, but decided to choose it for my League of Extraordinary Dorks book club.  I had brought the audiobook with me on my trip to Oregon but didn't end up with a lot of listening time.  Found the book in a used bookstore for $3 and decided it made sense to have on hand.  The book club was fun, full of people dressed as werewolves and in full Victorian garb with parasols.   Some went on to read future books in the series, and I have book #2 on the way!

Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon
This was the selection for the same book club, for July, so I missed that conversation.  I still wanted to read it, as it is outside my usual genres - from what I understand it is ahistorical detective novel set in Venice.  It is the first in a series as well.  The person who picked it is a great music lover, so I shouldn't be surprised that the central story is " a world-renowned conductor who died painfully from cyanide poisoning during an intermission at La Fenice"

Babel-17 / Empire Star by Samuel Delany
In my reading goals for 2014, I said I wanted to read more Delany.  I've been looking for him in every used bookstore, and while I haven't yet found a good used copy of the mighty tome I want to read most (Dhalgren), I did find a copy of Babel-17.   I feel like this novella (novel?) has come up in conversations on SFF Audio on multiple occasions, one of those books I felt like I needed to read to fill in all the holes.  Well now I can.

American Pastoral by Philip Roth
Another author on my reading goals for 2014 is Philip Roth.  I was going to just read the books I had on hand, but when I posted a review for Deception, one of my reading friends got upset that I was reading novels that weren't as representative of his greatness.  He said this was one of the best, so yesterday when I found a used copy of it at a obscure used book store, I decided to go ahead and purchase it for my shelf.  It looks to be book #1 of a trilogy, but I'm not sure this one can't be understood and appreciated on its own.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
This was one of the books I read as a child, before I knew who Kesey was or had read Kerouac or Tom Wolfe.  Now that I know a lot more, I'd like to go back and re-read it. But that's not why I got this book.  This is one of the Penguin Classics Editions with the pretty covers, and I'm a sucker.  

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Reading Envy 010: Death and Mayhem

In this episode, our first in double digits, Scott hits the road with his daughter Alex. Together with her cousin Carissa, they discuss their favorite YA books and other related topics.

Scott got to travel down memory lane with these two picks:

Dolphin Island by Arthur C. Clarke
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Carissa brought two books to discuss:
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea (Between #1) by April Genevieve Tucholke
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Alex had some favorites too:

Mr. Monster
(John Cleaver #2) by Dan Wells
The 5th Wave (The Fifth Wave #1) by Rick Yancey

The conversation also mentioned these titles:
I Am Not a Serial Killer (John Cleaver #1) by Dan Wells
I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Paper Towns by John Green
An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy Ep. 10

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Speed Dating Round Four Wrap Up

In my latest round of books selected for speed-dating, I had to commit to being merciless. This is the blink, the first response, the gut reaction. If by page 50 I wasn't sold, out it goes.

I learned a few things for next time. If I know for sure I'm already going to read the book (Adler and Theroux), putting it in a speed dating pile is useless. Next time I'll only pick books I'm uncertain about.

A lot of books got the axe this time around!

Books I finished right away:

Deception by Philip Roth

Not that it was that great, just easy to read, almost all conversations between lovers. I got reprimanded by a friend who says this is not the era of Roth to start with. Can you really read the wrong book? Probably not. I liked it enough to try something else by him.

Books I will continue reading:

Wild Thorns by Sahar Khalifeh
This will go quickly and there are so few books set in the Palestinian areas bordering Israel, and this one is a long-lost son coming home to the West Bank, with the intent of working against the government.

Speedboat by Renata Adler

Enjoying although I'm not quite sure what it's about exactly.

Ghost Train to the Eastern Star by Paul Theroux

Shouldn't have speed-dated it, of course I want to read it. His writing improved noticeably in 30 years.

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

I can't say I'm really enjoying this, but it reads quickly and I'm already at 67 or so. Of course, so far all that has really happened is a butler talking about what makes a good butler. This won the Booker Prize in 1989, so I'll finish it on principle. Not quite as engaging as Never Let Me Go.

Abandoned, with the reasons, R.I.P.

Hammered (Jenny Casey #1) by Elizabeth Bear
Meh to space mercenaries. Just not into it.

The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death by Charlie Huston
Just a little too gross for me.

Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart
Funny but that can only go so far.

The Fish Can Sing by Halldór Laxness

Starting to think if you've read one Laxness, you've read it all.

Light by M. John Harrison
Meh to space mercenaries.

Virtual Light by William Gibson
I love some Gibson but this one was too much about info-dump and I couldn't get into it. It allowed me to dump two books from my to-read shelf, since I had the second book in the trilogy on hand.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Jenny's Library Books Mid-August Edition

The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt
I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum
The Lady in Gold by Anne-Marie O'Connor
Orfeo by Richard Powers
History of the Rain by Niall Williams

This month is dominated by the Man Booker Prize longlist.  Half the books won't be available in the USA until after the shortlist is announced, but I wanted to read some of the longlist.  That explains the Hustvedt, the Powers, and the Williams.

The Lady in Gold is coming up for my International Club of the Upstate Bookclub in September, and the Maum was just for me.  I zipped through the Maum last weekend, and hope to at least start some of the Booker longlisted books this weekend.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Reading Envy 009: Pirates and Noonday Demons

We are back! Starting with Episode 009, we will be posting a podcast every two weeks, on every other Tuesday.  Some will follow the book-based format while some might veer off onto other bookish topics.  We welcome your feedback as we continue to find our groove.

On Episode 009, Jenny brought three books to discuss: 

The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression by Andrew Solomon
Varieties of Disturbance: Stories by Lydia Davis
Crux by Ramez Naam

Scott brought two books to talk about:

On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers
Hamlet's BlackBerry by William Powers

We also mentioned:
Declare by Tim Powers
Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr
The Atlantic: Is Google Making Us Stupid? by Nicholas Carr

Download or listen via this link: Reading Envy 009: Pirates and Noonday Demons

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Or subscribe via iTunes by clicking: Subscribe

Friday, August 8, 2014

Speed Dating Round Four

I haven't done a round of speed-dating my books since November 2013.  I decided it was time.  Instead of picking books from my online to-read list (which I would have to gather), I limited myself to books on my shelves.

Speed-dating books is where you read the first 50 pages to decide if you still think you want to read them.  Some books might need more patience than that, but most of the time gut reactions hold true.

The books of round four:

Hammered (Jenny Casey #1) by Elizabeth Bear
One of those authors I hear about and haven't read, so I'll give it a try.  I'm not sure I'll be able to read it because it's a mass market paperback. My brain hates those.
I really enjoyed Huston's book "Sleepless" but this book is along a different style, more true to his other series.  Not sure it will be my thing!
Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart
Loved Super Sad True Love Story but this is an earlier book. Will it be as charming?
Wild Thorns by Sahar Khalifeh
One of the books I had collected for my Around the World reading, the only book I have set in Palestine.  I felt like reading it might be timely.

Speedboat by Renata Adler
I have no idea what this book is about, but one of the friends whose reading opinions I rely on ordered me to buy it.  So I did.  This is a reprint through NYRB.
This was in my original speed-dating list, but I traded it out for The Great Railway Bazaar. This book is the same trip 30 years later, so it made sense to start with the other. But since this includes Turkey and I'm still reading and studying Turkish, why not!?
The Fish Can Sing by Halldór Laxness
I missed when my World Literature group in GoodReads read this, and want to at least try it.  I've already read a few books by Laxness, but he seems to be the Icelandic author of the last fifty years.
The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
This book actually is on the first page of my to-read list.  It's been a while, so I should try it.  I've read Never Let Me Go by the same author.
Light by M. John Harrison
This author is on my 2014 Reading Goals, but so far I've only read a short story by him, "Cave & Julia."  
Virtual Light by William Gibson
I own two of the three books in this trilogy, and I need to find out if I want to read them or not.  I've read a lot of Gibson, and love the Sprawl trilogy more than almost anything in science fiction, but I haven't loved his newer stuff as much.  Where will this fall?
Deception by Philip Roth
Another one from my 2014 Reading Goals.  Philip Roth has a large body of work, and I have three of the books at home.  I should at least figure out if I want to keep reading him!

Any thoughts on these books to share with me?  I'll report back when I've tried them all out! 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Jenny's Books Added in July 2014

Because of my three weeks in Oregon, I did not check out any books from the library in the month of July.  Well, to be honest, I visited my old hometown library with my Mom and she checked out The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry for me, but *I* didn't check it out. So there was not a mid-month library books post this time around.

Before I left for Oregon, I had a birthday.  I often get books for my birthday, but most often they are cooking and baking related.  In case you didn't know of my alternate baking persona, she can be found over on   That interest will explain most of the books on this pile.  The songwriting one is by the man I took a MOOC from through Berklee College of Music, and the picture book about public libraries is gorgeous.  I'll probably bring it to my office at an academic library.

While I was in Oregon, I did make it to a few bookstores.  Okay, I went to Powell's four times - twice downtown, once at the mall formerly known as the Beaverton Mall, and once in the airport.  I also went with my Mom to two used bookstores that she has credits at.  Love love love Powell's, but had no room in my luggage for a huge buying spree. I bought only one book there - a book of poetry in Turkish.  They had three shelves of books in Turkish!

The Margaret Atwood and Wiley Cash books come from the bookstores my Mom had credit at - the Atwood I'd never heard of and the Cash was in great condition so I couldn't help it.  The Hillary Rodham  Clinton audiobook came in the mail while I was away, a review copy from the publisher.  I'm two discs in. Hillary is going to spend quite a few work commutes with me (since they are only three miles, ha!)

Before I left for my trip, I downloaded two more audiobooks.  I also got a few review copies digitally before it turned to August, so I'll list those here.

Authority (Southern Reach Trilogy #2) by Jeff Vandermeer, read by Bronson Pinchot
I've already listened to this one! I listened to it while I was reading the paperback, because Bronson Pinchot is a great reader and then I could more easily take the book with me. 

Prototype by M.D. Waters
I had read Archetype, the first in this series, and enjoyed it. About clones.

A Spy Among Friends by Ben Macintyre, read by John Lee
I'm always on the hunt for spy books and John Lee is usually a great narrator.

The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
Not too thrilled about this one, but it's for one of my bookclubs, the one that meets in person, and I like it when people read books I pick that they aren't thrilled with.  I tried listening to it on the plane and had a hard time focusing, and picked it up again one night when coyotes woke me up.