Posted in Booklists

Marie’s Vacation Reading List

My yearly vacation is coming up next week.  You know what that means!

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Just sub “books” for “tv.”  (eh, who am I kidding, however great the books, the fifth season of Deep Space Nine isn’t going to watch itself)

This year is a stay-cation, where I intend to read books, lounge around, and take full advantage of any beautiful weather that might come my way for trips to lakes and beaches.

Here are the books I’ll be toting along:

The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandria by Helen Rappaport.  This is for my book club, and it’s an affecting read.  There’s such a melancholy cast to this examination of the Romanov sisters, because it’s impossible to forget how their lives ended.  But still, it’s a fascinating glimpse into the family.  I’m about half-way through it right now.

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood.  This is a novel about a girl whose parents are drug dealers, and her deepest connection is to her older brother.  I’ve been meaning to read this for ages!

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero.  A novel all about a crack team of kid detectives who grow up and have lots of issues.  They have to go back and uncover exactly what happened the night they solved their last case.  It looks fun and spooky and meta, and I’m looking forward to it.

The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko by Scott Stambach.  This is a novel about a boy named Ivan, who’s spent his whole life in long-term care in Belarus.  He falls in love with a new patient at the hospital.  It sounds like it should be strange and melancholy, and maybe hopeful, which is always a good mix.

See you when I get back!

–Marie

 

 

Posted in Booklists, Reading Challenges

TBR Challenge 2017 Update #5

After the last update, I’ve decided I’ll spare you all the duds from my list and just share the books I like!  This will help with tallying how many books I actually manage to *read* off of my TBR list, and not just sample.  Also, it will keep the atmosphere here at the Readers’ Corner a bit more chipper, I think!

For this, the fifth update, I realized I’ve been doing that thing.  That thing where I have already started books and then forgot about them.  I picked up a couple during this round and quickly realized I’d begun them before.  Some I kept, some I did not.

Here are the books I read!  For-real read, all the way through!  Or nearly there, in the case of the last one.

The Women of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor.  A tightly focused novel in seven stories, this book tells the story of both a neighborhood and different black women who live there.  I enjoyed reading about these people, and Naylor’s style is simple but beautiful–there are some amazing descriptive passages here.

20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill.  I’m combining this challenge with Horror Month prep!  I loved this collection of short stories, and it is most definitely part of this year’s scary book installment!

Dearie: The Remarkable Life of Julia Child by Bob Spitz.  Oh yeah, my mid-century cooking and food phase!  Child was cool and is fun to read about.  I enjoyed this biography very much!

Somebody With a Little Hammer by Mary Gaitskill.  A collection of essays, including a lot of book reviews.  Gaitskill’s writing is elegant, and she’s deeply intelligent.  I especially enjoyed the title piece, which is about Chekhov’s short story Gooseberries.  The one about Bleak House is also great, as is the piece about the movie Secretary (you can tell I gravitated toward the book and movie reviews!).

The Song of the Dodo by David Quammen.  I’ve had this on my list ever since I read his collection The Boilerplate Rhino.  I finally suggested it for my nonfiction book club.  The book is all about island biogeography (namely, the study of distribution of species).  There’s historical background, contemporary science, and a broader message about how ecosystems are decaying and species are disappearing all over the world due to human activity.

There!  I have 795 titles on my TBR list now.  I’m not terribly optimistic about the next set–looking forward, I see lots of nonfiction.  However, there’s also Laura Moriarty’s The Chaperone (about Louise Brooks, and soon to be a major motion picture!).  A couple of new titles that I’ve had on the list since I first heard about them are also coming out soon, so those will count!

–Marie

Posted in Booklists

“Twin Peaks” Readalikes!

Did I tell you that I recently discovered David Lynch’s Twin Peaks?

Well, I did, and I love it.

Agent-Dale-Cooper-comes-town-investigate-he-whole-lot-character

So when I saw this article today, I immediately thought, “Why didn’t I think of that?!”  Lincoln Michel over at Vice has put together a great list of books you might want to try if you enjoy Twin Peaks.

Twin Peaks is weird and quirky, but sweet.  It’s scary, but funny.  It’s surreal and out there, but also grounded in small-town dynamics.  The tone is a tough one to capture.  Each of the books Michel picked fits some aspect of the show.  And goodness knows it’s got a plethora of plots, ideas, and characters in the mix, so lots of very different readalikes present themselves.

something-delightfully-off-about-haunting-intro

One of my very favorites, We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, is top of the list.  I’d suggest any Shirley Jackson if you enjoy Twin Peaks–her stuff is loaded with the macabre, the supernatural, and the weird, but always grounded in the everyday.  She also had a knack for quirky characters and humor, as well as a slightly foreboding tone underneath it all.

Log-Lady-cares-deeply-about-her-log

Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach trilogy made the list, as did Duplex by Kathryn Davis and The Shining by Stephen King (all great choices).  I learned about quite a few books I’d never heard of before thanks to Michel’s article, and ones I definitely want to try (surrealist Leonora Carrington’s work, for a start).

Here’s the link to Weird Books You Should Read If You Like Twin PeaksGive it a look, if you’re a David Lynch and/or Twin Peaks fan!

Man-From-Another-Place

–Marie

(and thanks to PopSugar for the gifs!)

 

Posted in Book Challenge, Booklists

TBR Challenge 2017 Update #1

For those just arriving: I’ve decided to participate in the TBR Challenge this year.  The object is to read as many books as you can that you’ve had on your “to-be-read” pile by the end of the year.

Also, I’ve made a decision about this challenge.  If I’m not into something on my TBR list, I’m not going to finish it.  Too many books, too little time.  I will, however, give each book 100 pages before I give up.

Here’s how it’s going so far…

The Man in the Picture:  A Ghost Story by Susan Hill: Stay tuned for more, Horror Month 2017!

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  I’m sorry, I just couldn’t get into this.  I’d certainly suggest it to readers who enjoyed The Golem and the Jinni or Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, though!  It’s got incredible atmosphere, nice historical sense of place, and the style is really evocative.  Not my (book)bag, but it might be yours!

The Father of the Rain by Lily King.  I was absorbed in this one from the first chapter.  It’s an engaging, nuanced story of a complicated father/daughter relationship, spanning many years.

The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt.  I was a couple pages into this novel when I realized that I’d begun it before.  Would you believe I’ve never read anything by Byatt before?  Language to savor and beautiful period detail.  Sweeping and engrossing.  But, alas, not one that grabbed me personally.  And I felt really guilty about that, because it’s a gorgeous book.

The Ghost Orchid by Carol Goodman.  I’ve read a couple of Goodman’s books, and I enjoy her brand of psychological suspense.  This one, set at a writer’s retreat in upstate New York, is a great Gothic tale and period piece as well as a suspense story.  It reminded me a lot of Kate Morton’s work (The Forgotten Garden in particular).  I got halfway through and then flipped to the end.  For some reason (perhaps the alternating chapters?), the tension just never took for me.

Well.  A bit disappointing.  But I guess this is why some of these books have sat on my To-Read shelf for five years.

Also, I keep adding new stuff to my TBR list, so now I’ve got 842 items on it.  I began with 831.  And have read or tried to read five.

I’m thinking I won’t see much of a net gain from this project.

–Marie

Posted in Booklists

Marie’s Currently Reading: Blizzard Edition II

Ugh.  Last time I could make jokes but this time digging out our driveway took three hours and I don’t want to talk about it except to say:

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On the plus side, I did spend the not-shoveling part of the snowstorm with some great books!

The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan.  This book about the women who worked at Oak Ridge during World War II reads like a novel.  Since this is still within living memory, the author was able to interview lots of people, and to focus on a few individual stories.  The first-person accounts really add an immersive layer to the history.  In alternate chapters, the history and science behind the atomic bomb is explored.  A nice introduction to the making of the atomic bomb, and also a great exploration of the women who had a hand in making it happen.

The Widow’s House by Carol Goodman.  Very much my usual, and Goodman is very much in her wheelhouse with a novel about two writers who go back to their college town in upstate New York to work as caretakers for a former teacher.  The teacher’s house has a tragic past, and lots of family secrets and maybe a ghost.  Entertaining and enjoyable, and I’m just getting into the meat of it now.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.  This book was all the rage when it was first published.  Everyone was reading it and talking about it.  It’s been on my TBR pile for years, and I just started it the other night.  The first chapter was a promising, atmospheric, and mysterious beginning to a story about rival magicians in the late 19th century.

Ghost Road Blues by Jonathan Maberry.  Yet another novel I’m reading in preparation for Horror month!  I’ve loved all the short stories I’ve read by Maberry, so I decided to give this title a try.  It’s about an ancient evil in a small town.  If it spooks me, you’ll see it in October!

That was all I had time for before the shoveling began.  And the watching of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, which is awesome and you should stop reading this right now and go watch it.  Maybe this weekend I’ll have time for more books and Gently.  After shoveling.

–Marie

 

 

Posted in Booklists, Uncategorized

Marie’s Currently Reading…Blizzard Edition!

As most of you have probably  heard, there’s a blizzard on the way to Maine tonight.  CRIPPLING, you guys.  It’s going to be CRIPPLING: http://haggett.bangordailynews.com/2017/02/12/home/crippling-blizzard-on-the-way-for-coastal-and-interior-maine-2/

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I’ll do my level best not to go insane.  No promises.

Tomorrow is looking like a wash.  A whitewash.  We’ve called a closure already here at the library, because…seriously, CRIPPLING BLIZZARD, guys.   In between shoveling out our driveway from the snowdrifts and baking brownies and praying that the power stays on, I’ve got lots of great books on the go for tomorrow’s snowstorm!

Falling Upwards: How We Took to the Air by Richard Holmes–a history of hot air ballooning!  There’s something incredibly inspiring about the early aeronauts and their quest to take to the air.  Balloonists were showmen, scientists, adventurers, and everything in between.

Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart–fun, rollicking historical fiction with a fascinating lead and some cracking good dialogue.  It’s about a woman named Constance Kopp, who was one of the first deputy sheriffs in America.

The Matchmaker of Perigord by Julia Stewart–this is a witty and very entertaining novel about a barber in a small French village.  When he starts losing clients due to baldness, he decides that he’ll become the village matchmaker instead.  It’s clever and cozy but not twee.

Try Not to Breathe by Holly Seddon–I need at least one thriller on standby.  An alcoholic journalist tries to redeem her life and career by taking on an unsolved case.

Not a bad set of companions for the day.  Apart from Snow Shovel, of course, who I’ll be seeing a lot of.  I hope you’re all holed up somewhere snug and safe tomorrow!

–Marie

 

 

 

 

Posted in Booklists

Marie’s Favorites of 2016

If nothing else, 2016 has at least been a good reading year.  One of the best in recent memory, I’d say.  I discovered new favorites (Helen Ellis) and rediscovered lots of old ones (Grady Hendrix, Donald Ray Pollock, and Shirley Jackson).  Thanks to my book club I’ve read some outstanding nonfiction this year, too!

Here’s a link to my 2016 Reading Challenge over at Goodreads.  In general I’m not a huge fan of reading challenges that are purely numbers-based, but I think it’s great to have a way to track my reading over the course of a year.  Looking over my list from 2016, I see that I branched out a bit more into contemporary women writers.  I’ve also dipped back into the historical fiction well, which used to be one of my favorites.  I burned out on thrillers, but still love crime (thank you thank you for the new book this year, Tana French!).

I know we’ve still got more than a week to go before the year officially ends, but trust me when I tell you that it is highly unlikely that I’ll be able to finish anything before New Year’s.  So below please find my list of favorite reads of 2016.  Click the cover to go to the blog post for that book.

Happy holidays, folks!

american housewife

the other typist

wonder garden

lake of dead

calamity leek

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Not Working

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Heavenly Table

great-detective

wohlsdorf