Sunday, January 30, 2011

Author Event: Pete Hamill

Forever: A NovelAuthor Pete Hamill is the child of immigrants from Northern Ireland whose parents arrived in New York City in the late 1920's.  He was raised in Brooklyn in an ethnically diverse neighborhood among a variety of immigrant families.  Immigration and New York  City feature in many of his books including Snow in August and Forever: A Novel.  I have enjoyed both of these books and was excited to see he would be speaking at the Tenement Museum on the topic of immigration and New York City in December.

Hamill began the night by talking about why his parents came to New York and his experience growing up in Brooklyn in a working class, immigrant neighborhood.  He spoke about the community of immigrants and how their differences in religion and culture mattered little- they were united as new arrivals to this country and did not toss ethnic slurs at each other as many of their parents had endured in the countries from which they emigrated.

Snow in AugustHis talk then moved into his experience living in Mexico and what it has taught him about the Mexican people. This exposure to the Mexican culture coupled with his own immigrant history has obviously influenced his point of view on the immigration debate that rages across the country.  It was interesting to hear him link the current immigrant experience with that of those featured in the museum, his parents, my parents and the current immigrants from places such as Mexico, Eastern Europe and South America.  Much of that debate hinges on  the difference between legal and illegal immigration but I thought Hamill made good points about the humanity of these immigrants and their ability to contribute to our economy. 

Perhaps my favorite part of his talk was when he said "I hate the phrase the American Dream.  A Dream is unwilled . . . . I prefer the American vision . . . you want to  do something with the only life you have and you marshall education, will, ambition . . . everything you need to achieve this vision".  I think this beautifully summarizes the American but also the immigrant experience.

It was a pleasure to hear the author speak  - I felt as if I was sitting across the table from him at dinner.  He has an easy way about him but speaks with a wealth of facts and authority on a subject he both knows a lot about but also cares about deeply.  You can listen to the talk in its entirety on the Tenement Museum website in the Tenement Talks section. 

JoAnn of Lakeside Musing also posted about a lecture by Pete Hamill which she attended and her reactions to his  North River: A Novel and the audiobook Downtown: My Manhattan written and read by Hamill. 

As part of my Immigrant Stories Challenge, I will feature a post on the last day of each month which focuses on immigrant literature or the immigrant experience. 

Sunday Salon: January 30, 2011

The Sunday It's hard to believe but it has been over a month since my last Sunday Salon!  This is a favorite feature of mine, but with the holidays and traveling, I haven't written one in the past month.  So, what has been going on since my last SS post?

Photo credit: Zagasi
Well, lots and lots of snow!  We have had more snow already in NYC as we generally have for the entire season.  It seems every 3 days or so there is another storm.  I have to admit - I don't mind the snow.  It might have something to do with the fact that I don't have to shovel (I live in an apt building) and I don't have to drive in the snow (I take the subway).  It makes snow much less inconvenient and I can just enjoy its beauty and its power to interrupt life as usual.  Talk to me in March - I may have a different opinion - but right now I am fine with snow. 

My brush with The New Yorker
I think I may have gotten as close as I ever will to being published in The New Yorker.  Last week, in reviewing my stats through Histats, I noted a big bump (more than a doubling) in my usual daily traffic.  I took a look at sites that were referring visitors to me and noticed The New Yorker blog among them.  After a little research, I noticed a post on my blog was linked to in this article entitled "For the Book Lover, V-Day Advice"!  In the first paragraph, the link "places to read" takes you to this post on my blog about places to read in NYC.  I wrote this post almost a year ago as part of Jill's NYC Challenge with the intent of providing visitors to the city for BEA/BBC with some good reading spots throughout the city.  Interestingly enough, this post is one of the most popular on my blog and is how many people find my blog via google searches.  Who knew?  This little brush with fame made my week!

In Case You Missed It
What has been going on with my blog?  Well, here is a quick recap:

Sign-ups continue for my Immigrant Stories Challenge (thanks everyone) - you can still sign-up if you would like to join in.  Colleen from Col Reads is the first to have posted a review for the challenge - she reviewed the audiobook version of Roopa Farooki's Bitter Sweets. I am always looking for new audiobooks so I am excited to check this one out.  I have also decided to do a monthly feature to accompany the challenge - it will post on the last day of each month - so check out the blog tomorrow for the inaugural post.

Speaking of challenges, in the past 2 weeks or so I have posted wrap-up posts for the 2010 challenges that I completed and acknowledged those that I did not complete.  I will be posting my 2011 sign-ups this week.  Have you signed up for your 2011 challenges yet?

I posted reviews for the following books since my last Sunday Salon:
The Postmistress (audio)
I Remember You
The Corrections
Promises to Keep
The Piano Teacher (audio)
Magnolia Wednesdays

I hope you all have a restful Sunday and a great week!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Audiobook Review: The Postmistress

The PostmistressThe Postmistress by Sarah Blake takes place during WWII as London is getting blitzed and Jews are being moved on trains all throughout Europe.  Frankie Bard is an American radio journalist living in London while reporting on the war.  She is passionate about her chosen profession and aspires to report on stories that truly matter.  She is deeply affected by the war that surrounds her and knows there are stories there that need to be told to those back home.

In Franklin, Massachussetts, the town is largely untouched by the war other than persistent concerns about whether the US will be drawn into the conflict.  Iris James is the Postmistress in the town and takes pride in her responsibility to the townspeople and those who send letters from all over to Franklin.  Emma Fitch is a new arrival to the town looking to quietly settle down with her doctor husband.  Although does not arrive on Franklin's shores both Emma and Iris will be impacted by the war in ways they never imagined possible.

The story moves back and forth across the Atlantic from London and other European cities to Franklin, MA.  It is interesting to view the war from both vantage points - Europe doesn't have the benefit of the innocence afforded to Franklin.  Things are darker in Europe as it faces the atrocities of the war while Franklin's exposure to the war takes place only via the radio waves as the residents listen to reports from overseas.  Frankie Bard bridges this divide with her reports from Europe; it is almost as if she feels an obligation to ensure that those not seeing the atrocities first hand appreciate the gravity of the situation in Europe.  She is also intent on telling a story that was largely under reported - the story of the evacuation of the Jews from countless European cities. 

Frankie rides the trains across Europe recording women, men and children who are being moved from their homes by the Nazis.  She allows them to identify themselves and the fear is palpable in their voices.  I think this is why this book works so well in audio - you actually hear them as they would have been heard on the radio and the impact is haunting.  The narrator, Orlagh Cassidy, expertly assumes accents to speak the words of the evacuees and really brought the scene of these radio broadcasts to life.  It is powerful and not something I will soon forget.  The Postmistress has a great story to tell and I am sure it is excellent in print but I believe this is a book that is particularly good in audio.  I am not alone in this opinion - check out this review from Heather at  The Maiden's Court.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

2010 Challenges . . .at which I failed

 Last year as I started blogging, I was introduced to reading challenges and was dazzled -each one sounded better than the next!  Well, as you might imagine, I got a little carried away and bit off more than I could chew.  Couple that with an unexpectedly insane year at work and the result is some unfinished challenges.  I joined 12 challenges last year and finished 7 and did not finish 4 (1 has a due date of Jan 31st and I believe I will finish that).

Here are the summaries of the ones I attempted but did not conquer!

South Asian Author ChallengeThis challenge hosted at S Krishna's Books required participants to read books by South Asian Authors – South Asia being India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.  I started 2010 on a trip to India and had brought along books by Indian authors so I was off to a great start with this one.  I committed to read 7 books but only read 3 (2 of which I read on that vacation!):

Age of Shiva by Manil Suri
White Tiger by Aravind Adiga
The Space Between Us by Thrity Urmigar

This challenge is being hosted again and I will join for 2011 - hopefully I will do better at reaching my goal this year!

451 Challenge - A chance to read some of those "greatest" books that seem to sit on my TBR list far too long! The blog dedicated to the challenge lists the eligible books.  I pledged to read just 1-2 books but sadly did not make it.  It does not seem this challenge in continuing in 2011 but I will look for another challenge that focuses on classics and/or the "greatest" literature. 

Gilmore Girls Challenge - This show is a favorite of mine so I jumped on board when I saw that Lisa from Lit and Life was hosting this challenge.  Requirements included reading books from this list and including different genres (non-fiction, children's etc).  Unfortunately, I did not read any of the required books for this challenge but do plan to attempt again this year!

TwentyTen Challenge - This challenge, hosted by Bart's Bookshelf , requires that you read 2 books from each of 10 categories for a total of 2o books in 2010 (very clever). Here are the categories:
1. Young Adult - 0
2. T.B.R.  Books for this category must be already residents of your bookshelves as of 1/11/09

3. Shiny & New  New books bought in 2010
4. Bad Blogger’s Books in this category, should be ones you’ve picked up purely on the recommendation of another blogger count for this category 
 Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
5. Charity Books bought from charity shop - I bought many but apparently didn't read them in 2010!
6. New in 2010 Newly published in 2010 
Venetia Kelly's Traveling Show by Frank Delaney
7. Older Than You Read two books that were published before you were born - 0
8. Win! Win! Books you read for other challenges
Brooklyn by Colm Toibin
9. Who Are You Again? New To You Authors
Season of Second Chances by Diane Meier
10. Up to You! The requirements for this category are up to you! I pledged to read 2 of the Anne of Green Gables series for this but didn't manage to get there.
So . . .out of a required 2o books, I read 12.   I will be attempting this one again in 2011.

Despite not finishing these challenges, I am still interested in the books required for each one so I will be attempting most again this year (and some others).  What is it that they say about insanity?  Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? Ha!  Let me have one more year to try (2011) and then I can be certified insane!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bloggiesta Finish!

Bloggiesta Finish Line

Bloggiesta hosted by Natasha at Maw Books Blog finished on Monday morning - it was great to check in on the blogs of the many participants and see all the improvements everyone was making.  Thanks again to Natasha for being a fabulous host!

I had a lengthy list of goals - I didn't complete many of them but am happy with what I did finish. 


Finish my backlogged reviews - I think I have about 4 reviews waiting to be written Finished 1 of the 4

Write post about author event with Pete Hamill - DNF

Write Weekend Cooking Post - it's rare that I cook much so this is not a regular one for me but I finally have something to say! DNF

Write 1-2 bookish posts (not reviews but focus on reading/books) DNF

Blogiversary post and plan giveaway! Done - stay tuned for the giveaway next week!

Immigrant Stories Challenge

This year I am hosting my first challenge - Immigrant Stories - and I am very excited about it. I need to spend some time updating my suggested reading for the challenge and checking in on the participants. (BTW - you can still sign up so join us!) Done!  It was great to see many "new to me" blogs signed up!  Check out the list of participants!  I also updated the list of suggested reading for the challenge - there are some great immigrant stories suggestions on here. 

In addition to my Immigrant Stories Challenge, I plan to sign up for a number of other challenges for 2011 and need to close out all my 2010 challenges
Finish my 2010 DNF challenges post (hangs head in shame) done - will be posting tomorrow

Complete 2011 Challenge sign-up post in progress

Plan books for challenges (maybe this will prevent a DNF post at the end of the year!) not done but I will work on this during the weekend (my own personal Bloggiesta!)

General Blog Tidying

Update my Books Reviewed page (it is woefully behind) finished - here is my list of reviewed books

Tame the feedreader - I need a system people! not done - another task for this weekend

Explore and analyze stats didn't finish - (ok, didn't start).  I have histats on my blog and check the sources of visits and search engine terms but would like to understand more about how I can further analyze my blog because I think it will help me make changes to matter to those that read my blog.  Any stats recommendations?

Enjoy the Party!! this I certainly did as I seem to have spent most of the weekend hopping around blogs and on twitter following #bloggiesta!  It was great to meet so many new to me bloggers such as:

IndieReader Houston
Books Fitness and Other Stuff
Bibliophile Girl
Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing
Randomize Me

I hope new visitors to my blog will continue to stop by!  thanks again to Natasha for hosting another successful Bloggiesta and thanks for all you do for the blogging community!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bloggiesta Is Here - Ole!!

Bloggiesta is one of my favorite blogging events!  It is a great opportunity to work on the blog, learn new things and interact with your fellow bloggers (my favorite part!)   Here is the list of what I would like to work on this weekend:


Finish my backlogged reviews - I think I have about 4 reviews waiting to be written
Write post about author event with Pete Hamill
Write Weekend Cooking Post - it's rare that I cook much so this is not a regular one for me but I finally have something to say!
Write 1-2 bookish posts (not reviews but focus on reading/books)
Blogiversary post and plan giveaway!

Immigrant Stories Challenge
This year I am hosting my first challenge - Immigrant Stories - and I am very excited about it.  I need to spend some time updating my suggested reading for the challenge and checking in on the participants.  (BTW  - you can still sign up so join us!)

In addition to my Immigrant Stories Challenge, I plan to sign up for a number of other challenges for 2011 and need to close out all my 2010 challenges

Finish my 2010 DNF challenges post (hangs head in shame)
Complete 2011 Challenge sign-up post
Plan books for challenges (maybe this will prevent a DNF post at the end of the year!)

General Blog Tidying 
Update my Books Reviewed page (it is woefully behind)
Tame the feedreader - I need a system people!
Explore and analyze stats

Enjoy the Party!!
This is my 3rd Bloggiesta and my favorite part is always partaking in all the community that the even engenders - so I will be hopping around, seeing what people are doing, meeting some new bloggers and exchanging tips.  That plus some great Mexican food and a maragarita or two = perfect weekend!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Review: I Remember You by Harriet Evans

I Remember YouI Remember You by Harriet Evans centers on Adam and Tess who grew up together in the small English town of Langford.  They were very close growing up and everyone in the town imagined that they would become a couple as adults.  As they moved into adolescence, they made good on those expectations and romance began between the two young residents of Langford.  However, Tess ultimately flees Langford to pursue her education at University and settles into life in London while Adam stays in Langford and deals with the sudden death of his mother.

As the books begins, however, Tess returns to Langford looking for a break from city life and trying to recapture some of the joy of living in a small town which she remembers from her childhood. She takes a job at the local university teaching classics and settles into the slow pace of the local country life.  Local country life, however, begins to lose some of its patina as Tess deals with limited social options, nosy neighbors and few of the conveniences to which she had become accustomed in London. 

While Tess tries to adjust to life in Langford, Adam is muddling through in almost exactly the same place Tess left him years earlier.  He has never left Langford and seems stuck.  Adam and Tess have a number of near misses in the relationship departments after Tess returns - they clearly care about each other but they are both ambivalent about getting back together.  When Tess takes her classics class to Rome for a week and is swept off her feet by an American journalist living in Rome, things turn upside down for her and Adam. While she falls for the American journalist, heretofore hidden parts of Adam's past are discovered which have both she and Adam questioning what they thought they knew about the past.

My Thoughts
This is my first novel by Harriet Evans and I have seen many of her books reviewed around the blogs.  I am a big fan of Brit Chick Lit; this book fits that bill perfectly and I did enjoy it but there were elements of it that did not sit well with me.  There were scenes and plot lines that didn't seem to serve any real purpose and even characters (Francesca comes to mind) where I was unsure why they were even in the book.  This may have been what contributed to my feeling that the book was about 100 pages too long - I think the book would have hung together much better after editing out some unnecessary scenes.  Because what was left, was very good - the main characters were well-developed and the main storyline was engaging.   I will definitely try other books by this author because she has such a strong following, especially by readers whose opinions I trust.

For other reviews  (some of whom really liked the book) of I Remember You check out:
Write Meg
S. Krishna

Thank you to Tricia from Media Muscle for providing this book for review.

Challenge Completed: Typically British Reading Challenge

Typically British Reading Challenge (2010)
was hosted by Book Chick City and had four cleverly named levels :
• "Put The Kettle On" – Read 2 Typically British novels.
• "Gordon Bennett" – Read 4 Typically British novels.
• "Bob's Your Uncle" – Read 6 Typically British novels.
• "Cream Crackered" – Read 8 Typically British novels
I joined at the "Gordon Bennett" level but ended up reading 6 books so I guess I met the "Bob's Your Uncle" level.  Here is what I read for the challenge (w/ links to the reviews):

Rowan  Coleman - Home for Broken Hearts
Sophie Kinsella - Twenties Girl
Preethi Nair - Colour of Love
Elizabeth Noble - Reading Group 
Elizabeth Noble - The Girl Next Door
Jane Green - Promises to Keep

I will definitely be joining this challenge in 2011 - it is now hosted by  The Bookette and is called BBC (British Books Challenge).

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Review: The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen

The Corrections: A Novel Last year, there was quite a bit written about author Jonathan Franzen, from the Time Magazine cover  hailing him as "the Great American Novelist" to backlash about the praise he received from literary lions such as the New York Times as compared to that given to his female author counterparts.  I read all this, including praise for his newest book, Freedom: A Novel, knowing that it was time to finally read The Corrections: A Novel which had languished on my shelves for years (I had the Oprah hardback edition - it was that old!)

Where to begin?  I always find it hardest to review the books I like the most and that is certainly the case with The Corrections: A Novel.  The book is at once insightful, sardonic, and humorous - and the writing is above reproach.  It seems each word is carefully selected and the result is intelligent, impactful prose.  However, at the same time, the writing is accessible which makes the 500+ page book move quickly.

The characters, and the readers' ability to invest in them, also makes the large book move quickly.  At the center of this novel is the mid-western Lambert family in all their dysfunctional glory.  The family is headed by Alfred, a retired engineer now trying to deny his progressive symptoms of Parkinson's and his wife, Enid who worries about everything and everyone in their family and seems haunted by what she has given up over the years for her family.  The Lambert's have three children: Gary, the eldest, has moved East and is brow-beaten by his wife and children; Denise has a successful career as a chef at a the trendy restaurant Generator but her lovelife is less than successful as she dates married men or men with whom she has no future; Chip is a professor who gets fired from his job for sexual indiscretions with an undergrad and seems to be completely floundering when we first meet him.   

Obviously, they each have their own complicated lives and issues but when you put them all together including all the transgressions they have committed against each other over the years, you get emotionally charged scenes escalating towards the Christmas that Enid insists they will all spend together.  I think everyone can relate on some level to the dysfunction seen in the Lambert family - if not to the extreme seen in some of the family members, there are elements which are very resonant for most of us - and therein lies the success of this book.  Many adult children can relate to Denise's reaction to a visit to her parent's home:

On her second day in St. Jude, as on the second day of every visit, she woke up angry.  The anger was an autonomous neurochemical event; no stopping it.  At breakfast, she was tortured by every word her mother said.  Browning the ribs and soaking the sauerkraut according to ancestral custom rather than the modern style she had developed at the Generator, made her angry . . . The hundred-and-one refrigerator magnets, puppy-dog sentimental in their iconography and so feeble in their pull that you could scarcely open the door without sending a snapshot of Jonah or a postcard of Vienna swooping to the floor, filled her with rage. 

What I found so smart about this passage is that Denise's fury appears on the second day - after all, she loves her parents and wants to have a successful visit but then is just overwhelmed by frustrations and begins to repeat patterns from her childhood.  The book is filled with loaded family interactions and Franzen expertly sets up each scene.

I found reading The Corrections: A Novel to be a thoroughly satisfying experience and I will certainly be reading Freedom: A Novel  - what I have learned from this experience is that sometimes hype is justified!

Have you or will you be reading either book?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Challenge Completed: What's In A Name 3's in A Name 3:
What's In A Name 3 was hosted by Beth Fish Reads and required that you read one book from each of the categories below (I have linked to the review of the book I used to satisfy each category)

  1. A book with a food in the title: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society
  2. A book with a body of water in the title: Eternal on the Water
  3. A book with a title (queen, president) in the title: Queen of Babble in the Big City
  4. A book with a plant in the title: Magnolia Wednesdays
  5. A book with a place name (city, country) in the title: Brooklyn
  6. A book with a music term in the title: The Piano Teacher
This challenge was truly a challenge - while it seemed quite easy at first, it was actually a challenge to fit in books from each category along with my other reading obligations.  But I like the variety of books I read for this challenge and  had fun matching books with their categories. Beth Fish Reads is hosting What's In A Name 4 for 2011 which is based on the same concept but has different categories.  I am definitely signing up and am looking forward to rising to the challenge again!

    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    Review: Promises to Keep by Jane Green

    Promises to Keep: A NovelPromises to Keep: A Novel by Jane Green centers around the story of two sisters, Callie and Steffi, and a summer that will change both of their lives and those around them.   Callie and Steffi and quite different from each other - Callie is a wife and a mother to two children while Steffi is a free -spirited chef who has bounced between jobs and relationships wantonly.  Despite their differences, the love and affection they have for each other is obvious from the start.  They are joined by a cast of characters which includes their friend Lila, the love interests of Lila and Steffi, Callie's husband and Callie and Steffi's parents. 

    Callie lives in the suburbs of New York City and seems to have it all - the perfect husband, children and a job as a talented photographer.  She is unfailingly optimistic and good-natured; these traits will hold her in good stead as her perfect life is up-ended.  Steffi decides to try a move to the country for a pet-sitting job (there is a love interest involved there too!) and it brings her closer to her sister.  I really enjoyed reading about Steffi's attempts to integrate into life in the country - the slower pace, the friendliness of virtual strangers and the total quiet.  Of course, she struggles but she is ready for a change and this opportunity arrives at the perfect time - in more ways than one. 

    Callie enjoys having her sister live closer and seems to even live a little vicariously through her and she dates a new love interest in the country.  When Callie's life is turned upside down shortly after her 40th birthday, she is even more grateful for her sister's recent decision to move closer to her.  Everyone, including Lila and their parents, rally around Callie and an important message about the ability to support each other but also to learn to rely on others is delivered.

    I am a big fan of Jane Green's books and have enjoyed seeing them evolve over the years from stories of young singleton's to those of mothers and women in their 30's and 40's.  This book is definitely not as light as some of her earlier novels - it deals with serious topics and you care about the characters so it is difficult to see bad things happen to them.  Despite that, I thoroughly enjoyed the novel and longed to spend more time with the characters when the book was finished! 

    Sunday, January 9, 2011

    Audiobook Review: The Piano Teacher by Janice Y.K. Lee

    The Piano Teacher: A NovelThe Piano Teacher: A Novel by Janice Y.K. Lee is set in Hong Kong in the 1950's.  As the story opens, we meet the piano teacher - Claire Pendleton - who has recently moved to Hong Kong with her husband Martin.  Looking for a way to keep busy and distract herself from her unhappy marriage, Claire begins providing private piano lessons to Locket Chen, daughter of Victor and Melody Chen. Claire begins an affair with the Chen's driver, Will Truesdale.  Claire knows Will has a mysterious past but only learns the extent of it as his full story is unfolded.

    The novel alternates between Hong Kong in the 1950's  - essentially Claire and Will's story - and Hong Kong during and just before WWII.  The real focus of the story is this period with Claire and Will's story essentially becoming a vehicle through which the story of Hong Kong during the Japanese invasion is told.  In addition to learning the atrocities committed by the Japanese during the war, we learn about Will's relationship with Trudy Liang, daughter of Shanghai millionaire and a Portuguese beauty.  Trudy is a beauty herself and immediately captivates Will with her zest for life and her bubbly personality.  The two enjoy the glamor of pre-war Hong Kong attending fabulous parties and generally living the high life.  This high life, however, is not devoid of the class discrimination that marks colonialism.  Many of the British living in Hong Kong look down on Trudy because she is "mixed" with an Asian father and European mother. 

    At times, Trudy seems superficial and just a "good time girl" but as the novel progresses, Trudy reveals more and more of herself.  For example:

    I've always known, my love, that I was a chameleonI was a terrible daughter because my father let me be one . . . And I was a good daughter when my mother was around.  Because she couldn't imagine anything else.  And then when I was older, I was a different person each year depending on who I was with.  If I was with a scoundrel, then I would be the type of woman that would be with a scoundrel.  If I was with an artist, then I became a museAnd when I was with you, I was, for the first time, I'm sure people have told you, a decent human being . . . But now circumstances have changed and I have reverted back to form and become a woman who is with somebody because it suits her situation and for no other reason than that simple and venal one.   
    There is something sad about a woman who feels she must constantly adjust herself to the expectations of those around her to the point that she hardly knows herself.  I found Trudy to be the most fascinating character in this book - especially since I alternated between pitying and hating her.  Her character is very layered and the author gradually divulges more and more about her as the story progresses. Trudy and Will form the center of this story with each of the other characters playing a supporting role but there are interesting twists with the other characters as their lives intersect throughout the novel. 

    This novel is beautifully written and haunting - I found myself thinking about the characters but especially about the atrocities committed during the war long after I finished the book.  I listened to the audiobook version narrated by Orlagh Cassidy.  Cassidy is an excellent narrator and made the book easy to listen to and let the beautiful prose shine through.

    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    Christmas in January?

    No, I have not abandoned my blog but I can't blame people for thinking I might considering I have not posted since Dec 19th!  The holidays and travel intervened and my best laid plans for scheduled posts, etc fell victim to too little time and connectivity issues while in Thailand.  But  - I am in Bangkok now with a good internet connection so on with the posts!

    First up is a post about my Holiday Swap Secret Santa present - it arrived just before I left and I was floored by the thoughtfulness of my Santa in selecting books for me.  My secret Santa - Charlotte from Charlotte's Library - sent me too lovely books both of which have been on my TBR list.  The books were beautifully wrapped (the picture only shows the green ribbon which wrapped the packages since I tore into the wrapping before taking a photo!) and accompanied by a card. 

    Charlotte selected for me -

    Chosen: A Novel by Chandra Hoffman
    The Pleasure Seekers: A Novel by Tishani Doshi

    To further complete the book blogger circle, both of these books are ones I selected for my TBR based on recommendations by other bloggers!

    Charlotte's blog focuses on science fiction and fantasy books for children - please stop by and visit her blog - I especially like her Sunday Round-Up  posts because they provide a nice summary of reviews in this genre from across the blogosphere.  

    Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and all the best for 2011!