Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Salon: January 19, 2014

The Sunday

I have been struggling to get blog posts written these days and after reading Andi's excellent post on maintaining a successful blog, I have decided to try to improve my consistency and see if that keeps me on track a bit better. In thinking about maintaining consistency, I concluded that having an easy to follow format for some posts may make them less daunting and allow me to just GET THEM DONE!  So.... following the lead of Joanne of Lakeside Musing and Lisa of Lit and Life, I am trying a Sunday Salon post with prompts - I always enjoy reading theirs so we will see how this goes. I have customized the prompts a bit for me.

The scene:  11 AM Sunday morning, Prince and I are chilling on the couch taking refuge from the cold weather outside.

Reading:  I am currently reading Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah - this book has a wonderful winter themed cover and has been on my shelves forever so I am glad to have gotten to it.  It is an easy read which I am really enjoying. After that, it will be on to Love, Water, Memory by Jennie Shortridge on my e-reader.  I loved her book Eating Heaven so am looking forward to reading her latest.

Listening: After finishing Defending Jacob (which I loved), I have moved on to Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe.  It is narrated by the author and his voice is great.  Great company on the longer dog walks!

Blogging: Still struggling with consistency on the blog - I am way behind on reviews. I am excited for the two challenges I am hosting this year - Immigrant Stories is still going strong and for the first time I am hosting the Ireland Reading Challenge (formerly hosted by Books and Movies)

Watching: Looking forward to Downton tonight! Ahh, Sundays.

Looking Forward To: Surprisingly, surgery.  Now that I know I need it and have decided on the path forward, I just want to move on. I will be home recuperating and off work for at least 4 weeks. I think the blog will be quiet in the days following surgery but hope as I start to feel better that I can use some of the downtime to catch up here a bit. When I am not up to blogging post-op, I am sure I will still be dropping in on Twitter (@booksnyc), Instagram (Booksnyc) and Facebook (Books in the City) so please stop in there!

Planning: Like crazy for pre/post op later this week. I am wrapping stuff up at work so that I can be out for an extended period of time; prepping the apartment for my parents' visit (they will be staying and taking care of me).  I will be on a clear liquid only diet for 2 days pre-surgery and then liquids only for a while post surgery so I am ordering jello, protein powder, beverages etc. Fortunately, online shopping is my friend!

Grateful: For the support of family and friends and co-workers.  I know I will continue to rely on them in the post-op period.

Happy Sunday!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Audiobook Review: Defending Jacob by William Landay

Defending Jacob by William Landay (narrated by Grove Gardner, 12 hours 25 minutes) is told from the point of view of Andy Barber, assistant District Attorney for a town in Massachussetts and father to fourteen year old Jacob. When a boy in Jacob's class is found brutally murdered in a park one weekday morning, Andy is initially the DA assigned to the case but when Jacob becomes implicated, Andy must be removed from the case (and his job). The author skillfully takes us through the ins and outs of the investigation and case but, most especially, the inner workings of the Barber family as this drama unfolds. The Barbers thought they knew their son Jacob and want desperately to believe in his innocence but will what they learn in the case shake their trust?

Andy Barber is a level-headed, straight-shooting DA living in an affluent Boston suburb with his wife and,  their only child, Jacob.  Jacob is awkward and withdrawn at times but also goofy and has a seemingly good relationship with his parents. Andy is quick to attribute Jacob's reticence or any odd behavior to the fact that the boy is on the cusp of adolescence. When Andy is informed that Jacob is the suspect in the bloody murder of his young classmate, he is stunned and his instinct to protect his son kicks in. Using his skill as a DA, Andy tries to steer the case before being removed from it and once he is removed. he finds Jacob an excellent defense attorney and begins to work with him on the case. Interestingly, he does not believe in the "system" and doesn't want to entrust his son's future to the vagaries of the judicial system  - no matter how fair he is supposed to believe it.

Andy's wife expresses some concerns about her son and is the first to possibly doubt his innocence. The mounting, damning evidence contributes to that but, more than that, she relies on her memory of him as a young child. The problems he often had with other kids on the playground or in school; the anger he would display even as an infant when crawling. More than Andy, she punishes herself for not intervening sooner or for things she felt may have contributed to any problems Jacob now has - like putting him in daycare at a young age so she could return to work.  Meanwhile, Andy remains rational and tried to calm his wife even as he is frustrated with the fact that she is even questioning Jacob. He remains steadfast in his faith - almost as if he must otherwise he may need to admit some responsibility and he can't bring himself to that.  Afterall, Andy has his own secret.

My Thoughts
I devoured this book - from the beginning, I got on the roller coaster ride of courtroom drama and did not want to get off. The story is told primarily through the transcript of the trial of Jacob and the dialogue is riveting. Between the trial transcript, however, are the inner thoughts of Andy Barber which provide insight to the emotions of the parents and the horrible conflict of loving your child unconditionally but being horrified by what he may have done.

The narrator, Grover Gardner, is new to me but I chose this audio on the recommendation of Jennifer at Literate Housewife  and am glad she spoke so highly of it. The narrator's deep voice is perfect for Andy Barber; between the excellent narration and gripping tale, 12+ hours went by in a flash.  Highly recommend!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Announcing The Ireland Reading Challenge 2014

Carrie from Books and Movies has hosted the Ireland Reading Challenge for the past number of years and I have always enjoyed participating - books set in Ireland or by Irish authors are a favorite genre of mine - and it was great to see the variety of books read by the partipants. Carrie was looking for a new host for the challenge and I am glad to take it over - thanks to Carrie for all the excellent work in hosting this challenge until now. I haven't changed much (other than the start and end dates) - why mess with a good thing?!

 Here are the guidelines:

 ~ The challenge runs from January 1, 2014 to November 30, 2014.

 ~ Any books read for this challenge can also apply to other challenges you are working on.

~Re-reads are allowed.

 ~ Any book written by an Irish author, set in Ireland, or involving Irish history or Irish characters, counts for the challenge – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, audiobooks, children’s books – all of these apply.

 ~ Choose your commitment level:
 Shamrock level: 4 books
 Luck o’ the Irish level: 6 books
Kiss the Blarney Stone level: 8 books
Ceilidh level: 10+ books

 ~ Sign up below and feel free to copy the button at the top of this post and put it into your sign-up post or on your blog

You don’t have to list your books ahead of time – just have fun reading throughout the year.

 ~ I will add a Mr. Linky for reviews and wrap-up posts and you can always get to the info page or review link-up via the links in my sidebar (look left).

Adh mor ort! (Good Luck to you!)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Announcing Immigrant Stories Challenge 2014

For the third year, I am proud to host the Immigrant Stories Challenge. As I said in the post announcing the inaugural Immigrant Stories Challenge in 2011, I am the child of immigrants and have always been drawn to immigrant stories in my reading. As I started to pay attention to the theme, I realized it is actually very prevalent in literature. Across many genres, books features immigrants from and to many nations in addition to the stories of their children as they try to fit in.

The Challenge 
The only requirement of the challenge is that the books read for it include an immigrant story. The immigrants can be coming to or from any country - expand your horizons!

 How Many Books Do I Need to Read?
There are three levels for the challenge:
 Just off the boat: 1-3 books
 This land is my land?: 4-6 books
 Fully assimilated: 6+ books

What types of books are eligible?
Only fiction? How about audiobooks? All types of books are eligible - fiction, non-fiction, short stories, audiobooks, e-books.

Other details? 
Re-reads are acceptable as are cross-overs with other challenges. Throughout the year, I try to feature guest posts from authors of books featuring an immigrant story and or who were immigrants themselves (author guest posts).  If you are an author or publisher of a book with an immigrant theme or are interested in posting about the immigrant experience, please contact me.

 Any book suggestions? 
You can find recommendations for books that cover the immigrant experience here - this is in no way comprehensive but will give you a start. The link includes titles that have been suggested for the challenge and links to reviews of immigrant stories by past participants. What are the dates for the challenge? January 1, 2014 - December 31, 2014. You can sign up anytime. If you are "at capacity" for challenges this year (I know the feeling), I hope you will consider helping to spread the word about the challenge.

 How Do I Sign Up? 
 Go here to sign up and post the button on your blog or in your sign-up post.

Immigrant Stories Challenge 2014: Sign-Up

Sign up below for the Immigrant Stories 2014 Challenge. For more info about the challenge, click here

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy New Year

I have been absent from the blog recently while dealing with some health issues but I do plan to come back soon. In the meantime, I wanted to wish you all a very Happy New Year!! Hope 2014 brings you much hope and happiness.