All sorts of bookish adventures!

Tag Archives: adult contemporary

Wow, this week went by slowly!

It’s finally the weekend, and it couldn’t have come any slower. This was one of those weeks where it went by so slowly that I almost feel that it should be next week by now.

But, the week is over now, and I have a lot of bookish things on my radar that I wanted to share.

Currently, I am still reading The Waste Lands by Stephen King. While it’s hard to put down when I’m reading it, in the last couple of days, I haven’t been able to squeeze in time to read! So, I’m hoping that I can get some reading done this weekend, although it’s unlikely that it will happen because I’m gearing up for…

Mad Men! The two-hour season premiere airs tomorrow and I can’t wait! I will be writing about all things Mad Men tomorrow, and will probably re-watch most of season 4 on Netflix all day before the premiere. I am in love with this show–I consider it to be the most consistent, well-developed series on television to date. I can’t wait to see what’s going on with my favorite characters in this new season! How many of you are as excited as I am?!

Also, I mentioned it earlier this week, but now it’s official–Dewey’s Readathon is back! Sign-ups are here! I have officially signed up to read for 24 hours on April 21st, and I hope you will too. I know my buddy Kyle at A Reader’s Pensieve is doing it, but I’m urging the rest of you to set aside the day to do it as well! And, YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO FOR THE FULL 24 HOURS! (I’m looking at you SJ) Just sign up and read for however long you can go! It’s about all of us setting aside a bit of time to read as a community. We can update our reading progress on our blogs or over on Twitter and root each other on. I enjoyed reading alongside Jillian, of A Room of One’s Own, during the last readathon–we checked in with other through the wee hours, and at the witching hour of 3:00 a.m., when you’re reading a super-creepy book like The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer, it’s really nice to know someone else is out there still reading as well.  It’s just a very cozy feeling, knowing that you’re reading alongside (virtually) with the rest of your community. Just consider it, please?!

Another bookish event on my radar is Suvudu’s Cage Match 2012 event. Basically, characters from some of the best science fiction and fantasy titles are pitted against each other in a fight to the finish. Participants for this event have included Tyrion Lannister, Zaphod Beeblebrox, The Wicked Witch, Lady Jessica, Bast, and Mr. Wednesday (to name only a few). Check out the round 3 bracket here. The event is almost over (I found out about it on Wednesday, but it’s been going on all month!), but I’m enjoying reading the recaps of the past matches. So far, Zaphod Beeblebrox, Anomander Rake, Moiraine Damodred, Kelsier, Mr. Wednesday, Granny Weatherwax, Kylar Stern, and Erevis Cale are still in it. I’m only familiar with Zaphod and Wednesday, but the cool thing about this event is that it provides me with exposure to characters whom I might want to read about in their respective sci-fi and fantasy titles. Plus, it’s just a lot of fun for fans. I recommend you all check it out!

Finally, I signed up a few weeks ago, but the event has officially started, so I’ll announce now that I am going to take part in The Sarah Addison Allen Challenge hosted by Quirky Girls Read. For those of you who don’t know who Allen is, she writes lovely magical realism novels that always take place in North Carolina and always have something to do with delicious food. When I was in a reading rut last year, I picked up a copy of Allen’s Garden Spells simply for the lovely book cover, and I was surprised to find that I loved it. Her imagery and tone is like drinking an ice-cold Arnold Palmer on a hot summer day. So, for this challenge, I will read all four of Allen’s books in April, and, on the weekend, I will cook or bake something inspired by the story I read. For example, for The Girl Who Chased the Moon, I will bake Hummingbird Cake, as that’s one of the main character’s specialties. I believe that Allen even provides a recipe on her website. It’s gonna be delicious!

This will be my last week of teaching before a month-long Spring Break. So, if I’m not consistent in posting this week, just know that I’ll be a constant presence in April! I can’t wait!


Spring is here, and I’ve already started my spring reading, but I’m pretty excited because Spring Break is right around the corner, and, being a teacher at a year-round school, I get the entire month of April off! That’s a whole lot of time for reading and blogging! Last year, I read 28 books during Spring Break. Woot! So, here are ten of the books that I’m most looking forward to reading in the spring.

Wizard and Glass by Stephen King; The Dark Tower

1. Re-reads of The Dark Tower series–Wizard and Glass, The Wolves of the Calla, and The Dark Tower graphic novel series

 The Wolves of the Calla by Stephen King; Dark Tower

I’m trying to read a book per month from this series, and these are the books slated to be read before June!

2. The Wind through the Keyhole by Stephen King

 Dark Tower 4.5

To be released in late April, I can’t wait to see what was going on with the Ka-Tet that was so important that King had to release an entirely new novel to fit between Wizard and Glass and The Wolves of the Calla. This ought to be good!

3. The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer and/or The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy

The Forsyte Saga

These are both very long books, and I can’t yet decide which one I want to read for my classic in April. The Canterbury Tales is a re-read, but it can be very difficult. The Forsyte Saga is long, but very engaging, something that might be more useful in the hot summer months. Not sure yet, but I know that I’ll enjoy both.

4. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley or The Iliad by Homer

Again,The Iliad I can’t decide which one I want to read in May. The Iliad can be difficult, so it all depends upon how much brain power I have available in May. I’m not even sure that I want to read Brave New World, but it is certainly easier than The Iliad.

Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris

5. Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris

Man, the Sookie books have been disappointing in the last two years, but that doesn’t mean I’m giving up on the series. I always read the new book in May, and this year won’t be any different. I have to see what’s going on in Bon Temps.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

6. Insurgent by Veronica Roth

I read Divergent in December, and liked it. I can’t turn my back on a series…I’ll see what happens next.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

7. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides or The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon

One or both of these will be read in the spring. Don’t know yet which one it will be.

8. Re-reads of The Walking Dead graphic novel series by Robert Kirkman

I need to refresh my memory on this series, and then pick up where I left off with the comics! Last time I read, I was at a major cliffhanger! It’s been months since I left off.

9. Continued reading of Locke & Key graphic novel series by Joe Hill

I only read the first three volumes in February, and I loved them. I need to keep going before I forget, like I did with The Walking Dead!

The Portable Dorothy Parker

10. Continued reading of The Portable Dorothy Parker

I’ll probably be reading this all year, but that doesn’t mean I’m not always looking forward to the next short story, poem, or essay offered in this collection.


Using Random.org’s number generator, I have selected four book winners! Here they are!

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: the winner is Arabella of The Genteel Arsenal!

And Then There Were None: the winner is Jared Q!

A Visit from the Goon Squad: the winner is Lena M!

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay: the winner is Ankit of Ankit the Reviewer!

The winners have two days to respond to my emails before I select new winners.

FYI, there were not many entries for these books. Thus, for future reference, if you have any interest in the books I am giving away, you should really sign up! For a few of these, there was a 1 in 4 chance! That’s pretty good odds, people!

From here on, I will probably only give away a book at a time, depending upon my monetary funds. : )

This week, I am offering up my gently-used, paperback copy of A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness.

Here is Goodreads’ Synopsis:

 A richly inventive novel about a centuries-old vampire, a spellbound witch, and the mysterious manuscript that draws them together.
Deep in the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell.
Debut novelist Deborah Harkness has crafted a mesmerizing and addictive read, equal parts history and magic, romance and suspense. Diana is a bold heroine who meets her equal in vampire geneticist Matthew Clairmont, and gradually warms up to him as their alliance deepens into an intimacy that violates age-old taboos. This smart, sophisticated story harks back to the novels of Anne Rice, but it is as contemporary and sensual as the Twilight series-with an extra serving of historical realism.

To enter this contest, simply fill out the form below with your name and contact info. This contest will run for a week, the winner will be selected at random (using a random generator) and I will announce the winner and mail the book out the following week! Please enter, as I am ready to share!

This giveaway has ended!


I haven’t checked in with the Sunday Salon in a while, so today is a good time to do so!

Well, as mentioned on Friday, I was in an apathetic funk all week. I didn’t do much of anything, including blogging. I did write a Happy Birthday post for Charles Dickens, as it would’ve been wrong not to as I spent so much time getting to know him in January. Which, by the way, I did complete all of my posts for Charles Dickens month and finished Bleak House in January. Win for me!

I have been reading in my funk, and am still reading Mrs. Warren’s Profession by George Bernard Shaw and I Want My MTV by Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum. I should have both books finished this week. Yesterday, I picked up volumes 2 and 3 of Locke and Key by Joe Hill at Mysterious Galaxy Mysterious Galaxy bookstore San Diegobookstore, so I’ll be reading those this week as well.

Speaking of Mysterious Galaxy bookstore, after much debate about affiliation, I have decided to hitch my wagon to Mysterious Galaxy and IndieBound books as an affiliate. For the last month or so, I have been considering what it means to be an affiliate, and would it be like selling out or going commercial if I did so? Am I plugging in like Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival? I don’t want my blog to be a crummy commercial. After being approached by Audible and I considered Amazon, I decided that I would affiliate my blog with something that can use some attention. I realized that I could use affiliation to show my love for my favorite bookstore and help support other struggling independent bookstores. So, I applied for and was accepted as an affiliate for Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore and IndieBound. Now, if, by some off-chance, a reader clicks on one of the links that is connected to MG books or IndieBound AND decides to BUY the book via the link, I will get a small commission. However, that is unlikely, although it would be very cool. But, at least I am spreading the word about independent bookstores and Mysterious Galaxy, the coolest bookstores in Southern California (there are two- one in San Diego and one in Redondo Beach).

Another blogging thing I was considering was copyright. I see all of my friends’ blogs have little copyright symbols or some sort of copyright statement at the bottom of their page. What’s the deal with this? Do I need to do this? What do I need to do to get started on this? If anyone can give me some advice on this topic, I’d appreciate it!

Meanwhile, in my outside-of-blogging life, my husband and I have a dilemma on our hands. It looks like this:

Morgan Freeman the stray cat

This is a young gentleman who we like to call Mr. Fluffers or Morgan Freeman (he’s so cool and calm around our own hissing cats that he seems to be ready to handle any job in a crisis, much like Freeman in his presidential roles). He’s been hanging out on our porch the last few days, and the collar that he wore on Wednesday is no longer there. So, there is no contact info. One of his eyes is sorta cataract-y, and he’s awfully thin and needy, so we decided to let him into the house last night. Our little lady cats are not too happy with this decision, but what are we to do? He might get eaten by a coyote or beaten up by one of those ginormous raccoons I see fishing in the sewers. Today, I will make some posters to post around the neighborhood and put a “found cat” listing on Craig’s List. Then, today or tomorrow, I will take him into a vet or the humane society to see if he has a microchip that we can scan. Poor Morgan Freeman. Is he somebody’s lost baby? Is he abandoned? Who are you Morgan Freeman?

Other mentionables before I sign off on Sunday–

I am offering four giveaways this week! I am giving away Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, A Visit from the Goon Squad, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, and And Then There Were None. These are all in very good condition (Kavalier and Clay and And Then There Were None are brand new!) and are all very popular and/or acclaimed books. I will mail them out next week, to anywhere! So, sign up people! I don’t have that many followers on my site, and not many people have signed up, so you have a very good chance of winning! Just do it! Click on the links attached to each of the titles above to be directed to the announcement post and sign-up form. All I need is your name and contact info. That’s it! You don’t have to follow my blog and you don’t need to leave a comment. I’m just trying to share the love with other book lovers!

• I should be posting my reviews of The Drawing of the Three and Locke and Key, vol. 1 this week. Be on the lookout for those!

the Stephen King Project• Obviously, January is over, and I have not yet shared my challenges progress. I will do that now!

Charles Dickens Month in January–COMPLETE, with Bleak House read and 5 Dickens- related posts written.

End of the World Challenge: have read 2952 pages toward my goal of 3500 pages (really? only 3500 pages? that’s the end of the world? someone has to have won by now. I’ll be done with this challenge by the end of the week! oh, I just read the rules. it’s the person who reads the most pages by the end of the year that gets paid out a penny per page via giftcard, up to a limit of 3500 pages. I see…).

The Stephen King Project: have read two books towards my goal of 12 books. This will be a piece of cake!

The Dark Tower Challenge: have read the first two books of the series. I am actually holding myself back from reading The Wastelands right now. I want to have just finished Wizard and Glass when The Wind Through the Keyhole comes out in late April. I guess I’ll read a book per month!

The Award-Winning Challenge: have read two books towards this challenge, and am currently working on the third.

Back to the Classics Challenge and A Classics Challenge: have read one book towards both of these challenges, and am working on the second. I have written one post for A Classics Challenge, and will probably put my February post out later this week.

What’s in a Name Challenge: Have read one book (Bleak House) towards the challenge. 5 more to go!

Well, I hope you all have a wonderful Sunday! If you have any advice regarding copyrighting blogs, please leave a comment! Well, of course, please leave a comment about whatever you want. Also, don’t forget to sign up for one of my giveaways! I want to give you a book!


A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

Here is the second of four book giveaways going on this week at Adventures in Borkdom.

I am offering a paperback, only once-read, never written-in copy of A Visit from the Goon Squad! People, this is a Pulitzer-winner, and I loved it!

Here’s Goodreads’ synopsis of the book:

NATIONAL BESTSELLER National Book Critics Circle Award Winner PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist A New York Times Book Review Best Book
One of the Best Books of the Year:
Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, The Miami Herald, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Newsday, NPR’s On Point, O, the Oprah Magazine, People, Publishers Weekly, Salon, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times, Slate, Time, The Washington Post, and Village Voice
Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.

And here is my review: BOOK REVIEW: A Visit from the Goon Squad 

To enter this contest, simply fill out the form below with your name and contact info. This contest will run for a week, the winner will be selected at random (using a random generator) and I will announce the winner and mail the book out the following week! Please enter, as I am ready to share!

This giveaway has ended.


A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan

• Paperback: 341 pages

• Publisher: Knopf Doubleday, 2010

• ISBN: 0307477479

• Genre: Adult Contemporary Fiction; Literary Fiction; Pulitzer Winner

• Recommended For: Anyone who doesn’t mind exploring the highs and lows of humanity and alternative writing structures.

Quick Review: Egan’s novel is highly relatable and imaginative. It appealed to the rock music lover in me, the jaded listener that I am today, and the avid reader of books like Generation X by Douglas Coupland and Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk. If you share my interests in music and alternative writing styles, I highly recommend this book.

However, while I loved this book–5 stars loved it–many readers hated this book. There seems to be no middle ground! So, if you are interested in A Visit from the Goon Squad, follow this special recommendation: if you check it out, read the first three chapters. If you don’t like them, stop. That simple.

How I Got Here: My interest was piqued when I began seeing glowing reviews alternating with seething reviews for it on Twitter. Then, I joined the Award-Winning Challenge, and saw that Egan’s novel was the 2011 winner for the Pulitzer. So, I put it on my wishlist, and voila! It appeared under the Christmas tree!

The Book: Goodreads’ Synopsis

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

National Book Critics Circle Award Winner

PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist

A New York Times Book Review Best Book

One of the Best Books of the Year: Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, The Daily Beast, The Miami Herald, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Newsday, NPR’s On Point, O, the Oprah Magazine, People, Publishers Weekly, Salon, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times, Slate, Time, The Washington Post, and Village Voice

Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption.

My Analysis and Critique:

Note on my review: This is the first and only time that I have read a book and absolutely had to write a review immediately after! I finished this book on December 27, wrote the review right after, and have been waiting for an opportunity to publish. My point is, I was compelled to share about this book right away–a sign of a good book!

As with all books reviewed, I read Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad without reading any other (full-length) reviews, immersing myself in the book and jotting down notes and connections as I read. Then, upon finishing the book, I hit up Goodreads to read other reviews. Now, as I mentioned earlier, I already knew that Egan’s novel got mixed reviews just based upon comments on Twitter. However, I just can’t believe how expansive the divide is between fans and haters of this book!

So, I’ll start with my feelings on Egan’s novel. I loved this book. Unlike many readers, I connected with all of the characters (and there are many!). This novel spans many generations connected to music: the 1970s gritty punk scene to the modern jaded scene to a future “connected” music scene. Each chapter focuses upon a different character who is somehow connected to previous chapters’ characters, weaving one long narrative on what it means to age and change and be affected throughout the decades. Each character is human and flawed and I could relate to each one. This might be because I’ve known people in my life in some way similar to each character. My parents raised me surrounded by rock music, and I have my own little punk rock past, and I have always been friends with musicians and people who work in the music industry. And, I have always known people who had major flaws and made major mistakes. So, all of Egan’s characters felt like people I might know.

Jennifer Egan's Powerpoint Chapter

The Well-Discussed Powerpoint Chapter

Egan also gets rather experimental with the structure of her novel. Much ado has been made about the PowerPoint chapter, a first person narrative from a 12-year-old girl. Many reviewers see this chapter as Egan being cute, but I disagree. Egan uses this and other chapter formats as a tool to further illustrate who each character is. In this case, it’s a “tween” girl journaling about her family, who, at one point, defends her use of PowerPoint slides in a conversation with her mom:

Mom: “Why not try writing for a change?”

Me: “Excuse me, this is my slide journal.”

Mom: “I mean writing a paper.”

Me: “Ugh! Who even uses that word?”

Makes sense to me! Kids find it “boring” to write formally (ask any of my 12-year-old students learning how to write a thesis statement). Just be glad it wasn’t an entire chapter written in text messaging (although, in the following chapter, it seems that no one feels comfortable conversing, it all takes too much work, so they text each other while sitting/standing with that person right in front of them!). Her other chapters switch POVs, from third person to first person to one chapter being written in the second person (the character feels that he is looking at himself from beyond as he lives life, so it fits!).

Dali's The Persistence of Memory

Egan as Dali?

The way I see it is this: I’m not into art, and yet I am into the art of fiction and narrative. If I want a Michelangelo, I’ll read Shakespeare. If I want a Monet, I’ll read Austen. Sometimes, I’m even in the mood for a Thomas Kincade, and I’ll read a book like The Peach Keeper–lovely, but light. Yet, I can also appreciate the Dalis– the Palahniuk novels, House of Leaves, and Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad. This is my art, and I dig it.

Overall, this is a novel about the inescapability of time (the “goon”) and its effect, both positive and negative, on all of us. Oriented around the music scene, it delves into selling out, drugs, disorders, disease, heartbreak, sex, money, truth, family, and love. Yet, without being in the music business, I have, as I’m sure most people have, dealt with all of these issues in some way in my life. In this way, Egan’s novel is highly relatable and imaginative. It appealed to the rock music lover in me, the jaded listener that I am today, and the avid reader of books like Generation X by Douglas Coupland and Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk. If you share these feelings about fiction and interests in music and alternative writing styles, I highly recommend this book.

Links:

Jennifer Egan’s Website

Cassie’s Review: “Pissed at Pulitzer” (Although we disagree, she is a damn good reviewer!)

Goodreads Reviews


Please note: This list is compiled in no particular order. It is simply a list of my favorite books for this particular genre read in 2011.

Adult Contemporary Fiction

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson (British)

Really enjoyed this novel. It worked as a comedy of manners with a sweet love story. Pettigrew’s son infuriated me regularly, and while I was often angry while reading, it was very hard to put down.

Empire Falls

Empire Falls by Richard Russo (American~Pullitzer Winner)

This wonderful novel included excellent, well-rounded characters, a page-turning plot, and a haunting development at the climax. Highly recommended to anyone.

No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy (American~Mystery/Crime)

Beautifully written, creepy at times, with edge of your seat thrills. While the Coen brothers did an amazing job with their film adaptation, the novel will provide you with more context and understanding of the plot and characters.

March by Geraldine Brooks (American~Historical Fiction)

Paralleling Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, this novel considers what Jo March’s father’s experience was during the Civil War. The language and descriptions were moving, and I actually think that I prefer this novel over Alcott’s classic. Like Little Women, it is based upon the actual life of Amos Alcott and draws it sources from Alcott’s journals and letters, as well as from the writings of Walden and Thoreau, who were friends of the Alcotts and appear in this novel. Very good historical fiction!

The Help by Kathryn Stockett (American~Historical Fiction)

A very good novel with fully developed characters and an interesting plotline. I was full of nervous energy as I read each chapter.

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (American~Pullitzer Winner)

Remember, this is my list. And I loved this book! I loved the characters, I loved the themes, and I loved the alternative writing structures utilized throughout the novel. Loved it! 5 stars loved it! However, so many readers hated this book, ripping their hair out hated it, that I have a special recommendation for those who are interested: if you check it out, read the first three chapters. If you don’t like them, stop. That simple. Nothing to get angry about. My full review will appear next week. But, I loved it!

the peach keeper

The Girl Who Chased the Moon, The Sugar Queen, and The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen (American~Magical Realism)

Allen is the master of Southern magical realism. In each of these novels, Allen spins a magical thread into what is simply a lovely depiction of a North Carolina small town and its delightful residents. I love all of Addison’s beautiful novels. Recommended for any occasion when you just need a breath of fresh, sweet air!

Young Adult Fiction

Coraline

Coraline by Neil Gaiman (Fantasy/Horror)

One of the scariest books I’ve read all year, and it’s a children’s book! Highly recommended for its imaginative plot and creepy pictures. Gaiman is a master!

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Historical Fiction)

This historical fiction novel was very haunting and sad as it followed the short tragic life of a young girl in WWII Germany. Was also a very unique novel as it was narrated by Death.

The Giver by Lois Lowry (Science Fiction~Dystopian)

A rather sad dystopian novel. I had been hearing about how wonderful this book was for years, and I was pleased to see that it lived up to its expectations. Highly recommended to all of you dystopian lovers out there!

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent by Veronica Roth (Science Fiction~Dystopian)

Really enjoyed this dystopian YA novel. Check out my review here.

Tomorrow’s Post: Top Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Read in 2011