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1001 Book Review: Transit Anna Seghers


Transit by Anna Seghers
Published in: 1944
Reviewed by Jen & Book Worm
Find it here:Transit (New York Review Books Classics)

Synopsis (from Amazon): Anna Seghers’s Transit is an existential, political, literary thriller that explores the agonies of boredom, the vitality of storytelling, and the plight of the exile with extraordinary compassion and insight.
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Featured Author: Franz Kafka

kafka museum

Call me crazy, but I’ve always liked Kafka and have appreciated the absurdity of his writing. My recent visit to Prague included a visit to the Kafka museum (photo above) and a walking tour of Kafka’s Prague. I snapped some pictures that I will share with you and I thought it only appropriate to feature Kafka as our June Featured author. What do you think of Kafka’s works? Love them or hate them?
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Final Spring Cleaning Challenge Update & Summer Challenge sign up!

This is the final update I’ll be providing for our Spring Challenge since it is over next week. If you haven’t already signed up for our summer challenge, please do so early since it will start June 21st. Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll get.


I will mail hard copies to the first 10 people who request one (they took longer than I thought to make them so I’m limiting how many I make). I have 5 left since most have requested email copies. Once those are gone, everyone else will get a PDF copy. Inside is a list of reading destinations for the challenge!

Now on to the Spring Challenge update. The last two weeks have seemed like a back and forth between Kate and Tracy who are currently tied for first with 23 points. Special props to Kate who powered through Infinite Jest — a fairly mean assignment on my part.

As a group, you’ve read an amazing 135 books for this challenge! Please check your scores to make sure they are correct. You have one final week (until June 20 at midnight) to submit your last book. Here are the current standings.

Kate – 23
Tracy – 23
Andrea – 6
Ellen – 6
Nicole D – 5
Becky – 4
Lynsey – 4

Sushicat – 4
Anita -2
Tessa – 2
Brandy – 1
Charisma -1
Sally -1

Tricia – 1

Prizes: The grand prize could go to any of you, although odds favor those with more entries. I will announce the winners on June 21st.  What could you win? A box filled with a selection new books from a variety of genres, an amazon gift card, and several book-related items. The first place reader will also win an Amazon gift card and 1 new book. Anita (for being the first person to complete a book) also wins a small prize. And one final mystery winner (who will be announced) will get a copy of Judy Blume’s latest book!

NOTE: If an international reader wins the grand prize, she will receive the equivalent amount in Amazon gift cards  and other online redeemable prizes since it might bankrupt me to mail the box overseas. In that case, a second randomly drawn person will be selected to win the box – so an extra person wins. Good luck everyone!

Keep reading to check out all the books you’ve read as a group along with the latest reviews. You might find a good book to add to your own TBR.

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Sign up for our Summer Reading Challenge!


Summer is around the corner and we want you to join us for our next seasonal challenge! We are still having a blast as the spring cleaning challenge winds down.  That challenge closes on June 20th and we will be announcing the winners on June 21st.

For now we want to announce our plans for our summer challenge and we hope that you all join us because we think it is pretty wonderful! Keep reading to find out more. It’s best to sign up early so you can get a “personalized” version. Read more

The Color of Our Sky by Amita Trasi

color of our sky

The Color of Our Sky by Amita Trasi
Publisher: Bloomhill Books
Release Date: June 30, 2015
Reviewed by: Jen
Rating: 4 stars
Pre-Order the book here: The Color of our Sky

This ARC was provided by Bloomhill Books (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

The Color of Our Sky is a beautifully rendered and emotionally powerful book. Set primarily in Mumbai, India, the novel tells the stories of Tara and Mukta, two childhood friends from vastly different social backgrounds whose lives are forever changed by a series of tragic events in their childhood. Mukta is a lower caste girl, the daughter of a temple prostitute, who is destined to the same fate as her mother. When her mother dies, Tara’s father rescues her from her fate by bringing her home to live with his family. The two girls become close until tragedy strikes again and Mukta is stolen from their house and seemingly lost forever. Tara and her father move to America and she grows up believing that Mukta is dead, carrying guilt for her role Mukta’s abduction. After her father’s death, Tara discovers that her father had lied to her about Mukta. Vowing to return to India and find Mukta, Tara embarks on a journey that takes her deep into the world of human sex trafficking.

The novel is told from the alternating perspectives of Tara and Mukta and the narratives weave back and forth in time spanning from the 1980s through present day. As the stories shift back and forth, we learn the fate of Mukta and the truth about the events that led up to her abduction. Heart-breaking but also inspiring, the novel highlights the resilience of the human spirit and the strength of human connection (friendship and family) to overcome unspeakable adversity.
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Most underrated books?

This morning I read Buzzfeed’s list of “27 Seriously Underrated Books Every Book Lover Should read.” The list was linked to from Book Riot.

BuzzFeed is not a source I trust to guide my reading but nevertheless I found myself thinking about how readers define underrated.

You can find the whole list here. I’ve read quite a few of these books and I’m not sure that I would describe too many of them as underrated. Several were best sellers and a majority are rated highly on various platforms. Take for example, Night Circus. Pretty much everyone I know has read this book and the majority have rated it highly. It has an average rating of 4 stars on goodreads with over 320,000 ratings. Is this what qualifies as underrated by buzzfeed readers?

As many of you know, I’m also pretty picky (a.k.a snobby) when it comes to books and there are several on this list that would not make my list as books that “every book lover should read.” And not to be overly negative, I do think some on the list were strong but certainly not underrated.

Which books make my list? I’d probably need to dedicate some time to this question and may post my own list with Book Worm’s help in the near future. Off the top of my head, I can think of two books that make my list: The Housekeeper and the Professor by Ogawa and Animal’s people by Sinha. Animal’s people was a nominee for Man Booker Prize in 2007 but very few people seem to have read it. It has less than 2,500 ratings on goodreads (compared with over 320k of night circus) and an average rating of 3.81

I read quite a lot of books that lack popular appeal so I will work on coming up with my list to be posted in the next month.

What do you think of the list? Which books do you think should make the list?

Read Around the World: Czech Republic


The next stop on our world tour of reading is the Czech Republic! This month’s choice was inspired by my recent trip to Prague along with my recent bout of reading Czech authors. Prague was one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited. I was also fortunate enough to have time to visit a few locations outside of Prague including Český Krumlov in the Southern Bohemian Region and Terezín, the sad location of a concentration camp. I hope you enjoy some of my photos (at the bottom of this post). Next week, I’ll continue the Czech theme with our featured author post: Kafka.

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1001 Book Review: Shroud John Banville


Shroud by John Banville
Published in: 2002
Awards: Man Booker Prize Nominee for Longlist (2002)
Reviewed by: Book Worm and Jen
Find it here:Shroud

Synopsis (from Amazon): One part Nietzsche, one part Humbert Humbert, and a soupcon of Milton’s Lucifer, Axel Vander, the dizzyingly unreliable narrator of John Banville’s masterful new novel, is very old, recently widowed, and the bearer of a fearsome reputation as a literary dandy and bully. A product of the Old World, he is also an escapee from its conflagrations, with the wounds to prove it. And everything about him is a lie.

Now those lies have been unraveled by a mysterious young woman whom Vander calls “Miss Nemesis.” They are to meet in Turin, a city best known for its enigmatic shroud. Is her purpose to destroy Vander or to save him—or simply to show him what lies beneath the shroud in which he has wrapped his life? A splendidly moving exploration of identity, duplicity, and desire, Shroud is Banville’s most rapturous performance to date.

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The Magicians Trilogy by Lev Grossman

magician's trilogyI finally did it! I finished Lev Grossman’s Magician’s Trilogy. Unfortunately, I feel sort of ambivalent about the series. I disliked the first book, loved the second book, and felt lukewarm about the final book. I should preface this review by making clear that I read the first book and listened to the final two books as audibles. I truly hated the audio and this may have colored my view of the entire series.

The Magicians Trilogy is one of those series that people seem to either love or hate. The critics generally love these books but if you look at goodreads or amazons, the ratings seem split. The trilogy is comprised of The Magicians (2009), The Magician King (2011), and The Magician’s Land (2014). The books follow the story of Quentin Coldwater, a young man who is accepted into an exclusive school for magicians. Over the course of the books, Quentin discovers that a magical land from a fictional series is real. He and his friends become rulers of this land, go on quests, and face the potential destruction of the land. With nods to Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and the Chronicles of Narnia, Grossman reworks the stories of these books into a fantasy series for adults that blends gritty reality and fantasy. Here are my reviews for each of the books in the series:
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Love it or Hate it? The Twilight Series


Have you ever noticed how some books seem to drive a wedge between people? You check the reviews and find almost no middle-of-the-road ratings. Instead people either seem to love it or hate it. Well, welcome to the Love it or Hate it post category! Each month, we’ll pick one book to review and two contributors will battle it out to convince you to pick it up or throw it out. Last month we discussed Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.  This was our biggest point differential with the Love its taking over 80% of the votes. Many thanks to John (Hate it reviewer) and Book Worm (Love it Reviewer) for their wonderful reviews.
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