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August Monthly Recap

pile-of-booksIt’s time for our monthly recap! Find out which books were favorites, which were duds, and which ones we plan to read the following month. We’ll end our wrap up with a calendar of book-related events/facts from the Month of August and we’ll highlight our upcoming September content. We’ve also added a list of upcoming book releases for September (scroll to the end for the list).

This month, one randomly selected follower (email or wordpress follower) will win a $10 amazon gift card. Scroll down to see if you are the winner. The prize is only awarded if you contact us with your email address so make sure to check these monthly recaps each month to see if you won! We also want to hear from you so let us know what you read in August and what you look forward to reading in September. 

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Summer Challenge Update: #6

Summer-Reading
It’s time for a Summer Challenge update!  In each update, we will give an honorable mention to the reader who posts our favorite book-location pairing since time of last update. Keep reading to find out who is in the lead, what the prizes will be, and to get some ideas for your book locations. Read more

Man Booker Longlist 2015: A Spool of Blue Thread Anne Tyler

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Next up in on our long list reads is Anne Tyler’s A Spool of Blue Thread. Find out what I thought about it and where it ranks. Read more

Heather Blazing by Colm Tóibín

heather blazing

Heather Blazing by Colm Tóibín
Published: 1992
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Jen
Format: Audio narrated by Tim Gerard Reynolds
Find it/buy it here: The Heather Blazing

I think Colm Tóibín may be on his way to become one of my new favorite authors. There is something about his writing style that I find very comforting and beautiful. I first discovered him while working my way through the 1001 Books to Read Before you Die list. I loved The Master — a fictionalized portrait of Henry James that was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2004. I became equally enamored with my latest selection: Heather Blazing. Read more

2015 Man Booker Longlist: A Little Life by Yanagihara

a little life

Book Worm is breezing through the Longlist books and will have more reviews to come soon. Next up is a book I recently finished: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Keep reading to find out what I thought and where it ranks among the 2015 longlist books we have read thus far. Read more

Kid’s Corner: Rosie Revere Engineer

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Until recently, my 4 (almost 5) year-old was convinced that princess was a viable career path. I remember receiving an email from her preschool about career day dress-up, requesting that parents explain to their children that princesses, mermaids, fairies, and pirates were not real career options. Interestingly many of the “problem careers” were stereotypically female. If you think about the children in your life, you may notice that little boys will rattle off real career options (albeit also highly gendered options) like fireman, builder, and policeman whereas girls tend to mention magical or false ones. While I don’t expect a preschooler to have his/her career path mapped out, but I find it curious that girls often aspire to futures that are untenable. I’m convinced that books and television have a large role in these early dreams. I spent years of my childhood convinced that I was going to be a detective thanks to Nancy Drew. Then thanks to my grandmother’s favorite TV show, I decided to become a lawyer. For the record, I became neither a detective nor a lawyer.

I say “until recently” because E’s career aspirations changed a few months ago after reading a book that one of our readers recommended: Rosie Revere, Engineer. Keep reading to see what Emma thought of the book. Read more

Summer Challenge Update #5

Summer-Reading
It’s time for a Summer Challenge update!  In each update, we will give an honorable mention to the reader who posts our favorite book-location pairing since time of last update. Keep reading to find out who is in the lead and to get some ideas for your book locations. Read more

2015 Man Booker Longlist: The Green Road by Anne Enright


green road

Next up in our attempt to complete the 2015 Man Booker Longlist is a book we both read: The Green Road by Anne Enright. Keep reading to find out what we thought and how it ranks in our list of 2015 longlist books read to date.

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2015 Man Booker Long List: Satin Island Tom McCarthy

satin island

Satin Island by Tom McCarthy
Published: Feb, 2015
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Find it here: Satin Island

Synopsis (from Amazon): U., a “corporate anthropologist,” is tasked with writing the Great Report, an all-encompassing ethnographic document that would sum up our era. Yet at every turn, he feels himself overwhelmed by the ubiquity of data, lost in buffer zones, wandering through crowds of apparitions, willing them to coalesce into symbols that can be translated into some kind of account that makes sense. As he begins to wonder if the Great Report might remain a shapeless, oozing plasma, his senses are startled awake by a dream of an apocalyptic cityscape.

In Satin Island, Tom McCarthy captures—as only he can—the way we experience our world, our efforts to find meaning (or just to stay awake) and discern the narratives we think of as our lives.

Book Worm’s Review: The novel is written as a stream of consciousness from the point of view of U, an anthropologist employed to essentially make sense of humanity. As such, there is only really one character and very little character development.

I enjoyed the writing the way every day occurrences can be transformed by viewing at a distance and the poetical descriptions the author uses.The plot is original in the way that it attempts to explain humanity through statistics and in the building of the argument that our lives are predetermined on a global scale by the technology we use everyday.

What I didn’t like was the fact that something suspicious or devious was hinted at but then never developed. I would have liked a deeper mystery element to the plot. I also found the ending disappointing. It just kind of fizzled out like a damp firework.

In terms of originality this would probably make my shortlist, but in terms of enjoyment it may get knocked out. Here is my scoring for this book:

Available in English 1/1
Published in the UK 1/1
Originality 5/8
Character Complexity 2/5
Writing Quality 4/5
Total: 13/20

Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: Satin Island

Have you this book? What did you think? Should it make the shortlist?

Here is my ranking of long list books so far in descending order of preference:

  1. Lila (15/20)
  2. Satin Island (13/20).

Check back this Friday to see what we both thought of Enright’s The Green Road.

The Bird Artist by Howard Norman

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The Bird Artist by Howard Norman
Published in: 1994
Literary Awards: Finalist for the 1994 National Book Award
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: ★★★
Find it here: The Bird Artist: A Novel

Set in Witless Bay in Newfoundland, a remote community, this is the story of how love and passion can end in murder.

Fabian Vas is a bird artist: He draws and paints the birds of Witless Bay, his remote Newfoundland coastal village home.  In the first sentence of the novel Fabian confesses to having killed the lighthouse keeper, Botho August. The rest of the narrative works backwards showing what events lead to the murder and how Fabian escaped hanging to tell his story.

The book is studded with detailed descriptions of the bird life in Witless bay and indeed the bay itself is a character, with its isolation allowing certain events to take place and for community justice to take the place of the law.

I gave this book 3 stars because I didn’t really connect with any of the characters. They were all unlikeable in some way and I really find it hard to like a book where you can’t connect with a single character. What I did enjoy were the descriptions of nature, of the bird species, and of the harsh landscape of the island — landscape that made the inhabitants the kind of remote, cold people they were.

After finishing this book I discovered it was the first in a trilogy which seems rather strange to me since this book seemed to provide the complete story of Fabian, albeit it possibly a slightly surface view. This was not a book that ended on a cliffhanger or that left me with any burning unanswered questions. Instead, everything was all tied up nicely and in such a way that I don’t feel compelled to read the next 2 books — which probably says it all.

Want to try it for yourself? You can find a copy here: The Bird Artist: A Novel

We want to hear from you. Have you read this book? What did you think? Do you want to read it?