Archive for April, 2011

23rd April
2011
written by Steph

Doris Lessing is one of those authors who intimidates me. There’s no rhyme or reason to it, but somehow I got it into my mind that she’s one of those smart difficult authors (her winning the Nobel Prize probably has something to do with it), and so I’ve been terrified to try her. Do any of you know what I mean? You pick up an author with a “scary” name and you start to read and even though you find the text is actually really accessible, there’s this part of your brain telling you that it’s going to get hard so you slam on the brakes and pick up Bridget Jones’s Diary instead. In this case, I think the fear that coursed through me stemming from the knowledge that I was finally reading something by Lessing worked in my favor since The Fifth Child is a very creepy book by its own rights. Reading the back cover you’d be forgiven if you assumed it would be very similar to Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin, but I promise you, The Fifth Child is very much its own book and is a very different look at the whole “evil child” trope. (more…)
13th April
2011
written by Steph

I’m not pointing any fingers at this book in particular but I have decided to suspend my Indiespensible subscription for the time being. While I love the idea of receiving a beautiful book (along with extra goodies!) every 6 weeks, at $40 per installment I really want to be loving the books I am getting. And truth be told, the books I’ve read via Indiespensible thus far I’ve just found mediocre. Of the three I’ve read, all of them (including this one) are 3.5/5 reads… which isn’t terrible—I certainly don’t regret my time spent with these books—but they aren’t exactly books that are setting my world on fire. The Fates Will Find Their Way is a book I probably wouldn’t have read if not for Indiespensible. The premise—a girl goes missing from a small neighborhood, and the local boys are irrevocably shaken by this, making up stories about her possible futures well into middle age—while intriguing, was undeniably reminiscent to Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides. I really liked TVS so any book put up against it is going to have some stiff competition. However, Indiespensible sent it my way and all of the pre-pub reviews had been really positive, so I gave it a go, but I have to say, I wound up feeling very ambivalent about this book. (more…)
11th April
2011
written by Steph

Please support your local bookstores so that I don't go to the poorhouse...

By now, many fellow bloggers have posted about the spoils of trips to Borders locations that are closing in the face of the corporation's recent declaration of Bankruptcy. In the Nashville area there are three Borders locations and all but one are closing their doors. The first location that is slated to close does so at the end of this week, so Tony and I decided to go check it out one last time to see if there was anything left worth bringing home. With literature prices slashed to 70% off, I didn't expect to really find anything, but as you can see from the above picture, clearly I did. Turns out that my reading tastes are perhaps not quite as mainstream as the general public's. Their loss is my gain, and all that, but I feel like one thing that has been missing from many of the posts I've read about these store closings is how unbelievably depressing the atmosphere is. The closing of any bookstore makes me sad in principle, but to actually witness a repository of books being dismantled, the shelves bare, books carelessly shelved any which where... depressing is the only word. Thankfully I was able to bring some lovelies home with me so they can escape the indignity of the pulp pile, but my visit to Borders did reiterate to me just how little most people value and treasure books. Sad. But enough maudlin musings. Let's revel in the good stuff after the jump! (more…)
8th April
2011
written by Steph

For Laura: "Would you like a cream bun?"

Avid book bloggers know that a common lament throughout the book blogging world is the lack of time devoted to re-reading, given all the wonderful new books that are cropping up every day. With so many books frequently flooding into my own home, I know that I certainly have spent the bulk of my reading time in years past trying to make my way through the deluge of new books, rather than returning to old favorites. Of course, it’s not just well-loved books that I frequently mark as “to re-read”, but also books that challenged me or that I struggled with. Sometimes I finish a book that I expected to love and find that we just didn’t click. This can certainly be due to the book just not being my cup of tea, but sometimes I think that I simply wasn’t in the right space for that book, or that it might be one of those tricky ones that you can only appreciate after multiple readings. I am here to say that The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is definitely one of those books. (more…)
6th April
2011
written by Steph
For the April issue of BookPage, I pulled double duty and reviewed two new releases, one a debut novel (written by a septuagenarian!), and the other by one of those authors who perpetually finds herself on a the top of the NYT bestseller list.

First up: The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew. I fully admit that I wasn't convinced that I would like this novel when I agreed to review it, but I'm really glad that I kept an open mind because I ultimately found it to be a really powerful evocation of race relations in the South. I worried it would be too derivative of other similar titles, but there is no denying the strength of the narrative Mayhew has created, and it definitely stands on its own two feet (provided book have feet...). Fans of Southern fiction, or those who have enjoyed books like The Help or The Secret Life of Bees definitely need to check this one out. For more info, read my whole review here. And as an added bonus, I did a Q&A with the author which is pretty fascinating if I do say so myself!

As for the heavy-hitter author, I also covered Luanne Rice's latest novel, The Silver Boat. Featuring three sisters who come together to pack up their family summer house in preparation for its sale, this one is great for people who love family sagas filled with rifts and secrets. Check out my full review here!
5th April
2011
written by Steph

Decisions, decisions...

Kim over at Reading Matters graciously asked me to take part in Triple Choice Tuesday, in which bloggers highlight three books (a favorite book, a book that changed their life, and a book that deserves a wider audience). I was so chuffed to be asked to take part and agonized over my choices (obviously). I wound up picking three novels I've not really covered on this site (one was a BookPage review, the others, alas, were read pre-blogging), so there are some pearls for long-time S&TI! readers. Want to know what my choices are? Click this link to find out! I'd love to know what you think of my selections.