Reading Stats: The Underground Railroad
Reading Stats / March 12, 2017

Unusual that I read this in a short window — in part because it was borrowed from the library and because of its popularity, to renew I’d have to put a hold on it and wait.  That being said, once I was 30 pages in I wanted to finish. Read the review: The Underground Railroad  

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8.6/10
Review: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Title: Water for Elephants Author: Sara Gruen Genre: Fiction, Historical Publisher: Algonquin Books Release Date: 2006 Format: kindle & audiobook Pages: 335 Narrator: David LeDoux & John Randolph Jones Read Date: 21 January 2016 Ninety-something-year-old Jacob Jankowski remembers his time in the circus as a young man during the Great Depression, and his friendship with Marlena, the star of the equestrian act, and Rosie, the elephant, who gave them hope. Any novel written in the first person runs the risk of a common, unremarkable narrator, far more than a third person narration. Part of the joy of reading Gruen’s Water for Elephants is the memorable narrator in Jacob Jankowski, particularly when it is the elderly version of Jacob speaking. He describes himself as “90. Or 93.”  The elder Jacob’s narrative is interwoven with that of a Jacob in his twenties. The elder’s storyline — Jacob in a nursing home — is amusing and sad at the same time, but ends wonderfully, bringing the story to full circle. Jacob’s descriptions of the fellow home residents, the caregivers, his family, and the vagaries and trials of growing old are amusing and touching.  Jacob feels abandoned by his family and frustrated by the…

Reading Stats: Wicked
Reading Stats / March 7, 2017

Listened to the audiobook, mostly on 2x which put me about the speed I normally read a book at.  A part of me wanted to complete the book faster.  I totalled 6 sessions between 08 Feb and 27 Feb 2017. For my review, click here: Review: Wicked

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6.5/10
Review: Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
Fiction , Reviews / March 7, 2017

Title: Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West Author: Gregory Maguire Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Fairytale Rewrite Publisher: Harper Collins Release Date: September 29, 2009 Format: kindle & audiobook Pages: 432 Source: purchased Narrator: John McDonough Read Date: 27 February 2017 When Dorothy triumphed over the Wicked Witch of the West in L. Frank Baum’s classic tale, we heard only her side of the story. But what about her arch-nemesis, the mysterious Witch? Where did she come from? How did she become so wicked? Gregory Maguire has created a fantasy world so rich and vivid that we will never look at Oz the same way again. Gregory Maguire’s novel transforms the world of Oz, expanding on Baum’s original works and most importantly, telling the story of the Wicked Witch of the West. In Elphaba (later to be known as the Wicked Witch of the West), we have a classic outsider. Her green color and manner set her apart, but so does her upbringing. As she grows up, her political activism again separates her and makes her a target. She is told she is cursed, and despite her brilliant mind, and deep passion for protecting those oppressed,…

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8.9/10
Review: Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

Title: Station Eleven Author: Emily St. John Mandel Genre: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Dystopian Publisher: Alfred a Knopf Incorporated Release Date: September 9, 2014 Format: Kindle Pages: 337 Source: purchased Narrator: Kirsten Potter Read Date: 05 March 2016 2014 National Book Award Finalist An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity. Emily St. John Mandel wrote Station Eleven with a more literary slant to her post-apocalyptic world than the bulk of end-of-the-world narratives out there. You won’t find many action-filled scenes of crazed road-warriors or zombies or gun-toting survivalists chasing down the ‘good-guys’.  There are no long explanations of how society collapsed. Instead, the story focuses on a handful of characters, before and after a plague that wipes out most of the world’s population. The major players in the story are all connected, yet they connect through tenuous threads, and there is no big moment where their stories converge. Kirsten a child actor when the end came, now travels with a symphony and acting…

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8.6/10
Review: The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee
Fiction , Reviews / March 2, 2017

Title: The Queen of the Night Author: Alexander Chee Genre: Fiction Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Release Date: February 2, 2016 Format: Kindle Pages: 561 Source: purchased Narrator: Lisa Flannigan Read Date: 31 January 2017 In the Paris of the Second French Empire, what did it take to rise from courtesan to diva? From a ferociously talented writer who is “the fire, in my opinion. And the light” (Junot Diaz) comes a blazing portrait of a woman who creates her own fate. Lilliet Berne is a sensation of the Paris Opera with every accolade except one: she has never created an original role, every singer’s chance at immortality. When she is approached with an offer to do just that, it comes with a caveat—the opera must be based on a secret from her past that she has thought long buried. Who has exposed her? In pursuit of answers she’s drawn back into her past. An orphan who left the American frontier in search of her mother’s family in Europe, Lilliet was swept up in the glitzy, gritty world of Paris at the height of Napoleon III’s rule. There she transformed herself from hippodrome rider to courtesan, from maid to Empress Eugenie to…

Why I removed thousands of books from my library
Reading Life / February 28, 2017

Straight to book hell. On a bus. I am doomed by my actions. Yet, I am unrepentant. We’ve all broken a few of the rules of the bibliophiles, committed a few venial sins such as claimed we read a classic when we didn’t, secretly hated the book everyone loved, spoiled a mystery for someone (or ourselves — but I don’t get that particular kink). Some of us even belong to a more heretical branch of book devotees: e-book lovers, audiobook ‘readers’ or comic book readers, but ultimately, we are still part of the faithful, the devotees of bibliolatry. Given that as a community we can be judgmental (we rate books, covers, genre’s, we review, we rank, we recommend) it doesn’t shock me that all it took to for people to stare in horror, call me a blasphemer, and question my status as a bibliophile was to commit the mortal, grievous sin of ridding myself of the bulk of my library. (I hear the hisses, the sharp intakes of breath as you read that…) Let me confess. Working class roots meant a stable but modest home life. Dad worked shifts in a mill, mom in a bank. Mom read to us…

Reading Stats: Sharp Objects
Reading Stats / February 26, 2017

I read this during Dewey’s 24 in 48 Readathon in 3 sessions over 2 days.  My reading pace, and more or less reading it from cover to cover with few interruptions, is, I believe, typical for me in the genre. By tracking my stats, I’ll know more at the end of the year. To read my review, click on the image or here: Review: Sharp Objects

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8.5/10
Review: Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
Fiction , Reviews / February 26, 2017

Title: Sharp Objects Author: Gillian Flynn Genre: Fiction Publisher: Broadway Books Release Date: November 25, 2014 Format: Kindle Pages: 272 Source: purchased Read Date: 21 January 2017 Reluctantly returning to her hometown after an eight-year absence to investigate the murders of two preteen girls, reporter Camille Preaker is reunited with her neurotic mother and enigmatic, 13-year-old half-sister and discovers secrets of her own past. By the #1 best-selling author of Gone Girl. Reprint. Admittedly late to the phenomenon that is Gillian Flynn, I decided to start with her first novel, Sharp Objects.  Her debut novel is no slacker in the thriller genre and she tackles not one, but two tough mental health issues in a sensitive manner, allowing the reader to sympathize with the main character. Flynn has created a flawed, often unlikable narrator that one can empathize with even as the reader shudders at the life she returns to and teeters on the edge of falling into her own past. Camille, a Chicago reporter fresh off a stint in a mental health facility, is asked to return to her hometown to report on a murder of a young girl. Her relationship with her mother and the death of her…

Reading Stats: The Diabolic
Reading Stats / February 26, 2017

I read The Diabolic in 5 sessions from 27 December 2016 to 02 January 2017.  The book was engaging and I remained moderately faithful (although lower engagement isn’t necessarily the root cause of my readultry.)  My reading pace was steady at about a page per minute.  I’m not a fast reader of fiction as I tend to hear the narrative in my head.  (This may explain why I enjoy audiobooks so much…) If you want to read or return to my review, click the image or here: Review: The Diabolic