Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Tuesday Intro: Bittersweet


The Roommate
Before she loathed me, before she loved me, Genevra Katherine Winslow didn't know that I existed. That's hyperbolic, of course; by February, student housing had required us to share a hot shoe box of a room for nearly six months, so she must have gathered I was a physical reality (if only because I coughed every time she smoked her Kools atop the bunk bed), but until the day Ev asked me to accompany her to Winloch, I was accustomed to her regarding me as she would a hideously upholstered armchair - something in her way, to be utilized when absolutely necessary, but certainly not what she'd have chosen herself.
Bittersweet: A Novel 
by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

"Suspenseful and cinematic, Bittersweet  exposes the gothic underbelly of an idyllic world of privilege and an outsider’s hunger to belong."  Of course this novel landed on my wish list before it was released last spring, and I snapped it up as a kindle daily deal in August... and then forgot about it. I was considering what to read on my upcoming trip to Florida when it appeared on Sarah's recent Top Ten Tuesday post, Books About Wealthy People Behaving Badly. Since we're leaving later today, I picked it up last night. I loved the opening paragraph, as well as the rest of the first chapter, and have a good feeling about this book.

Want to know more? Here is the goodreads summary:
On scholarship at a prestigious East Coast college, ordinary Mabel Dagmar is surprised to befriend her roommate, the beautiful, wild, blue-blooded Genevra Winslow. Ev invites Mabel to spend the summer at Bittersweet, her cottage on the Vermont estate where her family has been holding court for more than a century; it’s the kind of place where children twirl sparklers across the lawn during cocktail hour. Mabel falls in love with midnight skinny-dipping, the wet dog smell that lingers near the yachts, and the moneyed laughter that carries across the still lake while fireworks burst overhead. Before she knows it, she has everything she’s ever wanted: friendship, a boyfriend, access to wealth, and, most of all, for the first time in her life, the sense that she belongs. 
But as Mabel becomes an insider, a terrible discovery leads to shocking violence and reveals what the Winslows may have done to keep their power intact - and what they might do to anyone who threatens them. Mabel must choose: either expose the ugliness surrounding her and face expulsion from paradise, or keep the family’s dark secrets and make Ev’s world her own.
What do you think? Would you continue reading?

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Weekly Update: March 22, 2015

According to the calendar it is officially spring, but when I look out my window it seems more like Christmas... and it's still snowing this morning. I posted this photo on instagram a few days ago with a caption "reindeer games in the back yard".  I really want to see daffodils and tulips, but at this point even a little grass would be a welcome sight!

It was a good reading week though. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins was the right book at the right time. I found it to be entertaining, exciting, enthralling... an impressive debut!

Just past the 50% mark of Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope, I am really loving this book! The story, the characters, and the fabulous narration by Simon Vance (it's a read/listen combination) make this a contender for my favorite book of the first quarter. I'm already thinking ahead to the next #6Barsets book, Dr. Thorne, and am ready to pick up Anthony Trollope by Victoria Glendinning again.

I spent some yesterday perusing A Taste of Upstate New York: The People and the Stories Behind 40 Food Favorites by Chuck D'imperio, a recent acquisition from NetGalley. With so many familiar foods, stories, and memories, this book has been an unexpected treat. There will definitely be a Weekend Cooking post in the near future.

Up next//
I'd like to start a current fiction title in the next couple of days. A Little Life  is a top contender. but may be a little dark or heavy for right now. The Neopolitan Novels Book 2, The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante is also under consideration, as are several recent kindle "daily deal" acquisitions including A Man Called Ove.     

On the blog//
Tuesday Intro: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My Spring Reading List

Later today//
In an hour,  two of my daughters, Zelda (our greyhound), and I will head to Rhinebeck. Twin A's classes begin again tomorrow (this week was way too short) and Zelda will be visiting her for a few weeks. We will have brunch together before Daughter #1 takes the train back to NYC .

This week//
We are going back to Florida! Our driveway needs to be plowed (again), snowbanks are still over 6 feet tall, and the thermometer reads 16 degrees. Maybe spring will come to central New York by late April...

Hope the week ahead is a good one for you.

This post will link to It's Monday, What Are You Reading?  hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

My Spring Reading List

I missed yesterday's Top Ten Tuesday, but still want to share my spring TBR (to be read) list. It's fun to think about reading plans, even if I rarely follow through with them.

by Paula Hawkins
I read the first third of this psychological thriller yesterday - riveting!

by Elena Ferrante
Neopolitan Novels Book 2, I've heard it's even better than the first.

by Thomas Hardy
new film version makes now the perfect time. I may go the audio route.

by Anthony Trollope
The third book in our #6Barsets project. I can't wait!

by Victoria Glendinning
A biography to complement a year-long Trollope project

by Hanya Yanagihara
Sarah and others (everyone, really) rave about this book. A sample is on my kindle.

by Jill Alexander Essbaum
I couldn't get interested during my recent reading slump, but plan to give this another try.

by Eula Biss
I snagged this audible daily deal last week and want to listen soon.

by Ken Follett
I started Book 2 of The Century Trilogy last month, but found my hardcover impossible to hold. I'm ready with an ebook now!

by Lucy Knisley
Purchased recently with a B&N gift card, I haven't read a graphic novel or memoir in ages. 

I'm pretty excited about all of these books. Have you read any of them? What's at the top of your spring reading list?

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Tuesday Intro: The Girl on the Train


FRIDAY, JULY 5, 2013

There is a pile of clothing on the side of the train tracks. Light-blue cloth - a shirt, perhaps - jumbled up with something dirty white. It's probably rubbish, part of a load dumped into the scrubby little wood up the bank. It could have been left behind by the engineers who work this part of the track, they're here often enough. Or it could be something else. My mother used to tell me that I had an overactive imagination; Tom said that, too. I can't help it, I catch sight of these discarded scraps, a dirty T-shirt or a lonesome shoe, and all I can think of is the other shoe and the feet that fitted into them.
The Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train  seems to be the IT book everyone is reading right now. After spending much less time on the hold list than anticipated, I got the ebook from my library over the weekend and read the first chapter before bed last night. I am hooked - this should be a fast, exciting read!

The goodreads summary sounds promising, too:
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost. 
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good? 
A compulsively readable, emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller that draws comparisons to Gone Girl, The Silent Wife, or Before I Go to Sleep, this is an electrifying debut embraced by readers across markets and categories.
What do you think of the opening? Would you continue reading?

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Weekly Update 3/15/25: The Ides of March

After a couple of sunny, springlike days in central New York, winter has returned with a vengeance - snow, cold, and howling winds. In other words, today is a perfect day to grab a cup of coffee, burrow under a favorite blanket or afghan, and read. And that's exactly how I spent my morning.

Current reading//

Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
Part 2 of our #6Barsets Project is underway. I've decided on a print/audio combination again (Simon Vance narration) and am loving this novel.

Finished this week//

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante
I just finished this morning and will definitely continue with the series.

An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine
A wonderful book and outstanding audio performance by Suzanne Toren, but I wish I had read it instead. There were many places I wanted to pause, reread, and think for a moment, but that it difficult to do when listening.

Up next//

My library hold of The Girl on the Train arrived but, after finishing My Brilliant Friend,  I am tempted to immediately move on to the second book in Ferrante's series, The Story of a New Name. Or maybe I'll spend the entire week with Mr. Trollope.

Decisions, decisions...

On the blog//
Tuesday Intro: Barchester Towers  by Anthony Trollope
Review: The Warden  by Anthony Trollope

In the kitchen//
It been a soup kind of week. I made both split pea and baked potato soup last week. Menu planning is next on today's agenda, so I'll have a better idea of what's cooking this week a little later.

On the homefront//
Twin A is home for spring break this week and Daughter #1 will take the train up from NYC on Thursday. I'm looking forward to a full house by the end of the week! There will be an early birthday celebration for the twins and we have a few other family activities planned. I'm not sure how much time will be available for reading and blogging this week.

What are you reading today?

This post will link to It's Monday, What Are You Reading?  hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

Friday, March 13, 2015

#6Barsets Project:The Warden

Check my twitter stream, audible app, or kindle homepage this week and it is immediately obvious that I have Trollope on the brain. Along with Audrey and a few others, I am slowly making my way through the six novels comprising the Barchester Chronicles.

The first leg of this journey, The Warden, was completed at the end of January and I now find myself totally engrossed in Barchester Towers. As I have been extremely lax when it comes to timely book reviews (please don't remind me about Sister Carrie!), I never did share my thoughts on The Warden.

The Warden was actually a reread for me. The first encounter occurred ten or fifteen years ago, and my initial thought this time was to wonder whether it was even the same book. Why didn't I enjoy it as much back then?

I won't go into plot details, but the goodreads summary provides a concise overview and hints at a theme for the entire series:
The first of Trollope’s popular Barsetshire novels, set in the fictional cathedral town of Barchester, The Warden centers on the honorable cleric Septimus Harding, one of Trollope’s most memorable characters. When Harding is accused of mismanaging church funds, his predicament lays bare the complexities of the Victorian world and of nineteenth-century provincial life. And, as Louis Auchincloss observes in his Introduction, “The theme of The Warden presents the kind of social problem that always fascinated Trollope: the inevitable clash of ancient privilege with modern social awareness.
Again, I smiled at character names which rival Dickens (Mrs. Goodenough, Abel Handy, John Bold, Sir Abraham Haphazard), and just plain enjoyed a good story.

This time through, I was struck by the impression that Trollope himself must have been good-natured with a sense of humor. I especially enjoyed the chapter entitled "The Warden's Tea Party". In discussing the party itself, Trollope says:
"The party went off as such parties do. There were fat old ladies, in fine silk dresses, and slim young ladies, in gauzy muslin frocks; old gentlemen stood up with their backs up the empty fire-place, looking by no means so comfortable as they would have done in their own arm-chairs at home; and young gentlemen, rather stiff about the neck, clustered near the door, not as yet sufficiently in courage to attack the muslin frocks, who awaited the battle, drawn up in a semicircular array." 29%
And of the party conversation:
"It is indeed a matter of thankfulness that neither the historian nor the novelist hears all that is said by their heroes or heroines, or how would three volumes or twenty suffice! In the present case so little of this sort have I overheard, that I live in hopes of finishing my work within 300 pages, and of completing that pleasant task - a novel in one volume..." 30%
A Trollope biography is definitely in order! I have acquired a copy of Victoria Glendinning's book and plan to read it slowly over the course of this year.

The Warden is very short (just over 200 pages) and Trollope seems to be laying the groundwork or setting the stage. Of course we are meant to love Mr. Harding, but have I been predisposed to think more kindly of the Archdeacon Dr. Grantly, too?

On to the main event... I am positively loving Barchester Towers.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tuesday Intro: Barchester Towers

Chapter 1
Who Will Be the New Bishop?
In the latter days of July in the year 185––, a most important question was for ten days hourly asked in the cathedral city of Barchester, and answered every hour in various ways—Who was to be the new bishop? 
The death of old Dr. Grantly, who had for many years filled that chair with meek authority, took place exactly as the ministry of Lord –––– was going to give place to that of Lord ––––. The illness of the good old man was long and lingering, and it became at last a matter of intense interest to those concerned whether the new appointment should be made by a conservative or liberal government.
Barchester Towers
by Anthony Trollope

Our #6Barsets Project continues in March/April with the second book in the series, Barchester Towers. I read the first two chapters last night and was delighted when it picked up just a short time after The Warden (which I promise to write about soon) ended.

Here is the blurb from amazon:
Barchester Towers (1857) was the book that made Trollope's reputation and it remains his most popular and enjoyable novel. The arrival of a new bishop in Barchester, accompanied by his formidable wife and ambitious chaplain, Obadiah Slope, sets the town in turmoil as Archdeacon Grantly declares 'War, war, internecine war!' on Bishop Proudie and his supporters. Who will come out on top in the battle between the archdeacon, the bishop, Mr Slope, and Mrs Proudie? 
The livelihood of Mr Harding, the saintly hero of The Warden, is once more under threat but clerical warfare finds itself tangled up in the wayward (and sometimes perverse) desires of the many courtships, seductions, and romances of the book. Who will marry Eleanor Bold? Can any man resist the charms of the exotically beautiful 'La Signora Madeline Vesey Neroni'? Will the oily Mr Slope finally get his comeuppance? John Bowen's introduction examines the literary skill with which Trollope combines comedy and acute social and pyschological observation in this new edition.
I can't wait to continue. Would you keep reading? You're welcome to join us.

Every Tuesday, Diane at Bibliophile by the Sea posts the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book she decided to read based on the opening. Feel free to grab the banner and play along.


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