Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tuesday Intro: On Immunity

The first story I ever heard about immunity was told to me by my father, a doctor, when I was very young. It was the myth of Achilles, whose mother tried to make him immortal. She burned away his mortality with fire, in one telling of the story, and Achilles was left impervious to injury everywhere except his heal, where a poisoned arrow would eventually wound and kill him. In another telling, the infant Achilles was immersed in the River Styx, the river that divides the world from the underworld. His mother held her baby by the heel to dip him in the water, leaving, again, one fatal vulnerability.
On Immunity: An Innoculation
by Eula Biss
narrated by Tamara Marston

The subject of immunization is certainly timely and, as a pharmacist and a mother, I find it to be quite interesting, too. On Immunity  caught my attention during Nonfiction November and I grabbed the audio version a few weeks ago when it was an audible daily deal. I listened to the beginning yesterday and it sounds promising.

Here's the publisher's summary:
Upon becoming a new mother, Eula Biss addresses a chronic condition of fear - fear of the government, the medical establishment, and what is in your child's air, food, mattress, medicine, and vaccines. She finds that you cannot immunize your child, or yourself, from the world. 
In this bold, fascinating book, Biss investigates the metaphors and myths surrounding our conception of immunity and its implications for the individual and the social body. As she hears more and more fears about vaccines, Biss researches what they mean for her own child, her immediate community, America, and the world, both historically and in the present moment. She extends a conversation with other mothers to meditations on Voltaire's Candide, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, Susan Sontag's AIDS and Its Metaphors, and beyond. On Immunity is a moving account of how we are all interconnected - our bodies and our fates.
What do you think? Would you read (or listen to) more?

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 29, 2015

Weekly Update 3/29/15: Palm Sunday

Was this week really only seven days long?  Can it be just last Sunday I drove the girls and Zelda (our greyhound) back to college and the NYC-bound train? We also dealt with issues related to ice dams (unfortunately more repairs are needed later this spring), closed up the house, and headed back to Florida.

We settled in again, restocked the refrigerator, resumed daily beach walks and bike rides, spent time with my FIL, enjoyed an afternoon with old friends and an evening with friends from home we rarely have an opportunity to see.... Overall, a great week!

On the reading front... I finished my first 5-star book of the year! Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope, the second book in both the Barsetshire Chronicles and our #6Barsets project has also earned a place on my goodreads favorites shelf. My inclination is to begin the third installment, Doctor Thorne, immediately, but I will exercise some restraint and wait until May.

In the meantime, my current book is Bittersweet: A Novel by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore. It's an absorbing tale of wealth, privilege, secrets, and a summer estate/family compound in Vermont. It didn't get much buzz when it was released last spring, but hopefully next month's paperback release will give it a literary second chance. This is my kind of vacation book!

On audio... Barchester Towers  was a read/listen combination and I haven't quite settled into my next audiobook. I started the nonfiction title On Immunity: An Innoculation by Eula Biss, but was also craving another classic.

Care came to my rescue! I'd planned on reading/listening to Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy before the new film is released, and Care introduced me to the wonders of audible's OneBook feature. It allows a member to share up to ten books from their library with ten different people. It's okay if those ten people are already audible members, too. You can receive only one shared book and I was thrilled to receive this download of Hardy's novel. I listened to the first couple of chapters this morning on my walk. Can't wait to explore this feature!

As for blogging, this week was a complete fail. My only post was the Tuesday Intro for Bittersweet. I missed Bloggiesta entirely and Trish's wildly successful A Day in the Life event, too. Sigh.

Plans for this week... A trip to the Everglades is on the agenda. We're thinking of Shark Valley near Miami and possibly on to Homestead and the Anhinga Trail. Beach walks. Bike rides. Reading. Not sure about blogging yet.

Hope it's a good week for you, too!

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

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.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Weekly Update: 3/8/15 #Flashreadathon

Good morning from the Great White North! Our two months in Florida passed in a heartbeat and now we're back home surrounded by mountains upon mountains of snow. Although total accumulation is not much above normal, temperatures have been far below normal. As a result, the midwinter thaw we all count on never materialized. Now the view is mostly white, deer have eaten every exposed tree and shrub, intersections are a nightmare, and the lake could easily remain frozen until May. It's good to be home ;-)

What Am I Reading?

To be truthful, not very much at all. After an awful slump in February, I decided to put everything aside and take a short break. This weekend's Flash Readathon (#flashreadathon) orchestrated by Heather and Monika has made it easy for me to begin again.

Yesterday I returned to My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante and made it to the halfway mark. This is the first in a series of three novels, and it's rumored that the fourth installment is on the way. I doubt I'll be able to finish the book today, but still plan to set aside an hour or two for reading this afternoon.

What's Up Next?

A return to Barsetshire! I'll continue our #6Barsets project by beginning Trollope's Barchester Towers. It is already loaded on my kindle and the audio version narrated by Simon Vance is on my phone. I hope to begin by the end of the week.

And on Audio...

I'm nearly done with An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine. This is a wonderful novel and the narration is superb, but I may have made the wrong choice in listening. There are so many sentences and passages I want to reread or savor...

On the Blog
Not much. The only thing I posted last week was a few final Sanibel Scenes.

Later Today
Grocery shopping (the cupboards are bare), dinner with my parents and siblings, and a little more reading. Sadly, no more Downton Abbey for another year.

So it's back to the old routine for me this week. What do you have planned?

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

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Sanibel Scenes

Sea Fog

Dolphin Sighting

At the Beach

We head home on Friday... I'll catch up with you this weekend.


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