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text 2016-08-02 01:28
July Reading Rehash
As Death Draws Near - Anna Lee Huber
The Curse of Tenth Grave - Darynda Jones
Design for Dying - Renee Patrick
A Bed of Scorpions - Judith Flanders
Dear Committee Members - Julie Schumacher
Stephen Fry's Incomplete & Utter History of Classical Music - Tim Lihoreau,Stephen Fry

Even accounting for a handful of short books and one comic, I had a very good month at 24 books read in July.

 

I had one 5-star read this month: As Death Draws Near - Anna Lee Huber  

 

and four 4.5-star reads:

The Curse of Tenth Grave - Darynda Jones 

Design for Dying - Renee Patrick 

A Bed of Scorpions - Judith Flanders 

Dear Committee Members - Julie Schumacher 

 

I didn't rate anything this month below three stars, but my least favourite book this month was Sprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer and my biggest disappointment was How Not to Be A Dick.  Both because personal expectations interfered with reality, not because the books lacked merit.

 

Most of my reading in May and June was heavy on non-fiction, but this month I've read very little.  This is mainly due to the density of the one non-fiction I did get through: Stephen Fry's Incomplete & Utter History of Classical Music; an excellent, informative read that is quite slow going in spite of the constant stream of humour.

 

Hope everyone is pleased with their July reading and may all your August books be ace!  :)

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text 2016-07-22 10:39
Book Haul - July 22nd
Hitler's Art Thief: Hildebrand Gurlitt, the Nazis, and the Looting of Europe's Treasures - Susan Ronald
Lowcountry Book Club - Susan M. Boyer
Magic Stars - Ilona Andrews
Take the Monkey and Run - Laura Morrigan
Dear Committee Members - Julie Schumacher
A Dark and Stormy Murder - Julia Buckley
Dead End Street - Sheila Connolly

My postal haul - mostly pre-orders with a couple of books recommended by BL friends mixed in.  I've already finished and loved one, Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher.  There are so many good ones here it's hard not to blow off my TBR and just start reading these (which of course I'll end up doing).

 

Total new books: 7

Total read books this week: 6

Total physical TBR: 225

 

Hope everyone has a great weekend and good luck to everyone participating in the readathon!

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review 2016-07-22 10:14
Dear Committee Members
Dear Committee Members - Julie Schumacher

Jason Fitger is a beleaguered professor of creative writing and literature at Payne University, a small and not very distinguished liberal arts college in the midwest. His department is facing draconian cuts and squalid quarters, while one floor above them the Economics Department is getting lavishly remodeled offices. His once-promising writing career is in the doldrums, as is his romantic life, in part as the result of his unwise use of his private affairs for his novels.

 

In short, his life is a tale of woe, and the vehicle this droll and inventive novel uses to tell that tale is a series of hilarious letters of recommendation that Fitger is endlessly called upon by his students and colleagues to produce, each one of which is a small masterpiece of high dudgeon, low spirits, and passive-aggressive strategies.

 

If you don't like your novels in epistolary form, skip right past this one - it's a series of letters only from the MC, written over the course of a year, so no dialogue.  

 

If you do like the narrative form, find dry wit and sarcasm hilarious, and have ever spent any amount of time in a university, I recommend this one.  It took me a few dozen pages to work out who the main characters are, but the biting humour was worth it.

 

A bonus half star for surprising me; I spent 3/4 of the book trying to decide if Jason Fitger was more of a man-child, a pompous ass, or a passionate and compassionate advocate for his students. I wasn't expecting much more depth from the book that what I'd gotten so far.  Then the last 25% gave me pause because at the end Schumacher showed me his humanity and left me feeling like someone snuck kale into my berry smoothie.  

 

A quick, hilarious read with a little something to tug at you in the end.  

 

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text 2016-06-22 20:41
Summer Book Bingo Update - 10 Read
Dear Committee Members - Julie Schumacher

This is the cover of the edition of Dear Committee Members that I have - that is not a good cover.  I have no idea what a porcupine has to do with it, either.

 

That means my current card is:

 

 

Sun-Sand-Beach Cover / New Author / 1st in Series / Movie Made / HF

 

Graphic Novel / Pub. This Summer / Comfort Read / Boat-Tent-Cabin / Mt. TBR

 

Romance / Dead Author / Free Space! / Summer Title / Hard Read

 

Planes-Trains-Road Trip / Mystery / Book Bust / Over 400 / Old Fave

 

YA or Kid's / Science Fiction / Read on Vacation / Bad Cover / Fantasy

 

 

And my books read:

 

Sun, Sand, or Beach Cover: The Singer from Memphis, by Gary Corby

New Author: Legacy, by Susan Kay

First Book in a New Series: The Aeronaut's Windlass, by Jim Butcher

Movie Made: Practical Magic, by Alice Hoffman

Historical Fiction: Journey to Munich, by Jacqueline Winspear

Planes, Trains, or Road Trip: Sprig Muslin, by Georgette Heyer

Mystery: Memory in Death, by J.D. Robb

Book Bust or Bummer: An Unwilling Accomplice, by Charles Todd

Bad Cover: Dear Committee Members, by Julie Schumacher

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review 2016-06-22 20:22
Dear Committee Members
Dear Committee Members - Julie Schumacher

As the title might suggest, this is an epistolary novel, told in the form of letters from a harried professor of English and creative writing at a mid-level liberal arts college in the U.S. mid-west.

 

Many are letters of recommendation for current or former students, whom he remembers to varying degrees (not to mention recommends to varying degrees).  Others are addressed to ex-wife or ex-girlfriend (both at the university), his literary agent, his department chair (a sociologist), or the university.  (Big beefs include the English department's lack of budget for practically anything - including hiring to replace, IT support, or student stipends - and particularly the issue of building renovation.  The building is shared by English and economics.  It is being renovated, complete with various leaks, collapses, and asbestos particles - the economists have been moved elsewhere, while the English faculty must remain in the squalor.)

 

I found this an amusing read, particularly as I grew up around academic departments - my parents are English professors - and many of these details ring true, but made funnier, here.  (For example, I can remember when one local English department was gifted with a new department chairman - a professor of agriculture - and another that was not allowed to make phone calls, due to a budget crisis.)  I'm not sure how funny it would be to someone who doesn't have that kind of background, however.

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