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text 2018-05-23 02:29
Summer Reading List 2018
Pete Rose: An American Dilemma - Kostya Kennedy
First Love, Last Rites - Ian McEwan
The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket - Edgar Allan Poe,Richard Kopley
Leviathan - Scott Westerfeld,Keith Thompson
Three Tall Women - Edward Albee
Homegoing - Yaa Gyasi
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Brontë

I'm well behind pace in my reading this year. I always say I "average" a book a week, for 52 or so books a year, but I usually exceed that by a fair margin. This year, I'm quite slow. Only 16 so far - even though at least two were "doorstops."

 

So two weeks ago, when I realized I hadn't even considered my summer reading list, I was worried. But when I finally sat down to compose it, the list came flowing straight out. Easy-peasy, less than an hour's contemplation, for sure.

 

The fact I've been using the same nine categories for years, I'm sure, helps considerably. Three books for each month of summer. Things that make me happy and better-rounded. Plenty of room left for serendipity and other titles. Here goes:

The list.

 

1. A baseball book - "Pete Rose: An American Dilemma" by Kostya Kennedy. Reading a baseball book - fiction or non-fiction - is a summer tradition. Thanks, Casey Awards for the ready-made list. 

 

2. A Michael Chabon book - "Pops: Fatherhood in Pieces." This was both tough and incredibly easy. I've read all of Chabon's books, except some very hard to get screenplays and graphic novels. Luckily, he has a new book out this month. It's an anthology of his magazine essays, in the mode of "Maps and Legends," but it's better than none!

 

3. An Ian McEwan book - "First Love, Last Rites." I've read all of McEwan's recent stuff, so I have to reach way back into the Ian Macabre phase, which I like less, but it needs to be done. At least there's a new McEwan adaptation coming out in theaters soon.

 

4. A Neglected Classic - "The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket," Edgar Allen Poe's only novel. Not one that was really on my radar, but read entry five for more "why." 

 

5. A recent "big" book - "Pym" by Mat Johnson. I have the opportunity to hear Johnson read in June, and I think it's time to read his novel, inspired by Poe's, as listed above. 

 

6. A YA book - "Leviathan" by Scott Westerfeld. A steampunk, World War I revisionist novel? Yes, please. 

 

7. A Play - "Three Tall Women" by Edward Albee. It's in revival on Broadway right now with Laurie Metcalf. You know I won't make it to Manhattan, so I'd better finally read it.

 

8. A Recommendation from a Friend - "Homegoing" by Yaa Gyasi. My friend, Laura, suggested it. She didn't have to suggest very hard, because I was already meaning to read it. And she loaned me her copy!

 

9. The book I didn't read from last year's list - "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" by Anne Bronte. There's one every year. This year's will probably be the Chabon, just because it's new and might be hard to acquire through library means.

 

Well, that's it. I'll post a list on the booklikes list app. Will you read along with me? What's on your list for Summer '18? 

 

-cg

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review 2017-09-05 19:13
King Solomon's Mines / H. Rider Haggard
King Solomon's Mines - H. Rider Haggard

The story begins when renowned safari hunter Allan Quartermain agrees to help Sir Henry Curtis and Captain John Good search for King Solomon’s legendary cache of diamonds. Eager to find out what is true, what is myth, and what is really buried in the darkness of the mines, the tireless adventurers delve into the Sahara’s treacherous Veil of Sand, where they stumble upon a mysterious lost tribe of African warriors. Finding themselves in deadly peril from that country’s cruel king and the evil sorceress who conspires behind his throne, the explorers escape, but what they seek could be the most savage trap of all—the forbidden, impenetrable, and spectacular King Solomon’s Mines.

 

***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***

King Solomon’s Mines is very much a product of its Victorian, colonial times. Don’t go into this book expecting anything else. Allan Quartermain is an unlikely protagonist, an elephant hunter, something that would get him publically shamed on the internet nowadays. This is very much an adventure tale, set in deepest, darkest Africa. White men have no doubt that they are at the very tippy-top of the social hierarchy and have no compunctions about expressing that belief. They believe Africans to be primitive, superstitious, and prefer them subservient. An African may be king in his own lost-kingdom, but must still admit his unworthiness to equality with a ne’er-do-well hunter like Quartermain.

Not recommended for the overly politically correct, but providing many insights into the colonial mindset that still plagues us today. A fantastical adventure in the Victorian style.

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review 2017-09-05 18:31
Shattered / Kevin Hearne
Shattered - Kevin Hearne

Atticus’s apprentice Granuaile is at last a full Druid herself. What’s more, Atticus has defrosted an archdruid long ago frozen in time, a father figure (of sorts) who now goes by the modern equivalent of his old Irish name: Owen Kennedy.

And Owen has some catching up to do.

Atticus takes pleasure in the role reversal, as the student is now the teacher. Between busting Atticus’s chops and trying to fathom a cell phone, Owen must also learn English. For Atticus, the jury’s still out on whether the wily old coot will be an asset in the epic battle with Norse god Loki—or merely a pain in the arse.

But Atticus isn’t the only one with daddy issues. Granuaile faces a great challenge: to exorcise a sorcerer’s spirit that is possessing her father in India. Even with the help of the witch Laksha, Granuaile may be facing a crushing defeat.

As the trio of Druids deals with pestilence-spreading demons, bacon-loving yeti, fierce flying foxes, and frenzied Fae, they’re hoping that this time, three’s a charm.

 

***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***

Best volume of this series so far!!!

I really liked the alternating chapters between Atticus, Granuaile, and Owen. This structure shows, better than any telling, that Atticus has severely underestimated both his partner Granuaile and his archdruid, Owen.

Granuaile gets to adventure on her own, while Atticus and Owen manage to get each other into trouble. Oberon and Orleith are fabulous hound sidekicks. Owen shows that he’s not just a cranky old coot, he’s still got good instincts, even if English isn’t the ideal language to express them in.
I’m getting a bit tired of the ‘dog-pile of gods on Atticus’ plot. Sure, he’s been annoying, but really has anything that he’s done warranted the amount of ill-will that is being expended on him? At least in this book we are back to dealing mostly with the Irish pantheon, which makes sense, but I am really tired of the Loki/Ragnarock plot line which keeps dragging along through so many books now. Says the woman who usually loves the Norse gods in fiction.

Owen steals the show, being completely unfamiliar with 21st century society and providing hilarious perspectives on it, while still showing that human nature hasn’t changed a bit! I used to read this series strictly for Oberon, but he has some competition now!

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review 2017-08-28 22:40
Raven Cursed / Faith Hunter
Raven Cursed - Faith Hunter

The vampires of Asheville, North Carolina, want to establish their own clan, but since they owe loyalty to the Master Vampire of New Orleans they must work out the terms with him. To come up with an equitable solution, he sends an envoy with the best bodyguard blood money can buy: Jane Yellowrock.

But when a group of local campers are attacked by something fanged, Jane goes from escort to investigator. Unless she wants to face a very angry mast vampire, she will have to work overtime to find the killer. It's a good thing she's worth every penny.

 

 

***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***

I'd rather fight an old rogue-vamp in my underwear, with my bare hands, than deal with relationship problems.



Perhaps that’s because Jane’s love life is complicated. That would have to be her Facebook status! She is so busy fleeing from all the men in her life that she allows herself to take the blame for a bunch of things that truly aren’t her fault. But, realistically, that’s what happens when you’re a woman in charge of something—the men involved feel free to blame you for every damn thing that doesn’t go as planned. Jane hasn’t been in charge long enough to learn to throw it right back at them! She’s damn good at her job—despite all the wrenches that keep getting tossed into the works, things work out.

Jane has religious questions in her life that she needs to deal with too. Can she be a Christian of some sort and still practice her Cherokee rites? I think the two are compatible, but its not up to me! I’ll be interested to see where Hunter takes this question in future books.

I’m not nearly as into Rick as Jane is. I can see why she chose him in the beginning—choose the human, right? But now that he’s a were-jaguar-in-waiting, things get complicated. Not to mention Bruiser, hanging around in the background, waiting for Rick to disappear. Is a blood-servant any better than a vampire in the long run? And there are vampires who’d like to be in line to woo our Jane as well. She may tell the people who have a grudge against her to “get in line,” but that applies to her relationships even more!

Always entertaining, lots of action, plenty of emotional ups & downs, I am coming to appreciate Jane Yellowrock a great deal. I can hardly wait to get the next book from the library!

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review 2017-08-25 20:11
Bloodfever / Karen Marie Moning
Bloodfever - Karen Marie Moning

MacKayla Lane’s ordinary life underwent a complete makeover when she landed on Ireland’s shores and was plunged into a world of deadly sorcery and ancient secrets.

In her fight to stay alive, Mac must find the Sinsar Dubh–a million-year-old book of the blackest magic imaginable, which holds the key to power over both the worlds of the Fae and of Man. Pursued by Fae assassins, surrounded by mysterious figures she knows she cannot trust, Mac finds herself torn between two deadly and irresistible men: V’lane, the insatiable Fae who can turn sensual arousal into an obsession for any woman, and the ever-inscrutable Jericho Barrons, a man as alluring as he is mysterious.

For centuries the shadowy realm of the Fae has coexisted with that of humans. Now the walls between the two are coming down, and Mac is the only thing that stands between them.…

 

***2017 Summer Lovin’ Reading List***

So I liked book two quite a bit more than book one—enough to raise my star rating to 3 from 2.5.

MacKayla isn’t quite so fixated on her appearance in the second book, and she is starting to wise-up, something for which I am thankful. I am completely in agreement with her that she has lots of potential friends & enemies, that its hard to tell them apart, but she might as well stick with the ones who are actually helping her. There seem to be plenty who know things who refuse to help.

So, Mac is actually growing as a human being, which helps me like her better. Plus Moning leaves this book with a dreadful cliffhanger! I’ll be moving on to book 3 just to satisfy my curiosity about who did what.

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