In the High Peaks

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Black Out by Connie Willis--Another Chunkster!

I am keeping my head above water work-wise, but everything else has drowned. The house is a shambles, but that did not stop me from finishing Cold Earth and starting my latest find, Blackout by Connie Willis, an American sci-fi/historical novelist. (Readers, if you know Willis and I've described her genre incorrectly, please set me straight!) If you follow the "Connie Willis" link, please scroll down below the stupid ads that have been placed in the middle of the article.

I'm so glad I've "discovered" Connie Willis, and I'm sad to say that my befuddled brain does not remember from which blog I found her. I had the chance to begin the book this morning and, although, I'm only on Chapter 3, I'm finding it extremely pleasurable.

First of all, I love novels that focus on World War II in Europe, and I'm especially interested in novels set in wartime Britain. The concept of time travel is fun, especially when it's done from a scientific, intellectual perspective. I don't care at all for books that treat time travel from a fantastical perspective.

Willis is interesting, and I look forward to blogging more about this novel. I was so disappointed I couldn't continue reading it today. Maybe Thursday morning I can really dive in!

Friday, September 17, 2010

A New Book That Tantalizes and Surprises

Maybe this book is grabbing me because I'm fascinated by archaeology, the Viking history in Greenland, and pandemics, but Cold Earth by Sarah Moss has my attention. I'm curious why it's been published by an independent press because it's such a winner.

Jane Smiley commented, "Moss is such a master at evoking suspense...that readers will be tempted to turn to the end of the book to relieve anxieties. Try to control yourself."

It's Friday night, I'm exhausted, and I'm going to leave you with just that smidgin of information. Please do check out the link and see if you can resist a search for Cold Earth.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Checking Out Ana Menendez

This past weekend, including Friday, I've been reading The Last War by Ana Menedez, a Cuban-American writer. To be specific about her heritage, her parents were Cuban emigres who settled in Los Angeles. The Last War is her third novel, set primarily in Istanbul, which she depicts beautifully. I am fascinated by the title of her debut novel:In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd. Her second novel, Loving Che, is her most highly acclaimed piece of fiction (about the Cuban revolutionary, Che Guevara.

In any case, The Last War has nothing not do with Cuba. The narrator is an American photographer, a Latina, married to a wunderkind American journalist. Together, they have covered wars all over the Middle East and in Sri Lanka for the past decade. Yet she doesn't follow Brando to Baghdad during the Iraq War. Something holds her back, and she remains in Istanbul, living a solitary life. Then comes the news, from an anonymous source, that her husband has a lover, and therein lies the tale. I'm two-thirds of the way through, and I must say that there is something that keeps this novel from being complete. Still, I keep reading, waiting to see what will happen and if the narrator will make her stand. She must do so or this novel is pure dust.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes

I said yesterday that I'd post an entry today, but we all need to have low expectations. I'm still incredibly unsettled. But I'm working on it.

After teaching yesterday, I made my way to Crandall Library, my favorite library, in the city of Glens Falls not far from my college. On the "Returns" shelf, I found Volume II of a 3-volume set I want in my home, in the near future, on a permanent basis.

I covet The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, published in 2005 and 2007 by W.W. Norton. Norton is a top-notch publisher of literary gems, so I know the set and the annotations will be excellent. The price is on the back of the dustjacket--$75.00. Is that for just one volume of the set? Hmmm... I will check that out as I set out to acquire both volumes. Anyway, I want to curl up with The Return of Sherlock Holmes and forget everything.

Just checked Amazon. The price for Volume II is $29.16. Buying one volume at a time seems a wise plan.

It's funny, at our local library book sale this summer, the 1967 annotated editions of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, The Hound of the Baskervilles, and a few other choice Holmes titles came up for sale. I marked them way up, and they sold! But, glancing through them, they seemed so outdated to me, the illustrations tawdry, and not anything I'd want to spend money on. So I'm very, very keen on acquiring this 2005 set!

Any Doyle fanciers out there? Hey, this volume could also count as part of my Scottish Literature Challenge!

Katrina, I'm wondering what your Arthur Conan Doyle collection is like...

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

A Bit Here, More Tomorrow!

Ohmigosh. I survived my first days at school this week, but the exertion preempted everything else in my life for three days.

To all my readers, my classes are on Mondays and Wednesdays. I don't think I'll be posting anything BIG on these days of the week.

Yet, today is a Wednesday, and here I am. I have much to share that's book-worthy, but I'm exhausted. (You see, the first few days my anxiety wore me out.) But I can't wait to blog about an incredible book I found yesterday at the library, and some others beside.

Looking forward to tomorrow's post!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

A Quiz about a Particular Reading Habit

As you can see, my autumn header photo needs considerable work! I'm in progress...

Before I wander to the main point of this post, I will say I am so much happier and productive when temperatures are in the low 60s rather than the high 80s. We endured nearly seven full days of 87 degrees F and high humidity. I know many of you have experienced far worse, so feel free to complain here about terrible weather in your neighborhood!

The main point, the primary question of this post? I'd like your input. How many books do you have going right now? That's right, if you're willing, please count them right now, and, if you wish, name the titles.

What prompts you to read multiple books at one time? What motivates you to jump around amongst a number of titles? Please delve deep into the reasons for your behavior.

I'm asking you, my readers, the preceding questions because I hop around between and amongst books, depending on my mood. Sometimes I jump around and around, back and forth, then I fall hard for a book and I won't stray, not for a moment, until I've finished it. I'm experiencing this phenomenon now with Still Missing by Chevy Stevens. It's so compelling that the book demands to be read in one sitting. Of course, real life intervenes and I can't comply, but I plunge back in whenever I have some free moments.

So why do I jump around?

The most pressing reason is because there are so many books I'm yearning to read. How can I sit still reading just one book while so many demand my attention? I must confess I like to be surrounded by piles of books, and, no, I don't read them all, all at once. But usually I have at least two books going, and sometimes three. Oftentimes one of the books is nonfiction and the other fiction. Or, one's a slower-read or a classic, while the other is a gobble-it-up page-turner. So right now I'm hopping between Still Missing and Dragonwyck by Anya Seton. (Scroll down to my previous blog posts for more information about these titles.)

Friday, September 3, 2010

Blogger Hop: Are Book Covers Important to You?

If you'd like to join this weekend's Blogger Hop, please visit Crazy for Books and sign up. I especially enjoy participating when there's a question I'm dying to answer.

Book covers are extremely important to me. I gaze at the dustjacket or cover art repeatedly; indeed, every single time I pick up the book to read it, when I finish a chapter, when I put it down, when I walk by it, or have to move it from one spot to the next. When I have a leisure moment, I actually scrutinize the book cover, studying small details and always looking for something I haven't noticed before. And I can't stand scratches, tears, or dings in the covers of my books. I am extremely careful with them.

At one time, I was terribly disturbed when the cover art had no relationship to the book or when the art indicated the artist had no clue about what the book was about. But I don't find this issue coming up for me as much anymore, with one glaring exception. Is it the types of books I'm reading now, or are publishers making more of an effort to have relevant cover art?

The cover of the new Dr. Zhivago translation is a HUGE disappointment. First of all, who is the primary character of this book? What was his life all about? What's the main theme and premise of this masterpiece? Yes, Lara is a central character, but she was not the sole center of Yuri's life. Is the cover artist trying to make the point that in the book Lara is a brunette and not blonde like Julie Christie in the film? (Just kidding.)

Do you have a favorite book cover or two that you'd like to share? Or covers that nearly ruined a book for you? Leave the title(s), or better yet, give us the URLs in your comment.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Saved from Bureaucratic Mayhem by a Book

Of course, The Book did not prevent me from suffering the fallout of two different sets of bureaucratic mayhem that fell from the sky yesterday. Oh, no. I suffered mightily and tangled with it again today. But last evening, in spite of my wrangling, I managed to sloppily smoosh a supper together, after which I pleaded that I needed to retire to bed immediately with The Book.

I was so nerved up that I read Dragonwyck for several hours without feeling a bit sleepy! Extraordinary! But the process did allow me to gain some temporary distance from the idiocy. Thank you, dear book.

Library Loot: I will mention only one of the two titles that came in for me today. The novel I'll mention tonight is Still Missing by Chevy Stevens, a debut novel published this year by St. Martins Press. Please note, however, the copyright is in the name of Rene Unischewski. Hmmm. Chevy Stevens is a pen name, perhaps? (I wish I could do accent marks with Blogger, as in Rene!) I like the name Rene Unischewski much better, don't you? Lots of character...

In Still Missing, Annie O'Sullivan has been abducted and spent a year held captive in a cabin. Although the blurb does not reveal her getaway, she did escape, because a large part of the book is composed of Annie's monologues about her experience to a therapist.

If you follow my blog, you have probably discerned by now that I enjoy books that have therapists prominently featured. Some of my best friends are therapists. An intriguing, demanding profession.

Still Missing looks to be a lighter read than Dragonwyck and, naturally, I'm tempted to start it tonight.

My Next Post: How many books do you have going at one time? I can't wait to find out from my readers, but I think we'll have to wait until Friday, because I am expected to do the Thursday Evening Farmer's Market and Arts Walk in North Creek tomorrow late afternoon and evening. Frankly, I think it's too hot!!! We were in the high 80s again today, and we will be tomorrow, and is it ever humid! Picture a devout reader wilting. I don't keep well in this weather.