Tag Archives: DNFs

The Sunday Salon: Into the New Year, a DNF Must Fall

Just 13 days into 2013 and I already have my first DNF (did not finish) book of the year. Yay, me.

I’m nothing if not ruthless about abandoning books that aren’t holding my interest. Still, it seems a little soon in the year for this, right?  Looking back in my Salon posts, though, I realized that the same thing happened last January (although not until a bit later in the month).

What makes this DNF sad is that Tiffany Baker’s The Gilly Salt Sisters was a book that I was really looking forward to reading. I absolutely LOVED The Little Giant of Aberdeen County (see my review here) – so much so that I selected it as among my favorite books of 2009.  

The Gilly Salt Sisters is a magical realism novel set in the fictional (and rather depressing-sounding) Cape Cod town of Prospect in 1980. It’s the story of two sisters (Claire and Jo) and their family’s salt marsh. Depending on which sister you believe, the salt has magical powers – although not enough to heal the wounds and hurts from the past.

It starts off engaging enough, but by page 100 (of 372), something more needed to start happening. There’s a lot of backstory in this one. A lot. Which is fine … but I also wasn’t connecting with the characters as much as I’d hoped. So, back to the library it went.

Other than that, this was a fairly productive week in reading. I accompanied The Husband to several doctors’ appointments this week – some of which had several hours of downtime between them – so I needed a quick read on my Kindle that would occupy me. Last month, Jane Freund’s memoir about having thyroid cancer was a freebie on Amazon and since that is exactly what we’re dealing with – and what all the appointments this week were for – I thought Eggshells and Elephants: My Cancer Journey Thus Far would be more than apropos.

That it certainly was – and I’ll have a longer review up at some point – but although I finished this, it left me wanting more. Perhaps this was intentional (the author makes mention of a sequel) but I felt there were aspects of the thyroid cancer journey itself that would have benefited from more explanation or reflection. Instead, there are nearly entire chapters devoted to Freund’s pets and other seemingly extraneous information that, at times, seemed to weigh the writing and the story down.

If you’re my Friend on Facebook, you know that The Husband is in isolation right now for HIS thyroid cancer treatment. In order to kill any possible remaining traces of cancer (he had surgery back in November), he was given radioactive iodine on Thursday and since he’s, well … radioactive, he needs to be quarantined away from us and the cat for an entire week. (I’m envisioning this pill like a haz-mat version of Pac-Man, chomping up all the little cancer cells in its midst.) We have him sequestered in our bedroom (I’m sleeping in the guest room). This all started last Thursday and continues until the 17th. There’s a rather restricted diet involved too. It’s been … interesting, to say the least.

He’s also the kind of spouse who does a LOT around the house (dishes, laundry,  breakfast for the kids, etc.) so I’m definitely feeling the lingering effects of flying solo on that front. To make the housework drudgery easier, I’m listening to The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Sparks on audio.This is the first Muriel Sparks I’ve read/listened to … and I’m really enjoying this classic. Miss Jean Brodie is quite the unconventional schoolteacher at the Marcia Blaine School in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1930, and the story revolves around six girls – her “set” – and their relationship to Miss Brodie. This is a novella, so I anticipate being finished with this sometime this week.

Hope you’re having a great Sunday!

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copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles. If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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The Sunday Salon: What I Didn’t Sign Up For

This Sunday Salon is going to be a bit of a rant. It has been a long week and my brain is fried, thanks to a diet of Disney and Nick shows featuring annoyingly untalented tweenage divas which Boo has been watching nonstop since he has been home sick from camp for two days. (Thankfully, he seems to have made a complete recovery. My brain cells, alas, have not.) 

But running a sick ward is all part and parcel of this parenting gig, and I can deal with that. It comes with the territory and it’s what I signed myself up for more than a decade ago, right?

Right. Even when you’re woken up at 4:20 a.m. with a child getting sick all over your bedroom. 

So what does any of this have to do with my reading week? 

Well, there was this particular book that I simply couldn’t finish this week. It happens to be a book that was out in the winter of 2011 and which was hyped to the heavens by many a blogger, who loved it. It’s a little out of my preferred genres of choice, but I thought I’d give it a try nonetheless.

I lasted until chapter 3 before giving up. The book just wasn’t holding my interest.

I started writing a Sunday Salon post about it. And then I started thinking about the latest brew-haha in the book blogging world, where we have book bloggers being harassed and their personal  information being dug up and posted online just because they had the nerve to give their opinions ON A FREAKING BOOK. 

Now, I don’t know about you, but I have more than enough problems without the possibility of adding that kind of nonsense to the list.

From my understanding of the situation, the bloggers are being targeted because of the style and the manner in which they are reviewing the book/s. I don’t think I fall into that category, as I try to be respectful even if I am giving a negative review. But if we’re at a point where people are being threatened because of how they’re reviewing a book, then I think we’re on a slippery slope that could very well lead to the possibility of people being targeted because they merely didn’t like a beloved book. 

You know what I’m saying? As we too sadly saw on Friday with the tragedy in Colorado, people are unstable in this world and capable of the most atrocious, unfathomable things. There’s no telling what some people will do. 

Maybe I’m being dramatic. Maybe I’m not understanding this whole thing correctly. But no book nor my opinions on it is worth the safety of my family. So for the time being (and maybe indefinitely) you’re not going to hear me say too much (if anything at all, really) about books I don’t like. 

I’ll still tell you about the books I love, like America’s Women: 400 Years of Dolls, Drudges, Helpmates, and Heroines by Gail Collins that I stayed up way too late last night to finally finish. I’ll even tell you about the books I LIKE but not quite love. But at least for the time being, until this craziness in the blogging world calms down (if it does), you won’t be hearing much about the books I didn’t finish or couldn’t stand. (Chances are, they’re the same book.) Somehow, I think the world will live without why I couldn’t finish a book everyone else seems to love but me. If you really want to know the book, hit me up on Facebook or whatever. 

Some may say this isn’t the right stance, that we shouldn’t be silenced, that this is caving, that our opinions and reviews are a matter of free speech, that there is a need for a true and genuine dialogue about books. All true, yes. But when I decided almost four years ago to include my thoughts about books in my blog, I didn’t envision a situation where people would be fearful for their families’ safety because of what they wrote about what they were READING.

There are things we willingly sign up for and things we don’t. And I didn’t sign up for that crap.

copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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The Sunday Salon: June 24

Another week, another book I could not finish.

Last week it was The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides and this week it was The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown. I wonder if this is going to be a trend this summer? If it is, that’s one way to clear out the books on my TBR (to be read) shelves. Both were audios, but even switching over to the print version wasn’t helping in either case, so … back to the library the audiobooks went. (And my print version of The Weird Sisters is going to be donated there, too.)

I just wasn’t very invested in these characters. They felt flat to me and undistinguished from each other. As Florinda said in her review of this, I wish I liked this as much as others did. (Because many a blogger LOVED The Weird Sisters.) 

That’s also not a great way to go into Audiobook Week, which begins tomorrow and is once again being hosted by Jen from Devourer of Books. Like Jen, I’m planning to feature an audiobook review every day this week – I have enough stacked up in my queue of reviews for a rainy day, I think. I’ve been meaning to do a sort of “audiobooks that would be good for a road trip” post for those heading on vacations and whatnot, so hopefully that will suffice. I’m also planning to participate in the daily discussion topics surrounding audiobooks. 

Onto the book I read this week (which was NOT an audiobook, but rather the first e-book I borrowed from our library) and really liked. Emily St. John Mandel has now become One of Those Authors Who I Will Read Anything By. I really liked Last Night in Montreal and her latest novel, The Lola Quartet, kept me riveted to every page. (I haven’t read The Singer’s Gun … yet.) 

This is billed as “literary noir” which sounds mysterious – and it is, for this is much more of a mystery story than I typically read. There’s too much involved to go into here, so that will have to wait until my review. 

It has been awhile since I indulged in a collection of short stories, which I love. There isn’t any real reason for my hiatus from short stories. So, I am remedying that with Natalie Serber’s new collection Shout Her Lovely Name, which I was sent for review consideration by TLC Book Tours. (My review date is July 3.) 

So far, I’m quite pleased. Serber is a new author to me; I wasn’t familiar with her work before reading these 11 stories, but she is a definite talent. The first story, which is also the title story, is among the collection’s best and reminded me of a contemporary style, like Lorrie Moore. (Dan Chaon has a blurb on the back cover saying the same thing.) Even better, there are several stories (Ruby Jewel, Alone As She Felt All Day, Free to a Good Home) that are interconnected – and I absolutely love when that happens.

I’ve been giving serious thought to going on a hiatus from accepting books for review, and I think once I am finished with Shout Her Lovely Name that I just might do that. I’m running out of space on my bookshelves (and there’s still at least one box of books that I haven’t found since our move) which means that I really need to make a concerted effort to read more of my own books – although the Mount TBR Reading Challenge is proving to be good motivation for that. (Which reminds me that there is a check-in post that I need to do for that one.)

So much bookish goodness ahead in the week to come!

copyright 2012, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

Thanks for sharing this post!