Tag Archives: R.I.P. Challenge

sunday salon: october

 

“…and who, after all these centuries, can describe the fineness of an autumn day? One might pretend never to have seen one before, or, to more purpose, that there would never be another like it. The clear and searching sweep of sun on the lawns was like a climax of the year’s lights.”

~ “The Brigadier and the Golf Widow” by John Cheever

October — now, already. With the turn of the calendar page, we’ve been thrown a bit too quickly into fall, it seems. I broke out the turtlenecks this week and on Friday, a coat was definitely needed in the morning as I set out for work. Yet, yesterday’s rains (remnants of Joaquin, maybe) have yielded to a crisp day that hints at the slightly warmer temperatures to come this week.

California Dreamin’ 
I was resenting last week’s seasonal change a bit more than usual because three months ago, we had booked a trip to San Diego — just me and The Husband. We had talked about the possibility of this trip for awhile. Had this actually occurred, we would have been in California last week – missing the dreary rain and autumn chill that besot Pittsburgh. All the reminders of that trip over the last few days shouldn’t have bummed me out as much as it did — not to mention, made me as cranky — but, dammit, I really wanted to be there and we should have been there. Yeah, yeah, yeah, everything happens for a reason and all that bullshit, I know, and as these things go, such a trip would have been difficult (if not impossible) with all that’s happening on the homefront … but that doesn’t make me any less disappointed.

Anticipatin’
There are several fun things to look forward to during this month, however, so I’m trying to concentrate on those instead of wallowing in my woulda-coulda-shoulda pity party.  On Thursday evening, Rainbow Rowell will be at the library for a kids and teens event and my girl is beyond excited about this (she loves Rainbow Rowell). I actually haven’t read any of her books, but I know a lot of bloggers rave about her novels.

Then, on October 21, guess who’s coming to the library? Margaret Atwood! I cannot wait for this. Tickets sold out in less than seven hours. I only wish I could find my copy of The Handmaid’s Tale (which I think is one of the best books in the history of the written word). I might have to buy another one for Margaret Atwood to sign. We’re limited to two books per person for the book signing portion, which I understand, but still.  I think we get a signed copy of The Heart Goes Last with our ticket price.

Readin’
The MiniaturistYesterday I finished The Miniaturist, which I think has one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve ever seen.  This debut novel by Jessie Burton is set in Amsterdam, in 1686. Petronella (who goes by Nella) is 18 when she marries a wealthy merchant named Johannes Brandt. After moving into his mansion, Nella quickly learns that this is a household full of secrets. Even more puzzling are the miniatures that are sent to Nella to furnish a dollhouse — an exact replica of their home — that Johannes has given her as a wedding gift. The items are very specific and tend to be messages about future events.

I read this as a selection for R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril X (RIP X).  I’ll have more to say on this one in a future post, but suffice it to say that I really liked it. There have been comparisons to Sarah Waters, and I can definitely see that.

Tonight I’m hoping to start Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. I am a huge fan of hers; I’ve read all of her books and love every single one of them — which is not something I can say about many writers (usually there’s a dud or two in the mix). It’s #7 or something on the New York Times bestseller list and my copy is due back to the library on Wednesday with no renews, so I need to read this fast (won’t be a problem, methinks).

Listenin’
Because I’m listening to more podcasts these days, my audiobook consumption has kind of suffered. My solution? Listening to short story collections. That way, if there are several podcasts that have caught my interest and I go a day between listening to a book, I’m not hopelessly lost.

The John Cheever Audio CollectionI spotted The John Cheever Audio Collection at the library and decided to try his stories.  This is where I confess that I’ve never read any John Cheever, which is something I think I should have done by now. Someone who loves short stories as much as I do really should have some familiarity with Cheever.

The narration is key to this collection of 12 stories. Meryl Streep is brilliant on “The Enormous Radio” (how could she not be?) but that doesn’t take away from this being one of the best stories in the bunch. “The Five Thirty Eight” is another great offering. These stories evoke another time — a simpler world — which is why I’m enjoying them. I’ll probably wind up reading some others in print — although I’m not sure if Cheever will wind up on my favorite authors list.  I’m only halfway through this audiobook, so we shall see.

Hope all is well in your world (reading and otherwise) as we begin this new month.

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a few things i’m doing

This thing called Life is kickin’ our collective asses around here lately. Maybe I’ll be able to write about it sometime, but for right now, in the midst of the muck, there are a few things I need to keep off the blog.  In between the hits, though, I’m finding myself in need of a few distractions … which, as we know, is the reason why we have The Internet.

Fortunately, all kinds of cool things are happening in the online world this fall.  Here’s what I’m doing to try and forget about Life for awhile.

Autumn-2015-Pin-it-and-Do-it-Challenge

My blogging friend Trish of Love, Laughter and (a touch of) Insanity is bringing back her fun Pin It and Do It Challenge for September and October. For whatever reason, I’ve recently re-discovered Pinterest, and this challenge will be a little kick in the pants for me to do some projects, try some new recipes, make some blog improvements and who knows what else.  Go to Trish’s blog for the official sign up, follow me on Pinterest, and have fun pinning and doing.

Bloggiesta-F15

Speaking of blog improvements and whatnot, look what starts today – besides the first day of the planet Mercury losing its collective shit AGAIN and spinning the hell out of control in retrograde, that is. (Because, you know, I really need THAT nonsense right now.)  Bloggiesta is back, baby, and the Fall 2015 edition is happening now.

I really like this multi-day Bloggiesta format. I’m hoping to use this go-around to take care of a few housekeeping duties here on the blog. Not quite sure what, exactly, as a lot depends on how the week goes. I’m supposed to write an official Bloggiesta to do list as part of my participation post (which I guess this is), so we’ll keep it the same as all the other Bloggiestas I’ve done:

1) catch up on book reviews (and other posts) and
2) update the Book Reviews page here on the blog.

RIP X - 2015

image used with permission, property of Abigail Larson.

It’s September, and that means the return of the book blogging community’s beloved R.I.P. Reading Challenge. Short for R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril, this annual challenge created by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings is being hosted this year – the 10th! – by the wonderful Andi and Heather of The Estella Society. You can find all the R.I.P. details here.  I’m planning to participate in Peril the Second which means I’ll be reading two books of any length that fit within the R.I.P. categories (that includes mystery, suspense, horror, thriller, gothic, dark fantasy, supernatural types of reads and the like).

ripnineperilsecond

ripnineperilshort

I’m not sure what books I’ll be reading for this year’s R.I.P. This might be one of those years where I make it up as we go.  Right now, I’m in the midst of The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton, which seems to qualify. It definitely has the suspenseful, creepy factor. And I haven’t ruled out doing Peril the Short Story either because I am all about the short stories, yo.

Finally, thanks to the magic of Coursera and FutureLearn, I’m enrolled in four MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) right now:

Plagues, Witches and War: The World of Historical Fiction through the University of Virginia;
William Wordsworth: Poetry, People and Place through Lancaster University, in the UK;
Modern and Contemporary American Poetry (known as ModPo, for short), with the University of Pennsylvania.
Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance (with Monash University and which started on Monday but I haven’t shown up for class yet).

Like everything else, I’ll find my way there, albeit with a few side trips en route.

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The Sunday Salon: Bookin’ It Through Fall

The Sunday Salon

We’re kickin’ off the first official day of football season, which in this house is akin to a national holiday.  NFL GameDay Morning started us off promptly at 9 a.m., and we’re watching the Steelers-Browns with the sound muted while listening to the Eagles-Jaguars game on SiriusXM. I’m bedecked in my black and yellow; The Husband is in his Eagles’ jersey. Here in the ‘Burgh, it’s a gorgeous Sunday weather-wise and the start of football season also marks, for me, the unofficial beginning of fall. I love this season.

Maybe it’s just me, but fall always seems to herald the best book events – both in-person and reading challenges in in the book blogging world. I swore off challenges almost three years ago now, but every once in awhile I can’t resist joining one or two … or three. Here are just a few bookish events, challenges, and readalongs that I hope you’ll join me in participating in:

The Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2014  shortlist will be announced this Tuesday, September 9 and I’m eagerly anticipating which of the 13 books move forward. I’d love to see History of the Rain by Niall Williams make it to this next round and win the whole thing, because I loved it so much. ‘Course, it’s the only one of the Booker longlist mentions that I’ve read, so that makes it my personal favorite.

Orfeo by Richard Powers is in my TBR pile beside the bed and I’d hoped to have gotten to that – and several others – by this point too, but that hasn’t happened. This longlist looks really good this year.

sparrow-Readalong

The Sparrow Readalong
Throughout September, Trish of Love, Laughter, and a Touch of Insanity is hosting a readalong of The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell.  I’ve had this on my Goodreads “to-read” list forever and on my actual bookshelf for several years. I’m looking forward to participating in this.

RIP 2014

R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril IX
If it’s September, it’s time for R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril, one of the best reading challenges in the blogosphere. And I say that as someone who isn’t usually a devotee of the mystery, suspense, horror, thriller, gothic, dark fantasy, supernatural types of reads that R.I.P. focuses on. I love this challenge hosted by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings (his introduction to this annual challenge, now in it’s 9th (!!!) year, is always a fun read in and of itself).

ripnineperilsecond

ripnineperilshort

There are several R.I.P. IX levels and I’m planning to participate at Peril the Second (Read two books of any length that you believe fit within the R.I.P. categories) and Peril of the Short Story (which is self-explanatory … to read short stories that fit the categories). 

A More Diverse Universe 2014

A More Diverse Universe
Between September 14-27, Aarti from BookLust is hosting A More Diverse Universe to encourage reading at least one book written by a person of color.  Aarti writes, “None of us lives in a monochromatic world, and yet the fact that terrifying hate crimes still occur makes it clear that we do not fully understand or trust each other.  And maybe part of the reason is because the media we consume does not accurately reflect the diversity of our society.  And books are such a massive part of the media we consume that we should demand and fight for those that do represent minorities and those that do present the world from a different perspective than the one we are used to.  So please – participate.  You may just discover a character or an author or a setting or a story that will completely change your life.”

This is not hard to do. Aarti makes this easy, giving links to book suggestions right on the #Diversiverse introductory sign-up post.

How about you? Are you looking forward to or participating in any of these events this September? If so, what are you reading?

 

 

 

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The Sunday Salon: Catching Up

The Sunday Salon

Contrary to how things may seem around here lately, I’m still here. Still reading. Still blogging.

(Assuming that writing blog posts in one’s head counts as blogging.)

I hear you laughing and snickering under your breath. I know what you’re thinking, that it takes some nerve to state this in a Sunday Salon post, of all things. My last appearance here in the Salon was nearly two months ago, back on September 1.

All this is because my new job is keeping me very busy – which is a very good thing. There’s a lot to learn and it’s an adjustment getting used to so many new things – everything from a new commute (as compared to a commute to the downstairs home office) to a new work culture.

That leaves little time and energy for blogging and – sadly – reading – but I’m hoping this will be temporary. It’s also more than a bit ironic as my job puts me within mere steps of more than five million books and other materials just waiting to be checked out and read. Talk about enabling. I go to a meeting and I come back with three books. It’s an occupational hazard. But from where I sit, it’s all good.

So I thought I’d use this week’s Sunday Salon to catch up on what I’ve been reading and listening to (audiobooks have once again become my BFFs) over the past month:

Maybe it’s the influence of the R.I.P. (Readers Imbibing Peril) Challenge (which I haven’t even officially signed up for yet, so … well, consider this my official sign up announcement!) or the very autumn/winter-like weather here in Pittsburgh this past week, or kids that have been talking about Halloween since the Fourth of July, but I seem to be gravitating to books that stray toward the spookier side of life. This is somewhat uncharacteristic of me. Books that go bump in the night are not my usual fare, but that’s what I’ve been immersed in.

Await Your Reply

On audio, I’m listening to Dan Chaon’s Await Your Reply (2010). I’ve heard a lot of good things about Mr. Chaon’s writing from other bloggers, but up until now, I’ve never read him. I chose this one from the library knowing nothing about this novel – which is actually three interconnecting stories. (I actually thought I had this on my TBR shelves, and thought that listening to it would help knock off at least one book from my ever-growing pile.) The opening story contains what may be the most gruesome scene I’ve ever read – or, in this case, listened to.

This is creepy. A bit unsettling, to say the least. Each of Mr. Chaon’s characters are struggling to come to terms with who they are, making this a suspenseful novel about identity.

Andrew Carnegie

When Await Your Reply becomes a bit too intense, I turn my attentions to Andrew Carnegie (2007). Actually, Carnegie has been my primary audiobook lately and the one I’ve been spending most of my time with. Some of you know why this would be of particular interest to me right now and, as I expected, this hasn’t disappointed. David Nasaw has written a fantastic historical account of one of business and philanthropy’s most intriguing figures. I’ll admit that some of the business deals are a bit over my head and that the personal aspects are more interesting.

A bonus to reading this: when I finish with Andrew Carnegie, this will mark a milestone for The Husband and me. We will have read the same book! (To fully understand what I’m talking about, read my February 2011 guest post for my friend Florinda’s blog, “Melissa’s Marriage of Readers: To Have and To Hold …The Same Book?“)  I honestly never thought I’d see the day.

The Impossible Lives of Greta WellsLast night I started The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells (2013) by Andrew Sean Greer, who has landed among my automatic must-read authors. I loved The Story of a Marriage and The Confessions of Max Tivoli and have been looking forward to this for awhile. I didn’t realize there was an AIDS storyline to this one. I seem to be drawn to this theme (yes, I see you, my beloved unfinished novel of mine) whether I like it or not.

Today’s a low-key day, which is just what I needed. Yesterday was a bunch of errands – Halloween costume shopping, grocery shopping, taking the daughter to a gymnastics event that lasted until 10 p.m – so I skipped church today in favor of sleeping in. We’re just hanging out doing our thing and watching football. I’m hoping to write/schedule some blog posts in advance and also make some dinners for the week ahead.

Hope you’re having a good weekend!

 

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