Good morning, all; hope everyone’s weekend is off to a great start.
I did an awful lot of those weekly memes/challenges/whatever the heck you call them this week. And I started feeling like kind of a slacker as a result. I love all the connections I’ve made with other book bloggers because of them, and they’re a great way to keep my blog active when I don’t have a lot of time to post.
I’m in the journalism biz, so I feel as if a lot of my creative energy is sapped by the rules I follow in writing for a living. I started noticing this problem back in college, between classwork and campus newspaper assignments – but I was angsty enough in my twenties that I could still crank out some pretty epic freestyle poetry. I unfortunately feel most creative when I’m in a funk. But I can’t remember the last time the poetry bug bit me.
Actually, I can, and the result was pathetic.
These days, I find myself channeling my best creativity through newspaper columns (it’s not often that I have time or ideas necessary to write them) and book reviews. The latter outlet is what inspired me to start this blog, so there’s that.
Now to the point of today’s post …
Being a poor journalist who is married to another poor journalist, trying to sock away as much money as we can so we’re financially prepared to handle the unknowns and live out our dreams, there’s not a lot in the budget for book purchases.
I see so many fellow book bloggers proudly displaying their monthly “hauls” of new releases. That’s not a reality in my world, although a friend of mine has found a somewhat economical way to access the latest and greatest titles through Book of the Month. Perhaps eventually I can justify spending a little bit each month on something like this, but for now I find new or new-to-me reads where I can get them at little or no cost.
One source that’s brought me modest success is the Goodreads Giveaway program. I seem to win something at least every month or two. My friends are baffled by this. They also give me a lot of crap for it.
If you’ve been on my Goodreads profile and noticed that I have over 1,100 TBRs, chalk it up to all the giveaways I’ve entered and not to overachiever syndrome. If I don’t win a book the first time I try for it, Goodreads sends me an email to let me know it’s being given away again.
(Geez, Goodreads. You’re such an enabler.)
There’s really no secret to winning them. I just throw my hat in the ring for any book that looks remotely interesting. A couple of times, I’ve signed up for giveaways if I thought the book might be of interest to a friend or family member.
Here’s what I’ve won so far since my first successful attempt several months ago:
Read from June 15 to 21
Before I could read this one, I had to read its predecessor, “The Kitchen House.” So I had no trouble following “Glory Over Everything” when I picked it up next.
For those of you who have yet to read “The Kitchen House,” there may be spoilers ahead.
I started “Glory Over Everything” expecting a similar style of storyline, so it took me a few chapters to realize that it’s not written in sequential order of events. Most of the chapters are written in the voice of James, (Lavinia and Marshall’s son), and Pan (James’ young servant), but occasionally we hear from other characters. I liked those additional perspectives, whereas “The Kitchen House” was written only from the perspectives of Lavinia and Belle.
We also get a glimpse into the inner workings of the Underground Railroad – a subject that has long been of interest to me.
I really hope another sequel is in the works, because I have an important question: With Rankin out of the way, will James try to make it back to Tall Oaks to see his mother and half-sister? … 5/5 stars
Read from July 8 to 10
Evie’s plight is no different from that of many teen girls: She doesn’t really fit in anywhere and longs to escape what feels like a mediocre existence. Like the other girls drawn into the fictional cult modeled after Charles Manson and his followers, she wants to belong somewhere, and she is hungry for some excitement in her life. In the end, she’s
left feeling emptier than before, and is carrying a horrific secret, to boot.
The book is broken into four parts, each one opening in the present day when Evie meets a teen girl who seems like a reflection of herself. We see a maternal side of Evie, who perhaps believes she has a chance to redeem both herself and the girl.
This is the type of book that settles in the bones and remains long after the last page. A book full of complicated relationships. The contrast between the ranch and the comparatively tidy life Evie can’t fully leave behind is jarring and vivid.
All in all, I believe this debut novel lives up to the hype. I look forward to reading more of Emma Cline’s work … 5/5 stars
OK, so I realize it might be a no-no to receive an ARC and then turn around and give it to someone else whom you know isn’t going to review it. But I saw this book and couldn’t resist entering the giveaway in hopes that I could win it for my dad. He is a lover of all things historical.
I also didn’t realize until this book arrived in the mail that it’s for “younger readers.” So I was a little embarrassed when I gave it to my dad, but he didn’t care. He seemed to enjoy it regardless.
Next week our local historical society is putting on its annual dinner, and the program is on Buffalo Bill. I think my dad really wants to go, but he’ll be out on the road that day (he’s an over-the-road trucker).
I can’t personally vouch for this book, but the handful of reviews it’s gotten on Goodreads are for the most part positive.
Everyone knows the name of Buffalo Bill, but few these days know what he did or, in some cases, didn’t do. Was he a Pony Express rider? Did he ride with Wild Bill Hickok? Did he “scalp” countless Native Americans, or did he defend their rights?
This, the first significant biography of Buffalo Bill Cody for younger readers in many years, explains it all. With copious archival illustrations and a handsome design, PRESENTING BUFFALO BILL makes the great showman—perhaps our first true global superstar—come alive for new generations.
Read from Sept. 2 to 4
I thought it was a very nice touch that the author of this book was kind enough to enclose a personal note. Then again, she seems like more of a self-publishing type, but still.
I have to say up front that I was skeptical when I learned that the author of this book is a paranormal investigator. I believe that dabbling in the paranormal is a dang
erous and ill-advised pursuit, and I don’t appreciate the way that old asylums have been turned into haunted houses and ghost-hunting playgrounds.
However, I wanted to read this book because of my vested interest in mental illness and how far we’ve come over the years in understanding and treating it. I appreciated that the author devoted very little of her writing to stories of Rhoda Derry speaking from the grave and tugging on people’s pantlegs.
I was intrigued to learn that Rhoda was raised less than an hour away from the town where I live. I have passed through Lima many times on my way to Quincy. My heart breaks for this poor woman, and I wish Dr. George Zeller were alive today so I could thank him for treating Rhoda and other mentally-ill people with compassion and dignity.
In that vein, I found this book to be very eye-opening and informative. Some of the information was a bit repetitive, however.
Also, as much as I appreciated Ms. Shults’ candid tribute to her mother’s troubled life, it didn’t seem to fit very well into this book. I think it really deserves its own book, rather than being sandwiched into the story of another woman with mental illness. Regardless of how the author tried to draw parallels between the lives of Rhoda and Dorothy, it just didn’t work for me.
All in all, “44 Years in Darkness” appears to be well researched and thorough, and was an interesting read … 4/5 stars
Read from Sept. 4 to 10
See my #FridayBookShare about “Closed Casket” here.
Sophie Hannah is doing a satisfactory job of reviving Agatha Christie‘s Hercule Poirot character. This examination of a murder seemingly fueled by jealousy is intricately woven, and the outcome is not at all as it appears on the surface.
There were moments where the wealth of information and silly banter between the characters tried my patience, but I’m glad to report it wasn’t all for naught. Some of the most telling clues are hidden therein …
Started reading Oct. 3
See my WWW Wednesday thoughts on “If” here.
I’ve got about 100 pages left to read, and I am highlighting the heck out of this thing. It’s so good! I’ll be loaning it to my mom next, and am interested in checking out the corresponding study book.
One reviewer complained that Batterson uses too many illustrations to drive his points home. Hello … he’s a pastor. That’s kind of what pastors do. Plus, I don’t mind all the illustrations, myself. I find them very helpful. Different strokes for different folks, though, right?
As I mentioned on Wednesday, “The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir” is next on my TBR list. I was having a rough day Monday, and seeing this book bundled up on my doorstep was a bright spot.
“Just because the men have gone to war, why do we have to close the choir? And precisely when we need it most!”
As England enters World War II’s dark early days, spirited music professor Primrose Trent, recently arrived to the village of Chilbury, emboldens the women of the town to defy the Vicar’s stuffy edict to shutter the church’s choir in the absence of men and instead “carry on singing.” Resurrecting themselves as “The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir,” the women of this small village soon use their joint song to lift up themselves, and the community, as the war tears through their lives.
Told through letters and journals, THE CHILBURY LADIES’ CHOIR moves seamlessly from budding romances to village intrigues to heartbreaking matters of life and death. As we come to know the struggles of the charismatic members of this unforgettable outfit – a timid widow worried over her son at the front; the town beauty drawn to a rakish artist; her younger sister nursing an impossible crush and dabbling in politics she doesn’t understand; a young Jewish refugee hiding secrets about her family, and a conniving midwife plotting to outrun her seedy past – we come to see how the strength each finds in the choir’s collective voice reverberates in her individual life. In turns funny, charming and heart-wrenching, this lovingly executed ensemble novel will charm and inspire, illuminating the true spirit of the women on the homefront, in a village of indomitable spirit, at the dawn of a most terrible conflict.”
That’s it so far! Now I’m heading to the office for a bit, hitting the gym afterward, then attending the readthrough of a radio theater production our community theater group is putting on in December. I’ve been cast as Mary in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and I’m really excited about it!
Who else out there is a giveaway addict? What books have you won?
Were they any good?
(Note: If anything in this post looks wonky, it’s because I had formatting issues for dayssss. Gah.)