Sunday, July 30, 2017

And just like that, it's the end of July...



July 30th... already. In a couple of days it will be August and here I am posting for the first time in weeks. I didn't mean to disappear for so long, but it's been quite a month: our 4th of July celebration, helping a family member with a medical issue, a trip to Sanibel for my father-in-law's 90th birthday, and my husband's retirement last week. There's been no time to blog, but I have been reading.


For book club//

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Had it not been a book club selection, I might have abandoned this audiobook. I'm glad I persevered (with increased narration speed) because around the 40% mark, it finally started to grow on me (pun intended) and I ended up enjoying it - especially the life of a scientist/academic aspect. Jahren's personal story was not quite as interesting to me.

My book club's reaction was positive overall, but it's interesting to note that the two of us who listened both struggled. This got me thinking about the unavoidable subjectivity of audiobook ratings. With nearly 1500 ratings, Lab Girl (narrated by the author) averages 4.4 stars... I am clearly out of step. Perhaps I might have enjoyed this more in print.



For Paris in July//

The People in the Photo by Hélène Gestern

An unexpected treasure! The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain was going to be my only book for Paris in July, but goodreads suggested I might enjoy this "dark yet touching drama which deftly explores the themes of blame and forgiveness, identity and love."

Once I picked up the book, I could not put it down. In it, a young woman seeks information about the mother she can barely remember (she died in an accident when her daughter was very young) and about whom her father and stepmother have never spoken.This debut novel, translated from French and winner of multiple literary awards, is mostly epistolary. It consists of letters and emails between two intelligent and extreme articulate people, along with several detailed descriptions of photographs.
"I asked myself what it is that forms the truth of a person, what happens when you grow up without memories, who were those people who had known me and of whom I knew nothing, whether some part of them - a word, an image, a smell - had stayed with me."
This will surely be a favorite of 2017.





Nagasaki by Éric Faye

Translated from French, winner of the 2010 Académie Française award, set in modern-day Japan, and based on a true story, I decided to take a chance on another goodreads recommendation. Publisher's summary:
In a house on a suburban street in Nagasaki, meteorologist Shimura Kobo lives quietly on his own. Or so he believes. Food begins to go missing. Perturbed by this threat to his orderly life, Shimura sets up a webcam to monitor his home.
But though eager to identify his intruder, is Shimura really prepared for what the camera will reveal?
Skillfully narrated by David Timson and Anna Bentinck, this was a short (just over 2 hours), slightly out of the ordinary, listening experience.




For the Jane Austen Read All-a-long//


Sense and Sensibilty by Jane Austen

What can I say? Jane Austen is a favorite and Sense and Sensibility is every bit as wonderful the second (or third, or fourth...) time around. Rereading Jane is always a treat.


Just because//




The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe

It can't be summer without a beach book, right? This one had everything I was looking for... family secrets, drama, love, a beach house, a hurricane, a South Carolina island setting, and even loggerhead turtles. It's the first in a series of four "Beach House" novels, but (thankfully) does not end with a cliff-hanger. And the kindle version is only $1.99! I'll pick up the next installment, Swimming Lessons, when it's time for another low country vacation.



Current reading//


Today I'm listening to Christodora by Tim Murphy, a novel that has been compared to The Nix and City on Fire.  The first three chapters have captured my interest and I may make it a read/listen combination.

Or I might start something else in print...we'll see.

How did July treat you? What have you been reading?



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48 comments:

  1. You have had a busy summer. And...lots of intense reading.

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    1. Patty - The Beach House was a perfect break from all of that!

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  2. Where you surprised that Mrs. Jennings tells Eleanor about Colonel Brandon's love child? (Even if she was wrong?) I was! I hope your husband's retirement gives you both lots of time to relax and enjoy yourselves.

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    1. Audrey - After all these years, Jane is still able to surprise me! Thank you for the retirement wishes... we'd been thinking it would be a couple more years, but everything lined up sooner than expected. We're both excited!

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  3. July really did go fast. I am really enjoying the summer and I want it to go on forever.

    Jane Austen books really lend themselves to rereading. There is so much subtlety in them.

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    1. Brian Joseph - I don't think I will ever tire of rereading Jane Austen!

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  4. It sounds like you've been busy with a lot of great things! I want to read Lab Girl but think I'll stick to print if I do.

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    1. Kathy - I think print is the way to go with Lab Girl. The sky-high ratings are a mystery to me!

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  5. Lovely photo at the top of the post. It beckons me.

    The People in the Photo looks very tempting...and I've been pondering The Beach House, too, since I enjoyed Beach House for Rent so much.

    Thanks for visiting my blog. Enjoy your week!

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    1. Laurel-Rain Snow - The photo is from Sanibel... my happy place. I've only been there in July once before, but the subtle changes in the light and color were delightful. I'm looking forward to the rest of The Beach House series.

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  6. Congrats on your husband's retirement! And I can't believe it either that it's almost august. Summer, where have you flown to?

    Hope your week ahead is filled with all good things. :)

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    1. Greg - Thanks. It will take several months to tie up all the loose ends, but we are both pretty excited. Hope you have a great week!

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  7. I have the print of The Red Notebook and plan to start reading it today.

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    1. Vicki - I'll bet you finish it in a day or two:)

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  8. I tried Lab Girl in print last year and it ended up being a DNF for me. At the time, I also felt like I was very out of step with so many who loved it. I'll be interested to hear how Christodora goes. It soundss interesting. Have a great August!

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    1. Susie - Glad to know I'm not the only one who didn't love Lab Girl! Will let you know about Christodora.

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  9. That's interesting about Lab Girl. I don't think all books are meant to be audio and this sounds like one of them. I'd like to read it but it's nice to hear a non-glowing review of it to keep my expectations a little more realistic. The People in the Photo sounds really great and what an amazing title. It really gets my imagination going just by reading it. Sounds like you've had a busy few weeks so hopefully this next week will be a little calmer. Have a great week!

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    1. Katherine - I don't think all books work well on audio either, but I don't think I've ever been so out of step with my impressions... sigh. Looks like we will have a quieter week (and month) coming up. That's a relief!

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  10. Sounds like a great variety here! And you can never go wrong with Austen. Enjoy your husband's retirement.

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    1. Beth F - Jane never seems to disappoint, does she? I don't think we'll be making any drastic retirement changes right away... think we'll wait a year or so and see how things play out. Still excited about it though :)

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  11. Glad you are back! I can relate to being busy in July. Summer is a whirlwind. Congrats to your husband on his retirement! I'm curious about Christodora -- how good is it?? thanks. enjoy your week.

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    1. Susan - I've read the first 100 pages now and Christodora is zeroing in on the AIDS crisis in NYC in the 80s. Very readable, but there are still another 300+ pages to go.

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  12. Summer is flying by! I agree the best part of Lab Girl was the insight into the life of an academic researcher. Your comment about audio books is apt--I gave up trying to listen to the Lillian Boxfish audio. The narrator's voice really grated on me, and I really think I would like the book if I simply read it.

    I haven't read my beach book yet--but there is such an appeal to wallowing in a good beach story.

    Love the cover of Christodoro.

    Happy August!

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    1. JaneGS - I loved Lillian Boxfish in print and so did my daughter, but my mother wasn't a fan. The audio ratings are very high, but I remember having a problem with that narrator in Euphoria when everyone else was raving about it. It's all so subjective...

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  13. Sanibel in summer. So many colours from the storm. Keep an eye out for the green flash next time in summer. You have managed to squeeze a lot of reading in despite your busy schedule. All the best for retirement years.

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    1. Pam - I've never seen the green flash! One of these days...

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  14. Hope your husband enjoys retirement as much as we do. The pic of Sanibel in this post is lovely.

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    1. Thanks, Diane. There are so many things we want to do and a few changes to make, too. Noting major for a year or two though.

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  15. Woot, woot! So wonderful that your husband is able to retire early! I can't begin to tell you how much my husband and I are enjoying retirement. Our days are very full, but in a good way. We are so much happier than the days of alarm clocks and living for the weekends. So, are you ready to make the move to Florida??

    Ah, the subjectivity of audiobooks. I constantly question whether I may or may not have enjoyed a book better had I read it rather than listened. Some are just so wonderful and others are a challenge and my ratings for those are far lower than other readers/listeners. Oh, well. Not worth losing sleep over, right?

    I've been seeing a lot of positive reviews for The People in the Photo, so I may have to seek out a copy (in print!) to read later this fall. I'm already behind with my library books and I'm trying to make time to re-read Travels with Charley, now that we're about to take possession of our new travel trailer (tomorrow!). Just not enough hours in the day for reading, watching whales, cooking, exercising and getting 8 hours of sleep. :)

    Enjoy the final weeks of summer. Hope it isn't too hot!

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    1. Les - We thought it was going to be another couple of years, but a couple of things lined up early and we couldn't pass it up! He's still pretty busy with a lot of loose ends to tie up, so I don't think it will seem like retirement until sometime this fall. I'm already a FL resident, but R may join me next year. We aren't planning any major changes (in housing anyway) for another year or two, but I think both of us feel much more relaxed already!

      Travels with Charley is a favorite! Judging from your instagram photos, this is a perfect time to reread it. Congrats on your camper... I can't wait to follow your adventures.

      Also, I'm having trouble commenting on your blog lately. Some comments come back to me as 'blocked', maybe others end up in your spam folder? Not sure what I can do to fix it :(

      Happy August!

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    2. Not sure what the problem is with Blogger, but I found your comments and published them. Maybe now you won't have anymore problems.

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  16. Lovely to hear from you JoAnn - great to hear that even with the busy month you've had, you've still managed to read lots! July has a been a quieter and calmer month for me, in which I've managed to do a little more reading, cooking and adaptation watching than previous months :-)

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    1. Hi Jessica - I'm hoping my August will be as quiet and calm as your July. I've already done a little more cooking and experimenting with new recipes, but the weather has been too nice to watch much of anything... spending every moment outdoors that I can for now :)

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  17. You really have had A LOT going on! I'm surprised you got anything read. I hope the medical issue is okay.

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    1. Nan - Yes, July was pretty crazy. My sister has been in the midst of a very bad MS flare up for several months and is needing a lot of help. Things have stabilized now, but she's still trying to regain her stamina. I'm so happy to be close enough to help!

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  18. You've definitely had your hands full. Congratulations to your husband on his retirement! I'm definitely interested in several of the books you mentioned. Continue enjoying summer!

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    1. Iliana - The retirement still doesn't seem real, but I'm getting used to it!

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  19. Read/listen combination! Good term. That's what I've been doing this summer on a binge read of Jeffrey Archer's 3 volumes of Prison Diary and Clifton Chronicles, now on the 6th and last one. I share your sentiment, and just like that, then end of July. Soon we'll have fall here at the Pond!

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    1. Arti - There's already a fall-like chill in the evening air and some leaves are beginning to change. I imagine it's the same story for you. As much as I love fall, I hate to see it coming in August.

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  20. Not only have you been reading, but you've been reading good stuff! Congrats to your husband on his retirement!

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    1. Thanks, Lisa. We're both looking forward to the next stage :)

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  21. Peaceful place with magnificent lake view!!!
    loved this photo that looks like a lovely painting!
    books sound inviting

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    1. Thank you for visiting, Baili :)

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  22. What a tempting list of books you've read this month. I'm interested in all of them. I'm so glad that even though you were extremely busy, you had time for the relaxation of books and reading.

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  23. Thank you very much for your kind words and sentiments regarding my father-in-law's death. It's always hard to lose someone, even when it's expected. We are getting back to a normal schedule now but I know my husband will miss that phone call on his birthday - his dad always called and sang!

    Lab Girl is certainly making it's way up my list!

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  24. The People in the Photo sounds completely amazing. Thanks for the great review!

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  25. The People in the Photo is amazing. I picked it out at random from the library new arrivals shelves and was instantly engrossed. A book that deserves more attention, surely. Here's my impression ~~
    http://www.bookbarmy.com/?s=the+people+in+the+photograph

    Deborah @ bookbarmy.com

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