Sunday Salon – December 20, 2009

Sunday Salon

December 20, 2009

11:00 AM

Good morning, fellow readers. I almost did not write a post for today’s Salon. I admit that it has been hard to be motivated to do much of anything after the loss of our sweet Argus on Thursday – but, I also know that doing things helps the healing. Later today Kip and I are taking Raven for a hike in the woods. She has been exceptionally sweet the last few days – very cuddly and wanting to spend every second inches from our side. We figured the exercise would do her AND us good.

I have an important announcement to make before I start talking about what I’m reading. Sometime around August this year, I started thinking about a project. I wanted to use my blog to do something really good…and my heart has been touched recently by children who are battling cancer. I felt drawn to help in some way – and so Reading for a Cure was born. I have posted an introduction and sign up for this challenge…and I hope you will consider participating in some way. There are no hard and fast rules for participation – do what feels right for you. My goal is to raise awareness and funds to find a cure for childhood cancer. I am planning to do something HUGE in March for those who are joining in this cause. I have had some people comment that they are struggling financially. But, ANYTHING you give (even if it is $10) will help. Also, consider asking friends and family to sponsor your reading for this cause. I’ll be posting things throughout 2010…and you can join at ANY TIME. Make your reading count for something special in 2010!

I finished reading Kristin Lavransdatter: The Wife (book 2 in the trilogy) which I did not enjoy as much as The Wreath (read my review). I am now less than 100 pages from finishing The Cross (book 3)…which I have liked quite a bit. I feel good that I am finally going to finish this trilogy which has been collecting dust on my shelf for over a year. It was well worth reading…and allows me to cross another name off my perpetual challenge to Read the Nobels.

I am hoping to finish 2 to 3 more books before the year ends…but, we’ll see.

The other day I happened to be in Barnes and Noble with a gift card worth $25. There are so many great books out recently which I am dying to read…but I finally decided on purchasing The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize this year. I’ve been seeing some mixed reviews. Have you read this book yet? I have yet to read anything by Byatt, and for some reason The Children’s Book appealed to me (I love the cover art…and it is one of those chunky, saga like stories to which I am always drawn).

I have been drooling over some of the books due for release in 2010. Among them:

The Singer’s Gun, by Emily St. John Mandel is due for release through Unbridled Books in May 2010 (I found her first novel stunning – read my review of Last Night in Montreal). The press release for this book reads:

Emily St. John Mandel follows up her electric debut with a spellbinding novel of international crime, false identities, the depths and limits of family ties, and the often confusing bonds of love. Taut with suspense, beautifully imagined, full of unexpected corners, desperate choices, betrayals, and half-truths with deadly consequences The Singer’s Gun explores the dangerous territory between one’s moral compass and the heart’s desire.

An Unfinished Score, by Elise Blackwell is due for release by Unbridled Books in April 2010. This novel centers around a concert violinist whose longtime lover dies in a plane crash…and she then finds herself blackmailed by his widow. The press release reads:

A story of love, loss, sex, class, and betrayal, this psychologically compelling novel explores the ways that artists’ lives and work interact, the nature of relationships among women as friends and competitors, and what it means to make a life of art.

Noah’s Compass, by Anne Tyler is due for release by Knopf in January 2010. I have loved every book I’ve read by Anne Tyler – so this one caught my attention. This novel is about Liam Pennywell, a school teacher forced to retire at age 60 when he wakes up in a hospital with no memory of the night before.

Secrets of Eden, by Chris Bohjalian is due for release by Shaye Areheart Books in February 2010. This novel is getting good early reviews and centers around a Reverend who loses his faith when one of his parishioners is killed by her husband.

Shadow Tag, by Louise Erdrich is due for release by Harper Collins in February 2010. After having read Erdrich’s novel Love Medicine earlier this year (read my review), I am eager to read more from this author. This novel is about a woman who keeps two diaries: one she knows her husband is secretly reading, and one that contains the truth about her unraveling marriage and life with three children.

Jackie from Farm Lane Books has also been anticipating the new releases for 2010. She wrote two terrific posts: one highlighting the new releases by authors we know, and one highlighting new releases by lesser known or debut authors. From her lists, here is what I am most excited about:

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, by David Mitchell is due for release by Random House in June 2010. I don’t even care what this book is about because I think David Mitchell is brilliant (read my reviews of  Black Swan Green, Cloud Atlas, and Ghostwritten). But, in case YOU care, you can read a product description on Amazon.

Trespass, by Rose Tremain is due for release by Chatto & Windus in April 2010 – but I am not sure that is the U.S. publication (my guess is we will have to wait for this one). Like Mitchell, I find Tremain’s writing superior (read my reviews of The Colour, Music and Silence, and The Road Home). Trespass is ‘a gripping story of redemption and revenge, in the sinister setting of the river gorges of the Cevennes.

The Birth of Love, by Joanna Kavenna is due for release by Metropolitan Books in April 2010. Kavenna’s novel is set in Vienna in 1865, London in 2009, and in 2153, and explores how childbirth has changed over the centuries.

Good to a Fault by Marina Endicott is due for release by in Harper Collins in March 2010. This novel has already picked up awards (Winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book, and short listed for the Giller Prize in 2009). Margaret Atwood says about Good to a Fault:

There’s heartbreak, there’s joy, there are parts where you cry-and it’s very high quality writing. Well done!

Black Mamba Boy, by Nadifa Mohamed is due for release by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in August 2010. Told through the eyes of a ten year old Yeman boy named  Jama, Black Mamba Boy is about an ‘extraordinary journey of more than a thousand miles north all the way to Egypt, by camel, by truck, by train, but mostly on foot.

Is there anything you are especially looking forward to in 2010?

What are you doing today? Whatever it is, I hope it involves a GREAT book! Have a wonderful week.

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    • Frances on December 20, 2009 at 12:56

    Kudos to you for taking such a public stance and initiative for such a worthy cause! And even more credit to you for writing about it today given the week you have had. I will definitely lend a hand come the first week of January.

    I am also almost done with Kristin, but have never hit a groove with this one. Unfortunately, I just want to get it over with at this point. I hope the others participating are having better luck. Still, it has been a worthwhile experience. It was a book that I had wondered about for so long.

    My copy of the new A.S. Byatt is waiting for me when the holidays are over. Can’t wait!

    I am looking forward to Bolano’s Monsieur Pain, the new Jasper Fforde and Nox – Anne Carson’s new book of poetry due out from New Directions.

    Happy reading!

    • Molly on December 20, 2009 at 13:08

    I have had my eye on The Children’s Book for weeks. I am hoping for a gift card for Christmas and I think I have decided that book will be my purchase.

    I would love to do something with the Reading for a Cure. Since my husband experienced two layoffs over the course of 8 months (he is now gainfully employed again – thank goodness), funds are definitely tight. I will give careful consideration what I can afford to do to help such a worthy cause.

    I hope you, Kip and Raven had a reviving hike in the woods!

  1. I have read a couple of posts that loved The Children’s Book and a couple that hated it! I like Byatt though so it will be interesting to hear your take on it. Re Raven, isn’t it amazing how pets can sense what’s going on and respond so appropriately? You’re so lucky to have her, especially now when you need the cuddles!

    • Staci on December 20, 2009 at 13:20

    There’s some great books to look forward to next year!! I’m glad that you all went for a walk today..hope it helps!!

  2. Thank you for mentioning my posts. I love the sound of Shadow Tag – I hadn’t heard of that one before, but will try to ensure I read it in 2010 now.

    It is fantastic that you are using your blog as a force for good in the world. I really hope that it is successful and you raise lots of money.

    • Gavin on December 20, 2009 at 14:44

    The walk sounds wonderful and I believe Raven knows you need her close right now. I am just finishing The Children’s Book and am loving it. It is one of my “bests’ for 2009.

    Thank you for your caring and the energy you are putting into the “Big Project”. I hope to be able to contribute in some small way. Have a wonderful holiday week.

    • Nicole on December 20, 2009 at 14:52

    I picked up The Children’s Book as well after carefully deliberating on a single book to buy. I am trying to cut back on my multiple purchase sprees. I am glad that you are getting out with Raven. I think pets really do know what’s going on and do their part to help out when they can.

    • Aarti on December 20, 2009 at 16:58

    Great books you’re looking forward to, and congratulations on your charity reading work 🙂 Yay for 2010!

  3. I’m especially looking forward to the new Anne Tyler book. I’m very sorry to hear about the loss of your dog.

    • Verbatim on December 21, 2009 at 00:10

    Louise Erdrich’s book sounds particularly intriguing to me. I haven’t read her work in quite a few years, but remembering liking it very much. Have you considered adding “Drood” to your TBR pile for next year? You mentioned liking those chunky sagas like Children’s Book, and it’s definitely chunky. It was one of my favorites last year.

  4. I hope the exercise helped you and your doggies. I know that doing things can help with loss.

    The new Emily St. John Mandel sounds good. I read her other novel and enjoyed it.

    I’m going to check out your Reading for the Cure challenge as well.

    • Jenners on December 21, 2009 at 18:28

    I’m sure a walk was a good spirit booster for all of you.

    And I’m very excited about some of the books you highlighted for 2010 too … especially Anne Tyler.

  5. I am so sorry about Argus.

    The Reading for a Cure challenge sounds terrific. I will publicize it on my blog in the new year and sign up myself. Curing childhood cancer is a cause near and dear to my heart.

    • Ali on December 23, 2009 at 11:04

    Wendy, I’m behind on blog-reading so I just now learned about Argus’ passing and I know I never met your dogs, but there it is: I shed a tear for Argus and Caribou today. Two amazing dogs, and such a tough loss for you guys. I’m so sorry.

    Your Reading for a Cure challenge is a great idea! I’m not ready to think about challenges yet, but if and when I get there, it’ll be at the top of my list.

    • Wendy on December 28, 2009 at 09:25

    Frances: Thank you for your support for Reading For A Cure! I hope it will be successful 🙂 Re: Kristin Lavransdatter – I too am really glad I read it. I know many readers did not find it “great”…but I did enjoy it and it had sat far too long in my stacks. I’m eager to read your thoughts on the Byatt novel. I have yet to read anything by Bolano…but I’m curious.

    Molly: I hope you got the Byatt book for Christmas! And I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s layoff…it has been such a tough year for a lot of people (my BIL also lost his job right before Thanksgiving). Whatever you can do for Reading for a Cure would be appreciated – even if only to let your readers know about it!

    Rhapsody: I have heard good and bad about The Children’s Book too…but I am dying to read it anyway! Yes, it is amazing how tuned in our pets are to our emotions. Raven has been wonderful…she is adorable!

    Staci: The walk was just what we needed – it was perfect!

    Jackie: You’re welcome – I love your blog 🙂 Always happy to send people your way!

    Gavin: Raven is definitely helping right now….Great to hear you loved The Children’s Book since you and I often agree on books! Anything you do for Reading for a Cure will be very appreciated – thanks for your support!

    Nicole: I’ll be interested in your thoughts on Byatt’s book…it looks so good to me. Yes, animals are VERY sensitive to our needs, aren’t they?

    Aarti: I agree with YAY for 2010!!! I hope it is a fabulous year for everyone!

    • Wendy on December 28, 2009 at 09:29

    Deb: Thanks for your condolences on Argus. And I too am excited about Tyler’s latest…she is one of my favorite authors.

    Verbatim: Thanks for the Drood recommendation – I’ll have to check it out. I’ve read some good reviews of that one.

    Serena: The walk definitely helped! I am really excited to read Emily St. John Mandel’s newest book…Thanks for your support re: Reading for a Cure!

    Jenners: Exercise is always a good thing, isn’t it? 2010 looks to be a great year in books!

    Frances Hunter: Thank you so much for your support re: Reading for a Cure – I am hoping that it is hugely successful…and depending on the bloggers to help me advertise it! Also thank you for your condolences re: Argus….

    Ali: Thank you so much for your kind words re: Argus – it has been a tough year for us. Also, I hope you will consider joining in Reading For A Cure…

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