Sunday Salon – March 13, 2011

March 13, 2011

Before I start talking about reading this morning, I feel compelled to mention the devastating events happening in Japan. I finally had to stop watching the news footage because it was making me feel ill. My heart and prayers go out to the people in Japan who are living this nightmare. It is a reminder that in the face of nature we are very tiny beings. For my book friends over in Japan, please know that I am thinking of you and your families.

I have two book giveaways going on right now: The Postmistress by Sarah Blake (contest ends March 14th), and a 2-book giveaway of Island Girl by Lynda Simmons (contest ends March 19th). Follow the links to learn how to enter.

I absolutely LOVED The Postmistress by Sarah Blake (read my review) – beautifully written, this is an historical novel that touched my heart. TLC Book Tours is touring the book this month and there are links to some good reviews of the book on their site. I waited a long time to read this book – for some reason it didn’t call to me when it was first released. But, having now been completely absorbed in the story, I can’t recommend it enough. Blake’s writing is observant and honest, her characters complex and engaging. I have a feeling this one will make my top ten list for 2011.

I breezed through Henrik Ibsen’s classic play, A Doll’s House, in one sitting (read my review). I never would have picked up this drama had it not been for the folks over at A Year of Feminist Classics. Ibsen was a pretty forward thinking guy. The play was written in 1879 and is surprisingly modern in its view of women. I didn’t love this piece, but I did respect it and its message. I can count on one hand the number of plays I’ve read (mostly Shakespeare), and they are not my favorite reading…but I am glad I read Ibsen’s work. Do you read plays? Have you ever read this one?

Next up in my stacks was Island Girl by Lynda Simmons which I liked but didn’t love (read my review). Simmons takes on Alzheimer’s Disease and its impact on one rather dysfunctional family. She moves back and forth between characters, giving the reader the perspective of not only Ruby (the character with Alzheimer’s Disease), but also that of Grace and Liz, Ruby’s daughters. There is nothing wrong with the writing in this book, but I thought Simmons wandered a bit in the plot. There are several sub-plots and parallel stories which I thought slowed the narration down. That said, readers who like books about families and want to get a feeling for a patient’s perspective on Alzheimer’s Disease will probably enjoy this one. I also think it is a good book club pick because it deals with some interesting themes surrounding medical care – and the ending of the novel is quite controversial.

My current read is Emily and Einstein by Linda Francis Lee. This is a fun, light read so far – one I am enjoying. Have you heard of this book? The reader has to suspend reality a bit, but it is an original tale. I hope to have a review up within a couple of days.

I also want to mention that to celebrate the release of her novel, Lee is having a E-ventful Book Party on – participants can win some great prizes…and there is an opportunity to enter a photo contest featuring your dog (yes, I’m planning to submit Miss Raven!). Hope to see you there!

Other bookish items from this past week:

  • I profiled some of my favorite women authors in honor of International Women’s Day
  • I participated in an Atria Books Livestream Literary Salon featuring Jodi Picoult (and a question I posted on Twitter was answered during the event!). Visiting THIS POST on my blog will connect you to the taped event (just play the embedded video).

In the coming weeks, look for reviews and discussion on the following books:

  • Every Last One by Anna Quindlen (review to be posted March 30th as part of a TLC Book Tour)
  • Picking Bones from Ash by Marie Mutsuki Mockett (discussion of this book will be held on Nicole’s blog on March 26th as part of BOOK CLUB)
  • Conversation in the Cathedral by Mario Vargas Llosa (discussion of this book will be held on Richard’s blog on March 29th as part of the Wolves Read-A-Long)
  • Separate Beds by Elizabeth Buchan
  • The Next World Novella by Matthias Politycki
  • A Mountain of Crumbs by Elena Gorokhova

If I get through all of those, there are more in the stacks waiting for my attention!!

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


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    • Kath on March 13, 2011 at 08:37

    Great post. My post was entirely about Japan this week. Like you, I had to switch off the TV coverage of it and take breaks – it’s just too much sadness. Luckily, I’ve had 2 great books to distract me: Someone knows my name and The Finkler Question and a doggy who keeps wanting me to play fetch/catch with him. As an aside, the beautiful dog in your Facebook profile picture on the Sunday Salon list looks exactly like my dog. They have the same colouring!

    Anyway, thanks for your thoughts. I’m going to be keeping my eye out for The Postmistress now.

  1. Emily and Einstein sounds perfect for spring break. Thank you for sharing this title with us. I’ll watch for your review.

    Here’s my Sunday Salon post:
    Do you know any good books about New York City?

  2. Do you read plays? Have you ever read this one?

    The only plays I’ve ever read are Shakespeare plays, but I recently acquired Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest and I’m looking forward to reading that.

    • Gavin on March 13, 2011 at 11:42

    I also had to stop looking at the video feeds and my heart goes out to all who have friends and family there. I hope the people of the world join together and offer support for the people of Japan.

    The Postmistress sounds like a wonderful read. I’m adding to my TBR list. Have a good week, Wendy.

  3. I have a 5 hour (one way) drive ahead of me this coming weekend, and The Postmistress was one that I picked up on audio at the library to get me through it. (I think I’m already entered in your Postmistress giveaway, too. 🙂 Glad to see that you liked it so much that it may make your Best Of list!

  4. I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on Every Last One. I adore Anna Quindlen’s writing style, and have only read One True Thing. I’m determined to read more of her work, probably starting with something older, like Blessings or Black and Blue. Nice choice 🙂

    • Wendy on March 13, 2011 at 15:07

    Kath: I thought your post was wonderful. I loved Someone Knows My Name – great book to distract you!

    Deb: I am really enjoying Emily & Einstein! Books about New York….hmm. Here are a few set in NY City I enjoyed: Summer Crossing by Truman Capote (short novella), 31 Bond Street by Ellen Horan (historical fiction/mystery based on true story), Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (Literary Fiction), The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud (Literary Fiction), and The Three Weissmanns of Westport by Cathleen Shine (Women’s Fiction). You can find reviews on my blog by going to the reviews page and scanning down by author name.

    Samantha: I’ll be interested to see what you think of Wilder.

    • Wendy on March 13, 2011 at 15:09

    Gavin: I know, it is heartbreaking what is happening in Japan.

    Melissa: Oh, I hope you love The Postmistress – several people have commented that the audio is especially good.

    Teacher/Learner: I really have enjoyed Quindlen’s previous work (Blessings was good), so I expect to enjoy this one too 🙂

    • JoAnn on March 13, 2011 at 16:58

    I read A Doll’s House soon after I started blogging and really enjoyed it. At the time, I wondered why I don’t read more plays, yet haven’t managed to read another one since then. Perhaps Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest will be next for me, too.

  5. I also am very saddened by what has happened in Japan, and feel very sorry for those who are going through this. My prayers are with them.

    I also went out and bought my copy of The Postmistress after reading your great review of it the other day. I am really looking forward to reading it now!

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