Sunday Salon – July 24, 2011

July 24, 2011

Welcome to this week’s edition of Sunday Salon. Put your feet up, grab a cup of coffee (or your beverage of choice) and get ready to chat about books!

July has been a rather slow reading month for me because my work schedule got a bit crazy. I missed last week’s Salon because I was visiting friends in Marin County – we had gorgeous weather, awesome food, and fantastic conversation while my friend Carol’s dog, Leah, and Raven ran their brains out and wrestled nearly nonstop.


They did occasionally take a break to renew their energy…

But, I digress…books, that’s what you’re here for, right?

Since my last Salon, I’ve finished reading a couple more books for Orange July. Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch had a lot of potential but didn’t blow me away as I hoped it would (read my review). This is definitely not light reading. Birch does not spare her readers any of the horror of being shipwrecked, and much of the latter part of the book contains graphic imagery which I did not really enjoy. That said, the characters in Jamrach’s Menagerie are original and memorable, and Birch is skilled at describing setting. It really was a mixed bag for me.

My third Orange book for the month, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin, was also a bit of a mixed bag (read my review). I was disappointed that the character development of the women in this novel was not deeper, and yet the story itself interested me and kept me turning the pages. Shoneyin surprised me with the character of Baba Segi – a rather unlikable man for the first part of the book who grows into someone with whom I began to empathize as the story progresses. Ultimately, despite some of its weaknesses, I decided this was a good book which I could recommend to readers who enjoy literary fiction set in Africa.

I blew through Everything Beautiful Began After by Simon Van Booy – a book which I was thrilled to snag as part of a TLC Book Tour. You might remember that I’ve read and loved Van Booy’s short stories, and I was curious as to whether he could carry off a novel. I was definitely NOT disappointed with Van Booy’s first effort. I have a lot to say about this one – and my review goes up July 26th. In the meantime, what I will tell you is that this meditative novel about the power of love, grief, and connection to others is original, beautifully constructed, and highly recommended! As part of my tour of the book, Simon Van Booy will be featured as  a guest poster here on Caribousmom…and I hope you’ll come back to read on July 26th to read his thoughts.

My current read is The Reservoir by John Milliken Thompson which I am reading as part of BOOK CLUB. A discussion of this book will take place over on Jen’s blog on July 26th. I hope you’ll consider joining us. Based on a true story, this novel is slow to get to the action. I’m not quite 100 pages in and much of the narrative is setting the stage and introducing the characters to this point. Out of curiosity, I glanced at a few reviews of the book and found that many readers are commenting on the slow start, but say that the book becomes more compelling as it moves forward. So I am hoping that eventually, this will become a book I don’t want to put down! Watch for a review by Tuesday or Wednesday.

Although the month is fast coming to a close, I am still hoping to read at least two more books for Orange July. The most probable reads will be The Long Song by Andrea Levy and Scottsboro by Ellen Feldman. If I really hunker down, I might even get to Swamplandia! by Karen Russell this month, too. We’ll see…

Today promises to be a beautiful day up here in the Northern California mountains. The sun is shining, there is a light breeze and I can hear the cows in the fields below us mooing (I love that sound in the morning). I am planning to work on some quilt blocks later today, and I will definitely find some time on the porch to read. What about you? What is on your agenda? Whatever you are planning, I hope at some point it involves a great book!

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  1. I love the pictures of Raven and Leah!

    • Amy on July 24, 2011 at 11:52

    I love that you and Raven went to visit friends. The picture of Leah and Raven looking at the camera is great – they look as if they’re guilty of something but acting innocent, “Us? We didn’t do anything! We;re just sitting here!” You can almost feel their energy & know they’re about to get up and tear off after each other again!

    Terrific book round-up. I don’t think Jamrach’s Menagerie is for me. The books I’m most interested in are the 3 you’re still planning to read, esp. Scottsboro since I adored Next to Love and Swamplandia!

    I’ve just finished The Reservoir and actually I didn’t find it slow even in the beginning. I was really intrigued by Tommie…something about him I wasn’t sure of…Tuesday will be fun!

    Enjoy your beautiful weather & if you can spare some please send it to us desperate NY’ers!

    • Bonnie on July 25, 2011 at 06:09

    Great picture of the doggies! They look like they had fun. You still had a nice reading week, it doesn’t sound slow to me:)

  2. I love the pictures of the dogs running around together. They look like they are having a great time out there!

  3. Oh man there is simply NOTHING better in this whole world, than dogs enjoying their dog buddies! What fun!

    I can attest to Reservoir starting slowly but picking up. I’m pretty well into it, now and I’m loving it. Hope you like it at the finish!

    • Sand on July 25, 2011 at 19:46

    When I told Bernie that you and Kip had taken Raven with you, he exclaimed “Bummer!” that we were not able to meet up. Undoubtedly Howie would think Raven a hoyden of a girl, but Raven would have loved to meet Sebastian. And we would have loved to meet you all. The pics of Leah and Raven playing together are wonderful.

    • Wendy on August 2, 2011 at 06:46

    Kathy: They’re fun, aren’t they!?!?

    Amy: Both those dogs are just full of it!

    Bonnie: *laughs* It is all a matter of perspective!

    Heather: I think the dogs had as much fun as we did 🙂

    Pam: LOL!

    Sand: I was sad we didn’t get to see you guys – but one of these days, we will manage to arrange a visit!! I think Raven would have totally annoyed Howie *laughs*…and yes, Sebastian and she would have had a whirlwind of a time 🙂

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