WWW Wednesdays – June 12, 2019

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

I’ve spent the last week trying to complete some books for readalongs and an IRL book club that I just attended. However, I am very much looking forward to diving into some Agatha Christie books, as she is my June Focus on Authors selection. I’ve been an Agatha Christie fan, since I was a kid.

Currently Reading

Finished Reading

HP Litsy Buddy Read: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling – audiobook = ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
IRL Book Club: Good Omens by Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman – ebook = ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

I left book club on Monday evening and immediately started watching the Good Omens series on Amazon Prime. I’m really enjoying it so far!

Reading Next

Have you read Agatha Christie? If so, what is your favorite Agatha Christie? Feel free to comment below and leave me a link to your WWW post if you have one.

HAPPY READING!!!

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WWW Wednesdays – May 15, 2019

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

I managed to make some progress on my Spring Reading List and just started started my Kurt Vonnegut reads (see A Focus on Authors Reading Challenge). Wishing I had more time to read this week, but I am having house renovations done, and family coming to visit, so it is busy busy busy. However, I’m still trying to put some effort into participating in Bout of Books 25. Are you doing this?

Currently Reading

Finished Reading

NetGalley ARC: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson – ebook = ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ½
Parkland by Dave Cullen – audiobook = ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain – audiobook = ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
IRL Book Club: In the Woods by Tana French – book = ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

*I’m a bit behind on reviews, but if there is a review, you can click on the title. I enjoyed the books over the last week.*

Reading Next

What are y’all reading now? Please post your WWW links below in the comments if I haven’t already visited them.

HAPPY READING!!!

WWW Wednesdays – May 8, 2019

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What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Time for another WWW Wednesdays, which is brought to you by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. If you too want to participate, answer the above questions and post that link on Sam’s page.

I’m back after a little R&R getaway! I managed to read at the beach a bit to make some progress on my Spring Reading List and complete my April Margaret Atwood reads (see A Focus on Authors Reading Challenge). I’ve started my Kurt Vonnegut reads now.

Currently Reading

Finished Reading

Focus on Authors: Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood – audiobook/book = ♦ ♦ ♦ ¾
Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid – audiobook = ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
IRL Great Books Book Club: The Moon & the Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham – ebook = ♦ ♦
Made to Stick by Chip Heath – audiobook = ♦ ♦ ♦ ¾
Organized Simplicity by Tsh Oxenreider – book = ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

*Click on the title of the book for my full review. Will have a review of Made to Stick up soon.*

Reading Next

Have you ever read anything by Kurt Vonnegut? Which Vonnegut would you recommend? What are y’all reading now? Please post your WWW links below in the comments if I haven’t already visited them.

HAPPY READING!!!

Book Club Review: The Moon and Sixpence

9781604595659Title: The Moon and Sixpence
Author: William Somerset Maugham
Genre: Classic Literature, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Aegypan
Publication Date: 1919
Pages: 192
Format Read: ebook
Standalone or series: standalone
Where I got the book: Amazon kindle
Date finished reading: April 30, 2019

Goodreads Description: Based on the life of Paul Gauguin, The Moon and Sixpence is W. Somerset Maugham’s ode to the powerful forces behind creative genius.

Charles Strickland is a staid banker, a man of wealth and privilege. He is also a man possessed of an unquenchable desire to create art. As Strickland pursues his artistic vision, he leaves London for Paris and Tahiti, and in his quest makes sacrifices that leaves the lives of those closest to him in tatters. Through Maugham’s sympathetic eye Strickland’s tortured and cruel soul becomes a symbol of the blessing and the curse of transcendent artistic genius, and the cost in humans lives it sometimes demands.

My Review: This book was picked for my IRL Great Books book club. Even though the Goodreads description says that this book is based on the life of Paul Gauguin, it is loosely based on his life – more like Paul Gauguin inspired the idea of The Moon and Sixpence.

This meetup was another good example of why I feel book clubs are valuable. I did not enjoy this book at all, but the book club still had an amazing discussion regarding it. The discussion often centered around the main themes we believed the book possessed:

  • What is art & what makes a work successful? What makes art art? It is discussed in the book that sometimes it just takes one critic to praise the work for it to be successful.
  • What drives an artist?
  • A great artist does not necessarily mean that he/she is a great person. There was a lot of discussion about beauty vs. goodness, as many of us did not find Strickland (the main character) or even the narrator redeemable characters.

I could not really see passed the fact that I disliked the main character, Strickland. At one point Strickland is talking to the narrator and says this about his wife: “My dear fellow, I only hope you’ll be able to make her see it. But women are very unintelligent.” Other times, there would be lines that were less insulting that made me laugh a bit, so I think there are many lines and interactions throughout the book that are supposed to be humorous.

The most interesting conversation during book club was how much the author may have put of himself in this story. In The Moon and Sixpence, the main character, Strickland, leaves his family, his source of income and his position in English society to move to Paris to pursue art. He didn’t care about anyone but himself and his art. We wondered if the narrator, who is fascinated by Strickland, was experiencing some self-hate and jealous of Strickland. That he may have been struggling with societal restraints just as the author was.

After this book club meeting, I do believe there is more depth to this book than I originally gave it credit for. However, I just could not see passed the horrible characters. I did not feel like there were any characters in the story to really like. I will admit that I am a bit more fascinated by William Somerset Maugham’s life than his literary works.

My Rating: ♦ ♦

Book Club Review: A Cold Day for Murder

murderTitle: A Cold Day for Murder
Author: Dana Stabenow
Genre: Mystery
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: June 1, 1992
Pages: 208 pages
Format Read: Book
Standalone or series: Book One of A Kate Shugak Mystery series
Where I got the book: Library
Date finished reading: April 9, 2019

Goodreads Description: Kate Shugak returns to her roots in the far Alaskan north, after leaving the Anchorage D.A.’s office. Her deductive powers are definitely needed when a ranger disappears. Looking for clues among the Aleutian pipeliners, she begins to realize the fine line between lies and loyalties–between justice served and cold murder.

My Review: Since Agatha Christie is the mystery writer that made me fall in love with this genre, I tend to compare all mysteries to hers. In my opinion, it has been hard to find a mystery writer who can set a scene and describe/develop characters, while still moving the plot along in a thrilling way like Agatha Christie can. I can definitely argue that Dana Stabenow did set the scene and included some thrilling moments, especially toward the end. I thoroughly enjoyed her descriptions of the Alaskan scenery/terrain and the cultural/tribal topics that were addressed. However, character development left something to be desired. It is hard to lend support to the main character, Kate Shugak, when you feel like you’ve come in during the middle of her story. I just found the introduction to the main character abrupt and confusing. Maybe a prologue of some kind would have been useful. I also never bothered to try to guess who was behind the disappearance of the two men, because I never felt like I knew enough about any of the characters to offer a guess. My favorite character in the book was Kate’s dog, Mutt. He seemed to have more of a personality than the rest of the characters. I did try to take into consideration that this was her first published mystery book, but I expected more since it won the Edgar Award. This was a quick read and entertaining/thrilling at moments, but it was an overall miss in my opinion. It definitely didn’t interest me enough to continue reading the rest of the series.

It should be noted, that other members of my book club enjoyed this novel and some of the characters much more than I did, as you can see by the overall club rating below.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦

Book Club Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ¼

Book Club Review: All Systems Red

allsystemsredTitle: All Systems Red
Author: Martha Wells
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Tor
Publication Date: May 2, 2017
Pages: 144
Format Read: ebook
Standalone or series: The Murderbot Diaries Book #1
Where I got the book: Amazon
Date finished reading: March 19, 2019

Goodreads Description: In a corporate-dominated spacefaring future, planetary missions must be approved and supplied by the Company. Exploratory teams are accompanied by Company-supplied security androids, for their own safety.

But in a society where contracts are awarded to the lowest bidder, safety isn’t a primary concern.

On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

But when a neighboring mission goes dark, it’s up to the scientists and their Murderbot to get to the truth.

My Review: I love it when a book club meeting can help me appreciate a read much more than I had. All Systems Red was no exception. I went into this book club having not enjoyed this book as much as I had wanted to. The reason for my dislike may have stemmed from being a bit new to science fiction as a whole. It is not a genre I tend to read. I have probably only read a handful of science fiction in my entire life. This book irritated me, because there wasn’t enough description for my tastes; the plot was hurried at times; and the language just seemed a bit too simplistic. However, my fellow book club members helped me realize that there was actually a lot of depth to this book.

This is a unique story told from the perspective of Murderbot – a robotic machine with organic parts (human feelings). “Murderbot” was actually a name it gave himself, so just from that you get a glimpse of its personality and possible inner struggles. We discussed whether we had assigned Murderbot a gender during the book, if its actions or personality made us think of it as a female or a male, which can lead to an interesting discussion. Just discussing its personality as a whole can be enlightening. At the beginning of the story, the reader learns that Murderbot has hacked its own government module. By hacking its own system, Murderbot now has free will over itself and its feelings. As a reader, you witness its struggle with those feelings, as it tries to work for and with humans. Some of Murderbot’s actions can seem similar to actions of an autistic individual or someone who suffers from social anxiety. The reader can’t help but wonder if the author put some of her own feelings and thoughts into Murderbot.

Let me end this review by discussing the book’s simplicity. Even though that bothered me, to the rest of my fellow book clubbers, the book’s simplicity was a positive thing and is what makes it special. Martha Wells does not create this fantastical world that is hard to imagine, but a world that is easily imaginable – a world not that different from our own. In addition, there is a similarity to our own society at times, where money and wealth drives actions and creates conflict. It is not a stretch to be a part of this story that Martha Wells has created.

While my rating reflects my own lack of interest for All Systems Red, it did not bring down by too much the overall high rating that my book club gave it – many of which would highly recommend this book to others.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦

Book Club Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ¼

Spring Reading – 2019

Spring is almost here! I will be continuing to read for my Reading the Classics Challenge and my 2019 Focus on Authors Challenge. Titles may be added based on giveaways, book club picks, etc.

Book Club Reads

  • The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
  • A Cold Day for Murder by Dana Stabenow
  • In the Woods by Tana French
  • The Moon and Sixpence by W. Somerset Maugham
  • Good Omens by Neil Gaiman & Terry Pratchett 

NetGalley Reads

  • The Last Stone by Mark Bowden
  • The Castle on Sunset by Shawn Levy
  • The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
  • Maybe This Time by Jill Mansell
  • Smitten by the Brit by Melonie Johnson
  • The Dark Bones by Loreth Anne White
  • Summer Hours by Amy Mason Doan

Readalongs

  • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J. K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J. K. Rowling
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck

2019 Focus on Authors

  • Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  • Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood
  • Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
  • The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie
  • Murder is Easy by Agatha Christie
  • The Greater Journey by David McCullough

Reading the Classics

  • The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
  • The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Other

  • Off the Clock by Laura Vanderkam – audiobook 
  • The Children by David Halberstam – audiobook
  • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg – audiobook
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama – audiobook/book
  • Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain – audiobook
  • Made to Stick by Chip Heath – audiobook
  • Outer Order, Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin – book 
  • The Nannie Diaries by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus – book
  • The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy – ebook

What is on your Spring TBR? Any recommendations?