Okay, this one is so obvious, especially since both of these are recent books. Other bloggers have to have already commented on this, but since I've been sort of absent, I'm just noticing this.
Really?? I'd be so mad if I were the author! I only noticed this one because I was looking through my wish list on paperbackswap.com and saw Mockingbird on there but knew that the copy of Long Drive Home that I have has the same picture. Crazy!
Welcome to Take Me Away!!
Hello! Thanks for stopping by Take Me Away, where I review books of a variety of genres. My favorite genres are literary and contemporary fiction, though I also enjoy some mystery/thrillers. I also enjoy sociological and psychological non-fiction. Check out the tabs across the top to navigate the site. All the reviews on this site are categorized by title (fiction or non-fiction) or by author. Check out the "About Jenny" section to learn a little more about me. Thanks again for stopping by, and feel free to leave a comment even if it's just to say hi! =)
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Another reason I haven't been reading, however, in the spare moments between work is that I picked up an old hobby of mine that I hadn't done in years. In fact, I realized it was a hobby that I spent a very large amount of time with years ago, but for about 5-6 years I didn't do it much. So when I re-discovered my hobby I became a little obsessed and think I made excuses to watch tons of tv so I could work on it more. (Counted cross-stitch for those wondering, and I am currently working on a Dickensian Christmas Carol kind of thing).
So anyway, back to the reading. I did have to have one blog tour date extended (A Train in Winter). I posted one blog tour this week. And I have a plethora of other books that I've been working on. I just recently finished the short memoir by Mindy Kaling (The Office), am trying to get through a bio on Charles Dickens (though it's likely going to be a DNF), and am periodically flipping through The Book of Holiday Awesome. The thing with reading slumps is that once I start to come back from it, I have no interest in reading any commitment/review books. I want to read only what interests me in the moment, and since I know I have obligations to tend to first, I do what I always do when I feel overwhelmed or anxious: avoid it. So then I read nothing at all. (!!) Guess I better shape up since I just agreed to four more blog tour dates, haha... three of those four are books I have really been wanting to read, so that will help.
So that's that, my monthly "why I'm not here" post. No exciting news in my life or anything like that. Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and is anticipating the rest of the holiday season as much as I am!!
Wednesday, November 23, 2011
Author: David Finkle
Genre: Fiction, Short Stories
Publisher: Nthposition Press
Pub. Date: November 1, 2011
The discussion of me possibly reviewing this book involved its New York City element so I thought it would be a fun book to review. People Tell Me Things is a collection of fictional short stories told in first person by one narrator. (I need to edit this to state that it is actually not supposed to be one person, but it really felt like it throughout the reading). The concept behind the stories is that the author, David Finkle, is experienced in dealing with the artsy crowd of NYC (artists, writers, musicians, etc.). The narrator of the stories does, as well, and shares his experiences and his observations as the confidante. I was amused by some stories, but overall I felt fairly indifferent.
There was one main thing preventing me from enjoying the book, and I noticed that once that was resolved, I enjoyed the stories immensely better. I almost re-started the book at that point (but ultimately chose not to). For some reason, maybe because it's narrated in first person, I kept thinking this book was non-fiction. Actually, it was something about the narration. I felt frustrated because the character wrote as though the reader would understand the references he made and, of course, I didn't (I know now because it was fictional). But I actually spent time googling these people because I thought, wow if they are real people, this author is just calling them out! Driving the bus all over town over all his friends! Some of the references were real life people, such as the photographer in one of the stories, but none of the other seemed to be (at least, not outright). Anyway, I finally made the realization that all these stories were fictional, and this allowed me to connect to the narrator better.
So then what I ended up liking about the stories were that they were conversational. Although I didn't always understand the purpose of the story or the "message" that short stories often try to get across, I did feel that each individual story had a momentum to it that interested me enough to continue reading and to figure out what the end was going to be. It was almost like when someone is telling you a joke and even if you don't get it right away, you wait to hear what the punchline is. They didn't all have a "punchline" that I appreciated as much, though the storytelling was sometimes funny. One of the ones I initially found the funny was one where a man makes a seemingly innocuous comment that his friends end up ribbing him forever about - to the point where it became harassment.
Although there were some stories I liked better than others and the stories had some good elements, I wasn't taken with the book overall. I would recommend it to someone who specifically enjoys short stories and enjoys a little bit of eccentricity.
Follow the rest of the tour:
Monday, November 7th: Books Distilled
Wednesday, November 9th: The Broke and the Bookish
Monday, November 14th: Sara’s Organized Chaos
Tuesday, November 15th: Life in Review
Friday, November 18th: A Bookish Affair
Monday, November 21st: Dolce Bellezza
Wednesday, November 23rd: Take Me Away
Monday, November 28th: Literature and a Lens
Wednesday, November 30th: Unabridged Chick
Thursday, Dec. 1st: Sarah Reads Too Much
Friday, November 4, 2011
Author: Julie Otsuka
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday (Random House)
Pub. Date: August 23, 2011
I was excited to read this because of all the rave reviews I had seen around. Then it made the list of finalists of the national book award, and since I was already interested in reading this I went ahead and picked it up. Apparently, Otsuka is the author of well-received book, When the Emperor was Divine, which I haven't read. A lot of what I have read about these two books say that book and this book are similar, though I don't know if it's just the content or the style so I can't compare.
The Buddha in the Attic tells the story of a group of Japanese women who come the United States just before the second world war. The women are mail order brides on the way to meet their husbands and live the "American Dream". Unfortunately, life doesn't turn out the way they dreamed. They talk about the first nights with their husbands, who, by the way, are nothing like what they advertised. They talk about working for and interaction with white people. They discuss having children and the ways in which their children grow up, taking on the American culture. And then they talk about the ways in which they and other Japanese persons are forced out of their homes and communities.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The writing was beautiful and the content was so human, authentic, and insightful. Otsuka told a story about a group of women that all other women, regardless of race or ethnicity, can relate to in one way or another. One of the things I really loved about this book is also the same thing that might turn off a lot of others. The story was narrated in first person plural form. This method provided a unique but very effective way to tell the story and get the messages across. But I'll admit it wore on me every once in a while. I think some readers who prefer more traditional novels might not like this. But it was otherwise a great way to tell the story about a group of people that really applied to the group as a whole rather than being that different for each individual. It's a short book that makes quite an impact in it's few pages.
I definitely recommend The Buddha in the Attic and I hope to get to Otsuka's first book one of these days.