#ReadByatt: A 'Possession' Read-a-Long 

Lately, I have been very enthusiastic and optimistic about my reading.  One activity I have seen a lot on other blogs and twitter is read-a-longs.  Basically a book is selected and divided up into sections.  Deadlines are assigned as to when certain sections of the book must be completed, people blog, comment, and tweet about the experience.  I want to be more active in the blogging community and thought it would be fun, so I decided to join the 'Posessesion' read-a-long which I heard about from Care (Care's Online Book Club). 

The challenge is hosted by Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) and Lu (Regular Rumination).  I met the first timeline for which I still need to post and am behind on the second; yet, I read on with optimism and determination! Reading schedule is below and I will post links to my progress as I get to it or just notes about how I am doing with the book.  If you are interested in joining the fun, you can sign up here. You can also talk about the book on any of the blogs of participants and on Twitter using the hashtag #readbyatt

  • March 11: Chapters 1 – 6: Completed on Sunday, March 10th. Thankful story got more interesting after the first chapter.  You can see Kim and Lu's recaps here and here
  • March 18: Chapter 7 – 13: I am just about a week behind as I finished this section on Sunday, March 24th. It is getting much saucier and more tense. You can see Kim and Lu's recaps here and here
  • March 25: Chapter 14 – 19: I finished this section and the next one close together. Chapter 19 was a game changer. You can see Kim and Lu's recaps here and here
  • April 1: Chapter 20 – End: I finished this section the night before the deadline. My final review is here
Posted on Thursday, March 14, 2013 at 11:51PM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] in | CommentsPost a Comment

NW

From goodreads

Zadie Smith’s new novel follows four Londoners - Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan – as they try to make adult lives outside of Caldwell, the council estate of their childhood. From private houses to public parks, at work and at play, their London is a complicated place, as beautiful as it is brutal, where the thoroughfares hide the back alleys and taking the high road can sometimes lead you to a dead end.

Pages: 401 (Hardcover)

Rating: 8 out of 10

Source: Checked out from the library

Date Completed: February 28, 2013

The very first book club I was a member of was in New Orleans. I was in my final semester of public health graduate school.  We met every week to discuss an agreed upon number of pages of a book.  The second book we read together was White Teeth by Zadie Smith.  I loved the discussion and enjoyed the book.  I had not returned to the author's writing until the Boston book club selected NW by Zadie Smith as the March selection. I had heard that this book was not as strong as her others and could be confusing to read. 

When I began, I found that I had to do quite a bit of re-reading.  I could not get into the rhythm.  I was wondering how I was going to finish the book and then I came to the section that was told from the voice of Natalie Blake.  I related to and enjoyed her description of growing up in an insular ethnic community and wanted to build other relationships.  Even though it was hard to read, I also appreciated the insight of how her perspective and connection to her childhood community change as she had more economic success.  Her friendship with Leah was also interesting to me, especially as both women had very different perceptions about each other's lives.   Based on where I am in my own life, I also enjoyed the discussion on parenthood and the decision to have (or not have) babies. 

Posted on Saturday, March 2, 2013 at 5:00PM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] in | CommentsPost a Comment

Where'd You Go, Bernadette

From goodreads

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle--and people in general--has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence--creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world.

Pages: 326 (Hardcover)

Rating: 7 out of 10

Source: Checked out from the library

Date Completed: February 8, 2013

One of the members of the Partners and Professors book club received Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple as a Christmas present.  I was excited to read the book when I read that the author had written for some of my favorite shows, including Mad About You and Arrested Development.   Just like when I watch those shows, I laughed out loud and was surprised at several points in the book.  I expected the story to be funny, but I was delighted to find that there were also several sweet moments. 

One particular moment in the story tugged at my heart strings and made me want to be a better parent. Bernadette's daughter, Bee, recalls an incident in which other kids were teasing her and her mother's response. The quote is here: 

“I can pinpoint that as the single happiest moment of my life, because I realized then that Mom would always have my back. It made me feel giant. I raced back down the concrete ramp, faster than I ever had before, so fast I should have fallen, but I didn't fall, because Mom was in the world.” 

My mother's approach to my getting teased was to ignore it.  I can understand the power of not engaging with teasers or bullies, but I feel like I would have cheered louder if my parents had been a bit more snarky.  I am not sure how I will do with my own daughter, but I hope that I am able to make her feel like Bee about my being in the world. 

Bernadette had many qualities and behavior which annoyed me, but her way of navigating the world also made me laugh. I really enjoyed the relationship between her and Bee.  It was also nice to revisit Seattle from the perspective of an outsider. I totally related to the culture shock aspect of Bernadette's experience.  The format of the novel worked for me-- the mix of emails, letters, newspaper articles, and general storytelling helped move the story along.   We have book club in a few weeks and I am looking forward to discussing. 

I am counting the book for the following challenges: 

Posted on Friday, February 22, 2013 at 9:22PM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] in | CommentsPost a Comment

Seating Arrangements

From goodreads

Winn Van Meter is heading for his family’s retreat on the pristine New England island of Waskeke. Normally a haven of calm, for the next three days this sanctuary will be overrun by tipsy revelers as Winn prepares for the marriage of his daughter Daphne to the affable young scion Greyson Duff.  Winn’s wife, Biddy, has planned the wedding with military precision, but arrangements are sideswept by a storm of salacious misbehavior and intractable lust: Daphne’s sister, Livia, who has recently had her heart broken by Teddy Fenn, the son of her father’s oldest rival, is an eager target for the seductive wiles of Greyson’s best man; Winn, instead of reveling in his patriarchal duties, is tormented by his long-standing crush on Daphne’s beguiling bridesmaid Agatha; and the bride and groom find themselves presiding over a spectacle of misplaced desire, marital infidelity, and monumental loss of faith in the rituals of American life. 

Pages: 302 (Hardcover)

Rating: 7 out of 10

Source: Checked out from the library

Date Completed: February 1, 2013

I feel like I had been hearing about Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead for awhile, so figured it would be a good read.  As I started the story, I found myself really annoyed with the characters.  As I got to know them better, I felt a little compassion, but not much.  I just found them entitled, self-indulgent and caught up in some weird self-absorbed drama.  My least favorite character is Winn. I was especially annoyed with his obsession with sons and his intense loyalty to Harvard.  I am all for school spirit, but wow.   I did grow to like Livia a bit, but just wanted to her to have more of a backbone.  

My favorite character is one whose name I cannot recall. She is the bridesmaid who lives abroad.  I liked her observations about the Van Meter family.  My dislike of most of the main characters is probably the same reason I liked her; she was an outsider and made observations about the quirks of this world of which she is not really a part.  

I am counting this book for the following challenges: 

  • What's in a Name Six: I am counting it for the category of something you would find in your kitchen, as I think most kitchens have seating or arrangements of some sort. 
  • 2013 Global Reading Challenge: The book takes place in the United States, so I am counting it for the continent of North America. 
Posted on Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 2:15PM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] in | CommentsPost a Comment

Broken Harbor

From goodreads

Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy, the brash cop from Tana French’s bestsellingFaithful Place, plays by the book and plays hard. That’s what’s made him the Murder squad’s top detective—and that’s what puts the biggest case of the year into his hands.

On one of the half-built, half-abandoned "luxury" developments that litter Ireland, Patrick Spain and his two young children are dead. His wife, Jenny, is in intensive care.

At first, Scorcher and his rookie partner, Richie, think it’s going to be an easy solve. But too many small things can’t be explained. The half dozen baby monitors, their cameras pointing at holes smashed in the Spains’ walls. The files erased from the Spains’ computer. The story Jenny told her sister about a shadowy intruder who was slipping past all the locks.

And Broken Harbor holds memories for Scorcher. Seeing the case on the news sends his sister Dina off the rails again, and she’s resurrecting something that Scorcher thought he had tightly under control: what happened to their family one summer at Broken Harbor, back when they were children.

Pages: 450 (Hardcover)

Rating: 8 out of 10

Source: Checked out from the library

Date Completed: January 22, 2013

When the Partners and Professors book club selected Broken Harbor by Tana French for the January read, I was excited to not read something heavy and depressing.  When I read the summary, I expected it to be a sad, but quick read.  I did not expect to be terrified and disturbed as I got sucked into the story and kept turning the pages.  I read most of this book while I was on vacation.  A story about a family that gets murdered and the complex relationships that are revealed in the course of trying to solve the mystery does not mesh well with extended time with the family.  Because I was jet lagged, my sleep schedule was off anyway.  I found myself thinking about the story, the characters, and trying to figure out what happened instead of trying to get on a regular sleep schedule. 

When I found out what happened, I was SHOCKED and HORRIFIED! At our book club meeting, not everyone had finished the book.  As we revealed what happened, the faces of the people who had not finished the book reflected my disbelief.  Some books affirm your faith in the goodness of humanity; this book makes you wonder what the fuck is wrong with people.  In spite of my intense reaction, I thought the story was compelling.  I was surprised with the various plot twists and liked not knowing what to expect at the start of each chapter. 

I am counting this book for the following challenges: 

Posted on Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 10:30PM by Registered Commenter[beastmomma] in | CommentsPost a Comment