Showing posts with label tea obreht. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tea obreht. Show all posts

Monday, April 1, 2013

A happy camper again: March 2013 in review

March: in like a lion, out like a lamb.  BAAAAAAAAAAA.
Nothing like a little sheep humor to start your morning.
You probably remember that I had a rather terrible February.  So March didn't start on the highest of notes.  But I am happy to say, it did improve.  Even though we battled some colds in our house, the illness seems to be mostly gone (knock on wood), the snow is melting, the birds are chirping...SWEET JESUS, it's springtime!  FINALLY!

Not to mention that Small Fry was rather adorable this weekend, hunting for Easter eggs with us outside:

Overall, I am just feeling VERY excited for the warm weather to roll in, which of course means more time to read OUTSIDE, in the sun.  Woot!

The March 2013 Fave/Least Fave honors were hard to choose this month (especially for Favorite)...I read a lot of good books!  The honors go to:

March 2013 Favorite: The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
March 2013 Least Favorite: The Four Ms. Bradwells by Meg Waite Clayton

In total, I read/reviewed 7 books:
Be Happy Without Being Perfect by Dr. Alice Domar
The Four Ms. Bradwells by Meg Waite Clayton
The Trajectory of Dreams by Nicole Wolverton
I'll Take What She Has by Samantha Wilde
The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult
The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
Evil Water by Inger Wolf

Plus one review of a past read:
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

I also posted one new Small Fry Saturday Review of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr and John Archambault.

In other book talk, I recapped my epic meeting with Jodi Picoult, I told you why modern women's fiction is my jam, we talked about my beef with Hollywood, this place got a facelift, we Bloggiesta'd, I introduced you to Alexis, and I got drugged by a librarian.  Busy freakin' month.

Here's to springtime!  Hope you all have a fabulous April.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Audiobook Review: The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht



Title: The Tiger's Wife
Author: Tea Obreht
Publisher: Random House Audio
Publication Date: March 8, 2011
Source: borrowed from the good ol' public library

Plot Summary from Goodreads:

In a Balkan country mending from years of conflict, Natalia, a young doctor, arrives on a mission of mercy at an orphanage by the sea. By the time she and her lifelong friend Zóra begin to inoculate the children there, she feels age-old superstitions and secrets gathering everywhere around her. Secrets her outwardly cheerful hosts have chosen not to tell her. Secrets involving the strange family digging for something in the surrounding vineyards. Secrets hidden in the landscape itself.

But Natalia is also confronting a private, hurtful mystery of her own: the inexplicable circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. After telling her grandmother that he was on his way to meet Natalia, he instead set off for a ramshackle settlement none of their family had ever heard of and died there alone. A famed physician, her grandfather must have known that he was too ill to travel. Why he left home becomes a riddle Natalia is compelled to unravel.


Grief struck and searching for clues to her grandfather’s final state of mind, she turns to the stories he told her when she was a child. On their weekly trips to the zoo he would read to her from a worn copy of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, which he carried with him everywhere; later, he told her stories of his own encounters over many years with “the deathless man,” a vagabond who claimed to be immortal and appeared never to age. But the most extraordinary story of all is the one her grandfather never told her, the one Natalia must discover for herself. One winter during the Second World War, his childhood village was snowbound, cut off even from the encroaching German invaders but haunted by another, fierce presence: a tiger who comes ever closer under cover of darkness. “These stories,” Natalia comes to understand, “run like secret rivers through all the other stories” of her grandfather’s life. And it is ultimately within these rich, luminous narratives that she will find the answer she is looking for.

My Review:

Where to begin with this audiobook?  It's beautiful, and metaphorical, and confusing, and illusory, all at once.  Leaves me in quite a pickle when trying to write a concise review, eh?

I should start by telling you that when I picked up this audiobook, I only read the first two paragraphs of the above description.  (As we know, I often don't read them at all...so this was quite the big step for me.)  As such, I was thrown off guard when the novel took a bit of a fantastical turn--specifically, when Natalia's grandfather started telling her the story of the "deathless man".  The beginning of the book is steeped in the gritty reality of the Balkan War and its aftermath, so this change in atmosphere was unexpected.  

However, I found myself intrigued and kept on with the book.  It helped that the narrators have such wonderful voices.  Susan Duerden, the voice of Natalia, has a soft and lyrical way of speaking that gives real life to the magical realism of the story.  And Robin Sachs (the voice of Natalia's grandfather) has a gruff manner that is extremely fitting for his role.  Probably one of the best narrator choices for an audiobook that I've heard, ever.

The ending rather confused me, and I think a big part of this was because I was listening to, rather than reading, the novel.  The ending takes an unexpected turn as Natalia reaches conclusions about her grandfather's death, and with all the fairy-tale-like aspects that are included, it made it very hard for me to keep track of what was going on.  It was only after the book ended, when I Googled some analyses of it, that I had a better understanding of what had occurred.  One of those analyses (over at Biblio Quill) stated that this is a book best read a second time, once you understand the themes involved--and I think that is spot on.  I didn't have a full understanding of the meaning of "the tiger's wife" and "the deathless man" until after the story had reached its end, and I had time to process/research it.  If I had had a print copy of the novel, I may have been able to go back and reference things more easily, thus making the reading experience more satisfying as a whole.

Overall, I was impressed by the storytelling abilities of Tea Obreht (and this was her debut novel--even more noteworthy!).  She weaves together a captivating tale that will draw you in quickly. I would just suggest that you have a heads-up about the "magical" aspects of the story before you begin, so that you have a smoother reading experience than I did.  I would also suggest reading this one, rather than listening to it (especially if you listen to your audiobooks as you commute, like I do).  The narrators are truly fantastic, but the structure of the story just did not lend itself to the disjointed way that I listen to audiobooks.  You really need to concentrate on this one to do it justice.

Other reviews of The Tiger's Wife:
Bibliophile's Corner
Caroline Bookbinder
Melissa' Eclectic Bookshelf

What are your favorite picks in the "magical realism" genre?

Monday, March 18, 2013

It's Monday, peeps!

So what are you reading?


This weekend was another busy one around these parts, as we did a day trip on Saturday to visit the in-laws, and then yesterday was full of errands...although I did get to use a little tax return money to start my summer vacation shopping.  YES!  T-minus 3 months until a fantastical week of beach time.  Must load up the Kindle too...

In other news, Small Fry has started to refer to our cars as the "beep-beeps".  WHICH IS SO ADORABLE.  Love that kid.  He does something new every day.

Anyway, what am I reading?

The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

Sage Singer befriends an old man who's particularly beloved in her community. Josef Weber is everyone's favorite retired teacher and Little League coach. They strike up a friendship at the bakery where Sage works. One day he asks Sage for a favor: to kill him. Shocked, Sage refuses…and then he confesses his darkest secret - he deserves to die, because he was a Nazi SS guard. Complicating the matter? Sage's grandmother is a Holocaust survivor.

What do you do when evil lives next door? Can someone who's committed a truly heinous act ever atone for it with subsequent good behavior? Should you offer forgiveness to someone if you aren't the party who was wronged? And most of all - if Sage even considers his request - is it murder, or justice? (Goodreads link)


The newest Picoult release that I picked up at her kickoff event last month.  I AM HOOKED.  The story is complex and mysterious and dramatic and full of awesome.  I'll admit, when I saw she was tackling the Holocaust, I was a little skeptical...there are SO many fiction novels that take on that topic, I wasn't sure how she was going to approach it from an original angle.  But those concerns quickly went out the window.  I hope the ending gives a big pay-off to match the rest of the novel.  Review coming later this week!

How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn

Huw Morgan, about to leave home forever, reminisces about the golden days of his youth, when South Wales still prospered and coal dust had not yet blackened the valley. Llewellyn's characters fight, love, laugh, and cry, creating an indelible portrait of a people. (Goodreads link)

As I mentioned last week, I decided to use this as my book for Wales in the Around The World In 12 Books Challenge.   I just started it this weekend...not bad so far.  A slower pace than the Picoult book for sure, but I'm impressed with the breadth of characters and how quickly I'm coming to be attached to Huw.  This is a long one though, so we'll see how I fare!

Also, I'm still listening to the audiobook of The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht.  It continues to be fantastic.  Can't wait to review soon!

What's on tap next?
Probably At the Mercy of the Mountains by Peter Bronski (for this month's Keyword Challenge), and/or Evil Water by Inger Wolf--I have a review copy and it sounds pretty thrilling.  Have you read either of these two?  Any recommendations?

Have a great reading week!

Monday, March 11, 2013

It's Monday, and here's what I'm reading...


Happy Monday, readers!  This weekend was a little nutty, as Small Fry was sick (Friday/Saturday), I had to work (Saturday), and the husband and I went to a wedding (Sunday).  I need a weekend from my weekend!

Because of all the crazy, I didn't get a ton of reading in...but here's what I'm reading now:

I'll Take What She Has by Samantha Wilde

Nora and Annie have been best friends since kindergarten. Nora, a shy English teacher at a quaint New England boarding school, longs to have a baby. Annie, an outspoken stay-at-home mother of two, longs for one day of peace and quiet (not to mention more money and some free time). Despite their very different lives, nothing can come between them—until Cynthia Cypress arrives on campus.
 
Cynthia has it all: brains, beauty, impeccable style, and a gorgeous husband (who happens to be Nora’s ex). When Cynthia eagerly befriends Nora, Annie’s oldest friendship is tested. Now, each woman must wrestle the green-eyed demon of envy and, in the process, confront imperfect, mixed-up family histories they don’t want to repeat. Amid the hilarious and harried straits of friendship, marriage, and parenthood, the women may discover that the greenest grass is right beneath their feet. (Goodreads link)


MOMMY FICTION!!  Oh mah gah, if there is a subgenre of women's fiction that I love most, it is certainly mommy fiction.  I'm about 2/3 done with this one, and it's both funny and poignant.  Can't wait to share my review with you later this week.

The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
(Did you know if you Google "tiger's wife" in images...this is not what comes up.)
In a Balkan country mending from years of conflict, Natalia, a young doctor, arrives on a mission of mercy at an orphanage by the sea. By the time she and her lifelong friend Zóra begin to inoculate the children there, she feels age-old superstitions and secrets gathering everywhere around her. Secrets her outwardly cheerful hosts have chosen not to tell her. Secrets involving the strange family digging for something in the surrounding vineyards. Secrets hidden in the landscape itself.

But Natalia is also confronting a private, hurtful mystery of her own: the inexplicable circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. After telling her grandmother that he was on his way to meet Natalia, he instead set off for a ramshackle settlement none of their family had ever heard of and died there alone. A famed physician, her grandfather must have known that he was too ill to travel. Why he left home becomes a riddle Natalia is compelled to unravel. (Goodreads link)


This is my current audiobook.  It came highly recommended, and so far I am most definitely intrigued. I still have 6.5 discs to go, but I am loving the writing style (lyrical and almost ethereal at times).  Having much better luck with this than the last few audios I've tried...

What's on tap next?
Probably either How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn (for the Around The World In 12 Books Challenge--Wales!) or At the Mercy of the Mountains by Peter Bronski (for this month's Keyword Challenge).  Have you read either of these two?  Any recommendations?

Have a great reading week!
 
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