Friday, August 28, 2009

Quotable: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

Quotable: Weekly Literary QuotationsWelcome to Quotable, a weekly feature at Bookish Ruth. Each Friday I'll share a short passage that caught my attention -- it could be an old favorite or something that jumped out at me during that week's reading. I hope you'll enjoy it and perhaps share something that resonated with you during the week.

Today I'm highlight a passage from The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. I reviewed Guernsey earlier this week. There are dozens of great lines that I could have chosen from this book, but this one really stood out to me as it's something that's true in my own life:
"That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book and that tiny thing will lead you on to another book, and another bit will lead you onto a third book. It's geometrically progressive--all with no end in sight, and for no reason other than sheer enjoyment."
-- Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows,
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, pp. 11-12

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

R.I.P. IV Challenge

I have been eagerly anticipating R.I.P. IV (R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril Challenge) since last year. R.I.P. III was one of my favorite blogging events last year as a new blogger. I love autumn, I love a good literary scare...Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings has created the perfect reading challenge for me (and lots of others judging by the challenge's popularity). If you're a new blogger or haven't participated in R.I.P. before, definitely check it out. It's a lot of fun. I got so many great book recommendations from the other participants in last year's challenge.

Once again I'm choosing Peril the First, which means I've committed to reading four books during September and October from any of these genres:

Dark Fantasy

And, my possible pool of books looks like this so far:
Coraline by Neil Gaiman (Re-read)
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Dracula by Bram Stoker (Re-read)
The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl
The Last Nightingale by Anthony Flacco
The Mystery of the Third Lucretia by Susan Runholt
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman

I most likely won't get all these read this year, let alone during the challenge, but this list gives me a good variety of books to choose from. I'll probably try to squeeze a Wilkie Collins book in there somewhere -- maybe The Moonstone or The Woman in White. Scribbled amongst my reading notes for Drood, which I read earlier this year, is: "Read a Wilkie Collins book for R.I.P. IV!"

(I like to plan ahead.)

With the exception of Dead Before Dark and a Wilkie Collins book, all of the books listed are ones that I already own, so this challenge will hopefully help me decrease my mountain-sized To Be Read Pile. I'm trying to read at least three of my own books before I even think about buying a new book. This strategy has been working quite well so far.

Are you participating in R.I.P IV? If so, what are you planning to read? Any good, creepy recommendations?

Book Review & Giveaway: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
Authors: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback (May 5, 2009)
Paperback, 304 pages, $14.00
ISBN-10: 0385341008
ISBN-13: 978-0385341004
Read an excerpt here.

In January of 1946, as war-torn Europe begins the rebuilding process after World War II, author Juliet Ashton is struggling to find a subject for her next book. She never expects that the subject will find her, literally showing up in her mailbox in the form of a letter from a stranger.

Dawsey Adams, a resident of the Channel Island of Guernsey, finds Juliet's address inside a secondhand book by Charles Lamb. He writes to her to inquire if Lamb wrote any more books since there are no bookstores in Guernsey. In his letter, Dawsey mentions that he's a member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, an organization which, thanks to one woman's quick thinking, saved several Guernsey residents from German arrest. Juliet writes back and wants to know more about this oddly named book club. Soon she is corresponding with several other Guernsey residents, all of whom are eager to share their experiences during the past five years of being cut off from the mainland by the Germans. Reading was an integral part of getting the small community through the years of German occupation. As Eben Ramsay writes, "We clung to books and to our friends; they reminded us that we had another part to us."

The story is told through a series of letters and the epistolary format works splendidly here. With each letter I read, I fell in love with Guernsey just as much as Juliet did. After reading two or three letters from a single character, I no longer needed to reference the italics above the letter that stated who was writing to whom. I could tell Dawsey's letters from Isola's and Isola's from Eben's just from their unique writing styles. I particularly enjoyed the banter between Juliet and her longtime friend and editor, Sidney.

I picked up The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society while I was in the midst of moving, and this delightful book helped defuse a lot of moving-related stress. I had short, infrequent opportunities to read and the epistolary format was perfect for that situation. I could read several letters at a time, set the book down, and continue my reading later without missing a beat.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society has received a lot of praise, so much that I worried it might not be able to live up to my expectations. I'm pleased to report that it exceeded my (very high) expectations. Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows have created something truly special here, and the book deserves all the accolades it has been given. Smart, witty writing, a diverse cast of characters, and tales that range from heartwrenching to hilarious made this book into an instant favorite for me. My only complaint about the book is that it had to end.

Rating: 10/10.

Book Giveaway
Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours, I have FIVE copies of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society to give away to my readers. US and Canadian residents only. Leave a comment on this entry for a chance to win. Please include with your e-mail address so I have a way to contact you if you win. I'll announce the winners a week from today.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Coming Soon: Review of CSN Office Furniture

In the coming weeks I'll be reviewing a bookcase from CSN Office Furniture. Since I've just moved, I still have a lot of books packed away so I'm looking forward to getting my books onto a new bookshelf.

I'll be reviewing the Winsome Espresso Wide 2 Shelf Storage Shelf. The espresso finish looks like it will be a good match for my living room furniture, and I like the fact that I can use wicker storage baskets with it as well. None of my current bookshelves are deep enough for a good-sized basket.

CSN sells all sorts of home office furniture, everything from bookcases to desks, filing cabinets and chairs. Click here for my review of the bookcase and CSN's service!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sunday Salon: Be It Ever So Humble

The Sunday

"Domus, my mind offered. Familia, my heart replied. Home." -- Laurie R. King, Justice Hall

The past eight weeks of my life have been some of the most hectic I've experienced thus far in my adult life. If you've been following me on Twitter or Facebook, you already know that I spent most of June and July preparing to move. We had been planning to move sometime during the fall, but when we learned that our new house would be available in August, we decided to move early. Thus began six weeks of frantic packing and organizing, and another two weeks of slightly less frantic unpacking, painting and generally settling in to our new home. While this process is by no means finished (There will be much celebrating when all of my books are finally unpacked), things have reached the point that normal living is no longer a far-off concept.

July was not a good month for reading. For the first time since 2006, I went an entire month without finishing a single book. This week has been better, as I've read both The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, both of which were awesome in very different ways.

Things will probably be a bit slow here at Bookish Ruth through the fall as I continue to work on the house, but I will still be blogging regularly. I've missed the book blogosphere so much over the past two months and can't wait to jump back in with both feet.

Fittingly, the last piece of mail I physically received at my old house was a book (Works of Love by Soren Kierkegaard, a long-wishlisted book that I've been consuming in five minute bites and then pondering over hours of painting) and the first piece of mail received here was, again, a book. (The Last Dickens by Matthew Pearl, which I'm excited to be reading for a book tour in October.)

I think I've contacted all of the publicists that I work with on a regular basis with my new address, but if I've missed anyone, please shoot me an e-mail with the contact form, especially if you send books via UPS or FedEx. My postal mail will be forwarded to my new address automatically for a year, but UPS and FedEx do not offer a forwarding service.