It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? 9.0

Hey Everyone! I hope you had a great weekend. It’s been a long time since I last participated in this meme (over two months now…yikes), but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading! Here is a list of the things I am/have been reading lately!

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Recently I have finished:

Wolf Hall

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?

I’ve read many books about Tudor England, but this is one of the most unique I’ve read in years. Thomas Cromwell is a character I never really knew very much about, and I really enjoyed learning more about him. This book is admittedly a bit on the long side, but I really enjoyed the dark humor.

I listened to the audioversion of this book, and while I enjoyed the narration I found the jumping back and  fourth in chronology to be a bit confusing at parts. Overall, a great read but I’d probably check out the print version if I had it to do all over again. 4/5 stars.

the-expatsSynopsis adapted from Goodreads:

Kate Moore is a working mother, struggling to make ends meet, to raise children, to keep a spark in her marriage . . . and to maintain an increasingly unbearable life-defining secret. So when her husband is offered a lucrative job in Luxembourg, she jumps at the chance to leave behind her double-life, to start anew.

She begins to reinvent herself as an expat, finding her way in a language she doesn’t speak, doing the housewifely things she’s never before done—playdates and coffee mornings, daily cooking and never-ending laundry. Meanwhile, her husband works incessantly, at a job Kate has never understood, for a banking client she’s not allowed to know. He’s becoming distant and evasive; she’s getting lonely and bored.

Then another American couple arrives. Kate soon becomes suspicious that these people are not who they say they are, and she’s terrified that her own past is catching up to her. So Kate begins to dig, to peel back the layers of deception that surround her. She discovers fake offices and shell corporations and a hidden gun, a mysterious farmhouse and numbered accounts with bewildering sums of money, and finally unravels the mind-boggling long-play con that threatens her family, her marriage, and her life.

I was really excited to read this book when I first heard about it, and even more excited when I learned I could download the audio version from my local library. Although my enthusiasm waned as I was listening to Kate’s tale, I will admit it was very engrossing and I finished it very rapidly. The story itself was a fantastic concept, but it was poorly executed. I really wanted to like this book more than I did, if only for Kate and her interesting back story. Here are my three main complaints about this book:

1) The story abruptly changes time frames and locations (especially at the beginning of the novel) with little or no warning. At one instant Kate is in the present in Luxembourg, and then all of the sudden she is back in D.C. in the past or in Paris in the future talking to characters the reader has never been introduced to. Huh?! Perhaps this effect was amplified by the audiobook, but I’ve seen other complaints about this from people who read the print version as well.

2) Pavone spends a long (long) time spinning a great tale and then finishes it off with a lukewarm and very unsatisfying conclusion. Seriously. There are so many chapters where almost nothing of importance happens. I kept thinking that it would all be worth it in the end, but honestly don’t really feel like it was.

3) If Kate is a C.I.A. agent, why does she spend so much of the novel so completely clueless? There were so many moments where I just wanted to scream “oh come ON!!!” at her. Honestly, she’s a really likeable character, but I have a hard time believing any real C.I.A agent would be THAT clueless.

Believe it or not I really did like this book. I just think it could have been so much more. 3/5 stars.

sarahskeyfinalcover

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten year-old girl, is taken with her parents by the French police as they go door-to-door arresting Jewish families in the middle of the night. Desperate to protect her younger brother, Sarah locks him in a bedroom cupboard—their secret hiding place—and promises to come back for him as soon as they are released.

Sixty Years Later: Sarah’s story intertwines with that of Julia Jarmond, an American journalist investigating the roundup. In her research, Julia stumbles onto a trail of secrets that link her to Sarah, and to questions about her own romantic future.

In Sarah’s Key, Tatiana de Rosnay offers up a mesmerizing story in which a tragic past unfold, the present is torn apart, and the future is irrevocably altered.

Admittedly I had never heard of the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup before reading this book. I found this book to be very moving and engrossing 4/5 stars.

200px-AStormOfSwords

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

In 1996, A Game of Thrones earned praise and awe as a remarkable high fantasy introducing five noble families clashing for power over the wondrous Seven Kingdoms. Three years later, A Clash of Kings became a national bestseller with the continued chronicles of the royal houses of Targaryen, Baratheon, Lannister, Stark, and Greyjoy, each battling to keep or carve a kingdom. George R. R. Martin will draw a new legion of fans with A Storm of Swords, the third novel in his beloved fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire.

Book Three of A Song of Ice and Fire is inexpressibly rich in both humor and horror. A Storm of Swords is eerily atmospheric, with tales of old hauntings, dreams of bad omen, the writhing air of ghosts, and ruins. Martin’s gift for imagining histories within histories, fables and superstitions, marvelous geographies, and the secrets of the heart is so enthralling that no reader can possibly be satisfied until the next chapter of the saga appears.

Whew. This was QUITE the read. It’s one of those books that you finish and just feel tired. In an effort to not give any spoilers to those individuals who read my blog but are not caught up on the series I will summarize my thoughts on the third installment in these three words: Exciting, shocking, long. I especially enjoyed this book because I hadn’t already seen the third season of Game of Thrones, but I’m really looking forward to watching it now!  4/5 stars.

Last week I finished:

headsinbeds-2

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

Jacob Tomsky never intended to go into the hotel business. As a new college graduate, armed only with a philosophy degree and a singular lack of career direction, he became a valet parker for a large luxury hotel in New Orleans. Yet, rising fast through the ranks, he ended up working in “hospitality” for more than a decade, doing everything from supervising the housekeeping department to manning the front desk at an upscale Manhattan hotel. He’s checked you in, checked you out, separated your white panties from the white bed sheets, parked your car, tasted your room-service meals, cleaned your toilet, denied you a late checkout, given you a wake-up call, eaten MnMs out of your minibar, laughed at your jokes, and taken your money. In Heads in Beds he pulls back the curtain to expose the crazy and compelling reality of a multi-billion-dollar industry we think we know.

Heads in Beds is a funny, authentic, and irreverent chronicle of the highs and lows of hotel life, told by a keenly observant insider who’s seen it all. Prepare to be amused, shocked, and amazed as he spills the unwritten code of the bellhops, the antics that go on in the valet parking garage, the housekeeping department’s dirty little secrets—not to mention the shameless activities of the guests, who are rarely on their best behavior. Prepare to be moved, too, by his candor about what it’s like to toil in a highly demanding service industry at the luxury level, where people expect to get what they pay for (and often a whole lot more). Employees are poorly paid and frequently abused by coworkers and guests alike, and maintaining a semblance of sanity is a daily challenge.Along his journey Tomsky also reveals the secrets of the industry, offering easy ways to get what you need from your hotel without any hassle. This book (and a timely proffered twenty-dollar bill) will help you score late checkouts and upgrades, get free stuff galore, and make that pay-per-view charge magically disappear. Thanks to him you’ll know how to get the very best service from any business that makes its money from putting heads in beds. Or, at the very least, you will keep the bellmen from taking your luggage into the camera-free back office and bashing it against the wall repeatedly.

Last week I lost all of my audiobooks in a tragic iPod accident (one of many this year), so I was pleasantly surprised to see this book come up in my queue at the library…especially since I had just completed at two week stay in a hotel for a research trip. I’ve stayed in many, many hotels throughout my life but have never really given that much thought to what goes on behind the scenes. And boy is there A LOT going on back there. I loved this book, and thoroughly enjoyed listening to the audio version. I recommend this for anyone who has ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes at a hotel or what it’s like to work in one. It’s certainly not a “how-to” travel guide, but then again it’s a memoir…plus it’s hilarious and highly entertaining. 4/5 stars.

This week I am reading:

persuasion

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

In her final novel, as in her earlier ones, Jane Austen uses a love story to explore and gently satirize social pretensions and emotional confusion. Persuasion follows the romance of Anne Elliot and naval officer Frederick Wentworth. They were happily engaged until Anne’s friend, Lady Russell, persuaded her that Frederick was “unworthy.” Now, eight years later, Frederick returns, a wealthy captain in the navy, while Anne’s family teeters on the edge of bankruptcy. They still love each other, but their past mistakes threaten to keep them apart. Austen may seem to paint on a small canvas, but her characters contain the full range of human passion and moral complexity, and the author’s generous spirit renders them all with understanding, compassion, and humor.

Wow, I am really surprised (and disappointed) to say that I am still “reading” this. To be fair, the past two months have been *very* busy AND I read A Storm of Swords in between…which considering the length is no small feat. Regardless, I am ready now to devote my full attention to this book (which I feel it totally deserves). I will probably start it over (for the second time) so I have an uninterrupted reading experience.

This week I am listening to:

bonfire-of-the-vanities

Synopsis adapted from Goodreads:

When a hot young New York bond trader is involved in a car accident in the Bronx, prosecutors, politicians, the press, police, the clergy, and assorted hustlers close in on him, licking their chops. Through it, he discovers the black comedy of New York, a city boiling over with ethnic hostilities and burning with itchy palms.

Admittedly, the start of this book has been a little slow for me. I’ve also found it hard to connect with the predominately male (and predominately unsavory) characters. It is starting to grow on me though, and I’m enjoying reading about the racial and class tensions of New York City in the 1980’s. I’ve also found it interesting that even though this book was written over two decades ago there are many aspects of it that ring true today. This is another long book, and I don’t expect to finish it this week.

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What are you reading this week?

It's Monday

Linking up with Book Journey!

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader
    Jul 08, 2013 @ 12:49:46

    That is a big stack of awesome right there! I loved Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies. I’ve read a ton about that era but none from Cromwell’s point of view. It was very interesting.

    Reply

  2. Lindsey
    Jul 08, 2013 @ 20:28:58

    I had heard some interesting things about The Expats, but I’m not going to feel bad about skipping that one!
    Have an awesome week!

    Reply

  3. Trackback: My 2013 Reading Challenges: How Did I Do? | Ex Libris
  4. Trackback: 2013: A Year in Reading | Ex Libris

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