Friday, September 27, 2013

Lost September & Read-alongs

It's the end of September and this is my first post of the month. Over the years I've missed posting for a week here & there, but never a whole month. We're currently selling our house in Illinois and looking for one in New England. We've never sold a house before and the experience is a bit of a nail-bitter. Conversations, paperwork, appointments, repairs, traveling, and packing have gobbled up my blogging time. And as for reading, I'm lucky to get in a half hour before passing out at night. But if it sounds like I'm complaining, I'm really not. I am so excited to move to New England. So much history to explore! So many new libraries to visit!

On to the books:

I did manage to read Laurie Halse Anderson's CHAINS for War Through the Generation's American
Revolution reading challenge read-along this month. Chains is the story of a thirteen year old slave, Isabel, set during the early days of the Revolutionary War. Her benevolent master in Rhode Island dies and had willed Isabel and her younger sister to be freed upon her death, but a nasty family member sells the girls to a couple from New York who are Loyalists. Isabel's new mistress is selfish and mean. Isabel struggles within the house to keep her little sister with her and Rebel activity is complicating matters both inside and outside the house.

Anderson is skilled at walking the line between historical accuracy and presenting an interesting character that appeals to today's readers. I cared about Isabel, wanted the mistress to get hers, and enjoyed the historical details. Chains was a National Book Award finalist and won the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction. I especially enjoyed the Q&A appendix which makes it very, very clear that yes, slavery not only existed but thrived in the northern colonies. And I don't remember if I never knew this or if I repressed it, but I was surprised to learn that Benjamin Franklin owned slaves. He's my favorite founding father and I supposed I wanted him to be above all that.

Currently I'm reading DOCTOR SLEEP by Stephen King. I read The Shining back in the early 1980s
when I was in high school and loved it. I re-read it in 2009 and loved it again for different reasons. As a teen I could relate to how it felt to live with an angry, out-of-control father. As an adult I read it as an allegory of how Corporate America expects employees to sacrifice everything, even their families, for the sake of the company (anyone who had a few years under their belt as a manger at Borders in 2009 may understand where I'm coming from). I was surprised and thrilled to hear King was coming out with a sequel and am currently 15% into the book. Its going to be an exhausting read, in the best sense of that wrung-out feeling. King fans know what I mean.

Tif Talks Books and Charleen of Cheap Thrills are hosting a read-along for Doctor Sleep from September 30 to October 21. You can participate on either of their blogs or on Twitter with the hashtag #sleepalong. You are, of course, not bound to a strict reading schedule so you can binge read it now (which would be appropriate) and then comment as according to the read-a-long section breaks. Just remember to avoid spoilers. Bad things can happen to people who drop spoilers...particularly when it comes to creepy books being read in the month of Halloween.

Here's the official read-along signup link:
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