Month in Review: August 2015

August has come and gone and it is time to share my month in review.

Books Reviewed:
  1.  The Ice Queen by Nele Neuhaus
  2. Bad Wolf by Nele Neuhaus 
  3. The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud
  4. Finders Keepers by Stephen King 
  5. The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier

    Strange Things that happened in the books I read
    A crazed fan kills an author, Two identical strangers switch places

    Favorite Book of August:
    Finders Keepers

    A Disappointing Read:
    The Scapegoat

    Most Surprising:
    The Meursault Investigation

    Netgalley Approval Ratio
    64/80 Percent

    Back To The Classics
    3/6 books

    Read Your Freebies
    22/24 books

    2015 Reading Challenge

    2015 Reading Challenge
    Whitney has read 12 books toward her goal of 50 books.

    * Do you write a monthly wrap-up post?  How did you do this month?  Share with me and/or visit The Book Date who has a monthly link-up for exactly that.
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    Weekly Update: 8/30/15

    Sunday Post hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer is a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. 

    It was a low-key week.  I went out to dinner with my brother and bought a new computer cord as the one I had was frayed and held together with electrical tape --  we were afraid the house would burn down when my laptop was charging.  It was time to bite the bullet and put my frugalness aside and no longer have to sleep with a fire extinguisher next to my bed.

    Last Week:

    1. Classic Spin number was revealed
    2. I reviewed The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier
    3. Classic Club Meme
    4. TBR Thursday
    5. Participated in The Book Vixen's Review-a-thon

    This Week:

    1. Month in Review
    2. Waiting on Wednesday
    3. TBR Thursday
    4. September Reading Events

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    Write On review-a-thon August 2015

    Write On Review-a-Thon

    The Write On review-a-thon is a monthly event created and hosted by Brianna at The Book Vixen. This edition is THREE days dedicated to getting reviews done, whether you have one review to write or 30+. This edition of the review-a-thon takes place all day Friday, August 28th and Sunday, August 30th. Let’s get those reviews done!

    I'm all caught up on book reviews but went through A Masterpiece Theater binge and hope to get some movie reviews written.

    My Masterpiece Binge was:
    Bleak House
    Becoming Jane
    Little Dorrit
    The Mystery of Edwin Drood
    Nicholas Nickleby

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    TBR Thursday #11

    My tbr is getting out of control.  My books are are closing in on one another.  It is time take action and remind myself of all those goodies on my shelf.  To get motivated I started a meme, TBR Thursday.  Each week, I will highlight one book that I physically own, be it arc, bought, paperback or ebook and is on my tbr.  It could have been there for months or just acquired it yesterday, but the point is to spotlight novels that scream "read me".

    The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck
    Ethan Allen Hawley, the protagonist of Steinbeck’s last novel, works as a clerk in a grocery store that his family once owned. With Ethan no longer a member of Long Island’s aristocratic class, his wife is restless, and his teenage children are hungry for the tantalizing material comforts he cannot provide. Then one day, in a moment of moral crisis, Ethan decides to take a holiday from his own scrupulous standards.

    Set in Steinbeck’s contemporary 1960 America, the novel explores the tenuous line between private and public honesty that today ranks it alongside his most acclaimed works of penetrating insight into the American condition. This edition features an introduction and notes by Steinbeck scholar Susan Shillinglaw.

    Why it is on my TBR:

    I have not read a John Steinbeck novel (Of Mice and Men) and thought it was high time to give him a go again. 

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    Classic Club Meme August 2015

    The Classics Club monthly meme is another way to bring members of The Classics Club together. The post for the month will go up on the main page of this blog on the 2nd of the month, and you’ll have all month to respond over at your blog.

    Q: “Have you made changes to your list since you first created it? If you added any new titles or removed some, why did you make those changes?”

    A: Fortunately, I haven't made too many changes and each time replaced them with an equivalent.  I had originally put Doctor Zhivago on my classic club list.  I'm not sure what I was thinking when I added it to the list as the mini-series puts me to sleep in 30 minutes.  It was big and boring and was unable to make it past the first 50 pages.  I switched it out for The Death of Ivan Ilych by Leo Tolstoy and thought that was a much better introduction to Russian Literature.
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    Book Review: The Scapegoat

    Author:Daphne du Maurier
    Publication Date:December 17, 2013
    First Published: 1957
    Publisher::Little  Brown and Company
    Add to Goodreads

    By chance, John and Jean--one English, the other French--meet in a provincial railway station. Their resemblance to each other is uncanny, and they spend the next few hours talking and drinking - until at last John falls into a drunken stupor. It's to be his last carefree moment, for when he wakes, Jean has stolen his identity and disappeared. So the Englishman steps into the Frenchman's shoes, and faces a variety of perplexing roles - as owner of a chateau, director of a failing business, head of a fractious family, and master of nothing.

    The first thing I think of when I hear "Identical Strangers" is Dumas' famed Man in the Iron Mask and is what prompted me to choose The Scapegoat.  My thought process was even confirmed by du Maurier when she states in chapter two when Jean and John first meet.

    We did not speak: we went on staring at one another.  I had heard of these things happening, of people who met casually and turned out to be long-lost cousins, or twins parted at birth; and the idea is amusing, or perhaps fraught with tragedy, like the Man in the Iron Mask.

    That was just it, "like the Man in the Iron Mask." This plot had been done before, and many times after du Maurier as well.  Affairs, religion, cads and death are now stale no matter how Gothic and despite du Maurier unique sense of writing and originality at the time.   It moved slow and became predictable.  John playing Jean became repetitive with his constant questioning of who, what, when, where and why.  While I did despise Jean, who's thoughtlessness caused the conundrum I did not find his "Philippe" endearing or saying aw, poor thing but instead just marched along.  To be truthful, the only character I did like was his mistress Belle as she seemed to have her head on straight.

    Compared to Rebecca and with a "been there, seen that" plot this was not one of du Maurier's best, or perhaps it just didn't translate well.  Either way it cannot be denied that Daphne du Maurier is a master storyteller, who I do plan to explore more of.

    This was my contribution to the Explore the Classics Daphne du Maurier tour
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    Classics Spin Number Revealed

    On Friday, I created my classic spin list and this morning the spin number was announced -- number 5!

    Number 5 on my list was

    The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
    First published in French as a serial in 1909, "The Phantom of the Opera" is a riveting story that revolves around the young, Swedish Christine Daaé. Her father, a famous musician, dies, and she is raised in the Paris Opera House with his dying promise of a protective angel of music to guide her. After a time at the opera house, she begins hearing a voice, who eventually teaches her how to sing beautifully. All goes well until Christine's childhood friend Raoul comes to visit his parents, who are patrons of the opera, and he sees Christine when she begins successfully singing on the stage. The voice, who is the deformed, murderous 'ghost' of the opera house named Erik, however, grows violent in his terrible jealousy, until Christine suddenly disappears. The phantom is in love, but it can only spell disaster. Leroux's work, with characters ranging from the spoiled prima donna Carlotta to the mysterious Persian from Erik's past, has been immortalized by memorable adaptations. Despite this, it remains a remarkable piece of Gothic horror literature in and of itself, deeper and darker than any version that follows.

    The Phantom of the Opera has been on my bookshelf collecting dust for several years so am happy to have the motivation to pick it up and think it also fits in well with all that is creepy for the upcoming Fall months.
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    Weekly Update: 8/23/15

    Sunday Post hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer is a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. 
    This week I went to a Grease sing-along.  The movie is pretty cheesy to begin with and once you add lyrics and cartoon images it becomes cheesetastic!  There actually weren't many people singing but in preparation for this "backup singers" had been dubbed into the film to fill the void.  cheesy yes, a guilty pleasure, yes but it was something fun to do.
      Last Week:

    1. I've been participating in Bout of Books this week
    2. Posted the Daphne du Maurier Tour line up
    3. Reviewed: Finders Keepers by Stephen King
    4. Go Set a Watchman was on my tbr this week
    5. Created a Classic Spin list
    6. I posted Sign ups for September's Explore the Classics: John Steinbeck

    This Week:

    1. Classic Spin number is revealed
    2. I will review The Scapegoat by Daphne du Maurier
    3. Participate in The Book Vixen's Review-a-thon
    4. TBR Thursday

    Read more »

    Explore the Classics John Steinbeck Tour

    It is time to put out feelers for a second Exploration, this time it is John Steinbeck.  I read Of Mice and Men in high school as required reading, but have yet to read anything since.  I remember being very emotional by the end and in hindsight realize it takes a strong writer to invoke that kind of feeling.  Therefore, I have decided to include him in the tour.

    Tour Dates: September 25 - 30

    If you have any interest in joining the tour please fill out the form below and on the date you selected post a review on your blog.

    John Ernst Steinbeck, Jr. (February 27, 1902 – December 20, 1968) was an American author of twenty-seven books, including sixteen novels, six non-fiction books, and five collections of short stories. He is widely known for the comic novels Tortilla Flat (1935) and Cannery Row (1945), the multi-generation epic East of Eden (1952), and the novellas Of Mice and Men (1937) and The Red Pony (1937). The Pulitzer Prize-winning The Grapes of Wrath (1939), widely attributed to be part of the American literary canon, is considered Steinbeck's masterpiece.

    The winner of the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature, he has been called "a giant of American letters". His works are widely read abroad and many of his works are considered classics of Western literature.
    ~ Wikipedia


    Cup of Gold (1929)
    To a God Unknown (1933)
     Tortilla Flat (1935)
    In Dubious Battle (1936)
    The Grapes of Wrath (1939)
    The Moon is Down (1942)
    Cannery Row (1945)
    The Wayward Bus (1949)
    East of Eden (1952)
    Sweet Thursday (1954)
    The Short Reign of Pippin IV: A Fabrication (1957)
    The Winter of Our Discontent (1961)
    The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights (1976)


    The Red Pony (1933)
    Of Mice and Men (1937)
    The Pearl (1947)
    Burning Bright (1950)

    Short Stories

    The Pastures of Heaven (1932)
    The Long Vallley (1938)


    Sea of Cortez: A Leisurely Journal of Travel and Research (1941)
    Bombs Away (1942)
    A Russian Journal (1948)
    The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1951)
    Once There Was A War (1958)
    Travels with Charley (1962)
    America and Americans (1966) 

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    The Classics Spin #10

    I haven't participated in a classic spin in quite a while but needing a good kick in the pants to get motivated I figured would be the perfect opportunity.

    • Pick twenty books that you’ve got left to read from your Classics Club List.
    • Try to challenge yourself: list five you are dreading/hesitant to read, five you can’t WAIT to read, five you are neutral about, and five free choice (favorite author, rereads, ancients — whatever you choose.)
    • Post that list, numbered 1-20, on your blog by next Monday.
    • Monday morning, we’ll announce a number from 1-20. Go to the list of twenty books you posted, and select the book that corresponds to the number we announce.
    • The challenge is to read that book by October 23, even if it’s an icky one you dread reading! (No fair not listing any scary ones!)

    My Spin List:
    1. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
    2. The Raven by Edgar Allen Poe
    3. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley 
    4. The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins
    5. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux
    6. Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith
    7. The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens
    8. The Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck
    9. The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria Augusta von Trapp
    10. Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
    11. Jezebel's Daughter by Wilkie Collins
    12. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
    13. Mr. Skeffington by Elizabeth von Arnim
    14. Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
    15. Old New York by Edith Wharton
    16. Lady Susan by Jane Austen
    17. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
    18. Mr. Harrison's Confessions by Elizabeth Gaskell
    19. The Knight of Maison-Rouge by Alexandre Dumas
    20. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte             
    Read more »