October 2012 wrap-up

Seriously? Already time for a monthly wrap-up? It feels like I just did one last week…

Even though weeks flew by in October, I managed to read 9 books, 3 being non-fiction works.
Total of 1619 pages , that is 52.2 pages/day, slightly less than in September, though with more books read!

And I listened to 3 audiobooks, with a total of 25:59 hours, and an average of 50 mn/day.

But unfortunately only 1 of these books reviewed!!

I READ

Mystery:
The Thief, by Fuminori Nakamura
Salvation of a Saint, by Keigo Higashino (my 1st First Reads!)

Fiction:
Léon Morin, prêtre, by Béatrix Beck (in French)
The Bridge of San Luis Rey, by Thornton Wilder

Historical fiction:
Dusk, by Sionil José

Non-fiction:
Itinerary, by Octavio Paz
Cliffs Notes on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, by J.L.Roberts
Action Philosophers vol 1 by Fred Van Lente & Ryan Dunlavey (Graphic “novel”)

Plays:
Twelfth Night, by Shakespeare

I LISTENED TO

Historical fiction:
A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar, by Suzanne Joinson

Fiction:
American Dervish, by Ayad Akhtar
Mrs Pollifax Innocent Tourist, by Dorothy Gilman

BEST BOOKS THIS MONTH

Dusk   American Dervish

READING CHALLENGES

  1. Around the World in 52 books:  36/52
  2. Around the world in 12 books: 11/12
  3. European reading challenge: 10/5 – COMPLETED
  4. I love Italy: 3/3 – COMPLETED
  5. Dewey Decimal: 29/20 – COMPLETED
  6. We want you to read French authors: 6/5  – COMPLETED (ends in August)
  7. Books in translation: 15/10-12 – COMPLETED
  8. South Asia: 6/7
  9. Middle East: 8/18
  10. My own reading challenge: 2/5
  11. What’s in a Name: 5/6
  12. Ebook challenge: 9/10
  13. Audiobook: 13/12 – COMPLETED
  14. Support your library: 46/37 – COMPLETED
  15. Finishing the series: 1/1 – COMPLETED
  16. 2nds challenge: 8/3 – COMPLETED
  17. Foodies: 1/3
  18. Japanese literature: 3/1+ – COMPLETED
  19. Historical novels: 15/7-10 – COMPLETED
  20. New authors challenge: 43/15 -COMPLETED
  21. A Shakespeare play a month: 10/12
  22. SHAKESPEARE READING MONTH: 1/1   –  COMPLETED
  23. AUSTRALIAN LITERATURE MONTH: 1/1 – COMPLETED
  24. DICKENS READING MONTH: 1/1  – COMPLETED
  25. Graham Green Challenge: 1/1 – COMPLETED

 

BLOGGING EVENTS IN OCTOBER

MOST POPULAR LATEST REVIEW
Claivaux Manifesto, by Kirk Bartha

UPCOMING BLOGGING EVENTS

  • Nov 26: review and giveaway of The Lincoln Conspiracy, by Timothy L. O’Brien (Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours)
  • Nov 30: review of The Siren of Paris, by David LeRoy (Virtual Book Tour – Book Promotion Services))

CURRENTLY READING

  1. The Black Count, by Tom Reiss (ebook)
  2. The Ascetical Homilies of Saint Isaac the Syrian
  3. Shadows Walking, by Skopp Douglas
  4. The House At Riverton, by Kate Morton
  5. Sacrilege (Giordano Bruno # 3), by S.J. Parris (audiobook)
  6. The Lincoln Conspiracy, by Timothy L. O’Brien
  7. The Siren of Paris, by David LeRoy

WHAT I PLAN TO READ BEFORE THE END OF 2012
TO COMPLETE ALL MY READING CHALLENGES

  1. On Iceland : From the Mouth of the Whale
  2. On Bhutan: Beyond the Sky and the Earth
  3. Written in1973:  A Palm for Mrs Pollifax
  4. In 1974?
  5. In 1975?
  6. Othello
  7. The Tempest
  8. On Kuweit?
  9. On Lebanon= House of Stone – audiobook
  10. On Lybia?
  11. On Oman?
  12. On Palestine?
  13. On Qatar?
  14. On Saudi Arabia= Eight Months On Ghazzah Street, by Hiklary Mnatel
  15. On Tunisia?
  16. On Arab Emirates?
  17. On Yemen?

I NEED YOUR HELP!
PLEASE USE THIS FORM
TO GIVE ME YOUR SUGGESTIONS

***

HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THE BOOKS MENTIONED IN THIS POST?

HOW WAS YOUR READING MONTH OF OCTOBER?
ANY SPECIAL READING TREATS
FOR YOU BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR?

(2012) #52 review: A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar

A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar

by

Suzanne JOINSON

Narrated by Susan DUERDEN

Published by Tantor Media in 2012

10:21 hours

Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar

Audiobook received from Tantor Media via Edelweiss

THIS BOOK COUNTS FOR THE FOLLOWING READING CHALLENGES

        

     

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

Rating system

I liked very much the mix and clash of characters, of the periods and places, of cultures, and the way their connection gets slowly revealed to the reader. The idea of writing a travelogue on a trip by bike was attractive. Lizzie reminded me a lot of the dad in The Poisonwood Bible (which you absolutely need to read if you have not yet done so), though her moral weakness was a surprise to me; I found it a bit bizarre, and I’m not sure it added really anything to the novel.

The stuff concerning the cult of the mother was also weird, and the passage on the cutting of the tongue too graphic to me. It looks like this was/is (?) really practiced in Asian religions. Ouch!

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THE AUDIO PRODUCTION

Awful! With a different narrator, or if I had read A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar, instead of listening to it, my Eiffel Tower would have had a bit more of color! That will teach me to always check other audiobook reviews before trying one myself, and even requesting it! Even Audiofile is pretty clear about the poor quality of the narration:

Susan Duerdan [sic!!] narrates from both women’s perspectives and vocally differentiates between the two effectively. Eva’s voice is almost sickeningly sweet, however, which detracts from her story, the more interesting part of the plot. Duerdan’s portrayal of Frieda is more appealing, but her story at times seems superfluous. These weaknesses lead to an audio experience that doesn’t quite work.

Interestingly enough, Tantor Media, on its page for this audiobook, does not even mention anything about the narrator.

I just could not believe my ears when I started listening to it. Apart from the sickening sweetness mentioned by Audiofile, the problem for me was that Duerden adopts the same intonation for all of her narrating sentences, with her voice rising at the end of each. I’m not exaggerating. This sounded like a grade school reader to me, and I was ready to slap her. Her voice for dialogues is good, even very good, as she conveys well the difference of characters, but the problem is, there’s an awful lot of narrating passages. As I has requested the audiobook, I had to finish it, plus I was at the same time already reading so many books on paper, that I could not add it quickly to my list. But it was really painful. So this is my advice: always check what authorities have to say before launching into an audiobook, or try an excerpt.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT

It is 1923. Evangeline (Eva) English and her sister Lizzie are missionaries heading for the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar. Though Lizzie is on fire with her religious calling, Eva’s motives are not quite as noble, but with her green bicycle and a commission from a publisher to write A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar, she is ready for adventure.

In present day London, a young woman, Frieda, returns from a long trip abroad to find a man sleeping outside her front door. She gives him a blanket and a pillow, and in the morning finds the bedding neatly folded and an exquisite drawing of a bird with a long feathery tail, some delicate Arabic writing, and a boat made out of a flock of seagulls on her wall. Tayeb, in flight from his Yemeni homeland, befriends Frieda and, when she learns she has inherited the contents of an apartment belonging to a dead woman she has never heard of, they embark on an unexpected journey together.

A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar explores the fault lines that appear when traditions from different parts of an increasingly globalized world crash into one other. Beautifully written, and peopled by a cast of unforgettable characters, the novel interweaves the stories of Frieda and Eva, gradually revealing the links between them and the ways in which they each challenge and negotiate the restrictions of their societies as they make their hard-won way toward home. A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar marks the debut of a wonderfully talented new writer. [Goodreads]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Suzanne Joinson

I live in a small, Sussex coastal town with my husband and two tiny children. We have embraced its English seaside charm, the pier, the blustery promenade and best of all, the rock pools.

I work part-time organising international literature projects for the British Council. I travel widely, and over the past ten years have travelled and worked across most countries in the Middle East and in China, Russia and Western and Eastern Europe. For several years I specialised in projects focusing on the Arabic speaking world. I am interested in international literature and… well, stories from anywhere in the world that grab me.

The rest of the time I write. My next book is inspired by the Art Deco Shoreham Airport in Sussex, and is about early female pilots, inter-war London and the establishment of the British Mandate in Palestine. I combine working on this with studying for a Ph.D in Creative Writing. Writers I admire include Virginia Woolf, Elizabeth Bowen, Jean Rhys, Vladimir Nabokov, EM Forster, William Faulkner, TS Eliot, Lawrence Durrell, AS Byatt, Marilynne Robinson, Janice Galloway, Carson McCullers, Olivia Manning, Freya Stark, Graham Greene, Alice Oswald, Sinead Morrisey, H.D., Stevie Smith, Ann Quin, Sylvia Townsend Warner. [from her beautiful website]

She’s also on Twitter @suzyjoinson

REVIEWS BY OTHER BLOGGERS
Booklover Book Reviews
The Guardian
Reading Matters
Tiny Library
Dolce Bellezza

HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK YET?
WHAT’S THE BEST TRAVELOGUE YOU HAVE EVER READ?
DO YOU FEEL LIKE READING THIS BOOK?
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS  IN A COMMENT PLEASE

September 2012 wrap-up

BBAW and Bloggiesta are over, which means it’s already time to read monthly wrap-ups and consider what to read for the remaining 3 months of 2012!

I read 6 books, 1 being non-fiction works. Total of 1721 pages, that is 57.3 pages/day, that is, slightly more than in August.

I listened to 2 audiobooks, 1 historical fiction, 1 non-fiction; I started one the month before, and it was very long (25 hours!), so that makes for a high average: 64 mn/day, with a total of 32:37 hours!

I READ

Mystery:
The Unexpected Mrs Pollifax, by Dorothy Gilman

Historical fiction:
The Mirrored World, by Debra Dean
The Secret Keeper, by Kate Morton (ebook)
Equal of the Sun, by Anita Amirrezvani

Non-fiction:
Beauty For Ashes, by Stephen Lloyd-Moffett

Plays:
The Merry Wives of Windsor, by Shakespeare

I LISTENED TO

Historical fiction:
To The End of The Land, by David Grossman

Non-fiction:
The Aleppo Codex, by Matti Friedman

BEST BOOKS THIS MONTH

 

READING CHALLENGES

  1. Around the World in 52 books:  27/52
  2. Around the world in 12 books: 8/12
  3. European reading challenge: 10/5 – COMPLETED
  4. I love Italy: 3/3 – COMPLETED
  5. Dewey Decimal: 26/20 – COMPLETED
  6. We want you to read French authors: 6/5  – COMPLETED (ends in August)
  7. Books in translation: 11/10-12 – COMPLETED
  8. South Asia: 5/7
  9. Middle East: 6/18
  10. My own reading challenge: 1/5
  11. What’s in a Name: 5/6
  12. Ebook challenge: 9/10
  13. Audiobook: 10/12
  14. Support your library: 38/37 – COMPLETED
  15. Finishing the series: 1/1 – COMPLETED
  16. 2nds challenge: 7/3 – COMPLETED
  17. Foodies: 1/3
  18. Japanese literature: 1/1+
  19. Historical novels: 13/7-10 – COMPLETED
  20. New authors challenge: 35/15 -COMPLETED
  21. A Shakespeare play a month: 9/12
  22. SHAKESPEARE READING MONTH: 1/1   –  COMPLETED
  23. AUSTRALIAN LITERATURE MONTH: 1/1 – COMPLETED
  24. DICKENS READING MONTH: 1/1  – COMPLETED
  25. Graham Green Challenge: 1/1 – COMPLETED

 

With still 3 months to go, it looks like I may actually be able to fulfill all my reading challenges!

BLOGGING EVENTS IN SEPTEMBER

BBAW
Bloggiesta: terrific experience! I managed to accomplish 10 things, one of which being the change of my blog theme, as you can see.
– On the 2nd day of Bloggiesta, I celebrated my 2nd blogiversary, with a giveaway
– I had my first author interview: Debra Dean, author of The Mirrored World.
– I just realized that the book blogger Leslie @ Under My Apple Tree is living very close to me, AND she is also an avid birder!!

MOST POPULAR LATEST REVIEW
Le Road Trip, by Vivian Swift

UPCOMING BLOGGING EVENTS

  • A conference where I will meet Debra Dean in person
  • A bird outing where I will finally meet Leslie @ Under My Apple Tree
  • Launching my first read-along with The House At Riverton, by Kate Morton. The first post will be in November, but I will send the questions for the first part in October, to help those who have signed up to read with me. It’s not too late to do sign-up.
  • On Oct 29, I will post my review of Barbara Kingsolver’s terrific novel: Flight Behavior

CURRENTLY READING

– The Black Count, by Tom Reiss (ebook)
– The Thief, by Fuminori Nakamura
– Itinerary: An Intellectual Journey, by Octavio Paz
– A Lady Cyclist’s Guide to Kashgar, by Suzanne Joinson (audiobook)
– Twelfth Night, by Shakespeare

HAVE YOU READ ANY OF THE BOOKS MENTIONED IN THIS POST?

HOW WAS YOUR READING MONTH OF SEPTEMBER?
DO YOU HAVE SOME SPECIAL READING PLANS
BEFORE THE END OF THE YEAR?