Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Some Leafing and Some Life and a Winner!

Ah, the book reviews that need writing are piling up on the stand beside me, but I lack the motivation or the energy to write one that will do any book justice. You see, the co-worker whose job I was to take over when she had her baby, uh, had her baby today...a couple of weeks early. So now I find, instead of being the odd-job work whenever you tell me I ought to girl, I've become (temporarily) a legitimate nine to fiver (or, 5:30, but that doesn't have such a nice ring to it...nor is it so nice to actually work). Good on the old paycheck, not so great on the old cache of free time fit for blogging and reading and other such activities that are actually enjoyable (but pay far less in currency that can be traded for great things like food and telephone service and fuel for my vehicle, not to mention its great value in paying off what seems to be only the interest on my student loans which will dog me all of my live long days, no doubt). Oh, and if you were wondering, after my mostly selfish digression there, both mom and baby are doing well after an enviably short labor.

I finished two great books in the not too distant past that I have yet to review. One is my Penguin Classic which I still must blog, A Tranquil Star by Primo Levi, a delightfully slim volume of short stories/essays which fit perfectly into my lunch time at work. All were thought provoking and open to interpretation, most were interesting, some were downright clever and a few were even a bit funny. I've got to get to reviewing it soon, but first I'd really better decide on a few of my favorites to spotlight.

The other book I finished last weekend was Ellington Boulevard by Adam Langer which I surprised myself by liking...a lot. Why was I surprised, you may wonder? Well, it's one of those books, that are becoming more and more common, that seems to think it exists on a higher plane than the common laws of dialogue and quotation marks, which means, of course, that dialogue in its quotation marked, new line for a new speaker format is not to be found in Ellington Boulevard. You may recall that this is a massive pet peeve of mine, but alas, having turned the last page of the book, there was no denying that I loved it despite this transgression. I don't stand a chance of giving you any sort of concise summary of it, but it suffices (for now) to say that it's a great book about New York City and the people who live there. Langer's talent for unique, believable, totally fleshed out characters who are somehow lovable despite their many flaws is undeniable.

Now, I'm in the midst of devouring Tears of the Desert by Halima Bashir. I read the first chapter of this, and I was instantly sucked into Bashir's memoir of her childhood in Sudan. Hers is already a powerful story of growing up in a small, poor Zaghawa village but having a father with the means and the dream to invest in her education. He gives her the opportunity and inspiration to go to university to become a medical doctor who dreams of returning to her village to be the first real doctor there. I know that this story will certainly take a turn for the sad and depressing, but for now, I'm enjoying watching young Halima beat the odds and follow her dreams.

On deck is All We Ever Wanted Was Everything which I've hardly read five pages of yet, but feel the need to share with you because it's got this nifty cover photo of a melting ice cream sundae. Weirdly enticing, no?


And finally...

As you may recall, my Farworld: Water Keep giveaway came to an end late last night, and I have, indeed, drawn a winner. And the winner is....


Congrats Janice!
If you happen to be seeing this, you can e-mail your name and address to me at toadacious1ATyahooDOTcom (if not, I'll be in touch) and I will pass it on to the awesome J. Scott Savage himself who will provide you with a signed ARC of his book. Thanks for playing everybody. Sorry everybody couldn't win. But keep your eyes open, I can assure that this is not the last giveaway that will grace the pages of Leafing Through Life. *exaggerated winking*


  1. I am so glad to see you reading Tears of the Desert. I have this one on the TBR list and am anxiously waiting for my copy!

  2. "Tears of the Desert" sounds good, I'll add it to my wishlist :) Thanks!

  3. "It exists on a higher plane than the common laws of dialogue and quotation marks."

    Oh ha ha! Actually one of the best books I ever read didn't have proper dialogue and quotation marks: Cry, the Beloved Country. When the writing is that good, it doesn't matter.

  4. Nice list of reviews - thanks. . . and good luck with the job . . . meanwhile, can we start a movement where the pleasurable things of life actually are valued, if not in currency, then in social value?

  5. Ooh, the Ellington Boulevard book sounds really interesting,despite using some devices that are a peeve of mine as well. Thanks!

  6. Natasha, I just finished Tears of the Desert this morning, and it was very powerful. I look forward to using it as a jumping off point to participate in your month of Reading for Darfur!

    Kathleen, I just finished it and can't recommend it highly enough, so I sure hope that you get to read a copy soon! =)

    Julie, it's definitely true that there are some great books without proper dialogue format, but oh, when it doesn't work, it reeeallly doesn't work. It has the power to turn an average book into a not-so-good book, so I wish people would be a bit more careful with their uh...disuse of those "laws." But yeah, a great book can usually get away unimpeded by less than obedient dialogue. ;-)

    Andi - I'm all for that movement! It's such a shame to have to put away the things I truly enjoy on hold just to go out and make a buck. When will I be able to quit my crummy job and dedicate my life to reading and writing (but, uh, not 'rithmetic)? Not any time soon, I fear!

    Lesley, glad you think it sounds interesting. I hadn't heard too much about it before it arrived in my mailbox, so I'm excited to get some more people interested in it!

  7. Hey, I have a winner, too. YOU! You won a box of books from Hachette! Come see!