Saturday, December 31, 2011

Introduction and Plans for Orange January (Jenny)

Hi everyone! My name is Jenny and I have a blog called Reading Envy.  I enjoy nothing more than trying to read every book on a list - I annually read the nominees for the Booker, the National Book Award, the Hugo, and the Nebula, and have tried a few others here and there.  I thought it was only fitting that I started out my activity here by saying hello and posting a list!  This is a list of the books I plan to read in January 2012 for the challenge.

The first four are serving cross-purposes, as I'm also involved in a year-long Around the World reading challenge.  When I compared the lists, many were on the Orange Prize lists, so it was easy to put those first in line.  The other books I will list are books that qualify that are sitting around at home, just begging to be read.  Maybe this will help me knock off a few books from my to-read shelf!
  • The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht
  • Frangipani by Celestine Hitiura Vaite
  • A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian by Marina Lewycka
  • Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
  • Brick Lane by Monica Ali
  • American Life by Curtis Sittenfeld
  • Gut Symmetries by Jeanette Winterson
This might be too ambitious, but that's how I'm going to start out!

As I went through the lists, I discovered that I have actually read quite a few of the Orange Prize nominees in the past few years.  Without hesitation I can say the favorite that I've read is The Powerbook by Jeanette Winterson, and you can see the others here.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Homestead by Rosina Lippi (Jill)

By Rosina Lippi
Completed December 9, 2011

Have you ever selected a book with a good feeling you're going to love it? The story premise sounds interesting, other readers write glowing reviews - even the book cover grabs your interest. Then when you finish the book, you're so excited that you actually loved the book, just like you thought you would? That's exactly how it went for me with my latest book, Homestead by Rosina Lippi.

Homestead is a collection of tales told from the perspective of different women who live in a remote Austrian village from 1909-1977. To help tie their stories together, Lippi provides clan family trees at the beginning of the book. As you're introduced to each woman's chapter, you see her name and clan affiliation, which helps you understand her connection with the other characters in the story. While a woman may be featured in her chapter, she'll appear in other chapters as well. It was a great way to build up different perspectives on the same people.

The women's stories individually are moving, but when taken as a whole, create a fabulous book. Themes of love, loss, deception, greed, farming and raising family all permeate the narratives. The themes are universal, but it's the way Lippi fuses in the Austrian dialect and customs that make Homestead a unique historical read.

Shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 2001, Homestead is exactly why I advocate this award. Without its Orange Prize distinction, I may not have found Homestead, which would have been my loss. I hope other readers who enjoy provocative fiction will consider reading this exquisite book. I can't recommend it enough. ( )

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Lottery by Patricia Wood (Jill)

By Patricia Wood
Completed December 7, 2011

Perry L. Crandall is not retarded. He'll tell you this several times as he narrates Lottery. But he is several things: wise beyond his years, kind, compassionate and darn right likeable. And he makes Patricia Wood's debut novel a joy to read.

Perry lives with his Gram, works at the local marina and studies words every day. Sadly, when his grandmother dies, he's left to deal with his family - a pack of vultures that pick apart Perry's meager inheritance and send him on his way. Thankfully, Perry also has good friends at work, who take him under their wings and give him a place to stay. Perry is good with money and likes to play the lottery. And then the unthinkable happens - he wins millions from the state lottery. And here come the vultures (aka brothers and sisters-in-law) again.

As you learn about Perry's plight with his family, you just want to call a lawyer for him. But as you read the story, you realize that Perry can handle this. And he does - beautifully. While he deals with his crazy family, he forms a truer bond with his friends. He's generous when he needs to be and lucrative in other places. Perry calls himself an "auditor" - a person who listens to the world around him. And because he listens a lot, he understands what people want and need.

Lottery is a true blue, heart-warming novel. It's not a complex read, and the messages of friendship and love make this book a wonderful story. I highly recommend Lottery to anyone who needs to find hope in humanity. ( )

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Orange January 2012 Giveaways

Check out the books I'll be giving away during Orange January 2012:


When I Lived In Modern Times by Linda Grant (2000)
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver (2010)

Shortlisted Books:

The Magician's Assistant by Ann Patchett (1998)
Homestead by Rosina Lippi (2001)
Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2004)
The Observations by Jane Harris (2007)
Lottery by Patricia Wood (2008)
Scottsboro by Ellen Feldman (2009)
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (2010)
Great House by Nicole Krauss (2011)

Longlisted books:

Gilgamesh by Joan London (2004)
Case Histories by Kate Atkinson (2005)
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld (2006)
A Mercy by Toni Morrison (2009)
The Personal History of Rachel DuPree by Ann Weingarber (2009)
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell (2011)
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin (2011)

Finally, other books (maybe a future Orange Prize nominee?):

Abide With Me by Elizabeth Strout
Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
The Last Nude by Ellis Avery
Untold Story by Monica Ali

Sound like fun? I hope so! I'll host my first giveaway on January 1, 2012. For more information, check out the Orange January 2012 blog post, or join us on our Facebook page and LibraryThing group.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Who's ready for Orange January 2012?

Orange January is when you pledge to read at least one Orange Prize winner or nominee during the month of January. It's a great time to explore fantastic books, win prizes and meet new friends. Check out my blog post for all the details!