Reading Roundup: April 2013 and Edmonton Reading Scene

Last month, I was feeling pretty smug about getting back on track with reading. I still am, actually, because I read FOUR books this month. But, I only blogged twice. I have so many ideas, abandoned drafts, and book reviews to catch up on. I’ve decided to focus on writing for the next little while. The timing is pretty great, because I’m hosting a Moby Dick readalong starting this month, which means weekly blog posts (gulp.)

It’s tough, because I can’t write from my phone, so I’m limited to when the kids are in bed. We’re trying to limit Ben’s computer time, so I have to set an example. I’ve been reading more by sneaking it in  – that Kobo is in my purse at all times! – but it’s hard to carry the laptop everywhere. Maybe I need to take a “just a little bit everyday” approach like I did with reading. Wish me luck!

Books Read

Kelly Oxford Everything's Perfect When You're A Liar

I hate this cover more than anything in the book.

  • Persuasion by Jane Austen. 3.5/5 stars, I have nothing bad to say about it, but it didn’t really get to me. Great heroine, though.
  • Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams.  3/5 stars. This was my Classics Club Spin pick. I actually liked the second book in the series, The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul, much more. The strength of the books is largely in the main character, and he was oddly absent for much of the first book.
  • The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje. 5/5 stars. Boom. Review (and rebuttal to The Book-a-Week Project’s review) coming soon.
  • Everything is Perfect When You’re a Liar by Kelly Oxford. 3/5 stars. I was sort of dreading this, in case I hated it, but the worst thing I can say is that it was uneven. Also, it weirdly reminded me of Ian McEwan’s Atonement, for some really specific reasons, but even just in general, Briony was a little liar who wanted everything to be perfect, too. Must find time to elaborate!

Books Obtained

The Turn of the Screw BBC

Um how do I obtain this adaptation, that apparently has Lady Mary AND Matthew from Downton?

  • The Turn of the Screw by Henry James. So far, I’m not really into it. But it’s like 100 pages long, so I’ll stick it out.
  • Frances and Bernard by Carlene Bauer. My first library book in ages!  I’m really excited for this one. It’s an epistolary novel, which isn’t always my favourite. Also, “epistolary”  reminds me of “episiotomy,” which is never a good association. But the reviews are strong, and I could probably use some mega romance before getting into the mega whale.

Books I Want to Read

Villette Charlotte Bronte

I’m usually indifferent to “random portrait of a lady” book covers, but I love this one.

  • Villette by Charlotte Bronte. I abandoned Villette after the first chapter, when I realized it’s a 600 pager and wasn’t sure I could finish before the Moby Dick readalong. That’s the thing with e-readers. There’s no weight, no flipping through pages, so a 100 page novella and a 600 page brick look and feel the same. Anyway, I will come back to Villette, because the first chapter was amazing.
  • Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon. Vineland was my favourite read on 2012, so it’s pretty sweet that he’s got a new one coming out so soon. The first page was released online and it’s a little strange… but that’s par for the course.
  • The Rest is Silence by Scott Fotheringham. Rebecca Campbell mentioned this book in her Q&A. I read the premise (rogue bacteria destroys all the plastic in the world) and I’m already hooked! I don’t usually read dystopian or science fiction or however you want to classify this, but it sounds crazy.


Edmonton Reading SceneNeWest Spring Spectacular

  • Readings, signings, live music, tasty beverages… Less than two weeks until NeWest Press Spring Spectacular. I reviewed two of the books being celebrated, Belinda’s Rings and The Paradise Engine, and I’m so excited to meet the authors. The Edmonton Book Bloggers will be there. Won’t you come, too? May 15th, 7pm, Roast Coffee House.  Facebook event page.
  • Speaking of the EBB crew… Edmonton Book Bloggers were in the news! Kristilyn did us all proud by telling our story in the Edmonton Journal.
  • Thanks to the magic of Twitter, I found out about an annual literary event in Edmonton, the Henry Kreisel Memorial Lecture, that, much like the MacEwan Book of the Year, had me thinking “How am I only finding out about this NOW?” Each year, the U of A’s  Canadian Literature Centre puts on this FREE event, bringing a prominent Canadian author in to speak. On April 16, Edi Edugyan, author of Half-Blood Blues, talked about “home” and how that word and that idea has informed her work. She covered German history, slavery, immigration, and Canadian identity in her hour-long lecture. Her memories of visiting her ancestoral home in Ghana for the first time really came alive for me. The strangeness of being an outsider who looks like an insider was as compelling as the anecdotes about their wild taxi driver were hilarious. I would love to read a story along those lines! Check out Winter Distractions for fellow Edmonton Book Blogger’s Kristilyn’s take on Esi’s lecture.

What’s Next on Reading in Bed

Moby Dick! The read-a-long starts on May 20th, so finish up whatever you’re reading and watch for the sign up post next week.



  1. Brie @ Eat Books

    What about writing our post drafts on paper? Sometimes I find my thoughts flow better that way. And less other computer distractions!

    What is it about her cover you hate – is it the whole “liar, liar, pants on fire” thing going on? Clever, but nor really. And what’s the deal with your readalong – one month to read the book?

    • lauratfrey

      Haha how dumb that I didn’t even consider pen and paper. You write posts out on paper, don’t you? I just prefer the computer. I like to move things around. Ctrl-C and Ctrl-P are my friends. But it’s something I will try because the distraction thing can be pretty brutal! I was bragging to my husband about how I don’t watch TV anymore and he said “you just replaced it with Twitter” and he’s totally right!

      I just hate everything about it – the background, her outfit, the pants on fire thing, even the name of the book. But I paid $15 for an ebook so I guess it worked 😛

      I will have a sign up post for the readalong today or tomorrow. It’ll be over two months. It’s 750 pages, so a month is not enough time for me!

      • Brie @ Eat Books

        I don’t write all my posts on paper – usually when the words just aren’t flowing or I feel like I have “writer’s-block”…those times I switch over to paper and the words just seem to flow. Probably because I just write without reading what I wrote. THEN, when I type it up, I spend time re-wording paragraphs, etc, but at least my general thoughts are already laid out.

        Oh phew! I really want to join along (you know, because I’m so awesome at readalongs*) but a month feels too rushed!

        *not really awesome seeing as how I wasn’t able to keep up with the Harry Potter readalong….but that readalong has been like 5 months long!!

  2. Kristilyn

    Great recap, Laura! I put that Kelly Oxford book on hold at the library … since you and Brie were talking about it, I have to check it out!

    As far as reading/blogging goes, I agree with Brie … why not draft on paper first? That way when you DO have some computer time, it might go a little quicker? I would probably justify that I’m the adult … but that’s just me. But you’re right — a good example should be set! Of course, I think reading can be done without guilt …. if there’s a time where you can sneak reading in, if your little one sees it, it might make THEM want to read more. Nothing wrong with that!

    I hope I can make it to the NewWest thing … we’ll see! 🙂

    • lauratfrey

      You should check it out. I laughed out loud – FOR REAL laughed out loud – more than once.

      I don’t hide reading, I read in front of them all the time. It’s the writing, or more specifically, the computer time I don’t like to do in front of them. I would literally have the 3 yr old crawling on top of me demanding to play his “games” ( – fiendishly addicting to children) the entire time. I like your idea of working things out on paper and using the computer time more efficiently. Hmm notebook shopping time! (twist my arm)

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