Continuing my Ebook Challenge this year! I recently chose to read Rivers by Michael Farris Smith off my iPad. From Goodreads:

It had been raining for weeks. Maybe months. He had forgotten the last day that it hadn’t rained, when the storms gave way to the pale blue of the Gulf sky, when the birds flew and the clouds were white and sunshine glistened across the drenched land.

Following years of catastrophic hurricanes, the Gulf Coast—stretching from the Florida panhandle to the western Louisiana border—has been brought to its knees. The region is so punished and depleted that the government has drawn a new boundary ninety miles north of the coastline. Life below the Line offers no services, no electricity, and no resources, and those who stay behind live by their own rules.

Eerily prophetic in its depiction of a southern landscape ravaged by extreme weather, Rivers is a masterful tale of survival and redemption in a world where the next devastating storm is never far behind.

I am so in the mood for post-apocalypse books right now, and Rivers worked well for me. It’s hard not to compare to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, of course, and these books could be cousins as far as the devastating near-future setting goes, but they are different enough to be enjoyed without wishing you were reading the other.

The aspect I liked best about Rivers was Smith’s detailed world building, especially for the crushing weather—constant rain, frequent hurricanes gaining strength one after another. The bleak, brutal wetness and cold is palpable in this book. Also, there was a lot more action in Rivers than I expected—impossible situations, violence, kill-or-be-killed stuff, which I found all appropriate to the desperate nature of this new world.

A few things didn’t quite work for me, specifically that I didn’t feel like I really knew Cohen, despite being the protagonist and several flashbacks to his life before the storms (which had a tendency to be long sometimes, I’m not sure I cared so much). None of the characters were fleshed out much‚ Cohen is the only one whose past we learn about and I still didn’t feel like he was fully realized.

I enjoyed it a lot though—this scenario of seemingly endless storms ravaging our country is a terrifying prospect and I thought it was imagined well here in Rivers. I’m sure I would have gotten through this faster if I didn’t feel a pinch by a few library books that were coming up due and other life stuff in general.

Rivers is my second of twelve books read for my Ebook Challenge.

Read from February 17 to March 14, 2015.

it’s monday! what are you reading?

It’s Monday, what are you reading?—a weekly blog meme hosted by Sheila at Book Journey.

It’s going to be a crazy week, people! I just enjoyed one of my last peaceful weekends for a while, now that the semester/concert season is in full swing. On Saturday I finished reading The Walking Dead: Compendium One by Robert Kirkman (and saw Buddy Guy perform!). Review coming up soon, hopefully tomorrow!

I always have the worst trouble starting a new book. I just agonize over it, for some reason! I stand in front of my bookcase staring for several minutes. Then I open up my iPad and stare at my ebooks I’ve downloaded. Then I go back to the bookcase. Repeat repeat repeat. Yesterday I finally settled on Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink, though, partly because I had just read a couple books by male authors (I’m more aware of this now since I started keeping a spreadsheet for my reading this year… self-overanalyzing is happening, people) and Five Days is another from that 2013 book-buying binge that I’m finally starting to try to whittle down. It’s a little dry but less textbook-y than I was expecting, which is good. I’m hoping I can finish it this week but it’s a bit of a chunkster—almost 500 pages! We’ll see.

What are you reading this week?

december reading goals

I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving (U.S. readers… and a great last-November-weekend world-wide 🙂 )! I didn’t travel and I had a couple days off work, so I was able to get a lot of reading in over the weekend. Best part…

Yeah baby! My 50th book was Willie Nelson’s Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die, part of my own little personal readathon over these four free days I just had. I will put up a post of mini-reviews later this week on the books I finished/read/started.

I don’t usually set formal reading goals each month, but for December, since I know it’ll go fast, there are four books I’d really like to read/finish before the end of the year:

  • 11/22/63 … Stephen King
  • Sudden Sea … R.A. Scotti
  • Driven … Donald Driver
  • MaddAddam … Margaret Atwood

I’ll finish 11/22/63 for our #112263Along before the readalong ends on December 22, and Sudden Sea is our December pick for my library’s Stranger than Fiction book group (about the 1938 hurricane that devastated the New England coast)—we have our discussion on December 20. I chose Donald Driver’s new memoir, Driven, as my win from A.M.B.‘s Literary Blog Hop contest a few weeks ago, and I just love Donald Driver and need something Packers-related that’s inspiring and uplifting (seeing as how they’re performance during games lately is anything but 😦 tears. Still love ’em, though). Lastly, I really want to read the third installment of Atwood’s masterful dystopian series, MaddAddam. I listened to Oryx and Crake on audio over the summer and was hooked, and I think I’d like to experience the whole trilogy before the year is over.

Anyway, if I can read these four books in December, I feel like I’ll have done all right. More reflection on my reading for the year in general will come later on at the end of the month!

What books are you guys are looking forward to reading to close out the year?

isaac’s storm

Inspired by the big snow storms that barreled through Kansas City last week, I decided to read Isaac’s Storm by Erik Larson. This one has been on my TBR for not too terribly long, but what better time to read it than holed up at home on a couple of snow days off from work!

Isaac’s Storm is a historical non-fiction about the Galveston Hurricane of 1900, which struck the coastal Texas island town and claimed the lives of an estimated 8,000 people. Also part biography, Larson connects the storm to Galveston’s chief meteorologist at the time, Isaac Cline, and lays out the early developments in weather forecasting in the United States.

This book attracted my attention because I had previously read Larson’s The Devil in the White City in 2011 and really enjoyed learning about a strikingly interesting element in the midst of a notably historical event. While Isaac’s Storm was written before The Devil in the White City, it is certainly still in that vein. Isaac’s Storm started off a bit slow for me, but once I reached the account of the storm it was very difficult to put down. Larson recreated the confusion, terror, and grim devastation of that fateful day with evocative, breathtaking detail.

I was floored by the audacity of bureaucratic competition and communication sabotage between American and Caribbean weather departments, when it was becoming clear that storms like this were wild, dangerous, and not often so predictable. While he did seem a quite brilliant man, Isaac’s arrogance and egoism (as well as his brother Joseph’s) is mind boggling—that he would later praise himself for his actions (or at least what he told people he did) during the crisis! I couldn’t believe, after so many deaths, he didn’t seem to take much responsibility for his lackadaisical forecasts of the storm. The last few pages are staggeringly affecting—when Larson discusses how the public has pretty much forgotten that hurricanes can be profoundly fatal on a massive scale. A mere five years after this book was published, Hurricane Katrina took New Orleans.

I would recommend this book if you like history, American history, science, weather phenomena, and Erik Larson’s other books. I’m definitely marking down his books that I haven’t read yet on my to-read list!

Isaac’s Storm was my third read of twelve books total for the 2013 TBR Pile Challenge, hosted by Adam at Roof Beam Reader.

Read from February 25 to 28, 2013.

snow day

DSC03104Hello everyone! The last few weeks have been very busy but I’ve been cooped up for
a couple days due to Winter Storm Q.
I expected to get more reading done during the two snows days I got off from work, but ended up napping and shoveling a lot instead. Here at my house in Kansas City
I think there was at least a foot of snow.
I’m a little sore now, but I have a concert
Heritage Philharmonic to get through tonight!

Books Feb 23Anyway, I also got new books this week: The Painted Girls, The End of Your Life Book ClubThe Round House, and The Love Song of Jonny ValentineJonny Valentine I won as a giveaway last month from The Relentless Reader and it just arrived, and the other three I bought for myself. In April my husband and I are moving and the new place won’t have internet, so I expect to get a lot of reading done in the evenings and weekends once we’re over there. Currently I’m back down to a one book per week and I’m hoping to ramp back up my pace soon!