All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld

April 17, 2014 12:00 AM

Publisher: Pantheon
Source: Won in Goodreads Giveaway

Alone on a dreary, secluded British island, Jake Whyte wakes to find that something, or someone, has killed some of the sheep she is responsible for tending. Jake grows increasingly paranoid as she begins to hear scratching and voices in the night, shaken by both her solitude and the haunting fears of the life she left behind.  

Told in a series of flashbacks intersected by present day, readers journey backward through Jake's life, as All the Birds, Singing pieces together the horrific events that led her to seek life alone on a quiet island. Through this style, Wyld builds not only the tension of her beautiful novel, but the depth of its increasingly complex protagonist. 
"I can feel my strong arms floating from my shoulders, as weak as feathers. I want to do something to make him understand that it is important that this doesn't happen. I am sorry for my bad behaviour, I want to tell him, I want to say I won't do it again, I promise. I will take the beating with a brush, but not this. But all I can make is the word 'Please.'"
The atmosphere of All the Birds, Singing is full of weight and rain, soaking every page of the novel in a ceaseless dampening that readers can practically smell. Wyld's writing is absolutely transformative and makes it nearly impossible not to feel Jake's isolation, strength and tension.

Already topping lists in the UK since its release last year, All the Birds, Singing is a marvel of a novel sure to find accolades and awards here in the US as well.

101 (or Maybe Just 22) Questions

April 16, 2014 7:57 AM
Are you ready to learn way more than you ever expected to know about me? There must be some kind of conspiracy going on, because I was tagged for a Libester Award twice over the past week. I'm not too sure where this meme originated or all the rules behind it, but if Joy and Caro are curious enough to want to take a peek inside my head, I think I should comply!

The lovely Joy from Joy's Book Blog asked the following 11 questions...

What place is on the top of your vacation wish list and why?
This is so hard because all of my current travels have been limited to North America and I'm desperate to go everywhere in Europe! If I have to pick one place, though, I'm going with Rome - it seems like it would be the perfect mix for my love of history, food and architecture. 

Where did you grow up? How has that influenced who you are today?
I grew up in a small town about 30 minutes north of Detroit and lived there until about six years ago when my husband and I moved to Richmond. I think growing up in Michigan gave me that sense of doing things "the hard way on purpose" like David Giffels mentioned in his recent book on the Rust Belt, though I lose a bit of that the longer we're in Virginia. 

What song do you listen to most frequently or put on the most playlists?
Oh wow, this is nearly impossible. I'm sure if I added everything up, it would be a Joanna Newsom song (her album Have on On Me is definitely my most listened to full album - she's adorable and plays the harp and married to Andy Samberg, now go listen to her and love her) or something by Fleet Foxes. Maybe Father John Misty more recently. Blogging took over much of my time to discover new music, but I still have a soft spot for an amazing solo-ish, folky voice. 

What’s your favorite television show?
There are really only a couple TV shows I still watch, but it would have to be Game of Thrones.

What was the last movie you watched? Did you like it? Were you at home or in a theater?
My husband and I went to see Noah in the theater, because we're big Darren Aronofsky geeks and will see any movie he makes (even though The Fountain was only worth it for like the last 2 minutes). It was actually better than I was expecting. 

When did you start your book blog and why?
I started River City Reading in February 2013, mostly because I was writing reviews for books I was getting from NetGalley on GoodReads and just wanted more space to talk about my reading.

What’s your favorite post, ever, on your blog?
This is hard, too! I'm pretty critical of the things I write. I do feel like the first Edelweiss tutorial I made was really helpful for other bloggers, though, so I'm proud of that. 

What author would you most like to have a cup of tea with? What would you talk about?
I think I mentioned this when I answered a few questions on Traveling With T's blog and I'll stick with my original answer. I'm not going to be deep here - I'm aiming to get as much out of George R.R. Martin as I can.

What book do you wish everyone would read?
I think we'd all be a little bit happier with ourselves if we read Cheryl Strayed's Tiny Beautiful Things.

How do Advanced Review Copies of books end up in your hands?
Most recently it seems like ARCs are arriving based on some combination of my own publisher requests, LibraryThing/GoodReads/Shelf Awareness giveaways and just showing up.

Print books? E-books? Audio books? Or some combination thereof?
A combination, though I don't listen to many audiobooks and have started to skew mostly toward print because that's what comes to me. I'd say I'm probably 75% print, 20% e-book, 5% audiobook.

And Caro from A Girl That Likes Books wants to know...

Do you make part of any book club? If so how did you come to join it, if not is there any that tempts you? 
I have an incredible in real life book club that I formed with friends about two years ago. We meet once a month, read amazing books, drink a little too much and eat fabulous food. 

What is your least favorite genre, the one you just can't seem to like at all? 
There is just absolutely nothing appealing to me when it comes to romance novels.

Do you listen to any bookish podcasts? If so which ones and why?

Is there a program for people who spend too much time listening to bookish podcasts? Because I should probably sign up. Literary Disco is hands down my favorite, but these are the podcasts I listen to most often.

What is your favorite place to read?

If I have the option of reading on my front porch, I'm taking it! 

What is your stand on Audio books? 

I don't have a problem with them, but I don't listen too often...probably because I tend to choose podcasts when I have the option. If I'm going on a long trip, though, I'll load up.

As a kid, what was your favorite book? 

Berenstein Bears>Harriet The Spy>The Baby-Sitters Club>Fear Street>The Giver

Do you write in books? If no, how do you manage the notes for your reviews?

Unless I have a really old, well-loved copy of a book, writing inside is a big no-no for me. I'm a huge fan of PostIt Flags and flag the crap out of the books I read until I'm done. 

What is the book that you haven't read but everyone keeps saying you should? 

Ah, there are so many! Most recently, probably The Golem and the Jinni

Have you ever lied about reading (or not) a book? Why? 

I don't think I've outright lied about reading a book, but there have been situations where I haven't volunteered that I didn't read a book because I didn't want to feel stupid!

What is the best bookish gift you have ever received? 
When my husband and I gifted ourselves our library shelves!

Do you have a goal of books per year? How do you determine it?

I set a goal on Goodreads, usually just bumped up a bit from what I read the previous year. Since I read 169 books last year I set my 2014 goal at 175 and I already know I won't make that. 

Okay, time for me to tag two bloggers to receive the award. I'm going with two blogs I just recently started following and enjoying: Karen from One More Page and The Daily Dosage. You know I'm going to have to re-use some of these great questions!

1. Do you have a specific way that you organize your bookshelves? If so, what made you choose that system?
2. How has your reading changed since you started blogging, if it has at all?
3. Do you ever wish you had chosen a different career/education path? If so, what?
4. If you had to guess, what percentage of your  reading do you think is done in print, e-book and audiobook?
5. How did you choose the name for your blog?
6. What was the best book you read last year?
7. What was the last movie you watched? Did you like it? Were you at home or in a theater?
8. Do you read hardcover books with or without the dust jacket? Why?
9. What is a book you haven't read but everyone keeps saying you should?
10. What upcoming 2014 book are you most excited about reading?
11. What book do you wish everyone would read?

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Things I'd Like to Own

April 15, 2014 12:00 AM
Ooo, it's like bookish Christmas! I tried to put together a list for today's Top Ten Tuesday that isn't a rehash of the same gifts we've seen over and over, though there are definitely a few nerdy favorites.


Timeline Classics
Look, look! The spines make a timeline! *dies*

Atticus Finch Runs Maycomb County T-Shirt
Because he does. I would wear this shirt to threads.

Look how adorable they are! I want to write in a little Transfiguration book.

I Brake for Book Sales License Plate Holder
My nerd-dom would be complete. So complete.

Little Flans. I want her on all of my walls.

Walden Litograph
Thoreau can be on my walls, too, with all of his words.

It turns your light off when you put your book on the shelf. These people, they think of everything.

Flask Book Box
I know, I know. Blasphemy. Whatever. I want to pull my flask out of a book!

Book Darts
I think all you lucky BookRiot Quarterly subscribers got these last month and I was super jealous. I go through a stupid number of PostIt Flags while reading, so I need these.

Stark Siblings Tee
Just kidding, I already own this and it's the BEST. 

What are some bookish goodies you're dying to own?

It's Monday April 14th, What Are You Reading?

April 14, 2014 12:00 AM
Lovers at the Chameleon Club and Ruby
Well, it's been a rather interesting week here at the River City Reading household. After a miserable Monday I went to the doctor and ended up scheduling gallbladder surgery for Friday. I guess you can't count on bodies for much, though, because by 2 am Thursday I was in the emergency room with surgery scheduled for later in the day. It ended up being a little more complicated than what the surgery is normally like, from what  I understand, so I spent a few days at the hospital. I'm finally home and feeling much better, though. 

Even though I wasn't able to read much over the last few days, I did finish the books I started last week and this week I'm working my way through Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 by Francine Prose and Ruby by Cynthia Bond. 


Recently Read, Head-to-Head: The Word Exchange and Smarter Than You Think

April 9, 2014 12:00 AM
As readers, we know that every book we read leaves an imprint on us and impacts the way we perceive the world. Sometimes that imprint is small enough that we are able to ignore it, but every once in a while our reading aligns in a way that allows us to really see how much our thinking has changed. 

I recently read Clive Thompson's book Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better followed closely by The Word Exchange, Alena Graedon's new novel that centers on the dangers of technology and the loss of the printed word. It wasn't an intentional design, but choosing the books back to back definitely had an impact on my reading experience.

The Word Exchange takes place in a near future where digital reading material has almost completely replaced print and humans are even more connected to their handheld devices, known as "Memes", than we are today. Following the disappearance of her father, who had been working on a final edition of the North American Dictionary of the English Language, Anana finds herself pulled into a fight to save more than just her father's dictionary, but the written word itself. 

While there is so much to enjoy in Graedon's book, I found myself unable to get fully immersed in the novel's world because I kept questioning it based on information from Smarter Than You Think. It's a silly way to approach fiction, but I can't account for brains doing strange things! (You can find great reviews of The Word Exchange from The Steadfast Reader, Books Speak VolumesThe Gilmore Guide to Books and Love at First Book)

Among dozens of other bits and pieces, Clive Thompson reminds us that these feelings toward technology go back as far as the invention of the printing press and even the ancient Greeks, as Socrates believed writing itself to be inferior to dialogue. Sound familiar? Truthfully, Thompson and Graedon's books work in perfect balance of one another. If you've recently read and loved The Word Exchange, but find yourself coming down with "word flu" and fearing the internet, you might want to pick up Smarter Than You Think to help even yourself out

Have you ever had a reading experience impacted by a book you recently read?

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Unique Books I've Read

April 8, 2014 12:00 AM
Most Unique Books

This week's Top Ten Tuesday topic is unique books. While tons of titles popped in my head as unique for various reasons, these are the ten that stood out to me as I was making my final list.

When Women Were Birds by Terry Tempest Williams
Part memoir, part vignettes, all beautiful. Subtitled "Fifty-four Variations on Voice", it's nearly impossible to summarize or compare, but is an absolutely stunning read. [Review]

The Wives of Los Alamos by TaraShea Nesbit
Not only does TaraShea Nesbit use first person plural, but she uses it in a way that works. [Review]

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
Jesuit priests looking for alien life on another planet? It sounds crazypants, but it's amazing. I couldn't even review it, all I could say was JUST READ IT. [Review]

Duplex by Kathryn Davis
A total mind-bender in a tiny package. I'm still turning over questions around this book several months later. [Review]

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
The structure of this novel made it such an enjoyable read for me, with stories nesting within and connecting to one another in such a unique way.

I Await the Devil's Coming by Mary MacLane
The confessional diary of a forward-thinking 19 year-old woman living in Butte, Montana in 1902 sounds like it would be fairly average...until you read it. [Review]

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
This book totally blew my mind when I read it in college. So much so that I had a hard time enjoying it at the time (though I've been meaning to re-read). It's a book that makes you work, for sure. 

The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock
I've yet to find another book that takes so many horrifically disturbing scenes, written not to shock but in service of an amazing plot, and combines them with such incredible language. Where are you Donald Ray Pollock? I want to give you all of my money. 

Equilateral by Ken Kalfus
Like The Sparrow, the premise of Equilateral is so far out there that it sounds insane. Maybe it is. But it's also an incredibly smart, totally unique look at a corner of history. [Review]

Girlchild by Tupelo Hassman
Told through diary entries, child protective services reports, school assignments and a collection of other documents, this book is completely heartbreaking but wonderfully unique. 

What books have you read that stand out from the others?

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