Book 387: The Heart Goes Last – Margaret Atwood

Atwood, Margaret - The Heart Goes LastI didn’t quite get this one read before it’s release, but considering how busy I’ve been, having it read and posted within a week of its release, September 29, is pretty impressive! Any time there is a new Atwood, I get excited. Margaret Atwood is the Queen of Speculative Fiction, among other things. So when I had the opportunity to request a copy and the publisher, Nan A. Talese granted it*, I was over the moon.

I still have a few older Atwood’s on my shelf to read, but the last I read was Stone Mattress and I really liked where she was going. This being said, I’ve seen quite a few reviews recently of The Heart Goes Last where I’ve wanted to slap the reviewers and say WHAT ABOUT THE BOOK? Mostly people were complaining they had bought the first few chapters on a website and then had to buy the whole book to find out what happened (Hello, single song releases?! Do we not remember the “old days” of the 1990s – early 2000s?) As this doesn’t affect me and most readers, I don’t see why it’s important so don’t let that impact your judgement!

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Book 386: The Void of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood #3) – Jeff Wheeler

Wheeler, Jeff - The Void of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood #3)This was one of those books that makes you feel so much that you can’t really respond to it. I lost track of the number of times I teared up because of what was happening in the story. Seriously, within the first 100 pages I’m pretty sure I teared up at least three times. Unfortunately, most of you will have to wait to read it until it’s released on October 27, but you should read it, trust me.

It’s always hard to finish a story, but when it’s written well and has great characters it’s that much harder. A small part of me wasn’t sad because I still have The Lost Abbey to explore when it’s finally released as a collection, but the rest of me is exhausted from living Maia’s story in such a short span of time. Having finished The Banished of Muirwood and The Ciphers of Muirwood rapidly and diving right into this, thanks to 47North*, I’ve been fully immersed in Muirwood for a little over a week (and longer if you count my binge of the first trilogy late last month).

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September Recap 2015

How in the world is it October? I still feel like I’ve just gotten back from Spain, it’s hot and the entire summer is before me, but that was three months ago! In reality, this is the busiest time of the year, it’s getting really cold in New England, we’re facing a potential hurricane in the next week and I’ve already done so many fall things it’s not even funny!

Thankfully, built into this really busy month I had some time to relax. A few of us went out to visit my sister who lives in the middle of a national forest and it was a much-needed break from the business that is Boston. The above left photo shows the offices (far right), pavilion and kitchen (center) and the bunk house (left). It was beautiful and we went for two walks and I took a nap by the pond. The right photo is from like 6AM where we were on the office porch just relaxing because we can’t sleep in anymore! (For more pictures check out my Instagram: geowhaley.

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An Evening with Rebecca Skloot

So this sounds a lot fancier than it was. I’d love to say I sat down one-on-one and picked her brain about what is arguably one of the mos successful book responses I’ve ever written for this blog. And we’re obviously besties, I mean Ms. Skloot favorited my “On the Blog” tweet this past year,

2015 09-29 Radcliffe College DNA Seriesbut alas I didn’t get to sit down one-on one. However, I did get to attend a really cool talk as part of a Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study of Harvard University lecture series: The Past, Present, and Future of DNA.

I first read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks back in July of 2012, two years after its original publication and a year after it came out in paperback. Apparently this was far enough ahead of the curve that my response was the highest visited response on this site until recently. (Thanks Mr. Coehlo!) Not to be a hipster or anything, but yeah that.

2015 09-29 Radcliffe College Skloot EventWhen I found out about the lecture from my friend Martin, I jumped at the opportunity. I remembered really enjoying the book and I knew that it had become this cultural phenomenon through book groups and word of mouth. What I wasn’t expecting was how packed the auditorium was. I’m glad I got there as early as I did because not only was the main auditorium full, but the balcony and two over-flow rooms were as well! It was cool to see Radcliffe up-close and personal as I’ve only ever walked around/by it and never walked through the grounds, unlike the main Harvard campus.

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Book 385: The Ciphers of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood #2) – Jeff Wheeler

Wheeler, Jeff - The Ciphers of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood #2)Picking up right where The Banished of Muirwood leaves off, The Ciphers of Muirwood, or at least Jeff Wheeler, has given me hope for the middle novel of a trilogy. Wheeler talks about this in the afterword of this novel and The Blight of Muirwood and how he loves the middle novel and how it allows for characters to expand and the story to move forward. I can’t wait to re-read The Lord of the Rings and think of it this way rather than my usual, ugh the middle book. Hopefully, it’ll give me a new perspective.

This book gives us more of Maia. It goes more in-depth into her family history and answers some of the outstanding questions of the first book. I was concerned at first as it appeared to be mirroring a bit too much Lia’s journey in the Legends of Muirwood trilogy, but ultimately it was different. There will be potential spoilers to the first book in this series and to the Legends of Muirwood trilogy, so be aware.

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Book 384: The Banished of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood #1) – Jeff Wheeler

Wheeler, Jeff - The Banished of Muirwood (Covenant of Muirwood #1)I should keep track of when I eat my words on this blog. I thought for sure it would be some time before I revisited Muirwood, but lo and behold here I am not even a month later delving right back in.

Having access to early releases is both a boon and the bane of book bloggers. Occasionally you get access to works you’re desperate to read (i.e. any Margaret Atwood, keep an eye out) and you get access to books you’re not sure you’re going to read, but when given the opportunity you jump and this was one of those occasions.

I’m grateful to the publisher, 47North, for providing access to Jeff Wheeler’s new Muirwood trilogy: The Covenant of Muirwood, even if it did mess up my reading schedule. They provided these in return for an honest opinion and I’ve received no compensation. I’m sad I missed the window on The Lost Abbey (#1), but I think I’d rather read that in one go rather than as a serial comic.

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Book 383: Managing Up – Rosanne Badowski and Roger Gittines

Badowski, Rosanne and Roger Gittines - Managing UpMy final foray, at least for the time being, into professional development was Badowski’s Managing Up: How to Forge an Effective Relationship with Those Above You, and if I’m completely honest it’s the only one I should have read.

I enjoyed the “theory” and the “professional opinions” in the Harvard Business Review compilations I read, Managing Up (The 20-Minute Manager Series) and HBR Guide to Managing Up and Across, but neither of them had the wit, the humor or the charm of this book. Seriously, there is something to be said about reading a book that could be an incredibly boring (or pedantic) subject that makes you laugh out loud or giggle to yourself on public transportation. They all provide great advice, but this book offered the advice through the art of storytelling and not the other way around.

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