My Orange July 2011 Reading Wrap-Up

Orange July 2001 Books Read
What a great reading month! I am proud that I finished nine books for Orange July! As you can see from my book pile, I read an eclectic group of Orange Prize winners and nominees. Here’s the summary:

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell (review) – 4.5 stars

Great House by Nicole Krauss (review) – 4 stars

Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (review) – 4 stars

When I Lived in Modern Times by Linda Grant (review) – 3 stars

The Personal History of Rachel DuPree by Ann Weisgarber (review) – 4 stars

Scottsboro by Ellen Feldman (review) – 5 stars

The Magician’s Assistant by Ann Patchett (review) – 5 stars

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin (review) – 3 stars

Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld (review) – 4 stars

And thanks to my LibraryThing friend, Darryl, I have accepted his challenge to read at least one Orange book every month until Orange January – when we do this all again! I hope you’ll join in our Orange madness! =)

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BOOK REVIEW: Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld

Prep by Curtis SittenfeldPrep
By Curtis Sittenfeld
Completed August 1, 2011

Lee Fiora decided at the tender age of 13 that she wanted to escape her hometown of South Bend, Indiana, and take part in an idyllic rite of passage – boarding school. Despite her parents’ lack of financial support, she applied to Ault School in Massachusetts and received a scholarship for her tuition. Prep is the story of Lee’s life as a boarding school student – an intriguing look at the socialization of high school students at a prestigious boarding school.

As a graduate of a small, all-women’s college, I found many of Lee’s experiences very similar: the traditions, hazing rituals, cafeteria food and dorm experiences all seemed like pages from my life history. Attending small, private institutions can be very alluring. Unfortunately, though, for many students, it can turn into a private hell.

High school is tough – the feelings of being left out, socially awkward and trying to second guess everyone’s motives weigh down most teenagers. Lee did all this and more. Lee was blessed with a wicked sense of humor but rarely showed it. She had a few good friends but remained aloof with most of her classmates. And when she finally gets the attention of her crush, Lee surrenders herself without a second glance. As I read Lee’s story, I commiserated with her plight as a scholarship student in a sea of wealthy kids but frowned at some of her mistakes. Sometimes, Lee was her own worst enemy.

And then I smiled, because that’s what being a teenage girl is all about: learning, growing and making mistakes. As Prep concluded, I knew Lee was a better person as a result of her Ault experiences.  This story was a great reminder of the journey teenage girls take to become self-sufficient women. If you’re a mom to a young girl or a young woman yourself, put Prep high on your reading list. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in this enchanting coming of age tale. (  )

And the winner of THE SUMMER WITHOUT MEN is….

Linda!

Congratulations! Please email me your mailing address: jillceleste AT hotmail DOT com.

Thanks everyone for your thoughtful responses. I am so glad Orange July was a rewarding experience for you. And don’t forget: we do this all again in January!

Orange Prize Giveaway #16: The Summer Without Men

The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt

Giveaway closed. Stay tuned for the winner!

Up for Grabs: The Summer Without Men by Siri Hustvedt

Your activity: Aww, the last day of July! As we bring a close to Orange July 2011, in the comments below, tell us about your experience. How many books did you read? What books did you read? Which one was your favorite? Were there any disappointing reads? However you want to state it, I am curious to read about your Orange July experience!

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Giveaway ends at 9pm EST. Winner will be chosen randomly from those who comment on this blog only (Facebook comments will not count). I will announce the winner on this blog, so be sure to check back or subscribe (look for black “Sign Me Up!” button on top left).

Open to all participants – no matter where you live or if you’ve won already!

You can still play even if you don’t want the book. Just let me know in your comments to exclude you from the drawing.

Enjoy your Sunday!

And the winner of AFTERWARDS is….

TERRI!

Congratulations! When you have a moment, please email me your mailing address (though I think I have it…somewhere!). Send it anyway! =) jillceleste AT hotmail DOT com

GREAT responses to today’s question – thanks for playing!

(Winner selected with help from random.org.)

BOOK REVIEW: The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives by Lola Shoneyin

The Secret Wives of Babi Segi's Wives by Lola ShoneyinThe Secret Lives of Baba Sagi’s Wives
By Lola Shoneyin
Completed July 29, 2011

Bolanle is the youngest and newest wife to enter Baba Sagi’s household. The only one of the wives that is educated, Bonanle presents a threat to the other wives – in more ways than one. They are intimidated by her education and concerned that a secret shared by all three wives will be revealed. So begins the plight of the women who are the cornerstone to The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives.

Told from alternating viewpoints, Lola Shoneyin gives her readers just enough to keep the story moving, uncovering small angles of the story with each chapter. We learn about each wife: Iya Segi, Iya Tope and Iya Femi as well as Bolanle and Babi Segi. Individually, their stories are a fascinating look at polygamous marriage and how they came to marry Babi Segi.

While the entire story was engaging, I found the first three wives to be horrible, conniving and distrustful. I didn’t like them, even as I learned their “backstories.” Baba Segi was even less likeable. Bonanle was the saving grace, and I was usually relieved when I learned the next chapter would be told from her point of view. The ending was sad – unnecessarily tragic – and I let out a big sigh when I finished this book. All in all, The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives was just an average read for me. Be sure to check out others’ reviews, though, before deciding to read this book. (  )

FTC Disclosure: This book was sent to me by the publisher for review on my blog.

Orange Prize Giveaway #15: Afterwards

Afterwards by Rachel Seiffert

Giveaway closed. Stay tuned for the winner!

Up for Grabs: Afterwards by Rachel Seiffert

Your activity: Have you ever read an Orange Prize-nominated book and wonder “How did this book NOT win?!?” In the comments below, let us know which Orange Prize nominee was worthy of the grand prize.

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Giveaway ends at 9pm EST. Winner will be chosen randomly from those who comment on this blog only (Facebook comments will not count). I will announce the winner on this blog, so be sure to check back or subscribe (look for black “Sign Me Up!” button on top left).

Open to all participants – no matter where you live or if you’ve won already!

You can still play even if you don’t want the book. Just let me know in your comments to exclude you from the drawing.

Thanks for participating!

And the winner of Let The Northern Lights Erase Your Name is….

CHAR!

Congratulations! Please email me your mailing address at your earliest convenience: jillceleste AT hotmail DOT com.

Wow! You all replied with some wonderful book titles. Thanks for playing!

Orange Prize Giveaway #14: Let The Northern Lights Erase Your Name

Let The Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida

Giveaway closed. Stay tuned for the winner!

Up for Grabs: Let The Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida

Your activity: I just love the title of today’s book giveaway. It’s probably one of the coolest book titles I’ve stumbled across. What great book titles have you seen? Have you ever read a book based solely on its title? Let’s discuss in our comments below!

***

Giveaway ends at 9pm EST. Winner will be chosen randomly from those who comment on this blog only (Facebook comments will not count). I will announce the winner on this blog, so be sure to check back or subscribe (look for black “Sign Me Up!” button on top left).

Open to all participants – no matter where you live or if you’ve won already!

You can still play even if you don’t want the book. Just let me know in your comments to exclude you from the drawing.

Thanks for participating!

And the winner of Coventry is….

Jayme!

Yahoo! Please send me your mailing address at your earliest convenience: jillceleste AT hotmail DOT com.

Thanks everyone for playing! Hope you had fun!

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