Friday, August 11, 2017

Thrillers Worth Reading

I normally don't read thrillers for a few reasons. I don't feel like I'm reading them fast enough. So sometimes I skip parts or skim sections to read faster. I don't like some of the tropes, like unreliable narrator due to addiction or mental illness. And sometimes the story is just too far fetched. I know it is ironic that someone who LOVES cozies thinks thrillers are too far fetched. I guess I just expect more out of those.

Even though I don't read them very often, I pick one up every so often and I like it! So here are a few thrillers that were worth my time to read them.

I Found You by Lisa Jewell
I Found You A man in London disappears on his way home and his young wife goes looking for him. A man mysteriously shows up on a beach elsewhere in the UK. But it isn't what you think. The multiple points of view worked really well. There were surprises. It was not overly graphic, which I really appreciated.

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
A Head Full of Ghosts I think this one is technically termed horror. I would say it is more like supernatural thriller. An adult woman is reliving her traumatic childhood memories of her sister's exorcism through a series of blog posts which review the TV show about the exorcism. There are definitely lots of questions about what was supernatural and what was manipulation.

Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barbar
Are You Sleeping This is another family in crisis book similar to A Head Full of Ghosts. The story is interspersed with tweets, message board comments, and transcripts from a podcast. I really liked the exterior people commenting on what is going on as the family is working through what really happened.


In The Shadow of Lakecrest by Elizabeth Blackwell
In the Shadow of Lakecrest Kate is trying to hide her less than desirable family from her new wealthy and important in laws. As her family grows, she discovers many secrets that lead to a shocking ending. As you can tell by the cover, this one is not set in modern day. It is actually set in the 1920's, I think.

Do you have any thrillers that you have really enjoyed?



Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Multi-cultural kids books

When I get books from the library for Lily, I always make sure to get at least one book with characters that look different than her. These are some of her favorites.


Auntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic by Ginnie LoAuntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic This is a story of a Chinese American family that discovered a farmer near them growing soybeans and that started a huge picnic. Lily calls the book "Mao dou (mao doe)" which is the Chinese word for soybeans.

Little Kunoichi, The Ninja Girl by Sanae Ishida
Little Kunoichi, The Ninja Girl This is the story of a girl and a boy working and practicing hard and finding success at their respective schools. Lily calls this one Kunoichi, but she also uses the word shugyo, which I think is the idea of lots of practice to make yourself better.

The Water Princess by Susan Verde, Georgie Badiel, and Peter H. Reynolds (illustrator)
The Water PrincessThis is based on the childhood of Georgie Badiel in Africa. There is an information page in the book with more details. Princess Gie Gie has to walk to get water and that takes most of the day. Lily likes Princess Gie Gie, but doesn't yet understand that this still happens today. It did offer an opportunity for discussion.

Momma, Where Are You From? by Marie Bradby and Chris K. Soentpiet
Momma, Where Are You From?This is Momma's story of her childhood including segregation. Even though there were things she didn't understand, like segregation, there was a lot of love and happiness. So you can have a discussion about segregation and you can see that "they" are a lot like you with family, friends, fun, and love. There are also events like buying blocks of ice and heating irons on the stove. Lily calls this one Momma and says she would like to dance in the shadows like they did.

Gazpacho for Nacho by Tracey C. Kyle
Gazpacho for Nacho Nacho only likes to eat Gazpacho until Mami teaches him how to cook. There are so many Spanish words in this book! And a bit of magical realism when the vegetables they shop for are bigger than the people. The whole thing rhymes in both English and Spanish. Kids not only get to learn Spanish words, but also Spanish dishes like gazpacho and Spanish tortilla. This one is a lot of fun. Lily calls this one Nacho and loves to see the tortilla under the silla.

Jingle Dancer by Cynthia Leitich Smith, Ying Hwa Hu (illustrator), Cornelius Van Wright (illustrator)

Jingle DancerJenna wants to dance at the next powwow, but doesn't have enough jingles. She finds jingles and dances for several special women in her life. The book mentions fry bread, Indian tacos, powwows, and a few other things. There is also a note that briefly discusses Jenna's heritage as Muskogee and Ojibwa. It talks a little about jingle dances. Lily likes Jenna's dress and the dance.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

A Sucker for Settings

Recently it occurred to me that there are a couple settings that I always enjoy. I am definitely a reader who counts on a sense of place to really submerse myself in the book.  Some settings just don't interest me, but others will draw me in even if the story stinks.  I have mentioned this before, but this is a different kind of setting. (Although I am very into the Southeastern US now! Maybe that will be a post for next week.)

If the characters live in these places,  I am in love.

1. A seaside cottage, especially when it is raining or snowing and there is a fire going.  I'm sure that seems really specific, but that is just about the coziest fictional scene I can imagine. The book I am currently reading, I Found You, is that cozy, which is good because the suspense is creeping me out. This is also the reason I love the Josie Prescott cozy mystery series.


2. A mansion/estate/big house with a long gravel driveway in the spring or summer with interesting gardens. Again that is specific, but there are so many stories you can tell there! Romance, horror, mystery, literary fiction, etc. A couple off the top of my head,  The Haunting of Hill House and Wuthering Heights.

There might be more places, but those are off the top of my head.  What books do you know of that have these settings?

Friday, July 14, 2017

Super Long Books I Want To Read

Some people love the really long books.  I am not one of those people.  However, every great now and then a book is just too good not to read. Several years ago I read the unabridged version of The Count of Monte Cristo. I think it was about 800 pages, but I flew through it because it was amazing.  I'm so glad I took the time to read it.  In the last few months,  a couple other really long books have made it on my radar. I don't know when I will brave enough to pick them up,  but I am really thinking about it.



Les Misérables by Victor Hugo (1463 pages)

It by Stephen King (1116 pages)

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (964 pages)

The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo (695 pages)

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas (786 pages)

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss (662 pages)

11/22/63 by Stephen King (849 pages)

Crime and Punishment by Fydor Dostoyevsky (671 pages)

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (536 pages)

The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio (876 pages)

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Book or Movie?: The Haunting of Hill House

This week I listened to The Haunting of Hill House on audiobook. I also watched The Haunting from both 1963 and 1999. Which one is better?

There is not one answer to that question.  So I will go through the things I liked about each one.





 Image result for the haunting of hill house

The book has a really distinct narrative voice for Eleanor. It is a close 3rd person narrative voice. You are not in her head, but someone who is in her head is telling us about it. That is a strength of the book. The 3rd person point of view keeps us wondering if Eleanor is insane or haunted. If we were just in her head, there would not be the tension that we get. Also the close 3rd person keeps us wondering if the others have the same haunting experience in the house. So we are again in the tension of sanity or haunting. There are also many scenes outside in the book. So we get an idea that the land itself and not simply the house is the problem. In the beginning, we here about Eleanor's experience with the rocks falling on her house and we wonder about her causing the poltergeist activity. However, this thought is not developed much. That was disappointing. The introduction of Mrs. Montague and Arthur seemed pointless to me. The movies did a good job of making the wife relevant. The ending is a bit anti-climactic. The ending is less horror movie and more a question of sanity or haunting. So it makes sense considering the focus of the previous parts of the book.

Image result for the haunting 1963

The 1963 movie starts out in Eleanor's head. So we get a glimpse of that, but it does not continue, which disappointed me. The beginning also shows us Eleanor fighting with her sister and what that relationship looks like. Luke is a member of the family in this version, which is closer to the book and I like that. Luke is rather spoiled and snotty in this version, which I didn't get in the book. The professor's wife is annoying just like in the book, but not for the same reasons. However, her change of opinion towards the ideas of haunting is really effective for the movie. I like this ending. It is not a big dramatic supernatural ending,which is closer to the book. However, the ending does not leave us wondering about Eleanor's sanity or haunting. The doctor is more academic and nicer, which is also closer to the book. There are no scenes exploring outside like they do in the book, which was disappointing. This movie does begin by showing us what happened to Hugh Crain's wife,which is the same story as the book. This one also has Eleanor dancing with Hugh Crain's statue like the book. So even though the ending is different and there are a few different motivations for some characters, it stays close to the book.
Image result for the haunting 1999
 The 1999 movie is almost never in Eleanor's head and is pretty far from the book. However, this is the one I saw as a teen when it first came out and it is still near and dear to my heart. This one is much more about the haunting. There are some indications of Eleanor's instability. However those are more about the others not believing what the audience knows to be true. Luke is not a member of the family that owns the house. The study in the house is not about the paranormal. It is supposedly about insomnia and the people don't know that it is really about group fear. This adds a layer of heartlessness to the doctor that was not in the book. This version also misses the mark in the exchange between Eleanor and the gardener at the beginning. It does get the crazy hallways part right. In the book, we hear about the disorienting angles and the crazy hallways. In the beginning when Eleanor first arrives and is looking for Mrs. Dudley, she wanders through a darkish crooked hallway. That was a great introduction to the house. The research assistants weren't in the book and didn't add anything to the movie. I understand what they were trying to do with those 2 characters, but I didn't think that was needed. In the book, Eleanor makes a big deal out of having a blue room. That is not the case in the movie. The change was made, so the room is more menacing. Again, I get why they did it, but I didn't love the decision. Instead of Eleanor wandering around the house at night, the house begins to attack her. It is much more dramatic and horror movie-esque. The story as to why the house is attacking her and why she is fighting it is taken from a small part of the book and greatly expanded. It makes for an interesting story and is a lot of fun to watch. However, it is far from the feel and direction that the book gives us.

So the 1999 movie is the best horror story. The 1963 movie follows the book with a more satisfying ending. The book is less horror and more tension between losing your mind without knowing it or an outside unseen force acting on you. They all have their high points and low points. I think you should check them all out.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Summer Reading

So everyone out there is preparing for summer and summer reading, beach reads. Something light and breezy. I have started making my summer reading list. I don't think I want light and breezy. I think I want something a bit heavier. Something classical and a bit challenging. I haven't read any of that in a while.

So my top 3 reads are in no particular order.

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

All Quiet on the Western Front (The novel about World War I.)

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West (The story of what the Native Americans experienced.)

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

The Metamorphosis (A man turns into an insect and then what does his life look like?)

Maybe these also: (These will be my lighter reads in the middle of my dark heavy reads.)

Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak

Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her

Mark for Blood by Nick Thacker

Mark for Blood (Mason Dixon Thrillers #1)

I certainly have plenty of lighter fare on my Kindle and on my physical shelves, but I think I'm going to read something challenging and heavier. It's good to stretch my reading muscles every so often. Summer seems to be a good time to do that.

What are you reading this summer?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

I May Have A Problem

So I have a bit of an addiction.... to books. If I go into the library or a bookstore, I have a VERY hard time not getting one for me. One is a problem for my wallet and one is a problem for my watch. This week I did so good! We went the library 3 times, once for books, once for the book Lily swore she didn't want from trip 1, and for story time. I did not get books the first two times. I turned in a library book last Friday and went almost a whole week without getting a new one. It was pretty revolutionary to my reading schedule. I don't have to read to get it done "on time." I actually own the books on my bookshelf and therefore can take as long as I want to actually read them.

Crazy talk, right?

So I took 2 or 3 days each to read the Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine books I found at my new favorite place in town, The Book Exchange, It was a great trip down memory lane to read some 90's YA. Other benefits of reading from my own shelves, less stress because there is no timetable, getting more books from the TBA shelf to the Read shelf, and making good use of the money I spend on books.

So I felt really good about myself.

Then I went to the library today. I didn't go the adult shelves. I was doing so well. I sat down in a chair by the kids play area and computers. I watch the kids play, then I turned my head to the Juvenile shelf. I was reading titles. I wasn't planning on getting a book. I just wanted to know what titles were there. And then I saw a book from my TBR list.

The League of Seven by Alan Gratz
It is in the Juvenile section, so it will be an easy read, so that should mean it is quick. And even though I started another book from my shelves and I really like it. I can fit this one in too, right? So of course I checked it out. And it is as good as I have heard!

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald
Then again, I got this one because of all the good things I had heard about it and I couldn't get my kids books at the book fair and not get me something. And it is as good as I have heard. So here I am reading 2 books, one from the library and one from my shelves. And I haven't even added the second on my GoodReads currently reading list yet. I have 2 books that I'm reading so slowly that it basically doesn't count. So I don't want to admit that I have 5 books going at the same time. But I kind of do.

I think I may have a problem.

What's a book nerd to do?