Thursday, February 23, 2017

Why I Love the Library

I missed last week and almost missed this week, but I have had a post in my head for a few days. So I had to get it out.

Photo Credit: Texas State Library and Archives Commission 

Last Saturday I went to the library with my daughter. She loves to play with the blocks and the computers. There are a couple book shelves she visits, but a whole lot more that she avoids. She doesn't know the books on them, so she just doesn't even look at them. I can't blame her. The children's shelves can be a bit overwhelming with the number of books on those shelves. How do you even look at all the titles? How do you know what to search for?

Well, I decided to remedy the situation. I sat down at a shelf and picked several off of one shelf to look at. I was so pleased to see the range of people represented in the few books I chose. I pick up a book from my local library and my daughter can learn about people very different from her. The library is her portal to multi-ethnic, multi-racial, and multi-socioeconomic learning. She has enjoyed the books so far and we have read them multiple times. She is learning about her world even if that world is far away from her. The library teaches us about people and learning about people will make us more tolerant and loving. The library makes us better people!

These are the books we got:
A Hat for Mrs. Goldman

The Last Stop on Market Street

A Castle on Viola Street

Mama's Nightingale

And just for fun:
Panda Pants

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

No time!

Last week I wrote about the books that were recommended to me. I put two on hold immediately at the library. One came in, but I wasn't finished with the book I was reading yet. So I have been trying so hard to finish that book. I started skipping paragraphs and skimming pages. I had like 250 pages to read and only a few hours in which to read them. I don't normally do that, but I have one coming and I checked out two already! A 300 ish page book and a 400+ page book. Argh!

What have I gotten myself into?

I stayed up late last night and finished the book. It was good, but I don't think I missed much by "speed-reading". Then I read a few pages of the 400+ page book. One step closer to under control.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Book Recommendations for Me!!

I listen to lots of podcasts and two of them are about books.  One of them, Professional Book Nerds, asked to the listeners to write in with what they were reading. So I went right over to my email and sent my list.  I honestly didn't expect anything to come off it.  They probably get hundreds of emails, so mine won't be picked. I even forgot I emailed them.

Today after a long(and productive) meeting, I downloaded new eposodes. Professional Book Nerds came on and I remembered I had emailed them as they were introducing the episode. I still didn't expect to hear my name. The second recommendation name comes up and it is ANDREA. Then Jill said she appreciated that the reads were organized into Physical book, Ebook, and Audiobook. It really was me! I paused it, rewound it and made Drew listen to it before I even heard what they had to say. My crazy organizing habit came in handy this time.

So these are the books I was reading at the time....

Physical book:
Sweet Breath of Memory I blogged about this last week.

A Study in Charlotte (Charlotte Holmes, #1)  Holmes and Watson were real and had descendants being chased by a maniac.

Audio book
The Swan Thieves I LOVED The Historian, so I picked this one up. The deep exploration of living with a person spiraling into depression was well done, but not for me. I enjoyed the mystery part in the end though.

These are my recommendations....

Splintered by A. G. Howard
Splintered (Splintered, #1) A descendant of Alice's discovers it is up to her to fix Wonderland.

Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen
Scarlet (Scarlet, #1) Robin Hood has a new fighter by his side, but Nottingham is not cleaned up so easily.

The Shadow Lands by Elizabeth Kostova
The Shadow Land The setting is Eastern Europe again, so I'm excited for this one.

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

The Moonstone  I read The Woman in White several years ago and enjoyed it, but never got around to this one. It looks like I've been missing something.

What am I going to pick up next? Probably The Moonstone or Splintered. I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Restorative Chick Lit

As a general rule,  I default to cozy mysteries. Mostly I default to this because I know what I am getting. I know how much violence, sex, and emotional trauma to expect. I know how much character stupidity to expect. When I venture outside of cozy mysteries, I sometimes find too much violence, too much emotional trauma, or too much character stupidity. But sometimes I get lucky and find a deeply refreshing book. A book that faces pain and characters that are determined to become better. There are people who are willing to give a hug or a shoulder to cry on or a boot to the backside. In my head,  I call these restorative chick lit. In recent memory, I can think of 3.

The Cherry Cola Book Club by Ashton Lee. This one grew on me with age.  I don't know that I was so in love with it right after reading it. Actually, listening to it.  A small Southern town is in danger of losing its library, so the librarian and an unusual group of book lovers set out to save it.

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus  by Beth Moore. Some might consider this to be a murder mystery.  I don't.  The characters are loveable and so honest. They are figuring out who they are and who they want to be and how to  get there.

Sweet Breath of Memory by Ariella Cohen. I'm actually on page 10 of this one,  but I've already taken taken a deep breath and settled in to enjoy these people.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Authors and Series' from 2016

There were several other books I wanted to mention in my top list, but they fell below the top 10. When I noticed that the books had authors and series' in common, I decided to do a separate post about them. So the following are authors I discovered or series' I discovered in 2016.


New Authors I Found in 2016

Sarah Addison Allen
Southern stories with a touch of magic realism. I didn't realize how much I like magic realism until I read a couple of her books. I knew I loved 100 years of Solitude and I knew that book is full of magic realism. I just didn't realize that was a primary reason why I loved the book.
I read The Peach Keeper and Sugar Queen this year. By read, I'm pretty sure that I listened to them on audiobook. And that added to the wonderful Southern atmosphere of the books. There is lots about friendship as well as romantic relationships. The characters learn and grow. They are wonderful.

Susana Kearsley
I read Mariana and The Shadowy Horses from her this year and bought another ebook, Named of the Dragon. History, a strong sense of place, light romance, and a little bit of magic make for some great books. I liked The Shadowy Horses better, but I will definitely be reading more from her.

Joe R. Landsdale
I only read one of his books, The Bottoms, but I heard an interview with him on a podcast as well. So there are a few other of his books that I have an eye on. There is mystery, a bit of suspense, some growing up to do, and a bit of danger. I was all over the place with my emotions as I read it. So I have to be in the right mood for this one, but I will be coming back to him.

Sarah Rayne
I was only able to get my hands on one of her books this year, but there are a couple others that I have my eyes on. There is mystery, history, and danger in The Bell Tower. It's good stuff.

Image result for cozy mysteries
Cozy Mystery Series 

Coffeehouse Mystery by Cleo Coyle. I read my first one of these in 2015, but then in 2016 I read about 3 more. So it is definitely one of my favorites. I love the setting of a coffeehouse in Greenwich Village. I get frustrated with the romantic issues that seem to come up regularly in these cozy mystery series'. This series is no exception, but I will deal with the silly romance because the mystery and characters are worth it.

A Tea Shop Mystery by Laura Childs.  I've read 2 or 3 of this series. Theodosia and Charleston, South Carolina are a great pairing. There is generally less romantic silliness in this series and there is so much to learn about tea as well. This series has convinced me to start drinking tea!

Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery  by Jane K. Cleland.  I think I also started this series in 2015 and continued it in 2016. I love learning about the antiques business. The premise for investigating in this series is strong. The romantic silliness is average in this series. The setting of New Hampshire and the characters are great. This is a series that I started with book number 8, I think. And I'm glad I did. If I had started with #1, I might not have continued so lovingly.

The Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley. This is not a cozy mystery series, but it is a series that I discovered in 2016 and I love it. The premise being that these sisters are descendants of the Brothers Grimm and learning to be in charge of the balance between the Everafters, fairytale creatures, and regular humans. Along the way, they are hoping to find and release their parents.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Top Reads of 2016

2016 was a great reading year. I read about 110 books. It was not a great writing year. Looking at the scarcity of posts on here that is obvious. I hope to do better this year. We'll see.

There were a couple that I didn't finish. However with 110 to choose from, it was difficult to narrow it down. So this post will be my top 10. The next post I will post a few new favorite authors, a few new cozy mystery series, and a couple honorable mentions.

The Undoing of Saint Silvanus by Beth Moore

The sense of place in this one is amazing. I could see the places and felt like I was walking the streets. The religious aspects of this were not pushy, but a natural outgrowth of the story. The characters are people that I want to sit down and talk to them. They grew as people throughout the book and it was great to see what happened. There is a bit of a mystery in the story as well and I always love this. I finished this one and had a happy sigh.

The Dead House

Oh my goodness! This book! It is told through emails, journal entries, and transcription of video. I listened to this one and the narrator was fabulous. The narrator is possibly unreliable and you know it. She seems to be a criminal as well, but how did this happen? That's what we discover. Is she mentally ill or possessed? Or both? This one still has me thinking about what really happened.  

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

A man who owns a book store falls in love and becomes a dad in an unexpected way and then they keep on living. This is another one that I finished with a contented sigh. 

Vinegar Girl (Hogarth Shakespeare)

A girl needs to marry to help her dad's favorite assistant stay in the country. Sounds like a marriage of convenience, but is it? Kate and Pytor are just fabulous people. Just a story of a rather regular life made better by the people in it. Le sigh. Gorgeous.

The Madwoman Upstairs by Catherine Lowell

This one made me huff in anger, close it because I just couldn't handle the amazingness, and sigh contentedly at the end. I loved how it wove the Brontë stories into this one. It really was hard to decide the order of #3, #4 and #5. Even thinking about it now, I want to rearrange them at least 2 other ways. All 3 left me happy at the end and didn't get me too upset throughout the novel. 
Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs

I finished a couple series' and started a couple others. This is one that I finished and I'm so glad I did. I read book one in this series when it came out and then left it sitting. I was burned by a couple series that will remain nameless. I started them and couldn't stand to finish them because they just didn't turn out very good. I had a student who encouraged me to pick up this series again. And I'm so glad I did. It is so amazing! And don't even bother with the movies. There is no way they could live up to this and they change important part for no good reason. Just read these and use your imagination. There is lots of imagining to do with these.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I have heard several people didn't like this series, but I am not one of them! I love the mix of futuristic science and fairy tales. I like more science fiction than I thought I did.

The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd

Again a mix of science and well-known stories. In this case the Island of Dr. Moreau and other classic novels in this series. I am in love with the Juliet, Edward, and Montgomery. Be still my heart!

Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny  Lawson

I laughed out loud multiple times while reading this. I actually shed tears while laughing at this book. And I don't laugh out loud about much. (I have an odd sense of humor.)


Imagination!!! Again a good book, but the imagination is off the charts in this one. Oh so amazing.

Look for future posts about cozy mysteries, new authors, and more.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Book Review: A Whole Latte Murder by Caroline Fardig

A Whole Latte MurderA Whole Latte Murder by Caroline Fardig
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I stayed up until 1 am to finish this book and only gave it 3 stars. That might seem a little contradictory and that is a pretty good summary of the book. There are parts of the book that I am completely in love with and there are parts of the book that I detest. The plot is great. The murderer is super evil and not wholly unexpected. Some of the characters are amazing! And some I want to strangle.

The amount of hate I have for some parts of the book makes me think that the author is a genius to get me so emotionally invested in a cozy mystery.

I'm going to get into detail in the next part, so be warned this next part has spoilers.


What I hate ..... Juliet, Pete, the hatred toward Ryder, the constant love quadrangle, and the term "Red Headed She Devil."
I hate how Juliet pushes Ryder away and then gets upset when he acts distant. I hate how Juliet gets injured and then gets upset when people worry about her. I hate the relationship that she and Pete pretend they don't have. They make out and admit they want to be together and then decide the time isn't right, so they push one another to date other people. I hate that Pete is made to be this epic person and just comes off so unsure of everything. He can't make a decision about if he should date, who he should date, how he should treat people, who he should be friends with, etc. I get Ryder isn't liked by everyone and has this dark place that worries people, but seriously everyone hates him and Juliet together? They have their own agendas. It isn't like they are unbiased observers. Show me more of why Ryder is a bad person before you start crucifying him. Juliet needs to stop dating. She doesn't need a man to be valid. She says stuff like that, but doesn't actually do that. It isn't enough to have her pining for Pete, and confused about Ryder, but now she has to be involved with a 3rd guy. It is ridiculous. Please don't introduce any more guys. I hate the term "Red Headed She Devil". Can she please just be angry?

What I love .... Ryder, Stafford, the tie in to book one, and the psychopath killer.
Ryder's character is getting deeper and darker. He is chasing after Amanda's killer, who is a psychopath, and the rest of the world be damned. This is a character that is worth reading about, even if all the other people in the book are awful. I do love the character of Stafford. I think he is being misused because he is a horrid pairing for Juliet. I want to see how things develop for him, but I honestly don't have much hope that things will end happily for him. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it when an author can tie up loose ends from a previous book. I don't mind having loose ends in a book, especially when they serve to further the plot of the entire series. So the fact that this murderer is Amanda's murderer makes me so happy. (Not the murder, but the plot ties.) It gives me so much hope that all the stuff that I hate in this book will get better in the next one. The killer is totally evil, a bit of a mastermind (not quite Moriarty though), and someone you want to see dead, which makes his escape a genius move for the series.

Maybe I'm supposed to be more horrified that Ryder ran off after the murder instead of tending to Juliet. I'm not and maybe that's because I'm so in love with Ryder. At first, I expected him to have back up coming, so he ran off after the murderer and back up would get Juliet. He had no way to know that there were more people hidden in the other room. But then I find out he didn't have back up coming. So I'm a little more horrified, but still not bothered to the amount I probably should be.

I think I'm looking forward to book 4, but a part of me is worried that there will be more of what I hate and less of what I love.

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