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?

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Lily's Favorites

This week I thought I would turn my blog over to Lily. I considered letting her type this all out, but her typing skills aren't great. (I mean, she is only 3.) So I will just tell you what her favorite books are.

We go to the library about once a week. She picks out something generally with a character she likes. I then search though and try to find books that will teach her something about the world. It is always a shot in the dark though. Some are amazing, some are good, and some are okay. Every so often I get lucky and we find a great book that Lily loves. These are those books:

Nanette's Baguette by Mo Willems

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Panda Pants by Jacqueline Davies
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Lily can read these two to herself because she has heard them so often she has memorized them.

If You Ever Want To Bring a Piano to the Beach, Don't by Elise Parsley
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I heard about this one from the Professional Book Nerds.

Tomas and the Library Lady by Pat Mora
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I was surprised that she liked this one, but it is an inspirational true story for kids. Plus I got to share some Spanish with her.

Dear Yeti by James Kwan
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We like to read this one with her stuffed Yeti.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Book Review: Relics 3 by Nick Thacker

I have previously reviewed Relics 1 and Relics 2, so getting to book 3 was the wrap up for these characters. I wanted to know what happened to these people and the system. Unfortunately, I have been so busy I could not just sit down and read without interruption. That was a bit frustrating. So be aware that you will want to start and not stop until your done.

Relics: Three (Relics Singularity Series Book 3)Relics: Three by Nick Thacker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

The one negative I have is that the books came out a bit spaced apart and made it difficult for me to accurately remember all the characters. However, each character did have a unique voice and I mostly remembered their back story from previous books. For you the new reader, the solution is simple, get all 3 books at one time and read them all together.

Now the stuff I liked about the book, the ending. Seriously the last line of the book is one of my favorite ever. It ranks up there with the last line of 1984 and the last lines of A Farewell to Arms. You need to read the entire series just to get to the last line and let it hit you like a semi-truck. Oh my gosh that ending!!!

I liked that there was action without being over the top. I liked that there was some character development. I liked that the System was shown to be flawed and beatable. It was not this hulking unstoppable thing that magically got beaten. It had a flaw that was exploited by those who would know and see it. Not everyone would see it, but those who know saw it and exploited it. It didn't end with massive explosions or crazy things. It quietly ended and therefore the last line had a humongous impact.

So pick up book 1 today, read it all together, and wallow around in the genius of the last line


View all my reviews


Did I mention that ending?! I'm so in love.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Am I Passing On A Love of Reading?

I have been trying to take books off our shelves to read to the kids almost every night since the beginning of the year. Lily and I are slowly reading through Heidi. She seems to enjoy it. I had been reading a book with Ben. It seemed like a great book to read with boys, but I haven't enjoyed it. It is dense and the tone is darker than I want to read with Ben. But I kept slogging through.

Monday I listened to a podcast. The idea of being formed by the stories you read and being able to share these things with your kids resonated deep inside me. I know the power of story deep inside me, but I'm not sure I'm sharing that with kids up to the standard in my head.

Sally mentioned the book A Wrinkle in Time and how much it meant to her. That book is on our shelves and I fell in love with it in 7th grade. So I made the decision to abandon the book that was dense and dark for a book that is imaginative and hopeful. I told Ben that I wanted to pick another book because that one had too many facts and not enough story. He went along with it and didn't seem to have much of an opinion.

A Wrinkle in Time
We started reading it last night. He curled up beside me and put his head on my arm as I read. He has asked me about the characters to get them straight. He is excited to meet Mrs. Whatsit. He is also talking about new drawing projects. I don't know that the book inspired that, but it is encouraging. Maybe I'm doing pretty okay after all.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Cozy Mysteries

I am obsessed with cozy mysteries. In case you don't know, this is a definition of cozy mysteries from Wikipedia.

"Cozy mysteries, also referred to as "cozies", are a subgenre of crime fiction in which sex and violence are downplayed or treated humorously, and the crime and detection take place in a small, socially intimate community. The term was first coined in the late 20th century when various writers produced work in an attempt to re-create the Golden Age of Detective Fiction.[1]"

"Cozy mystery" Wikipedia

My Grandma Ann raised me on Murder, She Wrote. I am still in love with Jessica Fletcher. Lily and I watch Jessica Fletcher often as well. (Until it went off of Netflix.) Then I discovered that there are Murder, She Wrote books. In a bargain section, I came across Death of the Chimney Sweep by M.C. Beaton. From here I learned about cozy mysteries. I love the mystery part and the lack of violence and sex in the stories. There are times when I have read too many of them and the tropes of the genre get on my nerves. I move away from them for a couple books and then I'm ready for more. Thankfully there are no shortage of cozies to enjoy. So I'll share with you some of the series I enjoy besides Murder, She Wrote and M.C. Beaton.

The Tea Shop Mysteries by Laura Childs

Charleston, South Carolina is becoming a favorite setting and Theodosia is teaching me, so much about tea.








My current Tea Shop Mystery


Coffeehouse Mystery Series by Cleo Coyle
New York City makes for an interesting group of characters and again I'm learning. This time about coffee.












Josie Prescott Antiques by Jane C. Cleland
The setting of New Hampshire provides some great mind pictures from the descriptions she gives. I also love hearing how Josie runs her business and tells us about antiques.












The following I have only read one in the series, but I liked the one.

Key West Food Critic by Lucy Burdette

Key West and Food? Need I say more?













The Lighthouse Library Mystery Series by Eva Gates

The Outer Banks, a library, and books? Yes please!












Tradd Street by Karen White
Charleston and some ghosts. That's an interesting twist













A few more that I have read and didn't talk about above: Being a Jane Austen Mystery by Stephanie Barron, Irene Seligman by Paula Paul, Chief Inspector Gamache by Louise Penny, Java Jive by Caroline Fardig

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Reading Together

My son likes books. He likes to have books. He doesn't read them as often as he just collects them. So it is a pretty common "discussion" in our house of how many pages he should read and when he should read.

Yesterday I tired a new thing. I got my book that I am reading and we had a contest to see who could finish the chapter first. He liked it. He read without complaining to where I told him to read. AND I got to read as well. So while we are each reading our own individual book, we are doing something together. I like this and he likes this. So yay for everyone.

The books we are reading:

Scarlet (Scarlet, #1) One of the books recommended to me from Professional Book Nerds podcast. Goodreads link.

Junie B., First Grader: Jingle Bells, Batman Smells! (P.S. So Does May.) (Junie B. Jones, #25)  The second time Ben has gotten this one from the school library. I think he is going to finish it this time. Goodreads link

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.

Ebook:
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.