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.

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.

Enjoy!

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.

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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.)

Coraline

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.