Saturday, August 29, 2015

5 Bookish Frustrations...

1. A disappointing ending that ruins an otherwise perfectly good book.
(Why do authors do this?)

2. Over 100 holds on a book I want to read RIGHT NOW.
(Patience isn't my strong suit.)

3. Impossibly hard-to-get, out-of-print books that are too expensive to buy just to read once.

4. Not enough shelves!
(Because owning too many books couldn't possibly be the problem.)

5. My library still closed for renovations!
(It's been four months, people. Finish already!)

What frustrates you?
Happy Reading!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Bookish Thriller...

Title: What Doesn't Kill Her by Carla Norton
First Line: The last time she would ever go swimming, all of Seattle was baking beneath a sky of blameless blue.
My Thoughts:  This is Carla Norton's second novel about Reeve LeClaire, who is fast becoming one of my all-time favorite characters. She's a survivor; seven years ago she escaped from Daryl Wayne Flint, the man who kidnapped her and then kept and tortured her for over four years. Now, Flint is the one who's escaped from the psychiatric hospital where he's been locked up since his trial, and Reeve realizes that if she doesn't do everything she can to help the FBI find Flint, she will never be free of him or her past.

I like how Reeve never gives up; she's such a gutsy character, even when she's scared to death. And I admire how determined she is to overcome the nightmares of her past. There are some other great characters in this book as well, like Milo Bender, the retired FBI agent who was on the scene when Reeve was found all those years ago, and J.D., his handsome son. All in all, this is a fast-paced and fun thrill ride. I hope Norton writes many more novels about Reeve LeClaire.

Happy Reading!

Be sure to check out Clara Norton's first novel:  The Edge of Normal

Friday, August 21, 2015

The Reading Promise

The 3,128-night reading marathon that my father and I call The Streak started on a train to Boston, when I was in third grade.

The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma is a charming memoir about a daughter and her father, the books they shared together over a nine year period, and the transformative power of reading. I love books--especially ones about books and reading--and I absolutely loved this one. At the end, there's a "Reading Promise" that the author hopes everyone will choose to make. Here's an excerpt from it:
I promise to read. I promise to read on my own, in print or on a screen, wherever books appear. I promise to visit fictional worlds and gain new perspectives--to keep an open mind about books, even when the cover is unappealing and the author is unfamiliar. I promise to laugh out loud (especially in public) when the chapter amuses me, and to sob uncontrollably on my bed for hours at a time when my favorite character dies. ... I promise to tell everyone I know how reading calms me down, riles me up, makes me think, or helps me get to sleep at night. I promise to read, and read to someone, as long as human thought is still valued and there are still words to be shared. I promise to be there for books, because I know they will always be there for me.
Isn't that a great promise to make?
Happy Reading!

Monday, August 17, 2015

A bookish update...

 Recent acquisition:  How Nancy Drew Saved My Life by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Used book stores are dangerous.  When I saw this book sitting on the shelf, I couldn't resist the title or the premise:  Charlotte Bell is determined to be intrepid and brave as she heads to her new nanny assignment in Iceland. There she runs into mystery and romance. But she has a new motto to help her through:  What Would Nancy Drew Do? I hope this book turns out to be as funny as it sounds, or I just wasted $3.00.

Recently checked out from the library:
What Doesn't Kill Her by Carla Norton
So Far Away by Meg Mitchell Moore
Murder on Amsterdam Avenue by Victoria Thompson
The Reading Promise: My Father and the Books We Shared by Alice Ozma

Recent disappointing read:  Frozen Solid by James M. Tabor. The Antarctic setting was great, the plot not so much.

Recent read that didn't disappoint: The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg. Sookie drove me a little crazy, but I loved Fritzi.

Up next: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr.  (Which counts as my Pulitzer Prize-winning book for Reading Bingo!)

Happy Reading!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Art of Reading...

C. Cole Phillips

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines
what you will be when you can't help it."
--Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Another Pym...

"...everyone knew that people in villages were different."

Barbara Pym's last novel, A Few Green Leaves, is about life in a West Oxfordshire village. Emma Howick, a single anthropologist in her thirties, has come to this village to do some research for her next paper and observe the customs and characters living in this village. And there are plenty of characters:  Tom, the widowed rector, "who might sill marry again"; Daphne, the rector's single sister, who dreams of living in a white-washed Greek cottage somewhere on the Aegean; old Dr. G. who prefers his patients to be young, and young Dr. Shrubsole, who has an interest in geriatrics; Graham Pettifer, Emma's ex-lover, who unexpectedly turns up at the village to work on his next book; and Miss Lee, Miss Grundy, and Miss Lickerish, the bevy of spinsters that seem to be a given in any Barbara Pym novel. As Emma observed, "There was obviously material for note here." And the possibility of romance as well.

While there's no mystery or psychological suspense in a Pym novel, there is humor and characters to which you quickly become attached. A Few Green Leaves follows life in a small English village over a summer. It's charming, well-written, and thoroughly enjoyable. Pym does it again! I've read four other Pym novels: Excellent Women, Some Tame GazelleJane and Prudence, and Quartet in Autumn.  They are all worth checking out.

Happy Reading!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Around the World in 8 Books...

When taking a bookish trip around the world you have basically two options: fiction or non-fiction. Each itinerary offers a wide range of possible destinations; what books you choose all depends on where you want to go. Imagine, in just 8 books you can circumnavigate the globe!

Here's the fictional around-the-world trip I wouldn't mind taking:

  1. London Falling by Paul Cornell
  2. Salaam, Paris by Kavita Daswani
  3. The Storyteller of Marrakesh by Joydeep Roy-Bhattacharya
  4. Appointment in Venice by Sally Stewart
  5. Treasure of Egypt by Barbara Ivie Green
  6. The Painter From Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein
  7. The Bali Mystery by Linda Clarke
  8. Galapagos Regained by James Morrow
My non-fiction trip looks a little different, but it still includes 8 amazing bookish destinations:
  1. The Piano Shop on the Left Bank by Thad Carhart
  2. A Labyrinth of Kingdoms: 10,000 Miles Through Islamic Africa by Steve Kemper
  3. Visit Sunny Chernobyl by Andrew Blackwell
  4. I'll Call you in Kathmandu: the Elizabeth Hawley Story by Bernadette McDonald
  5. Hitchhiking Vietnam by Karin Muller
  6. Alone in Antarctica by Felicity Aston
  7. Lost in the Amazon by Stephen Kirkpatrick
  8. Missoula by Jon Krakauer
I'd rather have real stamps in my passport, but until I can afford an actual trip around the world, bookish travel will have to do.

Happy Reading!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Coolest Race on Earth

"...the emergence of exotic marathons, from Antarctica to the Sahara desert, reflects a restless energy and a desire on the part of many runners to keep pushing boundaries further and further. But it's also simply an interesting way to see interesting places."

The Coolest Race on Earth: Mud, Madmen, Glaciers, and Grannies at the Antarctica Marathon by John Hanc tells the story of this crazy marathon, the guy who started it, and the people who come to race it. Hanc also gives you a bit of marathon history and Antarctica exploration trivia. I've never wanted to run a marathon myself, but I admire those who commit to, and complete, such an arduous task. And the runners who travel to the farthest end of the earth to run 26.2 miles? Well, they are their own interesting breed. This book was an entertaining read that almost made me want to go to Antarctica, too. Here's a snippet from the author about why he chose to run the "Last Marathon":
It was time to get out of this funk and into a new frame of mind. A trip to Antarctica is a great remedy for this, provided you're not planning to spend the dark winter there, which, as numerous studies and several gory murders on remote scientific stations have proven, can drive you insane. Many compare the whiteness of the place to the blank page on a new chapter in one's life. 

Happy Reading!

Another great read:
     Swimming to Antarctica: Tales of a Long-Distance Swimmer by Lynne Cox