Monday Mash-Up #011 Spring Has Sprung!

The snow is finally gone, the trees are starting to leaf out, and yes, I did feel a bit like this earlier this week…..

Even after spending a lot of time outdoors, cleaning the yard of tree limbs from winter storms, I was able to find time to finish some great books!

 

The Library Book by Susan Orlean— 5 out of 5 stars!

I posted a full review on March 23, 2019.  Very interesting and highly recommended.

The Nameless Dark by T. E. Grau—  4 1/2 out of 5 stars!

Short stories can be a bit of a hit or miss for me, but Grau’s debut collection from 2015 is a definite hit!  Each story in this “weird horror” collection is unique and well fleshed out, with a broad range of settings and characters.  Grau is adept at holding your hand and pulling you in, only to punch you in the face and leave you wanting more.  Highly recommend.

Wayward by Blake Crouch—  4 out of 5 stars!

Book 2 in the Wayward Pine series.  I made the mistake of reading book 1, Pines, shortly after watching the television series, so the whole “big secret” that makes up the bulk of book 1 was a bit underwhelming.  However, Wayward takes the story up a notch or two, with some twists that were not in the show.  Looking forward to getting my copy of book 3, The Last Town, later this week!

Death in the Stacks by Jenn McKinlay—  3 1/2 out of 5 stars

A cozy mystery with a library setting.  Another fun, quick read, but I have to admit I think I’ve had my fill of cozies for awhile!

Countdown by Deborah Wiles—  3 out of 5 stars

YA (actually more in the middle grade range) set during the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.  While there are some historical references, the story is more about friendships, family, and early teen awkwardness.

 

This looks to be the beginning of another busy week, with the added bonus of visiting the annual AAUW used book sale on March 30.

Until next time, as always, Happy Reading!

 

 

Nonfiction Review: The Library Book by Susan Orlean

5 out of 5 stars!

In the morning hours of April 29, 1986, a fire broke out in the Los Angeles Public Library.  Seven hours later, the building was severely damaged and over 1 million books, maps, microfiche files, musical scores, and many irreplaceable manuscripts and rarities were either destroyed or heavily damaged from water and smoke.  Arson was soon suspected and a massive effort to save the 700,000 damaged items was quickly underway.

Author Susan Orlean first heard of this devastating fire when she moved to Los Angeles and visited the library.  Being a life-long lover of books and with fond memories of childhood library visits, Orlean set out to learn more about this destructive fire and the man accused of arson.  The result is The Library Book.

The Library Book is more than just a story about the fire and the search for a suspect.  We learn about the history of the Los Angeles Public Library and some of the more memorable characters who helped create it, including Mary Foy, the first (and youngest) woman to become city librarian;  the adventurous Charles Lummis; and the forward-looking Althea Warren, who led the library through the Depression and World War II and adding services such as an advice line for parents and a phone-in reference service while envisioning even greater advancements in the future.  Orlean also talks to current employees and we discover their love for “their” library as well as the concerns on current issues they face on a daily basis.

And, of course, we learn about Harry Peak, the man who was arrested for setting the fire.  Sorry, no spoilers here though.  You’ll have to read the book to discover the outcome.

I loved reading this book.  It combines true crime, history, sociology, and even a lesson on how to rescue a large number of water-logged books.  I found Orlean’s writing style to be engaging and accessible.  You don’t have to be a bibliophile to enjoy The Library Book and I highly recommend you give it a go.

 

AAUW Used Book Sale Coming Soon!!

It’s that time of year!!

The local chapter of the American Association of University Women (Chehalis, Lewis County, Washington) is getting ready to have their big used book sale next week!  I can’t wait!!  The money goes to helping girls and young women achieve their higher learning dreams through scholarships, hands-on learning in the middle grades, etc (with the focus being on science, tech, and mathematics).  The following is from their website, the pics don’t do justice to the amount of books they offer every year!

 

USED BOOK SALE  held each year to raise funds for branch activities and scholarships.  The 2019 sale will be held on March 28-30 at the Lewis County Mall in Chehalis.  Books are collected throughout the year. To make a donation, call 360-736-2147.

BookSale1 BookSale2

BookSale3

 

I donated 7 boxes of books back in January.  I am so excited to check out what others have donated to a very worthy cause!

 

Monday Mash-Up #010 A Simple Week of Reading

 

This past week was pretty uneventful around here, which gave me plenty of time to finish up a great variety of books!

The New Iberia Blues by James Lee Burke — 4 1/2 out of 5 stars (rounded up to 5 for goodreads)

To say I am a fan of James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux series would be an understatement, so I was very excited when I found this latest installment at the library.  Burke’s writing always transports me to the deep south; I can almost smell the swamps and feel the humidity as a late day storm approaches.  And I think Burke is the only author who has made me tear up a bit when a psychopathic killer dies.  If you haven’t read any of the series, never fear.  You can jump right in and not feel lost (I’ve been reading it out of order since I first picked up Crusader’s Cross nearly 15 years ago).  Highly recommend.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker — 4 out of 5 stars

This was chosen by one of my goodread groups for the March selection, and the second time I’ve read it.  Many things improve with age, and a great classic is no exception.  I know I appreciated this story a lot more now than I did when I was 19 and read it for the first time.  I felt the heartbreak and pain, and I was able to connect more with the characters.  I recommend giving this a go, and the movie is worth watching as well.

Elevation by Stephen King  — 3 1/2  out of 5 stars

I knew going into this one that Elevation wasn’t the usual King chiller/thriller, and I was totally fine with that.  Overall the story was good, but all of the outdated character stereotypes were distracting at best, annoying as hell at worst.

Death By Dumpling   and   Dim Sum of All Fears  by Vivien Chien — 3 1/2 out of 5 stars for both

Books 1 and 2 of another cozy mystery series, but Chien breathed a bit of new life into the genre….at least with book 1.  Book 2 was definitely going with the cozy blueprint, sadly to the detriment of the story as a whole.  Still, I’m more than willing to read more of Lana’s adventures in the future!

Black Feathers:  Dark Avian Tales, An Anthology edited by Ellen Datlow — 2 out of 5 stars

I was really disappointed with this supposed dark anthology centered around all things avian.  There was only one I really liked and the rest I either disliked or just skimmed through.

Tales From the Arabian Nights (Reader’s Digest Limited Edition version) — 4 out of 5 stars

Classic stories!  I remember having an illustrated version of some of the stories, this was the first time reading them in their original form.  This volume offered 19 stories, including The Fisherman, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, Sinbad the Sailor, and The Jealous Sisters.

Have a wonderful week, Happy Reading!

 

Monday Mash-Up #009 Library Day

Library day!

I always look forward to visiting my local libraries.  I have fond memories of hanging out at the Bellingham library as a kid, enjoying not only the vast array of books but also the puppet shows, crafts, and storytimes.  Our local Timberland library system (several branches linked together in a three county area) is a favorite stop for my son as well, his interests leaning more towards the DVD selections and Garfield comics, where I love to browse just to see what catches my attention.    Even though I have literally hundreds of unread books in my personal reading stash I always wind up with an armload of titles, ranging from cookbooks to the latest Stephen King.  I came home with ten, my limit, and these were the three I finished this past week:

 

The Sky Manifest by Brian Panhuyzen  —  5 out of 5 stars!!!  I absolutely loved this book!  This title just jumped out at me from the library shelves and I’m glad I decided to add “just one more” to my check-out pile.  It’s the story of Nathan, who lost his wife and child and seemingly his reason for living.  As he travels across Canada in an attempt to flee from his tragedies, he encounters several characters who help him keep his resolve to “keep moving.”  I’ll admit it took me a bit to get into this one, as I agree with other reviewers that the author probably had a thesaurus open throughout the entire writing process.  However, once I got into the stylistic prose I was hooked.  Beautiful read and highly recommended.

Sugar and Iced by Jenn McKinlay —  3 out of 5 stars.  I enjoy a good “cozy” mystery.  Since I’ve gone through my stash of Diane Mott Davidson and Joanne Fluke titles I thought I’d try out this new-to-me author I spotted on goodreads.  Sugar and Iced is actually the 6th book in McKinlay’s Cupcake Bakery series and is a fun, quick read.  While I probably could have benefited from reading the first books, I had no problem getting into the story or figuring out the characters and their relationships.  A good book for a rainy afternoon.

An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen  —  2 out of 5 stars.  Why, why, why do I keep picking up chick-lit thrillers?!?!  Perhaps it’s the promise of spine-chilling psychological drama, or the idea of unseen plot  twists and turns.  Or, maybe, I’m just a masochist who feels the need to read unoriginal stories filled with lackluster writing and unlikable characters (and let’s not forget a plot “twist” that can be seen from the beginning but needs another 300+ pages to finally arrive).  This one wasn’t completely horrible, it actually started out pretty good.  But I couldn’t even make it to the 1/3 mark before it started to irritate me, which made the rest of the book a chore.

 

Happy Reading and remember to support your local library!!

Monday Mash-Up #008 Spring is almost here!

It’s already the first week of March!  And after a wacky and weird February, I can honestly say I am sooooo ready for spring!

This month usually finds me starting some much needed spring cleaning, as well as celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and eagerly awaiting the annual AAUW (American Association of University Women) used book sale at the end of the month.  There may still be a lot of snow on the ground but that doesn’t keep me from poring over seed and flower catalogs, imagining beautiful flower containers and a bountiful vegetable garden…..I still haven’t fulfilled those goals but hey, this could be the year!  😀

An interesting variety of books this past week:

 

The Children’s Book by A. S. Byatt —  2 out of 5 stars.  It seemed like I was reading this book for months, and I kept wondering if the author was trying to create some sort of world record for the number of characters in a totally boring story.  Byatt’s writing style is lyrical at times, but her storytelling ability left me wanting a nap after reading 20 pages ( and with a 879-page tome, you understand how it took me seemingly forever to get through this one).  It wasn’t completely terrible, when it was good it was very good.  There was just too much blah between the bearable.

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon —  3 1/2 out of 5 stars.  Overall I liked this one.  The chapters from Sara’s journals and her husband’s point of view seemed to flow better and tell a more compelling story compared to the modern day chapters from Ruthie and Katherine, which kept this story under 4 stars for me.

Horse Soldiers by Doug Stanton —  4 out of 5 stars.  The true story of an American Special Forces team who set down in the rugged mountains of Afghanistan to fight the Taliban alongside the Northern Alliance.  Very interesting, a definite must for your history shelf.

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King —  4 out of 5 stars.  The sequel to The Shining, however this could easily be read as a stand-alone thriller.  As a longtime fan of King, it’s interesting to see how his writing has changed over the years.  While he keeps the chills and thrills coming, there is also an added level of introspection and maturity in his newer works, and this one is no exception.  There were a couple of twists towards the end that I didn’t think really fit into the story, but otherwise another solid hit from the master of horror.

And so we start another week.  I’m heading to the library tomorrow, never know what I may find!  Until next week, Happy Reading!