Monday Mash-Up #014

In high school, many moons ago, I studied French for three years.  My teacher, Madame Clark, would share with us stories and photos from her numerous trips to France.  The ones that always stood out for me were the ones about Notre Dame Cathedral.  I fell in love with the beautiful stained glass and the intricate architectural details.  Long before the term bucket list was popular, I put this on my bucket list of places to visit.

Today, I was shocked and saddened to see the news reports of the devastating fire that swept through the iconic building.  It is impossible to fully know the total losses, as this fire not only destroyed physical items but a bit of history as well.

It has been many years since I read The Hunchback of Notre Dame.  This afternoon I pulled out my copy and have started to reread this classic, out of respect and in memory of 800+ years of history.

Until next week……

 

Monday Mash-Up #013 New ARCs Arrived This Week!

There’s nothing like hiking down to the mail box and finding packages!

A huge thank you to Plough Publishing House for a copy of From Red Earth  and to Akashic Books for an ARC of Houston Noir!  I look forward to starting both this week.

Overall, this was a great week for reading:

In A Different Key:  The Story of Autism by John Donvan and Caren Zucker — 4 1/2 out of 5 stars!  

Full review coming soon!

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide-Lindqvist — 4 out of 5 stars!

Wow!  Not what I expected, but I loved it!  Dark, creepy, with a couple of unexpected twists thrown in.  Be sure to put this on your Halloween reading list!

Bossypants by Tina Fey — 4 out of 5 stars!

I’ve been a fan of Tina Fey for some time, and was happy to find this one at the book sale last week.  It truly was a laugh-out-loud read, really enjoyed this one.

The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand by Gregory Galloway — ??? out of 5 stars  :/ 

I really don’t know how to rate this one.  It wasn’t completely terrible (believe me, I’ve read my share of terrible stories), but it didn’t have any real point.  Adam Strand is a teenager who has successfully killed himself 39 times, always coming back whole and unaffected.  How?  Why?  There are no consequences (other than his family and most of the town starting to get annoyed by the whole reincarnation thing), and the only reason he gives for his actions is that he’s bored.  As someone who has lost several beloved friends to suicide over the years, I felt that Galloway’s story was a bit of a slap in the face, diminishing the real reasons and emotions behinds someone’s choice to take their own life.  I think the author’s heart was in the right place, trying to raise awareness, but I thought it totally backfired.

Spring showers have arrived in abundance around here so it looks like a good week for curling up on the couch with a pot of tea and a great book…….or I may just binge-watch some episodes of Schitt’s Creek and Happy! (now that is one twisted show!!).

So until next time….Happy Reading!

Monday Mash-Up #012 April Fools?!

April Fools was on me, I was so excited with my awesome finds at the book sale this past weekend that I almost forgot it was time for another episode of mash-up!

Don’t worry, I’m here, and I’m (somewhat) ready to share my thoughts on this past week’s reads.

The Color of Bee Larkham’s Murder by Sarah J. Harris—  4 1/2 out of 5 stars!

A huge shout-out to my friend Jacques for recommending this one.  I loved it and for a variety of reasons, the main one being Jasper.  My son is autistic, and MC Jasper reminded me of him with the obsessions and different views of reality (and I have to admit, I would love to see certain things as a color every now and then).  There’s also a pretty good mystery involved as well, overall a great read.  Really different and highly recommend.

Sweet Nothing by Richard Lange —  4 1/2 out of 5 stars!

Wow.  One of the best short story collections I have read….ever…..

The Last Town by Blake Crouch —  4 out of 5 stars!

The final installment in the Wayward Pines trilogy, I literally could not put this one down!  What started out as “I’ll just read a few pages before breakfast” turned into a 4 hour readathon and me telling my son and husband to fend for themselves at lunch (which, in turn, created a huge mess in the kitchen I had to clean up later but well worth it, haha!!).

Lies by T. M. Logan — 4 out of 5 stars!

I have to admit, I went into this one with low expectations.  I’ve become a bit jaded on current thrillers, they all seem to be the same, always trying to be the next Gone Girl.  But this one delivered.  And even though I had an inkling about the ending, I still wanted to keep reading to see how it got there.  Thanks to my friend Michelle for sending me this copy!!

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris —  3 out of 5 stars

I feel like a terrible person for not giving this “based on true events” anything less than a 5 star review, but I’ve read many other stories from the Holocaust and this one just did not come close to any of them.  The story of Lale and Gita should be heartwarming and uplifting, but I felt the author did a total disservice to these two survivors (as well as to their families) with her apparent lack of novel writing experience.  The author had originally written this as a screenplay and, instead of improving and expanding, she simply wrote a screenplay-based book.  Overall, it was not what I expected and a bit of a disappointment, 3 stars because I respect the families and their memories of Lale and Gita.

What have you been reading?

Remember to share your thoughts, random comments, critiques (even recipes!!) with me, I’m still working on improving and expanding my blog so any constructive criticism is greatly appreciated!!

And I am looking for a good recipe for a homemade mustard-based barbecue sauce.  Just wanted to throw that out there.

Until next time, Happy Reading!

 

AAUW Book Sale—–Treasures Found!

I was able to go to the local used book sale on Saturday and came home with bags of wonderful titles!  All the books pictured came to a total of $20!!!  Not a bad day at all!

There were a lot of great hardbacks available, and just about every genre you could think of.

I even stepped outside of my reading “comfort zone” and chose a couple of books set in medieval Europe, Wolf Hall and Here Be Dragons (usually not one of my favorite genres but these sounded really good).

I was especially happy to find some of my favorite authors, like Louise Erdrich, Charles de Lint, Sherman Alexie, and Henning Mankell.  And the conclusion to Greg Iles’ Natchez Burning trilogy!!   Happy dance!!

Of course, nonfiction called to me as well.  A little bit of everything, and from all over the world.

I always look forward to this yearly sale, this year was definitely not a disappointment.  Now, time to get reading!

 

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!!