Monday, July 28, 2014

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (7/28/2014) #IMWAYR

  
Hosted by: Sheila @ Book Journey

To participate go here.

Life:

I got a new used car - my first from a dealership.  And work is going crazy, with many, many staffing changes plus it being summer.  My dad is doing poorly, though I mostly try to tune that part of things out.  Ah, life.

Since my last Monday post, I've been reading:
(Click on the cover to go to my post on the book)


Currently Reading:

TBD.  I am currently between books.

What have you been reading?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Friendship Bread

Title: Friendship Bread

Author: Darien Gee [Website][Facebook][Twitteraka Mia King [Website][Facebook][Twitter]

Publisher: Ballantine Books

Series: Avalon, Illinois

ISBN: 9780345525352

Length: 363 pages + "Amish Friendship Bread Recipes and Tips" + "A Reader's Guide" (Including "A Conversation with Darien Gee" and "Questions and Topics for Discussion"

Obtained: Library book club book

Why this book?:

It was being discussed as the library's July online book discussion book.  I'm about to take on the task of running this discussion, so I thought I should read the book.  Besides, it sounded interesting enough.

Comments:

I got into this pretty quickly, though the actual reading around my schedule took longer than I would have liked.  There were quite a few characters to track, but they added - you know - character.

I'm going to try to keep this vague to lessen spoilers...

Anyway, parts of the story made me uncomfortable.  Namely, Julia's negativity toward her husband and Mark's tottering on the edge of messing things up.  Parts made me think.  Such as I couldn't help but wonder as the "aunt," how, in Livvy's position, what would have happened with me and my relationship with my sister?

Anyway, I especially enjoyed the end, which came together in a rush with hope and goodness and forgiveness and all those good qualities that make you feel warm and content.

I cannot wait to try starting some friendship bread of my own.  I vaguely remember us having some at one point in my childhood, but it is time to make new and fresh memories.  And I hope this is something I can share with the kiddos.

Oh, and I definitely want to read The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society, which follows this story.

Razing the Dead

Title: Razing the Dead

Author: Sheila Connolly [Website][Facebook] aka Sarah Atwell [Berkley Prime Crime]

Publisher: Berkley Prime Crime Mystery

Series: Museum Mystery, Bk 5

ISBN: 9780425257135

Length: 293 pages

Obtained: Library copy

Why this Book?:

I've been enjoying this series.

Comments:

I'm going to be honest.  I didn't quite buy into the situation that draws Nell into her sleuthing this time.  Oh, not once she stumbled upon a dead guy.  I get it from their.  But the situation that led to her being in that place at that time seemed a stretch.

Beyond that, though, I enjoyed this story as I have the previous four books in the series.  Nell has a lot going on in her life, between her romantic relationship (which was a bit more spotlighted in this book), staffing the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society of which she is President, and the new project she has been offered (complete with monetary benefits if done well).  What's one murder investigation thrown in the mix?

Oh, and lest I forget the end.  Once Nell figured out whodunit, the mystery was tied up incredibly quickly.  I guess after the danger of the previous book this one needed to be more tame.  Not to be too spoilerish (though it may be that), but it all just happened and Nell wasn't even present.

Anyway, there is a short story titled "Dead Letters" that I need to read still.  Other than that, I look forward to reading the next book in the series whenever it becomes available.

365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life

Title: 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life aka A Simple Act of Gratitude: How Learning to Say Thank You Changed My Life

Author: John Kralik [Website]

Publisher: Hyperion

ISBN: 9781401324056

Length: 212 pages + "Appendix I" + "Appendix II"

Obtained: Library book club kit copy

Why this book?:

This was the selection for the August discussion of my grandma's book club.

Comments:

I feel like I should do a "Why this book? Part 2," because while this is the upcoming discussion book, I don't necessarily read them all.  And I did read this one.  Within four days of receiving my copy and well before the discussion date (I'm a bit late with this post).  I thought it sounded interesting before, and it's small (which usually means quick).  Plus, I appreciated the simple writing.

I didn't agree with everything the writer said and did (of course not!), but I did find the book inspiring.  I was excited after I finished reading it, thinking about who I could write notes to and telling my mother about the book.  I know I am not grateful enough in my life.  Reading this book didn't tell me that.  It inspired me to start improving in this area.

I look forward to the discussion about this with the book club.  I'm sure there are going to be some different opinions and interesting thoughts.

Trailer:

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Home of the Braised

Title: Home of the Braised

Author: Julie Hyzy (New Website)(Old Website)(Facebook Author Page)(Twitter)

Publisher: Berkley Prime crime Mystery

Series: White House Chef Mystery, Bk 7

ISBN: 9780425262382

Length: 286 pages + "Recipes"

Obtained: Library copy

Why this book?:

It was long overdue.  I know I like books by this author and in this series.  Plus it seemed patriotic-like before the 4th which is when I started it.

Comments:

Ollie is engaged! All she wants is to get married quickly and continue to run her (er, the White House) kitchen well and smoothly.  But the wedding ceremony is delayed, and there are staff issues in the kitchen, staff changes in the White House, and potential for political disaster ate every corner, not to mention murder and intrigue.  And of course Ollie is a part of it all.  It seems she really can't help it.

As usual, I enjoyed this and look forward (anxiously) to reading the next book in the series, All the President's Menus.  I'm also behind three books in Julie Hyzy's Grace series.  Will I ever catch up?

My First Murder

Title: My First Murder aka Ensimmäinen murhani

Author: Leena Lehtolainen [Website]; Translated by Owen F. Witesman [Website]

Publisher: AmazonCrossing

Series: Maria Kallio Thriller, Bk 1

ISBN: 9781612184371

Length: 242 pages

Obtained: Library ILL copy

Why this book?:

I was updating a bookmark featuring Scandinavian Crime Authors, checking for who might need to be added.  I found Leena Lehtolainen (from Finland) but the library didn't own any of her books.  So I decided to read this one first before asking the library to buy the more recently translated copies and adding her to the bookmark.

Comments:

I'm late writing this up, so I don't remember everything well.  But, I found this to be an interesting case.  I mostly liked Maria.  I did guess who the murderer might be and was incredibly annoyed with Maria for not having some sort of gut feeling about this.  Perhaps that is more true-to-life.  But Maria seemed pretty lonely and desperate for connections to other people, and I believe that contributed to her obtuseness when it came to the murder she was trying to solve.  On the other hand her tracking down all leads seemed pretty decent and I was pleased with the way she stuck with the case even when she was receiving pressure to wrap it up quickly.

I went into reading this book expecting much gloom, doom, and depression.  That has always been my impression of what one expects to find in a Scandinavian book (or at least the crime-types).  And I guess I could see that.  Maria is pretty mopey between her lack of a clear and determined future and her lack of friends.  And the alcoholism in various figures throughout the book was evident.  But it still wasn't quite what I expected.  Perhaps I had built this up more in my mind.

We will see, as I intend to not only continue reading books in this series (I have the second and third books - Her Enemy and Copper Heart - checked out and waiting) and by this author, but also expanding to the works by some other authors listed on the bookmark.  Perhaps I should participate in a Scandinavian author reading challenge... anyone know of any?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The End of Your Life Book Club

Title: The End of Your Life Book Club

Author: Will Schwalbe [Website][Facebook][Twitter]

Publisher: Knopf

ISBN: 9780307961112

Length: 326 pages

Obtained: Library book club kit copy AND library Kindle ebook version

Why this book?:

I already had the ARC and planned to read this someday.  But then it was a book club selection, so I actually started it for that.  I also checked it out on ebook and have been slowly (very) been working my way on with it since then.

Comments:

My feelings for the book are very mixed.  I was sure I would love it, but it wasn't what I expected at all.  I highlighted tons of lines and sections to note but I don't know that I can intelligibly speak about all of them, especially without this post becoming a book of it's own. But here are some quotes that caught my attention (All quotes were taken from the ebook version):

I found this line interesting and was a little amused at the imagery.
I often seek electronic books, but they never come after me.  They may make me feel, but I can't feel them.  They are all soul with no flesh, no texture, and no weight.  They can get in your head but can't whack you upside it. 
This would never have happened in my house, or I would never have had any chores.
There was one sure way to avoid being assigned an impromptu chore in our house - be it taking out the trash or cleaning your room - and that was to have your face buried in a book. 
I would totally have agreed with this quote... before I read this book.
Also, how could anyone who loves books not love a book that is itself so in love with books?
So now we move on to some of the quotes that bothered me.   If she was only referring to truly absurd books it might be okay.  But no, based on the tastes shown throughout the book not to mention the context of the quote, I couldn't help but suspect she would apply this to the majority of the books I read...those "genre" books.
I think it's much harder for me now to read very silly things when there are so many wonderful things to read and reread.  And if the book is too silly, I find that it's often because the writer doesn't really have anything to say - or because there are no values.  Or because the whole book is just a lead-up to a trick at the end.  If you read the ends first, you have much less patience for wasting time with that kind of book.  Even a well-written book can be silly and a waste of time.
But wait! There is more!
I'm talking about those novels where the characters aren't really interesting and you don't care about them or anything they care about.  It's those I won't read anymore.  There's too much else to read - books about people and things that matter, books about life and death.
Why I should be reading the books that make me feel sick to my stomach and give me no enjoyment...
"So you don't mind if we read depressing books?" I asked.
"No- not at all.  It's cruelty that gets to me.  Still, it is important to read about cruelty."
"Why is it important?"
"Because when you read about it, it's easier to recognize.  That was always the hardest thing in the refugee camps - to hear stories of the people who had been raped or mutilated or forced to watch a parent or a sister or a child be raped or killed.  It's very hard to come face-to-face with such cruelty.  But the people can be cruel in lots of ways, some very subtle.   I think that's why we all need to read about it. [...]"
Anyway, there were many more, but it all amounts to...

I read the book.  But in trying to show how wonderful his mother was, he put her on a pedestal.  She became this high and mighty figure, so much better than the average Joe (or Jo as the case may be), that I felt much in the way of resentment rather than inspiration.  And the same happened with the book/reading aspect.

I wanted so badly to love this book.  It just didn't happen.  That's me personally.  For you, well, it could be (or might already have been) a different story.

The Broken


Title: The Broken

Author: Shelley Coriell [Website][Twitter][Facebook]

Publisher: Grand Central Romantic Suspense (Forever)

Series: Apostles, Bk 1

ISBN: 9781455528493

Length: 375 pages

Obtained: Free at ALA "Isn't it Romantic?" panel program

Why this book?:

I've been intrigued and wanting to read it since I heard the author talk, not only about the main plot, but also about how she first had the idea and came up with the story.

Comments:

I used to read a lot more romantic suspense than I do these days, but I still enjoy it.  The Broken was no exception.  I quickly read through the story.  (During which time I creased the front cover of my signed copy.  I accidentally sat on it when I took it to the parade - like I was going to have a chance to read there.  Grrr.  But I couldn't leave it behind just in case.)

I liked the heroine (Kate), the hero (Hayden), and of course Smokey Joe (whose character was all the better from hearing how he was inspired by the author's father!).  The butcher was horrible, and I wasn't sure how the story would work when the heroine said she knew who it was so early on in the story, but it did work.  I had some pretty conflicting thoughts about Kate's family.  Wow.

Anyway, I was happy about the HEA.  I've already put requests in for the next two books in the series and look forward to reading them.  (I also requested this one since we don't already have it.)

Interview/Chat with Shelley Coriell:

Click here to watch. (I couldn't get the video to play properly on here.)  (Apparently this only works on some browsers.)  This video includes the inspirational story I mentioned.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil

Title: The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil

Author: Stephen Collins [Website][Twitter][Tumblr]

Publisher: Picador

ISBN: 9781250050397

Length: 240 pages

Obtained: Free copy picked up at ALA Annual Conference 2014

Why this book?:

I thought it looked interesting and fun.  I love the title.  The description on the back cover is great.  And I just had to read it.

Comments:

The Gigantic Beard That Was Evil is a graphic novel done all in black and white.  But that works because the people of Here seem to be very in the box black and white thinkers.  But then something strange happens.  Dave, who is the definition of a model Here citizen, suddenly begins growing a quite unwanted beard.  And everything goes downhill from there - or does it?

The description I read mentions that the book covers, "life, death, and what it means to be different."  Being third in the list, I didn't quite expect the book to be so much about being different, but that was the main theme I saw.

I read the last 3rd to the kiddos (while we waited in the car for their mama) - with some impromptu editing to make it more age appropriate.  It was very interesting, with some parts rather funny, and others very much a statement about society.

I'm now passing it on to coworkers...

Shakespeare's Christmas

Title: Shakespeare's Christmas

Author: Charlaine Harris [Website][Facebook][IMDb]

Publisher: Penguin Group

Series: Lily Bard Mystery, Bk 3

ISBN: 9781440635014

Length: 241 pages

Obtained: Library ebook copy

Why this book?:

I'm working my way through this series and this ebook was convenient.

Comments:

While most of this book is NOT set in Shakespeare, I still enjoyed it as a look into Lily's family, as well as her budding relationship.

Lily's sister is getting married and Lily has come home to face the whispers and fill the part of bridesmaid for her sister.  It's stressful, but she's managing.  It helps that her romantic interest has surprised her by showing up and offering moral support.  The problem?  Oh, just a case of a kidnapped child and some murders.

While I tend to prefer reading holiday book around the holiday taking place this one wasn't too overwhelmingly Christmas and I still enjoyed it.  I did guess the bad guy, but it was a gut feeling and not something based on the clues (though I'm sure they were there).

Anyway, I will be continuing the series with Shakespeare's Trollop.