Borrow it. Buy it. Check it Out. -Part 2

I can’t imagine a world without books to read. I still buy them in paperback and hardcover. There’s so much enjoyment in finding them a proper home in my library. It’s like I’m introducing them to friends when I find a place on a shelf with a similar genre.

Rarely do I buy e-books. I joke with my book club that I’ll be the girl everyone will want to friend when the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse occurs. I mean, I doubt people will be using their precious found energy to power their books then.

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
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Just lovely. I was overly emotional when I read this and found myself struggling at times not to cry. This book is set in New Bremen, Minnesota in the year of 1961. It’s a story centered on a family in a small town.  Although this is set in a time before I was born, there are many timeless correlations.  I miss the freedom I felt growing up just riding my bike all over town for 6 or 7 hours without any fear for my safety.  It was easy for me to connect with this family. There’s tragedy. There’s unrequited love. There’s murder. It’s a story of how tragedy effects the life of a young boy. This is beautifully written.  Read it!

The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen
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This is the story of a homicide detective, Carl Morck who blames himself for not pulling his weapon when two colleagues are shot in a hail of bullets. He ends up receiving a “promotion” where he is given a bunch of cold cases to review. As he reviews files, he comes across one that he can’t put down. It’s a case on a liberal politician that just doesn’t sit right with him. He can’t believe this strong woman took her own life.  And without a body being found he’s just not convinced that she’s not alive.  His unrelenting search leads him to an amazing conclusion.   I was captivated.  I’m hooked on this author now.  This book is riveting. It’s a must read for lovers of mysteries and thrillers.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman
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Okay, I’m all over the place with my book choices, but I never fail to go too long without some type of science fiction or fantasy fiction book to read. I do love Neil Gaiman’s books and this one did not fail to entertain. It’s magical.

Tristan is half fairy and half man. He is raised in a small village away from fairyland. He falls madly in love with a woman in town and promises her a fallen star for her hand in marriage. Tristan sets off on a wonderful adventure in fairyland in search of the falling star. The star is a short-tempered, beautiful woman in fairyland. (how fitting) They are bound together for some time throughout Tristan’s journey home. When Tristan returns home, he finds that he is no longer madly in love with the woman he set out to find the star and realizes that he was meant to be in fairyland after all. It’s a quick and fun read. Borrow it. Buy it. Check it out.

Borrow it. Buy it. Check it out. -Part 1

I can’t imagine a world without books to read.  I still buy them in paperback and hardcover.  There’s so much enjoyment in finding them a proper home in my library.  It’s like I’m introducing them to friends when I find a place on a shelf with a similar genre.  

Rarely do I buy e-books.  I joke with my book club that I’ll be the girl everyone will want to friend when the inevitable Zombie Apocalypse occurs.  I mean, I doubt people will be using their precious found energy to power their books then.  

So I checked into my old casa last month to take care of my dad’s affairs.  It was so odd living in the house I was raised in.  (Especially in the state it was in)  When my parents made the partial move to live near us 5 years ago, the family home became a place that my dad used like a motel.  He was still running the family business part time.  I was thankful that he kept it.  If for no other reason than it kept him from staying in cheap motels during the week.  I was sad at the state it was in. The house was empty except for a bed, a chest of drawers, a sofa and a desk and chair.  It was no longer the childhood home that I had felt safe and happy.  I moved in a table and chairs.  My loneliness was overwhelming often during my stay. There were too many empty rooms that had once held so much life. My sister joined me as often as possible and we indulged in lots of wine and tears.

At first I was too pre-occupied with grief to indulge in reading. When my sister was there we would try to listen to audio books.  When I finally felt ready to read again,  I was saddened by the lack of book stores there.  They did have a Books-a-Million and so off I went to peruse the aisles. (Murphy’s Law-I had left my book stack at home)

The Martian by Andy Weir-   Book One Review

the martian

 

The main character, Mark Watney is a brilliant botanist and astronaut.  In the beginning, Mark is on a mission with his crew.  They have made it to Mars and he is collecting soil samples when a storm comes on the crew. It’s much stronger than was anticipated.  In an extreme rush they are forced to abandon their mission. Mark’s character is impaled by an antennae which knocks him unconscious.  The puncture wound kills his vital signs on his suit and the crew thinks he is dead.  They leave Mars with a huge sadness.  They’ve lost one of the team and their mission has failed.

Mark Watney awakens to the sound of his oxygen running out and an antennae sticking out his suit.  With seconds to spare he makes it into the ship and patches himself up.  The agony-you’re stranded with no hope of surviving and you’re alone and injured.

The story at times was drawn out, but I felt it was realistically written.  I highly recommend reading this book before watching the movie.  Well, I think you should ALWAYS read the book first anyway.  In the case of this movie, I loved it.  Read it and then Watch it.

 

The Girl with all the Gifts by Mike Carey- Book Two Review

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One of my book club ladies handed this one over to me to borrow.  Without reading the book flap, I dove in.  The title was enough reason to read it.  Very soon into the book I realized there was so much more to this book than I had anticipated.  Melanie, the main character is not what you expect.  As you begin the story Melanie is with a group of other children in some type of prison.  It’s not fully clear at first why the children are being restrained.

I’m a sucker for any post apocalyptic books, so this one was right up my alley.  Be forewarned that you will find your mind racing with Melanie and her odd “band of renegades”  I was very surprised from beginning to end with this book.  The ending was not at all what I had imagined, but on reflection, I can’t imagine it ending any other way.  Read this.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton-  Book Three Review

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Oh how I loved this book.  I’ve since read a few negative reviews, but for me, it was perfect.  In life we aren’t promised happy endings and in books, I don’t expect them.  Like so many other books I’ve read, I started this one with only the knowledge that a close friend loved it.  I had no other thoughts about it.  It’s set in 1687, in Amsterdam.  Some reviews found it too unrealistic that such strong feminine roles would have existed then.  I can’t imagine that there would have ever been a time in history when they didn’t exist.

Nella, our main character is the new bride of Johannes Brandt.  He’s much older than she and a wealthy merchant.  He’s handsome and captivating.  It’s sad that the marriage is a simple marriage of convenience for him.  Nella arrives without this knowledge.  Johannes is a kind man and has only married at the insistence of his sister Marin who believes he must for reason that will play out in the book for you.

The book is intriguing.  I was lost in my own dream world throughout the book.  It’s a great novel.  Borrow it.  Buy it.  Check it out at your library.

Tears May Fall

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Oh how I love my book club. The variety of books that I have read this year has been astounding. I’m normally not a girl who likes to read a tear jerker. I try to stay positive and reading these books can take me down. One of the girls in book club recommended this book to me and since she’s never let me down with her book choices, I went for it. Wow. I thought it was really interesting. Although, I came close, I did not cry. This was my first Jojo Moyes book and I found her to be a great storyteller. As usual, I can’t tell you more. I rarely even like to read a book jacket for fear of it taking away from my experience with reading a book. Thank goodness for my book club. If it were not for them I would just read a ton of books on dystopian societies. Yep, I’m weird like that.
But for those of you who will take a recommendation from me on a tear jerker. Read this. Be warned that tears may fall.

Parallel Jump

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Cameron Garriepy has composed a great novella with this one. Sadly, this book has been sitting on my dresser for far too long. I have been slowly sifting through the stack of books on my dresser this summer. Parallel Jump has been sitting patiently waiting for my attention. I have a bit of a problem when it comes to books. I love them so very much and I buy them often. I joke with my friends that if the lights ever go out, I’ll have a great library that they can borrow from and enjoy.
So finally, I picked this book up on Monday evening after work. For the month of July, I read The Goldfinch and The Glass Castle. Both books were astonishingly good, but oh so deep. I also read The Vacationers, but it wasn’t really my thing. I needed something fun and light to follow them up and Parallel Jump fit the bill. To be honest, it will be a great book to recommend to my middle school teachers and friends. In fact, one of my book club ladies has a daughter that I adore, but sadly I had to tell her that she couldn’t be a part of our book club due to the sometimes “too adult” content of our choices. Also, the excessive wine that I indulge in during our book club talks probably isn’t suitable for an eight year old, either. But what I did promise her was that I would keep her in mind when I found books that I thought were appropriate and that we could discuss them on our own. I can’t wait to share this book with her and then later have our own book discussion. Parallel Jump is a great book. I look forward to picking up another book by Cameron D. Garriepy. Next up, The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat.

When Life Hands You Lemons

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My book club is small and relaxed. It’s just the way I like it. We’ve been getting together for over a year now and we all still find it enjoyable. I’ve had a hard time not feeling like a jerk when people ask to join. I’m not willing to change a thing, because it works as it is now. When it started I had a syllabus of books with reviews and we followed it for a few months before we found our groups flow. It has evolved in a way that allows one to read at their own pace. Some of us read slow and some us read fast. One of the members savors each page of a book so much, that sometimes she’ll spend a week on the last five to ten pages. Some of us read multiple books at the same time, while others can’t fathom reading that way. We each give each other “suggestions” of books we think would be awesome to read. We normally meet at our local wine and cheese shop. They have a large wooden table, ironically named Woody that we reserve. I usually show up with a pile of books to either share or to review with the group.
Last month I decided to mix it up a bit. A short half hour drive away is a wonderful book shop in Fearrington Farms. It’s called McIntyre’s Books. It’s an independent book store, too. My heart sings when it comes to supporting these places and this place deserves the support. They have regular author events at the store, which most of the time are free to the public. Of course, I recommend purchasing a book or two in thanks. I suggested to the group via email that we go to one of these events. Who knew that I would choose an author that two of the ladies already loved? I had not even researched the author, other than to read one of the reviews of her latest book.
Jeannette Walls is an American author. Her first book, The Glass Castle was on the New York Times Best seller list for five years. Once again, where have I been? I loaded the ladies up in my ride and we drove to McIntyre’s books. Since we were all meeting after work, we made it just in time as she began to speak. It was so packed that we were seated in a secondary room. Since I had not read her books yet, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Let me say, she did not disappoint. Of course I had no idea on what a harsh upbringing she had experienced. She was homeless at different points of her childhood and never had a real home growing up. My heart ached for her as she told her story, but not because she was asking for any sympathy. Quite the contrary. She embraces her childhood and gives it credit for her strength. My only quote from the night that I will take with me was, “I’ll never start a fight, but I will never back down either”. She was witty and strong. After meeting her I read her first book, The Glass Castle, in about two days. Knowing it was her truth was tough, but mostly it was enlightening. Truthfully, I’m glad that I had not read her books prior to meeting her. It was good to know that she had survived and excelled in her life. When life hands you lemons, Jeanette Walls made a tasty lemonade!

#SummerStack

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Well, I’m not a student anymore or a teacher with her summer off, but what I do have is lots more energy. The added daylight makes me so much happier. I do more in general. Mostly, I like to read on my porch after work, if possible. I’ve been slowly reading The Goldfinch, for too long. Don’t get me wrong…it’s a great book, but a long one that is a little slow to get into. Now that I am over halfway through the book, I’m hooked. I had planned on finishing it this past weekend, but I ended up playing too much. Well, maybe not too much. I just did other fun things. Tonight is my book club get together and I am disappointed that I did not finish in time to fully discuss it. Of course during the time I’ve been reading this book, I started and finished two other books.
So tonight I will admit to the group that I didn’t finish the book. Booooooo. Anyway, our assignment for tonight was to bring a list of at least two books that would make fun summer reads. I’ve been seeing a lot of posts recently on the book, The Vacationers, so I picked it up. Sisterland just looked good and so I added that to my cart. It looked so good that I think I may have already read it. Haha. Margaret Atwood has been sitting on my nightstand since Christmas, so it now has become a part of my summer reading. Really? I just can’t seem to get my reading mojo right this year. I get a little overwhelmed with the greatness of authors and books. My stacks keep growing. Last night I looked around the den that I’ve housed with a ton of my books and imagined myself being locked up in that room. How long would it take to re-read the books in there? Between the treadmill and the books, I think I would be pretty happy for a long time. I guess the need for food and water would have to come into play, but that was not part of my daydream.
If you had no obligations for the next week of your life and could relax on a screened-in porch with an oscillating fan blowing softly by you…What would you read? Would you use the time to think and write more? I’ve been a terrible writer and reader this year and I need to get it together. I’m going to take a long weekend, make a list of my writing goals and hopefully work on my summer stack. How about you?

I Love Them All

Books are my friends. They tell me the best stories. They make me laugh and cry. They keep me in suspense. They scare the living daylight out of me sometimes. Sometimes I really learn from them. I love all types of books. I may be slightly more drawn to a particular genre, but for the most part, I want to get to know a character. I do prefer that I love the main character, but even when that’s not the case, I still usually love the book. So last year I decided to start a small book club. I found myself asking the same few people for book recommendations and asking their opinions on different authors. It just made sense that these would be the women I would ask to join me for a literary adventure. I hit the jackpot with this group. We all love to read and we all love different kinds of books. My first official book club meeting started with me passing out pages of reviews on books that I found interesting. I thought we could make a syllabus for the year of books we would read and discuss together. Yep, there’s a little bit of a control freak here. The first two or three months we went off the list, but soon found that we all read so much that it made it impossible to discuss one book per month. Last fall we met at my sister’s house for a little “Porch and Wine Time”. She had a great idea for us to bring a bag of books that we had already read-books that we really loved. We passed them around, discussed what made us love the book/author, and started a new tradition of lending and borrowing to each other. This book club has become something really awesome for me. Last week we all admitted in a group email that we all had been so busy that we had multiple books that we had started, but none of which were consistent with each other, we decided to meet and just discuss our most recent read. It was such an awesome mix of books. I just had to share.
Book One:
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This book was written by Donna Tartt. About half of the group had read at least one or more of her books before. I think she has three total. The consensus was that one and three are her best works, thus far. I have only started the book and can’t give my personal review yet. I checked out the reviews on Goodreads.com and there seems to be a lot of controversy as to whether the book is good or bad. I find it really interesting to see that the book seems to either get 5 stars or 1 star. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground. Oh well, I’m sure I will love it.
Book Two:
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So Karen Joy Fowler seems to be really loved in the literary community. Most of the reviews I have read have talked about her comic genius. I’m ready for a little comedy. This may be my next book.
Book Three:
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Momastery.com is the blog that will tell you more about this wonderful writer. She accomplishes what I hide from-she tells it like it is. When I started my blog, I wanted it to be uplifting and always positive. I guess that’s why I haven’t written much lately. I’m not being real. Glennon Doyle Melton, I’m glad to meet you. Even if only by word. If you need a little more “real” in your life, check her blog and her book out.
Book Four:
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Hahaha-I love that this book was discussed. I am totally a closet Bravo watching woman. Apparently, this book gives you a hard inside look on the abuse that was going on “behind the scenes” when Taylor was on Bravo. I don’t think I can handle that right now, but most likely I will eventually read it. My heart aches for any person that has survived abuse of any kind.
Book Five:
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Yep-The Darkest Mind looks like something I will have to tackle fast. It’s a “Divergent” style of book. This is the book my sister brought to book club-we both have a real passion for dystopia. Who needs utopia? Haha.
Book Six:
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Well, it’s not the most recent thing I have read, but it’s the last one I have actually finished. Andra Watkins has just published her first book and it was great. It’s one of those books that you can’t put down. You have to finish the story.
The Crew:
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Can you see why I love this group? Could we have more diversity? Books-I love them all! Happy Reading!

You Rock Andra Watkins

You Rock Andra Watkins

When I started blogging a year ago, I had no idea that I would make so many friends in the blogosphere. One of those friends is Andra Watkins. I started following her blog last year, because I liked her writing. I liked her words and her perspective. I was blessed to meet her and her hubbie last fall for dinner when they were traveling in my state. To be honest, it was the first time I had ever met anyone in person that I had become friends with online. I was intimidated and excited. The two of them did not disappoint. We had a great dinner and talked a little about the book she was writing. I continued following her blog and as the months progressed, I realized that I was getting more and more excited for her and the fact that she was writing a book that I would hopefully see come to fruition soon.
Then she announced on her blog that she would be releasing her book! This friend of mine had done it! I purchased my book and waited impatiently for it to arrive. Once it did, I couldn’t put it down. I read it in one sitting. I loved it. I was so overwhelmed with happiness for her.
She announced on her blog that she would start a journey on the Natchez trail and encouraged us to follow her journey. Andra has been walking 15 miles a day, six days a week since March 1st. She is the first person to walk the 444 mile trace since the 1820’s. Yep, she’s that kind of awesome.
Tomorrow night she’ll be celebrating with friends the end of her journey in Nashville, TN. I couldn’t swing the trip, but I’ll be celebrating in spirit with her team of friends, followers and readers.
Although she will have finished her journey on the Natchez Trace, I know her journey has really just begun. I was going to write a review of her book today, but honestly, I don’t think I could do it justice. It’s fantastic and should be purchased and read by all. Thank you for taking us all on your journey. You rock Andra Watkins!

The book is “To Live Forever-An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis” You can buy the e-book or if you are old school like me and still prefer a book in your hands, you can purchase it on Amazon.com
PS The book is great! Did you get that? Buy it! You’ll support a fantastic writer and it will make me smile to know you and I can talk about it one day.

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Merry Christmas Book Club!

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Last night was the Christmas gathering for our book club.  Sadly we were missing one of the girls.  She was fighting something icky and needed to stay at home.  😦

My sister hosted last night at her home.  We were able to sit by the Christmas tree and exchange our presents.  This year we were supposed to pick one book to share.  I picked three books by three bloggers.  They were smaller, paperbacks, and I really wanted to share them so I technically broke the rules.  Who cares?  The following are links to reviews on them:

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18514753-impenetrable-falsehoods

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13537972-parallel-jump

http://www.michaelcarnell.com/precipice-review/

Here’s the cutie pie recipient of my blogger books:

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I forgot to take a picture of the cheese plate.  Boo.  The cheese plate consisted of Boursin, olives, manchego wrapped in soppressata and a childhood favorite, cream cheese with pepper jelly on top.  Yummy!  I was introduced to “by-far” the best pepper jelly I have ever been privy too.  It’s made close by at Two Chicks Farm.  Here’s the link to their website.  It’s a sustainable farm.  🙂  Buy their Pepper jelly!

http://www.twochicksfarm.com/

My sister remembered to take a picture of the libations:

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I really liked the wine on the right.  Yummy.

Other great books from last night were:

http://www.npr.org/2013/10/21/239075604/more-is-more-in-donna-tartts-believable-behemoth-goldfinch

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6746018-the-distant-hours

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17286662-the-sisters-weiss

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38447.The_Handmaid_s_Tale

If you are an avid reader like myself, I hope you will check out some or all of these great books.  Happy Reading and Happy Holidays!

Gift Giving

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I know. I know.  It’s not what Christmas is all about, but isn’t it fun to give gifts?  It’s certainly awesome to receive them.  Last night I met up with some of my close girlfriends and exchanged a few gifts.  As usual, I was overwhelmed with their generosity.  I look forward to having friend time so I can refill my cup.  It’s like the ending of the movie, “The Grinch”, when his heart beats wildly out of his chest and his smile grows larger and into his eyes.  That’s how I feel after having friend time.  So thank you friends.  You make my life even happier and even more wonderful.  I am blessed to have you in my life.

So as I was checking out my “loot” last night, I thought it would make a fun post.  What gifts have you purchased thus far or received that you just think are the bomb?  In review of last night’s gift giving, I received a fabulous Christmas cookbook by Nigella Lawson, a hilarious book by Amy Sedaris on holiday hosting, a unicorn sticker, a lovely “fireside scented” candle, a J Crew necklace, some Philosophy body wash, an individual cow printed frother and some Chai Latte tea. I am feeling spoiled today just typing this down.  My friends are really awesome.

I was really excited to see that my Amazon shipment had arrived yesterday when I got home from work.  It was filled with books by many of the bloggers I follow.  I am gifting many of those this year, too.  I keep meaning to write some reviews, but I don’t want to half ass them, which is what I have been doing on my blog this month.  I know, it’s terrible, but I work retail and the past three weeks have been a little difficult, so I would prefer to properly review them when I am not so flustered.

Other thoughts?  I have lots of fabulous candles that I am giving out this year.  Just remember to be careful with scents when you are giving them as gifts.  I try to pay attention to the candles my friends have in their homes and keep a mental note for future gift giving.  Most of my friends love to cook, men and women, so cookbooks are always welcome in my crowd.  Special salts and olive oils go over great for your foodie friends.  As many of you know, I love wine.  Yes I do, and most of my friends do, too.  I only purchase wine from the locally owned shops when it comes to gift giving.  It feels more personal and it supports someone in our community that I already feel connected with, so wine is the deal.  Of course, homemade is always the best.  I love when someone brings me something that they have cooked, baked or crafted.  I rarely do this myself during the holidays, but it’s so special when people do this.  Bravo to those of you that do.  Please put me on your list. 🙂  I like everything.

So the holidays are here and it’s Friday!  I actually have tomorrow off and I am going to use it wisely.  I am going to drink some wine with friends and maybe wrap some gifts.  How’s your gift giving going?

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