Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Moving on over to GoodReads

I'm going to start keeping tracks of books that I've read (along with books I want to read, and books I'm in the middle of reading) with GoodReads. Go to http://www.goodreads.com/librarymary to see the latest stuff on my list!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Year on Ladybug Farm by Donna Ball

A nice quiet novel about three women friends in their 50s who decide it's time for a change, sell their houses and buy a "fixer upper" in the Shenandoah Valley. Very enjoyable.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett

Dear Tara, Heather, Robert, David, and everyone else who has told me to read Terry Pratchett,

You were right. I am really enjoying Wee Free Men. I think I did try to read it before but I must not have been in the right mood. It reminds me of so much funny British fantasy literature that I have enjoyed - Expecting Someone Taller by Tom Holt, and of course Good Omens by Gaiman & Pratchett. 

Heather bought me the trilogy, so I'll be reading about Tiffany Aching's adventures for a good long while, and savoring every word. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Books of late

Snow Flower & the Secret Fan by Lisa See -- yes, I know, I'm 5 years late on reading this one.
According to Jane by Marilyn Bryant -- fun chick lit about a woman who shares space inside her head with Jane Austen
Forty Words for Sorrow by Giles Blunt -- just couldn't finish this one, even though it was extremely well written -- not after it started telling the story from the serial killers' point of view. Too much bad mental hygiene.
Mind Your Manners, Alice Roosevelt by Leslie Kimmelman (picture book) -- Fun
Betsy Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace -- can you believe I never read this? I think I would have loved it as a kid.
Sleep While I Sing and A Chill Rain in January, both by L. R. Wright -- not as enjoyable to me as her first novel "The Suspect" because both of these novels involved sociopaths or psychopathic killers and that's just not my thing,

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Bleeding Heart Square by Andrew Taylor

Oh. My. God.   WHAT a book! Amazingly gripping and gothic and scary and well-done. Set in London in the '30s. I got drawn in by the first paragraph and savored this one to the very end. And with each revelation I became more and more in awe of the author's skill at keeping the tension going so expertly. At the end I actually gave a physical shudder (both of horror at how the book ended and delight that it was done so well). I cannot WAIT to read more books by this author. Why haven't I ever come across him before? Have I been living under a rock? Wow. I'll be recommending this one to pretty much everyone I know, for awhile. Give it a try if you like gothic novels, thrillers, or just a damn good read.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

The Suspect by L. R. Wright

I forget where I read about this book (originally published in the mid 80s) but it got a rave review, and I must say I quite enjoyed it. Looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series! 

Monday, October 19, 2009

this weekend's book bonanza

East of the Sun by Julia Gregson. Thanks to Diane D for recommending this book to me - I really enjoyed it. It's about three women who head to India in the '20s and what they find there. Once I started the first page, I was hooked and it was really hard to put down. 

The Lace Makers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri -- also a recommendation by Diane D., also a good book. This one is about a tightly-knit group of women in Ireland and how they are changed by the arrival of a young woman who is traveling to escape her painful past. 

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman.   Really a fascinating book on how what we think we know about kids and how they develop may not be entirely true. It also gave me a better understanding about how parents might need training too, in order to get better at helping their babies and kids learn. Seat of the pants works okay, but sometimes it's good to have a little more information. 

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Denville Book Barn Rocks My World

Check out this immense pile of books - 25 of them, for $25.00 at the Denville Book Barn! (It's on Pocono Road in Denville NJ, hours are 9 to 1 on Tuesdays & Saturdays. And yes, they take donations too, but only 2 bags or 2 boxes at a time.)

You'll notice there are a lot of different types of books in the pile. This is because I am responsible for keeping my father, my mother and my aunt in books, and buying used is a good way to do it, especially since for some strange reason my mother has a complex about library books. She is afraid they will get lost in her house and she will owe a fine.

My dad will occasionally agree to read a library book, but it makes Mom nervous even knowing that there is one in their house. My aunt and I are the only two people in my family who use the library regularly.... and although my parents claim they have library cards, I fear they may have expired long ago.

Now please excuse me, I have to go get some reading done!
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Saturday, October 10, 2009

latest reads

The Kids Are All Right: A Memoir by Diana and Liz Welch (on my Kindle)

You Were Always Mom's Favorite: Sisters In Conversation Throughout Their Lives by Deborah Tannen (on my Kindle)

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children by Po Bronson  (on my Kindle)

Not Becoming My Mothe
r by Ruth Reichl  (library book)

Damn you, Kindle! You make it much, MUCH too easy to purchase books! So every time I see a great book review I download a sample and more times than not, I find myself purchasing the book at the end of the sample chapter. With the result that now, the backlog of books to be read on my Kindle is probably as large as the backlog of actual books on my shelf waiting to be read. 

Wait a second... why am I writing this? I could be reading!!! Excuse me...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Prairie Tale by Melissa Gilbert

Stayed up late last night reading Melissa Gilbert's honest, funny and engaging new memoir. I really enjoyed it. 

Greenstone Grail by Amanda Hemingway

At first I could not figure out whether this was a teen or an adult book. I'm still not entirely sure. Some libraries have it in their teen section, others in the adult fantasy section. I would say, having read about half of it, that it would be for older teens, not younger ones.

Although I enjoyed the writing, it was a slow-paced book and once I found out that it (and its sequels) was a retelling of the Arthurian legend, I just couldn't bring myself to finish it. I don't know why, but Arthurian stories do absolutely nothing for me. 

I do think this is a book that many people who enjoy fantasy and/or Arthurian legends will enjoy. It just doesn't happen to have been my cup of tea.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

This book is currently generating a lot of buzz and I can see why - I quite enjoyed it. The characters were appealingly flawed, and I liked how Tropper wrote the family dynamics, even though reading about how they interacted was kind of like watching a train wreck in slow motion.

Bumbling and ultimately hopeful, the main character's confusion and existential anxiety were very well written. It's nice to read a book like this, where people screw up, they act irrationally, and yet you are still left with a feeling of hope and redemption at the end. 

The Little Lady Agency and the Prince by Hester Browne

This was a fun, frothy ending to a really nice trilogy of books featuring Melissa Romney-Jones, a very appealing and real heroine. If you haven't read the Little Lady books, you are missing out! 

A Conspiracy of Paper by David Liss

It took me a good week and a half to get through this dense 18th century thriller by the author of Whiskey Rebels (which I really enjoyed). This one was good too, and interesting, but I didn't like the characters much (including the main character, Benjamin Weaver), and I don't care much for this time period, so I probably won't read any more of Liss' novels featuring Weaver. 

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Stone's Fall by Iain Pears

Wow. This one was hard to put down. A great novel of suspense and mystery, interesting and well written. Anyone who enjoys slightly dark, gothic tales (like Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfeld or Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon should probably give this a try.

The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo

A quick read; a magical and charming kid's book. 

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Recent reads

Shelter Me by Juliette Fay - really enjoyed this debut novel. Well written characters, an absorbing plot and a flawed but likeable protagonist. I'm looking forward to more of Fay's work.
Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich. Pretty hilarious. Not high literature by any means, and the ending was kind of weak, but I still enjoyed it.
Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs by Molly Harper. Too bad the book doesn't live up to its tagline, which is fabulous - "She's a librarian with a really long shelf life."  I just couldn't get into it.
Little Lady, Big Apple by Hester Browne -- the sequel to Little Lady Agency. Good chick-lit fun.


Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Finishing Touches by Hester Browne

Funny and sweet novel about a woman who basically inherits a decrepit old finishing school and tries to modernize it. The class she creates on "Handbag Love" was so apt, I'd have taken the class myself!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Good reads

Three excellent reads I just finished up:

Thirteenth Child by Patricia Wrede -- a teen novel about magic in frontier days on an alternate Earth. It's just wonderful, I loved the female protagonist and I even enjoyed the first person narrative, which doesn't always work for me. I have always been a Wrede fan and this one, the first in a new series, makes me feel like pawing the ground in frustration because I have to wait for the next one to come out. 

The Little Lady Agency by Hester Browne -- fun British chick-lit, well written and with a great sense of humor. A nice sensible heroine too, not some dithery vague twit that I can't relate to. Really looking forward to reading the sequels to this - and anything else Browne writes!

Wish You Were Here by Lani Diane Rich -- I love a good romance novel that makes me laugh out loud, and this one did, several times. The main characters were likeable and well-written, the dialogue was snappy, and I'm so glad I discovered this author. Can't wait to read more of her stuff. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

recent reads

The White Queen by Philippa Gregory - this is her latest, and not bad, except I didn't really care much for the main character, so I felt it hard to root for her.
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly - a fun read about an unconventional girl growing up in the early 1900s in Texas.
The Duel: The Parallel Lives of Alexander Hamilton & Aaron Burr by Judith St. George - an interesting kid's book about these two men who ended up fighting a duel and inspiring one of my favorite commercials.

Retirement Homes Are Murder by Mike Befeler - What would happen if you had no short-term memory and someone accused you of murder? This feisty old guy fights back.
The Second Mouse by Archer Mayor - Couldn't quite get into this one, but it is probably one that a lot of people would enjoy.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

latest books

Angry Management by Chris Crutcher - the latest offering from one of the best teen authors out there includes 3 short stories featuring characters from many of his books, all stuck in Mr. Nak's anger management class. A very good read.

Lost Recipe for Happiness by Barbara O'Neal -- a fun cooking/romance, I thought. Publishers Weekly's didn't like it much, but I enjoyed the descriptions of what it is like to be a female chef in a male-dominated world, the food and restaurant where the protagonist works, her relationship with her (dead) relatives, and the descriptions of Colorado. 

The Enchantment Emporium by Tanya Huff -- one of my favorite entertaining fantasy writers is back with another urban fantasy, this one set in Calgary. Quite entertaining. And hey, did you ever read Tanya Huff's "Blood" series? Toronto private eye Vicki Nelson and her undead sidekick Henry (bastard son of Henry VII) kick some serious demon/monster butt in this great series, which came out in the early 90s. 

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Wait Till Next Year by Doris Kearns Goodwin

I really enjoyed this memoir of growing up on Long Island in the 40s and 50s. Doris Kearns Goodwin never disappoints.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

New Tricks by David Rosenfelt

I love this guy's books! This is the latest in a series about Andy Carpenter, a lawyer who lives in Paterson NJ. It's well written, suspenseful and funny. What could be better? If you've never tried this series, you can start with the first one, Open and Shut.  Fans of Harlan Coben will probably enjoy this, as will anyone from this area of New Jersey - it's fun to be reading along and then stop and realize "Hey! I know exactly where this guy is talking about! I've been there." 

Monday, August 03, 2009

Recent Reads

Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci. An enjoyable book of short stories by popular authors of teen literature. Not all the stories resonated with me, but that's the best part about short stories, you can skip the ones you don't like. Highly recommended (especially if, like me, you were considered a geek or nerd in high school).
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. Meredith recommended this kid's book to me and I am about 1/4 through it. So far it is excellent. The kind of book that I makes me wish I didn't have to come to work today, so that I could lie around and finish it.
Holly's Inbox by Holly Denham.
Holly's inbox is pretty boring, actually, and she could do with a good editor.
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larssen.
I don't deny that these are very gripping thrillers, but I don't think they are quite as amazing as all the stuff I've read about them suggests. They are certainly not literary masterpieces. Other writers have created equally good damaged female characters (Carol O'Connell's Mallory's Oracle for one), and I wonder if part of the "mystique" of these books is that the names and places are very unfamiliar to us, so that adds to its cachet. Plus, not to sound cold, but let's face it -- it always helps a book's publicity when an author dies unexpectedly.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Latest reads

Last Resort by Linwood Barclay -- a funny, poignant memoir about the author's growing up running a campground in rural Canada with his family.
Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger - a re-read, one of my all time favorites.
The Angel's Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. I'm stuck halfway through. I don't know if I'll be able to make it all of the way.
The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry - a fun kid's book
Scat by Carl Hiaasen -- another great teen book by Hiaasen, whose Hoot appears on lots of school reading lists. I really enjoyed this one.
Origins of the Specious by Patricia T O'Conner and Stewart Kellerman - fun to page through and learn the origins of certain words and conventions of language
Dying to Meet You: 43 Old Cemetery Road, Book 1 by Kate and M. Sarah Klise - thanks to Trisha for this kid's book recommendation. Enjoyed it a lot.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

still with the thrillers

Skulduggery Pleasant and Playing with Fire (teen fantasy/thrillers) by Derek Landy - for fans of the Rick Riordan series

Lone Wolf and Stone Rain by Linwood Barclay - the last two Zach Walker mysteries - I could barely bring myself to put them down long enough to go to sleep

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Recent reads

Beastly and A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn - two enjoyable teen novels that retell fairy tales in a contemporary setting.

The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society by Beth Pattillo - not bad, but a little disappointing. I enjoyed Pattillo's previous "Betsy" books but this one didn't seem quite as good.

(Many more than) Fifty Books For Our Times

Check out this week's Newsweek cover story, Fifty Books For Our Times, if you need inspiration about what to read this summer:

Need more ideas? Oprah Magazine published their top beach reads for 2009 here:

Or, you could check out Amazon.com's Summer Reading bookshelf at


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Thriller time

I'm still on an escapist thriller kick (get to vicariously kick butt!)

Bad Move and Bad Guys, both by Linwood Barclay -- funny thrillers featuring SF writer/newspaper reporter Zach Walker. I'm looking forward to reading the next ones in the series. Fans of funny thrillers by Carl Hiaasen, Bill Fitzhugh, James Swain, Elmore Leonard should enjoy this author.

Daddy's Girl by Lisa Scottoline. Curse you, Phyllis, for getting me hooked on Scottoline! She writes a really good, interesting thriller and both of the ones I've read so far feature strong female main characters -- terrific reads. My favorite quote from this one is when the main character, Natalie, has a revelation. "As much as she loved teaching, she was beginning to think she wasn't very good at it. Could she really suck at her passion? Women's magazines never admitted this as a possibility." Don't know why, it just struck me as hilarious.

Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen. Okay, not a thriller, but at least a mystery. It was cute, but didn't really do anything special for me (could have just been my mood).

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Book bonanza

I've been too busy reading lately to keep up with the reading log. Here's what I have been reading:

Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World by Mary Pipher. A wonderful, helpful, sane memoir by the author of Reviving Ophelia, which had a big impact on me when it first came out in the early '90s. What I like about Pipher's book (and also about Sylvia Boorstein's writing) is how matter-of-fact she is about the inevitability of screwing up, then picking yourself up and trying again. It's nice to be reminded that we ALL screw up, and she's very honest about that.

Thinking About Memoir by Abigail Thomas. I loved Thomas' memoir A Three Dog Night (and highly recommend it if you haven't read it). This small volume is a great way to get starting thinking about your own life and what's been important in it. I found the writing exercises that Thomas intersperses through the book to be very helpful.

Why Do I Love These People by Po Bronson. This guy's previous book What Should I Do With My Life dealt with people who were struggling to find their vocation/avocation and people who had done so. This book is about families - how they stay together, how they come apart. Bronson has a great talent for telling stories about ordinary people trying to do the best they can, and the extraordinary things that sometimes result. 

Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson -- (fantasy) -- a real page turner. Didn't quite grab me as much as his "Hero of Ages" trilogy but I can see that a sequel might be in the works - and I hope so. Please God, let Sanderson not get sucked into the neverending nightmare of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. Let him just write one book to wrap it up and then get off the Wheel of Time & go back to building his own worlds and creating his own kick-butt characters. Have I mentioned how well he does strong female characters? He does. Read him. You won't be sorry.

Look Again by Lisa Scottoline (thriller) -- wow. Phyllis recommended this book to me. I'd never read anything by this author (though I knew she was popular with the readers at my library). It was great - I couldn't put it down. I ignored everything around me. I refused to speak when spoken to. All I could do was read. Wow.

Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay (thriller) - I was lucky enough to score an advanced reader's copy of this book, which will not be published till August. This is the first book I've read by this author and all I can say is -- why haven't I heard of him sooner? The man is a really really good writer. Fans of Harlan Coben should get to their library RIGHT NOW and check out one of this guy's books. I've already started adding him to my repertoire of books to recommend to people as they check out at the circ desk.

Too Close to Home by Linwood Barclay (thriller) - another excellent thriller. 

The Whiskey Rebels by David Liss (historical thriller) -- WOW -- I loved this book. I don't think I've ever read a historical thriller that was done so well. It's set in the United States about 10 years after the American Revolution. Terrific thriller, and wonderful historical novel - all wrapped up in one delicious literary package. Can't wait to read more of Liss' work.

Friday, June 12, 2009

And Only To Deceive by Tasha Alexander


Nice thorough review of the Kindle DX

CNET has a nice review of the recently-released Kindle DX.


The two things that I covet from this version are the ability to switch to landscape viewing mode and the increased font size (you can jack it up higher than on previous Kindles.) And of course the bigger display is nice, but that is offset by the fact that I can't carry the thing around in my purse and the fact that it's heavier than previous Kindles... and the price, of course.

I'll stick to my Kindle 1 for now -- it's working great for me, I love it -- but will continue to watch and see what Amazon does!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Recent reads

The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar - interesting and powerful

Still Alice by Lisa Genova - a profoundly sad, and truthful, book about a woman descending into Alzheimer's disease

Summer at Tiffany by Marjorie Hart (yes, Diane, I finally got around to reading this one!)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What I've been reading

Birds by Kevin Henke - a fun, gorgeously illustrated picture book. I could look at it all day.
Help Me, Mr. Mutt by Janet Stevens (picture book). Dogs write in to Mr. Mutt for advice about their people problems and he answers them in his advice column. My favorite one is the dog who complains that his people like to dress him up. I must confess Jim and I used to make Daisy wear his superhero robe and pretend she was Superman. And also, just this year, we made Molly wear a headband with rabbit ears on Easter. Oh goodness, I wonder if Molly wrote to Mr. Mutt about ME??!
Flygirl by Sherri Smith (teen) -- a fictional account of a black girl who passes for white so she can join the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) and help her country during World War II. I've always enjoyed books about the WASP and this one was no exception. Very good.
Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child. The latest Jack Reacher thriller. It was just fine for what it was, though I find that I prefer the books in the series where Child writes in the third person instead of the first person.
The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly. Normally I enjoy Connelly's books but I have a thing -- call me crazy, but I just don't enjoy reading about serial killers -- so about the 3rd chapter I had to stop. The book was giving me bad mental hygiene. But if you don't mind serial killers I'm sure you'll like it. It did get good reviews.
Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman (teen fantasy) -- This really needs to be marketed for older young adults. Heavy themes, sometimes disturbing, and a frustratingly wussy main character. It got good reviews (4 stars in Bookmarks magazine!!) and I wanted to like the book, I did, but I just couldn't. The book was too long but didn't really focus on any one aspect of the character's development for enough time to satisfy me. And it ended with a jaw-dropping cliffhanger that I guess is supposed to make the reader want the sequel but I was just glad it was over. Can't recommend this one.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Rebel Without A Minivan: Observations on life in the 'burbs by Tracy Beckerman

I picked up this book at one of my local independent bookstores (Sage's Pages in Madison, 973-377-7777, in the Madison Plaza on Main Street. If you live around here, be sure to go - it's a lovely place. But also be prepared to spend money. You can feel good about keeping them in business while simultaneously indulging your wanton desire to buy lots and lots of books and, in my case, stationery. But I digress.)
Anyway, I really enjoyed this book, which is a collection of humorous essays taken from a column that Beckerman writes for the local paper. She's quite a good writer, and funny too. I'm going to donate this copy that I bought to my library (thus feeling DOUBLY virtuous) and then demand that all my library patrons read it.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

What's been on my list lately

Dogs and Goddesses by Jennifer Crusie, Anne Stuart & Lani Diane Rich.
I wanted to like this, really I did -- the writing was very good, and the characters were interesting, and there were dogs -- but I just couldn't swallow the supernatural premise (ancient goddess tries to take over town) and had to reject it 1/3 through. Oh well.
Emily the Strange: The Lost Days by Rob Reger & Jessica Gruner
Weird, but interesting, teen novel that will be coming out in a few weeks (I snagged an advanced reader's copy). It kind of reminds me of those Ellen Raskin mysteries I used to read as a kid, the ones where you never quite knew what was going on until the end (and maybe not even then), only updated for the 21st century. Enjoyable.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
Many thanks to Pat D who recommended this book to me. What a delightful read! I loved the cranky 12-year-old heroine and I loved the characters and the writing and... well, it was really good. I am looking forward to the others in the series.
Silent on the Moor by Deanna Raybourn
Quite a satisfying conclusion to the Lady Julia Grey trilogy of Regency romance/mysteries. I can't wait to see what Raybourn writes next!
The Raven Prince by Elizabeth Hoyt
I liked the writing and the characters, but I enjoyed the verbal sparring between the characters much more than the actual love scenes because... ahemm... the love scenes were a bit too steamy and torrid for my tastes. But that's just me.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

New Kindle

Jeez, how many Kindles is Amazon going to unveil this year? They just announced the new Kindle DX, which will be available sometime this summer and which is aimed at the university market (people who have to lug textbooks around). The NYT published an article about it here.

One thing that I think is neat about the new Kindle (aside from the larger screen size) is you can choose whether you want to read landscape or portrait.

But I'm not sure I personally could use the Kindle as a substitute for a "paper" book if I was in school, though. The highlighting/note feature on the Kindle is hard for me to get used to (I'm a "stick post-its everywhere, underline and highlight things" kind of gal). But maybe the younger generation, unlike fuddy-duddies like me, won't have a problem with this.

It will certainly be an interesting thing to keep an eye on. And just think of all the future back problems that could be averted for kids and college students if they could just carry a Kindle instead of 15 different textbooks!

The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan

****Fantastic*** finale to the Lightning Thief series, which if you haven't read yet, why are you still reading this blog post? Get thee to a library and check the first one out! You won't regret it.

This satisfying book leaves the door open for a new series of adventures with Percy Jackson and the other demigods, which can only be a good thing.

Rick Riordan is a fabulous writer, engaging, funny, interesting -- I can't say enough good things about him or this series.

Still haven't read it yet?

What the heck are you waiting for? GO GET IT!!! Don't make me come over there.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Reading is fun

I've been reading some pretty light stuff lately (and enjoying myself unrepentantly).
Silent in the Sanctuary by Deanna Raybourn. The second in the Lady Julia Grey series. Anyone who's a fan of Regency romances, strong female characters, witty repartee with sexy private enquiry agents, excellent writing, laugh-out loud humor or any of the above should run out and start with the first of this series, Silent in the Grave.
I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti by Giulia Melucci.  A very fun food/failed romance memoir. Well written and easy to read. I gobbled it up in one afternoon. Then I made some pasta. :)
The Man with the Golden Torc by Simon Green. Thank you Tara for recommending this one to me. (See? I remember!) It was very entertaining. I enjoyed the first part quite a lot, but then it became sort of... I don't know... less interesting to me as the book went on. Here's what I know, though. Any guy who makes disparaging comments about women reading romances (not that they would dare risk the intimidating Librarian Stare by saying that to me) would then hear a tirade from me about how this type of book (and Jim Butcher's series, and a whole host of others) are totally romances for guys. They just have lots of explosions, magic, etc. thrown in. So don't let anyone fool you into thinking guys don't read romances. They do... but usually they are more well-disguised than the romances women read. (At least romances marketed to women don't usually sport a half-dressed Fabio on the cover anymore. Publishers have become *slightly* more subtle about it.)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Recent reads

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. TERRIFIC fantasy novel. Thanks to Tara for recommending this to me. Couldn't put it down. I'm dying for the sequel. Dying, I tell you!

Fashion Kitty & the Unlikely Hero by Charise Mericle Harper - I thoroughly enjoyed this third in the Fashion Kitty graphic novel series (targeted to tweens, probably 3rd grade and up).

Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich and Frankenstein Takes the Cake by Adam Rex -- this guy is amazingly talented. These books of funny poetry for kids (and monster-lovers) are beautifully illustrated with lots of sight gags. These are the kind of books that people of all ages will enjoy - adults for different reasons than kids.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Lucy Ann's Kindle 2

When I found out Lucy Ann commutes to work on the train every day and also loves to read, I told her she MUST come see my Kindle because it is perfect for people like her. My sales pitch worked -- she was hooked -- and a week later she was back to show me HER Kindle, which is the newest model (and therefore innately cooler than mine). Yep, it was awesome to touch it. I still love my Kindle but what I really like about the new model is the "text to speech" feature. It's easy to switch from reading the book visually to having the book read to you (in a somewhat computerized voice, but not as horrible as the voice in the grocery store self-checkout line). This would be great for commuters like ME, who resent having to get in the car to drive to work because it means we have to stop reading our book and concentrate on the road.
I tried to get Lucy Ann to look the other way, even distract her with chocolate so that I could "borrow" her Kindle 2 for a few days, but she was having none of it. She's already loving it. I'm so glad that she does, but I must admit a pang of guilt as a librarian, because maybe she won't use the library as much! Still waiting for Amazon to come up with a way of allowing libraries to purchase e-books and then lend to their patrons, but I doubt it'd be a wildly profitable thing for them (and there's also that digital rights management thing) so it'll be a while, if ever, before that is ready for prime time. For more on that subject, I recommend this article from the Christian Science Monitor. http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0318/p09s01-coop.html

What's been on my "shelf" lately

Honolulu by Alan Brennert -- this is a really good historical novel about a Korean woman who comes to Hawaii in the early 1900s as a "picture bride." It's narrated in the first person. I really enjoyed it and could hardly put it down. A great book not only because the main character's journey through life is so interesting and so fleshed out, but also because Brennert makes the history of Hawaii (and Honolulu) during that period of time come alive. I don't know how he writes women characters so well. But I hope he keeps writing.
Silent in the Grave by Deanna Raybourn -- a fun regency mystery/romance featuring the wry and observant Lady Julia Grey as protagonist. Think of this as a slightly updated version of a fun Georgette Heyer novel, with a modern-thinking protagonist matching wits with the extremely sexy inquiry agent Nicholas Brisbane. Delightful! Thank you to Amazon, for suggesting this book when I was looking up The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie King because I wanted to re-read it on my Kindle.
Kitty and the Silver Bullet by Carrie Vaughn -- Read this one on the beach (on my Kindle, which only got slightly sandy). Fun, light entertainment. Perfect beach read. The third in a series about Kitty Norville, werewolf and radio talk show host of the supernatural.
Molokai by Alan Brennert -- looked this up as soon as I finished Honolulu. This is an earlier book of Brennert's, about a woman named Rachel living in the leper colony on the island of Molokai in Hawaii, in the early part of the 20th century. Once again, I love the way Brennert describes his characters so well and I really enjoy his meticulously researched (but not boring) descriptions of life as a leper. This man can write.
My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett -- thanks to my coworker Janet, who said she read this book to her kids when they were young and they adored it. How did I miss it, growing up? What's interesting is that I read the book on my Kindle first and then I had to read the "paper" version of it because the Kindle just didn't do the illustrations justice. I don't think, in terms of children's books with lots of illustrations or picture books, that the Kindle is quite ready for prime time. I can't imagine reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret on it. Some things, you still need paper. (Especially for a picture book that's in color.)
The Saddlemaker's Wife by Earlene Fowler -- thanks to Phyllis for recommending this interesting book about a woman named Ruby who brings her husband's ashes back to his hometown only to find herself embroiled in family dramas and a years-old mystery. Fowler has a great way of defining the characters in her book. I enjoyed it.
Sebastian Darke: Prince of Fools by Philip Caveney -- yes, Michelle, you recommended this to me months ago and I forgot all about it and rediscovered it on my own recently. It was great! I should have listened to you earlier. Mea culpa. Just don't be too hard on me. You'll get old too and you will have the same problem.
Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society by Mary Anne Shaffer (re-read) -- I don't often re-read books any more, but this one is so wonderful (and was so conveniently available on my Kindle) that I had to. And I still adore it.
Pete & Pickles by Berke Breathed -- a charming picture book with great illustrations and a nice story
Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan (kids/teen book) -- if we MUST wait (im)patiently for The Last Olympian, the fifth and final book in the Lightning Thief series (due out May 5, 2009) then this book of short stories and brief character bios will have to tide us over. A couple of fun short stories about Percy and other demigods are interspersed with "interviews" with some of his classmates and other fun stuff. A quick read, but as always with this series, extremely enjoyable.

Man on Wire (documentary DVD)

Xena and I really enjoyed watching this fascinating documentary about Philippe Petit, the French wirewalker who spent 45 minutes walking back and forth between the Twin Towers on a wire in 1974. The story of how he and his friends set this up and pulled it off is pretty riveting. Well, okay, maybe not THAT riveting, since Xena fell asleep... but she's a cat. What do you expect.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I love my Kindle, but apparently I should feel guilty about it

This article from the Christian Science Monitor has some good points (and raises some serious concerns) about Amazon's model of Kindle and e-book usage. http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0318/p09s01-coop.html

And I agree with almost all the points they make... but that doesn't mean I am going to give up my Kindle. At least not until something better comes along. Even if it does mean I'm a bad librarian... I guess I'll just have to live with the guilt. Now please excuse me, I have to go download another sample chapter from Amazon, spawn of the devil and bane of the e-publishing industry.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Why We Make Mistakes, by Joseph T. Hallinan

I enjoy reading books about human psychology, behavioral economics and the like. I will read anything by Malcolm Gladwell, I adored Predictably Irrational by Dan Ariely, and I have read lots of other books with titles such as Nudge and Sway.

What I liked about Hallinan's book, Why We Make Mistakes, is that it gives a great overview of the whole genre of books like this. You can get a real feel for how people actually think and behave (vs. how we THINK we think and behave) from this quick and easy read. Hallinan has clearly done his homework and his research, but he never makes things dry or boring. I was really interested and engaged throughout the whole book.

I highly recommend this book!

Monday, February 02, 2009

No! I don't Want to Join a Book Club: Diary of a 60th Year by Virginia Ironside

Absolutely *loved* this book. Funny, insightful - made me laugh out loud, made me really think about things. I really hope this author writes either a sequel, or another book. I enjoyed her perspective on things.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Reading Time Magazine on my Kindle

The other night the newsstand was closed when I wanted to buy Time so I could catch up on the post-inauguration news. So I downloaded a copy of the latest Time magazine to my Kindle for 99 cents. After reading it, I can now say that I do not like reading magazines on my Kindle.
First of all, what's up with the no pictures? (Though, to be fair, the Kindle can't really handle graphics that well.)
Second, the order of articles in the Kindle version of the magazine was totally different from the way the "paper" copy of the magazine is put together. A person gets used to seeing the Milestones section at the front of the magazine, not randomly when I'm 3/4 through the thing, thank you very much.
Third, I guess the way I read magazines is very different from how I read books. I am a skimmer, and in fact I often read magazines from the back to the front. The Kindle doesn't really lend itself to skimming all that well. And the tactile pleasure I get from holding a magazine and flipping through the pages and seeing all the shiny pictures (fine, yes, I admit it, I like the pictures. I'm shallow. Sue me) was just not there on the Kindle.
So no more magazines on the Kindle for me... but I did just download the fourth book in the Kitty Norville series. And... I just heard they are planning to maybe release a Kindle 2.0 into the wild within the next few weeks. I wonder how different it will be. I wonder if it will be better. I wonder if they will give me a discount on it because I already own one. I wonder if it will handle magazines better! I can't wait to see it. I fear I am turning into a bit of a Kindle slut.

What I've been reading lately

Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds - a fantastic book with lots of great tips on how to avoid putting your audience through PowerPoint hell. Too bad it doesn't talk about what to do when you are part of the audience when someone ELSE is presenting a PowerPoint from Hell... wondering whether you will ever get this hour of your life back. Highly recommended - lots to think about, and divided into easily digestible chunks of ideas.
The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan - a memoir from the NY Times Bestseller List. I read it on my Kindle. Interesting and engaging, but I wouldn't go out of my way to buy another one of her books. I did love her portrayal of her dad, though.
The Associate by John Grisham -- this latest Grisham didn't really grip me, and I got bored halfway through and stopped reading. I just didn't find the characters engaging or interesting enough.
What I DId For Love by Susan Elizabeth Phillips --  very satisfying romance novel. I do like this author quite a lot.
The Dogs of Bedlam Farm - a memoir by Jon Katz. I always enjoy his writing.
Kitty Takes a Holiday by Carrie Vaughn - the third book in the Kitty Norville series. Very satisfying. I enjoy the series quite a lot. If you're into werewolves who are also radio talk hosts (and really, isn't everyone?) then you'll like it too.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Daemon by Daniel Suarez

Good techno-thriller, hard to put down and exciting. Note to self; do not read this kind of book before bedtime anymore. Had awful nightmares!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory (re-read)

I had read this book a couple of years ago and enjoyed it (always have liked things written about that era in English history, for some reason). The other day my friend Trisha and I watched the movie that was recently made. About the best I can say about it is "Boy, were the people and the costumes pretty." Even if I hadn't read the book, I'd have thought the story was choppy and would not have been committed to the characters. So, I thought I'd re-read the book again. And it was still good. My favorite books by Philippa Gregory are this one and her most recent one, The Virgin Queen I think it was called. I've read some of her others and they just haven't grabbed me.
Anyone who is a fan of Philippa Gregory might also like Dark Angels by Karleen Koen, another really good historical fiction read about an intrepid girl trying to survive the courtly intrigue of an English king's court.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What I've been reading

I've been bad about recording what I've read lately. And of course now I can't remember half of it. But here are some highlights:
The Naked Mole Rat Letters by Mary Amato  (a kid's book - maybe for 5th thru 7th grade - very good)
I read just enough of Warriors: Into The Wild by Erin Hunter to understand what the craze among fifth through eighth graders is about, but I've never been that big of a fan of books like that (except Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert O'Brien - that one was awesome).
Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick -- Ms. L, the librarian at Central School, recommended this to me and I loved it!
What Were They Thinking?: Crisis Communication -- the Good, the Bad, and the Totally Clueless by Steve Adubato -- a great read, fascinating and I learned a lot.
I reread Mistborn: The Final Empire and The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson. Got halfway through rereading the third book, Hero of Ages, before I got distracted. I'll probably go back to it again at some point.
I also reread Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold, one of my all-time favorites.
Just now I've finished Kitty and the Midnight Hour and Kitty Goes to Washington by Carrie Vaughn -- two very good books about a radio host/werewolf. I really like the characters and the way it's written. It reminds me of the style of writing of Tanya Huff's Blood series (Blood Price being the first one).
Here's the sad thing, I know there were a BUNCH of other books that I've read since the last time I posted, but dang if I can remember them. Oh well.
Oh, and I can also report that the more I use my Kindle, the more I dislike holding an "actual" book in my hands. Mass-market paperbacks are too hard to hold open with one hand unless you are vicious and break the spine, and large hardcovers tend to be too heavy for me to hold comfortably (what can I say, I have small hands). So.... you can have my Kindle when you pry it from my cold, dead hands!

I reread