Friday, January 31, 2014

Difficult Mothers: Understanding and Overcoming Their Power, by Terri Apter, 205 pages

This was a very powerful and validating book for me, as someone who was raised by an NPD (narcissistic personality disorder)mother. The author is very good about differentiating between normal mother/child conflicts and those that are at their core "difficult" and damaging. This is a book that I would very much like to own and I plan to re-read it once more before it's due back at the library. I recommend it for anyone who has or has had an abusive mother and is interested in facing that demon head on for emotional healing & understanding.

Book Club by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum, 120 pages

Title: Book Club
Author: Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
Pages: 120
Date: January 28th
Found: While checking in books. Didn't make it to the shelf.
Motive: Fan of Unshelved
Summary: A sampling from Unshelved. Classic hijinks.
Verdict: This is so great. Even more amusing to me now that I actually work in a library.

Ultra: Seven Days by Jonathan and Joshua Luna, 203 pages

Title: Ultra: Seven Days
Author: Jonathan Luna and Joshua Luna
Pages: 203
Date: January 28th
Found: At the library
Motive: Suggested by Danya
Summary: Follows seven days in the life of Pearl Penalosa, super-heroine, and two of her super friends, as they discover their fortunes.
Verdict: Unfortunately not exactly my cup of tea. A lot of the content was out of my personal comfort zone, but the artistic originality was definitely intriguing.

Dragon's Milk by Susan Fletcher, 242 pages

Title: Dragon's Milk
Author: Susan Fletcher
Pages: 242
Date: January 22nd
Found: In a thrift shop somewhere
Motive: Draaaagons
Summary: Unwilling Kaeldra must find dragon's milk for her dying sister. She finds herself uncomfortably entwined with the fates of three growing draclings. 
Verdict: Loved it. I always enjoy finding a book that presents dragons in a more intelligent perspective. The Scandinavian vibe was also particularly interesting.

Photogen and Nycteris by George MacDonald

Title: The Day Boy and The Night Girl, or Photogen and Nycteris
Author: George MacDonald
Pages: 26 pages printed out on copier paper, but probably more than that in book form
Date: January 17th
Found: Public Domain. Read it here.
Motive: This is my favorite fairy tale
Summary: A witch raises a baby boy so that he never sees the darkness; he wakes and sleeps with the sun, grows strong in its rays and hunts daily with a band of men. She simultaneously raises a baby girl to never see the light of day; she lives in a cavern with only a lamp and a nurse for company. One day each finds themselves out of place.
Verdict: A brilliant and beautiful examination of life, death, awareness and love.

The Little Lame Prince by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik, 107 pages

Title: The Little Lame Prince
Author: Dinah Maria Mulock Craik
Pages: 107
Date: January 17th
Found: In Vintage Stock for a dollar
Motive: Made me think of a George MacDonald fairy tale
Summary: Not to be confused with The Little Prince. An unassuming young prince is banished from his own kingdom by his greedy uncle after both of his parents die. He finds solace and help from his fairy godmother when she visits him in his tower and brings him a magical cloak.
Verdict: I started feeling a little disappointed partway through because I kept waiting for it to become a little more epic, but it's just not that kind of story. When I realized that, I was pleasantly satisfied with it.

The Tales of Beedle The Bard by J. K. Rowling, 111 pages

Title: The Tales of Beedle The Bard
Author: J. K. Rowling
Pages: 111
Date: January 17th
Found: On my roommate's bookcase
Motive: Harry Potter, duh
Summary: Contains five fairy tales set in the wizarding world.
Verdict: Quite enjoyable. My favorites are The Fountain of Fair Fortune and of course The Tale of the Three Brothers.

The Library Card by Jerry Spinelli, 148 pages

Title: The Library Card
Author: Jerry Spinelli
Pages: 148
Date: January 15th
Found: At Vintage Stock for $2
Motive: It has library in the name, and now I work in a library
Summary: Composed of four short stories, following some kids and how their lives change as they each encounter a mysterious blue card.
Verdict: Decent enough. Probably didn't reach the expectations I had for it, but it had some pretty interesting perspectives.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, 512 pages

Title: Seraphina
Author: Rachel Hartman
Pages: 512
Date: January 6th
Found: While shelving in the teen department
Summary: Amazing character development, brilliantly rendered human/dragon characteristics, engaging plotline, incredible exploration of the inner mind, beautifully strong and intelligent heroine (I'm really afraid to give any of the story away, it's fun to find out on your own).
Verdict: New. Favorite. Book.

Pebble In The Sky by Isaac Asimov, 230 pages

Title: Pebble In The Sky
Author: Isaac Asimov
Pages: 230
Date: January 1st
Found: In a thrift shop, probably The Book Guy
Motive: Trying to read more classic sci-fi
Summary: A man is innocently walking down the street, contemplating old age, when he is suddenly the victim of a nuclear laboratory accident and transported 50,000 years into the future. He becomes a science experiment there and develops crazy mind powers. A sappy romantic subplot also ensues.
Verdict: Enjoyable and fascinating.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sewing Made Simple by Tessa Evalegh (223 pages)

Small As An Elephant by Jennifer Jacobson (288 pages)

I read this one quite a while ago and just haven't had time to blog about it.

Thanks to for the review: "Ever since Jack can remember, his mom has been unpredictable, sometimes loving and fun, other times caught in a whirlwind of energy and "spinning" wildly until it's over. But Jack never thought his mom would take off during the night and leave him at a campground in Acadia National Park, with no way to reach her and barely enough money for food. Any other kid would report his mom gone, but Jack knows by now that he needs to figure things out for himself - starting with how to get from the backwoods of Maine to his home in Boston before Social Services catches on. With nothing but a small toy elephant to keep him company, Jack begins the long journey south, a journey that will test his wits and his loyalties - and his trust that he may be part of a larger herd after all."

A tad predictable, but upper elementary and middle grade children should enjoy it.  Plus, it's short and boy-friendly, which are added bonuses.  

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Murder as a Second Language by Joan Hess, 292 pages

I read a lot of murder mysteries; funny, historical, or serious. So I know who I like and who I don't, and Joan Hess is always on my like list. While the Claire Malloy series is my favorite of her two, I still consider them a solid read.

Killing Cupid by Laura Levine, 261 pages

I really enjoy these murder mysteries featuring Jaine Austen. She is a believable character and the stories are always hilarious. I think one of my favorite parts are the emails from her parents. I enjoy their mini-story just as well. These books are always lots of fun.

The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg, 347 pages

This has been reviewed by others so I won't say a lot but it was fabulous. I read it in one sitting because I didn't want to put it down. Fanni Flagg creates some of the most compelling and interesting characters, and this is one of her best books.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Ultra: Seven Days, 232 pages

This was one of the best superhero graphic novels I've ever read. It's from the viewpoint of a female superhero, and it's interspersed with pages that look like advertisements, magazine covers and articles. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

The World of Pooh by A.A. Milne, 314 pages

I was reading a mystery novel that that the main character was re-reading a Pooh book and I realized I've never actually read one. This collection featured The Complete Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. These were absolutely sweet and I regret that I never read them to my children. I'm very glad I picked this up.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, 509 pages

This was the January book for Readers Without Borders. This was a great swashbuckling adventure book, and I like that we're reading some classics. I appreciate them more now than when I was in high school.

Peace and Plenty, Finfing Your Path to Financial Serenity, by Sarah Ban Breathnach, 412 pages

This year I Am on a path to financial serenity and security, and I loved the idea of this book. The bestselling author of Simple Abundance wrote this as a way to work out her own financial disasters and to come to terms with her own material hardships, after losing millions by not being a good stewardess of her own money. Sometimes this book was hard to relate to personally, but I loved her honesty and openness. However, it got under my skin a few times when the author repeatedly generalized women, assuming that every woman will feel peace by getting her kitchen in order or by having her sewing supplies handy just because she's female. I know her name "Sarah" means princess, but that doesn't mean every gal wants or needs the same Victorian cure-alls and remedies as Ms. Breathnach.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Jane Austen's England by Roy & Lesley Adkins, 422 pages

This book looked at what life would have been like during Jane Austen's life. It covered everything from fashion to funerals, work and play, crime, punishment, medicine, and everything in between. It was detailed and interesting, and I love learning all the little details. While this wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea, if you like minutiae
and trivia, this would be a good book.

DIY Mason Jars: 35 creative crafts and projects for the classic container by Melissa Averinos (176 pages)

I Love Mason Jars as they are fun, classic, functional and can be used every day...whats not to like? This book has a lot of cute ideas, broken down into categorizes like housewares, edibles etc with various projects throughout. If you like DIY or just really like Mason Jars, then check out this book.

Fun with Mommy and Me: more than 300 together time activites for you and your child birth to age five by Cindy Nurik (307 pages)

The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg (347 pgs.)

My love affair with Fannie Flagg's writing continues with her newest book.  The weaving together of two different times and two different lives of two fascinating sets of characters was wonderfully done.  There were moments that made me laugh and moments that brought sudden tears to my eyes... both happy and sad.  It was also interesting to ponder what it means to different generations to be a strong woman and how important it is to not forget the fight of those who have come before us.

Time and Again by Jack Finney (399 pgs.)

I crossed the new year by re-reading an old favourite.  This story captivates me every time, not so much for the story itself, which is good, of course, but for the concept behind the story.  The idea that time always is and if you can cut your mental and emotional ties to one time, you can cut the physical ties, too, and be in a different time.  That time is like a curvy river and, just because you can't see it, it doesn't mean that it isn't there.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (341 pages).

by JK Rowling.

Another neat and overly optimistic ending for a pretty compelling idea of a series. I just hope the characters get more nuanced (especially Hermione-- everyone has told me she's an awesome character, but mostly she's just reliably smart and needs to be rescued a lot. Boring. She wasn't even in this book much at all!) and emotionally resonant, or I might stop reading after the third book.

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (310 pages).

by JK Rowling.

I'm in, but most of the plot-points are too neat and tidy.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Young Miss Holmes Casebook 5-7, 560 pages

This is the finale of the manga series featuring Christie Hope, the niece of Sherlock. This has been an interesting take on the Sherlock genre and my introduction to manga. While the highly sexualized drawings fo the women were distracting at times, it was still an interesting read.

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Great Santini by Pat Conroy, 536 pages

My book club had read "My Reading Life" by Conroy, and it referenced this book in it. I was intrigued so I decided to give this a go. This is a thinly fictionalized look at Conroy's life growing up with an abusive Marine father. This was a superb read, emotional and engrossing without being too much of a tearjerker. I like how one book will lead you to another, than another, with you having 50 books on your "to read" list before you know it.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Divergent by Veronica Roth, 487 pages

I finally read this book! I have been overwhelmed by its length for probably a couple years but finally got around to reading it and blazed through it. This book has been hyped, read, and reviewed a lot by most of you so I'll just say, I liked the book a lot and found it to be really compelling and I'll definitely finish the series.

Happier at Home: Kiss More, Jump More, Abandon a Project, Read Samuel Johnson, and My Other Experiments in the Practice of Everyday Life by Gretchen Rubin, 263 pages

This book was pretty good, but somewhat redundant after reading the author's first book on happiness, The Happiness Project. Still, I'd recommend it as a light, quick, pick-me-up kind of read or for a flash of inspiration.

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (579 pages)

I could write a novel about this books and how amazing it is, I fell in love with this book right off the back.  This is the first book in a trilogy and its quickly becoming my favorite book series ever read. To keep this short if you like the paranormal and love history then this book melds those two worlds together and is for you.

Ghost and Ruins by Ben Cantmull (83 pages)

This book just happen to catch my eye one day with its stunning artwork on the cover. This book is a collection of short poems with illustrations. The pictures are dark and kind of creepy and stunning in detail, so if you like that kind of stuff then check out this book.

Lawn Gone! by Pam Penick (184 pages)

Stich Savvy! by Deborah Moebes (224 pages)

My grand mother has been a sewer all her life and it is a trait that I have often admired and wanted to learn. My grandmother could be a professional seamstress if she ever wished to do so, much like most of her generation. The art of sewing is becoming a lost art among women my age and younger and that is something that I hope we can change. I really loved how the projects were geared towards younger women and the directions were easy to follow. At the beginning of the book there was an overview of the art of sewing and in each chapter there were usually 4 projects that got progressively harder as you went along. This is a great book for someone who is wanting to try their hand at sewing, while also making something useful that could be use and enjoyed.

Killer Librarian by Mary Lou Kirwin, 306 pages

This was a wonderful book that feed into all I love in a good read. It featured a mystery book loving librarian who, on a trip to England, comes across a dead body. The passion for England, books and book stores in general was just a perfect combination for me. Plus, the book was an out and out enjoyable read. I wholeheartedly recommend this book.

The Burry Man's Day by Catriona McPherson, 365 pages

This is the second book in a mystery series set in 1920's Scotland. Dandy Gilver is a society matron who has a tendency to get drawn into investigating mysteries, usually with whimsically humorous results. Witty and funny with a deft touch at characters, the author has created some books that are a treat to read.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein -- 360 pages

“Rose Under Fire” deals with Rose, an American, a young poet, but also an ATA pilot who ends up a prisoner in Ravensbruck, one of the infamous German concentration camps after trying to taran (perform an aerial ramming) a V-1 flying bomb — also known as a buzz bomb, or doodlebug. 

In Ravensbruck we meet her camp family.  A French novelist and mother figure, a feisty Polish girl who teaches Rose to swear in at least six languages, and an ace Soviet fighter pilot.  Will the hope these people provide each other allow them to survive?  (Again, no spoilers.)

I had no idea that women flew transport and support missions in WWII.  I knew nothing about aerial ramming or doodlebugs.  I sure never knew that some American women ended up in concentration camps!

This book was one that sent me off to do extra reading about these parts of WWII and the Holocaust.  The book contains a bibliography of books, articles, and websites for more reading.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein -- 343 pages

By Elizabeth Wein, “Code Name Verity” tells of “Verity”, a secret agent arrested by the Gestapo and held as a prisoner of war.  She is given the choice of revealing her mission or facing certain death.  Bit by bit, on scraps of papers Verity makes her confession, telling the story of her life and mission, but also weaving in the tale of her friendship with Maddie, a young female pilot in the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA). 

A review of this book in the New York Times calls it “a fiendishly plotted mind game of a novel, the kind you have to read twice.”  I indeed found myself going back to earlier passages in the book and finding clues I should have picked up earlier.  There were several ”Aha” moments.

It was a satisfying read, one where the characters became people I cared about, and cared about what happened to them (and no, I won’t spoil it for you!)