Tuesday, April 22, 2014

10 books that have earned 5 stars from me on Goodreads!

I love Goodreads. It’s been my favorite social media-esque site for a while because it’s all about books! I make lists of books, talk about books, read reviews and summaries, and rate what I’ve read.

Now I’m a stickler on what books get 5 star ratings. To me, a book that gets 5 stars is the top of the top, crème de la crème. It means I’m going to rave about that book to anyone who will listen, I’ll reread it, and I’ll constantly put it on the “Staff Picks” display. A 5 star is one that has spoken to me in some way, made me want to turn its pages, but I never wanted it to end, and I went through a small depression after it was done. This is a book that holds a place in my heart. Therefore, very few books receive such a prestigious rating.

Here are 10 books that have swept me into their world and claimed a 5 star rating.

1. The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

I got into Harry when the series was just coming out with the fourth book and I got hooked. I felt like a part of the story and I never wanted to leave Hogwarts. I’d become frustrated with Harry and yell at the pages for him to stop being stupid. I wanted so badly to be a part of the amazing world Rowling had created. This series is dear to me.

2. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
Bryson is an extraordinary man. He’s a scholar and an excellent writer. His wit carries across the page and makes you laugh out loud. This is a book that made me adore travel writing. Nonfiction can frustrate me sometimes because I find myself slogging through, but not with Bryson. He’s hilarious and informative. On top of that, Walk takes place on the Appalachian Trail, which fascinates me. 

3. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
English countryside, a fallen family, an old castle, and a sweet, sharp young girl make for a near perfect combination in my book. Capture is a poignant book that looks at a family struggling with poverty and a coming of age story for our young protagonist, Cassandra. The book is written as Cassandra’s journal. We see how life changes for the family when rich neighbors move in down the way and life turns upside down. A bittersweet, humorous story. I love you, I love you, I love you. (Full review here.)

4. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
Oh Anne! You’re just so sweet and want so much to be loved and accepted. I just adored the first three books in Montgomery’s series. I stopped after Anne of the Island because a reputable source told me the series was not as good after that. I truly enjoyed the era, setting, and spunky characters in this series. So so sweet!

5. The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Many people detest this book. Understandable. The main character is selfish, but this book is about a woman who has never had her say. Who has given into the proper and socially acceptable way of doing things her entire life until finally she begins to awaken. She discovers that she has desires and dreams outside of what society says is acceptable for her gender. It’s about an individual finding themselves after years of walking around in a haze. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Things

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Today's topic is top ten bookish things (that aren't books) that I want. Guys, I want a lot of bookish things, so I had to pare down this list significantly.
Top Ten Tuesday is a meme started on the Broke and the Bookish blog.
They set the topic, we make the lists. Visit their site to see more on this topic

Aren't these really cool? They are practically floating!

So I don't have to say it myself.

If you don't understand why this is awesome, we can't be friends.

So all of my beloved books can be embossed as "Library of Cailey."

When you get invited to my place, it shall smell of old books. Fantastic.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Rosie Revere, Engineer

(The following review is written by our shiny new guest blogger, Marilyn, who is a Children's Associate here at MPL.)

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

From a young age Rosie Revere dreamed of becoming an engineer. She would create ingenious inventions using pieces and parts she had found in the trash. Rosie happily shares her inventions with her adoring aunts and uncles. She invents a machine for one of her favorite uncles, but when it malfunctions he laughs in her face. Embarrassed, Rosie hides her inventions away and keeps to herself.

One day Rosie’s great-great-great aunt Rose comes for a visit. Rose, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Rosie the Riveter, tells Rosie stories of her work constructing airplanes when she was young. Her only dream left is to fly. Rosie, feeling inspired, begins building a flying machine for her aunt. She spends all day building the machine in her back yard. But when she takes it for a test run it falls to the ground, right in front of her aunt. Her aunt laughs and gives Rosie a big hug, congratulating Rosie on her first step to success. She encourages Rosie to keep trying because, “life might have its failures, but this was not it. The only true failure can come if you quit.” Rosie gets back to building and inspires her classmates to come up with their own inventions.

After finishing this book I wanted to run around, reading it to every young girl I encountered. This book proudly proclaims that math and science are for girls too.  And can we just talk about how smart Rosie is? She made all of her inventions from things she found in the trash! Talk about creativity. In a time when it seems like there are princesses looming around every corner, waiting to strike with a tidal wave of pink and sparkles, this book comes as a breath of fresh air.

What I love most about this book is that it shows what powerful impact adults can have on children and how impressionable a young girl can be. It broke my heart to see little Rosie staring in horror as her uncle laughed at her invention. And it brought a smile to my face to see how her aunt Rose inspired Rosie, who in turn inspired her class. Positivity is power, people!

If you like this book, Andrea Beaty also wrote Iggy Peck, Architect, which also celebrates creativity and individuality. Another good read is Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen, which is similar to Rosie with a very creative, misunderstood girl. And finally, how about Not All Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen, about all the different types of princesses in the world, even if they wear stinky socks and play baseball with their friends.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Unique Books

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! Today's topic is the top ten unique books, and sadly, I could only think of five. Forgive me. 

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme started on the Broke and the Bookish blog.
They set the topic, we make the lists. Visit their site to see more on this topic

Excerpt from The Arrival

The City of Dreaming Books immediately came to my mind when I got this topic. The main character is a dinosaur named Optimus Yarnspinner who comes into possession of a mysterious short story and, in an attempt to uncover the author’s identity, finds himself in Bookholm (the City of Dreaming Books). His search takes him deep underground into the city’s catacombs where he faces terrible monsters and violent Bookhunters.

The Arrival by Shaun Tan is a graphic novel without words. Not totally unique, but the protagonist is a man immigrating to a new planet. Tan captures the sense of displacement immigrants face when forced to face a place where they are unfamiliar with the language and customs.

Einstein’s Dreams is a series of metaphysical stories supposedly dreamed by Albert Einstein during 1905 while he worked in a patent office. One of my favorites deals with a place where time stands still – it’s a place inhabited by lovers and people who don’t want to see their children grow up.

While best known for Girl, Interrupted, Susanna Kaysen has also written a few novels. One of which is the uniquely plotted Asa, as I Knew Him. Even though Dinah and Asa are ending their affair, Dinah still hopes to find depth in the man she loves. So she invents his past and tells the story of his adolescence. As a reader, you have to accept that the book is both fiction in the general sense of it being a novel and also “fake” within the context of the story.

Beautiful Darkness has all the trappings of a lovely, illustrated fairy tale except for the graphic murder in the first few pages. The simplest way to describe it would be “what if The Borrowers were mean to each other?” A group of tiny, human-like creatures are forced to survive in the forest but most of them die either from violence from their companions or their own carelessness.

What do you think? What book have you read that is super original?

~Meredith T. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

Not a Drop to Drink

Lynn has grown up knowing that everyone wants and will kill for the water in the pond on her land...and that she and her mom have to kill to protect it. Then, the unthinkable happens and Lynn is suddenly alone. How will she get what she needs to survive and protect her water all by herself?

Imagine a life where you only know one other person: your mother. That is Lynn’s life. Lynn has seen glimpses (through the scope of her rifle) of her neighbor, Stebbs, but has only met him once. Lynn’s mother’s paranoia about their water has caused countless deaths – as they turn people away from the farm’s pond – or kill them, if the people are too persistent. The physical and emotional isolation Lynn has grown up with is chilling. 

But when Lynn’s mother is killed, Lynn has to learn to change. When she starts to branch out and meet other people, it goes against everything she was ever taught as a child. To see the struggle between nature and nurture and to watch Lynn grow into an emotional being was intriguing. 

My favorite thing about this book was that it was different. While still being a dystopia, it moves into a few areas that aren’t normally examined – how emotional isolation can cause dysfunction – and the uncertainty it causes and how uncomfortable it is when that person is forced to change.

I especially liked the epilogue at the end of the book. One of the trends with current dystopian novels is to end the book/series with some type of epilogue, but not many of them are done well. The epilogue at the end of Not a Drop to Drink was; it gave the reader a sense of ending that was a natural and believable continuation of the books story arc. 

I really enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it – to both teens and adults.

 Similar Dystopian Titles:

~Mary P.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Librarians' Line-Up: Funny Books

Happy April Fool's Day! In the spirit of the day, we have collected some of our favorite funny books to share with you. There's a little bit for everyone here.

Many funny books have I read in my day, but I will go with the one that made me laugh out loud when I snagged it off the shelf. I Could Pee on This: and other cat poems by Francesco Marciuliano is a delightful book of poetry by cats. Cats are ruthless death machines who use humans as feeding machines and scratching posts, but darn it if they’re not cute! Here is a great poem from it called "I Lick Your Nose":
“I lick your nose/ I lick your nose again/ I drag my claws down your eyelids/Oh you’re up? Feed me.”
~Kristin M.

My favorite funny book is Allie Brosh’s memoir, Hyperbole and a Half. Inspired by her blog of the same name, Hyperbole tells a half dozen stories or so from different points in her life. They vary from her childhood obsession with cake to her battle with depression. But it’s her intentionally crappy doodles make me laugh until I cry.
~Meredith T.

One of my favorite funny books of all time is Phule's Company by Robert Aspirin. Take a bunch of space mercenaries, now take individuals which don't fit in, and ship them all off to one place. Now, put a multibillionaire playboy captain, Phule (Pronounced as "fool"), in charge and let the hilarity ensue. This book may have been written in the 90's, but it still makes me giggle.
~Mary P.

I've read a lot of funny books recently (including Hyperbole and a Half-it's hilarious), but one that sticks out is Tina Fey's Bossypants. Last year I watched all of 30 Rock, and gained quite the appreciation for Ms. Fey, but reading her book enhanced it much more. She narrated the audiobook, and it made all of the difference. I loved hearing about her improv theater days and how she rose to fame. She's just a good storyteller.

When I want funny fiction, I go to Christopher Moore. I started with You Suck (which was second in the series I didn't realize, but I was able to jump in no problem). His characters say funny things and the situations are ridiculous. I would also recommend Tiny Fey's Bossypants, if you're in the mood for non-fiction.
~Amanda D.

It took me a while to warm up to David Sedaris. He has a kind of deadpan humor that takes a bit of getting used to. When You Are Engulfed in Flames is composed of short stories drawn from Sedaris’s life, varying from the mundane to the extremely bizarre. He refuses to quit smoking, and as a result must spend his book tours in increasingly marginal hotels, he ends up in Japan trying to read safety instructions, and many other subtly odd situations.
~John F.

Those are our funny picks. What's your favorite funny read? Let us know!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Five Books Worth Reading: Inspirational Fiction (Historical)

Looking for some warmhearted stories this weekend? Look no further! We've compiled a list of five books worth reading in the Inspirational Fiction genre. (If you read no others, read these.)

To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer
Karen Witemeyer is one of the big up-and-coming names in the genre of Christian Fiction. One of the reasons I enjoy her books so much is their historical settings on the Texas frontier. To Win Her Heart doubles down on some of my favorite things by featuring a librarian as the main character. Eden Spencer runs the town’s lending library when Levi Grant arrives to take up the post of blacksmith. While at first they don’t seem to have anything in common, Eden and Levi will help each other overcome painful events in their pasts.

Christy by Catherine Marshall
In Catherine Marshall’s Christy, nineteen year old Christy Huddleston leaves her home to travel to the small town, Cutter Gap, located deep in the heart of the Smoky Mountains to become their schoolteacher. There, Christy faces nearly insurmountable odds and ends up learning more about herself and the world around her. Through it all she relies on her unwavering faith as support through difficult times.

The Girl in the Gatehouse by Julie Klassen
A different setting, Julie Klassen’s The Girl in the Gatehouse is set during the English Regency period. If you’re a fan of Jane Austen, this is a great book to read as there are a number of parallels between the protagonist, Miss Mariah Aubrey, and the characters in Austen’s work. Following a scandal, Miss Aubrey hides away in the gatehouse on the edge of the property of a distant relative. Captain Matthew Bryant, newly returned from the war is immediately intrigued by this mysterious resident.

Second Chance Brides by Vickie McDonough
Second Chance Brides is actually the second book in Vickie McDonough’s “Texas Boardinghouse Brides” trilogy. After both being jilted in an ill-conceived mail order bride contest, Shannon O’Neil and Leah Bennett must pick themselves up from their bootstraps. They both have reasons for not wanting to return to their homes, so they set their minds determinedly to start new lives in Lookout, Texas.

Love Comes Softly by Janette Oke
The list wouldn’t be complete without Janette Oke. I want to suggest When Calls the Heart or Where Courage Calls from her Canadian West series, if only because I’m very much a fan of the Hallmark Channel’s television adaptation. But when it comes to an author as prolific and influential as Janette Oke (she’s written over 70 novels), I have to pick her first. It started with 1979’s Love Comes Softly. Marty is travelling West with her husband when an accident strips her of her future. It is her faith and determination that helps her overcome what seems like impossible difficulties.

I hope this helps you decide on some great reads! Let me know if you have others you think are worthy.

~Meredith T.