Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Added to my To Be Read List Recently

For me, the "to be read list" never ends. The problem is, there are always more books I'd like to read. As a librarian, I read about books all the time, and I am constantly adding books to the TBR list. Here are the top ten most recent adds to my list.

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

American Gods by Neil Gaiman
I just recently read Trigger Warning, his newest short story collection, and I just love his writing. I'm actually surprised I haven't picked this one up before.

West of Sunset by Stewart O'Nan
This is a novel about the last few years (the Hollywood years) of F. Scott Fitzgerald's life. I find Fitzgerald's life story as interesting as one of his books, so I think I'd enjoy this fictionalized take.

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
I see this book all the time on the shelves, and its title intrigues me. He relives his life over and over, and I'm kind of a sucker for that type of story.

Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (with a few flat tires along the way) by Sue Macy
My friends and I would categorize this book as "women be doing things." As in, it's a book about women doing Things (with a capital T to show the importance). It shows through vintage photos and stories how
women were able to become more independent with the advent of the bicycle. This was also a big award winner for children and teens.

The Fill-in Boyfriend by Kasie West
This YA novel is a zany rom-com that will be a perfect summer read. It's all about fake identities and falling for the wrong person.

The Last Good Day of the Year by Jessica Warman
This is one of those gritty books that I have to mentally prepare myself to read, since I know it will upset me. It revolves around the misidentification of a kidnapper, and the repercussions to those who did the identifying.

The Awesome by Eva Darrows
This book is kind of like a Buffy the Vampire Slayer story, but revitalized. That's all I'm going to say. Look it up.

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak by Brian Katcher
An unusual romance story told in a he said/she said sort of way. It is also science-y, which I think should be fun.

Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth about Guilty Pleasure TV by Jennifer L. Pozner
I have a soft spot for books about TV, and this one just sounds so juicy!

The Art of Asking; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer
I believe I read about this book on a list of books that you should read in your twenties. It resonates with me since I have the problem of taking on too much myself, so I want to read how I can help this. Also, it has such good reviews that I just really need to see what the buzz is about.

What have you added to your TBR list lately?

~Cailey W.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Books from my Childhood I’d Like to Revisit

It's Top Ten Tuesday again! This week's topic is "books from my childhood I'd like to revisit."


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

1) The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

Ferdinand was one of my favorite books growing up. I had my father and read it to me over and over again. I think part of what made it so mesmerizing was the illustrations, and I would love to go back and take a look at them now.

2) Joe Camp’s Benji and the Tornado by Gina Ingoglia

I actually had to look up this book to make sure I hadn’t completely made it up. It is probably the least well-known on this list, but it’s one that was important to my family, mainly because we found many of the illustrations in the book incredibly hilarious.

3) The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka

I feel like I need to revisit this book because of Jon Scieszka’s unqiute sense of humor. I can only imagine how many jokes I missed out on as a child.

4) Mama, Do You Love Me? By Barbara Joosse

Parents demonstrate their love for their children in so many different ways, and this book is a friendly reminder of the endless reaches of their love. It’s more of a sentimental read for me. Get them tears flowing.

5) If the Dinosaurs Came Back by Bernard Most

Who hasn’t thought about what they would do if the dinosaurs suddenly reappeared. I know I have. And if I’m remembering this book correctly, they are a plenty of creative ways to use dinosaurs.

6) Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish

For those of you unfamiliar with Amelia Bedelia, she takes everything literally and doesn’t understand figures of speech. I know a couple of books featuring Amelia have come out since I stopped reading them as child, and I’d like to see what wacky thing happen in those stories.

7) Frog and Toad are Friends by Arnold Lobel

Frog and Toad are two of my favorite characters from children’s literature. The two go off on many wonderful adventures together throughout their series, and I’d like to relive that magic. 

8) Why Mosquitos Buzz in People’s Ears: A West African Tale by Verna Aardema

One of these days I should really just sit down and go back through all of the Caldecott winners. But Mosquitos has always been my favorite, so I would say that is the one I would revisit first. I’d like to read it along with James Earl Jones’ narration over the animated version as well.

9) The Story of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff

Oh, Babar. You have so many adventures. And I’d like to go back to your first. I could use a little reminder of how the story goes.

10) Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard

When I was younger I remember thinking that Miss Nelson was incredibly clever for tricking her students with a clever disguise.

And what are your favorites?

~Marilyn W.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Farewell, Sir Terry

Surprise, surprise. It’s Ariel, and I’m writing about Terry Pratchett. AGAIN.

Well, dear readers, Sir Terry passed away today. I thought that I would honor him and his literary legacy by sharing my personal experiences with his work.

Terry Pratchett has been my favorite author for over five years now. One day, my college roommate suggested that I read Hogfather, and I instantly became obsessed with his work. The Discworld became the new Hogwarts—the place that my adult self could go to for fun and adventure.

Now, when I say I was obsessed, I mean I was obsessed. I spent an entire summer reading nothing but Discworld books borrowed from the library. I took a picture of a crossword puzzle that had an answer related to Thud! I bought a copy of every Pratchett book I found at the book store. When I recently went through my collection at home, I found that I had multiple copies of some of them. You know how James Patterson has a small monopoly on the adult fiction shelves at the library? That’s what the Pratchett section of my bookshelf looks like at home.

Pratchett’s fantasy is so fun and funny, I couldn’t keep it to myself. (And like a good librarian, I didn’t!) I recommended Going Postal to my dad. I told my husband about Thief of Time. For Christmas, I gave my nieces The Wee Free Men and Pratchett’s other YA titles. When I started the Teen Book Club, I chose Nation for one month’s discussion. I pretty much jumped on any opportunity to share Pratchett’s work that presented itself.

All told, Pratchett published more than 70 books during his lifetime. At the peak of his career, he was putting out three books per year. In Britain, he was one of the most-read authors, second only to J.K. Rowling.

His death was announced via his Twitter account this afternoon. Suitably, the initial tweet was written in all capital letters—the signature manner in which Pratchett denoted the character Death’s speech in the Discworld novels. While the message was by no means cheerful, I couldn’t help but smile when I saw this. I imagine other fans had a similar reaction. It was just so perfect.


As you can imagine, hearing of his passing has had an enormous effect on me. I’m not sure if my brain has completely accepted the fact just yet. The world has lost a truly talented author, and I know that mine is not the only life his work has touched.

~Ariel J.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Downton Abbey Readalikes

Are you going through Downton Abbey withdrawal? Do you need a way to supplement the show until it returns? Check out some of these great Downton-esque reads!

Non-fiction: 

The Perfect Summer: England 1911, Just Before the Storm by Juliet Nicolson
Just before the world changed in ways unimaginable, there was a perfect summer in England, when a new king was crowned, the rich social aristocracy flourished, and the weather was warm. This book shows both the good and the bad of that "perfect summer," exploring the Edwardian era from unique sources.

Below Stairs by Margaret Powell
A memoir of her time in service, this book inspired both Upstairs, Downstairs, and Downton Abbey. As a kitchen maid, she observed aristocratic life from the outside, and shares her story in this unforgettable book.

Life Below Stairs: True Lives of Edwardian Servants by Alison Maloney
Much like Powell's memoir, this book chronicles the lives of several servants, and their personal stories of lives as servants in the Edwardian age.

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey by Lady Fiona Carnarvon
Written by the current Lady Carnarvon, she tells the tale of Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon, who was a brave woman presiding over Highclere Castle during World War I. Highclere Castle was the inspiration for Downton Abbey, so the true stories are evermore fascinating. She also wrote Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey.

The Secret Rooms: A True Story of a Haunted Castle, a Plotting Duchess, and a Family Secret by Catherine Bailey
A real-life mystery story surrounding rooms that were locked up in a castle for years. It unravels the mystery behind this tale of honor and betrayal in the aristocracy of Britain.

Fiction:

Longbourn by Jo Baker
Something for the Pride and Prejudice fan as well as Downton Abbey. This story is Pride and Prejudice from the servants' quarters. They dominate the tale, putting a twist on the classic story, while also discussing the British upper class of the time.

Summerset Abbey by T.J. Brown
Three young women, daughters of a knight, begin their lives on the sprawling estate outside of London. The three women each face different challenges in life and love. The book covers the roles of women in the Edwardian times, as well as the roles of the servants in their household. It is part of a series.

A Room with a View by E.M. Forster
The classic story of Lucy Honeychurch, a middle-class British girl, being wooed by two gentlemen while on vacation in Italy. It tells the tale of different social and economic circles in British society.

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton
Told largely in flashbacks, this book is about an unsolved mystery from the grand Riverton Manor in 1924. In 1999, the housemaid from the manor is asked to recount her history of her time there, threatening to unleash secrets long forgotten.

Habits of the House by Fay Weldon
At the turn of the century, this novel of manners and morals, tells the stories of earls and lords in upper-class England. The author wrote the pilot episode for the original Upstairs, Downstairs.

For more readalikes to Downton Abbey, download our bookmark, or pick one up in the library. All of the books mentioned are available at Mentor Public Library.

~Cailey W.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Heroines

So this week I get to tell you about a couple of my favorite heroines, spanning all sorts of media. I’ll try not to cover some of the lovely ladies I’ve talked about before (cough, cough Ms. Marvel, cough cough) but here are a couple of heroines who are important to 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

Kate Bishop from Hawkeye by Matt Fraction, artist David Aja
Kate Bishop; she’s practically an avenger! She took up the name Hawkeye after her mentor, Clint Barton, and she frequently works alongside him. Despite her father’s incredible wealth, she’s no princess, and she’s not afraid to jump right into the fray. Kate is hilarious, and I will admit she can often steal the show. I would recommend checking out the third trade in the Hawkeye series; it focuses on a broke Kate trying to make it as a private detective in L.A.

Lying Cat from Saga by Brian K. Vaughan, artist Fiona Staples
Okay, so maybe Lying Cat isn’t exactly your typical heroine, but she is one of my favorite parts of the Saga series. Lying Cat is roughly the size of a Tiger and has the ability to tell when someone is telling a lie, which she points out by saying, “lying!” a skill which proves invaluable to her bounty hunter companion, The Will. And if that’s not awesome then I don’t know what is.

Forever from Lazarus by Greg Rucka, artist Michael Lark
In an apocalyptic world where a handful of powerful families rule, each family has a Lazarus, or protector. Forever is the youngest daughter, and Lazarus of the Carlyle family. She is sworn to protect them at all costs, and has been trained from a young age to do so. Forever is fiercely loyal, and let’s just say I would not want to be on her family’s bad side.

Ellie from Up
In just a few short moments, Pixar gave us one of my favorite characters in cinema. Ellie is a delight. She’s quirky and kind, and was determined to live her life to the fullest, no matter what came her way. And while she may not have been physically present throughout all of the movie, her bright spirit was a driving force behind the story. Remember, adventure is out there!

Peggy Carter from Captain America: The First Avenger
So admittedly, Peggy C is my current obsession. She’s in my comics, movies, and all over my TV and I love it. Peggy is smart, strong, and gets the job done. She makes me want to run out and get myself a spiffy red hat.

Miss Pauling from Valve Presents: The Sacrifice and other Steam-Powered Stories edited by Rachel Edidin
Incredibly hardworking, Miss Pauling gets one day off a year and spends the rest of her time cleaning up the messes left by the Red and Blu mercenaries of Team Fortress 2. She’s quick-witted, resourceful, and isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty.

The Lumberjanes from Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis
April, Mal, Molly, Ripley and Jo are the adventures girls of the Roanoke Cabin at “Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady Types.” (Try saying that five times fast). Each girl is amazing in her own way, and all of them understand that teamwork and friendship are essential in order to accomplish their goals, which in their case involves taming dinosaurs, defeating three-eyed wolf monsters and taking down a Greek goddess.

The Paper Bag Princess from The Paper Bag Princess by Robert N. Munsch, illustrator Michael Martchenko
The Paper Bag Princess is one of the books that I remember my parents reading to me when I was younger. She is cunning, creative and doesn't need a prince. Plus, she can totally rock a paper bag.

Sara Crewe from A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
She is kind, compassionate, and incredibly imaginative. Sara is wise beyond her years and she manages to bring out the best in those around her. She taught me that all girls can be princesses.

Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation
Oh Leslie, we will miss you. Sadly, Parks and Recreation is ending this week, which means we are losing one of my favorite characters from television. For those of you who don’t know, Lesle Knope is the driving force behind the Parks Department in Pawnee, Indiana. She is committed to her goals, her town, and her friends, no matter what. She is hardworking and unshakably optimisitc. And I believe that if we all tried to be the Leslie Knopes of whatever we do, the world would be a much better place.

Who are your favorite heroines?

~Marilyn

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday: Bookish Problems

Today's Top Ten Tuesday is "Bookish Problems," and I have compiled a list for your reading pleasure.

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

Book ADD: losing interest in one book and jumping into another, newer, shinier book. (I usually still jump back at some point.)

Mixing plots: Along the same lines, I sometimes read books with similar plots and mix them up. Whoops!

Books that I own but haven't read: People give me gift cards for books, which I love (so don't stop!) but that means I buy several books at once, and frequently they sit in my to-be-read pile a long time before I pick them up.

Book hangovers: This is when you read a book you love so much that everything else is awful afterwards. This happens to me at least three times a year, and it makes it so I turn a bit lackluster about future books until I get over it.

Author binge: So this is only a problem when it's over. I find an author I love and then MUST READ EVERYTHING! Generally, this works out well, but then I fall into book hangover when I'm all out.

Book Procrastination: This happens to me with book club books a lot. I put it off until I must read it, and then I spend hours reading it the day before discussion. I also do this with books that are almost due back to the library and I have to finish them!

Space: As I mentioned, I like to own books (that I sometimes don't read, but my are they pretty!). This becomes a problem with moving, and shelves. Books take up space, which I am happy to give them, but sadly, at some point you just run out. I have four bookshelves in my house, and none of them are shelved normally. Books are sideways in order to make room for more books and more books are on those. There are also books on every surface of my room, including the floor. I have a problem.

Audio Narrators: I love me some audiobooks, but I am particular about my narrators. I get distracted by regional accents (when they are not part of the story) or when a narrator doesn't modify their voice ever. This problem has really only come up a handful of times, but it's real.

Book Insomnia: When I'm super into a book, I tell myself I'll read a little before bed. Then it's 1 AM, but there's really less than a hundred pages left, so I may as well keep reading, and by the time I finish, it's 2:30 and my mind is reeling from whatever I've read and then I have less than 4 hours sleep, but it's so worth it every time! (Except that I am then sleepy all day.)

So many books, so little time: There is never enough time to read the many many books I want to read, and they keep getting published!

Any bookish problems of your own?

~Cailey

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Top Ten Things I Like/Dislike in Romances

Happy Top Ten Tuesday! We are talking romance this week in honor of Valentine's Day.

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

So I do read my share of romance novels, although I like to think I am relatively picky when it comes to them. I don't read the traditional Harlequins, historical bodice-busters, or the currently popular BDSM/erotica books. I like to read books that are more rom-com. So what follows is my likes and dislikes for today's TTT. (And can we all just agree that the covers tend to suck across the board?)

Likes

Realistic Characters: I like for my characters to have more than two dimensions. There needs to be depth and a sense of realism to the characters I enjoy reading about. They have to have a background, friends, and just basically a life outside of the romance.

Humor: This is pretty much a must for me. Books that are too serious can bore me quickly when it comes to the romance genre. I'm not saying the whole book has to be funny, but every once in a while there just needs to be something to make me laugh.

Action (and I do not necessarily mean between the sheets action): I find that the best romance books I've read combine a mystery into the story, usually adding a few action scenes to the book. This makes the book read faster, and it also heightens the intensity of the story. As for the other kind of action, see below.

Side stories: I like for the friends and family members in a book to have personalities. Usually this means that they get to have a little bit of a background as well, maybe a subplot of their own. I realize that this can become tedious if there are too many, but I like a couple.

Attractive men: Alright, I'm a female. Reading romance books. The man in the book has to have some appealing qualities.


Dislikes

Clumsy Women: I absolutely hate it when a female character's main flaw is that she's "clumsy." This is not a good thing, people! Humanize them!

Men who are jerks until they suddenly aren't: This is an annoying one. I hate when the male character is a jerk the whole book, but is suddenly changed due to love. Now, if you background this well, it isn't always bad, but some romance authors just flip the switch.

Gratuitous sex: I realize that romance novels frequently feature sex, but some of these novels overplay it for no good reason. If a sex scene has lasted more than three pages, it's too long.

Gross details: This kind of goes with the above. Figure it out yourself.

Lack of a storyline/conflict: Some of the books that are heavy on sex lose out in story. Also, it is so annoying when the conflict is something so easily fixed. I know a lot of these books use a simple misunderstanding, which can work, when done right, but more often it is done wrong.

Bonus sixth thing I dislike!: Violence of any kind in the romantic relationship. It's not okay.


Some authors I think do it right: Jennifer Crusie (my favorite!), Meg Cabot, Christie Craig, Kristan Higgins, and Susan Mallery (touch and go for me).

What do you think?

~Cailey