Archive for the ‘Bookishness’ Category

I blinked, so naturally it’s November already.

November 1, 2017

It’s November, and you know what that means?! Yeah, it does! – leftover Halloween candy, soup for dinner, and non-fiction reads!

I didn’t do so well keeping up with my scary reads. I read a lot of steamy romances and books I’d already read before this past month. <shoulder shrug> I can try to follow a theme, but I always end up going where I want to. I’m sure it’s not frustrating at all.

Still, the past few days I’ve almost picked up quite a few non-fic books only to put them back. I saved them for binging during #NonFicNov, which just shows how much I was desperately looking forward to this month’s theme. It’s time to chow down!

As far as the menu, I don’t think I have much of a plan. Find the non-fic books on my To Read list and then read them. I’m not waiting to see which might be better or cheaper or freeer – I’m just getting the book and going. Or, at least, that’s the plan right now.

Who else is joining me fir a little #nonficnov?! What titles are you especially looking forward to?

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Fixing my very long day.

October 18, 2017

It’s been a long, crazy week at ThePlaceThatShallNotBeNamed. The kind of long, crazy week that makes you get into someone else’s car at the end of the day, thinking it was yours – but that’s a story for another time.

Tonight, I did a little thing on a whim.

I did this:

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The picture’s kinda dark, and I was trying to be all funky (and make the mess seem, I dunno, cooler) by tilting everything, but that picture there on the wall? That is the kind of crazy thing I did to cheer myself up. I rather like it.

I got the picture for Christmas two years ago. If you can’t quite make it out, it’s a silhouette of Roland from Stephen King’s The Dark Tower standing in front of his Dark Tower, holding a rose. I paid gobs of money to have it professionally framed…and then let it sit on my floor collecting dust. It’s what I do. But when Kim was here in August, we did this thing where we rearranged my room rather dramatically, and the desk I stole back from Gracie really makes the end of my bedroom look so bookish and there was just the right amount of room for Roland to go over my chair, right there next to the door. Don’t you think?

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that this works.

I’ve tried this before. Two weeks ago I slapped on some Command hangers, pulled out my handy little level, and secured the picture to the wall. Or…I thought I secured it. Two hours later, I was screaming, popping out of bed, and pretty sure someone was trying to murder me. Thank god my light was still on and I was reading. Otherwise….yeah, let’s not go there.

So! Tonight when I decided at far-too-late-o’clock that a second attempt was necessary, I attached 152 more Command strips (2 probably wasn’t enough before, even if they were huge and extra duty)(yeah, I hear the jokes; shut up), dragged out my level, and tried again.

Have I mentioned how much I like my picture? Up on the wall? It’s like that is a fancy new thing I’ve started – hanging pictures on walls. I’ll try not to go too crazy – I only have 12 more Command strips anyway. And oh, I can only think what kind of blog hits I’ll get off that search term.

Meanwhile, I have a pretty new picture and I took control of the end of my day. Good-o.

 

30 Days of #Readathon: Best.

October 1, 2017

It’s Sunday night, and you know what’s a good way to put off going to work tomorrow? Talking about the Readathon! As you might have heard, Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon is celebrating 10 years of readathoning excellence, and to get us all worked up to read all night, Dewey’s fantastic hosts have decided to launch a “30 Days of Readathon” countdown. Each day has a theme; you get to decide how to tackle each theme. You can post blogs, snap pictures, record videos, host podcasts – you do you! The how is up to you. The what is books, obviously. Why? Because BOOKS!

There are 20 days left before our #Readathon kicks off, which means today’s theme is “Best.” Best what? I decided to re-post a picture from October 2014, one of the best Readathon hauls I ever prepped. I borrowed nearly thirty books from the library, just to be sure I had what I needed when the mood struck. (And, yes, I read or perused most of them!)

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It also counts as one of the craziest prepper moments, too! Ha!

What are some of the best moments from your Readathon-er past? Have you ever done anything totally off-the-charts insane?

30 Days of #Readathon: Places.

September 28, 2017

It’s a rainy Thursday, a small cold front is blowing through, and it feels like Piglet and Pooh and their Blustery Day are about the float past me…even though, to be honest, it’s not even all that windy outside. It’s more of a mood. And that mood is screaming at me to call in and stay home so I can cuddle up with a stack of books!

It doesn’t help that today marks 23 Days Left(!) in our 30-day countdown to Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon extravaganza(!!), and Day 23 is all about places. So when I woke up this morning at 4:30 a.m. and my body was All Done with The Sleeping, I pulled up the countdown, checked today’s theme – for those wee small hours of the morning when my heart wants to sleep but my body does not, they seem to be the only minutes I can steal for plotting blog posts and thinking of such things – and I started thinking of all the fun times the girls and I have had blocking pictures and participating in readathons. Then the rain started beating down even harder, and I swear to god I got my lazybones out of bed only because I had two small humans who had school. Uh…not sure if that’s parenting for the win or a solid loss, you guys.

These are some of the places my mind wandered to while I was lying in my bed, so cozily Not Sleeping this morning…

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Bookstores. I always pick up a book and read the first few pages in the store, just to see if I’ll be hooked by the voice. Sometimes the plot can be a bit of a slow boil, sometimes characters won’t show up for awhile, but the voice is my favorite part of the Holy Trifecta, and that I can usually tell right away. Not every book with a catchy voice will keep my attention, but a book that doesn’t have it in those first few pages never will. I might learn to appreciate the book – but, dudes, that’s what libraries are for! (One of many, MANY things they’re for – don’t hate.) The girls and I will also wander out to our local Barnes and Noble during the afternoons of long readathons for a change of pace and to keep ourselves engaged. And maybe for some caffeine and a bakery treat if mama’s feeling pretty flush!

BookNook

The Book Nook. The girls created their own little book nook behind the chaise lounge in the living room. Gracie-girl hasn’t been back there in awhile (don’t even get me started on the hundreds of little ways TeenGracie is leaving KidGracie behind!), but Bee will still bring her graphic novels, or fashion books, or her laptop back there (with as many snacks as she can get away with, usually). It’s not fancy – just a bunch of oversize pillows, an outlet that’s unsightly for pictures but perfect for charging e-readers, and sometimes a blanket or two. Just a girl, her books, and a few comfort items. But it’s enough to make my heart happy whenever I catch sight of her back there in her reading cocoon!

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The stacks. A few trips ago, my sisters and I took the girls to Holy Cross, my alma mater. There are so many gorgeous libraries on campus, but my heart belongs to Dinand. There are secret stairs, lots of couches and comfy chairs, creaky spots in the floors, that book smell sent straight from heaven, and so. many. stacks. It is unpossible to not feel perfectly happy when reading in such a place! I only get to visit now – and not even every trip home – but it’s a place I used to spend many Sunday mornings and weekday afternoons, even if I didn’t have to study. Why waste library time studying when you could spend it reading?!

Reading-in-bed

In bed. My comfy, comfy bed. Mmm…. Because I’ve been waking so early, I’ve been drifting off most nights after I’ve only squeezed in a few pages worth of reading time, but this is still the place I love to read most! All my life I’ve been a bed reader – hiding in our rooms away from the noisy house, flopped across the bed diagonally, not even under the covers. And reading at bedtime was always, always, always the best way to get sleepy and signal that another day was done. Right now I’m daydreaming about a Jetsons-like device that could magically calculate how many pages I’ve read in bed over the course of my lifetime. I’m pretty hearts-in-eyes-swoony over the number I imagine would show up!

Those are just a few of the places I love to read. I couldn’t find the one of me reading on the couch, or out on the patio (reading in the sunshine=sweetness; falling asleep and getting sunburned=AGAIN, KATIE?!), or a bathtub filled with scalding hot water and a nice topper of bubbles or a bath bomb. Oh, or that one great picture I have of me in my car on my lunch break, with the windows down, the sunshine streaming in, my feet up on the dash and a book in my hands. That’s a great picture.

But honestly the thing that makes them great is the book in my hands. That’s all I really need to carve out a “place”!

 

30 Days of #Readathon: Drinks.

September 27, 2017

It’s been a whirlwind kind of week, and I feel like I forgot to tumble out of the floo about six stops ago, but here I am and here we go!

As you might have heard, Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon is celebrating 10 years of readathoning excellence, and to get us all worked up to read all night (ha! like we need motivation!), Dewey’s fantastic hosts have decided to launch a “30 Days of Readathon” countdown. Each day has a theme; you get to decide how to tackle each theme. You can post blogs, snap pictures, record videos, host podcasts – hey, who wants to teach me how to Instagram? The point is, the how is up to you. The what is books, obviously. Why? Because you’re wickedly, wonderful insane, just like the way we like!

Today’s topic is drinks. Had I pre-planned a little, I could have gotten a little sloshy last night. In the name of blogging, of course. Alas.

Instead, when I popped my eyes open, wide-awake at 5 a.m. this morning, I used the time to – well, first check the theme and then to plan my attack. I decided to go with my bookish mugs. Look – all patiently waiting to be filled with The Coffees so I can maybe stay awake later.

BookMugs

A few of my favorites are missing – my orange Penguin Pride and Prejudice; my Mischief Managed; my I like BIG BOOKS and I cannot lie mug… But these are still all of my favorites, too. Who can resist Bartleby? I know I would prefer not to. (Sorry. See earlier comment about waking up at 5 a.m. I can’t help myself.) And the Harvard Bookstore mug that warns I am hot and literate? Literal fire.

So! Now it’s your turn! Go forth and show me your frothy bookish drinks. Oof, I did not mean that to sound nearly as dirty as it did…

30 Days of #Readathon: favorite book.

September 21, 2017

Dewey’s 24-Hour Readathon is celebrating 10 years of readathoning excellence this fall. To get the party off to a rip-roading start, Dewey’s fantastic hosts have decided to launch a “30 Days of Readathon” countdown. Each day has a theme; you get to decide how to tackle each theme. You can post blogs, snap pictures, record videos, host podcasts – hell, start an Instagram channel! The how is up to you. The what is books, obviously. Why? Because you’re deliciously insane, just like the rest of us!

Today’s topic is your favorite book. Can you guess mine? The artwork in my bedroom all centers around one book, and today just happens to be the author’s birthday.

DarkTower

30 more days to go…!

Rolling in RIP XII reads!

September 14, 2017

My RIP XII update is here! …because you know you’ve been waiting for it!

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While I set aside a few books I wanted to read, I’ve gone off list a little. I’ve knocked out a few books I intended to read, though, so the guilt hasn’t quite consumed me. What did I read? I’m so glad you asked!

Final Girls, by Riley Sager (Dutton, 2017, 342 pages, library eloan). Everyone has been talking about this book. Seriously – it’s pretty much all I’ve heard. And because it’s a mystery with a tricky ending, and because it’s written by a woman, of course they trot out “It’s the next Gone Girl!” endlessly. Guys – it’s not the next Gone Girl. So stop that right now. It was a mildly entertaining read, although the main character wasn’t very likeable (and not in a wonderfully complex way like – ha! – Gone Girl accomplished), and while I did enjoy picking up the story and reading to find out what the outcome was, it bugged that the writing was so cliche and obvious in so many areas that as an editor, I might have revisited. Some plot points made me roll my eyes. But here’s the thing – I kept picking it back up. The ending maybe made me wish I had just given it a pass, but I did read from cover to cover. So how do you rate a book like that? I’ll give it 3 of 5 stars. Because if I saw someone was reading it, I wouldn’t stop them. I might, however, advise everyone to borrow instead of buying.

Not a Sound, by Heather Gudenkauf (Park Row Books, 2017, 296 pages, library loan). I’m not a huge fan of Gudenkauf; her plotlines are easy to trick apart early on, her female characters easily fit into uncomplicated boxes with predictable actions and mindsets (as do her male characters for the most part, but they do have more emotional range, perhaps because they have nothing to prove?), and, I don’t know, her books sometimes have this overly dramatic feel, kinda like a Jodi Piccoult. But usually they’re not that bad, and I know I can at least sit down and be diverted for a couple hours. Except, not this one. This one I couldn’t finish. The main character lost her hearing in an accident, and I thought having a disabled main character might be a chance to shine! And then Gudenkauf used her character’s disability as a plot device. One very clunkily handled. I couldn’t deal with so much eye-rolling over that and over all the usual awkwardness of how the characters act and don’t act. The predictability of it all – and seeing it go in bad, bad places – ruined it for me. And the murder that the character finds in the beginning? Totally unbelievable how our m.c. acted! So, nope. Couldn’t do it. Not even “letting” her be an alcoholic who wasn’t allowed to see her step-daughter (a gendered role reversal I was interested in) on top of everything else could draw me in to see how it played out. What a disappointment. 1 of 5 stars.

Vassa in the Night, by Sarah Porter (Tor Teen, 2016, 296 pages, hardcover). Gracie got this book through her book box subscription service – the one that I’ve been reading all the books from! And Vassa was okay. It had an interesting retelling of the Cinderella story, set in an alternative, fantasy-styled Brooklyn. Porter is a strong writer and the parts that I loved most were her rich descriptions and the way she was able to color a scene so vibrantly; I could see everything Porter described. The story was…well, I don’t think it was it so much as it was me; I’ve read so many of these types of books lately, I think I’m a little burned out. So really – my fault. I’d recommend if it’s your jam! 2 1/2 of 5.

A Head Full of Ghosts, by Paul Tremblay (William Morrow, 2015, 286 pages, ebook). This was a Deal of the Day a while back and I snagged it because I had started reading it so many times from the library and just couldn’t find time. RIP was a great excuse! I was excited to dive in because Stephen King had blurbed it, too, and how can you beat that?! It lives up to some extent – it reads like The Exorcism meets The Virgin Suicides directed by John Hughes. Scary, but not, but you can see the rotted everything there at the surface, bubbling over. And you try to contain it, but can’t. That’s the part that scares me the most – you have no control. Not over the ghosts in your head. Not if they’re that strong. But I wasn’t as carried away with the book as a whole as I was by the scary mind-full-ness of the thing. I wondered if King had blurbed it partly because William Morrow was who first launched his Dark Tower stories and I know he appreciates the firm. Whatever the case, I couldn’t give it more 3 of 5 stars.

So that’s all the books I’ve managed. I’m halfway through the second Dark Tower book (speak of the devil), and Thirteenth Tale, and I started It before I went to the movie. (Which was AMAZING, you guys! Like, pushing myself backwards through my chair, scream-laughing the entire time.)

And all that scary is why I’ve been reading so many romances and YA-drama books right before bedtime – so I can shake some of the scary from my brain!

But you shouldn’t. You should read more so you can give me good recs so we can keep the RIP party rollin’! Hit me up with your faves!

RIP, Katie.

September 6, 2017

No, I haven’t keeled over from the anxiety. At least…not yet. I’m trying to keep that from happening by investing in some bookish distractions. My book buddy, the lovely Andi, filled me in on RIP XII: Readers Imbibing Peril! Drown your real-life worries in scary stories; chase thrillers that follow you into your dreams; lose your mind in suspense so good it may or may not have you sneaking a page or two between clients. (Ahem.)

Sign-ups and more details can be found here:

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I won’t be able to devote myself entirely to scary stories – Bee, who will be forced to hold my hand when I can’t sleep, is bodyblocking the very idea. I’ll have to read something a little more soothing as I’m snuggled in bed. But the RIP-roaring Read-along lasts all through September and October, so I’m sure I’ll still be able to read quite a few.

After deciding to jump into the RIP XII pool, even though the party had already started, I started digging through my bookshelves, deciding what would go into my stacks. I wasn’t purposefully looking for scary reads when I went to the library, but you’d never know it from looking at my stack!

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My library stack has short stories; YA fantasy (uh, that one came in a subscription box); the new Jeff Vandermeer (if you haven’t read the Southern X trilogy, GET ON IT!!) that I was squeeing over when I saw I could have it; a few thrillers that could be boiler-plate, could be decent; and a Heather Gudenkauf, who isn’t my favorite, but keeps me reading until I figure out the whodunnit at the very end.

Then I started pulling out some books that I know would fit the theme very nicely, because I’ve already read them. Already read them…and wouldn’t mind reading them again. And YOU should probably read them, too.

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King’s Dark Tower is always on my To-Read list, but especially since my sister gave me the. coolest. DT map for my birthday. I challenge any Dark Tower fan to see it and not want to visit the ka-tet again. Thirteenth Tale is a favorite comfort read. It is back in theaters. The Last Policeman has been rattling around in my mind for awhile, so I knew I would have to re-read it soon. I just re-read Chaneysville earlier this year. Harry Quebert was a great read and I don’t remember the who and why of it, so it’ll be practically fresh! Ha.

And then there are the books I want to read, but don’t have. At least not at the moment. Tananarive Due is so high up my To Read list, it’s not even funny. I need to get my hands back on The Good House. Tiffany Jackson’s Allegedly is a bit of a different fit for the theme, but I think it counts and that’s all that matters. And I’ve heard good things about Ausma Zehenet Khan’s The Unquiet Dead.

So many books! So little time! And even littler time to worry about hurricanes, which is just what I wanted.

Book Reviews: The Catch-up Post.

July 20, 2017

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged, but it’s been even longer since I’ve reviewed the books I’ve been reading. And since I’ve busted through my slump (again), I’m still about four books behind pace for my goal of 31 books this month.

Because I have so many books left unreviewed, I’m going to pick and choose some to review, and just list the rest. That way we’ll have a clean slate for next time, and if you want to know more, you can ask about particular titles down in the comments. Ta da!

Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, by Roxane Gay (2017, HarperCollins, 320 pages, ebook). Ms. Gay is one of the authors I will pre-order, no matter how broke, no matter the topic, no matter whether I am physically able to even read at that moment. She speaks nothing but truth, and her truth slays. Such was the case with Hunger, which I knew explored Gay’s lifelong battle with eating disorders, but because I knew I was going to read the memoir, I didn’t delve deeper than that in the pre-released hype. So I was unprepared for the story beneath the story: that much of Gay’s eating disorder stemmed from being gang-raped at a very young age. I knew Gay had been raped; I was not aware of the circumstances. It was a very difficult book to read, because of how Gay kept laying the words down one after another, surgically revealing layer after layer after layer of history and fact and feeling. She made it clear it was not to exorcise anything; she was not a survivor, but a victim, unwilling to mitigate one mili-measurement of blame that so righteously belongs at the feet of her abusers. Still: when a book hits close to home, the words are hard to read. At the time, I rated the book as a 4-star read because Gay jumped around when I wanted her to shine her light more brightly into a corner I was still examining, and because for me, as a reader, being compelled to read factors in to my rating system. This book I had to put down because so. many. ghosts. Still…Roxane Gay slays dragons, you guys. And that deserves fair princesses in all kinds of guises. Including the 5 of 5 stars variety.

The Nest, by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney (2016, Ecco, 368 pages, library book). 2 1/2 of 5 stars.

A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, by Xiaolu Guo (2007, Nan E. Talese, 283 pages, library eloan). For my READ HARDER romance challenge! 2 of 5 stars.

The Other, by Thomas Tryon (1971, Alfred A. Knopf, 280 pages, eloan). Okay, you guys, I get why this horror story was so influential. You can see how King and everyone else drew inspiration. And not only horror authors, but Hollywood and even those writing the beautiful scores that set the mood for the movies and play in my head while I’m reading. But still…as much as I loved the mood and shiftiness, the suspense that reminded me of books like Henry James’ The Turning of the Screw, I didn’t like the stuffiness that accompanied it, the language that kept pulling me out, which sounded more like Knowles’ A Separate Peace. It sounded dated. Antiquated. And…meh. 2 of 5 stars.

The Inexplicable Logic of My Life, by Benjamin Alire Saenz (2017, Clarion, 452 pages, library eloan). Good YA book that discusses adoption, LGBTQIA+ issues, and is written by a POC. 3 of 5 stars.

Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon (1991, Dell, 850 pages, paperback). Re-read! But still 5 of 5 stars.

Whatever You Do, Don’t Run: True Tales of a Botswana Safari Guide, by Peter Allison (2007, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 243 pages, ebook). Re-read. 3 of 5 stars.

Don’t Turn Around: A Safari Guide’s Encounters with Ravenous Lions, Stampeding Elephants, and Lovesick Rhinos, by Peter Allison (2009, Nicholas Brealey Publishing, 240 pages, ebook). Re-read. 3 of 5 stars.

Loving Day, by Mat Johnson (2015, Spiegel & Grau, 287 pages, ebook). I picked this up as a Deal of the Day and didn’t quite know what to make of it at first. The voice was catchy, like falling into a David Bradley novel, and the subject would bounce back and forth between nerdtastic and straight up whacked. I loved the way ghosts played with the racial identity fumbling and searching. I loved the dark humor. I did not like how the second half of the book felt less structured and more of a plot-of-convenience. It was a book I longed to read with my New Black Aesthetic class back in college. 4 of 5 stars.

All Grown Up, by Jami Attenberg (2017, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 197 pages, library book). I liked Attenberg’s The Middlesteins alright, and even with my criticisms I could see the author had a whipsmart handle on psychology and knew how to wield her knowledge like a weapon. All the same, if I had know All Grown Up was going to be a novella told in second-person quasi-prose, philosophizing on everything I think about when I’m not supposed to be thinking. It’s a study in an almost-40-year-old woman’s narrative. Or, at least, of a kind. 4 of 5 stars.

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?, by Alyssa Mastromonaco (2017, Twelve, 244 pages, library book). I’d seen this book around and was intrigued at what a higher-up female political operative could tell me about the behind-the-scenes happenings of one of my favorite presidents – and how much would it differ from what I’ve learned from The West Wing? (Answer: Not a lot, and almost entirely, all at the same time.) I wish the book had been structured into tighter chapters with narrower focus, because as it stood, I found the dull parts hard to avoid, but the good bits hilariously entertaining and informative. It was just hard to predict what would fall where. It was a lovely trip down memory lane, making me pine for President Obama’s reign to return and save us all. 3 of 5 stars.

A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty, by Joshilyn Jackson (2012, Grand Central Publishing, 322, eloan). 2 of 5 stars.

We Are Unprepared, by Meg Little Reilly (2016, Mira, 362 pages, used paperback). 1 of 5 stars. (But good to laugh at, sort of like Zoo, if you like to laugh at unintentionally funny environmental thrillers.

Boy, 9, Missing, by Nic Joseph (2016, Sourcebooks Landmark, 329 pages, library book). 2 of 5 stars.

It’s Fine By Me, by Per Peterson (2012, Greywolf Press, 199 pages, eloan). 2 of 5 stars. [Sidenote: I adore Graywolf Press – they’re one of my favorites and just seeing their imprint can sway me to pick up a book – and I usually love reading books in translation, so I think this might just have been a right book, wrong time situation.]

Alphabet, by Kathy Page (2005, George Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 264 pages, eloan). 2 of 5 stars.

Lily and the Octopus, by Steven Rowley (2016, Simon & Schuster, 307 pages, eloan). There was a lot of eye-rolling involved. And so you know – I love a good dog story. I loved Marley & Me (uh…right until a certain chapter about a certain clearing at the end of a certain path). I loved Art of Racing in the Rain even more! I thought Lily was going to be an odd sort of mishmash of the two. But oh no. The magical realism felt forced. The popular acclaim promised via stickers all over the (digital) cover raised expectations that were never met. Lily? Not my favorite pet. It’s possible that I’m jaded by my ex-boyfriend’s demon dog who also happened to be a dachshund. More likely it’s that the author jumped from subject to subject and “cute” anecdote to another without properly explaining the last one so’s you could understand what the heck really happened. I think Rowley was trying to do too much, riffing and trilling and soloing before he had laid down a proper foundation. Or maybe that’s just the way it read to me. But – at least I didn’t cry? 1 of 5 stars.

What You Don’t Know, by JoAnn Chaney (2017, Mantle, 384 pages, eloan). 2 of 5 stars.

Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places, by Colin Dickey (2016, Viking, 320 pages, eloan). I love ghost stories…in the daytime. They scare the shit outta me after sunset! Dickey’s selection of cities, businesses, houses, unusual locations, and other places was varied, well researched, and entirely believable – and that’s coming from someone who vacillates between being scared to not believe, and wanting furiously to believe if only to prove there’s something more after this is all over. Dickey’s writing is professional and entertaining – not an easy feat to maintain for so long a book. It’s not quirky enough to earn the title of cult classic, but conversational enough to pull in a varied audience. It’ll make a great gift for the believer and non-believer alike – and the hardcover is pretty enough for coffee table display. 4 of 5 stars.

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future, by A.S. King (2014, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 307 pages, eloan). 2 of 5 stars.

Still Life with Tornado, by A.S. King (2016, Dutton Books for Young Readers, 295 pages, eloan). King is one of my favorite contemporary Young Adult authors: she’s edgy and whipsmart. She doesn’t talk down to her readers, but isn’t afraid to ask them to think around corners or tackle magical realism or any other device or topic that might be entirely new (or a little intimidating, even if the reader is 38). So I wasn’t surprised that Still Life was asking me to believe two, three, four different versions of our protag were walking the city at the same time, visiting our protag’s home and staying for dinner with the family without being noticed. 10-year-old Sarah joins Sarah at the dinner table and no one notices? Um…okay. It was weird at first, and I wasn’t sure that I liked it, but as the narrative flipped between past and present, and more clues were revealed and – even more so – after I had finished the book and digested it bit by bit, piece by piece, I realized how much more transformative the reading experience was. I wouldn’t say I loved the book; I certainly wouldn’t say it’s a reading experience for just anyone. But it was different. It was remarkable. And for someone who reads as much as I do, being surprised by a book – especially an umpteenth book by the same writer you’ve read before – is worth noting, indeed. 4 of 5 stars.

There are more – so many more! – but let’s leave some for next week, shall we? God, I love when I actually get books read! BOOM!

5 for Friday.

July 14, 2017

Good gracious – is it really Friday? I can’t believe this week sped by so fast. Things happened.

1. Postcards for the girls arrived from Auntie Kim’s stay in Prince Edward island. They were stunning; gorgeous pictures dotted the front and Kim described such happy adventures…I was seriously tempted to steal them. In fact, I was given the idea because Kim told Bee not to let me do it! I put them down on the kitchen table for the girls to find…but I maybe placed them on the corner quite close to my bedroom door. With an idea that they might accidentally fly in through the doorway later. Then the next day my own postcard arrived! And it was a postcard packet of tea! Which means it was lovely and descriptive and delicious! I immediately placed the girls’ postcards on their placemats. All was well.

2. Speaking of Auntie Kim, this arrived in the mail this week, too:

Anne Hair

All I’m gonna say is you should maybe expect to see it again this summer when Kim is here. Mwa ha ha!

3. I told a cute story on Facebook this week, and it could be its own post, but I have another story that relates to it, so I need to re-tell it.

Bee has been enjoying quite a few sleepovers with Mama this summer. We made the delightful discovery that she’s outgrown her kicking and sleeping-sideways phase, and now can go an entire night on the other side of the bed better than anyone I’ve shared a room with. (Yes, that includes 4 different college roommates, and Auntie Kim, with the exception of Audra, my roommate junior year – she was gloriously quiet and considerate and a good egg.) Anywho, George, Bee’s pet giraffe who serves as her protector, was in my room still, and so I told Bee that I had slept with him the night before while she was at her Dad’s house.

Bee: Moooooom!!!!
Me: But I had bad dreams!

And then that night after work I went looking for George so I could take a playful picture and send it to Bee, for we are a playful family.

Bee: Aw, man! You found him?!
Me: Yeah, he fell under the bed, waaaaay under, behind some boxes, and inside a bag! Silly George!

George

And then I slept with George again. Because July is long.

4. So the story that relates: Bee came home last night and rushed into the house. “You better not have hidden George!” I teased. Well – half-teased. Bee was only staying for dinner, and then I was on my own to fend against bad dreams and PTSD. Bee kinda did the deer in the headlights thing, so I told her to go find him. “But he’s mine!” she whined. I checked for packages as we were having The Great George Debate, and thank god my Prime Day packages arrived. Know what my big splurge was? A gallon of white Elmer’s Glue! Bee has been the Glorious Slime Master this summer, so much so that I’ve refused to spend any more money on it, because glue and shaving foam adds up! (We have borax for years, thanks to Uncle Kene.) Bee has been pouring all of her allowance into the necessary items, and I lucked into my glue purchase for just $8! I have never gotten such hugs. And then George turned up pretty quickly. Huzzah for Prime Deals!

5. My cousin Hillary is reading the Dark Tower series with me and I AM SO EXCITED!! She made it six chapter in during her commute yesterday, and I didn’t get a chance to talk to her last night (the first night in a long time we haven’t chatted – I love reconnecting with cousins!), so I’m curious to see if she made it through to Tull yet. I forget exactly when the movie comes out, but I think it’s when I’m back home. I know the movie conflates the first couple books and I don’t know if Hill can make it that far, but by golly, I’m going to use every trick in my bag to try to get her there. Because adding her and Em to our movie adventure would make it so much more fun! And if I can’t bully my baby sister into reading my favorite book of all time, then I’m glad I can make someone else read it! Huzzah! And Harrumph!

And that’s just a small slice (mmm…pie) of my week. Here’s hoping for a wild and fun weekend you guys!