Book Tag – Goodreads

I snagged this book tag from Kate over at Read, Eat, Retreat! 🙂

What was the last book you marked as read?

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Matchless, A Christmas Story (Gregory Maguire) – I’m not usually a fan of Gregory Maguire, but this retelling of The Little Matchgirl was very sweet and not too depressing. 😉 I’d recommend it as a quick Christmas-y read.

What are you currently reading?

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The Long Earth (Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter) – This sci-fi is an interesting take on what would happen if humans discovered a way to step between alternate universes. I’m really enjoying it so far!

What was the last book you marked as ‘to read’?

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Dear Fahrenheit 451: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Break Up Notes to the Books in Her Life (Annie Spence) – As a bibliophile, I guess it’s completely natural for me to love books about books. 🙂 This one is a collection of love letters and break up notes from the author to books she either can’t live without or can’t wait to get rid of. Sounds fun!

Do you use the star rating system?
Yep! I know some people don’t like it, but I find it very useful.

Are you doing the 2017 Reading Challenge?
Yep! I’ve decided to run the Goodreads Challenge and the 2017 PopSugar Reading Challenge simultaneously. I’m attempting to read at least 60 books, while completing as many of the categories from PopSugar as I can. I’m not doing too badly either. 49 books down so far and 30 categories completed!

Do you have a wishlist?
No, my To-Read list is wishlist enough. 😉

Who are your favourite authors?
Hm…I’m always bad at this question. Currently I love Laini Taylor (Strange the Dreamer is probably my favorite book of the year so far). I also love Neil Gaiman and John Green. Joseph Fink & Jeffery Cranor from Welcome to Night Vale are also great!

Have you joined any groups?
I’ve meandered my way through a few groups. My current ones are:

Top 5 Wednesday
Cozy Mysteries
Friends of the Apparating Library Book Club
EVERYONE Has Read This But Me
Ultimate Popsugar Reading Challenge

How many Goodreads shelves do you have?
36 outside of the regular ‘Read’, ‘Currently Reading’, ‘To Read’, and ‘Did Not Finish’ shelves.

I tag…
Kristen from The Brunette Bookworm Blog!


I also tag anyone else who wants to do this one! Please link your post in the comments so I can check it out! 😀

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Book Review – Shadows At The Fair

Book: Shadows At The Fair (Book 1 – Antique Print Mysteries) – Author: Lea Wait

Genre: Fiction, Cozy Mysteries

Description from Goodreads:

Ignorance is bliss for Maggie Summer, proprietor of Shadow Antiques, when she arrives at the prestigious Rensselaer County Spring Antiques Fair. She won’t remain ignorant of the suspicious mortality rate among fellow antiques dealers. With its riveting behind-the-scenes glimpse of antiques shows and revealing data on antique-print values, “Shadows At The Fair” introduces a captivating new series that unveils the powerful mysteries of antique prints, as it entertains.

My Review:

If you’ve read my blog before, then you are likely aware of my favorite guilty reading pleasure: Cozy Mysteries. I don’t know why I like them. Sure, I’m a huge fan of mysteries in general, but the heroines of cozy mysteries tend to really annoy me. They often hide evidence from the police, flat out lie to protect people they aren’t even sure are innocent, put themselves in REALLY stupid situations, and fall in love at the drop of the hat (usually with the murderer). Like I said, most of them drive me nuts…but I love them anyway. ::shrugs::

Shadows at the Fair was an impulse grab at the library that turned out to be a great read. I really enjoyed this one, mostly because I actually really liked the main character, Maggie. She almost reminded me of myself; probably because we are close in age and both like antiques, but she seemed to have a similar mindset to me as well.

None of the characters were super well fleshed out, but considering the length and genre of the book, the author did a nice job giving the reader enough information to work with without being overwhelming. The relationships were a little confusing, but exactly the right amount of complicated for a mystery. We learn about them as Maggie learns about them, a bit here and a bit there, so we ourselves are piecing together the puzzle alongside our heroine.

The mystery turned out really interesting too. I didn’t actually guess who the murder was until close to the end and I had no idea WHY they were killing people until they explained it to Maggie. I always love it when the author can surprise me!

The romance (because there is ALWAYS a romance) was rather downplayed in this book. I liked that. It was nice that Maggie didn’t just jump into a romance, especially with a suspect. Considering her backstory, it made perfect sense that she would want to get to know a man before deciding he was the one for her. Logic isn’t usually close at hand for cozy mystery romances, so it was a nice change. 😉

The only thing that bothered me about this book was the repeated use of the word “retarded” and the complete dismissal most of the characters had about mentally challenged people. I can get what the author was trying to do (when you read it in context, it KIND of makes sense) but the fact that everyone except Maggie just shrugged and said “you know those kind of people are unpredictable” really, REALLY bugged me. Considering the book isn’t that old (published in 2002), I would have expected a few more open-minded people.

Overall, this was a nice, quick read. I’d recommend it for anyone looking for a fun, easy mystery. I’ll likely pick up the next in the series the next time I’m at the library. 🙂

Similar Book(s):

Night of the Living Deed – E.J. Copperman

Crewel World – Monica Ferris

Like Cozy Mysteries? Want more suggestions? Check out this Cozy Mysteries Group on Goodreads!

 

Library Haul – I Never Just Stick to the List!

Well, I’m out of projects at work, so I was taking a break from my back-up editing and perusing Goodreads when I stumbled upon a book called ‘The Long Earth’. Sounded intriguing, so I decided to make a trip up the street to the local library to grab it and one other book that I’d been looking at a few days ago. Then this happened…

The Long Earth (Terry Pratchett & Stephen Baxter)

thelongearthNORMALLY, WHEN THERE WAS NOTHING TO DO, HE LISTENED TO THE SILENCE. The Silence was very faint here. Almost drowned out by the sounds of the mundane world. Did people in this polished building understand how noisy it was? The roar of air conditioners and computer fans, the susurration of many voices heard but not decipherable…. This was the office of the transEarth Institute, an arm of the Black Corporation. The faceless office, all plasterboard and chrome, was dominated by a huge logo, a chesspiece knight. This wasn’t Joshua’s world. None of it was his world. In fact, when you got right down to it, he didn’t have a world; he had all of them. I seem to be on a sci-fi kick lately and, though I haven’t been super fond of my attempts at the DiscWorld series, Terry Pratchett’s storylines always sound so intriguing that I thought I’d give him another chance.

Borne (Jeff VanderMeer)

borneIn Borne, a young woman named Rachel survives as a scavenger in a ruined city half destroyed by drought and conflict. The city is dangerous, littered with discarded experiments from the Company—a biotech firm now derelict—and punished by the unpredictable predations of a giant bear. Rachel ekes out an existence in the shelter of a run-down sanctuary she shares with her partner, Wick, who deals his own homegrown psychoactive biotech. One day, Rachel finds Borne during a scavenging mission and takes him home. Borne as salvage is little more than a green lump—plant or animal?—but exudes a strange charisma. Borne, learning to speak, learning about the world, is fun to be with, and in a world so broken that innocence is a precious thing. But as Borne grows, he begins to threaten the balance of power in the city and to put the security of her sanctuary with Wick at risk. For the Company, it seems, may not be truly dead, and new enemies are creeping in. I don’t normally enjoy dystopians, but I keep coming back to this one on Goodreads. I’m not sure why, but I figure I’ll go with my gut and try it out.

Shadows at the Fair (Lea Wait)

shadowsatthefairIgnorance is truly bliss for recently widowed Maggie Summer, owner of Shadows Antiques, when she arrives at the prestigious Rensselaer County Spring Antiques Fair. Sadly, she won’t remain ignorant of the suspiciously high mortality rate among her fellow antiques dealers for long. Rumors are everywhere. The most recent victim, John Smithson, died of poison at a show just last week, and many of the same dealers are here at Rensselaer. They make the identical circuit year after year, so they know each other well. Or do they? The opening night wine has hardly stopped flowing when death claims another victim. Maggie will still sell a few antique prints, but she’ll spend most of her time looking for a killer and trying to save a vulnerable young friend. Will Maggie herself become a potential victim? The answer may be in one of Maggie’s prints, but she has hundreds in her booth. Where should she begin? I do so love my guilty pleasure cozy mysteries. I passed by this one three times while looking for my other books and decided to just go for it. 🙂

Matchless (Gregory Maguire)

matchlessWith ‘Matchless’, Gregory Maguire has reinvented the Hans Christian Andersen classic ‘The Little Match Girl’ for a new time and new audiences. Originally asked by National Public Radio to write an original story with a Christmas theme, the New York Times bestselling author of ‘Wicked’ and ‘A Lion Among Men’ was once again inspired by the fairy tales we all loved in childhood—and he composed a poignant and enchanting tale of transcendence. A lovely and beautifully illustrated gift, ‘Matchless’ places Andersen’s pitiful waif in the august company of Maguire’s previously re-imagined Snow White (Mirror, Mirror), Cinderella (Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister), and, of course, the Wicked Witch and other denizens of Oz. I’m not sure what caught my eye about this book, maybe it was the really bright green cover sitting on the end of it’s shelf or maybe it was the author’s name (he always uses that very distinct font). I don’t really like Gregory Maguire; ‘Wicked’ was disappointing and I barely got started on ‘Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister’ before I DNF’d it. But I really, really WANT to like Gregory Maguire, so I keep trying anyway. Sigh.

And from my own shelf…

I’m actually currently in the middle of another book, which has been quite fun so far. Guess it’ll be on hold for a bit now. 😉

Off To Be The Wizard (Scott Meyer)

offtobethewizardMartin Banks is just a normal guy who has made an abnormal discovery: he can manipulate reality, thanks to reality being nothing more than a computer program. With every use of this ability, though, Martin finds his little “tweaks” have not escaped notice. Rather than face prosecution, he decides instead to travel back in time to the Middle Ages and pose as a wizard. An American hacker in King Arthur’s court, Martin must now train to become a full-fledged master of his powers, discover the truth behind the ancient wizard Merlin… and not, y’know, die or anything. I bought this one because it just sounded hilarious. I kind of have a thing about modern people getting stuck in the past (and vice versa); when done right, they can be really entertaining stories. I’m about halfway on this one and it has been a blast so far. I’ll be honest, the main character is a little annoying, but he’s growing on me. And I think there might be a “wizard” battle on the horizon!


So what’s on your To-Read List?

Book Review – Haunted Hikes

Book: Haunted Hikes – Author: Andrea Lankford

Genre: Non-Fiction, Lore, National Parks

Description from Goodreads:

20170831_201207Ghosts! Curses! Hoaxes! Unsolved mysteries! Paranormal events! Take a walk on the creepy side of North America’s National Parks! Andrea Lankford, a 12-year veteran ranger with the National Park Service, has written a thoroughly investigated yet often tongue-in-cheek guidebook that takes the reader to the scariest, most mysterious places inside North America’s National Parks.

My Review:

Always a fan of mystery and true-life spookiness, I really enjoyed this book. The author has a writing style that lends itself to humor, while maintaining the appropriate level of respect for the real people and events described in the tales.

There’s a little bit for everyone in this book. Though mostly ghost related, there are also stories about aliens, monsters, curses, and all sorts of other supernatural occurrences. There’s even a little pirate treasure thrown in for fun. 🙂

Hearing the local legends and history of each park was very interesting. You could tell that the author used to be a ranger herself; each story felt like a personal history lesson, the kind you might get if you were actually sitting in the park with the rangers, listening to them tell their stories.

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Along with being as detailed as possible with the accounts of the haunting tales, the author also included a map of each trail, along with pertinent information, such as level of difficulty, best time of the year to go, and trail access information.

This was an interesting little guide, fun for even those of us who hate hiking. 😉 Each tale is relatively short, which makes them easy to read in between other books or when you just don’t have the attention span to read a long novel. And, let’s face it, who doesn’t love a bit of lore?

Similar Book(s):

Death in Yellowstone – Lee H. Whittlesey

Ranger Confidential – Andrea Lankford

 

 

Eclipse 2017 – The Wrath of Ra

So, if you live in the US, you obviously know there was an insanely awesome eclipse on Monday. Our area had around 90% coverage, so not a total eclipse, but still pretty good!

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We were a LITTLE panicked about a week earlier, because we got one of those dreaded emails from Amazon letting us know that the glasses we had purchased might not actually be safe to use (thanks for the advanced notice, sigh). But my boss persevered and found us replacements just in time. 🙂

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Knowing that this was my first ever eclipse (and since I’m the science geek of the office), my super-amazing boss also let me spend almost two hours outside so that I could experience as much of it as possible! It was completely mind blowing and something that truly gives you a appreciation for the forces in our universe. I’m ecstatic that I can finally check that one off the bucket list.

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Let me hear YOUR eclipse stories! Do you live near the path of totality? Were you able to watch any of it? Did you see any animals doing weird things? Did you get sunburn (like me, lol)?

 

Book Review – Furthermore

Book: Furthermore – Author: Tahereh Mafi

Genre: Middle Grade/Childrens, Fantasy

Description from Goodreads:

Alice Alexis Queensmeadow 12 rates three things most important: Mother, who wouldn’t miss her; magic and color, which seem to elude her; and Father, who always loved her. Father disappeared from Ferenwood with only a ruler, almost three years ago. But she will have to travel through the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore, where down can be up, paper is alive, and left can be both right and very, very wrong. Her only companion is Oliver whose own magic is based in lies and deceit. Alice must first find herself—and hold fast to the magic of love in the face of loss.

My Review:

This was a cute, quick read.  I LOVED the author’s style of writing. It’s fun, quirky, and, at times, immensely beautiful. I mean: “Laughter was a silk that would soften even the roughest moments.” Isn’t that one of the loveliest sentences you’ve ever read?

Her world building is also very good. The descriptions of Ferenwood & Furthermore, their history and people, are all really brilliant. She doesn’t go TOO much into the background of the characters, other than Alice, but she does give all the info needed for the story. Which is really the best option in a kid’s book, I suppose, though I personally love hearing the backgrounds.

It DID take me a while to get into the story on this one. I’m not sure why, since I liked the writing so much and the premise sounded interesting, but the first couple of “chapters” seemed to really drag. Once Alice and Ollie finally made it to Furthermore, though, the action picked up quite a bit.

I was also confused for quite a lot of the book, which I think was kind of done on purpose. This book really reads like Alice in Wonderland (yes, Tahereh, we get the reference 😉 ), with strange places and dangers coming from completely out of the blue. I didn’t really follow all of it, but it was extremely imaginative and I think would hold a middle grade kid’s attention much better than something more bland and complex.

Similar Book(s):

Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles – Julie Andrews Edwards

Book Tag – Unpopular Opinions

So, I wasn’t actually tagged to do this, but I LOVE the concept behind it, so I’m totally stealing it. 😉 (Thanks Kristen!) You can view the original video for the tag here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NYfgq8HgDc0&t=367s

QUESTIONS:

1. A popular book or series that you didn’t like:

18490I actually have quite a few options for this category, but we’ll go with a classic: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. (*SPOILERS*) This is a story about a man who decides to play God and create life, only to completely panic when he actually succeeds. His creation, understandably upset by his Father thinking he’s a freak, runs away and hides in some random people’s house. When THEY get understandably upset that a stranger has been living in their house spying on them, he decides that all people are evil and he’s just going to kill everybody. Pappa Frankenstein proceeds to blame every problem in his life on someone else and refuses to acknowledge what’s really happening, leading to the deaths of most of the people he cares about. — I really couldn’t stand this book. Dr. Frankenstein is one of the most self-centered, whiny, egotistical, and obtuse characters I’ve ever had to read about. By the end, I was rooting for the Monster. I have no idea why this story is so beloved.

2. A popular book or series that everyone else seems to hate but you love:

Oh, this one is way harder. It has to be POPULAR? Hmm…I’m going to go with the Weird West Tales series by Mike Resnick. The overall Goodreads scores for the books are solidly in the mid-3 range, but there are a ton of individual reviews that are terrible. I personally love the series, but then I also like the movie Wild Wild West. 😉

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3. A love triangle where the main character ended up with the person you did NOT want them to end up with OR an OTP that you don’t like:

harrylunaOk, I blame the Harry Potter fanfic for this one, but I’m totally a Harry/Luna (or Harry/Draco, but that’s a bit more farfetched considering that they were super-crazy antagonists in the original stories). Ginny (from the books) was pretty great, but I just love Luna and I think they would have made a great couple. Plus, falling for his sister’s best friend, a girl who’s had a crush on him forever…it’s a tiny bit cliched, don’t you think?

4. A popular book Genre that you hardly reach for

Romance – I’m really not a romance fan. I do occasionally still read them, but more the cozy or fun love stories, like The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George or The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion. The ones that are completely focused on the relationship or full of flowery passion…not my cup of tea.

5. A popular or beloved character that you do not like:

I know I’m supposed to support the ladies, but: Katniss, Tris, & Bella. I can’t stand ANY of them. Bella is kind of understandable, since her story is a romance (see above 😉 ) and she seems to spend most of it needing rescue (at least during what I got myself to watch). And I know Tris & Katniss are SUPPOSED to be flawed. “That’s what makes them such great characters. They are REAL!” Whatever. I don’t like reading about unlikable people and these girls just seem to irritate me more than inspire me.

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6. A popular author that you can’t seem to get into:

terrypratchettTerry Pratchett – Sorry Pratchett fans, I know I’m supposed to love this author, but ::shrugs:: I did like Going Postal ok and Good Omens, his match-up with Neil Gaiman, was kind of fun, but I just have no interest in trying to read more if his work.

7. A popular book trope that you’re tired of seeing. (examples “lost princess”, corrupt ruler, love triangles, etc.):

The “distracted by love” trope. Does this count as a trope? It seems to be in virtually every single book I read with a female protagonist. Why do the guys get to be completely die hard about saving the world, but the girls all end up getting distracted by a man? Seriously, EVERYONE IS ABOUT TO DIE…maybe focus on that instead of whether or not that dude you just met thinks you’re pretty.

8. A popular series that you have no interest in reading:

Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin. I like watching epic fantasies, but reading them has always been hard for me. Too many twists and turns, too many complex connections between the characters. I have trouble keeping everything straight.

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9. The saying goes: “The book is always better than the movie,” but what movie or TV show adaptation do you prefer more than the book?

lotrbookAnd speaking of epic fantasies…Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein. Oh man, have you tried to actually read these books? I was doing ok, even with the really verbose dialogue and never-ending descriptions, until they all decided to stop FOR A MONTH to party with a guy who lives in a tree when they were SUPPOSED to be ridding the world of the Ultimate Evil. I got so angry with all of them that I couldn’t read anymore. I know the fans of the books love Tom Bombadil and were really cranky that he wasn’t in the movies, but seriously, what was up with that part?!?


How about you guys? What are some of your Unpopular Opinions?