Mini-Reviews – Books for Bibliophiles

Hey all! I don’t really feel like doing a full review today, so instead I’m going to do some mini-reviews for Books for Bibliophiles. 🙂

Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian’s Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life (Annie Spence)

dearfahrenheit451Description from Goodreads: Librarians spend their lives weeding–not weeds but books! Books that have reached the end of their shelf life, both literally and figuratively. They remove the books that patrons no longer check out. And they put back the books they treasure. Annie Spence, who has a decade of experience as a Midwestern librarian, does this not only at her Michigan library but also at home, for her neighbors, at cocktail parties—everywhere. In Dear Fahrenheit 451, she addresses those books directly. We read her love letters to The Goldfinch and Matilda, as well as her snarky break-ups with Fifty Shades of Grey and Dear John. Her notes to The Virgin Suicides and The Time Traveler’s Wife feel like classics, sure to strike a powerful chord with readers. Through the lens of the books in her life, Annie comments on everything from women’s psychology to gay culture to health to poverty to childhood aspirations.

My Review: I loved this book so much that I plan to purchase it as a reference book. The letters were funny and poignant, and the lists of “what to read when you don’t know what to read” were spot on. I highly recommend this for any bibliophile.

The Shelf: From LEQ to LES: Adventures in Extreme Reading (Phyllis Rose)

theshelfDescription from Goodreads: Can you have an Extreme Adventure in a library? Phyllis Rose casts herself into the wilds of an Upper East Side lending library in an effort to do just that. Hoping to explore the “real ground of literature,” she reads her way through a somewhat randomly chosen shelf of fiction, from LEQ to LES.

The shelf has everything Rose could wish for—a classic she has not read, a remarkable variety of authors, and a range of literary styles. The early nineteenth-century Russian classic A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Lermontov is spine by spine with The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. Stories of French Canadian farmers sit beside those about aristocratic Austrians. California detective novels abut a picaresque novel from the seventeenth century. There are several novels by a wonderful, funny, contemporary novelist who has turned to raising dogs because of the tepid response to her work.

In The Shelf, Rose investigates the books on her shelf with exuberance, candor, and wit while pondering the many questions her experiment raises and measuring her discoveries against her own inner shelf—those texts that accompany us through life. “Fairly sure that no one in the history of the world has read exactly this series of novels,” she sustains a sense of excitement as she creates a refreshingly original and generous portrait of the literary enterprise.

My Review: I dare you to tell anyone who is NOT a bibliophile that you are reading a non-fiction book about a lady who decided to read a random shelf of books in her library, and not have them look at you like you’ve grown a second head. To be fair, it DOES sound a bit crazy, but this book was actually very interesting. Rose not only describes the books, but the world in which they were written and the authors themselves. It was pretty fascinating…but also spoiler-y, so don’t read the sections about books in your TBR pile. 😉

84, Charing Cross Road (Helene Hanff)

84CharingCrossRdDescription from Goodreads: This charming classic love story, first published in 1970, brings together twenty years of correspondence between Helene Hanff, at the time, a freelance writer living in New York City, and a used-book dealer in London at 84, Charing Cross Road. Through the years, though never meeting and separated both geographically and culturally, they share a winsome, sentimental friendship based on their common love for books. Their relationship, captured so acutely in these letters, is one that has touched the hearts of thousands of readers around the world.

My Review: This really was a charming little book. Reading correspondence between a book seller and a reader doesn’t SOUND like it would be interesting, but it really was. It was also short, so it wouldn’t kill you to give it a try, now would it? 😉

The Phantom Tollbooth (Norton Juster)

PhantomTollboothDescription from Goodreads: For Milo, everything’s a bore. When a tollbooth mysteriously appears in his room, he drives through only because he’s got nothing better to do. But on the other side, things seem different. Milo visits the Island of Conclusions (you get there by jumping), learns about time from a ticking watchdog named Tock, and even embarks on a quest to rescue Rhyme and Reason! Somewhere along the way, Milo realizes something astonishing. Life is far from dull. In fact, it’s exciting beyond his wildest dreams…

My Review: Yes, this is a kid’s book. Yes, it’s not really about books. But it IS for lovers of language. This was a fun little adventure book and I think it would be a good introduction to word-play for children.


Read any good books-about-books lately? Post about them here! I’m always looking for suggestions!

 

 

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T5W – Because Less Known Doesn’t Mean Less Good

Today’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is: Hidden Gems in Your Favorite Genre

Now, I don’t know that I have a favorite genre per se, so I’m going to tweak this a bit and do Hidden Gems in SOME of My Favorite Genres (one book for each genre).

Cozy Mystery

Cozy Mysteries are my favorite bookish guilty pleasure. I’m not sure why I like them so much, especially considering the main characters usually really annoy me. 😉 But I do. I love them SO MUCH! They are what I reach for when I’ve had a really stressful day and just don’t want to think anymore.

CWM_750x600-300x184My current favorite Cozy Mystery series is the Creative Woman Mysteries series published by Annie’s. The series follows Shannon, who inherits her grandmother’s estate and craft business. The first mystery she solves involves part of her inheritance, but she ends up playing the amateur detective for all sorts of mysteries throughout the series. Though she ends up falling into a few of the habits that really annoy me with Cozies (TELL THE COPS WHEN YOU FIND EVIDENCE), she’s actually a pretty likable character who is usually just trying help her friends out of trouble.

Non-Fiction

I honestly used to never read non-fiction books. I’m not sure why, maybe it came from having enough of reality and wanting my reading time to be an escape. But the last couple of years, I’ve been giving them another go.

furiouslyhappy.jpgMy current favorite Non-Fiction book is Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. I LOVE Jenny Lawson. She has a way of talking about mental issues that allows you to laugh at yourself and helps you feel better instead of just more miserable. Reading her books is like chatting with a good friend…a good friend with an insane sense of humor. This book and her previous one, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, have found their way onto my ‘favorites’ stand right next to my bed, so they are in easy reach when I’m feeling really blue.

Sci-Fi

I think Science Fiction may have been my first ‘favorite genre’. (I blame you, SeaQuest DSV! 🙂 ) I love a good sci-fi, regardless of whether it’s space-y, steampunk, monster-filled, or even dystopian. As long as the story is good, I’m all for it.

27213244My current favorite Sci-Fi novel is The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. The world building alone in this novel is amazing. She manages to pack as much detail and nuance as an entire series of Star Trek into just one novel. I also loved the characters. They all seemed very real and like people I would probably get along with in real life. It honestly felt a bit like Firefly, but with a fresh cast…and less crime. 😉

Fantasy

Fantasies are only second to Sci-Fi’s in timing, because I may have fallen in love with the genre later, but I love it just as much!

magemotherseriesMy current favorite (which could also be considered a YA favorite) is the Magemother series by Austin J. Bailey. This is a nice little series; easy to read, but exciting and fun. I can’t really describe it without giving all the plot points away, so I’ll just say that I practically binged the first book and the novella and am really looking forward to the second & third books. Thankfully, I bought the omnibus of the whole series, so I don’t have to wait very long. 🙂

Books About Books

I can’t help it, I love books so much that I also love books ABOUT books. These types of books can span multiple genres (romances, science fiction, fantasy, non-fiction…), so I’ve turned them into their OWN genre instead. 😉

28517611My current favorite Book About Books is Kingston Raine and the Grim Reaper by Jackson Lear. This is one of the few books that I’ve downloaded from one of those Facebook ads that actually worked out for me. 😉 This books is HILARIOUS and anyone who loves books will love it. The references alone are awesome, but the wit of the writing is amazing. Who knew I could like the Grim Reaper so much?


How about you? What are your favorite hidden gems?

Book Review – Bibliomysteries

Book: Bibliomysteries – Author: Multiple (edited by Otto Penzler)

Genre: Fiction, Mystery, Books About Books, Anthology

Description from Goodreads:

If you open your dictionary, you will discover that there is no such word as “bibliomystery.” However, most mystery readers know that the word refers to a mystery story that involves the world of books: a bookshop, a rare volume, a library, a collector, or a bookseller.

The stories in this unique collection were commissioned by the Mysterious Bookshop. They were written by some of the mystery genre’s most distinguished authors. Tough guys like Ken Bruen, Reed Farrel Coleman, Loren D. Estleman, and Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins. Bestsellers like Nelson DeMille, Anne Perry, and Jeffery Deaver. Edgar winners such as C. J. Box, Thomas H. Cook, and Laura Lippman.

Here you will discover Sigmund Freud dealing with an unwelcome visitor; Columbo confronting a murderous bookseller; a Mexican cartel kingpin with a fatal weakness for rare books; and deadly secrets deep in the London Library; plus books with hidden messages, beguiling booksellers, crafty collectors, and a magical library that is guaranteed to enchant you. The stories have been published in seven languages—one has sold more than 250,000 copies as an e-book (“The Book Case” by Nelson DeMille)—and another won the Edgar Allan Poe Award as the Best Short Story of the Year (“The Caxton Lending Library and Book Depository” by John Connolly).  

Who knew literature could be so lethal!

My Review:

Bibliomysteries is an anthology put together by Otto Penzler, a well-known advocate of the mystery genre, and features fictional stories written by famous mystery authors which all involve books in some fashion. If you are a bibliophile (and if you’re reading this blog, that’s very likely) and especially if you are a devotee of the mystery genre like me, you will definitely enjoy this book.

Here’s the lineup:

– Introduction by Ian Rankin
– “An Acceptable Sacrifice ” by Jeffery Deaver
– “Pronghorns of the Third Reich” by C.J. Box
– “The Book of Virtue” by Ken Bruen
– “The Book of Ghosts” by Reed Farrel Coleman
– “The Final Testament” by Peter Blauner
– “What’s In A Name?” by Thomas H. Cook
– “Book Club” by Loren D. Estleman
– “Death Leaves A Bookmark” by William Link
– “The Book Thing” by Laura Lippman
– “The Scroll” by Anne Perry
– “It’s In the Book” by Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins
– “The Long Sonata of the Dead” by Andrew Taylor
– “Rides A Stranger” by David Bell
– “The Caxton Lending Library & Book Depository” by John Connolly
– “The Book Case” by Nelson DeMille.

I don’t want to give too much away by describing each story with any more detail than they do in the description (with how short each story is, I’d end up telling the whole thing!) but I will say that each story is very unique and it was fun seeing how different writers would work out completely different tales using the same prompt.

I enjoyed all of the stories, with one exception, which is really good odds for an anthology. My favorite two stories were “The Book Thing” by Laura Lippman & “The Caxton Lending Library & Book Depository” by John Connolly (definite favorite!), with close runners up in “The Scroll” by Anne Perry & “Rides A Stranger” by David Bell.

I’d highly recommend this anthology to anyone who loves mysteries, especially if they also love books. It’s not only a fun ride, it’s also a great introduction to authors you may not have read yet. I know I’m definitely going to be adding some of these authors to my “TBR” pile! 🙂

Similar Book(s):

I’m never sure what to put here for anthologies, so I’m just going to link to all the author’s Goodreads pages so you can get a feel for them yourself:

– Ian Rankin
– Jeffery Deaver
– C.J. Box
– Ken Bruen
– Reed Farrel Coleman
– Peter Blauner
– Thomas H. Cook
– Loren D. Estleman
– William Link
– Laura Lippman
– Anne Perry
– Mickey Spillane & Max Allan Collins
– Andrew Taylor
– David Bell
– John Connolly
– Nelson DeMille

Book Review – Kingston Raine and the Grim Reaper

Book: Kingston Raine and the Grim Reaper – Author: Jackson Lear

Genre: Fiction, Adventure, Supernatural-ish

Description from Goodreads:

The Grim Reaper finds himself confronted with his most challenging death ever: that of Kingston Raine, an industrial thief and all-round smartass. Soon he comes to realize that Kingston may be the only one capable of thwarting a coup that threatens the entire afterlife. Unfortunately, Kingston just did the impossible and found a way to escape back to his own universe.

My Review:

::opens mouth to speak::
::closes mouth::
::opens mouth again::
“….uh…well?…”
::closes mouth::

Ok, first things first: I liked this book, I really did. But how to describe it without spoilers? Hm….

General description time: Limbo is run by a corporation called Death Inc, whose CEO is, of course, Death himself. During the latest coup, Death accidentally manages to kill a fictional character named Kingston Raine. Kingston turns out to be clever and crazy enough to steal Death’s scythe and zap himself back into the fictional universe…just not HIS fictional universe. Mayhem ensues.

Bibliophiles will get a kick out of this one, as Kingston manages to stumble into some of the greatest literary characters of all time during his journey to get back home. I had fun trying to guess along with Kingston which book he was in, so I won’t divulge WHICH characters, but there’s some good ones in there. And I want to applaud the author for sticking to the original version of the tales (you’ll know which one I’m talking about when you get to it).

This book was hilarious. Who knew Death and Satan could be so humorous? 😉 Their banter and the quips coming from Kingston & crew kept everything fairly upbeat. You can tell that the author has a good sense of humor.

He also writes people very well. All of the characters, both “real” and “fictional”, came across very realistically. These were people you could see yourself hanging out with; my favorite type of characters. And, come on, the author actually got a cheer out of me when Satan turned up towards the end, that’s just good writing. 😉

All in all I highly recommend this book for people looking for a fun read. One of the other reviews I read called it “madcap” and I heartily agree. If you can suspend your disbelief enough to just go with it, this book will take you on quite the ride.

Special note: The Kindle version of this book is currently free on Amazon (3/8/2017). Also, subscribe to the author’s mailing list, you can download this book and the sequel for free (http://www.jacksonlear.com/).

Similar Book(s):

I honestly really just want to write “Dogma” here, because the movie has a similar feel (although a LOT more vulgarity and drama). That’s probably not super helpful, though, so I’m going to go with:

Good Omens – Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman