Sweeping the Shelves #8

Hey all! Well, I’m doing a good job so far in keeping this going. Let’s see if I can continue it until we’ve finished my entire TBR list!

For those of you who are new, Sweeping the Shelves is a weekly post in which I pick 5 of the books that I own but haven’t read and try to decide what to keep and what to donate.

Slathbog’s Gold – Adventurer’s Wanted #1 (M.L. Forman)

slathbogDescription from Goodreads: The sign is small, tucked into the corner of Mr. Clutter’s bookshop window: “Adventurers Wanted. Apply Within.” No one but fifteen-year-old Alex Taylor even seems to notice it is there. And for Alex, who has wished for a change in his life, it is an irresistible invitation. Upon entering Mr. Clutter’s shop, Alex is swept away on an incredible adventure to a faraway land filled with heroic warriors, mysterious elves, and hard-working dwarves. Alex becomes the eighth man in a band of adventurers seeking the lair of Slathbog the Red – and evil dragon with a legendary treasure. Along the way, Alex and his new friends must battle dangerous trolls and bandits, face undead wraiths, and seek the wisdom of the Oracle in her White Tower. Alex’s adventure takes him to distant and exotic lands where he learns about courage, integrity, honor, and, most importantly, friendship.

Final Verdict: Well, this one sounds fun! I like a good “get lost in an adventure” story and, at this reading level, you don’t usually have to worry about anything being really complicated or romance-driven. — KEEP

Case Histories: A Novel – Jackson Brodie #1 (Kate Atkinson)

casehistoriesDescription from Goodreads: Case one: A little girl goes missing in the night. 

Case two: A beautiful young office worker falls victim to a maniac’s apparently random attack. 

Case three: A new mother finds herself trapped in a hell of her own making – with a very needy baby and a very demanding husband – until a fit of rage creates a grisly, bloody escape.

Thirty years after the first incident, as private investigator Jackson Brodie begins investigating all three cases, startling connections and discoveries emerge…

Final Verdict: I dunno, this one doesn’t really give much in the way of a description. And the very first review on Goodreads is from someone who loves the author from previous works, but only gave this one 2 stars. Add to that the fact that I don’t even remember buying this one… — DONATE

Hooked on Murder – Crochet Mystery #1 (Betty Hechtman)

hookedonmurderDescription from GoodreadsMolly Pink is about to discover the joys of crochet. It’s a relaxing escape from her hectic life as a bookstore event manager . . . and from the stress of being Tarzana, California’s latest murder suspect.

For Molly, the weekly crochet group at Shedd & Royal Books and More was just another event to manage. Then she stumbled across the body of group leader Ellen Sheridan. Her complicated past with Ellen has made her a prime suspect, and after being cuffed and questioned, she could use a little diversion. Never mind that she doesn’t know how to crochet. Granny squares don’t look that hard to make.

But while Molly’s fending off a detective with a grudge and navigating crochet group politics, the real killer is at large. And it’s up to Molly to catch the culprit–before she winds up in a tight knot.

Final Verdict: “A tight knot” ::snorts:: Sigh, I’m such a dork. 😉 You guys know my penchant for cozies. I can’t help but love them. AND this one is about crochet, which is one of my hobbies! — KEEP

Four Friends (Robyn Carr)

fourfriendsDescription from GoodreadsGerri can’t decide what’s more devastating: learning her rock-solid marriage has big cracks, or the anger she feels as she tries to repair the damage. Always the anchor for friends and her three angst-ridden teenagers, it’s time to look carefully at herself. The journey for Gerri and her family is more than revealing—it’s transforming.

Andy doesn’t have a great track record with men, and she’s come to believe that for her a lasting love is out of reach. When she finds herself attracted to her down-to-earth, ordinary contractor—a man without any of the qualities that usually appeal to her—she questions everything she thought she wanted in life.

Sonja’s lifelong pursuit of balance is shattered when her husband declares he’s through with her New Age nonsense and walks out. There’s no herbal tonic or cleansing ritual that can restore her serenity—or her sanity. 

Miraculously, it’s BJ, the reserved newcomer to Mill Valley, who steps into their circle and changes everything. The woman with dark secrets opens up to her neighbors, and together they get each other back on track, stronger as individuals and unfaltering as friends.

Final Verdict: Well, this one doesn’t sound like something I’d read AT ALL, does it? And yet…I do really like friendship stories. There really aren’t enough of them in the world (why does everything have to revolve around sex?). I’m gonna extend my boundaries and give this one a try. — KEEP

The Station Master: A Scheduled Death – Grace Marsden #3 (Luisa Beuhler)

stationmasterDescription from Goodreads: The eighth annual Depot Days celebration is drawing large crowds to the quaint old station. The buzz of an auction and the thrill of the win. Eager spectators crane their necks as the last antique trunk gives up its secret…Trouble Death has knocked at Grace Marsden’s door before, but the stakes skyrocket when circumstances cast her husband as the number one suspect in a hit and run. Once again fate sets Grace on a collision course with a determined murderer. Suspicion raises ugly memories and peoples defenses when they realize their close-knit town harbors a killer. Who knows the secret? And who punched a one-way ticket to the end of the line for Grace?

Final Verdict: I…I don’t remember this one at all. You’d think with a cover like that…huh. Oh well, since I’ve already saved one cozy in this round and it’s the 3rd in the series AND doesn’t have very good reviews (she cries all the time? ick), I’m going to pass on this one. — DONATE


Today’s Count: Keep = 3, Donate = 2

Overall Count: Keep = 25, Donate = 15

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Book Tag – Dreamy Book Covers

Since the Top 5 Wednesday choices this month are all romance-based, I am not planning to do them. Today, instead, I thought I’d do a fun book tag!  🙂


Here are the rules:

1. Thank the lovely person who tagged you, spread the love! – I’ve stolen this one from Elnade over at Confessions of a Serial Reader

2. Mention me Tiana @ The Book Raven as the (insert adjective here) creator of this book tag!

3. Use the original tag image in your post. (However, Feel free to add whatever other graphics your heart desires!)

4. At least tag 1 fellow blogger for this tag. Even if you’re like me sometimes and feel a bit lazy – Aurora Librialis and Siobhan, I choose you!

5. List the rules


1) “No Ideas But in Things” – A book cover that perfectly expresses the novel inside it

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Is this a strange choice? It seems like a strange choice…or maybe not. Did I mention that this book is basically a “what would it be like if the Scooby Gang grew up and had to face one more monster” with a large dose of HP Lovecraft throw in?

2) “Dark and Lovely” – A book cover that is so creepalicious you just want to eat it up

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I don’t know about creepalicious, but the cover is DEFINITELY what first drew me to this book. Super spooky!

3) “Sugary Sweet” – A cute cover that is so fluffy you want to give it a hug

furiouslyhappy

What, you don’t think stuffed raccoons are sweet? As Jenny would say, “That’s sounds like a You problem”. 😉

4) “The Simple Aesthetic” – A book cover that stuns with the most minimalistic of design

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A cover almost as mysterious as the Juliet itself.

5) “Cover Envy” – A book cover you wish you had on your shelves, but don’t yet

dustandshadow

I’ve been on a Sherlock kick since I read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes by Loren D Estleman a couple weeks ago. This book sounds fun AND the cover is cool. 🙂

6) “Traveling Abroad” – A beautiful book cover featuring a country outside of your own

darkwitch

Nora Roberts? Really? I know, not a usual “me” type of book, but the story line was really interesting and it takes place in Ireland, one of my favorite countries.

8) “The Color Wheel” – A cover that showcases one of your favorite colors

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This series is wonderful and the covers are gorgeous! I love that they kept the same style the whole way through the series.

9) “Switching Gears” – A cover change you absolutely adore

HarryPotter_covers

Don’t get me wrong, the original Harry Potter covers are ICONIC to me, but look how pretty that new cover is! And it has Hagrid, my favorite character, looking all happy and fluffy on it. 🙂

10) “Oldie but Goodie” – A favorite cover of your favorite classic

baskervilles

See? Sherlock kick. But this IS a pretty cool cover, right? Just the right amount of spooky.

11) “And the Winner is…” – Which book cover mentioned above is your favorite?

Aww, they’re all good or I wouldn’t have chosen them! But…I’ll have to pick Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. I just smile every time I see that silly raccoon. 🙂

Pastiche vs. Fanfiction

Can you believe that I am 35 years old, have a BA in English, and had never heard the word ‘pastiche’ until a month ago?!? Fanfic, on the other hand…I’ve been a lover of fanfic since I discovered it at age 12 (when we finally got a computer, lol) and stumbled across my first fanfic online (Questies represent!).

From what I can tell, Pastiche vs Fanfiction is a matter of “a penny is a coin, but a coin isn’t necessarily a penny”. A pastiche IS fanfiction, but of a certain type: it must attempt to mimic the writing style and flair of the original works (it’s also usually published, but that’s more of a class difference rather than a writing difference, so I’m discounting it).

For example: Lyndsay Faye, a well-known Sherlock Homes pastiche writer, has put out several books, including her debut Dust and Shadow: An Account of the Ripper Killings by Dr. John H. Watson. This book follows not only the tone of the originals, but the style, presenting itself as an original work by Dr. Watson and mimicking the writing of Arthur Conan Doyle.

Whereas: Many of my favorite Sherlock Holmes fanfictions are based more on the television shows/movies rather than the original stories (and let’s not even attempt to figure out if a fanfic based on a tv show based on a book still counts as a pastiche!). The stories tend to present with a viewer’s POV, which can include snippets from the criminals/victims lives that the boys would have no way of knowing about. Almost none of them follow the original style, with Dr. Watson narrating the events, or are even set in the appropriate time frame. Many of them don’t even feature cases, but are more “slice of life” stories.

None of this is to say that one is necessarily “better” than the other. I love both types of work equally. It’s true that most published pastiches will have a higher quality of writing, but that’s true of any “published” vs “non-published” work and I have always been willing to admit that I’ve read some fanfiction that was better than the books they were based on (including Harry Potter, which is huge coming from me). The value is in the story; if it is a good story then it is a worthy story, regardless of it’s origins.

Pastiches For You to Try

Sherlock Holmes: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes (Loren D. Estleman)

Hardy Boys: The House on the Point: A Tribute to Franklin W. Dixon & The Hardy Boys (Benjamin Hoff)

Gone with the Wind: Scarlett (Alexandra Ripley)

Multiple Authors: The British Museum is Falling Down (David Lodge)


I’m sure I’m missing some nuances in defining the two; there seems to be a lot of debate over whether or not certain books would be considered a pastiche, an homage, or fanfiction. Honestly I think people sometimes make things TOO complicated, so this is my simple definition. Feel free to add your take on the debate in the comments. 🙂

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 GoodreadsLibrarians 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 GoodreadsThis 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 GoodreadsFor 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!

 

 

Sweeping the Shelves #7

Howdy folks! Welcome to the seventh installment of Sweeping the Shelves, the weekly challenge where I try to convince myself that I DON’T NEED ALL THESE BOOKS! 🙂

The Bridge at Ardendale (JW Kent)

bridgeatardendaleDescription from GoodreadsSo, what does a legendary mercenary do when he retires? “He finds him an out of the way place… where they grow good barley and hops. Sets his-self up brewing ale, and mayhap finds a soft, curvy lass or two to keep his bones warm at night….” But when Fergus walked into the Upper Arden Valley he found far more than he had bargained for.

Final Verdict: I’ll be honest, this is one that, based purely on it’s description, I probably would have donated. But it was written by a co-worker, so I have to at least try it. 😉 — KEEP

The Forgotten Garden (Kate Morton)

forgottengardenDescription from GoodreadsCassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she has lost everything dear to her. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra’s life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family. Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairytales written by Eliza Makepeace—the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century—Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of Nell on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself.

Final Verdict: Well, what bibliophile can resist a description like that? — KEEP

Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman)

neverwhereDescription from GoodreadsUnder the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks. Richard Mayhew, a young businessman, is going to find out more than enough about this other London. A single act of kindness catapults him out of his workday existence and into a world that is at once eerily familiar and utterly bizarre. And a strange destiny awaits him down here, beneath his native city: Neverwhere.

Final Verdict: I really, really want to read this, I just keep not getting around to it. Ooo, wait…I think…::checks phone::…YES! Mom got me the radio drama version of this for Christmas!!! Bye bye, paperback! — DONATE

People of the Book (Geraldine Brooks)

peopleofthebookDescription from Goodreads: In 1996, Hanna Heath, an Australian rare-book expert, is offered the job of a lifetime: analysis and conservation of the famed Sarajevo Haggadah, which has been rescued from Serb shelling during the Bosnian war. Priceless and beautiful, the book is one of the earliest Jewish volumes ever to be illuminated with images. When Hanna, a caustic loner with a passion for her work, discovers a series of tiny artifacts in its ancient binding—an insect wing fragment, wine stains, salt crystals, a white hair—she begins to unlock the book’s mysteries. The reader is ushered into an exquisitely detailed and atmospheric past, tracing the book’s journey from its salvation back to its creation. 

In Bosnia during World War II, a Muslim risks his life to protect it from the Nazis. In the hedonistic salons of fin-de-siècle Vienna, the book becomes a pawn in the struggle against the city’s rising anti-Semitism. In inquisition-era Venice, a Catholic priest saves it from burning. In Barcelona in 1492, the scribe who wrote the text sees his family destroyed by the agonies of enforced exile. And in Seville in 1480, the reason for the Haggadah’s extraordinary illuminations is finally disclosed. Hanna’s investigation unexpectedly plunges her into the intrigues of fine art forgers and ultra-nationalist fanatics. Her experiences will test her belief in herself and the man she has come to love. 

Final Verdict: Ok, I take back what I said for The Forgotten Garden…what kind of bibliophile can resist a description like THAT? — DEFINITELY KEEP

The Wreckers (Iain Lawrence)

thewreckersDescription from GoodreadsThere was once a village bred by evil. On the barren coast of Cornwall, England, lived a community who prayed for shipwrecks, a community who lured storm-tossed ships to crash upon the sharp rocks of their shore. They fed and clothed themselves with the loot salvaged from the wreckage; dead sailors’ tools and trinkets became decorations for their homes. Most never questioned their murderous way of life. Then, upon that pirates’ shore crashed the ship The Isle of Skye. And the youngest of its crew members, 14-year-old John Spencer, survived the wreck. But would he escape the wreckers? This is his harrowing tale.

Final Verdict: Well, I snagged this one from a library sale to give to my niece and nephew, so I guess that counts as donating it. But I’m gonna read it first! 😉 — DONATE


Today’s Count: Keep = 3, Donate = 2

Overall Count: Keep = 22, Donate = 13

Book Review – A Curious Beginning

Book: A Curious Beginning – Author: Deanna Raybourn

Genre: Adult Fiction, Mystery, Historical

Description from Goodreads:

London, 1887. – After burying her spinster aunt, orphaned Veronica Speedwell is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as with fending off admirers, Veronica intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans when Veronica thwarts her own attempted abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron, who offers her sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker, a reclusive and bad-tempered natural historian. But before the baron can reveal what he knows of the plot against her, he is found murdered—leaving Veronica and Stoker on the run from an elusive assailant as wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

My Review:

I had a feeling I was going to like this book, and boy was I right!

Veronica is a wonderful character. Spunky, clever, and resourceful, she’s the kind of person you’d want to have on your side when you are in trouble. Though a bit prone to swooning, which is explained, she’s still one of the most capable women I’ve ever read in this time period. Think a slightly more restrained, Victorian-era Phryne Fisher with a bent towards science and you’ll be getting fairly close. 🙂

Her compatriot and soon-to-be-beau (not a spoiler, it’s pretty obvious for the majority of the book), Stoker, was also an interesting character. A bit hard-headed and quick to anger, he’s also very loyal and protective…and fairly open-minded when dealing with the extremely ‘modern-thinking’ Veronica. It was nice to see a male figure in a Victorian era book that wasn’t astonished that women might actually know a thing or two and can form their own opinions without relying on a man to explain things to them.

The mystery was intriguing. We are kind of thrown into the mix, just like Veronica, with no clue which characters to trust or what exactly is going on. Those are my favorite kind of mysteries, where you have to figure out the clues right alongside the main characters. I will say that I totally figured out the ‘big surprise’ at the end. Lucky guess really, but I’m still claiming it! 😉

The only thing that bugged me about the book was that Veronica completely refused to believe she could possibly be in danger for WAY too much of the book. There is such a thing as too oblivious and she was pushing the mark. How many kidnapping attempts and random attacks do you have to experience before you get the fact that these guys might be after YOU? It wasn’t a deal-breaker or anything, but I honestly would have sided with Stoker if he’d smacked her upside the head. 😉

Anyway, I really would recommend this one for mystery lovers, especially if you like books set in the Victorian era and/or strong female protagonists.

Similar Book(s):

Lady of Ashes – Christine Trent

The Anatomist’s Wife – Anna Lee Huber

Jackaby – William Ritter

 

Booksgiving 2018

Three years ago, Jenny Lawson (one of my favorite authors) started a new tradition. She wanted to send a few copies of her book to fans who needed a pick-me-up. When she posted about it on her blog, a ton of her readers thought it was a brilliant idea and wanted to help send books to those who needed them. Thus Booksgiving was born.

This year is the Third Annual Booksgiving. To participate, all you have to do is create a wishlist on Amazon with the one book you’ve been wanting for a while and post a link to it in the comments (make sure you attach your shipping address to your wishlist!!!). Then you scroll through the comments and pick someone else to send a book to (if you have the funds at the moment; sending is NOT required, just encouraged).

I’ve already had my wishlist book purchased and now a copy of Keeper of the Lost Things by Ruth Hogan is winging it’s way to my house. (Thanks Bookgiver!!! 🙂 ) I myself purchased a book for a teacher in an inner-city school who wrote that she is looking for books for her students; inspiring books that will help increase their sense of self-worth.

This is a wonderful tradition and I hope to keep participating in the future. Knowing that I share the love of reading with so many people is amazing and hopefully the book I donated will bring a some light into at least one child’s life.

I highly recommend you get on the bandwagon and share in the joy. What a great day! 🙂