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?

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T5W – “A Happy Child is a Child Reading a Good Book”

Today’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is: Children’s Books! Now, I love me a good children’s novel, so I’m going to do a bit extra in this post. Instead of just 5 books, I’m going to give you 5 more recent novels and 5 older novels. 🙂 — To keep things a bit shorter, I’ll just give you the descriptions from Goodreads by themselves instead of adding a personal review, but I have read each of these books and would recommend them all highly!

Recent Novels

Circus Mirandus (Cassie Beasley)

circusmirandusMicah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other—the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real. And the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle.

The Island of Dr. Libris (Chris Grabenstein)

islandofdrlibrisBilly’s spending the summer in a lakeside cabin that belongs to the mysterious Dr. Libris. But something strange is going on. Besides the security cameras everywhere, there’s Dr. Libris’s private bookcase. Whenever Billy opens the books inside, he can hear sounds coming from the island in the middle of the lake. The clash of swords. The twang of arrows. Sometimes he can even feel the ground shaking. It’s almost as if the stories he’s reading are coming to life!

The Book of Storms (Ruth Hatfield)

bookofstormsEleven-year-old Danny’s parents are storm chasers – which sounds fun and exciting, and it is, so long as you aren’t the son who has to wait behind at home. And one night, after a particularly fierce storm, Danny’s parents don’t come back. Stranger still, the old sycamore tree in Danny’s yard seems to have been struck by lightning, and when he picks up a fragment of wood from the tree’s heart, he finds he can hear voices … including that of next door’s rather uppity cat, Mitzy. The stick is a taro, a shard of lightning that bestows upon its bearer unnerving powers, including the ability to talk with plants and animals – and it is very valuable.

Goth Girl and the Ghost of a Mouse (Chris Riddell)

gothgirlMeet Ada Goth. She lives in Ghastly-Gorm Hall with her father, Lord Goth, lots of servants and at least half a dozen ghosts, but she hasn’t got any friends to explore her enormous, creepy house with. Then, one night, everything changes when Ada meets a ghostly mouse called Ishmael. Together they set out to solve the mystery of the strange happenings at Ghastly-Gorm Hall, and get a lot more than they bargained for.

The Wishing Spell (Chris Colfer)

wishingspellThrough the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, Alex & Conner leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about. But after a series of encounters with witches, wolves, goblins, and trolls alike, getting back home is going to be harder than they thought.

Older Novels

The Children of Green Knowe (L.M. Boston)

greenknowe“Tolly” Toseland 7 is rowed up to great-gran Linnet Oldknow by servant Boggis – there has always been a Boggis at Green Knowe. The real “castle” is over 900 years old. Gran tells old family stories, and songs. Over the generations there have been many who can see, hear, and feel the ghosts, evoked by white-on-black illustrations. Toby 14, Alexander, and Linnet 6 linger after the Plague, as does the cursed topiary Green Noah.

A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L’Engle)

wrinkleintimeMeg’s father had been experimenting with this fifth dimension of time travel when he mysteriously disappeared. Now the time has come for Meg, her friend Calvin, and Charles Wallace to rescue him. But can they outwit the forces of evil they will encounter on their heart-stopping journey through space?

Circle of Magic (Tamora Pierce)

(From 1st novel) With her gift of weaving silk thread and creating light, Sandry is brought to the Winding Circle community. There she meets Briar, a former thief who has a way with plants; Daja, an outcast gifted at metalcraft; and Tris, whose connection with the weather unsettles everyone, including herself. At Winding Circle, the four misfits are taught how to use their magic – and to trust one another. But then disaster strikes their new home.

circle

Castaways of the Flying Dutchman (Brian Jacques)

7997A boy and dog trapped aboard the legendary ship, the Flying Dutchman, are sent off on an eternal journey by an avenging angel, roaming the earth throughout the centuries in search of those in need.  Their travels lead them to Chapelvale, a sleepy nineteenth century village whose very existence is at stake.  Only by discovering the buried secrets and solving the dust-laden riddles of the ancient village can it be saved.  This will take the will and wile of all the people-and a very special boy and dog!

Canyons (Gary Paulsen)

canyonsCoyote Runs, an Apache boy, takes part in his first raid — the one that will usher him into manhood. He is to be a man for but a short time….More than a hundred years later, while camping near Dog Canyon, fifteen-year-old Brennan Cole becomes obsessed with a skull that he finds, pierced by a bullet. He learns that it was the skull of an Apache boy executed by soldiers in 1864. A mystical link joins Brennan and Coyote Runs, and Brennan knows that neither boy will find any peace until Coyote Runs’ skull is returned to an ancient sacred place.


What are some of YOUR favorite children’s books?

Book Review – Beauty Queens

Book: Beauty Queens – Author: Libba Bray

Genre: Young Adult, Adventure, Survival

Description from Goodreads:

When a plane crash strands thirteen teen beauty contestants on a mysterious island, they struggle to survive, to get along with one another, to combat the island’s other diabolical occupants, and to learn their dance numbers in case they are rescued in time for the competition.

My Review:

I knew going in that this one was a toss-up. Would it be cheesy and over-dramatic or would it be hilarious? While there ARE definitely some occasional eye-rollingly shallow comments, I’m leaning towards the latter…but with meaning.

Ok, so you’ve seen Legally Blonde, right? Now, imagine Elle and her sorority sisters tossed into an episode of Lost…that will give you a smidgen of an idea of what to expect from this book. Then add in the insane pageant coordinator from Miss Congeniality, an Elvis-loving violent dictator, a secret volcano “bad guy” lair, a bunch of psychotropic plants, a couple of giant snakes….oh, and some teeny-bopper pirates, and you end up with one CRAZY book! Was that too many spoilers? I hope not.

Alright, so, yeah, it was a crazy premise, but really, this book was kind of amazing. This extreme situation took a bunch of girls who had been told their entire lives that they had to mold themselves into what everyone else wanted them to be, stripped them bare, gave them confidence, and made them realize exactly who they were and that the only people they had to prove themselves to was themselves. It was an extremely positive message wrapped up in a dark-humored satire.

And it was interesting, it didn’t occur to me until about halfway through the book, but a bunch of beauty queens is EXACTLY who you would want to be stranded with on a desert island. (Get your mind out of the gutter and let me explain, lol!) Think about it. These are the ambitious girls. The girls who need to have a TON of impressive extracurriculars. The girls who are pre-premed or pre-engineering or pre-somethingelsecompletelyawesome. These are the girls who may look pretty and sound vapid, but when you combine them together, the amount of survival-skill knowledge they possess would be immense!

Yes, there is romance (liars! lol). There’s actually all sorts of romance. The author didn’t shy away from anything here. These girls are finding themselves and that includes figuring out their sexuality. But it blends into the story; none of the romances seem to be there just to have romances (even with the seemingly random insertion of the aforementioned teeny-bopper pirates…where did THEY come from?!?).

All in all, this was a pretty great book. I read it in one day (that’s 396 pages in one day), so you can tell I liked it. I’d highly recommend it to people who love slightly absurd novels…or anyone who just really likes Legally Blonde. 😉

Similar Book(s):

Uh…well? I have no idea. Try this link: Books Like Beauty Queens

Whatcha Readin?

Hi all! I am in the middle of a few books, so I don’t have a full review for you today. Instead I thought I’d do a little promo for the books I’m currently reading. They are so good!

The Juliet (Laura Ellen Scott)

29511753Description: During Death Valley’s great wildflower bloom of 2005, retired cowboy actor Rigg Dexon gives a rootless woman a gift that will change her life forever: the deed to The Mystery House, a century old shack long thought to be the hiding place of a legendary emerald known as The Juliet. Willie Judy remembers Dexon from cereal commercials she watched as a kid, but now she’ll spend the next seven days searching for the truth about him, the house, and herself, as the history of The Juliet reveals the American Dream’s dark side—one that is corrupt, bawdy, and half insane.

Thoughts: This one is a bit odd, but I’m really enjoying it so far! I plan to do a full review of it when I’m done, so I won’t say too much here. Suffice it to say, if you like a little bit of mystery, a touch of thriller, and a lot of The West, you should enjoy it! 🙂

Ireland (Frank Delaney)

90360Description: One evening in 1951, an itinerant storyteller arrives unannounced at a house in the Irish countryside. In exchange for a bed and a warm meal, he invites his hosts and their neighbors to join him by the wintry fireside, and begins to tell formative stories of Ireland’s history. Ronan, a 9-year-old boy, grows so entranced by the storytelling that, when the old man leaves abruptly under mysterious circumstances, the boy devotes himself to finding him again. Ronan’s search for the Storyteller becomes both a journey of self-discovery, long unspoken family secrets, and an immersion into the sometimes conflicting histories of his native land.

Thoughts: I’m really loving the storytelling vibe of this one. I’m doing the audiobook, which is the perfect medium for this type of novel, especially since the author contributes his wonderful Irish brogue which only enhances the tales. If you love history, Ireland, or even just listening to someone tell you a good story, this one is for you!

Up Next:

The Shack (William Paul Young)

1812457Description: Mackenzie Allen Philips’ youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation, and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his “Great Sadness,” Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever.

Thoughts: This one was chosen by my Book Club to be our next read. I’ll be honest, even being Catholic, I get a bit leery about “religious” books, but the story line sounds thoughtful and hopefully a bit inspiring, so I’m gonna give it a go.

Rat Queens Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery (Kurtis J Wiebe, author & Roc Upchurch, artist)

20299683Description: Who are the Rat Queens? They’re a pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire and they’re in the business of killing all the god’s creatures for profit. Meet Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief.

Thoughts: The description goes on to say the book is “like Buffy meets Tank Girl in a Lord of the Rings world on crack”…how could I resist that?!? 😉 Honestly, this sounds like a fun series and the artwork is really cool, so I’m going to cross my fingers and dive on in!


So how about you guys? What are you reading right now?