Sunday, November 29, 2015

November Library Checkout


November 2015
A great monthly check-in about Library reading by Shannon of River City Reading!

This has been a good month for my reading goals! Time off from the 5-day work week is likely to blame for my increased reading productivity this month! :) My December reading goal consists of "catching up" on the two read-alongs I've yet to complete and various blog posts to be composed and posted on some of my absolutely favorite reads from 2015. I want these done before launching into the Little House Read-Along with Bex and all the other readers who will participate with us beginning in January! YAY!! Cannot wait! 

Books Read: 
(**Reviews/blog posts can be viewed by clicking on the title. If I have not yet completed a blog post, it will link to my Goodreads review.)
1) Open and Shut by David Rosenfelt
A mystery and first in a series! I loved this book and series, especially Rosenfelt's writing style. I have placed a reserve on the second in the series! I would love to be able to sit and inhale all of them, but work and life disrupt! :) 

2) Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively
Man Booker Prize winner in 1987. Wow. I loved Lively's writing style. This book really made me think and consider. Although I would classify it as historical fiction (?) it included so many aspects of life. And, frankly, this is the first I can remember reading of an incestuous relationship (between siblings), ever. Amazingly, I felt as if I could understand that concept with these two people, though it still seems a bit creepy, if you're basically raised in an isolated situation...well, life can be different. I will post a review and hopefully soon, but this is definitely a thought-provoking book on many levels. (12/28/15--The above link now directs you to the blog posting, and please also check out some of the quotes I listed on my "Others' Words of Wisdom" page!) So glad I read it and I want to read others she has written.

3) Andrea Martin's Lady Parts by Andrea Martin
Looked like it might be humorous and enjoyable--a break from some more intense reads. And...it was enjoyable, and perhaps not as humorous as I had expected. Martin definitely is heroic in revealing her own battles with 'demons' such as an eating disorder. This was an intimate portrait of a character actor/comedienne, etc. She has certainly had a varied life with many experiences! A review to come soon, hopefully! :)  (12/15/15 Above link now directs you to my blog posting!)

4) Last Wool and Testament (A Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery) by Molly MacRae
I'm certain this is what most would call a "cosy." I cannot remember how I got onto this author/series/book, but it didn't prove to be as enjoyable to me as I might have hoped. It was enjoyable but definitely not my favorite of writing styles. MacRae's characterization is a bit too 'surface' for me, I prefer more in-depth characterization overall. Though I am definitely in the minority. This book has won the 2013 Lovey Award for Best Paranormal/Sci-fi Novel and was listed in the Suspense Magazine's Best of 2012. 

5) Jam on the Vine, Part 1, Part 2 by LaShonda K. Barnett
Read this for a campus book club meeting on November 13 and absolutely loved it! It was a fantastic discussion-starter as well! This is amazing historical fiction! Must post a review and return the book! :)

6) Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson
I am still listening to this in the car! I really want to keep it, but will relinquish it this week. Perhaps Santa will gift it to me! :)

7) Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
I am planning to actually read this book so I can provide some quotes in a review, but it was a wonderful audio experience, too! 

Currently Reading: 

There are three awaiting my attention (see below), but am trying to concentrate on blog posts/reviews today! :)

Checked Out, TBR:

Although I have yet to start reading any of these, there are three books I'm previewing in preparation for the Little House Series Read-Along, cohosted by myself and Bex of An Armchair By The Sea, beginning this coming January! :) I have NEVER read a Wilder book and after participating in Reeder Reads' Green Gables Read-Along last year, I decided reading one of the Wilder books per month would be a great way to read them all during 2016! Then both Bex and I posted on the Classics Club site that we planned to host the same read-along, and a cohosting team was born! Bex's introductory post is here and mine is here! Be sure to register using the link on either of these posts! It is going to be fun! There are already five of us committed to this monthly project! And, please, if you wish to only follow along with the reviews/comments, that is also fine. Or if you only wish to read of few of these books and participate for only those months, that is also fine! Whatever works for you, works for us! :)

1) West from Home: Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder to Almanzo Wilder, San Francisco 1915 by Laura Ingalls Wilder, edited by Roger Lea MacBride.

2) On the Way Home: The Diary of a Trip from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894 by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

3) A Wilder Rose by Susan Wittig Albert.

Returned Unread:

None. One huge perk to serving on the Board of Trustees is that I never accumulate or owe fines! So I can keep books as long as no one else places a hold on them, with no penalty. :) However, in all fairness I have only taken advantage of this a few times over the past few years! :)

On Hold: 

I did relent and place a hold on First Degree by David Rosenfelt, the second in his Andy Carpenter series. :) 

Friday, November 27, 2015

Is there a witch? Where is the ghost? Who is a fake? Who is the murderer?

Last Wool
Last Wool and Testament 
While I did like this book, it is not going to be a priority for me to read further in this series just now. Why?
Simply due to the fact that there are many other books/series that I am more interested in reading.
This won the 
2013 Lovey Award for Best Paranormal/Sci-fi Novel 
and was listed in the Suspense Magazine's Best of 2012.
None too shabby!
I admit that initially I was a bit concerned that this might be too "romancy" for me. But after 40 pages or so I was grateful to discover that was not true! The mystery was well-planned and the book held a good pace for me after that first section. I just can't say MacRae's writing style is a favorite for me. I didn't feel the characterization was as in-depth or detailed for me as I prefer. However, I think many readers would enjoy it! It has a Goodreads rating of 3.65! 

In the wake of Kath's grandmother's death, a letter is delivered to Kath that Ivy had left for her to read after her death. In it she indicates there are some secret talents Kath may inherit. This prompts Kath to remember just how cryptic Ivy had been with her in the past few months, not wanting her to visit, etc. There are several "mysteries" in this one book and each of them is depicted rather believably. Kath appears to have developed a 'sixth sense' about certain things as she experiences life in Blue Plum, Tennessee, once again. There are the two obnoxious, gossipy, manipulative Spivey Twins, Shirley and Mercy, whom no one seems to want around...ever! There is the Deputy whom Kath has privately nicknamed Clod. And Joe the Pantry Guy who seems capable of getting in anywhere at any time to any place. There are many unique characters, but there isn't much time spent developing them, which I realize many people prefer! Just not me...

And exactly who would encourage you to stay in an unoccupied house and neglect to tell you the former occupant died a violent death in the the same bed where you are about to sleep? Yikes!! I'm surprised Kath didn't immediately leave again, never to return! 

I loved Ernestine, and the whole TGIF crew! I admit I doubted several different people, but the murderer's identity still rather surprised me. 


Have you read any of Molly MacRae's books?
This one was enjoyable, but not a favorite. 
It says something when I don't have even one quote to pass along...

Thursday, November 26, 2015

The dangers of assuming a criminal case is "Open and Shut"...

Open and Shut by 
This book proves that so very much can be 
'faked' and 'overlooked' when dealing with 
a criminal case, if the evildoers have enough control.
I do not recall how I initially became aware of Rosenfelt and his Andy Carpenter mystery series, 
but I am grateful to have found it!
I want to read them all!

I love Rosenfelt's characterization--not only do I feel as if I know each character well, I love that even "the good guys" aren't perfect! And the "bad guys" aren't all bad...well, except one or two... :) And there was no fear of me figuring out the whole story, though every once in awhile I would have a glimmer of possible insight, Rosenfelt was good at building the mysteries, for truly, there was more than one!

The book begins with a description of driving through the Lincoln Tunnel on his way to northern New Jersey from New York City. 
  I'm one link in an endless chain of drivers, all moving our cars through an atmosphere of one hundred percent pure carbon monoxide. Tunnel workers patrol walkways along the walls; I assume they are there to make sure no car achieves a speed above three miles an hour. Their lungs must have a life expectancy of an hour and a half. (1)
I found this first passage of the book to be a good example of Rosenfelt's writing style: realistic with sarcastic humor thrown in! I laughed and chuckled throughout the book, though the story line was definitely serious. 
  Suddenly, without warning, a burst of speed by the cars ahead lets me gun the accelerator to almost five miles an hour. At this rate, there's a chance I might make it home in time to leave for court tomorrow morning. (3)  
I cannot imagine driving in such traffic jams every single day. I have been stuck in commuting traffic in Baltimore, Chicago, Washington DC, and Atlanta. Those make the traffic I sometimes encounter in my own workday commute pale in comparison, which makes me feel fortunate! 

And anyone who can write about a canine companion as well as he does most certainly deserves to be read! 
  There is nothing like a golden retriever. I know, I know. It's a big planet with a lot of wonderful things, but golden retrievers are the absolute best. Mine is named Tara....The only problem she has ever caused is that I spend so much time with her in the mornings that I am almost invariably late for work. (4)
On his way into court:
I'd love to take her with me, and she often comes to my office, but the bailiffs take a dim view of canines in court. What they don't realize is that she's smarter than half the lawyers that practice there. (4) 
Okay, admittedly, it should state "who practice there" for grammatical accuracy, but...I do understand his statement! :)

Andy is known for his trickery in the court system. I could truly appreciate several of those depicted in the book, particularly the fact that if a jury could possibly believe someone else had just confessed to committing a specific crime, then they were NOT convinced beyond a "reasonable doubt" of the defendant's guilt. Good point! I have served on two juries and it can be tricky! You must keep your mind open and consider all possibilities. In contrast, his father, who was a venerated ex-District Attorney was known to be 'true blue' and never do anything untoward during his legal career--playing strictly 'by the book.' 

Rosenfelt manages to insert a bit of philosophy here and there:
  Today the Yankees are playing the Red Sox. I used to hate the Red Sox...and anybody else not in pinstripes. But I don't hate anymore, I'm too arrogant for that. To hate is to grant a level of importance that those teams don't deserve. We dismiss our opponents, we don't hate them. They are not worthy of that. (13)
Ha! I really like this. I have learned in my almost 60 years that the less I can allow myself to react emotionally, the better. That especially includes negative feelings toward anyone or anything. It's difficult to describe, but it does make my life much happier, much less chaotic, and my outlook much calmer. I work hard to coach myself to simply accept and deal in the best way possible, realizing situations over which I have absolutely no control and those upon which I might be able to make some positive impact.

More humor:
  I also was leery of mixing business with pleasure, cognizant as I was of the difficulties that can result. But the main reason I hesitated to sleep with Laurie is because whenever I brought it up she said no. Two weeks ago she changed her mind, which coincidentally was the exact moment I stopped hesitating. (19)
Ha! More of that 'tongue in cheek' humor! :) And later...
I haven't mentioned this to Laurie yet, and I tell myself it's because I haven't seen her. I also tell myself that I don't owe her anything, that we have no commitment to each other, but I can't quite get myself to stop feeling like a shithead. (29) 
And he was acting like a shithead, but it is true, isn't it? We all have times when we just can't make ourselves do what we know we should do...

Andy is representing the fruit stand owner's son and she is paying him with fruit every few days...
  On the way into the office I'm stopped by Sofia Hernandez, standing and waiting for me in front of her fruit stand. She hands me two cantaloupes, the second installment on her son's legal bills.
  "Thank you," I say. "You know, the best thing about being paid in cantaloupes is that they don't bounce."
  She doesn't come close to getting the joke. If a joke is told in a fruit stand and nobody gets it, did it make a sound? (45)
Oh, my. There is so much in this passage. Mainly, though, Rosenfelt demonstrates that humor is always the last nuance of a non-native language that will be understood by a non-native speaker. Humor is so closely tied to the specific culture that it is unfamiliar to the other person. Useful information to have and use! 

Such great descriptions! As he enters the prison's death row to visit with a client:
  The place seems entirely gray, as if I am looking at it through black and white eyes. The stench of hopelessness is everywhere; it feels like the animal shelter in which I found Tara. Everybody in cages, just waiting until it's time to die, knowing no one is coming to set them free. (25)
Whew! That's a pretty strong image and I imagine it is true. 

I admit that I was relieved to hear the truth about his father's actions 40 years earlier, as was Andy. There are several different mysteries involved in this one book, though in some ways they are intertwined. Although this book does involve a "conspiracy" it is not 'formulaic' as I would describe many of the writers who incorporate conspiracies into their mysteries. Rosenfelt is much more involved in the characters' personalities and motivations than just actions, and that's the kind of mystery writer whose works I most enjoy! Oh, it will be difficult not to just immerse myself in the rest of his books immediately! Library wishlist here I come! :)

Have you read any of Rosenfelt's books? 
I would heartily recommend you give this series a try!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Stephanie Plum and vehicles--not a good combination!

Tricky Twenty-Two 
by Janet Evanovich
I found this book to be a bit different from the norm for a Stephanie Plum installment.
Although it was a very enjoyable read, I felt it was a bit more serious and less hilarity all the time! 
That wasn't a bad thing...it just had a bit different feel!


Stephanie asks Morelli, 
  "How did you happen to turn up here?"
  "Dumb luck. I had dinner with Anthony, and I was on my way home when I saw Lula's Firebird parked half a block from a disaster scene. I thought chances were good you'd be involved." (p 8)
He does know her well, doesn't he? :)

And Lula definitely has her own unique 'fashion sense':
  Lula was wearing ankle boots with studs and five-inch spike heels, a black spandex skirt that barely covered her butt, a poison green tank top that was stretched to its limit over her big boobs, and a sparkly, fluffy, pink angora cardigan. Every time she moved, some of the angora floated off the sweater and swirled in the air. (p 15)
Even if I was still young, I can't imagine I would ever dress like Lula does! However, that is definitely part of her 'charm'! :)
Of one perp Lula states,
  "It says here this moron attached the dean of students. I imagine this cut his college career short. I'm no college graduate, but I know you're not supposed to try to kill the dean of students." (p 16)

Speaking of the upcoming meeting with "Gobbles":
  "I just don't want to go all animal on him," [Stephanie] said. "I want to give him a chance to talk."
  "I get that," Lula said. "I'm all about that."
  "No shooting."
  "Sure. Unless it's necessary."
  "I don't think it's going to be necessary."
  "Yeah, but if it is."
  "It won't be." 
  "Boy, you know how to take the fun out of stuff." (p 159)

Stephanie and Lula discussing the fact that Lula is "the worst shot on the planet..."."
  "Boy, that's hurtful. As it happens I have an eyesight problem."
  "I didn't know that. What wrong with your vision?"
  "I can't see real good."
  "What about glasses?"
  "I got them but they ruin my appearance."
  "Are you supposed to wear them when you drive?"
  "Only if I want to see things like signs. I can see big things like cars."
  "Good grief. Put your glasses on."
  Lula searched through her purse, found her glasses, and put them on. They were shocking pink and oversized with rhinestones embedded in the frame. She looked like a black Elton John. (p 183-184)
I felt Janet was dating herself a bit on this one! I remember Elton John's get-ups quite well since that was my young era! I quite remember a concert of his in Indianapolis when I was 20. He was amazing! Of course, I was a bit 'impaired' from overcelebrating by the concert's end, but really, he is quite a showman! 

Morelli is sick and considering quitting the police force...what?!? Really?!? Yep...and...he's made some changes in his personal life!
...Morelli had always seemed invincible to me. He waded through crap every day and it all washed off in the shower. Even as a kid he was constantly getting into trouble and landing on his feet. He broke his leg and he was fine. He was shot and he was fine. Never defeated. And now he was the victim of cramping and diarrhea and he wasn't sounding good. It was so atypical for Morelli that it was hard for me to wrap my head around it. (p 208)
See what I mean about this book seeming a bit more serious? 

As the creepy guy is explaining to Stephanie...
  "Healthcare is just another way of allowing employers and the government to control you. What's the first thing they do when you step into a doctor's office? The take your clothes. It's a power grab. A naked man has no power."
  Clearly he doesn't know Ranger.  (p 212)
Mmmmm...Ha! I bet that's so, Stephanie! We do get quite a bit of Ranger in this book! 

I must admit that when Mintner supposedly just hands over a copy of a student's schedule along with home address, etc., that really could never happen because of FERPA. I can't imagine a bounty hunter commands the same authority as the police...but maybe they do. :) Though Mintner was his own kinda creepy, too! Not as if he was overly concerned with following the law! 

And guess who tackles the main creep in the end? Stephanie? Nope... Lula? Nope... I almost stood up and cheered! 


Did anyone else feel this one was a bit different from the other 21 preceding books?
I really liked it, but didn't feel it was as laugh-out-loud funny.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Goodreads Choice Awards 2015--the finals!!

As we enter the final day of voting to select only ONE winner in each of these categories for the Goodreads Choice Awards 2015, I feel it necessary to follow-up on my Semifinals post. How did I do? (Better than in the past!) :)

Remember, I will only cover the 12 categories in which I read and in which I actually voted: FICTION, MYSTERY & THRILLER, HISTORICAL FICTION, HUMOR, NONFICTION, MEMOIR & AUTOBIOGRAPHY, HISTORY & BIOGRAPHY, SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY, DEBUT GOODREADS AUTHOR, YOUNG ADULT FICTION, MIDDLE GRADE & CHILDREN'S, and PICTURE BOOKS.

Results to be posted December 1st! 

Inside the O'BriensCategory #1--FICTION
I selected Bill Clegg's Did You Ever Have a Family
It is no longer in the running! :( 
Having just completed reading Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff, I am aghast that it received so many votes. I am definitely one of the few for whom this was not an enjoyable read!
I'll go with Lisa Genova's Inside the O'Briens
Though I haven't read this one yet, 
I have read and loved all her other books! 
I imagine A Little Life will win it since I have seen so many absolutely love it as a favorite! And I can believe it might well deserve such an award from reviews I've read!

Category #2--Mystery & Thriller
I am really sorry that The Girl in the Spider's Web 
by David Lagercrantz was voted out.
I've read just one of these books and it was not that enthralling to me. The Girl on the Train was a good suspenseful book, but certainly not one of the best, in my opinion. but I'm going with J.K., uhm...
make that Robert Galbraith's Career of Evil.
Why? Because I can't imagine this series not being excellent! 
It's J.K. Rowling! Come on... :)
I suppose the Hawkins book will win. I remember I couldn't fathom all the pre-publication publicity the publisher pushed through the media for this one. I suppose they will win, though I disagree! :)

The Nightingale by Kristin HannahCategory #3--Historical Fiction
Another favorite genre for me! 
And a category in which the book I selected is still in the running...
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah! YAY!!
I still plan to read Circling the Sun by Paula McLain, 
A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley, 
and In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume.
Also must post review of At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen! 
And don't forget the Little House Read-Along beginning January 2016!

Category #4--Humor
Another category where my selection has actually survived to the finals! YAY again!
Jenny Lawson's Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things must be a hoot! I am still listening to 
Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir 
in the car and still loving it! 
H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

Category #5--Nonfiction
  Yet another where my selection is still hanging
                       in there! YAY!! 
           H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald! 
And, of course, I still want to read all the others I've listed before!
But especially Between the World and Me and Missoula!


The Girl With Seven Names: A North Korean Defector's Story 
by Hyeonseo Lee is still there!! 
YAY AGAIN!!
Though Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder, 
and One Man's Fight for Justice by Bill Browder 
is definitly still high on my TRB list! 

Category #7--History & Biography
And it is still there--Pioneer Girl by Laura Ingalls Wilder!
Needless to say, I am thrilled, not just because I am so very interested in reading this one, but also because...tada! Bex of An Armchair by the Sea and I are co-hosting a Little House Read-Along beginning January 2016 and continuing throughout the year...one book per month! That's doable! 
I just completed a Green Gables Read-Along last year, reading one book per month and I enjoyed it so much I decided to duplicate the format with this series I have NEVER yet read! Seriously, how did I miss this as a young book-reading nerd?!? :) And, I would love to read all the rest!

Category #8--Science & Technology
Sadly, Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman did not survive to the finals. 
Nor did Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel by Carl Safina. :( 
However, both the Case and Sacks are still there! 
I'll vote for The Voices in the Ocean.


Darn! Obioma didn't make it to the final cut! Though that doesn't deter my interest in reading The Fisherman one little bit! :) Girl at War and Everything Everything remain, however, and my vote will go to the former 
since several bloggers I follow loved it.

Category #10--Young Adult Fiction
YAY! All the Bright Places by is still there and will get 
another vote from me!

Another YAY! Ali Benjamin's The Thing About Jellyfish is still there and will get another vote from me! 
I admit it is disappointing that some of the others in which I am so interested were voted out--Crenshaw and A Handful of Stars
Though I am gratified to see 
Robert Beatty's Serafina and the Black Cloak still listed! 
Have I mentioned the Little House Read-Along 
beginning January 2016 yet?!? 
You should join Bex of An Armchair by the Sea and me for this journey! 


Category #12--Picture Books
And one last YAY! 
The Day the Crayons Came Home is still listed 
and will get another vote from me!
Great to see that Winnie also made it to the finals!

If you voted, did your selections make it to the finals?
If you haven't voted yet, there is still time to do so in this final round!
These are reader-selected awards after all! Join in!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

ANNOUNCEMENT: Little House Read-Along for 2016!

It's almost here! 
The end of 2015 and the beginning of a "Wilder" 2016!! 
I love this graphic Bex created! (She's the talented one!) :)
I have wanted to read all the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder for longer than I can remember--
probably as soon as I discovered them! 
How I ever missed them as a child I will never know...but...
that doesn't mean I can't read them now!
And...so can you! Along with Bex and me!
Twitter--#littlehouseRAL
This series was published about 20 years before I was born. 
I can only assume they were in my local library, but I sure didn't realize they were! 
However, I am prepared to 'right this wrong' in 2016!
I did watch the TV series as a child and loved it and I am certain I will love these books!

So, grab your best friend, daughter or son, granddaughter or grandson, niece or nephew, next-door neighbor, blogging friend, any reader in your life and join in! Or just bring yourself!
You will have the opportunity to connect and discuss with others across the globe as we launch into what I'm sure will be an exhilarating reading experience!
We will read the nine books from the boxed set and three (or four) more. 
You can purchase these if you like or check them out from your local library! 
I can't wait to get the set and then send it off to my grandchildren once I've read them all 
at the end of next year. Just in time for End-of-Year giving 
and probably good timing for the age of readers in that household! 
You can purchase from your local independent bookstore, Barnes & Noble  
or Books-A-Million, and there is always Amazon. 
This could be added to your very own "wishlist" as a gift! 

This is a great opportunity to read a whole set of books that qualifies for The Classics Club! This is particularly pertinent for their Women's Classic Literature 2016 event!
In addition, I will count these toward my Historical Fiction reads!
We will read one book per month of the Laura Ingalls Wilder series of Little House books. 
Here is the reading schedule:
                    January 2016            Little House in the Big Woods
                    February 2016           Little House on the Prairie
                    March 2016               Farmer Boy
                    April 2016                  On the Banks of Plum Creek
                    May 2016                  By the Shores of Silver Lake
                    June 2016                 The Long Winter
                    July 2016                   Little Town on the Prairie
                    August 2016              These Happy Golden Years
                    September 2016       The First Four Years
                    October 2016            On the Way Home: The Diary of a Trip from South                                                                       Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894 by Laura                                                                           Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane
                    November 2016        West From Home: Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder,                                                                        San Francisco, 1915 by Laura Ingalls Wilder,                                                                              Roger Lea Macbride, Margot Patterson Doss
                    December 2016        A Wilder Rose by Susan Wittig Albert and/or
                                                     Pioneer Girl by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Pamela Smith Hill

The Albert book, A Wilder Rose, is a well-researched accounting of the literary partnership between Laura and her daughter, Rose. Although they co-wrote this series, they did not make others aware of the collaboration--everyone thought Laura was the sole author.(And yes, this is the same Susan Wittig Albert who writes three series: China Bayles, The Darling Dahlias, and The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter.)

Pioneer Girl is an annotated autobiography and is a bit of a chunkster at 400 pages. 

Please feel free to commit to the whole read-along or you can read only certain books, or jump in and out as you please during the year. We do ask that you use the link below (Crossing my fingers that it will work!) to connect directly to an introductory posting or page on your blog specifically for the Little House Read-Along, and please feel free to use Bex's beautiful graphic on these postings! If you do not have a blog, do not despair! You can still easily participate! There will be introductory posts at the beginning of each month with a link to connect to your review, which could be posted on Goodreads or another similar forum. Or...if you simply wish to participate by commenting, that certainly works, too! 
I'm sure we'll all be commenting on everyone else's reviews, etc., which is the hope!
Sharing is the goal! 
You can follow along each month on my Little House Read-Along 2016 page 
as all postings will be linked there.

Did you know this series of books has its own website? How cool is that?!? 

Additionally, Emily of The Bookshelf of Emily J is a huge fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder and this past spring she visited the Laura Ingalls Wilder house and museum in Mansfield, Missouri
I love the pictures and her descriptions of this experience in the posting. 
(I will link to some of her postings as we progress...)

Have you read any or all of these books before? Or will this be a reread?

It's my first time and I cannot wait! Bex and I are both beyond excited!
Feel free to register below with a link to your introductory posting/page! 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Goodreads Semifinals...voting open until November 15!!


2015 Goodreads Choice AwardsThis posting can be totally blamed on Erin at Manuscripts & Marginalia. Seriously. All. Her. Fault! I started commenting on her blog post about the Goodreads Choice Awards Semifinals, since I finally broke down and voted, and ended up with a paragraph so long that I thought. Shoot! Just a bit more text and this could be a blog post...and here it is! :)

I finally voted. I just always feel so guilty about voting without having read more than one or at least one in the various categories! :) You will probably NEVER see me vote in the HORROR, ROMANCE, or GRAPHIC NOVELS & COMICS categories since I never read in those genres. Likewise, you'll probably rarely ever see me select any title in FANTASY, SCIENCE FICTION, YOUNG ADULT FANTASY, FOOD & COOKBOOKS, or POETRY, since I rarely read anything in these areas. This automatically eliminates 8 of the 20  categories for this year. That makes it a bit easier! :)


Category #1    Fiction
Ah...one of my favorites--FICTION! And so many I wish to read...however, in reality, I have found time to read only one of these, Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg, which I LOVED! I will be reading Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff this week, but that really doesn't count! I suspect I will love this one as well, since many reviewers/bloggers with whom I typically agree have... 

Then the books included in this listing by authors who are favorites for me: Lisa Genova and Harper Lee. (Now you can add Bill Clegg!) 

And then the titles that all sound absolutely fascinating and are on my TBR list: Girl at War, When the Moon is Low, Trail of Broken Wings, and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry

Authors I really really want to read but still haven't yet: Sarah Addison Allen (First Frost), Jojo Moyes (After You), Karen White (The Sound of Glass), Barbara Claypole White (The Perfect Son) and Anne Tyler (A Spool of Blue Thread). I hope to read A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara, if I can handle it, since so many have loved it so much. And I am definitely interested in all the remaining titles, except one, The Royal We doesn't interest me much...

Shall we just say Fiction is definitely my FAVORITE genre? :)

Other fiction favorites I have read this year: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce, The Round House by Louise Erdrich, Growin' Up White by Dwight Ritter (one of my favorite books ever--blog post to come), Finding Jake by Bryan Reardon (excellent, excellent book--blog post to come), One Day by David Nicholls, The Rosie Effect and The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin, and Everything I Never Told You (another absolute favorite) by Celeste Ng.


Category #2     Mystery/Thriller
Although I adore reading a 'good' (to me, at least) mystery, I typically read very few of the authors represented in this semifinal listing. 

I love the Alan Bradley series, but haven't kept up reading them after the second installment. I really should since my husband loves Flavia and this series and owns them all! 
Rather out of character for me, I adored all three of Stieg Larsson's books in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo/Lisbeth Salander series! And, after hearing this NPR interview with David Lagercrantz, I just have to read The Girl in the Spider's Web! Although I own it...yep, you guessed it! I have yet to read it. Though my husband read it and was mightily impressed, feeling that it was a genuine continuation of Lisbeth's life. That is enough recommendation for me, and for all these reasons, though I've not yet experienced it, this book gets my vote! 


I really really want to read Robert Galbraith/JK Rowling's books, but although I own the first two, I have yet to read either one. :( 

The only one listed here that I have read is The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. While it was definitely a page-turner and I could appreciate her writing skills, this one didn't 'knock my hat off,' as they say! It was okay...

I have read one book by several of these authors and didn't enjoy them enough to read any more: David Baldacci, JD Robb, and Harlan Coben. I did enjoy the Daniel Silva book I read, but there are other authors I enjoy much more... And since I typically don't like blood, guts, and gore, I'll probably not read any of the other titles/authors listed here. 

My nominations in this area would have included Crooked River by Valerie Geary and The Black Hour or Little Pretty Things by Lori Rader-Day (reviews of both her books coming here at a later date). 


Category #3    Historical Fiction
The Nightingale by Kristin HannahAn absolute favorite of mine!! Four of my absolute favorite authors are represented here: Sara Gruen (remember Water for Elephants?), Paula McClain (remember The Paris Wife?), Susanna Kearsley (read and loved The Firebird), and Kristin Hannah (read and loved Firefly Lane and Fly Away and Winter Garden). Of these four, I just finished reading At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen and really liked it. Can't say I loved it, but it was definitely a good read for me. (Blog post to come...) Of these, I selected Hannah's The Nightingale. Why? I guess because I feel as if I've read enough of hers that I have absolutely loved and the Goodreads rating is really high. (My copy is currently on loan to a friend, but definitely need to get it back and read it!) 

There are only five of these books listed that I am not super-interested in reading: those by Kate Atkinson and Alice Hoffman (have never felt drawn to these authors), Rebel Queen, Epitaph, and The Taming of the Queen

Truly anxious to read all the rest! 

In this category this year I read and loved the Green Gables series by LM Montgomery, the Al Capone series by Gennifer Choldenko, and of course, and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr (one of my favorite books ever--blog post to come). And I just completed reading Jam On the Vine by LaShonda Katrice Barnett and loved it! 

PLUG! PLUG! FREE ADVERTISEMENT!! Don't forget to join Bex (An Armchair By The Sea) and me beginning January 2016 for a Little House Read-Along throughout 2016! :)


Category #4    Humor
This is a relatively new thing for me. I rarely spend my limited reading time on humorous writing. Though I enjoy reading humor, I just have so many books I really really want to read! However, several months ago I began checking out audiobooks from the library and listening during my commute to and from work five days a week. And I love doing that! It really helps lighten my mood on the way there in the mornings! :)

I have read a Jen Lancaster book about 6 years ago and liked it. However, I am now on the third listen to Let's Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson and I love this woman!! She speaks my language! (Warning: lots of 'bad words' in it!) 
Furiously Happy by Jenny  Lawson
Therefore, I voted for Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, since I'm sure I'll be listening to that one in the near future! And laughing and chuckling my way down the road! :) And how can you NOT laugh just looking at that cover? ;)

I do intend to try out a Mindy Kaling, too. This year I also listened to Yes Please by Amy Poehler and I really liked it. Though I really like her as a person, too! I feel as if I would like for her to be my friend! 


Category #5    Nonfiction
I was rather appalled to note that I didn't read one single nonfiction book this year until just recently, when I completed Victor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy. (Yes, I am hanging my head in shame on that one!) And...I truly love nonfiction. I love to learn. And there really have been so many nonfiction books published within the last few years in which I am truly interested...but...obviously, I have not made that my priority in my 'reading schedule.' That really needs to change
H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald
I voted for H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald just because of the great reviews I've seen for it among bloggers/reviewers I follow and typically agree with... It sounds truly unique and informative! 

I really want to read Krakauer's book, Missoula, since that is a subject near and dear to my heart. I especially appreciate the courage it required for him to be honest in writing the book, as you can learn in the NPR interview with him. Neither Big Magic nor Modern Romance is all that appealing to me, but again, having heard and read so much positive feedback about both, I am rather interested. Rising StrongHumans of New York, and Better Than Before all interest me a lot! Guant├ínamo Diary, Ghettoside, and especially Between the World and Me are must-reads! 


Category #6    Memoir & Autobiography
The Girl with Seven Names by Hyeonseo LeeHonestly, only two strike me in this category. The most striking is The Girl With Seven Names: A North Korean Defector's Story. Really, what could be more informative than learning of brutalitarian (I am proclaiming this as a valid word!) regimes as those of North Korea? To escape to a foreign country, learn a new language and acclimate, and THEN to return and rescue your family...wow...that is beyond heroic and courageous! 

Red Notice is the only other one I would like to read, though it brings tears to my eyes just reading the Goodreads synopsis... 


Category #7    History & Biography
Pioneer Girl by Laura Ingalls WilderI had to vote for Pioneer Girl by Laura Ingalls Wilder...because...[PLUG! PLUG!] Bex of An Armchair by the Sea and I are co-hosting a Little House Read-Along beginning in January 2016!! YAY!! Watch for information and details soon! (I may have already mentioned that...)  :)

And there are so many in the category that are on my TBR list! Honestly, anything written by Sara Vowell or Erik Larson! I actually own Dead Wake, so it needs to be read soon! :) The Dead Duke, His Secret Wife, and the Missing Corpse: An Extraordinary Edwardian Case of Deception and Intrigue looks fascinating! I would hope I can stand to read Ravensbr├╝ck: Life and Death in Hitler's Concentration Camp for Women, because honestly, that should be the least I could do... The same for Born Survivors since reading the Goodreads synopsis has my eyes welling...to think of being pregnant and in the same camp with Mengele! Oh...it makes my heart hurt. And we here in the US should probably all be forced to read Nagasaki: Life After Nuclear War...because there are consequences... Ashley's War looks to be good, and my book club loved The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, also written by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon... I can't imagine When Books Went to War and The Wright Brothers wouldn't also be well worth the reading time. 

And although I typically don't tend to read much about "famous people," I am rather fascinated by Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter, especially after having heard part of the NPR interview with Kate Clifford Larson

Category #8    Science & Technology
NeuroTribes by Steve SilbermanHonestly, all these books interest me so much, I'm relatively certain I would heartily enjoy reading any of them! However, NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity is a compelling topic for me. Diversity is extremely important to me in so many aspects of my life, as it is for the survival of the human race in so many ways (think biodiversity). I truly believe we are going to discover the value of embracing all, regardless of their abilities to communicate and process in expected ways... 

Second on my list would be Beyond Words: What Animals Think and Feel. I realize that overall we humans totally short-change animals, assuming that we alone understand virtually EVERYTHING about the world and they know nothing! But we are the stupidly arrogant ones for believing that to be so. I believe elephants to be one of the best examples currently... And if you've not yet read The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony, then you have missed it...totally...missed IT!!! Get it now! :)

Having read and loved The Wave by Susan Casey, I would love to read The Voices in the Ocean. Again, especially after hearing part of her NPR interview! (Yes, I am an NPR NERD!!) Oliver Sacks' On the Move is a wonderful read, I am sure! He is/was amazing! Here's an NPR presentation about him...

Whew! Only 4 more categories to go...this is exhausting...and exhilarating! :) Okay...


Category #9    Debut Goodreads Author
The Fishermen by Chigozie ObiomaI am totally enamored with The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma! It was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize this year. I really must fit this one in...soon!! :)

I keep hearing so much about Dietland, but I still can't get truly interested enough to want to read it. I definitely want to read Girl at War and maybe Everything, Everything....

                   Category #10    Young Adult Fiction
All the Bright Places by Jennifer NivenI've not read much of anything in this category this year. My vote went to one that has been on top of one of my TBR piles for sooooooo long! I have read rave reviews and have been told Niven uses settings local to where I currently live. It is All the Bright Places and it must be read by year's end. Really. It. Must. :) I've also owned Velva Jean Learns to Drive, also written by Niven, for several years now and it also hasn't been read! Yikes!!

Last year, I read Eleanor & Park, The Fault in Our Stars, Looking for Alaska, and Paper Towns--all of which I loved!! Paper Towns was my least favorite of these four, but I did still love it! But if you've not read any of these, at least read the first two! Truly classics, in my opinion! I look forward to reading more of Green! 

Only two more! YAY!! 


Category #11    Middle Grade & Children's 
The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali BenjaminWith 11 grandchildren, I adore this category. I love nothing more than puchasing books for them, reading them, then delivering to these adorable kids! Then...if they read them, we can discuss! No greater joy for this bibliomaniac grandma! I plan to purchase The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin, read and review it, then pass it along--hopefully all before year's end! This book appeals to me on all levels: the cover is fascinating, the story line sounds both familiar and unique, and the title is enthralling to me! (I can't wait!) I still adore reading children's literature! 

Serafina and the Black Cloak looks amazing, too! And Echo sounds wonderful! I'm really interested to read A Handful of Stars, as well as Rules, the 2007 Newbery Honor book also authored by Cynthia Lord. The War That Saved My Life and The Penderwicks in Spring look to be good reads, too! And, of course, Crenshaw looks to be absolutely amazing!!! My book club read The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate last year and adored it! (I really need to post a review!) Can't imagine this newer release about a cat won't be wonderful, too! And...it's a cat!!! (We share our house with five felines!

My finds in this area from this year include the Al Capone series by Gennifer Choldenko--excellent historical fiction and wonderfully vibrant and well-drawn characterization! I love her writing! And don't forget L.M. Montgomery's Green Gable series! Amazing! Rascal: A Memoir of a Better Era by Sterling North was another winning title, though I truly finished it at the end of 2014, I'm cheating to include it here as an 'almost' 2015 read! All three of these mentions also qualify as great historical fiction! 

And...I may have mentioned the upcoming Little House Read-Along with myself and Bex, to begin January 2016! An excellent opportunity to involve your children/grandchildren/whomever in a reading activity. Just one book per month! Details to be published next week! 


The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew DaywaltCategory #12    Picture Books
Ah, I adore almost all picture books! I voted for The Day The Crayons Came Home simply because this series has been so highly recommended. I probably will purchase at least one for my grandchildren, to see! And really, every single one of the others looks to be fantastic. Perhaps Last Stop on Market Street and Winnie grabbed my attention the most of those remaining...but really, how can you miss with a picture book?!? :)

How did you vote? What is your criteria?