Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday for May 17!

Top Ten Books I Picked Up on a Whim!
This is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
I participate when I have an interest in the topic and have the time!
See my previous TTT posts here.

This represents yet another way in which I miss working at Borders!
There were sooooooo many times I read books just because...

#1  They were available FREE to employees!
There was a small bookcase in the employee break room and 
you could select one free item per shift worked from the various 
published books and ARCs provided to the store.

#2  They were recommended as a "Fiction Expert" read and 
I was a "Fiction Expert" for my store.

#3  They were selected by the 'powers that be' at Borders as a "make book,"
which meant that as an employee we were expected to encourage patrons 
to consider it for purchase, and they were hopeful 
we would read it so we would be familiar with it.
(And I'm sure their hope was we would love it and highly recommend it!)

#4  A huge advantage of working in a bookstore was being able to literally 
pluck a book off the shelf and read it! 

#5  With my employee discount the book only cost me $.25-$1.00!
NOTE: I quickly abandoned my policy of not purchasing new books 
until I had read those I currently owned once I became a Borders bookseller.
This is the main reason my house is now 
And more books!
And more books!

The Aviator's WifeAlice I Have BeenOne of my favorite books, Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin, was a freebie ARC from the Borders break room. I am so very glad to have read that and discovered this author, who is now one of my very favorites! I adored The Aviator's Wife about Anne Morrow Lindbergh, which was a Literary Wives title! And although I own a copy of 
Mrs. Tom ThumbThe Swans of Fifth AvenueThe Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb, I have yet to read it. And...Melanie informed me that is her favorite of the books she has written. (Though that was prior to the release of her newest title, The Swans of Fifth Avenue, so I suppose that could have changed!) I met her in January when she was in the local area for a book signing and presentation! Now I have signed and personally inscribed copies of her two most recent releases! Yay! :)

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Moon Tiger by Penelope Lively is a book 
I simply grabbed while at the library, 
knowing little to nothing about it. 
What a pleasant surprise! In so many ways. 
And it certainly fits as a feminist read, 
and a contemplation of long-term relationships
and/or marriage! 
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A book I grabbed at a library sale, Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko, is the first in a children's series that I absolutely adore! I also read and reviewed the next two: Al Capone Shines My Shoes and Al Capone Does My Homework. I also read and loved her newest release, Chasing Secrets. (Blog post still not completed!) 
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Another book sale find was Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman. This book is the reason I read books: such well-defined characters and their interrelationships! I so enjoyed her writing and feel I will enjoy anything she writes! Though I really want to read (and own) Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, her debut novel, I have yet to do so. 

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I don't remember exactly how I came upon South of Superior by Ellen Airgood, but I am so glad I did! this was an exceptional story, though not a ton of action, but an intriguing study of characterization and relationships--biological versus "selective"/"chosen" bonds. A group of our friends and ourselves were just discussing this past weekend how we are all "family" to each other and how "friends are family we choose." So very very true! (Admittedly perhaps truer for some of us than for others...) I followed this with her next release, Prairie Evers, which I adored! It can perhaps best be summed up by this quote from Prairie: 
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                                   "In a pack of coyotes, everyone watches 
                                       out for one another: they are a team. 
It works that way with coyotes and cats and chickens, 
and I think it ought to work that way with people too." (140)
I so agree with you, Prairie! Although this did have a "happy ending," it wasn't totally unrealistic, and I loved the relationship between Prairie and Ivy. Good deeds don't always have the expected positive results, do they?

I picked up a copy of Hounded by David Rosenfelt at a local library sale. I discovered this was the 12th installment of 14 books published thus far in his Andy Carpenter series. I read about 15 pages and decided I liked it well enough that I wanted to read the whole series, but I definitely always want to start at the beginning, so I have now read the first five: Open and Shut, First Degree, Bury the Lead, Sudden Death, and Dead Center. Each of these books contains a solid "mystery," and also makes me laugh. I resonate so well with Rosenfelt's rather snarky usually self-deprecating humor! And these should definitely be read in sequence, as the characters evolve throughout. I am ready to read the sixth installment, Play Dead. I do not own a copy of this one, so will need to check it out from the library. However, I already have a copy of Blackout, a stand-alone just released this last January (2016), checked out so will read that first! I am curious to see how his writing strikes me in a book that is not in the Andy Carpenter series. I think I will like it, but you never know until you try! :) 
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Lady Parts by Andrea Martin was another impulse checkout from the library. I loved her laughing portrait on the cover and it drew me in. And, regardless of the Steve Martin (Yes, THAT Steve Martin, and no, no relation.) suggested the title "Perky Tits," I, for one, feel Lady Parts definitely works as a title... Good choice, Andrea! :) I initially listened to the audio book during my work commute and then decided to read it so I could review it 'properly'! :)

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Though I am saddened that I have not yet composed a blog post about this book, it really is a book every single person should read, especially those among us who feels their life is at least 'okay' and relatively stable--if you have a roof over your head, food to eat, and you are fairly comfortable every day, wherever you live, it is a Taj Mahal compared to any 'home' in Annawadi. Trust me on this. So very true. Katherine Boo's Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity. It was awarded the National Book Award for Nonfiction in 2012, and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction in 2013. Though such awards do not mean you'll love reading any specific book, you will definitely find this one to be eye-opening at the very least. It was horrific to me in many ways, but I'm glad to know what life (and death) can mean for so many on this planet, day in and day out. Purely survival, it would seem. Though, there are some who do manage to grow and develop--evolve, if you will--beyond this immersion in corruption, thievery, and suppression! These people do not just 'live in poverty'...
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Image result for margarita wednesdays deborah rodriguez cover imageReturn to the Little Coffee Shop of Kabul, Deborah RodriguezKabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil by Deborah Rodriguez was certainly not at all what I expected from the title and cover image. I suspect the publisher of adding the subtitle and 
selecting this cover image for a more 'sensationalistic' effect overall. I happened across this book while working at Borders and planning reads for the "cross-cultural book club" I had established. Running a beauty shop may seem to be a very small or even meaningless contribution, but it was so very much more! And that, in no small part, was due to Deborah's vivacious energy and ability to connect with people and make them comfortable. Those are such valuable skills! Now I want to read others she has published since: 
The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul
Image result for the house on carnaval street deborah rodriguez cover imageReturn to the Little Coffee Shop of Kabul, The House on Carnaval Street, and Margarita Wednesdays: Making a New Life by the Mexican Sea.

The Red Hat Club by Haywood Smith was a winner for me! Although I can't remember exactly how I came to own this book, I have a vague memory that it may have been a Borders bargain book at one point in time. I loved this book as did all the other book club members! (They decided to read it, too!) I have also read the sequel, 
The Red Hat Club Rides Again, but I wasn't as enthralled by the sequel, mainly due to it's theme of doing whatever it takes (plastic surgery, etc.) to 'avoid aging' and 'look younger.' The writing in this book was just as good, however, and I laughed and enjoyed Smith's humor just as much as I had with the first book. Then I read the third (and final, thus far) installment in this Red Hat Club series, Wedding Belles. This premise provided for much hilarity and stress....especially for Georgia, whose 28-year-old daughter is marrying "Wild Man Wade" from these ladies' cohort/age group! Yikes! Your daughter marrying a man you went to school with and you know most of his deep dark secrets! However, they all discover that people can change...for the better! I also read Ladies of the Lake and really enjoyed it. I enjoyed Queen Bee of Mimosa Branch and now want to read the sequel, Queen Bee Goes Home Again. Her writing style definitely resonates with me! 

What have you read lately that you just picked up on a whim?
Was it a good reading experience for you?

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