Friday, September 5, 2014

Review: Big LIttle Lies by Liane Moriarty

Summary (courtesy of Goodreads):  Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . .   A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?
What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.   But who did what?
  Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:   Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).
Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.   New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

And here's what I thought:  I wound up enjoying this a heck of a lot more than I thought I would.   I had read another book by this author, The Husband's Secret, and thought it was ok, but forgettable.   This book, on the other hand, was a page-turner!

I think I might have enjoyed this book partly because it felt like a voyeuristic glance into the lives of three women who are completely unlike me.  I liked how the author gave us the stories of all three main female characters, so that you get the whole story coming from their different viewpoints, with some of their own stories about their lives, as well.   Contributing to this are the different viewpoints from other characters, even if they are quite minor, which are sprinkled throughout the book.   There is a constant referring to a horrible incident on trivia night, but you don't get there until almost the end of the story, so it's a constant buildup throughout the book.   I liked the pacing, and I kept turning the pages because I was just dying to know what was going to happen (and then, when I got to it, let out a big gasp .... out loud, waking up my husband, who was sleeping next to me while I was reading in bed, staying up past my usual bedtime, and continuing to turn the pages even though my left arm was getting pins and needles).

Anyway, back to this story ----

Is it serious literature?  No.  And it's not meant to be.   But, I found it to be a really good story, with characters that I cared about, and could clearly envision.  In fact, the author does a great job with the minor characters, and I found I could clearly see them in my head, as well.   I got caught up enough in this book that I was sneaking a few pages of reading when I was supposed to be doing housework (which really, can always wait another half-hour, right?), just because I really wanted to know what was going to happen to the characters.   This was a fun read, but one that also made me think a bit about relationships --- ones between husbands and wives, and ones between friends.


First lines:  "That doesn't sound like a school trivia night," said Mrs. Patty Ponder to Marie Antoinette.  "That sounds like a riot."

Sunday, August 24, 2014

I'm back! And to begin my back-to-posting, I'm sharing this about using your Library

I got caught up in my library's Summer Read program ... and all of the other additional responsibilities that got put on my plate.   So, I let blogging slide.   But, I have read some good books lately, and plan on getting back into blogging.

Photo courtesy of Book Riot post
So, to start my back-to-posting, I wanted to share this wonderful post over at BookRiot which shows everyone 6 ways to become a Power User of the Public Library.    I'm sharing this because not only am I a Librarian (so, of course, I want everyone to use their local library), but also because even before I got my MLIS, I was a library power user.    And, so I want to make everyone who might read this aware of how much their library can do for them.

Here's an example from the Book Riot post: 3. Make use of the Interlibrary Loan System – and respect itSince the public library can only carry so much, since its focus is not on being an archive or repository for all books, and because the collection is tailored to the community being served, sometimes you want a book and it’s no where to be found. Rather than request it for purchase, ask about interlibrary loan.The interlibrary loan system (ILL) is a country-wide, interconnected system of libraries that agree to lend items to one another. The libraries within the system include public, academic/college, and special libraries, meaning the pool of available titles is massive. If you’re looking for a rare book or a specialty title, your library may be able to track it down and request it for you via ILL.
I know I posted a long time ago about interlibrary loan, but it's something that I like to remind people about.   Just because you don't see something on a library's shelves does not mean it's not available.   First, it could just be checked out by someone else.   Ask a staff member to check this -- because if something is checked out, they can put it on hold for you.   And if your library doesn't own something, ask if you can get it through interlibrary loan.    It's almost impossible for a library to own every single book, or every single CD or DVD, etc.   Unless it's the Library of Congress .... and that library doesn't work like a public library.   However, interlibrary loan lets libraries share their collections with each other --- and it's pretty easy.   And, most of the time, it's free.

So, if you ever wanted to know some of what your Library can do for you, go check out the Book Riot post and then go to your own library and see what kind of services they have.   :)

Monday, May 5, 2014

Review: The Museum of Extraordinary Things by Alice Hoffman

Summary (courtesy of Goodreads): Coralie Sardie is the daughter of the sinister impresario behind The Museum of Extraordinary Things, a Coney Island boardwalk freak show that thrills the masses. An exceptional swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father's museum, alongside performers like the Wolfman, the Butterfly Girl, and a one-hundred-year-old turtle.
One night Coralie stumbles upon a striking young man taking pictures of moonlit trees in the woods off the Hudson River. The dashing photographer is Eddie Cohen, a Russian immigrant who has run away from his father's Lower East Side Orthodox community and his job as a tailor's apprentice. When Eddie photographs the devastation on the streets of New York following the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes embroiled in the suspicious mystery behind a young woman's disappearance and ignites the heart of Coralie.
With its colorful crowds of bootleggers, heiresses, thugs, and idealists, New York itself becomes a riveting character as Hoffman weaves her trademark magic, romance, and masterful storytelling to unite Coralie and Eddie in a sizzling, tender, and moving story of young love in tumultuous times.

And here's what I thought:   I am a big fan of this author's books, so I had been looking forward to this newest one.   And, I wasn't disappointed (whew!) --- I thought this was a great book.  I already had some knowledge of some of the history of Coney Island, and so I really enjoyed that the author worked in a lot of realistic, historic elements into this book. Setting the story against a real backdrop, and working in events from history, Hoffman gives us characters who feel realistic, as well.

The story alternates with viewpoints, between Coralie and Eddie.  This means that you get some of the same storyline coming from different viewpoints, which is something I enjoy.  I liked Coralie, even though she's a bit odd at times, because I felt she was a sympathetic character.  I felt caught up in her story, and then, as Eddie's story progressed, I felt caught up in his life.  The fact that I worried for both of them at different times is an indication to me of well-written characters.

Like some of her other books, Hoffman works some elements into the story that feel somewhat magical, even if it's just something that has a slight tinge of magic.  I like this, because it gives it the edge of what I like to think of as "realistic fantastical" -- that is, the idea that perhaps our own world could have little bits of magic, if you're lucky enough to see them.

If you'd like to read more about Dreamland and Luna Park, this Brooklyn Museum page has information.   And, there's always Wikipedia, which has a few images, as well.

First lines:  You would think it would be impossible to find anything new in the world, creatures no man has ever seen before, one-of-a-kind oddities in which nature has taken a backseat to the coursing pulse of the fantastical and the marvelous.  I can tell with certainty that such things exist, for beneath the water thee are beasts as huge as elephants with hundreds of legs, and in the skies, rocks thrown alit from the heavens burn through the bright air and fall to earth.  There are men with such odd characteristics they must hide their faces in order to pass through the streets unmolested, and women who have such peculiar features they live in rooms without mirrors.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

World Book Night!

My World Book Night (morning) experience was a lot of fun!   A friend of mine from work and I had decided to do it together (which makes it a lot less intimidating), and went to our local train station this morning to give away books to commuters.   She had copies of  The Perks of Being a Wallflower and I had copies of Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain.    Most people were happy to receive a book, although a few seemed a little weirded out by us.   I think it's because people just aren't used to someone handing them a free book.   With a smile.

I was happy that I was able to persuade a few people who said "no" --- especially the guy who then took a copy of my book, telling me that he hadn't read a "paper book" in about 3 years.   Of course, I told him that he was in for a good read (which is true --- I've read this book and enjoyed it).   So, I hope he enjoyed his commute into Chicago with his free book this morning.

So, overall, we had a great experience -- and I hope we're able to participate again in 2015!    Hopefully, the commuters who got our books will enjoy them (and be the envy of all their co-workers, who may have passed up a chance for a free book).     :)

Happy World Book Night, everyone!!

Monday, April 21, 2014

First post in a while --- about World Book Night and being a giver!

I'm getting back into blogging this week, so I figured a good way to begin would be to quickly post about World Book Night.   One of my friends from work and I will be participating this coming Wednesday, giving away books at the local train station.  This is the first time I've participated, although I've known about World Book Night for ages.

So, we'll be going to the train station in the morning and seeing how many people will take our books!    Yes, I know it's World Book Night but I have to work that night until 9:00 pm and I'm in a pretty small town, with really no places that are open that late.   So, we're catching early morning commuters.   After all, why not start the day with a free book, right?

I've got copies of Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, so I'm hoping I get some takers.  My friend has The Perks of Being a Wallflower, so we've got two completely different kinds of books.   Should be fun!   I'll post on Wednesday evening on my work break with a follow-up on how it goes.    :)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Review; Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

Summary (courtesy of Goodreads):   The extraordinary journey that began in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children continues as Jacob Portman and his newfound friends journey to London the peculiar capital of the world. But in this war-torn city, hideous surprises lurk around every corner. Like its predecessor, this second novel in the Peculiar Children series blends thrilling fantasy with never-before-published vintage photography to create a one-of-a-kind reacting experience.

And here's what I thought:  I thought this was a great second book, and was really engaging, even though it had many dark moments.  The fact that these children are caught in a time loop in London during WWII is very frightening.  And the author doesn't shy away from these dark and scary things at all --- I was pretty worried at times during the book.  But, I like that -- I'd rather be worried about characters than not care about them at all.

I like how in the very first part, we are given the photos and names of the Peculiar children (which is helpful to reacquaint oneself).  The author also gives a bit of information about what happened at the end of the first book -- which was great, since it had been a while since I had read that first book.  I was able to pick up and just go, without needing to re-read the first book.

The author has a wonderful writing style, with a really visual element to the prose, so it's easy to imagine the settings and the children.    The fact that the settings are very real (most of them, anyway) make the tension in the book very palpable - it's easy to imagine these children in the dangerous situations they find themselves in.

And of course --- there is a cliffhanger ending.  Next book, please!

First lines:  We rowed out through the harbor, past bobbing boats weeping rust from their seams, past juries of silent seabirds roosting atop the barnacled remains of sunken docks, past fishermen who lowered their nets to stare frozenly as we slipped by, uncertain whether we were real or imagined; a procession of waterborne ghosts, or ghosts soon to be.  We were ten children and one bird in three small and unsteady boats, rowing with quiet intensity straight out to sea, the only safe harbor for miles receding quickly behind us, craggy and magical in the blue-gold light of dawn.  Our goal, the rutted coast of mainland Wales, was somewhere before us but only dimply visible, an inky smudge squatting along the far horizon.

Monday, March 31, 2014

And now, our regularly scheduled programming shall resume ......

Well, somehow the entire month of March has disappeared and I haven't blogged.  At least, I don't think I have ....  that's how bad it is.  I can't even remember what I did this month.

February went by in a flash, but I figured that once I finished the online class I was taking, I'd be able to get back to my normal schedule.   But ....
Apparently, during March, what I did was: go to work, bring work home, think about work, not be able to get to sleep right away because I was thinking about work, wake up and think about work .....     and fit all of that into the rest of my life, where one of our bunnies had a bit of an emergency happen.   So, I guess you can fit "vet visits" into all the work stuff somewhere.   This is what I feel like:
This bunny is not dead.   It is actually happily flopped and most likely sleeping.  I, however, feel like this bunny looks.

But, my bunny is much better now.  And, the work stuff should lighten up shortly (at least, the kind-of-work-related-but-not-actually-part-of-my-real-job project that I work on at home).  I am looking forward to getting back to blogging (because I actually have been reading some books).   So, it may be mid-April when it actually happens, but it will happen.

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