The tyranny of library due dates

I really love the ability to put books on hold and renew books online at my library. However, being the book addict that I am I am prone to checking my account once or twice a day. No harm done, except for when I realize that four best sellers have come in at once, and they're all due next week, and they can't be renewed because they all have multiple holds on them.

That's when I start feeling rage similar to what the Incredible Hulk must feel.

Why am I expected to work when I have books to read? Why do my kids want to eat when I have books to read? Why do I have to talk to other people when I have books to read?

You wouldn't like me when I'm angry. Leave me alone and let me read my book.

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My favorites from Books on the Nightstand

Like most people I was sad but understanding when Ann and Michael decided to pull the plug on the Books on the Nightstand podcast. It doesn't take years of listening to deduce how much work went into recording that show.

This podcast was always the one I never forgot to download, and I would usually listen to an episode two to three times so I could get all of the bookish info straight. I'll miss it, but luckily there's a large backlog of episodes to go back to. Here are some of my favorites:

Episode #376 - Ten Books, a Whale, and a Library Farm - The "Don't You Forget About Me" feature was my favorite, and this episode had an especially good one.

Episode #357 - Planning ahead to 2016 - Reading goals are one of my favorite things to think about.

Episode #346 - AirB and Bookstore - Great for daydreaming.

Episode #327 - Jynne Martin Helps Me Solve My Poetry Problem - Poetry! It's not just by dead guys.

Episode #304 - Wait...What Just Happened? - I thought it was just me.

As you can see all of my favorites are from the past few years. Lucky me, I get to ease the pain of no new episodes by listening to the ones that aired before I "discovered" this podcast. Any recommendations on where to start?


If you're waiting for the next Robert Galbraith book..

Maybe you're like me and have read all three of the Robert Galbraith mysteries. Maybe not having a new one has left a hole in your reading life. For me, the Bill Hodges trilogy by Stephen King has been filling that hole a bit. THESE ARE NOT HORROR STORIES! They're mysteries, and they remind me a lot of the Strike series. Do not let your preconceived notions of Stephen King stop you from giving these a try.

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June 2016 Quick Lit

Each month I link with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit as a way to talk about the books I liked, but didn't review.

Summer reading is in full swing!

Friday night = book + lawn chair + mojito

Life is good.

I read The Daylight Marriage by Heidi Pitlor because a bookstore I am known to frequent advertised it as similar to Gone Girl. Well, it was similar to Gone Girl because there's a missing wife. However Gone Girl was like watching a train wreck, while The Daylight Marriage actually had characters that were flawed, but you could get invested in them. You actually wanted a happy ending. It was more of a warning than a thriller.

Jane, the Fox, and Me by Fanny Britt was a quick read about a lonely girl in Canada, and her adventures making friends and reading Jane Eyre. I don't usually read comics or graphic novels, but quite enjoyed this one. 

We listened to The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley in the car, and absolutely loved it. If you're looking for a listen for your summer family road trip look no further. It was a great story - likeable characters, interesting for me and the kids, and got us talking about history. Plus the narrator had an accent that made her sound just like Mary from Downton Abbey.

I tried to read The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza a few months ago, and couldn't get into it. Then I listened to the What Should I Read Next follow up show, and decided to give the audiobook a try. Wow, having someone scream out emojis added so much to the story. Crazy in a good way. Pure entertainment.

Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman reminded me of the books I've read by Kate Morton. It had that same sense of gentle mystery to it. This book is 500+ pages, but I read it over a weekend because it was just so easy to curl up with. Perfect lawn chair reading.

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REVIEW: Home Cooked by Anya Fernald with Jessica Battilana

Home Cooked is the kind of cookbook that you just want to curl up and read. The recipes are great, but the stories and background information are just as great. Home Cooked focuses on the foods many of us don't usually take the time to cook, but don't mind spending a Saturday afternoon reading about how to cook them - lard, sausages, condiments, the list goes on.

My husband saw me reading this book, and demanded to know when I would be cooking something from it. I decided on "The Greatest Pork Spareribs" and they were amazing! Everyone in my family loved the flavor, and there was nothing complicated about the recipe at all. I made the rub and put it on the meat early in the morning, went to the water park all day with my kids, came home exhausted, and threw them in the oven for a few hours. This is a recipe we'll enjoy again and again this summer.

Get this book if you love cookbooks you can cuddle up with. It would also make a great gift for someone who really takes food seriously.

Note: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a honest review.

Linked to Wake Up Wednesday

REVIEW: Grandma Gatewood's Walk

I'll be forty years old soon, and I've kind of been feeling it in my knees and lower back. Plus my metabolism isn't what it used to be, and some medication I've been taking has been making it hard to catch my breath. I was beginning to worry my hiking days were ending. Then I read Grandma Gatewood's Walk by Ben Montgomery. Um yeah, if she did it, I need to stop being a wimp and keep on hiking.

Grandma Gatewood hiked the Appalachian Trail in her late 60's. Part of the time she couldn't see due to broken glasses, and she kept going any way. I don't even go to the bathroom in the middle of the night if I can't find my glasses. Plus her equipment was lacking. She hiked from Georgia to Maine with little more than some food, a shower curtain, an umbrella, and a pair of Keds on her feet. Her amazing athletic accomplishments don't even account for the serious abuse she had to overcome before she hit the trail.

If you're looking for some great summer reading, something inspiring, or a down right amazing adventure story Grandma Gatewood's Walk by Ben Montgomery won't disappoint. This is going to be one of my most memorable reads all year!


I think this is the best Books on the Nightstand Summer BINGO card I've ever gotten. There isn't a single square that I'm not excited about filling in. As of right now, here's what I'm leaning towards as far as my BINGO reading list.

A mental health memoir: Girl, Interrupted

A dark, upsetting, or sad book: We Need To Talk About Kevin

Written by an author you've met: 168 Hours

Cozy Mystery: All Shall Be Well

Published before 1900: Wuthering Heights

An audiobook: The Knockoff

From the Harvard Classics 5 foot shelf: Pride and Prejudice

That you loved as a child: Baby-Sitter's Club (one of the new graphic novels.)

Set in Australia: Wildflower Hill

With a happy ending: The Little Beach Street Bakery (I'm assuming from the cover. It has a picture of a cupcake with the beach in the background.)

A Newberry or Caldecott winner: The War That Saved My Life

Horror: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

Travel writing: My American Revolution

Published in 2016: Eligible

Set at (or near) the North or South Pole: Letters from Father Christmas

Shortest book on your TBR: O Pioneers!

Mentioned on the Gilmore Girls: Ella Minnow Pea

Currently on the nonfiction bestseller list: Rise of the Rocket Girls

That spans multiple generations: The Baker's Daughter

Set in Africa: O, Africa! (I'm disapointed in the selection for this one. Why has no one written a multi-generational historical novel about Africa?)

A retelling of a classic: Northanger Abbey

Nonfiction: Grandma Gatewood's Walk

With a day of the week in the title: The Wednesday Wars

Nonfiction about your hometown or state: Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter

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My summer reading list

My son is so wrapped up in sports that we don't even recognize months in this house any more. We just have soccer season, baseball season, basketball season, etc. Reading is my sport, and summer is undoubtedly my sport's season. I spent way more time than is normal this week coming up with my summer reading list.

(Need inspiration for your own list? Try Modern Mrs. Darcy's Summer Reading Guide and Summer Reading BINGO from Books on the Nightstand.)

To read's description of these books click on any of the images.

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Halftime Reading Goals Progress

Can you believe it? 2016 is half over. Any resolutions I made to improve myself in January have been long abandoned, except for the ones related to reading. I'm still trying to meet my 2016 reading goals for non-fiction, reading out loud, and classics.

Goal #1:

Read 50 non-fiction books, at least 40 from a list I curated from my TBR.

Progress: I have read 28 non-fiction books so far this year, but only ten are from my list. I'm in the middle of a huge book from my list now, so progress will be made this summer.

Goal #2:

Read the 5 chapter books on this list out loud to my kids.

Progress: I have read three chapter books out loud to my kids (plus numerous story books), but none were from my list. Not to fear, we have started two books from the list, so this shouldn't be a total shut out.

Goal #3:

Read these 8 classics in 2016.

I've read 3/8, almost half of my list. I would have read Grapes of Wrath too, but for some reason I've been waiting for weeks for my library hold.

Reading Challenges:

Modern Mrs. Darcy's reading challenge:

I only have 2 books left for this one -- "A book chosen by your sibling, spouse, child, or BFF", and "A book that was banned at some point".

BookRiot's Read Harder Challenge:

I've read 10/24 books for this challenge. Time to step it up! I'm starting with my selection for 500+ pages - City on Fire.

Books on the Nightstand Summer Reading BINGO:

I am super excited for my BINGO card - this is my 3rd year doing this, and I think it's my best yet.  I usually try to read the whole square, and I usually get pretty close.


I started the year with 400 books on my TBR, and am down to 383. Not bad, since I feel like I've added about a thousand books since summer reading lists started coming out.

Happy reading!

REVIEW: A Fine Imitation by Amber Brock

A Fine Imitation by Amber Brock is everything you could want in a beach read, if you happen to be going somewhere warm this weekend. It's the story of Vera, a rich but lonely woman drinking her way through 1920's New York. Vera is so rich she doesn't know how to make tea, but with all her comforts she's never been allowed a bit of fun or self expression. Even when she's tried her very proper mother or socially conscious husband has shut it down. Enter a mysterious European artist, and, well, you know.

This book is not one that will change your life with its prose. It's not The Great Gatsby. This book has characters you can root for, a backstory that keeps you interested, and a satisfying ending. If you're sitting in the sand sipping a drink, isn't that exactly what you're looking for?

Note: I received this book as part of Library Thing's Early Reviewers program in exchange for an honest review. Links to are affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

REVIEW: Braving It by James Campbell

I tossed this book into my work bag at the last minute, then almost missed my metro stop because I was so engrossed.

Braving It by James Campell bills itself as "a powerful and affirming story of a father's journey with his teenage daughter to the far reaches of Alaska.". I really appreciated that Campell focused more on the journeys that make up the story than the father/daughter stuff. By making the story about the adventure, and by not trying too hard to make this a memoir about father daughter relationships the relationship stuff shone through naturally. He didn't force it down your throat. He told a really thrilling story made all the better because it was shared by a father and a daughter.

I have a touch of wanderlust in me, and Campbell's vivid descriptions of Alaska turned an itch to visit into something I must scratch soon. The descriptions of the rivers, animals, and mountains were glorious. I also enjoyed that he often used quotes from literature to help tell his story.

I highly recommend this one if you love a good armchair hiking story. It would also be great if you're looking to get your own dear Dad a gift for Father's Day.

Note: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a honest review.

May 2016 Quick Lit

Each month I link with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit as a way to talk about the books I liked, but didn't review.

I finally got around to reading Northanger Abbey, and liked it a lot. The ending was kind of meh, but the character of Catherine was crazy in an awesome way. I loved all of her wacky scenarios.

I'm still on my travel writing kick, hence, my impulsive use of an audiobook credit on Albert Podell's Around the World In 50 Years. This one grew on me. I didn't agree with all of "Big Al's" opinions, but I was fascinated by the logistics of traveling to every country in the world. I also appreciated that he seemed to spend a fair bit of time in every country. He wasn't just traveling to check things off his list; he really seemed to take time with each country.

Ever wondered what it's like to be Mormon in New York City? The New York Regional Singles Halloween Dance by Elna Baker was an interesting account of what seems to be a pretty big struggle. It was sometimes shallow, but also very sincere, and seemed very honest. I recommend it, but don't expect to find any life altering truths here.

I finally finished The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and now I finally know what everyone was talking about last year. This method is not really for me, but it did make me think about all the stuff we have. Some spring cleaning may be in order.

I listened The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury in my car. It was perfect for that. I found it entertaining enough to listen to, but didn't feel that I had to shut it off the second I picked up my kids. In fact my 8 year old even enjoyed a few of the stories while we waited for his bus. These are all short stories that are about the same things. It's kind of hard to explain, but very enjoyable, light science fiction. The only depressing thing was the astronauts from the future were born in 1986 - a full 9 years after me. I don't know when I got so old.

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Three Heroines Who Compare Real Life To Romance in Popular Culture, and Find It Lacking

I love the idea of flights of books (TM Modern Mrs. Darcy.) It's like wine flights only with reading. You don't do a deep dive on a subject, you take a small taste of several different varietals and compare and contrast the tastes.

I've stumbled upon an unintentional book flight this week:

Three Heroines Who Compare Real Life To Romance in Popular Culture, and Find It Lacking:

I haven't even finished two of these books, but I can tell you that if you, like me, are stuck in a seemingly never ending cycle of rainy days and public transportation delays you could do much, much worse.

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REVIEW: The Road Not Taken by David Orr

I first read about The Road Not Taken: Finding America in the Poem Everyone Loves and Almost Everyone Gets Wrong in a review last year, and loved the sound of it. I added it to my TBR, and then added it to my 2016 non-fiction reading list. then I took it out from the library twice, and returned it unread. I was a bit intimidated. Finally on my third check out, on my third renewal I had a deadline to either read the book, or return it unread again. Well, third time's a charm. I picked this up earlier this week, and blew through it in two days.

I wouldn't consider myself a poetry fan, but do like to read Frost's poems, especially before I go on a trip to New England. Other than that I didn't really know much about him. Then I read this: " should bear in mind that Frost was the kind of man who, first, courts the woman he loves by printing up a volume of his own writing and, second upon feeling himself rejected by that woman, travels over five hundred miles in order to walk into a swamp." Oh Mr. Frost, you are interesting, aren't you?

After a brief biography Orr goes on to consider the poem line by line, the legend of Robert Frost, common misinterpretations, and their connection with the American psyche. This is one of those books where you learn a ton without feeling like you're doing it. Even if you don't like poetry, I think you should read this book. If nothing else it makes for good conversation when you're stuck in an awkward conversation with your boss.

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It would have never happened without a reading challenge

I can't resist a reading challenge. Every time I do one I read at least one amazing book that I would have never picked up on my own. Right now I am obsessed with The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, my entry for "The First Book In A Series By A Person of Color" in Book Riot's Read Harder challenge.

It makes my little bookworm heart anxious that I would have lived my life never reading this amazing book if not for the challenge.

Summer reading challenges should be coming out soon, and I can't wait. If I read just one book as amazing as The Fifth Season this summer, it will be a summer well spent.

What's your favorite reading challenge?

Other books I discovered during reading challenges:

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Books I'm actually going to buy

I'm a heavy library user - both out of cheapness, and out of a strong desire not to have my house collapse under the weight of all the books I would own if I had to buy everything I read. That said, there are two books I've decided to pre-order this summer, because I just can't wait for the library.

Just like every other Muggle around I'll be reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child this summer. I'm sure there will be spoilers galore, and I want to binge on this one before I read all about it on Twitter.
I LOVED The Fifth Season when I read it last week, and NEED to read the next installment, The Obelisk Gate, when it comes out in August. It comes out two days after my birthday, so this won't be hard to justify!

Do you still read actual books (not in electronic format?) Are there any you're planning on adding to your shelves this summer?

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REVIEW: The Happiness of Pursuit by Chris Guillebeau

Have you ever set out to meet a challenging and clear goal that has a specific end point? I know I have. Turns out I may be on a quest, which sounds a lot more exciting than "crazy hobby".

In his book The Happiness of Pursuit Chris Guillebeau not only defines modern day quests (no tilting at windmills here), he provides tips for completing them, and illustrates his points with interesting vignettes from his own travels, and from interviews with other hopeful questers.

I'm in the middle of my quest to visit the highest natural point in each of the 50 states plus DC right now, and this book provided me with some motivation to keep going. (It also gave me plenty of ideas on what to pursue when I'm done!)

Note: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for a honest review.

Can we all take a minute to remember Shel Silverstein?

I went to a poetry reading at my son's school a few weeks ago. It was a great event. There were several rooms where community VIPs like firefighters, members of the Town Council, and local authors read some pretty fun poems. Of course you can't have fun poems without Shel Silverstein.

Where the Sidewalk Ends was always the book kids fought over during silent reading time in my school, and the kids are still doing it in my son's school. That's some good writing - and it's poetry! Poetry is supposed to be boring!

Thank you Shel Silverstein.

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REVIEW: Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

I've been missing lately, but I have a good excuse. Extended jury duty + trying to do my share at work during off work hours + a family crisis have had me on the brink of insanity. The good news is Brooklyn by Colm Toibin was a lovely book to read while the world was crashing down over the past few weeks.

It's the story of an Irish girl who comes to New York to seek her fortune, or a better job at least. Nothing too gruesome or spectacular happens here. There's a tragedy, and some love angst, but this isn't Angela's Ashes. She just makes her way, and in this book that is enough.

Have you Read Brooklyn and seen the movie? I'm astounded that this calm little book was made into a movie. How did it translate to the big screen?

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April 2016 Quick Lit

Each month I link with Modern Mrs. Darcy's Quick Lit as a way to talk about the books I liked, but didn't review.

I read Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan because someone told me that if I went to a liberal arts school I would relate to it. I think whoever made that recommendation confused liberal arts colleges with all women's colleges (not the same thing btw.) I still liked the book, but the ending was a bit abrupt.

When I was searching my library for Commencement I ran across Maine also by J. Courtney Sullivan. I checked it out right away because I'm going to Maine later this year. I feel like that's a pretty good rule of thumb - if you run across a book about a place you're visiting, check it out. I liked this book. It's told by three narrators. Each one seems sympathetic when you read their chapters, but unbearable when you read about them in other chapters. Of the three books I've read by Sullivan, this was my favorite (I read The Engagements a year or two ago, and thought it was OK.)

I was a little frustrated with The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson. This 14 hour audio book mostly seemed to be about how Britain is so much better than America, and how everyone who isn't him is stupid. However there were descriptions of walking through random places that appealed to my wanderlust enough to keep me listening.

My son and I read Escape From Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein together and loved it. This is my son who "hates reading", barely tolerated me reading him Harry Potter, and thought THE MOVIES WERE BETTER. He begged me each night to read until my voice gave out, and when we finished he demanded we buy the next one immediately. If you have a reluctant reader who strengths lie more in the field of puzzles and math, give this book a try. (I was so relieved that Captain Underpants isn't the only solution when kids hate reading. I get that suggestion all the time, and while I have nothing against potty humor, I just can't read it out loud night after night.)

Since I've been in kind of a reading slump, I've been catching up on my back issues of One Story. My favorite was When in Dordogne by Lily King. I liked the uplifting coming of age story. This is a journal worth subscribing to if you like short stories. The stories are good, and the issues are great for tucking in your purse when you run into reading emergencies.

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