Saturday, February 28, 2015

Pop Sugar Reading Challenge Update!

Here is the title I've added in the past week (look for a review soon!):
CraftFail: When Homemade Goes Horribly Wrong by Heather Mann is a funny book.

I've actually read more than one book in last week, but I haven't gotten around to reviewing yet.  And some of the books I've read haven't fulfilled any checklist items.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is a book that became a movie.

How (Not) to Fall in Love by Lisa Brown Roberts is a book published this year.

Perfect Puppy in 7 Days: How to Start Your Puppy Off Right by Sophia Yin is a book with a number in the title.

The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 22: 1993-1994 by Charles M. Schulz is a book with nonhuman characters.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman is a book with a female author.

Ink by Amanda Sun is a book with a one-word title.

Mint Juleps With Teddy Roosevelt by Mark Will-Weber is a nonfiction book.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas is a popular author's first book.

Don't Give Up, Don't Give In: Lessons From an Extraordinary Life by Louis Zamperini is a memoir.

Loop by Karen Akins is a book set in the future.

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver is a book set in high school.

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is a book by an author I've never read before.

The Maker Movement Manifesto: Rules for Innovation in the New World of Crafters, Hackers, and Tinkerers by Mark Hatch is a book written by an author with my same initials.

And I'm currently reading Inheritance, which is a book written by someone under 30 (yes, I'm still reading it!  It's long!) and Napoleon's Pyramids, which is a book set in another country.

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Rathbones by Janice Clark | Book Review

The Rathbones
(Do you see the hands gripping the edge of the barrel?  I missed that detail when I first picked up the book, but it turns out it fits into the story.)

Morons go sailing....

So let me back up and tell a short story.  My dad picked up The Heart of the Sea in an airport bookstore and read it on a plane.  He got home, asked if I wanted it, and I said sure.  (Is there any other answer when someone offers you a book?)  Then he told me that it wasn't great, and that he thought a better title would have been Morons Go Sailing.  I have this thing about reading every book I own/am given, and The Heart of the Sea really didn't look too long, so I read it.  Yup:  it was a long, detailed tale of the actual crew and actual voyage that inspired Moby Dick.  And yup:  these guys took every decision-making opportunity and made the wrong decision.  Hence, Morons Go Sailing.  Then I started thinking, and I remembered that I didn't actually enjoy Moby Dick either.  Or Jamrach's Menagerie.  Or Life of Pi.  But all three of those did get some rave reviews.... So all that to say, maybe books that involve sea voyages just aren't for me.  And to tell you a funny story about how my dad and I reclassify books that involve sea voyages that we don't enjoy.

Again:  I want to emphasize that maybe the fault is with me.  Maybe I'm just genetically predisposed to not enjoy sailing books.

The Rathbones is also about family.  (Like the start of my post!)  But it is not a happy tale.  It's a multigenerational odyssey, as experienced by Mercy, fourteen and the last in a long line of Rathbones.  She has grown up in a huge and largely empty house; it has beds enough to sleep many dozen, but is currently only occupied by her, her mother, and her cousin.  On the brink of becoming a woman, she is starting to question:  where is her father?  Did he really abandon the family, or is he lost at sea?  Who is her cousin's mother?  Why is he kept locked up in the attic?  One night, Mercy and her cousin witness a strange man come to the house and attack her mother on the widow's walk.  They flee, and thus begins their quest across the ocean in search of genealogical answers and the ever more rare sperm whales.

This book demands the reader's full attention.  From the first chapter, you will find yourself intrigued and just as interested in finding answers as Mercy is.  The answers come, but they are doled out sparingly across the pages, like a feeble trail of breadcrumbs leading you onward.  I read an ARC, so I'm not sure this feature remained in the final copy, but in my copy there were four family trees spaced pretty evenly through the book.  The first one is very, very spare, with a lot of blank space in the middle.  As the book progresses, Mercy is able to fill in more and more of the blank space.  I really appreciated that, as I would have been completely lost without them!  The Rathbones are a LARGE family.  

I don't know how to say this, but The Rathbones is kind of literarily (I think I just made up that word) pretentious.  The language is a bit heavy-handed, and many scenes feel only partially developed.  Like the night that Mercy and her cousin leave home; the way the scene is described, I wasn't even sure if the stranger was real, or a figment of Mercy's imagination.  Was he physically assaulting Mercy's mother, or were they engaged in consensual lovemaking?  And there are many more scenes that left me grasping at mist.

I would recommend this to people who love history and whaling and family sagas and puzzling out the deeper meaning of books.  I would not recommend this to the casual reader.

*I received an ARC of The Rathbones from the publisher in exchange for my fair and honest review.  Thank you!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Loop by Karen Akins | Book Review

Loop (Loop #1)
(I'm very sorry to the cover artist... but I really really really want a different cover and a different tagline for this book!)

I loved Loop!  Disclosure:  I didn't think I would, based on the cover art and tagline.  But it's so much more more than a love story!  Oh, if only the cover wasn't so very pink, I could recommend it to guys and gals at the library!  To find out what that something more is, click on over to Tynga's Reviews!

*I checked out my copy of Loop from my local library.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Mitford Bedside Companion: A Treasury of Favorite Mitford Moments, Author Reflections on the Bestselling Series, and More. Much More. by Jan Karon with Brenda Furman | Book Review

The Mitford Bedside Companion: A Treasury of Favorite Mitford Moments, Author Reflections on the Bestselling Se ries, and More. Much More.

Nearly 500 pages of sheer Mitford bliss!  Each chapter collects various scenes from all the Mitford books around a common theme, with reflections from Jan herself on the topic.  Far from formulaic in design, The Mitford Bedside Companion reads much more like an intimate conversation with the author and her characters.

I recently re-read the entire Mitford series to get ready for the release of Somewhere Safe With Somebody Good, and I was feeling a little withdrawal from the cozy town.  This book is the perfect antidote!  In it you'll find all your favorite scenes with all your favorite characters.  Miss Sadie and Uncle Billy are once again alive and well, Dooley is a teen again, and Percy is back behind the counter at the Main Street Grill.  Just a few of the topics covered include the turkey club at Main Street Grill, Father Tim's sermons, and Uncle Billy's jokes.  Yes!  There's a whole chapter that's a collection of Uncle Billy's finest!  I think this was my favorite chapter.  A close second:  the chapter that collects the love letters between Father Tim and Cynthia.

There were two unexpected (to me) bonuses to The Mitford Bedside Companion:  a very short section of Mitford bloopers and a fairly thorough character glossary.  The bloopers section was only about a page long, but there were a few details that I guess other readers caught that I didn't.  In case you'd also noticed that Miss Lottie has two different last names in various books, Jan answers that in this book.  (Don't look at me for an explanation!  Go get a copy of this book!  You know I don't do spoilers.)  The character glossary is much longer.  Jan estimates that over 700 individually named characters have made appearances in the series.  Do not fear:  she doesn't list all of them!  This book would have to be published in multiple volumes for that to work.  But she does list a lot of them.  There were a few that even I had forgotten!  But as soon as I saw the names, a smile stole across my face as though I were greeting an old friend.

Thanks to someone awesome (shout out to my mom!), I've met Jan Karon.  So I could totally hear her voice in my head as I read her reflections.  (I hope that statement doesn't sound stalkerish.  I promise I'm sane.)  I loved "hearing" her talk about her experiences in Mitford, and how the various characters and situations came to be.

This book is so easily digestible.  You could read it all in one go, as I did, or savor sections of it at a time, since it's written as a collection of essays and quotes from the books.  

*I received my copy of The Mitford Bedside Companion as a gift.  Thanks, Mom!

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 22: 1993-1994 by Charles M. Schulz | Book Review

The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 22: 1993-1994

So... I don't really feel that this needs a review.  It's Peanuts and it's awesome.  This is a pretty hefty volume, containing every single strip Schulz drew in 1993 and 1994.  This is more just an "I read this" review.

*I checked out my copy of The Complete Peanuts from my local library and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Popsugar Reading Challenge Update!

Here are the titles I've added in the past two weeks (look for reviews soon!):
The Complete Peanuts, Vol. 22: 1993-1994 by Charles M. Schulz is a book with nonhuman characters.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas is a popular author's first book.

The Maker Manifesto: Rules for Innovation in the New World of Crafters, Hackers, and Tinkerers by Mark Hatch is a book written by an author with my same initials.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is a book that became a movie.

How (Not) to Fall in Love by Lisa Brown Roberts is a book published this year.

Perfect Puppy in 7 Days: How to Start Your Puppy Off Right by Sophia Yin is a book with a number in the title.

Where She Went by Gayle Forman is a book with a female author.

Ink by Amanda Sun is a book with a one-word title.

Mint Juleps With Teddy Roosevelt by Mark Will-Weber is a nonfiction book.

Don't Give Up, Don't Give In: Lessons From an Extraordinary Life by Louis Zamperini is a memoir.

Fifty Shades Darker by E.L. James is a book with bad reviews.

Loop by Karen Akins is a book set in the future.

And I'm currently reading Dorothy Must Die, which is a book that a friend recommended and Inheritance, which is a book written by someone under 30 (yes, he's now 31, but he was under 30 when Inheritance was written; it's my fault, not his, that he's no longer under 30 as I read his book).

I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian by Avi Steinberg | Book Review

Running the Books: The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian
(Love love love this cover!  The portrait is made up of due date stamps.  How cool!)

Running the Books wasn't exactly what I expected, but it wasn't bad.  I was expecting more humor, but I probably shouldn't have.  People being locked up for heinous crimes shouldn't be funny.

More than just a memoir of his two years spent working as the librarian at Boston's South Bay prison, Avi also intersperses reflections on his life prior to taking the job.  He'll relate an incident from the prison, then relate it back to a life choice that he made.  In this way, he kind of "connects" with many inmates.  He also doesn't shy away from admitting what a hard job it is to work in a prison: he recounts crippling backaches and anxiety.  

I can't really put my finger on it, but something about Avi and the way he tells his story... or maybe some of the life decisions he made... something left me a little less-than-usual respect for him.  For instance, at one point he talks bluntly about purposefully breaking a prison rule.  Is he really so naive that he can't foresee the ramifications?  

Not a bad book, but also not stellar.  The interspersed personal reflections take up space that could be used to tell more about working in the prison, and some of the author's actions made me a little uncomfortable.  But overall, still worth the read.  How else will you ever find out what it might be like to be a prison librarian?

*I checked out my copy of Running the Books from my local library.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Ink by Amanda Sun | Book Review

Ink (Paper Gods, #1)


I am kicking myself for missing this when it first came out!  I saw lots of reviews of people love love loving the cover, but it didn't grab me.  I don't say this often, but I was wrong.  This is a fantastic book and lots of people should go read it.  Good news:  because I'm so very behind on this, you don't have to wait to read the sequel!  You can binge-read the first two books now and be ready for the trilogy finale in June.  Yay!  I want to try to work this into every readers' advisory now!  Including you, reading this, who didn't even ask for my opinion:  GO READ INK!

To find out why I'm so obnoxiously excited about Ink, click on over to Tynga's Reviews.

*I received an ARC of Ink from the publisher and let it sit on my tbr stack way, way too long!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The Maker Movement Manifesto: Rules for Innovation in the New World of Crafters, Hackers, and Tinkerers by Mark Hatch | Book Review

The Maker Movement Manifesto: Rules for Innovation in the New World of Crafters, Hackers, and Tinkerers

Spoiler Alert:  There are no rules!  Ok... that wouldn't actually be a spoiler for anyone remotely aware of what a makerspace is.  But I thought it'd be fun to announce that.  Rather, The Maker Manifesto is (in my humble opinion) more of a "Bill of Rights."  And it has got me FIRED UP!

I read this book because of work.  I'm a small part of a team of staff working to open a makerspace in a nearby library.  I'm already super excited, and want to read all the books about makerspaces and making.  I'm also working with a coworker at my library to try to get robotics started for the teens.  We're working with guys from a local hackerspace, and they're doing really cool things with the teens.  A couple weeks ago they facilitated the teens building computer-controlled flamethrower robot cars!  Yes, flames!  At (outside) the library!  It's very exciting times we're living in.

The Maker Manifesto is written by Mark Hatch, one of the co-creators of TechShop, one of the first big makerspaces in America.  So he really knows his stuff.  As I was reading the book I kept jotting down "wish list" notes for equipment or programs that I want to implement in Idea Box, the makerspace that I'm helping staff.

This book is such a great motivator.  Like I said, I'm all kinds of fired up about making now!  I just told the hubby that I want to move to Silicon Valley and join TechShop.  Fortunately, I'm married to a much more grounded person than myself, and he stopped me.  You know... jobs and friends and cheaper cost of living here in NC....  But I am so impatient to start making already!  I went ahead and downloaded 123D Design onto my iPad and 123D Make onto my phone.  I'm all set to issue thought-provoking questions and challenges to Idea Box patrons.  I've been trained on the MakerBots and can't wait to get my hands on the laser cutter.  (Isn't that cool?  I get to use a laser to cut and etch things at work.  Do you get to do that?)  I want to teach Arduino programming right now to eager teens.  The Maker Manifesto is sure to get you fired up and excited and ready to make too!

Although at a few brief moments the author comes across a little self-promoting, that's not the crux of the book.  The crux of the book is to give the reader ideas about how to use and promote a makerspace, and sharing of success stories from TechShops across the nation.  Did you know that Square (the device that allows vendors to accept credit cards via their smart phone or tablet) came out of a makerspace?  That some makerspace patrons are able to kickstart a whole business out of the space and tools?  I am super excited to see what people come to create at Idea Box!

This book isn't very lengthy, and the language stays very conversational and readable.  I definitely recommend this book to anyone even remotely interested in makerspaces and making.

*I checked out my copy of The Maker Manifesto from my local library, which is now home to a makerspace itself!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  For more information, or to join the fun yourself, check out their blog!

I Got 99 Problems... and Books are at Least 10 of Them
This week's Top Ten Tuesday theme is "Top Ten Bookish Problems I Have."  I have at least ten, if not more!  Don't get me wrong:  I LOVE reading.  But I do have a few problems:

1. My TBR list is probably longer than my life span at this point.

2. Work.  I love my job, but library employees don't actually get to sit and read all day.  (A common misconception.)  So that's 8 hours a day that I could be reading, but am instead helping others find books to love.  ...  So I guess that's not really much of a problem, since I'm still working with books.  ;)

3. When I'm reading a physical book at bedtime and I drop it when I fall asleep.  I either slightly injure myself (depending on the size and location of the book relative to my head) and/or lose my place.  Bummer.

4. Inversely:  losing sleep to a good book.  When I finally neared the end of The Dark Tower I stayed up until 3:30 am to finish it!  And that wasn't the first or last time that sort of thing happened with a book.

5. When an author makes a decision that I don't agree with.  I love the book and am emotionally invested in the characters and then the book takes an unexpected turn and I must throw said book across the room.  Allegiant, anyone?

6. When I'm in love with a book and I check it back into the library and there's no holds list for it.  Why doesn't everyone else want this book?  Who can I force this book upon?  It can't just go back to the shelf!  It must go into someone else's life!

7. Dog-eared pages.  WHYYYY must people dog-ear pages???  I will give someone the bookmark out of my book if asked; just please don't dog-ear the pages!!!

8. Book banning.  If you don't like the book, don't read it.  But don't force your views on others, ok?  Personally, I self-censor just a little (no erotica), but I'm not going to demand that those books are removed from libraries &  book stores!  America!  Freedom of speech!

9. Can we all just agree that the book is better than the movie?  No more debates; just a common understanding.  And then maybe we can stop putting movie tie-in covers on books?

10. This final "problem" is only a recent one, and one I hope will pass soon:  EVERY CONTEMPORARY YA IS NOT THE FAULT IN OUR STARS!  Can we find other books to compare newer books to?  Also:  every new dystopian is not The Hunger Games!

What about you?  What bookish rants do you have pent up inside?  I think this week's topic will be really fun to read the responses to; leave me a link and I'll def visit!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas | Book Review

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)
(What a gorgeous cover!  My only complaint is that this cover shows none of the historicity of the book; Celaena wears a corset & long dress quite often, and only puts on trousers to fight duels.)

I've been reading tons and tons and tons of hype and praise for the Throne of Glass series for nearly two years now, but I just never got around to picking up the books.  Then I participated in a bookish Secret Santa exchange this past Christmas, and I was gifted Throne of Glass.  So of course I had to read it!  And I loved it!  And I will definitely be reading the rest of the series soon!

As I was saying, Throne of Glass definitely lived up to all the hype!  Sarah J. Maas delivers 3D characters, an intense competition that involves dueling and swordplay and archery, a murder mystery, and magic.  And she does it all without ever leaving the reader overwhelmed or confused.

The characters themselves are definitely the strongest win of the book.   I was cheering for Celaena from page one!  She's a world-famous assassin, who's been interred in a death camp for the past year.  Somehow, she's managed to survive and has been handpicked by the Crown Prince Dorian to fight in a competition to become the king's personal assassin.  If she wins, she'll only have to serve the king four years to earn her total freedom.  She's only 18, but she's fierce.  She's witnessed the horrific murder of her parents and become a killer for hire.  She's survived over a year in a death camp where others only live a few months.  And now she's the lone female in a competition to become the king's personal assassin.  Total badass.  And she's not the only character with a past and a story and all.  Chaol, the head of security, is also very well fleshed out, as is Dorian.  Unfortunately, I was able to see the love triangle coming a mile away.  I so wanted this book to break the mold and leave Celaena in only platonic relationships, or in a relationship with only one, but alas...

But in good news, there's TONS of action that way overshadows the romance.  Celaena is living at the castle for four months while she competes in a series of tests against 11 other rough guys to determine who will be the king's champion.  She's the only girl, but she definitely holds her own!  In fact, Chaol has to warn her against showing too much of her prowess to her competitors too early!  Even knowing that there's more books to the series, I was still so nervous for Celaena during many of the tests.  I could never put down the book in the middle of reading any of the test or duel scenes!  And just in case that's not suspenseful enough for you, there's also something in the castle murdering potential champions one by one.  Who will be next?  Will the mystery man/woman/beast come for Celaena some night?  As the number of champions dwindle (some are eliminated during tests; some are murdered), the odds look better and better for Celaena to be attacked.  So you can see why this book would be hard to put down!

There is magic in Celaena's world too.  Not a lot; in fact, I feel like I was nearly halfway through the book before it's even mentioned.  But it is there and it plays a part in the end.  I get the impression that it'll play a much larger role in books to come.  I love how Sarah J. Maas explains the magic to the reader:  Celaena herself doesn't know much, so she goes to the library and researches.  We learn about the magic right alongside Celaena.  (Also, as someone who works in a library, I loved loved loved that Celaena prefers to read in her free time, and goes to a library when she needs answers!)
Overall:  a fantastic fantasy with tons of actions and a little bit of magic and a heroine that you can't help rooting for.  Looking forward to reading Crown of Midnight!

*I received Throne of Glass from Beauty and the Bookshelf as part of a Secret Santa exchange.  Thank you!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Stacking the Shelves

Today I'm over at Tynga's Reviews, stacking up all the books I've received in the last couple weeks.  Come see what I've brought home, and join in the fun yourself!

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes | Book Review

The Naturals (The Naturals, #1)

Usually, I'm not a fan of cover blurbs, but this one is so accurate:  "The Naturals is Criminal Minds for the YA world..." -Ally Carter.  I love Criminal Minds!  How did I not read this book sooner?!?  How soon can I get my hands on the sequel?!?  How can I adequately express my gratitude to Beauty and the Bookshelf for putting this in my hands?!?  Five enthusiastic thumbs up, and easily a Top Ten Read of 2015!

Pardon all the exclamation points.  They're necessary.

Cassie has always been really, really good at "reading" people.  Her mom made her living scamming people, claiming to be able to tell their fortunes, when really she was also just really good at reading people.  Then, one horrible night, Cassie's mom is brutally attacked and presumed dead.  No body was ever found, but the room that her mom was last seen in was covered in blood.  Not too long later, the FBI contacts Cassie.  They've heard of her talent for reading people and their motives, and they want her help.  She gets put in a group with other super-talented teens, and together they assist the FBI with cases both hot and cold.

The Naturals was so similar to Criminal Minds that I even tried to convince the hubby to try it!  (He also loves Criminal Minds, but doesn't usually care for YA.  I know:  his loss.)  I loved the mystery:  the "meat" of the book focuses on one case that the teens are trying to solve.  I loved that I didn't figure out the mystery before the end of the book.  Nothing more boring than solving a murder mystery before the characters do!  I also loved getting to know all of the characters:  their personalities, their special skills, their interactions.  As you can imagine, having such a highly refined skill for reading others' emotions or motives can be rather alienating and lonely for a teen, so it's interesting to see how personality quirks impact their relationships with each other.  I ended up liking all of the characters, even sarcastic Dean and lying Lia, for differing reasons.  Like I mentioned above, I'm TOTALLY looking forward to continuing this series!

Maybe this could become a TV show, too?  *hint, hint Hollywood!*

*My bookish Secret Santa gifted The Naturals to me.  THANK YOU!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma | Book Review

The Map of Time (Trilogía Victoriana, #1)
(You can't tell in this digital copy of the cover, but it's a really cool mix of glossy and matte, that really adds depth.  The man and the bookshelves behind him are matte; the spirit and cogs are shiny.  So neat!)

Today I'm over at Tynga's Reviews, gushing about how much I loved The Map of Time.  Click on over for unabashed adulation of this book!

*I own my copy of The Map of Time... and will probably be buying the rest of the trilogy in the near future!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Don't Give Up, Don't Give In: Lessons From an Extraordinary Life by Louis Zamperini with David Rensin

Don't Give Up, Don't Give in: Lessons from an Extraordinary Life

I was waaaaaay behind the crowd, and only just read Unbroken last month.  SO. GOOD.  And at the end of it, I wasn't yet ready to say so long to Louie.  I'm very glad that I still had this one to read!

Don't Give Up, Don't Give In is told in chronological order, so the beginning of the book does cover quite a few things already touched upon in Unbroken.  Each chapter, however, is focused on a life lesson, or theme.  This gives a new perspective to the events, and the reader isn't bored at all.  Laura Hillenbrand did a fantastic job relaying the events of Louie's time leading up to and during the war in a highly readable way, but this book gave us Louie's voice.

Don't Give Up, Don't Give In is also much shorter than Unbroken, so it might be more approachable for reluctant readers.    Also, each chapter could be read on it's own, like a vignette.  I am just so impressed by Louis Zamperini, and wish I could have met him.  Now, whenever someone asks the question: "if you could have dinner with anyone living or dead, who would it be?"  Louis Zamperini!

*I borrowed my sister-in-law's copy of Don't Give Up, Don't Give In.  Thank you!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a fun meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  For more information, or to join the fun yourself, check out their blog!

Top Ten Things I Like/Dislike in Romance Books
So... I don't actually read many romance books.  If there's romance in my usual reading, it's usually secondary to the action! adventure!  So this list was kind of hard to think up.  But who am I turn down a challenge?

Things I Like in Romance in Books
Anne's House of Dreams (Anne of Green Gables, #5)
1. Love that mirrors my own.  I'm definitely happily married, and I love when I can see my own bliss mirrored in a book's characters.

The Summer I Became a Nerd
2. Witty banter between love interests.  I love reading flirty/semi-flirty scenes where the characters have an easy sorta-teasing, sorta-picking at each other banter.  Bonus points if the characters also have a dry sense of humor.

Burnt Shadows
3. Love that overcomes adversity.  When some big odd is stacked against two characters, and they overcome it in order to be together, I want to cheer!

A Common Life: The Wedding Story (Mitford Years, #6)
4. A slow burn.  I prefer for my characters not to fall in insta-love.  I want to fall in love with each character separately first, then decide on my own that they need to be together, then have them be together.

Tiger's Curse (The Tiger Saga, #1)
5. Chivalry.  I love when the male character is all old-school chivalrous!  Opening car doors, etc.

Things I Dislike in Romance in Books
Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1)Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades, #2)Fifty Shades Freed (Fifty Shades, #3)
1. Erotica.  I typically won't even read it.  It makes me blush, and makes me wonder a little about the author...

2. Incest.  This one should go without saying, right?  Can't we all agree this crosses a line?  But yet there are books out there...

Summer House with Swimming Pool
3. Creepy age differences.  This could be only a couple of years, if the ages straddle that magic 18; or many years, like if a 50 yr old starts dating a 20 yr old.

Guy in Real Life
4. Stalker behavior.  Whenever one character is obsessed with another, even if they're in a consenting relationship.

Scintillate (The Light Key Trilogy, #1)
5. Love that feels "forced."  Like the author really wants these two together, but it doesn't feel right or natural.

I'm never really a fan of writing negative lists... this is just my personal opinion.  There's a reader for every book; some books are not for this reader.  How about you?  Do you love romance?  Hate it?  Leave a link in the comments and I'll definitely come visit!  Disagree with any part of my list?  Leave a comment with a book suggestion, and I promise to check it out and see if my opinion changes.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Mint Juleps With Teddy Roosevelt: The Complete History of Presidential Drinking by Mark Will-Weber | Book Review

Mint Juleps with Teddy Roosevelt: The Complete History of Presidential Drinking

I found Mint Juleps With Teddy Roosevelt to be rather "meh," but that could be my own fault.  I think I had some preconceived notions as to what I wanted this book to be, more than what it was.

What this book is:
  • A mostly complete history of Presidential drinking.
  • Very well-researched.
  • Very fair.
  • A bit redundant in places.
  • Very dry.  (Like I like my martinis.)
What this book isn't:
  • A cocktail "cookbook" of Presidential favorite libations.
  • Very thorough.
Mint Juleps With Teddy Roosevelt is divided chapter-by-chapter by President, in chronological order.  Each President gets nearly exactly the same number of pages. This is great for those two fans of William Henry Harrison; not so great for fans of G. Washington.  Because each President only gets a handful of pages, there's no room for backstory or setting, so I was sometimes a little confused.  I also found it odd that the author so often set rather insignificant events as backdrops for drinking, rather than big, obvious things.  For instance, the Lincoln chapter barely mentioned the Civil War, but it went into some discussion of his campaign for election.

I had absolutely no reason to expect this, so it's all my fault and not the author's or the publisher's, but for some reason I thought there'd be a cocktail recipe for each President.  There were 4 or 5 libation instructions, but not nearly as many as I'd hoped for.  One thing that may be of interest to some folks is George Washington's homebrew beer instructions.  In case you want to make a smallbatch of the first (and in my opinion, greatest) President's beer!

This was a  lengthy and text-heavy book, liberally sprinkled with some fun facts about the Presidents' drinking habits.  I don't regret reading it, but I'm not going around recommending it willy nilly.

*I checked out my copy of Mint Juleps With Teddy Roosevelt from my local library.