Riverside Public Library

City Manager

Summer Reading Program

And Our Grand Prize Winner is…

Summer Reading Program Statistics:

Just so you know: there were a total of 153 Fellow Readers participating this year with 947 book reviews submitted. Not too shabby! Thanks to everyone for a summer filled with good books and great reviews!

 

Here it is, Fellow Readers: Gogol stepped up to the free throw line blindfolded, and the ball was nothing but net for beth4599‘s review of the mystery novel In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming:

Mystery with lots of twists & turns. Little bit of romance thrown in. I had a hard time getting into the book and staying with the story until the end.

How ironic that the review selected for the Grand Prize of Summer Reading is titled In the Bleak Midwinter. Gogol is such a trickster.

Congratulations, beth4599! You are now the owner of a Kindle Fire 7″ HD Tablet. Muchas gracias to the Friends of the Library for making this Grand Prize possible!

Wishing all of you continued Happy Reading throughout the year—and, in case you ever need a little something to get you through your own bleak season, here are 13 Simple Steps to Get You Through a Rough Day from BuzzFeed. (Yes, a photo of Ryan Gosling with a penguin is involved.)

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And Our Week 9 Winner is…

Well, Fellow Readers–we, along with cristi1, have a case of the sadz. We’ve reached the final week of Summer Reading. Not only will we miss reading all the wonderful reviews and discovering new books based, as jadec123 so wonderfully put it, “on the reviews of real people,” we now must return to that face-off with Ulysses. And we will lose. But at least we know we are not alone in the Great-Books-We-Should-Probably-At-Least-Appreciate-If-We-Want-to-Call-Ourselves-Lovers-of-Literature Club. (See highlight of the reviews for Middlemarch by jadec123 and slhess1 below.)

We will also miss connecting with you each week on this blog. Allow us to share with you the picture we keep taped above our computer screen. We choose to believe Mr. Gosling IS speaking directly to us:

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(We could spend whole weekends on the intewebz with Ryan Gosling and the “Hey Girl” meme. Especially the site dedicated to library personnel. We are not proud of this. We’re just sayin.)

Okay, so: this week Gogol made like Monty Hall, and the Week 9 Winner behind door number 3 is mark5314  for his review of Zero Day by David Baldacci:

This character is a NCIS/CSI on steroids. The story deals with a nuclear catastrophe & a small town environment. The underlying greed causes the issues to happen. Great story, you must read the book!

Zero Day is an example of a book we picked up based on the review. We heart CSI! How could we pass up CSI on steroids?

Congrats, mark5314! You are now the proud owner of a $20 gift card to the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on Mission Inn Avenue. (We are enjoying one of their mini coconut lemon cakes as we write this.) Huge thanks again to Beth and the CBTL team for supporting Summer Reading!

Another book we picked up based on reading the review was Alexander McCall Smith’s The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon, submitted by 1goldengirl:

#14 in the No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Novels and it is as good as the first one. Alexander McCall Smith writes with a gift of subtle humor. These are not fast-paced books but are books to linger over while sipping tea or eating, I hate to say it, fruitcake. If you read the book you’ll understand. In this installment we find her assistant Grace Makutsi married and expecting a child, so Mma Ramotswe is on her own for two detective cases. Although these books contain mysteries they are more about the characters and their life and love of Africa. These novels are a pleasant addiction.

Fruitcake? We must understand this—MUST!—so read this book we shall.

We are currently reading a lot of military-themed books in honor of the California Reads theme War Comes Home, so we thank butterfly2 for putting Peter Nelson’s book Left for Dead on our radar:

You may want to note this author’s name so you can check out more books written by him; it is that well written. This book is about the injustice of Captain McVay’s court martial. He was serving on the USS Indianapolis. It contains the personal accounts of the survivors of the torpedoed ship, and what it was like floating in the ocean with no rescue for days while sharks swam beneath them. It covers how the captain was tried in court without all of the evidence to prove his position, and how the survivors tried to clear the captain’s name, but to no avail. What makes this true story all the more incredible is that an eleven year old boy’s completed  history fair project on the topic brought more attention to the case. This boy, Hunter Scott, shows as much determination and fight as the survivors did. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did.

P.S. That is the scariest book cover we have seen in awhile. (No, we are not a fan of Discovery Channel’s Shark Week.)

Speaking of book covers—here’s cristi1‘s review of Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer:

Am I the only one who judges a book by its cover? I’m sure I’m not. We do it, right? We look at the cover and decide whether we will enjoy reading the book based solely on the art of the front cover. Then, if we have the want to, we’ll read the synopsis on the back to confirm what we felt from the front cover. You all do that too, right?  Right?! Well, I do. And because of this, I simply knew I would like Hope Was Here, because, well, PIE! The front cover is a beautiful looking, half eaten apple pie. It must be a good book if it has pie on the cover. And then I read the synopsis and confirmed it. Hope is a 16 year old girl moving from New York to a small Wisconsin town with her aunt and guardian, Addie. They’re quite the team, Addie is a master cook and Hope is a wizbang waitress. Together they have moved all over the country, working in diner after diner. They are vagabonds of a sort, never staying in one place too long, but always working as a team to try to get through life as best they can. However, things are different in this new town. For one thing, the owner of the diner is a good hearted man, but he has cancer. Two, he’s decided to run for mayor to defat the corrupt incumbent. Three, Hope is quickly learning that this podunk town may not be so bad after all. She and Addie may have found just what they were looking for…..Home.

We do not wish to spark the whole Cake vs. Pie debate here. But if you are so inclined, you can read about it here. (*cough cough* cake *cough cough*)

Seeing as how we’ve entered juvenile-behavior mode (nanny nanny boo boo), here’s as good a place as any to highlight 11lsing‘s review of Nevada Barr’s High Country:

Parks Ranger Anna Pidgeon is back in High Country, a murder-mystery set in Yosemite. Anna goes undercover as a middle-aged waitress to find out why four people disappeared without a trace on the same day. Author Nevada Barr hits it out of the park with this novel – what I like is that her hero ages (you know, like people DO) and brings wisdom, insight and humor to the story telling. Her character Anna is tough, practical yet flawed, and not in that annoying Janet Evanovich way where the heroine always forgets her gun in the cookie jar (EVERY SINGLE DARN TIME – really, Stephanie Plum? It’s why I stopped reading that series. You know, after 11 of the books anyway :-) ). It’s a bit more like dealing with the situation at hand – you’ve dropped your pack to rest and get water and food, then when someone shoots at you, you run like a fox without your supplies. What do you do next to survive? It’s that kind of thinking and decision making that I so enjoy about Nevada Barr! Great book, great mystery, great hero. I want to be Anna Pidgeon when I grow up!

We like Stephanie Plum only slightly more than we like sharks. And when we grow up, we want to be Angelina Jolie.

As we have mentioned, we are always up for a good laugh, and techia1 did not disappoint with her review of Sayre April Pulley’s Vulture View:

Have you ever felt dismay over the serious dearth of rhyming books about vultures? Have I got a book for you! Vultures are so generally neglected and when they are mentioned in any text there’s a tendency toward the negative. It’s outrageous. Kudos to Sayre and Jenkins for doing their part.

Sharks get a whole week. Stephanie Plum gets 21+books. Where IS the respect for the vulture, dang it?

And here we are full-circle, back to the subject of no appreciation or respect. As promised, here are the reviews of George Eliot’s Middlemarch :

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We give props to slhess1, who reviewed this classic back in June and gave it 4 stars:

I love George Eliot. Her writings are like 19th century soap operas. So much detail. Middlemarch is considered her finest book. I agree; the characters are full of life. For lovers of English literature.

But we’ve got to be honest–we feel jadec123 on this one:

I read so many reviews stating this was a favorite book among readers online. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t finish it! I felt like I was back in high school. And with sentences like this, “Hire facounde eke full womanly and plain, no contrefeted termes had she to semen wise,” was more effort than I cared to put into summer reading!

Have no shame, jadec123. Anything that makes one feel as if one has returned to the bare-knuckle cage match that was high school should be destroyed with fire. (Does this sentiment make Mizz Reader one of those “haters” we hear the young people talking about so much these days?)

(Side note: hands up if the dude on this particular cover of Middlemarch reminds you of a shark.)

Well, we’d like to end this post on a positive note, so here is braerog90‘s review of The Writer’s Digest Writing Clinic: Expert Help for Improving Your Work:

A writing clinic book so helpful. Includes many writings from different writers. For about a month I haven’t written because I have been wanting to focus on one main topic. I finally chose, Mizzreader, to focus on healing. So many people hurting in this life and I want to reach out to them. Going to read a ton of healing books and write healing poetry.

braerog90, you are an inspiration, and we <3 you.

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Wishing you all continued Happy Reading!

Mizz Reader

P.S. Gogol is going to take a power nap so he can pick the Grand Prize Winner tomorrow, 17 August, and we will announce his result here on the blog. All you fellow readers who have submitted 5 or more reviews over the course of the program are eligible to win—even if you were also a weekly prize winner. We wish we could give a Kindle Fire 7″ Tablet to EVERY fellow reader who submitted reviews, and we would gladly sell a kidney to make this happen, but sadly, we already sold off that extra kidney to cover our son’s college tuition. ¡Buena suerte a todos!

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And Our Week 8 Winner is…

Hello, Fellow Readers, and welcome to the penultimate week of this mosh pit we call Summer Reading. Gogol made like a croupier this week and spun his Roulette wheel, and his fickle little ball of chance landed on allay1‘s review of Ruth Graham’s book In Every Pew Sits a Broken Heart: Hope for the Hurting:

I really enjoyed this book as Billy Graham’s third child, Ruth Graham, speaks of her hurts during an unstable period in her life.  It is hard to believe some of the challenges that she faced; a son on drugs, a teen daughter becoming pregnant, and Ruth’s bad choices in relationships with men. What I liked most about this book is that she gives you advice on how to help a friend or loved one come through a difficult time in their life. I also love the fact that because she’s the daughter of Billy Graham, you would not believe some of the situations she experienced. She had gotten divorced from her husband, and after two years, married a man that friends and family told her not to marry. She married anyway and the marriage lasted at most two weeks. Then when she telephoned her parents, she was welcomed with opened arms and not a tongue lashing. This story lets the audience know that whatever you are facing there is light at the end of the tunnel. I would recommend this book to anyone struggling in any decision in their life. Toward the end of the book Ruth answers her own question; she stops hiding and lets the world know that she is hurting. Great read!!!

This thoughtful review touched us, allay1. We are reminded of an image that a friend recently posted on Facebook (and don’t get us started on the subject of Facebook):

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Congrats, allay1! You are now the proud owner of a set of 2 Riverside Local History books (Riverside in Vintage Postcards and Riverside 1870 – 1940, both by Steve Lech) and a hardback copy of our upcoming Community Read title What It is Like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes. RPL is hosting a conversation with Mr. Marlantes at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium on November 20th at 6 p.m.—gratis to the public. WE CANNOT WAIT. (We should have more info on the RPL homepage soon about the community read—so check back!)

Speaking of local history—just4ceci put a title on our radar about which we were previously unaware: Jake and the Mission Inn by Sarah Healton and Kay Healton Whiteside:

I have to admit I originally checked this book out for my niece’s summer reading program. I then decided to read it myself. This a great book for children. It tells about life in Riverside back in the 1900′s. What is interesting is that the things children deal with have not changed all that much in 100 years (barring technology). It was good to visualize parts of Riverside while reading the book. Also got some historical information that I didn’t know about.

Thanks, just4ceci–we are looking forward to reading this!

Oh, how we are going to miss reading your reviews every week, Fellow Readers! So many catch us by surprise and make us laugh out loud. Such as these two submitted by 11lsing  for the Nevada Bar novels Blind Descent and Ill Wind:

Can you give a rating of less than a star?  If so, let’s just say that’s what this book was. I thought that the original suspense/plot of rescuing a friend from a cave would transition OUT of the cave.  Alas, that was not to be.  We just stayed in that darn cave (oh, and did you know it was darker than dark in the cave?  And that the heroine was claustrophobic?  And did I mention it was really dark?  Really, really.) for the first half of the book. When they finally emerged, I thought, OK, we can get on with the story, but darnit they just GO BACK IN THE CAVE for the last third of the book.  AUGH!  By the end I was just skipping paragraphs and pages (dark cave…yadda yadda…I can’t breathe, etc) just to find out who the culprit was. Why, out of sheer cussedness on my part. I should have thrown down the book with great force after I read the first third, but I kept hoping the story would progress – and by the time I was so VERY sick and tired of being in the dark cave, I had to know what the heck happened, so I was rather stuck.  Books don’t usually make me grumpy, but this one did, and just ask my husband how much fun I was to be around as I powered through the last chapters.  (Answer – not fun.)   As books are to me as football is to him, he understood my need to “yell at the referee” (as it were), but also like me, he found it tiresome after a while  :-)   I’m giving author Nevada Barr one more chance, since my mom recommended her and I have read another of her books that I really liked, but if this third one is a stinker I’m done.

Them there are shootin’ words, 11lsing. But true to your word, you gave Nevada another chance:

Now this is what I’m talking about!  Author Nevada Barr has redeemed herself in my eyes with this book, Ill Wind.  Parks ranger Anna Pidgeon is the hero of the story, and much more of a hero than in the previous dark-cave-infested horror that I complained about previously (Blind Descent, ugh)  She’s stationed in Mesa Verde, when mysterious deaths start happening – is it ghosts, or something else?  Strong female character, in her 40′s – I can relate – who is older, wiser and has quite a skewed sense of humor about love, life and suspicious death.  I like the small bits of humor and compassion that are written into the story.  The main character fulfills my outdoors-capable fantasies, as I have no outdoors skills to speak of, nor desire to gain them.  I’ll have those mosquito-infested and uncomfortable bed experiences vicariously from a good book, thank you very much, preferably from the comfort of a couch, with a warm dog or two on my lap and a glass of bourbon in hand  :-)

We’d be honored to join you on that couch, 11lsing, with our cat and our adult beverage of choice.

P.S. “Sheer cussedness”–it’s been a long time since we’ve heard the word cussedness. Which leads us to move123‘s review of Once Upon a Summer by Janette Oke:

 

This book was a little hard to get into at first. It’s written about a farm family and written with words like “jest” and “git.”

As we may have mentioned previously, we are originally from the South, and our grandmother was a farm girl. “Git” and “cussedness” do, on occasion, bubble up in our conversations, too. As do the phrases “beat with the ugly stick” and “bless her heart”–which, in Southernese, is a free-pass add-on to excuse every unkind thing you then go on to utter about another human being. (For example: “She’s right smart, but, bless her heart, that girl got beat with the ugly stick.”) We personally have NEVER uttered an unflattering opinion about a fellow human being. Ever. We’re just sayin’.

 

Finally, here’s a big ol’ shoutout to orngeturtl8 for bringing on some nostalgia within the review of Brian Clevinger’s graphic novel Captain America: Fighting Avenger:

This collection is good for what it is (Marvel Adventures is an imprint targeted to younger audiences). The stories are entertaining, but characterization is minimal – everyone is basically Spider-Man in the glib wisecracking while crime-fighting sense. The humor works really well at points (like when the Avengers are watching dubbed war footage of Captain America at an awards ceremony and end up giving it a bit of a Mystery Science Theater treatment), but it’s a little pervasive.

We are a HUGE fan of Mystery Science Theater 3000! (How did you know?) For anyone unfamiliar with this classic series, no one link will ever provide a good description, so you owe it to yourself–you owe it to your soul–to look around online and at least check out a few YouTube clips. Especially of the various  Love Themes–which, if this little ditty doesn’t get stuck in your head…

 

Here’s hoping that my bosses will wait until after the Week 9 and Grand Prize drawings next week before they decide to shoot me off into space. Happy Reading!

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And Our Week 7 Winner is…

Guten Tag, Fellow Readers, and welcome to Week 7 of the block party we call Summer Reading. Gogol has thrown the pair of fuzzy dice he won at a 1973 county fair by knocking down a pyramid of milk bottles on his third pitch, and snake eyes came up for techia1‘s review of the Steve Jenkins’ book  How Many Ways—Can You Catch a Fly?

All animals have the same basic needs: to find dinner and to avoid becoming someone else’s. How they go about accomplishing this differs from one species to another. This book devotes each two page spread to one task that is approached in a variety of ways in nature.

We admit we had already flagged this review as 1 of 3 possible to highlight this week by techia1 because it made us laugh out loud. The theme this year IS Paws to Read, and in case anyone needs a reminder that we humans are animals, too:

Survival Of The Fittest

Teach them early—that’s our motto. The zombie apocalypse is nigh. (Or so we are told.)

Anyway, techia1 is now the owner of a $25.00 gift card from the generous folks at the Red Dot Boutique (aka Target) on Arlington Avenue. And here are the other 2 reviews by techia1 that Mizz Reader also loved:

 

Sisters & Brothers: Sibling Relationships in the Animal World

by Steve Jenkins

As you may have guessed, the focus of this book is sibling relationships in the animal kingdom. Some are lifelong friends (go, wild turkey brothers) while others are the most threatening beings you are likely to meet (hyenas regularly kill their twins). Of course I’m the mother of an only child (like an anteater).

 

Hyenas regularly kill their twins—we did not know this. See photo editorial of intent child wearing deceptively-cute pink jumper above.

 

Time to Eat

by Steve Jenkins

I’ve read a lot of animal books and I’ve learned a lot of disgusting facts but somehow this book really crossed the line and turned my stomach. Don’t be fooled by the innocent appearance. Of course they’d put a cute bamboo-eating panda on the cover. But open up the book and you’ll learn about a frog with skin so sticky insects become attached to it. Periodically this amphibian pulls off its skin–like a sweater–and eats it, bugs and all.

We, of course, immediately thought of the Johan van der Smut character from the Mike Myers’ movie Austin Powers in Goldmember when reading about this frog. (If you don’t know why, we will leave your mind unfouled by the knowledge. We won’t even provide a link.) And, of course, we immediately placed a request for this children’s book for ourself.

Which provides a nice seque into the next review we’d like to highlight—orngeturtl8′s review of the Warren Ellis graphic novel Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E [Vol 1], This is What They Want:

 

Stumbled across a glowing review of this on whatculture.com and it happened to be in my local library so I checked it out. It is clever, funny, irreverent, ludicrous, and crude, and if those are all positive adjectives for you, then you’ll love it. The crudeness undercut the experience for me too much, but it’s still a good book for its cleverness. It pokes fun at everything about superhero comics, from one panel where a character is saying out loud what would normally be an editorial “meanwhile…” text box, to an actual text box that bluntly states that yes indeed all of these characters have gritty backstories. Again for the right audience this is great, but if ludicrous and crude are not your thing, then this is a pass.

orngeturtl8, you have found the right audience with us. Huge thanks for introducing us not only to this graphic novel but also to the whatculture.com website—our new favorite place to waste time stay abreast of culturally relevant material on the interwebz. (We especially enjoyed The 15 Most Brutally Honest Notes Written by Children. Warning: Poop humor.)

 

Just so y’all know Mizz Reader isn’t completely unsophisticated in her tastes, we’d like to share the following final two items:

First: Last week, braerog90 submitted a review of the book Chinese Brush Painting by Caroline Self:

 

I had never heard of Chinese brush painting. I loved it. This kind of painting just uses your imagination. I think that is great. This kind of painting really only uses ink. Maybe I will just start creating simple designs, nothing fancy, but I can make it look pretty. Maybe I can create something for Mizzreader in her favorite color. Painting is so fun :)

We asked braerog90 if she might be willing to share a photo of any art she created, and being the trooper that she is, she made our day by sending us this:

 

We are Über impressed by your creativity and talent, braerog90—this is gorgeous and we would def hang this on our wall so we could admire it every day.

Lastly, we love love LOVE dres333‘s entire reading list. Here’s the review submitted this week for The Book of Universes: Exploring the Limits of the Cosmos by John D. Barrow:

This title presents the evolution of our scientific understanding of the universe, not only the observed but also the theoretical. Since the publication of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, scientists have been working through the various implications of what our universe may “look” like. The book provides a fairly chronological survey of the different theories over the last several decades. While some of the concepts in this book can be somewhat “imaginative,” the author does well to explain them in an understandable manner.

In our dream life, we would be a theoretical physicist. (Once we learned about the EPR paradox—”spooky action at a distance”— we were hooked on quantum mechanics. Unfortunately: see last week’s post about our math issues.) Mizz Reader did not place requests for dres333‘s books; she scooped them up into her hot little hands as soon as they were returned to the library.

(dres333–if you know of a better link explaining the EPR paradox, let us know in the comments section and we will update it. You, sir, rock.)

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The world is a complex and beautiful and surprising place, is it not?

Until next week—Happy Reading!

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And Our Week 6 Winner is…

We do not know why, Fellow Readers, we have the Bon Jovi song “Livin’ on a Prayer” stuck in our head for Week 6 of our Summer Reading shindig (“Whoa–we’re halfway there!”), seeing as how we are actually two-thirds of the way to the finish line. Probably because we have always sucked at math. (We are not proud of this–and we certainly do not think we are to pretty to do it.) Anyway, here we are at Week 6, and Gogol has done his Eenie-Meenie-Miney-Moe thing, and the tiger he caught by the toe this week is 2beornot2be for her review of  David Stuart Davies’ book  The Scroll of the Dead:

 

An amazing tale of adventure and history all wrapped into 172 pages of Sherlock Holmes. The great detective and his assistant Dr. Watson. This time they’re after a thief/murder looking for eternal life in the way the Ancient Egyptians did. I couldn’t be more happy to read yet another book dealing with Ancient Egypt. I LOVE IT!

Is it just us, or does anyone else immediately think of Steve Martin’s Saturday Night Live song “King Tut” whenever Ancient Egypt is mentioned? (“Born in Arizona / Got a condo made of stone-a / King Tut!”) Congratulations, 2beornot2be, on winning the $20 gift card to the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf on Mission Inn Avenue! (We <3 Beth and all the friendly staff at the CBTL whose enthusiasm for the RPL Summer Reading Program makes us want to shout. So if you’d like some company, 2beornot2be, when you go to redeem your prize, you know where we work. We usually take our lunch around noonish.)

Okay, we may be the only “King Tut” nut, but we KNOW we are not the only summertime philistine in this group as evidenced by techia1‘s review of the Charlaine Harris book Grave Sight:

I had previously determined to take a break from Charlaine Harris and to devote my personal reading to quality literature that would improve the mind. But, who was I kidding? I love to read paranormal romance. And if the sexy female lead is in a position to solve a little crime, all the better. I’ll be reading more garbage in the next few weeks. Stay tuned. (I should probably point out that this mystery was terribly easy to solve and therefore not very satisfying, but after such a long hiatus I was ready to forgive a little predictability.)

Thank you, techia1. Safety in numbers.

P.S. We have added “Romance–Paranormal” as a genre selection now.

We also added “Steampunk” as a genre selection due to 1finepaw‘s review of Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker:

Boneshaker is a steampunk zombie novel set in a dystopian Civil War-era America. The novel has great atmosphere and elaborate settings, however the characters were a little one dimensional. The novel tends to drag in the middle, leading up to a hasty finish and several loose ends. Some character fates are unknown; reasons and motivations remain unclear. I did enjoy the novel, as the author has a great style of writing and good ability to describe imaginative surroundings, however I was left with the feeling of wanting more. This would be good for fans of steampunk who are looking for a light read.

We are still trying to reconcile “a steampunk zombie novel set in a dystopian Civil War-era America” and “looking for a light read”–which means this novel jumped to the top of our Must Read list.

We wanted SO MUCH to add “American Muscle Cars” as a genre thanks to  love2read‘s review of Muscle Cars: The Legend Lives On:

Who wouldn’t love this book full of pictures with detailed information on American Muscle Cars!

But in the end we knew we could not justify it. In the same way we knew we could not justify “Clint Eastwood-worthy” and “Chuck Norris Would Approve.”

Finally, a huge shoutout to happyface1 for making us do our hyena-laugh with the review for 100 Ways to Simplify Your Life by Joyce Meyer:

This book has a lot of good advice on setting priorities and boundaries.  However, 100 ways is too many options when I am trying to simplify.  It was hard to stay motivated to read the book.

Right??? You are my new BFF, happyface1.

Until next week—Happy Reading!

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And Our Week 5 Winner is…

Bienvenido, Fellow Readers, to Week 5 of the happy place that is known as Summer Reading. The time when we can look at that dusty copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses sitting at eye-level on our bookshelf, staring at us, trying to guilt us into cracking its spine and finally making it past page 22–the farthest we have ever gotten before hurling it to the ground and stomping on it; a pox on you, Modern Library, for ranking it number one on your list of 100 best novels!…Yes, that time when we can look at Ulysses sitting on our bookshelf and shamelessly reach right past it to grab our copy of Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews and re-read it for the 11th time–and not feel like a philistine.

Well, Gogol has been on his best behavior this week, and we are pleased to announce that he has pinned the tail on the donkey, and the randomly-selected donkey this week is braerog90‘s review of the novel The House at Riverton by Kate Morton:

I read something about this book online and thought right away I will read this book. It was great and more than great. Grace Bradley worked as a servant when she was just a young girl. At a society party at her house Grace was a witness to a poet who shot himself. When Grace is older a director is making a film about what happened that summer. This book is full of so much history and I love books like that. I am constantly looking for more. And a book with several pages Mizzreader give me ideas I like huge books filled with historic adventure :)

We, too, are a sucker for big historical novels, and two titles that immediately come to mind are The Blind Assassin and Alias Grace, both by Margaret Atwood. (We are such a fan of Ms. Atwood that when we rescued a kitten who’d been left in the garbage can outside the Main Branch library, we skipped the suggestion that we name her Libby—in honor of the library—and named her Woody as a tribute instead.*) Congrats, braerog90, for scoring a $10 gift card to Farmer Boys! (Huge shoutout to Jill, who took pity on us when we were trolling for donations because she thought our Southern accent was adorable.) Muchas gracias to Team Farmer Boys for your support of Summer Reading!

Fellow Readers, if you have any historical novel recommendations for braerog90 or us–or if you have a persuasive argument for why we should finally just read Ulysses already, feel free to post them in the comments section.

Here are a few reviews that jumped out at us this week:

Strength Training for Beginners by Joan Bassey and Susie Dinan

Reviewed by butterfly2:

 

Strength Training for Beginners is written for women to strengthen bone and muscle. The pictures assist in making sure you do the technique correctly. The exercises are simple enough to do. I wish the book came with time and motivation as well–things I lack.

We could not agree more. While we do understand the importance of physical fitness, this picture sums up Mizz Reader’s attitude:

How to Make a Friend by Rozanne Williams

Reviewed by 2beornot2be:

Too simple, way too overdone. If you’re going to go with a phrase for kids to truly understand about friendship it should be, “Make new friends and keep the other. One is silver and the other is gold.” Now that’s a phrase to take into adulthood. Treasure your friends. That’s all I have to say.

Again—we could not agree more.

The Bride Collector by Ted Dekker

Reviewed by met427:

I am soooo hooked on Ted Dekker! He is a Christian author that writes thrillers! The Bride Collector is a thriller about a police detective trying to  catch a serial killer.  He enlists the help of some patients in the Center for Wellness and Intelligence — which is a fancy name for a place for highly intelligent people that are psychotic — anywhere from schizophrenia to illusions of grandeur.  How does he come up with this stuff!?!? I didn’t want to put the book down!  It’s a must read! I’ve read some reviews of people who want a mystery/thriller without a lot of romantic stuff — then Ted Dekker is the author for you! So far, all the books I’ve read from him have chemistry between characters without all the “extra” romancy stuff.

We <3 you, met 427. We are not against romancy stuff in general. We just don’t want to find it in our mystery/thriller/detective novels.

Until next week—Happy Reading!

*For your viewing pleasure,  pictures of little Woody:

4 Comments »

And (finally!) Our Week 4 Winner is…

Gogol has been chastised, Fellow Readers, and he sheepishly apologizes for holding up our Summer Reading because of his love for techno music and the urge to get his party on. (He says it won’t happen again, but we noticed he could not look us in the eye when he said it.) Anyway, he has spun one of his empty, broken bottles, and the lucky recipient of this week’s prize is cristi1 for her randomly-selected review of the audiobook Turn Coat by Jim Butcher:

True to form, this next book of the Dresden series was awesome. I love this world Jim Butcher has created.

Mizz Reader has not acquainted herself with Jim Butcher yet, but our boss, Jefecita, is a huge fan. When we asked Jefecita what she enjoys most about Butcher’s novels, she said his sense of humor and called him something that rhymes with smart-bass. We love us a good smart-bass, so we plan to start the Dresden series TONIGHT.

cristi1 is now the owner of a $10 gift certificate from the Friends of the Library and an FOL canvas tote bag. Big ol’ thanks to the Friends for their generous support of Summer Reading!

We may have finally found a Summer Reading goal for ourselves: just go down the list of everything ejhall14 submits and be a copy-cat. We’ve already checked out Be Safe, I Love You by Cara Hoffman (mentioned last week). This week, we have been sucked in by two more of ejhall14′s military-themed picks—fiction this time: The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (pseudonym of J.K. Rowling—we did not know this) and The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers. We are especially excited, however, based on ejhall14′s review, to get our hands on Frog Music by Emma Donoghue:

Frog-catcher Jenny Bonnet, an unorthodox young woman often jailed for wearing men’s clothing, is shot to death one evening, the bullet narrowly missing her friend Blanche Beunon, a former circus horseback rider turned burlesque dancer. In Frog Music, Emma Donoghue takes this actual unsolved murder from the intense heat wave and smallpox epidemic of 1876 San Francisco and creates a powerful story. Frog Music is  exciting, suspenseful, appalling, unsavory, heart wrenching and scandalous. Its characters are gritty and flawed. A good summer mystery to read.

“Appalling” and “unsavory” are like honey to Mizz Reader. Thanks for putting this book on our radar!

We also loved loved LOVED the review submitted by theta5494 for The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery:

Another book on the Amazon 100 list.  I read this book as a teenager and now again many years later.  Definitely a different perspective. I then found this on the web: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2014/04/the-strange-triumph-of-the-little-prince.html, which is a discussion of the book — he says it is a war story — written during WWII. I prefer to read it at a not so deep level. 85 children pages long.  Easy to read — even has pictures.

Not only did the review make us go back and re-read this book, but the link to the New Yorker article turned this from a book review into a book discussion! We wish our appreciation came with a cash stipend, theta5494. Unfortunately, all we can offer is this shoutout.

As you probably know by now, Mizz Reader loves a good laugh. Special shoutouts to a few reviewers who made us snort like a donkey this week:

Boxing Mastery: Advanced Technique,Tactics and Strategies from the Sweet Science

braerog90:

Becoming a boxer is not my idea of fun. It is way intense. This book really broke it down well. I think I will stick to yoga.

You and us both, braerog90. You and us both.

(And P.S. Mizz Reader would love to get you a Beagle. Really.)

Snow Drop. Volume One

2beornot2be:

I think I have fallen in love with a new anime series. This is kind of like a modern day version of Romeo and Juliet only this version is much better than the 90′s movie. I mean, really. You’re gonna drive a sports car and say the words “doth” and “thou” in the same sentence? Anyway…on to the review. I love the characters. And I just think it’s absolutely hilarious that Ha-da is falling for a girl that’s really a boy and he’s the only one that doesn’t know it. Classic!

Right???

 

Pooh Gets Stuck

cristi1:

Since it’s a Winnie the Pooh book, I can finally check off the “poo humor” category, can’t I?

Well played, compadre. Well-played.

Until next week, we’ll leave you with this little tidbit of squee. Happy Reading!

2 Comments »

A Slight Glitch…

Well, Fellow Readers, it seems that Gogol decided to host a rave in Mizz Reader’s computer last night, and we are still trying to sweep up the debris. (We are not so much mad at Gogol’s irresponsibility as we are hurt that he did not invite us.) The selection and announcement of our Week 4 randomly-selected prize winner may be delayed until Monday. We’ll keep you posted. If anyone knows any good jokes while we’re waiting, feel free to post them in the comments.

8 Comments »

And Our Week 3 Winner is…

Semana tres of Summer Reading, Fellow Readers, and time for a new randomly-selected book nerd! (Can we agree that being called a book nerd is a good thing? If not, let us know, and we will go back and edit this sentence to read “randomly-selected bibliophilistic lucky duck.”)

The object of Gogol’s whim this week is kjj5766 for the review of Joel Osteen’s book I Declare: 31 Promises to Speak Over Your Life:

This is a wonderful, positive, and uplifting book.  Joel Osteen’s words of wisdom should always be applied in our daily living.

Mizz Reader should probably check this book out; we need to introduce a little positivity into our mental attitude to counterbalance our daily visits to Despair, Inc, a company that produces Demotivational products that—their words—”offer the cure for hope”:

At Despair, we know [motivational slogans] only raise hopes to dash them. That’s why our products go straight to the dashing! Enjoy!

Mizz Reader has this one on a coffee mug:

Never be afraid to share your dreams with the world, because there's nothing the world loves more than the taste of really sweet dreams.

We are sorry we find this so amusing.

Kind of sorry.

Okay, not really sorry at all.

Yes, Mizz Reader definitely needs to check out an uplifting book. Thank you, kjj5766, for putting I Declare on Mizz Reader’s radar.

kjj5766 wins the $30.00 gift certificate to the Downtowne Bookstore on Main St. (The Downtowne Bookstore is Mizz Reader’s hobbit-hole, and we were sorely tempted to hork this gift certificate for ourself.) Huge thanks to owners Vera and Nadia Lee for their generous support of Summer Reading!

In addition to checking out an uplifting book, Mizz Reader seriously needs to get a book on setting goals; we stand in admiration of techia1, whose summer reading goal is to check out every book in the library by children’s author and illustrator Steve Jenkins (we put a hold on his book Actual Size based on your review, techia1) , and braerog90, whose goal is to read the entire C.S. Lewis Narnia series and the Winnie the Pooh classics. (We did once set a goal of reading all of the library’s true crime selections, starting with Ann Rule…which ended up being kind of depressing and, frankly, started to make us a little paranoid—why exactly does Mister Reader need to keep a chainsaw in the garage? We don’t use THAT much firewood. So we bailed after book 5.) Our goal is to have a goal for next year, and we’ll be mining ideas from you guys.

[Side note: Despair, Inc. has a Demotivator for goals. They have a Demotivator for every occasion. Like a Hallmark of the morose.]

Two book reviews that particularly stood out to us this week–because we are in the Demotivator frame of mind–were by slhess1 and kew601, both of whom were willing to go there: call out an author for disappointing fare.

Here’s slhess1′s review of Howard Fast’s novel Greenwich:

This is the first Howard Fast I have read and hated it.  Can’t figure out why he is so popular.  Written so shallowly and kept repeating the same thing which didn’t make it any more believable.  Sorry Howard, this will be my last.

Ouch.

And here’s kew601‘s review of Ben Bova’s New Earth:

Of course, sci fi is NOT about the future. It is a chance to mull over the problems of today. New Earth works only if it is considered a musing on the stupidity & venality of man.The protagonist, the world’s greatest diplomat, throws everything away in about 3 days in order to get into the beautiful aliens’ pants. His brother, the bright-not brilliant scientists has the cognitive & emotional abilities of a bratty 11 year old. Half the characters are mentioned but have no lines, never mind personalities. The technology is right out of 1928 in order to support the plot of this 2013 copyrighted book. Ben, you can do better than this!

Mr. Fast and Mr. Bova, this Demotivator is for you:

When your best just isn't good enough.

Finally, we’d like to end on a positive note and give a shoutout to 2beornot2be‘s review of the children’s book Charlie the Ranch Dog by Ree Drummond:

This story as so adorable. You have Charlie and Suzy. Two dogs living on a farm and both have very different personalities. While it really is Suzie that is responsible for doing a lot of the help around the house Charlie thinks he’s the one doing it when he really just keeps falling asleep. But you can’t help but love him. And his laziness came in handy because when everyone left and he was the only one home…he was able to stop the cows from eating the carrots in the garden…so he really did become a hero!

We <3 stories where laziness wins the day. Why? There’s a Demotivator for that, too:

Hard work often pays off after time, but laziness always pays off now.

Until next week—Happy Reading!

4 Comments »

And Our Week 2 Winner is…

 

 

Hola, Fellow Readers! Another week of summer reading, another weekly winner! But always remember: although there can be only one randomly-chosen winner, we’ve all completed a second a week and we’ve all read (or listened to) at least one book, which means that we are all winners. (Mizz Reader is a huge Seinfeld fan. We did not get to see him perform at the Fox Performing Arts Center in May. If YOU did, we would like to say we are happy for you, but that would be a lie. We are envious. Please send pictures Mizz Reader’s way anyway if you have them.)

Gogol has spoken, and Fellow Reader sdtp43 is now the recipient of a $10 Friends of the Library gift certificate and an FOL tote bag in which to stash the loot from said gift certificate. Here’s sdtp43′s selected review of Heat Wave by Richard Castle:

I love the Castle series and the book was not disappointing either. The book is written as if he is the writer on the series using different names, etc. Rook (ha ha on the name pun, Castle) is a news writer rather than a book writer in the series, following his muse Detective Nikki Heat (in the series it’s detective Becket) in order to write an article about her adventures in crime solving. It is full of the same humor and twists but different story line than the series. Together they solve a double murder and art theft. I am looking forward to reading more of the Castle books and watching the series.

Mizz Reader is a mystery fan herself. We lean towards the tastes of fattycakes17 as expressed in the review for The 8th Confession by James Patterson:

I’ve been following this “detective” story and loving it. However, this one has a bit too much romance in it for me. I’m not into the “electric shock pulsed through my body when we accidentally touched pinky fingers.” It’s supposed to be a “detective” story. I would have given it 4 1/2 to 5 stars if it didn’t have all that.

We, too, prefer our detective and mystery stories to be icky-romance free.  (AKA no cooties allowed).

On another personal note, Mizz Reader is currently engrossed in the book What It is Like to Go to War, which not only is one of our Week 8 prizes but is also the community read pick for California Reads this November.

Riverside Public Library is the regional host for a reading by author Karl Marlantes on November 20th at the Municipal Auditorium. We’ll have more info on the event on our library’s homepage soon.

Mizz Reader, many moons ago, served in the Air Force*, so we are drawn to books on military culture and war—as are several of you Fellow Readers based on the number of reviews submitted this week on the subjects:

Soldier’s Heart by Gary Paulsen

braerog90‘s review:

I fell in love with this book from the beginning. It truly brought what a soldier goes through into my heart. It made me see the young boy as a hero. He started out at fifteen and by nineteen was known as having a soldier’s heart. This is a book sure to touch your heart.

Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides

lovz2cycle‘s review:

When I first started Ghost Soldiers the introduction grabbed me. The writer had a way with the words that made you feel like you were in the jungles sitting in a fox hole with the story unfolding around you, but then I got to chapter 1 which to be honest it was a little painful to get through. I’m not sure if it was too many places and names and stories in such a short time but it took a week for me to get through it. I was greatly pleased to find that the writer got back to telling a story that was gripping with such detail that you could feel every emotion that each man was going through. This story is another fantastic book on the strength of the human soul and the heroism of our great country. It is raw and real in every way. There isn’t any sugar coating, it tells all; the good, the bad and the ugly.

Be Safe I Love You by Cara Hoffman

ejhall14′s review:

Be Safe I Love You by Cara Hoffman is a tale about the corrosive effects of war on the mind. Lauren Clay enlisted as a soldier and returns with deep psychological scars after a tour of duty in Iraq. Hoffman paints with powerful words a portrait of PTSD and the disconnect of a returning female veteran. The reader is challenged to imagine how extraordinarily difficult it must be to reconcile the innate protective instincts of the caregiver with a culture of violence and orders to kill. The symptoms and fallout of PTSD are realistically presented as well as the guilt and shame of war veterans, both in Iraq and previous wars. Other themes are introduced in this modern war fiction: parental desertion, broken families, class division and the choices the working poor must often make. Highly recommended.

All three of these picks are now on Mizz Reader’s must-consume list.

Finally, we’d like to give two special shoutouts this week:

The first goes to theta5494, whose reading goal is to work through Amazon’s 100 Best Books List. Please keep us informed on your progress!

The second goes to iamth3m. In honor of your brillz review of Cervantes’ Don Quixote, we have added “Poop Humor” as a genre selection.

Until next week,

HAPPY READING!

*Mizz Reader likes to joke that when kids played the dozens with our son and hurled the maternal insult “Your mama wears combat boots,” they were, in fact, correct.

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