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Review: the Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

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Full confession: I was intrigued by V.E. Schwab's novel  The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue  both because of  its premise and because of the rave reviews by other readers. When a fellow reader said they sobbed loudly at the neighborhood Starbucks as they finished the novel, and another said they wished they could read it again for the first time, I thought it was right up my alley. I saved The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue to read on vacation, so I could savor the experience (and sob into my coffee, if needed).  Alas, there was no sobbing — just a bit of head-scratching.  Warning: spoilers ahead. Feel free to bookmark this review for future reading, if you want to finish the book first. Okay.... If you're still here.... Let's get to it. First of all: the relationship between Addie and Luc confused me. Luc was the enemy. A sexy enemy, sure, but an enemy nonetheless. He wanted to see Adeline break, but... his actions toward her signaled more than a dark god's fancy in a s

Summer Reading 2021: Freedom to Read, and My First Summer Read

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This summer, celebrate your freedom — to read! Not to dwell, but it's been tough lately: there has been a lot we couldn't safely do, and places we couldn't safely go. However, the summer holds promise: of health, of travel, of long days doing what makes us happiest, with the people who mean the most to us. Personally, I have missed My Library People. I have felt a distinct, gnawing loss from limited library access. Many of My Library workers and volunteers are good friends — and I haven't seen them in a year and a half. I miss them.   Thankfully, My Library is returning to regular hours and services soon, and I can breathe a (hesitant) sigh of relief. Let's do all we can to help vaccination rates soar while infection rates plummet.  If you haven't yet receive your COVID-19 vaccination, please check with your local or state health department for information on your options. If you need help, please contact me and I'll help you navigate your way to JMoPfize L

Review: Anxious People

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I will be honest: Anxious People made me anxious at first. I had to take a break for a while because I couldn't get past the tragedy and sadness that started the book. I wanted to trust Frederik Backman , so I took a few weeks off, read a few other things, then went back to this book. I am so glad I did. Gender is fluid in this book. Some characters don't get pronouns, which I thought was a hackneyed parlor trick — but realized it was an important clue that was reinforced later in the story. Plus, the author bounced around with gender expectations: at first, I assumed a cheating spouse was a lesbian because it made as much sense as any other gender association.  So many pairs of people at the open house! Traditional, non-traditional, current, past, future. And so many stages of life. What an amazing microcosm. So many surprises! I truly had no idea what was happening much of the time. The structure of Anxious People was unique, blending the past interviews with the current st

The Life of a Little Free Library in the Wild

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A Little Free Library is a wonderful community hub, especially these days when the pandemic restricts contact and movement. My neighborhood includes three different communities, and each has its own Little Free Library. Each Library has its own content, but they all face one similar problem: an overabundance of donations. One library, located near the city playground, offers children's books. The off-white double-door library is placed between two benches under large trees, surrounded by birdsong and the hum of passing traffic. Wide and squat, both shelves feature picture books and young reader chapter books. There are a couple of books for older readers nestled on the top shelf.  The newest, and smallest, library is adjacent to one community's private park. The tall, narrow library can hold about a dozen books behind its strong, dark red door, and usually features a mix of adult and young adult reads. One large, heavy tome dominates the right lower shelf, but the rest typicall

Review: The Midnight Library

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If you had a chance to "fix" your life by changing decisions you made, would you? Matt Haig gives Nora Seed that chance — a happy life and redemption for perceived past mistakes — in The Midnight Library , and the outcome will change the way you see your own life. More importantly, Haig understands depression, and demonstrates that to his readers on every page. As humans navigate through the real-life terror of a raging global pandemic — and, in America, an unprecedented threat to the foundation of our once-lauded government — we face uncertainty and fear. That, and the unknown future, have stressed every aspect of society. Many are struggling, and are facing mental challenges and mental illness. Haig personifies such challenges with respect and empathy. While no one has a flawless life absent of regret, Nora's life is — well, a complete mess. She has opportunities in her life to excel, learn, take adventures, connect with other people, but she turns away from them all,

Review: The Unteachables

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I read pretty much all genres, all age levels — but I am discerning. Like the child I once was, who would have picked up this book in a heartbeat, I read what I consider quality writing and illustrations. So I know what I like — and I truly enjoyed  Gordon Korman 's  The Unteachables . It is a delightful and worthy read, even for those close(r) to (early) retirement.  Zachary Kermit can see early retirement from his desk at Greenwich Middle School. While his classroom changes every year, his goal does not. Early retirement has been his goal for decades, as he was moved from classroom to classroom, subject to subject, after a crushing disappointment in his early years of teaching. And what a teacher he was! Fierce, engaging, supportive, and driven. Nothing like the silent, coffee-swilling shell of an educator sitting at the front of the class in Room 117. School Superintendent Dr. Thaddeus, worried about budgets, sees Mr. Kermit's family's longevity and cringes: the school d

My 12 Favorite — and Two Least Favorite — Books of 2020

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In the Reading Year 2020, I read nearly every genre in every medium. I read all over the calendar, today's newest fiction and books from days gone by; I'm never sure what will truly captivate me on the page. I read text in print and ebooks, and I listen to books on my daily run. (I am an equal opportunity consumer.) 2020 was not a typical year of reading for me, at least at first. The pandemic coupled with short staffing at work made reading difficult — but never impossible. I need to read as much as I need air and sunshine (but not nearly as much as I need sleep, apparently). Halfway through the year, I recaptured my reading momentum, and I didn't look back. I read 95 books in just about every genre. Some of the books were modest in length — some were graphic novels, and a few were picture books — but the biography of Queen Elizabeth topped the scale at 721 pages, so I was no slacker. According to Goodreads, I averaged 245 pages per book.  I had a very rewarding reading ye