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Summer Reading: How's it Going?

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Everyone in the Book World has been heralding "summer reading" since March. Hopefully, you've taken up the torch (or, perhaps, flashlight ) for the cause. What are you reading? Myself, I've been bouncing all over the place. I've read fiction and non-fiction, listened to audiobooks, uploaded books to my e-reader, lugged hardbacks and paperbacks to the park, on vacation, and my backyard. Here are a few of my favorites: Ghost Fleet — What will World War III look like? This book supposes the event to take place at an unspecified time in the late 2000s. An archnemeses of the United States takes it upon themselves to restructure the world order, and we meet the key players on both sides. It read like a movie in my head. The characters were diverse and powerful, and the story riveting. Written in 2014 by military-technology experts, we got a glimpse of how it might go down. If you read the e-book, you can skip the embedded footnotes, which add nothing to the story but a

Summer Reading: How Time Flies!

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Summer reading may have been over for a brief time — but time is fluid these days, and why not let your mind wander back to times of warmer weather (in the northern hemisphere) and longer days. I read a few good books, a few meh books, and one or two that didn't do the trick for me. Let's start with the ones I disliked so much I stopped reading them.  People really like Glennon Doyle, but with  Untamed , I skipped ahead to find something that didn't sound like heady new love and platitudes. I surrendered and stopped listening after about 70 percent. Stranded  should have been my jam, but I could not stand the thoughtless, selfish, and reckless central character Sophie. Sure, if I was in the same situation, I may fight against a new reality that shoots me back a century into a completely different society. However, I doubt I would willfully, blatantly, and thoughtlessly offend and jeopardize my protective host. I gave it a surprisingly long time to find its groove, and the e

Review: The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World

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I picked up The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World on a whim: the cover is exquisite, and the title intrigued me.  I knew nothing beyond the blurb: the phone booth was real, and the author’s name did not appear to be traditional Japanese.    In fact, the Italian novelist, Laura Imai Messina, was born and raised in Rome. The book was written in Italian and translated into English. Messina earned advanced college degrees at Japanese universities and has lived in Japan for 15 years. Her husband is Japanese, and they have two children. Messina’s middle name translates from Japanese to “new residence” or “new well.” She does not appear to be native Japanese, but I trusted her to tell the story. I am glad I did. This is such an understated, gorgeously written book, I am at a loss as to where to start. It is filled not just with loss — people travel to Bell Gardia to connect with lost loved ones — but with love, hope, surprises, and acceptance. Grief is a personal journey, and in our own g

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

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