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Showing posts from 2016

Polar Book Club: Book Lovers Reign in 2017!

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Temperatures are dropping in the Northern Hemisphere as Old Man Winter tries to settle in for a nice, long visit. (Okay, maybe it's not that long, but it feels like it.) 

You know what that means, right?

It's time to announce the selection of the 2017 Polar Book Club! 

Make sure you have enough hot beverage and snacks, nab the warmest blanket, carve out the comfiest spot with excellent lighting, charge your device, grab this year's tome and settle in for a long winter's read. 

Uber-Reader Karen has chosen the book for the 2017 Polar Book Club: The Bookman's Tale.  It sounds like a doozie!

Hay-on-Wye, 1995. Peter Byerly isn’t sure what drew him into this particular bookshop. Nine months earlier, the death of his beloved wife, Amanda, had left him shattered. The young antiquarian bookseller relocated from North Carolina to the English countryside, hoping to rediscover the joy he once took in collecting and restoring rare books. But upon opening an eighteenth-century study…

Review: The Invisible Library

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Any reader who loves books, adventure, libraries, librarians, and chaos is in for the best treat with The Invisible Library, the debut novel by Genevieve Cogman.

When we first meet our intrepid hero, Irene, she is a servant at a posh boys school in — well, it feels like a British boarding school, but I'm not sure where. Or when. I don't know if Irene even knows. All she knows is that she must get her hands on a particular book, and it won't be easy. You see, Irene is a Librarian, and that is her job. She cannot fail. And this time, she doesn't. 
Fast forward to — well, I'm not sure when. Irene is in The Library when she receives her assignment, as well as an assistant, a Librarian-in-training named Kai. There's something about him she just can't put her finger on... but an assignment is an assignment, and the only way a Librarian-in-training can truly train is on the job. There are other, older, and wiser minds at work, and they know what they're doing…

In Flanders Fields, on Veterans Day 2016

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In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
      Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
   Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
         In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
   The torch; be yours to hold it high.
   If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
         In Flanders fields.

Summer Reading Wrap-Up: Plenty of Books, Multiple Media

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As the days get shorter and chillier, I decided to add up my summer reading — and I decided, "Not bad."

Well, not bad for a slacker. I read one less book this year than last year, but I guess we can't all be Karen.

So, without further ado, I bring you...





Chris' 2016 Summer Reading List


Fates and FuriesSummer House With Swimming Pool Between the World and MeGhostly EchoesLet’s Explore Diabetes With Owls The Underground RailroadThe Uninvited Who Goes There? (The Thing)Big MagicDorothy Parker Drank Here A Spirited Tail The GoodbyesSecondhand SoulsAristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the UniverseEverything We Keep If Books Could KillThe Bookseller Unlikely FriendshipsHomicide in HardcoverGhostly PawsThe Sleeper and the Spindle The Body ReaderBlackoutMe and Earl and the Dying Girl Vacations From Hell168 HoursFarewell, Dorothy ParkerWhen Breath Becomes AirIn the Heights CrenshawHow Do You SleepIn the Shadow of BlackbirdsNOS4A2

I tried something new this year. Some titles li…

All Hallows Read: Poetry Makes Everything Better!

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So, Neil Gaiman encourages you to — well, let me let him tell you himself.


Long story short, give friends, family — even total strangers — scary books to read.

I think that's a lovely idea.

Personally, I include a Halloween poem with candy for my trick-or-treaters, and take the poem to work for wide distribution.

Stop by Hedgehog Lover on Halloween to see what poem I chose this year.

Can't wait? Check out the poem from last year on Hedgehog Lover. Or the year before. Try Halloween 2012. Seriously, I'm a fan, and I know you will be, too.

See you October 31!

Summer Reading: How Did You Do? Here's How Karen Did!

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The days are getting cooler, and our intrepid fellow reader, Karen, has updated us on her reading.
Karen reported that she, too, has veered from her reading list. (Unlike anyone else I know who adheres so well to the list constructed with best intentions and good wishes.)
Back to Karen: her reading was off the list, but also off the charts!
Well, I will let her tell it herself.

I ended up way off my reading list this time, but I enjoyed the adventure. In fact, I think this is the longest list I have completed.  I really love my Amazon Kindle Fire.  I am having some vision issues-oh my aging eyes! Luckily the lighted screen on my Fire makes it so much easier to read.
Books read: 
Lord Grenville's Choice A Love That Never Tires The Red Tent 32 Going on Spinster Somewhere in Time Slim Pickins in Fat Chance, Texas Salmon Fishing in the Yemen Tuesday Takes Me There: The Healing Journey of a Veteran and his Service Dog The Girl With all the Gifts Clapton: the Autobiography The Lincoln Pen…

Review: Fates and Furies

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Marriage is unknowable to anyone but the couple — and, in Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff illustrates that even they may not know the complete story.

In her third novel, Groff created an interesting, complex view of a marriage between two very different people who appear deeply in love and totally committed to each other.

The first half of the book, "Fates," captures the tale of Lancelot "Lotto" Sutterwhite, a walking contradiction who finds his calling in the theater. The second half of the tale, "Furies," is told from Mathilde's wifely perspective.

The sections brilliantly capture the characters: "Fates" is careless, while "Furies" is tight and angry. (I picture Tilda Swindon as Mathilde; strange I don't have the same bead on Lotto's Hollywood counterpart.) 

I like the retelling of tales, so to have the same life story told from two different perspectives is brilliant, and a very good demonstration about how little we truly kn…

Summer Reading Winding Down — Or Is It?

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Well, summer readers, how goes your reading list?

Personally, mine has gone as cattywampus as possible (which should not surprise anyone who reads this blog with any regularity). I make a list, I ignore the list, and summer just keeps spinning out of control.

Let me count how many from my published reading list I have consumed since Memorial Day weekend.

Six.

I have, in the past three and a half months, read six out of 35 of the books I planned to read. Oh, I've read 30 books, but I haven't read but a few I planned to read.

Why? Well, blame authors who place tasty morsels in my path that distract me. They're good "distractions," I assure you. One of them was The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, which you want to read. Well, "want" is a tricky concept. You  will be glad to have read it when it's been read, but it won't make you feel as giddy as, say, Ghostly Echoes. Or Farewell, Dorothy Parker. It is an important and great read, so don&…

Review: The Bookseller

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An independent single career woman in Denver during the Cuban Missile Crisis doesn't stand a chance in Cynthia Swanson's novel The BooksellerPerhaps I stayed up way past my bedtime to finish the novel last night, but — man, I feel a little cheated by the story's resolution.

The premise of the story is intriguing. Kitty, a 30-something bookshop owner living in Denver in 1963, begins dreaming about a fictional life with a husband and children. It's a far cry from her current life in a cheerful duplex with Aslan the cat and her struggling bookstore she runs with her childhood friend Frieda.

 The dreams are vivid and appear to have an actual (albeit tenuous) connection to her waking hours. Most importantly, her dreams are perfect. Her husband is handsome, loving and supportive. Her children are charming, well-behaved and beautiful. Her home is custom-built, her wardrobe just-so. She is not disappointed when she goes to the Denver of her dreams.

At first.

The more time s…

August: Let's Get Reading!

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It's August. Let's get reading!


Looking for a good book? E-mail me for suggestions, or pick a title or two from my summer reading list:

Hamilton: The RevolutionWolf HallBone SeasonFuturistic Violence and Fancy SuitsThe Gun SellerWolf HallCrooked Letter, Crooked Letter The Sixth ExtinctionRevivalBellman and BlackSee you in September — let's compare our reading list successes then!

U.S. Poet Laureate: @ the Crossroads - A Sudden American Poem

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@ the Crossroads - A Sudden American Poem

RIP Philando Castile, Alton Sterling, Dallas police
                       officers Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael J. Smith,
                       Brent Thompson, and Patrick Zamarripa—and all
                       their families. And to all those injured.
                                               Let us celebrate the lives of all As we reflect & pray & meditate on their brutal deaths Let us celebrate those who marched at night who spoke of peace & chanted Black Lives Matter Let us celebrate the officers dressed in Blues ready to protect Let us know the departed as we did not know them before—their faces, Bodies, names—what they loved, their words, the stories they often spoke Before we return to the usual business of our days, let us know their lives intimately Let us take this moment & impossible as this may sound—let us find The beauty in their lives in the midst of their sudden & never imagined vanishing
Let us …

Poetry Wednesday: Wilfred Owen, Graphically Rendered

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Wilfred Owen: Dulce Et Decorum Est,
Graphically Represented


One century ago, the world was stunned and wounded by The Great War.

Poet Wilfred Owen, a casualty of the war himself, tried to tell us the cost. here is one of his most well-known poems rendered graphically by Nathan Gelgud.

courtesy Signature

Independence Day: Our Diversity Is Our Strength

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Independence Day, celebrated on July 4 in the United States, is an exciting day, one whose origin is all but forgotten — or, perhaps, ignored.

In the late eighteenth century, a group of immigrants occupied a country under the control of a monarch across the ocean. Rather than live as subjects of the English crown, the people of the nation rose up and claimed independence from the crown.

Who were these people? French, English, Irish, Scottish, African — in a word, immigrants. Some came for personal safety and security, some came for financial reasons.

We celebrate still, two and a half centuries later. Yet let's always remember what made us great: our diversity, which, when harnessed, exuded a power too great for even a king.

When we stand together, we are too mighty a force to be defeated. Do not let anyone, within or without, divide us and dilute our greatness and power.

Click on the video below for a reading of the Declaration of Independence, courtesy of Max McLean.

Library Loot: Magic and Mystery

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I am sorry to admit, my last Library Loot was less than thrilling. The short-story collection featured love scenes more reminiscent of Fifty Shades of Gray than Gone With the Wind.

Tails of Love, indeed.

So, I approached the Vacations from Hell with great caution. (So far, so good.) I think I already read Sir Terry's book — I am a fan of Discworld's witches — so I may have to read it (again?) to be sure.

Interestingly enough, neither of those delightful paperbacks were among those that took me to the library in the first place.

I met Victor LaValle through his most recent story that hearkens to H.P. Lovecraft without the racism. (I am embarrassed to say that I hadn't paid close attention to anything but Cthulu— who is even scarier when portrayed by modern artists as something that stands thigh-high in the deepest oceans.) (How Cthulu fits below passing ships is entirely beyond me). Anyway, I found The Ballad of Black Tom, LaValle's latest novella, intriguing, so I figu…

Library Loot: Critters, Book Mystery and Love Medicine

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Lately, I've been spending more time at the library website than actually inside the building. Yes, I've discovered the thrill of audiobooks and e-books downloaded to my very own Kindle. It's like a miracle: a click or two and I have free loot on my machine!

Well, this Friday, I stopped by the library and discovered a couple of honest to goodness paper books I simply had to take home, starting with the first of a "bibliophile mystery" series, followed by more than one about animals (shocker) and a National Book Award winner.

I probably will not read them all — I think I'm more in the mood for short stories these days — but we shall see. My lending period is three weeks, and a lot can happen in that short period of time.

I still have my summer reading list to plow through — and yes, I already have gone off the list for my latest read, but what a great novel! I'll review that one soon, but here's a hint: World War I, Spanish influenza and San Diego spi…

Summer Reading Club: The List

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Summer means reading — and summer reading club! 

As a child, I loved joining the local library's summer book club the first day of summer break, reading the requisite number of books and more, and visiting the library as often as I could get there (I lived within walking distance, ands it was the 1970s, so it was often).

Well, let this be your annual summer reading club for those of us who do not have one anymore. Read for the sheer joy of it — and perhaps win a free book!

Visit your library (public or private), your local bookstores and thrift shops, yard sales and online book suppliers, friends and family, and choose what books look like they need to be read this summer.

So here's what I hope to consume this summer between the Memorial Day weekend and the first weekend in autumn. This year, that date is Friday, May 27 through Sunday, September 25.
If past years serve as guides, I shall carefully create a list, pondering my own library and my published library wish list, check out…

Review: NOS4A2

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I love a good horror story, and Joe Hill's NOS4A2 is a good horror story.  In fact, it was a great horror story. It had true fear and horror, great characters and a fascinating storyline.

I read it on three platforms — audio, e-book and print book — and it was great in each. In fact, I would strongly recommend giving Kate Mulgrew's audio performance a try, no matter your stance on audiobooks.

However, it was relentless enough, and long enough, to make me beg for sweet release by the end.

Plus, I can never stomach how the King men kill animals in their novels. (Seriously, guys, just stop it. Just because you can doesn't mean you should. Even when it makes total sense and makes the story more poignant, resist the urge. Thank you.)

Okay, back to the topic at hand. I started the book a couple of times since its publication in 2013. I got as far as the prologue, maybe a couple of pages into the body of the book, and put it down. It was weird and fascinating, but it didn't …

Discover Summer Reading in 2016!

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It's that time of year again: summer days full of books and discovery.

Join our annual summer reading club and spend the summer reading all of the books you want — and put yourself in the running for a free book!

That's right: if you are the book club member who reads the most books — electronic, audio and print — you will win a new book.

The reading period is from Memorial Day weekend through the end of summer. This year, let's choose Friday, May 27 through Sunday, September 25.

Send me your list any time you're ready. I'll publish mine by the end of May.

Join the club: read all summer!


National Poetry Month and A Poem from the Cat

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National Poetry Month Includes 
A Poem From the Cat




Makes you tingle, doesn't it? Enjoy a new poem daily in April at my other blog, Hedgehog Lover. If you have suggestions, be sure to share them!

Thanks to Delaware Humanities Forum for the great poetry graphic at the top of the page. The cat poet is anonymous (which isn't unexpected — just ask T.S. Eliot about cat names.)

Is it Time to Abandon the Reading List?

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I have shelves and shelves of books. Nearly two dozen shelves alone are dedicated to fiction. A couple of these books already have been read, but most are waiting for the tender caress of this reader's eyes. The same holds true for my bursting-at-the-seams Kindle.

Many of these books are ones I have been promising myself to read. These were lovingly snatched out of the bookstore on Publishing Day or pre-ordered online. I couldn't wait to read them. So, what happened?
Time. Energy. A massive, towering, intimidating to-read stack on my nightstand and desk. Life. You name it, that pushes it down the to-read list.
From time to time, I jump the line (John Connolly and Night Music: Nocturnes 2, I am looking at you!) but certainly not often enough if The Map of the Sky is not yet read (let alone The Map of Chaos) and Beastly Bones remained "new" on my Kindle for months.
What is the answer to reading what I want when my sole task is to read what I want?
One suggestion is to…

Review: Luckiest Girl Alive

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Critics think they are doing Jessica Knoll a favor by comparing her debut novel to Gillian Flynn's books. They are not. I, as a reader, was led to expect an entirely different book than I got.
Is Luckiest Girl Alive suspenseful? Sure. 

Does it tease out the story with plenty of foreboding and dangling clues and teasers? You bet. 

Are there some surprises in there? A few. 

In fact, it's one of the best-written books I've read in a while. However, the hype around the book influenced my reading of it, which wasn't fair to me, Knoll or poor TifAni.
As the book opens, Ani FaNelli is living the life of her dreams. She works not at just any magazine, but The Women's Magazine. She isn't just engaged, but engaged to a blue-blood, Old Money bachelor with an obscenely wealthy family. Her address, her clothes, even her friends are Just Right — rich in all the right ways, and all because of fiancé Luke. She is starving herself into a size six wedding dress, drunk half the time,…