Saturday, August 31, 2013


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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson - Book Review

We have Always Lived in the Castle
BookWe Have Always Lived in the Castle
AuthorShirley Jackson
Genre: Fiction
Publisher/Publish DatePenguin Classics / 1962
Source: Public Library
Pages: 146
Rating: 4/5
GoodReads  •  Amazon

Dark, melodic and poetic, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, tells the story of two sisters and their wheelchair bound uncle who live together in the house where the rest of their family died. I don't want to give too much away, but fairly early in the book you learn that one of the sisters was accused and tried for poisoning 4 family members. They live on a large peice of property that they have closed off to the world, and only one of them ever leaves, to pick up groceries on her bi-weekly. They have a couple family friends who visit them, but other than that, they have closed themselves off to a world they find hostel.

I wasn't familiar with Jackson's writing but was recommended it, and was glad I picked it up to read. The copy that I got not only have a pretty awesome cover by Thomas Ott (see above), but also a great introduction by Jonathan Lethem that informed my about Jackson as an author. Lethem explains that parts of Jackson's personality highly influences these characters, helping me appreciate the story better.

Jackson is best known for her short story, The Lottery, so if you are curious, that would be a good start into reading this author. I highly recommend this book, and it's short, so doesn't take too long to read.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Cuckoo's Calling by J.K. Rowling - Book Review

BookThe Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike #1)
Author Robert Galbraith (Pseudonym), J.K. Rowling
Genre: Mystery
Publisher/Publish DateMulholland Books / April 30, 2013
Source: Local Library
Pages: 455
Rating: 4.5/5
GoodReads  •  Amazon

I requested this book from the library as soon as it was revealed that J.K. Rowling was the offer. It was a good thing I was so fast, a week later there were 600+ holds on the book.

While I don't read too many crime novels, I do enjoy crime shows, and found this book hard to put down. Rowling did a great job of creating a complex mystery and I didn't even have a clue who was guilty until it was revealed.

The main character, Detective Cormoran Strike, hires a temp assistant, Robin, who I am assuming will be a character throughout the series (more books are planned). But I felt she lacked any development, there were just hints at her life outside the office, so I am looking forward to her being a large part of the story in subsequent novels.

Overall the novel is fairly light though touches on deeper issues, and I'm really looking forward to reading more about Strikes detective agency and seeing what other mysteries he solve.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Craft Party courtesy of Brit + Co

This weekend me and my sister invited a few friends over for a craft party. Brit + Co provided us with some craft kits for making makeup bags and some nail polish to decorate them. We had a ton of fun, as you can see in these photos:)

I'm thinking I need to plan another craft party in the fall!

Friday, August 23, 2013

More from Connie Willis - Novella Review

On Wednesday I posted a general review of Connie Willis' collection of short stories, The Winds of Marble Arch, and today I am back with two more reviews.

The Last of the WinnebagosOut of the four novellas I read, this on was my favorite. It's set in a time when animals are dying off, roads and cars are changing drastically, and technology is taking over the job of newspaper photographers (ok, that last one seems to be happening already).

David McCome is a reporter and photographer on route to report on the last RV on the road. RV's are banned in all but four states and relegated to only driving on the old undivided multiways.

On his way he passes a dead jackal on the road, bringing back memories of his old dog and the day he died. The story weaves in many side stories and mysteries, with a satisfying ending.

Even The Queen
In a futurist setting, Traci's daughter joins group called the Cyclists. In recent history women have made strides to become more like men, remove third-person singular pronouns and use words like "herstory." but this pre-Liberation women's groups wants to go back to the core of who they are as women. They want to have their periods again. 

It seems that during the liberation women decided to implant a shunt to free them of their monthly cycle and all the negative effects of it. So now, the alternative thing to do, is to have the shunt remove and get back to nature.

As Traci's mother-in-law bring the family together to try and "save" the daughter, there is humorous debates over the pros and cons of having a menstrual cycle, and beautifully written dialog among the women of the family.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 
I'd recommend this book for people who like science fiction or short stories, or anyone else to wants to read. Luckily the short stories don't take too much commitment, and if you don't like it, you probably will be done in a few pages.

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks! 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Winds of Marble Arch and Other Stories by Connie Willis - Novella Review

BookThe Winds of Marble Arch and Other Stories
AuthorConnie Willis
Genre: Short Stories, Sci-Fi 
Publisher/Publish DateSubterranean Press / 2007
Source: Public Library
Pages: 700
Rating: 3.5/5
GoodReads  •  Amazon

While I rarely read short stories, I was recommended this author on a podcast I listen to, Books On The Nightstand, which I would recommend to anyone who loves books. The hosts have dubbed 2013 "The Year of the Short Story" and have been recommending a story or two each week. Their review of Connie Willis "Fire Watch" intrigued me and I decided to check out a collection of her stories from the library. This book is 700 pages! And contains 23 stories, so I decided not to over due it but read and review four stories that were highlighted on the dust jacket. A celebrated Science Fiction writer who has won many awards, Willis has been called, "the most relentlessly delightful science fiction writer alive."

As many of her novels plop you right down in the middle of the world she's created,  and it takes a few pages, or until the end to discover what really is going on, there may be some spoilers in the following reviews.

A Letter from the Clearys
Located miles and miles from anyone, Lynn lives with her over protective parents and a family friend, Mrs. Talbot. On a trip to the post office to pick up some magazines, she discovers a letter from the Clearys. As the story continues we discover there was some sort of large explosion that wiped out most of the population, and possibly the Clearys who were supposed to be visiting them at the time it happened. They now live in fear or looters.

This novela, like many of the others, focuses on the characters and the details of their life, which in turn allows us to discover the nature of the world they are living in.

Fire Watch
This novela in particular was recommended by the podcast I mentioned above. In the world this story is set in, historians travel in time. They seem to travel to record date about specific events, i.e. number of deaths and certain dates, but I questions that their presence there would possibly change history.

Mr Bartholomew is tasked with traveling to London in 1940, during the Blitz, with little advance warning and little time to train. While he seems unsure about what his task is exactly, he is sent to the church St Paul's to be part of the fire watch, and spends three months helping put out the bombs that land on the roof.

Willis is skilled at creating a universe with it's own vocabulary and way of life, which I really enjoyed in this story.

Check back on Friday for reviews of two more novellas from this collection.

*Please note that we receive affiliate income from any books purchased at Amazon. 

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

This Is Portland by Alexander Barrett - Book Review

BookThis Is Portland: The City You've Heard You Should Like
AuthorAlexander Barrett
Genre: Travel/Memoir 
Publisher/Publish DateMicrocosm Publishing / 2011
Source: Local Library
Pages: 64
Rating: 4.5/5
GoodReads  •  Amazon

Cute cover. Cute book. I first saw this book at Powell's and luckily our library had a copy of it.

This is a collection of 13 short essays about Portland, such as why rain is good, and bad. Which neighborhoods are the best to live in, at least according to your friends. And about Portland's love of good coffee.

Check out the link to Amazon to "look inside" the book, the illustrations are great.

The publisher is pretty cool and offers a pay what you want ($10-30/month) subscription to all their publications, and they publish some pretty great things so it's a pretty great deal.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


No two persons ever read the same book - Edmund Wilson

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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Dangerous Fiction by Barbara Rogan - Book Review

BookA Dangerous Fiction: A Mystery
AuthorBarbara Rogan
Genre: Mystery 
Publisher/Publish DateViking Adult / July 25, 2013
SourceARC courtesy of publisher
Pages: 336
Rating: 4.5/5
GoodReads  •  Amazon

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but it in no way effects my review of the book.

So good! But an understated good, if that makes sense. I read quite a few ARC's, so it's always great when I get to read one I enjoy so much. And this one was published in July, so if you like a good mystery novel, go buy this or get it from your library.

The tone of the novel harkens back to classic crime novels, i.e.: "It was a dark and storm night," from Paul Clifford. Literary Agent Jo Donovan has lead a tough life, but she's a fighter and has come out on top. She runs on of the best literary agencies, although widowed, had a wonderful relationship with a renowned author, and has some great close friends.

But an ambitious writer threatens to ruin it all, when he starts stalking her and attacking those around her. At the same time, and ambitious author working on a biography of her late husband, starts digging around, causing Jo to question if her memory is as accurate as she thinks.

And of course there needs to be a little romance, as an old fame who is now a NYPD detective takes her case, and tries to help her track down who her stalker is.

As I said above, I really enjoyed it and it was hard to put down (which is my favorite type of book). The plot is neat, and ties up loose ends, which I appreciate. And the characters are complex and true to life.

The author's page on GoodReads mentions this is the "first in a new mystery series set in the high-stakes world of big publishing," so I'm excited to hear there may be more. I could see this becoming a really great movie. A triller with heart.

*Please note that we receive affiliate income from any books purchased at Amazon.

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks! 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Accidental Time Traveller by Janis Mackay - Book Review

BookAccidental Time Traveller
AuthorJanis Mackay
Genre: YA, Middle Grade 
Publisher/Publish DateFloris Books / May 1, 2013
Source: Publisher, NewGalley
Pages: 240
Rating: 3/5
GoodReads  •  Amazon

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, but it in no way effects my review of the book.

Most Young Adult (YA) or Middle-Grade books fall somewhere along the spectrum of either having weak characters, and a weak plot, which the younger readers may not notice, or being very well written, and enjoyable for adults. I found this one fit somewhere in between, and I would highly recommend it to middle and grade schoolers.

Shortlisted for the Scottish Children's Book Award 2013, the story begins with Saul, on his way to the local store to buy some items for his mother, witnesses a girl suddenly appear in the middle of the road. After rescuing her, he's surprised at how puzzled she is by traffic, items in the shop, and she's wearing a very dated looking dress. Agatha Black introduces herself, and we soon discover she's traveled through time with the help of her father, who we find isn't the best time traveler.

Through Agatha, Saul learns about the history of his small town in Scotland, and she learns about what life is like in the 21st century. She gets to attend school, meet some of this friends, but she really wants to go home, and Saul tries his best and helping her travel back in time.

Please note that we receive affiliate income from any books purchased at Amazon.

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Family Camping Trip

I recently moved closer to my family, and wanted to take advantage of the beautiful weather to go camping. Luckily my parents have a decent sized trailer for all 6 of us. Though I have to say sharing a bed with my adorable niece did not turn out as great as I thought it would be.

We had a great time hiking, walking down to the river, cooking marshmallows, and got in a decent amount of reading.

If you are ever in the area I highly recommend this park (Ike Kinswa State Park in southern Washington). It has a beautiful lake for boating, fishing, swimming, and of course rock throwing.)

Every time she sees a tree she says "I climb?"


Friday, August 2, 2013

July - What I Read

After a really slow reading month in June (only 3 books), I kicked it up a notch in July. Though it helped that one is a photo book, another I only read part of, and yet another was short stories.
Coyote Lost at Sea, by Julia Plant 
I really enjoy adventure books and this was no exception. It's a look at the life of Mike Plant, seen through the eyes of his younger sister Julia. He's a solo sailer, willing to risk his life for the sport he loved. [my review]

Kneading to Die, by Liz Mugavero
A good beach read with a bit of heart. Luckily the pet parts didn't over power the other good qualities of the book. [my review]

Vanishing Portland, by Ray Bottenberg
A photography book, showing historical architecture in Portland Oregon, along side a bit of info. Fun way to see and read about the history of this city.
Portland in Three Centuries, by Carl Abbott
Another history book about Portland Oregon, but with a lot more words. I only made it through half of it. It found it interesting, but it had a lot of details and I felt ready to move onto another book.

The Short, Strange Life of Herschel Grynszpan, by Jonathan Kirsch
While I really liked this book and learned a lot from it, it wasn't the most fun book to read. I powered through it and was glad I did. [my review]

Seaside Harmony, by Evangeline Kelley
Another good beach read or summer read. Lighthearted and made me wish I could take a trip to where the book was set.
Accidental Time Traveller, by Janis Mackay
A pretty decent Middle Grade book about a young girl who travels and gets stuck in time.

A Dangerous Fiction, by Barbara Rogan
A really great mystery novel. Well written with a plot that is layer though not too complicated to get confusing. Expect a review for this soon.

The Winds of Marble Arch and Other Stories, by Connie Willis
A collection of short stories. I read four of them, and really enjoyed them. Mostly I am not a huge fan of short stories though, would rather have something around 300-400 pages with a good story I can get lost in.