The Flood

30 September 2008. The day will go down in infamy. The day I woke early (ish) to the sound of rushing water and thought it was nothing but a nice rain and promptly fell back to sleep. I woke to my roommate telling me the basement had flooded. Apparently a water main had broken, water had filled our basement window wells to fill then break. I rushed downstairs to assess the damage. My books. My precious books (at least some of them) were in that basement. I lost over fifty good friends that day, some acquired after hours scouring used bookstores. Some new beautiful books. Some old battered book. Each a book I’d read, marked, enjoyed. Ironically the book of crappy bestsellers that I inevitably get for Christmas each year was unharmed. And the box of books I’d consigned to Goodwill. They were just fine. I tried to shrug it off. “They’re only books.” I bravely said, but inside I was screaming “Why didn’t I unpack you and put you on shelves???” “Why didn’t I protect you?” “Why are you gone?” I still think about those books. I’ve replaced a few of them. Others are irreplaceable.  I suppose I will always think about it. I will think about the books that didn’t make it and those that did. I still have the little red set of books that my father had as a child. I still have my journals. I still have my first copy of Friday’s Child. Yes, I lost some friends, but what remained is even more precious now. And yes, they are upstairs, unpacked, on shelves, right where they belong.

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A Long Way Home: A Boy’s Incredible Journey from India to Australia and Back Again

by Saroo Brierly

A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierly

By now everyone has heard this story as the movie based on this book, Lion, was nominated for all sorts of awards. My husband got this for me before the movie was a thing, and so the first time I saw the trailer for the movie I’d already read the book and therefore had a bunch of pre conceived notions about what it should be, but that is another story for another time. You all know my thoughts on movies based on books.  Read More »

Rebel of the Sands

by Alwyn Hamilton

Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton

Okay, I am warning you right now this is the first book in what looks to be a YA fantasy series so it could go on forever. I didn’t know that when I bought this book. I was hoping for a quick little one off. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) this book was good enough that now I am going to have to continue reading the series. The problems of a person that reads a lot of books… Read More »

The Dressmaker

by Rosalie Ham

The Dressmaker by Rosalie Ham

I saw a trailer for the movie version of this book a few years after the movie was in theaters. As usual, I thought, hmmm… looks like an okay movie, but I bet the book is better. Having never seen the film, I can’t promise I am correct, but the book was fine. It wasn’t wonderful, but entertaining enough. Read More »

Run Gently Out There: Trials, Trails, and Tribulations of Running Ultramarathons

by John Morelock

Run Gently Out There: Trials, Trails, and Tribulations of Running Ultramarathons by John Morelock

Ah, the book that single-handedly killed my love of running. Just kidding. I’m being a bit dramatic, but in a running book my bar is reasonably low: Does this book make me want to run? If the answer is no, then it isn’t a great running book. But I get ahead of myself. Read More »

Assassination Vacation

by Sarah Vowell

Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell

I don’t know what it is about the darker moments in US history that people find so fascinating, but perhaps it is that psychological warm blanket of knowing that an awful thing happened while you are safe. I could ponder this all day but you came for a review and a review you are going to get.  Read More »

S is for Silence

by Sue Grafton

S is for Silence by Sue Grafon

Rarely do I feel so viscerally about a Grafton book. Generally they fall on the good sort of okay scale don’t make me regret the time spent on them, but are very forgettable once they are done. Read More »

The Girl on the Train

by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins

Full disclosure, this is usually the type of book that I really dislike. The characters are awful, I mean AWFUL. Flawed, and petty, and one dimensional, but for whatever reason I really enjoyed it. Possibly because all the characters are loathable so I wasn’t rooting for or against any of them.  Read More »

Listen, Slowly

by Thanhha Lai

Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai

So, I am not Vietnamese, but I am multi cultural. My mom is Chilean, so I understand what it is to float between two cultures, to be American and something else. I’ve rarely read a book, fiction/non-fiction/YA/Adult that captures so well what it means to embrace the beauty of two different cultures to understand what it means to be a person. Read More »

Sixpence House: Lost in a Town of Books

by Paul Collins

Sixpense House by Paul Collins

Help me out there book-lovers: Do you find yourselves getting sucked into reading books about books? That is how Sixpence House came into my hands. Read More »

Hellhound on His Trail: The Electrifying Account of the Largest Manhunt in American History

by Hampton Sides

Hellhound on His Trail: The Electrifying Account of the Largest Manhunt in American History by Hampton Sides

I’m a fan of Hampton Sides, if he writes it, I’m going to read it. (I’m currently reading Amercana: Dispatches from the New Frontier and loving it) I read this book at a challenging time which made it a very heavy read. Read More »

Me Before You

by Jojo Moyes

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Oh, yes I did. Yes I DID pick out a cheesy/romantic book to read. Did I read it in a day? Yes. Did I cry? Yes. How did I fall into this trap, you ask? That is a very interesting question. Read More »

Captive Paradise: A History of Hawaii

by James L. Haley

Captive Paradise by James Haley

Way back in the early days of 2016, my husband and I decided that we would do something spectacular for his four week sabbatical rather than the yard work and errands that we’d initially talked about. Then randomly we decided we’d go to Hawaii, and we’d take the kids. I’ve never had a lot of interest in Hawaii, it seemed too touristy, too obvious, too not my kind of island, but once we decided we’d go (and take three kids aged five and under) for 2+ weeks in paradise, I threw myself into research mode. Read More »

Uprooted

by Naomi Novik

Uprooted by Kim Novak

Guys, this book was good. Also, let me put it out there THIS IS A STAND ALONE BOOK!!! Hallelujah! Finally! Read More »

Merlin’s Keep

by Madeleine Brent

Merlin's Keep by Madeleine Brent

Take a trip with me to nostalgia town. Really, I first read Madeleine Brent the summer before I turned 13 and I thought they were the BEST books ever. Back in that time my idea of romance came from Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott. Then I discovered Madeleine Brent, Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart, and Georgette Heyer. They were my Jr. High staples, and for a LONG while (longer than I’d like to admit) I would re-read my favorites each year.
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Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things

by Jenny Lawson

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

So, apparently Jenny Lawson writes a beloved blog. I did not know that when I put this on my Christmas wishlist. I thought the description was intriguing enough and at this point in my life various people I know have suddenly become depressed, are seeking help for depression, or are recovering from depression. I was hoping to get a humorous insight into the disordered or depressed mind… that isn’t exactly what I got. Read More »

An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11-year-old Panhandler, a Busy Sales Executive, and an Unlikely Meeting with Destiny

by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresniowski

An Invisible Thread: The True Story of an 11-Year-Old Panhandler, a Busy Sales Executive, and an Unlikely Meeting with Destiny by Laura Schroff and Alex Tresnioski

Get ready with the tissues because this book is full of big feelings. In this day and age negative race relations is big money as it sells newspapers, has splashy headlines, and evokes strong emotions. Unfortunately the media has seized on the negativity in a way the early yellow journalists manufactured threats, wars, and published rumor as fact. Read More »

The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two

by Catherynne M. Valente

The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne Valente

I’ve been vocal about my support for Valente and her work but I can not lie to  you, this last book took me way too long to get into. I just didn’t find the story as compelling no matter how prettily it was written. Read More »

The Goldfinch

by Donna Tartt

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Fun back story, because I know you come for the back story. My husband bought me this book (it has been on my to-read list… a VERY long list) from a used book store for Christmas two years ago. Inside there is an inscription “To my sweet Love Jo, I hope you’ll enjoy this book… and many more that I plan to give you :) Always yours, Oren Liberman” Then there was some Hebrew (?) and it was dated Feb 9th 2015. So… the detective in me goes to work. Jo could either be I guy or a gal, I am assuming Oren is a man, a man who plans to give many more books and likes to write smiley faces. What happened to Oren and Jo? A mere few months later this book was in a used bookstore being purchased by my guy who likes to give me books. Did one of them die? Was there a falling out? Was Jo using Oren for the books? Cold, Jo, so cold.  Read More »

The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of Murder

by Daniel Stashower

The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rogers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of Murder by Daniel Stashower

Congrats to Stashower for introducing me to a true crime that I knew next to nothing about. Sometime, somewhere, in some article or book or other I knew that Edgar Allan Poe had based one of his stories on the murder of Mary Rogers, but that is about it. I looked forward to learning a bit more about the whole affair. And MAN, affair it was. Really this book tells two stories. The first is of Edgar Allan Poe, a lonely, kind of ungratious, impetuous writer. The second is of Mary Rogers, a young girl with secrets who happens to get killed and to this day no one knows exactly who did it. I hate to admit it, but the Poe stuff was very secondary and when the story switched to follow him it always took me a couple paragraphs (or pages!) to actually care again. Not a good sign, but overall, I enjoyed the book.

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The Haunted Bookshop

by Christopher Morley

The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley

If I had to pick one word to describe The Haunted Bookshop it would be “charming”. As I was reading it, I felt struck that the old fashioned whimsey could be captured in a play, or in old movie musicals the kind that star Gene Kelly and have a fair amount of tap dancing. Anything that evokes Gene Kelly tap dancing is okay for me.  Read More »

Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II’s Most Dramatic Mission

by Hampton Sides

Ghost Soldiers: The Epic Account of World War II's Greatest Rescue Mission by Hampton Sides

I keep telling you I am going to stop reading books about World War II, and I keep reading books about World War II. I am in that vicious Can’t Stop/Won’t Stop cycle. Apologies again and always, but I love me some World War II books, and spoiler alert, I’ve started reading spy books about that era so you are going to be in for it for a long time. Read More »

The Quickening Maze

by Adam Foulds

The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds

Another Man Booker finalist. I distrust them but keep reading them. The Quickening Maze is an interesting book that I found well written and compelling. Notice I didn’t say it was enjoyable, because I find it hard to enjoy mental illness, and Foulds deftly created a world that indeed felt like a maze. Read More »

Bastards

by Mary Anna King

Bastards by Mary Anna King

I come from a stable home. Two parents who are still together and just celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. Four kids. A few regular ups and downs but certainly my childhood was filled with a sense of security and well-being if not full of ponies and sweet sixteen parties. My life could not be more different than King’s but I enjoyed reading an account of someone who was able to reconcile a tumultuous childhood and examine it in front of the world. Read More »

Sole Sisters: Stories of Women and Running

by Jennifer Lin and Susan Warner

Sole Sisters: Stories of Women and Running by Jennifer Lin and Susan Warner

I used to be am a runner, but until I regain my former running glory, I made the goal to read one running book a month to keep the inspiration alive as I’ve battled through an IT band injury, knee-injury, various pregnancies (okay, only three), and the sleep depravation associated with having three kids 5 and under in my life. Read More »

M is for Malice

by Sue Grafton

M is for Malice by Sue Grafton

It seems like Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone is always getting involved in uncomfortable family dynamics in these books.
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I is for Innocent

by Sue Grafton

I is for Innocent by Sue Grafton

Another of the earlier Kinsey Millhone books. This time has Kinsey picking up mid investigation for a PI who died of a heart attack while working on a civil suit (or did he die of a heart attack… dun dun dun…)  Read More »

Fearless Fourteen

by Janet Evanovich

Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich

Janet Evanovich keeps cracking these books out, and I keep reading them. Read More »

Lean Mean Thirteen

by Janet Evanovich

Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich

Stephanie Plum, our hapless heroine is back to her old tricks. I think I mentioned that I am getting tired of this series in general. But when one gets books for free one reads them. Especially when I am in the midst of trying wean #3 and perhaps Evanovich’s light fare are all I can handle mentally right now.

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The Map Thief: The Gripping Story of an Esteemed Rare-map Dealer who Made Millions Stealing Priceless Maps

by Michael Blanding

The Map Thief: The Gripping Story of an Esteemed Rare-Map Dealer Who Made Millions Stealing Priceless Maps by Michael Blanding

I love maps. I do. In all my dreams of having the “perfect” room (you can go ahead and imagine a library because all my perfect rooms are library dreams) it has maps all over the place. We moved into our current home about 4 years ago (wow, time flies! I remember unpacking all those books when we got here just like it was yesterday) and I am finally getting around to decorating our bedroom. I found the most amazing map printed on glass over some translucent turquoise  painting. It is awesome. I keep waiting for it to go down in price to something remotely reasonable, and one day IT WILL BE MINE. What I’m saying is, I get a guy wanting to steal maps. I understand why people would collect them and preserve them. In short, I get this book. Read More »

The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra

by Helen Rappaport

The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra by Helen Rappaport

Does the world need another book about the Romanovs? That is the question. I’m not exactly sure that it does, but then again I’m not sure that it doesn’t. Helpful, no? There are a slew of nonfiction books about Czarist Russia, Rasputin, the October Revolution, etc and a book has to be unique to add something new to a discourse that has been hashed over to the point of animated musical fodder. Read More »