Checked Out: Week 28

Once upon a time I worked in a library, but it was long ago in a place far away from here. And in that library I spent a lot of time in the shelves looking at book spines and making sure the correct books were in the correct spaces. Of course during that time in the stacks I also happened upon quite a few books I thought were interesting, and being the reader that I am, I often took a few of those books down during each trip and checked them out. For a select few I sat down right then and there on the step stool and read a few chapters before continuing on my shelf-reading expedition. And I saw those books that they were good.

I miss the library — the smell of old books mingling with the smell of the unwashed masses — and I still head to a library if there’s one nearby and I have a few moments to kill. Just being in the place centers me. Well, this summer has been a crazy one until this point, and as it winds down I find myself with a little bit of time to read again. It has been literally ages since I’ve had the opportunity to get close and personal with a few books so this is like heaven to me. Over the past few days I’ve been to a couple of libraries, and I came home with the ones who wanted desperately to jump into my bag and hitch a ride.

Here’s what I’ve Checked Out this week:

commute-picks-candace-bushnell-killing-monica1. If I Could Turn Back Time, by Beth Harbison

This could very well be one of those cheesy time-bending romantic romps, a la The Beach House, and it interestingly enough reminds me of a “13 Going on 30” in reverse, but what attracted me to it was the cover, as usual. The picture of three watches reclining on each other somehow resonated with me. I’ve never read anything by the author before, though, so we’ll see how well I take to the actual book when I get around to reading it. For now it sits on the shelf.

2. Killing Monica, by Candace Bushnell

Ah yes, the author of Sex and the City is still writing tomes celebrating fashion-conscious women in New York City, and this one is already seeming like a bit of a rehash. I warmed to One Fifth Avenue after a slow start, but I’ve already on Part Two of this erstwhile “masterpiece,” and I’m seeing a Carrie character all over again. I’m concerned that maybe Miss Bushnell ran out of other things and characters to talk about so she’s going back to the well once more. But she’s done it better before, and I’m concerned maybe her time has run out.

3. Who Do You Love, by Jennifer Weiner

Speaking of authors who tend to follow the same formula, Jennifer Weiner fits firmly into that category, but unlike Candace Bushnell, she doesn’t rely on the same rote types of characters to hang her hat on. Instead, she creates different, lush tapestries and interactions for her (usually) heroines. Even though her books still tend to be romantic mush with some twists and turns, they’re still funny, which keeps me coming back for more. This is her most recent novel.

ddddce8e961d49e3a67665657da34864-123f08b79e484fe0bd9cd9cdc0bf9ede-04. 41, by George W. Bush

This is of course W.’s homage to the one-term president who just happens to also be his father. A while back I read Decision Points and I loved the style of writing, so I’ve been looking forward to checking this one out. I wasn’t a big George H.W. Bush fan when he was president, but I have a fascination with all things presidential the older I get so just his place in history is interesting to ponder. I just hope the level of readability is still as high in this one as it was in Decision Points.

While I don’t usually get into non-fiction, if I’m going to read any non-fiction it’s going to generally be a biography or an autobiography, something I tend to share with my students. So I have three books checked out that fit similar themes, and one that is far afield from the others. Of course that means I’ll have to put down Killing Monica and get right into 41, just to keep things interesting.

Then when I’m done with these four it’s back to the library, to reminisce over those old book smells once more.

Sam

Checked Out Archive

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Checked Out: Week 27

the-silkwormWouldn’t you know it? Two days after I got Top Secret Twenty-One, the other book I’ve been dying to read (Galbraith’s The Silkworm) arrived at the library for me. That of course should have created a dilemma for me, but amazingly enough it didn’t because both are so interesting I’ve been alternating back and forth for the past four days. I’m more than halfway through both of them too, and don’t worry. I’m keeping them straight.

My problem is that those are not the only two books I have Checked Out right now. Here are the others that are staring me in the face, begging me to read them as well…

  • Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham. I’m just hoping that the magic of the series will take this leap to novel form better than it did to the movie. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the movie. I just expect more from my books, and this new series at least has a guiding hand in Rob Thomas, who helped to write and produce the TV series. Plus, look at the title!
  • Four: A Divergent Collection, by Veronica Roth. I have mixed feelings about this one. Since I wasn’t too keen on her ending of the Divergent series, and one huge part of my displeasure came from her perspective that came from Four narrating alternate chapters, did I really want to read a whole book from his perspective? I’m still thinking about it, but I do have the book here, and I might give it a shot at some point.
  • The Hard Way, by Lee Child. This is yet another Jack Reacher book, and I think it’s number 9 in the series. The formula is familiar enough by now to make him seem like a friend of mine whom I’ve known for a while, similar to a heroine who is also a good friend of mine — Stephanie Plum. You know, I think those two would be good together.
  • City of Heavenly Fire, by Cassandra Clare. As much as I love this book I got stuck because the other two books came in for me and they’re physical, not in digital form, meaning they also have firm due dates. So I didn’t want to put it down for a while, but that’s just what I’m doing while I get through these other two. Please forgive me, Ms. Clare.

Speaking of those two books, they couldn’t be more different. Stephanie Plum is as clueless but lucky as ever, while Cormoran Strike (the detective protagonist in The Silkworm) is methodical and competitive. Plum does the same series of things over and over to try and catch whoever has skipped bail this time, while Strike recognizes the efficacy of different methods to suit different people he’s trying to track and expose. Plum is often funny, while Strike is serious, but both are interesting in their own way, enough to make them intriguing reads, especially at the same time.

I’m getting back to City of Heavenly Fire next, while probably reading the next Reacher book at the same time. Maybe I’ll fit the Veronica Mars book in there as the bedtime book. We’ll see which one interests me the most once I start reading, but for now I’m going to enjoy these two novels that suit my fancy.

Sam

Checked Out Archive

Checked Out: Week 26

one-shot
I know. This isn’t the Plum book!

I finally got it! Yes, the new Stephanie Plum mystery arrived lock, stock and smoking barrels into the Utica Public Library for me. I honestly thought that with such a long waiting list I would still be waiting when school started up again in the fall, so for me this is like Christmas in July! I assume you know what I’m talking about if you’ve ever waited for a book to come into your local library before. It’s a euphoria that is pretty much unmatched by most other things. If you’re a reader like me, that is.

Of course that means I’m still waiting for the latest book from Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling), but in good news I did discover this week that she wrote a new Harry Potter story that is available digitally in the world somewhere. Now if I could just find it things would be peachy keen again in my world.

It’s been a strange reading week for me, as I’ve been working two jobs again (and will be doing so for the next five+ weeks), so I’ve had to fit in my reading time between so many other things. It’s off to the swimming pool tonight where I’ll try to get in some more reading whilst my oldest child had her swimming lesson. Okay, okay. I’ll read *after* I take a few photos. 🙂

Here’s what I have Checked Out this week…

  1. One Shot, by Lee Child. It’s the one in the Jack Reacher series that inspired the first movie, so I’ve been dying to get to it, but I’m the reader who has to read the books in order, and I’ve finally gotten to this one. It is not disappointing, although I can’t help but imagine Reacher as Tom Cruise, even though I haven’t done that in any of the previous novels. Oh well.
  2. City of Heavenly Fire, by Cassandra Clare. It’s the dynamic question all over again. What will Clary do to save Jace from himself and fr0m his brother, who is hell bent on taking over the Shadowhunter world (and the Downworlder world as well, as we find out during the course of this novel). It moves at a fast pace, which I appreciate, when I find time to read it, that is.
  3. Top Secret Twenty-One, by Janet Evanovich. There’s nothing quite like one of these Plum books from Evanovich. Nothing else she writes (with or without co-writers) matches the frenetic energy and enthusiasm of a Plum book. And nothing is funnier from her either. So I have huge expectations from this one, even though it’s the 21st book in the series. Starting it later tonight.
  4. The Haunted, by Bentley Little. This has turned into my bedtime book. I’m not quite sure why because it’s scary as all get out, but for some reason it’s sitting there next to my Ethiopian necklace and glasses case. Luckily I haven’t had a nightmare yet since I’ve done that, but I know it’s coming. I’m a glutton for punishment, I guess.

Sam

Checked Out Archive

Checked Out: Week 23

persuaderJust so you know, I did in fact finish Allegiant and the best thing I can say about it is that the writing was as good as the first two books in the series. That’s the best thing about it, which really isn’t much when there are tons of writers out there fashioning good prose. What I really want to say about the book is that it took me a month to read, a book that should have had me flying through it like I did with Fallen, and with City of Ashes, and with Uglies. But it just wasn’t there, and I think a lot of it had to do with focus and tying up ends. Too many were left frayed and torn, and I was left utterly disappointed. This is the second straight series ender that left me feeling ripped off as a reader.

At the moment the book is sitting here next to me and I’m tempted to turn it over. There. Just did. It makes me a bit apprehensive, though, about the last book in the Mortal Instruments series that I am starting next, and I sincerely hope that Ms. Clare learned a thing or two about ending series from the final book she wrote in the Infernal Devices series, which was magical. I need some satisfaction after spending a month with this other book (I’m not even naming it anymore — it’s like Voldemort to me). On to more exciting things…

Here’s what I have Checked Out:

  1. Persuader, by Lee Child. Thank god I’ve been reading this book at the same time as the one I mentioned above because it has kept me sane. Sure, the writing isn’t as good, but I don’t care, because it’s action-packed and interesting to think about — you know, plotwise.
  2. The Gordian Knot, by Bernhard Schlink. So, okay, I still haven’t started this one yet, but do you blame me when I’ve struggled through that other book and been captivated by Persuader? I’ll get to it in this coming week, and I hope it’s been worth the wait. I remembered what the cover makes me think of now, and that’s the new mystery series by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling).
  3. City of Heavenly Fire, by Cassandra Clare. In the immortal words of Alvin the chipmunk: It is on like Donkey Kong. I have never been let down by any book in this series or by her other series, so I’m not doubting her now. I will stay far away from the reviews because spoilers are everywhere, I’m sure, until I am done reading the book and make up my own mind about it. And there is a lot to ravel up for Clare, too, a world’s worth. I hope she gets it done the right way.
  4. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, by Mindy Kaling. This has become my bedtime book, and it’s doing a great job at it. I just keep laughing out loud every couple of pages, because while Kaling is no Conan O’Brien, she is still decidedly funny, and the book makes me even want to give The Mindy Project a second chance. Okay, maybe not.

To top it off, the new Stephanie Plum book is out today, and I’m on the library’s waiting list for it, but I hope it doesn’t come in for a week or two because I want to finish City of Heavenly Fire first. Why are there always so many new books coming out that I want to read while I’m already reading a host of other books? It’s insanely frustrating sometimes being a big reader, but incredibly exhilarating too, all at the same time. I can’t describe it any other way.

Happy reading to you!

Sam

Checked Out Archive

Checked Out: Week 22

the-gordian-knotI just picked up the next book in the Jack Reacher series, but I still have to reminisce for a second about the one before it. Without Fail was a great book, and a fast read, even though it was about a million pages long. Those are the types of books I like, when I’m done with it and then look back and realize how massive it actually was only then. I already miss that book, and I’ve just started the next one. I noticed already that this one is written in first person, while the past several were in third person. I’ll let you know what I think about that shift next week.

Here’s what I have Checked Out this week:

  1. The Gordian Knot, by Bernhard Schlink. I picked this book up on the spur of the moment from the library. I quickly looked on the new books shelf before leaving the building and it spoke to me. The cover features an alley with a girl walking away in shadow. It looked like a noir thriller just from that cover, and then I read the back and saw that it IS a noir thriller. It made me glad to know I can still recognize them.
  2. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, by Mindy Kaling. This woman is seriously hilarious! She writes about her life from an interesting, quirky perspective, and I’ve already learned a lot about her childhood. It’s funny how people you see all the time on TV can be so different than what you expected.
  3. Persuader, by Lee Child. Well, after killing a cop over the course of the first few pages, I don’t know where exactly he goes from here, but I’ve learned to trust Jack Reacher so I’m along for the ride. The first person perspective is tough to get into because of all the third person ones ahead of it, but I’m sure that will even out.
  4. City of Heavenly Fire, by Cassandra Clare. Well, would you believe it if I told you a friend of mine bought me a Barnes & Noble gift card, to be used on Nook books this week? I know, I was shocked too, but I took full advantage, picking up The Neighbor, by Dean Koontz, Neverwhere, by Neil Gaiman, and this book, the final one in the Mortal Instruments series. I’m so excited to read this one, but sad at the same time since the series is ending. And I’m fighting hard not to know what happens in the end since I have several friends who have already finished it.

I think I might do something a little different after I’m done reading all of these books. I might just focus on only one book next, to see how that is. It’s been a very long time since I’ve done something like that, and that book might just be the new one in the Stephanie Plum series, Top Secret Twenty-One, out this coming Tuesday. You know, if I can get my hands on it. There’s probably a huge waiting list for it at the library.

Off to get some coffee, and get to work writing.

Sam

Checked Out Archive

Checked Out: Week 21

Without-Fail-Child-Lee-9780425207604You know those kinds of books that just grab you, shake you like a wet dog, and force you to read them at every possible opportunity? Yes, I know those kinds of books, too, and I’ve read my fair share of them, but you never know which one might fit the bill until you actually start reading it and you’re hooked. And those books don’t have to be the most well-written, or have the most well fleshed out characters. The plots don’t even have to be rock solid. They just have to move along swiftly and have enough somewhere in those pages to arrest and hold your interest.

I thought Allegiant might be one of those books. But it wasn’t, and it isn’t. That’s not to say it’s a bad book. It’s just that I could take it or leave it. The plot is okay, the characters are relatively interesting, but somehow I’m not really invested in the story. It’s not like Requiem, where I devoured each page, waiting for the next one, wanting to know how the entire saga ended. Which is very sad for me, because I like finales. I was a huge fan of Inheritance, too, because it followed the same format of endless adventure and it instilled in me a love of its characters. I wanted to know what happened to them, how it all played out. That’s what a final book in a series is supposed to do.

So, needless to say, Allegiant is on hold, for all intents and purposes. It will be due back at the library soon and I’m thinking about not renewing it. My problem is that there are just too many books that I’m actually interested in that I know I would keep interrupting Allegiant for. I would have never set aside Divergent or even Insurgent, but oh well. I have other books to keep me warm.

Here’s what I have Checked Out this week…

  1. Without Fail, by Lee Child. This is the sixth book in the Jack Reacher series, and it’s the one I described in my opening. It’s not the most well-written series, but it moves quickly and it holds my attention like the Eragon series did, even though it has absolutely no magic or fantasy aspect to it. It’s all about the quick adventure, and it makes me think. I’ll take it.
  2. Allegiant, by Veronica Roth. I haven’t checked it back in yet, and I do plan on continuing it once I’m done with the Reacher book, unless something else I’m interested in comes in to the library. It’s just sad to me that a series that held so much promise has honestly been reduced to an “If I have nothing else I’m reading” thing.
  3. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, by Mindy Kaling. It has been a little while since I’ve read any nonfiction, but I am a fan of Mindy Kaling’s humor from back in her Office days, and followed her into her Mindy Project writing. I had heard about this book a while ago, but hadn’t gotten my hands on it, then I saw it again available as an eBook through the library and I jumped on it. This is the next book I’m reading.

That of course makes me realize that I’m reading my fewest number of simultaneous books in a while. Generally I have four going at once, but it feels good to focus on one or two instead of a whole bunch. Maybe I might start doing that from now on. I’m fiddling with a huge playlist to listen to while reading the Mindy Kaling book because I love my music, and I’ve been thinking it might be cool to see how that would turn out.

And I’m waiting to get my copy of City of Heavenly Fire, too, at which point I think everything I’m reading at the time will be shunted aside. Because I have a feeling that will be one of the books that I mentioned in the opening as well. Cassandra Clare has never failed me in that respect before, and I sincerely hope that will also be the case this time. I need to be able to count on my serial authors again!

As always, happy reading to you too.

Sam

Checked Out Archive

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