Tag Archives: book haul

Reading Books Picked by a Librarian! (4 mini book reviews)

While my local library is reopening it’s doors tomorrow, during it’s closure they kicked off a service that I was all too game to try. Grab bags! That’s right, you could roll up to the parking lot for drive-by pickup and be handed a librarian-curated assortment of books. While there were several selections I simply returned with out reading, these are the four I decided to tackle. (Truth be told, I’ve been buying books a LOT more regularly in quarantine so I was not hurting for things to read when I got my grab bag. Had I been practicing any sort of book buying restraint I probably would have read ALL my librarians picks!) Let’s see how that librarian did, shall we?!

The four books I chose to read were —
The Lido by Libby Page – a feel-good contemporary fiction set in London
Solo by Kwame Alexander – a young adult contemporary written in verse
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin – an alternate history young adult fantasy
The Death of Mrs. Westaway – a mystery thriller with a creepy setting

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Synopsis: On a day that begins like any other, Hal receives a mysterious letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance. She realizes very quickly that the letter was sent to the wrong person—but also that the cold-reading skills she’s honed as a tarot card reader might help her claim the money. Soon, Hal finds herself at the funeral of the deceased…where it dawns on her that there is something very, very wrong about this strange situation and the inheritance at the center of it.

Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mini review: 

I love books (especially mystery-thrillers) where the setting almost becomes a character itself and Ware definitely creates that here. To meet her new “family” and work out the details of the inheritance Hal finds herself lodging at Trepassen, an aging English manor that holds many secrets. Much of the plot unfolds within it’s gothic, creepy walls.

Read if you like the movie: Knives Out, or any movie with a closed circle mystery

Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Synopsis: The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s Ball in Tokyo. Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm are a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female racer, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin’s brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move. But as Yael grows closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mini review:

If you think The Hunger Games meets The Man in the High Castle sounds like something that’d be up your street, this book is for you. It certainly was for ME. I’m excited to see what happens in book 2 of this duology.

Read if you liked the movie: The Hunger Games, or any fantasy/sci-fi film featuring a dark game

Solo by Kwame Alexander

Synopsis: Blade never asked for a life of the rich and famous. In fact, he’d give anything not to be the son of Rutherford Morrison, a washed-up rock star and drug addict with delusions of a comeback. Or to no longer be part of a family known most for lost potential, failure, and tragedy. The one true light is his girlfriend, Chapel, but her parents have forbidden their relationship, assuming—like many—that Blade will become just like his father. In reality, the only thing Blade has in common with Rutherford is the music that lives inside them. But not even the songs that flow through Blade’s soul are enough when he’s faced with two unimaginable realities: the threat of losing Chapel forever, and the revelation of a long-held family secret, one that leaves him questioning everything he thought was true. All that remains is a letter and a ticket to Ghana—both of which could bring Blade the freedom and love he’s been searching for, or leave him feeling even more adrift.

Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Mini review:

This was a really fun and quick read! Because it is written in verse the pages fly by. Our main character Blade is the son of super famous rockstar Rutherford Morrison. Blade is 17 going on 18 and grappling with first love, family dynamics, confusion about what to do with his life — all under the watchful eye of the paparazzi. Then, he receives some news that has him embarking on a journey that will forever change his life.

Read if you liked the movie: Lion, or any movie with an important familial quest

The Lido by Libby Page

Synopsis: Kate is a twenty-six-year-old riddled with anxiety and panic attacks who works for a local paper in Brixton, London, covering forgettably small stories. When she’s assigned to write about the closing of the local lido (an outdoor pool and recreation center), she meets Rosemary, an eighty-six-year-old widow who has swum at the lido daily since it opened its doors when she was a child. It was here Rosemary fell in love with her husband, George; here that she’s found communion during her marriage and since George’s death. But when a local developer attempts to buy the lido for a posh new apartment complex, Rosemary’s fond memories and sense of community are under threat. As Kate dives deeper into the lido’s history—with the help of a charming photographer—she pieces together a portrait of the pool, and a portrait of a singular woman, Rosemary. What begins as a simple local interest story for Kate soon blossoms into a beautiful friendship that provides sustenance to both women as they galvanize the community to fight the lido’s closure.

Star rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Mini review:

A really cute, feel-good book. The moral of the story is basically like “finding community and being around people to socialize and exercise is awesome for mental health” and now is just a weird time to be faced with that. My rating probably has more to do with being bummed about pools being closed this summer and less to do with the quality of the read.

Read if you liked the movie: A Man Called Ove, or any feel-good found family film

***

Overall, I’d say my librarian knocked it out of the park with these selections! While The Lido and The Death of Mrs. Westaway were books on my radar, I don’t think I would have picked them up myself without a little nudging. Wolf by Wolf I’d never even heard of and it earned a 5-star rating! It’s seriously such a well done dark games YA and I will shove it into the hands of anyone who enjoys that genre. And Solo was another I was happy to learn about and won’t soon forget. Nothing new here but it bears repeating — I LOVE LIBRARIES!

My next bookish post hitting the blog soon will be my SUMMER TBR. See you then! 

P.S. More library love. 

25 Cent Library Book Sale Haul

25 cent library book sale - huntsville, al

Yesterday we headed to the main branch of the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library for their annual 25 Cent Library Book Sale. Library book sales have always been one of my very favorite ways to stock up on books. And one where EVERY book is priced at a quarter? I mean, sign me RIGHT up! In preparation, I perused my shelves to do a quick unhaul and came up with 8 books I could find a new home for. I didn’t set out to get exactly 8 to replace those with (I had told myself I could get up to 20!), but that’s where I landed. Mainly because it was too crowded to keep combing the stacks while maintaining my preferred bubble of personal space. Anwyho, here’s what I picked up!

The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields –
One of my tips for finding safe bets when looking through older books is to go for Pullitzer Prize winners. Not only is this one a winner but the idea of a fictionalized autobiography sounded intriguing to me. 

Rise and Shine by Anna Quindlen –
For some reason I’ve been picking up a lot of books that deal with the time on and around 9/11 from varying perspectives. The synopsis of this one drew me in so I thought I’d give it a go. 

The New Girls by Beth Gutcheon –
5 girls at a prep-school in the sixties seemed like the set up for a story I might enjoy. We’ll see!

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout –
Another Pullitzer Prize winner. Also, the sequel to this book came out recently and I keep seeing people reading it. Gotta read this one before I can get to that! 

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri –
Here’s the thing…I KNOW I read and loved The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri. So when I saw this at the sale, I nabbed it. Then I got home and started thinking I may have already read this one too. I’ll have to go back and review my reading records. Either way, also a Pullitzer Prize winner so it can’t hurt to have a copy, right? 

The Empty Glass by J.I. Baker –
The cover of this one caught my eye. Historical fiction about real people is a fave genre of mine so when I saw Marilyn Monroe’s face plus the words “A Novel,” I knew it was probably coming home with me. 

Committed by Elizabeth Gilbert –
This is basically the sequel to Eat, Pray, Love! Also, after reading City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert a few months ago, I did a deep dive into the author’s life and came up wanting more. 

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld –
I’ve heard so many great things about this modern retelling of Pride & Prejudice and I gotta admit, I kinda want to dive into this one right away. 

Tell me in the comments below, what’s the best book you ever scored for SUPER CHEAP? 

P.S. Let’s be friends on Goodreads! 

P.P.S. Want more book hauls? Here’s another one you might enjoy peeping.

My Birthday Book & Movie Haul

In case you can’t tell by the title of this post, I recently had a birthday! Just last week, in fact. I was blessed with some amazing gifts (like this beautiful bar cart from Chet and a huge box of Gilmore Girls themed coffee from my mom!).

But my favorite way to treat MYSELF for my birthday is to pick up whatever book(s) and movie(s) I feel like! Usually I’ll talk myself out of book and movie purchases because of a little thing called the library and another little thing called Netflix. On my birthday though? Well – I deserve it! 🙂

Here’s what I picked up:

Movies

Stephen King’s IT

Who doesn’t love watching a scary movie (or three or four) in October? I still really want to see the new version but I mean c’mon! So many famous faces in this one. Including, but not limited to, John-Boy from The Waltons sporting a rad early 90’s ponytail.

The Edge of Seventeen

This movie looked reminiscent of two of my favorite coming-of-age flicks – Cheaters and Juno…and the back cover likens it to a modern day The Breakfast Club (another fave!) – so I was all in. Plus, I love Woody Harrelson!

Books

You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends On Facebook, Why Your Memory is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You’re Deluding Yourself by David McRaney

Since I left the world of speech & debate, and no longer sit through tons of informative speeches every weekend, my annual dose of pop psychology has drastically diminished. This looked like an interesting and fun way to rectify the situation. I’m excited to dig in!

Blindness by Jose Saramago

Saramago was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1998 so this book seemed like a good bet. 😉 The subject matter, a city hit by an epidemic of “white blindness,” reminded me a little bit of Station Eleven. Not to mention it won a ton of awards and received rave reviews! So, although it’s not a book I would normally gravitate to, I couldn’t resist.

Which of these interests you most? Have you bought any books or movies for yourself lately? I’d love to hear!

Why I love the library.

library with ladder

On Monday, I finally got around to signing up for a library card at the Kendall Branch of the Miami-Dade Public Library. I have a long-standing love affair with libraries. While this means I racked up some pretty hefty fines back in the day (before I learned how to be an adult and do adult things, you know how that goes), I’ve always been a voracious reader so the attraction to libraries was sort of a no-brainer. Walking out of a library with a good haul is like Christmas morning! Bonus: All your presents are FREE!

When I was living and working in Bowling Green, poor as heck, one of my favorite weekly rituals was going to the library. It was located just down the block and I would go by myself, meandering the rows, loading my arms down with enough books and DVD’s to last me the week. Any enticing cover art or gripping back-cover synopsis would be indulged and added to my stack. And why not? When you’re literally planning a meal of spaghetti for the sixth time in a month and can’t afford to put gas in your car…you gotta find joy in life’s little pleasures.  I’ll always associate libraries with self-care.  Oh, and of course life-long learning, too! You can borrow a book, but you get to keep the ideas. 

When a book shows up on my door-step from Amazon, I’m excited, sure; but the feeling of taking a book home from the library is for me–unparalleled.

Here’s a look at what I picked up on this inaugural visit to the library in Miami…

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Bossypants by Tina Fey – STILL haven’t read this book. (I know!) I LOVED Amy Poehler’s book so I thought it was high time to check this one off the reading list, too.

Shortcomings by Adrian Tomine – I read about this graphic novel a few years ago (the author illustrates for the New Yorker) so when I spotted it from across the aisle I knew it needed to come home with me.

Mmmmiami: Tempting Tropical Tastes for Home Cooks Everywhere – When in Rome!

Are you a huge library fan like me? What are you reading these days? I wish we could tack an extra hour onto each day to make time for reading! 

Huge Book Haul!

book haul2

Between a library book sale, Christmas gifts and impulse shopping with an internal monologue of “I mean is it REALLY spending money if I’m gaining KNOWLEDGE?!”– I’ve acquired quite a few books in the last couple of months.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt

The Selected Letters of Lewis Carroll Ed. by Morton Cohen

My Notorious Life by Kate Manning

The Million Dollar Mermaid by Esther Williams

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom

Lost Girls by Robert Kolker –currently reading

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

Starting Out in the Evening by Brian Morton

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

God’ll Cut You Down by John Safran

Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead

Kitty Genovese by Kevin Cook

Lost Girls is proving riveting and the perfect follow up “case” after the completion of Serial. It tells the tale of a true-life search for a serial killer still at large on Long Island. I thought the motley cast of shady characters in Serial was difficult to keep up with at times, but let me tell you the cold-case web gets even more tangled as the body counts go up.

book haul with feet

I wonder what I’ll choose next!

Have you read any of these books? Thoughts? Can you tell I’m having a true-crime moment? What are you reading these days?