Monday, December 21, 2009

Benny & Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti

Oh my gosh - I couldn't put this book down: funny, touching, and all too true. I read it in practically one sitting.

Benny is a lonely, middle-aged dairyman working the family farm. Since his mother passed away he has spent way too much time with just the cows for company - and his house and social skills reflect that.

Desiree is an urban, educated woman who just unexpectedly lost her husband in an accident. During her lunch breaks, she sits at Orjan's grave and ponders why she doesn't really miss him.

The story is told in alternating chapters - Benny's voice, and then Desiree's thoughts. Each annoyed by the presence of the other on the bench at the cemetery, neither is ready for the effect a quick shared smile brings.

(In the author's interview at the end, Mazetti says she wrote a sequel - I'm off to see if that's been published, now!)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon

There are 3 main storylines in this book, each about a disconnected person rather adrift in their lives. None is sure just what they want to do or who they are: a guy approaching middle age has wasted his own chance at life trying to track down his missing, unstable brother; a small town 18-year old runs away with her history teacher at the promise of adventure; and a college student is sent into a tailspin when he discovers the truth about his parentage.

I picked up this audiobook because I needed to wash away the bad taste from the stupid Kinsella book I gave up on ... and it totally worked.

I really got drawn into this story, waiting and wondering how the different characters might be linked or could possibly meet up. There were several times I actually gasped out loud at some clue to how they may tie together.

The Espressologist by Kristina Springer

While working in a chain coffee store, 17-year old Jane noticed you could categorize people by their drink; taking that one step further, she wonders if she could hook people up based on their order. She dubs the idea "espressology" and it turns out, it works!

This is a cute book: great premise, and interesting characters. It was a quick, light read and I enjoyed it - and since I usually avoid "love" stories like the plague, that's got to be saying something.

My order: large vanilla cappuccino. So what does that say about me?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Murder at the Bad Girl's Bar & Grill by N.M. Kelby

A couple years back I read Whale Season, Kelby's first novel, because Carl Hiaasen recommended it. Since then, she has carved out a nice niche for herself in the "wacky Florida writers" genre.

Danni Keene, retired from a career as professional B-horror movie scream queen, is just trying to run a bar. Except dead bodies keep turning up in the dumpster, and somebody torched her yellow Hummer. Then things get really weird when the 3 pink buses pull in - filled with the Rose and Puppet Circus.

This book is entertaining and well written. The wacky characters kept me interested, and their intertwined storylines kept me guessing. Even once we know "whodunnit," the story doesn't collapse like many mysteries. This one had a few more twists and turns keep you wondering.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


by Linda Howard

I enjoy Linda Howard's writing. Years ago, I got caught up in her tales for the romance aspect. As she has progressed toward the mystery genre, I've followed happily along. This time, the story wrapped me up and I enjoyed finishing a book in a day. Since I was studying for class, I can't remember the last time I had the time to do that.

Howard will captivate you with a story about a woman who lives on a mountain, and must be rescued before the big ice storm rolls in. When her rescuer arrives, he finds her held captive by two homicidal drug addicts. The woman shows more gumption than expected as the two battle to survive against the elements and addicts. Although, Howard includes romance in this story, it really doesn't add to the plot. Luckily, the romance is limited enough that the rest of the plot overrides it and makes the book rounded enough to satisfy both mystery and romance fans. A savvy reader might even pick up some survival tips.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Threadwork Unraveled

by Sarah Ann Smith

What a wonderful resource! Everything you have ever wanted to know about thread (and more) is in this title. This is the kind of book that should sit just inches from the sewing machine. There are tips for every problem, and ways to avoid them before they happen.

The librarian's book of quotes

by Tatyana Eckstrand

OK, yes, I'm a librarian and I read books about librarians. It's a little like kids choosing to watch t.v. about school.

This book is great. I checked it out through interlibrary loan, and now I think it will have to become part of our library's professional collection. I can think of at least five ways to use these great quotes to fill in newsletters, facebook posts, and displays. The great thing about ideas, is that with a little nurturing, they only expand.

"Book lovers will understand me, and they will know too, that part of the pleasure of a library lies in its very existence." ~ Jan Moris

The Enthusiast by Charlie Haas

Starting with a rather accidental writing gig at Kite Buggy magazine, Henry Bay plows a path across the US, forming a career working for myriad miniscule magazines that each focus on one very specific hobby: magazines for spelunkers, crocheters, aquarium enthusiasts, or tea lovers.

I read this story with a bit of something like morbid curiosity: I kept thinking, "Whoa. If I'd chosen a different road, this could TOTALLY have been my life."

At least it all turns out pretty well. :)

The book is really about Henry's relationships - with his family, with his co-workers, and with the towns he encounters along the way. I really enjoyed the book; you're always slightly amazed at the next writing gig Henry stumbles into, and how its enthusiasts will ultimately affect him.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

If you give a pig a party

by Laura Joffe Numeroff

I've read so much of Numeroff's work for story times, that I was really excited to go out and get the Kohls Cares for Kids animals (Numeroff's mouse, moose, pig and cat) this season. In fact, I made the theme for the first week of December's story times all about Laura Numeroff's books. We had a lot of fun.

Somehow, I'd missed this title in the past. It was fun to see characters from previous books come back as the friends invited to the party. As usual, Numeroff has a series of crazy requests that come from the title animal and the all cycle back to the first thing the child offered, in this case a party. I have to say, one child was scandalized, as only a giggling three-year-old can be, by the "naked" moose before the pajama party began.

I'm the biggest thing in the ocean

by Kevin Sherry

There are some books that I just have to read in performance mode. On my first pass with this one, I realized that I do an awesome squid voice (not as good as my moose voice, though). Have fun with this squid who thinks he's got it all, until someone bigger comes along.

The Very Cranky Bear

by Nick Bland

This new picture book was so much fun, that it is now in my personal collection. Several animal friends take refuge from a storm. Everything is great until they realize there's a bear trying to sleep in the same cave. While his friends think of reasons the bear is unhappy, the sheep finds a way to be selfless. His actions are the cure for what ails the bear.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment by A.J. Jacobs

Jacobs has made a career writing about his social experiments: his first book was about reading the Encyclopedia Brittanica from A-Z, and his second was about living for a year following all the rules in the Bible. Each chapter in this book is a smaller experiment - outsourcing your life, absolute truth-telling, impersonating a movie star, etc.

I didn't realize when I ordered this book that I'd actually read his first book too; I didn't know it was the same guy. Jacobs is funny and, as he's told all the time, his wife Julie must be a saint for putting up with him.

Because he limits his social experiments to a month each, you don't really get bored with the idea. You get a taste of the benefits and drawbacks, then A.J. moves on to the next project. Many of the experiments are really interesting, and would be worth implementing into your own life, albeit on a more limited, reasonable scale.