Gotta Love the Thrift Store!

I’ve been trying to be good!  Really!  But I’m a sucker for my favorite thrift store’s weekly “Buy One, Get One Free” book sale.  I hadn’t really checked them out for a couple of months; after the big haul back in March and the library book sale this month, well, let’s just say my to-read hoard is ridiculous!  But I had recently boxed up several books for donation so I thought I could at least look around…..maybe get a couple…….

Yeah, right.  *sigh*

For fiction, I found the following:

There was a great selection of newer titles, like the Paula Hawkins and Lisa Jewell.  I’ve also been stocking up on Ken Follett, his giant tomes make for good reading during the dark, cold days of winter.

And for nonfiction:

I love cookbooks so I always see if anything looks good.  The James Beard pasta cookbook was a great discovery!  I also have a fascination with Asian temples and monasteries so I couldn’t pass up on Shwedagon.  Not pictured is one I found for my son, a companion guide to one of his video games.  See, not all for me!!  😀

Not bad for under $10!!

I’ve told myself I cannot buy any more until I’ve read at least 25 of my unread books.  We’ll see how long that takes, haha!!

Monday Mash-Up #019 and #020

I started my #19 mash-up last week, then realized I was completely unprepared to write anything, I hadn’t even finished any good books!  My first case of writer’s block, if you will.  So I decided to combine the two for this week.

This weekend is Memorial Day weekend here in the States.  Many are out and about, taking mini vacations and having barbecues (it’s been raining in my neck of the woods, though.  Not very pleasant for outdoor activities).  But for me, growing up, Memorial Day meant cutting some of the flowers from my mom’s garden, usually a combination of iris, lilacs, and the fluffy white blooms of the snowball bush, and leaving pots full of fragrant blooms at the graves of our relatives, several of whom were military veterans.  It’s important to remember the reason for the holiday, so please remember to take a few minutes out of your busy, fun-filled weekend to remember those whose sacrifice gave you this holiday.


Now, for the books!  Definitely some goods ones these past two weeks!

American Predator by Maureen Callahan — 4 1/2 stars!

A full review coming soon.  Many thanks to Viking Press for selecting me to receive an ARC!

Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman — 4 stars!

Book 2 in Shusterman’s Arc of the Scythe trilogy.  I can honestly say I liked this one more than the first!  The plot keeps moving along, and my love and hatred of the different characters has grown as well.  Can’t wait for book 3 this fall!!

The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu — 4 stars!

A quiet, unassuming narrative about an Ethiopian refugee living in Washington DC.  I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed reading it until I reached the final page and wanted more.

Havana Noir — 4 stars!

Another collection from my favorite series put out by Akashic Books.

Perfume:  The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind — 4 stars!

I honestly didn’t know how to rate this one.  Probably the most original idea I’ve read in some time, but at times a bit boring and repetitive.  For the story itself I lean towards a solid three stars, but I upped it for the sheer originality (plus the totally bizarre ending!).

The Shipping News by Annie Proulx — 3 1/2 stars

Another quiet novel, one that I’m a bit on the fence about.  Proulx does have a writing gift, but I just couldn’t get a feel for many of the characters.  Not terrible by any means, just not what I was expecting.

Spirit by Graham Masterton — 2 stars

This was probably the most boring ghost story I have ever read.  A real disappointment after having read some of Masterton’s earlier works and enjoying those.  There were enough scary scenes to keep this from being a one star read but not enough for me to ever recommend it.


And so we start another week!  Until next time, Happy Reading!

Adventures in Travel

Here in the States, Memorial Day weekend is fast approaching, giving us a glimpse into the upcoming summer season.  Barbecue grills come out, campers are cleaned and restocked,  and everyone in general begins to plan summer adventures, big and small.

One of my favorite things about summertime is traveling.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a day trip to the beach, a hike in the woods, wandering around the zoo, or a weeklong trek through as many random towns, state parks, and/or states as possible.  There’s just something about summer that makes me want to explore places outside of my normal routine.

Sadly, I can’t always partake in yearly adventurous exploring.  Real life is often a bitch and for me, when I can’t escape from the daily routine and everyone else seems to be body surfing in Hawaii or mountain climbing in Tibet, I turn to books.  Of course!!  🙂

The following, in no particular order, are some of my favorite nonfiction books of adventurous travel (all get a 4 or 5 star rating from me).  Yes, there seems to be a theme of single person traveling long distances, but isn’t that what a true adventure is?

Wild by Cheryl Strayed 

After her mother’s death and a failed marriage, Cheryl Strayed made a life-changing decision to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, a rugged 1,000+ mile trail that stretches from California’s Mojave Desert to the border of Washington state and British Columbia, Canada.  She had little experience or training, an over-packed backpack, and hopes of learning more about herself and some of her questionable life decisions.  We follow not only her physical journey but her emotional one as well.

Tracks by Robyn Davidson

Robyn Davidson makes her journey across the Australian Outback with four camels and a dog for company.   While not as introspective as other solo journeys, it is still entertaining and inspiring.  Quick side note:  if anyone has seen the movie, let me know if it’s any good.  🙂

The Places In Between by Rory Stewart

I read this one several years ago and I still place it at the top of my favorite nonfiction.  Stewart walked across Afghanistan, no easy feat for anyone, foreigner or not.  There is something about his story-telling abilities that had me hooked, and I found myself emotionally involved in his journey.

 

Getting Stoned With Savages by J. Maarten Troost

I’ve read all of Troost’s books about his time living on remote islands in the middle of the Pacific, and this one is my favorite.  Personally, I think the man is a bit of a masochist for continuing to return to the “same squalor/different island”, but it does make for some entertaining reading.

Giant Steps by Karl Bushby

Bushby, a former British paratrooper, sets a goal to basically walk around the world:  36,000 miles over the Americas, Asia, and back to his home in England.  This book chronicles the first leg of his journey from Punta Arenas, Chile to the westernmost tip of Alaska ( a stone’s throw from Russia).  He does focus more on the first part of the journey, once he hits the United States and Canada things seem to get glossed over (maybe things just weren’t as exciting in this neck of the woods!  🙂  ).  I’m kind of bummed that nothing new has been added to his twitter account since 2018, I hope he’s still following his dreams and goals.

 

Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron

This one mixes a lot of historical info with modern day imagery.  Thubron didn’t mess with walking the entire Silk Road, he took advantage of all modern transportation that was available (and I don’t blame him!!).  This book shows an interesting juxtaposition of distant history and modern tech living side by side.

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And a quick note about this month’s All Dragons Read dragon:  he has definitely done his own traveling, from a small shop in the Bahamas, to my friend’s house in Tennessee, then across the States to my living room in Washington state.  More traveling than I’ve done in the past couple of years, haha!

Feel free to share your favorite adventure books!  And as always, Happy Reading!

Monday Mash-Up #018 Mother’s Day!

A Happy belated Mother’s Day to all the moms out there!  Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

I finished up some great books this past week—

The Revenant by Michael Punke — 4 out of 5 stars!

The wild west of the 1800’s, the need for revenge, action, adventure, this one has it all!  And after reading it, I don’t think I want to ruin it by watching the movie, especially since I’ve heard more negative than positive reviews.  There were a few overdone descriptions, and the ending did surprise me.  If you like old school adventure stories and are not too squeamish, be sure to check this one out!!

To the End of Hell by Denise Affonco — 4 out of 5 stars!

Denise tells her story of surviving Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge in the mid 1970’s.  The writing is very simple but powerful (it is revealed near the end that this is basically a rewrite of her multi-page witness statement for the trial of Pol Pot).

Jar City by Arnaldur Indridason — 4 out of 5 stars!

If you’re a fan of “Nordic Noir” (Henning Mankell, Stieg Larsson, Jo Nesbo and the like) then definitely check out this Icelandic author!  Violent murder, dark family secrets, great plot twists, all the good stuff.  I’m looking forward to reading more from this author.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo — 4 out of 5 stars!

A true classic.  I was inspired to reread this after seeing the destructive fire at the famed cathedral last month.  I’ll admit I wasn’t a huge fan of the book when I first read it as a teenager.  But with age comes wisdom and patience, which probably helped me enjoy the story more this time around.


Short and sweet this week.  I’m working on some new ideas for weekly/monthly posts.  We’ll see how far I get with them!  🙂  Until next time, Happy Reading!!

Monday Mash-Up #016–Library Book and Plant Sale!

This past week was pretty quiet around here.  However, Saturday was the annual used book and plant sale at the Salkum library….which I just had to attend!!  My son and I arrived late morning and found that most of the plants had already sold.  I did get some veggie starts though.  Lemon cucumbers and butternut squash, yum!  I also picked up a German chamomile plant and some lupine (not pictured).

I picked up these chenille plant starts as well, I love these!

And, of course, found some books!

    

I’m pretty proud of myself for keeping my book buying in check!  😀

My reading started out pretty slow, but I was able to finish up a few over the weekend:

Anthony Bourdain’s Hungry Ghosts — 4 out of 5 stars

My goodreads review:  I can honestly say I know nothing about graphic novels. I couldn’t tell you if this had amazing artwork or if it was subpar, if the writing was amazing or if it sucked. But I will say this:
I was entertained, and I could see Anthony Bourdain’s love of Japanese storytelling coming through with each chapter.

Rosemary:  The Hidden Kennedy Daughter — 3 /12 to 4 stars out of 5

I went into this one thinking it would shed more light on Rosemary’s life.  Rather, it looks at the Kennedy family as a whole and how they were involved in her life, and how ultimately she shaped their lives as well.  The writing was a bit clunky at times, and certain factoids (Joe Kennedy’s political aspirations for example) would be better suited for another biography, but overall an interesting and somewhat sad read.

Moloka’i by Alan Brennert — 3 stars out of 5

My goodreads review:   Overall, not bad. This is your typical historical drama where the main character encounters every true historic event that happened in their lifetime (and if they didn’t personally go through it then some family member or friend did), loses nearly every person they love, yet finds some sort of redemption and/or peace and a happy ending.
I actually like this kind of story. Really, I do. But this one just didn’t do it for me.
This was one of those books where I felt like I had read 100+ pages and in reality had only read 20 or so. Very slow going for the first half. I did appreciate the research behind the story, but I felt the character development was pretty cliche.
And the snippets with the long-lost daughter Ruth (which I’m guessing was a set-up for the second book) did nothing for me. I’m not a cold-hearted bitch, but it was way too convenient. Or maybe at this point I just didn’t give a crap anymore.
Three stars for the historical references, which I truly liked. Beyond that, meh.

The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett — 3 out of 5 stars

I’ve wanted to read this one for some time.   After recently reading Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, I found myself comparing the two as I read.  Needless to say, Chandler won out.  The story just didn’t hold my interest like I thought it would.

Servants of the Storm by Delilah Dawson — 3 out of 5 stars

A YA horror/thriller that had so much potential but wound up fizzling out before the halfway mark.


And so we start another week.  Have a great one and, as always, Happy Reading!