Thursday, November 16, 2017

Where Is Your Bookmark? (Lust & Wonder by Augusten Burroughs)

One thing I especially enjoy about the Going Postal book group I belong to is the variety of books we read. Each member selects a book at the beginning of the year, and every couple of months, after having read the book in our possession, we mail it, along with a journal, to the next person in the group. By the end of the year, we've each read all the books and recorded our thoughts. I have not liked all the books chosen, but I have had a chance to read books I might not have picked up otherwise. Lust & Wonder by Augusten Burroughs is one of those books. I really enjoyed Running With Scissors by the same author which I read about twelve years ago. It was funny and sad--at times shocking--but I found Burroughs to be humble and thoughtful, entertaining, and incredibly resilient. 

It has been awhile since I last read--or wanted to read--a memoir. And while reading Lust & Wonder right now is taking me away from the holiday themed books I am craving, I didn't want to let it sit too long (besides, there's a deadline to finish it and send it on to the next person).

Goodreads Summary: 
In chronicling the development and demise of the different relationships he's had while living in New York, Augusten Burroughs examines what it means to be in love, what it means to be in lust, and what it means to be figuring it all out. With Augusten's unique and singular observations and his own unabashed way of detailing both the horrific and the humorous, Lust and Wonder is an intimate and honest memoir that his legions of fans have been waiting for.

A weekly meme where readers share the first sentence of the book they are reading and say what they think. Hosted by the wonderful Gillion Dumas of Rose City Reader.
Just when I broke my sobriety and started drinking again in moderate controlled measure exactly like a normal person, I met this guy who wasn't just a guy but a writer, and not just a writer but the author of one of my favorite books. 
In AA, you are brainwashed into believing that all the good stuff happens only after you stop drinking. Clearly they are lying; my life improved significantly as soon as I ordered a cocktail.
Augusten Burroughs drew me in right away with this opening. It's got a conversational feel to it and from the second paragraph, I just know he's in for a hard fall. Not that I want him to fail, but it seems given it will happen.

A weekly meme in which readers share a random sentence or two from page 56 or 56% of the book they are reading. Hosted by the wonderful Freda of Freda's Voice.

"We didn't say anything. We just sat there on the sofa, and I understood everything. The problem is, I really am monogamous. You know? I've spent the last two years trying not to love somebody who's dying, but it didn't work." [pg 51]

I would be lying if I said tears didn't spring to my eyes as I read this excerpt and what came after. It's an insightful moment into Augusten's life at that time in his life.

I haven't gotten too far into the book--I'm on page 52, but I hope to make more progress this weekend. I find Burrough's writing and story compelling, and look forward to continuing on.

What do you think? Is this something you might like to read?

Can you believe Thanksgiving is next week (well, at least for us Americans)?! If you celebrate, I hope you have a wonderful day. I will be taking this next week off from blogging. I have to work for much of the week, but want to concentrate on spending time with my family, and maybe even dedicate some extra time to reading. Have a great weekend--and week!

© 2017, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Bookish Thoughts: Death in the Stacks by Jenn McKinlay

September in New England was about as perfect a season as there was on earth. ~ Opening of Death in the Stacks

Death in the Stacks (Library Lover's Mystery #8) by Jenn McKinlay
Berkley, 2017
Crime Fiction (Cozy); 304 pgs
Source: E-copy provided by publisher for an honest review.

I could not resist requesting Death in the Stacks by Jenn McKinlay when I first saw it up for offer on Penguin's First to Read program. Lindsey Norris is the directory for Briar Creek Library, and she has her work cut out for her with the annual Dinner in the Stacks fundraiser event scheduled in just a few days. The new library board president, Olive Boyle, is less than impressed with the plans and is making a lot of noise to make sure everyone knows it. Olive isn't liked by many people given her penchant to collect dirty secrets and use them as blackmail to get what she wants. She seems determined to bring down the library staff, and Lindsey isn't sure why.

When Olive is found murdered in the library, all eyes fall to one of the library employees who had been threatened by Olive just that night. Lindsey had promised to stay out of further murder investigations (probably related to the previous seven books in the series, which I haven't yet read), but everyone seems to know her better than herself. And this murder did take place in her library, after all. 

Olive is truly a despicable character, and one cannot help but dislike her. Although no one would wish the way she died on anyone, even her, it's likely not many will miss her. I could really relate to Lindsey on the other hand, and enjoyed getting to know her. I'm quite fond of her boyfriend too, but even more so her dog, Heathcliff, who definitely deserves more than the cameo he got. I also like the the sheriff, although she probably gives Lindsey more latitude than she should. There is quite a cast of eccentric characters, including some out of town guests.

I thought I knew the direction the novel was going, but it gets pretty twisty there in the end--if a bit confusing--but it kept me glued to the pages. I just had to know how everything turned out. 

Death in the Stacks was such a fun read. It even ends with the library's craft and reader's guide for one of the "Crafternoons" (the library's craft and reading group) book choices and the craft to go along with it. There are even a few recipes included to send the reader off hungry.  This is one of those books that walked into my life at just the right time. It was funny and down right silly at times, but I was hooked from the start. I look forward to reading more in the series.

To learn more about Jenn McKinlay and her work, please visit the author on the author's website

© 2017, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Wishing for Wednesday: Paranormal Suspense of the Romantic Variety & A Cozy Mystery

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme, hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings to spotlight and discuss the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they're books that have yet to be released. (Based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.)

Today's books share a similar theme. Sort of. Both feature a librarian. One in a paranormal romantic suspense and the other a cozy mystery.

Dangerously Divine (Broken Riders #2) by Deborah Blake
Release Date: November 28, 2017 by Berkley
The Riders: Three immortal brothers who kept the Baba Yagas safe, now stripped of their summons to protect. But fate is not finished with them—and their new callings are even more powerful...

Though his physical wounds have healed, Gregori Sun, the eldest of the Riders, remains in spiritual turmoil. His search for his mother, the one person able to heal his soul and save his life, is failing—until he crosses paths with a beautiful and fascinating librarian who might be the key to his salvation...

Ciera Evans’s bookish ways are just a guise. The product of a difficult past, she has dedicated her life to saving lost teens—by any means necessary. She works alone, but when a dark, brooding stranger proposes they team up to solve both their problems, she is tempted—in more ways than one...

After Ciera and Sun’s plans are derailed by dangerous enemies, they find themselves entangled in an ungodly affair—one that will force them to either find new strength together or be forever haunted by their pasts alone.
[Goodreads Summary]

Reason for wanting to read: I have not yet read the first book in the series (or any of the Baba Yaga books, for that matter), but I do like the sound of this one. A librarian who likes to save lost teens? An immortal and high stakes? I'm there!


A Murder for the Books (Blue Ridge Library Mysteries #1) by Victoria Gilbert
Release Date: December 12, 2017 by Crooked Lane Books
Fleeing a disastrous love affair, university librarian Amy Webber moves in with her aunt in a quiet, historic mountain town in Virginia. She quickly busies herself with managing a charming public library that requires all her attention with its severe lack of funds and overabundance of eccentric patrons. The last thing she needs is a new, available neighbor whose charm lures her into trouble.

Dancer-turned-teacher and choreographer Richard Muir inherited the farmhouse next door from his great-uncle, Paul Dassin. But town folklore claims the house’s original owner was poisoned by his wife, who was an outsider. It quickly became water under the bridge, until she vanished after her sensational 1925 murder trial. Determined to clear the name of the woman his great-uncle loved, Richard implores Amy to help him investigate the case. Amy is skeptical until their research raises questions about the culpability of the town’s leading families... including her own.

When inexplicable murders plunge the quiet town into chaos, Amy and Richard must crack open the books to reveal a cruel conspiracy and lay a turbulent past to rest in
A Murder for the Books, the first installment of Victoria Gilbert’s Blue Ridge Library mysteries. [Goodreads Summary]

Reason for wanting to read: In recent months I have bee, especially drawn to cozy mysteries when filling out my wish list, and I cannot resist adding this one about a small town librarian. Add to that a mystery from the past. I can't wait to meet Amy and her eccentric librarian patrons!

Do  either of these sound like something you would like to read too?

© 2017, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain

Montgomery, Alabama. ~ Opening of Quiet

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
Crown, 2012
Nonfiction; 370 pgs
Source: I purchased a copy for my own reading pleasure.
Goodreads Summary: 
At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over working in teams. It is to introverts—Rosa Parks, Chopin, Dr. Seuss, Steve Wozniak—that we owe many of the great contributions to society.

Quiet, Susan Cain argues that we dramatically undervalue introverts and shows how much we lose in doing so. She charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal throughout the twentieth century and explores how deeply it has come to permeate our culture. She also introduces us to successful introverts—from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Passionately argued, superbly researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how they see themselves.

When Quiet first came out in in 2012, I was very excited. American society has often placed more value on extroversion than it has on introversion. People who are quick on their feet, outgoing and are energized by socializing seem to be a step ahead of those of us who are more thoughtful, analytical and tend to need time alone to reboot.

I have always been the more reflective type, preferring to observe what is going on around me before joining in. I feel drained in social situations, rather than energized. I need my alone time to regroup and focus. I do better when I work on my own than in a team setting. And I prefer small groups to large crowds. I am a more private person, and am very introspective. I hate talking on the phone and do not have much patience for small talk.  The list could go on and on. My introversion runs deep.

The agency I work for recently adopted Gallup's employee engagement theory based on focusing on strengths to increase performance. It wasn't a surprise when I took the strengths survey that my top five strengths, particularly three of them, fall distinctly onto the introverted side. I like the idea of focusing on strengths rather than weaknesses. And to see some of my more introverted traits in a strength-based light has been validating in more ways than one. American culture pushes extroversion from the day we are born (it's even pushed in schools as early as elementary school), and introversion is seen more as a weakness.

What I loved about Susan Cain's book is how it completely flips the idea that extroversion is better on its ear. Through extensive research, time and time again, Cain shows how, throughout history, introverted traits have benefited business and society. Her book is full of examples of introverts shining. She also goes into how introverts have adapted in an extroverted society, sometimes able to fake it with the best of them--but it can take a toll. She also discusses how there is no perfect cookie cutter definition of an introverted and extroverted person. While some traits tend to be more recognized as one or the other, there are social introverts and their are quiet extroverts. And what of ambiverts, who fall more in the middle of the spectrum, with both introverted and extroverted traits?

I especially found it interesting how different cultures view introversion and extroversion. Asian countries tend to value introversion more, for example, whereas the Western world places more value in extroversion.

Quiet was more focused on business, especially in the early chapters, than I expected, and there is a definite bias toward introversion in the book. I expected that, of course (I mean, just look at the title of the book!), but even though Cain says both are equal, extroversion didn't come out as being in the best of light. I wouldn't have minded a bit more balance in that regard.

I came away from Susan Cain's book feeling even more pride in my introversion than when I started; although, I admit it is hard to completely get rid of those old feelings of wishing I were more the kind of person who was at ease in social situations and more impulsive at times.

To learn more about Susan Cain and her work, please visit the author on the author's website

© 2017, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

November TBR List Winner

Thank you for helping me decide what book from my TBR collection I should read next:

My TBR List is a meme hosted by the awesome Michelle at Because Reading. It’s a fun way to choose a book from your TBR pile to read. The 1st Saturday of every month, I will list 3 books I am considering reading and take a poll as to which you think I should read. I will read the winner that month, and my review will follow (unfortunately, not likely in the same month, but eventually--that's all I can promise). 

I hope you all are enjoying your weekend! Mouse had her last soccer game of the season this morning. I am looking forward to being able to sleep in a little on Saturday mornings again. It was a relatively quiet day after that. I managed to get caught up on my book review writing, which I had fallen behind in. Mouse and I had a little tea party with quite a variety of snacks (and no tea). She invited her new unicorn which she got from our next door neighbor who is having a yard sale.

This evening there was a parent's meeting for the dance studio's Christmas showcase. This is my first time doing anything like this, and I am a bit of a nervous wreck. A combination of having no idea what I am doing, how to make rehearsal during work hours, and all the extra costs they don't tell you about.

At least the majority of my Christmas shopping is done. And I got my Christmas photo cards ordered.

Thank you to everyone who took time to vote in my poll this past week! It takes some of the pressure off of me to have you help me choose what I should read next.

Rule of Luck by Catherine Cerveny came in with 4 votes and Annie Spence's Dear Fahrenheit 451 received 10 votes. Snowfall on Haven Point won 50% of the votes, getting 14 votes.

I was excited about reading all of these, but at the moment, I'm particularly happy to see RaeAnne Thayne's Snowfall on Haven Point won if only because I could use a happy holiday escape right now--something that will help take my mind off of work stress, dance performance stress, family stress, the news, and, well, you get the picture. Thank you so much to all who voted!

I hope you all have a great week. Happy reading!

© 2017, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved. If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.