Sweet Tea Revenge

sweet teaI wasn’t going to write about this book, it was a quick read – one in a series of light cozy mysteries that I like to read.  But it’s almost the end of March, almost Easter, and here in Central New York it’s still snowing, a lot these past couple of weeks.  So what better to read about and think about than a quirky tea shop in Charleston, South Carolina where the days and nights are hot!

This series is just for fun – the stories are light, quick to read, quirky characters and typical cozy mystery storylines.  The series follows Theodesia who owns a tea shop in Charleston and seems to have a knack for stumbling on dead bodies and getting embroiled in solving the mysteries of their deaths.  She is aided by the stodgy and proper Drayton (her tea master), the young and quirky Haley (her chef/baker), while running up against the gruff Detective Tidwell.

The setting is beautifully described, as is the food prepared each day for the tea shop, and both make me want to head to Charleston simply for tea.  I want to put on a fancy dress and a big hat, wander through the quaint shops in Charleston, and have some afternoon tea.  Then I want to change into my jeans and t-shirt and spend the afternoon wandering through the back roads and along the coast, finding a decrepit mansion to explore, sitting on the docks, or wandering through an old cemetery.  The book includes recipes in the back and someday I am actually going to make myself some scones and Devonshire cream and a pot of tea (now if I only had a veranda and a hot day I would be all set!).

This particular book was not my favorite in the series.  It seems that the characters are getting in a bit of a rut and Theodesia’s new love interest seemed to have no real role or personality.  I didn’t predict the ending, but it wasn’t really surprising either.  Hopefully future books will bring some surprises and growth into the series.

Title: Sweet Tea Revenge
Author: Laura Childs
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 336
Publication: Berkley, March 2013


Top Ten Books I Recommend The Most

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers create their own lists based on the chosen topics and post links to our lists. It’s a way of all sharing our thoughts and our love of books.  And who doesn’t love lists??

So this week the challenge is to list the books that we recommend the most.  Each experience with a book is intensely personal, recommending a book is dangerous business.  What you love may not be loved by others since every person’s experience with a book is distinct.  You may not love the books that I love, but these are those that I love enough to recommend to others…

  1. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – If I had to pick one book that has impacted me the most, which I found to be the greatest book I have ever read, this would be it.  I believe that we are watching a classic be born and someday I will be telling my grandkids that I remember when it was a new release!  If you have not read this book please do so, immediately.
  2. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan – A fantastic coming-of-age story about two boys (all they have in common is the name) who are figuring out who they are, how to be that person, and how to find acceptance.  There are a ton of coming-of-age books out there, but I have never read one that tells the story so beautifully.
  3. The Giver by Lois Lowry – Can a utopian society really exist?  What has to be given up?  And is it worth the price?  What if you decide it isn’t worth the cost?  There are a lot of books out now that deal with dystopian societies, but this is definitely my favorite, dealing with the core questions artfully.
  4. The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny – I love the Inspector Gamache series and it only gets better with each book that is released.  While there are a lot of mystery series that I enjoy, this series has a depth and beauty that I have not found elsewhere.  The character development, history, settings, depth of interactions and emotions, make this my favorite to recommend for mystery lovers.
  5. The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick – An inspired work of art.  The story is told through a combination of words and amazing illustrations and is done seamlessly.  His second book, Wonderstruck, is just as wonderful and I recommend both of these books to children and adults alike.
  6. Whatever it Takes by Paul Tough – I am passionate about the importance of education, particularly literacy.  This book about Geoffrey Canada’s work in starting The Harlem Children’s Zone is information and inspiring.
  7. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand – The story of Louis Zamperini’s life, from his delinquent childhood to the Berlin Olympics through harrowing experiences during World War II, is an amazing tale of perseverance and faith.
  8. The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo – My favorite DiCamillo book and the book that I enjoyed reading to the kids the most.  A new fairy tale – another one that I will tell my grandkids about someday!
  9. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein – Both humorous and heart-wrenching, the story of people as told from the point of view of a dog.  Sounds a hokey but somehow it really does work, leaving you loving the soul of this amazing animal.
  10. Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers by Thich Nhat Hanh – I love the writings of Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk exiled from Vietnam.  This book is a conversation between Jesus and Buddha, centered in compassion and the similarities that are at the core of both beliefs.


requiemThis is the conclusion to one of those trilogies that I’m always complaining about.  I LOVED the first book, Delirum, which I read shortly before the second book came out.  I couldn’t wait to read Pandemonium when it came out, and I have to admit to being a little disappointed with it.  It suffered from the “middle-book syndrome” and I was disappointed in having to wait another year for it to get better and to come to a conclusion.  I have read numerous reviews complaining about the ending of the trilogy, whether it was because someone had a preference in the love triangle that didn’t come to fruition or because there were too many issues left unresolved.  I did feel like the ending was a bit rushed, but overall I liked the ending, I though the unresolved issues were appropriate, displaying that life isn’t simple and events don’t always lead to a tidy ending, we don’t always have control, we certainly don’t control others, the future is unknown, but we keep on going.  And I guess it leaves room for another book???

“They couldn’t have known that even this was a lie – that we never really choose, not entirely.  We are always being pushed and squeezed down one road or another.  We have no choice but to step forward, and the step forward again, and then step forward again; suddenly we find ourselves on a road we haven’t chosen at all.  But maybe happiness isn’t in the choosing.  Maybe it’s in the fiction, in the pretending” that wherever we have ended up is where we intended to be all along.”

Title: Requiem
Author: Lauren Oliver
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 432
Publication: Harper Collins, March 2013

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

24 hourI loved this book!  It was a fun and quirky adventure, an engrossing and fast read.  It had an old and odd bookstore, the history of printing, technology (and I WAS an engineer in a previous life, so I do appreciate technology even though I’ve tried to forget!), friendship, romance, intrigue, humor, ancient religious cults, interesting characters, and a quest – who doesn’t love a good quest?!

Clay has lost his marketing job and ends up working the overnight shift as the lone book clerk in Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.  But not all is as it seems in the bookstore which has shelves three-stories high filled with strange books that cannot be found on Amazon or in any ordinary library.  What are these books and who are the odd assortment of people that come in to return one and take yet another (this is a bookstore, not a library, right?).  Throw in an artistic roommate, a nerdy yet rich friend Clay’s had since middle school, a girlfriend from Google, and the odd yet loveable Mr. Penumbra himself, and this cast will go on a true quest for the meaning of mortality and life.

Of course the fact that it is a book about books definitely appealed to me, I can never seem to read enough books about books!  The author manages to skillfully combine the world of print and the world of technology without demeaning either, showing that a love for both can coexist. But in the end, after the adventure is complete, and the answers are found, this is a book about friendship.

“There is no immortality that is not built on friendship and work done with care. All the secrets in the world worth knowing are hiding in plain sight.” 

Title: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
Author: Robin Sloan
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 288
Publication: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, October 2012

Top Ten Books I HAD To Buy…But Are Still Sitting On My Shelf Unread

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers create their own lists based on the chosen topics and post links to our lists. It’s a way of all sharing our thoughts and our love of books.  And who doesn’t love lists??

So this week the challenge is to list the books that we just HAD to buy but that we still have not read.  I am a book nut, and I love all kinds of books, and I love to own books.  But since I’ve been working at a library I find that I rarely buy books anymore, mostly I borrow them, read them, and take them back.  The books that I buy are often ones that I’ve already read and have decided that I want to own EXCEPT for books at used book sales…  that’s where I really have a tendency to go nuts and display great weakness (seriously, eventually you run out of places to stack the things!).  Having said that, I do have some books on my shelves that I have purchased with the best intentions, and that I will read, eventually.  Books that I saw somewhere, and just had to have, but that seem to get lost in the shuffle of all the books I am bringing home from the library!

1.Fist, Stick, Knife, Gun : A Personal History of Violence by Geoffrey Canada.  This one I actually did buy new.  I am a huge fan of Geoffrey Canada and his work with the Harlem Children’s Zone.  The book written about his work, Whatever it Takes, by Paul Tough and the documentary featuring him, Waiting for Superman, were both informative and inspiring.  I was fortunate enough to get to hear Geoffrey Canada speak in October, and to have a chance to meet him and have him autograph both books, and now I just need to read this one!

2. Dearest Friend: A Life of Abigail Adams by Lynne Withey.  I adore Abigail Adams.  Where John seemed more than a little cranky and egotistical and well, downright whiny sometimes, Abigail was calm and nonsensical and kept the household and the family together and solvent, taking on new roles for women.  I picked up this biography at a used book sale and really want to get around to reading it!

3. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham.  Thomas Jefferson is another historical figure that I greatly admire (he loved books and libraries – what more can I say?).  I picked up this new book about him and I hear great things, so it definitely needs to find its way to my nightstand!

4.  Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini.  OK, has everyone read this but me?  I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t gotten to it yet, but I did pick it up and it is on my shelf, so hopefully I will soon!

5. Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey.  I love the cover of this book, I love the description of this book, I love the reviews of this book, I just haven’t actually read this book yet…

6. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay.  I feel like this is another book that everyone else has read – like I have some catching up to do!  I have wanted to read something by Tatiana de Rosnay for some time, now that I picked this up I will need to actually do it!

7. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.  This was added to my to-read list after I finished reading The End of Your Life Book Club.  Imagine my surprise when I realized I already owned it but just hadn’t read it yet!

8. My Berlin Kitchen by Luisa Weiss.  I love books about self-discovery and books about food (even though they always make me hungry!)

9. Water Witches by Chris Bohjalian.  Mr. Bohjalian is another author that I’ve always been meaning to try, so when I saw this book at a used bookstore I had to grab it.  And I’ll get to it eventually, really I will!

10.Three Junes by Julia Glass.  Honestly, I’ve heard mixed things about this book, but it’s one that I’ve wanted to read.  Stories that trace characters through time are always interesting to me, and I heard enough positive things about the book that I had to pick it up!
What books did you just have to buy, but haven’t actually read yet?  Have you read any of the books on my list?  Are they worth putting at the top of my to-read list?