Tuesday Top Ten


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 was to list the top ten phrases or words that draw you to a book – that cause you to pick-up a book at the library or buy it at the bookstore.

  1. BOOKS!  Books about books, bookstores, book groups, libraries, authors – I am truly a bibliophile and will pick up anything that mentions books.  I probably could’ve made my entire list out of book-related phrases, but it felt like it would be cheating…
  2. The Beach – If I could spend my days on the beach, watching the ocean (no matter the weather) with a book in my hand I would be exuberant!
  3. Ireland – The only Irish thing about me is my husband, but I love to read about Ireland, whether it’s a story of work-weary folks struggling to survive or a story of mysticism and belief, it always seems to be a world in which I become engrossed.
  4. Italy – Although I’ve never been there, I love books about Italy – the art, the music, the architecture, the history, the food…  I really need to plan a trip!
  5. Food – I love books about food, especially those that so artfully describe the art of creating it and the joy of consuming it.  I love to cook and while these books always make me hungry, they also inspire me to try new culinary creations of my own!
  6. The South – Maybe it’s because I’ve spent most of my life shivering in upstate NY, but I always love stories of the south – the relaxed pace and the warm air.
  7. Road Trip – There’s something about the idea of heading out on the road, leaving your cares and responsibilities behind, and heading out on an unknown adventure that is always appealing.
  8. Mystery – I admit it, I love a good mystery, and even some not-so-good mysteries – be they thrillers or fun cozy-mysteries I love a whodunit.
  9. Founding Fathers – I am always intrigued by our founding fathers and others from the revolutionary time in our country’s history – admittedly Thomas Jefferson, Ben Franklin, and Abigail Adams are my favorites, but I will take more than a passing glance at a book about anyone during that time period.
  10. Tech Stuff – Must be the engineer in me still lives on to some extent, I love geek books (maybe not the technical volumes anymore, but still geeky nonetheless) – Skunkworks by Ben Rich and Soul of a New Machine by Tracy Kidder are two that I found inspiring and fascinating.

2013 Reading Challenges

Since this is my first year as a blogger, and I started fairly early in the year, I decided to sign up for some of the reading challenges that are available on other blogs. There is so much out there to choose from, and I wish that I could do them all, but I decided to focus on a handful – something that I can accomplish but that will also challenge me. Luckily I can use the same book to fulfill multiple challenges! As I work through these challenges I will post my thoughts on my blog and will also include the list of books on this page.  Do you have any reading goals for this year?


Off the Shelf

The goal is to read as many books on your shelf as possible, those books that you haven’t started but that you had when 2013 started.  Since there are tons of books on my to-read pile that I’ve had for ages, this seemed like a good incentive to get me working my way through them!

I am choosing to participate at the Trying level, meaning that I am going to try to read 15 books that are sitting on my shelves right now!

What I’ve Read So Far:
Thomas Jefferson : The Art of Power by Jon Meacham
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout


The Classics

The challenge is to read classics (must have been published prior to 1980) this year.  There are no levels, but I am signing up to read 3 – they will probably mostly be rereads of great books that I read in high school or college that I have always wanted to read again.  It will be interesting to see what some “maturity” (ok – aging) will do to my perspectives.

What I’ve Read So Far:
Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara
Call of the Wild by Jack London


Nerdy Non-Fiction – COMPLETE

The goal is to read more non-fiction books.  I largely read fiction (for a number of reasons I will probably carry on about at a later time), so this will be a great challenge for me.  I am signing up for the Geek level, with the goal of reading 4-6 non-fiction books in 2-3 different categories.

What I’ve Read So Far:
With or Without You by Domenica Ruta (Biography/Memoir)
Thomas Jefferson : The Art of Power by Jon Meacham (Biography/History)
The Thieves of Book Row by Travis McDade (American History/Crime)
I Am A Man by Joe Starita (American History)
Hothouse by Boris Kachka (Business/History)
Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore (Biography/History)


Ireland Reading Challenge

Although I am Irish by marriage only, I love Irish authors and books that take place in Ireland, so this should be a fun challenge.  I am signing up for the Luck o’ the Irish level and will try to read 6 books for this challenge.

What I’ve Read So Far:
Week in Winter by Maeve Binchy
Screwed by Eoin Colfer
City of Hope by Kate Kerrigan
The Time of My Life by Cecelia Ahern


Southern Literature – COMPLETE!

Maybe it’s living in a climate where the winter seems to last too long, but I devour books that are set in the south.  I am signing up for the Y’all come back now, y’hear! level with the goal of reading 4 books for this challenge.  Given what I have already read, I will probably end up reading more than that, but that was the highest challenge level available.

What I’ve Read So Far:
Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Literary Society by Amy Hill Hearth
Sweet Tea Revenge by Laura Childs
Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
Dead, White, and Blue by Carolyn Hart
Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman
The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank


What’s in a Name 6 – COMPLETE!

This challenge just seemed like a lot of fun to me.  The goal is to read a book that has the following in its title (for a total of 6 books):

  1. Up or down (or equivalent): The Fall of Five by Pittacus Lore
  2. Something you’d find in your kitchen: The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
  3. Party or celebration : The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan
  4. Fire (or equivalent): Inferno by Dan Brown
  5. An Emotion: City of Hope by Kate Kerrigan
  6. Lost or found (or equivalent): Loss of Innocence by Richard North Patterson
  • library

Library Books Reading Challenge – COMPLETE!

OK, so I signed up for this one because it will be pretty easy for me considering that I work in a library and most of what I read comes from the library.  The goal is to read books from your local library.  I am signing up for the Just Insert IV level with the goal of reading 50 books from the library.  I might have to add books to the list that I have read but not reviewed, but I am going to see if I can make it with just those I review…

What I’ve Read so Far (that I’ve blogged about):
1. Week in Winter  by Maeve Binchy
2. The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister
3. Uniform Justice by Donna Leon
4. The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe
5. Just One Day by Gayle Forman
6. The Bookseller by Mark Pryor
7. Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale by Lynda Rutledge
8. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
9. Requiem by Lauren Oliver
10. Sweet Tea Revenge by Laura Childs
11. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
12. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
13. Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Literary Society by Amy Hill Hearth
14. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
15. The Cherry Cola Book Club by Ashton Lee
16. Appointment in Samarra by John O’Hara
17. One Shot by Lee Child
18. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
19. The Dinner by Herman Koch
20. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
21. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
22. Onion Street by Reed Farrel Coleman
23. Inferno by Dan Brown
24. Golden Egg by Donna Leon
25. Silken Prey by John Sandford
26. Dead, White, and Blue by Carolyn Hart
27. Screwed by Eoin Colfer
28. Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan
29. Deeply Odd by Dean Koontz
30. Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
31. The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan
32. Beautiful Day by Erin Hildebrand
33. Angora Alibi by Sally Goldenbaum
34. Cookbook Conspiracy by Kate Carlisle
35. 12th of Never by James Patterson
36. Body in the Piazza by Katherine Hall Page
37. Close Knit Killer by Maggie Sefton
38. City of Hope by Kate Kerrigan
39. The Time of My Life by Cecelia Ahern
40. The Thieves of Book Row by Travis McDade
41. The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank
42. Ladies’ Night by Mary Kay Andrews
43. Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth L. Silver
44. Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith
45. The Last Word by Lisa Lutz
46. Bombshell by Catherine Coulter
47. Never Go Back by Lee Child
48. The Whole Enchilada by Diane Mott Davidson
49. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
50. Storm Front by John Sandford
51. W is for Wasted by Sue Grafton
52. Fall of Five by Pittacus Lore
53. Hothouse by Boris Kachka
54. Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin by Jill Lepore

Stories within Stories

I read a couple of books in the last week that contained stories within the story.  You know the type, each chapter from a different character’s perspective, each telling their own story, but their stories all come together somehow.  In the case of the books that I read, their stories came together in a cooking class and at an inn in Ireland.  Although very different in many ways, I liked both of these books for the same reason.  Regardless of where people (or characters in a story!) come together, many of the messages are very similar.  We will have an impact, sometime in the future, on people that we have not yet met.  Our lives are bound to others in ways that we cannot foresee.  You never know the burdens that others carry.  Everyone’s personal story is unendingly complex, truly personal.  There is always hope.

ImageA Week in Winter, the last book written by Maeve Binchy before her death, was certainly my favorite of the two books.  Knowing that it was the last Maeve Binchy book made me a little melancholy before I even started reading, and a book set on the rocky and stormy Atlantic coast of Ireland will have plenty of melancholy already!  I love books set in Ireland, and while this one offered no surprises to fans of Maeve Binchy, it transported me to Stone House, an inn opened by Chicky Starr with the help of Riggy (a troubled young man who needs to find his way) and Orla (Chicky’s niece trying to find her place).  Separate chapters focus on each of these characters as well as an American actor who ends up there on a whim, a couple of doctors that are trying to recover from the tragedies they’ve witnessed, a psychic librarian, a cantankerous school principal, a Swede torn between family duty and his love of music, a young girl and her not-happy future mother-in-law, and a prize-winning couple.  Each has a different story and separate reasons for being at Stone House, where they will hopefully (mostly) find hope and a way forward in their lives.

Unfortunately, Maeve Binchy did not get a chance to finish editing the book before her death, and in places, it shows.  There are several awkward transitions, some characters that are not as well-developed as in her previous works, and some storylines that seem to be left unfinished.  However, it is still Maeve Binchy, comforting and thoughtful storytelling.

  Title: Week in Winter
   Author: Maeve Binchy
   Genre: Fiction
   Pages: 336
   Publication: Knopf, February 2013

ImageThe Art of Mixing, the sequel to The School of Essential Ingredients, is now on the shelves at the library and I decided it was time to bump the first book up to the top of my to-read list!  The story focuses on a cooking school being taught at a restaurant owned by the instructor, Lillian.  There are chapters in the book devoted to the back story of each of the students – the struggling teenager, the shy computer guy, the beautiful Italian woman, the harried mother, the forgetful elderly woman, the sad widower, and the older married couple.  Other chapters in the book focus on the cooking class each week and the interactions that the students have with the instructor, each other, and food.  Food is certainly a character of its own in this novel, and there are beautiful passages describing food and the art of cooking that could cause me to gain twenty pounds!  There are parts of the book that may be a little too saccharine, and maybe things end a little too neatly for everyone, but ultimately it was entertaining, a light set of stories about people and the way that food touches our lives.

   Title: The School of Essential Ingredients
   Author: Erica Bauermeister
   Genre: Fiction
   Pages: 240
   Publication: Putnam, January 2009