Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bookstore Spotlight: McKay Bookstore

How GREAT is this picture?

I was checking out blogs of book lovers and ran across BookwormMeetsBookworm. I immediately honed in on this photo, even though the blogger is a photographer and there were many very excellent photos. The great thing is, this bookstore is in TENNESSEE!! Driving distance, day trip! I couldn't believe it!

My friend Deanne is coming in a week, and we are going to go. The thing to decide which location to go to. They have three: Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga. It will take us 2 hours and 19 minutes to get from driveway to parking lot.

A little McKay Bookstore history:
McKay Books was founded in 1978 as a “free enterprise library:” a bookstore which would contain a wide variety of books which an individual could obtain cheaply, keep as long as they wanted, and return for credit on other books in the future.

The original idea remains unchanged, but the company has grown…and keeps on growing! McKay stores are now a valuable resource for scholars, casual readers, music lovers, video gamers, and movie buffs throughout the region.

Back in the old days, our books were displayed in old Canada Dry crates, stacked precariously on top of each other and labeled with sharpie markers!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A new mini challenge!

A new mini challenge has been added to my Shelfari book group's summer challenge! Yippee!!

Mini Challenge #3: read a BOTM from 2010.
Challenge must be completed and reviewed by July 20th in order to receive an extra entry to raffle at the end of the game. Good luck!

You can't put a book on the list if you have read it already; it has to be freshly read. Bummer! Here are the books from last year, with the ones I have already read in PURPLE.

January's BOTMs:
1 .The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent (1/8)
2. Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks (1/15)
3. The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (1/22)
4. Angel Time by Anne Rice (1/29)

February's BOTMs:
1. Sunday's at Tiffany's by James Patterson (2/12)
2. My Life in France by Julia Child (2/19)
3. Labyrinth by Kate Mosse (2/26)

March's BOTMs!
1. The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas (3/5)
2. The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff (3/12)
3. A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick (3/19)
4. The Blue Notebook by James Levine (3/26)

April's BOTMs!
1. Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier (4/9)
2. The Girl Who Chased The Moon by Sarah Addison Allen (4/16)
3. The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff (4/23)
4. Saving Fish from Drowning (4/30)

May's BOTMs
1. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (5/7)
2. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (5/14)
3. Everlost by Neal Shusterman (5/21)
4. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn (5/28)

June's BOTMs
1. Birds Without Wings by Louis Be Bernieres (6/4)
2. The Postmistress by Sarah Blake (6/11)
3. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (6/18)
4. Calligraphy of the Witch by Alicia Gaspar de Alba (6/25)

July's BOTMs
1. The Book of Unholy Mischief by Ellen Newmark (7/10)
2. My Name is Memory by Ann Brasheres (7/17)
3. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux (7/24)
4. The Passage by Justin Cronin (7/31)

August's BOTMs
1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (8/6)
2. Still Missing by Chevy Stevens (8/13)
3. My name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira (8/20)
4. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender (8/27)

September's BOTMs
1. Alice I have Been by Melanie Benjamin (9/3)
2. Time is a River by Mary Alice Monroe (9/10)
3. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (9/17)
4. The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister (9/24)

October's BOTMs
1. The Seance by John Harwood (10/8)
2. The Wives of Henry Oades by Johanna Moran (10/15)
3. Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L. Howard (10/22)
4. The Mark by Jen Nadol (10/29)
5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson (10/15**)

November's BOTMs
1. Turtle Moon by Alice Hoffman (11/5)
2. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (11/12)
3. Room by Emma Donoghue (11/19)

4. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (11/28)

December's BOTMs
1. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier (12/3)
2. Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen (12/10)
3. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson (12/17)
4. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (12/26)

With all of these books available, I will have a time deciding!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New BOTM for July is now set!

My favorite group on Shelfari is the Bibliophile Reading Group.
The official July books of the month, along with the date of the posting of online discussion questions are:

1. Ape House by Sara Gruen (7/8)
2. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (7/15)
3. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks (7/22)
4. The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen (7/29)

I have two of these on my TBR shelf already, and will have to add the others. I can't decide which one to read first, but I know that I have the Sarah Addison Allen book on my Nook already, so that will probably be my choice by default.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hotel World by Ali Smith

There are five characters, two relatives, three strangers, but all female. There is a homeless woman, a hotel receptionist, a hotel critic, the ghost of a hotel chambermaid, and the ghost’s sister. These women tell a story. And it is through this story that unbeknown to them their lives and fate intersect, the catalyst to their story: the Global Hotel.

The author divides the book into six sections:
  1. The first section, “Past” tells the story of Sara Wilby
  2. The second part, "Present Historic", is about a homeless girl begging for money outside the Hotel.
  3. The “Future Conditional”, the third section of the novel, Lise.
  4. The fourth part is “Perfect” with its far from perfect character Penny.
  5. The fifth section of the novel titled “Future in the Past,” is entirely Clare’s memories on the life and death of her sister Sara.
  6. “Present” is the title of the last part of the novel.
This book was a finalist, as you can see, for the Man Booker Prize. The Man Booker Prize for Fiction is a literary prize awarded each year for the best original full-length novel, written in the English language, by a citizen of the Commonwealth of Nations, Ireland, or Zimbabwe. All-in-all, this award means nothing to me, as an American. But, Jolly Good for the author!

I enjoyed this book. The writing style is quite different from the other books I've read lately. As a matter of fact, I found each section to be unique in style, perspective and voice. That's what made this book a winner for me. However, it is not for everyone. You have to think a little on this one, so it's not quite a beach read. I would recommend it, though, if you want to get a little something in between your teeth between beach drinks.

The book satisfied the Summer Reading Challenge Mini Challenge #2 requirement for a book whose author's first or last name begins with the letter "S".


Friday, June 24, 2011

Without a Backward Glance by Kate Veitch


First of all, the summary:

On Christmas Eve 1967, Rosemarie McDonald walks out the door of her suburban Melbourne home, leaving her husband behind to raise their four children: Deborah, the eldest at almost 13 and default mother; Robert, the compulsive worrier; James the peacemaker even at eight; and Meredith, the perpetual baby. Decades later, the children have forged their own families, but remain trapped in their original roles and are still somehow waiting for word from Rosemarie. When James rediscovers her on a trip to London, they are all faced with confronting their betrayer, and themselves, and possible forgiveness. Published under the title Listen in Veitch's native Australia, the novel's omniscient narration eavesdrops on the inner lives of each family member and their different ways of coping with abandonment—not all of them healthy. What emerges is a heartfelt yet unsentimental portrait of a family undone by a mother's desire, and its struggle to find ways to keep going and keep together.

With that done, let me say that it took me a while to get into this one. I never considered putting it down, but I just wasn't invested in it. It was easy to read a few pages then forget about it for days. However, I needed to get this one finished for my book challenge, so I picked it up a few days ago and got hard-headed about it.

To my pleasant surprise, I liked this one quite a bit! The characters were different, engaging, had issues and felt very real to me. I had never read a book set in Australia before, and while it didn't play in the story much, it lent a different tone with the colloquialisms. I gave it three stars because it ended a little too tidy and a little too fast. Almost like the author said, "Oh, no! I need to finish this one out!" ha

The book satisfied the Summer Reading Challenge requirement for a book with summer colors on the cover (red, yellow or orange). Overall, I recommend this one for a nice, light read.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Blubber by Judy Blume

Blubber is a young adult novel by Judy Blume first published in 1974. The protagonist is Jill Brenner, a Pennsylvania fifth-grader who joins her classmates in ostracizing and bullying Linda, an awkward and overweight girl. Linda gives an oral class report about whales and is hence nicknamed "Blubber" by her peers.

This book satisfied the Summer Reading Challenge Mini Challenge #1 for a book of 150-250 pages.

Here is my official Shelfari review:
Wow. What a painful book. It is well-written, but the truth of it really hits home. The school years can be excruciating, especially if you are a girl. Girls can be so mean! I was surprised by the harshness of the characters, but found it to be very accurate. There is very little remorse in bullying until you yourself are bullied. And the ease with which this mantle is swapped from girl to girl is extraordinary. Without a real beginning or ending, it is simply an account; a snapshot of time in the lives of a few students. A good book for younger readers.

Oh, this book was PAINFUL to read. The bullying was very real, and reminiscent of what many, if not all, girls endure at this age.

Interesting, too, that the one being bullied doesn't hesitate to bully others when the tables are turned. No lessons learned here, I was sorry to see. Judy Bloom delivers a true story, but I found very little redeeming about the story, and would not want to read another like it.

A little too much realism and not enough escape for me. However, it is written simply and would  be an easy read for a grade-schooler.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Beach House by Jane Green

The Beach House by Jane Green

Known in Nantucket as the crazy woman who lives in the rambling house atop the bluff, Nan doesn’t care what people think. At sixty-five-years old, her husband died twenty years ago, her beauty has faded, and her family has flown. If her neighbors are away, why shouldn’t she skinny dip in their swimming pools and help herself to their flowers? But when she discovers the money she thought would last forever is dwindling and she could lose her beloved house, Nan knows she has to make drastic changes.

So Nan takes out an ad: Rooms to rent for the summer in a beautiful old Nantucket home with water views and direct access to the beach. Slowly, people start moving into the house, filling it with noise, with laughter, and with tears. As the house comes alive again, Nan finds her family expanding. Her son comes home for the summer, and then an unexpected visitor turns all their lives upside-down.

I loved this book! It was a very fast read and very predictable, but a comfortable predictable, like meatloaf and potatoes for dinner. I loved the characters and the way they were developed. By the end of the book, I felt like I knew each one, and desperately wanted to be invited to the party at the end.

I will definitely read more by this author!

This book satisfied the Summer Reading Challenge requirement to have a summer theme in the title.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Summer Reading Challenge

A group on my Shelfari page issued a Summer Reading Challenge, and you know I had to take it on! Here it is:

A reading challenge has been created to keeps us entertained this summer. Here's the challenge:
1. Read 3 books that are BOTMs from June-August.
2. Read a book that has a summer theme on the title (For example, The Beach by Alex Garland)
3. Read a book that has at least 400 pages.
4. Read a book that starts with the letter of your first name or last name.
5. Read a book that has at least one of the summer colors on the cover: red, yellow, and orange.

This equals 7 books for the summer!

The challenge begins June 1st and ends August 31st. Those that complete the challenge will be entered into a raffle to win a $25 gift card from Amazon. In order to get credit for the books read, the participant must write a review under this thread and indicate which number of the challenge was read. I will keep track of everyone who participates.

Also, mini challenges will be randomly given throughout the summer. For each mini challenge completed, the participant will receive an extra entry to the raffle. *Note* The main challenge must be completed by August 31st in order to receive the extra entries.

Here are the mini challenges so far:

Mini Challenge #1:
Read a book that is between 150-250 pages long.
Challenge must be completed and reviewed by June 22nd in order to receive an extra entry to raffle at the end of the game. Good luck!

Mini Challenge #2:
Read a book whose author's first name or last name starts with the letter "S" for "summer".
Challenge must be completed and reviewed by July 8th in order to receive an extra entry to raffle at the end of the game. Good luck!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

I love to read book reviews that fairly gush sunshine and rainbows as the writer tells what a wonder the book is, never seen before in all of time. This book alone will prove to be the cure for all major diseases.

This is that kind of book. If you Google book reviews of "Life of Pi", you will find this type of review:

...unbelievably fascinating story
...a preposterous but utterly enchanting story
...blends fact and fiction with wily charm
...was so good, the plot was incredibly well-crafted, and the descriptions were so detailed and vivid

See what I mean? How is THAT for raising expectations? I thought my hair would thicken and lose all gray strands, my nails would strengthen, my lungs would cleanse and expand, and my life in general would reach heights only known by the Dali Lama.

Needless to say, I was sorely disappointed.

I bought this book shortly after it was available in trade paperback. Long, long before it became a bestselling phenom. I tried to read it. I read several chapters and had to put it down, intended to pick it back up at some point.

Fast forward a year or so. I picked it up again. Of course, I had to begin from the beginning since so much time (and many other books) had lapsed. I read and really, really tried to like it. I put it down again.

Now a movie is to be made because it is so popular with readers everywhere. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I went to the Digital Media Zone of my library's website and downloaded the audio book. Surely I could listen to it!

I put in about 1/2 hour. I have 14 days to listen to 11 hours of book being read to me. I just don't know if I will be able to.

It's sooooooooo boring............

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Welcome to Carmen's Book Adventure, where I will post what I have read, how I liked it, and what I plan to read and why.

Hope you enjoy my book adventure!