Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Bookish Adventures - Library Night at The K

If you've spent any amount of time on this blog, it's apparent that reading is one of the great loves of my life. If you know me IRL, you also know that Kansas City Royals baseball is one of those other great loves. That said, when I found out that the Royals were having a Royals Night at The K, I knew I had to be there!

I was really pumped to win tickets from the Friends of the Johnson County Libraries! I would have bought tickets regardless, but free tickets are always my jam.

So, what does Library Night at The K even mean? Well, y'all, I didn't really know. However, within five minutes of walking into the stadium, I realized I had found my heaven on earth.

There were booths set up for each of the libraries in attendance, as well as for KCPT, our local PBS station. Y'all, there were so many free, amazing things available. 

Here's the visual recap.

Note: In addition to the stuff they had for adults/me, they had so much great stuff for kids. If you have a kiddo who loves the library as I did/do, this would be such a great place to take them!

Anyway, let me recap what I found!

First off, they had signs! This sign will 100% be added to our Royals (and Cardinals) themed basement. Again, ALL MY INTERESTS IN ONE PLACE. Then, KCPT had a kiosk to vote for the Great American Read complete with "I Voted" buttons. A few of the libraries were also giving away books. Y'ALL, LET ME SAY THIS LOUDLY - THEY WERE GIVING FREE BOOKS TO PEOPLE AT THE BASEBALL GAME. WHAT A TIME TO BE ALIVE! Even cooler was that 2 of the 3 books I received were on my to-read list. I also had the experience of walking through the stadium with a stack of books. If ever a scenario described who I am in life, this would 100% be it. There were also other great things I snagged because y'all when it comes to swag, libraries are on their game!

In addition to the libraries stuff, I landed some baseball stuff, too! It was T-Shirt Tuesday, and the shirt happened to be for Royals broadcasters Ryan LeFebvre and Rex Hudler. When the promo schedule was released, this was a shirt I'd had my eye on, so the timing was perfect. As luck would have it, there was also a book signing at the team store! Former Royals trainer Mickey Cobb has a new book about the pine tar game, so I purchased a copy of Blue Whistler. Stories of baseball history are some of my favorites given my love of the intricacies of the game and the lore of players' careers, so I'm excited to read this one. Not to mention, Mickey Cobb was just an all-around kind and friendly human that I loved chatting with for a bit.

Also, you might have seen libraries in the news this week. I picked up this bookmark that really speaks to how much libraries matter in my community and so many others.

I always enjoy a night at the ballpark, but given all the book-ish things I found, this one especially awesome! It also was nice to see the Royals win! Obviously, it was the power of library lovers behind them that helped! I'm definitely planning on making this game one I attend each year. I'm already looking forward to the next one. Oh, and next year, I'm definitely bringing a bigger bag to carry all the books and giveaways! If you have a library night with your local sports team, I'd highly recommend going. If you don't and/or you missed this one, you can always find a pretty amazing local library in your community.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Two Thrillers

I realized I unintentionally read on a theme for this round! All of these are mysteries! Although as you'll see, there are obviously different audiences.

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter was an ARC I received. I'll admit that I thought I had this one figured out early on, and I was kind of aggravated. However, I should have known better! This is the first Karin Slaughter I've read, and y'all, this one was awesome. The premise is that 30-something Andrea (bonus points for having a character with my name) and her mom Laura are out shopping at a mall. It's just a normal shopping day, and then something goes down. This opens the flood gates of truth, as Laura has a whole past that Andrea knew nothing about. The book alternates between present-day and Laura's past to piece the story together. I don't want to reveal two much about the crux of what Laura was involved with previously as that totally spoils the twists in this one that made it so, so good. Trust me, it'll make you turn the pages as you try to figure it all out. I would have read this one in a day had sleep not been a thing I needed in life. Oh, and they're turning this one into a TV series, so you should read this before that. #BooksOverTV #AndMovies

Read this book if - You're looking for a thriller that you won't be able to put down. You dig a thriller where you just can't figure out any of the twists. You're looking for something that revolves around big, big secrets. 

Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Carnival Crime and Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Soccer Scheme by Donald Sobol were throwback reads for me. These were later ones in the series, so I hadn't read them before. First of all, I underestimated how excited I would be about solving one of the cases. In fact, in each book I solved three cases! I mean, that's a 30% success rate, but y'all it's something. Going back to Idaville was definitely more enjoyable than I planned. I was actually only planning on reading one of these, but loved the first one so much that I decided to take in one more. I really just appreciate the wit and logic in these. They're built so well, and there's always that one clue that is the solution. I was thrilled (again, legit thrilled) when I figured it out, but also intrigued enough to go back and figure out what I missed when I didn't. 

Oh, and I just have to say that the Carnival Crime has one of the best, corniest, most amazing jokes of all-time, "They should have called themselves the Lamp Chains. They were always pulling something shady." Right? RIGHT!?!?!?

Read this book if - You're looking for a blast from the past. You love finding the twist in a short story that is a bit more lighthearted.

Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Meija read like an episode of 48 Hours. That's not a bad thing, but it's the best parallel I can draw. I wanted to LOVE this one, and instead I just liked it. This one focuses on Hattie Hoffman, a high school senior who is found murdered. Through flashbacks that cover the previous year and present-day discoveries from multiple characters, it is revealed that Hattie had a big secret involving a relationship. The question then becomes what role did this relationship play in her death? The story comes in pieces as you try to figure out who is responsible. I didn't guess the twist on this one, and in fact, there was even a fake twist! I appreciated that, but something in the formula just didn't make this one totally my jam.

Read this book if - You are a fan of 48 Hours/Dateline and/or 20/20 mysteries. You want something where there are double lives/intense secrets to wade through to solve the mystery. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Books for the Young-ish

For this round, my reads skewed a bit younger than I tend to go, but still good. 

The Joy of Cookies is Cookie Monster's latest (only?) book. If you ever thought to yourself, "What would it be like if Cookie Monster wrote a book?" this will answer that question and probably be totally what you envisioned. This is more of a conversation piece as it is a really quick read. It is literally just common inspirational phrases and such with cookies swapped into the content. I'll admit I chuckled at quite a few of these. Look, y'all, this isn't an intense read by any stretch, however it's a good moment of comic relief if you are searching for that kind of thing in your life.

Read this book if - Cookie Monster is one of your favorite Muppets. You have a strong love of cookies. You want to find something that's totally lighthearted and fun.

The One and Only Ivan by K.A. Applegate is phenomenal. Y'all, it is just totally and completely phenomenal. It's told from Ivan's perspective which is unique because Ivan is a gorilla who lives in captivity at a circus-themed mall. Through his eyes, you learn about the other animals, the people, etc. It is so beautifully told and gave me all the feels. The author wrote animals that have this incredible heart. I'm not sure how she did it, but she really made me 100% feel this was the actual gorilla interpreting and recounting his world. The book also focuses on Ivan's relationship with a young elephant, and this had me so absolutely captivated. I've still got half of the year to go, but I'm quite sure this book is going to earn a spot in my 2018 Top Ten Reads list. This one is so, so, so worth the read.

Read this book if - You love a good read about animals with the added layer of the animal telling the story. You're looking for something that's going to make you all kinds of emotional - in that way where you smile, but also cry.

The Boxcar Children: Journey on a Runaway Train is part of the rebooted Boxcard Children series. As a kiddo, I was more apt to get the latest Babysitter's Club book than the Boxcar Children in my book orders, but still familiar with the series as a youth of the 1980s. However, as a result of seeking out some context, I had some realizations about the series. First off all, did y'all realize the series really began in the 40s/50s/60s? Well, I didn't. Also, I had no idea the original author died in 1979. My mind was all kinds of blown. Anyway, I thought the author of this new one did a good job of taking into account what the BC would and wouldn't have in present days. There was some technology interwoven, but it also stayed true to the group's original dynamics. 

Read this book if - You're looking to reconnect with the Boxcar Children. You're looking to get a kiddo in your life connected to the Boxcar Children.

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven is a YA read that's been on my to-read list for awhile. As I was travelling last week, I thought it was a good opportunity to check this one out. The story is about Libby who was formerly named "America's Fattest Teen" and Jack who has diagnosed prosopagnosia which is the inability to recognize faces, even of those he sees each days. With their issues, they have to navigate the world. For Libby, it's navigating space with who she was (including friendships) and who she is now. For Jack, it's knowing there's something wrong, but not sharing that with his family and friends. This one is all the teen angst, and I'm totally here for that. From the YA angle, it's totally bringing the emotions you hope a book like this will. The connection between Libby and Jack starts because of a high school dare gone wrong, and it gains such depth in both of their stories from there. 

Read this book if - You are someone who digs a good YA love-ish story. You're looking for something that covers the complications of being a teenager with added dimension and feels.

Friday, July 6, 2018

One Of These Books Is Not Like The Other

If you've been reading my reviews for awhile (or even a minute), you've probably noticed that there is no unifying theme to my quartets. However, this last round it was finally going to happen! Y'all, I was pumped. Then, I started the fourth book, and I didn't dig it. I gave it my standard fifty page try, and it just wasn't for me. So, instead you get three books that have some common threads and a thriller.

Dietland by Sarai Walker is a book I'd learned about via an ad campaign on Goodreads. It is now a series on AMC hence the "Hey, this is a book, too!" ad push. This one is such an interesting read. First of all, I have to say it's just straight up well-written. From it's first pages, I was captivated in a way that's hard to explain. The story revolves around Plum, a woman who ghostwrites advice for a teen magazine, who realizes early on in the story she's being followed by a mystery woman. Additionally, Plum is preparing for weight loss surgery which she believes will lead to the life and self-love she's always quested after. Along the way, Plum becomes connected with the Calliope House, an organization dedicated to helping women understand there are multiple ways to be beautiful. Plum revisits her lifetime experiences and struggles with herself through her connection with this group. Y'all, this one is a different kind of read, but in the best of ways.

Read this book if - You're planning on watching the TV series. You'd like a book that offers a unique story around the concept of body image and self-love. You want to read something that builds a story around a commonly discussed topic in a very different (in a good) way.

Good Luck With That by Kristan Higgins was also a book focused on the concepts of body image and self-love. It was an ARC I received awhile back, and I decided to take it on given it was in the same lane-ish as Dietland. This book took on a very complex topic as it focuses on three friends who met as teens as a weight loss camp. The story begins with the death of one of the women due to her extreme obesity. With her death, she leaves behind a list for her two friends they wrote at that camp of things they would do once they were skinny. Through the list, the story explores the messages these women have heard about their weight, the way weight impacts their relationships, and the way this has impacted how these women feel about themselves. There are some hard and aggravating messages and characters in this one, but they are there to explore the depth of the issue. I enjoyed and found an emotional connection, particularly with the love stories, with this one more than I anticipated as I went through these women's journeys.

Read this book if - You want a "chick lit" (I don't mean that in a rude way, I just needed to nail down a genre) read around body image. You're looking for a read that focuses on how relationships can impact our concepts of self. You want a read with characters that you'll emotionally connect with and root for throughout.

Rising Strong by Brene Brown was a book I picked up once I realized I was reading in a "type" for this round. If you've read/heard of Brene Brown, you know that vulnerability and authenticity are at the heart of her work. The main concept in this one was the idea of the "Sh*tty First Draft" meaning that we so often write the stories we think are happening without actually understanding all angles, especially the perspectives of others. We unintentionally often create hurt for ourselves instead of seeking clarity and truth. This one focuses on empowering readers to take a breath, evaluate the situation and act accordingly. This one was totally my jam and a good piece to remind me of how I can often be an author of many a SFD, and I need to watch that tendency for myself.

Read this book if - You are a fan of Brene Brown and haven't yet checked this one out. You want something to help you reflect on how you could better navigate your relationships and how you interpret what happens emotionally.

The Woman In The Window by AJ Faur was the thriller that hit that sweet spot just as I knew it would. This one is about Anna, a woman suffering from agoraphobia. One of the ways she passes her time is by being an observer of her the lives her neighbors lead. Fast forward down the road, and Anna sees something go down - or so she thinks. Her observations are called into question as is her whole reality. I will say that I figured out one of the twists in this one early on, but I think that's just because I read in the The Girl Who/Woman Who genre pretty regularly and know the formula. However, there were 2 -3 ADDITIONAL twists that I did not see coming at all, and that got that "WHAT?" gasp from me that make this a pageturner.

Read this book if - You want to check out the latest "like a Lifetime movie in a book" read. You have enjoyed The Woman/Girl Who thriller trend, and you want to check out the latest one that people are going to be talking about.