Bernard Cornwell’s The Last Kingdom (2004)

The Last Kingdom

Confession: When I was a child, I was pretty blasé about learning the Easter bunny and Santa weren’t real. I was more angry at feeling like I had been lied to than sad because I had had my suspicions for quite some time .

However, learning as a teenager that Vikings didn’t really wear horned helmets was extremely upsetting to me. As in, it motivated me to try to debunk this theory, only for me to realize that no self-respecting historian believes they wore these helmets.

fake Viking helmet

As someone who doesn’t often wear hats but loves historically-quirky headgear and also has a collection of strange historical hats (it’s a long story), I was inconsolable.

Helmets aside, I’ve always thought Vikings were fascinating.  I like reading and watching things about Vikings, but I also tend to procrastinate on watching them or reading them. For example, I own all seasons of the show The Vikings and still have never watched it. I think my hesitance is borne out of fear of being disappointed again about them. (I really cannot overemphasize how attached I was to those fake helmets as a child.)

However, I recently overcame my very neurotic complex about this issue and read Bernard Cornwell’s The Last Kingdom, which transports readers back to 9th century England, when England was not a united country and was at the mercy of the feared Vikings, who were descending on the country from their native Denmark. Fortunately, this book did not disappoint me.

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Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible

Eligible

Channeling my inner Jane Austen here: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a reader in possession of a retelling of a classic story has one of two reactions, joy at revisiting a tale that is both familiar and new or complete, unmitigated horror at the desecration of a favorite book.

Well, perhaps I exaggerate just a little, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that people tend to either really like contemporary updated versions of old favorites or the very idea is repellent to them. Personally, I like when a classic is effectively brought into a different time and place because I like spotting all of the allusions and seeing what the author changed and what he or she didn’t and pondering why. With all of that in mind,  I approached Curtis Sittenfeld’s latest book Eligible with a great deal of curiosity.

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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (2016)

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

HARRY POTTER IS BACK (just in case you haven’t heard! 🙂  For all who spent their eleventh birthday wondering where your Hogwarts acceptance letter was and have spent the last nine years wondering where Harry and company were now, the wait is over.  Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is now not just a play in London but a book/script you can read wherever you happen to be. (Even here in Berryville, Arkansas – visit our online library catalog to learn more and place a hold!)

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2016 Library Challenge: A Book A Friend Recommended

A Monster Calls

This coming Sunday is National Friendship Day, and I figured the best way to celebrate was by highlighting the library challenge of reading a book a friend recommended. One of my dear friends, Whitney, told me a few weeks ago that I really needed to read Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls. She also warned me that it deserved an honorary mention for books that will make you cry.  I’m so glad she suggested this book to me because it’s a wonderful read. (Thanks again for the great recommendation, Whitney!)

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Ask the Blogger: Enemy Women

Enemy Women

A couple of months ago at Books in Bloom, I was accepting suggestions for books/movies/topics to blog about, and I received a lot of intriguing suggestions. One of the recommendations was for Paulette Jiles’s Enemy Women. The woman who recommended it told me it was set during Civil War-era Missouri and that the author was a poet and her resulting writing style was lovely and evocative. We got so distracted discussing the book that I didn’t even think to ask her for her name until after she had left, but I recently read Enemy Women and really enjoyed it. (I really hope the lady who suggested it chimes in with a comment, so I can thank her properly. Until then, thanks so much for the great book recommendation!)

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Julie Powell’s Julie and Julia

Julie and Julia

One of the prompts for the 2016 Library Challenge is to read a memoir. To that end, I’m reviewing the book I read for this challenge—Julie Powell’s Julie and Julia, which chronicles Powell’s year-long project of cooking every single recipe in Julia Child’s classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking. My boss Julie recommended the book to me, and I’m glad she did. (Thanks, Julie!) I had vaguely heard of Powell’s project—due to the buzz surrounding the blog Powell initially recounted her culinary adventures on—and upon reading the book, I realized that several years ago, I actually had read and enjoyed an excerpt of her chapter on cooking (and murdering) lobsters.

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Ask the Blogger: The Storied Life of AJ Fikry

The Storied Life of AJ Fikry

A few months ago, the library’s book club read The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. Now, I am not a member of that book club, but I do always like seeing what they’re reading and discussing the books with coworkers who are members. I remember this one being particularly popular; in addition, a short time later, a patron who belonged to the book club–Callie–also recommended the book to me and suggested I review it for the blog. (Thanks, Callie!) I ended up enjoying it and think it would appeal to most people who love reading and books.

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