An Oddity of Book Reviews

As a newbie book blogger back in the day, I strove to review every blasted book I read. Inevitably, the un-reviewed books would pile up and I would hit blogger’s block. I’d worry about missing a review or falling behind or decide to hastily write a boring review and then I would quit blogging until I got over myself and my self-invented crisis that is so not a crisis at all.

So, with that preamble, let me offer you some reviews-in-brief of books I’ve read, but haven’t “properly” reviewed. These are not “proper” reviews.

Murder at Mansfield Park by Lynn Shepardmurder

Several years ago I read a Bleak House themed mystery novel by Lynn Shepard called The Solitary House. I absolutely loved that book and I learned that it is the second book in a series of literary mysteries. The first book is Murder at Mansfield Park and I finally got around to reading it.

Have you ever read Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park? Nope? Well, I did about fifteen years ago in an undergraduate course. The “heroine” of Mansfield Park is Fanny Price and she is a saintly, insipid moron. Murder at Mansfield Park takes Austen’s tale and flips it a bit and the result is a darn good mystery. The ending was slightly weak, but that is only because it was poorly attempting an Austen ending. I was hooked by the writing and characters and it was a fun read.

The Go-Between by L.P. Hartleythe-go-between_2048x2048

I have tried to read Ian McEwan’s Atonement several times and I just couldn’t do it. The book has this noticeable build towards A BAD THING and it is unnerving and slow and I didn’t give a shit about the characters and, therefore, couldn’t make it through the book. The Go-Between has a slow build to A BAD THING, but it is unnerving and slow and I cared very much for several of the characters. The plot, pace, and characters are expertly balanced and made me feel almost a participant in the AWFUL THING.

I don’t want to spoil the plot for you, so I’ll only divulge what the book jacket shares. A young man, Leo, spends the summer with a much wealthier schoolmate. Leo ends up ferrying notes between his friend’s sister and her lover. It doesn’t end well. I really loved this book and I couldn’t read it fast enough.

The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremaingus

Holy Jeez, why have I never read Rose Tremain until now?! This book is beautiful, bleak, and is also about how, unfortunately, adults are human and flawed and eff up on the reg. Gustav is a lower-class, kind-hearted boy who befriends a wealthy Jewish boy, Anton, in post-WWII Switzerland. Gustav’s mother is an emotional wreck who has some secrets and harbors anti-Jew sentiments. This book traces Anton and Gustav’s friendship and relationships with their respective families. I was really sucked into this book and would emerge after several hours of reading blinking in wonder that I was not in Switzerland and watching Gustav and Anton first hand. Rose Tremain is certainly on my list of authors to read again.

Now, onto more books and (maybe) more reviews in the future!

*Cardigan Mafia: Library Life

“You work in a library? How wonderful! You get to read all day and enjoy the quiet!”

“You’re going to GRADUATE school to be a librarian? Why?!”
The above quotations I hear regularly and it can be difficult to explain to someone in 15 seconds what library science embodies. I’m going to try to use this space to explain library work as best I can.

I have worked in an academic library for almost 13 years and over a week ago I finished my first semester of study for my Master in Library and Information Science. Throughout my time in library land, I’ve realized that stereotypes work against those of us in libraries; no one knows what the hellfire we do. The public imagines lots of shushing and shelving and I’m sure people realize the big picture things like literacy, access to books, programming, etc…. But what do we actually DO all day?


I thought I’d periodically share what’s going on at my workplace and what I’m working on and talk about my studies. Keep in mind that there are many different types of libraries and even more variety in job descriptions. I’m describing my work and studies focusing primarily on academic (that means in a university) libraries.


At work: This week is all about catching up from last week. Last week we had several big meetings about strategic planning, scheduling, and other library issues and I hosted a pop-up library at faculty retreat. I loaded the mini-van up with 75 books from our new books area and toted them to the location of our faculty retreat. I handed out door prizes, recommended books, and distributed surveys to gauge faculty information and service needs.


While doing pop-up library I got backlogged on everything else. This week I am handling all of our interlibrary requests for research, brainstorming new classroom space, drafting a new job description, filling out reference forms for former student employees, participating in a university-wide training, and reviewing some policy documents for our state library association.


At school: Over the spring semester I took two courses, Foundations of Library and Information Science and Management of Libraries and Information Centers. In addition to gobs of readings and discussion posts, I worked on several lengthy projects. In Foundations I completed a job ad analysis project, a group project on library ethics, and a literature review on using Twitter to promote library services in an academic library. In my management class I wrote several case studies, worked on a group strategic plan for an academic library, and did a management consultancy project working with the county public library on outreach to Latinx immigrants.


My new courses start tomorrow. I’m taking Information Sources and Services, which will focus on reference and research. This class will last 11 weeks and runs from tomorrow until the end of July. My other course, Rare Book Librarianship, begins in early June and will end in late July. Both summer courses have 16 weeks worth of material compressed into shorter class lengths. To say I’m nervous about getting everything done is an understatement!
*the term “cardigan mafia” is shamelessly stolen from Thomas at Hogglestock.

Readerly Rambles: 5/7/2017

4What I Read: Last week we had a fair amount of rain. I took some time after work and before kid pick-up to drink a large coffee, listen to the rain, and inhale Rose Tremain’s The Gustav Sonata. It was beautiful with richly drawn characters and quite bleak. I seem to be hitting on books this year with the theme of Adults are Often Not Much More Mature Than Children and Eff Up on the Regular. A proper review is still percolating.

What I’m Reading: I’ve been hankering for a large, but not too large, Victorian re-read. I haven’t spent time with Charles Dickens in a bit and I decided it was time to revisit Great Expectations.

What’s up Next: My first summer course begins on Thursday and I know it will slow my reading down. Dang. If I am able to pick up another book towards the end of the week, then it will probably be Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. This novel is a favorite and it will be another re-read. I find that the mood to re-read hits me in the spring and summer months. We’ll see how quickly I’m able to read through that chunkster!

Happy Reading!


Readathon Reviews

I fell into a post-readathon, post-school semester abyss. I don’t know what happened. I wanted to share a few thoughts on what I read during last Saturday’s Readathon and these reviews are embarrassingly brief. Oh well.

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Loving by Henry Green

I picked up this NYRB modern classic for my Classics Club Spin book. Loving was everything I hoped Downton Abbey would be and wasn’t and it was also like a more readable and likable Ivy Compton-Burnett novel. It was an upstairs-downstairs tale, with more downstairs than upstairs, and it was mostly all dialogue, but written in a way that enabled me to understand who the heck was talking.

The book begins with the death of an elderly butler and the unexpected promotion of Raunce, the head footman, to his place and that starts a series of life-changing events for everyone involved. This was a quick and satisfying read.

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Margaret the First: A Novel by Danielle Dutton

I have a pet peeve; I cannot stand it when book reviews say that a book is “luminous.” What does that mean exactly? Now I know. I read this book and the first word that popped into my head was luminous.

This slim historical novel about Margaret Cavendish is written beautifully, fully fleshes out the Duchess of Newcastle’s life and milieu, and is unabashedly feminist. All in under 175 pages! As I was reading the writing and Margaret’s tone reminded me of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando; I was pleased to read in the author’s note that Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own and other writings inspired Dutton to write about Margaret Cavendish.

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Mortal Trash by Kim Addonizio

Poetry is like other forms of art, like, for example, painting. I can appreciate the mastery of a painting and still feel that it isn’t to my tastes. In short, I didn’t enjoy this collection as much as I had hoped. A third of the poems intrigued me, a third I can barely remember, and a third grated on my nerves for whatever reason. Addonizio is an excellent poet and has contributed much to the profession, but the poetry she writes is not my jam. I’m a more lyrical appreciating type poet.

Image result for bookshop penelope fitzgerald

The Bookshop: A Novel by Penelope Fitzgerald

A re-read! Florence Green is a widow and has decided to poem a bookshop in her small town. The bookshop is haunted, a snobby woman in the town seeks to destroy her venture, and work continues to increase for Florence. This book reminded me of Barbara Pym, but the ending is definitely more of an Anita Brookner ending.

Did you participate in readathon? Let me know in the comments!

#Readathon Wrap-up!


Whelp! That’s a wrap on this Readathon!

End of Readathon Survey:

1. Which hour was most daunting for you? In the afternoon I hit a lull and kept dozing. A fancy coffee drink did the trick and woke me up!
2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a reader engaged for next year? Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton. Under 100 pages, BEAUTIFUL, and engaging.
3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next season? Keep on rocking. If the website makes the wonderful Andi and Heather insane then ditch it and just do social media. I want Andi and Heather to read and have fun too!
4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? I think not worrying about too much and focusing on reading and Instagram worked best for me.
5. How many books did you read? 4!
6. What were the names of the books you read? Loving by Henry Green, Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton, The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald, and Mortal Trash by Kim Addonizio.
7. Which book did you enjoy most? Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton!
8. Which did you enjoy least? Mortal Trash by Kim Addonizio
9. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? ummm…. DUH! I love readathon. I will certainly host a mini-challenge and maybe volunteer for more day of activities.


#Readathon: Opening Meme

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1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today? Georgia!
2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to? I’m really looking forward to Margaret the First by Danielle Dutton
3) Which snack are you most looking forward to? HALO TOP and coffee… lots of coffee
4) Tell us a little something about yourself!  I’m hosting an Instagram challenge for readathon! Join us!
5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to? I participated last year and I think I hit my stride. I know I wont read for the full 24 hours. My goal is to hit 6 to 8 hours of solid reading and then I feel pretty durn successful.

I’ll be blogging at the mid-point of Readathon, but you can mostly find me on Instagram and Twitter. That’s where I like to hang during readathon.

24 Hour Readathon Instagram Challenge


Who: I’ll be hosting this IG challenge from my Instagram account.

What: See the readathon themed pictures in the image above. Not gonna lie, it seems real self-explanatory. You can interpret the prompts HOWEVER YOU CHOOSE. For example, “Room” could be a pic of Emma Donoghue’s book of the same title, or the room you’re reading in, or your dog hogging all the room on the couch, or your coffee with room for cream, or an audio book of Room with a View, etc…. Have fun with it!

When: During Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon on Saturday, April 29th. You have from the start of Readathon to the bitter end to complete this challenge. Earlier and later photos will not count because (duh) then it wouldn’t be a readathon challenge.

Where: On Instagram. And, yes, this is an IG only challenge. #sorrynotsorry

How: There is a theme for each hour of the Readathon. Your mission is to snap a picture for Instagram and tag it with #IGReadathon and #FigThistleBooks. I’ll be honest, I’m not really going to check time stamps to make sure you are taking the correct picture at the correct time. Think of it more as “guidelines” and have fun. Each IG account is limited to 24 pictures each for the contest. And if you spam me I will hunt you down and personally dog-ear all of your books… even the ones from the library. 

Winning: At the end of readathon, and after I have rested my weary eyes, I will compile a list of the eligible photos and use a random number generator to pick a winner. I’ll share the winning photo on my IG and tag you in it. You’ll have 24 hours to DM me your address and which book you want from Book Depository ($15 value or less).

Fine Print: If you spam me, or act like a weirdo and cheat for a cheap book, or are generally annoying or grumpy, then I am within my rights to pick a different winner.