Monday, July 24, 2017

Mike the Gnome: Explorer and Whiskey Drinker

It's been awhile, dear readers!  I hope your summer is treating you well.  Mine has been a doozy with a crazy work schedule and a long-awaited journey.  As I'm sure you can deduct from the title of this here post, Mike, my ever adventurous traveling companion, joined me me on the journey.  We got several curious looks but even more smiles which makes lugging him around worth it.

The wonderful Becky Tilson at Tilson Travels put together a literary tour of Scotland and Ireland as a fundraiser for my library.  A portion of the travel fee goes back to the library, and the travelers get an experience of a lifetime.  Scotland and Ireland have been on my traveling bucket list forever, and I can't recommend visiting enough - especially Scotland.  I left my heart in the Highlands and have officially added hiking the West Highland Way to that very same bucket list.

I won't bore you with all of my 300+ pictures, but I thought I'd share a few of my favorites with Mike (several of which sent me into a fit of giggles because the little guy is just so darn cute.)

 Mike in Edinburgh, Scotland and Edinburgh Castle.

Mike visiting Abbotsford, the home of Sir Walter Scott.

 Mike hanging out at the Queen's home - Balmoral Castle

Mike taste-testing Scottish whiskey...and over-indulging.

 Mike visits the Clava Cairn - prehistoric tombs blanketed in myth and lore.  (He might or might not be trying to go through the stone to find Jamie Fraser).

Mike takes a ride on the Jacobite steam train from Fort William to Mallaig.

 Mike explores Kilekenny Castle...and photo bombs some familiar selfie takers.

 Mike falls in love with Desmond Castle in Adare, Ireland.

Mike finds his courage on the edge of the world at the Cliffs of Moher.

We're already planning our next adventure together.  Mike has his sights on the Mediterranean and a trip to Greece and Italy, but I suppose we'll just have to see where the winds take us.  Where do you think Mike should travel next?

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Top 10 Books I've Read In 2017 So Far

This has been a strange reading year for me so far.  I think it's fair to say that even books I liked, I didn't really like.  So many of them were hard, and heartbreaking, and frustrating.  I honestly don't think I've ever read so much back-to-back realistic, contemporary fiction as I have this year.  It has made me kind of moody :)  My escape activity hasn't felt like an escape, yet I'm drawn to these stories and the lives of these characters.  But I'm totally going to try to read more fantasy/science fiction  the second half of the year.

What have been your 2017 favorites so far?

The Last Time We Say Goodbye
1) The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand
"And I loved this book.  It was thoughtful, sincere, and genuine in its depiction of loss and regret."

 Goodbye Days
2 & 3) The Serpent King and Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner
"This one surprise me.  It was dark, and ugly, and gritty, but at the same time there was a beauty to it."

The Hate U Give

4) The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

"Thomas gets it right with a diverse cast of characters that you come to care about and a story that is difficult to read while remaining genuine."

The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn, #1)
5) The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
"There are a lot of plot elements happening at once, and yet [Ahdieh] manages to weave them together seamlessly."

 I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent, #1)
6 & 7) Bang and the I Hunt Killers Trilogy by Barry Lyga
"Lyga's characters are complicated, multi-faceted, and genuine, pulling you into the story and their lives."

8) Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
"Crouch explores concepts of destiny, fate, and regret.  If he had it to do over gain, would Jason choose the life with his family over the life where he discovered a scientific breakthrough, a breakthrough that could change the course of history?"

9) Defy the Stars by Claudia Gray

City of Saints & Thieves
10) City of Saints & Thieves by Natalie C. Anderson
"Anderson impressed me.  She wrote a sophisticated thriller led by teenagers in a country plagued by instability and violence.  And within all of that she has created characters that you come to care and worry about."

Monday, June 26, 2017

Library GrabBag: #GPLtalk Episodes 16 & 18

We've been having a lot of fun discussing very unique books on the #GPLtalk podcast.  Overall, the consensus has been relatively positive on the selections, but one or two of us might have developed strong feelings about a few of the titles.  If you're looking for something "different" to read, check out our conversations on Hag Seed by Margaret Atwood and The Comet Seekers by Helen Sedgwick.

Our July selection is The Valiant by Leslie Livingston.  Any suggestions on wha we should read this fall?
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