Friday, 19 July 2019

We Have Always Been Here


Author: Samra Habib
Genre: Memoir, Canadian, LGBTQ
Type: Paperback
Pages: 240
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Viking Books
First Published: June 4, 2019
Opening Lines: "We both have shaved heads. Although the reason for mine was that a week earlier my barber had discovered head lice before giving me my monthly bowl cut, I suspect her reason was more exciting."

Book Description from GoodReads: How do you find yourself when the world tells you that you don't exist?

Samra Habib has spent most of her life searching for the safety to be herself. As an Ahmadi Muslim growing up in Pakistan, she faced regular threats from Islamic extremists who believed the small, dynamic sect to be blasphemous. From her parents, she internalized the lesson that revealing her identity could put her in grave danger.

When her family came to Canada as refugees, Samra encountered a whole new host of challenges: bullies, racism, the threat of poverty, and an arranged marriage. Backed into a corner, her need for a safe space--in which to grow and nurture her creative, feminist spirit--became dire. The men in her life wanted to police her, the women in her life had only shown her the example of pious obedience, and her body was a problem to be solved.
So begins an exploration of faith, art, love, and queer sexuality, a journey that takes her to the far reaches of the globe to uncover a truth that was within her all along. A triumphant memoir of forgiveness and family, both chosen and not, We Have Always Been Here is a rallying cry for anyone who has ever felt out of place and a testament to the power of fearlessly inhabiting one's truest self.

My Rating: 4.5 stars


My Review: This is an honest and revealing coming-of-age memoir of a queer Muslim woman's struggle with identity, faith and family. Beginning with her childhood as a young Ahmadi Muslim in Pakistan and continuing into her adult life as a successful photojournalist in Toronto, Habib describes how her experiences, beliefs and relationships shaped the woman she has become.

After her family moves to Canada to flee religious persecution, she struggles to claim her identity as a strong and successful artist/journalist/activist, daughter and queer Muslim woman who wants to be recognized by her faith and society at large. Habib shines a light on Pakistani culture, Muslim faith and Canada's 'multiculturalism' that has given Canadians a false sense of inclusion while continuing to marginalize groups of people by promoting our passivity for queer rights, particularly LGBTQ people of colour.


"Sometimes Canadians live in a bubble, seduced by the illusion of equality. Many didn't see the need for a project highlighting the struggles of queer Muslims because they were under the impression that things were great for all LGBTQ people in the country. "

"When I launched my photo project, someone actually asked me if there was even a need for it, because "things are so great in Canada for queers. What's left to fight for?"

I found this to be a compelling page-turner that is a good pick for the LGBTQ community, their allies and especially those who may need more enlightening. While I enjoyed Habib's voice and found it to be a well-written book, I have one wee criticism -- I would have liked more page time focused on her life as she began to embrace her queer identity. This aspect felt a bit rushed.

This book will promote good discussion, making it a clear choice for book clubs. By sharing her story as a queer Muslim woman who loves her faith and wants to be her authentic self, Habib has opened a dialogue that will hopefully validate those who have similar struggles and encourage those of us without similar experiences to sympathize with people who continue to feel unseen and underrepresented in our society.

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Viking Books for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

Summer of '69


Author: Elin Hilderbrand
Genre: Historical Fiction, Women's Fiction
Type: Trade Paperback
Pages: 432
Source: Local Public Library
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
First Published: June 18, 2019
Opening Lines: "When the Selective Service notice comes for Tiger, Kate's first instinct is to throw it away. Surely this is every American mother's first instinct?"

Book Description from GoodReadsWelcome to the most tumultuous summer of the twentieth century! It's 1969, and for the Levin family, the times they are a-changing. Every year the children have looked forward to spending the summer at their grandmother's historic home in downtown Nantucket: but this year Blair, the oldest sister, is marooned in Boston, pregnant with twins and unable to travel. Middle sister Kirby, a nursing student, is caught up in the thrilling vortex of civil rights protests, a passion which takes her to Martha's Vineyard with her best friend, Mary Jo Kopechne. Only son Tiger is an infantry soldier, recently deployed to Vietnam. Thirteen-year-old Jessie suddenly feels like an only child, marooned in the house with her out-of-touch grandmother who is hiding some secrets of her own. As the summer heats up, Teddy Kennedy sinks a car in Chappaquiddick, a man flies to the moon, and Jessie experiences some sinking and flying herself, as she grows into her own body and mind.

In her first "historical novel," rich with the details of an era that shaped both a country and an island thirty miles out to sea, Elin Hilderbrand once again proves her title as queen of the summer novel.


My Rating: 3 stars

My Review: In this latest book, Elin Hilderbrand takes her readers back to the summer of 1969 and incorporates vivid descriptions of the era's music and the atmosphere of Nantucket Island as the story follows one family through a tumultuous summer.

Through the POVs of the Levin/Foley family, Hilderbrand includes many events and issues that influenced the era -- Vietnam warm, Woodstock, women's rights, racism, man's first walk on the moon, anti-Semitism etc. But while these issues were pertinent to the era, most are introduced without much detail or follow through, with some merely being mentioned in passing. The story began to feel contrived as issues felt like they were shoehorned into the lives of this one family in order to get all the important historical dates of the era mentioned. 


Overall, I thought this was a good, light, escapist summer read filled with complicated family dynamics set within the backdrop rich in political unrest, war and civil uncertainty. While it was a lighter read that felt more family drama than Historical Fiction, I enjoyed picturing what life was like on Nantucket during that summer and humming along to the popular music as it was mentioned throughout the story. Fans who enjoy lighter reads with a satisfying, if predictable, ending will enjoy this summer read.

Friday, 12 July 2019

Open Season


Author: C.J Box
Genre: Suspense
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 278
Publisher: Putnam
First Published: 2001
Series: #1 in the Joe Pickett series
Opening Lines: "When a high-powered rifle bullet hits living flesh it makes a distinctive - pow-WHOP - sound that is unmistakable even at tremendous distance."

Book Description from GoodReadsJoe Pickett is the new game warden in Twelve Sleep, Wyoming, a town where nearly everyone hunts, and the game warden--especially one like Joe who won't take bribes or look the other way--is far from popular. When he finds a local hunting outfitter dead, splayed out on the woodpile behind his state-owned home, he takes it personally. There had to be a reason that the outfitter, with whom he's had run-ins before, chose his backyard, his woodpile to die in. Even after the "outfitter murders," as they have been dubbed by the local press after the discovery of the two more bodies, are solved, Joe continues to investigate, uneasy with the easy explanation offered by the local police.

As Joe digs deeper into the murders, he soon discovers that the outfitter brought more than death to his backdoor: he brought Joe an endangered species, thought to be extinct, which is now living in his woodpile. But if word of the existence of this endangered species gets out, it will destroy any chance of InterWest, a multi-national natural gas company, building an oil pipeline that would bring the company billions of dollars across Wyoming, through the mountains and forests of Twelve Sleep. The closer Joe comes to the truth behind the outfitter murders, the endangered species and InterWest, the closer he comes to losing everything he holds dear.


My Rating: 3.5 stars

My Review: Initially, the Joe Pickett series reminded me of the popular Longmire book and TV series and, if I'm being honest, a 'cowboy mystery' isn't a genre that's high on my TBR list. But after several recommendations from library patrons and my library manager (who has very similar reading tastes to my own), I got over my initial reservations and picked up the first book in this popular series. What do they say about assumptions again?

The series focuses on Wyoming Game Warden Joe Pickett. He's not what you'd typically expect for a main character in a mystery series. He has an interesting job, but the remote setting does lead one to wonder just how many murders can occur in the Wyoming backwoods for him to solve. With 19 books currently in this popular series, apparently Wyoming is rife with scandal and muuurder! Delightful!


This was a quick, easy and enjoyable read. Joe Pickett is a man with flaws, a cute family and a career that brings unique challenges. I found myself becoming invested in his personal and professional lives as well as the murder mystery which is set in the beautiful Wyoming wilderness and has quite the exciting, edge-of-your-seat build-up.

This was a strong start to a new-to-me series, and while I figured out the culprit fairly easily, overall it was a strong enough mystery that I already have the second book in the series, Savage Run, on hold at the library.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Spicy Asian Tofu Bowls


This is a recipe that I've been holding on to for quite awhile. Not to be stingy and hoard a good recipe for m'self (who does that?!) but because A) recipe posts take a looong time to prepare and write and B) while I've made it a couple of times over the past couple of months, I'd be so eager to eat it that I didn't stop to think about getting pictures. The tummy wants what the tummy wants but no pic, no post.

A few weeks ago, I was
reminded at a book event about this recipe by a local bookish buddy (Thanks Jess!). I knew I had to get off my duff and get my head out of a book long enough to post this recipe (miracles do happen). 

So, last night I made it again but instead of pan frying the tofu I decided to bake it based on a website's tip and …. it was a disaster (the texture and taste was similar to eating drywall). It looks good in the picture I've posted but texture-wise it was all kinds of nasty therefore, the recipe below has my pan-fried tofu which will be my go-to method until the end of time. 

This teriyaki-esque meatless, veggie-filled main dish is one of my favourite ways to eat tofu. Even my less-than-eager-tofu-eater husband enjoyed this dish.

Spicy Asian Tofu Bowls
Yield: 3 servings


1/2 package of extra-firm tofu (see notes)
1/3 cup Hoisin sauce
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp fresh ginger
3 tbsp. soya sauce
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp grapeseed oil (or your preferred oil)
2 cups broccoli florets - cut small and partially cooked
1/2 cup red pepper - cut into thin strips
1 tsp sesame oil 

Serve with
Hot, cooked rice
Green onions, chopped
Sesame seeds

Prepare entire package of tofu:
** Please note: The optional part of this prep (see below) takes several hours to complete **
Remove tofu from package and drain liquid. Cut the tofu in half lengthwise, then cut each half in half again so you have four squares of tofu. Set tofu pieces side by side on top of a tea towel. Drape the tea towel over the tofu so the tofu is covered on both sides by the cloth. Set a heavy pan (I used a couple of my Pampered Chef baking stones) on the tofu for at least 20 minutes. At this point you may want to move the tofu to a drier spot on the towel and squish it again to get out the moisture. The more moisture you get out of it, the more of the delicious marinade it will absorb when it cooks.

Optional Prep We prefer our tofu with a denser texture (similar to chicken) so at this point, I cut each square of tofu into four strips, put them into a medium freezer bag, suck out any air and freeze for at least several hours. The freezing of the tofu turns it magically into a denser texture which we prefer for dishes like this.  Plus, with tofu prepped in your freezer, you'll always have tofu on hand for those last minute dinners!

Preparing the Spicy Asian Tofu:
Remove one-half of a block of tofu from the freezer (you can use it all if you want, we just used half for the two of us). Allow the tofu to thaw (I've put it in the microwave and defrosted it on bread setting for about 30 seconds).  Put tofu on paper towels (or a tea towel) and cover with a heavy dish to squeeze out any moisture while you make the sauce.

Prepare the sauce -- In a medium bowl, combine the Hoisin sauce, garlic, ginger, soya sauce, red pepper flakes and brown sugar. Mix well and set aside.

Cut tofu into bite-sized pieces and place into the marinade, making sure each piece is under the marinade. Marinate for 30 minutes, turning a couple of times to make sure all sides are marinated.

Make your rice.

H
eat a large skillet over medium heat. Add grapeseed oil. Once the oil is sparkling, add tofu (keeping the marinade on stand-by! Don't throw it out!) and cook each side until nicely browned. When the tofu is almost done, add red peppers and partially cooked broccoli florets (I like to steam them for a couple of minutes), sautéing until the florets are el dente. Pour in marinade and toss to coat the tofu and broccoli mixture well. Drizzle sesame oil over top and toss again.



Serve over hot rice and sprinkle with chopped green onions and sesame seeds, if desired.

Monday, 8 July 2019

The Hideaway


Author: Nicole Lundrigan
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Canadian
Type: Trade Paperback
Pages: 320
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Viking Books
First Published: July 9, 2019
Opening Lines: "I could tell by her face.  She knew what I'd done."

Book Description from GoodReadsGloria Janes appears to be a doting suburban mother and loving wife. But beyond her canary-yellow door, Gloria controls her husband, Telly, as well as seven-year-old Maisy and her older brother Rowan, through a disorienting cycle of adoration and banishment.

When Telly leaves, Gloria turns on Rowan. He runs away, finding unlikely refuge with a homeless man named Carl, with whom he forms the kind of bond he has never found with his parents. After they are menaced by strangers, Rowan follows Carl to an isolated cottage, where he accidentally sets off a burst of heightened paranoia in Carl, and their adventure takes a dark turn.

Gloria is publicly desperate for the safe return of her son while privately plotting ever wilder ways to lure Telly home for good. Her behaviour grows more erratic and her manipulation of Maisy begins to seem dedicated toward an outcome that only she can see. The two storylines drive relentlessly toward a climax that is both shocking and emotionally riveting.

Suspenseful, unsettling, and masterful, Hideaway explores the secrets of a troubled family and illuminates an unlikely hero and a source of unexpected strength.


My Rating: 3.5 stars

My Review: To say that I enjoyed this book makes me feel a little yucky because its subject matter isn't for the faint of heart - a dysfunctional family that is impacted by mental health issues and the abuse and neglect of two children at the hands of their parents.

Lundrigan, a new-to-me Canadian author, depicts a family in turmoil and takes her readers behind a mother's façade of pasted on smiles and kind words to neighbours and into their real family life. The Janes family is rife with dysfunctional relationships with mom Gloria's destructive and paranoid actions consistently manipulate events to suit her own self-absorbed desires and father Telly runs away to put his head in the sand. To the two children, Maisy and Rowan, this is the only family life they've ever known so they've learned to live in constant turmoil, hopelessness and, sadly, acceptance of the abuse, neglect and erratic behaviour of their parents. That is the saddest part of this book for this mom of three.

The Hideaway is a suspenseful and disturbing story that goes much darker than I'm typically feel comfortable reading. But I appreciate that Lundrigan doesn't hold back as she describes the sometimes obsessive, dark side of 'love' and the repercussions of undiagnosed mental health issues.

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Viking Books for sending me a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

If You Want To Make God Laugh



Author: Bianca Marais
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Canadian
Type: Trade Paperback
Pages: 423
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Putnam
First Published: July 16, 2019
Opening Lines: A thread of smoke snakes up into the cloudless sky and severs as Zodwa's compass needle. S She trails it until the sandy path dips suddenly, revealing a squat hut nestled in the grassland below."

Book Description from GoodReads: From the author of the beloved Hum if You Don't Know the Words comes a rich, unforgettable story of three unique women in post-Apartheid South Africa who are brought together in their darkest time, and discover the ways that love can transcend the strictest of boundaries.

In a squatter camp on the outskirts of Johannesburg, seventeen-year-old Zodwa lives in desperate poverty, under the shadowy threat of a civil war and a growing AIDS epidemic. Eight months pregnant, Zodwa carefully guards secrets that jeopardize her life.

Across the country, wealthy socialite Ruth appears to have everything her heart desires, but it's what she can't have that leads to her breakdown. Meanwhile, in Zaire, a disgraced former nun, Delilah, grapples with a past that refuses to stay buried. When these personal crises send both middle-aged women back to their rural hometown to lick their wounds, the discovery of an abandoned newborn baby upends everything, challenging their lifelong beliefs about race, motherhood, and the power of the past.

As the mystery surrounding the infant grows, the complicated lives of Zodwa, Ruth, and Delilah become inextricably linked. What follows is a mesmerizing look at family and identity that asks: How far will the human heart go to protect itself and the ones it loves?

My Rating: 5 stars


My Review: I love it when an author comes along and unexpectedly blows my socks off. In 2017, Bianca Marais left me utterly sockless after I read her debut novel, Hum If You Don't Know The Words. It was a beautifully written story that tackled big topics with compelling characters, heart and compassion.

So, you can imagine how excited I was when I heard Marais had a new book coming out (Hint: I looost it!). So, did I love it just as much as Hum? Let's just say that Marais need not fear the dreaded 'sophomore blues'. If You Want To Make God Laugh is an engaging story with vivid characters but it also has a personal connection to the author who draws from her own experiences when she volunteered with HIV-infected children in her native country of South Africa. Her experiences bring a depth, authenticity and emotion to her writing as she describes life in 1990's South Africa as Apartheid is ending and the AIDS epidemic is taking hold.

Marais doesn't shy away from big issues such as the stigma of HIV, racism, homophobia, religious corruption and abuse of power. She sets these issues within a compelling and touching story that follows the lives of three women (and one little boy) as they find strength in each other during a time of much suffering, rampant bigotry and ignorance.

This is a well-written, impactful and powerful story that focuses on the resiliency and tenacity of women from different backgrounds as South Africa's experiences its turbulent transition to democracy.

Bianca Marais has officially been added to my list of 'must read' authors.

Disclaimer: My sincere thanks to Putnam Books for providing me with a complimentary copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.


Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Recursion


Author: Blake Crouch
Genre: Science Fiction, Suspense
Type: e-book
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Crown Publishing
First Published: June 11, 2019
Opening Lines: "Barry Sutton pulls over into the fire lane at the main entrance of the Poe Building, an Art Deco tower glowing white in the illumination of its exterior sconces.  He clims out of his Crown Vic, rishes across the sidewalk, and pushes through the revolving door into the lobby."

Book Description from GoodReadsMemory makes reality. 

That’s what New York City cop Barry Sutton is learning as he investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome—a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived.

Neuroscientist Helena Smith already understands the power of memory. It’s why she’s dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious moments of our pasts. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent. 

As Barry searches for the truth, he comes face-to-face with an opponent more terrifying than any disease—a force that attacks not just our minds but the very fabric of the past. And as its effects begin to unmake the world as we know it, only he and Helena, working together, will stand a chance at defeating it.

But how can they make a stand when reality itself is shifting and crumbling all around them?


My Rating: 3 stars

My Review: I read and loved Crouch's previous book, Dark Matter back in 2016. It was a non-stop, twisty thrill ride that taught me to put my trust in this author and allow him to unfold his story for me. Not an easy thing to do but as the plot rolled along the science-y details began to make sense and I loved the ride!

Recursion also has an imaginative plot and provides readers with lots of food for thought in terms of scientific ethics and the role of memory in our lives. The first half of the book hits readers with an exciting, complex plot and two interesting main characters in Barry and Helena. But it's the second half of the book where things got dicey for me.

By the midway point, the plot was confusing as the focus became less on the characters and more on the increasingly convoluted fake versus real memories and the chaotic multiple time shifts. This time shifting became repetitive which left me frustrated and eager to skim the last quarter of the book.

While I didn't love this book as much as I had hoped, I remain a Crouch fan. He is a highly imaginative author and I appreciate that he takes on ambitious, mind-bending plots but I feel that Recursion is a better pick for avid Sci-Fi fans. 

Disclaimer:  My sincere thanks to Crown Publishing for providing me with a complimentary digital copy, via NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Erotic Stories fo Punjabi Widows


Author: Balli Kaur Jaswal
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 304
Source: Local Public Library
Publisher: William Morrow
First Published: June 13, 2017
Opening Lines: "Why did Mindi want an arranged marriage?"

Book Description from GoodReadsA lively, sexy, and thought-provoking East-meets-West story about community, friendship, and women’s lives at all ages—a spicy and alluring mix of Together Tea and Calendar Girls.

Every woman has a secret life . . .

Nikki lives in cosmopolitan West London, where she tends bar at the local pub. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she’s spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent (that is, Western) life. When her father’s death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki, a law school dropout, impulsively takes a job teaching a "creative writing" course at the community center in the beating heart of London’s close-knit Punjabi community.

Because of a miscommunication, the proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn basic English literacy, not the art of short-story writing. When one of the widows finds a book of sexy stories in English and shares it with the class, Nikki realizes that beneath their white dupattas, her students have a wealth of fantasies and memories. Eager to liberate these modest women, she teaches them how to express their untold stories, unleashing creativity of the most unexpected—and exciting—kind.

As more women are drawn to the class, Nikki warns her students to keep their work secret from the Brotherhood, a group of highly conservative young men who have appointed themselves the community’s "moral police." But when the widows’ gossip offers shocking insights into the death of a young wife—a modern woman like Nikki—and some of the class erotica is shared among friends, it sparks a scandal that threatens them all.


My Rating: 3 stars

My Review: I admit that I was swayed into picking up this book based on the title. But when I realized the humorous and sassy scenes were paired with a plot that includes the stories of women within Indian culture and some mystery, my interest was piqued.

I liked that the story focuses on Indian culture and older women embracing their sexuality as well as questioning why they're restricted and defined by societal rules.

But ...

the execution of these interesting ideas was weak. The story lacked depth in its characters and the issues raised (I was frustrated at the almost non-existent Brotherhood story line) and its weak dialogue didn't help matters.

Overall, this was just an okay read. I think Sonja Lalli's The Matchmaker's List hit on similar themes but with more depth and personality. With better fleshed out characters, more focus on the interesting issues raised and a less predictable plot, this book would have garnered a higher rating from me.


Thursday, 27 June 2019

Lock Every Door


Author: Riley Sager
Genre: Suspense
Type: e-book
Source: NetGalley
Publisher: Dutton
First Published: July 2, 2019
Opening Lines: "Light slices the darkness, jerking me awake. My right eye - someone's prying it open. Latex-gloved fingers part the lids yanking on them like they're stubborn window shades."

Book Description from GoodReadsNo visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen's new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan's most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story . . . until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid's disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew's dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building's hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.


My Rating: 4 stars

My Review: Riley Sager, he of Final Girls and The Last Time I Lied fame, is back with another suspenseful read just in time for summer. The plot of Lock Every Door is chilling, the setting unique (who doesn't love an old NYC building complete with its own secrets and gargoyles?) and it's a story that will keep readers turning the pages.

There is a delightful, pervasive feeling of menace that lingers over the story of a young woman who is offered an opportunity that seems too good to be true. Included in this increasingly creepy story are an array of unique characters, each with their own secrets and sometimes sketchy pasts, that avid suspense readers will enjoy. 

While this was a page-turner for me, I found the ending not as impressive as the journey to it (some aspects were just a little too 'out there' to be believable for me). But the fact that I still found this to be a compulsive read leaves Lock Every Door firmly in the 'very good' suspense category. While Sager touches on some bigger issues (isolation, social class …), the focus of this novel is firmly on suspense and creating a sinister vibe which it does very well.  

Disclaimer:  My sincere thanks to Dutton Books for my complimentary digital copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.


Wednesday, 26 June 2019

I Work in a Public Library: A Collection of Crazy Stories From The Stacks


Author: Gina Sheridan
Genre: Non-Fiction
Type: Paperback
Pages: 160
Source: Local Public Library
Publisher: Adams Media
First Published: July 2014
Opening Lines: "A Cold War spy in desperate search of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Cuckoo Carol dumpster diving for cans ... again, and the ineveitable fact that one day, somewhere, human excrement will end up on the floor. Maybe you expect these kinds of things to happan on, say, reality TV, but you never expect this to happen in your local library. However, as any pulic librarian will tell you, happen they do!"


Book Description from GoodReadsFrom a patron's missing wetsuit to the scent of crab cakes wafting through the stacks, I Work at a Public Library showcases the oddities that have come across Gina Sheridan's circulation desk. Throughout these pages, she catalogs her encounters with local eccentrics as well as the questions that plague her, such as, "What is the standard length of eyebrow hairs?" Whether she's helping someone scan his face onto an online dating site or explaining why the library doesn't have any dragon autobiographies, Sheridan's bizarre tales prove that she's truly seen it all.

Stacked high with hundreds of strange-but-true stories, I Work at a Public Library celebrates librarians and the unforgettable patrons that roam the stacks every day.

My Rating: 2 stars

My Review: As a Library Assistant myself, I was drawn to this book for obvious reasons. Non-Library folk often have no idea of the antics and varied elements that make up a Library staffer's day. So, I went into this book expecting a funny read featuring outlandish patrons and outrageous experiences, but the incidents ranged from dull to cute to silly misunderstandings to mildly funny at best (with a few that, unfortunately, felt disrespectful to some library patrons). 


While this self-proclaimed book nerd liked that Sheridan organizes her chapters using the Dewey Decimal system, overall, I wasn't impressed with this book. I just don't think it comes close to the odd and sometimes humorous interactions, questions and requests that I've personally experienced as library staff.


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