Amy Artisan

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Category: QuickLit (page 2 of 3)

Recently Read…Autumn 2015

It’s time to connect with Modern Mrs. Darcy for QuickLit and share for another round-up of recent reads – and by recent I mean the last couple of months. The reading list keeps growing but in recent weeks I’ve found knitting in my hands more frequently than books (it must be gift knitting season). The Kindle was charged and loaded for my October travels; however, the reading just didn’t materialize even with all the plane time.

Kindle reads + a Swiss souvenir read

Kindle reads + a Swiss souvenir read

  • The Game Must Go On: Hank Greenberg, Pete Gray, and the Great Days of Baseball on the Home Front in WWII by John Klima – The true story of how baseball continued in the U.S. during WII and the importance and impact it had so many fronts – the boys that went off to war, those left behind, the evolution of professional baseball into the game/business we see today.
  • The Royal We by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan – I picked up the Kindle version when it was deeply discounted and figured it would be a fun read at some point. One weekend in September, it got consumed. I started it on a Saturday & read just a bit before turning out the light. On Sunday morning I enjoyed reading it for a while to start my day – then I decided to prioritize what actually needed to be done that day & did minimal food prep/cooking and house puttering while devouring the rest of the story. A combination of chick lit + tabloid read + English aristocracy primer all rolled into a cute story. Overall, a fun read.
  • The Martian by Andy Weir – I really enjoyed this story of an astronaut surviving on Mars when he is mistakenly left behind as dead on the planet when an astronaut crew has to abandon their mission. A long time fascination with the space program had me appreciating the nods to “historical fact” that were gleaned from other missions and tests. A good combination of internal monologue, determination and sheer will on Mars and on Earth as survival is realized and rescue is planned.
  • Yes, Please by Amy Poehler – I follow Amy’s “Smart Girls” initiative through social media and like the work that she and her team are doing and I have always enjoyed her shows, movies, etc. This book was just ok for me – I read it via library loan on the Kindle and thought maybe it would be more engaging in the physical book format where you could actually see/read the “extras” that were throughout the book – letters, notes, etc…on my older Kindle they didn’t come through well and so those nuggets were “missing.”
  • At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen – A tale of Scotland, searching for the Loch Ness Monster, love and loss and World War II, the impact of your family background/breeding in Philadelphia mainline society and the chance for redemption and a new start.
  • Delicious! by Ruth Reihl – A fun read – part “contemporary classic” tale of a college age girl moving to New York to start work at a magazine while running from her past and falling for a guy and more “typical” storylines and part “imagined history” of James Beard corresponding with a young girl from Akron over cooking, rations and living through World War II.
  • A Bell for Ursli: A Story from the Engadine in Switzerland by Selina Chonz & Alois Carigiet (Illustrator) – A souvenir of my October trip to Switzerland, this is a charming children’s story. The tale of a young boy eager to be seen as a “bigger boy” and the lengths he will go to in order to prove that at the annual festival. The Swiss National Museum in Zurich had an exhibit highlighting the work of this illustrator – both his story illustrations and other design work.

What have you been reading lately? As I prepare for Thanksgiving break, I’m looking forward to the books that will be read during that time.

Recently Read…August 2015

After too many months away from this link-up, I’m joining Modern Mrs. Darcy this month to share QuickLit reviews on some of my recent reads.

A bit of lazy Sunday afternoon reading on the screened in porch while at camp...

A bit of lazy Sunday afternoon reading on the screened in porch while at camp…

  • Stuff Matters: Exploring the Marvelous Materials the Shape Our Man-Made World by Mark Miodownik –  A fascinating look into the material world around us that is anchored in a picture of the author enjoying a book and a cuppa on in his rooftop garden. Each chapter focuses on specific material: steel, paper, glass, chocolate, plastic; graphite; concrete; implants; foam; porcelain;
  • Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott – A very engaging story of 4 women who impacted the Civil War through their different ways of providing undercover support. For the Union, a Richmond spinster socialite led a very active underground route of information, goods and escaped Union prisoners of war. For the Confederacy, a DC society widow gathering and sharing information from Union soldiers and officials. For the Union, a young Canadian woman who enlisted in the Michigan army as a man… For the Confederacy, a young Virginia woman gathering information and bolding lying. A well written book that was filled with all sorts of Civil War history, other trivia and many “I didn’t know that” moments. I read a lot of this while home in the ‘Ville last weekend – numerous times I looked up from the pages to mention a fact to whichever family member was in the living room at the time.
  • The Secret Life of Objects by Dawn Raffel – I picked this up on my Kindle through some “great deal” last fall and started reading – then it languished for a while. I picked it back up while on the road last week – one evening when I was in a reading mood but not wanting to start anything too taxing. As I’m in the midst of my own KonMari after reading “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” this book seemed more enjoyable now. While her premise for the objects in her house that she highlights isn’t necessarily about “sparking joy” I found her collection of stories tied to the objects she has around her to be clever & something to give me pause to recall the stories of the things I keep near.
  • The Patriot Threat by Steve Berry – The latest installment in the Cotton Malone series that I enjoy. This time, the unknown piece of history that looks to bring down the US government is focused on the Federal income tax and if the constitutional amendment that implemented it was legally ratified. A mix of fact and fiction that included Andrew Mellon and FDR in the historical flashbacks. A good adventure read – I will stick with this series as long as Cotton or his newer partners continue to answer the call to save the country/world from imminent demise due to a long lost secret.
  • The Beekeeper’s Ball by Susan Wiggs –Hmm, where to start with this. Last year, I read a book that ended up being the first in the series (The Apple Orchard) – it was a “sweet” story – a bit outside my norm. As I finished that cute read that was really a romance novel with an interesting flashback history twist, I turned the pages on the Kindle and discovered that it was published by a Harlequin imprint and honestly my thoughts of the book decreased – I contemplated if I would read anymore in the series. Fast forward to this summer & this second book in the series – I decided to read it & it confirmed that the series/storyline were way too much in the category of romance stories that I don’t enjoy. The first book seemed to be a non-Harlequin story…this book confirmed that the series was firmly in the Harlequin camp. So long to any future reads in this series.

My library’s summer reading challenge runs through August 18th – really, why stop it so early in the summer? I set a challenge of 12 books – so far I’ve logged 9. I don’t know if I’ll meet the challenge by their arbitrary date but I know I’ll meet it by Labor Day.

What are you reading these days?

Recently Read…January 2015

Plenty of books under the Christmas tree!

Plenty of books under the Christmas tree!

A welcome site in the Artisan family, stacks of books under the Christmas tree. As I mentioned, we spent Boxing Day at home enjoying our new reads, hot coffee & afternoon naps – I’m fine with us creating a new tradition with that. My requests were varied this year – a mix of fiction and wide ranging non fiction. While some of these books have already been consumed, others await to be read throughout this year.

During this most recent Advent season, I picked up a couple of books to establish a daily advent reading routine. One book I put on the Kindle, The Dawning of Indestructible Joy: Daily Readings for Advent by John Piper. These were short reflections that were focused on the Gospel.

My second Advent reading was Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas. I found this through another blog and was a couple days late getting started with the readings. This is a great collection of writings from a wide range of voices from the ancient to the modern: Brennan Manning, St. Thomas Aquinas, Madeleine L’Engle, C.S. Lewis and so many more. Some days the readings were brief – other days they were longer. Most of these readings were new to me and many authors were new reads, too. On several occasions, I was actively highlighting & sharing words I was reading with family & friends. I look forward to coming back to this book each year.

Beyond the Advent reads, these are some of the books that I have enjoyed recently…

The King & Checkmate by Steven James – The final 2 books in the 7 book Patrick Bowers series. I started this series several years ago with books under the Christmas tree and have enjoyed it the entire time (even when I fell behind in reading the books as they came out). This is a smartly written thriller series with Patrick Bowers as an FBI agent who focuses on environmental criminology as a way to solve the crimes. His back story is developed in early books as he solves other cases and as the series progresses everything “comes together” towards a bit of a final showdown. This series wrapped up nicely and I think the door is open for a new series to develop with “minor characters” in this series taking the lead. As an aside, I now use honey as a sweetener in my coffee because of this main character.

Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II by Vicki Croke – The fascinating story of an Englishman who goes to work for a British teak company in Burma after WWI and becomes an elephant master. Over the years Billy Williams develops an amazing relationship with the elephants he manages; changes how elephants are trained for the work; truly becomes an elephant whisperer. When WWII hits Burma, he & “his elephants” join the British military and the elephants are used for some great people exoduses from Burma into India. In addition to being a good story about a piece of history I was unfamiliar with, there were leadership lessons to glean from how the elephants worked.

One Word that Will Change Your Life by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton, Jimmy Page – As I mentioned, this year I’m choosing one word to focus on for goals, intentions, resolutions: CULTIVATE. As I was “in process” on coming to that word, I read this book – a very quick read – to further wrap my head around what this sort of goal setting could achieve.

The Patmos Deception by Davis Bunn – From under the Christmas tree, a fairly fast read from an author I enjoy. This time the blend of current action and history was centered in Greece – against the backdrop of the Greek financial crisis, Grecian antiquities are disappearing. A journalist and a forensic archaeologist, lifelong friends, team up to investigate. Along the way to solving the mystery, they are drawn into the island of Patmos where John the Baptist wrote of the apocolypse. This adventure wraps up by the end of the book…there are definitely some loose strings that leave the door open to future adventures with these characters.

Everything I Need to Know About Christmas I Learned From a Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow – From under the Christmas tree. Another clever installment in taking the illustrations & words from the classic Little Golden Books and getting to the heart of what matters during the Christmas hustle & bustle. A fun add to the Christmas books.

– A long term read for the year, as I’m focusing on making daily devotional time a priority, I am working my way through The One Year Women in Christian History Devotional. So far I am enjoying learning more about women of faith that span the ages.

Still in progress, Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free by Hector Tobar. So far I’m enjoying it – I’ll provide a review next month.

With some business travel on the horizon, I see more Kindle based reading in the coming weeks. Also, my 11 year old goddaughter is eagerly awaiting me to finish reading The Giver Quartet so we can discuss the full cycle. I’m excited at the prospect of book discussion with this sweet girl!

Connecting up with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s monthly reading roundup, now renamed QuickLit.

What are you reading these days? Do you have any reading goals for 2015?

Recently Read – September 2014

So, the library reading challenge ended weeks ago – I think I managed to log 12 (of their 25 goal) in the short, short “summer” they chose. My reading continues…and my stack of books continues to far outweigh the available reading time…

My plans for library book reading recently may have gotten ahead of myself and I’ve had to return several books without reading them…I need to figure out the right pace for requesting books & realize that 8 books out from the library at once just isn’t realistic for me these days.

As the seasons are starting to change & a whole slew of tv shows will be starting up, I’m reevaluating my approach to tv & reading…I want to be reading more & watching less…

browsing vintages kids books at the used bookstore in the Milwaukee airport

browsing vintages kids books at the used bookstore in the Milwaukee airport

From my August & September reads, a few highlights:

  • The Lincoln Myth by Steve Berry – The latest from a “new favorite” author – this installment of thriller + history + long buried secrets focuses on the legality of seceding from the US during the Civil War.
  • The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon – A book club read for the women’s growth network at work. A quick business parable read – it felt like it might have been trying too hard to have a similar feel to “Who Moved My Cheese?” – but it was a good reminder of the positive focus to have as you approach work and life.
  • Playing for Pizza by John Grisham (audio) – A quick listen – a breezy story of a washed out pro football player who is given “one last chance” with a team in Italy.
  • A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea by Richard Phillips (audio) – Captain Phillips’ memoir of his road to becoming a merchant marine & captain and then the detail of his days of capture and dramatic rescue while in command of the Maersk Alabama.
  • Bleachers by John Grisham (audio) – The story of a former high school football star who returns “home” as everyone gathers in vigil ahead of their legendary coach’s death.
  • No Easy Day by Mark Owen (audio) – A SEAL team member’s account of the Bin Laden raid. I chuckled as I heard him also talk about the rescue of Captain Phillips (see above) – a reminder of how connected things can be.
  • The Rules of Civility by Amor Towles – I bought this quite a while ago for my Kindle & then it sat unread. I “picked it up” as my read for my “Meet me in Milwaukee” travel & quickly devoured it. Set in 1930s New York, the tale of young adults finding their way in life and love against the backdrop of life in the city never sleeps and in the midst of money and no money.
  •  The English Assassin by Daniel Silva – the 2nd in a series that I am working my way through…a big part of the storyline was around the art stolen from Jews in WWII – I think it’s time to read Monument Men now.
  • Black Flagged by Steven Konkoly – a free title via Book bub – first in a series – fast moving thriller that was a good travel read – a slightly different twist on the deep cover government agent & the attempt to leave that life behind.
  • Arnco by Ben Muse – another free Book Bub title – The “can I go home again” story of a best selling author experiencing a quarter-life crisis and returning to the small town in Georgia where he spent many happy moments at his Grandmother’s house while growing up and reconnecting with “the girl” of his childhood

What are you currently reading these days? As the seasons change, do you find your reading time increasing or decreasing?

Once again, linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy for the Twitterature round-up. (And most likely adding to my to-be-read list as I check out other blogs…)

Recently Read – April 2014

Reading seems to come in waves around here recently – but with the return of patio weather, I look forward to many “happy hours” of reading in my chair on the patio to end the day. Over the weekend, we jumped past spring into some summer-like weather – so of course I was on the patio reading. (Never mind the “return to winter” temps that then marked this week – those weekend hours were bliss.)

A favorite reading spot

A favorite reading spot

In the last 2 months, I’ve consumed several books…with varying degrees of enjoyment in the read…
  • Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling) – I “finally” finished this one in March. Overall, I enjoyed it – a clever detective story. I think my problem was that I put it down back in October in favor of other reads and then had a tough time getting back into it. When the next one comes out, I’m pretty sure I need to “read it straight through.” As I was in London, it was fun to go past locations and recall a mention in this book.
  • The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson – A fascinating Pulitzer prize-winning fiction set in North Korea. Indeed, the life story of the son of an orphan master who was raised in an orphanage, started his military service on tunnel patrol, was pulled into “secret” missions, becomes a prisoner and reinvents himself out of a prison camp.
  • The Anatomist’s Apprentice by Tessa Harris – (audio) Meh. The first in a series about an American anatomist in England in the 1780s. An attempt at CSI meets the splash of the Pink Carnation series. Not sure if I’ll continue this series.
  • Death by Cashmere by Sally Goldenbaum – The first in a “quick read” knitting mystery series. After the “heavy” reading of Orphan Master, a light read seemed in order. The setting reminded me of a fall weekend near Cape Cod, the fun of Door County and Harbor Country and the yarn shop reminded me of some of my favorite yarn shops of years gone by. It was a breezy read but I’m not sure I’ll seek out the rest of the series.
  • The Expats by Chris Pavone – An espionage tale mixed with a ‘home life/domestic’ story with a bit of whiplash from how the chapters move between present & past & further past & back & forth all at once. I snagged this after reading a review about the author’s newest book & seeing that the library offered this. I’m still not sure my thoughts on the book – the story was a clever “twist” on spy thrillers but the structure seemed distracting.   #whiplash
  • My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse (audio) – After enjoying a a delightful evening at the theater seeing Wooster & Jeeves in London, I knew I needed to add this series to my reading (or listening). As I listen to the stories, I must admit that instead of the voice of the audio book narrator I hear Jeeves dialog as portrayed by Matthew MacFayden and I see Wooster’s expressive face as portrayed by Stephen Magnan on stage.
  • Active reads/listens to be included in future reviews: The Apple Orchard; The Romanov Prophecy; Moonwalking with Einstein and more…
  • Hold requests at the library include Laura Ingalls Wilder & Gabriel Garcia Marquez

The kindle is recharging in advance of a couple of (stateside) flights “for fun” this month…so plenty of reading time awaits…

Linking up with Modern Mrs. Darcy’s monthly twitterature review. (Which of course leads to many more books being added to my “to read” list…)

What are you reading these days?

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