Thursday, May 31, 2012

Armchair Hiking

In many parts of the country, summertime means an opportunity to lace up hiking boots and enjoy being outside in the woods. But in Tucson, unless you're partial to hot weather or a drive to Mt Lemmon, summertime hiking can prove difficult. If you're the sort of person who'd rather slump in a recliner with a lemonade than trek up a mountain in the Tucson heat, may I suggest.... armchair hiking!

There's already a lengthy waiting list for Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, but you might as well add yourself to the list and then pick up The Cactus Eaters by Dan White while you wait. Both books tell the story of hikers who tackle the arduous Pacific Crest Trail, which runs the entire length of the west coast, from the tip of Mexico to the tip of Canada. And both books are packed with tales of adventures, woes, triumphs, and disappointments, with a healthy dose of humor and personal discovery, too. Now, I'll admit that I didn't always like these narrators. At the time that she began to hike, Cheryl Strayed (author of Wild) had recently divorced her husband, in part because she had been unfaithful to him, and was struggling with a drug addiction. And Dan White (author of The Cactus Eaters) and his girlfriend bicker and make cringe-inducing mistakes. Despite their flaws, though, I wanted these narrators to succeed--to finish their hikes and find the answers they sought. And I had a hard time putting the books down until I learned how everything turned out.

Bill Bryson's A Walk in the Woods is another fabulous hiking story, this time featuring the Appalachian Trail. Bryson and his high school friend, Stephen Katz (overweight, middle aged, and lover of snack cakes) hike portions of the trail, and in between funny stories of their adventures and the strange characters they encounter, Bryson ruminates about the science and history of the places they pass through.

Finally, if you're itching to get hiking in the full glare of the sun, you might try a day hike in Tucson. Check out Best Easy Day Hikes, Tucson for manageable ideas about where to go and what to see. Just remember to bring your water and sunscreen!

~Queen of Books

P.S. For even MORE adventures, visit our SummerQuest blog and complete quests to unlock a uniquely Arizonan work of art!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Camera Never Lies

A picture is worth a thousand words -- unless the picture in question is the subject of Penelope Lively's The Photograph. The picture in that case is worth a sea of complexities and emotional mayhem, making it a marvelous read for lovers of domestic fiction.

While rummaging through a pile of papers, Glyn discovers a snapshot of Kath, his recently deceased wife. It's one he's never seen before. Unaware that she was being photographed, Kath is holding hands and exchanging an intimate look with a man who, Glyn realizes with dismay, is clearly her lover. Glyn never suspected--how could he have been so blind? But now his eyes are open and he wants explanations--about his wife, her lover, the fallibility of memory and the uncertainty of the present, all prompted by his discovery.

In life Kath was strikingly attractive and maddeningly elusive. In death she's a ghostly presence, confounding Glyn and hovering just out of reach of the reader. Her story is told by means of a rotation of chapters among

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Reading Over The Summer

For me the start of summer meant I could read whatever I wanted, no more boring assigned reading.  Even though I am far past the days of assigned reading there is still something about summer and reading.  Maybe it's because I have fond memories of participating in the library's Summer Reading Program.  This year I was excited to learn that a feature of the Summer Reading Program is an online quest component.  It sounds like a lot of fun and that got me thinking about how many of my favorite stories are actually adventure quests.  I think the top spot would have to go to The Hobbit by J R R Tolkien.  There are dwarves and magic, treasure and dragons, and Bilbo the Hobbit who never planned on having any adventures but found himself on one anyway.  Yes, that summer was definitely an adventure.  So here is to finding great books to keep you entertained over the hot Tucson summer.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Great Satire

It easier to ponder the problems of life when those problems initially seem cloaked in absurdity: big issues become much more approachable. This is why I love satire and satirists. Jonathan Swift, Anton Chekhov, David Sedaris are just a few of my favorites in centuries of great satirical writings. I’ve added Gary Shteyngart to my list as well.

In Shteyngart's third novel, Super Sad True Love Story: a novel, he provides, quite obviously, a sad love story. Lenny Abramov, a Russian immigrant living in Manhattan, tells us about his life and mad love for young, hip Eunice Park through his diary entries. At the age of 39, Lenny is "old" by this society's standards, a complication for his work and for love. Additionally, he has an embarrassing quirk -

Thursday, May 17, 2012

No Ordinary Joe

Joe O'Loughlin is self-reflective and suffering - not from chemical addictions but from Parkinson's disease. I first met him in Michael Robotham's latest thriller Bleed for Me, not realizing it is six in a series starting with Suspect . In Suspect Joe is a 42 year old psychologist with a thriving practice and beautiful family, occasionally called on by the London police to assist with psychological profiles. But, cumulative stress from his police cases and his increasing physical deterioration start a series of personal casualties.

Monday, May 14, 2012

A Burial at Sea by Charles Finch

A Burial at Sea by Charles Finch is the fifth book in the Charles Lenox series, which takes place in England in the 1870. Charles Lenox is a former private detective who now serves his country in Parliament. He has been asked by his brother, also of Parliament, to publicly go to Egypt to see the Suez Canal, but privately, he will also be investigating the death of several English spies.

Charles sets sail on the Lucy, on his first true sea voyage, and he is the only passenger. In the middle of his first night on board, a the well-liked second lieutenant is found dead on deck. This is truly a locked room mystery, and whoever killed the second lieutenant must still be on board. Everyone is a suspect, and it makes for a very tense voyage. Charles is determined to solve this murder, as well as trying to prevent any other incidents from occurring.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Book (and other) Obsessions

Before I worked at the public library it was a dangerous place. I would ride my bike to the Main library with a short list of three titles to get. Once inside, my eyes would be drawn to displays, random book covers that looked interesting, music, etc. and I'd find myself staggering back to my bike with 20 items in hand, practically balancing them on my helmet for the ride home. I called it a book obsession, a relatively harmless disease for me.  Not so for others.

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Book to Luv Bunches

Sometimes it's hard to find a book that really nails the intricacies of budding and changing friendship among tweens. Lucky for us, Lauren Myracle's Luv Ya Bunches is that book.

For quite some time, eleven-year-old Camilla has been struggling to break away from the "friendship" of nasty Modessa and her bullying henchgirl, Quin. She'd rather hang out with Katie-Rose, the quirky budding filmmaker, Yasaman, the quiet and observant web designer, and Violet, the brave and secretive new girl. But people like Modessa and Quin tend to drag you back in.

In the first week of fifth grade, it's going to take a lost (stolen?) turtle toy, a home-grown social website, a sleight of hand with Hershey's syrup, and the courage of true friends to finally set Camilla free.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


If you've been a devoted reader of this blog or perhaps another blog or two, you may have wondered (as I did) about the odd sounding word "blog".  To satisfy my curiosity, and hopefully yours as well, I did a little research.
Imagine a special suitcase.  In French, this is a "portmanteau" - a large leather suitcase that opens into two hinged compartments.  Borrowing from the French, grammarians have coined the term, "portmanteau word" referring to the combining of two words into one.  Blog has been formed from weand log.

When checking our catalog under blog and blogging you'll find a variety of books on how to set up a blog, funny blog experiences and blog importance in business.