Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Whimsey: A Novel by Kaye Wilkinson Barley



Synopsis from Goodreads: Whimsey is a novel of southern fiction with a splash of magic and a touch of fantasy, topped with a sprinkling of humor.
The magic was already there when cigar-smoking matriarch Elizabeth Calhoun established an artist’s colony on an island off the coast of Georgia and named it Whimsey.
Elizabeth’s ghost still drops in from time to time to make sure things are going as she planned.
There’s also a wicked pixie named Earlene who fancies tight-fitting designer clothes and Louboutin stilettos.
Elizabeth’s grandniece, Emma Hamilton Foley, a once-promising jewelry designer who moved away from the island, now fears her talent has deserted her.
Along with her four best childhood friends, she has been invited to be a resident artist at Whimsey’s new upscale gallery, Les ├ętoiles. To join them, she’ll need to regain her talent, face the demons from her past and her feelings about Eli Tatnall, whom she loved as a girl.
Will moving back to the Island of Whimsey bring the magic back?
WHIMSEY is a story of hope and affirmation, about families and best girlfriends, connections and feelings. It’s about the things in life that make us happy and the things that scare us to death. And the people who walk through life with us.

My Review:
I want to live in Whimsey! This book proves not only can you go home again but that you should. Emma tried to leave Whimsey in the past but when things go wrong in her life and her artistic jewelry line takes the hit , she eventually figures out she needs to find her inner magic again and with some help from her long dead aunt Elizabeth the only place that it can be found is on the island of Whimsey. I loved the scenes with Aunt Elizabeth and the crayon and the story of finding you crimson, we all need this lesson!

I also enjoyed the pixie Earlene, I loved that she made silver glitter fall off of Emma without her even realizing it. Oh who am I kidding I loved every character in this book. The whole ensemble is there for a reason each with their own set of advise to Emma and when she finally decides to listen to all the people and island are trying to tell her things get much better for. I also want to see her jewelry; I want to see these colors the colors of a sunrise on Whimsey with colors no one has a name for.

This book is right up there with Sarah Addison Allen in southern magical realism; in fact I think these two authors should get together because the big grand opening of the gallery needs a caterer and who better than the Waverly sisters!

I highly recommend this book to southern fiction lovers, especially fans of Sarah Addison Allen. This book has the same feel good aftereffect that Sarah’s books do. I was surprised to find this is Kaye’s first novel; I look forward to reading anything else she writes!

5 Stars

Monday, October 13, 2014

Harpers Bazaar 10 BOOKS YOU MUST READ IF YOU LOVED 'GONE GIRL'




Harpers Bazaar put out a list 10 BOOKS YOU MUST READ IF YOU LOVED 'GONE GIRL' follow the link to the article here:

Which books suggested by Harpers Bazaar are available at the Library?




1)      Dare Me, by Megan Abbott- Available on Audio from Library2Go

2)      Cartwheel, by Jennifer DuBois- Available in Ebook from Library2Go

3)      Reconstructing Amelia, by Kimberley McCreight- Available in Ebook & Audio from Library2Go

4)      Dark Places, by Gillian Flynn- Available in house in softcover also available in Audio and Ebook from Library2Go

5)      Abroad, by Katie Crouch- Not available but can get it through InterLibrary Loan

6)      The Silent Wife, by A.S.A Harrison- Available in Ebook & Audio from Library2Go

7)      The Wicked Girls, by Alex Marwood- Available in house in softcover

8)      The Secret History, by Donna Tartt- Available in house in softcover also available in Audio and Ebook from Library2Go

9)      In the Woods, by Tana French-Available in Ebook from Library2Go

10)   The Cuckoo's Calling, by J.K. Rowling as Robert Galbraith- Available in house in Hardcover and on Audio from Library2Go

Friday, September 12, 2014

Library2Go Spotlight-Dollbaby , by Laura Lane McNeal narrated by, January LaVoy



Dollbaby , by Laura Lane McNeal narrated by, January LaVoy  :Available in ebook & audiobook from Library2Go (soon to be available in-house)



Warning: You will fall in love with the characters in this book.

This book made me laugh and made me cry. 11 year old Ibby’s (Liberty) father has died and her mother (can I put quotes around mother to let you know what I think of her) drops her off at her grandmother Fannie’s house the problem is Ibby and Miss Fannie have never met, and this so called mother doesn’t even walk her to the door to introduce them just drops her off in the street and drives away. If you can’t tell by this paragraph I don’t think very highly of Vidrine’s so called motherly love. Especially the “gift” she wants Ibby to give to her grandmother, Vidrine is just a spiteful woman.

Luckily for Ibby she is going into a house full of women that will love her and take care of her, the first person she meets is Dollbaby and her momma Queenie who work for her grandmother Fannie and Ibby doesn’t realize her grandmother is just as scared as she is that they won’t like each other, but Miss Fannie is a character and luckily they do hit it off even if it is strained for a little while. Miss Fannie is an interesting character strong yet fragile I laughed when she was helping the bookie then cried when she had her spell on Ibby’s birthday she was such an interesting character that has been through some awful things and when we learn how Queenie came to work for her and how she got her nickname it really gives insight into both of these women.

The book starts out in 1964, 3 days before Ibby’s 12th birthday and continues on till she is in college. Now, you know what race relations were like at this time in our country and even though this is New Orleans there is still certain things that can’t be done, even though Ibby is friends with Doll & Queenie’s family when she is out alone with any of them things are said and done that will make you cringe and hope that in this day and age things like that don’t happen anymore.

There is one other character that I did not like and that was neighbor girl Annabelle what a little brat who grew up to be a spoiled rotten brat (ok not the b-word I was going to use but you get my drift) but karma oh wonderful karma with a little push from Miss Fannie and Miss Ibby she does get her comeuppance and that made me laugh and cheer!

I truly loved the characters in this book Doll and Queenie are great ladies and I loved how loyal and loving they were towards both Miss Fannie and Ibby even from the first time meeting them. This is a story about family and acceptance and is a truly wonderful read.

Narrator January LaVoy did a fantastic job of bringing these characters to life I loved how she voiced Ibby at age 11 sounding like a little girl and voiced her differently as she got older but yet you knew it was Ibby talking, everyone had their own unique voice, LaVoy’s narration truly added to my experience of this book.

If you are a fan of Saving CeeCee Honeycutt or Secret Life of Bees or just southern fiction in general give this one a try.


5 Stars

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

National Book Festival Washington D.C.

Librarian Susie Sharp attends The National Book Festival




I was honored to be asked by the State Librarian, Mary Soucie, to attend The National Book Festival in Washington D.C. and work the booth for North Dakota. We were set up in the Pavilion of States at The Walter E. Washington Convention Center where there was a booth for each state plus the American territories. When people came into the convention center they were given a bag for all the giveaways and a map, if they got all 50 states plus the territories stamped by each booth they could turn the map in for a free book.

L-R- Our wonderful Junior League Volunteer, ND State Librarian Mary Soucie, Talking Books Coordinator Sue Hammer-Schneider, Susie Sharp Librarian Eddy-New Rockford Library


Our booth had plastic cups that said Book Nerd on them, magnets and postcards with a wordle of North Dakota Authors. To tell you the scale of how many people came through the booth we had 1000 cups and ran out of them by 11 am and that was actually the slowest time of the day.  We had a lot of fun at our booth and were surprised how many attendees had a North Dakota story, the family from Virginia that had vacationed in Medora this summer and attended the musical and pitch fork fondue, the many people who were stationed at either Minot AFB or Grand Forks AFB, the young lady who said her grandmother started the first library in a small town in North Dakota but unfortunately couldn’t remember the name of the town, and many more.

                                                   A picture of some of the crowd


There were author events all day but we were too busy in our booth to go see any of them, however at the end of the day I was able to get down to have Lisa See sign our library’s copy of China Dolls.




This trip was a lot of fun; I was able to get a little sightseeing done but will need to go back one day to see everything I missed. 




Tuesday, June 10, 2014

We Were Liars , by E. Lockhart

We Were Liars , by E. Lockhart
Available in house
Synopsis from Goodreads
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

My Review:

This book was very twisty and turny with an unreliable narrator and is very hard to review because I don't want to give anything away and I'm afraid many people will, by tags and such, which is a shame. I'm so glad I read it right away.

I can't stop thinking about this story, it is written at times like poetry, as a diary and as just rambling but beauty throughout. It is so unique and hard to describe and I would highly recommend reading it soon before the spoilers are out there.

There were times I thought I had it figured out then the author would change my mind only to be partly right later on.

I read this book in 2 days and it has been a long time since a book has grabbed me that fast in a long time. Once I started all I wanted to do was keep reading. And when I was done I just wanted to start it over again.

I would recommend this to adult and young adult alike this book defies classification it just needs to be read.

If they make a movie of this one Edward Hermann must play granddad. I pictured him all the way through.

If you like a book that keeps you guessing, give this one a try. And Please Don’t Spoil it for others!

I don’t want to say anymore for fear of giving something away but I loved this book!


5 Stars

Friday, May 30, 2014

Dakota by Gwen Florio narrated by, Caroline Shaffer


Available in House and on Library2Go in audio this review is of the audiobook.

Dakota by Gwen Florio narrated by, Caroline Shaffer 

I should start off by saying that I am a North Dakotan, I live here,  my family lives here, my parents were raised here, so my perspective on this may be different than others.

This was a good mystery and it kept me guessing right up to the reveal. Lola is a reporter who decided to go after a story even though her Montana newspaper and Sheriff boyfriend Charlie tell her not to. She finds herself in the North Dakota Oil patch where the men outnumber the women by a huge percentage and finds herself hip deep in all sorts of trouble. She’s on the hunt for a killer of a young girl and maybe even more girls,  when she puts it together that many women from the Blackfoot Reservation in Magpie, Montana are going to the patch to work and that work ends up being  dancing or prostitution but they are ending up dead, not rich like they were hoping. She takes it upon herself to find the answers and it puts her in danger.

I liked the character of Lola she’s scrappy and fearless, of course that fearlessness gets her in trouble as she dives feet first into a story that is much bigger than she ever expected. I liked this book well enough that I plan to read Florio’s first book Montana and I look forward to reading  more of Lola’s adventure’s especially after the ending of this one I am curious how she will deal with that going forward.

The author also does a good job of respecting the Native Americans while honoring their culture. Also the descriptions of the man camps and the bars near them were pretty spot on.

I wish the narrator, Caroline Shaffer, hadn’t used the movie Fargo to learn a North Dakota accent. The character of Charlotte sounds just like the lady cop on the movie/tv show Fargo, and that annoyed me to no end. Her Native American accents were a little better and the main character was good because she wasn’t from North Dakota. Also The Bakken is pronounced Bahkken (like Bah humbug). It wasn’t that the narrator was bad I liked her narration except when she was doing her Fargo impressions. So I would listen to this new to me narrator again as long as the book wasn’t set in my home state!

This story looks at the gritty underbelly of the Bakken Oil Patch in North Dakota it involves prostitution and human trafficking and it may seem like fiction but unfortunately it is a true consequence of the major influx of people coming to ND to work, the crime rate in ND has gone up considerably and there are a lot of murders and crime on the west end of our state.

One thing that bothered me was, Thor saying this is Dakota, I have never heard anyone from North Dakota call it just Dakota because we need to make the distinction that we are North Dakota Not South Dakota.

3 ½ Stars


I received a copy of this book from the publisher & Librarything however I did end up checking out the audiobook from my library.





review crossposted to MissSusie's Reading & Observations

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Unfit by Lara Cleveland Torgesen


Unfit by Lara Cleveland Torgesen

Synopsis from Goodreads: Chrissy Rollings has a mountain of troubles to overcome, one that would crush most other girls her age.
She was born in a small North Carolina town in 1952, into a poor but happy and loving family that always managed to scrape by each month... until the night her father died in a car crash, plunging the family into poverty. Chrissy’s mother is forced to take low-paying jobs to supplement her meager welfare checks, leaving Chrissy to raise her five siblings. But even these sacrifices are not enough.
North Carolina was among the states to practice eugenics — forcing sterilization procedures on thousands of people deemed “unfit” to reproduce. When Chrissy’s mother was faced with the choice of having 14-year-old Chrissy sterilized or losing her welfare check, she makes the only choice she feels she can and signs the consent form. That act of survival sets into motion a series of events that shape the course of Chrissy’s life forever.

My Review:
Wow this is something I never knew about and it breaks my heart, this book was fascinating it felt like a true story but was a fictionalized amalgamation of different people, and it worked well, I really came to care about Chrissy.

 I never knew anything about the eugenics program before and was horrified that this happened in our country and how long North Carolina held on to this antiquated practice. If you don’t know what I am talking about eugenics is- forcing sterilization procedures on thousands of people deemed “unfit” to reproduce. And who decided this? People with fancy degrees who thought they knew better than anyone else. Kids who were sent to juvenile hall were sterilized, and girls like Chrissy whose mother was on welfare were threatened if she didn’t have the surgery they would lose their benefits, Chrissy’s mother worked a job but it wasn’t enough to raise all of her children. And yes before you think it Chrissy’s parents were married and had children then her father was killed in a car accident that is when they ended up on welfare.

That Chrissy was ever able to love & marry and have a happy life was a credit to her strength even when she felt she had Unfit tattooed across her forehead most of her life. How awful would that be to be told at the age of 14 that you are unfit?? Especially when Chrissy’s mother dies too and she loses all her brothers and sisters and feels the guilt of being mean to her mother after the surgery and what really bothered me they didn’t sterilize her mother and how could Chrissy not feel anger towards her mother who had signed the papers before Chrissy was even told what would happen to her.

This book grabbed me right away and was hard to put down, it is a fascinating read and well written. My only qualm was I so wanted Chrissy to find her siblings, I wanted them all to be okay and had been raised by loving happy parents but with a book like this the reality is she probably never could find them especially the little ones, but I wanted a happy ending for Chrissy, I wanted to hug her and tell her everything would be okay, so the author did a great job at making me care about the characters in this book. This book is a must read , about an embarrassing and heartbreaking time in North Carolina history.


5 Stars