nonfiction

Non-Fiction Friday #2!

A couple of years ago I was having coffee at a friend’s house when a bunch of boxes arrived. I was surprised to find that she had ordered 5 different winter boots to try on and then ship back the ones she didn’t like. Frankly, I was a little appalled. I asked her, “Why would you pay shipping to try on boots when you could just go to the store?” Then, she clued me in to Zappos’ policy of free shipping on delivery and returns. I remember thinking that this company was either amazing or doomed because this did not sound like a smart business – it was too nice!

Since Amazon acquired Zappos in a deal valued at over $1.2 billion, obviously they fell into the amazing category. And now we all know that I do not have a sound mind for business. But, what you don’t know today is just something you can learn about tomorrow!


deliveringhappiness

Which is why I am featuring Delivering Happiness, A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose by Tony Hsieh. After a couple of years of being a happy Zappos customer and reading about Amazon’s acquisition, I wanted to learn more. There are a lot of books that feature Zappos as examples of new business models but I wanted an inside look at the company. The author, Tony Hsieh, is the CEO of Zappos.com, Inc. and wrote this book about how his life path lead him to Zappos and the way Zappos is trying to change the way we do business. Broken into three parts, Delivering Happiness, is written (for the most part) in a clear, direct and often funny manner.

The first part, entitled Profits, is focused on Tony’s early life. It includes some stories of him growing up, his college experience, his first unsuccessful businesses (worm farm) and his other more successful businesses (LinkExchange). I really enjoyed reading about Tony’s formative years and how he came to Zappos. Tony seems to be a very introspective, humble person who cares deeply about the people around him. Throughout the book he talks about mistakes he made and how he learned from them. While he makes casual references, it is clear that Tony is constantly in pursuit of knowledge for personal growth.

The second section, “Profits and Passion,” is more business oriented. If you are interested in starting your own business or improving the business you already work for, this section is right up your alley. “Profits and Passion,” was a little hard for me because I am not interested in running a business. Still, it was full of insightful pieces of information about how Zappos became so monetarily successful while simultaneously being recognized as a “Best Companies to Work For.” From a consumer perspective, I shop at Zappos for their outstanding customer service. But, I also like to frequent businesses that go above and beyond for their workers and vendors. After reading this book and seeing how the company treats everyone they interact with so mindfully, I am probably never buying shoes anywhere else.

The third section is, “Profits, Passion and Purpose,” and Tony outlines how they take things to the next level at Zappos and how this mentality can be used for everyday life and happiness. I especially enjoyed this third section where we see Tony again evaluating, self-reflecting and seeking more information in order to create a life full of happiness for himself, his family and friends and everyone at Zappos.

Delivering Happiness was an informative and enjoyable look at the formation of a new successful business. If you are trying to start your own business or you want to work for a great company I highly recommend this book. If you, like me, are just wondering how people go from an idea to a billion dollar company, this is a fun book to read.

 

SeriousSeriesLove

Serious Series Love: 43 Old Cemetery Road by Kate and Sarah Klise

Kate Klise and Sarah Klise are sisters who have written and illustrated more than 30 books. Most of their books are written for children ages 7-10. But like most good fiction of this level, their stories are an absolute delight to read as an adult. My favorite of all their books is the 43 Old Cemetery Road series.

This series is filled with humor for all ages. I found myself laughing out loud as I explained to a second grader some of the puns and funny names! The drawings are intricate and whimsical.  I really enjoy the cast of characters we meet and get to know through letters and articles written back and forth.  And the story line and mystery is always adorable!

The first book is Dying to Meet You. It introduces the reader to a whole cast of main characters.  Seymour Hope, 11 year old son of the absent Les and Diane Hope, can see ghosts and has been left behind at 43 Old Cemetery Road while his parents travel through Europe. Ignatius B. Grumply (I.B. Grumply) is a writer of some fame who is struggling through writer’s block and has rented 43 Old Cemetery Road to try and publish a new book.  The rental agreement tricks Ignatius into caring for Seymour. Little does he know that the house also has a resident ghost, Olive C. Spence, included in the price!

As the series moves along the main characters meet new people and conquer new problems by working together. This would be an easy book to read all at once or a chapter at a time, depending on the age of the reader. Also, I like how much visual information there is to enjoy – not just drawings but different handwriting and newspaper clippings – that make the book special. Personally, I sat down and swiftly consumed all seven one right after the other. I have Serious Series Love for 43 Old Cemetery Road!


Tell me, please!

Have you ever read a series intended for children that you just couldn’t put down?

Challenges

When are you Reading Challenge

I found this great challenge on Taking on a World of Words.  The challenge was simple – read 12 books set in 12 different time periods of world history in 2017.  I didn’t know about it or start it until June 2017 but I love a good challenge!

  • The complete challenge will include 12 books from the following eras:
    • Pre 1500 The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz
    • 1500-1599
    • 1600-1699
    • 1700-1799
    • 1800-1899
    • 1900-1919
    • 1920-1939 The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
    • 1940-1959
    • 1960-1979
    • 1980-1999
    • 2000-Present
    • The Future

So, who feels like joining the challenge this late in the game? If you join, please comment below and make sure and head over to Taking on a World of Words to officially sign up!

nonfiction

Non-Fiction Friday # 1!

This is a whole new feature here on SilverButtonBooks! I have been making a more concerted effort to read (and enjoy) more good non-fiction books. With that in mind, I want to shine a light on the non-fiction loves of my reading life with everyone. So, each Friday I plan to feature a scrumptious non-fiction book that caught my fancy. Some will be deep, some will be silly but hopefully all the selections will be informative and enjoyable.

fullsizeoutput_3e

For my first feature I have to recommend The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum. This I my go-to non-fiction recommendation for so many reasons. First, the book may be non-fiction, but it reads like a procedural crime novel. Second, it’s poison right? Who doesn’t want to know more about poisons!? Third, it is so good, PBS even made a documentary film of the book available online! (It used to be on the PBS website but now I can only find it on youtube.) Finally, even if you don’t end up loving the book as much as I do, it is a super fun prop for leaving on your desk then quickly hiding from your colleagues. Mwahaha.

poisonhandbook

When taken as a whole, The Poisoner’s Handbook focuses on the birth of what we now call “forensic science.” In the early 1900’s, America was grossly behind our European counterparts in crime solving science.  After a scathing review of New York City’s coroners was published, Charles Norris was named the city’s first Chief Medical Examiner. Together, Norris and his pathology sidekick, Alexander Gettler, developed standards and practices that were eventually adopted and further developed across America.

Individually, each chapter highlights the deadly effects of poisons from carbon monoxide (that stuff coming out the back of them new horse-less carriages), to wood alcohol (damn you Prohibition!), and the classic arsenic (no Old Lace). Like any television show from Bones to my beloved Monk, the chapters introduce us to a victim or victims and then highlights the attempts to solve the mysterious circumstances of their death. Since this book is also set during the early 1900s, there is a wonderful dose of history mixed throughout.

Speaking of history, I must add one caveat. If you are opposed to animal testing, there is a whole lot of it in this book. Just remember, at this time there was no Bob Barker. No one spayed and neutered their dogs. They were everywhere. Remember Sandy from Annie? It was like that. While it did not bother me at all, a friend of mine is adamantly against animal testing and could not read around this facet of the book.

Deborah Blum has a long history with science. Combined with her experience as a professional journalist it is no wonder she so capably takes what could be very boring and makes it fascinating. This book is not as heavy into the science of the poisons as, A is for Arsenic: Poisons of Agatha Christie by Kathryn Harkup, and for that I was thankful. Instead, this book is the perfect mixture of history, science and murder.


Tell me, please!

Do you love non-fiction?

If you hate it / avoid it at all costs, tell me why?

And, do you have any recommendations for future features?

WWW Wednesday

WWW Wednesday July 19

WWW

I find myself organized again! Yahoo! And so I can participate in WWW Wednesday hosted by the lovely Taking on a World of Words. This is a great way to talk about

  • What you just finished reading,
  • What you are currently reading and
  • What you will be reading next.

For any of my followers here – you don’t need a blog! Just share your WWW in my comments. If you have a blog, I would love to read your WWW. Don’t forget to head over to Taking on a World of Words and see what everyone else is reading!

What did I just finish reading?

The Hating Game by Sally Thorne and Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan were both cleared off of my to be read (TBR) list. Dating-ish by the wonderful Penny Reid was highly anticipated and very enjoyable. And, I miss Veronica Mars. Terribly. Thankfully, Rob Thomas has taken to writing some books with Jennifer Graham. Some insomnia struck me this week and I deviated from my planned TBR and right into my Kindle. I read the first book The Thousand Dollar Tan Line and I am looking forward to the second book.

What am I currently reading?

Now, here you can see evidence of the insomnia. When I can’t sleep I read completely different books then I would during the day. Am I alone in this? It is like my night brain is completely different from my day brain. To Marry a Prince by Sophie Page and Suddenly Royal by Nichole Chase were both purchased between the hours of 1:00 and 4:00 a.m to entertain (but not overly excite) the brain. However, Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen and Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh were both planned and on my TBR. Her Royal Spyness is part of my participation in another great challenge on Taking on a World of Words called When are you Reading.

What do I plan to read next?

I finally got my hands on a copy of Ten Second Staircase, the next book in the Bryant and May series. I also hope to read A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas for my When are you Reading Challenge (1800-1899). Liar & Spy is by the great Rebecca Stead and will keep me up on my juvenile reading. Likewise, The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine promises to be an exciting story from the author of Ella Enchanted.

So, there is my WWW for Wednesday July 19, 2017. I hope to bring some book reviews this week but I would love to hear your thoughts. Have you read any of these books? And, seriously, am I a total weirdo with the insomnia reading?!?

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday

toptentuesday

The Broke and the Bookish‘s hiatus from hosting the Top Ten Tuesday continues so I get to pick my own topic. Today I bring you….

The Top Ten Books I was Required to Read but Still Love

The books below were all required summer reading that I would not have read otherwise or were heavily recommended by someone I admire. I hate being told what to read. To this day, if I am pushed too far to read a certain book I will avoid it. These books were all required reading that I went into with a negative attitude. By the end, I loved them all. They are, in no particular order:

thegreatgastby

#1 The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. My high school English teacher tried to make this all about waking and dreaming (or something) but I knew it was just an epic love story. The lengths Jay went to in an attempt to win back Daisy….sigh.

 

 

 

thecolorpurple#2 The Color Purple by Alice Walker. This was a hard book for me to read but I will never regret meeting Celie. The violence was new to me but it really opened my (then) young high school eyes. I have re-read it several times since and each time I am deeply affected by Celie’s tragedies and triumphs.

 

 

 

the killer angels#3 The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. I was required to read this book before my freshman year of college. I have always loved history but the Civil War….meh. But this book took me on the epic adventure that was the Battle of Gettysburg. I remember finishing the book, looking up, blinking and feeling stunned to find myself safe at home.

 

 

 

lordofflies#4 Lord of the Flies by William Golding. I did not want to read a book about boys who loose their minds when unsupervised. I think this one was before freshman year of high school. I figured this would be fairly boring. Wow. These kids loose their minds. Poor Piggy. This book is still classic novel I casually reference the most as in, “Those kids are one conch short of reenacting Lord of the Flies.”

 

 

littleprincess#5 A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. A librarian I admired recommended this book to me. I know she meant it gently but I wanted to please her so much that I knew I had to read the book. I didn’t want to read it. I had seen (and enjoyed) the Shirley Temple movie version and I wanted to move along to something else. But, read it I did. I still love Sara Crewe and her riches to rags story.

 

 

littlehouse

#6 Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My Mom has a magical memory associated with this series and has always encouraged me to read the books. I hated the whole idea and I really despised the television show. To prove to her that I was right and she was wrong, I read the first book. Sigh. Mothers are always right. The whole series is wonderful.

 

 

 

civilaction#7 A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr. This was required reading before my first year of law school. Doesn’t it look bleak and boring? Well, it isn’t. The author managed to takes years of boring motions and court rulings and turn it into a procedural drama. More importantly, it is a really good look at what a class action lawsuit looks like from the civil litigation attorney’s perspective.

 

 

seperatepeace

#8 Separate Peace by John Knowles. This book was required summer reading during high school, maybe before sophomore year. I was beginning to realize that friendships were complicated things and this book captured that feeling exactly.  I didn’t want to read it and now I can never let it go. I still have my used and battered copy.

 

 

 

countmontecristo

#9 The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. My Dad would often refer to this book as the, “greatest story of revenge ever told.” He didn’t make me read it, but I didn’t want to let him down when he recommended it. Obligation quickly turned to excitement. Ol’ Dumas can really tell a story.

 

 

 

 

harrypotter

#10. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. That’s right people. I didn’t want to read it. My Mom called me one night when I was in college and recommended it, heavily. Of course, I told her that she had no idea how much reading I was doing in college (she has a Masters in Communication and I was being stupid). Did she really think I had time for a children’s book?!? Thanks Mom. Sorry Mom. Let’s all say it together, “Mothers are always right.”

 

So, there you have it. Books that started as obligations and became treasured friends. Do you have any books that started as requirements and became relished reading?

fiction

Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech

I argue that since grownups were once children we have locked inside all of us the memories and feelings of being younger. Reading children’s literature takes you back and reminds you of things forgotten or pushed aside during day-to-day adulating. Beautifully written children’s books are for everyone.

But, I feel that a great deal of what we recommend to children is rife with peril and death and grown up concerns. Many times we forget that being a kid is hard. Even children in a stable childhood have everyday worries that weigh on them. There is no amount of money that you could pay me to be thirteen again! We make the mistake of recommending books to kids that we remember being required to read or worse, books we have heard are good for kids but haven’t read yet.

So, I actively seek out good children’s literature that is wholly enjoyable, well written and as free from unnecessary upset as possible to recommend blindly to children. When I am in a position where a parent asks me, “What should my kid read,” I have a bank of great stories and adventures to rattle off. I don’t usually recommend books to children that are anything but an escape because I want to encourage kids to love to read – to see it as the adventure it can be. And, I actively weed out books in which there is unnecessary sadness, loss or (what I think is) manipulative death. Beautifully written books about real feelings are important for everyone, including children, but I think it is a mistake to carelessly expose children to adult feelings and issues.

walktwomoons

Walk Two Moons is on my local school district’s summer reading list for kids third through fifth grade. I picked it up off the shelf out of sheer curiosity and I loved it. In this story we meet thirteen year old Salamanca Tree Hiddle. While traveling with her eccentric Grandparents from Ohio to Idaho, Sal entertains her Gramps and Gram with the story of her friend Phoebe, the disappearance of Pheobe’s mother and a lunatic. Meanwhile, Sal’s own story and her desires to be reunited with her mother unfolds.

 

 

 

In Walk Two Moons Sharon Creech weaves these two stories together so expertly that I could not sleep until I finished the book. Sal’s story, and the one she tells about Phoebe, will stay with me. I love this book even though it made me cry.

Throughout the book we see the quote, “Don’t judge a man until you’ve walked two moons in his moccasins.” This was the undercurrent of the story. The author was able to show with every single character that a person has layers, history and experiences that we don’t see on the surface. Everyone has stories, things the whole world doesn’t yet know, and we shouldn’t make assumptions about people.

I am sure that this message is, in part, why the publisher and our school district recommends this book to ages 8-12. But, I disagree. Sal is dealing with regular childhood problems and real world hard problems all at once.  There is no way to really explain without including spoilers but Sal’s world knowledge far exceeds the typical 8 year olds I know. And, while I wouldn’t question reading this in a third through fifth grade class, I don’t like that this is on the summer reading list where, presumably, kids are reading it independently.

I want to be clear. This book is fantastic. I am in awe of Sharon Creech’s ability to put all those feelings and wonderful characters into this beautiful story. When I see this book in a store or a library I will hug it. I can’t hug Sal so I will give the book a good squeeze and try not to cry in public. But, it will not be something I recommend blindly to elementary students to read on their own. Instead, I’ll recommend it to all of you and keep it in my back pocket to recommend to any specific child that needs to know Sal’s story.

Have you ever read a book like this? One that is for the child inside of us but not really a children’s book?

 

Fantasy · fiction

Throwback Thursday June 13, 2017

throwbackthursday

Throwback Thursday was started by Renee at ItsBookTalk.com to showcase books that were published over a year ago and have been languishing on your to be read shelf. I actually found her throwback because she did a lovely feature of Sophie Kinsella’s Twenties Girl for today’s post. We all know I am obsessed with Kinsella!

MY PICK: Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway.

AngelmakerThis book was first published in 2012 and I read it that year and again in 2015. This is the book I recommend to my friends with the caveat: give it timeAngelmaker is a delightfully weird book full of beautiful prose about Joe Spork. Joe is a clockwork repairman, just as his grandfather was. What he isn’t – and refuses to be – is like his father Matthew. Matthew was the head of organized crime named his son his successor. But, Joe has been avoiding this life and hiding from his criminal legacy in the quiet tidiness of clocks.

One day, he is asked to repair a mechanical book and sets into motion a terrible device that changes the course of his life. As he races to stop the machine he inadvertantly brought to life he must rely on friends, old and new, for help.

This book. Savor it. This is not a beach read, this is a world you visit slowly because you only get to live in it for a bit. It is full of wonderful characters and secrets. But, it does take time. I am reminded of a rollercoaster with books like this. It takes time to get in, safely strapped, and then there is that boring click, click, click while you climb the hill. But, just when you think you are going to get stuck this book, like a rollercoaster, takes you roaring through an adventure.

not a review

Pet Peeve Resolved!

How many of us have been standing in the bookstore or library trying desperately to discern which book is next in a series only to be thwarted by a sale sticker or barcode? And what is up with some of the insane publishers who do not feel like adding a numeral to the cover? Then you look inside the jacket and try to figure it out. It’s no help! Finally, we pull out our trusty phones and head to a reputable bookseller website or Goodreads only to accidentally have a spoiler pop up! Can you tell this is a pet peeve of mine?

frustrated

Recently, one of my followers, Ann, suggested I read the new Bryant and May. I adored the first two in the Peculiar Crimes division so I tried to request it from the library. I was shocked at how many had been written that I had missed. I could not tell at all which was the newest without scrolling through pages of covers and synopses. Finally, I Googled, “Bryant and May books in order,” and there across the top of my computer screen were all the books with their publication date.

But, wait. Why doesn’t this work on my phone? Possibly, it is because my phone is stupid. Or, its me (also quite possible when technology and I cross swords). All I knew is that there must be an easier way.

Ta-da! There are whole websites and people (angels) devoted to letting the general public know which book comes next in a series. I found three great websites that are now my go-to devices when the 20% off at Barnes and Noble tries to keep me out of the loop.

The first, orderofbooks.com, is a fantastic site. I had a little trouble on my first visit finding the search section but it is right there at both the top and bottom of the right sidebar. Technology wins again! I really like that I can search by character or author or book series title.  This is particularly helpful when you love one series an author writes but not another. This was the most complete and searchable site I have found thus far. If you are looking to purchase the book there are links next to the title that will take you to Amazon. Dangerous…

The second website is from the Mid-Continent Public Library in Missouri. It is specific to Juvenile series and sequels and lists all the books alphabetically by series title, subject, book title or author. There is no search option. But since it is extensive, has multiple avenues to find your series and is specific to juvenile books it is an excellent resource. Some of these books I didn’t even realize were a series!

Finally, I found another fellow blogger out there fighting the good fight against reading books out of order – Graeme at BookSeriesinOrder.com. He lists the books in order by character or author. His site isn’t searchable and, interestingly, the authors are in alphabetical order by first name. But, he has those handy dandy links next to the books ready for purchasing from Amazon.

Now I am ready. Never again will I read something like, “After the death of the character you loved in the book you didn’t read yet, the story continues…”

Am I the only person who has this problem? How do you figure out which book comes next in the series?

 

all ages · Audible · funny

Audible: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book I: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood, Narrated by Katherine Kellgren

AshtonPlaceBook1
Two crouched children and a young woman stand between a line of trees in front of a stately home.

I did a ridiculous amount of driving this week and so I popped in an audiobook to make my travels less arduous. I had read The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood several years ago but I could not remember how it ended. Typically, even a bad audiobook is made easier for me to enjoy when I have already read the book. However, I was surprised to find how delightful this book was as an audiobook! Katherine Kellgren narrates the story in a clipped British accent and gives all of the characters their own voice.

If you are familiar with the story of The Incorrigibles then you know that giving a voice to the children is no easy feat. “The Incorrigibles,” as they are dubbed in this first book, are three children found in the woods of Ashton Place that have been raised by wolves. They are brought into the home of newlyweds, Lord Frederick and Lady Cornelia Ashton, neither of which want anything to do with the raising of the children. So, they hire Miss Penelope Lumley.

This is Miss Lumley’s first position as a professional governess having recently graduated from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females. Thankfully, she is no ordinary governess and seems to be uniquely suited for turning the children from wolves into proper people.

I remember the story as being cute. A large cast of characters is introduced in this first book in order to be used in later stories but there is still an active plot with action and great character development. Also, just as Lemony Snicket does in A Series of Unfortunate Events this this book utilizes functional defining. I could see where parents enjoying this story with children would appreciate this device but it always seemed to interrupt the story for me when employed by Snicket. However, in this book, the author seamlessly uses larger words in sentences and almost in a *wink wink* manner defines them for the audience without loosing the story’s momentum.

But, narrated, the story really comes alive. Especially since the narrator has to howl so much! When she does the voices of the children, softly talking to the governess with their odd and adorable little speech mannerisms I just fell in love with this story.

I was also happy to discover that you can search by narrator on audiophilemagazine.com and now I have over 100 books narrated by Katherine Kellgren to look forward to, including the rest of The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series!

Have you ever experienced this, an audiobook that really brought a book to life?