The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins @penguinrandom

book coverThe Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins will definitely be on my list of favorite books of 2015. Not only does it have a vast fantasy library as the seat of incredible power, but it also centers around both a seemingly doomed quest and an epic conflict of good and evil for control of the world in which the two sides keep melting confoundingly into one another. I hope there is a sequel in the works for 2016!

Carolyn, the main character, is a librarian, but not the tea-sipping, cozy mystery-reading stereotype. There is something disturbingly powerful about her that others – “the Americans” – can sense, but can’t concentrate on long enough to figure out. The book is dark and apocalyptically violent, but allows readers (almost always) to keep a tiny, comforting, glimpse of hope for humanity.

If you like dark contemporary fantasy like American Gods by Neil Gaiman and The Magicians Trilogy by Lev Grossman, you definitely want to read The Library at Mount Char. The publisher describes it this way:

Neil Gaiman meets Joe Hill in this astonishingly original, terrifying, and darkly funny contemporary fantasy.

Disclosure: I read an ARC from the publisher through NetGalley. I see the Highbridge audiobook edition is read by Hilary Huber, one of my favorite narrators, so now I may have to listen to the audiobook, too. Listen to an excerpt here.

Other opinions:
Beth Fish Reads
My Bookish Ways

The Library at Mount Char
Hawkins, Scott
Penguin, June 16, 2015
400 pp.

My Misery-able Month of June @BkClubCare #MiseryRAL

The June Misery Read-along hosted by Care’s Online Book Club  officially ends today!

Stephen King’s Misery was his 14th published book, placing it well within his “early” period. The only other one I’ve read from then is The Shining (for another readalong).

I guess the answer is no. I didn’t know what I was getting into. #MiseryRAL

A photo posted by Laurie C (@baystatera) on

I started out strong, listening to the audio edition of Misery narrated by Lindsay Crouse. An unexpected choice (having a female narrator) – since the book is entirely from the perspective of bestselling popular author Paul Sheldon and takes place half inside his head – but a good one, I thought.

I zipped through the first half, feeling confident that I could take whatever misery King was planning to dish out. After all, I like dark books, and I like books with writers as the main characters, even arrogant SOBs like Paul Sheldon, because under the alcohol and ego and bluster, artists are all tormented, pitiful souls.

I was trying not to listen to the whole thing at once, though, so I took a break. And right after coming back to it, I had to stop again, because I went into shock. Not like Paul in the book, but still.

In the time it took for me to rally – when I was still only halfway through the audio – my download from the library expired, so I read the second half in print, the regular old way, and finished over the weekend.

I can’t really say that I liked the book, because it was pretty sickening at points. I wondered how people snacked while they read the library copy I was reading, which they obviously did, from the stains and spots left on the pages.

By the end, I realized I was gripping the book so tightly that my forearms were starting to hurt. Very suspenseful, even without its being horror in the purist sense (no woo woo).

Check Care’s Misery Round-Up and Playlist and #MiseryRAL on Twitter for different takes on Misery. From what others in the #MiseryRAL told me, the book is different from the movie (which I haven’t seen and don’t plan to watch.)

Misery badge with scared woman's face and #MiseryRAL hashtag

My favorite Stephen King book is still Lisey’s Story! I’d love to listen to it again for a readalong sometime!!

Weekend Cooking: Making Perfect Iced Coffee @SplendidTable #weekendcooking

cover imageAs well as being behind on listening to Misery for the Misery Readalong, I’m behind on listening to my favorite podcasts – including The Splendid Table with Lynne Rossetto Kasper – due to an embarrassing accident involving my beloved, old, slightly cracked iPod Touch; a very shallow back pocket; and a not yet used toilet.*

Since my phone is bulky and doesn’t fit any of my iPod gear or work with the version of iTunes I was using for all my audiobook and podcast listening, I’ve been drowning my sorrows with copious amounts of iced coffee lately. This weekend I decided to break out the specialty coffee I got for Mother’s Day.

pound bag of ground coffee
Pierce Bros. is a locally roasted coffee brand. I received this Iced Coffee Blend as a gift for Mother’s Day.

Last time everyone was home, a family argument broke out  over how we made iced coffee, because I had switched methods without informing my husband. (We’d never win on that TV show where you have to know everything about what the other spouse would say.) I had remembered reading in one of Lynne’s cookbooks that pouring double-strength, hot coffee immediately over ice was the best way to seal in the fresh-brewed flavor, so I started making iced coffee that way last summer, instead of putting freshly brewed coffee directly into the refrigerator, the way I had been doing.

When I looked up the directions for Perfect Iced Coffee in Lynne’s summertime e-book, Eating In with Lynne, Vol. 2, I realized that what I thought she had said to do wasn’t exactly right. Today I followed the actual directions, and was very happy with the results.

ice, coffee, filter
I weighed out the ice, as directed! One-and-a-half pounds. Also 1 cup of coffee, 1 liter of almost-boiling water.
coffee draining through filter onto ice in glass measuring container
The double-strength coffee gets made directly over the ice.
Perfect Iced Coffee!

Click here for the recipe for:
Perfect Iced Coffee from The Splendid Table

Eating In with Lynne, Vol. 2
Kasper, Lynne Rosetto
American Public Media, 2013

Disclosure: I bought this e-book for myself and need to make more recipes from it!

*The rice trick didn’t work – probably because of the crack.

Weekend Cooking buttonThis post is part of Weekend Cooking, a weekly feature on Beth Fish Reads. Click on the image for more Weekend Cooking posts.

Suggestions from a Massachusetts Librarian


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