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Display Name: Ryner
About me: I'm a tea-drinking library girl, geocacher, blogger, photographer, scrapbooker and Muse fan.
Reading Interests: Historical fiction, fantasy, science, skepticism, romance with real plots, and anything else that catches my eye.

Ryner's Book Lists
Cooking with Kids (7 titles)
Cookbooks with kid-friendly recipes, designed to get your little one interested in how meals are created in the kitchen
Just thaw and enjoy! (22 titles)
Cookbooks designed for the make-ahead or freezer cook
Larger than life: legendary characters (4 titles)
Books I've read and enjoyed about the lives of gods, heroes of folklore and other legendary characters

Another recommended title not available at the library
* In Camelot's Shadow (Zettel)
Across the fabric of time (8 titles)
Books I've read and enjoyed in which time-travel plays a role
Wartime fiction and nonfiction (15 titles)
Books I've read and enjoyed that are set during wartime
Show all 9 booklists by Ryner

Ryner's Comments    
Cover ArtEleanor & Park
by Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor & Park’s friendship begins when Eleanor is unable to find an empty seat on the school bus and Park, with a mutter and a scowl, reluctantly makes room. Day by day, their connection grows, from awkward silence to hushed but animated discussions around comics and music, until they inexplicably find themselves in a relationship. Eleanor is awkward and penniless, living in a dysfunctional family; Park struggles to fit in in his own way as a child of Irish and Korean parents, but he and Eleanor somehow seem to fit together.

Eleanor & Park is a cute, somewhat fluffy read, though with some darker undertones. While the personalities, actions and fears of these two teenagers felt genuine, at times the internal dialogues seemed forced and unreal. However, I considered that it could perhaps be due to how far removed I am myself from the thoughts of a teenager! I think I expected to love the book a bit more than I did, and was for a while leaning toward a three-star rating, but when I recall how enthusiastically I looked forward to my next opportunity to read during my breaks at work, that feeling boosts it up to a solid four.   posted Apr 11, 2014 at 12:03PM

Cover ArtThe Lewis and Clark journals : an American epic of discovery : the abridgment of
by Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-1806)
On May 14, 1804, at the request of President Thomas Jefferson, Captain Meriwether Lewis and Captain William Clark set out on perhaps the greatest overland adventure in United States history. Their charge was to navigate the Missouri River from St. Louis as far as they could, then reach by any means possible the Pacific Ocean. Meanwhile, they would be documenting botanical, ecological, biological, geographical and ethnological and cultural experiences as they met and interacted with the native american tribes and observed the new flora and fauna of the west. The party included thirty-one other individuals, most with military experience, and a few interpreters -- among them the famed Sacagawea. The expedition was tremendously successful, particularly when viewed from the 21st century. They experienced their fair share of travel-related aches and pains, accidental wounds, and diseases such as dysentery, among other things. Lewis himself was unfortunate enough to be shot in the thigh by "friendly fire" (an amusing incident for the reader, but which could just as easily have been tragic). It’s astounding that only one man died -- and he from appendicitis.

At over 400 pages (abridged!), this is a fascinating and incredibly documented adventure story transcribed from the actual diary entries of the expedition members. I rarely found it dry or boring, and suspect that perhaps the slow or uneventful parts were already edited out. English spelling was not yet standardized at the time, and this is evident in some paragraphs where the same word is spelled in a number of different ways, depending apparently on what the writer felt like in the moment. Some of the more intriguing passages involve the interactions between the men and the tribes they meet. Their reception is most often congenial and welcoming, if also a bit wary and, considering what we now know about the United States’ future relations, somewhat disturbing. Lewis and Clark’s inner thoughts are thick with eurocentric superiority punctuated by rare, brief glimpses recognizing a shared humanity.   posted Mar 31, 2014 at 1:39PM

Cover ArtFreddie & me : a coming-of-age (Bohemian) rhapsody
by Dawson, Mike
In his autobiographical graphic novel, Mike Dawson illustrates his boyhood years and his experiences as a transplant from England to New Jersey. More importantly, and nearly as big an influence in his life, he is also a passionate fan of the band Queen. Mike’s recollections of events and interactions in his young life are very often tightly entwined with Queen’s own history and songs.

Freddie & Me especially resonated with me because I, too, am (or at least once was) a Queen "superfan." Mike and I appear to share a number of the same experiences (and frustrations), including being the same age and therefore both being sophomores in high school the morning when we learned of Freddie Mercury’s untimely death. We both regret never having the opportunity to see Queen live, but both saw Queen Paul Rodgers in concert in 2005 as a sort of consolation. We both appreciated "deep" tracks more than the singles that went on to be their greatest hits, and we both had mixed feelings about how the film Wayne’s World brought Queen to the forefront of American teenage consciousness but regretted that no one seemed to appreciate the genius beyond that single song. Finally, on one of Mike’s high school panels he’s wearing a Tommy t-shirt, and I wonder whether he, like me, also went to see that musical.

Having said all that, Freddie & Me may not hold a great deal of appeal to readers who are not fans of Queen or not already followers of the author’s previous work. The more everyday aspects of the story were in themselves not particularly fascinating.   posted Mar 21, 2014 at 9:29AM

Cover ArtLife after life : a novel
by Kate Atkinson
Ursula is born...and dies. In an alternate reality, she is born again, grows a little older, but dies yet again. Over and over. Sometimes she is faintly aware of "past" experiences and is able to make a different choice to avert imminent danger or her own demise; at other times she perishes and must begin her life over and try again. Is fate driving her toward the ultimate task of snuffing out a great evil, and she will be forced to keep trying until she gets it right?

I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. I appreciated the original premise, though the first half was a bit of a downer -- the sense of doom was palpable, and as in a horror film I knew the monster was coming but didn’t know just when it would strike. It also left me with some existential questions: Was Ursula really fated for a heroic act, or was it merely an opportunity that came along as part of her greater existential anomaly? How many lifetimes would it take for one to be utterly tired of one’s own existence?   posted Mar 18, 2014 at 9:20AM

Cover ArtSearching for Tamsen Donner
by Burton, Gabrielle.
Gabrielle Burton has a bit of an obsession with Tamsen Donner, who was the wife of George Donner and a prominent member of the eponymous and tragic Donner Party of 1846. In 1977, as part of her research for a novel she plans to write, Gabrielle packs her husband and five daughters into their station wagon and sets off from Illinois to retrace the steps of Tamsen Donner on her fateful journey West, passing the same landmarks, sleeping where Tamsen slept, and attempting to view the landscape, over 100 years later, through the eyes of those early pioneers.

I especially enjoyed the Burton family’s own travelogue chapters, reminiscient of some other travel adventure memoirs I’ve read, but I think I wished that it the rest had been fleshed out more, and for that reason I struggled with whether to rate it three or four stars. Regardless, it sounds like Gabrielle Burton has an amazing family dynamic and five strong, confident, incredible, kick-ass daughters.   posted Feb 25, 2014 at 12:08PM

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