I Challenge You to a Read-Off!


Summer reading: it’s not just for the kids! Yes, these days your library makes it easy for the whole family to have fun reading all summer long. While we have a great Summer Reading Program (SRP) planned for children and teens, you may be surprised to learn that adults can participate as well. I promise that getting started is quick and painless:

Step 1: Sign up for the reading challenge online starting June 1st.
Step 2: Track your reading progress.
Step 3: Pick up a prize after the 1st, 3rd, and 5th books have been read and logged.

When you complete the final challenge you’ll be entered to win the grand prize, a Kindle Paperwhite! And don’t forget: your library card unlocks thousands of free Kindle downloadable books. All the details can be found on our website. Thanks to the Friends of the Library, who generously donated this year’s prizes.

So what else can you do? If you’d like to try your hand at blogging, write a book review and you may see it published right here on A Reading Life! Maybe my editor will give me the summer off if enough of you write some stellar book reviews. If you’ve seen my list of reading resolutions you can understand how I’d like to spend my summer: getting through some of my tougher reading selections.

If you’re more of a hands-on person, you’ll be interested to learn that we’ll also have some fantastic events that tie in with our theme of Literary Elements. The one I’m most looking forward to is learning home brewing from Don Roberts. Yes, the owner of Everett’s Homebrew Heaven will be at the Main Library June 17th at 7pm, ready and willing to teach us how to create our own craft brews at home. Finally, I can join the ranks of my idol Wil Wheaton–at least in terms of home brewing.

literary not literal twins

Staff have gotten on board as well, a few of us going so far as to purchase Literary Elements T-shirts to promote this awesome reading opportunity. Be sure to stop by and tell us how it’s going. After all, I’ve challenged you, a worthy opponent to a read-off. You’ll definitely want to brag.

Reviews from the Adult Summer Reading Challenge


The Adult Summer Reading program continues to be a great success here at the library. Many of you have participated and received some great prizes. Some, however, have gone to the extra effort of writing a review to let us know what they think of their reading choices. Below are a few selected reviews that we are publishing on A Reading Life to share. Thanks to all of you who have participated so far.

Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini (Reviewed by Karen S.)

mrslincolnsdressmakerThis book is about Elizabeth Keckley. She was born a slave, but purchased her freedom and became a dressmaker. Elizabeth sewed dresses for important ladies in Washington D.C. and became Mary Lincoln’s personal dressmaker. They became close friends during the Civil War, and this book really focuses on their friendship. I am a fan of this author and enjoyed this story, which is different from Jennifer Chiaverini’s other books. If you enjoy books about people during the Civil War, you’ll enjoy this one.

In Bed with a Highlander by Maya Banks (Reviewed by Shelley W.)

inbedwithahighlanderThe cover of this book does not reflect the book very well which is a good thing actually. The story focuses on a young woman, Mairin, who has lived in an abbey in Scotland for 10 years. She is the only living heir of the King and is abducted from the abbey, escapes the keep of a ruthless lord only to be rescued and forced into a marriage with Ewan McCabe, a commanding savior. Set in the 1700s this historical romance has a good storyline with a little “spice”. I enjoyed it enough to check out the sequel Seduction of a Highland Lass.

Dakota by Kathleen Norris (Reviewed by Kathryn J.)

dakotaThis memoir of Kathleen Norris’ move to her grandmother’s farm-house on the border of North and South Dakota showcases her roots as a poet and her transition to writing on spirituality. In chapters alternating between short “weather reports” and long philosophical and historical essays, she weaves together themes of economic hardship, isolation, and the changing landscape of the Great Plains. Her transformation is helped by the hospitality of a Benedictine cloister which she creatively compares to the rural communities of the Dakotas.  I particularly enjoyed her somewhat random storytelling of marginalized people and places, bringing forth the richness of their chosen simplicity.

How Computers Work by Ron White (Reviewed by Cindy F.)

howcomputersworkSince I don’t know much about computers, this was a great read. It was written really well and was easy to understand. It also had great illustrations that made it easy to follow along. Tons and tons of information and touched on so many subjects. If you want to learn about computers, this helps so much. Really liked it.

The Goth Bible by Nancy Kilpatrick (Reviewed by Diane T.)

gothbibleThis is an extremely well written book! The author has created something that is for both kids and parents. It strikes a balance when dealing with information. Nancy not only covered the basics, but went to several goths around the world and added their input. Granted, the book is 9 years old, but it is still worth a peek if you are curious about the many facets of the goth lifestyle.

Summer Reading Program 2013: Dig Into Reading

Embedded Frog lilly pad

The first Summer Reading Program I remember participating in was when I went with my two sisters to spend the summer with Uncle Carl and Aunt Gladys in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. What magical memories I have of going to the library with Aunt Gladys each Tuesday to get new books. I was so excited to keep track of my progress and earn my prizes!

I still have the reading log. It was an under the sea theme which seems odd for such a land-locked state, doesn’t it?  I’ve lost the wonderful little clay animals that you were allowed to make after completing each reading column, but vividly recall them: a grey-blue clay dolphin, complete with little hand squeeze marks, a sand dollar and, of course, a fish. Even though my treasures are lost, I keep them in my mind as a happy memory.

How about creating some happy memories for your child or even yourself this summer? It’s time for everyone, young and those also not as young, to sign up for Everett Public Library’s Summer Reading Program. We have programs for the read-to-me set, young readers, teens and even adults! The theme for 2013 is ‘Dig into Reading’.


Summer reading begins the instant school ends and that was last week for the Everett School District. That means you can start your reading log on the first day of summer vacation. For each column completed, bring your reading log to the library to receive a prize courtesy of our sponsors. Prizes are available while supplies last. The summer reading prizes are made possible by the Friends of the Everett Public Library, AFSCME Local 113, Rotary Club of Everett, Rodland Toyota, Subway, Taco Time and Masonic Lodge #95 F & AM.

Summer reading at the Everett Public Library also offers programs and activities designed to inspire children’s creativity and imagination. This summer’s programming is sure to excite children with the varied offerings, which include everything from musical concerts and puppet shows to themed story times and Wednesday ‘crafternoons’. Programs begin in June. Some of the highlights will be a Nancy Stewart concert Saturday, July 27th at both libraries, and the super fun ‘Dig into Art’ (‘crafternoon’)  craft time at the Main Library at 3 PM on Wednesday afternoons.

Everett Public Library’s 2013 summer schedule  is available online. This is where children can find activities just for them! Copies of the Reading Program brochures are available at both library locations.

Everett Public Library is dedicated to providing educational programming for youth during the summer months, helping keep children engaged in reading and in their communities while out of school. Summer reading programs are designed for children to have positive learning experiences and to encourage reading as a lifelong habit.

I read Dr. Seuss and Are You My Mother? and other such literary tomes during that long-ago summer in Iowa. This summer I have quite a long list of books to enjoy including: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, Bring up the Bodies also by Hilary Mantel (Thanks, Eileen, for the suggestions), The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

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Some titles I’ve read recently and can recommend for your (adult) summer list include: The Language of Flowers by Victoria Diffenbaugh, Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple, and Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris (for a little chuckle).

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If you’d like to help a child find age appropriate and exciting reads this summer, check out these lists from the American Library Association.

There’s no need to go all the way to Iowa to enjoy summer reading. Join me in creating more happy summer reading memories right here in Everett!


Take the Adult Summer Reading Challenge

diginto1“Groundbreaking Reads” is the theme for Everett Public Library’s 2013 Adult Summer Reading Challenge. Groundbreaking books of the reader’s choice, including fiction or nonfiction, new or not-so-new releases, can be explored. Or if you prefer, pick up some music CDs, a movie or an audio book. The library has them, as well.

Registration began June 1. The program is open to those age 17 and older and will run through August 31.

Visit a local branch library to register and pick up a book log. More information about the challenge is on epls.org/asr. Don’t forget about the prizes!

  • After reading your first book, you are eligible to receive a peat pot with seeds
  • After reading your third book, you are eligible to receive a 2 for 1 coupon for Bookend Coffee Co.
  • After reading your fifth book, you are eligible to receive a Friends of the Library key chain or a “I read between the covers” window cling
  • After reading your seventh book, you are eligible to receive a Friends of the Library tote bag.

Registration in the challenge is also an entry for one of four grand prizes:

If you want to share your thoughts on the books you’ve read this summer, you are encouraged to submit short reviews. You can get book review forms at the main library or the Evergreen branch as well as online. We will publish select reviews right here on A Reading Life (as well as on the Everett Herald website). Book reviews will be accepted at all library branches June 3 through Aug. 31. 

But that’s not all. Be sure to mark your calendar to attend a program. There are two designed with the Groundbreaking theme in mind which are free and at the Main Library:

Kimberly-clarkUnearthing Kimberly Clark:  2 p.m. on Saturday, June 15th – As it was being demolished the Kimberly-Clark plant was often described as the last vestige of Everett’s smokestack heritage. But centered in the very heart of the city’s bay front industrial corridor, the site has connections stretching all the way back to the region’s tribal past, the earliest peninsular homesteads and the coming of the railroad. Everett Public Library historian David Dilgard will take us on an exploration of pictures and maps that reveal the many-faceted story of this key spot in the life of “The City of Smokestacks.”


Getting the Dirt on Dirt:  10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 22nd – All dirt is not created equal.  Learn what it takes to maximize the growth potential of your soil. Master Gardener Sandy DeLisle will show you how to create compost from yard or food waste. One lucky participant will take home the demonstration worm bin. 

Sponsors for the 2013 adult summer reading challenge include: Friends of the Library, and Bookend Coffee Company.

Dig Into Reading today!


Summer Reading Reviews: The Final Chapter

The kindle has been given away, the prizes are almost at an end, and there is no denying that fall is just around the corner. Don’t despair just yet though. We still have several great reviews to highlight here from the Adult Summer Reading Challenge. Thanks to all who participated this year, and especially to those of you who sent in reviews. They were a pleasure to read and it was hard to choose just a few to publish.

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (Reviewed by Shannon R.)

I picked up this book because I love baseball, but I kept reading because I was intrigued by the characters, and wanted to learn more. The Art of Fielding plays against the backdrop of a small college, as a baseball prodigy leaves his small town for the first time to pursue dreams of playing at the next level with the team’s catcher and veteran leader. Soon, the significance of other characters emerge – his roommate, the college president, and his daughter. As the characters field challenges in their own lives and in their interplay with one another, they change each other in surprising ways. The story unfolds slowly, reminiscent of a John Irving novel, but gains momentum until it builds to a dramatic and satisfying conclusion.

The Years of Lyndon Johnson: The Passage of Power by Robert Caro (Reviewed by Diane W.)

Anyone who thinks presidential politics today are unique in their intrigue, money sources or sheer political invective needs to read this biographer’s multi-volume life of our 36th president, Lyndon Johnson. Scorned for his Texas manners, underestimated and dismissed by his critics, they missed the enduring contributions of this towering figure. On his watch were passed some of the most important legislation in U.S. history, including Medicare, Medicaid, Head Start and other achievements of the War on Poverty and the Great Society. The National Endowment for the Arts and the Johnson Space Center, home of NASA, developed with his strategic support. This volume also deals with the Kennedy assassination with page turning novelistic urgency. One final volume is to come in this brilliant series.

The Affair by Lee Child (Reviewed by Donald S.)

A great beach read! Loner and tough guy Jack Reacher, Army MP Investigator, travels to Mississippi to investigate murders near a remote army base. He never brings more than a toothbrush, never stays in one place very long, but always ends up in the thick of things. If you have to put this book down do it in the middle of a chapter, because the cliff hanger at the end of each will keep you turning pages in this fast paced book.

Wild Thing by Josh Bazell (Reviewed by Laura N.)

Graphic, funny, and fast paced, I could not put this book down. (Note: Those who are not a fan of “explicit” language will not be amused.) I had picked this up on a whim only to find it suited my summer reading mood perfectly. The framework of the plot owes deeply to Elmore Leonard’s work, but think of this as the 21st century version. I read this one first, but am looking forward to its predecessor, Beat the Reaper.

The Future Remembered: The 1962 Seattle World’s Fair And Its Legacy by Paula Becker (Reviewed by Colleen M.)

Seattle City Councilman Al Rochester’s idea of a major world fair began in the early 1950’s, and by the end of the decade it had gained enthusiastic support from business and community leaders, as well as from the public.

Seattle lacked a civic center to serve all of its neighborhoods, particularly for  entertainment, the arts, and sports.  Building such a center would necessitate the demolition of hundreds of homes and other structures.  A world’s fair afforded the city the opportunity to do just that.

When the USSR launched Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite, in October 1957,  the nation was propelled into the space age.  It was only natural that the fair turn its focus to modern science and space exploration.  Whereas earlier fairs commemorated the past, Seattle’s commemorated the future.

Scores of songs were composed to welcome visitors to the fair.  Many were rejected, but the most ‘official’ song was “Meet Me In Seattle (At The Big World’s Fair)”.  Fair officials heard it at the debut of lounge singers Joy and the Boys, and gave it their approval.

On April 21, 1962,  President Kennedy officially opened the fair using a gold-encrusted telegraphic key that had been used by President Taft at Seattle’s Yukon-Alaska Exposition in 1909.  The fair drew millions of visitors and celebrities during the next six months.

I was a young adult living in downtown Seattle in 1962; it was nearly impossible to ignore the energy and excitement that had radiated through the city.  I actually liked the catchy tune and lyrics of the fair’s song – “meet me in Seattle, that’s where I’ll be at I’ll meet you in Seattle at the fair”.

This book is a beautiful collection of narrative, photos, illustrations, and memories of an amazing event that put Seattle on the map and changed it forever.  Large, with glossy pages, it is a perfect gift.  I received it on my birthday last month; it now sits on my coffee table.

More of What You’re Reading this Summer

We are half way through the Adult Summer Reading Challenge and the great reviews keep coming in. Here is a small selection of the latest thoughtful critiques by participants. Take a look at what your fellow readers are enjoying. Thanks to all of those who have submitted reviews so far and stay tuned for more reviews to come.

An Untamed Land by Lauraine Snelling (Reviewed by Karen S.)

This book is the first in a series about a family of Norwegian immigrants to the Dakota Territory in the 1880’s. You get a real feel for what it was like for these settlers. The author did a great job of detailing their trials and triumphs in the new land. It is hard to put down these books. I really enjoyed reading about the day-to-day challenges that faced these characters. As I read this and the following stories in the series, I look forward to seeing how these families survive.

Boy Meets Girl by Meg Cabot (Reviewed by Anastasia B.)

Kate Mackenzie has had a lot of bad luck lately: she broke up with her boyfriend who refuses to commit, she has nowhere to live (except her friends couch) and her horrible boss is forcing her to fire one of the most well liked people in the company. Now the fired employee is suing and Kate is right in the middle and is getting closer and closer to her defense attorney. When Kate is fired for telling the truth, which paints her boss in the wrong, her friends rally around her. This book is written as a series of emails, instant messages, journal entries, and phone messages. I didn’t think I would like this style of writing, but it was surprisingly good. This book has made me want to read more from Meg Cabot.

The Myth of Choice by Kent Greenfield (Reviewed by Cynthia W.)

This is a really great non-fiction choice for book discussion groups. The author, a law professor, elaborates on the ideas of free choice, consent, voluntary action and the many legal political and social issues that turn upon these concepts. The history of the development of these ideas in America is explored; the various sides of each debate are explained. Later chapters are devoted to developing personal strategies and considerations for better decision making, ideas for utilizing natural tendencies in public policy and suggestions for helping young people become more aware decision makers. The book is well written for a lay audience and is relatively free of legal jargon. The nuances of closely related terms and concepts are clearly delineated but the language does not come across as overly scholarly or stuffy. 

Shine by Lauren Myracle (Reviewed by Darcia R.)

Shine is the story of a hate crime in a small town. It is told from the perspective of the victim’s best friend as she tries to figure out who hurt her friend. The author does a good job with the character descriptions. By the end you even feel a connection with the bad guys. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a compelling story of friendship.

The White Mary: A Novel by Kira Salak (Reviewed by Ellen S.)

The White Mary by Kira Salak is at once an intense adventure, a romantic travelogue and a study of the characters of the four main players in this epic novel. Set in Papua New Guinea, “White Mary” is pidgin for a white woman, in this case journalist Marika Veccara, who is searching for the Pulitzer prize winning foreign correspondent Robert Lewis. Getting to know and appreciate Merika, her lover Sebastian, her obsession Robert Lewis and her native guide is a large part of the enjoyment I got from this excellent book. I highly recommend it!

Adult Summer Reading Reviews

We are only a few weeks into the Adult Summer Reading Challenge and have all ready received many great book reviews. It was hard to choose, but here are five thoughtful reviews for you to ponder. Many thanks to the writers and stay tuned for more published reviews as the summer progresses.

Bootlegger’s Daughter by Margaret Maron   (Reviewed by Glendha L.)

Deborah Knott has decided to run for district judge in Colleton County, NC and is smack-dab in the middle of the good-ole boys’ network. In the midst of her campaign, she is persuaded to investigate an 18-year-old murder that puts her in the big middle of old secrets. This, in turn, causes someone to use smear tactics to defeat her election to the bench. And this only serves to make her more determined to find out “who dunnit”! This mystery is so well written and so seamlessly smooth, it was almost impossible to put it down long enough to fill my coffee cup. Hurray for Margaret Maron– keep those mysteries comin’ girlfriend!

Insurgent by Veronica Roth   (Reviewed by Sarah L.)

Insurgent is Roth’s second book in the Divergent series, which follows the actions of Beatrice Prior (Tris) in a futuristic Chicago. The society is divided into 5 sections (factions) – Erudite, Amity, Abnegation, Dauntless, and Candor, and also contains the factionless; those who do not fit within a faction, or who left their faction. Tris and her friends must find out why Erudite has begun to destroy the members of the other factions, mainly Abnegation, without becoming victims themselves. Although the overall plot was a bit predictable, the ending was not what I expected it to be. I also enjoyed Tris as a strong main character, who shows her age of 16 as she learns more about herself and others throughout the book. It was refreshing to find characters who focused on helping others before themselves, rather than acting in a self-serving manner.

The Murder of Jim Fisk for the Love of Josie Mansfield by H.W. Brands   (Reviewed by Curt E.)

Jim Fisk’s life and death in the aftermath of the Civil War in New York is the subject of this short history monograph. Written for a popular audience rather than historians, the study tells the story of Fisk’s stock manipulations and business dealings in concert with Jay Gould and Boss Tweed. It shows how their actions and Fisk’s relationship with a young woman in her early twenties, Josie Mansfield, lead to his murder by Ned Stokes, the third in the love triangle.

The Murder of King Tut by James Patterson   (Reviewed by Jolyn Y.)

This book is about the search and eventual finding of King Tut’s tomb and the cause of his death. I have always been interested in Egyptology and in particular King Tut’s mystery. This book proffers a plausible explanation, based on current scientific research, as to the life and death of King Tut. It is very well written and leads to a very possible conclusion that involves a conspiracy of murder. A very interesting read, full of facts woven into an intriguing story.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon   (Reviewed by Sue T.)

The central plot is about a young boy who comes across a book that enthralls him and follows his efforts to uncover the mystery of its author and why someone else is trying to obtain the book in order to burn it.  This book has a little bit of it all – mystery, thriller, romance, history, and humor. It is well-written and the author is a captivating storyteller.  However, about half way through, all the complicated and detailed back stories start to weigh it down and take away from the story. In addition, after a masterful buildup throughout the book with lots of plot twists and turns, everything is explained in a long letter at the end, which is somewhat of a letdown. Still, overall, the book is an enjoyable read.