There was a time I would worry about how clean my house was or how quickly I emptied the dryer and folded my laundry and how busy I looked whenever my in-laws came to visit. This visit, though, my house remains untouched; I re-start my dryer at least three times before I give in and fold the load that has sat for days; and I’m comfortable with my husband’s mother finding me lounging lazily in my reading chair several times throughout the day.

Needless to say this visit is more relaxed, and our relationship has never been stronger. What’s funny is that this transformation didn’t come about from a conscious decision on my part. We didn’t have a big family meeting, nor did we go through intensive therapy.

Turns out, all I needed was George R.R. Martin.

Martin is the author of the insanely popular A Song of Ice and Fire series that – even though I’m about 10 years late in picking up – couldn’t have come at a better time in my life. I’ve found myself so consumed with his work, it has left me little time with any of my other tasks – or keeping up appearances.

I’m only just now starting the fourth book, there are five published so far and I believe he is writing the sixth (Right? There are so many, it’s hard to keep track – and this man doesn’t stop), so I can’t/shouldn’t give a full-fledged book review because, frankly, I can never guess where he’s going with his characters and their storylines.

What I can say, though, is READ THESE BOOKS. If you like strong, well-developed characters, read these books. If you’re a murder-mystery type, read these books. If you like knights and castles and princes and princesses and the treacheries that come with those tales, read these books. If you’re a romantic, read these books. If you like rooting for the underdog, read these books. If you like a little bit of fantasy, read these books. If you like …. Ah, hell, you get the idea.

On my nightstand

Kate Morton, of course. Always Kate Morton. I’ve been smitten with this author since discovering her last fall. Her next novel will be released later this year, and I want to read as much of her work as I can until then. I currently have The House at Riverton in my queue. My queue, of course, is my nightstand, which is stacked with books that I will eventually get to – sometimes the books serve as more of a decoration than anything else, just more things to dust. But they sure are pretty – and useful.

I’m still plodding through Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated. I adore Foer and his unusual style, and I am captivated by Illuminated as well. But I made the mistake of picking up Martin and got lost in the Seven Kingdoms.

Another couple of books I can’t wait to get my mitts on come from local authors. A Paperhouse favorite and University of Idaho professor Kim Barnes recently published her fifth book and third novel, In the Kingdom of Men. Her first two were memoirs, the first of which, Into the Wilderness, nabbed her a nod from the Pulitzer folks. Barnes has a knack for engaging her readers, whether in the form of fiction or memoir, in an extremely personal way and is an absolute delight to chat with in person.




Another favorite, Sherry Jones, just published her third novel Four Sisters, All Queens, and it is already getting some major traction in the literary world and excellent reviews from readers. Not only is Sherry a wonderful writer, immersing herself – and her readers – into the world of historical fiction with breathtaking ease, she is also a spitfire and a joy to meet.

And newly published author and former St. Maries resident Daniel O’Rourke’s first book Unknown Roads is now the centerpiece of our local author shelf. Roads is a collection of short stories that dabbles in a number of genres, including horror, fantasy and sci-fi.

I know it seems that I’ve been slacking with book reviews, and that’s because … well, I have. On my site at least. I’ve been offered an amazing opportunity to write a monthly book review for Meagan Francis at The Happiest Mom, so I’ve been very happy and busy doing so. I’ll be contributing to her site regularly, and the next one should be up shortly. Be sure to check her out often. In the meantime, read our first collaborative effort here.

At bedtime

Alex and I are making a concerted effort to read to our kids – to the four-year-olds specifically – at a level that we want them to aspire to. We’ve read them Mary Pope Osborne’s Tales from the Odyssey, and they were enthralled by the mythical characters and fantastical voyages of Odysseus and his men. (Be sure to check out a review and why I strongly recommend you doing the same for your youngest readers in an upcoming guest post at the Happiest Mom).

That being said, we might have overshot the mark with our current selection, The Phantom Tollbooth. Even though there’s something to be said about cleverly written books, there’s also something to be said about the cleverness being overdone. That’s definitely the case with this book. It is way over our kids’ heads, and too cumbersome and wrought in cutesy puns and plays-on-words for us older readers that the book misses both marks. It might, however, be spot-on for your middle-school-aged reader.

We’re about ready to start them on one my childhood favorites, Charlotte’s Web, and I can’t wait to relive the experience with them. E.B. White’s classic story is a perfect example of a work that is applicable to readers and soon-to-be readers of all skill and interest levels.

 In the man cave

Anyone who knows Alex knows his passion for sports, specifically football. He is a diehard Chicago fan, and we even considered naming one of our children Walter, as in Walter Payton, the best running back in NFL history. So it’s fitting that he would be immersed in the book Sweetness: The Enigmatic Life of Walter Payton, the biography that shows the other side (the, perhaps, not-so-sweet side) of the role model.

Grab a book or two today

All of these books are either on our shelves or in our distributor’s warehouse. Either way, they are available through The Paperhouse. Grab ‘em, and support an independent bookseller. Shop with us … we’d be thrilled to do business with you!

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