Blog Tour: Death on West End Road – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

Large Banner: Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents: Death on West End Road by Carrie Doyle - June 19-June 30, 2017 - banner includes the author's photo and the book cover

Today I’m happy to be bringing you a stop on the Great Escapes Virtual Book Tour for Death on West End Road by Carrie Doyle. My post today consists of an interview with Ms. Doyle.  There will be the requisite links to purchase the book at the end of this post!

First of all, a massive “Thank you!” to Ms. Doyle for being willing to answer my questions. I tend to ask questions with multiple parts and she didn’t back away from any of it! Okay, on to our questions and answers.

Question #1:  Do you have a day job in addition to being a writer? If so, what do you do during the day?  Do you enjoy your day job?

Ms. Doyle’s Answer: I run a small press called Dunemere Books with my sister, author Liz Carey and a friend Tiffany Palmer. We publish destination fiction with a strong sense of place in the mystery, YA and middle grade categories. We focus primarily on series.


Question #2: Do you set aside time to write every day or do you write more sporadically? When you write, do you aim to complete a set # of pages or words? How does music/other noise affect your concentration when you’re writing?

Ms. Doyle’s Answer: When I am writing a book I try to write every weekday. I work at the New York Society Library in the quiet room. I usually write for three hours. But if I’m on a deadline I write at home. I can go into hyper-focus and ignore the noise around me quite well actually, as long as my sons and husband don’t bother me! It’s actually usually my dogs who tend to get in my way because they like to sit next to me and lick my fingers when I am typing.


Question #3: When you’re writing, do your characters seem to “hijack” the story or do you feel like you have the “reigns” of the story? Similarly, do you outline your book first or just sit down and write, seeing where it takes you?

Ms. Doyle’s Answer: There are some characters that just write themselves. I feel like my body and fingers are a conduit for Larry Lipper, who is a crime reporter in my books. He is very politically incorrect and a childish narcissist, and I like to think that I am not, so he truly speaks through me. I usually do a rough outline and then set off from there. It is always exciting when you are stumped by something and then reread your draft and realize you had subconsciously laid down clues to that question all along and the answer is so obvious.


Question #4: How did you break into the publishing world? How many rejections did you go through before finding a publisher? Did you ever think about quitting? If so, what did you do to keep yourself hopeful?

Ms. Doyle’s Answer: I’ve been rejected hundreds of times. Literally. Not just for my books but for my screenplays and my film pitches. I started as a screenwriter with Jill Kargman (now the star of her own show called Odd Mom Out on Bravo) and we used to go and pitch all of the studios, all of the networks and all of the production companies all the time. We had to come up with original takes on movies or shows or create our own. We had people tell us it was the best pitch they ever heard and then never return our agent’s call. We had studio executives tell us they would love to work with us and they thought our pitch was the best but they would rather work with a male writing team because ‘they were so cute.’ Rejection really propels me, though, and perhaps I am a masochist. In the very beginning I was dissuaded but now it makes me take on the attitude, ‘I’ll show them.’ And things don’t have to be done in the traditional manner anymore. Despite the fact that my books were on seven bestseller lists and translated into 9 languages and I was on the “Today Show” and featured in dozens of magazines I had a difficult time finding a publisher for my mystery books. Rejections all around. So I just co-founded my own small press with two partners and raised money and hired editors, copy editors, designers and publicists who are on staff at the big publishing houses to freelance for us at Dunemere Books. I see it as taking control of not only my work, but the type of books I want to see published. I feel excited every time we commission another author’s book.


Question #5: In general, how many revisions do you go through before a book is published? Do you have beta readers or is it just your editing team and their suggestions? Do you set your books aside for a period of time and then pick them up and edit them?

Ms. Doyle’s Answer: I probably go through three revisions. I have two editors that read everything I write then I have another editor and a copy editor. I do think it helps when you let a book percolate. It doesn’t always mean that I will put down a book for a while, although I usually do for a month, but sometimes when I get the idea for my next book I let it germinate in my mind for several months.

 


Question #6:  A good villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain(s) to write this book. Was there a real-life inspiration for him/her/it?

Ms. Doyle’s Answer: In my latest book, DEATH ON WEST END ROAD, I actually feel like there are several villains. In this book my heroine Antonia Bingham investigates a cold case—the murder of sixteen-year-old Susie Whitaker who was bludgeoned to death with a tennis racket. Often in cold cases, there are people who know a lot more than they say and that can make them complicit, especially if they never stepped forward. Silence can make you guilty just as much as if you actually committed the murder.

I think the best villains are the most innocuous people. On ‘Law and Order” they always would interview the next-door neighbor who would describe the suspect as ‘a quiet, every day guy.’ It’s the ‘every day guys’ who are the most chilling.


Question #7: Do any family members, friends, colleagues, acquaintances, etc. end up showing up in your work or are your characters all truly fictional?

Ms. Doyle’s Answer: Not really. When I wrote ‘gossip lit’ there were people who thought they were portrayed in my book and were offended, so I make sure not to write about anyone I know. It’s funny, though, someone recently said to me that they know who every one in my first two mystery books is based on and I thought, really? Because I don’t. Sometimes you take little bits from people’s backstories but it is always a compilation.


Question #8: If you could write about anyone fiction/nonfiction, contemporary/historical who would you write about? Why?

Ms. Doyle’s Answer: I’m also a journalist so I like doing profiles of people. I would really like to write nonfiction and perhaps a biography on some major business people—like in the way Walter Isaacson wrote about Steve Jobs. But those books are so daunting because there is so much research and you have to be so careful. I just read Alec Baldwin’s new autobiography and I wished I had been his editor or ghost-writer. There were so many holes in the book and I was left with more questions than answers. When a biography or autobiography is done well it is so exciting. I really liked Mia Farrow’s What Falls Away and Andre Agassi’s Open. I’d love to co-author a book like that.


Question #9: What are some great books you’ve read recently?

Ms. Doyle’s Answer: I just read The Rosie Project and LOVED it! Loved. I laughed, I cried, I devoured it. I gave it to my husband and one of my son’s who also loved it. I highly recommend it. I recently read Alafair Burke’s The Ex, which was a fast exciting read.


Question #10: What books have influenced your life the most?

Ms. Doyle’s Answer: I think one of the most important things is timing when it comes to books. Sometimes you read books too early—like I wonder why my school had me reading Madame Bovary in ninth grade, what did I know about discontented housewives and adultery—and sometimes you read them at the very perfect time. I was a Russian Language and Literature Major at Barnard College and read a lot of the great Russian novels during that time. In the fall of my senior year my father died. A few weeks later my family went skiing in Vermont with my aunt and uncle. I would ski all day then come home and read War and Peace by Tolstoy. It was the perfect setting, the perfect time in my life and the perfect book to transport me away from everything. It is one of my favorite books to this day.

Other favorite books are Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen; The Secret History by Donna Tartt; The Alienist by Caleb Carr; Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow; Big, Little Lies by Liane Moriarty; Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin and The Black Echo by Michael Connelly


Question #11: If you could spend one day with a character from your book who would it be? And what would you do during that day?

Ms. Doyle’s Answer: I would spend the day with Marty, who is the chef who runs the kitchen under Antonia at her The Windmill Inn. A kitchen veteran, a military veteran, and a no-nonsense guy who possesses a lot of culinary skills, Marty is someone who you could learn a lot from. I am a big fan of cooking—Top Chef is my favorite TV show—and I fancy myself a wannabe chef. I worked at The Barefoot Contessa—Ina Garten’s gourmet food store—in college but I never worked in a restaurant. I would love to learn how to execute the line, and learn proper knife skills. I think Marty could teach me all that. Although, he would be tough so I would really have to be on my toes!


Question #12: Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Have you ever learned anything from a bad review and incorporated it into your future work?

Ms. Doyle’s Answer: I read most of my reviews, yes. When the book is new for sure I read all. Sometimes I go back and look at what people are saying about my older books on Goodreads and on Amazon. My early books were very polarizing: people either loved them or hated them. And that’s fine; they are not everyone’s cup of tea. It didn’t hurt my feelings if I received one star for those because that just meant the reader completely doesn’t respond to me. The more interesting reviews are the three star out of five reviews, and you can really learn from those. I took a lot of the constructive criticism from my first two Hamptons Murder Mystery books, and incorporated those notes into my latest books. Now there will be—and actually already are—some people who loved the first two books and wished I hadn’t made changes but I had to experiment. Some people thought the first two books were too long and had too much description so I streamlined this book and made it more procedural. I’m interested to hear what people think. I can always go back to longer and more descriptive books for the next one!

 

Author’s Links

Book Cover: Death on West End Road - a Hamptons Murder Mystery by Carrie Doyle. Background is beige with little white dots, there's hydrangea flowers, a tea pot and a glass of liquid with lemon slices

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Thank you for joining me today for an interview with Carrie Doyle! And thank you to Ms. Doyle for being willing to answer my questions! If you wish to visit any of the other stops on the tour, click on the banner below and it will take you to the main tour page which lists all stops!

Medium Banner - Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours Presents Death on West End Road by Carrie Doyle - June 19-June 30, 2017 - banner includes a picture of the cover of the book.

Summer festivities and joy in life

We’re a week into our large Summer Game here at Ann Arbor District Library (the library I work for) and it’s off to a great start!

It’s wonderful to see kiddos and adults alike who are excited and having fun they’re just so joyful! 🙂 To me, the difference between being joyful and just being happy is how much it reflects in the eyes. A kiddo or an adult who’s having a fun time and is happy is still smiling and giggling/laughing, but it doesn’t always resonate in their eyes. When they’re joyful, it just lights up their whole face, including their eyes.

It’s not something I tend to see much during the school year. The school year is more seriousness and less joyful. But the minute school is out and the Summer Game starts (it starts the same day school lets out usually), the serious faces melt into joyful ones and it’s lovely to see.

While I love the Summer Game, I’ve found that I’m not quite as gung-ho about feeling like I must have all the points and be at the top of the leaderboard as I used to be. I found that being that driven took some of the fun out of it for me. Since above all, the Summer Game is supposed to be fun, I’ve scaled back my competitiveness to make it more fun for me.

I was working in the youth department this evening and it was fun to see all the kiddos that came through looking for the codes that are in the building (see my previous post about Summer Game for more explanation of codes and points). I was also thrilled to be able to help a mom encourage her children to read by letting her know that every minute they spend reading, they can enter those minutes they’ve recorded into the Summer Game system and they get 1 point per minute and an extra 100 points for finishing a book! It made me want to share the joy and happiness with all of my readers.

It reminded me how lovely the little things are and how much joy they can contribute to our lives. I had opportunities to snuggle with my adorable niece and sweet nephew individually today before work and it was just lovely. It made some of the not-so-great parts of today’s work day less annoying and easier to deal with. 🙂 Those little munchkins are part of the joy in my life and I’m grateful to have them and grateful they live nearby.

What are the little things in your life that bring you joy?

 

swirls of colors - red, pink, green, yellow, turquoise, etc. and a yellow smiley face in the lower left corner

 

Once Upon a Spine – REVIEW

5 out of 5 stars.

I’m thrilled to be reviewing Once Upon a Spine by Kate Carlisle today! Once Upon a Spine is the 11th book in the Bibliophile Mystery series and it surpassed Ripped from the Pages as my favorite in the series!

Book Cover: Once Upon a Spine: A Bibliophile Mystery by Kate Carlisle - background is the front window of a bookshop - in the foreground are a wrought iron table and chair with a teapot & cups/saucers on the table along with a cat. On the chair is a copy of "Alice in Wonderland"

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line of books - some stacked, some standing, some leaning - books are blue, brown, red, green, and yellow
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Synopsis

San Francisco bookbinder Brooklyn Wainwright stumbles through the looking glass in a tale of murder, rare books, and a quest for the perfect pie.

Brooklyn’s oh-so-proper future in-laws are traveling from England to meet her, and if that’s not enough to set her on edge, rumors abound that the charming Courtyard Shops across the street may be replaced by high-rise apartments. Their trendy neighborhood will be ruined unless Brooklyn and her fiancé, Derek Stone, can persuade the shopkeepers not to sell.

But with a rare edition of Alice in Wonderland causing bad blood at the Brothers Bookshop and a string of petty vandalism making everyone nervous, Brooklyn and Derek feel like they’re attempting six impossible things before breakfast. Then the owner of the Rabbit Hole juice bar is felled by his own heavy shelves, and the local cobbler lies dead beside him. An accident . . . or something more sinister? Things get curiouser and curiouser when a second priceless copy of Alice is discovered. Will it stir up more trouble within the close-knit community?

As the Brits descend, Brooklyn learns they’re not so stuffy after all. Derek’s dad is won over with chocolate cream pie, and his psychic mum would kill to help Brooklyn solve this murder before another victim takes a tumble.

line of books - some stacked, some standing, some leaning - books are blue, brown, red, green, and yellow
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Review

Once Upon a Spine is absolutely delightful! Kate Carlisle has worked her magic once again and provided us with a fun-filled mystery with down-to-earth characters, exciting plots, and fascinating sub-plots!

This is one of my favorite cozy mystery series and it’s because I just absolutely love the characters. Brooklyn and Derek are one of my favorite fictional couples and they always come with a host of lovable, quirky secondary characters. This book is no exception as we meet Derek’s parents for the first time. They’re just as fun-loving and quirky as Brooklyn’s parents and the two sets get along wonderfully!

We learn about a new area of Brooklyn & Derek’s neighborhood in this book. The setting descriptions were terrific. I was able to imagine the area thoroughly and yet I didn’t feel like Ms. Carlisle had gone overboard in her descriptions.

The book pace is steady to semi-fast. I felt that it moved along faster than other books in the series, but it wasn’t so fast that you get confused about what’s happening. The prose flows well from one section to another without awkward transitions.

All in all, this book is absolutely wonderful! I HIGHLY recommend it, but if you’re new to the series, I suggest starting with the first book, Homicide in Hardcover, as it will provide you with much-needed back story on the interpersonal relationships of the series. Check it out today!

line of books - some stacked, some standing, some leaning - books are blue, brown, red, green, and yellow
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Mini Reviews – Bibliophile Mystery Series – Set #3

Welcome to the next set of mini reviews for Kate Carlisle’s Bibliophile Mystery series! You can find the first set of mini reviews here and the second set of mini reviews here. This set includes books eight (8) thru eleven (11). Number eleven (11), is the newest of the Bibliophile Mystery series, Once Upon a Spine.

Book Cover: The book stops here - room full of antiques - rocking horse, globe, telephone on top of a book shelf, trunk, and a chair and ottoman with books on them including a copy of 'The Secret Garden' - small orange and white tabby kitten is sitting on the ottoman.Book #8 – The Book Stops Here – 4.5 out of 5 stars

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This is one of my favorites out of the series. Number one, it includes one of my all-time favorite books, “The Secret Garden”, but number two, I also really enjoyed the mystery surrounding the book. I learned a little more about Frances Hodgson Burnett than I knew before and I just enjoyed the story line.

 

Ripped from the Pages book cover - Winery tasting room with wine bottle cubbies along the sides, bottles of wine on a countertop along with a cheese platter, books, and a small orange & white kitten

Book # 9 – Ripped from the Pages – 5 out of 5 stars

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I actually wrote a review for “Ripped from the Pages”. It’s one of my earlier reviews, so it’s perhaps not as full as some of my more recent reviews, but you can find it here. In short, it’s my favorite in the series so far (although the newest, Once Upon a Spine, is jousting with it for that coveted spot of “favorite”).

 

Book Cover: Books of a Feather: A Bibliophile Mystery by Kate Carlisle - Background shows a door open to a garden with a cat chasing a butterfly - Foreground shows a John James Audubon book with an ornate knife on it, a blue jay sitting on a pair of needle-nose pliers, and a cutting mat with an exacto knife and thread.

Book #10 – Books of a Feather – 4.5 out of 5 stars

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While I didn’t enjoy Books of a Feather quite as much as I did Ripped from the Pages, it was still a very good book. I liked it, it just didn’t bump Ripped from the Pages out of its spot as “favorite”. We get to learn more about Derek from his friend, Crane, in this book, which I thought was great. There’s also lots of great information about John James Audubon in this book which I also enjoyed. Check it out! 🙂

 

All of these mini reviews have been leading up to my review of the newest Bibliophile Mystery, “Once Upon a Spine”, which will be up in another day or two!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Swallow’s Nest – REVIEW

4 out of 5 stars.

Today, I’m happy to bring you a review of the newest book by Emilie Richards, The Swallow’s Nest. For the most part, I really enjoyed this book, but I’ll explain why it only received four stars down below.

Book Cover: The Swallow's Nest by Emilie Richards - a young white woman with long dark brown hair holding a curly, blond haired toddler boy.

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alternating line of short green 6-hole birdhouse, short blue & red 1-hole birdhouse with a star, and tall 3-hole yellow birdhouse with heart
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Synopsis

When Lilia Swallow’s husband, Graham, goes into remission after a challenging year of treatment for lymphoma, the home and lifestyle blogger throws a party. Their best friends and colleagues attend to celebrate his recovery, but just as the party is in full swing, a new guest arrives. She presents Lilia with a beautiful baby boy, and vanishes.

Toby is Graham’s darkest secret, his son, conceived in a moment of despair. Lilia is utterly unprepared for the betrayal the baby represents, and perhaps more so for the love she begins to feel once her shock subsides. Now this unasked-for, precious gift becomes a life-changer for three women: Lilia, who takes him into her home and heart; Marina, who bore and abandoned him until circumstance and grief change her mind; and Ellen, who sees in him a chance to correct the mistakes she made with her own son, Toby’s father.

A custody battle begins, and each would-be mother must examine her heart, confront her choices and weigh her dreams against the fate of one vulnerable little boy. Each woman will redefine family, belonging and love and the results will alter the course of not only their lives, but also the lives of everyone they care for.

line of 5 birds' nests with 5 eggs inside each
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Review

I really enjoyed the first half of this book. The story moved along at a decent pace, the characters were great, it was a delightful read. However, I only gave this book four stars because I felt the second half of the book was just way too long. I felt like it could have been about a third of the length it was and we still would have gotten all the pertinent information.

Our characters are all very strong-willed women. One of them doesn’t seem as strong-willed, but she finds her way and finds her backbone along the way. I enjoyed the interactions between the women and between the men in their lives for the most part. I’m not big on conflict, so of course those pieces weren’t so fun, but strong-willed women make some of the best characters in the world because they know what they want and they go for it with no punches pulled and no holds barred.

The setting descriptions were enough that I was able to imagine the places where the story took place and weren’t too overdone. I’m not always easy to please in this area, so it was nice to see these done well.

As I said above, the pace in the first half of the book was great. We moved along steadily and yet we weren’t moving along so fast that we missed important details. However, I really felt like the second half of the book dragged on and on. I felt that the second half could’ve been cut down to even a third of its original size and we still would have had enough details about the custody struggle.

The overall writing style is good. The prose flows well from section to section, chapter to chapter. I still recommend this book for those who like to read women’s fiction. Perhaps your view on the second half of the book will vary from mine!

alternating line of short green 6-hole birdhouse, short blue & red 1-hole birdhouse with a star, and tall 3-hole yellow birdhouse with heart
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BOOK TAG – This or That

Today I’m bringing you another book tag. I wanted to be bringing you another review today, but while my migraine has died down a bit since the heat died down a bit, the ability to concentrate and think has not really come back. Consequently, I haven’t been able to concentrate much on reading or writing.

Since I didn’t want to go too long in between blog posts, I figured a book tag post would be a good way to post without having to worry about too much concentration!

“This Or That”

The Rules:

  • Mention the creator of the tag (Ayunda @ Tea and Paperbacks).
  • Thank the blogger who tagged you!
  • Choose one of the options, you don’t have to tell the reasons why you chose that but you can also do them if you want to.
  • Tag 10 other people to do this tag to spread the love!

 

I wasn’t particularly tagged, but I know that Jay over at this-is-my-truth-now has done this tag in the past and said for anyone who wants to do it to do it.

 

1) Reading on the couch or on the bed?

Usually on the couch. I’m not as young as I used to be and my back doesn’t like it when I’m lying down and reading. Plus my bed isn’t that comfortable for sitting on, even when propped up with pillows.

 


2) Male or female main character?

Either is fine with me. Many of the books I read seem to have female characters, but I have nothing against male characters.


3) Sweet snacks or salty snacks when reading?

Salty – most definitely salty. Usually popcorn or Chex mix.


4) Trilogies or Quartets?

Ummm. I’ve read more trilogies so I’m going to say trilogies. The few quartets that I’ve read, I’ve enjoyed, I just haven’t read very many. On the other hand, I’ve read many, many trilogies and I enjoy them a lot.


5) First or Third person POV?

I actually prefer third person POV. When it’s a first person POV, half the time I forget the character’s name and then when someone calls their name, I have no idea who they’re talking about!


6) Reading at night or in the morning?

Umm… all of the above and everywhere in between. I’m almost always reading. It’s my number one hobby. Yes, I paint ceramics, take nature photography, have a water garden, and make other art, but reading is my number one hobby so I’m almost always reading, no matter what time of day it is.


7) Libraries or bookstores?

Both. I know, I’m supposed to choose between them, but for me, each has its uses and value to me. I no longer buy books unless I know I’m going to read them more than once or use them frequently. If it’s a favorite author, I’ll pre-order the new book from one of my favorite independent bookstores in town.

If it’s not a book that I’m going to read over and over again or use frequently, I make good use of the library that I work for and the inter-library loan services that are available to me.


8) Books that make you laugh or make you cry?

Books that make me laugh. I think that’s why I like cozy mysteries so much. They usually make me laugh instead of cry. I don’t mind a good book that makes me cry, but I will generally choose books that make me laugh.


9) Black or white covers?

Neither. I prefer colorful covers. 🙂 If it’s too monochrome, I’m not as drawn to it.


10) Character or plot driven stories?

Character driven. I prefer those much more. I can handle a not-so-great plot as long as the characters are great, but if the characters are bad, it doesn’t matter how good the plot is, I’m still not going to enjoy the book.

 

I’m not tagging anyone in particular. If you want to tag yourself – go for it. 🙂 It’s always fun getting to know other bloggers!

Migraines and Summer Reading Games

Yes, I know, that’s kind of a crazy title. It got you reading more, didn’t it? 😉

This past weekend was almost a washout. I had a migraine both days (still do actually tho’ the pain is dull – damn heat and humidity).

Saturday, I had things that I really had to do. I volunteered Saturday morning (I’ll talk about where I volunteer another time) and thankfully my head wasn’t hurting too much yet.

Saturday afternoon, I had a “Celebration of life” party for a friend who passed away last month. We were college roommates way back when and then found each other on Facebook. Migraine or no migraine, there was no way I was missing that. I was glad I went. I was able to see another friend that I don’t get to see often and meet his family. The party was just beautiful. Ange was a huge sports fan so it was all decorated in her sports team colors – the Detroit Lions, the Detroit Red Wings, University of Michigan football, and the Detroit Tigers. They roasted a whole pig, had a bouncy house for the kiddos, plus horseshoes and other outdoor games. I’m really glad I went even if being out in the sun made my head hurt worse.

Sunday was definitely a washout. I stayed in bed most of the day. I finally got up around 5pm, watched some NCIS: New Orleans and sorted out a few papers. Even today, I don’t feel real great, but that’s going to be par for the course this week since it’s supposed to be in the upper 80s/low 90s almost all week here in Michigan. Yippie.

On the other hand, this week is kind of exciting. The library I work for has a HUGE Summer Game. It goes far beyond the “normal” Summer Reading program. There’s the classic game where kids read ten books and teens read five books and they each get a free book to keep. Adults read five books and get a fine forgiveness coupon. Then there’s the extended game. The extended game includes scavenger hunts in the library branches and in the library catalog for codes. You can submit those codes for points and then when the summer game shop opens, you can spend those points on things such as tote bags, picnic blankets, hats, t-shirts, etc. Sometimes the clues and scavenger hunts will take you out into the community to our local parks or specific neighborhoods. It’s TONS of fun and very addicting. Every event has a code throughout the summer as well, so the more events you attend, the more codes you can get! The more codes you get, the more points you get. The more points you get, the more you can get from the shop. It’s so much fun and I’m excited about it starting again! 🙂

It’s a LOT of work for many of my fellow librarians but as a patron, it’s just tons and tons of fun and I’m appreciative of all the work my colleagues put into it.

Does your library have anything fun for Summer Reading? Are you planning on anything else fun for the summer? 🙂